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It is a Laughing Matter!

It is a Laughing Matter!
Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham
Genesis 21:6.
Isaac means ‘laughter’.  And to Sarah and Abraham the birth announcement they received made them laugh – a laugh of incredulity.  She was 89 and “worn out” and the “old man” was 90.  I think we might cry upon getting that news at that age.  Nevertheless God’s promise was given, the baby was conceived and born, much to Sarah’s great pleasure.  “God has brought me laughter (tsechoq – Isaac)
and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”  (Gen. 21:6).  God’s work of Redemption is always by grace, when man’s strength is exhausted.
Laughter has not been abundant during the past five months.  Many are constrained by fear, weighed down by disappointment, confined by illness, choked by anger.  The medical, political and economic reports from the worldly wise give little reason for laughter.
But they do not provide the last word, nor the best.  The Christian Church, on the 4th Sunday of Lent, has celebrated “Laetare Sunday”, from the first word of the prayer for the day – “Rejoice” or “Laughter Sunday”.  Other early churches gathered on the Monday after Easter to sing, dance and feast on Emmaus Day.  I was called “Risno Paschalis” – God’s Joke, the Easter Laugh”, because God pulled a ‘fast one’ on Satan in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The dark ways of Satan in death, were exposed by the light of the risen Christ.  Delivered unto death, He rose by the power of God, immortal and incorruptible.  “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  (1 Cor. 15:54).  Cheer, clap, laugh, rejoice!
Will we ever have a laughter Sunday?  I doubt it.  But that gives us reason to laugh every day.  The birth of Isaac was a forerunner to the birth of Jesus, a greater miracle indeed.  And the miracle of the Incarnation was consummated in the Resurrection of Jesus and the birth of the Church.  God’s work of Redemption is always by grace.
In the past, holy saints have bowed in awe and reverence before God and laughed in the Spirit hilariously.  (The same word Paul uses to describe our delight in giving.)  Laugh with surprise, laugh with amazement, laugh with thanksgiving, laugh with hope.  Remember Readers’ Digest:  “Laughter is the best medicine.”
It’s a heavenly remedy!


The Faithful Love of the Lord Never Ends!

The Faithful Love of the Lord Never Ends!

Submitted by: Pastor Natasha Westerhoud

Lamentations 3:22-24
New Living Translation
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

For the past few days I have felt that there have been things that I have come across either through the news or interactions with others that have tried to rattle my peace and take my hope away.

In allowing this I have become tired and feeling like … what hope do we have!

I often wonder why I allow this to happen! I think it is because for a brief moment, I take my eyes off the One who truly is the source for all Hope.

You see, for a moment I take my eyes off the truth and allow what ever is going on to be bigger than my God. It is no wonder I am rattled. Only God can calm the storm. Only God can give us peace in knowing the truth which is that ALL Hope comes from Him and Him alone.

No matter what is happening all around us, God is the one I want to focus my gaze on. God is the one I want to put my Hope in.

God’s love never ends.

God’s love is bigger than anything we are hearing or dealing with. We may not have all the answers, but we have a God who is in control.

His mercy is a constant in our lives.

And you know what! Every morning we have this opportunity to rise out of bed and start the day new and fresh with His mercies right there, waiting for us. His faithfulness is so great, and it is for us. God is faithful, kind and loving. He loves us so. His faithful love for each of us never ends. Never!

So today, I am declaring that the Lord is my inheritance and I will HOPE in HIM!

It takes work on our part to choose to fix our eyes on Him and not be swayed by what is going on around us.

I invite you all to join me as we fix our eyes on Jesus and the Hope of eternal life that He brings to each of us.

Peace my Friends,
Pastor Natasha Westerhoud

Seven Questions for God

“Seven Questions for God”
Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham
Psalm 77
Asaph, a Levite, was appointed by King David to lead the praise and worship daily before the Ark of the Covenant.  With his brothers, they formed a choir of singers and musicians who turned the hearts and minds of the Israelites Godward.  He was considered a seer, thus the twelve Psalms he composed were inspired by prophetic insight.
Psalm 77 divided into two parts, vvs 1-9 and 10-20.  In the first section, “I” and “me” predominate, while in the second the emphasis is “God” and “you”.  The first portion is dominated by the great sense of distress and helplessness of the writer.  He groaned, felt faint, and refused to sleep as he cried out to God in prayer.  Thinking back to times of joy and singing, six frightening questions now arose in his mind.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will He never again be kind to me?
Is His unfailing love gone forever?
Have His promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He slammed the door on His compassion?   (vv7-9)
For the redeemed of the Lord, when God is silent and distant and we are focused on ourselves, these questions are timeless.
“Then I thought … I will remember the deeds of the Lord; your miracles of long ago.”  (vv10,11).  God’s holiness, God’s faithfulness, God’s power recalled gave rise to a seventh question, “What God is so great as our God?” (v13).  The history of God’s people released from Egypt at Passover, and rescued at the Red Sea by divine action akin to creation, provides the life-changing answer.
There was bondage, there was suffering, there was darkness, but there was God
“To lead his people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  (v20).  Being the God “who changeth not”, we too can rise up in faith and praise and embrace the Gospel answer.  By His death and resurrection, Jesus has given to us a greater deliverance, the revelation and realization of God’s way through the wild waters or the weary wilderness.
“Our God is a Mighty God…”

He… Opened the Scriptures

“He … opened the Scriptures.”
Submitted by…Gord Gooderham
Luke 24:17-35.
David Greenwalt, a Hollywood television producer was asked what he looks for in potential actors and television writers.  His reply to Touchstone magazine was as follows: “Many years ago, I read an interview with Michael Tolkin, the screenwriter of The Player, for which he received an Oscar nomination in 1993.  Asked to provide some advice to young screenwriters, Tolkin told them to read the Bible, since, one way or another, that’s where all of our best stories have come from for the last sixteen hundred years or so.  It’s excellent advice.”
While it is true that there are great stories in the Bible, stories of love and hate, goodness and evil, hope and despair, joy and suffering, friendship and betrayal, it is of greater importance to recognize that the Bible is THE STORY.  The Bible is THE story of life, of beginning, of family, of government, of failure, of redemption, of worship, of future.  To discover sufficient and sustaining counsel to gain wisdom for living, reading and heeding the Scriptures is imperative.
The Bible in its fulness, is the story of Jesus Christ.  Returning home from Jerusalem, following the crucifixion of their Messiah and the dashing of their hopes of national redemption, a stranger joined the two travellers.  He knew them, they didn’t recognize Him.
He entered their conversation, seeking more information, and provided an explanation.  “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”  (Luke 24:27).  Their hearts and minds were opened to see Jesus in the holy writings of Genesis through Malachi.  The stories explained are the story of our Lord Jesus, and God’s provision of human redemption.  Beyond that, we have the New Testament, and the down to earth, flesh and blood, back to heaven life of Jesus.
“God makes the words of the Bible a sacrament, I.e., the means whereby we partake of His life, it is one of His secret doors for the communication of His life to us.”  (Oswald Chambers).   As regularly as you nourish your body with good good food and drink, nourish the life of Christ within you by the faithful, thoughtful, prayerful reading of the Bible, “the means whereby we partake of His life.”

Come…Come With Your Stuff

Come…Come With Your Stuff

Submitted by: Pastor Natasha Westerhoud

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

This is one of my favorite reflective passages ever. As I read the words my spirit is filled with peace. I sense God’s presence as He is trying to tell me to come to Him. He is holding out His hand, reaching for mine and telling me that He has got this. No where in this passage does it say you need to be strong and do this on your own. No where does it tell me that I am left alone , no it says…come…come with your stuff. Give it to me.

Why do we carry such heavy burdens and concerns? Why are we so consumed with worry and guilt? Our God is such an amazing caring God, He tells us that He will take care of us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will guide us into His peace.

To often we pick up our stuff instead of laying it down.

I think today is a good reminder for each of us to give the burden we are carrying to Him.

Stop picking it up.

Leave it at the foot of the Cross.

He will take it up for us.

Go to Him if you are weary and filled with a heavy burden.

He promises us that He will give us rest.

Go to Him and he will teach us how to find rest for our souls. I just love this verse. He will teach us to find rest for our souls. How comforting is that!

His burden on our life is light. How refreshing and freeing.

Give it all to Him today. Be free in knowing that He will give us the rest we need.



The Call to Climb

The Call to Climb

Submitted by: Gordon Gooderham

Philippians 3:14.

High in the Swiss Alps there is a memorial to a faithful guide who died ascending a peak in stormy weather to rescue a stranded amateur climber. The words on the plaque described the indomitable spirit and lifelong goal of the guide, “He died climbing.”

That should very well be the aspiration of every follower of Jesus Christ.

Thoughts of growing in the likeness of Christ, fulfilling the on-high calling of God, and experiencing the joy of entering His heavenly presence, all urge us to ascend. As the journey of the followers of Aslan (the Chronicles of Narnia) comes to a climax in The Last Battle, the cry of The Talking Animals is heard repeatedly, “Further on, and further in.” Whether it was Roonwit the Centaur, Farsighted the Eagle, Jewel the Unicorn, or Reepicheep, the Chief Mouse, there was no turning back or falling short of their battle cry.

The mind of the Old Testament Saints was always on ascending. The city of the Great King was established on Mt. Zion, His holy mountain. David ruled Israel from that mountain, yet he saw a higher prospect. He asked in prayerful song, “Who May ascend the hill of the LORD?” The response of his heart, inspired by the Holy Spirit, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol, or swear by what is false.” ( Psalm 24:3,4)

We have come to Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.” (Hebrews 12:22)

Mountain climbing is hard work. Such an athlete trains constantly, plans carefully, steps cautiously, and discards all unnecessary earthly baggage to gain his goal. Can we who walk with Jesus up Mt. Calvary do less? The way of the cross leads home.

“Make us Thy mountaineers;
We would not linger on the lower slope,
Fill us afresh with hope, O God of Hope,
That, undefeated, we may climb the hill
As seeing Him who is invisible.

Let us die climbing. When this little while
Lies far behind us, and the last defile
Is all alight, and in that light we see
Our Leader and our Lord, what will it be? (Amy Carmichael)

Praise to My Creator

Praise to My Creator
Submitted by Marlene Swan

Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Psalm 139:13 -14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 119:73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.

Isaiah 64: 8 Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Acts 17:25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

Psalm 100:1-3 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Luke12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

I John 4:9-10 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Psalm 96:6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

He is…He will…

“He is…He will…”

Submitted by: Gord Gooderham

John 1:9.

Sixty years had passed since young John had spent an afternoon with Jesus and became His disciple. Those years of faithful obedience to his Master gave him great depths of God-filled experience set forth in this pastoral letter. He discovered, through times of travel and imprisonment, the reality of God’s character and His compassion. This ongoing fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ, revealed to him that God is both faithful and just. That being true, He will forgive and purify all who are sinners, and we all are sinners, if we confess our sins.

God is faithful, He keeps His word. Abraham was old, as good as dead. Sarah was barren and beyond bearing. But God promised a baby. Abraham considered Him faithful. A baby was conceived, and a nation was born. (Heb.11:11,12). God is faithful, He will not deny Himself. (2Tim2:13).

John also affirms that God is just or righteous. Jesus had taught that “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1:5). Moral darkness is a kingdom, from which is spewed lies, hatred, murder, deceit, idolatry, fornication – all manner of wickedness. The Devil, as king, is both a liar and a murderer. The Kingdom of God is Light – righteousness, goodness, truth, love, purity. God is righteous, He cannot lie.

Because God is righteous and just, He can forgive our sins, if we confess them. To ‘confess’ is to agree, to say the same thing God has said, “All have sinned.”
My confession, “I have sinned,” prayed with the humble spirit of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” The International Standard Version reads, “If we make it our habit to confess…”. Not an empty, vain ritual, but a daily heartfelt, sincere acknowledgement of our sinful omissions and commissions.

Our compassionate Father forgives and cleanses from all sin. Forgive is literally “to send away from”, as Jesus said to the stretcher bound cripple, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” The proof of that deliverance was release from his paralysis.
Purify or cleanse means “to remove all filth,” casting away guilt, deceit, defilement, rebellion.
“Forgiven! I repeat, l’m forgiven!
So, clean before the Lord, I freely stand.” (Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Athletes for Christ

Athletes for Christ.
Submitted by: Gord Gooderham
2 Timothy 2:5.
Paul’s life-ending challenge to Timothy, his son in the faith, urged him to compete as an athlete in his Christian life and ministry.  From his prison cell in Rome, the Apostle wrote, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.”
These men were quite familiar with the Olympic Games held every fourth year in Greece.  It was a religious festival honouring Zeus, the Greek king of the gods, dating from 776 BC (perhaps even earlier) and continuing through 393 AD.  The first and only event in 776 BC was a 600 metre foot race.  Over time, the pentathlon, boxing, wrestling and chariot races were added.  Rules were established to ensure fair competition for determining the winner of the ‘stephanoutai’, the honoured wreath that crowned the victor’s head.
Perhaps it was an Olympic year when Paul wrote Timothy, thinking of the discipline, determination and dedication of the athletes in training.  Exercise, diet, repetition of skills, and knowledge of the rules were pursued to the highest level.  No one involved in the Christian life should be any less committed to winning the reward of God’s approval.  “Run”, wrote Paul to the Corinthian believers, “in such a way to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training…we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  (1 Cor. 9:24,25)
Because Timothy was a young man, Paul sent him instructions to follow.  Practicing these rules of life, he would set a godly example for other believers “in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”  (1 Tim. 4:12). Five rules of conduct to run the race of Christian faith and receive the victor’s crown.
– in speech.  Guard your tongue.  Let your speech be without offence.
– in life.  Conduct or behaviour.  The word means ‘up turning’, from former actions now known to be sinful, to acts of kindness and honour.
– in love.  The love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”  (Rom. 5:5)
– in faith.  Faith in the name of Jesus, by which we stand firm, act like men, strong in character.
– in purity.  A clean heart to worship God, and a chaste mind and body in relation to people.
Run the race.  Keep the rules.  Win the crown.