AGC News

Bill's blog: Christmas and the Gift of Grace

Posted by donna on December 2, 2019

The perfect gift for the person that has everything! That’s what the commercial said as it went on to describe why everyone, especially the person who has everything, would need one of these special super-duper gizmos. I didn’t buy the sales-pitch, and I didn’t buy the super-duper gizmo. If a person has “everything,” why would they need something else?

gift.jpgA gift is often unexpected, undeserved, valued and treasured because of the thought that went into selecting and presenting it. As it is with the Gospel. It’s the greatest gift of all time, for all people. We could do nothing to earn it ourselves, even though we often tried. It was undeserved because of our sin. It is valued and treasured because of the cost Jesus paid suffering and dying on a Roman cross. And it was, and still is, freely offered to all who would receive it.

At Christmas we often think about gift giving, trying to find that special something for that special someone. God had similar thoughts. We are His special creation, created in His image and we bear His image. Yet sin, violence, anger, hatred and conflict has marred that image and separated us from our Heavenly Father.

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bottle shoes.pngBefore you judge, walk a mile in my shoes . . .    Grace impacts our life at times in ways we wished it didn’t. We all find it easy to rush to judgment based on outward appearances, rules, and our own sense of right and wrong. Judging others, in some way alleviates our own guilt until we’re confronted by grace. Why is that? Grace impacts our life.

If the impact of grace on my life first begins with my perception of God, then moves to my perception of myself, then the most logical next step is that: it impacts my perception of others. And therein lies the conundrum we often face. Before I judge, walk a mile in their shoes.

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grace 2.jpgThe Roman poet Ovid wrote about Narcissus in Greek mythology. He was very handsome and very proud. When he saw his reflection in a clear still pool, he could not stop looking at himself, nor pull away. There he died of thirst or starvation, depending upon the version you read. The term narcissist is a word often used in today’s selfie-focused society. Perceived external beauty triumphs over inner beauty, integrity and character. To make ourselves better in all ways, we just need to compare ourselves with someone “less” and believe the lie that we are better.

Grace has a way of bursting that bubble. As we saw last month, grace first impacts our perception of God. When we see who God is, when we understand His nature and His character, our focus on self shifts.

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Bill's blog: The Impacts of Grace: #1 My Perception of God

Posted by donna on September 10, 2019

Sept blog.jpgWhat sets Christianity apart from any other religious system is the relational nature and character of God. He wants to be in relationship with us. We were created to have relationship with Him, and He celebrates when we do. Jesus tells us, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).  

The Parable of the Prodigal as told by Jesus is about grace and highlights how grace impacts us in three ways. First, it impacts our perception of God. We all easily identify or self-identify with one of the main characters in the parable. If we are honest, it would be with the elder son. Too often, our perception of God is that He is only pleased with us when we obey the rules and "colour within the lines” as required by religious obedience and observance and, therefore, we are deemed a good person.

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Bill's blog: 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.

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Bill's Blog: Grace Rejected - Part 1

Posted by donna on July 4, 2019

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The 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.

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Bill's blog: 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?

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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.

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Bill's blog: The Celebration of Grace

Posted by donna on May 3, 2019

prodigal 2.pngEvery 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).

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Bill's blog: 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?

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Bill's Blog: A Theology of Grace

Posted by donna on January 3, 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. 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of GRACE and truth.” (John 1:14) ESV 

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