For those of you not on my mailing list, that might like to view a copy of my Christmas Newsletter, I have posted a copy below.
Dear Friend of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
O how I love the gospel! What joy to search the Scriptures and behold the sweet sufficiency of the work of Christ – dying and satisfying justice and my soul! May the truth revealed in the Scriptures continue to kindle our affections for the person of the Lord Jesus Christ – the offended holy and righteous Servant-King who willingly laid down His life for poor sinners like you and like me. As recipients of such amazing grace, it is our prayer and heart’s desire that the Lord might glorify Himself in and through us as we seek to advance the joy and faith of others through the teaching of the Word of God.
I always love it when I walk into a mall or business at this time of year and over the sound system hear words such as:
“Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled…”
“Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Glory to our risen King! As we approach the beginning of a new year on our calendar, we do so in great hope and anticipation for what our Lord has in store. He has prepared good works for us to walk in as His workmanship – given a new identity through his amazing gospel. Christ in us – the hope of glory – and our heart desire is to “incarnate” God in the face of Jesus through the Spirit to a needy world.
It has been a year of great blessing, twists and turns, trials and pain, great joy and amazing ongoing grace as we cling to Jesus our only hope both now and forever.
It is exciting to see God adding to the church, as people are beginning to catch the vision of making disciples and loving on others for Jesus’ sake. We entered the year 2012 with around 30 or so committed adults and a number of children. By January 2013 we had grown to around 70 adults and quite a number of children. As 2013 comes to a close we have around 100 adults and that ever growing population of children! The picture was taken at a local park where about one-third of our flock were able to attend. People meeting Jesus, being impressed with Him, and responding to His amazing grace with humble submission and obedience, is such a joy! We are praying as to our next step of either adding a second gathering for our Sunday mornings and/or planting another church here in Saskatchewan.
(Some of our church family)
We are so blessed to have Shelly Carver and Nairn Gillies interpret ASL for the Deaf who gather with us each Sunday. They both are truly a gift from God to the Deaf Community.
God Raising Up Leaders
We currently have six Gospel Community groups that gather throughout the week seeking to be Jesus’ church on mission. There is anywhere from 8 to 30 adults in these groups. As 2014 begins we hope to plant 2 more groups in two different areas of the city. We have formalized a plan to continue to identify and train up apprentice leaders.
In addition, Clay Bitner has officially been installed as our second elder. It has been my desire for some time to be functioning with a plurality of pastors. It is so exciting to see this begin to be a reality. Practically, Clay has been serving and shepherding and laying down his life for the church and the mission of Jesus for some time already. I really do believe that Jesus’ under- shepherds are recognized. They have a heart after God’s own heart and 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 tell us how we will recognize them.
If you have been to our website recently, you will have noticed that we now have the Sunday morning teaching on video. We are currently finishing up a series called “Palace Beautiful” – on the local church. We will wrap this up on Dec. 29 looking at the future of the church from Rev. 21-22. In January we are going to begin an unfolding journey through the letter to the Romans. We anticipate lives changed as a result – as God has used the truths in this book in mighty ways throughout history.
In addition to renting space in the Galaxy Theatre for our Sunday mornings, we are in negotiation to rent meeting space (1200 sq. ft.) that we can have access to 24-7. The total cost of this well located “upper room” (as it is on the second floor above another business) will be close to $1500/ month. This is an incredible deal, and well below the going rate in our city. The owner was very gracious because he heard we were a not-for- profit organization. He could be getting close to double that if he wanted. Even though it is a good deal, it will certainly push us budget-wise, but God has always provided and we have sought to be very cautious with our spending and God-given resources.
The Canadian Bible Society, now closing their doors in Saskatoon, was the previous lease holders of the space, and they have graciously donated all their furniture to us, which is a great blessing.
We have already been using the space thanks to the Canadian Bible Society and will continue to use it for leaders’ meetings, counseling, classes, training, music practice, prayer etc.
On Sept. 21, our middle son, Derek, was married to Manuela Kroeker. I posted this on facebook that morning: “Today is a beautiful day. My son is getting married, and Cheryl and I get our second wonderful daughter-in-law! Jesus is on His throne of grace and I feel showered upon today by His undeserved kindness.” Derek continues to serve Grace in leading worship in song on Sundays once or twice a month, and Manny serves in Grace Kids and brings joy to everyone she meets!
Just this past Tuesday while doing a fitness test at a gym, I experienced what they have now diagnosed as Transient Global Amnesia. It was a really weird experience, possibly brought on by the physical exertion, possibly cutting off blood flow to a portion of the brain that relates to memory – so I could not make new memories for around 4-4 1/2 hours. You can google it if you are really interested. The CT scan and other tests seemed to have eliminated any stroke or tumor causes. So I should be able to get on with regular activities. I have regained all of my memory with the exception of the above mentioned 4- 4 1/2 hours where I just have a few seconds here and there of hazy memory – one is a 2-3 second spot of Cheryl holding my hand and praying for me on the drive to RUH. That’s a good memory to hold on to!
When we were leaving the hospital, and Cheryl was paying for parking, the total almost sent me back into shock and needing to be checked back in … (there my humour is returning!)
So I am taking it a little slower than normal – Cheryl is making sure of that – and that is a full time job for her, as I am pretty much back to my ornery self. She went back to work on Thursday, but still checks up on me by phone. It sure is a wonderful gift from God to get to be married to your best friend.
We celebrated 9 baptisms this past year, including one fellow who is a former muslim. You might enjoy the 3 minute video that Clay put together of some of those baptisms.
To American supporters!
In the grace of God, one of our acts 29 churches in the States has agreed to support our church planting endeavors here in Saskatchewan. Should you like to receive tax receipts, support for us can be directed to:
River City Church 323 Main Ave Fargo, ND 58102
Make sure to designate the check for: Murray McLellan in Canada. We are thankful to Brett Moser and the saints of River City for this ongoing service to us.
A Big Thank You
On behalf of all of us in Grace Fellowship, I praise God for each of you who are partnering with us in seeing Christ-centered churches established in Saskatchewan and beyond. Your gifts and prayers are enabling us to minister here for the sake of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us and sent us with the mission of making disciples.
May you have a great Christmas in which you refresh yourself in the Good News message that God became one of us, to show us His love, to forgive us our sins through the perfect righteousness and finished work of Jesus, to put an end to religion, and to restore His kingdom and establish a world-wide family in relationship with Him. The curse has been lifted from us – and it was placed on God’s dear Son, so that His blessing – taken from Jesus – was placed on us, as we were adopted as God’s dear “sons”. Praise God, Jesus is risen and has now deservedly been given the name that is above every name! The redemptive work has been accomplished and is finished – resulting in peace with God! Simply amazing!
Keep running to Jesus to find your identity, refreshment, and strength.
Please keep us in your prayers. We are striving to be faithful. May the Lord be magnified!
By His grace and for His glory,
“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ…”