Resetting Your TROUBLED Heart  

On the eve of all hell crashing in upon Jesus and his disciples, He coached them not to allow their hearts to be “troubled” (see John 14). That word ‘troubled’ was used in the ancient world for the agitating of water or the rioting of citizens. Jesus was telling His friends not to allow their hearts to become anxious or shaken. But they did. The raucous events of the next few days would leave the disciples anxious, weary and afraid. Afterward they would remember His teaching and finally find the calm and assurance that would carry them to the end.
If 2020 has made any impact on the world, it’s left a lot of people “stirred up” with nothing less than a riot unfolding in their hearts. The inner life of the average person is unsettled as “troubled waters”. Calm is not how I would describe the mood in our city. People are agitated, reactionary and fearful. So, the counsel of Jesus in the first century is as good today as when He spoke it. (In typical Canadian style we are working hard at appearing ‘calm’ while the truth tells a slightly different reality).
His instruction was to “stay calm”. His prescription was to stay calm by believing in God. And, in the same way, believe in Him. It’s quite simple for us Christians. Faith in God is the solution by which He installs peace in our hearts. That’s consistent with the logic of the book of Romans. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

I’m no EMT but I know that the first thing to remember in a crisis is to STAY CALM. Don’t you just want to say to the world “calm down”? Freaking out is only making the whole thing worse. But then I realize that staying calm, both internally and externally, is only truly possible for those who are trusting in the greatness and power of God the Almighty.

If you move on from the 1st verse of John 14 where Jesus told us to stay calm by faith, you’ll encounter His expanded teaching about the big house that God is building. Jesus teaches His followers that God is our Father and heaven is our home where each of His children have a place to belong. In essence, Jesus reminds us that God our Father greets the lost and afraid of the world with a warm “welcome home!” This truth is reflected in the famous words of Augustine “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.

The storm of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the political dis-ease in our world is really a metaphor for the chaos of the human heart that is deeply troubled. And that trouble can only be cured through Jesus who said that He is “the way, the truth and the life.” No man comes to the Father except through Him. Staying calm is only possible by intimate belonging that is rooted in a satisfying relationship with God our Father offered to us through Jesus our Lord.

Jesus went on to tell the disciples a second time to say, “don’t be troubled and don’t be afraid” (John 14:27). The evidence that I am trusting God, as He said I should, is PEACE, i.e. “staying calm” in troubled times. I find that my heart needs a fresh reset almost daily in this world of constant bad news.

In the words of that famous British poster . . . “keep calm and carry on!”

See you soon!

Pastor Deric

Hannah’s Message

Jesus served children as much as he did adults. And he taught us to do the same thing. Frankly, children have been among my greatest concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. Are we taking care of the little ones as much as we should? Are we listening to them? Are we talking with them about their fears? Are we helping them understand the world in crisis through the eyes of faith? Do we encourage them to process their feelings by talking about the world from their perspective? Most importantly, are we teaching them God’s Word for tough times? 

As a pastor of an amazing congregation in the heart of Mississauga with lots of little ones running around the campus, I’m deeply thankful for the work of our children’s ministry associate, Miss Heidi. She’s amazing for lots of reasons including being creative, passionate, and competent in teaching children. But the thing I love about her work most is that she has Jesus’ heart and perspective for children.  She knows that serving the children is accomplishing the mission of Jesus to “make disciples of all nations.” She’s a disciple making leader of children. 

She’s an example to all the adults in our church family in how to serve children in the mission of Jesus. She talks to them as fellow believers in Jesus. She listens to them as respected fellow citizens of the kingdom of God. She honors them by praying for them and by designing ministry that she has discerned is what they need during any given season in their lives. She’s very much a shepherd of children. 

Thanks, Miss Heidi for serving our children spiritually, faithfully, and wisely. And special thanks to all of our children for teaching us how to endure a hard time with a smile and messages of hope. They’ve experienced as much disruption as us adults, and yet they have proven resilient, faithful, and spiritually strong. Truthfully, oftentimes they get it more than we do. 

Children like Hannah who spoke one of the clearest messages of hope and faith during the last four months. Early in the pandemic, she wrote messages of hope and peace on her driveway, sidewalk, and lamp post for all of her neighbors to see (and feel!). I’ve thought about that message several times. In typical childlike fashion, she captured the simple truth that guides our faith. Hope in God and love one another. Specifically, she wrote, “Trust in God” and “I love you.” Notice it isn’t just “have faith” or “believe” but “trust in God.” And it isn’t just “love one another” it’s “I love you.” 

This is the message of the New Testament. It’s “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).  You say you have faith in God. Prove it by loving others the way Jesus does. But the kind of love that the Bible prescribes is only attainable through faith. For Christians, faith is the root and love is the fruit. Faith is the “pivotal” virtue BUT “true Christian love creates a sympathizing and merciful spirit and disposes a person to be public-spirited.” (David Clyde Jones)

Children understand it. Why can’t we? Trust in God and “I love you.”

Stay cool (in every way) church family. It’s hot out there.
Pastor Deric