Your Questions from The Foursquare Church

  • When Bosses Are Bad
    Q. I know the Bible teaches we are to respect those in authority over us, but my boss is one of the most difficult people I have ever met. She is dictatorial and sometimes even verbally abusive. The stress is filtering into my home life. Where do I draw the line between being submissive and confronting what I see as unacceptable behavior? -C.P., Omaha, Neb.   A. Perhaps you need to start working for a new boss. At first glance, that may sound as though I'm saying quit and get a new job. Actually, I'm underscoring the words of Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (NKJV). Whatever actions you take should ultimately be framed by the truth that no matter where you might be employed, ultimately your "boss" is the Lord. You are not likely to change your boss, but you do have the opportunity, despite her glaring inadequacy, to rediscover the boundaries in your own life worth preserving. Start by discovering the growth lessons God is working in you—lessons such as the fact that taking work home isn't working; or thinking because we are people of faith we leave our humanity at the door; or mistaking our call to being submitted to authority as tantamount to welcoming emotional abuse. Understanding this is more than a theological nicety; it keeps you from playing the role of a victim and perpetuating the dysfunctional nature of relationships in the workplace. Reality for you, in dealing with a difficult boss, may be to start planning your exit strategy. Knowing you aren't going to be there for long can, in fact, be very liberating. It can release a lot of built-up emotional pressure, reframe your day-to-day attitudes and even possibly provide you with needed perspective to see solutions you were simply missing. As a person of faith, you should hold out for the hope of something redemptive taking place between you and your boss. As you do, remember everyone complains about the boss, and almost any great boss is only great in retrospect. The lessons God is helping us to learn usually only happen after the pain finally subsides. Ultimately, what will remain is the wisdom you will gain from a difficult situation—and that God is the best boss to work for. By: Dennis Easter, district supervisor of Foursquare's Pacific Coast and Valleys District
  • My Friend Is Off-Track
    Q. I have a friend who knows the Lord but is not living according to biblical standards. Without coming across as legalistically "holier than thou," what can I say or do? Or is it best to mind my own business? –P.C., Orlando, Fla. A. The truth is, the "business" of friendship is not only about encouragement and comfort, but also about urging others to "live lives worthy of God" (1 Thess. 2:12, NIV). When Paul wrote those words to an emerging leader, he was providing him with a model of how to truly care for people who are being less than who God says they are. Biblical standards were never meant for bludgeoning others into submission, but rather to point out the boundaries that define the extent of God's intention for their lives. As a friend, you no doubt have already provided the groundwork for the urging he currently needs through repeated acts of encouragement and comfort. When you encouraged your friend, you were reminding him, "Yes you can!" even when he felt he couldn't. When you comforted him, you were reminding him, "Yes you will!" even when he wasn't sure he would get beyond his current challenge. Now it is time, as a friend, to provide the urging and to prove that "wounds from a friend can be trusted" (Prov. 27:6). Why? Because someone needs to let him know that "Yes he must!" As bluntly put by one author, he must go through deep personal change or slow death ... there is no alternative. Your friendship is an invitation for him to live—truly live. Besides, just think of all the promises and prodding in God's Word that would go silent if the only response to friends facing failure was our silence. Here's one that is particularly poignant for you to remember: "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (Ecc. 4:10). Go to your friend, not as a judge, but as a friend—someone who is there to help him finish well. Thank God your friend has a friend in you. By: Dennis Easter, district supervisor of the Pacific Coast and Valleys District
  • How Do I Monitor My Teen’s Online Life?
    Q. My teenagers spend a lot of time texting their friends, posting comments to Facebook and uploading photos to Flickr. I keep hearing about kids who send inappropriate texts to one another or post suggestive photos on Facebook. I’m so scared my kids are going to get caught up in some bad things, and I won’t even know about it, because it is easy to hide a phone or a social network application. As a Christian parent, what’s the balance of trusting my children while protecting them while they are on the Internet? A. This question is very timely and relevant to the emerging generation. They have been labeled the Connection Generation or the Now Generation because of their accessibility to instantaneous information via smart phones, tablets and social networks on the Internet. There is an assumption that this generation owns technology. Because of that perception, young people feel a great sense of entitlement toward anything technological. In addition, students feel a real pressure from friends to have the latest gadget. This can cause parents to feel the need to provide their children with the newest “thing” in order to fit in. Here are a few suggestions to help navigate the sea of social technology. Set stages. When my two daughters were infants, they ate baby food that came in little jars. The food was packaged and labeled in “stages” for the purpose of providing the baby with the appropriate food at the proper stage of development. A baby should not try to eat a steak at 4 months. (I learned this the hard way.) In the same way, parents should have a plan that allows the introduction of technology at the appropriate age and in stages. Prayerfully consider this for each child; every parent knows they develop at different stages.   Set standards. Don’t allow the tide of cultural pressure to sway you from what God wants to accomplish in your family. The Bible never endorses keeping up with the Joneses. As a matter of fact, Romans 12:2 says that we are not to be conformed to the world’s standards. We are responsible to set the standards for what we allow to come into our homes and families.   Set boundaries. Remember, technology is not a right—it is a privilege. When we help our kids to view it this way, then we as parents can determine how that privilege is earned or potentially lost. As parent, you extend that privilege, which means you should have access to all the emails, texts and social network updates. This is your right as the parent.   Set guidelines. Don’t just blindly hand over the latest iPod or cell phone to your child. Establish times and restrictions for proper use. Be clear and consistent on when and where these gadgets are to be appropriately used. You should be the first friend your child has on Facebook. You should follow your child’s tweets on Twitter. As parents, we have the responsibility to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6, NKJV). Because most of this generation is going to the Internet, we need to be involved with their journey and not simply let them go. If we are not involved, we won’t like where they will end up. Let’s help them successfully pilot through the sea of social technology. By: Kelly Fellows, an ordained Foursquare minister and former national NextGen representative for The Foursquare Church
  • Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?
    Q. It seems there are so many terrible things going on today—natural disasters; little kids being trafficked, even here in the U.S.; dads shooting moms; teens getting hooked on drugs by their own so-called friends. Why does God let bad things happen? Does He still care about us?A. The grief you express about the condition of the world is exactly like what God feels. Evil has invaded His creation with loss, destruction and death. How has this happened? You shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you our race is responsible. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s instructions for living, they opened the door and let in all sorts of terrible “insects.” Evil got inside! And evil continues to plague our world, because people keep the door open to it. Unfortunately, our culture has an incomplete understanding of the specific forces in the world that are dead-set against God’s life-filled purposes. The Bible describes four categories of death-dealing evil, and a quick review of them may help explain why terrible things keep happening on this planet. The World: Like a driver who refused to follow directions, the world is on the wrong course. It is heading where God never intended it to go, so “wrong” is where things usually end up. People suffer and die and do terrible things because the whole planet is surrounded with a diseased atmosphere. Long ago, mankind failed as stewards of this planet and gave it into the hands of the devil (see Gen. 3). The world was kidnapped into futility (see Rom. 8:20). It fell under the cruel influence of Satan (see 1John 5:19), and it now sabotages life with disease, violence and emptiness. The Flesh: Everyone has appetites. We want air and food. If those appetites are not satisfied, they can become all-consuming. When we’re really “starved” for food, we eat almost anything! On the spiritual side of things, we also have appetites. Collectively, they are called the flesh, and our flesh craves and lusts after satisfaction, regardless of consequences. People do many terrible things to keep their flesh happy. Like a spoiled 9-year-old child, the flesh likes to be in charge. To get what it wants, or to show its displeasure when it doesn’t get its way, it generates problems such as jealousy, anger, envy, addiction and quarrels (see Gal. 5:19-21). The Force of Sin: Our ancestors knew no evil until they ate the forbidden fruit (see Gen. 3:7), but the moment they disobeyed, our world was invaded by an invisible power. It bent human hearts toward evil. It was like a malignant infection spreading death and misery everywhere. God warned that it would seize every opportunity to ambush us with evil desire (see Gen. 4:7). I call it the sin-force. Sin is more than just an individual act or thought; it is also a power at work in our world. It acts like a giant spider, catching our thoughts and feelings in deceitful webs to drain us of the good life God wants for us. The Evil-Spirited: Though our Western culture scoffs at the existence of a spiritual dimension, we know the unseen world is real. The “spiritual forces of wickedness” in the heavenlies create staggering amounts of ruin and wrongness in life (see 2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:12). Just myriad angels are sent by the Lord to minister to us (see Heb. 1:14), so a smaller number of evil-spirited beings afflict people with unexplainable mental torment and heartache. Like traces of toxic chemicals seeping from a waste site, causing deformity, disease and death, the evil-spirited weave their way into the human psyche and the human condition. God’s longing for people to be saved for eternity is stronger than His grief about the condition of our world right now. If He eliminated all evil, He would need to erase all life like He did in the flood. So He chooses to be patient with the evil condition of our race in order to rescue more of us for heaven. By: Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D., founding pastor of The Coastlands (Aptos Foursquare Church) in Aptos, Calif., and Commended to The Word (CTW), a ministry through which he develops resources to mentor believers in spiritual leadership.
  • Broke and Scared: Is God Ever Going to Show Up for Me?
    Q: This year has been intensely hard, with me not having a steady income due to the economy. I am so worn out on waiting for God’s plan. Where is He?A: Allow me to address your concerns about God’s presence and faithfulness, and the struggle with discouragement. First of all, circumstances are never a reliable indicator of the presence of God. Second, it is natural to ask, “Where is God?” when there seems, from our point of view, to be no action by the Lord on our behalf. The book of Psalms is filled with questions like that one. In fact, the Psalms are all about people being honest with God regarding how they feel and yet clinging to trust, and choosing to praise Him, even without circumstances being changed. I think about David, whom Samuel had anointed king at God’s instruction, spending years running from the homicidally jealous Saul and working through the same questions you are asking. In 1 Samuel 30, when the Amalekites raided Ziklag while David and his men were gone and took everything and everyone, David and his men were really upset—but the people blamed David for what had happened. David could have just walked away or blamed someone else. Instead, we are told that he “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (v. 6, NKJV). Next, he took time to inquire of the Lord. Then he set off to obey God, and God gave him the victory. The enemy of our souls wants us to be discouraged and quit or to take things into our own hands. Yet I find comfort in David’s process that we see here and in many Psalms. His story serves as a great example of how we can best handle times of questioning. As David did, take your emotions and questions directly to the Lord in openness and honesty (see v. 4). Be real with Him; yet process those emotions through His revealed character (Ps. 37-43; 142-143). Ask the Lord to search you and see if there is anything in you that needs to be repented of and surrendered to Him, and then do so (Ps. 139:23-24). Adverse circumstances are not necessarily the result of personal sin, but it is wise to cover our bases and remove anything that might hinder us from receiving God’s blessing. Strengthen and encourage yourself in the Lord by focusing on His character and promises. Great strength comes from trusting that God knows how all the pieces of our lives will fit together in such a way that He will be glorified and we will be ultimately fulfilled. Sometimes the victory we win is not measured by forward progress, but by simply not quitting (2 Sam. 23:9-12). By the way, the verse in Philippians that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13) is written specifically in the context of Paul’s financial need! Inquire of the Lord and then do what He says with boldness and courage (1 Sam. 30:8), trusting that He will bring the victory—at just the right time. It is true that God’s timing often does not match up with our timetable, and yet who is in a better position to see the big picture? Sometimes it helps to get godly council along the way to make sure we are hearing form the Lord correctly (vv. 7-8). Finally, I would caution you that our human senses are not dependable in determining God’s presence, and our human reasoning is not sufficient at times to make sense of God’s timing. David’s whole ordeal took years before he became king of all Israel in fulfillment to the anointing he had received. Did he have questions? Absolutely! Did he trust God? Absolutely! Do you need to walk through this on your own? Absolutely not! May you experience the presence and love of God today and be encouraged to live it for Him! Greg Dueker is an ordained Foursquare minister and member of Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Ore. This “Your Questions” is adapted from an article by Greg that appears on “Bible Answers From Beaverton Foursquare,”  a church blog to which Greg regularly contributes.
  • What Does It Mean to Be Missional?
    Q. I hear the word “missional” thrown around a lot today. Is “being missional” just a new buzzword or trend? Or is it something more? What does it mean to “be missional”? A. “Being missional” is often viewed as just another phase or program. But being missional is more than just another movement—it is a full expression of who the church is and what it is called to be and do. The missional church is a collection of believers acting in concert to fulfill God’s mission. Missional people are discovering and exploring what it means to be Jesus’ sent people. The missional church views its members as already placed by God in their families, friendships, jobs, schools and neighborhoods. Missional people are concerned with being prepared to fully engage the nature of God’s placement so that they can fully seize every opportunity. Being missional often requires a change in the way we think about the church. The term “church” refers to the people of God; the called-out ones; those formed for His dwelling; the bearers of His presence in the world. We’re not referring to a building, denomination or physical location. When you hear the word “church,” think of yourself and your faith community, not that building you go to each Sunday. Jesus told us to go into all the world, but many churches today seem to have changed the “go and be” command to a “come and see” appeal. We have grown attached to buildings, programs, staff and a wide variety of goods and services designed to attract and entertain people. “Missional” is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace the “come to us” invitations with a “go to them” life—a life where the way we as individuals relate to others involves bringing the church to them, freed from an agenda that seeks to remove people from their surroundings so we can bring them into our buildings. This new way of relating to those outside the church requires us to be wholly focused on sacrificially living for God and others, and adopting a missionary stance in relation to our culture. As church leaders, we need to ask ourselves some questions regarding our own ministry contexts: To what extent is our church a “sent” community in which each believer is reaching out to his or her community? To what extent is our church impacting the community with a Christian message that challenges the values of our secular society? And to what extent is our church seeking to prepare our people to effectively care for others in their families, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces? Answering these questions honestly can help us become more in tune with the Great Commission—and our role in fulfilling it. By: Rod Koop, national facilitator of Church Health and Multiplication for The Foursquare Church
  • How Can I Safeguard My Teen’s Music Choices?
      Q. It’s so easy to download music—I have lost track of what my kids are listening to! How can I take back the control of what’s on their iPods without them rebelling against my musical standards? A. As parents, one of our God-given responsibilities is to be the “gatekeepers” for our kids and homes. The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and an effective weapon he is using to attack this generation specifically is media. This generation has grown up in the information age, which means they have access to anything and everything through the Internet. At the click of a button on their computers, and now on their phones, they can listen to or watch whatever the world has put on display in the privacy of their own rooms. This is more than a parental challenge—it is an epidemic that threatens the purity of a generation. We must fight back, not from the pulpits of a church but in homes across America. Before we talk about how to regulate music, I think we need to clarify why it is so important to help our kids make good music choices. Sometimes simply reviewing the importance of something can give us that extra determination to find a way to make it happen. Music is powerful, and the Bible illustrates this point well: “And so it was, whenever the spirit … was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him” (1 Sam. 16:23, NKJV). This verse demonstrates the power of a melody, and how God has created music to move us and evoke emotions in us. Then, when you add the power of our words into the emotional mix, a song becomes a catalyst to unlock a part of our souls in a way few other things can. Given this reality, it is no surprise that Satan, who was the worship leader in heaven before he was cast out, knows how to use music toward malevolent ends. When it comes to regulating music, unfortunately there is no quick fix, rule or boundary that will solve this without open and honest communication. Because of the Internet, if kids want something badly enough, they can get it. That is why it is so important that we understand why and how music affects us, and create a culture of honesty and openness in our relationships. Boundaries and standards are critical, but without relationship they are lifeless and can bring rebellion. One of parents’ biggest misperceptions is that they can’t regulate what their kids listen to and watch. While it has become more difficult than ever before, it can—and must—be done through boundaries, communication and relationship. By: Shane Rogers, pastor of student ministries at The Church of Living Water (Olympia Foursquare Church) in Olympia, Wash.
  • To Game or not to Game?
      Q. Our family bought a gaming system so we could have family game time together. But now it seems like my kids are playing violent games by themselves, and the family isn’t coming together like I thought they would. I’m not sure if the games my kids borrow from their friends should even be in our home. Should I get rid of the console all together? A. Two specific things come to mind when answering your question: vision and leadership. Addressing each of these topics in your heart should lead you personally to the right answer for your family. To answer your specific question, begin by asking yourself these two questions: What is the vision the Lord has given me for my family? How do I best lead my family toward that vision? Luke 6:47-48 gives us the best advice for the discovery of vision for building a good, solid house: “ ‘Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock’ ” (NKJV, emphasis added). Come to the Father, hear His sayings, and do them. At the end of the day, how do you see your family? I determined when I was a young parent that the goal “I heard” for my family was actually rather simple. I was determined to raise children who would be worshipers of the Lord. This made my life simple. I dreamed of many things for my children: that they would get good educations, be good citizens and have good marriages. All of these came together for me when I heard the Lord say to focus on raising worshipers of the Lord. As I walked this out, I discovered that worshipers of the Lord who are truly committed to Christ come to the Father, hear His sayings, and do them. I knew then that if I made His priority my priority of leadership, my children would have the best chance at getting the right education, becoming good citizens and having good marriages, because they would be hearing their instruction from the Lord. Once you establish the vision the Lord has given you for your family, then leading the family in this becomes your responsibility. The question of the gaming machine may easily be answered if you can see the vision the Lord has given you for your family, and even the vision He gave you for the machine itself. It appears that the gaming machine was purchased with a goal in mind that is part of a bigger picture. You placed value in family time that would produce a certain end result. It now appears that the very resource you intended to bring that certain result is working against your goals. Leadership can be lonely, because those you lead may not see the vision. I suggest that you connect with the Lord as to the overall vision for your family. It appears the Lord is saying something to you already. Putting all of this into practical and tangible answers is actually very simple. I might guess from the way your question is worded that you indeed had a vision of something greater than the result that may occur if you do not intervene with the gaming machine. Every Christian parent is a Christian leader. As a Christian leader, you need to be willing to make adjustments to make sure the vision the Lord gave you is accomplished. Practically speaking to your situation, this could be accomplished through setting boundaries and being creative. First, create boundaries that invite relationship. For example, consider a boundary that requires all games to be approved by you before being used on the machine. Make boundaries that you are willing to implement. If you are not willing to take the machine away, do not fall into the trap of saying something you will not do. The end result of a leader who threatens and repeats those threats without action is more disastrous than one can imagine. Second, get creative about making this resource work the way you saw it when you asked the Lord about it. If the vision included family time, consider making sure this actually occurs so that your family can enjoy moments of laughter and fun in healthy competition. By: Marion Ingegneri, senior pastor of Grace North Church (Anthem Foursquare Church) in Phoenix  
  • All I Want for Christmas Is My Sanity
    Q: Let’s face it—the holidays are crazy. How do I keep my head above water and not go insane celebrating the birth of Jesus? A: Ah, yes, the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s … These can be crazy and overwhelming times, especially in light of growing consumerism, tight schedules and family pressures. Stores start setting up Christmas displays in October. My local coffee shop had red cups and ornaments up in the middle of November. Christian radio stations are now spinning Christmas tunes well before Thanksgiving. And don’t even get me started about fruitcake. As a Christian, it’s important to remember that Christmas is about Jesus. This seems simplistic enough, but nothing could be more vital to our sanity. Christmas is not primarily about parties, gift exchanges, family gatherings or church services. It’s about Jesus. He is to be the focal point of our celebration. When we keep Jesus at the center, it serves to filter and/or refocus our priorities. Imagine raising our children with the understanding that the holidays are about Jesus rather than the accumulation of things. Do your bank accounts or credit cards need to be reminded of this as well? Nothing says “Happy New Year” like huge credit-card bills! May I recommend a few other simple thoughts to help you tread water during the holidays? Be realistic. You and your family can’t do everything. Develop realistic plans regarding the amount of parties, gifts and gatherings you can pull off. Establish traditions. Years ago, my wife and I started a few traditions during the holidays. Now, with four children, we’ve added more kid-friendly, family traditions. These serve as anchors during a busy season and draw our hearts together.  Slow down. My brother, Pastor Joseph Fehlen, says this: “The Prince of Peace came, not the Prince of Chaos.” Slow down. Be still and know that He is God. Have fun. Go ahead and laugh, smile, sing and play. Rather than being consumed with pressure and guilt, allow your heart to enjoy the season in which God gave His Son. By: John Fehlen, senior pastor of West Salem Foursquare Church in Oregon
  • Why Is My Past Still Haunting Me?
    Q. Before I became a Christian, I was involved in some pretty bad stuff. I left all that behind and have given my life to Jesus 100 percent. However, I still seem to be reaping the repercussions of my pre-Christian lifestyle. This wasn’t what I expected. Isn’t God big enough to relieve me of this junk? A. Recently, I walked up to the front door of my local coffee shop. The sun was shining brightly, revealing smears on the newly cleaned windows and door. A well-meaning but rushed employee must have washed them, not realizing a residue had remained. Light has a way of revealing this kind of stuff. This is a rough parallel to our lives as we come to salvation in Jesus Christ. He cleans up our lives, but there is often junk left from our past lifestyles of sin. This does not mean Jesus is somehow an incompetent cleaner! On the contrary, He is quite willing and able to heal, forgive, cleanse and restore. But there is a biblical law that cannot be overlooked—the law of sowing and reaping. In the New Testament, Galatians 6:7-8 reads: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (NKJV). This passage affirms that there are repercussions to our sin. Often those repercussions are felt in a later season, even after becoming a Christian. However, the passage goes on to say: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (v. 9). That's my encouragement to you: Don't give up! Keep sowing good seed, and watch what God will do in your life into the future. By: John Fehlen, senior pastor of West Salem Foursquare Church in Oregon
  • How Do I Know Where to Give?
    Q. Every time I turn around, people are asking my church to support their causes financially. They seem like good causes―helping kids, helping animals or helping those impacted by disasters. But how do I know where God wants us to give? How do I know which organizations or causes to support? A. In our present time, there are so many causes and ministries that compete for the resources of the local church. They all seem to be worth investing in, and for the most part appear to be very noble causes. They usually come with great visual and audio presentations that appeal to the very core of our human emotions. Nevertheless, the question still remains: With which organizations and people should we partner when contributing the Lord’s resources that He has deposited into our hands through the local church? Because it is His church, we must invest in the things He would invest in, and in the manner He would invest. We must invest in the revealed mission of the church as a whole (the Great Commission) and in its expression in the local church (His revealed vision to the local church leader). Knowing what is important to Him and grabbing hold of His vision for the local church, then we must invest according to the values of His revealed will for the local church. Values dictate what is important and are the base from which beliefs are derived. We act according to our beliefs, so when it comes to giving, the following guidelines should be kept in mind.   We must proceed according to biblical values: Is the cause or project in alignment with the Great Commission? Many Christian organizations are spending their efforts on causes and projects that are far from biblical values. Does the project leader have a good testimony with the local body and its leaders? (Acts 16:2, NKJV: “He was well spoken of by the bretheren who were at Lystra and Iconium.”) Does the project leader have a proven track record? (1 Tim. 3:6 instructs that he should not be a novice, “lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”) We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and not lean on our own understanding. It is the Spirit of God who guides us to all truth and reveals to us the will of the Father. It is critical for us to get: His confirmation that the project leader is the one chosen by Him for the task. Many wonderful projects don’t produce the fruit intended, because organizations commission the wrong person for the task at hand. It is the responsibility of the local church leadership to seek and hear the Holy Spirit’s guidance on this matter. (Acts. 13:2: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ ”) His confirmation that this is the direction He wants to go and spend our human and financial resources. (See Acts 16:6, 10) Our daily prayer should be: “Holy Spirit, guide me in the decisions we are about to make, that they further the spread of your kingdom and help us to fulfill your vision for our local church.” By: Raymundo N. Diaz, senior pastor of Angelus Temple Hispanic Foursquare Church
  • Christian vs. Mainstream
    Q. I have a friend who listens only to Christian music, reads only Christian books, and watches only Christian entertainment. I, on the other hand, regularly enjoy mainstream music, books and entertainment (in addition to Christian choices). She thinks that is "worldly." I feel no guilt (unless I'm with her). Who's right? -J.C., Denver A. Deciding who's right may not be the best way to answer your underlying question. You want to know if your broader choice for entertainment is OK, even if your friend feels it isn't a wise choice for her. Romans 14 explains that each of you, if "fully convinced" before the Lord about your choice, stands before Him—not one another. Neither of you should "judge the servant of another" (i.e., Jesus). When Scripture offers us no clear-cut guidelines for our behavior or attitudes, we have liberty to partake (or not). Paul said some people felt it was OK to eat meat offered in pagan temples. Others might have called that "worldly" and refused to eat it (see 1 Cor. 10:23-33). If your heart doesn't question what you're doing, you can have confidence before the Lord (see 1 John 3:21). Personally, I am far more drawn to baroque music than Christian worship CDs; my wife feels exactly the opposite. If Paul were writing you, he would say, "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking and book reading or movie watching ..." The kingdom offers deeper counsel. Let me present three biblical thoughts, or questions, to consider. First, when others follow your entertainment patterns, does your freedom lead them into temptations they cannot handle? Second, do you consider yourself spiritually stronger than your friend—in a prideful way? If yes to either of those questions, be careful. Lastly, does your entertainment affect how close you feel to Jesus? If He recedes from the center point in your heart, or if your mind starts going places it shouldn't after mainstreaming, I'd stop what you're doing. The Bible advises us to think on pure and honorable (wholesome) things (see Phil. 4:8). Mainstream lyrics, movie scenes and storylines are filled with many not-so-good suggestions. If you find yourself toying with those images, it's time to stop their source. == Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D., is founding pastor of The Coastlands, a Foursquare church in Aptos, Calif. Author of numerous resources including articles and books, he concentrates most of his ministry activity on training local church leaders throughout the world. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • A Weak Mind?
    Q. A friend of mine recently asked if I believe in God. I said yes and asked him the same question. He said he had studied too much and read too many books to believe in God, and that a person needing to believe in a Higher Power is a sign of a weak mind. What is the best way to respond to this? -J.C., Omaha, Neb. A. First of all, determine to love your friend and do not try to debate, using your mind to lock horns with him. People who have "intellectual" arguments against the Lord will rarely be won over with counter-arguments. I would begin by telling your friend how happy you are that he feels so settled and confident about life—now and after this life. Don't be sarcastic, but be genuinely pleased for him. Agree that many people are, indeed, tortured by insecurities and weaknesses. Next, I would ask him to be a bit more specific. Ask him to identify your particular weakness of mind: "We're friends; you can tell me. What mental feebleness do you think I have that urges me to believe in Jesus?" That will make the discussion less generic, and eventually allow you to share your personal experience. However persuasive his "books" have been, your stories about God's work in your life will be much more convincing. You do not need to debate. Your experience trumps his reading. That leads me to my last suggestion: Pretend he is already a follower of Jesus, and talk to him exactly as you would if he believed as you do. Instead of trying to convince him to believe, simply share what God shows you, does for you and says to you. Your individual experience with a loving God will blow your friend's mind. Don't worry about "offending" him by sharing. The reason people get offended is because we're usually trying to tell them what to believe—instead of testifying about our experiences. God's "nearness" to us gets the attention of those around us. Above all else, convincingly love your friend—without a trace of judgment. Talk about Jesus as though He is a fabulously helpful friend your friend simply hasn't yet met. == Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D., is founding pastor of The Coastlands, a Foursquare church in Aptos, Calif. Author of numerous resources including articles and books, he concentrates most of his ministry activity on training local church leaders throughout the world. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • Busying Myself to Death
    Q. Our family has become so busy—between work, school, church and myriad activities—that all the joy of the stuff that should be bringing me joy doesn't feel joyful at all! I'm on the edge of burnout. What can I do? A. It sounds like your life verse may be, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13, NKJV). Of course, you are quickly discovering that life has limits. You can't go months without eating, weeks without sleeping or many days without drinking. The "all things" you are meant to do are not everything that comes your way. They are all the things God has designed you for, and called you to. Period. When you indicate you're nearing burnout, you are telling me you've moved beyond the limits you were meant to bear and have taken on an overloaded life. No doubt you didn't see it sneaking up on you. One day you were exhilarated with your action list, and the next day you could barely get out of bed. When this happens, don't blame your job, your kids or your church. Put the blame where it should be: on overload. Your car—much less your life—can't keep running on empty. Let me offer three recommendations. First, honor the Sabbath. This is where you do more than rest your body; you rest your heart (emotions). God didn't rest because He was tired; He rested to enjoy what He had created. Second, focus on your strengths, doing what you are good at. Burnout rarely occurs when you are doing what God designed you to do. Finally, remember how easy it is to succumb to fulfilling the expectations of others. The old saying, "God loves you, but everyone else has a wonderful plan for your life," is painfully true. Learning to say no to good things (even Jesus didn’t heal everyone), makes room for the possibility of saying yes to the great things God has in mind for you.   Answered by: Dennis W. Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church in Oregon. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • Mired in Purpose
    Q. In recent years many books, by various authors, have been published on the subject of finding your purpose in life. I've read a few of them, and guess what—I still don't know what my purpose is. I've talked with friends of mine, and we all feel frustrated. The "steps" don't work for us. Is something wrong with us? Why can't we find our purpose? —W.R., Boston A. This past week at a party I attended, one of our guests was having trouble finding the home where we were meeting in spite of the high-end Global Positioning System (GPS) that was installed in his new car. Finally, he called for help. I jumped in my car and within a couple of blocks found and guided him to the destination. The truth is that many of us want a GPS system for our lives. I've worked with too many people not to appreciate the commitment by authors and coaches in the area of personal life development. Yet for all of my positive experience, your question underscores for me a fundamental suspicion I have on how readily we reduce the mystery of personal formation to a technique to be mastered or a formula to be worked out—as though life can be reduced to a pithy acronym or a seven-step process that, like late-night infomercials, guarantees you a life of wealth and happiness. To start with, the future God has for you is secured in Him before it is secured by you. The objective is not a preferred dream that we work to fulfill or a well-considered legacy we need to leave behind, but the embracing of a lifelong process of living our lives out in full dependence on Him. Why? Because the former, however sincere and noble, still ultimately ends up being a manufactured life. The latter is the only way one can guarantee God's ultimate purpose being realized in us. And just what is that? Romans 8:29 says it best: "For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son" (NIV). Beyond your greatest kingdom contribution remains your ultimate purpose to become like Christ. While much of what has been written may aid you in that process, it is best to remember that the greatest work God will ever do through your life is the work God is doing in your life. And that, my friend, is a purpose worth pursuing. == Answered by: Dennis W. Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church in Oregon. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • Will God Forgive Me?
    Q. Can you ever blow it so bad that God cannot—or will not—forgive you? -F.D., San Antonio A. If you are like me, you certainly feel, at times, as though you have blown it that bad. It could have been anguish over a repeated failure, where you suspect the cumulative effect of your sin has worn God out. Or it could have been a failure so monstrous that its impact on others has a long-term and far-reaching impact. At some point, we feel our sin renders grace impotent, or that at least God has become indifferent to deal with us any longer. Of course, such thinking comes from how sin really does impact us personally. Disoriented by our sin and failure, we evaluate the possibility of forgiveness by how we would respond if we were God. The truth is that God's love is so unfathomable, and His grace so relentless, that any sinful heart turned toward Him will always be met with His power and commitment to forgive and make new. Look at what the psalmist wrote: "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered ... whose sin the Lord does not count against him" (Psalm 32:1-2, NIV). Your sins (those instances where you've missed the mark) and your transgressions (those times when you've violated what you know to be right) are seeking to derail your life. But revel in the incredible provision of God's love to not keep score of your failure but to forgive and cover you. And as you do, you might also recall the words of the wonderful old hymn by Annie J. Flint, "He Giveth More Grace": "His grace has no limits / His love has no measure / His power has no boundaries known unto man / For out of His infinite riches in Jesus / He giveth, and giveth and giveth again." Come to Jesus in confidence that He can—and longs to—extend forgiveness and freedom to you. == Answered by: Dennis W. Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church in Oregon. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • How Do I Resolve a Dispute?
    Q. How do I resolve a dispute with a fellow believer when this person simply refuses to talk about it? I want to find peace and do the right thing in my own heart, but this loose end is causing a lot of inner turmoil.  –A.S., Oakland, Calif. A. When you get the silent treatment from another person, this individual is speaking loud and clear that he either doesn't want anything to do with you; that he himself doesn't want to experience any more pain regarding the situation; or that he is simply wanting you to be miserable—if that's the case, this person seems to be succeeding. What can you do? First, don't take responsibility for the other person's inability to come to terms with the conflict. Do what you can, but ultimately you have to let God work on others in ways He knows will aid them to respond. The Scripture invites us to trust God to change those we cannot. Listen to the apostle Paul's advice: "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:24-25, NIV). As uncomfortable as this situation may make you feel, the only person you have any real influence over is yourself. By manifesting a Christlike attitude, we remove one more obstacle for people to be reconciled with us. Question: Do you have a trusted friend, a pastor ... someone who can function with godly discernment and authentic objectivity? If so, you might find that inviting him or her into the mix may help in building a bridge between you and the other person. But no matter what, choose to always be committed to love the other person. It is the only approach that will guarantee you any measure of peace and this situation any possibility of resolution. == Answered by: Dennis W. Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church in Oregon. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • Help, I’m Scared to Death!
    Q. Terrorists, gas prices and layoffs, oh my! I am dealing with so much fear in my life, and I can't seem to break free. Everywhere I turn, I am reminded of how scary this world is. Besides living in some underground bunker, what can I do to deal with my fear?  —R.A., Minneapolis A. Your question brings back to memory an old saying: "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened." You are not alone in your fears; we live in a culture of fear. For example, even though people now are living healthier and longer than those in past generations, no human beings have ever been more worried about their health. Even the inclusion of terrorists in your question underscores this because the No. 1 weapon of terrorists is not planes flying into towers or backpacks filled with explosives. The No. 1 weapon of terrorists is fear. So it comes as no surprise that living with fear in our day is a very real issue for many. The good news is that God is way ahead of us on this entire issue. Did you know that the most often repeated command in Scripture is some form of "Fear not," "Do not fear" or "Don't be afraid"? This command is repeated to almost every biblical character you admire. Fear is universal and pervasive, and it requires an answer bigger than any bunker you can construct. That bigger-than-life answer comes in the form of a promise: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear" (Psalm 46:1-2). This is realism. Trouble will happen; you can't escape it. But fear doesn't have to be your only response. Instead, you can find your confidence to deal with anything because of His promise to be everything you'll ever need. While this promise won't make you immune to the kinds of challenges that much of the world faces on a daily basis, it does give you a resource that will make a world of difference in your life today. == Answered by: Dennis W. Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church in Oregon. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.
  • Why Aren’t I Interested in Going on Missions Trips?
    Q. Our church regularly organizes missions trips—and I am 100 percent supportive of this. However, sometimes I feel pressured to go, even though I don't feel it's my thing. I feel guilty when I say no, like I'm not doing what a good Christian should do. Is something wrong with me? It's not like I'm unconcerned about the lost. I do pray and give toward outreach works, and am involved with people in my own community who have not (yet) given their lives to Christ.  —B.F., Shreveport, La. A. Obviously, I do not know the particulars of your church or your life. Your questions are normal and valid, so you do not need to feel guilty about having them. I would suggest you approach your pastor and ask for help in understanding your place, right now, in the missions thrust of your church. Include these ideas in your conversation: Agree that missions is a fantastic emphasis for any church. Express thankfulness that your church is making it possible and fairly easy for everyone to "go," at least for short periods. Ask for help in discerning why your heart doesn't get excited about going on a missions team. The human soul resists being pressured. Maybe those talking about missions have become a bit overzealous, stressing the fact that missions is a "good thing" everyone ought to do. Even though I know a missions team will be one of the most exciting and transformational experiences in your Christian life, I want to communicate the opportunity as a blessing, not an obligation—something offered for you, not something expected of you. God has a timing for things in our lives. Perhaps that's why you haven't caught the missions-team vision. I know many people who "suddenly" wanted to go on a team, but that was after several years when the whole idea of going to another country either scared or bored them. You might be surprised a couple years from now. If and when the Lord asks you to do something, He draws you with hope, promise and expectation, not with feelings of guilt and despair. Consider asking your pastor, though, for any insight about you as a person: "Am I having an attitude problem? Has some nastiness or callousness about the world wormed its way into my heart?" == Answered by: Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D., founding pastor of The Coastlands, a Foursquare church in Aptos, Calif. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions."
  • How Do I Improve My Prayer Life?
    Q. Do you have any suggestions for improving one's prayer life? To be honest, I feel as though mine isn't very exciting, and that my prayers don't pack that much power. —B.W., Glendale, Ariz. A. Your question reminded me of a fast-food commercial in which the predictable nature of what everyone would eat for lunch was cast in the mantra of "same time, same place, same thing." When our prayer life turns pedestrian in its nature, it is often an indication we have moved from being engaged in God's kingdom purposes to embracing a consumer mentality. One of the surest ways of moving into an engaged (yes, exciting) life of prayer is to view this spiritual discipline as a primary means of advancing God's holy purpose. James 5:16 says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (NKJV). While the appropriate focus is on our position in Christ (righteous), I think it is wise to appreciate the issue of fervency. In other words, prayer that extends the boundaries of God's intentions, invades the impossible of human circumstances or lays claim to "His kingdom come," is prayer that is certainly other than passive. You'll find that kind of praying when people face God-sized problems that require more than well-wishing or preferred outcomes. So, if your prayer life has lost its excitement, then hold on, because life will eventually come at you in such a way that you'll find yourself banging on heaven's door for intervention or rescue. But perhaps that's the point. Instead of waiting for pain or problems to arrive, why not fire up your prayer life by taking on God's purposes being advanced in those around you? You'll find there are enough impossible situations close at hand to turn you into a prayer warrior. You'll find God more than willing to empower you with His Spirit to move you in this kind of prayer, and your mantra will certainly change as well: "It's a new day, it's a new dawn, and it's a new life!" == Answered by: Dennis W. Easter, senior pastor of Portland Foursquare Church in Oregon. If you have a question for "Your Questions," contact us. Mention that it is for "Your Questions" consideration.

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    Grace Community Foursquare
    2020 South Goyer
    Kokomo, IN
    765.457.4496

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Sunday -  10:00 am
Sunday -  05:30 pm
Wednesday -  06:30 pm
   

 

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