I have always been a person that pays more attention to someone’s actions more than their words. A couple weeks ago, I got to attend the Christian Youth Workers Conference (CYWC) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with a couple other youth volunteer workers along with our church Youth Pastor. It was an eye opening weekend to say the least. Continue reading
I’ve always found the month of January to be the month of evaluation. That might be considered “late” to some people, because I think most people make December their month of evaluation considering that it’s right before the new year actually begins… but I like Christmas too much to do that 🙂 One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to be consistent and read my Bible and devotional book everyday. It’s always been my goal to do so, but this year I’m wanting to read them intentionally; praying before hand that the Lord would open my heart and eyes to help me dive deeper into my faith during my time with Him. Continue reading
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year is my first year that I actually sat down and wrote a list of goals that I wanted to achieve and work towards this year. 2018 will be a year of development and growth for me! I took time to evaluate myself and pray about the changes that came to mind. Afterwards, I made a list of major goals I wanted to see positive growth in this year:
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” – Job 33:4
It’s been a while… but that’s ok. I feel like everyone goes through those highs and lows in their relationship with God. I know God hasn’t left me, He never has, nor ever will. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6. There are times when I know I should be doing “better” in my walk with the Lord, if that makes sense. It’s funny, I always know when I am not spending enough time with Him, because He talks to me more – telling me to spend more time with Him. Those times when life gets a little out of whack and you aren’t spending enough time in prayer and aren’t submerging yourself in His Word as much as you should be? I don’t know how the Devil does it, he’s sneaky, one thing leads to another and all of a sudden I’m trying to think back to the last time I brought out my bible and just sat in the presence of Jesus. As discouraging as this can sound, I personally find it encouraging. Through it all, Jesus is always still waiting there to spend time with me; to talk to me, to read with me, to listen to me. In my imagination, I picture Jesus sitting at an outdoor cafe in Paris in the summer time. Everything is colourful and full of life, He’s drinking an espresso and has an extra chair across from Him at a bright yellow wrought iron table. He’ll make eye contact with me, take a sip from a glass espresso mug and wave me over to be with Him. Always. It doesn’t change. He is always welcoming, always loving. Why is it so easy to drift away from this???
The other day I was reading in my devotional book. It has been the first time in longer than I’d like to admit. My devotional book is written in first person, as God speaking directly to the reader, “Seek My Face [God’s] and you will find more than you ever dreamed possible. “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” – Philippians 4:7 MSG. Let Me displace worry at the center of your being. I am like a supersaturated cloud, showering peace into the pool of your mind. My nature is to bless, and your nature is to receive with thanksgiving. This is a true fit, designed before the foundation of the world. Glorify My be receiving My blessings gratefully! I am the goal of all your searching. When you seek Me, you find Me and are satisfied. When lesser goals capture your attention, I fade into the background of your life. I am still there, watching and waiting but you function as if you were alone. Actually, My light shines on every situation you will ever face. Live radiantly by expanding your focus to include Me in all your moments. Let nothing dampen your search for Me!”
“When You said, ‘Seek My face” my heart said to You, “Your face Lord, I will seek.” – Psalm 27:8
I continued to look at the book. I reread the words and felt so loved. This was the most gentle “I Told You So” and I realized how badly I had needed it. I closed my eyes and imagined Jesus at the bright yellow table in Paris. “I love you Payton. I will always love you, but I want you to love Me back in the same way.” He spoke softly and sipped His espresso.
“You will seek Me and you will find Me, when you seek Me with all of your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13
The next day, God continued to show me His patience and love. My devotional said, “Come to Me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy My presence. This is the day that I have made. I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow. Search for all that I have prepared for you, anticipating abundant blessings and accepting difficulties as they come. I can weave miracles into the most mundane day if you keep your focus on Me. Come to Me with all of your needs, knowing that My glorious riches are a more-than-adequate supply. Stay in continual communication with Me, so that you can live above your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them. Present you requests to Me with thanksgiving, and My peace, which surpasses all understanding, this will guard your heart and mind.” I felt like God was walking with me, and reached down to grab my hand as we would walk together.
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength, He makes my feet like the feet of the deer and helps me to climb the high places.” – Habakkuk 3:19
It is ultra cliche, but the importance of reading my Bible everyday has been refreshed in me. Staying in God’s Word and continually reading His love letter to us is vital to our walk with Him. I want to have feet that are able to climb the high places God may send me – but that will only happen if I spend time with God and allow Him to teach me and mould me so that when the time comes to climb high, I will be able to! If you’ve been feeling like you’re in a similar slump, I want to encourage you to grab your Bible and a coffee and go sit in a quiet room with lots of sunshine. Spend time with Jesus because He is already there waiting for you. God is patient and kind and softly nudges us to continue seeking Him. We are not perfect and the Lord knows that – so seek Him with all that your heart is able to!
Super Exciting: This past summer, I had the honour of doing the flowers for one of my friends weddings; Kenzie, the lovely bride, was such a joy to work with. Her vision for her and Austin’s big day was very exciting, and I am so blessed to have been able to play a part in their beautiful day!
I recently went through all of the photos I collected while I was in Rio during the summer. I’ll confess that I’m totally a photo album person. When I was little, I would print out photos, cut them into shapes and collage them into books with really cool stickers and fun paper; the whole shebang. Buuuuut now I go online and create books because they turn out way nicer than the ones I used to make… anyways, my photo album is ordered and on it’s way to me *Happy Dance* While going through all the pictures, I was reminded of more stories and miracles that happened in Rio! I hope you don’t mind yet another post 😉
1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. “
On our first day on the streets of Rio, my sister Andra and I got the opportunity to talk with several young adults that were from all over the U.K. one girl was from England, two guys were from Ireland, another two from Germany and Scotland. It was super cool having so many countries standing in one conversation in Brazil! Anyways, this group was the first group my sister and I encountered; we were nervous and didn’t really know what to say. I’ve realized that before the first conversation you have about Jesus is always the one Devil puts up his greatest fight – because if you survive the first, the second and third come easier. Before you know it, you forget what you were originally afraid of! As we approached them I prayed that God would simply give Andra and I the courage to be real, the peace to be calm and the strength to be honest. Have you ever heard of the bread crumb theory? In a conversation, make a comment about God; going to church, your faith – whatever, say something in reference to Christ. If the person you are talking to comments or asks about it, make another small comment. When they ask and the conversation grows talk more and more about Jesus – not shoving the entire loaf of bread down someone’s throat; one slice at a time. You know?
“We came with a group from our church to hand them out to the people we meet from all over the world!” First bread crumb.
“Why would you two come all the way from Canada to give us this? Which church are you from?” They ate it.
“‘We are here with 50+ other Christians from all over the world here in Rio to share Jesus to the people we get to talk to! It’s been so cool to see how many countries are represented here in Rio!” Second bread crumb.
“Why would you want to travel so far to tell people about God and hand out these books?” They ate it again.
So Andra and I began to explain our relationship with Jesus. We told them the story of creation and when sin first entered the world. “God sent His Son Jesus Christ to save the world He created from sin that will lead to death. For us to be saved from death, we must trust Jesus and live our life for Him instead of for ourselves…” As we continued to explain the gospel and salvation the group was listening and asking questions that allowed me to process why I was here. It was as if God was interviewing my sister and I through these young adults’ questions: Payton why are you here? Why do you want to tell others about ME? Why do they need ME? What have I done in your life? I had so much peace as I poured my life to these people. Andra shared her story about how Jesus has helped her in her depression. My sister and I shared about how all of us have sinned and need God, we shared about heaven and hell, about Jesus grace and mercy; after talking for nearly half an hour, one of them said, “You know, I think it’s cool how you both came all this way to share your faith. But just because Jesus works for you, doesn’t mean He will work for me. I think you telling me how Jesus has helped you in specific areas of your life – like depression and stress, helps me to connect with you and wants me to learn more about God. But when you come to me telling me that I’m sinful and going to Hell; I don’t want to listen to you. You should share more about how Jesus Christ helped you instead of Hell.” And with that, we split ways.
If you think of it, please pray for these young adults we talked to! God gave Andra and I 30 minutes to share Him and who knows where they ended up, but God can work through the booklet we gave them, and the conversation we had. Words can ring for years if they spoke to you. It was discouraging watching them walk away but my heart was encouraged because I saw how God used our encounter with that group to lift our spirits to press on and continue to share Him! With our first conversation on the streets being to grounding, I was excited to watch and see how God’s Hand would move during the rest of our time in Rio!
A couple days later, another group from our missions team was at Copacabana Beach. Soldiers were everywhere in Rio. Almost every 20 feet were four soldiers with loaded machine guns. Being from Canada; where firearms are thankfully illegal, it was a bit unnerving to see so many firearms. As the team spread the gospel and handed out booklets to every one on the boardwalk they had opportunities to talk about the gospel, creation and salvation with people. After one conversation, my friend noticed that the guard he was near kept watching him after his conversation with someone else on the boardwalk. We had been told before going out not to approach the soldiers because they were on high alert and a stranger with a big backpack would not be the brightest idea. As my friend went about the boardwalk, this guard kept watching him! A few minutes later, the soldier left his post and approached my friend. He motioned for a book, said thank you, and returned to his post. My friend was in shock. Moments later, the guard went up to him again and asked for three more booklets for the other guards at his post; they all wanted one, but didn’t want to leave their post to get it! It was incredible to watch the power of God work in areas we could not!
One last story! When my team and I were at Copacabana Beach, it was hot and beautiful and packed with people! I don’t think I had ever seen so many bodies in one place at once! I realized what immigrants in Canada were saying when they said there is so much space back home! Anyways, it had been a long and exhausting day, my team and I were running out of books when suddenly a woman ran up to one of the guys on our team, “Here! I don’t need this” she said, as she handed a booklet back to him. It was discouraging to see her going to the effort of returning the book. As he tried to encourage her to hold on to the book and maybe pass it on to a friend or family member, she said, “No! Someone gave me this book yesterday. I went home and I read it. I became a Christian!! This book saved my life! I want to give it back to you so that God can save another life!” I was dumbfounded. Sometimes we underestimate the power of God’s Word. He does not need our words. God uses us to get His Word to those He has hand picked for His kingdom!!
Praise God with me for the work God did in Rio, is continuing to do in Rio and all that is still to happen in Rio! I will be the first to confess that I was one of those people to not believe that tracks and bible booklets were effective for Christ’s kingdom. But God opened my eyes to humble me; having that lady come back and share her story made me remember and realize the reality of Ephesians 3:21-22, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” I am thankful for the time I had in Rio and the opportunity the Lord gave me to be used and watch His work unfold! God is still moving people! Stay close to Him and He will show you and open your eyes to see!
– Stay Satisfied
I have been home from Rio for over a month now – I am so sorry for not posting this sooner! It’s sad how the devil can distract us with other shiny things on the side to prevent us from sharing God’s glory and all that He has done! There’s so much I am excited to tell about my time in Rio; for this post I’m going to focus on what God taught me in Rio and how it’s changed my life since coming home! God enforced one lesson in my life and taught me a new lesson to focus on. He enforced stopping to smell the roses in the world Christ has created and He taught me how to be bold and transparent about my faith in Jesus. I was incredibly excited to experience another part of the world for the Lord.
I love to travel and I want to travel as much of the world as I can, so traveling with a purpose other than fulfilling my own desires was incredibly satisfying and made the trip more valuable. I want to continue to travel with a purpose for Christ everywhere I go in the world! While we were there, other missionaries encouraged us to “stop and smell the roses” – to enjoy Rio while we served the Lord. I loved the reassurance that gave me: God wants our work for Him to be joyful and uplifting, not a chore or something we dread! On our travels there, I was at war with myself, “How was I going to be able to be a witness for Christ and be completely focused on doing this for God and not being distracted with the people, places and things of Rio?!” But the Lord gave me so much peace. “I have made this world for my glory Payton – and I want you to find a balance between enjoying what I have created for you and being my light. Remember I want you to be IN this world – not OF it.” It was exciting to explore the streets of Rio while sharing the gospel with everyone we encountered and tell other people my story with Jesus. There were 14 people on our witnessing team: 12 of us were from my church and then we had 2 wonderful missionary translators that were looking forward to not only guiding us through the city but giving us the opportunities to experience Rio; the people, the tourist points, the food – they wanted to share their culture with us and I was ecstatic! I loved getting to meet people and hear their story.
“Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” -Mark 16:15
The greatest challenge for me, was the language barrier; it was more of a factor than I thought it would be. However, I truly believe that what the devil meant for bad, the Lord planned for good! Speaking only English forced me to be creative with how I shared my faith with the people there. Not knowing Portuguese also gave God so much room for His Hand to work and I got to watch it all happen! I knew that nothing was from what I said or did – because I could say or do much! I know I had asked for prayer in this area, but it was humbling learning that I am merely a vessel and that the Lord does not need me; He WANTS to use me and include me in His glorious plan. I was encouraged by my pastor that even though we may not get that exciting conversation every day; God’s Word speaks so much more than our own word. His Word is passed on and read and reread vs. our word floats away in the wind. I was reminded that God defends and spreads His word and that as long as I am getting it into the hands of the people – God will use it! One day, when my sister Andra and I were at the Olympic Boulevard handing out the gospel and making ourselves available to be used by Christ with our team we met a Brazilian lady named Sonia. She had just a touch of English; the three of us ended up playing a 45 minute game of charades to try and have a conversation. As we talked.. or acted.. Sonia told us how lonely she had been because she has no family near her and her husband travels a lot for work. As she conveyed her sadness my heart was pounding in my chest – Sonia NEEDS to hear about Jesus!!! I prayed asking God to send out translator back our way for that just maybe we could tell her about the love and grace she could have in Jesus! As our game of charades continued, our translator; Cynthia came along!! Andra quick explained our situation and how we have been trying to tell Sonia about Jesus’ love. So Cynthia talked to Sonia in Portuguese for us and told her about Jesus for Andra and I. A moment later, Sonia’s face lit up with excitement, “I KNOW JESUS!!” I was shocked. We talked more, turns out that Sonia is also a missionary for Jesus and her husband goes back to raise support for their missions work while she holds down the fort at home in Brazil! I could not believe it. Sonia then explained that she just felt the Lord telling her to come and talk to my sister and I. We prayed together, exchanged contact information. God had all of us there to encourage each other to stay strong and to continue spreading God’s seed. My heart was so full that not only was God looking out for His lost sheep, but also encouraging His sheep to press on.
Since coming back from Rio, the Lord has shown me that I have no excuses here in Canada: I can speak the language, I understand the culture, I know the city, etc. While in Rio I learned how blessed I am to not be bound by language, culture, currency, etc. I have the freedom and knowledge in Canada to share the gospel and Jesus’ name far and wide! Being home now, I am challenged to continue to be bold about my faith and be open and willing to share and create opportunities to share Christ – not wait for them to land on my lap! Since coming back home I have had several situations where I was able to share my faith and pass on extra English booklets that I took home from the Olympics! The first weekend I was home, my family and I put on a garage sale. As people came and went through out the day, there was one man that came by that I felt the Lord putting on my heart. As I talked to him he told me that he was from originally from Chile and had moved to Canada a couple years ago – as we talked more we found out that we were both in Rio during the Olympics!! He told me the events he went to and asked which once I saw… Immediately I heard God encourage me, “Be bold Payton!” So I told the man all about sharing Jesus on the streets and gave him one of the extra booklets that I had brought back from Rio. I have no idea what God will do, all I know is that Jesus gave me ground to scatter seed. I am so blessed to share my experiences with other followers of Jesus and encourage them to also be bold and spread the good news. We are to be farmers for Jesus scattering seed everywhere we go – no worrying about the ground it falls on. I am excited that God is continuing to use me and I can’t wait to watch and see how His Holy Spirit continues to work in my home town!
– Stay Satisfied