God blessed Elizabeth, Grace and I with a most wonderful year. On the eve of a new year, I feel inspired to reflect on the past 365 days and all that took place in our lives, the lives of our families and friends as well as throughout the world.
One of the most talked about topics of 2006 was the war in Iraq. As the death toll continues to rise, the conflict seems to have no end in sight. More than 3,000 American lives and countless Iraqi lives have been lost to violence in an effort to forcefully replace dictatorship with democracy. During the war in Iraq, Elizabeth and I watched Grace grow into the most gracious child ever. She is gifted with an extraordinary ability to make people smile, with friendliness toward other children and people of different race.
February brought on both tremendous excitement and troubling drama all during the same day. For the first time ever, my father and I sat side by side at the Daytona International Speedway and enjoyed a Nascar race. Though going to a race was a dream come true for me, the three hour drive from St Petersburg was littered with anti-Christianity comments from both my father and his vacationing buddy. My dad, a non-practicing Catholic, shared his twisted views on the authenticity of other religions and attempted to bash the Christian faith. Without remorse, he claimed that according on John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me“, my mother Marie, his wife of 35 years was not saved and therefore did not inherit the Kingdom of God. While I do not know for sure where my mother’s heart was or what her relationship to Jesus Christ was at the time of her death, I do know she was a woman adored by her friends and family with immeasurable charitable works. I pray she ended up exactly where she belonged, in heaven with God. As for my father, I pray he will accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior before it’s too late and repent of his countless sins.
In March, in an effort to answer a high demand for bible inspired recipes and ingredient faq’s, I created the Biblical Cooking website. Blessed by the Holy Spirit, the Biblical Cooking website received countless praises and continues to provide answers to biblical culinary questions throughout the world.
At Easter I was baptized in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I had already been baptized as a Catholic infant but felt the need to publicly express my faith in Jesus Christ ever since I was born again in 2000. And so, on a majestic spring day in the sunshine state, in front of a few thousand believers partaking in a most extraordinary Easter service, I symbolically died and rose again. I cannot begin to describe how great it felt to finally take this spiritual plunge. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
In May I turned 40. For some reason, it wasn’t as big a deal as I expected it to be. I relied on this scripture to get me through my middle age crisis or lack thereof: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
In July my wife Elizabeth, an established health and fitness expert reached a career milestone as she was interviewed by the chief editor of Health Magazine. Later in December, she surpassed her own professional expectation when asked to participate in Christian fitness videos to be sold throughout the world. Through these amazing achievements, Elizabeth remained humbled serving the Lord through Calvary Chapel where she volunteers as a Sunday school teacher. More than a faithful servant, Elizabeth continues to be a solid beam of purpose driven light. She embodies Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
In August just outside Las Vegas, Warren Jeffs was arrested three months after being put on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. The fugitive leader of a polygamist Mormon sect, Jeffs was charged with arranging marriages between underage girls and older men. Since 2002 Jeffs, said to have at least 40 wives and nearly 60 children led the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the leader of the Thrive Through Christ ministry, I am reminded of the following verse:
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3:1-3)
In September, “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin died at age 44 from heart failure in a sting ray attack. One of my favorite animal rights activists, the man known for death defying interaction with man eating crocodiles ended his life at God’s mercy according to our Lord’s will. Understanding that for believers death is actually a beginning rather than an end, I am hopeful Steve inherited a place in God’s kingdom according to His promise. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
Driven by greed, three close friends posing as Christian missionaries attempted to steal from our ministry in an effort to increase their financial wealth. I let this incident cloud the month of October which otherwise was filled with joy and fulfillment from a life blessed by God’s hand. While in prayer reading through my bible, I was lifted up by these verses: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Forgiving these thieves has been difficult but I am glad to say I have begun the healing process and am on my way to pulling my trust sails back up allowing God’s wind to drive the ship that carries my generous outpouring of expertise and talent. I have come to the conclusion there’s no need to ignore the needs of many honest believers because I was wronged by a few opportunist hypocrites.
Inspired by both the Missions ministry at church and my personal need to fulfill my mission, November brought on an epiphany. While shamefully discussing my weekly outings to Disney World with Dyan, a friend from church and fellow missionary, I realized God’s plan for my missionary work would not involve a passport instead, it would require an annual pass to Disney where people from all over the world merge into one place. Dyan open my eyes to a breath taking ministry opportunity through the same weekly visits to my favorite theme parks during which Elizabeth, Grace and I were called to do exactly what missionaries do: Preach the word of God as we walk in Jesus’ footsteps. More than peaceful Christians walking around smiling ear to ear, we became physical billboards by wearing biblically inspired clothing which were an instant success and great conversation starters. An idea quickly became a purpose driven venture appropriately named “Wear a Verse”, see for yourself by visiting our website at www.wearaverse.com.
In December we found out about life changing challenges involving childbirth within two families we greatly care about. Andrea and John found out their newborn was deaf while Brandy and Tony delivered a sleeping angel. I am certain Andrea and John, both faithful servants will successfully accept God’s will for their daughter. I am also convinced baby Sydney was the recipient of endless blessings when she was chosen to bypass life on earth and head straight to heaven. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16-17)
Throughout the year, God allowed me to photograph over 25 events during which I felt blessed to be a blessing using my passion for photography and post-production abilities. I invite you to enjoy my favorite wedding photographs of 2006 by following this link. Called to serve as a volunteer, I am blessed to be involved in several projects with mission minded people from Calvary Chapel.
On a financial level, our ministry driven businesses reached an all time high allowing us to do more for people in need. Thanks to the internet and this ministry, we were able to spread our financial and spiritual wealth throughout the world.
As you can see, it has been quite the year for my family and I. Literally the emotional roller coaster, 2006 brought on many concerns and a certain level of stress easily diffused by my wife’s encouragement and wisdom. Whenever I feel a wave of stress rolling in, Elizabeth is quick to remind me not to worry myself sharing the following verses:
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)
A new year is upon us. I don’t have any new year resolutions since I believe new year resolutions are for people who lack character. For me, every day is the beginning of a new year. Likewise as Christians, we know when we do something that goes against God’s commands and should have no need for a start-finish line to do something about it. Each day brings the opportunity to better ourselves so that we may become better servants to our Lord.
I pray today, tomorrow and all the days that follow will bring you joy, peace and health. I hope God will continue to shine His light bright upon you and those around you and thank you for your support in this ministry. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives
And for looking after us, our families and friends,
We thank you for your patience, your wisdom
And for inspiring us to live according to your will.
Lord we ask you to continue to lead our footsteps
To walk a righteous path and try be more like you,
And to humble us so that we may take notice
That no service to you is insignificant.
We pray for your strength and endless grace,
Your unconditional love, your forgiveness,
And ask you to continue shinning your light bright
Upon us and all those who seek you.
God we love you and thank you for all that surrounds us!
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre