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Archive for June, 2016

A Multidimensional God

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in his love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

God is not two-dimensional. He’s a complex, furious, loving, tender, laughing slaughterer of His enemies. There is a perennial tendency to flatten God’s character, to engage in reductionism for the sake of simplicity. Have you ever heard someone – or yourself – say,

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Ezekiel’s Wheel”

“I just can’t worship a God who would…” There’s the sinful, creaturely impulse to make God in our own image. So much mischief follows when we flip the direction of image-bearing. When God created man and woman, he created us in His image; in our sin and rebellion, in our limitations and confusions, we think we should return the favor.

Isn’t it funny how some insist that God receives us just as we are, but refuse to receive Him just as He is.

By Jessica Winstead (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWho would want a Hallmark God anyway? In what world does sentimental doting Grandpappy God belong? A world made of Precious Moments and Thomas Kincade’s perfection of light? Who lives there? We don’t. We live in a dirty, sweaty, smelly, dusty world: this world that Jesus is redeeming, this world in which His Church is advancing His Kingdom, is a world of pain in childbirth and snuggly toddlers; fighting against thorns and the joy of freely sharing what God has given; temptations to sins that would crush us and the delight of a cold glass of water. Sin infecting us all, and the image of God in us all. Total depravity and common grace.

And in all that messiness, we have a God who can handle it all. Because He doesn’t break bruised reeds, He doesn’t snuff out smoldering wicks, He leads justice to victory. He smashes the teeth of the wicked. He allows the wicked to prosper for a time, and He takes up the cause of widows and orphans. He directs elections, He clothes the grasses of the field, He comforts the lonely, He triumphs over mockers and liars and those who oppress the poor, He causes the mountain goats to give birth, He allows the abominations of the Amorites and Americans to reach their full measure, He tenderly consoles the weak in faith and He castigates the strong in their pride.

As someone else has said well, we must take all of God for all of life. He’s a multidimensional God. We need Him to be.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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THE RIGHTEOUS TRAFFIC JUDGE

By Matt Greco

Do you ever read something in Scripture that makes you shake your head and say, “Did the Lord really mean to say that?”  I love most of God’s Word and I am trying, with His help, to love all of His Word, but sometimes I am startled by what I read.  When Jesus instructs me to “Love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you,” I balk and think perhaps the Lord doesn’t know my enemies and persecutors!Righteous Judge

My friend Rob and I are working through a book together and through our study I have been confronted with my lingering, sinful attitudes of JUDGEMENT!  My lovely wife gave me the moniker of “Righteous Traffic Judge” while we lived in Argentina.  I guess I had made one too many comments about how the Argentines drove and she asked, quite seriously, who made me the “Righteous Traffic Judge”? I thought that after sitting under Pastor Jack’s teaching on how to handle conflict Biblically, my righteous and biblically defendable judgment had been sanctified!  No such sanctification. Recently I read, again, these startling words of our Savior (Matthew 5):

 22“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

SO what you are saying, Lord, that even if I know my brother has something against me, it is up to me to make the first move toward reconciliation?  I have learned that this is impossible for me to do alone.  Even with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am and can be encouraged by other Christian men who will pray with me, encourage me, and who will hold me accountable.  That is part of what we want our Men’s Ministry to be about here at Faith Community Church.

What are your struggles?  Do you struggle with anger or with contentment or with consistency in your Christian walk or in your identity in Christ?  Come join us in the Men’s Ministry here at FCC and be a part of a group of men who will pray with you and encourage you and hold you accountable.

 

Posted in: Men's Ministry

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Children Of The Heavenly Father

Words: Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, Andeliga daggdroppar, 1858 (Tryggare kan ingen vara); translated from Swedish to English by Ernst W. Olson in The Hymnal, 1925.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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Our Daily Bread

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

Every morning before school my dad led us in devotions.  He always read from a little devotional booklet called Our Daily Bread.  Each day it had a few verses of Scripture usually accompanied by a brief – and sometimes interesting – story for application.  Admittedly, I probably enjoyed the stories more than anything, but looking back I am extremely thankful for those mornings.  First, it established in my mind honor for God and His word.  It also established a routine – I knew every morning what we were going to do, and my dad knew every morning what he was going to read to us.  But perhaps more importantly than anything, it modeled for me what would become a lifelong pursuit:  Daily encountering God through His word.  Our Daily Bread

One of the biggest challenges to daily Bible reading is the lack of structure and routine.  Structure and routine are the disciplines that must accompany daily Bible reading.  Establish a time that you are going to set aside for Bible reading.  Depending on your schedule it may be morning or evening; but get a time established in stone and keep it!  Secondly, I strongly encourage that you find a daily devotional that will help direct you every morning.  There are three very helpful resources that I strongly recommend.  We have a couple copies of these in our bookstore, but they can be purchased at almost any major book outlet.

I highly recommend any one of the following:

  • Strength for Today by John MacArthur.  This is an excellent devotional.  MacArthur has written a devotional for each day of the year.  There’s not a lot of fluff here.  Solid Bible teaching and application.
  • Read Through the Bible in a Year by John Kohlenberger.  This is a very inexpensive investment that will reap tremendous dividends.  Kohlenberger provides some brief background to each book.  Each day has a reading plan – that if followed for a year – will result in having read through the entire Bible in one year.  Maybe this could be your New Year resolution!
  • For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word by D.A. Carson.  In an effort to help preserve biblical thinking and living, D. A. Carson has also written thought-provoking comments and reflections regarding each day’s scriptural passages. And, most uniquely, he offers you perspective that places each reading into the larger framework of history and God’s eternal plan to deepen your understanding of his sovereignty—and the unity and power of his Word.

Posted in: Pastor Tim

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Book Review: A Thousand Miles of Miracle

Book by A. E. Glover, Christian Focus, 2000

Review by Susan Verstraete

They were locked in a tiny, bug-infested jail in inland China.  The heat inside was suffocating, and the doors and windows were sealed tight by the guards.  Outside their prison, crowds of people called for their death, rioting until late in the night. At daybreak, it began again. “Mie yang,” they shouted, “Destroy the foreigner!” Archie and Flora prayed for a miracle.thousand

It was 1900, the third year of worsening drought and famine in China. The Chinese people were looking for someone to blame for the disfavor of the gods, whom (they believed) controlled the weather.  Dowager Empress Ci Xi seized the opportunity to point a finger at the foreigners she hated—the missionaries and businessmen from the West who were colonizing and Christianizing China.  On June 21, she declared that all foreigners in China should be “burned and killed” by the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists (dubbed “The Boxers” by the English), who were her willing executioners.

Before the Boxer Rebellion was over, 182 members of evangelical missionary families would die a martyr’s death, along with nearly 32,000 Chinese believers.

Archibald Glover heard rumors of danger for several months before he decided to close the mission station in Luanfu. Perhaps he delayed leaving on account of his wife, Flora, who was six months pregnant, or because of how difficult the trip would be for Hedley and Hope, their two young children. He certainly was worried about the new converts in the churches he worked with in China, and he didn’t want to abandon Miss Gates, a veteran missionary who served with his family. But when Glover was convinced that, as foreigners, they were putting the church in physical danger by remaining, he decided to take Miss Gates and his family to Hankow, a safe city in central China. And so began the trip Glover would later recount in this book.

Every moment of the 68-day trip across China was fraught with danger, but when Archie and Flora came to the town of Lanchen, it seemed as if it really was the end.  They were locked in the small jail along with several jailers, who talked openly about the best way to kill the foreigners. The crowds outside shouted for them to be executed.  Archie realized that nothing but the power of God could deliver them. Suddenly, he remembered the Scripture, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

Archie, Flora, and Miss Gates began to pray to God for rain—a great, gully-washing rain that would convince the townspeople that the Lord God was in control of the weather. They knew that the end of the drought would remove the reason the townspeople called for their death. They knelt with the children and prayed out loud in Chinese, so that the guards could understand.

As they poured out their hearts in prayer, and God caused the rain to pour from Heaven. Glover said, “Never have I seen such a rain. The rain fell in sheets as if some mighty reservoir had suddenly burst its banks. All that day and far into the night it poured and poured…” In moments, the streets were empty. The stunned guards allowed the inmates to open the door to enjoy the rain-washed air.

When Hudson Taylor (a pioneer missionary in China) heard news of the persecution of believers in the Boxer Rebellion, he said, “Doubtless it means fuller blessing, but through deeper suffering.” I think Glover and his family would agree.  Through great suffering, they saw great mercy.  A Thousand Miles of Miracles is the record of both.

This book is available to read for free through Google Books, or from Amazon.com for about $11.00.

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When a Believer Gets Angry

By Stephen Ganschow

When a believer gets angry – what should they do? The simple answer is this – “Be angry and do not sin (Eph 4:26a – ESV).” That sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Sure – get angry, it’s a God-given emotion, but then don’t sin while you’re doing it. However…the majority of us know, it’s not that simple, is it?Anger

What do you do when it’s become a life-dominating sin pattern? What do you do when anger has become your reaction? The very first thing you must do is recognize you have a spiritual problem. This is a heart level condition – nothing else. It is not a mental illness but something that must be addressed between you and Jesus Christ. How do you recognize it as a spiritual problem? You consult our spiritual guidebook for life (2 Timothy 2:16-17 – ESV), the Bible!

Let’s re-consult Ephesians 4:26. When one looks at the meaning of the verse, a layman’s definition 4:26 may go something like this: “Okay. All right. You’re experiencing angry feelings. You’re frustrated. That’s okay! But, do not sinfully act because you are FEELING angry, but instead, take appropriate ACTION right away.”

Angry feelings are nothing more than God-given emotions. They are not, by their own nature, volatile. If you get angry, you’re allowing yourself to be angry. If you’re happy, then you are allowing the feeling of happiness; and if you are sad, you’ve chosen to be sad. But remember – you CHOOSE to allow yourself to feel this why. If someone hands you a rose, for example – you choose to smile and experience gratitude. If someone hands you that same rose, but a thorn plucks your hand – you may get angry – and legitimately so, it hurts – but you CHOOSE how you respond in that anger instead of the appreciation of that gift that’s been given. See the difference? Anger is in no way uncontrollable – you have simply allowed it to become a life-dominating sin issue, where it’s your first reaction, instead of glorifying Christ and thereby honoring the other parties potentially involved.

Apply this to everyday life. Your spouse, your children, your circumstances, your job – they will frustrate you. Negative circumstances in life will occur. How do you choose to manage them? How do you choose to respond? Is responding in all that anger really getting you anywhere? Or is it driving your family away? Driving you into despair? Caused you to become a worrier or complainer? Causing you to live in a mental state of rebellion to Jesus because you don’t like the circumstances He has in sovereignty allowed to occur? Take a second to think about where your anger…your rebellion to the will of Jesus Christ for you…your living through emotions and not in obedience…has gotten you.
As believers, we have to surrender our proclivity to reacting in anger to Christ, through prayer and obedience. We have to strive to maintain righteousness, and capture all emotions through the power the Lord has given us in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Anything short of this causes the believer to remain in sin. Our goal as servants of our Lord must to become more Christ-like in all areas – this unequivocally includes emotions, as they can lead us astray if we live by them.

My encouragement to you is to take time to pray about this matter in your own life. Examine yourself and your reactions before Christ. Do you respond in anger? Are you controlled by your emotions and not by the Spirit who dwells within us? Talk to the Lord yourself, and ask Him to reveal to you how it is you can be more Christ-like in this very serious area of each of our lives and ask Him how it is you can further reflect Him as you and I go about the work He has called us to do.

 

Stephen Ganschow
Reigning Grace Counseling Center / Faith Community Church
Stephen@r-g-c-c.org

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