Prayers & Readings

July 6, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 24
“Is My God too Small / Is My God too Distant?”

Reflection: Having the Right View of God
This past Sunday Pastor Callum continued the sermon series to help us address false images. We continue to tackle the false views of God this week. The Bible is the best source to help us establish the right view of God. Therefore, rather than tell you my view of God or what you should think about God, I am instead providing some Scriptures for reflection.
These Scriptures help us answer two key questions: (1) Is my God too small? (2) Is my God too distant? As you read each Scripture, I encourage you to write down the words that describe God.

Scriptures:
Psalm 145

1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Isaiah 55:6-9

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 147:2-5

2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.

James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

Jer 29:11-14: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

Meditation Upon Our Great and Loving God

Using your list of God’s attributes and actions, spend some time reflecting on how big and close He is in your life. Praise Him, thank Him, and share your heart with Him. May He grant you true glimpses of Himself!

Prayer:
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent
is Your name in all the earth.
I worship You, with all the angels and saints I adore You.
I Acknowledge You to be my Creator and my God.

I render You the homage of my being and my life.
I am not my own, but I am Yours,
by creation and redemption I am Yours.
I will devote myself to Your divine service this day and forever.

O grant me grace for this dear Lord. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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June 30, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 23
“”What Comes to My Mind When I Think About God?”

Reflection:
In this past Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Callum talked about the importance of forsaking our false image of God. That reminded me of A.W. Tozer’s words in The Knowledge of the Holy: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. … Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
Two other quotes from A.W. Tozer are also worth pondering: “Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God.” And “as God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.”
So, the question to ponder today and every day is: “What comes to your mind when you think about God?” When the words “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” etc. come to your mind, what do you think? Are you humbled, amazed, awed, and enthralled by his power, glory, creativity, beauty, and might? Or, are you bored and unmoved altogether? About one millionth of a second after we die, we will become a million times clearer about who God is. But, we dare not wait until then to begin comprehending the God we serve.
There are several ways to improve our vision and understanding of God. First and foremost, the Bible is the surest source for us to learn about God. From Genesis to Revelation He reveals His power and love. As you read the Word of God, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Second, God reveals Himself through His creation. Walking on the beach, watching a beautiful sunset, looking at animals or flowers, or gazing on a baby – they all remind us of God’s endless power and creativity.
Third, hanging around or reading about mature Christians can also increase our view of God. His people reflect Him. I love to be around mature, wise saints! They teach me how to see Jesus in fresh ways. I also love to read biographies of faithful men and women. The Bible includes many biographical sketches of holy men and women, but there are also many biographies of men and women in history available. My life has been enriched by the biblical stories of David, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth, Mary, Peter, Paul, and many more. They were flawed men and women – just like you and me – but God used them to do great things. I’ve also been blessed beyond description by the biographies or autobiographies of people like C.S. Lewis, Wilber Wilberforce, Ravi Zacharias, Mother Teresa, Fanny Crosby, Brother Andrew, Billy Graham, and Martin Luther.
A few years back I started a practice that helps me focus on the Lord. I’m sharing this because I thought it might help you too. During my prayer time each day, as I spend time praising the Lord, I try to identify 3 or 4 things about Him. It is often based on my Bible study for the day or something God has done in my life personally, but it is also based on whatever He convicts me to think about. It may be an attribute (such as, loving, kind, powerful) or it may be an act (such as, sending Jesus, creating the universe, protecting my family). I try to identify different things each day and spend time praising the Lord and thanking Him. I find that this time helps me to get the focus off of myself and onto Him. It also increases my understanding and awe of Him.
I pray that each of you reading this will join with me in committing ourselves to seeking the Lord with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength – EVERY day that He gives us breath!

Personal Action:
The following actions are suggested to help you further reflect on and apply today’s devotional thoughts.

1.         Reread the A.W. Tozer quotes above. Then spend some time pondering this question: “What comes to my mind when I think about God?”
2.         Read the following Scriptures and reflect on what they reveal to you about God: Genesis 1:1; Psalm 68:19-20; 84:11-12; 116:5; Micah 7:18-19; Matthew 6:26; John 3:16, 4:24; Revelation 21:3.
3.         Spend some time praising and worshiping the Lord for who He is and what He has done and continues to do.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father and My Savior Jesus,
We are in awe of You! You are loving, kind, compassionate, and merciful. You sent Jesus to save us and Your Spirit to guide and guard us.
You are also mighty, powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, and infinite. There is no one like You! We praise You with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.
We commit ourselves to knowing You more each and every day! Remove obstacles and barriers and false images that keep us from truly knowing You.

In the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names, we pray! Amen.
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June 22, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 22
“The Blessing”

Introduction:
For our pastoral epistle this week I am doing something completely different, something that should allow us to open our hearts before God and receive his blessing.

At the end of each service during the COVID shutdown I have been pronouncing a blessing over our listeners. This is based on the command of the Lord to Moses in Numbers 6:22-27:
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you,
May the Lord turn His face toward you, and grant you peace. Amen!
Throughout church history these blessings have been called benedictions, which literally means to speak (dicta) good (bene, like benefit) over someone. I have been primarily using the benediction above but have also adapted others from the book of Psalms. But I speak these benedictions over you each Sunday, because, as your pastor, I want to speak God’s blessing upon your hearts and souls.

The Lord gave a special gift to the church in preparation for this shutdown and the riots, when on the evening of Feb 27, 2020, he inspired Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Steven Furtick and Chris Brown of Elevation Worship to write an incredible blessing upon the church, based entirely on blessings in scripture. It was first performed live on Mar 1, 2020, in a service in North Carolina, and that video was released on Mar 6. Since then it has been recorded by countless people and has become a powerful way for us to receive from God during this difficult time.

I think as a church body we need to open ourselves up to God’s ministry to us through this gift from him, so I am going to ask you to do something you may have never done before, to open up your heart and let God minister to you through this song.

Instructions:
1. Print off the lyrics of the song below or have them before you on your computer screen.
2. Below you will see various versions of this song. Choose one version. I would recommend version A or D for our English speakers and version F for our Arabic speakers.
3. Choose a time and a place when you know you will not be disturbed. Shut off the ringer on your phone and get ready.
4. Decide if you want to do this alone or with your partner, friend, family or small group. Only do it with others if you know they will be comfortable with it and will open their hearts up to God. Do not coerce anyone to join you who is uncomfortable with this.
5. Have a prayer of ‘welcoming of God’ into this worship time. You could perhaps pray the words of the chorus we often sing: “Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, your glory Lord is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence Lord, Holy Spirit you are welcome here, and we open our hearts to receive your blessing.”
6. Then listen to the song in prayerful worship, with your heart open to receiving God’s blessing. Sing along if you want to but the most important part is just to receive. Kari Jobe said in introducing this song that, “The heart of the Father is over us as his kids…. Receive the blessing from God himself over you this day.” And that is mostly what we want to do, just receive God’s blessing.
7. The song is very repetitive. This is intentional, because it gives us time to really open our hearts up to receive from God. So each time a line is repeated just sing and receive it deeper and deeper.

Seven Versions on You Tube:
*A – The Original version live on Mar 6, 2020, just before the shutdown (12:10)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4
B – The Original version live on Mar 6, 2020, without the introduction or band but with the lyrics (11:10) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ55mDL7dA0
C – The Original version studio, released to the radio on May 1, 2020 (4:34) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKd0B2YhHpk
*D – Socially Distanced Symphonic Version – Passion City Church, Mother’s Day, 2020

E – The Canadian Version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSuwlEaQi54
*F – The Arabic Version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy0v69p5Jik
G – The Hebrew Version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzqrWae5lK4

There are many more versions of this song that can be easily searched by you. Those marked with an * are the ones I would most highly recommended you use in your worship time.

Lyrics:
The Lord bless you, and keep you,
Make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
The Lord turn His face toward you,
And give you peace [Numbers 6:24-26].

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen.

May His favor be upon you, [Psalms 90:17]
And a thousand generations. [Deuteronomy 7:9]
Your family and your children,
And their children, and their children [Ps 103:17-18; 128:4-6].

May His presence go before you, [Exodus 13:21-22]
And behind you, and beside you. [Ps 125:1-2]
All around you, and within you, [Romans 8:9-11; II Timothy 1:14]
He is with you, He is with you. [Joshua 1:9; Psalm 118:6-7; Matthew 1:21-23]

In the morning, in the evening, [Ps 5:3, 55:16-17]
In your coming, and your going, [Ps 121:8]
In your weeping, and rejoicing, [Ps 126:5-6]
He is for you, He is for you. [Psalm 56:9; Romans 8:31]

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen. [Rev 20:20]

I have included many of the scriptures that are alluded to in this song. I would recommend meditating upon them after you listen to the song.

May God richly bless you and fill you as you come before him with this song.
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June 16, 2020- PASTORAL EPISTLE # 21
Life-Changing Prayer #6: “Here I am! Send me”
Isaiah 6:8

Introduction to Prayer Guide
This is the last entry in Leanna’s six week prayer guide. Set aside time each week to reflect on her thoughts and pray these prayers.
Pastor Callum

Reflection on Prayer # 6: “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8)It was during a missions’ event at Ozark Christian College (OCC) that Isaiah 6:1-8 first penetrated my heart and began to impact my life. The highlight of the encounter between the prophet Isaiah and the Lord is recorded in verse 8: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’” This text, and Matthew 28:18-20, are key Scriptures for our mission as servants of Jesus. However, there’s more to Isaiah’s prayer than becoming a missionary. With his words, “Here I am! Send me,” Isaiah declares complete availability to God. He declares a willingness to be used by the Lord. He declares submission to God’s will and a willingness to obey God’s direction – no matter what.

Of the six life-changing prayers in this series, I find this one to be the most challenging. That’s why I saved it for last. The six prayers are inter-related, but this one is like the “grand finale.” With this prayer we declare total availability to God. This prayer indicates our willingness to serve and help the Lord in His work, rather than just asking Him to help us. In January 1961, in his inaugural address, John F. Kennedy stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” I think that captures the essence of Isaiah’s prayer. We might say, “Ask not what God can do for you – ask what you can do for God.” A few years ago, I read Mark Batterson’s book “All In.” In it, he writes about consecrating ourselves for the Lord’s work. He describes consecration as “going all in and all out for the All in All.” I think that’s what Isaiah means with his words, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah declares complete consecration for the Lord’s work – to being all in and going all out for the All in All.

I first prayed Isaiah’s prayer during that missions’ event at OCC, and I continue to pray it regularly: “Here I am! Send me.” God has prompted me to do many things as a result – too many to record here. He’s prompted me to go across the room to comfort someone I don’t know, to pick up to the phone to call someone. He laid on my heart, to go into ministry, to pursue a PhD in biblical studies, to move to PEI, and so much more. I wish I could say that I have always said “Yes” on the first prompting. Sometimes it has taken multiple promptings. And, a few times, I’ve even rationalized my way out of obedience. These disobediences have been some of the greatest regrets of my life. However, as I grow in relationship with the Lord, I am learning to listen and obey – even when I don’t understand all the details. Most of the time I feel totally unqualified for God’s calling, but through experience I’ve learned that God doesn’t necessarily call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. When we rely completely on Him, He uses us despite our weaknesses and inabilities.

When we pray, “Here I am! Send me,” we take the focus off of ourselves and what we want, and we put the focus on the Lord and what He wants. We declare ourselves willing to be used by the Lord – even when we don’t understand why. I encourage you to fully submit to the Lord and to being used by Him – to pray, “Here I am! Send me.”

Personal Action:
The following actions are suggested to help you further reflect on and apply today’s devotional thoughts.

1. Has God ever prompted you to do something that was beyond your comfort zone? How did you respond? What were the results?

2. Read Isaiah 6:1-8 and Esther 4:1-17. How do Isaiah and Esther’s whole-hearted devotion to the Lord bless and challenge you?

3. At this moment in your life, how open and available are you to God’s promptings? Based on your answer spend some time praying for God to guide your heart. If you are not very open to Him, pray for Him to rid you of whatever separates you from relationship with Him. If you are open, pray for God to guide you in His will. When you feel ready, pray Isaiah’s words, “Here I am! Send me.”

4. As we wrap up this 6-week focus on life-changing prayers, please review these six prayers and make a commitment to integrate them into your prayer life as God prompts you.

#1 – Search me – Psalm 139:23-24
#2 – Thy will be done – Matthew 6:10
#3 – Speak, for your servant is listening – 1 Samuel 3:10
#4 – Let my heart be broken – Matthew 25:31-46
#5 – Heal our land – 2 Chronicles 7:14
#6 – Here I am! Send me. – Isaiah 6:8

Prayer:
Father,
What a privilege it is to be Your children and to have the opportunity to serve You. We pray, Lord, that you reveal anything in our lives that keep us from intimate relationship with You. We confess our sins and seek Your forgiveness and turn away from our sinful ways. Lord, we are Your servants and we desire to be used by You. We are all in and will go all out for You, the All in All.
As we seek first Your kingdom and as we seek You, the King of kings and Lord of lords, we submit ourselves to You and pledge obedience to the promptings of Your Spirit. Use us, Lord, to serve others and Your kingdom. Use us in whatever way You think is best. He we are, Lord. Send us! To You be all glory, honor, and praise! In Jesus Name we pray. Amen

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June 9/2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 20
Life-Changing Prayer #5: “Heal Our Land”
II Chronicles 7:14

Introduction to Prayer Guide

This is the fifth entry in Leanna’s six week prayer guide. This one was not in the original plan but has come about because of the recent horrific events in her country. We encourage you to set aside time each week to reflect on her thoughts and pray these prayers.
Pastor Callum

Reflection on Prayer # 5: “Heal Our Land”
I wrote last week’s devotional thought on “break my heart” before the fires of racial hatred again began to blaze in my country. As I reflected on and prayed about the divisions in America, that have continued for decades, I found myself heartbroken and on my knees in the middle of a gravel road in rural Kansas.

Because of the times that face us, I am inserting another life-changing prayer before the final one next week. This prayer is based on II Chronicles 7:14 where the Lord spoke the following words to Solomon: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Christians have prayed these words for centuries, and I cannot imagine how bad things might be if they had not. However, it is our turn to pray these words and I think we need to be praying them like never before! Oftentimes, we just pray, “Heal our land.” However, based on II Chron 7:14 there are three steps that we, as the children of God, need to do as we pray for healing. (Note: These steps are not necessarily sequential but are more simultaneous.)

Step 1: As the people of God, we must humble ourselves. This is to empty ourselves of selfish desires and ways before the Lord and to acknowledge His greatness and power. It is to acknowledge our utter helplessness and hopelessness without God.

Step 2: We must pray and seek God’s face. This includes praying for our countries, governments, churches, leaders, etc. and for healing. For the most part, we know more about praying than seeking God’s face, however, the two go together. To seek God’s face is to seek His presence. I never cease to be amazed at what a privilege it is to be in God presence. Since God cannot dwell with sin, to be in His presence includes confessing and repenting of our personal sins. It also involves humbling ourselves (back to step 1). I once heard it said that only dead men (and women) can be in the presence of God. Seeking God’s face involves dying to ourselves, so we can focus on Him. In the Gospels these words of Jesus are recorded: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24; see also Mt 16:24-25; Mk 8:34). Luke’s account emphasizes the daily need to die to ourselves. In Romans 12:1 Paul writes that we are to present ourselves as a “living sacrifice.” However, since living things tend to move off the altar, we need to daily commit to self-denial.

Step 3: We are to turn from our wicked ways. As the people of God, we must repent. This involves confessing and turning from our sins – personally and collectively. Collective repentance includes confessing sins that we may not have personally committed but that impact the church body and our community, country, world, etc, as a whole. Daniel’s prayer in Dan 9:3-19 is a perfect example of this kind of praying. Daniel starts his prayer with these words, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.” He continues with the details of their sin. As I found myself kneeling in the middle of the gravel road yesterday, Daniel’s example was front and center.

As we carry out our part (humbling ourselves, praying, seeking God’s face, and repenting), God will do His part. He hears. He forgives. He heals. The healing takes time. The timing is out of our hands. We are responsible for Steps 1-3. God will take care of His part in His time.

I encourage you, brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray like never before for the healing of our land – especially regarding racial divide and hatred.

Personal Action:
The following actions are suggested to help you further reflect on and apply today’s devotional thoughts.

1. What areas of healing need to occur in your “land” (for example, family, church, community, country, world)? Write them down.

2. Read Daniel 9:3-19. Spend some time praying for healing, using Steps 1-3 and Daniel’s example as a guide.

Prayer:
Father,
We humble ourselves before You and admit that we are sinful and so desperately in need of Your forgiveness and healing. We pray, Lord, for North America. We pray for healing from deep hatred and divisions. We confess our role in not loving others as we should. Forgive us for harboring bitterness, prejudice, and partiality in our hearts. Forgive us for not loving as You do. Forgive us for being self-absorbed and deaf to the needs of others. Continue to show us how to pray and to change.
Lord, heal our land. Work through Your church body across this globe. What a privilege it is to be Your children. Help us to behave as Your children and to be agents of healing! Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for hearing our prayers. Thank You for forgiving our sins. Thank You for the healing you will provide.
In Jesus Name we pray. Amen!
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June 1, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 19

Life-Changing Prayer # 4: “Let My Heart Be Broken”
Matthew 25:31-46
Introduction to Prayer Guide 

This is the fourth entry in Leanna’s five week prayer guide. Leanna warns us that: “Many of these prayers are very difficult. As we throw ourselves on the potter’s wheel as lumps of clay, and allow the Potter to mold us, it is often quite painful. However, these five prayers have repeatedly changed my life. If you too desire to grow closer to the Lord, these tried and true prayers are effective.” We encourage you to set aside time each week to reflect on her thoughts and pray these prayers.
Pastor Callum

Reflection on Prayer # 4: “Let My Heart Be Broken”
I was a junior in college when I first heard this prayer at a women’s retreat: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, repeatedly prayed these words. God honored his prayers. Both World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse continue to be successful global ministries aimed at helping those in poverty – especially children.

During His short time on earth, Jesus set the gold standard of compassion. In Matthew 9:36 we are told, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus’ compassion extended to anyone in spiritual, physical, and emotional need. He helped the sick, the demon-possessed, those who mourned, and sinners. He cared for the marginalized – those whom the religious leaders of His day ignored and even despised.

If we are to become more like Jesus, we too will be men and women of compassion. Unfortunately, compassion does not come naturally for many of us. Left to our own natural selves, our hearts are selfish and hard. However, as Christians we have the Spirit of Jesus living in us. He gives us strength and desires beyond our human nature. When we give the Spirit control of our lives, we experience His fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – Gal 5:22-23). The Spirit of Jesus enables us to become Christ-like – including becoming compassionate and merciful.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus tells of the final judgment and explains that as we do for “the least of these” we do for Him. These are some of the most convicting words in the Bible for me. The way we treat the “least of these” (the marginalized, the poor, the despised), is the way we are treating Jesus. Our love is so limited, but Christ’s is abundant. We need to pray for compassion for the “least of these.” As Pierce puts it: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” We are told over and over in Scripture of how God answers prayers and desires to give us the desires of our heart. As we pray for broken hearts and compassion, God empties our hearts of our own selfish desires and fills them with the indescribable love of Jesus. He helps us to see people and situations through His eyes rather than our own.

The Lord has changed my heart and perspective in so many ways that it’s hard to even describe. As I’ve prayed, He has given me compassion for the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and marginalized. He’s given me compassion for those with addiction issues and for those who have been abused. He’s given me compassion for those who are lost, for those who are deceived, and for those who have wandered away from the Lord. He’s given me compassion for those who are physically hurting, who have experienced broken relationships, and who have lost loved ones. He’s given me compassion for those who do not have the Bible in their own language and for people groups across the globe. I cry for the pain of people I’ve never met. He has truly broken my heart for the things that break His heart. And yet, I still have so far to go!

A couple of years ago, I was on a business trip in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I had just finished eating dinner with a friend and we were chatting in the parking lot. As we talked, I saw a woman crossing the busy highway. She had a cast on her leg and used a walker. Because she was so slow, the crosswalk light was not long enough, and she almost got hit by a car. At that point, the Spirit urged me to go help the woman. I resisted, telling myself, “She made it okay. What can I do?” After I said good-bye to my friend and got in the car, I was again convicted to stop and see about the woman with the walker, but I resisted and drove by. About 2 or 3 blocks later, I was again convicted and finally submitted. I told the Lord, “Okay. I’ll go see if she needs help, and if I look like an idiot, who cares.” I found her at the corner gas stop/snack shop, leaning against the building looking exhausted, hopeless, and helpless. As I talked to her and she told me of her situation and needs, I felt the compassion of Jesus and I had an indescribable joy. I learned many important lessons from this experience and was convicted once again to “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” I also was reminded that there is joy in loving others and serving them on behalf of Jesus.

Nearly every day God provides opportunities to express compassion to others. However, without reliance on Him, we are often blind to the needs of others and powerless to express the love of Jesus. Because of this I think we need to continually be praying, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God” and ask Him for opportunities to be His hands and feet and heart to “the least of these.”

Personal Action:

 

The following actions are suggested to help you further reflect on and apply today’s devotional thoughts.

 

  1. Spend a few moments reflecting on your life. How compassionate are you? How frequently are you moved by the pain of others? How do you respond to these tugs on your heart?

 

  1. Read Matthew 25:31-46. How does this Scripture convict you of the need to serve others? What changes do you need to make, if any, in your life to better serve “the least of these”?

 

  1. Spend some time praying for the Lord’s help and guidance in your life – especially in the area of compassion. I encourage you to pray these words: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

Prayer:

Father,

Thank You for Your never-ending love, kindness, and compassion. Help us to see people and situations through Your eyes. Break our hearts with the things that break Your heart and show us how to respond to Your convictions. Give us courage to share Your amazing love with others.

In Jesus Name we pray, Amen!

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May 26, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 18
Life-Changing Prayer #3: “Speak, for Your Servant Is Listening.”
I Sam 3:10

Introduction to Prayer Guide 

We are now up to the third entry in Leanna’s five week prayer guide. Leanna warns us that: “Many of these prayers are very difficult. As we throw ourselves on the potter’s wheel as lumps of clay, and allow the Potter to mold us, it is often quite painful. However, these five prayers have repeatedly changed my life. If you too desire to grow closer to the Lord, these tried and true prayers are effective.” We encourage you to set aside time each week to reflect on her thoughts and pray these prayers.

Pastor Callum

Reflection on Prayer #: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Have you ever had a “conversation” with someone who does all the talking? I know a few people who find it necessary to dominate every conversation. I find it difficult to have a relationship with such people because the communication is one-way. They cannot truly know me if they will not listen to me.

I wonder if God sometimes feels that way about us. Oftentimes, when we pray, we do all the talking. We have our CHAT (confess, honor, ask, thank) with God and then run on to our busy day. God must shake His head and think, “Oh, my dear child, could you not stay and listen for just a bit?”

In Ps 37:7 David writes, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” In 1 Kings 19:12 God spoke to Elijah in a “low whisper” (ESV). The King James Version calls it “a still small voice.” My experience and the evidence of Scripture show that God rarely screams above our noise or forces Himself into our lives. Instead, He whispers, He knocks, He nudges.  If we are not quiet, we will miss some of the most blessed, sweet, and important words intended for our ears.

I began having a daily quiet time when I was 10 years old. It is one of the sweetest disciplines of my life and I look forward to the time each day. However, for many years my “quiet time” was filled with my Bible study and my praying; I did not allow time for reflection and meditation. A few years ago, I was convicted of this deficiency and began integrating some silence into my daily routine – some time in which I listen rather than talk.

1 Samuel 3 tells the story of Samuel as a boy, before he became the great prophet. When he first heard the voice of the Lord, he was not sure what it was or what to do. Then, after consulting with his mentor Eli, Samuel uttered these words to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10). A couple of years ago, as I became more intentional about being silent and listening to the Lord, I also began integrating these words into my prayer time. After I pour out my heart to the Lord each day, I pray these words, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then I try to still my mind and open my heart for whatever the Lord has to teach me. Sometimes He gives me insight into the Scripture I just read that day or into a situation I am facing. Sometimes He encourages me. Sometimes He convicts me of a sinful habit, action, or word. Sometimes He gives me direction for my life. Sometimes He gives me incredible ideas. And, sometimes I hear nothing. In those times, I try to just sit back and enjoy being in the presence of the Lord.

I encourage you to integrate some silence into your daily routine and to say these words often: “Speak, for your servant is listening.” I pray He will bless you beyond description!

Personal Action:

The following actions are suggested to help you further reflect on and apply today’s devotional thoughts.

1. Do you know someone who dominates every conversation? How does it make you feel? How does their constant talking impact your relationship?

2. Read the following Scriptures: Psalms 37:7; 46:10; 131:1; Kings 19:12; 1 Sam 3:3-10. What do these Scriptures teach you about listening to the Lord?

3. Read Jn 10:1-19, 27. How do we know the voice of the Lord? How can we learn to know it better?

4. Spend some time thinking about your prayer routine. Do you have silence? Do you listen to the Lord? If not, what steps can you begin to take to hear His whispers, His “still small voice”?

Prayer:

Father,

Thank You for knowing our hearts and every thought that crosses our minds. Thank You also for hearing every word we utter. Forgive us for the many times we fail to listen to You. Teach us, Lord, to be still and to hear Your still small voice. Help us to develop a habit of listening to You. Help us to listen in quietness, to listen as we study Your Word, to listen as we experience Your creation, and to listen to wise brothers and sisters. Give us wisdom to discern Your words and convictions from the competing thoughts in our heads and from the words of the enemy. Give us courage to act on Your words and to be obedient. May You be honored and glorified in our thoughts, actions, words, and motives.

In Jesus Name we pray. Amen!

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May 19, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 17

Life-Changing Prayer #2: “Thy Will Be Done”
Matthew 6:10

Introduction to New Prayer Guides
Last week Leanna began a weekly prayer guide that will last for five weeks, and come out every Tuesday morning. She will be teaching us about five life-changing prayers:

“Search Me”
“Thy Will Be Done”
“Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening”
“Break Me”
“Send Me”

This is #2. Leanna warns us that: “Many of these prayers are very difficult. As we throw ourselves on the potter’s wheel as lumps of clay, and allow the Potter to mold us, it is often quite painful. However, these five prayers have repeatedly changed my life. If you too desire to grow closer to the Lord, these tried and true prayers are effective.” We encourage you to set aside time each week to reflect on her thoughts and pray these prayers.
Pastor Callum

Reflection on Prayer #2: “Thy Will Be Done” 

Several years ago, I read the Mitford series by Jan Karon. The main character, Father Tim, frequently prays what he calls “the prayer that never fails” — THY WILL BE DONE. These four words are powerful and have carried me through many trials. They were first uttered in Jesus’ model prayer, which is generally called “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:10)

They were also demonstrated by Jesus in his life. Before Calvary, there was Gethsemane. As Jesus faced betrayal, arrest, a mock trial, and crucifixion, he prayed intensely in the garden. He was so troubled that His sweat was like “great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). He struggled with the trial that faced Him. He shared His struggles with the Father in prayer: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Lk 22:42). After surrendering his own will to the Father’s, he went through the most immense pain ever known to mankind – an event that completely changed the world! As the old song goes, “He could have called 10,000 angels” to rescue Him from the crucifixion but instead “he died alone for you and me.”

Jesus both taught and practiced this powerful prayer in his life. It is a prayer that we too can practice. It is especially effective when facing decisions or trials, but it is also a powerful daily prayer as we strive to honor the Lord in every detail of our lives.

The point of the prayer is to align our personal will with God’s will – not to align God’s will with ours. So often, we have no idea what God’s will is. Oftentimes, we much prefer our own will. However, the four simple words, “Thy will be done,” allow us to surrender our wishes, desires, preferences, dreams, and confusions into the hands of the infinitely wise God.

The Bible indicates that God wants to give us the desires of our heart (see Ps 37:4; Mt 6:33; 7:7-11; Jn 14:13-14). However, He also wants our desires to align with His, because that is what is absolutely best for everyone involved. I have had many desires that were not aligned with God’s. He has sometimes even granted me those desires – they have always turned out to be disappointing, painful, or unsatisfying.

The desires that satisfy are the ones that align with God’s will. The “prayer that never fails” helps us to submit our own feeble, uninformed, and selfish desires to the Lord who is all seeing and all knowing. He wants the absolute best for all in His kingdom. When we align our desires with His, He grants us so much more than we ever imagined.

Whatever you face, God cares. As we go through this COVID-19 pandemic, God cares. If you are facing a big decision, if you or a loved one have a health issue, if a child or friend are wandering, or if you’ve lost someone dear to you, God cares. You can call out to Him and share whatever is on your heart. And, as you do that, I encourage you to also pray, “Thy will be done.”

Personal Action:
The following actions are suggested to help you further reflect on and apply “the prayer that never fails.”

    1. Read the following Scriptures: Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:33; 7:7-11; John 14:13-14; James 4:13-15. Ask the Lord to guide your heart as you read each Scripture. Especially consider what the Scripture indicates about aligning your will with the Lord’s.
    2. Reflect on a time when God answered your prayer differently from what you anticipated. How did that situation impact you and your faith?
    3. Jot down some current areas of uncertainty or trouble in your life. Then pray about each one and integrate the words “thy will be done” into the prayer.
    4. Make a commitment to regularly pray “the prayer that never fails” – THY WILL BE DONE.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for caring about every single detail of our lives. You are so wise and knowledgeable and have insight that is beyond our comprehension. Forgive us the many times we try to take control of our own lives. Thank You for Your grace and patience through these times of rebellion. Help us to grow closer to You each and every day. Teach us to seek Your will rather than our own – in the small things and in the big things.

Help us also, Lord, to see ourselves as part of a community and not as mere individuals. Help us to realize that we are all connected and that You care about every detail of our lives, as individuals and as a community. Lord, as a community of believers, we ask for Your will to be done. And, as an individual believer, I ask too for Your will to be done.
To You be all glory and honor and praise! Amen
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May 12, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 16
Life-Changing Prayer #1: “Search Me”
Psalm 139:23-24

Today Leanna begins a weekly prayer guide that will last for five weeks, and come out every Tuesday morning. She will be teaching us about five life-changing prayers:
“Search Me”
“Thy Will Be Done”
“Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening”
“Break Me”
“Send Me”
This is #1. We encourage you to set aside time each week to reflect on her words and pray these prayers.
Pastor Callum

Introduction to New Prayer Guides
This is Leanna. I miss you all and look forward to being in PEI in three months (the Lord and the Canadian government willing). Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing five “life-changing prayers.” I hope to be able to unpack these further when I am with you in person. However, I thought it might be good to start thinking about and practicing these powerful concepts now.

WARNING: Many of these are very difficult. As we throw ourselves on the potter’s wheel as lumps of clay, and allow the Potter to mold us, it is often quite painful. However, these five prayers have repeatedly changed my life. If you too desire to grow closer to the Lord, these tried and true prayers are effective.

Reflection on Prayer #1: “Search Me”

This prayer is based on Ps 139:23-24, which reads:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (ESV)
You may recall the CHAT acronym that we used for the 40-day prayer challenge. The CHAT is a great guide for daily prayer. Here is the summary of it.
C = Confess (admit & repent of your own sins and forgive others who have hurt you)
H = Honor (praise and worship the Lord)
A= Ask (ask God to provide for needs – yours and others)
T = Thank (express your gratitude to the Lord)
The “search me” prayer is closely related to the “C” (confess), but it goes even deeper. It involves asking God to search us and to reveal sins in us that grieve Him. It also involves seeking forgiveness and repenting of those sins. True repentance requires action, therefore, this prayer requires action.
A couple of weeks ago, I went on a prayer walk and started the walk with this prayer. Five miles later, I was exhausted from the weeping and purification process that took place. The Lord convicted me of selfishness, worry, and fear. As He convicted me, I confessed, repented, and jotted down actions I needed to take to avoid falling into the same sin. (FYI: I take a mini-notebook with me on prayer walks, since God often generates ideas and actions as I pray and listen).
In Proverbs 25:4, Solomon writes: “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer” (KJV). This Scripture describes the purification process well. The process that follows “search me” praying, is like being heated up on the fire, and it can be painful, however, it is also purifying. As God identifies our sins and we confess and repent of them, obstacles (dross) that keep us from true relationship with the Lord are removed.
I recommend praying this prayer frequently and to allow some quiet time afterward. After you pray it, be still and listen for the whisper of the Lord. I also recommend having a notebook with you to write down the areas that God reveals and actions that you need to take. The process of writing it down and committing to it significantly increases the likelihood that we will do something.

Personal Action
Here are some recommendations for implementing life-changing prayer #1:

▸ Set aside some time this week to pray, “Search me, O God.” Read aloud Psalm 139:23-24, and then pray it. Even better, memorize it and then pray it.

▸ As God reveals areas in your life that keep you from intimate relationship with Him, ponder them, write them down, confess them, and determine what actions you need to take for true repentance.

▸ Put the actions on a separate piece of paper that you can review regularly. Pray about the actions and make a commitment to follow through on them. Changing deeply ingrained habits generally takes time. Continue praying about the commitments you make in the days and weeks ahead.

▸ Make a commitment to repeat the “search me” prayer on a regular basis.

Prayer
Heavenly Father,
Thank You for loving us just as we are, but also for loving us too much to leave us as we are.
Thank You for Your willingness to search us and to reveal areas in our lives that keep us from deep and intimate relationship with You. Give us all in our church the courage to pray, “Search me.” And make Your love and grace evident as You convict and guide us. Help us, Lord, to repent, to be obedient to Your Word and convictions, and to draw near to You every second of every day.
In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen!
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May 5, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 14
“The Benefits of Thanksgiving”
Philippians 4:6-7; Nehemiah 12:27; Psalm 100

Introduction
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we read this passage, we often focus on the praying, petitioning, and presenting requests to God during anxious situations. We pass right over the “thanksgiving” part. This text reminds us that when we pray with thanksgiving, we experience the indescribable peace of God and our hearts and minds are guarded. Thanksgiving has some great benefits!

Other Scriptures also indicate a relationship between thanksgiving and joy. Nehemiah 12:27 explains that when the Israelites dedicated the new wall of Jerusalem, “the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.”

When we give thanks to the Lord, it gets our focus off ourselves and onto Him and His great provision. When that happens, we experience peace and joy and so much more. As Christians, we should work to foster an attitude of gratitude. When we do, God increases our joy and peace.

Scripture Reading – Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Personal Reflection

Consider the following questions/actions as you reflect on today’s Scriptures and devotional thought.

    1. God has given us so much. Eph 5:20 tells us to “always give thanks to God the Father for everything.”  How do you express thanks to the Lord each day? What steps can you take to integrate thanksgiving into your daily routine?
    2. A place to start at daily thanksgiving is to thank God for answered prayers, spiritual blessings, relational blessings, and material blessings. Take some time today to answer the following:What prayers has God answered?What spiritual growth have you experienced?What spiritual blessings have you seen in the people you love that you want to thank God for?What relational blessings have you experienced?How has God provided for your physical needs?Prayer (from Harvest Prayer Ministries April 25, 2020)Father, my heart is filled with gratitude for Your goodness in my life!  Your praise is always on my lips for You have blessed me beyond anything I could ever think or imagine!  May I never miss an opportunity to lift up Your name as I walk by faith and not by sight.In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen
      Leanna Rierson
      ++++++April 27, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 13
      “Be Still and Know That I Am God”
      Psalm 46:10NOTE BY PASTOR CALLUM: Our Pastoral epistle today comes from the pen of Jen MacKay. It is a reflection on God using this COVID time to teach us to learn to be still. It ties into our words from last Sunday where David instructed us “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). It also ties into our closing hymn:Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side,
      Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
      Leave to thy God to order and provide,
      In every change He faithful will remain.
      Be still my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend,
      Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.Scripture Reading:
      Jen’s thought is based on Psalm 46, which is quoted in full below. Notice that the call for stillness comes in the midst of strife and war:God is our refuge and strength,
          an ever-present help in trouble.
      Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
      and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
      though its waters roar and foam
      and the mountains quake with their surging.
      There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
      the holy place where the Most High dwells.
      God is within her, she will not fall;
      God will help her at break of day.
      Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
          he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
      The Lord Almighty is with us;
      the God of Jacob is our fortress.
      Come and see what the Lord has done,
      the desolations he has brought on the earth.
      He makes wars cease
      to the ends of the earth.
      He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
      he burns the shields with fire.
      He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
      I will be exalted among the nations,
      I will be exalted in the earth.”
      The Lord Almighty is with us;
      the God of Jacob is our fortress.Jen’s Reflection
      Be still and know that I am God. Our busy lives and culture say go, go, go. We get frustrated at Drive Thru’s, when things take more than a minute; 5 pm traffic has us all in a stir; and even our down time is to get this person here or that person there.Be still and know that I am God. During this time when most of us have had no choice but to slow down, I contemplate. I know that in You there is no darkness but I also know that nothing goes unused towards Your mission.Perhaps during a time of uncertainty, You are using these moments to say, “Be still and know that I am God, I am in control, I always was and I always will be.” Perhaps You  are using this situation to train our minds to be still and know that You are God, so that when the hustle and bustle return and chaos overcomes us, we can be still and know that You are our God.We can use this time of quiet and solitude to train our souls, so that even when the noise of life returns, Your stillness will not depart from our hearts and minds. And we will be ready no matter what the situation, no matter what the chaos, no matter what the noise, to be still and know that You are our God.

      Prayer
      Lord Jesus, train us, create in us a calm that cannot be penetrated, prepare us for the battle of business. Teach us to be still and know that You are God. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
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      April 21, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 12

      Prayer for Portapique

      “Psalm 37″

      We have all been stunned by the unbelievable tragedy in Nova Scotia, made even worse by it occurring in the midst of the current lockdown.  I have talked with a number of members of the congregation about this, and it is clear that it has hit us all at a very deep emotional level. The grief is very real.  The following scripture and prayer is sent out to help us in expressing our grief and in lifting up before God the families and communities of those who have been so deeply impacted by this senseless attack
      Our scripture is selected portions from Psalms 37 (the translation is mainly NIV, with some readings from the ESV mixed in) and shows that this kind of evil has been with mankind for a long time, and calls us to not worry and fret but to continue to live a life of faithfulness in wicked times, knowing that God is in control and he will bring about justice in his time.
      The prayer is adapted from two prayers, one by the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice and the other by a Rev Richard Bott, and the words of our Psalm.

      Scripture Reading

      Do not fret because of those who are evil
      or be envious of those who do wrong;
      for like the grass they will soon wither,
      like green plants they will soon die away.

      Trust in the Lord and do good;
      dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
      Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you the desires of your heart.

      Commit your way to the Lord;
      trust in him and he will act.
      He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
      and your justice as the noonday.

      Be still before the Lord
      and wait patiently for him;
      do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
      when they carry out their wicked schemes.

      Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
      do not fret—it leads only to evil.
      For those who are evil will be destroyed,
      but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

      A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
      though you look for them, they will not be found.
      But the meek will inherit the land
      and enjoy peace and prosperity….

      The wicked draw the sword
      and bend the bow
      to bring down the poor and needy,
      to slay those whose ways are upright.
      But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
      and their bows will be broken….

      The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
      and their inheritance will endure forever.
      They are not put to shame in times of disaster,
      in days of famine they will enjoy plenty….

      The Lord makes firm the steps
      of the one who delights in him;
      though he may stumble, he will not be cast headlong,
      for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

      I was young and now I am old,
      yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
      or their children begging bread.
      They are always generous and lend freely;
      And their children become a blessing.

      Turn from evil and do good;
      So shall you dwell forever.
      For the Lord loves justice
      and will not forsake his faithful ones.

      The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
      and their tongues speak what is just.
      The law of their God is in their hearts;
      their feet do not slip….

      Wait for the Lord
      and keep his way.
      He will exalt you to inherit the land;
      when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

      I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
      Spreading himself like a green laurel tree,
      but he soon passed away and, behold, he was no more;
      though I looked for him, he could not be found.

      Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
      a future awaits those who seek peace.
      But all sinners will be destroyed;
      there will be no future for the wicked.

      The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
      he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
      The Lord helps them and delivers them;
      he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
      because they take refuge in him.

      Prayer

      Lord, in our shock and confusion, we come before you.
      In our grief and despair, in the midst of hate, we look to you,
      In our sense of helplessness in the face of violence, we lean upon you.

      For the people of Portapique, their neighbours and community, grieving today, we pray.
      For the families of those who have been killed we pray.
      For the communities that have lost members—in their anger, grief and fear—we pray.
      For the churches striving to be your light in darkness beyond our comprehension, we pray.
      For the caregivers who seek to provide comfort in this time of isolation, we pray.
      For those unable to gather in mourning, support, and love, we pray.

      In the face of hatred, may we claim love, Lord.
      In the face of uncertainty, may we fret not but trust in you.
      In the face of indescribable wickedness, may we refrain from anger and forsake wrath.
      In these evil times, may we befriend faithfulness and love justice.

      Lord, have mercy.
      Heal our sin-sick souls.
      We pray for your grace, your compassion, your strong presence, your overwhelming love,
      Oh God of all creation, in these days of tragedy and sorrow.

      In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

      Pastor Callum Beck
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      April 21, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 11

      “His Word Is a Love Letter, A Gold Mine, and a Honeycomb.”

      Psalm 19:7-11

      Each morning when I awake (usually after a couple of snoozes on the alarm clock), the first thing I do is hit my knees to dedicate the day to the Lord. I typically state the date, in order to “number the day” (Ps 90:12). Then I submit my mind, mouth, heart, body, and day to the Lord. I ask Him to direct my steps and often quote a Scripture that comes to mind. I briefly pray for the day ahead and then get moving.

      I also try to read a chapter from Psalms or Proverbs each morning. These ancient words inspired by God are so powerful. They are jammed full of nuggets of wisdom and encouragement. This week I read one of my favorites, Psalm 19:7-11, which always strikes me.  David writes:

      7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.

      The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

      8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.

      The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

      9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

      The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

      10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

      they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

      11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

      David uses such rich language to describe the power and beauty of the words of the Lord. He uses descriptors like perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, everlasting, firm, righteous, precious, and sweet. The next time you read and study the Bible think about the sweet, precious treasure you are consuming. His Word is a love letter, a gold mine, and a honeycomb – all in one.

      Psalm 19 also reminds us of the actions that the Word performs when we read it, meditate upon it, and apply it.  The Word of God refreshes our souls, makes us wise, gives us joy, gives us light, warns us, and leads to great reward. What other written words have that kind of power?

      Hebrews 12:13 tells us that the Word of God is “living and active.” It is not dead and dormant. It is not merely ink on a page. However, the power of the Word is only experienced when we take the time to read it, absorb it into our hearts and minds, and put it into action.

      PERSONAL REFLECTION:

      Consider the following questions as you reflect on the power of the Word.

      1. Explain a time when the Word of God personally blessed or directed you. Which of the adjectives or verbs in Psalm 19:7-11 best describe the Word in that experience?
      2. Do you have a daily quiet time in which you read and study the Bible and pray for God to guide you in understanding and applying it? If so, what do you most enjoy about that time? What are some ways you can improve that time? If not, what steps can you take to start integrating Bible intake into your daily routine?

      PRAYER:

      Father,

      Thank You for Your written Word which is living and active. Through it You reveal Yourself and provide us insight into Your great love, power, mercy, grace, creativity, and so much more. Through it You also show us Your expectations for how to live godly lives which please You. And, when we follow those ways, You bless us and use us. Thank You for the power You give us to obey and for the abundant life we experience. Help us, Lord, to be faithful in reading, obeying, and sharing Your amazing Word!

      In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

      Leanna Rierson

      ++++++++

      April 17, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 10
      “RED Letter Challenge: Going”
      Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8

      Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection was the starting point of a revolution which continues to this day. Jesus’ victory over death changed everything! Because of it we have the hope of eternal life. When Jesus is the Lord of our lives, that hope is more than a mere possibility. It is a guarantee! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

      However, the gift of eternal life is not just for those of us already saved. It is meant to be shared with others. Some of Jesus’ last words on earth tell us to share His precious gift with others. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Then just before he ascended into heaven he said: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These Scriptures remind us of several things: first, we are not alone but the Holy Spirit is with us; second, we are not powerless but the Holy Spirit empowers us; and third, we are all to be witnesses, to go and share with others what Jesus has done for us.

      Sharing our faith can be scary at times. But we have the love and power of Jesus at our disposal. We just have to submit to His guidance and to share His love with those He puts in our path. Going and sharing Jesus with the lost will look different for each of us. For some it may mean going across the globe, for others it may entail going across the street, for others it may just be going to the phone to call a lost family member. How can you share Jesus this week?

      PERSONAL REFLECTION:
      Consider the following questions as you reflect on your own witness as a servant of Jesus Christ.

      1. What do you find to be the most challenging thing about sharing your faith with others? Spend some time praying about this and asking for God’s help.
      2. Read Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; and Acts 1:8. What do these Scriptures have in common? How do they challenge and convict you?
      3. Pray for the Lord to identify some friends and/or family members that need Jesus. List their names.
      4. Pray for each person you listed in the days and weeks ahead. Also pray for the opportunity to share Jesus’ love with them.THOUGHTS:
        “Evangelism is not what we tell people, unless what we tell is totally consistent with who we are. It is who we are that is going to make the difference. It is who we are that is going to show the love that brought us all into being, that cares for us all, now, and forever. If we do not have love in our hearts, our words of love will have little meaning. If we do not truly enjoy our faith, nobody is going to catch the fire of enjoyment from us. If our lives are not totally centered on Christ, we will not be Christ-bearers for others, no matter how pious our words” (Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time).The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose (CS Lewis).PRAYER
        Our heavenly Father,
        Thank you for sending Jesus and for saving me. Your gift of eternal life is beyond description. Give me wisdom, guidance, courage, and power to share your love with others. Help me to see lost people as you see them – through Your holy and loving eyes. Witnessing about the good news of Jesus is such a great responsibility and privilege, so help me to trust You and to rely on Your power as I do this. May all I say, do, and think bring glory to You!In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.Leanna Rierson++++++++April 14, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 9“Every Praise”
        Psalm 149:1-5Peter MacIntyre sent me a rather cool video this week by American gospel music artist and pastor Hezekiah Walker (actually he sent it a few weeks ago but I just played it yesterday ☺). The song is called Every Praise, and some of you will know it. Like the Psalms, it calls us to exuberantly praise God.So I thought it would be good to center my pastoral epistle today around this song. The Bible says it is good to praise God, even in those times when we may not be feeling particularly upbeat. So for your devotional time today or tomorrow, read the following scripture aloud, listen to and sing along with the song on You Tube, and close with a prayer of praise. And if you just feel like dancing when you play the song, well that is okay too, because David danced before the Lord.Scripture – Psalm 149:1-5: Praise the Lord.
        Sing to the Lord a new song,
        his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
        Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
        let the people of God be glad in their King.
        Let them praise his name with dancing
        and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
        For the Lord takes delight in his people;
        he crowns the humble with victory.
        Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
        and sing for joy on their beds.
        Praise the Lord.Song of Praise – “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuuZMg6NVeAEvery praise is to our God.
        Every word of worship with one accord,
        Every praise, every praise, is to our God.
        Sing hallelujah to our God,
        Glory hallelujah is due our God,
        Every praise, every praise, is to our God.
        Prayer 
        O Lord, our Lord, how excellent
        is Your name in all the earth.
        I worship You, with all the angels and saints I adore You.
        I Acknowledge You to be my Creator and my God.
        I render You the homage of my being and my life.
        I am not my own, but I am Yours,
        by creation and redemption I am Yours.
        I will devote myself to Your divine service this day and forever.
        O grant me grace for this dear Lord.
        In Christ’s name, Amen.Pastor Callum Beck
        ++++++++++++++++++
        April 9, 2020-  PASTORAL EPISTLE # 8“I Am the Resurrection and the Life”John 11:17-26The season of Lent is fast coming to an end, and the world today is beyond incredibly different from the way it was than when Lent began on Feb 26. Our Good Friday service tomorrow will remind us that He is “The Hope for Our Troubled World.” That whatever comes our way in this world, whether it be disease, a broken economy, or death, that he is our hope in times of anxiety, trouble and darkness. Because he is the Resurrection and the Life, and he overcame death and the grave, by the power of his glorious resurrection from the dead.The theme for our service this Sunday will continue to be around the RED LETTER CHALLENGE, but we have created an extra week that was not in the original program, that we are calling “Living.”Scripture: As you prepare for our service this Sunday read, reflect upon and rejoice in the words of life from Jesus in our passage above (John 11:17-26) and in Luke 24:36-49.Thought: The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits,’ the pioneer of life,’ He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so (CS Lewis, Miracles, ch. 16).Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, In this difficult time, we remember you. We remember your death, we proclaim your resurrection, we await your coming in glory, and we entrust our lives into your care, because we know that everything is different because you have conquered the grave. In the name of the one, who called himself  the Resurrection and the Life, we pray, Amen!Pastor Callum Beck+++++April 6, 2020 PASTORAL EPISTLE # 7“As the Deer Pants for Water”Psalm 42:1-5Our Pastoral epistle today is inspired by one sent out today by Doug Rollwage to his congregation at Zion Presbyterian Church. It is a scripture reading that is very suitable for these days, an adapted form of a prayer that Doug used during worship yesterday, and a link to a hymn adaptation of these five verses.Last night the College group met online via the Zoom app. Zoom has a cool whiteboard on it, so we decided to do one round of pictionary. Karen gave the clue to Samuel, and then we had to guess what Samuel drew. It was clearly a church but there was no one there. Very interestingly, when Karen was asked to provide a clue, the first thing that came to her mind was “empty church.”This is not a new experience for the people of God, as the Psalmist also experienced it 3,000 years ago, when he wrote about “how I used to go to the house of God, under the protection of the Mighty One, with shouts of joy and praise.” His solution was to “put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” This is a good reminder for us in these days of social distancing to also ‘thirst after God’ and ‘put our hope in Him.’

        So set aside ten minutes today or tomorrow, either by yourself or with your family, to read the following scripture from the Psalms, to pray the following prayer, and to listen or sing along with the hymn below.

        Scripture Reading: Psalm 42:1-5

        As the deer pants for streams of water,

        so my soul pants for you, my God.

        My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

        When can I go and meet with God?

        My tears have been my food day and night,

        while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

        These things I remember as I pour out my soul,

        how I used to go to the house of God,

        under the protection of the Mighty One,

        with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

        Why, my soul, are you downcast?

        Why so disturbed within me?

        Put your hope in God,

        for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

        Prayer 

        O God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

        We pray that wherever we are today, that we would all know that we are in your presence, for you have promised to be with us, to the end of the age. We pray that we would thirst for you as the deer pants for water, and that even when our souls are downcast, that we would put our hope in you, our Savior and our God.

        Bless us this day O Lord. Lighten our loneliness. Ease our isolation. Assure us that even as the Holy Spirit connects us to you, so by the Spirit we are connected to one another,

        Father, we confess to you today that, even though you have commanded us to love one another, yet so often, our selfishness has gotten in the way of love. And our patience has often been short, and our tempers even shorter. We also confess that we have not always reflected your love to your world, turning a deaf ear to cries for help, and a blind eye to those in need.

        Forgive us our sins, we pray. Help us to love one another as you have loved us, patiently, unselfishly, completely. Help us to bring healing instead of hurt, forgiveness instead of resentment.

        Hear our prayers, O Lord. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen!

        Hymn: Psalm 42: As the Deer Longs

        Lyrics adapted by Danna Harkin from Psalm 42:1-5, in 1975.

        The tune is the traditional and lovely “The Water Is Wide.”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ03t3pqesA

        As the deer longs for flowing streams,

        so longs my soul for you, O God.

        My soul does thirst for the living God,

        when shall I come to see your face?

         

        My tears have fed me day and night,

        while some have said, “Where is your God?”

        But I recall as my soul pours dry,

        the days of praise within your house.

        Why do I mourn and toil within,

        when it is mine to hope in God?

        I shall again sing praise to him,

        He is my help, He is my God.

        Pastor Callum Beck

        +++++

        Pastoral Epistle #6 Sunday, April 5, 2020
        Hi all! It is a study prepared by Leanna to prepare us for Sunday’s service. God bless you all and see you on Sunday morning. Callum

        RED LETTER CHALLENGE
        Week #5
        Giving:
        “Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also”
        Matthew 6:19-21; 18:18-30

        Our fifth topic of this Lenten season is GIVING. God is generous beyond description. Everything we have comes from Him – our lives, relationships, homes, families, friends, food, etc. He even gave His only Son, Jesus, so that we might have eternal life.

        As people created in His image, God intends for us to also be generous. Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic. Matthew 6:21 provides one of His clearest teachings on giving. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He knew we would struggle with priorities and made it very clear that giving is a heart issue. God doesn’t necessarily need or even want our money, but He desperately desires our hearts!

        It is important to realize that our treasure includes our time and talent, as well as our finances. Essentially, He doesn’t just expect generous giving, but also generous living. When we live generously, God provides us with unspeakable joy and abundant/full life (John 10:10).

        God blesses us in order to bless others (Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18-19). Mark Batterson writes, “When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of giving.” We can never out give the Lord. The more we bless others, the more He blesses us (see Proverbs 11:25-26; 2 Corintians 9:8-11). It seems completely illogical, but it’s just part of His extravagant, never-ending grace and love.

        PERSONAL REFLECTION:

        Using the following questions, reflect on your own heart:

        1. Consider the following statement: “True prosperity is not how much we have, but rather how much we give.” Do you agree or disagree?

        2. Read Mark 12:41-44.
        a. What is it about the widow’s offering that moved Jesus?
        b. Have you ever given sacrificially? Explain.

        3. Read Acts 4:32-35.
        a. What strikes you most about the early believers’ lifestyle?
        b. How would our lives be different if we gave like they did?
        c. Why do you think it is hard to give away resources that are ultimately God’s anyway? That is, what keeps us from giving more?

        4. Read Luke 18:18-30, the parable of the rich young ruler. How does his life illustrate Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:21 about our heart being where our treasure is?

        5. Consider your bank and credit card statements and your daily schedule. What do they indicate about where your treasure is? Rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is “very poor” and 10 is “excellent”) on how generous you are.

        Quote to Ponder: “God doesn’t need us to give Him our money. He owns everything. Tithing is God’s way to grow Christians” (Adrian Rogers).

        Prayer: “Heavenly Father, may you be my treasure, both now and in eternity, so that my heart may rest at peace in you.”

        ++++++++++++++++
        Shirley MacKay had a great idea and asked if i could send her a picture of praying hands to put in her window. Feel free to copy and paste this link and print for your window.. if you happen to be in town, i will leave a bunch in our mailbox for you to take..


        ++++++++
        March 30, 2020 – PASTORAL EPISTLE # 5
        “Patience”
        Romans 12:12; Colossians 1:9-12; James 5:7-11
        Our Pastoral epistle today comes from the pen of Elder Wayne Peters. The topic is patience, but why would he think any of us need that?☹ – Callum

        “Are we theeerrrre yet?”

        Sound familiar?  This lament is most often heard on a long road trip, and emanates from a tired, bored, impatient child (or sometimes, a parent) who has had enough.  I think we’ve all “Been there, done that.”

        How are you finding your patience level, these days?  It seems that there is no news, other than the Coronavirus situation.  Our regular lives are on hold, and “normal” is no longer normal.

        I have been asked to work from home for the past two weeks.  Unfortunately, that can only begin after regular working hours, as we have only so many connections to our network.  (I have found that my concentration levels in the evening are not on par with what should be “normal”.  Frustrating!)  When those connections are available, they still don’t give me the full suite of tools I am used to having at my fingertips.  (Frustrating!!)  At the office, I have two monitors to give me the space to lay out my toolkit, to help my weary eyes, and I know where everything is.  On the laptop, I have no room!  (GRRR!!!)

        Yes, friends, I am poking fun at my situation.  I do realize that I am very fortunate.  I am still employed.  Hopefully, next week, we will have better (daytime) access to the network.  And, I am not sick.  God has blessed me in many ways, and I am grateful for His care.

        It is too easy, in trying times, to lose sight of what really matters.  We sometimes get so worked up about things that are, in truth, small in the grand scheme of things.  We lose our patience with others, get frustrated with situations beyond our control, and miss out on the blessings that should be a constant source of amazement.  Blessings like family and friends, and phones to keep in touch with them.  Kind neighbors and friends who will help us get groceries and run errands.  And, we must not forget God’s Love.  That’s a huge blessing!

        So, before you get to “GRRR!!!” and lose it, take a moment to remind yourself that God loves you.  Say it out loud: “God Loves Me!”  Say it a few times, if necessary.  Take a deep breath.  In – hold it – and then Out.

        Now, how’s your patience level?
        Elder Wayne Peters
        March 30, 2020
        ++++++++++++++++
        PRAYER FOR PATIENCE: Heavenly Father, give us patience in our affliction and suffering, whether our trials are small irritants or overwhelming burdens. Strengthen us, by your glorious power, to have great endurance and patience so that we can bear fruit in every good work. Help me to be patient and kind with my family in these trying days, when we are forced to be so close together for such extended periods. Help us to remain calm in our hearts, joyful in hope and loving in our actions. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

        In uncertain times, it’s easy to be consumed by fear, anxiety and hopelessness. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. As we walk this journey together, let us remember our God is not surprised by any of this. He is sovereign. He is in control. He is great, glorious, gracious and good. May we, without hesitation, find strength and peace in that truth.

        Jean Wheatley – March 24, 2020
        We just heard from Mark Wheatley that his Mom, Jean, a long-time member at Central, just passed away about 8:15pm on Monday night, Mar 23. She had a fall yesterday, and then a stroke. The hospital chaplain and a relative who works at the hospital were in praying over her, and as soon as they finished the Lord’s Prayer, Jean gently passed away into the arms of her Lord.
        ++++++++++++++++
        PASTORAL EPISTLE # 3 – March 23, 2020
        “Redeeming the Time” Ephesians 6:10-20

        When I lived in Tennessee we had two people in our church who were at opposite ends of a robbery. The first was an old grandmother. She had just got a job at a small convenience store and was held up by a young man with a gun, though they later found out had it no bullets in it. He asked her to hand over the money in the cash register drawer, but, having no fear of eternity and a heart of compassion for this young man, she very calmly replied, “Oh dearie, you don’t want to do this, if you take the money you will just end up getting more charges against you, so just put down your gun and we will call the police.” And he did.

        The second case was a young man who got himself into trouble, stole some money, and got two years less a day in prison. I talked to him the week before he went in and asked him, “What are you going to accomplish while you are in jail?” He was kind of shocked by this question, I think he thought he was just going to stare at the walls and play cards with the other prisoners, but then we laid out a plan for all the things he was going to study in his ‘free time.’ Unfortunately, this story does not end well, because his girlfriend dumped him after he had been in for a month, and he was so depressed that he ended up moping around for the rest of his sentence, and accomplished almost nothing.

        Still, the idea was good. When we are granted a lot of free time, what do we do with it? Paul talks about the idea of “ redeeming the time because the days are evil.” In some ways, with the arrival of this deadly disease, the hit our economy is taking, and all of the social distancing, these days are evil. We could certainly fill all of our empty hours watching CNN or Netflix, or playing video games. While those are nice things to have in days like these, do you really want to emerge from this forced hibernation in six weeks and look back and say, ‘I just spent the last 1000 hours watching movies and playing Pac-Man’ (okay I am showing my age, but that’s cause I don’t know the names of any computer game made since then)? Do we want to be like the young man in jail who came out of his forced hiatus and had not grown a single whit?

        So I think it is good that we think about how we can redeem this time. How, even when we are stuck at home, can we productively use our time to grow closer to our Creator, minister to others, and finish some projects at home that we have been putting off for years. Now for some of us, our time is busier now than it has ever been. Certainly this is the case for our medical people and workers in essential industries. This has also been true for me these last couple of weeks, with trying to get my university courses online and re-jigging things around the church. And many of you are just working from home instead of at the office, so life is not all that different for you. But for many, we are now in possession of a lot of free hours in our day. So what do we do with them?

        Lorraine and I have begun to make a list on our whiteboard of all the things we hope to accomplish during the next few weeks or months. This ranges from physical exercise (going for walks and lifting weights while we watch Netflix ☺), to a few projects around the house, to making sure we set aside time each day to be together with our Lord. And if this goes on a really long time, I may even get a chance to finish the three books I started to write eight years ago.

        So what are you going to do to redeem your time? Feel free to send an email and let us know what you and your family are doing during these ‘evil times’ to redeem your time. . It should encourage all of us
        Pastor Callum
        ++++++++++++++++
        Belle MacInnis & family wish to Thank everyone for all your love and prayers during Fred’s illness & funeral. Thank you to all who sent cards, delivered food , gave donations and reached out with a phone call. It was sincerely appreciated.
        ++++++++++++++++
        PASTORAL EPISTLE # 2 – March 20, 2020

        This is Pastoral Epistle number two. Some of you may be wondering why I chose this name. The first reason is pretty obvious, this is an epistle (which is just another word for letter or in modern parlance, email) from the pastor to the congregation. The second reason is that it is an allusion to a term used in Biblical studies. The Pastoral Epistles are First and Second Timothy and Titus. They are called that because they are personal letters from Paul to Timothy and Titus, in their role as leaders in their Church.

        When I went to Bible College I was  taught a course on the Pastoral Epistles by Les Jones, who was Bonnie May’s father. The main thing I remember from the course was our discussion around the phrase “it is a true and faithful saying” (trustworthy saying in the translation below). There are five of these, which  follow:

        1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

        1 Timothy 3:1 “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer (elder) desires a noble task.”

        1 Timothy 4:8-9 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.”

        2 Timothy 2:11-13 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

        Titus 3:5-8 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”

        Take some time to reflect and meditate upon these trustworthy sayings today.

        But what is at the heart of this phrase, is my feelings of deep concern for each one of you at this time, my concern for you as your pastor. Paul speaks of his deep “concern for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:28), and he says to the Philippians that “I have you in my heart” (Philippians 1:7). As your pastor that is how I feel at this time. And I want these days to be fruitful in your lives spiritually, that you would grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. So each week I will send out two or three Pastoral Epistles (though some may come from one of the elders or Leanna), and I hope you take the time to read them, reflect upon them, and use them to bring yourself before our God and Savior. Because, it is a  true and faithful saying that “godliness has value for all things, holding promise both for the present life and the life to come.”

        Yesterday morning Lorraine and I prayed together the prayer in the last epistle, Saint Patrick’s Breastplate,  and it was a precious time for us. The next epistle will be on Redeeming the Time.
        Pastor Callum

        Email sent out to congregation – March 20, 2020
        Central Family:
        Wednesday evening the Leadership of Central Christian Church met to discuss plans on how we move forward as a congregation in view of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

        After discussing various options, we decided that we would have a live video service each Sunday at 11:00am. The service will be a condensed version with prayer, scripture reading, a message and communion. If you are on Facebook please like our Facebook page, -Central Christian Church. You will also be able to watch this live from our church website @ www.centralchristian.pe.ca/live.
        We encourage everyone to participate in the service and to share in the communion time by partaking of the bread and the wine at your own home. Make sure you prepare this beforehand –  it will be partaken at the end of the service.

        We are also mindful of those who are lonely and possibly stressed over the situation we find ourselves in. We want you to know that we are all in this together and we need to support one another. Although we may not be able to meet socially we can pick up a phone and check in with one of your christian brothers & sisters, Face-time your loved ones, If you are going to the grocery store ask if your neighbor needs anything. (I have attached the church directory link below for those of you who don’t have your church phone book)
        https://mcusercontent.com/09772729a6f631aff93397e1b/files/f6aab7f2-b534-4fa0-b040-b4a70cdaef0a/Central_Christian_Address_book_2020.02.pdf

        It is important that we stay united and take care of each other during this crisis. Remain strong in your faith that God will see us through this. Use this time to draw close to Him. BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD. Maybe that is what He is trying to tell us.  

        Please check out our website for past sermons, as well as a NEW TAB on the website called Messages & Prayers.This will be updated with messages from Pastor Beck, needs from the congregation, and prayer concerns/updates.

        You may be wondering how can I continue to support my church when we are not gathering. We want you to know there is an opportunity to give as the needs are still ongoing.

        – E transfer: centralchristian@eastlink.ca password: giving
        – You can pop your cheque in the mail or drop off to the church office mailbox (outside the back door) if you happen to be out
        – Credit Card/ Visa debit – Go to our website: www.centralchristian.pe.ca/donate or click on the DONATE NOW button (button should be up by end of day) on our church web page.

        For those that require food
        – We have limited items available in our food pantry here at the church
        – Call the Salvation Army Charlottetown Food Bank (902-892-2281) They will meet you at the front doors of their lobby (not the usual side door) and allow one person in at a time. If you want them to put your groceries in your car, please let them know at the door. This is not a time to be proud -if you need help, please come or give them a call. They understand that many who might normally be a donor or usually have other options are in a unique position in these days. They are not here to judge but to show you compassion. If you are self-isolating, please call them and we will do our best to make arrangements with you.
        – Gifts from the Heart – Betty Begg – 902-628-6871

        And as always, please give us a call at the church and we will see what we can do to help you 🙂

        We here at Central want to keep you all connected!
        Blessings & Be safe
        ++++++++++++++++
        Nick Evans update – March 19, 2020
        Hey pastor. I’m still in Taiwan. They have not closed the the league only made it closed door with no fans and limited staff. The season is over April 12th and my flight back is going to be made very shortly after. They are paying me ALOT of money and I need this salary to survive this summer.  There has only been 100 cases here and 24 have recovered released. From what I understand my return flight to Canada is not in jeopardy even with the new boarder closure in Canada. I do NOT fall into the Unessential category due to marriage and children that are Canadian and my lease on a house. I will be self quarantining when I get back to pei for 14 days. I feel very health but understand I still could be a carrier.
        ++++++++++++++++
        Irene MacIssac update – March 18, 2020 
        Well a trip to Halifax becomes a crisis which has left me speechless with gratefulness and thankfulness!!!Somehow my brain nudged me to go to Hfx even if I felt something wasn’t quite right.. overnight I developed. Discomfort over my sternum
        Like heartburn..a thumping feeling in my chest .. and like many nurses didn’t take it too serious.. again my intuition or Guardian Angel nudged me to take an aspirin which I did.. some relief.. later decided to get checked in Emerg as it was one of the best cardiac hospitals in the Maritimes… immediately EKG showed I was in Atrial Fib.. so the preparation was made to sedate me and use the paddles…praying to remain calm while awaiting the procedure changed the event as my heart picked up
        A normal rhythm and I averted the paddles!!what can happen with AF is one can throw a clot if the AF last too long then you end up with a stroke if it goes to the brain and probably a massive heart attack if it goes to the heart!! Someone was looking after me !! I was admitted for the weekend and Catheter Lab Monday for a dye test of the cardiac arteries!! Not to bad a procedure as they give you calming meds and you get to watch the wire go from your wrist to your heart with the dye floating through… No heart damage was seen but 2 blockages which they dealt with by inserting two stents to open the artery!!! The 2 stents in the other artery from 16 years ago were working very well..I am now on my 6th life and for whatever reason I wasn’t wanted on the other side yet… Emotionally I am in awe that I got shingles a few weeks ago therefore I was not in Europe for this crisis..Spiritually I am beyond blessed and felt protected… So presently I am home resting and remaining isolated to stay well and it is time to start heart healthy living so toast with me on that!!PS is wine allowed?

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        Pastoral Epistle #1 – March 17, 2020
        Today is St Patty’s day, but there is none of the usual celebration. Perhaps that will allow us to focus more on the original spiritual intention of this holiday feast.

        I received in my inbox today a devotional on the prayer of St Patrick, called St Patrick’s Breastplate. I found it quite moving, especially given the current state of affairs in our world. So I decided today to do the first of my Pastoral Epistles to the congregation, during this period of physical distancing from one another, in order to encourage us all to draw close to our heavenly Father and keep in touch at least virtually. I have no idea on the frequency of future epistles, or the form, but we will see how all of that unfolds.

        So here is a bit about St Patrick (stolen from Christian History magazine and supplemented by Wiki), along with a prayer of his, some scriptures and a hymn to help us get through this difficult time.

        Biography of St Patrick
        The first evangelist to pagan Ireland was Palladius. He was sent there in 431, about five years before Patrick went. Patrick was from what is now Dumbarton, Scotland (just northwest of Glasgow). When he was 16 years old, in about the year 405, he was captured in a raid and became a slave in Ireland. Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager. Even though his grandfather had been a priest, and his father a town councilor, Patrick “knew not the true God.” But forced to tend his master’s sheep in Ireland, he spent his six years of bondage mainly in prayer. After six years of captivity he heard a voice telling him that he would soon go home, and then that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he travelled to a port, two hundred miles away, where he found a ship and with difficulty persuaded the captain to take him.

        After returning home to Britain, Patrick continued to study Christianity and eventually became a priest. Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:
        I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish.” As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea-and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”
        This was his Macedonian call (read Acts 16:6-10), which in turn is the basis for the first line of the old hymn we used to sing, “We have heard the Macedonian call today, Send the Light, send the light.”

        Patrick was in his mid-40s when he returned to Ireland. Palladius had not been very successful in his mission, and the returning former slave replaced him. Intimately familiar with the Irish clan system (his former master, Milchu, had been a chieftain), Patrick’s strategy was to convert the chiefs first, who would then convert their clans through their influence. Reportedly, Milchu was one of his earliest converts. “Never before did they know of God except to serve idols and unclean things. But now, they have become the people of the Lord, and are called children of God.” He baptized thousands. Though he was not solely responsible for converting the island, Patrick was the one primarily responsible for bringing the Christian faith to Ireland.

        St. Patrick’s Breastplate
        This is a powerful prayer of Protection, also known as The Deer’s Cry. It is attributed to Saint Patrick of Ireland.
        The story goes that Saint Patrick sang this after an ambush had been laid against him, to prevent him from going to a certain community to spread the gospel. It is said the man lying in ambush did not see Saint Patrick and his monks as they passed by, but rather wild deer with a fawn following them (thus the name the Deer’s Cry). That Gaelic phrase might mean, however, a mist of concealment.
        The prayer calls for Christ’s protection using a lorica (shield or breastplate), from which it derives its name, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”. This is based on Ephesians 6:10-20 (“God’s shield to protect us … from snares of devils”). This prayer recognizes the spiritual battle between good and evil and thus the importance of praying for protection on a daily basis.

        I encourage you to read and reflect upon Ephesians 6:10-20, and maybe even discuss it with your family, and then pray the following prayer; because we do not arise today, or any other day, by our strength but by His.
        I arise today
        through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
        believing in the threeness,
        and confessing the oneness,
        of our Creator of creation.
        I rise today
        in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
        in the power of his crucifixion and burial,
        in the power of his rising and ascending,
        in the power of his descending and his judging….
        I rise today
        in heaven’s might,
        in sun’s brightness,
        in moon’s radiance,
        in fire’s glory,
        in lightning’s quickness,
        in wind’s swiftness,
        in sea’s depth,
        in earth’s stability,
        in rock’s fixity.
        I rise today
        with the power of God to pilot me, with
        God’s strength to sustain me,
        God’s wisdom to guide me,
        God’s eye to look ahead for me,
        God’s ear to hear me,
        God’s word to speak for me,
        God’s hand to protect me, …
        God’s shield to defend me,
        And God’s host to deliver me,
        from the snares of devils,
        from evil temptations,
        from nature’s failings,
        from all who wish to harm me,
        far or near, alone and in a crowd.
        Around me I gather today all these powers
        against every cruel and merciless force
        that would attack my body and soul….

        In 1889 this poem was adapted into a hymn entitled I Bind Unto Myself Today. There are many versions of this on You Tube, but here is one version that you can use for your meditation and worship today – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH4ToVxtn9A.

        Pastor Callum
        March 17, 2020