Face to Face

The heavens are telling of the greatness of God and the great open spaces above show the work of His hands.

Intentionally living in the so-called “you don’t want to go there” neighbourhood of Toronto, Dan Buggie, Pastor of Lightpoints at Jane and Finch has a new perspective on life when seen through the eyes of youth:

 “Through meeting some of the moms whose teenage boys are being mentored here, I’ve come to hear of their way of life back in South Africa. Despite the apparent lack of modern Internet technology in their homes there, they nevertheless had a strong realized sense of community and togetherness which here, we have “virtualized” through Facebook and other digital apps.

These moms are finding it hard to cope with the isolation and individualism that they see and experience here, being in a big city for the first time.

Once, while taking the youth on a biking adventure, I was amazed by, and reminded of, how important a sense of wonder is in discerning God. Each time these youth would observe a bird or other animal, they would be inspired to praise God and marvel at his greatness in designing creation.”*

 That sense of wonder is certainly hard to capture when we are hunched over our smartphones, trying to catch up on the latest news of the virtual world. “One has to ask the question, have our lives become so virtually busy that we have missed the opportunity to engage together in real face-to-face encounters with God’s creation?”

Misplaced wonder leads to wander. Instead of being enamoured with increased “memory” and “data storage,” let’s increase our memory and devotion to the reality that his memory is our salvation and security. Only as we behold him face-to-face in true faith will the fog of our diversions turn into the fire of delight in his purposes to reclaim, redeem and restore broken and ruined lives.

Consider this unique perspective: “We don’t need more time for Facebook; what we really need is to book more face-to-face time.”

1. Consider taking a week-long or even merely a one-day fast from media. What would a Christ-centred, Spirit-empowered, Mission-focused life look like without being virtually connected?
2. In what ways can I book face-to-face time with others in order to recognize, enjoy and regain a sense of wonder in God’s creation?

*Dan Buggie’s blog post Through the Eyes of Youth can be found at seatosea.net/new-ventures/ lightpoints-at-jane-and-finch/news.

The Only Saviour

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
JOHN 6:68-69

In a growingly secular world, saviours of all kinds continue to abound. While they might not appear to be of a religious kind, in their own way, each of them offers us some kind of salvation. Wholesale stores, car dealers, vacation resorts, diets, exercise, education and social networks all promise to meet our deepest needs if only we will trust in them and give our lives to them.

Of course, they cannot. Each may be able to offer us something, but none of them can meet our deepest needs. There is only One who can provide the kind and the depth of salvation that we need. Even if he did not realize it, this is what Jesus’ disciple, Peter, said. While many of Jesus’ disciples were leaving him, finding his teaching too hard and hoping to find what they wanted in something or someone else, Peter noted that those who had remained with him did so because there are no other options. Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter realized that if they were with Jesus, “the Holy One of God,” they were with the only One who has what they really need—life. To even think about exchanging Jesus for anyone else would be foolishness.

The contemporary world is no different. Each one of us is tempted daily to look to someone other than Jesus to fulfill our needs, yet, we need to remember that Jesus, “the Holy One of God,” is the only One who can meet not only our deepest needs but also all of our needs.


1. To which contemporary “saviours” am I tempted to give my allegiance? Why do I find that “saviour” particularly tempting?
2. What can/should I do to ensure that my dependence upon Jesus stays primary?

Bernie Van De Walle is a Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Ambrose University and Seminary. Bernie has served in pastoral and elder roles in Alliance congregations and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the C&MA in Canada. His study of A. B. Simpson and The Christian and Missionary Alliance, The Heart of the Gospel, has been translated into Vietnamese and Chinese, with translations into Korean, Spanish and French in the works. Bernie lives in Calgary with his wife, Colleen; they are the proud parents of two great sons, David and Ken.

Image: by Heidi Ansiel ὁράω – To See With the Mind: “John 6:68”

Dwelling in the Land

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
PSALM 37:3–4 (NLT)

Two years ago, Marcos and Cecilia left their life of security in San Jose, Costa Rica and moved to a very poor and very rural community. They restarted life in an empty field with no access to comforts and conveniences. They left family, a small business and a growing community ministry. I remember Cecilia told me that God directed them elsewhere because there were other people who needed to hear of what his love and grace could do. God gave her a purpose, and she heard the Holy Spirit give direction.

They lived out of their car for weeks, trying to establish a home in an empty field. They made a water drill bit out of a soup can; a roof of leaves was all they had as they cooked over a fire in torrential rains. Marcos and Cecilia moved forward with a strong desire to serve God. They listened as the Holy Spirit gave hope and direction through difficult times.

Two years later, now they have a home that is the focal point of God’s transforming work in this community. Every Saturday, 85 children meet to hear about God, memorize Bible verses and receive the only food that most of them will eat that day. Adults are welcomed to receive daily counsel. Women meet weekly to sew and interact as they explore God’s Word. They also started a weekly worship time which has grown from eight people to a local church with 60 people attending three weekly services.

Psalm 37:3–4 directs us to trust in the Lord, to dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. As we delight in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our hearts.

1. What are my desires for my local community?
2. How can I “dwell in the land” of my neighbourhood or community?

Curtis Doell is an International Worker in the Caribbean Sun Region focusing on ministries of Justice and Compassion.

Engaged and Disengaged

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? … If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day … then you will find your joy in the LORD…”
ISAIAH 58:6, 13–14

I am intrigued by a counterpoint found in Isaiah 58. The prophet sounds a magisterial call for
engagement in our world with a commitment to social justice, but also a disengagement—a rest—from this same call.

Isaiah is speaking about worship, but he stresses that worship is only authentic if it is complemented by a very specific kind of engagement with the world: a commitment to justice, to advocating and caring for the oppressed, to feeding the hungry and attending to the homeless. He calls for consistency, a congruency between our worship and our actions in the world.

This is a simple yet powerful reminder that when we speak of the mission of the Church, it is a witness to Christ and to the Kingdom that is expressed in word and deed. More to the point, these words of the prophet remind us that there is no righteousness without justice, and more, there is no justice without economic justice.

The prophet also calls for disengagement; it is fascinating to see a call for social justice back to back with a call to Sabbath rest, a call for disengagement from the pressures and challenges of serving Christ in the world. This suggests that Sabbath rest is a vital spiritual practice. We are not called to unrelenting work and witness; rather, in Sabbath rest, we disengage and learn to trust God to do God’s work in God’s time. The call to Sabbath is a reminder that there is a rhythm to work and rest and to service and leisure at the very heart of creation and, interestingly, in the call of God on our lives.

Isaiah 58 reveals a fascinating counterpoint: a call to engagement and disengagement.

1. In what ways am I engaging in social justice?
2. It is easy to become too involved in our fast-paced society. Is Sabbath rest in the Lord a priority in my spiritual life?

Gordon T. Smith is the President of Ambrose University in Calgary, AB

image: Basin and Towel with Bench ©2010 3dBibleScenes.com

Christ’s Ambassadors

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead

As a pastor of an English-speaking international church, I see people from many nations, including a number of ambassadors who attend our services. They are here representing their home countries, and while they are intelligent and gifted people with incredible abilities, their agenda is set not by themselves in their wisdom and experience, but by the foreign policy of their respective nations. Paul began his letter to the Galatians with his credentials: he was “sent not from man nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.” He was fully aware that his agenda was set by his King.

We also have a number of foreign students in the church who come on scholarships that cover their tuition but leave them almost destitute after paying for room and board; yet, in their humble circumstances, they are engaging in God’s enterprise. Cooking for one another, twenty of them will gather in a small apartment to study scriptures, pray and spend time with God. These young men and women are realizing that they are Christ’s ambassadors and are seeking to serve God, rather than their own ambitions, both in their current situation and when they return to their homelands.

For nearly 130 years, the Alliance has been in the business of preparing and sending ambassadors of Jesus Christ around the world, men and women who seek God’s agenda and desire to “… not be sent from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father…” (Gal. 1:1).


1. Have I prayed and reflected upon what God’s agenda is for me today? What about the rest of my life?
2. How does my life reflect my calling as an ambassador of Christ?

Don Orr and his wife, Betty, are currently serving in their fourth term as International Workers in Poland. They have a passion for equipping and discipling people to be all Christ called them to be.

Are you, or someone you know, interested in being an ambassador for Christ internationally? Check out the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s goglobalcma.com website for more information.

What’s in Your Boat


…the disciples woke him (Jesus) and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
MARK 4:38–39

When I read Mark 4:35–41, I thankfully cannot identify with the disciples’ experience of being in a boat about to be capsized by a furious squall, but I can identify with the
emotional response to their circumstance and their frustration that Jesus didn’t seem to be aware or care that they were about to drown. He was asleep while they faced a serious, life-threatening storm! What seemed to be so certain to them only a short time before—that Jesus was the miracle-working teacher who loved them—was being drowned out by water pouring into their boat. Perhaps the underlying question to their comment of “don’t you care if we drown?” was actually “do you really love us?”

When we’re terrified by the reality of what we are facing in our boats, it’s easy to feel like Jesus is asleep or not in the boat with us at all. It’s easy to wonder if he loves us or cares about what is in our boats when the storm rages around us.

When Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm with, “Quiet! Be still!” the disciples may have thought he was also speaking to them. Their hearts needed quietening from the storm within, just like the storm outside. They needed to remember that Jesus was in the boat with them and their fears and anxieties. They needed to see with their eyes and know in their hearts that he was in control, even when all around them felt otherwise.

Jesus asks us for simple trust in the middle of furious squalls in our lives. He is in control. He’s in the boat with us. The winds, waves, troubles and fears are under his watchful and loving eyes.


1. What is threatening to capsize my boat today?
2. What is Jesus saying to me in the middle of my storm?

Glendyne Gerrard is the Director of Defend Dignity, working to end sexual exploitation in Canada. She lives in Oakville, ON with her husband, Doug

Celebration Sunday

How is it going? Tomorrow marks the halfway point of this devotional journey together!

Celebrate what God has been doing in your life through these devotionals with thousands of others on this journey and share a verse of scripture or words of encouragement for others online at
40days-faithandhope.com/category/lent-posts-2015 and leave a comment there or post your thoughts on twitter, facebook, or instagram and use the hashtag #40daysfaithhope.