Christian Living

It's Okay to Grieve

grief, hope, peace, comfort, death, prayer

I recently lost a friend and colleague, and it seems that many others have lost friends and loved ones this year. It hurts to see a person you care about pass away; your heart may ache and you may wonder why they had to go. Sometimes the grief is overwhelming, possibly even turning to anger: anger at yourself, anger at the departed, anger at the world, or even anger at God. In those moments, one may begin to feel ashamed for their grief or pain. Others may try to bottle it up and move on with life. However, the story of Jesus Christ’s friend, named Lazarus, offers help in these times. This story can be found in the Bible, in the book of John chapter 11. Here we learn that it is good to grieve and that there is hope available to us. Jesus arrived on the scene after Lazarus was dead, but he knew something no one else did: he was going to bring Lazarus back to life! Yet here he was, surrounded by people mourning and wailing and telling him that everything would have been different if he had just arrived sooner—then he could have healed Lazarus before he died. As Jesus sees the pain that sin—humanity’s rebellion against Creator God—and death has caused, even he begins to weep. In all this, do you know what is missing? There is not even a hint of Jesus condemning these people’s grief. Jesus does not condemn grieving; it is good and healthy to take time to mourn your loss.

Still, we need not feel hopeless in our grief. Jesus told Lazarus’ sister, Martha, that he is the resurrection and the life. In other words, he came to win the defeat death by dying in your place. All people have sinned and their relationship with the Most High God has been broken. That broken relationship has killed every person’s soul—there is no more life there—and it opened the door to physical death. The problem? There is nothing any human can do to fix that relationship. But Jesus did. He was both fully God and fully human, and when he died on the cross and three days later rose again, he offered all people eternal life.

[tweetthis remove_hidden_hashtags="true"]Jesus doesn't condemn grieving; it's good & healthy to take time to mourn loss.[/tweetthis]

Now all you have to do is believe in your heart in the name and work of Jesus and make him master of your life. Then, God’s Holy Spirit will come to dwell within you and will bring life to your soul--life now and life for eternity—and one day, Jesus will return and your living soul will receive a new and perfect body that will never deteriorate or pass away. Truly, there is great hope in Jesus, the resurrection and the life!

pastorstephen
pastorstephen

--Pastor Stephen 

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you, so leave your comments below!

If you need to meet with Pastor Stephen, please schedule an appointment here: Make an appointment.

This article first appeared in the Pincher Creek Echo.

Do You Need Some Rest?

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sleeping catIf you regularly feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done, or if the weight of life seems to always have you down, you are not alone. A 2014 survey found that twenty-three percent of Canadians age fifteen and older feel that most days are “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful, and it really is not that difficult to see why. At no other time in history have we had as many conveniences and opportunities available to us, yet those very things that can be so positive also have a negative side. With the convenience of the internet, social media and smartphones comes the expectation for us to always be on and at the ready for work, family, and school related communications and projects. The simple fact is that, for many people, coming home no longer means the work day is done.

Additionally, with an increase in opportunities comes increased busyness as we feel it necessary to be involved in numerous recreational events, in learning new skills, and to have each child in multiple afterschool activities--all while trying to keep up on the plethora of our favourite crime dramas and superhero shows. It is no wonder more and more of us are feeling stressed out! How many of us can regularly be heard saying, “I need a vacation,” or “I just need a break”?

Meanwhile, my God, Jesus Christ, is saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). When your soul is troubled with wondering about the future, how you’ll get ahead, hurts from your past, or what your eternity looks like: Jesus offers you rest. With Jesus, you receive peace. Peace, because your material consumption and the endless pursuit of getting ahead no longer have to be the main things in your life. You can trust that God will provide for your needs as He invites you to take a day each week to slow down, rest, refocus, give thanks and recharge. When you give your life to Jesus, you will find rest; you will find forgiveness; you will find freedom; and you will find hope in an eternity spent in God’s Rest.

If you want to know more about this rest, I would love to talk with you about it further. We want to hear from you...yes, you! Leave your questions and comments in the comment section below and Pastor Stephen will get back to you as soon as possible!

This article, written by Pastor Stephen, appeared first in the Pincher Creek Echo.

How Will You Approach Halloween this Year?

trick or treat For many Christians, October 31st presents a difficult choice. In our Western culture, Halloween clearly has elements that make light of, or even celebrate, the darkness in our world; yet it is also a time for children to dress up as their favourite superheroes or princesses and get candy from their neighbours!

Some Jesus-followers have opted for "Harvest Festivals" at their local church where there are games and candies and dressing up--but without witches, monsters, devils and demons. Some have decided to go out of town to make the choice easier, while others just see Halloween as a fun time and will take part in it with everyone else. Some Christians will celebrate while staying away from satanic or provocative costumes, while others see the 31st as the perfect excuse to "let go" for a day. It's up to each believer in Christ to figure out the Holy Spirit's direction, but let me tell you about an encouraging trend.

For a steadily rising number of Christian families, Halloween is seen as an opportunity. No, not an opportunity to behave out of character, but as an opportunity to share the love and name of Christ Jesus. It makes sense: this is the one day a year where kids and their parents are knocking on your door! Here are two ideas for making Halloween an opportunity to share Jesus:

1. Let People Hang Out

Trick or Treating can get tiring, and here in Alberta it can also be cold. Why not set up some lawn chairs and tables in your front yard and have a camp fire in your portable propane fire-pit? Maybe pull over some heaters or some lights. Provide free coffee, tea and cookies! Just hang out for the evening, invite parents and their kids to rest for a bit, and see where the night takes you.

You may meet a neighbour you've never met before, or make a new friend, or even get to talk to them about your faith!

Some people who have done this have found that one parent will stay behind while the kids go with the other parent to finish getting candy. Why? Because they found a comfortable place to connect with a neighbour! Who knows what relaxing in your front yard could accomplish!

2. Let them know Jesus loves them.

There is power in Jesus' name! When children come to your door to get candy you have a few precious moments to talk to them. Most of us ask some questions in that moment and let them know how cute they are in their Minecraft outfits.

Here's a suggestion for something new to ask: "Do you know who loves you the most?" Now admittedly, middle-aged men may want to phrase this question differently (oh, the world we live in); however, this opens an opportunity! Most of these kids will probably answer "Mom and Dad." To which you could respond: "Yes, but there's someone else who loves you even more, and his name is Jesus."

Maybe those children will know who he is. Maybe they'll think you're creepy and go away. But what if you can get just a few to ask, "Who's Jesus?" You'll respond, "Ask your parents."

You'll have planted the seed in their hearts that Jesus loves them more than anyone can. You will give their parents an opportunity either to talk to them about Jesus, or to wonder who Jesus is. You may find that a few parents get in your face: but that's okay, because you were telling those children the most important thing they could know.

 

Whatever you do on Halloween, please: seek God's wisdom on the matter. Don't do something just because it is what you've always done. Maybe God will show you something other than these two suggestions. Maybe he will direct you to one of them.

This October 31st, will you seek to glorify Jesus in all that you do?

We'd love to hear from you. Leave your comments below, or on our Facebook page!

Joy to Our Community

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lightstock_109924_medium_stephen_What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever given? Do you remember the recipient’s expression as he or she opened it? Do you remember the feeling it gave you to know that you had just brought a little bit of joy to that person? Now, what if I told you there was a way to give a gift that is even more meaningful and that will impact numerous people at once—people who otherwise may not have anything to eat this Christmas? With only a month until December 25th, it seems fitting to encourage you to remember those who are less fortunate this year. After all, we celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus Christ: God’s only Son who came to provide hope for the hopeless and eternal life to all those who would turn from their rebellion and follow Him. What better way to celebrate He who gave Himself to help us than to give a little of what we have to help others?

This year, as our food bank struggles to keep up with the demand placed upon it—especially during this particularly taxing Christmas season—let’s not forget to sacrifice a little of ourselves and donate a cart of groceries to help out. Or, let’s invite that neighbour who lives all alone to join us for our Christmas celebration. This Christmas, let’s spread some joy around our community.

Merry Christmas!

--Pastor Stephen Valcourtpastorstephen

This article was first printed in the Pincher Creek Echo