All Posts By

Michael Voll

The Power of Thankfulness

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We have had a really amazing Autumn so far in the Edmonton area. Some would say that the last month or so has been better than our whole summer, especially from the standpoint of weather! I am enjoying the fall colours, and the cool mornings don’t really bother me, especially when it warms up by the afternoon.

Seasonal Blues

But I do notice that now that the days are shorter, there is a seasonal sadness or weight that can set in. At first it is a bit imperceptible, then it grows, multiplies, and if not treated or dealt with, can slow me down and steal away joy that I would normally have in the little things of life, like a hot coffee, a joke from one of my kids, or a meeting to discuss future plans for the church.

Do you go through times of heaviness when seasons change?

Thankfulness to the Rescue

It’s no coincidence that in Canada, where the weather turns colder much faster than that of our neighbours to the south, that we celebrate Thanksgiving a month ahead. It is through giving thanks that we have the power to break through the blue that can threaten to derail us!

In Isaiah 61:3, God gives a promise “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  

A spirit of despair can also be translated as a faint spirit, or a spirit of heaviness. Despair, heaviness, and becoming faint-hearted are all realities that we may face from time to time. Some wrestle with despair or depression on a more serious or clinical manner. And almost everyone will face it on a seasonal or circumstantial level. However you may experience the heaviness of despair, the one thing that God wants to do is exchange that despair for praise.

Making It Practical

How do we praise when we are weighed down?

I practise thankfulness at the very beginning of my day. Thankfulness begins to strip away the feelings that build up and become one giant, weighty wall. For each thing I write down, it is like stripping off a weight from the bar at the gym. Before long, what was once heavy is now much lighter and manageable.

Today if you are feeling blue, try combating it with a list of things you are thankful for. Maybe at first, it will be difficult, but you will slowly warm up!

Often I have started my list with the mundane or obvious.  Maybe for the blanket I am wrapped up in, or the fact that we have forced-air heat in our house. As I progress to number 10, I begin to thank God for the opportunities and challenges he has given me. I may even thank God for the cold weather that comes with living in the best country in the world.

This weekend, may you experience the praise that sweeps away despair by practising thankfulness. God is good, and he will get you through. It just may take a first step from you…”God thank you for…”

generoUS with our Time

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This week we are starting a new series called “generoUS.” We will be talking about a few of the many ways that we can be generous, and I’ll be zeroing in on how we can be generous with our time on Sunday.

Time is Precious

Time is our most precious commodity, as it is not renewable. If you make a poor investment or buy something you regret, you can always make that money back. However, when you waste time, you will never get it back. It’s gone.

Forever.

That is probably why people most of us would rather buy the whole box of chocolate almonds that our child has to sell for their sports team than have to sell them door to door over the course of a few evenings. And, who are we kidding, those chocolate almonds are awesome! To be inconvenienced for a few hours is frustrating. Time is money! Plus we have to check Facebook and post our starts about all the almonds we have to sell…

Busyness

We may very well be busy, but we wear busyness like a badge honour. The more busy we are, the more important we are. And yet, when I look at the life of Jesus, the most important person that ever walked the face of the earth, busyness does not come to mind. He had a lot to do, but he certainly wasn’t hurried.

Jesus always made time for the most important things, like spending time in prayer to his Father (Mark 1:35). The more demands he faced, the more time he spent with God. I wonder if we would be able to be more generous with our time if we gave more time to God each day?

The Power of “NO” for a Powerful “Yes”

At times Jesus said no (Mark 1:37-38). There were many people that Jesus did not heal. Many that he did not comfort. He had a mission, and he fulfilled that mission, in large part, because of the things he did NOT do. Is there something you should NOT do so you can accomplish what you OUGHT to do? Remember, not every urgent need is yours to attend to.

Our investment of time is absolutely key to fulfilling God’s design for our lives. I am thankful for the people who have invested their time into me through counsel, teaching and correcting me in seasons when I needed it most. And you can be one of those people who is generous with your time, expertise and talents. When you are, you make a tangible difference.

At North Pointe, we aim to bring people to a place of Real Hope, New Life, and Lasting Purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ. We can only do this through MANY people (like you!) offering their time generously. If you aren’t currently involved, would you consider how you might be in the near future? It just might be the TIME of your life.

There is More Stretching

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Have you ever felt like you were being stretched to the limit?

I certainly have. There have been times when I wondered if I could bear another moment of grief, shame or pain. I just needed a moment of relief, or I might snap in half.

Stretching is Healthy

However, stretching is a healthy part of life. Without stretching there is no growth. If a child does not grow, we get very concerned and make doctors and specialist appointments in an effort to determine the problem. The athlete stretches before, during and after a play in order to have the greatest range of motion and to perform at their peak. A hunter pulls the bow its max in order to release the arrow at the greatest velocity possible. The farther we are stretched, the farther we will go.

When Jesus was on the earth he had a message to share that made a lot of people very excited, and others very upset. He came to bring something new, but this new message would stretch some people to the breaking point.

You are Stretching me!

In Matthew 9:15-17, Jesus tells a parable about cloth and wine. Jesus had a way of using ordinary, everyday examples to make a profound point of eternal significance. He said that you don’t put a patch of new cloth on an old garment or put new wine into old wineskins. The reason? New cloth will shrink once it has been washed and pull away from the old material, leaving a gaping hole. So much for all the mending work! And new wine ferments and expands in a wineskin. Wineskins were made of animal skins. New skins would be able to expand with the expanding wine, while brittle, old wineskins would not be able to stretch. The result? A really big mess.

The point of all of this?

A New Thing

Jesus came to earth to do a new thing, to pour out new wine that would purify the people and fill them with joy unlike anything else they had experienced before. But this new teaching couldn’t be added to their old religious structures. The old structures could not contain the new teaching. It would require something new altogether. In the same way, we can’t just add Jesus on to our lives like we would add a bracelet or watch to an outfit. Jesus needs to do a new work in us from head to toe. And sometimes even the good structures we have in our lives and churches need to change as well.

And this can be a stretching experience.

At times the new wine that Jesus wants to bring can make us uncomfortable and cause us to stretch in ways we thought we never could! Faith grows by taking steps that aren’t always certain.

Worth The Pain

But the payoff is worth all the stretch marks. Jesus wants to grow us and launch us into a future of blessing and goodness. He wants to work in us to do great things for the people around us. This holds true for us personally and as a church.

I believe our greatest days are still ahead of us.

Jesus is stretching us like a slingshot is pulled back…so that on its release it can shoot higher and farther and faster.

There are awesome things that God wants North Pointe to accomplish to bring Real Hope, New Life, and Lasting Purpose to the people “beyond our green fence.”

Let me assure you, the stretching will be worth it.

Building a Legacy

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It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they put their heads together.

In the Clouds

My knees were shaking on the viewing deck Empire State Building in New York. My mind raced as I wondered “Is this old building safe?” This question was quickly followed by, “How could it withstand the punishment of wind, rain, snow and even an airplane crash for over 89 years?” Amazing. Or consider the pyramids of Egypt or the Mayan ruins…the ingenuity of people to create and build is mind-blowing for me, a non-engineer.

In the book of Genesis, we are told about a tower that was being constructed out of bricks and mortar (chapter 11). This was quite likely the worlds first skyscraper, a majestic building with aspirations to touch the heavens, or at least to get high enough to have a pretty awesome view. People have their plans, but God his own. The people wanted to make a name for themselves with the tower (sounds eerily familiar today), but God knew that their intentions were evil. They just wanted to do their own thing, and live in disobedience to God, who had commanded them to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). Instead, they all decided to hang out together.

The Downside of Unity

What is interesting is that when these people came together with a common language and a common purpose (build a tower), they were very efficient and very productive. In fact, even God realized that nothing was impossible if people put their heads together (Genesis 11:6).

So God confused their language and the project stopped.

Unfortunately, many times when people put their heads together, the results can be catastrophic. Selfishness, pride, and hatred often fuel our dreams. A lot of terrible things like war, genocide, and business devoid of ethics results in a lot of harm.

But there is Hope.

There is MORE.

Because of Jesus and his work on the cross, we can be cleansed of our sin. We can be made new. Transformed. And then we bring transformation to the world around us.

The Upside of Unity

Jesus wants us as his followers to be unified, of one purpose, and filled with the Spirit. And when we come together in that Spirit, we can do the world immeasurable good.

Because people have come together in the power of the Holy Spirit, hospitals and orphanages have been built, clean water has been sourced, solutions for malnutrition have been generated and new technologies have been developed to microfinance sustainable business around the world.

Think about what good could happen if we as a church were unified, with one voice? Think about what we could do if we set aside our differences and preferences to impact our city and nation for the good?

I am thankful that North Pointe has a solid reputation in the community for making a tangible difference through our programs and presence. Let’s keep up the good work, and believe for more in the coming days, weeks and months. When we are unified, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Let’s be a church that builds a legacy of love around the world rather than building a tower to ourselves.

There is More!

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In 10, 9, 8, 7…

There is something powerful and exciting every time I see a video of a rocket launch and the deep voice that accompanies it, slowly counting down the numbers to lift off.

When the engines ignite, and the rocket breaks free of the tower, there is an expectancy of adventure, exploration and hanging on for a great ride!

Ready to Launch

This weekend at North Pointe we are launching our programs and ministries for the fall. This is also a time of adventure, exploration and hanging on for a great ride, and we want you to to be a part of it!

We are hosting the community for our annual Fall Family Carnival on Saturday, September 7. This event is free and goes from 10am-3pm. It is a family event that will have every age smiling. Will you consider who you could invite to come with you? Each year people decide to check out North Pointe on a Sunday because of the warmth they felt at our Carnival.

Then…Sunday morning, in all three services (9:30, 11:00 and 12:30) we are going to be celebrating what God is doing in and through our congregation. This month we will be doing a series called “There is More.” Let me assure you, regardless of where you find yourself at in life, God has more in store for you, and he wants to work more through you.

There is MORE

In Philippians 1:6 the Apostle Paul boldly states, “I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  Paul is certain that God will finish what he has started in us. He is not done with us yet. He has more in store for you and me! So regardless of how you feel or what you’ve been through, you don’t have to be confident in yourself or your own strength, you can be confident in the strength that comes from Jesus alone.

Jesus accomplishes change in us through a series of small things. More always starts with little. What little things do you need to begin to do to reconnect with God? Maybe you need to connect with him for the very first time. May I suggest that you start by showing up this Sunday? You will be glad you did. Then step out of your comfort zone at try out Alpha. Or sign up for a bible study. Or just eat bacon with some guys (Men’s Breakfast on Sept 14th!).

Jesus isn’t finished with you yet. Take confidence in this truth today.

It’s time to launch.

There is MORE.

Blessings.

Pastor Michael

Bringing Hope One Person at a Time

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 In the last week, our home has been buzzing with the excitement of labeling new school supplies, resetting sleep schedules and determining what clothing we need to buy for the coming year (kids grow so much!). 

Hope in Zimbabwe

In Canada, we have a lot of freedoms we take for granted. One of those freedoms is a quality education from kindergarten through grade 12. This is not the case in many countries around the world. But through the generosity of North Pointe, this is slowly changing. In Zimbabwe, a country with political and economic instability, your giving is bringing stability to families and children.

As a church, we are a supporter of the Village of Hope. At the Village, kids receive a fantastic education, nutritious meals and for many orphans, a home and family to love and care for them. Last year we gave over $25,000 to the Village of Hope, and many others in our church directly support a child at the VOH through ChildCare Plus. Our partnership makes a difference.

This Sunday, Pastor Zowa from the Village of Hope shares with us the final message in our unCommon Sense series called “Powerful Prayers.” Pastor Zowa and the dedicated staff at the Village of Hope understand the power of prayer! 

Hope in Edmonton

We bring hope to kids in Zimbabwe, but we are also sponsoring Nora as she makes her home in Edmonton shortly. Nora is an Iraqi Christian living as a refugee in Jordan. Through a connection with Steve and Patti Hertzog, our global workers in Eurasia, we are sponsoring her to come to Canada. As a result, she’ll have an opportunity she would never have in Jordan.

We can help Nora get settled in our neighborhood. We as a church family are supplying her with home furnishings. On Sunday you will receive a list of items she needs to get started. Don’t wait or hesitate…donate! We want to bless her with new or very gently used items to get her started here in Canada. Let’s make this happen!

In short, North Pointe has an awesome track record of generosity…let’s keep it going! We can make a difference and bring hope to people in our neighborhood and around the world!

See you on Sunday!

Baptism by Fire

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This Sunday we are going to be celebrating with 19 people who are taking the next step in their faith journey by getting baptized. I love cheering on the people who are ‘taking the plunge.’  This is a very important symbol and step of obedience in the life of a Christian.

Submerged

Baptism is an outward symbol of an inward reality. The reality for each of these people is that they have believed in Jesus and have chosen to follow Him for the rest of their lives. And now they are living out Jesus’ own example-he was baptized and then he commanded all who follow him to be baptized as well (Matthew 28:18-20). They will be symbolically buried with Christ, and moments later raised again to new life as they come out of the water. This is the reality of what has happened spiritually, now we get to witness this physically. Don’t miss out on this exciting day, you’ll be glad you came!

Scorched

But there is another kind of baptism that we sometimes face through the course of our lives called ‘Baptism by Fire.’ This is a situation that you are thrown into where you have very little preparation…you just need to hold on and survive by using your wits and wisdom, and likely a little bit of grit.

Maybe right now you are facing a baptism by fire. It could be in a relationship that is going sideways, a parenting struggle that leaves you scratching your head for answers, a problem at work or a diagnosis that is more than you can endure. In these moments it can be hard to have patience. All we really want is for things to get better NOW! Some feel their situation is so hopeless that they simply give up. The pain and pressure are too much to persevere through.

Don’t give up.

Keep on going. Persevere. Be patient. There is more happening than you can see.

Perfect Timing

Over 2000 years ago Jesus came to save the world, in perfect timing. He was not a minute too soon, or a moment too late.

And he is coming again. His timing is always perfect (even if we think he should hurry up!).

The first time Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He came as a Saviour for our sins. When he comes again he will come as Judge. He will judge the whole world-including those who have hurt, persecuted and oppressed others, and he will judge you and me for all that we have said and done. It is a humbling thought. And it should give us courage in our situation. We don’t have to retaliate, we don’t have to focus on ‘payback.’ We can simply trust that God will make all things right. Our role is to be patient and to persevere.

Patience

Think about how patient God has been with us. He has waited on us to make good decisions, to allow him to have control of our lives, and to surrender our hearts to him. Today God still waits patiently, because he loves everyone in the world. And he doesn’t want any of them to live without a relationship with Him (John 3:16).

So if you haven’t already, put your trust in Jesus. He will get you through your baptism by fire, and lead you into real hope, new life and lasting purpose. That’s what those who are getting baptized have done. Jesus is with you, even if you are at the end of your rope, and he will make all things right.

Just be patient. Persevere. Keep on going. He is coming. And his timing is perfect.

Make sure your timing is perfect on Sunday. 9:30am, 11:00am and 12:30pm are the service times. We look forward to seeing you and celebrating with you!

Priority Matters

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Around the middle of August every year, I get a growing sense of expectation. Summer is awesome (it’s BY FAR my favourite season), but there is something to be said for getting back into some of the regular rhythms and routines that September naturally brings. It is an opportunity to hit the reset button on the year, 2/3 of the way through. What a deal!

Never Too Late to Make a Change

So if 2019 hasn’t been all that you had hoped, or if you really need to bear down to make some changes in your personal life, now is the time to do it.

However, if you are going to make positive changes, makes sure your priority is Jesus. Often we fill up our schedules with appointments, work tasks, driving the kids to any number of sports, music or art-related commitments. Once we fill up our schedules we may wonder if we can squeeze in just one more thing…like church on Sundays, or joining a small group Bible Study. Often we just can’t squeeze it in, so we tell ourselves, “It will be different in January.”

It won’t be.

Priority

Not unless you prioritize. And priority means “first concern” or “most important.” Is a growing relationship with Jesus most important for you? If you answer yes, is there any proof of that in your schedule? If not, why isn’t it your priority? Do you think it is unimportant or irrelevant, or perhaps a nice extra, but not the main thing?

We all have things we must do. Make money, put food on the table, pay bills, develop relationships…and the list could go on forever. Jesus knows all that we have to do, but he also knows what we MUST do to get it accomplished in the right order.

The Right Order

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus outlined the number of things that we can spend ourselves chasing and worrying about. His solution? “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Look to God first and all of the other stuff will fall into line.

This may seem too simple, but I’ve found in my own life that when my relationship with Jesus is growing and developing, so many other areas flourish. I am more patient and loving, and often far more focused with my time and energy. Starting the day reading the Bible and praying centres me in on what is really important, and keeps me from chasing after the wind.

This fall at North Pointe we have many different options to help you build your relationship with Jesus, either by attending a class or serving others. Make sure to include your spiritual life in the plans you make for September. It starts with a click to the North Pointe website…here.

Now enjoy the rest of your summer!

True Wisdom

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Experts have charted the progression of knowledge that the world has produced, and the rate that is has grown over the last several thousand years. It’s quite startling.

Knowledge Growth

Up until about 1900, knowledge doubled approximately every hundred years. By 1950, it was doubling every 25 years. In the year 2000, knowledge doubled every year….and now it sees to be doubling EVERY DAY.

Wow. Mind Blown!

Regression?

With all of this knowledge, you would think that the human race would be progressing. It doesn’t seem to be that way.

While we may be gaining knowledge, it seems we have not gained wisdom.

There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom.

The Bible tells us that “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We have all been around someone with a lot of book smarts that was almost impossible to bear with. Their bragging and better-than-you attitude actually made them look pretty, how shall I say this…stupid. It seems to me this is how we communicate on social media, in politics, and unfortunately on issues of faith more and more. It’s not wise.

Real Wisdom

On the other hand, we have been with wise people that carry with them a humility that is born of pure motives. They care about others, and they seem to have learned from past experiences rather than repeating their error over and over. In the book of James, we are clearly told that a wise person proves their wisdom by living an honourable life (James 3:13). Wisdom may be an invisible quality, but it shows through how we live. It is rooted in our relationship with God (Proverbs 9:10) and is peaceable, full of mercy and shows itself through good deeds, among other attractive attributes.

The best part of it all?

Everyone can become wise. It has nothing to do with your “smarts” or GPA or level of schooling. It has everything to do with your relationship with Jesus and your willingness to both ask for wisdom and walk it out in your everyday life. The more you do wise things, the easier it gets, and the wiser you will become.

Let’s not get too caught up with a whole bunch of head knowledge that may or may not make a real difference in our lives, or in the lives of others around us. Instead, let’s pursue godly wisdom and walk it out by the way we speak, act and react to everyday situations.

Now that’s wise!

Taming the Tongue

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I was five years old when I first saw fire damage. A house in our neighborhood went up in flames and before long it was burned down to the studs. Little was left except for the charred remains of what was furniture, walls, flooring, and memories. My dad walked me through it a few days after the fire and it was an eerie experience.

Total Devastation

Fire devastates.

As Albertans, we have experienced large fires in the last few years. Slave Lake, Fort Mac, and the number of forest fires in the northern parts of our Province that have blanketed our open sky with smoke and threatened to block out all sunlight from our summer. For those far away from the fires, they are an inconvenience. For those caught in the middle, it is devastation.

Tongue Tied?

In James 3:6 the tongue is described as a fire. He is referring to the words spoken and the thoughts/attitudes that pour out of our mouths. At times our words are fiery, and they can literally burn down everything in its way. Have you ever had someone tear into you? It hurts. Ten seconds of careless words can break a relationship forever.

It seems that there is little hope for us. James tells us that the tongue can’t be tamed (3:8). Kind of sounds bleak doesn’t it?

Does that mean that we just keep swearing like a trucker, lying, slandering and gossiping?

Not at all.

There is hope. Things can change.

Tongue Tamed

It’s a hopeless cause to try to change on our own strength. At some point, we will end us saying something dumb, or worse, destructive. We will burn down those around us.

Thankfully we don’t have to change on our own. Self-help won’t help.

The Holy Spirit is there to help us. He’s the Helper (John 14:26).

Our politicians, movie stars and social media warriors talk enough trash. What we need is for Jesus to flow out of us in our words and actions. Change is possible, but it won’t happen overnight. 

ALL THINGS are possible with God. Even cleaning out that potty mouth!

Jesus wants us to speak life where there is death, and bring encouragement to the weary through our words and actions.

Remember, your words are powerful. Use them wisely. Ask God to help you this week to be a source of vitalization, not devastation.