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A Tale of Two Deaths: Grace Unexpected

Posted by donna on June 13, 2019

Everyone 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.

june blog.jpgMy good friend John died several weeks ago. He was a long time missionary and translator who helped translate a tribal dialect into the Old Testament thus completing the very first full Bible translation in the Yali language, one of several hundred tribal groups in Papua, Indonesia.  He had cancer and had lived with this disease for seventeen years. He was treated with one drug that held his cancer in check, knowing there would come a day when the drug would stop working, which it did. John had seventeen years to prepare for his death. He watched his teenage children grow into adulthood and had the added blessing of knowing his grandchildren. He prepared for that walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and there was GRACE.

Our friend Loren also died recently. A long-time pastor, who was burdened for and loved those who didn’t fit into the traditional church setting. He came to the AGC with a proposal to plant a house church model in the south of Winnipeg. South Pointe House Church was born out of that vision and was beginning to bear fruit. Loren went to bed one evening and woke up in the presence of Jesus. Shock and grief followed. His walk through the valley of the shadow of death had little preparation, and was but a few quick steps, and there was GRACE.

Both John and Loren lived with the anticipation of that final walk, as we all do.  We anticipate spending eternity with our Lord and Savior. At times, like John, we may have years to prepare for that day. For others, like Loren, there is no time to prepare. The teaching of Scripture gives us assurance of our salvation and in a sense, we should always be prepared for that walk, it’s just the “getting there” part that we at times wish to avoid!  John & Loren both lived lives pleasing to the Lord. Both served the Lord and impacted many for the Gospel. Their deaths remind me of the deaths of two brothers, as noted in Scripture. Early in His ministry, James, the brother of Jesus, was put to death by the sword on the command of Herod (Acts 12:2). His bother John, died an old man, banished to the isle of Patmos where the Lord revealed to him the “Revelation.” Both lived well, influenced many for the Gospel, and experienced grace unexpected.

As believers, we are given no promise of a long and healthy life, free from care, worry, disease or misfortune. We are promised grace, in the form of His abiding presence. Amid grief and uncertainty, it may not always be easy to see, but it is there. There may be difficult and trying circumstances, pain and heartache that shake us to the core of our belief. Even then, there is grace unexpected when we need it the most.

Comforted by GRACE unexpected,

Bill Allan first name.PNG 

Bill Allan

AGC President                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


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!


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.