Seek help in the right place and in the right way!

When you wake up on a Monday morning and you do your devotions and you realize that the same theme keeps reoccurring, perhaps it’s a wakes-up call that a message is trying to find its way to your soul. Here’s the theme: Seek the LORD and do it in the right ways and with the right company!

In recent months I have been reflecting on the value and power of the believing community together with what it means to follow Christ. And yesterday our pastor gave a message titled, When the going gets tough, the tough…, and his scriptural reference was Acts 4: 23-31. In this particular passage Luke is describing what happened to a couple of apostles (Peter and John) following their release after being detained by the Jerusalem Council. The scripture says that immediately following their release they went to “their own companions.” Why did they do this? They did it in order to share what was happening and so that they could pray together. What’s interesting is their prayer was no ordinary prayer!

The disciples’ prayer firstly recognized the sovereignty of God in all things (v. 24) and then the prayer turned to things like asking for confidence and boldness in speaking God’s Word. In addition to that, the disciples asked for God to move in powerful ways – healings, signs, wonders! This prayer serves as a reminder that when the going gets tough, the tough seeks out their Christ-following companions and they share (in an appropriate way!) and they also pray together! (This was in my pastor’s message.)

Now, not only are we to seek out friends, we are daily to seeks the LORD and His strength. My devotional book this morning talked about trusting God in all things, even when things seems routinely boring! Psalm 105:4 says, “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek his face continually.” Again, a reminder that it is in God’s strength that we are to live in…it’s not in our own.

My pastor gave some challenge/reflection questions with respect to some of the points touched on in his message. (You can listen to Ebenezer sermons online here.) My reflection for this week is rethinking how I pray. My pastor suggested the following questions to be used for reflection: When was the last time you prayed for boldness? When was the last time you prayed for a miracle? When was the last time you prayed for a supernatural event for your friends? Others? 

Take some time today to reflect on the apostles’ prayer in the Acts passage mentioned above and ask yourself what the Lord would have you learn.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Do You Say I Am?

Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting in your favourite devotional, study, or prayer place. More specifically, imagine it’s your favourite place where you enjoy learning about who the LORD is. Because we are all so unique our place of choice may vary greatly or we might choose a variety of places – several paths, so to speak.  Now imagine in the midst of your reading or reflection or conversation that Jesus shows up and very pointedly asks you two questions: Who do others say I am? Who do you say I am?

I have been reflecting  on this passage from Luke 9 for the last little while and spoke this last week on it. (See the attached link below.)

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

 

And today is Good Friday, though I am not entirely sure how we came to call it “Good” because it was a terrible day for Jesus. For Jesus it was a day that he was – as an innocent man! – flogged, spat upon, mocked, rejected, betrayed, in excruciating pain from all the physical beatings he’s endured, he was carrying a cup of suffering, and was nailed to a cross to die. “He became sin who knew no sin.”

I know that his death is not the end of the story, but just for today, let us ask ourselves: Who do you say I am? What does this day teach us about Jesus?

Prayer: Precious Lord reveal yourself to us.

Here is the link to the message I shared during  Horizon’s chapel this past week.  It talks about why we must answer this question and how we can go about gaining answers to this question.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

To Follow Christ Means Having Times of Rest

I am nearing the close of my time in Israel and it has been an incredible time of learning, laughing, seeing, experiencing, and resting in God. As I have either walked or driven past various places I have continued to ask the question: What does it mean to follow Christ? My devotions this morning came out of Psalm 46:10 where it says, “Cease striving and know that I am God…” A timely devotion for me!

To strive for something means that we go to great “efforts to achieve or obtain something.” And if we are really honest with ourselves we can acknowledge that there are times we are labouring in God’s strength and there are times we are labouring in our own strength. Whichever the case may be, striving takes considerable effort, and it is because of this that we need times of rest. We need to cease. There are several ways that the word cease can be interpretered. It can mean to fall into God. It can mean to relax. It can mean refraining from work or movement in order to recover strength. And by the way, the word cease in the Hebrew is actually a hifil imperative which means that it’s not an optional activity but is something we are supposed to do.

Today I am having a day of resting in the Lord. I have been sick (recovering thankfully!) and so today I decided not to do the long day trip into Petra (I’ve been before) and I am going to walk (sit) along the Red Sea and am going to marvel at the beauty that surrounds me. This is a time to recover my strength, to relax, and to be refreshed.

Ceasing striving is critical to our wellbeing. When was the last time you were intentional to relax? (I know that comes in a variety of ways as we are each uniquely wired.) When was the last time you took time away to be strengthened in the presence of God? To remember and know that He is God? If it’s been a while, then I encourage you to take out your day-planner and block out some time to cease – it will be good for you!

Shalom from Eilat.
The picture below is of a big chunk of salt, and actually the entire mountain behind me is mostly salt…very interesting!

IMG_3516

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To Follow Christ is to be a Sent One

I am sitting on the balcony at my hotel room in Jerusalem having my morning quiet time. It is quite surreal to be overlooking Jerusalem whilst reading my Bible and reflecting on what it means to follow Christ. During my time this morning, I reflected on yet another aspect of followership, namely, that of being a sent one.

In Luke 10 Jesus is said to have “appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.” Why did he do that? In part it can be rightly said that he did that because he could not be in all places at all times and he had a very important message to get out: the Kingdom of God has come near. Today, we too, as Christ-followers are sent ones. This is something that has become so real for me on this trip, especially as I’ve had conversation with fellow travellers.

In our current group we have people from all walks of life and all at different places in their spiritual journey. Some embrace Jesus Christ as their saviour; some don’t have any understanding (although they are currently learning) about who this Jesus is. Throughout our time together I have had conversations with those searching (So thankful I have attended a Bible college as it prepared me for this trip, but that’s a story for another day!) and conversations with those who long to go deeper. The point: we are sent ones with a message no matter where we are in the world. To follow Christ is to be sent with a message.

So wherever you are today, be curious about who Jesus is sending you to. “Sentship” (poor grammar, I know) has two parts: an awareness that Christ sends and an understanding of the message we are sent with. That message can come in various forms and various ways, that is for you to discern.

Blessings sent one.

IMG_3317

Behind me is Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To Follow Christ is to Accompany Christ

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

It can be meaningful to linger on a theme, word or topic for an extended period of time. For me, as I indicated in an earlier blog blog post, I am reflecting on what it means to follow Christ. This theme is very meaningful as I continue my journey through Israel. Today I am travelling to Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up. And following some sightseeing there I am then headed to Jerusalem for four days.

Yesterday I did a search on the word follow and discovered that there are several passages throughout the Old and New Testaments that use the word “follow.” One Scripture in particular that caught my attention was the one quoted above. It’s a verse where Jesus is quoted as saying he is the “light” and those who follow him “will not walk in darkness.” I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like I am stumbling around trying to figure out life, searching for the way that I am support to go. Jesus reminded me this morning that I, in fact none of us, are alone on the journey.

To “follow” Christ means to be accompanied by Jesus. To “follow” means to go with Jesus somewhere. The Greek word for follow is akoloutheō, and it can be nuanced the following ways: come after; accompany, go along with,; be a disciple, follow; follow, obey; follow. (That’s from a a Greek lexicon.)

Anyways, to wrap up: we are invited (asked) to follow Christ, but we are never asked to do it alone because to follow Jesus means to be on a journey with Jesus.

Blessings on the journey, may you sense yourself accompanied by Him.

Shalom from Jerusalem,
Carmen

This photo was taken today on the Israeli side of the Jordan River, but in the background is the Jordanian side of the Jordan River.

IMG_3302

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To Follow Christ is Service

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am captivated by the call of Jesus. A call that says to each one of us: Follow Me. Now naturally, a statement like that can create a myriad of questions. How? Where do I start? What does it mean to “follow?” My devotional reading this morning provided some answers. (Funny how God can give us a theme and then provide little answers each day!)

My morning devotions took me to Mathew 20: 26, 27. And though a familiar passage for many, it is a timely reminder for me that greatness is found in following Christ, not in title or position. Tozer says it well. He writes, “…true greatness among humans must be found in character, not in title or position.” He then goes on to say, “We have to follow [there’s that follow theme!] Christ in service to the human race, a selfless service that seeks only to serve, and greatness will be ours!”

So, as I travel to Caesearea, Meggiddo, and several other places today, I am curious about following Christ and serving others. I am wondering who I will meet and what opportunities to follow Christ may present themselves.

Let me leave you with this: If you agree that following Christ equals service to others, be curious and open to the ways in which you can follow Christ today. (And then share your experiences with another so they can be encouraged and strengthened!)

Shalom

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Call of Jesus

I’m sitting in the Saskatoon, SK airport imagining what my heart will feel when my feet land once again on Israeli soil. This will be my second trip to Israel, my first being in 2010. And throughout the last twenty-five years the only place I have longed to visit (clearly more than once!) is the land of the Bible, the land where it all began. The land where Jesus is recorded as saying to ordinary human beings, “Follow me.” (And much, much more!)

To follow something takes courage; it also takes an insatiable curiosity fuelled by the ever-drawing power of the Hoy Spirit who points us in a certain direction. Who is this Jesus? How does his life, his teaching, shape my thoughts, actions, and desires today? What was he like? Can I truly know anything about him? If you’re like me, you’ve likely had similar questions in your journey. Questions are good! They keep us searching.

Here’s what I know for sure: I’ve heard Jesus’ invitation to follow him. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I’m (we all are!) loved by a God who chose to take on flesh and walk among us. Why? Because he’s a God who wanted, and continues to want, to be known.

Be curious today about the ways in which Jesus might be inviting you to follow him. Be curious today about the ways in which God maybe trying to show himself to you. Be curious about the many ways he says to you, “Follow Me.”

Stay tuned for more reflections from Israel.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I was a guest blogger for Zoe Projects!

It is a privilege to be called a friend of Zoe Projects and I was thrilled when they recently asked me to write a blog post for them.

You can read it here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free To Lead Women’s Leadership Conference

I am very excited to be a part of planning and teaching at this conference. To all my local leader friends, you don’t want to miss this! It will be a great time of fellowship and leadership development. It’s a first of its kind on this scale in Saskatoon. Please share it around! More information can be found here on Eventbrite or here on the Facebook page.Powerpoint

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Mom do you want to…?”

“Mom do you want to…?”

I have come to appreciate these words deeply in recent weeks because those of us parenting teens know that doing so is no easy job. And when you’re raising a large family (remember I have six!) there are a variety of personalities. Those personalities translate into various struggles as our children enter the teen years and go through a transition of trying to figure out who they are and how to deal with the many pressures that surround them.

I’ve discovered after parenting through several teen to young adult transitions that at some point part of our teen’s vocabulary goes missing. As of late I have especially noticed how certain questions seem to disappear. Questions like: Mom do you want to hear my poem? Mom do you want to know what I got on my test? Mom do you want to know what happened today when I did my presentation in class? If you are raising a teen(s) then perhaps you have another question that you would throw in there.

Now before it simply sounds like I wait for them to ask me questions I want you to know I don’t. But when the kids were younger (and two still are in this season!) they were all too eager to jump in the car after school or after an event of some sort and tell me all about it the moment I said, how was…? Now some didn’t wait for the question, they just started giving me and anybody else in the car a detailed description of their experiences that day. But as some of the kids have transitioned into the teen years it appears at times as if they have lost their voice. Why? Because within themselves they are going through a very real struggle with emotions and their current reality of life.

Growing up is not easy in today’s world with its information and message overload. And even when you provide your children with the most loving and nurturing environment that you can, many will still struggle. But don’t lose hope! When it seems that they are pushing you away, respect their space but keep asking the questions. You may not get a response, but let them know you are still interested in what’s going on in their life. Read their school work, the notes they leave around, and take time to listen to the songs they sing or the art or poetry they write – you will learn a lot about what’s going on with them! And at some point, when they find their voice, they’ll being to speak up again to ask, Mom do you want to…? And when they do, it will fill your heart with joy. I know this full well because it happened to me just yesterday!

A picture of my beautiful family!

Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment