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    Elders' Blog - Entries from May 2013

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    WedWednesdayMayMay29th2013 Growing in Love
    byDon Whipple Tagged Love Sanctification 0 comments Add comment

    A few weeks ago I listened to myself preaching. I did not listen to a recording of me preaching, but as the words of a question came out of my mouth that Sunday morning, they lodged in my thinking and have come back at me several times since. As we are working our way through 1 Corinthians 12-13, I asked a question something like this: “Are you a loving person?” I continued to listen to myself as I asked further, “Would anyone close to you describe you as a loving person?” I quickly recognized that it is easier to ask questions than to answer them.

    The tour through 1 Corinthians 13 has brought me to the humbling realization that there are some serious and remarkable ways that I am not loving. Rather than turn this blog post into a confessional where I gain atonement through trying to do better, let’s talk about transformation. While I am so thankful for the love that permeates and characterizes our church family, I also recognize that there is always room for growth. After all, it is God’s perfect love that we are desiring to pass on to others (1 John 3:16). Are you looking for ways to grow in love? Consider these ideas with me:

    1) Get your name on as many prayer lists as possible. God is the master teacher of loving others (1 Thess. 4:9). Check out Phil. 1:9 and Eph. 3:14-19. Moving my heart and focus from the deeply rooted entrenchment in my things and my ways requires nothing less than the limitless power of God (Eph. 4:20). I know it sounds odd, but you need to walk up to as many people as possible this Sunday, ask them to pray that you will grow in love, and don’t let them go until they have written your name on their prayer list. Better yet, why should the missionaries be special? Print your own personal prayer card and pass it out! Give me one; our refrigerator has a few spaces left! Please add me to your prayer list.

    2) Move to a new mental neighborhood. The first Psalm gives instructions for the use of the Psalter as well as the entire Bible. Limiting the influence and input of the “un-God” crowd while jacking up your serious intake of God’s words and ways will produce happy results. Remember the illustration used? A tree that has its root system by a never ending stream will produce fruit at the right time. The point is this: fill you mind with the language of love and meditate on it habitually. Begin by memorizing 1 Cor. 13:1-7 or 1 John 4:7-12. Get it down word perfect. Recruit a memory partner. Expect the Spirit of God to use the Word of God to produce in you the fruit of love in ways that you could never do where your life roots are currently located.

    3) Camp out at the foot of the cross. Love is not something we can give without first receiving it and digesting it ourselves. We love because and only because we have been loved. This truth is clearly expressed throughout the Scriptures but is stated concisely in Eph. 5:1-2. As well-loved children by God, live your life in love. Our example, coach, and captain? Christ who gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God. Read about the cross, memorize cross passages, sing about the cross and intentionally spend time with others who love to hang out at the cross. We too quickly forget, romanticize, and minimize the transformational truth that we are well loved by God.

    I need to go so I can get started on my prayer card, memory cards, and download a few more cross songs. May your growing in love be fruitful! 

    ThuThursdayMayMay23rd2013 Remembering not to Forget
    byDon Whipple Tagged Holidays Remembering 0 comments Add comment

    Isn’t it sweet to be remembered? Being forgotten can certainly lead to sadness.

    Do you remember Lot’s wife? Jesus told us to (Luke 17:32). In Jesus’ opinion, if you forget Lot’s wife then you place yourself at great risk.

    Remembering and forgetting are huge topics in the Bible. If you do a word search on “forget” and “remember,” you will find those two words in some form appear over 1,300 times in the English Bible. It is safe to assume that our affections, appreciation, and loyalties are all in danger of drifting if we don’t remember not to forget. The act of remembering God was built into the everyday routine of his people who were called out of Egypt (Deut. 6:12, 8:18). Forgetting some things is actually sinful.

    Forgetfulness is such a problem that in 1868, General John Logan officially proclaimed a day to honor and remember those Union and Confederate soldiers who had died and were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I have an uncle who is buried there. Congress officially made the last Monday in May a holiday (and a 3-day weekend) in 1971. Observances of Memorial Day have diminished over the years in our country so much so that in 2000, President Bill Clinton issued an order for a National Moment of Remembrance that asked all Americans to pause at 3:00 pm local time to remember, reflect, and honor those who have given their lives in service to our country. Americans need reminding to remember and reflect on important things.

    Remembering and reflecting on those who have died in service to our country is a good idea for many reasons. Simply elevating the discussion about our collective forgetfulness is of great value as well. Over this coming weekend as you turn your attention toward those from your family, friends, work, church, neighborhood, or acquaintances that have given their all in service to our country, allow time for reflection on the larger issues of remembering and forgetting.

    While you are remembering, be humbled and driven to prayerful action by the reality that nations that forget God face God’s fearful judgment (Psalm 9:15-20).

    While you are remembering, don’t forget all the benefits and blessings lavishly given to you by God. There is a partial listing of them in Psalm 103.

    While you are remembering, be sure to somehow engage yourself with the poor (Gal. 2:10), the prisoners (Heb. 13:3), and your church leaders (Heb. 13:7). There are people we tend to forget about and ignore who God wants remembered for the sake of the gospel. Think about those who are sometimes easily forgotten and extend grace to them in the name of Christ.

    While you are remembering, be sure to forget both what you have achieved in the past and your past failures as a Christian in order to keep your gaze firmly fixed on the finish line which is Christ who has apprehended you for himself (Phil. 3:13). Like a runner, don’t look over your shoulder and possibly become satisfied or relax your effort because of how far you have run or whom you have seemed to pass. Remember to press on for the prize of the call of God on your life in Christ Jesus.

    While you are remembering, don’t forget to pray for and pursue some who may not have heard about Lot’s wife. Can you imagine greater joy and satisfaction than someone hearing and heeding your gospel warnings and being saved? I am looking forward to remembering better with you. Perhaps we could begin by memorizing (remembering for a period of time) Luke 17:32 together. If I can do that, I’m sure you can too!

    WedWednesdayMayMay15th2013 Church Leadership: Made by the Holy Spirit
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    " which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers..."
    (Acts 20:38)

    Having been involved in pastoral leadership in some form for nearly 40 years, I find this qualifying phrase both frustrating and comforting. It simply teaches that God, by his Spirit, makes, appoints, and connects pastoral leaders to local churches.

    This is frustrating because at times the church leadership appointment process does appear to be a thoroughly man-focused enterprise. A man has the position of eldership apparently due to his qualifications and the combined wisdom of the people who voted him into that responsibility. Thus we are sometimes led to over-value human leadership and under-value the hand of God in all things. This truth from Acts 20:38 is comforting in that, despite human weakness and growing pains, God in his wisdom uses and blesses our efforts in affirming and appointing church servant leaders. At the end of our careful and humble efforts of appointing elders and deacons, it can be said of each: he was made by the Holy Spirit.

    As we rally our thoughts and prayers over the next few months to find and affirm those “Holy Spirit made” elders and deacons in our congregation, let’s keep a few key identifying marks in mind. Our task is to seek and submit to the oversight of God’s Spirit as he makes men overseers and deacons. As you participate in nominating men in the next few weeks and eventually affirming and appointing, keep these two simple concerns in mind.

    First, we are looking for carefully attentive men. The Holy Spirit actively protects and advances the glory of Christ in the church through leaders that are focused, disciplined, alert, and attentive (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Tim. 4:16). While there are many men who are driven to give careful attention to various causes, we are seeking to identify those who are carefully attentive toward their own discipleship, the spiritual health of the church, and the protection of Christ centered discipleship in the church. After a careful reading of these verses along with the Apostle’s self description in Acts 20:18-27, would you be inclined to trust leaders like this with your spiritual development? The Holy Spirit is making and matching us up with men who are demonstrating a careful attention to following Christ, both in their personal lives and in the church.

    Secondly, we need God’s Spirit to help us identify men who are submissive. Submissive leaders can be identified by their practical response to God in times of suffering and hardship, their work ethic, and their relational passion (Acts 20:31-38). Men who endure and embrace suffering well, keep working hard to build others up, and have developed authentic relationships show that their core value is dependence on God. They get it. They understand that God is trustworthy, his grace is sufficient, and he is at work making people like Christ (20:32). Do you find yourself attracted to follow submissive leaders like this? The Holy Spirit is at work building submissive men by various means all around Kossuth. We need men like this to lead, feed, protect, and serve our diversely gifted church family.

    Please join the cooperative movement to enlarge our leadership team at KSBC by prayerfully and carefully finding those “made by the Spirit” among us. Look for nomination forms and instructions to be distributed on Sunday May 26.     

    WedWednesdayMayMay8th2013 Roadmap to a Noble Task
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Church Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    One author, in a chapter arguing that biblical church leadership is one of the signs of a healthy church, writes: 

    [It] is a tremendous call that God gives us, to recognize and respect godly authority in the church. This is a sign of a healthy church and of healthy Christians. This is our call. This is our privilege. And there is a world that needs to see people made in the image of God living out that image in this way. Let’s pray that we can do that together in our churches—for our churches’ health and for God’s glory.

    During the month of April the Elders asked the KSBC family to begin praying regarding the selection process for more elders and deacons. Here’s the request as it read in the April 2013 Family Gathering Prayer Guide:

    Pray for God’s wisdom and direction as we begin the selection process for more elders and deacons. We anticipate some teaching and review of roles and responsibilities of church leaders and collecting recommendations over the next few months. Let’s dedicate April to seeking God together to both stir men’s hearts to serve and direct our attention to identify them.

    April has come and gone and here we are in the middle of the month of May! This past Sunday at the May Family Gathering, Bill Davis presented a “roadmap” of this process to assist the Kossuth family to prayerfully anticipate and participate in the process ahead. I believe Bill’s opening phrase was important for the entire Kossuth family to hear (again, perhaps) and reflect upon: “The elder and deacon selection process is one which starts and ends with the congregation.” This takes place as we commit ourselves to pray. As prayerful consideration is taking place regarding who the Lord might be raising up to shepherd His people at Kossuth, we will hear more details at the combined Connection Group this coming Sunday (we’ll also be hearing from our Global Partner from Italy, Andrea Artioli). Be sure to plan on being there!

    • Nomination process (May 26 through June 16)
    • Examination and approval of candidates by Elders (June to Fall)
    • Interviews by Elders with the candidates (Fall into early 2014)
    • Announcement of candidates to the congregation/interaction through teaching, Q & A, etc. (Early 2014 to Fall of 2014)
    • Appointment by the end of 2014
    As this process gets into full swing, please continue to pray. Our May Family Gathering Prayer Guide specifically calls the Kossuth family to pray this way:

    Continue to pray for God to raise up servant leaders as we further engage in the elder and deacon selection process this month. Pray that our appreciation and understanding of church leadership will grow as we prayerfully nominate men to be considered.

    As we engage in the tremendous calling God has given to us, His people, let’s be committed to prayerful anticipation and look forward to joyful participation so the glory of Jesus Christ may be seen in the health of His church. May God grant His wisdom and His favor as we trust Him to lead us through this process.
    WedWednesdayMayMay1st2013 When We Don't Obey
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Discipline Sin 1 comments Add comment

    Excommunication, church discipline, or removal from church membership: regardless of what we call it, this biblical responsibility of a healthy church is misunderstood by many and unpopular with most.  Perhaps our discomfort with this topic is rooted in our own lack of understanding of the teaching of Scripture, our hesitancy to position ourselves as judge over someone, or some experience of a mishandled attempt in the past. My desire in this blog post is to provide a bit of a road map for you to guide and refresh your understanding of this crucial and defining responsibility of a local church. It is not an exhaustive explanation as much as it is intended to stimulate your study and thinking.

    While there are a number of foundational places to begin, let’s start by recognizing that a local church is much more than a gathering of a group of followers of Christ. A local church has been given authority by Christ to oversee and advance the gospel. This authority and responsibility extend to the affirmation, oversight, and development of the individual believer’s discipleship or growth in Christ-likeness. (Check out Matthew 16:13-20, 18:15-20, and 1 Cor. 12:24b-27.)

    Next, consider the implications of church membership. It makes sense that if the local church is given the keys to the Kingdom by Christ, then there should be some formal submission on the part of individual Christians to that authority and responsibility. Church membership is not as much joining a church as it is submitting to a church. Local church authority is not absolute or perfect, but it is biblical. While the church member commits to serve and grow under the oversight of the church and its leaders, the local church affirms and promises to provide oversight for the individual’s growth and development in the gospel. This connection between individual believers and a local body is evident in passages such as Acts 2:42-47, 1Tim.5:9-16, and Heb. 10:24-25.

    Now add the assigned responsibilities of the local church that we often refer to as the ordinances or sacraments. Many throughout the history of the church have argued for three core Christ-assigned responsibilities that keep the local church on task of advancing the kingdom for the glory of God. There is believer’s baptism—sort of the front door to the church, where a person’s conversion and discipleship are initially affirmed. There is also the Lord’s Supper, where our connection to Christ is continually remembered. Through this ordinance, a believer’s heart and life are renewed and energized in communion with Christ and others. Then there is church discipline, which is pointed at protecting the name and reputation of Jesus and his church. All three are local church responsibilities pointed at affirming, renewing, and protecting the church member in his or her journey toward fullness and completeness in Christ.

    Biblical church discipline is not limited in scope to removal from membership or prompted by only a few of the more remarkable or public sins. It is based on the premise that sin is destructive, that genuine believers are to hate sin, and that they are in a war with sin on several fronts every day. Getting involved helping a brother or sister in their struggle with sin assumes that believers are submissive to the Scriptures and the church, teachable and humble before loving truth, and repentant when sin is plainly evident in their lives. Sometimes it is necessary to exercise discipline or remove a person from membership because it is no longer possible to affirm their relationship with Christ due to the consistent absence of these identifying marks of a born again person. (Review passages such as 2 Thess. 3:13-15, 1 Cor. 5:1-13, Matt. 18:15-20, and Gal. 6:1-5.)

    The joy lingers in my heart from this past Sunday morning of celebrating and affirming the union between Christ and each of the five believers who were baptized: Steve, Nicole, Maria, Abbey and Caleb—then to share in the refreshment of that union around the Lord’s Table. The Church must stay vitally connected to Christ and live out our union that he purchased with his precious blood. As important as it is to begin at baptism and refresh at the Lord’s Table, it is just as crucial that we lovingly protect each other and the name of Jesus. Thanks for thinking through these things. I pray your commitment to and love for the church of Jesus Christ will be stimulated.   

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