In a recent message given during our Tuesday night prayer meeting, we heard about the subject of holy ground. This is mentioned a few times in the Bible. The one we are most familiar with is the story of Moses and the burning bush.

“When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

— (Exodus 3:5)

Why was it that God declared that place to be holy ground? It was just a piece of rock in the wilderness. Was there anything special about that place? The answer is; God was there. A holy place is a place where we meet with God.

Have you ever had a place in your life that was special to you because of the only thing you did there. I know I have. In my family’s home, we have a garage, and in that garage, there is a workbench. At that workbench, I have spent hours and hours; I have no idea how much time I have spent there; working away on some wooden project or other. Chipping away the wood with a chisel and hammer, grinding it down with a rasp, or making it smooth with some sandpaper. That place is special to me, it is “holy”, set apart for woodworking. Every time I go there, I smell the fresh pine sawdust, feel the handle of my tools, and I know that I am in a special place. It has a meaning to me, deep down. And every time I step inside a different garage or workshop, that has some similarities: the shape, the smell of the wood, it reminds me of my own special spot, and I get that feeling that I am in a “holy” place.

Do we, do I, have such a spot for Jesus? Do we get that feeling deep down, that when we step into a Church sanctuary or other place dedicated to worshipping God, we are entering a holy place? We might not take off our shoes. In some places it is good to wear footwear for sanitary reasons or protection of your toes, but do we ever have that attitude of reverence and awe, because we are in a place where people meet with God? Think of the privilege that we have. Moses met with God the first time at the burning bush. After that, he still longed to meet with God. He asked God if he could just see Him. At the core of every believer, we long, desire, yearn to see God. We may not be able to see God with our physical eyes. That will have to wait, but through Jesus Christ, God has opened the way for us to come sit at his feet and meet with Him.

I think that that God deserves a place in our lives where we meet with Him alone, a spot that is set apart for just Him. If one of my little siblings were to take some of their toys and go play with them on top of the workbench in my family’s garage, I would probably say, “You can’t play with that here. This is a spot for working only. Go play in your bedroom.” To have a place that is holy, set apart for meeting with God, you can’t do other things there. It just isn’t proper. If we do something that doesn’t involve our meeting with Jesus on holy ground, it loses it’s meaning and just becomes another piece of rock.

We might say, that we are supposed to be in fellowship with Jesus all the time; never stop worshipping and praying to Him. That is so true, but do we? I don’t know of a single person who has mastered that way of living fully. So, anyways, if we are supposed to pray without ceasing, why should we have just one place where we meet with God? We can’t very well live in that spot. Having one place where we meet with God consistently every day is the first step. Once we develop this habit firmly, as we live, other places will remind of us of our little meeting place, and you find yourself wanting to pray. Eventually, step by step, we find ourselves working towards praying without ceasing.

This whole concept sounds very beautiful and inspiring, but do not be fooled. It takes hard work. It requires much practice and perseverance to achieve these goals. There can be all sorts of things that will distract us and try and make our holy places for other uses. However, one day, we will be able to live in and never leave our meeting place with God. It’s called heaven.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

— (Revelation 21:3)


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On Saturday, May 26, 2018, a group of GFA World Staff headed to Queenston, ON to participate in the 12th Annual Scenic Niagara Bike-a-thon hosted by Word & Deed Ministries.

Since 2007, this Bike-a-thon has been a crucial fundraiser for the Nakekela HIV/AIDS Clinic in South Africa. In that time, it has raised close to $700,000 (net)!

Bike-a-thon

This year, over 250 participants completed the bike-a-thon, raising around $40,000 for the Nakekela HIV/AIDS Clinic in South Africa. At 10 A.M. bikers began the route from Mather Arch in Fort Erie travelling for 40.5 km to the Queenston Heights Park in Queenston. Along the way were pit stops with water, snacks and repairs for any bikes that broke down.

The event wrapped up with a delicious free barbecue at 12 P.M. and prizes were awarded to the top ten fundraisers.

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GFA World staff and students headed out early on Saturday morning, April 28th, 2018 to the Hamilton Beach Rescue Unit, for their 11th Annual Team up to Clean Up event. Team Up to Clean Up is a city-wide community cleanup program that attracts more than 20,000 enthusiastic volunteers across the city, each year. The City of Hamilton's Keep Hamilton Clean and Green Committee supports residents and community groups to help keep their neighbourhood, park, trail or alleyway clean by providing gloves, specially marked garbage or recycling bags and graffiti wipes.

Beach Cleanup

A group of local volunteers assembled at the Hamilton Beach Rescue Unit at their headquarters on Beach Boulevard to collect their garbage pickup supplies: free gloves and orange garbage bags.  From there they spread out along the Lake Ontario beach and spent the morning cleaning up the shoreline.  After a morning of hard work volunteers returned to the Rescue Unit for free hot-dogs and coffee from the event’s sponsor Tim Hortons.  Councillor Chad Collins who was there as the City of Hamilton's representative, was grateful for everyone who came out to help clean up their community.



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Now that the weather has warmed up a little from the cold of winter, it is time to take down outside Christmas decorations that you can’t do any earlier due to stiff and frozen fingers. But the day I was going to be doing that, there was one problem. It wasn’t warm. It was cold, windy, and snow. The weather throughout the whole day went back and forth from wind and snow, to sunny and calm. This wasn’t too much of a problem for me, since I typically am not bothered by weather. It is more of just an annoyance.

There was another bigger problem. Whether it was due to how the lights came down from the tree, or me making it even more so as I worked on them, they were tangled - seriously tangled. The bulbs weren’t small either. They were quite big with a large clip as well, making it too easy for them to get stuck on one another. They look pretty when hanging on a tree or the edge of your house, but not in masses on the ground. There they were, a whole bunch of strings, lined with hooks, put in a heap, and mixed together. My job was to untangle the mess and neatly roll each string up. Great!

This seems like a very unpleasant job that would give plenty of excuse for grumbling, which I did. Only to myself though while I was doing it. I didn’t actually mind being given the task. I was glad to be given a job outside even though it was cold. But, the lights were so tangled and my back became sore. I even had a little conversation with my work, expressing my displeasure to the lights at their uncooperative behavior.

During our afternoon Psalm reading, I was convicted about the way I was acting. Even though it wasn’t necessarily sin, I knew that I could be doing better.

“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,

fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

 

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

 

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

Young men and maidens together, old men and children!

 

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

 

He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.

Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 148:7-14)

As we read this, I thought about how even the wind and the snow praise God. The very things that were making my day a bother, were doing the things I should be. Couldn’t the snow and cold leave so I could praise God without them pestering me. Then I thought, God probably gets more glory from those who praise Him, even when they aren’t comfortable, so, when I went back outside, instead of voicing my disapproval, I sang to praise the Lord.

I thought about how we ourselves can be like the lights; wrapped and stuck within sin. I need to let go of the things which hold me captive and let the hand of God pull me out, bit by bit, unhooking me from all my sin. Then He will put me in part of His kingdom, and placing his power inside of me to shine out His glory.

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program



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Somehow, that phrase "Die to Self" just doesn't become more appealing or for that matter easier. I'm certain that by now I have heard every form of how you can die to self. In a vehicle, I can let someone else get the front seat and die to self. In relationships, I can be the first one to go apologize, reconcile and die to self. In finances, I can consider the needs of others, share and die to self by not just making selfish provisions. Name an area of life and I'm sure I can name a way I can die to self in it. But knowing and doing are as far from each other as the East is from the West. Lately this warning has been ringing in my ears, James 1:22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." And in Luke 6:31 "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise." I need to die to self and consider others. 

Dying to self isn't even about self. It is a removing of the self and replacing it with someone else's concern or pleasure above my own. First and foremost, God's pleasure, then other's cares and concerns. Today I baked an apple pie, with some help, for no other reason than to do it for God and for the people who will be the recipients of it. I am not someone who bakes pie for the fun of it. In fact, I try to keep busy with everything else before I'll do kitchen work. So how did it come about that I would bake this pie? And with joy? Well, in my last speech I shared a practical way of how I can apply what God is teaching me about work from the book the Divine Embrace. In the book, it talks about Benedictine monks and that they equated prayer, study and work. And though I see myself as hard working I realized I do not have a healthy attitude towards some kinds of work such as baking pie and other kitchen related things. I shared in my speech that I have come to learn recently that if I dare to enjoy eating an apple pie I need the humility to bake an apple pie with a diligent spirit. Yes, and this pie isn't even for me. 

God in His Sovereignty put an opportunity in front of me that even a blind man could see. Someone asked for an apple pie that was homemade and just like the ones we had provided at the Fall Fest. As I'm hearing this request I stand rolling my eyes at God saying, "is this a test?" He says, you can either put your speech where your mouth is or be a hypocrite with many word and no action. So, I baked the pie and did it with joy because it was simple obedience to what I knew to do. I love receiving fresh baked treats and I ought to take opportunity to give of my time to bless others by giving baked treats to them as well. I am floored by the way God speaks so directly into my life. He knew I needed to put into action the practical application of changing my attitude towards work and He provided an opportunity to do it.  

 Will I always get it right from now on? No, but always turn around if I'm heading in the wrong direction. Romans 6:13 says, " And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." If God can use me to bless someone else then in fact I am alive to God and I am an instrument of righteousness. I tend to over spiritualize thing and say things like: "what good can come out of a pie?" Or, "how will that help anyone grow in their faith?" Those are good questions but what if the question I need to answer is actually: am I reflecting Jesus in my words, thoughts and actions right now and in this situation? I can read all the books on godly character that I want to but if there isn't an immediate change in my heart upon the Spirit speaking to me, then truthfully, I become more useless to God then useful. At the end of the day it's not about me dying to self because if I'll have done that, then I'll have forgotten all about me and I'll be able to think about God first, others second and then perhaps myself. As the Apostle Paul, I declare: "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) I have not mastered this by far nor do I think it possible but this is my life goal because Jesus is my Saviour, my Lord, my Brother, my Redeemer and Example and I will follow Him. So, my attitude towards work has slightly changed... and praise the Lord, He's not finished with me yet. Die to Self and Bake Some Apple Pie



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