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That He May Silence The Enemy

Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have ordained strength,

Because of Your enemies

That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

In God’s plan to conquer the world — you do know that He has placed all things under the authority of His Son Jesus, and that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, right? It’s in the Bible 🙂 — in His plan to conquer the world, the humble and weak exult over the arrogant and strong. The enemy and the avenger, those who prey on the weak, who are proud and have no fear of God, are shut up by the praise of little children. This is true and absolute victory, and it is as sure as the Word of God.

May, 2018. There have been two recent news stories from out of the UK regarding small children with grave deformities who, though their parents wished to take them out of the UK to countries where physicians were willing to treat the children, the parents were nonetheless barred by the British High Court from moving their children elsewhere to seek treatment. If you wish to research these events, the children’s names were Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans. Charlie Gard died on July 28, 2017. Alfie Evans died April 28, 2018.

The details of their stories are heart-crushing and infuriating, and this is not only an English Single-Payer Socialized Medicine problem. Neglect and euthanasia may be technically against the law in Kansas and Missouri, but don’t doubt for a second that it happens in secret, with the knowledge, if not the active participation, of doctors, nurses, insurance companies, and politicians. Terri Schiavo was starved to death at the order of an American judge in Florida, though her parents wished to keep caring for her. This is an American sin, too.

As with all sin, not only is the murder and abandonment of the weak a despicable wickedness and injustice in its own right, but it tells a lie about God. When parents murder their unborn children in abortion, they are telling a lie about the fatherhood of God. When governments execute the innocent under their jurisdiction, they are telling a lie about the justice of God.

In Justin Clark’s Sunday School class on the early church, he took us through The Letter To Diognetus, an early apologetic defense of Christianity to the Romans. In it, the author observes that Christians “marry, and have children, but do not destroy their offspring,” that is, in contrast with the Greco-Roman practices of abortion and child exposure. Child exposure was simply taking a baby out to the wilderness, and leaving him to die, by starvation, predation, or by heat or cold exposure. Other early A.D. writings attest to the Christian practice of rescuing the children abandoned to the elements.

This set the early Christians apart. By this they bore witness to the God who loves the weak.

For us here at FCC, in Kansas City, Middle America, I want to zero in on five things we can do to bear witness for God in the face of these horrors, and stand with the great cloud of Christian witnesses who went before us:

(1) If you have participated in abortion or in the abandonment of someone who was frail and helpless, repent. Name your sin, confess it, without any self-justification or rationalization agree with God that it is heinous, and receive God’s forgiveness in the name of Jesus.

(2) Prepare to be deliverers of the weak.

1 Timothy 5:8 reads:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

Christian men, this is part of our duty to provide for our families: preparation. Think through the scenarios of caring for your families should they need exceptional medical care. Make sure your medical providers also uphold the dignity of life, and affirm with you that starving, suffocating, or euthanizing the infirm is murder. Be on the lookout for these dangers, before they come.

(3) Pray imprecatory Psalms.

If you’re not already regularly praying Scripture as a practice, please do! Praying Scripture will shape your love for God, will shape your desires to be in accordance with His will, and will help Scripture take root in your soul.

In the face of abortion, abandonment, needless and unjust violence, how many thousands of times have you felt helpless. It’s in these circumstances we should turn to the imprecatory Psalms, and pray God’s vengeance against the darkness. Imprecation means “cursing,” and the Psalms are full of imprecation against God’s enemies. The most widely recognized imprecatory Psalms are Pss 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140.

Both Jesus and Paul appeal to the imprecatory Psalm 69 (see John 2:17, 15:25; Romans 11:9-10, 15:3). The Apostles turned to the imprecatory Psalm 109:8 to guide them in replacing Judas (Acts 1:20).

Plead with God to arise in His anger to deliver the helpless (Psalm 7:6), to make the oppressor quake with fear and feel the indignation of God (Psalm 69: 23), to put to shame and confusion those who pursue the innocent (Psalm 70:2), to bring to ruin and swift judgment those who persecute the innocent (Psalm 109).

This does not preclude wishing for the repentance of the wicked. Pray for that too. But as with Church Discipline, when we have come to the place of seeing only hardness of heart and arrogant defiance against the God of Heaven, we ask God to ride to war to defend His name as the God of righteousness, the protector of the orphan and widow.

(4) Stand with Stand With Faith.

Proverbs 24:11-12 reads:

Deliver those who are drawn toward death,

And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”

Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?

He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?

And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?

Every month members from FCC gather outside Planned Parenthood and bear witness to the Good News that God has come to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, to forgive sins, and to defend the helpless. We cannot run in and save the babies being murdered, but we can stand as witnesses to the truth. Come out and stand, pray, evangelize, and witness.

(5) Give to the benevolence fund.

If Americans continue to devalue human life even further, the institutions we as Americans have relied upon to care for the disabled and infirm – social welfare and medical insurance programs, public and private homes for the disabled, etc. – will officially and openly begin to abandon and murder those who need extraordinary intervention. We, together as a church, will have to come together to support each other financially as we obey God in caring for the poor and the weak.

Let not any of us say, “I didn’t know.” Let us bear witness to the truth, and let us do what we can to rescue those being carried off to the slaughter. And let the enemy and avenger be shut up by the praise of infants and nursing babes.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC. Joe is Kate’s husband, and father of four. 

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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.

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Man Must Endure His Going Hence

By Matt Greco

I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of funerals these past few months and I wanted to share with everyone some of my observations and thoughts concerning funerals in general and these two funerals specifically.lewis-on-funerals

I discovered that funerals are a product of a cultural and that funerals in the USA and Argentina are different.  In Argentina, most all funerals and burials happen within 24–36 hours after a person has died.  The main reason is that embalming is not practiced in Argentina.  When a person dies, you had better be prepared to go to the service.  If you are traveling or away on business, you might not be able to make it back for the ceremony.  In the USA it really doesn’t matter when a person dies because we will keep their bodies well preserved until a time that is convenient for most all of the family.

Of the funerals I attended in Argentina, it seemed that little attention was paid to what the deceased looked like.  Very little make-up was used, everyday clothes (not the “Sunday best”) were used for the burial, and in several of the funerals I attended in Argentina I saw that blood had settled in the lower legs and feet.  In the USA much care is taken as to what the deceased looks like in their casket.  The two biggest differences were the timing of the funeral and the appearance of the deceased. 

Of the two funerals I attended, both in the USA, I also saw two cultures emerge, the non–Christian culture and the Christian culture.  Several things were similar in both services. I did not know either of the deceased, but I did know a close family member.  The order of service was about the same, there was a time of visitation, a time of viewing, a message about the deceased, and several hymns.  Some kind of food followed the burial.

During the non-Christian service, several family members had heartfelt messages for the deceased that dealt with regrets, opportunities lost, and reconciliations missed.  Another thing was is how everyone talked about this individual as such a great person.  She was a member of this, she was a volunteer of that, she gave her efforts for others, etc.  Not one word about her relationship to Jesus Christ—only the remarks about how she is in a better place.

During the Christian service, there was a difference in the prevailing attitude, there was a sense of peace.  Now, it is not known for sure if the deceased was a believer, but the person I knew, who is the son of the deceased, is a believer.  He and his family mourned the loss, but in all the conversation and during the entire visitation I never once felt there was a sense of regret or opportunities lost or hopelessness.  And even though my friend expressed some surprise that his father had passed away because of recent health improvements, there was a solid trust in God being sovereign and His will being done.

For me, no matter what the culture, both timing and appearance play a part in death.  (Matthew 24:42,44) reads, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” and “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”  Now I know this has to do with Jesus’ 2nd coming, but no one knows the timing of their death and I think it not heresy to apply these verses to say we should be ready at any moment to meet the Lord!

And how will we appear at this meeting?  Will we appear in the robes washed in the blood of Jesus (Revelation 22: 14) or will we be wearing the best clothing that we have available; our good works, our time, effort and money spent trying to do the best we can?  Our good works are no more than make–up and dress clothes on a dead body.  Only those who have “put on Christ” (Romans 13:14) are wearing appropriate funeral garments.

Matt Greco is the headmaster of Faith Christian Academy

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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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On The Passing Of My Daddy

One day sooner than I want to think about, I’m going to hear the words, “Your daddy died today.” But I don’t want to think of it that way. You see, my daddy always taught me that I needed to have the right perspective that comes from the Word of God. God’s Word says that those who die in Christ are alive with Him, raised to newness of life. Their bodies may be temporarily laid aside but that is not the true man. It is man’s spirit that is the true man, not his body.  We, Christ’s followers, worship Him in spirit and in truth.

My daddy is still worshipping Him in spirit because the spirit of man does not die. The Bible says that it is Christ’s Spirit that bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, those who believe on His Name. The Bible also says that on the last day, Christ will raise our bodies from the dead and the corruptible will be exchanged for the incorruptible; but the spirit of man is either separated or united with Christ. That is why my daddy always liked to quote, “We cannot grieve as those who have no hope.”

James Tissot [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

James Tissot, “Jesus Wept”

My daddy was one of the called out ones, chosen before the foundation of the world to be one of His sheep. He always loved how the Bible referred to us as sheep [we are His people, the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3)]. It says we who are His sheep know His voice (John 10:27). My daddy knew his Master’s voice and when Christ the Good Shepherd called him, he followed.

Daddy believed the Gospel. He knew he was a sinner and that when Christ died and rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, it was for his sins.  He believed that Christ’s righteousness was credited to John Worley’s account and that when God looked at John Worley He did not see his sins. They were covered by Christ’s blood—not by any righteous acts that he had done, they were seen as filthy rags­(Isaiah 64:6)­—but only by Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s blood covered it all and made John Worley blameless before his Holy God! Christ was my daddy’s Anchor that kept and keeps his soul!

My daddy was a pastor for many years but even when he left the pastorate, he did not leave his role of caring for Christ’s sheep. He planted himself in Faith Community Church and kept on caring. I believe that he saw that as his calling. Christ asked Peter if he loved Him. When Peter told Him that he did, Christ told Peter to feed His lambs and tend and feed His sheep (John 21:17).

That’s my dad’s legacy. He fed lambs and tended and fed Christ’s sheep. He gave people God’s Word, the only food that nourishes, and challenged them to follow after it and obey it.

Many people brought him their struggles and he always pointed them to God’s Word because he truly believed that it would not return empty or void (Isaiah 55:11) and would accomplish in the lives of others all that God desired. He believed in the power of prayer and made his requests known to God. He prayed for so many people. He prayed for me a lot. My daddy always taught me that I could give in to my emotions or hold on to the truth of God’s Word and keep preaching it to myself. I’ve always had to preach to myself a lot, and now even more!

God also gave my daddy the gift of giving. All my life he has been an example to me of giving to others, not just material things, but he gave of himself. He purposed to make time for people, even in his pain. He took on the role of a servant, looking out for and meeting the pressing needs of others. I praise God for giving him the strength to do all that he did and for the example to imitate. He was modeling for me what it means to persevere.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWhen people die there is always something within us that wants to do something. I know what my dad would want you to do. Ask yourself, “Is Christ my anchor? Does He keep my soul?” If the answer is “yes,” then cling to Him no matter what comes in this life. Take it as from His hand, in which you are held secure. Live with hopeful expectation of Christ’s glorious appearing, when we who are called by His name will for all eternity be united with Christ! With one voice we will all proclaim, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just . . . Hallelujah for the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us exult and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and pure” (Rev. 19, 1,6-8 excerpts). For if we live it is for Christ and if we die it is our gain, because Christ is our life. Live to please and honor Him in everything you do. Make it your life’s goal to be found in Him to be a good and faithful servant.

If your answer is, “No, He is not my anchor” then believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! Repent of your sins and follow after Him. Apart from Christ you have no hope. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). Surrender your life to His keeping. Are you being kept by Him? My daddy is experiencing the fullness of joy that comes from being in the presence of Christ right now, and he will be forever. Today I can rejoice for my daddy because he is counted among the redeemed of the Lord! Christ is my anchor!

Jackie Rebiger is a member of FCC. Her father John Worley III was an elder at FCC from 1996-2016. John went home to be with the Lord in 2016.

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Death First, Then Life

In Book 2, Section 8 of John Bunyan’s awesome work, Pilgrim’s Progress, a man named Mr. Great-Heart puts a riddle to a man named Mr. Honest. It’s a fantastic bit of verse:

He that will kill, must first be overcome;
Who live abroad would, first must die at home.

As is Mr. Honest’s response:

He first by Grace must conquer’d be,
That Sin would mortify;
And who, that lives, would convince me,
Unto himself must die.

We will not put to death the sin that remains in us (Colossians 3:5) without first ourselves being conquered, overcome by God (Romans 8!). This is true at the moment of conversion, and throughout the whole of a Christian’s life.

This is not “let go, and let God,” Keswick stoic passivity. God has raised us to life, that we may be part of His Overcomers, subjects of His victorious and ever-advancing Kingdom of Light.

But attempts to crucify the flesh, by the strength of the flesh, always fail, and thank God they do! (Colossians 2:20-23) “Bootstrap theology” brings no glory to the God of grace. The world is full of self-help gurus, but Jesus is not one of them. Why not? Because we must die and be buried with Christ before we can live and be raised with Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

There can be no honest mistaking one of the central points of Christianity: if you want to live, you must die. Paul says that in our baptism we died with Christ in order that we may be raised with him (Rom 6:4).

The currents of this water are layered, and they run deep. We are born dead (Eph 2:1) and we must die to be born again.

But Jesus is the Great Physician! Looking with compassion on a race of creatures dead in our trespasses and sins, He invites us to receive exactly what we need: to die to our sins, with Him, because He died for us, and was raised for us (Rom 4:25). Dead to the works of the Law, dead to sin, dead to self, and alive to God, alive to righteousness, alive to truth and beauty, alive to life! There is never any variation in the Great Physician’s prescription: first death, then life.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

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