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Love and Spin Bikes

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Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! (I hope you made adequate preparations…or you might be at 7-11 buying a heart-shaped Reese Peanut butter cup for your special someone!) In light of this momentous occasion, I have been thinking a lot about love, how we express it, and how we know what love is. As a follower of Jesus, I believe I have the best example of love in God, who himself is love…he is love in perfection (1 John 4:8).

An Unexpected Gift

Sometimes God shows us a glimpse of his unmerited love for us. It can happen in many ways, but today it was quite specific and came in the form of a spin bike.

If you aren’t someone who regularly exercises, a spin bike is a stationary exercise bike that closely resembles the feeling of being on a road bike. And I really like to spin. I watch tv when I spin and it’s how I get my exercise at home when I can’t make it to the gym. I have a spin bike that I purchased from Kijiji last summer, but it never fit me well from day one.  Often I dreamt of a particular bike that would fit me better and help me shed the added weight from all the donuts around the office!

Then I got the call. Someone from our church had a new spin bike that just didn’t fit them. They tried to sell it, but no buyers came out of the woodwork. Curiously, my name kept coming to their mind. They reached out, asked if I wanted it, and I was there! When I picked it up from them I was blown away…it was exactly the kind of bike I wanted, and they were able to get a hot deal on the exact bike they wanted. It was just a glimpse of God’s love…he cares about every aspect of our lives, even little stuff like exercise equipment preferences!

God’s Love for North Pointe

As a church, we have seen God pour his love out on us in many unexpected ways. We have a great location, facility and some of the best people you could ever want to hang around with! We have seen God answer prayers, big and small, and in a day and age when many churches are losing their influence, God has shown us favor and has drawn people who are far from him our way. This is God’s love for us.

His love is amazing.

God’s Love Through North Pointe

Just as I was on the receiving end of an amazing gift today, I want to be the kind of person that pours into the lives of others. I don’t want to only be on the receiving end of blessing, I want to be able to bless people with my time, talent, attention and finances. And as we do this together, I know that God will continue to bless us at North Pointe.

Right now there are many in our church and community that are struggling financially. Layoffs, downsizing and lack of work have put a lot of stress on individuals and families. In times like these, we can hold tight to what we have, or we can look to God who is the source of every good and perfect gift.

We are in the middle of what we call our 3-Month Tithe challenge. If you have never tithed (given 10%) before, I want to encourage you to begin today. There is no better time than now. If you come to the end of three months and determine that it’s not working, we will simply refund your money. No questions asked. You have nothing to lose and a world of blessing to gain. Click here to find out more.

God is love. God gave. Let’s follow his lead and continue to make a difference to those in our reach, near and far.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Good News for the Blues

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Monday, January 20 was “Blue Monday,” infamous for being the most depressing day of the year. Whether this is actually based on real scientific evidence, or whether it’s simply a claim that has gained acceptance through repetition, for those of us in northern regions, January can be pretty bleak.

Weather Woes

In the Edmonton region, we have just come through an extended cold snap. While it shouldn’t catch us by surprise (we experience -30C temperatures 3 days each year on average), when it arrives we never seem prepared. Couple these temperatures with the short amount of daylight and long, dark nights as well as mounting bills from the Christmas season…

Is it any wonder we have the blues?

I periodically get the blues and have wrestled with some clinical depression in my life. In those times I have seen counselors have received medical care, and I have people I can call on. Thankfully, through the years I’ve built a network of guys that I trust and that have my best interest in mind. They encourage me, and sometimes all I need is to have a listening ear and some godly wisdom to clear up the fog I’m experiencing.

Made to Reach Out

Humans were made for social engagement. God himself is triune, Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect harmony and relationship. In the New Testament, the words “one another” are used one hundred times in 94 verses.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another.”

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens.”

James 5:16 “Pray for one another.”

We were created to reach out to one another. From infancy, we learn basic movements such as pulling, grasping and reaching in an effort to bring objects, and people closer to us. Unfortunately, now we frequently grasp our phones but don’t reach out and bring people closer when we are in need. We are more isolated from one another in our digitally connected age.

And the effects are scary.

Healthy Relationships are Worth the Effort

Long before Bell came up with the awesome “Let’s Talk” campaign, followers of Jesus were encouraged to meet together and help one another live healthy and whole lives. But healthy relationships aren’t built overnight, and they take some effort.

If you are looking for ways to connect, consider these options:

Eat Like a Wildman-Jan 27, 6:00pm. Guys are notorious for bottling up and for keeping to themselves. Men, come out to eat some wild meat and hear some great stories. Guaranteed you will meet someone and start up a conversation that just might lead to a lifelong friendship. Sign up here: np.church/men

Same Page Initiative-Feb 23-Mar 29-We are encouraging small groups to form to meet and study the topic “Life-Changing Prayer.” Not only will you meet people, but you will also learn how to have a deeper relationship with Jesus. What a deal! Sign up here: np.church/groups

Let me encourage you that you are not alone. Whatever you are going through, there are others who are going through it as well, or who have gone through it. They can be guides to get you through your tough spot. So reach out. Ask for help. Go to a counselor. And go to God. He shouldn’t be our last resort, but our first call.

Feasting, Food Banks, and Fasting

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020, a time when we were supposed to be driving hover-mobiles, living to age 150, and even sending our laundry to be done for us by robots. I guess predictions aren’t always to be trusted!

Make a Change

Whatever the case may be, a new year is here, and each day is a chance for you to make a positive difference in this world, whether in a big way or in many small ways. Either way, it all starts with one step.

Christmas is a time of feasting, with turkey dinners and all sorts of tempting sweets at every turn. However, as we know, for many families, it is difficult to make rent, let alone pay for groceries. In the month of December, as we were preparing for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas, we did a “Reverse Advent.” We encouraged our church family to put an item in a box for the food bank each day and return it to the church right around Christmas Eve.

Surprise!

We were happily overwhelmed by the response.

So was the Edmonton Food Bank.

When they arrived to pick up the items, they had to come back for a second trip with a bigger truck. We donated 1142 kgs of food to the Edmonton Food Bank. They let us know that we were one of the largest contributors to the food bank over the Christmas Season. Wow! What a privilege to help!

Getting Hungry

Feasting. Food Banks. And Fasting. This week we have been going through a week of prayer at the church. Each night we are meeting from 6:30-7:30 pm (you still have Friday and Saturday-check it out!). One of the principles of prayer is to take seasons/times to fast or give up something in order to focus on God and for his hand to move on our behalf. We can choose to abstain from eating a meal or two, or give up social media or maybe even coffee (gasp!) in order to realize our need for God, and dependence on him. There is nothing like giving up coffee to know you need prayer!

I am believing for great things for 2020. We have an awesome church family who feast, fast and even contributes to the Food Bank.

May God continue to guide us, give us favour in the community, and help us to go to those who need Jesus’ love the most.

Blessings.

Our Thanks to You

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Merry Christmas!

At Christmas, we naturally take time to thank God for the blessings in our lives. It is God who is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), and the greatest gift the world has ever received is Jesus (John 3:16).

Impact

It is amazing the huge impact a tiny baby has had on our world. And Jesus continues to change lives today.

In this last year at North Pointe, we have had 68 people make first-time decisions to follow Jesus. And 43 people have been baptized. This is exciting! In a culture that often says that Christianity is outdated and irrelevant, the Good News continues to make a tangible difference in lives in Edmonton and around the globe. In our January series titled “Jesus Skeptic,” we will look at the credibility and impact of Christianity through the years and into today. It will definitely be a series that you will want a friend or family member who has doubts/questions to experience.

There is not an area in our church family that has not seen growth in the last year. Children, Youth, Young Adults, Care, 60+, Men’s and Women’s ministries…you get the point! God has helped us to creatively reach people where they are at. “Come as you are” continues to be alive at North Pointe thanks to some exceptional Pastors, Ministry leaders and Team Members (volunteers).

Investment

As a staff, we want to thank you for your support. You invest many hours each week with us to share God’s love with those who need it most. Our mission is to Reach up and Reach out with God’s love. You make that possible. And in the generous offering last week you showed your love for our staff at this Christmas season. We are very grateful and pray that you feel our appreciation for you.

Melissa and I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for the way that you have embraced our family as we transitioned into the Lead Pastor role in March. The support, encouragement, and love have been overwhelming in the very best way possible. We are honoured to serve a healthy church that reaches the community around us.

Over the Christmas season take a few minutes to write down some things that you are thankful for. Often I will write down 10 things I am thankful for as rapidly as possible…and then I have a hard time stopping at ten! When we do this, we become aware of the greatness and generosity of God, the ultimate Gift Giver.

Have a very Merry Christmas. And may 2020 be our best year ever!

Year-End Giving Reminder

*Just a friendly reminder that year-end is quickly approaching. In order to be receipted for the 2019 year, all donations must be received by December 31st. If you would like an update as to where you are in terms of giving for 2019, please email our accountant Colleen Nicolajsen at colleen@np.church. We thank you for your faithfulness and generosity in giving. We are able to reach into the community because of your financial commitments throughout the year.

Jesus Others You

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One of the strongest longings that humans have is for joy. In the Christmas season, we do all we can to manufacture a sense of joy. We decorate with bright lights, festive ornamentation and even give and receive presents to bring a smile to a friend or loved one.

The Problem of Happiness

These are all valid and I wholeheartedly embrace the traditions of Christmas-especially lights on our houses when the days are short and the nights are dark. LED lights, for as insignificant as they may be, can produce fuzzy feelings on the most ardent Scrooge.

The problem is that we easily forget the source of joy. Joy is not something that can be manufactured. That is happiness. And happiness is most often circumstantial. If we get a piece of coal for Christmas we aren’t very happy, but if we get a car, we describe it as one of the “happiest days of our life.” It’s a roller coaster ride of highs and lows.

The Source of Joy

Jesus is the source of joy.  His mere presence while still in Mary’s womb caused John the Baptist (also in his mom’s womb) to leap with joy (Luke 1:44). Joy is not found in presents, because ultimately they will wear out, need replacing, or lose their lustre. Joy is found in the presence of Jesus in our lives. He was, and is, the greatest gift that the world has ever received.

When we receive Jesus and experience the true joy he brings, our natural reaction is to want to share the news. That is what the Shepherd’s did. They told everyone they came across about the experience they had of meeting the baby, the Saviour of the world (Luke 2:17-18).

Does knowing Jesus still fill you with joy that can’t be contained? If not, perhaps this is the time to ask God to restore the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12). He will.

Refocus on Joy

When I get down and start to lose joy I am reminded of a very simple acrostic:

Jesus

Others

You

When I focus on Jesus first I lift my eyes out of my current situation and fix them on God, who is mighty to save in all the circumstances. When joy is fading, look up.

Then I focus on others. It is our self-focus that most often gets us into trouble. Try helping or encouraging someone in your reach today. Invite them to the Christmas Eve Service. What a fantastic way to share the Good news of Jesus and the joy he brings all year long.

This is a fantastic opportunity to experience the joy of giving. Give gifts to people who would never dream or expect something from you. It will not only make their day, but it will also make yours! It is the year-end, and at North Pointe, all of our reaching out into the community through programs and services are funded by the generosity of our people. Consider giving to North Pointe this month over and above your regular tithe. We are so very thankful for your generosity.

When we focus on Jesus and others, our own struggles are put into perspective. And God will take care of us.

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Seven Life-Changing Words

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Seven simple words can change a life forever: “Will you go to church with me?”

Simple, Yet Profound

I know it sounds simplistic, but many profound shifts in life start with a simple gesture, word or invitation. “Will you go out with me?” “Will you marry me?” “Will you accept the job?” I could go on, but I think you get the point.

In the month of December, there are few important dates I’d like you to keep in mind and prayerfully consider who you might say the “seven simple words” to.

Circle Your Calendar

On Monday, December 2 at 7pm our Women’s Ministry is hosting the event called “Invited.” Connie Jakab, a long-time friend of mine, will be sharing about the tremendous grace of Jesus. He will go to great lengths to make sure that there is room for everyone at his table. For the women reading this blog right now, why don’t you take a moment to click here and buy two tickets to the event. One for you, and one for a friend who needs to know about the love and grace of Jesus. It is called “Invited” for a reason!

Our Anthem Kid’s will be putting on their Christmas Presentation called “Isaiah Jones and the Seekers of the Lost Christmas Treasure” on Saturday, December 7th at 6pm. This is an awesome opportunity to invite friends and family to a fun-filled and inspiring Christmas event. There will be activities for children and fun for the whole family. There is no cost…what could be better?

Finally, December 24 is the day that most people, regardless of their religious views, will accept an invitation to go to church with you. On Christmas Eve we will have four services-12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm and 6:00pm. Each service will be one hour in length, moments of joy, awe, inspiration and the powerful message of the Arrival of Jesus. You will be glad you came with a friend.

You can change a life forever. Just repeat after me…

Will

You

Go

To

Church

With

Me?

No More Waxy Chocolates!

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It is almost that time of year to buy an Advent Calendar.

Arrival

Don’t know what that is? It’s a rectangular cardboard box with 24 perforated windows in it. Each day from Dec 1-24 you open one of these windows and inside is a treat or chocolate of some type.

As a kid, I loved these advent calendars, even though the chocolate tastes a lot like a wax candle (don’t ask me how I know what a candle tastes like…).

Our kids get an advent calendar each year as a symbol of the arrival of Jesus. That’s what advent means, arrival or coming. We prepare our hearts for the coming of the Saviour, Jesus into the world at Christmas.

Reverse Advent

This year at North Pointe we want to do something a little bit different. We want to do a reverse advent calendar.

What? Stick with me. It’s good, and it will likely help you lose weight rather than gain it on waxy chocolate!

Here goes:

  1. Get a medium-sized box. Decorate it, or just grab a sharpie marker and label it “Reverse Advent.” Put it where you can be reminded of it daily (like in the middle of your kitchen floor where you will stub your toe daily!)
  2. Every day, starting on December 1, put an item for the food bank into the box. This is the ‘reverse’ part of the advent calendar. Rather than making a withdrawal, you are making a deposit.
  3. For a list of items that the Edmonton Food Bank requires click here.
  4. Bring your items to North Pointe between December 22-24 (Sunday-Tuesday). If you need to drop off items earlier, we will take them when you can bring them! Office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm.
  5. Know that you have made a tangible difference to a person or family in our city that needs some help.

Jesus came into this world to demonstrate his love for us. Let’s make sure to demonstrate his love to others this Christmas.

#Blessed are the Merciful

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I think we have all been on the receiving end of mercy.

As a kid, I would have tickle fights with my dad and after five seconds of sheer torture/bliss I would yell out “mercy!” in an effort for a brief reprieve. Of course, he may have been slower to mercy than I would have liked, but he always let off so I could catch my breath long enough for me to cry out “more!”

As a young teenager, I was mowing my pastor’s lawn when he was on holiday with his family. I wanted to do the best job possible. I got carried away in my enthusiasm and took the weed eater around their new kiddie pool. Needless to say, it cracked, and all the water spilled out. I started to cry…I knew I was in trouble. Days later I did the walk of shame to his front door to apologize and to promise to mow his lawn for free until the debt was paid. He paid me for my work, put his hand on my shoulder and assured me that it was ok.

How have you been shown mercy in your life?

How Do You Show Mercy?

Now here’s the million-dollar question for all of us. How are we showing mercy to others?

Mercy is showing forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering. It’s the way followers of Jesus should live.

We forgive much because we have been forgiven much.

Jesus told a story about a servant who owed an amount that he would never be able to repay. Instead of being thrown into debtor’s prison, he was forgiven by the King of the land. Of course, the servant is excited, he has been given a new lease on life. He is free. What a great story!

But there’s more.

This same servant, on his way home from his meeting with the king, sees another acquaintance who owes him some money. Rather than saying, “Hey bro, this is your lucky day, your debt is canceled” he shook him down. “Pay up or I’ll have you thrown in prison!”

How ungrateful could this man be? He had been shown mercy beyond reason, and now refused to give it to someone who needed it as well. What kind of person does this?

Me. You. All of us.

Mercy or Justice?

We want mercy for ourselves and justice for others.

When we wrong someone, we want them to give us the benefit of doubt. When they wrong us, we often want them to feel the hurt.

Is it any wonder there is so much pain in the world?

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” I want mercy, so I better be an agent of mercy.

Here are a few things you can do to show mercy this coming week:

Listen to those in crisis. In our fast-paced world, a listening ear goes a long way.

Look for people with unmet needs and help them. If it’s in your reach, just do it.

That’s mercy.

Blessed are the Poor

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The modern-day hashtag (#) surfaced in August 2007 on Twitter. Since then it has grown in use and is now a staple on Instagram and Facebook. These hashtags are a way of arranging discussions/posts so they are easily searchable.

Some of the most popular hashtags are #love, #photooftheday, and #happy. For the last few years, #blessed has been used and abused to describe a favourite outfit, vacation destination or extravagant meal.

I think that is what almost everyone wants. Blessings that fulfill our every dream, desire and longing.

#Blessed

But is this what it means to be blessed?

Not according to Jesus.

In Matthew 5 we read some of the most famous, and difficult, teachings of Jesus. In the Beatitudes (the “Blessings”), Jesus describes what a happy life really looks like.

And it’s not what Instagram stars or celebrity preachers might make it out to be.

Know Your Condition

The first quality of a happy person is to be “poor in spirit.” Wow. If Jesus was trying to start a marketing campaign for his teaching, he was doing a pretty lousy job. Poor in spirit just doesn’t draw us in, especially in 2019. But Jesus knew what he was talking about, and he still does today.

If we want to live happily, we must start at the bottom. We’ve got to know about our condition. We don’t have it all together, aren’t self-sufficient, and were never intended to do life apart from God. To those who think they can make their way to God on their own steam (the religious),  Jesus responds, ‘Become like a child, that’s how you get into my Kingdom” (Matthew 18:3).

Kids know when they need help. They ask for help all the time. That is a key to happiness. Know your need for Jesus, and ask for his help. And he will help. 

The second quality of happy people is that they know how to mourn. Once again, not exactly the kind of message anyone would expect in a sermon about happiness!

Know the Good News

This mourning is deep grief over our brokenness and sin. The Good News of Jesus is only good when we know how bad the situation was for us.

Romans 3:23 reminds us that “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”

All. Everyone. No exclusions. No matter how nice, good or generous we have been, we still don’t measure up.

But Jesus offers forgiveness. He offers freedom.

People who mourn over their brokenness and understand their need for a Saviour should be the most forgiving people around.

Life is pretty good we are forgiven, learn to forgive ourselves, and forgive others who have hurt us.

#blessed.

generoUS in our Reach

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So much is out of our reach.

As little kids we went on tiptoes in an effort to grab a cookie off the counter and as adolescents, we may have struggled to reach the top of the volleyball or basketball net. As a guy of very average height, there are still things that I can’t reach in my home without the effort of a step stool.

Reaching for an object is one thing, reaching an objective is another thing entirely.

Big Plans

Too often we believe the lie that because we can’t make wholesale political or economic changes or cure world hunger by ourselves, that there really isn’t much of value that IS in our reach.

That is simply not true.

We often get so focused on what we can’t do, that we forget what we can do.

And what we should do.

What Jesus commands us to do.

Jesus didn’t have a lot of patience for people who refused to stand up for those who needed an advocate or lift a finger to help those who needed a hand. Inactivity is still an activity. It is a choice. You can choose to do the right thing or you can choose to do nothing. Choose wisely.

Small Steps

Instead of feeling powerless about what you think you cannot change, look around. Be prayerful and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Open your eyes to the people you may have overlooked.

Open your ears to the conversations in your workplace.

Open your heart to be moved with compassion.

Open your hands to do something.

Who is in your reach? Who can you impact positively by pausing for a brief conversation, a text of encouragement, a few hours of help on a project?

Jesus generously reached out to you and me. So pass it on to others.

True community, change, and joy generally starts by reaching or stepping out. So many people need your reach now.

This is something we all can do. Don’t miss out on the joy that generosity brings.