Thursday, December 31, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #52 --- To Close Out 2009!

New Year's Eve already!!!

I can't believe that I have made it this far --- to the last verse of the year for Memory Verse Monday --- verse #52! I know that this is the second verse this week, but this will make up for that first week way back in January when I didn't have one...

When I decided to start this series of posts way back in January, I was skeptical that I would actually stick with the plan... let alone make it to 52 verses. But my God is gracious --- each and every week He gave me a verse to meditate on --- a verse that has sustained me, encouraged me, grown me, fed me!

So, here's the final verse for this series of posts. It is from...

Psalm 4:7-8 (NLT)
You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

This verse truly sums up 2009 for me. It has been a year of ups and downs, good things and bad, successes and upsets, happiness and brokenness, optimism and discouragement... through it all God has given me greater joy and peace. He indeed is good!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #51

Today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Psalm 91:1 (NIV)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

It is very comforting for me to know that I can always be safe with and find rest in my Heavenly Father!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #50

Christmas week is here!!! Our household is brimming with excitement. The grandparents are here... the presents are wrapped... grocery-shopping is done... get-togethers have been planned... the celebration is about to begin!!!

In light of all that, we surely do not want to forget the WHY of Christmas --- so this week's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Charlie Brown Christmas!

I came across this cute video on Facebook recently... I just had to repost it here:

Please pause the playlist on the sidebar while watching this video.

Jesus is the reason for the season!!!

Memory Verse Monday #49

In honour of the Christmas season, today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Luke 1:28, 30-35, 37-38 (NIV)
The angel went to her (Mary) and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." ...the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. ... For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

Our household is very excited for Christmas... less than two weeks away now!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Have Yourself A Simple Christmas!

Last Christmas, I blogged about celebrating a simple Christmas. Here is this year's promotional video from Advent Conspiracy.

Please pause the playlist on the sidebar while watching this video.

Spread the word. Tell the story.
Have yourself a simple Christmas. We definitely will!
Merry Christmas!!!

Memory Verse Monday #48

Today's passage for Memory Verse Monday is The Magnificat, also known as Mary's Song of Praise.

It is found in Luke 1:46-55 (NLT).

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise
Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
I chose this verse, of course, in honour of the Christmas season. But it was primarily chosen in light of the wonderful concert my daughter and I attended this past weekend called Holiday Sounds of the 20th Century where my sister was the guest soloist for the season opener of the Canadian Sinfonietta. She sang beautifully --- singing none other than John Rutter's Magnificat!

The concert was indeed a wonderful start to our Christmas season. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #47

Happy December... Christmas is surely fast approaching!!! Amid all the hustle and bustle of this busy season, I am using this blog as a place to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas --- that Jesus is the reason for the season!!!

In light of that thought, today's Christmas verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #46

I just realized the other day that Christmas is only about one month away!!! This year is surely zooming by very fast for me. In honour of the season in which we celebrate our Saviour's birth, the next few weeks' verses for Memory Verse Monday will be "Christmas verses". Today's verse comes from...

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Immanuel or Emmanuel or Imanu'el means "God [is] with us". It consists of two Hebrew words: El, meaning 'God' and Immānū, meaning 'with us'.

Our household is looking forward to Christmas --- a simple Christmas! We will celebrate and live out what it means to be a family whose God is with them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shoexbox Packing Party 2009

We had a shoebox packing party for Operation Christmas Child with the kids' cousins from both sides of the family.  They all had lots and lots of fun packing a total of 66 shoeboxes!!!

This is one of our best loved family traditions! 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #45

Today's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

1 Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT)
... but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

Today, I am reflecting upon the road ahead for our church. Our Lead Pastor has just taken on the role of Director of Church Planting for Southern Ontario with Toronto Church Planting and the CNBC --- the organization of which our church is a part of. I am beyond excited! This means that as a local congregation, we have front row seats to this very exciting adventure of planting more churches in Southern Ontario.

It seems like God has given the job of planting to us --- little acorns, one at a time! I know that the road ahead will not be easy, but I also know that it will be full of God-moments --- moments that I would not want to miss for the world!!!

Southern Ontario, here we come --- planting little acorns today, one at a time; growing into majestic oaks tomorrow, all for God's glory!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day. It is a day that I have learned to embrace, value and treasure as a Canadian because having grown up in the Philippines, we were not taught to mark Remembrance Day (or anything similar to it for that matter).

Today would be my 20th Remembrance Day. Over these 20 years, I have learned to understand the deep meaning of this day and my heart mourns deeper and is ever more thankful with each passing year.

So, how will I remember this year? For starters, our church attended the service and parade organized by the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion this past Sunday at the local cenotaph. Afterwards, we offered to help serve lunch at the Legion Hall. It was an awesome Sunday --- I know that God was smiling as we set aside what mattered to us as a church family on a Sunday morning in order to participate in what matters in our community!

Today, hubby and I will attend the Remembrance Day Assembly at our kids' school. Both kids are in the choir --- my daughter is the choir pianist (side note: I am one proud mama!) and my son sings in the choir. They will be doing two songs today --- A Pittance Of Time and Imagine. It will be an awesome day of remembering.

A poem was read out at the service this past Sunday. To me, it sums up what Remembrance Day is all about. Here it is:

It is the VETERAN...

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the VETERAN who salutes the Flag,
It is the VETERAN who serves under the Flag,
Eternal rest grant them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

"This year, make remembrance more than something you feel. Make it something you do." ---Veterans Affairs Canada

Monday, November 9, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #44

This week's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

John 15:7 (NLT)
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

I read this verse during my devotions this morning. What an awesome promise! The only criteria for the fulfillment of this promise is that I make myself at home with Jesus and that His words are at home with me.

What does that exactly mean? When we use the idiom 'make yourself at home', we are telling our guests to be at ease; to act as though they were in their own home. Am I at ease with Jesus? Are His words at ease with me?

Great questions to be asking myself this morning!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Here I Am; Lord, Send Me!

This church planting journey has already taken many twists and turns over its very short life. Most, if not all, of the twists and turns have unexpectedly fallen upon our laps --- surely God's plan, not ours!

I have been reflecting upon these twists and turns over this past week as we get ready to approach yet another exciting twist (or is it a turn?) in this journey --- an opportunity for us to be a vital part in church planting as a whole in Southern Ontario!!! This turn (or is it a twist?) is a HUGE one; it is making me wonder if we are equip to handle such a God-sized assignment!

This morning as I read my devotions, God spoke to me through these verses from Isaiah 55:8-11 (NIV):

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the LORD.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Great reminder --- God's plan never goes unaccomplished! And, He often uses ordinary people to accomplish His plan! The only criteria is obedience.

Here I am; Lord, send me! (paraphrased from Isaiah 6:8)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #43

Today's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

I am thankful for this verse's gentle and subtle reminder; that God has given me a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. God truly knows my heart --- this is exactly what I needed to hear this morning!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Externally Focused Church

I just finished reading The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson. Awesome book!!! Wow, it is very exciting to know that what we are doing at our church is actually being written about in a book.

There are so many good ideas and pointers in the book that I can write a super long blog post about it but I think I'll stick to the main things that spoke to my heart. Here they are:
"Service is only truly service when it is done without the expectation of a payback."

"All of us who know Christ personally would say that he has radically changed our lives. But often we limit these changes to what Christ does in us without allowing him to work through us. To belong to Christ, to be adopted into his family, is to begin to care about what he cares about --- to move outside of ourselves and toward others in mercy and justice."

"We need to earn the right to be heard with a message that can heal the holes in people's hearts. Serving provides a bridge that can build those relationships."

"It's not what you add to your life, it's what you abandon that will make the difference. As you expand your externally focused ministries, what will you abandon? You can't continue to do everything."

"Once a church moves outside its four walls --- its well --- and begins to experience the big world of ministry, things will never be quite the same. The well will seem small and provincial, safe but boring. The world of externally focused ministry will seem dangerous but exciting. Each church will have to decide to opt for safety or danger, boredom or adventure."

"If we are going to get well, if our churches are going to get better, then some change is likely. Our lives are likely to be disturbed if we allow the One who can heal to lead."

"The best years for the church are still ahead, and the best ideas have yet to be invented. The challenges and opportunities are too massive to rely on old, tired methodologies."

"To create a different future is going to take leaders with the vision to see, the passion to feel, and the courage to do. These leaders must keep pressing forward despite inevitable squalls, adjusting the rudder and the sail as they go."

"Sometimes it may seem that you are not making progress, but you are. You are learning; you are growing. You are becoming more useful for the kingdom. After all, you are simply the helmsman, not the Captain, of this ship. You may not have a map, but you do have a compass. This is about the journey and adventure more than the destination. This is really about the kingdom, not programs. It's about relationships, not numbers. It's about changed lives, not endless activity."

"God meets us when we step out in faith. He reveals solutions as we go; we mustn't wait to act until we have all the answers."
May we, as a church, persevere in what God has called us to do in this time and place! Just like Moses as he is described in Hebrews 11:27 (NIV): "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw HIM who is invisible."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hippie Girl and Captain Rex

Halloween already? This school year is just zooming by. Treats, movies, party and a dance at the school this afternoon... lots of fun!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #42

Yesterday at church, we didn't have a worship service. Instead we had a Community Bake-Off to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity Durham. Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian housing organization that mobilizes volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting home ownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.

It is a GREAT organization to support especially because what they are all about lines up with our
church's vision which is "to be an indispensable channel of hope and help for the families of Pickering, Durham Region and beyond!"

Another such organization is Samaritan's Purse
, more specifically their Operation Christmas Child program. So while the adults were busy with the Community Bake-Off, the children were busy packing shoeboxes! The kids packed close to 40 boxes during the course of the morning!!! What an awesome way to give this Christmas away!

So, in light of an awesome Sunday at The Sanctuary Pickering, today's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

Matthew 35:34-40 (NLT)
Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will say, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

May this way of life infect every family that calls The Sanctuary Pickering their home church so that God's love may reach to the far corners of this city in which we call home!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #41

Today's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from:

Titus 2:14 (NASB)
...who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Our pastor's teaching yesterday at church focused on this passage. He said that if we are truly redeemed by Jesus, then we would naturally be zealous for good deeds.

zeal·ous (zĕl'əs) adjective
Fired with intense feeling. Showing or having enthusiasm. Having much eagerness and enthusiasm.

My prayer is for God to increase my zealousness for His work; that He alone will be glorified in my life!

How about you? Are you naturally zealous for Kingdom work?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reaching Out To Youth...

In a previous blog post I mentioned an interesting discussion that hubby and I had with our daughter about Youth Group. Even with the hustle and bustle of the Thanksgiving weekend, the topic never really left my heart. I admit that this is new ground for me as my daughter is just entering the teen years. So, my dear blog readers, please bear with me... this blog post is mostly me, myself and I organizing my thoughts into words so that I can make more sense out of them!

This all started a few weeks ago... I found myself thinking: we are part of a new church plant and we have no organized Youth Group yet apart from a Sunday School class for preteens. Since my daughter is now entering the teenage years, I started to wonder whether it is time to initiate starting a Youth Group.

The thing is... the current way most churches define what Youth Group is bothers me. This is why:
"...the most potent data regarding disengagement is that a majority of twentysomethings - 61% of today’s young adults - had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying). Only one-fifth of twentysomethings (20%) have maintained a level of spiritual activity consistent with their high school experiences. Another one-fifth of teens (19%) were never significantly reached by a Christian community of faith during their teens and have remained disconnected from the Christian faith." ---Barna Group
Based on the above research results, the current definition of Youth Group doesn't make teenagers want to stay in church once they reach early adulthood. Why is that??? It really bothers me!!!

I could be wrong... but this is what I glean from this whole situation. Churches structure the Youth Group in such a way that it is difficult for teens to bring their non-churched friends because these friends feel like outsiders. If teenagers can not successfully bring their non-churched friends to Youth Group and make them feel welcomed, they will start to feel that the church is hypocritical; it is not welcoming; it is not engaging; it is not real! The result? Once they reach early adulthood and feel that they are able to make their own choices, church suddenly isn't part of the equation for them anymore!

I don't want my daughter to be part of such a Youth Group. Do you?

Well, since our church does not have an organized Youth Group yet... this is the best time to define one, right? Well, hubby and I have decided to start a "Hang-Out Night for Girls" in our home and our daughter can invite whomever she wishes to invite. This will be one of the many youth groups, hopefully, that will define Youth Group at our church. There is already another group (mostly for boys) that is on the go at another family's home and it is going very well.

I'm not saying that we have found the answer... as this could totally flop! But, I am willing to keep experimenting until I find a method that works (one that can reach non-churched youth) because I know that the current method does not work and I am not willing to keep using it just because it exists.

My prayer is for God to show us the way; to give us wisdom in how to shepherd the next generation; that today's youth will see that God is real; that they will want to live their everyday lives for Him. Help us, God!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Cousins At Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone... we have SO MUCH to be thankful for, one of which is our children! Here they are with their cousins (my two younger sisters' children) --- my kids (the ones in orange shirts) look like giants!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #40

For Thanksgiving weekend, a most fitting passage for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

Psalm 100 (The Message)
A Thanksgiving Psalm

On your feet now — applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.
Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty,
All-generous in love, loyal always and ever.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gobble, Gobble!!!

As we head into the Thanksgiving Weekend up here in the Great White North, I am having a lazy Saturday morning before the busy-ness of this holiday weekend sets in. As I sit here, in my pajamas, tapping away on my keyboard... I am thinking about the many things I am thankful for:

~ Our church plant is one year old! Church planting is hard work and progress is slow... but it is good, because God is good! I am thankful that my God is a good God; an awesome God!

~ My family is growing and healthy. Last night, we had a great 'spiritual' discussion with our daughter about Youth Group (another blog post is taking shape, I can see it already!) and the role it should play in our family. Physically --- the kids have grown! We've moved their computers out of my office and into the hallway, which we have set up as a "media room". It was just getting too crowded in here when three people work on their computers at the same time. I am thankful that God has grown us spiritually (physically too!) as a family; that He gives us strength each day in order to serve Him.

~ Hubby and I have jobs especially in these tough economic times. I am thankful that my God is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides!

Those are just the first three things that came to mind; there is so much more that I am thankful for... if I continue to type, it will take all day!!! I am reminded of the lyrics of a well-known old hymn called The Love of God...

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The Love Of God
By: Frederick M. Lehman, 1917

So true. So amazing. So awesome.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, our family will head to the grocery store first and stock our carts with food for the local Food Bank. Then, we will spend Sunday morning with the Body of Christ --- being His church, knocking on doors to collect more food for the Food Bank. Then, we will gather with friends and family to celebrate!

As for me, I should log off now and head to the kitchen to start cooking and baking. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #39

This week's verses for Memory Verse Monday are from...

Ecclesiastes 3:1,11,14 (NASB)
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. He (God) has made everything appropriate in its time. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it.

A new chapter has started for me in terms of my ladies' Bible study group. The first meeting was tonight...

Tonight meant a new group of ladies... a new meeting place... a new focus and vision. Tonight I felt belonging... I felt right... I felt eagerness and energy!

Tonight I was where God wants me to be (despite my initial reluctance)! This is HIS appointed time for a new ladies' Bible study group to begin. I am still in awe that HE would choose me to lead this group of ladies... I am already learning so much from them and we haven't even started the actual Bible study!!!

I can tell that this is going to be another one of those wild rides!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Puffs Has Nuts?!?

My son is anaphylactic to peanuts and he is also mildly allergic to tree nuts. Last week, he had a massive nose bleed which resulted in him using a massive amount of tissue. We had just bought a new batch of tissues, a kind we've never purchased before --- Puffs with Lotion.

After the nose bleed, I noticed some rashes/redness in and around my son's nose and eyes. I attributed it to skin irritation resulting from wiping too much over the weekend. But it didn't get better, instead it got worse --- looking more welt-like, resembling more like an allergic reaction.

Right away, my thoughts went to the tissue. I thought that he might possibly be allergic to the fragrance in the lotion that is in the tissue. I did a quick search on the Internet and found this blog --- the author wrote about Puffs with Lotion tissue containing a tree nut. A TREE NUT!!! I couldn't believe what I was reading! True enough, I looked on the box and it lists an ingredient called shea butter. Upon doing some more research online, I quickly found out that shea butter is derived from shea nuts, a tree nut!

Now everything made sense... hmmmm, who would've thought to check "ingredients" on a tissue box?!? Well, I already read every label on foods that I purchase... reading tissue box labels wouldn't be that hard, I guess!

Seriously though, I thank God that my son only had a mild reaction and that is wasn't life threatening. He did get a secondary bacterial skin infection as a result of the skin trauma... but he is on the mend now that he's on antibiotics.

What can I say? Another new lesson learned in the life of mom with a peanut/nut allergic child!!! Life is never boring!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #38

Today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

This verse reminds me to be faithful in the little things that God has entrusted for me to do... because those who have proven to be faithful in the little things will find themselves in the midst of accomplishing BIG things for God!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers (Book/Movie)

Hubby and I recently read the book 'Lord, Save Us From Your Followers' by Dan Merchant. It is hilarious and thought-provoking both at the same time.

Well, the movie came out last Friday, September 25. BUT, only in the USA!!! Hopefully, a screening can be organized for the GTA so that we can go see it. From what I can read in reviews online, it is a very well-done documentary.

In the meantime, we Canadians will have to live with this trailer:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Changes ---> Growth?

As the Fall season arrives and the leaves start to change colours right before my eyes, I reflect upon the many changes in my life this Fall. There are quite a few... most of which I find myself outside my comfort zone... most of which are God-ordained (not my choice!)... most of which, I suspect, is God's way of growing me!

At the top of the list... Ladies' Bible Study. This Fall, I am no longer going to be a part of the group that I've been meeting with weekly for the past three years. I am going to miss the ladies terribly, more than words can even express. This group has been my comfort zone --- we've come to know each other so intimately that we are able to express/share anything and eveything without fear of what others might think. But, God is taking me out of this comfort zone --- to lead a brand-new group of ladies in Bible study. I am terrified of this new responsibility, to say the least. But I know that God will grow me through this new journey... and, it will be awesome!

Next on the list... Destination Imagination. My kids and I have been involved with this for the past two school years and we have a lot of fun. This year, we have decided not to do it. In its place? Monday night outreach in our community in the form of a drop-in sports programme (a partnership between our school and our church). This is new for us; we've never done anything like it before --- definitely out of our comfort zone!!! One thing that God has clearly impressed upon our hearts --- with Destination Imagination, we were gaining something for ourselves; with Monday night outreach, we will be giving ourselves away. Again, I know that He is going to grow our family (hubby will be a part of this as well) through this experience... and, it will be awesome!

Another change... Prayer Group. I have been a part of a prayer group for over 6 years now. We gather every Friday morning to pray for our school. This year, I am unable to attend these meetings (maybe just sporadically, at best) because of my work schedule. Over the years, I have come to rely on this group to pray for my children's wellbeing at school... this year, I will have to do that on my own! Again, like the above changes, this change will no doubt be a growing experience for me as well.

Yet another change... church format on Sunday mornings. This Fall, we are launching into a series of community outreach events. Worship services will only happen twice each month. The rest of the time will be off-site or on-site community events. This is totally new for me; something I've never done before in the context of Sunday morning church! I am excited about this change... it will definitely be an impact to the community around us. And, you guessed it --- something that will be a growing experience for myself and, I suspect, for many in our church as well.

So as I welcome the Fall season, I am trusting my Heavenly Father to lead me through all these changes that He has orchestrated for this season in my life. With change, comes growth. May all glory be to my God alone!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #37

One year --- our church plant is now a year old!!! I've said this before and I'll say it once more --- church planting is hard work but I wouldn't trade even one minute of the whole experience with anything else! Why? Because, throughout this year I have seen God's faithfulness and His goodness like I've never seen before!!! To sum up this first year for me, I think this is a very appropriate verse...

Lamentations 3:21-23 (NLT)
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.

What an awesome promise!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One Year!!!

Tomorrow marks one year since the public launch of The Sanctuary Pickering. It has been a wild ride, to say the least, since God plucked hubby and me out of our comfort zone and plunged us into something very unfamiliar to us --- church planting!

The journey has definitely not been a bed of roses; it's been like a roller coaster complete with its peaks and its valleys. I've laughed and cried. I've smiled and frowned. I've been elated and been angry. I've trusted and doubted. I've been confident and been scared. You get the picture! But throughout it all, my God has remained faithful and He is good! And, I have grown in my faith!!!

As we launch into this second year of existence as a local church here in Pickering, I am excited! I want to be reckless for God, to be dangerous for Him! God has been opening doors like never before. Reaching this city will not be easy. In fact, spiritually-speaking, it is very hard ground to break. But I have no doubt in my mind that God will accomplish what He has set out to do here, in this city!

In light of that thought and in closing, here's a video of Chris Tomlin's song entitled God Of This City:

NOTE: To watch this video, please pause Playlist on the sidebar.

You’re the God of this city I You’re the King of these people I You’re the Lord of this nation I You are I You’re the light in this darkness I You’re the hope to the hopeless I You’re the peace to the restless I You are I There is no one like our God I There is no one like You, God I For greater things have yet to come I And greater things are still to be done in this city I For greater things have yet to come I And greater things are still to be done here.

Happy 1st Anniversary, The Sanctuary Pickering! My prayer is that God will be glorified through this church, in this city!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reckless Faith

reck·less (rĕk'lĭs): adjective
Lacking or marked by a lack of care. Characterized by unthinking boldness. Utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution.

Today, my morning devotional reading challenged me to live a life of reckless faith. Upon reading the definition of the word "reckless" (see above) --- I have come to the realization that I am living too safely when it comes to my faith.

Here's what gripped me this morning:

We are to be reckless in our faith – not habitual, not routine, not guarded. Reckless.

Reckless faith is… living out loud for God, regardless of the consequences.

Without thinking, without distress over consequences, without anxiety over what might happen, and without concern for what friends might think.

It is so much easier to stay afloat in the safety of our comfort zone than to step out into stormy waters, putting all of our trust in Christ.

How is God calling you to be reckless for Him today?

Do I really believe I can trust God enough for me to be reckless in my faith?

Wow! Talk about a wake-up call or being hit in the head with a hammer!

God, I desire to be reckless for You. Help me to live a life of reckless faith!

Memory Verse Monday #36

Today's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

II Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

The verse is part of my devotional reading this morning which challenged me to live a life of reckless faith (more on this in my upcoming blog post later today).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Disturb Us, Lord

I saw this poem today somewhere in blogland... it is too powerful to pass up and forget about that's why I'm re-posting it here.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

By Sir Francis Drake, 1577

Beautiful. Powerful. Thought-provoking.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chris Tomlin Concert

Chris Tomlin is coming to Toronto this Fall --- October 3rd at Queensway Cathedral. If you are a fan, you'd want to check out this contest. The prize --- two free tickets and a copy of his new CD, Hello Love!!!

I've entered the contest... crossing my fingers!!!

Back To School

So, my kids have settled into the back-to-school routine quite nicely. My daughter is now in Grade 7 (I can't believe it!) and my son is in Grade 4. They both got great teachers this year and each has some old friends in the same class --- so all is well!

This is a transition year for both kids --- my daughter have become an intermediate student and my son is now a junior. We are evaluating which extra curricular activties they should be involved in this year. The choices are many... and in light of what I've been thinking about lately, we must choose wisely.

One thing we are definitely excited about is a new partnership that is happening this year between my kids' school and our church! We will be involved in this outreach opportunity as a family. It is definitely one of the ways we can be "on mission" as a family unit.

Now that the kids are back to school, I am back to my normal work-from-home routine. The thing is --- it is so quiet here at home during the day --- I miss my kids!!!

Speaking of them... they are walking in the door now!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #35

I'm still deep in thought about the book I read last week while on vacation. In light of that, today's verse for Memory Verse Monday is from...

Isaiah 6:8 (NLT)
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

This reminds me of a song I love --- entitled 'Here I Am'.

Our Summer in Pictures

Summer's end comes with the arrival of Labour Day --- that is today!!! Wow, this summer sure went by FAST (yet again)!

Here's a little snippet of our summer...

My daughter walking with my nephew to the park.

My son (in red) and some friends at the park.

Having fun at the park.

Helping little cousin down the twisty slide.

We went to an Argos game at the Rogers Centre. It was a treat to have the dome open on a nice, clear, warm summer evening; nice view of the CN Tower.

Great company!!!

The Ignition Staff after the game; the Argos lost!!!

My kids with Pinball!!!

Our end-of-summer road trip; this and the following few photos were taken at Preque Isle State Park (Erie, PA).

At the Maritime Museum (Erie, PA); in front of the "Niagara" --- a vessel used during the War of 1812.

In front of the Bicentennial Tower (Erie, PA).

Henry Moore sculpture; in front of the Columbus Museum of Art (Columnus, OH). The following few photos are also taken at the CMA.

My daughter cut her hair and donated it through the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program --- 12" long grown over two years!!! Way to go!!!

We celebrated our son's 9th birthday by going bowling and having dinner at his most favourite restaurant, Baton Rouge!!!

...having ice cream before dinner!!!

...very yummy dinner!!!

That's our summer in a nutshell... there is so much more to share but I would have to upload so much more photos!!! I think this is a good enough snippet.

Goodbye summer --- we look forward to your arrival next year!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009


Nine years old already? Wow, my baby boy is now NINE and off to Grade 4 next week!!! How time flies. It seems just like yesterday when we welcomed him into our family that one crisp, cool Labour Day Monday evening nine years ago... his arrival made our family complete! He is truly a gift of God --- true to the meaning of the name we chose for him!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

World Changing Family

While on vacation this past week, I read 'Becoming A World Changing Family' by Donna S. Thomas. While it focuses mainly on world (overseas) missions, it has a ton of great food for thought.

The first thing that caught my attention is a story about a family with three grown children who are all living "on mission". The father's account is as follows:

It was a concious decision for my wife and me early in our marriage. We were in college then and members of the student volunteer group. The group challenged us to make a commitment. Here is what we signed in faith: I will live my life, under God, for others rather than for myself. I will not drift through life but will do my utmost, by prayer, by investigation, by meditation and service, to discover that form and place in which I can become the largest use in the Kingdom of God. As I find it, I will follow it under the leadership of Jesus Christ, wheresoever it takes me, cost what it may.

I shared this commitment with our children when they were young. They witnessed it in our ministry. We considered it important to let them know why we were giving our lives to the church, why a call to serve is among the highest calls one can possibly receive from the Lord, and why material gain was never a factor in our ventures.

We certainly cannot take credit for what God has done in the lives of our children, but I believe we have helped in the process.
Beautiful story, isn't it? This is exactly what hubby and I are doing. We are trusting God for this type of response from our children. It would be awesome when we'd be the ones telling the same story in the near future! In the meantime, it takes a lot of hard work to model for our children how it is to "live on mission" in this world of ours!!!

I only have this one chance to mold my children... I can't go back! I feel that it is of utmost importance to get this parenting thing right. The book ends with some very encouraging words which makes this whole concept of becoming a "world changing family" quite doable. Here are those words:
God sent His only Son to bring us salvation, and look who He used to help get the job done. Not anybody important. No one considered outrageously successful. Some common fishermen. A tax collector. Workers. Ordinary. Never had a course in public speaking. Just obedient. Yet they set the course for changing the world.
So, what am I waiting for? I say, LET'S GET ROLLING!!!

Memory Verse Monday #34

This is a bit late as we were away on vacation. While on vacation, I was able to do some reading. I read 'Becoming A World Changing Family' by Donna S. Thomas. The book starts by asking if we have a mission statement for our family. Well, as a matter of fact, we do have one and it is going to be today's verse for Memory Verse Monday.

Joshua 24:15 (NLT)
... as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

Quite simple, really! But quite profound at the same time. A blog post about the book I read will be following shortly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Better Way

This is a song that has gripped me these few days --- 'A Better Way' by Canadian band Downhere: (please pause the Playlist on the sidebar if you wish to view this video)

A Better Way, by Downhere
from the album Wide Eyed and Mystified

I'm not alone, I really believe
You never go, You never leave
Here and now, You always stay
“I love you” could not be said
A better way

It's everything You've promised
There's no greater love than this
From prophets until today
A man laying down His life for His friends
Your sacrifice has spoken, You gave everything
And “I love you” could not be said
A better way

I am forgiven, I clearly see
It's why You came to do all you did for me
Trading earth with heaven, You took my place
“I love you” could not be said
A better way

Because You redeem, I know what's to come
Everything I could lose here, You've already won
So You have my surrender, with passion obey
“I love you” could not be said
A better way

What gripped me is this --- "You have my surrender, with passion obey; I LOVE YOU could not be said a better way." This ought to be my response to what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for me. Do I always surrender? Do I always obey with passion? Do you?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Memory Verse Monday #33

"Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever."
--- Westminster Confession of Faith

This very familiar quote served as a great reminder to me today of what my purpose really is as a follower of Jesus Christ. In light of this reminder, this week's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

I Peter 4:11 (NLT)
Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.

In my life, Lord, be glorified today!

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Redeemer is Faithful and True

Today, I am rejoicing and giving thanks to my loving Heavenly Father for great health news that my mom received yesterday afternoon. For the past week, we have been anxiously awaiting follow-up results due to an abnormal mammogram. We've been especially anxious because of her bout with ovarian cancer three years ago. Yesterday, we were told that the mass is benign and nothing to worry about. Praise God!!!

A song came to mind... it's been tucked deep inside my soul from my teenage years. I can't find a good video of it to post, nor is it available on for me to add to my playlist... so posting the lyrics on here is all I can do for now. The song is...

My Redeemer is Faithful and True
By Steven Curtis Chapman and James Isaac Elliott
As I look back on the road I've travelled,
I see so many times He carried me through;
And if there's one thing that I've learned in my life,
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My heart rejoices when I read the promise
'There is a place I am preparing for you.'
I know someday I'll see my Lord face to face,
'Cause my Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

And in every situation He has proved His love to me;
When I lack the understanding, He gives more grace to me.
This is very true in every believer's life, but it is very much real in my mom's life! And for that, I give God thanks!

God's love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.
---Psalm 103:17-18 (The Message)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Five Loaves and Two Fish

This past Sunday, our guest speaker at church spoke to us about the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people. He focused on these two phrases from the Bible passage:
"You (disciples) give them something to eat."
"Bring them here to me (Jesus)."
The first phrase was Jesus' solution to the problem. Jesus presented the disciples with an impossible (humanly speaking) solution. Our guest speaker reminded us that it is when God presents us with the impossible that we see His power most at work!

"Coincidentally" the night before, we watched Evan Almighty (again)... this time on DVD. This second time around watching the story of Noah told in a modern-day setting seemed to resonate with me way more than the first time. I think it has somethng to do with our being part of a church plant now... the idea of God asking me to do outrageous things is now suddenly very real to me!!! Here's one of God and Evan's conversations (paraphrased):

Evan: God, this is impossible!
God: This is when I accomplish great things!
Wow, so true! Hubby and I have seen this truth time and time again during this new church's very young life.

Our guest speaker shared with us that the second phrase reminds us to give our all to Jesus; to bring our five loaves and two fish to Him; then He will multiply them! Got me thinking --- what are my five loaves and two fish? Am I holding on to them? Is there something I need to give to Jesus so that it can be multiplied for His glory?

Great message... food for thought!

Memory Verse Monday #32

This week's verse for Memory Verse Monday comes from...

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
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.

As I look ahead to the Fall season, I can already see that it will be a very busy one ministry-wise; plus the usual things that come with life in general. I found myself thinking about this verse as I thought about the Fall season... this is the verse God gave to hubby and me as we stepped out in faith and got involved in starting a new church within our very own community!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Week-Long Bible Lessons

As we complete a whole week of Bible teaching at Ignition Sports Camp today, I am in a reflective mood... there's been a bunch of "firsts" this week and I am just awed by God.

Some of those "firsts" are:

~ FIRST TIME the Good News is being presented at Ignition by our church's own children's ministries volunteers. I am beyond excited --- for some of these children, it would be their FIRST TIME to hear about the Gospel; the same is true for some of our staff members!!!

~ Two of the teachers are ladies from my Bible Study group. I have seen these two ladies grow in their spiritual lives, from mere babies to full-grown adults! It is truly a blessing to see and experience such transformation. As far as I know, it is the FIRST TIME for one of them to teach a Bible lesson to children in a setting such as Ignition.

~ My daughter came home from a week-long overnight camp a couple of weeks ago challenged to share more about God to other children. She volunteered to write (from scratch, with themes provided to her by our pastor) all the lessons that we are teaching this week at Ignition!!! This is her FIRST TIME to write curriculum; and it is the FIRST TIME we are using lessons written by a child (okay, preteen!) for children! As you can probably already tell, I am ONE PROUD MAMA!!! She did an excellent job... her talent in writing is definitely a unique gift from God!

For all these "firsts" --- all glory be to our gracious Heavenly Father!!!

As I reflected upon this week and as I prepare my heart to teach the last lesson in a couple of hours, this verse came to me...

2 Corinthians 9:9-11 (The Message)
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.