Miracles from Heaven: extraordinary true story now a movie

The remarkable true story of a young girl’s faith, hope and healing, this movie may well be the first faith-based film finding critical acclaim and a mainstream audience beyond church-goers.

Little Annabel Beam had not been well for most of her early years. At five, doctors finally diagnosed her with two rare life-threatening digestive disorders.* 

“She would pretty much live on the sofa, with a heating pad on her stomach,” her mother Christy explains. As Annabel’s health continued to deteriorate, she lived with chronic pain and spent far too much time in hospitals. The darkest moment came one day as Christy sat by her nine-year-old daughter's hospital bed. The little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy I just want to die. And I want to go to heaven and live with Jesus where there's no more pain.”

actual movie poster.jpg

Annabel had stopped fighting, and Christy felt she had nothing left to give.

“However much my faith had been tested and I'd questioned Him,” she says, “at that point I just turned it over to God.”

They needed a miracle. One week later, on December 30, 2011, they got one.

While the majorly crazy miracle of Annabel's healing drives the story, the everyday miracles—and the stellar performances and direction revealing them—transports viewers raptly along to the faith-affirming conclusion of death bringing capital-L Life. Perhaps especially if you, like Christy, find your faith wavers in the dark gorges of our journeys.

Master’s Book Store in Haliburton carries both the movie and book, as does Amazon and other retailers.  
*pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and antral hypomotility disorder

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett launch new faith-based television network: LIGHT TV


Acclaimed actress Roma Downey and her husband, producer Mark Burnett, have launched a new free broadcast network featuring family-friendly programming including movies, series and short form content.

"This is the beginning of our new, multi-platform faith and family network, where the demand is greater than ever for family-friendly entertainment," Downey explained.

"As we have already seen from the success of 'The Bible' series and our 20 million social followers, this audience is looking for inspiring and uplifting programming that they can watch in a trusted and safe environment on any platform."

Burnett added that the new network aims to become the "ideal platform to reach the enormously under-served family audience."

Downey starred in the popular 'Touched by an Angel' TV series (and appeared in many other shows and movies); Burnett, also President of MGM Television and Digital, has produced several hit TV shows. Together the power couple have created many well-received feature films and television series.

As their website states. “LIGHT TV is your destination for positive, wholesome entertainment. There is something good on.” Visit them at LIGHTtv.

Sizzling Summer Service 9: Hallelujah Haliburton!

Since beginning to work on her message for the annual Service in the Park, Anne confessed to having had an old song scrolling around her brain. “I’m a stranger here” by the Five-Man Electrical Band, first appeared on their album  ‘Sweet Paradise’.

lakeside baptist church musicians and singers

lakeside baptist church musicians and singers

She read its first verse:

“Well, I'm a stranger here in this place called Earth
And I was sent down here to discover the worth
Of your little blue planet, third from the sun
Come on and show me what you've done.”

The song goes on to lament how earth’s residents had roundly messed up their ‘paradise’. The words led perfectly into an elaboration on the verses from Ephesians read earlier in the service (Eph. 2:1-22) by David Lloyd of the Lighthouse Church.

There, the apostle Paul points out to the church in Ephesus their once messy, sinful lives. Then, including himself, he wrote:  “We tried to satisfy what our sinful nature wanted to do. We followed its longings and thoughts” (v.3).

In fact, the whole Bible tells the story, over and over, of humanity tending to pull back when God reaches out. We do our own thing, run away, miss the mark.  “But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So He gave us new life because of what Christ has done” (v. 4-5).

 "One way!"   bev hicks and anne moore lead the kids in their charge to the crowd

 "One way!"   bev hicks and anne moore lead the kids in their charge to the crowd

As Bev Hicks of Northland Faith Church had the children remind us earlier, “God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift” (v. 8). 

 “So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are members of God’s family,” verse 19 goes on to triumphantly remind us.

This brought to mind for many of us the family of Syrian refugees we’re ready and waiting for. Will we be able to help them feel like members of our community, help them heal from the hurts and fears of feeling unwanted and alien in their own country? We all pray we can share the love of Christ effectively with them.

lakeside Baptist church holds several baptisms in the lake after the service!

lakeside Baptist church holds several baptisms in the lake after the service!

The ‘I’m a stranger here’ song ends with these words:

"We got the rivers and the mountains and the valleys and the trees
We got the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea
We got the ―
Oh, you crazy fools!
Don't you know you had it made?
You were living in paradise
                                                          [photo credit: Elaine Figueroa]

                                                          [photo credit: Elaine Figueroa]

But take it from one who knows
Who knows the gates of Heaven can close
I only pray that you take my advice
'Cause paradise won't come twice"

Finding peace with God, only possible by becoming a friend and follower of Jesus, is beyond remarkably easy. Have  a simple conversation with God (that’s prayer). First, tell Him you’re sorry for the things you’ve thought and done wrong. Ask for His forgiveness. Then thank Him, and ask that His Holy Spirit would live in you forever.

Welcome to the family!

The enduring mystery, wonder and JOY of Christmas

by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

I came across this quotation recently. So many of my senses are involved in reading it that I found it quite delightful.

"Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born. The world had a Saviour! The angels called it ‘Good News,’ and it was.”  (Larry Libby, "The Angels Called it Good News" in Christmas Stories for the Heart)

I think I like it because it reminds me of the King James Version of the Christmas story as Luke records it:

"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:9-11)

Our little human brains can’t describe that night in the kind of precise adjectives that our computer-obsessed society is comfortable with. This is mysterious stuff! So we have to resort to pictures that aren’t as well defined. That shouldn’t be so surprising. After all we are dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime event—the birth of the Saviour of a world gone wrong. Those unschooled, illiterate shepherds did a fine job of getting their story across. I think it was more in the joy on their faces than in the communication through their words. Each time they told the story, to their families, to their friends, to anyone who would listen, that joy must have looked like a bonfire, rays of hope radiating from their whole beings. Good News! Sing it out!

The story hasn’t changed. When we tell it, do we express that same joy, wonder, certainty? Remember this joy doesn’t have to be limited to just Christmastime. The overflowing joy of knowing Christ’s presence in our lives was one of the themes of Jesus’ final teaching with his disciples the night before he died on the cross. He told them of his extravagant love for them—that he loved them as the Father loved Him (John 15:9). After sharing what this eternal relationship looks like, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (v.11). What a promise! Through Jesus Christ our hearts can be filled with joy—real joy!

May you experience real joy this Christmas and always.

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD: Haliburton Highlands does it again

Needy children from around the world thank you, Highlands individuals and churches! You filled 600 shoe-boxes, soon on their way to children in Africa, Central America, South America, needy Caribbean countries, and the Ukraine.

               Some of the 600 shoe boxes collected in the highlands, with brenda watson and chief coordinator, kathy burk

               Some of the 600 shoe boxes collected in the highlands, with brenda watson and chief coordinator, kathy burk

A hands-on project of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child has been bringing help, hope and joy to children in the developing world and areas of conflict for years. Each shoe box communicates the simple message of God’s love to the child who receives it. Operation Christmas Child also opens doors for Samaritan’s Purse to provide further assistance to children, their families, and communities.

Here's but one amazing story of how a shoe box gift had a powerful and lasting impact on Lejla, one of the first children ever to receive an Operation Christmas Child gift box:

Hallelujah Haliburton! Sizzling Summer Service 2015

Heavens opened over Haliburton and the rain held off for another glorious ecumenical service in the park. We joined in lively choruses, kids enjoyed a meaningful presentation by Youth Unlimited's Dana McMahon, and Baptist Church Pastor Paul Graham spoke, appropriately, of our unity in Christ and the need to reach beyond the boxes of our church buildings. 

          Paul preaches to the multitudes

Anne's Reflections on the Christmas Season

by the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

What happened to autumn? It’s really beginning to look, and feel, a lot like Christmas. Snow, cold, blustery winds, early darkness, pretty-coloured lights—all together remind us of our need to prepare for Christmas

For some, this is a wonderful time of year. It brings a lot of happiness to decorate, bake, buy gifts, entertain family and friends, and continue the yearly rituals we have known for decades.

For many others, this Christmastime may not be so wonderful. It could be a painful reminder of a loss in our lives. The loss may be of a loved one, so that one wonders how joy could ever return; but the loss may be of something else: a job, a home, a marriage, one’s health, or independence. We discover that life can sometimes interfere with our traditions, and that discovery is not a pleasant one.

All of us need to be reminded of the Christmas angel’s message: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people.” The angel goes on to tell of the Saviour who has been born. You might be tempted to ask, “So what? What does that have to do with my pain or happiness?

The answer requires knowing the whole story—not just the birth of a baby, but a life lived. This life had much pain that included: hurrying into exile in another country as a young child, settling in an area far from close relatives, living in obscurity for 30 years in spite of several prophecies seeming to indicate just the opposite would happen, and finally, being rejected for no reason by the authorities, abandoned by his closest friends, and then dying a cruel death on a cross without the benefit of a legal trial

Where is the “good news” in that life? Where is the hope? Christianity is the only religion that worships a God who knows, from human experience, the depths of the pain we suffer. Jesus chose to leave life with the Father in heaven to live a human life with all its physical, emotional, and social pain. And He did it because He is love, because He knows and loves each one of us

It never ceases to amaze me that God loves even me. Christmas reminds us that, regardless of our circumstances this year, our ‘sure and certain’ hope is in Jesus, and that is enough

May each one of you have a hopeful and blessed Christmas.

The power and lasting effect of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Operation Christmas Child honestly does bring hope and joy to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes as well as the Good News of God's love. It's such a simple way to be part of a hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ.

If you have the slightest doubt that such a small gift helps or has much if any effect on a child receiving one, please take a few minutes to watch Damaris’ story:

As Damaris explains, you cannot impact one child without impacting her or his family and wider community: the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.

Boxes from Eastern Ontario go to children in Africa, Central America, South America, needy Caribbean countries, and the Ukraine.

You can find more information on Samaritan’s Purse and its Operation Christmas Child here.

A divinely-orchestrated day for the Archbishop to visit

On a perfectly beautiful recent fall Sunday, St. George’s choir and congregation gathered at the Haliburton docks to greet Archbishop Colin Johnson. They sang out a special 150th anniversary song written by organist-extraordinaire, Bill Gliddon, as the bishop arrived by boat.

Accomplished actor and St. George’s member Curtis Eastmure—playing the role of Charles Stewart—spoke eloquently, welcoming the bishop. Stewart had been a manager for the Canadian Land Emigration Company who, after first spying the land from the lake, later oversaw the building of the small wooden 16-by-24-foot building which would become the first church.

After the speech, choir, clergy, parishioners and visitors filed across the street and up the scenic stairs to St. George's for the anniversary service. The choir sang out Te Deum Laudamus (We praise you O God)—an anthem also written by Bill Gliddon.

Colin Johnson’s sermon on ecumenism fit and sat well with the attendants and atmosphere. Members of the various Haliburton churches came forward as the service wrapped up, with greetings and congratulations from their congregations.

“What a marvellous time we had!” reported rector Anne Moore in her Thanksgiving letter. “The weather was perfect; the colours at their prime; the food tasty; the choir and Highland Brass in splendid form; and good friends gathered to celebrate our history and our future. Thanks to the anniversary committee for a well-planned and very enjoyable day. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy is everlasting.

“Giving thanks is good for the soul. It gets our minds off ourselves and our personal worries and onto the One who created each one of us, on purpose, and Who loves us constantly and unconditionally. Praise You, Lord. May we all have thankful hearts.”

(Photos by Darren Lum)

Being changed to be community and world changers

by Louise Sisson

The Highlands were blessed to have Dr. Steve McEvoy visit area churches and teach on fulfilling the Great Commission. He was brought to Haliburton by Sandy Stevens of Put the Word into Action Ministries , a local charity aiming to strengthen and encourage the Body of Christ.

Steve pastored Shepherd’s Heart Prayer Centre in Truro, Nova Scotia for 13 years and now heads up Steve McEvoy Ministries. He also teaches leadership skills to both government agencies and the business community. His seminars are totally scripture-based, even though he cannot use the Bible as a reference in business settings. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his workshops/seminars, I would encourage you to do so.

St. George’s, Lighthouse Pentecostal and Lakeside Baptist churches partnered with Put the Word into Action for various of the seminars, and members of all local churches were invited and encouraged to attend. Although I had been a Christian for many years, Steve took passage after passage of scripture and opened them up to a whole new dimension. For me, it was a life-changing revelation.

The first seminar held at St. George’s (Standing Close to God) emphasized that Jesus did everything required so we can enjoy a relationship with God. He always stands between us and God so that God does not see us as sinful. When I sin, which I will do, it is my responsibility to stand back up, turn to God and receive the forgiveness He offers. This is a new day in my walk with God. We are worthy!

In the next seminar (Walking by Faith), Steve emphasized the fact that faith was given to us by God and only grows as we grow as Christians. How do we grow in faith? By hearing! How do we hear? Through reading the Word! The development of faith is like a newly-developed muscle; at times it will be uncomfortable. God will sometimes lead us into situations beyond our present place of faith, causing us to turn more intensely into the face of God and forcing our faith to grow. Will we stay where we are or will we allow God to lead us forward? The choice is ours!

The third seminar (Running by God’s Strength) spoke to me in two different ways. Firstly, when God created the earth and all that was in it, He gave immense responsibility to humans—similar to when you give someone a gift, you hand over the accountability for the gift to the recipient. Humanity, through choice, relinquished responsibility to the prince of darkness, and so opened the door and allowed evil to come in. So while we sit waiting on God to do something about the state of the world, God waits for US to take our part and do something about it.

Secondly, as we read in John 17:4, Jesus prayed on the mountain before he went to the cross, saying, “Father, I have finished the work that you sent me to do." FINISHED! COMPLETED! There was a work that was finished before he went to the cross. That work was ‘making disciples’ so that what he started here on earth could continue after he opened the other door allowing redemption for humanity.

Each one of us has been equipped and empowered to work as the Lord’s disciples. I asked myself and the congregation, “Before we walk through that door, have we finished the work that He sent us to do?” I challenged the congregation to help raise up the warriors to fight this battle, starting with our children and young people. Although many of us are seniors, we can put new meaning to the word ‘Gray Power’ if we step out of our comfort zone—in faith!

This is the generation where change can begin. It is time to turn the corner! We are working for the Church of Jesus Christ—not the Anglican Church, the Pentecostal Church, the United Church, the Baptist Church, the Community Church or the Catholic Church—although they may be the buildings we meet in. We have to finish the work Jesus sent us to do!

Advent 2012: Anne's Christmas Letter

By the Reverend Canon Anne Moore

Are you ready for Christmas? Tree decorated, cookies baked, presents wrapped?

It is so easy to get distracted among all the preparations for the seasonal festivities that we forget what those preparations were supposed to be for. We become rushed and worried, wondering if we have forgotten anything, and doing some things at the last minute.

We forget that Christmas is a season that starts on December 25th and continues until the 12th day, called Epiphany. There will be lots of time for things we think we have missed.

Because of our busyness, we end up not having the time to adequately prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, after all? We give presents—not to feed our greed, but in thanksgiving for the greatest present of all time, the gift of Jesus. We share our wealth with others because we know that Jesus was born in the worst possible situation of poverty. We decorate, celebrate, light candles, and feast on special food to remind us of the victory won for us on a special night long ago. We re-read the great story and tell it in song so that it is never forgotten. We gather with other believers to worship God Who created us …Who sent His Son to free us … and Who filled us with His Spirit that we would have the power to share His love.

Are you ready for Christmas? It is never too late to choose to follow the way of the Saviour who was born in a stable and lives forever. May you have a blessed and holy Christmas season.

Dying Man Finds Life in Dying Church

Three years ago, Greg Thomas told his family to start planning his funeral. Diagnosed with stage four cancer, he began taking long walks in the country around his home in Montgomery, Minnesota … alone with his dog and his thoughts.

One day, a sort of spiritual serendipity led him to a little church which had been built in 1868 by Czech settlers, but abandoned for the last 100 years. Thomas would have loved to go inside, but the doors to the old Catholic church were locked tight.

 "I tried it more than once," he says. But the church was always locked. Its foundations were crumbling, the paint peeling, but it was there on the church steps, a man crumbling himself began to pray.

Eventually, Thomas contacted the foundation responsible for the upkeep of the church cemetery, telling them he wanted to repair the church. The foundation called Thomas' offer "a godsend."

Today, as Thomas works, he also prays inside the church.

"There's been a lot of tears shed on these [church] steps, and they've been tears of joy, tears of pain, but tears of blessings too."

Photo: KARE 11 News

Photo: KARE 11 News

Miraculously, as the tiny church's exterior was restored, it seemed Greg's body was being restored as well.

"The old church is newly clothed in white," narrates KARE 11 News' Boyd Huppert in a video report. "And Greg's cancer is now in remission."

"It's what He's done for me," Greg explains, referring to the Lord Jesus, "and this is my way of saying thank you.”

Carrying a Mystery to Term

"For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.” Luke 1:37, Amplified Bible

While the Christmas season ends for another year, the mystery enfolding—and enfolded by—the season never ends. It didn’t even begin that first Christmas. It simply revealed itself to us: to all and any who could see or hear, listen—who had ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’—in the eons to come. A mysterious Word, existing since the beginning of time, wrapped in a baby and born into a world so already full of its own words, wonder, beauty and noise—that hearing, seeing, the capital-W Word and Wonder beyond and behind it can be nigh on impossible.

In Mary’s encounter with the angel and then with the Holy Spirit, the divine seed was planted. She treasured and wondered at the words spoken to her, and her body nurtured the ‘Word’ to term.

Imagine carrying and giving birth to a mystery. In a way every mother does, but can you imagine carrying and giving birth to a world-changing mystery that both pre-existed you, life itself, and contained the answers of time and eternity? Completely impossible to comprehend, and that’s the point. Mary embraced what she did not understand, nurtured and treasured it. The holy seed came to term and the world would never be the same.

Have you ever had an inexplicable, dramatic encounter with holiness, with God? By its very nature you can’t explain it to anyone else, but like Mary, you can treasure and nurture it. Trust that the divine seed will come to term.

People who hold onto and nurture what God has said to them, or allowed them to experience—even though they don't understand—carry the fruit of the revelation from God that says: "Nothing will be impossible with God." That’s the commonly translated version of the angel’s words to young Mary when she wondered aloud how on earth she could give birth. A more accurate translation from the Greek would be more like “no freshly spoken word of God will ever come to you that does not contain the ability to perform itself.”

Hallalujah Haliburton: Sizzling Summer Service 4

Head Lake Park simmered and shimmered on a recent Sunday as hundreds of people from Highlands’ area churches sizzled under the hot August sun singing songs of son-shine, listening to messages of hope and grace, and afterwards, witnessing a joy-filled baptismal service in the river.

Harry Morgan, pastor of the area United Churches, opened with prayer. He also joined in with the talented music group, led by Karen Frybort. The team of singers and musicians from several local churches confessed to having only practised together once beforehand, but had 5 weeks of prayer backing them up.

Bev Hicks, leader of the Northland Faith congregation, gathered the children together for a story on character- and life-formation. He held up a boring block of wood, then compared it to a carving of a polar bear, created years ago by his father.

“This polar bear once looked just like this block of wood!” he explained. After describing the transformation, he had the young people turn to face the crowd behind them and proclaim:

"Give God something to work with!"

Bert Zavitz, former pastor of West Guilford Baptist Church, brilliantly illustrated the biblical idea of “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Bert had been asked to bring a tossed salad for a Kawartha Lakes Youth Unlimited staff meeting.

“What goes into a tossed salad and who do I get to toss it at?” he first wondered. But as he got down to the business of creating, he began to see how the ingredients could be compared to our unity-in-diversity in the body of Christ, the church. Each ingredient represents a different church in our community and individual Christians within our churches.

First there’s lettuce: without water, it wilts. And who of course is the water of life who keeps us from wilting? Tomatoes “are meals unto themselves, churches that have everything and do not need anyone else. But boy, they add a lot to the salad when they join!” he added.

Peppers: more colour, crunch, and that needed extra spiciness of the Holy Spirit’s fire. Onions add flavor but also bring tears to our eyes, like “those churches where there is a lot of weeping, even when a joke is told”. Oh and carrots: great colour, more crunch, plus improve our vision. They’re the “churches and individuals who have had vision for our community for things like Youth Unlimited, Church of the Rock, and the Jericho Centre.”

What or who might the croutons represent, he wondered. Perhaps "those dried-up squares in every church, the traditional types still wearing suits and ties?” For those who like to add bacon bits, what might they represent? How about “the churches and individuals who are what Jesus called us to be, salt and light in the world?”

Finally, what every salad need to bind it all together: salad dressing. “The Holy Spirit is like that salad dressing, binding the whole salad of the Kingdom of God together,” Bert surmised.. Over and over the bible speaks of oil: the oil of joy, anointing with oil, the oil of peace. “The oil of the spirit works like oil poured on troubled waters to bring peace and unity.”

Bert is a violinist, and the ‘mother of all violins’ is of course, the Stradivarius. A Stradivarius can’t be hung on the wall as a museum piece; it must be played every day, he explained. Just as with the special gifts God has given each one of us. They’re not to be 'hung up'. Not used properly they can even become instruments of war. They are not toys to play with, but instruments to play, tools to build with.

He further illustrated his point (and the main thrust of Paul’s message to the Ephesians on unity) by referring to a quote from A.W. Tozer:
Has it ever occurred to you that 100 pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are … tuned to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So 100 worshippers together, each looking to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
After Pastor Anne Moore's prayerful close to the service, Harry Morgan officiated at the post-service baptism of Freyja MacDonald, who attends his church. While full immersion isn’t the United Church’s normal protocol, it is how Jesus did it and how Freyja wanted it as well.

You took my parking space at church

One day, a man decided to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up alongside him and the driver stepped out, yelling, "I always park there! You took my place!"

The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him. "That's my seat!” she exclaimed. “You took my place!" Somewhat distressed by the rude welcome, the visitor said nothing.

The visitor then went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him. "That's where I always sit! You took my place!" Even more troubled, the visitor still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation prayed for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up. His appearance began to transform. Horrible scars appeared on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?"

The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, "I took your place."

When you've read this, simply say a prayer. Maybe, just maybe, 
we can get the world to start thinking of who took our place.

(adapted from various sources)

Hallelujah Haliburton! Sizzlin’ Summer Service 3

Held on the holiday weekend Sunday (Aug. 1), congregations joined under hot, sunny skies for a celebration of unity, song, scripture, prayer, and a powerful message by Pastor Bev Hicks of Northland Faith.


To the left, children from the local Baptist, Anglican, United Church, Pentecostal and Northland Faith families enjoy their special time at the service in Head Lake Park. .