The Collection

Show me your ways


Written by Pastor Ben McCary The psalms are as beautiful as they are diverse, and one of the most powerful lessons we can learn from them is the importance of God's forgiveness.  There are so many times in our lives that we fall short of our goals or God's standards for us; Psalm 25 is one example of how to grow in the midst of it. The Bible is God's word to humanity, his hand book for how we're supposed to live, so you'd think it would be full of stories of people asking God for guidance.  But, believe it or not, that's just not the case.  The Bible is riddled with stories of God offering guidance, but very rarely do people ask for it. However, Psalm 25 is one example of someone asking for God's guidance.

Psalm 25In Psalm 25, God's guidance is shown in so many ways. It comes up 8 times:

  • "Show me your ways, O Lord”
  • “Teach me your paths”
  • “Guide me”
  • “He guides the humble”
  • “He teaches them”
  • “He will instruct him in the way”
  • “The Lord confides in those who fear him”
  • “He makes his covenant known to them”

The Psalm also shows all the blessings that God gives for those who humbly accept God's teaching:

  • "They will never be put to shame" (v. 3)
  • "He guides them" (v. 9)
  • "They will have prosperity" (v.13)
  • "His descendants will inherit the land" (v.13)
  • "He will confide in them" (v.14)

So if this is so common in Psalm 25, why would it not be common in the rest of scripture? The answer becomes more clear when we look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  When people come to Jesus and call him teacher, more often than not they go away with a harsh lesson. Just look at this example:

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matt 12.38-39). So often we come to God asking him to show us his paths, but we forget to leave behind the “sins of our youth.”

This Psalmist reminds us that we need to give up those old sins and come to get ready to change.  It's only the humble who God is able to teach.

So how can you change? How does God want you to be humble? And how do you think God is going to bless you when you come to him with an open heart.

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A seed of love


Written by Pastor Linda Skinner 

To think of God rightly, as He is, one cannot help but lapse into worship; and worship is the single most powerful force in completing and sustaining the spiritual formation of the whole person. Worship naturally arises from thinking rightly of God on the basis of revealed truth confirmed in experience. We say flatly, "Worship is at once the overall character of the renovated thought life and the only safe place for any human being to stand." Dallas Willard from article “Transformation of the Mind”.

My mom was no Dallas Willard, but she had a deep sense of what was important in life. As a child she planted within me a deep love for Christ and, therefore, a love for the church (His bride).

The church was the center of my experience of worship. Not that worship didn’t happen every day of the week. Every morning we worshiped at the breakfast table as we prayed, read God’s Word and shared together. All through the day my mom hummed or sang hymns, while she went through her day – cleaning thousands of eggs getting them ready to go to market, driving them to market, doing her shopping, cleaning the house. Every activity was an act of worship, but she always reminded me that her daily worship came from connecting in corporate worship every week.

I am so thankful for those seeds planted by my mom. There was never anything that would replace our weekly trek to church. Even when mom was sick, which wasn’t very often, she’d make sure I had a ride to church with one of our neighbors. Because of those seeds, I’m compelled to be at weekly worship and I believe fully what Dallas Willard wrote when he penned these words -- “worship is the single most powerful force in completing and sustaining the spiritual formation of the whole person.”

Over the years, when Rich and I have been on our travels, we have experienced so many different forms of churches and worship. Whether it was the Greek Orthodox section of Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Vineyard church outside of Vancouver, BC, the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Zagreb, Croatia, the Protestant American Cathedral in Paris, or the little non-denominational church in a movie theater in Florianopolis, Brazil all had one thing in common – they came together to honor and worship Jesus in a their own way.

We didn’t even need to know the language, you could feel the Holy Spirit at work. You could see on the faces of the people a love for Christ and a love for one another.

hands worshipEvery week I look forward to my time of worship with people who love Jesus. Worshipping with other believers is a powerful soul builder. Especially, if we can leave ourselves at the doorstep and focus on worshipping God.

Doesn’t matter the style of worship, the surroundings that we worship in or even the language that is spoken. What matters is where our hearts are. I think it was what the writer of Hebrews was referring to when he wrote “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

I pray that this may plant a seed in you. A seed of love for Christ’s Body (the Church) and a love and passion for worshipping in it with other believers.

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Come stand beneath my wings


Written by Fiona Monaghan

This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day; nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.            Psalm 91:2-6

hen-chicks-wings-swindle“Come to me” I hear You say, “come stand beneath my wings the storms of life may come your way but I’m with you whatever it brings.

I will protect and cover you in times of pain or fear. You are my precious little child, I long to hold you near.

But trust you must, and put yourself, into my loving care it is your choice to come to me I will not force you there.

And when the storm has passed along you’ll find my love is true I stood and bore the storm for you and my wings, they covered you.”

A hen when she senses danger will stand with her wings raised up and her chicks have to run to her for protection, she won’t chase after them. She stands still and they then run under her wings for the protection that they need. That was my inspiration for this poem.

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God Our Rescue


Written by Pastor Rex Hamilton Psalm91:4Since becoming a father 11 years ago, not a single day has passed where I haven’t asked God to protect my kids and our family. Sometimes it’s a quick simple prayer, other times, I find some solitude and spend time asking God to protect my family in very specific ways.

These have always been some of my most confident prayers because I know based on Psalm 91 that it’s God’s nature to protect and rescue his people. But...I’m not naive to think bad things can’t, or won’t happen. We live in a very broken world...

Here’s a little faith exercise to put into practice this week:

Spend a few minutes every day by reading Psalm 91 and then write out specific areas of your life that you need God to either protect or rescue. The point? Wait and watch God come through on His promises! Sounds so simple, right? But how easily we can get off track and forget who God says He is, and just how much He desires our complete dependence upon Him.

He’s a good, good Father who loves us deeply and wants to show Himself to us through His word.

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A Rod, Staff and Oil…


Written by Fiona Monaghan A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Philip Keller was an eye opener for me. Many of us know the Psalm that starts “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…” and there are references made throughout the Psalm to physical things like rod, staff and oil. Mr. Keller explains how a shepherd would actually use these tools in his vocation and what it means to us.

The Rod was a weapon made from a sapling specially chosen and whittled down to suit the shepherd. The root was used and shaped to fit the shepherd hand. He would use this in a couple of ways. If a sheep was wandering off, as they are prone to do, he would throw down the rod to startle the sheep back to the group. It was used to check the condition of the fleece. Checking the skin by parting the fleece with the rod looking for sores, ticks etc. It was the ultimate protection tool used as a deterrent for predators and beating the bush for snakes etc.

Shepherd's StaffWhereas the rod was protection, the Staff was considered a tool of help or compassion; not for defense, but for rescue. If a newborn lamb got separated from its mother, the shepherd would use the staff to lift it back into proximity of the mother and not put his human scent on it. If he needed to draw an animal back into the fold he could reach out and pull them closer; used to rescue a wayward animal if it got caught in thickets or brambles. Also a means of support for him to lean on and assist his walking and used for guiding sheep on a new path.

The Oil referenced was a healer. It was put on sores or scrapes to prevent infection. Flies would bother the sheep and want to lay eggs in their nose, so the shepherd would put a coating of oil mixture to prevent this. A distraught sheep having to deal with these flies would disrupt a flock so it was very important to treat them by anointing with oil.

It was no mistake that we as a people were referenced as ‘sheep’ and Jesus our Shepherd. Sheep are not the smartest of animals. They tend to follow rather than lead. They are totally defenseless in the proximity of an enemy so need a Shepherd to protect them.

How often have we needed the Oil of healing in His words at a difficult time, or the Rod of correction if we are heading off in a wrong direction or the Staff of comfort when needing to know we are not alone.

Read Psalm 23 with the meanings of these words made clearer. See how this might be useful in your own life.

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Breathe In...Breathe Out...

Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget the mystery in the Bible. That’s not to say God is mysterious, as he’s been fully revealed to us in the person of Jesus. The Bible? Different story... Psalms THE COLLECTION BannerThroughout the Old Testament, we see various writers using strong symbolic imagery to describe the presence and works of God. David is one of those writers. In Psalm 39, we read that he’s wrestling with his own life, recognizing that his time here on earth is short. His exact words are, “my life is but a breath”...

Breath. A central ingredient to life.

People like Moses, Solomon and David all believed that when they inhaled- they received the presence of God. Kinda mysterious, right?

Here’s a little exercise for you. Next time you’re alone and praying; be thoughtful about your breathing. Breathe in...breathe out. Know that God created you from His Spirit and that His peace, comfort, grace and strength are always accessible. He’s a good Father. A loving God.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex