Tag Archive: christianity


Are you afraid? You probably are; or at least you should be. If you say you are not afraid you are probably lying. Everyone is afraid of something.

For me, I am not the biggest fan of flying in an airplane. You can ask my wife what it is like…I get antsy, sweaty, thirsty, cold, cranky, hot…and that is while we are sitting at the gate. Once we take off my fear subsides a little and I settle back into my semi-comfortable chair (Air Canada really does have the most comfortable chairs!) and I wait until we can land. If we happen to hit turbulence I tend to get a little ‘excited’ all over again.

Does fear control me sometimes…maybe. Should I allow it to…probably not since my faith in God tells me that he has not given me a spirit of fear (or timidity is you use the NIV) but a spirit of love, peace and of a sound mind. That is easier said than experienced however.

In the book of Matthew Jesus preached what has become known of as the “Sermon on the Mount”. In the middle of this sermon he reminds the listeners that we need not worry about anything; today, tomorrow, our clothes, our food, our life, our future. The rationale is this: we see how the birds of the air and animals on the ground have their needs cared for; how much more will God care for our needs then? Instead of worrying or being fearful we ought to simply “seek first the kingdom of God”. We ought to have the confidence that what we do not see is still yet able to become reality. We need to realize that God our creator does love us more than we can imagine and is walking right there beside us during our fears.

Some fears are huge and some are small. Some fears are more difficult to overcome than others. Sometimes we allow fear to control our lives…and other times we realize that we can overcome not by our strength alone but with the strength of God within us.

If fear is controlling you to the point of anxiety and/or panic it has gone too far. Talk to people you trust and start the journey back to peace and joy.

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”

This week at Monkey Barrel and Emergency Ministries we discussed two separate topics: Monkey Barrel students explored fear and Emergency Ministries students explored depression. I will tell you a little about our depression talk in this blog post and next week I will write about our fear talk.

The slogan of the talk was this: depression…it does happen. I was at a meeting of the board of our local Youth Centre just this past week and heard a young lady talk about her experience of teen depression when she was in grade 8. What she said went something like this (I’ll paraphrase):

I don’t know why I started feeling that way. I was not a high-risk teen and my family did not display terrible dysfunction as you might expect of teens with depression. It just happened.

Thankfully this young lady was able to find the support she needed from our local Youth Centre. With this talk my aim was to instill hope in the students present that they and their friends can get through prolonged periods of depression and they can always talk to trusted people in their lives about this.

The reality of the situation is that we all get sad sometimes. There are things that get us down. Most times these feelings go away; however, sometimes we begin to think that we deserve to be sad because of some terrible thing that we have done. Sometimes we believe that the situations will never change. Sometimes we put our head down and stop looking around at all the beauty of life around us. When it gets to this point we likely need help finding our way back.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus tells a story about a tower that fell on 18 people and killed them. The question Jesus asks is whether these 18 people in the wrong place at the wrong time somehow deserved to be there. Were they bad people? Is this why they died? Was it Karma? The answer Jesus gave was a resounding “NO”.

Bad stuff happens and that is just a part of life. The law of Karma states that what comes around goes around; if you dish out something bad you cannot escape the bad that will come back to you. The reality is that if you are a thief you will likely go to jail and if you are a jerk you will likely have no friends.

Even though we joke about Karma all that time…this is NOT some natural law of the universe. What comes around does not always have to go around; Jesus came to the world to break the cycle of sin, death and destruction. The Apostle Paul reminds us in his book to the Romans that “…the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Moreover, the Gospel writer John said, “…the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. Jesus comes to give abundant life!”.

Jesus gives hope that tomorrow can be better than today….no matter how bad today was and no matter how many mistakes we made today. Jesus asks us to lift up our heads and look at all the wonderful beauty of life around us. There is more to life then things that bring us down. Once we break free from cultural misinformation like the supposed law of Karma and the message that for some people things can never change we can begin the journey back from a life of depression.

If you have felt sad, down, or blue for several weeks and nothing seems to bring you out of this you might be stuck. Faith in Jesus can help bring you back…and Jesus often times uses people to bring his hope. Talk with your youth leaders, youth pastor, school councilor or other trusted people and start the journey back!

 

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.  (Psalm 31:5-6)

 

NOTE: Wednesday February 8th 2012 is national “Let’s Talk” day about depression and other mental illness. On this day numerous high profile individuals will open up about their battle with depression.

 

Make sure you talk that day as well.

This past week at Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel we talked about how to handle…anger. When channeled properly anger can motivate us to cure injustice and accomplish great things. When left to its own devices anger can tear us apart from the inside out. That is the difference between controlled anger and controlling anger.

There is a story in the Bible that goes something like this…

Once upon a time there was a guy named David. He and his men were out working and they ran out of food and provisions. So…they sent some people to ask a friendly neighbor if he could provide them with what they needed. The friendly neighbor turned out not to be so friendly after all. Nabal turned away the messengers and sent them back empty handed.

David was angry…and he decided to kill Nabal and all of his family. Not the best course of action but that is what he decided to do. Abagain was Nabal’s wife and she was a little more generous than her husband. Although she was angry that her husband was bringing David’s anger upon their family she decided not to take it out on her husband but rather to make the situation right. She loaded provisions on her donkey and rode them out to meet David…while he was on the war to murder her family.

David received Abagail and her provisions with happiness; his anger was subsided. Thanks to God, said David, his anger would not longer cause him to murder an entire family.

The moral of the story is this: Abagail controlled her anger, David allowed his anger to control him. Abagail did what was best with her anger, David was on the verge of murder.

There are going to be many things that anger you throughout your life. Anger is not a sin but rather it is a natural reaction to situations that are not pleasing to us. The way he handle anger is where the problems lie. Anger that controls you grows inside of you like mold on last week’s lunch leftovers. It spreads to other areas of your life and makes you angry at those things too. Though your anger might start with a teacher is can end with you angry at friends, school, studying, exams…all the way to the crossing guard on the way home.

Control you anger… “…in your anger do not sin”. If you find yourself in an angry situation take a moment to read what the book of Proverbs says about anger and then, like David, allow God to redirect your anger in a positive direction.

 

A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted (Prov. 12:16)

Happy New Year! It has been a while since I have posted…however, Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel are now back up and running!

In true New Year’s fashion I shared with the students several New Year’s Resolutions that I have concerning our youth ministries. I know that many times such resolution are just a verbal attempt to make a positive change and tend to last about as long candy at Christmas; however, my hope is that these resolutions will define our ministry efforts well into 2012

Here are my resolutions:

1. We will get to know each other’s stories.

Too many times we life we ‘know’ people simply as a name, a face, a co-worker, a barber, a bank teller…but do we really know them? Do we know their greatest fears in life? Do we know what is going on in their heart and head? Would you be on the list of people they would celebrate the joys of life with or share devastation with? If not you probably do not know their story.

The book of Revelation 12:11 gives us a glimpse at the power of someone’s story. Read it, you’ll see. When we get to know each other’s stories – the deepest parts of our heart – then we will really get down to ministry as God uses us to encourage and to be encouraged.

2. Take our knowledge of God and turn it into action.

There is much that can be known about God and faith…we also know that too much fast food is not good for our bodies. However, if we do nothing with this knowledge we are no better off (or worse!). The Bible states that when we come to Christ we become a new creation; the old is gone and the new is here! We are changed, washed, renewed…that sort of thing! In 2012 I want the students of Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel to raise the bar and turn their faith into action! If you’re not convinced then just read James 2.

3. Hear from God.

Finally, in 2012 I want students to take a proactive approach in hearing from God. Yes, I want them to pray. I want to them to pray at home. I want them to pray at school. I want them to pray when they are walking to and from class. I want them to hear from God themselves. It can be tempting to let the pastors and leaders do the praying and the spiritual stuff on your behalf. Many people in our culture allow the religious professionals to take care of spiritual things and only visit once a week for a light snack. This is not what I want our students to do in 2012!

Now that we know what I want we need to know how…and I have some ideas about how we are going to make this work. But that is another blog post; looks like I’m off to a great start in 2012!

Would you believe in an addictions councilor who was arrested for drug trafficking? Would you believe in a marriage councilor who was getting divorced? Would you believe in a fireman whose house burned down or farmer who never harvested a crop?

Would you believe in a God who does not always do what you would expect him to do? Would you believe in a God who allows some people to choose eternal separation and torment (i.e. hell)?

Would you believe in a God who created some people destined for destruction…all so that he could demonstrate to you and I the blessing of a relationship with him and the peril of lacking that relationship? The apostle Paul asks this question of the church in Rome.

This line of questioning has become quite popular these days especially within the writing of Rob Bell and others and I think that it is having a damaging and confusing impact on our faith. These questions play on our natural sense of morality as they cause us to question what WE think is good and loving…which leads us into dangerous grounds.

I once thought that our natural sense of morality was evidence of God’s fingerprints on our lives. I think we can all agree that things like violence toward children is one of the most depraved things a human being could engage in…God would agree. But I now see how cursed even this seemingly good moral sense is for it tricks us into being sympathetic for the things that WE deem moral with no regard for whether God has said it is moral or not.

I dare say there are many in the church today, even good God fearing people, that when pressed on some areas of morality in our society today would find it very conflicting in their spirit to uphold God’s morality when our own morality seems to just make more sense.

Some Christians and other well meaning people wonder why we are so down on same-sex marriage and abortion; can we not just go with the flow on these issues? What is so wrong with loving whom you want to and choosing to have a baby (or not to) when you want? Is not the right to personal choice and unique personal expression a fundamental aspect of human freedom?

The problem with this line of questioning is that it puts us in God’s place and makes us the supreme judge of what creation was made to be and what potential it has to become. Do we really think that we know enough about love and enough about God to fill in for him from time to time?

Paul says to the Roman church, “But who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who form it, ‘why did you make me like this”. (Romans 9:20) God speaks through Moses in the Old Testament when he says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Ex 33:19)

God did not say we would always understand everything about this world and everything about Him. However, he did say that he would always be good and in that we can have faith.

Romans 8:28 “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If you are ever confronted with the “how can you believe in a God who…” line of questioning you can tell them that your faith in God does not mean that you can always understand all of God’s ways. Having faith in God does not always mean that what seems logical and good to you is what is best for creation.

Instead, our faith is such that we trust that God’s ways are still good even when we cannot understand them!


Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death”.

And so the plot thickens? No, not really. I guess a better way to say it is that the plot is plodding along at a somewhat slow and still confusing pace. No wonder Canadian media have not picked this up. Although, a news report today stated that this is part of Iran’s policy. That is, the constant waffling regarding the charges facing this man is actually part of the clear straightforward policy of Iran. The intention is that people will get so confused that they will simply allow Iran to manage itself and in the end they can do whatever they want.

In some twisted way that might be the truest new report I have heard throughout this whole process. What I know now is that the execution order has been removed. Some in the Iranian government have said that there never was a verdict and that the case was in the investigation stage only. What asked about why the appeal if there was not a verdict, Iran stated that the accused could appeal at any stage in the investigation. Others have said that the rendering of a verdict is now being handed over to another individual in the Iranian legal system.

In summary, Pastor Yousif does not appear to be facing execution this week. He could perhaps face it next month or next year…or whenever they finish the investigation into the charges that some say has not even gone to trial yet.

For now, there will be no execution. That I can say for sure, I think. In the meantime continue to think of and pray for this situation that it will continue to come to a fair resolution.

I have continued to scour the media regarding Pastor Yousif’s pending execution. As I mentioned before, there is much confusion and controversy associated with this as Iran seems to have changed their mind about why they are intending to execute this man…only after there has been public outcry from the western world.

The final verdict was supposed to be handed down today but I read in a report earlier this morning that it will now be delayed until Monday. Will Pastor Yousif be hung for apostasy, rape, running a brothel…and combination of this? Who knows…

I guess that this is still a waiting game for the international community and those interested to continue to follow.

p.s. I am still disappointment about the lack of interest in this man’s life demonstrated by Canadian media…we seem to be the one of the only nations not regularly reporting on this.

This is somewhat of a frustrating question for me personally as of late; the question of how do you get the heaven. It is not that I have adopted some gross heresy of the faith we have in Christ and no longer ascribe to that fact that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but through him. Neither is this a result of my appreciation and subsequent disappointment with Rob Bell. But that is another story.

This is the question that we dealt with at Monkey Barrel this week. Of course we affirmed that only those who profess faith in God and continue in (walk in) that relationship would attain the hope of ‘heaven’. However, we were careful to remind students that life is not all about dying to go to heaven. Life in Christ is actually much more than dying and going to heaven; it is about living abundantly right here and now!

Heaven the ultimate restoration of creation and creator; it is the final reconciliation between God and you and I. It is a place where, according to the book of Revelation, the streets appear as though they are paved with gold and a place where there will be no suffering, pain and tears. It is a place where the curse of humanity will be removed and all that we will have to do it enjoy abundant life in the presence of God and the others around us. There will be no sun in heaven the bible tells us; God’s glory will shine bright enough to illuminate the place.

I cannot say for sure what heaven will be like; I’ve never been and if I had I wouldn’t be back to talk about it. (Oddly enough the apostle Paul had a vision of the heavens and wrote about it in 2 Corinthians).

So, while I do know that heaven is important and that one’s final resting place depends on where they put their faith in this life, I also know that the life of faith is not just a giant waiting room until we die and go to heaven. There is much enjoyment and life to be had here on earth; there are many spiritual gifts to explore that God has given for exercise here and now!

I guess that is why I am not so much a fan of the statement “this world is not our home” any longer. In fact, God created this work and deemed it good. This is my home and your home right now and God does not hold that against us. In fact, he has actually expressed great concern over this world and would want us to share in that.

How do I get to heaven? Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. What do you do until you reach heaven…God knows, and I am sure it is fantastic!

So…what is the deal with this guy Abraham anyways? That was the question that we tackled on Wednesday at youth. We have been attempting to figure out what the whole story of the Bible is and we determined that it is this: God’s attempt to restore a broken relationship between you and I. It’s actually quite dramatic and “chick-flick” like romantic; a desperate lover moves heaven and earth to reconcile himself to his bride. If you think I am overstating this just read Song of Songs in your Bible.

God decided to use Abraham to get the attention of the world. This old man who had no sons was given a son whose descendants would form a great nation: the nation of Israel. This nation was given great blessings as well as the promise of divine protection (…I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you…).

God’s intention was that these blessings would not just remain with Israel but that they would get the attention of the whole world….and that through Israel the whole world would be blessed and realize that God Almighty is THE God!

We tried an experiment: I dumped a ton of candy on a random group’s table in the youth room and watched what happened (Alisha, Kaitlin, Chris & Stephanie were the luck ones!). Those at the candy table were thrilled to be there and those who were not there were paying close attention to the candy table and even attempted to snuggle up to them and get to know them…hoping that they would get a share of the candy.

This was exactly God’s plan! Israel would be blessed and others would be attracted to that blessing. In turn they would hear about Israel’s faith in God and that God was the source of all of their blessings.

It didn’t always work out as planned. If it had of there would be no need for such a big bible. The fact of the matter is that Israel didn’t always live up to the blessing that they were given….and so the story continues.

More on that story next week!

Submitted by Alisha Sheppart

On Thrusday, September 29, the girls of Emergency Ministries held the first Girls’ Night Out of the new school year. Alisha Sheppart organized the event, sending out emails, and creating a facebook event page to promote it. The girls were also encouraged to bring their school friends.

The girls gathered at Pastor Nathan and Mandy’s house right after school. There was about 10 girls in attendance, with Mandy Hill and Cindy Morrone there as leaders. The girls ate snacks, baked and decorated cupcakes, and played a few games, such as charades. They also chatted about school, church, and any thing that was going on in they’re lives. They enjoyed each other company, and everyone said that they had a great time.

The next Girls’ Night out will be held at the beginning of November and will be a manicure party!! If you have any questions about the Girls’ Night Out, be sure to ask Alisha Sheppart! 🙂