If you are interested in listening to any of the teaching from the Foundations Class that began last Sunday it can be found here: http://springsofgracebiblechurch.wordpress.com/audio-sermons/adult-sunday-school/
•Population – 139,708,000
•Percentage of Evangelicals – 0.7%
•Total Number of People Groups – 162
•Number of Unreached People Groups – 76
•Language Spoken – Russian
•Major Religion – Christianity
•Human Development Rank – 71
Founded in the 12th century, the Principality of Muscovy, emerged from over 200 years of Mongol domination (13th-15th centuries) and gradually was able to conquer and absorb surrounding principalities. 17th Century dynasties followed suit and continued to expand across Siberia to the Pacific. The country was renamed the Russian Empire under the rule of Peter I (1682 – 1725). As Russia continued to expand and gain more territory throughout Europe and Asia many wars resulted, which contributed to the establishment and formation of parliament and government structures. The ruling imperial household was overthrown after repeated defeats during WWI. This is when Communism emerged in Russia under the brutal leadership of Vladimir Lenin which led to the formation of the USSR. Communism rose and was strengthened throughout Russia at the cost of tens of millions of lives. With a stagnate economy and society, Russia found itself in a dark time of history. Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980′s, Russia’s attempt to modernize Communism failed and the separation of the USSR into Russia and 14 other republics was accomplished. Today Russia is one of the wealthiest nations when it comes to natural resources, but with corruption and lack of infrastructure still remains untapped and undeveloped. The Church in Russia was strengthened with the collapse of Communism as the freedom to share the Gospel and plant churches was allowed. The Bible became freely available and other resources like biblical training became accessible. While there are still challenges today, the church continues to grow and develop.
•The corrosive past of Communism still affects the country today. Pray for God to establish values of loving, sacrificial service and moral integrity in both society and the Christian Church.
•Although constitutional religious freedom exists, the Orthodox Church has strong authority in the government and therefore persecutes the Evangelical Church. Pray that legislation for true religious freedom can be re-established and the Church can flourish in that freedom.
•There are many unreached people groups throughout Russia. Pray for the sharing of the Gospel among these groups, for people to be saved and for churches to be planted among the believers.
•Many Christians have left Russia in search of a better life for their families. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ living in Russia to be encouraged and strengthened. Pray that God would call out believers to stay and make disciples and see people come to know the Lord.
Thought this was very good.
Feeding and Excercising
via Take Your Vitamin Z by email@example.com (Vitamin Z) on 9/27/10
Wade Hodges on wishing he heard this a bit more often from Christians:
The problem with our old church is that we weren’t being exercised. We’re looking for a church where we can work, serve, and maybe even suffer. We want to pay a price for something other than adding a new education wing to our building. We want to put it all on the line and do something crazy for God. We’re tired of being fed. We’ve been fed so much, for so long, that we’ve gotten fat. We’re spiritually obese and we can’t take it anymore. We want to be exercised!
Read the rest here: http://www.wadehodges.com/2010/09/15/feed-me/
I think it is potentially dangerous to propose a dichotomy between “feeding” and “exercising”, but certainly it is not off base to propose that most people don’t have a problem with the “feeding” part
Looking forward to worshipping again today around the truths revealed in God’s Word regarding the glories of the cross. Read these quotes regarding the glory of the cross.
“The wounds of Christ were the greatest outlets of His glory that ever were. The divine glory shone more out of this wounds than out of all his life before.” Robert Murray McCheyne
“There is no tribunal so magnificent, no throne so stately, no show of triumph so distinguished, no chariot so elevated, as is the gibbet on which Christ hath subdued death and the devil.” John Calvin
•Population – 20,947,000
•Percentage of Evangelicals – 6.3%
•Total Number of People Groups – 29
•Number of Unreached People Groups – 6
•Language Spoken – Romanian
•Major Religion – Christianity
•Human Development Rank – 63
Under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, in 1859 the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia united, secured their autonomy and later adopted the new name of Romania. Twenty years later Romanian Independence was gained and recognized in 1878. In WWI Romania joined the Allied Powers and was able to gain the new territory of Transylvania after the war. But in 1940, it participated with the Axis powers in the German invasion of the USSR. Overrun by the Soviets, Romania was occupied by the USSR which led to the formation of the “people’s republic” a Communist system that led to the dissolution of the Romanian king. Under decades of oppressive Communist rule by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his Securitate police, Romanian life became very hard throughout the 1980′s. Not until 1996 was Romania’s Communist rule swept away, leaving an effect that exists still today. Ruled by Communism, the churches in Romania struggled under oppression and control from the government and suffered from extreme persecution. Religious freedom has emerged as strict policies from the former Soviet Union has withdrawn. In fact Romania has the third highest population of Evangelicals in Europe and the church has seen continuous growth since 1989. However many evangelical churches are facing threats not from the government but from the Romanian Orthodox Church still today. Their violent reactions to Protestant evangelism and outreach has posed a threat to the spread of the Gospel among unbelievers.
•Pray for the people of Romania. The effects of a Communist past still lies heavily on its people with evil morality and corruption consuming its people.
•Pray for full freedom for the proclamation of the gospel and that there may be respect and trust between all major Christian bodies.
•Pray for the needs of Christian youth in Romania as there are very few people able to minister specifically to the younger generation of believers.
•Most pastors lack education and training and the average pastor supervises five congregations. Pray for God to bring people to equip and provide Biblical training to pastors in Romania.
I was blessed by these words from Charles Spurgeon today. They glory in the same truths that the Lord has been speaking to our church family during this series of messages on the cross.
The cross calls us to be worshippers – not performers who try to “pay back”
worshippers – not laborers who try to earn merit from God
worshippers who embrace the cross:
those who embrace Jesus’ propitiation for our sins -
Jesus’ reconcilation -
Jesus’ redemption -
May the Lord help us to be a faith family that sees the glory of our God and glories only in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accepted in the Beloved – Ephesians 1:16
What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God. But the term “acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only “in the beloved.” Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted.
If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father’s sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never changes, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. How much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.”
You look within, and say, “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind his back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. You fight with corruption, and wrestle with temptation, but you are already accepted in him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts you; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy you, for you are accepted in him who has broken Satan’s head. Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than you are. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved”, and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.
- C. H. Spurgeon
Some of the ladies of Springs of Grace will be attending the True Woman Conference in Ft. Worth, TX, October 14th-16th. Below is a link to their website. Pray about going. Following the link is a tremendous call to women from Pastor John Piper.
May the Lord continue to raise up true women – in love with Jesus Christ – in the family of Springs of Grace Bible Church.
Pastor Joe Blankenship
A Challenge to Women
January 01, 1995 |by John Piper topic: Women
1.That all of your life—in whatever calling—be devoted to the glory of God.
2. That the promises of Christ be trusted so fully that peace and joy and strength fill your soul to overflowing.
3. That this fullness of God overflow in daily acts of love so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.
4. That you be women of the Book, who love and study and obey the Bible in every area of its teaching. That meditation on Biblical truth be the source of hope and faith. And that you continue to grow in understanding through all the chapters of your life, never thinking that study and growth are only for others.
5. That you be women of prayer, so that the Word of God would open to you; and the power of faith and holiness would descend upon you; and your spiritual influence would increase at home and at church and in the world.
6. That you be women who have a deep grasp of the sovereign grace of God undergirding all these spiritual processes, that you be deep thinkers about the doctrines of grace, and even deeper lovers and believers of these things.
7. That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies, any more than men should fritter theirs away on excessive sports or aimless diddling in the garage. That you redeem the time for Christ and his Kingdom.
8. That, if you are single, you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to Christ and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married.
9. That, if you are married, you creatively and intelligently and sincerely support the leadership of your husband as deeply as obedience to Christ will allow; that you encourage him in his God-appointed role as head; that you influence him spiritually primarily through your fearless tranquility and holiness and prayer.
10. That, if you have children, you accept responsibility with your husband (or alone if necessary) to raise up children who hope in the triumph of God, sharing with him the teaching and discipline of the children, and giving to the children that special nurturing touch and care that you are uniquely fitted to give.
11. That you not assume that secular employment is a greater challenge or a better use of your life than the countless opportunities of service and witness in the home the neighborhood, the community, the church, and the world. That you not only pose the question: Career vs. full time mom? But that you ask as seriously: Full time career vs. freedom for ministry? That you ask: Which would be greater for the Kingdom— to be in the employ of someone telling you what to do to make his business prosper, or to be God’s free agent dreaming your own dream about how your time and your home and your creativity could make God’s business prosper? And that in all this you make your choices not on the basis of secular trends or yuppie lifestyle expectations, but on the basis of what will strengthen the family and advance the cause of Christ.
12. That you step back and (with your husband, if you are married) plan the various forms of your life’s ministry in chapters. Chapters are divided by various things—age, strength, singleness, marriage, employment choices, children at home, children in college, grandchildren, retirement, etc. No chapter has all the joys. Finite life is a series of tradeoffs. Finding God’s will, and living for the glory of Christ to the full in every chapter is what makes it a success, not whether it reads like somebody else’s chapter or whether it has in it what chapter five will have.
13. That you develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle; that you never forget that life is short, that billions of people hang in the balance of heaven and hell every day, that the love of money is spiritual suicide, that the goals of upward mobility (nicer clothes, cars, houses, vacations, food, hobbies) are a poor and dangerous substitute for the goals of living for Christ with all your might, and maximizing your joy in ministry to people’s needs.
14. That in all your relationships with men you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in applying the Biblical vision of manhood and womanhood; that you develop a style and demeanor that does justice to the unique role God has given to man to feel responsible for gracious leadership in relation to women—a leadership which involves elements of protection and care and initiative. That you think creatively and with cultural sensitivity (just as he must do) in shaping the style and setting the tone of your interaction with men.
15. That you see Biblical guidelines for what is appropriate and inappropriate for men and women in relation to each other not as arbitrary constraints on freedom but as wise and gracious prescriptions for how to discover the true freedom of God’s ideal of complementarity. That you not measure your potential by the few roles withheld but by the countless roles offered. That you turn off the TV and Radio and think about…
The awesome significance of motherhood
Complementing a man’s life as his wife
Ministries to the handicapped
hearing impaired, blind, lame, retarded
Ministries to the sick:
nursing, physician, hospice care—cancer, AIDS, etc., community health
Ministries to the socially estranged:
emotionally impaired, recovering alcoholics, recovering drug users, escaping prostitutes, abused children, women runaways, problem children,
women’s prisons!, families of prisoners, rehabilitation to society
Ministries to youth:
teaching, sponsoring, open houses and recreation, outings and trips, counseling, academic assistance
neighborhood teams, church teams
independent, church based, institutional
Audio visual ministries:
composition, design, production, distribution
free lance, curriculum development, fiction, non-fiction, editing
institutional communications, journalistic skills for publications
Sunday school: children, youth, students, women, grade school, high school, college
composition, training, performance, voice, choir, instrumentalist
personal witnessing, Inter Varsity, Campus Crusade, Navigators, Home Bible Studies, outreach to children, Visitation teams, Counseling at meetings
literacy, pro-life, pro-decency, housing, safety, beautification
Pastoral care assistance:
visitation, newcomer welcoming and assistance, hospitality, food and clothing and transportation
praying!!!, mobilizing for major Concerts of Prayer, helping with small groups of prayer, coordinating prayer chains, promoting prayer days and weeks and vigils
all of the above across cultures
countless jobs that undergird major ministries
© Desiring God
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
The Eastern Baluch of Pakistan
•Population of the Baluch – 3,616,699
•Percentage of Evangelicals – 0.0% (0.0% Christian Adherent)
•Language Spoken – Baluchi, Eastern
•Major Religion – Islam (Sunni)
•Country Human Development Rank – 139
•Country Persecution Index – 13
•Global Evangelical Status – Level 1, Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
The Eastern Baluch are part of a much larger population of Baluch numbering about 8 million. The various groups speak different languages, each with distinguishing characteristics. The Baluch first moved to this region of the world in the twelfth century during the Monghul period, and the territory where they resided became to be know as “Baluchistan”. The Eastern Baluch live mainly throughout the rough, arid terrain of Pakistan. Many Eastern Baluch are semi-nomadic and deal with the harsh climate by moving based on the season and weather. Although lifestyles may change from valley to valley, the Baluch live by their strict honor code. Many of the Baluch cannot read or write; and until recently, their language was unwritten. The Baluch are Sunni Muslim and hold tightly to their beliefs. The Baluch have been isolated for many years due to Pakistan’s harsh climate, the difficulty of communicating in mountainous terrain, and their reputation as bandits. Source: Joshua Project, IMB, UN Development Programme
•Pray for Pakistan and the political and social environment there
•Pray that God will open the hearts of Pakistan’s governmental leaders to the gospel
•Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Eastern Baluch
•Pray that the Lord will work in the hearts of the Baluch to draw them to salvation
•Pray that God raises up a church among the Eastern Baluch for His name’s sake
A friend of mine posted this on his blog last week. One of our church family forwarded it to me Saturday night and said, “It was a sweet reminder for me that tomorrow morning we are not meeting at the church but with the church.”
Hope this encourages you too.
At the Building, With the Church
August 25, 2010
How do the people of God gather to worship? At the building, with the church. We don’t gather at the church, because the church is not a location. We don’t meet in the church, because the church is not a building. We meet at a building (or a home or a park or a cave), with the church.
God’s people used to gather at the tabernacle or the temple for their intensified seasons of worship. But now we have unhindered access to God at any and every location. No structure defines His presence, for no structure could contain His grace. God in Christ has come to tabernacle among us, and now we worship not at Jerusalem or Gerizim, but in spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24).
So if your church family owns a building, how do you gather? At the building, with the church.
Prepositions are packed with theology. That’s not a discardable point or a laughable nuance or a clever overstatement by someone who likes language. If you disagree and consider this just semantics, take it up with the author to the Hebrews:
“Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son” (Hebrews 3:5-6).
If these are just semantics, rarely has there been more weighty semantics. The difference between “in” and “over” is foundational to the author’s argument that Christ is greater than Moses.
We’re visiting many churches lately. These churches meet in various areas, neighborhoods, and buildings. Some are clean, green, and glossy. Others are dirty, old, and cramped. It’s important to notice that in the first two sentences, I meant the people. In the next two, I meant the buildings. That’s why the word “church” was only used in the first two. The church is made up of people and souls, not bricks and mortar.
These churches are not, must not, cannot be defined by the structures in which they meet. The sands of time will prevail against the wood and the glass and the concrete, but not even the gates of hell can prevail against the church. Buildings will fall, but the church will ever rise. Buildings can never represent God in any substantial way, but His people are being refashioned into His image, and are already called the body of Christ.
Every Sunday the people of God gather to commemorate Christ’s death, to celebrate His resurrection, and to anticipate His appearing. The location is only significant as the tool used to house and shelter the gathered saints. A well-built structure can foster togetherness, warmth, and intimacy, but a structure can never create such attitudes. We meet in Christ, beneath the cross, under the Word, on kingdom business, with each other, at whatever location is suitable. But it is Christ and the cross and the Word and the mission and each other that matter.
In an age of massive building drives producing temple-esque facilities that house fractured and individualistic church families, we must remember what (and who) the church really is and what it really means to be together. Sprucing up the facilities does not spruce up the church. The church is transformed by the Spirit through the Word.
The point here is not to speak against religious structures or building drives or necessary remodeling. The goal is to speak for the church.
There comes a time when the bathrooms must be updated and the asphault repaved and the building expanded. “For everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). But that time (and its resulting remodels) are not nearly as significant as we tend to think. Church growth is people growth; church health is soul health. Grace has broken into human history to redeem and rebuild sinners, not to recarpet the sanctuary.
So the next time you hear yourself saying, “We’re meeting at the church,” correct yourself. The truth is that you’re meeting at the building. No, you don’t have to turn this into a semantic legalism. But vocabulary betrays theology. We really do mean what we’re saying, though we protest that we really understand the deeper meaning. Decades of “going to church” and “meeting at the church” and “remodeling the church” can slowly erode the biblical definition of the “church.” Don’t think it can’t happen. It already has.
A week ago I drove over to our new house in Louisville to do a final walk-through. The previous owners’ grown son was packing up the last of the family’s belongings. As we entered through the garage, I asked him if he felt sad or sentimental to be moving his mother out of the house where he and his four siblings grew up. To my surprise, he said, “Not really.” His explanation was simple but profound: ”It’s not the house that makes the family.”
Religious buildings are unique things. They can symbolize truth, foster worship, and storehouse memories. The building where you were baptized ought to be special. The pews of your childhood will naturally hold a nostalgic place in your heart. Centuries-old stain-glass windows grant a colorful glimpse into the long faithfulness of God shown to the many generations of His people. But beautiful and meaningful though they be, these will all perish, while the truth will remain: The church is a people, a body, a family. We do not gather at the temple of God. We are the temple of God (Ephesians 2:19-22).
So how do the people of God gather to worship? At the building, with the church.
Posted by Gunner
Are You A Legalist? Maybe…
Written by Stephen Altrogge
Let me tell you something about legalism: it’s a miserable sin.
There are certain sins that I call “happy sins”, because even though they’re wrong, they at least give you some form of pleasure. But legalism isn’t a happy sin. It sucks the life out of you, drains your joy, and makes your relationship with God an absolute nightmare. And more than anything else, it’s displeasing to God.
What is legalism? A simple definition is:
Legalism is any attempt to gain acceptance or forgiveness from God through you own works or merits.
It’s not something to be taken lightly. Legalism says that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t quite enough, and that I need to tack on a few of my good works to ensure my right standing with God. God hates legalism because it belittles his great work of salvation.
But how do you know if you’re a legalist? As one who is quite experienced in the area of legalism, let me sketch out the well known symptoms of legalism.
You Lack Joy
It’s impossible to be legalistic and joyful at the same time. Joy comes from knowing that your sins are forgiven, misery comes from trying to earn forgiveness from God. Legalists don’t smile, they just grimace.
You Feel Like God Is Always Unhappy With You
You know that technically, God accepts you because of Jesus’ death for you. But just because God accepts you doesn’t mean he has to be happy with you. You feel like you got into God’s kingdom through a technicality or loophole, and now he just tolerates you, like some sort of divine probation officer.
You Feel Like You’re Never Doing Enough
You always have this vague, nagging guilt that comes from feeling like you’re not doing enough for God. You’re not evangelizing or praying or reading your Bible enough. You should be fasting more and serving more. Remember that time you were able to rest in God’s presence? Oh wait, that never happened because you can’t rest, you need to do more.
You Add Good Works to Your Repentance
When you sin you repent. But you still feel guilty so you repent again, this time with more feeling. But you wonder if you really felt sorry enough, so you repent again and vow to read your Bible for an extra hour that night. You try to use your good works like a salve for your guilty conscience.
You’re Hard On Others
Criticism is the native language of the legalist. You aren’t aware of God’s grace toward you and you don’t give much grace to others. You’re like a shark who can smell the slightest drop of sin and the water. When you see someone thrashing and struggling with sin, the criticism frenzy begins.
It’s time for a checkup. Do you see any of these symptoms in your life? If so, you might be a legalist? What’s the remedy? More on that later.
What are some other symptoms of legalism?
NOTE: I have learned so much about overcoming legalism from C.J. Mahaney. His message “Enjoying Grace and Detecting the Legalist Within” is incredibly helpful. You can download it here.
God effects everything greatly!
Is your doctor a believer? If not, a new study suggests that the care he is giving you may be inferior to that of believing doctors. The study appears in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and in it Dr. Clive Seale surveys more than 3,700 British doctors, of whom 2,923 reported on how they took care of their last terminally ill patient. In short, “Doctors who are atheist or agnostic are twice as likely to make decisions that could end the lives of their terminally ill patients, compared to doctors who are very religious” (AP report).
Medical care is not value-neutral. That much is clear from this study. In fact, the researcher concludes that doctors are ethically bound to inform their patients how doctors’ values inform their clinical decision-making. Not if their values inform their decisions, but how.
If you are interested in reading the study, you can buy and download an electronic version by going to http://www.dennyburk.com and clicking the link.