After the busy of Christmas, the winter season can seem long, the snow becomes dreary, your neighbours are no longer turning on their twinkle lights, the cheery decor comes down, and the gathering of family and friends slows down.
It can be a time of loneliness, and of late, many in our ACOP Family have suffered loss, become sick, or have a family member that is struggling this winter season.
But there are gentle reminders in the Word…
“Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, ‘Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!’ It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.”
Psalms 139:7-12 MSG
When we are suffering or walk through suffering with someone we love there is a heavy price paid in stress, anxiety, depression, and the need to control circumstances. Wisdom doesn’t come easily—that’s exactly why we should pause…
And be reminded that your darkness isn’t dark to Him.
What matters most is prioritizing your spiritual health—reading, praying, trusting, looking for His light, crying, grieving, and longing for the comfort of the God who finds you in a minute (no matter how far you go).
And you can rely on the fact that God does find you, just as He always does. Without pain? No. Without questions and doubts? Not always. Then how? Most often, through His people. Meals, financial needs, time, friendship, a clean house, cards, hugs, and prayer.
Oh, what would we do without this great God of ours? If you’re the one in need—accept the help. And if you see the need, I’m sure you’ll find a way to love your neighbour as yourself; extending grace and igniting hope.
If you need to talk to someone, we encourage you to contact the Focus on the Family care and counselling team at 1.800.661.9800. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
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.
Extending Grace and Igniting Hope—this is the vision of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.
I would like to tell you a story of grace and hope being lived in dramatic ways under the guidance, inspiration, and tireless efforts of two ministry leaders in our church family.
When God stirs a passion in the human heart, there is no telling where it may take you or those who fall under their influence and leadership. We have been blessed to see what a vision can do to bless an entire city!
Scripture speaks to us about seeking the well-being of the city where we dwell. The setting of Babylon in the ancient world of the exiled Israelites has become a familiar context for God’s people today.
The leadership at Smythe Street Church has challenged us to seek God’s blessing on behalf of our city, and the people have engaged in this vision—sowing the seeds of compassion for our beloved city of Fredericton.
Pastor Verner—Lead Pastor—Smythe Street Church
Pastor Verner has consistently challenged our church to be a people of great compassion for those in need. He has consistently encouraged us to look beyond the context of our church family to see the needs of the impoverished and homeless.
For many years now, when the vision of our church is being carefully and prayerfully cast, one of the mountains that Pastor Verner has been consistently determined to tackle is the mountain of homelessness. This caught the attention and captured the hearts of our parishioners, and the results have been truly inspiring.
The Best Church For the City
At the urging of Pastor Verner, our leadership team and family of believers decided that they would not strive to be the best church in the city, but rather, the best church for the city.
Leadership Inspires Action
The casting of a passionate vision for the marginalized resulted in an outpouring of resources for the homeless and impoverished of Fredericton. In the year 2021 alone, Smythe Street Church invested in the people of our city who were struggling with the effects of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and poor mental health.
The church family at Smythe Street Church gave more to the ministry of Care in 2021 than at any other time in the history of our church.
Tangible Results that Touch the Needy and Glorify God
Each year we see these acts of compassion in growing numbers…
In the past year alone, 69 individuals, through the direct intervention of our church’s ministry of care, have been prevented from being homeless.
The number of housed families expands to 126 when we factor in the partnership we have established with some key agencies in our city.
40 families were provided with an overflowing hamper of food at Christmas.
Dozens of families were provided with food assistance throughout the year.
Prescription costs were covered for over 15 individuals who could not pay for proper medication.
Over 30 families were provided with a home starter basket as they moved into safe and affordable housing, some of them coming directly out of tents into a warm bed they could call their own.
Advocacy with various social agencies and programs was provided for over 50 families and individuals.
On-site visits and care assessments were made weekly for those dwelling in tents at various spots throughout the city. This is a ministry of Care that was a product of the vision cast in our church. Bill, an SSC family member, faithfully and capably leads a ministry called “Under the Tent.”
Transportation costs were alleviated for 20+families.
This is only a very brief snapshot of the many facets of the Care Ministry at SSC.
Jill—Creative Arts Director—Smythe Street Church
At this point, I must introduce another key player in the advancement of Care in our church. Her name is Jill. The numbers you see above would not have been possible without her impassioned leadership on behalf of the impoverished.
It’s not so unusual that the connection would be made between the ministry of worship and ministry for those who suffer from poverty. Jill was moved by the truths of scripture many years ago, that state clearly, that our worship is not restricted to the faith gatherings of the body of Christ.
Our God-glorifying activity is also seen in how we care for the homeless and the marginalized.
Under Jill’s excellent leadership and passion for the hurting, the following has happened in our church and city…
Eviction Prevention and Stable Housing
The above-mentioned statistics defining the numbers for eviction prevention are a direct result of tireless efforts made to connect with and assess the needs of the homeless.
A Christ Honoring Reputation
The reputation of our church has grown to the point where various social agencies in our city have developed a deep and appreciated relationship with Smythe Street Church. Regular calls and collaboration have become the norm between Smythe Street Church and the people on the front lines of poverty alleviation in our city.
The result has not just been the direct relief provided for the homeless, but the establishing of a tremendous witness for Christ among those who work in social agencies in our city.
What God is doing through our church to show love and care for those in need has been amplified through mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships with various agencies in our city who care about the same things we care about.
The ”By-Names” List
Smythe Street Church is seen as a vital partner with many agencies across our city, but…
One of these key agencies in our city is the “By Names” List. This is a working committee that identifies “by name” the people who are homeless—working to get them off the street and into a place of their own.
This working group was able to get 126 people off the street and into a safe dwelling during this past year!
It Gets Even Better
In conjunction with the United Way of Fredericton our church became the recipient of four newly constructed housing units, which will sit on a parcel of ground in our city (targeted completion is Summer 2022), and will house 4 people who will be rescued from homelessness and placed in a safe, beautiful, and functional apartment for as long as they are in need.
The properties were not only given to us free of charge (funded and built by local businesses) but there is a budget provided to fund the maintenance and upkeep of the properties. This was a result of the partnership that Jill has fostered with others in our city who care for the homeless.
Walking With Those in Need
A crucial element has been put in place when it comes to keeping the homeless housed. The need for friendship and companionship is key when it comes to the well-being of the hurting and marginalized.
Money is not enough.
In response to this three teams of six people were assigned one individual each for the period of one year with the goal of consistent, loving, supportive weekly connection. The result has been very encouraging. A marked change was seen in those who became a part of what is called a SUN Lite team.
Stability and well-being were strengthened where there had been consistent patterns of emotional, mental, and physical dysfunction. This was a direct result of the friendships that our church teams provided through SUN Lite.
A Growing Partnership
The ministry of Care has inspired other churches in our city. The SUN Lite ministry has expanded to include inter-church teams who are walking with our dear friends and enabling them to break the hurtful effects of poverty. This is a picture of a training event held at our church where key leaders from churches in our city were invited to learn how to be a part of a SUN Lite Team.
It is my belief that grace has been extended and hope has been ignited!
Wayne Flowers serves at Smythe Street Church in the Care, Connections, and Teaching Ministries.
In his free time, you will find him enjoying life with his wife, Brenda, and their family, playing music, or enjoying the outdoors.
Wayne loves hearing people’s stories of coming to know Jesus and inspiring them to use their gifts to serve Jesus.
What Impact Does Hope Have On the Mission of the Church?
It might be as simple as chicken noodle soup…
You know, the good ‘ol remedy for when you are feeling under the weather. Nothing else is appealing when you don’t have much of an appetite.
Hope can be the same! It’s a simple comfort when the world seems dark and circumstances overwhelm.
“Jesus gave them another parable: There once was a woman who had ten valuable silver coins. When she lost one of them, she swept her entire house, diligently searching every nook and cranny for that one lost coin. When she finally found it, she gathered all her friends and neighbours for a celebration, telling them, ‘Come and celebrate with me! I had lost my precious silver coin, but now I’ve found it.’ That’s the way God responds every time one lost sinner repents and turns to Him. He says to all his angels, ‘Let’s have a joyous celebration, for the one who was lost, I have found!'”
Luke 15:8-10 TPT
There’s a whole lot of celebration going on in Luke 15—it’s said that each coin was the equivalent of a full day’s wage. The coin’s value was just that, it didn’t lose its value because it was lost. Isn’t that a beautiful (easily overlooked) truth!
But this chapter in the Bible also has another easily overlooked truth…
There are three parables in Luke 15—The Lost Sheep (1 of 100), The Lost Coin (1 of 10), and The Lost Son (1 of 2)—you see it don’t you? Each soul is extremely valuable.*
Having had a salvation experience—you know the extraordinary value that Jesus places on every soul. This is the hope we carry!
A “hope-shaped mission” is a Luke 15 mission—lost to found!
…there will be a glorious celebration in heaven over the rescue of one lost sinner who repents, comes back home, and returns to the fold… (vs. 7)
…Let’s have a joyous celebration, for the one who was lost, I have found… (vs. 10)
…It’s only right to rejoice and celebrate like this, because your brother was once dead and gone, but now he is alive and back with us again. He was lost, but now he is found… (vs. 32)
Luke 15 celebration moments are to be common—like chicken noodle soup is when you are sick. So, what impact does hope have on the mission of the Church?
Two of the three parables necessitated an all-out search for what was lost, but the last parable…
The Father’s heart was on display—longing and looking (…hope…) for his son to return. Let’s not just look for something we lost but, hunger for the lost soul so they can be found—alone to belong, valuable even when lost, significant, and always loved!
So the church becomes what love and hope look like in a lost and broken world…
*Side note: you can feel lonely and lost in a crowd (1 of 100), lonely and lost where you are needed (1 of 10) and lonely and lost in your family (1 of 2)—but don’t think for a moment that Jesus isn’t looking for you!
“So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change! And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, and where Jesus, our forerunner has gone in before us…”
Hebrews 6:18-20 TPT
Because of Jesus—we have this certain hope—confident expectation!
God’s promises are faithful—as the scripture lets us know, it’s a place we can hide and be anchored.
Growing up on the prairies it’s hard to understand how or why an anchor works. But it’s interesting to note that there are permanent anchors—a mooring. Unchangeable. The kind of anchor we can count on being in the same location no matter how far we travel.
We know that there’s not much ‘unchangeable’ in the human experience and probably exactly why we lose our hope from time to time. We unmoor, lose trust in God’s promises, and get tossed about by the waves of circumstance.
We all live in a culture where values, morality, and worldview are constantly shifting. Live more than 20 years and you know that to be true from first-hand experience. When we focus on the waves (like Peter), we begin taking a stand on things that have no eternal purpose—we are unmoored.
“The writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”—Hebrews 10:23
Our hope—that is, our confident expectation—is not based on trends or indicators but in Jesus who is faithful.”
Let us hold—a command, one you’ve shouted to your child/grandchild working their way across the monkey bars in the park. Simply because you don’t want to see them fall.
God, our father, asks you to hold on—to be steady and consistent.
Confident access to the throne behind the veil gives the believer the ability to hold unswerving confidence in God’s promises. The faith that you possess is your way of holding on. Remember the moments God came through, spoke a word, opened your eyes, answered a prayer, did a miracle, and saved your soul—the biggest miracle of all!
Anchors need to catch on something, they must be set into the seabed, while suction does its work from below, creating resistance that holds. That is what God’s promises are, and He will never fail to keep them. So our confidence in Him is well-founded and our profession of hope is one we can be confident of.
Christian hope is not based on you or me, our dreams or potential, but on God’s faithfulness! Nothing can shake your confidence when you are anchored to His promises—His word!
When darkness veils His lovely face
I'll rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy day
My anchor holds within the veil
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay
—"On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand" by Edward Mote
“Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.”
1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT
David reminded Solomon that he had a task to complete—a huge task—because David had plans. A read-through of 1 Chronicles 28 gives you an idea of the scope of how large this building project was and would be.
It was a place for the habitation of God.
And today, Peter still reminds us that God is building His spiritual temple and that we are the “living stones.” To be identified as Christ’s living stones means that we are in union with him and share his nature, for he is the Living Corner Stone upon which we are built.
“Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples. If we make disciples, Jesus will take those “living stones” and place them in the spiritual temple that He is building.”
The word “living” is translated from the Greek word “zoe” meaning, not just human existence but, the absolute fullness of life—including spiritual and eternal life.
Our human frailty has us with our heads down, buried in circumstance, afraid or worried. At times, our view is of all the wrongs in the world—forgetting to “lift up our eyes.”
“But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual ‘nation’ set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world. For at one time you were not God’s people, but now you are. At one time you knew nothing of God’s mercy, because you hadn’t received it yet, but now you are drenched with it!”
1 Peter 2:9-10 TPT
You have a story to tell!
His glorious wonders—you’ve been drenched in mercy! These two ideas work together so that more living stones are added to His temple. Can you imagine all of us as His living stones? He can.
“As we enter 2022, we have a task to complete, and that task is to make disciples. But we don’t do it on our own—he has promised to empower us by His Spirit in the task.
In spite of the uncertainty that 2022 may bring, we can be strong and we can live without fear—because the Lord is with us, and He has promised to enable and empower us in the task of making disciples!”
You have many glorious wonders to share and you have more than kindness to give—you know something of God’s mercy!
We’d like to share the following encouraging read with you—igniting hope within you to share your story!
Emmanuel – God with us! He isn’t just Emmanuel at Christmas time—He is with us every moment of the year.
The reason that we can be strong is because He is with us. The reason that we can live without fear is because He is with us. 
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Saying the Lord is with you, is so much more than it seems.
It’s actually a love story. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, there is a moment in time when you knew that He loved you.
A regular day—ordinary really, hands in the soapy water of the single sink in a tiny apartment. The few dishes are hardly worth the full sink of suds, but a vase is spied on the top shelf—that you have to drag a chair to in order to reach, speaks of its irregular use.
A heart simply wonders when flowers would be received again.
A supper invitation the next day.
Family, laughs, and dishes done together—time to go home. At the door, a beautiful red rose with a note attached. “I love you,” nothing else written.
It came from Jesus, He hears quiet thoughts of hearts and made a point to get a flower in the vase. Love. What is your story?
Jesus prayed for us in John chapter 17—a beautiful portion of scripture…
“I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
John 17:23 NLT
A tiny little conjunction in bold, but absolutely important to understanding…
We don’t think about the meaning of this word, but what it means is “to the same extent or degree; equally.”
Now look back at the verse, and it should leave your mouth agape! We read about the relationship Jesus had with the Father, the closeness and intimacy, the unity, the whole book of John is filled with that special relationship.
As equally—think back to that moment of love, when you knew, when you accepted His grace and allowed His love.
The presence of the Lord brings joy, meaning, and anticipation to our lives! 2022—it is with the joy and the confidence that comes from knowing He is with you.
We’ve been leaving little challenges in our January blogs—remember this well-known saying “Love God, love people?”
Here is your challenge this week…
Show love to someone on your heart. Send a card in the mail, leave a treat on a neighbours doorstep, make a call, send a bible verse, there are a thousand and one ways to show love, so let’s show ❤️ the ACOP way!