Good Reads 11.10.15 (on: prayers for marriage, battling sin, faith and fear, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On battling sin by imagining the greater joys: Imagine Your Way to Joy by Bryce Young

However, dismissing the imagination from the Christian life will neither save us from sin nor help us grow in righteousness. In fact, all hope of putting off the old man and putting on the new rests in a God-given, Christ-purchased, Spirit-empowered redemption of the imagination. What does “the new man” look like? We are given many details, but without the imagination, application is impossible. We know that the new man puts on kindness (Colossians 3:12), but one can only live out that kindness after the imagination has painted some concrete mental picture of the virtue. (click here to read more)

On things to pray for your marriage: Ten Great Prayers for Every Marriage by Ron Edmondson

Dear Lord, help us to love each other unconditionally. Dear Lord, allow us to respect one another in an empowering way. Dear Lord, teach us how to complete each other, building us into one unit You design. (click here to read more)

On the importance of taking part in a church gathering: Seven Reasons Not to Skip Church by Garrett Kell

The New Testament pattern of church life is that believers come together on the first day of the week to worship and serve the Lord, and that they regularly sit together at the Lord’s Table to remember His death on their behalf (1 Corinthians 11; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:24-26). Consistent with that established pattern, church members ought to voluntarily commit to regularly attend services at the church. Faithful church attendance does not earn salvation, nor does it act as a measure to rate spiritual greatness over and against other people. It does, however, reflect a growing commitment to the gospel, the good of the church community, and spiritual health. (click here to read more)

On Starbucks cups and real persecution: You Are Not Being Persecuted by Jess Novello

I am especially bothered by these claims of persecution in light of what is happening to our Christian brothers and sisters all over the globe. Every month, three hundred and twenty-two Christians are killed for their faith and seven hundred and seventy-two acts of violence are committed against Christians because of their faith. These acts of violence can include physical abuse, rape, beatings, false imprisonment, etc. This is persecution. Starbucks having plain red (okay, ombre…) cups is not the same as being imprisoned for over three years in an Iranian prison for your religion like Saeed Abedini. Persecution is real. It’s happening all over the world. It’s happening right now. It is brutal, terrible, horrific, and devastating. But, it is not happening at the hand of Starbucks or their red cups. (click here to read more)

On fear and faith: Afraid of Faith by Paul Tripp

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: no matter how theologically trained my brain is, my heart is still prone to forget. So once more today, I will remind myself of the truths of the Bible, not because my brain needs to be taught a new concept, but because my wandering heart needs to be ushered back into the throne room of grace. (click here to read more)

A prayer in the face of uncertainty and fear (a meditation)

We all face times where we feel overwhelmed. The world seems dark and the path set before us darker. It could be in the face of wars and rumors of war. It could be that phone call from the doctor you’ve been dreading. It could be an economic crash that causes you to lose your job.

We fear when the outcome seems uncertain or bleak. We fear when we are staring down a situation and we have no clue what to do.

hobbit armiesJudah under the reign of King Jehoshaphat faced such a situation. In 2 Chronicles 20, armies from four different nations threatened Judah. Hearing that the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites had declared war, and that a large army from Edom was on the march and closing in, Jehoshaphat was terrified.

But instead of letting fear overwhelm him, we read that he “begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting” (20:3). Yes, Jehoshaphat trembled with fear. Yes, the situation presented a daunting challenge and a dreadful outcome. But the king chose to trust in the One who was greater and had shown himself mighty against Judah’s enemies before.

At the end of his prayer, Jehoshaphat admitted his powerlessness, and then he concluded, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (20:12).

Here we find a prayer for those uncertain times and moments of fear. James said that when we face trials and lack wisdom, we are to ask God for help and he gives generously (James 1:2-8). That plea for help doesn’t need to be long and detailed, or couched in a bunch of religious language. Our plea only needs to admit our complete dependence upon God.

We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

It’s a simple prayer. Often in the face of uncertain times or great dangers, we don’t know what to do. So we ask. We go to God and beg him for guidance, and even fast if we feel we need to. After all, God is the great Father, the One who will never leave nor forsake us. So we seek him.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Image from: The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Sunday 09.13.15 (A fearless life and Sunday School Kickoff)

Join us this Sunday as we kick off our new Sunday School year with coffee and doughnuts in the gym at 930am before classes begin. Then during our worship gathering, we’ll take a look at 2 Timothy 4:6-18 and how to live with a faith that conquers fear. Hope to see you there!

sschool ko

If you are a regular part of Sunday School, come and enjoy fellowship with members of other classes over coffee and doughnuts. If you haven’t been to Sunday School for a while, come back and see what you’ve been missing. If you have never been to Sunday School, come check out one of our classes. For more information about what classes are available, take a look at the Sunday School section of our Activities page.

@930 Sunday School Kickoff in gym
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@7pm No evening activities at the church, a group from the Osage River Baptist Association is hosting a tent meeting at Frontier Village September 13th-20th, beginning at 7pm each night.

Sermon Notes
A Faith that Conquers Fear ~ 2 Timothy 4:6-18

We grow afraid when what is before us is too unknown or overwhelming. We need to look beyond the immediate circumstances or an unknown future and trust the God who is in control. A faith that conquers fear:

  • Fights daily to stay focused on Jesus (4:6-8)
  • Celebrates God’s work in others while entrusting him with our enemies (4:9-15)
  • Trusts God to defend, strengthen, and rescue–even in the bleakest circumstances (4:16-18)

Empowered to conquer fear (a meditation on how God enables us to live in faith instead of fear)

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:7

Several years ago a friend, Kevin, and I took a trip out west—7 days, 6 nights, 6 different hotels, and over three thousand miles in a car. One of our stops was Zion National Park in Utah. Somehow, someway Kevin convinced me to hike Angels Landing with him. For those unfamiliar, part of the trail includes a narrow path (only a few feet wide) with a 1000+ foot drop on each side.

Some might relish such an adventure, but I happen to be a person who grew up with a fear of heights. I’ll be the first to admit that my fear is not consistent. Strap me into the car of a roller coaster and I can happily go high, fast, and upside down with no problems. Give me a ladder and tell me to climb onto a one story roof and I’ll say, “No way.” So perhaps the fear is really being off the ground but not strapped into anything…

Anyway. Before we even made it to the part of the trail I described above, we took a break at a much wider section that was slightly slanted. Kevin crawled to the upper ledge, peered over, and urged me to do the same. I did and promptly backed away and had a mild meltdown where I was determined to go no further.

Fear can be a powerful thing.

After a few minutes passed, Kevin decided to go on and informed me that either I could join him or he would see me on the return trip. I took another minute to ponder. I reasoned that at the age of thirty and this being my first trip to Utah, I was not likely to return anytime soon. I reminded myself that as many years as the park had been open and the thousands upon thousands of visitors, only a handful had ever fallen to their death on the trail. With safety chains to hold on the more dangerous parts, the odds were in my favor to not be included in that number. Finally, I reminded myself that God is sovereign over life and death. On the one hand I should not put him to the test by tap dancing on the ledge of a cliff, but on the other hand if it was my time to go then it could just as easily happen with the bite of a rabid chipmunk as it could a fall.

So I got up, pressed on past my fear, and was happy I did. The views proved jaw-dropping.

Fear can be a powerful thing and too often it holds us back. It seems that in surveys the top reasons we as followers of Jesus keep quiet about our faith is that we are afraid. We’re afraid we won’t say the right thing. We’re afraid the person may respond negatively or lash out. We’re afraid they might ask questions we are unable to answer. We’re afraid they’ll think we’re weird.

Yet time and time again throughout the Bible God tells his people do not fear. Fear and faith are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Fear slows us down or paralyzes us due to the worry about negative consequences. Faith recognizes that God is in control even if everything indeed crumbles around us.

Fear blinds our hearts and minds to God’s will and purpose. Faith embraces his will and purpose even in the face of danger or the unknown.

The great thing is that God does not leave us to battle fear on our own. Paul wrote his final letter to his young friend Timothy to encourage him to remain bold in his work and witness. Timothy, it seems, had shrunk back due to pressure—a fear of man. Paul reminded him that he was gifted and had the Holy Spirit dwelling within, so there was no reason to be ashamed of Jesus and his word, even if being faithful meant suffering (2 Timothy 1:6-14).

In this Paul told Timothy that God does not give a spirit of fear. Rather he gives to us that we might be people who live by his power who walk in his love and who demonstrate self-control. Fear is powerful but God has given us everything we need to fight against it and overcome. Or to quote Paul from Romans 8, “We are more than conquerors through Christ.”

When faced with fear, keep looking to the God who is greater than your fear. Keep your faith focused on Jesus. Remember that you have the Holy Spirit of the living God dwelling within you. And remind yourself that God is the one who grants us power, love, and self-control.

2 tim 1_7

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Image credit:

Good Reads 07.08.15 (on music, killing fear, how you think about God, and more)

On killing fear and anxiety: The Woods, Swords, and Foxes by Andrea Burke (click here for more)

In some ways, I’m reminded of the old Cherokee legend — the wolf I feed is the one that wins the fight. Except within me are not two wolves. Anxiety is the ravenous wolf, and the wolf needs to die. So more accurately, I’m chasing the blood-hungry fox that is trying to ruin the vineyard (Song of Solomon 2:15).

On the music we sing in praise to God: Sing Something Fresh by Matt Boswell (click here for more)

The hymnal of the church has no back cover. While the canon of Scripture is closed, our hymnal is an ever-expanding work. We ought to continue to sing the historic songs of our faith, but we should not blush to add new expressions of worship to God. We have many new songs that are helpful, richly theological, and thoroughly biblical.

On how we think about God: The Most Important Thing About You by Mark Altrogge (click here for more)

When you go through a hard time, what you think about God will affect how you do. Do you think God is sovereign and loving and good? Do you think God is in control and always faithful? Do you believe he loves you and is using this for your good? Or do you think he’s uninvolved and uncaring? When you’re tempted to sin, what you think about God will affect how you respond. Do you believe God knows your every thought and sees your every action? Do you believe he is holy and hates sin? Or do you believe God doesn’t really know or care?

On what it means to be spiritually mature: Celebrating Oak Trees by Mike Leake (click here for more)

For years I’ve attended various prayer meetings in which we are praying for revival. In reality I think we are often praying that God would make us immature believers again. We’ve exalted the emotion of our child-like walk with Christ to an unhealthy place. Yes, we ought to have our affections stirred. Yes, we ought to be passionate about the Lord. But a mature believer is more akin to a solid tree, filled with twists and turns and faithfully bears fruit in spite of how it has been weathered by all the changing seasons.

And speaking of newer songs… check out “Boldly I Approach” from Rend Collective:

Good Reads 05.13.15 (on parenting, the future, bible reading, and more)

Here is a collection of good reads over this past week from different blogs:

On parenting: Parenting in the Valley of Dry Bones by Kim Ransleben (click here)

There are moments as a parent when you realize you’ve done a lot less clapping for your kids than you have disciplining them for sin. It can feel like all you do is battle them between errands and events, pick-ups and drop-offs, and much of what you battle lies where you cannot reach, inside hearts which you feel so helpless to change. How can we enjoy our children in those moments when we can’t even think of them without fear of what might come?

On needing to be reminded constantly of the gospel: The Ministry of Reminder by Nick Jones (click here)

If the gospel is an ocean, then a trip to the beach does not suffice. We must continually lead our people back to the water. Each time with different gear, but back to the same ocean. We lead them back with goggles. With glass-bottom boats. With scuba gear. With depth finders. With submarines. We keep leading them back to see what they’ve already seen, to experience what they’ve already experienced, in the hopes that each trip will renew and invigorate their love for their live-giving savior.

Another on parenting and not being able to get back lost time: The Tragedy of Time by Tim Challies (click here)

This is the tragedy of time. Time is one of the few resources in this world that is given in finite measure. I can always make more money—I just need to work harder or work longer or invest better, and more money will come. But there is not a single thing I can do to gain more time. It ticks by and is gone forever.

On the past not defining your future: A Grace-Defined Future by Adam McClendon (click here)

The future for God’s children is defined by the promises of God and not their past. Such a future is exponentially greater than the pain of their past. So, the people of God do not have to carry around their pain.

On Bible reading and spiritual growth: I Read By Bible… And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next by Stephen Altrogge (click here)

When Jesus returns, we will be sanctified in “the twinkling of an eye”. However, while we live on the earth, God works at a much slower pace. God causes us to grow in the same way a tree grows – slow and sure, almost imperceptible at times. God doesn’t change us spectacularly, but he does change us steadily. You can have confidence that he’ll continue to change you.

Good Reads May 6, 2015 (on: enjoying Bible reading, God’s plan for your life, dying well, and more)

Here is a collection of good reads from other blogs and websites collected over this past week. Enjoy!

On Bible reading: How to Read the Bible and Enjoy it by Michael Hyatt (click here)

Even if you are not a Christian—or don’t consider yourself a spiritually-inclined person—the Bible is worth reading. Without question, it has had a greater impact on Western civilization than any other book published. … But how do you start? The Bible is, after all, a big book! I have read it through several times. In fact, my goal is to read it through every year, though it some times takes a little longer.

On God’s plan for your life: God’s Plan A for Your Life by David Qaoud (click here)

If you’re a Type A person like me, you can become overly concerned about your personal accomplishments. But the truth is, who we’re becoming is more important than what we’re accomplishing.

On the security and love we find in Jesus no matter what happens in life: In Tight with the Boss of Existence by Jared C. Wilson (click here)

So even when the accuser comes and throws your sins at you, they should flame up and fizzle out like crumbly meteors entering the atmosphere of Christ’s righteousness, and you can curse that devil and remind him that you are in tight with the boss of his existence, with the boss of very existence itself.

On living to die well: Die Well by Jonathan Parnell (click here)

We die well when we call death gain — which is not about what death gets us, but what death can’t take away. There is a major difference here between false gain and true gain.