Looking Up

As a six-year-old, I spent some evenings learning from my mother to write in Chinese. She began by deftly forming several Chinese characters at the head of a large copybook and explaining what they meant. I would then copy each of her characters multiple times in a slightly crooked vertical line below her example.

I quickly discovered that, if I simply looked at the character I had just written while writing the next one, I wouldn’t have to crane my short neck nearly as far to examine my mother’s original work. This strategy seemed to work well until my mother came along and discovered that one of my characters had dropped a line, that the one below had dropped both the line and a little box, and that the third was missing the line, the box AND a central stroke. Relying on my own nearby scrawls instead of on my mother’s smooth models at the top resulted in a sort of Telephone game on paper, where each attempt became less and less like the first example. Accuracy came at the price of taking the time to look up at my mother’s work each time, no matter how confident I felt in my own imitations.

The imitation game changed as I entered teen-hood, full of insecurity over how to behave and what kind of a person I wanted to be. I started looking to role models—teachers and youth leaders, especially—to figure out this crazy rollercoaster called life. Occasionally, I had a phase of intense adoration for some female teacher or young leader. I would observe this person closely for several months, thinking admiringly, “That’s exactly how I want to behave when I grow up. I want her poise, humour, gentleness, confidence…I want to be her!”

Unfortunately, at some point in each of these phases, my blissful bubble of blind devotion popped. My practically perfect role model would do or say something which would make me think, “That’s not what I would do,” or worse, “That’s not what God would want.” There would follow a period of disappointed questioning: did I really want to imitate this person? Or was God calling me simply to be the person He had lovingly formed in my mother’s womb? To look up to His perfect example for how to live my life, even if it meant searching beyond the people around me in prayer and in His Word? In daily life decisions, would it be wiser to ask, “What would she do in this situation?” or discern what Jesus would do instead?

Today, I am a teacher with many wonderful teenage students. As much as I long to do right by them and model God’s love and character through what and how I teach, there are times when I fall short. My prayer is that my students learn to see themselves as God sees them and to know the security of being the perfect Maker’s imperfect, but beloved, child.

Thinking back fondly on my teenage “fangirl” phases, I thank God for the wisdom, character, intelligence and confidence these amazing adult women modelled for me. I believe He brings models into our lives who exude His character—we are made in His image, after all—and whom we can learn from, be it in the church or our neighbourhoods.

I also thank God for those “bubble-pop” moments of disillusionment. Although we are made in the image of God, we are not God: “all have sinned and fall short of [His] glory” (Romans 3:23). To look up to more experienced leaders and Christians is incredibly beneficial for a time, especially as we start on the journey of faith. However, to look only to a fellow human to meet our needs for spiritual and emotional growth, and to fix our eyes on that human rather than on their original Creator, can only disappoint us in the end. If taken too far, it leads to idolatry.

I wonder if the apostle Paul understood this tendency to focus on the close and convenient when he wrote, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

These words used to discourage me. How could I ever be just like God and Jesus? Now, I wonder if Paul was not so much calling the Ephesians to contort themselves towards impossible standards of love and holiness, as he was reminding them of whose they were and whose right example to follow. After all, my mother never expected me to copy her exquisite Chinese characters perfectly from the get-go. All she did was gently remind me to look up.

How can we take the time to look up at the perfect Head who is before all things and in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:18)?

Heart (Re)tuning

My palms burned as I held the tuning peg on my cello in a death grip, tightening it millimetre by stubborn millimetre. Would it stay put? Cautiously picking at the string, I heard a perfectly pitched “A” ring out. The moment I released the peg, though, it immediately backslid to the original position, leaving me with a string hanging limply by a piece of wood. As time-consuming as the tuning process took, there was no shortcut if I wanted the instrument to play decently. I just wished I hadn’t let it sit long enough to get *so* out of tune.

In the daily news, harsh tones of fear and anxiety echo throughout the COVID-19 reports, stories of senseless murders and racist attacks, and accounts of other horrors ranging from the local to global scale. Facing this cacophony, I wonder if we as a church also need to regularly check our built-in instruments of worship–our hearts–to make sure they’re in tune.

Too often, whatever thanksgiving my prayers start off with is too quickly buried under a landslide of requests: that God would have mercy on the suffering, that He would keep my family and friends safe, that He would give me a discerning heart for the topsy-turvy challenges of the coming day, that He would give a certain student a helpful nudge to hand his homework in…the list goes on.

God does want to hear us voice our needs. Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father is more than willing to give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11). In fact, we are encouraged to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). Yet, sometimes, the worries and sorrows and all I want the Lord to do threaten to take centre stage in my conversations with Him, pushing into the wings all that He has already done.

Time and again, the themes of praise and thanksgiving pop up in the Bible. Almost every one of Paul’s New Testament letters opens with a passage thanking or praising God. Curiously, these words of thanksgiving always come first. And I wonder if these joyful prologues serve as heart-tuners. Tuning pegs that pull us away from the “sour notes” of worry, bitterness, shame or irritation lingering in the chambers of our souls. Thought-knobs that limber up the strings of limp, exhausted spirits.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Remember you are talking with the God who:
● enriches you in all speech and all knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:4),
● mercifully comforts you in all afflictions (2 Corinthians 1:3),
● blessed you in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, predestined you for adoption as a child through Jesus Christ, redeemed you through his blood, forgave your trespasses and lavished grace upon you (Ephesians 1),
● begins and completes good works in you (Philippians 1:6),
● teaches believers to grow in faith and love (2 Thessalonians 1:3),
● gives us a spirit of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:3),
● … (It turns out that the list goes on here, too.)

A friend and I recently discussed what it would be like to begin prayers with at least one minute of praise and gratitude for what God has already done. It’s not always easy. Years of launching into litanies of supplication after only a brief note of appreciation tempts me to spend more time on the “Would you please, Lord,” than on the “Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord!”

But the more I focus on all that this Lord has already done for me and humankind, the more I am awed by His gracious and generous character. Sometimes, the gratitude list gets so long that I never get to the requests. Or, if I do, it is less out of desperation or frustration and more out of trust in the One who gives the best gifts in His time.

While it takes time to tune–and retune–my heart to thanksgiving as it backslides to discontent, fear and other “sour notes,” this promises the hope of living and thinking in harmony with the great Conductor of heaven and earth.

How do you fine-tune your heart to sing in the tones of reverence, awe and gratitude that are due to the loving Creator and Saviour of all things? How can we challenge ourselves and each other to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God” (Philippians 4:5)?

Doing Real Life Face to Face

Vancouver continues to be considered one of the loneliest places for people who want honest face to face relationships. The pressure to accomplish, to survive, to be significant can be overwhelming. Even if you’re proficient with social media – sometimes that flow of seconds between responses seems like an unbridgeable gap.

Have you had moments where you felt a tinge of loneliness lately? There didn’t seem anyone available to share in your joy, your challenge, your desire, your hope? The space around you seemed a little too empty?

Vancouver continues to be considered one of the loneliest places for people who want honest face to face relationships. The pressure to accomplish, to survive, to be significant can be overwhelming. Even if you’re proficient with social media – sometimes that flow of seconds between responses seems like an unbridgeable gap.

Most people have their eyes locked on a screen instead of locked on the eyes of another. The upcoming generation is considered the “connected generation” and yet they can sit side by side without even looking at each other. People have chirps, chimes, buzzes and tones streaming out of their pockets. These distractions keep them from getting to any depth with anyone they could be physically present with.

We’ve grown used to the delusion and deception that somehow the individual who is not here is more important than the one we are with – and the one left sitting alone while the other person leaves to talk is left to accept this reality. It’s a subtle message we don’t always realize we are delivering. This tension of always having to be available for someone else (where we say I have to take this) sucks at the margins we need to create healthy relationships.

Technology itself is no more evil than paper. It’s a tool for communication that can be used for good or harm. The issue of disconnecting from each other only accentuates our sense of loneliness.

Carey Nieuwhof, in his book Didn’t See It Coming (pp.71-71) sees that technology, as it is often used, has brought about the demise of genuine conversation and of confession. He says:

Great conversation is a beautiful art. It involves the exchange of ideas between two or more people who care enough about one another to listen as well as speak. Sadly, conversations seem to be devolving into an exchange of monologues among people who don’t seem terribly interested in one another. People today appear to be talking at one another more than they’re talking with one another. Next time you’re in a conversation with someone, wait to see how often you get asked a question. It might be as simple as “How are you doing, really?” or “That’s fascinating – can you tell me more?” Questions are the turning points for great conversation and intriguing connections with people.

Social media sometimes gets us focused on telling others what we are doing and our live verbal interactions follow suit to the point where we are simply exchanging chunks of information back and forth without the curiosity and communication we crave for in human relationship building.

Nieuwhof also notes that the loss of confession is also significant (he doesn’t mean Catholic). He says:

The type of confession I’m talking about has a much broader and far deeper meaning….Confession is a part of prayer and life where we come before God and one another to admit all that we aren’t: our shortcomings, our intentional sins, and myriad unintentional sins. When we confess our brokenness, we admit that we are not all we pretend to be, hope to be, or could be. We own up to the fact that we are a mess.

He continues: “We avoid confession because it requires us to look in the mirror. It demands revealing the real you that you don’t want anyone to see. This is the you God would love for you to bring to him, but you (and I) steadfastly refuse to surrender. The shift away from confession leaves most of us in a precarious state. Particularly younger adults, teens, and kids who were raised in a society that ignores sin.”

Something to think about. What keeps you disconnected from others? At Faith we are building a culture of grace where people can connect face to face. Through sacrificial hospitality, caring small groups, corporate worship and compassionate acceptance we trust that God is doing something special among us in a city that is filled with desperately lonely people. You can change all that by changing the focus from what is happening to you to focusing on what is happening to someone near you. It’s amazing what happens within you when you discover what is happening in someone else. For the health of us all, think of how you can engage another with questions and ask away. Whatever happens, remember that you are loved more than you can ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

Who is Unreachable?

Our church motto is to make disciples for Christ from all nations. The word ‘nations’ actually refers to ethnic groups even if we don’t have flags to represent them all.

The sign outside our church says “50 Nations – One Family.” Sometimes we might think that if we have one representative from within the political boundaries of a country that God’s vision is satisfied and we can check that country off the list where every tribe, tongue and nation is included around the throne of Jesus for eternity.

Nigeria is one country but it has 540 distinct ethnic groups. We have three of those groups represented in our church family. It looks like we have room to reach out further.

With 16,600 distinct people groups in our world we realize that people with “shared language, religion, ethnicity, residence, occupation, class, caste etc.” need to be reached with the love of God, the truth of his Word, and the life of his Spirit. 6,700 groups are still considered as unreached with less than 2% of their people knowing Jesus. Your neighbour and my neighbour are possibly in this arena.

20% of the world’s population live among the one-and-a-half billion people who embrace Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or other religions where there is no significant Christian witness. 80% of these religious adherents have no access to any follower of Jesus.

I’ve read data which says that if 2 ½ percent of innovators can latch onto a vision then there is potential for a whole culture to change. Our Technology businesses market their products with this in mind. At Faith, we may just have the percentage needed to take us across ethnic, social, and language barriers. Hospitality could be a key to overcoming boundaries.

Ethnic, religious, language and cultural boundaries aren’t the only things that might have us cross someone off of the potential convert list. Lifestyle choices might also have us giving up on someone.

A former lesbian feminist named Rosario Butterfield has become a prominent spokesperson in reminding us not to give up on people who are in the LGBTQ communities. She came to Christ have years of gentle relationship building by a Christian neighbour – who also happened to be a pastor. She was an articulate and intelligent University professor who finally understood the radical claims of Christ on his people.

Butterfield was recently interviewed by Lindsey Carlson in an online Christianity Today article on April 27th of this year. Here is one question:

How does radically ordinary hospitality look when you live in a community where people go to and from work, pull their cars into the garage, shut the door, and never speak to their neighbors? How do you engage people who seem completely uninterested and never accept your invitation?

Give open invitations, especially invitations for events that are outdoors. We will put an invitation on an app called NextDoor saying, “We’re going to have a cookout. Bring a folding chair and a friend.” And we’ve realized there’s a 10 percent rule. If you invite everyone out, about 10 percent will come. And I’d say be consistent about hosting. Be warm in responding to people. Cast wide nets. In some cases, if we’re responding to a crisis, we have our church there helping. That way, when neighbors show up, 30 people are already there. They’re grilling, talking, filling water balloons, handing out watermelon. It takes away the awkwardness of being the first to walk up.

We forget hospitality isn’t a nice add-on you do when you happen to have a spare Saturday afternoon. It’s the bridge that God is going to use to solve the biggest problems in people’s lives.

Realize your neighbors are struggling with things. I don’t care how meticulous the garage looks when the door closes. Nobody is doing great. I’m not doing great; you’re not doing great. We’re tired, we’re cranky, and we need help. And if that’s true of those of us who have the power of the Holy Spirit in us, how much more for those of us who don’t?

The ministry of open hearts, open hands and open doors makes all the difference no matter who is in our neighbourhood. Who do you think God might encourage you to engage with over these next few months? Is there anyone on that list who you used to think might be unreachable? What would it take for you to add a few more of those names for intentional interaction over the days ahead?

A Mom’s journey in the love of Jesus Christ

The calm before the storm, the quiet before the chaos…I sit at my kitchen table reading a story while everyone is still asleep. It is about a mom of three boys and her journey as she tries to raise them in the love of Christ. It is inspiring and motivating and a little intimidating.

Over the week end I spent too much time in Facebook as many of us do. I scrolled through people’s photos of their clean living room, their Martha Stewart dinner, and their smiling children and a feeling of inadequacy washes over me. Why does everyone else have it together?

On Saturday, I sat in the waiting room at my daughter’s ballet school chatting with another mother. I listened to her talk about their morning routine. How her kids loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, swept the floor and rarely even argued. The same feeling of inadequacy confronted me again.

Why does it feel like my kids are the only ones arguing constantly? Why am I the only one who can’t seem to keep the floor clear of toys or the bathroom mirror free from handprints? If so many other can do it why cant I?

This brings us to Sunday morning, a rush of activity trying to get everyone fed, dressed and semi-presentable for church. We make it out the door with only two minor arguments and one spilt glass of juice. Everyone piles into the SUV and then piles out and rushes into the back of the sanctuary to quietly take our seats. Not 5 minutes into the service and my two-year-old is running out to look for cookies and my 4-year-old is telling me she is SO bored. Finally, the pastor calls for children’s time and Sunday school dismissal. The kids run off and I am left alone. I breath a sigh of relief, no one had a melt down during the prayer so it was a success so far. As I Iisten to the message that old familiar feeling of inadequacy creeps up again. He is talking about staying connected to the Lord, gulp. I love the Lord deeply but how much time do I spend with him? I can easily make excuses about how busy I am or how tired I am or how there is just no spare minutes in the day. But I know somehow that is not valid.

I gaze out the window at the parking lot replaying the hours and minutes in my day and consciously try to see how I could add that time into my day. Then I remember that uncomfortable conversation I had with he ballet mom on Saturday. She was talking about how she gets up an hour early to read and pray. Maybe I could do that? My thought is interrupted by the worship team as they begin to close the service.

After the service I gather my crew and head for the door as quickly as I can before I lose one. Someone stops me just as I am about to get through the door with all four kids. She smiles at all the kids and then she begins to commend me. “You look so beautiful and you are always so organized and on time. Your children are so kind and polite. You have it all so well put together.” I thank her then head to the car. As I drive home I laugh to myself and I think about that sweet woman’s comment and how far from reality it is. How can she look at MY family and say we were on time, or quiet or put together? I haven’t washed my hair in…well I won’t say how long and my sons hair is growing wings because he needs a haircut so badly. She is not seeing my sink full of dishes and basket full of laundry at home. She is just seeing a glimpse of a much larger picture.

Later that evening I returned to social media before heading to bed. I scrolled through some more pages and the gnawing feeling of inadequacy returned. I turned to my husband sitting on the couch next to me and made the comment, how come everyone else looks so put together. He very wisely said to me “That is just their highlight reel.”  I turned back to my phone and went to look at my profile. I realized that if I had been someone else looking at my posted photos I would have thought my life looks pretty perfect too.

We all work so hard to appear perfect, to appear on top of the world, but why? It is a vicious façade of judgement really. I judge others and they judge me and I’m constantly wondering who I measure up to and who I don’t.

 

A familiar verse was brought to my attention this week – Psalm 139:13-14 [highlight1]“You created me in my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”[/highlight1] The Lord has quietly reminded me that I am his child and he has created me perfect. He gave me the perfect set of skills to be a mother to MY Children, he gave the perfect temperament to be in MY marriage and he loves me perfectly where I am at. He knows me, all of me. He knows about the times I yell at my kids, the times I am selfish, the times I am late or messy or mean and he loves it all. I do not need to be afraid to show the good, bad and ugly because I am redeemed.

I am challenged this week to try to be more authentic, to break the cycle of comparing in my own community. Not to air all my dirty laundry but just to stop the battle of trying to hide all the imperfections, all the real-life moments. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, we are loved by the king and we need to extend authentic love and grace to ourselves and to those around us!

[quote title=”Mercy” Text=”“Mercy doesn’t erase mistakes but it always redeems it, and in the process erases guilt” ” name=”April Buhler” name_sub=””]

 

 

Suffering -a week of reflections

When in the middle of a trial it is easy to ask. “Why me?” We are tempted to look
at others and assume they have no troubles. A struggling friend said “others in the
church have perfect lives and can’t understand mine”. Being privileged to “pastor”
many I can attest that suffering is pretty universal. It may be a bad report from a
doctor, a horrific accident, a broken relationship or a natural disaster. Today we
read of a terrible tragedy in Toronto – so random, so unexpected, so undeserved.
There are amazing healings, reconciliations, rescues from seemingly impossible
situations like the Thai boys rescue but not all stories have happy endings.
How are we to respond to this? Within the last week I have heard the following:
a. A woman whose only son died from a fentanyl overdose hung herself because
her grief and shame was too much.
b. A young man in the midst of addiction lashed out and cursed God.
c. Another mother said that she respected Jesus but He had lost his power due to
the attacks of Satan and the sins of men so was impotent to answer her prayers.
d. In 2 Corinthians 1 we read how our sufferings can help us understand and
encourage others who suffer because we can also share the comfort we have
received.
e. I read in “Muslim Connect” that since suffering is universal there is the
opportunity for sharing “suffering overlap” which builds bonds and reduces
isolation.
f). These responses are not new, Asaph in Psalm 73 felt the same until he saw his
sufferings from God’s perspective then everything changed.
Heaven is coming. Let us be ready. And we do not mourn as those who have no
hope. Picture from Pinterest “First Day in Heaven” (Kerolos Safwat)

Eastside Celebration was a resounding success with over 260 attendees including
MLA George Chow and MP Harjit Sajjan. We had singers representing Korea,
Egypt, Nagaland, First Nations, Canada (assorted) and Nigeria. Over a dozen
organizations and businesses contributed to the door prizes and refreshments.

Catherine is in the midst of the Child Care’s summer program. They are featuring
community heroes and have interesting and informative themes each week.

We were scheduled to go to our organizations conference in Poland in August then
spend a few days of holiday in Turkey but my family doctor suggested that I stay
closer to home so we will chose exotic locales like Merritt, Kamloops and the
Okanagan in September for our holiday. 
The family from Iraq, currently in Jordan, are on a long wait list before they can
come to Canada. Conditions in the Middle East are challenging so it is a difficult
situation especially with three young children.
We sure do appreciate your support.

 

In Christ
Mark and Catherine

What’s the Difference?

difference,saviour

A TIME magazine article by Reynolds Price from November 28, 1999 states that “the single most powerful figure – not merely in these two milleniums [sic] but in all human history – has been Jesus of Nazareth … a serious argument can be made that no one else’s life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus.”

Dr. James Francis, back in 1926, preached to a group of youth on “the Real Jesus”. The following is an adaptation of his fuller message.

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

“He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

“While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

“Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

“I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”

What is it that distinguishes the founder of our faith from others?

Perhaps, the clearest difference is his exclusive claim not just to be the way to God but to be the God we all long to connect with.

C.S. Lewis, the great atheist turned Christian apologist, states in his book Mere Christianity that

“If you are a Christian you o not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through… If you are a Christian you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth… But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic – there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”

Barton Priebe, in his book, The Problem with Christianity (p. 111) quotes Albert Mohler from a conference message:

If all we need is a teacher of enlightenment, the Buddha will do; if all we need is a collection of gods for every occasion and need and hope, Hinduism will do; if all we need is a tribal deity, any tribal deity will do; if all we need is a lawgiver, Moses will do; if all we need is  a set of rules and a way of devotion, Muhammad or Joseph Smith will do; if all we need is inspiration and insight into the sovereign self, Oprah will do; but if we need a savior, only Jesus will do.”

Why do you think Jesus is different than all other faith founders? How has this impacted the choices and relationships you make on a day to day basis?

Truth and Culture

Truth and Culture-comforts,values, morals, habits,lifestyles, beliefs

Many of us who are followers of Jesus grow up in a bubble of truth we assume defines reality as it is. To others being nurtured on the sap of secularism the arrogant, or even tentative, truth claims of Christians can only be condemned as intolerant.

The Christian World has just re-energized its foundational beliefs over these past weeks with a focus on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Our music, our liturgy and our focus on the Scripture stories appeal to our soul convictions that we are right in what we ‘preach’ to the world around us.

Our Canadian culture swirls a mix of beliefs, knowledge, laws, social media, art, morals, customs, habits, education, hopes and dreams together to establish what it thinks is acceptable. In this past week, 15 out of 29 members of a junior ice hockey team were killed in a bus crash in Saskatchewan. Only one boy out of the 29 passengers was able to be released from hospital with minor injuries. The whole hockey world deemed it acceptable to pause for moments of silence, for fundraisers, for memorial services, and even for prayers on behalf of the boys and their families.

Humans have a strange habit of dismissing the spiritual realm, life after death and thoughts of eternity as long as life is moving along ‘normally’. It is when something tragic happens that we wake up to something beyond ourselves. Some God-shaped space inside our ‘made in the image of God’ selves wriggles for attention.

Our secular environment has become as normal to us as a fish in an aquarium perceives the water around it. The pollution index and its evidences may be clearer to observers from the outside but for us the norm is what it is.

The one hope that infiltrates our carefully guarded secularism is the immigration of multi-cultural communities working to find a root and an identity in our country, our cities and our churches. Newcomers provide enough of an outside perspective on values, morals, habits, beliefs, knowledge and customs that we are slowly impacted. It might begin with a new food item, a new form of entertainment, a new style of dress, a new expression of music or a new rhythm of relationship.

Our sense of entitlement to the comforts and conveniences of our modern lifestyles is infectious, not only to ourselves, but to newcomers who see and desire. In a world where our mosaic has the possibility of bringing the bright colours of a rainbow, we begin to blend everything into a dull form of brown or grey.

There is a hidden danger here where nothing carries special worth or value any longer. Without a rational basis for holding onto anything as true, humanity has to face up to the numerous empty escapes it perpetuates to distract itself. Relativism captures the laws and moods of our land. Different religions are seen as something like different ways to communicate with a God if such a being exists. This pulls us toward inclusivism which naturally has no room for an exclusive ‘faith’ like Christianity claiming that Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life.

In what ways do you feel the pressure from our culture in considering that no religious view is better than another? Do you believe something is exclusively true regardless of what others around you say? What basis do you have for establishing your truth as the ultimate truth?

Volunteers spring the success of our community

vancouver lower mainland blessed neighborhoods people

I  am quite IN AGREEMENT with that statement .It is my passion to help and I am so thankful for this opportunity.

The lower mainland is blessed with mixed neighborhoods and is comprised of people from all walks of life – Somewhat like the United Nations as individuals who have immigrated to Canada for a better life for themselves and their children. Just like the early settlers who came to various regions in the 1600’s, 1700’s and 1800’s because they were looking for a place to live and raise their family.

 

WHY VOLUNTEER?

Volunteering is a Canadian tradition and is an extension of being a good neighbor and there are many reasons why I make time to volunteer.

We have many new immigrants settled in our community, raising their families and experiencing new life in Canada.

It is truly a privilege for me to be able to welcome and help our new neighbours.  

A great way to use my talents and experience acquired through Public service.

We can do this by:

  •  Not letting an opportunity pass by to say a kind word to people we meet.
  • Be genuinely interested in others. The people we meet feel that we regard them as a person of importance.
  • We can keep an open mind on all controversial questions and discuss without arguing. It is possible to disagree and be friendly.
  • Not to be anxious about our rights and having favours repaid. Let the satisfaction of helping others serve as its own reward.
  • It supports the cause I believe in which I stated earlier.
  • Gives me an opportunity to make a contribution to society.
  • As a retired Federal Public servant I know that experience matters and it provides an opportunity to use valuable skills, to give back to the community, to mentor others and it creates and maintains relationship.
  • We can play a vital role in a society and it helps in delivering services and programs that improve and enhance the life of our communities.
  • One can experience learning and satisfaction.
  • I enjoy social interaction – Meeting new people.
  • It gives an opportunity to learn about people, country or community.
  • Gives fulfillment and a sense of empathy, connection with a “cause”
  • It gives an opportunity to be part of the community where I live.
  • It also instills a value of giving and caring.

I ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO JOIN TO STAY ACTIVE IN MIND AND BODY, MAKE CONNECTIONS AND CONTINUE TO LEARN.

By:

Vince Prasad

Confused?

confussed happy smily college freshman

March 2015. I’m sitting at the back of my English 101 tutorial classroom. Alarmed brain signals careen along the labyrinths of my mind as the course instructor announces:

“According to this theory, marriage is an unnatural constraint on sexual freedom. Marriage infidelity shouldn’t be shameful! Things would be a lot more ‘natural’ if everyone simply indulged in their desires.”

As he elaborates on the theory with eloquent arguments and examples from the media, my long-held values backflip like a half-cooked pancake on a griddle. Traces of doubt slither into my mind. Have I been living in a bubble up until now? 

Four years later, looking back at my wide-eyed university freshman self in English 101, I realize how much I trusted my professors to be right. When you’re eighteen and surrounded by seasoned thinkers, it’s easy to blindly believe the best-argued case. Problem is, universities are peopled with scholars who argue their case for a living. Most of them are pretty good at it.

Torrents of ideas have come crashing down on me in lecture halls. Ideas about society. Ideas about the origin of the world. One astronomy professor insisted that the universe created itself from scratch and that humans were random networks of stardust. Another literature professor nonchalantly reduced Christianity to a system of murderous colonizers and power-hungry church leaders.

I’ve also picked up new ideas from friends. University exposes you to a huge variety of perspectives from different religious groups and worldviews. Even between two Christians, opinions can differ wildly on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and gender-neutral washrooms.

It’s no wonder that, flailing in a sea of opinions, some students pick and choose a set of beliefs as they would select choice morsels at a buffet spread. They live only by the ones that seem palatable to them and adjust their views to their tastes. Paul already knew these customized worldviews were coming when he warned, in 2 Timothy, that “people…will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (4:3).

Others, like me, become plain confused.

It goes without saying that my Christian beliefs took a good shaking-up in university. But they have solidified into a stronger faith and greater trust in God and in Jesus’ salvation.

How in the world did I soak up four years of “enlightening” theories, many of which encouraged me to abandon my faith, and still end up a Jesus follower?

My astronomy professor shared his frustration that, despite his measuring tools, he couldn’t solve all the puzzles of outer space. My literature professor bemoaned our inability to break off the “chains of religious influences”. Even with all their professed insight into the mysteries of life, they were still confused.

And it hit me: humans don’t have all the answers. The most articulate scholars don’t. Neither do the brains behind the theories. But poring over the word of God, I find all I need to know in one handy guidebook. It comforts me when I’m at my worst. It gives me amazing discernment in sticky situations. It rebukes me when I wander off from where God wants me to be. And it boasts the mind-blowing mystery of salvation that makes life worth the living.

Yes, I respect human reason and university textbooks. But now, I also know that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ” (Colossians 2:4). The Bible, the lamp to our feet and light for our path, has the power to dispel confusion and trumps any man-made philosophy