What Joy is Before You?

“looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

I was struck by this verse today. I was struck by it because I realized that in face of uncertainty and difficulty there is a way to endure. That way is through realizing that there is something much greater ahead for me. That no problem, no obstacle, no struggle is greater than the love and hope I have in Jesus.
I needed to hear this again because unless I repeat it, I forget it. My hope becomes a trinket, a good luck charm. But in reminding myself firstly what God has done in and through Jesus, I can remember and see that there is so much more ahead of me. Jesus endured his suffering and shame, not because he had greater will or strength. Rather it was his dependence upon his father, and the knowledge that his plans and his ways are better. He took joy in carrying out his father’s will. In what God had planned for him.
What is God’s will? To buy back and restore his creation. To buy back and restore me. To buy back and restore you. The joy set before Jesus was the restoration of you and me. That what he was enduring was the pinnacle act in God’s plan to bring us into relationship with himself.
So what difference does this make? For me, it is in getting my heart set upon the joy that lies before me. In fixing my eyes upon the hope and knowledge that God is restoring me. That I will one day along with all my brothers and sisters in Jesus stand before him and know peace, know joy and what it is means to be his child. If we can set our lives upon this joy that lies before us we can endure, we can scorn shame, we can find hope. We will find life that is rooted deeply in Jesus and the work he has done, and is still doing, to present us before his father as holy, blameless, free and restored. My prayer is that you can catch a glimpse of the joy that God has in store for you. If you want or need prayer I would love to pray for you or with you, send an email to chris@gpchurchofchrist.com.

When Was the Last Time?

When was the last time you felt a sense of wonder? of awe? It is easy to get so used to some things in our lives that we begin to take them for granted. From things like the sun rising everyday and taking your next breath. How can the seemingly ordinary, routine things of life become a source of joy and and amazement?
As with most things in our lives it begins with what we are focusing on. How are we seeing our world and the things in it?

I like the way G.K. Chesterton put it in his book Heretics: “Humility is the thing which is for ever renewing the earth and the stars. It is humility, and not duty which preserves the stars from wrong. from the unpardonable wrong of casual resignation; it is through humility that the most ancient heavens for us are fresh and strong. The curse that came before history has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundredth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth ‘the light of common day’. We are inclined to increase our claims. We are inclined to demand six suns, to demand a blue sun, to demand a green sun. Humility is perpetually putting us back in the primal darkness. There all light is lightning, startling and instantaneous. Until we understand that original dark, we have neither sight nor expectation, we can give no hearty and childlike praise to the splendid sensationalism of things.”
As we get used to things we tend to become unimpressed with them. However, as we approach life with a greater sense of humility we can discover a new sense of wonder. We can see things with fresh eyes, hear with fresh ears. Our ability to wonder is connected to our ability to quiet ourselves and soak in the amazing nature of all that surrounds us. It is also about noticing. Once we can humble ourselves and slow down, we can then take in more details, more of what lies before us. It is true in relationships and it is true in how we appreciate our world. If we can allow ourselves time to appreciate the people in our lives and the world around us we can discover a refreshed sense of awe. We can then re-experience wonder and joy as we live our lives with renewed sight. If we open ourselves to this possibility we can find greater appreciation for this life that God has given us, the world he has created and the wonder and joy that comes with knowing such a faithful and loving father.

James 1:17
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Is Jesus Enough?

I was thinking about my own relationship with Jesus and what could possibly change who He is to me. If my life was completely flipped upside down and nothing was going right, would it change how I relate to Him? When things are good I am thankful and happy. When things are bad I get negative. Either way I try to place the blame on something I must have done or I distance myself from Jesus.

I realized that if I am going to call myself a disciple of Jesus I need to have a relationship built on who he is, and not what he does for me. I need to understand how I walk with him is not contingent or dependent upon what I have to offer. Even on what he can do/has done for me. Is Jesus himself enough? Do I only want Jesus for what he has to offer me and how he can improve my life? We usually default to the answer of “no” or “of course not”. I feel that this is either because we are afraid to look at our lives in a more honest way, or we are afraid of what it might cost us. You see, as we let go of “regular” things and pursue Jesus, we might find we get asked to sacrifice, to give things up, to have less for ourselves. Less money, less power, less comfort, but more Jesus. How does that sound to you? On its face not very appealing, unless you’ve met Jesus. You see, to really know Jesus is to see what being human actually is. In Jesus we see real life, real freedom, real hope. Jesus didn’t do things the way the established order did. He made time for the insignificant, he honoured the lowly, he gave his time and energy to show people their worth. That is what Jesus has in store for us too. If we can learn to grab a hold of him first and foremost. Ask him to drag us around with him, we will begin to see things differently. Our yearning for a better car, a better job, better health, better friends. This will all fade as we begin to see more and more of who Jesus is. As such, we will also find ourselves giving more, sharing more, wanting less, getting deeper friendships. We will see our lives improve but most likely not in the way we would have wanted. As we make Jesus the centre of who we are, we will learn what it means to be human, and what it means to truly live.

So, if you find you are tired of where you are at, maybe it is time to get to know Jesus? To decide that he is enough, and let go of all the other things that cling to your soul. Maybe it is time to say, “Jesus you are enough”.

Matthew 6:33-34
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Are you feeling dry?

We all come to points where we are tired, worn down or sick of people. It is a normal part of life, but for people who follow Jesus we need to remember to have patterns in our lives that renew and revive us. It is easy for us to keep trying to soldier on, put on a brave face and try harder. It is more important however that we recognize our dependence on God. That we need to come to him and ask to be refilled, renewed, restored. God wants us not our deeds, God want us not what we can do for him. We have a God that is unlike any other. Read this passage from Micah chapter 7: 18-19
“Who is a God like you?
Who forgives sin
and pardons the rebellion
of those who remain among his people?
Who does not stay angry forever,
but delights in showing loyal love?
Who will once again have mercy on us?
Who will conquer our evil deeds?
Who will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea?”

We have a God who delights in forgiving, showing mercy and compassion. We have a God who takes the worst parts of us and refines them. His love is described as loyal, unrelenting, boundless. It is a well that we must ensure we are continually drawing from. It is the source of life that enables and empowers us to live as his children. It is the strength we need to overcome our struggles and the courage to proclaim his love to everyone. If we are not regularly returning to the well, we will dry out, become weak, fall apart. We must recognize that God does not want or expect us to be strong enough. He is the one who deals with our sins, and he is the one who transforms us to be more like him. We must therefore learn to rely upon him and come the well where he refreshes and restores us.
So how do we come to the well? In many ways and no one way is the only way. Most common is to spend time reading the bible and praying. Allowing his word to saturate your spirit and wash over you. Music and praise is another key component to this. If we are joining in worship of God with other people we recognize that God is at work in us, his church, and that we rely on him. Serving is one of the most overlooked ways we draw near to God, but as we lay aside our own wants and needs and engage in service of others we begin to gain greater awareness of the value and dignity of others. We express in tangible action that we desire God to use us to lavish his love on others.
So, make sure you are returning to the well, the source of life. Find time and create spaces where you can be renewed and restored in God’s presence. Understand anew that we have a God who loves to show mercy to us, who will not let anything stand in the way of us coming to him. Come to the well and be refreshed.

Does It Change Anything?

I have been thinking about how is my day to day life impacted by my relationship with Jesus? It is one thing for us to acknowledge that we need Jesus in order for our debt of sin to be paid, but there is so much more to a relationship with Jesus than that.
It is about transformation and restoration. What God wants is for us to be whole, to be complete and we cannot have that apart from him. If you look at the biblical story, the entire narrative is about God seeking to restore all of creation to its proper state. I know for myself I often lose sight of the bigger picture and get too focused only on myself and my own shortcomings. Jesus calls us to take part in the restoration of all things. We are called to be peacemakers, advocates, servants, and leaders. We are called to be agents of change. So the question remains, how does Jesus change how I live? How does he transform and shape every aspect of my life? How do I treat the homeless person I walk by, the grumpy cashier, the annoying co-worker? How does the fact that I know I am loved by the king of the universe affect how I treat people? My challenge is to ask God to have his love drench every fibre of my being so much so that it spills out over everyone I meet. Will I have dry and crusty days? Sure, but I will acknowledge them and pray for God’s love and grace to move through me despite them.
I believe that we can take a hold of God’s love and hold tight then he will show us what restoration looks like. Restoration of our hearts and lives, restoration of our friends and families, restoration of this world. This question remains, do we want this?

“The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Isaiah 58:11-12

Upcoming Camps!

Family Camp again July 15-17th. A great time to hang out, eat and worship together. For more details check out the event here: Family Camp Info Kids Day Camp July 18-20th For kids ages 6 to 12 and will run from 830-4 each day. Kids will need to bring a lunch but we will be […]

AGM & Ice Cream Social

Whether you think of it as the Annual Meeting or as the Ice Cream Social, this is an important time for our church family. We get to hear about the state of various ministries as well as there is opportunity to ask questions and discuss the plans and direction of the church for the upcoming […]

Meet David

Take a minute to get to know more about our shiny, new Director of Children and Family Ministries, David Haugan.

Great Resource!

Here is another great growth resource we have access to! There are bible studies, devotionals, life resources and so much more available. They also focus on all age groups so it is great for anyone looking to grow in their faith. Check it out here: https://www.rightnowmedia.org/ If you don’t already have an account, email Chris […]