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

Doing Church through Candies, Coffee, Cocoa, and Colouring Countenances

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35

I remember how the observance of Halloween around our Castlebridge community was so different this year than it was last year. First of all, the preparations we made last year were just phenomenal. I recall how we went all out decorating the gym at the school like it was a one-day VBS. We led everyone in singing and played games where prizes were given out to the winners. Our church members heartily donated chocolates, candies, and even little toys imagining what it would be like for even the kid at heart to receive such treats.

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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.

Indoor Waterpark Woes

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5-7

Indoor waterparks are a big draw here in Canada where people are always looking for a place to get respite from the bitterly cold winters.  Now that it’s summer time we don’t think too much about this since people can still enjoy the warm weather. But wait until the cold wind starts settling in.  I shouldn’t be saying this now as people are already looking forward to summer time!

This reminded me of an experience we had several winters ago when we visited a very popular indoor waterpark in Niagara Falls.  As we entered the waterpark, we saw people of different ages enjoying themselves amidst the pleasure of splashing waters and slides while sipping juices and snapping pictures of themselves basking in the happy moments.

The waterpark advertised about maintaining a balmy summer-like temperature.  However, to our dismay, the freezing temperature outside seems to be seeping into the park creating an uncomfortable climate inside.  It got to the point where our son suffered a mild hypothermia causing his body to slow down until he almost slept.

As I look back at this experience, I realized that our life with Christ can go through the same fate if we are not careful.  While we enjoy the eternal security that God promises in His Son, there can be lurking spiritual threats from outside that can slowly trickle into our lives.  These dangers can leach into our lives as we dabble and enjoy the pleasures of the world until we become so identified and familiar with it to the point of enjoyment.  The innocence and entrancement of the experience can cause a debilitating spiritual hypothermia if we are not vigilante.

Child of God, don’t let the cold and dark world bleed its color into the warmth and light of your heart where Christ lives.