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Corona virus is pushing the church back to where it belongs-on the streets

A clip was circulating throughout social media over the last few days of a church congregation gathered singing within a local Wal Mart. Unable to attend their own services in person due to Covid restrictions, they gathered (socially distanced) within a (notably legally) open Wal Mart and proclaimed the goodness of God with passion and fervency right in the hearing of all the other Wal Mart visitors. The clip was encouraging for two reasons:
1. It’s a reminder that the church will prevail no matter what restrictions are placed on it. Just as it did in the early days of Christianity despite the torments inflicted upon them by Nero and just as it continued to do for thousands of years despite tortures, imprisonments, and much more.
And 2. The church is being shaken out of its comfort zone and being forced out into the streets.
Church members are meeting in parks, backyards, open fields, wherever they can really.
In some places still, stores like Wal Mart and Home Depot can be open for business while the local church cannot which to be sure, is a cause to be fought for. In any case, the church has long been growing sluggish and while I personally have been fortunate enough to belong to a church that places great emphasis on outreach and evangelism, I see that that is not often the case nor a trend in today’s church.
The church was birthed on the streets…through the means of an impromptu sermon street preached by Peter. One of the first African converts was met out on the open road and baptized soon thereafter by Philip. Peter and John saw great miracles as they passed common people in the streets of Jerusalem. This is the church’s roots but years of comfort and lack of oppression in North America has driven the Christian church to often stay cloistered cozily within its own four walls. Sermons are preached on being your best self and caring for your well being; mental health workshops are put on, and intimate coffee small groups gather to discuss wholesome, comforting topics. These have replaced the thrust of urgency (not to mention discomfort) that comes through direct and deliberate street evangelism. Now none of those things mentioned are inherently wrong, but they are not to ever dethrone the weighty and glorious calling, commission and priority we have to “Go into all the world and make disciples”.
By the way, while we are on the subject of pandemics, let’s bring up the chief of them all: the infamous Black Plague. The plague hit Europe within the mid 1300’s and with it, brought one of the most important socio-economic shifts in all of history. The common person in those days typically lived a short, and unremarkable life as a serf (a step just above a slave) to a feudal “lord”. Commoners had little to no chance of ever advancing themselves, gaining education or traveling beyond the small parcel of land that they worked. The Catholic church had grown opulent and self centred, only serving the elite and taking the word of God out of the grasp of the common man by only using Latin for mass and readings as well as only being available through remote churches or once in awhile, a traveling priest. When the Black Plague hit; it hit hard. It annihilated much of the European population and the feudal system along with it. Suddenly, the tables turned, the social and economic everyday ways of living were obliterated and replaced with well…nothing. For the first time, lower class citizens had increasing freedom and the ability to choose a life for themselves. Roads opened, people travelled seeking work and new opportunities and within less than 200 years, Martin Luther nailed his famous thesis to the doors of the local Catholic Church demanding reformation. Religion, and particularly Christianity as people knew it, would forever be changed. The gospel would become available once again to the common man. It took a pandemic for this to happen.
Some people wonder how God in His loving kindness could allow such horrors as the Black Plague or even Corona virus to happen. And though we may not understand His master plan; when considering God’s infinite wisdom, we must know that He will often ultimately allow for that which will impact the eternal harvest and destination of SOULS rather than NOT allowing these things just to satisfy OUR immediate earthly needs. We usually reject this concept because our lives and our immediate circumstances often take precedence over any thought of eternity and the intangible. And this thought process of preserving self and family makes complete sense…unless of course you are a believer and know with certainty that we are actually just passing through here, we are pilgrims of sorts. This earth is not our home, nor are its beauties and treasures lasting. And your health? It is of course important to God, but not as important as your soul’s ultimate destination. The human soul is, after all, the most valuable thing in all of the world. The church’s mission of reaching souls will always be more important than anything we physically possess, be it health, wealth, or anything in between.
Make no mistake, God is using this pandemic to shake the social and economic structures of the nations. He is also allowing the church to be shaken and tested and ultimately turned out into the streets. But that’s where we should have been the whole time. Because if we aren’t reaching the lost, then what are we really doing anyways?
An opinion piece by Kristin Small
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Critical Thinking for Crazy Times

We live in chaotic times and information abounds to help us process all of the chaos but from so many sources- each with their own biases and slants. It is imperative to be able to deduce truth in these times, to be able to think critically with wisdom, and to be able to process the information overload through a biblical view. How to do this? We compiled a list of 9 ways to think critically and biblically during crazy times:

 
1. What would Jesus do?

Remember those old WWJD bracelets/t shirts/bumper stickers? Well it may sound overly simple but there is some truth to asking ourselves this question from a genuine place of humility. What would Jesus think of this news story? Would He be angry? Grieved? Am I processing this the same way Jesus would?
“I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life” John 14:6

 
2. What does the word of God say?

How does this information line up with the Bible? Does your thinking and do your opinions on this situation/news article reflect biblical scripture and truths? Remember you can only truly think biblically if the Word of God is a regular and constant part of your life.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

 
3. Where does the love of God factor in?

You may have all the facts down pat but if you’ve left out love, compassion, and an overriding desire for people’s salvation, then your facts will simply lead you to a cold, unmoved heart.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2

 
4. What are the facts and statistics as they are and uninterpreted?

Where do you get your news from? Are you aware that almost every single news source out there has its own sets of biases and its own agendas to carry out? What do you think that does for truth? Most assuredly it taints it and/or waters it down to meet the appointed narrative. Do your research on your news sources. Who are they funded by? If you don’t have the time or inclination to do that, then consider reading news from a variety of sources so that you can get a balanced perspective and then form your own opinions. Consider researching presented statistics and facts on your own to confirm their relevance, truth, and validity.
“If you are wise, you are wise for yourself” Proverbs 9:12

 
5. Where does my church and leadership stand on these issues?

Talk to your pastors and leaders. If something is troubling you, ask for their thoughts and opinions on the issue. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, He rages against all wise judgement” Proverbs 18:1 – Don’t be one who isolates them self mentally. Always seek wise and biblical counsel and use your church leaders as a sounding board for your thoughts and opinions.

 
6. Understand the future of this thinking.

Where will this kind of thinking lead if we all buy into it? Sometimes certain schools of thoughts sound good in theory but when put into practice, can have future devastating effects. Understand where buying into a thought or opinion will lead you down the road. If everyone thought like this, would the world be more like the kingdom of God or less?
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12

 
7. Determine surrounding facts and context

Sometimes a story will be told out of context. A headline of an article may report “Man threatened woman with gun” – the context of the story however may be that the woman was banging on the man’s car and threatening his small child. Always find out context and relevant surrounding information so that you can make informed opinions.

 
8. Be able to recognize your own emotions and biases and how they can cloud your judgement.

Few things can cloud our thinking and judgement more than our emotions. If you find yourself reacting very emotionally to a news story, take a minute to calm yourself down before you process your thoughts and definitely before you start typing out a status update/tweet/post about it. “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32

This will then give you time to get ALL the facts and context before you further react.

 
9. Have a method to absorbing information and use it consistently.

Avoid sitting and watching videos and tidbits endlessly on Facebook or Instagram. Take in your news from credible sources and then adopt a method to how you allow it to be processed. Using some of the steps in this article would be a great start. An example of this could be the following process:
1. Discipline yourself and only allow yourself to take in news during set times. Make sure you have first spent time in the word of God and prayer. Use a balanced approach to reading or watching news, be sure to know both sides of the story and understand the bias involved.
2. Try not to get emotional– it will only cloud your judgement. Think first, what does scripture say about how I should process this?
3. Look up the facts and context for yourself, independently if needed.
4. If it’s still weighing on you after several days, talk to someone at your church and get their thoughts.

 

Adopting some of these strategies should help you be able to think critically during chaotic times. Do you have any other tips on critical and biblical thinking? Leave it in the comments!

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Remember to Establish God’s Covenant!

Deuteronomy 8:18 says,  “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
As married Christian men, one of our responsibilities among many include taking care of our families financially. The Bible is emphatically clear when it declares, “that a man who doesn’t provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Read that again: A man who doesn’t provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 
Strong words.
Paul is telling Timothy that if a man fails to provide for his household, he has completely rejected all that the gospel stands for. Even those who don’t know God have a natural affection and responsibility to serve their family in this regard.
At the time of this article, I’ve been happily married for eight months. This season of marriage has opened my eyes to a greater degree of what taking care of a wife means. (I can only imagine what it will be like when kids come!)
I want to make sure she’s well taken care of.
I can hear the married men saying, “Amen, brother!”
Providing for a family encompasses many aspects such as emotional, spiritual and relational. The scope of today’s blog is from a financial and spiritual perspective.
In my pursuit of taking care of my family, I find myself tempted to forget what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:18. If you’ve served God for any amount of time, the subtle influence of the the flesh, devil and the world can sneakily creep in like a thief breaking into the home without you even realizing it.
But when you realize that God has a greater picture in mind with you and your family in it, we can have steadfast confidence that He always provides as we honour Him.
There are three progressive revelations I’ve learned in our scripture:
1. Remember the Lord our God.
When the Bible speaks about remembering the Lord our God, He’s speaking about remembering who He is: His character, His works, His kindness toward us. In the hustle and bustle of the dealings of the cares of this world, we can easily operate in such a way that factors out God working in and around us.
We, the people of God, live as if He doesn’t exist! It’s quite possible to do just that while naming the name of Christ.
There have been times where I wake up in the morning, go work my job, come home and pay the bills and just chill out without regard to God. Sure, I have Him in my mind, and I might say a quick prayer but the QUALITY time with Him is lacking greatly. In other words, through my actions I have forgotten God: He isn’t first in my life but worry is!
I’m so filled with worry, wondering if my family and I will have enough to pay for future expenses (immigration fees, insurances and the like) that I shake like a leaf inwardly, forgetting that God is a Provider. Have you ever found yourself in that season?
Remembering God is a deliberate action. Forgetting to seek God daily is our natural navigational pull, if we let it.
2. Remember it’s not by our own strength.
Another point we fail to remember is that God is the one who gives us power to gain wealth. Many times we operate on our own strength; a dynamic that the Bible calls, “the arm of the flesh.”
I’m an introverted thinker. With my personality type, I like to gather all the information and ponder about it internally, formulate a plan and then finally execute. If it doesn’t make sense, I’m not doing it. Yet in the same token, sometimes God will ask me to do things that may not necessarily make sense to my natural thinking. Am I going to operate in the arm of the flesh? Are you?
When I know it’s God speaking to me & it’s confirmed by His word, will I continue to do what I think is right or will I obey what He says. There is a major difference between doing what seems right versus listening & obeying the word of God.
God has given us the strength or the power to gain wealth which is manifested in a multitude of ways ranging from creative thinking; having the ability to see a solution to a problem, or the ability to communicate; a connector who’s able to rally people together to accomplish the intended purpose.
Yet with all the talents God gives us, we in our carnal thinking believe it’s by our own might that we gain wealth.
3. Remember what really matters: Establishing the gospel covenant.
I remember some time ago when I was at a church service and the preacher challenged the congregation to give in such a way where it would make you uncomfortable. He challenged us to sacrificial giving.
I recall the Spirit of God speaking to me to give a certain (significant) amount. Why would God do that through the man of God?
The call to give was in the context of launching people out into the field so that they are enabled to preach the gospel. In other words, God spoke to me to give for the cause of establishing the new covenant in an area where a people are in desperate need of a Saviour.
This meant that God was going to use the finances that He has placed into my hands to reach individual lives who don’t know Him. 
This is what it means to establish His covenant.
God has given you and I the power to gain wealth so that the good news of salvation can be declared through all the world.
You don’t have to worry.
As I think and meditate on this scripture, I realize that God will take care of my family as we trust Him daily. We don’t have to worry for lack because He always takes care of His children. The question is whether or not you and I will obey Him in remembering Him, knowing that our ability to gain wealth is for a greater purpose than what we can dream of. 
I want to leave you with the encouragement to trust the Lord as you honour Him in this area of your life!
Post written by Rex Le- Blogger at rexle.net

Anointing + Craftsmanship

In the book of Exodus, we find Moses receiving instructions on how to craft the items and articles of the tabernacle. The details laid out by God are spectacular! Moses received instructions for specific designs, materials to use and artistic touches to add, and no doubt when they were finished-they were a sight to see! The bible also points out in Exodus 35 that certain artisans were noticed by God and hand selected to do His work “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship.”

Your work, whether a trade or business, matters to God and can be greatly anointed of Him for His use and His glory! We will be covering a lot on Christians in business over the next while so follow us for inspiration! Are you a small business owner? Let us know what you do in the comments below or let us know about a small business you love!

 

A PRAYER FOR ANOINTING:

Lord, we pray for every business owner that is in your service. We ask for anointing upon the work of our hands, yes; establish the work of our hands. We commit all of our endeavours to You and ask that Your favour be upon them. Lord, may our businesses flourish and grow and become prosperous. Keep us from turning our businesses and our work into idols, and may our work and income be for Your glory and Your purpose. Give us open doors and opportunities in our nation and community for business but also to share the gospel through our work and testimony. Bless us that we may be a blessing financially to Your kingdom and our local church. Give us wisdom when making crucial decisions and keep us from costly mistakes. Help us to learn from our failures and never give in to a spirit of depression, anxiety, and despair. Nothing is impossible with You, Lord and we claim that for our businesses and trades today, in Jesus’ name- Amen!

A Mother’s Day Tribute

In May, we celebrate mothers, but I like to think of it as a month for all women. Whether you are a mother or a grandmother or have a mother or a grandmother – this month is for you, beautiful lady!

They say that there are four stages of every woman’s life. Though we may enter them at different ages, and some of us spend more time in certain stages than others, if we are given enough time on this Earth, we will all go through each of these eventually:
i) We want to be just like our mother
ii) We want to be nothing like our mother
iii) We become exactly like our mother (in at least some ways)
iv) We would give anything for another day with our mother

As little girls we watch our mothers getting dressed, putting on make up, and curling their hair, and we imagine the day we will be just like them. Sometimes we even get dressed up in their high heeled shoes and walk around the house filled with excitement preparing for the day.

As teenagers and young women, we begin to believe we know it all and our mothers seem outdated and even irrational at times. We question everything about them – from their fashion sense to their political views – and we sometimes disagree with them if for no other reason than to exert our independence. We swear we will never be like them.

Then, despite the many promises we make to ourselves that we will never become like our mothers – we do. It happens to us all. Perhaps it’s the outfit you find yourself in or the way you’re styling your hair these days. Perhaps it’s the tone of your voice or the words passing through your lips. Whatever it is, you will find yourself taking pause in the middle of a crowed room realizing she had an impact on you. It’s inevitable.

Finally, we find ourselves without a mother, longing for just one more day. It’s been said that no matter how good or bad your relationship with your mother, you will miss her when she’s gone. I believe that to be true.

So, what can we take from this to ensure we make the most of each stage of our lives?
I don’t profess to have all the answers, but as someone who has found herself in each of these four stages, let me share a few things I have learned.

God has entrusted us with precious souls. Our sons want to marry us, our daughters want to be us. We must walk in a manner that is worthy of our Lord. (This does not only apply to mothers, but to Christians in general, since all of us are watched likewise by new converts.) Let your conduct always be pleasing to God.

We all make mistakes – even mothers. Maybe especially mothers. Even the best mothers in the world are not perfect – they are still sinners. However, we must never overlook the good in our mother. If we are doomed to become exactly like her, we must extract the good and learn how to channel that into our adult lives.

Since we never know how much time we will have with our mothers, we must cherish every moment. Take pictures with her, spend time with her, hug her, listen to her stories, and memorize her voice and her smell. Just trust me on this one – someday you will miss all those things.

Finally, I leave you with one last thought, which I illustrate with this short story.
Mother’s Day wasn’t important to me growing up, but after I became a Christian and started a family of my own, that changed. For many years, I went all out to ensure my mother felt special on Mother’s Day and knew just how grateful I was for her. I would make it a full event–church service in the morning, brunch at my place, special outings, gifts, cake, and always a little something I had made with my own two hands – for old times’ sake.

The year I lost my mother was no exception. Though she was frail, she insisted on spending Mother’s Day with my family. The handmade gift I gave her that year was a large jar of Hershey’s Kisses with a prescription label on it that instructed her to take one whenever she needed to feel loved – at least once per day. There were probably 150 kisses in the jar, and each one had a little note attached to the tail.

When I handed her that gift, she immediately summoned enough strength to open the jar. She pulled out one of the kisses, detached the note, read it aloud, and then, looked up at me with a face filled with tears. I quickly wrapped my arms around her, and we cried together amid a house filled with people.

I will never forget the words on that first prescribed chocolate: I’m sorry if I ever hurt you.
It took me many years to realize why those words had such an impact that Mother’s Day morning.
Then just this week, it dawned on me. My mother was far from perfect. She made her fair share of mistakes and, as the youngest of all her children, I went along for the ride.

My childhood was unstable. I went without a lot of things. We moved a lot, forcing me to go to several new schools. There were a lot of new guys in our lives – some for short periods, others for longer, but none were my dad. She drank frequently. I was alone often. But we made it through.

As my mother read the words on that tiny piece of paper aloud, “I’m sorry if I ever hurt you,” I think she realized what my actions all those years had been demonstrating – I forgave her.

She didn’t have to ask. She didn’t even have to deserve it. When I became a Christian, without even consciously realizing it, I forgave my mother for it all.

And so, as a mother and a daughter who has lost a beloved mother, I have learned that what your mother wants most from you is not flowers or chocolate or jewelry. It’s attention and love and your genuine and unconditional forgiveness for all the mistakes she has made.

I mean, after all, isn’t that what we all want?

Post written by Colleen Decker

photo of woman carrying toddler
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