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Goals for 2018

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of
God”

~Christ Jesus

I am not a big fan of resolutions but I do have some goals for the New Year. One of them
is to increase my intake of Scripture. I want to utilize the technology at my fingertips and
listen to Scripture with earbuds and blue tooth speakers. And I just want to read it more.
I came across a very simple plan in which the New Testament could be read in 30 days.
Basically, if I read 8 chapters a day, I could cover the entire New Testament. That is not
an unreasonable investment of time – four chapters in the morning; four chapters in the
evening. So that will be my goal for the coming year – consuming many more spiritual
calories. As I read, I just want to listen to the Scriptures. I want to lay down my
presuppositions – and all that I think I know about the text – and read it as much as
possible like it is the first time. I want to listen to the Word of God.

1 – Matthew 1-8
2 – Matthew 9-15
3 – Matthew 16-23
4 – Matthew 24-28
5 – Mark 1-7
6 – Mark 8-13
7 – Mark 14 – Luke 2
8 – Luke 3-8
9 – Luke 9-13
10 – Luke 14-21
11 – Luke 22 – John 2
12 – John 3-8
13 – John 9-15
14 – John 16 – Acts 1
15 – Acts 2-8
16 – Acts 9-15
17 – Acts 16-21
18 – Acts 22 – Romans 1
19 – Romans 2-10
20 – Romans 11- 1 Corinthians 6
21 – 1 Corinthians 7-15
22 – 1 Corinthians 16 – 2 Corinthians 12
23 – 2 Corinthians 13 – Ephesians 4
24 – Ephesians 5 – Colossians 4
25 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 1 Timothy 6
26 – 2 Timothy 1 – Hebrews 6
27 – Hebrews 7 – James 2
28 – James 3 – 1 John 1
29 – 1 John 2 – Revelation 4
30 – Revelation 5-22

 

 Dr. Timothy Juhnke is the Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church. In addition, Tim also serves as President of Faith Christian Academy, a Classical Christian school in Kansas City. He and his wife, Lori, have four grown sons and three precious granddaughters.

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A•pol•o•get•ics

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

After the service one Sunday, a brother approached me very meekly and simply asked, “What is apologetics?” I was so appreciative of that question. In a post-Christian culture, we need to be so mindful of the Christian jargon that we use almost carelessly. We regularly use terms that many people have absolutely no idea what we are talking about. The answer is NOT to quit using the terms but to explain the terms.

Apologetics is a word that comes straight from the Greek the language. It is a word that is found in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [the word “defense” is apologia in Greek] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” The dictionary defines apologetics as “the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.” So when a seeker or skeptic of the Bible asks you a question or challenges what you believe, apologetics is the ability to defend or answer that challenge.

Although apologetics is useful in answering the questions and challenges of skeptics and unbelievers, that is not its only function. Apologetics can be an integral part of evangelism, and it also helps believers grow and become assured in their own faith. Apologetics demonstrates that the Christian faith is not just wishful thinking or a blind faith, but rooted in historical and logical realities.

Remember: Apologetics isn’t just for pastors or seminary professors. According to the Apostle Peter, every Christian should be ready to give a defense (an apologia) for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).

Dr. Juhnke is the senior pastor of Faith Community Church.

 

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Manifest Destiny

By Pastor Tim, April 2012

In the 19th century, America looked like it had a bright future. There was widespread belief that the country was destined to expand across the entire continent. This widely held belief was eventually captured in the slogan “Manifest Destiny”. The expansion of America was obvious (thus, “Manifest”) and inescapable (thus, “Destiny). The Polk administration tapped into this sentiment to build support for the looming war with Mexico. And as they say, “The rest is history.”

Fourteen years ago Faith Community Church was a very young church with an uncertain future. Previously, the church had met in homes, hotel conference rooms, and schools. We eventually secured a more permanent presence by renting some retail space that was situated next to a bar and behind a liquor store. The location wasn’t exactly conducive for church growth, but it worked and the Lord blessed us. After almost three years we were notified that the building had been sold and we had 30 days to leave. Thinking back on it, those were some very tense times. We had no idea where we were going to go. Amazingly, the Lord opened the door for us to meet in the chapel at Park University in Parkville, MO. This cathedral-like chapel, which was both beautiful and spacious, was in stark contrast to the retail space. More importantly, the rent was 75% less than what we had been paying.

When I think back on those days, they were both precious and awkward. We had about 60 people sitting in an auditorium that could seat 500, so there was plenty of room—too much room, in fact. The chapel was also situated right next to the railroad that runs through the city of Parkville. If you listen to tapes from back then, you will probably hear the long, annoying train whistle that regularly interrupted our Sunday services. Moreover, it still wasn’t our building. We were guests in someone else’s building.

Even back then, however, with just a few people and an uncertain future, there was an expectation and anticipation that God was going to do something unique with Faith Community Church. Next to the chapel, there was a park where I would often walk and pray. Fourteen years later, I can remember exactly what I prayed as I walked in that park. “Lord,” I prayed, “let Faith Community Church impact the face of Christianity for my generation.” It was a grandiose prayer, and I didn’t just pray it once.

God has been so faithful to this church over the years. When we procured our current building, we were overjoyed! It wasn’t much too look at and it needed a lot of work, but it was our own! At this location the Lord has truly sustained and prospered us. When we first moved into this building I remember thinking, “There is no way we will use all this space…” Well, all that space we thought we had back then is gone. Amazingly, there is still an expectation and anticipation that God has something special in store for us.

As the elders have been grappling with the future, we have noticed that our ministries and outreach go way beyond just that of a local church. Many of our key ministries reach out to the larger Body of Christ. For example, 70% of the students at Faith Christian Academy attend other churches.  Reigning Grace Counseling Center counsels many Christians from other churches, and RGCC is poised to become a regional, perhaps national, if not international hub to train, counsel, and disciple believers in the biblical counseling model. The Anchor House ministers to men from all different walks of life. And, through The North Africa Venture, Faith Community Church is responsible for the radio broadcast that goes across all of North Africa, reaching many Muslims for Christ.

All of these exciting ministries were not a possibility 14 years ago. We simply did not have the capacity or resources to accomplish all these things. The only thing we could do back then was dream and be faithful. All these ministries are possible because FCC has grown. The elders realize that we are at a critical stage in our ministry. There is still an expectation and anticipation that God is doing something unique with Faith Community Church.

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The Most Depressing Day of the Year

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

Recently, a psychologist from the UK made headlines when he announced that Monday, January 24, was the most depressing day of the year. Dr. Cliff Arnall devised a formula that was used to determine people’s lowest point. He used the Formula:

[W + (D-d)] x TO
M x NA

A Reporter explained the formula like this: “The equation is broken down into seven variables:

  • (W) weather
  • (D) debt
  • (d) monthly salary
  • (T) time since Christmas
  • (Q) time since failed quit attempt [i.e. failed New Year’s resolutions]
  • (M) low motivational levels
  • (NA) the need to take action”

According to the article, Arnall devised the formula for a travel company that wanted to know the peak times that people book vacation getaways. Wow, nothing like adding an exotic vacation that you can’t afford to help you feel better when you are depressed!

I don’t mean to make fun of people’s depression and anxiety. It is a serious problem, especially if you suffer from it. But the truth is that the world has little hope of finding a lasting solution. Compiling debt to treat the blues only compounds the problem. Similarly, medicating depression and anxiety with pharmaceutical drugs or other substances only treats the symptoms, not  the cause.

Christians are not immune from depression, especially if they engage in the same destructive financial and emotional behaviors as unbelievers. But the believer possesses a solution; we have a prescription from God Himself. When believers focus their attention on the Lord (and repent of sinful behaviors when necessary) they have this promise:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

This is the only lasting prescription for peace. I have used it in heavy doses. I am thankful for that the law of diminishing returns doesn’t apply to Scripture and that we could never overdose on it. I am a living testimony that the promise of this verse works better than any drug the world could offer. I have literally experienced physical relief from anxiety as I clung to that verse. And the beauty of it is that there are no side effects. Stay your mind on Jehovah and He will keep you in perfect peace.

Dr. Timothy Juhnke is the Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church

Posted in: Biblical Counseling, Christian Living, Pastor Tim

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Our Daily Bread

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

Every morning before school my dad led us in devotions.  He always read from a little devotional booklet called Our Daily Bread.  Each day it had a few verses of Scripture usually accompanied by a brief – and sometimes interesting – story for application.  Admittedly, I probably enjoyed the stories more than anything, but looking back I am extremely thankful for those mornings.  First, it established in my mind honor for God and His word.  It also established a routine – I knew every morning what we were going to do, and my dad knew every morning what he was going to read to us.  But perhaps more importantly than anything, it modeled for me what would become a lifelong pursuit:  Daily encountering God through His word.  Our Daily Bread

One of the biggest challenges to daily Bible reading is the lack of structure and routine.  Structure and routine are the disciplines that must accompany daily Bible reading.  Establish a time that you are going to set aside for Bible reading.  Depending on your schedule it may be morning or evening; but get a time established in stone and keep it!  Secondly, I strongly encourage that you find a daily devotional that will help direct you every morning.  There are three very helpful resources that I strongly recommend.  We have a couple copies of these in our bookstore, but they can be purchased at almost any major book outlet.

I highly recommend any one of the following:

  • Strength for Today by John MacArthur.  This is an excellent devotional.  MacArthur has written a devotional for each day of the year.  There’s not a lot of fluff here.  Solid Bible teaching and application.
  • Read Through the Bible in a Year by John Kohlenberger.  This is a very inexpensive investment that will reap tremendous dividends.  Kohlenberger provides some brief background to each book.  Each day has a reading plan – that if followed for a year – will result in having read through the entire Bible in one year.  Maybe this could be your New Year resolution!
  • For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word by D.A. Carson.  In an effort to help preserve biblical thinking and living, D. A. Carson has also written thought-provoking comments and reflections regarding each day’s scriptural passages. And, most uniquely, he offers you perspective that places each reading into the larger framework of history and God’s eternal plan to deepen your understanding of his sovereignty—and the unity and power of his Word.

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We Believe . . .

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

As our older sons are serving in the military, Lori and I have been involved in trying to find good churches for them to attend.  It has been, sadly, a very difficult job.  The internet is an amazing tool to advertise, promote, and find a church, and it has helped us immensely in acquainting us with churches in their perspective areas.  One of the first things I want to know about a church is what do they believe?  Ironically, that seems to be information that churches are less and less concerned with sharing.  I am suspect of a church that doesn’t publicly declare its creed.  Jesus taught that Christians are set apart from the world by truth (John 17:17).confession

A statement of faith should serve two basic functions:  First, it provides an outline of the church’s theology.  This outline serves as a parameter for the preaching and teaching ministry of the church.  Prospective attendees should be able to get an idea of what the pulpit ministry of a church is like by looking at their confession.  Secondly, a statement of faith also serves to protect the church from false teachers and heresy.  The statement of faith is a “not welcome” sign to wolves parading as sheep.

I am thankful that if someone is considering FCC in the Kansas City area they won’t have to look hard to find out what we believe.  Of course, it is possible that a statement of faith can be forgotten or neglected or become irrelevant through lack of use.  This is one of the primary tasks of the elder:  to guard the deposit of truth (1 Tim 1:3-11; 2 Tim 1:13-14).  And we have to remember that statements of faith themselves are not inspired, they must be continually checked and reformed according to the infallible rule of Scripture.

Here’s the link to Our Confession of Faith:

http://www.fcckansascity.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/confession.pdf 

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Your Greatest Threat

Commencement Address for Faith Christian Academy’s Class of 2007

It is an honor for me to address the graduating class of 2007, even though, frankly, I am not very adept at the hoo-ra-rah, motivational addresses that many graduates would probably expect.  I often tell the church I pastor that one of the reasons I preach from the Bible every week, Sunday after Sunday, is because without the Bible I honestly would not have anything to say.  I am not a profound person.  I am not very talkative.  I am definitely not a good story-teller. And I am not very wise in worldly matters.

As a speaker you often fret because you want to say something meaningful and memorable.  But for this occasion some of that consternation has been tempered because I was reminded this past week that a graduation ceremony is a much like a wedding ceremony:  Nobody ever remembers what the preacher says anyway.

It does not seem that long ago when I sat where you seniors now sit.  I graduated from high school in 1985.  But I guess that is another sign of old age when twenty-two years ago doesn’t seem that long ago.

1985 was an interesting year.  The price of gas was, if I recall, about seventy-seven cents.  The postage stamp had just been raised to twenty-two cents.  A woman by the name of Madonna started her first road tour.  Trivial Pursuit was all the rage.  Dynasty, Dallas, The A-Team, and Hill Street Blues were the top-rated television shows.  The Mac computer was one year old.  Desktop publishing was just becoming a reality (I had to type my reports on a typewriter with lots of whiteout, or if you were lucky, you could use the newly marketed erasable typing paper – which, by the way, didn’t last very long.)  Al Gore had not yet invented the internet.  No DVDs, iPods, or cell phones.  No caller-id and certainly no flat screen TVs.

Yes, the world has changed much in twenty-two years.  And who can imagine what the world of 2029 will be like?

For the next few moments I will make a meager attempt to articulate for you the greatest challenge facing you in the new world into which you will shortly be thrust.  And, by way of inference, I hope to demonstrate to you how this school – your education – has prepared you for this challenge.

I will address you in a style you are now familiar with – in the style of Classical rhetoric – by way of proposition and proofs.  My hope is that the logic is sound and convincing.

I believe the greatest threat you face is the most subtle threat ever to face a generation.  Your greatest threat is not a rogue terrorist, or a renewed cold war with Russia or China; it will not be an economic recession or hyper-inflation; it is not global warming or any other environmental concern.

My premise simply stated is that the greatest threat facing your moral, intellectual, and spiritual well-being is the culture of amusement, the culture of endless fun and infinite distraction.  I am, of course, not the first to suggest this.  It was “prophesied” in the 1950’s (about the same time as the advent of television) by a non-Christian, Aldous Huxley in his book Brave New World.  Huxley argued that in the future men will not be controlled by inflicting pain, but by inflicting pleasure.  He saw that people would come to love and adore the pleasures and technologies that undo humanity’s capacity to think.

Huxley’s premise was revisited in 1985 by Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death.  Postman saw that Western culture had moved away from the printed word to the electronic image, and subsequently turned all of public life and discourse into a form of entertainment – everything from education, religion, and politics (I would even add to that list eating – our children need Happy Meals just to get them to eat their hamburgers).

A related premise can also be found in Allan Bloom’s 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind which is a scathing critique of American institutions of higher learning.  And from a Christian perspective, Mark Noll sounded a similar alarm in 1994 with his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.  According to Noll, the scandal of the evangelical mind is, ironically, that there is no evangelical mind anymore.  Christians have simply stopped thinking.

So Christians and non-Christians alike have recognized that the culture of amusement and entertainment has made a coup de taut over America’s mind, without a shot ever being fired or an ounce of blood shed.  The constant indulgence of amusement and entertainment has sucked the intellectual and spiritual life right out of us.

And the reason the threat is so insidious is because it is virtually impossible to take seriously.  If I were to warn you about a terrorist threat or a grave environmental concern you could see the obvious harm.  But how do you warn somebody about fun?  About having a good time?  About such trivial things like TV, internet, and iPods?  Would you take a doctor seriously if he said to you, “I have some very bad news for you: You are going to die a slow, pleasure-filled death.”?

But the effects of the culture of amusement have been absolutely devastating upon the mind, soul, and faith of this generation.  You are entering into a world that has not only lost its desire to think, but the actual capacity to think!  You will be immersed in a culture controlled not by thinking but by feeling.  It is not swayed by arguments or logic, but by images and sound bytes.

Although there are many examples, I offer to you two proofs of the closing of the American mind; one example from political discourse, the other example from religious discourse.

In the world of politics we would only have to go back about one hundred and fifty years to the Lincoln-Douglas debates.  These debates represented the typical political process in American at that time.  Debates such as these were immensely important in deciding critical issues facing the country.  In many ways, these debates represented America’s pastime.  It was a diversion from their work.  They could leave their fields for a break from the hard labor.  One could even argue that these debates were a form of entertainment in the 19th century.

Lincoln and Douglas actually debated each other many times, but the format was always very similar.  Douglas would speak first for an hour.  Lincoln was given an hour and a half for his rebuttal.  To which a half hour was given for his response to Lincoln’s rebuttal.

One such debate took place on October 16, 1854 in Peoria, Illinois.  During this debate Douglas took three hours to state his political positions.  At Lincoln’s turn, he noted that he would need at least as much time as Douglas and that the time was already about 5 p.m.  So he suggested that the audience take a break to be refreshed by dinner and return for the conclusion of the debate.  When the audience reconvened after dinner, Lincoln spoke for four hours.

Let’s put the political candidates aside for a moment and focus on the audience.  Who in the world were these people who could endure seven hours of political oratory?  Were they professional politicos or party-hacks?  No!  They were just common, ordinary citizens who had the fortitude and desire to follow seven hours of political propositions, proofs, and logic so as to be a properly educated voter.  By any of today’s standards, these people possessed extraordinary attention spans!

Soon we will face our own Presidential elections.  It is remarkable how vastly different the format will be.  Typically, the first candidate will be given five minutes to state their position.  The other candidate will be given one minute to rebut.   Is it possible to present serious political discourse in five minutes?  Absolutely not!  Thus, serious political discourse is reduced to sound bytes and images.

Why are these debates so short?  For one, political discourse makes for terrible television.  But more importantly, American’s don’t have the desire or capacity for such serious discourse!  Who would sit and watch seven hours of real political debate on television?  The closest we come to serious political discourse in American is found on C-SPAN.  But who watches C-SPAN?

I tell you, Americans have not only lost their desire to think, they have lost their capacity to think.

 In the world of religion, I suppose we would only have to go back to Colonial America and cite such men as Jonathan Edwards or George Whitefield among many others.  Many of Edwards’ sermons are still in print today.  And I can tell you that his sermons are taxing even to the most astute theological minds of our day.

But I would rather go back farther to an even more primitive people.  To a people who had none of the technological advances or media stimulations that we enjoy today.  I want to take you back to the remnant that returned to Jerusalem during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (circa 5th Century B.C.).  Let me share with the description the Bible gives of one of their assemblies.  I read from Nehemiah 8,

8:1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. 2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.[1]

Nehemiah and the other scribes taught the people literally from “early light” until midday – a minimum of six hours!  Nehemiah 8:7-8 states that during that time Nehemiah and the other scribes, “explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place. 8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.”

These people listened to six hours of biblical exposition!  Could you find one congregation in America that could endure such a mentally challenging feat as listening attentively to six hours of biblical exposition?  As a preacher myself, I can tell you that many preachers would be run out of town if they dared to preach more than twenty minutes!

I tell you again, we have lost not only our desire to think, but our capacity to think!  We simply cannot bear the heavy burden of thinking anymore.

Now I know I must shortly conclude this address, for I am sure I have already taxed our delicate attention spans.  But I need to explain that I am not against having fun.  There is a place for fun and amusement.  However, from personal experience I can tell you that life is not always fun.  Life is full of moral, social, political, and theological complexities that require the hard work of thinking.

As seniors at Faith Christian Academy you are successfully graduating from an institution that has trained you to think.  You have been compelled to read widely, to reason logically, and to speak articulately.  I believe you are eminently prepared to rise above the prevailing culture and lead it.  You will be like cream that rises to the top!

Many of these students have said that they will never be able to watch a movie or listen to a commercial the same again.  They are always evaluating and probing it for the worldview behind it.  Seniors, you graduate from this institution equipped to think critically so that you will not fall prey to political pundits or slick election sound bytes.

In a word, you have been trained to think as Christians.  You now must learn what it means to be a Christian lawyer, a Christian doctor, a Christian politician, or a Christian astronomer.  But you have been given the tools to discern what that will mean in whatever field God leads you.

We bid you farewell with the great expectation that you will make a lasting impact upon a deeply broken culture.  So, on behalf of the faculty and the staff, I salute you!  I tell you a job well-done!  May God graciously and abundantly bless each one of you!

Thank you.

 

Copyright © Timothy P Juhnke

[1]New American Standard Bible . 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic edition.) (Ne 8:1). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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“The Mystery of Preaching” and Why You Should Pray

I recently read an article by Art Katz entitled ‘The Mystery of Preaching[i];’ it is one of the best articles I have read in recent memory.  I had hoped to refer to it in the message about the spiritual apathy in Sardis, but I ran out of time.  This article gave words to things I have only been able to feel but not articulate.  Allow me to quote a paragraph:

Preaching is a struggle and an ultimate challenge every time it is undertaken. One can make many good biblical statements, but that is not the same as communicating the Word as God’s word… It is a mystery, and the whole church needs to have a standard set before it higher than what it has understood, and to realize the patent impossibility [of proclaiming the] Word of God as the Word of God. We dare not come up to the platform, open the Bible, clear our throats, call the congregation to attention, pray a prayer, open our mouths and commence without a terrible sense of foreboding of all of the great weight that falls upon that moment. If it is not the Word of God, there will be a form of death going forth, instead of life. There is no neutrality here. Either it is going to forward the life of God, or there is going to be a numbness and dullness by just hearing something that is ‘merely’ good. We would probably be better off not to hear it at all!  Silence is more to be desired than a mere good sermon, which cannot communicate the Life of God as God’s Word. The result is a deadening of spiritual sensibility.

Perhaps Katz is speaking something akin to what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 – the gospel ministry is to some an “aroma from death to death” and to others “from life to life.”  It was the last line of the paragraph that struck deep within my soul:  SILENCE IS MORE TO BE DESIRED THAN A MERE GOOD SERMON, WHICH CANNOT COMMUNICATE THE LIFE OF GOD AS GOD’S WORD.  THE RESULT IS A DEADENING OF SPIRITUAL SENSIBILITY.  In the past I have said several times from the pulpit that a truth-preaching church is one of the most dangerous places in the world. But if Katz is right, do we dare contemplate the potential ramifications within our own assembly?  The mystery of preaching is why we need to pray.  Pray for your pastors and teachers.  If the Spirit doesn’t empower and animate our proclamations, we are nothing more than sermonators.  And sermonators only kill.

~Pastor Tim

[i]The entire article is found at http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=412

Originally appeared in the May, 2010 newsletter

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