Invitation to Pray – Invitation to Grow

2016 Budget:  $441,580
Offerings to date:  $369, 842
What we still need for December:  $71, 738

These, simply, are the numbers regarding our current 2016 financial reality.  While they are, in one way, our current situation, there is another reality at work behind these numbers.  That is the simple truth that God provides and always has provided for us.  This should induce hope and faith, and dispel panic and worry.  It should not, however, cause us to become complacent.  The staff and Board of Directors diligently and prayerfully set budgets and keep track of expenses and income throughout the year, and each year around this time we are reminded of our dependence on God.  This annual reminder of our reliance on him in this way has changed us for the better – it’s formed us.  Yes, we all need to be diligent and faithful in our giving (thank you for that), but ultimately, it comes from him.

With that in mind we’d like to invite you to join us in holding our collective financial situation up to the Lord, knowing that as we do so, he hears us, provides for us and changes us.  The Staff, Pastoral and Lay Elders and the Board of Directors have been fasting and praying on Tuesdays.  You are invited to join us!

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-9-59-00-amThis call to prayer and fasting is not a manipulative attempt to get WCVers to “dig deeper”.  Far from it!  It is a call to lay our cares before the “Lord of the harvest” – to offer our concerns and cares up to him – and as we do so, we are changed.  We become more reliant on him.  We become more trusting in his provision.  Gratitude is stirred in us for the ways he does provide for us collectively.  The exciting opportunity is that we are changed in the process!  

Will you join us?

 

Lent – Becoming Fully Alive

Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Western Christian calendar. These 40 days (excluding Sundays) culminate in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.09.16 AMLent is about preparation, self examination and meditation on Jesus’ life and suffering. It’s about journeying with him to become like him. It’s about taking up our cross prior to being raised with him.  Before being raised to life on Sunday, Jesus was lifted up on Friday.

Our culture shuns anything that remotely hints of denial. “Why should I have to give up anything?” we ask, if not with words then through how we conduct our lives.  Examining the deep inner contours of our hearts is not something we do naturally – yet it is what followers of Jesus have done for centuries during this season and have found deep life in the process. This, of course, is the point.  Lent is about finding life – finding the true source of life – the very author of life himself.  In Lent we give up other embraces to make room to be more fully be embraced by Jesus.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.23.07 AMThis season, you may want to embark on a journey asking the question, “what in my life is crowding out the very source of life?” This is the essence of fasting – another practical marker of Lent.  Jesus wants to bring us to a place of being more fully alive and yet he won’t do it without our partnership.  As we posture ourselves toward him, the Holy Spirit will transform our self-centred lives into new lives of community and justice. Lent prepares us to live worshipful lives of compassion, generosity and all embracing love.  This sounds like a good definition of being fully alive to me – how about you?

 

Here are a few resources that may help you on the journey:

Lent: the road to the Cross  – a booklet prepared by the Vineyard UK.

Pray As You Go – a daily contemplative podcast that leads the listener through a series of meditative prayers and scripture readings.  Each episode is about 10 – 13 minutes long.  You can listen right from their website or subscribe to it via iTunes podcasts.

Lent for Everyone – this is an online devotional created by N.T. Wright.  It includes daily scripture and a well crafted and thoughtful devotion by one of the foremost New Testament scholars of our time.  (You have to sign up to view it)

Living Lent Daily – features prayers, thoughts and more each day to inspire you throughout your Lenten journey. A new article will become available daily throughout Lent.  These are quite short.

On the Mountain of the LORD – a call to Pray

There’s something powerful and unsettling about recognizing our own inadequacy. Abraham must have felt something of his own inability to provide, as he was witness to the miraculous conception and birth of his son Isaac. Abraham’s firstborn was God’s living, breathing promise – a skin and bone sign that God would honour his vow to make Abraham a father of many descendants. Imagine, then, what must have been going through Abraham’s head as he trudged obediently and perhaps reluctantly, up the mountain for three days to sacrifice Isaac. Was God going to turn back from his promise? Did God really ask this of him? Did he hear God correctly? What was going to happen when they got the top?

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 4.01.49 PMIn the end, God walks with Abraham into his greatest fear and delivers him from it. Instead of sacrificing his son, like other nations around him, God provides. Jehovah Jireh is the name Abraham uses for the LORD when he sees God’s provision in the form of a Ram for the sacrifice.

“On the mountain of the Lord, it was provided for” is what they still say of that event. “On the mountain of the Lord it was seen.” The connection between God providing and God seeing a need is deep. Jehovah Jireh can be translated equally, “God who provides” and “God who sees”. Abraham knew when God sees, he also provides. Whatever was going on in his heart that day, his actions declared, “the Lord will see to it”. This same idea caused the Hebrew people to cry out, “Remember us, O LORD” (Jer. 14:21) and “Hear us, O, LORD!” (1 Kings 8:30). As soon as God remembers, it is provided. As soon as he hears, it is provided. As soon as he sees, it is provided.

In this season, we are joining with Abraham and the ancient Hebrew nation in calling out for our financial provision. We are joining together to ask God to remember us, to hear us, to see us and, ultimately, to provide. We may not feel the same kind of desperation Abraham might have felt as he ascended the mountain, but we are confident we will see provision – that God knows our situation and will hear our prayers. He walks with us into our own inadequacy and meets us there. On the mountain of the Lord it was provided for – it was seen (Gen 22:14). Let it be so in our situation as well!

Please consider joining the Pastoral and Lay Elders as we fast and pray every Tuesday in December.

 

More with Less Fast – Invitation

The world around us always seems to want more from us, but gives less in return.  It may be your schedule demanding more from you.  Perhaps there are debtors wanting to be paid.  Maybe there is a situation in your life that requires a lot of extra energy and it’s simply draining you.  Or it may be one of the “stories” our society tells us – like the script that says the more money we have, the happier we will be.  Or the more we exercise, the more desirable we will be.  Or the more we drink, the easier it will be to forget.  But these never really work.  The more we feed these various appetites, the less we seem to get in return – we are less comforted, less happy, less satisfied and less fulfilled.

The Kingdom of God is the opposite.  The more we give ourselves to him and his Kingdom, the more joy, satisfaction, fulfillment and sense of his presence we get in return.  The more we are fully given to our Father and his Kingdom, the less we need all the other stuff.  It’s not that all the other stuff is necessarily bad.  Rather, when we look to all those other things to fill us, they can make us numb to his presence in our lives instead of giving us life.

You may ask, “what does this have to do with fasting?”  The answer is “everything!”  If you’re like me, when I think about fasting, images of suffering, discipline, pain, and self-denial fill my mind.  The end goal of fasting has been lost to the activity itself.  Like one who looses the forest for the trees, too often those who fast see only the lack, and miss the more!

The end goal of fasting is to open us up to more of God, not to make it through a week without eating or checking Facebook!  While, there is an element of giving up in fasting, this is never the whole picture.  There is always more, rather than less, when it comes to fasting.

surrender1In this “More with Less” fast, we are calling us to recapture the joy in fasting.  There is a beauty in the simplicity of sharing a meal with a stranger (in the Isaiah 58 sense) and there is a simple goodness in forgoing a meal in order to spend time with the Lord.

In your life, what dulls you to God’s presence?  Certainly, there are many things which have the power to either numb us or draw our attention towards God.  What might he be calling you to detach yourself from during this week of fasting so that you can more fully experience his “more” for your life?

We will begin this fast on Sunday, March 15 and finish on Saturday March 21.  We will have daily encouragements as well as a time to gather together to worship and pray in the evening of Wednesday, March 18.

It will be a week of revelry in the Holy Spirit as we dislodge our usual comforts and displace them with God’s comfort for us.

March 15 – 21

Join us!

 

Nepali Fast – Saturday

Drawing near to God:

Today is the last day of our fast – tomorrow we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!  But for today, reflect on what God has whispered to you this past week.  What has he done in you?  Where has he lead you?  What has he given you?  What has he said?

Drawing near to others:

Rice and DahlThis is what we (the School of Justice) ate for lunch on our first day here. It’s rice, dahl (lentil soup), a potato/vegetable dish, and an onion/chili pickle.  The entire plate of food costs 200 rupees ($2.26) and is considered a typical middle class meal here.  It’s a vegetarian meal; if it had chicken or eggs (for around an extra 100 rupees) it would be considered an upper class meal.

Today, let’s calculate what we saved on our grocery bills this week by eating less and simpler.  Bring in the money you saved and give it to the church (designate it “Nepal Fast”) and we will give it to our sister churches in the Himalayan Region.  We can tighten our belts, so they don’t have to tighten theirs.  We can eat a little less and more simply, so that the hungry there can be fed.  This is the kind of fast Isaiah 58 talks about.  This is the kind of fasting that get’s God’s attention!

Blessings on you as you give!  And may God hear your every prayer and come quickly to answer you (that’s a promise from Isaiah 58!).

 

Nepali Fast – Friday

Drawing near to God:

Cross Good FridayToday is the Friday that’s called Good.  The day Jesus was crucified.  Everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord must also “take up their cross” and follow him (Mt 16).  We are to follow his lead and embrace the path he travelled.  Jesus was crucified and went on to defeat death.  Thankfully we don’t have to defeat death (that’s already done) but we are still to follow him on this path.  What does this mean for you?  Where is Jesus leading you?  Pray that he gives you the strength to follow and remain faithful as you follow his lead.

You can contemplate this on the Walk of the Cross today from 3pm – 5pm.  Wear your walking shoes.

Drawing near to others:

Chipatis and PotatoeThis is what we (the School of Justice) ate for breakfast today. It’s chapatis (bread) with a potato dish. The entire plate of food costs 150 – 200 rupees (CAD $1.70 – $2.26) and is considered an upper class meal because it was cooked with fresh ingredients and clean water.  Noel told me (Suhail) that it’s a “quality breakfast.”  Those who are poor may eat this dish but it will not be with the same ingredients or the same level of freshness, and therefore not be of the same quality.

Pray for the leadership of the Himalayan Region Vineyard churches, that God would provide for all their needs as they trust Him and as many have had to sacrifice a great deal to pursue God’s call on their lives.

Nepali Fast – Thursday

Drawing near to God:

Canadas Heart BeatsManitoba’s new tourism slogan is “Canada’s Heart… Beats.”  It’s a good one.  It makes me think of the drum and how it echoes God’s heartbeat.  His heart beats too, and the reverberations go far beyond the borders of our Province to reach every nook and cranny of creation.  It’s not an irregular rhythm, nor is it random.  It is a singular thumping for the restoration of relationship between himself and us!  Can you hear it?  Can you feel it?  His heart beating for you.  Who else is it beating for?  Who in your life is God drawing your attention to now in this moment?  Pray that they too would draw near their Creator.

Drawing near to others:

IMG_7826When we (the School of Justice) went on outreach to Champi (a small village in the mountains just outside of Kathmandu), a woman who’s the mother of the first believer in the village served this to us.  It’s popcorn, black soy beans, dried mustard pickle, and sweet potato.  Noel said it would cost around 150 rupees (CAD $1.70) for the entire plate, which several of us ate from.
Pray for the believers in Champi and the Vineyard church there – that they’d continue to grow in Christ and that they’d see God’s kingdom come to their neighbours in the village through healing, deliverance, and faith in Jesus.

Nepali Fast – Monday

Welcome to the first full day of our Nepali Fast!  These daily updates are meant to inspire and inform us in our prayer and fasting activities this week.

Drawing Near to God

Draw near to GodPart of what it means to draw near to God is to pray that we have his heart – that we see the world from his perspective and are moved by it.  Somehow when we are close to him his heart is transferred to us.  What he cares about, we begin to care about.

Pay attention to the movements of your heart today.  Where is he inviting you closer?  What does he want to share with you?  In the activities of your day, pay attention to the moments his Spirit is whispering.

Drawing Near to Others

Part of our fast, by way of Isaiah 58, is meant to help us draw near to others in healthy ways.  Understanding the lives and burdens of our Nepali brothers and sisters will help knit together the bond of love we have.  Also, we want to pray for others.

Misal, Amit and Lakpa play in the Katmandu Vineyard courtyard.Today is the “Global 4-14 Day“.  It is a day to pray for the generation between the ages of 4 and 14.  Across the world, 71% of the people who are currently following Jesus begin to do so within this age range.

Today let’s pray for the kids and youth of the Himalayan Region and Winnipeg.

  • Reaching children – that Kids and youth would come to know and passionately follow Jesus.
  • Calling children – that God would sovereignly reveal himself.
  • Protecting children – from all manner of evil (slavery, malnutrition, gangs, prostitution, homelessness, hopelessness, etc).
  • Releasing children – to lead in prayer and praise.
  • Resourcing children – that God would send workers.
Photo Credits (excluding the hand): Matthew Sawatsky

Nepali Fast – Isaiah 58

Isaiah 58 Fast

April 13 – 20

In the bible, fasting and prayer usually go together. Fasting isn’t simply about the lack of food, or the lack of anything else for that matter, but rather an intensified focus, or shift in perspective from something temporal to God. It’s about bringing our attention to the Lord in a specific way for a particular time by reducing our dependence on something physical. Our physical hunger reminds us that we are really hungry for God.

It makes sense, then, that fasting and prayer go together. However, it seems that if our lifestyles are not extending grace, mercy and justice in practical ways, our fasting is distasteful to God. Isaiah helps bring clarity to this issue in chapter 58 where he links “true fasting” with feeding the hungry, sharing with the poor, keeping the Sabbath and in general, living justly.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
– when you see the naked,
to clothe them,
and not to turn away
from your own flesh and blood?

Nepali Fast

Nepal Woman and Child

This fast is an invitation to hold both fasting and care for the hungry together. To that end we invite you to participate in a very practical fast for one week – that is to eat at or below the level of the average Nepali person.

For just about all of us, this will mean eating less – less quantity as well as less variety.

The fast starts Sunday April 13 (with an evening of prayer and worship) and we’ll break the fast on Easter Sunday, April 20.

There are two objectives for this fast:

1) When we consume less, we can give more.

2) When we fast, we draw closer to God.

 

Consuming Less

Isaiah 58 makes it clear that we are to respond to the “hungry” in our world in practical ways.

God has linked WCV with the Himalayan Region Vineyards in a deep and profound way. Many of our brothers and sisters in this region live on minimal nutritional requirements. We are one body, and Paul admonishes us to “share each other’s burdens” (Gal 6). One way we can do this is to eat at their levels. This will allow us to consume less, while practicing solidarity with them.

Here are some facts and figures concerning the average Nepali that may help frame the conversation:

Canada’s average salary approx. $40,000 ($110 / day)
Nepal’s average salary approx. $1,200 ($3.30 / day)
25% of Nepal’s population live below poverty line of: $1.25 / day. (Nepal Bureau of Statistics)
Major concerns include little or no access to primary health care, education, clean drinking water and sanitation services. Food security and poor nutrition are major concerns, especially in rural areas. (IFAD)
Nepal has one of the highest early childhood mortality rates in the region.  2/3 of Nepali children are severely deprived and just under 40% live in absolute poverty.  50% of children under 5 are stunted and over 2/3 are underweight due to malnutrition. (Unicef)

By embracing their diet, we are in a way embracing our brothers and sisters in Nepal.  Eating their food in a way places them in the centre of our tables every day.

Nepal WCV Group

Giving More

By spending a week eating at these levels, most of us will have saved money on our grocery bills.  Keep track of what you save – or calculate it in whatever way makes sense to you.  Then we encourage you to donate it to WCV (mark it for Nepal) and we we will send it to Nepal to be used to feed those who are poor.

If you do not normally spend money getting your food, but have participated in this fast, we encourage you to give what you can to the “First Fruits” basket and the food will be shared at Drop-in.

Drawing Near to God

This fast is not just a clever way to raise money for those in need.  It can do something in us and to us.  As we turn ourselves towards God in prayer and fasting, we can be transformed.  Our prayer is that WCV will draw closer to God as we participate in this “fast that he has chosen”.

Throughout the week we will be having regular stories sent from the School of Justice, who will be in Nepal during this time.  They will give us short meditations to help us both understand the plight of the people there as well as God’s heart for them and us!

Preparing

Checklist for preparing for this week:

  • Put it on your schedules.
  • We will start the week with an evening of worship & prayer on Sunday, April 13, 7pm.
  • Do your grocery shopping beforehand (check the ingredients in the recipe in this booklet).
  • Calculate your normal weekly grocery bill and get ready to donate the savings.


Recipe – Dal Baht

Plain Rice (Bhat)

2 cups rice (Basmati or Long grain preferred)

4 cups water.

Lentils (Dal)

  • 1½ cups lentil (any kind), 4 to 5 cups of water, ½ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp minced garlic, 6 tbsp butter, 3/4 cup sliced onions, 2 chillies, salt to taste.
  • Wash lentils and soak lentil for 10 minutes – drain.

    Dahl

     

  • Add lentils to fresh water and bring to a boil.
  • Add all spices.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 – 30 mins (until lentils are soft).
  • Fry the onions, chilies and garlic in the butter & stir into the simmering lentils.