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Archive for July, 2017

Teaching What is Good: Part 1: Kindness

By Whitney Standlea

In recent years, God has constantly shown me just how amazingly kind He is, and how that real, genuine kindness should flow from me to others.  I have seen just how little that is the case.

Every time I read Ephesians 4:31-32, I am again stricken by my constant struggle to be kind and tender-hearted to my children and husband.  With this constant struggle in my own life, I assume many of you struggle with this as well. I hope these thoughts on this challenging word will be an encouragement and help to you in your pursuit of Christ-likeness.

Cultivating Kindness: Fertilizer, Compost, and other Good Stuff Kindness is something that needs to be cultivated within us.  To grow a fruitful harvest of kindness, it has to be rooted in good, rich soil. We find the root of kindness toward those around us in the kindness God has extended to us. Psalm 145:17 says “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.”  I would encourage you to read this Psalm to be reminded of some of the kind ways of our mighty God.  All His works are kind, but we see the pinnacle of kindness in God’s compassion and mercy in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We see His kindness again and again as He faithfully meets all of our needs and tenderly sanctifies us despite our weakness, sin, and failure.  It is God’s kindness toward us that provides good heart-soil for extending kindness outward.  So, I ask you the question Joyce Juhnke posed to me:  “Do I see God’s kindness?”  Do you see it?  Stop and think about it.  Take time to look for it in what He has done and what He is presently doing in your life.

Tending the Garden: Remember that kindness starts in the home, where it is certainly the hardest! Do you have a roommate? A spouse? A sibling? A parent? A co-worker? A child?  These are the people we interact with the most, and we should actively seek to extend kindness to them. But just as growing plants require pruning and guiding, kindness is a work that has to be actively developed in our relationships. I love Joyce’s observations that if older women are to teach younger women to be kind, then it must not be natural! Knowing, being, doing, and excelling at kindness isn’t our natural disposition. We must seek and strive to do it and to learn how to be skilled at kindness.

So how do we strive for kindness to others?  What does it look like?  What are some skills and tools for kindness in our lives?

Some keys to kindness are:

—The Tongue: One might say this is the ultimate tool of kindness.  Scripture has much to say about the impact of kind words from our mouth.  And we all know that kind words aren’t always about the words themselves, but also the tone and volume of what comes from our lips.  The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 has “the law of kindness” always on her lips.  Check out Proverbs 15:1, 25:15, and 31:26. Do you actively choose to speak words that give grace to those who hear you?  Are your words spoken with gentleness and love?

—Acts of Service: Kindness is more than our words and includes the acts we do to show love to others.  Toilet leaning, meals for the sick, cards of encouragement, a hug, a phone call to a lonely friend are all expressions of kindness that can mean a lot to others.  Unsure of what would be kind to do for someone?  What would you have others to do for you?  That’s a great place to start!  We also can grow in our knowledge of how to be kind as we face our own difficult seasons and remember what acts of kindness meant the most to us then.

—Enjoying the Fruit: The Proverbs listed above reference the direct effect that kind words have on our relationships.  A kind mouth can certainly dissipate conflict and tension in our homes.  But more than that, kindness can ultimately turn others to the source of our own kindness:  Christ!

Joyce shared with me a beautiful story of the Lord’s kindness through others.  Some friends came into town to visit them when they were in seminary and struggling financially.  It seemed impossible to provide food for this family on the Juhnke’s tight funds.  They took their needs to the Lord, trusting that He would take care of them.  When the family arrived to stay with them, they had brought a side of beef for the Juhnkes!  This amazing act of kindness from some believers was also an act of kindness from the Lord that demonstrated and affirmed His faithfulness to the Juhnkes.

After exhorting men, women, and bondservants in Titus 2, we are urged to do these things “so that in everything [we] may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”  Our kindness, which is fueled by God’s kindness toward us, ultimately points others back to the kindness of our Savior. Let us be diligent to cultivate kindness in our life! “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  (Micah 6:8)

*Thank you to Joyce Juhnke and Allison Dull for providing the content to prepare this article.

Whitney Standlea is a wife, mother, elementary music teacher at Faith Christian Academy and a member of Faith Community Church.

Posted in: Women's Ministry

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Ain’t No Mojo

By Matt Greco

By the time this article is published, the 2015 Major League Baseball season will be underway.  It is also very likely that no matter how the Kansas City Royals start off the year, Kansas City baseball enthusiasts will be talking about last year’s wonderful season.  It was a wonderful, magical season!

The Royals had a pretty good season going into the last few weeks of the year.  There were some ups and downs, but they eventually found themselves in a one-game play “in” with a chance to go into the postseason.  The winner of this game would be the Wildcard. This is where the magic really started. To begin their record-setting postseason, the Royals played an astounding, come-from-4-runs-behind, 12-inning, nail-biter to defeat the Oakland A’s!  The Boys in Blue went on to set an MLB record of winning 8 straight postseason games and set another MLB record of winning 4 extra-inning postseason games.  Eventually, the Royals played and lost to the San Francisco Giants in a seven-game World Series, the Royals first World Series since 1985.  But they had plenty of help;   they had plenty of mojo that was happening all across Kansas City!

What do I mean mojo? After the Royals beat Oakland, I overheard some mojo recall that helped explain why the Royals won.  It went more or less like this:

—When the Royals got behind, I started studying my  Greek, and then we started coming back, so I studied my Greek until we won!

—After the Royals got behind, I went to bed.  When I woke up, I learned we had won!

—It looked like we were going to lose the game, and it put me in a bad mood, so I got snarky with my wife, and we started to argue. As we argued, the Royals came back, and we eventually won.

Now each of these comments is from someone who would be considered a maturing Christian man, who is biblically literate and theologically sound.  Yet, when it came to the Royals, they all had their mojo going! They all referred to the Royals as “we.”  In fact each of these gentlemen stated they would be doing the same thing next game (studying Greek, going to bed early, getting snarky with the wife) in order to help the Royals win. This fascinated me, so I asked a group of otherwise maturing Christian men, who are biblically literate and theologically sound if they ever had or did any mojo before they or their favorite team played a game.  Their answers astounded me!  The answers went something like this:

–If we were on a winning streak, I would wear the same socks until we lost.

–If my team was winning, I would watch the next game on the same TV I was watching when they won.

–I always went to bed at the same time before a game and always ate the same breakfast on game day.

–I never watched TV or read the paper on game day.

–I would go to mass on game day.  On the way out of the church, I would get an extra helping of holy water and then touch all my major joints with the holy water to keep from getting injured.

—I am not superstitious, so no mojo, but I always ate the same pregame meal at exactly the same time, and then I would warm up exactly the same way, but I am not superstitious. (yeah right)

So, what was your mojo to help the Royals?  Or what is your mojo to help your favorite team win?  Do you put on your favorite sweatshirt, have the same pregame ritual, eat the same snacks, use the same TV?  When the Royals lost their first postseason game, one of the aforementioned maturing Christian, biblically literate, and theologically sound men came into work and stated, “I know why the Royals lost.” We looked at him with collective hope in our eyes. “My buddy took his girlfriend to the game, it was her first game ever, and she doesn’t even like the Royals!!” The collective “NO” was deafening!  How could she?!  Worse yet, how could he??!!

I recently watched a commercial where a stranger, carrying his own chair,         showed up in a couple’s apartment.  He explained that last year this was his apartment, and he sat right there in that chair, and the team won the championship.  The couple looked at the stranger, looked at each other, and then shook their heads with approval and asked him if he would like a snack.  What is weird is that I didn’t think it was weird!  I got it.

Okay, time for a reality check.  The truth for me and you and for all those who have helped their teams keep a streak alive, come out of a slump, or win that championship game is that there ain’t no mojo!  That is correct; let me repeat, THERE AIN’T NO MOJO!

The only reason the Royals or the Chiefs or the Chicago Cubs ever won or lost a game or a  championship is because they had more or less runs or points than their opponents at the end of the playing time.  The exception may be the Cubs; they may indeed be cursed.

Why write about superstition and lucky sweatshirts and mojos in a church newsletter?  The reason is that sometimes Christians or would-be Christians approach life in Jesus Christ with their lucky socks on.  People use their “Christian Mojo” to try to get into a relationship with Jesus Christ or to get closer to Jesus Christ. Here are some examples:

—If I can just have my quiet time, then I will be set for the day.

—I know I’m not giving enough, but when I get over (fill in the blank), then I will start giving more.

—I may not be perfect, but I haven’t (fill in the blank) yet, so I am not so bad.

—If I could just do this or that, etc. / if I could just stop doing this or that, etc.

Now, here is the reality: THERE AIN’T NO MOJO  in the Christian life.  No amount of being good or giving of money or  serving on  committees or  not doing  this or doing that will bring you into a relationship with Jesus Christ. No amount of being good or giving money or wearing your John MacArthur hat will make Jesus love you more once you are in a relationship with Him. As Pastor Tim takes us through the book of Romans, he has taught us, and we have learned and are learning:

  • Rom. 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of  the glory of God
  • Rom. 5: 8 But God shows His love for us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us
  • Rom. 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
  • Rom. 8: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Rom. 10: 9–10 because if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • Rom. 12: 1–2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

It is God’s glory, it is God’s mercy, it is God’s free gift, it is Jesus Christ declaring that we are not condemned, it is through God’s mercies, and it is God’s will.  If you are a part of God’s team (saved by grace through faith), then He has a part for you to play.  It is not about your lucky sweatshirt or your pregame routine; it is about God’s Holy Spirit working in us, and you and me working with Him.

In Philippians 2:12b–13, Paul writes, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  It is not working for our salvation, but working out (exercising) our salvation in Christ.

So join us here at Faith Community Church, knowing that God is working in and through us.  Exercise your spiritual worship here at FCC, and we will all win!  And, just in case, keep those lucky socks handy if the Cubs are close in September.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco – Headmaster, Faith Christian Academy

Posted in: Christian Living

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Book Review: Embracing Obsurity

Review by John Worley

Embracing Obscurity                            

If you read one book this year, this should be the one.  It confronts our conditioning in this society to equate our worth and purpose in life with getting recognition from others, gaining status among others and achieving influence or authority over others. The author contrasts this with our role as Christians being that of a servant to God and others, revealing His greatness rather than trying to establish our own.

Other than the Bible itself, this is the most personally challenging book I have read in many years. I may have said  a few things more carefully than the author did, but he does an excellent job scripturally with a difficult subject.  If I had written a book myself, I would wish this to be the one. There are copies available in the church bookstore. The cost financially is little ($2), but the cost in being honest with yourself may be high. Believe me, it is worth it.

John Worley was an FCC Elder and the beloved husband of Judy Worley.

 

Posted in: Book Review

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