My Covid Response


It has taken me awhile to sit down and write about this Covid-19. Although I have more time on my hands, I always write out of lessons God has walked me through. I write when I feel freedom and clarity to share the lessons I have internalized. I also wait until I get a sense it is the time to share those thoughts with the world. Social Media is my medium for more spontaneous revelation in these days (of which God is sharing in abundance!).

There are two thoughts that keep swirling around in my head. They have become the focus of a lot of phone and video conversations. The first is that this time came as no surprise to God. He has been aware of this moment and season for all of us as individuals, as a society (global and local) and as the church. He has a grace for this moment to usher us into what he has planned for this time. The second thought is that I do not want this season to pass us before we experience the good things he has for us.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 40:27-28

This thought that “God is not surprised” brings me such peace. His view is not linear like ours. That is why we can receive prophetic words from him. He shares with us in part as a preparation, but he sees in full. There is no death, job loss, financial crisis, gift, or victory that surprises him. He is sufficient in all of these situations. He is prepared to supply all that I need in any situation. He is sufficient and blessing us in this moment we are in. What he asks is for us to call upon his name and ask for him to provide what we need.

This crisis is doing something extraordinary. It is pulling away those things in this world we cling to for support. Our health, our wealth, our friends and family, our ability to travel and yes, our independence (maybe read back to my last blog). It is revealing the things we think bring freedom and happiness and exposing them as fraudulent. Even movies and TV shows aren’t calming people or giving them life.

There is a beauty in this moment that is stripping away the things that take the place of God in our lives. Those idols we cling to are being shown as worthless and lifeless at this time. Realizing God knew this was coming leads to the beautiful revelation he is ready to take on being God in this moment. As all of those other things aren’t able to provide in this moment, God is. As all of those other things can’t silence the fear, God can bring peace. As all of those idols give no clarity on the future, God brings hope. As all of our healthcare systems are overburdened, God is still our healer, and our future can be secure with the knowledge that eternity is with Jesus!

He is prepared to be the place we turn to.

I have been spending the majority of my scripture time in the story of Moses from the point of the plagues in Egypt to the time that Moses is forced to lead his people in the wilderness. It is interesting God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to letting the Israelites go. There is something God wanted to accomplish in the season before freeing Israel (Exodus 6-12).

“But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.”
Exodus 9:12

We might think the best thing would be for God to soften Pharaoh’s heart so Israel could leave Egypt right away. But there was something the Israelites needed to learn before their exodus. They needed to see who their God really was. They needed to see his power and his care for them. I think of how he instructed them to put blood over their door frames to be protected from the death that awaited the Egyptians. God was teaching them, there is nothing I can’t do, and you can look to me as your protector and provider. This season became a point to look back to for generations to come as a reminder of who God is. What could have been a quick moment of deliverance, became a lasting reminder of who we can turn to, and that he knows the ending before we do.

The people of Israel didn’t fully learn the lesson and we get a picture of Israel turning to an idol of their own creation when Moses is gone too long (Exodus 32). The high priest himself enabled this rebellion against God. Instead of just glancing over this, God told a whole generation that they couldn’t enter the promised land because of their rebellion.

“because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Hebrews 12:6

Is this because God is a jealous God? Yes and no. Yes, he instructs us to turn from all idols, but it is not out of vengeance but grace that Israel must wander the desert. Like any good parent, God disciplines those he loves. He does this so they (and future generations) will learn to trust him and his ways. Discipline is not a pleasant thing but it is always good from God. Discipline looks like long suffering until the point that we get it. His grace will always sustain us in the suffering and we will turn to rejoice in it.

The dangerous thing about this season is if we let it pass without embracing it, we will be left behind. This is not because God isn’t gracious but because we have refused his love. God does not abandon us, but our rebellion (sin) creates a chasm between us which removes us from his presence. The good news is that at any point we repent that chasm is filled by the cross and we are invited back into his presence and provision. But if we miss that moment of grace we could be left behind until that moment of repentance (or indefinitely).

This is the second thought that has been driving my prayer life. “God, I don’t want to miss what you have for us in this season by your grace. I don’t want this to pass and go forward the same as I was before this. I want your church to embrace the good things and discipline you have for us now! Please don’t let this time end until we have heard and entered into your provision for this season.”

Just like the Israelite in Egypt, I don’t want us to miss the provision of God and be unprepared for the wilderness ahead.

Remember how King Saul lost his anointing? Although he had good intentions, he ignored the instruction of God and didn’t wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices. He offered them himself and then became defensive when he was exposed. It seems like he was given such a short time to repent of what he did, and he lived the rest of his life without the anointing of God. It instead passed to David. I don’t want us to live the experience of Saul! Please don’t let this be us at the end of this season.

I have such hope for the church in this season. My hope is we will embrace a fear of the Lord and a lifestyle of holiness we couldn’t have imagined prior. My hope is we will understand the gospel in a new way and be bringers of hope and peace to everywhere our feet touch. This is the invitation of God. Can you hear it? He has the storehouses of heaven to provide for us. Will that be our provision?

No Fear

I have been thinking lately about the fruit of the spirit. In particular, I have been thinking about peace. The Holy Spirit produces peace within us and we get to experience it at all times. It is not reliant on circumstances or our emotional state. It is simply available for us to receive as we align ourselves with God by yielding to the Holy Spirit.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:18-20

Many times in my life, I have had people tell me they feel peace around me. I have received this encouragement from people in all walks of life. This peace is not something I have created or cultivated or searched for. It is something that I have learned to receive and live in.

Peace is something we can receive in any moment as we acknowledge and surrender our fears to God.

There is a difference between caution and fear. Caution is when I heed the warning sign that says don’t go on the dark rocks because you may be swept out to sea by a wave. Fear is when you look down every minute to make sure the rock you are standing on isn’t as dark as the ones by the water. Caution informs a decision, whereas fear makes a decision.

Fear paralyzes you. It changes the way you think. It irrationally causes you to self protect. It ignores what is true or logical, and becomes the basis for your decisions. It grabs hold of your emotions, body and mind.

When I lived in Waterloo, I lived in a house with a few guys. We came up with a phrase: fight, flight, or Jesus. Our bodies have a survival mechanism called a “fight or flight” response to stressful situations. Intended for life and death situations, our bodies can overreact to common non-life-threatening stressors in this way as well. When stress (or fear) hits, our body naturally goes into a crisis mode and the crisis centre takes over with fight or flight. Jesus is what we referred to as the other option. We are able to surrender our fear and place our trust in God. We are able to come under the perfect love of God.

Martyrs are an example of this response (ie. Stephen in Acts 7), as is Moses interacting with Pharaoh, and Jesus being arrested (John 18). We are called to a different response than fear. Peace can come as we hand over the fear and the stress and receive the peace offered to us.


I went on a last-minute hiking trip this summer with my friend Mat to Pollets Cove. It was a 5 hour drive to the start of the trail. We arrived just under 2 hours before sunset to the trail that should take way longer than that to complete. We set out anyways and arrived at the end of the trail just after the sunset. Having never been there before, we quickly scouted out a place to set up camp with only the light of dusk to guide us. We set up the tent on a windy cliff top and climbed in the tent as it was raining. While searching for our flashlights, we found some sticky substance in the tent. Our flashlights illuminated a tent covered in marshmallows! An open bag had been left in the tent when it was packed up. We were 10km from the closest people, with no cell reception in an area known for bears, wolves, coyotes and mixed breeds. The wind howled around us and suddenly the fly on our tent blew off as we attempted sleep. My friend was hit with fear (which is understandable given the circumstances). He sat straight up and whispered, “Do you hear that? I think there is an animal out there.” He started praying and quietly said, “JOEL PRAY!” As we prayed he began acknowledging and surrendering his fears to God. We asked for God’s protection and for the tent to stay upright. It took some time, but eventually we found peace and fell asleep. The next morning, we woke up to see that our tent pegs had been ripped out of the ground but the tent poles had somehow dug themselves into the ground to keep the tent upright. The fly stayed attached on one side and didn’t blow away. We were safe, and our prayers had been answered.




Circumstances like this can trigger fears that are dormant in us. The invitation of God is the removal of these fears. Fear is not supposed to dwell in the same house as the love we have found. Perfect love cleans house. It casts out the fear. This perfect love is found only in God. It is the love that Stephen finds as he is addressing the crowds and while being stoned. A removal of fear does not promise the removal of circumstances or pain, but it places the onus for protection away from us and into the hands of God. It brings peace because we can trust that God is good and what he has for us is good. He knows what we need and is trustworthy with everything we hand over to him.

This is the peace we have to offer the world. It is not an invitation to simply manage fear so we can coexist with others. It is an invitation to encounter a perfect love and share it with others. The world experiences the presence of God in us when they spend time with us. They will find their fears disappear in the moments they are with us. But we are not the saviour of their lives. We get to live in the perfect love of our heavenly father at all times. When those who do not know Jesus experience his love in us it is for but a moment. It is a moment of opportunity, an opportunity to be free of fear. The more we encounter the love of God, the more we give access to him in place of fear, the less we are affected by circumstances, even momentarily. The more mature disciples we become, the more steadfast we become, planted securely in the love of the father. God is so faithful and gracious in moments when we still encounter fear and stress. He welcomes us to hand him our fears, and trust in his love.

There is no fear
There is no fear in Your love
With open hearts God
We are ready to run
Into Your presence
There is no fear in Your love
(“No Fear In Your Love” by Jeremy Riddle)

I often find myself singing this chorus. It spurs me on to encounter the love of God. It helps me invite God to expose any fears that are still present and helps me release them to God. It reminds me there is no reason to fear, and to run into his presence completely exposed. It reminds me the only place fear remains is where I haven’t allowed the presence of God access to. His invitation is for all of me. He desires my heart to be wide open to receive the fullness of his perfect love. He desires this for all of us. Listen to the song and respond to the invitation of God to run into his presence, and encounter his perfect love. Hand over your fears to him and encounter peace in the place of fear.

A Thankful Heart

There is so much to be thankful for. The more of life I experience, the more I am aware of this. With the beauty that surrounds us, the people we love, always another new experience awaiting, and a God who loves us, there is really an endless list of things to be thankful for.

It is so easy for our minds to focus on what we have lost, or what we lack. It is easy to feel hard done by or to anticipate hardship. There are so many things wrong with this world. The impact of sin runs deep in this world and affects our daily lives. The impact of the fall from the perfection God created can often cause us to be overwhelmed.

I returned home recently from a wonderful trip to Arizona. It was full of hiking, sporting events, and awesome experiences shared with my brother-in-law. As I was scrolling through my pictures a few days later, I started thanking God for the things I captured on camera. I became thankful for the gift of each moment and experience. Joy rose in me as I acknowledged the gifts from the giver of life.



There is a song by Housefires with lyrics “life is a gift and the giver is good”. This is profound. One can experience this truth through responding in thankfulness to the good gifts God gives. A gift received with a thankful heart brings endless joy.

Less than a week ago marked one year since the passing of my father. It is interesting to be reflecting on this as Thanksgiving approaches. To mark the day, I spent a few hours doing something my father loved to do – watch the waves beat against the rocks. As I did this I started to thank God for the gift of my earthly father. I began to thank God for ways my father loved me: for the way he wanted to experience things with me, for the trips we took because he wanted me to experience spring training baseball with him, for the conferences we went to so I could experience God in new ways, for the way he spent hours watching me play sports and throwing a baseball and football or shooting a basketball in the driveway, and the way he had me write out the ten commandments over and over so I knew why I was being disciplined.

Some of these things I never received with joy or a thankful heart from my father. This week I took time to thank God for the gift of a father who loved me in these ways. I was filled with joy. Even though these experiences are in the past, I have joy today in them. Over the past year, I have handed over what I have lost to God. The disappointment and the pain have been handed over, but even during the process there was reason to be thankful. On this side of the cross, joy is found. On this side, my heart is filled with thanksgiving, and my tongue sings his praise. I still experience moments of sadness, but the reason to be thankful is always there. The joy is within arm’s reach as I thank God, as I recognize the truth of the gifts given. I could have held onto the pain, but Jesus has offered to take it with him to the cross. Why would I refuse?

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
(Colossians 1:15-23)

Colossians 1 has been changing the way I look at everything lately. The simple but profound truth of the cross changes everything. This is what our faith hinges on, and it impacts everything. Peace, wholeness, and rightness are all available through the cross. Death is defeated. This is not an abstract thing. All of the impacts of sin can be placed on the cross with Jesus. Not just the impact of my own sin, but the hurts and the wounds I experience can be excised and placed on the cross with Jesus. This in itself is a great thing we all can be thankful for.

What sin has touched can be made perfect again by Jesus. The taint of sin has been removed. This means that in everything there is a reason to be thankful. What God has created is a perfect gift we can receive and give thanks for. And for those things tainted by sin, we can gratefully experience the transforming touch of Jesus.

I am thankful this year for the gift of people I love. I am thankful for the wonderful creation around me. I am thankful God is making all things new. I am thankful for The Cross. I am thankful he has made himself known to me. I am thankful for his invitation to join in the process of seeing others’ eyes opened to the wonder of God. I am thankful there is so much more life to receive from such a good gift giver!

Learning through Stories

Most people love stories. A good story draws us in and changes us. A well-told story allows us to place ourselves in it and experience it. We get drawn into the lives of the characters and feel the emotions and experiences with them.

While I was living in Abbotsford, I was renting a basement apartment from an awesome family. As we drove together one day to the son’s hockey game, the father told me a story about a friend. This friend was on a camping trip with his family. It was time to leave and they needed to pack up but they were caught in a downpour. This friend decided to speak to the rain to stop and the clouds to part in Jesus’ name. Since I am writing about it, I assume you know what happened next. The sun came out, the rain stopped, and the family spent an afternoon in the lake before packing up a dry tent and hitting the road.

This story stayed in my mind for a while. I wondered,why would Jesus give us authority to do this? Does this bring God glory? It happened. I was encouraged by it, and it had great impact on others who heard it. Yes, I’d say it brought God glory.

A few weeks after hearing this story, my friend Mat came to visit from Halifax. We decided to snowshoe up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. We borrowed snowshoes from a friend and headed to Vancouver. We had not seen the sun for days, and the weather forecast called for clouds and snow on the mountain. There was no sign of it breaking.

Photo taken by Mat Wilton

As we began our trek up the mountain, I was reminded of the story I heard a few weeks before. Mat and I started talking about it and thinking, it would be awesome if we could actually get a view of Vancouver from the top. (At this point we were engulfed in clouds.) So, we decided to take authority in Jesus’ name and tell the clouds to part and the sun to shine through as we summit. We passed a man feeding some ravens as we trekked up and told him what we had asked God for.

As we came to the summit, the clouds began to part, the sun came through and the city of Vancouver became clear! The sun beamed overhead. It was one of those mountain top moments where you understand God more clearly and intimately. An understanding of the authority we have been given snapped into place. We praised God and rejoiced in the beauty surrounding us.


Photo taken by Mat Wilton

On our way back, we stopped and talked with the man we passed who was still hanging out with some ravens. His response to us was awesome. He said, “I believed you guys when you told me it was going to clear.” I think he had more faith than we did. I love that he was part of our experience.

This story occurred after months of learning about the authority we have in Jesus. In the fall, I experienced some great training on authority which challenged how I pray and interact with God. My eyes were opened to a biblical model of prayer that instead of asking for authority, invites us to use the authority Jesus has already given us permission to use.

One of the things I love about God is the way he reveals himself to us. In my story, God used the teaching of others, stories in scripture like Acts 3 where Peter and John encounter a lame man and in Jesus’ name tell him to get up and walk, and a story from a friend. He then provided an opportunity in my own life to change how I live life with him. My goal was not to create an awesome story that I could share with others. It was the result of desiring to walk in expectation and obedience to God.

The extraordinary becomes ordinary and the supernatural becomes natural with God. God makes the experience super and extra! Although we will forever be in awe of God, the supernatural and extraordinary will become normal as we walk out obedience to God. These stories of faith encourage us to further open ourselves to God’s invitation. We learn from these stories what obedience looks like and who God is. As we find new ways to say yes to God, our faith is perfected. Instead of chasing a story to share, let us walk in faithful obedience, responding to the invitations of God.

God is always sharing more of himself with us. In season, God is wanting to renew our minds to live and think like we were created to. Let us be attentive to the teachings, stories, thoughts, and words spoken that can renew our minds and draw us closer to the living God.

The Story of God


I remember when I first made the decision to follow Jesus. It was the summer before high school. I had grown up in the church, but in this moment, God made himself real to me. The creator of the universe showed his love to me as a good Father.

At the moment I turned to Jesus, I fell in love with the stories in the Old Testament. It took me about a week to plow through Genesis and Exodus. I finished the rest of the Old Testament in just a couple of months after that. I have always been in awe of God as I read the stories of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Daniel and others. So much can be learned about who God is as we read how these individuals entered into the story of God in history or “His Story”.

I love stories and I learn best through narratives. Details, dates and names often allude me, but I always remember someone’s story. I have learned so much about who God is through the stories of the Old and New Testaments. I think it is so important to know the scriptures, to know how God has walked with his people from creation to the anticipation of heaven. I strongly believe that scripture is to be our grid. I believe that who God says he is and what he calls us to withstands time.

That being said, I think we can learn from the story of God in the lives of people around us as well. God is still very active today! The narrative of our lives, like the life of Paul or Peter, should be pointing to the nature and presence of God. When we experience hardship, should we not see evidence of God as we do in the story of Daniel in the lion’s den? Are we expecting to discover God at work in our stories?

Stories are incredible. They can make the nature of God real and understandable. If we are walking out life with God, someone could do a bible-study-like exploration of our life. They could look and see the nature of God being displayed and how we are being renewed and transformed into the image of God. Others could be filled with hope and learn about God through our stories.

God is not dead. He is surely alive. We sing this. We believe it is true. But, there is a lie thrown at us that says God will not show up, we are on our own and there is no redemption, no restoration. Our stories can strike that lie down. Hearing someone’s story tells us that God is just as active today. He is surely alive! Are we looking for examples of him being alive? Are we looking for evidence and encouragement through the life and stories of those around us?

When we hear of someone’s journey to hope, do we in turn find hope? When we hear of someone’s story of discovering peace, do we in turn find peace? When we hear of someone discovering God as their Father, is our way of relating with God the Father changed? Is the nature of God the same throughout history? I will likely not be thrown into a burning furnace, but my trust and belief in God’s protection, as I walk in obedience, is profoundly increased as I read about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3.

“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Revelation 12:11)

Testimony is powerful! In the face of our accuser, the one speaking lies and trying to condemn us, we overcome through Jesus and our testimony, our testimony of God in us! I have never understood the expression “it’s just a story”. A story is a powerful medium that can bring life.

Have you ever had someone come up to you and say, “I see how God has been at work in your life and it is beautiful”? It is so encouraging! It reminds us that God is present. When someone shares what they are learning through your life it can strengthen us to keep going. It can silence the accuser and remind us that God is at work.

The next time someone shares from their life, do not look at it as just another story. Look at how it fits into God’s ongoing story.