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    ThuThursdaySepSeptember28th2017 The Spiritual Discipline of Eating
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Community Meals 3 comments Add comment

    After returning recently from a visit to some ministry partners in Italy, I’ve been asked multiple times about the highlights of my trip. And although there are plenty of great things I could share, what has consistently been my number one answer is this: the meals.

    If you’re a fan of Italian food, you might suspect that I say this because of the quality of the food I got to eat. And in part, you’d be right. (I’ll never forget the Neapolitan pizza with buffalo mozzarella that I had for lunch one day in Verona!) But even more than the succulent flavors that were introduced to my taste buds, what stood out to me the most was the fellowship and friendships that I witnessed around the table.

    It’s easy for us to think of eating as a purely utilitarian activity. We do it to keep our bodies going. Sort of like putting gas in the car. Maybe that’s why we grab food on the run and frantically stuff it in our faces while hurrying between appointments. Or why we eat frozen TV dinners in our pajamas while binging on Netflix. We eat because we have to.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    One of the beautiful things about the community of Christ followers I got to hang out with in Italy was how gifted they were at transforming meals into sacred events. In the numerous occasions I got to eat with them, I didn’t just witness eating. I witnessed people lingering over meals, savoring precious friendships, cultivating a spirit of community, reveling in a raucous, well-told story, and serving one another with Christ-like compassion. Gathered around a table full of delicious food and drink, these brothers and sisters didn’t just refuel their bodies with calories, vitamins, and nutrients. They refueled their souls with fellowship, conversation, and laughter.

    And it got me thinking: Why don’t we do more of this in our own lives?

    I suspect that much of it can be traced back to cultural reasons. We’re a fast-paced, high-performance, one-the-go society. A prolonged, relaxed meal with lots of people talking simply feels inefficient to us.

    But I suspect there might be spiritual reasons too. And to prove this, let me pose a fairly straightforward question: What are the most spiritually significant things you’ve done this past week?

    If you’re like many Christians, your list consists of things like praying, reading the Bible, serving in the church, sharing the gospel with a friend, or listening to a sermon on the radio. All of those are great things.

    But what probably won’t be on your list is eating.

    It’s not that you haven’t eaten. That’s not the issue. The issue is that you don’t see your eating as a spiritual activity. It’s just what you have to do to not be hungry.

    But you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to see that the Scriptures present eating as a pretty big deal to God. And therefore it should be a big deal to us.

    When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, what did they do? They instituted a meal that would be observed annually. When the prophets spoke of the coming kingdom, how did they describe it? As a feast of rich food and aged wine. On the final night of his earthly life, what did Jesus do? He shared a meal with his disciples. When the early church gathered, what was one of their core activities? The breaking of bread. And these examples hardly scratch the surface of what the Bible has to say.

    God knows that we have to eat. He created our bodies such that they require it. But he’s a generous and joyful God, so he allows this necessary part of our lives to also be a delightful occasion for sharing with loved ones, welcoming friends, building community, and celebrating God’s provision. He renews us physically and spiritually through the meals we enjoy.

    In his book A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester speaks to this idea. He admits that church can’t be reduced to meals, but he maintains that “meals should be an integral and significant part of our shared life.” He goes on to assert, “Community and mission are more than meals, but it's hard to conceive of them without meals.”

    There are plenty of things a healthy, vibrant local church should be doing. But let’s not overlook one of the simplest and most enjoyable of them all: eating!

    ThuThursdaySepSeptember21st2017 Margin for Messiness

    Junior High was a crazy season of life. Shivers. What a time!

    It represented one of several “coming of age” points, stepping stones where I made conscious decisions about who I was, what I believed, and who I would become. We all have those moments. They are essential and valuable.

    At that time in my life, I was surrounded by a great family and a great church. They did a wonderful job guiding me in my development toward pursuing God. But, for some reason, I felt paralyzed to express the doubts I was having about God, faith, and the Christian life.

    It became a significant internal struggle. I never took the step toward talking with anyone about it. I didn’t think I could.

    That was my fault, even as a youth. There were plenty of people around me that I could have brought the struggle up with. But I didn’t feel any margin, any space, any freedom, to express my messiness. I felt like I had to look like I had it all together.

    Now, I am almost 39 years old. I am a husband, and parent two young boys. I am a disciple-maker and am paid to do so as a career. That means I come in contact with many men, women, and children on a weekly basis and connect with them at key points in their walk with God.

    Junior High Abraham was messy. He was full of doubts, sin, fear, and grief. Thirty-nine-year-old Abraham is messy. He is full of doubts, sin, fear, and grief. You as a reader are full of doubts, sin, fear, and grief. I get that. My question is: How do I (and how do you) make a margin for the messy, making space to express the ugly stuff we tend to hold inside?

    It doesn’t matter how old we are. We learn to put on masks and put up a false front that we are all okay and that there is nothing to be concerned about. This takes place throughout our days, in the workplace, on Sunday morning, in Care Group, and over a meal with a friend.

    I want to create space for messy moments. Are there questions we can ask that give others permission to reveal their mess? Is there anything we can do that tells others we are a safe place to talk about messes with? Can our children tell us they struggle to believe in God? Can our neighbor comfortably share his struggle with pornography?

    I have a lot of growing to do in this area but I want to create margin for the messy.

    Here are some ideas that I have:

    1. I need to own my messiness. I struggle with doubt, depression, grief, and sin. I am not above anyone. I am no less messy than anyone else. By acknowledging that daily, I am moving into my own messiness and I believe that will fashion me into a more approachable person by default.
    2. I need to be vulnerable with my messiness. This is a scary one to me. It will backfire at times. I will share with someone who will hurt me. But my identity is in Christ and I can trust him to care for me in those moments. The grenades that go off will be far fewer than the moments of ministry that take place as my life intersects with the lives of others. By trusting others with the deep places of my heart, others will see that they can trust me with their own.
    3. I need to invite others to share their mess with me. There is a caution here. I am never entitled for someone to share the depths of their soul with me. Even a simple question may come across as too aggressive for someone who doesn’t want to be vulnerable. However, gentle questions and looking for opportunities, founded on humility, can pave a road toward transparency. This is not to mention budgeting time to genuinely listen to what they share.

    It’s not rocket science. I have a lot of learning to do. But I invite you to create margin for messiness within your own circles of relationships.

    ThuThursdayOctOctober13th2016 Bringing Joy

    “Happy, happy, joy, joy.” It was a song from a cartoon I grew up watching. In fact, I owned the soundtrack of the show and listened to the song over and over again.

    The best part is when the artist stops the song and yells, “I don’t think you’re happy enough!”—after which, the singers belt it out with twice the volume and intensity.

    It’s a funny thought—working hard to create joy, as if we can muster it from some inner depth at will. For me, that most often translates to a lame attempt at having control. If I can just control people and circumstances, then I’ll experience joy, I often think. But that monster is never fed enough.

    So, where does joy come from? My Care Group recently studied the topic of joy, searching for what the Scriptures have to say. And, while there are multiple avenues of joy from a biblical perspective, the one that struck me the most was the joy that comes through relationship with other believers. 

    Paul connects joy to those he invested in: “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (Phil. 4:1). These disciples were his joy. He had been a part of their conversion and spiritual growth, and they were joy to him.

    Paul connects joy to fellowship: “Though I have much to write to you…I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 1:12).

    Paul associates joy with seeing disciples remain connected to the truth of the Gospel: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

    This is good news for us. It means that community as a church family is key to experiencing real joy. This points us not only to Sunday morning, but to all opportunities that take place throughout the week. As a believer, I contribute to other’s joy and they contribute to mine.

    I’d like to suggest three simple, practical ways to help bring joy into the lives of others.

    1. Initiate time together. We live in an over busy culture. Time is a commodity. To some, it is of more value than money. You can have an immense impact by making time for others. Initiate time with other believers. Connect over coffee, lunch, or a walk with the strollers. Share what God is doing in your life and be a source of joy.

    2. Give testimony. If Paul was stoked about disciples walking in the truth, any time we do the same we bring joy to others. Give testimony about what God is doing in your life. Make it public. Brag about God and what he is doing in your life. If there is an opportunity to tell others what God is doing, do it. Whether that be at an open share time, in your Care Group or Connection Hour, don’t hold back. Bring joy to others.

    3. Encourage and affirm. Recently, at a retreat, we took some time to publicly encourage and affirm fellow believers. It was awesome. Each comment came like rapid fire on the heels of another. One after another, men kept encouraging one another and acknowledging that God was at work. Bring joy to others by sharing what you see God doing in and through them.

    Don’t waste another moment. Be a source of joy to those around you.

    WedWednesdayJunJune22nd2016 Planting Roots in a Restless World
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Change Community 1 comments Add comment

    As a sports fan, I should know better. But at the end of every season, I’m always surprised at how quickly the pundits start talking about offseason changes.

    Just this week, the NBA season wrapped up as the Cleveland Cavaliers won an improbable championship, and the very next morning, I found myself reading about all the projected shake-ups that we could expect in the coming months. This player will be a free agent. That player will go looking for a higher salary. Other players will be traded. At the end of every season, movement is the name of the game. No team’s roster ever looks the same from one season to the next. And if your favorite player is the one headed to a new team, well that’s just too bad.

    Love it or hate it, this perpetual transience in sports is simply a reflection of a broader cultural restlessness that influences all of us. In olden days (so I’m told), it was typical for someone to grow up, get an education, raise a family, work a career, and retire—all in the same town. Those days are long gone. In fact, statistics suggest that the average American will move twelve times during his or her lifetime. And whereas it used to be normal for a worker to stay with a single job for two or three decades, most Americans now will have moved on to new positions within four or five years.

    We seem to be continually in flux. And it raises an interesting question for those of us who follow Jesus: How can the church maintain a sense of community in a world where everything is in constant motion?

    The Bible repeatedly calls God’s people to be champions of love and commitment. We’re not just passing strangers. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. And given that familial bond, there’s an expectation that the quality of our relationships will be of a certain depth—a depth that likely won’t be attained by simply waving at each other as we scurry along in a hundred different directions.

    In a culture defined by transience and change, the church needs people who will consciously—and often sacrificially—plant roots. While the church must never lose sight of its role as a sending community commissioned to launch people all over the globe for maximum kingdom impact, the reality is that we still need people who will dig in, make a commitment, and give themselves to the slow but significant labor of building a Christ-shaped community right where they are.

    So if you’re one of those people, how exactly do you do that? Let me suggest a few quick ideas:

    1. Plant geographical roots. I realize that there are all sorts of valid factors that can necessitate a move from one town to another. But what if the church as a whole became a community of people marked by the counter-cultural desire to stay put? What if we settled in and really invested into our neighborhoods and our city over the long haul? Imagine the possibilities of such radical commitment!

    2. Plant vocational roots. For some, it might not be realistic to live in the same city for a long time. But perhaps you can still plant deep roots in the workplace. While most people are jumping from one job to the next, Christians could be people known for their resilience and commitment in their careers. Even if your job takes you to another city, you can have a big impact through faithfully serving your employer and your colleagues.

    3. Plant relational roots. Let’s be honest; some change is inevitable. It simply may not be possible to stay in the same city or the same job for your whole life. But even if God moves you, don’t use a change in location as an excuse to start over relationally. Continue to encourage and pray for the believers from previous chapters of your life. Continue to invest in and show love toward the unbelievers. Be an enduring friend, regardless of where you’re living.

    From my vantage point, the world is only going to get more transient. But that doesn’t mean we need to be swept away into a disembodied Christian existence.

    The church has no offseason, no free agency, and no trade clauses. So unless (or until) God directs us elsewhere, let’s plant roots in whatever soil we can find, building up communities that are strong enough to withstand change, faithful enough to make a difference, and long-lasting enough to have stories to tell.

    ThuThursdayOctOctober22nd2015 Growing Together in the Word

    I have the privilege of leading a Discipleship Group with a few guys. We meet once a week to encourage one another and discuss the Scriptures. I love it. It’s a highlight of my week, every week (even at the early dawn hours we tend to meet).

    One early morning, after entering Panera, I found my seat as usual and waited for the guys to arrive. One by one they came and sat down, all of us wiping the sleep away from our eyes. As I was about to take a bite from my Cobblestone (that really gooey clump of wonderful), I noticed two familiar faces, but of guys not in my D Group. You don’t expect to see any other human being at that hour, let alone someone you know. But, in walked Andy and Morgan. Come to find out, this was a regular event for them. They had been meeting weekly to read the Bible together and encourage one another. I know them both well. They have been a part of the Kossuth family for quite some time. Morgan has mentioned several times how much he enjoys that interaction over God’s Word.

    They’re not the only ones. This is what God’s people do. We are creatures of the Word, and the very fact that God calls us not to walk with him alone, but together, drives us toward engaging the Scriptures with family and friends.

    I recently reviewed a book called Rediscovering Discipleship by Robby Gallaty. I recommend it on a number of levels. But at one point I was struck by the reminder that God’s Word is powerful enough to bring dead people back to life. “Two spiritual parents, as with human conception, must be present for spiritual birth to take place: the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Through prayer and Scripture reading, God may open the hearts and minds of lost people for repentance and faith” (190). It’s as James says, “Of his [God’s] own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18).

    This same Word, by which we are spiritually reborn, is also what helps us grow. Life comes from God’s Word as the Spirit uses it in our hearts. So why not bring it into the relationships you have? Those of you who already practice this already know the benefits.

    Let me paint a few pictures to give you some ideas of how to incorporate reading one-to-one in your life:

    1. Consider Andy and Morgan’s model of meeting weekly to read a chapter and discuss it. And that’s not all they do. They catch up on one another’s lives and challenge one another. But the Word takes center stage. You don’t need a seminary degree to do this. Nor do you have to have been a Christian for more than 30 seconds.
    2. Join a Care Group if you are not already in one. Our small group structure includes pairing up and reading one-to-one in between meetings.
    3. Consider teaming up with another family to participate in family devotions together. You could alternate over two occasions to engage the Scriptures together, but also to steal ideas from one another.
    4. There are so many new families here at Kossuth. Consider taking it upon yourself to invite someone to meet you for coffee and read together. That would be an incredible way to get to know someone on a deeper level.

    Regardless of how it looks, do it. Look at relationships you already have (with believers and non-believers) and bring the Word of God into them. 

    First, initiate. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. Take it upon yourself. That’s loving people. Send an email right now to one person you could read with.

    Second, set a date. Get it on the calendar pronto before the idea slips away.

    Third, enjoy. Start at Mark chapter one if you don’t know where to begin. Enjoy a deeper relationship, with God’s Word at the center.

    You won’t be disappointed.

    ThuThursdayAprApril23rd2015 Does God's Love Abide in You?
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Community Generosity Love 0 comments Add comment

    “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

    In the sermon this past Sunday, we spent some time considering these sentences from Acts 2, which describe the early church as a radically generous community where possessions were shared, resources were given, and needs were met. It’s a beautiful picture of camaraderie and love.

    It’s worth pointing out, however, that this description of the early church stands in direct opposition to the cultural narrative that has shaped so many of us. The logic of the American Dream says, “If you worked hard for it, you deserve to enjoy it.” We’ve been told that everyone has equal opportunity, and those who get ahead do so as a result of their superior resolve and dedication. If you have resources, you’ve earned them. It’s not your fault that other people didn’t work as hard as you.

    It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Christians who are more influenced by this value system than they are by the gospel will inevitably fail to realize the type of community that Acts 2 describes. So long as we’re governed by a sense of merit, we will have no room for any common sharing of resources. After all, why would I give my hard-earned [fill in the blank] to someone who doesn’t deserve it?

    But Christians who are compelled by mercy instead of merit will readily give themselves for the good of their brothers and sisters. Consider this paragraph found in 1 John 3 (verses 16-18):

    By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.

    Does God’s love abide in you? If so, it will reveal itself in action. You’ll be quick to give, quick to share, quick to serve. Your relationships will be saturated with love—the same kind of indiscriminate, excessive, scandalous love that the holy God of the universe has shown to vile, wicked creatures such as ourselves.

    But if, on the other hand, the wisdom of the world is what drives your attitude, well then that will reveal itself in action, too. You’ll be closed off to the possibility of generosity. You’ll cling to all you can get your hands on. You’ll operate by a system of who deserves what.

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones once remarked, “The men and women who truly believe and know that they are forgiven by God as the result of God’s infinite grace are the people who have the love of God in their hearts, and that love is bound to show itself.” Maybe there’s something to that old adage after all; maybe actions really do speak louder than words.

    What do your actions say about the presence of God’s love inside you?

    WedWednesdayMarMarch13th2013 Invite Me In
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Evangelism Love 1 comments Add comment

    Being friends with tax collectors and sinners was a reputation that Jesus worked hard to earn and maintain. How surprising it is for religiously self-righteous people to ultimately discover that Jesus did not come to crush the sinful and honor the righteous. We all struggle with the reality that Jesus expressed extravagant mercy toward sinners and transformed them while being dismissive and intolerant of those who viewed themselves as good people (Matt. 9:9-13; 11:19).

    There is a huge danger that we at KSBC might lose the heart of Jesus and the gospel for lost people. It goes beyond whether we are or think we are a friendly church. We are talking about aligning with the heart of God expressed in Jesus’ description of his mission when challenged by the “you are too friendly with sinners and too dismissive of my righteousness” crowd. Jesus essentially stood strong and firm that the bulls-eye on the target is people who need the help that only he can give (Matt. 9:12-13).

    The video below is useful to challenge and expose our sensitivities toward people who are not like us. It zeroes in on helping church people connect with people who need Jesus specifically around the Easter weekend. We know that extending mercy in the name of Jesus to outsiders is a 24/7 opportunity, but we also recognize that Easter is a time when people may be uniquely open to spiritual or religious matters. Watch and listen to the clip before thinking through some application ideas with me.

    The video clip stimulated my thinking in ways that can be expressed by 3 “friend of sinners” diagnostic questions to help us lean toward the heart of Christ:

    1) Do you see people? Whether at church or in any environment, do you notice the person that may not fit, may feel awkward, is not comfortable or has reason to be self conscious? On more than one occasion, Jesus called his followers to lift up their eyes and look; we don’t see the potential harvest opportunities right in front of us. Try looking around the room this Sunday morning and take note of what you see.

    2) Do you care about people? Jesus saw the crowds and was stirred to his core with compassion. I am not quite there yet. I don’t think he relied on his supernatural x-ray vision to see and react in ways that we are not able to. He saw people like doctors see sick people and like shepherds look at helpless sheep. People need help. List on a piece of paper the people within your sphere of influence who have moved you to compassionate prayer and courageous involvement in their lives.

    3) Do you have room for people? Jesus often was found having meals with irreligious people. His intent was to seek and save as many as possible. Measure your margin. Do you have 10 minutes to talk with someone you do not know? Do you have room in your Sunday morning routine to help someone find where they should go? Do you have time to connect a person with someone who can answer their question? Do you have enough space to take someone you have just met to lunch or connect with them in a redemptive way later in the week? Do something about your margins.

    Praise God for his love for sinners. Let’s continue to grow in passing that focused love on to people he brings into our church and lives. This isn’t just about being friendly; it’s about being spiritually sensitive to those around us.

    ThuThursdayMarMarch7th2013 Keen to Prayer and Praise
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Prayer 0 comments Add comment

    Christians pray and praise. They really enjoy praying and praising together. Prayer and praise are two of a handful of signature marks of grace listed in Acts 2:42-47. If you are drawn toward and desire to grow in prayer and praise, you very well may be a saved-by-God person. If you lack this desire, you’re probably not. Both prayer and praise are expressions of a heart changed and redirected toward God. Knowing that so many of you delight in prayer and praise, here are a few simple reasons to be encouraged and energized.

    This past Sunday at Family Gathering we introduced our Family Gathering prayer guide. The purpose of our monthly Family Gathering prayer guide is to keep our church family aware, connected and encouraged in prayer regarding various needs around KSBC. The FG monthly prayer guide will address a broad range of issues, decisions and concerns that call our church family to prayer for wisdom, direction and provision.

    For example, our children’s ministry leadership needs to make some decisions regarding possible ministry for this summer; the FG prayer guide encourages our church family to pray about this. This prayer guide gives church leadership a venue to involve the congregation in prayer for decisions or special needs they may be facing. We ask that you please use this guide throughout the month in personal, family, or Care Group times of prayer. This monthly guide is in addition to our existing weekly prayer guide (which you can access each week through the Weekly Web Update). We trust these guides will prove to be helpful as you fellowship with others in fervent, believing and persistent prayer.

    While I am on the subject, remember the various opportunities for you to gather with other KSBCers to pray and be encouraged in prayer. Currently a group of men meet Tuesday at 6:30 am at the church to pray (this prayer meeting began over 30 years ago), a group gathers for a brief study and prayer time on Wednesday evening at 6:45 pm, a group meets to pray each Sunday morning in room 110 at 8:45 am, and each of these are in addition to times for prayer in your Connection and Care Groups. Please let me know if there are other groups meeting for prayer and I will pass on the invitation to the church family.

    How about a recent reason to praise God? Last week we learned that we would not be receiving the usual funding grant from a local foundation for our campus internship program. The reasons are all related to the economy, smaller returns, and limited resources. After carefully reviewing our commitments to our current interns and realizing that by God’s grace we are okay through the end of the year, our thoughts turned toward all that God has done in the past 13 years of the campus internship program, largely due to the generosity of this foundation and the faithful ministry of KSBC.

    If my memory and notes are correct, our partnership in molding students for gospel ministry began with a grant in 2000 and continued with annual grants through 2012 (maybe skipping one year) for a total of $420,000. The campus internship program through those years has impacted 27 students with 19 of them currently serving or preparing to serve as pastors, missionaries or teachers at Christian universities. The objectives of our internship program continue to be reaching students through students, discipling students in a local church context, producing Christian leaders, and giving students opportunity to explore vocational Christian service.

    It was quite praise and prayer provoking to be reminded of the many lives KSBC has had the joy of shaping toward the gospel to magnify Christ in his church over the years. Please pray for our student ministry leadership as new interns are coming along and new funding sources are necessary.

    Praise the Lord! Let’s pray!

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary31st2013 The Information Desk
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community News 0 comments Add comment

    I was simply trying to visit a girl who had been in a car accident. It was a Sunday afternoon many years ago in a small county hospital south of Dover, Delaware. No one was at the information desk. I thought it couldn’t possibly be that hard to find someone with information to send me the right direction, so off I went. I remember going through a few sets of doors and making a few turns in the hallway and then seeing a room with lights on and hearing voices in the room. Thinking that I had found help, I walked into the room and found myself instead in the middle of someone’s surgery! Before I could identify what body organs I was staring at, the surgeon strongly urged me (he used some bad words) to leave and a nurse who looked like a Colts linebacker grabbed me by the arm and escorted me back into the hallway. She slammed the doors shut and there I stood, wishing there had been someone at the information desk.

    While getting good information is not the end-all of growing loving relationships, it is certainly a key component. Building each other up in love is dependent on the hard relational work of taking responsibility to get good information.

    The main objective of our Family Gathering this Sunday (at a special time of 5:00 pm) is to share some important information and to encourage each other with ongoing ways to keep significant conversations going and get questions answered. The elders will give an update on several issues including hiring staff, youth ministry direction, doctrinal statement agreement, timing of new elder appointments, and how to keep the flow of information and dialogue going in a beneficial way.

    Because some have expressed interest in further dialogue on questions and concerns before us, we want to provide as many opportunities for that as possible. While public forums and large group Q&A are effective for some purposes, they are not wise or effective as ways to share concerns, communicate clearly, and dialogue about misunderstandings or disagreements. The healthy exchange of information requires us to move from 150+ people talking to each other to smaller group or individual settings. These settings will both connect you directly to the people who have the information and provide a better context to be heard and understood. To that end, we are asking you to continue these necessary conversations in these ways:
    • The Elders will begin setting aside time in one of their monthly meetings on an ongoing basis beginning in March for anyone who wants to schedule some time to interact.
    • A few elders (deacons are invited to participate as well) will be available to meet on Wednesday evenings during the month of February with those who sign-up through the church office.
    • As always the elders will gladly interact with any Care Group as invited to do so.
    • The elders will meet individually with those who schedule an appointment through the church office.
    • The Parent Support Team will make themselves available to interact with those with questions about youth ministry.
    • The Crosswalk Board will make themselves available to interact with those who have concerns about Crosswalk.

    I trust that these will be profitable times both to clarify concerns and to build genuine excitement about what God is doing in and through our church family.

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary17th2013 Refreshed!
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Encouragement 0 comments Add comment

    What do Stephanas, Fortinatus, Achaicus, Philemon, Onesiphorus, and Sue have in common?

    A major theme of the Scriptures that is communicated through the good news of the gospel is that of rest and refreshment. Whether it is the weariness of labor or the fatigue brought on by sin, we are urged to find rest and refreshment. The promise of God is refreshment (Jer. 31:25). The promise of Christ is rest (Matt. 11:28-30). In fact, refreshment is one of the measurable benefits of Christian fellowship (Philem. 1:7, 20).

    What refreshes you in the midst of your busy week? Where do you go for rest when your heart and mind are weary? Who would you choose to hang out with when you need to be made fresh again in your faith, love, or obedience?

    This topic stumbled into my world this week in the form of the flu. Thankfully, it was the one-day kind. I can’t remember the last day I spent sick at home in bed – all day. I was hurting, without energy, unable to do much at all, and groaning for relief. One friend describes the experience in a sort of biblical way: “kneeling before the great white throne.” I was (and am still) amazed at the refreshment I received from my wife Sue during that miserable 24 hours. It was such that I actually found myself praying for people who have to experience the flu alone—without Sue! I’d wake up to see on the nightstand a glass of water, a glass of Gatorade, a glass of Coke, a cup of tea, a thermometer—knowing that jello, crackers, ice packs, and special sick day DVDs were only a few steps away. Are there any sweeter words to hear when in a vomit-induced coma than, “Poor Donnie, can I get you anything?”

    Being sick and feeling like you have been run over by a truck is no fun. There are many analogies in the Scriptures of sickness and weariness describing our spiritual journey. The gospel is refreshment and rest. God’s people are the delivery systems for rest and refreshment into each other’s lives. If you were to take the time and find in the Bible each of the guys whose names are listed in the first sentence above, you may notice an interesting truth that I am trying to learn.

    It seems that Paul highlighted these brothers as refreshment-givers because he knew he needed more of it from them. Paul knew he needed refreshment and that the stimulation he needed could not be found in time away from people. The refreshment he needed had to include people, refreshing people! As a matter of fact, he encourages us to honor or acknowledge refreshers in a special way–that’s how important their job is (1 Cor. 16:18).

    Let me give you three take aways. First, to answer the question, “What do Stephanas, Fortinatus, Achaicus, Philemon, Onesiphorus, and Sue have in common?”—they are all noted refreshers of people. Second, you are a refresher as well. Look around you and help make someone fresh in the Lord again. Allow your devotion to Christ and his church to energize others in a personal way. Third, you need refreshment. Find a refresher and invite them into your life to help you recover, reinvigorate, and renew your strength. You will find those people in prayer meetings, Care Groups, and placed around your life by our God who gives refreshment.

    ThuThursdayDecDecember6th2012 Redeeming Church Conflicts
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community Conflict 0 comments Add comment

    The title of this blog post is the title of a book I am reading, the subtitle of which is “Turning Crisis into Compassion and Care.” While we are experiencing some changes as a church and some evaluation on the part of some church members as to how they fit at KSBC, the case studies mentioned in the book of churches in conflict are far more developed and painful. However, the book is helpful whether we consider ourselves in conflict presently or not. Close and committed relationships like those found in a church family are always prone to be tested by conflict, disagreements, and misunderstandings (Phil. 4:2-3). Here’s a helpful quote from the introduction to the book:

    One of the most common emotions people feel when facing serious church conflict is hopelessness. Often this is because conflict puts blinders on our eyes and tempts us to isolate ourselves into self-protective groups who agree with us. In our passion to defend our position, we develop tunnel vision that clouds our judgment as we focus our time, energy and emotions almost exclusively on temporal matters. Things of heaven, theological truths about God and his church, even a passion for bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved, all begin to fade from focus as positions become entrenched in daily battles and we experience despair.

    This is a wise and helpful warning both for ourselves and for our understanding of those we are trying to lovingly encourage that may be experiencing some form of conflict. Helping entrenched people is what we do and who we are—after all, we are the church. The book suggests three “best questions” (Prov.20:5) to guide us toward redeeming our conflicts and disagreements.

    Redeeming conflict question #1: Can we pray? Right now. Together. About this. Let’s think about God and talk to him together about the feelings and tensions being experienced.

    Redeeming conflict question #2: What are you learning about God? Right now. Through this. Talk about the one who is bigger and stronger than you. Don’t be distracted from the purposes of God who is behind the scenes of every detail of your life. Include with this one what is being learned about church, the role of church leadership, and the commitment of membership.

    Redeeming conflict question #3: How can this conflict advance the cause of Christ? Right now. Because of this. Through you and your response. People are watching you with the potential of glorifying God in heaven as a result of your choices and responses.

    Better to be somewhat prepared don’t you think? Just in case you happen to be in the neighborhood of church conflict, take a deep breath and start asking questions. Wonderful, marvelous grace—we grow to value Christ as we point each other to our trustworthy heavenly Father by listening well and asking “best questions” such as these. 

    ThuThursdayOctOctober4th2012 Come for Supper

    Imagine Mrs. Romney texting Mrs. Obama this message: “M’s home tonight, why don’t you and B come over for supper?” In addition to all the obvious reasons, this would not happen because parties actively opposing one another are not expected to seek or enjoy each other’s presence. Coming over for supper is loaded with meaning most of which has nothing to do with food.

    Jesus commanded (a rather compelling invitation) his followers to come to supper. At times I find myself deeply concerned that many of our church family miss out on the blessings of participation in the Lord’s Supper. At times a lack of planning or effort on my part may cause the time at the Table to seem like a less than thoughtful tack-on at the end of a meeting. Some may view participation as a simple or sterile function of obediently downing a tasteless cracker and some juice. Let’s consider in a fresh manner why the Lord Jesus has invited us to supper with him and each other on a regular basis.

    I am currently benefiting from a group of guys who meet on Wednesday mornings early to work our way through Wayne Grudem’s book Bible Doctrine. This week, from the chapter on the Lord’s Supper, we reviewed these 7 benefits or truths that are symbolized and affirmed as we participate at the Table of the Lord.
    1. We symbolize and proclaim the life transforming death of Jesus Christ.
    2. We participate (take) in the benefits of Christ’s death for ourselves.
    3. We receive spiritual nourishment for our hungry and weary souls.
    4. We give clear evidence of our unity with one another.
    5. Christ affirms his love for you.
    6. Christ affirms that all the blessings of salvation are reserved for you.
    7. We affirm our faith in Christ.
    Add to these the opportunity to express our thanksgiving and you begin to see how essential this meal is to maintaining and growing our love for Christ.

    Two take-aways come to mind.

    Our church leadership needs to increase our efforts to schedule, teach, lead, and present the Lord’s Table in clear and compelling ways. It is too easy to allow something so crucial to become routine and done in a less than thoughtful manner. Please pray for us and help us as you are able.

    Second, our church family should elevate their view of the Lord’s Supper in such a way that they joyfully participate whenever called upon to do so. The invitation and announcement of the Lord’s Supper here at KSBC should be an irresistible and attractive ‘come for supper’ for every one of us direct from our Savior himself.

    See you at supper this Sunday at Family Gathering!
    ThuThursdaySepSeptember20th2012 Gospel-Sized Giving
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Generosity 0 comments Add comment

    As a young youth pastor at a church in southern New Jersey, I was given opportunity to meet an unusual man whose job was playing basketball professionally for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA. When I saw that he and his wife actually filled out a visitor card after visiting a Sunday service, I immediately became a part of the visitation ministry and called on them in their new home the following week. While it was pretty heady stuff for me trying to keep my sports idolatry in check, my visit with this couple is the first time I remember ever being exposed to someone who understood and practiced a radically biblical approach to their finances and giving.

    I mentioned in last week’s blog post that we would come back to the following quote from a book many in our church family have read called Radical by David Platt:

    Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?

    The question is radical simply because it goes directly against the current of our self focused free enterprise expectations. The question is helpful because it fleshes out the teaching of scripture regarding what it might look like in practice to be free from the love of money (2 Corinthians 9:11).

    While not nearly equal to what sports professionals are paid today, the salaries of NBA all-star caliber players in the early 80s were impressive. What I learned about this couple—I forget how or why it came up—was that they had determined to limit their lifestyle by living on a portion of his salary so they could enjoy the freedom of giving and investing in gospel ministry in various ways. The radical contrast was seeing a person with a huge income living comfortably within seemingly unnecessary limits for higher purposes related to the world to come.

    Four concepts from 2 Corinthians 8-9 help us remember that we are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others in a global and gospel manner.

    Sacrifice (2 Cor. 8:3): The impact of sacrifice is measured by what you are unable to do that you can afford to do but you can’t do because you choose to advance the kingdom through your giving. You gave your excess away.

    Generosity (2 Cor. 8:2, 6-7): Generosity is all about responsiveness to grace. Our giving is driven by our assessment of and appreciation for how much we have been given.

    Liberality (2 Cor. 9:6-7): Liberality is all about attitude and joy. Reluctance and pressure characterize the giving game player who participates for reasons other than a genuine response to God’s love and grace.

    Investment (2 Cor. 9:10-15): Grace giving is called “your confession of the gospel of Christ” which yields compounding returns for you, others and the glory of God. Giving causes others to thank God, how much is that worth?

    Let’s pray for and encourage one another in this war for our hearts and money. Wouldn’t it be something if your giving and lifestyle choices made a gospel-sized impression on someone?  

    ThuThursdayAugAugust30th2012 Petitions and partitions
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Sanctification 1 comments Add comment

    Compartmentalize! It’s a lot of letters for a bumper sticker but it’s not a bad slogan for many who like to divide their lives into categories or separate spaces. We who desire to love and serve Christ are notorious for this kind of partitioning of life into various parts. It is what sucks the life out of the Christian life.

    I thank God for the growing evidence around our church family that walls are coming down. In ever expanding ways, we seem to be as comfortable in meaningful conversations about the teachings of Christ and the wonders of redemption as we are weight loss and busyness. A humility and amazement at God’s loving kindness appear in our disagreements and private conversations as well as in our corporate worship. Husbands and dads are asking hard questions about being a servant leader 24/7, rather than simply when the spotlight seems to be on them. Our hearts were not made to be partitioned to accommodate many rulers. Our Lord Christ makes us whole. Authentic is attractive.   

    If you have been hanging in there with our 1 Corinthians sermon series you remember that the Corinthian church’s root problem was all about compartmentalizing their lives into the sacred and the secular. They were convinced that Christ and the gospel were necessary for certain parts of their lives, but when the pressure was on they needed separate rooms for their favored teachers, secret sins, love of the world, and arrogance toward authority. Rather than seeing themselves as called and complete in Christ together with each other, they lived divided lives.

    As we begin our year of Connection Groups and Care Groups, let’s continue to live out our calling together to decompartmentalize our lives under the life-giving lordship of Christ. What does it look like to help each other in our community groups to promote life rather than drain life? Three contrasts must be kept in mind and consistently acted upon:

    In Christ vs. My Identity. There is nothing more draining and stifling than a group of self-focused people intent on being themselves. Pick up your cross daily and be who you are, united with Christ—the one who loved you and gave himself for you. Be a Christ follower rather than a mom, husband, welder, grandparent, student, or worker who also happens to be a Christian.

    People vs. Event. This is a vision thing. Do you see people as individuals with needs, or do you attend meetings, events, and groups? Begin or renew your commitment to drawing life from and giving life to your church family one person at a time.

    Blessing vs. Obligation. This is similar to the previous one, but I said three contrasts and I meant it. Cleaning the bathroom is a duty. Going to the dentist is a requirement. Living the new life Christ made possible through his suffering with others is a blessing. People around you should see that distinction.

    Please continue to work and pray for our developing community at KSBC. “Oh God, help us to break down our walls and unite our hearts together around you” (Psalm 86:11). 

    ThuThursdayJulJuly19th2012 Refreshment

    Perhaps you remember the scene from the Western movies where the disheveled guy staggers into town, sage brush bouncing in the background, as he gasps in a barely audible voice: “Water, water, wat…” Miserable and thirsty he is desperate to find a drink of water…only to find that the town is deserted and the wells are dry. If you haven’t seen a scene like this, you might be able to imagine it, especially with the heat and lack of rain we have been experiencing this summer. The drought is the topic of constant conversation and an inescapable focus of observation—from the TV and newspaper talking about it to the diminishing level of the Wabash River to the brown grass in our front yards to a simple chat with a local farmer.

    So why would I be writing about the drought? Because it got me to thinking about the refreshment of water. In the past several weeks, as I have gone out each evening to give the flowers and plants around my house a much needed drink of water, the thought has occurred to me of how refreshing the water pouring from the watering can in my hand must be for these plants which have been out in the scorching temperatures all day. This led me to ponder our God-given privilege of ministering to one another in the community project called the church. When was the last time you went to church thinking to yourself that someone might actually be staggering into the worship service, Adult Bible Fellowship Hour, or Small Group miserable and thirsty, begging for a drink of water (spiritually speaking, of course)? For that matter, have you ever thought of yourself as being like a watering can full of water, with the spiritual capacity to give refreshment to those in need?

    As I have enjoyed listening to the teaching of Paul Tripp during the 10:45 hour on Sunday mornings and engaged in the lively discussion with the groups of which I have been a part, I have gone away refreshed.

    • Refreshed by the presence of those who have chosen to make a priority of being there to learn together with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
    • Refreshed by the willingness of many who have come to make comments and ask questions to spur on the thinking of others.
    • Refreshed by the way the Lord, in ways that only He can, has orchestrated the preaching we heard in the previous hour with what the teacher Paul Tripp on the video series has taught.

    We have several more weeks of the Paul Tripp series: “Your Walk With God is a Community Project.” If it hasn’t been your practice to date, I encourage you to join us for the remaining weeks. Be refreshed by those who come ready to pour out onto someone who is parched and in need of the refreshment that a cool shower of water can be to a growing plant which has experienced the scorching sun of summer.

    Philemon 1:20: Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

    FriFridayJunJune29th2012 Called to relationships
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community 0 comments Add comment

    I hope and pray that you are beginning to get the idea. 

    Whether it is in the sermon series from 1 Corinthians, the "Your Walk with God is a Community Project" adult class at 10:45, the leadership class of 20 men meeting each Sunday morning, or the change to one service, our desire is to understand and build a greater network of caring relationships at KSBC. We want to sharpen our thinking and expose independent notions as we grasp our calling with a growing allegiance. That calling is stated in 1Corinthians 1:2: called to be saints together. 

    I encourage you to participate in the Sunday morning sanctuary class. It is not too late to begin attending and learning about the importance of relationships to your faith journey. There are extra copies of the DVDs and some audio CDs available through the church office for your use if you desire to catch up, review, or use because you are unable to attend at 10:45 on Sundays.

    The Leadership class that is meeting is quite exciting. It is genuinely encouraging for me to be a part of a group of men who are wrestling with what it means to lead and guide others in their walk with God. Leading people in a growing relationship with Christ assumes movement and change in those people’s lives. Being connected both to shepherd-like leaders and to other Christ followers is crucial to our growth to maturity in Christ. Godly and skilled leadership is essential to productive community.

    In addition to learning about spiritual leadership, this class is fine-tuning a few structural issues that will allow for our small group ministry and Adult Bible Fellowships (ABF) to connect and align for greater effectiveness. We are looking forward to launching both the small group and ABF ministries at the end of the summer with a few new adjustments that we will share more about as they are clarified by the leadership class in the weeks ahead. Please pray for this class as God brings them to mind.

    All of that to say, our hope is that after the summer vacations are thoroughly enjoyed and we settle back into our carefully thought-through routines that your calling to live and die for Christ with others will be clearly seen in your commitment to relationships and community at KSBC. 

    Remember to contact the church office for copies of the video or audio material that you may have missed from the Sunday morning class. Also, in case you have not had enough about relationships from Paul Tripp, I was really encouraged by this article that you might want to check out. 

    FriFridayJunJune15th2012 The liberating power of a disruptive question
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Sanctification 0 comments Add comment

    I remember a time early in my teens when I was disobedient and disrespectful to my mother. I said things to her that reflected my foolishness and rebellion. A while later at the trial, my dad began the prosecution’s case against me by appealing to truth. He did so with a convicting and clarifying question. The more I reflect on this (for some reason it has remained quite clear in my memory all these years), I have come to appreciate the disruptive power of a well-placed question. His question was, “Do you have any idea who you were talking to?”

    Even as foolish as I was, I couldn’t reply with the obvious and literal, “Come on Dad, you know who that is—you are married to her!” That response not only would have cut my trial short, but would have missed the point of the question. The question clarified my theology about God and mothers and holiness. There are some things even foolish young teens should not dare to do because of the truth about parents and God. This is the disruptive power of a question.

    I feel similar disruption of heart and mind with the piercing questions found in 1 Corinthians 3:3-4. After describing the behavior and slogans of the Corinthian church members, the questions are asked:

    Are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

    Are you not being merely human?

    These questions force us to identify the ways and working of God in our lives. What gives evidence of the supernatural in our daily grind? The essential point of the questions is to shock us into realization that as God-called, Christ-following, Spirit-indwelt people, we have chosen to behave and think in a manner disconnected from our gospel heritage. 

    So, regarding your response to those who have hurt you, your generosity in unstable times, your humility when challenged, your words when aggravated, your response when provoked, your thoughts when enticed—can you be accused of being merely human? Or as my dad might say, “Do you have any idea who you are choosing to leave out of your life right now?”

    A significant challenge that many of us face is that of allowing people into our lives who will ask us disruptive questions which are totally motivated by truth and love for us. That is one of the benefits of being called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ; we shouldn’t be allowed to live in self-reliant isolation. Over the summer, please join me in asking God to faithfully visit us as we focus in our Sunday 10:45 hour with adults and teenagers on learning to open and connect our lives to other Christ-focused people. And pray for the leadership class of about 20 men who have set aside these summer Sunday mornings to learn to lead and encourage this kind of authentic community in our church family.

    I thank God for disruptive questions from people who love me and love truth. I thank God for my dad, and that by God’s grace I made it alive through that incident to repent and honor my mom.

    WedWednesdayMayMay23rd2012 Diapers and car keys
    byTim Depue Tagged Community Family Parenting 0 comments Add comment

    This combination could bring memories of a midnight run to the store to prevent an unexpected disaster at home. While that may be a noble act by a young parent, what brought this to my mind was a combination of events that happened this past week.

    Last Saturday KSBC hosted the first “Growing Families” milestone dinner for parents of newborns. During that time those of us who are more seasoned as parents interacted with our younger counterparts about different issues relating to parenting. Good questions caused me to dig back and think through what and why we did things years ago with our children. But predictably most of the questions were focused on how to start parenting well.

    The next event on my calendar was taking my youngest child for her driving test. This rite of passage is the first major step toward independence with all the freedoms and responsibilities that come with adulthood. What struck me was the similarity between my concerns and those of the younger parents. As I am faced with being the parent of an adult child, the same questions ran through my mind. Am I ready for this? What can I do better? Who will help me?

    In the middle of all this, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:33, where the apostle Paul points out the importance of the company we keep. Who we spend time with will influence our choices and behaviors. As parents we often think of this when screening our children’s playmates and choosing their education environment. But this is also true for parents. To be the best parent at any stage we need not only godly people around us but also godly people who have already walked the road before us and will share what they have learned. We need the church to be more than a building we go to, but a group of people we experience life with. We need the classes and fellowships, the lessons and encouragements—not only as a person but also as a parent.

    The company of older generations can help give us confidence that we will be ready and will do things well. At the same time, as we take our turn in helping in the nursery, the children’s classes and teen activities, we not only can know what our children are learning, but we can learn from others how to help our children grow and learn—giving and sharing ideas to help us prepare our children for the life God has for them.

    The distance from diapers to car keys may seem long and bumpy from the start, but in looking back, for Val and me, the company of being in a church has made the road much more smooth and enjoyable. 

    WedWednesdayMayMay9th2012 Make the best of change
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Community 1 comments Add comment

    Of the many possible “take aways” this cartoon humorously captures, one is that change can be a hard thing to process. Opportunity to grow, serve or advance in holiness is a terrible thing to waste. We are commanded to redeem or make the best use of every opportunity that comes our way as we recognize the harsh realities of the world we live in (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). 

    Each of us has a blessed opportunity this week to rethink and renew how we approach and participate in "church" at KSBC. A blessing of the service time change is that we have opportunity to connect the dots in a fresh way between all kinds of mundane and eternally important questions like what time do we have to get up Sunday morning? Why do we "go to church"? What is our role in the church? Here are a few specific suggestions to consider in taking full advantage of the opportunity before you.

    1. Think and talk together about what the church is. Is it something you attend, a place to go, some meetings to check off, or a community that you joyfully participate in? Consider that this may be a good time to upgrade your understanding and respect for truths found in Ephesians 4:11-16, Hebrews 10:23-25 and what we are learning in our 1 Corinthians study. The gathered church has a special honor that needs to be protected and preserved in our busy and sometimes profanely distracted lives.

    2. Plan to expand your outreach. First, think of who in your sphere of influence you could prayerfully invite to come to church with you so that they will be exposed to the church, experience the church gathered, and be drawn to the church’s Head, Jesus Christ. We have regularly heard testimonies of that taking place. Second, once you have walked into the room where the church is gathered, pick a new neighborhood to sit and sing in. Your old friends will understand that you are not forsaking them. We all understand that we are on mission to spread the beauty and joy of Jesus, even when the church gathers.

    3. Grow (even more) in serving others. This is a great opportunity to break out of old habits and begin new determined and intentional ones. How can you be the presence of Christ to this wonderful community of God called people? Sundays are a gathering of people who need to hear from God and you that the gospel is worth living and dying for. Please consider how you intentionally stimulate and love others in such practical ways as arriving early, parking far away, engaging others in encouraging conversation, singing loudly and all that stuff that loving families do for each other because of God’s great love.

    Please pray for me and my family as we rethink our Saturday and Sunday routine with the goal in mind of participating in our church community for the greatest glory to God and the greatest joy for ourselves and others. Back to the cartoon; see you this Sunday morning some time!

    WedWednesdayMayMay2nd2012 A community project
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community Sanctification 0 comments Add comment

    When most Christians think about growing in their faith, they sometimes leave out one of the most important means that God has provided; our friendships! God unites us to Christ but also places us within a community of faith where we influence one another in profound ways.

    Who are your closest friends at KSBC? What role do they play in your spiritual development? How do they help you love God and people? Who would name you as their friend at KSBC that helps them grow in grace?

    Growth in faith and Christ likeness is a community project. Isolation and individualism lead to ineffectiveness and barrenness. The contribution of others in the church family is absolutely essential to your becoming the person God has called you to be. The list of ways that God has designed for a committed community of believers to shape your life is impressive. The list would minimally include prayer, encouragement, correction, burden bearing, teaching, confession, and rejoicing together.

    Our desire is for our church family to grow in community. By that we mean a discernible movement from isolationism to redemptive relationships. There is so much to learn about these kind of redemptive relationships that actually “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25). This kind of stimulation implies a transfer of energy from someone else to you. When we isolate ourselves from other believers by merely attending services and classes, we literally and sinfully unplug ourselves from a God ordained source of power for our growth in holiness and love. When we restrict our relationships to surface or shallow involvement, we short circuit the work of God in our lives.

    To encourage our growth in this we are planning to use a 10-week DVD series at our 10:45 hour this summer entitled Your Walk with God is a Community Project by Paul Tripp. For the summer months, all teens through adult classes will meet together in the sanctuary for a 25 minute teaching time followed by breakout groups for discussion and application. This will be a great opportunity to hear clear Bible teaching and massage it into our behaviors and relationships. 

    Paul Tripp is a highly respected and qualified Bible teacher. Many of you have benefited from his books War of Words and Age of Opportunity. You can read more about this video series here. You can also read a recent article by Tripp that I found very helpful here. In addition to the quote at the beginning, here’s another that I thought was worthy of jotting down from this series of talks: "God has called us to intentionally-intrusive, Christ-centered, grace-driven redemptive relationships."

    Please pray for and plan to participate in this significant community project this summer here at KSBC.
    FriFridayAprApril13th2012 Church meetings
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community 2 comments Add comment

    Last December the Elders began a process of evaluating our meeting times and structure with the goal in mind of better matching our values of being a gospel driven church with how we currently do church – meetings, times and weekly opportunities, for example. We sincerely believe that this is a crucial conversation with significant potential for growth and increasing effectiveness in reaching and discipling people. The topic has provoked a good bit of interest and sharing of personal perspectives.

    Since the first of the year, the Elders appointed 12 KSBC members to participate as an Advisory Task Force (ATF) to evaluate service models, to serve and advise the Elders as a voice of input and reason and to recommend a preferred service structure that will position us to realize our ministry values.

    The ATF has been meeting weekly since early March. It is quite an eclectic group as there are young and old, early service and late service attenders, men and women, children’s ministry workers and senior saints workers and KSBC veterans alongside newcomers. Two Elders have been meeting and interacting with the group as well. I am extremely grateful for and encouraged by this prayerful group of KSBC’ers who have taken to heart this crucial task. Please pray for this group!

    Two quick thoughts to stimulate our thinking while we wait to hear more from the Elders and ATF in the coming weeks:

    First, it should be obvious that service times and structure are limited in their impact on producing or encouraging real life change. For hearts to be stimulated and lives to be changed in increasing ways, more than meeting times must be addressed.

    Second, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s people are to meet regularly for specific purposes. No mention is made or directions are given as to times, length, or number of meetings (although Acts 20:7 is interesting). What is both quite directive and compelling is the ‘devotion’ that God’s people are to have to such meetings. Acts 2:42 describes the devotion believers had to meeting together for teaching, fellowship, eating and prayer. This was something they seemingly saw as primary and built the rest of their weekly schedule around these joyful meetings. Hebrews 10:23-25 teaches the principle that your confidence and hope in God are dependent upon and directly connected to regularly meeting with your church family. The message is clear: be devoted to attending and participating in scheduled church meetings so that you are encouraging others and stimulating them to greater love and service.

    Let’s trust God to clearly unite our hearts around devotion to Him, his word, prayer, and each other in the weeks and months ahead. If we do not guard our hearts carefully, our devotion becomes distracted and diluted, resulting in a weakening of our faith that essentially places a cloud over the beauty and glory of Christ that is to be seen in our lives individually and corporately.

    WedWednesdayMarMarch28th2012 Gracious hospitality
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Community Hospitality 0 comments Add comment

    I recently had the privilege of traveling along with 21 international students and scholars from four countries and three co-laborers to the Washington, DC area for the 15th annual Salt & Light Christian Fellowship Spring Break trip to our nation’s capital: a partnership between KSBC and Fellowship Baptist Church in Northern Virginia. One of the aspects of this trip which has made it a success with the students and scholars year after year is the gracious hospitality offered by the people of God. 

    With each passing year of doing this trip, I grow in my appreciation for these faithful servants who open their homes and their lives, sacrificing of what is perhaps their most precious resource – time. Each year they go out of their way to serve the international students we bring, people they have never before met and may never see again! 

    So this got me thinking about what the Bible says about the important practice of hospitality and the accompanying principles which grow out of these various references to it. I hope you’ll engage with me in a similar evaluative exercise and find, as did I, that the genuine, persistent, loving displays of Christian hospitality are quite instructive and encouraging. 
    Romans 12:13: "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."
    Hospitality is a privilege to be sought out; sometimes arising out of need.
    1 Timothy 3:2: "An overseer must be … hospitable."
    Titus 1:8 – "… [an overseer] must not be … greedy for gain, but hospitable…"
    Hospitality is an essential characteristic to be modeled in God’s church.
    1 Timothy 5:10: "Let a widow be enrolled [to be enrolled to receive assistance from the church] ... if she … has shown hospitality."
    Hospitality is so important in the economy of the church that to not practice it has the potential of bringing a negative result.
    Hebrews 13:2: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
    Hospitality is a privilege from which unexpected blessing can grow.   
    1 Peter 4:9: "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."
    Hospitality, because of its very nature, takes us out of our comfort zone potentially prompting a fleshly response against which we must guard.     
    Traveling back from the Washington, DC area, I started a discussion with one of my co-laborers about this notion of gracious hospitality: What is it, why is it so appreciated by the international students who received it, and how can we practice it? Here’s the list we compiled:
    1. Be genuine and show genuine interest in your guest.
    2. Share family life – traditions, realistic daily life. 
    3. Be a learner – of the individual and their culture.
    4. Be practical, not fancy; think about what would make you feel more comfortable if you were the guest in a new setting.
    5. Be focused on the goal: to show hospitality in the name of Jesus Christ, not to impress people or cook the best meal.
    6. Look for gospel opportunities with your guest.
    7. Pray for them
    Those of us at KSBC have the privilege of being in close proximity to a university that has many students and scholars from other places in our nation and the world. Hospitality is a means through which God’s people can share their lives with these friends from other places. Assuming you are practicing hospitality, how does your practice compare to the principles found in the biblical references to it? How might you allow yourself to be stretched in this important – dare I say essential? – practice?

    I look forward to hearing some of your unexpected blessings as you continue to grow in the Christian practice of genuine hospitality.
    TueTuesdayMarMarch13th2012 Strong men
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Masculinity 0 comments Add comment

    I know I have said this before, but one of my favorite Bible passages is the description of King David’s mighty men found in 2 Samuel 23. I am drawn to it for two reasons.

    First, the descriptions of courage and strength excite and stretch my imagination. One guy remains in combat until he is so weary they have to peel his hand from his sword. My favorite is the man who jumped into a pit to kill a lion on a snowy day – talk about facing multiple challenges all at the same time! These guys reinforce a sense of courage and duty that perhaps was on the Apostle's mind as he wrote 1 Corinthians 16:13. As I slowly ponder these descriptions, my imagination is torn from the passive and selfish model of manhood so prevalent today, and I am drawn to view the challenging and difficult as necessary and fulfilling parts of my calling as a man.

    A second reason I connect with this passage is that these strong, highly skilled and courageous men were identified as being in a group with each other. After one guy is described, the next guy is introduced with this incredibly insightful phrase, “and next to him was....” There was a group of thirty of these men, and within the thirty there was a group of three. Sometimes they fought alone, at other times together, but there is a pervasive sense throughout the passage that these guys actively leaned on each other. It seems that what bonded them together was not their strength and courage but the size and strength of the challenges and responsibilities they embraced. It sounds odd, but it appears that in order to get into this mighty men club, you had to acknowledge that your enemy is huge and that you cannot succeed by yourself.

    At this time, KSBC does not have a “men’s ministry” that meets on a regular schedule with a systematic curriculum pointed toward building strong men. And that may not be as bad as it sounds. There are certainly plenty of ways for men who are convinced that the challenges of marriage, parenting and holiness are greater than snowy pits and lions to connect and strengthen each other. I am beginning to think that men’s ministry best starts with men who acknowledge their weakness and then connect in various ways with other like-minded men to support, encourage, bind up wounds, celebrate, and sharpen each other as they push each other back into the pits and battlefields of manhood under God.

    Men, you can connect with other men at weekly Tuesday 6:30am or Wednesday 6:45pm prayer meetings; or you can plug into the weekly Monday 7am group studying systematic theology. You can also contact Matt Niewedde or Drew Humphrey who will help you form a group of 2-3 men that meet occasionally for the purpose of building into each other’s lives.

    I am encouraged by the few "mighty men" groups that get together at various times and places. And I encourage more men to step up and connect with other men in strengthening ways. Let me or one of the other Elders know if we can help get you connected.

    FriFridayMarMarch2nd2012 Lunch with a friend
    byTim Depue Tagged Community Culture 0 comments Add comment

    This past week I found myself in territory that I had never been in before. (At this point my children might ask if I had finally signed up for Facebook.) The truth is I was still in Lafayette and in a place I had been before. But it was a brand new experience.

    The experience came during lunch with a good friend. While I had eaten at this place before, they now advertised that they served food that was Zabiha. This was a new word for us, so my friend looked it up on his phone and found out that it was referring to food that was prepared a certain way for religious reasons, specifically for Muslims. We continued with our lunch, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that my thoughts had returned to the experience.

    Thinking about the issue of food and religious regulations prompted me to recall 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul addresses an issue that was causing problems for the church. The issue was a division between the believers on the practice of eating food that was previously offered to idols. Some were enjoying the meat, but others were bothered by the thought that it had been part of a sacrifice at the local temple. Paul reminded the believers that all food comes from God and is meant to be a blessing to us. Furthermore, it is the means he has created by which we receive the strength to live and serve Him.

    While there are several lessons and many applications that can come from this passage, what intrigued me was that I was experiencing during my lunch the same reality that the Corinthians were experiencing—the reality of living in a rapidly changing world. Cultures from distant places are being brought together at an ever-increasing speed, and with that we experience a difference of preferences and convictions that can be responded to in varying ways. My response to those points of exposure can be guided either by my sense of cultural comfort or by the truths I have learned and believe from God’s word. My natural response is to retreat to what I know and enjoy as “normal” for me. But what I have found over time is that when I take the time to learn about those things that are new and different, these differences are what God uses to grow and shape me.

    These moments of learning and the experiences of differences offer opportunities to interact with others and share applications of truth from the Bible. This is not to help other people see things my way, but to show how God’s word is relevant and essential to life. It is amazing to see what happens when God’s truth is accepted and practiced.

    So back to my lunch. The meal was good, the conversation was great, and I look forward to eating there again. Even more, I look forward to the next experience that God will use to grow me and maybe those around me.

    FriFridayFebFebruary17th2012 Answering the call
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Faith Prayer 0 comments Add comment

    If you were in services this past Sunday you exercised patience as I read Genesis 14, trying to pronounce the ancient multi-syllable names with the ease of an ancient sportscaster. The multitude of warring city-states, kings, alliances and even the tar pits so strategically used in battle remind us of the complex and difficult world we live in. It is no friend to faith in the living God. Settling down into comfortable, predictable and routinized lives far from those complexities is certainly appealing.

    However, just like Abram, the phone call or email comes to get involved (14:12-13). Like Lot’s situation to Abram, we often are called by God to jump by faith and with faith into another person’s complexities, consequences and choices. Bearing the burdens with someone who is experiencing severe consequences of past choices, overwhelmed with undeserved setbacks or simply being ‘slow to learn’ is a faith assignment that few of us gladly embrace.

    Perhaps as you practice pronouncing ‘Chedorlaomer’ you will be reminded that God often brings bigger faith assignments into our lives than we could ever imagine being prepared for. Remember also, as with Abram, the previous chapters of your faith story have prepared you well for the phone call or email that by God’s design and enablement will change your life, your understanding of God and your influence for God. I thank God for so many of our KSBC family that are fighting the fight and answering the call to live their faith in multi-syllable and hard to pronounce ways. Encourage them. Pray for them. Know that your call is coming.

    A reminder for you. Will you mark your calendar and join us at 645 PM on Wednesday for our Crosswalk prayer time? I understand that many are serving in Awana, and other ministries on Wednesday evening leaving a few hundred of you free to join our effort of seeking God together for this project. This past Wednesday we had the joy of announcing some significant answers to prayer regarding Crosswalk. Please join us as we humbly seek God the next few Wednesday evenings.

    FriFridayFebFebruary10th2012 Sorry, Jay

    In the December 2011 Family Gathering, while leading a congregational Q&A about a recommendation the Elders had just announced, I spoke inappropriately to Jay Casey. I love Jay and Sally and thank God for them. I had no intention in that meeting of hurting anyone, shutting down interaction or appearing impatient with sincere questions. But that is what I did. 

    This past week it has occurred to me that while I have apologized a few times to Jay (and he readily forgave), the larger crowd who was there may not know of my regret and apology, and may have felt offended. We read an apology from the Elders the next week in services but as I reviewed it there was no statement of my personal offense. To those offended, please accept my apology and forgive me for speaking harshly and in an unloving manner in that meeting.

    This is a big deal not only because a pastor sinned with his tongue before the body, but because it reminds us of who we are in Christ and how we are connected in him to each other.

    In true preacher style, consider three ‘take aways’ that are rattling around in my heart from this experience.

    1. I need forgiveness. The display of the glories of God and the gospel among us as a church family is virtually impossible without passing on the grace of release and removal that God has given to us  through Christ Jesus. I need God’s forgiveness frequently. I need your forgiveness at times also. This display of kindness and tenderheartedness is huge (Eph.4:32).
    2. I need to guard my mouth. In my job, James 3:1 serves as a consistent and sobering encouragement. A teacher has considerable influence, along with that greater influence comes stricter judgment. James 3 goes on to teach us that only the wisdom from above can begin to tame the tongue. You know how challenging this is, I needed this reminder to diligence.
    3. I need your prayer.  In the last 7 days I spoke (preaching or teaching) 3 times (a typical week is 3-5 times), participated in 4 administrative meetings, led 1 small group, and had 6 appointments with individuals or couples. Add to that dozens of emails, conversations and phone calls and it becomes clear that I talk a lot (Prov. 10:19). In the spirit of 2 Corinthians 6:11, I open my heart and mouth often and following the admonition of Hebrews 13:18, I need you to pray for me.

    All of these thoughts can be applied to all five of our Elders, all seven of our Deacons, our staff and our entire church family. How we treat each other when we sin against each other is a critical measurement of our connection to grace.

    So, again I’m sorry Jay. Thanks so much for your grace towards me. I’m sorry church family. Thanks so much for years of grace toward me. 

    Psalm 19:14: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer."
    A few words from Jay... My name is Jay Casey, and I approve of this blog posting! 
    WedWednesdayJanJanuary25th2012 A lesson in love
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Forgiveness Love 0 comments Add comment

    Last Sunday evening Christian and Samuel came over to our house. They taught me something about love, especially my understanding of God’s love. I would guess that these little guys are around the ages of three and one. They didn’t ask me how old I am, so I didn’t think it was polite to ask them how old they are. Besides, little kids are always getting asked how old they are, so I thought I would give them a break.

    Whenever little people come over I like to get out the tub of toys, find the blocks, and start building walls and towers with them. Whether it is my grandchildren or just normal kids, every time you get a decent tower built, almost as tall as the little people themselves, they love to knock it over. As tempting as it is to draw some life changing principle from watching kids enjoy knocking stuff down, that’s not what captured my heart.

    What caused me to notice, wonder, and then intentionally test was the repeated number of times one of the boys (I don’t want to mention which one in case they read this—it might embarrass them and they wouldn’t come to my house to play anymore) built a tower as high as his chubby arm could reach, only to have the other boy knock it over. The tower-building boy was completely unfazed, yea even unprovoked, every time the block-buster acted out. There were repeated times—I made sure there were because I had to see how long he could hold out before becoming provoked in some way. The boy was amazing! Time after time he simply picked up the scattered blocks and went back to building. I’ve never seen a kid do that. I can’t do that! My own radically above-average grandchildren knock down my towers and I either tell on them or think bad things about them immediately!

    After spending the week preparing and then preaching about God’s love for me as the source and basis for my love for others, I had an experience with God while surrounded by blocks and little people in the family room. The light sort of came on as I watched the unusual forbearance and patience of this little guy. I found myself wishing I was more like him.

    We are taught that love is not easily provoked. There is something about being hurt, unappreciated, misunderstood, not respected, and even taken advantage of that causes us to react in clearly unloving ways toward those whom we view as against us. Praise God that we don’t have to be that way or live in that exhausting world of defensiveness and tension. There is an unbelievable endurance about God’s love.

    God’s love for us is both forbearing and patient. He does not react to every rebellious miscue as he justly could and he is unbelievably slow to anger (Psalm 145:8-9). His slow-to-provocation policy is for one reason: it gives you and me time to acknowledge our destructive ways and run to him for mercy (Rom. 2:4). Loving Lord, help us reflect your patience with us in our love for each other.

    Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

    MonMondayJanJanuary9th2012 What encourages you?

    A few weeks ago I was sitting in a Saturday morning men’s meeting following Drew’s Bible lesson on my new iPhone (sorry again to you personal device users I yelled at in church a while back). A phrase captured my attention and I drifted away from the speaker for a moment to discover that this phrase is repeated three times in the New Testament. Before I tuned back into Drew, I jotted down the three references for further consideration at a later date.

    Here they are:

    For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [Colossians 2:1-3]

    Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose,  that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts. [Colossians 4:7-8]

    So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. [Ephesians 6:21-22]

    What each passage connects is communication and encouragement. 

    The issues to be communicated range from details about the Apostle’s struggles and concerns for those under his care to seemingly routine stuff of what he is doing and how he is. This does not seem to be intense, outrageously interesting or even necessary information, yet expectations were high. The more church leaders and church members communicated regarding what God was doing in their daily lives and struggles, the more encouraged everyone was.

    Encouragement is an ongoing, regular, healthy and necessary component of our living the life of faith. Our hearts, the operational center of our faith, are like batteries that can be highly energized and productive but can only remain so if regularly and often recharged. The scriptures encourage us, the Holy Spirit encourages us, and prayer encourages us . . . but the truth is that we encourage each other in incredibly effective ways. Apparently, according to these verses, we recharge and reenergize each other by simply sharing our struggles, our activities and how we are doing.

    Encouraged hearts are vital if we are to glorify God together as we lead people in growing relationships with Christ. 

    Thus, we humbly attempt to communicate and encourage by beginning this KSBC Elders' blog. We do desire and pray for your encouragement and ultimately that your hearts will be strongly connected with each other by the mutual experience of God’s great love in Christ Jesus. We grow stronger as we share with each other.

    Please pray for Bill, Tom, Tim, Paul and me, not only as we enter the blogosphere, but as we keep watch over souls assigned to our care here at KSBC (Heb.13:17).

    Elders' BlogConnecting. Informing. Shepherding.