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."