The Name of Love
Earth in silence slept
One unsuspecting morn,
While in a little manger bed
A baby boy was born.
The Timeless entered time
Helpless among the sheep,
He slipped into a robe of flesh
And cried Himself to sleep.
The Father’s precious Son
From here his path will lead Him on
To the brow of Calvary.
Creator clothed in human dress
Omnipotence laid low,
The suffering servant, God with us
Dealt death the final blow.
And Saints who now declare
The birthday of this King,
Redeemed by Calvary’s precious blood
Have greatest cause to sing.
Declare this festal news
Let all the earth proclaim,
A Babe is born in Bethlehem
And Love has found a Name.
Rev. Dr. William Raccah
Every year, around this time, many of us have a familiar experience. We are out shopping, and we’ll go through the checkout line, and pay for the stuff we painstakingly succeeded in wrestling from other shoppers eager to bring home something that would/should make someone else happy. When the cashier hands us back the change or the credit/debit machine so we can finalize our transaction, they’ll say “Happy Holidays,” or perhaps, if allowed, even “Merry Christmas.”
Now, most of us realize that this comment is seldom motivated by the cashier’s genuine interest in whether or not we enjoy the holiday. We are quite aware that they may be saying this because they have been instructed to do so. We can envision the memo from the department store corporate headquarters directing cashiers when to switch from “Have a nice day” to “Happy Holidays,” on the assumption that this will somehow help cement a lasting bond between the store and the customer that won’t evaporate when a competitor opens across the street.
Most of us are aware of all that, and we are quite suspicious of the whole business. But at least once every year, we have a cashier who looks us in the eye and says “Merry Christmas,” and really means it. And, when this happens, it changes our whole day.
There really is something genuine to this whole idea of Christmas cheer. As Dec. 25th draws near, people warm up just a bit. If you’re out and around on Christmas Eve, you’ll probably notice that people are friendlier than on any other day of the year, unless they are harried and desperately trying to find that last minute (forgotten) gift.
People warm up when they are mindful of the Christ child’s birth, and they make an extra effort to practice the virtues the angels sing of: “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.”
But, consider this: why do we notice this at Christmas? Why does this surge in warm-heartedness stand out? It’s probably because, despite our best intentions, good will towards men can easily become a seasonal event rather than a standing policy.
When Christ entered our world, he didn’t come to brighten our Decembers. Rather, he came to transform our lives. It can be hard work to practice good will towards one another. But John the Baptist’s message was that, as we prepare for Christ to come into our lives, we can change our ways.
The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry provide the blueprint for loving our neighbors in a busy and complicated neighborhood. Christ made a point of seeking out the broken and disenfranchised people of his day – the widows, the orphans, the lepers, the prostitutes and those who were down and out – and he saw the value in each one of them. And in so doing, He helped them recognize the value in themselves.
This Christmas season, let us recognize that just as faith is a decision, good will towards people is a series of decisions that work themselves out not in temporary holiday cheer, but in the details of everyday life.
(Rev. Dr. William Raccah is an Educational Consultant, with PAOC credentials in the ABNWT District.)
(REPRINTED BY PERMISSION)
Tips to Help the Pastor Reduce Stress at Christmas
The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. I love the opportunities it brings to spend time with my family and friends, enjoying good fellowship and good food in the process.
And to top it all off, we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior. It’s truly an amazing time.
As a pastor for the last 25 years, I am extremely grateful and appreciative of being part of loving church families. But I have to admit that the holidays can also be a busy and stressful time for those in ministry leadership. You’ve got musicals, Christmas parties, dinners, family engagements, ministry outreach efforts, a sermon to put together each week and possibly a Christmas Eve worship service to prepare for one of the two highest attended gatherings of your church year.
I’ve made my share of mistakes during the holiday seasons and I’ve also learned some things in the process. Here are a few of the practices that have helped me have a more fruitful and rejuvenating holiday season.
- Give yourself permission not to attend every event. Church members love to invite pastors (and their families) to their holiday gatherings—from Sunday School Christmas parties to family get-togethers to community celebrations. Many of these invitations will come at the last minute. You don’t have to accept them all. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable—and honest—say you have other plans when you simply need to spend some time with your family.
- Stay home if you sense your family is stressed. Your family doesn’t have to attend every event. Stay sensitive to your family’s stress level. When you can’t make an event, contact the organizers as early as possible so they can communicate it to the others in attendance.
- Make your presence felt at musicals and special services. Most churches have special events during the holiday season where larger-than-usual crowds will be expected. Take the time during those events to connect with as many people as possible. Shake hands, hug necks and write down prayer requests. Show your community you care during those times.
- Don’t schedule extra events during the holiday season. You may be tempted to schedule something new and unique during this time. Think hard before doing so. Your calendar will already be full. What seems like an amazing holiday ministry event in July will easily turn into one more stress-filled commitment when December comes.
- Commit to serve at a Christmas Eve service two out of three years. Most likely you have a retired pastor or director of missions who would love the opportunity to lead your Christmas Eve service every third year. This gives you an opportunity to visit extended family or just be a normal person during the holidays.
- Keep your walk with Jesus vibrant during this time. Keep up your personal devotional time during the holidays and be prepared to take even more time away for spiritual reflection. The holidays aren’t just physically, emotionally and mentally draining. They can be spiritually draining, too! Make sure you keep yourself recharged.
- Schedule a special date night with your wife. The holidays are a busy time. Take some time to fully communicate to your wife the special place she holds in your life. Use the time to plan your holiday budget and get your schedules in sync.
Know that you don’t have to go through the stressful holiday season alone. If you need someone to talk with, please consider calling our new SBC Pastoral Care Line at 844-PASTOR1. It’s completely confidential and free to use.
I hope you have a great holiday season as you celebrate the birth of our Lord.
Michael Lewis (@pastor4pastors) serves as the North American Mission Board’s executive director of pastoral care and development.
(REPRINTED BY PERMISSION)
Small Beginnings: How Pastor (David) Yongii Cho came to Christ.
As related by Dr. Wayde Goodall
“How my walk of faith began…
My family lived in North Korea. When the war broke out, we lost our home. With other refugees, we traveled south to Pusan. Money and food were extremely scarce, and I worked very hard to eke out an existence of one meal a day and to continue my education.
One day while I was working, blood came up and filled my mouth. Soon it was coming from my nose also, and I struggled to keep from choking until I lapsed into unconsciousness. When I came to, my clothing was soaked in blood. I was too dizzy to rise. How long I lay there, I do not know.
Finally, I struggled to my feet and managed to reach home. All night I was in and out of a coma. My fever rose, and when I coughed, blood gushed out. By morning I was more dead than alive. My parents took me to a hospital and had a doctor examine me. He made X-rays of my chest. Then he said, ‘I am very sorry, but we can do nothing for you. You have less than a month to live.’
‘Doctor,’ I cried, ‘are you telling me the truth?’
He showed me the X-rays and explained, ‘Your right lung is completely destroyed by tuberculosis. The upper part has collapsed, and gangrene has set in. Your left lung is also tubercular. Malnutrition and hard work have caused your heart to enlarge, and it cannot circulate the blood properly. There is no medical help for these things, so I have no choice but to tell you the truth.’
I returned home dazed. My father tried to reassure me, ‘My son, there is no life and no death, no joy and no sorrow – only in Buddha is there reality. Forget about life and death and have peace.’
I protested, ‘The blood that I’m vomiting is real. My suffering is real. Buddha and your philosophies have not helped me. I reject them all.’
One day as I lay there, fear and desperation overcame me, and I cried out, ‘Is there any God? If there is anyone called God anywhere in the universe, please come and help me? I want to make ready to die.’
God heard my prayer and He answered, but in a form I least expected! A young girl knocked at my door and entered carrying a Bible. I was stunned. In our culture women are not forward, and men dislike being taught by them. Arrogantly, I ordered the girl to leave, but she said, ‘I can see that you are dying. I want to tell you about Christ Jesus, my Savior.’
I became angrier and cursed her. I told her that millions of tuberculosis germs were flying around in the air and that she would become infected. She only replied, ‘My Christ will protect me,’ and continued to witness to me. Finally she left, and I said, ‘Bless Buddha, she is gone.’
The following morning, she was back again. This time she sang some songs and read aloud from her Bible. I cursed and called her a Christian dog, but she did nothing against me. All day she talked of Christ.
On the fifth day when she came, I asked why she continued to come and pray for me. ‘There is Someone who constrains me to come here and pray for you,’ she replied.
‘Who is it?’ I asked.
She gave me her Bible, and I began reading at the place she indicated – the first chapter of Matthew.
After a few minutes I said, ‘This is like a telephone directory. How can this help me?’
She told me to read on and I would find a wonderful story. After praying again, she left.
I read on, expecting to find a difficult philosophy such as I had studied in Buddhism. But I found the Bible was about a man called Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
I read about Jesus healing the sick and the dying. I thought, ‘If only I could come to this Jesus. He would help me!’
Reason argued that I could not come. I had cursed and hated Him. I tried to find a Scripture verse showing that Christ hated sinners, but search as I would, I could not find one. Instead, I found that He forgave an adulteress and delivered a demon-possessed man. Always He received the sick and sinful. Slowly, the realization came that although I was the poorest of the poor, a great sinner, and dying with tuberculosis, Jesus Christ would receive me!
I decided to pray and ask Jesus to become my savior. As I prayed, a great peace showered down upon me. Every cell in my body seemed charged with new life. Something began to bubble up inside, and I thought I was going to vomit blood, but I found it was joy! I wanted to sing, but I didn’t know how.
After going through a tremendous amount of rejection from my family because I had left the Buddhist faith, I rented a small room to live in. One day, I locked the door of my room and began to pray. ‘Jesus,’ I said, ‘I want to meet You and have a consultation about my future.’ I waited, but Christ did not come. Then I shut my eyes very tightly hoping He might come in a vision. But no vision appeared. I prayed all day. By night I was soaked in perspiration, but I still prayed. After midnight the strength had left my body, and I lay down to rest.
Suddenly the room became bright. Billows of what I thought was smoke rolled in. I was awestruck. Thinking the house was on fire, I tried to call for help, but no sound came.
In desperation, I looked about and beside me I saw two feet. I looked up higher and saw a white robe.
Then I looked into a face that was like a powerful sun and rays of light going outward. Still I did not know who He was until I saw the crown of thorns. They were piercing His temples and the blood was streaming down. I knew then that He was Jesus Christ. His love seemed to pour over me.
My gods had been gods of fear and curses. Always, I had gone into their temples to beg them not to punish me. But Jesus was different. I felt His love, and all fear left me.
Glorious joy came from my inner being. My tongue and lips began to speak. I tried to stop, but it seemed that another person was controlling them and forcefully expressing Himself. I did not know what it was, but I realized that the more I spoke the better I felt, so I spoke and spoke.
I forgot about the pain in my heart and lungs and ran to a nearby house where a missionary I had met stayed. I knew that Louis Richards, the Assemblies of God missionary, would be able to answer my questions about this experience. I explained to him that I spoke in a strange language. He opened his Bible to the second chapter of Acts and explained that I had been baptized with the Spirit as the early believers were. We cried for joy.
This new experience made me want to witness more. I went out on the streets and told people about Jesus. As I grew stronger, I went from house to house.
One day I realized that I was no longer suffering from heart pain or shortness of breath. I went to the hospital, and after an examination and X-rays, the doctor told me that my lungs were well. No tuberculosis! Even my heart was normal size.” 
Faith in Jesus Christ will change your life forever. As you walk by faith, He will help you grow in your faith and believe in miracles, signs, and wonders. He will use you in amazing ways and give you courage beyond anything you could have thought was possible. Walk by faith. Believe in the impossible. Dream His dreams, and let God . . .
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”
~ 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10, ESV
(Pastor Cho ministers to the largest Christian Congregation in history with over 1 million members in Seoul, South Korea)
(REPRINTED FROM THE ‘WATCHMAN BLOG AND MINISTRY RESOURCES,’ Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington where Dr. Goodall is the Dean of Ministry)
Natural Church Growth
- Jackson Cruz Lionheart Frey – Born September 19, 2016 (3rd son) to Josh and Katie-Lee Frey who serve as Worship and Young Adult’s Pastors at Gateway in Leduc.
- Eli Jacob Trevor – Born November 17, 2016 to Kyle and Jessica Trevor who serve as Youth Pastors at Southside Pentecostal Assembly in Edmonton.
- Avery Joy Clarke – Born November 27, 2016 to Jordan and Jessica Clarke. The Clarkes serve as Youth Pastors on the staff at Evangel Assembly in Edmonton.
With The Lord
- Steve Johnstone: On September 24, Steve passed into the presence of the Lord following a long battle with ‘Lewy Body’ dementia. Steve has held credentials with the PAOC since 1967. He leaves his wife Ruth, son Jeff and daughter Angela to mourn his passing. A musical genius, Steve is well remembered across our fellowship for his passion for Christ, his gentle spirit and ready smile. The story of the Johnstone family journey through this illness is chronicled by Ruth in a book called, When Troubles Fall Like Lemon Drops. Copies of this book may be obtained by contacting the following website: www.whentroublesfall.weebly.com
- Rev. Graydon Giles: On November 4, Rev. Graydon Giles passed into the presence of the Lord at age 81. He was initially credentialed by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland, transferring into the PAOC in 1977. For 16 years he served as a Professor at Vanguard College (Northwest Bible College). He also pastored in Drayton Valley and Barrhead. Dr. Giles loved to preach and teach the Word of God. Upon receiving news of his death, numerous tributes were released by former students who had been deeply touched by Graydon’s life and teaching. He leaves to mourn Norma, his wife of 60 years, two sons Paul and Mark and their respective families.
- Harry Holmquist: Pastor Harry Holmquist, brother to Rev. Roy Holmquist passed into the presence of the Lord on November 28. Harry was retired and his ministry years were spent in the B.C. District. Our prayers for comfort go out to Roy and Marilyn and their extended family.
- West Edmonton Christian Assembly (WECA) renames Marketplace Chapel in the West Edmonton Mall and announces the launch of a Campus Congregation.
WECA CHAPEL – “On Sunday, June 12th 2016, West Edmonton Christian Assembly’s new missional initiative and first multisite campus was announced to its congregation. Through a process of prayerful discussion and negotiation we agreed to sign a five-year lease in West Edmonton Mall for the new “WECA Chapel” allowing our church to join the over 800 stores and services that comprise the largest shopping mall in North America.
We are not opening a retail store, restaurant or entertainment venue; but rather, we look forward to providing a place, presence and programs that address the deepest and most significant realities of human life.
When we see the WECA Chapel, we see a venue where the hopeless can find hope, the lost can find a way and the hurting can find healing. We see a campus in the heart of the mall where the lonely can find community and the discouraged can find encouragement. We see a safe place where the confused can find clarity and those who are spiritually seeking can find a meaningful connection and relationship with a God who loves them more than they could ever fully know.
When we see the WECA Chapel, we see an opportunity for the church to step out in faith, step up to the challenge and step into what God is calling us to do.” (reprinted from WECA’s Website)
The Chapel has undergone extensive renovation and will be re-opening soon.
- The Assembly previously known as New Life Pentecostal Church in Calgary is now Avenue Church. This Congregation is pastored by Rev. John and Cheryll Cuyler.
- The Assembly previously known as Calvary Pentecostal Church in Camrose is now City Lights Church. This Congregation is pastored by Rev. Clayton and Susan Milgate.
- The Assembly known as Highway Christian Centre in Edmonton is now Kingdom Way Church. This Congregation is pastored by Shawn and Shirley Lund.
- The Assembly known as Parkland Community Church in Innisfail is now River of Life Pentecostal Assembly. This Congregation is pastored by Rev. Gerald and Karen Bradbury.
- On November 5, a special fund raising benefit event was held at the Nazarene Church in Wainwright for Doug and Darlene Lindskoog. Doug suffered a debilitating stroke in August. Doug has served as a pastor and chaplain in our District. Many of their community friends gathered to bless them. The evening was organized by Aaron and Melissa Blake.
- On November 30, a special fund raising benefit event was held at Devon Community Church for Dan and Melody Small. Dan suffered a paralyzing aneurism in June. Dan and Melody have served as pastors and chaplains in our District. Many of those who have been influenced by the Smalls gathered to show their appreciation. The evening was organized by Al and Yvonne Downey and Simon and Ruth Clarence.
- Pastor Don and Pam Freckelton have resigned from Swan Hills Community Fellowship and will be moving to Edmonton in the near future.
- Rick and Judy Hilsden have resigned from The Peace Place in Edmonton and will be seeking the Lord’s direction for the next chapter of their ministry. Please pray along with them.
- Rev. Paul and Brenda Sheppard have resigned from God’s House on Okotoks. Please pray for them as they seek the will of God for the next chapter of their ministry journey.
- Rod and Tracy Fortin have resigned from Valley Worship Assembly in Drayton Valley and will be engaged in itinerant ministry.
- Ed Childs has resigned his position at Millwoods Assembly and is seeking the Lord for direction for the future.
- Jeremy Feller – Jeremy and Teresa will begin their duties on January 1, 2017 as Regional Directors for PAOC Missions in Africa.
- Mike and Lori Hinger have returned from Saskatchewan. Lori is now employed with the ABNWT District as Bookkeeper and Mike is ministering on staff at Lighthouse in Stony Plain.
- Marvin Dynna has resigned from his Visitation role at Millwoods Assembly. He continues to travel to Africa and Siberia training leaders in our Colleges there.
- Pray for our District Churches and Pastors. The current economic climate in Alberta has placed a great strain on many of our Churches. People, dependent on the energy and industrial sector for their livelihoods are being laid off or terminated. As a result, the Pastors are carrying a greater share of responsibility than they ever have. Please pray.
- Pray for Marriages and Homes. Stress and Strain on the Marriage and Families of leaders is greater than it has ever been. Please pray that the devises of the enemy will be frustrated and his attacks on the homes of our leaders neutralized. I cannot overstate the urgency of this request.
- Please pray for those of our leaders who are ill or infirm. Yvonne and I are always aware of a number of very significant needs that we are not at liberty to share. There are a number of our credential holders or their immediate family members who desperately need a touch from the Great Physician.
- Please continue to pray for Dan and Melody Small as they re-adjust their lives to the reality of Dan’s paralysis. In June a spinal aneurism left him paraplegic. Dan and Melody are credentialed Chaplains in our District.
- Please pray for Elaine Findlay. She has had multiple surgeries on her throat to remove tissue that continues to grow and restrict her breathing. At the writing of this report, she is awaiting another surgery. David and Elaine are our Pastors at Bethel Pentecostal Church in Barrhead.
- Mike Hinger: On November 25, Mike Hinger suffered a heart attack and spent several days in hospital. We are thankful to our Great Healer and happy to announce that Mike is doing exceptionally well.
- Doug Lindskoog: We rejoice with Doug and Darlene in the quick recovery that Doug has experienced after suffering a severe stroke. The speech and mobility deficit has almost vanished and Doug is feeling well.
- On November Cheryce, daughter of Don and Pam Freckelton, (Pastors in Swan Hills) was struck by an automobile in Calgary. She sustained extensive injuries to her face and jaw area, as well as a badly broken ankle. The doctors have been amazed at her recovery, which is nothing short of miraculous. What was predicted to take weeks was accomplished in just 1 week. To God be the Glory!
Healthy Quotes for Christmas
“He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.” – Augustine
“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – Clive Staples Lewis – The Last Battle 1956.
“Christmas – The day God walked down the stairs of heaven with a baby in His arms.” – Paul Scherer
“Christmas is the moment in which the Immortal God takes on Mortality and begins to walk it through its whole life cycle, ignoble birth, unjust death, resurrection triumph, so that we, who are mortal, might put on Immortality.” – AD2016
“Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.” – Max Lucado – God Came Near– 1987.
(dedicated to Rev. David Findlay, Barrhead, the guru of Puns.)
- Well exercised: “What do you mean, I don’t exercise, Doctor?” Just this week I have done all of the following: Jumped to conclusions, climbed the wall, dragged my heels, pushed my luck, made mountains out of molehills, bent over backwards, ran around in circles, put my foot in my mouth, and beat around the bush.
- Did you hear about the new 12 step program for compulsive talkers? It’s called “On Anon Anon.”
- Are you aware that all of Santa’s Elves are ‘Subordinate Clauses.’
- Lately I have had people coming around advertising ‘burial plots.’ That’s the last thing I need!
- Did you hear about the fellow who was fired from the calendar factory for taking a day off?
District Pastoral Care Resources
In consultation with the Pastoral Care Coordinator (780 977 2179) or the Director of Leader Development and Care (780 426 0018) counseling can be approved an accessed for credential holders and immediate dependent family members. We maintain a current roster of Professional Christian Counselors for the purpose of referral.
In consultation with the Director of Leader Development and Care (780 426 0018) Life Coaching may be approved for credentialed ministers.
The Pastoral Care Department of the ABNWT District endorses the ministry of Kerith Creek Retreats. This centre near Priddis is a ministry of Focus on the Family. The Directors, Marshall and Merrie Eizenga are pastors credentialed with our District. It is well worth the investment.
Clarence Counselling Centre, operated by Rev. Simon and Rev. Ruth Clarence provides Christian Pastoral Counseling on an appointment basis. They may be contacted at email@example.com or (780 289 6112).
Latest posts by Al Downey (see all)
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- THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ME (How I found my place in the continuing story of Pentecost) - June 14, 2016