Four Thoughts About Grace

Four Thoughts About Grace

By Jake Wright

Fort Osage Church Replanting Center Intern

The longer I’ve been living my life as a disciple of Jesus, the more I am amazed at the incredible nature of God’s grace toward us.

Here are four thoughts about the grace of God that stand out to me:

1. People often misunderstand what is meant by “grace.”

When we are late on a payment or have forgotten to return a movie or book to the library, we are often given what is called a “grace period.” This is when the individual loaning something to us is willing to extend a little more time for us to pull together the money or to drop off the library book because they trust that we will come through with it. “Grace periods” like these apply when we haven’t really done anything horrible, we just had a lapse in memory or made a mistake. But God’s grace isn’t for people who have made mistakes, it’s for people who have deliberately sinned against him! It’s a lot more than simply not deserving to be saved–it’s that humans are ill-deserving. We deserve the most severe punishment for disregarding the laws of God.

2. Grace shatters any sense of pride produced by accomplishing something.

Salvation in all other religions is based on human achievement, not divine grace. However, the Bible teaches us that our salvation isn’t something that is earned or merited by anything we do. It is simply by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). This makes it so that no one can brag about the status of their relationship with God! Paul wrote in Romans 3:

What becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

3. Humans naturally resent the idea of grace.

We want to see people who hurt us get punished. It goes totally against our grain to not dispense out justice to those who deserve it. As a matter of fact, most people probably consider it foolish to show grace to someone who has hurt you or wronged you, because it doesn’t mesh with human rationale. But that is the very reason why we need it so badly. Turning the other cheek and freely giving grace to those who hurt us becomes much easier when we remember that “God demonstrates his love toward us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

4. God is by nature very gracious.

This is good news for all of us! God shows grace to all of his creatures every day. Matthew 5:45 tells us that “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” The even better news is that God’s graciousness toward believers extends much farther than just taking care of our earthly needs–he has made us who were formerly his enemies into his friends and removed the penalty of our sins so that we can spend eternity with him in Heaven. As the old hymn by John Newton goes…”Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see!”

Spiritual Sharpening

Spiritual Sharpening
by
Daniel Owensby
Assistant Pastor
New Salem Baptist Church

New Salem Baptist Church is proud to announce a new upcoming seminar entitled “Spiritual Sharpening.” The seminar will be offered on Sunday nights on the following dates: September 13, 27, October 4, 18, and 25. Each session will begin at 6 PM in the sanctuary of the church.

What is Spiritual Sharpening? It is a study that encourages the believer to incorporate the Scriptures into their life, which is essential in order to be spiritually mature.

“Spiritual Sharpening” will focus on practical application. Just as a knife needs to be sharpened to work well so does the believer need to remain sharp in the Christian walk. Every true disciple of Jesus has an internal tug upon their heart to be pleasing to Jesus. It may be surprising how spiritually sharp a believer can be in their personal walk if they commit themselves to the spiritual exercises that form the basis of this seminar.

The study will consist of five one hour sessions that will introduce basic principles necessary to remain ‘spiritually’ sharp in a modern anti-spiritual culture. Each session will include short lectures, practical exercises, and interaction with others. A notebook will be provided to aid in the visual record of personal experiences. For those who complete the seminar a certificate of recognition and completion will be awarded.

The heart of each session can be summarized by Colossians 1:10-11 where it says, “Asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”

The Bible promises blessing, protection, wisdom, and guidance. To stay sharp and withstand against the daily ever present battles we must sharpen the ‘sword’ which is the Word of God.

Feeling Overcommitted Lately?

By Paul Francis

Minister of Pastoral Care and Counseling

Have you ever felt overcommitted? Do you have trouble telling people that you cannot take on another task? We all have!

Setting boundaries in our lives is something that we all struggle with. You don’t want to let someone down, so you say yes. Before you know it you have said yes to so many things, that they all of those things begin to suffer.

Sometimes we miss the “best” because we are so wrapped up in doing the “good” that we cannot even see the best. Setting boundaries and then maintaining them is difficult work. Yet, having boundaries can have great benefits in many areas if your life.

The good news is that there is something we can do about this problem! We can learn how to create and maintain effective personal boundaries based upon principles from the Bible.

Join us for a brand new Boundaries Small Group Study, based in the book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend! In this study, we will explore what healthy boundaries look like and how each of us can set healthy boundaries.

Come and join us this Sunday morning, August 23rd at 9:30 AM. Our 9-session study will last for 1 hour and will run through Sunday, Oct. 18th. As part of this study, we will be watching videos featuring the authors of the book and engaging in what should be lively group discussion.

Make your plans to attend now. For more information call the Fort Osage Christian Counseling Center at 816-866-5946.

Four Principles for Being a Soul Winner

Four Principles for Being a Soul Winner

By Jake Wright

Fort Osage Legacy Church Replanting Center Intern

In a collection of lectures entitled The Soul Winner, Charles Haddon Spurgeon defines evangelism simply as “soul winning.” That is, when we share the good news about Jesus Christ with the lost world, we do it in hopes that they might be saved and “won” to the Lord. Let’s take a look at a few essential principles to keep in mind as we share the Gospel message of salvation to the world around us:

1. We must act as witnesses. The one thing you have to do as a witness is bear witness to the truth you know. If you ask yourself the question, “What can I say to this person that will allow me to seem smart in this discussion?” you’re on the wrong track. We do not need to be thought of as smart or witty—rather we must boldly testify to the truth that we know. If someone witnesses a crime and is summoned to testify in court, they will only be required to answer questions about what they witnessed. If they are asked all manner of questions about unrelated issues, they might say, “You are going above my record, I can only testify to what I saw.” So it should be with us and our personal witness of what Jesus has done for us and others.

2. We must be pleaders for Christ. If we are to win people to the Lord, we must feel. We need to be people who have a heart for the lost people we know and a willingness to meet them on their level. There is no place for self-righteously looking down on others who are lost in the Christian faith. The heartfelt motivation to love our fellow man with the Gospel message ought to consume us. After all, the grace that we preach is the only thing that makes us different than the worst sinner we know. Fervent love for God and a genuine love for others are the two qualifications for a pleader for Christ.

3. We must act as examples. As the adage goes, “Practice what you preach.” We diminish the reputation of Christ and his Gospel when we are not careful to live in a manner worthy of the Lord. Our example can have a dramatic effect on the lost people we know! Our conversion, the lives we live currently amongst a perverse generation, our example of joy and sorrow, and the way that we submit to God in difficult times can be the means of introducing other to enter the way of life.

4. We must practice discipleship. When someone we have shared the Gospel with tells us they have trusted in Christ, we often don’t know what to do next. We tell them to read their Bible and attend church—but often have nothing else to offer! Perhaps there is some discipleship program they can get involved in? No, discipleship is not a program—discipleship is the new lifestyle of the Christian person. In Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald Whitney says, “The Holy Spirit causes all those in whom he resides to have new holy hungers they didn’t have before. They hunger, for example, for the Holy Word of God—the Bible—that they used to find boring or irrelevant.” The hunger for discipleship comes naturally to a new believer, but we must be there to walk alongside our friend. There are several ways to encourage a new believer in their discipleship, such as being a mentor or accountability partner. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “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.”

Modeling the Gospel to Our Children

We welcome a guest article to our blog by Jake Wright, ministerial intern at New Salem Baptist Church.

Modeling the Gospel to Our Children

By Jake Wright

Have you ever felt awkward about explaining the truths of Christianity to your children? Many of us have no problem explaining the simple teachings of the Christian Faith, but explaining them to those who live with us on a daily basis can leave us feeling a little hypocritical. Most of us know that Christ has taught us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and bless those who curse us. We know what we are supposed to do as followers of Jesus, but many times what we believe and what we do are not the same. Paul understood this and struggled with it (see Romans 7:13-8:2).

When we say we trust in the Gospel of Christ, we are depending on Jesus to stand in our defense at the throne of God. Since we’ve committed crimes of sin against the King of Kings, we deserve to be met with punishment on the day of judgment from a judge who rewards each according to his deeds. When we trust in Christ, he saves us, and now stands between us and God as our mediator. Jesus is our only hope of forgiveness in God’s economy where sin is never allowed to go unpunished (1 John 1:9).

Paul’s words in Colossians 3 show us that this amazing forgiveness that is found in the Gospel manifests itself in the life of a believer

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. –Colossians 3:5-9

What better way is there to allow God to work through us than in the single most critical social structure instituted by God: The family. The changed life of the believer should be most evident to those who are closest with them. After all, children have a front row seat when it comes to observing the actions of their parents.

What are some practical ways the forgiveness found in the Gospel shows up in our lives as we relate to our children?

  • Show restraint to them when we’re angry or upset.
  • Give grace to them even when they don’t deserve it.
  • Look out for the good of our children before our own.
  • Take time to read the Bible and pray together as a family.

When we do these things, we are walking, talking proof of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Living lives of authentic Christianity will allow our children to see that faith in God is real–and really effects the way in which we live. It’s what a disciple does!

–Jake Wright is from Wichita, Kansas and roots for the Wichita State Shockers. He is a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has been serving as our Spring Semester Ministerial Intern. He and his wife, Hannah, live in North Kansas City.

Caring for a Hurting World

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist these days to recognize that the world around us is hurting emotionally and mentally. Just read the newspapers and you will discover that many people are broken and have little hope. Life is definitely not easy, and for many life is a mess. Sadly, ABC News reported that in 2010 one in five Americans experienced some sort of mental illness. Many more of us just need help with the everyday issues of life.

How can the believers at New Salem Baptist Church help? We know that God can bring wholeness and healing to peoples’ lives. God counsels us with His word (Psalm 73:24). Jesus declared Himself to be “the life” (John 14:6) and that He came to give abundant life (John 10:10). In fact, Isaiah refers to the Messiah as the “Awesome Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). When we come to Christ, God begins to change us through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. That progressive change brings sense and purpose to our mixed up lives. God’s Word reminds us that we are to encourage one another daily (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13).

In order to do this and to serve our community, New Salem Church voted to establish the Fort Osage Christian Counseling Center. This center exists to help individuals and families glorify God in mind and body and to make Jesus Christ the Lord over all life. The Center will follow a model that is best described as clinically descriptive and biblically prescriptive. We seek to identify the root of the issues you are facing and examine them in light of the Scriptures. We will patiently listen to you so that we may understand your views and values. Together, we will then develop strategies and skills that will assist in overcoming those issues you face.

We believe that a counseling ministry enriches the church. The power of the Gospel impacts every area of our lives. Individuals who come to the center will be listened to compassionately and wisely. Our care will be Biblically-based and Christ-centered.

The Fort Osage Christian Counseling Center offers Biblically based counseling for:

  • Life issues
  • Family issues
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

To direct the Center, New Salem Church called Paul Francis to be our Minister of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Paul is a Master of Arts in Counseling graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. He will be pursuing state licensure under the supervision of Dr. Richard Humble, a profession licensed counselor.

This Sunday, January 25, Paul Francis will speak in our morning worship service (10:45 AM) on “The Role of Counseling in the Church” from Galatians 6:1-5. Please come and join us as we launch this new endeavor!

Flake’s Fabulous Formula

page22_picture0_1326255454Since New Salem Baptist Church is committed to being disciples who make disciples so that together we glorify God and transform our community, I think it would be helpful to begin to discuss some ways to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  So periodically, I will endeavor to write about some basic training for disciples. One of my heroes in leadership training is Arthur Flake.

Flake became the first leader of the Sunday School Department for the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1920. I found it interesting to find out that he wasn’t a pastor or a minister. Instead, he was a layman from Winona, Mississippi. He came up with a very successful formula for building and growing a successful Sunday School. In 2005, David Francis published booklet 5 Step Formula for Sunday School Growth about the formula through LifeWay Press. It is available for download here on the Internet. Bob Mayfield also penned several thoughts on Flake’s Legacy in a blog as well. Mayfield updated the formula the formula for today and organized it in an acrostic format for easy recall: K-E-E-P-Go.

Here is Mayfield’s reconstruction (with his interpretation in parenthesis):

  • Know your possibilities (Have a vision)
  • Enlarge the organization (Start new groups and support networks)
  • Enlist and train leaders (Develop good leaders)
  • Provide space (Groups need places to meet)
  • Go after the people (Reach out to others)

The formula provides an action plan for pretty much any small group, Sunday School class, or organization with a purpose. I hope to discuss these contextually–that is, in reference to our community and our commitment to serve others. Please remember that Flake’s formula is a means to an end. Our objective is to win the lost to Jesus and help them grow as disciples who in turn go out and make other disciples and who together glorify God in our community and world. As David Francis said it well, we must “never lose sight of the objective of the original small-group experience: to invite men and women, boys and girls to study the Bible with a group of peers under the guidance of a committed leader so that the Holy Spirit might do His work through the living Word of God. The philosophy and methodology of organization and growth Flake popularized over 80 years ago remains remarkably valid today for developing an outreach-oriented, relational, small-group Bible study ministry, whether it is called Sunday School or something else” (Francis, 5 Step Formula, 3). Stay tuned for more!

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The Greatest New Year Resolution

Several online sermons contain the story of a high school principal who decided to post his teachers’ new year resolutions on the school’s bulletin board. When the teachers gathered around the board a great commotion started. One of the teachers began to complain loudly: “Why weren’t my resolutions posted?” The teacher began to throw a temper tantrum right there in the hallway in front of the other teachers and students.

The principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked or misplaced the teacher’s resolutions. Sure enough, the resolutions were left on his desk. But when he read the teacher’s first resolution he was astounded. It said something like, “I resolve not to let little things upset me in the new year.”

The greatest resolution of all time is given by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” I don’t think we could go wrong with this resolution. For the disciple of Jesus, it should be the most important resolution for everyday of the year! Following this resolution would bring the happiest year of all!

James Leo Green and the Star of Bethlehem

I posted a great sermon by James Leo Green, a former Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Southeastern Seminary on the Law, Prophets, and Writings Blog. May it be for a blessing! (http://lawprophetsandwritings.com/?p=1211) As a pastor, professor, and mentor, James Leo Green (1912-1994) influenced several generations of ministers. One of his more popular sermons was entitled “The Star of God” and was based on the throne names of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. A transcription of this sermon has been posted on the Law, Prophets, and Writings blog as a tribute to Dr. Green and a fitting reminder of the season. Make sure to read the end of the post for more insight into Dr. Green’s commitment as a person of faith. ‪#‎MBTS‬ ‪#‎Christmas‬