God, Family, Community
The Three Journeys.
Are you passionate about life or do you find yourself trapped in a mundane lifestyle with nothing to look forward to?
Here at Catch the fire Toronto, I am experiencing the time of my life. I am passionate in my daily relationship with Jesus. Our founding pastor, John Arnott, recently wrote a book called “The Invitation”; the three journeys. The inward journey is the process by which Jesus begins to heal our hearts from issues in our life; the upward journey charts the development of our relationship with Jesus as our love for Him becomes tangible and we begin to commune with Him personally; thirdly, the onward journey is our work with Jesus to bring the message of the Father’s love to our community.
The Upward Journey
I have been working on the upward journey with Jesus for the past five years. The Lord said to me “give me one hour everyday”. He spoke to me through Isaiah 55:6, “seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon him while he is near” (NIV).
It has been five years since I began setting aside an hour for the Lord; it is one of the very best journeys of my life. His presence has become so real to me that I would not trade it for anything. Brother Lawrence said in his book: ‘Practice the presence of God’; “once you fall in love with Jesus, He pursues you to be with you.”
At times I get caught up with the daily routine and I sense the presence of the Lord pursuing me to be with Him more. My hunger for Him is new everyday; I have a fervency to seek His face:
Psalm 34:8 NIV, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him!”
“Trusting God first allows me to trust in people.”
Communion with Jesus every day has allowed me to face the reality of life, with its disappointments, rejections and times of fear. Every morning I run to Him knowing that He is my refuge.
Psalm 91: 1-2 NKJV, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust!”
My trust level in God has tremendously improved and I am able to wait on God much longer than ever before. Trusting God first allows me to trust in people more.
The Onward Journey
Simultaneously I have been working through my onward journey with Jesus, reaching out to my family and the community I belong to.
Family time has become more important to me, spending time with my wife and kids has now become a priority. We take every opportunity as family to be together. Marina and I enjoy working together as a couple, we enjoy seeing our kids serving in our local church. God is using our family to bring many young families to church; parents encourage their kids to get involved in worship and other ministry opportunities to be camp leaders or youth counselors.
Over two years ago, a group of men from our church signed up to serve as volunteers at a local prison. We get the opportunity to listen and pray for some of the men. We also conduct a life-coaching seminar to teach prisoners how to improve their lives.
Holy Spirit has begun to download ideas of how to minister to them without imposing. The first day of the program, I asked them their name and what it means to them. Most of the guys had no clue what their name meant, I let them know that, on the last day, I would give them the meaning of their name. I have a Christian name book that gives the meaning of a name, its origin and spiritual significance, complete with scriptural references.
"I saw hunger grow within them, to know their identity and destiny."
On the day of the last program, in the middle of the class, these prisoners were sharing the Bible from my table to find out what their name meant. By the end of these eight weeks, I saw hunger grow within them, to know their identity and destiny.
Here is another great story of God’s presence at work in the prison. A young man in the program would hardly speak in the class and his only answer to all my questions was “ I don’t know”. Finally, on week four, he wanted to speak with me privately to let me know that he was not being rude, he simply didn’t know the answers to anything in life. When he was five years old, his father left his mother forcing him to look after his three younger siblings. At the age of 20 his mother released him from home to live on his own. He found himself in bad company and eventually ended up in prison.
As I listened, Holy Spirit nudged me to ask him “Can I can pray for you or pray with you”.
His heart was tender to receive Jesus; he said, "please pray with me now."
There is so much excitement in me to be on this outward journey! For the past three years, during our Sunday service, we have been offering a free service to file tax refunds for those low-income earners in our city. Our church congregations connect with people and share God’s love to strangers. God taught me how to reach out to the lost world. First show God’s love and let people trust you, then invite them to church. Each Sunday we see strangers coming to file their tax refunds engaging in worship and, in their own way, connecting with God.
"Build relationships with people before presenting the gospel."
Ed Silvoso in his book “Prayer Evangelism” refers to the words of Jesus from Luke 10:5 NKJV, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.”
Ed talks about building relationships with people before presenting the gospel, revealing the peace of Jesus within us and then sharing about Him. I am making sure to connect with my neighbors sharing the peace of Jesus, praying for them, helping people in the neighborhood by clearing their drives in winter.
The Lord began to teach me how to be a light in this world to my friends and neighbors. They must first see my relationship with God, family and the community for them to want to adopt my faith in Jesus. They may not come to our church, but they will want to know more about God. Isn’t that what the end result of the Great Commission should be?
I would like to know your passionate love for Jesus and for your community so we can learn from one another. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org