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Some Thoughts on Finances

As the daughter of a frugal woman, (who pinched pennies throughout the Great Depression and never quite accustomed herself to a comfortable retirement), I walked a fine line between practicality and desire.  After four college years with few discretionary funds, I remember going downtown determined to splurge with money from my first paycheck.  First one thing and then another attracted my attention, but each time I would think, “I don’t really need this,” and I returned home rather upset with myself that I still had my money intact.   I don’t know if it was the specter of my frugal mother or a gene that both she and I had inherited from our Scotch ancestors that restrained me but, obviously, whether by nature or nurture, I had developed a conflicted mindset about money. 

Not long after, the fact was impressed upon me that God did not own just a tenth of my income, but that it all came from Him, therefore, it belonged to Him. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). The Lord is the owner.  Owners have rights.  Stewards have responsibilities.  I realized that He was going to hold me accountable as a faithful steward of how I cared for what He gave me (Matthew 25:14-30). 

I could not figure out how to be a careful steward without keeping track of how the money given to me was spent, so I began recording expenditures in a college blue book. Then I met Stan who shared my philosophy concerning money. Because he was one of the first I had dated with whom I could trust my money, I married him and happily turned over to him the treasurer’s job in our family. 

We moved to Massachusetts for my husband to attend graduate school while I worked. Money was tight. Our apartment, at first, was furnished with a bed, a card table with chairs, and packing crates. Gradually we added attic furniture from the second-hand store.   

One of the major attractions in Boston is the Freedom Trail that winds its way by historic landmarks including North End church where Paul Revere hung the lantern to warn that the British were coming. The North End was an Italian ghetto. It was the first time I had observed such poverty. During the time before marriage when I shared an apartment with a friend, we had subscribed to several magazines (our substitute for info before the Internet.) One I had paid for was Better Homes and Gardens. From it, I garnered ideas for my “dream home.” It struck me suddenly that better stewardship and contentment would come from viewing more ghettos than dream magazines and I dropped my subscription.  

Stan finished his grad school studies and we found ourselves “stuck” in Massachusetts far from our California home.  Failing to find employment on the west coast, Stan got a good job as a physicist in Boston. Our children were on the way.  God kept us there for ten years until his company downsized. Stan had always wanted to teach physics. God moved us back to California and the next four years were the most exciting period of our lives. We saw God provide for us while living on a part-time teaching salary – a necessary steppingstone for Stan to gain entrance into that profession.   

I remember thinking in those lean years, “Lord, you promised to reward with more those who were faithful with little (Matthew 25:21). “I’ve been as faithful as I know how to be. Couldn’t you give a just a tad more for us to be faithful with?” But it was during those years that our expository preaching pastor came to a passage on stewardship. He challenged us to see what God would do if we gave more than the usually assumed “tithe.” Though we were already pinching pennies to get by, we did and God was more than faithful.1    

The prophet Malachi wrote, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (3:10). 

God has proven to me He cannot be out given. And I am glad that God delayed his abundance for me until late—for he knew that I needed to learn the lesson that the greatest satisfaction comes not from accumulating things which only beget emptiness and yearning for more. Real joy and blessings come in relationships with others and sharing God’s abundance with them, especially with those in need here and abroad. 

If you visit my little cottage, you will notice a wooden packing crate that has served various furniture functions in our home(s) throughout the years.  I keep it as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and how he has abundantly supplied my needs, inside and out, from His glorious riches that are mine through Christ Jesus, my Lord (Phil 4:19). 

Margi Hawks is a widowed octogenarian, a graduate of a Christian University with a degree in Art Ed and a great lover of  History. She is blessed to have been a stay-at-home wife and mom with a career of serving the Lord in whatever way He has directed in the various places she has lived in this wonderful country.  

See also: Pastor Tim’s May 20th sermon on 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 titled, “The Collection,” which you can listen to on Sermon Audio here. In the sermon, Pastor Tim discusses giving in general and makes a few specific points about the tithe as an Old Testament function in contrast with freewill offerings modeled in the New Testament.

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Be Encouraged to Persevere

Life in this sin cursed world can be downright difficult at times. One of my favorite go-to verses on these occasions is Psalm 42:11, “Why are you in despair O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” “Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him” are words to cling too! There will, in the future, be cause to rejoice even though my soul is, at the moment, grieved to the point of despair. The last part of the verse says:  the help of my countenance and my God” – the God who gives us hope even helps our countenance!

When you were a child, did you ever play with those colorful magnetic letters? I did. I decided to put them to use again when I became a mom. Growing up my dad used to remind me, on a regular basis, that I needed to preach to myself. We are blessed, as a church, to have a pastor and elders who do the same thing for us. Our emotions can’t be trusted, they are so easily effected by our circumstances, but God’s word can be trusted!  It needs to be our focus, our meditation, our trust, and our confidence so we can persevere. “Persevere” is a word I have on my refrigerator, written in magnetic letters, as a reminder that I must keep pressing on and “keep believing” as Pastor Tim so often reminds us. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9). Verse 10 goes on to say…”so then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”(Galatians 6:10). When we are doing good things for others, especially our fellow believers, it helps us take our eyes off our circumstances. This in turn reminds us that it is the Lord Christ we serve (Colossians 3:24) and in serving others we serve Him.

As Christians we are engaged in a battle. Paul reminds us of whose strength we fight in, of our armor and the importance of prayer in Ephesians 6:10-18:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of the wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Paul then reminds us of what prayer can accomplish in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  Our battle is waged in the mind! In Romans 8:6 we are told, “the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” and in the book of Isaiah 26:3-4 we see that “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”

I find singing and meditating on hymns that contain sound doctrine is another way to focus my mind on the truth of God’s word. Two of my favorites are Solid Rock by Edward Mote and He Giveth More Grace by Annie Johnson Flint. The second verse of He Giveth More Grace says…”When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength has failed ere the day is half done, when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, our Fathers full giving is only begun.”

Let us keep our minds fixed on the white part of the rope which extends throughout eternity and not the small red part which represents our short life here on earth. (In case you missed it, check out Pastor Tim’s Easter Sunday sermon on Sermon Audio)., so that we can one day say with the Apostle Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

“Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13.

 

Jackie Rebiger is a member of FCC.  She and her husband, Scott, have ten children and five grandchildren.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling, Christian Living

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God’s Will: Our Sanctification

by Reese Hammond

After hearing Pastor Tim preach at the Jesus Church International building on God’s will and trusting God as our Good Shepherd, I couldn’t help but begin to think about my family’s current situation. Last year was a major year in our lives. In May I graduated from seminary, in July we had our son Malachi, in August I started a new job, and at the end of December I began looking for full-time ministry work. Overall, our year has been fast and furious. Now that we’re almost finished with March I can’t help but feel the weight of some of our pending life decisions. We haven’t found any ministry work despite praying and searching diligently. Our lease is soon to be up and we need to make a decision on whether to re-sign or not. We’re currently contemplating a possible career in the military and my current job is needing an answer to whether or not I’m coming back at the end of May. It can feel a little overwhelming at times.

Now, the blessing of being reminded that God is truly a Good Shepherd naturally confronts us with two things: First, that God is truly the Sovereign leader. As a shepherd leads his sheep, God lovingly and sovereignly leads His people. As Tim said, “God doesn’t consult the sheep.” God leads them where they are to go and He does so in perfect, sovereign power. Scripture affirms this in the 32nd Psalm when God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” He is truly our Good, Sovereign Shepherd and we must remember that.

Secondly, and much more important to the purpose of this article, is that because God is the Good Shepherd, I MUST trust Him in His leading. This is the hardest part in the Christian life, especially when God’s plans don’t seem to be meshing with ours. This is where faith truly works itself out. I MUST trust Him. I work and strive and pursue trusting God with my whole heart as Proverbs 3:5 tells me. Trust is not an optional thing in the Scriptures. Trust, in God’s eyes, is of primary concern.

Scripture constantly reminds us that our trust in God is of major importance. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” This verse is most powerful because God is telling us that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him without faith. That is because trusting God has everything to do with what we believe about Him. As Christians, it is sin NOT to trust God. Not trusting God reveals that we truly don’t believe what He has told us about Himself in His Word. This is a hard saying but I want the truth about the character and person of God to refresh us and help us trust Him more fully. When we don’t trust God, we are inherently saying to ourselves and to others that God isn’t good and that He isn’t trustworthy or powerful enough to trust. This does not, and cannot, please God. When we are afraid things won’t work out, doubt that God can provide, or despise our circumstances, we are stealing from ourselves the peace of God that can only be found in trusting Him and His character.

Now, as I say these things, I am also compelled to give comfort to all of us after the cut from God’s Word. As we strive to trust God for our future, whether at home or at FCC, we must be reminded and comforted that it is because of what Christ has done for us in the gospel that we can even trust God in the first place. He has given us a new heart and mind that is now able to seek Him. He has forgiven all our sins so that we can now come to God boldly through Christ’s shed bled. He has justified us, is sanctifying us, and will glorify us. And as we go through this life striving to grow in trust, be reminded that He is constantly working in us to accomplish this very thing. As Paul says in 1st Thessalonians, “…this is the will of God, your sanctification.”

Reese Hammond is a member of Faith Community Church and a recent graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to the beautiful Lisa Hammond and is the proud father of Malachi. 

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You Are Never Boxed In!

By Garet Halbert

All believers battle sin. We all struggle to be and do as we ought in Christ because the desires of the old nature still linger in deepest recesses of our inner being. Whether you have been a Christian for a day or five decades, the Christian life of holiness is always a battle (though it does get easier the longer you’ve been fighting).

So in this struggle with sin, there will be times when we fall short of the desires and expectations He has for us. And in those low moments of sin, we tend to dwell on the causes of our sin. Often when we fall into sin and are either confronted by a fellow church member or convicted by the Spirit of God, the first thing we do is we justify what happened. What I mean by this is that we explain the events leading up to the sin and justify that our actions were caused by those circumstances. Maybe you are struggling with a porn addiction and you are thinking “I wouldn’t look at porn if I was (married, my spouse wasn’t so distant, or whatever your circumstance might be).” Maybe you are struggling with bitterness and covetousness towards others. “ I wouldn’t be so bitter if she would just admit she’s wrong” or “I wouldn’t be so covetous if I could find a job that pays more.” Whatever your struggle might be, the problem that we have is that we justify our sins.  Often we are more concerned with the circumstance than the sin itself. In a word, we act as though our sin happened because we were boxed in and had no other option than to do what we did (or maybe what we are doing even now).

Jay Adams, in his book Competent to Counsel, tells a story of a woman who has an irresponsible husband, struggles as a mother, and ongoing financial stress. In her struggle, she essentially shuts herself off and begins to neglect her responsibilities as a wife and mother. In counseling, the woman says, “ I can’t go on; I can’t take it any longer—I’m in a box and I can’t get out.” Here we see a woman heavy ladened with familial struggles, and she goes numb to her family because she feels she’s “in a box” and has no other choice and cannot go on. Though a tragic situation, the truth is she’s justifying what she’s doing by the circumstance she’s in. Maybe you are just like this woman. “I was boxed in…I wouldn’t have made that choice if weren’t for ________(fill it the blank).” We’ve all been there.

The problem with this thinking, as Christians, is that we are never boxed in. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” [emphasis added]. As Christians, one of the greatest promises God has given us concerning temptation is that there will always be a way of escape.

Brothers and Sisters, we are never boxed in! As Jay Adams said, “she needed to understand that God provides ‘a way of escape’ with every trial.” And he went on to say, “Christians are never in a box. God can make the walls of the box fall flat like the walls of Jericho; he can open the lid and reach down with his mighty hand and support one through the test; or he can make the bottom fall out. Whatever way of escape God may provide…we may trust that the way out will come as surely as the problem itself.”

What Dr. Adams said in this counseling session is something we all need to hear in light of our struggles. We can be sure temptation will come, but we can also be sure that the way of escape will be there too.

Now to some, telling a struggling wife and mother that she shouldn’t be acting the way she was regardless of her circumstances, is not the right way to address her. That by correcting her you are going to discourage her. There is some truth to that. There is a good chance the woman would be discouraged at this correction, but in all honesty, to confront her wrong thinking by telling her she is never boxed in as a believer is more encouraging than anything else you could tell her! Though the words “we shouldn’t let our circumstances dictate our actions” might seem like cow prods, in truth, they are the most healing words you could ever hear. You are not controlled by the things around you! You don’t have to sin when you are in those situations! Christian, you are never boxed in!

So next time when you are struggling and you think you have no other choice than to sin, remember that way of escape is as sure as the temptation itself. Your God is faithful and He will provide for you, that you may endure whatever comes your way. There is much hope in the fact that as Christians, we are never boxed in when it comes to struggles and temptations. Let the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 be with you next time you feel boxed in by your circumstances, for as Christians we never truly are.

Garet Halbert is a member of FCC and serves as an Elder in Training. He and his wife, Heidi, have two little girls, Selah and Sophia.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling, Christian Living

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Book Review: Righteous Sinners

Review by Susan Verstraete

Righteous Sinners: The Believer’s Struggle with Faith, Grace and Works

Ron Julian, Navpress, 1998righteoussinners

Ron Julian freely admits that, like Martin Luther, he was driven to understand the Bible out of knowledge of his own sinfulness and moral weakness.  As a young believer, his teachers encouraged that if he “let go and let God” he could have complete victory over sins like selfishness and lust.  But though Julian had faith in God, believed the truth of the Gospel and wanted nothing more than to be free from sin, it didn’t work. He still struggled with sin, just as you and I do.  The teachers questioned his salvation, and Julian began to question their teaching.  He spent the next 25 years searching the Bible for the answer to his dilemma. How can God call sinful human beings—those of us who fail over and over— “righteous”? Righteous Sinners is the result.

It’s easy to fall into an unbiblical ditch either on one side or another of this issue. On the one hand, we might be tempted to constantly doubt our salvation because of remaining sin in our lives. On the other hand, we might believe that because God declares us righteous by grace and apart from works, intense struggle with habitual sin is unnecessary. Julian navigates safely between these two ditches, and gives us a balanced, biblical understanding of the role of trials, works, grace and the sovereignty of God in the lives of believers.

Ron Julian is a teacher at the McKenzie Study Center in Eugene, Oregon.  Incidentally, he has a direct tie to FCC, since he’s the father-in-law to Matt Greco’s son, Gil. His book is available through Amazon.com.

 

Susan Verstraete is a member of FCC and serves as church secretary.Book Review

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The Just Shall Live By Faith

By Stephen Ganschow

Depending on your translation of Romans 1:16-17, (I prefer the ESV, personally), specifically the latter part of verse 17, it will say something like, The just shall live by faith or The righteous shall live by faith. Who are these just and/or righteous people? Who is Paul talking about as he opens his letter to the church of Rome? I believe it is only fair to allow Paul to define who they are himself…and he does so in Romans 8:28-30 (ESV). As can be seen and understood from those passages of Scripture – Paul is speaking of God’s chosen people – those that He has sovereignly called to Himself – the Church. Those our Savior foreknew, He predestined (as in, called to these people and put the desire in their hearts to respond to Him in salvation and belief). It is these called, elect people which are justified. So circling back to chapter 1 (16-17) then – the righteous are the believing Church – and it is the truly repentant, believing church that will be positionally justified before Christ and thereby living by faith.

In Romans 1, Paul was making the point that the justified people of God, though sinners saved by His grace, only enjoy this position by faith alone. This is a pattern that can be clearly seen throughout the canon of Scripture. In (Romans 4:1-4, 11-16) Paul refers to Abraham, and how he was justified by faith alone, not by works. For if he had been justified by his works he would have something to boast about (Romans 4:2 – ESV). But that was not the case.  As verse 3 goes on to remind us, Abraham was a man of faith in God first, and a responder to that faith in action, secondarily. However, Romans is not the only book in which Paul asserts this notion of living by faith alone. In Galatians, Paul is discussing in chapter 3, the difference between living under law (legalism) and living by faith (works based theology vs. faith-based theology). He asserts here as well (Gal 3:11 – ESV), “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Friends, if you are reading this and think that your works alone will get you to Heaven, the Bible, God’s own words (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – ESV) clearly contradicts this notion. To think man can do anything worthwhile, separated from the Spirit of God, is a self-deceptive error, rooted in pride. It is by grace we are saved (from God), through faith – not at all of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:2-3 – ESV). Now, does this negate our works? Do we only need to believe and not respond in righteousness and action? Certainly not! This is what large sections of the book of James spend time elaborating on. We’re not to be a hearer of the Gospel and of God’s Word only but a doer of what it says as well (James 1:22 – ESV). And just as compassion without any follow-up action is fake, faith in Christ without the follow-up action of responding in obedience and living in a Christ-like manner is empty. It insinuates a lack of saving faith (James 2:17 – ESV). Our faith MUST be followed up by action. This is what it means when Romans 1:17 says, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ – we will believe and respond! We will believe and obey in action. That is living by faith.

Are you living by faith? Do your actions reflect your position of justification before our Savior? And if not, what do you need to do to change? I encourage you to measure yourself against the Word of God. See what areas in which you can respond, based on your faith, in obedience. And if you need some guidance – go to church leadership, a biblical counselor, a trusted friend who is strong in the Word and faith, and / or accountability partner(s). Living the Christian life is important enough to invest time to get it right. It takes effort and commitment…desire. I pray that you will consider this in your own life and respond to Christ accordingly as I am striving to do in my own life.

Stephen Ganschow is a former FCC member, now serving as the Caring Ministries Pastor at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Illinois.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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A Multidimensional God

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in his love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

God is not two-dimensional. He’s a complex, furious, loving, tender, laughing slaughterer of His enemies. There is a perennial tendency to flatten God’s character, to engage in reductionism for the sake of simplicity. Have you ever heard someone – or yourself – say,

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Ezekiel’s Wheel”

“I just can’t worship a God who would…” There’s the sinful, creaturely impulse to make God in our own image. So much mischief follows when we flip the direction of image-bearing. When God created man and woman, he created us in His image; in our sin and rebellion, in our limitations and confusions, we think we should return the favor.

Isn’t it funny how some insist that God receives us just as we are, but refuse to receive Him just as He is.

By Jessica Winstead (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWho would want a Hallmark God anyway? In what world does sentimental doting Grandpappy God belong? A world made of Precious Moments and Thomas Kincade’s perfection of light? Who lives there? We don’t. We live in a dirty, sweaty, smelly, dusty world: this world that Jesus is redeeming, this world in which His Church is advancing His Kingdom, is a world of pain in childbirth and snuggly toddlers; fighting against thorns and the joy of freely sharing what God has given; temptations to sins that would crush us and the delight of a cold glass of water. Sin infecting us all, and the image of God in us all. Total depravity and common grace.

And in all that messiness, we have a God who can handle it all. Because He doesn’t break bruised reeds, He doesn’t snuff out smoldering wicks, He leads justice to victory. He smashes the teeth of the wicked. He allows the wicked to prosper for a time, and He takes up the cause of widows and orphans. He directs elections, He clothes the grasses of the field, He comforts the lonely, He triumphs over mockers and liars and those who oppress the poor, He causes the mountain goats to give birth, He allows the abominations of the Amorites and Americans to reach their full measure, He tenderly consoles the weak in faith and He castigates the strong in their pride.

As someone else has said well, we must take all of God for all of life. He’s a multidimensional God. We need Him to be.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

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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Men of Faith and Obedience

By Matt Greco

There are many wonderful and amazing stories in the book of Joshua. One of my favorite stories comes chronologically after the two spies return from spying out Jericho and before Israel marches around her walls.  The story which I am mentioning is the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  A few sentences in this newsletter cannot do this wonderful miracle justice, but let’s look at a few key elements and apply them to our situation here and now some 2800 years later.March31

River at flood stage – The Jordan River was at flood stage (3:15) and if you know anything about a flooding river, they move fast and furious and it is not something anyone would want to cross.  What are the floods that are moving fast and furious in your life?  Is there some situation that has overflowed the banks of your control and is now stopping you from moving forward? Growing up, I can remember watching the Medicine Lodge River when it was flooding and thinking how impossible it was to cross, knowing that even the day before I crossed it.  You may have guessed, but the Medicine Lodge River is smaller than the Jordan River!  Some experts have suggested that stopping the Jordan at its widest at flood stage was physically and geologically (scientifically) more difficult than parting the Red Sea at it shallowest.  But really, what is it that our God cannot do?!

Men taking faith steps – The priests who were carrying the ark were taking faith steps.  It would have been impossible to tell where the flood waters started and the river bank dropped off, but these men who were carrying the ark were instructed and obeyed the instruction to walk to the middle of this raging, rolling river.  They stepped out in faith and the nation of Israel followed.  What are the faith steps that you need to take in your life?  Are you being obedient to the Lord so that others may follow?  Men in our Men’s Ministry are encouraged to step out in faith as we study God’s Word and fellowship together.

Standing on a firm foundation – 3:17 Informs us, “All the priests who carried the ark… stood firm on dry ground…all Israel crossed on dry ground…”  Have you ever watched a river dry up?  It may take months for the water to dry up, but always after the water has dried up the river bottom is soggy.  ISRAEL CROSSED ON DRY GROUND!  No soggy bottoms here, boys, just dry ground.  Reminds me of walking in the fire and coming out without even the smell of smoke. Have you trusted the Lord to walk you across the trials of your life?  Are you standing firm on Jesus Christ as your foundation?

Matt Greco is the Headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

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A Faith Like Breathing

BY JOE BANCKS

Habakuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

Recently I was immensely blessed by God to receive an answer to prayer: an open door to share the gospel with a coworker. In the course of explaining how Jesus has utterly saved me from myself, and continues to keep me and convict me and sustain me, my conversation partner smiled and nonchalantly said, “Well, it’s always good to have a faith.”

“Yes, breathing is all well and good. But where do I sign?”

A faith? It’s “good to have” one, as though it’s a really good dishwasher? or a line on your resume, or a club you belong to that meets on weekends? No, I live by faith! “The just shall live by faith!” I tried to help my friend see that this living by faith is ongoing, like breathing, or heartbeats. Our bodies live by the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, distributed around our bodies, and likewise faith is the breathing by which our souls shall live.

Easy conversionism, or in my friend’s case, easy confessionalism, is like taking one breath, at some point in your early teen years, and expecting that to be all the air you need for the rest of your life. Or like expecting one beat of your heart to move all the blood through your body you’ll need for the rest of your life. Or, if I may, living by faith is like eating His flesh and drinking His blood (hey, that’s inspired!). To live by faith in Christ is to draw all your sustenance from Him, to appropriate Jesus unto your soul like you appropriate bread to your stomach, or oxygen to your lungs. To live by faith is to have your soul feed on Him.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

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