MRAC Blog

Words from the Pastors - Neil Penner

Sharing a bit of encouragement and inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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The Power of Forgiveness

by Neil Penner

Isaiah 55:6-8

7. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”

What stands out as I read this passage is not how big the sin is but rather how much the love of God forgives. As followers of Christ we often give out conditional forgiveness. I will forgive when that person that said those hurtful words apologizes.

I think of the mother, Mary Johnson, when on February 12th, 1993 her only son Laramiun was killed by four gunshots. Sixteeen year old Oshea Isreal confessed to killing Laramiun. And through a long journey of pain and loss Mary came to a place of forgiving her son’s killer. She not just said “I forgive you” she loved that man. When he was released from prison in 2010 Mary got a place for him next door to where she lived.

At the homecoming party Mary arranged for Oshea he explains. “I walked in and saw all of these people that I didn’t know, who only knew of me because of the pain and the hurt I caused. But I walk in and get hugs. I walk in and get smiles,” Oshea said. “That is another part of the forgiveness, the community forgave me, her friends were able to forgive me.”

That is love without conditions. I am so grateful our Heavenly Father forgives like that. Complete forgiveness and a full embrace and a restored relationship. God has forgiven me in full and He calls me to forgive others in full (Mathew 6:14-15).

Do you know the power of God’s forgiveness? Have you passed that on to others?

My prayer - Thank you Jesus for forgiving me completely, I choose today to forgive completely, unconditionally those who sin against me.

Words from the Pastors - Kyle Veer

Sharing a bit of encouragement and inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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Freedom to Lament

by Kyle Veer

Life has its ups and downs. Exciting and joyful times, all the way to tragic and painful loss, and everything in between. We all experience it, each of us at different times. We know of God’s promise in Revelation that our ultimate eternal future will have no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. But we also know that while that heavenly life awaits us, we will have to endure sorrow, trials, and hardships here in this life.

Many of us struggle when we’re in a low point. It can be difficult to communicate with others, to feel understood, to let it out. Why is that? It seems to me, this is common in our culture. We don’t do pain well. We just want it to be over. We cover it up, trying to make ourselves feel better by pretending, or by filling our lives with some kind of pleasure. We don’t like to deal with grief, we like to get away from it.

But it doesn’t ultimately deal with the problem. We need to have the freedom to express our pain and sorrow. We need to be heard. We need to heal. It may be somewhat counter-cultural, so it may feel unnatural or difficult to take those steps. But there is some motivation that can help.

The book of Psalms in Scripture is a perfect example for us - a collection of songs, hymns, or worship writings that express a person’s (or group of people’s) emotional response and communication to God through personal circumstances. The commonly known ones, like Psalm 23, are full of Praise and Thanksgiving. But they aren’t all like that. Some of them are raw and real with anguish, sorrow, and pain. Those Psalms are referred to as Laments (for example Psalm 13 or 102). Out of the 150 Psalms, almost 70 (just under 45%) are Laments. What does that tell us? That scripture confirms our common experience of pain, and encourages us to express it rather than ignore it.

Lament is an active word. It means to mourn deeply, or to express sorrow or regret. It is deeply therapeutic and healthy to do this. Scripture invites us to express our sorrow directly to God. The God of the universe inclines His ear to hear your struggles. We are also encouraged in other places in Scripture to lean not only on the Lord, but also one another. We should find people that we can open up to. People who can hear us. People who allow us to let it out.

So there is a responsibility for us to step out and share our pain. But there is also a responsibility on the ones who listen. Just as the Lord hears and doesn’t reject, we need to be loving and caring in our response when listening to people in pain. We need to allow them to be heard. We need to help them heal, or direct them to God who heals. We aren’t perfect, we won’t always say the right thing, and there needs to be grace both ways, but we should err on the side of compassion and understanding, walking along side one another in the valleys of life.

Words from the Pastors - Paul Weisser

Sharing a bit of encouragement and inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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A Gold Medal Example

by Paul Weisser

This past Sunday, our Middle School and Whole New World Sunday schools learned about an incredible example of faith – the story of Olympic athlete and missionary Eric Liddell.

Most of us can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to take part in the Olympics. Can you imagine dreaming about the Games, going through all the tough training, and then making a choice not to compete in your best event? That’s Mr. Liddell’s story.

For those who may not know, Eric was born into a missionary family in 1902. His parents were Scottish, but lived in China. Eric grew up as an incredible athlete. He was a runner and star rugby player. His goal was to get to the 1924 Olympics in France and take part in the 100 meters. He trained hard and his country was sure he would win a gold medal for them.

There was just one problem. The qualifying race was on a Sunday and Eric would not run on Sunday. Why, you ask? He had promised to worship and honor God on Sundays, instead of competing. God honored Eric as well. Instead of running in the 100 meters, he qualified for the 200 and 400 meter races, because the heats didn’t happen on a Sunday. No one really thought Eric had much of a chance in either of those races and yet he surprised everyone by winning Gold in the 400 in a world-record time and also finishing 3rd in the 200.

Eric’s story doesn’t cover just athletics either. Following his success at the Olympics, Eric went back to China as a missionary and served the Lord faithfully. His life makes for incredible reading. He ended up in a Japanese internment camp where he died at age 43.

Eric Liddell’s life can be summed up with a few verses from Acts 20. In verses 23 and 24 it says, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Eric was once quoted as saying, “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.” His life teaches us many things. It shows the value of hard work and also the benefit of putting God first. Eric gives us the example of shining and showing the Lord in whatever circumstance he has placed us. It teaches us to live a gold medal life in whatever God gave us to do. It teaches us that following God isn’t always easy.

How are we going to live our lives today? Can we follow the Gold Medal example of Eric Liddell?

Words from the Pastors - Sam Bell

Sharing a bit of encouragement and inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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A Series of Unfortunate Events

by Sam Bell

In the summer of grade 9 my family went to a camp called Sunnybrae near Salmon Arm for “Family Camp”. One day in the middle of the week one of the counselors asked all the youth if they would like to play a game of manhunt later that night. (Manhunt is where the youth hide in the forest and the counselors have to find them) We met at the edge of the forest behind the camp. We were given 5 minutes to hide. I remember running into the forest where I quickly found a hollowed out area covered by ferns and brush, and I settled in for the long haul. I did not want to be found first.

I don’t know how long I was hiding but all of a sudden everything got really quiet and really dark. So I waited a while longer, thinking the game was still going on.

At some point I was getting cold and tired of being curled up on the ground so I started to make my way back. I must have made a wrong turn as I just kept walking trying to see the lights of the cabins or any light through the trees. I was freaking out, lost with no source of light, so I kept walking. It was so dark and I was just making wild guesses, getting scratched by branches and getting caught in prickle bushes. Muddy and dirty, I was cold and just wanted to find my way back.

After what seemed like forever, I finally gave up… and then I fell, yes literally fell into the camp archery range. I came to an edge I couldn’t see and landed in this clearing. All of a sudden I had a sense of direction and got my bearings back. I found the path and walked out of the forest expecting to see everyone else who had been caught, instead it looked like everyone had gone to sleep and that the game had been over for a long time. I remember quietly walking back to where my family was staying, crawling into bed, and falling asleep.

I don’t know about you but often my life can feel like a late night game of manhunt. Thinking I know the best way to play and the goal I’m supposed to achieve. It’s not until I come to the point where I am willing to admit that maybe I don’t know what to do, or the right direction when God sees an openness on my part for Him to show up right smack dab in the middle of the situation to bring clarity and direction. Faith in our lives can feel like falling into an archery range, it’s unexpected, strange, perfect, and timely all at the same time.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

February 22, 2019

Welcome to our new series of Blog Posts featuring words from a different MRAC Pastor each week. We hope to share a bit of encouragement and/or inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Look for the latest post being shared in our weekly MRAC Emails. If you don’t already receive MRAC Emails, sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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Strategically Placed Letters

Rob Inrig, Transitional Lead Pastor

Sitting in an Alabama jail, Martin Luther King took up his pen to write. It was a letter he wouldn’t stop writing until he poured out his heart. 11 pages later, his open letter sent to faith leaders outlined his refusal why King and his supporters would not abandon their battle against segregation. The issue, as these community leaders saw, needed to be settled in the confines of the court not the limelight of the street. Understanding what was at stake and dismayed by the silence of the church, King’s letter answered, what was happening was wrong. What was happening was evil. That letter would open eyes and penetrate hearts.

...I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the 8th century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.

Before reading King’s words, many remained blissfully ignorant of the events surrounding them. The product of their environment, many hadn’t stopped long enough to see how wrong things were. Culture had wrapped itself around theology, perpetuating attitudes that justified and excused. Wrongs were dismissed as habits rather than sin.

King’s letter confronted that. People couldn’t plead ignorance. Mistreatment couldn’t be dismissed. Violence couldn’t be justified. It was to end because of a letter.

God tells us that He has written a far more compelling letter intended to open eyes and penetrate hearts. As 2 Corinthians 3 tells us, WE are that letter. You and me. A letter being read every day. So be His letter, strategically placed and attractively lived. You have no idea who may be reading.

Words from the Pastors - Neil Penner

Sharing a bit of encouragement and inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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My Well Kept Secret

by Neil Penner

Let me share a very personal, well-hidden secret about me. I love chocolate. I can never have enough chocolate. There is something about milk Chocolate that makes a day complete. There is nothing like milk chocolate in the morning with my coffee. And then that smooth milk chocolate at lunch, and if I was to be honest, throughout the day.

For you it may be something else. We crave food, we crave power, material things, and relationships. These things do make us feel filled for the moment. But soon they fade and we are craving something new. What if there was a someone, not a thing, that would keep you filled – not leaving you wanting.

Jesus spoke a profound truth that changed my life:

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”

My life change started the night I accepted an invitation to ask Jesus into my life, acknowledging I had a sin problem, and accepting Jesus’ payment for my sin on the cross, promising to give me a new life.

All the things that call out to us, the lure of being filled. The world tells us the many things that will satisfy you and me, and our hearts crave satisfaction. We want to be filled and we seek it in simple things like food, money, power, material things and relationships.

I choose to believe God’s words with the simple truth that speaks so loud to me in this text. Jesus is the only one that will make you feel complete and be satisfied.

With the many things that call out to me I daily choose truth in what Jesus said… seek Him and His righteousness knowing Jesus will fill me. He does keep His promise.

Words from the Pastors - Kyle Veer

Sharing a bit of encouragement and/or inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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My Experience in Kenya

by Kyle Veer, Pastor of Worship Ministries

We often don’t realize how much our own culture and surroundings shape our view of the world. I happen to have the viewpoint of a Canadian Christian who, compared to many people in the world, has had it pretty easy in life. I thought about this when I was graduating from high school and thinking of going into ministry. I knew my understanding of life’s challenges and Christian suffering was limited, and my life experience was not very extensive compared to others in the world who might suffer daily. That’s why in 2005 I decided to go on a 4 month missions trip to Kenya.

I signed up as a short term missionary, traveled to Kenya on my own, and joined a team of missionaries who were doing construction all over the country. They took me on 4 long work trips (safaris) over my time there. We put huge sheet metal roofs with metal trusses over-top of church buildings that had been standing unfinished for years, we finished school buildings, and repaired missionary homes. We took local Kenyans on as workers with us, and tried to get to know them. We met many Africans who had become Christians and were so excited about Jesus and the Church we were helping build.

On one trip we were out in the middle of the desert in a central hub for a nomadic tribe, where some missionaries had started a church. We met 2 men who took us to their home in the desert. It was full-on “National Geographic” - straw huts, camels, and African tribes-people with spears. wearing beads with braided hair and painted skin - something I’ll never forget (see photo gallery below).

These people, poor as they were, were incredibly friendly. They were genuinely more interested in relationship than they were about improving their situation. They didn’t complain about their lives. They did want to go to Nairobi to learn English and get an education so they could get a job to provide for their family and support their community. But they also knew they didn’t want to have the distractions that people in first world countries have because of money and affluence - greed, oppression, life dominated by work, etc. Their ultimate goal was to return to their nomadic tribe, not to stay in the city. It was so good for me to appreciate the life experience and viewpoint of people with such an opposite life experience from my own. I went there to be a missionary to them, but I was learning from them, and I wanted to take on their attitude towards life.

During missionary training I was told if you were to picture the “average Christian person” 30 years ago, from a global statistics point of view, that person was statistically most likely a North American or European man. However, if you were to do the same exercise now, that person is statistically most likely an African woman. The point is, the global landscape of Christianity is often different than our local experience. We may be tempted to think Christianity is in decline because of what we see in our culture, but we can be encouraged by what’s happening around the world for Christ through global missions. I can tell you for a fact, in those towns I visited in Kenya Christianity is on the rise!

Too easily I forget about my Kenya experience and fall back into my North American ways. But when I’m able to view my situation with a wider perspective, it improves my outlook on life, and reminds me that God has a lot more exciting stuff going on around the world than just what’s happening to me. That gives me hope and endurance in this life.

Words from the Pastors - Paul Weisser

Sharing a bit of encouragement and/or inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified about the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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A Matter of Friendship

by Paul Weisser

A number of years ago I had the interesting experience of being present in the courtroom for the high-profile trial of NHLer Marty McSorley in Vancouver. And while the trial took weeks there is really only one point that I remember vividly.

It was about mid-way through the proceedings and from my seat in the second row I noticed an empty chair right in front of me. This chair had been unoccupied for the entire trial and I began to wonder who it was for. I got my answer the next day.

When everyone filed into the room in the morning our empty chair was no longer empty. I found myself staring at the back of the head of the Great One himself. Wayne Gretzky.

But why is that such a big deal? I asked around and discovered that McSorley had been holding that seat open for his friend Wayne the entire time, just hoping that he would show up.

As I reflect on the idea of friendship and what it means to care for someone, I ask myself two questions.

First, do I have a friend or someone in my life who I can count on to hold me up, to come alongside me no matter the circumstances I find myself. Someone I can rely on. I hope we can all say yes to that question. I know I can.

But more importantly, am I the type of person who will hold up a friend, will show them support no matter what is going on around us? I hope we can all say yes to that as well.

God has given us special people in our lives for a reason. We get to support, and be supported by them.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!’

Now Wayne Gretzky showed up to show his friendship and support to Marty McSorley and he didn’t even have to say a word. The two only exchanged a brief hello in the courtroom, but you could see how much it meant to McSorley to have his friend present.

God instructs us to be encouraging to one another and to support one another in our friendship.

Words from the Pastors - Neil Penner

Sharing a bit of encouragement and/or inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified from the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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Devotional thoughts by Neil Penner

The Heavenly Father has my best interest in mind.

Linda and I always want to do what is best for our kids. Linda and I committed ourselves to parenting according to God’s Word. The kids did not always like the choices we made for them when they were young, even though our hearts desire was always what was good for them. My heavenly Father knows what is best for me and I don’t always like it. The Bible gives us some helpful advice on daily life choices.

Proverbs 16:1-5

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans

God sometimes makes it so easy for us to succeed in life. One simple truth… Commit – yet it is one of the hardest things for a selfish human being to do that wants control.

Another passage of scripture says without faith it is impossible to please God.

The big question for me is… If I believe that Jesus loves me so much that He gave His life for me, and paid in full for my sin, should I not be able to trust Him with my life? The answer is yes in my brain, but a daily truth I must apply to my life.

Am I daily willing to commit to God my family, career, my relationships or whatever I set my mind to do? Even my thoughts? Are you?

Words from the Pastors - Sam Bell

Sharing a bit of encouragement and/or inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Get notified from the latest “Words from the Pastors” post in our weekly MRAC Emails. Sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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A Devotional by Sam Bell

In our small group on Monday night we were studying John chapter 5. The chapter opens with a story of Jesus entering Jerusalem passing by a pool. The Bible describes this pool as being surrounded by “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed”. Jesus takes notice of one man who had been invalid for thirty-eight years and Jesus asks him this question, “Do you want to be healed?”

This statement struck me. Obviously this man wanted to be healed, how could Jesus ask such an obvious question? But it made me wonder about the way that we pray. So many of us we want to be healed, want relationships to be restored, want God to supply our needs, want God to give us direction, and yet we are not direct in what we are asking for.

Maybe you’ve prayed a prayer like this recently; “God, it’s me… I don’t mean to bother you, I know I’ve bugged you about this before, there is this thing I want you to do, but if you don’t or you can’t or you rather have me wait, I’m totally fine with that too”

I think so many times I really want to be the person who asks for exactly what is on my heart at that moment, and yet I get caught in the trap of praying this way to manage my own expectations, rather than understanding that the God who created everything, who yearns for me to talk to Him, already knows exactly what is on my heart.

This week, when we feel that tug to share what’s on our mind and heart with God, would we all find freedom or at least start down the path of praying exactly what’s on our heart. Praying in a way that we believe God already knows what is truly in our hearts. That no matter the outcome:

God knows, God hears, God cares

Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

Welcome to our new series of Blog Posts featuring words from a different MRAC Pastor each week. We hope to share a bit of encouragement and/or inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.

Look for the latest post being shared in our weekly MRAC Emails. If you don’t already receive MRAC Emails, sign up to receive them by clicking the “Subscribe to our Mailing List” button, located in the website footer (scroll to the very bottom of our website.)

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Stepping Up or Stepping Out

Rob Inrig, Transitional Lead Pastor

Hearing of atrocities behind the barbed wires of Auschwitz, 39-year-old Witold Pilecki, a member of the Polish resistance, volunteered to be arrested so he could get 1st hand information. Imprisoned in the Nazi death camp, he smuggled intelligence reports out in the outgoing laundry into the waiting hands of the Polish Resistance.  Thanks to Pilecki, horrific rumour was confirmed as unspeakable fact.

His imprisonment ended when, after 3 years of confinement, he and two colleagues escaped by overpowering a guard.

Despite his heroics, Pilecki wasn’t blessed with a long life. Three years after the war’s end, Pilecki was executed by Stalin’s Secret Police due to his loyalty to Poland’s non-communist government. 

It’s been said that, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear rather it is the judgment that something else is more important.”  Few exemplify this truth better than Pilecki whose courage compelled him to step up when all others looked on.

He didn’t do so because his actions would bring great fame. In truth, it’s doubtful any of us have heard his name. He didn’t do so because his courage would bring great reward. It’s doubtful he had any real hope of escape from this barbed wired prison. But while the world stepped out, Pilecki stepped up.

I wonder, how might God be asking us to step up even if fears are shouting, “Step out not needed.”  Not a leap. Just a step - into a place where God wants to accomplish His purposes through us.

Who knows how many prisoners God might want to set free through us?

Welcome Pastor Paul!

Huge welcome to our new Pastor of Family Ministries & Missions, Paul Weisser! It's his first day and we're so happy to have him join us.

2nd day at work for Steffie Amlee.
1st day at work for Sally Tukker.
Thanks so much for joining our Office! Welcome!

Dan Bremnes leading worship Sunday May 22!

This coming Sunday, join us as we gather for Worship with special guest Dan Bremnes and Compassion Canada!

Dan is one of the worship leaders at the Love Ran Red tour with Chris Tomlin later on Sunday evening, and he's going to be leading worship in our church in the morning at both services.

http://www.danbremnes.com/about/

He will also be sharing with us about Compassion Sponsor Child and the work they are doing to help with child poverty.

https://www.compassion.ca/about-compassion/

Guatemala 2016 Team

Our Youth Guatemala Missions Team has arrived in Guatemala! Join us in prayer for this team and for the Guatemalan people they will be serving, and let's look forward to what God will do in and through them.

Follow their blog for more updates on their trip: https://guatemala2016blog.wordpress.com/
Check out their posts, like and comment too! Let them know we are praying for them.

Specific prayer requests include:
- health in a new environment with new food, etc.
- unity in Christ, to show the love of Christ
- safety and protection, physically and spiritually
- growth in understanding of the underprivileged in the world
- growth in reliance on God in every moment of the day

Tragic bus accident in Peru

This tragedy involved some of our Alliance brothers and sisters in Peru. We don't know the specific details, but pray for anyone involved.

Pastors' Retreat

The 4 pastors tossing the Frisbee last week in White Rock on their Pastors' Retreat!