Like Moses, I must resist the temptation to add my own requirements to God’s
Over a holiday dinner once, I heard one family member tell another that drinking wine was forbidden by Jesus.
“Forbidden?” the first person asked.
Here we go, I thought.
“Forbidden,” the second person said.
“Wasn’t Jesus’ first miracle turning water into wine?” the first asked.
“Oh yes,” said the second person. “But it was weak wine and anyway they drank it because back then the water was so bad.”December 9, 2013
God has a plan for everyone, even broken and hurting people like me (and you)
Most of the last two decades of my life have been spent as the “odd woman out”: out of love, out of hope, and out of control. As the “odd” one, I found myself either ignored by others or noticed, but regardless, I found pain waiting for me. Thankfully, I did not remain “out.” God’s mercy, hope, and love found me, leading me to become the “odd woman in.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines odd as “different from what is usual or expected.” As a 9-year-old little girl, I certainly was odd and so was my life. Having lost my father, and my mother being emotionally unavailable, my 9-year-old heart and mind were left to figure out life and love on their own. While friends played with Barbie dolls or spent an afternoon playing dress-up, I spent the day creating ways to have people notice and love me—even my friends’ parents. This pursuit continued throughout my life. In fact, this pursuit became a way of life for me.
An Interview with Vancouver Pastor Joèl Adrienne Amzil
Joèl Adrienne Amzil is an associate pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Vancouver, a congregation known for its rich multicultural ministry. We wanted to hear more from Joel about Trinity, her role there, and how this multicultural congregation worships together.
Joèl, tell us a little about TBC.
Trinity Baptist Church has been serving the west side of Vancouver for 99 years. We are really looking forward to our 100th anniversary next year!
We certainly have seen quite a few changes over the last century, especially with regard to ethnicity. Currently, we have a large population of Mandarin-speaking Chinese, a significant number of people from the Philippines, and then our final third is made up of a mix of people who originate from a few dozen countries from all around the globe.
An Interview with Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy for World Relief
Immigration was one of the hot-button issues of the last presidential election, and it continues to be a divisive issue in the halls of Washington DC today. Unfortunately, far too many Christians and evangelical churches are uneducated on this important issue or taking their “facts” from opinionated and unresearched political and media sources that do not have a holistic Christian worldview.
There is no doubt about it, immigration is a source of tension for all of us. Thankfully, World Relief has made it their mission to “empower the local Church to serve the most vulnerable” and that includes standing for displaced refugees and immigrants.November 28, 2013
When I lost my mother, I learned a lot about how to (and how not to) comfort grieving people
Losing our parents is an inevitability. If it hasn’t happened to you already, it will. It’s how life works.
Perhaps I should reframe that. We don’t “lose” them; they pass away, depart this life, go on ahead, are called home, are promoted to Glory, are no longer with us. Oh, so many ways of not saying it. They die.
At least, their physical bodies cease functioning and life continues in a dimension we’re unable to access. Our complex history of connection is punctuated by death’s rude interruption.
After the sudden death of my father, my mother collapsed, lost consciousness, and a week later died. Any other woman would have shirked the effort it took to stay alive in that last week. Not she. She was an Island woman who had weathered many a wild winter storm. Constancy and perseverance were her watchwords even to death.
There’s power in men and women working together
The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) posters hanging all over Ryerson University’s campus caught 17-year-old Miranda Hassell’s eye. “Make up…or concealer for bruises?” read the text on one poster, images of a compact and a brush.
Started by men for men in the 1980s, WRC works to engage men in ending men’s violence against women, while inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves. Today it runs workshops on gender and language in 60 countries. WRC offers specific resources geared to male mentors working with boys, and it works vigorously to highlight the need for male involvement in ending all violence against women through innovative campaigns like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and What Makes a Man conferences.
God’s mercy provides a way out…do we?
Have you been marred by the sin of adultery? Has your heart ever ached for a friend’s or relative’s marriage that has been battered by adultery? The church has ways to handle adultery, but do we handle it as Jesus did? Have you seen the church mishandle people affected by adultery? How do we extend mercy for such a despicable sin that disrupts so many marriages, homes, children, and precious lives?
No Definition Needed
Most people understand what adultery is, even if we masquerade behind false pretenses. We all understand how marriages can be affected by the sin of adultery, or worse, even destroyed. Often, we forget to delve into how the body of Christ views the sin of adultery and all the parties involved. It would seem in such a sexualized culture, with the spiritual condition of the church being what it is, that anything goes. The contrary is true. Sin has never been tolerated by God; neither should it be tolerated by the church. But for every sin that has been committed or that will be committed, the penalty has already been paid by the blood of Jesus.November 18, 2013
How our communities might foster love instead of loneliness
In the last few years, we have seen a remarkable shift in church culture’s attitude regarding the LGBT community. Churches are wanting to be open and welcoming to these folks. In my opinion, the struggle churches and Christians have is not with “loving the sinner,” as it’s been said, but with how far that love goes without compromising Scripture.
The greatest tension in the church’s welcome and even acceptance of LGBT people comes from the desire to be faithful to Scripture. Many Christians believe the love of God extends to all, but somehow have come to believe that if they go as far as welcoming a gay person, it means they have abandoned their loyalty to Scripture.
Protect yourself from ministry predators
It all started my freshman year of college. It was my first time away from home, and I was excited. I was eager to meet new people and explore the world. I came from a small town, so with great excitement also came naïveté.
I volunteered that fall during campaign season to make some extra money; that’s when I met Pastor Brown.* He seemed to be such a godly man. He invited me to his church and even picked me up from campus. His church membership had only two adults and the rest were children, but that was okay; I didn’t mind. I was just happy to hear a message from God and worship with other believers. Pastor Brown asked me to volunteer at his church right away. I always loved serving God and the community, so I said yes! In the beginning, everything seemed fine.November 11, 2013
All our interactions should be marked by love—plus caution and wisdom
They met at a professional conference. Valerie was a young pastor, and Charlie was a recent college graduate interning with a campus ministry organization. He mentioned that he was discerning a call to ministry, so Valerie engaged him in a conversation about his vocation. He asked her some questions about seminary. And then he invited her out for ice cream after the conference. “I said ‘of course,’ recounts Valerie, “thinking that I would love to talk through vocational discernment more with any young person. In my role as a chaplain, I understand conversations and listening to be a huge part of what I do.”
Perhaps you see it coming, though Valerie didn’t, and I wouldn’t have either. During their conversation at the ice cream shop, Valerie referenced the role of her significant other in sustaining her ministry. Charlie dropped his cone and blurted out, “You mean, this isn’t a date?”
When I asked some female clergy colleagues if men had ever mistaken pastoral attention for flirtation, the stories poured in. Valerie’s tale was the mildest; that she and her accidental date were mortified by the gaffe was the extent of the miscommunication. Several situations escalated to the point that external authorities had to be called in—bishops, lawyers, even the police.