Thanksgiving in Canada officially became a holiday on January 31, 1957, when the Canadian Parliament declared: “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed—to be observed on the second Monday in October.”1
But as we know thanksgiving was celebrated long before it became a national holiday. The origin of this celebration aside, what really matters is that thanksgiving is a simple expression of gratitude, especially to God.
As a family of faith, gratitude and thanksgiving are familiar practices…
“Let your joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 TPT
These verses suggest a beautiful simplicity.
Joy, prayer, and giving thanks…
In the midst of everything.
Thanksgiving comes at a very busy time for Pastors, ministry leaders, and church communities—but, despite the timing, gratitude is a practice of paying attention, noticing, and naming the gifts around you.
“To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God…
To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it. And in the Bible to bless God is not a ‘religious’ or a ‘cultic’ act, but the very way of life.
God blessed the world, blessed man, blessed the seventh day…and this means that he filled all that exists with his love and goodness, made all of this ‘very good.’
So the only natural (and not ‘supernatural’) reaction of man, to whom God gave this blessed and sanctified world, is to bless God in return, to thank Him, to see the world as God sees it and—in this act of gratitude and adoration—to know, name, and possess the world.”2
Then all at once we know, those simple expressions of gratitude for people, events, situations, and life moments lead to joy—a continual feast.
Our prayer for you is that you would be surrounded by the Holy Spirit, have moments of peace in the midst of the busyness, and feast on the knowledge that “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.”3
The chill of the morning air lingers just a little longer before the strength of the sun reminds us summer isn’t quite over. The leaves are slowly turning, but you know that one morning when you open the blinds, everything will be coloured red, yellow, orange, and brown.
The dreaded first frost is holding off for now, but it won’t be too much longer before you have to scrape the thin layer of white before you drive. Or, you just might be one of those who starts the vehicle and lets the defrost do the work for you.
The patio furniture needs to be winterized, the garden needs to be fully harvested, and the rake needs to be swapped out with the shovel. Hoses wrapped, water lines turned off, and one final cut of the grass.
There is something inherently sad, but also a relief because the summer yard work is hard work. It’s nice not to have to remember to water, pull weeds, patch the grass, paint the deck or fascia on the house.
But you know as well as I that the work doesn’t disappear, it changes. It morphs into the tasks of another season.
Hanging the Christmas lights, raking the leaves—which quickly turns into shovelling the driveway and sidewalks. It’s making sure the fireplace pilot light is on or the wood is chopped. It’s blankets and cozy things that make their way into daily use.
And for us who work with a passion for the gospel, it’s special meetings, Alpha, Thanksgiving and Christmas outreaches. It’s making the church open to the community, a lighthouse, a warm and loving place where grace is extended and hope, ignited.
“I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responisbility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect [mature] in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”
Colossians 1:24-25; 28-29 NLT
You do what you do at personal cost many times, and that is right. Because according to this scripture, in order to serve the church, you are willing to:
Suffer for the church
Serve the church
Steward God’s Word faithfully
Strive for maturity in God’s people
Struggle and work hard
Sustained by God’s power at work within you
Though the work of every season changes; there is still a need for our Pastors and Church Leaders to be serving from a place of health. So as we head into the busy fall season there are three ways your ACOP Family can help today…
Your regional directors have been prayerfully placed in this position of support. They are there for advice, difficult conversations, and prayer. If you’re not sure who your regional director is, we’re happy to provide you with that information; email us.
You can reach out with a prayer request. ACOP leadership prays! We’re with you to support and trust God that He has all we need. Submit your prayer request through our members portal.
Clergy Care is a service we offer in partnership with Focus on The Family Canada. You have access to professional counsellors, articles on healthy routines in ministry, Kerith retreats, and resources for your ministry. You can access this resource by visiting our members portal.
Extending Grace & Igniting Hope happens when we are serving people with intention. As ACOP Family, we’re moving forward together…
“We acknowledge that the kingdom of God prefers collaboration, interdependence, and community. Whereas the kingdom of darkness prefers independence and individualism. We confess that too often we have chosen independence and individualism and done what was right in our own eyes, for this we repent. Lord, help us to recognize and demonstrate that we are better together.”
Science and statistics wave their unmagic wand across the face of life, squelching the oohs and aahs and replacing them with formulas and figures.
Would you like to see Jesus? Do you dare be an eyewitness of His Majesty?
Then rediscover amazement. The next time you hear a baby laugh or see an ocean wave, take note. Pause and listen as His Majesty whispers ever so gently, “I’m here.”
Max Lucado—God Came Near
A feeling of nostalgia is locked in our minds when we think back to our childhoods. There was wonder in the world when we first made discoveries and when we recall the crazy things we used to do—there is still a sizzle of excitement!
Jumping out of barn lofts, catching anything from frogs to snakes, or bugs. Eating outside, riding bikes, jumping in the lake, or…
Like Hazel’s article (Jesus The Healer), you remember the encounters with God that impacted and changed you!
We each have personal revelations about who He is, where He’s met our needs, spoken a word of peace or correction, or shown His love in unmistakable ways. And this God of love delights in continuing to show us how beautiful life can be.
Rediscovering amazement is not about nostalgia or wishing for what once was. It’s about savoring the simple things, noticing life through a gratitude filter—replacing hopelessness with joy.
It’s good to remember, but it’s also good for our souls to have a laugh around the supper table, to see the little birds around the bird bath—splashing and making noise. It’s good for us to notice the sunrise or sunset, to feel His love painted across the sky.
It’s the warm hand of your spouse or the sticky fingers of the little person in your life. It’s the worship that surrounds you in church on Sunday, causing a tear to fall in gratitude.
“We were not retelling some masterfully crafted legend when we informed you of the power and apprearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we saw His magnificense and splendor unveiled before our very eyes.”
2 Peter 1:16 TPT
We tell others that God wants to show Himself to them, and then we forget to look for Him ourselves, not pointing fingers, just saying that the same God whose magnificence and splendor was on display for the disciples is right there for our discovery too.
I once spent five minutes searching desperately for my cell phone, complaining the whole time about it being missing, to my girlfriend, who I was talking to on my cell phone. This went on until she timidly asked “Are you using your phone right now?” It was such an out-of-body experience, I just hung up.
Eeeps—sometimes we’re so distracted that we don’t know what we’re doing. Put your hand up if you’ve done one of those! You’re not alone.
Many years ago I had to do a presentation. When I got to the meeting and opened my briefcase, I realized I had been carrying a backgammon board all morning.
How about that? Have you ever been too busy to notice?
In the middle of the night, George was pacing back and forth in his room, unable to sleep. this woke his wife, who asked him why he couldn’t sleep. He replied, “You know that thousand dollars I borrowed from Bob next door? Well it’s due tomorrow, and I don’t have it, and I’m anxious and can’t sleep.” His wife said, “Honey, I have the solution.” She opened up the window and yelled to the house next door. “Bob, wake up.” A light went on in the house next door and Bob stuck his head out of his window. She continued, “You know that thousand dollars my husband owes you? Well, he doesn’t have it!” Then she closed her window and turned to her husband. “There, now let him pace the floor and you go to sleep.”
Worry and stress cause you to think (and walk) in circles, and if tripled with sleeplessness, it creates some hard days ahead. No one is alone in these feelings. These small stories only serve as an illustration of how crazy, stressful, and busy life can be at moments.
The following descriptive passage of scripture (make sure you read it slowly), puts a special light on what Jesus wants for us.
“The apostles returned from their mission and gathered around Jesus and told Him everything they had done and taught. There was such a swirl of activity around Jesus, with so many people coming and going, that they were unable to even eat a meal. So Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while.'”
Mark 6:30-31 TPT
Jesus recognized that they needed a break, a secluded place, and some much-needed rest. The word rest, Anapauó, means to give rest, give intermission from labour, and by implication refresh.
The disciples were on mission (so are you), they were doing and teaching (yes, again), loving and serving people (your community).
You have a list (and probably always will) and we understand that sometimes the work must continue, that rest is still a way off, and that you’re giving your life to what matters.
But, there is still a call to rest. This is simply a friendly reminder that Canadian summers are so short, take moments, and hopefully at least a week to stop, rest, refresh, and pause from your labours.
“The same way a loving father feels toward his children—that’s but a sample of your tender feelings toward us, your beloved children, who live in awe of you. You know all about us, inside and out. You are mindful that we’re made from dust.“
Psalms 103:13-14 TPT
We pray that you find rest this summer. Thanks for all you do.
Through the tiny squares of window screens, invading the venting system of vehicles, peppering the leaves of all plants in the yard, and clinging to the bottom of our shoes.
There are many trees in my neighbourhood, and the elm trees are happily releasing all their little yellow-green pollen spores to the world.
I’ve not noticed the proliferation of such pollen before, which is a wonder this year. It’s amazing how the conditions on a year-to-year basis cause trees and plants to respond to the growing season in different ways.
Sometimes it’s a great growing year, and other times it’s not.
For example, the same conditions by which the Elm tree pollen is prolific are the same conditions (including all the wind and rain), in which the immature pinecones from the pine trees have been blown to the ground. These pinecones will not mature and bear seeds as they were meant to. Future generations of the pines will be affected by the seeds that never were.
Ok, maybe I’m being dramatic, but you know what I mean. 😉
I’ve been noticing the same type of patterns, and growing seasons in my own life, and I know you see it too, in your own life! And I got to thinking that all the pollen, should be much like the Holy Spirit…
“So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for His purposes. And don’t live foolishly for then you will have discernment to fully understand God’s will. And don’t get drunk with wine, which is rebellion; instead be filled continually with the Holy Spirit. And your hearts will overflow with a joyful song to the Lord. Keep speaking to each other with words of Scripture, singing the Psalms with praises and spontaneous songs given by the Spirit! Always give thanks to Father God for every person he brings into your life in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Epesians 5:15-20 TPT
Growing and gardening teach us so much, not just about the natural world but also about our spiritual lives. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16)—making Him just like the pollen—covering everything and like pollen’s purpose, to bring new life, there is no fruit without pollination! Hello, Fruit of the Spirit!
The scripture above asks us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. How? Joyful songs, scripture, more singing, and surrounding yourselves with good people. Listen, I know I’m making this sound simplistic, but the reality is that the Holy Spirit was sent to us, He is with you, now.
I remember when, young in my faith, and growing up on the farm, our neighbour’s horse got tangled in her lead and spooked. We were all playing nearby and this huge, Arabian, charging horse was coming right for us!
Holy Spirit clearly spoke to me and told me to grab my younger siblings and climb the dirt hill in our yard. As I stood on the top, still shaking with fear and adrenaline, He whispered to me again that the horse was not going to break its stride to climb the hill, sure enough, I witnessed the horse, in a full gallop, come near the hill and pass by into the fields behind.
I was surrounded. And still am. Now I know the Holy Spirit doesn’t “sneak,” but He is a part of my life and He fills the spaces where He is invited, pollinating, and helping me to bear fruit.
And we all have the choice to take full advantage of every day, spending our lives for His purpose.
Declare a holy fast; call a solemn asssembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.
Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
Joel 1:14 NIV; Psalms 79:8-10 NIV
Century—a big word all on its own. One hundred, year after year, those who served before now in the presence of Jesus, and we, continuing the work but also inviting change and the correction of the days ahead.
“We are ACOP and what we become in our second century is up to us—we have no destiny apart from our shared destiny.”
Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he as become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 TPT
All that is related to the old order is vanished, that includes our identity—which was discussed during the Solemn Assembly—names are about identity and identity brings purpose. What name did you allow the Holy Spirit to give you?
Sin vanishes too, along with Satan’s power—
So, we can boldly declare that NO…
Denominational distinctive will be placed above the mission—Gone!
Independent and insular attitudes—No more sowing to the wind!
Neglecting to prioritize evangelism and disciple-making—Plunder Hell!
Mishandling of sexual sin—Biblical Correction!
Resisting the work of the Holy Spirit—Fresh and New!
The religious works of trying to please God disappear when we become enfolded into Christ. Keeping the main thing—the main thing! The confidence we have is grounded in the truth that we are not reformed or refurbished (the old just waiting to break through), but we are made completely new, enfolded into Christ and the indwelling, or permanent presence of the Holy Spirit.
ACOP has remained faithful to the Word of God—desiring to know the scriptures and the power of God. We have faithfully lifted up the name of Jesus and championed the message of the Grace of God.
We have also faithfully sent out Global Workers, and even sent out youth and young adults through Street Invaders and LifeForce Teams.
We won’t stop doing these things—but, behold everything is fresh and new! We have renewed our covenant with the Lord and we resolve that by God’s grace our future will be different from our past.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomems I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone an new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.
Revelation 2:17 ESV
White stones, new names, shared destiny, and the ministry of reconciling others to God—what a century ahead!
If you missed or would like to watch our Solemn Assembly again, follow this link.
Note the new names given to our members on May 17, 2022!
Spring brings rain, and with it the awakening of life. Life flourishes, thrives, and is thirsty, making the world green all around us. When the sun recovers the sky, we glory in the warmth—the death of winter forgotten, like it never was.
In spring, the death of one we love is never so contrasted. The ACOP Family has lost one of its own, a leader with a hand to the plow, and many across our fellowship are grieving.
The book of Lamentations comes to mind, as we lament; the Hebrew title of this book ‘ekah’ (How…!)—becoming relevant.
Our humanity on this side of life is never so apparent—very real and natural questions surface at times of great sorrow. The expression of our questions is what the Lord wants, He is not afraid of our big questions…
But we must not forget that He is our Hope!
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”…For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.”
Lamentations 3:20-24; 31-33 TPT
This passage of scripture is in the middle of the book, in the middle of it all, in the middle of the mess, in the middle of the grief—a timely reminder that you will find the goodness of God.
He is the Lord of hope, the God of love. He is faithful and His mercies are there every morning. He is your inheritance—specifically, salvation and restoration. He shows compassion coupled with unfailing love.
When you find yourself in the middle allow your heart to say, “I will hope in Him!”
This world does not make sense without Jesus…
“When I was first converted, and for some years afterward, the second coming of Christ was a thrilling idea, a blessed hope, a glorious promise, the theme of some of the most inspiring songs of the church. Later it became an accepted tenet of faith, a cardinal doctrine, a kind of invisible trademark of my minstry. It was the favourite arena of my theological discussions, in the pulpit and in print. Now suddenly the second coming means something more to me. Paul called it ‘the blessed hope.’ But today it appears as the only hope of the world.
From the human standpoint, there is no solution for the problems of the world. Leaders seem to be completely frustrated in trying to deal with the unrest and increasing violence in society.
The only complete and permanent solution is found in the return of Christ. When He comes, He will set up His kingdom. He will rule the nations in righteousness, and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
As the waters cover the sea, abundant, filling its borders, like rain in spring that brings a flourish of life, this truth remains…
Spring is a beautiful season, the sun draws closer to our earth, snow melts, green begins to show, and the long winter days are soon forgotten.
There are tulips of every colour begging to be added to the center of your Easter table and the Easter bunny can be seen around every corner.
But it’s not the Easter bunny you’re looking for—you came here for one sentence…
Father God, full of love, gave His Son to be the sin offering for us—a Son both God and man that died a sinners death on the cross so that you and I could live a life free of guilt and shame—a life made right with Father God.
The Bible—God’s very own inspiration contains important scriptures in the New Testament that verify the sentence above…
“For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God through our union with Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 TPT
And these verses…
“But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly! So if while we were still enemies, God fully reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son, then something greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, and because we share in His resurrection life, how much more we will be rescued from sin’s dominion! And even more than that, we overflow with triumphant joy in our new relationship of living reconciled to God—all because of Jesus Christ!”
Romans 5:8,10,11 TPT
Jesus was made sin; NOT a sinner, but the sacrifice for sin—why?
A beautiful, divine exchange happened on the cross, the Son of God who knew no sin, became sin, and we who have no righteousness on our own…
So that we might become the righteousness of God.
Regular people like you and me carry the righteousness of God! Oh, what a trade that ended in our favour—something greater than friendship is ours…
I am chosen—Ephesians 1:4
I am His Handiwork— Ephesians 2:10
I am blessed with every spiritual blessing—Ephesians 1:3
I am forgiven—Ephesians 1:7
I am promised peace in my heart and mind—Philippians 4:7
I am complete—Colossians 2:10
I find rest in Him—Hebrews 4:9
When I am weak, I am strong—2 Corinthians 12:10
I am loved—Galatians 2:20
God speaks to the core of who we are—you are exactly what He wants, you are the reason He came and died, and you are His great love! So let’s soak up the joy of this season, and renew our Hope!
“Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; nor Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy—but the Father, for love!”
Easter in one word?
P.S. You just might enjoy this 4-day devotional Easter Hope!
Recently, my wife, Helene, returned from shopping with a story we can all relate to—whichever side of the fence we’re on.
She was waiting in line to pay, behind an older gentleman. The cashier told the man to pull his mask up, apparently for a second time. He complained he has trouble because he wears glasses. I get that!
The cashier pointed out she was wearing glasses too. The man just grumbled more. As he left, the cashier said to him, “Have a good day!” The older gent just grumbled more saying, “I haven’t had a good day in a long time, the time of good days is long past.”
What a sorry lament, but one many feel after two long years of COVID and restrictions. After he left, the worker just shook herself and said she was sick and tired of grumpy customers. Helene responded to her and said the following:
Don’t let grumpy people bother you, we’ve still got lots of things to be thankful for!
There are those who are thankful you do a good job.
We will get through this!
The cashier responded heartily with, “YES—WE—WILL!” She brightened up and thanked Helene and said, “You have an awesome weekend!”
This woman appreciated the encouragement and reminder we will get through this. It gave her hope. Whether COVID-related or any problem we have in life, we need hope that we’ll get through.
If you have hope you will:
Have staying power.
Resist the temptation to quit.
Continue to search for a strategy to get through your problem.
Survive and thrive!
However, the absence of hope can lead to emotional surrender and a slow death emotionally.
Recently Bell Canada had its yearly ‘Let’s Talk’ promotion encouraging open discussion about mental health. We’re all aware of the increase in opioid deaths. Many are experiencing depression and we Christians aren’t immune. Christian leaders are struggling too, and many are leaving ministry altogether. Hopelessness has made a home in our society.
We need to go back to God’s Word which says, “There is Hope!” Consider Romans 5:3-5 (NLT):
3“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
5And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Verse three is one of those ‘fun’ verses that tell us we can ‘rejoice’ in our problems, trials, and tribulations. I’m not very good at rejoicing when I have problems. I feel them. I can get stressed out and even lose sleep over them. But I pray about them too!
The question before us then is, “How can we rejoice in our problems?” We can if we have hope for a positive outcome! That’s the key! Hope is the key! However, if we can’t see a positive outcome:
We will be empty of hope.
We will feel it’s going to end badly.
We may feel trapped in our situation. Stuck in a mire of emotional stress.
We may wish to just walk away, quit, and end it. People walk away from jobs, ministries, marriages, all because they don’t see a way out of their stress.
Hope sees light at the end of the tunnel and knows it’s not the next train coming your way! Romans 5:3-5 illustrates that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It progresses from our troubles and suffering, moves onward until finally saying our hope will not be disappointed—because we know God’s transcending love!
There is something profoundly simple about God’s message of hope in Romans. It’s profound if we ask one simple question. The question is, “Why?” Why did the Lord tell us this? The answer is simple too. The Lord told us this because He knew there would be times when we would not have hope! He knew there would be times when we would question:
Will it work?
Will everything turn out alright?
Will it ever end?
Will God come through for me? Remember you are not so unique that God expects you to struggle on your own. You need Him. And you need others too!
Will God come through for me, or am I too sinful or have I failed too often?
The Lord knew there would be times we’d wonder, “Do I have eternal life or does this problem have eternal life?” Have hope! No trial enjoys eternal life!
God knew we would have times when we would not feel hope. Therefore, He told us, He told you and He told me . . . “if you put your hope in him you will not be disappointed!” He knew there would be times we’d need to remember this! Take hope in God!
God knows there will be times when:
You are sick, so He said He’d heal you.
You’d feel all alone, so He said He’d never leave you.
You’d feel unloved or rejected, but remember, nothing will separate you from His love.
You’d feel great anxiety, but He extends His supernatural peace for you.
You’d feel things are so messed up, but He said, “all things work together for good . . .”
You’d feel so broken, but He is near the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:18).
You’d feel overwhelming sadness, but He said He would turn your mourning into dancing!
You’d feel you’ve blown it and sinned too much, but He said:
He loves you…always.
He will forgive you…again.
He will help you overcome this…too.
The Lord knew you’d have those times when it felt hopeless. Anticipating those times, He gave exceeding great and precious promises for you to take hope in! You will get through this, so take hope!
Peter Barbour lives in Aylmer, Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Helene, have pastored the Aylmer Full Gospel Church since 1981, and prior to that, planted a church in Simcoe, Ontario. He is an ordained member of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada.
He has two married, adult children—who are wonderful, and seven amazing grandchildren.
He enjoys family, reading, walking, and travelling.