Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Hope of Glory

Yesterday was a "jail" day. I spent the afternoon at Fraser Valley Institution doing my weekly Bible study in the maximum security unit and then had a meeting with the chaplain and the inmates on the chaplaincy committee. We're planning to show the movie The Nativity one evening next month for all of the women incarcerated there.

In the evening I went to the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women for my bi-weekly visits with several of the inmates through M2W2 (see link for more info). As always it was a blessing and always God showed up. I met with three women, one I've been visiting for six months now, and two that I have only visited once before. Each visit was amazing and each woman was amazing too; every one of them is a follower of Christ. Some people find it difficult to believe that anyone who knows Christ could end up serving jail time, but most of the women I've met in the penitentiaries have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. They may not be walking with Him, but they know Him. Part of my "assignment" is to point them back to God and encourage them to pray and read their Bibles every day. During each visit I pray with them and God is always faithful to answer our prayers and to demonstrate His love and His care in amazing ways that let them know that He truly is there for them.

I've seen big changes in L since I first met her six months ago. At that time her thinking was still "stinking"; she was still caught up in the insanity and denial of addiction and she did not possess much wisdom for making healthy decisions pertaining to her future. However, as she's turned her life over to God more and more, her mind is being renewed. Last night she told me that she prayed and surrendered her life and all of her circumstances to God. Yay! And very soon she will be going to trial and may be released into the care of the kind and loving staff at Teen Challenge. Praise God!

D is another story. She's going to be released very soon as well. Her release will probably be conditional - she will have to go into treatment for drug addiction. That's good and proper, but she wants to be able to live at home and do her treatment through a day program. That would probably set her up to fail since she will be returning home to a partner who is a drug dealer. That's what I mean by the insanity and denial of addiction. D hasn't got enough clean time and hasn't strengthened her relationship with God enough to have had a change of heart and mind. She wants to stay clean and sober, but her desire is not strong enough to resist the temptations that are going to be all around her if she tries to do her treatment while living at home. I pray that God will guide her to the right treatment facility - she was talking about a very good Christian one - where she can recover in safety and protection, away from the influence of the drug culture.

Then there's A. She's a ray of light - Christ's light - but doesn't know it yet, although there is hope in her heart. She's been about as far down and as far out as you can go in addiction. The ravages of street life still show in her face and on her body, but there is also a beauty and an intelligence that shines through. During her last relapse, God gave her several visions of hell that were so real. She says it is horrible beyond anything we could ever imagine. These visions have helped her; she wants to walk with God and I believe that He has a wonderful plan to use her for His Kingdom purposes. She has gifts and abilities that He can use to rescue others from the brink of hell, and her brightness and intelligence will help her to learn quickly all that He wants to teach her.

It amazes me how God uses broken down "worthless" people (like me) to work out His plan of salvation. And I'm so thankful that He sends me to encourage women who find themselves cast out, and thrown on the garbage heap of society. There is a "poverty of spirit" present in these women that causes them to be open to God, and that allows God's power to come to bear in their circumstances: "Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven".

Thankfully, God looks beyond what we see with our eyes and values those who seem to have no use or no worth according to our wordly standards. A verse from When It's All Been Said and Done, a song that Robin Mark recorded, comes to my mind as I write this and I'll close with its lyrics. But first I ask you to please pray for these three women and for all the other valuable souls who find themselves in prison today. God loves each one of them and has a plan for each of their lives. May they come to know His love in all the fullness of its power to heal and transform lives. Thank you.

Lord, Your mercy is so great
That You look beyond our weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
turning sinners into saints

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Peace is a word we often use as a greeting or as a closing in our letters and our conversations. When I was a young hippie wannabe, I heard that word a lot. Now as a Christian I read it in the bible and say it numerous times every day, most often in my prayers for other people. What is it about peace that causes us to desire it and to pray for it for ourselves and for others?

According to the dictionary, the word peace means: the cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension; freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, obsession, etc.; a state of tranquillity or serenity. Peace is a state of rest - of true rest, not just bodily rest but of "soul rest"; and it is state of rest or tranquility that every one of us longs for.

From my experience, lasting peace is found only in God. One of the names used for Jesus in the Bible is Prince of Peace, and on the night He was born the "heavenly host" proclaimed and rejoiced that peace had come to the earth. Jesus truly is the Prince of Peace but His experience of life on earth was anything but peaceful. He endured suffering and humiliation and torture and death on a cross, but He did it all so that we who choose to follow Him could have peace. Peace of mind. Peace of heart. Freedom from fear, anger, worry, strife. Those of us who know Jesus and are "in Christ" can dwell in this state of tranquility and rest "that transcends all understanding" every day because He overcome the world and won that peace for us. That doesn't mean that we don't experience difficulties in our lives but that even in the midst of our difficulties we can have and experience peace.

I'm thankful that today peace reigns in the Women of Hope house because the Prince of Peace dwells and reigns in every heart here. Thank You, Jesus, that you loved us enought to pay the price to set us free from sin and fear and strife. Thank You for Your peace that passes all understanding.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 20:27

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


My weekly Bible study in the maximum security unit at Fraser Valley Institution for women, and the launch of our monthly "Spiritual Cinema" evenings featuring the movie "Jesus," have been interrupted and postponed this week because of several lockdowns that have happened at the prison. To say there is "unrest" among the inmates is to put it lightly. I only receive as much information as I need to so I don't exactly know what the cause of the upheaval is, but I would be grateful if you would join me in prayer for the women and the staff at this federal institution. May God's peace reign in that place and in the hearts of every person there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Of Love and Unity

(an article for St. Simon's Newsletter)

While on retreat for several days recently, I was blessed to come upon the book Revelation of Love which is an account of the visions and the spiritual writings of Julian of Norwich, a young, devout Christian woman who shut herself up in two small rooms adjacent to a church for several years in order to experience and communicate with God. As the title suggests, Julian relates her revelations of God’s intimate and extravagant love for us, and since I was feeling spiritually dry and desperately hungry to draw closer to God, the book was like water to my soul.

Julian makes clear to the reader that she was not given these visions and revelations because she was more loved by God than anyone else; she insists that these communications were given for the benefit of the whole Body of Christ. From what I read, the following sentences impacted me most:

When I look to myself as a single individual, then I am nothing. But all my hope comes from being united in one love with all my fellow Christians. For on this unity the life of all that shall be saved depends.

That last sentence hit me like a spiritual thunder bolt; the life of all that shall be saved depends on the church being united in love! I was immediately convicted and moved to repent and then to passionately intercede on behalf of the church in Canada. From a human perspective unity may seem quite hopeless at this time in church history, but thankfully our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. Jesus’ last passionate prayer before going to the Cross was that we would be ONE as He and the Father are ONE. The unity of the church was His priority in those last moments with His Father.

If unity in the church is so important to God that it was the last prayer Jesus prayed before going to His death, I believe that as Jesus did we too should pray fervently and passionately for unity in the Body of Christ in our nation and worldwide. As we abide in Jesus, we become more like Him. As we love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, as Jesus instructed us to do, we sense God’s heart and know His thoughts, and He gives us all the grace and power we need to do whatever He is calling us to do – even becoming “united in one love with all (our) fellow Christians”.

Julian of Norwich took all her hope from this unity in love; I believe we must do the same. Romans 8 tells us that God’s plan is for all of creation to be set free from bondage and decay and to come into glory at the revealing of the “sons of God”. That means it’s going to happen and from that we can take our hope! As a single individual I am nothing, but, together, the sons of God can change the world! Hallelujah!

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
2 Peter 1: 3-7

Captain Catherine Morris

Church Army Canada

All Heaven Rejoices

It is such a privilege to be in a position of trust and confidence in the hearts and lives of the women who live at the Women of Hope house. Most of us, staff and residents included, have been wounded over the years and have lived outside of God's care and protection as a result. But, the good news is that no matter far we stray and no matter how long we resist His gentle persuasions of mercy and grace, God never gives up on us. As Revelation 3:20 states, Jesus is at the door, knocking. He doesn't just show up one time and one time only, He patiently waits for us to come to that place where we are ready to reach out to Him and open the door an allow Him in.

Recently, Sarah, who's lived at the house for about 10 months opened the door and invited Jesus in. It's a miracle, really! She had many ideas and beliefs that conflicted with what the gospels teach us about who Jesus is and what He has done, and because of old wounds she found it difficult to trust. But gradually God, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit - and perhaps with the help of the DVD version of the Gospel of John (incredible word for word interpretation featuring Henry Ian Cusick who brilliantly portrays Jesus) - she is learning to trust and has set aside her need to understand with her mind and become a woman of faith, believing with her heart. Already there is a pronounced change in her countenance and in her relationships with herself, with God and to others.

Witnessing the power of God at work healing and transforming Sarah comforts and inspires me to greater faith as well. I remember all that He's done for me and in me, which is good because lately I seem to be focussed on the "un-transformed" parts of me instead of on the transformed ones. While some changes are immediate when we invite Jesus to come in, there is also a gradual process of healing and change as well. Paul instructs his converts in Philippians 2:12-13, to work out their salvation with fear and trembling "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Thankfully, as Paul teaches, we have God to help us and to guide us as we work out our salvation. It is He who heals us and transforms us, though we have work to do too.

God is good all the time and I'm so blessed to be able to witness to His goodness towards me and in the lives of others. "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Revelation 5:13

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Constraint and English comedy troupes

I think it was the episode of Black Adder where his fanatical Puritanical Christian aunt and uncle come to visit Edmund on the very night he is hosting a drinking contest, interrupting a night of great debauchery. Or was it a scene in Monty Python's movie The Life of Brian? Anyhow, I remember a comedic scene from some show or movie where the phrase: "The love of Christ constrains us" (2 Corinthians 5:14) was being repeated over and over again by fanatical Christians. I also remember laughing in agreement at how stupid they seemed. But now that I actually know the love of Christ, I think I could probably repeat that phrase over and over myself with conviction and not find it humorous - except for the memory of the silliness I witnessed on television.

It is knowing Christ's love that has brought about an amazing transformation in me that only my family and my former church family in Duncan BC have truly witnessed. And since I came to know Christ's love 8 years and one month ago, I can say in all honesty, that His love constrains (controls) me. In a previous post I spoke about God's love and how I would do anything for Him because He loves me. So I suppose this post is a little redundant because being constrained by Christ's love means that in almost everything I do and in every decision I make, I consider how my actions will affect my relationship with Jesus Christ and God, my Father. And I consider how they will affect others as well, but mainly because I know that God cares deeply about how I treat other people who are beloved by Him.

I remember a conversation with a friend in recovery who had discovered the power and the reason Jesus spoke of the first and greatest commandment "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." What my friend discovered was that when he obeyed this commandment to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, he was able to stay clean and sober without any effort at all. God did for him what he could not do for himself. And, when he loved God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, he found that it was much easier for him to love his neighbour as he loved himself - which is the second greatest commandment which sums up all the other commandments God has given us. This is what it means to be constrained by Christ's love.

1 John 4:19 says, "We love because He first loved us," and this is the truth. I could not love Jesus until I came to know His love for me. But now that I know His love for me and how extravagant and unconditional it is, I love Him with all my heart. I don't need to earn His love, and in fact there's nothing I could do to earn it. I just need to receive it. And when I say that His love constrains me, it's not because of guilt or a desire to earn brownie points with God so I can make it into heaven, it's because it is my heart's desire to please Him and to bless Him and to serve Him. When someone accepts and loves you just as you are, you want to please that person, not because you need to earn their love, but because you want to bless them in some way because of how they've blessed you. And you want to be like them, too. Their love blesses you so much that you want to be able to love like they do. That's what it's like knowing Jesus, and being constrained by His love. He does not try to control us, but His love for us enables us to control ourselves. What a magnificent God I serve!

And one of the scribes...asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jail time

Since January 2007 I have been the Chaplain’s Assistant at the Fraser Valley Institution (FVI) for women in Abbotsford. Each Sunday afternoon I drive to Abbotsford to assist the chaplain, Rev. Wendy Murchy, with the prison’s chapel services. The main service is held in the sanctuary at 2 o’clock for the women in the medium and minimum security areas of the prison. There is a service in the maximum security unit each Sunday as well - sometimes we have to hold several if the women who choose to attend are not allowed to fraternize. Attendance varies each week but we see between 5 and 15 women in the main service and 1 to 4 in the services in the maximum security unit. When Wendy is away on holiday or out of town on business, I lead the services in her stead.

In January 2008 Wendy requested that I take over the Monday afternoon Bible Study she was doing with some prisoners in the maximum security unit. Leading this study has been a great blessing to me the two women who regularly attend this meeting are very hungry for God. Their participation in our study is “all in” and God has used our discussion and prayer times to demonstrate his love and his care, and to bring healing and strength when it is needed. I have been privileged to hear the stories of these women and to see the hand of God – and His love – in their lives. It humbles and inspires me to hear about the miraculous ways that He’s moved in answer to our prayers, even moving on the hearts of the “powers that be” within the prison sometimes to grant privileges that would have been impossible without Him. An example is that the women have been allowed to meet together each evening to pray and study the Bible together, even though they are on separate “ranges” which normally are not allowed to mix.

During our prayer times together, Wendy and I, and the women in my Bible Study, have been sensing that God wants to move in power inside the prison. In response, Wendy has formed a Chaplaincy Committee which meets on a bi-weekly basis. The committee includes Wendy, myself, as a representative of the community outside the prison, and a number of inmates who have demonstrated leadership qualities and a commitment to living the “new life” even outside of the chapel – which is challenging because of peer pressure. The mission of the committee is “to identify, address and support the spiritual needs of the women at FVI”.

On September 14th the Chaplaincy Committee held its first one day retreat on the prison grounds using the house where inmates’ family visits take place. The retreat was a time of team building, of spiritual strengthening, and of brainstorming ways that we can bless and impact the lives of the women confined to the institution – and the staff as well. The inmates came up with some wonderful ideas for events we can hold and ways that we can reach out to the other women in the institution, and some of these will be instituted within the next month. We certainly gained spiritual strength and unity through our time together as the Holy Spirit came down as we worshipped together before departing. One of the women exclaimed, “I feel the Holy Spirit!” and we could see it all over her as she was pink and rosy and shiny all over! Thank You, Lord, for manifesting the sense of Your Presence among us and for affirming us in our work among the inmates and staff of FVI. I would be very grateful for your prayers for our committee. We believe that God has a plan to draw inmates as well as the staff of the prison into relationship with Him and we want to hear from Him.

The song the women who attend chapel love to sing most is "Freedom", is based on 2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. They know the true freedom that is available to them through faith in Jesus Christ. We hope to help others who are incarcerated to experience it too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reflections on God's love

I remember the day it dawned on me, about 6 months into my recovery journey, that "no thing" was more important in life than the relationships I have with my family and with God. That revelation brought about a grieving process - with loud sobbing and blubberng - that lasted the entire day as I realized how over and over again throughout the years I had deliberately turned away from the people who love me - and from God's love. I was terrified of intimacy because I believed the lie that I was not trustworthy or responsible. God showed me how empty and sterile my life had been, and how often I'd hurt the people who loved me - especially my kids - because of my selfishness and my fears. It was devastating to realize this but it had a huge impact on me that changed me forever. I still have to work hard at being comfortable with intimacy and closeness, but it's too important for me not to try.

What brought me to that point in my life was that I had had a personal revelation of God's love for me just a few weeks before on the day I gave my life to Jesus. God poured His love into me and Jesus' presence with me was so real that I exclaimed to myself in surprise, "Jesus is alive!" The fact that Jesus stayed with me for three days after that, giving me courage to share my Step One history with my recovery group (which was like a confession of all the shameful things I had ever done in my addiction) and forgiving me, and showing me the world as He sees it, including all the turmoil and woundedness in people, gave me unmistakable evidence that I was treasured, loved and chosen by the God who had created the universe.

Knowing that God loves me this way is what motivates me to do good and to try to be a good person. I'm not trying to earn my way into heaven with good deeds. I just want to please my Poppa who loves me, and when I do things that defile myself or hurt others my heart grieves because I know that there is nothing that is hidden from Him. I would do anything for Him and go anywhere He sends me because I love Him so much and am so grateful for His love for me. I want everyone who is hurting and feeling rejected to know His love too and that is why I do what I do. If, somehow, I can introduce them to Jesus then they too can know how precious they are to their Father in Heaven and be transformed by His love. This is the mission that I have been given as a beloved child of God.

Jesus tried to teach the religious leaders of his day, that God cares more about what's inside of us, in our hearts, than about what we do or how we look on the outside. There are many people who practice piety; they go around like "white washed sepulchres" trying to look good and to do good, but you can sense that inside they're really rotten and hateful. Jesus instructed jpeople like this, the Pharisees, to go and learn the meaning of "'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." He cared more about how they responded to the poor and the downtrodden than about their empty offerings and religious practices. He also told them that he didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners. What a great God! He didn't send the Messiah to save those who make a show of being holy and righteous! He sent His One and Only Son to call sinners - the embarrasments, the ignored, the outcasts, the unsaintly - into an intimate relationship with Him! What an amazing God! What extravagant love and incredible mercy!

That is why I am so in love with Him: Jesus came to me when I was feeling dirty and ashamed, and believed I was unworthy of love - especially God's. I had defiled myself and rebelled against God almost all of my life, and yet He came and poured his love into me and chose to stand beside me to strengthen me and protect me and love me. I lay down my life for this kind of love; there is nothing that could ever compare to knowing the tender loving care and mercy of God. And I throw myself on the Cross because I know that I am a wretched sinner redeemed by grace, by the love and the sacrifice of Jesus who laid down His life for us. Thank You Lord that you died for me.

Then turning toward the woman (Jesus) said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."
Luke 7:44-47

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm a believer...not a trace of doubt in my mind

There's a Christian cliche that I've been told that we're not to use anymore because it no longer holds any meaning for people. It's "Jesus is the answer." Maybe it's outdated and has lost its relevance because nobody's asking the question, but it's the truth! Jesus IS the answer! He's everything we need, everything we ever wanted, everything we hoped for. Everything we ever felt we needed - but never got - from other people can be found in Jesus Christ.

He is the answer to all of our problems today (another true cliche). He heals us from the pain and wounds of the past. He can transform our lives, lifting us out of despair and hopelessness to a new life - right here on earth! It is Jesus who gives our lives meaning; it's in Him that we find our purpose. It's through Him that we can love and help and bless other people. As we walk with Him, He restores our broken relationships and reunites us with estranged family members. He provides us with everything we need to live - if we will seek His Kingdom above all else. Most of all, He is the love of our lives, our "soul-mate", the one we've been searching for all of our lives and in all the wrong places.

The other day as I was praying my heart was breaking for all the people I know who desperately need Jesus; who long to be known for who they are, to be loved and appreciated just as they are, to find meaning and to know their purpose in life, to find refuge and safety in this harsh self-centered world. I cried a few tears of frustration because it's really so simple: JESUS IS THE ANSWER! I know that each one of us must seek and discover Him for ourselves, but why is it so hard for us to believe?. I searched and sought down so many paths and in so many ways before I finally surrendered my life and came to believe in Jesus, and it was only out of desperation that I chose to do it. But for days after I finally did, I couldn't stop laughing out loud at myself. "It's so simple!" I kept exclaiming to myself. "It's so simple! All I had to do was believe!"

In the Gospel of John (NIV) Jesus uses the word "believe" more than 40 times. In John 6:29 Jesus says, "This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one he has sent." Six verses later He says, "I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst." What Jesus means by never being hungry or thirsty again is that, if we do what God wants us to do and believe in His Son - the one he has sent - then we will be satified. We will feel fulfilled, and we will stop searching in all the wrong places to fill the emptiness and the longings in us. I know this because it's been my experience; my life was changed and my heart-hunger was filled the moment I gave my life to Him.

Only Jesus can fill the emptiness we feel inside; only Jesus can satisfy the longings that we have to be known and loved for who we are. Only Jesus can give our lives meaning and purpose. And only Jesus can save us from spending eternity without God. Do you want to live throughout eternity feeling lost and empty and unloved and unfulfilled? You don't have to. You can know satisfaction and fulfillment, love and meaning and purpose right here and now. Only believe! Jesus is the answer.

"Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in..." Revelation 3:20

Sunday, June 8, 2008

No greater love...

I thank God for His grace, and His love, and His patience with me as I continue to learn to let people in, to get to know me just as I am. It's taken me a year of living in community here at the Women of Hope house to get here, but it's beginning to happen.

I was so blessed on my birthday when each of the women shared what they appreciate me - it's a birthday tradition here and everyone who has a birthday here has to endure it. Well, that's how I used to feel about it - that it was something I had to endure, because I wasn't able to receive appreciation and love, or to truly believe the words that were spoken about me. This year I was tempted to go to that place of steeling myself to endure the words of appreciation as Elsie initiated the sharing, but the Holy Spirit convicted me that those thoughts and feelings were prideful, and that if I chose to go there I would be sinning against God and against my sisters. So I chose to humble myself and stay emotionally present instead, and I was incredibly blessed by the love that I received.

God has blessed me by bringing me here to the Women of Hope house and I am finally able to acknowledge and to receive that blessing. In a recent session with one of the women of the house, we were studying a chapter in The Purpose Driven Life which stated that the reason we are here on earth is to learn to love. I was convicted that it is also for this reason that God has placed me here in this community. I need to learn to love, to give love as well as to receive it. This has been an area of great wounding, fear and pain for me in my past life, but since I've given my life to Him, God has lavished His love on me and has been healing me through the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. I pray that I might be "perfected" in love so that I would never again ignore or do harm to another person because of my pride, and that I might focus less on my own needs and desires and instead choose to lay down my life and my desires for the love of my brothers and my sisters.

The women who live at the house have been experiencing some struggles with addiction and other distractions as they draw closer to the Lord and His love. Please pray for an encounter with the living Christ for each one of them. It was the revealation that Jesus is alive and a personal experience of His love for me that transformed my life. And please pray for the leaders too, that we would have wisdom and discernment and will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as we minister to each of the women who live here. The leadership team is Elsie, myself, Mun Hee and Winnie, a Church Army student who is doing a summer placement here with us. The women of the house are: Kelly, Andrea, Jen & baby Sierra, Sarah, and joining us soon, Camille.

Thanks for reading this, and for praying for us. May God bless you richly.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 ESV

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ready or Not Here I Come!

(An article I wrote for the St. Simon's North Vancouver Pentecost Newsletter)

The Day of Pentecost was not just a random phenomenon that resulted from the fervent prayers of the apostles, it was an event planned by God ahead of time and prophesied by Jesus (Acts 1:4,5). God had a purpose for sending the Holy Spirit and when the resurrected Christ appeared to them, He told His disciples what that purpose was: “when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."(Acts 1:7-8 MSG)

Could Jesus’ followers have accomplished this commission without having been visited in power by the Holy Spirit? The book of Acts contains numerous accounts of miracles, healing, deliverance and conversion performed by the apostles of the early church, and of the often treacherous journeys they made throughout the known world as they spread the gospel of love and planted churches. The Holy Spirit guided, directed and taught them through dreams and visions; filled their mouths with words; and worked in power to perform miracles through them. These miracles, signs and wonders gave glory to God and changed the lives of those who witnessed them.

Are you hungry, as I am, to see God move in the lives of the people around you; to be able to witness to people about the power and love of God and have signs and wonders following? Do you long to see captives set free, and hearts and lives transformed in an instant by the hand of God? Me too! The people of the early church were hungry too. They met and prayed together for hours every day. If we want to be used by God in a powerful way, we need to make ourselves available to Him. We need to surrender our lives and exchange our worldly priorities for God’s Kingdom purposes. In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable about servants who are prepared and waiting for their master’s return. If we want to be used mightily by God we need to be watchful and ready so that when God sends the Holy Spirit we are available to be used as His vessels to do whatever He commands.

Before He ascended to heaven, the resurrected Christ told his followers: "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17-18) This power is available to all who believe! It’s not just for apostles, preachers, or revivalists, and it wasn’t meant just for the founding members of the early church. Jesus said these signs will accompany those who believe. Do you believe? Me too. So where are the signs? And how come when we do see them we doubt the credibility of the believers whom they accompany? Is it because of unbelief?

If we truly believed in Jesus we would believe His sayings as well. When I sought God about where He stood on the issue of blessing homosexual unions in the church, He said to me, “If my Word is true, it’s all true.” So if God’s Word is true, then the sayings of Jesus that have been recorded for us to read two millennia later are true too. Let’s believe them! And let’s set aside our personal priorities for God’s Kingdom purposes so that we can truly be His witnesses and see people everywhere turning to Him.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on 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)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A year has passed...

Thanks so much to those of you who continue to pray for us - even when I neglect my blog! I can't believe it's already been a year since I came to Vancouver to live and to work with Partners in Hope.

Things are very busy around the Women of Hope house these days. We have a full house now since Rita, and Jen and her 8 month old daughter Sierra, came to live with us few a weeks ago. What a joy to have a baby in our midst! She is a delight! It is a blessing to watch the measure of wisdom and love with which Jen cares for her baby daughter.

God continues to draw the women into fellowship with Him by “cords of kindness and bands of love” (Hosea 11), and they are growing in their realization of who He is and who they are in His eyes. Please pray for “good soil” as we continue to plant the seeds of the gospel of love and salvation into their hearts. Being willing to hear and to learn is the key as we try to teach and to minister, and I am blessed by the willingness and the trust the women demonstrate.

Rita has made great progress as she allows the truth of God’s Word to penetrate her heart and practices taking her thoughts captive into obedience to Christ.Kelly, Andrea and Sarah continue to grow and blossom. It is an amazing process to witness the transformation that is taking place in them. Kelly was confirmed a few weeks ago, alongside a woman who used to live at Women of Hope and a man who's been a friend of Partners in Hope for years

Elsie is taking some much needed time off this week. Please pray that she will be able to get some much needed rest and relaxation. Also, your prayers for all of us as we learn to adjust to one another’s habits and behaviour, and learn to love one another, would be a blessing. Prayers for God’s protection and peace would also be appreciated.

I am blessed to have a safe car to drive to Abbotsford twice a week for the prison ministry I'm involved with at Fraser Valley Institution for women. Chapel is going very well, we had twelve women last week, which is wonderful, and the Bible Study in the maximum security unit is alive and intense because of the hunger in the hearts of the women who are in attendance each Monday. God meets them each week in their place of need. We are working through “The Purpose Driven Life” and although it is wonderfully rich (and for the most part scriptural) material, it is very challenging to teach to women who are incarcerated and have difficulty believing that God could have a purpose for their lives. I challenge them to believe and to stand on the truth of God’s Word, and already I see changes in the way that they live together and behave inside the prison walls. I will be filling in for the chaplain for several Sundays during April. Your prayers for us would be greatly appreciated.

May the Lord bless you richly as you love and serve Him.

In Christ,