God Knew.

Untitled-1.pngSometimes I can be selfish, I can get into the word, read something that blows me away, and then keep it to myself. Today I’m going to choose not to be selfish but share with you the good news that God gave me during my morning devotions.

Exodus 2:23-25: “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remember His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.”

There’s so much that I can take out of this small paragraph at the end of Exodus chapter 2, but this morning as I was reading I was blown away by the three small words that end chapter 2, and God knew. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew. Sometimes we separate ourselves from the truth. If the truth sets us free, then the opposite must give us the opposite effect of freedom. The truth is that God made us a promise, He will never leave us or forsake us. The lie is that He is distant and He doesn’t see what we are going through. Now, I think one of the coolest things about scripture is how even though it was written thousands of years ago, it still can be applied and can still directly speak to a situation in my life right now. In Exodus chapter 2, God saw the people of Israel and God knew. In 2016, God sees you at your job where you don’t feel valued, He sees you at your school when you cry to yourself in the washroom after being bullied, and He sees you at home when your trying so hard to keep the peace but everyone around you is going crazy, and He knows.

One of the benefits of living a Christian life is all the trials I have the opportunity to go through. I only say this half jokingly, because sure trials develop character and help me become a better person but trails at the end of the day wouldn’t be trials unless they tested you and pushed you to the limit of your abilities. There have been times that I have poured my heart out to a loved one, and there have been times where in return I heard them say, “I know what you’re going through.” Has that ever happened to you? Now, I appreciate what they say, but the truth of the matter is, in that moment they don’t know what I’m going through. Isolation adds to the pain. I don’t know if maybe I’m taking three words out of the old testament too far, I don’t know if maybe I’m stretching them beyond how they were meant to be interpreted, but there is just something in knowing that God sees me, He sees my situation, He sees my struggle, but not only does He see me and my situation and struggle, He knows. People around me can see what I’m going through, but God knows.

I’m a busy guy, but I try to put things in place that would keep my healthy, I don’t really have a lot of time to do so now, but I used to go to the gym. As part of starting up they gave each new member a 1 hour personal training session with a personal trainer, they even had a bulletin board with all of the personal trainers pictures on it, one by one I could look at the different trainers pictures and choose what one I wanted to work with. You know what would have been stupid? It would have been stupid for me to go to the bulletin board, look at all the pictures, and see a bunch of out of shape people. Sure they could tell me how to be fit, but they don’t know how to be fit because they had never done it themselves. When I go to the gym I want someone working with me who is not in worse shape then me but in better shape, why, well because they understand what it takes to get to the desired result. With that in mind, let me encourage you but reaffirming it in your mind wherever you are at, God doesn’t just see or understand, He knows and is putting things in place to deliver you from your troubles in due time. All we have to do is keep faith, and a steady pace as we walk according to His will for our lives.

 

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God Knew.

Help Is Coming

Desert .pngMatthew Chapter 4. The chapter where Jesus is led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted of the devil. There’s so much to talk about and learn from the beginning of Matthew Chapter 4. Rather than talk about temptation or overcoming temptation, I wanted to encourage you by taking a look at verse 11 after Jesus overcame the devil.

“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Jesus was born into a sinful world just like you and I, He had to face the same problems and  the same temptations that you and I have to face every day, but Jesus overcame them all. If it was easy for him, Matthew Chapter 4 would not begin with, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”. For example, I don’t smoke, if someone came up to me and offered me a cigarette, I’d say,”No”. It’s not something I like, therefore, it would be easy for me to say no, but if that same cigarette was offered to someone who had battled with trying to overcome smoking for years it would probably be a different story. All this to say that I’m sure the devil was very mindful of what he was tempting Jesus with, especially when he had so much to gain if he was successful. The good news is that Jesus overcame all temptation, but once again, that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Read the second part of that verse, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. The devil left, the angels came. We don’t know this for sure, but it seemed like almost immediately after the trial the angels came to Jesus. When I read this it jumped out at me because rather than separate the devil tempting Jesus and the angels then coming to minister to him, I see it as part of the same story. There was a lot riding on Jesus overcoming the devil throughout those 40 days.  I imagine when I read this verse that all of heaven stood still just watching to see what was going to happen, cheering when Jesus overcame time and time again. These angels just waiting for the devil to completely be defeated and overcome so they could rush to his aid and potentially provide him with food to strengthen and encourage him.

Today, I want to encourage you, here on earth, in your situation you may only be seeing the devil coming after you, you may only see the problems that are all around you, the bills that can’t be paid, the boss that seems to only be coming after you or the constant reminder of your failures, but be encouraged. In heaven God has a different view of your circumstance. You may see another trial as just the world beating on you once again, but for all you know, just like Jesus, it could be the last trial until the devil flees and all heaven cheers as God steps down into your situation and changes your life completely. Stand firm, knowing that for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than your ways and God’s thoughts higher than your thoughts. Know that the devil doesn’t attack you randomly, he comes at you and hits you in your areas of weakness for a reason. He wants you to quit, he wants you to give up because he is desperate and running out of time. Stand strong knowing that God is watching, He will never give you more than you can handle and He is good at the right time to release the help that you need. The story that you see unfolding in front of you on earth is being finished in heaven. Don’t give up. Stand strong.

Help Is Coming

Guard Your Heart

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I’m a dog person. I have two big fantastic dogs, one is named Rocky, he’s a St. Bernard, and the other one is named Leo, a newfoundlander. They are two very big dogs. However, I also have 2 cats that live in my house. I don’t know what it is about my cats, I love on them and pet them when they come around, I feed them and take care of them, but they’re always so jumpy. Recently they have tried to grow hatred in my heart towards them because for the past little while almost every night as I would go up to bed I would start to smell something not so nice. Sure enough, night after night they would use my bed as their litter box. Now, I’m not an extremely materialistic guy, but I like my special pillow. You know that pillow you own that is the perfect texture  and the perfect density? Well, my cats decided to desecrate said pillow and go to the washroom on it. Since that first incident I have had to throw out 3-4 pillows. I have now had to put things in place to make sure that these crazy cats don’t get into my room, so I’ll shut my bedroom door, I’ll make sure that I put my pillows up so they can’t get to them. I am on high alert when it comes to my cats because I’m really not a fan of buying new pillows and changing my bed sheets every single day, so much so that I can actually hear them walking in my room when I’m sleeping and it wakes me up.

Early this morning, I heard one of my cats entering my room, immediately I woke up and shooed it away, I fell back asleep, again I heard one of my cats entering my room so I woke up again and shooed it away. I kept making sure that the cat would not get to my bed and then it hit me, I am so in tune with the sound of my cats feet walking that I wake up in the middle of my sleep to make sure I protect my bed from them. I have set things in place, like shutting my door when I’m not at home to make sure they can’t get anywhere near my bed, I’ve thought of ways to make sure they can’t even get close to my room. Basically I have my bed, and my new favourite pillow (insert tears) locked down, I have put so much effort into protecting something so small and insignificant in the long run, then it hit me, how well do I protect and guard the thing that is the most important to me? My heart.

1 Peter 5:8 (CEV)  “Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack.”

How well do you and I both guard our hearts? I remember going into a movie once with a friend, I hadn’t really heard of the movie but it looked like it was a good action one so I went in, we sat down. The movie started with a woman having sex with two men. I would like to say that I turned away, but I honestly can’t remember. Near the end of the movie there was a torture scene, it was very graphic and didn’t add anything to the story or the plot line it was just this horrible scene where one person was inflicting awful acts of torture on the other person. It actually really disturbed me, but did I leave? No. I waited to the end to tell my friend that it disturbed me and we should have left.

I have a segment on my radio show that I host every single Tuesday night at 9 called, “Ask the Pastor” and once we had a guest pastor in the studio who said something very wise that stayed with me. A man called in and asked how to deal with recurring sexual thoughts that he has been having for decades. Did she suggest reading the word (Bible) more? Deliverance? Taking his thoughts captive? While these are all good things, she instead said that he needed to look at the root of the problem. What is he watching on t.v? What music is he listening to, are there explicit lyrics that talk about women in a sexual way? What is he doing on the internet that would cause his first thoughts about a woman when he sees one to be lustful? I thought that was so profound. Is he guarding his heart in the times when he’s alone?

Matthew 6:22-23 (ESV) “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.”

In this passage when the writer talks about they eye, he is talking about our perception, if you then combine that with the thoughts of the guest pastor that I just mentioned, it all makes sense. If he was filling his heart with lustful thoughts and intent, it should be no surprise that when that man saw a woman, those were his first thoughts towards her. Personally, in my life, I believe that adultery can happen long before one gets in bed with anyone. I think it starts when you open yourself up to the small things. We spend so much time protecting our futures by working hard and putting money towards retirement, or protecting our grades by studying hard in school, or protecting our status by doing certain things or buying certain things, but how much time are we spending guarding the most important thing that God has given us, our hearts?

Guard Your Heart

Time Changes Everything

TIme Changes Everything

Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, people parish.”

I’ve spent just over 23 years on this earth, I’ve seen many things happen, both good and bad. One thing that I have been reflecting on recently is the fact that time really does change everything. Recently I went to get my passport renewed, as I was going through different papers to make sure I had everything I needed, I found my old passport…from 9 years ago! I opened it up and looked at probably the most ridiculous photo that has ever been taken of me in my entire life. I had this weird long hairstyle that parted in the middle with this weird poor excuse for a moustache. When I got to the passport office I asked the lady if she wanted a laugh and showed her my picture. She said I looked cute, clearly we have different definitions of “cute”. In order to renew my passport I had to give the lady a current picture so I set it down right next to my old one from 9 years ago. Obviously I could see clearly on the surface that time changes a lot of things. Then I started thinking about the things that I used to believe, the things I used to stand for and the world that I lived in back then. Time really does change everything.

Throughout all of our lives we have trends, I want to weigh this much, I want to make this much money by this time. I want to save up so I can afford that car, or I really want to just have some courage and tell that person that I like them. I just wanted to ask you, which one of these trends or patterns do you identify with? I remember recently hearing two wise men on separate occasions talk about paths. How the things that we all do on a day to day basis set us on paths. For example when I was younger and wanted my drivers license, I bought the books, I studied. I then booked my drivers test which eventually resulted in me getting my license. I started off on a path and arrived at the destination which that path set me towards.

Where are the paths in your life taking you?

I’m amazed as I look back on my life how seemingly small choices both good and bad, had massive ripples throughout my life. Times where I fed my fear instead of my faith, times where I went down paths that I never should have. But also positive paths. Both the good and the bad have had major impact on my life.

Let me ask you a question, what does God have for you? You may be reading this as someone who has never known God, maybe you’re reading this as someone who has been hurt from the church or someone who is searching for answers or maybe someone who downright hates everything about Christianity. You are on this earth for a reason. There is a specific plan that God has for you personally to accomplish. What paths are you on and are they helping you accomplish this one central goal. I don’t know why, but if you are anything like me, you complicate the simple things sometimes. But life really is that simple. There are things God needs your help to accomplish, an amazing life waiting for you to either start or start pulling up your socks and work harder at, or perhaps one waiting for you to discover. All of these paths that we go down affect our effectiveness when it comes to accomplishing this goal. That’s what I’d ask you, what paths are you on? I have been asking myself this recently, and really taking a hard look at my life. We can try to complicate things by making excuses and say, “Oh I work hard, I deserve to party on the weekends”, or “I don’t have time to go to the gym, or pray or read my Bible.” The truth is all of these things that we think are simple choices actually are profound life altering choices.

One day, just like with my passport photo 9 years later, we will all look back at our life. We will look at our desires that led us down many different diverse paths throughout our life, we will see how these decisions impacted our main purpose here on earth, but will we look back with joy, or regret? We all have to make choices, every day. One thing will always remain constant; Time changes everything.

Time Changes Everything

Take Heart!

Take Heart!

It’s so hard to see someone who you love go through a difficut situation or season. Especially when it is a person who knows the answers that you would give them. What do you say to comfort them, what can you tell them that they don’t already know? Recently this exact thing happened to me. Someone I loved was just at the end of her rope, she was just covered with discouragement. Just by the way the conversation was going I knew that I didn’t have the words to help her out of what she was going through, but God did. I remember I walked into a room were I was alone and I just started pacing back and forth. “God every single night I go on the air and I proclaim how You are good and how You provide for the ones that honestly follow You when they are in need. Well, God, this person is in need and I don’t know what to say. I need a word from You.” Immediately God gave me a word, He said to tell her to “Take heart, for I (God) am with you!” Right away I felt a release and peace. I almost second guessed what I heard beacuse it was so simple, but I went out of the room, went to this person and told them what God had for them. It was exactly what she needed to hear.

Take heart for I am with you. Let’s talk about that for a second, as a Christian I do not put my faith in people that are not all poweful, I don’t put my faith in worthless things, I don’t but my faith in a statue of a fat man that people have to bring fruit to every day for some reason. As a Christian, I don’t find my comfort in finances or securities around me, I put my faith in the only one true living God. When I told her that word from God I started thinking back on all the times in the Bible where people were faced with adverse circumstances, in the old testament and in the new. Every single time God came through for them. It might not have been in the way that the person thought, or even in the seemingly right timing, but God always was there. I’m blown away when I remember that God exists outside of time so at the exact point in time you are going through a struggle, He is also at the end with you celebrating the victory.

Let me encourage you to take heart for God is with you. God calls you blessed, prospered and to be envied, you are the head and not the tail, above only and never beneath. You may be going through a tough struggle, one that appears to have no way out, but take heart knowing that God is already up the road celebrating the victory with you. Know that He holds, as a matter of fact, all the victories. So stand tall, stand strong amongst the trials that you are facing right now and take heart because God is with you, and nothing is impossible with Him!

Take Heart!

23 In

23 In .png

I find a lot of people are surprised to find out that I have been playing piano for well over a decade. I’m so caught up with my work that my identity can often come from that and people are usually surprised when I talk about anything that I do outside of my radio show. Recently I was visiting a friend and they had a really nice piano so I just sat down and started playing. He was amazed, because apparently it never came up in conversation over the 2 or so years since we met. I’ve learned a lot of things from playing the piano, especially since I have stuck with it for so many years. In the early years I learned how to express myself through music and I was given the opportunity to compete and feel things like accomplishment when I finished a piece or excitement when I won a competition. As time went on I hit the stereotypical, “this isn’t cool phase”, but I pushed through that. A few more years went by and there were times where I just wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I even thought about switching to guitar because it’s what the song writers I admired mostly used when writing a lot of their songs. I stuck with it though and here I am, 23 years old. All I can say is thank God that I was able to stick with the practice even though sometimes I didn’t want to put in the work, or I didn’t enjoy the pieces that I had to perform. As I look back on my accomplishments there is one thing that really stands above the rest, if I didn’t put in the consistent practice time and go through the seemingly insignificant details that eventually allowed me to master different pieces, I would not be able to call myself a pianist today.

There are some people I know who are good people,  with genuinely good hearts. They care for others and they care for the world around them.  If I asked any of them to help me out with anything at all, even if it was 3 in the morning, I know that they would drop everything and help me out. I’m sad for them and I’ll tell you why. They are Christians, but they don’t put in the time to really seek out who God is. They know the stories and the famous verses and could probably carry a pretty good theological debate but it’s easy to hear and see that they are sometimes speaking out of their head knowledge and not heart knowledge. Now, before I come across as judgmental, the reason why it took so long for this blog to come to light was because honestly I felt really convicted myself. I spend the majority of time doing ministry, I would say about 90% of my time is ministry and 10% is leisure.  I’m sure to a lot of people that sounds great, maybe even a dream.  I have been asking myself some really tough questions recently, how much time do I spend not just doing good but seeking God? How much time do I spend of my free time away from my ministry getting into the Word, and diligently praying? I know my job and what it requires better than anyone else. There is a time commitment, but there is also a spiritual commitment. Every night for 4 hours I am blessed to speak into the lives of people all over central Ontario and beyond. Every night I pour out what God has given me to say and as a result often see lives transformed. You have to understand though, when you are constantly pouring out of yourself, eventually you can run dry. If I am to be transparent, I would say that has happened to me in the past. I have hit that point and it shows up in my show every single time. I was thinking about this one day and then it hit me, how can a Christian live a spirit led life apart from the spirit? You can’t.

Let me encourage you, you can’t spend 23 hours in the world, be it work, relaxation time, recreational time or even vacation time and then only 1 hour or less with God and expect to be able to move the mountains that you are called to move. Does this mean that you have to start waking up at 3am every morning to get prayer and Bible study time in before you go to work?  For a season maybe if that is your schedule but, that is extreme so I would say probably not. It is vital to take little moments throughout the day to just create a constant atmosphere in your life where God is welcomed in your day to day. Keep God in your conversations, keep God in the way you conduct yourself, at work take a few moments to just maybe put the headphones in and listen to some worship music or pray. On your break bring your Bible every once and awhile. A church without the spirit is not the church. It’s not about simply time, it’s about respect and honour and a life style where God is welcomed in all that you do. He doesn’t want to take your time, He has called you and needs you to be out doing His work, but within that, don’t forget to get the refreshing and bring Him along. If you do, you will set yourself up for a successful, spirit filled life. Just like with my piano practise, if I didn’t put in the time I wouldn’t have seen the results, it’s the same thing with our walk with God.

23 In

Trials Designed To End

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Debt. It sucks.

Growing up in a big family, it’s not that we were ever in a place where we couldn’t afford food or basic needs. Sometimes it was close, but my parents always did such a great job of providing for me and my siblings regardless of whether that meant that they would have to go without. However, that doesn’t mean that we did not “inherit” some of the weirdest things from other family members that wanted to help us out. For some reason couches were our thing… I don’t know why but for some reason people just gave us their old couches. We have owned green, purple, floral, blue and many other couches. Don’t get me wrong, my family was always grateful and there was never any pride, however, I remember a few years ago I just got to a point where I got tired of always having hand me down furniture. I just wanted a nice brand new sectional couch for me and my friends and family to sit on when we got together to hang out or watch movies. I remember we were driving in Collingwood, Ontario and I saw a random furniture store. So we stopped the car, got out, went in and looked around. I was so fed up with having used stuff, that right there on the spot I “bought” a couch. The reason I put quotations around the word bought is because I put the majority of the purchase on my credit card at the time. Let’s just say it was a very expensive couch. Let me first say that now I do not believe in credit cards, I don’t personally have my name on any credit cards. I have since learned the lesson of “spend less then you make” and “only spend money you actually have”, but at the time I was still figuring out the debt thing. Unfortunately, like a few things in my life, I learned the lesson that debt isn’t a fun thing to have, the hard way. My credit card was maxed out. I eventually learned my lessons when it came to money, I cut up my credit card, stopped spending more then I made, stopped eating out so much and paid it off.

I do not want to talk to you about money today though.

I remember when I made the last payment on my  credit card. It took me awhile, but I remember the very moment when I completely paid it off. As soon as I did I just felt a feeling of relief like another thing was taken off my shoulders. I was about to continue on with my day when suddenly it hit me. Trials, they end. There were times where I felt like that credit card was never going to be paid off, times where because of other expenses in my life I couldn’t make a payment for weeks, but I kept at it, I kept watching my spending, I kept putting the right things in place and eventually it paid off. I don’t know about you, but I feel like sometimes when you walk closely with God it can feel like life is just a series of battles. It can feel like life is just trial after trial after trial. But today I want to encourage you, trials do end. I don’t know what you face today, I don’t know what you have been facing over the last few months or maybe even the last few years. Today all I want to do is encourage you by saying that even though it seems like your life is just one big trial, one big battle after big battle, the trials and battles in your life will come to an end.

2 Corinthians 4:17 out of the New Living Translation: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

Somehow, at some point in our lives we have believed the lie that our struggles will never end. We will always be broke, we will always be down, we will always be struggling with this addiction or struggling with these thoughts. Today, I am here to tell you that there is an end to the things that you have been fighting against, the things that weigh heavy on your heart or the things that keep you up at night. God knows what you’re going through, remember He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. He will never give you more then you can handle. Sometimes though He needs to allow things to happen in your life to put the fight in you.  We can see trials as things that will never end, things that only bring us pain and trouble, or we can take the word of God and look through it and see that the truth is that nothing is impossible with God.  These trials we face will only help develop the character in us needed to walk at a greater level with God. So today, tonight, whenever you read this, let me encourage you with a few things. Number one, don’t fight the process. Don’t try and skip the hard times in your life, don’t seek comfort, seek God. If God puts a test in front of you, run through it with joy knowing that it may be hard in the present but up the road it will be well worth it. Lastly, as you run forward accomplishing all that God has for you, as you come against opposition and troubles and trials and battles and struggles and roadblocks know that the hard times will end not in the next life but in this one. Know that if you stick it out with God, your trials will end.

Trials Designed To End