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Living Letters

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

God is accused of lots of things, but one of the most ironic is the charge that He is not paying attention. We often say, “Why doesn’t God hear me? Why doesn’t God speak to me?” The truth is that God hears and speaks to us regularly. It’s us who often aren’t listening – we tend to stick our fingers in our spiritual ears and belt out a hearty, wilful rendition of Yankee Doodle while the Lord tries to get OUR attention.

This past week, the Lord spoke to our family of Churches in an interesting way. We believe that for the last while, He has been trying to get our attention about His mission for us – His Church – in this world. It’s all about our role as ambassadors for Christ – ministers and messengers of reconciliation between God and people. We have preached about evangelism, we have taught about hospitality and reaching out to others, we have done activities to practice sharing our faith… All with OK results. Not great, but OK. Then the Lord sent us a letter.

More than one letter, actually. Eleven, to be exact. Francine, one of our members, happened to come in contact with a group called Missionaries to Canada. It was a team of young people from Indonesia and South Korea who were living out a call from the Lord to come to Canada and share Jesus with Canadians! You might think, “Wait a minute. Isn’t that our gig? Isn’t Canada the one that sends missionaries to those countries?” The answer is a sad, “We used to.” Now we’re too enlightened to do that. And this “enlightenment” has caused our nation to become a spiritual shadow of its former self. The Lord knows the trouble that Canada is in, and He has answered our nation’s need for Jesus by sending Christians from other nations to bring the light of the gospel into the enlightened darkness that we have wrought, and to encourage Canadian Christians to pick up the torch again and reach out to the lost all around us. He is sending living letters to Canada.

As a result of this initial contact with the Missionaries to Canada, this team of international missionaries visited us for a week. They stayed in our homes. They ate with us. They provided presentations and equipping for us. They sang. They taught. They served. They testified about what Jesus had done in their lives. And they spoke to us in English, a language that many of them had only begun studying four months ago. Far from home, way out of their comfort zone, into a frigid zone, in our homes, in our Church, around the table, these young people became living letters to us. The Lord sent them and spoke through them about His heart for the lost, and His desire to see us doing Jesus’ work on the earth, with an eloquence and an effect that easily outdid any best-selling book or cool video on the subject.

The week we spent with the Missionaries to Canada was profoundly impacting. That’s because the Lord sent them and spoke to us through them. Sending living letters is just one of the myriad of ways that God uses to get through to us. I’m glad He doesn’t give up trying.

Are you feeling like God isn’t paying attention to you these days? Maybe He is already sending you a living letter. He does that.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob

This doesn’t have to happen.

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Christmas, as you probably know, can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we have a wonderful celebration of the birth of Christ, where we get the opportunity to pause and reflect on the miracle of the Incarnation – the fact that Jesus is Immanuel – “God with us”. On the other hand, we have the Christmas Vortex, the dreaded holiday drain that sends us rushing in every direction at once, consuming all of our time, energy and resources, inevitably drawing us into another Christmas tradition: the Christmas Meltdown. It usually either begins or ends with the tree.

So how do we manage to face Christmas, which is by nature a busy holiday, without slipping into the Christmas Vortex? I think we stumbled on the answer last Saturday.

Last Saturday was our WECC Christmas Café, an event that our Church hosts for our families, friends and neighbours, which includes a Christmassy (spell check let that one go!) atmosphere, big league desserts, imported Tim’s coffee, Christmas carolling, improv, special music (featuring some of our own, along with DMCI’s Chamber Choir – awesome!), and a gospel message. I was coordinating the event this year, helped by a sturdy crew of steadfast brothers and sisters who know how to serve.

It was work. People spent hours and hours designing tickets and delivering flyers, setting up tables, decorating, practicing music, gathering volunteers, making desserts, preparing the program…it was a formidable task for our Church to take on. In fact, one might wonder why we would do such a thing right in the middle of everyone’s own personal Christmas crisis. Why not leave well enough alone? Aren’t we just setting ourselves up for the Meltdown?

 That’s why Saturday night was so interesting. As I watched the event unfold, I didn’t see frayed nerves or exhausted Christmas zombies. In fact, I saw people going above and beyond the call of duty with energy, gusto and, I think, JOY. I would have been more surprised at this if I wasn’t feeling the same thing. After 6 straight hours of work on that Saturday alone, I was feeling great. No Vortex. No Meltdown. Just joy.

How did this happen? Did someone put something in the desserts? Was it the Tim’s coffee? Probably not. What I saw was people experiencing THE JOY OF SERVING. I realize that, according to the current thought in this world, putting “joy” and “serving” in the same sentence constitutes a paradox. But not according to Kingdom thought. Jesus said, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Even with this mandate of extreme service, the Bible records many times that Jesus was full of joy!

So we somehow managed to find the Lord in the serving, and shared in His joy. People found joy in delivering flyers, creating a nice atmosphere, greeting people at the door, preparing and serving desserts, filling coffee carafes, singing, playing music, mixing sound, setting up tables, taking down tables, vacuuming the carpet, scrubbing out stains, setting up chairs…

As for me, my greatest joy on that night was to deliver a message of the good news of Jesus Christ, and to see an amazing number of people indicate that they received the Lord Jesus right there.

So my Christmas wish for you this year is that you would stay out of the Vortex, miss the Meltdown, but catch the Joy of the Lord by serving others for His sake. It’s a great way to face Christmas.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)