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    Elders' Blog - Entries from April 2013

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    ThuThursdayAprApril25th2013 Do You Hear What I Hear?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Encouragement Love 1 comments Add comment

    If I ever write a book or do the stand-up comedy routine that I occasionally find myself drafting, it would certainly have to include stories of what I hear and don’t hear. My hearing aids and devices are a huge help, but there are times when it does become confusing and comical. However, there are some things that I hear quite well. I want to see if you have heard them. All of these I have heard in the past few weeks around KSBC.

    I heard two firsthand, up-close, and personal accounts of hurting people being well cared for by their Care Group members and leaders. In both cases I found myself asking if we could do this or that to help and the response was the same: “No, my Care group is already doing that.” I have not heard from anyone that our small group ministry is perfect, but it is certainly encouraging to hear of the mutual care and growth that characterizes a unified body taking place among us (1 Cor. 12:24-26). Thanks, Care Group members and leaders, for taking the glory of Christ and each other so seriously.

    Saturday I listened as Al and Debbie Schinckel expressed their gratitude for the number of KSBC folks who traveled to Plymouth to be a part of Nathan and Rachel’s wedding. This is a story that I hear quite often. Whether it is weddings, funerals, or hospital visits, our church family has a reputation for going out of their way to be there for one another. Let me encourage you a bit more in important opportunities like these. Baby and wedding showers are incredible opportunities to love, encourage and bless—even more so when you do not know the young (typically) lady or mom very well or at all. I have heard good shower reports along with some rather discouraging ones. What do you hear?

    I am thinking of three KSBC people about whom I have heard stories this week. What each story has in common is that the person heard of a need, stepped out of their comfort zone, and acted to minister the grace of God. One was an older, experienced guy speaking into the life of a younger, struggling guy. Another was a person giving up a major chunk of a Saturday to assist one of our senior saints ministering to some unbelieving students. The third was a Connections Group member listening well to another and stepping up to serve them in a responsible manner. When I tend to lose focus or become discouraged, it is a genuine encouragement to be reminded of the partnership we have with each other in shared gospel ministry.

    What are you hearing? More importantly, what are you telling others that you have heard? God is at work in ways that are sometimes unrecognized and untold. One has to wonder why someone hanging around KSBC recently hasn’t yet told the story of the missionary’s response to the $25,000 gift, or the powerful baptism testimonies from a week ago, or the progress seen in the Crosswalk building pictures.

    I know that I do not hear everything. You hear and are aware of significant ways that God is at work in and around KSBC. Tune into the works of God among us and gossip them to others for the glory of God and the building up of his church.

    Have you heard that we are having baptisms and celebrating the Lord’s Table this Sunday morning at 9:15? Five people are scheduled to share their faith stories and publicly identify themselves as Christ followers. I have read their stories. I can’t wait for you to hear them; you will love Christ more after you do.  

    ThuThursdayAprApril18th2013 Heightened Awareness
    byDon Whipple Tagged Current Events Suffering 0 comments Add comment

    Heightened awareness?! Again? Bombings, shootings, factories exploding, and mail that kills. Just when you may think that your awareness has been stretched to its limits we hear of more senseless, tragic, sad, and destructive stuff happening. How attentive, alert, responsive and careful can we be?  We all agree that alertness and attentiveness are both crucial to our growth as disciples of Christ and at the same time a huge weakness – it is hard to remain consistently on the alert about everything. Ask the sleepy disciples about the night they went to the garden with Jesus before he was crucified (Mark 14:37-40).

    In addition to the many safety measures that increasingly impact our daily lives, consider raising your awareness as well in three strategic ways. These I believe both match and display the bedrock truth of God’s blessed purpose to bring all things under the reign and rule of our coming King Jesus.

    First, our consciousness of the absolute trustworthiness of God needs to be consistently raised to new heights. When trouble comes, knowing a lot about God and doing a lot for God is like being out in a thunderstorm holding a broken umbrella. Actually knowing God in a vital way as he has revealed himself in Scripture is different. Psalm 91 is one heightened awareness checkpoint. Read it slowly enough to list the various names for God, the active verbs that describe the awareness of the faithful follower, and the number of ways that the “terror of the night” and “the arrows” of the day are described. Read it again to let the personal and life giving awareness grow that this angel-commanding God delivers you, knows your name, answers you, is with you, will rescue you, will satisfy you, and will ultimately show you what real salvation is. In recent days have you said to the Lord and others that he is your refuge and fortress? While tragic events hurt, they tune and refine our deepest thoughts of God.

    Second, our confidence in the relevance of the gospel message must be stoked and poked lest we lose heart at the most crucial opportunities. Luke gives us a brief exchange between Jesus and several who told him about two terrible things that happened that involved tragic loss of lives (Lk.13:1-5). Some people were apparently slaughtered by the government because of their religious affiliations. Eighteen people had been killed in a construction accident involving a falling tower. While Jesus’ response may seem harsh, he gets to the bottom line and encourages us to do the same in clear and compassionate terms. Is your confidence in the gospel such that you would graciously turn the conversation about tragedy and the craziness of our world to the simple fact that everyone must be ready for death. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” cannot be said without a heightened awareness of the reality of sin, the seriousness of judgment, and the power of transforming grace. Let that increase your gospel confidence.

    Third, our awareness of the absolute necessity of being aware needs regular stimulation. Complacency and comfort are our enemies. Jesus warns us to “watch and pray” because we are weak to our core. He wakes us up to the dangers of greed by telling us to “be on guard.” Beware, be alert, watch out, and wake up are quite common expressions throughout the Bible. One experience of the early church when two members died as a result of their dishonesty (Acts 5:1-11) certainly put that assembly on high alert (v.11) regarding holiness, transparency, and faking spirituality. Spiritual awareness is perhaps similar to that feeling you may experience the next time you join a large crowd for a public event and find yourself extraordinarily aware of potential packages, people, and noises. Your senses come alive because of possible and real danger. Listen to Peter: “Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around…” (1Peter 5:8-9).

    Heightened awareness—to God’s trustworthiness, to the relevance of the gospel, and to the need to be aware. Let’s pray and encourage one another to live and love with compassionate alertness. 

    WedWednesdayAprApril10th2013 Struggling with Sovereignty
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Faith Sovereignty 2 comments Add comment

    [Guest post from Pastoral Intern Drew Humphrey]

    When was the last time you complained about the weather? The last time you were agitated by heavy traffic? The last time you reacted angrily to a costly home or vehicle repair? The last time you grumbled about a child who decided to wake up at three o’clock in the morning—and stay awake? The last time you found yourself exasperated by a stomach bug that knocked you off your feet during the busiest week of the year?

    If you’re like me, you don’t have to dig very deep in the memory bank to come up with answers to these questions. In fact, I’d measure most of my answers in units of hours and days rather than months or years. When it comes to petty little annoyances, I guess you could say I’m a pathological whiner.

    We all face inconvenient hassles, unexpected setbacks, and ill-timed crises. That’s the unavoidable reality of life as a human being on this earth. Things break. Coffee spills. Kids cry. Spring weather in Indiana is bizarre.

    Unfortunately, I’m not very good at responding to these things when they come my way. My default response to these little annoyances is often one of anger, frustration, or bitterness. And the problem with that response is not merely that it leaves me looking grumpy or muttering uncouth words. The problem with that response is that it puts me functionally at odds with one of the biblical doctrines that I claim to hold dear: the doctrine of God’s complete sovereignty.

    Over and over again, the Bible affirms that God is both the architect and orchestrator of every single detail in the universe. He is sovereign over everything from coin tosses (Prov. 16:33) to the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1). He controls every aspect of nature—cloud formations, vegetation growth, the passing of seasons, and sunrises (Ps. 104). He’s in charge of bad days as much as he’s in charge of good days (Eccles. 7:14). All things are worked out according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11), and nothing happens unless he commands it (Lam. 3:37-38).

    When I’m sitting in a comfortable chair or teaching in a church classroom or having a theological discussion over a delicious burger from Five Guys, I can make much of God’s sovereignty. I can tell you that it’s not just a biblical truth—it’s a beautiful truth. I can exult in the fact that the wisest, strongest, and most benevolent Being in all of the universe is completely in charge of all things!

    But give me a snowstorm in late March and you’ll hear a different tune. Put a car in front of me on the highway that’s going too slow, and I doubt you’ll hear me celebrating the exhaustive and meticulous governance of the Almighty God. Commission my daughter to get a whole swarm of teeth forcing their way out of her tender little gums all at once, and—well, you get the idea.

    Here’s the point: it’s in these seemingly insignificant moments of life’s minor inconveniences that you and I find out what we truly believe about God’s sovereignty.

    If you can wax eloquent about the wonders of divine sovereignty during a Bible study, then praise God. But if you’d quickly become less enthused about the subject upon leaving the Bible study and discovering that your car won’t start, then join me in asking for God to teach us how to celebrate his sovereignty, even when it’s inconvenient.

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