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Grace Rejected - Part 2

Posted by donna on August 1, 2019

grace.jpgThe apostle Paul when writing to a very complicated and problematic group of believers in Corinth used these words to describe love; Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things; believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The same can be said of grace. Grace is never intrusive in our lives; it is a gift that was paid for by another and is freely offered to each of us.

The Parable of the Prodigal highlights the contrast between hedonism and moralism, and the failure of both in the face of grace. The hedonist easily recognizes this failure. After coming to his senses, the hedonist realizes his waywardness and the waste of his life and resources, and he eagerly accepts grace extended. The moralist, on the other hand, has much more difficulty in accepting grace extended. Enter the elder son, part two.

But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat (never mind a fatted calf!), that I might celebrate with my friends’ . . . . And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours’  (Luke 15:28-29, 31).

Grace rejected is seen in all its selfishness and ugliness in moralism. It’s when we reduce the gift of grace to a kind of spiritual or tangible reward for obeying the rules even when our hearts are far from centre. Grace rejected judges those who accept grace extended as not deserving because of the life they’ve lived or the sins they’ve committed. Moralism focuses on the application of the rules and obedience to those rules.

It was the father in the parable of the prodigal, who gives us perspective. The son was angry and would not go into the party, the father therefore comes out to the son. The son would not celebrate (insert: “forgive”); it was the father who forgave, restored and celebrated.

At times, we too often fall into the trap of the elder son. Judging and withholding forgiveness because we somehow believe that obeying the rules makes us better, or more deserving than those other sinners out there! We need to repent of moralism, of rejecting grace, and like the wayward son come before the Father confessing that we are no longer worthy to be called His child.  It is then that we receive the grace that penetrates our very soul and cleanses us from hedonism and moralism.  It is here that we rest secure, restored by the Father, because of His actions, not our own.

The cure for grace rejected is not our own morality, it is recognizing our sin and understanding the very nature of grace. Grace was and is offered to all because the price was paid on the cross. Grace is not dependent in any way on what we do, but on what Jesus did. Letting go of our moralism and our religiosity as the basis for our standing before God is key if we really understand grace that is freely offered and truly embrace and accept it.

Pursuing Grace freely offered,

Bill Allan first name.PNG 

Bill Allan

AGC President                                                                                                                                                  


Grace Rejected - Part 1

Posted by donna on July 4, 2019

blog.jpgThe Parable of the Prodigal, as told by Jesus in Luke 15, is not primarily directed to us as believers. It is not just a story of a wayward son who came to his senses and returned home to a loving and forgiving father. Nor is it a story that primarily focuses on the younger son as representative of sinners in need of grace. It is a parable with a point, which Jesus directed to the religious leaders of that day.  He was speaking to those who saw themselves as better, as superior, as “good” because they, unlike the younger son, obeyed the rules including all the religious requirements of their day. They believed that they somehow deserved better.

Enter the elder son … “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.” But he was angry and refused to go in” (Luke 15:25-28a).


A Tale of Two Deaths: Grace Unexpected

Posted by donna on June 13, 2019

june blog.jpgEveryone loves a story with a happy ending; boy gets girl, the ranch is saved, Timmy gets rescued from the well, Superman defeats Lex Luthor . . . you get the picture. But what happens when the story doesn’t end like we want it to?

Last month, we saw a father’s joy in the Parable of the Prodigal when the lost son returns; “For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24). It’s a story with a happy ending. We won’t get to the part of the story about the older brother just yet, that would be jumping ahead. Let’s take a side trip to the times when life does not turn out as we expect, for it is there that we find grace unexpected.                                                                                                                                                                                                              


The Celebration of Grace

Posted by donna on May 2, 2019

Every family celebrates. Be it birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or some other significant event, we celebrate. To celebrate is to recognize something special, something unique. To celebrate is to acknowledge the occasion with some social gathering or enjoyable event.

“But the father said to his servants, bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24).

prodigal 2.pngIn the Parable of the Prodigal, the father not only received his son back and restored him into the family, he also threw a party! Remember the son’s confession, that he was not worthy to be called his father’s son?  He said to his father, “make me like one of your servants.” All of that faded as he was welcomed back with a grand celebration. Why would you celebrate someone who had so dishonored and rejected you? Because of GRACE.


Grace in an Empty Tomb

Posted by donna on April 1, 2019

empty tomb.pngWe often see and feel the grace of the Father as it relates to us as individuals. We joyfully experience the result of the Father’s grace. Yes, we know there was a cost. There was a high and terrible cost, but did you ever think about how the cost of grace affected our Father?

The Prodigal son rejected his father, literally wished him dead when he demanded his share of the inheritance. He failed to see or even care how this would affect his father’s emotions and well-being, or how his father’s standing in the community would be shame and embarrassment. His reputation sullied.

Why would the Father subject himself to shame, embarrassment and pain?  In the parable of the prodigal, the father waited, anticipating and longing for the return of his child … his errant, rebellious, ungrateful and self-centred son. Regardless of everything the father endured because of his son’s actions, this was still his son, and he, being the father, had another plan. In the same way, our Heavenly Father had a plan that was formed long before Jesus told this parable of an earthly prodigal and his father.


A Father's Grace

Posted by donna on March 6, 2019

prodigal.pngI read a story about a little girl who bought cheap plastic pearl necklace from a dollar store. She wore it everywhere and every day. Her father came to her and asked if she loved him, and then asked for the pearls. Oh, no, daddy, the little girl replied; “I love you, but love these pearls too much. Day after day the father asked his little girl the same questionreceiving the same answer.  

One evening, the little girl came to her daddy with tears in her eyes and said; I love you daddy, and handed him her precious, and by now very dirty and broken plastic pearl necklace. The father reached into his pocket and handed her a little box containing a beautiful real pearl necklace.


Finding Grace at the Bottom

Posted by donna on February 5, 2019

homeless.jpgThose caught in addictive behaviours, be it drugs, alcohol, sex or even prosperity and materialism, often fail to see the destructiveness of that lifestyle until it is too late. It deeply impacts not only them, but those around them. What happens when you hit rock bottom, when you can’t fall any further?

“. . . and there he squandered his property in reckless living . . . and he began to be in need . . .. And he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself . . . I will arise and go to my father.” (Luke 15:13-18)


A Theology of Grace

Posted by donna on January 2, 2019

prodigal.PNGI have a framed print of Rembrandt’s famous painting “Return of the Prodigal Son” hanging on the wall in my office. For me, it is a daily reminder of grace. Grace that is demonstrated. Grace that is extended. Grace that is received. Grace is so much more than God giving me what I don’t deserve. Grace reminds me of who I am and why I need Jesus and His grace each day. 

In our current culture which includes a “me-first” sense of entitlement we may be tempted by our title, positionauthority or accomplishments to think of ourselves in grandiose ways. 
Grace gives us perspective. Grace reminds us of who we really are.  I have chosen the theme of “grace for this new year because we need to understand, develop and practice a theology of grace in all that we do. 


Our Guiding Light

Posted by donna on December 6, 2018

Christmas.PNGOne of the Christmas traditions I enjoy is trimming the tree. For many, its a time to find the biggest and tallest tree they can reasonably cram into their home. The task almost always includes the “trimming” – that is, cutting off the top or bottom so the tree will fit into its assigned place. 

Many people now use artificial Christmas trees, so I’m not sure where the actual “trimming” part comes into play. I have learned that the “trimming” has come to mean the decorating of the tree. Generally, I “supervise” (stay out of the way) while Michele does the “trimming. 

We incorporate many symbols in decorating our tree which help us remember why we are celebrating. It’s not about the tree, its size, shape, colour, smell or even the decorations. It’s about the message of Christmas. I think that is why we save the star until the very end. 


To What End? Part 4

Posted by donna on November 2, 2018

apple.PNGI love apples. Always did, still do. I try to eat an apple every day. As kids, we’d ask my mom for a snack and she’d give us an apple. If we asked for some cookies, or a chocolate bar we’d get an apple. I also ate more than my share of apple pie and apple-crisp, after all it’s still apples! Apples are good for you; “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

As a society we are much more health conscious, maybe obsessed, than we likely were in the past. Consider all the TV, internet and radio adds that focus on some aspect of health … getting healthy, maintaining your health or overcoming some health issue. There are volumes of information available on vitamins, supplements and miracle drugs promising all sorts of wonders.  Then there’s the exercise equipment and workout programs that promise the strength and vitality of an eighteen-year old even though you are seventy-five!