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    Elders' Blog - Entries from February 2014

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    ThuThursdayFebFebruary27th2014 Let's Do It Again
    byDon Whipple Tagged Events Prayer 0 comments Add comment

    The stomach flu, weeks of snow and below zero temperatures, your 11-year-old nephew’s trombone recital, and root canals all have something in common. Rarely do you hear anyone say afterward, “Let’s do it again!”

    There is nothing quite as distinctive about biblical Christianity as an individual being able to confidently uncover their soul before God in prayer, unless it is doing that with other like-minded people. There is something profoundly attractive and comforting about genuinely expressing mutual dependence and hope in God with others in prayer. I think this explains why the most common response I have heard to our recent season of fasting and prayer has been, “Let’s do it again.” It is almost like we just got off the really fast ride at the theme park or threw our first firecracker at the neighbor’s cat—can we do it again?

    The answer, while obvious, is not without its challenges. Yes we can do it again. Yes, we should have more special emphases of fasting and prayer along with growing and developing our current opportunities for sharing in these disciplines together. Consider some ways for you to nurture and grow what God may have stirred up in your heart over the past few weeks.

    Perhaps you have had your first taste of fasting for spiritual purposes. Don’t wait for another church wide effort to grow this blessed discipline in your life. Ask one of the church leaders for material to answer your questions and expand your understanding. Seek out a respected friend who is farther down the road in their walk with God to coach and encourage you. Engage your Care Group to pray for you as you pursue God in this way.

    Most likely the special emphasis of setting aside four days had its greatest impact by highlighting something that we know we should do regularly but have allowed it to be forced to the periphery of our lives. We may have to honestly admit that focusing on something for four days at a time is easier than the hard choices required to make prayer and fasting a routine part of our weekly experience.

    With that in mind, let me remind you of a few ways that you can renew your commitment to the work of prayer with others in our existing structures and schedules. First, we do have a time of corporate prayer on Wednesday evening each week at 6:45 pm in the sanctuary. Typically a 20-minute devotional study from the scriptures is followed by small groups gathering all around the room for prayer guided by a weekly prayer sheet focused on current church needs.

    Another opportunity for you to continue your momentum is by participating in your Care and Connection Group times of prayer with renewed enthusiasm. Encourage your leaders by praying for them. Share with others what God is teaching you. Model joyful dependence on God in your prayers. Track specific ways you can pray for members of your group.

    There are many other ways to continue the work God has ignited in your life regarding prayer and fasting. Yep, we can do it again, but we encourage you to find ways to keep it going until we do. I am praying along with you that God will give us grace to see and make the hard decisions required to experience the joy of being and becoming a dependent people.

    While I have your attention regarding prayer, please pray for our leadership as we have an elder/staff retreat scheduled this weekend. We plan to meet for extended times of fellowship, interaction and prayer. Please ask God to bless our time with renewal, wisdom, and refreshment. Your partnership in this way is greatly appreciated.  

    WedWednesdayFebFebruary19th2014 Hungry for God
    byDon Whipple Tagged Events Prayer 0 comments Add comment

    If God hasn’t changed his mind about responding in surprising ways when his people seek him, then we have every reason to be joyfully expectant around Kossuth these days. As we walk through our 4-day season of fasting and prayer, we are encouraging and expecting each other to invest special and unusual effort in seeking the Lord.

    Seeing the big picture can be a huge encouragement to press on and learn new ways of engaging with God and other believers. By “bigger picture” things I mean those results, actions, movements, and breakthroughs that God causes as a result of seeking him with seriousness. While at times these are not easily or quickly seen from our individual perspectives, they are what most of us would say we want or hunger for more than anything else. Here are five encouraging examples of what God does as a result of his people seeking hard after him in believing prayer. Let them spur you on in these days of intentional and committed prayer.

    God gives comfort and clarity to his people. Acts 1:12-14 describes a group of people who were dealing with the shock of their Lord being crucified, coming back to life, and leaving them. In addition one member of their group had made a horrible mistake that ended with taking his own life. More than a bit confused and reeling from unexpected life-altering events, they prayed with devotion. The story of the gospel advancing in power throughout the world was one result of their devotion to prayer.

    God restores broken relationships. Jesus taught us that one result of spending devoted time with God is that we may be reminded of unresolved tensions with other believers (Matt. 5:21-26). How cool it would be in the days ahead to hear stories of grace-filled and humble reconciliation that leads to restored expressions of love among us!

    God gives specific and fruitful guidance. Acts 13:1-3 describes a healthy church perhaps asking the question, “Where do we go from here?” and making the statement, “We want to know and follow God more than anything.” This church was experiencing God’s favor in conversions and baptisms but was aggressively seeking whatever God had for them next. As a result of their corporate prayer and fasting, God made it clear to them to send some of their members out as missionaries that lead to incredible gospel fruitfulness. 

    God encourages weary leaders and followers. Acts 14:19-23 is the bone chilling account of a time when the ministry of the gospel faced severe opposition. The Apostle Paul was stoned, dragged outside the city, and left for dead. In terms of military strategy, the forces of evil went for decapitation. Kill the leader and the followers will run. Even though Paul survived and went on to further service, the cost of following Jesus was clearly higher than ever before. One way for God’s people to find new and renewed courage is doing what the bruised and beaten Apostle did. Join other believers in fasting and prayer.

    God multiplies the number of disciples. There are a number of examples both in scripture and throughout history of God stirring the hearts of the unconverted to saving faith as a result of devoted prayer. Acts 6:1-7 is one example of how protecting and practicing the centrality of prayer results in the increase of new disciples to the church.

    I am praying along with the elders and leadership team that these days of devoted prayer both individually and with others will yield joyful fruit of increased joy, faith and hope. So as Abraham (the one married to Kari, not Sarah and ... umm a few others) said ... have a blast.

    Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.

    [Click here to learn more about the season of fasting and prayer and access the daily prayer guide.]

    TueTuesdayFebFebruary11th2014 Good News for Weary Souls

    In some of my free time this week, I have enjoyed tuning into the 2014 Olympics. Granted, I have no clue what’s going on in most of the events (probably because sports like snowboarding and cross-country skiing are hard to get into when you live among the cornfields of rural Indiana). But one thing that I have noticed is how small the margin for error is in many of the competitions. A fraction of an inch in a short track speed skating race can be the difference between taking the lead and wiping out. A momentary lapse in judgment while speeding down a mountain at 70 miles per hour on a pair of skis can send you flying off the course.

    Just imagine the pressure that these athletes must be under. The whole world is watching. Your entire country is counting on you to succeed. Years and years of training and sacrifice will all come down to a 2-minute race where the tiniest mistake can leave you face down in snow and ice. And if you mess up, it’s not like you’ll be able to try again tomorrow. You’ll have to wait four years for another chance. (And that’s only if you’re fortunate enough to make the Olympic team next time around.)

    This kind of pressure can be exhilarating—after all, can you imagine a greater rush than carrying the hopes of a nation on your back as you launch into a triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination at the end of your figure skating routine? Yet it can also be exhausting. Living under the constant fear that you might mess up and lose to the Russians will eventually leave you anxious, overwhelmed, and weary.

    But the pressure experienced by Olympic athletes is nothing compared to the pressure many of us live under on a daily basis—the pressure to earn or maintain God’s favor by our performance. Many of us go about our Christian lives with a still, small voice whispering in the back of our minds, “Don’t let God down.” We fear that a bad word or an honest doubt or a forgotten devotional time will cause the Almighty to shake his head in disgust at our pathetic ability to meet his standards. And the longer we live beneath the weight of that fear, the more exhausted we become.

    But there’s good news. If you’re in the Olympics, everything depends on your capacity to harness your physical abilities and apply them with a flawless level of artistic beauty and scientific precision. In the Christian life, however, everything depends on Jesus. Your success isn’t up in the air; it has already been firmly and eternally secured by the fact that Jesus lived a perfect life in full conformity to God’s standards, he resolutely refused to sin, and he has transferred his record of perfection to you.

    So if you’re feeling burdened or weary from constantly trying to “prove” yourself to God, take refuge in the fact that you don’t have to and you never will. Jesus has proven everything for you! As a fellow seminary student pointed out to me one time, “God is as pleased with you as he is with his Son.” And if your soul rests in Jesus, this truth is yours to enjoy.

    The pressure is off! You can ski down the mountain knowing that the gold medal has already been won.

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary6th2014 Global Outreach Support
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Missions 1 comments Add comment

    It is uncommon to do or buy something today that does not include a recognized system of support. You take a risk when you buy an appliance without a toll-free number or website to refer to as you begin to use the new machine. Most of your technology is supported by a complex and highly trained system of people and more technology. Even in running races and cycling events there are volunteers whose job is to support those participating in these events with food, drink, and medical services. 

    We are growing in our appreciation of the truth that a product or an event is only as effective as the support system connected to it. The same is true in global outreach.

    We had the great joy at Family Gathering last Sunday of interacting with Ryan and Kristen as they prepare to move to East Asia to teach English at a university there. They shared with us stories of how their needs and concerns have been cared for by God and his people in amazing ways. They reminded us of the impact and influence that the entire KSBC family has had on them for the past 14 years since they began at Kossuth as college students. We were able to gather around them and pray for them. We also had the joy of celebrating Jesus with them by remembering his death and resurrection as we shared the bread and the cup. It was a sad and joyful time of saying good-bye to some of our own who are going.

    We were also reminded that our responsibility of global outreach is not only about going but it is about sending as well. Going without sending is like a new product without support. Our church family in fact is a multi-tiered support system for the ones who go. One website explains their understanding of providing technical support in this way: 

    The reason for providing a multi-tiered support system instead of one general support group is to provide the best possible service in the most efficient possible manner. Success of the organizational structure is dependent on the technicians’ understanding of their level of responsibility and commitments, their customer response time commitments, and when to appropriately escalate an issue and to which level.

    That’s it. We are global ministry technicians. That’s what our role is in getting the good news to the end of the earth. We are a part of a multi-tiered support system that must understand our responsibility and commitments and do them in a timely and efficient manner. A few ideas to learn and develop your responsibility as a sender and strengthen your commitment include:

    • Take time to become familiar with the partners listed on the KSBC website missions page
    • Check out this website for ideas, helpful videos, and other links 
    • Ask God to increase your passion to obey him by participating daily in some way as a sender

    Our Missions Team is excited and growing in their understanding of how to help us be an effective and efficient multi-tiered support team for those who go. Not only do they deserve all the support we can give them, but God has so ordered that we share in the joy of reaching the nations with them.

    A good argument can be made that the other thing going on last Sunday evening was simply a matter of inefficient and ineffective support. Peyton could have used more support for sure.

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