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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Kids in God's Word


One of the major goals of our youth ministry at BCC is to help encourage and equip parents as they build into their kids. This is very important to us as we believe parents, rather than the youth ministry, are the ones given, equipped, and called by God to be the instruments of growth and discipleship in the lives of the kids in our church. We also believe the chief way anyone is grown in the Lord after their salvation is through the regular input of God's Word into their life and heart. All that said, if you are a parent, grandparent, neighbor to kids, or even wanting to just help grow yourself in a better understanding of God and His Word, here are a few resources I would recommend you looking into…

The Bible Project's "Read Scripture" Plan
The Bible Project has gone through and created a reading plan to take you through the whole Bible. Along with the plan, they've made easy to follow videos outlining each book of the Bible and some of the major themes of Scripture. This is a great resource for both kids and adults to help them get into and better understand God's Word.
You can check out in the intro video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hUs4TXRuVk

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
This story book is written for those ages 5-11 but is applicable for all to see the major story of Scripture and how it is woven through the whole Bible.
You can see more about the book and purchase it here: https://www.crossway.org/books/the-biggest-story-hccase/

"Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids"
This book is designed to be read alongside your regular Bible reading to help your child grow in their understanding of not just what is being said, but how to study the Bible for him or herself.

Along with all these resources, much of child's learning to read their Bible is caught not taught from their parents. You are the model for what this should look like in your child's life. Here is one brief article to help encourage you as you seek to model this well for them: https://www.crossway.org/articles/6-tips-for-reading-the-bible-with-your-kids/


May the Lord continue to guide and give grace as you raise kids for His glory!

Phil


** For a few other good Christian resources for kids you can also check out Tim Challies' list: https://www.challies.com/resources/6-great-new-books-for-kids/


Monday, September 25, 2017

Introductory Thoughts on Discipleship

I’d like for you to give some thought to what the Bible has to say to you about discipleship. I know you’re busy, so I’ll make this brief and to the point so that when you have some quiet time in the next few days, you can come back to this and think thru these points with Bible in hand to consider the magnitude and practical nature of this subject.

1.     Discipleship is not an option, this was his last command to His followers. If you say you are a Christian, your responsibility is to be involved in making disciples.
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)


The Greek word mathetes, (to be a learner, pupil or disciple), appears 269 times in the N.T. it refers to anyone who was a follower of Christ. This concept is integral to the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19; (see also Ezek. 44:23; Matt 5:19b; Acts 5:42; Acts 18:11; Acts 20:20; Col 1:28; Col 3:16;1 Tim 4:11;1 Tim 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:2)

2.     Discipling might not be as complicated as you think. Consider discipleship as simply speaking the truth in love in all aspects of your normal, everyday life.
15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph. 4:15)

Discipleship involves speaking into others’ lives as well as allowing others to speak into your life every day.
12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:12-4:13)

3.     You might struggle with knowing what to say and how to say what needs to be said. First, we’re better off not speaking at all if there’s a lack of biblical wisdom and knowledge
2The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. (Pr. 15:2)

To put it another way, I need to pursue wisdom by learning doctrine so I will know how biblical truths relate to life. I do not want to give unbiblical, hurtful advice like Job's friends.
11The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. (Eccl. 12:11)
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. (Pr. 4:7)
14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Eph. 4:14)

4.     Wisdom learns to listen carefully to gain an accurate perspective of the person and their needs before speaking.
13If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Pr. 18:13)

5.     Commit to growing to become more like Christ, so you can say with Paul, "Follow me AS I follow Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
6.     Commit to critical, intentional thinking of how you might incite passion in others to grow in love and obedience.
 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb.10.23-24)

7.     You can be and must be confident in the grace of God to empower you to pursue all the above. "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward" (Heb. 10:35).

Yes, but how?

1.     Ask about one’s personal life.
     a.     Ask about their Past. "What 2 things has God been up to in your life?" (teaching them to be intentional about      
             trusting God to work for "My good, His glory...as he conforms to the image of Christ - Rom.8:28-29)
     b.     Ask about the Present. "If I could call God and ask Him, 'What 3 things are you pleased with re: ______"s walk',
             what do you believe He might say?"
     c.     Ask about the Future.  How will you intentionally seek to grow and change?
     d.     Ask about their family and their home life.

2.     Ask about one’s church/ministry involvement.
     a.     Ask about their involvement in the Great Commandment.
     b.     Ask questions that help you understand their love for God, their love for others, especially their closest
             relationships. (Lu.10:27)
     c.     Ask about their involvement in pursuing the Great Commission.  How are they helping others learn to grow and  
             change? (Mt.28:18-20)
     d.     Ask about their spiritual gift(s). Ask them how God is using them to help build the local church. (Eph.4:11-16)
     e.     Ask about how their school/studies are progressing.
     f.      Ask what books they’ve been reading.  A person’s involvement with learning helps you understand their interests
             and commitments to personal growth.
    g.      Ask how you can pray for them.


Kent Kloter

Friday, September 8, 2017

Praise You In This Storm


Images like the one above of Hurricane Irma are overwhelming. Add to it images of the wildfires in Montana, Harvey damage in Texas, and more and it causes us to ponder: What is God up to?

The following post is from John Piper from 2012 and resonates with my soul as I ponder the circumstances above, the tornadoes of 2013 in central Illinois and the many other hard things of life. I hope it blesses you like it blessed me this week:

Pastor Ben


Friday, September 1, 2017

Daniel Forty Point Oh



There’s nothing novel about feeling pensive—to use the word a friend used to describe my reflections—as you turn 40. In fact, not only does writing this article feel like a cliché, it also feels a little bit too “Daniel-centric.” The word “I” is used too frequently, but hopefully that’s not a distraction.

Those who are older than 40 and read this article might say, “How cute! It’s fun to see kids engage in introspection.” Those who are younger might say, “How cute! It’s fun to see old people engage in introspection.” Whatever stage of life you’re at, hopefully you’ll find this encouraging as you seek to pursue Christ and change by His grace.

Several weeks ago, as I was praying about how I want God to change me this next decade, I wrote the following statement:

I want my forties to be characterized by gentleness, thankfulness, and greater holiness as I seek to love God and others through my union with Christ.

Here’s what I mean by that statement:

     1.    
“I want…”

This is something I desire. I don’t think I will obtain this desire perfectly but it seems to be in line with what God would desire for me, so I’m hopeful.

     2.    
“…my forties…”

Yeah…it would be nice if I wrote, “my thirties,” but I can’t. I’m still excited about all the things that come with being in my forties. My children are fun ages. I’m further along in my ministry. Whitney and I can spend more time with one another because the kids are more self-sufficient. This is a sweet spot.

     3.    
“…to be characterized…”

My goal isn’t perfection but a general trajectory in which sanctification is noticed by those who know and love me.

     4.    
“…by gentleness…”

While I want to continue to be a person who is willing to speak the truth, I want others around me—especially my family—to see me as a person who is gentle in his love for them. It is time for the young man with some harder edges to meet his timely demise.

     5.    
“…by thankfulness…”

Why have I said so many negative things over forty years when God has been so gracious to me? In my daily prayer list, I’ve written down Psalm 40:5 to meditate on daily: “
You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”

Whatever time any of us have until the Lord returns or calls us home, it is insufficient to fully proclaim the wonderful deeds of the Lord. In my leadership at church and at home, I want my words to help people see the amazing things the Lord is doing around them.

Committing to thankfulness doesn’t mean I will approach life naively and pretend like bad things don’t exist. It just means keeping them in balance; the majority of my communication should be focused on proclaiming the reality that God is good and His works are wondrous!

     6.    
“…and greater holiness…”

By “holiness,” I mean “devotion to God.” This is exciting to me because pursuing the Lord in love through faith changes
every other area in which I could ever want to change!

     7.    
“…as I seek to love God and others…”

This is also pretty broad. I guess I’m basically saying, “I want to pursue the two greatest commandments and trust that everything else will follow.”


     8.    
“…through my union with Jesus Christ.”

There is really no hope of changing apart from this reality: I have been united with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. Forty years may or may not make me “old,” but it is definitely a long enough stretch of time for thought processes and actions to become habits. Some habits need transforming by the power of Christ.

     9.    
A few more thoughts

There is a blessing to the physical process of aging I hadn't considered until recently. I’m more aware of my physical limitations and the way God uses those limitations to draw us to Himself. When I feel discouraged or down about things, one of the first questions I now ask myself is, “How much sleep did I get last night?”

If you had asked me 15 years ago how I felt about my body aging and feeling “different” physically and mentally, I would have said I felt scared. Things like “competiveness” and “drive” felt fundamental to my make up as a person.

Over the past 15 years, however, I’ve realized that there were other, less kind, words that could also be used to describe my character. And things like my perfectionism—which seemed like such a great attribute(!)—made other people’s lives difficult and robbed them of joy.

As I went for a run recently, I thought to myself, “if aging allows me to mellow—what a gift from God it is!” And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m convinced that one of God’s gifts in aging is the blessing of “mellowing.” I shared this thought with Whitney. She laughed and said, “Well, you had this thought after getting up early and going for a run. So, if this is mellowing….”

She’s right. But if God is gracious and I began to see some of these changes, here’s what I believe can happen over the next decade: I’m going to feel less discouragement as I measure success differently. I’m going to lose my temper with the kids less. I’m going to graciously believe the best in others. I’m going to feel less anxiety as I love God more. I’m going to be a better leader of my family and church as I point out the joys of the Lord in all areas of life. I’m going to invest more in people. I’m going to trust God and not “eat the bread of anxious toil."

It’s going to be a great decade of learning what it means to love God more.


Daniel




Monday, August 21, 2017

Hope for the Anxious Heart

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night overwhelmed by what needs done the next day? Do you find it hard to get to sleep wondering what lies ahead? Do you get panic/anxiety attacks or have moments where you feel frozen by fear or worry?
Recently I was talking with a friend about similar issues and have recognized some of these instances in my own life as well. This has lead me to thinking more about this topic of anxiety focusing on what it is and then, what we can do about it.

What Is Anxiety?
The New Testament uses the same word for both "worry" and "anxiety." Some of the ways lexicons define it are, "care for, be concerned about, be anxious, be overly concerned about, be worried about, think earnestly upon, to be disturbed, annoyed in spirit,  distracted" [1] [2] [3] I think those cover the spectrum well. Anxiety may be demonstrated in outward actions like sleeplessness, inability to breathe, nausea, depression, apathy, frantic working. However, these are only the results of where anxiety starts. It begins in my heart. As I dwell upon circumstances, the future, other things that I or others expect of me, unfulfilled desires and hopes I have, all of these can lead me to having an anxious heart, … IF not partnered with a trust in God.

How Do I Deal With Anxiety?
There is a somewhat popular thought that stress and or stressful situations are bad for you because they can help produce anxiety. The answer given to this supposed problem is to not be in those situations. This idea is great in theory, but completely impractical in real life. If you have a job, drive your car in traffic, buy food at the grocery store, or in any way interact with people or things, you will find not everything goes your way and life gets stressful. We as Christians are called to be in the world thus it seems we must understand a different way, God's way, for functioning well in it through times of stress and anxiety. Scripture gives us very helpful answers to this.

Phil  4:6-9 (NASB), "6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Paul gives 3 actions and 2 promises in this passage helping us deal with anxiety…

Action 1: Pray
Paul says that as anxious thought and feelings come into our thinking we should bring them to the Lord. Peter states it, "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet 5:7). Bring your desires, fears, questions, concerns to the Lord. Paul adds, do so with thanksgiving. How do I pray in desperation with thanksgiving? It means recognizing who God is as the all powerful Creator, Who loves and cares for you and will only work for your best (Rom 8:28). Understanding Who God is and trusting Him should drive us to thankfulness and praise in our time of worry.

Promise 1: The Peace of God
God states that as we bring our anxiety and worry to Him, He will give us His peace. Not just a peace that is temporary or just dulls the feelings, but a peace beyond what you or I can comprehend. This peace guards us from fear and worry and allows us to rest. It guards are whole being that we not still fret. When is the last time you waited before the Lord with your anxiety till you were given His peace?

Action 2: Think Rightly
Our anxiety always stems from a wrong view of God. We look at the circumstances and situations around us and rightly assess we are ill-equipped for the task ahead. We recognize our weak, feebleness, but instead of turning to God we keep our eyes on ourselves and we despair. We don't see God for Who He is. We forget He is the sovereign Creator and we fear. Paul tells us to combat this thinking instead of focusing on ourselves or our situation, we are instead to primarily focus on our God. He is the epitome of the list of things to think upon. As we think rightly about our situation, ourselves, and our God, suddenly our hope is restored.

Action 3: Act
Paul continues, prayer is a necessary start, right thinking is key to combating hopelessness, but the process of overcoming anxiety is not complete until we act in faith upon the promises we have dwelt. Paul says we are to practice… regularly do these actions. Rather than being frozen by fear or apathetic to outcomes, God calls us to act in obedience to His desires. It may not be fun or easy. Start by simply determining, what is the next thing I need to do. You don't need to have all your plans figured out or even know the end of the path your on necessarily. Often you just need to step. After taking the first step, take another, and another, and another. God will graciously allow you to persevere.
One other note on this, notice this is in the context of community both Paul's relationship with the church walking with and before them, and their relationship with each other. You don't have to do this alone. Bring it to others. Ask for their help and encouragement. Walk in obedience with others.

Promise 2: The God of Peace
You see what Paul did there? I love the play on words! Not only do you get the peace of God from dealing rightly with your anxiety, you also, ultimately get the God of peace! As you walk with the Lord bringing your concerns to Him, thinking rightly about Him, and walking in obedience to Him you start having true joy and relationship with Him. Your time and focus get taken from the creation futility and instead are transferred to walking with the Creator. How blessed we are as God's children!

Practical Suggestions
These are just some helpful thoughts/tips I put together and would suggest for you as you start the process and dealing with anxiety:
·       Take time to do a prayer journal bringing your thoughts to the Lord on a daily basis
·       Memorize Philippians 4:6-9
·       Read Matthew 6:25-34 to see how Jesus talks about this as well

I will close with Paul's words to the church in Philippi, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:2).
Phil Smith, Youth Minister




[1] Friberg, Barbara, Timothy Friberg, Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (electronic edition: Baker Books, 2000).
[2] Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (New York: Harper and Bros., 1897).
[3] Thayer, Joseph Henry, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th ed. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, [1889] 1901).