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    Elders' Blog - Entries from January 2012

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    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.

    TueTuesdayJanJanuary17th2012 Arise, my soul, arise!
    byDon Whipple Tagged Encouragement Singing 0 comments Add comment

    Whether you like this song or not, it remains a great song.

    A few years ago at KSBC we learned a new song ‘Arise My Soul, Arise’. It is a bit upbeat, repetitive, and absolutely rich with Christ-magnifying truth. I personally struggle at times to keep up and come in at the right times–I seem to be half of an ‘arise’ late most of the time–but the struggle is definitely worth the effort.

    Two things about the song may help you appreciate it more.

    First, it was written in 1742 by Charles Wesley. It is an old hymn. Just like people, age doesn’t necessarily make it better, but something old is worth special attention.

    Second, the concept of administering strong and frequent encouragement to yourself is a biblical and necessary practice. Telling your soul to arise is appropriate. Singing to the core part of your being the truth about Christ’s effective sacrifice is real worship. You talking sternly to yourself to remind yourself that you are a fully adopted son with all the rights and privileges should happen regularly. Review the words to ‘How Great Thou Art’ and then figure out what ‘then sings my soul’ means and why your soul sings.

    Personal soul singing encouragement, as is done with a song like ‘Arise, my soul arise’ (note you can place the comma in different places) is taught and modeled for us by the Psalmist in 42:5, 11; 43:5.

    Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

    John Calvin, another older person, wrote these words centuries ago about Psalm 42:5 and this practice of singing and speaking truth to yourself when you find your heart weak, weary, uncooperative, unsatisfied or confused:

    In so far as in the exercise of faith he relied upon the promises of God, being armed with the Spirit of invincible fortitude, he set himself, in opposition to the affections of his flesh, to restrain and subdue them; and, at the same time, he rebuked his own cowardice and imbecility of heart. Moreover, although he carried on war against the devil and the world, yet he does not enter into open and direct conflict with them, but rather regards himself as the enemy against whom he desires chiefly to contend.

    Sometimes you are your enemy. You need to rebuke yourself. You need to encourage yourself when you feel like God is far away. You need to sing strongly to your soul to get up, wake up and hope in God. That’s why I like worship at KSBC and this particular song. My soul needs a stern singing to more often than I like to admit.
    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.