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    Elders' Blog - Entries from July 2014

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    WedWednesdayJulJuly30th2014 Cliff Had a Good Eye
    byDon Whipple Tagged Encouragement Generosity 0 comments Add comment


    Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
    for he shares his bread with the poor. Proverbs 22:9

    Generous people see things differently. Several weeks ago my Friday afternoon was unexpectedly interrupted with a $35,000 check. As she handed me the check, Cliff and Mildred Lyons’ daughter explained that this gift is from Dad’s estate to honor and reflect his love for the Lord and this church. Cliff and his daughter had what the wisdom writer in Proverbs 22:9 call a “bountiful” or good eye. The surrounding verses help us see what a good eye regarding wealth is contrasted with those that use wealth to oppress others or for their own confidence and identity. A good eye sees the heart of God for the poor and oppressed both physically and spiritually. A good eye sees and responds to ways to be generous toward God. Not everyone has a good eye. 

    Cliff Lyons followed the 3C Path of commit, connect, and contribute decades before we began calling it that. Cliff and Mildred became members at Kossuth in 1974. On his membership application there were 28 areas of service listed for him to indicate his interest and experience, he checked only one – usher. Cliff encouraged and welcomed people to our services for a long time, setting a great example of humble, effective service to this church family. Cliff went to be with the Lord this past February at the age of 92 years old, joining his wife Mildred in God’s presence as she passed away in 2002. Cliff spent the last few years living with his daughters in Arizona.

    The Lyons’ family gift is encouraging in so many ways in addition to being a large amount of money. It reminds us that God is faithful to supply all that is needed to do his work through the generosity of his people. God uses the generosity of others to stir and motivate us to greater appreciation and worship. God is pleased when the generosity of others causes us to reflect in a greater way on our own generosity. Lord, give us eyes to see clearly your heart and respond generously.

    We will talk more about the Lyons’ gift this Sunday at our Family Gathering meeting. A number of exciting things are scheduled for this August Family Gathering:

    • Elder candidate Dan Dillon will share a brief lesson from God’s Word
    • Proposal from the Elders regarding new roof and parking lot sealing
    • Proposal from Elders regarding designation of the Lyons gift
    • Q&A on the report from the Elders and By-Laws Task Force
    • Get to know our new Administrative Director – David Whitman

    Please plan to join us at Family Gathering this Sunday to rejoice in God’s faithfulness together.  

    ThuThursdayJulJuly24th2014 Sound Doctrine
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Doctrine 0 comments Add comment

    We are looking forward to interacting with the church family about the Report from the Elders and By-Laws Task Force at our Family Gathering coming up August 3. Knowing that many have been away and enjoying various summer pursuits, we are re-posting the article that originally appeared here on June 4, along with the accompanying links to the pertinent documents, in order to help everyone be prepared for the upcoming Family Gathering discussion. We anticipate an actual congregational vote one month later at the September Family Gathering. Thanks for your participation in this important process.  

    What is sound doctrine? How important is it that our leaders and members be in agreement with what our church affirms as sound doctrine? The issue of agreement with our statement of faith for church leaders has surfaced on two occasions in recent years.

    The first time was when Paul, Tom, and Bill were first appointed as non-vocational elders in 2009. During the interview process we were reminded that on a few aspects of our statement of faith considered as somewhat secondary in importance, the church was willing to accept agreement as meaning “will support and not oppose.” The next time the issue surfaced was in the fall of 2012 when we were interviewing Drew and Abraham for the jobs of staff ministers. Both expressed similar concerns to those of the elders in a few areas of our statement of faith and were affirmed with the understanding that “agreement” can mean “will submit to even though I don’t hold that view personally.” On both occasions, the differences with the statement of faith were clearly in what was determined not to be essential, foundational, or core matters of sound doctrine as defined by the Scriptures or historic confessions of faith. These differences are clearly described in the report referred to later in this blog.

    I should add at this point that these exchanges both in 2009 and 2012 resonated with my own experience as, after over 30 years of teaching, preaching and studying the Bible, my thinking has been nuanced in some of these same secondary issues. I would also add that in just about every membership interview that I have been involved with, there is some exchange regarding what agreement with the statement of faith means.

    Knowing that the issue of agreement with our statement of faith would surface again both in the membership process and the appointment of elders, at the request of the congregation and by elder appointment a task force was put together in the fall of 2013 to address the issue and report back to the elders and church family with some recommendations. That report from the elders and task force can be found and read here and is available in the foyer or from the church office. Along with the report a “marked up” version of the KSBC constitution is available that contains the proposed changes as “tracked” changes to help put the report recommendations in context.

    The elders are asking that the church family take the next 30-45 days to process the report and proposed changes in the following ways:

    1. Prayerfully read and review the report and tracked changes carefully. Include in your effort searching the Scriptures referenced.

    2. Write out your observations, concerns, and questions. While we are willing to try to schedule time to meet and interact directly, given the number of people involved and the busyness of schedules we are encouraging you to send your questions and feedback to church leadership via mail or email (ksbc@ksbc.net). We will collect these for a period of time and reply in the most appropriate and effective ways. That may be a personal response, an article or a dedicated time in a Sunday service. Before we announce a church vote or set a date for such, we want to have a dialogue and learn what questions and concerns there may be so we can respond and walk together in seeking God’s direction in this important area.

    3. Listen to the July 13 sermon when I plan to address the topic of the importance and role of sound doctrine and the church statement of faith. Hopefully it will bring some light and encouragement to the conversation.

    By late July we should have a read on what and when next steps are from our dialogue over the next few weeks. Your response and feedback are crucial to the process. Ultimately any proposed changes require congregational approval to be enacted. Please join the conversation and make it a matter of regular prayer that God would continue to unite our hearts, guard us from error, energize our teaching and nurture our commitment to mission all through our agreement to sound doctrine.   

    WedWednesdayJulJuly16th2014 Enhanced Effectiveness at Kossuth
    byDon Whipple Tagged News 0 comments Add comment


    I thank God for Carrie Ferguson. I know that our elders, staff and church family would say the same. What an incredible blessing and gift she has been to our church family! Since January 2009 Carrie has served as our Church Secretary, Financial Secretary and most recently as Administrative Director. The job description explains that the responsibility of the Administrative Director is to enhance effectiveness by providing support to the KSBC leadership, staff and congregation. She has certainly done that and done it faithfully, skillfully, and well.

    We rejoice with Carrie and Chris Whittemore at God’s goodness in directing them together. Chris is a great guy who works at Penn State University and has the awesome job of overseeing a huge and new ice arena which includes driving a zamboni! Carrie and Chris plan on being married on August 16th and setting up home back in Pennsylvania. Carrie’s last day on the job here is Friday August 1st. Please pray for Chris and Carrie as they make plans for their wedding and begin their lives together. I am confident that God will use them together even in a greater way to enhance the effectiveness of his church wherever he places them. Remember to express your appreciation and love to Carrie for her sincere and fruitful labor here at Kossuth.

    As we express our gratitude and love to Carrie, I am also excited to introduce our church family to David and Danielle Whitman. David has recently been hired as our new Administrative Director and will begin training soon with an official start date of Monday August 4. David is a graduate of Boyce College with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Counseling. Both he and Danielle are southerners, he from the deep south of Alabama and she is from Crawfordsville! We are looking forward to getting to know these guys better as they settle into our church family and the new job. Please pray for them. Make an effort to find them on Sunday to introduce yourself to them and welcome them to our family.
     
    Several have asked about our recent trip to Italy. My standard quick reply is that it was great and the food was even greater! Someone recently asked me what my favorite part of the trip was. My answer surprised me as I quickly said that it was not the 7 preaching opportunities or 3 seminars I taught, it was talking with young Italian men about their desire for ministry. Rather than show you pictures, describe the beauty, or explain the things we did, our trip can be summed up in an email I received yesterday from a new friend Vincenzo. With his permission, you can find it here. It is lengthy but well worth your time and effort to meet a guy, like several others Sue and I connected with, who has been remarkably transformed by God’s grace and has a desire to serve Christ.

    We bring you greetings of grace and peace from many who expressed appreciation for our ministry as well as our church family back home who would send us to serve in this way. We bring you expressions of love and appreciation from Andrea and Emanuella Artioli, our missionary partners in Italy. Sue and I express our appreciation for your prayers and for many who picked up extra responsibilities while we were away. Like Carrie, and now David, we are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of enhancing the effectiveness of God’s people wherever God places us. 

    ThuThursdayJulJuly10th2014 The Hand-Me-Down You Can't Outgrow
    byBill Davis Tagged Gospel Sanctification 0 comments Add comment

    I’m a baby. So is my wife. That is, Sarah and I are both the youngest of our respective families of origin. [Yes, insert your own joke about two “babies of the family” marrying one another.] This makes our children among the youngest of several cousins -- in fact, our youngest is the 25th of 25 grandchildren of my in-laws. While I could relay many pros & cons of our place in the extended family, let me highlight one practical benefit: hand-me-downs. In their earlier years, our children had a streaming inventory of used clothing from a multitude. The relief to our clothing budget was wonderful. Every parent can relate to how blindingly fast children grow out of their clothes. Every parent knows the feeling of seeing little Johnny’s high-water pants and arms gangling out of his sleeves to signal us that his clothes no longer fit … again.

    Last week I heard a middle-schooler relate his week at church camp, and as he spoke of what he learned he used the phrase, “we never grow out of the gospel.” First, I’m thrilled when a young person grabs such a solid truth and appears to exercise it well. But second, I simply appreciated the reminder that we never outgrow the gospel like our children do their clothes. We never get past the point of needing the grace and sovereign work of God – not only to save us but just as desperately to conform us into the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29).

    Recently I got an email from a very good friend of mine in another part of the country. He was asking for some advice on how to think about and encourage someone who wasn’t sure if he believed in Jesus or not. Just for an illustration, I’ll include the bulk of my note to him:

    Dear Brother,

    There are so many resources for "discipleship" and living the Christian life. However, if Josh is not sure of his faith in Jesus, then I strongly suspect it might be because he's not looking at "the right Jesus". That is, the Jesus who became the substitutionary sacrifice to atone for Josh's infinite rebellion against his righteous Creator/Owner, thus sparing Josh from the appropriate and full wrath of God, provided that Josh respond with faith and repentance to confess Christ indeed as Lord.

    If we don't understand that God is our Creator/Owner, then we don't sufficiently grasp the notion of our rebellion against his perfect ways in our sin. If we don't grasp the notion of our sin against God, then we don't understand the notion of his wrath. If we don't appreciate that his wrath is justly pointed in full force at us for our sin, then we don't value the sacrifice of the Savior to take that full force on our behalf. If we don't value the sacrifice of the Savior, we don't know who He really is and how amazing is the grace he extends in redeeming us to an eternal life that begins on this earth. To see Jesus as a "take Him or leave Him" option is surely a litmus that one has failed to grasp the above - for comprehending these rightly is to recognize our desperate need and call out, as did the tax collector of Luke 18:13 who "beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’"

    And, of course, all of us who have received this gift started in the same "darkness" and were "transferred" into the kingdom, as Col. 1:13 makes clear.

    Do you, as I do, sometimes fail to grasp the real gravity of your sin as rebellion against God? Then let’s allow the gospel to remind us of God’s sovereign ownership of us. Are you, as I am, sometimes far too casual in your gratitude toward God and esteeming the sacrifice paid on your behalf? Then let’s allow the gospel to remind us of the wrath from which we’ve been rescued. Can you, as I do, at times become complacent in our growing in sanctification to become like Jesus? Then let’s look hard at the gospel to be reminded that we have been “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) and refreshed in our purpose that “he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor. 5:15).

    You might say that the gospel is the most unique of hand-me-downs. Preserved in God’s Word, it’s been handed down through the centuries where ultimately we receive it through someone else. But then it stays with us, we never outgrow it, and yet we are commissioned to “hand it down” to others. So, receive it, be renewed in it, rely daily on it, keep tight hold of it … and hand it down!

    WedWednesdayJulJuly2nd2014 Trusting Fingernails
    byTom Humphrey Tagged Discipline Trust 0 comments Add comment

    Adoption has taught me many things about myself – some good and some bad. It has taught me that I can be a selfish, proud, angry, and uncaring man at times. It has also shown me a beautiful picture of the gospel and our adoption as sons of God. Recently, I have been reminded of how hard it is for me to trust God completely and rest in him.

    Many of you know more about our boys than you might want to, as we have tried to be pretty transparent that things can be very hard with children from “hard places.” Recently, Angela made a simple comment to me that after we thought about it revealed a great deal about trust and finding security.

    For Lucas and Jeremy, their past abuse has made it difficult for them to trust us and to believe that we care for them, want to help them and will not hurt them. All discipline was met with questions of whether or not we would keep them. A manifestation of this lack of trust was shown in that for the first 2 ½ years in our home, we never had to cut Lucas’ fingernails, because he chewed them or picked them off. For most people, hearing Angela comment that she had cut Lucas’ fingernails twice because he had stopped chewing them would have been met with, “So what?” But to us, that was a monumental event. Since then, we continue to cut Lucas’ fingernails, which brings me to the topic of how we trust God.

    I have been convicted at how often I struggle to trust God completely and rest in His plan for my life. In his book, Trusting God When Life Hurts, Jerry Bridges poses the question that all Christians must come to terms with at one time or another: “Can I truly trust God when the going gets tough in different areas of my life?” While Lucas’ growing fingernails are a simple sign of his growing trust, I am struck by how firmly my fingernails dig into things other than the cross, seeking to take charge, refusing to trust God and his perfect plan. The Bible pairs the words “trust” and “God” in many places. In doing some study on this topic, I was struck by the other things the Bible points out that we trust in. A few of those are:

    • our own understanding (Prov. 3:5)
    • chariots and horses, or military might, or strength (Ps. 20:7)
    • proud people and pride (Ps. 40:4)
    • abundance of riches (Ps. 52:7)

    We live in a society that trumpets these things and calls our attention to them, but in the quiet of Kossuth we are in the presence of a “cloud of witnesses” who are confidently resting in God, his provision, and his perfect will for their lives. These “witnesses” are trusting God in physical challenges, diseases that may take their life, uncertainty of future income, wayward adult children, and many other daunting situations. I am humbled to be surrounded by these saints and convicted of how my trust is often replaced with one, or more of the items listed above.

    The prophet Isaiah answers Bridges’ question with a resounding “Yes!” when he says: “Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust and I will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Isa. 12:2). Later on, Isaiah again says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (Isa. 26:4).

    Let’s grow “trusting fingernails” that cling to the cross of Jesus and reject other objects of trusts. Look for, and listen to those in our church family whose eyes are fixed on Christ in the midst of trial. Imitate them, pray for them, and encourage them.

    It is not always easy, but I am learning that yes, I can trust God. How about you?

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