Prayer: My Story (Part 2)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Charley’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?
I grew up going to Sunday School, and my earliest memories of prayer are of acronyms to prompt and remind us how/what to pray and making crafts to go along with it - like writing TSP (Thank-You, Sorry, Please) on a teaspoon and wearing ALL the bracelets with the letters WWJD (what would Jesus do), FROG (fully rely on God) and PUSH (pray until something happens) :-)

I still find prompts helpful, as I often find it hard to pray anything when the busy-ness of life makes it hard to create that quiet space to come before God, but I have upgraded from Teaspoons to using other books/devos - my favourite by far is Celtic Daily Prayer - it helps me follow a regular rhythm of prayer in quiet moments carved out for that, but also reminds me not to miss spontaneous opportunities for praise/thanksgiving/requests/anything else that can be lifted up in prayer.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
There’s three answers for this that I wish I could give at the same time because they’re all equal contributors to why I pray - I pray because life doesn’t make sense without it and I need to - in both the praise moments and the struggle moments. I pray because God asks us to communicate with him and he loves it when we come to him. I pray because supporting those around me and being supported by those around me in prayer has been invaluable.

What are you learning about prayer?
It took me a long time to be sure of myself in how I pray, and have confidence that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to pray. I have heard God in the still quiet moments I intentionally create, and I have heard God in the crazy-ness of leading a kids church creative prayer activity - I love that prayer can be and is in all of those different moments, no matter how we pray silently/out loud/by reading scripture/by singing praise or any other way.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
In every area of society we learn from others and the church is no different - our children learn from us. Our friends newly introduced to faith learn from us. To praise alongside friends in celebration, and to cry out alongside friends in desperate places is something that has no comparable alternative in building community and pressing into relationship with God as One. There is power in community, and we are missing out on something if we don’t gather and pray together.

 

Nelson’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?
I don’t remember who introduced me to prayer; it was probably in Sunday School, or private school Kindergarten, or my dad. I remember it being a formulaic thing, more of a chant or incantation that you said before certain activities (like before eating or a long road trip). I think as I got a bit older it expanded to being able to ask for things based on unwanted circumstances - like health for a sick family member. When I became a Christian in my late teenage years, I learned that prayer was more of a conversational awareness of God, that he was a friend you could talk to, and it was about more than just asking for things. Now I view it as a way to process thoughts and feelings with God, bring concerns before him, to repent and reorient my heart, and to acknowledge/praise him and his attributes.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
Largely as a “sounding board” but also largely in order to change the world around me. John Piper paraphrased the passage, “ask and you will receive; you do not receive because you do not ask” in a way that has stuck with me. He said of this verse that it is like God is saying, “if you had only asked me, I would have made the universe different” and that stuck with me.

Do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
Yes, for two reasons. 1. Bringing our prayers to each other to bring before God helps build strong relationships and communities, because those require vulnerability and trust. 2. Scripture seems to imply that if more people are praying for something, God maybe more inclined to answer than if less people were praying for it.

Day 2/21: The Guilt Complex

Welcome here! This blog is an “extra blog” being posted daily between January 13 and February 3 to come alongside the 21 Days of Prayer. We are reading through the book of John with the intention of looking very closely at Jesus to know Him really well and love Him a lot as a result!

January 15, 2019

Good morning GOD, my Father,

Everything about You is about LIFE and when I think about this, it is so remarkable! You are LIFE and I can’t help but receive LIFE when I am with You because it is Your Nature to give it. Everything You made pulses with LIFE and this speaks to me about how good You are. GOD, You create LIFE and Your way is to always point to what is LIFE-giving.

This is on my mind today as I think about You, how You are unflawed. You have no sin, no regret, no shady secrets, and nothing to hide. You are Holy, pure and worthy. There is no failure in You. You are my hero, GOD and I look to You!

Thank you GOD, my Father, for showing me The Way out of sin and darkness.

I didn’t even know how deep my problem was, this sin, but now I see it so clearly. I see how sin drove us apart because sin is anti-LIFE in every way.

Some find sin easy to dismiss. Some actually claim to be “sinless” which I find audaciously arrogant. I know I sin and I feel the weight of this. I have tried to get rid of sin on my own which is actually another sin because in that lie hides the lie that “perhaps I can be like GOD” and embody goodness and maybe even perfection. I remember the day, the actual day, I was told that sin would always be an issue for me; that perfection was impossible. I hated finding that out.

If one cannot be perfect, then at least one can appear to be perfect right? You know me, Lord, not only do I sin but then I add sin to sin by trying to appear that I do not. What a maze of sin! I am like Adam and Eve EXACTLY in the way they hid when You were looking for them. Hiding happens in a lot of different ways for us sinners. Sometimes it is just getting away with something because no one else noticed. Sometimes it is telling a story and omitting that one detail. Sometimes it is more blatant then that and it is just a lie un-pure and simple. And…sometimes the sin is invisible because it is only in my thoughts. It’s a wretched condition!

I am thinking of this as I read John 2 and the verse I landed on was 2:24-25

“…for [Jesus] knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.”

Jesus, you knew people were trying to get away with things but absolutely nothing has been or is hidden from You. I can’t imagine what this is like, to know everything about everyone. All things, every little bit of everything from the womb to the grave. Not one thing hidden. How do You still love us? (John 3:16 is coming…)

I am so embarrassed on the one hand that You see all of me. I am so embarrassed that I have behaved SO badly on SO many occasions whether seen or unseen. I am so embarrassed that I cannot reign myself in to be naturally, and by my own effort, good.

I am so grateful that You have not required this impossible quest. This is the awesome truth about You! When I was ready to hear it, You told me some news straight up. This wasn’t an item for discussion. You identified my condition:

“Teresa, you are MORE SINFUL and flawed than you ever dared to believe…”

Then You told me about how You made a way for me to be right with You. Because of what YOU did on the cross, I could be cleared of the title “sinner” and be a “new creation.” You said,

“Teresa, it is true that you are MORE SINFUL and flawed than you ever dared to believe,” and You added, “Teresa, you are MORE ACCEPTED and MORE LOVED than you ever dared to hope.”*

Your Good News, Your Gospel message, Jesus is that You saw everything about me and You didn’t just suggest a better way to live. You didn’t just give me some good self-help coaching or a shiny disguise to wear. Jesus, You stepped into the mucky ring to SAVE ME. All of my sin and the resulting misery separated me from LIFE. But You Jesus, knowing everything that was in me, fixed the separation between me and GOD. AMAZING, AMAZING!!

When GOD saw my plight, the plight of the world, He “wrote Himself in to our story”* by sending His son Jesus. Jesus, You came to walk with us, talk with us, show us the Father and then You did what we didn’t even ask You to do. You gathered up all our sin, all of my sin upon Yourself, and You killed it through Your death on the cross. And when You rose You invited us to be re-born into a new LIFE. You gave us what we did not naturally have: Your righteousness.

You helped me see this and You invited me to be re-born, re-made, and I said, “yes” to You and this happened.. Though in this present life I still contend with the brokenness of this world and my own, I do not live under a guilt complex. You are walking with me and in me, drawing my heart towards GOD, and constantly showing me the hope for now and the hope for forever; LIFE forever. LIFE!!!!

*** I think what you want me to see something clearly today about how you and I relate: When I meet You, You say who I am in You: You have given me a new title — “My Child” — and I like the sound of this. This makes me COME ALIVE! All You do Jesus, over and over, is give me LIFE. You have clothed me in a new LIFE that I am becoming more comfortable with as time goes on and You are proven right over and over.

Plant this truth deep in my heart Jesus so that I know, know, know this about who I am because of You and what You have done so that I will accept no alternative title and will not listen to any accusation that steals from what You have done for me. You are the LIFE-giver, and I accept LIFE at Your hand.

Is there anyone like You? Not even close.

* Quotes outside of Scripture are by Tim Keller in his book “Center Church”

Day 1/21: Wait Until You See This!

Welcome here! This blog is an “extra blog” being posted daily between January 13 and February 3 to come alongside the 21 Days of Prayer.

Part 1: A little guidance about prayer

Part 2: Journal Entry — “Wait Until You See This!”

PART 1

THE PARTNERSHIP OF THE BIBLE AND PRAYER

Our goal as a community is to not just be a church with prayer, but to be a church of prayer. Praying and GOD’s Word go hand in hand! The more we talk to our Father the more we hunger to know Him and what He is about and how He works, and this drives us to our Bibles! The more we are in the Bible, the more we want to talk to GOD about what He is showing us there, about Himself, ourselves and the world. This drives us to prayer! The two go together.

KNOW JESUS REALLY, REALLY WELL

During these 21 days we are inviting you to walk through the book of John to look at the life of Jesus closely so the conversation you end up having with Him — prayer — flows out of knowing and loving Him so much more! There are a ton of things you could look at in John, but for these 21 days, make a point of just staring at Jesus: what is He like, what does He do, what does He sound like, who does He hang around with, what is important to Him, what do you hear and see?

STUBBORNLY PERSIST!

Reading the Bible and praying isn’t what one would call a “natural” experience; it would be more accurate to call it a “supernatural” experience as His Spirit interacts with ours. Still, the Bible constantly calls us to decide to SEEK God. What does that imply? It implies that GOD wants His kids to put effort in. For most people, it takes a while to understand how Scripture is ALIVE and how prayer is A LIFE-GIVING, TWO-WAY, CONVERSATION! We need to persist in practicing these things before they take on a life of their own! To encourage you in this journey, this blog post will outline some steps you can take and then provide a sample of a journal entry on today’s reading of John 1 (download a guide here).

HOW DO YOU BEGIN TO PRAY? TRY “HELLO” AND…”HELP!”

As we come to our Father we both greet Him and we invite Him to do something in us and for us.

We greet Him and recognize that He is very different from us: He is holy and perfect and…GOD!! This realization moves us to worship Him!

The more we see who He is, the more we know He loves us and is here to help us! So we do what He has told us to do: ask Him for help. Help with what?

  • To hear Him

  • To understand His Word

  • To see what He wants us to know about His heart and will

  • Our personal struggles and temptations, questions and needs

  • To have the courage and conviction to obey Him…and so much more!

When Jesus left to be with His Father (after dying on the cross and being raised to life again) He said He was going to send someone to help us. That “someone” is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity that Scripture describes as the one who guides us, convicts us of sin, counsels us etc. It is a good practice in your “help” part of prayer to recognize that GOD’s Spirit has been given to you, is in you if you have invited Jesus to lead your life, so thank Him for this and be aware that He is with you. Talk to Him as you read and pray, He is like your tutor all the way along!

Need an idea of what this looks like (don’t get hung up finding the exact words, but here is a sample)

PRAYER ASSISTANT: “Father, good morning! You are always with me, that amazes me! You are perfect and powerful and loving and good! These are just some of the things I know about You! I want to sit with You and hear from You. You have given me Your Spirit for this reason and so I invite You, Holy Spirit to speak to me, help me to hear You! I do need Your help GOD. As I read Your Word, help me not to get frustrated or distracted and especially help me to lean in. Show me what You want me to see today!….”

You might just want to be quiet for a bit and see if GOD wants to say something back to you even now…it helps to write it down so you can think on what you heard and discern if that was GOD. We will talk more about that on our first Wednesday Prayer Experience and I will write about it as well.

FOCUS ON GOD THROUGH HIS WORD (GET YOUR BIBLE, JOURNAL AND PEN)

You might not always read your Bible when you have a conversation with your Heavenly Father, but certainly at some point in the day, for as many days as you can, it is THE THING that will deepen your relationship with GOD and powerfully guide your life, your growth spiritually, and your conversations with Him. So, for the purposes of this blog, I am going to assume that your “next thing” will be opening up His Word.

As you read passages from the reading guide (today John 1) really focus in on Jesus. There’s lots happening in every chapter — but just hunt for everything you see, feel and learn about Jesus. Write in your Bible, use your pen, use a highlighter, create your own symbols (for example, I put a green leaf in my Bible wherever I find a verse that really fills me with hope about the future!)

  • What do you notice about Jesus in this chapter? (you don't have to write about everything, just something that stands out).

  • What does this tell you about Him?

  • How does this draw you to Him personally?

  • How does this affect your relationship with Him?

Using your journal (journalling is a MUST, please just trust us on this), spend some time thinking about what you have read and what it means for you. You can follow this basic guide to help you…

S - write down the verse that grabbed you

O - write down what the verse is about, what your understanding of it is

A - now, do the very important work of asking the Spirit how this applies to you, listen and write. This is the heart work!!

P - pray about what has been shown to you and continue in prayer over what the Lord is prompting you about, and for your prayer requests and struggles.

Your journal may be very simple, very list-like, it may take only a page some days. Other days, especially as you become familiar with this, you might go on and on!! Focus on being honest, focus on really seeking the Lord! It is not about your writing skills, it is about a relationship you are building with Jesus!

PART 2

SAMPLE JOURNAL ENTRY (NOTICE THAT THIS WHOLE JOURNAL ENTRY IS WRITTEN AS A PRAYER — you don’t have to do this, but it is a great way to remind you that you are having a conversation with GOD)

January 14, 2019

John 1

“Wait Until You See This”

 Good morning Jesus. Today I am reading about You in John 1. I pray You would sit with me and introduce Yourself to me and give me what You want for me today. You were sent by the Father so that I could KNOW GOD as much as possible in this life and I am convinced if I know You well, some things will just become obvious!

 I have friendships where I know people well: I know who they are, what they are capable of, what they like to do. If I know people like this, can I expect the same in our relationship? You say, “Yes!” and I hear You calling me to lean in closer to know you. So, that is my goal for the next 21 days: to look very closely at You. I already know what will happen, Your love will come alive in me!

 First of all, I just want to start by saying thanks. Thank you that You are not the one who hides. I hide. You are not the one who holds back. I hold back. You have only ever offered Yourself to me. Jesus, it is only I who creates distance. Thank you that You are the GOD who pursues and does not give up.

 It is easy to look at John 1 and say, “There is so much here!” so please sit with me and tell me about Yourself, show me the one thing You want me to notice this morning. As I sit and read and I am mindful of your Spirit in me – this is not like reading just any book. Your Word is alive! This chapter will speak to me one way today and another way a year from now. I am listening and there is no need to be overwhelmed. As much as I want to understand, You want to speak to me!

 It is interesting, the verse that stood out to me today. I was assuming what I would end up writing about but then verse 50 had an undeniable pull:

 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”

 What does this say about GOD? This actually makes me smile. I am thinking of some simple things I throw together when I cook that impress Mike. Some sandwich that took me 5 minutes to make and he is enthralled. In my mind I think, “Did that impress you? Well, check this out…” and I take an hour to put together something gourmet that is ten times better.

 What is it about You Jesus, that You LOVE doing miraculous things?

 Nathanael is impressed You were able to do something unusual. I can see You in this Scripture Jesus. I see You standing there with him and I am positive You kind of laugh to Yourself and have so much going through Your mind in that moment of what You know that we don’t. You look Nathanael in the eye then,

 “You are impressed with that…?”

 And then You say words to Nathanael that I am sure he could not even process, “I tell you the truth…” I have to stop. This line lands somewhere soft in me today. Jesus, You know my heart is searching for true words, true assurances. I am desperate for Words that speak into my situation. Yes, tell me the Truth louder than everything! Be louder than the lies that poke at me…

 You say to Nathanael, “…you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

 And I am sure Nathanael had no idea what You meant.  He understood the figs, but this was beyond understanding and is what is “gourmet.” You could have stopped at the figs, but You gave more because YOU ARE MORE. You told him more about Yourself and about life ahead because this is what You do for us – little us. You are GOD and You are not limited by the present and so neither are we, because we are with You. You see all the way through and this is what I must lock into my knowledge bank about You.

 ****** This is what You are saying to me today: “If You really knew me, You would know I see where You are, I am fully aware. I also see way ahead of You, I see the whole journey, so come alive with the confidence you gain by relying on My Power to know and see all! Let me show you marvellous things You do not understand. Open your eyes and ears. ”

 Thank you for speaking to me about this, Jesus. For wanting me to know this about You. I am planting Your Words in my heart. When I come and talk with You, I know You will show me where I am and where we are going.

 Teresa

 P.S. Dear Reader: “In the beginning was the Word…” -- Sometimes we can get tripped up on things that leave us asking, “Well what does THAT mean? Why is the Bible so complicated?” Let’s be reminded that GOD’s Word is here to be read in the simplest way and in the deepest way, for both the child and the scholar. Some words come quickly to us, and some require us to dig in and spend time with and to consider the bigger picture of the story to understand. The way John 1 begins in verse 1 with this idea of the “Word” requires a look into the whole of Scripture to understand the truth and power of what John is writing. Here is an article to get you started by John Piper. When you bump into a “harder thing” there are amazing resources to help guide you along when you have the time to study it with a little more effort.

Prayer: My Story (Part 1)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Randy’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer?
In all honesty, I grew up with prayer. As a family, we said our mealtime and bedtime prayers every day. We went to Church and Sunday School every Sunday. I could probably count on one hand, the number of times we missed attending. Mine was a traditional, liturgical religious background and in retrospect, somewhat mechanical in nature. I remember my mom and grandmother especially, praying for me as I went through many surgeries, throughout my life as a result of the polio I contracted at age three. I was thankful I could do things that the medical professionals never thought I could, such as walk without aids. By the time I was eighteen, I had read through the complete Bible twice. However, my prayer life really didn't change until Pastor Rick, at our home church in Dawson Creek explained the Gospel message for the first time. I was thirty-two years old then, but I learned that Christ wanted a relationship and not just a want or need list. Although I had thanked Him often, I realized that the focus of my prayers, had been pretty much self-centered. It was then, that my prayer life changed.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
As new Christians, we are often told that Jesus has now become our best friend. It follows that, as a new best friend, I would want to spend a lot of time with Him. Best friends are open with one another and share the most intimate details of their lives with each other. I can say Jesus is my best friend because, He, more than anyone, understands me completely. My biggest difficulty is taking the focus off me and placing it in Him. At times, I struggle with listening to Him, even though I know He cares about me more than anyone. He wants what is best for me always, even while I am resisting. I pray because I know, though human relationships will fail me at times, He will never fail me or leave me. He always forgives, never holds a grudge and is patiently waiting, while I go through self-inflicted trials and finally realize that He had the answer all along. Why wouldn't I wholeheartedly want to communicate and spend more time with my best friend.

What are you learning about prayer?
I am learning that the most difficult for me is to listen and then patiently await His answer. Because I often want to barrel ahead (patience is not one of my virtues), I sometimes miss opportunities to do His will and add stress to my situation needlessly. Please pray, that I when I pray, I will quiet my heart, allow God to inform me and give Him a chance to respond. As noted earlier, God knows all my shortcomings, but continues to be faithful. Prayer also makes my day run better, as through it, I am preparing for what's ahead.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
Probably the easiest answer here is that I have a support system in place. I am never alone, unless I choose to be. I receive encouragement, counsel and understanding from those that are close to me. I can identify with some of the struggles other brothers and sisters deal with and they often can identify with mine. Willing help is only a phone call away when necessary. We are family, anchored in Christ, so we do what family does. We love, support and encourage each other. Coming together and praying edifies and unites us. We pray communally to "our" Father as we share together in His blessings.

COME ALIVE

Series Description

There is a big difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone personally. It is what makes a relationship COME ALIVE. The same holds true for God. There is a big difference between knowing about God and knowing God personally. This is what makes us COME ALIVE.

About The Artwork

Coming alive in Christ, it makes a spirit thirsty for the fullest life, life coloured by joy and pain, it is being enamoured with the mystery of God, it is believing in and praying for the most impossible things, it is being entirely weak in the entirely strong power of God. For this, a visual of explosive and charged colour was created; employing surreal pieces to signify how God’s pictures are so beyond what we can picture for ourselves.


Turn Down The Noise

January 13, 2019

Why do you need to hear God’s voice? -So Christ can function as your Lord and King! -So you can know God as Father. -So Jesus can be your LIFE! DON'T FORGET: The voice you listen to the most will determine the direction of your life.

Small Group Questions

Turn Down The Noise Homework


Ears To Hear

January 6, 2019

Does God Still Speak Today? How would your life change if you could consistently and clearly hear God speak? Many people struggle with hearing God's voice but Jesus set the bar pretty low so that anyone can hear Him speak.


God's Here!

GOD’S HERE!

Our Christmas Eve Celebration

What if I told you that God was over the top excited when the announcement was made that Jesus was going to be born: ...for to YOU has been born a Saviour... God was so excited because it means something important about LIFE as we know it is about to change. This is Christmas!

About The Artwork

God is here and it is great news! Big news! The artwork for this message is meant to look like news headlines; bold and super important. The look is intentionally black and white because this good news is clear and concise; Jesus was born, God sent us a friend and saviour! God is love and God loves you and thats a message for the young and old to celebrate!

All Together Now

This is a scene from December 23., the last Sunday before Christmas. There were over 200 balloons to blow up and at the end of the service, a bunch of SunRidgers grabbed handfuls of balloons and blew them up. Many hands make light work.

I love how SunRidgers respond to things like this. In no time at all the balloons were blown up and with a casual ask, more SunRidgers showed up in the afternoon to cut and tie ribbons on them all, hang them (Including some SunRidge Kids, thank you Corban, Elsie and TJ!) and finish out tasks of the Christmas Eve decor.

SunRidgers come together for so many practical projects: the Lunch Program, the Community Christmas Dinner, the GoofBall, and Love West Kelowna to name a few. On Sundays, no one asks anyone to take all the chairs down; the service ends and we all just do it. Many times I see jobs getting done that are “unassigned” and I think this is so lovely to see.

There is another thing that Jesus loves: when HIs people pray. Leonard Ravenhill said, “the true Church lives and moves and has its being in prayer.” Yet what is it about prayer that gets a nervous reaction? Prayer should be the MOST natural thing for us, the thing we ought to be incredibly relieved to have, and yet there is this struggle.

F.B. Meyer said, “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but un-offered prayer.” Our Father waits for us because His deal with us kids is that we come to Him and ask. Why wouldn’t we?

We keep saying, “Let’s be a church OF prayer.” Couldn’t we be? Couldn’t we be as engaged with prayer as all-together as we are blowing up balloons, serving meals and taking down chairs?

In 2019 let’s take a personal inventory, stare at our hangups and conquer them once and for all. Look around you: we are a family, we love each other, we are growing together, we can do this! Who knows what awaits if we will only seek the Lord!

21 Days of Prayer is an opportunity to COME ALIVE through the way we talk with our living GOD.

“Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” - Tim Keller

If you have not signed up for the 21 Days of Prayer Emails you can link up here. When you arrive on the 21 Days of Prayer Webpage you can also sign up for Wednesday dinners and find resources there as well.

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 









The Things We Do (The Last One To Leave. Part 6)

Someone said something to me recently that I thought was SO beautiful and so true about servanthood that I decided to end my little “The Things We Do” series with what they brought to my attention. We were talking about serving in the church (the joy and the struggle of it — both are real), especially when you find yourself staying to the very end of an event or gathering. This person said, “What many people don’t understand is how often the best things happen right at the end when you are the last ones to leave.”

Did this ever trigger memories in me from the last 21 years at SunRidge!

How many times have I been a part of the small group of people who have made it to the very end of all the tidying up after an event and the best conversations happen right then? Or how many times has the funniest thing happened when someone among the few tired stragglers says or does something hilarious and it becomes legend? Or, when we have been left with the last of our comrades, how many times has someone said, “Let’s meet up somewhere for a drink.”

How many times have the “last people” leaned on a counter and talked another hour in the semi-dark? How many times have a few people recapped the whole evening and felt the warmth of a job well done?

It’s not always that way. Sometimes you are the only one left to lock up and you do it and you turn off the lights and you walk out to an empty parking lot. Sometimes everyone has scattered, or everyone has gathered somewhere that you are unaware of. It’s not like staying to the end and being “that guy” always feels amazing. Servanthood does not always feel amazing, in fact sometimes it is just very quiet.

Still, there are the golden moments that some of you have stayed to see when someone turns the music up loud and dances with the mop; I wouldn’t trade seeing that for the world.

I have not always been the one to stay to the end, but I understand it.

Often in the things we do, the best things happen when you are the last one to leave.

pjimage.jpg
Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

The Things We Do (With Our Gifts. Part 5)

The Canadian Blood Service has a slogan, “It’s In You To Give” and, had it not already been taken, I think that would be an excellent slogan for every Christ follower. It is in you to give because our God has generously given everyone a unique path, a unique gift, and a unique calling!

Sometimes we don’t give this enough consideration. Sometimes we don’t ask — “what is my path, my gift, my calling?” (even if that calling is just about today’s calling). Sometimes we don’t think what we can do is usable anywhere else, but I assure you…it is. It is because God has given everyone SOMETHING to use to do the things He wants done.

I was thinking about this recently when I was at the Lunch Program. My job that day was to transfer cartloads of food from one pantry to another. It helps to have “like items” all in one spot, so we put all the home-made canning in one place:

lunch1.jpg

Isn’t this beautiful to look at? I haven’t canned a single thing in my whole life, but I stood back and looked at this display and appreciated the work behind all of this; the love behind all of this. So you have the skills to can fruits and vegetables; what good is that gift? I submit this photo for your consideration. How beautiful are the hands that made these?

And then there are practical gifts. My mom used to say, “I don’t know what my gifts are” but she could take the most cluttered room, the most disgustingly dirty corner, the most tedious of tasks and stick with it until all was put in order. That’s a gift. Here is another example. Here is Kathy A. and all her “neat-genes” making this storage room fantastic (I don’t know how Mike got in the photo):

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That’s how God works. Some gifts sound beautiful, some gifts look beautiful, some use math, some taste amazing, some use a hammer, and some involve a pen. Some gifts teach us, some touch us, some change our surroundings or our mind. Some gifts call us to attention, some heal, some encourage, some lift us up before God. Some gifts renew our faith, some preach the Gospel in public, some have a way of reaching the ignored and unseen.

Some gifts are creative and improvising. Some can make something out of odd parts — take Nancy B. for example. Nancy B. runs the lunch program. She can take the most random of ingredients and turn them into something delicious and warm for those who need something delicious and warm in our community. Case in point:

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I know you can’t smell the photo, but that beef in that rich broth, those tender potatoes and that crunchy salad along with that hot bread putting with ice cream melting all over it, filled the whole dining room with the delicious tastes of “home.”

Using our gifts is a thing we do, because they were given to us by our heavenly Father to be used. What is your gift?

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen

 

The Things We Do (With the Stuff We Have. Part 4)

In Part 1, 2, 3 of this little blog series we have been talking about the “things we do” not because we have to, but because we want to, as an expression of thankfulness for all God has done for us. Today, just a short note about stuff. It is a good season to talk about stuff, isn’t it? So for today I just want to highlight the stuff SunRidge has.

I don’t think many people would drive by our campus and say, “Wow, look at what you have. Your building is an architectural wonder!” The fact is, we have a barn for a building (used to be a tourist attraction called Butterfly World) with open rafters, a cement floor, and pretty simple furnishings. But this is really beside the point. We are so grateful for this campus. Any time something is improved on this old building, its a BIG improvement! And anything we add to our inventory of “stuff we can use for ministry” becomes WELL USED.

The thing is, whatever we have, a lot or a little, it is meant to be stewarded and used. We are borrowing everything from God, and He wants His stuff to express love and care to others. This brings Him joy and reflects His character to the watching world.

Recently our friends down at the Westbank United Church were undergoing a kitchen renovation. They lead a wonderful ministry downtown for those who are in tough situations — providing a daily lunch. We have been fortunate to be able to partner with them in this endeavour. The renovation which happened in October meant the kitchen was out of use…what was to be done?

We happen to own a large BBQ/Grill and so our guys met their guys and hauled over what we had for them to use.

Our BBQ on the job at the United Church!

Our BBQ on the job at the United Church!

It’s just a BBQ. It’s just a small thing. But these are the kinds of things that sometimes save the day; or at least brighten the day when it fills a need. This BBQ could have just sat in our shed all season, but instead it was used, as it should be used to do the thing we want to do: serve others in the name of Jesus.

Here’s another thing. A few years ago we were able to finally renovate our own kitchen at SunRidge. It went from a tiny inadequate staff-room to a bright, efficient, functional commercial kitchen! This was one of those HUGE IMPROVEMENTS we are still all appreciating. Not only does this kitchen serve our Out of School Care program (reaching out to 3 schools in our area), our monthly soup Sundays which serve to create community, our Community Christmas Dinner which serves a wonderful Christmas dinner to all kinds of people in our wider community…it is also a practical place for people to meet, to cook and wrap up meals for those in need!

Recently Jon & Steph B’s small group used the kitchen to do just that! They made meals for a couple with a new baby and soup for a young lady who just had surgery.

When we “do things” for others we use what we have been given and go from there. What has God given you? It doesn’t matter if it is little (think of the boy with loaves and fishes) or much (think of Zacchaeus) God has given us time, treasure and talent. The question is, how will we use those things to love others the way God has loved us?

May this always be the “thing we do,” SunRidge, not stockpile our stuff but use it for God’s glory to build up what is broken, bring healing to what is wounded, encourage those who are downcast, welcome in those who need a family, serve those Jesus is putting on our path.

Teresa Klassen

Teresa Klassen