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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)

Jesus tells this parable in such a powerful way.  It aptly describes how many people live today.  People are living without hope, without thought beyond the moment.  They are living for themselves, for the next experience which will bring temporary pleasure. But what happens when you hit rock bottom, when you can’t fall any further? Jesus tells us that the prodigal son “came to himself.” He returned to his right mind, with clear thinking. He recognized his predicament. Other versions say that he “came to his senses.” It’s a phrase often applied to someone who was once deranged and unable to think clearly, and then returns to saner thoughts. The son realized he could fall no further, he was without hope and was reduced to despair even to the point of longing for the food that the pigs were eating. It was then that his thoughts turned to home and the Father.

For many today the results of poor choices, unwise living and longing for the pleasures of this world lead to despair and hopelessness. The next logical step, humanly speaking, is suicide, putting an end to it all. However, this is where GRACE comes in. There is a way back, to home, to the Father. Grace is an open door that allows even the vilest of offenders to be restored as a son, as a daughter, as belonging to the Father.

The hope of grace is that there is a way home. The door is open to everyone. The beauty of the parable of the prodigal son is that grace does not begin with his realization of his error, or even his returning to his right mind. Grace began with the Father, long before we began our personal descent into sin. That open door is the Gospel. We are often blinded by the pleasures of this life and sometimes only see this when we hit rock bottom. And often, it is at the bottom that we find grace.

Looking for grace always,

Bill Allan first name.PNG 

Bill Allan

AGC President


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!


To What End? Part 3

Posted by donna on October 2, 2018

church reproduction.jpgI love being a grandfather, albeit a very young one, at least in my mind! I’m “Papa” to three beautiful little girls, Ava, Audrey & Elia, and we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our first grandson at the end of October! Before I was Papa, I was “Daddy” to three very special little girls who grew up far too quickly. Yet, before I was Daddy, I was and hope I still am, “honey” to a very special lady.  This in a sense describes what church reproduction is all about. The natural outcome of a loving and nurturing relationship is children … biological, adopted or even those specially cared for and included as members of the family. My girls saw and experienced our love as parents, our commitment to the Lord and in some way, it set a model for them to follow with their own families. Yes, there were many bumps along the way, as no family is perfect.


To What End? Part 2

Posted by donna on September 4, 2018

lincoln.jpgI laugh every time I read this quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” You cannot turn on the news, internet, or social media without being bombarded with the term “fake news.” How do we evaluate what is being reported as true? As Christians, we are called to biblical truth. Unfortunately, the concept of truth is changing and often becomes whatever people want it to be in the new world of relativism. We need biblical wisdom to engage our world with both the hope and the truth of the Gospel.

 


To What End?

Posted by donna on August 1, 2018

Over the next several months, I’d like to talk about the ENDS. Not the END, but our AGC ENDS – the strategic ministry initiatives by which we accomplish our stated purpose as an Association. With the recent change in our AGC structure, we are focusing on four primary areas of ministry activity that give substance to our vision of being … A Movement of Healthy Reproducing Churches.

Kaemingk book.jpgNATIONAL COMPASSION & JUSTICE:  This is a new END for us. It was birthed from a deep compassion to address the heart-wrenching plight of Syrian refugees. Our Syrian Refugee Initiative has been the framework enabling several AGC churches to sponsor Syrian refugee families as they arrive in Canada to begin a new life, free from the sufferings of war, persecution and destitution that many have experienced.

As Christians, and as an Association of churches, compassion must be a part of our ethos. Throughout Scripture we see the compassionate heart of God.  God’s compassion is extended through His Son, who took the world’s punishment on the cross that made it possible for us to be reconciled to the Father.


Hello AGC Family

Posted by donna on June 14, 2018

Bill and Michele June 2018.jpgThe word “hello” has a welcoming ring to it. It opens doors, builds relationships and offers encouragement. It’s an expression of joy and gladness.  It has the power to overcome suspicion and make the stranger feel accepted and valued. We use it when meeting someone for the first time. It’s a friendly greeting, which allows an opportunity to engage on a personal level. We also use it when reconnecting with old friends, those we haven’t seen in a while. Michele and I wish to say “Hello AGC Family! We always love to make new friends and reconnect with old, some of whom we spent many years serving alongside in Peru and in mission leadership in Canada.

Our National Conference was a great time for us to reconnect with one another and rejoice together in what God is doing through our various church ministries and new church plants. It was an opportunity to make new friends and rejoice with old ones. It was also a time to look back at God’s faithfulness.  We gave thanks for the leadership of Willem & Lois, their many years of faithful service and the example they have left for us as we continue the journey.


ABIDE

Posted by donna on May 3, 2018

the Believers privilege.PNG

Growing up in a missionary family, our children learned the full meaning of the word “goodbye.” We lived in remote areas of central Thailand and twice a year our kids had to fly off to attend boarding schools in Malaysia. They knew that goodbyes were part of the often-unwanted aspects of missionary life.  Fortunately, for the most part, it was a positive experience. Often, it was Lois and I who had the meltdowns as we watched the plane take off. Yet, goodbyes are part of saying hello.

This historic AGC National Conference May 31st -  June 2nd, will be both “goodbye” and “hello.”

Having had the privilege of serving the AGC these past fifteen years, it is time to say our goodbyes, and hello to Presidential Candidate Bill and Michele Allan. The Allan’s have served as missionaries and mission leaders and have also served in one of our AGC churches these past years.  I am delighted to see the way God has led the Allan’s to accept this great challenge and opportunity.


"The Cup of God's Wrath"

Posted by donna on April 5, 2018

Capture.PNG(Revelation 14:9-10)

Not Enough Options

While attending Engineering College, I was growing in my awareness of biblical truth and theology. I remember as if it was yesterday having informal debates with my classmates and professors about the nature of life, death, heaven and hell. On one occasion I declared that there is only one true way to God and heaven, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We were all close friends by this time and there was free and open communication. Yet, the response from one of my friends was a simple, “there aren’t enough options.”  In other words, there must be other choices.