CANADA DAY REFLECTIONS – July 1, 2021

On Canada Day in past years there were celebrations in every municipality. A sea of red and white everywhere you went – banners and flags flying. Happy people enjoying parades, picnics, musical performances, fireworks. People wore Canada T-Shirts and hats with the maple leaf or flag. Even in the malls there were smiles and the sound of friendly chatter and laughter.

Our Fathers, uncles and even grandfathers fought in the World Wars to protect the freedoms that we so often take for granted. Freedom of movement, of speech, of worship gatherings.

Then came COVID. Suddenly we were in a battle against a fast moving virus that was affecting every country in the world, killing thousands. We lost our freedom of movement, no longer allowed to go where we wanted to go, when and with whom. We were basically confined to our homes and when we did go out for necessities or to walk for exercise, we were instructed to wear masks and keep 6 feet apart from others. Fear took over and paralyzed our nation. Families didn’t see each other for over a year and people were so afraid, some wouldn’t even get on an elevator if somebody else was in it. Stores and restaurants and churches were closed. Businesses adapted to having their employees work from home. Our social activities that we took so much for granted were gone! We were basically in isolation. Praise God that we had technology that enabled us to communicate with each other electronically via computers and WiFi.

On this July 1, 2021 we are slowly and steadily starting to regain some of these privileges. Things are opening up, church is about to resume in person, stores and restaurants have reopened and there is a sense of hope. But in Canada there is still no celebrations. The discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools has caused a great wave of grief to overwhelm us. In BC, fires are sweeping across our Interior and Okanagan areas, destroying forests, homes, businesses, and taking lives. Today there are somber faces, no wearing red lest you offend somebody.

So many ask “Where are you God? If you are a loving and merciful God, why are you allowing these things to happen?”

As I ponder this, my God tells me in His word “Do not fear, I am with you, my ways are not your ways. Trust Me!” Humans have only finite minds. We cannot see the big picture of what God is doing in the world. But as His child I know He is in control. I need to focus on Him and let Him do His transformational work in me so that I might be a more useful channel – privileged to serve Him in the building of His kingdom, reaching out to others with love, kindness and encouragement. My heart and mind say “Yes Lord to your will and to your way”. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.

Please Holy Spirit help your children to exercise those attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit – wisdom, strength, courage and endurance –that will enable us to face the challenges you bring into our lives. May the leaders of Canada realize that without God there is no flourishing future for this nation. May they seek your will as they try to restore our faith and freedoms. We sing “God keep our land glorious and free” but do we really mean it? Do we believe it? Renew a right spirit within us Father for our good and for your honor and glory!

Ruth.

Finding our Way Back Together

Finding our Way Back Together

May 2. I think the giggles are what got me. Three little girls huddled together watching the new baby sleeping in the lower level of the stroller. They hadn’t seen each other in person for months, yet a simple invitation to the family gathering at Killarney park unleashed a joyous reunion. A new family with seven children (all between 3 ½ months and 11 years) shyly stepped into the arena so that 30 kids and 20 adults merged in a frenzied splash of multi-cultural humanity. After their treasure hunt in socially ordered bubbles, the kids dashed in an amoebic mass around balls kicked out on the gravel field. Parents pulled in closer and welcomed each other to life.

We are finding out way back together.

May 8. I think it was the wide eyes that got me. A row of 160 turkey dinners were spread out in the lower ed and designated to those who had purchased them to benefit the cause of abandoned Uganda mothers. Drivers picked up their allotment and delivered them to hungry mouths as a way to honor our own moms. Flowers had been sent out with hand sanitizer and the flowers seemed to be the clincher to the wide eyes. It was great to regain some momentum in our outreach and understanding of making disciples while encouraging those who felt forgotten and isolated.

We are finding our way back together.

May 9. I think it was the joyful claps that got me. In our lower parking lot, we held our first open air service with pastor Jack standing on the ramp above exhorting the groups who circled together below. We are still live streaming our first service and posting it on YouTube but we are more than that now. Our second service, on May 16, was held in the playground, under the trees, with 37 adults there and 14 children gathering for their lesson in the courtyard and playground. Open Bibles, question sheets and holy huddles led to an interchange of thoughts, ideas and prayers for each other. Now, we are setting up tents in the main parking lot and if the Covid-19 restrictions continue for churches, we will be having both our services vibrating from under the canopies.

We are finding our way back together.

May 16. I think it was the consistent bars that got me. At our board meeting, we looked at the chart of giving that had been circulated to the members for accountability. In January, we were already $20,000 behind and it looked like we had miscalculated what Faith’s family was willing to give during a pandemic budget. We had cut the budget by $100,000 but it didn’t seem to be enough. Then February, March and April we met the targets for those months and our deficit began to shrink to $7,000. Even the needs of our missionaries are being met. Our financial volunteers faithfully count every second Tuesday as we pray that God would care for the needs of his people. And, He is doing so much through faithful givers.

We are finding our way back together.

May 20. I think it was the prayers that got me. In our Wednesday evening small group and our Thursday morning prayer group we shared our lives and lifted each other up before the throne of grace. Such passion and care unleashed to a God who cares. We prayed for the Barnabas team who needs more volunteers to help with the care of our members. We prayed for the children’s ministry and the Daycare who need more help with their vital work. We prayed for our personal challenges and for the challenges facing our world.

And as we prayed from our places on zoom, I realized that we are still finding our way back together.

Trusting that you too are finding your way back together with us. One step is a start. Join a small group, a prayer ministry, our live services. May 30th we will have a baptism service to celebrate someone else finding their way back.

In the meantime, remember you are loved more than you could ask or imagine.

Pastor Jack Taylor

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)?

Faith Fellowship Baptist Church (FFBC) Reopening Plan

Faith’s mandate of making disciples for Christ from all nations continues to work itself out through our values of faith, multi-cultural /multi-generational community and servanthood. COVID- 19 has put these values to the test and our leadership and members are creatively engaging to move us forward into the opportunities God is setting up for us. We want to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and so FFBC will strictly adhere to the guidelines and recommendations from BC’s Provincial Health Officer. We have been praying and seeking God’s wisdom about our plan to re-establish our gatherings and ministries.
The situation around COVID-19 is continually evolving, and as new information emerges, our plan may change also. Updates will be provided as needed by email, social media and on our FFBC website: https://faithvancouver.ca/. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact faith.vancouver@gmail.com or call the church office at 604-321-6134.
Gathering Together is the clear preference for the New Testament Church. The Greek word for Church is the Assembly or the Gathering. Most of the activity of the church is spoken of as “love one another,” “serve one another,” and “encourage one another”. Each of these activities presupposes a coming together in worship, prayer, fellowship, preaching and hospitality.
Our sister church, El Redentor, has been meeting in the building in gatherings of 50 or less throughout the week for the past 3 months. They have practiced physical distancing and hand hygiene when gathering. We are grateful that no one in either congregation has been infected by the virus. Our New Hope childcare is up and running and also has no incidence. Community transmission seems to be low at the moment, although we do not want to become complacent. One of the reasons that FFBC has been slower to reopen is that we have many seniors in our community who are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19, which may require hospitalization and intensive care.
While these are exceptional times, the health directive suggests limiting the size of our gathering and we have done that as a sign of our respect for authority and as a witness to our community. We continue to believe that the spiritual health of the body is of ultimate importance in managing fear and fostering hope. Wisdom is needed and we trust this plan fulfills what is needed to nurture Faith’s family. The Lord Jesus alone is head of his family and we seek to bring glory to him.
With schools heading back to full occupancy and with travel restrictions loosening there is a clear shift in public policy toward a broader level of community interaction. The following is our FFBC plan for reopening:
Beginning in September we plan to have two community gatherings:
1) Saturday evenings from 6-7 pm we will have a family service geared toward children and youth (limit 50 including staff and volunteers). Families will sit in groupings. Child management will be under parental supervision and discretion.
2) Sunday mornings from 10:00-11:30 am we will have a service open to anyone over age 20 (limit 50 including staff and volunteers). Chairs will be physically distanced in the sanctuary. We will also continue to have Sunday services live streamed for those not able to attend in person.

The following will be adhered to at all FFBC gatherings:
Please stay home if:
1) You have any of the following symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, chills, new or worsening cough, runny nose, headache, new loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, nausea and / or vomiting, sore throat or painful swallowing, loss of appetite, muscle aches, increased fatigue, or pink eye;

2) You have been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with lab confirmed COVID-19 in the past 14 days; or

3) You have travelled outside of the province or country in the past 14 days

If someone gets sick with COVID-19 after a church service at Faith, please inform the church office immediately (604 321 6134).

UPON YOUR ARRIVAL:
Please arrive 10-20 minutes early to avoid long line ups and waiting times at the entrance. Signage reminding individuals of physical distancing and of health standards before entrance will be posted. Orange arrows will be on the ramp outside and on the carpet inside to provide traffic direction. All volunteers will wear masks or face shields to ensure personal protection. Markers will be designated on the ground outside the church to indicate 2 meters distance for people waiting to enter the church.
• There will be one entrance to the building through the laneway ramp door and exits out of the north front of the auditorium, one courtyard door, and the 49th main door. A plexiglass barrier will be erected to protect volunteers tasked with processing attendees.
• You are asked to sign in upon arrival. Visitors not known to the church are required to share their contact information (name, address and phone number.) All these data serve to allow contact tracing in case of contracting the disease. The sign in sheets will be kept for four weeks and then destroyed. A set of health questions will be asked of you upon arrival.
• Before entering, a temperature scan may happen and a record of contact information will be secured – temperatures and negative responses to health concern questions will be recorded with a check mark and a numerical value.
Hygiene measures:
Personal: All attendees will be offered masks upon arrival. Medical exceptions (asthma etc.) will be noted and face shields will be provided. Practice good hand hygiene (hand washing, avoid touch your face, sneeze into your sleeve or elbow if needed. Wash your hands if you need to use the washroom.
Volunteers: All volunteers will wear masks or face shields to ensure personal protection. They will ensure hand hygiene is practiced before entering and leaving the building.
Greeting rituals: No physical greeting such as hand shaking or hugging (Please greet one another with a friendly wave or smile.)
Distance Rules: Attendees will keep a physical distance of two arms lengths (unless living in the same household) from others and follow signage as they enter, worship and exit.
Set up in the Sanctuary: The chairs are set up with the required two meters (6 feet) distance. People living in the same household can sit together.
Building: All high touch surfaces will be cleaned before and after gatherings. We encourage individuals to use their washrooms at home if possible, but the facilities at the church will be available and will be regularly cleaned. We ensure good ventilation by keeping the windows and doors open when possible.
Singing: At this point, out of abundance of caution, singing will not be permitted without a mask. The worship team will be physically distanced. There is a higher likelihood of virus transmission during singing.
Church Service:
• Attendees should reserve a space ahead of time by contacting the office at 604 321 6134 or at faith.vancouver@gmail.com. Walk-ins will be permitted if there are insufficient reservations to fill the quota.
• Live stream: All services will be live streamed to allow those not able to attend to follow the service. Tech persons, ushers, worship team members and hygiene volunteers will be included in the total of 50.
• Communion: Communion services will happen online. We are exploring safe options to include communion being served in person.
• Meals and Coffee: There will be no coffee, tea, water or other refreshments served in the building at this time.
• Collection: No formal collection will be taken although a donation box will be available for drop off contributions.
• Conclusion and Fellowship: Attendees are requested to exit the building upon the conclusion of the service and to continue their fellowship outside the building.
Please go to the following BC Centre for Disease Control website for more information about protecting yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19:
http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) states that “Older people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are at higher risk of developing more severe illness or complications from COVID-19. Most people with COVID-19 recover; however, people with chronic diseases are also at higher risk of death if they become ill.” Those who are at higher risk of developing severe illness or complications from COVID-19 are advised by BC CDC to: 1) Wash hands regularly and avoid touching your face, 2) avoid large gatherings and 3) stay away from other people who are ill. People who attend a larger gathering (e.g. 50 people) at FFBC need to consider their own health risks and the risks to the health of people they are in close contact with.
Thank you for your ongoing support, participation and encouragement as we continue to work out details for our community worship and fellowship.

Silence of the Lambs

by pastor Jack

Why is it that churches hesitate to take to the streets to protest the eroding of their rights and freedoms? Are they unaware, unconcerned, unmotivated or unestablished enough to give their voice a platform? Romans 13:1 says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” but does this mean we have no voice as citizens apart from our vote?

Protests have become a common way of expression. The Black Lives Matter movement has rallied thousands. The First Nation Wet’suwet’en protest against pipelines raised the profile of hereditary chiefs. Via trains and work crews were halted. The Red Squirrel logging road extension had environmental protestors chaining themselves to equipment to protect old-growth pines. Marches for Freedom are becoming common.

This isn’t new. In 1990, the Canadian Army was called in to face down Mohawks in Oka, Quebec when the town tried to expand a golf course. The Mercer Bridge was blocked, an officer was killed and groups of rock throwers stood their ground until arrested. In Clayoquot Sound, BC, 700 people were arrested in 1993 during three months of protests over logging of old growth forest. Greenpeace brought in an Australian rock band to rally opponents and in 1995 the government adjusted their views on clearcutting practices. In Gustafsen Lake, that year, a medicine man helped calm an armed standoff with police even though numerous charges were laid in the dispute over sacred land.

Once upon a time, Martin Luther initiated a protest movement against the Emperor Charles V. The movement surged across Europe as it reclaimed the justice and righteousness of God. At the core was the truth that salvation came by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to the authority of the Scriptures alone and all for the glory of God alone. Reformers like John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Philip Melancthon and John Knox may be names covered in the dust of history but they embraced a strong passion and belief in “Coram Deo” (that all of life was lived out in the presence of God).

Charles Colson and Ellen Vaugh, in their book Being the Body (pp 294-5), say “As Luther sought to reclaim Christian faith from cultural corruption, his work was less a radical new beginning than it was a re-formation in the truest sense of the term – a return to the essence of what the church had been in its noblest past. But the Reformation was more than a cleansing of ecclesiastical structures. Nothing was left untouched: the arts, commerce, government, and education all came under its powerful influence.”

Christians tend to focus on social justice issues or soul-winning without keeping the two thrusts together as we make disciples of Christ from all nations. The reformers worked hard to keep the church from being silenced by the authorities. They believed that the state was meant to fulfill a God-given responsibility of creating a culture and environment where family, church and government could flourish. Public officials were considered servants under God for the good of the people.

This shift in thinking led to reforms in England to the point that John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry and numerous others fought for the abolition of the slave trade and the prevention of the exploitation of children and workers in mines and prisons.

During this time of isolation where our right to free assembly and full religious community expression have been curtailed are there new ways to express who we are; are there new ways to express community; are there new ways to make disciples for Christ from all nations? In a time of suppression, it is time for the family of God to consider this as an opportunity to break the mold and to make an impact that will ensure the voice of Christ is heard loud and clear in a land that desperately needs him. Perhaps there is someone in your social circle who needs the community we offer.

Let your voice be heard and remember that regardless of how isolated you feel, you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

Dear Child of God

Dear Child of God, You’re unrepeatable.

When the divine creator intentionally knit you together in your mother’s womb to be a one of a kind, unrepeatable, unique masterpiece designed to do his specific work (Psalms 139:15; Ephesians 2:10) there isn’t a human being alive who formed a better mold than you. Your family of origin, your tones and talents, your experiences and expressions, your bents and brokenness – It all helped frame you into what you needed to be for now. Hey, I know you’re not done but you’re designed right for where you are.

Before you took your first breath, your Maker already had a place for your eternal celebration. The One who exists outside of time, yet subjected himself to the ravages and sufferings of human limitations, already knew your place around the throne of grace with members from every tribe and tongue and nation. Not a breath, a tear or a heartbeat has been wasted in shaping you for the next expression of love and grace. No one else can do you like you.

And you are loved – now – as you are. Breathe it in. You are loved with a love that is patient without limits, kind without borders, never envious, never boastful, never proud – just satisfied at something good, something beautiful. The One who loves you never desires to dishonour or shame you; never dreams of crushing you under guilt or fear; never for a moment thinks of abandoning you or stepping even a nanometer away from you. In fact, he sings over you (Zephaniah 3:17) and his thoughts toward you outnumber all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world (Psalm 139:17-18).

What kind of a love is this? A love that isn’t easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. A love that never treats me as my sins deserve. A love that forgives and forgives and forgives under an ocean of grace and mercy and compassion I can’t even fathom. Oh, I know it’s a love that rejoices with the truth and never gives a nod toward evil. It’s a love that always, every second of every day, always, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Oh, that I had a love to love back that way.

And yet, here in my family, in my neighbourhood, in my church, on the streets of my city are other image bearers with their own unique, never to be duplicated selves, living, breathing, being, waiting for that love to come their way. Who am I to withhold it or distort it or to claim it only for myself?

When the limitless life of the Spirit courses through my veins with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, who am I to withhold it from my broken brothers and sisters -weighed down by the crushing pressures and pains of a world gone wrong? When do my limitations set up the boundaries like dikes on the edge of an ocean?  Especially when I too am a broken, wounded, imperfect, grace-sucking child desperate for such sweet fruit.

We are a body. A grace-filled body set free to drink up a mighty river of peace, hope, faith and truth. One by one the beacons of light who have walked before us are taken to their eternal home and generation after generation is left to pass on the torch and to live out what they know before those who don’t yet know. You, my precious family, never walk alone and you never walk unloved.

Once again, Pete Scazzero says it well. “That is why I do not believe we can grow into spiritually and emotionally mature disciples if we do not address the effects of racism and prejudice in and around us. In fact, a core characteristic of an emotionally healthy church is that the culture we build is safe for people of every race and culture, where we look at people different than us and say, without words, “You’re beautiful. You’re valuable. You’re unrepeatable.”

Remember, you are loved more than you could ask or imagine … and so is your brother, your sister… every person you see. Pastor Jack

What’s Happening to Us?

Members who Once Added Life to our Mix

Every once in a while, it is a good thing to look into the mirror and check out what is changing with the person you’re looking at? As a church, it is also good to take a look at ourselves during this time when we have time. What does it mean for us when five of our prayer pillars, givers and leaders have passed away in the past few months? What does it mean when members lose their jobs, when relationships are strained, when we can’t ‘do church’ like we used to do church? What does it mean when our giving is down 63% this month, when less than half of our attendees are joining us for morning services, and when we don’t have events or activities to keep us busy? Who are we now?

Sometimes I wonder if I value community so much because it gives legitimacy to what we do. If heaven is going to be made up of people from every tribe and tongue and nation then getting a taste of that here and now feels a little bit like a heavenly stamp of approval for who we are and what we’re doing. But what is happening now when we don’t have a place to gather and hug? Who is following up on those on the fringes, on those isolated in care homes or their own homes? Who is picking up the phone and having those important conversations about needs, challenges, spiritual growth and questions?

A small group of volunteers is beginning to reach out through our new Barnabas ministry – if you know of individuals with specific needs contact the pastoral team and they’ll let our team know. Of course, if you have the gift of encouragement and would like to be part of a team designed to reach out and care then please let us know.

Individually, this is also a good time to evaluate the strength and health of our faith. Statistics say that evangelical Christians are no different at compartmentalizing their lives than anyone else. We resurrect our spiritual selves for our gatherings and then fade off into our other selves for the rest of the week. What does that mean when there’s no gathering? Statistics say evangelicals get divorced as much as unbelievers; they beat their wives at the same rate as their neighbours; they struggle with racism as much as others; the young people think cohabitation is okay in the same percentage rates as unchurched kids –

Ron Sider, in his book The Scandal of the Evangelical says “Whether the issue is marriage and sexuality or money and care for the poor, evangelicals are living scandalously unbiblical lives…” Who are these people who dare to look at us and say we’re lousy human beings? That what we say and sing is not showing up in how we live and love everyday in real life.

By now, the daily habits we’ve started to nurture are revealing something deeper about ourselves. Has our extra time been given to nurturing a deeper relationship with Jesus and his word or have we defaulted to binge watching our TV and surfing the net? I definitely struggle with this balance as endless zoom meetings fill up my computer screen. I am by nature a busy person and I can’t say that I’m less busy but what has scooped up the attention of my heart and mind? Every day, I see why I need the prayers and encouragement of the body to keep on keeping on.

I am exposed in ways I didn’t imagine. I realize that my distant mentor Pete Scazzero is right when he warns that “work for God that is not nourished by a deep interior life with God will eventually be contaminated by other things such as ego, power, needing approval of and from others, and buying into the wrong ideas of success and the mistaken belief that we can’t fail. When we work for God because of these things, our experience of the gospel often falls off center. We become “human doings” not “human beings.” Our experiential sense of worth and validation gradually shifts from God’s unconditional love for us in Christ to our works and performance. The joy of Christ gradually disappears. Our activity for God can only properly flow from a life with God.”

Covid 19 is a mirror to our heart. The protests against racism are a mirror to our heart. The inability for us to gather is a mirror to our heart. And in all we face, we must continue to hold firmly the reality that we are loved more than we could ask or imagine. Blessings. Pastor Jack

Leading with a Limp

One of the challenges we are facing during the Covid 19 crisis is how to lead when we don’t know where to go and how to get there. In Genesis 32 we see Jacob wrestling with a stranger who wrestles with him through the night. Neither seems to be winning and the stranger asks Jacob to release him. Jacob won’t let go unless he is blessed. Then the one he wrestles with says “Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Jacob realizes he has wrestled with God face to face and survived. Vs 31 says “The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel and he was limping because of his hip.” The stranger had dislocated Jacob’s hip in an effort to get him to let go.

Have you ever engaged with God in a way that leaves you with a limp? There was a time where I was self-confident in my counseling abilities and ready to take on the world. It took a dark night of wrestling to realize I wasn’t as sufficient and competent as I thought. It left me with a limp I am still grateful for.

In Rick Bezet’s book, Be Real (because fake is exhausting) he notes that this limp stopped Jacob’s lifelong habit of running. On page 50 he says “It is never God’s will for you to run from a problem. Never. If you run from it, it will just come up again, because God is more interested in changing your character than in making your life comfortable. When you have an encounter with God, when you really meet God, it changes the way you walk. You cannot meet somebody who is as great as God and not have your desires change.

This may be the most important thing I tell you: the deepest work God does in your life is when he works on your identity. When you see yourself the way God sees you, it’s going to change your life. You’ll be set free from the old you, and you can start acting in a whole new way.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

All of us who encounter God in some significant way are limping. We need to extend grace and patience to each other as we learn to walk with a limp. May the God who stoops to wrestle with us extend his grace to you as you take your place and do what he asks of you in this time. In the middle of it all, remember that you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

praying for those who needed some specific care from the Good Shepherd
praying for those who needed some specific care from the Good Shepherd

Why Christian Kids Rebel

Why Christian Kids Rebel

In his book, Why Christian Kids Rebel, Dr. Tim Kimmel reminds parents not to get fixated on the external appearances of a child who is just trying to fit into his culture. He says that if we understand ‘rebellion’ to refer to “actions or attitudes that contradict the core spiritual beliefs the child claims to embrace” we can look past the externals that might artificially put up barriers in our relationship.

In other words, we are talking about a “deliberate decision to do things, say things, or believe things that are contrary to the heart of God.” He or she is showing “deliberate antagonism toward God, God’s standards, or the people God has placed in authority in a child’s life.” (p. 31) Some youth practice compartmental rebellion where they still claim to follow Jesus but still choose to resist their parents.

Kimmel lists eight reasons kids rebel (pp. 33-50) He says Kids in Christian Homes Rebel Because:

  • They Are Actually Lost and Don’t Know Christ Personally.

Is there remorse, a desire for God’s Word, desire for fellowship with believers, sensitivity to the lost? Expecting an unbelieving child to react like a believer will create additional frustrations

  • They are angry at God.

Has there been a significant loss, a horrific personal violation, chronic pain, physical limitations, unfortunate incidents? When a child loses a sense of feeling control they may react strongly

  • They are mad at their parents

Could there be favoritism, poor financial choices with consequences, poor health, broken promises, nagging, toxic control, broken relationships, a lack of grace? We need to own up to our issues and mistakes and openly take responsibilities for our actions and choices.

  • The strengths of their personalities are pushed to extremes

Traits need to be used in balance. If a child is criticized instead of channeled there will be trouble

  • They are in a state of confusion or disillusionment

Transitions are tough – like gaining new siblings, starting dating, facing a new school or grade – confusion is part of growing up but without guidance and understanding it can go sideways

  • They are in bondage

Satan has some standard traps – “For security he offers money, sex, and materialism. For significance he offers popularity, sex and applause. For strength he offers control, sex, and abuse. The enemy starts with small compromises and then enlarges his territory of control.

  • It is an essential part of their spiritual pilgrimage

It is natural and necessary for a child to move from the faith embraced by their parents to the faith embraced by themselves. This may be hard for a parent to support them through.

  • They are reacting to flaws within the brand of Christianity they are being exposed to

Imposing unnecessary legalistic restrictions or practices can create an artificial environment which the young person will stand against. Almost every family faces the challenge of children transitioning through one of these phases. Parenting with grace through the growing up years is crucial as we grow in our culture of grace at Faith. May God encourage you as you realize you are not in this phase alone. No matter what happens, remember that you and your children (spiritual and physical) are loved more than you can ask or imagine.