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Archive for February, 2017

MEN AND THE BOYS THEY TEACH

By Matt Greco

Article from the Jully 2012 FCC Newsletter

Rodney Dangerfield is credited with saying, “Last night I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” You can almost see him pulling at his tie and swiveling his head as he makes that remark. I have never been to a professional fight nor have I ever been to a hockey game of any type, but I get the joke. There are a lot of fights in hockey games.

Well, I went to a basketball game the other night and a “life lesson” broke out! I was not expecting a life lesson to be taught during a basketball game. What happened during the game, what I have been learning from it, and how I am going to apply it to my life is what this article will address.

My 13-year-old son, Gabe, played with the FCA Knights summer league basketball team. The summer league is more relaxed, there is only one practice and one game per week, the coaches know that players have vacations and summer jobs that sometimes conflict, etc… Still, it is a way for him to remain active and improve at a sport he likes.

The teams in this summer league are made up of players that have not graduated from High School. The game we played the other night was against a team that had mostly 11th and 12th graders and our team was mostly 8th – 10th grades. And this other team was GOOD! They had six players over 6’2” and a couple of their guys were 6’6” or 6’7”. They had a couple of guys who dunked during the game!

Our boys stayed with them the first three minutes, and then it was pretty much over. The other team led at halftime by 30 some points and in the second half, it got worse.

But our team never stopped fighting. Shakur Campbell, another 8th grader from FCA had a great game, scoring points, making steals, battling for rebounds, and blocking shots. Gabe blocked a couple of shots and scored several times. But our team got very tired as we only had 7 players and they had 11 players.

But, this article is not about trying no matter what the score or triumphing through adversity or giving 100% as long as there is still time left on the clock, etc…. This is about my righteous attitude, my judgment of another, and how we as men (and women) teach our children whether or not we believe there is lesson in progress.

With four minutes left in the game and the score 84 to 30, the other team’s coach put the starting 5 back in the game. The only plausible reason to do that was so their team could score 100 points. 54 points ahead, but that wasn’t enough for this coach!

Man did I ever get a righteous anger about me! What does this coach think he is doing? These are “Christians” playing! How DARE they run up the score!! Really? This is summer league basketball, it is the 12th graders versus the 8th and 9th graders, and do you really need to rub our boys’ faces in it? I envisioned a scene where I would accomplish my full revenge. It would be in that coach’s office as I quoted Scripture and he received my wrath face to face. A couple of verses came to mind:

  • Proverbs 8: 13 – Pride and arrogance and the way of evil (running up the score) and perverted speech I hate.
  • Proverbs 16: 18 – Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

I slept on it, and for some reason prayed about it, and the more I thought about how I was going to give this errant coach a Scriptural piece of my mind, a couple of other verses came to me:

  • Luke 6: 42 – Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
  • Romans 14: 4 –Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

In the end, the Lord used this game to teach me about my anger and His omnipotence.

I talked to Gabe about the kicking they received and I shared with him my anger and how the Lord was dealing with me and my anger. I talked with him about how he and Shakur and the rest of the guys never stopped battling and how that was a great lesson for me. We talked about how his coach, Steve Hendrick, kept his cool and kept encouraging the boys. If Steve was angry, he never showed it. I told Gabe that Coach Hendrick taught me something that evening.

So I guess, after all, the Lord is still working on me. He is in control even if the game you are playing in (I am playing in) is really lopsided. He is in control if other “Christians” act in an unchristian like manner. I am learning that very seldom is mine a righteous anger, but I can trust in the Lord no matter what the score of the game is.

So men, be ready to teach and to learn from your children, your wife, and your fellow believers. Some of life’s best lessons are taught and learned when you least expect it.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Matt is the Headmaster at FCA and serves on the missions committee at FCC.

Posted in: Men's Ministry

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In Praise of Christian Rap and Fellowship Groups

By Pastor Tim

I will warn you now this is going to surprise some of you. If you wish to retain a perception of your pastor as a very handsome, somewhat tall, very intelligent, hymn-loving preacher, then you might not want to read any further. If you are still reading, then don’t say I didn’t warn you. I am, in fact, a hymn-loving preacher (the other characteristics are admittedly quite debatable), but some of you might be surprised to know that one of my favorite songs is actually rap. Yes, rap. The kind of music where you talk rhythmically to the beat. For some, it is questionable that you could rightly call rap music. In general, rap has a well-deserved bad reputation. But the rap that I like is a very different kind of rap then normal rap; it is theologically Reformed Christian rap. You might not know that such a beast existed, but it does. And one of my favorite rap songs is “Expositional Preaching” by Shai Linne. It is a song that was inspired by Mark Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. I wish newsletters had soundtracks because I would love to include a link for you all to listen to it. I am sure you would love it. Here is my favorite line:

So let me ask a question: What’s most essential, what is it that gives a local church its potential?
Some would say, ‘Music’, some would say, ‘Deacons’
Other say, ‘Reaching the lost and soul seeking’
But if we wanna give God the glory in our meetin’s
The most important thing is: Expository Preaching!

I believe in those lyrics whole-heartedly. They really define the philosophy of ministry of our church. The foundation of any church must be a faithful ministry of the Word. It is the rudder that steers the ship; the flag that identifies our citizenship. However, and this is a big however, as important and essential as preaching is to the local church, it is not the only thing that is important. Church is much more than just listening to a sermon. Acts 2:42 lays out four pillars of the early church’s priorities:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers

Fellowship – or in Greek, koinonia – was a vital part of the Christian experience. A lexicon defines koinonia asassociation, communion, fellowship, close relationship.” The idea of community or close association with each other was, in fact, a common feature of each pillar. The early church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching together. The concept of listening to a message at home on the Internet would have been completely foreign to them. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper (the breaking of bread) and the prayers were also celebrated in togetherness.

The primary purpose of our small group ministry is to foster close relationships, or koinonia, in the body of Christ. These groups meet in homes throughout the city. Belonging to a small group is not the only way to foster fellowship, but it is an important way.

If you have been attending for a while, but still haven’t landed in a small group, contact Jason Dawson and he will be happy to help you in any way that he can.

In 1822, the English Nonconformist minister John Angell James wrote, “The identifying law of Christ’s kingdom is to love one another; and in order that this love may be more perfect in its exercise, we are united in visible communion.” As Christians, the indwelling Spirit of God is the invisible bond that unites us together. Small group fellowship is one way to make the invisible communion visible.

Dr. Timothy Juhnke is the Senior Pastor at Faith Community Church

Posted in: Pastor Tim

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SELINA, THE LESS-THAN-PERFECT SERVANT

By Susan Verstraete

Selina was discouraged. The evangelist John Wesley, her friend, had assured her that it was possible for Christians to attain a state of sinless perfection in this life. Try as she might, the strong-willed and devoted Selina could not accomplish this lofty goal. She felt her failure deeply, and wondered if she could ever be useful in the kingdom of God.

By <span class="fn value"><span lang="en">Unknown</span><a href="https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q4233718" title="wikidata:Q4233718"></a></span> - BBC your pictures <a rel="nofollow" class="external autonumber" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/selina-hastings-countess-of-huntingdon">[1]</a>, Public Domain, <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25144537">Link</a>

(c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, was converted early in the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century. From the beginning, she was determined to use every asset she had in the service of God. She soon found ways to use her position in society to persuade many of the English nobility to listen to the gospel, especially as preached by the evangelist George Whitefield and the brothers John and Charles Wesley, leaders in the early Methodist societies in England.

This was no easy task, as the nobility frowned on the Methodist movement. For example, the Duchess of Buckingham described the movement as “repulsive and strongly tinctured with impertinence and disrespect toward their superiors.” While thousands of the common people of England flocked to hear the Wesleys and Whitefield preach in the open air, the Church of England tried to break up their meetings and made it increasingly difficult for Methodist preachers to be ordained. Selina used her influence with the king and others on behalf of the evangelists, going so far as to hire Whitefield as her personal chaplain to insure his ability to continue preaching in England.

Even though many of the nobility disapproved of Selina’s “excesses” in religious matters, others happily enjoyed her company. Selina filled her drawing rooms with musicians, poets, lords and ladies, statesmen, and philosophers for exciting discussions of religion. Often she asked Whitefield or another visiting evangelist to address the group. At the same time she was entertaining nobility in the drawing rooms, her kitchens might be filled with the poor and needy, to whom she dispensed both spiritual advice and material assistance. Selina took every opportunity to talk with her family, friends, and servants about God. Lady Huntingdon was also devoted to her husband and six children. But still, the perfection that John Wesley taught could be hers eluded Selina.

About this time, an older woman who lived on Huntingdon estate began to wonder what might happen to her own soul, should she die suddenly. Selina’s biographer recounts the story:

Speaking gently but firmly, the Countess pointed out the total inadequacy of any good works to save the soul. But that was not the woman’s problem. “It will not do,” she retorted, “I am too bad to be saved.” “Well, now that you are quite lost, you will find Him who came to seek and to save just such as you are,” was Selina’s reply. 1

Without knowing it, Selina had answered both the question of the elderly lady (who was later joyfully converted) and the problem of her own soul. She’d stumbled on the solution—dependence on divine grace. Even though our flesh (the part of our nature that is at enmity with God) was crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6), as Martin Luther said, “the old man dies hard.” Remnants of the flesh remain to be battled as long as we live in our present bodies. Someone able to live in a state of sinless perfection might no longer feel his or her need for a Savior. Instead we are compelled to realize our moment-by-moment dependence on the grace of God to save us, to keep us from sin, and to forgive us when we do sin.

Over time, with prayer, and after counsel from Whitefield, Selina did give up the doctrine of Christian perfection, but never stopped using her every asset for the kingdom. Some of her many and varied accomplishments include founding a theological seminary, funding the building of 64 chapels, financing missionaries, and personally paying the debts of dozens of men so that they might be released from debtors prison. The Countess founded a group of churches later called “Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion,” some of which still exist today.

Did she do all these things without sinning? No. Selina was described as an autocratic ruler of the churches she founded and failed to set up Biblical church government in them, for one example. Still, at the end of her life, everyone who knew her believed she was a woman of tremendous faith. Thomas Wills, a man harshly treated by Selina, described her this way:

. . . one of the brightest luminaries that had ever shown in the Gospel hemisphere, though like other stars shining with a borrowed or reflected light. . . . Thousands, I say tens of thousands, in various parts of the kingdom have heard the gospel through her instrumentality that in all probability would never have heard it at all; and I believe through eternity will have cause to bless God that she ever existed. She was truly and emphatically a Mother in Israel, and though she was far from perfect in character, yet I hesitate not to say that among the illustrious and noble of the country she has not left her equal. 2

___________________________
1Cook, Faith, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon: Her Pivotal Role in the 18th Century Evangelical Awakening, Banner of Truth Trust 2001, p. 79-80.

2Ibid, p. 422.

 

Susan is the church secretary at FCC.

Posted in: Biography

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