Blog

...Like a tree (Psalm 1:3) Online Newsletter/Blog

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.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

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.”

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

Don’t Give Up On Doing Good For The Church

4 Ways To Fight Against The Temptation To Quit Serving The Church

by Garet Halbert

“Serving in the local church is the easiest thing to do,” said no one ever. Being a servant to the needs of the church is a delightful calling, but it can be a daunting one as well. When I talk with those who serve in the local church, I always seem to see a speck of burnout in their eyes. As I have contemplated the tragedy of burnout and the statistics of those who leave pastoral ministry prematurely, or stop serving as an usher or sound guy, or those who find their way out of nursery duty, I notice that they manifest some tell-tale signs prior to throwing in the towel. A lack in these four areas is a recipe for disaster. My prayer is that as you read this, you would be stirred up to press on in the calling God has upon your life. Rarely will anyone regret persevering; it’s quitting prematurely that haunts us. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

1) Be convinced of your calling to serve, then refuse to be convinced otherwise.
Often when the stress of serving comes, we begin to doubt if we were supposed to do this in the first place. It is so beneficial to seek God in prayer and be convinced that He wants us to join the Georges Philibert Charles Maroniez, The Ploughmannursery team, or serve as a children’s Sunday School teacher, or be a part of one of our outreach ministries before committing ourselves. Brothers and Sister, do not let the stress, the lack of recognition, or whatever else that might cause you to shy away from service or think about quitting, cloud out God’s calling for you to serve Him by serving His people. The world, the flesh, and the Devil delight in convincing people to quit things that they were once convinced of. Refuse to quit what you are convinced by God to do.

2) Remember your identity. You are a child of God before you are servant of God’s people.
Often when one serves in the church, they will struggle with their identity. What I mean by this is that in playing a significant role in a church ministry, one can mistakenly find their identity in that role rather than in Christ. I remember several years ago meeting a woman who served several roles in her church. Moreover, it was often said of her, that if she were to leave or pass away, there was nobody that could do all that she does. And while this is an example of an incredible servant’s heart, there was still a problem. She hardly talked about God and was not very Christ-like Monday-Saturday. She was the life of the party at church gatherings, but was not much for godliness outside of church. What might this indicate to us? She had an identity bound up in her roles in the church, rather than in Christ. We are to find our identity in the One who gave His life for us, that we might be forgiven of our many sins. And from the overflow of that identity of being a child of God, THEN we begin to extend ourselves out in service to our church. Even Jesus models for us the importance of seeing one’s self as a child of God before a specific role. He spent more time in His earthly ministry talking about being the Son of God than His role as Savior! I think we would benefit greatly from an identity check.

3) Always be a person of prayer IN your service to the church.
It is easy to get caught up in serving the church and forget to pray both for the ministry in which you Rembrandt, Saint James the Greaterserve and for the church body at large. But we must remember that prayer is one of the most important services to the church! When the Apostle Paul was guiding Timothy on how to lead the church at Ephesus, he wrote to Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). For Paul, a great church is a praying church. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the activities that grow and aid the church, but forget Who truly builds the church (Matthew 16:18). And before we look at our last point, I want to add that prayer is the ultimate acknowledgment that we can do nothing apart from Christ. John Piper in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, writes, “Prayer is the translation into a thousand different words of a single sentence: ‘Apart from me [Christ] you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).”

4) Don’t just serve.
Serving in a church ministry can be all work and no fellowship. Serve the church with the intention of fellowshipping as well. Most of the churches’ ministries consist of many people, so see your service as a way to fellowship with your team. Get to know one another and exchange prayer requests. Let those conversations become friendships outside of your specific ministry. One of the best ways to get connected with those in your church family is to start by connecting with those in the church ministry you serve with. As we labor together, we grow together.

Serving in a church ministry is exhausting; there is no way around it. We all have jobs, families, and the stress of life. Then on top of that, we have our responsibility to our church. These four practical tips will help us with most of the struggles we have in serving. Service to the church is exhausting, but it can be an exhilarating exhaustion. There is no better place to spend yourself for the Lord than His church. Let your exhaustion be a reminder that prior to Christ you spent yourself on things that had no heavenly reward, but now your exhaustion is not in vain, for one day you will be rewarded for your labor for our Lord. Let us, like the Apostle Paul, have the same desire as we serve the church, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15).

Garet Halbert is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry, Women's Ministry

Leave a Comment (0) →

How Can I Change?

by Julie Ganschow

As a counselor, most people who come to me for help are looking for a change. Those in relationship counseling are usually looking for the other person to change. Those in individual counseling are often looking for their circumstances or feelings to change, and they don’t know how to make that happen.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Galatians 5:19-22 we find lists of ugly issues that are typical as presenting problems in a biblical counseling relationship. (These, of course, are not the only two places in the Bible we find sinful habits listed). While you may want to believe that your particular sin is new or unique, the Bible does cover all of the heart-level sins known to man. We vary in how each of us acts out our sin, but honestly, there is no new sin under the sun. This is excellent news for sinners! The problem you bring to the table can be completely different, yet the cause of sin is identical.

Battling Besetting Sins

Every one of us can become habituated to one or more kinds of sin. Another way of thinking about habitual sin might be found in an older term: besetting sin. Our sinful habits develop when we do something so frequently that it becomes an automatic, comfortable pattern of living. It becomes an automatic behavior, such as the woman who habitually overeats chocolate or cake when she is feeling sad or lonely.

There’s no machine for heart change.

She is told by well-meaning people that she has a disease such as Compulsive Overeating. She might be prescribed an anti-depressant and told to attend a self-help group. These responses remove her responsibility for her actions and steal her hope. However, identifying these behaviors biblically can give her tremendous hope when she learns that her eating too much of the wrong kinds of food have become habits that can be unlearned. Taking medication will not help a person put off a sinful habit, but by employing the process of biblical change, with practice, she will change and restructure her life in a manner that glorifies God.

It is important to realize that such habits did not develop overnight, and new habits will not become automatic overnight. Biblical change takes time and practice. It takes time for someone who is habituated to a particular sin to transform and begin to consistently demonstrate new attitudes and actions.

Biblical Process of Change

The key to real and lasting change is found in the biblical process of putting off and putting on presented in Ephesians 4:22 – 24. As you read through the Bible, you will find a number of verses that inform us in one way or another about disciplining ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7; Colossians 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:11). Part of the process that I would recommend is found in 2 Timothy 3:16 which instructs us to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness. We all need to know more about God and how to bring Him glory by how we live our lives, right? Sit under sound biblical teaching. We must be willing to accept a reproof or a rebuke for our ungodly behavior and attitudes, and then correct them by putting on a biblical response, and finally, to be trained in the particular righteous behaviors that we must put on.
The idea of training means to practice it over and over, very much like a gymnast practices the same routine to the point that the moves she makes on the balance beam or the floor are identical time after time. Rather than learning physical moves, we replace the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of our heart that we currently practice (Galatians 5:19 – 20), with those that honor and glorify God (Ephesians 4 – 5, Philippians 2, and Colossians 3).

Biblical Change vs. Behaviorism

Some verses in the Scriptures talk about re-habituation. Hebrews 5:13 and 10:25 are among them. Our goal is not merely to change behavior, putting off and putting on; we must realize and understand the importance the heart plays in putting off those old habits and putting on righteous ones. Because our behavior comes from our immaterial part, or what the Bible calls the heart, the changes to put off and put on must originate there. The sinful thoughts, beliefs, and desires that bring us into counseling arise in the heart. As the heart submits to God’s authority, and the Word of God renews the mind, new behavior patterns will form. To leave out the critical component of heart change for life change makes the biblical counselor a mere behaviorist, and this type of counsel is sure to fail.

Ephesians 4:22-24 can be misused to become rote behaviorism. Behaviorism is a danger with some forms of counseling. The critical component in this passage is the renewal of the mind. The mind is equal to the heart and must be biblically informed (Romans 12:2) about how to change. This is why reading and meditating on the Word of God is so critical to this process of biblical change. We must know what the Word of God says about the attitudes and sins of the heart. The new response (putting on) ideally will flow from a heart that now sees our sin as grievous to God.

Julie Ganschow is a member of FCC and Director of FCC’s counseling ministry, Reigning Grace Counseling Center.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

Leave a Comment (0) →

My Daughter the Kitty?

by Gabriel Pech

A couple months ago my almost-five-year old, beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter, Mykah, said to me over lunch, “Daddy, I want to be a boy!” This was a critical moment for me as a parent. I wasn’t surprised by her question, nor was I even caught off-guard. But it was still a critical moment. How would you handle this question?

Our culture today would suggest that my wife and I embrace her desire and immediately start calling her “Mike” and referring to her as a him and claim her as our firstborn son. The culture would not only suggest this, but would celebrate us as exemplary parents for embracing our daughter for “who he really is.”

Here’s the thing though… Earlier that morning she was a kitten named “Summer.” By Alicia Harvey (originally posted to Flickr as Blue Eyed Baby) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAnd this morning she was a rescue dog named “Everest.” Who my daughter “really is” should not and cannot be determined by what she feels at any given moment. I kid you not, she switches characters throughout the day faster than I can keep up with; and in fact, I spend more time trying to figure out who I am as we play, than actually play.

She’s five–she doesn’t know what she wants. If I let her, she would eat cake for every meal and make herself sick by only drinking chocolate milk.

In this video, one of my favorite superhero actors, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) has a similar interaction with his daughter. How does he handle it? In his words, he tells his daughter, “You can be whatever you want to be.” It gets laughs from the audience but it’s not funny. He is pushing the same worldview that the recent kid movie, Zootopia, pushed: You can be whatever you want to be.

This worldview, while seemingly innocent enough, especially when said to a five-year-old, can have devastating effects, especially in regards to gender.

The big lie that Satan whispered into Eve’s ear in the garden was that God was withholding happiness from her, that He didn’t truly want what’s best for her (Genesis 3). In essence, Satan was saying that the sovereign God of the universe, the One who rules all things, did not actually know what was best for His creation; and that she, a mere finite being, could better determine her fate.By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you see where I am going with this? That lie back in the garden is the same venomous lie that is being spewed today. The lie that says that somehow God messed up when creating you as male or female, and therefore you can, and should, decide for yourself. It’s the same lie wrapped up in new language and propagated not from a snake, but from the popular media.

So how did I reply to my sweet innocent little girl’s request to be a boy? I tenderly held her face, looked deep into her big blue eyes, and told her that God knew exactly what He was doing when He created her as a girl (Psalm 139:13 anybody?). I told her that living out her life as a girl will bring God great joy and glory, and then I affirmed all that is “girly” in her, showering her with love and affection. I did not rudely dismiss her request but rather told her of a sovereign God who loved her and made her to be a girl that glorifies Him. She smiled big, took a bite, and then told me we were now playing Rapunzel and I was the horse, Max.

As Christians, we must reject the worldview that lies and says, “You can be whatever you want to be,” as if that “whatever” is better than what you were originally designed for. We must teach our children that there is good and sovereign God who knew exactly what He was doing when He created them as a beautiful little girl or handsome little boy.

Gabriel Pech is a member of FCC.

Save

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Suffering and Dying for the Glory of God

by Deanna Hanson

I recently lost my dad and my mother-in-law to Stage 4 illnesses. My dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Liver Disease and died within 3 weeks. My mother-in-law’s diagnosis came and allowed us to enjoy 2 great years with her before her body was overcome by Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Both of my parents experienced death and suffering so differently. Our human nature does not want to endure hardship like a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3), follow Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21), or rejoice in suffering (Romans 5:3). But it is at Calvary, at the cross, where we meet suffering on God’s terms. My mother-in-law, Sue Hanson, achieved this for most of her life, but it was most evident during her last 2 years here on earth.

John and I attended the 2005 Desiring God’s National Conference in Minneapolis entitled “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.” We were deeply affected by the messages. We heard testimonies from Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, and John Piper about the hope and joy that can come from immense heartache and affliction. Steve Saint explained how suffering is relative and different for each person. “My definition of suffering is our expectation divided by our experience.” He goes on to say that “people who suffer want people who have suffered to tell them there is hope.

William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

William Blake, “Pestilence”

They are justifiably suspicious of people who appear to have lived lives of ease. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the reason that Jesus suffered in every way that we do, while he was here. First Peter 2:21 says, ‘[Your] suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps’ (NLT).” Sue understood that this was God’s sovereign plan for her life and followed Christ’s example. She lived her last two years demonstrating His love for others while she was sick, continuously serving and encouraging those around her. She radiated joy and hopefulness when she shared about the cancer that was spreading through her body. While she was suffering and dying, Sue did just as Philippians 2:3 says: “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Her example reminded me of what Joni said at this 2005 conference:

“To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you this kind of example that you should follow. He endured the cross for the joy that was set before him (Heb 12:2). Should we expect to do less? So then, join me; boast in your afflictions. Delight in your infirmities. Glory in your weaknesses, for then you know that Christ’s power rests in you (2 Corinthians 12:9). You might [have cancer] on all sides, but you’re not crushed. You might be perplexed, but you’re not in despair. You might be knocked down, but you’re not knocked out. Because it says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 that every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that in turn we might experience the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours.”

Let us learn from Sue and Joni and die to ourselves each morning and live in Christ for the glory of our great God!

If you would like to listen to the 2005 conference messages from this Series, the video and audio are available for free by clicking here: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.

Deanna Hanson is a member of FCC.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in: Christian Living

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Mission of the Church

by William Judson

What is the role of the church in the Great Commission? Her role is to go out in the power of the Spirit, in the name of Christ, for the glory of the Father to make disciples of all ethnic groups in the world. Jesus, having been given all authority, promises to be with us as we seek to make disciples (converts) among all the nations. But that raises the question: to whom do we go? Do we go to those who already have access to the gospel, a church on every corner? Are the people in our offices and worksites “unreached?” To understand these questions, we need to go to the Scriptures.

The Great Commission is given to us in Matthew 28. Jesus sends us out in his name, to proclaim his death and resurrection. We see this authority and power manifested in the book of Acts. Specifically in Acts 1:8, Jesus recommissions those gathered by telling them that they will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. As Acts unfolds we see the apostles going into every town, proclaiming and reasoning with the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah and that he has risen. This proclamation results in persecution, which serves as God’s catalyst to send out workers into his harvest of the nations (Acts 11:19; Matt. 9:37-38).

By London Missionary Society, National Portrait Gallery, via Wikimedia Commons

Bechuana Congregation and David Livingston, via The London Missionary Society

God’s plan has always been for the nations. From his covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15; 17) to the Great Commission (Matt. 28; Acts 1:8), from Peter’s vision in Acts 10 to the return of Christ (Rev 5; 7). God is seeking to glorify himself among all peoples, tribes, and languages. God has promised that there will be a people from every tribe, language, and nation that will confess that Jesus is Lord and that the Father raised him from the dead. So we go to those who have never heard.

The unreached and unengaged are those with little to no access to the gospel. To bring their utter plight into view I want to paraphrase something I heard David Platt, President of the International Mission Board, say at a conference. He said, “If every Christian in the world were to go out and share the gospel with every person they knew, and that by God’s grace every person truly repented and believed, and then they told every person they knew, and so on, there would still be 2.9 billion unreached and unengaged peoples in the world.” Currently, there are 2.9 billion people in the world who are not giving the glory due to God. There are approximately 7.5 billion people in the world, most of whom, if we’re honest, aren’t Christians. But within that group, about 40%, have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have no access to the Scriptures or a local church. They have probably never met a Christian. They stand condemned before God unless they repent and believe in Christ as Lord and Savior.

In Romans 10, Paul states: “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” As a church, we need faithful senders and faithful goers. We need those to be sent to those who have never heard. We need one another to reach the unreached. We need one another to accomplish Matthew 28 and Romans 15:20. Our aim should be to reach those where Christ has not been named until we have no more work left in this world.

William Judson is a member of FCC.

Posted in: missions

Leave a Comment (0) →

Penned, 20 March 2017, thoughts

I am thankful for this moment,
I am thankful for this time.
As I look upon your peaceful face,
And write this simple rhyme.

I am thankful for this moment,
I am thankful for this time.
I pray for your sweet precious soul
With each and every line.

Additional lines penned July, 2017

I am thankful for these moments,
I am thankful for this time.
I praise God He has saved you
In His perfect plan, not mine.

I am thankful for these moments,
I am thankful for these days.
I pray that you keep seeking God
In all your will and ways.

Accompanying note, when you sought baptism. . .

Dear Daughter,
The occasion for this poem is this:

I had gone into your room to say, “Good-night.” You were sleeping. Your peaceful rest was significant to me in the midst of our storms. After so many nights of slipping in to see you gazing out the window, troubled, this was such a delightful night.

But, as I wrote it, I knew I could not finish the poem, as we were, in our then-present state. I had to keep thanking God for each moment and thanking Him for such a time as this. I had to keep praying for your soul, dear.

God was gracious to respond to these pleas rather directly (though it seemed to me it might never come). My faith wavered frequently this past year, but God is faithful. He alone softened your heart. I couldn’t. He alone saved you.

Now, I could simply breathe a sigh of relief and thank Him for His perfect plan. Your adventure has just begun, however, and God is faithful to complete it. However much I love you, God’s love is infinitely more and far better than you could ask for or imagine. Seek Him first! Love, M

This contribution submitted anonymously from a member of FCC. 

 

Posted in: Poetry

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 5 of 16 «...34567...»