The Healing

Written by: Carolyn Ruttan

Back when I was a small child I suffered from epilepsy.  There were times when I would wake up in the hospital having no recollection of how I got there. Every time the answer was the same. “You had a convulsion.”  I don’t remember having them but I do recall one time being told that I had been playing at the school playground with some neighbourhood friends. I had a spell and had fallen off the monkey bars.  The school was just a few doors down from our home and one of my friends ran told my mom that I had fallen and wouldn’t get up.  Nowadays a parent would never send a child that young to play in the park without adult supervision. I guess times were different back then.

One time it happened on a Sunday morning, and I distinctly remember asking the Dr. what day it was. When he told me it was Sunday I told him, “Well, you had better let me out of here. I have to go to church!”

When I was a little girl, I truly loved Jesus with all my heart.   I loved going to church, learning about him, and loved the worship service.  One Sunday night there was a huge snow storm. Due to the storm the special speaker from the morning was stranded and unable to make his next speaking engagement. So, our pastor invited him to speak in the evening service. He spoke on healing.  I don’t recall any of his sermon but I do know that I sure didn’t want to have epilepsy anymore. I heard that Jesus would heal me!

The preacher called people forward that wanted to be healed. You can be sure I went. I believed with all my 6 year old little heart that Jesus would make me all better! I was standing beside a friend at the time and the minister laid hands on both of us at the same time. His prayer went something like this…”Father we pray for this brother and sister.” He didn’t get to finish because I interrupted him and said, “he is not my brother!” I know now that wasn’t what he meant :-0) I didn’t question if I was healed or not.  No, I simply believed Jesus healed me; no doubt whatsoever. I don’t think the thought crossed my mind that it might not happen. Oh to have that childlike faith today!  No seeds of doubt planted in my heart.

The next morning came and my mom had my pills set aside for me to take. I was on dilantin and phenobarb. I told her “I don’t need those pills anymore, Jesus healed me! ”My mom was very concerned and still wanted me to take them.  As a mom I totally understand her thinking and might be the same way if I were in her shoes. She was afraid of something happening; worried about her little girl having yet another seizure. My dad has always been rather calm, easy going and relaxed, and he calmed her down. “Just wait and see.” He didn’t want to destroy the faith that I had at 6 years old. Still, a phone call was made to my teacher in the morning explaining the situation of me going to school without medication.  Basically she asked my teacher to keep an eye on me.

Well, from that snowy winter’s eve on, I never again took another pill for epilepsy .I was completely healed.

Psalm 73:26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart: he is mine forever.

Psalm. 103:2,3 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.  He forgives my sins and heals all my diseases.

Psalm 41:3 The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.

Fashioned for a Sacred Calling

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I believe I’ve had many callings in my thirty years on this earth. Some of the callings have just been for a season, while others will last until I breathe my last breath. One of the callings that God has drawn me to in this season of my life; is being a wife.

Sounds cliché, I know, but it’s the truth.

I met Nathan when I was just 18 years old. I had one other short relationship with a guy I quickly discerned I had no future with; so I ended the relationship. My relationship with Nathan however began much differently; we were friends first. As our friendship grew, so did our love for one another- and so goes our story.

Almost as quickly as I agreed to date Nathan, I knew he’d be the man I would one day marry. The Lord worked hard and fast on our hearts to bring us to the conclusion that we would begin a life of ministry together; as a married couple. We said ‘I do’ a couple months after my 20th birthday and began full-time ministry a few weeks after that.

My calling, however, is not limited to ministry for those in attendance at our local church, or in our community. My ministry begins at home; as a wife. I believe I have been fashioned for this sacred calling; being a wife.

There are many things that make up my ministry or calling as Nathan’s wife, but three stand out amongst all the rest.

1) To respect him.
….and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

2) To be his helper.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

3) To love him.
….love their husbands…. (Titus 2:4)

You see, sisters, being a wife to Nathan is most definitely a sacred calling. The Lord joined us together because as a team we are so much better than we are individually. As I voluntarily respect, help, love and honour him, I am helping him fulfill his responsibilities, and I am helping him become the man, the husband, and the leader God intended him to be.

Are you fashioned for a sacred calling? What does that look like for you?

Church of Christ, Arise

Written by: Conny Varga

To many of us, they have no name, no face. They’re a statistic, a number, an uneasy feeling to be brushed aside. Orphans are a shocking and heart-rending reminder of the broken world we live in, and in an effort to quiet our conscience, we turn away, shielding our eyes from the horrors and closing our ears to their cries. But what if we allowed ourselves – if only for a moment – to look at them, see their faces, hear their beautiful names, and listen to their stories? What if we were bold enough to step out of our comfort zone and into their world?

Orphans have a special place in God’s heart, and He has much to say to the Church about them. From cover to cover, there are dozens of verses that instruct us to care for them, remember them, defend them, speak up for them, and not take advantage of them. Both in the Old and New Testament alike, the same commandment is made.

In Isaiah 1:17, God instructs us to “defend the cause of the fatherless.

In James we find: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (Jas 1:27)

Maybe you feel the Holy Spirit urging you to take action, but you don’t know where to begin. Maybe you have been sponsoring a child in a third-world country, but you would like to do more. God is inviting you to join Him in His fight for the most vulnerable people on earth – will you accept His call?

Begin by praying and studying what the Word of God has to say about the issue. Surround yourself with people who are involved in and passionate about orphan care. And as you listen to the Spirit, He will direct you in the way that you personally can serve “the least of these”. But beware, it will never seem convenient or easy. Helping orphans is a spiritual battle. Whatever God cares deeply about, Satan will try to destroy – be prepared! To become involved in God’s work is not for the faint of heart. But it is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do!

November 12, 2017 is Global Orphan Sunday. Take this opportunity to join in with the countless other Christians around the world to remember the little Forgotten Treasures.

  • Pray for the millions of orphans worldwide. Pray for the thousands of orphans in your own country. Pray by yourself; pray with your family, with your friends, your church.
  • Pray for the many foster and adoptive families who have stepped forward to embrace some of these children.
  • Raise awareness in your sphere of influence. Maybe even organize a fundraiser or information session.
  • Research good and reputable organizations who are involved in orphan care and begin supporting them. Find a good child sponsorship program and become involved.
  • Consider visiting an orphanage and helping with their needs.
  • Help out at your local Child Protection Agency, or a good local Christian Adoption agency. They always seem to be looking for volunteers.
  • Open your heart to the possibility that God may be calling you to foster or adopt.

Fifteen years ago, Orphan Sunday had its humble beginnings in a small native church in Zambia, and it has since opened the eyes and changed the hearts of many Christians worldwide. Church of Christ, let us arise and defend the cause of the fatherless!


https://cafo.org/orphansunday/ (scroll down to 2017 Orphan Sunday video & click “play”)

https://cafo.org/orphansunday/broadcast/ (watch Zambia’s gift to the world for more information on the beginnings of Orphan Sunday)

Remembrance

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

One of my husband’s favourite days of the year is Remembrance Day, commemorated on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th hour.  He takes this day very seriously and spends time reflecting on the lives lost in sacrifice to save his.

He proudly wears his red poppy, ensuring that each of us, in his family, has one to display as well.  He has attended Remembrance Day Services at the local Cenotaph to pay tribute to those who fought, and continue to fight, for our freedom today.  He ensures that on the Sunday before Remembrance Day, the church also pays it tribute and spends time praying for those who continue to work to ensure our safety.

No matter where he is on the 11th day of that 11th month he stops to pay his two minutes of respectful silence for the fallen in the 11th hour.  I commend him for his remembrance, year after year, and thank him for instilling in our family such a respect for the lives lost, and the lives that still fight, for all that we enjoy in the present.

This coming weekend will hold another Remembrance Day; November 11, 2017.  Another opportunity for us to stop and reflect on all that was done for us by people that didn’t even know us.  They laid down their lives in sacrifice so that generations of people to follow could walk in freedom.  This is mind blowing when you really stop and think about it.  They did this for us!  People unknown to them; people unrelated to them; people far removed from them.

Upon further reflection, I can’t help but remember afresh another life that was laid down for me many, many years ago.  A spotless life devoid of evil and sin.  A sacrificial life devoid of selfish ambition.  A loving life devoid of corrupt hatred.  A forgiving life devoid of condemnation.  A gracious life devoid of cruelty.  That life was Jesus Christ, who left heaven to walk this earth in order to understand the very humanity He created.  He who loved His people so much, He endured a horrid death and glorious resurrection for the sake of spiritual freedom for all who would choose to follow Him.  All this was done for us by a God who did know us before the foundations of the world! (Ephesians 1:4)

As I approach this weekend, and the Remembrance Day it holds, I will definitely pay my respect to all those who laid down their lives for my freedom in this temporal world.  For the privileges afforded to me and the security I find living in Canada.  For the ability to work and play in a land at peace.  But, I will also give greater thanks to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the incredible gift of spiritual freedom He has given me through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross and for the eternal peace I will have in heaven through my salvation in Christ.

Let us also approach our monthly times of Communion with even greater respect as we remember what Jesus accomplished on that old rugged tree.  Let our remembrance be more meaningful and reflective than ever before as we take the emblems to our lips.

“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  1 Corinthians 11:23-26

God’s Direction vs God’s Voice

Written by: Nathan Hill

Whenever people come to me confused about God’s will for their life, I usually begin the conversation the same way each time. You see, some of what God has planned for our lives is the same stuff he has planned for the life of any Christian, and we can discover these things in the Scriptures. Jesus commissioned all of us to go into the world and create disciples, baptising and teaching them (Matthew 28:19–20). God also wants us all to live lives of holiness (Psalm 102:2), and never lose sight of the immanent return of Christ in everything that we do (Matthew 25:13). These are just a few of the many things we can find in Scripture that ought to characterize our lives. I call these God’s directions.

When it comes to God’s voice, this is something entirely different. This is where the uniqueness of our gifts and the way we were created comes into play, and through hearing God’s voice we are able to become more completely in tune with who we are—professionals would call this self-actualization, although they would not always list God as the source of this. Discerning God’s voice is a little different than hearing God through Scripture—it takes a sustained relationship with God and input from the faith community to accurately discern God’s voice. Oh, and God’s voice will never contradict God’s direction in Scripture…and so to the couple I knew from years ago who wanted to divorce and take new spouses because God’s voice and direction was telling them to “do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19)…you’ve mistaken God’s voice for a lie and completely misread God’s directions in Scripture. We know we have stumbled upon something great when we find a synthesis between God’s direction in Scripture, the prompting of God’s voice in our hearts, and the confirmation of these two things from trusted praying peers in the faith community.

Elijah was a prophet that was well-versed in God’s direction and God’s voice. 1 Kings 18 records the story of Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al—they each built an alter to their god and agreed that the god who responded with fire and consumed the sacrifice was the one true God. If you have not read this story, beware of the forthcoming spoiler alert—Ba’al did not answer, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did. This is a wonderful demonstration of God’s sovereign power, and I have often felt envious of Elijah, wishing that I would some day have the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of God in a powerful setting of unbelievers.

I was reminded of something, however, when I recently read the Elijah story in 1 Kings. This showdown was not orchestrated by the genius of Elijah alone—rather, Elijah was responding to the voice of God directing him. God instructed Elijah to engage the prophets of Ba’al in this very way. This is important because when we want to take bold steps of faith and do things for God, we ought to make sure that we are hearing a combination of God’s direction and God’s voice. At times this will be easily discernable, but at other times we will need our faithful prayer peers it the faith to weigh in with their discernment as well. This is somewhat refreshing, as it simplifies our life—we just need to follow God’s voice.

Still, if we were called to do something in our world today like Elijah did with the prophets of Ba’al, we might find that obedience is more than just a simple matter.

Greater Than Our Circumstances

Written by: Christianne Williams

Soft ocean breezes.  The smell of salt in the air and the sound of gulls flying overhead.  Walking barefoot in the sand everyday in the summer, getting a free pedicure. Every. Single. Time.  I grew up on the coast, surrounded by water, on an island connected by a mile -long white sand beach with a causeway to the mainland.  Hearing the crashing of the waves on summer nights as I drifted off to sleep; watching the sun glisten off the water; collecting shells, standing in the small pools left behind when the tide went out.  Hunting for sea glass, dodging jellyfish, and having seaweed fights marked most summer afternoons and evenings.

As I got older, I enjoyed sitting on the shore on a towel because I really don’t like sand all that much, as I would stare out at the sea.  There were days when it was calm and the waves rippled in.  Other times the waves reached the shore with a little more force, it was a little louder and the whitecaps were more frequent.   And then, in a storm, the waves would crash against the shore consistently, with little rest between breakers.

Matthew 8:23-27 gives an account of a storm that arose suddenly as Jesus and the disciples were rowing across a lake.  It was a furious storm, with waves sweeping over the boat.  When I read that, I put myself in their sandals, trying to feel what they might have felt.  Feeling the boat toss, not knowing what to do, and having no idea what was going to happen.  They went and woke Jesus, who was sleeping, fearing they would drown.  They were amazed when He spoke to the winds and waves and they obeyed Him, yet just a few verses before, it says they had just witnessed many miracles He performed for others.

They had moved from a place of watching to a position of receiving.  They were now the ones in need of intervention from the Anointed One.  They were now experiencing some of what they had earlier witnessed.  They knew they needed to ask Him to save them, but from their reaction, did they really expect that He could do anything to prevent them from what they perceived to be a certain death?

I know how powerful waves can be during a storm, for them to be instantly calmed would be a miraculous thing.  Sometimes after a tropical storm the waves linger for days, so for the lake to be again smooth so suddenly couldn’t be explained as anything but a miracle.  The power of the wind and waves is no big deal for God.  The situation looked bleak but there was One who brought peace in the middle of that furious storm on that lake that day.  The same One who brought that peace is there to bring peace to us in the middle of whatever storm we find ourselves in right now.  Just like the wind and waves, our circumstances are no match for our God.

He really impressed on me the other day, while I was at work, not really asking for anything specific, that His goodness is greater than our circumstances.  Our situation may not be good, but His character is unchanging, and He can’t be anything other than who He is.  His heart toward us is one of love, it’s compassionate, and never failing.  He will never turn a deaf ear to you, He will never forsake you, He will never leave you alone.

One word from Him and things change.  He calls all things into order, He speaks peace and life into all the dark places of our hearts.  He overwhelms us with His goodness and compassion, loving us far too much to leave us alone in the middle of our storm.  Call out to Him, tell Him how much you trust Him, even if you don’t ‘feel’ like you do.  I can tell you from experience that the more you hear those words come out of your mouth, the more convinced you’ll be that He will calm your storm.

A Quenchable Thirst

By: Cindy Morrone

One of my most treasured Bible stories is about the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42) at the well that met up with a man that changed her life. She had come to draw water at a time of day where as to most likely avoid others, but this day there was a man at the well and the man asked her to give him a drink.

This startled her for so many desperate reasons. He was of a kind that was to despise hers; He knew of her sinful circumstances and yet, He reached out to her and offered her an alternative. I love this story so much because I was like her.

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” “(John 4:13 &14)

I was so much like her, living in sin and hiding from my shame, until I met Him.

..a spring of water welling up to eternal life….

And when I confessed with my mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I was saved! (Romans 10:9) I received eternal life!!

This story recently came to my thoughts again, as I was praying during feelings of doubt, fear and insecurities. And as I cried out to my Lord, He met me again and whispered a reminder that I shall thirst no more. I have everything I need in Christ no matter the circumstances, no matter what I can ‘see’ with my eyes, no matter the situation. He is all that I need and His promises and faithfulness cause victory over all!

Dear Heavenly and Gracious Father,
We cannot in our mere words thank You for the offer and gift of salvation; eternal life. For forgiveness that comes by Your shed blood. That we can come to You, and You are waiting for us, just as we are in our sin and shame. Lord, God, we confess with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord” and we believe in our hearts that You are raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of our Father. As we confess we have faith that eternal life is ours and life abundantly (John 10:10). We don’t want to thirst anymore! Amen!

 

The Plastics

Written by: Sarah Walker

“For we have all sinned and fall short the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

When I was in high school, a movie came out called “Mean Girls.” It was about a group of popular girls at a high school, who are nicknamed “The Plastics.” On the outside, they appear flawless. Their outer appearance is always perfect; they seemingly have it all together – the right clothes, cars, boyfriends, and social life. As the movie title implies, even though they look pretty on the outside, they are not so nice on the inside.

“The Plastics” sometimes remind me of a lot of us Christians! Maybe not the “mean” part so much, but the plastic-y part for sure! By all appearances, we try to look perfect in every way. We always have a smile on our face, we are dressed in church-appropriate clothes, and we say and do all the “right things”. We put on a good show!

Deep down, however, you can still find all of our flaws and sins, and all of our struggles, as hard as we try to show the world that they aren’t there.

I knew two lovely ladies both going through difficult times. I asked them both how they were doing.

The first replied with a big smile and an upbeat tone, ““Oh just great, things are going well! Thank you for asking!”

We both knew what she was facing, but for my genuine concern, I was met with a very “plastic” answer!

When I asked the other lady how she was doing, she said, ““Some days are a lot harder than others. I am just trusting in God to help me through.”

With this honesty and transparency, her response was refreshing. She easily admitted that she was struggling, and because of her faith and trust in Jesus, she actually ended up encouraging my own faith life!

There is something really attractive to me about a Christ-follower who is not afraid to be exactly who they are – just a regular person, striving to know Jesus better, someone who is putting all their hope and trust in Him, despite their very real imperfections and tough circumstances.

I keep an actual list of sins that I struggle with. I don’t like having this list written down of my flaws, but when I read through them, I am always reminded that I fall short.

Does this mean that I justify my sinfulness and say “this is just who I am”?

No!

This means that I admit that at times I can be judgmental, prideful, rude, mean, impatient….. (OK, you get the picture!) I am not going to just give in to these behaviours. My list is a reminder that I can do nothing to change who I am without God’s help. I am trusting in Jesus:

“For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

I am in the process of “being made holy.” Thankfully, I am not the person I was ten years ago when I first said “yes” to Jesus! I am also not the person I could be yet. I am in process.

As I continue in my relationship with Him, I trust that tomorrow, I will not be the same person I am today. I trust that I will have more patience, that I will be quicker to love and less quick to judge, that I will remember that I don’t have it all together, and that I should be loving, even to those who are not loving towards me.

King David is an incredible example of being “non-plastic”:

“For troubles without number surround me, my sins have over taken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails with in me…” (Psalm 40:12)

“Why are you downcast; O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11)

I love how David (called “a man after God’s own heart,”) never sugarcoats his circumstances or his sin, and yet he stands firm in his trust and hope in God. He is honest, and he is real – honest about his many shortcomings, but also honest in his absolute dependence on God in spite of them.

If I don’t admit that I am sick or in trouble, how will anyone know to pray for me? If I don’t confess that my kids are driving me crazy today, how will anyone support me? If I don’t tell someone that I’m really struggling to resist sin in some area of my life, who will come to help me? Our bumpy circumstances don’t magically go away when we refuse to admit we need help. We need to confess our brokenness and go to God in prayer, and ask others to help us through, because none of us have this all figured out!

There is incredible beauty in our brokenness. The heart of the Gospel is ACKNOWLEDGING our sin, our weakness, our inadequacy – through our weakness God’s power is made perfect, so let’s avoid trying to cover it up with a big plastic smile when we’re having a rough time. Then, we can get the help and support we need, and can be there to help and support others too!

Do THIS Often for One Another…

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James‬ ‭5‬:‭16-17)

During our thirteen years of marriage, my husband have been through some pretty rough waters.

I specifically remember when I was pregnant with our daughter. My soul was stirred often to pray for her safety….I would share this with my husband and he would usually take the lead and pray.

There was nothing about my pregnancy that gave us reason to believe we were in for a rough journey ahead. My pregnancy was textbook; until I woke up the morning I entered 32 weeks gestation, delivering her just a few short hours later, prematurely. The days that followed were exhausting and scary. However, God had prepared our hearts, He urged us to pray; and we now have a beautiful miracle named Sophia to remind us of those times we spent seeking The Lord for her safety.

There are many more moments we can recount, where we sought the Lord together. Many times when I felt too weak to call out, and my husband took the lead. Others, when my husband would ask me to intercede on his behalf. There’s something incredibly intimate about seeking The Lord together.

I love the scripture from James 5:16-17: “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”

Sometimes, in ministry especially, there are few people I feel I can really trust. My husband, however, has been proven to be a real pillar of strength when life seems overwhelming. Holding his hand and praying together is not only comforting, but it also makes our relationship stronger. I count it my privilege to intercede on his behalf as well, it’s something I don’t take lightly.

Can your spouse count on you to lift up his/her needs if they ask? If this is something difficult for you both, plan a time to discuss solutions in making it easier.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful treasure of marriage. Jesus, I ask that You will constantly remind us to share with our spouse our prayer requests, and spend precious moments in prayer for them daily! Let us take these requests seriously, and count it as a blessing and a privilege to lift our spouse up to You. In Jesus name, amen.

People Pleasing

Written by: Conny Varga

I am a people-pleaser. Many times, that can be a good thing. But sometimes it’s not. If you are anything like me, you know what I’m talking about. You know the times when we choose not to speak up just because we don’t want to upset others. When our actions are driven by the worry about what others will think of us. When we compromise our values for the sake of pleasing someone else. When we feel guilty every time we fail to meet the needs of a loved one. Or when someone criticizes us for something that isn’t even our fault and we feel that we need to appease that person. That’s when being a pleaser can be an incredibly heavy burden on our backs that we cannot easily rid ourselves of. We never feel free to be the person God really created us to be. By forever trying to make everyone around us happy, we take our eyes off the unchanging truth of God and His word, we forget that we are unique and loved by Him just as we are, and in essence, we consider man’s approval to be of more value than God’s.

Does that sound familiar to you? I do believe that God instructs and expects us to put the needs of others before our own and serve them with selfless love. However, we were never meant to elevate people’s needs above God’s will and desire for our lives.

Besides, doesn’t it make us feel tired, weary, and stressed? Isn’t it overwhelming to constantly worry about others’ opinions, and feeling pressured to say “yes” all the time? To live in fear of others’ disapproval? That is NOT what our loving Father intended for our lives! He did not intend for us to take on burdens that we were never meant to carry.

If you’ve ever been to Germany, you may have noticed that no matter where you go, homes and yards are well-kept, streets are swept, people are dressed nicely when leaving the house, and cars are washed. There is a high cultural expectation to take care of yourself and your possessions, and not to embarrass yourself or your neighbours. I grew up in that culture and was steeped in that mindset. And then – I got married! I have the extreme privilege to be married to a man who is pretty much the opposite of me, in pretty much every way. Very early in our marriage, when I began to stress over what I perceived to be expectations of others, my dear godly husband would look at me and ask, “Why are you so worried about what other people think??” Well, I’ve been married for 16 years, and I am still learning. It is not easy to let go of other people’s opinions and only seek to please our Heavenly Father. Yet that is what He clearly expects of us! In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul described how some people had criticized him for his writing style and personality, for the words he was speaking and the actions he was taking. Paul rose above the criticism, went on to point out that we are quick to “judge by appearances” (v. 7), and then he made this statement:

“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us…For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (vv. 12-13, 18). In other words, don’t look for the approval of others but focus on the service God has assigned to you.

That can be a tough lesson to learn, and as much as I hate to admit it, it takes discipline and conscious choosing to find contentment in God’s approval of us and not replace it with man’s praise. But it is so freeing and worth it! Let’s give our burden to the Lord and wait expectantly for His “well done!”