Welcome to Church on the Hill, Glenavon, Sask, Canada





Thursday, August 19, 2010

Street Invaders Return

Sunday Aug 15 was a special day for the church as the Street Invaders (SI) 2010 Australian team told us what they've been doing for the past 3 weeks.


Accompanied by Dianne at the piano, the SI team started the service by leading worship. From left to right are Mike (Grenfell/Kipling), Dianne, Nick (Montmartre), Noelle (Glenavon), Patricia (North Battleford), Samantha (Glenavon), Shanise (Bienfait), and Bailey (Kipling). Missing from the photo is Navonia (Cold Lake).

Noelle said this year's Street Invader's Team was the biggest showing ever with 104 kids responding from Saskatchewan. Our team worked with Ashlee who is a former exchange student to Glenavon. Ashlee's church is about the same size as ours with a regular 60-80 person congregation.

Skit: The Tree with Mike, Samantha and Shanise

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The Tree shows the struggles we go through to get what we want, especially if we're independent. And sometimes we get hurt before we realize we need God or someone else to help us get the result.


Skit – The Lucky with Bailey, Nick and Shanise

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The Lucky shows that we all have an inner beauty. We should be happy with ourself and not compare ourselves with anyone else because that's the way God made us.

Noelle said the leaders guide says to give kids lots of opportunities to witness, so she was going to give the team members a chance to do that by asking them each what they liked best about the mission trip and to name one event that stood out.

Patricia

Liked Best: Being treated as a sister in Christ.

One event that stood out: The grade 7-10 Scripture classes because we don’t have that in Canada. It’s about teaching the different world religions and includes discussion time. The team talked about proper etiquette and the meaning of true beauty much like The shine class for girls in Canada.

Bailey

Liked Best: Fun things like seeing the ocean and beaches.

One event that stood out: The Scripture classes because God really stretched her and made her step out of her comfort zone. The first day was easy because they spoke of Canada and themselves but the next day they had to come up with something new. Where to start a conversation about God with them? All the 10-20 kids were at a different spiritual levels, but once it got going, they had a real God-talk going and she liked clarifying some of their questions. She liked being billeted and the family she stayed with made them her feel at home and showed her around.

Nick

Liked Best: Fun stuff like... painting his name on a rock. This one coast was lined with rocks and they were allowed to paint them. Also, standing in the ocean. And, feeding a kangaroo – it was cool.

One Event that stood out: Australia is so different becaue they are allowed to have Scripture classes in school and they don’t have rules against cell phones in class. Nick said he was going to yell at some kids for having them in class until they told him they were allowed. (laughter)


Noelle said the schools were originally started by Anglican churches and then the gov’t wanted to take over but didn’t have the infrastruture, so the comprise was the gov’t could take over but the church has an input. Scripture classes aren't taught by teachers, but pastors and church leaders. And school officials can’t not allow you to do it. If someone offers to do it, they must allow it. It's optional and the kids don’t have to go, but they do until Grade 10. Not in 11 and 12. It's more common in elementary school. The team did year 7-10, which is our Grade 7-10. They weren't allowed to do altar calls, but could answer questions about God and that was one of the major things they did. Scripture classes were every morning in small groups. There was only one lady from Ashlee's church who wants to do it but physically can’t, so the team helped. Other church members saw this and stepped forward. Maybe it will continue. Noelle said the team members were really stretched to get up in front of kids their age or older and answer questions. It really stretched them out of their comfort zone. The students asked questions like, why does God love them, what about kids starving, what about abortions, etc. These classes were the major thing they did there.


Dance: The Dance with Bailey, Patricia, Samantha and Shanise

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Shanise said The Dance is meant to show that with so many goals, we block out God, but He wants to tear the walls down and that’s what He did for her these past weeks.


Skit: Thirst with Bailey, Nick, Patricia, Samantha, and Shanise

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Thirst is about a thirst for God and nothing else will do. There are distractions in life and you can try them, but you won’t like them.


Skit: Jackets with Bailey, Nick, Patricia, Samantha and Shanise

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About how Jesus is there waiting, like a warm jacket, no matter how much garbage is in your life.


Skit: Computer Addiction with Bailey and Nick

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Bailey said computer addiction is to show how we get so many addictions in our life and we feel we need those more than anything else. We get distracted with techno stuff, computers and cell phones and forget about God. We need to forget those and remember God more.


Samantha

Fun thing: Being with people and in a group of people. Youth groups were fun and to hang out with church people.

Was there something hard to do but you did it anyway?: Sam said they learned the dramas the first day and she worried she wouldn't know them after only a week. She said they played a few games with the Youth Group, like those they play here and other games from Youth Group. Talking time, dramas and connecting with people. On Wed, they joined the prayer walk with group of girls and walked 7 times up the street praying and worshipping God. At one spot drunk guys were hanging out and they kept walking but stopped on the 7th time and witnessed to them. Some of the older youth and boys had started doing this on their own to pray for the people of the town. But the boys had moved away and the parents weren't thrilled their daughters were doing this on their own so the SI team went with them.


Shanise

Fun thing: Petting a koala bear in a park with kangaroos and koalas.

One specific thing that made an impact: Just connecting with the youth, encouraging them to step out. There were kids that started in Youth but were having probs. One thing that made you grow that was different was being so tired and still needing to push on and try your hardest. They arrived late Sunday night and started Scripture classes in the school Monday morning.


Skit: Robots with Bailey, Nick, Patricia, Samantha, Shanise and Noelle

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Noelle took Navonia's part in the Robots drama. Nick said Robots is like being in a rut and we can’t get out. We get locked in sin and can’t get out. This last year, the same people annoyed him. Then he went to Springside Summer Camp and someone took him out of the rut and he got out. God takes us out of the rut.

Noelle said she likes the skit because although the robots are doing what they're supposed to be doing, in the end, the maker gave them joy and the freedom and joy was shared.

Mike said God centered him during boot camp. He felt it was the start of a new season... things he longed for a long time. But, he had to leave boot camp a day early to go back to work and in that day, he already started doubting the things God shared at boot camp. Doubts like, do you really think you can do it and what diff can you do? While waiting to depart in San Fransisco, the pilot said there was a problem with the oxygen and so they waited on the runway. Mike fell asleep. They sat for 2.5 hrs on the tarmac before they left.

So it was a 16 hr flight vice 14. Mike dreaded the long trip, but he opened his Bible and asked God to show him something. It opened to Isaiah 49 which says, 'Listen, you people of coast lands…' We don’t have a coast here. He wasn’t talking abut Glenavon. Mike was awake and knew although God was speaking to Isaiah, He felt it was for him. He read on... 'And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me, And made Me a polished shaft;In His quiver He has hidden Me.' Mike knows sometimes God puts you in a quiver. A little glimpse of life and then back in the quiver.

As Mike continued reading, he felt like he was spinning his wheels with selfish ambition. And then he read, ’...My God has been my strength, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel. I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ Mike said God was saying it's not enough. He had to go farther.

Mike really felt the potential of the group. Something had been trying to take it away, but it came back as a light to the nations. The most exciting thing for Mike was that they were used as firestarters in that Australian community. Many kids had a bad attitude or were scared of the Scripture classes. In the first class, some little boys asked Mike to sing O Canada. He didn’t want to, but he did.

Then, a Gr 12 kid asked if they were a drama group or Christians. At Mike's answer, the kid said, oh, he wanted a drama group because Christians were boring. And then, he walked away. The kid knew, but was making a point. They were smart kids. Then at lunch, this same kid sent a girl over to ask if the team would talk to them. Over lunch, they talked about their faith and kept talking on into the next spare class. And then, they got in trouble because they were talking about it in the class after that. Many questions and opportunies arose.

The next Monday, Mike went to the school to do some photocopying. He didn't bring God up in the conversation, but during the dinner hour, the kids brought it up and began talking again. Mike trusts that God has lit a fire under them. They’re hungry. And that was what really encouraged him. Time and again. The kids had stopped youth and yet, they said they wanted to start youth again.

The prayer walk had been down to a couple girls and they were scared to go out because of the drugs and alcohol. But after the SI team joined them, other church members decided to go.

The pastor and his wife hadn’t been involved with Scripture classes, but after the team went in, they decided they’d dropped the ball and needed to get involved again.

After church on Sunday, one man in tears thanked Mike and the team for going there. He said one of the guys they talked to had been dating his daughter and all he saw was an non-Christian dating his daughter and he didn’t want him around her. But, even though they weren’t dating anymore, this guy decided to go over and witness to the young man. Mike said he really felt they did something over there for God and thank you for the support.

Noelle added that on Sunday, the pastor, who is Ashlee’s dad was sitting beside this guy who was telling the pastor about how God was really talking to him about those boys. The church members were so happy the SI team went there. At one time, the church had been socially active and spiritually aware, but Ashlee said it wasn’t like that anymore.

Noelle felt their main purpose for going was to inspire the church for leaders to step forward, especially where the youth are concerned. Ashlee's mom runs a ‘Mainly Music’ program where parents can bring young 0-5 kids and have a music time to connect while learning rhythm and singing. Noelle enjoyed the program, as well as the morning tea and fellowship which followed it. One of the little girl's grandmother, who was from Ireland, told Noelle how years ago, God used to give her songs, but she doesn’t have it anymore. So, Noelle prayed and talked with her. Even with the younger moms, Noelle could help with the young kids and lunch, etc.

One thing that stuck out for Noelle was in 1 Cor where it says how we all fit together in the body of Christ, and how you have that sense of family when you meet other Christians. People accepted them and loved them and they felt part of that church. It would have been nicer to stay longer. They are in winter.

The team spent 2 days in a primary school to help weeding. But that meant cutting down trees. The rabbits and camels and other introduced species are ruining the land. Introduced plants are choking out the native species, so out in the middle of the huge school yard, they're cutting down trees. Cutting down one camphor oil tree isn’t going to make much of a difference, but it was an awareness and showed their willingness to help.

In our own life, we think something is fun and seeds get planted and start choking off those things God has planted. And sometimes it’s so much work to weed that out and get rid of it. So, we need to be aware of what we let into our lives. So even cutting down the trees spoke to Noelle. She said it really was a good trip. She got to know the young people there and the SI team became good friends with other kids.

Another thing the team did was Community Youth Service in the mountains. They'd just been given a huge grant to fix up the Youth Centre and needed help. Noelle said they were grateful we would go in and just work for a few hours and clean up the bldg.

They would like us to keep Adam in our prayers. A genetic disease is affecting his organs. His liver is shutting down and he needs transplant. He goes on list in Sept. His body holds-in fluids, so he has a big belly and is active, but needs it drained. It cramps and is painful and he needs our prayers. He jokes around and the SI team learned Rule #1 is not to take Adam seriously. He doesn’t go to church although his wife and daughter does.

Before the team left, Ashlee gave them an Australian flag so we can remember to pray for them. And, we left a Canadian flag there for the same reason.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stretch Out of Your Comfort Zone

Scriptures: Judges 6-8, Daniel 6, Daniel 3, Matt 14:22-32

Have you ever watched the extreme sports on TV? Fast speeds. Hanging by your fingertips on a rocky wall only to jump to another spot where there doesn’t seem to be anything to grip on the sheer rock face. And, you wonder how they can do all those things.

Pastor Lorne said a neighbor was putting up a large shed and the guys were walking on the metal roof without safety harness. He said you look at something like that and you think you could never do that.

Pastor Lorne said this message is probably more for himself than anyone. He likes to be comfortable with nothing changing. Surrounded by the familiar and good. But, he thought of a few yrs ago when Noelle came home from school and told them about an exchange student who was having problems and needed to move to a new home for a couple months. They had a family discussion and Pastor Lorne’s family took her in. He said it was a real learning experience. Their life changed and hasn’t been the same since. The student was so eager to learn and do everything and followed him everywhere. Pastor Lorne’s chair and remote weren’t even his any longer. But, he said they were so blessed by the experience, they did it five more times afterward. He said it was a real stretching experience with turmoil at the time, yet the blessings they received outshone the discomfort of stretching out. Still does, in fact. They never know when they’ll get an email or phone call from one of ‘their girls’. God used the experience to bless them. And because of it, our kids (COTH Youth) now have a chance to go down there and witness to them.

Pastor Lorne said it’s good to take normal things in life and stretch them. He doesn’t advocate hanging onto rocks by your fingertips and swinging over an edge, but there will be times you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone. When he first started out, the ministry was the last thing he wanted to do because of his shyness. He struggled with public appearances, although he dealt with them. But, he believes God blesses us and is with us during our life struggles.

With the new church/school year starting in Sept, Pastor Lorne was wondering what to do to stretch the church. He knows he has to live up to his messages and so that includes stretching himself. And, as he thought about all those people in scriptures who were stretched and needed to do things out of the ordinary, he thought he could never do that.

In Judges 6, we find the story of Gideon. The Midianites had taken over Israel and were a total nuisance. They took their grain and livestock and ruined what they didn’t take. They were always bothering them and the people were slaves to them. Out of desperation, the Israelites cried out to God for help. So, the angel of the Lord came to Gideon while he was threshing grain in a wine press and hiding it from the Midianites. In verse 12, the angel said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Gideon didn’t really believe it. He was the lowest person in his small family. They didn’t have much and everyone, including himself, thought he didn’t count for much. (V15) And God’s angel had even found him hiding in a wine press. Yet God came to Gideon. Gideon said, “How can I save Israel?”

How would you react if your country was being overrun by miscreants and the Lord said He was going to use you to get rid of them. Gideon was the least of his father’s clan and he was supposed to fight this big army with only 300 men. He didn’t understand it, but when he realized it really was God directing him, he gathered his faith and surrounded the Midianites’ camp with pitchers and torches and trumpets. On Gideon’s command, his men blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers and holding their torches high, yelled, “A sword for the Lord and Gideon!” (Judges 7:19,20) They made such a ruckus, the confused Midianites drew swords on each other before turning and running away.

In Judges 8:28-32, we read that the Israelites enjoyed 40 yrs of peace after Gideon’s victory. With many wives and concubines, Gideon went on to father 70 sons. Pastor Lorne said, talk about getting stretched… 70 sons? Can you imagine 70 teenage boys in one house? And all those wives? (laughter) But Gideon was a young man who didn’t think much of himself but the spirit of God was on him and he did great things. His name is on all those Bibles found in every hotel room and given out to school kids all over the world.

Pastor Lorne said if you feel God is reaching out and asking you to stretch yourself and do something out of your comfort zone, seek His face. Find out what it is He wants you to do. He thinks God may be calling some of us in the congregation. Because of his age, Pastor Lorne thinks he’s been stretched enough but he knows that’s not true.

Every time Pastor Lorne reads the story of Gideon – a guy hiding in a wine press – he feels encouraged. So, are you going to hide in a wine press? Or, will you go out and step out of your comfort zone for God? God has given all of us special talents, and if we use those talents, we can be a special blessing in the kingdom of God.

Another story of a man being stretched is found in the book of Daniel. Talk about being stretched. Pastor Lorne said he’s afraid of a vicious cat never mind a lion. But Daniel was cast into a lions’ den (Daniel 6:16). Now, the king liked Daniel but because of a decree, he needed to put Daniel into the lions’ den. But when the king went to his room that night, he didn’t drink or eat or sleep. He just rolled about, worrying about Daniel. V19-22 says, ‘At the first light of the dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue from the lions?” Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”’ The king called for Daniel to be lifted out of the pit. Daniel was unharmed even after spending a night with the lions. Pastor Lorne understands these lions would have been kept very hungry, but they never touched him. However, the men who had instigated the event were thrown in the same lions’ den and were devoured before they even reached the den’s floor. Because of Daniel’s faith, the king placed him in a position of authority and respect and Daniel prospered.

Also in Daniel, is the story of 3 men who had to stretch out of their comfort zone. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wouldn’t bow down to the required false idol when the music played. V19-23 says, ‘Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.’ Then, the amazed king asked how many bound men had been tossed into the furnace because he saw 4 of them in there and the fourth one looked like the Son of God. The king called from them to come out and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego emerged unharmed. No scorching on their skin. No smell of fire on their clothes. Not even a hair on their hair was singed. A real miracle. In v17 and 18, they had said God would deliver them but even if He didn’t for some reason, they wouldn’t bow down to the king’s golden images. God did save them and brought them out in the same condition they went in to face the flames.

Then in Matt 14 is the story of the disciples on a ship without Jesus and a storm comes up. The disciples become frightened when they see a figure out walking on the water. V27 says, ‘But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid”.’ So, Peter climbed out of the boat and started walking toward Him. Now, that was a walk of faith. Pastor Lorne said if the water was smooth as glass, he thinks maybe he would have tried it, but with the waves rising up and crashing against them and the boat, Pastor Lorne doesn’t think he could have done it. He would’ve attempted it if God really called him, but he would still have had his doubts. Peter, however, was willing to stretch out a little bit to walk out on the water. Forget the part where he started to sink because the important thing is, he had enough faith to get out of the boat and try it.

So, if you have doubts that God is calling you to do something, talk to Him and see what He wants. He’ll open up doors if it’s what He has planned for you. Step out of your comfort zone and try to do it. It won’t be as drastic as the people above, but as God speaks to your heart, allow him to work thorough you.

Remember Gideon in Judges... the Spirit of God was in him and he was able to win this great battle. If you feel God speaking to you, ask Him to show you the way. To open and close doors so that as you stretch yourself, you’ll know it’s His will.

God said, and I will be with you. That’s the whole answer right there. If we want to do something for God and feel him pulling us, remember, He will be will us. He will give us the courage, strength and energy to do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. You’re not alone, God will walk with you.

So, will you hide in the wine press? Or, walk out in faith? Reach out to God and win a victory for the cross.

If you would like to talk to someone about this post, or about having a personal relationship with God, please contact us.


Photo Credits:
Extreme Rock Climbing www.deshow.net
Gideon attacking the Midian camp water color © NHP [
link]
Daniel in Lions' and 3 Men of Faith [
link]