CANADA's CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION
As we approach Canada Day, I would like to remind us from where we have come, point out evidence of our Christian foundation, and challenge you to pray with me for a revival in Canada.
Canada's heritage as a nation under God is plainly carved on the walls of our Parliamentary buildings. They serve as a rebuke, as well as an encouragement, to all Canadians, that God continues to call His people to covenant faithfulness.
From the time of Jacques Cartier, to Sir John A. MacDonald, to the 1960s, there has been a strong presence of Christianity in Canadian history, up until quite recently. In fact, Canada was always regarded as a “Christian nation,” strongly tied to the Church of England, and wholly devoted to the teaching of God’s word. To examine “Christian Canada” would require volumes of writings, something quite lacking besides the works of historians John W. Grant, Eric Crouse, Terrence Murphy, John S. Moir, and few others. Another great volume to explore is Canada: Portraits of Faith by Michael D Clarke. This book examines the lives of fifty-two men and women who helped to shape this nation. In the process, it offers an educational journey into our spiritual heritage.
There are various biblical passages found inscribed on the Peace Tower and other Parliamentary buildings in Ottawa that remind us of the Christian heritage of our nation. The biblical vision of our nation is often neglected, if not completely ignored, by national history curriculums in our public schools, especially so in the wake of the woke culture but what once was can still be reclaimed by a faithful church in our present time. We will consider the Peace Tower, the buildings of Parliament, and the Memorial Chamber within.
The Peace Tower
The Peace Tower itself bears three primary passages, the most prominent being Psalm 72:8, which is also featured on Canada’s coat of arms. The passage reads, “May He have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (ESV), inscribed in Latin on the wall, as “A Mari usque Ad Mare.” This is the Psalm which first inspired the Fathers of Confederation to name our nation The Dominion of Canada. The two fundamental components of Psalm 72:8 constitute the absolute sovereignty of God over the entire earth, hence the mention of foreign nations; and that this kingdom and dominion shall be the Lord’s.
The other two passages in Scripture are Psalm 72:1 and Proverbs 29:18. The Psalm reads “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!” (ESV). It is the prayer of the Psalmist for an act that would later take place, the acts and principles of right government given unto the Messiah to rule in perfect justice. It is Christ, not man, who is king over all of God’s creation.
The Fathers of Confederation had a vision for Canada of a Christian nation.
The application of this passage is fundamental to understanding the vision of the founding fathers, a nation under God, abiding by the law of God. Sadly, that is not the vision of today. Instead moral relativism has resulted in the decay of truth in the public square and the erosion of our moral foundation. It is the humanist who says that “there is no God,” that “we are not accountable to God,” that “man creates his own meaning, his own morality, and his own freedom.” The age-old vision, as derived from Scripture, is to submit our nation to the sovereignty of the king, Jesus Christ, who rules in perfect justice and with the principles of right government. The Peace Tower reminds us of our former Christian identity and the destiny that awaits the wise decisions of godly nations.
A sample of the biblical passages found within the Parliament buildings is Ephesians 6:13 and Psalm 139:8-10. In Ephesians we read “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (ESV). The people of Ephesus were accustomed to Greek mythology and its tales of their gods providing mortal man with special armor. Thus Paul uses a common illustration to communicate the truth of God in his writings. It is the “taking up of armor” that is regarded as a call to arms, to defend and protect God’s creation from evil. To neglect the response to evil is morally wrong in itself; we are morally bound by Holy Scripture to respond to evil. It is the role of the state to administer justice in all areas of society, to execute justice according to the perfect law of God.
This includes defending against the threat of humanism, the man-centered worldview that perverts justice and righteousness. Just as this passage applies to the preparedness of man individually, it also applies to the spiritual and moral integrity of a nation as a whole. As to the armor, Paul writes of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God (divine instruction), all biblical principles that are good and pleasing unto God, qualities that once distinguished our nation’s identity.
In Psalm 139:8-10, we see the Psalmist’s recognition of God’s omnipresence and omniscience; He is both everywhere and all-knowing. He knows the deep thoughts of man, the dark sins of the nations, and is present in both private homes and public legislatures. However, we not only find recognition of God’s attributes, we also find a faithful promise, that those who turn to Him will be led by Him, and that in His nearness He also sustains us. It was a declaration of dependence upon God, a demonstration of humility, a forgotten devotion that has been substituted by the idol of self and independence.
In the memorial chamber of Parliament we find references to Jeremiah 23:5, which reads “…execute judgment and justice in the earth” (ESV) and Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (ESV). The Messiah king does not just reign over a spiritual kingdom, but righteously reigns over the entire earth (Jer. 3:17, 18). The mistaken belief that the kingdom of God is merely spiritual and doesn’t incorporate the physical world is damaging to the work of the church. This was the vision of our forefathers, that Christ would execute “judgment and justice.” What we ought to be reminded is that if Christ is sovereign, which He is, He will execute justice even if the state fails to fulfill its role.
The legal system was not meant to replace the judgment of God, it was meant to uphold the law of God, and whatever judgment is given by the courts, Christ will still administer the final judgment according to his holy law. A guilty man convicted of murder will not escape the judgment of God after serving twenty-five years in prison; it is Christ who will “judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1). Although the passage of Jeremiah affirms the sovereignty of God and His righteousness and judgment, Nahum assures us of the safety and refuge available in Christ. A man can escape the wrath of God by repenting of his sin and turning to Jesus Christ; likewise a nation can escape the judgment of God by turning to the King on His throne, who has conquered both sin and death. These are messages of both hope and judgment, the good news of God and the penalty for breaking His perfect law.
It ought to be known that there was such a thing as a “Christian Canada,” and there is hope, in God’s providence, for a renewed conversion of our nation. It only follows that if our faith is in a sovereign and righteous God, infinite in power and strength, with a Gospel that can transform minds and hearts, then we should expect the church to adopt a victorious outlook toward history, in which the “gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18), and where man can not only be saved in Jesus Christ (John 3:16) but be redeemed and renewed (John 3:3).
If you would like to pray with us to this end, please call or email the office for Zoom links to our twice weekly prayer meetings. Tuesdays at 10:00 am and Thursdays at 8:30 pm.
COME AS YOU ARE
I will never forget the day when I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, it was so precious. It was also a process for me because I had some things I needed God to really help me with and deliver me from. But regardless, I came as I was, and God has been working on me ever since. It is still very much a process, but I am so grateful that I was able to come as I was.
Although the specific phrase “come as you are” is not found in the Bible, there are many verses in the Bible that encourage us to “come to God” or “draw near to Him.” We all have different stories, and it is important to remember our stories. They help us to be grateful that we have God in our lives and they also help us to remain obedient to God.
Coming as you are
While it is certainly not an excuse to remain in sin, it is about allowing God to transform us daily as we come to Him through our struggles, challenges, questions, insecurities, etc.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus was saying for us to come with all of our burdens, and He will give us rest. Jesus is encouraging us to come to Him with whatever we are going through, and we will find rest in Him.
Regarding other people
How do we react when we are dealing with other people? Do we allow them to come to us as they are or do we judge easily?
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14
We need to show compassion, kindness, love, and patience towards others. It is important to reflect on this because how we treat others is a great reflection of who we are and Who we are representing on earth.
Being set free
To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
As children of God, we need to be honest. Not because of what others will think, but because we desire to please the Lord. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s about progress. We all have things we need to work on and develop, so be encouraged in your progress today. Allow God to continue working and trust Him in the process.
Let’s come as we are. Let’s not focus on past mistakes, but instead learn from them so that we can move forward in all that God has planned for us. Doing this comes with such a freedom that is truly wonderful.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to
all creation. Mark 16:15
We come to God as we are, and we GO to do what He has called us to do. Not in our strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us not let any hindrances prevent us from being obedient to God. Being able to GO for Jesus is the greatest privilege because of Who we are representing. He is awesome, He is loving, He is powerful, and He is King.
Please continue to pray for our missionaries as they trust God in this season. Prayer makes a difference and we are thankful for our faithful prayer partners. May God continue to bless you and equip you for every good work that He has called you to.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND MISSIONS
There is a topic about which there is generally little spoken of in Canadian evangelical circles. It is something that I remember hearing much more about when I was a youngster, about a hundred years ago. And, my role in the world of cross-cultural missions assures me that this topic remains a reality for evangelical Christianity in the Global South. I am not sure why this topic has largely fallen off the teaching and practical agenda for the western church but it has. Can you guess what it is?
I am talking about spiritual warfare.
He has an army that he employs to accomplish this mission.
I bought a book at a mission’s conference a few years ago called ‘Spiritual Warfare and Missions; The battle for God’s glory among the nations’. It is co-written by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer. Rankin was a missionary to Indonesia for many years and then served in various leadership positions in Asia and eventually as the President of the International Mission Board for the Southern Baptists. Stetzer is an author, speaker, researcher, pastor, church planter, and Christian missiologist. Stetzer is Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and Executive Director of the Billy Graham Centre at Wheaton College. He is the North American Regional Director for Lausanne International and serves as interim Teaching Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City. He is a contributor to the North American discussion on missional church, church planting, church revitalization, and Christian cultural engagement.
Rankin and Stetzer have come from different backgrounds and experiences but all that they have done reflects the shared focus on the great commission. They believe God is moving in providence and power toward that coming day when representatives from every people, tongue, tribe, and nation will be gathered around the throne of God. Praise for the Lamb that was slain and the ushering in of the kingdom of God will result in the worship and praise of the One to whom all glory is due.
Their conviction is always that the task of discipling the nations is
not the responsibility of an elite group of missionaries sent out on
behalf of the church but this is a mandate given to all the people of
God. No one is exempt from the task of bearing witness to the ends
of the earth of the salvation that can be found in Jesus Christ alone.
They have each sought to mobilize and channel the potential of local churches toward fulfillment of the Great Commission. In recent years their roles have merged at times as opportunities for coordinated collaboration in meeting this challenge have surfaced.
They make the point that God is moving in unprecedented ways to penetrate nations and peoples long deprived of the message of the gospel and as we move further into the 21st century this sovereign God is using global events to open doors of opportunity in response to the pervasive spiritual hunger of a sinful and fallen world. Yet, an enemy exists who is jealous of God's glory and is doing everything he possibly can using his devious and evil schemes to barricade the spread of the gospel and hinder the proclamation of God's glory.
Satan is identified as the deceiver of the nations. His subtle tactics as an angel of light are powerful as he tries to weaken and distort the witness of God's people. The powers of darkness create distorted religious worldviews, cause totalitarian governments to restrict Christian witness, and seek to squelch the advance of the kingdom through the persecution of believers. However, proving to be even more successful is Satan's ability to use our own self-centred, fleshly nature and inclination to compromise with worldly carnal influences that continue to divert God's people from the priority of God's mission.
The message of this book has grown out of seeing many churches begin to catch the vision and be shaped by a passion for involvement in global missions. What could happen if every church and every Christian became obedient to what our God has called us to do? The potential of the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord is evident. But Satan doesn't want that to happen. They pray this book will expose the enemy's tactics and challenge the people of God to become focused on declaring His glory among the nations.
So, what we intend to do in this blog series is to give a brief summary of each chapter in this book and hopefully learn how the enemy is trying to deter us from our Great Commission work and spark some discussion about how we can overcome the enemy’s efforts and see the truth in God’s word.
I know that there are many of you who have liked our blog posts and we are grateful for this. But I would like to ask you to take this engagement to the next level. Would you also share these posts on your social media platforms? When you like a post, we are the only ones that know and see your engagement. But if you share these posts, your friends see the link to the blog posts and the message spreads far beyond OMS Canada’s network. So let’s make this go as far as we can and engage as many of God’s people as possible.
THE PROBLEM OF PRAYER
Welcome back to this series on prayer. If you have missed any previous posts, you can click here to catch up. But in this post, we are focusing on the problem of prayer.
For many, perhaps even most, there appears to be a problem with prayer. “It’s a one-way conversation.” “It doesn’t seem to work.” “God takes too long to answer.” “God does what He wants anyway.”
Crushed in the mortar and pestle of life, it’s easy to think there’s a serious problem with prayer: God. When God doesn’t answer according to our will, we can get frustrated. We can feel like our prayers are just floating around the ether, too insignificant to catch the Creator’s attention. And, in the midst of this disappointment, we’re often too slow to accept that the problem with prayer is not God, but us, and always us.
The Problem of Misunderstanding Prayer
It’s pretty normal to think that life would be a lot easier if God answered a few more strategic prayers—just a couple key petitions to remind us that He’s listening. We can be convinced that a profound healing here and there would add spice to the life of the church.
Then God healed Karen.
The Sunday school class gathered for desperate prayer the night before the surgery to remove a tumor from Karen’s brain. The surgery would probably render her unable to speak for a long time. We asked God to comfort her husband, daughter, and family at this time of crisis, to help the surgeons, to speed her recovery, and—if He willed—to miraculously heal her.
Of course, that last part was just for show. Although we believed God could heal Karen, we were certain He would use less glorious means.
The next morning the tumour had disappeared.
We assumed Karen’s response would be just as profound as God’s answer to prayer. After all, when a person experiences the awesome intervention of the Almighty God, we should expect an explosive revival, right?
Less than a year later, Karen left the church and divorced her husband.
We had always thought answers to prayer would strengthen faith and ignite thanksgiving. Disappointed in Karen’s response, we were reminded that even the Israelites grumbled and rebelled in the midst of powerful answers to their requests (Numbers 11:1-4).
You see, the problem with prayer is not God, but us.
The Problem of Abusing Prayer
When I was a young person, my family came under the “prosperity gospel in the ‘70’s,” the “name it-claim it” theology that overwhelmed Christian television and bookstores—and continues to overwhelm today. “Don’t make negative confessions,” I was told. “If you’re sick, confess that you’re healed!”
On one occasion, I mentioned to a self-proclaimed “prophetess” that I was going bald. Instantly, she placed her hand on my head and shouted, “No you’re not—in the name of Jesus!” That “prophetess” treated prayer like a credit card she could whip out at any time to make major purchases.
We may not be as extreme as that woman, but we can all fall into the trap of abusing prayer. While we may tack on a half hearted “Thy will be done,” deep down we think, “No! My will be done!” Yes, Christ said, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7), but His brother James reminds us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3).
Once again, the problem with prayer is not God, but us.
Correcting the Problem with Prayer
After 51 years of following Jesus, I’d hoped to have a better handle on prayer. I don’t. In fact, the more I pray, the less I understand its profound mysteries. However, I’ve come to several conclusions that might help correct our perceived problems with prayer.
If a father constantly gives in to a little child’s whiny demands, we’d take him for a lousy parent. Why, then, do some think God’s a stubborn God when He doesn’t give us everything we want?
1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” That is, God won’t jump at every loose-lipped confession. Prayer offered up in true faith submits to His will—our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God’s will is to change us, not please us.
Second, we need to accept that the power of prayer is perceived in even the smallest response, really, any response at all. I am convinced that humans don’t fully comprehend how little we deserve God’s love and grace. Consider that what we regard as “crumbs” of answered prayer may really be bountiful feasts once we realize that God owes us nothing (Genesis 32:9-10; Luke 7:6-9). When we adjust our attitude about our own unworthiness to receive God’s favor, we’ll never regard “small” answers to prayer as insignificant.
Finally, we need to acknowledge that the process of prayer is not as
important as the attitude of prayer. When God chose in His sovereignty
to heal Karen, He did so even though none of us expected it. Our feeble
prayer was a simple act of faith—turning our worries over to God’s
care (Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6-7). Christians can be hung up on
method, worried that they have not said the right words, have not prayed
hard or often enough, or have not believed deeply enough. That is hocus-pocus, not prayer (Matthew 6:5-8). If you are concerned about not praying with the right words or for the right things, memorize Romans 8:26—God’s Spirit even helped Paul pray!
Of course, these reminders are easy to read, but they are not easy to live. In our finite human minds, we will always perceive “problems” with prayer. Are you struggling with your prayer life, not seeing results, wondering if God is listening? It might be time for an attitude change. It might be finally time to accept that the problem with prayer is never God, but always us.
Leave us a comment and let us know about your experience of prayer and its problem. Is there something we can pray about with you? Send an email to email@example.com.
Want to pray with us? We host two online prayer gatherings each week. Tuesday morning at 10:00 am Eastern time and on Thursday evening at 8:30 pm Eastern time. We are happy to have you join us and we will send you the Zoom link if you ask for it. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 800-784-7077.