Giving Thanks…Faithful Preachers

To those who know me…it’s no surprise that my top list of things I’m thankful for relate to God and His word.  Continuing on in that same vein I thank God for pastors, teachers and churches that are committed and faithful to preach and teach the full counsel of God’s word.

I have been abundantly blessed by God to sit under pastors who have been gifted by God.  Pastors who diligently study God’s word so they can feed and care for the flock.  They strive to present the bride of Christ, the church, as holy and blameless, sanctified and set apart, holy and dedicated unto Him. 

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. – Acts 20:26-27

Pastor Philip De Courcy

Pastor Chuck Obremski

Pastor John MacArthur

Pastor John Piper

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A Beacon on a Hill

Their little church
Became a beacon on a hill
A shinning light
Bidding all who want to follow Jesus
Come…follow Him
From humble beginnings
A group of people
Who loved God’s word
Studied the scriptures diligently
That they might accurately divide the word of Truth
Though their shepherd was struck
They kept their eyes on Christ
Called out to God
That He might bring another pastor
Faithful to preach the full counsel of God’s word
In His perfect timing
God brought His servant
A man ready to preach
In season and out of season
Teaching sound doctrine to equip the saints
God continues to bring them
From far and wide
Those who are unwilling to have their ears tickled
But would rather be reproved, corrected and instructed
So they might be thoroughly equipped for every good work
God is growing His church daily
Knitting each one perfectly into the body of Christ
The saints are not ashamed of the Gospel
For they know personally, it is the power of salvation
For all who believe
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
January 4, 2010

A Delicate Subject

Dare I touch on a delicate subject? One of which I am far from being an expert? A topic that will make some people feel uncomfortable and maybe even blush…or laugh?

Well laugh they might…but yes of course I will broach the subject of sex. I bring a different perspective. That of being a single Christian woman who has chosen to do things God’s way…and not follow the ways of the world, nor her own wisdom or be motivated solely based on my feelings

I wish I could say that I always approached it like that…but I didn’t. Thank you Lord for Your forgiveness, restoration and love. Thank You Lord for Your wisdom…contained in the best Owner’s Manual…The Bible!

I have not been left to follow my own wisdom…or navigate the path filled with the pitfalls of this world all alone. Instead, praise God…I can know what God would have me do…and how I can live my life in a way that is pleasing to Him. How I can live my life once I get married in a way that is pleasing to God and my husband. To be the wife and help mate that God has called me to be. To be the wife that my husband deserves.

Sometimes I don’t know how to respond to the “knowing laughs” or suggestive comments that come from those around us that assume that my fiancé and I are engaging in pre-marital sex or living together outside of marriage.

When and where it’s appropriate…I do make it clear that we are conducting this relationship according to how God would have us live. But sometimes…I’m not sure how to answer the person who gives raises their eye brows and teases me when I say how tired I am. Or what do I say to the waitress who comments how “hot” our table is because we are holding hands across the table? I don’t want to draw the fire of “the lady doth protest too much” comments if I try and dispute what they say.

I find it shocking when some of those comments come from fellow Christians. If not an expectation, there is at least a resignation that “everyone’s doing it” inherent in the looks, smiles and comments that have been coming my way. Even at times from those in the Christian community.

I find it very depressing and sad when a Christian fails to see sin as sin. When they take it in stride or worse yet…even laugh about.

But I must tell you…that as my wedding day approaches I am more excited everyday at the prospects of being married to Chris.

Where exactly is the excitement and expectation on “what’s to come” from someone whose living with their fiancé? Where is the delight in discovering one another for those who choose to partake before they are committed to one another before God and man? Especially for the Christian who is “living in sin”…there is an inherent guilt and conflict that’s going on inside.

But in doing things God’s way…there is excitement, joy and peace. I’m comfortable in knowing I’m not sinning before and against God. I’m not compromising and being a hypocrite before man. I’m not being poor witness of the Gospel message that I say I believe.

I see the fruits of standing by the power of God and living in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Best yet…I get to see if I really, truly believe what I have professed to believe for lo these many years. Yet when I feel weak and vulnerable…I can turn to my Savior Jesus Christ who can enable me to follow Him.

When I find myself tempted…I find encouragement to live right before God as I listen to my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski…a godly man, husband and father…whose marriage I greatly admired. In his series on Marriage & Family, Chuck shared wisdom and counsel from God’s word. He and his lovely wife Linda left a shining example of a godly marriage.

Even though I prayed to God for many years that I would be married…I never dared to dream that I would find a godly man who love the Lord. Who has committed his life and seeks God’s will and plan in his life and in our marriage.

It is with joy and excitement I look forward to our wedding day and life together as husband and wife.

Live a Life of No Regrets

Having a longer commute than I used to has actually proved to be profitable for me. On occasion I’ll have the radio on…but more often then not…I’ll be listening to some great Bible studies or preaching. Recently I went through the book of Luke which Pastor Chuck Obremski taught when Kindred Community Church was first formed. We were in the book for 86 weeks. It’s a phenomenal study…and even more precious to those at Kindred who lived through that time…as we witness the hand of God on our church and beloved Pastor, Chuck…as God led us through some very deep waters.

After finishing Luke…I had a dilemma. What should I start on next? It seemed only appropriate that I should continue on and listen to the remaining messages that Pastor Chuck did before the Lord called him home. The Heaven Series is one of my favorites…as is the Genuine Servant series.

I remember going through the studies at the time…and feeling very convicted and challenged by God call to come up higher. Pastor Chuck…just had a way of boiling things down to the essentials. He was a straight shooter…and just what I needed. Each week…the Holy Spirit would bring that message home…in a very personal way.

The above clip was from a message called the Judgment Seat of Christ. What struck me was where Chuck said we will know at the time of judgment how things will go when we are standing before Jesus and look into His eyes. We’ll know how things are going to go…by the look in his eyes. He painted a very vivid picture of that day that will come to each of us.

Down here on earth…before I die…is the only time and place I have to get it right in living for the Lord. In heaven…it won’t take any effort to walk with the love of Christ…for my nature will have been transformed. Down here…is the only place where I will have the opportunity to respond with kindness and love when I’ve been mistreated. This is the only place I will have the opportunity to share the Gospel message with those who are perishing. In heaven…everyone will have already been saved. Those who haven’t been saved…will have already been cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. No matter how loud I shout the Gospel message…they won’t hear me. The chasm has been fixed…there will be no crossing over. Down here on earth…God can take my praises in the face of difficult circumstances…as a witness and testimony to His greatness and His awesome love and power. This is the place where my prayers matter. What I do down here on earth…will determine the rewards I get in heaven. All the right living in heaven…won’t earn me a crown to cast at the feat of my Savior. Right living here and now is where I have that opportunity to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. Right here…right now is where I’m storing up my rewards for heaven. What kind of rewards am I earning? Am I going to be embarrassed on that day when all things are laid bare for all to see? Or will I humbly be able to offer a crown to my Savior…in gratitude for His redeeming work on the cross on my behalf?

Live a life of no regrets. Hummmmm…will I?

Don’t You Dare

I was surprised at the passage that struck me as I read this week’s Bible Study Fellowship notes. I had read the passage many times before. Of course I knew that the actions of the money changers were wrong…but I never saw the gravity of it before.

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” – Matthew 21:12-13

After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on His way to the cross…Jesus entered the temple. There he found wickedness and hard hearts of men seeking to take advantage of people who had come to obey the law and give a sacrificial offering for their sin.

And there they sat…smug…sanctimonious…ready to condemn and put a hurdle before the people who were coming before the Lord to confess their sin. While a lamb or a goat was an acceptable offering…God made a way for those who were too poor to afford that. Instead they could bring two turtle doves. The doves, lambs or goats had to be perfect without blemish or spot to be considered an acceptable offering. If they didn’t bring their offering from home…they could purchase it outside the temple.

But man…whose heart is deceitfully wicked above all things, sought to profit off the repentant sinners desiring to obey God and atone for their sins. The people would bring into the temple the animal or birds that would be their offering. The offering would be inspected…and if declared unacceptable…the person would be at the mercy of the money changers. If they wanted to have their sins cleansed they would have to get an animal there in the temple…one that had been deemed acceptable. The prices the money changers charged…were many times over what they would pay for an animal outside the temple.

People…for whom purchasing two turtle doves was a heavy sacrifice…would be forced to pay exorbitant rates so they might be cleansed from their sin as specified under the law.

While the Bible never states this…I wouldn’t be surprised that if after they deemed an animal unacceptable as a sacrifice…making pretty penny in the process of exchanging it for an acceptable one…I’ll bet you they turned right around and sold those animals and birds to someone else waiting in line to make atonement for their sins.

They profited from people who were weighed down by their sin…those who wanted to be cleansed.

But what about those people…who didn’t have the money to purchase an animal or bird from the money changes? What about them? Did they leave the temple with their head hung low…bearing the weight sin? Sin that would now not be washed away…as God had commanded?

These people extracted a heavier price for sin than God did. The money changers even kept people from coming to God. How many repentant sinners were kept away from God because of the money changer’s greed and judgmental, condemning attitude?

When I read that passage…I got to thinking about how I might keep people from coming to Jesus? Am I judgmental…because someone doesn’t dress in a manner I think is appropriate? Do I look down on someone…because they don’t know Jesus and are living a sinful lifestyle? Have I so soon forgotten my sinfulness which nailed Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for my sin? Do I think that there are some sins that are easier to accept like lying or stealing? Do I think that child molester…or murderer…can’t be saved? Am I even relieved to think they are going to hell?

Sometimes it seems like the church…the body of Christ…which should be so loving and forgiving…is critical and condemning. Condemning of both sinners and each other. James talked about the tongue…and how difficult it is to tame. Even for a Christian. God tells us that out of the abundance of our heart the mouth speaks.

So while I might not be out there robbing the local liquor store…shooting up heroin…or stabbing someone to steal their purse…what am I doing with my mouth? Am I robbing someone of their reputation by telling others about their misstep? Am I high on the drug of conceit? Putting others down…so I might feel better about myself? Am I stabbing someone in the back…as I whisper about what they’ve done…to anyone who will listen?

Do I then try to be magnanimous and invite that person who I was just condemning to church? Do I tell them of the love and forgiveness of Jesus…but don’t demonstrate it in my actions and words? Do I forget so easily that God has taken all my sins…sealed them in a bag and tossed them in the farthest reaches of the sea? As Pastor Philip De Courcy said, “Never to be seen again!” Do I desire that others…even the vilest offender be forgiven? Or am I self satisfied…pleased that God saved me but with precious little concern for others?

That’s not to say…that some things shouldn’t be condemned. But perhaps I would do better to walk in grace and love. Condemn the sin…and reach out to the sinner with love, grace and the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus saves!

I can still remember my beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski passionately warning us, “Don’t you ever keep someone from coming to Jesus!” I think those words were uttered in sermon about the realities of hell. How permanent…total and all consuming hell is. That we are never to think that someone can’t be saved. From the vilest offender…like a murderer, child molester, or rapist…to the person who appears good on the outside…but inside is filled with deceit and hatred.

With man it is impossible. But with God…All things are possible!

Dependable Faith…Tried, Tested & True


At times the topic of faith seems like the subject du jour. If I’m not in the middle of a crisis…I’m analyzing the last one I went through…examining my successes and failures. Sometimes it feels like for every time I get it right…trust God and believe Him in faith…I falter and fail twice as much.

At times I feel that my faith walk with God should in reality be called my faith wrestle with God. I feel like such a faith failure and wonder why God ever bothered to choose me. A Christian having failure of faith…probably isn’t the best witness to an unbelieving world. But I found reassurance when I heard Beth Moore say that when you wrestle with someone…it’s up close and personal. You are right there with them.

So while my wrestling may not be pretty….it’s real and honest. Maybe the best thing to take away from it…I’m still there wrestling…I’m hanging in and hanging on. Hanging on to Jesus.

In the past couple of days…I recorded some random thoughts about faith…and trusting God. Believing that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

When I pray and God is not answering my prayers…I know God can act and in the past has acted. But for whatever reason…He chooses not to do so now. At those times…I just don’t understand. I don’t know why He chooses not to answer some prayers. Sometimes getting over that faith barrier seems insurmountable when I’m not able to do anything to move the hand of God.

I won’t know for sure this side of heaven why God permits some things. But if I might suggest this…God wants me to praise Him and trust Him even when the answer is no. Look at Job and how much affliction he suffered unabated for so long. I think part of it is surrendering to His will and continuing to know that He is good…even when it doesn’t feel like it. Will I continue to trust Him…will I continue to reach out and pray anyway? Will I praise Him when the answer is not forthcoming or the answer is no?

Sometimes it’s harder to trust God when my prayer is unanswered than when His answer is no.

With a human being…if they have the ability to do something good and help…but refuse to help it reflects poorly on their character and heart. But the same does not hold true with God. His purposes are not only our immediate present here and now. He is looking at a greater good…and heavenly eternal lasting rewards. I want relief right now. Sometimes that will not achieve His greater plan. Thus His ways are higher than our ways…His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I think perhaps it’s about surrendering at a heart level. Knowing and believing that God is good and that He does love me…even when He allows pain and hurt and loneliness to continue…even when I don’t understand it.

I remember one of Pastor Philip De Courcy’s messages at Kindred Community Church….it was called Back from the Dead? He said that Jesus said to Mary and Mary…”For your sake I’m glad he’s dead…” Philip paused there and expanded on why Jesus…and God the Father may be glad in our pain and sorrow. Because He is in the process of working out a greater good.

His eyes are focused…far beyond…He can see the good in our immediate pain and difficulty. He knows how He’s changing us and using our circumstances to grow us…or to reach others. So…yes…in some respects God does want us to experience pain. But not for ill or bad purposed…but for good…and greater glory.

Doesn’t feel too good now does it. To know that there is One who is able to help…but He doesn’t. It hurts. My friend Mike Paddison recently observed that unanswered pray feels like rejection. Never thought of it like that…but yes it’s an apt description.

As I’m going back through and listening to Pastor Chuck Obremski’s Luke study…I’m relearning a lot about faith. Pastor Chuck reminded us that faith isn’t real until it’s tested. It can’t be depended upon until it’s tested. There are days I don’t like buying that notion…but honestly Chuck’s faith was among the most real that I’ve seen.
Faith that is purified and refined…goes through the fire. Will mine come out as pure gold?

Speak Lord, Thy Servant Heareth

With the busyness of the holidays and a brief break from the usual Bible studies and church related activities…I have felt a silence from God. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been distracted…this servant has not had ears to hear.

This week…I’m starting to get back into my normal schedule…which includes a prayer meeting and a couple of Bible studies during the week.

In recent months…I was listening to Beth Moore’s Bible studies…and oh how God speaks to me through her personal and powerful teaching. But a few weeks ago…as I was about to pop in one of Beth’s CDs…and I thought “No…I want to hear the study of Luke”.

Shortly after Kindred Community Church became a church, our Pastor Chuck Obremski started a study in the book of Luke. That study lasted 87 weeks…and it is a phenomenal study. During the course of the study…Pastor Chuck was diagnosed with cancer…thus began his “cancer coaster”…and as a church we were on the cancer coaster with Chuck and his family. While I had attended the study live…I had forgotten how awesome that study was.

Going back and hearing it again…takes my breath away. Each week the Gospel was preached…and no one could sit in class and not hear of their need for a Savior and that the Savior is Jesus Christ. The word of God is so powerful and it transforms lives. It is with delight and awe I am listening the Luke study again.

Today…God in His sometimes not so subtle way…had a few messages for me.

As Chuck taught about the parable of the sowers in Luke 8…he brought it home by reminding us that we have to use what God has given us or it will be taken away.

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. – Luke 19:26

When I heard that verse…I didn’t have to think how that applied to me. I knew immediately that the Holy Spirit was reminding me that God has given me a measure of faith. The question is…am I believing God? Am I exercising my faith? Or am I like the fool who buries his treasure? Make no mistake…faith is more valuable than all the treasures on earth…but only when it exercised.

When I fail to exercise my faith…when I choose to believe the lies of the enemy…then my measure of faith that God has given me will be taken away. Actually I will have surrendered it. Do you know any men or women of great faith? Do you find yourself admiring their faith…and wishing you had a powerful deep abiding faith like they do? Well God wants to make each of us great men and women of faith.

There is an issue in my life that has been one of the biggest areas where I struggle with faith. That’s with regards to being single. This is where I allow my hurt and loneliness to cause me to believe the lies of the enemy. That God doesn’t love me or care for me…and that He will never change my circumstances.

I see what’s going on around me in the lives of unbelievers and believers alike…and I hear Satan reminding me that God has provided them with a spouse…or has allowed them to live together outside of marriage seemingly no consequence to something that God has clearly stated is wrong.

It’s so easy to turn my inability to understand what God is doing…and His plan and timing into doubt and unbelief. But when I do that…I’m falling right into the hands of the enemy. I’m handing over the measure of faith that God has given me. Instead of shoring up my mind with scripture that reminds me of God’s faithfulness…I give in to defeat.

God continued His message to me tonight through our study in Revelation 12. Elder Dave Dunn reminded us that those who believe Satan’s lie that God is a liar…have abdicated their faith over to the enemy. It’s what he’s been doing since the beginning. He did it with Eve when he questioned, “Did God really say…?” And he continues to use that which has been very successful to this day.

There are times I’m a little slow on the uptake…so God made sure that He reinforced the message as I drove home from Bible study. I was listening to Chuck teach on four meaty verses.

“Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” – Luke 8:22-25

Now this is a story I’m very familiar with…I’ve heard so many times before. But I never heard this before, “Where is your faith?”.

Indeed…where is my faith God? I have surrendered it too many times to the enemy. I’ve believed his lies…that You don’t love me, or care for me and won’t act in my situation.

The other thing that struck me…is that the storm was stilled immediately. The disciples fretted and worried needlessly before they awoke Jesus. In nothing flat He attended to their needs.

It will take no effort for God to change my life and my situation. With just a word…He can rebuke the enemy and answer my prayers. The question is…where is my faith? In Whom is my faith? Will I choose to exercise my faith?

As Dave taught us tonight he said one thing in particular grabbed me. He said that God had used Paul so much because he had yielded, obeyed and submitted himself to God. Dave challenged us to do the same. God desires to use each of us greatly if we will but yield, obey and submit ourselves to Him. For me part of that is having faith and believing God even the storm wails about me…when the dark clouds obstruct the sun…and waves threaten to sink my boat.

Right now that stormy sea is an apt description of my struggle with faith. I’m like the father who cried out to Jesus, “I believe, help me with my unbelief.”