Words of Encouragement

Archive for March, 2020

WE’RE STILL HERE

Once again, our planet is in crisis.  The word pandemic brings fear and anxiety.  It has taken over our thoughts and fills us with worry and uncertainty. It fills our newsfeeds and comes up in every conversation.  There are jokes to try and lighten the mood and lessen the fear.  There is a lot of crazy, unhelpful, and blatantly untrue panic spreading as well.    Our health agencies and our governments are scrambling to make the best decisions they can to keep us healthy in this unchartered territory.  These are uncertain times. 

Our government has suggested social distancing in order to keep us safe, hopefully control the pandemic called Covid 19, and ease the strain on our overburdened health care system.  Our church, along with countless others in our nations, has respected the guidelines of our leadership to not have large gatherings and have cancelled services in our churches.   It is an odd feeling, surreal really, to think about empty parking lots in thousands upon thousand of churches.  I am sure that Satan was doing his happy dance.

Our church along with many others are still having our service via livestream – except the pews are empty.  I was concerned and upset about our churches not being able to meet.  When my daughter sent a screenshot of her own online service in another part of the province, I was suddenly struck that thousands of other churches are doing the same thing.  As the implications of this sunk in, I was filled with emotion and was deeply moved. As Jeff and I connected to our own online service, I felt odd.  I thought that it would be flat and strange. The emotions that I was feeling started to change when our pastor still had the usual part of the service of “greeting each other.”  The comment section of our livestream exploded with greetings and it came to me in an overwhelming rush – WE ARE ALL STILL HERE.

Sunday school and children’s programs have ground to a halt – but the church is still here.

Bible studies are not meeting at present but our bibles are still open – and the church is still here.

Prayer meetings do not look the same but we are praying more than ever – because the church is still here.

The congregation is not in our physical building this morning but the worship team is, and as they stand on the stage and lead worship as we sing from our living rooms – because the church is still here.

The pastor is still standing on the platform in our church and livestreaming his message and we are listening from our homes – because the church is still here.

I have heard the phrase “we are the church” all of my life but it never hit home more vividly than it did this morning.   In spite of our present circumstances, as we go to our workplaces and into our communities, we need to be aware that we are the church wherever we are.  In spite of the fact that our world has been turned upside down, God is still on His throne and He is in control and He is greater than a worldwide pandemic.   We may be physically separated for a period of time but we still have a job to do.  I look forward to being with the people in my physical church, but meanwhile I find comfort in the fact that we are the church.  The empty pews do not really change anything because WE ARE STILL HERE.

Joshua 1:9  NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Read the words of one of our closing songs at church this morning.

GOD IS ABLE

Hillsong United

God is able
He will never fail
He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek
Greater than all we ask
He has done great things

Lifted up
He defeated the grave
Raised to life
Our God is able
In His name
We overcome
For the Lord
Our God is able

God is with us
God is on our side
He will make a way
Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things

Lifted up …

God is with us
He will go before
He will never leave us
He will never leave us
God is for us
He has open arms
He will never fail us
He will never fail us

Lifted up…


THE BEST WORK

Cyndi den OtterWhen we meet our maker and have to give our account, what is the best work? At times I doubt.  At times I am afraid. There are many more knowledgeable than I.  My church is not the biggest nor does it have the most programs.  My skills are mediocre at best.  I am not the most driven. My faith should be greater.  My accomplishments seem so insignificant.  We compare.  We feel small.  We feel inadequate, not big enough, not the most popular, not the most spectacular, not the best, not enough.

I think it says in Lamazekial 4:19 that the one who dies the most well-known, had the most programs running, was the most popular, had the fanciest accommodations, and especially the softest church pews wins … or perhaps there is another verse.

Perhaps the best work will be done by a new believer who knows not one single word of the Bible, where the pages are fresh and new and mysterious and the “rules” of how to play church are elusive and confusing.  In their zeal to tell of their new found faith they tell everyone they see, and others are curious about the transformation.

It could be that the best work is done by an addict, still suffering from addictions and lacking in confidence but willing to set up chairs, sweep the church, and scrub the dishes, because their heart was changed and God is still working on them.

Perhaps it is cooking for your neighbour who is ill, making cookies for the children’s program, or offering supper to an elderly person because you like to cook and it is your best gift.  Maybe the best work is done with an apron on.

Maybe the best work is driving the church bus because you hold that special driver’s license, or the mechanic that helps his neighbour with their car, or you are the one that loves kids and offers to babysit to give parents a date night or serve in the church nursery.  Perhaps it is cleaning up after an event because you are an introvert and hate the limelight but you can offer your time, a gift that there is precious little of. Maybe you would never imagine being a Sunday School teacher but you can show up for the next church work day to do some carpentry work.

Maybe the best work is done by choirs and congregations who sing off key with gusto, worshiping with their highest praise and outstretched hands.

Maybe the best work will not be done in a large church with all of the finances and programs at their fingertips.  Maybe the best work will be done in a developing country where they feed the poor in their rented church that has no kitchen at all, and all of the supplies and food are brought from the kitchens of private homes. Perhaps filling hungry bellies is one of the highest callings in Kingdom work.

Maybe the best work is caring for the poor, the mentally ill, the handicapped, the elderly, and those going through hard times.  Anonymous faces caring for people who cannot give back anything.  Not. One. Thing.

Perhaps some of the best work will be done by the very young or teenagers. Are you a senior citizen?  Don’t hang up your apron just yet.

God has given us all a job to do and He does not compare us with anyone else.  We are to be obedient to what He has called us to do with the gifts He has given us.  God will give us everything we need to complete the work He has for us to do.  We get sidetracked when we hurry God or let our eyes stray to someone else’s work.  That is their calling and their task, not ours to own. A lot of work is good work but not necessarily the best work for us. When we try to make things happen that we think are good but not in God’s plan, we end up struggling.  If we do it in our own strength, we’ll end up trying to do Kingdom work without the King.  We need to let go of things that are God’s responsibility.  Yes, the work is up to us but the results are up to God.  We need to ask God for wisdom and discernment to fulfil what He wants us to do, and to trust in His perfect timing.

What is the best work? It is the work that God has given each of us to do. I think that God’s tape measure is on our hearts, not the square footage of our physical space or how our peers, or even our church, measures our accomplishments.  We are enough because He is enough.  Put on your apron.  God has work for us to do.

Philippians 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

Copyright 2020 March 7 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission