02/04/2014

BATTLING ON OUR KNEES

I am so tired of trying and trying to get things going only to have another obstacle or difficulty arise!  I give up!  I give in!  I hear the Omnipotent God of all creation responding with a smile in His voice – “Good!  I have wanted this opportunity!”

Anyone who has studied the history of the great workings of God and revival through the centuries knows things happen as a result of dedicated Christians who, although busy with the work of God, realize that more “striving on their own” will not bring about a breakthrough.  They realize that “doing more with less” will not accomplish it, nor will the addition of technology or the latest gadgets make it better or easier.  They realized (hopefully, sooner rather than later) what we must also realize:  God wants us to “ramp up” our connection and clear our lines of communication with Him!  God wants us to intensify our prayers – laying it all out before God and listening to His voice as He speaks through the Word of God to our spirits from His Spirit (don’t corner me on how He does this—I don’t know), and through other godly individuals.

I believe we can begin a revival when we respond to God in prayer.  I am not saying that by praying we become more “holy” or “spiritual,” but I am saying that we are petitioning the Holy Spirit and we are fighting against the enemy.  I am saying we are following the marching orders of God by communicating to Him that if He is not in it—we don’t want any part of it!  I am saying that our prayers for faculty and staff members at GBC — petitioning God to protect them from the fiery darts of the evil one so intent on neutralizing them will begin a more victorious path for them and for Grace Bible College.

The enemy is upset:  he is “stalled,” and will do his level best to inflict doubt and fear in the lives of those who pray and those who are prayed for — so that this new onslaught will not continue.  As I respond to the Lord in prayer, I was recently touched by a passage of Scripture from II Chronicles.  I sensed the Lord speaking directly to me:

 

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  2 Chronicles 20:17

To me this is the result of prayer – Paul calls it “the peace that passes all understanding” in Philippians 4.  To do “warfare” with the devil is hard work – but remember Who does the work.  God wants us to surrender and engage in prayer to allow Him to do the battle.  We must stand firm, not be afraid, and not be discouraged.

ACTION POINT:

I continue my intensity in prayer and ask God to multiply these prayers to bring down the inroads and stronghold of the devil on our campus and in our lives.  In the name of the Lord we will not tolerate it.  Satan has no place on our campus and by prayer, we ask God to restrain him and his activities.

01/20/2014

THE PERFECT BALANCE!

“He makes me feel so inferior when I’m around him.”  Have you ever said that to yourself?  There are those extremely talented people who make me feel as though I shouldn’t even open my mouth, say what I think, offer a thought, sing a note, or any of the other many things I do with wonderful mediocrity!  We all know people like that, don’t we?

On the other hand, I know several individuals I just love to be with because they are so interested in me and encourage me every time I am around them.  They listen to understand, and express words of accommodation.  I come away from that kind of people thinking, “Wow, I’m not so bad after all!”

Interestingly enough, those two very different descriptions of people I mentioned are rarely–if ever–found in the same person!  However, the Bible does describe God in this way –the perfect balance.  Listen to the words of Isaiah:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5a)

“Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.” (Isaiah 45:23b)

“I make known the end form the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10)

 In these verses we see an awesome, sovereign God carrying out His plans and purposes for His people  - Israel –  and for all mankind with no need of assistance from anyone.  He is Lord of all – I feel so tiny and insignificant!

But also, in these same passages we read:

“And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God AND A SAVIOR; there is none but me.  Turn to me and be saved. “  (Isaiah 45:21b-22a)

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)

God who rules all – is our Savior and Redeemer! The very One who sovereignly carries out His plans and purposes calls to each of us to come to Him in repentance because of His personal love for us!  What an incredible God we serve!

ACTION POINT:

Express to God your wonder and awe regarding His sovereign rule over all time, history ,and beings.  Gratefully thank Him for His personal love and salvation for each of us.

01/14/2014

OPINION POLLS

I want to make a confession about my political interests.  I don’t like opinion polls and the way are constantly bombarded with the “approval ratings” of how the President or Congress is handling the economy, or the war on terrorism, or whatever.  I am not at all interested in results of polls concerning who should be the next governor of Michigan, either!  These polls and their political agendas are thrown at us with the hope that they will let us know if our candidates or leaders are popular or not.  When George Bush was president, his aides would tell media (in response to a question posed to them about the President’s response to the latest poll) – “the President doesn’t’ read opinion polls.”  I love that!  That is leadership exemplified.  President Harry S. Truman was quoted to have said, “How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt?”

There are far too many people in leadership who are concerned about doing what other people want them to do, rather than what people need!  I find great truths in Scripture that God is not looking out for our “Christmas lists” and “lifetime dream lists,” but rather, our desperate need to be holy and conformed to the image of His Son.  He works everything out for that good – Romans 8:28-29.  Leaders are often absorbed with “doing things right,” never stopping to ask the greater question:  “are we doing the right things?”

This applies to almost every area in our lives.  I lead my family.  I must supply the boundaries, love, feedback, and discipline my family needs in order to be the best they can be.  They NEED those boundaries and I don’t ask them to create them.  I don’t ask them what things they need to be happy in the world or well-developed.

Educationally, this means we cannot simply convey facts to a bunch of kids about whom  we do not care or have concern.  Too many educators in America today (certainly not on the GBC campus) are more interested in rushing to get everything “covered” before the semester ends rather than seeing themselves in leadership roles making them responsible to serve their students and assist in their character development, which is so necessary in order for them to live successful lives.

Long ago, Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”  Remember, that as we bring sophistication and intellect along yet leave the heart and life alone, we only enable evil and malice to be done more effectively.

In our churches we must speak to the issues of our day which are needed most and not be so concerned about “filling the seats” or “gaining offerings” which will build our position of leadership.  Character and leadership are both about doing the right thing.  Let’s do the right thing – no matter what the personal cost.

ACTION POINT:

God has put every one of us in a position to influence and lead others.  How are the people doing whom God has given you to lead?  Are they becoming better people – learning to do the right thing and doing it?  That’s the test of our effectiveness and sacred trust from God!

01/06/2014

HE’S SMARTER THAN WE THINK!!

Satan is smarter than we give him credit for!”

Slogans about the devil are abundant at Christian bookstores and in the youth rooms at our  churches around the country (there is even a supply of bumper stickers aimed at him)  – such as…  “God good.  Devil bad.”  “God-seeking, devil-bashing believer” or “If the devil doesn’t like it, he can sit on a tack (oh, that must really hurt him!),”  Or “if the devil were here I would SLAP his face!”  These all sound very strong in statements and conjure up an image of a devil who staggers around a dark alleyway like a drunken sailor just waiting for some welterweight to pinch him on the neck so that he can collapse from the impact.

Bad news!  Satan was created chief of all angels.  God did limit his boundaries of inflicting harm to individuals who belong to God (remember Job 1:9-12).  Satan is wise and cunning and deceiving when it comes to how he threatens and captivates believers and non-believers alike!  Remember, Paul calls him the “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:4).

I am more convinced than ever before that we longtime Christians are only playing games when we call the devil names and shoot our spiritual ‘spitballs’ at him while he holds, tightens the noose around our necks, and cuts off our digits with a hatchet!!  Is that too graphic?  If so, I’m sorry, but it best describes the situation as I see it all around us in America today.

God has impressed upon my heart that we are engaged in a life or death struggle for the hearts and minds of our children, our students, our marriages, our neighborhoods, and our College.  Why?  Because the spiritual warfare rages on while we “educated Americans” explain the scientific, psychological, intellectual, or political reasons for their existence, rather than taking up our weapons and fighting the enemy to hold ground and take back the ground that rightfully belongs to Christ.

“We battle not against flesh and blood, but against the ruler, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”  (Ephesians 6:12).

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul implores us to dress for battle and engage in warfare!  We cannot defeat the enemy by “sitting on our butts” and discussing whether a problem exits and what pedagogy would best address the issue.  My fellow warriors, even the students coming to GBC from excellent Christian homes are bombarded daily with sexual innuendos and images that captivate their minds and passions.  The blatant materialism disguised as “success” in this world destroys our young people’s motivation to sacrifice themselves for God and a life of service to Him.  These are the tremendously successful ploys of the devil, he’s not visible so as to be “slapped,”  and he won’t be tricked into “sitting on a tack.”  Our warfare must begin in our hearts as we pray, search, and pray again that God would free us from the bondage of this world and Satan’s cleverly laid entrapments.  At Grace Bible College, following this prayer for ourselves as faculty and staff means will be prayer for our students, engaging them in conversations, building friendships with them, inviting them into our homes, and discussing informally (and formally) the war Satan is waging against us and them — and prayerfully doing battle with God’s armor – the Word of God, prayer, ministry, genuine fellowship, and worship.

ACTION POINT:

Pray!  Get on your knees and give me twenty!  Let’s do twenty seconds of prayer, over and over today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that!  Open your eyes to the battle!  Discuss it with God, with friends, recognize it on TV, billboards, radio, in magazines, and call it what God calls it!  Pray about it, and discuss it with those you love!

01/03/2014

GRACE BIBLE COLLEGE MINISTRY TEAM VISTING EAST COAST!

2014 MINISTRY TEAM TOUR

Under the leadership of Pastor Gary Spykerman – touring the East Coast, Indiana and Illinois.  Please join them if they are near you!

 

Friday, January 3

7:00 pm – Ada, Ohio

Grace Gospel Church

321 N Gilbert Street

419.634.2554

 

Sunday, January 5

10:30 am – Wayne, New Jersey

Preakness Bible Church

1108 Preakness Avenue

973.942.8833

 

Sunday, January 5

7:00 pm – Eastport, New York

Eastport Bible Church

386 Montauk Highway

631.325.8164

 

Wednesday, January 8

7:00 pm – Stephens City, Virginia

Valley Bible Church

578 Double Church Road

540.869.7112

 

Thursday, January 9

7:00 pm – Bedford, Pennsylvania

(Youth/Children’s Presentation)

Bedford Valley Bible Church

3174 Reservoir Road

814.356.3243

 

Saturday, January 11

7:00 pm – Linton, Indiana

Grace Gospel Church

935 A Street NW

812.847.7870

 

Sunday, January 12

10:30 am – Olney, Illinois

Faith Bible Church

6015 N IL 130

618.395.3060

12/09/2013

HOLY HEZEKIAH!

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses” (II Kings 18:5, 6).

What a commitment to God! Hezekiah was a godly man indeed! He set out to please the Lord by giving God his unwavering allegiance and trust. The testimony of the author of Scripture is even more significant when we realize the historical setting during the time of Hezekiah: apostasy, idolatry, and the rebellion of the nation of Judah and their northern counterpart the nation of Israel were the norm. During Hezekiah’s reign, Israel is taken captive by the Assyrians. This incident occurs in the same chapter which describes Hezekiah’s holiness: “This happened because they had not obeyed the Lord their God, but had violated His covenant—all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. They neither listened to the commands nor carried them out” (II Kings 18:12).

What a contrast! We often think that those “old time saints” didn’t have to deal with the pressures we deal with today in order to live holy lives—but that just isn’t true! Hezekiah was a leader. With tremendous courage, he not only stated his allegiance to Jehovah but was extremely “politically incorrect” and ‘”narrow” in his beliefs! He destroyed all the deviant gods and forms of worship that were not right nor ordered by God which had been worshiped and tolerated for generations! The Scriptures state that he not only took drastic action because of his faith, but he “held fast” and “did not cease to follow” – those two statements expose a resiliency which is very drastically needed today.

God noticed the faith and actions of Hezekiah and greatly blessed him for it. “And the Lord was with him, he was successful in whatever he undertook” (II Kings 18:7). So, it should be said of us today: we are greatly blessed because of our steadfast and resilient faith and resulting actions for God.

ACTION POINT:
Where is God asking you to take a stand or a drastic action contrary to the world’s pressure around you? Ask God to help you to be a “Holy Hezekiah” in this generation and to those around you.

12/02/2013

WHAT MUST I DO?

Willingness and openness to change are two of the most profound attributes to bring about a commitment and the follow-through to see things drastically change. After the doors of the prison were opened and the chains fell off the prisoners, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas – “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). His honest and vulnerable spirit of inquiry led to an eternal decision which impacted not only his vocation but his entire family forever! On another occasion, Jesus approached a very ill and lame man and asked him the question, “Do you want to be healed?” This was not a ridiculous question with an obvious answer! The man truly had to have the heartfelt desire to be different than he was, or there would not be real and lasting change.

I have known many people who speak in sincerity – “Oh, I want to grow and be the best I can be.” Or they say, “I commit myself to continuous improvement and lifelong learning.” But their actions deny their verbal declarations! Do you remember Naaman the leper from Aram in the book of II Kings? He went to Elisha in Israel to get the cure for his leprosy – he was willing to travel and “do anything” to be healed, but when he was simply told to wash himself in the Jordan, he almost missed God’s miracle because of his unwillingness to follow through. It took his servant going to him and reasoning with him to be humble and willing to do it for the sake of a life-changing cleansing (see II Kings 5).

Counselors say when working with clients you must always attempt to discover the ‘payoff’ for their illness. In other words, there is some reason people choose to stay in their rut or present position however unhealthy rather than change and improve. Too many people will say they want to change and get better, but very few will ever make the difficult and necessary changes to achieve what they say they desire. When I have taught freshman theology, I found that students love to write statements about “being a good testimony,” or “being used by God,” but struggle with identifying actual steps they can take to allow God to further conform them into the image of His Son—although they hear over and over that they will only be formed and used by God as much as they willingly allow Him to work in their lives.

Leadership formation books state that most leadership development training brings results for ten percent or less of those who go through such training. The most common response of those leaders who changed was, “I just decided to do it. I just got sick and tired of the old me. I finally decided to just get on with it!” Doesn’t that sound like what you did when you decided to learn a skill, or lose weight, or run a long distance race? It is exactly what I have done!

Let’s start with our hearts and examine our willingness to be all that God desires us to be. Let’s ask God to put us through the “desire of our hearts scan.” His desire is your best. The success of His work on your life and mine is our willingness and openness to that work. When I remain this way, it is my heart and will — not His lack of power to change me.

ACTION POINT:
Begin a habit today based on your desires to be all that God wants you to be. Start now while you’re busy and you will succeed! Get up and read and pray. Walk or run a mile. Talk to a family member about a relationship. Whatever it is God leads you to do—don’t give lip service any longer – be willing with God’s strength to do it!

11/25/2013

A THANKSGIVING GREETING FROM GRACE BIBLE COLLEGE

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time! Each year we set aside a day to give thanks with sincerity — (in other words, to do what we should all regularly do). We stop the hustle of work and activity, gather with family and friends we hold dear, and spend time together commemorating God’s blessings. It is not about what we have accomplished; instead it is about what God has faithfully orchestrated and carried out in our lives (sometimes in spite of ourselves!). It may not seem monumental, but health and wholeness of most of our faculties is sufficient enough criteria to pause with gratitude to thank the Almighty source of every good thing.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of trust, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.” James 1:17-18

What a powerful reminder to us that all we have is from Him, and He is immutable–He will not change! He is not a shifting shadow that comes and goes like the clouds or sun moving across the sky. In fact, as the verse says, the greatest of God’s gifts is eternal life as a result of His sacrificial death on the cross for us. He died so that we can be an example of His grace and redemption forever!

It is so natural and pleasing to thank God for His wonderful salvation and for all that He has done!

We thank God for you and realize that without partners like you, this ministry simply would not happen. There are those that teach, those that pray, those that administrate, those that give financially, those that serve, those that volunteer hours of work, and those that organize fundraising or promotional events. All of them make up the ministry team of Grace Bible College. As President, many people tell me they love what God is doing here, and I reply that God is using a great amount of people and their efforts, which have been fully dedicated to His glory.

God truly deserves our thanksgiving! Thank you Lord, for your hand of blessing on Grace Bible College, and how you are changing lives here. And, thank you Lord, for our important partners in this ministry, please bless them!

Ken B. Kemper
President

11/25/2013

PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER

There are many flamboyant and expressive personalities in the news today. The word personality comes from the Latin word persona, originally used to denote the masks worn by theatrical players in Greek drama which came to encompass the actor’s role as well. Personality could be described as the “mask we wear for the world to see.” Anyone can decide by a choice of the will to change their personality just as you would a mask and show everyone a different side you want them to believe. Just watch children grow up! Their personalities change as they pass through different ages, where certain behaviors, clothing, or types of language are popular. Social scientists tell us that the personality of a person is quite fixed at a young age. But this normally does not take into account that personality includes a superficial “social image” that people display. This “social image” may include such characteristics as charm, graciousness, and charisma – although they may not have any of those qualities when at home with their family! Why is that? Personality has more to do with style than consistency.

Influence and leadership that makes a lasting impact normally has much more to do with character than personality. The character of a person deals with the substance. Dwight L. Moody, the 19th century evangelist is quoted as saying, “Character is what a man is in the dark.” The word character comes from the Greek verb meaning “to engrave.” A person’s character is the visible sign of his inner nature. Character is what we are beneath our personality mask. Our character is developed throughout the whole of our lives and is influenced by our daily activities and habits.

Those who would impact our lives most have ethical strength and maturity that flows from their character. They order their lives and behave according to proper values and principles. Someone has said, the difficult part of life is not knowing what is right, but doing what is right. I would suggest that the leaders and influencers are those individuals, who, by the Holy Spirit’s leading and based on the knowledge of God’s Word, don’t simply do what they want to (like everyone else) but do what they ought to! That is character in action – doing the right thing, when we don’t feel like it — perhaps especially when we do not feel like it! I regularly battle the “selfish little brat” inside of me who wants his own way, and only by the power of God do I see victory. But do you know what? Each time I act out of Godly character, I develop a habit of obedience. Each habit of obedience makes the choices easier. Each habit that builds our character creates currency of influence and my destiny as an individual. Aristotle wrote, “Moral virtue comes about as a result of habit…We become what we repeatedly do. We become just by doing just acts, self-controlled by doing self-controlled acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

 ACTION POINT: Begin a habit today based on your convictions and Godly desires. Tell the “selfish little brat” that lives inside to get used to doing without, because his rule is over! Prayerfully ask God to build your character and influence for His glory!

11/18/2013

BALANCE

Is balance the objective?  I have often gone through the process of self-evaluation and personal goal planning.  In such sessions, one usually evaluates his or her efforts in the various roles of life, like: how am I doing as a father/parent; as a member/minister in my church; in my vocational role; as a witness to my neighbors; as a steward of my finances and possessions?  The results and goals that come out of this type of evaluation normally lead us to plan for a greater balance in our lives.  In other words, we realize we are “lopsided” or that we don’t really act upon or give attention to those core values we have stated in our life.  They are “ideals,” and therefore, not real priorities.  In the balance dialogue, we draw our life like a giant pie chart and try to make every area have an equal amount of effort so as to appear proportional.  We immediately think of better time management skills, and also compartmentalize the different areas of the pie chart into “spiritual” and “non spiritual” activities.  Is that really the objective?

Concerning this topic, John Ortberg suggests:  “The quest for balance lacks the notion that life is to be given to something bigger than ourselves.  It lacks the call to sacrifice and self-denial—the wild, risky, costly, adventurous abandon of following Jesus.”  Imagine a “time management consultant” discussing with hungry, neglected children what they need.  Or, how about this statement to the Apostle Paul:

“Paul, if you look at this pie chart, I think you’ll agree with me that your spiritual life is going pretty well.  But vocationally, your tent-making has seriously fallen off.  This has led to some downsizing in your financial portfolio.  Let’s take a look at the time log I asked you to keep since our last meeting.”

The crux of the problem with managing and balancing your life is that only it seeks to control the external pressures of life.  But the real need is to deal with the heart and our attitude towards those external issues  –  to order our hearts and examine our devotion to the Lord so that we might better accomplish whatever we do “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”  (Colossians 3:17).  God wants us to do whatever it is we do during our every waking moment for the glory of God (Colossians 3:23-24).  Does allowing God to order my heart affect my desires?  Absolutely.  Does it affect my resulting actions?  Certainly.  God wants your heart and your mind so that He can have your strength and time in devotion to Him.

ACTION POINT:

Ask God to rule your heart and mind.  Take some time to really listen to God.  He made you for a purpose and redeemed you to be where He wants you doing what He desires.  Purpose to live every moment in fulfillment of His actions through you to those around you.