Monthly Archives: January 2014

EXPECTATIONS

I enjoy reading Wendell Berry, an author who writes poetry, essays and fiction with a heart for community and the land. Mr Berry who is a religious protestant, does not have a redemptive understanding of Christ or of the Bible, but his works are very thoughtful concerning the importance of relationship and community.

When an interviewer asked him about relationships and commitment, Mr. Berry gave the following response.

“People enter into relationships with one another and with their places with the idea that they have a right to expect those places and those people and those connections to be perfect, and then when imperfection appears, as it inevitably does, they feel they a right to be offended, and they don’t see the arrogance and the condescension in that.

It’s not up to the other people and the places and the relationships to be perfect. It’s up to every participant to make the relationship and the place and the other person as perfect as possible. We don’t have a right to give up on our choices and our places and, indeed our cultural inheritance because it’s not perfect. We don’t deserve that they should be perfect. We have an obligation to make them perfect, if we can.”

As a pastor, I have found that unmet expectations are one of the biggest reasons for our disappointments and the stresses in our relationships. Our expectations tend to focus on what we want other people to be for us, rather than God’s agenda, which is what we should be for them.

We can expect God to be perfect and we can expect every person we know to be a struggling sinner. Do we expect ourselves to be people who represent the gospel and the love of Christ in the lives of those sinners, whether they be the sinner we married, or the sinners who attend our church?

Originally posted 9.13.11

GODLY HABITS IN A NEW WORLD

Christians know there are basic habits or godly disciplines that should be part of our life if we want to be spiritually healthy and to stay on mission.

Read our Bible

Pray

Attend church regularly

Give generously

Give Facebook a break

Silence our smart phone

Check, check, check, working on it, and . . . wait a minute, when did smartphones and Facebook become part of my spiritual health check list? When new technologies began  to be such a dominant part of daily (or hourly) life.

The answer is not to throw new technologies away (at least not for many of us), but we do need to consider how these technologies end up using us, and most importantly, how the new cultural norms they produce affect our spiritual health.

Clint Archer addresses this with these 4 helpful suggestions on the Cripplegate Blog

THIS WEEK IN BELARUS 1.28.14

An older Belarusian village home

I arrived yesterday midafternoon Minsk time, which is 8 hours ahead of home.  I was sleep deprived and carrying a case of jet lag, so this morning is for sleeping

My schedule is busy and I want every aspect to be pleasing to God and well used by Him. I have given you this week’s schedule so you can follow along in your prayers.

I will try to keep you updated on the details each day through Twitter and Facebook (although my traveling this week will limit my access to internet service).  

Your prayers are meaningful and needed! So thank you for your love and faithfulness to pray.

Tuesday, January 28

Today I have to register as a visitor at a police headquarters (slightly unnerving).

This afternoon is set aside for SEE Global planning over a loooonng lunch. Hopefully Sergei picks a good place. He tends to go for sushi.

Tonight is an exciting time as I get to teach a large group of youth from Bethlehem and other churches. Under Sergei this group has grown from a handful to over a hundred. I have come to know many of them and they have great energy. Plus I arrive when they are at Romans 3:21-26 in their weekly study. This is perhaps the most theologically rich passage in the Bible

Wednesday, January 29

I travel to Vitebsk which is one of the oldest cities in Belarus. This region in the northeast of the country is a spiritual desert. Communism is still popular and the few churches which exist are small and scattered.

I will spend the day with Pastor Alexei Alshevski & his wife Helen. In the evening I will teach at a youth meeting. We will stay overnight with them

Thursday, January 30

We move north a little further to the city of Polosk, which is the birthplace of the grand duchy which eventually became Belarus. I have wanted to visit this city for years, so this will be a treat. We will be visiting with Peter & Theresa Vashenko.

Friday, January 31

We are on the road again to Kastukovichi, which is I have no idea where! The pastor we will visit is Vladimir & Natalia Nikitenko. Our purpose is to spend time with faithful servants of the gospel who struggle under hard conditions and see little result

Saturday, February 1

I remain in Minsk today to speak at a conference held in Good News Church. My theme is the nature of the church and our place in it.  I have 4 teaching sessions followed by a time of questions and answers. 

Q and A in Belarus can either be quiet or more likely the people will have questions from every aspect of life and Scripture

Sunday, February 2

This is a highlight day. In the morning I will preach at our sister church in Gatovo, followed by some wonderful relaxation with the Bukanov family. In the evening I will preach for more good friends at Bethlehem Church in Minsk

As you can see, my first week is full with teaching, traveling and time with pastors and their families. So keep praying!

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.27.14

“Watch what influences us” 

2 Timothy 3:1-9

2 Timothy was written to help the church stay on mission

Chapter 2 warns us to be careful that the misuse of God’s word doesn’t derail us

Chapter 3 warns us to be careful that sin doesn’t derail us  

We live in a world plagued by sin

These sinful qualities Paul lists are not uncommon or random attributes

It is not that everyone is like this all the time, but we see these sins daily in all places and in all sorts of people

The pervasiveness of sin is what makes this life so hard (v1)

Sin is what we should blame and hate in this world

We can fall into blaming types of people, but sin is the problem

The sin we should hate most of all is in ourselves

Sin is why our final rest cannot be in this world

We are to hold loosely to this world and long increasingly for Christ’s kingdom

Since peace on earth is through God’s reign in us, make His reign our daily pursuit

If sin is the world’s great problem, the gospel is the world’s great solution

We can join many causes, but none of them can change a soul

Only the gospel can break sin’s chains

Only revival can change society

 It’s informative to notice that Paul describes these sins as misplaced love

He begins and ends his list by saying what people “love” (vs 2-4)

Any struggle with sin is a love for God struggle

 In chapter 2 we were warned to be faithful by “fleeing” sin and “pursuing” godliness

We accomplish both of these by growing in our love for God

Love for God is a wall of prevention for all we shouldn’t do and be

It is rich soil for growing in all we should do and be

Unfortunately the world is not aware of its sin problem (v5)

They think they have a form of “godliness”

This is because they love their rule more than God

So the values that exalt mankind are highly esteemed and the rules of God are hated

This leads the world to call the values of God wrong

People generally start with themselves, but as believers we must start with God

Paul then focuses in on a certain group of people (vs 6-8)

He is turning his attention again to false teachers

We see false teachers often prey on the vulnerable

We see they appear to be people of learning, yet they don’t arrive at truth

The end of all false teachers is failure (v9)

Their failure will also affect all who follow them

Bad theology will not sustain us, even if we think it gives some immediate help

Paul’s counsel is to “avoid such people” (v5)

How will that happen, if we are not alert to what is false?

False teachers use the Bible, but they misuse its context and intent

Paul’s warning to avoid such people includes the sinful world

But what does that mean? And how is it even possible?

Let’s look at it from 2 perspectives

1.  Paul makes a distinction between sinful people in and out of the church  1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Church discipline is not for failures, but for believers who refuse to repent

This is a hard issue, but it’s biblical, so it’s required and it’s healthy

2.  Paul tells us what to avoid from the world  Romans 12:2

But we must avoid (flee) the people-centered values that drive society

We want to reach sinful people, so we must befriend and invest in them

Chapter 3 begins by saying “understand this”

Paul means understand the realities behind the people and circumstances surrounding us

Look at all things from God’s perspective

. . which is true

. . which is fruitful

. . which lasts

. . and will simplify our life

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN

SEE Global team December 2013 SEE Global staff and leadership team in Minsk

By bedtime on Sunday night I will be at 30,000 feet passing over the frozen rocks of Greenland. And when you are enjoying your morning coffee I should be in the Minsk airport having my luggage ransacked in customs.

In the past I have shared daily Belarus Journals via email or most recently, on this blog. This year I will not be posting a daily journal on the blog.

My primary means of communicating what takes place on the trip will be shared on Twitter (which is also connected to Facebook). I hope to share my goings on throughout the day (when internet is available) with pictures and prayer requests.

If you are interested in following me on Twitter, I am @pastorKyleHuber. Or you can friend me on Facebook.

I will still blog about the trip a couple times a week, but on the other days you will find more typical Well Rooted articles. The blog readership has grown beyond local followers who know me and are interested in daily reports from Belarus. For newer readers, three weeks of nonstop Belarus gets to be a little tedious.

Another attractive benefit is that not having to finish the journal every night will allow me to be in bed before midnight.

If you want to find out more about SEE Global, which is Greentree’s mission organization to Belarus, go to this link. And if you are interested in a little background about my trips to Belarus go here.

Please follow my trip if you can, your prayers are very important to me and to all that will be happening.

A SONG UNFULFILLED

This week is the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision that made abortion a protected “right”

A Song Unfulfilled

Am I the first of more fresh pink faces

Or will I be the one to fill the last of our places

Will I be brash, running in lead of the pack

Or will my path follow a quiet, reflective track

 

My way might be to please the ear

Sending forth rich flowing sounds, silky and clear

Or color and light may be the wonder I pursue

Capturing shape, shade, line and hue 

 

Will I with dash and quickness move

A lithe figure causing crowds to approve

Will I uncover mysteries that had always been hidden

Bringing forth understanding no longer unbidden

 

What will be heard from me, what will be seen

Whose heart will I capture, in whose eyes will I gleam

How deep shall be the footprints at the end of my course

Will my grey years be a display of joy or remorse

 

Yet it will not be for this world to hear my voice

For the one who carried me, instead made a choice

 

by Kyle Huber 2013

 

MAKING GOD SMILE

How do you feel when one of your children or grandchildren call out your name as they see you and run up with arms wide open?

Now if we are talking about teenage children, well, there is a good chance they are after money, the car, or permission for something you will think is a sketchy idea. However in talking about kids in general, this makes us feel wonderful.

I can still here the cries of “Daddy!” from my preschool children when I would come through the front door after work. They would wrap themselves around my legs, as I tried to make my way to the kitchen to greet Debbie, who was usually there preparing a delicious dinner.

When my daughter, Jillian was around 7 or 8 years old, she would come up next to me after the Sunday morning services. Usually I would be in the midst of a conversation, when suddenly I would feel her little hand slip into my own. She would not say anything; she just wanted to be with me.

These are precious memories. Indeed they fall into the “priceless” category. They also have an instructive value about God who is our Father, and filled with love “that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).

If our hearts which are marred by selfishness feel joy when our children show their love to us; how much more does God’s heart burst with joy, when we run to him, and just want to be with Him.

We can be uncomfortable thinking that God has strong positive emotions toward us. Yet, we know He has strong negative emotions when He judges evil. So in a similar way, God has strong emotions when He delights in our godliness. It is true – we can make God’s heart smile by coming to Him with hearts wide open to know and obey Him.

This perspective helps bring us to spend time with God, when our flesh is trying to convince us how boring and wasteful it will be. Remind yourself of the joy you experience in sharing life with loved ones. Then consider how much more God, who made us in His image, delights in this as well.

Originally posted 10.04.11

ARE YOU WORN DOWN?

t1larg.so.tired

It’s only Monday, but are you tired already? It may be physical fatigue, emotional exhaustion or perhaps an all comprehensive being tired of life.

We get tired, but God doesn’t. What a wonderful reminder as we follow, depend upon, and rest in – Him.

When we just cannot do any more, or we are too mentally fatigued to even try, God is working with the same vibrant and unstoppable power that created the universe AND continuously sustains it!

God has power and strength to provide what we need, and to be what we need. In fact we are not supposed to worry about having enough strength or even try to have enough. That is God’s job.

Our responsibility, which we seem to struggle completing, is to lean on God’s strength instead of our own. The whole concept of resting in God means we are content in Him being all we need rather than trying to fulfill that ourselves. How is that for a new approach to life?

Craig Cooper, from Redeeming Grace Church in Nashville, wrote this article on the Sovereign Grace Blog entitled “God will replenish us”. Read and be encouraged.

 

TALKING TO OURSELVES

Have you ever been caught talking to yourself?  If that has been your problem, you now have an excuse for it, and the reason is even biblical!  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a famous English preacher, made the following statement, which is one of the most practical quotes I have ever heard.

“Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself”.

We get discouraged and beaten down by listening to our inner voice telling us how bad things are and what a miserable failure we have been.  This voice starts early and continues late into the night.  Lloyd-Jones points out that we need to stop listening to ourselves and those discouraging monologues. Instead we need to start talking to ourselves.  What he means is that we need to preach to ourselves the truths of God that contradict our “woe is me” routines.

The topics we need to preach to ourselves are the themes of the gospel:

That God is totally sovereign; that in Christ we are saved completely and forever, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1);  God’s love and His commitment are proven by the cross; Christ has defeated all of our enemies “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31).  If we quiet our heart and put our minds to ponder the gospel, we can come up with many wonderful truths and promises to preach to ourselves!

Every Christian knows the Gospel is the most important message for those who need to be saved.  But do we know the Gospel is the also the most important message for those who are saved!  The Christian life is built upon the gospel and there is never a day in which we do not need to have gospel truths leading our thoughts and actions.The gospel is not something we get past, it is something we delve into ever deeper and live out more consistently. 

But we all need help in becoming more Gospel-centered, because Satan, the World and our flesh are all aggressively and persistently seeking to keep our perspective disconnected from the gospel.

There are a couple books that have recently stood out to me on the subject of the gospel.  Both books are crisply written, quick reads – that are worth reading slowly and repeatedly.

“What is the Gospel” by Greg Gilbert is a outstanding digging into the gospel.  It will give you greater clarity of the gospel.  After reading Gilbert’s book you will have a fuller understanding of the truths that you need to talk about to yourself.

“A Gospel Primer” by Milton Vincent” is a book meant to help us develop the practice of preaching the gospel to ourselves.  I find this book to be of exceptional practical value.

 

As we learn to speak the gospel into our life and against our temptations, anxieties and distractions, we will see our lives revolutionized.  And in this case, the word revolutionized is an understatement.  So feel free to start talking to yourself any time you want!

 


HOW DO YOU DEFINE IT?

A gospel-centered church is a really good thing, right?

How would you define a gospel-centered church? At one time I would have given a partially true answer, which is a church that keeps the gospel message clear and out in front.

That certainly must be true of a gospel-centered church, but it is not enough. We must not only be clear and aggressive in proclaiming the gospel to the world, we must also be clear and aggressive in applying gospel truths to our own lives.

A gospel-centered church has people who live out the gospel at home and at work

A gospel-centered church has members who apply the gospel to their tensions with one another

A gospel-centered church is filled with people who bring the realities of the gospel to their fears and failures

At Greentree we strive to be a gospel-centered church by the way we approach each other and every aspect of church life.

The big question for each of us is whether or not we are gospel-centered people. For most of us, sometimes we are and sometimes we’re not. If we want to improve in how the gospel shapes our life we need three things:

1.  Clarity about the gospel itself.  For this I recommend Greg Gilbert’s excellent book “What is the Gospel”

2.  A growing grasp of how the gospel applies to life. My recommendation here is this little helpful book by Milton Vincent, “A Gospel Primer for Christians”

3.  A prayerful commitment to take steps on what we learn. Since we all struggle to stay gospel-centered, be in a small group with other gospel-centered people

One of my new favorite preachers and writers is Ray Ortlund, who wrote this article on the subject of gospel-centered churches for his blog on the Gospel Coalition website