Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas to you!

Sharing is one of our congregational values.  That means that we give to those in need.  Here are some of the many recent examples:

    •    Our teens will hand deliver 9 baskets of gifts (paid for mostly of their own pockets) on Christmas Eve to children in the Owen Sound Hospital. 
    •    One of our women’s study groups packaged over 10 food hampers and distributed them to shut-ins. 
    •    Our congregation raised over $40,000 toward the resettlement of a refugee family in Hanover.  (And we are now eagerly awaiting the Nassar family’s imminent arrival!)

We are following Jesus into many places and we are doing it together.  But it takes courage and love to make sure we’re sharing with everyone and leaving no one out.
God knows loneliness.  God saw lonely humanity and send His son, Jesus.  He became man in the most generous and selfless act of all time that culminated on the cross.  Jesus moved into town and became a home, welcoming the whole world.

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish. (John 1:14)


Jesus’ generosity extends to all people and His does it best through His people.  Let’s be extra generous this Christmas.  Let’s be generous with our homes and invite people to join us at our tables.  Let’s be generous with our words, saying ‘thank-you’ to helpers.  Let’s be generous with our time and lend a hand or take time to listen.  And let’s be generous with our money so we can see people set free in Jesus’ name.

A very Merry Christmas from our families to yours,


        Pastor Jason, Staff and Ministry Council

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Do Gifts Leave You Feeling Blessed...or Guilty?

by contributing writer Kristen Webb

This is the season for gift giving.

But I have issues with gifts - especially the ones God gives me.

When God gives us gifts they can become tightly held possessions that we love more than God, which is not good. This is something I have been painfully aware of for most of my life; in fact, I am so afraid that I will become too attached to God's gifts that I go the opposite way and don't allow myself to enjoy God's gifts at all.  I thought this attitude was a super spiritual one, but lately I have been realizing that fear is never from God. It also occurred to me that this may be part of the reason I struggle with depression. But more importantly I realized lately that God wants me to enjoy the blessings He gives me.

James 1:17 says "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

I would be pretty offended if I gave my daughter something super awesome for her birthday and she did not want to receive it because she might enjoy it too much. There is a difference between idolizing the gifts God gives - which is wrong - and refusing to receive them at all.

So, how do I find balance, so fear doesn't prevent me from enjoying all of God blessings?

One solution involves focusing on the giver not the gifts. I can do this by remembering to praise God for the gifts He gives instead of getting distracted by the gift alone. It is when I let pride and greed in and I forget about God that I am in danger of sinning; but, if I keep God first in my life, I can enjoy the gifts and not worry about making them too important. For instance, if I get a new sweater as a Christmas gift, it is good to praise God for it and enjoy getting to wear it. Being thankful to God for the gifts is a much better solution than not allowing myself to enjoy the gifts at all. Because the very act of trying to prevent myself from enjoying things causes a lot of despair and frustration. God wants me to be experiencing His joy and peace not despair!

Another way to make sure I don't love the gifts more than God is to make sure I share the gifts. If I am looking for ways to bless others with my gifts then I don't hold the gifts too tightly.

One of God's blessings I have trouble truly enjoying is my horses. I feel guilty that I have them when others who want horses don't have them. But I can share my horses with those people and God can use my horses to bless them. This prevents me from loving my horses more than God because I am willing to share them with whoever He asks me to. Sharing keeps the focus off the gift itself and puts it on God who we are serving with our gifts.

Sometimes I feel a vague feeling of guilt or anxiety when I go to enjoy some of my gifts. Is this because I am actually sinning or just Satan trying to rain on my parade, tempting me with false guilt?  I have learned that I can examine my heart and my actions to determine if I am sinning and not assume if I feel guilty that I have done something wrong.

On a deeper level I think I might be afraid to enjoy God's blessings because in the past some things I have been given have then been taken away and that hurt. I don't know how to deal with the pain of loss so I just prevent myself from getting attached at all. For instance, in the past I have lost some close friends who have rejected me. This caused me to shut down parts of my heart. I have erected walls and limits on how happy I allow myself to feel, as my solution to the pain of loss. Satan has lied to me and told me that to avoid pain I need to not feel pleasure. But I am starting to see that this is a lie. God has other solutions for dealing with the pain of loss - much better solutions!

Without going into too much detail (that will be another blog) what are God's solutions for the pain of loss?

They involve grieving, trusting, and expecting God to comfort and restore.

So I don't need to prevent myself from enjoying the gifts. I can enjoy what God gives me and trust God to heal me and restore me if loss happens.

Jesus said in John 10:10 "the thief (Satan) comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

Trusting God gives me the freedom to enjoy what He gives instead of letting Satan steal my joy.




 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Angry Water Trough

by contributing writer, Kristen Webb

Last Sunday we had a bit of an incident before church. In the past something of this magnitude would have ruined my whole day. So what was different about this time? I handled it God's way and that changed everything!

Some feel that the Bible is an old irrelevant book that has no real bearing on today.  But this "old" book is where I learned the revolutionary new way to respond to unexpected difficulties.

It says in Philippians 4:6-7
"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 transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  
In the past I struggled with anxiety on a good day so if anything went amiss my anxiety would go into hyper-drive.  This just seemed to make the situation I was struggling with worse. I would get stuck in this negative funk that coloured the situation and made me feel hopeless. I played out the worst-case scenario in my mind. Then the complaining and questioning God would begin. Since I was expecting the situation to go badly it did. When you approach challenges with this mindset it causes emotional torture but I think it also affects the outcome of the issue in a very negative way.  My experiences in the past have proven this true.  

On Sunday I approached my issue with a different attitude; the one God asks us to have in Philippians 4:6&7. Sunday morning I got dressed in my church clothes and was just sitting down to relax for a bit when there was a knock on our door. Ashley, who boards horses with us and does the chores on Sunday morning, apologetically informed me that the horse's water bowl was angry and violently overflowing. Her horse, Pal, thought we had done it on purpose and was happily drinking from his personal horse-size water fountain. Regardless of Pal making the best of the situation, this was a bad situation that needed immediate fixing. This is not the first time this automatic heated water trough has malfunctioned. It has won many a battle in the past and even the times I have conquered it I have taken 4 plus hours to wrangle it back into control. Usually I give up and have to call in the big guns: my husband or father. Just the mention of water trough issues is enough to send me into a spiral of anxiety that ends in panic, complaining, and failure.  

But this time God gave me the strength to not go there, and deal with it His way instead. I began with prayer instead of beginning with complaining and frustration.  

In the past I thought I was praying but saying "God please help! I seriously can't believe this happened to me!" and then slipping into self pity and doubting that God would do anything is not really prayer - at least it is not very effective or pleasing to God. But this time I was not praying with a negative attitude. I was able to give control of the situation to God and trust Him to fix it. Trust is so much more fun than anxiety.  Instead of being mad that my water bowl was acting up I thanked God out loud that I was blessed enough to have a heated water bowl for my horses. I think in the past when I was complaining I was giving the devil permission to wreck havoc in my life. By complaining and thinking the worst I was agreeing with Satan instead of agreeing with God. So this time when I agreed with God the "peace that transcends all understanding" that is talked about in Philippians materialized in my heart right there in the middle of my problem. I did not panic this time, I calmly but quickly proceeded to fix the water bowl.  

I knew the first thing I had to do was get the water turned off to the bowl but that was not as easy as it first appeared. I rushed to the basement where the shutoff valve is only to remember that wood was blocking it. This meant I would have to go around the wood furnace and the water heater to the dark spidery area behind to get to the valve. So I rushed up stairs where I searched 3 places before finding the flashlight I needed to crawl behind everything. Then when I was crouching past the water heater I flipped some switch and hot water poured all over me. Each of these complications in the past would have plunged me further into anxiety and panic. But this time I was depending on God not on me and He came through.  The peace that was guarding my heart continued to pour into my spirit and so I just screamed and closed the switch and continued on to the water shut off. I could not remember which way to turn the tap but remembered 'righty tighty, lefty loosey' and got it done. I carefully returned passed the furnace and water heater and ran upstairs. I threw a coat over my wet church clothes and went outside passed the barn to the waiting water trough.
  
A couple days before I had been transferring all my notes from last years day-timer to my new one.  One of the notes was from the last time I had to fix the water trough and it highlighted the mistakes I wanted to not make again! With these fresh in my mind I was able to avoid the pitfalls that had resulted in hours of extra work. In the past I would have got bogged down second-guessing myself and wasted a lot of time deliberating about what to try first. But I thanked God for planting the needed wisdom freshly in my mind.

When I got to the bowl and saw that the float was no longer attached, I did not get stuck, I just confidently reattached the float. I also asked Ashley to help which made it so much easier.  In the past I would have wanted to try to do it myself and that never ended well.  I was not totally sure that I had the float on right but instead of freaking out about it I just left everything else off and first ran down and turned the water back on.

When I returned to the trough and could see that it was all operating well we put the cover back on.  

The last time I tried to fix the trough it had taken me about 4 hours but this time through trusting God instead of being anxious it took 15 minutes. Not only did it get fixed but while fixing it I did not lose my peace. I could victoriously go back inside and change into some dry clothes and be on time for and enjoy church. 

It is crazy that some people think that God and His word are not relevant in our day and age!  In Psalms David said, "with my God I can scale a wall".  I say, "with my God I can calm an angry water trough!"   




 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Proclamation

A report by Gloria Burrow, submitted to the Canadian Bible Society following her experience with Proclamation.

Proclamation is the reading of God’s word aloud in public and in its entirety from beginning to end traditionally over a 10 day period. Reading schedules have been developed integrating Old Testament readings with Psalms & Proverbs and New Testament readings.
[from the Canadian Bible Society website - read more]

The beautiful sanctuary at Carrick Camp

For anyone planning a "Proclamation" in their area, rest assured that it will be well worth every effort, every prayer and tear, and every hour of dedicated planning.

I felt such an urgency to be renewed and refreshed, to learn what God would have to say to me through His Word - not waiting for a year to read it alone in my home - but reading and listening consistently, hour after hour, for the purpose of drawing closer to the Lord.

Rolling through my mind during those long months of preparation was the determination that "come what may", we will accomplish this, even if I needed to do many of the readings myself. Of course, I didn't need to worry since we had almost 300 people sign in to read several times each, and we had a team of approximately 25 strong, willing leaders, who took on various aspects of the 10 day operation.




I marveled at the unity and joy in the preparations. 

Members of the HMC Staff Team spent a morning reading
From 7:00 am - 7:00 pm each day, groups from various churches, family connections, and individual readers came. It was a delight to meet and chat with them and then listen to each of them as they read - noting the strengthening of relationships within these small groups as they focused together on God's Word has been something to ponder and remember.

I believe, for those who participated, God has given new desires and a fresh glimpse of how much we need this daily "road map" - our guide and comfort.

The positive comments are on-going, and very encouraging:

One young man who was reading from Proverbs and had been wrestling with a difficult work-related situation later said, "I got my answer while reading. Now I know how to handle that. I'll let God deal with it."

A young mom who came to read a few times gave her heart and life to Jesus at break-time, and is being nurtured by the gracious lady who prayed with her and was sensitive to her need that day.

An older man came often to read. He and his wife were pillars throughout the 10 days even though they hadn't really planned on it. At the close of our forth day this man quietly confessed to me and a few others that he had doubted this event would be of much value, and in the beginning he thought it would be nothing but a religious exercise and a waste of time. "I was so wrong," he said, with tears running down his face. "God is doing a good work in me and many others."

Every day, one lady drove 45 minutes to be there for 7:00 am and she stayed until it ended at 7:00 pm. If she missed even a few minutes she would record the scriptures she missed and read them at home. She is a very busy lady with a unique ministry but was amazed to realize that the days of Proclamation were not booked on her calendar. She kept them open for the right purpose and was extremely blessed by it. When Proclamation ended she was so thrilled to feel that she had taken in the whole Bible.

Neighbors of the camp, who had known for years it was there but had never attended, signed up to read. Later we met some of them at the Sunday evening concerts at the camp during the summer at the camp. It was a beautiful setting and great exposure for the ministry of Carrick Camp.

A man who had already read with a group came back later in the middle of his work day and said he just "had to" sign up to read again.

So, all we can say is that God's Spirit was truly at work.

The Festival of Praise - mostly music and our community choir - was an amazing climax with about 200 people present. This also gave opportunity for many to share financially, adequately covering expenses and providing a generous donation to the camp and to the Canadian Bible Society.


The Name of Jesus is the Name about all names and praise God, His Word is true and powerful!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Waiting ~ a sermon response

Is waiting agony for you? For most of my life it has been torture for me. Last Sunday, the sermon shed some light on why being left hanging has been so hard in the past: the way I was handling waiting was all wrong and I was sabotaging God's solutions.

In the last few weeks God has been specifically teaching me about this area of waiting. The topic of the sermon was waiting and what Pastor Jason had to say lined up perfectly with what God had already been teaching me. I love it when God's Spirit arranges for confirmation!

So what was it in this weeks sermon that was so helpful?

First of all, while waiting we need to embrace our vulnerability. In the past I have been ashamed to admit my areas of vulnerability; but I recently experienced the difference being humble and honest can make.

Last week we had a truck incident. The dash display died, the engine light came on and it would not shift into reverse or park. We took it in to find out what was wrong and what it would cost to fix it. I don't know how you respond when your vehicle breaks down but this is not a situation where I normally shine. It's frustrating to have an unexpected bill thrust upon me and I do not handle it well.

This particular bill was $1500 just for parts with labour on top of that. Yikes!

In the past I freaked out about car repairs because I was never prepared for them. I would whine to God about why He would allow our car to need repairs when He knew I would have to get the money out of the line of credit. I was managing my life unreasonably, hoping nothing would happen instead of planning for the chance that it might. I think my coping technique of denial was a rather poor choice. I was denying that it was my weakness of not planning ahead that had me in such a pickle.

God convicted me about half a year ago of this very fact. Since then we have been paying into a vehicle fix fund each month.  So this time, when my display went kaput, I was not as stressed as I usually am because I had saved some money to have it fixed.

I had faced my weakness and allowed God to correct it.


However, I am sad to say that this time, at the mention of $1500 I still freaked out. That is a huge amount of money - way more than was in the vehicle-fix fund. It was then that I applied Point #2 from the sermon: Search for God.

In the past, when something bad happened, my habit was to whine to God. (I probably don't have to tell you that whining is really ineffective when it comes to finding solutions to problems.) This time, I stopped the fit of questioning fear and evil foreboding. I gave the problem to God and then waited for Him to come through.

It is pure agony if we wait in a state of anxiety, imagining all kind of horrendous things that might happen. I had to admit that my own weakness of responding in this manner was not making waiting a good time for me. The problem has never been that God was taking too long to answer - the problem was me.  I seem to be saying that a lot lately! So I admitted to God that I was having a problem with worry, fear and hopelessness when it comes to owing huge amounts of money to fix my truck. Admitting my vulnerability again.

Why did I respond automatically with fear and anxiety when faced with a problem?  I was obviously having trouble trusting God or I would have been experiencing His peace.

It says in James that when we ask God for wisdom we should not doubt or we will not receive from God. Could my doubt not only be causing misery while waiting but also preventing me from receiving God's answer? In the past, when it seemed like God didn't come through, those were all times when I was doubting that He could or would help me.

God was not silent just for the heck of it. My doubt was preventing me from hearing His answer.  

Again the problem was me!

This time I examined myself. Why do I feel like God will not answer me? Why do I fear the answer and feel like God has awful things in store for me? I am not expecting God to do good things just to do things that will "develop my character" and that I will barely make it through. (Wow, writing that down really shows how silly a thought that is.)

Search for God.  I realized I had not been finding or trusting the true God. The God I was serving was not like the God described in the Bible. Where did I get such a negative view of God? Satan had whispered a load of lies into my ear and I had bought them - hook, line and sinker. If you think God is out to get you than waiting certainly is not a happy place to be. So again, the problem is me and my wrong view of God.

But the solution is easy - search for the real God and get reacquainted. Getting to know the real God blew my fear and anxiety out of the water and then, with faith, I was able to ask for wisdom - and God answered!

I gave God my truck and control of the whole situation. I renounced fear that I might be disappointed and decided to try faith for a change. I did not spend hordes of energy trying to figure it all out first so I could let God know how to fix it. In the past my bossiness would often lead to disappointment when God did not fix it the way I wanted Him to. I put the Creator of the universe in a box I created with my limited brain - not my most shining moment!

From now on I don't want to limit Him at all, which is why I give Him total control of the truck situation. My job is to joyfully trust God to sort my life out and to do what He tells me. I don't need to feel shame that I can't fix it because my need just sends me to God who is the strong one anyway.

That way God gets the glory. Which is how it should be.

I searched for God and when I found the right, true One I trusted that He was working on the situation and that He would work His plans for good. Being free from anxiety and fear made waiting so much more fun! In fact, waiting was not even an issue because the outcome was not something to fear but something to look forward to.

So what was God's answer? How did God help us with our truck? It is a good thing I did not try to figure it out because vehicles are really out of my realm. God gave the answer to my husband, who was able to order a used part on-line and put it in himself. We were able to cover it with the money we had saved so far in the vehicle repair fund. God is good! Trusting instead of worrying while waiting really is better for our stress levels! God meets our needs! No wonder Satan has been lying to me for so long. He is the thief who comes to steal and destroy. Jesus came that I might have life and have it to the full!!


 Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith

Waiting - Sermon video



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