In April, we were challenged with some questions:
Now that two months have passed, how have we spent our time during the lockdown? How has it changed our perception of the Lord in our lives? Have we come to realize that our Lord is bigger than these global events? Bigger than the problems we face from day to day? Is He the firm foundation that every aspect of our lives is built on? Has He become the one indispensable voice that we need to hear from every day? These may seem like broad questions, but the reality is when we learn to find Him at the end of all our questions, and the answer to all our concerns, then the prevailing storms of life no longer become the thing that sway us, rather we learn to recognize them as reminders to press on, into Him because there is still more of Him to see.
Yet, just as we see the positive case numbers dropping for some areas, we hear about the potential for a second wave. In fact, relaxing restrictions too early has other areas already experiencing the resurgence in drastic spikes of new cases. Just as we think we can move forward as a society, the thin veneer of our forward-thinking civilization cracks. The foundations on which we've built our aspirations crumble. Our day-to-day reality has shown us that we simply cannot predict the future.
May our Lord find those who are truly seeking Him to understand the times and to know what we should be doing. May our response now be not the mere performance of religious duty, but to truly know Him. To know that He is larger than the troubles in our lives. To know Him as the One who redeemed us at a great cost. To know Him in a way that we can say that He is our God, and we are His people.
Jeremiah 32:38 They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Looking at the news from day to day, you might think we are starting to see an end to the pandemic. It seems like we're close enough to breathe a sigh of relief as businesses begin to slowly open again, even splash pads and water parks have re-opened. Although we can't say for certain that the pandemic is ending, a lot of people are acting like it has already ended, which has been surprising—many who are ignoring social distancing. The facts are, "This pandemic is only over for people who don't survive it" and if we're not careful, "busyness" begins to consume our lives again. As the lockdown protocols are lifting—we thought people would have more sense to care for one another, respect social distancing with free will after what we've gone through and appreciate a simpler way of life, but we're observing a lot of the opposite in the news.
Before we jump in to join everyone else in relaxing with the gradual return of the creature comforts and "norms" we have come to miss, let's pause for a moment and consider how the Lord is bringing us through an unprecedented time. A continent was on fire, the Raptors became world champions, a virus broke out and stopped the world, civil unrest over inequality has rippled through the world, the price of oil dropped down to lower than some of you have ever seen, March Break was extended, education delivery turned upside down, how you work needed to be re-invented from home, virtual celebrations (birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations), your personal right/freedoms were restricted, etc.
With all these events that the Lord has permitted happening, it's almost easy to become numb to the chaos, but amidst all this there is much that the Lord is looking to gain in your life. We were given an opportunity to pursue the Lord personally in God's chosen social circle of our immediate family.Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
1 Kings 15:5 "because David did that which was right in the sight of Jehovah, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Urijah the Hittite."
There's a phrase that keeps popping up in the accounts of the Kings and Chronicles:
"And he did what was right in the sight of Jehovah..."
A quick search on biblegateway.com reports that the phrase occurs 21 times in the Bible. It is equally important to note the contrasting records (60 references) in the scriptures of "And he did what was evil in the sight of Jehovah". Ultimately God's opinion is the only one that matters. Sometimes we worry so much about what others may think or feel, with peer pressure dictating our responses.
With the school year finishing up, this is the time when we encourage the youth to seek the Lord on how we should be spending our time. Especially this year where many events that parents would have scheduled for us are no longer running, it is prudent to consider how we will spend our "free" time. Will we be engaged in activities that are "right and good in the sight of Jehovah"?
This question shouldn't become a heavy burden, nor should it paralyze us from living because we are constantly worried that we may not be "right in the sight of Jehovah". Recall that even Queen Esther went before a king where she had no assurance of whether she would come out alive. She did not know if she would find grace before him, and if she would be pleasing in his sight (Esther 8:4-5). We who are His have an assurance that Jesus alone does what is right in the sight of Jehovah. In fact, our only standing before God is the righteousness of Jesus substituted for us. So, over this summer vacation time, despite there being no organized physical youth group meetings, even the absence of Christian activities such as Christian conferences (CFC - cancelled, Israel Study Tour - cancelled, WCC - cancelled, WCCC - cancelled, SYC - cancelled), we pray you will continue in Him.
Continuing in Him can be discovering more of His righteousness! Here's a simple suggestion on how to spend your time with Him: Try memorizing the names of the books of the Bible, in order! And as you recall these "Titles", a good question to ask the Lord is "What are you saying in these books?" For example, Lord what were you saying through "Amos"? What do I learn about you from reading your Word? How does this apply to me?
May the Lord have young people who "do what is right in the sight of Jehovah".1 John 2:28-29 "And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him."
Matthew 26:26-30 New International Version (NIV)While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
There is no doubt of our sincerity and devotion to following our Lord's every commandment. There has been much pressure to resume our meetings. Even to simply resume meetings and move them online while restrictions have been placed on physically meeting together. Yes, we do have the technology to do that. But instead of simply "resuming" and conducting our meetings just as we always have, but now online, perhaps the Lord is recovering the simplicity of remembering Him. Why do we have a time called, "The Lord's Table"? What is the Lord saying about this through His scriptures?
It happened "While they were eating".
Jesus took bread.
He broke it and gave.
"Take and eat"
Jesus took a cup.
"Drink from it."
Only one hymn was sung.
Have we overcomplicated our remembering of Him? Has this time apart recovered the simplicity of our faith? We hope there is a clearer understanding why we remember Him as physical gathering restrictions begin to ease up allowing us to physically gather to remember Him again.
Colossians 3:11 New International Version (NIV)11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
"Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers." Government Ontario
As COVID-19 restrictions seem to be ending and we are all allowed to go outside our homes, go back to work, even go back to meetings, then what? Has anything changed? Of course, the obvious, people have gotten sick and died, but what effect has that had on you? Being Christians, we all agree the Lord was in control this whole time, but what was He doing by allowing this? What have we learned and heard from the Lord concerning these times of isolation? How do we go forward? Are there any changes necessary? Do we just go back to the way meetings have always been conducted? Who is the 30 per cent that will be allowed to gather physically? Do we now move forward to meet online so that no one is "left out"? Think of all that work required to make some of the online meetings possible, and then to have it all taken away! We need to hear directly from the Lord for Him to really be all, and in all.
Someone shared with me a question: "What is your endgame?" In other words, at the end of this pandemic, we went through it, survived it, and what was the point of it all? Has there been an increase of the awareness of Christ in you? Have you experienced that He alone is the source of true living waters? Have you discovered that true fellowship is found with Christ alone? And if we do come to the end of this pandemic and are allowed to meet again, how has the Lord spoken to us, what has he shown us in these times of isolation that will change how we conduct ourselves and even our meetings? Will there really be increase for the Lord? Or have we just been so busy trying to replicate what we had before? Seek that which is above! We hope through this time there has been an increase of Christ in you.
Matthew 6:5-7 New International Version (NIV)5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words."
With the cancellation of this year's Summer Youth Conference, it is good to reflect on God's purpose for the conference. It might be interesting to note that in 1999 we also had a year where there was no youth conference. A pause to seek the Lord in His direction for these times. And a big change in more recent years was the removal of electronic devices. Now, we are not against electronic devices, but we quickly found out the absolute hold these devices had on the youth. The first night has typically been the most difficult. In fact, some parents even objected that they could not be in contact with their children (which was not true since they had contact numbers to Redeemer University and Conference Administrators, and they had given their signed consent to abide with conference rules). Some youth even came up with ways of circumventing the conference rule by bringing two devices, one to hand in to the room leader, and the other....
We continue to pray and hope that the youth saw the value of putting away distractions. For the conference, we asked you all to put those devices away so that the week would be spent focussed on Jesus. The first night was always the hardest, but many found that it was quite possible to live without their devices! We were encouraged to take out an actual hardcopy of the Bible and read it, instead of flicking through a bible app. Now that you are not at a conference, do you still have those quiet times with the Lord? And now the world is fiercely demanding your time to be on devices, even giving you free devices, we pray you recognize the battle for your attention.
Jesus taught the disciples: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.In the Secret
If you missed it, or would like to hear the recordings again, here are the recordings from this past weekend's virtual Youth Weekend Conference.Link to recordings
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have been praying for this year's Summer Youth Conference and wanted to provide an update. With the Lord firmly on His throne, we will not be hosting a Summer Youth Conference this year. Not only has the Lord supplied His Word abundantly, but He also gives us abundant time to unite His Word with Faith. To exercise, experience, live out and work out, and more importantly to work it deep into us. Perhaps this is the Lord's reasoning for a sabbatical.
We do thank brothers and sisters for their past and ongoing support for the youth through prayers. May the Lord really get what He is after during these times.
SYC AdministrationHebrews 4:2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
Brothers and Sisters,
Since Longwood University notified us that all summer conferences would be cancelled this year, we have considered several options for the 2020 Christian Family Conference before the Lord.
We have previously posted on the CFC website the possibility of a virtual conference with livestream messages and possible virtual fellowship and prayer groups. Later, we sent out an email requesting prayer for the Lord's will concerning the possibility of just having our speakers provide online messages concerning the burden we believe is from the Lord - "I am doing a Great Work". We stated that we would let you know our decision as things became clearer.
As we have been praying before the Lord and hearing from different ones, we have concluded that there will not be a virtual conference or messages provided regarding the burden.
However, we do believe strongly that this burden is from the Lord for this hour we live in. In view of that we will wait before Him for the possibility of this burden being next year's theme, if He should tarry, and if that is His will.
We thank you all for your prayers, participation and support that has made the CFC possible for His service.
In His Hands,
Usually we don't get a chance to sing this hymn. Probably because of the length... 7 verses spanning 3 and a half pages of our hymn book. But since we all have time now, it might be good to mention what a beautiful hymn this is. I wonder if our brother wrote this during his time in prison.
The hymn describes his yearning for our Lord, and for Him to return.
I remember when I first learned this hymn, I could not sing the words, "Yet day by day and year by year I've waited..." - stopping because I knew it was not true in me. And thinking I could only sing, "Yet today and just today I've waited". How sad that made me feel. I didn't want to sing words that were not true of me to my Lord. It was to my shame that I could not sing these words.
At the end of a Lord's Table meeting at a Family Conference, I remember thinking that "I have not yet laid my eyes upon this Jesus who I am remembering!", and these verses from the hymn resonated in my heart: "Despite Thy joy, there still remains a sigh; When I feel most content, the silent yearning... To see Thee face to face becomes an uttered cry."
The Lord has awakened a longing for Him to return. Slowly, as it became real the day by day turned to week by week... and week by week became month by month, until today I realized He has changed it to year by year. So often we are so discouraged at the beginning and forget how faithful He is.
To countless tears and countless fervent pleading, by Thine appearing haste to make reply. Oh may Thou come, the echo of the ages, Come, come and answer now this mighty corporate cry! Has this time being still awakened a yearning for His coming again?Acts 1:9-11 New International Version (NIV)
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Wed, Apr 29, 2020, 7:35 AM
YWC 2020 is Back! New Date & Registration
We hope that you are all staying safe and doing well. We want to give thanks to the Lord that after much prayer we have been given an opportunity to still be able to host the conference this year. The conference will be held on May 23 - 25 and it will be hosted virtually.
We know that the format is different and new, but we hope that we can still gather together as brothers and sisters and have worship with the Lord together and to fellowship on the topic of walking with the Lord.
The messages will be livestreamed and recorded to everyone who is registered but if you would like to participate in the discussion group please mark the boxes on the registration forms. The last day to register will be May 10th and the amount of room we have is limited so please do not delay in registering for the conference.
The schedule and the registration is available on:
Andrew, Colin, Leon, & Timothy (2020 YWC Coordinators)
Subject: Sign's of Life series through the Gospel of John (online youth meetings for this season)
Hey youth workers & parents!
We've been huddling together on zoom with the Richmond youth recently, reading the word, and praying together with our little crew here. But after weeks of that, and requests from some others to join us, we prayerfully thought it best to do something more purposeful and invite any youth who would like to join. The details are all over this site: youthcrew.org (and attached).
We'd love to have help, we'd love to coordinate, and if you're busy with what's going on locally there, we'd love to pray for each other. We're burdened for our youth in Richmond as well as all over. We share this burden with you.
If you're working with a group and would like to join in, you could still lead your local group in the discussion and prayer after the short word. We especially do not want to replace anything happening on a local level. Now is the time when our youth need persona shepherding attention. And if you'd rather use this as a side option that they could tune in and watch the messages, that is okay too. We have discussion questions for each time and feel that if it's possible to have some fellowship after the word, it's the best.
Peace to you,
Geoffrey & Katherine (with the Richmond youth crew)
John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in the Truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:42 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Do you find it interesting that before the COVID-19 restrictions were set in place, we studied God's word on a matter of someone who was also placed under restriction? The firm decree was that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except king Darius, was to be cast into the den of lions. It is wonderful that the Lord prepares us for events before they occur! A living example of one living under restriction.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. Notice, this time he didn't make the decision known to his companions. He didn't consult flesh or blood, he didn't hold an online meeting, when he was found, Daniel simply was praying and making supplication before his God. This was his custom since early days. Perhaps the Lord is desiring to develop this custom in you.
Follow Jesus' example. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35) After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (Mark 6:46) For you to develop a prayer life when no one else is around to see it.
Today we are under a restriction that we cannot physically gather. What if tomorrow, the internet goes down making virtual gatherings also impossible? Do you have this connection established? Thankfully, currently you are not isolated from family members, but even parents will die and leave us. Our hope is that you are connected to the Living God, that you know whom you have believed in if you ever find yourself alone, even in a den of lions. Attending meetings, singing hymns, even reading the bible can just be "customs", it all hinges on the reality of your relationship with Jesus Christ. You are saved by grace, not by attending meetings. There is such a movement for others to shepherd you, but only Jesus can say: I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me (John 10:14). Our prayer is for the youth to follow Jesus only.
There are times when we read through the Word, and we come across stories that just seem impossible. For instance, when you're reading through Joshua and the battle with the Amorites where the Sun was stopped over Gibeon and the moon over Aijalon, the whole imagery sounds like nothing short of a miracle (Joshua 10:12-13).
As we go through life, inevitably the Lord shakes things up and brings us into situations where we become aware of how much we need Him. Whether that means grappling with family matters, social matters or even thinking about applying to University, the need for the Lord to give direction becomes incredibly apparent. Sometimes, during those instances, we even come to the realization of how busy we have become, praying even that the Lord would just stop the world-even for a moment, so we could have some time with Him and really hear from Him ourselves.
I don't know if we've come to understand how unprecedented these times really are. As we look around, the world has literally come to a stop. The fabric of how we used to function as a society has been completely torn. Our expectations of school and work have been shifted, with some even having had work being taken off their plate for them. These really are unprecedented times, and it is possible that something like this may never happen again in our lifetime; to see the world grind to a halt as it has now.
As routine begins to settle in, and as we become accustomed to a different way of living, would we remember that the very first instance of fellowship was between Adam and the Lord. Our Lord, first and foremost, is looking to meet you. He has allowed the world to come to a stop so that He could meet with you. Take hold of this opportunity and squeeze every minute out of it. For all the things that you are going through in your life right now, your worries and your concerns, the Lord is keenly aware of it all and He is waiting to have fellowship with you.
He knows how much we miss seeing one another, and as He prompts, the hope is that you have reached out to see how each other is doing. But in the same vein, would we also have taken hold of this impossible moment and met with Him too. And when we do get to physically gather again, would we really realize how sweet, and such a blessing it is to do so.
As an encouragement, a song for you to consider the lyrics of as you spend some time with Him.
Praying you are getting lots of opportunities to hear from the Lord in these days when we must stay at home. Even though many of the other meetings have moved online, the youth group will not be having online meetings. We hope you naturally have been in contact with and fellowshipping with one another. Do not think that fellowship occurs only during "meetings". It is strange to force family members (parents and children) in the same household to be simultaneously logged into different meetings while avoiding the real "FaceTime" that the Lord has given our families during the pandemic.
The Lord must have lessons for us to learn as we are physically apart from your peers, but physically together with your family. Praying you all are hearing directly from the Lord Himself.
Continuing to pray that His will is done.
He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
This is an update and encouragement during the times that we are facing now. As many of you know, with the rapid spread of COVID-19, our government has declared a state of emergency and has ordered that all non-essential services cease temporarily. In a way, our Lord has made the “Be still” aspect of the verse very real for us, but let’s remember that the verse does not end there. He reminds us that He has a purpose for this time of being still in our lives and in this situation. Even though we are not able to physically gather as a youth group, for the time being, take this as an opportunity not just to relax or catch up with work, but be reminded that in the stillness He is God. He is to be exalted among the nations despite the fact that, for now, we are living relatively isolated lives.
As a further update, we will not be attending the Youth Weekend Conference this year, as the border has been closed to non-essential travel. We should recognize that we have been very blessed to attend conferences and to gather together! Although we do not have these opportunities right now, our Lord has not left us nor forsaken us. The God who has met us at meetings and conferences is the same God who desires to walk with us daily. Our Lord has not stopped wanting to meet with us. While today is still today, we encourage you to carve out some time each day, dust off your paper Bibles, and see what He's trying to say to you.
Until we get to meet again, please review the chapters we’ve studied together from Daniel and read ahead. Reflect on how the Lord may have prepared us for this situation through our study of Daniel.
Stay safe, stay healthy,
The Lord be with you until we meet again