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Archive for March, 2016

Learning to Be Happy

Learning to be Happy/The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

Book by Jeremiah Burroughs, rewritten by Sharon James and Philip Taitjewls

Grace Publications Trust/Evangelical Press 1998

I would like to be writing a review of the classic Puritan work, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. The reason I am not is that, like so many Puritan works on my bookshelves, there is a bookmark in it about halfway through. I never finished reading it.* Don’t misunderstand, there is gold in the book. It’s just that the complex style of writing and the way words have changed meaning since the 1600’s make the book difficult to read for the fainthearted. That is why I am excited to tell you about Learning to be Happy.

Sharon James and Philip Tait have taken the main points of Burroughs’ best known work and have condensed and simplified them for a modern audience, reducing the original 228 page book to only 62 pages. Obviously, they lose many of Burroughs’ sub-points and much of his nuance, but the result is a challenging, simply written book that even an older child could read and understand. The book is divided into short chapters, most of them are just few pages in length. Tait and James have inserted discussion questions after every two or three chapters. This format lends itself beautifully to family worship, devotional reading or to use in a mentoring relationship.

In both books, Burroughs explains what Christian contentment is, where we find reason for it, how we learn to practice it, why we want jewlit, and how complaining dishonors God. Here’s a comparison of the way “contentment” is defined in both books:

  • …that sweet inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. (The Rare Jewel)
  • …the deep inner satisfaction that Christians feel about what God has done for them. (Learning to be Happy)

The entire book is a meticulous exposition of Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content,” written by a wise and loving pastor to instruct his flock during persecution. Burroughs was born in 1599 in England and was a contemporary of John Bunyan and Richard Baxter. His depth of thought, masterful weaving of Scripture through the book, and his “black belt Christianity” applications left me humbled at the shallowness of my own Christian thought and experience. Whichever book you choose to read, you are sure to be challenged by the content.

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is available through www.ChristianBook.com for $14.99 or from various other outlets. You can read it online for free through Google Books.

Learning to be Happy is available through www.ChristianBook.com for $3.99 or from various other outlets.

Susan Verstraete

*I did finally finish the Puritan work, and it was worth the effort!

Posted in: Book Review

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Confessions of a Failed Feminist

By Julie Ganschow 

I would be considered a “failed feminist.” It was my elder sister’s goal to make me into her clone in the 1970’s. At the tender age of 12, she bought me Our Bodies, Ourselves; the instruction manual for the budding feminist. She preached women’s rights and marched for Roe v Wade, and took me to women’s conferences where I heard the battle cries of that generation that believed they didn’t need men, didn’t want men, and honestly believed women were the improved version of men—as though God had made a mistake the first time around. feminist

I could not embrace much of her philosophy. I knew I did not think lesbianism was a substitution for marriage, and from the start I knew abortion was killing a baby. However, I did not entirely escape the brainwashing. My heart yearned for home and family, but my brain told me I was a fool to decline college. As a married woman, I still foolishly tried to have it all, and for a while I had a full time career, and was a part time mother, part time wife, and was in fact a poor excuse for a godly woman. I had long since given up trying to be the world’s ideal woman and settled into a half breed of both worlds, loving neither one.

My training in biblical counseling began around then, and it opened my eyes to exactly how short of the mark I was as a wife and a godly woman. However, it was not until I got my first copy of Martha Peace’s book The Excellent Wife that the light fully came on as to how feminized I truly was! I kept trying to remove the fruit of anger and impatience and selfishness from my life and did not understand why I was such a failure at it. I went around the sin/confession/repentance/sin block so many times I was ready to name it after myself. I really thought I was hopeless.
In biblical discipleship, I deal on a weekly basis with the adult children of women who wanted it all, and they are a mess. Their marriages are full of strife and misery because they have grown up with a false idea of what womanhood is truly about. Often, their husbands are weak leaders (because they also grew up under feminism) and have not been taught to be godly men who can lovingly lead. The women find it very easy to dominate and lead in the marriage in these circumstances. The wives rear the children often overriding the counsel of their husbands; they chastise their husbands in public over child-discipline matters, and they control all the finances of the home. In short, they make nearly all the decisions. They struggle to submit to the church Elders and demand more position and authority than Scripture allows for them.

The origin of these sinful practices was the beautiful Garden of Eden. Eve did not start out a feminist, but once sin entered the world (Gen 3) and the curse was pronounced on woman (v16, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you”) women began to think like feminists. It is critical that we help our fellow sisters in Christ to understand that our heart’s desire is to rule over our husbands, to dominate men.

These are sins that begin deep in the heart of each woman as she desires to exalt herself. It is no different than Satan’s bold proclamation, “I will be like the Most High”

(Isa 14:14). We demand our own way, we demand to be heard and appreciated and valued. We demand to be in charge!  This is not Gods way, it is the world’s way, and it is idolatry.

Anytime it becomes more important for me to have my way than to glorify God, I am practicing idolatry in my heart. I am worshiping myself instead of worshiping Him and  placing myself on the throne of my heart and leaving no room for the desires and commands of the Almighty.

Until we can teach the young women of today about feminism being an issue of the heart more than a behavior, we are doing nothing more than plucking rotten fruit off the tree of their lives. The anger, resentment, and selfishness women display (fruit) are evidences of what is taking place in the inner man (heart). It is not enough to change the outer display; we must teach that the heart has to change before any lasting behavioral change will result! Our minds are to be renewed by the Word of God and then, and only then, will we come to believe that our former way of living and thinking is unbiblical. This, and only this, will bring about a changed life and bring an end to the feministic way of thinking.

 

Submitted by Julie Ganschow

Reigning Grace Counseling Center

www.r-g-c-c.org

http://bc4women.blogspot.com

www.biblicalcounselingforwomen.org

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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Book Review: Safely Home

BY SUSAN VERSTRAETE

Safely Home

Book by Randy Alcorn, Tyndale safelyhomeHouse, 2001

It is difficult for me to understand what life is like for the thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ who live under persecution. My life is, for the most part, comfortable.  My government is, for the most part, just and my civil rights are, for the most part, protected.  How can someone in my pampered position identify with a brother who must wonder each morning, “Is this the day I die for my faith?”  Randy Alcorn wrote Safely Home for people like me—and perhaps for someone like you.

Although Safely Home is cataloged as a work of fiction, many of the stories in the book are true.  Alcorn has taken real accounts of persecution in China (gathered from biographies, missionary newsletters, Voice of the Martyrs publications and newspaper accounts) and incorporated them into the lives of the fictional characters in the book.  By doing this, he gives a face to the persecuted church and helps us to feel, at least in a small, vicarious way, some of the fear, conflict, and comfort that they experience.

Alcorn’s theology is on target all through the book.  Using his main character as our guide, Alcorn will explain a biblical view of suffering and will challenge our Western materialism.  His stories of conversion are realistic and his portrayal of Heaven is solidly based in scripture (Alcorn is also the author of the non-fiction book, Heaven).  Reading Safely Home has changed the way I think about and pray for the persecuted church. I highly recommend it.

Safely Home is available from Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives Ministry for about $12 here: http://www.epm.org/store/product/safely-home/ from Amazon, or through the Mid-Continent Public library system. All royalties from the sale of the book go to support the persecuted church.

Susan Verstraete is a member of FCC and serves as church secretary.

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Men of Faith and Obedience

By Matt Greco

There are many wonderful and amazing stories in the book of Joshua. One of my favorite stories comes chronologically after the two spies return from spying out Jericho and before Israel marches around her walls.  The story which I am mentioning is the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  A few sentences in this newsletter cannot do this wonderful miracle justice, but let’s look at a few key elements and apply them to our situation here and now some 2800 years later.March31

River at flood stage – The Jordan River was at flood stage (3:15) and if you know anything about a flooding river, they move fast and furious and it is not something anyone would want to cross.  What are the floods that are moving fast and furious in your life?  Is there some situation that has overflowed the banks of your control and is now stopping you from moving forward? Growing up, I can remember watching the Medicine Lodge River when it was flooding and thinking how impossible it was to cross, knowing that even the day before I crossed it.  You may have guessed, but the Medicine Lodge River is smaller than the Jordan River!  Some experts have suggested that stopping the Jordan at its widest at flood stage was physically and geologically (scientifically) more difficult than parting the Red Sea at it shallowest.  But really, what is it that our God cannot do?!

Men taking faith steps – The priests who were carrying the ark were taking faith steps.  It would have been impossible to tell where the flood waters started and the river bank dropped off, but these men who were carrying the ark were instructed and obeyed the instruction to walk to the middle of this raging, rolling river.  They stepped out in faith and the nation of Israel followed.  What are the faith steps that you need to take in your life?  Are you being obedient to the Lord so that others may follow?  Men in our Men’s Ministry are encouraged to step out in faith as we study God’s Word and fellowship together.

Standing on a firm foundation – 3:17 Informs us, “All the priests who carried the ark… stood firm on dry ground…all Israel crossed on dry ground…”  Have you ever watched a river dry up?  It may take months for the water to dry up, but always after the water has dried up the river bottom is soggy.  ISRAEL CROSSED ON DRY GROUND!  No soggy bottoms here, boys, just dry ground.  Reminds me of walking in the fire and coming out without even the smell of smoke. Have you trusted the Lord to walk you across the trials of your life?  Are you standing firm on Jesus Christ as your foundation?

Matt Greco is the Headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Men's Ministry

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A Faith Like Breathing

BY JOE BANCKS

Habakuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

Recently I was immensely blessed by God to receive an answer to prayer: an open door to share the gospel with a coworker. In the course of explaining how Jesus has utterly saved me from myself, and continues to keep me and convict me and sustain me, my conversation partner smiled and nonchalantly said, “Well, it’s always good to have a faith.”

“Yes, breathing is all well and good. But where do I sign?”

A faith? It’s “good to have” one, as though it’s a really good dishwasher? or a line on your resume, or a club you belong to that meets on weekends? No, I live by faith! “The just shall live by faith!” I tried to help my friend see that this living by faith is ongoing, like breathing, or heartbeats. Our bodies live by the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, distributed around our bodies, and likewise faith is the breathing by which our souls shall live.

Easy conversionism, or in my friend’s case, easy confessionalism, is like taking one breath, at some point in your early teen years, and expecting that to be all the air you need for the rest of your life. Or like expecting one beat of your heart to move all the blood through your body you’ll need for the rest of your life. Or, if I may, living by faith is like eating His flesh and drinking His blood (hey, that’s inspired!). To live by faith in Christ is to draw all your sustenance from Him, to appropriate Jesus unto your soul like you appropriate bread to your stomach, or oxygen to your lungs. To live by faith is to have your soul feed on Him.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

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Standing Before Kings

kingsBY MATT GRECO

Proverbs 23: 29 reminds us, “Do you see a man skilled in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”  Scripture doesn’t qualify this statement and neither should we.  If you are skilled at whatever you do, you will stand, or you will have a place to stand, before kings.  We might not have the opportunity to actually stand in the presence of an earthly king, but someday we will all stand before THE KING. Scripture teaches us that the Lord is concerned with how well we do the work that He has given us to do.

As I watch the World Cup, I’m impressed by the excellent condition of the pitches (the grass).  Pam and I visited South Africa in 2007 and saw the preparation the country was making to host the Cup in 2010. Those preparations are now stadiums with pitches that are among the most excellent in the entire world.  The best players from each country play on these fields and are watched by all manner of men and women, kings and queens included.

The guys that are responsible for the grass, whether it is the dirt man, the fertilizer man, the grass man, the mower man, etc… they are all standing in front of kings!  I am sure as they watch these matches they feel a pride in the job that they have done.  But, I believe, they were “skilled in their work” before they were called on to have a hand in making these fields so very beautiful.

A question I asked myself and will ask you is, “How well are you doing the job that the Lord has given you to do?”  No matter if you are a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, etc… we are to work according to Colossians 3: 17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”   As men, we were created to honor God in our work!  This is a concern we teach and hold in high regard in the Men’s Ministry at Faith Community Church (FCC).

I encourage you to take an active part in the Men’s Ministry at FCC.  Get involved in accountability relationships with brothers in Christ through one of our many fellowship groups, Bible studies, prayer meetings, etc. We look forward to having you become an important part of the Men’s Ministry at Faith.

Matt Greco is a member of FCC and Headmaster at FCA.

Posted in: Men's Ministry

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