Category Archives: Uncategorized

Man of Faith?

by Pastor Ruth Denboer

Sometimes I have to admit I am completely daunted by the stories of absolute faith that I read in the Bible. However, I was again intrigued by the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18. What a powerful display of absolute faith in God we see in chapter 18! I can’t imagine standing in front of all the people of Israel and the prophets and doing what Elijah did. I read more than a little confident … almost to the point of being arrogant. I ask myself, “Would I have anywhere near that level of confidence in declaring my absolute faith in the God I love and serve?”

And then I read chapter 19. I see a completely different picture. I see a frightened Elijah running for his life. Following Elijah’s impressive display of calling down fire from heaven you would think that he’d be set for life as an amazing man of faith. His faith level must have increased tremendously through that adventure and you would think he’d have quite the following after that event. However, when King Ahab tells his wife Jezebel what ‘Elijah had done’ … (missed the point that it was God), Jezebel then sends a threat to Elijah telling him that she will kill him like he killed the prophets of Baal.

Elijah went from man of incredible faith to man of seemingly no faith, running for his life. I find this so true to human nature. When we display great faith in God for any reason we would be wise to remember that we are only strong and powerful in HIM. Without HIM we are no better than anyone in the world around us. God did not forsake Elijah in his weakness, instead graciously poured out provision and comfort to him. And although Elijah asked to have his life ended there and then … God is greater than our hearts, merciful in not taking us at our word and granting our foolish passionate requests.
We serve a great and loving God who understands our human weaknesses … and loves us anyway!

What Are You Good At?

By Pastor Vern Kratz

You can’t be good at everything, but everybody is good at something!

I really believe that.

I watch a fair amount of team sports. It goes without saying even among professional athletes each person has a particular part to play on the team. And a good team manager will place his players in positions where they will be able to excel at what they are good at. If you are a good kicker then the football coach will make you the punter. If you can throw an amazing curve ball then the baseball manager is going make you the pitcher. If someone is put in a place they haven’t prepared for, or have no expertise at, it can be disastrous not only for the individual, but for the entire team.

In life it is the same: we will accomplish more when we recognize our strengths, and go with what we are good at.

As a Christ follower, I need to regularly recognize the talents and abilities that have been given to me by God and choose to use them for his glory and his purpose. There is no point in trying to be someone that I am not. That would be a waste of time and a waste of the resources that God has given me.

These thoughts filled my mind as I was rereading the story of David and Goliath – the epic bible story of the “little guy” triumphing over the “giant.” But before young David runs out onto the field to slay the giant we read his discussion with King Saul. The king tried to give David all of his heavy armour, but when David tried it on it was uncomfortable and he said, “I cannot go in these because I am not used to them.” So David, a shepherd boy who was good at slinging stones, stopped by the brook and picked up five smooth stones and went out to face the giant. The rest is history!

Whether you have to face a giant today or just face the regular routine of life, choose to go with what you are good at, recognize your strengths and your God-given talent and tackle your day with that approach. Don’t try and be someone you are not. Go with what you are good at and glorify God with your life.

If you want to check out the story for yourself, I was reading from 1 Samuel 17. It’s a great story. Why don’t you look it up?

Blessings.

Jesus’ Last Night: Thanksgiving

by Pastor Nikki Ragush

The Gospels are amazing pieces of Scripture that each show distinct sides of what Jesus’ life looked like. Some people enjoy the Christmas story of His birth, other’s love to reread the miracles that He did, many focus on those red words that he spoke, however many times I find myself looking at what Jesus did in the last week of His life.

I remember one day someone passing on their wisdom to me and they said this “Nikki the only thing in life that you can be sure of is that one day you will die.” I wouldn’t say it was the most uplifting thing I’ve heard, however that is the truth, it is inevitable. People try to sneak around the fact, hope that maybe they can have their body frozen till there is a cure to their sickness, but eventually all must come to that reality. Jesus came to this reality, and many people don’t realize when there life on earth will end. But Jesus knew, and that shows a great amount about a person.  Maybe you’ve been asked the question if you only had a day to live, what would you do? Jesus lived in that reality, so when we look at the Gospels we can see Him answer that through His actions!

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (NIV)

Jesus wanted to impart His final wisdom on His friends the night before He died.

The practice of family suppers is slowly diminishing, with busy schedules that people have and our somewhat addiction to technology many families aren’t able to sit down for a family supper. Thanksgiving is this weekend so I thought this subject might be fitting. In the Good News version of Scripture it changes verse 24 up a bit to say “spoke a prayer of thanksgiving”.  I know for many thanksgiving is another busy time where family invades the house, after all the hustle and bustle there is something special about the time where everyone sits down together. People have different traditions around the holiday, but there is an understanding that this is a time to be thankful.

Many different situations happen throughout the world and I have found myself so many times complaining about mine. But just today I spoke to a friend going through a very difficult time she said “It is upsetting but I know that worrying about it won’t help. I am trying to be really intentional about being thankful for what each day offers”. Jesus made that pretty obvious with His last meal with the disciples being one of great thanks and joy, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

So as the season of Thanksgiving is upon each one of us, let us take time to enjoy the company of one another and proclaim the great blessings that we do have. Here in Canada I have the freedom to declare that I am Christian, I have a great family who I love dearly, I have a job that I believe God has placed me in, and I have an overall blessed life. I pray that each of us can see Jesus’ blessings in our lives even through difficult times.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give ear to my words…

by Pastor Heidi Kratz

Psalm 5:1

Give ear to my words…

Since our oldest son has gone away to school in Saskatchewan we text back and forth throughout the week. On Fridays, he gives us a call. We get to hear his voice and we catch up on what we have experienced in our week. The cell service where our son is going to school is not great. Our conversations usually include phrases like…

You’re breaking up.”

Can you hear me now?”

I didn’t get that last part. Can you say that again?”

Give ear to my words”. We can come to Jesus at any time of day, with any situation and He WILL give ear to our words. Our words to the Lord are crystal clear at ALL times. Our prayer can be a whisper, a sigh, or a desperate cry for help. We don’t have to wait for Friday night when you are in the exact spot with good cell service for our prayers to be heard.

It is encouraging to know that when we come before God He will hear our prayers.

Oh, What a Tune Up

By Pastor Gary Jennings

RAP – It’s very simple; and everyone can RAP.  RAP means that you Read a passage; then you think through how you can Apply the passage to your life, and then lastly, you spend time in Prayer. We began RAP in our church this September. It’s great to know that many of us are reading the same passages each and every day. For the month of September our emphasis is, “God’s Wise Words”. This past week our reading kept us in the book of Proverbs. This week it is my turn to share how God has spoken to me from these daily passages.
The book of Proverbs is an amazing book. As I was reading this week, I was thinking that there is no rhythm here. Rhythm to me means that you can move along, and sometimes rather swiftly once you get in the grove. The Book of Philippians is a rhythm book for me. It has one theme and you run with it throughout the book. Proverbs is not like this at all. In my reading this week, I found that every verse seemed to be an incredible book in itself. Every verse stood on its own. Every verse was self-contained and separate. I found myself starting at the beginning of a verse and then at the end of this short verse, stopping to really flesh out the meaning for me and my life. Every verse seemed to be taking me in a different direction, as the message constantly changed. I was learning about the importance of a good character; how to guard my tongue; the need to cross-examine my motives; how to have a heart that pleases God; the need to follow God’s plans and not mine. The need for discipline, and on and on I could go. I feel like I had a tune up as this week’s reading went through so many areas of my life.
If I had to highlight one thing I read, I would highlight the word “fool”. This word shows up a few times in a defining way. I learned that a fool speaks out stupidity. A fool does not listen to a parent’s discipline. Fools feed on folly. Fools find no pleasure in understanding. Wow! This is powerful and deep cutting. I asked myself, “Have I ever been a fool in the past?” The answer is yes. God help me to not be a fool today or in the future.
Proverbs contains what I really need to read. On I go. On we read together.
Pastor Gary Jennings

Wisdom

by Pastor Ruth Denboer

This week we are looking at wisdom. I love what the Bible has to say about wisdom. Again it is one of those things that seems to our human understanding to be completely upside-down. So many things in God’s economy seem to be upside-down compared to what we see around us and have been raised to believe it true.

Look at these verses from 1Corinthians 1

25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

27 “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

Doesn’t that seem a little upside-down … and yet that’s how God works. He wants His power to be seen through our weakness, and His wisdom to shame the wise of this world.

Why, you ask? I believe it is so people can be constantly reminded that God is the supreme creator and we are simply His creation. We can be tremendously used by Him to influence this world with His goodness, His power and His wisdom, but we do not have this ability on our own.

I love also that the Bible says we can ask for wisdom and God gives it to us generously!

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Do you get the picture that God wants us to live life with wisdom. Of course! He always wants what’s best for us. Many times in my life I can look back and see how much better it could have played out if I would have asked for God for wisdom before going into the situation.

This week’s reading have been so encouraging to understand how much God wants us to live with wisdom in everything we do … and how eager He is to bestow it upon us!

May we let these words from Proverbs 8 sink into our hearts as we fill our mind with the words of God. This is the wisdom calling out to us …

Vs 6 “Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right,

Vs 7 for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception.”

What would you wish for?

By Pastor Vern Kratz (Thoughts from I Kings 3)

If you were given the chance to have any wish granted to you what would you wish for? If you could have anything in the whole world what would you ask for?

That sounds like something right out of a fairy tale story, or maybe too much like a genie in a magic lamp.

But this actually did happen. Our reading for this week leads us through some of the life of King Solomon. And early in his reign as king of Israel, God met him in a dream and he told Solomon he could ask for anything and he would be given it.

Imagine, Solomon could have asked for all the wealth in the world. He could have asked for land, or a great palace, but he thought for a moment and then asked for a discerning heart so that he could lead his people justly.

Wow! And it is recorded that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. And it is interesting to note that because of his great wisdom in ruling and governing he also became wealthy and popular. People came from all over to ask his advice.

God was pleased with Solomon and his request for wisdom. He gave it liberally to him.

Wisdom is one thing that God promises to lavish on us liberally if we ask for it. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

When I was a child I used to think life will be so much easier when I become an adult. I would think, “Right now things are difficult because I do not understand everything as a kid, but adults they are so wise – life must be so easy for them.”

Little did I know that I was partially right, you do because wiser as you get older. You do understand life and the world around you more than when you were a child.

But what I didn’t know was that as you get older your need for wisdom becomes disproportionately greater. What I didn’t realize was that as you get older the weight of responsibility can become burdensome. What I didn’t understand as a child was that making decisions was not always a fun task. What I didn’t know was as one become busier their need for wisdom become even greater.

That is why I am so glad for verses like James 1:5 and for the example of King Solomon in 1 Kings 3. One of the best things we can ever ask God for is wisdom, and he is always ready to give us a generous portion of it.

So for whatever situation you are facing right now, for whatever life has thrown at you, for whatever decision you need to make God is waiting to grant you your wish for more wisdom – just ask him for it.

The Joy of Trials

by Pastor Nikki Ragush

This week I had the opportunity to read through the book of James, it is by far one of my favorite books of the Bible as it continues to challenge me each time I read it. In college I was actually challenged in one of my classes to memorize this book and after that experience I quickly fell in love with all that the writer had to say. However, the book of James is not the type of book you read to feel simply encouraged but many times after I read this book I was away feeling the need to reexamine parts of my life. James challenges me in so many ways but I will pick one that comes within the first couple of verse of reading this book.

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

Personally I don’t enjoy going through difficult situations; I like when things are easy, people get along, and life simply falls into place neatly. James was a bit more of a realist though, he understood that sometimes life hands us situations we don’t enjoy and many times that we think we can’t get through. I’m not sure what you are particularly going through today but I know it’s easier to embrace this idea when I’m at a point of reflection, when I am actually going through difficult situations I find it very hard to agree with this.

I’ve been given many opportunities in my life to talk to others about their spiritual walks I’ve seen many different responses including (but not limited to) anger, sadness, frustration, and confusion. I’ve experienced these same feelings and no matter what people say to you it’s very difficult to simply be joyful and truly mean it. The saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” may be true, but in the moment it doesn’t fix the hurt or the pain that is being felt at that time.

Even though I know I must go through times of trial I rarely jump at the opportunity to be tested in this way; however I continue to realize how I need these times. I would never have learned how to walk without falling on my face several times, I wouldn’t be able to tie my shoes now if I hadn’t gone through hours of tears and frustration, and my faith in God would not be as strong if I had not had those times when I most needed to depend completely on him. I remember a time in college where my prayer life began to completely change. I was in a difficult situation I prayed something I had never understood fully before that moment; I prayed “God not my will but yours be done” I completely submitted whatever the future was to him be it easy or difficult. Since then life has not gotten easier and I still don’t enjoy any sort of conflict with people or big changes in plans. However, I am learning to embrace the times in life where we have the ability to grow. The times that have shaped me most are those which I couldn’t understand the reason for in that moment.

Book of Job – Part 2

By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr

Is it possible to quote Scripture and give bad advice at the same time? What an odd question. To answer this we need to look at Job’s friends. In the last post we looked at how there are basically 3 parts to the book of Job. Part 1 – Job’s Tragedy, Part 2 – Job and his friends try to understand tragedy, and Part 3 – God speaks. What I want to focus on today is Part 2 and what kind of advice Job’s friends give.

In Job 2, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar hear of Job’s troubles, they put everything they are doing on hold and travel to Job’s house to comfort their friend. When they meet Job, they don’t say a word, but instead mourn with him for 7 days. So far they sound like pretty good friends. If you have ever been around a friend or family member who has experienced tragedy, you know that sometimes the best and most comforting thing you can do is to say nothing and just be there for them. Job’s friends where doing just that, but after 7 days, they decided to offer an explanation for Job’s situation.

If you remember from the last post, Job loses his family, his business and his health very dramatically in the first 2 chapters of Job. Something as drastic as this just begs for an explanation. So what was the explanation Job’s friends gave? You reap what you sow. I don’t know if you have ever heard this phrase before, but it is a concept that is all over the Bible. You can read about it in Deuteronomy (chapter 28 in particular), Proverbs, and the prophets. Its a farming metaphor which means, if you plant something like wheat, you will get wheat back, multiplied. Galatians 6:7-9 gives us the spiritual version by saying “A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”. This is basically the idea Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are referring to in order to explain Job’s situation. If you follow God, you will be blessed, if you follow your sinful nature, you will experience destruction. So Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar look at Job’s situation, his business is ruined, his family is gone, he is extremely sick . . . this could only mean that Job was secretly a bad person and is now reaping destruction.

This sounds logical and Biblical. But it was not a correct explanation of Job’s situation. Job responds by saying, yes people reap what they sow, yes God is a just god, He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked, these are all true things. But I have done nothing wrong, I am innocent. This situation is different. Derek Kidner says “the basic error of Job’s friends is that they over estimate their grasp of truth, misapply the truth they know, and close their minds to any facts that contradict what they assume”. What was the contradiction? Job was innocent! There was more going on in the book of Job than Job or his friends knew about. In fact, God never explains to them why Job was suffering. They had a limited perspective on what was going on, and it would have been very helpful if Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar took that into consideration.

At the end of the book, God speaks, and he briefly address Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar and says “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has . . . My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has”(Job 42:7-9).

So whats the lesson here? Lesson 1. We all have a limited perspective. Recognize that and let that truth humble you. We don’t know everything, and thats ok. Seriously, it is completely acceptable for a Christian to not have all the answers to every question. We have this thing called faith. Knowledge is fine, but faith is what makes you a Christian. Being good at exercising faith is what makes you a good Christian. Proverbs 3:5 says that we should not lean on our own understanding but trust God with all our hearts. This verse is such a Job verse. Job doesn’t have a clue what is going on, but commits himself to God anyways. This seems to be one of the most important lessons in the Old Testament. We read story after story about people who have a limited perspective and limited understanding but follow God anyways. We read about Moses who had to lead Israel through a river, that made little sense, but it worked out in the end. Joshua had to march around Jericho and sing songs, that made little sense, but it worked out in the end. Noah had to build a big boat in the middle of the desert, that made little sense, but it worked out in the end. Job had to commit himself to God amid his suffering, that made little sense to Job’s friends, but it worked out in the end. We often find ourselves in complex situations that don’t always make a lot of sense. It is comforting to know that all these Old Testament guys found themselves in complex situations as well. When we read these stories, it’s clear that God values faith and commitment from his people way more than understanding. So limited understanding is fine because it gives us all kinds of room to do the most Christian thing we can do, which is to have faith.

Lesson 2. We need to be very careful to not misapply Biblical truth. This is a really subtle but important point. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar manage to quote Scripture and give bad advice all at the same time. How? Job’s situation made little sense to them. It did not fit their understanding of God and how the world worked. So instead of believing their friends innocence, instead of dealing with the complexity of the situation, they ignore it and quote a Bible verse (they didn’t actually quote a Bible verse, its more like they anticipated a Bible verse since Job was likely the first book of the Bible written, but you get the point). There is such a thing as a reckless declaration of truth, where its more important for us to be right about something than it is to be helpful. Guard yourself against that. We should not be quick to quote scripture in order to simply win an argument, or prove we are right, or condemn someone so that we look good, or for any other self seeking and unloving reason. Lets be careful that we don’t misuse the Word of God but use it and apply it to our situations wisely.

And finally a third lesson, the world is complex and we need to commit ourselves to God no matter how clear or confusing our situation is. Understanding is nice but not necessary for following God. God is way more interested in us having faith, trusting in him and following him no matter what situation we find ourselves in. So take every opportunity you can to exercise your faith in God.

Displaced

By Pastor Vern Kratz

I am a creature of habit. For the most part this has worked well for me. I like to park in the same stall. I like to leave my keys in the same spot. I do my work assignments in a similar order with regimented routine.

And because of these habits I can appear to be in control of my situation and very much on top of things. And when all the gears are in motion I have a happy countenance, a pleasant demeanour, and I find it easier to be friendly with people.

But my routines are like a house of cards – you take one away and the whole thing can collapse. The true test of my character doesn’t really happen until I am forced to react to a situation that is apart from my normal routine. Then my true character shows through.

How do I react when an unexpected curve ball is sent hurdling my way? Am I still able to keep a pleasant demeanour and a happy countenance? Is my interaction with people still friendly? Thankfully, most times I can say, “Yes.” But there are times I know I have a lot of room for improvement.

I didn’t realize how much of a creature of habit I was until I was displaced from my office for a few days. Much needed renovations are taking place and I am very grateful and excited about what my office will look like when the improvements are complete, but in the meantime, I have to wander and find other places to work.

At first I just walked in circles and was having a lot of trouble dealing with my temporary situation (I know, I sound like I am whining.) But eventually I found other ways to get things done. I’m sitting in the sanctuary of the church writing this blog. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’m used to sitting at my desk (does it sound like I am whining again?) And I’m going to get this writing done!

In all seriousness, sometimes things happen to us that are out of our control. Even though the situation was not of our making or of our choosing – we still have a choice as to what our reaction will be to that situation.

“A true test of character isn’t how you are on your best days, but how you act on your worst days.”

I don’t hope for bad days or for bad things to happen to me – but sometimes they do. Trouble comes to everyone at some time or another. There will be times we are knocked off our routine, or someone will pop our happiness balloon. How will we react on those days? God, give me the strength to be the same person of strong character.

This morning at the men’s breakfast gathering we look at a man from the bible named Nehemiah. An author wrote this about him:

“It’s hard to imagine your life in captivity. This was the lot of Nehemiah. His beloved nation had been conquered, his people driven to a foreign land where they lived as captives. But Nehemiah was not going to let external circumstances control his character. Instead, he resolved to live with integrity and in reverence before God, regardless of his locale.”

What a strong statement of character. Let’s not allow external circumstances control our character today.

“This too shall pass…”

I’ll be back in my office next week!