Join the family of Bethany Evangelical Church as Pastor Mark Willcock shares God's Word each Sunday. His sermons are posted a couple of days after each service. You will be able to hear this new series at the website.
“Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters” was a Simon & Garfunkel song that became very popular about the same time Weyburn and I were married in 1970. I no longer remember when I heard it first, nor do I know how the words became etched in my mind because we did not listen to music radio stations while I grew up, or in the home that Weyburn and I established. However as a Christian, the words resonated with me in the fact that I knew my bridge over any troubled times was my Lord Jesus Christ.
Recently a verse from Isaiah came to my computer via email in a beautiful visualized form.
Isaiah 43:2 "When you go through deep waters, I will be there."
Because of mom’s present journey with cancer, I have latched onto this verse. I have made it my screen saver, and take comfort in it each time I read it.
God is with us as we have the privilege of caring for mom each moment of every day that He leaves her in our care.
I am spending extra time in my sister’s home helping to care for mom. Because of this, I am going to take a break from posting blogs to this website. However, I am writing my thoughts regarding our journey in our CaringBridge website. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jeandouras
We would be honoured to have you join us there and follow God’s work in our lives during the last days mom is with us.
Thank you for your prayers and interest in Discerning Hearts Ministry. Thank you for your prayers for our mom.
I expect to return to writing here in a few months.
Allow God to be your guide as you go through your “troubled waters.”
Have you ever thought it would be nice to know exactly what will happen tomorrow and in the weeks ahead? It might help us prepare better. However, knowing what’s coming would take away so many of the great surprises of life. And, we would also know the tough stuff coming up, which would make it hard to enjoy today.
Mom came to stay with us for several days recently. She and I began to memorize Psalm 51: 10 – 12 together.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
I had also started memorizing James 1:12
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (A very precious promise!)
A few days into her visit we received a phone call from my sister. The results of mom’s recent colonoscopy were in, and it was not what we wanted to hear. My mom has been diagnosed with cancer.
God knew we would need the above verses to bring direction and comfort at this time. He planted the desire to learn them to prepare us for the news of her cancer.
I can honestly say that God is giving us the “right spirit”. He has restored joy. Please understand – no, I’m not happy she has cancer. She has times of fear and sadness. I don’t want her to suffer any more than she has already. Yes, I cried yesterday, in fact as I write this I have tears. However, it is possible to have tears of sadness and joy at the same time; joy and peace knowing that her future and ours are in the hands of an all knowing and loving God.
Knowing some key verses, having them as part of my DNA before a crisis hits has enabled me to navigate each situation. I encourage you to add to your library of memorized scripture today. There are things you can do today to prepare for an unknown future, and knowing God’s word, hiding it in your heart is one of the most important. Be ready for the next challenge in your life. If you are in the middle of difficulty, memorizing God’s Word will give you the knowledge, power and wisdom to handle it.
Just this week I found a website and on-line program that is helping me memorize more scripture. It is very appropriately and simply named Memorize His Word. (http://www.memorizehisword.com)
Its method is similar to writing out the scripture on a whiteboard and then erasing a word or two at a time. But it’s done electronically. It also offers other methods of review, and tracks what you are memorizing. Great site!
We have an awesome God! None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. None of us knows what lies ahead, but God does.
Jeremiah 29:11–14b (ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.“
Memorize God’s Word. Let it fill you, comfort you, and guide you. Be prepared for tomorrow.
Rules of the Road; some of us find it hard to live by them, and some of us don’t. Traffic laws are in place to keep everyone safe. What do you do when you come to a STOP sign, but it is clear that no one else is at the intersection?
Weyburn and I were at our favorite church campground recently and had quite the discussion about what to do at the new STOP signs. During family camp the roads are busy with thousands of pedestrians and hundreds of vehicles. The children run and play on their own enjoying the security of this private campground. The teens and adults also enjoy the carefree living of camp. A couple of years ago, the camp board wisely placed STOP signs at the busiest intersections.
As I mentioned, Weyburn and I were at the campground, but family camp is still a few weeks away and not many others were on the grounds. So, what to do when we come to one of the new STOP signs? We stop of course, or so I thought. Yes I understand there was no one else coming down the road, but the sign says to stop.
There are times in my life when it would be so much easier if there was a huge STOP sign, or WRONG WAY sign, or a big sign that said, THIS WAY ONLY. These signs might help me to stay out of trouble. They might help me from making the wrong decision. But I don’t have those signs…or do I?
My choices reflect who I really am. My choices will eventually determine my effectiveness as a follower of Christ. I believe that my personal choices of activities and entertainment speak loudly about the person I really am.
No matter how strong a Christian I am, Satan will use a seemingly harmless choice to gain a small inroad into my life. He will use his small successes of leading me into spiritually unhealthy choices to lead me into deeper sin. One only needs to look at the life of David to realize that even “a man after God’s own heart” can fall into devastating sin that affects the lives of many. Instead of turning quickly away from the sight of Bathsheba, David kept his eyes fixed on her. He yielded to his human passion and ignored the still small voice warning him that it was wrong. His lingering look led to a string of destructive behavior. It seems that the first sin clouded his judgment and made him completely blind to the sins that followed. He only saw his sin for what it was after the prophet Nathan strongly confronted him.
The next time you sit down to read a book, go to a movie, choose a television program, listen to music, or accept an invitation for a night out, or for coffee, consider these questions:
• Does this decision support my values, or is it leading me into wrong areas of thought?
• Will it help me to accomplish my purpose?
• Will it help or hinder my walk with the Lord?
• Will it promote healthy relationships?
• Does it keep my mind thinking on the things God speaks of in Philippians 4:8?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ESV
After David’s sin with Bathsheba was revealed, he wrote the powerful Psalm 51. As I read this Psalm recently I noticed four things David did so that he could “Make a Right Turn after Going the Wrong Way”. They are five things I need to do when I have failed in my walk with Christ.
Take a few minutes to read that Psalm right now. You will find a link to the scripture at the right.
• Recognize My Rebellion (The whole chapter)
• Repent of My Sin (vs 16 – 18)
• Renew My Joy (vs 10)
• Rejoice in My Lord (vs 8)
• Reveal My God to Others (vs 13)
Let’s do our best to pay close attention to the traffic signs God gives to keep us from sin and temptation. When we do fail, let’s be like David and follow the steps to a restored relationship with our Saviour.
I have the best of both worlds. I was born and raised in the United States of America, and have now lived in Canada for close to 47 years. My US passport allows me to travel in and out of my birth country as often as I like. My Canadian Permanent Resident Card allows me to enter my adopted country without worry of being turned away.
This week, both of these countries are observing special celebrations. Canada Day on July 1st, and Independence Day on July 4th. Although these celebrations have quite different origins, the countries enjoy the same types of freedoms and liberties. We have the freedom to choose our life’s work and career. We have the freedom to gather together and worship our Saviour. We have the freedom to hold to individual thoughts, beliefs and opinions. We have the freedom to express those opinions while respecting the rights and freedoms of others.
The day that I decided to follow Jesus and accept His forgiveness, I became a Child of God and a Citizen of God’s Kingdom. As a daughter of the King of Kings, I gained additional freedoms and liberties that day. I gained freedom from the punishment for my sin, and I gained the liberty of knowing that my future, though not always easy, is directed by an all knowing and loving God.
Several months ago an acquaintance of mine made a statement that prompted me to study the scripture about our freedom in Christ. I wanted to be sure I was clear on my understanding of just what this freedom means to me, and how it ought to affect my lifestyle.
There are many verses that speak of freedom. One verse speaks of both having freedom, and being a slave.
”As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil.” 1 Peter 2:16 (HCSB)
Paul writes about lifestyle liberties in his letter to Jesus’ followers living in Corinth.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV
Yes, I may have the “right”, to do what I want to, but I need to keep several things in mind. Is it beneficial to me and to others? Is it constructive? Will it make me a better person? Will this behaviour benefit only me, or will it also help those whose lives I touch?
Above all, I must keep in mind what I read in verse 1 Corinthians 10:31:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Whatever I choose to do, or say, will it bring Glory to my Creator, Saviour and Lord?
It’s June, and my thoughts automatically turn to my father. Dad passed away on Father’s day morning, June 21, 2009, a bittersweet time in the life of our family. We knew we would miss him terribly, but we also knew he was now in the presence of his Lord and Saviour.
Dad taught me many things. He spent hours teaching me to throw a ball, ride a bike and drive a car. The time he spent with me was special, and it mattered to me.
One phrase that I remember him saying is: “Debi, don’t believe everything you read.”
These words came to mind as I thought about all the conflicting messages we are given throughout a day. Dad gave me that warning years ago referring to the local newspaper which was the main source of daily news at that time. If dad were to warn me today, he would need to include all media. We have media messages assaulting us everywhere. How do we determine what is true? How do we know which products are best, which ideas are true, and which politicians we can believe? We must be diligent and do our research.
One of our daughters faced an important life decision several years ago. I happened to watch Oprah one day and she was addressing the subject our child was facing. The way the subject was handled helped me formulate questions that I could present to our daughter. These were questions that she needed to answer before she could continue in this particular relationship. With God’s guidance, our daughter was able to make the right decision. Oprah’s program helped that day, in that situation, but, Oprah is not always right.
Today we have access to a multitude of people with a variety of philosophies and beliefs. Many of these people have great ideas and helpful tips, but when they begin to approach spiritual areas, we need to have discernment. Remember Satan’s purpose, since his first conversation with Eve, is to present us with lies, and half truths. Through “popular thought” and “modern ideas” he is able to confuse us. No one person is always right, and no one is always wrong. We need to study these things for ourselves. We need to be sure any “new” ideas are in tune with God’s Word. If we spend quality quiet time in His Word, asking Him to show us His truth, He will help us discern real truth.
Before accepting a new idea, be sure to study it in light of all scripture, and seek the council of men and women in whom you see God at work consistently. Remember God’s teaching in Philippians 1:9-11:
“9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless (T) in the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that [comes] through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Genesis 1:21 (HCSB)
So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Psalm 104:25 (HCSB)
Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.
Recently Weyburn and I spent a morning discovering some of the wonders of God’s creation at the new Ripley’s Aquarium Canada. We are treating some of our children and grandchildren to this experience for their Christmas gift. This was our second trip to the aquarium in two months and I saw things that I had not noticed the time before. I look forward to discovering something new during each of our next two visits. The beauty and complexity of God’s creations are truly amazing.
As we walked among the dozens of displays viewing God’s handiwork, our son Don said something like: “…and to think that some believe there was no plan to this, it just happened; that the variety and complexity of the sea life we are seeing was not created by God.”
Weyburn and Don later sat down as the children were engaged in the interactive displays. They began to talk about the improbability of the millions of species all evolving from one cell. They were having a special conversation between father and son sharing their thoughts and their faith. However, that was not all that God had in mind. A young man, unknown to Don and Weyburn, “happened” to be standing beside them listening, and he joined the conversation saying, “They dropped out of grade 10.” I think he was trying to say that the life form, instead of continuing to evolve to the next stage, stopped, or “dropped out of grade 10.” That’s as much as I heard. If you know me, you know that I hate confrontation. I walked away, knowing my men could handle this discussion of creation vs evolution. If you know the Snider men, they do not step away from any theological challenge or discussion. As it turned out, this special young man is Jewish. They bantered back and forth for quite a while. As I walked around taking pictures of our grandchildren, I watched and prayed from across the very busy room. God was at work. It was a very friendly discussion, each one speaking and then listening to the other. As the discussion came to a close, Weyburn challenged the young man to read his Torah asking God to show him the truth. Weyburn also challenged him to read Isaiah 53. The young man promised that he would.
That morning, as the seven of us gathered in the SUV to leave for Toronto, Don asked me to pray and ask for God’s blessing on the day. I thanked God for this time we were going to have together, I asked Him for safety, and then I asked Him to help us all to be a shining light for Him. I’ve prayed this many times before, but have rarely seen God answer is such an obvious way.
Needless to say, we are praying for this man. I’m not sure if Weyburn and Don were planting the seed or watering seed that had already been planted, but we are praying that soon God will bring in the harvest of this soul.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6 (KJV)
Have you planted seed lately? Have you watered?
Posted: 21 Mar 2014 12:50 AM PDT
In the spring of my Senior year, when this journey really started, I had no idea what this year would hold. And now, as I begin to “look back” on it all, my heart is wrecked with all sorts of emotions but mostly gratitude. A year ago I was in a Social Justice class dreaming of helping women who were slaves to prostitution. A year ago I wrote a paper about how my views of prostitutes changed after watching the documentary “Very Young Girls.” A year ago I texted my dad in the middle of class, with tears in my eyes saying “I don’t think I am supposed to go to college” The quiet journey of packing up my life and moving to Africa started to unfold in March of 2013. And now, in March of 2014 as I live the reality of serving women who were once in prostitution I am blown away!! The Lord is so gracious and kind.
His holy orchestration of every detail about this year is mind blowing. In August, weeks before I moved I had no house or roommate. Hours after arriving in Ethiopia he provided an amazing house, far past my expectations of what I would have here. He provided a friend to live with me, Rahel. Even days before leaving, I struggled to find the words to tell people exactly what I was doing in Ethiopia. But this is the crazy, adventure of saying yes to Jesus. You don’t always get the details, you sometimes just get the call.
The more I learn to trust God the more I realize that He will provide radical opportunities if I just say yes. One example…a week after I got back to Ethiopia, my “boss” (I don’t know any other word, but basically the woman who gives me projects/assignments) said “Becca we need you to teach a class to woman who know zero English, and its an hour away” I was hesitant to say yes, but I am so thankful I did. This class is full of hilarious, curious, smart women. The Lord has blessed this class and provided me with so much patience and kindness for them. I look forward to Thursdays, I absolutely love going to Sires to hang out with and teach these women. 3 months ago they couldn’t say Hello and now they are reading children’s books perfectly. Amazing, right? It is all a testament to the Lords remarkable ability to work when you say yes to his callings. This is joy!!!
It is a beautiful and scary thing to listen to the Spirit’s woos that come in our life. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always the popular thing. I was one of three students in my graduating class who didn’t go to college. But I have learned time and time again that it is so worth it to say yes.
Exciting things are happening here! I leave for Kenya in 5 days. I am working on multiple video projects. Classes are wonderful and fun, like always. Thank you for your continued support and kind words!!
Love from Addis,
Originally posted on: http://ethiopiamoments.blogspot.ca/ Reposted with permission.
Pain and suffering, heartache and struggles are things none of us enjoy, but are familiar to us all. I have friends in two separate situations that are facing extremely difficult times right now. As far as I know, all involved are following Jesus, and trying to obey Him. My heart breaks for them, and I wish that I could take their pain away, if only for a few hours. What I can do is assure them that God is with them and will stay with them every step of the way.
The Bible reading plan that I am following this year had me reading Psalm 34 a couple of weeks ago. In the margin of my Bible, next to the text, I found a date - August 8, 2009. This date brings back a flood of memories. I see now that the content of these verses, and the truths that the speaker pointed out that day, were just what I had needed to survive the next couple of years. I didn’t go back to these verses and consciously follow their guidance, but today I realize the instruction God gives in those verses became part of who I am, and became the way I thought and behaved.
This Psalm brings direction, hope and promise to all who are facing struggles and situations that seem desperate. The verses in Psalm 34 indicate that there are some things we need to do, and, there are things the scripture promises that God will do. The following are a combination of the truths the speaker mentioned in 2009, and some I identified in my current study.
Accept the Lord’s Plans
verse 1 "I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. "
Admit the Problem (take the problem to Him)
verse 4 "I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears."
Applaud God’s Greatness (Rejoice in Him)
verse 1 - 3 "I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad. Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me; let us exalt His name together."
Abide in God alone (Take Refuge in Him)
verse 8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in him."
verse 18-19 "The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit. Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all."
Redeems Us (He buys us back)
verse 22 "The Lord redeems the life of His servants, and all who take refuge in Him will not be punished."
We are all familiar with the concept of praising God during hard times. You may be tempted to be angry that these hard times are part of the Lord’s plans. But I think of Job. It was Satan’s idea to tempt Job and bring devastation to him. God allowed it, because He knew the trials would make Job even stronger.
August 26, 2009 will be ingrained in my memory forever. This was the day our 3 ½ year old grandson was diagnosed with leukemia. We did not like what Jon-Marc had to go through, but God has made each member of our family stronger and better Christians because of it. Jon-Marc’s parents have grown in amazing ways. Yes, they had horrible days, they had times of questioning God, but they never turned from Him; they asked for His help and strength.
Yes, heartache comes to the Christian, but God is there. He WILL deliver! He will redeem. He will make up for all of the struggle you are going through and will reward you for taking refuge in Him.
He wants to be with you today. If you are facing the most difficult time in your life, don’t despair. There is hope, and the future will be brighter. Get to know Psalm 34 well. Make it part of your daily reading and practice its instruction. Then claim the promises God gives to all who will trust in Him.
Have you ever felt “out of sorts”, left out, or neglected? Sometimes things don’t go the way I would like them to. Sometimes my ideas go ignored. You’ve probably got buttons of your own that, when pushed, send you into a “funk.” There are so many things that can put me in a bad mood and ruin my day. But, years ago I realized that I have a choice to make. I can continue to wallow in self-pity, or I can determine to do what is right and have a pleasant attitude. The verse in Acts 11:23 describes how I need to live in all circumstances.
When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
Barnabas had traveled to Antioch to investigate rumors that a group of unknown men were preaching about Jesus. The Apostles were concerned that this group might be preaching false doctrine. However, it seems that it didn’t take long for Barnabas to discover these men were indeed preaching truth and their ministry was being blessed by God. The verse states that “he was glad.” Some versions translate the word “rejoiced.” He was excited to see God working among these people. It doesn’t say so here, but I can imagine that Barnabas whispered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Then, true to his nature, Barnabas “encouraged them.” He went on to give these new followers of Jesus specific direction. He encouraged them to continue with the Lord “with PURPOSE.” They were to live a life pleasing to God with intention and determination.
It’s easy to fall back on the old “I’m a woman; it’s my hormones” excuse. Yes, hormones are real and we don’t have complete control over them. But, often it is not the female hormones. Both men and women fight bad attitudes.
Several years ago my pastor’s wife walked past me in the busy church foyer and didn’t stop to speak to me. I remember being faced with two choices of thought. The selfish, touchy Debi could have thought, “She walked right past me today at church and didn’t even acknowledge that I was standing there.” Or, the patient, understanding Debi could have thought, “She walked past me today and didn’t speak. She is so busy. I am sure she must have a dozen things on her mind. I’ll give her a call to see if there is something I can do for her.” And then, I could take it further and remember to pray for her as she faced all the pressures and responsibilities of being a pastor’s wife.
Many things can put us “out of sorts” if we let them. Many people in our lives seem to bring out the worst in us and get us into a bad frame of mind. I encourage you today to remember, and heed the words of Barnabas:
“…with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”
Then you will be able to say with confidence:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” Psalm 28:7