Jan 18, 2012

Feature Interview: A Conversation with John Almey

The ANVIL Newsletter Feature Interview:

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John…!!!   (John 1:6)

We asked GCF’s own John Almey to share a synopsis of his “life’s story” with us at one of our ANVIL meetings one recent Thursday evening.  It is reprinted here with his permission.  At 81 years of age John is an encouragement to us, and a testimony of God’s faithfulness!  He  reminds us of Caleb, of the Old Testament!

The ANVIL: John, please give us a sense of your family background.

John Almey: I was raised just west of Trenton, Ontario, the ninth child of ten (6 boys & 4 girls).  Four were born in military camps in England and one in Ireland prior to Dad immigrating to Canada in 1920.  Dad was a Regimental Sergeant-Major in both the British and Canadian armies.

The ANVIL: Tell us about some early influences in your life and your journey to faith in Christ.

John Almey: We did not attend church though Mom professed to be Anglican.  One brother, Maurice, who had been in the Airforce accepted Christ as his personal Saviour and became a Pentecostal minister.  He prayed much for the family.

In high school, the sciences were my favourite subjects and I believed in a divine Creator but didn’t give a lot of thought about God.  After graduating in 1948 from high school, I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in working in a lab testing food products for a food company called Crosse & Blackwell.  Since I couldn’t afford university at that time, I accepted.  Four months later the plant was sold, as Crosse & Blackwell were consolidating their companies in the USA and I was out of work.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

My brother Maurice, whom I hardly knew, showed up at the house for a visit.  He was pastoring a church in Haileybury in northern Ontario, and he asked if I would like to come to visit.  My younger brother, who had been up there with Maurice, said “Don’t go!  He will preach at you!”

I went.  He did preach but I didn’t make a commitment to serve Christ.  I did meet some of the kindest and friendliest people I had ever known.  There was definitely something different about them. 

Then one Sunday afternoon, a missionary from China was speaking.  She related that though many of her colleagues perished as the Communist troops swept across China, she and a number of others survived.  The Communist troops had broken through the Nationalist lines, & entered the city where the missionaries had taken refuge in a building on a hill, and proceeded to approach the building firing their weapons.  Suddenly the Communist troops fled!  The Chinese Nationalist’s recaptured the city and she had a chance to question a captured Communist soldier.  She wanted to know why they ran from the building they were in.  The soldier’s reply was unforgettable!  He said “…you had people dressed in white with flaming swords protecting you!”  By the end of the service I knew I had to ask Christ to forgive my sins. 
The ANVIL: How did accepting Christ at age 18 affect your life direction?

John Almey: After staying four months with my brother Maurice and his family, I headed for Toronto to find work. I stayed with my brother’s in-laws and attended theStone Church (a downtown Toronto Pentecostal church).  I got a job in an office of a company building construction machinery and again the Lord provided three other Christians to help me in my growth spiritually and the four of us had devotions at lunch time.  From the Stone Church, I joined a group witnessing on the streets of Toronto.

I didn’t particularly like Toronto, in part because of riding on crowded street cars and the weather was extremely hot that summer. I received a letter from an Inspector of Schools.  His territory took in Cobalt, Haileybury & Kirkland Lake area.  He wanted to know if I would consider taking a rural school as I could teach on a permit with my Grade 13 certificate.  I laughed at the thought and declined.  He kept writing and the summer kept getting hotter!  The company I worked for even sent us home early one day because of the heat.  Finally, I agreed to take a school.  I had already fallen in love with the North Country.  Thus began my teaching career.  It would take me to Wawa for four years where the Lord helped two missionary ladies and I establish a church there.  We began by simply holding street meetings and Sunday Services in the school gym.  The school, Sir James Dunn Public School had 16 teachers at that time, teaching grades 1 to 12.  To get grade 13, they had to go to Sault Ste. Marie.  Most went to work in the Iron mine.

To further my career (I now had a wife and daughter). I accepted a position with the Etobicoke Board of Education.  So here I am back in Toronto.  The Lord led me to attend the Lakeshore Gospel Temple with Pastor Alex Ness, the Senior Pastor.  Two years later the Lord performed a miracle for the growing church and we were able to purchase almost six acres of land on the Queensway for $75,000 that amazed real estate developers who had been trying for years to get the two owners to patch up a quarrel and sell them the land they owned. Thus began 30 years of my life at Queensway Cathedral.  It also led to the creation of a Christian school there from kindergarten to Grade 13.  I was asked to help start-up and run the school for Queensway and serve as chairman of the board. 

Upon retirement, I moved with my wife to Peterborough to help assist with her parents.  There we chose Calvary Church to attend.  My wife had been a Sunday School teacher when Calvary was just getting started in the south end of Peterborough.  Twenty-five years later, Calvary has grown, thanks to the Lord to over 1,000 people!

The PAOC Bible College (EPBC) eventually moved to Toronto. Trent University rented its buildings for 5 years.  Further efforts to sell it failed.  God had a purpose for those buildings.  Today it has reopened again as a Bible
College with 125 students enrolled.

My wife’s health has failed and so my children wanted us to live closer to them to assist us.  So now we are in Georgetown watching and waiting for the Lord’s return.  Praise His wonderful name!

The Name of JESUS !

The Name of JESUS 

750 years before His birth the prophet Isaiah said, "... Unto us a child is born and unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. 

And you will call His name Jesus . . . because He will save His people from their sins !!!"

The right to determine a child’s name belongs to the parents. God, the Father, decided to give the name Jesus to His only Son. It was indeed a suitable name.
It is no accident that this is the name conferred upon the Messiah. Though many others carried that name in His day, God did not hesitate to use it. The name Jesus would encompass all that Jehovah is, and all that He planned to accomplish in the life of mankind. The angel was told that the purpose for calling the child, Jesus was because He would "save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
The name Jesus is short, easy to pronounce, and sweet in sound. Since it speaks of salvation, this name brings to God’s mind those He has saved. Therefore, each time He hears or uses the name it requires that He remember us and how He has saved us. Without a people saved He could not rightfully carry such a name. It is the only saving name given to man. (Acts 4:12)
Though this name was bestowed upon Him before birth, it did not reach its full potential and purpose until His death and resurrection. He was to do more than teach us of God, He was God. He must do more than teach us the way of salvation, He became our salvation, bearing the name Jesus.
Throughout the Old Testament God used names descriptive of His various attributes. The Jehovistic titles were among these. 

He was Jehovah-Jirah because he was a provider, 
Jehovah-Ropheka because He healed, 
Jehovah-Shalom who brought peace, 
Jehovah-Mekaddishkem as the sanctifier of His people, 
Jehovah-Zebaoth (hosts) and 
Jehovah-Nissi (banner) because he led in battle, 
Jehovah-Zidkenu as the righteous God, 
Jehovah-Shammah because He is ever present, and 
Jehovah-Elyon because He was the was the Most High. 

These and other Jehovistic titles exemplify the various traits of Jehovah in saving His people.
Through the Bible, Jesus Christ is called the Just One, the Holy One, the Holy and the Just, the Holy and Righteous One, the Holy One of God, the Faithful and True Witness, the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, the King of saints, the King eternal, immortal, invisible. He is called the Righteous Judge, the Judge of all the earth, the Desire of Nations, and Ensign of the People.
He is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. He is Teacher, Master, Rabboni, Governor, Law-giver, Redeemer, Messiah, Savior and Immanuel. He is the Deliverer, Mediator, Intercessor, a Prince and a Savior, and Mighty to Save.
Many of His names depict His position in this universe and show Him to be exalted above creation. As the Daystar He is the forerunner to all that begins in creation. When He is called the Sword, Shield, and Buckler, He is shown to be the greatest in battle. When He is spoken of as the Most High, He rises above every king and potentate, throne and dominion that is or has been. As the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, He has prevailed to open the seals to the title deed of this earth. As the Bridegroom He carries away the most glorious bride, taken from the clutches of His rival who was the previous suitor of this bride. As the Head of the Corner, Head of the Church, Head of every man, the True Light that lighteth every man which comes into the world, He takes the highest place of authority possible. As our great High Priest, our Passover, the Firstfuits of them that slept, the First Begotten from the dead, and the Resurrection and the Life,
Christ has brought to us the hope of eternal life, an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, which does not fade away and which is reserved in heaven for us. But the name of Jesus Christ includes all of these and more. Jesus is a name which encompasses the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last. Jesus is the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
God’s greatest contribution to man has been a name greater than prophets and kings, higher than men or angels. Everything we do or say can be done in that name above all others. In a sense we "gave" Him that name for it involves salvation, and we are the ones He saved. When He hears the name Jesus, He must be reminded of those who have been purchased through His great sacrifice. There should be in our hearts continual thanksgiving and appreciation for the privilege to use such a lovely name. He has allowed us to apply that name to our lives in baptism, use it when praying for the sick, and lift it up in worship and praise to God!
The name Jehovah is a name which describes God as the self-existent One. It reveals His all-sufficiency and His presence among His people. It is the name by which he has entered into the salvation scheme and purposed to restore the marred estate which Adam lost.
The term salvation with all the various words associated with it brings us our greatest hope. If such terminology were not in our vocabulary, we would be of all creation most in despair.
When we add that great name Jehovah to the concept of salvation, we obtain the name of Jesus, a name which has brought every blessing possible to our sin-torn hearts. Though the world spurns the name of Jesus Christ, and to the angels it holds no redemptive reality, yet to the church of Jesus Christ, the blood-bought bride of Christ, it is the most meaningful and powerful name in existence.
The name of Jesus means everything to us and to Him as well. This is because of all the name does for us. It is the means of our salvation; it brings His presence; it supplies our needs. Thinking upon that name brings revelations of His glory and goodness and transforms into His image!


Prayer Moves the Hand of God !

Prayer moves the hand of God!   Jesus said..."My house will be called a house of prayer".

Pastor Terry has designated each Wednesday in January for a special emphasis on prayer.  As the "head of the home" all men are invited to be there tonight at 6:45pm in the Sanctuary.

Jan 13, 2012

JESUS is ...the Faithful Husband - A Valentines Story

-Studies in Hosea

Story Date: -apx 2800 years ago, During a Time of Rebellion in Hosea’s land (northern kingdom –ISRAEL)

GOD Spoke to Israel through his servant. (Hosea).  The story is given as a similitude, or “similar to”.  Portraying Israel as an Unfaithful wife and God as the Faithful husband. 

God here is incurably in love with his people Israel!

In our modern day context…perhaps here in Georgetown?…. It may have happened something like this ... >>>

He walked along Georgetown’s  Main street one warm summer evening.  He was a little heated and tired from the heat of the day.  His new job kept him busy at pleasing and helping the people he was serving & after a full day at the office he could use a COLD ONE (a cold glass of … ice tea that is!)

He parked at an empty spot in front of the Royal, and crossed at the light.  That’s when he first saw her, … just past the CIBC bank and the Deli, as he walked along main street in Georgetown…  She was sitting down at her table at the Silver Creek CafĂ©, quietly sipping her drink.  He found himself pausing to take in her beauty. 

Her figure was breathtaking to him, to put it mildy.  But he held his stare just a bit too long drinking in her beauty until she somehow turned & noticed his admiring glance.  He’d glanced away quickly to avoid the awkwardness he felt getting caught starring.  Because he’d turned his eyes away so quickly, he’d missed her smile towards him although he seemed to sense it…. and he continued walking.

At only 25 years old & the new pastor in town, he had a reputation to uphold… but as he was still single, he’d often prayed for God to help him in his search for a wife.  He was a godly, man….devoted to God and his message….he had to be careful in how he lived, and who he was seen with.  After all, he had a reputation to maintain!  He lived his life with purpose and a sense of mission.

A few days later, he found himself back on Main street, and … what do you know???…there she was again in the same place.  It was a…different day but, … same restaurant/ same chair/same beautiful girl.  This time …ever bolder, ever hopeful and a bit braver…..He went on inside and ordered his ice tea.  He sat down at a nearby table that gave him a good view of her. 

She was stunning! … Her makeup was light, but highlighted her perfect face.  Her gold jewelry sparkled in the sunlight.  Aah! …her lips, her hips, her…fingertips!!!   She had his attention!

They didn’t say anything to each other at first, …but soon she began to glance his way and then smiled at him, and then even said “hello”.   Overwhelming feelings of some sort of new emotion swept over him… he somehow felt comfortable enough in the situation and began to return her efforts at making small talk, although being as beautiful as she was… he kept looking at her so tenderly.

He knew he’d been asking God for a wife…could this be her, ??? (he wondered).

 There was something magical and captivating in how she held her head & body, she was just so poised he could not look away.

While he was near her, he couldn’t help but notice all the men who while walking by would stare blankly at her beauty, - just as he had…..and she returned each of their admiring glances with a sort of flirtatious smirk ….but he didn’t really notice that part.

Besides….the small talk turned into a conversation…. And  she seemed to be really into him
… She pulled her chair a bit closer, and he moved his just a few inches closer as well. He was absolutely captivated by her!!!   They soon discovered that they had so much in common… family traditions, same religion, same favorite meals, favorite places… it seemed that they were oblivious to the rest of the world as they continued chatting seemingly about a million things.  …what a discovery…the chase was ON!

He asked her for her phone number… & she was only too happy to give it, and even her email address too.

As the months went by they could be seen all over town, walking together, laughing, enjoying  each other’s company & good times and all the  fun that comes with a new and exciting relationship. 
It seemed that life just couldn’t get any better for him and her!

It was late that fall when he proposed to her.  She hesitated slightly, but soon the words gushed out of her mouth…. YES I will marry you!   He already seemed to have her heart, so what could she say but YES!!!   It was such an exciting time for both of them.

After their wedding and honeymoon, the happy couple settled down in a little apartment.  They wanted a house, but since times were bad and money scarce, his salary could only afford the little apartment that they made their home in.

The church wasn’t real big, but they were happy to support such a good pastor who firmly had the interests of the congregation at heart.  He was such a faithful pastor, so the congregation did what they could to support his new life – but it was a struggle financially.  Although happy, the couple wasn’t immune to the stresses of newly wedded life…..there were adjustments to be made….and those bills!  Those bills just kept right on coming.

Soon the children came along, A joy to have, but at the same time they were extra mouths to feed
And yet even more expense.

The stress of it all seemed to affect her more …. She wondered why they had so little, why they couldn’t afford to live better.   It didn’t happen all at once…but you could say that a “coldness” had crept into their relationship.

For Him:

It seemed to happen quite gradually…………….Things kept him busy at the church…. Oh they were all necessary things that had to get done….and after all it was for God and his kingdom!  He was so devoted to his work.  He knew God had selected him to give out a specific message to the people, and that kept him real busy!

For Her:

…she began to  frequent places that she had been to before her marriage.

…she met with the people that she used to hang out with…..the old friends, who as she found out, were still going nowhere.

…after all she reasoned, she couldn’t bother him and his important job, so she seemed to want to launch out on her own she reasoned.

She began to stay out even later when she discovered the freedom that came with hiring a baby babysitter.  --- The kids were more work than she thought they would be. She rationalized, “I need a break”.

Generally, you could say that things deteriorated in their relationship…. At least that’s how she saw it.
Other men seemed so much more exciting to talk to, after being with him for so long.  Frankly, except for his tenderness, he bored her with his pursuit of always helping other people.

It seemed that she stayed out just a little later each night, and enjoyed it just a little bit more each time.  When he asked her about it, she always seemed to have an explanation, but he had an uneasy sense that things were quite wrong.  The house never seemed to be as neat & tidy as it used to be.

He hadn’t said anything, but their second and third children didn’t look at all like him….. (The question of whether they were really his crossed his mind briefly.  …..but He soon brushed off the idea.  He was so in love with her that he knew that probably wasn’t the case - anyway, he’d always thought the best of her.)

She was distant to him ---But why did she seem so distant? "Am I working too hard at the church?"  …He was never really sure why!!

This is the way things went  until, …One morning, when he awoke…. He noticed that she was gone.  Completely.  Even her clothes were missing….He was at once alarmed…. And began to search the streets for her.  It had been a long time coming, but he’d never been so alarmed at her absence!

…He searched for her for years.  She was ….GONE.

Let’s switch back from the contemporary setting,  to the passage we’re looking at in the bible >>> …his name is Hosea, and her name is Gomer.  You can read the rest of the story in the book of Hosea, God’s prophet.

The bible says that when he found her, it was in the marketplace and she was in very bad shape.  She was about to be auctioned off.  He quickly pushed his way to the front of the crowd!  The slave traders had her in locked in shackles so there was no escaping her fate.  She was to be sold off as a slave for her accumulated debts.  The best years of her life were gone; her beauty had long since left her.  The overindulgences in her life had induced the grotesque flab, replacing once beautiful curves.

 Her lovers had said their goodbyes long ago.  She was being auctioned off as a slave, at half-price to the highest bidder!  (Hosea 3:2)

Because of her poor condition, she could not pull-in even the normal 30 pieces of silver, the full price in those days for a slave.  Hosea was so passionate about Gomer.   (He quite frankly just didn’t have that kind of money), but when the bidding came down to 15 pieces, the price he could afford, he quickly raised his hand high to the auctioneer’s call.  He was still so passionate about this women he’d loved and long ago married ….well really he was still married to in spite of her absence. He had to have her back.

Thank the Lord; He’d managed to find the purchase price of 15 pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley, … that was about 86 gallons  – of donkey food!!  …And now he heard the auctioneer call out – “SOLD to the man from the church”!  

He was exposed!  Now everyone in town knew about his wife,  and his story.  He was going to be the laughingstock of his little city.  But that didn’t matter to him. He couldn’t believe it --She was His again!   He didn’t care that everyone in town knew about him and his wife.  It didn’t matter to him – He so desperately wanted her back.  He was overjoyed at who was coming back to his home!!!  He took her home…she was His once again!

This beautiful story is a picture of Christ’s love for his people Israel.   … And it is the same God who had such a passion for us at Calvary.   While this story is specifically written to Israel and the prophecy is of Israel, it is a similitude and its the way Christ loves and pursues each of us, even when we are wayward.   It was us …. “His bride”, his children, his people that he purchased with his own blood! 

He says (of Israel) in Chapter 2, verse 19:  “I am married to you forever!!!”

The Arm of Flesh will fail You:

Hosea was a prophet to the Kingdom of Israel.  His contemporaries were Isaiah, Micah and Amos.  He ministered for about 70 years.  His pulpit themes were sin, judgment and salvation.

Israel although prosperous, and enjoying a time of peace had turned their backs on God.  They were worldly, backslidden and followed after the gods of the surrounding nations.  They worshiped gods with names like Moleck and Baal.   They had forgotten the real God of Israel.  God had wanted to be their King, but they had other ideas and pushed him aside ...left Him.  So God sent Hosea as his messenger into this desperate situation.  He was to communicate God’s message.  God gave him a specific mission.

In Hosea Chapter 1, God told him to “…take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD”.

The indication in the story is that Gomer had left her marriage vows and had begun “messing around”, making money as a prostitute.  Through this parallel story, Hosea told the people that although they had left the LORD, he wasn’t through with him yet.  God makes it clear that even in their darkest hour, GOD will bring restoration through His work on Israel.

God said of Israel, “…she didn’t know that it was I who gave her their corn & wine”.  This is true of us.  We forget that it was God who gave us the corn & wine, times of abundance.  We are prone to forget Him.  Israel would offer this corn, wine and gold as gifts to Moleck  the pagan god.

God has given each of us gifts to use for his glory.  If you abuse or misuse the gifts he gave us, he will take them away.  Rather than trust in God to meet her financial needs, Gomer  took matters into her own hands.   She went & sold herself into prostitution rather than spend time in prayer & waiting for God to meet her needs in His way.  Wrong life choices took their toll on her.

The reason I wanted to relate this story this way is that ….this can be a picture of God and His love for his bride, the church.  He is altogether "crazy in love" over his bride…..YOU ARE HIS BRIDE!!!

He wants you to get to know him, spend time with Him & trust in Him alone.  If you can’t trust him, it’s because you don’t know Him.  So get to know Him through his WORD, and you can learn to trust him more.  You are the “apple of his eye!!!”  … He wants you to trust in him completely no matter what is going on in your life or how dark the way ahead looks.  He wants to empower each of us with his Holy Spirit and use us to touch the lives of others.

Remember this bible story.  Don't ever allow your relationship with the Lord to cool.  Don't let the cover of your bible get dusty.  Don't be careless in your prayer & devotional life.  Your relationship with God has to be a bit like visiting Tim Horton's.  It has to be fresh daily!