Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

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HUNGRY AND SEARCHING HEARTS

He was tired and ready to go home. This was hardly the place most would choose but it was the place God chose. His was a strange ministry. For years he had been smuggling Bible into communist countries that had done everything to silence the Word of God. Bibles were destroyed; churches were closed and public gatherings were banned. But on this day, Brother Andrew had no more Bibles to give. Soon he would leave the Siberian woods and go back to his family in Holland but until then he needed to explore. Before latching the door, he instinctively grabbed a New Testament that was lying on a countertop. How he overlooked it before was a mystery.

Setting off, he was lost in thought. The thick forests were almost a ‘little Red Riding Hood’ experience. His explorations were soon interrupted by two girls who ran toward him shouting, “Wolves, quickly, come with us.”

Soon Brother Andrew was resting in the safety of a small cabin that seemed removed from the rest of the world. Discussions soon turned to God.

For a long time, this Russian family had been listening to a foreign radio broadcast that told of a God who loved them and had died for them. It was so contrary to what they had been taught. Questions abounded. Time after time the father had written Far Eastern Broadcasting (FEBC) asking questions they promised to answer and time after time, no answers came. His main request was for a Bible. But nothing.

It was obviously too good to be true, just one more story, one more set of lies. And so, just the night before, he had come to an end - if a Bible didn’t come by dinner the next day, he would give up any hope of a living God.

Brother Andrew listened with rapt attention, occasionally interrupting but his answers didn’t satisfy what had been asked. God’s ways are so hard at times. And then he remembered – nestled in his pocket was the New Testament that had been overlooked when all the rest of his Bibles had been given away.

God’s Word, just waiting to be placed in the hands of hungry and searching hearts, who moments later were made new through the saving blood of Jesus Christ.

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Words from the Intern - CJ Schuetz, Youth & Families Intern

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

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THANKFUL

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the stereotypes, we live in a country perpetually covered with ice and snow, surrounded by plaid-wearing lumberjacks, beavers, maple syrup, poutine, and hockey fanatics, and while some of these may ring true and some may not, there is one Canadian stereotype that stands to be the most accurate representation of Canadians to people all over the world, WE ARE TOO POLITE! Throughout my adventures overseas this past year I have heard it said of us dozens of times; and isn’t it true? For the most part at least, we Canadians seem to be chronically stuck in a place of always needing to say sorry, please, and thank you. However, sorry is often said insincerely, please is said out of obligation, and thank you used as a form of ‘goodbye.’

What would it sound like if we were more sincere, especially when giving thanks? Here’s an even tougher question: what would it sound like if we said thank you even when things didn’t go our way?

Some of you know, but for those of you who don’t, I spent the past year with YWAM in Central America and in Europe. While a lot of my journey was full of adventure, friendship, ministry, and growing in deeper relationship with God, there were a lot of hard times as well. It was in one spout of tough times that God spoke very clearly to me during one of our worship meetings. He pointed out to me that I had become distracted and weighed down and he asked me to take time to simply be more thankful. For three days I sat down and wrote out as many things as I could possibly think of that I was thankful for. People, places, events over the course of my life both good and bad. Doing this made me pause and remember what had made me who I was, it made me realize how much I had been blessed, and it helped me understand that even the hard times were blessings meant to stretch and shape me into who God intended me to be.

After writing out that list of things I was thankful for I noticed how quickly my attitude changed. I no longer felt overwhelmed by what was going on around me, and I felt peace and security rather than confusion. While the tough times were still surrounding me, I was not quite so easily distracted or weighed down. My attitude of praise made it impossible for the enemy to win and pull me under. Remember, sincere thankfulness is a weapon, we may be going through messy situations but Satan can NOT stand when we have our hands in the air praising God.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Words from the Pastors - Neil Penner

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

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When Good Works and Faith Collided

Ephesians 2: 8&9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

My upbringing and my faith in Jesus collided.

In my upbringing I saw people doing good works. They were nice people doing good things. Then there were people that went to church but I did not observe good things from them. They seemed to go against what I had heard in Sunday school. By the nature of who I am, and what I observed and felt, to be a Christian church goer one needed to do good things.  I know I was not a good child and teenager, and it seemed the older I got the more trouble I got into. My life revealed the dark emptiness in what I did and did not do.

Then came the night I said out loud to Jesus that I was a sinner. I admitted to myself, and to God, that I was so deserving of God’s wrath and I asked Him to forgive me.  Then I asked Jesus to come into my life and take control.  It was in that moment my world changed, and the things I did changed.

My life of pleasing myself changed.  I now wanted and desired to do what my Lord wanted me to do.  I asked Him to lead me into truth and love.  My life moving forward was doing what was right as the Holy Spirit showed me through His Word, and by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The good works that I did was out of Love for my Savior and what He showed me to do. Every step was a step of faith.  I discovered it was not... I must be good now, but rather my Savior guiding me in doing what He wanted me to do.

Jesus Christ brought me freedom to do good works by His Spirit and always through faith in Him.

As a follower of Christ I never had to process in my mind; ‘OH I must do this because I am a Christian’ or ‘OH I must do that because I am a Pastor’.  The freedom I found was being open to His Spirit leading as I stayed in His Word, while walking with my hand in His.

 The truth was that I knew God loved me and had a plan for my life. That plan was loving Him each day and being obedient to Him when He asked me to do something.  I confess there were, and are many times, I struggle with what He asks of me, but I have learned His plans are always good.  This is ‘faith works’ not ‘duty works’, because I am a Christian.

 May you too discover the freedom in loving your Savior and finding ‘faith works’ as He leads you.  It will free you of false guilt and bring glory to our Savior Jesus Christ

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Words from the Intern - Liam Whatley, Worship/Tech Intern

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Of Destination, Treasure, and Fruit

by Liam Whatley

Since moving to the warm and sunny lower mainland from the northern Alberta winters I’ve rediscovered an enjoyment for cycling. It’s a delight to explore this new space at a speed that allows me to absorb my surroundings and yet travel to many places. My favourite way to embark on a ride is to step onto the street, look at a landmark on the horizon and say “Let’s go that way”. It doesn’t matter to me if I make it all the way to the landmark, it’s the drone of the tires, the nudge of the wind, the heat of the sun and the metronomic pedalling that makes a cycling trip enjoyable. It’s the journey, not the destination that is the goal.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote a novel titled “The Alchemist” which tells the tale of a traveller who is molded and shaped on his journey. It begins with a Spanish boy dropping everything to search for a treasure far away in Egypt. His travels take him through a myriad of places and through the lives of a variety of characters. The boy who arrives in Egypt years after setting out from Spain is a very different person. His journey has transformed him such that when he reaches Egypt he is able to discover that the location of the treasure he seeks was hidden in his field all along. Only because of the transformation that happens along his journey can the boy discover the location and use wisely the gold. The gold treasure did not change the boy. It was the journey of transformation that changed him.

Jesus didn’t come to make believers, He came to make disciples. He came to transform people’s lives. Jesus called his disciples to drop everything and follow him. These disciples believed that Jesus was the saviour that had been prophesied to the Israelites and followed him waiting for him to establish a new Kingdom. The Kingdom of heaven is the treasure that they dropped everything to seek. Jesus did not tear down the enemies of Israel and build a new Jerusalem in the way the disciples thought he would. Instead, Jesus spent years travelling around Israel healing and guiding those he came in contact with. Like the boy in “The Alchemist”, the disciples had to go through a journey of transformation to prepare them for the treasure that they would find. The disciples learnt to follow Jesus not for the treasure but because of their love for him.

Some people decide to follow Jesus because of the blessings the Bible promised to the faithful. Maybe it is material blessings or power these people seek, or spiritual blessings in the afterlife. It is not good to follow Jesus out of love for the treasure. This is the trap that Judas fell into. John 12 highlights to us that Judas’ love was for money, not for Jesus. Judas’ love for treasure led him to betray Jesus in exchange for silver coins.

When we surrender ourselves to God, He can transform us and then use us for His goodness. The treasure we seek is for God to use us for His good works. This can only happen if we allow Him to transform us. The more we allow Jesus to transform us, the more Jesus can work in our life. The more Jesus can work in our life, the more fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our life. In this, the fruit of the Spirit is a barometer for transformation.

Are you journeying with God and letting him transform you?

What is your goal for this journey? Is it the treasure or is it transformation?

What fruits are you seeing come out of your journey with God?

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Words from the Pastors - Paul Weisser

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

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Not Perfect

The dictionary describes perfection as ‘the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects, the act of making something that can’t be improved’.

It would be awfully nice to be perfect. I think almost everyone would like to be perfect in some form or another, not needing improvement. Maybe something at work, or in sports, or in our dealing with other people. The only hitch in that plan is that we are all flawed. We might be very successful in some areas, but we are not God.

Another definition of perfection “the act or process of perfecting.”

This is something that, as Christians, we can cling to. A process. There’s no deadline that we’re trying to meet, no spiritual timeline that must be met. We strive at being perfect and yet we know that we will never get there. The point has never been that we need to be perfect. Instead, we are making progress. Sometimes it is easy to get down on ourselves when we are simply average or even poor at something.

Paul tells us in the 3rd chapter of Philippians that we need to get out and ‘press on’ furthering God’s kingdom even though we may will fall short along the way. Progress can be painfully slow at times. When we put too much effort into an attempt at being perfect, we usually get it wrong. We need to trust God to guide us along our journey. And He will!

God wants us to just keep moving forward. We keep improving and progressing, sometimes with baby steps and sometimes running. God knows exactly how flawed we are. It has been said that often the most growth comes from failure and we can be sure that failure is always part of our process!

So as you continue on your journey this week and you deal with failures and setbacks, don’t be discouraged. Realize that what’s happening aren’t bad signs, but are instead part of the process. Trust that God will teach you and allow you to continue to grow.

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Words from the Pastors - Sam Bell

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

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Tethered

Music has always been a huge part of my life. What I choose to listen to in a specific moment can easily reflect the emotion or feelings of a given situation. There have been more than a few occasions where at a stop light I have been caught air drumming and singing at the top of my lungs and then awkwardly catch the person in the next car silently judging me. The way the chords and melody of a song can punctuate a moment, can help to change my perspective, or give me a brief escape.

On occasion there will be a new song that will trigger something within me simply with a lyric or a line that speaks to something deeper, something I have been wrestling with, or something that I have wanted to express but couldn’t find the adequate words. These songs get put on repeat until the words have a chance to really sink in.

There is a song by Phil Wickham called “Tethered”. The first time this song came on I stopped what I was doing and just listened. I couldn’t shake this word “tethered”. As Christians we understand intellectually that our lives are to be lived with Jesus, but this word brought a very practical picture into mind. Phil sings, “I just want my life to ever be entwined with You / Tethered to Your heart”. The definition of tether is: “to be tied to a post or fixed to the ground with a rope or chain”. Isn’t this an amazing picture for us? To rest in the fact that our hearts should be fixated and tethered to Jesus Christ who is unmovable and unshakable, who brings stability, provides protection, who gives us freedom in our relationship with Him, that we might invite Him into what is happening in our own lives.

Acts 17:28

‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

Just like getting a song stuck in my head, I want the truth of this verse to get stuck in my head so I can’t help but see how Jesus is a part of my day to day life. Would our thoughts and actions be tethered to Jesus as we interact with our families, work our jobs, talk with our neighbors, run errands, enjoy our hobbies, spend time serving others, and spend time with Him.

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Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

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

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Dressed to Win

During World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, a group of German soldiers, dressed in the uniforms of the Allies, used American military vehicles as they traveled the countryside changing road signs. When American troops came to various crossroads, they were often deceived to go off in the wrong direction. This deception almost gave the Germans victory in this decisive battle.

Deception in warfare dates back to early history. The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise, puts great emphasis on the tactic. In one of history’s most important battles, the invasion of Normandy, the Allies deceived the German High Command into thinking that she would be attacked in another place helping the Allies achieve tactical surprise.

The practice of deception is as old as time. It first spoke through the hiss of a serpent and it continues to speak with that hiss today. It tries to convince us that we are equipped to do life in our own strength. Certainly, life will have its challenges but nothing we can’t handle. Any idea of a battle taking place for which we need to be alert and prepared is something for novels and movies. Great entertainment but certainly far removed from what we will experience as we drive to work or what we continually face in our home or workplace.

But the Bible warns, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It’s worth noting that this warning comes in close proximity to God’s instructions about how we live with one another

Not recognizing the ground on which the battle is being fought, many of us continue to be deceived. Our battle dress is packed away just waiting for some advance warning of where and when the enemy will show his face.

It’s time to get unpacked.

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you harmony with one another in Christ Jesus, so that with one mind and one voice, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring glory to God. Rom 15:5-7

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Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

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

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Closed doors Open hearts

by Rob Inrig

It seemed like Andy, the fourth of ten children, was born with a sense of daring. What others wouldn’t even think of doing, Andy had already done. Perhaps his spirit of adventure was fostered by an invalid mother and a poor, near deaf blacksmith, who took on the challenges of life rather than letting life defeat them. Perhaps it was just a personality that wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Who’s to say? But something about him, spurred him on when others quit.

As a young man he was intent on attending a specialized school in Scotland. Informed there were no openings, he left Holland anyway and showed up at the school’s door. No obstacle had stopped him before and no obstacle would stop him now. He would not be denied. Finally admitted into the program, he experienced excruciating back pain that often left him debilitated. Sometimes he was unable to move. If he fell, he would often remain in place waiting until someone came to his aid. Clearly, Andy’s goal of studying to become a missionary at the World Evangelization Crusade (WEC) school would not be realized. The school could not offer him a position as a missionary and so, with regret, 27-year old Andy closed the door on WEC and returned to Holland.

He had no degree, no money and no plans other than a crazy desire to go behind the Iron Curtain to attend a youth conference in Poland. The idea was crazy but not nearly as crazy as the fact that this was a communist youth conference in a communist dominated country.

But all along, God was preparing Andy to walk through shut doors. As Andy would tell it, God had awakened his spirit with the words of Revelation 3:2, “Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die". With this commission, Andy stepped into many communist-ruled countries where Christians were persecuted for their faith. But still he went, at great personal risk, filling his suitcase with large numbers of God’s Word bringing them into places that were vehemently opposed to the things of Christ. God’s Smuggler, Andy, or as he became better known, Brother Andrew, taking the Gospel behind closed doors and into waiting and open hearts.

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Words from the Pastors - Paul Weisser

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

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Eyes

by Paul Weisser

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2

Our eyes are amazing. The human eyeball is just a small part of our body and yet the intricacy and detail that God put into them is astonishing. An eye typically weighs just over 28 grams (or 1 ounce for those of us who never really ‘got’ the metric system). Each eyeball requires over 2 million different parts working together to give someone the ability to see. An eye can pick out more than 1.5 million colours and over 500 separate shades of grey! The very best digital camera doesn’t even come close!

Most of us don’t actually think about our eyes very often, we just take for granted our ability to get up in the morning and go about our day, seeing things. We do put a lot of value in our sense of vision with everything around us geared at ‘catching our eye’. We take some small steps to protect our eyes – sometimes – with things like safety glasses, goggles, or masks in the workplace. Sunglasses protect us from those nasty Ultraviolet rays and athletes use protection to avoid injury in various sports.

In the Bible we see the eye talked about as more than just an organ in our head. As Christians, we are told to take care with our eyes and what they see, to be mindful of where we put our focus. Part of the Sermon on the mount, Matthew 6:22 says The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. Jesus is telling us that what we choose to look at affects our entire life, and what we focus on is really what we value. If we truly want to live a life that follows God then we are called to fill our eyes and minds with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and excellent (Philippians 4:8).

The eye may be just be a small part of our body but it has a huge impact on it. I pray that today we will be people who lift our eyes and focus on the one from whom our help comes, the maker of Heaven and earth.

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Words from the Pastors - Sam Bell

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Are You Comfortable?

by Sam Bell

Do you enjoy being put in uncomfortable situations? I don’t think many of us seek out the uncomfortable, but there is something to be said with how God is able to shape and mold us when we allow ourselves to break out of our regular habits and routines.

January of my Grade 12 year, my friend Cory turned to me one night with this look in his eye and said, “We should go camping this weekend”. In the middle of January? In BC? This wasn’t a “Glamping trip” (fancy trailers with bathrooms and running water type camping), this was roughing it in two man tent at the Golden Ears campsites. Was the trip a success? I mean we stayed there all night, but we had our apple fritters stolen by a malicious raccoon, we wore every piece of clothing we had to sleep that night, and we awoke to the sound of a cougar 20 feet from our tent at 3 in the morning.

The reason this night sticks out in my mind is because I allowed myself to jump into something out of the ordinary that broke up the safety and regularity of my life. As I look at my own life I can see moments where I have allowed myself to jump into what God has been calling me to. Where I have seen that my faithfulness in the situation allows God to work and move in my obedience and through the uncomfortableness that I feel.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

God is calling us “in all your ways” and with “all your heart”. The way we live this out has a lot to do with our attitude towards God and ultimately our response to what we are being called to. It means that the strength of our belief will be tested in moments where we don’t have everything figured out and times where we will have to allow God to take control while things get uncomfortable for us.

Do I allow what I’m comfortable with to stand in the way of what God wants for my life?

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Words from the Pastors - Neil Penner

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

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Living In Jesus, Or Living For Jesus

by Neil Penner

Often I hear people say this Christian life is hard and there are times I feel that it would be easier to go fix cars then be in the ministry. You may feel that the sin - confess, sin – confess battle is tiresome. You try to be the good Christian and do the things that a good Christian would do. You find yourself slipping and you start feeling the guilt rather than enjoying the freedom that the Bible says we should have. Going to a Sunday service is I must, rather than I want. For me personally, it is in these moments that I feel God nudging me to release the weight that I am caring to Him. It is in those moments that His Holy Spirit is calling out to me to allow Him to work in me. It is in those moments God reveals to me that I have slipped myself into the driver’s seat and I am trying to take control.

My freedom in living the Christian life is found in releasing my life to Jesus. I hear God’s Word softly pushing the noise from my heart and mind saying, “Be still my Son, let go of the wheel.”

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What I do in the following moments is important to my freedom. If I were to put it into steps it would look something like;

1. Stop and hear His voice of truth.

2. Release those things I have been attempting to control. Giving Jesus His rightful place in the driver’s seat.

3. Ask His Holy Spirit to come in and fill that area of my life. If that is my thought life, our family life or relationships, money and circumstance, or heath.

4. Enjoy time with Jesus and His Word taking time to allow truth of Who Christ is to wash over me. I do this with music and His Word.

5. Asking my Lord to work in me and through me to be a blessing to others.

The blessing is when it is not about me but rather about Him. And somehow in God’s economy, that in this release of control, I am blessed with His peace and a deep joy of knowing God loves me.

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Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

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

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God’s Help or a New Pitcher?

by Rob Inrig

Over the course of the year, it’s common for a pastor to hear various ideas about what people wish to see in the church – what ministries should be engaged, what initiatives should be started, what sermons should be preached.

Without question, this past year has been one of initiation and change. It’s also been a time where God has brought us into a deeper place, sometimes through challenges and loss, sometimes through the exercise of stepping out faith, and sometimes through blessings and joys.

Through it all, this community of faith has loved well, served well, and grown well. Impressive about this is the ongoing heart that looks out from these walls to serve the community with expressions of Christ’s love. More impressive than that, is the growing desire to be a people of prayer who seek God to determine His calling. It is in our seeking of Him that we will be a church where people see us as those who are deeply in love with Jesus and whose lives, messy as they often can be, are being transformed by the power of God’s Spirit.

Speaking of prayer, I love the prayer of 9 year old Loreen who had a suggestion most church growth experts missed,

“Dear Pastor, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you moved it to Disneyland.”

She may have a point, though I am hesitant to let our staff get too much traction with this idea. And then there’s the compelling, prayer request of 10 year old Alexander,

“Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God's help or a new pitcher.”

Among other things I love about these prayers is that there is nothing too small and nothing too big that we can’t bring to God.

As followers of Jesus, we need reminders that our requests of God aren’t limited by the size of our request, they are limited by our willingness to request. May you and I take a fresh thankful look at what God has been doing and allow that to renew our hearts with faith, joy and risk.

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Words from the Pastors - Rob Inrig

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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Walking Over Shattered Glass

by Rob Inrig

Slowly they crawled, like animals feeling that safety was better secured on all fours. Their journey stretched four football fields long over a 3500 feet drop to the valley below. Others were less bold – watching - unconvinced about a structure that appeared uncrossable. Despite their minds’ assurances, their eyes shouted something else – crossing was foolish.

But once feet begin their journey over a glass bottomed suspension bridge in a mountain scenic park in China, stomach flipping terror sets in. The view may be spectacular but trusting safety to 1½ inches of glass tests everything the mind believes.

But the engineers said – trust. The builders said trust. The glassmakers said trust.

After all, they were the ones who knew. And then glass shattered. Admittedly, only a panel or two but the park official who tried to reassure, “The fractured glass does not affect safety” did little to assure travelers.

So much for what the experts knew.

Sometimes it feels as if God takes us to glass bottom bridges and asks us to walk. Our destination? Often unmarked. Our certainty? Often unknown. Our purpose? Often unclear. But faith works in places that don’t have straight paths and assured destinations. Places God calls us to trust, one step at a time even when cracks come and storms blow. Because the truth is, there are times when we will experience storms and the foundations of our lives will shake.

The Bible is filled with stories like these. Take Joseph for example whose story is a roller coaster ride of: jealousy and revenge, a father’s love and a father’s foolishness, a virile ‘innocent’ and a woman’s attempt to seduce him; and identity lost and a greater identity found.

Scripture gives us no better example of how to live and how to trust as life walks us over shattered glass. It’s a story of trust in the faithfulness of God when ground gives way and darkness closes in. A story when God’s redemptive plan slowly unfolds even though it often goes unseen. It’s a story written for us as He calls us to, “Trust and walk” because He is God even during times of shattering glass.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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