Wichita Bible Church

Recap: Recent Trip to France

This past Sunday night, a little before 6:00pm, I returned from Lille, France. My wife, I, and two others from WBC went on a short term trip (STM) to visit with a couple our church has been supporting for 30 years. This couple – named Leroy and Debbie Zumack – have been serving the Lord with Greater Europe Mission (GEM) for 30 years. After serving the Lord in Paris for about 20 years, they moved to Northern France to Lille.

We were invited for 7 days to come alongside of them in their early stage of planting an international church – an English-speaking church in the city of Lille. They are currently attending a French-speaking church, but with a sizable international community in the city and English being commonly spoken, the Lord has called them to plant another church.

Much of our ministry with them centered around contacting and locating English speakers who were either (1) potential attendees of this church or (2) Gospel contacts. And there were 2 primary ways of contact that we were involved with.

First, we distributed water bottles at numerous locations around the city. Attached to these water bottles were labels with information about this church. Usually, we would approach people or wait for them to come near us, ask them if they would like a free bottle of water, ask them if they spoke English and then engage them in conversation, often pursing an opportunity to share the Gospel.

I was very thankful for the privilege of sharing the Gospel a number of times during this water distribution – primarily with North African or Muslim men who were willing to converse and were curious why we were passing out free water in a city filled with gypsies looking for handouts.

There was a particularly memorable conversation I had with 3 women who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They admitted to me they were all considering leaving the church and were unhappy with some things but hesitant to give out contact information – probably fearing the persecution from their church.

Second, we attended an informal meeting at a café late at night. This café hosted a number of groups speaking different languages one night a week. We joined an English-speaking group made up of French, Colombians, Romanians, Italians, Americans, Japanese, etc. While many of them were coming to practice their English and network with others looking to do so, we were attending to build contacts for this church plant and share the Gospel.

I think about a middle-aged man I shared the Gospel with who was convinced happiness in himself was enough for life and struggled with the idea of eternal joy in Christ. Each of us on this team from WBC spread out to maximize the number of people we could share with.

In a country that is very apathetic religiously, it was a joy to plant seed and we pray for it to germinate in the future.

The biggest blessing of this STM, in my opinion, was that it didn’t feel like a stereotypical STM.

You know those STM’s where you plan for 10 months, meeting weekly, going over details ad nauseum, participate in team-building exercises, and then arrive on site thinking you are going to turn the world upside down? Those trips I do not enjoy and that is another blog post for another time,

What made this STM unique was that it felt more like us participating in the typical life of the Zumack’s. It felt like we were just a few more people alongside of them doing what they do on a regular basis. We even enjoyed their day off with them!

Because this was our experience, it gave us much more confidence that when we returned home that we could do what they are doing. It reminded us that their life serving the Lord is no different than our life serving the Lord. We are called to make disciples in our spheres of influence. And that is what they are doing in Lille, and that is what we are pursuing in Wichita.

So much more can be shared. Here is a video of a few more highlights from our STM to Lille, France.

 

 

 

 

Developing Leaders

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.

 

A few ago, we launched a leadership development ministry at our church (Wichita Bible Church) where each of our elders have sought out another man (young or old) at WBC who either has raw material for church leadership, is already “in development” to become one, or simply needs to be recognized for how he is already helping lead the church.

Our task is to go through Alexander Strauch’s book Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership and use the study guide that accompanies the book. The study guide is a 12-lesson tour of the book. I cannot express how excited I am about this initiative.

Personally, I am excited because there is always value in examining yourself (II Cor 13:5). I invite the opportunity to look closer (once again) at the qualification for an elder and question my own heart in each of them. I look forward to seeing where God has grown me, where I am still weak and how I can become a stronger example of godliness to others.

Biblical EldershipCorporately, I am thrilled for the opportunity to identify who these leaders in our church are and will be in the near future. I am anxious to find faithful men (II Tim 2:2), give them the doctrinal tools they need to equip people for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12) and encourage them to serve the body of Christ.

Personally, I am ready to invest in my friends. I am ready to dig a little deeper into the hearts of those I serve with at WBC. I am hoping and praying for more transparency and accountability with men in our church.

Corporately, I am hopeful this will become a staple ministry at WBC where we are continually developing men for leadership – whether that be in the home, in the church, in the workplace or wherever God puts them.

This week, we consider the O.T. example of Job, who is the model of an O.T. elder. We will examine this righteous man who during the crucible of suffering never lost his faith and was reminded of one of the most truths about our God: He is sovereign.

Other lessons to come:

  • “Men of Sound Doctrine and Wisdom”
  • “The First Elder Appointments” and “Guarding Yourself”
  • “Protecting the Flock from False Teachers”
  • “Servant Leadership”
  • “Team Leadership”
  • “Qualified Leadership”
  • “Honoring and Disciplining Elders”
  • “Appointing Qualified Men”
  • “Shepherding God’s Flock God’s Way”
  • “Caring for the Poor and Praying for the Sick”
  • “Spiritual Watchmen, Male Leadership and Submission to Authority”

Shepherds Conference 2015

The Thursday feature of the Worldly Saints blog will be sharing of a media clip (audio or video) that has either educated, equipped, provoked or entertained us in some way.

 

I am very excited that the elders of Wichita Bible Church will be attending the Shepherd’s Conference this year. The theme is “Inerrancy and the Prophetic Word.”

A Church of 100 Deacons

Normally, I use my blog on Mondays to post something sports-related, but instead I thought I would share something on my heart that is unrelated to athletics.

I have lived in Wichita and been a member and teaching pastor of Wichita Bible Church (WBC) for 318 days. 2014 seems like a blur at 1st thought, but when I think about moments and days and events throughout this year, the blur goes away and the vividness of where we are becomes pretty clear.

There are a lot of ways I could describe WBC. I used to attend a church when I was in college that was once nicknamed “The Church of 900 Ministers.”

I have not been in a church like it since then … until 2014. WBC is a church of deacons. While we only have three men that are given the office of deacon, there are people serving as deacons would in every classroom and hallway in our facility.

In John 13:1-17, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Foot washing was both a menial task and one of honor, as Abigail washed the feet of her fiancée David (I Sam 25:41). Foot washing was necessary because of the dusty and dirty ground people walked upon in sandals or bare feet. Also, when you factor in the garbage and feces people would step at times, you realize how important it would be to have clean feet at the dinner table (an intimate setting).

Jesus initiates this opportunity to serve in this manner. No one asked Him to do it. And by the way, there is no servant to wash their feet because this was a private dinner. So one of those disciples should have identified their immediate need to take this place of a house slave.

All the necessary elements and objects were present to wash their feet. You had water, a towel and garments to wash with. Yet, no disciples or house slave rose to wash Jesus’ feet. In fact, if one of the disciples rose to wash the others’ feet, it would have been a declaration that he considered himself the least; and Jesus took on this position. God washes the very feet of the ones He created.

Servants don’t wait hoping someone will ask them to do something; they look for opportunities. Too often, we wait for it to come to us instead of us going to it.

If you want to improve your serve, look to the example of servanthood from Jesus. He put others ahead of His own needs or agenda; He was compelled to wash their feet by love; He initiated the serving of the disciples and didn’t wait for someone else to do something that needed to be done; He refrained from being position-conscious; He didn’t care what others would think of Him; He even served one He knew would mistreat Him.

In considering this example of Jesus to follow, you might notice something. Service is active not passive. Jesus got up (that’s an action), took off His outer clothing (that’s an action), wrapped a towel around His waist (that’s an action), poured water into a basin (that’s an action), and washed their feet (that’s an action). All of the Christian life is active; just because we have a sovereign God who already planned events in life; that never takes away human responsibility and opportunity to serve Him and others.

And that, in a nutshell, is what I get to see every week from the people at WBC.

 

Being Poor In Spirit

Like yesterday’s post, I will be taking a break from my traditional themed posting (Tuesday theme – recent reading) that was scheduled for today. I have had a number of people request I post a synopsis or reprise of my comments I made at Rick Wright’s Memorial Service. So I am going to do my best to repost the essence of Saturday’s message from that service.

“Being Poor in Spirit” (Matt 5:3) – Memorial Service for Rick Wright, 11.15.14

Whenever I come to services like this one and fill roles like I am filling today, I essentially ask two questions:

  1. What would God want for us to talk about during this portion of our service?
  2. What would – in this case Rick – want us to talk about during this portion of our service?

And I am always thankful when the answers to those questions are essentially the same, which is what I believe we have today. Rick would want us to share what is on God’s heart; and God would want us to share what is on Rick’s heart … especially since Rick is now in heaven and has a whole new perspective on eternity.

Some of may not know that this past August Rick released what we thought would be the 1st of other books to come on the Beatitudes. The book was on what it means to be poor in spirit. The more I thought about that helpful little explanation that he wrote about that Christian character, and the reason for us gathering today, and what God would want us to talk about and what Rick might share with us today, I kept coming back to the Gospel.

I am want to preach a little to you from Matthew 5:3, but I want you to look past me and hear Jesus preaching it as he once did, and we are going to do that through the lens of Rick’s little book so Rick can some preaching as well.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In his book on the beatitudes, Rick said that this verse sets the stage for all the other beatitudes to follow in the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t too difficult to understand that those who get to heaven – as Rick – are “poor in spirit.” Jesus says, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

So we need to ask and answer, “What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?” If Rick is in heaven today – and we believe he is – he was “poor in spirit.” And if any of us want to see him again, and more importantly, fellowship with our Creator for our eternity, we need to also be “poor in spirit.” In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus said,

24 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

That is what it means to come to Jesus for the Gospel. It is not self-sufficiency but self-abasement. In Rick’s book, he said that is why “poor in spirit” is the 1st beatitude. In his book, Rick does an excellent job capturing the meaning of this fundamental characteristic of every genuine believer. He wrote that poor in spirit realizes

“that in God’s eyes they are pathetic, wretched sinners. There is not one thing righteous about them. They cannot come into the presence of God. They are separated from the Creator of the universe because of their sin against God. That is being poor in spirit.”

To be poor in spirit is to be a Christian. It is to approach God with deep-seated humility. It is to see your true self, in comparison to the true Savior and respond appropriately.

In his book, Rick described what it means to be “poor in spirit.” He took a portion of his book to unpack this foundational element of who we are as Christians.

  1. To be “poor in spirit” is to say, “I am morally unclean before God.” Everyone says they are good. And it a fleshly instinct to compare ourselves to others. But if you use Jesus as a frame of reference, we are unclean and unrighteous. We have a serious problem in our hearts. Even the apostle of apostles said at the end of his spiritual journey and at the end of his life when he was “most holy”, “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” (I Tim 1:15).
  2. To be “poor in spirit” is to say, “I am spiritually bankrupt.” In other words, we cannot save ourselves. Paul would also say, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). In other words, we can try to be good, but one sin will keep us from perfection (Matt 5:48). There is nothing we can do about our moral uncleanness. There is not a moral bank account we can draw from and say to God, “See all these good things I have been doing.”
  3. To be “poor in spirit” is to say, “I am unworthy before God.” Remember the prophet Isaiah? When he was given a vision of God, he saw God in His holiness. He saw God in His majestic perfection. And he was confronted with who he – Isaiah – really was. He says. “… Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa 6:5). God is holy and demands something holy.

That all of this may sound a little negative for a funeral service, but it is the truth. And if I know my friend Rick well, he would want the truth no matter how awkward or untimely or hard it may be to receive it. In fact, in his book Rick wrote,

“The kindest, most loving thing we can do for those around us who do not know Christ is to make them aware of their own sin. The world will tell us that this is not a loving approach, but indeed it is. The realization is the only way for a person to step into the great and glorious eternity that God desires for us. It sounds horrible if it stops right there, but unfortunately, it only begins there.”

The truth is always loving. And the truth of the matter is that you and I can do nothing about our depravity. We can do nothing but keep trying to be good and still see ourselves as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Now, if Rick were here right now, he would say, “Charles get to the good news.” And here it is.

The good news is that we don’t have to solve this problem of God’s demand of our holiness. The problem’s solution was conceived in eternity past when the Father decided to send His Son Jesus Christ to help bridge the gap between God’s holiness and our sin. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Jesus became holy for us and Jesus paid the debt owed to God. He became our ransom. He satisfied the wrath of God by dying a death on the cross that each of us deserved so that we could live a life none of us deserve. Rick knew that, because the Bible teaches that. And because Rick was “poor in spirit,” he is experiencing the joy of heaven at this very moment.

You will see Him again if you have put your faith in Christ, repented of all sin, rejected yourself and sworn a surrender to follow after Christ.

If not, Rick would probably say, “Why won’t you? Why wouldn’t you want to enter eternity with peace and serenity? Why wouldn’t you want to have the assurance that death earth is as good as it’s going get?”

A Weekend to Remember at Wichita Bible Church

I’m gonna break from my normal Monday “sports-themed” posting, because frankly I haven’t been thinking about sports too much in the last week. Here at Wichita Bible Church (WBC), we had a very busy week that culminated in an exhausting and edifying weekend. So I thought I would post a little wrap-up from the two major events at our church this past week.

The Women’s Conference

On Friday night and Saturday morning, we had a mini-conference with my mother, Susan Heck, as the guest speaker. The conference was entitled “Side by Side,” and was geared to look at the distinctives of discipleship for women from Titus 2. Here are some take-aways from that conference.

  1. I am stunned how many people worked so hard to make this conference happen. If there is one thing I have learned about WBC since I have been here, it is this: people love to serve. Bodies were moving non-stop from three days before the conference to cleaning up and tearing down the set up when the conference was ended. Our women at WBC love to serve one another and our church is the better for it.
  2. I am very encouraged by the feedback I have got so far from women about the content of my mom’s two sessions. A number of them are saying things like, “I really need to be more intentional in my relationships” or “where should I start looking for a disciple/disciple?” Prayers answered!!!!
  3. It would seem the Lord already has put certain women in place in our church to build from the momentum of this conference to begin planning more purposeful women’s ministry events in the short-term and long-term.
  4. My Mom told us on Friday night the two states she visits the most for women’s retreats and conferences are Florida (\Go figure!) and Kansas. With four churches within an hour of us that have hosted her (Wichita Bible Church, Cornerstone Bible Church, Grace Bible Church in Hutchinson and Cornerstone Bible Church in McPherson), we may be on to something as far as a larger conference in the future. Maybe partnering with them for such an endeavor would be a possibility?

Memorial Service for Rick Wright

As some of you know, one of our elders suddenly died of a heart attack this past Tuesday night. Rick was a passionate man who loved Jesus and the Gospel with great intensity. The service for him took place a short 90 minutes after our Women’s Conference. Here are some take-aways from the service, Rick and other related subjects.

  1. Rick was the Apostle Peter. He had sanctified madness in him! And I want that for myself.
  2. As I have told some people, I feel like my arm has been chopped off. I have never attended a memorial/funeral or led one where the one who had died was a church leader/pastor/elder. This was new for me. And Rick was not a passive shepherd; he was deeply involved in people and service. To lose him feels like losing more than a finger or two. It’s like losing your whole arm.
  3. The memorial service on Saturday afternoon was one-of-a-kind. And if I can say it this way, this ranks as my favorite memorial service I have ever attended! Rick wanted his service to be overflowing with worship music and upbea. And it was just that. Our worship team led us through many of his favorite songs (e.g., “My Savior My God”, “Cornerstone”, “Victory in Jesus”, “10,000 Reasons”, “Your Majesty”, “Our God,” “Risen Today”). Our auditorium was almost full and the singing was even fuller. In the back of my mind, I was thanking God he put it on Rick’s heart to make such a request for his memorial service.
  4. It was especially touching for me personally to listen to some audio during the service from this past summer when a panel of elders did a Q/A for the church on heaven and hell. A portion of Rick’s answer to the question about what heaven is like was played and Rick said something about there being so many assumptions we make but with confidence he said, “We will find out together.” I can’t wait to discover it with him.
  5. What a blessing his family has been to me. D’Annette (his wife), Rebekah and Elisabeth and Hannah (his three daughters) and David (his son-in-law) are real lovers of God and one another. Rick clearly had an infectious impact on them and seeing them comfort others, think of others, etc. taught me much about Jesus and how to grieve.

One more observation that summarizes something I saw from both events and people involved in their two events. On Wednesday night, we were working through some logistics for all this activity on Saturday and spokeswomen for both events (the Conference and the Memorial Service) were both wanting their events to not intrude upon or over the other. To hear and taste the humility of those speaking was such a blessing. I love to see Christians preferring one another.

All in all, the weekend was providential, but we had exactly the weekend God intended. We wrapped it up with a snowy Sunday and studied the mercy of God from Psalm 86.

Now, we are here on a quiet Monday and waiting to see what is next.