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#METOO

When an actor named Alyssa Milano told her personal story of sexual assault in October 2017 and added "#metoo," the hashtag began to rapidly trend online. It provided women and men a platform to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault. Milano had the idea to start #metoo from a friend, for women and men to share their stories, simply identify as a victim, or know that they are not alone and to let others know how rampant the problem is. This message of support has encouraged many people to tell their similar stories.

A very close friend of ours - a young woman - wrote the following piece in response. May God encourage you to tell your story. And be sure to journey with someone who can walk with you into the pain and into the healing that the good news of Jesus' gospel gives.

"I grew up in the safety of a family, with a protective, loving father and equally protective brothers who made sure I knew I was valuable. They gave me reason to believe that I could trust men. But reality strikes as a woman walks outside. Comments, advancements, and unwanted touches have led me to be far more fearful than trusting. And I am not alone. Many girls and women, [and sometimes even boys], experience it in far worse ways, but not just outside, sometimes in their homes. It makes my heart so sad to know that so many live in constant fear. 
(One small example of how fear affects daily life for me is: since moving where I live now, I have not ran on my own due to fear, and I hate that! I love running on my own, especially in the forest! I hate that we are robbed of those simple joys. How much more do other women experience this?)

This a call out. This is a call for all to remember that we are made in the image of God, that we are intrinsically valuable. We are not objects. We are human. Protect and care for one another. Speak out against violence. Teach value. Let us truly love one another!"

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Modern Expressions of Ancient Words

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. These are five ancient words written in a letter to a community of faith filled people in ancient Ephesus by a man named Paul. Beyond the more rigorously specific definitions of these words are the modern outward expressions of ideas contained within these same words. Maybe you can find yourself in these expressions.

  • The apostle gift often plays itself out in people who lead businesses or start new ventures.
  • The prophet gift is sometimes at work in artists and musicians or in those who highlight social justice issues that need a voice.
  • The evangelism gift displays itself in those who have the great ability to convince others. Great salespeople have an expression of this gift.
  • The shepherd gift is at play in good counselors or in other helping professions.
  • The teaching gift is seen in those who are good at training or teaching.

Do you identify with one of these expressions? Would you consider taking a risk and asking God to show you why you have this gift expression and how it might grow and develop for the purpose of making a greater positive difference in the world? Jesus exhibited all five of these gifts with amazing evenness and capability. Getting to know Jesus through reading about Him in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John will help you discover why you may have these gift expressions and how best to use them. Why not take another step?

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A CANADA DAY 150 PRAYER

A Prayer on our 150th Anniversary! Written by a friend named David. Happy Birthday Canada!

Eternal God, Lord of history, today and tomorrow, thank you for the great gift that Canada is for us, for the spacious geography, for the abundance of water and land, for the forests and rivers, for the seasons, especially the warmth of summer.

We thank you for the first nations to whom you entrusted this land for hundreds of years before the rest of us arrived and what they have to teach us about respecting the earth and its waters.  We thank you for the opportunity to welcome people from other nations to make their home here with us. Thank you for the mosaic of cultures and traditions that make up this nation today and for the laws that keep us safe and make us a stable nation.  We thank you for the freedom to speak, to travel, to assemble, to study and to work as we please.  Thank you for the freedom to worship and to raise our families in peace and opportunity.

We thank you for those who for 150 years have served as law-makers, peace-keepers, teachers, artists and industrialists, making us the nation we are today, for the decades of social and economic progress, for our health-care system and so many other gifts of common grace.  We give special thanks for those who have preached and taught your word, who planted churches who have raised children to teach the next generation to love and serve you across the world.  I personally bless you for campus ministries and camps, for the work of EFC, Christian Direction, Visions Ministries and others like them who strengthen the church across Canada to extend your reign.  Thank you especially for Jesus who teaches us how to truly love the world in which we live without being seduced by it.

We confess that in many ways we have fallen short of the privilege you have entrusted to us.  We are a fragmented nation.  So we pray that you will pour out your Spirit on us to be a transformed people who will serve the nation as salt and light.  Make us people of the Cross showing the community around us the unsearchable riches of knowing Jesus as Lord.

We pray that you will have mercy upon this land and make Canada to be a true refuge for millions, a land of shalom, a model of repentance, of reconciliation and of grace.  We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

David Knight, Waterloo, ON

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Does God Allow "Life to Give Us More Than We Can Handle?"

How many times have you heard: "We'll never be given more than we can handle?" This is what humans say but what does God say? I mean, we want it to be true but God gave us His Word so that we can test these statements and pursue possible answers.

It seems to be a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

In context, the issue is not so much about some pressure-filled, life struggle we might be facing but rather a sin struggle that we may be tempted by. In this case, we have this promise that in every temptation, God will always provide "a way out" or an option to not sin. Someone put it this way: The choice to obey God will never be withheld from us. Ever! That's amazing!

So, what does God tells us about the troubles we may face?

1. We will have troubles. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” What a beautiful protection in our troubles, nevertheless, we will have them.

2. Sometimes troubles will overwhelm us. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul transparently tells us that God gave him more than he could handle. Paul wrote: "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” That speaks directly to our question. In fact, God does allow "life to give us more than we can handle."

3. When we have troubles that overwhelm us, we have new opportunities to see God and His goodness as greater than our circumstances. God did give Paul more than he could handle, with a resulting purpose that Paul might learn to trust God. Paul's perspective on why this happened: "We felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."

4. God is enough and has enough to help us in our troubles. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, Paul says this about a physical struggle he had: "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me." Here was God's response: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

5. In our difficult circumstances, we can grow as a person. Paul said: "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong," 2 Cor. 12:10

Everything in us wants God NOT TO ALLOW us to face anything more than we can handle. If we trace that "fruit to root" though, this want is rooted in our desire to be happy and independent and free from all difficulties because we don't appreciate being uncomfortable. But if we're conformed to the gospel and rooted in God's love for us (as Paul was), then sacrifice and service and suffering are not foreign to us. And in God's upside down Kingdom, dependence on God is a very good feature of life.

God does allow "life to give us more than we can handle" but will not allow life to give us more than He can handle. And if we embrace God's promise that He is enough for whatever we experience, then we will be given everything we need to handle what we're given. When we believe God and trust Him, we grow. And maybe the best part is that we can help someone else in their journey, to encounter God in their time of trouble.

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