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Leighton Ford Mininstries

One Pure White Candle (Leighton Ford)

By | Reflections/Essays | No Comments

The year I turned 50 I met my mother for the first time – that is, my birth mother, Dorothy.

I had known from the age of 12 that I was adopted, and had felt chosen and loved and cared for. So it was not until mid-life, while watching the TV series Roots about the descendants of slaves searching for their origins, that I began to wonder about my birth parents. With the help of a friend in Canada I was able to locate Dorothy, and arrange for us to meet.

On a fall afternoon I drove up to her small house north of Toronto. She was standing outside by a pine tree waiting for me. I went to her, gave her a hug, and we went inside to share our histories.

In her bedroom I saw one white candle, standing in a pool of wax on the floor, and asked what the candle was for. She hesitated a moment, then said, “I burn it for purity.”

As she related her story I understood the candle. The summer she was 16 she fell in love with a handsome engineering student in the city where her father was a pastor. That winter she got pregnant and I was the result, and she gave me up for adoption. Her father had never said a word to her about what had happened. She later married another man, had three sons, but that earlier birth had left its mark – thus the lone candle by her bed.

I thought of that candle as we come to Epiphany on Saturday. For millions of Christians around the world this is the end of the “twelve days of Christmas.” It celebrates the wise men who followed the star across the eastern sky until they found the newborn Jesus, and worshiped him.

The Scripture verse that will be read is from the prophet Isaiah: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Even when darkness covers the earth, wrote the prophet, “the Lord will arise, his glory will appear, nations shall come to your light.”

The Christmas lights have been taken down from our streets and stores and windows and stored away until next December. The busy shopping and feasting is over. The kids are back to school. Business as usual has resumed.

But the real reason for Christmas remains. The miracle is not just that a baby was born to the virgin Mary, but that Christ the Savior has come to light up our hearts, and our world.

Dorothy my birth mother married and had three other sons. She was later divorced and lived much of her life alone. I doubt that any of her neighbors knew of that one small candle that she burned, longing for purity, and perhaps forgiveness. When I spoke of faith she said, “I know God loves me. But on a cold winter day if there’s no one in your life to talk to, have a cup of tea with, it’s very lonely.”

All I could do then was to reach over, and give her a hug, and offer what love I could then and for a few years to come.

A young colleague this week told me of reading how at the very beginning of creation God made two lights – a lesser one (the moon at night) and a grander one (the sun by day.) “I may only be a lesser light,” he said, “But I do want to shine for others.”

As for me, this Epiphany, this year, in a world of darkness and dirtiness and conflict, I want to reflect light of Christ to those who, like the wise men are searching.

To light just one candle, today and every day, for purity, for peace, for simplicity.

Leighton Ford

A New Year’s Prayer (Leighton Ford)

By | Poetry | No Comments

A PRAYER AT THE END

AND BEGINNING OF A YEAR

Lord, give me I pray:

A remembering heart for the things that have happened

An attentive heart to what I have learned

A forgiving heart for what has hurt

A grateful heart for what has blessed

A brave heart for what may be required

An open heart to all that may come

A trusting heart to go forth with You

A loving heart for You and all your creation

A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things.

A willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will.

Leighton Ford

Good News Is For Sharing – Colin McCartney

By | Reflections/Essays, Uncategorized | No Comments

“After a conference in Alberta I was walking across a river in Banff and came across a young man gazing at the beauty of the river while smoking marijuana.

I approached him simply because where he stood was a wonderful view. He had a French accent so I asked him where he was from. When he told me he was from Montreal I told him I was born and lived there as well.

This opened up a common ground as we talked about our beloved city. I then asked him what a good Montrealer like him was doing in Banff.

In between puffs of his weed he told me he was searching for the meaning of life. I said a quiet prayer and told him how I had found the meaning of life.  I shared my story of an accident in which I had broken my neck and could have died. That was my time in which I experienced the meaning of life, as being God’s son whom he loves and is pleased with.

We talked back and forth about God as a loving father not a brooding judge. That led me to speak about God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ and what Jesus did for us. I didn’t ask him to get on his knees and say the prayer right there in the spot but I did tell him that God is crazy about him and has already forgiven him if he would just accept his grace through repentance and trusting Jesus.”

 

Rev. Colin McCartney is the founder of UrbanPromise Toronto and current President and Founder of Connect Ministries. Rev. McCartney has appeared on Canadian television, radio and national newspapers regarding urban issues. He is an author of two best sellers (“The Beautiful Disappointment” and “Red Letter Revolution”, Castle Quay Publishers), mentor to pastors and business people and is in high demand as a ministry trainer and coach. Colin is also a popular speaker who has spoken to audiences as large as 7,000

 

Taken from Good News Is For Sharing (Leighton Ford Ministries, Revised Edition, 2017)

Nativity (A Poem By Gerhard Frost)

By | Poetry | No Comments

I visited my friend today.
He’s eighty-five,
and travels light,
a wise and wonderful man.

We spoke of many things,
small talk and big talk,
and when I rose to leave he said,
“Yes, for most of our comings and goings
maps are O.K.
but for the Big Trip
we still follow the Star”

Thanks to you, elder brother
wandering in my wilderness,
man of faith and vision.
You keep Christmas
in my heart.

Rev. Gerhard Frost

The Antidote for Christmas Busyness (Amy Julia Becker)

By | Life with God | No Comments

 

Amy Julia Becker is a former Sandy Ford Fellow and is now an author and speaker. You can find out more about here. We loved her recent Christmas letter and reprint it below:

Dear Friends,

Has your December been busy? Mine has. We’ve raced through activities, rehearsals for the Nutcracker performance, holiday parties for multiple schools and at multiple’s friends’ houses, the holiday party for faculty at our own house, not to mention the shopping and putting up the tree and some of our favorite local traditions, which include Holiday in the Depot (a fun night in our little town which includes a hay ride pulled by horses with jingle bells, fire pits with s’mores, carolers, Santa, and more), Slices with Santa (Santa. Pizza. In the local firehouse.), and our church’s annual Christmas concert and pageant.

But as I felt myself bracing for what felt like an inevitable onslaught of activities, I was reminded of Paul Miller’s words in his book A Praying Life. He wrote something along the lines of, “Jesus had a busy life. But he didn’t have a busy heart.” That’s my desire this season—to quiet my heart, to keep my soul and my inner being in a simple, receptive state of being, ready for joy and wonder and peace and hope and love to enter in. (It’s not my reality. But it is my desire. Perhaps you feel the same way.) Scroll down for upcoming events and family book picks.

Blessings to you—

Amy Julia

Christmas Greetings from India (The Athyals)

By | Reflections/Essays | No Comments

Christmas greetings from Leighton’s friends Saphir & Sakhi Athyal, from India:

Have a great Christmas Season! We wish you an outstanding and fruitful New Year!

Sharing with you a brief reflection on the cost of blessedness:-

BLESSEDNESS OF MARY: PARTNERSHIP IN CHRIST’S SUFFERING
People experience God’s blessings in different forms. In the narratives of Jesus’ birth Mary is described as one ‘highly favored’ and ‘blessed’ by God. What did the ‘blessing’ entail in her case?

*A teenage girl with the wonder and embarrassment of getting pregnant ‘out of wedlock’
*Response of her husband saved only by the voice of an angel of the Lord
*If events did not turn out well the possibility of her being stoned to death for adultery
*Delivery of the baby in extremely difficult circumstances, and life in poverty
*Simeon’s words that a sword would pierce her own soul
*Herod seeking to kill the baby, and the long trek to Egypt and life in a foreign land
*Seeing opposition and threat from the official circles throughout the life of Jesus
*Witnessing her own son dying on the cross: knowing that victory was only through suffering

In the early church Mary gets not even a special mention: only one simple passing reference to her (Acts 1:14) in the post-resurrection narratives. Mary’s blessedness was her unique partnership in God’s plan of salvation of humankind. But this plan meant also her suffering. Her blessedness was the grace of God given her to take part in the suffering of Jesus Christ in his redemptive work. So also, it should be to us.

Blessedness and suffering are interlinked in the Beatitudes in Mathew 5. We are to have the same mind as of Christ who emptied himself, was made nothing, and became obedient even to death on the cross. Why it is that “Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12), we do not understand. The degree of God’s blessing is not the measure of all that we can get from him but the degree of all that we give away for his sake.

It seems that discipleship of Christ necessarily involves suffering as if they are two sides of the same coin. None can follow Christ, he said, unless one takes up his cross and follows him. Mary did that. She shows us the path of blessedness she took from the very start. She tells us that a life that begins with “May it be to me as (God says)”, and partnership with him in his work in our world can be costly – but that is the real blessing.

The cross of Christ was not a detached later development. The shadow of the cross loomed over the manger. The efficacy of the cross is the basis for the joy and peace that Christmas event offers.

Please share with us some thought of yours on Christmas.

Yours in the Lord,
Saphir & Sakhi Athyal

An Autographed Copy of ‘Sandy: A Heart for God’

By | Life with God | No Comments

Would you like an autographed copy of Leighton’s much loved book Sandy: A Heart For God, written about his beloved oldest son and his impactful time on earth?

Just in time for Christmas, you can get one now!

Simply click here and the ordering process is simple and easy.

A great Christmas or New Year’s gift for the special younger person in your life who wants to run their race well for Christ.

Good News Is For Sharing – Carson Pue

By | Evangelism | No Comments

“I love taking public transit to work because I am surrounded with ‘normal’ people – those who are not followers of Jesus. They are the majority – especially in my city.

One time a women in her young twenties boarded the train dressed in black from head to toe and sat right in front of me facing sideways. She looked as through she might work in one of the large towers in the city center. Her style was like ‘professional Goth’. As she was getting settled I was able to see a tattoo on her left cheek. It was an upside down cross.

’I notice your tattoo. Where did you get it done?’ I asked.

She looked directly into my eyes pondering. Was I being judgmental or condemning? She answered with the name of an artist nine blocks from our church.

’I guess if you are going to get a tattoo on your face, you would want to have the right artist’ I answered. ‘My son gets his done by an artist in Calgary. What’s the meaning of your tattoo?’

Laughing, she responded, ‘It is my way of giving the finger to organized religion.’

’Well, it is a very appropriate tattoo for this week,’ I responded.

’Why is that?’

’Because the Pope announced he is resigning and he actually sits on a chair that has an upside down cross engraved on it’.

’He does? Unreal!’ She was really mystified. ‘Why would the Pope have that on his chair?’

’Out of respect for you, I want you to know I am a minister. I work at First Baptist downtown.’ She was flummoxed, her head now fully cocked to one side.

’I know that organized religion can be incredibly frustrating for people to understand and even experience. But the Pope has your symbol on his chair because it reminds us of Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter was crucified on a cross like Jesus but upside down. He was killed because he refused to renounce his faith in Jesus. He didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus and asked to be hung upside down. That’s why the cross on the Pope’s chair. The church was founded by this man – Peter’.

With a softer bewildered look she began to gather her things together for the stop. My morning friend did not seem anxious to run away. Had our commute allowed, we might have talked more’.

Carson Pue

Rev. Dr. Carson Pue is recognized as a leader of leaders. He is known globally through his mentoring of Christian leaders through Arrow Leadership and as the best selling author of Mentoring Leaders: Wisdom for Developing Calling, Character and Competency. Known as a keynote speaker for his masterful storytelling and innovative leadership style, Carson equips others with remarkable and fascinating untold stories behind what it takes to be a Christian and a leader. Carson now serves as Special Assistant to the President at Trinity Western University, and runs Quadrant Leadership Inc. doing executive coaching and mentoring.

From Good News Is For Sharing (2017, Revised Edition, Leighton Ford Ministries)

You can order the book here.

A Thankful Memory of Sandy Ford

By | Reflections and Readings | No Comments

December 1, 2017 at 9:58am:

Thirty-six years ago yesterday I stopped saying “It just isn’t convenient right now to be completely committed to Christ.” And I gave my whole self to trusting Christ while at the funeral of a most amazing 21 year old UNC student who made a difference everywhere he was on campus.

Sandy was even kind enough to stop between class one day and say yes to my request to talk about faith. Sandy was someone who only peripherally knew me through a mutual friend. He suggested we talk after Thanksgiving break but Sandy passed from Time to Eternity the day after Thanksgiving and we were never able to talk.

But at his funeral on November 30 in Charlotte (I skipped class to make the two hour drive to the service all alone) with over a thousand in attendance, Billy Graham (Sandy’s uncle) stood and said “Sandy knew that to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In an instant, I knew, I wanted to live, really live.

In that moment I surrendered and all the arguments of inconvenience melted away. Something about knowing Life captured my heart and in that moment I said, “Lord, if you will let me live, Sandy’s death will not be in vain. Christ’s death will not be in vain. And I will live each moment for You.”

Never have I looked back and questioned, “Was it worth it?” Eternity secure, life abundant now, understanding though, at times, and in excruciatingly trying circumstances, I know each moment of my life has been sifted through the hands of my loving heavenly Father who says “I know the plans I have for you and they are good plans. Trust Me.”

I remember the evening just a few days after Sandy died, I knocked on a (soon to be) friend’s door and said, “You don’t know me but Sandy was your best friend. Please tell me about him.” And he told me about Sandy and more about Christ and introduced me to a new world of hope and real joy. I learned to study the Word and that God is good.

I began to trust His plan for this lost and dying world to know Him and that He wanted to use me to tell this story of redemption. And I did… here and in the Philippines broadcasting the message of Hope behind the then Iron Curtain of communist countries. And then life through the decades of walking with Him…

God gave me my dear husband who is always pointing us to Christ and all these years later, we find, he is a gifted writer, writing a daily email to family and friends each morning before most are awake, entitled, “A Little More Like Jesus.” It challenges me each day to ask God, “How do I look today? I want to look a little more like Jesus.”

Sandy looked like Jesus. My friend who shared Sandy’s story looked like Jesus, the friends who taught me and encouraged me at UNC looked like Jesus and God in His mercy sent me a husband who looks more like his Savior everyday.

“O Lord, Thou didst strike my heart with Your Word and I loved Thee.” May the Word of God on the written page or in the life of a believer cause each of us to long to look a little more like Jesus and not waste another minute saying it’s just not convenient now.

The enemy says “There’s no hurry.” I say, “Life, abundant life, is waiting. Don’t settle for the life this old worn out world offers. Run to Him.

Read the news. Our generation sewed the wind. We are reaping the whirlwind. There is so much more to life than what we see and surmise with our finite minds. Choose Christ. Choose Life. “For me to live is Christ. To die is gain.” Thanks be to God
Frances Knott George

Good News Is For Sharing – Steve Johnson

By | Evangelism | No Comments

Steve’s Story

I was invited to dinner to meet a friend and his guests at a country club. On my right was a well-known basketball coach, and on my left the owner of the club.

We talked basketball for a little while, but most of our conversation centered around our personal ‘faith stories’. After listening to everyone, the owner said, “Steve, I’m a Catholic, can I be a Christian?”!

I shared my story, which was very similar. I had to learn that my parents’ commitment wasn’t enough. I needed to let God know I was committing my life to him.

He tapped me on the shoulder and took me outside. Under a beautiful starry night he said “I want that”. “Want what?” I asked. “I want that relationship with Jesus. I suppose this is where I pray after you.”

I told him I thought he already knew how to talk to God and asked him to pray aloud. He began the most intimate prayer that I have ever heard offering his life to Jesus. Then I prayed, confirming that I heard his commitment and asked God to bless him.

I encouraged him to tell someone the commitment that he had made. He went to the friend who had invited me and watched then embrace.

For years people around that table had prayed for this man. He just needed someone who had a similar story to explain what he didn’t understand. He’s emailed me since with thanks for telling him my story.

Leighton Ford once told me that I am the world’s leading expert – on my story! I’m glad I have shared it often – and especially that evening.

 

Meet Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson made a commitment of his life to Christ at 16 years old and immediately felt led to share the Gospel with those around him. While attending the University of Wisconsin and Bethel Theological Seminary, along with his wife Lynne, Steve started several churches. Eventually he and his brother Paul helped this church planting movement to grow to over 600 churches. This took place while pastoring Community Church in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Steve also co-founded a second global church planting ministry called Vision360 and currently, with Lynne, started a mentoring program for high capacity leaders called 2xGlobal (www.2xGlobal.com). Steve has a speaking ministry across the country, always with the goal of leading people to Christ and then helping them to reach their God given potential.

 

Taken from Good News Is For Sharing (Revised edition, 2017 – Leighton Ford Ministries)

 

 

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