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    Elders' Blog - Entries from September 2012

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    WedWednesdaySepSeptember26th2012 Why I'm Going

    God has allowed my life to intersect a few times recently with men who seemingly are at the end of their proverbial ropes. Perhaps it is because I am one, but it strikes me as a rare thing to actually witness the feeble blubbering of a professing manly man as he openly acknowledges that he is insufficient for his current life and leadership assignment. As rare as it seems, from my experience of being around broken men and being a broken man myself, there is something profoundly energizing and refreshing for a man who is willing to be identified with the weak and broken. That is why I'm going to this year’s Men’s Summit.

    Both the title and theme of our Men’s Summit in a few weeks are an invitation for men to gather and strengthen each other in the counter-cultural truth that when we are weak we are strong. The title of the Summit is “Dead Men Walking,” and its theme is the importance of suffering and sacrifice in the life of the godly man. Of all the images and models that are pulling at the affections and short attention spans of men today, we desperately need to be drawn to the core strength of weakness to be and do what God has assigned for our good and his glory. That’s why I am prayerfully looking forward to this year’s Men’s Summit.

    Mighty King David had the wind knocked out of him in a big way when his wife and family were captured by the enemy and all his stuff burned with fire. He cried until he could not cry anymore–apparently with many others who were suffering this unimaginable loss. 1 Samuel 30:6b states that after the tears and the threats on his life–everything about him was turned upside down, all his securities were removed–he strengthened himself in the Lord. I want to find more broken men who can do that and learn from them how they do it.

    The demands and privileges of male headship, leadership, and servanthood are often overwhelming. The wisdom, energy, and precision required to love and lead at multiple levels is beyond our natural capabilities. Now add to that the fact that our loving God is committed to giving us strength by making us weak, and you can relate a bit to the average man’s struggle. That’s why you should immediately change plans and make plans to participate in the Men’s Summit on October 26-27.

    By the way, I have a bit of insider information. I know the three current or former KSBC men who will have 30 minutes each to tell their stories of suffering and sacrifice. I am planning to listen carefully and ask at least one question in the Q&A if some of you don’t beat me to it: “How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord when you are at the end of your rope?”

    You may have other questions. You may have never been in the same room with a man as he describes his weakness. Those are good reasons to be at the Men’s Summit this year.  

    Click below to register:

    ThuThursdaySepSeptember20th2012 Gospel-Sized Giving
    byDon Whipple Tagged Community Generosity 0 comments Add comment

    As a young youth pastor at a church in southern New Jersey, I was given opportunity to meet an unusual man whose job was playing basketball professionally for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA. When I saw that he and his wife actually filled out a visitor card after visiting a Sunday service, I immediately became a part of the visitation ministry and called on them in their new home the following week. While it was pretty heady stuff for me trying to keep my sports idolatry in check, my visit with this couple is the first time I remember ever being exposed to someone who understood and practiced a radically biblical approach to their finances and giving.

    I mentioned in last week’s blog post that we would come back to the following quote from a book many in our church family have read called Radical by David Platt:

    Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?

    The question is radical simply because it goes directly against the current of our self focused free enterprise expectations. The question is helpful because it fleshes out the teaching of scripture regarding what it might look like in practice to be free from the love of money (2 Corinthians 9:11).

    While not nearly equal to what sports professionals are paid today, the salaries of NBA all-star caliber players in the early 80s were impressive. What I learned about this couple—I forget how or why it came up—was that they had determined to limit their lifestyle by living on a portion of his salary so they could enjoy the freedom of giving and investing in gospel ministry in various ways. The radical contrast was seeing a person with a huge income living comfortably within seemingly unnecessary limits for higher purposes related to the world to come.

    Four concepts from 2 Corinthians 8-9 help us remember that we are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others in a global and gospel manner.

    Sacrifice (2 Cor. 8:3): The impact of sacrifice is measured by what you are unable to do that you can afford to do but you can’t do because you choose to advance the kingdom through your giving. You gave your excess away.

    Generosity (2 Cor. 8:2, 6-7): Generosity is all about responsiveness to grace. Our giving is driven by our assessment of and appreciation for how much we have been given.

    Liberality (2 Cor. 9:6-7): Liberality is all about attitude and joy. Reluctance and pressure characterize the giving game player who participates for reasons other than a genuine response to God’s love and grace.

    Investment (2 Cor. 9:10-15): Grace giving is called “your confession of the gospel of Christ” which yields compounding returns for you, others and the glory of God. Giving causes others to thank God, how much is that worth?

    Let’s pray for and encourage one another in this war for our hearts and money. Wouldn’t it be something if your giving and lifestyle choices made a gospel-sized impression on someone?  

    WedWednesdaySepSeptember12th2012 Giving: Ready or Not
    byDon Whipple Tagged Generosity Money 0 comments Add comment

    If you attended our August Family Gathering, you may remember that, as a part of our quarterly finance report to the church family, Brian reported that 2nd quarter giving was down from a year ago. The overall report was really good. 

    Bills are being paid, staff and programming are well supported, overall expenses are under income, commitments to global outreach partners are being kept on time, renovation projects such as sound system and bathrooms are under way, and we have even been able to respond spontaneously to unplanned opportunities such as helping key gospel partners buy cars. I listened in on a conversation over the weekend that resulted in the Benevolence Team authorizing a church check to be cut this week to help a church family pay rent and buy groceries. Those kinds of stories make me so thankful to be a participating investor in magnifying God’s name here at Kossuth Street. Thanks so much for your generous and faithful giving!

    However, the healthy financial report revealed clearly that at least for one quarter, giving was down. Seeing the weekly offering totals since the last quarterly report, I can say that I will not be surprised if we hear the same summary of giving at our next reporting. It appears giving is down at KSBC. I am not much of a financial analyst but I can think of 3 reasons why giving would be less this year compared to last year.

    First, there may be economic reasons—anything to do with numbers adding or not adding up. Donors have less money to give. The donor base may be shrinking. Giving may be down for purely economic reasons, which may be reflective of the broader economic stress in our country.

    A second reason may be what is referred to as consumer confidence. Just like with any other investment, if you lose confidence that the organization or leadership is trustworthy, you withhold or stop investing. Our giving may reflect some of the processing of change that has been happening over the past several months at KSBC. I hope it is not as blatant as leveraging our disagreement by not giving, but we have to factor in that some may think along these lines.

    A third option for why giving is down is simply what the Bible calls “readiness” (2 Cor. 8:11). This term describes the mindset or attitude as being willing, ready, and even eager. In the Corinthian situation, the issues were not economic or confidence related; they simply had been distracted by other things. Once the Apostle appealed to them with an example of the eager generosity of others (sacrificial), the overwhelming grace of God seen in Christ (generosity) and the challenge to prove their love for God and others (cheerful), they were ready!

    Sacrificial. Generous. Cheerful. This is the language of Christ-centered economics. God does amazing things through his people who think and give in these terms. I humbly bring them to your attention.

    Thinking about living out our faith in terms of our money, I hope to write next week a bit about this quote from a book many in our church family have read called Radical by David Platt:

    Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?

    Stay tuned and think prayerfully about your readiness.

    FriFridaySepSeptember7th2012 Where have you been?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church 0 comments Add comment

    For those who have been out of the communications loop over the summer for various reasons, and for those who feel like they are struggling to keep up with things at KSBC, let’s review!

    But first, I want to offer a word of thanks to you who serve in our children’s ministry, nursery or in other ways that have kept you away from strategic meetings where changes have been talked about and explained. I have been surprised recently when some have asked, “What’s a Connection Group?” only to discover that they have been teaching in our children’s ministry all summer. Again, thanks.

    Here’s a glossary with some brief definitions that will help you understand and participate in the modest makeover here at KSBC.

    9:15 Corporate Worship. This is our gathering for Word and worship. There seems to be plenty of parking and seating. One thought for many of you: please arrive earlier than you have been. Those moments of quieting your soul and expressing your love to others are precious worship opportunities.

    10:45 Connection Groups. These groups, formerly known as ABFs, meet for the purpose of connecting people to truth and to each other. I think you will like the tweaking that has been done. Each CG has a leadership team with a few teachers, an elder and a few Care Group (see next entry) leaders. These groups begin this coming Sunday. Information and helpers will be available to assist you in selecting a group for you.

    24/7 Care Groups. These groups, formerly known as Small Groups, have been renamed to represent what they do rather than describe their size. They meet at least twice a month for the purpose of encouraging spiritual growth and providing life-on-life care. To date we have more people committed to Care Groups than we have had in several years. You can still get in a group! Contact the church office or make a fuss at someone at the welcome desk on Sunday.

    Ministry Fair. This incredibly helpful time of meeting people, learning about opportunities to serve, and connecting with ministry leaders is scheduled for August of 2013! If you missed the three-week MF that we just had, you did miss a great time, but you haven’t missed your chance to connect with opportunities to serve Christ here at KSBC. Simply raise your hand this Sunday at Connection Group (#2 above) and ask your teacher/leader, “How can I make Christ known to others and build eternal treasure by serving here at KSBC?” Go ahead, try that.

    There are really good classes for children, teens, students, and senior saints at the 10:45 hour as well. Awana, ladies’ Bible class, Wednesday prayer meeting, youth and family ministry, and much more is also available to promote the gospel and our mutual holiness.

    Well that’s a start. This gives you the basic terms that will help you have the best possible chance of growing in your relationship with Christ and making him known to the world alongside the precious people of KSBC. See you Sunday. And be sure to get a name tag at the table in the foyer so folks will know who you are—especially if you have been gone a while!

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