Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Faith building snippets from my fridge....

As I work in my kitchen, I will often have the radio on. Either it is set to CBC radio for some news or it is on Faith radio where I can listen to preaching from Woodrow Kroll from Back to the Bible or to James MacDonald from Walk in the Word. Many times as I listen something they say will grab my attention and in order to help me remember what I've just heard, I will jot it down on a notepaper on my fridge. Other times something will pop into my mind that I also feel I need to remember so that too goes on my notepaper.
So here are a few faith building snippets from my fridge collection:
* God is in complete control of everything!
* Lord, let everything I think or say be as spoken to You...
* God places His saints where they will bring Him the most glory and we are totally incapable of judging where that is.
* If you don't want what God wants for your life - you are not filled with His Spirit.
*Once you have prayed in God's will - wait... it's only a matter of time for his answer to come.
* You shall not fear people because the work of  judging belongs to God.
* Choose to sin = choose to suffer (James MacDonald)
* I know my Lord is able to carry me through!
* You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart!
*God fills only what we offer to Him ...consistantly
*Everything has to do with God!
*If your faith hasn't changed you - it hasn't saved you ( James MacDonald)
*When God says.. Don't - He means don't hurt yourself

You many also like to read my post on discipline of children - link here http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/10/snippets-from-my-fridge-family-rules.html

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Teen Challenge - Sunday Sermon Review

"Jesus has made a difference in my life"
Luke 19:10  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Sunday Sermon Review - October 28, 2012
(from my home church I attend regularly)
Topic - Teen Challenge
Text - Luke 19:1-10

Today we had a group of men from Teen Challenge in Winnipeg visiting our church. Actually they were not only visiting, they did the whole service!
Included in the group was Pastor Terry from Teen Challenge and seven men who were in the discipleship program recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. They led us in great worship through music and singing, the sharing of their testimonies and a short sermon.
Please visit Teen Challenge at www.teenchallenge.tc
Three men gave their testimonies - each one with his own story of how he had found freedom from his addictions through a personal relationship in the Lord Jesus Christ. One shared how about how his drug addiction had landed him in Stoney Mountain prison, another how his marriage had been on the verge of collapse due to his addiction, and another shared to what lengths a guy will go to support his addiction. All the men testified to the freedom they found when they turned their lives over to Christ and how Teen Challenge helped them to find freedom. They found love, acceptance and hope for change in the midst of Christians.
Pastor Terry spoke from Luke 19 on the conversion story of Zaccheus.
Here is a little bit of what he said:
Zaccheus was a tax collector for the Romans. He collected what the Romans required but added extra to the bill. In this way he cheated the people of their money.
Zaccheus needed a makeover - someone to give him worth.
Jesus came and gave him that second chance.
In Jesus eyes, Zaccheus was treasured - "priceless"  and loved!
After Zaccheus met Jesus, he was a changed man
Verse 8 gives proof of his change of heart - he is willing to do what it takes to make restitution. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
So also in the Teen Challenge program there is genuine change in the hearts of the men as they find freedom through Christ. The change is unmistakable and indescribable. It is change from the inside out when life has seemed so impossible.
No one who has an encounter with Jesus is ever the same again - Either he is amused by it or changed but not the same!
Many of the men who come to Teen Challenge have never heard of Jesus except as used as a swear word or in a movie and they have certainly never met the person of Jesus before.
Luke 19:1-10  And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Snippets from my Fridge - Family Rules and Discipline

Proverbs 6: 20-22 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

Snippets from my fridge

I like to put pictures, little notes and reminders on my refrigerator door - maybe you do too. As I think back over the last ten or fifteen years, there have been many little snippets on my fridge. Among other things, I like to keep a few pictures of family as well as some reminder type notes to myself to help me to focus on the Lord and His purposes for me. I'd like to share a few snippets from my fridge here in this post regarding family life and discipline of children.
When our children were younger, I kept a "Family Rules" guide posted on the fridge. These were the family rules that I had posted :
1) Love one another
2) Say nice things or say nothing at all
3) No hurting anyone ever for any reason.
4) Respect each other
5) Delayed obedience is disobedience.
6) Everything you do should indicate that you are a kind and loving person.
7) Choose to be joyful

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Now as any parent can testify, the rules were not always kept but they were there set out as a constant guideline of expectations. I was told the most effective way of disciplining a child was to use this method -
Say the child's name, make eye contact, give your instruction to your child in a normal tone of voice, and only one time. The child will learn that you are serious and discipline will follow if he or she  is disobedient. Disciplining your child is hard. But there are a few points that I tried to remind myself of:
A) Am I disciplining in anger or in love - it should be in love
B) By disciplining my child in this way, am I teaching him or am I just punishing him - the goal is to teach.
C) Explain why the behavior the child has just displayed is an unacceptable - stay at this point of  talk till the child understands no matter how long it takes.
D) Carry through with the disicipline you promised would happen.

Watch my blog for more upcoming posts on snippets from my fridge link here http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/10/faith-building-snippets-from-my-fridge.html

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Alcohol and Wine in the Bible

Proverbs 20: 1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

In our world and culture today, we see that the consumption of alcohol is idolized. Even among so called Christians alcohol is being consumed at  parties and weddings. Many people consume alcohol regularly and it becomes an addiction that ruins their lives. We know for a fact that the consumption of alcohol by a pregnant mother is the cause of  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD  - a disability that greatly hinders the abilities of a child causing a perfectly innocent child to live with the consequences of the unwise and unnecessary choice to drink - that choice made by the mother. We see many deaths on the highway due to drunkenness, and it also contributes to poverty, broken homes, violence within families and on the streets. We would all agree that alcohol is a very dangerous substance. I believe the Bible teaches abstinence from all use of alcohol and drunkenness except that a small amounts of wine can be used for medicinal purposes and wine can also be used at the Communion service where we remember the Lord Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.
Let's look into Scripture and see what we find.

First we will look at a few verses that show where the use of wine is appropriate.
Secondly we will look at verses that show us the use of alcohol is not appropriate for a Christian.

The Use of Wine at the Lord's Supper we normally call "Communion".
It is also commonly refered to as "the cup" in the Bible - 1 Corinthians 11: 25-26 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

Matthew 26 : 27-29 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto
you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

The Use of Wine for Medicinal Purposes:
1 Timothy 5: 23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
The Good Samaritan uses wine as he dresses the wounds of the man who fell among thieves.
 Luke 10: 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
They offered Jesus wine to numb his pain on the cross - he refused to accept it  Mark 15:23  And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.

The Bible has strong warnings about drinking and becoming drunk. Drinking leads to addictions, and also to immoral behaviors.
The Lord wants us to be filled with His Spirit and not become filled with any alternatives - not alcohol and not drugs illegal or other. God is our source of strength and he is our refuge in times of trouble.
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Drinking Alcohol  is an unrighteous behavior

Drunkenness is a Sin against God - you may have heard people say that alcoholism is a disease - it is not a disease because you cannot get it from a germ or a virus. It is definitely a sin.
 1 Corinthians 6: 9 says the unrighteous shall not enter the kingdom God  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Then it goes on to list what unrighteous behaviors will prevent entrance into the kingdom  in verses 9-10  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
If any who are reading this knows of someone who  is living in the sin of alcohol, and you may be getting discouraged at this point - I want you to know that there is hope and through faith in the Lord Jesus there is freedom and salvation. 1 Peter 4: 1-4 gives this kind of hope. It says -  Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
Repent of this sin and turn to the Lord for forgiveness and healing.

Drunkenness leads to immoral behavior:
In Genesis 19 is the story of Lot. It is really a very sad story. The two daughters of Lot were afraid they each would never have a husband and be able tohave children and  extend the family line. So together they decide to get their father Lot drunk and so in his drunken state he impregnates both of his daughters.  You will notice that it says that father Lot being drunk " he did not know when she lay down or when she arose" .  Alcohol brings Lot do do such wickedness that he would not do if he were sober.  You can read the story here:
 Genesis 19: 31- 35 Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
34 It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” 35 Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The Best Gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the recipe that I make the most often. I keep them in the freezer so my hubby can have them for snacks etc. They are a favorite to everyone in our family.

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 and 1/2 cups of *rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

In large mixing bowl, combine canola oil, white sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat with mixer. Now add salt, baking soda and mix again. Add the coconut and chocolate chips and the rice flour. Mix with large wooden spoon as you add these ingredients. Set aside in a cool place for 2 hours.
Bake in greased pan in 325F oven for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden.
Cool and enjoy! Store in freezer.
* Rice flour - I grind my own rice flour but I am sure you could also purchase it at a health food store.

Check my archives for my other posts on gluten free eating:



Monday, 22 October 2012

Workers in the Vineyard - Sermon Review

Ask yourself this question - "Will this matter a year from now? (quote from Richard Carlson")

Sunday Sermon Review - October 21, 2012
( from my home church that I attend regularly)
Topic - Workers in the Vinyard

Text - Matthew 20: 1-16
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

The service began with the singing of several songs including 'Amazing Grace My Chains are Gone" as well as a special number 'Hallelujah He is Here" - the song was sung by two guys who dedicated it to a loved one who had passed away recently. Was very well done.
Pastor Ben was the speaker today and spoke on the parable from Matthew 20: 1-16.
Here is some of what he said:
We tend to look at life through the eyes of a formula which says - Do good and you will receive God's blessings, Do bad and get God's punishment and face the consequences. There is a lot of support in the Bible for this formula.
The parable of the workers in the vineyard is actually a continuation of Jesus answering Peter's question from Matthew 19: 27 where Peter says Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
The owner of the vineyard hires people to work in his vineyard -some are hired early in the morning, some at 9AM, some at 12 noon, some at 3PM and the last ones at 5PM. At the end of the day each one receives his paycheck - a penny as promised to those hired first. A penny was equal a day's wage so about $240 in our money. This seems unfair to those hired first but the owner of the vineyard replies Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Ben Identified Three Problems in Us
1) A Commercial Spirit
We try to negotiate or bargain with God. If I do this - what blessing will I receive?
We ask - Is it worth my effort? and if it seems not , we end up choosing the world.
We need to be aware that our rewards become ours when we get to Heaven. It is not wise to choose earthly pleasures over the treasures that are in Heaven.
2) A Competetive Spirit
In the parable, the men hired first would have been happy with their wages if they had not seen what the other guys got.
We too compare ourselves with others and we ask - "God , why did they get that? or Why are You not punishing them? What is the deal here??"
When we do good to get public recognition or think our good behavior will build our good reputation, we are missing out.
3) A Complaining Spirit
We complain about the goodness of God. The Bible says we are do everything without complaining.
We are a richly blessed people and should give thanks.

We Need the Grace of God
God is the owner of everything. God loves to give and bless people.
On the cross, Jesus took our punishment.
Ephesians 2: 8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Why Do Good Then?
To show love
We do good because we have already received God's blessing and grace.
It is a privilege to partner together with God in His kingdom work.
We want to be used of God.
We want to work hand in hand with God to rescue the lost.

The closing song - "I'll Stand".

Friday, 19 October 2012

Living in Contentment...

1 Timothy 6: 6-8  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

We can all testify to the truth of the words spoken by Job of the Bible where in Job 1:21 he says Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
All of us come into this world with nothing and when we die we can take absolutely no material thing with us. We hear of people trying to take their possessions with them but in reality our "stuff" stays on the earth. I heard of a man who loved his violin so much he requested at the time of his death that he be buried together with his violin.
So the question we ask is this - If we cannot take any of our money and possessions with us, why do we stress ourselves to become rich here? Why not be content with the simple things of life. Many people will give up almost anything to earn a more money that they will never use. People give up the opportunity to spend time with their spouse or children, give up their health by over exertion and workaholism, unwilling to give up the day of rest for the Lord, etc for the sake of money.
Now the Bible does teach us that we ought to work, to put in a good day of work for the wages we earn but I am talking about the life that takes the desire to become rich to a point where discontentment sets in.
 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
We need to focus on living a life of contentment. The basic needs of life are food and clothing, and a place to lay our head at night. Above and beyond this is an "extra" from the Lord for our enjoyment.

But in 1Timothy 6: 6 it says But godliness with contentment is great gain. So we see that we need both together - godliness and contentment. This is best described as having a good understanding of the passing nature of life. We are born, the Lord gives us time here to live life, some get many years and others only a few but we all move on to death sooner or later. The things of this world are here when we arrive and we leave them behind when we pass away. We cannot find godliness nor contentment in accumulating things.
We desire that God work his character in us -  through the things that we experience in our lives. We accept God's will for our lives with the continuing thought in our life that as the old songs goes " This World is not my Home - I'm just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue." (that is heaven).  
Living in godly contentment gives peace in our hearts and a calmness. We sense this peace and calmness within our spirit when we see others around us searching for happiness in various unproductive ways - we see peope stressing with working overtime, buying a newer boat, or acquiring more land, or new farm machines, or going on that next vacation or whatever it is, you fill in the blank. We need to pray for them. We need to pray that the Lord continue to fill our hearts with contentment and also pray that the Lord open their eyes to see that the life they are living will never satisfy. That longing deep within the heart can only be filled by the Lord Jesus. More money or acquiring stuff will not satisfy or bring contentment. Only a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus will satisfy the longings of our heart. We keep our eyes on Jesus! We set our eyes on things above, looking and waiting for the appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 6 11-14 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Monday, 15 October 2012

Halloween - Is it wrong?

2 Corinthians 6: 16-17  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Every year when Halloween rolls around there is a debate among Christians and the question is asked - Is it wrong to participate in Halloween festivities? So I will join the debate and share my thoughts on my blog here. I invite anyone to leave your comments as to your thoughts about Halloween.
I want to divide my thoughts into three parts:
1) I want to share about what we have done with Halloween.
2) I want to write a bit about the roots of Halloween and what it represents.
3) I want to share what I believe about Halloween from a Bible perspective.

Halloween - What we've done
Throughout my childhood years, our family never did anything for Halloween. We never went trick or treating and I never dressed up for school Halloween at all. We had Halloween parties at school every year and most of the other kids would dress up. There was a costume parade in the gym and each class had a class party with food and games. I thought it was a lot of fun!
Now that I am a parent ( have been for 20 years ) the question becomes - What do we do with our children for Halloween? In hindsight, I think I can honestly say that we should have done less for Halloween with our kids because it is really about celebrating darkness and evil and that is something that a Christian family should not take part in at all. However, I have always allowed my children to dress up for the school Halloween party. I have never bought an actual costume but we have been creative and used old clothes and just figured out a simple costume. ( Sometimes my kids dressed as hockey players or farmers etc ) The pictures below are my kids and their friends in grade 4 at their school party ( sorry about the quality of the pictures). One of my sons is dressed as a "potatoe chip box" - we made that costume and the other son is a pirate. He made the eye patch and the sword etc.

From my own childhood experience, I knew that it doesn't feel good for a child to stand on the side while everyone else is in the parade so that is why I decided to allow them to participate with a costume. We never have taken our children trick or treating. It just never seemed right nor is it a healthy choice as the kids get so much candy from trick or treating. I think money can be spent more wisely in many other ways. So the Halloween party at school has always been the extent of it for us.

The Origin of Halloween - What does it represent?
Halloween began as a celebration to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the cold and dead of winter. It was believed that spirits would come back from their dead ancestors to try to enter the bodies of people everywhere. Some were very evil spirits. The evil spirits would roam around and cause much trouble. So in order to confuse the evil spirits, people would dress up in various costumes and hope that no evil spirit would recognize them for who they truly are and thus would not enter in. The history of the Jack O Lantern is also a very frightening one. The story is told that a man by the name of Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree and as a result of this trick, when Jack died he was not allowed into hell since the devil had no hold on him. But he soon found that he was also not allowed into heaven either. According to the myth, the devil gave Jack an ember from hell that would help him see in the darkness. Jack hollowed out a turnip and placed the ember inside the turnip and from there it went to the pumpkin and the Jack O Lantern.
From all these two or so origins of Halloween that I have mentioned it is plain to see that it is a celebration of spiritual darkness. It is not a day where God is honored but rather one in which Satan and demons are celebrated in some form either in honor or in fear.

Should a Christian participate in Halloween - What does the Bible say?
It is obvious throughout the Bible that God demands our loyalty to Him completely - 100% . We can not be on the fence so to speak about this. We cannot serve God and the devil at the same time. We cannot be doing things for the devil and for Christ at the same time. Matthew 12: 29-30 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
If we take into consideration the costumes that are popular year after year it is witches, the devil, vampires, things that represent violence and blood. It becomes clear that a Christian can not participate in Halloween. I believe we should stay clear of Halloween. Period.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Can a Camel go through a Needle's Eye?

Matthew 19: 23-24  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
In Matthew 19, Jesus has been teaching the people about entering the kingdom of God. He teaches that little children can come and when a young rich man confronts Jesus about entering the kingdom, we learn that it is hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. That is to say that no amount of money can buy anyone a place in heaven. Then we have this quote from Jesus that many people find very troubling - It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. What does it mean? Many Bible teachers will say that Jesus is just saying that it is impossible simply because trusting in our riches will not save us. While that is completely true there is another important lesson here. Let me explain what my Dad taught me years ago. It starts with this studying this picture. ( The picture is taken from my German Picture New Testament that I got from my parents as a gift in 1970).
The very small door is "the Eye of a Needle"

In the Bible times the towns and cities had walls of stone all the way around the city. The walls were quite thick and people could easily walk on the top of the wall. We remember the story of Jericho and how Joshua and the people marched around the city each day for 6 days and on the 7th day they marched around seven times and when they shouted the walls came tumbling down. These types of walls had some larger doorways and gateways and as you can see in the picture there is a small door within the larger set of doors. This small door is called the "Eye of the Needle" or the Needle's Eye". So when Jesus spoke these words to the disciples they will have known very well that he spoke of the very small door of the city wall. In order for a camel to go through this small door, a camel would have to kneel down and allow itself to be helped through that door. So it is a picture of humility that Jesus is describing here. Just as we must come to Jesus for salvation in a childlike way  - a child is needy and trusting and doesn't doubt so also we come to Jesus in humility. We come in humility confessing our sins because we need Jesus to help us through the door to salvation exactly like the camel needs to humbly go on his knees and accept the help to come in. What Jesus says here about the camel going through the "Eye of the Needle" is really a very important lesson and beautiful picture of salvation.
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Giving to the Poor..Sermon Review

Sunday Sermon Review - October 14, 2012
(from my home church that I attend regularly)
Topic - Giving to the Poor ( money or Jesus )
Text - Matthew 19: 13-30

Matthew 19: 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
The service began with singing several songs including "How Great Thou Art" and " I Surrender All"
I had forgot to bring my Bible and note paper with me to church today so I took a few notes on my bulletin sheet but not like I would normally do.
We had a speaker do an update from Campus Crusade for Christ and also a compelling short video about defeating extreme poverty in our world.
Pastor Ben brought the message today. Here is some of what he said:
In our Scripture passage today, Jesus tells the young rich ruler to sell everything he has in verse 21 - If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,  This brings two questions to mind (1) Why would Jesus say this? (2) Would Jesus actually say that to us also?
So (1) is Why? Jesus has just finished pointing out that we need to come to Him in childlike faith - verse 14  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Then we see this rich young man coming to Jesus with the question - Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? To this Jesus responds - Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Pastor Ben pointed out that this rich young was not asking how to be saved when he asked about eternal life. The rich young man was a Jew so in his day he would have believed that being a Jew automatically put him in right standing with God. (Of course we know this is not the case) What he was asking was how to attain abundance in life and to fill the emptiness in his life. So Jesus points out that his wealth is what is blocking him from the abundant life and therefore he needs to sell it and give the money to the poor. This man's wealth had a hold on his life. God needs to be #1 and not our money.
Wealth gives people identity and security and therefore people are  not willing to give it up. Jesus says in verse 24  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. and this seems impossible to the disciples. (A note from me here: Please check my post titled " Can a Camel go through a Needle's Eye" link to post here   http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/10/can-camel-go-through-needles-eye.html   as there is an important teaching on this that I share there.)
Wealth holds people from God and it is dangerous to trust money rather than God. It then becomes idolatry. If we have a place to live and food to eat we are "rich" - that is more than most people in the world have.
Ben asked the question - If we become reliant on our money to get our needs fulfilled - then what do we need God for?? What do you dream about for your future? Do you need money to fulfull that dream or do you need God to fulfill the dreams you have?
Money has a grip on us that pulls us away from God.
(2) Would Jesus every say that we should sell our possessions and give it to the poor? Yes it is a possibility he might say that. We need to be willing to live in obedience and surrender to the Lord.
We will be rewarded for living in obedience and surrender to the Lord. We will be rewarded here and more importantly in heaven.
Matthew 19: 27-29 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?   And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 
We need to believe that God is good. He is a good God. It is God's desire that we be in community with one another - praying for one another and helping those in need.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Down Syndrome is Beautiful...

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month.
I thought I would share some pictures of my daughter to celebrate her precious life. She is truly beautiful.

Psalm 139: 13-14  For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.   I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

 Our baby was born in the local hospital here but was rushed to Winnipeg by ambulance when it was determined that she was seriously ill. So I spent sometime in the hospital in Winnipeg as well. I remember one particular doctor in Winnipeg speaking to me about my daughter's condition and the way he spoke puzzled me. He kept implying that we would be giving her up to adoption. There was no way that I was going to give her up for adoption. So I had to tell him very plainly "We are keeping her". That changed the conversation. I could not imagine a doctor suggesting to me that I should give up my child. There had never been a question in our minds whether we would keep her. My husband and I knew that God had planned this special baby for us, that he wanted us to love her and raise her and that really she is God's little girl. She is a gift to us for this short time on earth.

Psalm 139:15-16  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:17-18 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible Tells me so!
Information about Down Syndrome
(Information from the National Down Syndrome Society)
*People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
*All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
* Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome
*Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels
*People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
* A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Grace - Wrapping the Gift of Forgiveness

2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Forgiving the person or persons who hurt us deeply is hard work - it is a process and takes time. I say this from personal experience. Some time ago I wrote a blog post titled Forgiving the Hard Stuff, Justice and Healing. I would like to encourage everyone to read it - link to the post here - http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/06/forgiveness.html
If you are like me and have been working forgiveness through your mind and focusing on getting it to completion, you will agree that as much as you want forgiveness toward that person to be complete, you feel inadequate in getting it done and in the depths of your heart you wonder if there is more "forgiving" to do in order to feel that completeness in your heart.
Since I have been in process of forgiving for a few years now, and I really want it to be complete, God has been gracious to me and revealed to me that I need His grace to do the rest of the work in my heart. I have come a long way but I am weak - He is my Strength and He assures me that I can leave it to Him to complete the work of forgiving my offender in my heart and  I cannot reach that point without His intervention of grace in my heart. With His grace He covers my weakness with His Strength. Then in Him  and through Him I am made complete. 
In my mind I see giving forgiveness as giving a gift to a person. I want to give the gift ( with my whole heart I want to give this person this gift) but the gift is not ready to give until it is wrapped in beautiful gift wrap. Grace is that gift wrap which provides completeness to the gift of extending forgiveness.
After the Lord had revealed this lesson in grace to me, He affirmed it to me again through the teaching of one of my radio Bible teachers. I praise the Lord for this! The radio Bible teacher said that sometimes the sin done against us by our friend or whoever is so huge that forgiveness is not humanly possible. The pain from a deep hurt can resemble post traumatic stress disorder with similiar symptoms ( nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, sadness, fear, loneliness). It is at such a time that we need Jesus to help us and He will! Jesus experienced extreme betrayal and from the cross and in Luke 23: 34 it says Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  When the pain is so huge, Jesus comes and takes over and carries the pain for us. He does the work of forgiveness through me in a miraculous way. Every time the pain surfaces and reoccurs in our heart we must turn to the Lord in prayer and again and again leave it with Him there. His Grace is sufficient for me.
1 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
It is so important to be able to forgive completely since to live with these burdens of pain and hurt in our hearts are dangerous to our own health. Jesus wants to take all of our burdens and anxieties and replace it with His peace. He is the Healer of our broken hearts. In Luke 4:18  Jesus says - he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,
Lets remember to constantly bring our cares to the Lord in prayer.
Phillipians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Turning 50! ...Part 2

In my earlier post titled  Yep I'm Turning 50 Part 1 (  http://sharingthefaith-northernsparrow.blogspot.ca/2012/10/yep-im-turning-50-part-1.html ), I shared how my family surprised me with a birthday party two months early. I want to be able to look back here on my blog and remember the party and the gifts my Mom and sisters came up with for the "50 gifts for your 50th birthday box!"
So I took some pictures in order to help me remember everything:

I will call this one "My Fifties Stuff"
There is a jar of  Over the Hill Pills, a bottle of Niffty Fifty Pills, a nice coffee cup, a bit of "aged" honey from the farm-but not 50 yet!, a jar of 50 mints, 50th napkins, lens eyeglass cleaner, a keychain that says "people born on this day are great perfectionists. They enjoy being with family and relatives. People who like to set high standards. They can be wary of strangers."

Next is my "Heaven is Best" collection -
The note with the teapot reads as follows:
Just a little bit of advice-"some gold"
For times you are feeling kind of OLD-
Sit down and have a cup of tea
And remember " The BEST is yet to be!"

The kitchen scrubber holder is a cow to remind me of milking our dairy cows on my parents farm in my growing up years. The note there says - Did you ever see such a sight in your life - A far cry from what you used to milk!

Next is my "Purple Collection"
I was told at the party that an old lady like me should wear purple - so they gave me a purple scarf, a purple necklace, a purple wallet ( with a nickel and a penny inside! LOL) , a vase with purple flowers in it, another vase saying "Forget me not", and a couple of books - "My Jesus is Everything" by Anne Graham Lotz and  "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life" by Charles Swindoll.  Along with my purple collection was a poem which I will share here:
 (by Jenny Joseph)
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me
And I shall spend my pension on summer gloves
and satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick flowers and learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and set a good example for our children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple!

Next - A Purple Hyacinth bulb, A phonebook to read in my sparetime, and everything to make Lemon Tarts

and knitting needles and yarn so I can start knitting!

Childhood Memories
Our Old Teddy Bear says :
I've had a lot of lovin' in my younger years-
But I sure wouldn't mind a bit more in these
Olden GOLDEN Years!

More Childhood Memories
When we were kids, my sister and I used to make purses out of cereal boxes just like this when we would play so my sister made a purse for my 50th birthday!
An old ball and a rubber ball with notes to go with:
Rubber Ball note - This rubber ball reminds me of our childhood days- only it still has it's color on it - ours usually did not keep the color very long. We used them for 7-up, catch, baseball at times or even to play Anti Anti Over ( in Low-German we would shout - anten, anten sant soa dumm de fracten hoava) 
Other Ball Note-It will be interesting to see
If you still remember me
Bouncing around was so much fun
 In the shade or in the sun!
Who or what do you think I am?

The Everything Else Gift Collection

So to all my family Thanks very much for making this a Thanksgiving day and birthday party a day to remember!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Yep .. I'm Turning 50! - Part 1

Proverbs 16:31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

A Surprise Party for me 2 months early - That basically says it all! You see, this year when my birthday rolls around I will be 50. So on the weekend while at our Thanksgiving family get-together my Mom and sisters ( I have five sisters) caught me by surprise. I knew that with my 50th birthday coming up in December, they wouldn't forget but I just wasn't expecting it yet. After all we had just celebrated my other sister's 60th just last month.
It seemed like any ordinary family gathering we would have - lots of visiting and laughing and enjoying seeing everyone again. We were all sitting at the supper just finishing the main course of our Thanksgiving turkey dinner, when one of my sisters brings out a cake and everyone starts singing Happy Birthday! My first thought was I had missed something, maybe forgot someone's birthday and I didn't instantly even know it was for me. I don't have a picture of the cake yet but when I get one I will post it. So after blowing out my candles  and enjoying the delicious birthday cake my sister had made, came the gifts. What they had done was get a huge box and fill it with 50 gifts - many of the gifts were meant to rub it in a little bit that I am "getting old" while some of them were childhood memory type gifts. It was fun - opening every gift and trying to guess who had picked it for me.  Here is a picture of the gift box. One of my sisters had decorated it to represent our red Venture van we used to drive.

This next picture is where I have opened all my gifts. I will do another post on the gifts as some of them came with notes and were pretty fun to open!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Five Reasons to Live Generously - Sermon Review

Sunday Sermon Review - October 7, 2012
Topic - Five Great Reasons to Live Generously
(from my home church that I attend regularly)
Speaker - Jacob Friesen

This is Thanksgiving weekend. The service began with singing several songs - "Wonderful Saviour Wonderful God",  "I'll Stand", and  "What a Friend we have in Jesus".

We had a guest speaker in our church today named Jacob Friesen from Winnipeg.
He began his sermon by outlining the basic drift of his message in discussing the joy of giving, how to live a life of generousity, and asking the question - why should we give? Does it really matter whether we give or not?
2 Corinthians 9 : 6-7 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver

The message is based on 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15 ( posted at the bottom )
Here is some of what our speaker said:

The church in Jerusalem was in need and Paul wants to bring a gift to them from the believers in Corinth.
When it comes to giving, there are two kinds of attitudes in people - 1) A heart that holds back and says How much of my income can I keep for me? and 2) A heart that wants to give and says How much can I share?
Generousity starts with God - God has more than enough resources to provide for you. It all comes from God. You can never out give God. In prosperity there is a danger to forget the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:10 -When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

Five Great Reasons to be Generous
#1) It Reminds Us that We Belong to God - Everything comes from God
Our Heavenly Father will take care of us because we belong to Him

#2) There Is More Where This Came From -
It is not about how much we have that determines whether we can give or not
It is not about the worthiness of the project in question - It is about the Nature of God
Everything belongs to our Heavenly Father and He is able to give more.
Verse 10 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

#3) Giving Honors God -
God is honored when we give generously
Mr Friesen mention the bus driver in Winnipeg who recently became famous when he gave his shoes to a homeless person on the street.
Verse 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

4) We Give in Obedience to God's Word -
God has told us to be generous as He is generous

5) We Will Be Blessed
A life of generousity pays great dividends
When we become selfish and hoarding people, we become alone and lonely
As we give, God gives more and it brings joy that keeps multiplying
Verse 6  and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Bonus Point - #6 - We Can be Generous because Christ Lives in Us-
Christ enables us to open our hand
It is God's amazing grace that enables us to be generous.
Verse 15  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

We have placed our trust in the Lord God Almighty. He will provide for us.
Life is uncertain but God is Faithul.

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Why I would Vote for Romney...

Psalm 75: 6-7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Someone has said that a definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same actions but expect to get different results. That statement could be applied to the current administration of the United States. How can anyone imagine that borrowing billions of dollars continually with no intentions of repaying that debt could lead to any good result??
As a Canadian I am watching the USA Presidential Elections campaign going on. I understand that my opinion about it has no bearing at all in the election itself but that doesn't mean that I cannot be interested. I watched the debate a couple nights ago. Mitt Romney definitely won that debate - no doubt about it! But who will the American people choose as their next President in November of this year?

Here in Canada we currently have a Conservative majority government with Stephen Harper as Prime Minister. I like that - it is good for our country. I support the Conservative Party in elections whenever I can.
I have heard American Christian preachers say that they cannot vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. In my opinion, in an election for President you are not choosing a God whom you will serve - You are choosing a President who is capable of leading the country.  Obama has proved his capabilities in the last four years. So the question is not who believes exactly as I do? or is the person running a Christian?  Of course we would prefer to have a Christian to be our Prime Minister or President but there are only two choices. So the question rather becomes - Who is the one that shares my moral values and lives with integrity and will move the country in the right direction? I think it is extremely concerning when a person claims to be a Christian but then denies Christ in his political decisions. If one does not claim to be a Christian at all, you must look at his backgound - Does he live with integrity and does he have good moral standards? Will he be able to guide the economy and stop the wasteful spending?
In the Canadian election process, you must vote for a candidate who represents one of the three main Parties( Conservative, Liberal or New Democratic Party)  and thereby the vote you cast is a vote for your local representative and also for the Party and Leader of that Party. So in the last election here in Canada, I voted for Vic Toews who represents the Conservative party in my region and so by voting for the Conservative candidate my vote also helped to elect Stephen Harper as Prime Minister. Personally I do not agree with Vic Toews because I am offended that he lived an immoral life and divorced his wife of many years. That being said I still voted for him because I knew Stephen Harper was the man who needed to be Prime Minister. He is a strong family man, he guides the economy well and is a friend to Israel and he is not afraid to stand his ground even if it is not politically popular.
In the same way, Mitt Romney may not be the perfect man in some ways but he most certainly has the country's best interests in his platform. He has experience in economic issues, he understands the risks of the government's spending problem, he is smart, also a good family man who sincerely loves his wife and family, he is a strong supporter of Israel and also not afraid to stand strong even against Obama ( as we saw in the debate).  Whereas it seems that Obama is bent on destroying the USA. I would fear for the people of the US if Obama got another 4 years as President. He seems weak and cowardly, he doesn't hesitate to increase the deficit, he does not stand strong with Israel, he is promoting Muslim Brotherhood takeovers, but he also loves his family though at the same time is trying to destroy the traditional family. He strongly promotes homosexuality and abortion. He says he is a Christian but does not stand for Christian values. I would rather vote for someone who says he is a Mormon and is honest about it as Romney is than for someone who says one thing but lives another.  There are only two choices - and the Obama choice is really not an option.
In my opinion, of course you also must look at their running mates. Paul Ryan's values and morals are far more in line with Biblical principles than Joe Biden's. If something were to happen to the President, would Biden be able to provide leadership required in a crisis or would Paul Ryan be more equipped to do so?

We must always remember that the final out come rests with God. God will put the man in office who will fulfill His preordained prophetic plan. God's timetable will not change and if the endtime prophecies and tribulation are about to begin, then God will put the man in the Whitehouse whom He has chosen to be in there for that appointed time. Trust in the Lord because He will  never fail you.
Psalm 146: 3-5 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God: