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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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In Praise of Christian Rap and Fellowship Groups

By Pastor Tim

I will warn you now this is going to surprise some of you. If you wish to retain a perception of your pastor as a very handsome, somewhat tall, very intelligent, hymn-loving preacher, then you might not want to read any further. If you are still reading, then don’t say I didn’t warn you. I am, in fact, a hymn-loving preacher (the other characteristics are admittedly quite debatable), but some of you might be surprised to know that one of my favorite songs is actually rap. Yes, rap. The kind of music where you talk rhythmically to the beat. For some, it is questionable that you could rightly call rap music. In general, rap has a well-deserved bad reputation. But the rap that I like is a very different kind of rap then normal rap; it is theologically Reformed Christian rap. You might not know that such a beast existed, but it does. And one of my favorite rap songs is “Expositional Preaching” by Shai Linne. It is a song that was inspired by Mark Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. I wish newsletters had soundtracks because I would love to include a link for you all to listen to it. I am sure you would love it. Here is my favorite line:

So let me ask a question: What’s most essential, what is it that gives a local church its potential?
Some would say, ‘Music’, some would say, ‘Deacons’
Other say, ‘Reaching the lost and soul seeking’
But if we wanna give God the glory in our meetin’s
The most important thing is: Expository Preaching!

I believe in those lyrics whole-heartedly. They really define the philosophy of ministry of our church. The foundation of any church must be a faithful ministry of the Word. It is the rudder that steers the ship; the flag that identifies our citizenship. However, and this is a big however, as important and essential as preaching is to the local church, it is not the only thing that is important. Church is much more than just listening to a sermon. Acts 2:42 lays out four pillars of the early church’s priorities:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers

Fellowship – or in Greek, koinonia – was a vital part of the Christian experience. A lexicon defines koinonia asassociation, communion, fellowship, close relationship.” The idea of community or close association with each other was, in fact, a common feature of each pillar. The early church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching together. The concept of listening to a message at home on the Internet would have been completely foreign to them. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper (the breaking of bread) and the prayers were also celebrated in togetherness.

The primary purpose of our small group ministry is to foster close relationships, or koinonia, in the body of Christ. These groups meet in homes throughout the city. Belonging to a small group is not the only way to foster fellowship, but it is an important way.

If you have been attending for a while, but still haven’t landed in a small group, contact Jason Dawson and he will be happy to help you in any way that he can.

In 1822, the English Nonconformist minister John Angell James wrote, “The identifying law of Christ’s kingdom is to love one another; and in order that this love may be more perfect in its exercise, we are united in visible communion.” As Christians, the indwelling Spirit of God is the invisible bond that unites us together. Small group fellowship is one way to make the invisible communion visible.

Dr. Timothy Juhnke is the Senior Pastor at 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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What Do Visitors Think?

By Dr. Timothy Juhnke

As a pastor, I don’t visit a lot of different churches for obvious reasons.  Looking for a church has taken on a whole nWhat do visitorsew dimension for Lori and I as we pray that our older sons find good healthy churches to attend.  Last month I described the importance of a statement of faith for the church.  It should be essential.  But there is more than just creed, isn’t there?  Yes, much more.  Orthodoxy without love is obnoxious.  After scrutinizing one church from afar, and being cautiously optimistic, one son ventured a visit.  It was small – maybe 60 or 70 people.  He sat near the front.  The sermon was decent; the music good.  After the service, he hung around the literature table for awhile and then left.  He probably won’t ever go back.  Why?  They had good theology, but they lacked warmth.  During the entire service, even when he was at the literature table, no one ever spoke to him or greeted him.  My first response was anger; my very next response was, “O, Lord, do not let us be a church like that!”   Please take the time and effort to make the stranger feel welcome; you never know who you might be reaching out to.

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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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