Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thoughts On Easter...

First off, here's a fun photo of my kids with their cousins (from my side of the family) taken on Easter Sunday as we gathered together to share an Easter meal.

It is now Tuesday morning. As I sit here to begin my work week in the quietness of my home office (note: the kids are now back at school!) I take a moment to reflect back on the weekend that just passed. Easter is indeed a great reminder of why we fully give ourselves away for the work of God. Because of what our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, did for us on the cross and because of His resurrection, our labour in Him is never in vain! I love these verses from 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (NIV) ---
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
What an awesome picture! Can you visualize it? It is truly amazing! This is why we must give ourselves away tirelessly --- because people need to hear of God's saving grace. As part of the core team of The Sanctuary Pickering, we have been going through a 6-week leadership training course. The leader said something that really stuck with me. He said that even though people are spiritual beings, most act like human beings! Especially to those of us who have access to the power of the Holy Spirit in us: are we living (as we should) like spiritual beings having a human experience or are we living like human beings having a spiritual experience? That spoke volumes to me. A lot of times, I am limited by what I think is humanly possible. I often do not take into account that I am able to "do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 (NASB). What an awesome thought! May we all live like spiritual beings having a human experience and know that we can "overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV).

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." ---1 Peter 4:10-12 (NIV)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. As special as Resurrection Sunday already is to us, yesterday was even more special! Our whole church planting team headed off to Oakville, Ontario to attend our parent church's Easter Sunday service because we were being commissioned for the ministry that is ahead of us here in the Durham Region as a body of Christ! It was definitely a significant moment in the young life of this church plant. After the service, all 40+ of us invaded a local Swiss Chalet for lunch...so much fun! All in all, it was a GREAT day!

Although this was a 'corporate' event, God made sure He made it personally significant for me and my family as well. In my mind, this commissioning service marked the 'formal' beginning of this church plant. But the 'official' beginning for us really happened a few months back on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day when, after months of seeking God's will, everything culminated with God pointing us towards a specific direction. At that point, God made it crystal clear to hubby and me that we were to leave our home church and join this church planting team.

Here's what blew me away --- Acts 2:45-47 was one of the main passages of scripture that yesterday's sermon was based upon. On New Year's Eve, this is what God spoke to us about as a family unit during our yearend family devotion time. Coincidence? I think not! God wanted to show us a connection between the 'formal' beginning and the 'official' beginning of this church plant.

Wait, there's more! During the actual commissioning prayer, the verses from Joshua 1:6-9 were quoted and prayed over us. Now, take a look here --- these are the very same verses God gave to me on New Year's Day during my personal devotion time! Again, coincidence? I think not! Yet another connection between the 'formal' start and the 'official' start of this church plant! I couldn't believe my ears when I heard those two scripture passages being quoted yesterday.

My God is indeed awesome!!! What a great way to 'formally' start our ministry in the Durham Region with The Sanctuary Pickering. I am excited to see what God has in store for us in this leg of the journey through life. I think it's going to be a WILD RIDE!!!

Joshua 1:5b-6, 8-9 (NIV) --- "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) --- "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We Are More Than Halfway...

...through March! Yipee!!!

It's actually been not-too-bad at all. By God's grace, I've been juggling everything that is/was in store for me in March pretty well. Although one thing I haven't been able to do much is blog! So, here's a hodge podge of an entry to make up for that last 18 days...

Let's see...first off, work! I've been able to constantly put in 4-5 hours each day for work...so I'm not stressed about that anymore. Next, my daughter's Destination Imagination team has been working very hard and their presentation is actually coming together quite nicely. If they place first or second at the Ontario Tournament at the end of this month, we are heading to Tennessee for the Global Finals! Ahhh! We'll have to cross that bridge when/if we get there...but it's good to dream, right? The team is very excited and looking forward to doing their best at the Ontario Tournament.

Let's see...what else? Oh yes! We survived March Break even though the flu bug paid us a visit. Also, I am proud to say that my family has been very well fed throughout this busy month. We've hardly had to eat out or order take out. The frozen meals from the cookbook The Big Cook have fed us well!!!

Let's see...another thing to blog about is the food drive that we did with our church plant, The Sanctuary Pickering. It was held on Friday, March 14. Hubby, the kids and I decided that we would grab a bite at the local Wendy's before heading over to the public school where we were supposed to congregate with the rest of the team. While we were eating our dinner, I looked out the window and saw a woman holding a sign saying: "Have two kids to feed, will work for food." Now, she caught my attention right away because it is rather strange to see a person begging for food here in the suburbs! In fact, I've never seen anyone do that in our neck of the woods before, ever! I knew we had to do something for this poor woman. Anyway, we ended up talking to her and giving her a grocery giftcard. We even told her about the Food Bank that we were collecting food for later that evening.

I wonder if God arranged for that to happen! We weren't even supposed to eat dinner at Wendy's that night. I had planned on making dinner but the day kind of ran away from me. Going to Wendy's was a last minute decision. You see, I think God wanted to show me that there is a purpose to the food drive that we were doing because in the weeks leading up to the event, I found myself questioning the need for it. I asked myself questions like: Are there really hungry people in the suburbs?... I've never seen them here... Homelessness and hunger is a downtown problem!... What is the purpose of this food drive?... I guess God wanted to show me!!!

Now, about the actual food drive itself...

We walked around a whole neighbourhood from 6pm to 8pm knocking on doors, introducing ourselves and asking for food donations. The kids were such troopers, walking alongside us and pulling the wagon the whole way. Wouldn't you believe it, by the end of those two hours, we had collected in total over 750 pounds of food which we turned over to the local Food Bank! The food filled 15 huge plastic storage bins. It was an awesome experience. Plus, God took care of all the details, He even held the rain back and gave us great walking weather!

Truly, our God is awesome and He is good!

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: 'He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.' " ---2 Corinthians 9:7-9 (NIV)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March Already?

Is it truly March already? This is going to be a very b-u-s-y month for me. I am coming into this month feeling some dread (just a little!), but at the same time with lots of anticipation and excitement. Things seem to be coming into a collision course for me in March.

First on the list, my workload will pick up after a lull in January and Feburary which translates into working more hours each week in order to meet my deadline.

Next on the list, my daughter's Destination Imagination team, which I co-manage with another mom, will be competing at the provincial tournament on Saturday, March 29. Since the Fall, my daughter and her friends have been working on their central challenge and practicing their instant challenges very diligently. But there is still MUCH work to be done in order for the team to be ready for competition so that is weighing heavily on my mind as well.

Another thing on the list --- exciting developments relating to the church plant! Things are starting to happen. We are now officially known as The Sanctuary Pickering. Our first outreach event, a food drive, will be happening on Friday, March 14. We are praying for a positive response from the community and a successful result as well for the food bank that we are supporting. A few details still have to come together in order for this event to be successful and those things are occupying part of my brain as well...

And...did you know that there are only 12 school days in March because of March Break and Easter? This means that my kids will be home quite a bit this month so I will have to wear the "mommy hat" a little more than most other months of the year! So, the homefront will be a busy one, abuzz with activities!

A friend of mine recently introduced me to The Big Cook and I know it will be a huge help for me this month. I have already tried packing and freezing some of the recipes and I am loving the convenience it offers! I am planning to pack and freeze 12 additional meals today in order to tide us over this busy month.

So...I am starting this month off with lots of prayer! I know that my God is able to supply me with the peace, discipline, strength, patience, energy and JOY that I need for each and every day of this month.

At the same time though, I will be honest and say that I am looking forward to when the calendar strikes March 31!!!

"Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." ---Psalm 29: 1-2, 11 NIV