Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Challenge to Single Men

“How do I know if I’m Ready for Marriage?”; I’m often asked this question by single men. It seems to me that this question is daunting to many men in our culture. Yet I believe young Christian men need to step up to this question and take the challenge seriously. I offer the following questions for you to consider yourself if you are a single man as to your readiness for the relationship of marriage. If you’re discipling or have influence with a single man, you might consider these subjects in your conversation to stir him “to love and good works”. If you’re a single woman, please think thru these character qualities as you consider dating someone. 

Before you start, please hear me, no one will meet these criteria perfectly, no one, but as you think thru this, ask “Am I/is he growing in these areas. The Christian life is identified by growth, not by perfection.  regarding what it is to be a godly man. I pray that this document will stir the hearts of the reader to pursue progressive sanctification for the glory of God and for the good of your soul, whether you’re single or married.

1. Are you truly a Child of God?
o  Have you truly repented of your sin and self-righteousness and fully trusted in Christ alone for your eternal life and for your identity in Christ?

2. How long have you been a believer?
o  Wisdom and maturity come over time. It is very unusual for a “rookie Believer” to be ready for a serious relationship. You must first seek to grow and develop your relationship with God before you’re ready to develop an intimate, human relationship.
o  How long depends on the individual, but I would suggest that it most often will take 1-2 years to learn what it means to be a disciple; it takes time to establish new habits and demonstrate true life-change. 

3. Can you accurately and clearly articulate the Gospel? Are you able to present a clear picture, off-the-cuff, of the following key elements of the Gospel?
o  Who is God and what is He like?
o  What does the Bible say about what it means to be human? Where did we come from and why are we here on earth?
o  What does the Bible say about sin? Where did sin originate and what are the effects of sin?
o  Who is Christ and what has He done to deal with sin?
o  What is grace and why is grace integral to dealing with the problem of sin?
o  What kind of response does the Gospel call for from sinful, fallen humans?
o  What are the results that give evidence that a person has fully embraced the above truths? 

4. What are the specific results in your own life that demonstrate that you have, in fact embraced the Gospel for yourself?
o  True salvation will demonstrate a heart-change manifested in different words and actions. What are the tangible differences that you’ve seen in your life as a result of your salvation? Is there a growing difference between you and your unbelieving friends? If not, why not? If not, what do you believe God would have you do?
o  If a young lady has a father that is thinking biblically and wisely, this ought to be one of his main concerns about you. If you have not developed a life-style that demonstrates that you have been transformed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, why would a godly father allow his daughter to develop a relationship with you?
o  If, as a single man, you haven’t demonstrated a hunger and thirst for righteousness and a desire to serve the Lord, it is highly unlikely that you will love and lead a wife the way the Scriptures commands.

5. What are your personal, spiritual disciplines? 
o  Are you pursuing and walking in integrity and purity thru a focused, biblical prayer-life and a disciplined pursuit of God thru daily reading, studying and meditating on scripture?
o  Are you being discipled? Are you learning how to handle the Bible biblically?
o  What does your discipler/parent say about your overall maturity? 
o  What do they say about your “readiness” to be a head of a household? 
o  How do you respond when others suggest you need to grow in certain areas?

6. Are you a committed member of a local church?
o  A man who is not willing to submit to authority is a man who is not likely ready to lead others. It takes humility and submission to lead in a way that inspires others to submit to you.
o  Have you served long enough to have considered how God may have gifted you?
o  Do have a vision for where your life might best glorify God?
o  Are you committed to growing as a servant of the Lord by serving others?

7. What is your reputation in the local church?
o  Do you know your elders? What do they say about your maturity, integrity and your heart for serving others? 
o  What do those who know you say about your integrity? Would they say that you live out your claim of Christianity? (1 John 2:6)
o  Have you served long enough that others who know you can identify your giftings?
o  Do others ask you to help because you’ve developed a reputation of serving and caring for others?
o  What others say about your maturity and commitment to serve God in the local church can be a good indicator of your “readiness” for marriage. If you have not shown yourself to be faithful in serving others, it’s not likely that you will serve your wife “and give yourself up for her” the way the Bible calls you to.

8. What are your closest relationships like?
o  Do you have a healthy, respectful relationship with your parents? 
o  Do you invite them to speak into your life and decisions? 
o  How do you show love and compassion to your parents and siblings?
o  Have you learned how to seek and offer forgiveness?
o  Do you have any broken relationships that you refuse to reconcile?
o  Have your dating relationships been pure and respectful? 

9. Are you growing in your ability to lead others spiritually?
o  Are you discipling others less mature than you are?
o  Do you take opportunities to speak into others’ lives spiritually – in the church body, at school and/or work?
o  Are you concerned with others relationship with the Lord?

Men, no one will be able to say “yes” to 100% of these questions, however if you lack the desire to grow in these areas, you would be wise to post-pone seeking a long-term relationship. 

If you, and others who know you, can say that you are growing in these areas and that your heart desires to continue to grow within the community of the local church, then you may be ready to consider seeking a life-long help-mate. As you move forward, seek good counsel from someone who will speak the truth to you about your maturity to help you make wise, well-informed choices.

You might work thru the book, Marry Wisely, Marry Well, by Ernie Baker for help in thinking thru these themes more specifically.
For help with understanding how to know God’s will, check out Decision Making and the Will of God, by Greg Koukl, (CD Audio or Mp3 download @ https://store.str.org)


May God bless you as you seek to know Him. As you do, you will be equipped to love and lead a wife for her good and for God’s glory.




Kent Kloter

Friday, December 1, 2017

Who would you recommend?

Pastors often get asked their opinions on authors. Sometimes it is an easy answer, and sometimes it is complicated. Some books I would recommend highly. Some books are “gleaners”—meaning that one can glean some good things out of it, but I can’t stand behind all of it. Some books are too difficult for me to recommend.

Long ago, Kevin Sauder, now senior pastor at New Castle Bible Church, interned at Bethany Community. He put together a great resource for us called a Discernment Guide. It helps us to think through whether a resource is man-centered or God-centered. 

At the end of the resource, an “incomplete list of recommended authors” is listed. I love the wording of it. It is not saying that the guide has the corner on the market on knowledge. There are others that are just as good if not better. 

In that vain, let me give you my incomplete list of recommended authors that have blessed me beyond measure:

Kevin DeYoung: DeYoung is a pastor who just moved to help lead a church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has a great blog located on the Gospel Coalition site (https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung) and has authored some very helpful books like:
Crazy Busy
Taking God at His Word
Just Do Something

Mark Dever: A pastor in our nation’s capital and leader of 9Marks ministries, Dever’s love for the local church and desire to equip her are something for other pastors to model.
Helpful books to me by Dever are:
9 Marks of a Healthy Church
What is a Healthy Church?
Discipling
Other great audio, video and resources at www.9marks.org

John Piper: Piper’s name will be long remembered in Christiandom from his time as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota to his works and messages logged at www.desiringgod.org. Helpful books:
Don’t Waste Your Life
A Godward Life
Desiring God
Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ
Let the Nations Be Glad

Tim Challies: A pastor in Canada, I am most familiar with him through his blog where he writes but also posts a list of the 5-7 most helpful articles/blogs he finds on the internet each day.

I am so thankful for the many resources available—of these men and so many other men and women. There are so many more I could list. Hope this helps.


Pastor Ben

Friday, November 17, 2017

Two Kinds of Belief


What must a person do to be saved? The answer from Scripture is clear enough: Believe in Jesus! Some of the most familiar words of Scripture are found in John 3:16 which says whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have eternal life. Similarly, John 3:36 affirms that whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (see also John 5:24; 11:25; 12:46; 20:31; Acts 16:31). But what does it mean to believe in Jesus? In the Gospel of John, we read about belief numerous times and learn that there are at least two kinds of belief: belief that is superficial and belief that is genuine. I will cite an example of each from John’s Gospel.

First, an example of superficial belief. In John 2:23-25 we read, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” In these verses, a number of people are said to have believed in Jesus’ name, and yet Jesus didn’t entrust himself to them because he knew what was going on in their hearts. Jesus knew that their belief was superficial. The people who had believed in Jesus’ name had done so because they were enthralled by the signs (miracles) he had performed, but their belief was not genuine.
Thus, it is necessary to ask, “What is the nature of true belief?”  

We can look at the account of Jesus’ healing the official’s son in John 4:46-54 as an example of true belief. In this passage, an official comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his son who was extremely ill. Jesus told the official to “Go!” and that his son would be healed. In verse 50 we learn that the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. In other words, the official trusted that what Jesus said would happen, namely, that his son would be healed, would indeed happen. The official believed in Jesus (John 4:54)! We can conclude that true belief is trusting in Jesus.

We return to the question, what must a person do to be saved? The answer remains the same: Believe in Jesus! We understand that believing in Jesus is more than mere intellectual affirmation of the truths about Jesus. True belief is placing our full trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. 


Blake Gerber


Friday, November 10, 2017

Youth and Membership

On next Saturday, November 18th, Pastor Daniel is teaching a membership class. For the most part, it will be the same as all the classes that have gone before it, however, there will also be one difference. For this membership class we have very intentionally and specifically invited our High School students to join it. This doesn't mean they weren't invited in the past, just that we've blatantly invited them to this class and all our future classes. All this may lead to a few questions about membership in our church and how that relates to our youth and why we have made this shift, or at least, extra emphasize.

I think a few main questions might be similar to, "Why should teens be members when they already act as and feel a part of the church?" or "Why should teens be members when their parents already have membership?"

With those questions in mind I have a few thoughts that might help us process through this…

1) Contrary to what our culture seems to emphasize with a weird hybrid category of "adult-kiddom" known as adolescence where a young person is seen to not be very accountable or responsible and yet is placed in positions where those are necessary, the Bible seems to present us with 2 main categories… that of child and adult. Within this model, Scripture always presents the constant process of growth and striving for adulthood (not for the perks and freedom, but instead for having godly actions and character as an adult) as that which it to be pursued. To see models of this look at Eph 4:13-14, 1 Cor 13:11, Heb 5:12-14, & 1 Cor 3:1-2. 

All that said, there is no unique category for youth/adolescence/teens in the Bible in relation to church involvement. Either you are saved and part of the church or you are not saved and not part of it... There aren't any other options. If you claim to be saved and part of it then that means the next steps are to proclaim that to others (baptism), submit to the leadership in it and commit to it (membership), and begin helping others (serving). That is the Biblical model given for all believers, whether 13, 30, or 130 years old.

2) Somewhat connected to the premise of #1, we need to have a shift in our thinking. Teens are called to take responsibility and serve like everyone else in the church. We strongly believe this and intentionally have started ministries within our youth program to help emphasize this. Our Age 2 Age ministry gives our students a chance to interact with and share life and a relationship with saints in our church who are older than the youth. Our Students Ministering to Students ministry gives them opportunities to care for those in their own peer group. Our service projects allow them to care for other in our church and community. Actions of service like these are a huge part of maturing toward adulthood through the teen years. 

With this in mind, while membership does mean that the church will intentionally give focused care to you both for growth and correction, it is also much more. Membership is not just about what I get, but even more about what I give. Membership is a way doors are opened for a believer to more fully serve others. This applies to older adults as well as our youth.


Conclusion:

With commitment and selfless service on the decline over all in our society, what better way is there to help train up the youth of this generation than telling them that God has built and calls them toward more. Our youth are built with hearts, emotions, energy, and strength God has given them to radically invest into His kingdom work. Membership is a very helpful means toward that end. Our youth are longing for connection and community that can't be found online or in secular institutions. Membership brings them into a community that lasts and has an eternal purpose. 

In short Membership is not just for the older adults of our church. It is for our teens, who by God's grace, are striving toward adulthood, using their gifts and abilities to benefit the Kingdom within the context and community of our church.



May the Lord continue to bless and grow our church!
Phil




Want to think about this more? Here are a few articles to read through…


2. Overview of Why be a member:

3. Good in depth look at becoming a member:




Friday, November 3, 2017

7 Questions to Nurture God-Honoring Conversations

Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I can still “see” Miss Farley preaching that with great emphasis to my 4th grade class. She’d raise her voice and shake her fist in the air as if she was beating this into our heads. I would look around the class wondering if other people were buying this; I certainly didn’t. Even as a 7-year-old, I knew that wasn’t true. I’d been on the harsh end of a few confrontations, in fact I can still ‘hear’ my class-mate John’s voice on the south side of Edison School playground calling me a name. I’m sure you can relate to being on both sides of conversations and conflicts like this. When you’ve said some hurtful words to another person, do you ever wish for “a do-over”? I have many times.

I’d like to offer the following seven questions to help us plan ahead so that we can be more likely to offer 
“words that build up and not tear down.” Perhaps you can share them with your children or grandchildren and begin training little minds with a different way to approach others who may disagree with them. Maybe we might learn to model this in the process.

1. Am I willing to pray first?    Pray for a Christ-like attitude. Eph. 4 begins with Paul’s urging to live and act in Christ-like humility and gentleness. If you notice, this is the first application of the life-changing power of the Gospel as revealed in chapters 1-3. This also is the beginning of a very practical treatise of how to live in harmonious human relationships. Notice the practical commands and heart-attitudes in chapter 4 alone. Pray for God’s help Pr. 3:5b says we are to acknowledge God in everything we do. John 14:13-14 says, “13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Pray, believing that God will in fact give you all you need to think and act in a way that will please Him.
2. Am I fostering a “Log-hunting” mentality? Jesus, in Matt. 7:5, commands us to “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The clear implication is that individual who fails to “log-hunt” is unable to see clearly regarding any imperfections in another person. “Log-hunting” is clearly one of the most important elements in redeeming conflict.
3. Am I sure that I have the facts right? Pr. 18:13 says that a person who makes statements or comes to conclusions before having the facts is a shameful fool. Make sure that you understand both sides of an issue before coming to conclusions. Always encourage yourself and others to take personal responsibility to respond with godly attitudes and responses, regardless of other’s failures. 
4. Should love cover? 1 Pet. 4:8 says that “love covers a multitude of sins.” When you are sinned against, meditate on the immense amounts of mercy that God has given you each day before responding to others. Christ-exalting love will choose mercy first and be willing to overlook many offenses. Pray for wisdom to know when love should speak and when love should cover. Thankfully, God does not confront us about our every single sin; if he did, we wouldn’t survive.
5. Is my timing wise? If a conversation is necessary, Pr. 15:11 describes the effects of words offered at the right time and the right way. The KJV version puts it this way, “A word fitly spoken [is like] apples of gold in pictures of silver.” You’ve no doubt heard true words that were spoken at an inappropriate time; these words can be very painful and debilitating. 
6. Is my attitude right? Eph. 4:15 says that the goal or our words should be to strengthen or build up the other person’s soul. Truth can be spoken in such a way that actually harms or discourages another person. Truthful words without grace is painful at best, and is often hurtful and harmful.
7. Are my words loving? Eph. 4:15 says that our words should be motivated out of love for the other person. “Love is contra-conditional, other-focused, selfless giving (in this case, the giving of words), for the eternal good of the other person, to the end that God is glorified.”



Kent Kloter

Friday, October 27, 2017

Reformation Sunday- Why Should I Care?

What’s the big deal with Reformation Day?  Why should I be reminded about it? Why should I care?  October 31, 1517 was the day that the “light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and many other Reformers to help the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and to lead the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.”1

Over the next two Sundays in our gatherings at Bethany we will look at two of the five solas that framed and began that reformation.  This Sunday Kevin Sauder from New Castle Bible Church will speak on Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone) and the following Sunday Daniel will preach on Sola Fide (Faith alone).  In our meetings we will sing, read, pray and study God’s Word together – all for the glory of God. I invite you to join us as we are reminded to keep the light of the gospel at the center of all we do.  

Here is the order of our worship this week:

Call to worship –Psalm 8
Songs of Praise - Come Praise and Glorify
Elder Led Prayer
Offering/Congregational Song
Song of Response
Benediction


- A Mighty Fortress is Our God
- Fairest
Life at Bethany (What’s Happening at Bethany)
- Reformation Song
Message – “To the Glory of God Alone”
- Look and See

1 Nichols, Stephen.  “What is Reformation Day?”  http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-is-reformation-day/ 2016.

Mike Chambers

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Encouragement for the Christian Wife

Every so often, my wife, Casey, shares something with me and I say, "You should write that up for the blog." Below is something I'm sure you will be glad she was willing to share.
Pastor Ben

As a Christian wife, how does the Gospel help me in my relationship with my husband? How can I use the Gospel to remind me of truths that can help me act towards and respond to my husband in a godly way? Below are four practical ways to apply the Gospel to my role as a Christian wife.

1) Read through Ephesians 1:3-14. This will help you be thankful for the blessings you have in Christ and help take your eyes off your circumstances. This passage will remind you of who you are in Christ. Because you are child of God, you have a treasure far greater than any earthly happiness. When we meditate on this passage, we realize we cannot complain when our husbands sin against us.

2) Because of the Gospel, you are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 8:2). This means you do not have to be angry, demanding, emotional, bitter, unkind, selfish, etc. Since Jesus, through his resurrection, conquered sin and death, then we as wives can practice self-control and confront our husbands lovingly. We do not have to keep track of every wrong that our husbands commit against us. If our husbands sin against us we can choose to let love cover it or we can lovingly confront. 

3) Because of the Gospel, your love for your husband will become less and less about getting your needs met. Your love for your husband should be defined as a "sacrificial giving of yourself for the eternal benefit of your spouse." This is what God, through Jesus, did for us on the cross (Romans 5:8). Jesus humbled himself and modeled for us how to love others even when they "don't deserve it." 

4) It is often difficult to be a godly wife because we often don't feel like obeying especially when we have been sinned against. We have to ask for God's grace to submit to our husbands and to keep our hurtful comments from being spoken. The good news is that there is joy and blessing when we obey. Because of the Gospel, our hope is secure (1 Peter 1:3,4). God's promises never fail. There is much joy, peace and satisfaction to be found as we obey and become more like Christ. This is something promised to us no matter how our husbands do or don't treat us. 


Thankful for the Gospel,
Casey Davidson