Circle of Nations 2019

Once a year Faith’s family celebrates the nations that God sends our way. We are encouraging you to invite your friends of all nations to celebrate with us. This is our day to show off the dress, music, flags, language and food of your ancestral home.

60 Nations 1 Family!!

We will have table displays for each nation.

impatience and stubbornness?

This morning I look out at the winter wonderland, snow covering the whole city, and I am so grateful for my cozy slippers and steaming cup of coffee. Honestly, I hate snow, but unfortunately for me my kids love it.

Earlier this week they all woke up eager to go outside and start playing. I delayed as long as possible but inevitably I got everyone bundled up, a thermos full of hot chocolate and some cookies and we headed over to the park. I stood at the bottom of the hill, my toes shivering counting the moments until it was reasonable for me to say its time to go home. Then I felt my youngest son tapping on my leg, “Watch Mummy,” he said. He then proceeded to jump head first down the hill like a penguin in the artic. He slid all the way down yelling belly slide and giggling. As he reached the bottom of the hill he looked up at me  and said “ Me love the snow, this is the best day ever, ever.” I smiled and looked up to the top of the hill where the other two came barrelling down the hill laughing uncontrollably. I had been so busy waiting to leave that I almost missed enjoying the pure joy my kids were experiencing.

After a long day of school, play, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, naps, workout, reading, refereeing and so on I was anxiously awaiting bed time. Bedtime was the conclusion of the day as “mom.” Once everyone was in bed and settled, I was off the clock. I had successfully made it through another day and I could have a few moments to my self. The younger two were asleep, my oldest was settled and I was just tucking in my daughter, who is notorious for bedtime excuses. I gave her a kiss and said good night, she grabbed my arm and pulled me closer. “Mama,” she said, “do you know something…” Oh, great I thought, here we go. I just want you to go to sleep so I can have a break. I turned to her and prepared to tell her to go to sleep. Then she said to me, “ I love you mama, more then anything else. I’m so glad Jesus gave me a mommy like you.” My heart felt warm and I smiled at her and cuddled in beside her. She continued to talk through her day and shared her ideas and thoughts with me. She finally drifted to sleep and I was able to sneak out. I plopped down on the couch and smiled. I was so busy trying to get them to sleep I almost missed a precious moment that I will treasure in my heart for ever.

One last story, today my son was playing with a drill set. He was happily sitting on the floor drilling the screw in and out. He got to the end and began to get frustrated because he had no more screws left. I told him there was more in the playroom. But he sat there crying and angry trying to find more under the couch, under the table, and in the train basket. I continued to remind him that they are in the playroom. After about 20 minutes of frustration he finally conceded and went to retrieve the extra screws in the playroom. I thought, wow he is so busy being stubborn, he just wasted so much time.

I know not all of you have kids and so these stories may seem pointless, but stick with me for a minute. How many of you have been so focused in one direction, you missed the elephant on the road in front of you? How many of you have tried and tried to do what you thought was right, only to find out God had different plans?

On Sunday pastor spoke about Abraham. He tried so hard to have a baby his own way with Hagar. Although Abraham and God had the same goal, Abraham was trying to achieve that goal with his own impatience and stubbornness.

I have my own goals, my own ideas about how things should go, whether it be in a day or an evening, a month or a year. God used small events, like sledding and bedtime this week to remind me to stop holding onto my plan so tightly. If we are determined to do things our way we may delay the great blessings God has in store for us.

Sometimes the plan God has for us feels scary. When I was a child, I used to ask my mom almost every day, “What are we doing today?” I probably drove her crazy but I always wanted to know what was ahead. As an adult you would think I would have that control, but God has other ideas. He has placed me in a situation of unknowns. It’s a painful place to be at times. Anxiety so easily grips my heart. I have a plan, my own ideas about how the future should look but God wants to keep me utterly dependent on him as he unravels his plan for me.

Whether you are a control freak like me, or going with the flow comes naturally to you, God has a plan for each of us. As I have been challenged this week, I share with you…Keep your heart open to what God is doing in your life. Let’s not be so busy trying to get where we think we should be that we miss where God is directing us!

 

 

[quote title=”” Text=”Whether you are a control freak like me, or going with the flow comes naturally to you, God has a plan for each of us” name=”April Bakundukize” name_sub=””]

Singing Pigs

Have you ever spent a lot of time, effort and resources working on something that turned out to be a waste of time?

Charles Swindoll says he has a friend who has a plaque on his wall reading: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

Swindoll focuses us on the efforts of Jesus to confront the Pharisees and their grace-killing ways (Simple Faith, p. 67). The more he exposed the hypocrisy of the religiously self-righteous the more hostile they became. No one likes to have their inauthenticity uncovered for all to see. We fight to keep the carefully crafted masks and reputations in place to guard our sense of who we want others to imagine us to be.

It’s amazing what sets of our sense of self-righteousness. Things as simple as the diet we are on – the foods we eat or don’t eat; the exercise we do – the lifestyle we choose to rest through or with which we challenge our bodies and minds; the travels we take or don’t take; the money we spend or don’t spend on ourselves; the fashions we would wear or not wear; the activities we deem acceptable to Christians and the activities we deem unacceptable – even if there is no specific scriptural warrant of prohibition; and of course the depth of our prayers, giving, witnessing, Bible reading, church attendance and service.

In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 Jesus sets up a higher standard of following for his disciples which takes us beyond the observable outward appearance and deals with the inside reality which only God sees. The true condition of the heart is what sets us apart with God.

Self-righteousness escapes its hiding place in our heart in ways we hardly recognize. It slips out in our speech in the way we quietly address the value, worth or character of another person to someone we consider on our side. It slips out in our attitude on who we would sit beside on the bus or in church; who we would invite to our homes for a meal; who we would help out in a time of crisis. It slips out in our humour and in our stereotypes as we watch the news, people watch in the mall, or determine who would make an appropriate relationship for ourselves or for some significant person in our lives.

The waste of time for us is expecting ourselves to just try harder when we mess up – which we will.

I was in a meeting yesterday where someone mentioned that they came from a family of racists and never realized it until they were confronted. They realized that the best way for them to defeat a racist heart was to build friendships with the people who they knew very little about. They said that made all the difference for them in building an attitude of acceptance, trust and welcoming.

Scriptures slay the self-righteous spirit by declaring that all of us are equally dead in sin without hope on our own. Unless the Spirit of Christ recreates us into new creations we will continue to experience the frustration of pigs trying to learn to sing.

Our church family is embracing the saying PBPWMGINFWMY. Please be patient with me – God is not finished with me yet. We trust that God’s Spirit in his time will mold us into the image of Jesus who alone perfectly embodies the character of God in its fullness.

What are some of the efforts you have spent your time on without significant results? What shadows of self-righteousness tend to sneak up on your heart when you let your guard down? What solutions have you found to deal with the character traits which fall short of what Jesus modeled?

At Home with Suffering

At Home with suffering-lonely,struggles,overwhelming,tears,burden,losing hope,carrying cross

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…” Philippians 1:29

Two weeks ago was devastating for my friend. She had lost her wallet and all her credit cards. The weight of the world was on her shoulders as she dealt with the police and made the calls to cancel her life and identity.

With her feet kicked out from under her, the rest of the world took on the form of a growing burden that overwhelmed her.

Fortunately, she had taught her son about Jesus and the truth he gives us. That son confronted her, told her to smarten up and deal with her attitude of getting stuck in an attitude that refused to change and acknowledge God’s control in all she had been through.

My friend had been born in a Christian home and gone to Christian schools in Pakistan. She had been taught the Bible from her earliest days. She was thoroughly marinated in Christianity but sitting across from me she declares “it was not enough.” She knew that life wasn’t meant to be a bed of roses and things have been hard. She knew it didn’t take faith to love God and follow him if the road was smooth. Now she declared again to me. “Every person needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and they need to keep walking in that commitment. It’s not enough to say a prayer or live on what you’re taught.”

My friend had always been in control of things. She was confident in her work with children. She was used to being independent. She was taught to be sure as a leader so children could look to her for their strength.

Now she felt helpless.

Previously, she had looked down on others who acted helpless. She didn’t understand the attitude. Now, in her own moment of emotional paralysis over a lost wallet, she began to empathize. She changed from within.

Every morning my friend takes out the Daily Bread and reads. Every morning it says exactly what she needs for that day. On this day it says the glory of life is to love – not so you are loved, to give – not so you get, to save – not so you are saved. This reading and all the ones before this rekindle hope to face another day in personal weakness and godly strength.

My friend says that “faith and life, if they’re smooth, are not functional and they’re not real.” She says “the closer I want to get to God the greater the challenges – the more challenges now the more blessed I feel.”

She know God is in control. She provides an insight when she says “God uses those close to us to probe the areas of our weakness. Because they are close we can’t walk away from them. God loves us and he wants the best for us.”

Her son hit her hard with this statement. “Mom, Jesus gave you a cross to carry. If you’re going to carry it then do it happily.”

What hits you hardest about my friend’s story? Can you relate at all? How do you live your life like Jesus is living in you? Do you think others who see you living are convinced that you serve a risen Savior who is in the world today?

How do you believe this?

Followers of Jesus face a challenge lifestyles ,family,society influencing

In this age, when an avalanche of fake news through social media almost crushes us with statements and claims which stretch the limits of our ability to believe, it can be easy to dismiss the gospel claims about who Jesus was, why he lived, died and rose again. Existential skepticism, reasonable doubt, unbelievable truth, mixed freely with a kaleidoscopic array of cultural, religious and social ideologies, might excuse us setting aside the crucifixion / resurrection narrative as obscure, superstitious and irrelevant to our contemporary lifestyles.

Followers of Jesus face a challenge. Our mandate is to share the gospel story as the only hope for humanity but we are often left without clear understanding of how to answer all the questions, objections and skepticism of those we want to share with. Our integrity can’t encourage people to ignore their questions and embrace our faith without confidence in its truth claims. Intellectual honesty for both the inquirer and the responder are necessary if commitment is to last.

What we believe is often filtered through the family, culture, church, country, education system and social group we grew up with. We believe what we’re told until it doesn’t seem so believable anymore. Somewhere, we start to think that unless what we believe can withstand every question posed that we can’t hold it any longer. We start to realize that perhaps this is a faith which was never ours. Holding our faith surrounded by doubts limits our ability to effectively share what we believe.

Winfried Corduan, in his book Reasonable Faith (p. 20), states that:

“People usually learn about the facts of their faith from some form of authority. These sources might include parents, clergy, teachers, or the Bible. Because we are taught to respect these authorities, we accept what they teach us about God. No one can be expected to examine all of his or her beliefs before committing to them as true. Many people do not have the capacity, time, or interest to undertake a thorough evaluation of a doctrine and its alternatives. For that matter, if the world had to wait for the “experts” – theologians and philosophers – to come to agreement on beliefs before accepting any of them, nobody could believe anything. So God has seen to it that some people are commissioned to represent His truth as He has revealed it in His Word, the Bible. Such is the obligation of all parents to their children and all others who occupy a teaching or preaching capacity in the church. We see then that it is both possible and proper for all articles of belief to be accepted on the basis of faith, that is, out of respect to the authority that teaches them.”

The issue is never the questioning of our faith but the integrity of the questions we ask of it. To arrive at commitment we accept that there is a knowable truth given by a knowable God who is able to intervene in human history with a reliable communication we can access, understand and apply to life. From that source we are able to sort our way through the puzzle of whether Jesus is Legend, Lunatic, Liar or Lord.

Ultimately, we are engaging in a reasonable faith which grows over time.

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

Pull up a Plate

Love,Food,Hospitality,Church,All nations,Sunday

There’s nothing like food to bring people together. I’ve gotten closer to people over Halal chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, Sushi, Vietnamese noodle soup, tacos, ice cream sundaes, hamburgers, potatoes with peanut sauce, casseroles, and biriyani or steak dinners. Our church believes in hospitality in all its forms.

Jesus was known for his “eating and drinking” with sinners and some of our memorable stories are of him with Matthew, Zacchaeus, the 5000, the 4000 and the Disciples at the Last Supper.

Perhaps at our meals, we are together vulnerably expressing our mutual need for ‘daily bread’ and our humble thankfulness for God’s most recent provision. There is a togetherness that often helps us relax and share on a more personal level. As long as there is food on our plate we are present and available to share one more story, to hear one more antidote, to discuss one more idea.

When we share food from another culture there is the extension of friendship and acceptance. There is the taking in of something which is important and meaningful to another. There is a drawing together across differences in something common which makes us alike.

Meals pull people to cross social barriers since wealthy and poor alike enjoy good food. There is joy in the creation, the serving, the consuming and even comradery in the cleanup if that is part of the routine.

We recently shared a wedding shower for our intern and his fiancé. This event with multi-cultural food brought diverse cultures, ages, social classes, genders and faith groups together into one joy filled occasion where cuisine played a central role.

What you are eating across from me helps me stay face to face with you. In a world filled with technology which can keep us connected but apart, it is nice to sense close proximity to another person made in God’s image who is struggling through the challenges of life, breathing in the same air, experiencing the same atmosphere, taking the same time just to be here, together.

We claim to be 50 nations in one family.  The second Sunday of each month we celebrate the food from a different part of the world and our members love preparing, displaying and offering what is close to their hearts and stomachs.

When food is offered, somehow people come when nothing else might draw them into relationship.

What have you done to express your hospitality across barriers? What is your favorite food to offer to someone with whom you want to share friendship or welcome? When you think back on the all the meals you’ve eaten, which food offered to you did you enjoy and appreciate the most? What made it so special?

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

In Less Than 5 seconds

arrogance-pride-categories

If I met you for the first time, how long do you think it would take you to form an opinion about who I am and whether we could have a relationship of any kind?

Duane Elmer, in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood (p. 48), cites an American study which demonstrated that it takes between 2.4 and 4.6 seconds to make an unconscious decision about whether we like them and whether there is any potential for relationship. With only a glance at the surface characteristics of features like “skin texture, hair style, nose size or ear shape” I decide whether you are worthy of my relationship.

It seems like the height of arrogance, pride and superiority to pass someone off so quickly, especially when it takes a lot to convince us that our first impressions might be wrong.

Now, consider arriving at church. If it’s a new church to you then you’ve already made some huge decisions by the time you’re greeted, walked a few paces into the lobby and scanned the age, ethnicity and energy of the people in your vicinity. The music and preaching might pull you past those impressions, but not necessarily. We trust our first instincts a lot.

Imagine you’re a family arriving and your children use their 5 seconds to form an opinion. You hear about it clearly afterward. Despite your own experience, you feel the pressure of catering to your child who may drop out of church, faith and life if you get this wrong (or so your own feelings tell you). We are naturally risk-adverse when it comes to those we care about.

Imagine that you arrive in your home congregation and someone unfamiliar is in your path (or in your seat) looking at you. Perhaps they’re dressed differently, expressioned differently, talking differently or responding differently than you would expect of someone in this place. Your 5 seconds of decision making will be over before you realize. Your greeting or lack of greeting may confirm their first impression of this church. Nothing we do, or don’t do, only impacts us.

What does Jesus mean when he responds to those who made their 5 second conclusion about him because of his actions on the Sabbath? In John 7:24, he says “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (NIV).

Suspending judgment seems to be an unnatural act for us – even as followers of Jesus. Elmer advocates for openness and says (p.51) “Too often we see negatively what God sees as difference. If it is merely different and not wrong, we should stay open and be accepting.”

We claim to be a church family where every generation and nation is welcomed. That’s a lot to live up to for all of us – whether we are coming for the first time and dealing with our first impressions – or whether we are regulars given the responsibility of welcoming and receiving other newcomers.

Thank you for thinking twice or three times about your first time impressions.

Have you ever caught yourself deciding quickly whether you like someone or not? What categories did you use to make your decision? Did you ever end up changing your mind about someone later on?

VALUES: FAITH – PART TWO

Our insurance company sent us a DVD on “Facing the Risk.” It features a section on the top ten liability risks facing Christian Charities. It also presents an overview of effective abuse prevention strategies for our organization. I mentioned yesterday that part of our value of FAITH at Faith is leaning toward “prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel.” This clearly demands great wisdom in a society where we have examples of people who plunge negligently through clear barriers and boundaries, where others are risk averse, or where some are ignorant or apathetic about risks.

Today, I want to expand the rest of our statement on Faith. We stated that our value of FAITH:

Means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will lean toward

1)prayerful and wisdom-saturated risk-taking for the sake of the gospel

2)body and soul-stretching outreach initiatives

3) open-handed and open-hearted efforts of generosity and hospitality

This last section is challenging. I know we have Paul’s directive in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV)

So, today, our church planter walked us through an old building which has come available for the next couple of years while the developer awaits permits from city hall. The costs are significant to have a presence on the fringe of an area which says it wants no religious or political presence. The costs of not moving in are also significant as units for 17,000 people are arising as fast as spring flowers from the dirt.

We sat and dreamed of how we could turn this opportunity into a potential foothold for the gospel in the area. Our values would seem to encourage us to move positively, as wisely as possible, toward taking this step.

This would be risk-taking to transform and old concrete building into a church/business center; this would be a body and soul-stretching outreach initiative; this would require an open-handed and open-hearted effort of generosity and hospitality to come up with the resources needed. (We would need about $150,000 to cover the next two years – plus some solid volunteer labor to get the place in shape).

There are many more ways we evidence our FAITH value. We began two daycares, housing for refugees, a partnership with the Vancouver Foodbank, internships, community celebrations and outreaches to street boys and orphans in Uganda. We are looking at innovations in tutoring, youth, language learning and even thinking of bringing a Korean missionary from Korea to help us reach international students.

All of this demands visionaries, generous givers, strategic thinkers, gutsy leadership and people of faith.

We’ve seen God bless in drawing representatives from 50 different nations into one family. What more can he do to build his church? How has he gifted you to demonstrate this value of FAITH? Perhaps you might even have a role to play in some of the vision he is drawing out of us.