Starts and Ends

Life is a season of starts and ends. Starts and ends come with numerous whatifs and anxieties about what will happen next. It happens to all of us – young and old alike.

The end of summer break ushers the start of a new school year, of autumn, and of cooler months ahead. For some it may mean starting in a new school, a new job, a new state of health – improved or otherwise – for yourself or loved ones. For others it could be the start of a married life while starting it in a brand new place far from family and friends.

What can get us through all the nerve-racking anticipation of changes and challenges is to trust in someone who has a handle in all of it. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” Lean persistently on the Lord and live peacefully in Him.

May you find comfort and confidence in the Lord in the season of your starts and ends.

Criss-Cross

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

Our family chose the “plaid-themed” outfit as one of our rare Christmas coordinated attire this year. As I looked at this picture it made me think of how life can be like the lines that criss-cross this design on our shirts. Lines that may be seen on smooth, ironed-out places, lines that wrinkle around the armpits, my little Gianna’s cuffs that constantly got stained on because of her wiping the chocolates off of her mouth, etc.

Funny how life can be seen as a plaid shirt….life can sometimes be (or most of the time) the way that we’d like it to be – smooth-sailing and just right. At other times, we see wrinkles (problems that come along), around the armpits life may even stink. At times, bigger problems come “dashing through” and they almost stain our lives as if they’re there to stay. Life is a mixture of stuff and we all know that. However, as I look closely at this picture, no matter how many “criss-crossing” of lines we go through in life, one thing remains – God intends our lives to be a beautiful photo – one that we can always look at with sentiment and say, “It was all worth it!”

Written by Thess Bernardo-Isidro – guest blogger

High Ropes, Paintball & Karaoke

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21 (NIV)

high ropesSummer time presents us all with the unique opportunity to do things we cannot otherwise do in the colder months. During the recent church camp, several campers got to try their skill and courage at the High Ropes, which is simply some kind of an obstacle course placed about 50 feet above ground! I happened to be a spectator as one brave camper after another across all ages tried the thrill of either walking across wooden planks or tight ropes. Pretty soon, I was being corralled to join those Tarzan-like souls who completed or even just tried the high rope obstacle. I wanted to try my best, but my overly cautious side won the day. Plus, I was not about to make a widow out of my wife just yet!

paintballMore recently, one of our growth groups decided to take on paintball! This one seems more normal as we get to stay on the ground. However, the thought of firing high velocity paint-loaded sphere bullets out of an air-powered rifle didn’t quite strike me as something sane either. Call me cowardly or a germophobe but as soon as I saw the participants donning on combat-like fatigues and gears, my interest went to zero rather quickly. They looked so serious! So I found myself retracting yet again for what looked like an interesting game of shoot-hide-drink-lots-of-water-clean-yourself-up.

Then the day after, GCF Peel decided to kick it up a notch by introducing some summer flair to our after-Sunday-worship-gathering. We invited friends and neighbors in our community for some BBQ picnic, games, and of course, a healthy dose of karaoke. Even our guest preacher, Pastor Nick Adams, surprising us all with a few songs that he belted out so well. I said ‘surprising’ because, for some reason, I don’t find many here in Canada who are actually into karaoke. And of course, Pastor Nick paved the way for me to be strongly compelled to deliver my own rendition of songs stored in the karaoke machine’s microchip. That certainly scared me more than the high ropes and paintball combined!  So yet again I chickened-out!

It turned out to be a great Sunday because God made it so. Three people came forward with a decision to repent from their sins and make Jesus Christ their personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for working in Your message that continues to be preached through our church. As we delight in the fun that deepens fellowship, may the fervor of your people in sharing the gospel to everyone translate into a step of faith in Jesus Christ in the lives of everyone else we touch along the way. Amen.

“The real warriors in this world are the ones that see the details of another’s soul. They see the transparency behind walls people put up. They stand on the battlefield of life and expose their heart’s transparency, so other’s can finish the day with hope. They are the sensitive souls that understand that before they could be a light they first had to feel the burn.” ― Shannon L. Alder

 

Redeeming the Time

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

A popular urban legend has been sneaking innocently into the minds of people everywhere.  It has to do with the fact that the month of July 2016 has the unusual occurrence of having 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays.  What’s not very factual is that the urban legend claims that this happens only every 823 years – even having the dubious connection to a Chinese label of “silver pockets full”, i.e., relating to good fortune.  In fact, this is more common than it seems.  January of this year 2016 also has this characteristic of having 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, so that totally debunks this myth that has been spreading around.

Illustration imageWith this misinformation comes a fervent reminder that time is precious.  What a blessing to know that we have 5 weekends in July – the peak of summer when everyone is looking for “more” time to spend outdoors and enjoy a short reprieve from the more prevalent cold days of Canada.

But having “more” time is a misnomer.  We don’t really get “more” time.  Time has been set for us.  It is a consumable product.  We cannot add to it nor lessen it.  That’s what Solomon reminded us in Ecclesiastes 3. Time is appointed.  We either use it or it passes us by.  We can never recover time that has been lost to complacency.

As a precious commodity, let’s be wise stewards of time.  Invest it in building relationships and establishing connections with people.  Put it to good use by recognizing eternity is of great consequence with time.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:2: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  Use this time to ponder God’s plan to bring you under His grace that you may experience everlasting life – when time is no longer of any essence.

Lost in the Fine Print

“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:21-23

Tim Horton’s famous Roll Up The Rim To Win contest has just ended.  It is one of the most successful business campaigns here in Canada causing a frenzy of coffee-buying (as if we’re not already overly indulging in this caffeinated drink) just to get at a chance to win any prize.  Here’s what most people probably don’t know about the contest:

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