Have you ever given up something important to you to help someone you love? Perhaps you gave your money or your time; perhaps you gave up comfort or a possession you really loved. It is amazing the lengths that we will go to in order to help a loved one. In fact, a few years ago over 70 000 people were surveyed for the book, The Normal Bar. Survey participants were asked, “Have you given up an important part of yourself to keep your relationship together?” Of those married for 21 years or longer, 49% affirmed ...
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!
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This article first appeared in the Pincher Creek Echo.
If 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.
Everyone has an opinion about everything that is wrong in the world, but few will do anything about it. That is how it seems at times. In my experience speaking with people in our own community, I have found it does not take long before someone begins to lament the problems facing Pincher Creek. Low voter turn-outs, a lack of volunteers and community engagement, at-risk youth, thinly veiled racism, drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, a lack of services and shut-in seniors with no one to visit them: these are just a few of the problems that communities like ours are facing. We know these problems exist—even if we choose to ignore them—but how can we address them?
Most concerned citizens respond to these problems by going to their government and asking for programs and policies to be enacted and funded in the hope that they will solve the problem. Sometimes programs work, but they never work as well as we would like. Yes, programs are easy and they allow us to pass responsibility for our community’s problems onto others, but one need only look around them to see that programs and government funding are not the answer to society’s problems.
Allow me to voice a radical thought: Imagine what Pincher Creek could be if we could just figure out a way to become a community of neighbours. What would Pincher Creek look like if our neighbours were more than those we share a fence with? What kind of place would this be if they were more than the people to whom we politely say, “Hello,” as we walk from our cars to our homes?
Imagine if we knew the names of every person on our block and took the time to talk with them and visit them. Imagine if neighbours invited one another to dine in their homes, or if entire neighbourhoods joined forces to watch out for each other’s children or to work to make their block a better place to live.
My God, Jesus Christ, had something to say about this. He told those who followed Him to love their neighbours as themselves. Those He spoke to marvelled at this and at His response to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” Essentially, Jesus said that our neighbour is everyone we meet and everyone God has placed around us. No matter how good or how awful a person was, Jesus said His followers needed to love them as themselves!
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that Christians—including myself—have often ignored Jesus’ radical command. For that, I apologize, and I commit to make it my goal to love my neighbours. Will you join me in being a true neighbour in your community? Imagine what Pincher Creek could be if we could just figure out a way to become a community of neighbours.
This article appeared first in the Pincher Creek Echo, January 27, 2016. Written by Pastor Stephen Valcourt.
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