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Grace in an Empty Tomb

Posted by donna on April 1, 2019

We 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.

I like the way Eugene Peterson renders Romans 5:8 in his paraphrase, The Message; But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.”

Could it be that all along the plan of God the Father for His prodigal children included a path back to Himself? On the cross, Jesus endured the torturous reality when God the Father turned His back on Him and laid upon Him the weight of the sin of each one of us. My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). The pain was great, the shame and our sin ran deep. The Father laid upon Jesus the weight of our sin as He died in our place, a perfect sacrifice that took away the wrath of God and satisfied the penalty. While that was enough, there was still more to the plan.

empty tomb.pngIt was revealed first to two women who arrived early in the morning to a dusty tomb, weighted with sadness and despair at the events of the last hours. They encountered an angelic messenger who revealed the rest of the plan; But the angel said to the women, do not be afraid, for I know you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, FOR HE HAS RISEN, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay” (Matthew 28:5-6).

The grace of the Father, His pain, His broken heart for all His children is seen in the drama of the crucifixion, the demand of the law, the perfect sacrifice given, all so that we, His errant children, might be the recipients of His grace through the victory of the resurrection.

As we celebrate our hope in the resurrection of Jesus, let’s remember the Father’s deep and terrible suffering that He willingly endured that we might be restored, no longer prodigals but sons and daughters. The Father’s pain in the face of His prodigal children was necessary, our sin willingly taken on, so that His plan, His path to restoration and salvation might be accomplished through the cross and an empty tomb!

The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed!

Bill Allan first name.PNG 

Bill Allan
AGC President


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.

 


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.