Stop the World! I want to get off!

 

 

Sometimes enough is enough. I am getting a little tired of the articles that are being posted by people of faith regarding a certain “day” set aside for “pagan” activities.

There are articles like bit.ly/1NCXRSZ  and this one http://bit.ly/1Rg1yyP   and I am sure there are many others as well. The issue resides in the fact that posting articles such as these are simply one sided and condemning. I could easily make a convincing presentation with scripture with the opposite viewpoint of the articles that is life giving and full of redemption but why bother when you could read this one http://bit.ly/1O9QkhE or this onehttp://bit.ly/1NCYxrw in order to get a balanced perspective. Goodness, if we are going to attack one “pagan” day let’s hold the standard high against them all…that includes Christmas and Easter.  

I grew up in what I would have called strong Christian fundamental leanings, yet oddly enough my parents had no problems with us getting dressed up and going door to door, putting up a Christmas tree and handing out chocolate Easter bunnies.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 is clear. It becomes a matter of conscience as to how believers are interact with their cultural surroundings. But let's agree to disagree without condemning those who do or don't!

This Sunday

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” 
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

What to do? Which way to go? What career path do I take? What school do I go to? Who do I marry? It appears that there are so many options and choices when it comes to decision making in our lives. Some people live life by the moment and keep changing their minds regarding decisions worried that they have made the wrong one. Others are paralyzed by fear and refuse to make any decisions of any kind.

The Old Testament provides valuable lessons of making wise choices in our lives. In Genesis Lot made a choice as to where to live, and as a result he experienced war and kidnapping and oppression and torment by the ungodly citizens of Sodom. He also lost all of his possessions, experienced the death of his wife, and committed incest with his daughters.

King David chose to commit adultery with Bathsheba, and as a consequence he suffered the death of his infant son, had a daughter molested by her half-brother, who was later murdered by her vengeful brother. David experienced a rebellion led by that son, who shamed him publicly, and whose eventual death brought even more grief to David.

Needless to say the choices we make greatly affect our lives and the lives of those who are the closest to us. So join us this Sunday at 9:09am or 11:11am as we look at the book of Proverbs for some suggestions for in making wise choices and what to do when we have made the wrong choice!

 “For every action there is a reaction, and for every choice there is a consequence.”

Why We Give!

So, I am sitting here at my desk putting my signature on hundreds of letters that we will place in envelops when we give out tax receipts for the previous year’s donations. As I am writing my name over and over again, a question came to me. Why do we give?

At Soul Sanctuary we are currently in a series called The Door to Freedom, and it is all about dealing with our hurts, habits and hang ups. One of the hang ups that some people have is giving to the church. It was Jesus who said that our money matters reveal our heart’s alignment with GOD’s priorities (Matthew 6:21).

It is one thing to invest in our own future, family etc. but why do people continue to invest faithfully in GOD’s ministry and mission through Soul Sanctuary? I have looked over what we have been doing here at Soul and I thought that I would like to offer a few suggestions.

First, Jesus Christ is clearly lifted up as the The Way of life! Expect nothing else when you come and experience a Sunday gathering. Secondly, people are finding Him and experiencing freedom that only Jesus can offer. Then there is the fact that Soul is investing its resources in making children and teen ministry a priority! WE LOVE KIDS! Well actually we love PEOPLE! Not too mention that ministry with the poor is a practice and not just an ideal. We have passionate staff and volunteers making a huge difference at our Living Word Temple location in the north end of the city. On any given Sunday, Soul demonstrates racial diversity and inclusivity as evidence of the Spirit of Pentecost…we all come together! Also, any given Sunday there are those who have walked in through the doors and do not ascribe to any faith and they are welcomed and given time to inch in faith.

I am moved to know that there are those who are in the paralyisis of addiction of all kinds who are getting up off their mats of denial and stepping into GOD’s blessed future…and there are even those of us who struggle with this culture of consumerism who are being transformed into faithful followers of Jesus.

Then the various missions that are sponsored over all the world: Russia, Indonesia, Africa, Central America and the list goes on and ends with what we are doing locally! 

The coolest thing that I love about Soul is the Joy Basket! Yup! The fact that we do not "take" an offering but rather have 2 baskets that greet you when you walk in to the facility is amazing. People give, and they give joyfully! What more can we ask for? Not too mention they sacrificially give of their resources so that others might know the freedom of new life found in Jesus. So, I sit here overwhelmed with what GOD is doing through this church and feeling blessed....

 Thank You! #iloveourchurch

And, what about your community of faith?

Year End Update from the Chair

It has been a few months since I have taken the time to post on this blog, to which I apologize. My pre-New Years resolution is to post regularly in 2015. With that said, this new post is to bring you all up to speed on what is happening here at Soul Sanctuary.  

"So, how is the new building?" is a question I hear all the time. Simply put.. FANTASTIC! as we are beginning to use it both for ministry and community purposes. This place is a constant hum of people coming and going and believe it or not it has been a great catalyst for conversation with the community at large. 

It has always been the Vision of Soul Sanctuary to impact the community at large. I have to take a moment to say THANK YOU to all the volunteers who help make Soul Sanctuary and Living Word Temple happen every week, because without your physical presence and those who contribute financially we would not be able to do what we do. Thank You to the set up and tear down crews, the hospitality team, the kids and youth leaders, the sound, video, and lighting team (AKA Tech Team), those in the parking lot, those making meals at LWT or kids ministry at LWT those who serve in leadership and those who give of their finances. We have a community that I am so proud of... I lOVE MY CHURCH! For Example: a call went out to collect for hampers for families from Living Word Temple and Soul Sanctuary has raised over $8000 to bless almost 40 families this Christmas. WHAT A GIVING SPIRIT! 

In keeping with the spirit of giving, Soul Sanctuary was blessed with a very generous donation designated to help bring the building and ministry up to a full functioning level. So, what you will see in the next 2 months is some minor construction happening as we are installing a new electrical panel so that we will have a fully functioning kitchen, as well as enough electricity to begin as we plan the building of a daycare, start date hopefully in April. Budgeted from this this donation we have (or will be) purchased furniture for the atrium, appliances and cabinets/countertops for the kitchen complete with utensils, stage lighting, video equipment, and audio equipment. We still rely on the weekly support if the community so please remember to continue to give either in the Joy Basket or online! 

Now for some changes: Joanne Ritchie who has been on staff in various roles is again, changing portfolios from our Office Administrator to our Daycare Development Consultant. Her focus will be in putting all the necessary details together so that Soul Sanctuary can have a Daycare for 8 infants and 32 children running by September. That means we have a JOB OPENING at Soul! 

We will be accepting resumes immediately for the OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR position. -  The successful candidate must be a spiritually mature individual and fully support the Vision, Mission and Statement of Faith of Soul Sanctuary, with the ability to whole-heartedly live out the Statement of Faith of Soul Sanctuary. Have a minimum Grade XII graduation. Must have a minimum five years experience and/or training in administration or related areas; Demonstrate initiative and the ability to organize, schedule and complete work on various concurrent assignments with minimum supervision in a timely manner. Ability to communicate and establish effective working relationships with many different people. Duties may include fielding telephone calls and emails, receiving and directing visitors, word processing and filing, provide administrative support for other staff members, basic financial record keeping and data entry, as well as other duties as assigned  

January 10th is our closing date for accepting resumes. Please email a cover letter and resume to gsm@soulsanctuary.ca 

ALSO we have CUSTODIAN positions as well. There are 3 CUSTODIAL ROLES that are looking to be filled here at Soul. 

First there is the DAY CUSTODIAN which is approximately 16 hours per week and the person must be present on Saturday and one other day a week. 

Secondly, there is the EVENING CUSTODIAN and FACILITY MANAGER is approximately 20 hours per week and is present from 6pm until closing. 

Third, there is the SUNDAY/ON CALL Custodian which is a minimum of 3 hours a week on Sundays but is also ON CALL if help is needed for the other two positions. 

January 10th is our closing date for accepting resumes. Please email a cover letter and resume to gsm@soulsanctuary.ca 

Finally, we are also accepting resumes for a BOOK KEEPER position of 5-10 hours per month. 

January 10th is our closing date for accepting resumes. Please email a cover letter and resume to gsm@soulsanctuary.ca 

 

So there you have it. A little update as to all the excitement here at Soul Sanctuary. I trust that you will have a Merry Christmas. In the pas,t because we have not had a facility of our own, we never did Christmas gatherings at Soul. We encouraged our community to go and support other churches. This year we are breaking our Christmas tradition of telling our people to go to other churches for Christmas Eve and we want you to invite all your friends and family (and those from other churches!) to join us on Christmas Eve from 6-7pm. Be Blessed and from my family to yours.....MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

 

Soul Sanctuary Golf Tournament Auction Items!

Sunday will be our 10th #Allhandsheld golf tournament. Read about the details here (http://soulsanctuary.ca/all-hands-held-fund). We have a good number of golfers coming out and a huge number of people coming for dinner and the silent action. So I was thinking what about those who couldn't make the evening but still may want to bid on items? Last year someone was bidding from the southern states and won the item. How can you do this? Well, if you know of someone going to the event, ask them to be your proxy and bid for you. If you have no one to look out for you email me or message me through Facebook and I will bid on your behalf.

 Remember all funds raised are going to Indonesia and Africa!

 I will be posting pictures of the items on social media for those who are interested. Here is a list of what I know for sure:

 

Hockey sticks signed by Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne, Shay Webber

A framed color photo signed by both Wayne and Dave Babych in their hockey gear.

And a number of signed pictures of various hockey players.

Dinner at Pastor Gerry's.

Apple TV

Magic bullet single shot

Sodastream

Roku 3 streaming media player

Bar Fridge

Golf Bag and a pair of Jets tickets

HP Photosmart 7520 inkjet multifunction unit

$50 gift certificate from Cornerstone Bar and Grill

50” Samsung TV

Golf Bag

HP Slate 7” x2

5 GolfTown Gft cards $50 each

2 Keg $50 gift cards

7” Galaxy Tablet

Keurig Platinum Brewer

Jets Tickets to New Years Eve vs Islanders

4 Movie Passes to Cineplex

$500 Towards purchase of tires at Kroy Tire

Adult Mountain Bike

Quest Musique – Djembe Drum/Guitar and lessons for each

BBQ Broil King Model 320

$150 Visa card

Colour Xerox Work Centre 6505/DN color multifunction printer

Surface Pro 2 238 GB Tablet

40” Samsung TV

Golf Bag

Rescue wood

Chipper/putter

Ipad

Ryobi 18v drill kit

Dewalt Jigsaw

Makita Circular Saw

Makita Sander

 

Homecoming

Dear Soul Sanctuary Community, 
It's official! This Sunday July 20, 2014 is Soul Sanctuary's first gathering in our new home, 2050 Chevrier Blvd. We eagerly await what God has planned for the Soul Sanctuary community in this new facility.
I am asking that you help us complete our move into the building this week. There are many tasks that need to be completed before the building is operational for our Sunday gathering. If you are available Thursday (Evening), Friday (Morning, Afternoon, Evening) or Saturday (Morning, Afternoon, Evening) please contact the church office at 204.226.2324 or info@soulsanctuary.ca to confirm a time to come and help. 
Finally, we ask you to join us on Sunday for a BBQ celebration in the parking lot after the gathering from 12-3pm. 

Thank you for your continued support throughout this process,

--
Gerry Michalski
Lead Pastor | Soul Sanctuary
info@soulsanctuary.ca
204.226.2324

Reflections of #PAOC14

Disclaimer: There are many views on the following topic…do yourself the favor and read the entire post IT IS LONG…the subject at hand, to some, is an emotional issue and I recognize that, however I am attempting to write from my theological perspective.

It has been a week since the fellowship of which I am credentialed with had their General Conference (#PAOC14). The major issue to be voted on at this year’s conference was regarding the consumption of alcohol for its credential holders. I would have loved to say that the major issue of ‘discussion’ was regarding the consumption of alcohol for its credential holders, but that wasn't the case.

My fellowship was birthed out of the Azusa Street revival back in 1906-1915. From there the revival swept the world and its legacy today is an estimated 500 million Pentecostal/charismatic believers around the world today. Now my fellowship (Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada) has had a history of abstinence. I remember growing up hearing the stories of people who were “saved from drinking” or “saved from dancing” and it appears that the church culture defined what certain elements were sinful. The home in which I grew up in was one of abstinence as both of my parents had family members with serious alcohol issues. So much so, I remember my parents getting a bottle of wine for a gift and I watched my mother pour it down the kitchen sink so that no one would taste it! Yet, on the other hand, my wife’s family (which was Pentecostal as well) had no issue with alcohol as they kept it in their home and occasionally indulged themselves.

This brings us to the topic of the blog. The item of for amendment was a line in the constitution that simply stated that “the non-medical use of mood altering substances” was listed under a moral failure.

Now, let’s be honest the wording of “Mood altering substances” is very vague and can be easily danced around if need be. So there was a call to clarify the stance of my fellowship on the issue of alcohol. What was interesting is that there is no longer an historical view being held to regarding alcohol but rather a diverse opinion on the issue.   

As my friend Paul Walker on his blog explained “The General Executive attempted to clarify those areas that are moral absolutes and those that are corporate convictions. The placement of “the non-medical use of mood altering substances” in the category of “moral failure” as it currently reads was not viewed as helpful to the fellowship. It was with this background that the following resolution was presented under the category of disciplinary action: 

10.6.2.2.3 The use of tobacco and the non medical use of alcohol or other mood altering substances.

The resolution sought to indicate that it is drunkenness that infringes on the biblical absolute whereas drinking alcohol as a credential holder infringes on our historic corporate conviction of abstinence.”

The fact that was revealed at this conference is that the corporate conviction of credential holders is not unanimous on the issue of alcohol. It was obvious at the conference that there was a significant percentage of credential holders that would advocate for moderationist view on the issue of alcohol.

 Most Christians hold one of 3 common views of alcohol:

1.  Prohibitionist: The Bible teaches that alcohol consumption is totally forbidden by scripture.
2. Abstentionist: Although the Bible does not expressly forbid the drinking of alcoholic beverages, the consumption of alcohol in our society is reckless and should not be condoned.
3. Moderationist: Alcohol is permitted for Christians as long as consumed in moderation and in a careful manner.

It is critical for us to consider our stance as many people already see Christians as more about what they are against than what they are for.  As I talk to people outside the church this is often their view of Christians and churches.  Therefore churches that functionally disallow alcohol, dancing etc. are the churches these non-believers and/or people raised in churches are trying to avoid. 

I found that this is an issue that separates church leaders with a historical mindset vs a today’s worldview.  Why is this important?  People with a historical mentality are able to separate out alcohol from their beliefs, while todays generation see things less compartmentalized and seek holistic views and thus alcohol becomes a significant gospel issue.  

With that said, I was troubled at our conference when the issue was being discussed and two of the PAOC’s scholars got up and challenged the amendment, as written, as there was no scriptural basis and the one chosen to support the amendment was used out of context. To my surprise and horror the majority of the conference delegation refused to heed the advise of our scholars and voted their suggestions down. This proved to me that it was not about theology but rather emotion and history. The next day one of our General Executive members announced from the platform “Our theology matters!” Yes, Yes it does, and it should matter in this area as well. Thus my need to post…

Many people feel that it is just wrong for believers to drink, others feel it is ok for people to drink as long as they don’t get drunk and others are just not sure. Again, it comes down to what do you believe and why do you believe it? We need to own our faith. We all need to be students of the scriptures. It is not good enough to say my pastor said it, and that is good enough for me. People, know what you believe and why you believe it and do your best to back it up by scripture.

.Romans 14 5-8 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

We are called to know what we believe and why we believe it. Our culture is based on extremes. There are those who are Legalists who put everything they believe in a closed hand and nothing is open to discussion, but on the other hand Liberals hold everything in the open hand and everything is questionable and up to debate. However, I believe that there are some things in our faith that are not open to debate: Things like the virgin birth and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, just to name a few. But there are other issues that people can lean on either side of the fence. We must wrestle with theology and figure out what we hold tightly onto and what we will leave open to debate.

 Paul writes in Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Throughout the first 1,800 years of church history, Christians consumed alcoholic beverages as a common part of everyday life and nearly always used wine in the Lord's Supper. It was believed that both the Bible and Christian tradition taught that alcohol is a gift from God that makes life more joyous and that overindulgence, which leads to drunkenness, is a sin. In the mid 1800s, some Protestant Christians moved from this historic position of allowing moderate use of alcohol to deciding that having alcohol around was not the wisest thing to do. Eventually some would prohibit all and any consumption of alcohol because it was believed to be a sin. Today, all three of these positions exist in Christianity, but the historic position remains the most common worldwide.

I grew up in a holiness culture and my fellowship would consider itself a holiness movement. For the most part the holiness cultural view on alcohol was that it is something that you did not touch and that you would not even entertain the thought. The holiness culture feels that the use of alcohol was sinful because of what it leads to: That being alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse, and all different sorts of vices that are attributed to the abuse of alcohol. So, the best thing was to stay far away from it.

The reality is that alcohol has a tendency of controlling people and destroying lives and there are serious social issues related to booze. One study reports that those who first used alcohol before age 15 are more than 5 times as likely to report past year alcohol dependence or abuse as adults than persons who first used alcohol at age 21 or older.  Alcohol abuse and dependence often begins during childhood and adolescence,” In the US a report found that among the 14 million adults aged 21 or older who were classified as having past year alcohol dependence or abuse, over 13 million (95 percent) had started using alcohol before age 21.  The survey found that 74 percent of adults aged 21 or older reported that they had started using alcohol before the current legal drinking age of 21.  About 14 percent reported that they had first used alcohol after they had reached age 21. Maybe Canada should consider raising the drinking age?

MADD Canada reports that in 2010, the most recent year for which there is data, impairment-related crashes resulted in an estimated 1,082 fatalities, 63,821 injuries and damage to 210,932 vehicles. There were a total of 183,298 crashes, costing an estimated $20.62 billion.

I was also going to post many other stats regarding the alcohol, but this post is going to be long enough and you can do your own homework. The fact is there are serious social issues related to alcohol. 53 % say that one or more close relative(s) has a drinking problem. The leading cause of death among youth are, alcohol related accidents. Binge drinking starts under the age of 21. Alcohol is a leading contributor to violence and most homicides in our society. Males drink more often, more heavily, and consume more beer and spirits than females.  Moreover, the nature of the link between alcohol consumption and violence is more readily a male experience, for example, drinking heavily in bar settings leads to aggression and violence. Alcohol is involved in a high percentage of sex related crimes, sexual assaults, robberies and domestic violence…

Without a question we have a clear problem with alcohol in our culture.

In our church community we have many different people from many different backgrounds. Some believe strongly that Christians should not consume alcohol and for others this is just not an issue.

 What do the scriptures have to say regarding these issues. What does the bible say about alcohol? Is it a sin? Can you be a Christian and still drink? What about getting drunk?

 Psalm 104 -describes the great things GOD has done and what he makes…but verse 15 is interesting.

Psalm 104 1 Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.2 He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent ….14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—     bringing forth food from the earth: 15 wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

God was the original creator of food from the earth, wine and alcohol, and intended it to be something good and to bring joy into our lives. But just like everything else on this planet we find a way to mess things up. Just like alcohol leads to drunkenness, eating food is a good thing but too much of it is gluttony and that is a bad thing. Just like sexuality expressed within the bonds of marriage is a beautiful thing, a very good thing, but sexuality outside of marriage is a hurtful thing, adultery, fornication and immorality, that is not good.

 So, when it comes to Christians and alcohol many times we fail to understand the difference between drinking and drunkenness and we see something that is abused and rather than seeing something is a gift from GOD to be enjoyed within the boundaries (like sexuality) that GOD has set. So, we see people losing control and doing wrong things and we want to stop it so we try to control it and prohibit its use all together.

Are we willing to say anything is beyond redemption? The church is to be a redemptive community. We live not only the experience of redemption (I'm redeemed/being redeemed) but also the works of redemption (I'm redeeming). That's why our mission is both words and works, speaking and doing redemption. And if we are working out our salvation through being redeemed and redeeming, then our response to cultural abuses is not to abstain but to redeem. That not only pushes us to maturity by teaching us how to eat, drink, and have sex to the glory of God (though it won't come easy), but it is also a witness to the world that God redeems.

The pervert throws away the pornography (abuse) and learns to love sex with his wife (redemption). 

The glutton hittin’ up the all-you-can eat buffet 3 times a day (abuse) and learns to order a salad with light dressing instead (redemption). 

The alcohol abuser stops drinking until drunk (abuse) and learns to stop enjoy a beer or a glass of wine as from God’s bounty (redemption).

As long as we make the issue abstaining, or retracting from culture, we will miss expressing and embodying redemption.  And I'm afraid the message we will send is that good things can be perverted beyond redemption. 

Martin Luther said:“We must not…reject [or] condemn anything because it is abused. This would result in utter confusion. God has commanded us in Deut. 4 not to lift up our eyes to the sun (and the moon and the stars), etc., that we may not worship them, for they are created to serve all nations. But there are many people who worship the sun and the stars. Therefore we propose to rush in and pull the sun and stars from the skies. No, we had better let it be. Again, wine and women bring many a man to misery and make a fool of him; so we kill all the women and pour out all the wine. Again, gold and silver cause much evil, so we condemn them.

Prohibition did not stop the abuse and then there are others on the other side who don’t see the spiritual side of the issue either. And they allow their ability to drink to be an excuse to over indulge or they have no character or self control and they abuse what GOD has given to be a gift to be enjoyed and GOD is very clear that this is sin.

 Ephesians 5:18 You are not to get drunk, drinking is not forbidden, getting drunk is, it is a sin. The first occurrence of drunkenness in the bible found with Noah. There are certain sins that associated with getting drunk. We see it all the time at the bars, night clubs…even house parties where drunkenness occurs and there are one night stands, fights and violence. In Genesis 19 you can study about Lot and his two daughters who get Lot loaded and have sex with their father. We think that people are crazy today…well, 1000’s of years ago alcohol abuse and sin go hand and hand and throughout the bible drunkenness and drunks are talk about in a negative manner.

Throughout scripture, drunkenness is a sin and there are consequences to sin. Besides sexuality, alcohol abuse can affect your finances. Proverb 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich. Alcohol abuse affects our physical health and emotions. Proverbs 23:29

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? (ever see drunks fight?)Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

Alcohol abuse will take over your life and it will destroy the work of GOD in your life is you are not careful. Isa 5:11  11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. 12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands.

There is a judgment pronounced on those who get up early and drink and those who party into the night. Proverbs 23 says:20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, 21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. Booze and work don’t go together. Add to the fact that wino’s are not wearing Armani, are they?

Proverbs 23 continues… 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 2 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 3 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 5 "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt!  They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?" HOW TRUE this is!

So, as you can tell Scripture contains many warnings regarding the drinking of alcohol. However, a careful study of Scripture does not necessarily forbid a Christian from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. In fact, some Scriptures discuss alcohol in positive terms. Ecclesiastes 9:7 instructs “drink wine with a merry heart.” Amos 9:14 discusses drinking wine from your own vineyard as a sign of God’s blessing. Isaiah 55:11 encourages “yes, come buy wine and milk…”

What God commands Christians regarding alcohol is to avoid drunkenness. The Bible condemns drunkenness and its effects
(Proverbs 23:29-35). Christians are also commanded to not allow their bodies to be “mastered” by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). Drinking alcohol in excess is undeniably addictive. Scripture also forbids a Christian from doing anything that might offend other Christians or might encourage them to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).

When we look at the New Testament we see the very first miracle Jesus did was to turn water in wine...not grape juice, flavored water or MiO. Jesus drank wine on occasion (John 2:1-11; Matthew 26:29). In New Testament times, the water was not very clean as a result, people often drank wine because it was far less likely to be contaminated. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Alcohol is prescribed by Paul to Timothy to stop drinking the water (which was probably causing his stomach problems) and instead drink wine. In that day, wine was fermented (containing alcohol). In fact, some doctors today advocate drinking small amounts of red wine for its health benefits, especially for the heart. Consumption of small quantities of alcohol is a matter of Christian freedom. Alcohol is not, in and of itself, tainted by sin. It is, rather, drunkenness and addiction to alcohol that a Christian must absolutely refrain from.

I think that one of the biggest problems when it comes to understanding issues like this is that we misunderstand the scriptures. Why do some teach/believe that it is wrong to drink? Simply, it is a misunderstanding of scripture. Many people believe things about the scriptures that just are not true. It is like saying… “well Gerry, when GOD said wine, he didn’t mean wine.” OK, so when what did GOD mean when he said Hell or salvation or you are healed? What he was saying was “Naw, Just kidding, I didn’t mean that!” We cannot just pick and choose words that we are comfortable with. In Numbers 6 there is a specific term there used for grape juice as well as wine.

 In John 2 Jesus turns the water into wine. Some people have told me that “the wine was watered down and diluted, it wasn’t real wine.” Listen, you insult our intelligence when you say that.  You do not find that in scripture…as a matter of fact people tend to add things to the bible here….we are warned not to do that…in Revelation 22:18. Also, why would Jesus be accused of being a drunkard according to Matthew 11:18-19? He had to be drinking something here, and is was not watered down…and Jesus was not drunk. Let’s not add anything to scripture that is not there.

Here me clearly! Some people should not drink alcohol! I have seen first hand the devastation that alcohol has on people’s lives. Many people from my own community have horror stories of addiction. Many in our community are addicts, or have grown up with families where alcohol has destroyed their family. They have seen first-hand horrors and dangers associated with it. Many have grown up with the attitude that they never want to associate with it or touch it and that is a perfect response! Some of us are genetically predisposed to alcohol and because of that, we must avoid it. Some of us have grown up with the idea that we don’t even want to touch it and that is ok.

Some of you are thrilled that I am writing this post as it appears to be against alcohol. Sadly legalism is far more rampant in the church than alcoholism. But, imagine if we started to abolish everything that controlled lives? What about coffee or shopping or sports?  What about gluttony?

In 2012, 18.4% of Canadians aged 18 and older, roughly 4.7 million adults, were classified as obese.  The rate of obesity among men rose from 16.0% in 2003 to 19.0% in 2009, and has remained stable from 2009 to 2012.  Among women, the rate rose from 14.5% in 2003 to 16.7% in 2009, and then remained stable from 2009 to 2011.  In 2012, the rate of obesity for women increased to 18.0%

Maybe I need to preach against food? If you struggle with weight and you think that I am insensitive I am not…I believe that it can also be a spiritual issue. We talk about the alcohol related deaths in society, well the obesity related death are higher. How come the church does not talk about that? The church is the only place where a glutton can look at a drunkard and somehow feel more righteous than them!

I read this week that 76% of pastors are either overweight or obese! Uh…that’s a sin…just as much as being a drunk! Pastors–the hypocrisy MUST be stopped.  How dare we call those who are using alcohol to get to the grave, to repentance and ignore those who are digging their way there with a fork and a spoon!

Proverbs 20 1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Some are in trouble one step away from a serious problem. Some are alcoholics and can’t stop drinking; it is ruining your life. One day if you keep it up it will take your life, listen, you need to stop. Be honest with yourself, with a trusted friend, GO to AA, talk to your spouse, get some accountability partners. Have your small group pray for you, but do everything you can to stop before it kills you. Listen, not only are you going to destroy yourself but you will dishonor your family and GOD calls it a sin.

1 Corinthians 6:99Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.Yet it Goes on to say 12"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything.

 For some alcohol has you mastered and you need some help. You are you are not an alcoholic but you mishandle it…you flirt with danger not just for yourself but others as well.  Listen to this warning:

Gal 5:13 13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[a]; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

“Well Gerry, Alcohol is a stumbling block.” What is the true stumbling block is my question?

Romans 14:Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

 “Well Gerry, so we cause people to stumble by drinking?” Many people, (especially young adults with newly found freedom away from their parents) teens and young adults, go off to university and college and are exposed to new things and there are going to be more ways and opportunities for them to drink then they ever had in their life. The temptations are overwhelming and mom and dad are not around to help guide. A study done by Harvard reported that almost half of the student body participated in binge drinking.

So, you are a believer and as a believer you realize that you are free in Christ…you are proud of that. And so because you are free you feel that you drink. And so that is what you do, you practice your freedom and you proudly drink in front of people. I want to add that many times people end up drinking in front of those that we should not be doing that with.  In every community, there are people who are recovering alcoholics and addicts and they cannot handle it and they are in a battle with their addictions and for you to drink in front of them and proclaim that you are free in Christ to do so makes you nothing more than an arrogant idiot who is self focused and self centered. Told you people were going to get mad.

 “Well Gerry, it is my house and I can drink what I want” Sure it is and yes you can, but for you to have people over who struggle with it, for you to drink in front of them, makes you a stumbling block. That is wrong and a sin. People we must be aware of our environment and situations, and if there is someone in the room who struggles, do not participate in front of them. I do not care how much you proclaim to be free in Christ.

 Many young adults flaunt their freedom in Christ, unfortunately they parade it like some right, but are causing others to stumble and sin and you should not do it. Be aware of our situations in which we enjoy our freedom in Christ.

 True story: a bunch of young adults at a wedding and they all were having a glass of wine, because they are free in Christ to do so…but at that table was someone who is an alcoholic and they knew it! BUT they drank in front of him and so what happened…the alcoholic could not say no and began to participate as well….that is so stupid.

 What troubles me as well is some will read this blog and think in a cocky sort of way… “it is not a sin to drink we can have some.” Remember;

 Romans 13;1   1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

As followers of Christ we must submit to the governing authorities. If you are drinking and you are under the age of 18 it is wrong. Some of you are saying,  “when I get 18 I am going out and getting hammered…” If your only motivation for turning 18 is going to drunk …then GOD help you, you have missed the whole point of this post. Teens and alcohol are never a controlled environment.

 Remember people, what I do or do not does not make us righteous…it is Jesus who is the way the truth or life…and makes us righteous, and he also sets us free..

Collosians 2:16-19  -  16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Do not be judged by what you eat or drink…if we focus on issues more than Jesus then we lost our connection with Jesus…The bible doesn’t not forbid a glass of wine with your meal…it says don’t get drunk.  Scripture is very clear that it not wrong for a person to drink…it is wrong for a person to get drunk. I know some disagree with that…and that’s fine.  There are godly people on both sides of the argument who I greatly admire and respect. If your conscious tells you it is wrong you do not need to do it..hey, that is ok.. but some of you need to quit… you have the liberty to choose in this area but it is quite possible that it has a hold on you. Can you give it up for a month?  Not all believers should drink!

I respect and support anyone who feels led or has chosen, or must (addictive issues) abstain from alcohol. Abstain to the glory of God. However, I do not respect any thought or movement that uses extra-biblical preference as a bully pulpit for all to abstain. If you choose to consume alcohol, remember that there are times when you should abstain out of discipline, safety, respect, and deference to others. Do all things with love in mind. I close with this Scripture: “So whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER you do, do ALL for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

 

Now a NOTE to my fellowship regarding this matter.

I am of the opinion we need to have a discussion with credential holders in each district. Then each district present its findings to the General Executive to come up with a “grass roots” understanding of how we as a fellowship should approach this issue in a biblical and practical way. I believe that we as a fellowship need to have a substance abuse policy and we must deal with what we will do once the legalization of marijuana happens in our country.

Finally, a simple suggestion is when one is applying for credentials that there would be a simple question of one’s view of alcohol consumption. One can choose Abstention or Moderation. If Moderation is chosen, then it is up to the district representatives to follow up personally with each person in that category…I call that accountability! 

To Lent or Not to Lent, that is the question!

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Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I never experienced this thing called Lent. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until I was in university that I began to pick up on this “thing” that a few of my catholic friends would mention. I would hear some guys ask each other “What are you giving up for Lent?” and one would respond “Homework,” or “Obeying traffic laws.” I just viewed that Lent was one of those peculiar practices demanded of Roman Catholics, thus another great reason to be Protestant. I never thought that Lent was something I might actually be interested in.

 

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It really wasn't until we started Soul Sanctuary that I seriously discovered that Lent is in fact recognized by millions of Protestant Christians and it begins before Ash Wednesday. The word Lent comes from the Middle English word for “spring.” It is a six-week season in the Christian year prior to Easter. Technically, Lent comprises the 40 days before Easter, not counting the Sundays, or 46 days in total.

 

In the ancient church, Lent was a time for new converts to be instructed for baptism and for believers caught in sin to focus on repentance. Eventually, believers came to see Lent as a season to be reminded of their need for penitence and to prepare spiritually for the celebration of Easter. Part of the preparation involved this thing called “fasting.” Many believers decided that they were going to give something special up during the six weeks of Lent and focus more on following GOD. 

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Historically, many Protestants rejected the practice of Lent, pointing out, that it was nowhere required in Scripture, which is true…but neither is celebrating Christmas or Easter the way we do! But also, some Protestants wanted to avoid some of the excessive aspects of Catholic penitence that tended to obscure the gospel of grace. Now I need to add that if you think of Lent as a tradition to earn God’s favor by your good intentions or good works, then you’ve got a theological problem! God’s grace has been fully given to us in Christ. We can’t earn it by doing extra things or by giving up certain other things in fasting. If you see Lent as a time to make yourself more worthy for celebrating BAD Friday and Easter, then perhaps you shouldn’t keep the season until you’ve grown in your understanding of grace. Some segments of Protestantism saw Lent as a season to do something extra for God, not to give something up. What we all must do is see Lent as a time to grow more deeply in God’s grace.

 

After ignoring Lent for the majority of my life, I’ve paid more attention to it during the few years. Sometimes I’ve given up something, in order to devote more time to Bible study, meditation and prayer. Once I added extra devotional reading to my regular spiritual disciplines. I can honestly say that I haven’t had any mystical experiences during Lent, but I have found that fasting from something has helped me focus on God. It has also helped me to look ahead to BAD Friday and Easter, thus appreciating more deeply the meaning of the cross and the victory of the resurrection.

 

We need to remember that Lent is not a requirement for Christians. Dallas Willard has said that if a certain spiritual discipline helps you grow in God’s grace, then by all means do it. But if it doesn’t, don’t feel like you must do it! That is refreshing and freeing! I would say the same thing about Lent. If it helps you prepare for a deeper celebration of BAD Friday and Easter, if it allows you to grow in God’s grace, then by all means keep it. If Lent isn’t your cup of tea, then don’t feel obligated to keep it. Just be aware that millions of Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Independent) have found that recognizing the season of Lent enriches our worship and deepens our faith in God.

 

“So, Do I have to give up something for Lent?” In university some of my Catholic friends chose to give up decent food or drink during Lent and this always seemed to me to be one more good reason to be a Protestant!

 

Now, there are those in the realm of Christendom tend not to emphasize Lenten fasting. Partly this had to do with the conscious rejection of Roman Catholic practices that were not clearly based on Scripture. But let me add that the practice of observing Lent is not prohibited in Scripture. But it isn’t taught there either. One can be a faithful, biblical Christian and never recognize Lent. Historically, there were some Christians who wanted to make the season before Easter special in some way, chose instead to add a spiritual discipline to their lives as a way of preparing for Easter. It’s quite common today for churches that don’t have midweek Bible studies, for example, to offer a Lenten Wednesday Evening Study or something like this.

 

The fact is fasting still plays a prominent role in Lenten practices of many Christians across the denominational and theological spectrum. Throughout church history there have been different kinds of fasts.

 

In the Middle Ages it was common for Christians to give up certain sorts of food, like meat and/or dairy products, for example. This explains why some Catholics abstained from meat on the Fridays of Lent. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lenten fast is taken even more seriously than in the Roman Catholic church, with many Orthodox folk eating vegetarian meals during the season, (Yeah, that’s not going to happen here!).

 

As I said earlier, in recent years I have sometimes given up something in Lent, this year I haven’t decided what I will do. I may give something up, I may not….But if you decided that you want to give up something and fast during this season understand that when you are giving up something, it is as if you are making a tangible “sacrifice” to the Lord. The act of sacrifice should remind us of our commitment to God and our desire to make Him first in our lives.

 

Let me add, that when you give up something that you usually enjoy on a daily basis, chances are that you will find yourself yearning for that very thing. You will be tempted to give up your fast at times and you could easily argue that it’s unnecessary, because it is optional, after all and certainly not taught in Scripture. But, though I don’t think my effort at fasting makes God love or bless me more, I do think it raises my awareness of how much I depend on other things in life rather than GOD.

 

When I fast, I see how easy it is for me to set up all sorts of little idols in my life. Fasting, in some way, helps me surrender my idols to God. During my fast, and I feel a desire for that thing in which I surrendered, I’m reminded of my neediness as a person. And neediness, I believe, is at the heart of true spirituality. Jesus said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . .
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:3,6 filled.”  

 

Of course feeling hungry or craving for one of life’s pleasures like chocolate, coffee even alcohol, or watching your favorite TV show isn’t quite the same as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. But when I feel my hunger, when I sense my neediness for some other thing, I can use this to get in touch with my hunger and need for God.

So, as we enter the season of Lent, I am grateful for the saints who have gone before me, some of whom discovered the blessings of giving up something in Lent, while others grew in their faith by adding a discipline and also those who continued faithfully in their walk with Christ. No matter what you do during this Lenten season, I pray that God will draw you closer to Him, and prepare you for a fresh experience of BAD Friday and Easter. May God’s peace be with You!

Ecclesiastical Secret Police

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It never fails that people involved in any type of leadership always become the target of other people for one reason or another. Unfortunately, we find these types of people in the church; they are a type of self proclaimed keepers of 'religious truth', however I call these folks, who are usually anonymous, the “Ecclesiastical Secret Police.” Other people have kinder definitions for these types of people, like “Internet trolls.” Now, these trolls, under the banner of being a “christian” attempt to sow discord on the internet by starting arguments, presenting half truths, taking things out of context, or simply trying to upset people by either posting or emailing inflammatory messages or accusations, the majority of these under the cover of anonymity.   

 The Ecclesiastical Secret Police never realize that their means of communication has been equated with something called “online harassment.” Even the media has used the word "Troll" to describe a person who uses the internet with the intent to cause grief.

I genuinely like people and even those who take a little more intestinal fortitude to like; I can still find room of tolerance within my own constitution. However, there is a certain type of ‘christian’ that I truly don't like. I wish I could tell you that I like all Christians, but that would be a lie…because I don’t.

You see, there is a type of Christian out there that I just simply want to avoid. They are the self righteous, hyper critical, narrow minded, holier than thou, so called “Christian” who operates in the realm of anonymity and perceived care as “one brother to another.”

These folks love to send letters, emails, and even post on the internet behind a veil. These people tend point out fault and error and usually criticize other believers (including believers they have never talked with in person) all the while hiding behind their veil of anonymity.

Shame on those who cannot be honest and place a real name to a letter, or a real email address to a post. Shame on those who deceive people and use false names or no names and call themselves Christians and criticize other believers.

Scripture is full of references about speaking truthfully to one another. It is simply sad that the Ecclesiastical Secret Police really do not know their Bible or even how to live life according to the scriptures. They themselves break the simplest of Jesus’ commands stated in Matthew 18:15: "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over."

Shame on the Ecclesiastical Secret Police for "You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. Selah." (Psalm 52:3) "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." (Ephesians 4:25)

The world has seen its fair share of different secret police organizations and the damage that they inflict on the community in which they insert themselves. This does not and should not happen in the church… yet Jesus himself did warn of those in Matthew 7:15 who are wolves in sheep clothing. Thus being an ESP is unchristian and needs to be repented of… Just saying! 

Homage to a Trailblazer

It has been a while since I last shared my thoughts on this blog. I was going to post my thoughts on Christmas….naw! Then I thought I would post on the approaching of the New Year and things like resolutions…..naw! Then I thought I would post on beginning the New year with a bang, then a phone call came my way. Do you ever get those phone calls that make you think to yourself “Self, there is something not right here!"?

That’s how it started for me on Saturday night. I got a call and I knew something was up. It was my brother from Victoria calling to inform me that he had resigned his position of Senior Pastor at his church in Glad Tidings, Victoria after 25 years of committed service. My initial thoughts were asked "why?" Then, I have to admit that I was filled with a weight of emotion and tears came to my eyes! Why so emotional? I am not sure.

A flood of memories zipped through my head as I listened to my big brother tell me that he was stepping aside. Here is my big brother, who I always looked up to, yet I knew that I drove him crazy when I was younger and especially when we worked together. But here is a man that I admire. In my life as a minister, there are three people that I hold responsible for the person who I am. The first was Mark MacKnight who took the risk of bringing on a live wire of a kid to assist him at Calvary Temple in youth ministry. The second was Pastor HH Barber of Calvary Temple, who gave Mark the blessing to hire me and subsequently put up with my antics as a staff member of his church on two separate occasions. The third is my brother, Ron.  Ron took the risk to hire his own flesh and blood (not that he would always admit that) and allowed this guy to “cut his teeth” underneath his care and guidance. He put up with broken drywall, chairs, musical equipment, load music pouring out of my office, water-balloons, egg tosses in the church, sardines (of various type), pellet guns, crazy hair cuts and a young gun always pushing for change….

Under all that duress he kept his composure on the exterior, yet somehow I feel that inside he truly wanted to strangle me. The only thing that saved me was that Ron knew that if he laid a hand on me, that he would be in trouble from Mom!  Yet as I reflect of our time that we served together and the numerous times where I would call and ask for advice, especially when we started Soul Sanctuary, he would always take the time and listen to me spout. Ron taught me to love people, and stand strong in this world in which we live and this community in which we serve. I have seen and still see many people whose life he touched, and I am one of them. I would always get a word of encouragement from him and I appreciated how he respected my decisions, supported my passion and would always bring me down to earth when I started flying off course.  All this to say, to my big brother and mentor: may GOD continue to use you in this new adventure of life that you are entering and may what ever you decide to do be blessed! Oh, by the way, I will continue to call and ask for advice, and maybe one day you can work for me!

 

Building Update - Giving

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In the last ten years I have never been as excited and challenged as I am about the opportunity which I believe God has placed before us today.

As we approach this strategic time, we are positioned as a church in one of the fastest growing areas of Winnipeg. In terms of population, location, visibility, property, and potential, God has given us an incredible opportunity. He has set before us a great and open door, and we have taken the opportunity to build. 

The Soul Sanctuary building fund exemplifies our willingness to be challenged as ordinary people and allow God to do extraordinary things through us. He has chosen to allow us the privilege and responsibility of seeing lives in our community changed - transformed by grace offered through Christ!

What is My Part?

I am writing to you today because the cost of building a permanent facility for our church family is too great for only a few to carry. We must each contribute and give our part, with generosity, towards a purpose greater than ourselves. While we cannot all give the same amount, we can all make the same sacrifice. In this way, everyone who calls Soul Sanctuary their church home can have a part. 

The end of the year is soon upon us and many people and businesses are waiting to see where they will be topping up their donations. I am asking if you would be willing to be able to give over and above your normal contribution in support of the building fund? 

For some, a “sacrificial” gift over the next year may be possible. Whether it is $100, $1,000, or for others, $100,000 or even more, the important thing is not the amount, but our willingness to be obedient in response to God’s challenge. Ask God to lead you, and trust that He will impress the right amount upon your heart. 

This is Your Opportunity

This is your opportunity to make a difference with your money and to do something significant that will outlast your life and leave a legacy for future generations. I am asking that you, your friends and your family would join us to be part of the miracle of Soul Sanctuary, to join us in seeing changed lives. The Soul Sanctuary building fund is your opportunity to invest in God’s Kingdom, in the task of telling people how Jesus can change their lives. It deserves our best.

I thank God for the privilege of serving at Soul Sanctuary alongside you. I am praying for God’s blessings upon you, and all who call Soul their church home. Together He will guide and direct all of us as we prepare the way. 

Donations can be made online at www.soulsanctuary.ca/give-money or mailed to: 

Soul Sanctuary
180 Henlow Bay
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3Y 1G4
 

Sincerely,

Gerry Michalski

Soul Sanctuary Pornsunday Aftermath Parent Seminar Notes

Did you miss the meeting? Here are some of our notes…. 

Welcome:

Deuteronomy 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

As parents internet safety takes both talking and technology. We are all familiar with the stats that have been shared over the week and from last Sunday. The fact is that technology offers wonderful ways of socializing, but it comes with certain risks.

As parents there are basically 3 things that we need to be concerned about when it comes to technology and our kids.

The first is Inappropriate Content. Children can be exposed to pornography, profanity, violence, hate, and lately, as we see in the news rising incidences of self-harm and suicide.

There is also inappropriate contact. The Internet and mobile phones put your children within easy reach of sexual predators, sexual communication from peers, bullies, and yes, those dreaded scammers.

Finally there is inappropriate conduct. Only online is there a perception of anonymity which can encourage behavior such as sexual interactions, profanity, bullying, or sharing private information.

As parents we have to understand that our children, as well as us, can develop unhealthy internet habits. There are markers that we need to be aware of such as too much time online and less time with healthy physical activities and real relationships. If they are distracted from homework (really?) or say they are always doing homework on the computer!!! Add to that late nights and them complaining of fatigue(although teens need a lot of sleep), not too mention an obsession with their online image! (Selfies)

We want to take this time to encourage you, the parent to protect your children and here are 3 easy steps:

1. Use technology to filter and monitor digital devices. Just as we teach teens who are learning to drive to buckle up first to minimize potential injury, parental control software can prevent or minimize exposure to harmful content. You can get accountability software for your computer, Ipod, Iphone and android off of www.covenanteyes.com as well as off www.xxxchurch.com  

2: You are the parent and therefore you must establish rules for Internet, video games, and mobile phone use. Some people even encourage members of the family to sign a family media pledge! Just as drivers cannot receive a license until they pass a test of the rules of the road, we should be just as careful about teaching children rules for safely navigating the digital highway.

Here are some simple rules that you can use to help define internet use:

— Who? Do you know WHO your children are connecting with with? You need to!

— What type of behavior is expected when it comes to online use on postings/interaction? Have you taught your kids kindness, honesty, and to discere caution with all their interaction?

— When? As a parent you can control much of the use of technology in your home. HAVE RULES,  just has you do with homework, also have family meeting with open discussion and incorporate a family dinner time…eating together is something that is missing from our culture and around the table, great and honest discussions can take place.

— Where?  Just as the school has restrictions on technology use, so should your child when they are with friends, as well as where they are in the home.

— The Why?  Identify a purpose for technology use. Try to curb aimless surfing, which can lead to trouble areas!

— How? This is where you educate yourself and your children with what devices, websites, apps they can use safely!

3: Talk continually with your children. A new driver becomes more capable as they continue to get instruction as they take the wheel. It is critical that we keep talking with kids as they grow and have new experiences with technology. In our meeting one parent said it was easier to talk about drug abuse then sexuality. We MUST have the tough talk…and keep talking about it. It is who we are and how we are created!

We know that porn use thrives among young people because it’s widespread, easily accessible, difficult to talk about, and there are not many resources to help parents. Of all the risks online, pornography is the most widespread and damaging threat.

“The pornography industry is targeting your child through online games, advertisements, videos, and so much more. If they can get a child hooked young, they potentially have a lifelong client. Unfortunately, if you don’t educate your kids about pornography, the porn industry will.” Fight the New Drug

Fight the New Drug asked teens what they wish their parents knew about addressing the issue of pornography:

“I wish they told me that it exists. That would have been helpful. My parents never even informed me of it.”

“I wish my parents would have talked to me at a younger age (even 8 years old) about sexuality and that porn is wrong.”

“I wish my parents understood that shaming me only led me to hide it.”

In order for us to protect our kids it is essential to talk to them about the potential threats. When children want important information, most rely on their parents for help on the issues that matter most.

As Parents, there are 4 important things to talk about with your children:

1. Talk about what pornography is

2. Explain why it is so dangerous

3. Practice what to do if they see it (HAVE A PLAN PEOPLE…WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?)

4. Encourage them for speaking up

WHY DO YOU NEED TO START THE CONVERSATION? When do you teach your child to stay out of the street? Before or after they have been hit by a car? In the same way, children need to be taught to recognize and avoid pornography before they encounter it and experience disturbing consequences. Many children are exposed to pornography between 8 and 11.  Images can stick with children and create distorted expectations of sexuality and relationships. Children who see pornography can get trapped in shame, secrecy, and denial – the drivers of addiction.

Do you have a definition for pornography? Pornography, according to the dictionary definition, is sexually explicit pictures, videos, writing, and other materials. OR Porn is the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. OR the material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement. OR the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.

The word “Pornography” is rooted in the Greek word porneia, which means to practice prostitution, sexual immorality, or fornication. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul frequently used the word in reference to any kind of sinful and illegitimate sexual activity. Here are two very helpful definitions of Pornography written from a biblical perspective:

“Pornography is anything we use for sexual titillation, gratification or escape – whether it was intended for that purpose or not.” Tim Chester Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free

“Pornography is anything that the heart uses to find sexual expression outside of GOD’s intended design for relational intimacy. It is anything that tempts or corrupts the human heart into desiring sexual pleasure in sinful ways.” Living In a “Porn is the Norm” Culture (harvestUSA.org)

Children who are prepared by you the parent will be able to react to pornography by thinking, “My parents told me about this and why it is wrong. I know what to do – I will get away from this and talk to my parents.”

There is no doubt that many young people are viewing pornography. Studies have shown that by the time children reach their teens, 32% intentionally look for pornography online. By college, 85% of young men and 1/3 of young women are viewing pornography.

A child who has been warned about pornography could be more comfortable turning parents for help. Otherwise, a child may think that their parents do not know anything about it, or may not have the words to explain what they have seen. If it is hard for us talk about it, how can we expect our children to have the courage to bring it up? If there is to be any discussion about pornography, we have to start it.

Naturally, most parents hesitate to talk to children about pornography. These are some common feelings:

Being uncomfortable discussing sexual issues with our children.

Thinking our children are not at risk because we feel have controlled their environment by carefully setting up internet filters and safety rules.

Believing our children would naturally know it is wrong and reject it.

Thinking it is normal for youth to be interested in sex and bodies, and not understanding the deviant and harmful nature of today’s pornography.

Being concerned that talking about it will make children curious and cause them to go look for it.

Creating curiosity is often the biggest worry parents express. But we have to recognize that we can’t control when children will encounter pornography and avoiding this subject leaves children unprepared and vulnerable. We don’t want to give kids just enough information to create curiosity without all the knowledge they need to be completely prepared. Children need to thoroughly understand why it is harmful, how to avoid it, and what to do if they see it.

Be up front with your child about your concerns. You could say, “I worry that if you hear about pornography, you might want to see what we are talking about. It is natural for kids to be curious and want to find out about things, but the reason I am talking to you is because pornography is very harmful, and I want you to be prepared to avoid it anytime, anywhere.”

Explain the difference between healthy sexual relationships and harmful sexual abuses such as pornography, adapted to the age and personality of your child. A good way to help them recognize harmful media is to talk about the way bodies, relationships, and sexuality are represented in the media. Encourage questions and answer them openly so that children will come to you to find answers.

So, when should you start the conversation? Probably, earlier than you think. Any child old enough to go to a friend’s house, play with a cell phone, or use a video game needs to be learning age-appropriate concepts about avoiding pornography. You don’t know how much time you have before this confronts your child. Every time you talk, you are helping your child be safer.

There may be some awkwardness at the beginning, but as you make it a regular discussion, it will get easier.

For young children, start with what the child already knows. You could say,

“We have talked about wearing clothes outside and getting dressed in private,” Then you can talk about how pictures or videos of people who aren’t fully dressed don't show respect for modesty and privacy.  When you teach children about good touch/bad touch, tell them that these rules apply to what we see as well as what we do. If they see pictures or videos of people breaking the good touch/bad touch rules, they need to get away and talk to a parent ASAP.

If you have teens and are just starting to talk about this now, it is never too late! Most of us have done a better job talking about sex than our parents did – but we really need to step up to face the challenges our kids have today. Admitting your discomfort up front goes a long way to opening up a conversation. You could say, “It may be awkward to talk about this but it is better than not talking at all,” or “I’m not an expert on this subject, but we can learn to be smart online together.” Or “I wish I had done a better job of talking to you about this in the past, but it’s not too late to start now.”

For teens, you can explain that pornography is media that clearly and openly shows or describes nudity or sexual activities and is intended to arouse sexual feelings. It can be online, or in video games, movies, photos, music, magazines, and books. Help them understand that it can be in any of these forms and more.

Now, when bringing up this topic with kids, they may react with DISGUST because they are embarrassed or uncomfortable; DEFENSIVENESS because they are currently dealing with a pornography problem or they feel accused of something they are not guilty of. Or SILENCE because they may not know how to react. They may open up with HONESTY - If your child is struggling with pornography use and is able to open up to you, be sure to offer support and love rather than disappointment or punishment. No matter how they react, that’s okay. Be patient. Most likely, they are listening to what you say. They may need time to think about what you have said.

Keep calm.

Reacting without judgment is essential. You are teaching vital information and opening lines of communication. Starting the conversation gives them permission to come to you when they have questions.

Here are some harmful effects of using porn that your kids need to know. They will want to know why they shouldn't view it…here is why…

1. Children experience distress and anxiety when exposed.

2. Porn changes the way we view other people and eventually the way we treat others.

3. Porn damages relationships – our most important source of happiness.

4. Pornography does not show real, loving relationships. It is not a good source to learn about sexuality.

5. porn increases feelings of isolation, secrecy, shame, loss of self-confidence. It creates loneliness, not love and friendship.

6. Porn dissociates sex from emotional involvement.

7. Porn creates unhealthy, even violent and abusive, expectations of sexuality.

8. Porn gives unrealistic expectations of bodies, creates negative body image of self and others.

9. porn can lead to casual, risky, illegal, or even criminal sexual behavior.

10. The Physical effects – porn changes in brain function, even impairs sexual performance.

11. Porn often leads to searching for more deviant content over time.

12. Porn leads to the potential for compulsive or addictive sexual behavior. People who are addicted cannot stop looking for pornography even when they want to quit, and they need to get help from counselors. Pornography actually changes your brain, in similar ways to abusing drugs. As you prepare to have these conversations, it helps to understand the science behind pornography addiction.

Attempt to teach children to talk to you within 10 minutes or as soon as they can if they see these things you have been talking about, or things that don’t seem right. Tell them that pornography can make them worry or feel bad even though it may seem interesting at the same time. But telling a trusted adult will help them let it go and feel better. Practice what they could say to you, such as: “Mom, I’m doing homework on the computer and some things just popped up.” Of course, be clear that it is never too late for them to talk to you about something from the past.

Remember to water what you want to grow. When kids talk to you about their experiences, encourage and don't shame them for speaking up and they will be more likely to remember to keep safe and keep talking to you! Be a safe place!

SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM?

1. Pornography found on devices

2. Increased pop-ups, spam messages, viruses, or other inappropriate content

3. Distressed when someone comes in while they are on the computer, quickly minimizing the screen or turning off the computer

4. Erasing the internet browser history, resisting checkups on devices

5. More time spent on devices

6. More time spent at friend’s home that may have access

7. More time spent alone, withdrawing from friends and family, more secretive

8. Staying up late at night, fatigue

9. Decreased concentration

10. Unusual curiosity about sexuality, premature sexual activity

11. Use of suggestive or sexual terms, irreverent comments about sexuality

12. Suddenly dressing more provocatively

13. Increased moodiness, irritability, aggression, disrespect, lying, defensiveness

14. Lower self-confidence, depression

15. Resistant to attending religious meetings (Seriously – this leads to a whole other conversation about the importance of youth groups, life groups and Sunday morning experiences)

What to do if your child is viewing pornography:

Breathe. React calmly and communicate your concern. Recognize your child has been caught in a trap and needs your support. Overreacting, judging, or strict punishment can add fuel to the fire of rebellion and shame.

Listen. Help your child feel understood. Ask questions that can help you help your child, such as “When did this start? Where do you most often use pornography? What can I do to help you stop?”

Validate. Express appreciation that they talked with you, recognizing that it isn’t easy. Tell them you love them no matter what. Tell them you know there are many teens dealing with this problem.

Help. Ask them what they plan to do, and help them set goals and be accountable. Commit to a long-term conversation about their progress, with regular checkups and continuing education on the issue. If they are not ready to admit their problem yet, don’t give up; be patient but continue the conversation over time.

Get outside help if needed. Most people who become addicted will need additional help including counseling, group support such as 12-Step programs, and support from others such as church leaders, accountability partners, family, and friends.

Pray…that is a big one!

May GOD place a hedge of protection around you and your family and give you wisdom to raise your children in this day and age!

Deuteronomy 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Parents and Porn

Parents and Porn

Pornsunday Reflections

It started out in a simple meeting of the staff attempting to plan a series for the month of November. Then one staff member mentioned that we needed to do a ‘pornsunday’ again. I instantly recalled what happen years back when we brought in Craig Gross from xxxchurch.com and he made the TV and radio news here in Winnipeg. That Sunday, as he shared amidst the cameras and people he struck a cord in the heart of many a believer and nonbeliever. Later that day we screened the documentary “Missionary Position” and I remember that even my parents came out to view it!!!! It was one of those moments as a pastor where you did not know how this was going to end up…

Now, we find ourselves again discussing the very same issue under the topic of Sex, Hugs and Lonely Souls. What we planned as a panel addressing the issue of pornography has escalated for the need to answer all the questions that we received in an adequate fashion, yes now a Pornsunday2. Our presenters were Dr. Syras Derksen a clinical psychologist and Raena Peters, the Director of Living Waters here in Winnipeg and Pastor Joe Kendrick.  All the presentations were stellar as they began to deal with the scientific/clinical reports of what porn is doing to our society as well as the relational and spiritual damage it is causing with those involved.

This I can say. I am glad that we did this as a church community. I am glad that we pulled back the covers on this issue and created a safe place for people to ask questions, and hopefully get the answers that satisfy. I realize that this hot topic issue does not sit well with everyone, but where do we start?  I had one parent share with me that they sat in the “Noise and Nursery” theatre with their children so that if the child had any questions that they could answer it right away. I cannot begin to tell you how inundated we were with texts and emails as the issue is culture is making porn acceptable and even so in some church circles. I also respect the decisions of some families that felt that maybe this was too much for their children to take in at this time. As I said before and I will say it again, I would not expose other people’s children to what I have not already talked with my kids about. But I respect each family knows where their lines and limitations are!

So, now we are planning Pornsunday2. Why? Because of the need to address the many issues of sexuality within our culture and especially within the church from a Biblical perspective. There are always going to be the negative voices out there! “Gerry, there is a better time and place to do this kind of stuff, but not in the church” or “You should have approached the topic from this perspective…..” or “I took offense to you saying…” or “Did we hear the band playing Wrecking Ball? How dare you…” All I can say is this: Welcome to Soul Sanctuary! As others have advertised their churches as “This isn’t your grandma’s type of church” I must add that there were a number of grandma’s who mentioned that we needed to do this pornsunday! So, maybe, just maybe we are your grandma’s type of church!? Just maybe Grandma’s are seeing what is happening in their families and want to see GOD move in o heal and restore!

But here is my Monday morning mind dump: As the stories are coming in, of people who are grateful that we have opened this Pandora’s box, my heart breaks for those who have been and are being hurt by the misuse of sexuality in our culture. My hope and prayer is that when this series is over that healing will be experienced by those who need it, that marital relationships will be restored, that marriages will have a healthy expression of GODLY sexuality and that people will experience the goodness of GOD plan for our lives when it comes to sexuality and others in our world.  

Now Begins Part 2

Now Begins Part 2

Help Us to Continue to Make a Difference...

What to continue to HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

We have a few items left over from our ALL HANDS HELD silent auction. All our proceeds go to help with Educating students in Indonesia as well as AHH has begun to partner with Helping Hands Ministry in Kenya. It is a school for children with disabilities. All the proceeds from these items go directly to impact kids around the world!

Are you interested in bidding on any of the items?

All you need to do is email your bid to gsm1@mymts.net and we will respond accordingly.

Please state The FOLLOWING IN THE EMAIL:

                  WHAT ITEM NUMBER you are bidding on

                  YOUR BID

                  YOUR FULL NAME

                  YOUR PHONE NUMBER

REMEMBER: You are bidding against other people.

The Auction will end on Saturday September 14th 2013 at 11:59pm.

Winners will be announced on Sunday September 15th, 2013. 

Winners will be notified via email or phone call.

The ITEMS!

ITEM 1

Electric Guitar Package from Quest Musique

                guitar, amp, strap, stand, picks, 1 months lessons

(Minimun Bid $100) 

ITEM 2

Gaming Gear:

1 - Xbox 360 wireless speed wheel

ITEM 3

1 – Xbox 360 wireless speed wheel

ITEM 4

1 Xbox wireless controller (Gears of War 3 Limited Edition

ITEM 5

1 Xbox wireless controller (Gears of War 3 Limited Edition

ITEM 6

1 Xbox 360 Halo Reach Limited Edition Box Set.

ITEM 7

1 Xbox 360 LIPS with Microphone

ITEM 8

1 Xbox 360 LIPS with Microphone

ITEM 9

John Maxwell Conference  Package September 30th  (2 Tickets) $500.00 Value

ITEM 10

4 Tickets to the BC Lions OR Edmonton Eskimos vs the Blue bombers Game Value $288.00

ITEM 11

Murray Gift Card Value $50.00

ITEM 12

10 Silver City Movie Passes

LET"S GET STARTED! 

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You Can Make Difference...

Soul Sanctuary will be hosting its 9th annual golf tournament on Sunday, August 25, 2013 at Bridges Golf Course. The Soul Sanctuary Golf Tournament was established to raise funds and open doors of opportunity by providing funding for shelter and education to less fortunate children on the island of Java, Indonesia. Soul Sanctuary accomplishes these objectives by working together with our partner, All Hands Held Fund (AHHF), which was established solely to fulfill the above-mentioned goals.

AHHF was established in memory of two amazing young women who lost their lives in a flash flood (January 22, 2003) on the island of Java, Indonesia. They were each volunteering for a one year period to work with and help the children of Indonesia. Their names were Alana Fife and Hannah Showaker, and their example of selflessness and commitment to those children is the standard by which we measure our success. AHHF is a collaboration of many people's efforts, and has partnered with Soul Sanctuary from the time the church was established.

The AHHF has grown in each of its nine years of existence by building on small successes and having a strong and committed foundation of people (100% volunteers).

AHHF Indonesia has several well-established programs, which are described as follows:

- The Satya Wacana University Scholarship program. The goal of this program is to provide scholarships to deserving students. Currently, there are five young adults enrolled who all will be graduating in the Spring of 2014.

- The Hannah Showaker Memorial Bursary Program. This program currently provides for two bursaries (at Satya Wacana University) of $1000 USD per year and is awarded to gifted students who are unable to continue their education due to the lack of financial resources.

- The Wisma Kasih (orphanage/boarding house) Humanitarian Program. AHHF is concerned with helping to improve the welfare and wellness of the kids who call the orphanage/boarding house their home. By providing subsidies for retreats, Christmas gifts, sporting activities, musical instruments, and simple kitchen aids, AHHF attempts to make life for the kids as normal as possible.

- In 2012, a video lab was opened at the Widya Wacana Solo Elementary School where AHHF previously funded the development of an English computer lab. The purpose of this video lab is to educate children with new skills and empower them with the multimedia technology that is rapidly becoming the mainstream form of communication in Indonesia.

We are asking businesses and individuals to get involved in any or all of the following ways:

1. Sponsor a hole (all hole sponsorships will be issued a tax receipt).

- Silver - $100 Multi sponsors

- Gold - $300 Shared sponsors

- Platinum - $500 Exclusive sponsor (1 complimentary entry for golf and dinner is included at this level.)

2. Contribute a merchandise prize for the tournament/silent auction. All donations will be acknowledged at the dinner. Upon request, a tax receipt will be available for the value of any prize donated.

3. Enter as a foursome/couple/single and join us for a relaxing, fun and enjoyable day to show your support. Entry fees are $125 per person, which includes a charitable donation receipt (exact amount to be determined).

4. If golf is not your game, join us for a dinner/silent auction option for $65 per person.

Please register online at bit.ly/SoulGolf2013.

Further inquiries can be made by contacting the tournament organizers at soulgolf@gmail.com. More information can also be found at the Soul Sanctuary Golf Tournament website at http://soulgolf.pbwiki.com

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YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!