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Archive for October, 2017

Why Fellowship Groups?

by Jason Dawson

Why are Fellowship groups near and dear to my heart?  When I was in my early 20’s I was newly married and recently born again.  I was hungry to be mentored and discipled.  I remember enjoying the kindness, and friendliness of the church we found in Independence.   However, the longer I was there, I developed an urge to go deeper into the Word, to understand the things of God in deeper, more spiritual, and yes, even practical ways.  Finally, after two years, I started inquiring about different Bible studies, and an older gentleman told me that he held a men’s weekly Bible study at his home every Thursday evening.  I started to attend the Bible study in the inner-city of Kansas City.  Over the next seven years, meeting nearly weekly, I listened to these older gentlemen open their lives up to me, show me how they were reading God’s Word, and how they were applying it in their daily life.  I also began spending time with the men outside of the Bible study.  I could see how they treated their families, how they raised their children, how they had a love and devotion to read and understand God’s Word. That was what I longed to experience.   It was in the context of a “home group” that I began to see what was preached from the pulpit lived out.  As a young man in this gentleman’s home, I was admonished, challenged, even rebuked and reproved, and God humbled me enormously through these relationships.  This created in me a passion and an appetite as I have gotten older to do my best to encourage others to provide these kinds of contexts, and opportunities for spiritual growth within our own body.

Although one’s personal responsibility in sanctification is paramount (Philippians 2:12), sanctification cannot be accomplished in isolation. In other words, we weren’t made to do this Christian life by ourselves, and my experience has proven that. I was truly struggling before I found this opportunity for fellowship.  FCC Fellowship Groups provide a tremendous context for sanctification to occur within our own body. Fellowship Groups provide encouragement, correction, and accountability that cannot be attained through simply attending and receiving a message for one hour on a Sunday morning.

Hearing God’s Word faithfully preached is vitally important, however, it is insufficient without life change (James 1:22-24). Reading the Bible and listening to faithful preaching doesn’t bear fruit unless it penetrates our hearts. Fellowship Groups provide a context to apply God’s Word in such a way that further seeks to penetrate our hearts and allow intentional relationships to walk together toward this kind of spiritual growth and maturity.

Personal Care… Accountability… Transparency… Sharpening… Service, all benefits of fellowship groups.

One of the benefits of meeting in fellowship groups is the mutual giving and receiving of care on an individual basis. In Fellowship Groups care is spread out around the body, but on a personal basis, so that in our best effort no one is overlooked or neglected (1 Cor. 12:24-26).  This provides us opportunities to care for one another when we are sick, when a new baby is born, when we have a particular need and we want to share something with closer relationships within the body.  In our fellowship groups we have the opportunity to share the joys and struggles in our relationship with God and life circumstances as well as encourage and pray for one another.  These close relationships encourage us to be transparent with one another, sharpen one another with the word, and use the word preached to further penetrate our hearts for life change.  This is where we get to work out the details of application from Sunday’s sermons, God’s word, challenge each other when we sin, and celebrate with one another in the overcoming of sin!  These relationships afford us the opportunity to experience the Christian life as members of the body serving one another, and not simply being mere spectators.  Fellowship Groups provide the place for the  “one another” verses in the Bible.

The New Testament contains over 50 “one another” verses. Here is are just a few:

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another….Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves…..Therefore encourage one another and build each other up….Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds….Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling…. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.”

Exercising the gifts within the body of Christ….

Fellowship Groups also provide context for our Giftedness to be used through living out those “one another” verses.  God has given spiritual gifts to every Christian (1 Cor. 12:1-7) and he desires that we use them for one another. But it’s simply not realistic in our three services for every member to use his or her gifts. In a smaller and more personal environment such as Fellowship Groups, each one can experience and express how God has gifted them by the Holy Spirit.

Things that are good for you aren’t always easy…..

Although FCC Fellowship Groups are a great context for sanctification, they aren’t always easy, but we are called to be in community.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”- Hebrews 10:24–25

There are sometimes challenges when you get into close proximity into the lives of people. It’s not easy to see people sin, and to speak the truth in love.  There are times when I am tired from the day, and being around a lot of people is sometimes difficult, but it is so rewarding when we are able to spend quality time with other fellow believers.

Change can be hard …..

When God brings change into our life, like new relationships, often our natural response is to resist.  However, I have realized over the years that there is often a war going on in our lives: my flesh vs. my new inner man that is in Christ.

Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

Although there are difficult reasons and excuses we can come up not to join a Fellowship Group let me encourage you to fight through the comforts of this world. Pastor Tim has preached recently in his sermon “The Christian Athlete” we are like a Christian athlete; we must go and do these things we naturally don’t want to do.    Pastor Tim gives the example that our body wants to stay and sleep, but we need to get up and run.  We want to veg on the couch and watch TV, but we need to get up, go to the gym, and work out.  The next time your natural body doesn’t want to go to a Fellowship Group or “We don’t feel like being around a lot of people we don’t know well”, I want to encourage us to push past our flesh, and find a group, pour out our life, serve, love, and contribute to the body here at FCC.

If you’re interested in receiving more information please fill out the online form and we’ll be in touch soon!

Fellowship Group Ministry

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One Small Butterfly, Two Big Lessons

by BJ Rathburn

I don’t know about you, but I love God’s creatures, especially those in the animal kingdom. I like to look for spiritual analogies and Scriptural truths illustrated in the creature before me and how God made it. As I’ve reflected on what I might share with you, I remember a certain encounter with one of God’s small creatures and two important lessons it taught me. I share them here in hopes it will encourage you in some way.

It was late in the afternoon on a late Spring day. I had been walking through some hard things for a while that would eventually result in marital separation. In the moment, things seemed to be piling up on me. Can you relate? The Psalmist knew this well when he cried out to the Lord in Ps. 25:17, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.” Well, the troubles of my heart were most certainly enlarged that day. Something had happened and I didn’t have anyone to share it with but the Lord. I was overwhelmed, confused, frightened, anxious, hurt, angry, lonely, and had no earthly idea of what to do. I walked the short walk to a little clearing at a nearby trailhead, sheltered from public view, with an arbor and some benches on the edge of a scrubby mesquite forest. No sooner did I sit down when the tears just flooded out.

I was trying to mentally articulate a prayer of some kind to ask God for help By Wikipedia: User: Umbris (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commonswith the turmoil in my heart when through my tears I saw something move at my feet. Scorpions, tarantulas, colonies of fire ants, and other nasty things inhabited my neck of the woods in Dallas, so the first thing I did was instinctively yank my feet up onto the bench. But when I looked more carefully, I saw a beautiful butterfly, (probably a Cassius Blue), blending in perfectly with the background beneath me. It appeared to be sunning itself, but periodically closed its wings so I got a good view of its defense mechanism patterning. For a fleeting moment, the beauty of the winged thing at my feet displaced my self-pity.

Lesson One: When You Need God to Change the Course of History, He did.

My initial reaction of gratitude (that the creature at my feet was not venomous) quickly morphed into a spirit that questioned the Lord. “Lord! I wish you would come down and straighten this out! I wish you would come down and make your presence known! I wish you would come down and interrupt all this and fix it forever! I wish you would come down and show me what to do! I want to be able to see You as clearly as the butterfly at my feet. I wish You would do something! Anything!”

The Lord used the tenor of my impetuous grumbling to take me to Isiah 64-65, which opens, “Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down…” And no sooner did I read that, when I knew God was using His Word to tell me that He did. He did rend the Heavens and the curtain to the Holy of Holies, too! He did come down. He sent His Son into the world to live an obscure life full of hardship, to suffer at the hands of the persecutors He came to save, and to die that I, among many, could receive forgiveness for my sins and an eternity in Heaven free of all the pain and sorrow and death that sin delivers on earth. In my selfishness, I had been whining to God that my momentary troubles were bigger than His solution. But I was wrong. And in my selfishness, I didn’t really want this reminder at first. It seemed that God was minimizing my pain with the “good” news. But God chastened me and then encouraged me that when His incarnate Son came down, His solution to sin and sin sickness, His solution to brokenness, His solution to pain – was a once-and-forever, bigger than all evil solution that couldn’t be revoked, overturned, repealed, undone, or even diminished. It didn’t minimize evil or heartache (though I have sometimes blown things out of proportion). Rather, Jesus on the cross and Jesus in His glory simply dwarfs the most monumental suffering.

I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I sometimes unwittingly use my emotions as an excuse to ignore truth. I give myself an emotional hardship pass as though getting out of sound doctrine were the same as a “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly. But this path only exacerbates the problems underlying raw and unruly emotions. When I follow God’s way of dealing with the underlying problems, I am on the path to peace and healing even when the trouble doesn’t go away – even when the trouble gets worse for a while. And so it was that day.

Lesson Two: Most vulnerable with God is safest.

As God gently but firmly corrected my upside-down theology, I was free to see a second lesson in the butterfly. When its wings were up, it could launch into flight a fraction of a second faster. And the “eyes” on the underside of its wings, meant to scare off or confuse predators, were in plain view. So when its wings were up, its guard was up. Its defenses were at the ready. But where it rested at my feet, it was better camouflaged with its wings down, sunning itself. In that setting, at that time, being more vulnerable offered it more protection.

By leppyone (Cassius Blue) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWhen I saw that, I marveled, and the Lord reminded me that “…whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). So here’s my second confession: I know God wants me to guard my heart. But sometimes I use the language of biblically guarding my heart to cover up a selfish desire to protect my heart from pain. I can quickly erect an invisible shrine to all things that help me avoid pain, sprinkle some Bible verses on it and tell myself I’m doing well, when all I’m really doing is trying to save my life my way, apart from Christ, and losing it in the process. When I let God protect me from pain, I’m not passively subjecting myself to evil or going around hunting for pain by any means! But I’m able to follow Jesus into difficult, even painful situations and simultaneously experience joy, freedom, and peace because I’m following Him and He is protecting me. God used the butterfly that day to show me that my heart only wanted to follow God if He led me out of trouble, away from pain, towards momentary happiness. And that in the process, I was forfeiting the blessings of following Him where He leads, experiencing the peace that surpasses all understanding, and watching Him provide protection for me in ways that added no sorrow.

I pray that if you’re going through something hard right now, God will gently but inescapably show you that when you need Him to change the course of your life, He did. And when you most need protection, resting at His feet in vulnerable submission to and humble dependence on Him is the safest place you can ever be.

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We Have An Advocate

From John Bunyan’s The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate

 

The Apostle John, holding 1 John 2:1

1 John 2:1b. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

The best saints are most sensible of their sins, and most apt to make mountains of their mole hills. Satan also, as has been already hinted, doth labour greatly to prevail with them to sin, and to provoke their God against them, by pleading what is true, or by surmising evilly of them, to the end they may be accused by him (Job 2:9). Great is his malice toward them, great is his diligence in seeking their destruction; wherefore greatly doth he desire to sift, to try, and winnow them, if perhaps he may work in their flesh to answer his design-that is, to break out in sinful acts, that he may have by law to accuse them to their God and Father. Wherefore, for their sakes this text abides, that they may see that, when they have sinned, “they have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

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So Many Different Gifts!

by Sarah Bush

Did you know that there is a rich well of gifts and talents amongst the women at FCC; things that we can all benefit from as a whole; knowledge that can add a new lens to your perspective; skills that can benefit your life and those around you? Let me share a few of these with you. Here is a short list of just a few of the wonderful gifts and talents that the women at FCC possess:

– Sew amazingly

– Fantastic cooks

E.M. Lilien, “King Lemuel and His Mother”

– Budgeting

– Encouragers

– Counselors

– Teachers

– Truth tellers

– Ladies who can get a stain out of anything

– Deep wisdom

– Writers

– Musicians

– Freezer meal queens

– Artists

– Crafters

– Organizers

– Comforters

– Hospitality

– Painters

– Gardeners

– Prayer warriors

– Garage sale barterers

– Decorative skills

– Evangelists

– Someone who will listen and cry with you

– Others who will make you laugh till you cry

– Bible study leaders

– Ladies who will run to your aid in a heartbeat

I could go on and on. I have learned so much from the different women at FCC. After almost ten years of being in this body, I am still humbled and amazed at the diversity in which Christ’s church can have. It is truly a beautiful thing. I have found so many women who do things completely different than I do. They have opened my eyes to the awesome diversity of our Creator. We are each designed a little different. We think differently, enjoy different things, and excel in different areas. Sadly, I do not always see this with clear vision. My perspective can get a little jaded at times. There have been times I have avoided certain people because they were so different from me, or rolled my eyes because they took joy in something for which I saw no use. How blind I have been. I was missing out by not taking joy in, learning from, or living life with those who look, do, or act differently than I do. These other women, who are different than me, have shown me new ways to praise my Creator and value His creativity. I have learned to enjoy different ideas, add different skills to my life, and look at life from different perspectives. With each new relationship my vision becomes more enhanced with beauty and thankfulness for the body. As I learn about and from these different women, my little world has taken on new life. I see things I did not see before. I value things I once did not. I have learned skills I needed. What a sad and pathetic body we would be if all the women were like me. Downright terrifying! By God’s perfect design He puts all different types of people together so that we can function as a whole more effectively. We all need each other. We each have our place. We each have giftings to glorify God through. As our body goes through growing pains we will need to remember this all the more. We can look at this in two different ways – The first option, we HAVE to reach out and learn new women. Or, the second, we GET to reach out and learn new women. What an amazing thing to have the opportunity to tap into so many amazing people, with so many different gifts, right here within our body at FCC. And as we do tap into each other’s lives, may it unite us all the more in the most important thing: Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord.

Sarah Bush is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Women's Ministry

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