What does it take to Love Intentionally For Eternity?
Me’Od – Loving the Lord with all…your all! That sure speaks to me about the people of Grace that I’ve had the pleasure of walking with these past 16.5 years. You have Loved Intentionally For Eternity’s sake…Me’Od L.I.F.E. And we have seen God do amazing things with your Me’Od!
Two verses echoed through my mind as I set out to chronicle the last sixteen and a half years of seeing what God has done at Grace.
The first verse is found in Deuteronomy, “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” (Deut. 32:7 (NIV). And a second one comes from the Prophet Jeremiah, a long time after that first verse was uttered.
The people had forgotten all the great things God had brought them through and they had lost their way. “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. …’ (Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV).
Today we’ll set out to remember some of those days of old as I remember them.
Now I know that many of you were not even here when I answered God’s call to Grace…it came by way of John Martens cell phone, that found us where cell signals ought not have reached…and with that we knew the Lord called us to uproot our family, say goodbye to our friends, and come to this place called Grace. …looking back I’m sure glad we came.
Jesus promised, “…everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Jesus knew that hearts would hurt and the cost would be great but He assured us it would be worth it not only in the hereafter but even along the journey. And He was so right!
So today we stand at another crossroads and we have much of HIStory to remember.
Through the years I set up stones, so to speak, each year I created a video that shaped our annual meetings and caused us to remember what the Lord had done less we forgot His goodness and begin to grumble.
As we take time throughout the morning to Worship Our Real King we’ll Give all the Glory to God, as we watch snippets and remember the journey. For even today is a part of HIStory of Grace.
Every story must have a beginning, right? But the story we’ll go through this morning really doesn’t begin with our first video clip. Nor does it begin with me or Pastor Scott. It began many years before that beginning…long before our voices and witness reached Grace.
In fact, even before either of us were born, the seeds of the faithful, the paths that God implanted, the mission and vision He alone determined, was set in motion for this place. It involved many faithful people largely unknown to those that will appear the clips of the last sixteen and half years. But if you watch closely you will not only grasp the vision they had for Grace Gospel Church as it began here in the Okanagan but you will also see them W.O.R.K.ing in His Kingdom for our benefit and for those who will come when we are no more. Their part of HIStory is a story we’ll save for another day. But today, we remember that by God’s grace, we were privileged to be here for such a time as this because of they Loved Intentionally For Eternities sake, pouring out their lives in service to Jesus.
Today’s story takes us back 16.5 years of our L.I.F.E. Lynda and I began our journey with Grace back in the fall of 2001. Grace had weathered pastoral transition and was determined to carry on.
In the first clip we’ll see that by God’s grace, the first 3 years saw healing and reconciliation and new L.I.F.E. that brought energy and courage for the future.
By the next summer, we found an intern from Columbia BC who chose to return after finishing there with their growing family. And Scott and JoAnne stayed for the next 14 years or so. What a blessing they were.
During this first clip take notice how the Holy Spirit in action prompted Graeme and even Scott’s dad, Don to followed Christ in baptism. For Don it was none too soon…shortly thereafter we bid him farewell after a worship team practice where he literally drummed his heart out and died. (pause)
You’ll also see in this clip some building changes as we began to embrace technology in the service and prepare for company. And God faithfully provided just the right people at the right times to help us W.O.R.K. Musically, Grace chose to have one foot in the past and another in the present. Let’s watch and listen (SHEMA) as this part of HIStory unfolds.
Part 2 covers the years 2005-2007
As Iron sharpens Iron we continually needed to Remember Colossians 3:13 and “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 (NIV). A lesson we all still need to remember every day. And yet God is so gracious. During this time there were more baptisms and some very cool imaginative outreaches had us W.O.R.King together to build His Kingdom.
God’s word to us in 2005 was – remember, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (1 John 3:18)
Talk is cheap! Showing this kind of love, not so! Having worked hard to raise the dough it was off to Mexico we go! The first international youth trip but definitely not the last! I even went on this one and was so blessed to watch the transformation beginning in some of our children as they put their faith into action.
Later in that year, after having tried for several years, Scott and Molded clay presented a sterling witness that was rewarded 1st place at Peach Festival sand castle competition.
We continually engaged our community outside these four walls as well as inviting them in. Our worship services were gradually transforming with the help of Sandra Gair whom Walter and Irene gracefully took under their wing. Our buzz word for worship genre was inter-generational.
Let’s watch and listen (SHEMA) as this part of HIStory unfolds.
Video Clip (16-years-Pt-2 05-06)
As we go into this next season of Grace the video covers the years 2007-2010.
In this season we were introduced to SHMILY something that has stuck with some of us ever since. This of course caused people to question what does …SHMILY mean?
See How Much I Love You, Jesus said,“…for greater love has no one than this that he would lay down his life for his friends!” (John 15:13). Jesus loved us so much He willingly endured the Cross and its shame so that we might be saved. Stretching out His arms He said, see how much I love you!
This reminded us yet again that our love needed to be more than just words. It needed our Me-Od! We needed to be all in! And this love was tested regularly for it’s purity!
Worship teams now included the Gracemen, Len & I and Theo’s Team who together brought quite an eclectic Worship. We recognized that God loves diversity, especially when it works together for the community so we sought to give Worship fitting of the King of Kings!
It was during this season, with the help of Dave Jackson and the BCMB Conference that we set about to rediscover and document the vision God had for Grace all along. Through much prayer and listening to God and to one another that vision statement took this form.
Grace MB was “to be a place where, even the abandoned, the neglected, and the marginalized find “He who sticks closer than a brother” and know the love of God is truly welcoming them into God’s Kingdom” our Purpose was “to help people everywhere to know and follow Jesus Christ.”
Little did we know at the time how far reaching God had in mind for this small church ministry.
God was amazingly generous with us and every time someone passed on to Glory He brought new folks in to work along side of us. It was during this season of Grace that Chad and Roberta brought yet another fresh touch into our already eclectic Worship and we’ve been privileged to have them lead us in worship ever since. Let’s watch and listen (SHEMA) for more as this part of HIStory unfolds.
Video: (16-years-Pt-3 07-10)
Part 4: 2011 to 2014 saw True Intimacy Must Exist as God brought some amazing transformations to people throughout Grace. Jesus told his disciples REMEMBER to go into ALL the world and make disciples…to teach them to Worship Our Real King through Praying, Listening, Abiding and Yearning for more of Him and by Loving Intentionally for Eternities’ sake. The words, WORK, PLAY, TIME and LIFE took on whole new meanings in this season.
God wove people from all over the world into Grace to spur us on to obeying His command to GO!. More than we could possibly imagine.
At home, thanks to the sacrificial love of our seniors, whose lasting marriages for some now topped 60 years, the quarter millennium grew in numbers and we through a celebration of nearly half a millennium of marriage. Grace was packed-out with even the soon to be mayor, showing up because of God’s faithfulness through their witness.
Their faithful witness proved that God can keep you for the long haul and that has helped many of our children grow into fully committed disciples wanting to bring God glory wherever he would plant them.
In this season God was seeing to it that Scott’s persistence in loving youth intentionally set them up for eternity. If that wasn’t enough God in our midst, we saw the ministries of Grace expanded further and wider through the power of the internet. In this season millions of visitors knocked at our virtual door, taking with them thousands of downloads of clear gospel centered messages. We couldn’t even begin to imagine what God was doing there.
But our primary mission was to people of Penticton and surrounding communities. “to be a place where, even the abandoned, the neglected, and the marginalized find “He who sticks closer than a brother” and know the love of God is truly welcoming them into God’s Kingdom”.
And so, in this season, God saw to it that Gail’s newly refurbished office had a steady flow of wounded brothers and sisters receiving healing balm from their Father in heaven.
Musically, our worship music evolved under the skilled leadership of Walter who mentored young musicians like Terry, Tristan, Tiffany and Lorna who led us into God’s throne room each Sunday. And during this season Lorna caught God’s call to Go! And ended up on the other side of the world meeting Jimmy. The rest is HIStory!
Grace Remembered Paul’s exhortation, (14) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (15) And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)
By God’s calling and equipping Grace was truly making disciples of all nations…especially in Kenya.
Let’s watch and listen (SHEMA) as this part of HIStory unfolds.
Video (16-years-Pt-4 11-14)
Wow seems like only yesterday! But time flies when God’s presence abounds. During the last season of Grace we learned what Paul meant when he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7).
The celebrations of faithful ones who had finished the race set before them and the launching of young ones who caught the passion of people like Walter and Rudy, whose lives showed us fruitfulness to the very end, were such an inspiration!
And God sent us some amazing MB missionaries who came and fanned the flames that spurred even more at Grace to set out to know and follow Jesus wherever He may lead.
We saw Beth & Anna grow passionate about Mexico and we all banded together to help them get there at spring break. And later on, just as Beth began to flourish in her worship leading at Grace, she too heard the call and went on mission. Which gave her Me’Od to pursue God more so she is at Columbia Bible College getting the tools she’ll need to carry on Worshipping Our Real King and making disciples wherever He sends her.
During this season God sent Lorna & Jimmy, and Lynda and I one last time to take your gifts of Grace and help folks in Kenya sustain for the long term the ministry Grace had built up over there in the past 5 years.
And then God refocused us once again on Penticton. He sent those who desperately needed to know and follow Jesus right into this building. And brought us Pastor Peter and Sylvia to help them to know and follow Jesus. God’s Kitchen carries on the very heartbeat of Grace, “to be a place where, even the abandoned, the neglected, and the marginalized find “He who sticks closer than a brother” and know the love of God is truly welcoming them into God’s Kingdom”.
Then, soon thereafter, God brought in even more MB missionary voices reminding us that we must choose to “Get in the Boat” if we are to set out and follow Him.
I pretty sure Scott and I both heard that clarion call in 2016. And we wrestled with even the thought of what it meant for not only us but all of you. Yet in the end, we both knew that it was time to trust in the Lord and obey and follow His leading and get into the boat.
For Scott and JoAnne it was to this gorgeous place on Vancouver Island where they can utilize all the equipping God’s Grace invested in them to mentor generations of Youth Leaders and Mentors for Christ’s Kingdom.
For Lynda and me it was to a new season in life with more trusting in the Lord and leaning on His Word for a new season of equipping the saints to follow Jesus.
When we knew our time at Grace was approaching the end the overwhelmingly positive memories of this place caused Youngs and us to break down and cry tears of sadness for the parting as this season of life was ending. And tears of joy that the love we sowed was reciprocated so much by you folks! And for that we all are eternally grateful to God.
We wish we could take you all on this part of the journey with us. To witness as we see God in action and to know that He is so worthy of our SHEMA! Of our hearing, listening and obeying! Of our Me’Od of our all in all. And in a very real sense we do take you with us.
We take all these stones; the remembrances of what God has done and know that we’ll be together for eternity.
And we also know that “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine.” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV).
Video (16-years-Pt-6 15-16-17)
You see in remembering all these things we know that Grace is not simply this place but is the people of God who have passed through these doors. God has been so amazingly faithful in and through them these past 16.5 years.
“(18) “But forget all that—(God says) it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. (19) For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)
It would seem, that it is His good pleasure to begin something new in this place called Grace. A new generation, lifting up holy hands, in surrender to the only One worthy of our Me’Od. AMEN?
The following videos are the full length yearlies from the AGMs.
- Folks who show True Intimacy Must Exist to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
- At Grace intimacy with Christ brings us closer together with God and our church family.
- True Intimacy Must Exist - to be connected to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit!
- For three years Pastors Blake & Gail have been to Kenya to mentor leaders and encourage churches to know and follow Jesus.
- PLN in Kenya has seen God move in amazing ways. Friends at Grace helped by funraisers and prayers and even garage sales at Grace.
- These couples shared more than 300 years in Marriage! True Intimacy Must Exit to pass the test of time.