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    Elders' Blog - Entries from October 2013

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    WedWednesdayOctOctober30th2013 Proving Your Love
    byDon Whipple Tagged Generosity Love Money 0 comments Add comment

    Love that is demanded or coerced is not really love; it has to be called something else. The same is true of giving, without the element of spontaneity it probably should be called taxation, dues, or payment for services received. God-honoring giving is by definition from the heart, an overflowing responsiveness to his generous love. Just as a marriage left unattended can drift toward the rocks of boredom and routine, so participating in the offering without careful attention can become as exciting as paying the electric bill.

    Prove your love. Prove the genuineness of your love. That is how the Apostle challenges the Corinthian church to recalibrate their participation in the offering (2 Cor. 8:8, 24). Are you comfortable with the implied concepts in that challenge? Do you believe that your weekly offering can or should be used as one measurement of your love for God and people? The point is the glory and pleasure of God. He loves cheerful givers (2 Cor. 9:7). Givers motivated by—and at times recklessly responsive to—being lavishly loved.

    How can you keep the spark of responsive love in your giving? How can you keep your giving from becoming just another bill to pay? Consider three sources for kindling your love-induced generosity found in 2 Corinthians 8.

    First, spend time with generous givers (2 Cor. 8:8). Ask them questions about their generosity. Listen to their stories. Paul directed the attention of the Corinthians to the sacrificial and over-the-top giving of the Macedonian churches and then said, “Now prove your love is genuine.” The implication is that the love for God is there, but it has been neglected or buried by other concerns. Consider the earnest giving of others; it will ignite those latent, oxygen-starved embers in your heart. Prove your love by first considering and comparing the great love stories of giving happening all around you.

    Second, consistently learn more of Christ (2 Cor. 8:9). Knowing that genuine love must express itself in generous action, the example of Christ’s infinite giving of himself becomes the source for all heartfelt giving. We must revisit the gospel story and the vast humility of Christ more often than we recharge our electronic devices to keep giving joyful.

    Third, enjoy being bragged about by your church leaders (2 Cor. 8:24). The Apostle essentially asked the Corinthians to justify all these stories he had been telling about them. I regularly tell stories about the generosity of KSBC. I told the 2012 year end offering story to someone on Monday of this week. I have told the “$1000 in cash in last Sunday’s offering to be given to people with needs” story so many times this week I have lost count. Let the potential of stories being told that boast about Jesus induced generosity enthuse your heart to participate in the offering.

    Watch the mail next week as we plan to send out details about our 2013 year end offering. Let’s pray for a time of deep heart stimulation that results in overflowing proof of our love for God and people. 

    WedWednesdayOctOctober23rd2013 Communication Commitments
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Communication 0 comments Add comment

    Healthy relationships are built on good communication. We would readily acknowledge that the interchange of information is a challenge, but one that is absolutely essential to a healthy and loving relationship. Living in a world of way too much information as we do, staying in the loop of what is happening in important relationships such as our church family requires a level of commitment. As we complete our study of 1 Corinthians, it is interesting to note that the Apostle Paul shares valuable relational information regarding travel plans, ministry updates, news, and greetings from multiple friends and ministry partners (1 Cor. 16:5-24). All of this is essential to maintaining and building productive, Christ-focused relationships in the church. It is important to stay in the loop as much as possible! 

    Staying on the information highway around KSBC includes keeping up with the following commitments:

    1. Attending our regularly scheduled meetings. The weekly bulletin, scrolling announcements on the big screen before worship service, and occasional reminders and reports from the platform are all basic ways to share vital information. Perhaps one of the most important meetings regarding staying in the loop around Kossuth is our monthly Family Gathering. Often reports, decisions, and happenings are brought up there that are not shared in other venues.

    2. Staying connected online. Our website is a hub of activity and information. Each week, new content appears in our sermon archive, on the Elder Blog, and in Connections. And to help you stay current on all this information, we send out the Weekly Web Update each Friday with links to all of these resources and more. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you’re plugged into Kossuth via social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter.

    3. Participating in Care and Connection Groups. Each of these groups ties you into the flow of information at different levels. Each Connection Group provides regular email updates and weekly in-class announcements. Each Care Group is together frequently and maintains ongoing communication. In these two group settings the majority of sharing and responding is done—such as providing meals, organizing showers, helping with projects, making hospital visits, and caring for other special needs.

    Many of you are ahead of me already. You are probably thinking about all those who do not connect online, are unable to attend our meetings, or do not participate in a Connection or Care group. I know—it’s a real problem. How shall they hear? They shall not hear without increased commitment on their part, or if unable to do that, they shall not hear without a speaker—like you. Here are a couple “take-aways” to help close the loop for many around KSBC.

    First of all, please communicate with each other. Do you know someone who does not attend or participate who must feel out of the loop? Contact them regularly and either help them connect or feed them the information from your connections. This is a shared responsibility. It is more than leadership and staff can do alone.

    Secondly, do you have information that someone in the church should know? Do you need information that you cannot find? Has someone fallen, given birth, had surgery, received bad news, died, won the lottery, become upset, stopped coming to services, moved to Tibet, or reached a significant milestone in life? For all of these and more, please contact the church office. Carrie can efficiently connect you, your question, or your information with the right people to expedite the communication exchange.

    If you’re reading this, then your job is to spread the word about how the word is spread at KSBC. Remember, how beautiful are the feet of those who spread good news! 

    ThuThursdayOctOctober17th2013 God of the Pits

    Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3, ESV)

    This verse struck me significantly during corporate worship this past Sunday—in particular, the notion of being "unsearchable." In thinking on this verse, my mind equates "unsearchable" to the notion of "unfathomable" (in fact, the NIV does translate that way). Something that's unfathomable is a thing whose depth cannot be found. 

    Our family has enjoyed in the past a BBC TV series Planet Earth (it's free at the library, by the way), a documentary with some pretty spectacular visuals of remote places I'll never see otherwise. One of those episodes shows some insane people (my assessment, anyway) free-falling into a vast gulf. It turns out, they're "skydiving" (without the sky part) into the Cave of Swallows, an enormous cavern that would easily fit entire giant sky scrapers within it. I can imagine standing at the edge (well, maybe not really at the edge but, to the point...) and kicking or dropping in a big rock and listening to the silence as it traveled the seemingly bottomless distance. I suspect I'd never hear the thud.

    But there is in fact a bottom. One technically can "fathom" it. It reminds me of other "pits" of the Psalmist that were seemingly bottomless. Like the pit of those who feel separated from God or his counsel, as described in Psalm 28:

    To you, O Lord, I call;
    my rock, be not deaf to me,
    lest, if you be silent to me,
    I become like those who go down to the pit.

    Or the pit of Psalm 40 that is the pit of destruction (self- or otherwise) that just feels like we can't get out because we're so "stuck" in the mire: 

    I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
    He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,

    Or the pit of Psalm 88 that feels like a deep grave, cut-off from God:

    For my soul is full of troubles,
    and my life draws near to Sheol.
    I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
    like one set loose among the dead,
    like the slain that lie in the grave,
    like those whom you remember no more,
    for they are cut off from your hand.
    You have put me in the depths of the pit,
    in the regions dark and deep.
    Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
    and you overwhelm me with all your waves.

    The glorious, praiseworthy reality is that not one of those pits are "unfathomable". The rock does in fact hit a bottom, so to speak. Not so of God's greatness. In contrast, there is no pit into which God's arm cannot reach, for his unfathomable greatness always outstretches the bottom—however seemingly endless—of whatever the pit. And that is the stuff that can erupt in our worship of the unsearchable greatness of God, as we also see in Psalm 103:

    Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
    Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
    who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
    who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

    Do you feel like you're in a deep, seemingly bottomless pit right now? If so, there's good news. No matter how deep the pit feels, you can be confident of this: God's great love is deeper still. Perhaps this is why Paul included "depth" in his list of intimidating things that ultimately prove unable to separate us from the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:38-39).

    Be encouraged. Pits can be scary, hopeless, and disorienting—but they're not unfathomable. Only God's greatness is unfathomable. So let's come together again this Sunday to rejoice in the unsearchable-ness of God, and his redemption of us from all pits, however deep.
    ThuThursdayOctOctober10th2013 Intruderology
    byDon Whipple Tagged News Safety 0 comments Add comment

    We live in a world where safety is a huge issue. Most of us would admit that we have wondered at times not if some act of crazy violence is going to affect us but when. We are familiar with the many warnings from the Bible to run from evil, to hide our lives in the safe places of God’s word and God’s people, and to fight the evil one with all our might using all resources graciously given to us by God. The facts are that violent crimes in and against churches have so dramatically increased in the past 7 years that the instructions to run, hide, and fight take on a disturbingly different meaning.

    Along with the increase in occurrences of abductions, threats, shootings, and sex offenses has been the development of security and response research and training. What appears to be a new word has been coined. “Intruderology” is the study of active shooters and violent intruders and the process of protecting people from them. It is wise to be aware and prepared in light of the increasing dangers in our world. Let me draw your attention to two sources specific to KSBC to both raise awareness and invite thoughtful participation.

    First, please take time to carefully read this report from Brian Baker regarding what is being done currently at KSBC with church security. I thank God for Brian and others who have taken on these things as a ministry for our protection and the advance of the gospel of Christ. Brian not only helps us understand what is being done but also asks for our cooperation in a few strategic ways. I tend to think you will be both pleasantly surprised and grateful after reading this report.

    Second, we want to inform you that we did have two representatives from KSBC attend a recent day-long training session held at Ivy tech entitled Intruder Awareness/Response & Conflict Management for Church Personnel. Mark Ridge and Carrie Ferguson participated in that conference which had the interesting subtitle, Worshipping Faithfully in Uncertain Times! They came away with over 50 pages of notes, several ideas, and a heightened awareness to help our church family in specific ways. Please pray for our Security Team, leadership, and Welcome Team, as over the next few months this information is evaluated and processed for application to our local context. If you have questions, concerns or would like to serve in this specific area of security, please connect with Carrie or Mark through the church office.

    God intended for the church to be a place of refuge and safety. Because of Christ we are to be a people who offer encouragement to the weak, rest for the weary, direction to the lost, hope for the hopeless, and refuge for the overwhelmed. Our hope is in God to the extent that we do pray with great faith for his protection from evil so that we can be and do what God’s grace has changed us to be and do. In this world gripped by sin and death, until Jesus comes and we hear the horn sound, we prepare wisely for the worst. May God grant us such wisdom and grace as we seek him with all our hearts.  

    WedWednesdayOctOctober2nd2013 Appreciating Pastor Appreciation Month
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Encouragement Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, Dwarfism Awareness Month, and Pastor Appreciation Month. And these aren’t even all the issues assigned to October for heightened awareness and action. There are quite a few. Much can be accomplished for all sorts of causes by a concentrated effort to raise awareness.

    I thought about trying to find the origins of Pastor Appreciation Month but came to the conclusion that it does not matter. Regardless of the sometimes prevailing notion that it is another profit-driven conspiracy by the gift and greeting card industry, Pastor Appreciation Month is a great opportunity to raise our awareness about the importance of biblical appreciation and affirmation in our church body. 

    Here are a few thoughts to stimulate energy and action, some gleaned from a quick trip around the blogosphere on this topic.

    • Showing honor and appreciation in specific, continual, and random ways to each other is a huge part of living out the gospel of grace (Rom. 12:10). Grace received launches grace extended to others. The question is not, “Do you feel appreciated?” but rather, “Are you expressing appreciation?” Expected appreciation rarely ever meets expectations. Be creative and excessive in your affirming others in our church. There are so many unrecognized warriors who are working hard, persevering through suffering, and serving faithfully—all within a few feet of you. Pastors may be a part of that crowd, but they are not the only ones worthy of your acknowledgment.
    • Showing honor toward church leaders is so pleasing to God that he made it clear in the Bible for us to do it (Heb. 13:7, 17; Gal. 6:6). It can get complicated at times having sinners taught by sinners and rebels led by rebels. One way that God helps us with that is by assigning us the responsibility to extend grace to each other in regular and liberal amounts. Pastors have an important role to fill and task to perform in our church. Everyone in our church does as well. However, your awareness of the role and function of the four elders at KSBC needs to be raised to recognize their ministry of the word and prayer, their careful oversight of the health of our church, and the example of their sacrificial service for the gospel.
    • The wisdom writer reminds us that humility comes before honor (Prov. 15:33). Like many things, appreciation and affirmation are better caught than taught. The point here is that genuine appreciation or honor does not begin with—nor is it sustained by—a special awareness month. One way you can respond to this special month is by focused prayer for the KSBC pastors, that God will produce a new and growing culture of appreciation around Kossuth through their examples of humility and appreciation of others. Focused prayer for pastors is a good gift. Telling them about it is good as well. 
    I thank God for my pastors, Paul, Tom, and Bill. They are humble and holy men. They love Christ and his church. They have ministered love and grace into my life and family more times than I can count. I thank God for Clyde Truax, Karl Smith, Wilbur Rooke and many others who pastored me from childhood. These men join thousands of others that God has used to help me know and love him better, including you. I thank God for you. Let’s prayerfully raise awareness regarding the power of appreciation.     

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