Reflections with Calvin and Hobbes – Report Cards

As a parent, one of the things I tell my children is that it doesn’t matter what grades they get, as long as they try their hardest. Every student is unique and different! Some children excel at academics, but others are more artistic or athletic. So as a parent, we always encourage our kids to be the best that they can be, and not compare themselves to their peers.

How about you? Are you someone who excels academically? Or are you more artistic, athletic, or do you have skills in another area? Everyone has something they are good at!

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Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2017 Bill Waterson.

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The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Two: Faith

The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Two: Faith

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The First Step in our journey towards freedom, healing and restoration in our lives began thus: “We admitted we were powerless over (our sin or addiction) – that our lives had become unmanageable.” This step is so important because you cannot heal or change what you don’t acknowledge! But this is only the beginning of our journey towards transformation. This step alone will leave us empty and possibly even despairing if we don’t continue on with our pilgrimage. This brings us to the second step:

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

In step one we humbly admit, “I can’t!” But in step two, we declare by faith, “God can!” One of the things you will discover about a trap is that it is always designed to be stronger than the thing one is trapping. For example, if you want to catch a bear, the bear trap must be stronger than the bear or it will escape. Sin is the same way. The nature of addictions is such that they are greater than our ability to escape from them – and that’s exactly the way our enemy, Satan, designed it!

Have you ever noticed the crazy cycle addicted people go through? They fall into their trap of sin, feel guilty and ashamed about it, and then try to use their will power to break free from the addiction or bondage. This may last for a week or even a month or two, if the person’s will power is strong enough. But eventually, just like a dog returns to its vomit, so the fool returns to his foolishness. There is no way for us to break free from our addiction on our own! But that’s where God comes in.

The Biblical basis for this step is found in Philippians 2:13: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He has the power to save, deliver, and make us whole.

“In Step Two, we begin to reflect upon our Higher Power. We remember that God has always accomplished the impossible for His people. He has restored and redeemed people in bondage, people in fear, people in weakness, and people in great hopelessness. The principle of Step One puts us in the perfect place for Step Two – a place of powerlessness.” (Meditations for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

Are you tired of being stuck in your sin? There is a Higher Power – and His name is Jesus – and He has come to set the captives free. Jesus Himself said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Come to Jesus today and be set free!

Second Step Prayer:

“I pray for an open mind so I may come to believe in a power greater than myself. I pray for humility and the continued opportunity to increase my faith. I don’t want to be crazy any more.” Amen! (Prayers for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

View the First Step HERE.

Chris Jordan is the President of Overcomers Outreach of Canada.

 

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Trafficked: My Story #BookReview #SocialJustice

traffickedIt’s ironic, isn’t it? Less than a month ago, I posted a book review for Phil Collin’s memoir Not Dead Yet, where I made the comment that I’m not really a fan of biographies. Shortly after that, I was grocery shopping with my wife at Costco when I came across the book Trafficked: My Story by Sophie Hayes. The book is the true story of a British girl far away from home who is sold into prostitution.

From the acknowledgements at the beginning of her book, she writes: “Everyone deserves freedom and basic human rights, and although he stole my freedom, I am going to do everything in my power to fight back and make a difference.” Me too!

What follows are some of the quotes from this book to open your eyes a little bit to the dark world of human trafficking. My hope and prayer is that it will motivate and inspire you to get involved and refuse to do nothing!

“What Kas did to me opened my eyes to the terrible things some people are capable of doing to others. Working with STOP THE TRAFFIK is helping me to make something positive out of what I’d thought was a totally and irretrievably negative experience, and I want to use that experience to try to help other people who haven’t been as fortunate as, ultimately, I was and to help raise awareness about people trafficking.”

“It’s easy to dismiss girls who work on the streets as deadbeats or drug addicts without ever thinking about why they’re working as prostitutes. And the truth is that many of them have been trafficked and they work long, exhausting, miserable, soul-destroying hours for men who are cruel and violent. They’re constantly afraid, not just because of what might be done to them if they don’t do what they’re told, but also because of the very real threats that are made against their families and the people they love.”

“A Note from Robin: I believe strongly that the more publicity there is about trafficking and the more knowledge people have about it, the better equipped we’ll be to fight it. Anything that results in just one extra person being rescued from repeated beatings and rape is worthwhile, which is why I was so pleased to know that Sophie is trying to create something positive out of her own horrendous experience by working with STOP THE TRAFFIK and by writing a book about her ordeal. (Robin is a Detective Constable working for the UK Sexual Crime Unit).”

“Stop the Traffik: Men, women and children are being exploited by force or by trickery all around the world. They are victims of human trafficking, a global crime by means of which criminals earn vast amounts of money from abusing the human rights of vulnerable individuals… The International Labour Organization estimates that there are at least 12.3 million people in forced labour worldwide… approximately 2.5 million are victims of human trafficking and half are under the age of eighteen.”

For more info:

 

OTHER JUSTICE POSTS ON THIS BLOG:

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Revolution – #Sermon Notes

REVOLUTION: OPEN YOUR HEART, OPEN YOUR BIBLE, AND OPEN YOUR LIFE!

(Pastor Chris Jordan – Horizon Church)

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This is an outline of the sermon notes from a message I shared with our church family a couple of weeks ago. You can listen to or download the audio MP3 HERE.

INTRO TO SPEAKER: Family of 5 living in a two-bedroom basement suite right now, still praying for our house to sell in Manitoba.

INTRO TO TOPIC:

Last week Pastor Craig told the story of God bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt.

  • Caleb said, “We are WELL able”, but the other 10 spies said, “We are NOT able!”
  • Because they listened to the 10 spies, it took 40 years to make an 11 day journey!
  • We need to change our thinking if we want to change our lives! That’s a revolution!

IT’S TIME FOR A REVOLUTION: REVOLUTION DEFINED:

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  • What’s a revolution? This is a picture of what God wants to have happen in our lives.
  • Radical: a sudden or radical and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.
  • Do you want to stay the same? Are you content with where you’re at?

PREPARING TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND:

1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. 2 So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” 5 And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:1-5).

  • We are at a place where God wants to get us ready to cross over into our Promised Land!
  • Sanctify/Consecrate: Hebrew Qadash: to be set apart or made holy.
  • God wants to do wonders in our lives, but first we must allow God to do His work in us.
  • How do we ensure our thoughts are shaped by God and not our circumstances?

HOW DO WE CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK?

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4).

  • Weapon – Greek hoplon – any tool or implement for preparing a thing.

THE BIG IDEA: God has given us three tools or keys to experiencing a revolution in our lives. We need to open our heart, open our Bible, and open our lives.

THE TOOLS WE USE TO PREPARE OURSELVES:

1. OPEN YOUR HEART (PRAYER):

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord… go after it… that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:3-4).

  • If we’re going to enter our Promised Land, we need to follow the Good Shepherd!
  • Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27).
  • We need to see and hear what He’s saying. HEARING GOD SEMINAR!

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6).

  • It’s time to get alone until we’re not alone anymore, until God’s presence shows up!
  • “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” (Exodus 33:11).

TESTIMONY: This morning Liza was praying for me for my message.

Explosion of Scriptures and I heard Jesus say, “Tell my people I still answer prayers.” I said, “They know that, Lord!” He said, “If they believed it, they would pray more than they do.”

  • QUOTE: Mark 11:24; Matthew 18:19; Ephesians 3:20.
  • CHURCH: LET’S PRAY! Pray for your growth, your family, finances, church, pastor!

2. OPEN YOUR BIBLE (THE WORD):

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you… This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8).

  • It’s not good enough to just read the Bible, we need to meditate on it!
  • Personal testimony: Memorizing the Scriptures changed the way I saw myself!

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).

  • This is one of the best ways to change our thinking to change our lives!
  • Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32).
  • More often, freedom comes from a truth encounter than a power encounter.
  • Quote: Romans 10:17; Matthew 4:4; Psalm 119:9.
  • The Bible will build your faith, help you resist temptation, and grow in the Lord!

3. OPEN YOUR LIFE (COMMUNITY / CONNECTION):

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.” (Joshua 1:1-2).

  • ALL the people, not just the leaders or the brave. It’s about community and connection.

“God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6).

  • God has put us together as a family in the church!

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25, NLT).

  • Church isn’t just about worship and discipleship, it’s about fellowship, too!

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT).

  • We need to start being open and honest with our struggles and helping each other.
  • “The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” (Thomas Merton).

IT’S TIME FOR A REVOLUTION: ANOTHER DEFINITION:

  • What’s a revolution? This is a picture of what God wants to have happen in our lives.
  • Closer: the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course, as in “the revolution of the earth about the sun takes one year.”

LESSONS FROM THE PLANETS:

  1. It takes the Earth 365 days to orbit around the sun (Earth = about 150 million km away)
  2. Mercury only requires 88 days to orbit around the sun (about 58 million km away)
  • Mercury’s temperature can reach up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit (it’s HOT!)
  1. Pluto requires 258 years to orbit the sun! (about 6 billion km away)
  • Pluto’s temperature reaches a frozen -396 F
  • when we orbit away from God, it takes us longer to do things for Him, we become cold

We need a CLOSER REVOLUTION – like Mercury around the sun (then we’ll be HOT!)

CLOSING CHALLENGE: How’s your orbit? Are you in close revolution around the Son?

  • How’s your passion for God, and your love for Him?
  • Some of you have been knocked out of your orbit because of life’s circumstances.
  • Some of you maybe you saw something ‘attractive’ and abandoned orbit around Jesus
  • It’s time to return to a closer revolution of orbiting our lives around the Son, Jesus!
  • Open your heart (prayer), open your Bible, and open your lives (in fellowship)!

PRAYER!

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Reflections with Calvin & Hobbes – Hope and Dreams

One of the perks of working in a Christian school is our staff devotions in the morning before the school day starts. This morning, one of our teachers shared with us the story of Joseph. He was a dreamer who God had called to be a leader, but from the time the Lord gave Him the dream until the time it came to pass, he went through some very trying and difficult times.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. He was lied about, his name was slandered, and he was  thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Yet, through it all, he maintained his integrity, and in God’s timing, the dream was fulfilled. He became a great leader in the nation of Egypt, and through his wisdom, many lives were saved.

Although I had heard this story many times before, I found great encouragement from it today.

In September this past year, we moved our family back to Surrey, BC. We put our house on the market back in Manitoba, and – over five months later – our home still hasn’t sold yet. So that means we are still making mortgage and utilities payments on our house back in Beausejour, as well as paying rent in a tiny little basement suite here.

The two-bedroom basement suite where our family of five is currently living.

Together. Close. Crowded. Cozy. Cramped.

Half of our stuff is still in storage, so we haven’t fully settled yet.

And so we wait.

But in the waiting, I am encouraged today by this Scripture: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

I don’t know why our house in Manitoba hasn’t sold yet.

But I choose to trust that God is good.

And I’m working on believing that His timing is perfect.

“So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.” (Casting Crowns).

Calvin & Hobbes - epic life change the world

Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2017 Bill Waterson.

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Phil Collins, Genesis, and the Soundtrack of my High School Years #BookReview

When I was in high school, Phil Collins and Genesis were the sound tracks of my life. From Phil Collins No Jacket Required to Genesis’ Invisible Touch albums, they were definitely some of my most played cassette tapes. To this day, these songs evoke memories from my teenage years, whether it was listening to a Walkman while riding a bike to and from work at McDonalds in the summer of 1988, or walking to and from school in the small town of Rouleau, Saskatchewan.

And so when I came across Phil Collins’ memoir Not Dead Yet at Walmart a month ago, I knew I had to get it. I love to read, although I’ve never really been a fan of autobiographies. However, I found with this one I couldn’t put it down – this was the story of one of my old musical heroes. Because the book is about the life of a musician, it was like there was a built-in soundtrack to the story as well! Whenever Phil would reference a particular song or album in his memoir, I would search it out on YouTube and listen along. That made it fun!

Another one of the other factors that really drew my attention to this story was the fact that I knew he talked about his battle with alcoholism in it. Having a father who was an alcoholic, and also being the President of the 12 step recovery program Overcomers Outreach of Canada, I was curious to hear his story.

phil-collins-not-dead-yetPhil Collins: Not Dead Yet:

“Phil Collins pulls no punches – about himself, his life, or the ecstasy and heartbreak that inspired his music. In his much awaited memoir, Not Dead Yet, he tells the story of his epic career… A drummer since almost before he could walk… finally landing the drum seat in Genesis. Soon he would step into the spotlight on vocals after the departure of Peter Gabriel. (This) is Phil Collins’ candid, witty, unvarnished story of the songs and shows, the hits and pans, his marriages and divorces… (here) he recounts his harrowing descent into darkness after his “official” retirement in 2007.” (From the inside front book cover flap).

I don’t want to simply review this book here, rather I want to look closely at the second last chapter of this memoir: “Straightjacket Required: Or: how I nearly drink myself to death.” What was it that caused a rising star with a phenomenal solo career, involvement in one of the biggest rock bands of all time, not to mention projects for Disney like the songs on their animated film Tarzan, to descend into the darkness of alcoholism? It happened after he retired from a life of workaholism.

“I have a hold, a void: where there used to be work there is now time. A lot of time,” he writes. And so he begins to bury himself in the minibar, several nightcaps here and there, drinks before his rehearsals, and even has vodka with his eggs for breakfast. He says, “The scary thing is my tolerance has gone through the roof. The vodka isn’t touching the sides. How many do I have to drink before I feel something?”

This journey is a familiar one for many alcoholics. The further they progress in their alcoholism, the more they need to drink to begin to feel any sort of a buzz from the booze. But why did he turn to alcohol? “The cliché is true,” Phil writes, “I’m literally drowning my sorrows. Drink doesn’t make me feel better. But it does make me sleep. And if I’m sleeping, I’m not thinking.” His life has become an unmanageable mess.

His friends recognized his problem before he did, and encouraged him to get help for his addiction. But in true denial form, Phil said, “I don’t need to go to rehab. I can just stop. And I do stop – a few times. I become very good at stopping. But I become even better at starting again.” Does that sound familiar?

The first step of Overcomers Outreach, based on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, says this: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or our sin or addiction) – that our lives had become unmanageable.” This didn’t happen for Phil until he hit rock bottom – which involved several episodes like the time he became falling down drunk and broken his rib and punctured his lung. Or the time he went to give his kids a hug and fell face first into the tiles of the living room floor and broke his teeth.

He writes, “My pancreas is not only scarred, it’s showing signs of irreparable damage. That’s, finally, a good enough reason for me. I want to see my kids grow up, get married, have their own children. I want to live.” So he finally goes to rehab.

Of his experience there, he writes, “I do the morning prayers, where everyone has to say something revealing / honest / self-lacerating. I don’t have any problems with this kind of group-therapy stuff, but it’s weird the people you meet, from hard nuts to housewives.” He laments, “Yet, in spite of being record-shifting, Oscar-winning Phil Collins, here I am in rehab, trying to deal with a drink problem. Just like everybody else.”

Do you struggle with an addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or some other sin or bad habit? Like Phil Collins, maybe you have tried to stop, but like a dog returns to his vomit, you keep going back to that bad habit? If so, you need the help of a higher power to break free from your addition – the person of Jesus Christ. The second and third steps of the 12 step program say, We “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Call upon Jesus today, who is mighty to save and deliver!

To learn more about how you can find freedom from addictions, visit Overcomers Outreach of Canada, or Overcomers Outreach US.

 

– Chris Jordan

(President and Executive Coordinator of Overcomers Outreach Canada)

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The Twelve Steps – a Year Long Spiritual Journey: Step #1: Humility

The Twelve Steps – a Year Long Spiritual Journey: Step #1: Humility

A wise person once said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And at the beginning of this New Year at Overcomers Outreach Canada, we have decided to devote this entire year to journeying together through the Twelve Steps – one step for each month. And it seemed fitting that I would share this with you here on my blog as well.

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Stephen Arterburn says: “The 12 steps are based on biblically-based principles like acceptance, confession, honesty, accountability and service. According to Dr. Bob S. and Bill W. founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, these principles were gleaned from the Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the book of James, among other passages. The principles were developed into 12 steps that have helped and offered hope to more addicted and abused people than any other program.” (forward to Overcomers Outreach: A Bridge to Recovery by Bob and Pauline Bartosch).

It is for that and many other reasons that the Overcomers Outreach ministry has adopted these 12 steps as a means for people finding freedom in Christ. So allow me to begin this year-long journey with an introduction to Step One:

Step #1: “We admitted we were powerless over (our sin or addiction) – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

This first step is perhaps the most important one in our entire journey because you cannot heal or change what you don’t acknowledge! Until you admit that you are powerless over your sins or addictions, you will never turn to God for help.

The Biblical basis for this step is found in Second Corinthians 1:9: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves, but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us.”

I can relate well to the importance and necessity of this step when it comes to recovery. I went through a very challenging and dark season of life about four years ago, when I was hurt by some people that were very close to me. However, for the longest time, I didn’t recognize that something was wrong. Or maybe I just didn’t want to admit it. But ignoring the pain didn’t cause it to go away. It wasn’t until I realized how unmanageable my life had become as a result of this pain that I finally made the decision to get help. And it came in the form of my first Overcomers Outreach 12 step recovery meeting.

“Our spiritual journey begins with our acknowledgment of powerlessness. We learn through the pain and unmanageability of our lives that we cannot control our lives or the lives of others.” (Meditations for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

First Step Prayer:

Today, I ask for help with my addiction. Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am and how my life is unmanageable. I need to learn and remember that I have an incurable illness and that abstinence is the only way to deal with it. Amen! (Prayers for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

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