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    Elders' Blog - Entries from March 2013

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    ThuThursdayMarMarch28th2013 Strength from Heaven
    byDon Whipple Tagged Encouragement Faith 0 comments Add comment

    In an amazing moment of transparency in the narrative leading to the empty tomb on Sunday morning, Luke tells us about the appearance of an angel sent from heaven to strengthen Jesus (Luke 22:43). A major subplot of the Easter story is cast in the garden contrasting the disciple’s weakness, weariness, and fear with the courageous, determined, agonizing obedience of Christ. Remember among the last words the disciples may have heard from Jesus before they ran and he was arrested were “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

    One under-appreciated and often neglected component of living for Christ and dying to self is the perpetual necessity for encouragement and strength. Just like our cell phones, we need fresh and regular supplies of energy in order to perform at optimum levels as disciples of Jesus. The scriptures warn us often to “not grow weary” (Gal.6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13), surprisingly implying that we can choose to live our lives regularly refreshed!

    The solution is to strengthen yourself (Heb. 10:23-25; 12:3) by focusing your attention on Christ. While appreciating and feeding on the encouragement from others, it is possible and necessary to be self-strengtheners as well. There are 3 specific ways I was strengthened this week, and I recommend them for your consideration and encouragement, as well.

    Read the Bible. There is nothing as powerfully refreshing than simply quieting your heart before God and listening carefully to him through his words. This week I finished reading the Bible through in a year and it only took me a year and a half! As so many of you know from frequent personal experience, the Spirit from heaven renews you through the scriptures, sometimes to the point where you feel like you are living on wings, like an eagle.

    Expose yourself to good teaching. God has gifted his church with teachers who have a heaven-sent ability to sort through bunches of stuff and make truth taste and satisfy like freshly-baked bread. Currently the gay marriage chatter tends to get me down, it seems so hopeless and complex at times. Of all the good Bible teachers that I regularly turn to for refreshment, I found Kevin DeYoung’s blog posting quite helpful this week. Regularly invite nourishing and trustworthy Bible teachers into your life.

    Find out what God is doing around the world. We desperately need a jolt out of our small worlds to be invigorated by the truth that God is at work in transformational ways around the world, using ordinary people like us to do great things for the kingdom. God used a DVD from the series Dispatches from the Front to shock my system back to a more global excitement. Dispatches is a five-DVD series that takes viewers up close and personal with kingdom workers in hard-to-reach places around the world to see firsthand the powerful things God is doing to build his church. KSBC owns two sets for you to use as you wish, simply contact the church office to get details on how to borrow them. You can find out more about the series and watch a few trailers here. It is an incredible idea for a movie night at home. The two I have watched stirred me to greater commitment and devotion.

    These are simply 3 ways that I was drawn to the risen Christ this week and my faith was joyfully renewed. Don’t miss the strengthening grace sent from heaven to you in various forms for your great joy (Heb.12:15). Strengthen yourself! He is risen!

    TueTuesdayMarMarch19th2013 Unexpected Blessings

    [Guest post from Intern Charlie Armstrong]

    After getting my degree from Purdue, my wife Rachel and I felt led by God to stay in the Lafayette area rather than return to Alaska, where our home was. The only problem was, I needed an income! I spent that summer applying to two or three dozen jobs and working nights in a call center. It probably comes as no surprise that by the time I applied to the 25th job, my sense of a good fit had…broadened. Yet the result of that season of disappointment and waiting was a job that fit my skills surprisingly well, opened up relationships with numerous international students (a growing love of ours), and provided for our financial needs well. Had I been more successful in one of the first two dozen job possibilities, I would not have found my way to the blessings of the 25th. I learned then that things not going as expected can open the doors to something new, unique, and wonderful.

    In the same way, we find ourselves as a church body in the unexpected position of not being able to organize and carry out our typical summer children’s outreach, a Vacation Bible School. So now we are asking God to lead us, and we expect that his answer will come in part through you: What ideas do you have? Are there new possibilities for outreach we should consider? We presented this invitation to share your ideas at the March Family Gathering. Throughout March, you are encouraged to share ideas with either me ( ) or .

    As Drew and I have talked through ideas so far, we already have the first blessing of this unexpected time. It is a growing conviction that this experience can cement our commitment as a church to Eph 4:11-12: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

    Notice: The role of leaders is to equip saints (you and me) for the work of ministry. It is easy to slip into, consciously or not, a pattern in which leaders (elders, church staff, etc.) do the work of ministry on our behalf—but that is not God’s intent.

    What’s gotten us thinking about this passage? It is this set of possibilities: What if summer youth outreach could:

    • Be moved out into smaller backyard, neighborhood-based settings—i.e., to KSBC member homes?
    • Meet unbelievers where they are, with the interests they have (which likely don’t include learning about the Bible)?
    • Draw groups of KSBC families and individuals together to minister in teams?
    • Help you and me make our faith in Christ known simply and clearly among our neighbors?
    • Help whole believing families reach whole unbelieving families?
    • Train you and me to build ongoing redemptive relationships with unbelievers in our ordinary course of life (neighborhood, work, extended family, etc.)?
    The exciting thing about this set of possibilities is that it may lead to a ministry that will help us know God more as we grow in obedience to him—and we never would have gotten this opportunity if we hadn’t come up against a lack of resources for VBS.

    We are still welcoming new ideas, so please keep them coming! Bear in mind too that God may lead us not to have an organized, concerted outreach this summer. But either way we know that the gospel will keep advancing in and through all of us, as we receive the blessing of godly leadership and embrace our identity as those who do “the work of the ministry.”

    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!

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