Faith · News

Tired of the News?

I can get so worked up about everything that’s happening in the world today. At times I still shake my head in wonder at how much change can happen in such a short amount of time.

Everyone homeschooling.

Social Distancing.

Elderly lockdowns.

Masks in public becoming mandatory.

The media trying to divide people more, and more, and MORE.

I had to shake my head yesterday when I watched a reporter try to get my Prime Minister to shame the President of the USA.

Seriously… why?!? Why is there a need for us to go searching for more reasons for offence? Aren’t people angry enough?

Isn’t it enough?

Sometimes I wish the news would be shut down. Just for a week. Watch people snap out of their obsession with current events and open their eyes to the events happening all around them. Wouldn’t that be a healthier way to live? We can’t help what’s happening in the world. We CAN help what’s going on around our homes and in our own neighbourhoods.

I can get angry at current events too.

Like the foolish doctor who lied and traveled without quarantining, resulting in a small outbreak amoung his patients… and then had the audacity to play the race card when people were upset.

Let me tell you, I didn’t know he wasn’t white and I was upset at him for being careless!

Don’t play the race card. Just don’t.

Prejudice is a real issue, racism is a REAL issue. But don’t do something careless and harmful and then blame it on your color of skin when people get rightly upset. That just makes a mockery of the actual racism going on around us every single day.

I’m also upset at the media.

Is COVID-19 a serious issue and social distancing a must? Or not? I’m tired of the double standards. Like why is this condemned:

And this not?

Why do we fine people for gathering in joy and support people for gathering in anger? (I’m not at ALL saying the people shouldn’t be upset at what happened… my point is rather that “social distancing” has been so strictly enforced that people coming too close to each other have been fined… but suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore?)

It’s a backwards world.

This morning, God reminded me of a scripture, which gentle rebuked my “News obsession” these past few weeks:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …So don’t worry saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things and your heavenly father knows your needs. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 7:25-33

And I realized, all this worry can accomplish nothing in my life.

Nothing!

And yet we are so filled with worry and stress, with helplessness and fear. But if God cares for the creatures – and nature itself – won’t he care much, MUCH more for his own children?

He knows our needs! Our job is to put aside worry and seek him first. As we seek his will for our lives and commit to living a righteous life before him, he will give us our needs. Seeking God and living righteously are in our control. Changing the world is not.

We all know that things aren’t what they seem. The messages we are getting from both sides of the media don’t add up. It doesn’t make sense how the “online commenting mob” condemns churches peacefully gathering and adhering to the guidelines, while thousands who are burning, looting and destroying are shown understanding and grace.

It doesn’t add up! And although asking questions is so important, what isn’t important is getting involved in conspiracy theory’s and comment wars while neglecting to take care of those around you.

What can we do? We all fear these events which are out of our control! We fear the world that is rapidly changing into a hate filled, rage full place where hugs and worship are banned, but hate is glorified.

Scripture says: “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”

No.

God is saying, “Do these thoughts, these worries change your situation? Then lay these worries down. I know the truth, I AM the truth. Seek me first, my kingdom and righteousness and I will care for your needs! In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world. You are not of this kingdom. Do not let your trust lie with the world’s government or healthcare system. Your trust is misplaced if you depend on the justice system or media for true justice.”

God is the ONLY just Judge.

May our prayer be, “Come Lord Jesus. Come and make everything right again. We wait for you. Creation groans for your return. We trust in you. Give us the right perspective for this season, and may we not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

COVID-19 · Faith

11 Sundays

11 Sundays of messages at home.

Of worship without people.

Of no church building.

11 weeks of struggling through alone.

Of feeling independent,

Unhurried – but ultimately unfulfilled.

11 Sundays of doing faith on my own.

Devotions becoming dry.

Prayers don’t change at all.

This isn’t a poem. This is my prayer.

“God, open up your church. To meet: in a special building, homes or outside. Makes no difference to me. In many small groups, in one spaced out large one. For if there’s one thing I learnt from all this, it’s that I never attended church for a sermon. I didn’t go for the coffee. I didn’t go to sing a few songs. I didn’t go for the child care or for the programs.

No.

I went for the people. Your people God. I went to meet with others you have touched and through them, got a little taste of heaven… what it may look like to someday meet all together.

God, open up your church. Faith was not meant to be lived out alone.”

Faith

The Testimony that Forever Transformed my Devotional Life

I hear it all the time: I don’t do devotions.

Guilt ridden people share about their struggles, giving every excuse from lack of time, to distraction and even to doubt that it is necessary.

I was once one of them. My devotions were mindless prayers before the table as my thoughts were a hundred miles away. My time spent with God was non-existent.

But in 2014, I heard a testimony that changed everything. Being with God was no longer a list on my things to do, it was the first thing I wanted to do. In fact, I was so radically changed that I believed I was better off spending time with God than eating or sleeping. This meant in a very real way that if I had to chose between spending time with God and sleep, it wasn’t even a question in my mind – I chose God.

Ah yes, 2014. The year I had a 7 year old, 5 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old and a colicky newborn.

I remember it well, well meaning folks telling me as a young mom that seeking God is unimportant in those years… God understands, they say.

The truth is yes, he understands. It’s true. He’s not angry with anyone for not spending time with him.

But the thing is, that’s not the point!

Our entire existence was never meant to be about trying to avoid angering God – what a terrible way to live! What a false and warped view of God!

The point is that overtired, overworked and unappreciated Mother’s need him desperately, and devotions were never meant to be spending time with God out of some religious guilt.

It becoming so convinced that your faith is the only thing you have of value, that you actually begin to live like it is.

So 2014… I was going through depression, I was physically in the worst shape of my life, I had five kids and very little help with them. I was constantly overwhelmed. I couldn’t fit in five minutes to pray.

And I went to a conference that changed me forever.

A young woman came on stage to tell her testimony. She spoke of her years getting a masters degree in a difficult field (I forget what it was) and how much time a day she had to herself… which was NO time. She literally went to school, did homework, went to work, did homework and then maybe got four hours of sleep in before she had to repeat the exhausting cycle all over again. She was almost burnt out.

But then one day, she happened to cry out to God and she felt him telling her to tithe.

“But how God,” she responded, “I have no money!”

God responded simply: “I’m not talking about your money child, I’m asking for your time. Give me 10% of your time and I will multiply it.”

She obeyed. And slowly, she began spending more and more time with God, because she desired him so much! She eventually spent from 3-4 hours a day with him and had more time than ever before! Where it came from was a mystery to her. The rest of her story was remarkable. Her time was literally multiplied. She began getting six or more hours of sleep a night. Her grades went up.

Just from being with Jesus. The Creator.

He knows how we are formed. He knows how life works. The question was not, did I have time, rather, did I really believe that being with God was important? That it could change my life?

Now six years later…I’ve been asked by many people how I manage my time with five kids. How I get everything done, how we seem to be on time for the most part, how everything – from cooking, to cleaning, to sports, to homework and music lessons – how everything gets done… and I often just smile and say I don’t know.

But you know what it really is?

God has multiplied my time.

By spending time with God each day, he has taught me, slowly, step by step how to manage life. How to stretch my money to make ends meet. How to survive under the most difficult situations. How to organize chaos.

You see, it was never me! It’s my time with a God! Read my journal and you will see the difficult questions I ask him each day. I don’t have the answers!

But he does.

And learning this truth, that life just works so much better when it’s walked by his side, changed everything for me.

I challenge my readers to take this testimony to heart. You don’t have time? Then I’m definitely talking to you! Give God an hour, wake up early if you have to just to sit with him, listen to him. Pour out your thoughts and troubles, allowing him show you a better way. It will transform you.

I promise.

Faith

More Than a Building

I have a vision of a worship service that feels like a family gathering – a group that looks forward to meeting together, serving together, eating potluck meals together after singing and praying together.

A small, intimate like body of believers that live like Jesus lived.

Where the old are respected and teach the young, and the young are appreciated by the old.

Where the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children, and the children are turned to their fathers.

Where children are seen as a welcome addition to the church, rather than a burden to be dragged along.

Where the youth are the spark, not the dead.

Where the most hardened criminal is welcomed, loved and changed.

Where church means more than a building with brick walls, great big sound systems, fancy lights, and a large pulpit.

Call me a dreamer. Call me old fashioned. Tell me it’s not possible.

I will see it. I promise you.

Faith · Family · Parenting · Prayer

A Parents Call to Pray

I’ve been all over God’s word today… Deuteronomy, Psalms, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Proverbs… and you know what I see throughout it all? The same loving, gracious God, gently calling and beckoning his people to walk in his ways and teach his ways to the next generation.

And the realization hit me: I can teach my children, but it is God alone who can save their hearts.

God alone can grow the seeds that I’ve so earnestly planted. God alone can hold their hearts and win their love and devotion. This is why my prayers are so important. For what my teaching is powerless to do, my prayers CAN do! I don’t want God to just have their outward obedience! I want him to have their hearts to the very core!

Dear parent, do you feel helpless for where your family is at? Pray!

Do you feel like all your efforts in teaching your children were in vain? Pray!

Have your children rejected your teachings? Pray!

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise up early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those he love. Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in ones youth.”

Psalm 127:1-4

Surely the Lord answers our prayers in accordance with his will. And we know from scripture it is his will that NONE should perish, but that all will come to repentance.

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Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 8

This week, I feel something shifting in my heart. It’s that struggle again…This was no easy challenge for me. I am tired of posting. My insomnia has returned this past week, which means my early quiet times with God are usually cut quite short. My prayers are scattered throughout the day, often interrupted by our busy schedule or children’s needs.

For those of you thinking I must be someone super spiritual, or amazing to pull this one off, trust me: I am NOT super anything. 

I am simply determined.

And desperate.

And somewhat needy.

What I long for is a touch from God. Without soaking in his love each day, I feel empty. I naturally become someone who works and works and works, yet find myself unsatisfied and wondering if I am doing enough. Wondering: Am I enough?

Last week, I found social media was draining me. I was exhausted and saddened at the hours I was throwing away, and while some of those hours spent online have been super productive; encouraging, connecting and building others up…other hours were spent not so wisely…checking out “likes”, getting sucked in to reading the comment wars on other posts.

SOOOO, I took a break. A glorious break from the pressure of daily posts.

And I’m back again for this next weeks challenge. Did I mention only three weeks left? Summer passed by so CRAZY fast!!

Please, please, PLEASE, above all, soak in God’s love. Thank him for his blessings. Remind yourself of all his benefits. Remind yourself of his goodness. These prayer lists are just lists without connection. Prayer becomes tiring, burdensome even, without true friendship. Oh God, if I could ask you for one thing this week for everyone reading this, it would be that they would experience you this week. May they encounter your deep, unfailing love, which is poured out on us regardless of what we have done. You loved us enough to come and die, while we were still your enemies. In fact, you knew all along that we would turn on your son and kill him. But still, you came in love.

That, is true love. That is the kind of God we serve. That is the One we long to meet with when we come to pray.

Pray for your family next. Your spouse. Your children. Your parents. Pray for brothers or sisters. Anyone God puts on your heart.

Then pray each day for the following:

Monday: Our pastors and their families – Previously I have mentioned how there is tremendous pressure on them and their families to “have it all together”. What a difficult burden to bear! Pray for our leaders to be free of this unreasonable expectation of perfection. Pray for them to be able to be open and vulnerable. Pray for close friendships, for people to walk beside them and be forgiving and gracious to their faults. Pray for purity in their lives, for them to have a fear of the Lord and walk in humility before Him. Pray for protection over your pastor and their family, as the devil would like nothing more than to see your leader fall.  Pray for them to speak the truth of God boldly, and to not fear what people think of them, but to care more about what God thinks. Pray for their marriages, for their family time, for their children. Pray for them to have wisdom in each situation, and to have a Shepherd’s heart for people.

Tuesday- The Global Church – This week I want to pray for a group of churches we often write off as hopeless. We see their crowds, we see through the “feel-good” messages and we shake our heads in disgust.

But Jesus LOVES them.

He LOVES his church, even lukewarm/seeker-friendly ones. And he weeps for them as they shut His truth out of their lives.

Last week I read this verse in Hebrews 1:3- “He holds everything together with his powerful Word.” Think about that for a minute. That means EVERYTHING is held together by the truth: His Word. It’s no wonder then, as we see churches erasing the “offensive” parts of God’s word, that they begin to fall apart. They become corrupt and sinful. They can not survive without God’s Word. It holds all things together. This is why societies that get rid of God, who become proud and discard his word as unnecessary eventually collapse. They all end in ruin. We don’t want him in our courts, in our laws, in our politics, or in our schools…and yet His Word is what holds it all together!! Pray along these lines today.

Wednesday: Mental Health – God’s Truth vs. Satan’s Lies: Satan is the father of lies. When we are at our weakest, he knows when and how to attack us. He knows exactly how to speak a devastating lie to our souls when we are already about to fall. Struggles with mental health are in the mind. This is why I believe those living with a mental illness are the most susceptible to believing these lies. I have found the ONLY way to fight back against such lies (which can even be spoken through words others have said to us), is to combat them with God’s truth. Pray that we would learn to hear his TRUTH! How life giving it is when someone who has believed the lie: “I’m unlovable” hears the TRUTH: “You are absolutely, entirely, and perfectly LOVED.” OR someone who has heard: “I’m not worth caring for,” hears God speak over them: “You are worth FAR more than any precious gold or diamonds!” How about the lie, “I don’t belong.” It has no power when God says, “You belong to Me!” Pray that we would speak God’s truth over those lies. Pray that those living with mental illness would be able to hear and accept God’s truth spoken over them.

Thursday: Idols – Sports/Entertainment – Pray today, that we would not live to be entertained, but that we would live ONLY for Jesus. It’s so easy to waste hours in front of a screen. It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on sporting events or even for our children’s teams… what if, we spent this much time and effort on Christ? Let’s be honest here! Think about it.

I’m not calling sports or entertainment evil, but picture for a moment how different our lives would look if instead of running to two soccer practises and a game each week, then crashing on the couch for two hours and watching some mind numbing show, we would spend those hours meeting with Jesus, memorizing his word, praying for others, and serving. What if we turned off the screen and actually talked with our families? What if we visited the sick? What if we stopped watching shows that glorify the very evil that Jesus died for? How different would our relationships be? Pray that we would turn from anything that takes precedence over Christ in our lives. Pray that we would desire that which can truly satisfy. Pray that we would come and drink the living water. Confess today the ways that you have failed in this area. Pray for us to use these things, not as a way of filling ourselves but as further opportunities to enjoy life in Christ.

Friday: Our government – We Need a Law: Sanctity of Life/Caring for the Forgotten – Right now, in my country it is legal to kill a human being. In fact, it is paid for, by the people through taxes. This is astounding to me. One one hand, a window washing company in Winnipeg made headlines for breaking a birds nest off a building. It wasn’t a rare or special nest. It didn’t hold an endangered species. It was an ordinary birds nest. The people liked watching those eggs and were outraged when the nest was destroyed. They called for apologies, for the people to boycott the company. Because of birds eggs. But tear an unborn baby from it’s mother’s womb, limb from limb, and somehow all these people shrug and say: “But who am I to judge…Woman’s rights!”

THIS IS NOT OK. It’s not ok. It’s not ok that unborn crows are more dear to us than unborn children.

Now let’s talk about Euthanasia for a second…

From a CBC article: As of October 2017, More than 2,000 Canadians have ended their lives legally with the help of a doctor. According to the latest report from Health Canada, there were 1,982 medically assisted deaths in the one-year period after it became legal in June 2016. There have been another 167 in Quebec since it was legalized in that province in December 2015, the report said. The total has been rising faster, with 803 assisted deaths in the first six months after it became legal nationally and 1,179 in the following six months from January to June 2017. That marks a 47 per cent increase. 

And we sigh and say: “Well, it’s their choice!”

You know why we don’t fight to save these precious souls? Because we do not care about them. It is much easier, cheaper and efficient to just kill the unwanted, the suffering. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves is FAR too big of a burden for us to bear.

And most of these subjects are taboo, even in Christain circles. What can we do about our country’s complete disregard for the sanity of life?!? PRAY. It’s time to pray. Pray that God would soften our hardened hearts. Pray that God would open up our blinded eyes. Pray that he would make all our self deceiving lies fall hopelessly short in the light of the TRUTH. May we begin to care about people, created in his image, enough to care for them to the end. Even in suffering. May we give them a death with dignity by tending in love to their needs, rather than shoving them into hospitals or nursing homes and forgetting them. Pray that the church would begin to take in unwanted children by the hundreds, by the thousands, so that every argument about “too many in foster care” would fall short. Pray that we would love the unloved, that we would want the unwanted. Pray that we would value life. May we see each and every person as precious in God’s sight.

Saturday: Outreach– You Can’t See Poverty if Your Gate’s too High One thing that often stops us from reaching out to those in need is failing to step out in the world. It feels so safe to find the best neighbourhood to live in. It feels safe to surround ourselves with Christain friends. It feels safe to stay in the better, more well-to-do areas of town. Now what I’m not suggesting is to go out and be careless…but really, should we be shutting out all the people God really wants us to be bringing in? I sometimes go months in my comfortable little life without coming across (or taking time to see) someone in need. Jesus gave his LIFE for us, can we not go out of our way to at least bless them in some way? Jesus came to seek and FIND the lost. Pray that we, the church would be willing to go and find the lost, instead of waiting for them to come to us.

CHALLENGE: Go out of your way to find someone in need and bless them. You can do this anonymously or in person! Ex: Drive around a poorer area of your city until you actually fins a homeless person, or a beggar bless. Make blessing bags and handout or give them a gift card. Anonymously drop a gift card/package on a struggling families doorstep or mailbox. Find someone who has been going through a difficult time and drop off a meal.

Sunday: God’s Healing Presence in our Walls – Pray today that God would heal our congregations. There is so much pain, so much hurt, so much loneliness and struggle. Pray that God would move powerfully so we may be healed from our pain. So we would let go of our sins, our bitterness, our burdens, our worries, our grudges and find freedom and great joy in him!!!

Thank you for joining with me in another week of prayer. May God bless you richly!

Love always, Heather

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Summer Prayer Challenge- Week 7

This afternoon I dropped off my sweet nine-year-old boy at church to be brought to camp. It’s always hard for me to let him go. Some people who know my relationship with Jonas might smirk at this, because our personalities often clash, but it is absolutely 100% true, he’s always the hardest for me to leave.

I see him there, standing among the boys his age. I see the nervousness in his face, which I so relate to. BUT in spite his struggles with social settings, I see him TRYING. He waves at a boy who doesn’t see him. He awkwardly puts his hand down and waits, unsure of what to do next. He inches closer and calls out the boys name, waving again. The boy casually smiles and nods at him. Jonas’ face lights up with relief.

He belongs. This time he was not rejected. These types of settings are hard for him. I blink back tears because I can feel every emotion in this little boy and I pray for his protection this week as if I’m praying for my own.

This is essentially what I’ve discovered intercession to be: seeing, experiencing, empathizing and then bringing all these thoughts and emotions to Jesus.

Some of those following this challenge have sent private prayer requests, some of you have commented and shared publicly and I want to say THANK YOU! That is what prayer is for, carrying each others burdens and lifting them up to Christ. Please do not hesitate to share! I love to pray for each one of you and with you! I cry with your heartache! I hurt with you in your pain and struggles. I rejoice with you in your triumphs! This is the body of Christ!

Here’s what we’ll be praying for this week.

Monday: Summer Camps – I already posted this on Facebook/ Instagram yesterday but pray for specific bible camps you know of. For Jesus to meet the children. For safety, for protection, for belonging, for the staff, etc. The specific camps on my heart this week are Eagle Lake Bible Camp (my childhood camp), Bird River Bible Camp (my current church’s camp, where my son will be attending) and Roseau River Camp (my kids have also attended this camp).

Tuesday: Specific churches in our areas – Praying for our own churches is essential. But praying for other churches in our area to grow in numbers, in love, in gifts, in character is super important! We are not competitors, we are a team. Let me say that again, WE ARE NOT ON OPPOSITE SIDES. We are actually part of the same body. So that means if the church down the road is suffering, I don’t look down on them and say “at least my church isn’t…”

NO!!! We ALL are the church. We need to get this “us” and “them” mentality out of our heads. May we pray that God purifies our desires so that we rejoice when others are lifted up and that we weep when others are torn down or fall apart. Pray for truth to be taught in our churches. Pray for unity. Pray for healing and forgiveness. Pray for joy! Pray for connection and friendships. Pray for loyalty. Let’s lift our community churches up instead of bringing them down!

Wednesday: Mental Health – Insight into Roots of Depression/Road to Healing – Where there is hurt or pain there is a cause. Pray that we would have eyes to see into the roots of mental illness, whether physical, spiritual or emotional and that we would have grace and wisdom in dealing with each unique situation, so that true healing can be found.

Thursday: Returning to Our First Love – This week more specifically I want to pray into our attitudes as believers. Often we really want the world around us to change this or that – but are we ourselves open to change? Are we willing to stay true to God, no matter what the world around us begins to look like? Even if they DON’T change?? Pray for this kind of faith amoung believers.

Friday: Religious Rights and Freedoms – That God would protect our rights as Christians in our country. Right now we still have a lot of freedoms, but this is changing. Pray that our country would once again value what Christianity and see our rights as ones worth protecting. Pray that those in government positions who believe in God would stand strong and be a testimony to the world of righteousness and integrity.

Saturday: A Heart for the Homeless – Be Ready – A few months ago I was doing a devotional/journal our church put out called the “Abide Journal”. During one of the weeks God spoke clearly to me about my attitude towards the homeless. You see, I was always filled with good intentions to help, but when I would see a need I never had time. So my excuse to not stop and help was, “God, I guess I’m just too busy in this stage of life with my kids.” 

And God quietly spoke to my heart, “If you’re to busy in the moment, why don’t you prepare ahead of time?” I was speechless. Because God had, in his gentle way, revealed the real reason for me not helping: I was too lazy. So that week, me and my kids put together a bunch of “blessing bags” to be kept in the car. These bags contain little melt-proof snacks, gift cards, mini bibles with a note explaining my testimony and the difference Christ has made in my life, sanitary products and other little items to make someones day. The kids had a blast! And now I am ALWAYS ready!

1 Peter 3:15 says: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Pray that we, the body wouldn’t be lazy about sharing Christ. Pray that we would be prepare to love, to give, to share the gospel!

CHALLENGE: I bet you can guess today’s challenge…Make a Blessing Bag or Buy a few gift cards to keep in your vehicle! Always be ready to share the good news!

Sunday: Popular or True? I absolutely LOVE that many churches have the desire to be as welcoming to everyone as possible! But loving people and connecting with them means that we absolutely must be willing to tell them the whole truth of the gospel, not just the easy parts. Pray that churches would fearlessly preach the word of God in its entirety. This includes teaching about the hard things: for without hell there was no need for the cross. Without confronting sin, there is no repentance or forgiveness. Without a heart change, there is no salvation. This doesn’t mean that we elevate certain sins and cover over others we feel are less important. Pray that our churches today wouldn’t be concerned about popularity or gaining numbers, but that they would speak the truth completely – unwilling to be ashamed of Jesus or his Word!

Bless you as you seek God with me!