Qualified

I was broken but I am not broke. 

I am stronger then I have ever been before.  

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt the last several years is although my life and spirit were once broken, that does not and never did disqualify me.  

I felt that my failures had disqualified me from having a voice or opinion that was to be valued and respected.  I have had many people look up to me for leadership and on how to live a strong, God centred life. To be a wife that was to be honoured and revered, a mother who raised perfect, God fearing children. I stood on stages as an example but what example was I when my 'perfect' life was crumbling beneath me. 

I had taken myself out of the running because I didn’t think I had a voice. I believed I couldn't speak wisdom because I had failed.  I didn’t think my opinion was wanted or valued because look where it had brought me so far… to brokenness. So, I conceded my run, and I chose to be happy being the diminished person I believed I was. I was determined to put my strength and effort into becoming whole again – mind, body and spirit, and to being a consistent and loving mom.  I figured there were others around me who were far more qualified to be heard, and their wisdom and track records were superior to my own.

I’m not really sure what moment I noticed I actually might have something of value to add to the conversation.  It might have been when someone unknowingly made a blanket statement about marriage and I thought, wait, that’s not everyone’s story.  It could have been when people were talking about a family unit as a whole and the thought, again, that’s not my story. It could have been when a newly single mom, whose world had just come crashing down came to me crying, broken and not sure what to do. I could offer wisdom and insight into her situation because I was just a few steps ahead of where she was right then.

I have value.  I have wisdom.  More wisdom, in fact, then I had before. I understood the story from a different perspective. A perspective that is only earned after you’ve personally walked down that road.  I understood that no story or life is perfect.  We all walk our own roads and have our own challenges, and we can’t judge another’s decisions because we simply really don’t know their circumstance.

I very recently met a new friend who told me about a Japanese art called Kintsukuroi. This is where they repair and mend broken pottery by filling in the cracks with gold or silver.  They do this with the understanding that the piece, having suffered damage, now had a history that made it more beautiful and valuable. (See picture below)
 



What a brilliant picture this is.  Our brokenness doesn’t decrease our value.  Once fixed and mended, with hard work and diligence it becomes stronger and more valuable then before. 

It has been hard work to refuse to shrink back and hide my past and my struggles. I will wear my past brokenness proudly, and use the experience to help serve a hurting and dying world, desperate for wisdom on how to navigate what we label as failures, and who want to know there is hope. They need to hear from someone who knows where they are on the journey and can testify that life will be ok, that they will be ok, that they will be better then ok.  

The future looks bright!

ASHLEY MOHR Creative Pastor

ASHLEY MOHR

Creative Pastor

 

USE YOUR WORDS

We gathered at the beginning of May for our Sisterhood Conference here at Relate Church, and I’m still enjoying the afterglow that comes from a really encouraging, challenging and empowering conversation. There were a few themes that ran through the words that were spoken, and one was the power of our voices as women. In our homes, workplaces, churches and from whatever platform we may have, our engaged voices aren’t only needed but totally imperative. To be clear – the world isn’t necessarily in need of more opinions. There are just so many of those and they’re noisy. There is, however, a need for hard-won wisdom and engaged vulnerability and the power of a life poured out and shared with others. We can all encourage someone. We all have much to give. Someone is behind you on the path, in need of your voice calling them forward.

As we wrapped up our afternoon session on Saturday, our team passed out a gift to each woman – a lovely glass lantern. It went home with everyone as a reminder that we are all here to be light. I had written a commissioning prayer for this moment and read it over those gathered as they prepared to leave. Many of the words are pulled straight out of scripture, a light for our path. I’ll share it with you, and hope that you’ll receive this as my prayer over your life as well. (Yes, you!) You may or may not hear encouragement regularly or ever… You may feel hidden, ignored or powerless. Perhaps you’re tired or overwhelmed or making plans to quit. Maybe you’re just unsure about your path forward. I’m praying that you carry on, and that you speak up. Your voice and your light is essential, and none of us walk alone. 

Commissioning Prayer

I pray that you would hear and know his voice, and that you'd listen. You’ll lean in and make time and willingly sacrifice to get facetime with our Creator and Caller. I pray that the God-whisper would drown out any doubt or fear, distraction or diversion. I pray that you would long for His direction and His peace above all else. I pray that His light would be your flame, His word a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. 

I pray that you would be deeply rooted. That you'd sink your heart and energy into the long-term, perennial, eternal purpose that is your calling and future. You will stand firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss; bearing fruit in every season of your life. Never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous. May you know how wide and deep and good his love is for you, and make yourself at home in it. 

I pray that you'd not despise small beginnings or the inevitable ordinary. That you would find joy in little victories, and welcome the adventure of daily surrender. Let your everyday and ordinary life be an offering, a life poured out through sacrifices both small and extravagant. May you know rest and resist striving. I pray that you'd see his glory in the routine of your life and may love be your everyday garment, your motivation and your reward. 

I pray that you'd have the courage to continue. I pray that you'll be known for your faithfulness, steady and true. You will stay the course, dust yourself off easily and get back up again when you fail. May your character only grow. May hope anchor your soul. I pray that you wrap yourself in His strength, and carry yourself with confidence. 

I pray that you'd go together. May you know and be the church of God's glorious design, encouraging and calling out the gifts in one another. I pray that you would assume the best in each other, challenge and comfort one another and live out Sisterhood as you go.  

You are called and commissioned as salt and light, bringing flavour and colour, clarity and hope to your world. You're peacemakers, influencers all, women marked by grace, pushing back darkness and confronting evil with the light of Jesus. 

God bless you and keep you,

God smile on you and gift you,

God look you full in the face and make you prosper. 

ANGELA DOELL Executive Pastor

ANGELA DOELL

Executive Pastor

DROWNING

"I feel like I'm drowning."

I can't even tell you how many times I have heard this phrase since the beginning of the year from people in my world.  I can't even tell you how often I have felt this way myself.   

October of last year my husband and I welcomed our 3rd baby girl into our family.  Life with 3 kids was surprisingly easy and I could not have felt happier.  We returned home from a wonderful Christmas and New Years with the family ready to start the new year but something was different.  The air felt heavy, the joy was gone. I looked at my husband and said "I feel like I'm drowning".

One thing after another came at us over the next month and piled on like a weight.  The devil seemed relentless in his pursuit to steal my joy, kill my dreams and destroy my future.  One morning at 4am while nursing my daughter (for the 4th time that night!) I realized the devil was trying to take me out.  I could physically feel him coming at me like a wave, determined to drown me in thoughts of doubt, shame and self harm.  Knowing that you can't fight thoughts with thoughts, and truly being able to handle no more, I stood up, baby girl still nursing in my arms and began out loud to take back my ground.  I told the devil he could not have my family.  I told him I was choosing joy.  I rebuked him in the Name of Jesus and told him I would allow no more.  It wasn't a complicated confession or prayer.  I was honest and firm trusting if I did my part to speak in faith, God would do his part to deliver me.  I laid my daughter down to sleep and after pleading the blood of Jesus over my family I went to bed myself.

When I woke the next morning I knew something was different.  I was operating in the realm of the supernatural though my day to day tasks had never changed.  This time when the devil came at me with his lies and deceitful thoughts it was not a wave I felt but it was as if he was pecking at a glass wall that surrounded me, trying to get in.  He could not reach me.  There was no crack; no way through the glass.  I was covered in the blood of Jesus. I had won.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." - Ephesians 3:20

This verse tells us that God is able to do superabundantly more than we could ever ask or think according to His power that works within us.  His power works in us.  We have the ability to stand up, right where we are, in whatever we're doing (in my case nursing) and wield the power of God.  We have the power to move the mountains that stand in our way; to take our victories.  God is willing and waiting to do His part if only we would have the courage to stand and speak.

TARA HUTZAL

TARA HUTZAL

 

LOST ON PURPOSE

Purpose.

Just thinking of the word makes me think deep – like REAL deep. It is definitely a weighty topic with so much meat, and as much as we may try to avoid thinking about it, we do – or have, at some point. At least that’s the impression I get from the many conversations I’ve had with people. It’s interesting how everybody has different thoughts and opinions on their own personal purpose, but the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that purpose gives life more meaning, and meaning gives life direction. 

Have you ever met anyone that seemed lost in life? Like they just didn’t know where they were going or why they were doing what they were doing? I think it might be because they don’t know, or see, their purpose. It’s as if their lack of drive to do anything meaningful is due to their lack of direction, making their life choices seem... scrambled and in disarray. It’s kind of a sad thing to see, isn’t it? Because when you see someone who does know where they’re going, I think you’ll agree that person’s entire persona gives off such a positive vibe, is full of life, and you can see a spark in their eyes. 

To be honest, I’m not sure I know what my purpose is yet. And to be REALLY honest, I’ve struggled with it since having a child because I’ve felt like being a mom might be my ONLY purpose now. For someone who’s always kept busy with projects, meetings, and planning, being forced to slow down and divert most of my time, energy, and attention to a child really took a toll on me. It still does from time to time, but something I’m realizing is that our purpose can look a little different in different seasons, and each season serves as part of our life’s purpose.  What is undeniable, though, is that whatever season we’re in, it’s a million times better with people. In fact, there is something about being connected to people that makes life more rich and satisfying, isn’t there? Relationships can steer our direction and give our purpose even more meaning. 

Personally, I think everyone is seeking these two things: purpose and relationship – which is so spot on to what Jesus says in John 10:10. He says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” People are longing for a life of fulfillment and Jesus came to provide just that – say what?! That sounds like someone with an intention to build a good, life-long relationship to me!

What a relief to know that we’re meant to have a full life and that we’re supposed to enjoy it to the fullest. We don’t have to take life so seriously! Friend, we don’t have to be lost in this world. Having purpose might sound like a weight to carry, yet it’s an enjoyable privilege to find purpose in every season, and to know that we’re never meant to carry it alone.

MARIEL HONG

MARIEL HONG

 

GOD IS FAITHFUL.

I believe that God loves to be faithful to you when you trust him.  I believe that he loves to show up and show off in your life when you ask Him.

When I was first moving out of my parent’s house I had an unreasonable fear of making it on my own.  I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t find a reasonable place to live, that I’d have a dark and depressing basement suite with hardly any windows and possibly mold. Despite having budgeting skills, I had also imagined that I would run out of money and have to move back in with my parents.  Needless to say, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t do it, and this fear probably kept me at home longer than I would have liked to be.

At this time, I was also a new Christian, and my generous new small group hosts bought me a registration to a bible class.  I knew nothing, and the information I was taking in seemed hard to believe.  But, my parents were moving to another town and I needed a place to live, so I latched on to the first two basic scriptures I learned in that class and prayed a tentative prayer.

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:14 NIV

 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than al we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20 NIV

That was all I had to go on.  I can’t even remember if I felt like God was really there, but I hoped He was, and I asked Him to do what the bible said he would.  I told Him the things I wanted in a new place to live, and I asked in Jesus name that it would be provided and on budget.  I also told Him that I had learned that He could do above and beyond all that I could imagine or think, and that, I expected him to do so.

Soon, an old high school friend moved back to town, reconnected with me and said she was looking for a roommate.  Through a generous family friend of hers, we moved into a large townhouse filled with natural light, for way under the budget I had set for myself when I had expected basement suite living.  Talk about going above and beyond what I could imagine or think.

To this day I feel like God showed up to prove to me that He’s there, and that he cares about the things I care about.  When doubt creeps in, in any situation, I remember how he showed up and wowed me before.

ALISON BOLANOS Alison works on staff at Relate Church and is a vital part of the church community along side her husband Rember.

ALISON BOLANOS

Alison works on staff at Relate Church and is a vital part of the church community along side her husband Rember.

 

21 DAY FAST || MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Romans 12:10-13 (ESV)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

My mother always taught me to always put others before myself and love fiercely. It’s something I’ve always tried to live my life by and something that hasn’t always come easy. There’s a necessary balance that one must have when choosing to put another before ones self and that’s something I’m still trying to figure out. There are so many moments that I look back upon and wish that I could have changed my actions and shown people how much they are loved, but as I look to the future I see so much opportunity to allow those moments to happen.

We can look to Jesus as the perfect example of how we can demonstrate this fierce love. He loved thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, the poor, children and followers equally. He loved the worst and the best of the world and this love continues on even thousands of years later. 


How many times have you come across someone who has done something that just rubs you the wrong way and immediately decide to distance yourself from them? Sometimes it’s easier to look the other way when they walk by because you know what they may have done bothers you. But when we choose to show family love, the kind of love that recognizes and accepts the weakness of others and love them anyways, we then start to learn how to show the type of love that God shows to us.

Loving others isn’t always easy, but a Christ like love means forgiving, accepting and honouring those around us. 

As we finish this 21 Day Fast, I encourage you to look around. Look at the people in your life and ask, how am I making a difference in their lives? Am I honouring my people in such a way that shows the unconditional love that our Saviour shows to us? It’s not always an easy thing to put ourselves aside  and make someone else the priority, but when we step out and choose to show the example of God’s fierce love, that’s where lives can be changed.  

ALANNA HIGGS Communications Director

ALANNA HIGGS

Communications Director

 

 

21 DAY FAST || OWN IT

A time of prayer and fasting … this may surprise you, but this is my “happy place”! 

Really, no joke. I am being really real with you. You see, I have learned a secret. Spending time in the presence of the Lord is glorious, it is like discovering an oasis in the desert, having enough fresh water to drink until you are fully satisfied. I have developed a real thirst for His living water, now nothing else will satisfy. 

It wasn’t always this way, so if you have found this time difficult, I would happily share a few thoughts with you. Although I had grown up in a traditional church; I came into a real living relationship with Jesus as an adult. I felt like I had soooo much to learn, and I had never, ever prayed out loud for anything other than our nightly meal. For me I approached prayer like a discipline to be learned: right words, right time of day, right heart attitude – whew! It felt so complicated. 

One thing I was determined about, my wonderful husband, Rich and I had both been born again, baptized in water, and then baptized in the Holy Spirit together, and we wanted a real living powerful relationship with Jesus to be our greatest gift of an inheritance for our children, grandchildren, and for the many generations to follow. 

Prov 13:22 NIRV

A good person (a follower of Jesus Christ) leaves what they OWN to their children and grandchildren.

I realized that I needed to “own” this, or as some might say – “possess the land” before I could consider passing it along. My hunger was real, and the Lord provided us with people and resources that encouraged us and modeled what a life of prayer looked like. We saw the fruit in their lives and we were inspired. 

In a seemingly short time, what had started as a duty of praying for needs, became a time of delight as I met with my Saviour and King! I was now ready to share this beautiful relationship with our children; once again the Lord through His Word provided my instruction. 

Deut 6:7 NIRV

Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up.

Instead of retreating in seclusion, and making prayer something that was hidden, Rich and I chose to speak of the Lord, instruct our children, and pray for and with our children throughout our days, yes, from morning to night. Along with the children’s fridge art, we posted reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness as our family united in prayer for the specific needs of family members and friends, as well as prayers of blessings as our children grew strong and mighty in the Lord. Prayer was not a special event, it was simply part of our everyday life, and we would often just transition from discussing a difficulty into praying for that need. 

We let our relationship with the Lord become as natural as breathing in our home. We woke early in the morning, even before our children arose, so that we could read our Bibles and pray. Often. 

One of our young children would toddle out, and instead of sending them back to bed, we would welcome them, wrap them in a blanket beside us, and let them drift off to sleep; they snuggled beside us as we read our Bibles and prayed – ahhh bliss! 

The Lord’s promises are so rich: 

Numbers 6:24-26 TLB

Start children off on the right path. 

And even when they are old, they will not turn away from it. Prov 22:6 NIRV

I love that this is the Lord’s promise! 

We are responsible to be obedient to the Lord’s instruction found in His Word. 

The Lord is responsible for the results, and He alone will receive all the glory! 

I would like to close by praying a generational blessing over you: 

May the Lord bless and protect you; 

May the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; 

May He be gracious to you, show you His favor, 

And give you His peace. 

 

Written by:

Carol Mills

21 DAY FAST || THE ADVOCATE

Psalm 82:3 The Voice (VOICE)

3 “Stand up for the poor and the orphan;

    advocate for the rights of the afflicted and those in need.

Anyone who has spent a little time with me would know that I have a passion for the nations.  I find it fascinating to learn about other cultures and to glean wisdom from how they do life. In my journey’s, I have seen firsthand the plight of the poor and orphans.  One of my dearest friends has a ministry in Ethiopia that provides support for orphaned children.  While the practical help of food, clothing, schooling and medical aid is crucial to their physical survival, of just as much importance is the need for a place to belong.  Community.  Family.  It’s a need that we ALL have in our lives. 

I encourage us all to begin to open our eyes within our own communities and realize that that there are people who feel abandoned, orphaned through the trauma of their own experiences.  All around us, in every demographic, we find those who are vulnerable, oppressed or exploited and in need of advocates to stand up on their behalf. The word advocate is powerful.  One definition says an advocate is a person who pleads for or on behalf of another; an intercessor.

Thank God who understands and knows the need for an Advocate in our own lives. As Jesus is now seated at the right-hand of the Father, He did not abandon us but said He would give us the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate.  How reassuring to know that regardless of what I face, no matter how overwhelming life can sometimes seem, I have an advocate to help guide me through life. 

Jesus has commissioned us to be like Him & to follow His example.  When we allow God’s love to truly lead us with compassion, we will find that we lead with our heart.  This takes a willingness to sacrifice of self as we typically want to justify all the reasons why we can’t reach out to advocate for those in need.  For example, lack of time, lack of expertise or lack of finances.  Compassion will compel us to reach within in order to reach out.  When we do, I believe we will begin to see and hear what he does.  We will do as He has so graciously done in each of our lives. We will be compelled to pass it on. The old adage, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ often opens the door of opportunity to invite hurting humanity to experience the love of Christ….leading them to an opportunity to belong to God’s family.

HELEN BALZER

HELEN BALZER

 

21 DAY FAST || THE REAL CHRISTIANITY

I saw the new movie ‘Lion’ over the weekend. It’s the story of a 5 year old Indian boy who, by mistake one night, boards the wrong train, falls asleep, and ends up 1500 km to the East of his hometown and family in the grimy metropolis of Calcutta. Unable to speak the dialect, and unnoticeable to the majority of the local population as simply another beggar on the street, he eventually ends up in an orphanage.

While the story continues from there, scenes from the boy’s time in the streets of Calcutta with other children, and scenes from his time in the orphanage stood out to me. Now, I’m certainly not oblivious to the conceptual reality of orphans in our world, but there’s no denying that my day-to-day exposure is somewhat minimal, and perhaps that’s why these scenes stand out to me so profoundly.

James 1:27 (NLT) says this:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

As humans, we’re naturally prone to sort through information on an "applies to me" or "doesn’t apply to me" basis. When I listen to the traffic report on the radio, I tune most of it out, until I hear something pertaining to my route home. I can be engrossed in a conversation in a crowded setting, ignoring the noises around me, and yet still pick up the unmistakeable sound of my own name being used from across the room. We are necessarily selective in what we process, and this informs our thinking, our actions, our habits, and even our response to what we read in the Bible.

In all honesty, there have been times when I have read about ‘pure and genuine religion’ being ‘caring for orphans and widows’, and thought to myself, that’s an admirable exhortation. But not one which at this moment ‘applies to me’. Not because of unwillingness or intentional disobedience - but simply because of a perceived lack of opportunity.

This is why I so appreciate how Eugene Peterson translated this same passage in The Message Bible. James 1:27 (MSG) says: Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better family to be born into. My mother, father and siblings, all love Jesus. They have been loving and supportive my whole life through. I am neither a widow, nor orphan - and yet, despite this, I know there have been times in my life where if I didn’t have the family that I’ve found in church, if I hadn’t felt the love and sense of ‘home’ that I’ve found in Jesus as a child of God, I would have felt both homeless, and loveless.

My revelation is that this passage actually speaks to the heart of my saviour. It speaks to the sacrifice of the cross and pushes us to action. I may not encounter actual orphans and widows frequently in my day to day, but I certainly encounter people who don’t have a spiritual home, who feel loveless and undesirable and broken in their daily lives - and this passage tells me that the heart Jesus is this: to love the loveless and give a home to the homeless; that he desires the undesirables above all else, that he reached out and came down from perfect heaven to imperfect earth with the express purpose of cultivating relationship with me and you, and everyone around us.

Real religion is this: emulate Jesus. Be Jesus to the homeless, the loveless, the undesirables, the less thans, the would-rather-nots, the come-lates and leave-earlys; and tell them about the family that we belong to, the church that welcomes them home, and the Love that came down and made a way for us to be truly Home for eternity with Him.

Ephesians 2:19-22 (MSG)

That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

DAN COMRIE

DAN COMRIE

 

 

21 DAY FAST || WHERE I BELONG

Welcome Home.

It's a phrase that's said a lot around here at Relate Church. It's a comforting thought to know that you are welcome, and that you can find home here. 

So then, what is home? Is home a building? Is it your address? Is it where you live with your family? The dictionary has many definitions for the word, and my favourite would have to be "any place of residence or refuge".

The word HOME could be a scary thought for some people. Maybe you didn't have the greatest home life. Perhaps when you think of home you think of anger, fights, yelling, abuse.

To me home is more than a four letter word. Home is where I belong. Where I can truly be who I am and not worry about anyone judging me for it. Home is the place where I can come in with the toughest situations and know someone has my back. Home is the place where I can come to be celebrated and encourage, and it's the place for me to encourage others.

Growing up, home was always my happy place. I grew up with a single mom who worked so hard to make life happen. I remember every home we lived in form a young age, although they were all different, they did all have one common thread. Home was who I was with, home was safe, home was the best. My mom and I moved to Surrey from the Okanogan when I was really young, and most of her family (pretty much all actually) are still there. With our family being so far away, it sometimes felt lonely; but we were all able to find family in other places. We created family at church. The church we were going to at the time had so many amazing families that sort of adopted us into their families and suddenly, it didn't feel so lonely.

Church became a place where I belong, a place where I could do what I wanted. Where I was loved, where I was welcome. Church became Home. Church became FAMILY. Relate Church is my home. I am protective of my home and even more so of my family.

Psalms 68:6 says, "God sets the lonely in families".

How true was this for our life. We were placed in families, and not just one specific family, but THE family. God's family. I love that no matter where we are, or how lonely we feel, we ALWAYS belong.

TAELOR ELVERUM

TAELOR ELVERUM

 

21 DAY FAST || HOMECOMING

It's early morning as I type, dark and freezing outside. I happen to be awake and almost through my first cup of coffee, sitting by the fire while my husband and kids sleep upstairs. I can hear someone snoring, actually. It's cozy. We are all together under one roof and that's just the way I like it. Soon we'll all be moving and off to work or school, and I'll be counting the hours until we're gathered again. Home is my favourite, and family has my heart.

I think the same way about church, the family of God, and wonder sometimes how God feels about His children gathered. It's got to bring him such joy as his sons and daughters come home. We sense it when we're together, a glimpse of heaven. And I feel His longing for those who are far from Him... Those who don't yet know, those who are questioning or hurt or disconnected.

I've been a little bit obsessed with Isaiah 60 recently. It tells of a huge homecoming, a family gathering that God has in the works. Isaiah paints the most gorgeous picture and as I read it, I SEE it. 

Isaiah 60:1-5

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth

    and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you

    and his glory appears over you.

Nations will come to your light,

    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

“Lift up your eyes and look about you:

    All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

    and your daughters are carried on the hip.

Then you will look and be radiant,

    your heart will throb and swell with joy;

the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,

    to you the riches of the nations will come.

 As the world is increasingly darker, the glory of our Jesus is bright. He is hard to ignore, the light of the world that leads us home. We know hope, we have a future, and we belong. While fear seems to blanket the earth, it isn't our reality. We're building a home and a gathering place for the family that isn't here yet... but they're so loved already. And what a homecoming God has planned! 

ANGELA DOELL Executive Pastor

ANGELA DOELL

Executive Pastor

 

21 DAY FAST || WOULDN'T BE HERE WITHOUT YOU

1 John 4:7

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."

I’ve learned that love is not just about the feel good moments.  Love will cause you to stretch, take you places you never knew you were capable of going, and push you through doors you thought you had no business going through, only to realise that the door was meant for you to open.  It’ll cause you to grow, push you out of your comfort zone,; make you reach for dreams you’ve placed on the shelf a long time ago because you let yourself believe that some dreams are just not meant to be.

When I first started coming to Relate, I would often hear people comment that their first impression of me was that I was a quiet, confident, young man.  I never had the courage, or the humility, to tell them how wrong they were.  Well…  They’re mostly correct about the quiet part.  You see, when I first walked through the doors of Relate Church, I was a broken mess.  I was so good at putting on the façade of a confident, young man because I’ve had over a decade of practice putting it on every morning; hiding the cracks with a thin veneer called false self-confidence.  Can any of you relate?

Growing up, it was like I lived three different selves.  My first self was the one I would show my family when I was at home.  I was the obedient child, straight “A” student who never got into trouble.  I was the child who would fix his bed in the morning because mom said it’s what I’m supposed to do.  And so I did.

My second self was the one I would show my friends.  The sarcastic, callous boy who was too tough to get his feelings hurt by recklessly thrown words.  The boy who can take a punch to the stomach and not even flinch.  The boy who can silence a room with a death stare.  Yes… I was that boy.

My third self is what I refer to as my genuine self.  It was the ME that I wasn’t comfortable sharing with others.  It was the ME that only appeared behind closed doors, when no one else was around.  The ME who loves to draw, read, write, and day dream.  The ME that I kept hidden because I had to be perfect (which I’m not) and tough (True story, I bawl my eyes out every time I watch the beginning of Up) and immune to failure (which I often did).  Can anyone here relate?

Looking back at the past decade, I can see how much I’ve grown; how far I’ve come from that confused kid who wanted to please everyone.  When we look back at our lives, we can often pinpoint key figures who have played roles in shaping us into the person we are today.  Although I can write a whole novel about all the people who have touched and made a difference in my life, I would like to focus on two particular people.

Ricardo Duran, and Ben Liu. 

The years that I attended their small group, I learned the following:

Ricardo taught me persistence and consistency.  He also taught me that a leader didn’t have to be perfect.  He taught me that it was okay to have problems, and be open with it and share with people; that being vulnerable wasn’t a sign of weakness, but of strength.  Over the years of him being my leader, I witnessed him share his struggles, and I watched him walk through it with God.

Ben taught me it’s okay to be loud.  He was the king of dad jokes, even before he became a dad. He also taught me what worship is.  I remember coming to small group one evening after a bad day at work.  I remember being upset, angry, and not knowing where or who to turn to.  I remember closing my eyes during praise and worship; it was something I’ve never done before.  I remember getting lost in the songs and suddenly the words, “Lead me to the cross” weren’t just words anymore.  They carried weight.  When I opened my eyes, both my arms were up in the air; I don’t remember ever lifting them up.  I remember feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit for the very first time that evening, and it changed me.

Today I find myself leading a small group.  This small group is their legacy.  Over the years of them being my leaders, not only did I regard them as friends, but as spiritual brothers.  Ben, Ricardo, I’ve never expressed this in person, and I apologize for that, but if you’re reading this, I hope that you both know how much you’ve influenced my life.  You took a broken kid who kept everything inside, and you taught him courage. 

When I hear the words “love one another”, I imagine a picture of people lifting each other up.  I can honestly say that I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my church family.  I’m a first generation Christian, and I pray that I get to influence other people’s lives the way that so many of you at Relate have influenced mine.  I have so many stories I want to share, but I don’t want this to get TOO long.  If you’re ever at Relate Church, come drop by at Guest Services!  I’d be more than happy to share my stories with you.

BRYAN CALARA

BRYAN CALARA

 

21 DAY FAST || DECLARE HIS LOVE

For many years, my husband and I made a daily "habit" of spending time together at some point during the day declaring God's Word over us and our family. There were a number of scriptures that we read together. Psalm 103 was one of them.

I love this Psalm because David begins by exhorting us to praise God, and encourages us not to forget all the benefits that God has given us. He goes on to remind us of God's rich love and mercy.

Verse 17 says:

"The mercy and loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting... His righteousness to our children's children."

How amazing is our God? He loved us before the world began and He will keep on loving us. He sees the way we are and yet chooses to love us unconditionally. That is a hard concept for us to comprehend - the kind of love that is like no other.

His love does not extend just to us, but to our children - and their children; to all the future generations that are to come. His love brings future and it brings hope. We can trust God to look after our family. He loves each one of them so much more that we can.

Perhaps you are feeling like you've messed up too much for God to look at you, never mind love you. Or possibly you feel that your children or other family members have strayed so far from God that there is no hope for them and nothing will ever change. Maybe today you can begin by simply declaring God's love for you and His love for your family. 

"God loves me. His love for me is unconditional. He love me! God thank you for loving my kids; for loving my family; thank you that you never have stopped loving them and you never will."

As we embrace His love, His everlasting unconditional love, we will find that our lives will change. As we dwell and meditate on how much He loves our family (whatever that "family" may look like) we will begin to look at things differently. Hope will start to rise and our faith will be built up.

In our world today, families are evolving and changing all the time. There are births and deaths, marriages, separation and divorce. Life happens and we may find ourselves in a place that we never thought we would be. Our family doesn't look like everyone else's and we just can't see the future generation. Know today that our God is a God who redeems, restores, and heals your brokenness.

This journey of life hasn't always been easy. My "family" looks different than what I thought it would look like at this time in my life. My husband is in his happy place - with Jesus. Things are just not what I thought they would be. One thing I do know: God's love has kept me. His love is a promise that is sure, and I can trust Him not only with my life but with my family. He has a future and hope for each one of us. He will not reject us, but will continually pour out HIs love and mercy, from everlasting to everlasting.

CHERYL SEXSMITH

CHERYL SEXSMITH

 

21 DAY FAST || BE THE CHURCH

Relationships. So incredibly wonderful, yet so incredibly tough.

I mean, what else could bring you the most inexpressible joy and yet the most heartbreaking pain? I can remember seasons of pain in my life that felt so unbearable, it seemed like shutting down was the only choice that I had. Looking back on these experiences, I've come to learn that you can't pick and choose what things to feel. When you close yourself off to one emotion, you'll eventually start to close yourself off to all of them. Even with the best intentions, shutting down feelings of pain will not only affect your relationships with people, but most importantly your relationship with God.

It’s easy to look at our lives and focus what's wrong or lacking. We’ve all had disappointments and regrets when it comes to relationships. Too often we can get caught up thinking about our past experiences and wondering what our lives would look like had made better choices, but we can’t stay in that place. If we want to experience all that God has for us, we must learn from our past, engage in the present, and set our eyes on the future. We need to learn how to open ourselves up enough to feel the pain so that we free ourselves to experience the fullness of His joy.

I believe wholeheartedly in God. I believe in the Church- the body of Christ. And I also believe that we have an enemy trying to divide what God sacrificed His Son to unify. God created us in relationship, for relationship, and as The Church of Jesus, I believe that we can do way more together than we can apart. Our call as a church is togetherness; it’s family, and that's not always an easy task. One of the biggest benefits and challenges of church is people; yet even with our differences, we can't afford to stop fighting for each other and fighting for unity.

Colossians 3:14-16 says:

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

The best way I know how to work through pain is thankfulness. I’m not talking about the polite "thank you" people say when receiving their Starbucks drink or that feeling you get when someone opens the door, but a genuine thankfulness that changes our perspective and focuses our attention away from ourselves and onto Jesus. When we remember the ultimate price that was paid so that we might live in freedom, things begin to change.

Even though doing life together can be complicated at times, let’s continue to be the church that God has called us to be. Let us be known by our love for one another and for having the peace of Jesus that carries us through the most dire of situations. Let us be known as a people that knows the word of God and lives it out, encouraging one another and holding each other up. A church that loves and worships God, and most of all, a church that is thankful for each other and for Jesus.

MIA DAYAO Worship Director

MIA DAYAO

Worship Director

 

21 DAY FAST || BIBLE VS. FACEBOOK

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 MSG

“Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of you homes and on your city gates."

It has taken me years to get to this point, but I have come to accept the reality that I may have a slight deficiency pertaining to my ability to maintain my attention on a given person, place or thing for what would be generally considered an appropriate amount of time. In other words, the “span" of my attention may not be quite what would be considered normal. In other words, I’m hungry now.

I can remember being told by many of my teachers that I struggled to pay attention in class and focus on my assignments. In elementary school I was forced to sit in the front row because they said it would help me stay focused. In my defence, school was boring.

At home, I had chores to do. One of my chores was to take out the garbage bin to the street curb on garbage day. I can still hear my dad saying “Do you need to write it on your forehead so you won’t forget to take out the garbage?” I had no idea how biblically inspired that statement was. Props pops!

While it may seem like a strange idea to “tie God’s word on to your hands and forehead as a reminder”, I wonder at times, how much I would benefit from taking the advice in Deuteronomy 6 literally. I get the impression that Moses felt quite strongly about the people of Israel prioritizing God’s word and instruction. He wanted the people to commit themselves to not only hearing the word, but to commit themselves to ensure that they would never forget it.

I believe that God wants us to not just hear the word, but to consume the word to get it inside of us. “Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and get them inside your children.” I can’t think of a more relevant piece of advise for Christians today. We live in a consumer world where our attention and affection is being pushed and pulled in every direction. Social Media and TV, readily available 24/7 offer plenty of opportunities for us to consume the world's opinion of who we are and who we should be.

The problem is that what we consume becomes what we assume. (See what I did there?)

Put it this way, if you hear something enough times and talk about it long enough, you’ll start believing that it’s true. I think this is why Moses urged the people to take Gods commandments and “Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them form the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.” He wanted them to not just hear the promises of God, but to ASSUME they would happen.

I wonder what it is that you have been consuming lately? What have you been assuming to be true in your life? I wonder what it would take to limit the distractions enough to focus on God’s word? I wonder what steps you would be willing to take to remind yourself what it says?

I don’t know about you but I know I could benefit from consuming more of THE book and less of Facebook. And I while I don’t like to admit it, writing it on my forehead might not be such a bad idea… it is biblical after all.

Much love church!

THEO BLOCK

THEO BLOCK

 

21 DAY FAST || UNEXPECTED FAMILY

When I think of the word 'comfort’, a list of material things pops into my head. It ranges from indulging in a hamburger and crispy fries, to being at the beach where I can relax and enjoy down time in the sun. Whatever it may be, it’s not the same comfort that is found through the support that we receive from loved ones.

I can think of various times in my life that I’ve gone through difficult circumstances. An example would be when I got my first job after collage. It was such a great opportunity, I got to apply what I had just learned in school and gain more experience in that field. At first, it was great but over time due to some changes with management, the atmosphere became toxic. Eventually it got so bad that I knew it was time to move on. The only thing was I didn't have the sufficient experience required to move to something else, and I was carrying a financial burden. With student loan debt and other living expenses I felt so overwhelmed; I really didn’t know how to move forward. I am so thankful for those who were aware and stepped in to help me and support me through that time.

At one point or another, we all face those circumstances that seem so difficult and dark, it leaves you wondering how in the world you're ever going to get passed it. In the midst of those circumstances, it wouldn’t matter how much we indulge in material things that may bring comfort, the feeling of being overwhelmed and wanting to quit would still be there. 

This is where family comes in. How encouraging it is having family and loved ones there that can encourage you during those times. I’m so glad that we were not created to do life alone. I believe that God’s intention for a family unit is help each other out by supporting and building each other up. It's that support and encouragement that helps us move forward. Not only is it good to be built up, but it is an honour to be able to help and support those who you get to do life with.

Paul writes about it in 1 Thessalonians 5:11:

11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (NKJV)

For some of us, that may be hard to find in our biological families and for that reason I am thankful for our church family. I believe God’s answer to family is the church. Church is more than just a building, it's a community of God’s family where we can gather, encourage, comfort, support and build one another up.

REMBER BOLANOS Production | Media |I.T

REMBER BOLANOS

Production | Media |I.T

 

21 DAY FAST || YOU ARE LOVED

Family. 

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some at the very mention of the word “family” are instantly overwhelmed with an assortment of feelings. Feelings of discomfort, sadness, bitterness, anger, resentment, hurt and loneliness flood your thoughts and your hearts. Perhaps you have run away from home like the lost son. Or maybe you have been abandoned, shunned, or excluded from your family because you did not meet or live up to expectations that were set. Maybe members of your family have been lost to sickness or addiction. Or perhaps your relationships within your family have merely been forgotten, or bound with fear, brokenness, lies and deceit. The desire to belong to a family that is not plagued by these unattractive characteristics can cripple ones hopes, dreams and desires. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

With that said, not all of us have known family to be these things. However, I believe that we can no longer let those individualities define or steal away the joys that come from belonging to a family. 

I am so grateful that we were each chosen to be a part of an inclusive family.  In Jeremiah 1:5 the Lord says, “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” God chose you! He chose me! He chose us to be to be a part of, to belong to, to be included in, to be protected by, provided for, loved by and pursued by His unconditional, no strings attached, love. 

But love requires sacrifice. Family requires sacrifice. It’s not in God’s nature to withhold from us. He gave everything for us. He gave His one and only son so that you and I could belong to and be a part of His family. 

John 1:12-13 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

We are children of the most high God, born again into His family. We His children are not perfect, but He is. 

May you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are loved, valued and belong. May you be filled with pure joy that comes from the deepest part of your being as you accept your place in His family. I don’t know a better place to be supported, encouraged, challenged, loved and surrounded by family than in His family-in His Church. Church is Home. Home is where everyone belongs and where everyone is welcome. 

If you do not have a place to call home, a place to belong, a place to grow and flourish within the family of God we would love for you join us as we gather, worship and do life together. Click here for service times and details!

In the wise words of Lilo and Stitch: “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”  

KIERSHA HYNNINEN Children's Coordinator

KIERSHA HYNNINEN

Children's Coordinator

 

21 DAY FAST || INVESTED

Psalm 127:1-4

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business to live a more leisurely life with his wife and enjoy his extended family. He would miss the paycheck each week, but he wanted to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go & asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but over time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career. When the carpenter finished his work, his employer came to inspect the house. Then he handed the front-door key to the carpenter and said, “This is your house… my gift to you.” The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

Whether we are building structures with bricks, mortar and steel or building our character, our family, our community or church with truth and love, we cannot succeed without the help of the Lord.  Jesus said “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Psalm 127 is a part of who we are as a church.  We are in the midst of a building construction but we are also in the midst of building lives.  The question is how invested is our heart?

If you read the book of Nehemiah you find a great example of an invested heart.  He was informed that Jerusalem was without walls and he resolved to restore them even with great opposition. At the same time, he reformed the community in conformity with the Law of Moses. His heart was fully invested in what God had called him to build. 

When God called Marv and I into full time ministry, we both knew we were called to build His Kingdom. It was God who opened the door and we were able to step into His plan. I think one of the biggest challenges in building anything is staying fully invested in God and what He has called you to especially when opposition arises.  2016 was a very challenging year for my family and for so many others in our church. Looking back I had to ask myself, in the midst of difficulty did we still have an invested heart?  Did we continue building our marriages?  Were we fully invested in our family, our kids, grandkids and great grand kids?  Did we show up each weekend to serve and love on others?  Did we continue investing in the next generation?  If our heart is a reflection of who we are did we ever stop being who God called us to be?  

We are a Church with an Invested Heart. 2017 will be a miraculous year!

JACQUIE MCGEE Connections Pastor

JACQUIE MCGEE

Connections Pastor

 

21 DAY FAST || THREE STEPS TO UNITY

One of my all-time favourite things is to hear my children laugh. Not just a chuckle, but an all out uncontrollable belly laugh. I think it’s best actually when it’s totally unprovoked and I have nothing to do with it. Angela has asked, while planning a family time, what I want to do and I have said “I just want to hear my kids laugh.” To me this speaks that all is well right now, we are together, and yes - we are unified. 

How much more delight do you think our heavenly father has when he hears us laughing together as we strive toward a common goal?

Psalm 133:1-3 (MSG)

"How wonderful, how beautiful,

    when brothers and sisters get along!

It’s like costly anointing oil

    flowing down head and beard,

Flowing down Aaron’s beard,

    flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon

    flowing down the slopes of Zion.

Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,

    ordains eternal life."

To me this talks about a powerful, valuable moment in time that is anointed and blessed beyond measure and the only thing we need to do is to get along. This is actually taking the time to look into the life of the one next to you on this journey, so much so that you can speak into their situation, share what they are going through and ultimately laugh together.

In a time when the world is filled with so much bitterness and strife, God needs us more than ever to be getting along, walking in unity, and laughing in the face of adversity. This is when we become an unstoppable force reaching a lost and dying world.

Remember these three steps to unity:

One Enemy - Our fight is not amongst ourselves but the rulers of the darkness of this world.

One Heart - When they prayed and were filled with the spirit they were of one heart and mind.

One Purpose - Pray that we are united in thought and purpose.

 

ROD DOELL Production Director

ROD DOELL

Production Director