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    Elders' Blog - Entries from August 2012

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    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). 

    ThuThursdayAugAugust16th2012 Life lessons from two ladies

    I had an unusual experience this week of visiting with two ladies on the same afternoon. I read Scripture and prayed with Louise Robertson, who at the time of our visit was seemingly a short time away from entering the presence of Jesus after a long battle with cancer. Surrounding her bed were loving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her devoted husband of 62 years. Louise was finishing well a life of faith and love.

    A few hours later I found myself sitting in my son’s home visiting Ella. Ella, at the time of our visit, was 6 days old, and her accomplishments in life are described in terms of weight gain, diaper changes, and minutes not sleeping. The joy was almost indescribable of holding, touching, and talking to my granddaughter for a few minutes that afternoon. (Talking to babies and answering for them is an entirely different subject worthy of its own blog post—or of therapy!) Ella is just beginning her life of faith and love.

    The wisdom writer connects these two experiences with the following teaching:

    A good name is better than precious ointment,
    And the day of death than the day of birth.
    It is better to do down to the house of mourning
    Than to go to the house of feasting,
    For this is the end of all mankind,
    And the living will lay it to heart.
    (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2)

    One Bible teacher in commenting on this passage writes, “Nowhere in human experience is there a wider gap between theory and practice than in the way we respond to personal difficulties.” The point is found in the parallel comparisons. What are the most profitable, transforming, faith-deepening, and Christ-magnifying learning experiences in our lives? If we are not careful we will tend to focus exclusively on external beauty (precious ointment/perfumes), birthdays that celebrate progression in physical dimensions, and abundance (feasting). The wisdom writer teaches us that the greater lessons of life and faith are not learned there.

    Wisdom calls the child of God to the challenges of building godly character (a good name), the weighty and crucial issues of the meaning of life and prospects of eternity (day of death), and those times in life that make you cry (mourning). These are the transformational and faith-expanding moments which allow us to embrace a God who is at work to save us from sin and small trust. Jesus said that people who mourn and hunger are blessed.

    Neither of the two ladies I visted this week said anything to me. However, both speak clearly to me and anyone else who will “lay it to heart” that God is to be feared and he is the only one whose opinion ultimately matters (12:13-14). As delightful as the birth of a baby is, there is far more to learn from the other visit. Let’s pray and continue to encourage each other to approach difficulties with such expectations.   

    FriFridayAugAugust10th2012 Staying in sync?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church 0 comments Add comment

    While I may not know much about Olympic pairs diving or how my electronic devices work, I can tell when they are not in sync. Staying in sync as a church family is far more important and requires considerable effort. Psalm 133:1 might as well read, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers are in sync.”

    Staying in step with each other in times of transition and change depends on everyone’s participation. Over the next several weeks we are planning various venues both to share important information and to interact as a church family. We encourage you to do your best to set these dates and times aside on your schedule to stay informed as we move into our fall season.

    Sunday 8/12: The Elders are calling a congregational meeting at 11:20 in the sanctuary to share an announcement that is important for the entire church family. Regular classes will meet at 10:45 with an early dismissal for this 11:20 meeting.

    Sundays 8/19, 26 and 9/2: Each of these Sundays the 10:45 hour will include the following components to help inform, connect and mobilize our church family for growth and ministry. Please consider staying a bit longer these days (parents still pick up children from nursery or classes at appropriate time) as the opportunities to fellowship and connect will be significant.

    • Combined Adult sessions in the sanctuary to explain and interact about some improvements to our Adult discipleship ministry that is done through our Adult Bible Fellowships and Small Groups.
    • A KSBC Ministry Fair will be available in the Ministry Center each of these Sundays during the 10:45 hour. The Ministry Fair will have displays and information available for many of the ministries of KSBC. It will be an opportunity to gather information, ask questions, sign up for groups, and interact with others. The combined adult sessions in the sanctuary will not take longer than 30 minutes with the intent to give opportunity for everyone to go to the Ministry Fair.
    • Plenty of tasty refreshments will be available at the Ministry Fair to encourage people to hang out together for a while.

    Sunday 9/2 Family Gathering: We will take a significant portion of the time in this meeting to answer questions and interact as a church family regarding anything from service time changes to parking to future direction. We are looking forward to this time of conversation – it is vital to staying in sync.

    The greatest force for synchronization in our church and world is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we submit to his control. Humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with each other in love – the Holy Spirit enables us to stay in sync. Please join the conversation here at KSBC over the next several weeks. 

    ThuThursdayAugAugust2nd2012 Has the teacher taught?

    What do you think? Should school teachers be held accountable for students’ poor test scores? Are preachers responsible for an apathetic response to preaching? Are Sunday school teachers answerable for so many church kids growing up and walking away from the faith?

    The question is this: has a teacher taught if the student has not learned? How thinking and behavior are changed is not only a question for educators; it should be carefully considered in the matter of discipleship and spiritual growth, as well. A danger at KSBC is that with all the wonderful classes, groups, meetings, teachers, and curriculum at our disposal, we may assume that people are learning and that thinking and behavior are being changed.

    Please think with me about some thought patterns that need to change if we want to experience spiritual growth in our lives and families. Our minds must be stirred up about these things lest we settle for the false assurance that when teachers teach, people are changing. When thinking about spiritual transformation and the opportunities offered at church, consider these adjustments in perspective:

    Participate rather than attend and go home. As a child I used to get prizes for perfect attendance at classes at church. That sends all kinds of wrong messages unless learning to sit in meetings is your objective. Whether it is asking questions, encouraging others, reading the lesson material, speaking up in the discussion time, memorizing the verse, prayerfully expecting to learn, or taking notes—participate. Assuming you are learning because you are there is not only foolish, but it actually promotes pride and self-righteousness.

    Connect the truth learned to life rather than leave it at church. Two examples may help. First, Jesus teaches (Luke 6:32-42) that learning happens in the context of responding to people who have hurt you with forgiveness, mercy and love. That is both very real and hard to do. Consistently addressing the “speck” in your eye is essential; we sometimes refer to it as personal application. Second, connecting truth to life for a parent and family means staying closely attached to what is happening in the children and teen ministries. Parents are the primary disciplers of their children. Team up with the children’s and teen ministries to ensure that truth taught is connected to life for your children.

    Cultivate relationships rather than remain in your comfort zone. There is no escaping the fact that spiritual growth is dependent on connecting not only with truth, but with other people as well. God has designed your spiritual journey to intersect with others in such a way that you will learn from them, by them, and with them. Our recent sermon series in the Psalms reminds us of the importance of intentional God-focused dialogue in each other’s lives as we journey together toward God. Approach the quiet person, greet the new person, be open to the inquirer, be patient with the annoying, encourage the sullen, celebrate with the happy, and pray with the weak. You will grow thereby.

    I'm praying with you that as teachers teach and learners learn, our loving Savior and Lord will be seen.

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