Mike & Lynda – a divine arrangement!

Lynda, one of the prayer warriors around our church, was asked by a another prayer warrior she knew what should they pray for her?   Lynda said, “I want a husband!”  They laughed and said “no really what would you have us pray for you?”  She again said, “I want a husband!  Not a boy friend, nor a date but a godly man who would have me as his wife.”   And so they prayed. 

Continue reading

16.5 to L.I.F.E.

I don’t know about you but I’m always looking forward to the next thing that God has for me to do. I get really excited about new things don’t you?

So excited that I sometimes forget to thank God for all He has done along the journey.

I was cleaning out our website and came across a few pics & vids showing some amazing parts of HIStory of Grace…  Enjoy!

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.” (Deuteronomy 32:7 (NIV).

The first video has snippets of each yearly video and was our 2018 AGM service.

The following videos are the full length yearlies from the AGMs.







  • Worship where T.I.M.E. Folks who show True Intimacy Must Exist to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
  • Grace is where T.I.M.E. is found for God.At Grace intimacy with Christ brings us closer together with God and our church family.
  • 2013 -a year of -  T.I.M.E.True Intimacy Must Exist - to be connected to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit!
  • Mentoring and Encouragement - T.I.M.E.For three years Pastors Blake & Gail have been to Kenya to mentor leaders and encourage churches to know and follow Jesus.
  • T.I.M.E. for PureLoveNowPLN in Kenya has seen God move in amazing ways. Friends at Grace helped by funraisers and prayers and even garage sales at Grace.
  • Anniversaries - T.I.M.E.These couples shared more than 300 years in Marriage! True Intimacy Must Exit to pass the test of time.
  • Quilting for MCC - T.I.M.E.
Worship where T.I.M.E. 1 Grace is where T.I.M.E. is found for God.2 2013 -a year of -  T.I.M.E.3 Mentoring and Encouragement - T.I.M.E.4 T.I.M.E. for PureLoveNow5 Anniversaries - T.I.M.E.6 Quilting for MCC - T.I.M.E.7
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Exercise your faith!

Hey Grace and Friends,
Did you know that 7 days without praying makes one weak? 

I invite you to begin a strength building week of Prayer this Sunday. 

Here is your guide.  Share it with those you know who need to renew and invigorate their relationship with our Lord.  

Download (PDF, 3.34MB)

Watch and prepare for the Penticton Ministerial’s 28 Days of Prayer Guide

We’ll have it here for downloading very soon or you can pick up a copy of the prayer guide next Sunday (Jan. 28th) after church and prepare to encounter God in a fresh way.

Download (PDF, 4.14MB)

Psalm 16 Utmost confidence in my Safe Place!

Where do you find confidence?  When everything around is in turmoil, when life gets, overwhelmingly, loud and there is a constant demand for your attention where can you find some peace?

Do you have a safe place?   This is a question those who are on the spectrum need to have an answer to.  They need a safe place to regain confidence when melt down is imminent.  A safe place to go when the stims of life have turned an otherwise healthy environment toxic.  But they surely aren’t the only ones who need to know where their safe place is.  Even King David the writer of this Psalm spoke of his safe place.  The place where he turned and found renewed confidence and inner peace to carry on.

This Psalm of David has no specific point in history for us to look up.  No heroic battles won, or near death escapes for the King of Israel.  It is simply a declaration of what David knew to be true.  So, if you have your Bible or app along you might want to turn there and follow along.  Each version has its nuances so follow along in which ever version you prefer.  We’ll look at each verse this morning out of the NIV and the NLT and see if we too have discovered David’s safe place.

Psalm 16 (NLT)

David begins,(1)   Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.”   You and I know that God is a person not a place.  So clearly David isn’t suggesting otherwise here?  Yet repeatedly David has taken refuge in His God.  Psalm 7:1, “O LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me…” (NIV).   Psalm 11:1, “In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain” (Psalm 11:1 (NIV).  David’s confidence was clearly in the Lord, he rejected the idea that refuge was to be found elsewhere.

As I wrote that, I suddenly found myself thinking of the refugees out in Summerland that Sylvia and Renee mentioned a while ago.  If you remember, after escaping war-torn Syria, enduring horrendous living conditions, they sought refugee status in Canada.  And like winning the lottery they were granted visas and sponsored by caring Canadians.  Then they traveled to the other side of the earth, looking for a safe place to raise their family. Looking for a refuge.

And as they settled in Summerland it surely looked like safe refuge for them.  But then, as we have often seen as of late; when the vacancy rate of rental properties dips below 1%, and prices of those few remaining rentals increase with demand, these refugees had the house sold from under them.  At the point S&R asked us to pray for them, they had two months to move and it was causing great inner turmoil for them.

They thought they had found refuge in a house but it was sadly temporary.  Yet David clearly expressed much confidence in his Refuge, his safe place.  A confidence that seemed unmoved by circumstances.  David, “(2) …said to the LORD, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.”   David’s Refuge was found in the same place that S&R asked us to pray for those refugees.  In fact, God was the source of everything good in David’s life.  Can we pray for better refuge than that for them?

In verse 3 David thanks God for that which God has blessed him with.  (3) The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!”

The Godly ones!  Did you notice that?  Psalm 84:10 says, A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked” (NLT)

The day I began to write this message Rika went home to her Refuge.  She had lived a long and sometimes difficult life but in the end, there was no doubt how godly she had grown.  Like some versions of your bibles, the word godly and saint were interchangeable.  Rika was a delight to be around even though she was feisty at 97, there was no doubt that Jesus was her Refuge!

David delighted in the saints because of Who their refuge was.  He didn’t worship them, but he sure admired them.  Called them heroes!  They were the people he enjoyed being around the most.

I hear sad things at times out of the mouths of people who call themselves Christians.  Like when they say they prefer the company of the ungodly.  In fact, they’d rather be out with the ungodly than be with the godly at church.   I just shake my head.

How is that possible I wonder?  How is it that a professing Christian finds more in common with the people who find nothing in common with the one whom they profess to be their Refuge?  What does this really say?  Are they truly whom they claim to be?  Or have they never actually met those “godly people” …David’s “true heroes”?

Seriously if you would rather keep the company of the ungodly that says more about you than you think.  I know you will likely come back with “but Jesus hung around with “tax collectors and sinners”, “prostitutes” and shady characters”.  “And He was God in the flesh. If it was good enough for Him it is good enough for me”

But really?  Did he hang out and party, cursing and carrying on like them?  Enjoying what they enjoyed and doing what they did?  Worshipping what they worshipped?   And did those people carry on doing the ungodly things they had always done once they had been with Jesus for a time?    His record is spotless how about yours?

Delitzsch writes, “The expression of his abhorrence attains its climax: even their names… he shuns taking upon his lips” (1:224: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.)

David said, Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods” (Psalm 16:4 (NLT).   Basically, he said, “I’m not with them, I’m with the godly ones.” He taken a stand.  Which doesn’t mean he thought he was perfect like you and me!   Clearly there is a line that you and I ought not cross even as we try to bring the ungodly folks that come into our lives to further a relationship with our Lord.  But it does mean he’s all in.

 “LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine” Psalm 16:5 (NLT) David has things that are dear to him.  He’s not some ascetic monk living in the wilderness.  The truth is God has given that once shepherd boy a kingdom full of things that his heart desired.  Fancy clothes, horses and chariots and clubs and swords….  Gold and silver and precious stones, even land!   “The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!” (Psalm 16:6 (NLT).  He possesses much but it doesn’t possess him.  He doesn’t worry about leaving it to go and do what God is calling him to because he knows that God gave it to him and will keep what he needs for him.

How does he know this?  Well, David gives us a clue in verse 7.   “I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7 (NLT).  That’s a personal relationship with the almighty that David is getting at.  A relationship that he clearly cherishes.  His counselor is the creator of everything and he acknowledges his reliance on the God who guides.

I don’t know about you but I know I have times when my days are hectic and so full that time to think things through just doesn’t happen.  And Like David I have experienced those times when I finally go to sleep and sure enough in the middle of the night the answer suddenly comes.  I try to get up and write it down.  Or I’ll make a note beside my bed on the tablet.  Cause sure enough I’ll forget it by morning.

Now I can ask other Pastors, and talk with smart people, even Google answers when I need to know something but trusting God as your counsellor – is the safest place to go to and the safest to listen to.

David was that confident.  He was so confident in his safe place that he wrote, I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me”
Psalm 16:8 (NLT).   Put your confidence in man, and even the most loyal one will eventually fail you or not be there when you need him.  Trust in technology and you’ll find out quickly when the power fades how poor a safe place that is.  But when you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother, now you’re in your safe zone.   Now your confidence has a resting place.

I think David surprised himself with his declaration in verse 7 because in verse 8 he writes, “No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety”
Psalm 16:9 (NLT).   With God, right beside you, what have you to fear?  Yet I find, as I wander at times, that the assurance the David proclaims doesn’t hit home.  And in those times, I don’t sleep so well.  I may toss and turn all night long…ever been there?  David is doing more than instructing us and giving God praise in these verses.  These things he writes are for instructing his own heart, telling it what the truth is.  Not accepting the counsel of the wicked, or giving into fear and superstition. He reminds himself where His refuge is found and he instructs his heart to go to his Safe place when even death threatens to rob him of his peace.

He thanks God that,God will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave” Psalm 16:10 (NLT).     David didn’t want death to be the end of it all.  And now he knows that the best is yet to come! But at the time he wrote this do you think he understood the resurrection?

I’m aware that the Apostle Peter used these very verses in Acts 2:23-25 as he spoke of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, our Safe Place confirmed according to Paul.  Peter looking back confirms what David spoke in faith, looking ahead.

He was told by the prophet Nathaniel; the account is found in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, that David’s legacy would live on through his children.  But was it more than a spiritual resurrection as they call that?

Nathaniel said to him, “(12) When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, (euphemism for dying or death.  David did know that like his fathers he would die.)  Nathaniel goes on to say, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, (this would be a physical, blood line descendant) and I will establish his kingdom.  (And we know that Solomon, David’s son did carry on as King of Israel).  Nathaniel goes on to say, (13) “He shall build a house for My name,  (Still speaking of Solomon.   Solomon’s Temple is a historical, traceable fact of history…you can read all about it.  It happened as the prophet predicted.) Nathaniel predicted, “He shall build a house for My name,  and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever”. (David was told about a throne that will last longer than a man lives.  Forever. One of David’s descendants’, Jesus Christ, His Kingdom would last forever.   Jesus – the son of David, the Son of God whose body never saw decay nor did it stay in the ground!  Because on the tird day He rose from the dead in accordance to the scriptures.  Jesus would literally live forever! )   But wait for it…).     Nathaniel speaking for God goes on to say, (14)  “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, (15)  but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you”
2 Samuel 7:12-15 (NASB).   This king would suffer taking on the sins of the world, being corrected by man’s devices, beaten and hung on a cross to die, but unlike Saul who went to the grave, whose body did decay this son of David would continue to reign under God’s protection and refuge and history confirms this too.  But wait for it… Nathaniel then says, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever’2 Samuel 7:16 (NASB).  Jesus rose bodily from the dead, “did not see decay” ascended to the right hand of God, the place of absolute authority and reigns forever.

So when David said confidently, For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever (Psalm 16:10-11 (NLT).  If this was written after Nathaniel’s prophecy, David already understood that he was of the lineage of the coming Messiah and spoke of the joy of being in God’s presence with his son forever.   Is that cool or what!  No wonder he had such confidence!

Romans 8:10-11 says, “(10)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. (11)  The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:10-11 (NLT).

Make this your safe place and you can never be shaken!  Amen?

Psalm 6 – Remember – No Pain – No Gain? How Depressing!

“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” (Deuteronomy 32:7 (NIV).


I don’t know how many times I need to hear this lesson but seems that the Lord brings it up again and again.  Remember no pain, no gain!  Perhaps I’m hard of hearing or slow to learn but His Love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out on me.  So why is it that when pain comes I sometimes get so depressed?

And I’m not just talking about those days when I’m feeling lonely or blue.  You ever have those days? Those days come and go for everyone I’m told.  Nor am I talking about those times when I’m grieving the loss of someone close.  Everyone experiences a little depression when grief and loss comes.

No, I’m talking about those dark episodes that linger and seem like they will never end.  Those days where it seems Simon and Garfunkel take control of my thoughts with “hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again”, and even when I pray, seems all I hear are “sounds of silence”.  Have you ever been there?

Those times when like David says in this Psalm, I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (Psalm 6:6 (NIV).   It’s in those times that we especially need the Soul Care of Scripture and the skillful hand of our Lord Jesus Christ, the son of David, to bring us back to truth and emotional health like only He can do.

Now I have no idea where you are at as I’m writing this.  In fact, I don’t even know where I will be emotionally, on the day that this sermon is written for.  But the day I began writing was April 18th and I had been downstairs half the morning with God’s Kitchen talking with many people who were, without a doubt, in desperate need of the Soul Care that comes from hearing and understanding these very Scriptures.  From, “Remembering the days of old; considering the generations long past. Asking your father and … your elders, to explain to you” just how they coped with misery (Deuteronomy 32:7 (NIV).

In Psalm 6 David deals head on with those “sounds of silence” and the fears that he has gone past the point of no return with God’s patience.    I know it’s not a cheery feel good start for our Summer in the Psalms, Soul Care but sometimes life’s like that.  And you have to deal with it!  And in those times, knowing how David worked his way through the darkness may bring us the light we need to see that there are better days ahead.

So if you have your Bible’s along let’s go through Psalm 6.

Ok so my sound effects can use a little help.  But I hope you have caught that this is a Psalm of someone deeply in pain and clearly depressed because of it.   Yet David is also genuinely repentant, even sorrowful for what he owns as his fault for the situation he finds himself in.  In fact, he not only owns it he accepts that he had it coming because of his choices.   David is showing integrity.

“This Psalm is commonly known as the first of seven Penitential Psalms… (The other six are Psalms 32, 38, 51, 102:1-7, 130, 143)” (The Treasury of David.)  Each one expressing a genuine time of heartfelt repentance by one who has messed up perhaps Royally messed up again.  We’re not talking oopps I let the f-bomb slip past my lips.  Some of these Psalms were written after dark and major transgressions in the life of the Psalmist.

Take for instance Psalm 51, which was written after David had an affair with Bathsheba and then David ordered her husband to the front lines to be killed.  David did this to cover up his sin because Bathsheba became pregnant as the result of their affair.

Psalm 6 is harder to pin down as to what brought on the need for such sorrowful words.  Some scholars believe that David grew gravely ill and was near death when he cried out:

“O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath (Psalm 6:1 (NIV).

Stop for a moment and imagine. What might it look like for the Lord to disciple you in His anger or wrath?  Would it look like this?


The finger of God reaching down and suddenly you’re toast!  A pile of ashes with wafers of smoke.  Sometimes, I don’t think we quite understand the extent of the power of His wrath.  Trust me you do not want to get God angry.  But wrath isn’t the verb of the sentence.   Still, maybe your idea is more like this picture?


This kind of wrath…when your cup of inequity has reached its limit on high and your sins flow from heaven like burning sulphur, levelling everything in their wake.  A rebuke so strong that even a slight act of rebellion gets swallowed up because of the heinous nature of sin.

Lot’s wife was severely disciplined for looking where she ought not. And to this day the once fertile land of Sodom is uninhabitable.

“O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath (Psalm 6:1 (NIV).

God’s anger?  What would David have remembered, or learned from the elders about God’s anger?  He could have thought about the time when the ground open and swallowed 14000 rebellious people and everything they owned…

Numbers 16:31-35 tells us: (31)  … the ground under them split apart (32)  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. (33)  They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. (34)  At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!” (35)  And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense” (Numbers 16:31-35 (NIV).  I don’t suspect David had that event in his mind as he laid on his sick bed.

Maybe your imagination of verse 1 took you more in this picture’s direction? 

David would have heard from his father and been taught by the elders of that time when Miriam was so rebellious. How her rebellion angered the Lord who showed great restrain I might add.  After a strong rebuke from the Lord she suddenly was stricken with leprosy (cf. Numbers 12:3ff).    That sickness was indeed a discipline from the Lord! There was a clear cause and effect.  It was immediately evident to all who were there when it happened.  This wasn’t a sickness that came on over days, months or years.  The moment the Lord finished speaking she went from fair skinned to leprous.

I stress this because a lot of sickness is blamed on God that is clearly organic.   Even some types of depression.   A chemical imbalance can cause the mind to drift into darkness and despair.   The depression may not be spiritual in nature at all.  And if it is simply a chemical imbalance all the casting out of demons and prayers of repentance of sins will do for you is cause more despair and depression, even greater anxiety because God’s seemingly lack of compassion may even seem punitive.  Until the chemical imbalance is rectified, or God chooses to supernaturally rectify it, the darkness of despair will remain.  Good News! God has given some to be Doctors and Chemists and allowed mankind to find out about those chemical imbalances and God has given knowledge of treatments that can radically alleviate the chemical imbalances.  This too has been in answer to prayer! Yes even science can be an answer to prayer!

Which doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes God does rebuke and discipline people, physically, biologically, powerfully at times.  What we can learn from any of these wrathful passages is that when God is rebuking you in His anger or disciplining you in His wrath, you know it.  Miriam had no doubt Who caused her sudden case of leprosy.  It didn’t start as a speck and spread slowly, it came along with a verbal rebuke so the lesson was understood.

If David was sick, as some suggest, he certainly could look back to all he had learnt of God’s anger and wrath and begin to worry and fret that his current situation was about to go from bad to worse. David knew that he wouldn’t stand a chance if God disciplined him in anger or wrath.  So he cried out for mercy.

Remember, no pain no gain.  It wasn’t that David wanted to get away with the sin he was being disciplined for, he just didn’t want God to be angry or wrathful when he was being rebuking David.  And so, David begins this prayer appealing from the knowledge of Who God is, and the understanding of What God could do appealing to His compassion.

(2)  Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. (3)  My soul is in anguish.”

David was hurting deeply.  Physically hurting and in much pain, but also in great mental anguish.

Physical pain wears you down on all levels!  Because you can’t do things you used to do psychologically that may lead you to believe that you are worthless.  Mentally you struggle with those doubts and that self-worth and left unchecked that can spiral into depression.  So, let’s nip that at the bud, shall we?

No more pain!  Yup, that’s the answer, right?  Get rid of all pain.  If David hadn’t felt bones in agony he wouldn’t have had mental anguish and his life would be rosy, right?

Unfortunately, the avoidance of pain usually leads to other issues.  In fact, ask any addict what got them hooked, and if they know themselves at all, they will tell you the pain that lead to addiction.  So get rid of or somehow mask the pain, because pain is bad! Right?

Pain is actually something to thank God for.

leprosy caught

I know, you are likely thinking,  “What is this sicko pastor talking about. Pain is something to thank God for?”  Bear with me for a moment.

Many years ago, as I was beginning my journey with Christ, I read a book called, “The Gift Nobody Wants” by Phillip Yancy and Dr. Paul Brand.  They’ve since changed the title to “The Gift of Pain”.   I guess they wanted people to want to buy a book about something nobody wants.

Dr. Brand spent much of his career helping people with Leprosy.  And he came to the understanding that pain is actually a gift that helps us know when something is wrong or hurting so that we could actually do something about it.  Without pain one gets into much trouble, as Dr. Band learned from those with Leprosy.

In Moloka?i, Hawaii stands a grave to a Saint named Father Damien, one of only a few people in America to be officially Sainted by the Catholic Church.  Father Damien was a compassionate and caring priest who personally cared for the needs of those with Leprosy.  This at very great person risk back in those days I might add.

As you can see from the picture above the risk was genuine.  He eventually noticed, after pouring scalding hot water on himself and not even flinching, that he had contracted the disease and some time later he died from leprosy.

But unlike those with leprosy David was in agony, physical, mental and spiritual agony.  His pain kept him up day and night and the lack of sleep combined with that intense pain caused him great mental anguish.

Those who have suffered like that can tell you that at first you feel that this is temporary and will go away.  But when it doesn’t, it’s hard to keep up hope and not slip down that slippery slope.

Again, this wasn’t the pain of a sore foot throbbing that wakes you up once and while that David’s crying about.  David’s cry “how long Lord, how long?”, tells us that this had knocked him down near the point of death.   In fact he says exactly that in verse 5 as he calls out to God,  “No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” (Psalm 6:5 (NIV)

Again, David isn’t being a drama queen here.  And he doesn’t accuse God of being sadistic in delivering the discipline that David felt was just.

Instead David calls upon God’s mercy, Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 6:4 (NIV).

David reminded God of what He said about himself as His Glory passed in front of father Moses, “…God proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…” (Ex. 34:6-7).   David had remembered God’s unfailing love in the past.  He remembered what his father and the elders said about their God.  He knew the stories of deliverance as well as those of His wrath.

He knew that when they called upon God, even while in their rebellion, God not only disciplined them but He also delivered them.

David looked back to see what was ahead and he remembered God’s unfailing love.  And you can too!

Because Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday today and forever.  His promises are sure.  He is the faithful one so unchanging!  But if you sin…remember, “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…” (Ex. 34:7).  He loves you too much to let you continue to do those things that hurt you.  So, He’ll discipline you appropriately.

Solomon, wrote, (11)  My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, (12)  because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in”(Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV).

This pain had a purpose for David’s life.  And it is still fulfilling its purpose thousands of years later. But, Hebrews 12:11 says, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).   No pain, no gain!

BUT only sicko’s like the pain!  Emotional pain like physical pain maybe necessary and even a gift that can tell us when something is a skew in our relationship with God and or our fellow man.  So even there, no pain, no gain!  But too much pain is simply too much!

David cried out, (6)  I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (7)  My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes” (Psalm 6:6-7 (NIV).

David was human.  We all have our limits when it comes to pain.  Unless of course we’re leprous or too macho for our own good.  David cried mercy and our Heavenly Father knows when enough is enough.

As kids my older brothers and I liked to watch Stampede Wrestling on Saturdays.  And as brothers do we would occasionally wrestle as we watched.  We had a code word when we could stand it no more.  We would cry, “uncle”.   And most of the time the one with the upper hand would stop.  Not always, … but most of the time.  Sometimes it would be days before the sore muscles and bruises vanished especially when we refused, in our pride to cry, “uncle”.  Eventually I learned when enough was enough, at least while wrestling with my brothers.

David didn’t succumb to the temptation to curse God and die, or even crawl under a rock to die.  Instead, with all that was left in him, he cried out to God for mercy.

Now this Psalm could have ended with his cry.  It could have left us guessing what the outcome was.   But David himself tells us what happened next.  The battle briefly intensified for his mind and then it suddenly was over.

David said,(8) Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. (9)  The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.”

How did David know that the Lord heard his prayer?

I suspect it was the remembrance of past answers where God had delivered him that gave him confidence in this present darkness.  After all the God of his yesterday was still his God in the day of pain.

Like David, we too need to look back to how God was there for us to find hope for our future.  For the God of our past is present with us and will be with us for eternity.  He will never leave us nor forsake us, and we know He disciplines those he loves.

We see at the end of this Psalm that David suddenly had the strength to fight on and the confidence that the outcome would be victorious!

(10)  All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace” (Psalm 6:10 (NIV).   The God of his past gave David hope for his future, once more and again.  He had victory over the darkness.

As that great Hymn writer wrote, “The darkness will turn to the dawning and the dawning to noon day bright! And Christ’s great Kingdom will come on earth, the Kingdom of love and light.” (Lyrics: We’ve a story to tell to the Nations)

summer in the Psalms Soul Care

Come Find Grace in the Heart of Penticton

Are you looking for a loving community to be a part of?  Come find Grace in the Heart of Penticton!

We are a close knit community of Christ followers who are passionate about sharing the gospel in Word and deed.  We are a caring and compassionate people who live out the good news wherever God places us both in the marketplace and throughout the Okanagan.   We’re not a mega church in the traditional sense of that word though through our ministries we have helped thousands of people come to know and follow Jesus Christ around the globe.  Because of this we are known as the small church that could.    Continue reading

My Friend Walter Goerzen

Prelude  by Chad Goerzen on Piano.

“It is Well With My Soul” – Written and arranged by Chad Goerzen.   (Thanks to Graeme Duncan for the video clip he shot from a cell phone)


I had the privilege of being Walter’s pastor for the past 13 years and right up to the moment when his faith became sight.   To say that Walter was a close friend would certainly be an understatement!  He was a trusted mentor who’s heart and passion for Jesus Christ through sacred music not only changed my pallet but reshaped my understanding of music’s profound effect on us humans.  To say I’m going to miss having him around would also be a huge understatement.  So forgive me if I’m a little choked up at times today.  And know too that I give you full permission to do what best helps you to grieve the loss you feel …for that is what this day was created for.Continue reading

My Friend Rudy

Let’s pause for moment and pray.  Would you pray along with me the Lord’s Prayer?  I’m sure most of you know it but if not you can listen to your neighbor or read it from the wall.Rudy1

 “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Amen”

(Matt. 6:9-13 KJV).

My friend Rudy knew this prayer well and intellectually could recite it at will.  He likely learned it a very young age as many in his generation spoke it as a daily prayer in school.  Long gone are those days.  But Rudy, especially in these last years, as he prayed, you could tell it was no longer just words memorized in his youth but that he was growing in a relationship with the Father to whom he spoke.  Rudy was on a lifelong journey to get to know his heavenly Father.

At our weekly Bible studies Rudy occasionally brought forth questions that showed that he struggled on this journey.   He wasn’t afraid to admit it nor was he unwilling to raise a question when something didn’t sit quite right with him.  And we would go down side roads through the Word looking for the answers.

But there was one question, that was really bugging him, that finally came to a head last summer.  He often heard people talking about encountering God or hearing God’s voice and as he put it, he was pretty sure he hadn’t experienced God in these ways.  This bugged him so much that one night he and Laura came over and what he said to me nearly knocked me off my chair.  “Pastor I’m not sure that I have Jesus in my heart!”

How could this be I questioned?  How is it possible that a man who has dedicated thousands of hours to Gleaners, who led our church quite often in the hymns we sang, who has prayed the Lord’s Prayer and took communion among us, how is it possible for Rudy to feel as though the Lord was not with him?

I thought to myself, “Was he just baiting me?”  Or was he facing a crisis of faith?  There was no doubt in my mind that Rudy was a man of God!  Not a perfect saint but just the real deal.  And yet here he was asking me to lead him in the sinner’s prayer.

It was like he knew his name was called up yonder and so he needed some assurance and directions before answering the call.

I of course reminded him that the Bible says, “…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).   And we talked about how he had done that.  How he had been baptized and had gone to church for a long time now.  Certainly in the 13 plus years that I’ve known him, Rudy walked as a believer walks, again not sinlessly perfect just real.

For a trucker he had a pretty clean vocabulary.  In fact I couldn’t remember a time when I ever heard him swear.  He was genuinely interested in helping people come to faith in Christ and enjoyed his ministry with the Gracemen singing his heart out for Jesus.  His passion for Gleaners and for his church and his love for his family, especially his bride of more than 60 years showed he was committed to Christian ideals.

I can’t remember if he brought it up or I was just reminded later of what Jesus words in Matthew chapter 7, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

It seemed as though Rudy felt like he had missed something along the way and was in danger of missing heaven’s narrow gate on the journey home.   But I did remind Rudy of what the rest of what that passage says.



Yes Rudy struggled with the same things that every Christian struggles with.  The passions of the flesh, the pride of life, doing things that caused rifts in his earthly relationships but frankly I reminded him, that those very things that we call sin are exactly why Christ died on the cross for us. 

The Bible says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  … God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Rom. 5:8).  

I reminded Rudy that the Bible says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).     And I asked Rudy if he had repented of his sins and called upon the name of the Lord to be saved?  He said something to the effect of, “that’s exactly the point, he’s not sure that he has”.  And then he asked if I would help him do exactly that. 

So there in my living room, with his bride of more than 60 years by his side I led this man of God in the sinner’s prayer and I prayed and asked God to reveal to Rudy just how visibly active He has been in Rudy’s life. 

Folks sometimes we don’t recognise God’s still voice or experience the hand of providence in our lives the same way others do.   But I can say for sure that Rudy was a Christian long before he prayed that prayer in my living room.  As Jesus told us in that passage of Matthew that I read to you, you can recognize His disciples by His fruit in their lives.

Rudy3Now in our valley we harvest much fruit.  But I’ve noticed something that kind of startled me to begin with and still does bug me a bit.  When I’m out picking for my friend Graeme the fruit that goes into the bin must be without blemish and of the highest quality or he goes behind me and pulls it from the bin and chucks it on the ground.  “Those are culls”, he says. “Not fit for market.” 

But God isn’t like Graeme in that regard.  He doesn’t look for perfect specimens plucking only the finest fruit and tossing all the others aside as worthless.  ‘Cause if he did, not one of us would make that cut.  We’d all be culled. 

Like Rudy we all have fallen short of mark.  But my friend Rudy learned something that assured him he was chosen of God, holy and acceptable in God’s sight.  Rudy learned that God’s perfect Son enabled all who call upon His name to be chosen and kept by the Master as his very own.   

I suppose that’s why Rudy was as passionate about Gleaners as he was.  He recognized that together with thousands of volunteers he could be part of God’s plan to feed millions in Christ’s name.  Rudy found that God can use what man rejects for the glory of His Kingdom if only we are willing to be used. And he worked hard for Gleaners.  Much harder than a man his age ought to at times.  But he loved what he did and knew it was worthwhile.  Love and generosity, the giving of one’s time, for the glory of God and to help the needy, these are fruit of the Spirit, the real evidence of Christ within.  Even if others don’t see it.

The Bible says of Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isiah 53:3-6).

As Rudy’s health failed I think one thing that really bugged him a lot was not being able to serve the Lord as he once had.  He couldn’t sing, he couldn’t drive… in his eyes he was becoming useless to all around him. 

Rudy wanted to give God his all but he realized that the journey this side of heaven was coming to an end.  So he wrestled and fought the good fight as best he could not losing his faith but he sure was grappling with such great loss.  Looking back I can see he was grieving that loss much like we are grieving his loss today.

At times he got pretty down but then he was so blessed by how all his family came together and showed their love to him and support for he and Laura.  I remember one day, after a surprising visit by a family member, Rudy phoned me up from his hospital bed with in tears in his voice as he realized that God had done a mighty miracle for him, a real answer to prayers.  He was so excited about it that when I saw him two days later, he again cried and we prayed to his Heavenly Father and gave thanks for such a tender and timely mercy. 

It was so hard to watch my friend fade away losing over 50 pounds and unable to hardly speak.  But he and I knew this would not be the end of the story.   Jesus had already made that very clear to him through God’s Holy Word. 

Though we don’t understand the reasons God does what He does, we must accept by faith that God has a divine purpose beyond our understanding for all things.  And most of all, we must never forget that He knows the tears we have shed… for God himself put on flesh and walked amongst us. 

Jesus knows the grief in our hearts because He experienced it in ways we fail to comprehend.  He had friends and relatives who dearly enjoyed his company.  He had to look down from the cross at His mother who with tears streaming from her eyes gazed up upon her beloved Son as he was breathing His last.  Jesus knows those strong emotions, that we call grief, that often come in waves when someone we love is taken away.

We see this so clearly in the book of John 11th chapter.

There we find that a friend of Jesus, named Lazarus, had died and had been in the tomb four days by the time Jesus arrived. When Jesus found two disciples, the sisters of Lazarus, overwhelmed with grief and his reaction was not a stoic disconnected high priest. 

He tenderly reminded one of the sisters, “Your brother will rise again.”  And Martha “answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? 

“Yes, Lord,” she told him…” (John 11:23-25).

Martha understood that death is not the end.  And so she called her sister Mary and they walked to tomb of Lazarus with Jesus at their side.  The mourners were wailing and the sisters continued weeping, as they grieved the loss of their brother. 

As they got closer to the tomb, John 11:35 records the shortest verse in the Bible, just two words, “Jesus wept”

Did you know it’s only the shortest verse in our English translations?  In the original language there is no punctuation, the thought of that short sentence began with, “When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”    John was telling us that Jesus felt their pain, he knows what it means for us to lose a loved one.  For when:  “Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:33-36 (NIV).   They saw a man hurting just as they were.    

Jesus is the God of compassion.  His tears were genuine expressions of the sorrow he felt.  He entered into their sorrow and began to carry their burden.

And Jesus is moved by your sorrow today, He loves you even as He loved them! And He wants you to know His compassion for you.  He is walking with you through this deep loss you’re facing, and if you’ll let Him he’ll carry you when grief threatens to overwhelm you. 

Grief and loss are unavoidable in this life but understand this, Jesus has overcome this life and His Word declares Rudy has too. 


In the same book of the Bible, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going. (John 14:2-3).

Rudy knew the way, and now so do you.  I know it is Rudy’s desire to see every one of his family and friends reuniting at our Father’s house. And the way is clear.

The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Roman 10:9-10).

Rudy fought the fight of faith, battling with all the doubts and questions that each of us face, hurting deeply at times but through Jesus he won the victory!  This trucker truly found his way to his Father’s house and now what once grieved him has been swallowed up by inexpressible joy and peace. 

My Friend Steve


Lynda, Steve’s partner in Christ, along with Auntie Madge and Uncle Ken held a memorial service to celebrate Steve’s life.

The Memorial Service was held in Keremeos, Jan. 31, 2015 at Keremeos Community Church.
(click this link for the full audio of the service as posted on their site.) 


The service was filled with much praise for our Lord Jesus Christ.  And it truly was a celebration of Steve’s life in Christ. 

Order of Service

Pastor Dwayne  Trelenberg opened  the service and was followed immediately by Congregational Singing lead by Vera and Sylvia:

Then Pastor Blake Wagner gave a Brief Message:

Lorna Mugwe sang a beautiful song.  Copyright prevents us from posting it in full, but here is a snip of the clip:

Then Lynda choked back tears of love and shared with us Steve’s earthly journey:

Lynda was followed by Pastor Jason Weibe who recounted the final days of Steve’s earthly journey and the blessings he bestowed upon his children.

There was a special song by a fine young lad named Levi.  Again I would loved to have posted it here….

Auntie Madge came and shared both some of her memories and a special poem that was written for this day.

Others were invited forward and several did come even though Steve had only briefly been in this area.    His humour and gentle spirit warmed many hearts.  

 Little Rily, (4 years old)  even sang a song for Steve.   

Pastor Dwayne Trelenberg gave a brief message:


And after a closing song we were all invited to enjoy a luncheon and a piece of this cake!

2015-01-31 12.36.22


 In Jesus you’ll find the same assurance and hope that Steve had ‘til the day his faith became sight.

May God bless you on your journey to our Father’s house and grant you the oil of joy for this time of mourning.





Small Churches G.t.G.t.God too! Acts 18:7-17

Ah it’s that time of year again.  Time for us to reflect on what God has done through the ministries of Grace.  A time of thanksgiving and a time for prayerful planning for the coming year.  What is it that God would have us do in 2015?


One of the blessings of being a small church is that everyone has a role to play.  Unlike the mega church where only a small percentage are actually involved in ministry within the church, a small church welcomes you to join in and be a part of what Christ is doing and pretty well doesn’t take no for an answer.  Experience is optional…on the job training is unavoidable. 

Trusting in the Lord…absolute necessity!   But everyone is needed to fulfill what it is that God has wired them to do if the small church is going to remain a viable contributor to the greater community.

I confess, sometimes I’ve looked at our small church with eyes that see only that we cannot do what larger churches can…mostly because we don’t have the resources.  Pragmatically this is true but who said we are required to do what they do? 

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it is absolutely unbiblical and that’s only the start.  We can do as much as God would have us do so long as our focus remains on Him.  So it is unbiblical to say that because we are small in number we cannot do as God would have us do. 

Unless of course you want to talk about the twelve spies who Moses sent to check out the Promised Land.  The key word there is Promised Land.  Seems they also suffered from being overwhelmed by the task at times.  They saw the immense size of the people and ten of the spies concluded the job was too big for them!

Numbers chapter 13 records the details of their exploratory trip ending with these historic words.


 “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). {And everyone knows how big those guys are!  They stood over 7 feet tall some say as large as 9 feet.  So to say their problem was Giant! Is only stating the truth.  And those spies came and reported what they felt, }  We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:33).  

Scared by the size of the task and the opposition they may face they came back and told everyone who would listen that Israel was too small to do what God was calling them to do. 

And I confess that I too have looked at our vision and purpose through those same sort of eyes at times and felt overwhelmed. 

Determined to fix this problem I looked at the things that big churches can do and thought we should do the same things.  Kids clubs, Alpha, multiple small groups, outreach campaigns, soup kitchens, conferences, movie nights, anything the big guys did I thought we should try to do…clearly on a smaller scale. 

I call that sort of thinking, ‘fake it to you make it’ approach to growth!  But maybe I’m coming across with the attitude that small church is somehow wrong or broken. 

Jesus Christ said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome her” (Mt. 16:18). 



There is something incredibly important about that statement.  First, it’s His church.  Just like it was God’s Promised Land that those spies checked out.  God gave it to them.   Second, “Jesus promised to build it!”  And it sure seems that He has built an awful lot of small churches to me.  All over the world!

Grace is His church!  Jesus will build His church in the heart of Penticton with or without us.

In fact the Bible clearly says, “unless the Lord builds the house the labourers build in vain” (Psalm 127:1).


The truth is sometimes “numerical growth strategies” are done for vanity reasons.  And as we’ve seen in this city from several “quick growing churches” …what rose fast comes down even faster at times bringing much hurt and mistrust rather than glory to God.  

In my time alone in Penticton I’ve seen well more than 700 potential saints scattered when fast growing churches imploded.  Many of those people have never darken the doors of a church since. And if we thought it was hard before to help people to come to know and follow Jesus, you just try with some of those remnants… It’s heart breaking to say in the least. 

But as I’ve mentioned several times before,  having large numbers in church on Sunday is not an indication of growth potential nor even a healthy church.   And it is simply not the norm for Christ’s church.   Over 85% of Christ’s church is distributed as small churches throughout the world.   Churches from 3-350 people!  If you can believe the stats out there, over one Billion people choose to worship in small churches!  The majority of those churches are under 100 people strong, some say as high as 80% of them.  And it’s been that way from the very beginning of Christendom.

Apparently what I was trying so hard at times to fix is something that maybe wasn’t and isn’t broken?  Small Church is here to stay now and until the end of the age!  PTL!

{By the way the only thing I have against the big church is when they insist that small church is something to be fixed.   Otherwise it’s great being a part of a healthy big Church!   I’ve been there too!   The large scale professional style worship was awe inspiring! The many small groups that formed it were mostly wonderful.  Made you almost feel like you were a part of a small church… }


Perhaps it is time to realize and accept that Grace is as Christ planned and built it to be.  A small church in the heart of Penticton reaching out to our community and throughout the whole world in Jesus name and to give the glory to God.  We are growing in love with Jesus and for one another… Fulfilling the vision of being

“… a place where, 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”

Continuing  to do what our purpose states:

“We exist to help people know and follow Jesus Christ.”

Now that’s real church growth!

The video shows that working together, using the resources we have, has built unity and strong community at Grace.  And we’ve seen God use this to plant several churches, with thousands claiming to know and follow Christ with the help of Grace sponsored missions in Kenya.  As well as  hundreds who have downloaded the 4 spiritual laws and Getting to Know Jesus from our website.   And still thousands more who have used other resources from our Websites during 2014, presumably to grow and know and follow Jesus.

In Penticton  we’ve been able to feed the poor, counsel and mourn with those in need,  mentor youth, and even bless students heading for college.  Some of our seniors even help produce food (millions of meals), and quilts that bring the warmth of Christ.   While others of Grace are living out their faith volunteering throughout the community.

Through our live services, Sunday mornings,  our shut ins and those who can’t make it to church, join us and  “feel like they are a part” (online viewer).  Hundreds of others view part or all of our youtube and other online podcasts each week.

All this to the glory of God and His Kingdom and none for our own numerical growth or personal glory.   We simply put it out there to Give the Glory to God and hope to help people to know and follow Jesus. }


All the Glory goes to Him because frankly we are like grasshoppers when it comes to what only He can do!  We are but a small part of His incredibly large whole, called “The Church”!  And that is true regardless of whether you are a part of a mega church or where two or three are gathered in His name!  

So what is the main thing that Christ would want to instill for us as we look at the year ahead?  I may be wrong…you know I have been on more than one occasion but I think the main thing is still the main thing.  GtGtGod  Give the Glory to God in all that we do and keep trusting Him to direct our paths.   

This is what Christ told the church at Ephesus as preserved in the book of Revelations: “Do not forsake your first love” (cf. 2:4).  His name is Jesus.  “And keep doing what you did when you first loved Jesus (cf. 2:4).  If you do, you will keep growing even if there are less butts in chairs on Sunday mornings. 

Jesus said, “…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (Jn. 12:32).   For thus saith the Lord!  “I will build my church” (Mt. 16:18).  

And He invites those who call themselves a part of Grace in the heart of Penticton, to be co-labourers with Him as the chief builder.  Just as He has done throughout the world and down through the ages as we’ll see in our Bible lesson this morning. 

God who is the head of this church is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we are able to conceive and wants to do exactly that with us if only we would join with Him in what lays ahead.  Jesus bids us come, but grants us leave should we not choose to follow Him at this time or in this way.

 It has always been that way.  Last week we saw from our study in Acts that God took Paul down some lonely and even depressing roads at times.  When Paul saw the door close on sharing Christ in Athens, is was a difficult time for him.  So as he left that city, and went to Corinth where Paul resorted to the trade he had learned in order to make ends meet. 

He didn’t come on strong there like he had in Thessalonica and other places as we’ve seen in Acts.  According to the commentators Paul was weary of the road he was on.  The physical beatings from Philippi may have had a part in this but the outright rejection he faced in Athens seemed to have slowed down this super Apostle a bit.

He was slowed down…but not out!  Paul worked with his hands night and day shifts and still he spoke in the synagogue whenever he could. He reasoned with fellow Jews trying to persuade them that Jesus was the Christ that they were looking for as found in the Scriptures.  But even in that synagogue Paul ran into opposition that eventually caused him to take his leave.   So let’s pick up the narrative where we left off in verse Acts 18:7-17 (New International Version).

 “Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God.  Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.  One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 

So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.  While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court.  “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”  Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you.  But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law–settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.”  So he had them ejected from the court.  Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.” Acts 18:7-17 (NIV).


The Jews in that synagogue wanted to squash that little sect of a faith called “the Way” …Christianity as we know it today.  And they became like a big foot hovering over Paul with abusive behavior. 

But our God is so faithful, AMEN?  No sooner does Paul leave the synagogue full of unbelievers and he’s right back teaching people to know and follow Jesus big time.   What encouragement that must have been for this weary disciple of Christ.  And get this it was right next door!  Right next door to the synagogue!

Sometimes we can be very close to where God is at work and not even know it.  We can be doing the right things and saying the right words, which I can assure you Paul was doing in the synagogue, but even with much effort there was no growth.  The people were not ready to hear and respond to Christ through the gospel.  In fact they were getting belligerent about it. 


So Paul said, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6 (NIV).   It sounds like he was furious with them but really it was just a statement of fact as I explained last lesson.

So out one door and into the next for Paul.  And literally it was next door to the synagogue. 


This was the home of Titius a worshipper of God.  (Remember that title just means that he had not been circumcised.  Other than that he was following the ways of the Jews.  We know this because “Crispus, the synagogue ruler” could be found at his house.  And a synagogue ruler would likely not have been in the house of a gentile fellowshipping unless that man was a God fearer.  So Titius was a God fearer much like Lydia.   And this God fearer decided that Paul’s message deserved a place to be told. So the first church of Corinth was birthed in his living room right next door to the synagogue.  It was a small church but not without some influence because of those good people who entered therein. 

People like “Crispus, the synagogue ruler and his entire household” who when they heard Christ’s message from Paul “believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized” (7).   

Christ had once again built His church.  That little house church began to grow. People got saved, were baptized and grew to know and follow Jesus. 

You would think that would embolden or at least encourage the weary apostle wouldn’t you?   Yet those beatings and the rejection that came with them had left a mark.  I think that’s why Paul later teaches about the fiery darts of the enemy and the necessity of a shield of faith firmly in place (cf. Eph. 6:16). In our own strength we can only put up with so much before we shrink back. 


Jesus knew this was happening in Paul so: “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”(9-10).   It was very good news indeed!  So encouraging for Paul.  And not just the part of “no one is going to attack and harm you”.  Though I am sure that must have been a relief.    But the real encouragement for Paul must have been the fact that his Master cared enough to notice and chose to show Paul in a very tangible way just how much he cared. 

And then there were those words that every evangelist loves to hear.  “I have many people in this city” (10). 


Who has?   Who is it talking in verse 10?   Is it not the same person who said “I will build my church”?   Yes it was Jesus.  And Jesus had a job for Paul to do.  He was to “keep on speaking, do not be silent” that’s what Christ said. 

When we get weary, and trust me every Christian faces those times to some degree.  When we get weary our natural tendency is to take the path of least resistance.  Say nothing…do nothing.  

I’m sure you have been there too!  You’ve shared the gospel… been rejected… and after a while you just stop sharing the good news.  But Jesus wants us to lean on Him in those times and not withdraw or keep silent. 

Just as He told Paul, “I am with you”(10)  Jesus has told all of us the He is with us “even until the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).    And as far as I can tell we haven’t reached the end yet.  So we too can rest upon His promise. 


Does that mean that it will be smooth sailing until the sunsets? 

No just one look at what happens as Paul settles into teaching the Corinthians to follow everything that Christ commands ought to dispel that myth.


Luke tells us that Paul stayed an unusually long time for his normal pattern of missionary work.   He stayed for one and half years, teaching and preaching the good news from God’s Holy Word.  And then his boat hit some real stormy waters once again. 

The storm arose right next door!  I suspect they were getting pretty agitated as they saw more and more people coming and going through Titius’s doors.  And so the Jews unitedly attacked Paul and dragged him out to the bema seat.   That would be the designated chair that the proconsul sat upon in order to hear and decide matters of justice. 

Luke also gives us another one of those history hooks here so we know that this actually could be traced back in time.  He says, While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court” (Acts 18:12 (NIV).   The history books tell us that Gallio became proconsul on July 1, 51ad.  And he didn’t have that position long so we know it was between 51-52ad that these events took place.

So the Jews thinking that the Proconsul would side with a vocal group like theirs brought Paul before the court.

 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” Acts 18:13

 But before Paul could open his mouth in defense the case was summarily dismissed.  


Gallio decided that it was a matter of two different factions within the Jewish faith and therefore not a matter he needed to rule on.  And that actually set precedence. 

 Whereas in Athens the court said they would not accept what Paul had to say as something that was relevant to a known religion Gallio now basically legitimized Paul’s message and his followers under Roman law. 

This was a huge victory for the Christian sect of Judaism and an unbearable defeat for the Jews of the Corinthian Synagogue.   And as promised by Jesus, Paul was not harmed in the process.  Though someone else sure was!

See it down at the bottom of the screen?  Verse 17


Sometimes God uses a two by four to bring people to Himself.  Just look at Sosthenes the synagogue ruler.  He started a riot that dragged Paul to court expecting him to be ousted from Corinth, but after receiving a good beating, he too surrendered his life to Jesus.  How cool is that?  Not the beating!  The fact that Christ reconciled Sosthenes to Himself.  Sosthenes went from an enemy to friend and co-labourer with Paul.


The book of Corinthians finds him with Paul in Ephesus as he was writing that letter.  There we read, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,” 1 Corinthians 1:1 (NIV) He went from hatred of Paul to brother and probably Paul’s amanuensis.  Talk about true repentance, eh?

And the small church they started continued to grow, and that church went out from there and planted other small churches both in Corinth and beyond as they out grew their space.  And those too grew in the love of God…for a while that is.  The letters we call the book of Corinthians detail some of the ways they went sideways for a bit and clearly needed more correction from the Apostles teaching.   People everywhere need help to know and follow Jesus, it doesn’t come naturally.  

Growth is not simply about the number of butts in seats at church. In fact I would say that Christ is more interested in our personal inner growth than butts in seats.  Our character, our love for one another, our perseverance under trial, generosity and the fruit of the Spirit these are real measurements of church growth.  

So this year we will continue to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth labourers to build His church.  And in childlike expectancy we can wait to see how this will effect Grace in the Heart of Penticton. 

As we wait God says, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you…” (9-10) “Even ‘til the end of the age!” (Mt. 28:20).



Pastor Blake

My Friend Len

Have you noticed that some people have a more profound effect on your life than others?  My friend Len is one of those folks for me.  Just before we got to Grace 13 years ago Len and his wife Lillian had moved to Penticton.  And as the call came for us to Pastor Grace MB Church Len was one of the first to welcome us to the family with his usual greeting, “g..mornin”.    It didn’t matter what time of day it was, Len always said, “g..mornin”.  It was always a good morning for him.  Len is about 35 years my senior.  And as Lillian will outline for you we had little in common in our lives.  About two things really…Jesus and we both love to worship the Lord.  But over the years we found a lot more in common than we first thought.

They say that pastors need to keep a professional distance from their congregation.  A quick look in Google and you’ll see this philosophy clearly espoused.    Our friendships should be found outside of our current posting according to those who teach at seminary and Bible Colleges.  And there is some very good reasoning that goes long with that advice.

Yet somehow I can’t reconcile their advice with the promise that Jesus gave when “Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.”  And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:28-30).  I know this to be true because of Grace MB Church and the family I have found here.

Len quickly became a friend and dare I say more than a friend to me.  I think he kind of considered me one of his kids.  And to be honest over the years he became  a wonderful father figure in my life.   He is a straight shooter yet never harsh when something isn’t right.  He would always find a way to be positive when troubles were at hand.  Ask him how he was doing and he always used to answer, “never better”.   He’s a man of grace with tons of mercy mixed in.  

Len reminds me of the friend we have in Jesus.   So when he started to shows signs of aging it was like watching my father go through what each of us will one day face.  And that came with all the emotional issues that a parental love relationship carries.  I just couldn’t bear seeing him slow down, and wouldn’t accept what everyone knew was happening to him.  I finally realized this when I was at a conference in Edmonton and spoke to one of Len’s sons as though I was his brother talking about our father.  It was in that moment that I understood what the profs at college were getting at.

For a time I had to pull away emotionally because it was getting too hard to be Len’s pastor.  Yet I’m not built for metered love.  I’m a all in sort of guy.  My friend Len will always be my friend!  The relationships we form on this side of eternity were never meant to be temporary. Perhaps that makes me a poor pastor at times.

Yet for Len and I it’s been 13 great years of serving Jesus together in song and in the word.  I will miss those times sorrily in the time between now and eternity. I will cherish them and I am thankful that along the way we recorded some of those moments for days when I want to reminisce and remember that I have something to look forward to.  But as Len and I sang many times we have “so many million years that we can’t count them” to enjoy being in God’s presence singing to the Lord.


Some time ago Lillian blessed me with a booklet she had made detailing Leonard’s life.  She entitled it “The Last of  the Locusts”.  I asked her and Len’s permission to post it here and they gracefully granted it.   That was about five years ago and I’m finally getting around to it. …Such is a pastor’s life…hurry up and wait.
Sister Lillian is a fine writer and I suspect you’ll enjoy her sometimes humorist account.   I’ll be putting in some of the music clips that I’ve got along with pictures that  Lillian had collected for the booklet.   And I want to say to Len’s family members you are free to send me any that you would enjoy seeing in this collection.

LR001Gusts of brisk, wintry winds whistled around the eaves, sending showers of soft, feathery snowflakes swirling against the frosty window panes of the old hospital in the little northern town of Radway, Alberta. The date was March 31, 1928, and it was on this day that Leonard Sydney Rempel made his lusty debut into the world.

“He certainly does have a remarkable pair of lungs, “Dr. Holibisky said to the happy mother. “I’m sure he will become a fine singer someday.'”

Baby Lenny’s parents, Bill and Alice Rempel lived on a small parcel of land along the railroad tracks in the center of LR002-1Radway. They were a hardworking, dedicated couple who laboured faithfully to overcome the struggles of hardships of the depression that was mercilessly closing in around them. The era of the “Hungry 30’s” lay dangerously around the corner and they were already experiencing some difficulty in providing a comfortable living for their family of seven.

Mr. Rempel owned a team of dray horses and with his grain crusher and wood saw equipment did custom work around the neighborhood.

His thrifty, competent wife with all her talents of homemaking made sure her family was well cared for. She was an excellent cook and her exceptional skills at the sewing machine kept her youngsters clad in the best of clothing throughout the seasons,

When Lenny came into the Rempel household the older children were quite grown up. In fact, a couple were old enough to have been parents to him themselves. It was no secret that Lenny was the joy of his parent’s latter years, and in turn, his siblings as well, vied for a prominent place in his little heart.

LR002-2Coming four years, as he did, after the last child, Lenny immediately became the darling of the family; was cherished and adored by all. From the very beginning it was evident that Lenny was an infant of peace and smiles. His angelic personality shone forth the moment his impish, grey—green eyes with their dark, curling lashes recognized and responded to his constant stream of admirers. They loved his sunny disposition and were only too anxious to gratify his slightest desire.

When Lenny reached the age of three or four years it was mutually decided that it was time for him to receive his first haircut.

They sat him on a chair in the middle of the kitchen and began this much dreaded task. It was later confessed that it was almost with tears that they snipped off his nearly shoulder—length golden curls and watched them cascading to the floor.

But Lenny was most elated, for he realized that he now presented his true identity as a brother in the Rempel household, for the first time in his life.

LR003-1It was at the Mizeppha School at Radway that Lenny first eagerly entered classes. He advanced quickly as he diligently applied ” himself to his lessons. In addition to his interest in competition for highest marks, he was overjoyed with the company of his many classmates. With his friendly, fun-loving nature he soon became a school favorite. On several occasions his loyal playmates were even willing to stand up and receive Lenny’s punishment when the teacher caught on to the mischievous activity taking place behind his back.

However, this very pleasant era that had been Lenny’s whole life came sadly and suddenly to an end when he was taken out of school just after he had passed into the 6th grade.

The Rempel family was being transferred to a remote area in northern Alberta where Lenny‘s father and older brothers would have steady employment in a newly formed sawmill company.

In a very short time Lenny found himself in a totally new environment with the town of Radway and all that he had ever known, left far behind, forever.

Now, a small frame house beside a dusty highway, overlooking the placid expanse of beautiful Lawrence Lake had become his home, where he settled in with his parents and his brothers. As he ambled aimlessly around the cluttered mill yard the future loomed exceedingly bleak for young Lenny with no children his age living in the woods around him.

Often, Lenny’s thoughts returned to days gone by, before they had moved to this place. How he missed those special hours he had once enjoyed with his beloved father; his Dad, who in the past always had time to tuck his Lenny onto the seat beside him as he made his rounds crushing grain or cutting huge piles of stove wood throughout the neighborhood for his customers. But that had all changed, now that his father was shackled to the mammoth, noisy steam engine that powered the sprawling sawmill, until late into the night.


 Now, in the evening of the day, Lenny would wander down along the lake-shore, listening to the cry of the loons echoing across the waters. Perched atop a sawed—off tree stump, he realized how much he missed the friends he’d left behind in his childhood. Here, there was no school to attend, nor children living near-by with whom he could share all his youthful aspirations. Several men were hired to work at the mill but their families lived ‘ back home’, in faraway places.

Lenny’s older sisters had left home to pursue their own interests when the Rempels moved to Lawrence Lake; he missed all their fellowship and the hours of singing that had always filled their home.

Lenny’s brother Willie, was the sawyer of the saw mill operation, and his brother, Rod was also employed with the company. They loved their little brother, yet their worlds were far apart from the understanding and mental needs of young Lenny.

For some time he shared a cramped bedroom with his brothers, in the small house on the mill—site.  From his narrow cot in the corner of the room, Lenny often heard them in deep conversation as they played their endless games of cribbage during the long winter evenings. LR005-1To his ears came their boasting of arm wrestling victories, glowing highlights of house parties, the amusing antics of their inebriated fellow workers, their hushed discussions of girlfriends and their laughter at being referred to as ” those hot-blooded Rempel boys”, whatever that might have meant.

As Lenny drifted off to sleep night after night, his thoughts were in a jumble. It sounded like so much fun to be a grown-up, he reasoned. But for him that seemed to be a long way off.

The years dragged slowly along for young Lenny.  During the summer months he spent time riding his bicycle up and down the dusty highway that meandered past his home. All winter long he enjoyed sleighing or tobogganing down a steep hill where traffic had turned the snows to an icy runway. He was grateful for his little dog who was his constant companion. And he loved the horses that were used for skidding the logs up to the mill site. Whenever Lenny had a chance he would venture out to the barn where they were stabled and he spent many hours currying out their tangled manes and tails. It pleased him that they responded to his touch, as speaking softly, he patted their glossy sides and stroked their long, silky ears.

Occasionally, he was allowed to ride one of these spirited creatures in from the bush when the skidder had finished his work for the day.

Then, that very summer season Lenny’s youngest sister, Eva left her job in the city to come and visit her family.  With her, she brought along a small black guitar which she hoped she would learn how to play. Lenny was fascinated with the rhythmic tone of the guitar as the steel moved across the shining, strings.

At his request, his sister readily consented to allow him some time to practice on her guitar. Their mother had a lovely singing voice and had often been called upon to provide solos at weddings and funeral services. Now, sitting at her knee, Lenny slowly moved the steel bar across the stings of the guitar. When at last the proper tone was reached his mother would exclaim, “There Lenny, you’ve found the perfect chord!”

In an amazingly short time Lenny had memorized all the chord arrangements and very soon he was able to sing the songs his mother had taught him, with his own guitar accompaniment.

It has never been known as to whether Eva ever learned to play her guitar during her summer visit, but it is a fact that when she went back to the city that fall, she left empty handed. For a $5 dollar bill her guitar now belonged to brother Lenny.

With the mastering the art of learning to play the guitar and release his emotions in song; Lenny’s life was never in lacking in joy and fulfillment again. This was the beginning of a lifetime dream of his in music and Lenny has never been without a guitar of his own to this day.

In the usual natural course of time Lenny’s small, gangly frame was rapidly developing into a body of vigor, strength and brawn. His zeal for action and availability coupled with his comfortable success in working with horses caught the eye of the company boss.  Soon, he offered Lenny a job as skidder at the mill. This work entailed using one horse at a time to pull fallen logs from the bush to be decked conveniently for the sawyer who would then turn them into lumber. That Lenny was still not tall enough to heave those heavy harnesses onto the backs of the horses did not daunt his enthusiasm in the least. There was always someone at the barn who was willing to help him get his horse ready for the day’s work.

Lenny was twelve years old when he was put on the meager payroll of the R. Stelter Lumber Company and without his even realizing it his childhood was gone forever.

Life for Leonard Sydney Rempel became considerably more interesting now that he was a full-fledged employee of the lumber company. He soon adjusted to rising at an early hour every day to take his place on the job with all the other lumbermen. He loved working with the lively, spirited horses and he was in constant competition with the other skidders as to who could bring the most logs to the mill, by the end of the day.

When his hours of work were over for the day, during the hot months of summer Leonard and his friends would rush down for a refreshing swim in the cool, fresh waters of Lawrence Lake. Then, after a hearty supper they were more than ready for an evening of relaxation and recreation.

Though wages were very low in those days, it was reassuring for Leonard to have enough money in his pocket to enable him to take in the weekly western shows in the town of Athabasca. These were held in an upstairs room of the old Parker Building on the corner of Main. It was always very late when those old black and white films finally came to an end. But in spite of the hour, a stop at the Royal Cafe for a piping hot hamburger sandwich was a must, before facing the 30 mile drive back to camp. Then, after a few hours of rest, another long day on the job began, a routine that he took in his stride, with much enthusiasm.

LR007-1Leonard became an excellent ball player and was in demand at all the ballgames, around the country side, as their star player. His long arm rarely missed a whizzing fly ball, he was an accurate batter and he raced around the ball diamond with such speed that he scored many runs for his team.

It was a happy day for Leonard when he was able to buy his very own pony, a lively bay gelding named Tony.  He spent many hours in the saddle, presenting a dashing figure in his smart leather jacket and wide brimmed black Stetson with strings that dangled down on either side of his face.

It was this pony and his love for music that dominated Leonard’s life at this point in time. Leonard was becoming quite famous for his melodious singing voice, making him most popular at all the family house parties and local functions in the neighborhood.  As his teenage years lengthened his circle of companions widened, enabling him to enjoy a few brief romantic interludes, which not only helped him to pass the time of day but added greatly to his sense of self-esteem.

By now, Leonard had worked at the saw mill many years and he was a commendable asset to the company, being skillful in all aspects of the operation. His cheerful, sanguine disposition endeared him to all his fellow workers as he was always willing to lend a helping hand.

LR007-2Together with his father and brothers Leonard had part ownership in the family car. But without a doubt, Leonard managed to have more than his share of the automobile’s use. This was much to the dismay of his two brothers who were now married with wives of their own.

Very often they found they had to hire a neighbor’s vehicle, because theirs was nowhere to be found when they needed it.


It was the summer of 1946 that events began to come together that would reshape the destiny of Leonard Sydney Rempel forever.  And in a way that he least expected.  Lillian Mabel Olson emerged from the shadows of beyond like the dawning of a fresh, new day; a meeting that stirred Leonard’s heart in wonderment. Lillian was employed at a small country restaurant and that was many miles from his home in Smith, Alberta.  But Leonard had to admit that it was his curiosity and attraction to this tall, slim girl with intensely blue eyes that aroused his interest from the start.



Often, when day was done, he found himself turning his car westward, for no apparent reason, and before he could change his mind the old ramshackle hotel loomed up in sight. There, he knew Lillian would soon be finished with her duties for the day.

It amazed him that he was willing to drive all those long miles over dusty, gravel roads after he had already completed his strenuous day of labor at the sawmill. But once he sauntered across the lobby floor and caught one glimpse of Lillian‘s beaming face at the counter all his thoughts of fatigue quickly faded. It surprised him that it became more and more easy for him to fit this routine into his schedule.  And with every meeting he and Lillian also became more and more comfortable in each other’s presence.

With his winning smile and sunny disposition it took Leonard no time at all to persuade Lillian to respond to his gentlemanly advances. As they took long car rides out in the country he was instinctively aware of her pleasure and appreciation of his rich, mellow voice as he sung to her the current songs of the day. He was pleased to discover that she shared his love for horses and that riding had always been an important part of her life.

One day Lillian invited Leonard to meet her family who lived in a remote community several miles in the country. The Olson’s home was located on a beautifully landscaped farm that held much interest for Leonard. There was livestock, cattle of all breeds and several quiet horses that doubled for farm work or riding pleasure. In the barnyard below the hill a goodly number of hogs were raised for market and flocks of white Leghorn hens provided a fair income for the family.

Leonard found himself welcomed into the Olson household at once. Lillian’s father, C.B., a rangy Norske received him with such a direct admiration for his sawmill knowledge and maturity that Leonard was deeply impressed. The friendly warmth and hospitality of Mrs. Olson won his heart from the start. He enjoyed the attention of her two sisters and her younger brother Don, who idolized Leonard, followed him around like a puppy.

Much to Leonard’s joy there was always music at the Olson household. As soon as the scrumptious Sunday dinner things were laid away the musical instruments would appear on the scene. Mrs. Olson would take her place at the old upright piano, while sister Irene strapped on her 120 bass accordion. With Leonard and little brother Don strumming their guitars many hours of playing and singing was enjoyed by them and the remaining family audience.

LR009-1For Leonard, the days flew by joyfully as he made frequent trips up to the Olson residence in the Rempel family car. He and Lillian spent many happy hours taking horseback rides along the winding Athabasca River, playing games or simply enjoying each other’s company.

After several weeks of a sublimely wonderful courtship Leonard came to the conclusion that he had indeed truly found his heart’s desire. It was at the celebration of their first Christmas together that Leonard asked Lillian to be his wife. Their wedding date was set for June, of the following year.

How they looked forward to the day when they could begin their life together and enjoy the many years of wedded bliss upon which their hearts were now centered. In the meantime, Lillian decided to remain in the home of her parents as she enthusiastically accumulated linens and useful items for her future household.

But until then there still remained several months of winter ahead when the snowdrifts settled deeper and the country roads were impassable for vehicles. Therefore, the lovers saw very little of each other throughout the winter and the months dragged slowly along.

Occasionally Leonard braved freezing temperatures when he borrowed a saddle pony to ride the 10 mile trip out from the highway to visit his Lillian. He would be stiff with cold and his pony covered in frost by the time he arrived, but what a warm welcome he received by Lillian and her whole family when he finally rode into the yard.

LR010-1When spring, at last arrived, in all its glory Leonard was once again able to drive his car all the way out to the Olson residence, non-stop. He could hardly wait to spend time with Lillian again and finalize the plans for their wedding that was now only weeks away.

It is no wonder then that Leonard was considerably taken back, on this very special occasion to hear his beloved approach him with this somber message:

“Leonard, there is something I have to tell you and I want you to listen very closely. It may make a difference in whether or not you will still want to marry me. “I am a Christian, and I want to live my life by God’s rules. There may be some things that you won’t understand about me, that I will not go along with, such as the question of liquor in our home, gambling or loose morals, as some of our families are engaged in.

“I love you very much but Jesus comes first in my life. You must know this now, before the wedding, so that you will have time to change your mind if this is more than you expected. For me, if we get married it will be for the rest of our lives and there won’t be any turning back.”

Living God’s way? This was something to which Leonard had never given any serious thought, nor considered it necessary.  It was true that his mother was very religious, everybody knew that. She didn’t drink liquor, smoke, swear or listen to off-color jokes.  On Sundays she didn’t do a lick of work, but rather went her quiet way singing her favorite hymns of praise to the Lord.  This was her testimony, she told her family.

Leonard recalled how she dressed in her best clothing and when summer came she always wore her neat white shoes. That was how it was with older women, he reasoned.  It had always been just fine with him and it hadn’t ‘ cramped his style a bit!  But now, as he sat across from Lillian with her serious blue eyes fastened on his own, he realized that their whole future hung in the balance of this moment, and that she would accept nothing except an honest answer from him.

Taking her hands in his, he spoke words straight from his heart. “I‘m glad you told me this, Lillian,” he said. “I too, want our marriage to last for our lifetime. If what you have told me is true I’m sure it will only make our lives together so much better. Please have patience with me. I think everything will work out just fine.”


June 9, 1947 dawned a day of sunshine and promise for Leonard and Lillian. At the home of C.B. and Ruby Olson, family and friends gathered to celebrate their beautiful, quiet wedding, with Archdeacon Little, Athabasca, officiating.LR011-2

Married life for Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Rempel got off to a fine start. They settled into their little honeymoon home on the mill site among the scattered houses of Leonard’s parents and siblings, after a fabulous honeymoon of a week in the city of Edmonton. Leonard continued his job at the saw mill and Lillian was ecstatic in setting her very first little home in order.

On weekends they made frequent trips up to Otter Creek to visit Lillian’s family and no young couple has ever been happier. To Leonard, life was just getting better than ever and his heart was bursting with song.

Leonard had just passed his twentieth birthday when he became a father for the first time. With the arrival of that beautiful baby daughter life for him took on a whole new dimension and focus. And as the years increased in number, likewise did his family. By the time Leonard and Lillian celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary they had been blessed with not one, but two beautiful daughters and three precious sons as well.

LR012-1LR012-2During this point in time life was moving swiftly for the young Rempel family. Almost too fast for Leonard to keep up. He found that he often had to work seven days a week to keep ahead of expenses, but this he did, faithfully, without a word of complaint. In addition to the farm and livestock he had now acquired, he also operated a small sawmill of his own during the months of winter.

But life was not all work for Leonard as there was many fun-times tucked in between his hours of labour. There were the ball games to be played and horseshoe games to be won during the warm summer months and many pleasant hours of card games when their friends called in at the end of the day.

Leonard’s rich, vibrant voice and rhythmic guitar continued to gain popularity in the neighborhood. Before long he organized a musical band with other local musicians where they provided entertainment at all the social gatherings.

Leonard’s five children were musically inclined, as well. They cut their teeth listening to their Daddy belting out his lively, western tunes and they followed in his footsteps. They quickly memorized the words to the songs he sang and at a very early age they were all joining him, gathered at his knee, harmonizing to the current hits of the day.


In the year of 1964 Leonard left his farm and sawmill life behind and brought his family to the province of British Columbia, where he became an employee of the instant village of Granisle Copper. As copper ore was being mined on a large scale the future looked promising and Leonard soon moved up the ladder of success to achieve the position of shift boss with many workers under his supervision.

Because there was yet no high school at Granisle Leonard settled his family in the sleepy little town of Houston, B.C. in order that his now teenage children could continue their education.

These were busy years for Leonard… working five days a week at the Granisle mine which was fifty miles from Houston where the family lived. Weekends at home were always a boisterous experience for Leonard. Before his very eyes he beheld his offspring becoming young adults with hopes and dreams too numerous to fathom.

The visions of these eager, enthusiastic youngsters far exceeded anything their doting parents had ever imagined. In addition, to their pursuit of success in the secular field, to Leonard’s amazement, each and every one of the children became Christians, with several of them attending a renowned bible college in Saskatchewan.

There now reigned a new depth and spirit in the Rempel household. Leonard found his home overflowing with young Christian students who gathered to share their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to pray together and spend long hours singing hymns until late into the night.

With his love for music and song, Leonard readily learned all these new songs and often accompanied the younger set with his own voice and guitar. Occasionally, he even attended church services with the family as he became more and more aware of Christ’s love and purpose for his life.

It was the year of 1974 when Leonard made the decision to give his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. His life was never the same again as God continued to put a new song in his heart.

It is interesting to note that at this precise point in time the Granisle mine was forced to close due to the extreme drop in prices and demand for copper on the world market.

Leonard was concerned about his future as he realized that the source of security he had enjoyed for seventeen years was now a thing of the past.

However, without Leonard ever realizing it, at the time, God was in control and was about to reveal the plans he had for Leonard in the days ahead.

 After the closure of the Granisle copper mine Leonard found employment at the Decker Lake Lumber Company. For the first time in his life he worked shoulder to shoulder with Christian fellow workers whose faith in God was evident in their daily lives. This had a profound impact on Leonard as he graded the bush roads for the company. In a beautiful way he grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord as he began to really see Him at work in his own life.

In obedience to the word of Jesus Christ Leonard was baptized March, 1985, in the newly built First Mennonite Church at Burns Lake, B.C.

When Brother Leonard discovered the following song he declared that it had been written especially for him, revealing the wonderful way that the Lord has changed his life. He continues to thank Him daily for the redeemed life he now enjoys and for the hope of eternity with Christ.




As the years roll by, Leonard still considers the above song to be his testimony. With his gift of singing he has served the Lord in praise and worship in churches and bible study groups wherever he happens to be living.

After he retired from the work force he constantly gave of himself in helping others, whatever the task might have been. Much of his time was spent in helping ranchers tend their stock, repairing fences, making hay or doing field work. He was always available to provide transportation for the elderly, visit the ill or assisting his neighbor in moving his household possessions whenever it was necessary for him to relocate.

Now, in his late seventies Leonard is busier than ever, volunteering in the mission of providing food for the hungry at the “Okanagan Gleaners”, Oliver, B.C.  He arises with a new song in his heart each morning, as he ventures forth to join his Christian brothers and sisters, in answer to the call of God.  He is never happier than when he surrounded by his fellow men with whom he can share his love for Christ through song, as his testimony.

The following is a little song that he composed especially for the Gleaners which has become their theme song:LR015-1


 Roll out the barrels,

We’re working here and it’s fun.

We’ll feed the hungry,

Start with a million and one.

We’ll send God’s blessing,

With every meal we’ll prepare.

Now it’s time fill up the barrels,

With God’s love and prayer!

(To the tune of the old wartime song: “ROLL OUT THE BARREL!”)

 A long time has passed since Leonard Sydney Rempel was a cuddly curly-haired little brother in the Rempel family. Many people have touched his life in a very special way which has contributed to shaping him into the extraordinary person he is today. Throughout his lifetime his zest for living, love for music and the genuine interest he has for people has continued to expand and has followed him in his relationship with those God has chosen to walk with him along life’s highway. But it is without a doubt that it is the love of Christ and the abundance of His Spirit that had the most profound effect on the heart of Brother Leonard.

He is no longer concerned about the years that the locusts have eaten in his life. Leonard is confident in this, that the One who began a good in him will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.





~In the year of 2002 Leonard and Lillian celebrated their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. They live in the beautiful city of in the heart of the Okanagan valley,

Penticton, the land of fruits and flowers, where the sun is always shining and the skies are always blue!

 Lillian M. Rempel

Penticton, B.C. June, 2005



~Ten years later Leonard and Lillian celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary.  They were joined by family and their many friends at Grace.  It was a joyful occasion and a celebration of how God had truly given Len the years that the locus had eaten. You can click on the image below to find out more about that remarkable event.

In 2014 Leonard had to slow down a bit more.  He now lives in a wonderful care facility with his bride of 67 years, who patiently and lovingly cares for him.  Their eyes still twinkle when they see each other from across the room.  Though in their late eighties, they continue to enjoy special times with their family and friends singing around the table.  

Dianne – Saturation of Assurance

As I thought and prayed about what to say on this day many emotions overwhelmed me.  I was of course very sad…even mad for while…that Dianne was so quickly taken from  Tony and  his family.  Dianne was a fine Christian lady.  Not a perfect one but an authentic Christian woman.  One who leaves a huge hole in many hearts.

Why did it have to happen the way that it did I questioned out load to the Lord?  I suspect many of you here today joined in that question too.

I’m afraid I didn’t come up with a single good reason to give you.  I have no amazing insight for the “why question” to offer you this morning.  I firmly believe that in time you will understand but for now I can say with certainty this question poses no relief, gives no comfort, and has no hope.  From what I knew of Dianne, I know she was not worried about that question as she took her final breath.  In fact she was so saturated with assurance that she was ready to go home the moment the call came from the Lord.

So where did she get such assurance from?

Perhaps it was from reading and knowing and trusting in God’s Holy Word?  I suspect that was a major factor for sure but her assurance was deeper than simply knowing words from a book.

Several verses flooded my thoughts as I drove home from Camrose on the Monday before this family gathering.  Words that usually bring me some assurance yet in that sad and madden state of mind I found little comfort in them throughout the day.  Through the night as I wrestled with god over their meaning I began to feel that peace that rises above the uncertainties of life.

Allow me a few minutes to share with you the verses that I grappled with and the understanding I received.  Perhaps they can begin to fill the assurance voids that your heart needs in this time of turmoil and grief.

The first verse that came to mind was this one from Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT).

“I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

It was a beautiful day with blue sky and white glistening snow as we drove home on Monday.  When we got to Field, BC, I gazed into the town where I saw this small church sticking out like a beacon.  So I immediately turned into town and went to find it and it was then that this scripture went through my mind and I saw the picture therein before I actually took it. “I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT).


Where does my help come from?

This was a Psalm of David that he wrote a little later in life.  He knew very well that help doesn’t come from stones or even beautiful scenery.   He learned that lesson as he wallowed at times in grief and despair.  He was a man that journeyed in the dark valley that you may find yourself in today but clearly David didn’t stay there for the rest of his days on earth.  Yet it was in those valleys that he became saturated in assurance.

One of those darker moments came when his infant son was as the Bible tells it, “sick unto death”.  David, the most powerful man in the kingdom, saw his son dying and dawned sack cloth and ashes and began fasting and praying that his son would live.  His heart was painfully burdened.  But when the news came that his son died something happened that caught David’s household by surprise.  David immediately got up and washed and went to eat.

“His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”  He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’  But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:21-23 (NIV)

David’s time in prayer and fasting had brought him to the point of saturation of assurance.  He knew that God could have healed his son and yet when that was not the outcome David reached the point of accepting God’s sovereignty,  not understanding it mind you…but accepting it.  He grieved and yet he was assured.  He knew that he could not bring his son back from the dead but was assured that this parting was temporary.  David said, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”(23).  Though the pain of separation was tremendous David’s assurance from God, that this was not the end, enabled him to carry on with his life and the purposes for it that laid ahead.

As I thought about that I struggled deep within with the “ya bits”.  You ever have those?  “ya buts?” Those nagging comparison questions that want to argue the obvious.   Mine, for this passage, was: “Ya but, David’s son was so young.  He hadn’t spent a lifetime with him as Tony, and the rest of you have with Dianne.  Surely it is not the same!  Your grief comes from more than 42 years of loving relationship with her, his from days.  Clearly your grief is so much more profound.  Can you possibly be over it in a day?   A week?  A month?  How long will it take?

I have an answer for that…it won’t satisfy your longing to feel normal again…the answer is:  As long as it takes.  And just when you think it is over…another wave of grief will come again and remind you, each one a little less intense than the previous.  You will never be completely over the loss of someone you love.  But you will in time accept it and live again.

Love so deep leaves holes so big,  I wouldn’t presume to tell you how long it should take to feel like getting on with life as “normal”.  Whatever that is. But know this  for David it seems shorter than it likely was.

I was also reminded of Mary and Martha’s journey.  They were friends of Jesus whose brother had gotten sick.  Theirs, like yours was a lifelong relationship shortened by sudden illness.

They sent word for Jesus to come at once to heal their dear brother for he too was “sick unto death”.  If Jesus didn’t come at once it would be too late.  The time was short indeed.  And before Jesus arrived, Lazarus died; his body was already in the tomb for four days.  The mourners had  gathered to weep and wail.  His sisters dawned the clothes of grief.  It was an emotionally distraught time.  And when Jesus got there, the Bible tells us that, he too wept.  His heart was overwhelmed for his friends, he knew their pain and the hopelessness that grief can bring.  But God had other plans in store for them for that day.

As Jesus was talking to Martha, “Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;  and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:23-26 (NIV)

Martha thought Jesus meant about the same as David meant when he said I will go to him he will not return to me”.  It had been four days in the tomb already!  One day…sometime in the future…there will be a resurrection.   Perhaps on that day Martha would be with Lazarus again.  Just like on that day David will be with his son again.

Dianne knew this passage well.  She knew what would come next for Martha and Mary.  Knew that Jesus would awaken the dead man and call him out of the grave.

We as Christians know that God can and sometimes still does raise people from the dead reuniting them, at least temporarily with their loved ones.  But you and I know that will not be the case with Dianne.  She is not coming back temporarily from the grave.  I do not want to provide you with false hope for today.  And even Jesus really didn’t mean for the temporary resurrection of Lazarus to be the promise that people cling to as they read through this passage of scripture.

Jesus wasn’t so interested in the temporary but rather He wanted to saturate us with assurance.  When He called Lazarus from the dead for Mary and Martha, it was to prove once and for all that He was sovereign…even over death.  He was and still is the resurrection and the life.

Jesus proved that physically, albeit temporarily, that day with Lazarus who of course died physically once again and like the rest of us had to await the full resurrection to come.  Yet in doing so Jesus showed us the marvelous truth that David clung to with his son.  There is indeed a resurrection from the dead, a real resurrection that awaits us who belong to Christ.  It wasn’t just hallow words that we have no proof of. Lazarus really, physically, rose from the dead that day.   And we shall rise again and so shall those whom we loved and who had fallen asleep in Christ be united with us.  It will be as real as it was for Mary, Martha and Lazarus the day he walked out of the tomb.

This I believe was the saturation of assurance that Dianne held to.  She knew that the parting would be painful for all who loved her but she also knew that the pain would be temporary because of what Jesus did.  Dianne knew it wasn’t just words on a page because she knew Jesus just like Mary and Martha knew him, as a loving friend and more so as her own Savior.

Dianne had such assurance that she told her family that she didn’t want to have a sad funeral service but rather that her ashes be scattered in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Her life proved her relationship and her faith in Christ has so saturated her with assurance that she saw no need for a funeral.

Dianne knew well the words that apostle Paul wrote, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 (NIV)

Dianne knew these words well but more than that she knew this same Jesus who would unite her with those whom she loved that had gone before her.  And she now awaits those who are temporarily separated from her as they complete what God has given them to do on earth.

That’s why Dianne didn’t want this day to be about the “grief of men with no hope”(13).  She knows that her family has this same eternal hope and knows that this same Jesus will saturate them with that assurance.

Those who have not this assurance feel finality in her death.  It is that hopeless feeling that they will never see her again.  Whereas, Tony, Chris and Joanne, Daniel and Nathan, and the rest of your family who know Jesus already have that same assurance.

So as you sit around the tables today and grieve please remember that this is truly temporary.  Though Dianne cannot come back to you, you will indeed be united again on the resurrection day.  Swap some stories of how you enjoyed your time with her.  Shed some tears, its ok, when we lose someone we love it’s bound to happen more than once.  We’ll miss them but we know that this parting is for a short time at least for those who are believers in Christ.  We have the same assurance that David, Martha and Mary, Lazarus and even Dianne shared.  So as the memories leak out, let the tears flow and know also that joy comes in the morning.

Remember too, that when your assurance reaches saturation Dianne would want you to continue to do whatever is was that brings you great joy in service Jesus.



Pastor Blake

virtual community

Is virtual Community Biblical?   A Pastoral Perspective    
Rev. Blake Wagner

1)    How God has lead this particular pastor to form virtual biblical communities.

2)    The growing need for online biblical communities

(video clip- shortened version)  

 Website Evangelism Videos  

3)    Some pragmatic implications of Grace’s live online community.

a)    Identifying the needs and seeking to meet them.

b)    Moving from concept to reality within major budget constraints.

4)    Functioning as a growing online community.

a)    Measuring usefulness both locally and online.

b)    Reaching beyond local community, seeing souls saved.

c)    Revitalizing and reenergizing the local community.

5)    Technical resources to foster live online community.

a)    Free and almost free software resources to help get you going.

i)     Bigbluebutton

ii)    Red5

iii)   Website and Bandwidth considerations.

b)    Example set up for low budget streaming.

   i)     Where to stream.

(1)  Youtube.com for non-profits.

(2)  Livestream.com

(3) TrustCasting.com

(4) Mediaserve.com

c) Broadcasting Equipment and Bandwidth Constraints.

(i) Computer, camera, and audio needs.

Broadcasting Equipment.   I recommend you use an i5-i7 3.0ghz or better,  quad core or better, Windows or Mac computer with a minimum of 8gb ram and 1 Terabyte hard drive.  A full-size desktop tower with expansion slots is preferred over  a notebook.  Yes you can go cheaper and slower on the CPU but the hassle isn’t worth it in the long run.

Two monitors help but one will do.  HD USB camera, 2 would be better.  IP Cameras are even better but may require more expensive software to integrate.  Old camcorders with firewire on tripods are what we use.  These take a separate interface that is also USB.  Each usb camera needs a separate USB bus card in the computer.

I should also mention, that you’ll need a separate computer for Propresenter or Powerpoint for the in house projection.  Encoding is cpu intensive so don’t bother trying to do it all on one computer.

The audio out from the in house mixer to the computer input is the source of the stream’s audio, and you want the highest possible quality there.  People will keep watching as long as they can hear clearly what is going on even if the lips are out of sync at times.

(ii) Internet Service Provider and web hosting.

You’ll need an Internet connection capable of sufficient upload bandwidth.  If you are sending a stream of 700Kbps you’ll want an internet connection of 2Mbps upload.  Use a wired Ethernet connection to the internet router rather than wireless.  And separate the in church WiFi from the wired Ethernet with a second router then move all other traffic to the second router so the stream remains solid.

d) Live Broadcasting Software

(1) Wirecast – (free and paid versions)
(2) Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder – (free)
(3) Procaster – and Mobile app.

e) CCLI Podcasting License and limitations.



 Each annual meeting we celebrate what the Lord has accomplished through Grace in the Heart of Penticton.  It’s been an amazing year!  More than 100,000 visitors have come through the doors at Grace.  Most through  our virtual church.  Our congregation has pretty well stayed the same size in Penticton.  About 100,000 people have stumbled across us on the internet thanks to Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines that directed them our way.  But we know it is not by simple chance or computer logic alone that people have found Grace in the Heart of Penticton.   God can even use technology to bring himself glory and touch people’s lives with His Grace.  All we need to do is be faithful and willing to try to bless others.   We have a unique church in that regard.  No 20% of the people doing 80% of the work.  We’re running about 100% -1 or 2 who are still learning to trust in Jesus and exercise their gifts.  (Actually we are all still learning in that regard.) But everyone is someone at Grace.  Someone with a unique witness that God is pleased to use to grow his Kingdom.    And grow it did this year!    We all grew to know – T.I.M.E.

My Annual Meeting address to the congregation begins here.


As I’ve said before,  our annual meetings are generally celebrations of what God has done through the previous year.  And this year has been no exception.  Against the odds God has seen us through another year and we came out in the black!  Ahead of budget! Is that amazing or what?  And it isn’t that we’ve just hung on as a church by the skin of our teeth…you know… kind of on life support …waiting to die.

To His glory, we have been blessed, to be used of Him to help lead souls to Christ.   And He didn’t stop there.  Each step T.I.M.E. got in the way.  God gave all of us the opportunity to experience T.I.M.E. …experience where True Intimacy Must Exist.  He focused our conversations and even our thoughts focused on growing deeper in love with Him and helped us to express that love through our relationships with others.

The video showed us some of those special occasions where we drew together to celebrate and grow in intimacy with one another.  Events like, 300 years plus of marriage!  Now there is a milestone of intimacy!    Care groups that actually care about one another!  And a new level of drawing closer through worship as our teams grew in greater intimacy with the object of our worship.  We had Awesome! T.I.M.E.!

Let’s not let go of that for 2014.  Let’s continue to draw closer to God and fellowship with His servants.

 T.I.M.E. for L.I.F.E. as we W.O.R.K.    B.E.G.I.N. to G.t.G.t.G.Slide2

Wow is that too many acronyms to remember?

What does T.I.M.E. stand for? True Intimacy Must Exist

8  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8 (NLT)

How about L.I.F.E.?  What did those initials stand for?   Loving Intentionally For Eternity

And who can remember W.O.R.K.?   Worship Our Real King

Ok keeners!  What do you think B.E.G.I.N. stands for?  You’ll see Next week!

Anyone care to guess G.t.G.t.G.?   

This year let us continue to draw closer to God and fellowship with His servants.

I believe as we do we will find that He draws closer to us and as He does miracles will continue to happen!  But even in this we must be mindful of Lucifer’s downfall, for pride can bring an individual down very quickly as we’ll see in today’s passage of Acts.  Let us learn the lesson that Herod didn’t so that we can continue to grow in T.I.M.E.B.E.G.I.N. to G.t.G.t.G.

Turn with me to Acts 12:19-25.

 19  After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. 20  He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply. 21  On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22  They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23  Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24  But the word of God continued to increase and spread. 25  When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.”  Acts 12:19-25 (NIV)


As you’ll remember from last time Peter had been miraculously delivered from jail and out of the grasp of King Herod who had in mind to publicly execute the leader of this new Jewish sect.  This King Herod, like his grand-father before him, was a ruthless dictator who would stop at nothing to get his own way.  When he saw that killing apostles and disciples gained him favour with the Sanhedrin he grabbed Peter and had him thrown in that jail with plenty of guards around him should those of the Way seek to free Peter by force.  But Herod wasn’t ready for the spiritual attack that God had in store for him.  God’s people were praying!  They were on the knees urgently petitioning the Lord of Lords.  And Peter was miraculously set free!

You and I have hardly begun to know the power of prayer!  We have witnessed it over this past year.  We have been blessed to see how our Kenyan outreach set aside massive amounts of time to pray and even how awesomely God has answered that prayer.

It seems to me for every hour that they earnestly prayed the greatest miracle ever… happened in someone’s life.  And when they had their Kasha’s and had 20-30 people praying all night, sure enough, hundreds of their brethren committed their lives to Christ in meetings throughout that weekend.

Now, don’t think I’m trying to give you some magical winning formula here.  It’s just an observation of one looking from the outside. Perhaps God would have saved all those folks without any prayer at all?  But prayer happened and it was followed by miracles happening in my observation.

GtGtG- Slide13 Sometimes I think we really don’t want to make those connections though.  We want to connect our human efforts at evangelism, whether it be door to door or crusade style events as the key to soul winning.  We like to put people like Reinhardt Bonke and Billy Graham up on a pedestal and treat them as “God’s gifted evangelists”, which they are by the way, but we associate the results of those massive meetings with the key individuals who led them.  Yet Reinhardt & Billy would tell you face to face, Give to God the Glory.  He did it through His people!  All they had to do is be faithful to their part and tell the people where to begin a relationship with God.  God does the hard part.  I confess these two guys are my heroes!  I love what they have accomplished for the Kingdom.

I have a theory as to why we make almost “super heroes” out of the soul winning itinerant evangelists.  But you may not like my conclusions.

I believe it is because we don’t really believe our prayers make a difference and so the average Christian in N. America prays less than five minutes a day.  The average Christian is so consumed by other things  that their prayer life is sadly lacking.   So we need those “super heroes” to come and lead the masses to Christ.

But you know how Reinhardt & Billy do it, right?  Again this is my observation.   I think it’s because they get a critical mass of believers praying for the event around the clock.  And in my observation the greater the mass of praying people the more results they see.


The fact that we don’t truly believe that our prayers do make a difference is nothing new.  Look at the household of Mary in the first part of Acts 12.  They had been praying and when the answer to their prayers stood at the door and knocked, they thought the servant girl was out of her mind or perhaps seeing an angel and wouldn’t let Peter in until he persisted in knocking.  But at least they were praying!  Praying long into the night!  And Luke associates their prayers with not only Peter’s release but the down fall of Herod Agrippa.  So pray, knowing that it makes a difference!  Then G.t.G.t.G. as you see the answers to your prayers.

The fallout the next day back at the jail was sad indeed!  Luke tells us that the guards went crazy trying to figure out what happened to Peter.  One minute he was there between two of their finest the next he’s gone never to be seen by them again.  They went crazy!  And for good reason too!

Verse 19 says, 19  Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death”.  Ruthless I tell you!  Blood thirsty and ruthless!

Those soldiers swore an allegiance to Herod Agrippa.  They placed their own lives in jeopardy daily just being occupying soldiers in a foreign land and Herod had the audacity to treat them as traitors for losing someone they could not have kept.   Clearly it was not their fault!  And yet it was.  For they had been given charge of the prisoner. There was no grace there.

Luke tells us that the cowardly King then withdrew to Caesarea.  Did you notice that?  Not wanting to take the heat from the Jewish Sanhedrin for having lost the prisoner, Herod himself left Jerusalem.   Some god he was, eh?   He had the power to kill his own soldiers but it seems he was afraid of the tongue lashing and ridicule that would have ensued over the bungled job.

Sometimes we may feel like, “what’s the use, evil is winning the war, there are more non-believers than ever”.  And who can blame us as we see fewer people in churches here in N. America?  In fact more people shop at Costco and Walmart on a Sunday mornings then go to church in all of Penticton.  So it may seem like we are losing the war.


But would it surprise you to find out that according to an article in Mission Frontiers  the ratio from Peter’s time of Christians to non-Christian was 360 non to 1 believer.  Whereas by 2010 that number had dropped to 7.3 non-believers to every 1 believer.  And at Mission Fest last year I heard that we are at 6.2 in 2013. God is winning the war!  And the battle at hand is in our favour.  But Satan would sure like to make you think he has the upper hand.  Rest assured that as you pray and do what God is calling you to the powers of darkness flee.

Evil is like that.  When the light shines the darkness flees.   Herod couldn’t stand being in Jerusalem having lost Peter.  But his evil plotting didn’t stop in Jerusalem!

Luke tell us Herod was angry with Tyre.  Tyre was another seaport city up the coast from Caesarea.   There is no historical evidence as to why Herod would have been angry with that city, just what Luke wrote here.  But I have a theory. Ok…so I almost always do…

Herod was like any bully who doesn’t get his way.   He just refocused his bullying elsewhere.  He couldn’t save face with the Jews by bullying the Christians so he took it out on Tyre.

Have you ever got in the path of a bully enraged?  It can be terrible!  He’ll strike out at anything without provocation.  I remember my nemesis in junior high.  I did about everything I could to avoid him but he was the school bully.  And one day when a teacher caught him bullying a student he ran off to the part of the sports field where I had chosen to avoid him.

I had managed to avoid him there for weeks! But now he was coming straight at me. And he was some mad, let me tell you!  He took off some boot laces and started whipping me with them.  I hadn’t even said a word to him.  Soon as I saw him I just knew he was trouble coming my way.  And I was between a fence with no gate and him.  The sting of the lace and his fists pounding on me made me want to seek peace at any price.

I knew this guy was into weed.  So I offered to get him some if he left me alone.  Instantly we were best friends!

The problem was I had no idea where to find pot for him.  I hadn’t ever tried the stuff.  Didn’t even know what it looked like.  But if I didn’t have some the next day at recess I better not show up to school.  Know what I mean.  Well the next day came way too soon.  And so I improvised.

Earl Grey tea if memory serves me right.

I gave him my stash.  He took one look at it and a big smile was on his face.  The bully had won the war, so he thought.  I was safe for the time being until a few days later when I got another real good beating from him.  Apparently when you smoke tea it makes you quite ill.  Who knew?  He had been sicker than a dog.  And he wanted his pound of flesh.

So ended my weed selling days.  After that failed attempt, and with the bruises to prove it, I went to the teacher and told him what happened.  When he stopped laughing he said don’t worry about my nemesis, it was his third strike and he was kicked out of the school permanently that very day.


Herod thought he was really something when the delegation from Sidon and Tyre came before him grovelling to make peace.   His ego was only slightly smaller than his crown.  Like most bullies he thought he was ultimately in control of those whom he bullied.  And when that day came he even dressed up in royal robes and sat upon his throne.  The crowds went wild with an ovation fit for the King of Kings.  This stroked Herod ego and he just loved the attention.   Loved it so much that when the crowd called him a god, he just lapped it up.

Luke wrote, “Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of Giving the Glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died” Acts 12:23 (NLT).

Bullies come in many forms in life and cause grief and distress to those whom they touch.  We hear about the bullies around the world that have imprisoned Christians for reaching out and caring for people. Some Christians are under daily threats from the local and state authorities while others are much more subtly bullied.

Financial bullies can cause you to tighten your belts another notch.  The big bully Cancer can threaten to shorten your life.  Overbearing managers or bosses can constantly badger you until you can stand it no more.  Even old age itself can seem like a bully who constantly limits your enjoyment in life.

Whatever bullies or battles you face in life, you can be sure of this, God sees them and He cares and will see you through them for His own Glory.

Yet know this too, when it comes to people, God even cares for the bullies but if they don’t soon change their ways they will eventually be expelled and their reign of terror will come to an abrupt end.

The thought of which, I am fully aware, doesn’t help in the midst of the battle you may find yourself in.  But the promise of which is assured and even born out in our passage today.   God allows bullies to help sort out who will Give to God the Glory.  And He never forgets His own!  If you are a bully learn from Herod before you become filled with fish bait.

Paul writes, 13  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God”  Romans 6:13 (NLT).

Through it all, aim to Give to God the Glory and you will not follow in the ways of the bully but rather gain freedom through Christ who will make you more than a conquerors.  Like Paul in Colossians 1:11.

11  We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, 12  thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”    

Luke ends this chapter with, “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers” Acts 12:24 (NLT).

The bully was neutralized and the church ended up stronger for having overcome through the adversity.   The word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.

That is what I hope to write again a year from now concerning Grace in the Heart of Penticton.


Pastor Blake

My friend Don Coull … going up!

It seems like people don’t care to think of nor be reminded of their mortality.

Yet we all know that one day our bodies like Don’s will fail and we will come to our last breath on this side of eternity.  As someone wisely said, “nobody gets out of life, physically alive”.  Perhaps that’s why Don wanted this time to focus more on eating, swapping stories and enjoying each other’s company.

One of Don’s favourite words as long as I’ve known him was “forgiveness“.  He had found true forgiveness and wanted everyone he knew to know about forgiveness before they leave this earthly existence, as there is so much joy to be found in it.

Don was of that mindset even though at times he got so depressed that he didn’t want to live anymore. I have known Don for about 10 years.  And all of that time I’ve known a man who was severely challenged by a body that was crippled up by pain and disease.  At times he was so hard to watch because all you could see was pain in motion.  So I can see why he might have been occasionally depressed and at times wanting to die.  He was a very broken man.

And yet Don still found ways to enjoy life.  He also found people that he was so very grateful for to enjoy life with.  I suppose that’s why he wanted you and me to have a laugh or two and enjoy one last good meal on him.

When I first met Don he had come into Grace with Lynda and I went to shake his hand.  I soon realised that the tradition strong grip was out of the question as he couldn’t lift his arm up high enough to do so.  Yet it was clear that he wanted to.

Touch is such an important part of our lives!  So I always made an effort anytime I met Don to greet him with a hardy handshake…while being careful not to inflict more pain into his life!

As we got to know each other we had several deep talks on spirituality.  Don like most people had seen it all and wasn’t afraid to let me know what he thought about religion.  But one evening while Lynda and Don were at our house we got into a discussion about the difference between being religious and being a Christian.

As we spoke we came away with two definitions.   First we saw that a religious person does things because of the possible consequences if they don’t do it.  And even when a religious person doesn’t do things…again it’s because of the possible consequences …you know…if they should be caught doing it.  You know what I mean?  It’s all about the consequences!  Typically the consequences had to do with going down to hell or up to heaven based solely on what you did here on earth.   How good or bad you are, forms the mindset of a “religious person”.   If you do enough good things you get on the up elevator.  Don’t do enough and it is the shaft that you step into as the door opens.  ‘cause you don’t need an elevator to go down.

Don figured out quickly that if good works out weighing the bad things he had done in his life were the determining factor it was “too late for him to go to heaven because he lived like hell at times”.   His words as I remember it.

So I said to him that’s why I’m not a religious person.  ‘Cause, like Don,  I had done more than enough to get the shaft.

He said something like, “ ya but you’re a Pastor you’ve made up for it, right?”  “How can you say you’re not religious!”

So I told him what the Bible says.  It says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).  And that “the wages of sin is always death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).  The Bible says that God put on flesh and walked with sinners like us, He knows that there is not one who has not sinned.  That means every one of us deserves the shaft, since the wages of sin is death!   And we’ve all sinned….well at least I know that I haven’t been perfect.  And Don wasn’t perfect either, how about you?

What’s more, the Bible says, “Salvation is by faith and not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:9).  So even if you were nearly perfect the shaft was still waiting.

I’ve only met one person in my life that called himself a Christian and said directly, to my face, that he had never sinned.  At which point I turned to his wife and asked her if she’d agreed with his assessment.  I think I started a bit of a family feud with that question!

The Bible says we deceive ourselves if we say we are without sin.   And both Don and I were not deceived in that area.  We were guilty as charged.

So I pointed out to Don that though the wages of sin is death the same verse says but the gift of God is eternal life ( Rom. 6:23 ).     You see Jesus, who is God, came in the flesh and paid the wages our sins demanded.  The Bible says, He died once for all sin, so that many people would be saved through Him. But there is a little catch.

Don got it that day…caught the up elevator to keep my analogy going.  You see when I asked him if he understood what I had just told him he responded with something like “I need the gift, right; how do I get that gift?”   He knew that if he had died without that gift he’d get the shaft.

The gift of forgiveness was the key.

Have you ever been to a building where the elevator takes a key to operate?   Our church has such an elevator.  Without a key you can get into the elevator but it doesn’t go anywhere.  You can push all the buttons religiously but that elevator will not budge!

With the key however, you can take the elevator to the top floor.  No key…no go!  Simple!  But how do you get the key?

Well sometimes you have to ask the greeter at the door for the key as you come into Grace.  Then you need to put it in the lock and turn it.  At which point the elevator is ready to go up.

When Don asked me “how do I get the gift” the principle is the same.  You must ask and then receive the gift but don’t stop there.  That elevator at Grace doesn’t do anywhere if you just turn the key, you have to push the button and keep pushing it until you reach your destination.  Likewise, after receiving God’s gift of Grace, you must put your faith into action to continue to receive the gifts God has for you.   The Bible says, “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:10).

Don said, “but who do I ask, and how do I receive?”   I love that question!    I said to him what I’ve told many people both before and since.  To receive “the gift of God …which is eternal life” you need to do as the Bible says, “…confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved”.

The Bible says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, (a fancy word for forgiven) and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved”.

And the Bible also says, “that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”

Everyone! Including Don who that evening across my kitchen table prayed and received the gift of God.  His sins were forgiven; and again according to the Bible he was on his way to heaven.  Today he knows that what he did in faith that night was beginning of his journey home.

Since then Don and I kept in touch sporadically but I was blessed to hear how he prayed for his children and friends that God would help them to forgive him and one another and accept God’s forgiveness too.  And he chose to forgive those people in his life who abandoned him when things got tough.  He wanted them to receive the key to the elevator and not the shaft!

That’s another difference between religious folk and Christians.  Religious folks take perverse joy in the downfall of those who do them wrong but those who have received this wonderful gift of grace realize that but by the Grace of God there go I down the shaft.

Even on His death bed, Don assured me he was ready to go home to Jesus; he just was waiting to go.

And so I can say to my friend Don “thanks for the party today, and I look forward to a bigger bash in heaven the next time I see you”.

“Although I do wonder if I’ll recognize you there my friend with a full head of hair and healthy limbs!  That new body of yours must be such a relief!”

Typically I would preach at you guys for the next ten minutes on how you need to be headed for where Don is and how he’d want you to receive the key to heaven’s elevator.  But that would involve talking about your death and it would sound way to much like a funeral.  So let Don’s journey speak to you instead.  He clearly knows the way.

Enjoy the party he has for you today and enjoy the people around you too. Life is way too short not to.


Whose Kingdom are you building up? Psalm 145:13-21

Though our world is fractured into about 196 sovereign countries really there are only 2 Kingdoms. The Kingdom of power and light and the Kingdom or dominion of darkness. Whose Kingdom are you building? 
King David once again clarifies this in Psalm 145:13-21. So lets read through that passage as we look for an answer to whose Kingdom we ought to be building.

1. Who is David addressing in verse Psalm 145:13 ?  Isa 9:7; Dan 2:44; Dan 7:14; Dan 7:27; 1 Tim 1:17; Rev. 11:15

2.  Will both Kingdoms continue perpetually?   1 Cor 15:21-28

3.  What does David mean by those who fall in Psalm 145:14? Are they literally stumbling?  See Genesis 3; Psalm 37:24; Psalm 94:18; Luke 22:31-32

4.  What does David mean by raises up?  From where does one need to rise?

5.  What characteristic does David say is evident in those whom God chooses to help?  Psalm 145:14; Psalm 38:6; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 146:8 ; Luke 13:11-13   What do these passage say about God’s character?

6.  Much is said in our world about over population and the lack of our ability to sustain such growth.  Which Kingdom is this an attitude of according to David?  Psalm 145:15; Psalm 104:21,27; Psalm 136:25  Is there a shortage of food in God’s Kingdom?

7.  How does God supply His Kingdom’s needs ?  Psalm 145:16; Psalm 147:8-9; Psalm 132:15; Mat 6:26; Luke 12:24; Acts 17:25   Does God’s Kingdom withhold food and the necessities of life from anyone?   Psalm 145:19 Matt 5:6; What about the other Kingdom?  To which Kingdom do you attribute the starvation in parts of the world? 1 Tim. 6:10; 1 John 2:16; Jer. 6:13;

8. What character traits does David give of God in Psalm 145:17?   Deut 32:4; Psalm 50:6; Psalm 89:14

9. How accessible  is God’s Kingdom?  How do we connect with the King?  Psalm 145:18; Psalm 34:17;Psalm 46:1; Deut 4:7; Isa 58:9; Jer 29:11-13; John 4:24; James 4:8; 1 John 3:20-22.  What about the other Kingdom? Psalm 10:3; 1 Kings 18:27-28; Matt 6:5-8; Isa 57:6-8; Isa 44:9-19; Hab 2:18; Psalm 135:15-17; Eze 20:32;  Rom 1:21-23

10.  Whose Kingdom would you want to be a part of?  God’s Kingdom []? Psalm 145:20 See Psalm 31:3; Psalm 37:28; Psalm 97: 10; Ex 20:6; John 10:27-29; Rom 8:29-30; James 2:5; Matt 6:33  

Or the Dominion of Darkness []? Psalm 1:6; Psalm 9:17; Matt 25:41; James 5:1-6; Gal 5:19-21

11. What should those who are a part of God’s Kingdom do according to David in Psalm 145:21?  Psalm 67:3-4; Psalm 86:9;  Psalm 117:1-2; Rev. 5:11-14.   What will those in the dominion of darkness be found doing? Phil 2:10-11; Rom 14:11; Isa 45:22; Rev. 5:13  Where will they be doing this? Luke 13:28; Matt 13:42; Psalm 112:10; Matt 8:12; Matt 25:30

12.  Given what you have just learned about the two Kingdom on earth which one would you like to build up?  What’s stopping you from doing so today.



10 proven ways to make your marriage last 50 – 66 years or more!

Who said marriage is dead?  Today we exuberantly celebrated the institution of marriage!

10 couples who have been a part of Grace celebrated more than 585 years worth of marriage in total.  What was their secret?  How can you do it to?  Listen to the two clips below and find out how each couple managed more than 50 years and their marriages are still going strong!

But today was double special because it was the 66th anniversary of one of those couples, Len & Lillian Rempel. The church was packed out! And what we heard was inspiring to say in the least!  Each of these couples was asked what their secret was for longevity in marriage.   With most spanning more than 60 years in marriage …the couple with the least years having had 51 years to draw on for their wisdom … what they had to say may just help save your marriage!  And it will encourage even those with the strongest marriages to keep up the good fight.

In this first clip,  Walter & Irene, 60 years, Len & Lil, 66 years, Frank & Ruby, 63 years, Ben & Helen, 60 years, and Menno & Frieda, 60 years, tell what they believe is their secret to a great and long lasting marriage.

Below is the low rez small bandwidth version. (32mb)

In this second clip,  John & Susan, 60 years, Rudy & Laura, 60 years, Barney & Sara, 53 years, Helmut & Katie, 51 years, and Bill & Betty, 52 years, tell what they believe is their secret to a great and long lasting marriage.

Below is the Rempel extended family singing the medley of old hymns they grew up on.

Below is Pastor Blake’s message entitled:  True Intimacy Must Exist for marriage to last this long!
Pastor Gail did a marvellous job in preserving a pictorial history and we’ll use her footage rather than the full video footage as the Wirecast machine hiccuped after the fifth couple began and it wasn’t noticed (sorry for those who were actually watching live). The audio was captured on our livestream.com server even after the video quit so with Pastor Gail’s pictures and Pastor Blake’s Powerpoints you’ll still get a feel for the marvellous day we experienced as we celebrated the faithfulness of God and the fellowship of those whom He knit together ’til death do they part!
(low bandwidth)


Below is Councillor- Garry Litke (soon to be Mayor-Penticton City) Bringing thanks for the fine example these couples are to our community.

Enjoy and be blessed!

My Friend Bill


Pastor Peter shares about his friend Bill.
William Chester Hutton.
“Whispering Bill”
Born May 18,1958 Home to Jesus on Sept. 4, 2012
Sadly missed.

I am in the place where God shines through

For He and I are one, not two.

He wants me were I am.

I need not fret, nor will, nor plan.

If I will be relaxed and free,

He’ll carry out His plan through me.

[jwplayer align”center” mediaid=”2002″]

Friends of Missions

On Sunday Sept. 30th Friends of Missions held their annual Golf Fundraiser. Tim & Bonnie, Arty and Carol put their hearts into making this an enjoyable day for all who came.  In this video Tim explains some of the antics that went into this “golfing” adventure.


We are so thankful for the generosity of all those who gave so much to make this an effective fundraiser.  Those who gave prizes as well as those who played and paid and then paid some more.  May God bless you all!

Gail took a few hundred pictures and then made this great video as a reminder of this awesome day.

See you for next year’s FOM fundraiser!

Theodore (Ted) Walter

WALTER, THEODORE (TED) ROBERT: September 20, 1928 – June 15, 2012 Ted went to be with his Lord; he passed away peacefully on June15, 2012. Ted is survived by his wife of 61 years, Arlene, by his four children, Michael (Lynn), Philip, Tony (Dianne) and Celena (Darryn) as well as by nine grandchildren, April (Todd), Cara, Christine (Scott), Jo-Ann (Scott), Daniel (Jess), Nathan, Ross, Chad and Shane, and by ten great grandchildren, Tricia-Lynn, James, Jordan, Zach, Emily, Nick, Beth, Anna-Dawn, Andrew and Owen. Ted will be buried at Peachland cemetery on the morning of Friday, June 22nd, 2012 followed by a Celebration Service at Grace Mennonite Church at 74 Penticton Avenue, in Penticton at 12:30 PM. Arrangements in care of Everden Rust Funeral Services

My Grandpa

You May have known him as principal, pastor or teacher; sea-going cowboy, potato farmer or carpenter; baritone singer in a men’s quartet, star baseball pitcher or captain of the basketball team; devoted Missionary, MCC Volunteer or Great Grandpa; friend, Uncle or Brother; Father-in-law, Dad or Husband…
but I knew him as Grandpa.

And no matter what we all called him, I’m sure we all would describe him in somewhat the same way… he was very kind, generous and one of the most gentle men you could ever meet. As Scott Young stated, “he was the pillar of this family.” He was strong and dependable, like one of those magnificint old trees that have faithfully beared much fruit over its many years. With roots that go down deep, so that it is not easily moved or shaken. Providing cool shade and shelter for many in times of unbearable weather or in need of rest. And offering nurishment and strength to any who looked poor or hungry, or took the time to wait for its harvest. Jeremiah 17:7-8 describes my Grandpa well…It says, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I would also describe Grandpa as patient and calm… unlesssss he was laughing at a joke…usually his own…because then you’d get to see the silly side come out & Grandpa LOVED to laugh and tell stories. My Dad told us of the time he had gotten caught skipping school AGAIN…while sneaking off to visit his beautiful girlfriend (my Mom). But Grandpa never lost his cool with him (…at least not in my mind). He calmly & quietly went outside and proceeded to remove all of the wheels off of Dad’s car & hide them!!

I imagine Grandpa was always on time for everything but never in a hurry. (Well Dad, that’s partially like you…never in a hurry)! He chose his words very carefully…to the point where you almost wanted to hurry him up & finish his sentences, but you KNEW his wisdom was worth the wait. Jo said it well, “Grandpa either spoke wit or wisdom.” My Grade 8, ex-army, Social Studies teacher didn’t have a chance of NOT becoming a pacifist that year after Grandpa’s teachings took root in me. Maybe that is why I asked Grandpa to stand up with me at 13 when I asked to be baptized. Or why most of us grandkids remember the farm as one of our favorite childhood memories.

I’ll never forget the time Grandma & Jo-Anne, Grandpa & Daniel, and Celena & I took the 3 canoes out across Gregoire Lake with plans to make it to the little island a few km out. Well,… Gregoire Lk was known for its sudden weather changes and our beautiful afternoon was soon changing into quite the storm. The wind and waves picked up and soon we could see Grandma and Grandpa’s canoes turning back. I later found out that Jo and Daniel never made it much past the beach, as Grandma and Grandpa kept paddling in circles. But because I had had some recent experience white water canoeing & considered myself somewhat of a “professional canoer,” and since Celena was crazy enough to believe that, we decided to forge on. We finally made it to the island, feeling very proud of ourselves & took our much needed break. Now I’m not sure if the weather had in fact gotten worse, or if I was just remembering all the cool stories dad use to tell us of his adventures out on this island & wanting some adventure of our own. But, either way, we decided we would camp there for the night…alone, with no shelter from the wild mosquitoes and huge black horseflys. But we had found LOTS of berries, so we would be just fine!! Right…? Well, you can imagine our disappointment when Grandpa showed up with a rented motor boat to rescue us and take us back to the farm. I couldn’t tell then, (no one could), but when I asked Grandpa a couple of weeks ago how he felt about having to rent that motor boat & pick us up, he admitted that he had been mad. I figure if him took him 25 years to tell me that, he couldn’t have been too mad.

Grandpa taught us to work hard, enjoy the outdoors, seek peace at all cost and love much. He and Grandma dedicated their lives to serving others and to ALWAYS put others needs before their own. They were an amazing team. Without Grandma’s encouragement and willingness to follow Grandpa to extreme places all around the globe, many lives would be very different today. Grandma’s gift of hospitality allowed Grandpa’s gift of “finding and befriending all those in need,” to work; and work well together. They truely exemplified the verse in Mark that says, “they are no longer two but one flesh.”

Grandpa’s faith in the LORD was not so much spoken about, that I remember, as it was lived. He doesn’t know it, but he gave me the most beautiful gift last Christmas… We had all come here to Grace Church for the Christmas Eve service; which seems to have become a family tradition for us…Christmas eve at Grace & then onto Scott & Jo’s for appy’s. Anyways, I went over and sat beside Grandpa, as I saw him sitting all alone. There was lots of special music that night and I kept thinking about those delicious appy’s waiting for me back at Jo’s. Then, someone got up with their guitar & prepared to lead us all in some old old hymns. Well you can imagine my excitement at this point. And then I heard it… It was like an angel singing in my ear. This tiny, frail, aging man beside me was effortlessly belting out with such passion and conviction, the words to “The Old Rugged Cross.” ~~~ I don’t remember if I ever got my appy’s that night, but I’ll never forget that sweet sweet voice. Mom describes her last visit with Grandpa in much the same way.

Before I knew that Grandpa’s health had started failing, I had begun a book study with a few friends and it was taking us on a journey through our past and having us record any key people and monumental events that have helped shape us up to this point. Well you can probably all guess by now who was one of the people at the top of my list. Grandpa was that constant, steady influence & rock that I now recognize God put in my life (and probably many of yours as well) to help us better understand and know who Jesus really is and how deep His love for us really goes. Because of this, my time reading scripture to Grandpa in the hospital a couple of weeks ago was without a doubt, a treasure worth far more to me than words could ever describe. Isn’t that just like God? He knew!! Here I was, reading to Grandpa, from the very same book upon which he taught me from for so many years. I guess we’ve come full circle hey Grandpa. I will miss you but I know Jesus must have been so excited to see you again!! Love you Grandpa. Xoxoxo Christine Harder

Getting to Know Jesus – A Ten Day Biblical Journey of Faith and Discovery

Getting to Know Jesus – a ten day biblical journey of faith and discovery.

Getting to Know Jesus is a ten day biblical journey of faith and discovery, it was developed by Brian Bird a now retired Anglican priest living in South Africa.

Our life today is dependant on relationships and what better relationship to develop and nurture, than one with God, our Creator. This booklet can be used to gain an insightful perspective on what this relationship means to us and also used by more mature Christians, to refocus our relationships and priorities.

We have Brian’s permission to publish this on the site to extend Christ’s Kingdom.  So we present it here for your use…… be Blessed!”

Loving Intentionally For Eternity – The Least of These

During our Busia Ministry we had occasion to visit End Times Ministries Orphanage and meet the director Pastor Peter as well as the entire staff.  It is a small beginning for this ministry with hope for the future.  Children whose parents have died of HIV or other causes can end up on the streets here in Kenya. Older children often find there way into the sex trade and younger children are sometimes exploited as well or simply left to fend for themselves.
End Times Ministries rescues children off the streets and brings them to this family environment providing food clothing and shelter.   This is one of three orphanages we will visit on this trip bringing food from Gleaners with Love Intentional For Eternity in mind.

Jesus said, “in as much as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me”.


Hilda Bendig – Home at 100

Our oldest member of Grace, whose 100th birthday we celebrated just two weeks ago,  went home to be with Jesus on Tuesday this week.  Her funeral and memorial service will be at Grace MB Church Saturday, March 10th, 2012  at 11am followed by a grave side committal at Lakeview Cemetery and a luncheon at the church.  You can read about Hilda’s L.I.F.E. below from her Profile page written by SKM.   The funeral was broadcast via internet and can be viewed below.

Feb. 26th @ Grace MB Church we celebrated with Hilda and her family 100 years of God’s faithfulness and blessings on her L.I.F.E.

Hilda – A Life of Amazing Grace


     Hilda’s dining room window overlooks the Retirement Centre, and the rugged old evergreen which stands unobtrusively to the north of its driveway. She loves to watch the comings and goings of that friendly, busy place. Occasionally her brother Gordon and his wife Isabel take her there for lunch after a Sunday church service. Hilda has good reason for feeling homey about that place: “When we first came to Penticton, we lived right where the Centre is now,” she said. “We owned the three-storey lodge that was there – Ettrick Lodge. My husband John planted that old fir tree . . .When he was in the hospital; I used to bring him home quite often. I’d push the wheelchair up the elevator, to this dining room window, and say, ‘Remember, John? Remember that tree you planted there?’”

     John died in 1993. People filled the church at his funeral, to pay tribute to this good natured, hard working, God-fearing man — 300 Bibles were donated in his memory.

               * * * * *

Grace came early and stayed!

     Hilda was born to godly parents, Severt and Minnie Halvorson, in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, on Feb. 29, 1912 — a Leap Year baby! Her parents were founding members of the Baptist church there. Early in life she accepted the LORD Jesus as her Saviour and was baptized. She enjoyed fellowship with her friends at church whenever possible; but in 1929, when a handsome young stranger showed up at the services, she knew he’d be special to her. John had left his native Germany and taken up residence in Shaunavon, hoping for a peaceful life in Canada. Hilda admired him greatly, especially when she saw how diligently he applied himself to learn the English language. It soon became evident that God was bringing the two of them together. They were married in Chilliwack, BC, on December 6, 1932. The Lord gave them two lovely daughters, and over 60 happy years together. Together they served the Lord faithfully, whatever came to hand — always with joy and grace.

     In Chilliwack they operated a mixed farm, and John worked on the railroad for a few years. Then, in 1942, after purchasing Ettrick Lodge, they moved to Penticton where they lived for about 14 years. It was quite something to feed a houseful of boarders, and keep their laundry clean. When the Penticton Airport was being built, the whole crew stayed at Ettrick Lodge for the duration. “I enjoyed it,” said Hilda, “Food was rationed then, so I did a lot of canning. It was a lot of work; but I could do it then because I was young.”

     Their family joined the nearby Baptist church in Penticton, located where Kentucky Chicken stands now. It was a vibrant little church, with a large Sunday School and Youth Group. Both Hilda and John helped teach children, and both of them sang in the choir. Their daughters were active with the youth; and Hilda, with the ladies’ fellowship group.

     Later, the family moved to Trout Creek, where Hilda’s aged mother came to live with them for a while. At this time they joined a group of believers who were forming an Associated Gospel Church, which later became GRACE Mennonite Brethren Church.


Grace that shows!


     Hilda is known in the church for her quiet faithfulness. She loves the old hymns, one of her favourites being What a Friend We Have in Jesus. “Sometimes I wake up at night, and these old hymns come to mind. I enjoyed everything we did in church. I’d be lost without the church. I think that’s my best advice to young people — stay in church. I thank the Lord for blessing me in so many ways! When I think back on things … Oh!!  I can’t help but thank the Lord for what He has done. Now I realize, God has been good to me!! Another thing — John and I had a wonderful married life! I’m not saying that to boast, or anything, but when I think of things now — when I put it all together, I think, ‘Well, I’ve got so much to be thankful for.’ I think He kept me out of a lot of trouble. I really think so! It was best for the Lord to have His way. If we let God have His way, that’s best! Then you can’t go wrong.”

     Hilda, having reached her 90th year, says,

 “Just give God all the glory!”


February 2002


© 2002 SKM