Weekly Devotion

August 5, 2022

David and Michal
Written by Joseph Warkentin

This summer at youth, we have been doing a lesson series on the life David. This past Wednesday Graham taught a lesson on the passage about David worshiping God in many different ways and Michal disapproving the whole thing.

In 2 Samuel 6:16 it says

“But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.”

I encourage you to read the whole story (2 Samuel 6:14-22) to get the whole picture.

There are two people on this story whose perspectives are very interesting and important to us today. First is David. In this passage he is seen dancing for the Lord in ways that to some might be shameful and embarrassing. I’m sure a lot of people have heard this story before, but it is a good reminder that worshiping God should not be an act, or something we should be ashamed of. It’s easy to be self-conscious when singing, dancing, praying, or any other type of worship. But being like David in this story should be our aim. He was not afraid of looking a little silly, instead he gave his whole being to worshiping God. Remember that everyone worships in different ways and we shouldn’t worry about what others think.

This brings me to the second perspective: Michal. She really got me thinking about myself. How often do we look at others doing things for Jesus and judge them? For me it’s more often than I care to admit. I remember on Soar a few years back, there were some people who were dancing during the worship times. I recall thinking that it was kind of weird. Their dancing wasn’t very “good”, so why would they be doing that? Worship is supposed to be singing, hand raising and MAYBE if you’re good at it, dancing, right? But that’s when I caught myself. Who am I to judge these people? They are worshiping their own way, and for me to think they shouldn’t is crazy! In fact, I should be admiring them for their willingness to forget about what others think and just give their hearts to God in worship.

It is important to remember that worship can be done in a lot of different ways, as long as you are doing it for Jesus. I encourage you to think about if you think this way ever and to catch yourself in the act. It’s hard to not have these types of thoughts running through your head sometimes, but the more conscious we are about it, the better we get at avoiding it. 

Weekly Devotion

July 29, 2022

The Importance of Friendships
Written by Mikayla Doerksen

The past couple weeks at youth the lessons focused on David’s life (not Wiebe, the David in the Old Testament). This week I had the opportunity to talk about David and Jonathan’s friendship. I’ve been excited to go over this because most of my experience in church and in Christian communities only talks about relationships as dating/marriage, or our relationship with God. I have rarely heard people stress the importance of solid friendship and how this is actually a Biblical concept. In my lesson, I pulled several examples from 1 Samuel that highlighted David and Jonathan’s relationship, showing how deeply connected these two men were (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:31; 20:42; 23:17). They strengthened their friendship with a covenant and their actions going forward point to the profound relationship they shared. If you know the story, Saul is chasing after David to kill him and Jonathan (Saul’s son) protected David. David was also chosen by God and appointed to replace Saul as king of Israel instead of Jonathan, and still Jonathan loved David. Jonathan says: “You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you.” These are a few examples of how deep their friendship ran and how highly they valued each other. They defended each other and also honoured God in their relationship. There are several things we can learn from David and Jonathan’s relationship. The first being that friendship is a gift from God. God knew what He was doing when he created the concept of friendship and when we see this as a gift from Him, we will cherish it and put time into fostering good relationships. Another lesson from this story is that true friends love you as they love themselves. This is what we read in 1 Samuel, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” This feels like a tough message to hear because sometimes in friendships we go through difficulties and can’t always be our best to each other. Verses like this motivate me to strive to love my friends through word and deed. A final theme in this story of David and Jonathan shows us that we should seek out friendships that glorify God. Obviously this doesn’t  mean we can’t have friends who aren’t Christians, I have had many friends who are not following Christ and I still love them and spend time with them. But, it is also important to have those friendships with other believers. In the case of David and Jonathan, they both love the Lord and God is a significant part of their friendship. I love knowing that the Bible contains stories like David and Jonathan’s. It emphasizes the significance of friendship and how we are just as much built for this as romantic relationships. God created us to rely upon one another, to celebrate and mourn with one another, to worship Him in community and much more. What a blessing it is to have friends. So keep seeking friendship out, make time for each other, be thankful for friends, love them as yourself, do things for them, and read the story of David and Jonathan, because it truly is a powerful story.  

Weekly Devotion

July 15, 2022

Reflection,
written by Mikaela Rempel
Life is busy and at times it seems overwhelming with all of our many commitments. During these times it is easy for us to forget to take time to just slow down and rest. I know for myself I have struggled with just taking a day where I can just be still and rest in Gods Word. About a month ago I had the privilege of going on a 10 day camping trip to the United States. Throughout my trip I was able to have moments to just be in Gods presence, seeing the wondrous creations that He shaped with just a breath. I was in awe of how trees were just able to form on the side of a cliff. Seeing the roots stretch along the rock face showing us just how long they actually are and how a tree can grow in the most unpredictable places. This is something we don’t normally see as the roots are usually mostly covered by soil. It's miraculous how God can form any living thing in any place if He wants to.  During the trip we faced many different weather conditions. We ended up going on this boat tour to see the cliffs along the islands and while we were on the water the waves became huge reaching the highest point that they would actually travel out on. In Mark 4:39 it says, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” I was reminded of this verse as while we were going around the islands the water suddenly became calm again. Through nature and weather conditions we can see Gods hand at work throughout it all. This trip was a reminder to me that I should take time to rest and be still. To go for a walk and just talk with God about what’s going on in my life. Being able to go out and experience all that God has breathed into existence and seeing the beauty in it, reminding us of all the many ways God has blessed us. Sometimes I find it can be easy to forget about all the many blessing in my life. I encourage you to take some time away from your busy schedule and escape into nature or do something that you enjoy, but don’t always make time for.  

Weekly Devotion

July 8, 2022

written by Joe Warkentin

This summer as church staff we are reading and discussing the book “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth”. This past week the chapter was about properly interpreting the Bible, and then applying it to ourselves today in the right way. This is also known as exegesis and hermeneutics. These two aspects are very important when reading the Bible, and how we go about applying these practices can completely change what we get out of the Bible.

One thing that stood out to me, and I wanted to share, was that there are many pieces of scripture that we choose to follow and other parts that we deem as something that only applies to people back when the book was written and the people they were written to. The chapter was mainly focusing on the Epistles, specifically 1st Corinthians. The biggest rule that was given was that “the text cannot mean what it could never have meant to its author or original readers”. This is an important thing to think about when reading the Bible. Sometimes we try to interpret scripture in a new and unique way. The problem with this is that lots of the time, the most common interpretation is the most common and most accepted for a reason. Finding a new and unique interpretation can lead us to coming to conclusions that could never have worked for the original author or audience.

The other thing we tend to do is take some commands to heart and disregard others, deeming them as old and out dated. One example of this “the problems that many traditional churchgoers had with the “Jesus people” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Long hair on boys had already become the symbol of a new era in the hippie culture of the 1960s. For Christians to wear this symbol, especially in light of what Paul argues with the believers in Corinth, “Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him?” (1 Cor 11:14, RSV), seemed like an open defiance of God himself. Yet most who quoted this text against the youth culture allowed for Christian women to cut their hair short (despite v. 15), did not insist on women’s heads being covered in worship, and never considered that “nature” came about by a very unnatural means — a haircut.” We tend to take one command and then throw out others. While it is very hard to read the bible perfectly like you should all the time, I encourage you to think specifically about these things during your devotion time. Are there certain interpretations and hermeneutics that you choose to believe but are missing something very important because of it? It’s a hard thing to think about and work around, but it is an important thing in order to understand the word of God as best as possible.  

Weekly Devotion

July 2, 2022

Mercy and Freedom, written by Hannah Wiens

This summer I have been reading through the book of Isaiah. Though not always an easy book to understand, I find the words of God through Isaiah incredibly fascinating, compelling, and at times, rather confusing. In one chapter, imminent violence and destruction are prophesied over a city or nation. In the next chapter, peace, restoration, and forgiveness are prophesied, sometimes over the same city or nation. The tone of Isaiah seems to be constantly going up and down. This is perhaps partially because the book is a compilation of Isaiah’s writings and prophecies– it was not originally written all at one time in a streamlined fashion. Another possible explanation behind the “mood swings” of this book is that this is a reflection of two sides of God’s character: He is a God of justice, and a God of mercy.

Sin cannot go unpunished, and therefore God’s justice and wrath will rain down in order to bring justice where it is needed. However, God also “waits to be gracious…[and] exalts himself to show mercy to you.” (Isaiah 30:18). When I was younger, reading these seemingly-contradictory characteristics of God were confusing to me. How can God be both intolerant of all sin but also merciful and forgiving? The key to understanding these two characteristics, and the entirety of the book of Isaiah, is Jesus. Jesus, wholly man and wholly God, sacrificed Himself to atone for the sins of the whole world. Because Jesus has taken on God’s wrath and punishment for sin, we who repent of our sins believe in Him are fully forgiven and free from fear.

Growing to understand this radical idea has changed my reactions to the book of Isaiah and other books like it. Because we have been forgiven, we do not have to fear wrath like the Israelites did when they broke the law of God. And when I read things about God’s character, such as: “He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you” (Is 30:19), I can trust that these words are true.

In Jesus’ name there is freedom, forgiveness, and mercy that is new every morning. Praise Jesus that we can rest in this truth rather than fear condemnation when we stumble. 

Weekly Devotion

June 24, 2022

In the Middle,
Written by Mikalya Doerksen

A few weeks ago I participated in a one-week intensive class at CMU with the Canadian School of Peace Building. The course was called Theological Perspectives on Trauma and Healing, and this week was full of many conversations, learning, and new perspectives. We talked in depth about various areas of trauma, such as the effects of war, racism, intergenerational trauma, religious abuse, reproductive trauma and many others. There were several people in the class who shared their own experience in some of these areas and expressed how they have and continue to work through their traumatic experiences. When I went into the class on Monday, the lyrics from this song came to mind, “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” My hope for the week was that my eyes would be opened and heart softened for those who have experienced trauma, learning how to walk alongside each person at their own pace. In the later portion of the week we focused on healing and how Christ was part of this journey. A helpful part for me was reading Shelly Rambo’s book, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining. Rambo exposes the lack of support for survivors of trauma in the church and also wrestles with the concept of remaining. This means not glossing over the painful experiences that people experience and learning to live in this in-between. Rambo also makes the connection of trauma to the death and resurrection of Christ. She mentions that in looking at Christ’s life, many Christians will gloss over the time in between Jesus’ death and resurrection. By skipping past those dark and difficult days, this may send the message to trauma survivors that it is easy to move into the happiness of resurrection. There can be breakthrough and healing by remaining in the middle of trauma. Rambo says, “The good news of Christianity for those who experience trauma rests in the capacity to theologize the middle.” Rather than solely focusing on the events before and after, we must learn to remain in the middle, understanding that many people who live with trauma find themselves in this place often. I am beyond grateful for this experience and I will continue to learn how to remain in the midst of my own difficult times, but also in the hardships of others. As the church we should be a place that people can safely come and work through their trauma. Philippians 2:4, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

June 10, 2022

Weekly Devotion

Live
Written by Mikaela Rempel

What does it truly mean to live your life for God? I’d argue that one of the most important things is living your life to the fullest and bearing fruit. Now you may ask what is required to lead a life like this. A big factor that plays into how we live is what we decide to focus our attention on. A wise man once told me that “The things we focus on get bigger” (Volle, Steve). They get so big that they start to consume all our thoughts and affect how we act and therefore live our lives. This can be dangerous as there are so many bad things in the world threatening to pull us down and once our attention is caught it can be hard to get out of this unhealthy pattern.

Surprisingly enough, how we live our lives is entirely our choice as we are given the freedom to live the way we choose! How we choose to spend our time and who we surround ourselves with will shape who we become. “Choosing to spend my time differently freed my mind from thinking of the things I used to worry about.” (Live: Robertson, Sadie) You have the power to change how you are living your life. However, it is very important to check that your heart and actions align. For example if you are constantly praying that someone will help out the poor, but you yourself aren’t willing to donate, volunteer, etc. then are your heart and actions on the same wave length?

Part of living is serving. Service can be done in so many different ways depending on what your strengths are. For some people they are able to give to a cause by donating and make a mission possible. Others it may be volunteering in big or small ways, honestly anything makes a difference. Another one is being a light in someone’s life and encouraging them when they are down.

If some one asked me what it felt like for me to live for God, my answer would be when it feels like God is shinning through me, not me shining through me. Times when I am happiest is when I’m at the Church surrounded by friends who have become family. Serving not because I have to, but because I truly find joy in it! Getting involved in an encouraging community where I am surrounded by loved ones is how I choose to live.

If I am being honest the journey to living for God is hard. One thing that always helped me was to remember that even when the world is constantly changing around us that God remains CONSTANT. He will never change, He will always stay the same. 

June 10, 2022

Weekly Devotion

Showing People Jesus
Written by Joe Warkentin

We have all heard our whole Christian lives that we should be more like Jesus. That we should live our lives aiming to resemble everything that Jesus is. And this is a sizeable task. Jesus was sinless after all, and we are far from that. But what does it even mean to be like Jesus? It’s hard to know even where to start sometimes. Since the start of the church, there have been so many people hurt by us, by the people who are supposed to be supportive of the broken. There have been a lot of people leaving the church because of these pains, especially those who don’t share all our exact beliefs. And who can blame them? When you’ve been hurt by a group, why would you hang out there anymore? What I wish I could tell all these people is that they weren’t hurt by Jesus. They were hurt by earthly people who have our own problems, just like everyone else. If you look at the secular world’s view of the church, it can be quite off from what we would want it to be. Many issues make the news or get brought up in the community. And the truth is that it sucks. Of course we wish that our reputation was exactly what we wanted. But even if it was, would that be the same as what Jesus wants? Now, all this downer news isn’t for nothing, I promise! The thing is, the church has done a historically poor job of being like Jesus, and obviously, as broken humans, we can never quite get there. But it’s our job to try. And don’t get me wrong, we have had many successes. The church has done many great things and brought so many people to the Father. Even Westwood Community Church has an awesome place in this community. Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Being Christ-like begins with love. Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people after all! My challenge for myself and all of you this week is to think about how you can better show Jesus through your words and actions, particularly to people who don’t know Christ, don’t share all the same beliefs as you, or are having/have had a tough time with the church. One of the most important parts of Christianity is the community we have as a church. So let’s show people who Jesus is and who He propels us to be. 

June 2, 2022

Weekly Devotion

Lukewarm Faith
Written by Hannah Wiens

Every Christian must reckon with the dilemma of how to live that glorifies Christ within the unique time and place they happen to live in. The Bible is the Christian’s guide in life, but it certainly is not written as a step-by-step instruction manual on specifically how to live as a Christian in Canada in 2022.
In sermons, lectures, books, and more, we often hear that in North America there is a pandemic of lukewarm Christianity. The term, “lukewarm” is often used to describe Christians who have become unfruitful or apathetic in their faith, whether this is seen through their immediate actions or their life choices.
The Christian understanding of “lukewarm” comes from Revelation 3:15-16, where through the author, Jesus says:
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” These words were originally written as a challenge for the early church of Laodicea, a city in modern-day Turkey. However, these words are certainly convicting and perhaps even unnerving to us today.
One of my greatest fears as a Christian is that my life choices will somehow lead me into an apathetic or lukewarm faith. As I am considering different careers, cities to live in, universities to attend, etc. this idea is always in the back of my mind. Is one career or a certain amount of education more spiritual than others? What if I make the wrong choice? As I have been wrestling through these questions this week, I feel that the Spirit has laid two reassurances on my heart. First, He has reminded me to simply trust.
This morning as I was reading Isaiah 7, verse 9 simultaneously struck me and deeply encouraged me. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says to Israel: “if you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”
Regardless of where we are in life, we must continually and wholeheartedly trust in our saviour, who is founder and finisher of our faith. A career, spouse, lifestyle, or anything else cannot be trusted to continually fulfill us or grow our faith; only the Holy Spirit can do this in us.
Second, I have been reminded to live with my eyes constantly open. As Christians, we are called to take action, express love, and advocate for justice. It is possible to do these things regardless of where we are, but we must have our eyes wide open to see the needs and possibilities around us, because they will always be there. These two encouragements are relatively simple, but they hold immense weight and are indeed life-changing.

June 2, 2022

Lukewarm Faith (continued.)
We have all heard our whole Christian lives that we should be more like Jesus. That we should live our lives aiming to resemble everything that Jesus is. And this is a sizeable task. Jesus was sinless after all, and we are far from that. But what does it even mean to be like Jesus? It’s hard to know even where to start sometimes. Since the start of the church, there have been so many people hurt by us, by the people who are supposed to be supportive of the broken. There have been a lot of people leaving the church because of these pains, especially those who don’t share all our exact beliefs. And who can blame them? When you’ve been hurt by a group, why would you hang out there anymore? What I wish I could tell all these people is that they weren’t hurt by Jesus. They were hurt by earthly people who have our own problems, just like everyone else. If you look at the secular world’s view of the church, it can be quite off from what we would want it to be. Many issues make the news or get brought up in the community. And the truth is that it sucks. Of course we wish that our reputation was exactly what we wanted. But even if it was, would that be the same as what Jesus wants? Now, all this downer news isn’t for nothing, I promise! The thing is, the church has done a historically poor job of being like Jesus, and obviously, as broken humans, we can never quite get there. But it’s our job to try. And don’t get me wrong, we have had many successes. The church has done many great things and brought so many people to the Father. Even Westwood Community Church has an awesome place in this community. Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Being Christ-like begins with love. Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people after all! My challenge for myself and all of you this week is to think about how you can better show Jesus through your words and actions, particularly to people who don’t know Christ, don’t share all the same beliefs as you, or are having/have had a tough time with the church. One of the most important parts of Christianity is the community we have as a church. So let’s show people who Jesus is and who He propels us to be. Written by Joe Warkentin

We have all heard our whole Christian lives that we should be more like Jesus. That we should live our lives aiming to resemble everything that Jesus is. And this is a sizeable task. Jesus was sinless after all, and we are far from that. But what does it even mean to be like Jesus? It’s hard to know even where to start sometimes. Since the start of the church, there have been so many people hurt by us, by the people who are supposed to be supportive of the broken. There have been a lot of people leaving the church because of these pains, especially those who don’t share all our exact beliefs. And who can blame them? When you’ve been hurt by a group, why would you hang out there anymore? What I wish I could tell all these people is that they weren’t hurt by Jesus. They were hurt by earthly people who have our own problems, just like everyone else. If you look at the secular world’s view of the church, it can be quite off from what we would want it to be. Many issues make the news or get brought up in the community. And the truth is that it sucks. Of course we wish that our reputation was exactly what we wanted. But even if it was, would that be the same as what Jesus wants? Now, all this downer news isn’t for nothing, I promise! The thing is, the church has done a historically poor job of being like Jesus, and obviously, as broken humans, we can never quite get there. But it’s our job to try. And don’t get me wrong, we have had many successes. The church has done many great things and brought so many people to the Father. Even Westwood Community Church has an awesome place in this community. Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Being Christ-like begins with love. Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people after all! My challenge for myself and all of you this week is to think about how you can better show Jesus through your words and actions, particularly to people who don’t know Christ, don’t share all the same beliefs as you, or are having/have had a tough time with the church. One of the most important parts of Christianity is the community we have as a church. So let’s show people who Jesus is and who He propels us to be. 

May 29, 2022

Weekly Devotion

Today’s devotional might be a convicting one, but don’t hear me wrong, this message is mostly one to myself and hopefully it will be beneficial for you as well. Earlier this week I read something that author and speaker, Jackie Hill Perry wrote. The quote reads,
                                                                                                                                                            “Prayerlessness is almost always a humility issue. We’d like to believe that we don’t pray because of busyness or that we just lack discipline and need to “do better”. At the end of the day though, we’re just a proud bunch. Pride deludes us into thinking we’re self-sufficient. That our jobs supply our needs. Our relationships provide comfort. Our intellect and ambition made us successful. But in fact, everything you have is because God rains on the just and unjust. So then, to become more prayerful, we have to be honest. Literally embracing the reality that we are perpetually needy even when it doesn’t feel like it.”                                                                                                                                                                                               
 Reading this hit me extremely hard as I’ve experienced lulls in my prayer life, automatically attaching it to busyness or some other “out of my control” situation. I like to think of myself as someone who isn’t super prideful and I try to remain humble in the various areas of my life, trying to bring the glory to God rather than attributing my success to my own doing. It feels like the blade of conviction has entered into my body, into my heart, reminding me that there is still pride in me as I choose to not pray as much as I should. In not talking to God and praying to Him, I am showing my weakness. My pride. Thinking that I can sustain myself, that all I have comes from my own doing, that blessings are a mere result of MY own actions, this way of thinking affects the type of prayer life I have. My prayer to God is a conversation between us, but also serves as a way of reverence towards Him. Praying to God is a constant reminder that I am unable to go through life without Him, humbling myself before the Creator. The Bible is also clear about prayer and how this should look in the life of a believer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually”. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In the New Testament we often see Jesus retreating from his followers to be with the Father through prayer (Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23). There is much evidence to point towards the importance of prayer in the Bible, but we can also see the power of prayer through our own experiences and the testimonies of others. This quote by Jackie Hill Perry is a convicting reminder of the necessity of prayer and the humility that must come with our conversation with God. I am reminded that me, a sinful being, has the opportunity to be in close relationship with the Lord through conversation and for this I am very grateful. Written by Mikayla Doerksen

May 20, 2022

Weekly Devotion

Overwhelmed 

OVERWHELMED. What a powerful word!   For a long time this word has
been holding so much weight over my everyday life. When will life
calm down so that I can finally feel like I can breath?  Will these anxieties
continue to consume my mind?
How long will I struggle to be excited about the day
and not just look forward to the evening? When you
are feeling these thoughts and going through the
motions, life is OVERWHELMING. 
Whenever I am feeling this way I find myself looking
for  a song that will help me get through this time and
draw closer to God. I remember looking at my playlist
and seeing the song, Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave.
Was this not a sign? The song was literally called Overwhelmed! However, if any of you have actually heard this song you would know that it has nothing to do with being overwhelmed by the world. 

                                            "I hear the sound of Your Voice
                              All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
                                       All that You are is so overwhelming” 

Listening to the lyrics I was flooded with how GREAT God is. Just the thought of God having a gentle and thundering voice. How He can calm any storm making everything still and peaceful. If He can do that with just a word, He can for sure OVERCOME our anxieties and we can find rest in Him! 
The word CAPTIVATED is such an accurate description of what it feels like to truly see and know God. When you really sit, listen and be with God you can feel a sense of comfort and just be at ease knowing that He is in control. 
Through the words in this song I’ve  come to see that when thing seem to be going downhill and life just seems to be too much that I can turn to God.  That just being in His presence can shift my entire frame of mind.  Making me realize that He is so much MORE than any of these feelings the threaten to tear me down.
                                                                                                          Written by Mikaela Rempel 

May 13, 2022

Weekly Devotion

MY SHEPHERD Psalm 23 In 2015 while volunteering in Nazareth, Israel I had the opportunity to be a shepherd for part of a day. Oh, those sheep! There were always one or two in particular that wanted to escape from the flock. So, I would leave the bigger bunch and chase after the escapees. It was not the easiest job by the way!
But this experience reminded me of several things. Amy Peterson (author) had a friend who spent a year as a shepherd in Wyoming. “Sheep are so dumb that they’ll only eat what is right in front of them,” he told her. “Even if they’ve eaten all the grass in front of them, they won’t turn to look for a fresh patch—they’ll just start eating dirt!”
I can’t help but think about how often the Bible compares humans to sheep. No wonder we need a shepherd! But since sheep are so dumb, not just any shepherd will do. Sheep need a shepherd who cares about them. So, what kind of shepherd would you pick if you were a sheep?
We would probably pick one that loves us, protects us, knows what I like to eat, knows where I like to go, cares for me when I am sick, protects me from parasites, predators, & poison weeds, finds me comfortable places to sleep, and if lost would come looking for me.
What if we are wandering in a desert? He has created cool shaded pastures with water. Lost in a dark valley? The Lord created valleys, darkness, but He is not lost (Is. 45:7)
No one knows your troubles? Discouraged? Our Shepherd is omnipresent. Our Shepherd brings you home. He does not leave you to graze outside the door. He loves and cares for you. The Lord loves me when I am good and loves me when I stray. God is love and He will always love me.
The Lord is not “a” shepherd, not “the” shepherd, not “our” shepherd, but He is “MY” Shepherd!
He is my personal shepherd who cares for me and protects me. Sheep do not worry about where its food is for next week, tomorrow or even for the next few minutes. Sheep do not worry about predators, deep water or high places. Sheep rely on the shepherd. Lord, I need you now.
If the Lord is not your Shepherd, then who is? Who or what shepherds you? - Pleasure? 
Money?
Job promotion? 
Fun? 
Sports?
Boss?
Education?
Cell phone?
Knowing the Shepherd gives you satisfaction and contentment. Jesus calls it peace. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT) 

May 6, 2022

Weekly Devotion

Things are finally starting to get back to normal. For the fifth time. Is it for real this time? Will things ever be “normal” again? What does normal even mean? It’s easy to keep longing for what used to be. Weren’t things so much better before the pandemic? It’s hard to live in peace with everything that’s happening. Here’s a quote from songwriter Mike Donehey I found impactful: “The secret to peace is to embrace your current circumstance as if you had chosen it”. There are so many things about “normal” that we have no control over. To make a conscious decision to choose your current situation changes everything. We begin to see glory in places that we had blocked out before due to our longing for the past. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Giving our worries and hopes to Him and embracing the place we are in will give us the peace that isn’t possible without God. So, what should normal mean then? I feel like we talk a lot about “things finally getting back to normal” or maybe about the “new normal”. The thing is circumstances always change. If we constantly live in the past, wishing we could have things like they were in the “good old days”, we will miss so many things flying right past us. I have often found myself wishing things were a certain way, or that I could go back to another place in my life. What I did not realize is that I was in the middle of some great things in the present! There are always good things happening. When we embrace where we are, give our problems to God, and ask Him to open our eye to the glory we couldn’t see, a new perspective is opened, one that allows us to live in and from God’s abundance. So, make the decision to embrace your circumstances as if you had chosen them. Pray that God will open your eyes to the amazing things happening right now.
Written by Joe Warkentin
 

Weekly Devotion

April 30, 2022 

Needs Maslow’s hierarchy of needs came up during my Bible study discussion this past week. We are studying the book of James, with the help of Francis Chan in RightNow Media, and were looking at chapter 4. Chan spoke from Alcatraz, using the empty prison to highlight our ineffective ways of meeting our God-created needs. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:1-3 (NIV) God really has created us with needs that must be filled for us to function as physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy people. Whether we are Christians or not, we recognize these needs, as Maslow did. But as believers in the reality and love of Jesus, we have the ultimate source for ALL these needs. The Bible is FILLED with promises of our Father’s ability and desire to meet our needs. But most often I depend on people and material things to meet these needs. People disappoint and are not perfect; money is fickle and fleeting (especially these days!). I can see the results of depending on these unreliable things: I am heartbroken, anxious, and angry; and so I then disappoint and hurt those around me. As always, I am reminded by scripture and song to depend on the Lord to give me everything I need: You're the way the truth and the life You're the well that never runs dry … Be my all my treasure my prize … Draw me close and teach me to abide. Holy Spirit, remind my wavering heart to reach out to You! You will supply all of my needs according to Your riches in Jesus. You’ve promised me rest when I am weary and burdened. You love me perfectly, even when I do not love you. Your power has given me everything I need to live a godly life. In the storms of life, You are my rock and salvation! You are my treasure. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
Written by Naomi

Maslow Hierarchy Link
 Song:  Abide

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