Tuesday, December 09, 2014

It's a (not so) wonderful life

We all know that classic Christmas movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
A man ready to jump to his death is given a second chance when an angel visits him.
He then happily rushes home to hold his family, singing as community members pour out love and support.

For many newcomers we work with, this is not what Christmas is like.
They suffer in silence, loneliness and often succumb to abuse and violence as despair sets in.
Crying tears of sadness and depression, rather than tears of joy as “an angel gets his wings”.

That’s one of the reasons we give so many gifts each Christmas.
Trying to reach out and bring hope, love, friendship and Jesus to them.
Each day from mid-November we pack Christmas baskets and gifts for lonely new immigrant families.
Last Saturday was just like any other day. We were packing baskets until the unthinkable happened.
The entire Don Valley Parkway was suddenly closed.
Traffic became unbearable. Ambulances started to fly past us. What was going on?

Sadly what was going on was one of the worst murder/suicides in this country in recent memory.
As we were packing baskets a man living across the street allegedly murdered his wife and kids,
then jumped from a bridge onto Toronto’s busiest highway. The investigation is still underway.

This tragedy is a reminder of how much each of us need to reach out this Christmas!
Thousands of families just like them need to hear of Jesus and his love!
Lonely desperate women in abusive situations need to be comforted.
Children hoping for a better tomorrow need a chance to follow Jesus.
Men must be asked to repent as they are confronted by the claims of Christ!

Sadly it was too late for this family.
Pray that God would lead you to those that need help this Christmas!
As you plan feasts and gatherings with family over the next few weeks,
Remember Jesus' words to all of us :
Luke 14:12: "When you put on a (Christmas) banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
Is this what your Christmas party will look like this year?
Will the poor, crippled, lame and blind be at your table? At your banquet?
This Christmas, as you watch that classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”,
pray for many who are outcasts, immigrants, poor,
and be that angel who visits and rescues them in time!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Wanted: A minister for a growing church...

A great friend & mentor sent this to me recently after it was quoted in one of their sermons. If you can relate please share it with others who may be struggling with the overwhelming burden God has given them to be Jesus' ambassador to the world:
Wanted: A minister for a growing church - a real challenge for the right man. Opportunity to become better acquainted with people. Applicant must offer experience as shop worker, office manager, educator (all levels, including college), artist, salesman, diplomat, writer, theologian, politician, Boy Scout leader, children's worker, minor league athlete, psychologist, vocational counselor, psychiatrist, funeral director, wedding consultant, master of ceremonies, circus clown, missionary, and social worker. Must know all about the problems of birth, marriage, and death; must also be conversant with latest theories and practices in areas like pediatrics, economics, and nuclear science. Right man will hold firm views on every topic, but is careful not to upset people who disagree. Must be forthright but flexible. Returns criticism and backbiting with Christian love and forgiveness. Should have outgoing, friendly disposition at all times. Should be a captivating speaker and intent listener. Directly responsible for views and conduct to all church members and visitors; not confined to direction or support from any one person. Salary not commensurate with experience or need. No overtime pay. All replies kept confidential. Anyone applying will undergo full investigation to determine his sanity.

Monday, July 21, 2014

10 years of ShawnCuthill.com! Happy Anniversary everyone!

It's a historic day for the athensBLOG!! 10 years ago today I fired up this online journal to keep track of the Cuthills adventures as we started in full-time ministry, specifically taking a team to the Olympics in Athens. This explains the name athensBLOG and along the way someone showed me how to register a domain name and www.shawncuthill.com was also used as an easy to remember URL for those who prayed & supported us along the way.

It was a great way to fire off a blog post once a day or so, in the pre-facebook era, and have friends and family updated on everything that was going on.

After a while the athensBLOG got quite a following and comments on my posts piled up along with regular readers. After one contentious debate that went on and on and on, I asked the great people at Quist consulting (ie: Russ) about using server space to host an online forum as an outlet for these discussions. And so after about a year SimpleGathering.com was born. Many of you participated in the early discussions debates and diatribes as the pre-facebook internet lurched toward more social interaction.

The SimpleGathering discussion forum was fascinating and drew many from brethren churches around the world to discuss a myriad of topics. From this collaboration of brethren voices came BrethrenPedia.com, a wiki to help record the history of brethren assemblies. These sites still continue today although I was not able to spend as much time on them as transitioned from Bridlegrove to start our own ministry in Thorncliffe Park.

Our new ministry: www.jesusnetwork.ca
Other sites sprang up like YouTube, then eventually facebook and twitter and challenged blogs for relevance on the web. Posting on social media became the norm and while I bid farewell to regular daily blogging in 2008, I've continued to post on here every couple months. Hopefully some time in the near future all the different online pieces mentioned above can be woven together into one big ShawnCuthill.com experience.

But till then take a look at some of the features on this blog over the years:

The Sayings of Lukas - here        The Sayings of Sylas - here         The Sayings of Olivia - here
Mondays hot topics                     Wednedsay prayer requests        My Jesus years | Only the Injil
My new favorite song                  Greece trips                                Israel trip

So after 1500 odd posts and hundreds of thousands of visitors today I'm taking time to look back on that first blog post on July 21st, 2004 and thank each of you who have been with us along the way! Here's to another 10 years!

Hello everyone, my name is Shawn and I created this blog for myself and my team who are going to the Olympics in Athens from August 4th to September 2nd. I figured a blog would be the best way to tell everyone what we are doing, and keep everyone updated whilie we are overseas. Be sure to check in OFTEN to get up-to-the-minute prayer requests.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

A decision that changed his life - Orlando Franklin in the Superbowl

As my faithful athensBLOG readers will remember, we used to work at Bridlegrove Bible Chapel in Scarborough. We were responsible for youth and community outreach in the Finch/Pharmacy area and made many great connections in the community. We ran a Friday night basketball drop in at the church and hosted various events and retreats. That was 10 years ago. One of the connections we made was with a troubled youth named Orlando Franklin. He was referred to us by the folks at Guelph Bible Camp and had recently got into some trouble with the law. At that camp and one of our youth retreats he gave his life to Jesus and decided to turn his life around. The picture below is from 10 years ago when Orlando was at our place for our youth Superbowl party:
Orlando, center, with other youth from Bridlegrove Bible Chapel
As the New York Post article recalls, Orlando, after getting out of jail made a promise to his mom to turn his life around, and dedicate himself to football. Those who have been following his career know he did just that. Soon after he was involved with our youth, he moved with his mom to Florida, then played for the University of Miami Hurricanes and finally was drafted by the Denver Broncos! He's been a starting offensive lineman for the past 3 years. Today's Superbowl will be the culmination of his promise 10 years ago.
We're very proud of Orlando and what God has done in his life. We continue to track with many of the youth like him that we have known for over 10 years now. It's a good reminder that with any goal you set, it takes time. With discipleship, it takes time. If you want to reach out to others and invest your life in something it will take time. We can't expect that our church/ministry/life will be an overnight success. Don't believe that lie. Instead commit yourself, like Orlando did to getting your hands dirty loving what you do, loving people, making a goal that may take a long long time. 
God is waiting for you to hit rock bottom and make a decision that will change your life. Have the courage to call out to God and ask him to change you. You never know where you might end up.