The communal graduation verse that the students chose to direct and focus their celebration comes from Colossians 3:23-24. What a great choice, given all the work they’ve done at school and at home in their years at Woodstock Christian School. They have lived and grown through the disruptions and unpredictability of these last two years and are well aware that life can be complicated. As these hardworking students leave the care and learning at WCS that is familiar and move on to the next stage of their school and life journey, the verse they have chosen will be a guide for them. They know and believe that God is present and that it is for Him and through Him that we live and work and have our being. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Congratulations, WCS Class of 2021! Hold onto the hope and joy and peace that only God provides.
We have known some of our eighth grade students for 10 years, and some for just a few years. Staff and students at WCS have been blessed by our bold, creative, athletic, sincere, godly, caring, funny and awesome (and more!) grads. We look forward to celebrating you at the graduation ceremony on Tuesday. We will miss you as you leave, but we also know it’s time for you to move on to new challenges. May you continue to grow in wisdom and understanding. Know that God continues to provide grace and love for you in abundance. He will continue to guide and bless you. Fare well & God bless you, Abigail, Alex, Arianna, Conner, Danika, Duncan, Eden, Erin, Esther, Evyn, Gabriel, Hailey, Jeremy, Judah, Julia, Julie, Katelyn, Naomi, and Paul.Blessings to each of you,
As some of you may know, I am an avid baseball fan. During our many days and evenings at home during the pandemic I have been watching a lot of Toronto Blue Jays baseball games on TV. I miss going to see games at the Rogers Centre. As our family was watching the Blue Jays game a couple of weekends ago, one of the starting pitchers did not have a strong start. In fact, I remember one of the announcers saying the pitcher had to make some ‘in game adjustments’ if he was going to last the expected six or seven innings for a starting pitcher. Well, after a rough first inning, the pitcher did make some ‘in game’ adjustments and continued to pitch into the seventh inning. In fact, he did not surrender another hit for the rest of the game. He actually seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. I wonder if we can learn something from the resiliency of that starting pitcher?
In our devotions and Bible classes in grade eight over the past couple of weeks we have been focussing on Paul and his missionary journeys. I am reminded of this verse from Philippians 3:14 where Paul writes: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The 2020-2021 school year is quickly coming to a close. We at Woodstock Christian School have had to make a number of ‘in game adjustments’ throughout this school year. Our students have gone from in person learning to remote learning twice this year. For the most part, we have been able to make our adjustments. It has not always been easy, but we have done it. As we work to finish out this school year let us all continue to press on. Perhaps we could even tap into our own resiliency and work at getting stronger as the year comes to a close. Thank you to all of the parents in our school community who have stepped up in a big way to support our students while learning from home. I have appreciated being able to partner with you throughout our school year.
Psalm 13:5-6 But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.
It’s almost June and of course June is about finishing well, closing the school year, and about graduating our WCS Class of 2021 on to the next phase of their life. The Psalmist here teaches us a beautiful truth: remembering releases rejoicing.
To worship God is to tell Him we believe Him for who He says He is. Who is God to you? What stories do you have to tell about answered prayers or his continued presence in your life? What do you remember about God’s goodness? Favourite Bible stories provide remembrance and examples of God’s faithfulness and grace. Share those stories. And share your stories. Ask grandparents about their stories. Every day we’re faced with choices to either acknowledge and proclaim God as the great and merciful God He declares Himself to be—or instead to deny Him. If we can’t bring ourselves to trust that He is full of mercy, then perhaps, at least in part, we’re implying that He does not care and is not merciful. There is actually no middle ground. He either is the all-powerful, all loving God His word declares Him to be—or He is not.
Psalm 78:1-4 My people, listen to my teaching. Pay attention to what I say.
I will open my mouth and tell a story. I will speak about things that were hidden.
They happened a long time ago. Our people who lived before us have told us about them.
We won’t hide them from our children. We will tell them to those who live after us.
We will tell them what the Lord has done that is worthy of praise.
We will talk about his power and the wonderful things he has done.
Remember and praise.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Over the weekend I came across some pictures of birthday celebrations of my own children. Last week one of my students reminded the grade 3 class that it will be her birthday on Tuesday, May 25th which is today. Happy birthday! Who doesn’t like birthdays? Who doesn’t like to celebrate with balloons, decorations, cake, candles, gifts, and loved ones?
The Christian Church just celebrated its birthday this past Sunday on the day that is called Pentecost. Pentecost wasn’t a new celebration to the Jews living during the times of the Old and New Testament, as it was initially known as a Feast of Weeks to celebrate the “firstfruits” of the wheat harvest, and followed 50 days after the Passover (or for Christians 50 days after Easter). Just like the wine and bread took a new significance when Jesus died on the cross, Pentecost took on a new significance. It became the birthday for the Church. The “firstfruits” of the Church were gathered and heard the Apostle Peter’s preaching as the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples as was promised by Jesus when he ascended. You can read that story in Acts 2.
Check out these seventeen ways that the Spirit helps us, especially the last point: http://www.westhillscc.com/
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the lengthening of the days and spring sunshine that just makes me itch to get my fingers in some soil. The month of May means pulling out my wheelbarrow and getting back in touch with the earth. Yes, I have farming in my background, perhaps in my blood? The new green of a winter wheat or rye field brings me joy. The smell of cut grass or fresh hay stops me in my tracks. Coffee, sunshine and garden centres in combination make me think of heaven.
Green thumb or not, really, so much of life is about growing and moving forward. Whether nurturing plants or students, guiding a school and a staff, living in a family or in a faith community, we are on a growth journey. Storms, wind, rain and sunshine come in abundance or sometimes not. Conditions change and we navigate, moving forward. I plant seeds and expect sprouts. I plant seedlings and expect them to grow. But I also expect setbacks: slugs, hungry rabbits, lack of rain. As a co-worker with you in God’s service, I pray God’s strength and blessings for each of you as you plant, actually or figuratively, in all the areas of your life.
I love this Bible passage (and wonder what the apostle Paul’s experience was with food production/gardening). It comes to mind often in my discussions and thinking at WCS:
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 NIV
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Patience in waiting. Wait. Aren’t patience and waiting the same thing? Please be patient as I explain the difference: One definition of patience is: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Waiting is defined as “the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.” There is a difference if you look closely: patience highlights the act of having self-control, whereas waiting highlights a delay of any sort of action.
I’ve found myself needing a lot of patience in my waiting; namely: waiting for this pandemic to end... or, at least to have a very minimal impact on my life. It’s difficult to do all that is required in order to keep my neighbour healthy. It’s difficult to follow the rules set out by our government when it becomes an inconvenience or annoyance to me. But when I read the news and think about why these new rules are in place; and what God says about loving our neighbours, it should be a no-brainer for me. Yet, it’s still difficult! In these times of waiting, and when stamina is needed to end well, I find myself needing to turn to God and to His word for encouragement/wisdom. I pray that everyone would be blessed with an extra measure of patience in their waiting as we (hopefully) begin to see the end of this pandemic.
Luke 10:27: And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Axel Hiemstra, Grade 5
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth ... the breastplate of righteousness... with your feet fitted … the shield of faith … the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit...
Vs18: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Take a look at verse 18 again. Did you catch it? First you’ve been commanded to put on the various pieces of armour (makes me think about all the instructions and training this year about how to put on and take off PPE...) The armour is physical and concrete. You put it on and you can take it off. It’s a conscious decision to protect and defend. Take a stand! Stand firm.
But not without prayer. Paul directs us three times in one verse to pray. Pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and keep on praying. The whole process and the fight need to be bathed in, surrounded by prayer, infused with prayer.
Many of us leave home in the morning forgetting that we are in a spiritual battle. It's no wonder we can become overwhelmed or overcome by the trials and temptations we face. When you understand the idea of putting on the armor of God, it changes how you start your day; it strengthens your resolve to focus on and serve Jesus whole-heartedly no matter what comes your way.
Pray in the morning as a way to mindfully put on all of the armor of God. By doing so, you will be inviting the Holy Spirit to empower you, to help, to comfort, and be your strength.
(Sources: NIV, thelife.com/armor-of-god )
Carol Verbeek, Principal
When you heard the news that schools would once again be moving to remote learning, what did you say to yourself? As your children worked at home on school work these past few days, what were you saying to each other? Were they messages such as…
This is impossible. I’ll never get it.
This is not going to work.
We can’t do this again.
Or were your inner voice and conversations more positive such as…
This is hard, but I got this.
Bring it on. I can handle a challenge.
We can do it again!
Mindsets and self talk have a powerful impact on behaviour and outcomes. At school, we have taught students a lot about the importance of fostering a growth mindset and developing grit or being able to persevere through challenges. Unsurprisingly, students with positive mindsets and productive self-talk are much more successful than those with negative attitudes and destructive inner messaging. Did you know that grit and mindsets are stronger indicators of performance and outcomes than intelligence?
For most of us, negativity can be our default, and I have to be very intentional about choosing a positive attitude. We can change our mindsets and develop grit! I try using affirmations, or statements about who I am according to God, to foster resiliency and an accurate outlook. I invite you to challenge yourself this week to monitor your own self talk and think about how you can foster a growth mindset in your home. Try some of these positive affirmations…
I am a child of God.
I am loved unconditionally.
I am not a quitter and persevere through challenges.
I have been created with gifts and abilities and can learn from my mistakes.
I will do my best for God’s glory.
I am His.
Tracy Bulthuis, Learning Support
Armour of God: Ready Shoes
In Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV The Armor of God passage, Paul tells us to stand firm with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Shoes are a part of a Christian’s armour.
Can you imagine going to battle without shoes? You would most likely be in pain with every step, as you pass over all kinds of harsh landscape. Ultimately, it would inhibit your ability to fight.
So, how can the gospel of peace be related to shoes? To start, we must understand what the gospel of peace is. The word “gospel” means “good news,” referring to the sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we can be saved. As a result, this brings us peace. As Christians, we are called to share the good news of Christ with others. Having our shoes fitted with the gospel of peace allows us to do this successfully.
Our shoes equip us to walk through rough areas. In the same way, having hope in Jesus helps us walk through the trials we face. John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Just like having a good pair of shoes can help us walk across rough terrain, having confidence in Christ allows us to boldly proclaim His name. While we may face persecution in this life, we can rest in knowing the Savior of the world loves us and cares for us.
Having our feet fitted with the shoes of the gospel of peace allows us to be ready to share God with others at all times. As Christians, we should always be prepared, as we never know when an opportunity may arise to share the good news of the gospel with someone else. Ultimately, the shoes of peace equip us to fight for Christ in the spiritual battles we face.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
Ephesians 6:10-18 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist … Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
To be a Christian is to be a warrior. Our WCS theme verse speaks about standing firm and strong. We can expect that we will encounter difficulties while we stand our ground. Not once, but several times in our passage the apostle Paul tells us— “Stand.” As Christians, we can expect trouble and conflict, so when it comes we need to be armed, skilled, and ready. In preparing the armor of God, Christians may notice something interesting: every piece of armor (with the exception of one) is defensive. The specifically offensive piece of armor is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God - the Bible. The Bible is the supreme weapon that God has given to the Christian. With this weapon we can attack and defend. Do you remember Jesus in the wilderness fighting the adversary? He fights the adversary with Scripture. He quotes from the Old Testament three times: “It is written,” “It is written,” “It is written.” Satan comes with a temptation, Jesus parries the thrust; he takes out his sword, he defends himself with the word of God. All the pieces of the armor come from God, but the sword in particular is God himself, the Holy Spirit, the Word of God. As Christians, we need to learn as much as we can about God’s word. As we wield this sword in our hands, it protects our sincerity and our holiness and our peace. It protects our righteousness, it protects our hope.
How do we do this and how do we teach our children/students to do this? We study the Word daily. We read our Bibles, learn verses by memory, and hear sermons preached on the word, all to gain an understanding of Scripture. We ask God to reveal himself, to show us wisdom and understanding. Read the word, hear the word, believe the word, study it, pray it. Be armed and ready.
Carol Verbeek, Principal
It is a common response in our community of Christians to say to someone, “I’ll pray for you” to a person’s trial or difficulty. Some of us who do this may have a different response from our current culture when we offer to pray. We may feel “shamed” into silence because prayer is insinuated to be wasteful, insignificant, or not really doing anything. You may be told or it is suggested that prayer is a meaningless promise.
As Christians, we believe in the power of prayer and know it is our first responsive action. We have unshakable confidence in its power and effectiveness.
“There is nothing trite, nothing minimal about “I’ll pray for you.” To say, “I’ll pray for you” is to say, “I will speak with the Author and Creator of all things. He’s my Father and invites me to come to Him any time. I will speak to Him about those things. I will plead His promises. I will speak to the one Being in all the universe Who has all knowledge and all power and Who is perfectly good, and I will ask Him to help, to intercede, to grant joy and peace and meaning.”
Reflections from the writings and quotes of Tim Challies.
Scripture often refers to God, the Almighty, as our shield (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 5:12; Prov. 30:5), and we must keep this in mind as we consider Paul’s call for us to take up the shield of faith. Roman shields, depending on the type, could protect a good portion of the body especially in the Roman phalanx formation. Soldiers would stand shoulder to shoulder in files several ranks deep with interlocking shields and weapons ready. The shield protects as a defensive measure, but does a lot more than take blows from arrows and weapons. The typical Roman shield could also be offensive and push back against the enemy.
How do we see this in terms of faith?
God is our Commander in Chief giving us our war strategy. He is telling us how to conduct ourselves in battle. The shield of faith doesn’t lose hope, it doesn’t give up and it doesn’t quit. The shield of faith believes God and takes Him at His Word—no matter what the situation looks like. This heavy shield can withstand the impact of fiery strikes. We hold onto our faith like a shield. We have to deliberately choose faith in all circumstances. Faith cannot only protect us from the blows of the devil, it can help us push back against him. Second, we can extinguish arrows that Satan sends our way. Not only can faith handle the impact of them, but it extinguish false ideas and doubt. Third, when we band with other Christians, in phalanx formation, it strengthens our faith. Although God won’t shield us from tragedy or loss, he can provide us faith when we need it most.
Carol Verbeek, Principal