Encourage one another in Christ

The gift of prayer

Our LWMLC society has a program called Penny Petal which members are encouraged to donate coins to give thanks for the birthdays, anniversaries of themselves or any family member. The contributions are used to purchase flowers on the altar for special occasions. The coins are collected at the end our meeting and a prayer is spoken. The Penny Petal prayers, read from lined paper with a German accent, are written by a special lady who captures in the prayers the seasons of the year, the church and the blessings and trials of the congregation. These prayers often contain verses from hymns or are written by her. Irma is now 90 years living in assisted care and not able to attend our meetings, but she has saved her prayers and we are blessed to continue to utilize them. So, I share this gift of hers with you.

November 2012

In a myriad of miraculous ways God shapes our lives and changes our days.

Beyond our will, or even knowing, God keeps our spirits ever growing

For lights and shadows, sun and rain, sadness and gladness, joy and pain

Combine to make our lives complete and give us victory through defeat.

Oh, love divine, Oh love excelling, in troubled hearts you just keep dwelling

Patiently waiting for a prodigal Son, to say at last, thy will be done.

Dear heavenly Father,

We thank you again for all your blessings and challenges we are facing today. Thank you for your protection and guidance. In our world of darkness, we hear plenty of devastating earthquakes, floods, senseless violence, murder, child abuse and fighting one country against another where innocent people’s lives are lost. Good news is seldom. But Jesus was born to lighten up even the darkest corner of the world and through His love there is peace between God and man. Soon we will approach the season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ our Saviour. May we always be prepared to share this Good News. We pray for all the people who seem to be walking in darkness. Their holiday seems to permeate thinking of only me, me, me. By the grace of our heavenly Father we pray for those people that they open their hearts toward Jesus Christ because He alone is the light of the world. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross gives us love, teaches us love and empowers us to love. Lead us in your love, Lord Jesus as we love others in your name. Gracious heavenly Father, your mercies and blessings are countless. You have given your body and life and made us you own, through Jesus Christ our Lord. We thank you for all the birthdays and anniversaries in our church family. We thank you again for the precious gift of life. Tender and gentle Shepherd hold us in your arms, carry us when we have lost our way and guide us through to the path that leads to you. Amen

I often fumble when called upon to pray in public. Thankfully, the Lord understands those fumbles and   I am thankful to the Lord for those who have the gift of prayer.

Irma Barten as given to Annette – Manitoba

New Year Resolutions

 Did you ever wonder where the tradition of making resolutions for the new year started? Apparently, the Babylonians began this tradition 4,000 years ago. They are the first recorded to hold celebrations for the new year which were not in January but March when the crops were planted.

The top resolutions for the new year today usually deal with exercise, healthy eating, or losing weight. It takes 66 days for a habit to become automatic. Eighty percent of New Year resolutions fail by the second week of February. I have certainly been in that 80% often. I do not want to get caught in the trap of making another resolution. Who likes to fail? None of us do but I do have goals; goals to strengthen my faith journey and to encourage others in my faith family.

These Googled resolutions for 2021 had many suggestions that would grow my Christian walk:

  1. Snail mail – Receiving mail from the post office still brings joy and excitement. Write a note to family, friends or to some shut-ins. Send notes of encouragement to essential workers, e.g., healthcare workers, gas station attendants, hairdressers, store clerks.
  2. Try something new – Learn a new craft, sewing, crocheting, or knitting. Use your new skill to benefit others, e.g., masks, ear savers, prayer shawls, hats and mitts for the homeless. Take a cooking class and make crockpot meals for low-income families or a family going through a rough patch.
  3. Theme verses – Memorize Bible verses, join a Bible study group. Our Christian Growth Committee holds a Beverage and Bible Study online. The Member Development Committee has a weekly planner for sale that focuses on a Bible verse each week. Get involved with your church Bible study or invite a friend for coffee and a short Bible devotion.
  4. Fast from spending – Curb that extra spending and support a charity. Instead of a drive thru coffee, manicure/ pedicure or a new purse/shoes set the money aside for a charity. LWMLC has some wonderful mission projects, support Canadian Lutheran World Relief or a Food Bank.
  5. Declutter – We all have those items or clothes we no longer use or need. Donate to a homeless shelter or women shelter.
  6. Journal a line a day – Start a gratitude journal and thank the Lord for all the blessings we receive daily.

Though we may fail at our New Year resolutions God still loves us. We sin daily but God still loves and forgives us. What is important is that God has kept His resolution – the promise that He sent His only Son to earth as a little Baby to be our Saviour, a Saviour who went to the cross for our shortcomings so we may have eternal life with Him in Heaven. That is a resolution that will never fail.

Annette, Manitoba

It was challenging for my husband and me getting our pre-teen and two teen boys to church this morning.  The logic of their older sister staying home to do homework with a friend while they went to church 45 minutes away in Montreal to respect our reserved in-church places didn’t sit too well. Finally there were two positive outcomes from the earlier morning dissatisfaction:

1. Pierre and I learned that advanced planning not only helps adults but also helps young people prepare and anticipate upcoming duties and events;

2. God saw to reward our parental follow-through for attending church in person today. One of our church friends whom we drove home treated us to Thai sandwiches and giant almond cookies! That was even after the boys waited half an hour for us parents talking after church to pastor and others.

So this is your encouragement to hold firmly to what you believe even when it’s hard. Your kids, grandkids, neighbours and friends are seeing what you’re made of and God, through trials, is strengthening your faith.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Fidèle à travers le confinement et la vie de tous les jours!

Ce dimanche matin il était difficile pour mon mari et moi d’amener notre pré-ado plus nos deux adolescents à l’église. La logique selon laquelle leur sœur aînée restait à la maison pour faire ses devoirs avec un ami pendant que nous allions pendant 45 minutes à Montréal pour honorer nos places réservées dans l’église, n’était pas très bonne. Enfin, l’insatisfaction du matin a eu deux résultats positifs:

1. Pierre et moi avons appris que la planification faite au paravant aide non seulement les adultes, mais aussi les jeunes à se préparer et à anticiper les tâches et les événements à venir;

2. Dieu a choisi de nous récompenser tous ensemble pour notre suivi parental pour aller à l’église en personne aujourd’hui. Une de nos amies paroissiennes que nous avons ramenés chez elle nous a offert des sandwichs thaïlandais et des biscuits aux amandes géants! C’était même après que les garçons aient attendu 1 / 2h après le service lorsque nous discutions avec le pasteur et d’autres paroissiens.

Voici donc votre encouragement à vous tenir ferme à ce que vous croyez, même lorsque c’est difficile. Vos enfants, petits-enfants, voisins et amis voient de quoi vous êtes fait et Dieu, à travers les épreuves, renforce votre foi.

Jacques 1:12 Béni soit celui qui persévère dans l’épreuve car, ayant résisté à l’épreuve, cette personne recevra la couronne de vie que le Seigneur a promise à ceux qui l’aiment.

Rena, Quebec

Bonus Post

A weekly planner has been created by the Member Development Committee of LWML-Canada – a handy place to keep track of your “to do” lists and reminders of appointments and such. Following is the prologue taken from the planner explaining how it is so much more than just that. Order now to start January 1 or order at any time…the pages allow you to insert the dates.

The planner may be ordered from the LWMLC Resource Centre via resourcecentre@lutheranwomen.ca. The code is M-20-11, and the cost is $15 plus shipping and handling.

What you are holding in your hands is a gift; a gift of God’s Word that will stand the test of time. Guaranteed. Let this weekly planner be more than a place to write your reminders, your to dos and other what nots. Inside you will see a variety of Bible verses (ESV) carefully selected, not only for your reading enjoyment, but for your continued learning of God’s Word.

Why take the time to learn and memorize these Bible verses? First, we are specifically instructed to memorize Scripture. Colossians 3:16 (ESV) says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching ad admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Memorization is the means for allowing the word to dwell within.

Next, memorization of the Word provides us with the weapons to fight spiritual attacks. St. Paul paints a picture of what we should put on to prepare for our daily walk. More specifically, he states that we are (to put on) “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17 ESV). Our most defensive weapon in our walk is the word of God.

Finally, having a variety of Bible verses in our memory bank will allow us to help others learn about the Good News. We are to be ready with the word, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV).

Helping others is what we do as members of LWMLC as featured in our motto. This motto, selected in 1993, is “Called to Serve,” based on Deuteronomy 10:12 NIV, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Let us now embrace, cherish and memorize God’s Word as we celebrate the gift of each day.

Amy Boudreau, LWMLC Member Development Committee

Let Us Fix Our Eyes on Jesus

From the cross to the grave,

Jesus gave His life to save

The world from its gloomy destiny!

How can we comprehend-

The Son of God sacrificed

For the sins of all including me?

He carried all the world’s sins

To the cross on Calvary.

Only God can fathom such agony!

Nailed to the cross, Jesus said,

 “Father forgive them

for they know not what they do.”

In total obedience to His Heavenly Father,

He fulfilled His lifelong mission

To pay the price of our redemption.

The sky turned black!

The temple veil tore in two!

The earth shook asunder!

Graves released the dead!

Astounding wonder!

Such power, such strength

In his humble disgrace.

May His Spirit help us to appreciate –

God’s everlasting LOVE!

Laid in a cold and stony grave;

Sealed with a stone rolled in the way.

All hope was shattered, lost?

Sorrow of sorrows,

As His followers mourned;

Trembling in fear till

That first Easter morn.

But, up from the grave He arose!

Christ overcame death and the grave!

Now death, where is your sting?

“Victory in Jesus!”, we forever will sing.

“Alleluia!”

                                ~Irene Warpula (April 2020)

Run with Endurance

“…..Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

On earth we run the marathon
Through many ups and downs
With Heaven’s host our witnesses
And Christ our golden crown --
God’s Word alone coaches us well
By Faith alone we see
That Christ alone our Saviour is
Who earned our victory --
Sometimes we stumble or fall flat
And stamina seems gone
But Word and Sacrament give strength
That helps us to run on
Toward the prize that waits for us
Across the finish line
The prize Christ died and rose to give:
Eternal life sublime –
So look to Jesus and the goal
Of Paradise to come
Cheered on by those already there
Who wave the “Welcome Home!”

Verla – Saskatchewan

If you have encouraging words to share, send them to Annette at vpmemberdevelopment@lutheranwomen.ca.

I remember an LWML convention in Edmonton where each morning, after leaving the hotel, a group of us would walk by some homeless men sitting on a wall. They would call to us and we would ignore them, heads averted, and walk by. I have often thought about that time and that we missed an excellent opportunity to speak with these men. Today I would not hesitate to begin a conversation. “Hello. My name is Edna. What brought you here?” I talk to people wherever I am – in the Costco line, in elevators. I just speak about simple things. How easy is that!

In 2017, my husband and I left our ranch in the foothills of Alberta and settled into a two-bedroom condo in Lethbridge. Initially there was much to do – downsizing and reallocating possessions, and just get established in a new place. Even though there was family about, activities and courses at a seniors’ centre and in the condo, travelling and Bible study at Immanuel Lutheran, our new church home, I felt increasingly without a purpose in life. I cried to the Lord asking Him to give me something to do.

I had an old computer but did not want to connect to the Internet immediately, so I joined the Lethbridge Public Library and used the computer there. That got me out of the condo at least once a week. While in the library one day I noticed they had a literacy program called Read On that was asking for volunteers. My husband Mark and I registered for the two-day weekend seminar. Mark volunteered to tutor math, while I agreed to help teach English. My first assignment came in January of 2019. We were warned not to become involved with our students. We were to get them to read books and write essays in preparation for their exams to become Canadian citizens.

Torben, in his late sixties, came from Denmark. His English was limited, and he was more interested in talking than reading so when we met each week we talked for an hour or more. He would also write stories about his life and I would edit them…a great way to get to know his life story.

Torben had been a ward of the state and received a limited education. As a youth he worked as a cook’s assistant on a tanker ship in the Mediterranean, travelling between Italy and Lebanon. He visited Vietnam and nearly died from a bad reaction to an antimalarial drug. He described a vacation in Indonesia where he took pictures that I found amazing; he is an excellent photographer. Eventually Torben became an entrepreneur, operating a security lock business which employed many people. He was married four times and has four children – one from each marriage.

Near the end of 2017 he came to Canada on the invitation of his son who was living in Medicine Hat, Alta. This son promised to sponsor him to become a Permanent Resident, but they had a falling out and Torben moved to Lethbridge.

Pastor Lee Loveridge came from Kelowna and preached a series of sermons for Easter weekend. His Maundy Thursday and Good Friday sermons inspired me to invite Torben, via email, for Easter Sunday. Sunday morning came and Mark and I went to church. Torben joined us. After the service, a brunch was served and Torben was introduced to several people. He liked Pastor Lee immediately and since then has attended church regularly, even when Mark and I do not accompany him.

We now consider Torben a member of our family. He calls us regularly or emails and we joke about our frequent communication.

Torben has been living in Canada on a Visitor’s Visa and, with my help and that of Lethbridge Immigration, he has secured two extensions but eventually that will run out. His son had not followed up on the permanent residency and when they met with a consultant and the son learned that, if it was granted, he would be responsible for his dad for 20 years, he became angry and refused to be his father’s sponsor. Since the rules say only a relative can become a sponsor it seemed a dead end but going back to Denmark has its own complications.

My husband and I pray often for God to help Torben. I have written letters to the Ministry of Immigration and Refugees offering to sponsor him. It an anxious time, especially for Torben, with no clear direction.

I believe God calls us to serve others in many and various ways. When God called Isaiah, the prophet responded by saying, “Here am I. Send me.” I asked God to give me something to do. “Here am I. Send me.” And He did, to talk with Torben and many others.

Edna, Alberta

Busy as a bee

A fine example was given us as Jesus would often go off by himself in the early mornings to pray. Winter, spring, summer or fall, I enjoy my early morning walks with my dog. This is my time to reflect, meditate and collect my thoughts before the world awakes and starts demanding my time and energy.

During these walks I marvel at God’s wonderful creation – fluffy white snowflakes floating down to earth, the first call of the Canada goose as it ushers in spring, or the musty smell of harvested grain in fall. This summer morning, I noticed a bee flying from wildflower to wildflower spreading pollen to bring forth new creations. The busy bee continued about its business, never seeing the accomplishments of its labour. Sweet honey is the reward at the end of its labour.

I was soon pondering – we as Christians should be busy bees spreading pollen, God’s Word, in our daily activities from person to person, sharing that life-giving Word, letting the Holy Spirit germinate the heart, giving that free gift of sweet honey, Jesus blood-bought redemption, that we may have eternal life with Him in heaven.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 119:105: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Do you hunger for God’s Word and its freely given promise of Life with Christ in heaven? Do you share that sweet Word?

Annette – Manitoba

If you have encouraging words to share send them Annette at vpmemberdevelopment@lutheranwomen.ca.

Encourage each other

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13).

Are you finding it hard to be encouraged?

Sometimes we get so discouraged with the events happening around us that we sink into a state of despair. Rather than being thankful and appreciative for the kind words of a friend we are resentful that our life isn’t what we think we deserve and their words of encouragement seem to exacerbate our situation and drive us deeper into despair. We become afraid. Satan encourages us to believe his lies and perpetuates our fear…God doesn’t care about us or He would remove the terrible things happening to us and our loved ones.

The Holy Spirit comes to us through God’s Word which is sometimes spoken to us by our true friends. God’s Word tells us in Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” We are reminded how God has been with us in the past and we become encouraged by the gift of friendship, just as Titus was encouraged in 2 Corinthians 7:13 “because His spirit has been refreshed by all of you.”

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing

(1 Thessalonians 5:11).

In the societies of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League-Canada we encourage each other through prayer, fellowship and God’s word which enables us to reach out and encourage others through our giving and service to all God’s children, believers and non-believers.

How you encourage God’s children? Consider sharing your story. Send it to vpmemberdevelopment@lutheranwomen.ca and it will be shared via this blog in a future posting.

Penny – BC

Summer: A Time of Hope and Joy

Summer has come too quickly and has developed into a new world of refreshing colours, textures, and beauty. I sat at the cottage in June so eager to get away from my “bubble” (a consistent group of people we spend time with because of COVID-19). The sun was out shining on the lake many of the mornings. The lake offered miles of trees around me and I was overwhelmed by the beauty God had given me during those days. How many shades of greens and blues has He created I often asked myself? I couldn’t count! The time of day, the sun, the shade, the wind dancing in the trees added to the many colours I was seeing. It dawned on me that He had also given me just as many blessings, hopes and joys in my life.  Each morning as I enjoyed these times of peace, it reminded me of this Proverb and brought an overwhelming comfort, to my life in a world of ever-changing chaos.

“A joyful heart makes a face cheerful” (Proverbs 15:13 NIV).

What is happening in your life, as you increase your “bubble”? Where are you finding that place to regroup, reflect, and talk with God?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV).

Our country is adding stages to our lives; we are getting ready to reopen. But, not too fast is the reoccurring response by many, yet we want to return to that safe life we use to have. Will it ever be the same again? God didn’t promise us a life without challenges, but He did give us the tools to cope with what life brings us. That is what the lake does for me, it reminds me of what is important, who is important and tells me to take the time so that God can fill me with hope, joy and peace. I look forward to returning to those beautiful colours of nature very soon and sharing it with family, friends and sit with God and thank Him for the blessings He has given me. I look forward to you telling me about your special place and how you use it. As you think about where it is, Google Roman 15:13, as well as hymns and enjoy the beauty of the music created from this verse. My favourite was the Benediction Song.

“As you Trust in Him”

Pam O., Ontario District Member Development

If you have encouraging words to share, please send them to Annette at vpmemberdevelopment@lutheranwomen.ca.