Integrity Matters


I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.


We live in a world of brokenness and inconsistency. When pressure mounts, we need a sure and secure confidence in what God is doing. In Nehemiah 6, we are introduced to a man of integrity who rises above the blame game and takes positive steps to recovery. For example, in Nehemiah 6:8–9, he calmly denies the charges; in verses 10–12, he carefully resists the pressure so that by verses 15–19, he confidently completes the task.

If you were governor of Jerusalem looking for a man to take charge, what abilities would you look for? What qualities would stand out in your thinking, and where would you find such a person?

Nehemiah was very blessed to have a brother with the same deeply rooted convictions and principles as him. Hanani is described as a man of integrity who feared God (Nehemiah 7:2).

The word “integrity” in the Hebrew language means honesty and sincerity coupled with the idea of completeness. There are two aspects to this word integrity. One is “kalos,” meaning honour and honesty. The second colouring of integrity is “adolos,” which means pure or untarnished.

Throughout the Scriptures we see the importance of this virtue, in how much God values it. David said, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity . . .”
(1 Chronicles 29:17). Job maintained his integrity, and further stated that his integrity was at stake (Job 6:29). Those seeking to find fault with Jesus said, “We know you are a man of integrity . . .” (Matthew 22:16).



1. How does the Hebrew definition of “integrity” help formulate your idea of what it means to be a man or a woman of integrity?

2. How is integrity related to justice and compassion? Is it a necessary character trait to do justice and to show compassion?

Ernie Gray is National Chaplains Coordinator for the Association of Alliance Chaplains. Alliance Chaplains minister in communities that are often beyond the reach of the traditional church, such as in hospitals, prisons, and the Armed Forces. They represent Christ in the midst of everyday life and in extraordinary circumstances. Click here to learn more about Alliance chaplains.

A Great Fish or a Bunch of Cattle


 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labour, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

JONAH 4:10–11 (ESV)

Jonah and the whale: A story of God chasing down a disobedient prophet and using a massive man-eating-but-not-chewing-or-digesting fish.

The moral of the story: When God says, “Go this way,” don’t go “that way.” Or is it?

I suggest that the story of Jonah is much more complex than a lesson in obedience. It reveals to us the heart of man and the heart of God. Specifically, it reveals that we, like Jonah, want to protect ourselves against discomfort and risk, even if it means ignoring what God has clearly told us to do. It also reveals that our God is generous and wants all nations to know his love and receive his grace, that he cares about the plight of those who are living under the oppression of ignorance and sin—and how that ignorance and sin is not only affecting their souls but also their cattle.

Their cattle?

We think the most important animal in the story is the great fish. But the last line of the book says otherwise: “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

What’s with the cattle?

It seems that God wanted Jonah to bring a message of repentance and forgiveness and hope so that the great city of Nineveh (cattle = Nineveh’s gross domestic product) could be restored.

When God calls us to bring the Good News of Christ’s love and grace to all nations, he has in mind a grand vision. Yes, to save their souls, but also to save their cattle, their economy. The renewal that the Gospel brings to a city and a country is spiritual, social, and material.

Because the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.



1. How has the Gospel of Jesus Christ affected all aspects of my own life
(spiritual, social, material)?

2. What can I do to seek a more holistic renewal in the lives of those who need to know the message of the Gospel?

Vijay Krishnan is Lead Pastor of Upper Room Community Church in Vaughan, ON (a church planted by Rexdale Alliance in 2005). Upper Room is committed to being used by God to authentically represent Jesus Christ by loving God and serving others in a city marked by continuous growth and affluence and religious and ethnic diversity. Visit

“I Thirst”



“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”


It was a long, hot night. There were no curtains to stop the Haitian sun from waking me too early. I was uncomfortable as the electricity was only sporadically available throughout the day and night. Without power, I had no air conditioning and even a cool shower was unsatisfying, as the water would barely dribble from the showerhead. I was tired, grimy, miserable, and irritably wishing my time in Haiti was done.

Later that morning my daughter picked me up to visit someone she knew who was in the hospital. She explained that when you are admitted into the hospital in Haiti, you are responsible for your own bedding, food, water, and medication.

After visiting with her friend, we stopped by the maternity wing where a dozen or more ladies awaited the arrival of their babies and several others cuddled their newborns.

We soon realized these women were thirsty and had no one to bring them any water. We quickly went out and purchased water packets, then returned with water for every lady in that wing. Their eyes and smiles communicated their appreciation, even though we had no common language.

Suddenly my discomfort while being in Haiti made sense. I always thought the poor needed my wealth. But in that moment I realized that I needed the poor to serve my Saviour.

Our gift of cold water not only blessed the recipients, it also enlarged my heart. In the process, Jesus received a cup of refreshment, too. I remembered Jesus’ words from the cross: “I thirst” (John 19:28). When we give a cup of water to those in need we satiate the very thirst of Christ.



1. Why isn’t generosity with our wealth enough?

2. What motivates you more: seeing people in need who are thirsting, or picturing Jesus thirsting?

Eldon Boldt is Lead Pastor at Circle Drive Alliance Church in Saskatoon, SK.
Eldon has been a pastor in Saskatoon for more than 30 years.

The Extravagant Samaritan


“But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him.”

LUKE 10:33-34

When I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, the first word that comes to mind is “extravagance.” The Good Samaritan gave extravagantly—much more than just giving the man some loose change; loose change was not his need at that moment. He desperately needed community, somebody to treat him justly, as a person created and loved by God.

And then there’s the priest and the Levite. Like them, we are busy with our religious lives, determined to reach our established goals, worried about the bottom line. We can become easily upset if we are inconvenienced, be it a traffic jam or a drunken man asking us for loose change.

One charity had a rather touching commercial on TV recently. After displaying the plight of various groups, they pleaded with the viewer to “Join in the struggle for justice” just by sending in a donation. It seems to me that the priest and the Levite would have been quite selfrighteous about sending in their donations.

I see this as a pretty serious problem within the Church. We can ease our conscience by giving a donation, but then we walk right past the homeless woman on the street without even a thought of concern or compassion. We justify ourselves by our so-called “sacrificial donation.” Having done that, we are then free (or so we think) to do whatever we want in terms of self-centred pursuits. But pity the poor guy who might interrupt us in that pursuit. The Good Samaritan gave extravagantly. How do you give?


Sketch for The Good Samaritan by Margaret Parker used with permission.

Sketch for The Good Samaritan by Margaret Parker (used with permission).


 1. How can we “join in the struggle for justice”? How can we do so without feeling selfrighteous?

2. If you were to become a neighbour “to the one who had fallen into the hands robbers” (v36) what would that look like? What are some first steps you could take as a family or as a church?

Doug Wiebe is Pastor to the Parish for Exchange Community Church in Winnipeg, MB. Growing up as a farm kid in Saskatchewan, Doug ventured out to minister in Honolulu and Hong Kong and also served 12 years as Eastern Canadian District Superintendent before returning to the prairies. Visit

Expressing the Kingdom of God



“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

LUKE 10:9

Luke 10:1-12 gives a beautiful picture of how we are to extend the ministry of Christ. Here, Jesus gives clear instructions that it must go much deeper than just proclamation:

1. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’”
Offer shalom! The word peace actually means “shalom,” which is found 486 times in Scripture. Shalom refers not just to an absence of violence but rather a holistic wellbeing with security and equity in all areas of life. We extend that kind of ministry to people as we enter their lives and communities, proclaiming the message of a God who wants people to experience that kind of wholeness in all areas of their lives.

2. “Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you.”
Build relationships! Eating together in that culture meant intimate fellowship. We must connect relationally with people who don’t know Jesus.

3. “Heal the sick who are there.”
Work to restore the physical effects of a broken world! Christ has given authority to his Church to heal the sick and to cast out demons. Our world is full of the effects of sin that impact people physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. We must increase our faith to believe that God still longs to demonstrate his power and victory by doing the miraculous.

4. “Tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
The signs of the kingdom will always reverse the effects of a fallen world! As we enter people’s lives, sharing the message of shalom and demonstrating kingdom values, we will see a broken and sinful world restored, renewed, and transformed.

It is God’s desire that people experience shalom—the world as he intended it. That is the message that we must proclaim and demonstrate!



1. Who am I intentionally building relationships with in my community, on their turf?

2. Do I have faith that Jesus will physically and spiritually heal in dramatic ways as he did in the Gospel accounts? Do I have enough faith to ask him and expect him to do this in my community?

Joanne Beach serves the C&MA in Canada as the
Director of Alliance Justice and Compassion.

Note: A great resource that explores the Church as a builder of shalom community is Robert C. Linthicum’s book, Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform Their Communities.

Mini-Easter Celebration Sunday

Sunday 3

The six Sundays are not counted among the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” – a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”
— ISAIAH 11:1 (NASB)

The ‘Jesse Tree‘ represents the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus Christ. It tells the story of God’s salvation plan, beginning with creation and continuing through the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1 and many retell this story during Advent.  With this tradition in mind, here is a way to reinvent the Jesse Tree for Easter.  Its called the “Jesus Tree.”

Family Craft – The Jesus Tree

In celebration of His sacrificial death on the tree, and the new life found only in Christ, you may choose to make a “Jesus Tree” as a symbolic way to mark the days leading up to Easter.

1. Gather branches (like dogwood, pussy willows or forsythia) in a container (like a vase or pitcher)

2. Hang decorative eggs from the branches as a symbol of new life in Christ. Because of His sacrificial death on the tree, we can have new life in Him. Or you can cut out fruit-shaped cards and write the names of people whom you are praying will receive His gift of grace.
Jesus Tree vase

3. Use the Jesus Tree as a natural opportunity to share with others about our only hope – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – when they visit your home throughout the Easter season.

On Their Turf


“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

MATTHEW 5:46–48

Loving people who have neat and tidy lives is easy. However, if we are going to live out justice and compassion, this means loving those who aren’t like us, and who don’t have orderly lives. Matthew 5:46-48 challenges us to love those who may never pay us back.

Loving people who are difficult to love requires a source outside of ourselves. Our human love has clear limitations. We may be able to pull off loving the unlovable for a while, but that well dries up pretty quickly. First Corinthians 13:4-7 speaks of a love that, lived out daily, comes from the heart of God.

What does this look like? Going to places where we are not comfortable: back alleys, housing projects, places where people are lonely and are calling out for help.

Do we meet them on our turf or theirs? Do we call them to come to us or do as Christ said by going to them? Indeed, our churches have wonderful programs in them; maybe some would come, but many won’t.

Marshall was a man who spent his time in a back alley, alone. He felt unworthy to come out onto main streets. He was a struggling alcoholic, yet he had a heart that revered God. One day, Marshall went into the church on the corner in his neighbourhood. He announced that tomorrow was his birthday, a day to make a new beginning with God. Marshall died two days later, trusting God.



1. Who is one person in your life, or whom you’ve encountered briefly, who doesn’t have a neat and tidy life? What is one way you can demonstrate selfless love to this person, recognizing that you will not be repaid by them, perhaps not even thanked?

2. What is the source of your love? Why do you serve at church? Why do you volunteer?
Why do you do kind things for people?

Donna Dyck is the author of Confessions of a Not-So-Average Girl and Not Beyond Our Reach. Her deepest desire is to see shattered lives restored through the power of Jesus Christ. Donna and her husband, Bill, have been serving as lead pastoral couple in Toronto Alliance Church for 15 years. Their ministry is focused on restoring broken lives among the poor, newcomers to Canada, at-risk children and youth, and those struggling with addictions.