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    Elders' Blog - Entries from April 2017

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    WedWednesdayAprApril26th2017 No Fear
    byTom Humphrey Tagged Fear Trust 1 comments Add comment

    NO FEAR. Most of us have probably seen this logo on someone’s shirt or on a bumper sticker. I have always wondered if it really represented a bravado that would prove to be a false one if confronted with a certain situation or threat. No fear. Is it possible to live like that for real? Or are we doomed to false bravado on a logo? 

    If you have lived any time at all, you have faced or felt fear of some sort. The situations that may develop fear in our thinking are many. It may be an uncertain financial future, the potential loss of job, facing an illness with an unknown outcome, a phone call from a child to announce their safe arrival that has not yet come, or unexpected news that rocks our world. If only we could live “no fear” lives.

    To be honest, I have been struggling with this recently, wondering what the future may hold for my life. I have felt fear that things will never improve with a certain situation or that I will not have enough money to retire or that…you get the point.

    I recently came across a song by Casting Crowns entitled "Oh My Soul" that has haunted and challenged me with its words regarding fear. The chorus of the song goes like this:

    Oh my soul, you are not alone
    There’s a place where fear
    Has to face the God you know

    These words have forced me to think about just who is the God I know. When faced with fear, who is the God I turn to? How does He stack up against my fears? Is He big enough to handle them? Can He be trusted with them?

    Not surprisingly, Scripture has something to say about fear. In a familiar passage, the Psalmist tells us, “Even though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4). Paul reminds Timothy in that God has given us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7). Perhaps one of the most compelling verses is Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Read those words again and let them sink in.

    I sought the Lord – The eternal God of the universe who created all things and sacrificed his own Son for me.

    He answered – He hears me and responds.

    He delivered me – The Lord cares for me.

    From all my fears – ALL. ALL. ALL.

    We will always face fear of some sort at various times in our lives. The question is what we will do when it comes upon us. Does it consume us? Will we fume and fret? Or, will we seek the Lord?

    The next time you are faced with fear, let the words of the song motivate you to let your fears face the God you know.

    Oh my soul, you are not alone
    There’s a place where fear has to face
    The God you know. 

    ThuThursdayAprApril20th2017 3 Reasons to Stay Home the Next 20 Weeks
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged James Sermons 1 comments Add comment

    This Sunday morning, I’ll walk to the pulpit, tell the assembled masses, “Good morning,” and then issue these instructions for the first time of many: “Please open your Bible to the book of James.”

    Having made it through Exodus (and more recently, our 5-week Easter series), it’s time to turn our attention to what’s next. And what’s next is a book that you’ll probably want to avoid if you can at all help it.

    Usually, at a time like this, I’d write a hyped-up article about why our new sermon series will be wonderful and life-transforming and something not to be missed for any reason whatsoever. But I feel like being a bit more honest and realistic this time around. So instead, I submit to you a few reasons why I’d advise that you stay home every Sunday morning until this series in the book of James is over (which, according to my current calculations, will take around 20 weeks).

    1. James will go where you don’t want to go.

    Everyone knows it’s not polite to talk about money, right? Well, apparently James never got that memo. In this book, it takes him exactly nine verses to dive into the subject of poverty and wealth. And that’s just the first of many unflinching forays into the topic, culminating with this bombastic exclamation in chapter 5: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.”

    Seriously, you may just want to stay home.

    Whether it’s money, suffering, judgment, or church seating arrangements, James appears unfazed by the things we consider taboo and unfit for discussion in polite society. He draws our attention to things we might prefer to ignore. He doesn’t care about the things we consider off-limits.

    2. James will hit you way too close to home.

    We love it when the Bible talks about those big sins. You know the ones I’m talking about—the really sordid, heinous things we’d never dream of actually doing. When we read about those, we can enjoy the luxury of getting all righteously indignant without having to feel guilty.

    But James has a knack for talking about those other sins—the sins that make themselves at home in our lives, the sins that snuggle with us on the couch and drink milk straight out of the carton, the domesticated sins that we live comfortably with every day. Like prejudice. And careless words. And laziness. And boasting. Oh yeah, and greed.

    This won’t be the kind of series you can sit through while nodding, smiling, and looking out the corner of your eye at that bad, sinful person sitting next to you. Sooner or later, you’ll get pelted right between the eyes. And that’s no fun.

    3. James will challenge your theology.

    If a guest speaker showed up in our church and taught, “A person is justified by works, and not by faith alone,” we’d all run that guy out faster than you can say, “Heresy!” But lo and behold, James shows up in our Bibles and says exactly that (see Jas. 2:24).

    Or what if an elder showed up at your front door when you’re at home sick, wanting to pour some oil on your head and pray for your healing? Think you might be wondering what kind of crazy cult you’ve gotten yourself into? Well, prepare to wrestle with James 5:14: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

    Apparently James played hooky a few too many times during seminary.

    Hopefully you’re getting the point. If you like carefree Sunday mornings, you should probably start making alternative plans. Find a nice brunch spot. Go hiking in the woods. Put your Netflix subscription to use. Pull the covers over your head and sleep in. But whatever you do, don’t come to Kossuth.

    See you Sunday.

    ThuThursdayAprApril13th2017 Do You Love Them?
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged No tags 1 comments Add comment

    “We are called to love others. We share the gospel because we love people. And we don’t share the gospel because we don’t love people.” – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

    Ouch. That is something I read this week and talked about with a couple of friends over breakfast. It hit home. I didn’t like it. I’m tempted to ignore the statements.

    When I think about reaching out to my neighbors with the gospel I realize I fail in a lot of ways. I can give you a long list of reasons why, when it comes down to extending the message of hope and reconciliation to others, I simply hold back.

    But a lack of love is not on that list.

    In fact, the very thought makes me uncomfortable. I think I do love people in a lot of ways, so I tend to assess myself as a loving person. But then those three sentences shove themselves right in my face and confront me with an opposing truth: I don’t love non-believers.

    Now, the last thing you and I need is another addition to our list of failures, burdening us with more low-grade guilt. I don’t pray enough. I should read my Bible more. I need to lose those pounds. I should call my mom. I need to get caught up on my budget. And yes, I need to share my faith more. But that has nothing to do with love, right? It’s more about obedience, isn’t it?

    “No, it really is about love.”

    Please allow me to explain. I love my boys like crazy. They mean the world to me. I’d throw myself in front of a bus for them if that is what it took to care for their lives. That’s my role and it is a role I embrace. I work hard for a number of reasons, one being to provide all their needs and as many desires as I can. I love being their dad because I love them.

    Further, I pray for their salvation regularly. In fact, of all the things I want most for my boys, it is that God would draw them to himself and save them. Therefore, we talk about Jesus. It is in the songs we sing. It is in the prayers we pray. We even have a fancy iPad app that helps them understand Jesus and their need for him.

    I do this not because I have to or because I feel guilty when I don’t. It is not a chore to me. It is a natural desire and action simply out of love for them. I want them to know God so I point them to God.

    So why can’t I say the same about my neighbor? Why can’t I say the same about the cashier at Panera that I see frequently? It’s because I fail to love them.

    But here is the hope. I don’t want another piece of guilt-inducing garbage thrown on my ever growing pile of disappointments in myself. Rather, I reach into the grace-filled storehouse of God’s promises.

    I don’t muster love for others. I rely on God’s Spirit to produce such in me, on the inside. He bears fruit in me that is love (Gal. 5:22).

    Easter weekend is upon us. It offers yet another great opportunity to love people by pointing them to Jesus who died for sins and was raised from the dead. Telling your co-workers, family and neighbors about him is the most loving thing you can do. But join me not by mustering it up and sweating through a guilt-driven, forced opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Rather, join me by stopping right now to pray as an individual or family, asking God to fill you with love for the least and the lost in our city, and then take a step of faith. It is the most loving thing you can do for them.

    ThuThursdayAprApril6th2017 Showers and Flowers
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Endurance Life Suffering 0 comments Add comment

    Here in Lafayette, the month of April has had a soggy start. In fact, as I write this, the rainfall over the last few days has resulted in a flood warning for our area. Personally, I’m kind of sick of the rain. It’s making me grumpy.

    But there’s an old adage that brings me hope. You’ve probably heard it, too. April showers bring May flowers. As dreary and wet as some of these days have been, there’s joy in the anticipation of all the bright colors and new life that are soon to come our way. This rain isn’t purposeless. It will yield a bounty of vegetation in due time.

    I suspect there may be a lesson for us here that extends far beyond the weather.

    In life, things can get soggy sometimes. In fact, there’s another rain-related adage that comes to mind: When it rains, it pours. One thing goes wrong, and then suddenly ten more things go wrong right behind it. Disappointments multiply. Frustration leads to more frustration. In a world that doesn’t always do what we want it to, it’s easy to get bogged down in the muddiness of life.

    But what if we could step back for a moment and gain a bigger perspective? What if the rainy seasons of our lives could be seen in relationship to something greater? What if in our April showers of discouragement and frustration we could have our outlook transformed by the hope of flowers in May?

    According to the Bible, these “what ifs” aren’t merely hypothetical.

    For example, if you’re in a season of discipline, things may look pretty bleak at the moment. But Hebrews 12:11 offers hope: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” There’s something better coming. The unpleasantness of the discipline will ultimately give way to righteousness.

    If you’re in a season of suffering, it may feel like every day is a downpour. But consider what your suffering will bring you, according to Romans 5:3-5: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.” Suffering waters the seeds of hope in our lives, causing them in due time to burst into full and radiant bloom.

    If you’re in a season of trials, the sunshine of joy may be distant. But 1 Peter 1:6-7 points your gaze toward the future: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Your trial is intended to give way to something stunningly superior.

    Rainy days are inevitable. We’re all going to have them. And for many of us, those days will turn into weeks, and those weeks may even turn into months or years. But during those times, we need not grow disillusioned by the puddles. The same God who sends down the rain also calls forth the flowers. And although you may need an umbrella today, sooner or later God will reveal the magnificent results of the work he’s been doing.

    So hang in there. The flowers are coming.

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