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    Elders' Blog - Entries from March 2012

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    WedWednesdayMarMarch28th2012 Gracious hospitality
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Community Hospitality 0 comments Add comment

    I recently had the privilege of traveling along with 21 international students and scholars from four countries and three co-laborers to the Washington, DC area for the 15th annual Salt & Light Christian Fellowship Spring Break trip to our nation’s capital: a partnership between KSBC and Fellowship Baptist Church in Northern Virginia. One of the aspects of this trip which has made it a success with the students and scholars year after year is the gracious hospitality offered by the people of God. 

    With each passing year of doing this trip, I grow in my appreciation for these faithful servants who open their homes and their lives, sacrificing of what is perhaps their most precious resource – time. Each year they go out of their way to serve the international students we bring, people they have never before met and may never see again! 

    So this got me thinking about what the Bible says about the important practice of hospitality and the accompanying principles which grow out of these various references to it. I hope you’ll engage with me in a similar evaluative exercise and find, as did I, that the genuine, persistent, loving displays of Christian hospitality are quite instructive and encouraging. 
    Romans 12:13: "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."
    Hospitality is a privilege to be sought out; sometimes arising out of need.
    1 Timothy 3:2: "An overseer must be … hospitable."
    Titus 1:8 – "… [an overseer] must not be … greedy for gain, but hospitable…"
    Hospitality is an essential characteristic to be modeled in God’s church.
    1 Timothy 5:10: "Let a widow be enrolled [to be enrolled to receive assistance from the church] ... if she … has shown hospitality."
    Hospitality is so important in the economy of the church that to not practice it has the potential of bringing a negative result.
    Hebrews 13:2: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
    Hospitality is a privilege from which unexpected blessing can grow.   
    1 Peter 4:9: "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."
    Hospitality, because of its very nature, takes us out of our comfort zone potentially prompting a fleshly response against which we must guard.     
    Traveling back from the Washington, DC area, I started a discussion with one of my co-laborers about this notion of gracious hospitality: What is it, why is it so appreciated by the international students who received it, and how can we practice it? Here’s the list we compiled:
    1. Be genuine and show genuine interest in your guest.
    2. Share family life – traditions, realistic daily life. 
    3. Be a learner – of the individual and their culture.
    4. Be practical, not fancy; think about what would make you feel more comfortable if you were the guest in a new setting.
    5. Be focused on the goal: to show hospitality in the name of Jesus Christ, not to impress people or cook the best meal.
    6. Look for gospel opportunities with your guest.
    7. Pray for them
    Those of us at KSBC have the privilege of being in close proximity to a university that has many students and scholars from other places in our nation and the world. Hospitality is a means through which God’s people can share their lives with these friends from other places. Assuming you are practicing hospitality, how does your practice compare to the principles found in the biblical references to it? How might you allow yourself to be stretched in this important – dare I say essential? – practice?

    I look forward to hearing some of your unexpected blessings as you continue to grow in the Christian practice of genuine hospitality.
    FriFridayMarMarch23rd2012 How to spot a liar
    byDon Whipple Tagged Honesty Speech 0 comments Add comment

    So according to news reports we can now add New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton to the growing list of people in sports, religion and politics who have recently been caught lying. We certainly find ourselves navigating our faith in a culture of lies and liars. But the culture of untruth that we live in is not the biggest problem we face. Our greatest dilemma is that we lie as well.

    Pamela Meyer in her 2010 book Liespotting sets out through various means of research to demonstrate that we are facing a pandemic of deception. She states that the average person is lied to between 10 and 200 times a day. She says of the average married couple that “you’re going to lie to your spouse in one out of every 10 interactions.” (Meyer's TED talk summarizing her findings can be viewed here.)  

    In our recent study of Abraham’s faith we spent some time in Genesis 18. In shocking absurdity (most lies gain that description after the fact) as recorded in verse 15, Sarah lies to the Lord. In a seemingly senseless hush, you can almost feel the painful awkwardness of the Lord’s loving response, ‘No, but you did laugh.’ 

    Pamela Meyer could have been writing about Sarah when she gives this explanation for why we sometimes lie: “Lying is an attempt to bridge a gap, to connect our wishes and our fantasies, about who we wish we were, how we could be, with what we’re really like.” 

    Sarah, like us in many cases, was afraid of what she was really like. She wished for a reality that was only achievable by various props and assertions. This understanding of both lying and us is incredibly helpful. How is it that we can be absolutely truthful with others and God even when the truth about us is quite disappointing? Sarah needed a bigger reason to be truthful than she had to lie. That reason is the love of God manifested to us in Christ.

    Living a truth-speaking life and developing a truth-in-love culture is our privilege because of the calling on our lives of God’s great love. God loves us. Christ delivers that love into our lives by dwelling in our hearts. The Holy Spirit spreads and sheds that love all over the landscape of our lives as we live by faith.

    Because of God’s great love,  Kossuth Street church in our meetings, relationships, marriages, friendships, families and ministries should be a place where we are able to look at each other and say the truth—“Yes, I did laugh,” or “Yes, I am afraid,” or “Yes, I do need grace.”

    Ephesians 4:15-16, 25 teaches that we bridge the gap between what we are and what we want to be in Christ by telling the love...when it is hard...even when it is self-incriminating. Truth builds the body when the grace of Christ is applied to truth telling people. I thank God for the truth tellers and truth culture he is building at KSBC.

    TueTuesdayMarMarch13th2012 Strong men
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Masculinity 0 comments Add comment

    I know I have said this before, but one of my favorite Bible passages is the description of King David’s mighty men found in 2 Samuel 23. I am drawn to it for two reasons.

    First, the descriptions of courage and strength excite and stretch my imagination. One guy remains in combat until he is so weary they have to peel his hand from his sword. My favorite is the man who jumped into a pit to kill a lion on a snowy day – talk about facing multiple challenges all at the same time! These guys reinforce a sense of courage and duty that perhaps was on the Apostle's mind as he wrote 1 Corinthians 16:13. As I slowly ponder these descriptions, my imagination is torn from the passive and selfish model of manhood so prevalent today, and I am drawn to view the challenging and difficult as necessary and fulfilling parts of my calling as a man.

    A second reason I connect with this passage is that these strong, highly skilled and courageous men were identified as being in a group with each other. After one guy is described, the next guy is introduced with this incredibly insightful phrase, “and next to him was....” There was a group of thirty of these men, and within the thirty there was a group of three. Sometimes they fought alone, at other times together, but there is a pervasive sense throughout the passage that these guys actively leaned on each other. It seems that what bonded them together was not their strength and courage but the size and strength of the challenges and responsibilities they embraced. It sounds odd, but it appears that in order to get into this mighty men club, you had to acknowledge that your enemy is huge and that you cannot succeed by yourself.

    At this time, KSBC does not have a “men’s ministry” that meets on a regular schedule with a systematic curriculum pointed toward building strong men. And that may not be as bad as it sounds. There are certainly plenty of ways for men who are convinced that the challenges of marriage, parenting and holiness are greater than snowy pits and lions to connect and strengthen each other. I am beginning to think that men’s ministry best starts with men who acknowledge their weakness and then connect in various ways with other like-minded men to support, encourage, bind up wounds, celebrate, and sharpen each other as they push each other back into the pits and battlefields of manhood under God.

    Men, you can connect with other men at weekly Tuesday 6:30am or Wednesday 6:45pm prayer meetings; or you can plug into the weekly Monday 7am group studying systematic theology. You can also contact Matt Niewedde or Drew Humphrey who will help you form a group of 2-3 men that meet occasionally for the purpose of building into each other’s lives.

    I am encouraged by the few "mighty men" groups that get together at various times and places. And I encourage more men to step up and connect with other men in strengthening ways. Let me or one of the other Elders know if we can help get you connected.

    FriFridayMarMarch9th2012 The underappreciated benefits of not getting your own way

    Remember the last time you did not get what you wanted? For some of us the reply is quick and simple—“Which time? This afternoon or this morning? Today or yesterday?” Whether it is the timing of a traffic light, the menu for dinner, the weather not cooperating or significant matters that we are praying for fervently, not getting our way is as common as breathing. This matter has pressed on my thinking recently both in little ways like, “How come we couldn’t have spaghetti?” as well as bigger ways such as, “How come the Crosswalk Project doesn’t happen the way I want it to?” I am learning there are incredible and severely underappreciated benefits to not getting my way.

    The basis for these benefits is found in James 3:18 and then explained in the teaching of James 4. For the person of faith, James reminds us that there is a “harvest of righteousness” realized when life is lived committed to the wisdom that comes from God. That’s the “benefits” part. God’s wisdom teaches us to search those times we do not get our way for a number of possible benefits that God intends for us to appreciate and learn from.

    So here are four underappreciated benefits of not getting your own way:

    1. Not getting your way opens the door to see your heart motives more clearly (James 4:1-3). If you are convinced that you must watch your heart carefully because the issues of your life flow from your heart, then having this entrance to see what is in your heart is a huge benefit to you. (Proverbs 4:23)

    2. Not getting your way may force you toward humility and repentance more quickly (4:4-10). If you believe that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” then you can convert that conflict to get your way into immediate, useable, hope-filled grace through simple repentance. More grace is good.

    3. Not getting your way is an opportunity to shut your mouth more appropriately (4:11-12). If you believe that talking badly about people and to people is a wicked and destructive response to not getting your way, then you know what a benefit it is to all concerned to at least keep your mouth shut and try to talk nice.

    4. Not getting your way helps you clarify your God-centered worldview. If you believe that God is in good control of all things and that your life only has significance within his providential care, then it is a great benefit to be reminded often to include the Lord in our daily planning and living. Not getting your way leads to resting in God’s way.

    God grows our love for him and each other through our not getting what we want. He actually blesses us at times by not giving us what we ask for. Join me in taking a stand for these underappreciated and often neglected benefits of God’s grace in our lives.   

    FriFridayMarMarch2nd2012 Lunch with a friend
    byTim Depue Tagged Community Culture 0 comments Add comment

    This past week I found myself in territory that I had never been in before. (At this point my children might ask if I had finally signed up for Facebook.) The truth is I was still in Lafayette and in a place I had been before. But it was a brand new experience.

    The experience came during lunch with a good friend. While I had eaten at this place before, they now advertised that they served food that was Zabiha. This was a new word for us, so my friend looked it up on his phone and found out that it was referring to food that was prepared a certain way for religious reasons, specifically for Muslims. We continued with our lunch, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that my thoughts had returned to the experience.

    Thinking about the issue of food and religious regulations prompted me to recall 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul addresses an issue that was causing problems for the church. The issue was a division between the believers on the practice of eating food that was previously offered to idols. Some were enjoying the meat, but others were bothered by the thought that it had been part of a sacrifice at the local temple. Paul reminded the believers that all food comes from God and is meant to be a blessing to us. Furthermore, it is the means he has created by which we receive the strength to live and serve Him.

    While there are several lessons and many applications that can come from this passage, what intrigued me was that I was experiencing during my lunch the same reality that the Corinthians were experiencing—the reality of living in a rapidly changing world. Cultures from distant places are being brought together at an ever-increasing speed, and with that we experience a difference of preferences and convictions that can be responded to in varying ways. My response to those points of exposure can be guided either by my sense of cultural comfort or by the truths I have learned and believe from God’s word. My natural response is to retreat to what I know and enjoy as “normal” for me. But what I have found over time is that when I take the time to learn about those things that are new and different, these differences are what God uses to grow and shape me.

    These moments of learning and the experiences of differences offer opportunities to interact with others and share applications of truth from the Bible. This is not to help other people see things my way, but to show how God’s word is relevant and essential to life. It is amazing to see what happens when God’s truth is accepted and practiced.

    So back to my lunch. The meal was good, the conversation was great, and I look forward to eating there again. Even more, I look forward to the next experience that God will use to grow me and maybe those around me.

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