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All Things New

by: Jeff Poppinga

12/29/2016

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Another Christmas has come and gone. The presents were opened with much anticipation and delight, but truth be told, some of the newness and excitement has already worn off. I think we all enjoy getting something new, but truth be told, new things become old things pretty quickly.

The new things of this world have an incredibly short shelf life. There are storage units full of things that used to be new. There are garages full of things that used to be new. There are houses full of things that used to be new. The houses, garages and storage units…
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Another Christmas has come and gone. The presents were opened with much anticipation and delight, but truth be told, some of the newness and excitement has already worn off. I think we all enjoy getting something new, but truth be told, new things become old things pretty quickly.

The new things of this world have an incredibly short shelf life. There are storage units full of things that used to be new. There are garages full of things that used to be new. There are houses full of things that used to be new. The houses, garages and storage units used to be new too!

Will the next new thing we get be the thing that does not fade away, become old, or break? Will the next new thing be the thing that satisfies our desire for something more, something better, and something meaningful and lasting? In the world we live and observe we could say the new passes away and all things become old. The new clothes we get to wear eventually wear out. And we often buy new clothes in an attempt to draw attention away from our very own bodies that are wearing out. The things we buy for ourselves and our very own selves eventually wear out.

No matter how often I buy something new, the new keeps passing away and all things become old. But God has shown us a different way; God has reversed the curse. He tells us in his word, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Did you catch that? The old has passed away and the new has come! Elsewhere Jesus is quoted as proclaiming, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5a). God, through Christ Jesus, is making all things new and the old is passing away.

Whatever we make or produce just adds to the pile of old things. Try as we might, everything we make becomes old; it is new but for a moment. But God, through Christ, is making all things new. We once were dead in our sin but God gave us “new” life in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 2:1-10). Our bodies are now mortal and perishable, but when Christ comes again, we will be raised with “new” immortal and imperishable bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-55). We are also told that “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:21) and that there will be “a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).

In welcoming in the New Year, don’t focus on the new things of this world that pass away and become old. Instead, focus on Jesus Christ, through whom, the old is passing away and all things are being made new. Believe on the Lord Jesus and experience new life today. Happy New Year!

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Habakkuk's Hallelujah

by: Jeff Poppinga

11/18/2016

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How thankful am I? How deep is my gratitude? As Thanksgiving rushes upon me, I ponder the depth of my gratitude and the sincerity of my thankfulness. How much could God take away without me grumbling and complaining? Is my gratitude based upon temporary or eternal possessions? Is my gratitude toward God deep enough to handle the losses and difficulties of life?

As I pondered these questions and others I was reminded of a passage in Habakkuk (of all places). Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet with a book named after him found in the Bible between the books of Nahum…
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How thankful am I? How deep is my gratitude? As Thanksgiving rushes upon me, I ponder the depth of my gratitude and the sincerity of my thankfulness. How much could God take away without me grumbling and complaining? Is my gratitude based upon temporary or eternal possessions? Is my gratitude toward God deep enough to handle the losses and difficulties of life?

As I pondered these questions and others I was reminded of a passage in Habakkuk (of all places). Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet with a book named after him found in the Bible between the books of Nahum and Zephaniah. Habakkuk means “strong embrace” reminding us that God has a loving grip on His people and that His people are to cling to Him. He lived during a difficult time; a time I would describe as certain uncertainty and at the end of his book says,

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places." (Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

As Thanksgiving is nearly upon us we must contemplate the depth of our thankfulness. Could we say along with Habakkuk “yet I will rejoice (be thankful) in the Lord” even if our livelihood and thus lifestyle were severely altered? Notice that Habakkuk’s joy was found in the God of his salvation. Habakkuk’s joy is found in God, not in the gifts of God. Our gratitude will quickly turn to grumbling if our joy is only in God’s presents rather than in God’s presence. We must be reminded that he who has God lacks nothing and he who has everything but lacks God really has nothing.

When we are asked this Thanksgiving what we are thankful for, may we be able to say God’s presence with us and not just His presents to us. Whether in good times or bad let us with Habakkuk say hallelujah (praise the Lord)! Thanks be to God!

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Church Isn't Making Me Happy

by: Jeff Poppinga

05/10/2016

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Right now church is not making me happy! The programs aren't making me happy! The preaching (and I am the one preaching) isn't making me happy! The people of the church are not making me happy! The day to day operations are not making me happy! The events are not making me happy! The other staff are not making me happy!

At first reading you may get the impression that I am not a very happy person but I did not state that I am not happy but that the things I listed were not making me happy.

Can we expect the…
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Right now church is not making me happy! The programs aren't making me happy! The preaching (and I am the one preaching) isn't making me happy! The people of the church are not making me happy! The day to day operations are not making me happy! The events are not making me happy! The other staff are not making me happy!

At first reading you may get the impression that I am not a very happy person but I did not state that I am not happy but that the things I listed were not making me happy.

Can we expect the church to make us happy? Can we expect the programs, events, staff, preaching and people of the church to make us happy?

This is an important question! I believe that I, along with many others, often put our hopes for happiness in something less than our Savior, Jesus Christ. And when we do we place unrealistic expectations on those things or people to produce something for us, which they can't, and therefore we get frustrated, anxious, upset, depressed, disillusioned and even angry.

CHURCH CAN NOT MAKE YOU or ME HAPPY!

What can? Or better yet, Who can? Well, you know the answer, it is the standard Sunday school answer.....Jesus! I don't want to sound trite or overly simple but there is no other answer. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep so we could have life more abundantly (Jn 10:10). Paul understood it and reminded us to rejoice in the Lord always and in case we missed it, he repeated himself and said again to rejoice (Phil 4:4). The joy of the Lord is to be our strength (Neh 8:10).

Church is a whole lot easier to enjoy when I am not depending on it to make me happy. Church becomes more enjoyable for me and those around me when I am not trying to use church for my own self-fulfillment. Church actually becomes more like church when we find our joy in the Lord rather than trying to find it in people, programs, events, studies and staff.

Why do you or I attend church services? Why do you or I participate in church ministry? Do we do it to express our joy in the Lord through glad worship and service? Do we do it to share our joy? Or do we do it in an attempt to meet our need for joy and gladness? Do we do it to find joy?

If you are looking for happiness in a church you will be frustrated and you will probably frustrate those around you. But if you are looking at church as the means through which you can express your happiness in the Lord, you will be a blessing to others and be blessed by others.

Only the Lord can give us true and lasting joy. He is the living water. He is the bread of heaven. He is the way and the truth and the life. He is the vine. He is the resurrection and life. He is the Good Shepherd.

This is written for my benefit but I hope whoever else reads it can benefit as well. Let's go to the Lord and in Him there is joy. Then let us serve the Lord with gladness. But to try and find joy from the church is nothing but madness.

Something to think about.....

Glory and Praise to God; Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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Pastor's Report From 4-10-16

by: Jeff Poppinga

04/12/2016

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Faith Baptist has four congregational business meetings each year. At each one I give a report trying to highlight big picture ministry truths as well as some practical things going on. Here is the most recent report.

1.A Kingdom View

In Acts 13:1-3 we read, “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, for the work to which I have called…
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Faith Baptist has four congregational business meetings each year. At each one I give a report trying to highlight big picture ministry truths as well as some practical things going on. Here is the most recent report.

1.A Kingdom View

In Acts 13:1-3 we read, “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

There are several things in this passage I want to point out. First, the church in Antioch was doing great! There was relative peace and they had several top notch prophets and teachers leading them. The church in Antioch was doing well and growing. Secondly, worshiping and fasting kept their eyes on Christ and His Kingdom rather than on their own comfortable circles. The church in Antioch was open to what Christ wanted them to do, even if it meant shaking things up a bit. Thirdly, being open to the leading of Christ by the Holy Spirit meant that they had to be willing to send some of their best teachers, leaders and friends elsewhere to carry on the work of the gospel.

Do we have a kingdom view of gospel work? The question is really about what kingdom or whose kingdom we have in mind. Do we have God’s Kingdom in view or our own kingdom? In the Lord’s Prayer we are instructed to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When we worship the Lord in all his beauty our little kingdoms begin to crumble. When we see the Lord in his majesty our little kingdoms look puny and weak and unnecessary. When we worship the Lord through prayer and fasting and singing and meditating and obeying we become willing to kick the props out from under our little kingdom work and we begin crying out, “Your Kingdom come! Your will be done!”

2.Programs and People; Trellis and Vine

For years I have repeated the phrase, “Programs do not reach people; people reach people!” This is not to say that all programs are worthless or pointless or useless. Programs can be important in order to create the space or place for people to be introduced to other people and to interact with other people for the purpose of pointing one another to Christ.

I shared one my favorite quotes with the ladies last Thursday evening at a meeting. EM Bounds said, “The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.” He went on to say, “What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.” Although Bounds speaks directly to men, this truth is applicable to all believers.

Another image to help point to this truth is that of a trellis and vine. Life resides in the vine not the trellis; the trellis is simply there to help support the vine. Who plants a vine in order to support the trellis? Church can be thought of in these terms; life resides in the people of God not the programs of God’s people. The programs of God’s people are simply there to help support and encourage the life of God’s people; the trellis is there to support the vine. The trellis and the vine is an image I have gotten from a book with that title.

Recently, as I was studying and meditating on Acts 6:1-7, I was struck by how the twelve handled the complaint that the Greek widows were being overlooked. The twelve did not hold any meetings (that we know of) to draw up a plan or structure to handle the situation. The twelve asked the congregation to select from among themselves seven men of good repute, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and they appointed them to the task. This is an example of putting trust in people rather than programs; this is an example of giving priority to the vine rather than the trellis. The twelve’s answer to the complaint was to emphasize Spirit filled people rather than a structured program. This is not to say they had no structure but it does show that the emphasis was on trustworthy people rather than airtight programs. This is a challenge for all of us to think about people and pray specifically for people and look for opportunities to encourage people with the Word. This is a challenge for us to be engaged in the disciple making process and to have any structure or program or process serve in making disciples to the glory of God.

3.A Sabbatical Plan

First of all, I want to say thank you for allowing me to go on sabbatical from June 1st through August 31st. I am grateful for the opportunity and feel a great responsibility to use this time well. I do not view a sabbatical as an extended vacation but as a purposeful rest. During the sabbatical I will be “resting” from pastoral ministry and yet engaging in exercises and activities that will refresh, recharge, and renew me for continued pastoral ministry.

Secondly, I want to share with you a couple passages that are stand out to me as I plan. The following passages are key passages for me as I head into the sabbatical. I want to take time and remember the whole way that the Lord my God has led me and my family these past 25 years and be reminded that I do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. I also am eager to explore the concept of rest in the Lord and to learn more of what it means when Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3-And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4-Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 5-Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.”

Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29-Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30-For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Thirdly, I want to share some specific things I will be engaged in on my sabbatical.

I want to take some time to travel and remember the whole way the Lord God has led me and my family to this point. Beginning in June, I will travel out to Spearfish to remember and reflect upon my time of ministry there. I will travel from there to Montana where I will be staying with the Morgan’s for a time before coming back home. Toward the end of July I will be traveling south to the Kansas City area to remember and reflect upon my time of ministry and training there. Then I will travel east to Kentucky to do the same thing. From Kentucky I will continue on to Florida to visit JP, Courtney and Jeffrey and Cole and Kezia. I will then be traveling home in August to get the kids ready for school.

When I am out of the area I will visit local churches I have attended before or those I am familiar with, and when I am in the area I plan on visiting our sister churches within the NAB conference or TPA network. The purpose of worshiping elsewhere is so that I will keep “resting” from pastoral ministry and for me to experience, enjoy and learn about the ministry of our sister congregations.

I also plan on doing several shorter “silent” retreats where I completely unplug from phone and media. These retreats may take place at Newton Hills, Lake Pahoja or other such spots I may find.

During my time away I plan to devote time to read and journal through the Bible chronologically. I have purchased a journaling bible for the occasion. I do have some other books and studies in mind but want to give priority to reading and meditating on God’s Word.

During my time away I will be maintaining contact with the elders for the purpose of accountability and providing updates. Any ministry related items should be directed to the elders in my absence. The elders of Faith Baptist have proven themselves fully capable of carrying on the Gospel ministry and I know they will step up and serve well during this time. We have good elders and we also have a very loving congregation who do a good job of caring for one another and I know everyone will step up and serve each other well during this time.


Glory and Praise to God

Grace and Peace to you

PJ

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A New Logo

by: Jeff Poppinga

02/29/2016

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As a church, we recently developed a logo and I thought I would take a moment to explain the key concepts found in it.

The base of the logo represents an open Bible. The Bible is an essential part of our church. We need the Word of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt 4:4 ESV). "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good…
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As a church, we recently developed a logo and I thought I would take a moment to explain the key concepts found in it.

The base of the logo represents an open Bible. The Bible is an essential part of our church. We need the Word of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt 4:4 ESV). "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17 ESV).

In the center of the logo represents the cross of Christ. The cross is another essential part of the church. "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18 ESV). The cross represents the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was on the cross where Jesus, "died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3 ESV). As a church we want to have the same mentality as the Apostle Paul who said, "Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6:14 ESV).

Radiating out from the cross are different sizes and colors of leaves representing a variety of people who have experienced new life in Christ. Christ died that we may live. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10 ESV). "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Cor 5:17 ESV). The cross is where Christ gave his life so that we may have life. This new life in Christ is something given to all who receive him and is offered to all no matter their ethnicity, gender or social status. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people (Titus 2:11). There is room for a variety of people in the Church if there is a unity in Christ.

It is through the Word of God that we learn about the Cross of Christ. It is through the Cross of Christ we can receive forgiveness of sins and New Life. It is through New Life in Christ that we are to go forth to serve God.

Something to think about...

Glory and Praise to God

Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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A Church For All People

by: Jeff Poppinga

02/29/2016

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When I arrived to pastor the people known as Faith Baptist Church back in 2004, one of the things I noticed was their sign which read, "A Church For All People." This is an interesting sentiment that can very easily be misunderstood in today's climate of tolerance but just because it can be misunderstood does mean that it has to be misunderstood.

A church can be for all people without compromising the truth of the gospel and a church must be for all people if it is to be true to the gospel.

First of all, a church can be for…
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When I arrived to pastor the people known as Faith Baptist Church back in 2004, one of the things I noticed was their sign which read, "A Church For All People." This is an interesting sentiment that can very easily be misunderstood in today's climate of tolerance but just because it can be misunderstood does mean that it has to be misunderstood.

A church can be for all people without compromising the truth of the gospel and a church must be for all people if it is to be true to the gospel.

First of all, a church can be for all people without compromising the truth the gospel. The truth of the gospel is that "all" have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are in need of a Savior (Rom 3:23). The church is for all people because all people have sinned. The truth of the gospel is that grace of God has appeared bring salvation for all people. All people have sinned and the grace of God in Christ Jesus is available for all people (Titus 2:11). The church can be for all people who recognize, admit and confess their sin. To be a church for all people requires preaching and teaching that all have sinned and requires a consistent call to turn from sin to Christ.

Secondly, a church must be for all people if it is to be true to the gospel. The gospel demands that the church be for all people for in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female but all are one in Christ (Gal 3:28). This means that the gospel breaks down ethnic barriers, socio-economic barriers and gender barriers. Jesus has come for all people and all who come to Him, He will receive. The church should do no less! A church family's common denominator is Christ their Deliverer. When a church starts making something less than Christ their common denominator then a church will start excluding people for items and issues not related to the gospel.

Faith Baptist continues to strive for this standard of being a church for all people, for which I am glad, for I too would be helpless and hopeless apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Maybe you are one who thinks that you are not good enough for church. Let me remind you that we have all sinned and we all need the grace of God in Christ Jesus to have our sins forgiven.

Maybe you are one who thinks that some others are not good enough for church. Let me remind you that we (you included) have all sinned and we (you included) need the grace of God in Christ Jesus to have our (you included) sins forgiven.

I think "A Church For All People" is such a good statement that we put it on our new sign as well!

Something to think about....

Glory and Praise to God

Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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The Greatest Gift ever!

by: Jeff Poppinga

12/05/2014

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How hard is it to find the perfect gift? Well, that often depends on who you are shopping for, right? Some people are easier to shop for than others! It is not uncommon to hear people talk about finding the perfect gift for someone or to hear someone lamenting the fact they can’t find the perfect gift. Since gifts and gift giving is something that is normal to our Christmas celebrations and since so many are looking for just the right gift, I thought I could tell you about The Greatest Gift ever.

The Greatest Gift ever is one that…
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How hard is it to find the perfect gift? Well, that often depends on who you are shopping for, right? Some people are easier to shop for than others! It is not uncommon to hear people talk about finding the perfect gift for someone or to hear someone lamenting the fact they can’t find the perfect gift. Since gifts and gift giving is something that is normal to our Christmas celebrations and since so many are looking for just the right gift, I thought I could tell you about The Greatest Gift ever.

The Greatest Gift ever is one that has already been given. The competition is over, The Greatest Gift has already been given and there will never be a greater gift. The Greatest Gift ever did not come beautifully wrapped in a box topped with an exquisite bow, nor did it come in a shiny gift bag topped with matching tissue paper, nor was it placed in a stocking hung by a mantle. The Greatest Gift ever is not just for men or just for women or just for boys or just for girls. The Greatest Gift ever is not just for the rich or the poor or the powerful or the weak or the healthy or the ill. The Greatest Gift ever is not just for Americans. The Greatest Gift ever is not something you can find in a store near you or on the internet with a few clicks of a mouse. The Greatest Gift ever is not something manufactured by man or made in a factory. It does not come off the assembly line but is a one of a kind find.

The Greatest Gift that was ever given came wrapped in swaddling cloths and was placed in a manger on the first Christmas. The Greatest Gift ever is not just for one group or one gender or one age but reaches across all boundaries and has been sent to the world of mankind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Greatest Gift ever is given by God even though people did not deserve it. If God had checked His list to see who was naughty or nice, His list would reveal that “all have sinned and fallen short” (Rom 3:23a). Even though we deserved death, God was gracious and gave The Greatest Gift ever to us. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).

The Greatest Gift ever is eternal life in Christ Jesus the Lord. This gift is for all who will receive it. It is the gift that truly keeps on giving. Are you still looking for the perfect gift this Christmas? Look to Jesus for He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Cor 9:15).

Glory and Praise to God

Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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Ground Breaking

by: Jeff Poppinga

04/30/2014

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This past Sunday Faith Baptist Church had a ground breaking ceremony to kick off the building of our addition. Here are the main points I shared before the ground was broken:

1. God does not dwell in temples made by human hands. Acts 17:24 says, "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man..." As we get ready to add on to the church building let us be clear that God dwells in His people not in this particular place. It is the household of God…
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This past Sunday Faith Baptist Church had a ground breaking ceremony to kick off the building of our addition. Here are the main points I shared before the ground was broken:

1. God does not dwell in temples made by human hands. Acts 17:24 says, "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man..." As we get ready to add on to the church building let us be clear that God dwells in His people not in this particular place. It is the household of God that is "being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22). God does not dwell in temples (buildings used for worship) made by human hands but has chosen to dwell in temples made with His own hands; we are the temple! 1 Cor 6:19 says, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?"

2. God is the One who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil 2:13 says, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." We often use this verse as if it is only in regard to salvation but it is in regard to us wanting what God wants and doing what God wants. As we have sought God regarding this building project we are convinced that God wants us to add on to our current structure. It is God who is moving us and directing us. God also moved and directed the exiles who came back from Babylon in the rebuilding of the temple. Haggai 1:14 says, "And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of host, their God." God has also stirred our spirits. Just as we have faced some difficulty so they, in Haggai's day also faced difficulty, but if God wants us to do this we can do it. Haggai 2:4, 5b say, "yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts.......My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not." God has brought us this far and He will bring us the rest of the way.

3. God expects each of us to give as He has blessed us. With a building project like this we do not expect equal giving because God has blessed each of us in different ways but we should each give as the Lord has given us ability to give. When the Israelites were called to build a tabernacle during their wilderness days they we each led of the Lord to give with generous hearts. Consider these passages from Exodus 35. Verse 5 says, "Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord's contribution..." Not everyone gave the same thing but each gave in the same way, with a generous heart. Verse 10 says, "Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded." Some are gifted with skills that can be used. There will be opportunity to use your skills on this project so be ready. Verse 21 says "And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22-So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought......an offering.." In these passages we people whose hearts are stirred and whose spirits are moved giving of their possessions and skills to accomplish the work of God. This is what God has called us to do.

4. With these things in mind, I have ten shovels this morning that are different shapes, sizes, ages, kinds and qualities. These different shovels represent the diversity found in the church body. We do not all have the same gifts and abilities but we should all have the same desire to serve God. We have members here who are founding members of this church and we also have members who have only been members short while. We have young people and more seasoned people. We have men and we have women. We have home school families and public school families. We have families from several different towns. No matter our difference we have a common foundation in Christ and so we come together to accomplish this project for the glory of God.

Prayer: Father continue to stir our hearts and move our spirits to accomplish the work you have given us to do. Thank you for providing us with the skills and supplies we can contribute with generous hearts.

Let the building begin!!!

Glory and Praise to God

Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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Book Review: The Poverty of Nations

by: Jeff Poppinga

02/19/2014

2

THE POVERTY OF NATIONS: A Sustainable Solution is written by Wayne Grudem (a theologian) and Barry Asmus (an economist). I bought this book last year after I had seen it promoted in World Magazine. It was published by Crossway in 2013.

The title caught my attention because I personally struggle with the issues surrounding poverty and poverty alleviation. As a Christian I feel personally compelled to help the poor. As a pastor I feel compelled to equip the church to help the poor. So when I saw the book I added it to my library and as of today can…
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THE POVERTY OF NATIONS: A Sustainable Solution is written by Wayne Grudem (a theologian) and Barry Asmus (an economist). I bought this book last year after I had seen it promoted in World Magazine. It was published by Crossway in 2013.

The title caught my attention because I personally struggle with the issues surrounding poverty and poverty alleviation. As a Christian I feel personally compelled to help the poor. As a pastor I feel compelled to equip the church to help the poor. So when I saw the book I added it to my library and as of today can say I have finished it.

I appreciated the fact that a theologian and economist came together to write this book as stated in the preface on page 21, "One of us (Barry) is an economics professor with decades of experience bringing economic analysis to national economic problems. The other (Wayne) is a theology professor with decades of experience in demonstrating how a detailed analysis of the teachings of the Bible can apply to modern-day real-life situations."

As the title suggests, this book is not about helping poor individuals but about providing a sustainable solution to nations as a whole. As nations move from poverty to prosperity individuals will be impacted for good. The book is structured to focus on "national laws, national economic policies, and national cultural values and habits," because the authors are convinced, "the primary causes of poverty are factors that affect an entire nation" (pg 25).

Prior to reading this book I have read (several times) When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert, Toxic Charity by Lupton, and Money, Possessions and Eternity by Alcorn. I have also watched the DVD series (several times) Poverty Cure produced by the Acton Institute. I have read these books in an attempt to equip myself to help alleviate poverty and help those who are hurting but also to equip me to be an equipper of others who are seeking the same goal.

I have worked in local ministries but have also been to Haiti. One of my daughters has been in Haiti for over a year helping the "hurting". My wife has been there twice now and is beginning a non profit organization called The Denim Project to help uplift women through education, job creation and orphan prevention. With these life circumstances as a backdrop, I found the book very valuable.

The greatest value of reading The Poverty of Nations for me was found in the explanation of economics based upon biblical truths and principles. For much of my ministry I have thought in terms of individuals rather than nations; personal situations rather than national policies, so this book was helpful in broadening my perspectives on poverty and poverty alleviation. This book helped open my eyes to the proverbial forest rather than spending my time in the trees.

In particular I found Chapter Three and Four to be informative as Economic Systems That Did Not Produce Prosperity were discussed. Systems discussed were: Hunting and Gathering, Subsistence Farming, Slavery, Tribal Ownership, Feudalism, Mercantilism, Socialism and Communism, The Welfare State and Equality. Each of these systems were shown to be ineffective in promoting national prosperity. In Chapter Four the economic system that has shown itself to be superior to all others was discussed in detail: The Free Market.
If you are looking for a good resource to defend the Free Market and Capitalism this book would be helpful and insightful.

If you are involved in ministry in general and especially if you are involved in any poverty alleviation ministry I would heartily recommend this book for your study.

This book makes it on my re-read list. Every time I read a book I deem it either "one and done" or a "re-read indeed". One and done's are the first to go when I purge my shelves but re-read indeed's become part of my permanent library.


Glory and Praise to God
Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga
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The Most Troublesome Fellow

by: Jeff Poppinga

02/19/2014

1

As a pastor I have learned the duty of discretion. I must know what to say, how to say it, when to say it and to whom. I don't always get it right but I know I have a this duty. As a pastor I understand the concept of confidentiality. When people share things with me I know I am to hold that information in confidence. As a pastor I know how devastating it can be to drop names when preaching and teaching. As a pastor I must be very careful to maintain my ministerial ethics. If I start dropping…
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As a pastor I have learned the duty of discretion. I must know what to say, how to say it, when to say it and to whom. I don't always get it right but I know I have a this duty. As a pastor I understand the concept of confidentiality. When people share things with me I know I am to hold that information in confidence. As a pastor I know how devastating it can be to drop names when preaching and teaching. As a pastor I must be very careful to maintain my ministerial ethics. If I start dropping names and calling people out I could heap up a pile of hurt feelings in a hurry.


I mean, just imagine going to church on Sunday and having the pastor call you out for a particular sin or use you as an example of inappropriate behavior! How would that make you feel? Imagine the pastor identifying you during Sunday morning as the one giving him the most trouble during the week.

But there comes a time when the culprit must be called out! There comes a time when the offender must be identified! There comes a time when names must be named! There comes a time to point a finger at the perpetrator!

What I want to do in this blog is to name a most troublesome fellow. This fellow has given me more grief than any other person has even come close to giving me. In other words, this fellow is the hands down champion of causing me trouble. This fellow is like the Seattle Seahawks and wins the championship in a blowout.

Well, it is time to out this guy! The most troublesome fellow I deal with is myself. That's right, I am my own worst enemy. That's right, I am my own stumbling block! That's right, I am my biggest trouble.

"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Tim 1:15 ESV).

Oh, how often I wrongly think that circumstances and those closest to me are holding me back. Oh, how easy it is for me to shift blame to others while shirking responsibility for my actions and attitudes. Oh, how I often act like others are the greatest sinners while justifying my own sin.

This is all part of me giving me the most trouble. I am Michelangelo when it comes to painting myself in the most favorable light.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it" (Jer 17:9 ESV).

Recently, I have been reading Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. Toward the beginning of the book he offers clarification on the good news by saying, "The good news of the kingdom is not freedom from hardship, suffering, and loss. It is the news of a Redeemer who has come to rescue me from myself"(pg 16).

I am my own most troublesome fellow. But there is hope for me!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:3).
"Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up" (Jms 4:10).
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn 1:9).

I will close with the words to one of my favorite Hymns: Rock of Ages.

1. Rock of ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.


Glory and Praise to God
Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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Love Hates!

by: Jeff Poppinga

02/19/2014

0

Love that does not hate is not true love. This statement may at first seem to be a contradiction but bear with me. Can love be true if it does not lead us to hate evil and hold on tightly to what is good? Can love be genuine if it does not teach us to abhor what is wrong and adore what is right? I know this is a difficult topic, but consider a couple of passages from the New Testament Scripture:

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Romans 12:9…
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Love that does not hate is not true love. This statement may at first seem to be a contradiction but bear with me. Can love be true if it does not lead us to hate evil and hold on tightly to what is good? Can love be genuine if it does not teach us to abhor what is wrong and adore what is right? I know this is a difficult topic, but consider a couple of passages from the New Testament Scripture:

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Romans 12:9

"(Love) does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth." I Cor 13:6
These passages teach that for love to be genuine it must abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good because true love rejoices with the truth and not in wrongdoing. Several other places we see "love" and "hate" mentioned together.

Jesus told us we cannot serve two masters for we would hate the one and love the other (Mt 6:24). True love demands full attention and allegiance. We cannot equally love two masters.

Micah prophesied to those who "hate the good and love the evil" (Micah 3:2). Those who love the good will hate evil and those who hate the good will love the evil.

The Lord declared, "Do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate" (Zec 8:17). The Lord is revealed as the God who is love (1 Jn 4:8) but we are told that the God who is love hates evil.

In today's way of thinking love is more of a warm feeling we have about ourselves and others rather than a moral center through which we think and act.

God is love! God hates! God is love and hates sin! God is love and loves sinners!

God hates sin and will punish sin in His wrath. The person who sins shall die (Ez 18:4)! The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23a). This sounds harsh and unloving and uncaring until we come to grips with the fact that God so loved the world He sent His only Son to be our wrath bearer. Yes, God hates sin but He loves the sinner and provided a way of escape. God did not just "feel" love toward us but demonstrated His own love for us by sending His Son to die for us (who have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God). God hates sin and death because sin separates people from him but loves sinners and sent Jesus to save us from our sin.

Consider a married couple. A person who truly loves their spouse would also then hate adultery because adultery wreaks havoc on the marriage bond. Consider a parent. A parent who truly loves their child would also then hate any form of abuse against their child because abuse harms their child.

For love to be genuine, sincere and true it must abhor what is evil and adore what is good. For love to be genuine, sincere and true it must hate what is evil and hold to what is good. True love is a godly, functional morality not a gushy feel good sentimentality. As we approach Valentine's Day let's lay aside the wishy-washy watered down "love" peddled by the world and seek to know the wide, long, high, and deep love of Christ.

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G.E.T. it RIGHT!

by: Jeff Poppinga

01/10/2014

0

Several years ago when our church began a building project I felt compelled to offer some guidelines to help navigate the process. Although I have never been part of a building project and do not consider myself very knowledgeable in the particulars of the building process, I do understand the right attitudes which must be encouraged and maintained to keep the congregation in tact and on track through the process.

I have heard of building projects which divided congregations, drove off leaders, and left churches in disarray. I have heard of building projects which have led to destruction…
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Several years ago when our church began a building project I felt compelled to offer some guidelines to help navigate the process. Although I have never been part of a building project and do not consider myself very knowledgeable in the particulars of the building process, I do understand the right attitudes which must be encouraged and maintained to keep the congregation in tact and on track through the process.

I have heard of building projects which divided congregations, drove off leaders, and left churches in disarray. I have heard of building projects which have led to destruction rather than construction. So, as Faith Baptist embarked on a building project I presented some principles to GET it right. These are the things I shared:

If we are to GET it right we must......

G--Glorify God in all we do! The glory of God is to the goal of the church and everyone involved in the church. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1Cor 10:31). "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom 11:36). If we are to build we must do it in a way that is glorifying to God. We must glorify God in the way we pay for the addition, plan the addition and purpose to use the addition.

E--Edify one another in all we do! To edify is to build up. In other words we cannot build a building up and at the same time tear people down. We cannot build a church building while neglecting or tearing down the church body. The church is not first a building but first a body of believers. If we are to go through a building process and glorify God we must edify one another through the process. We edify one another when we speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We edify one another when we humble ourselves and give preference to others (Phil 2:4). We edify one another when we seek God together and forsake personal agendas.

T--Testify to our community in all we do! To testify is to give witness. When a church builds, the community watches and listens. When a community watches and listens, they see and hear what is happening within the church body. When a church is seeking to glorify God and edify one another in the process of building they leave a good testimony for the surrounding community. When church members begin to complain about giving for the project, complain about details of the project, or complain about the leadership of the project those complaints typically find their way into the public arena. A building project should be an opportunity for a church to show the community how believers can sacrifice and serve the Lord together, thus testifying to the community about the goodness of God. A building project is an opportunity for us to show the community what God values most.

These are the overarching principles we have sought to follow throughout our building process. Lord willing, we will move into the actual building phase this year. Lord willing, we will continue to Glorify Him, Edify One Another and Testify to the Community to the end of this project and beyond.

Glory and Praise to God
Grace and Peace to you,
Pastor Jeff Poppinga

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