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    Elders' Blog - Entries from February 2015

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    ThuThursdayFebFebruary26th2015 Leviticus in February
    byMikel Berger Tagged Scripture Worship 0 comments Add comment

    How many New Year’s resolutions to read through the Bible in a year have died in February while reading Leviticus? One reason might be the cold drudgery of life this time of year when holidays seem so far away and the warmth of spring seems equally distant. Another reason might be that we overlook Leviticus as something boring and irrelevant. My daily Bible reading plan has had me in Leviticus the past few days and I thought I’d take a few minutes to share what God has been teaching me.

    My big take away from Leviticus is that God gets to decide how he wants to be worshiped. He decides how he will be approached. He decides what is unclean and should not be near him or his people. And he decides what is clean and can be brought near him and will benefit his people. God’s people don’t decide any of these things.

    Consider Leviticus 1:3: “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.” In this verse God, decides the quality of the offering. He will receive nothing but the best from their primary food supply.

    And then there’s Leviticus 5:7: “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.” God decides the punishment for sin and when grace will be extended because of the circumstances for the sinner.

    Yet again, in Leviticus 11:2: “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth.” God sets out dietary restrictions that serve as a reminder of his rule and reign over even their most basic needs and allow them to physically remind themselves and others of their devotion to him.

    So it was certainly true in the Old Testament that God decided how he wanted to be approached. That lesson is no less true today. God has decided we can only approach him through his son, Jesus Christ. While Christ has fulfilled the law, he has not abolished it. So when you read Old Testament law, be reminded that the requirement to meet the demands of the law has been fulfilled completely for you. We don’t get to decide how to approach God. Accept that gift and then serve him in joy. That thought will keep you warm even on the coldest February morning while reading Leviticus.

    "For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near" (Hebrews 10:1).

    WedWednesdayFebFebruary18th2015 Acts: Faithful & Fruitful
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Acts Sermons Video 1 comments Add comment

    In this special video edition of the Elder Blog, I'd like to invite you to join me in prayerfully anticipating our upcoming sermon series in the book of Acts, which we'll be starting at Kossuth on March 1. We have a tremendous journey ahead of us, and I can't wait to begin it along with you! So let this video serve as a catalyst to pray and prepare for the work that God will do among us through his word. 

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary12th2015 All You Need Is Love ... Or Is It?
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Forgiveness Holidays Love 1 comments Add comment

    I walked into Walmart the other day and had no trouble discerning what season of the year we are in. The aisles were decorated in pink and red, reminding the potentially clueless shopper (would that be me?!) that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. As I pondered how I should respond to the visual overload that day, the familiar lines of a tune from 1967 came to mind: “All you need is love, all you need is love, all you need is love, love. Love is all you need.”  

    But is that really the case? Is there another ingredient which leads to successful relationships?

    I have often told young people who are moving toward marriage in their relationship, “You will never know how selfish you are until you are married.” My intent isn’t to discourage but rather to prepare the starry-eyed, often less-than-realistic love birds for the difficulties ahead. In other words, I want them to understand that there’s something they’re going to need in addition to their love for one another.

    So what is it? What is that other necessary ingredient to a successful relationship? Forgiveness. As I have observed relationships, what I’ve learned is that the relationships that stand the test of time are the ones which have learned to practice forgiveness.

    Do you remember the account of the woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7:36-47? Jesus was reclining at the table with Simon, a Pharisee who had invited him to dinner when a sinful woman came along and anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, wiping his feet with her hair. When Simon saw it, he said to himself, “If Jesus knew what kind of woman this was, he would not allow her to even touch him!” Jesus responded to Simon’s thoughts by telling the story of a moneylender who had two people who owed him money; the one owed ten times more than the other. Because they were both unable to pay their debt, the moneylender cancelled the debt of both. Jesus asked the question, “Now which of them will love him more?” Simon responded correctly: the one who was forgiven the larger debt. Before Jesus tells the woman that her sins are forgiven, he makes a profound statement which should cause us to stop and think today: “he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).

    Perhaps the multitude of syllables didn’t allow for the 60’s ballad to go differently. (Imagine it being sung this way:  “All you need is forgiveness, All you need is forgiveness. All you need is forgiveness, forgiveness, Forgiveness is all you need.”) However, I don’t think it was the number of syllables that kept the song from going differently as much the soul-penetrating truth which must be acknowledged in order for true forgiveness to take place among sinful people.

    The soul-penetrating truth is this: unless I receive forgiveness from the One with whom I have a debt I can never possibly pay, I am without hope of ever loving much and consequently forgiving much. The motivation for my actions will either be driven from a sense of having been forgiven by God, or a sense of self-righteousness.

    True forgiveness is driven by the grace of God which confronts the sinner with the holiness of God to the point that he recognizes his sin as an offense against God and the one against whom the sin was committed. No minimization of the sin. No negotiation of the size of the sinful act or its consequences. Just an acknowledgment of the facts and the confession of the sin for what it is and the request and reception of the forgiveness that God in Christ Jesus offers to anyone who will come to Him and ask for it.

    So as we celebrate this day when love seems to be measured by an elaborate card, the size of the gift, or the expense of the jewelry, consider the quantity of the forgiveness you have received, which in turn motivates the love displayed in your life. To the degree you are forgiven, you will love.

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary5th2015 Your Disciple-Making Tool Belt

    I remember the day as if it were yesterday. We were sitting out on the lawn of the campus of Illinois State University. We called it the Quad. It was spring and, as you know, spring always offers a feeling of new beginnings. As a young sophomore in college, God had given me a new beginning – a rebirth and a new heart. But I needed help. I needed a guide. And not just a guide, but a trail-blazer who knew where he was going.

    So there I was, sitting on the Quad with a man by the name of Jeremy. I’m not sure how I ended up on his radar. I knew I needed help in my newly given faith. And I think he knew it by the clueless look I always had on my face. 

    Jeremy began to invest in me, and he knew what he was doing. Scripture memory? He pointed me in the right direction. Evangelism? He went with me on my dorm floor and helped me reach out to fellow students. Lead a Bible study? He was right there, and he started us in John, which I assume was his typical starting point.

    Prior to knowing Jeremy, another man by the name of Jim had also invested in me. I called Jim one day because I had been hearing a mysterious term thrown around frequently. They called it a “quiet time.” I didn’t know exactly how to have one, but I knew I needed to start. So I called Jim (this was before the inundation of Facebook and email), and Jim was kind enough to actually come to my dorm room. He sat down with me and got me started on a devotional time. But he had a plan. He had a resource that he gave me (a little pamphlet that served as a simple prayer guide). He explained it. He did it with me.

    I am forever grateful for Jeremy and Jim and other men who have come alongside of me in my Christian walk. These men took an interest in my life and equipped me to be a faithful follower of Jesus. They knew not only what I needed, but they also had a resource that they walked me through and used as a starter.

    Let’s call it a disciple-making tool belt  a resource kit from which to pull when helping someone understand and live the gospel. Mine has changed over time. It always will be changing. Do you have a disciple-making tool belt? If someone asked you how to have a devotional time, would you know how to help them? If God opens a door to share the gospel with someone who doesn’t know Christ, do you have a default plan of action? If not, why not get started today?

    The list is long of options to choose from, and so many of them are great. (But beware: not all are great, or even good for that matter. If you are ever unsure, be sure to run the resource by a respected Christian as a filter). But I want to introduce you to one particular new resource for our church family that you might consider adding to your tool belt. It is called gotherefor.com and it is managed by Matthias Media (you would know them from The Trellis and the Vine and Two Ways to Live). It is an online database of e-books, Bible studies, videos, and more, all with the bent toward equipping effective disciple-makers.

    Kossuth has purchased licensing for this database and you can gain access for free with a church code. Please email me (acremeens@ksbc.net) for access to the subscription code so you can begin checking it out. It is full of great resources you can use to grow your own soul and help others as well.

    Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be mentioned in a blog by someone you helped grow spiritually on a warm, spring day years prior.

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