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    WedWednesdayJulJuly27th2016 Spiritual Anniversaries
    byWill Peycke Tagged Celebration Remembering 1 comments Add comment

    How well do you remember things?

    No, I’m not talking about your tendency to forget where you left your keys or when you scheduled that appointment. I’m asking how you remember important events and occasions by commemorating or celebrating them.

    We all celebrate special days: for many of us, birthdays and wedding anniversaries top the list. Perhaps your list also includes the “anniversary” of the day you graduated, the day you met your best friend, or the day you started your job. For some of us, no anniversary is more significant than the day we said goodbye to a family member or friend.

    How do you remember “spiritual” anniversaries?

    I was reading in Deuteronomy last week and was struck by these phrases in chapter 16:

    Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night” (Deut. 16:1).

    “Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread… that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt” (Deut. 16:3).

    “There you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt” (Deut. 16:6).

    God commanded Israel to “observe the month,” to “remember the day,” and even to offer their sacrifice “at the time” of day when they left Egypt. The exodus was the event that defined Israel’s identity as God’s people, and God knew how important it was for them to commemorate that defining moment. They needed to always remember what God had done for them and who they were as God’s people.

    And how were they to “remember” such a significant occasion? By throwing a party!

    You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter… You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes” (Deut. 16:11-12).

    You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter…” (Deut 16:14).

    Feasting as an act of worship? I could go for that.

    As a church, we remember special days as a community. We commemorate the “anniversary” of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection each year at Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. We gather on Sunday each week to celebrate the resurrection. Jesus told us to observe the Lord’s Table “in remembrance” of him (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25).

    But this week, I’ve been thinking about how valuable it is to also remember personal “spiritual anniversaries.” It may be a less direct application of Israel’s feasts, but I think the connections are still relevant: it’s healthy to pause on the anniversary of significant life events for reflection, celebration, and worship as we remember what God has done for us. In this sense, we aren’t celebrating the event or occasion itself (“Yay! It’s your birthday!”) as much as what God did (“You are one of God’s greatest gifts; I’m so thankful God made you!”).

    Here are a few ways our family has remembered and celebrated “spiritual anniversaries”:

    • Each year on our wedding anniversary, Kay and I look back through our calendar from the previous year and write down significant events and memories in a family journal. This helps us to recognize connections and themes we might otherwise overlook and to remember God’s faithfulness to our family.
    • Kay and I have both found prayer journaling to be a helpful form of reflection and worship at significant times of the year, such as physical or spiritual birthdays or the start of a new school year. Again, looking back through our journal helps us to remember God’s work in our lives and draws us to worship.
    • We inherited from a mentor the practice of each choosing a “word for the year” each January. It might be a character trait we sense God is developing in us or something that we anticipate will be a theme for the coming year. This word often shapes how we pray and watch for God to work over the next twelve months.

    For more ideas, check out this LifeWay article on celebrating spiritual milestones.

    Next up on our family’s list of important events to remember: this weekend marks the one year anniversary of our move to Lafayette. We’ve been talking about how to celebrate it as a family: following Israel’s pattern, the tentative plan involves a feast (pizza and ice cream!), remembering together the events of how God brought us here, and sharing things we are thankful for about our new home and church family.

    What anniversaries of God’s goodness could you celebrate?

    WedWednesdayJulJuly20th2016 God, Help Me
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged Encouragement Prayer 0 comments Add comment

    “I need help!”

    Have you ever said that before? I know I have, plenty of times.

    It reminds me of a time when I went out for a run in the evening. I saw a storm approaching but assured myself that I had plenty of time to get back before it hit. I was wrong. It overtook me with about a mile to go and the thunder and lightning were so strong, my only solution was to duck down in a corn field for protection. I admit the inadequacy of the attempt. I needed help!

    What a relief it was when I saw headlights approaching from a distance, barely visible through the pouring rain. Slowly my wife approached in our vehicle. Recognizing it was her, I leapt to the door and jumped in the car. Saved!

    A need for help is a regular occurrence in our world, in all areas of life. And as proud as we can tend to be, often the cry for help, at least when we are at the end of our rope, comes from us as naturally as drinking water when thirsty. Such a cry transcends the differences between Christian and non-Christian. Life’s disruptions and disasters bring us to a humble call for aid, even from someone who cannot articulate who it is they are crying out to.

    However, as followers of Christ, we do know whom we cry out to and we are assured that the call does not go unheard. In fact, it is godly to cry out to God for help.

    In my personal reading of the Scriptures recently, I’ve noticed the word “help” many times in the Psalms. It is impossible to miss. David uses it often, and for good reason. He needed a lot of help throughout all of his life. He needed help in fighting sin and in dealing with its consequences. He needed help against physical enemies. He needed help in all kinds of situations, and so do we.

    We can call out to God for help because, “God is my helper” (Psalm 54:4). It is in his very nature to help his people. He cares deeply about every situation and is intimately involved.

    Recently I read Psalm 34. “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:17-18). He helps his people as he is always present with them, no matter what the situation.

    The staff team discussed this Psalm in our meeting on Tuesday. One comment in our discussion drew attention to verse 7, where “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” That is awesome. With the strength of an entire army, God surrounds his people and helps them.

    This morning I read Psalm 35. “Contend…with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me…and rise for my help” (Ps. 35:1-2). He helps his people by working justice, either in this life or in the life to come.

    What are you up against? Does life look like it is unraveling right before your eyes? Does God seem far away? Do you doubt he really cares? I assure you he is near and he does care very much. He is committed to helping you at every turn. It is a promise to hold on to and rely on. Despite your interpretation of the situation, God is present and he is helping you.

    Whenever you cry out, “God, help me!” he already is.

    ThuThursdayJulJuly14th2016 Reflecting on Acts
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Acts Sermons Updates 0 comments Add comment

    You might find this hard to believe, but the end of our sermon series in Acts is right around the corner. Since March 1 of last year, we’ve been walking through this great book and learning from its account of God’s work in and through the early church. It’s been a long journey, and some of you may have been wondering whether we’d ever actually make it out of Acts. But with just a few sermons left, the forecast is starting to look promising.

    Personally, I've found our time together in Acts to be remarkably rewarding. I’ve been challenged and confronted. I’ve been strengthened and encouraged. I’ve been motivated and pushed. I’ve been stumped and confused. From week to week, my own interaction with this book has been richly diverse, and yet through it all, my chief response has consistently been worship. The God who stands behind every detail of every story recorded in the book of Acts is a God who is supremely worthy of praise. He loves sinners lavishly, he builds his church intentionally, and he squashes opposition mightily. How can one not worship such a glorious God?

    But as I’ve reflected upon the ways that the book of Acts has shaped and influence me, I’ve naturally started to wonder: “How has the book of Acts shaped and influenced others?”

    You see, God never intended for us to be independent learners. Yes, we all need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But that personal relationship has corporate implications. As we grow in our knowledge of the word and seek to become more like Christ, we don't do so entirely on our own. We do so in close proximity to other people who are doing the very same thing. And often, we’ll find that our own growth and sanctification are fueled by the growth and sanctification of others.

    Practically, what this means for me is that it’s not enough to think only about my own gleanings from Acts; I need to hear the perspectives of others as well. No matter how much time I spend studying the Bible, my vision is always going to be limited. But by exposing myself to the perspectives of other brothers and sisters, I’m able to gain new insights that I might otherwise have missed.

    In a few weeks (August 7, to be exact), I plan to preach the final sermon from Acts, reflecting back on some of the main things we have learned along the way. But given my own limitations and blind spots, I’m realizing that I need help. And that's where you come in.

    If you've been following along with this study, I want to hear from you! Sometime between now and the end of July, I’d love it if you would shoot me a quick email (dhumphrey@ksbc.net) and answer any (or all) of the following questions:

    1. What is one way you’ve grown in your understanding of the gospel as a result of your time in Acts?
    2. What is one area of your life you’ve given greater attention to as a result of your time in Acts?
    3. Is there a particular section or story from Acts that stands out to you or has left an impression?
    4. How would you articulate the overall message of Acts in your own words?

    I’m hoping to incorporate your responses in a few weeks—not just to fill space in my sermon, but to help other people appreciate the wide-reaching impact that a book of the Bible can have on such a diverse group of people as we have at Kossuth. Think of it as one way among many that we can learn from each other.

    Thank you for learning and growing alongside me. I’ll look forward to your emails! 

    ThuThursdayJulJuly7th2016 Miscellaneous Midsummer Musings
    byDan Dillon Tagged News Summer 0 comments Add comment

    We’re in the midst of the summer doldrums and my mind is a bit stuck for what to write. A few Connection Hour lessons are on my mind, but they’re too much for an Elder Blog. So, here’s a few short miscellaneous midsummer musings:

    Speaking of Connection Hour: Mikel Berger, me, and others are doing Psalms downstairs in the Ministry Center and the lessons aren’t particularly consecutive. Upstairs, Drew and Phil Mummert are doing “God and Government” and they are just about to get into some of the contemporary issues at the center of many political discussions. It’s a great time to join either.

    Speaking of politics: Did you miss what is perhaps one of the most important political events of the century (so far)? Britain is leaving the EU. Whatever your opinion was (leave or remain), let’s be happy that the people voted, the leaders are responding, and nobody is setting up an alternative government or ready to go to war. Our God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:40) and Paul asks us to pray for peace (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Let’s pray for continued peace in UK, here at home, and around the world. Let’s praise God when rulers follow the rules.

    Speaking of rules: Praise God for the unanimous vote in favor of changing our Statement of Faith to more clearly address current cultural issues for marriage and family. Now the elders are working on developing policies to implement those changes in areas such as building use and weddings. It will take a few months, because we want to get it right.

    Speaking of getting it right: If you weren’t at KSBC on Father’s Day, listen to Will Peycke’s sermon online. God has blessed us with a remarkable Director of Family Ministry, but there’s more to Will than just family ministry. He hit a home run with his sermon; I look forward to hearing more from him in the pulpit.

    Speaking of baseball: We’ve had an eventful summer having two Lafayette Aviator baseball players in our home. Actually it’s been something of a non-event: they have been communicative, respectful, and have kept their room clean. But having raised two girls, do these guys eat! We’re happy to bless the community by supporting the players and it’s been good to get to know them.

    Speaking of our girls: Both of our daughters are completing their doctorates and starting their first jobs. They graduated high school same year, got married the same year, and now this. It’s been a blessing to see them finish off and work through the job search process. It’s been a blessing, too, to see their marriages start well. We pray for all four of them regularly. We really have gained two sons-in-laws.

    Finally: I have been at the same job for 10 years (longest yet), in the same location for 10 years (a few years shy of the longest), a member of this church for 8 years (also a few years shy of the longest), and an elder for little over a year. It’s great to feel settled after many years of changing jobs and locations. Along with the feeling of settledness, comes a feeling of connectedness: I know a lot of people, I care for a lot of people, and I can help a lot of people. It’s a bit overwhelming at times. Although I want to help, I can’t do everything I want to do. And I have a day job. I can only begin to imagine what it is like for Abraham, Drew, and Will to care for us “full time”. This is where God’s grace and providence comes in. He empowers us and he sets our limits. He keeps us focused on him and his agenda and not on us and our agenda. Let’s pray for our pastors.

    Did I say something about the summer doldrums? It seems that God is at work plenty.

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