Word of Encouragement

My LOVE Letter to MCA

The Apostle Paul has always inspired me. From his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus, his daily defense of the gospel, torture, beatings, whippings, stoning and imprisonment; especially as I read his letters to the early church. What a servant of the Lord! In the same spirit of love and attention which Paul felt for those believers, I also want to write a letter to each of you, or more accurately ‘My Open Love Letter’ to the church at Malvern. It seems only right to begin, as Paul often did, with these words: “Dear MCA, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world”. True statement according to PAOC Missions Department.

My greatest joy in life, beyond salvation and family, has been serving MCA these past 25 years; 9 years in various staff positions, the last 16 by the grace of God as your Lead Pastor. I love you. Each and every one of you has made an impact in my life. If you would be so kind as to indulge me one more time, like all good PAOC Preachers, I want to share with you 4 parting thoughts. These have been guiding principles for me personally and will, I hope, be helpful for you in your continuing support of MCA leadership.

PASSION: By the time we’re teenagers, most of us know and understand the difference passion makes in anything we’re doing. Whether it is academics, sports, artistic endeavours, hobbies, or the target of our affections, we intuitively gravitate to that for which we have the most passion. We are energized with a surge in creativity and drive for those things we genuinely desire, versus those which are merely agenda-items checked off upon completion. Passion becomes our driving force, causing us to work longer and harder toward a shared vision. We can overcome fatigue, conquer selfish interests and ignore distractions, in our quest for something larger and more far-reaching. But be careful.

PURITY: Passion without Purity is nothing more than raw ambition. We know it when we see it and we usually don’t like it. It’s what drives overly ambitious people, in business and government, to levels where their character cannot sustain them. The landscape is littered with ruined reputations of once great people; sadly, they were driven by human desires and lusts with no foundation. Passion combined with Purity on the other hand, is an entirely different motivation. When your goals and ambitions are pure, everyone working along with you becomes a cheerleader; they want you to succeed because they themselves are not threatened. But be careful.

PERSISTENCE: Absent Persistence, nothing in life gets accomplished. Because anything worth doing, is worth doing completely and doing well. Most of us know that life is tough – a lot of people give up – too often on the very brink of success. But those who Persist – they are the ones who win the prize. A favourite verse in Hebrews 12 holds the key: “Let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. Persistence is a big part of faith – like a muscle that strengthens the more you use it. Professional athletes understand this; NFL players for example, practice 4-5 hours per day, 4 days each week, to be ready for a 1-hour game on the weekend. That’s roughly a 20 to 1 ratio. How much more then should we persist, or practice, to better equip ourselves for 24/7 lives of faith? But be careful.

Have you got PASSION? PURITY? PERSISTENCE? Good. Those qualities will be required as MCA charts a new course into the future with a new leader. But what is the spark that ignites these attributes and causes them to coalesce into an integrated driving force? POWER! And by Power, I’m talking about HOLY SPIRIT Power. It takes this precious gift of Divine providence from God Himself, through His perfect Son Jesus, to not only IGNITE, but also UNITE people of diverse cultures, races and backgrounds into a cohesive, dynamic, nurturing assembly of believers. People dedicated to furthering His message of love, peace and joy throughout a community, a city, a country and a planet. This must be your focus going forward. But be careful.

Why did I finish each paragraph with the warning “But be careful”? Here’s why: Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 2: 10-7 KJV says: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” Paul knew, just as you and I know, that there are many counterfeits bent on destroying the church. They come with “fine-sounding arguments” designed to lead astray those who are not fully committed to Christ and grounded in God’s Word. Imposters will show up, trying to divide and conquer, but you are not without defense – praise be to God! As Pentecostal Christians you have access to Holy Spirit, every minute, every hour, every day. Stay connected!

Remember this: when any element of Passion, Purity, Persistence or Power gets out of balance, the church suffers. When people fail to seek “the full riches of complete understanding” along with those “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” and are driven by Passion alone; if there’s ever a short-cut around prayer; if you drop fasting and seeking the Lord, things can go off the rails in a hurry. If Purity becomes a stand-alone goal, the church becomes cold and judgmental, unforgiving of newer, less mature believers. If Persistence is all you’re striving for, a cold and clinical environment can develop – one that is devoid of mercy and grace. Power in the wrong hands can be devastating. Check municipal records of empty buildings across Canada; former ‘Places of Worship’ that were once filled with saints seeking the Lord – until egos and attitudes took over. None of these outcomes is appropriate for a church that claims to be led by Holy Spirit, from which it derives its Power. On the other hand, all of these attributes, balanced and guided by Holy Spirit, make the local church a vibrant, welcoming beacon of light in the community.

Forty years ago, God placed MCA strategically at the corner of Neilson and Sheppard with the specific mandate to reach people in our beloved community. I feel so fortunate to have laboured along with you these past 25 years and I am grateful to God for the increase. But the job is far from finished. MCA’s greatest days are on the horizon, not in the rear-view mirror. So Power up; let your Passion, your Purity and your Persistence propel you forward under new leadership, with a fresh vision to reach every person in this magnificent community called Malvern, with the good news that Jesus loves them. This is why we’re here!

All my love,

PG

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