Living in the Fog!

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26


My mother-law started to show signs of dementia just as she entered her eighties. No one in our family understood the impact of this disease and we felt helpless. One day she was engaging with everyone, driving herself to shopping, and attending Bible studies and church. And then, she struggled to remember details about people and places. She was often confused as to where she was at any given time. It was sad to watch this strong, funny woman slowly changing into someone we never imagined. 

As dementia tightened its hold on my mother-in-law I worried about her faith; would she even remember Jesus. Matthew 22:37 invites us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Could she love as God invites or would she live out the rest of her life in a fog? I wondered how Oma would remember what Jesus taught when often, she couldn’t remember who she was speaking with. 

But God is so good and our comprehension of His love and understanding is so limited. Our family joked that we thought Oma only had 5 funny stories to share because that was all we heard. But as dementia started to take a hold on her, we began to hear more stories from her, especially about her childhood. She grew up in occupied Holland during WWII and as we can imagine, life was not easy. But in the midst of her dementia, she would recall some incredible stories about school, playing with friends, and simply living life to the full. Also, while sitting by the fireplace, she would break in a chorus of Amazing Grace, or How Great Thou Art, to name a few. She knew to acknowledge God and still witnessed to people despite her condition. She could also remember bible lesson and recited bits of scripture. We thank the Holy Spirit that he was present with Oma during her illness. 

John 14:26 shares, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Watching my mother-in-law live with dementia made this promise more real. God allowed Oma to remember the things that she loved giving her peace and comfort during this illness.

The Holy Spirit always has something to share with us, however sometimes our minds are clouded because of pain, mental health issues, or diseases or even busyness. But, we should always remember God does not abandon us regardless of our circumstances – Jesus’ power is made perfect in our weakness ( 1 Corinthians 12:9 ). 

Our family was not prepared for the changes in Oma but God was. He used her to remind us to seek God because in our time of need, He will be whispering to us about His love and promises. Spend time in the word. Seek understanding and wisdom while you can. Recognize Godly love and be prepared to live it out in your life. 

Procrastination! 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is a sin for them. (James 4:17, NIV).

Humanly speaking, in this busy world, procrastination seems understandable. However, procrastination is not part of God’s best plan for our lives, especially when worshipping Him. When we put off doing something we told another we would do, their trust in us is weakened. When we avoid praying, reading scripture, and gathering with others, we question God’s word that shares these acts to enhance fellowship with Him. When we delay worship, we behave like Adam and Eve by implying that we don’t trust God to give us all we need. We don’t often view procrastination as a sin, but it is. Sin is not merely doing wrong. It is failing to do what you know you should do when you know you should do it. Procrastination causes us to break commitments. Procrastination and disobedience are just opposite sides of the same coin.
 
Procrastination drains our energy, while action produces possibilities. God empowers us to do what He calls us to, but He is not impressed with good intentions. Procrastination helps us avoid doing the things we don’t want to do. Personal discipline and commitment are needed to enjoy life to the fullest. Wasting time or avoiding doing what is necessary often creates a restless feeling that produces a sense of failure. When the deadline we were supposed to meet has come and gone, or the dreaded task we keep putting off spirals out of control, guilt sets in. We try to rationalize it away, but the simple truth is that we have sinned.
 
Procrastination is about loving oneself and pleasing oneself above others. In Romans 12:10, Paul says we should love each other profoundly and honour others more than we love and honour ourselves. We are responsible for how we spend them. Each moment in time represents an eternal opportunity. 
 
Evaluate your life in light of these truths. How well do you invest your time? What one change can you make this week to overcome procrastination? Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable to make that change.

O Canada. 

Ruler Supreme, Who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our dominion within Thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the Better Day, 
We ever stand on guard.

(Verse from Original Canadian National Anthem). 



An English writer once wrote, “As I walk the streets of London Town, its beauty struck me, but so did the absence of God. People seemed focused on everything else but Him.” Have you had similar thoughts while walking the streets of Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver, Miramichi or any community in Canada? Our original anthem wanted God’s presence to guide our nation, recognizing He is the giver of all blessings. However, we have strayed from recognizing His sovereignty and desire our politicians to make our land glorious and free. Many still call our nation a Christian nation, yet our morality focuses on what makes people happy instead of the Word of God. 

Despite our struggle to see God’s presence on our streets, Psalm 139:7-10 reminds us that God is with us whether we sense Him or not. 
 
How can I get away from your Spirit?
      Where can I go to escape from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
      If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth, you are also there.
Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east.
      Suppose I travel to the west, where it sinks into the ocean.
Your hand would always be there to guide me.
      Your right hand would still be holding me close. (Psalm 139:7–10)

So how do followers of Christ balance their support of our nation while it makes choices and takes this country further away from God? We know from scripture that believers are not to always remain silent. (read Amos). There is a holy balance that believers have to have between speaking up and shutting up. Our nation can not change if government officials serve those who will support them in the next election. The change will form a higher power found in the throne room of God. As disciples of Christ, we are used by God to be part of the change. We are the light to our family and circle of friends, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can go into the darkness and shed light within our communities. Community by community followers of Christ can affect change in our provinces, territories and nation so that all will say, 
Praise be to his (God’s) glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory”. Psalm 72:19

We should not run out to the streets and try to implement change based on our understanding, but first, we should seek the divine wisdom of God to help us bring about change. Amen and Amen

Pray for one another. 

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. Mark 9:43-47


We all like to think of ourselves as wise and reliable in judgment. This perception can be an obstacle to the truth. We must accept the truth about the desperate condition of our hearts, souls and minds. Acceptance is a radical step and is an act of our will. If we do not make the step, the deceptions will hinder our ability to see God and serve Him. 

Anyone who speaks of faith as an easy answer to life’s hardness knows nothing about it. Repentance and regeneration are radical terms suggesting radical changes. Jesus described this in terms of tearing out an eye or cutting off a hand. We may not be wise, and our judgement is unreliable without a sweeping change involving personal acceptance of God’s sanctifying grace that makes us the new creation. This process continues until our death. 

These comments and verses are meant for all, including those who have decided to follow Jesus. We can get a little overconfident and must be reminded of our nature, where we can purposefully or accidentally sin against God. Jesus does not sugarcoat the severity of sin and wants us to rethink and refocus. We must pray for ourselves and others so that we can understand and continually accept God’s sanctifying grace. Ask a friend to pray for you, and you will do the same for them. Let us build up and cleanse ourselves from our knees and then go out and reach our family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues and share the truth about Jesus. 

Pinch me! 

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” 
Galatians 5:25


Have you ever found yourself in a situation that seemed so perfect you wanted to pinch yourself to see if you were dreaming? Your expectations were being met, you had a sense of accomplishment, and others may have acknowledged you as a contributor to their happiness. Whatever was happening seemed unreal, probably because too often, people, including Christians, go about their lives expecting the worst, or at least something less than perfect, to happen. Many enter their world daily, expecting a glitch to derail their plans, relationships, or moods. So when something good occurs, other world activities become white noise. For a few moments, they don’t see or hear anything else. PINCH Me moments are not ongoing occurrences for many, so when they happen, many struggle to accept them.       
 
Jesus stated that after He ascended to the Father, a counsellor would come alongside believers so that they could live for Him. The helper would enable His followers to understand and interpret God’s word. God’s Holy Spirit is this helper who wants to encourage and exhort us. We know that He comes bearing gifts for believers so they can function as the body of Christ and be His ambassadors to the world, showing His grace and glorifying Him. This helper also transforms us by harvesting His fruit in our lives: the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
 
Most importantly, this Counsellor has come to pinch us throughout the day. He wants to stir us from thinking that our jobs, families or even our ministries are the final destination. He pinches us to disrupt our dreams that suggest the world is the place to be. He pinches us so that we open our eyes to see God’s will before us. He woke us up to His reality, revealing how much of God is around us daily and how we can be part of His service. The Holy Spirit pinches us to wake us so we will look at our path. 
 
Paul reminded the Galatians that since we have been given the Counsellor, we should look to fall in line with Him and anticipate and react to His pinches. The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives, and He performs all His miraculous functions while He dwells within us. His presence is not just for a few daily movements; He dwells with us forever. He will never leave or forsake us; as long as we react, He will continue to pinch us. Our challenge is to thank God for the precious gift of the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives and keep in step with the Spirit to recognize His pinches and see God’s glory. Our challenge is to respond to the Holy Spirit. 
 
Pray the Holy Spirit will pinch you often this week and that you will be able to recognize it and respond.  


Have “Patience.

But the Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!    Galatians 5:22-23 NLT


I live off a highway approximately 8 KM from town. The speed limit changes several times, starting at 80 KPH and slowing to 70, then 50. The highway is lined with homes, so it’s not as if this stretch of road is isolated or free from local traffic. Sometimes, when I exit my driveway onto the road, I feel like a Formula One driver trying to enter the traffic flow after a pit stop. It appears on this stretch of highway that the speed limit is irrelevant, double or single solid lines have no meaning, and weather conditions don’t seem to matter. There have been accidents on the road, as evidenced by skid marks, vehicle bits on the road, and broken safety barriers. I have no idea why people drive as they do on this stretch of road. There is a traffic light just as you enter town, and nine times out of ten, the patient drivers end up behind the impatient one at the lights. Speeding or driving erratically did not gain anyone extra time. 

Admittedly, when people are passing under foolish circumstances, I sing, in my head, the chorus of a song that we taught our kids when they were younger: 

“Have patience, have patience don’t be in such a hurry.
 When you get impatient, you only start to worry”.
 
(Sung by Herbert the Snail).  

We seem to be living in a time where immediate results are expected. Many lack the patience to wait their turn. They willingly and aggressively push others aside when that person’s needs cause the slowdown of someone else’s gratification. The evidence is all around us. Watch how people treat retail clerks, older adults, children, and fellow drivers on the road. Nothing pushes another’s emotional button quicker than an impatient individual. Impatience leads to worry, stress, anger and eventually high blood pressure. 

When we choose to be disciples of Christ, we are saying we want to follow Jesus’ advice and truths, including His promise to transform us from people self-focused and controlled by our urges. Followers of Christ want God’s power to live the life God intended for humanity: a life of compassion, hope, goodness, and patience. Paul tells followers that because the Holy Spirit lives within us, we are helped to pursue that righteous life. He says we can recognize the Spirit’s transforming power by the fruit that grows from this transformed life. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control become our identifiable characteristics. These fruits indicate to us and others that we have released our will to God, changing us into people who can live harmonious relationships with God and others. Following and practising Jesus’ commandments of loving God and others (Matthew 22:36-40) is essential today. Patience (forbearance used in some translations) is an attribute of a transformed life and a reflection of our love.  

The closing line of Herbert the Snail’s chorus includes, 

“Remember, remember that God is patient, too.
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you”.
 

What an excellent thought to reflect on this week as you enter the race.
Reduce worry and stress – by being patient!

Why? … Why did God create us?

This is a question that many have been discussing for centuries, and you may have even asked it yourself. We have heard God created us for His glory, to have people to love, to demonstrate His greatness, and so on. These are all undoubtedly true, but have you thought God may have also created us for fellowship?

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”  (1 Corinthians 1:9, NASB).  In Greek, the word “fellowship” is koinonia. It is also translated as “communion.” God wants to have an intimate communion, a close fellowship with us. Remember the garden of Adam and Eve and when they sinned! Who hid themselves? Adam and Eve. Who went looking for who? It was God looking for them. After the expulsion from the garden, after the flood, and at the time of the Exodus, God says to the people, “And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” Again, who is seeking to dwell with who? It is God-seeking man. John 1:1, 14 shares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” 14″And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” is the Greek skano-o. It also means to the tabernacle, to tent, to dwell among. Again, the Lord is seeking us, who is dwelling among us. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), which signifies that the Lord is in and with us.

This tells us that God is a God of fellowship and desires to have people to be with and to love. God is love (1 John 4:8), and the nature of love is to give (John 3:16). God desires to have an intimate relationship with us through His Son, Jesus.

Do you have that intimacy with Jesus? Do you spend time talking to Him? Do you seek the relationship and fellowship with God that He desires. Seek Jesus. Have fellowship with Him. It is what God wants.

Purpose

We have been created in God’s image, designed to live in harmonious relationships. We are meant to love God and others without reservation. We were made to know how to behave as God would, with respect for ourselves and all of creation. We were created perfect, but, as Adam and Eve’s story tells us, we craved more, and that is when the troubles started. Our image was corrupted, but God loved us so much that He made a way with Jesus for all of us to find our way back to Him.   
 
Read the headlines and see how far we have fallen. People are targeting others because they are different. They are victimizing, brutalizing and killing them. Many do not see the sinfulness of this act and are wrongfully deciding whether they stand with the killers or victims. Our call is to condone acts against God’s creation. We are to love and not judge. When someone chooses to follow Jesus, we gather around them to encourage and show them the way of scripture, prayer, and other spiritual practices. The Holy Spirit set them up to hear God’s will. He will also convict them of their wrongdoings. In His time, the Holy Spirit will make God known to all of us and may use Christian brothers and sisters to light the path to God. 
 
We aim to bring the gospel to the world in a way unique to the circumstances and gifts God has given us. Focus on that and pray God uses you. Beware of your attitude toward others, those who are not like you. Remember, first, we are all made in God’s image and pray for those who are being persecuted and murdered because of their difference. When you pray for your neighbours, ask for healing and recovery for those injured, peace for those living in fear, and hope for those who do not know that God has a way for them. Remember also those in your community who seem to live relativity-safe lives but do not know the gift Jesus is offering them. 

Workers Needed

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:37-38 and Luke 10:2

 When Jesus made this statement to His disciples, He travelled from town-to-town preaching and healing. He witnessed the daily lives of the people and their helplessness. He knew they needed to hear His message and shared that so many need God, yet few shared His truth. When Jesus told His disciples to pray that more people be sent out to share the gospel, He was not only speaking to His generation but was also addressing future generations like ours.  
 
When we choose to become disciples of God, we must not forget that we also chose to become missionaries so that He could carry out His mission. We decided to become involved in the harvest as seed planters, those who feed the crops, or those who gather the crops. We became involved in sharing the gospel with the helpless, those who need Jesus.    
 
I recently heard a sermon by Andy Stanley, where he spoke about individual involvement in sharing God’s hope. He challenged all generations to listen and ask themselves what kind of disciples they had become. Were they continually seeking to grow their relationship with God, were they living as followers of Christ outside the church doors, and were they reaching out to family and friends and telling them about Jesus? He said if we were not actively engaged in those activities, we needed to Step up and step in. The mission is not over because God has not called us to glory. There are people in desperate need of hope, and we have that message within us to share. We must step up our game, reevaluate our role as a disciple, and get involved because the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 
 
What can you do? 
 
Firstly, take Jesus’ advice and pray. Pray for your church. You know that with some thought, you can identify those in your church who have become bystanders. Many are probably long-time followers but somehow have lost their love of the mission. Pray that revival comes into their lives. Pray you are also revived, so refocus on what God has called you to do. Pray God gives you the strength and courage to step up and become the disciple He desires.
 
Next, adopt a missionary attitude. Recognize your neighbourhood, workplace, and the places you shop and go to be entertained as your mission field. This is not only the food bank you serve at or the seniors’ home where you may sing or volunteer. But much more, it is the community where you live, where helpless people are wandering through life without hope. There is no retirement from kingdom work, so STEP UP and ask God to show you where to STEP IN. 

Tell your story.   

We love to talk about the weather, sports, our kids, or politics. But when discussing our faith, many of us cower like chickens running away from the Colonel. If we know Jesus, we have GOOD NEWS! It’s like a life ring thrown to the person drowning or a fire alarm to rouse the sleeping from a burning building! 

Some people seem to think that a life-witness is good enough; that is, quietly living your life of devotion to Christ before others. It is NOT enough. People need to hear what Jesus means to us, so we need to share our testimony. 

Here are a few tips on how to share: 

Practice – Work out what you will say so you aren’t ever caught off guard. Have a long and short version for different situations.

Pray – Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and work in the person you share with.

Personal – Give enough details to help them understand where and why.

Be yourself – Don’t try to be more “spiritual” than you are. Just tell your story.

Understandable – Don’t use “churchy” words. Say “Bible” instead of “the Word.”

Witness – A witness tells what they saw, heard, or experienced. You are simply telling your story of how you met Jesus. Relive your experience through words.

Transformed Life – Talk about your life before Christ, how you came to Christ, and the change in your life since being saved.

Evangelize – Take it from telling your story to asking if something like that has ever happened to them. Explain how they can be saved.

God wants us to tell His story through our experiences. If we ask him, he will prepare someone to hear our story. He will not set us up to fail but will be with us. The Good News is not meant to be kept secret, and many around us need to be thrown that life-saving truth found in the Good News. 

YouTube has several versions of the song: “I love to tell the story.” Take a few minutes today and play one, such as “Chris Rupp’s A Cappella” and then pray that God helps you tell His story.