Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday of Retreating

Quite frequently in our hurried world,  we forgot to take time to be with God.  Today is the day to be with God through prayer.

Today you will be asking God to take your faith and put it into action.   Sit in your chair, upright but comfortable, with your back supported. Place this Devotional somewhere where you can still read it but it won’t slip or slide onto the floor. Let your body relax (without slouching), with your feet on the floor in front of you and your hands at rest on your thighs or joined in your lap.

Take a few deep breaths and relax in God’s presence.    Relax in God’s presence by saying, “Father in heaven,  by the power of Your Holy Spirit and the healing of Your Son,  purify me from being too wrapped up in myself.  Keep my mind from wandering, and my thoughts pure.  Help me to understand what I read and let it deepen my love for You, that in union with Your Son, Jesus Christ, and Your people everywhere, I may add my praises to the prayers of all Your people in the glory of heaven."

 Now let your whole attention focus on what you can feel in your body.   Start at your feet and say the following prayer, then say the following prayer:   

Holy God,  You created my  feet to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my feet  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Next focus on your ankles and pray: Holy God,  You created my  ankles to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my ankles  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Next focus on your knees and pray: Holy God,  You created my  knees to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my knees  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Next focus on your hips and pray:  Holy God,  You created my  hips to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my hips  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Focus on your back and pray:  Holy God,  You created my  back to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my back  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Focus on your heart and pray:  Holy God,  You created my  heart to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my   heart serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day.
Focus on your mind and pray:  Holy God,  You created my  mind to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my mind  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Focus on your  ears and pray:  Holy God,  You created my  ears to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my ears  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day.
Focus on your eyes and pray: Holy God,  You created my  eyes to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my eyes  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Focus on your mind and pray:  Holy God,  You created my  mind to be joyful in Your presence.   Let my mind  serve You with gladness and may I come into Your presence with joyful song this day. 

Great God,  Holy  Comforter,  and Divine Healer,  to You I humbly offer my soul and body,  my thoughts and ideas, my words and my actions,  my hopes and my fears,  my heart and all its affections.  All that I have and all that I am, to be governed and guided by You this day so that my faith  will become my action this day.  In Jesus’ name I ask this.  Amen.
(adapted from “God of Surprises” by Gerard Hughes  and “Seven Whole Days” by  Mowray Publishing)
Many blessings!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Resting in God's love Friday

A day of surprises.   As we arrived at the Museum early and worked over lunch hour (and I was feeling sick),  I said to Old Son, "Let's leave work early".     Old Son lept up from his work station and said, "Sounds good".   We decided to catch Bus #10 which would put us within six blocks of home.  Imagine our surprise when Bus #10 ended up 15 miles north of where we wanted to be.    We've never had this happen before but it didn't seem to be surprising for anyone else on the bus.  Hummm!   The next bus was either within 15 minutes or an hour and a half wait.... so we went to a fast food restaurant and had supper.    Old Son finished up early and said, "I think I can run for the next bus... I know you can't run so I'll see you at home."   
I finished up supper and slowly hauled myself to the bus stop.   With an hour and a half until the bus came,  what to do?   It was a great time of sitting in the shade on a beautiful day being able to pray for those who needed prayer as well as remembering that I'd brought along some new quilt calaculations to do.    A great time.    The bus came and went to the correct place.

Isn't it amazing how sometimes we think we know where we are going but God leads us down a different path.   And it is a path of love and joy!

Friday Retreat....
Prayer:    Great God,  You walk beside us each day.  You carry us when we are burdened.  You protect us within and without.    For this we give You our thanks and praise.  You are our God and we are Your humble people.    Amen.

Read St. Matthew 23:  16-22

Third Woe:  Woe to you,  blind guides!  You say if anyone swears by the temple it means nothing but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.  (Or translated another way…. If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that is serious   The Message Translation  Matthew 23: 16)

Sacred Space sums up these verses as:  Here Jesus’ attack is directed at the leaders’ greed and their corruption of religion for material gain. They persuade people to swear by the gold of the temple and make them pay. People are told not to swear by the altar but by the gift they have put there. Which is more holy, Jesus asks, the temple or the gold which the temple makes holy, the altar or the gift which the altar sanctifies? Again, in the name of holiness, the Pharisee-types are exploiting the poor.
Daily we see the abuse of authority and power, whether in the Church, in government, in business leading to all kinds of greed and corruption which undermines the very fabric of societies. Positions of service are turned into instruments of personal gain, often at the expense of the weakest and the most needy. Countries which long ago should have become rich and prosperous and provided with a high quality of life for their people are bankrupt, in every sense of the word, while a small elite live lives of shameless luxury.
The Church, too, can find itself over-concerned with matters of money at the expense of its pastoral mission. A Church that is rich in a world of poverty and need is a major stumbling block to the hearing of the Gospel.”    (   Monday of Week 21 of Ordinary Time – Gospel)

Prayer:  Creator,  Redeemer,  Sustainer;  Your peace You have given to us.  Your peace we share with others.   You remind us continually that You lift up our troubled hearts.  May we bring to You this day our Churches so that the Light of Your Word will shine out into the community and bring  about a community which is whole and healed.  This we ask in Your Son’s name.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Thursday Retreating

It was wonderful weather here yesterday.   The perfect day for sitting outside and enjoying God's  creation.    Old Son and I were inside most of the day working on the Loaned Collection and other Museum paperwork.  On Tuesday we had received a donation from a family who's  relative was killed in WW2.  This gentleman was an Air Gunner but had actually done some service with the XII Manitoba Dragoons in 1939.    It is frequently tearful to read letters written home by a young lad who was killed at age 21.   

At lunch,  Old Son and I did get outside for a walk to the WoodJoynt Gun Shop.    Ah yes,  the Gun Shop is within walking distance of the Museum :)

This day,  remember to take time to be in God's presence... especially if the weather is nice and you can sit outdoors!

Thursday Retreat....
Prayer:    Healing God,  we ask for Your Healing touch to be upon us this day so that we can turn around and help others who are in need.   But in all things may Your will be done. Amen.

Read St. Matthew 23: 13 -  15

And now begins the Seven Woes from Jesus.  
First Woe:  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees because you shut the Kingdom of heaven on men’s faces.  Their lives have become road blocks to God’s kingdom. 
Through their many rules and laws,  they were blocking the love of God.

We need to be conscious of these Woes as well.   This next week will be a time of looking inward at ourselves and asking ourselves if we too need to be cleansed of the Woes.     

Are we a stumbling block to those who want to worship God? Do we go to Church each Sunday and attend Bible Studies then turn around and get angry at our family or friends?  Is our attitude causing others to not want to attend Church?

When you partake of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism,  do you know what you are doing and why?  Have you ever studied the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism?

Second Woe:  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees because you travel over the land and sea to win a single convert then make them into something worse than you.

It wasn’t the converting that is the problem here but it is taking a person who is new to the faith and binding them by the rules and laws even worse than themselves.   

Do we invite our friends and family to church and then teach them false beliefs?  Or do we not know what we believe to start with and then can’t share what we believe with others?

Prayer:  Almighty God,  turn our thoughts this day to Your Word which guides us and takes us into action for You.   May Your healing flow down upon us so that we can help others who are in need.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wednesday with Rain and Sunshine

A couple of months ago,  one of the Synod Ministers went to Africa on a Tour of Missions and Churches.  He came back enthused with wanting to donate Theological books to  the Ministers of one of the African nations.  Upon Graduation,  most Ministers of this African nation do not have theology books nor commentaries.  Most Canadian Ministers rely on good commentaries and theological books for their ministry.      This is a great project and monies were donated.  Yet,  months later the hospitality and sharing has fizzled.    And that is so sad.    Monies were donated and all the Synod thought this to be the end of their responsibility.      I think not.    We should be keeping the new Ministers in our prayers.... we should be writing letters of encouragement to the new Ministers.... we should be making sure that the books purchased are excellent books that are truly needed and not just someone's old cast-offs.... we should be inviting the new Ministers to Canada to show them our Missions and Churches and learn more about their Missions and Churches.    Mission and Ministry is more than just giving money.    Mission and Ministry is about opening ourselves to hearing the call of God to do God's work in the world.  

Retreating in God's love....
Prayer:  Healing God,  help us to be a shining example of who You are this day.  Help us to lead by example in Your Word. Help us to lift other’s burdens so that they may see Your love.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 23: 1 – 12

This portion of Scripture begins with Jesus saying to the Disciples and the crowd that they must obey the Laws and the Pharisees and the Lawyers but do not do what the Pharisees do as they do not practice what they preach.

While the Pharisees have all the right laws,  they have gone overboard with the Laws and the rules.  Instead of helping people to understand the Word of God,  the Pharisees have created too many rules  and have placed these rules into bundles and place these bundles on people’s shoulders.  The bundles of rules then weigh heavy upon people’s shoulders but the Pharisees do not help to unload the burden.

Jesus says that the Pharisees have all the right stuff to show that they are devote yet their finery does nothing to bring themselves nor the people closer to God.     While they wear the scriptures around their arms and head,  they have not brought the scriptures into their hearts.  While they wear beautiful prayer shawls,  they do not pray.   While they like the head places at any dinner table and to be called Rabbi or Master,  they have not earned their title through keeping the Word of God alive in their hearts nor in the people’s hearts.

Instead of wearing all the right clothes and accessories to be a teacher or Master,  each should be a servant first.  

What about our Churches today?   Have we gone overboard with all the right clothes and   accessories   but have forgotten the basics of teaching the scriptures so that each of us have the living Word in our hearts?
Something you should check out this week at your Church.   Are there Bibles in the Church pews?   And if there are not Bibles in the pews and this is the Word of God,  where is the Church’s priorities?   Learning the Scriptures so the words become alive in our hearts is our priority.       If there are no Bibles in the pews,  you should be asking the Minister and Elders why there are no Bibles.  
Prayer:  Great God  we come into Your presence asking for Your healing upon our weary souls.   Great God we come into Your presence asking for Your healing upon our troubled minds.  Great God we come into Your presence resting in Your glory.  And we say thank You! This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Amazing Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!   We have been away on a holiday for five days in Bismarck North Dakota.   It was an awesome holiday.   Yet the Church we attended on Sunday was so sad.  The minister had been asked to leave after a portion of the congregation basically said, "We don't like the changes you are bringing".  How sad.   How terribly sad that that portion of the congregation does not realize that Worship of God does not stand still.  Worship of God changes as we grow in our love of God. 

Too frequently these days we hear of congregations tossing their ministers. If the Session has a problem with a minister,  it should be dealt with at Session through much prayer and retreat.  If a portion of the congregation rises up and tosses out the Minister,  the Session needs to be reminded of their Spiritual Leadership and meet with the portion of congregation who are upset and tell them the process for peacemaking.   Having the congregation sign a petition to get rid of the Minister is not it.  This just leads to more conflict and anger within the congregation.

Peacemaking.   While this sounds so simple,  it really is this simple.   Prayer, reading Scripture, and Retreat.     Reflecting upon God and the love of God will take away the anger and conflict.

Many prayers for all Sessions and congregations undergoing conflict and anger.  May they see God's love and grace.

Tuesday retreat....
Prayer:   Lord Jesus Christ,  You know what we need before we ask.  You know our thoughts before they are formed in our minds.   You are full of compassion and love. Help us to share this compassion and love with those we meet this day.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Read  St. Matthew 22: 41 – 46

As the Pharisees are trying to regroup themselves after Jesus’ revelation of Commandments (from yesterday’s  Devotional),   Jesus asks them two questions:  “What do you think about the Christ?  Who’s son is he?”
The Pharisees reply, “David’s son”.       Remember that in the Old Testament it is written that the Messiah would come up from the line of David.   Yet Christ did not get his authority from his physical descendant but from God.   The Pharisees were hoping for a Messiah that would overthrow the Roman Rule.  

Jesus then asks the Pharisees why David would call the Christ LORD (the unspoken name of God)  and not son.      Jesus quotes to them from Psalm 110:1    The Pharisees are stumped.  Why indeed if the Christ is to be David’s son (or descendant) would David call the Christ,  LORD.       David was looking for the Christ… the one who would return everyone to God,  not one who would overthrow governments.  

Do we have times when we want the Scriptures to be read in our favour?   For instance,  I’m sure somewhere in the Scriptures it says to eat a chocolate bar for one’s health.     But  in reality,  does Scripture really say we need to eat chocolate bars?  No, not at all.    Sometimes what we want to hear (or read) is not what is actually written.  This is the time we must rely on God and ask God to open our ears and hearts to the Scriptures.

Prayer:  Great God,  we make known our requests to You in prayer.  Give ear to our prayers and attend to the voice of our supplications.  This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Many blessings.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Most Amazing Monday

Prayer:  Eternal and most Merciful God,  have mercy upon us.   Eternal and most Merciful God,  have mercy upon us.  Eternal and most Merciful God,  grant us Your peace.   Amen.

Read St. Matthew 22: 34 - 40

Then the Pharisees then approach Jesus with some more questions for a time of testing.    Their question is:  Which command in God’s law is the most important.

Can you almost hear the intake of breath as the Pharisees wait with baited breath for Jesus’ response?

And Jesus replies, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”   Then Jesus states that that is the first greatest commandment… the second greatest commandment is, “Love your neighbour as yourself.   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments!

Wow!  What a response.    Jesus combines two commandments -  one from
Deuteronomy 6:5 and one from Leviticus 19: 18. 

Why did Jesus combine two commandments?  Well,  if we read the whole verse of Leviticus 19: 18 it reads: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself.  I am the LORD.”   The Pharisees would know this scripture and would know that they are actually going against this very commandment.  Humm.

Today,  take these two commandments and go out and live them!

Prayer:   Great God,  help us to love You with our whole hearts and with our souls and with our minds.   Help us to turn to our neighbour and see them from Your eyes.  Help us to love our neighbours as ourselves.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday Worshipful Sunday

Almighty and merciful God,  in the face of much that seems to deny Your presence, we give You greatful thanks for the victory of Christ, that has become our victory in him.  We thank You for revealing Yourself  in Jesus our Saviour.  He blessed little children when adults thrust them aside.  He touched lepers and made them whole; wept at the death of a friend; confronted fear in the darkness of a garden; was subject to the torturer’s lash and the scoffer’s tongue.  And he suffered as we suffer.  We thank You that in his death and resurrection, Christ has overcome all that can destroy us.  We thank You thank nothing in our lives, no power or principality, no occasion of pain or fear, can ever separate us from Your love.  In our weakness Your strength is shown.  Help us, Gracious Lord, so to bear our infirmities before the world that we may testify to Your strength and become to others a means of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with You and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory through all the ages.  Amen!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Wow Saturday

Prayerful Saturday.....
Great God we lift up to You in prayer this day the Youth and Leaders and Organizers heading off to Canada Youth 2012 in July.    Provide them with travelling mercies and a time of learning more about You.  May they return home with renewed enthusiasm in sharing Your Gospel  with their Church and Community.  Prepare our hearts and minds and souls for Your Word on Sunday.  Great God,  may we listen to Your Good News and eagerly work for Your glory.   This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

In July,   Presbyterian Youth, Leaders, and Organizers from all over Canada will be attending Canada Youth 2012 at Brock University in St. Catherine’s ON.    There are two youth attending from Knox Neepawa,   seven youth attending from First Brandon,  one leader from Zion-Knox Carberry,   three youth from Winnipeg Inner City Mission,   and 10 youth – leaders from  various Churches in Winnipeg,  

Friday, 22 June 2012

Astonishing Friday

Friday retreat.....
Prayer:    Bless us Lord as we read Your Scriptures and seek to do Your work.   Open our eyes to Your Scripture so that we gain wisdom in doing Your will when others ask of us to take a stand for our beliefs.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 22: 23 – 33

Yesterday’s  Scripture reading and today’s Scripture reading are all about  a  time of testing.  Next the Sadducees come to Jesus and ask him a question.   And they ask Jesus a question about something they do not believe in.  How weird is that!   They ask Jesus about a woman and her seven husbands and what happens to them all in the resurrection --  who’s wife is she?     But the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection at all.    So why ask a question about something you do not believe?    The Sadducees ask this question to try and trap Jesus into giving an answer that would be theologically unsound and to be able to bring Jesus up to the attention of the Chief Priests and Court.

How does Jesus respond to their question?  Jesus says that at the resurrection,  everyone is beyond marriage…. we will all be one with God.   God is the God of the living.

The crowd that had gathered were amazed.  But we do not know what the thoughts of the Sadducees.

Prayer:  Great God,  You have called us to be Your Church.  You have called us to work together with our brothers and sisters in sharing a common faith and hope.  Together may we spread the Good News of our Lord and Saviour to those who need Your love and hope this day.   In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Thursday retreat.....
Prayer:   Gracious God,  may we live in Your Spirit of wisdom.   Help us to  grow in faith, hope,  and love, and be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.   Amen. 
Read St. Matthew 22: 15 – 22

The Pharisees  and some of Herod’s followers attempt to trap Jesus by proving they have more knowledge about the Kingdom of Heaven than Jesus. The Pharisees and Herod’s followers had such differing beliefs,  it is amazing they got together.   The followers of Herod were all about Rome and the Roman Law.  The Pharisees were all about following the Law of Moses and Worship of God. 

 They try to discredit Jesus’s teachings by asking him a trick question.    Jesus knew they were up to no good.  They  ask Jesus if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar.   If Jesus answered “no” then the followers of Herod would exclaim that Jesus was against the law of the land and Rome… and could be arrested.  If Jesus answered “yes” then the Pharisees would exclaim that Jesus was for (or pro) the oppressive government which was destroying the Jewish Laws and way of life.     Which ever way Jesus answered this question, he would be in deep trouble. 

Jesus asks if they have a coin.  They do have a coin.  Jesus asks them whose name is on the coin.  The Pharisees and Herod’s followers  respond, “Caesar”.   Jesus replies that they must give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

In our Churches today  we still heed Jesus’ answer.  We need to give to the Government what belongs to the Government and give to God what is God’s.       Today look around you and see what ways your Church can help the Government and Local Government.
You might be surprised at what you find and surprised at the  way the Church can help.

Prayer:  Almighty God,  we are Your hands and feet and continue Your ministry in and through the Church.   Grant us wisdom and increase our faith to use the gifts that You have given us to further Your kingdom.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

Many blessings!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wednesday Aaaah

Yesterday we ended up with 16 Students and Leaders and Teacher from Keeseekoowenin School,   a Canadian-Ukrainian family,  a fellow looking for Irish musicians, a Museum Volunteer's  Brother-in-law from Red Deer Alberta,   a Condo Board Director,  a Cap Badge enthusiast,  a Reservist,  and an Officer coming into the Museum.   At the end of the day,  Mr. Neale (Curator Emeratus of 87 years of age) said, "I think I need a seat!  I am tired!"   Indeed.  Yet his enthusiasm never waned.   How neat is that!  Joyous Occasions.

Wednesday Retreat....
Prayer:   Holy God,  as we go out into the world this day, may we know Your presence as we give witness to Your love and grace.   Help us to know the peace of Christ in times of trouble, doubt, and sorrow.  Help us remember that You are with us in our life’s journey.  For this and all things, we give You thanks and praise.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 22: 1 - 14

Jesus tells the Chief Priests and Elders another Parable.   Jesus begins by saying,
“The Kingdom of God is like a King who threw a wedding banquet for his son.” 

Everyone likes a wedding!  It is a time of great joy!   Yet this was a wedding were all of the invited guests would not attend.  WHAT?  Who wouldn’t want to attend a wedding?
God’s love is open to all but many ignore God’s love.   

Then  the King tells his servants to go out into the streets and invite anyone to come to the wedding.    People came to the wedding in droves.  It was a joyous occasion.

Yet the King looks out over the guests and spots a man who wasn’t properly dressed. 
In Jewish culture,  guests donned a “wedding garment”…this garment was not an everyday piece of cloth but something saved for special occasions.   This man was not wearing a wedding garment.    But to be asked at the last minute to attend a wedding and then get all upset because a last minute guest isn’t wearing the proper clothes seems to be nit picking.     In fact the King says to the man, “Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!”  The man was speechless.  Then the King instructs his servants to tie up the man and throw him outside into the horrors of life.

Huh?   Does that make any sense?   Why did the King get upset with a guest who was invited at the last minute and then wasn’t dressed properly?  Two reasons.  First  God’s invitation is one of grace. God’s invitation is open to anyone.   Christ dined with tax collectors and sinners.   Yet this one guest at the wedding stands out and then gets tossed out.   Here Jesus is stating that sometimes those who accept God’s grace end up abusing God’s grace.  And that is not acceptable.  There is more to this story than merely wearing the wrong cloths.  This man had the wrong attitude!  Second reason was even at the last minute when one is invited to a wedding and knows that one needs to wear special clothes,  this man decided to be lazy and not take the extra two seconds to find and wear the special wedding clothes. 

Jesus then says that many are invited but only a few make it.   

Prayer:  Great God,  we pray that we may grow together in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.    Strength us by Your Spirit so that we can share Your love and purpose with everyone we meet this day.  This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Amazing Tuesday

Tuesday.    Museum Tuesday.   Today we have school students from Keeseekoowenin School, Elphinstone MB coming for a tour of the Museum, Armoury,  and Soldier Etiquette.    Soldier Etiquette is always walking around the Parade Square.  Never short cut across the Parade Square.  How to salute -- which is like shaking hands and is a compliment.    And never ever touch the guns. Touching guns is like spitting on your friend's shirt... and you never want to spit on your friend's shirt.  Then a short talk on not touching the artefacts.  Poor students already have a list of "don't do this but do do this!"    We have little green, brown, and grey model soldiers hidden in the Museum with the name of an artefact attached to them.   The students get to seek out five little soldiers and write down the name of the artefact that the soldier is guarding.     I sure hope this works.    I think it is fun but will an 8 and 9 year old think it is fun?

It is amazing to take on the responsibility of creating a Museum Tour for 8 and 9 year olds.  And fun too.    Yet the word "responsibility" and the word "Fun" never seem to go together.    Responsibility seems to have reached negative status in our Churches.    Frequently our Minister's  do not take responsibility for their Sermons nor following the regulations of the Denomination.  And why is that?  Because for these Minister's  taking reponsibility is difficult and not fun at all.   How sad when in actual fact,  taking on responsibility for caring and sharing the Good News in Christ is very liberating. 

Today,  look around at the things you are doing and accomplishing and ask yourself, "What responsibility goes with this task?"   Then rejoice in God that you are able to share this task and responsibility in God's presence.   

Tuesday Retreat.....
Prayer:  Lord and Creator of all,  uphold us by Your Holy Spirit so that we can share the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of  knowledge and faith,  the spirit of joy in Your presence.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 21: 33 – 46

This is the Parable of  the Tenants (or also called the Parable of the Greedy Farmhands).  
Just in case the Chief Priests and Elders (and us)  didn’t understand what Jesus was saying about belief in God,  Jesus tells them this parable.

A landowner  plants a vineyard and rents the vineyard to some farmers.  When harvest time approaches,  the landowner sends his servants to collect the fruit.  The farmers kill the servants.   The landowner then sends more servants.  And the farmers kill these servants too.  Then the landowner sends his son thinking the farmers would not kill the landowner’s son.   Yet,  the farmers do indeed kill the landowner’s son. 

Jesus then asks the Chief Priests and Elders what will the landowner do  to the farmers?  The Chief Priests and Elders reply, “The landowner will bring those wretches to a wretched end… and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants who will provide him with his share of the crop at harvest time.”    Do you think at this point the Chief Priests and Elders are saying, “oh oh” with the realization of where this parable is headed?

Jesus quotes Psalm 118: 22 – 23 to the Chief Priests and Elders.   This Psalm was used during the Feast of Tabernacles and was sung at the Temple Gates.  The Chief Priests and Elders would sing about the stone that appeared to be worthless but became a stone in the place of honour.   The original understanding of the stone and cornerstone was the Psalmist (King) was near death and was at the point of collapse.  Now he is delivered by God and recognized as righteous.         From hearing this Psalm being sung,  the community realizes that the deliverance of the King was entirely the work of God.. and that any human contribution was  nothing in comparison with the work of God. 

The Chief Priests and Elders must have been stunned that Jesus is quoting Psalm 118 to them and became even more stunned when Jesus says, “There I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce it’s fruit.  He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed…”  (NIV Translation  Matthew 21: 43 – 44)

We never like to have our responsibilities pointed out to us.  It hurts.   We then have a choice.  We can either ignore our responsibilities and state that everything is fine or we can do an inward spiritual cleansing and really look at how our lives are living to advance the Kingdom of God.     

Prayer:   Lord and Creator of all,  uphold us by Your Holy Spirit so that we can share the the spirit of  knowledge and faith  and know that we live in  joy in Your presence.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Hot Water Monday

On Saturday our Hot water tank decided to quit.  Weekend calls for the plumber is time and a half plus added fees for call-outs and repair times.   Needless to say we are watching our pennies and decided to wait until Monday to call and book an appointment with the plumber.   Hot water.  Who knew Hot Water was so precious?!    And now that we don't have it,  we are finding ways to get around turning on the Hot Water tap.    The kettle has become our best friend.

This is the reverse of last year when Brandon had "The Great Flood of 2011" and we didn't use water out of the taps but used bottled water until the water levels went down and the sewage plant - water treatment plant was declared "not flooded".

Water is something we take for granted until there is a change in our lives that water becomes front and center of our attention.     Kinda like our faith.   Our faith is always present, but becomes front and centre of our attention when something in our life changes.   Seems to me that both water and our Faith always need to be the centre of our attention.     Let us make it so!

Monday Retreat.....
Prayer:   Holy and Gracious God,  may we live in Your Spirit,  grow in faith, hope, and love, and be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit we give honour and glory, now and forever.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 21: 23 – 32

There are two  teachings in today’s  daily devotional.     In the first teaching, the Chief Priests and Elders come up to Jesus and ask him what authority he has to teach in the  Temple.     Like today’s Ministers and Elders,  Rabbis/Teachers were ordained by God through the laying on of hands.  It is through ordination, the laying on of hands, that one is given authority to be a voice for God.     The Chief Priests and Elders ask Jesus by whose authority does he teach, for they knew that they had not ordained Jesus.   

Jesus asks them a question about John the Baptist that would lead to the Chief Priests and Elders looking like fools in the eyes of the people.  Jesus asked them who authorized John’s Baptism – heaven or humans.    If the Chief Priests answer heaven,  then Jesus will respond with a “so why didn’t you believe in John the Baptist as prophet?”    The ministry of the prophet is to bring the people back to God.   Which the Chief Priests and Elders should view as a right thing.   But,  the Chief Priests and Elders did not like John the Baptist’s work.      

If the Chief Priests and Elders answer “humans” then the people will rise up and state to the Chief Priests and Elders that John the Baptist was given the tasking of prophet by God,  not by humans.  In the end, the Chief Priests and Elders say they do not know.   By answering that they did not know,  they show themselves up for not taking a stand on what they believe… for not acknowledging the ministry of John the Baptist.. and for not giving their own authority.  Yikes.   

The second teaching is a parable that Jesus tells to emphasize the importance of standing for what one believes.    A man has two sons.  He asks his two sons to go work in the family vineyard.  The first son says, “no,  I won’t work” but then decides that he will work and off he goes to the vineyard.    The second son says, “Yes I will work” but never shows up for the job.   
Jesus asks which of the sons did what the father asked?  The Chief Priests and Elders answer, “The first son”.  
Jesus responds by stating that the second son are all those who say they believe in God but end up doing nothing in God’s name.   The second son portrays all those who say they believe in God – from believer to ordained – but do nothing to bring about the Kingdom of God.        The first son,  while initially not believing in God,  does end up believing in God.    Jesus then says that the crooks and the whores are like the first son who initially did not believe but now believe.  They will enter heaven. 

While we click our tongues and think, “those horrible Chief Priests and Elders”… are we like them today?   Do we say, “yes we’ll pray for you” and then don’t.   Do we say that we read our Bibles every day and then  don’t.  Do we  say we go to Church all the time and then not listen?

By whose authority do you teach the Good News of Jesus each day?

Prayer:  Great God,  we know that You give us authority to teach the Good News of Jesus each and every day.   Help us to live and walk in the Spirit.  Help us to increase daily in the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as one who belongs to Christ Jesus, our Lord.  Amen.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Almighty and merciful God, we give You humble thanks for all Your goodness and loving kindness to us and to all people.  We thank You for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life; but above all for Your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.  We pray,  asking You to give us such an awarenes of Your mercies, that with thankful hearts, we may offer You praise not only with our lips, but in our lives by giving up ourselves to Your service, and by walking before You in holiness and righteousness all our days.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord,  to whom You and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory throughout all ages  Amen  (PCC Book of Common Worship,  pg 105).

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Preparaing for Sabbath

Planning.   Best laid plans.   Today is the 71 Bty 2520 Brandon Army Cadets Annual Ceremonial Review.  I was all set to go until.... the water tank decided to stop working. And is now dribbling water out of the tank.   Oh oh.    As it is still early,  I am waiting to call the plumber until 0900hrs.     
While waiting for people and phone calls,  it certainly gives one time to pray!

Vacation Bible School.   The story behind the Vacation Bible Schools in Manitoba (Synod of Manitoba and NW Ontario,  Presbyterian Church in Canada)  this year.  
Melita has a community-wide VBS with the Churches in Melita gathering together to create one fantastic VBS.   Awesome!
Westwood Presbyterian Church provides funds for two leaders of the four member VBS team.  A Grant from the Manitoba Government provides funds for the other two members.  This year the Manitoba Government did not provide a Grant for the two VBS members so funds are still required.   
While the four member VBS team goes out to the Presbyterian Churches in the communities listed above,  the local Presbyterian Church is also asked to help pray for this ministry as well as provide healthy snacks for the VBS (as well as setting up for snacks and cleaning up after).
You can be  part of this awesome ministry even if you can’t leave home.  We would ask you to keep the Host Churches,  VBS team, and children/youth in your prayers from now until the last week of August.  Any financial donations you wish to make would be delightfully accepted and can be sent to Westwood Presbyterian Church 
197 Browning Blvd     Winnipeg MB      R3K 0L1
Please mark all cheques with “Funds for VBS” in the memo box.

Holy God.  Holy Mighty One.   God of power and strength,  we give You thanks for the Vacation Bible Schools that are being planned this summer.   Guide the leaders and teachers,  provide enthusiasm for them as they prepare to share Your Good News with the children and Youth in the communities of Melita, Neepawa, Carberry,  Winnipegosis,  Portage la Prairie, Winnipeg, Lockport, and Selkirk.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Preparing for the Sabbath:
Holy God.  Holy Mighty One.  Prepare our hearts this day so that we can come before You tomorrow at Church  with joyful hearts.   For those things we have left undone this week... help us to realize that everything will be accomplished in Your good timing.   For those things we have left unsaid this week... remind us that Your Holy Spirit provides us with inspiration when words are needed.    For those things we have left and not asked for forgiveness this week....  forgive us O LORD for the things we need to ask for forgiveness right now........and we reflect upon Your goodness and Your grace and know that we are forgiven.     Be with those who are in need this day of life and laughter and extra support.   Use us as You would so that we can bring the light of Christ into this world.   Use us so that we can be Your beacon and bring people into Your Holiness.  Open our minds and souls to Your Word that will be heard tomorrow at Church.  Be with those who are preaching and those who are listening.    This we ask in Your Son's name.  Amen.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Most Amazing Friday

Friday.  This week has been a Museum work week and has gone incredibly quickly.    Old Son was seeking cap badge appraisal prices yesterday and gave thanks to the Militaria websites who have searches on their websites!   
Cap Badges are the unit's  logo or crest that military members wear on their berets.  It is what identifies them to all others.    I often wonder what identifies us as Christians.  What about our faith identifies us to all others?    Humm! Something to think about.

Friday Retreat.....
Prayer:  Holy God,  Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us. When we don’t understand Your will,  help us to rest ourselves in Your love.  When we don’t understand Your way,  help us to rest ourselves in Your love.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 21:  18 - 22
This story is one of those “huh” stories.   Why would Jesus curse a fig tree for not having fruit when it wasn’t even fruit season?   Was Jesus still angered over the money changers in the Temple?    Was Jesus just having a bad day?

The Disciples couldn’t believe what happened.  One minute the fig tree was fine and the next minute the fig tree was a dry old stick.

Jesus then explains to the Disciples “If you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles.  This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, “Go jump in the lake” and it will jump.  Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God”.  (The Message translation St. Matthew 21: 21 – 22).  

The importance of faith is the key here.    Faith to live in God.   Faith to pray to God – but the prayers must be God’s will.  

Prayer:   Great God,  we believe in Jesus Christ, Your only Son, our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  You descended to the dead but on the third day You rose again. You ascended into heaven and You are seated on the right hand of the Father.  You will come to judge the living and the dead.  Hallelujah!  Amen. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Thursday Already

These old church doors are from First Presbyterian Church, Brandon.  These are the doors that my Grandmother and Uncles and Aunts and cousins and Dad and Mom and sister opened and closed for years.    But like all good things,  old doors wear out and need replacing.  
I like to sit in the chair on the deck and look at the old doors and reflect on God's goodness.... and the continuation of the Church after so many decades.
Working at a Museum,  the task of any Museum is to preserve the past for the future.   Yet the task of the Church is to actively share the Gospel to be a place for refreshing the people of God.  The emphasis of every Church must not be on preserving the Church building but in actively  inviting the community to worship God.  

Thursday Retreat.....
Prayer:  Holy God, help us to create our homes and our churches as Houses of Prayer.   Help us to create our lives as a shelter for others from the storms of life.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 21: 12 – 17
Jesus enters the Temple to worship and he gets upset.  In fact he gets downright angry.  Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling birds for sacrifice.       Jesus states that the House of Prayer has been made into a den of robbers.

So why were the money changers and sellers of sacrifice animals present?     Jewish males had to pay an annual tax and it could only be paid in the Temple currency.    Temple currency was not used outside the temple,  so all men (those over 13 years of age) would stand in line to exchange their money for the temple currency.    By the time of Jesus,  the money changers were charging exorbitant fees for changing currency.   The money changers were making a profit.

The same way,  those who were selling doves for sacrifice were charging the people way too much and were pocketing a profit.
Then after turning over the money changers and sellers tables,  Jesus heals those who are blind and lame.    
What a paradox!    

How does this portion of scripture reflect upon our Churches today?    Are we hoarding our offerings solely to keep our Church buildings in fine repair or are we  using our offerings to help the blind and lame and sick?   If we are keeping our tithes and offerings to repair the Church,  are we any different than the money changers and sellers of sacrifice animals during Jesus’ time?

Prayer:  Great God,  may we seek Your guidance this day as we listen to Your Word.   Then guide us to the work You need us to accomplish for You this day.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Many blessings!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wednesday's Time of Retreat and Reflection

Wednesday.    Looking at the garden flowers that have just received a lot of rain,  the flowers look so fresh and new!    Sometimes when we go through times of "rain"... times of hardship or times of frustrations,  we certainly don't look fresh and new BUT it if we rely on God and give God our problems and burdens,  we too can be refreshed and renewed.

And just because yesterday was the fantastic Museum day... a photo for you from our last week's Booth at the Brandon Summer Fair:

Old Son, our Museum Student Intern,  holding Officers swagger stick... dummy Roy in the background wearing  WW2 Battledress. 

Wednesday Retreat.....
Prayer:  Hosanna,  Hosanna is the Name of the Glorious King!  Hosanna in the highest our Lord and our God.  We rejoice with You this day and forever.   Amen.

Read  St. Matthew 21: 1 - 11

Traditionally in the Church,  we read this passage of scripture during Palm Sunday.  Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.    The road into Jerusalem is uphill.   Standing  the top of the hill in the Temple,  the Pharisees and Scribes could see this crowd coming into Jerusalem.     The crowd would be singing the Psalms of Journeying to Jerusalem (like Psalm 121).     The Scribes and Pharisees would see people placing their coats on the road before a  man who was riding a donkey .      At least it was a donkey which meant peace and not a horse which meant war.   The crowd was also waving palm branches and shouting Psalm 118.  Palm branches were frequently waved in the procession of the Tabernacles (The Feast of Booths – a time of saying Thank You to God).    The crowd would have been familiar with waving palm branches.   

 Would the Scribes and Pharisees  have known this was Jesus entering Jerusalem?   

We do know that the whole city was shaken and asked “What is going on here?  Who is this?”     The crowd answers, “This is Jesus,  the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee!” 

Prayer:  Great God,  You empower us to live in the newness of life as people of the Word.  Invite us to be renewed this day through Your Words and Your Holy Scriptures so that we can share Your work with the world.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings!