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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

His Plan is to Bless Us: Part 1 - Why Would God Withhold His Blessing?

Scriptures: Prov 10:22, Matt 13:53-58, James 4:3, 1 Kings 18 & 19,
1 Kings 11, Malachi 3:8-11,

On Sunday July 20th, Pastor Dave Hepburn drove all the way from Whitewood to give us the message. The music was led by Jessica who came from the Circle Square Ranch (CSR) with a couple staff members. If it hadn’t been for Kathy and Murray, and the people listed above, the church would’ve been empty. I was unable to attend so I gave my hubby my voice recorder in the hopes he could but he had too much work and couldn’t get away. So, I’m sorry, but no blog post for last week.

Last Sun, July 27th, Pastor Lorne and his family and Eva were at the Swan River Rodeo with the Canadian Christian Cowboys. Pastor Dave again drove from Whitewood but this time most of the regulars members were in attendance. When the young staff from CSR joined us, the church looked quite full so I’m glad Pastor Dave decided to give us a second chance.

When Pastor Dave stood behind the pulpit, he said he wondered if he could give a long sermon because there were 2 glasses of water in front of him. (One had been for Lori who led worship) Now the only response I have to his statement is this: Writing up this blog entry I had a choice – cut out some of the content, scriptures, etc or divide it into 2 blog posts to read everything he said on Sunday. Because everything he said is of value and I don’t’ know who God intended to hear the message, I’ve opted to divide the past in two. The 2nd part will be posted in a couple days.

Pastor Dave started his message by telling us about a friend who’d visited him recently. His friend isn’t a Christian and he started talking about his wife going to see a physic because the physic could tell her things about her past and apparently told her things right down to the T. The wife believed the physic had the power to heal. Pastor Dave thought that was interesting. He said the enemy has power but he was there to tell us that our God is all-powerful and has power over the enemy. But he said, not only is our God all-powerful, He loves us with a love that will never end.

He asked us to open our Bibles to Prov 10:22. ‘The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and He adds no trouble to it.’ God wants to pour out His blessing into the lives of His people. Pastor Dave said God wants to add to the blessings of every person sitting there as well as into the lives of His people no matter where they are. And He doesn’t want to add it sorrow with it.

Pastor Dave said he wants to pass on 5 things that withhold God’s blessing from us.

The first reason we don’t receive God’s blessings is if we don’t believe God.

Pastor Dave said to turn to Matt 13:53-58 where it talks about Jesus going back to Nazareth, his hometown. Jesus preached in the synagogue and in the countryside to crowds in the thousands, walked on the water, healed the sick, raised the dead. And yet when He got to His own area, the people were more concerned with who His father, mother, brother and sister were. Because they knew who He was, they wouldn’t receive what He wanted to give. Unbelief hindered Jesus from doing great and mighty things in His own homeland. Pastor Dave added that last week he spoke of a double-minded person and how they can’t expect anything from the Lord because of unbelief.

Second, the blessing of God is withheld from people because they don’t have God.

James 4:3 says, ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.' Pastor Dave used this scenario: What if he asks God for a million dollars so he can buy a new car, new stereo, etc so he can keep buying stuff for himself without using the money for God’ s Kingdom? He said if we ask God with improper motives, the answer is no, as well. When we come to God, we need to ask for His blessing to be in our lives because He wants to bless us in greater ways that we even can understand but we can’t be selfish in our requests.

Another reason God’s blessing is withheld because we do it in our own strength and we don’t depend on God to be our strength. There’s times when we do things in our own strength and it falls flat and we don’t understand what happened. To illustrate this, Pastor Dave said he has a friend who never seeded on Sunday because it was the Sabbath, but all his friends did. Last year he seeded on Sunday as well and didn’t get a crop. He asked the Lord why his neighbors can seed on Sunday and he can’t. The Lord’s answer was, ‘Your friends already seem to have everything already but you have Me. They don’t have a heavenly home, or eternal life. They don’t have the blessings I bless you with.’ He put his faith in himself rather than God.

Elijah was a powerful man of God. He did many great things for God. When Elijah said it wouldn’t rain for 3 ½ years, it didn’t rain for 3 ½ years. 1 Kings 18 is the account of Elijah on top of Mount Carmel with 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. They each had an altar with a sacrifice. In V24 Elijah says, ‘Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.’ The prophets agreed, calling on the name of Baal to help them and danced around the altar trying to get something started but by evening, nothing had happened. When it was Elijah’s turn, he put wood on his stone altar and laid the sacrifice on the wood. Then he had them pour 12 large containers of water over it. Then Elijah called for God and the Bible says, in v38 ‘Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.’ That’s a powerful God.

Yet, after this great victory over the prophets of Baal, when Elijah heard that Jezebel wanted to kill him 1 Kings 19, Elijah fled in fear. Pastor Dave said that happens many times. When you’ve just had a great victory and you’ve let down your guard, the enemy will sneak in and put doubt in your heart and mind. Elijah was so worried about Jezebel that in v4 he says, ‘..."I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ But God wasn’t finished with Elijah who still had doubts. And even after that time of doubt, Elijah went on to do great and mighty things for God.

The 4th thing that can stop the blessings of God in your life is sin. Pastor Dave said King Solomon is an example of this. King Solomon had great blessings in his life and yet he started to follow and heed the strange gods of his wives. (1 Kings 11). Because he didn’t keep his eye on the one true God, he lost everything. The kingdom was given to his son but his son sinned as well by building altars for foreign Gods. In return, God took his family line.

Pastor Dave said let’s bring this closer to home: Sin in the life of a believer. He said we as Christians, can’t have the blessings of the Lord in our life if we walk in sin. Sin separates us from God’s will in our lives. That’s why we as Christians need to be living sacrifices wholly and acceptable to God.

God’s blessing can also be withheld when we withhold God’s portion back. Malachi 3:8-11 says, ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.’

Pastor Dave said he wasn’t picking on anybody and he didn’t know who does or doesn’t tithe in church and it wasn’t him telling us that we don’t love God if we don’t tithe. He said God told Malachi who told us in the Bible and the Bible is the final authority on things.

Pastor Dave says this applies to himself as much as to the next person. He said he can’t say you need to do this. Each person needs to look at themselves and make sure what they’re doing pleases God. But he said when we’re obedient to God, he’ll pour out His blessing upon us and it will be so much we won’t be able to contain it.

If you would like to speak to Pastor Dave, please email me and I'll pass your msg along.

Comments are appreciated. If you’re not sure how, please click on ‘comments’ under 'Labels' in the right column.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our Birthright - Count the Cost

Scriptures: Eph 1:3-5, Rom 8:15-17, Gen 25:29-34, James 4:3,
John 15:1-5, Phil 1:6

On Sunday, July 13th, Pastor Lorne and Eva (visiting from Germany) were with the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys in Craven getting things ready for the Gospel Concert with Heritage Road as one of the guest bands.

Dianne was leading worship. We started the morning with 2 hymns that brought back memories of my childhood:
- O That Will Be Glory (Oh that will be glory for me)
- Just Over In Glory Land

Once again, Mike Zorn from Grenfell stepped in to give us the message. Usually, I tape the sermons with my little DVR (digital voice recorder) but like all technology, it failed me on Sunday so all I have are my notes. Oh – I also copied Mike’s notes but like most preachers, they’re skimpy because he speaks from the his heart as the Lord directs.

Anyway, Mike started by telling us about a book called, The Normal Christian Life, written in the 1940’s by Watchman Nee. He said he’d read it in Bible College but the title stuck out to him. It’s been reprint many times.

Mike said we all have strong and weak points, but what does God want for us? How should we be living? He said we’re all children of God - his heirs. He said to turn to Eph 1:3-5 which says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.’

Then Mike asked us to turn to Rom 8:15-17: ‘For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. for you did not receive.’

Mike said he wanted to talk about the birthright we have as children of God. He brought our attention to the story of Essau and Jacob, the sons of Isaac who even at birth were destined to struggle with each other when Jacob grabbed Essau’s heel and followed him out of their mother’s womb. Gen 25:29-34 is the story of how Jacob swindled Essau out of his birthright.

According to Mike, as children of God, we have a birthright, an inheritance. Essau sold his birthright. All he thought about was his belly and how he wanted to fill it. Then he despised it afterward. We sell our birthright when we’re ready to give up. There are times in our lives when Satan comes to tempt us. He comes when we’re tired, when we’re sleepy. He says he’ll give us what we want in return for selling our birthright as a child of God to him.

How do we sell our birthright?

  • - Our words - Mike said he struggles with this one. He said sometimes he says things for shock value – he swears. He said it’s hard to believe but he does it. He says he does it to bring a reaction from his peers. He said when you say something shocking, you get an immediate reaction. It’s like gossip. With gossip, when we talk about something, or someone, we hurt people. We have to think before we speak to make sure we’re working toward the inherited blessing.

  • - Our actions – We need to work but in our world, everything happens now. We scrimp and save so everything’s tight but then we blow the bank on recreation. Mike said he went to Casino Regina to see what the hype was all about. He said it’s not like the commercials. He saw people sitting in sweats at machines spending their kids milk money.

  • - Our desires – We sell our birthright for our desires. He said lust never delivers what it promises. Some things we want and it consumes us if we allow it to take over. We want it so bad but when we finally achieve it, it’s not like we dreamed. The lines between need and want in North America are very blurred. We have needs but most of our needs are actually wants. We sell our birthright for instant gratification.

  • - Our money – We ask, should I tithe? Or spend it on a new possession? James 4:3 says, ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’
Mike said we need to look at the bigger picture. So, what is sin? He said sin isn’t just a bunch of rules. Sin is anything that hurts ourselves or displeases God. Many times it’s the same thing. We have a loving Father and He doesn’t want us to do anything to hurt ourselves.

So how do we win? How do we stay strong so that we don’t sell our birthright?

Mike looked over the congregation and asked how many of us have ever been on a diet. (Of course some hands went up.) He said, it’s gotta be more than just self-discipline. If it was just self-discipline, we’d all be thin with perfect bodies. Dieting only works if we change our life-styles, too. So to keep our birthright, we have to stay close to God. A key factor is the Bible. John 15:1-5 says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’

Three keys to staying strong in our humanity:

  1. To stay strong we need to eat - We all need to eat or we wouldn’t last long. Spiritually we need to prioritize our devotions. He said so often he gets worn down and weak but his Bible is lying on the shelf gathering dust.

  2. How do we eat?:

    • - Healthy – spend time in the word of God. How healthy would you be if you only ate processed food? You need to eat raw, unprocessed food. Mike said there are millions of books our there about the Bible but nothing replaces the actual word of God.

    • - On Time. To structure your time with God. If we don’t set aside a certain time each day, it’ll be taken away by other things. We have to decide on a time and say, ‘This is God ‘s time no matter what’. Mike said being a bachelor, he doesn’t always eat on time or eat a structured diet. He said especially when he was a farmer. He’d skip meals. And he didn’t feel that great because of it. When he eats 3 meals a day, he feels better and healthy. Eating regularly gets your body working good.

    • - Balnced - Eat a balanced meal - spend time in the Word.

  3. To stay strong we need to exercise. With faith and action.

    • - Exercise gives us strength when we pray for someone, minister, or feed someone. Mike said sometimes he doesn’t want to drive to another church and speak, but he always feels stronger after he does.

    • - Exercise gives us hunger - You eat, work hard, then want to eat some more. Exercise makes you hunger for God.

    • - Exercise gives us passion - In the midst of the battle. He said you think about the whole year but in the field, you get a passion for the crop, you want it to succeed. In your Christian life, looking out the window, you get much passion, but getting out on the streets gives you passion to get out and do more.

  4. To stay strong, we need to rest. Mike said that’s the whole idea of a Sabbath. It’s God’s day, so honor God this day. Why do we need to rest?

    • - It’s a time of retreat – Mike says he needs a day off - a time to not worry about things. It encourages you and helps you go. He said he functions best when he can attend a retreat once a month. He said that’s why he believes in camps – it get the kids away from distraction and into God. It can be a retreat, a conference, camp or a concert

    • – It’s a time of focus – rest gets us focused. Any program is always born out of a need for someone or something else but so often it turns into something that loses focus and becomes just red tape. Focus on what’s important.

    • – It’s a time of priority – we’re less liable to be distracted by those things that don’t’ matter in our lives.
He said we need exercise in our Christian walk. We need to stop in our Christian walk, and rest or we’ll burn out. He said each one of these areas is essential for our strength.

Mike said we can’t skip any of these steps. We wouldn’t last if we just exercise and rested but didn’t eat. What if we ate lots and slept lots but didn’t exercise?

But, he said, our most important strenght is our genes. The things we do affect us but there’s no replacement for good genes. Spiritually, we have the best genes - the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is residing in our heart. He’s there and there's no replacement for that. That ‘s what gives us the power to live a Christian life.

In closing, Mike left us with these words from Phil 1:6 ‘Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’

Next Sunday – July 20 – our guest speaker will be Dave Hepburn while Pastor Lorne, Dianne and Eva head to the Sandy Creek Gospel Jamboree

If you would like to speak to Mike, please email him.

Comments are appreciated. If you’re not sure how, please click on ‘comments’ under 'Labels' in the right column.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Doing the Impossible

Scriptures: Luke 2:52, Luke 1:28-38 & 45, John 2:1-5

Sunday July 6th, was beautiful, hot and muggy. Pastor Lorne was working with the Christian Cowboys at a rodeo so we had a guest speaker at COTH.

Robin Exner, Director of the nearby Circle Square Ranch (CSR), brought a dozen of the ranch staff to COTH with him. That was a 30% increase in the congregation for the 2nd week in a row. It’s so great to see all the youth in church.

Robin also brought along my daughter Jessica who was leading worship this week. It was nice to see her since she’s already been at camp a whole week.

The 1st thing Robin did was give out a CSR hat to the first person to find Luke 2:52 which says: ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.’ This verse is the basis of CSR where they challenge the youth to grow in the 4 areas mentioned in another blog post: spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically. Celine won the hat.

Robin said CSR just completed the 1st week of camp. There were a little more kids than normal but they weren’t too hard to work with. A nice bunch of kids.

He said Week 2 – the Jnr teen week – was going to be a little less than normal with 52-53 kids but weeks 3-7 are full with 70-80 kids each so it all evens out at the end.

Robin wanted to encourage everyone to visit the ranch and see how it operated. Campfire each evening is a special time of worship and fellowship.

He said he’s been the Director aka Sheriff at the ranch for 10 summers now and he’s grateful for the grace of God that it all comes together each year. He said one of the biggest things is finding staff – the young people. Not just any staff, but the right people for the right weeks with the right attitudes. Even 6 wks ago, they didn’t have enough staff, nothing ready, needed a cook, maintenance workers, office staff, other staff. Then in the last couple weeks with God’s help, phone calls started coming in, people were available, and everything came together.

Robin said in 1999 during his 1st year as director of CSR, he attended a Program Conference in Ontario to share ideas for the upcoming camp season. He said it was his 1st time at a conference and for some reason, they picked him to share at the Crossroads Chapel in front of David Mainse and over a hundred other people.

Robin said he was the new guy and when he spoke behind the pulpit, he hoped no one could his knees wobbling in his cowboy boots. He said afterwards, David Mainse walked up and said, ‘That was good, can you come and share on the broadcast?’ So, Robin went down to the Crossroads, Communication TV studios and did a few minute segment on 100 Huntley Street.

For today, Robin said he wanted to talk about doing the impossible. He said to think of Joe Nichols’ country song The Impossible, where he sings:

Unsinkable ships sink, Unbreakable walls breakSometimes the things you think could never happenHappens just like that, Unbendable steel bendsIf the fury of the wind is unstoppableI've learned to never underestimateThe impossible

Robin said the dictionary meaning of impossible is something that cannot be done or achieved. Something that we cannot do. Something that cannot happen or cannot exist. In other words something supernatural. He said if we go beyond that, we can say the impossible is something miraculous.

Robin said you can have something in your life that’s a challenge like a money crisis. The money’s out there but you haven’t got it and you have no idea to get it, so it seems like an impossible situation.

He said it’s like at the ranch in the winter when he’s looking for summer staff but they’re all too busy. He wonders how he can run the camp. But then things change and the young people start phoning in and say they’ll come. He said it’s miraculous when you think the young people can go get a job for real money but instead they’re volunteering to serve kids at the ranch.

Robin said you can be discouraged in your own life. You can have a variety of things going on like health issues or money problems. Or what about family not knowing the Lord? You worry how they’ll get saved. How will God reach them? Or what about the people in your community?

Robin said God has given each person an assignment from heaven – a divine plan for your life. You might not know exactly what it is, but His plan for you is going to be big. And it’s going to be bigger than anything you can do on your own. In fact, Robin said, if you can wrap your head around how you can do what God wants you to do, then you haven’t got the whole picture. Or, you don’t understand what God wants you to do.

Because God‘s plan and His call for our lives will seem impossible. You might look at God and say, I don’t have the skills, the tools, the ability, the money, whatever to accomplish that task.

And so you ask god how? Robin said, that’s the question. How?

Robin asked us to look in our Bibles for Luke 1:28. He said we’re going all the way back to Mary, mother of Jesus: ‘The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High."

Robin said if you look at V34, Mary asked "How will this be...since I am a virgin?" So even the mother of Jesus questioned God. She admitted she was a virgin. She didn’t know a man. How was it possible for her to carry a child?

Robin says the question, ‘HOW?’ will mess with your mind more than anything. He said sometimes we ask God why certain things happen. Or we ask Him when something will happen. But Robin said he personally struggles with how things are going to happen. He said he has more of an analytical mind. He likes a blueprint or a plan to follow. He wants to know how it will happen.

He said v35 has the answer: ‘The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’ So, Robin said, Mary’s answer was the Holy Ghost shall. That was it. The Holy Ghost would come and cause this seemingly impossible thing to pass. It wasn’t up to Mary to worry about how, because the Holy Ghost shall come and cause it to pass.

Robin said during his first year as director of CSR, he asked that question a lot. The ranch had this big 3 storey hotel – a white elephant – and he didn’t know how they were going to complete it. It was sucking up all their resources. Without manpower, he didn’t know how he was going to do the work himself. It would take thousands of manhours and hundreds of thousand of dollars to complete. How was he supposed to finish it?

Robin said that with these verses, God showed that HOW was the wrong question. He said that instead of asking HOW, you need to change the letters to read WHO. And that’ll change your perspective because when you ask WHO, the impetus is taken off of you and put on the Holy Spirit like these verses say. The Holy Spirit shall.

Robin knew that all he had to do was trust in the Holy Spirit to be there, with him and on him to empower him and reveal to him and it would come to pass.

How does a virgin girl get pregnant? Would we even understand it if God explained it to us? The question isn’t HOW but WHO.
Who is in control?
Who sent the Holy Spirit?

Robin is so glad God sent the Holy Spirit to help him. The ranch needs so much help and the Holy Spirit always comes through whether it’s getting more work done in a day, or putting a name in their mind for a certain task they need done, or sending people to help. The Holy Spirit is there overshadowing or just hovering over the situation and causing things to come to pass.

Robin said last week they lost both their cook and their maintenance man for a few days. He and Barb had to work in the office and cook and do maintenance and clean and repair and juggle these things and still minister to the kids and give them a message of substance and communicate with them the gospel about Jesus Christ.

So he was dealing with kids and catching skunks, and then dropping everything to run down to the campfire to give them a message – those are some of the things that he has to do. Robin said actually it worked out quite well. He didn’t have a lot of time to prepare messages, write notes and study, but he said God dropped things into his heart and he felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Robin said it’s the same thing with the staff. He used Jessica as an example and said she has her duties with the kids and then at the end of the day, she has to put a few songs together to lead music or put a skit together. Or the kids aren’t behaving properly and the staff have to stop to minister to that kid amongst all their other duties. Everyone is juggling and the only way they can do it all is with the Holy Spirit. It’s Him. He’s the one who helps us and keeps us going.

To continue with the Gospel of Luke, in v36, the angel tells Mary that even her old, barren cousin will have a child and in v37 Mary responds with, ‘”For nothing is impossible with God."

Robin asked us, isn’t it good to remind ourselves that what we can’t do on our own, He can handle? With God, there’s nothing He can’t handle, whether it’s something that we in our own weaknesses can’t do or if it’s absolutely impossible for us to accomplish, there’s nothing impossible for God.

Sometimes we can’t do it unless God intervenes and makes something happen. Some things like cancer, we can’t overcome on our own. Robin referred to the previous Sunday when Greg Dueck was here at COTH with his testimony of how God cured him of cancer. (last blog post) Sometimes we need God.

Mary’s statement, ‘For nothing is impossible with God’, is a profound statement. First of all, Robin said, she asked how this all going to happen, then when the angel said the Holy Spirit would do it, she grabbed hold onto that and believed. Robin said God knew what He was doing when He picked Mary. He picked someone who had faith and virtue and she believed that the Holy Spirit would accomplish this miracle.

Robin said Mary grabbed onto that and held onto it. He said farther down in v45 it says, ‘Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!’ Elizabeth confirmed that Mary had faith.

We can learn a lot of lessons from this but the biggest thing when we’re looking at impossible things, is instead of being so caught up in worry and how it’s going to work out, and instead of praying how you can have a human solution, you should be trusting in God to do it.

God will change the how how how to WOW.

You can stand back and say WOW that’s amazing. I don’t know how, but wow!

Robin said at the end of every summer, he looks back and says WOW. It happened. It came together. And it was good. God brought us through. Kids lives were changed. Staff came in and it was all amazing.

In summary, Robin said he has a lot of respect for Mary because she was chosen by God to birth His son. She was doing something right in her life. Robin said he wanted to leave us with this last thought: In John 2, Jesus and his disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana. When they ran out of wine, Mary went to Jesus and told him that they’d run out. Up to this point, Jesus hadn’t performed any miracles yet and in v4 Jesus says, "Dear woman, why do you involve me...My time has not yet come?". But Mary knew her son was God’s Son. She believed He could make a miracle. V5 says, ‘His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." It was a typical statement of Mary’s life - she believed Jesus was the son of God throughout his life.

Robin said if we take Mary’s life lesson and apply it to our lives...if we did everything we were supposed to do, we’d be farther ahead with God that we are now.

So instead of scratching your head and worrying, change the how and who to wow and let God handle it.

If you would like to speak to Robin, please email me and I'll pass your msg along.

Comments are appreciated. If you’re not sure how, please click on ‘comments’ under 'Labels' in the right column.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Singing Cowboy Speaks

Scriptures: Psalm 115:14, Isaiah 53:5

On Sunday, June 29th, Robin - the Sheriff (director the rest of the year) of nearby Circle Square Ranch - corralled a herd of summer staffers and brought them to COTH. It was nice to see the rows of eager youngsters.

We also welcomed Eva back to Canada. A previous exchange student from Germany, we consider her a permanent member of our church. She’ll be in Glenavon for another month, so be sure to visit with her either at church or at Pastor Lorne and Dianne’s farm.

Although Pastor Lorne was there, he was still suffering the effects of some type of flu bug, so Greg Dueck was our guest speaker.

Greg, a singing cowboy, hails from Moose Jaw and his testimony included everything from his personal battles with drug addiction and cancer to his dream of being a singer. Of course, this was qualified later on when he sang some gospel songs.

He said he has an amazing testimony because although he was raised in a Christian home, as a teenager, he walked away from God. But what he wanted to stress to us was that Jesus stayed with him all through those years.

Greg said one of the things he’s learning is that every word that comes out of our mouths has an assignment. He said if he goes to his young son and says, “You did that all wrong. You’ll never get it right”, he’s just planted a seed of death. But if he says something like, “Hey, keep trying until you get it right”, then he’s planted a seed of life. He said every word that comes out of our mouth either has an assignment of death or an assignment of life.

All day long we say these things that aren’t true and what we’ve done is trained our minds not to believe a word that comes out of our mouth. An example is when we say something like, “My feet are killing me.” But they’re not.

Psalm 115:14 ‘May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth He has given to man.’ Greg said that says to him the words of his mouth have authority. Anything concerning heaven belongs to God. But anything belonging to earth is Greg's responsibility.

Greg said he’s built his faith around situations. Standing at his dad’s dying bedside, he prayed for healing and he doesn’t fully understand the reasons why all prayers aren’t answered. At that point Greg looked at us and asked, “Is it okay to preach a message I don’t understand?” He answered it by saying, “I don’t need to fully understand to know that God has my back and will heal me if I ask him to.”

He asked if we know what he means. We build our faith on our situation and that’s where our faith lies. Isaiah 53:5 says, ‘But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.’ Greg said it doesn’t say we might be healed, but that we are healed. He said we put God in a box and want our prayers answered a certain way. Greg wanted to be healed without surgery. That would’ve been great but that’s not what happened.

He said 6 yrs ago when his wife was pregnant with their 1st child, he was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors confirmed that Greg had a football size tumor behind his lung. Because he believes God is a healer, he prayed for compete healing so he wouldn’t have to go through surgery. That prayer wasn’t answered. But the bottom line of that prayer was that he wanted to live and that prayer was answered. With the chance that Greg could have died and not seen the birth of his child, he underwent surgery which not only removed the tumor, but some chunks of ribs as well.
Obviously, Greg survived. Greg said after the 1st surgery, the tumor started to grow back. So, the doctors operated again. This time, they went back into his spine and removed 4 of his vertebrae. Then they put rods and screws to replace them. The radiation took 6 weeks in Toronto. He was able to bring his wife and daughter – his pretty little girl whom he thought he’d never see on earth. He said he had a wife who loved him and dug in with her faith. When it was over, he was told to take it easy for awhile.

But a few weeks later, Greg was riding pasture and basically doing things he shouldn’t’ve been doing yet and he broke one of the metal rods. Back for surgery he went. When they pulled the rods out they found a pocket of infection. (Greg held up this rectangular metal contraption made of rods and screws – from where I sat in the back of the church, it looked about 3 inches square and 8-10 in long – ouch!) Because of the infection, they couldn’t put the rods back in so they closed him up and told him to be careful!

Six wks later, he was scheduled for another surgery to put the rods back. Greg said they took x-rays before the operation. On the day of his Dr’s appt, Greg said he knew something was up when the nurse smiled at him. He said everyone knows that nurses aren’t allowed to give out any news and usually they show no emotion. When the doctor called him into his office and asked how he felt, Greg said he felt pretty good. Then the Dr showed him the x-rays as well as interoperative photos before surgery and photos of them taking stuff out with bottle brushes. He said after looking at the photos, he looked at his wife and said, “Now you know me inside out.” (laughter) Greg said during one of his other operations, they had fused his spine with bone from his hip but after 4 yrs, it hadn’t healed properly. Now looking at the photos, they saw it had fused in 6 wks while at home on the antibiotics and he didn’t need the rods any longer.

Greg said he and his wife have faced tragedy during pregnancy. Many times they became pregnant but miscarried. During one of those pregnancies, a tumor was discovered in her uterus. It grew to the size of a 3 mo baby. When she hemorrhaged again and the doctors removed it, they advised she have a hysterectomy to take out the uterus. But, Greg said, he and his wife came up with a different plan. He lifted up his Bible. He said his whole life all he wanted to be was a cowboy and a singer. And all his wife wanted to be was a mom.

Greg said he and his wife are healed and they have 3 kids.

He said when your life is threatened, or your family is threatened, you start to believe and know why you believe it. He said he looked in the Bible to see why he deserved to be healed. He said it’s a ‘win-win’ situation. If you die, you go to heaven.

Greg said 16 yrs ago he was in a motorcycle wreck. They told his family to say good bye because he wasn’t going to make it. He said he was on a respirator and everything. He ended up with plates and screws. He said when rapture comes, all you’re gonna hear from him is ka-ching, ka-ching... (laughter)

He said when he was 12 yrs old, the car he was in hit a horse. The car rolled 8 times. He said his dad had been ejected from their car and was lying there, not breathing. Greg said he ran 1 ½ miles for help. But on the way, he tripped over the groaning horse that their car had hit. From then on, he was scared of horses. He said he had dreams for years after that about horses being in the house and chasing him up the stairs. He said with God help he overcame those fears. He said he must’ve because for the past 5 yrs he’s been a pasture rider and farrier.

He said to get to Glenavon, he could’ve ridden a motorcycle, or a horse, a helicopter or train – maybe – lot of ways to travel. And a lot of different routes to get here. He said there are a lot of ways a need can be answered. But he said it’s up to God to decide how. He said he’s discovered a way to get God to answer all his prayers, though. He knows that’s harsh but it’s simple...just pray His will and He will answer all your prayers. If it’s His will that Greg prospers and lives in good health, then Greg will prosper and be in good health.

Greg said he didn’t expect to have to deal with cancer or 3 surgeries to get where he is today. He said he’s a motorcycle wreck survivor, a car accident survivor and a cancer survivor.

He said grip onto His Word. Hold tightly. Share with everyone you meet.

Greg sang a couple songs.

Then he said at 18, while driving truck with his dad, his dad asked what he was going to do with his life. Greg said sing. His dad said, “You’ll never make any money singing.” And Greg said he looked at his dad and said, ‘Tell that to Garth Brooks.” (laughter)

Greg said he wrote the next song for his little kid’s dedication although he said he doesn't know why we stand in church and dedicate the child to God since its His already, but anyway, he wrote it for that event. I didn’t catch the title, but it was about how he wanted to be a cowboy when he was a young boy, then as a youth, he wanted to be singer in a rock band but now that he’s old he has the best job of all – he’s a daddy.

Greg mentioned that earlier on he had a chance to sing in a rock band. But he said, the band would get stoned before each practice or gig and because he didn’t have any experience, he’d get ‘baked’ as well. But he thanks God that he’s over that and he’s been clean for years. (Cheers and clapping)

Greg said he wanted to talk about a bullfighter named Brad Dunn. Greg said Brad was at the Twin Lakes Bullfight and Bullriding Clinic in May when he got hooked and tossed by a bull. He fractured his vertebrae. He’s still not walking, but he believes in eternity and he believes he’ll walk again. Greg said that’s something you pray for. (If you’d like to read more about Brad’s recovery or send an email to Brad to let him know you’re praying for him, click here.)

Greg said he first heard this next song when the docs didn’t know if he would live or die. He said it’s the kind of song he’ll be singing when he checks out at 95 or so. I didn’t get all the words, but a few lines stuck out:
“When you get to heaven after the trumpet sounds...
...You won’t see me, I’ll be with Jesus...
...Just find Jesus, that’s where I’ll be.”

When Greg was done, Maurice’s Sunday school class did a year-end presentation. He said he had an awesome 8 - 9 months teaching the older kids. For this class, he used, ‘Live it Out’ which was a study on the book of James. Then with each youth taking a chapter, the class gave brief individual speeches on what they’d learned this past year.

If you would like to speak to Greg about this, please email me and I'll pass your msg along.

Comments are appreciated. If you’re not sure how, please click on ‘comments’ under 'Labels' in the right column.