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Archive for 2016

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in a Japanese Prison During WWII

Book by Darlene Deibler Rose

The last words Russell Deibler would say to his young wife were, “Remember one thing, dear: God said He would never leave us nor forsake us.”drose

That was on Friday, March 13th, 1942, when Russell Deibler was taken from the cottage where he, his wife, Darlene, and their missionary team were under house arrest. Darlene didn’t even have time to say goodbye. She thrust a pillowcase of belongings into her husband’s hands, listened to his parting words and determined not to let the Japanese soldiers see her cry.

As the truck carrying Russell traveled out of sight, she remembered specific prayer from her childhood. “Lord,” she had prayed, “I’d go anywhere with You, no matter what the cost.” Now, as a grown woman facing an uncertain future, Darlene restated her prayer: “With greater understanding I confirm to You tonight, it is still anywhere—I leave the costing to You.”

“Anywhere” would cost unimaginable suffering. Over the next four years Darlene would endure first separation from her husband and then widowhood, the brutal conditions of a WWII Japanese internment camp including near-starvation, forced labor, deplorable conditions, false accusations of espionage, serious illness, months of solitary confinement, and torture. Through it all, Darlene was sustained by God, who never left her nor forsook her, just as He had promised.

How did God sustain Darlene through her long ordeal?

Through the Word—When the news came to Darlene’s prison camp that Russell had died, she was understandably devastated. That night, alone on her thin mat in the barracks, God came to her through Scripture: “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted . . . to comfort all that mourn . . . to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1-3). “Experientially,” Darlene said, “I was beginning to understand the comfort of the Holy Spirit. . . . The sword of sorrow had pierced deep within me, but He had bathed the sword in oil.” Over and over the Holy Spirit would bring to mind memorized Scripture at just the right time to sustain her.

Through encouragement from other believers—God blessed Darlene by providing other believers in her prison barracks. Every morning and evening, they read the Bible, sang hymns and prayed together.  Serving and encouraging others helped distract the women from their own suffering, and created a feeling of community in the barracks.

When Darlene was taken away for months of solitary confinement, she remembered the last charge one of the other missionaries gave her. “Lassie, whatever you do, be a good soldier for Jesus Christ.” That challenge became her prayer: “Let me be a good soldier for You.”

Through prayer—Darlene learned what it meant to pray without ceasing. During her months of solitary confinement and daily interrogations, Darlene had a conversational stream of requests and praise going up at all times. She asked God for strength to endure, thanked Him for her daily portion of runny oatmeal and maggots, asked Him to heal her body and begged Him to protect her friends. Darlene realized her own powerlessness and cast herself completely on God.
 
By taking every thought captive—Darlene had to learn the hard way of the danger of letting her imagination run wild. In solitary confinement, she drifted into what she called the “spiritually unprofitable game of suppose.”

Suppose the Japanese do win the war, what then? Suppose Mother and Father are gone. Suppose my brothers are fighting in this war. What if none of us ever return home?” After only a few minutes of this thinking, Darlene would be plunged into despair. But again, God brought Scripture to mind, “The Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe.” Darlene remembered that Jesus was her defense; she could hope in Him and be ultimately safe. She decided to take no thought of tomorrow, but to live gratefully and dependently in the moment.

Despite her fears, Darlene would indeed return home, marry again and return to the mission field. God never left her nor forsook her. Looking back over the years that had cost her so much, Darlene was grateful. She said, quoting Charles Spurgeon, “I can thank my God for every storm that has wrecked me on the Rock, Jesus Christ.”

Evidence Not Seen is the chronicle of God’s faithfulness in the life of Darlene Rose.  I will never Leave Thee is the audio version of her testimony, and I strongly urge you to investigate both. Hearing Mrs. Rose tell her story in her own voice seemed to me to be an even more powerful testimony than her book, which is outstanding.

Listen to the audio here: http://www.ccob.org/women/default.asp?pg=drose

Purchase the audio ($12 for CDs, $1.99 for MP3 download) here: http://www.christianbook.com/i-will-never-leave-thee-iii/darlene-rose/pd/5008888

Purchase the book new at CBD or Amazon ($11.00 new, as little as $2.00 used) or check it out through the Mid-Continent Public library system.

 

Review by Susan Verstraete

Posted in: Book Review, Women's Ministry

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There Is No “Me” in Marriage

By Julie Ganschow

Much of the counseling we do at our center has to do with marital problems. In one respect or another it comprises 50-75% of our counseling.

 

I doubt you will be surprised to learn that Christian marriages have just as many problems as non-Christian ones which is a shame. The good news for us is that we have the answers in God’s Word that unbelievers do not have, we have the resources for change that they don’t have and the ability to change they don’t have.

 

It is great news for us that the Bible addresses the specific causes of marriage problems. God’s Word also has much to say about marriage and how it is to be conducted. Because sin or a sinful response is the root of all problems in marriage we can find the causes and the solutions in the spiritual realm rather than in psychological methodology.

 

There are some really obvious reasons we get marital counseling cases, and there are other reasons people tend not to think of until we bring them to the forefront. For instance, could the problems stem from the reality that you really don’t know what is expected of you in marriage?

 

If a young couple doesn’t get good premarital counseling they are not going to know or understand the roles of the husband and wife in marriage. If they got saved after marriage they also won’t know what is expected of a godly husband or wife. By getting some good teaching and discipleship they will not only learn some new expectations but unlearn some old ones. If one or both people have not had good modeling at home they may not have a clue as to what is expected in a Christ-centered marriage. It is entirely possible in our culture that their only references for relationships are soap operas, MTV and bad movies. So the reasons may vary, but the end result is that husband and or wife may not know what is expected in marriage.

 

Do you know what is expected but don’t know how to do it? I have heard this many times in counseling. There is a breakdown in the transfer from understanding to action.

 

Because our country has emasculated our men, many of them have no idea how to be leaders of their families. Many young boys today are being raised by women so their only strong role models are women. They don’t know how to be men because no one ever taught them!

 

Another negative influence on our boys and men is that rap gangster culture so objectifying women and abusing them often also needs to be undone.

 

Overall, men are fearful of taking the headship role because they fear being accused by the feminists of holding women down. Sometimes it is because the man is just too lazy to learn how to lead.

A wife may have heard about submission and have no idea how to submit to her husband, even if he is a good leader. She may know about the external behaviors but not understand that it is a heart issue before it is a behavior. 

 

Is the cause that you do know what is expected but you are refusing to do what is right?

 

I wish that the usual reason for marital trouble was not knowing what is expected or how to do it, but unfortunately that is not the usual scenario. Often the cause of trouble in marriage is that one or the other knows what is expected of them but is refusing to do what is right. Willful disobedience to God and His commands for husbands and wives is a major problem in marriage.

 

Is the cause that you are struggling to overcome a sinful habit and you are not being successful?

 

Sometimes instruction in doing what is right is not enough and a person needs more intensive discipleship. It is very important to this process of change to understand that some people just need more time and attention than others. They may have the understanding of what to do, but not truly understand how to make it come to life. 

 

In my counseling and discipleship ministry I usually get the marriages that are in trouble. People don’t come when things are good. Typically, things have disintegrated to a point where one person may even be contemplating divorce. There are a plethora of reasons for marital discontent and I am trying to address a few of the common ones here.

 

In this “me” generation everyone is concerned with themselves. How can my needs be met? How can you please me? How can you serve me? Too many women go into marriage with the wrong believe that he is going to make them happy. When she realizes he is only human and a sinner just as she is and oh my word he is truly NOT concerned about meeting her needs all the time (because he is concerned about his needs being met) trouble brews quickly!

 

If this describes you, the first thing to understand right now is this: you are not obligated to receive but to provide for him. You are expected to be the giver of affection, grace, mercy, kindness, love, service, and everything else. The good news is that God requires the same thing of your husband toward you.

 

Your obligation in marriage is to provide for your spouse. A common complaint in difficult marriages is that he or she is not meeting my needs. What they are saying in part is he/she doesn’t spend time with me! Ladies, as gently as I know how I want to tell you that this is not a choice. Marriage is an act of live where you vow to meet each other’s legitimate needs for life.

 

We all have legitimate needs. We expect that when we marry that our spouse will love us and care for us and provide for us. We expect they will be our life-long mate and will be there when things are going wrong or we need help.

 

When you agree to marry someone, you are committing yourself to do these things for the rest of your life. This is not something to enter into for the supremely selfish. The problem for the marrieds we see is that maybe no one ever told them that! Each person goes into the marriage with an “it’s all about me” attitude and is unwilling to be the initiator in giving.

 

Contrary to popular belief, marriage is not a 50/50 relationship. It is a 100/100 relationship. Each of you has to be willing to give it all away. You have to give it all away and expect nothing in return. You do it because you agreed to in the beginning, and because doing it glorifies God.

 

Fundamental question: How can I glorify God and please Him?

 

You will glorify God by rightly pleasing your spouse. Sacrificial living for your spouse glorifies God. I have told women I counsel that to serve their husband (no matter how ungrateful and selfish he is) brings God glory. Both husband and wife are to look at serving each other as though they are serving Christ.

Julie Ganschow is the founder and Director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center (ACBC, IABC, AABC Certified Training Center) and Biblical Counseling for Women.

 

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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Taking Time to Think Through Tim Tebow

1 Timothy 4: 12 – Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

In my 40 some years as a sports fan, I have never heard, seen, or read as much, in such a short amount of time, as I have about Tim Tebow.  For those of you who may not know, Tim Tebow is a 2nd year quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) with the Denver Broncos.  I have been thinking through all that I have heard, seen, and read about this young man and I wanted to share a few insights that seem appropriate in this venue.

LOVE TO HATE HIM – It seems to me that a majority of those who have the floor, so to speak, hate Tim Tebow.  I have never heard sportscasters spew such vitriol towards such a seemingly harmless guy.  They hate it when he wins, they hate it when he loses, they hate it that he gets publicity, they hate it that he makes a difference because, “he is not that good,” and they hate it that his teammates and coaches think he is great!big-game-party-church-website-banner

And it is not only the sportscasters.  I recently read an article about Tebow that had 155 readers’ comments.  Out of those 155 comments, 10 were neutral, 20 were positive, and 125 or 80% were negative.  Many of them mocked Tebow personally and many mocked his faith.  This is only one sampling, but it seems that 8 out of 10 are not in favor of Tim.

Tebow’s response to all this; he is humble and gracious win or lose, he says he has a lot to learn about playing in the pros, and he gives the credit to the Lord, his teammates, and his coaches.  SO, what is the big deal and why should I care?  Here are three things to think about.

  1. HE IS FAVORED BY GOD – What if God really favors Tim Tebow? It wouldn’t be the first time that God favored someone. We read in Scripture how God favored Noah, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Jacob, Joseph, Ruth, David, Solomon, Mary, the apostles, etc…  Think about the battles won against overwhelming odds, the miracles performed for individuals and nations, and the blessings beyond belief or measure.  God definitely favors those He chooses to favor.

But, does God really favor anyone today?  Yes, look in the mirror!  If you were born and live in the USA you have been favored and blessed in many ways.  If you are a believer, you are favored by God in ways that are beyond belief, amazing, and are both present and future in nature.  From what I can tell, Tim Tebow has been favored by God, and I think that really, really irritates some people.

  1. HE SEEMS TO PRACTICE WHAT HE “PREACHES” – Some years back an NFL player was given publicity about his fine moral character, his Christianity, his example to his teammates and his city. The next week he was caught soliciting a prostitute while in a different city. His team lost the next game and he faded from the limelight.  For the past several years, Tebow has acted like he is Christian, both on and off the field.  He says he never asks God to win a game, only to do his best.

He does not use God as a “good luck charm” and would discourage anyone to do so.  Over and over again his life and what he says match up.  He is humble and gracious whether he wins or loses.  And he has had his share of winning.  While in college he quarterbacked two teams that won the national championships.  He won one Heisman award and came in second twice.  This year he took a team that was 1 – 4 and won 7 of the next 11 games on route to putting Denver in the playoffs.  They won their 1st playoff game in dramatic fashion and got crushed in the 2nd game.

When asked how he felt about the crushing loss to New England, he said that he likes to win more than lose, but that he learned a lot and he looked forward to getting better.  He thanked the Lord for the abilities he had, he talked about making the playoffs when no one thought they would, he said he would be working hard during the off-season, and he mentioned how happy he was to be on the team.

NO WONDER THEY HATE HIM, CAN HE REALLY BE THIS NICE???

Then he talked about how he visited a young football player who had been paralyzed and how they shared some time together before the game.  He shared how this young man told Tim that it the best day of his life because they shared time together!  Tebow then said that it was hard to be upset when you have made somebody’s best day of their life.

  1. WHAT WE CAN DO AS FELLOW BELIEVERS – I believe the Lord has each one of His children placed where He wants them. You and I have a responsibility as believers to glorify and honor God no matter what we do. (Colossian 3: 17, 23) God has a job for each of us to do and it just so happens that some jobs are higher profile than others.  Whether a doctor, lawyer, teacher, butcher, baker, or candle stick maker we all should do EVERYTHING to God’s glory!  Tim Tebow is an example for us to follow!

But beyond our personal responsibility to glorify God in everything we do, I believe we should pray for this young man of the Lord.  He is in a very, very high profile position and he has people attacking him, tempting him, and doing all they can to discredit him and Our Lord.  We should pray for him as he strives to be an example of what it is to be a child of God.  Praying for him does not take away from anyone else who is a true believer and it doesn’t mean that you are a Denver Broncos fan.  It is something small we can do as faithful servants to help another faithful servant.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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A Few Things Learned Through Trial

By Elizabeth New

A few things I’ve learned since my life changed unexpectedly two years ago…
• Trials in life force us to face countless tough decisions and realities. Though most trials are not easy or enjoyable, God can use them to refine us, as if removing impurities. Having experienced hardship of any kind makes you more sensitive to the needs of others.
• Suffering creates stark contrast between what is important and what is not.elizabeth-jimnew
• It is possible (and biblically commanded) to experience great heartbreak simultaneously with immeasurable joy. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3
• Frequently I have been humbled by the generosity, thoughtfulness, selflessness and support of innumerable people. I am so grateful my girls have witnessed friends offering to walk alongside us to share our journey. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
• Grief is intensely exhausting–emotionally, physically and mentally. The brain fog, memory lapses and time warp are very real. Be gentle and forgiving with people experiencing grief.
• Triggers for grief can be unpredictable, unwanted and unmanageable. Tears are an expression of love for someone you miss…unspent love that escapes from the corners of your eyes.
• Never underestimate the smallest kindnesses you can extend to others. It is appreciated by recipients and can be encouragement needed to get through that day. Love for and service to others requires sacrifice. “…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
• I am convinced that, as I walked through the darkest valleys, I was sustained by the Lord’s provision of strength, wisdom and comfort, and by the prayers of His saints. Even the days I did not “feel” the Lord’s presence, I knew the Bible’s promise that He would never leave or forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) And at the end of each of the worst days, I knew I always had something to hope for and to be thankful for. “…but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Psalms 147:11
• Life is beautifully fragile and precious. Choose carefully how and with whom you will spend your time. Regrets can be painful consequences of unwise decisions.

 

Elizabeth New is a widow and mother of three beautiful little girls. She is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling, Christian Living, Guest Writer

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Book Review: The Goodness of God, by Randy Alcorn

Review by Susan Verstraete

The Goodness of God, by Randy Alcorn, Multnomah, 2010ifgodisgood

“If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?”

According to a Barna Poll, that is the number one question that people in our culture would like to ask God. But in his book, The Goodness of God, Randy Alcorn asks us a different question. “What if the universe is not about human comfort and happiness?”

We all probably know someone in our Christian experience who has walked away from their faith as a result of suffering—either their own suffering, or the suffering of someone they love.  “But,” Alcorn writes, “that’s actually a good thing. Any faith that leaves us unprepared for suffering is a false faith and deserves to be abandoned.”

So, instead of walking away, or doubting silently while we pretend to have our “best life now,”  Alcorn encourages us to call on God. “God graciously invites our cries,” he says, “so long as we remain willing to listen to His response.”  Authentic faith in suffering begins in painful honesty before God.

Alcorn goes on to discuss the problems of evil and natural disaster. He explains how competing religious and philosophical systems fail to resolve the problem of evil, and finally, he show us what God has (and has not) revealed in the Bible about the suffering we endure in our own lives and observe in the lives of others. Throughout the book, Alcorn explains and illustrates difficult concepts with a simple, understandable style.

The book would be excellent to keep on hand for counseling situations, but may be best used as an individual or group study before it is needed, to prepare all of us for our own inevitable suffering.

The Goodness of God is 117 pages and is a good introduction to the topic more thoroughly covered in Alcorn’s 500 page book, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil.

 Both books are available from Amazon for about $10.00 each and through the Mid-Continent Library system.

 

Susan Verstraete is the church secretary at FCC.

Posted in: Book Review

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The Members of Your Body

By Julie Ganschow

And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:13 (NASB)  Offering the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness takes many forms. Something to keep in mind is anytime you indulge your flesh to the point of “addictions” you have become a slave to whatever you are worshiping.

For example, I used to worship the idea of being thin, and so I abused my body to make it that way. I thought I was in control of the situation, but I quickly learned that if I wanted to be thin I was going to have to play by the “thin rules.” Those rules included not eating or not eating much beyond diet soda and popcorn, not cooking, not making foods I knew others would enjoy because I would eat them too and that would violate the “thin rules.”  I thought I was exercising control over my life, and in actuality I became a voluntary slave to being thin. My days and activities were constantly dominated by “don’t.” Don’t eat this or that, don’t go here or there because they could have food. Don’t go out to lunch with your friends because you will eat. You can’t eat because then you won’t be thin!  This way of life took over my life. I had no freedom or control, because what I once controlled was now controlling me!

The person who wakes up on their face in the driveway one morning, all foggy brained from the drunk or high they went on the night before may not understand their slavery. The young woman who rushes to the bathroom many times a day to vomit up her food intake does not understand her slavery either. The young man who clicks on pornography in his bedroom in the dark, seeking harder and harder porn thinks he is only looking for the next thrill. The man or woman who takes the house payment to the casino for one last try at making it rich doesn’t understand what drives them, or that they are no longer having “fun” at this anymore.

Each of these people is real! They are your friends and neighbors, family or co-workers. Maybe one of them is you.  There is only One who can free you from such bondage. We bring His message of hope and truth to the hurting people surrounding us.  The reality about sin is, the Lord is not going to swoop in and take away all your sinful desires. It is going to take the hard work of a changed heart to bring about the changed life you so deeply desire.

At some point, you are going to have to be willing to knock whatever you worship off the altar. Knocking it down will be painful, I will warn you now. You cannot expect to claim it in Jesus’ Name and walk away healed and free; that is foolishness. You have built a system of belief and a system of worship around this thing and it colors and influences how you “do” life!

You must begin with prayerful determination that you will no longer be a slave to whatever has you bound (Romans 6). Enlist the help of those around you and make yourself accountable to them for change (Galatians 6:1-2). Learn where your pitfalls are, what sets you off, what makes you run to that old comfortable idol and then make a plan to run somewhere else – like into the throne room of the Almighty God (Hebrews 4:16). It is there that you will find grace to help you in your time of need.

There is a reason that Ephesians 4:22 tells us to throw off our old fleshy selves, our old desires, our old objects of worship; it is because they capture us and enslave us and they grow more and more powerful in our lives and they corrupt us further and further until we believe we are beyond hope.

Do not go back to the grave dear friends. You have been set free!

Julie Ganschow is the founder and Director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center (ACBC, IABC, AABC Certified Training Center) and Biblical Counseling for Women.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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The Culture War Around Us (Part 3)

By Alan Hutchins

As we continue in this series of articles concerning the Evolution vs. Creation debate, it becomes clear once again how important this issue is as Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson has been criticized and mocked in the news recently for believing in divine creation and not accepting that macroevolution is a proven scientific fact.  In fact, many on the other side of this debate seem amazed that a man of science would not believe in macroevolution, which they portray as proven scientific fact.  They actually seem willfully ignorant of the fact that there are scientists from every field of science who believe that the evidence in nature actually supports the account in Genesis and does not contradict it.

It is not surprising that people who believe in macroevolution would object to the premise that “science is not able to prove or disprove either side of the evolution vs. creation debate.”  This is because people often fail to realize the distinction between what might be called “operational” or “observational” science and what is “historical science.”  Even when discussing the issue with someone who is very knowledgeable on the issues at hand, they might still believe that macroevolution has been and can be scientifically proven.  They should know, however, the difference between proving something by using the scientific method of controlled and repeatable testing and that of observing the evidence of past events and making educated assumptions about the cause of that evidence.

Operational or Observational Science is the part of science that can be tested using the “scientific method” of controlled, repeatable and verifiable experiments that allow the scientist to “state, test and then accept or reject the hypothesis.”  This is sometimes also referred to as “hard science” because it allows one to make hard and fast conclusions through rigorous scientific testing.  This is much different than “historical science” where it is impossible to prove something scientifically because you are dealing with a historical event that had unknown variables and conditions that prevent the type of controlled and verifiable experiments needed to prove what happened scientifically.  This type of science is sometimes considered “soft science” because the results are based on the interpretation of historical evidence and not rigorously controlled and verifiable experiments.

As with any historical event, the presuppositions that one holds will likely strongly influence how they interpret the evidence after the fact.  This happens not only in the creation and evolution debate but was also evident during recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.  While many including the Grand Jury saw the evidence of a justifiable shooting, others looked at the same evidence and saw the murder of an innocent man.  The evidence was the same, yet the interpretation of that evidence was diametrically different.  This is why a Christian scientist can look at the same evidence that a secular scientist does, and one will see evidence of the Biblical account of creation while the other sees evidence for macroevolution. The evidence is the same, but the presuppositions/worldview that each interpret the evidence through are vastly different.

Because our presuppositions/worldview so heavily influence how we view not only this issue but other cultural and theological issues as well, we must be careful to make sure that we have a solid biblical worldview and that we carefully examine our beliefs in light of the clear teaching of Scripture.

In regards to evolution some of the basic presuppositions (whether they realize it or not) that form the basis of the evolutionist’s worldview are:

  • Uniformitarianism—or uniformity theory. This presupposition assumes that geological, meteorological and other physical processes that are observable today have remained constant throughout the earth’s history.  This is one of the primary presuppositions evolution is based on.
  • Naturalism—This presupposition assumes that the origin of the universe and the beginning of life on earth can be explained by purely natural causes with no need for a divine creator or an all-powerful God.
  • That order can come from disorder and that random mutations to DNA, when given enough time, can result in new complex information and systems being randomly developed
  • that living organisms have the ability to evolve from simple to more complex over long periods of time

In next month’s article, we will begin to look at some of these basic presuppositions that are key to the evolutionary worldview and how those unprovable assumptions make evolutionist’s interpretation of the historical evidence very weak when properly understood.

Alan Hutchins is a trustee at FCC.

Posted in: Apologetics

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I Am Not Myself

By Logan Evans

 

I’m not myself lately.

No. That’s the problem.

I am myself.

My nature is exposed sans-gospel the less I am being filled with truth.

I am myself.

All the common traits of my strife and woe lies in how they might affect and impact me.

Not the Church.

Not dear friends.

Not close confidantes.

Not anyone.

Not God.

I am a god unto myself:

I seek my praise and glorify my name and long for all to know me and love me;

I serve myself, for who better to receive it?

And I am unto myself a god of destruction, for these things I seek and desire for myself will be my end.

Who among the sin-ridden could withstand the adoration of the multitudes and not be obliterated by the weight of it all?

And even now I praise myself for how well I construct this image built by words and wonder at my eloquence and dare David or Augustine to put their mortal curse of narcissism in a more profound way. I am bloated with pride and feel confident that my words are surely worthy of marvel

but

when “I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

This from Paul, a man of high education and privilege of superior training, who, ironically, proved in scripture his capacity for demonstrating high rhetoric and wielding words pulled from a vast artillery.

Yet, he decided that the gospel alone and people being unified in and by the gospel alone was more important than the praise and wonder he could gain from eloquent speech.

And I am a fool.

Towards what end am I working in my eloquence?

Jesus Christ will last long beyond me.

I am insecure and fragile enough to need (or convince myself I need) to be oh-so-well-spoken and well-written for the sake of honor and praise, for without it I would surely diminish and decay.

Not so.

Seeking glory for myself is my undoing. It will end me. I have not the capacity in this depraved and earthly state to rightly handle praise. I cannot handle it and do not deserve it.

Perfection deserves praise.

Perfect, whole beauty.

Too much of a good thing will kill that which is not wholly good.

God is good.

And perfect

and holy in every way

and possesses no sin,

houses no evil.

He is the One and Only capable of handling an eternity of praise.

God is good.

God exists as good.

No one is good except God.

He is the chief Good.

If I am good or am recognized for good, that is God in me. I cannot achieve good without God, not completely. God exists before and after and beyond all else.

No one and nothing is good except God.

To have anything else as the mode and motive of good in my life is foolish.

So, if I am to adhere to the idea of God as chiefly and completely Good and solely deserving, then the implications are extraordinary.

If God is the chief good in my life then

I obey His commands

I love Him

I love others as myself

I love others more than myself

I operate in a manner which correlates with the good of God

I work hard and well using the opportunities and skills and gifts and abilities my good God has given me

I bring attention to Him and His Goodness through my own wonder of His Goodness and do not use the good He has shared with me for my own benefit, but rather use it to demonstrate the Good of God.

I have not good of myself, but only what I have from God.

He is Good and not I.

He is God and not I.

 

Logan Evans is a  member of FCC.

Posted in: Poetry

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Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings

By Julie Ganshowfeelings-nothing-more-than-feelings

In the 1970’s there was a very sappy song entitled “Feelings” sung by some sappy guy who moaned his way through his song while he was trying to forget his feelings of love.

In this article we are going to take a brief look at feelings and emotions and where they come from.  Our society has become almost completely feeling oriented and I think this is very bad. The students in our counseling classes have heard me say that it seems that we have lost the ability to think, and reason.

It is rare to find someone who is willing to risk sticking their neck out for a belief or a thought.  Feelings apparently exist on sacred ground for few dare to challenge how a person feels.

Feelings and emotions are the physical expressions of our thought life.  They are the body’s response to thoughts that either please or displease us. The reality is, we experience billions of thoughts each day, and often our thoughts provoke emotional responses that relate to what we call happiness, hope, well-being or sorrow, despair, fear, or anger.

Feelings and emotions are chemical reactions in the body brought on by thoughts in the inner man which the Bible calls the heart. The heart is the “control center” of each person, and Scripture has a lot to say about this critical part of us. (If you check out Scripture you will find over 500 references to the heart!) Generally speaking, our feelings reveal our hearts to us. This is an important point, for if you want to correct unhappy or bad feelings; you have to go for the heart and deal with the issues that lead you to feel bad or unhappy.

Asking questions is a huge aid in revealing the motives of the heart; answers to questions help to reveal why a person is feeling the way they do. Be aware that when you experience feelings particularly strong or problematic you must do some self-examination and determine what the cause is.

For example, if a person who is frequently sinfully angry could be asked some specific questions such as:

  • What do you want that you are not getting?
  • What are you getting that you don’t want?
  • What perceived right is being violated?

You see, your emotions reveal your heart, which is the storehouse of your faith and all that your faith is comprised of. Emotions also reveal your faith, and the voracity of your core beliefs.

Do you want to know what you believe? Try this quick little exercise;  take a few minutes to think about the emotion you tend to experience or struggle with most often (anger, sorrow, self-pity, fear, anxiety, joy, contentment) ; then spent some time asking yourself what this emotion tells you what you believe about:

  • God
  • You
  • Your place in this world
  • His plan for your life
  • What is really important

An exercise such as this one can go a long way to helping a person see aspects of their heart that they had not recognized before! Once a person knows what is going on in their thoughts (heart) they can apply correct theology to their wrong thinking.

This is really just scratching the surface of this very important subject!

I always encourage a person to seek wise counsel and accountability when heart change is needed or desired. Find someone who will help you to pin down the sinful attitudes of the heart and look at them biblically. They should also be able to help you to apply God’s Word to your life and walk with you as you ask the Lord to help you to understand what you are doing, and how you can overcome sinful responses.

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We focus heavily in our counseling ministry on renewing the mind because that is where true and lasting change takes place. The word of God is the only tool we have to affect this kind of change.

The Spirit of God and the Word of God applied to the heart of a person; applied to their thoughts, beliefs and desires of the heart will help get problematic emotions in submission to the Holy Spirit.

 

Julie is a certified Biblical Counselor and the head of Reigning Grace Counseling Center.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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“Let the Nations Be Glad” A Hymn Meditation based on Psalm 67

By Matthew Swain

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.” – John Piper

Let the Nations Be Glad

Let the glory of the Lord forever be our joylet-the-nations-be-glad
May redemption be the theme of our song
For by grace we have been saved
And by grace we shall proclaim
To the corners of the earth that Christ has come

Let the nations be glad
Let the peoples rejoice
For salvation belongs to our God
Let the whole earth be filled
With the praises of the Lord
For salvation belongs to our God
Let the nations be glad

Through the ages gone before
Through the trial and the sword
Many saints and martyrs conquered, though they died
Still we’re holding out the cross
Crossing oceans, suffering loss
Shall endure all things to win the crown of life

As Your holy church goes forth
In the Holy Spirit’s power
With the glories of the gospel to explain
Now we pray Your kingdom come
And we pray Your will be done
For the honor and the glory of Your name

Matt Boswell | Aaron Boswell | Matt Papa
© 2010 Dayspring Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

Faith Community Church recently had the privilege of sending some of her very own to the mission field.  In so doing, Christ’s command that we “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 29:19) has been fulfilled in part.  Our “farewells” have wrought tears mingled with joy and sorrow as we, for the moment, have come to grips with the sober reality of the sacrifice required in taking the Gospel to the nations.

While scripture can never be supplanted, songs rooted therein can help inform our theological understanding on such matters. Let the Nations Be Glad, a hymn roughly based on Psalm 67, is one example. Stanza one begins with the reality that missions starts first in the heart of man through salvation. God’s glory is most brilliantly on display through our redemption in Christ, which is an unmerited gift of grace (Eph. 2:5). It was British missionary to the Belgian Congo, Charles Thomas Studd, who rightly stated, “The light that shines farthest, shines nearest at home.” The fuel of missions is first fanned into flame by the ever-intensifying reality of Christ and our salvation within the heart of man.

Stanza two connects our present call to the nations with the church past as a means of encouragement. We ought to find solace, comfort, and courage knowing that “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) has gone before us in faithful obedience to the Great Commission. We are presented with the paradox that faithful obedience to this mandate, resulting in possible trial, sword, even death will yield a “crown of life.” For this we fear nothing and joyfully “endure all things.”

Finally, Stanza three reminds us that as we carry the gospel forth we go in the power of the Holy Spirit. The text concludes with Jesus’ own words from the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) and with an unmistakable sense of urgency that our call to take the Gospel to the nations is now. Will we continue to be faithful?

Dr. Matthew Swain is the Pastor of Worship at FCC and Assistant Professor of Worship Ministries at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

Posted in: Worship

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