Spring is in the air!

Today’s blog post starts off our new series in April focusing on Spring and Renewing your Faith!

A few weeks ago the weather outside was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was shining, birds were singing and I could sit outside in my long sleeve shirt with my face to the sun (sunglasses on of course) and not shiver in cold.

I had about another half hour before my next class, and I decided while sitting on the bench in the sun, that I would spend those 30 minutes in prayer. So there I sat, in the middle of McGill’s MacDonald campus with students going back and forth, praying silently (that’s where the featured photo is from!).

AND IT WAS AMAZING!

My soul, my mind, my spirit, my heart, EVERYTHING, felt refreshed and re-energized. I went to class floating on a cloud and the rest of my day was so peaceful. Not because crazy things didn’t happen or that I wasn’t busy (spend more than 5 minutes with me and you’ll realize how insanely busy my life is), but because I got to spend those 30 minutes talking with my Father, Lord and Savior.

Everyone will tell you that an important part of any relationship, whether it be friendship, romantic, professional or otherwise, is COMMUNICATION. You need to talk with people around you so that you can not only learn to interact efficiently and meaningfully with each other, but so that you can begin to understand each other better as well.

New Year’s is not the only time where you can begin new things in your life. Spring is in the air and the entire world is beginning anew after winter (although let’s face it, our winter this year sucked). Why can you not also start fresh whenever you want?

I encourage you to spend time communicating with your Father. Try to find times where you can pray by yourself. As you talk with Him more, you open yourself up so that His Holy Spirit can fill you and reveal what God is trying to communicate to you.

It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes, start small with 5 or 10 minutes. You can pray during a break, you can pray in your car or on in the bus or in the metro. There is no limit to where and how long you can pray other than what you decide for yourself.

Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Our Father is faithful and holds to His promises.

Advertisements

Social Issues: Human Trafficking  

Today’s Social Issues post was written by our friend Sarah Campbell
It’s not hard to start a conversation about human trafficking.In fact, the world right now wants to talk about it. It’s trending.

Because when you find out women and children are put on a bus or flown on a plane to be used and abused for the sexual pleasure of another, there is a hot feeling of anger that rises in your own body and you want to talk about it.

 

Furthermore, human trafficking is one topic that Christians and non-Christians came come together and firmly agree is morally wrong. There’s no debate about interpretation of Scripture or cultural contextualization; when you learn that a woman has lived under the control of her captor for 10 years and never allowed to leave, you look to the person next to you and say in unison, “That is not fair. That is wrong.”

 

First, a refresher on the definition of human trafficking. Why? Because you can’t say you know what human trafficking is because you saw the movie Taken.

 

Below is the definition given by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC):

 

Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

 

This definition reminds us that the act of trafficking typically has three characters-the recruiter, the transporter or “middle man,” and the harbourer.

 

The means by which a person is trafficked can vary greatly as well. Abduction may fit a stereotypical mental picture of human trafficking, yet coercion and abuse of power can be swept under the rug. A homeowner who intimidates and bullies a housekeeper to continue to work for the family when she desires to leave is a form of human trafficking. There may be no physical violence or sexual abuse, but it’s an exploitation of another human being and therefore human trafficking.

 

It’s not hard to start a conversation about human trafficking.

It is hard to look at broken systems of family, education, law enforcement, and rehabilitation that allow human trafficking to continue.

 

And yet, it is not hard to pray. So as a Christian faced with the facts of human trafficking, pray for justice. Pray for the victims. Pray for the traffickers. Pray for healing. Pray for strength and endurance for the Christians who have devoted their lives to being a light in the midst of the darkness of trafficking.

Praying reminds us that on the cross Jesus was separated from the Father, suffering while bearing all our sin and shame, all so that we could be rescued.

 

It’s not hard to start a conversation about human trafficking, just make sure you begin and end each conversation in prayer.

 

If you would like to learn more about human trafficking, I recommend the following books/documentaries:

 

Books to read:

Not for Sale by David Batstone

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof

 

Documentary:

Red Light Green Light

 

LENT 101

This year, I’ve been thinking about Lent approx 500% as much as I usually do. Between leading worship at church, speaking on Lent at the February Crossroads, and writing a parody about it, Lent has been pretty solidly in focus for me the past few weeks. So, when Alex asked me to write a post sort of introducing the season (albeit a few weeks late) I was pretty stoked to do it! Displaying Lent sign.png Lent is a beautiful season in the church calendar that takes place in the 46 days leading up to Easter. Most people think of it as 40 days, which is also sort of true? It’s a bit of a grey area- since Lent is the season between Ash Wednesday and Easter, it ought to be counted as 46 days, but there’s a lot more significance behind the number 40 (which we’ll get into in a minute) so some people either start it six days later or take Sundays as a sort of “cheat day”- regardless of how you choose to observe it, it’s really a lovely opportunity to refocus ourselves toward Christ intentionally for a while, and is an excellent preparation for Easter. Let’s get this 40/46 issue out of the way. The reason we think of it as 40 days is because the number 40 shows up a bunch of times in the Bible, and always in situations that fit pretty well with the themes of Lent. 40 days and 40 nights of rain, 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus’ 40 days of temptation, the list goes on. The number 40 signifies the fulfilment of promises, which is exactly what Easter is. Christ returning from the dead is a fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation, so we spend 40 days preparing to celebrate that. Now, most people think of Lent just as that 40 day period where you give something up and then complain about it, and usually cave and start doing it again after the first couple weeks. If we treat Lent only as a time to give something up, we miss a lot of the actual significance of it. While fasting IS a major part of the season, there should also be a heavy focus on prayer and almsgiving. When we talk about prayer in a Lenten context, we’re talking about intentionally spending time with God asking Him to renew our spirits and fill us with His love, especially in the areas that we feel empty due to our fasting. Fasting without prayer is like quitting smoking because your friend hates the smell, and then proceeding to never hang out with that friend again– it’s a nice gesture but it misses out on the relationship that’s supposed to be built up out of it! When we add almsgiving into the mix, things get really rad. Almsgiving is (helpfully) defined as “the giving of alms” or (more helpfully) as “giving of our resources to those more in need”– so the ideal Lent is one where we give something up, spend time in prayer, and then use the money we save by fasting and the renewed faith & hope we get through prayer in order to bless someone else. Fasting + Prayer + Almsgiving = LENT, basically. I pray that this Lenten season you will feel closer to God, empowered to fast alongside Him and renewed in His spirit. As we prepare for the celebration of His resurrection at Easter, let us focus on the Hope that we find in Him, and in the knowledge of His promise. Blessings, Tom Zalatnai

Refocus – Pray Profusely

Hey y’all!

Refocus is back this week where we are continuing to look at why we sometimes lose sight of our faith and the things we can do to restore it. Last time I talked about Dumping Distractions and how we should put aside the things that consume our lives and focus solely on God when we spend time with Him.

This week I want to talk about Prayer and when should we do it? how should we do it? why should we do it? Many questions but all with answers (I hope)!

prayer clipart

Q1. When should we pray?

Answer: Pray Profusely, i.e. ALWAYS

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Prayer is not only an action, it is also an attitude. Yes, you read right! AN ATTITUDE. This attitude means that we are:

  • In constant communication with the Holy Spirit
  • Constantly asking God for His guidance
  • Always praising God and giving thanks for His work in our lives.

Q2. How should we pray?

Let’s look at what Jesus said,

Luke 18: 9-14 (NIV)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

To me, this means that we are never “too good” for prayer. We should pray HUMBLY and not seek to exalt or praise ourselves in the eyes of God. We should pray knowing that everything we do comes from God.

Q3. Why should we pray?

Prayer is how we communicate with God. When we put time aside in our day to meditate on God and His word, we should also take the time to talk to Him.

We are a generation that loves our technological gadgets, we constantly text, tweet, Facebook, phone call, Skype, instagram… whatever you use! Is it really that hard to pray and talk to God?? 

  1. We don’t need a laptop, computer, phone, tablet, etc…
  2. It doesn’t cost us any money.
  3. The line is never busy; we never have to wait for God to be free to talk to us.
  4. God is always available 24/7.

The only things we need to give? our TIME and FOCUS.

Refocus on God and your relationship with Him by taking the time to PRAY… PROFUSELY!