The four seasons of Winter, spring, summer and fall are used by Ruth Chou Simons in her book Gracelaced to describe the seasons in our lives we all experience and how God woks through all the seasons.
Ruth suggests that to enjoy this series to have a journal and some art supplies. We have done a lot of sharing over our past sessions and to make this one a little different I would like to encourage you to go on a private journey. To tell your story in relation to the different seasons of your life. Where you have been and where you are today. To unwrap the simple truths and maybe more complex ideas that make you who you are today. Using a daily journal and art supplies to jot down a few words, quotes, and story each day over the next four weeks.
Below is an exert from the presentation last week on Spring:-
Next, in the spring we see endless masterpieces in nature so that is our next focus. Ephesians 2:10 reads “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We’re a masterpiece because we’re God’s work of art. A French artist once said, “ Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” That brings to mind Janet’s session when she talked about people drawing themselves and when others drew them their flaws were so very minimized in comparison. They were all beautiful. Art gives form to the most significant stories the artist seeks to tell. Now let’s substitute God. God gives form to the most significant stories God seeks to tell. Remember the saying, “God made me and God doesn’t make any junk!” God is not undecided in His purpose either, says Ruth Simons, citing that watercolor sunsets serve a purpose if only to declare His glory and cause us to praise in our hearts.
She says it so well when she says, ”We weren’t created masterfully so that we might shine brighter than others, look more beautiful in the latest fashions, or make a name for ourselves. We were lovingly created in Christ Jesus for good works designed by God, just for us.”
We all know how important Pruning is in the spring and that is our next key word. You need the Gardener’s extra care and that gardener is God. Just like when you prune a rose bush that destruction and ugly work is the beginning of beauty to come. “Ease, comfort, self-sufficiency, pride, love for self, and inattentiveness to sin will all prevent true growth if left unattended and not pruned.” It seems God lovingly removes those areas that keep us from bearing good fruit and being formed into His likeness. Today’s painful pruning paves the way for tomorrow’s beautiful blooms.
How has God pruned you for good? Have you ever felt “pruned”? (Discussion)
The next word addressed in the book is Mine. In Isaiah 43:1 “I have called you by name, you are mine.” I think the YouTube song, “By Name I have Called You” says it all. Let’s listen and soak in the beautiful pictures.
We’re not just faces among the masses but a chosen one whom God knows by name. He knows your name because He has called you His own. Your name is to be honored just as it is when you say wedding vows. You say ones proper name and no substitute since God knows your name.
How does being known and chosen change the way you commune with God? (Discussion) -more openness, don’t want to let God down etc.
The last word addressed in spring is Everything. It is so appropriate because we feel like we are doing everything in the spring outside and inside. We plant, prune, trim, cut, wash windows, clean carpets, restock the pantry, clean garages and closets and so we just feel like we do everything. We refresh everything, renew and stock up on everything.
Ruth Simons says that it is empowering to have everything you need like when you are baking and you might have ALL the ingredients. However, we often do not feel we have everything when thinking about what it takes to be a mother, a wife, a friend, a homemaker or a professional. We feel lacking in patience or maybe in self-discipline or wisdom and the list of inadequacies goes on and on. BUT…
2 Peter1:3 tells us “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” We may feel we have a few tools missing to be a good spouse, mother or co-worker but “God gives us everything we need because God gives us Himself.” And God is everything! Colossians says we are complete in Him. So we just have to call on those spiritual blessings with prayer, reading scripture and worshipping. Thanks be to God.
Let us bow in prayer:
Loving God, Creator of all seasons, refresh us with Your gift of transformation like the free butterfly. We rejoice that for freedom Christ has set us free. Help us to believe that we have everything we need by trusting and believing in You. Renew us each day and guide our paths in the week ahead. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
The season of Winter has eight chapters to explore , dwell, lean, sufficient, present, ask, broken, rest, good.
Winter – running behind and running on empty, trampled on the hardened earth of a winter season. God calls us to lay down our frantic striving and fears to discover what might be in store for us as we wait, trust, weep, and rest.
Jesus’s character breaks through the harsh cold of the season as He steps in to carry our burdens, reminding us that true rest comes when we rest in Him.
Welcome to a series on the Beatitudes! I used to think if we committed to the 10 Commandments and the 8 Beatitudes our world and our lives would be oh so perfect.
The 10 Commandments, however, are specific rules or laws that worldly punishment brings forth if not followed. They represent the moral law and are commands stated in the negative from the Old Covenant Law.
The Beatitudes have much more to do with attitude as they are the spiritual law. They are the New Covenant Law. All Beatitudes begin with “blessed” as the meaning denotes inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God. They are the qualities of God’s reign that give us God’s peace. All believers are to actually LIVE the Beatitudes and not just occasionally assume the qualities needed to truly live out the word of God. Jesus blessed all those with these qualities as they have a true and pure hearted relationship with God. If we follow them in our living we will have a happy Christian life – rewards that will be ours as loyal followers of Christ.
The Beatitudes are often cited today as words of comfort and hope in messages in church services and also funeral services. These 8 blessings are found in the Bible in Matthew 5:1-12 which is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. They inspire Christians and give guidance. The theologian, Eric Simpson says, “They teach us how to BE at peace, not just be At peace but to become peace so that peace can spread and that peace can come from being rooted both in the life of God and in the physical world.” That makes the Beatitudes essential and relevant today.
The first Beatitude states, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”. The poor in spirit are those who are unassuming, poor in pride and non-judgmental. They have an attitude of humility by humbling themselves before others and before God.
A Garden in Spring
The reflection for today is based on the book a garden in spring which is the introduction to mission work for the Eastern Mennonite Missions organization and the Launch Workshop which is a two-week training course for those going on a mission, a time to reflect on who we are in Christ and how we can show that to others. The job of EMM is to grow and support those interested in short term and long-term missions. They have been in the mission business since the late 1800’s. Started by a group of 12 young, missional minded men of Lancaster Mennonite Conference that by 1914 was known as the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, known today as Eastern Mennonite Missions. Their mission, core values and discipleship philosophy are grounded in scripture, includes spiritual practices, and 14 guiding principles. The group that I shared the launch training with included those involved in a few weeks in an inner-city summer program in New York, a three month medical mission to Africa, which is what I did, a year teaching English as a second language in South America to longer stints in Asia, The Middle East, and Germany. Today we will look at the characteristics required for mission and a successful mission team as part one and in part two at the end of the month we will listen to stories from the mission field.
The mission statement says: “The transforming love of Christ compels us to cross cultures, engage the world, and make disciples of Jesus.” Although going on a mission trip is not where God leads everyone, everyone should be in a growing relationship with God, the first key pillar of discipleship. The things that make a good missionary team can be applied to our lives too. Trying to do this on our own will only result in failure or compromise. We need God’s power to be working in us, and people around us who love, encourage, and keep us accountable to discerning and obeying God’s leading in our lives, pillar two. We want to be personally transformed, as well as see God’s power transform families, communities, and nations. Transformation being pillar 3. And the fruit of this is multiplication, sharing with others the things we have learned, and encouraging them to pass it on to others still, pillar four.
HOPE – The Single-Most Powerful 4-Letter Word
Hi there! I wonder if you’ve ever hoped for something. Hoped so widely and deeply that it felt like you had to use your entire being to perform that single, simple 4-letter word, that short little word that encompasses a magnitude of emotions. The word hope can be fueled by desperation, impossibility, desolation, uselessness, or by soul-numbing reality. Or maybe … you just hoped that your soufflé wouldn’t fall … lol
In Proverbs 13:12 it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” I guess I only believed that if you longed for something so strongly, you needed to make it happen yourself, instead of waiting around for God to do it for you. And I have always lacked the trust and affirmativism to be able to delegate easily, just sayin’ …
In the wee hours of May 5, 2018 I found myself in the passenger seat of an OPP vehicle, driving at warp speed to Victoria Hospital in London, specifically to the Critical Care Trauma Centre, where my daughter by now, had already been in the OR for hours.
The beginning of a journey shared by Betty Ford and her daughter Desiree who created a large group of prayer warriors. Using her Facebook page she asked them to pray, think only positively, and picture Desiree once again dancing. She said in her talk “I asked them to PPP. Pray, Positive, and Picture.”
“Within days my friend count soared from approximately 150 to over 1300, some being perfect strangers, who just wanted to help. I created a “Ford Army” of prayer warriors and positivity professors and people picturing that strong body gracing our lives once again with dance.”
“While we were still in critical care, which lasted 7 weeks, it hit me one day that I was indeed spending each minute of the day ‘hoping’ and that I had not only accepted that word into my vocabulary, but that I had also embraced hope. That day I experienced a feeling of having a huge mass removed from my chest. Hope wasn’t so bad after all. I realized that during those first hours, days, and weeks, when I was feeling like I had nothing left to offer up to God to trade for Desiree’s life, when I was feeling like I had hit rock bottom, the only thing I still had … was hope.”
More information about Betty and her daughter can be found on their website
resilientspirit.ca . Resilient Spirit is their company name and if you need help to find hope in your life or a motivational speaker then reach out to this amazing couple.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job.
The book of Proverbs had two main parts. The first nine chapters contain a discussion between a father and a son. The larger second part is made up of actual proverbs, short observations, encouragements, or prohibitions, that often seem like simple, practical advice. Reading this advice devoid of what they say about our relationship to God is a mistake. Also they need to be applied at the right time and with the added understanding that they are not promises. Proverbs therefore helps us to understand the nature of wisdom as centered in God( theological) and guiding us toward skill in living ( practical), and also toward being a good person which leads not only to individual, but also community flourishing( ethical).
The book of Job provides us with important reminders about life and relationship with God. Life is not easy. Our best attitudes and behaviors, indeed our relationship with God, do not guarantee prosperity in life. That God’s wisdom is greater than our own understanding. These important lessons are also the focus of the third book of wisdom Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes we are reminded to put God first in our lives and then all other things will find their place.
Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for your understanding of where we are in our faith journey and help us to continue to grow in wisdom as we practice our faith in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make in a life time? What time to get up, what to wear, what’s on my to-do list, will I marry, will I have kids, etc.? The answers are not always easy. How important is it to be able to evaluate the options before us in the light of their potential consequences? Every decision we make throughout our lifetime has consequences whether we realize it or not. It would certainly be a benefit to make good decisions. Well, the Bible calls this “ability Wisdom.”
The perfect wisdom of God Enjoy this song before you read on.
In the Bible, it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. There are two kinds of wisdom; one is practical everyday wisdom; but, the other is a type of profound wisdom we find from God.
Fearing God is not something to run away from, but rather, fear is like “awe” or “reverence” in our Creator who is all powerful, and overwhelmingly wise. Many times we would be wise to call on God for His advice. God’s wisdom helps us to navigate through life’s challenges in order to maximize success. God is available 24-7 and is present with us. Just think how much better our decisions will be when we ask for God’s help!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are so quick to make decisions without asking for Your help. Help us to stop and seek Your advice for every decision no matter how small or big that decision might be. We are grateful for Your help because we recognize that You are all powerful and all knowing. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
A child is born!
CrossWalk is going on a road trip December 8th to Grace United Church in Tavistock to attend a Christmas Concert, starting at 7pm. No tickets required. Suggested donation $10 at the door. For those unable to attend use this reflection page to take time out of your day to reflect on this season of Advent. Next week December 15th the series continues with Joy.
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