MVS – MALACHI

Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament! Next week we’ll move into the New Testament 🙂

 

Malachi 3: 6

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”

Our Lord does not change. When He makes a promise to us, He sticks to it. He will always love us, no matter what we do.

How great is the love that the Lord has shown us!

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.

Holy Week: Easter Sunday

Today’s post as part of our Holy Week series has been written by Mark Latulipe!

Happy Easter! – ALLELUIA! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! ALLELUIA!

Easter Sunday – the day that we remember the incredible and historical event that changed it all. On Good Friday Jesus hung on a cross and carried the weight of all our sin. He paid the cost of that sin, which is death; but it doesn’t end there. After his death on the cross and burial, Jesus rose and came up out of the tomb and was alive again. Not even death could hold Him down. Jesus did all this to accomplish everything that was promised and He did it because he loves more than we can comprehend.

Luke 24: 1-49 – This passage that has been on my mind this Easter season.  We read about three encounters that happen after Jesus had risen: the women at the tomb, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the other disciples. The ones I want to talk about are the encounters with the disciples.

First, we have the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus. They were talking about what had happened – Jesus on the cross- and this “guy” comes up to them and asks them “what’s up” (paraphrasing). On any other day this would have been normal question; but on this day it was not. The disciples’ reaction was, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (v18)

Given their emotional state, their snappy maybe even snarky remark was understandable. They “explained” to this guy what had happened and he turns around and says to them that they don’t even know what really happened. He explained to them that they were being foolish because despite knowing the scriptures and despite knowing what Jesus had told them before his death, they still believe that Jesus was actually going to come back from death. (Oh snap, they just got told!) So they continued their conversation with this man as they walked, still not recognizing that this man was Jesus. They didn’t realize it until he broke bread with them, just as He did before his death.

Then we have disciples. Fortunately they recognized Jesus or at least that this being, possibly a ghost, looked and sounded like Jesus. Even after all His teachings and all the time they followed Him before His death, it still took convincing from Jesus himself to make them believe. It took seeing the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet for them to know that this was Jesus, alive again.

For me these encounters these people have with Jesus really shows our human nature and a struggle we all face. Despite knowing the scriptures or the story, and despite knowing Jesus, we still need to be reminded of who He is, what He did, and why He did it. We constantly need Jesus to say to us “hey, remember me, remember what I did for you, and remember why I did it.” We need that reminder sometimes daily, but that’s ok. We shouldn’t feel ashamed that we need reminding; those who knew Jesus best on this earth, who actually witnessed his death, still needed a reminder. And that’s what Easter is about; we celebrate and remember Jesus and the incredible things He did for us.

So take time this Easter, before church and before the family dinner, to sit and pray, and ask Jesus to encounter you, so that you can truly be reminded of “who He is, what He did, and why He did it” – Happy Easter!!!

Holy Week: Good Friday

Today’s blog post has been written by Laurin Vroom!

Hey there friends!

Today is what we call “Good Friday” also known as “Holy Friday.” It doesn’t seem so good when you think about what we’re celebrating today: The crucifixion of Christ. This is the day we remember what Jesus went through to bring us back into intimate relationship with the Father. Jesus was hit, mocked, spat on, whipped and ultimately hung on a cross next to the lowest of criminals. You can read the story in more detail in Matthew 27:27-55.

There is something good, no great, that came of all this torture and unfair treatment. Christ suffered out of an intense, selfless love, for humanity. He wanted to demonstrate how much He loved His Father, and what complete obedience and unconditional love looked like. He shed His blood, so that it would symbolically cover over our sin, and make us righteous so that we can once again be in an intimate relationship with God- no longer separated by sin. This is an incredible Truth to get our heads around.

I want to challenge you today, to sit somewhere comfortable, by yourself, read the story of the Cross and seriously reflect on what it means, and what Christ’s sacrifice means to you. Think about how hard it would be for you to forgive everyone who spat, hit, beat, whipped and mocked you if you were being killed for a crime you never committed. Think about Jesus’ words, and how super-human Jesus’ forgiveness is.

When Christ ascended to heaven, He later gave the gift of His Holy Spirit, so that this super-human power can live inside of us! This holy power of God, living in us, is what strengthens us in our faith, helps us forgive those who’ve wronged us, helps us love those who hate us, etc. Anything you think is too hard for you, you can look to the Cross, to the One who gave everything for you and you will always find the strength you need.

There is a song that is super appropriate that I encourage you to listen to as you reflect: Once and for All by Lauren Daigle.

Her song reminds us that we can remember, connect and experience the love of Christ, when we remember the Cross and what He did for us on Calvary. That even though you and I are like the criminals that hung next to Jesus- sinful, broken, selfish, screw-ups- He still extends His love and grace to us when we look to Him. She sings about laying down her life to live for Christ, just like He laid down His life for us. I’ll leave you with a few of her lyrics, and pray that on this Holy Day, you take the time to remember what a gracious, loving and selfless Savior we live for.

God I give You all I can today
These scattered ashes that are hid away
I lay them all at Your feet

From the corners of my deepest shame
The empty places where I’ve worn Your name
Show me the love I say I believe

O Help me to lay it down
Oh, Lord I’ll lay it down

O let this be where I die
My Lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdom fall
Once and for all, once and for all

There is victory in my saviors loss
and In the crimson flowing from the cross
Pour over me, pour over me

O let this be where I die
My Lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdom fall
Once and for all, once and for all

MVS – Haggai

Haggai 1:9

You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”

Have you been paying attention to God’s house? YOU are the temple of God. When you are busy thinking “Me! Myself! and I!”, you don’t have time to think about “Me and God”.

Are their places in your life where you could think “God and I” more often?

MEMORY VERSE SATURDAY – MICAH

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.”

The number of times I sang this song when I was with GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meet the Savior – kind of like girl scouts) is HUGE. I LOVE this song, and the verse!

As 2016 progresses I challenge you to ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY, and WALK HUMBLY WITH OUR GOD.

 

MEMORY VERSE SATURDAY – JONAH

Jonah 4:2b (NIV)

“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

Our God is full of grace and compassion. But most of all, He is overflowing in love for us. Always remember that there is nothing that we can do that will ever diminish His love for us.

Blogs of Speakers Past – Relationships

Today’s blog post has been written by one of our past Senior Youth Camp speakers from 2014, Genis Misola!

Bonjour friends!

Right after SYC 2014, I flew to Toronto to meet some friends and to go see Niagara Falls. When I realized that we were in the vicinity of Niagara, I opened the car window by my side and for the first time I heard the thunderous power of the waterfall. Then, after having parked we saw the Falls in all its glory. It was both an awe-inspiring and a humbling experience. I was inspired by the immensity and beauty of the Falls. But more than that, I was amazed at the hands that made Niagara.

For eons, the waters of Lake Eirie has flowed into Lake Ontario forming the landscape we are so familiar with today. If the Scriptures are true, then each and every water molecule, dust particle, and rock formation bears the undeniable fingerprint of God. Imagine, the God of the universe allows human beings to marvel and gaze upon such a masterpiece. We are truly blessed.

Even more, I pondered upon the privilege that each human being has. Not only can we gaze upon the fingerprint of God in creation, but we have the privilege of knowing the person of the Creator through His Son Jesus Christ.

To marvel at what God has made is indescribable but to marvel at God Himself is grace.

During SYC, the focus of my topic was on relationships and I hope I encouraged many of you to discover that your most important relationship is with God through Jesus Christ.

After a year and a half, how is your relationship with your Creator?

Perhaps, that relationship at this time is broken. Perhaps, you are farther away from God than you’ve ever been. Perhaps, God is so far out of sight that you have forgotten how to get back. May I remind you that God’s greatest display of power is not when He created Niagara, not even when He created you or me.

God’s greatest display of power was when Jesus died on the Cross and rose again from the dead.

There, God restored humanity’s broken relationship with Him. May we continue to be inspired by God’s power to create and sustain creation. But even more, may we be inspired and humbled by God’s power to restore our broken relationship with Him!

Blogs of Speakers Past – Multifaith

Today’s blog post has been written by one of our past Crossroads speakers, Judson Bridgewater!

I follow Jesus. 

But on Friday I was counselling someone who called himself a Pagan. On Monday someone else came inquiring of me about the rules of wearing his pentagram necklace in uniform.  One of my daughter’s best friends is a Muslim.  Welcome to multicultural Canada. 

Most of us, can I assume, have been taught to be ‘nice’ Canadians:   “Live and let live. Be polite. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but keep your religious beliefs to yourself.”   Yet despite all these nice sentiments, lurking behind this veneer of ‘niceness’ we have seen some shocking examples on social media of racism, xenophobia, ignorance, and pride by Christians and non-Christians alike. Have you seen it regarding the military’s new minister of national defence? What about the hatred following the welcoming of 25,000 Syrian refugees?

And as I see this stuff I have to wonder if followers of Jesus aren’t called to act differently?  Do you say anything to the Muslim guy who sits next to you at school?  What about your doctor who is a Hindu? What do you do if your child’s principal is a Wiccan?

And yet it seems that many Christians follow one of 2 opposite paths followed by most ‘nice’ Canadians. First, some folks say all religions say the same thing. All beliefs are equal and true.  Everything thing is relative. And anyway, someone’s religion isn’t that important.

The second path says that all faiths other than your own are evil, wrong, backwards.  Those who follow this path feel it is their personal job to be judge, jury and prosecutor of anyone who doesn’t affirm that: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Can you relate to either of these two perspectives?

But could it be in the bible (Matthew 16) that Jesus is demonstrating, calling, and empowering his followers to respond differently than with these two extremes? When Peter says to Jesus: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” he does so amidst other vibrant beliefs in a multi-cultural world of the Greco-Roman Empire (not unlike pluralistic Canada today). And yet Peter still makes a definitive, exclusive claim of who & what Jesus is all about in a pluralistic world. 

As William Willimon points out, Peter doesn’t say Jesus is the Son of the Living God, the Roman Emperor is also the Son of God and so is Buddha. Nope.  Peter indicates something particular, something special about Christ.  And Jesus acknowledges this particularly.  Many folks today want to embrace something else by saying: “You’re a Muslim, I’m a Christian, but that’s not really important.  After all, we’re all saying the same thing?”

I’m not so sure.  If you patiently sit down and actually listen to a Muslim for more than 2 minutes, you’ll see we’re not saying the same thing. And for you to suggest otherwise, is disrespectful to Muslims and even to your own faith.  It might be an attempt to appear gracious; however, it might actually be ignorant and arrogant. Its kinda like saying: “Hey, your belief in Islam is really unimportant and insignificant.” When in fact their faith might be the very centre of their being as your belief in Jesus is central to your being.

Jesus is not some mixture of vague spiritualities, he is the Son of God who lived, died on cross & was raised in a very specific way.  It is possible to mis-identify Jesus as Peter points out. And yet just because some mis-identifies Jesus doesn’t mean you need to slam them on the head with the bible, does it?

Folks who take the second path by denouncing and condemning other faiths, often use this episode from Matthew 16 out of context. When Jesus asks: “Who do people say I am?”   Peter responds with: Well, some folks say your John the Baptist, other Elijah.  Heck the lady down the road thinks you’re a good moral teacher. That guy believes you’re a political rebel.”  But how does Jesus respond?

As Willimon suggests, Jesus never says anything against other  religions but  he fiercely criticises his own followers. Condemning of other faiths isn’t demonstrated by Jesus. In fact, throughout scripture, its the outsiders like the Good Samaritan or the Gentile Centurion who are exemplars of faith.  Jesus is hardest on Peter for his inconsistent lack of trust.

Finally, as Willimon remarks if you can affirm Jesus as Lord like Peter, it is only because you have been given a very special gift from God. It isn’t because you are so smart and spiritual.

“Blessed are you, Simon (Peter). Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my father in heaven.” 

With that, your response to others might be to affirm Jesus’ uniqueness while respecting your neighbour and her different beliefs .

Who do YOU say Jesus is?  And how does YOUR life demonstrate that reality?  

Xmas Decorations – Not my thing

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written on the blog… (or at least it feels like it). So far we’ve had 10 absolutely amazing blog posts, people sharing their thoughts on Christmas. I wanted to share my feelings on Christmas decorations… or lack therefore.

As a kid (some would argue I still am), as soon as snow began appearing on the ground and December rolled around, I’d be after my parents to start decorating the house for Christmas. Lights outside, the tree had to go up with lights and decorations, we always set up a nativity, and an electric train, and Christmas magnets on the fridge, and a mini-tree in my room, and… you get the picture right? Decorations galore!

But now… I’m no longer excited about decorating the house. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the decorations when they’re up, but it no longer feels magical or absolutely necessary during the holidays.

Christmas over the years has become less and less about the trappings, less related to the tree, and decorations, and lights, and ornaments, etc. They’re still a really fun part of Christmas, and I still enjoy the different traditions (especially the foods!)… but they’re no longer essential to my Christmas. 

What has become essential and has oft been spoken of in these Twelve Blogs, is family.

Not just the family that my physical body was born into, but the family of Christ into which I was reborn, and the family I have chosen for myself as I have grown up.

It’s important to me that they be happy, healthy, and feel loved. Christmas has become less about me and the traditions I enjoy, and more about others in my life to whom I do my best to show them the same love that God has shown to me (John 3:16; John 13:34-35; Matthew 22:34-40).

Showing others love can mean so many different things! Gary D. Chapman speaks of five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Each person receives love in different ways, and it’s important to show them love in a way that they’ll understand. In other words, speak their love language.

2016 is a new year full of hope, love, potential, and unlimited possibilities!

I challenge you to discover not only your own love languages, but discover those of others, and then learn how to speak it.

It’ll be worth it, I promise.

PS. You can take the quiz here.