Monday, May 30, 2011

Building the Family of God

The following is an update from Steve Hornbrook that I think many of you will find exciting.  At the end of our fiscal year, the Bethany Fellowship churches were able to bless many of our missionaries.  Steve shares the specifics below...

Join with us in celebrating some exciting news in Bethany Fellowship Missions! God provided some unusual circumstances this year which resulted in a significant portion of missions budget not required for its original purpose. The BFC Elders directed that any funding designated for missions purposes should always be used to bless missionaries by meeting the next highest priority needs. God’s faithfulness through your giving allowed us to make the following unexpected gifts:

• Beakleys-caring for Handsome, the orphan from Zimbabwe they have taken in
• Ausfahls-medical expenses
• Loseys- Global Partnership Ministries setup
• Wilmoths-personal needs and birth of Judah
• Hostetlers-laptop and personal needs
• Shannon Horn-start-up expenses
• Kloters-one-time BBCM expenses
• Schupps-Hope Medical Clinic
• Hornbrooks-church plant property
• Bagleys-El Shaddai property
• Cheri Geise-totaled car replacement
• Timchenkos-REALIS Christian Center development
• Bennetts-Rwandan church development (church roofing, Jesus film projection)
• Perez-replacing totaled car
• Cortez-Bibles for Ecuadorian Church leaders on Cayapas River
• Joseph Mahaola, Beakley South African missionary/lecturer co-worker-new laptop
• Dave Korb- Brazilian church leader training
• Cheryl Parks (Peoria Jobs Partnership)-ministry needs
• Emmerts-baby birth expenses
• Scarboroughs, pastor training in Lebanon
• Martins (former BBC missionary)-church planted in Italy

There are always more financial needs on the mission field than we can satisfy through our regular budget. Our missionaries were not expecting this assistance, and the surprise provision was indeed a special blessing from God through you. Thank you for your faithfulness which God uses to bless others! To God be the glory.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fads and Historical Theology

I just purchased a new book from Gregg Allison entitled Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Designed to be a companion to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Allison’s book traces the historic development of selected doctrines.

Allison’s words in the introduction regarding the benefits of historical theology are helpful. I specifically found his comments regarding the protection historical theology provides against the “novel” insightful:

"Similarly, historical theology can guard Christians and churches from the penchant for the novel, the yearning for relevancy, and the tendency to follow strong leaders who are biblically and theologically shallow. Lamenting evangelicalism’s radical proneness to destabilization, Alister McGrath urged this solution: 'Rediscovering the corporate and historic nature of the Christian faith reduces the danger of entire communities of faith being misled by charismatic individuals and affirms the ongoing importance of the Christian past as a stabilizing influence in potentially turbulent times.'”
In other words, it is far too easy for Christians to be carried away by strong individuals who claim to have new and fresh insights. Allison continues:

Coining bizarre new doctrines (such as the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel), tampering with traditional doctrines (such as minimizing the need for repentance from sin as part of the response to the gospel), and following dynamic leaders who boastfully minimize the importance of sound doctrines, are exposed as dangerous developments by a consideration of what the church has historically believed—or not believed
Historical theology is a tool that the believer can use to spot the vapidity that permeates much of Evangelical thought. May we be granted protection from the tumultuous fads of contemporary Christian life and cling to the Eternal Rock, Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guest Blogger Pastor Ben

Pastor Ben Davidson is guest blogging this week for me...thanks, Ben!

They say that “confession is good for the soul”. I must confess something to my beloved church family—I love my to do list. I get great joy out of checking tasks off the list and moving onto new ones!

On this note, I have recently been challenged by a book I am reading for a seminary class. Although I do not agree with everything in the book Cross-Cultural Servanthood, it has challenged my to do list mentality. The author, Duane Elmer, challenges the reader to consider how important relationship is in ministry and for our to do lists.

He states two primary ways we serve others. The first is by entering into “a relationship of love and mutual commitment.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8 states, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

The second is our need to adjust to the patterns we learn through that relationship. These two primary ways then allow us to perform the right kinds of God-honoring tasks for our to do lists. Instead of filling the list with the wrong kinds of tasks, we take the position of learner and lover of people and allow that to help us make wise decisions for our to do lists.

Let me ask you church—how much of your tasks for this week involve entering into relationship with others, encouraging the saints and ministering to the lost? Join with me in making a God-centered, people loving list!

Pastor Ben

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Righteousness and the Death of bin Laden

Many words have already been written about the right response the Christian should have as he or she considers the demise of Osama bin Laden. Let me offer a few words of my own that relate to the text we’ll be considering on Sunday.

I am preaching on Luke 10:17-24. In this passage, the seventy-two disciples return from proclaiming the coming kingdom.  As they rejoice that the demonic realm retreated before them, Jesus confirms that their ministry has been effective in fighting the enemy:

And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” (Lk 10:18-19)
But despite the success of their ministry over the demonic realm, Jesus offers these words of caution:

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:20)
Jesus’ point is that there is something of far greater importance than a successful endeavor—even a spiritually successful endeavor. The source of the disciples’ joy should not be in their accomplishment but rather in the fact that a sovereign God had been mindful of them and saved them.

I think there is a sense in which it is appropriate to rejoice that the wickedness pursued by bin Laden has been thwarted by our government. God bestowed the authority to wield the sword and our government wielded it effectively this past Sunday.

At the same time, we must be careful that our joy is not in the demise of the wicked but rather the triumph of righteousness. Our prayer is that our government—and we ourselves—would prove to be an instrument of good and not wickedness. May God grant us hearts that are aflame with a desire for Him to be glorified in us and in the world.