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Trusting When It’s Hard

Saul tore his gaze from the backs of yet another pair of soldiers running off into the woods long enough
to glance up at the sky. The sun was sinking lower. Less than an hour till sundown. The soldiers that remained
were shaken, almost literally. They jumped at every sound, and their heads darted from side to side like a
nervous bird. They too would flee at the first sight of danger.
How had they come to this? He started with 3,000 fresh troops, giddy from the victory Saul’s son
Jonathan had achieved over the Philistines. Samuel was supposed to show up, offer the sacrifices, and then the
battle could begin. Now, seven days later, fear latched onto the soldiers. Too much time to sit, with nothing to
stop them from dwelling on thoughts of the more numerous and technologically superior Philistines that could
attack at any moment. Day by day, more men deserted until Saul’s army shrank to the mere 600 men still with
Something had to be done. Didn’t God make Saul King? These men are his responsibility. The very war
itself is his burden to bear. And who knows what happened to Samuel. He could have been captured. Killed!
The Philistines aren’t the only threats out there. One man alone could fall victim to highwaymen or even to wild
animals driven into frenzy by hunger. Should Saul keep waiting for what may never come?
So Saul stood up, and grabbed a branch from the campfire, the far end blazing like a torch. “Bring the
sacrifice!” he shouted. The men looked up, hesitant. Slowly, a few rose to their feet and went to the animal
pens. Moments later, the sacrifice was completed, and Saul could see the men’s spirit rising.
“What have you done?” Samuel’s voice lashed out of the near darkness. Saul jumped in spite of himself.
Saul was King, but Samuel made him feel like a young child standing before the principal. “You acted
foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would
have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has
sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the
LORD’s command.”
At first glance, this might seem harsh. Saul was doing what he thought best. But he defied the explicit
command of God. Think about your life. There have probably been times that you thought, “I know God says
this, but surely he would understand. My situation is different.” And so we defy God’s commands, but God is
never glorified by our disobedience. And our own lives are harmed by our disobedience as well. When God
leads, our responsibility is to follow.


Often people who know we have adopted and do foster care will ask, “How many of the kids are
yours?”. We always answer, “They all are.” But then will proceed to try to answer the question they meant to
ask, which is usually, “How many are biological?”. Early in our marriage, I was somewhat resistant to adoption.
I had all the usual questions. Would I be able to love a child that didn’t share my DNA? Would it be the same as
having a biological child? Those questions and fears kept me resistant for some time.

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At the last Kewanee Ministerial Association meeting the other ministers began discussing Ash Wednesday, the
best way to make or purchase ashes, and how to best apply the ashes. When I mentioned that our church doesn’t celebrate
Ash Wednesday, it was met with surprise. Then, this past Sunday, our Sunday School class began discussing traditions
and the pros and cons associated with them. It reminded me about my visit one time to a Greek Orthodox Church. The
Priest told me, “The difference between your church and mine is that you just have the Bible, and we have the Bible and
tradition. So if you didn’t have the Bible, you would have nothing, but we still would have tradition.” This always stuck
with me because I thought and the time, and still think today, that tradition that has no connection with the scripture is not
a good foundation for a church.

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Words to Build a Life On

I have had several conversations recently about the reliability of the scriptures. I’m thrilled that
people are talking about this, because the scriptures are the foundation of what we teach and preach at
FCC, and it is quite natural for people to make sure that foundation is secure before building their life on

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Question: Why do we have so many different denominations within our churches. I didn’t really see Jesus going around
preaching Baptist agenda or Methodist agenda or FCC agenda. Why and where did this take place? Jesus just preached the word and people just seemed to accept it but how and why did that change into so many different things and beliefs over small things and big things.

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Descended into Hell?

The independent Christian Church (of which FCC is a part), has historically been cautious of creeds at
best. If you grew up in a mainline denomination or the Catholic Church, you probably have memories of
reciting the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed in services. Our question today has to do with a difficult line
in the Apostles’ Creed that says (in some versions) that “[Jesus] descended into Hell”. There’s a lot to unpack

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Justification and Sanctification

One question I received was the difference between justification and sanctification. These are both big
“churchy” words, but they are full of deep meaning for Christians. Justification is our legal state before God.
Because of Christ we are justified. One preacher commented that when Jesus justifies us, He makes it “just as if
I” never sinned. That’s pretty accurate. Justification means to give us the standing before God as pure, righteous
and holy.

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Will We Get Bored in Heaven?

Will we get bored in heaven? Consider this: God is infinite. It will take infinity to get to know God. We will
never fully understand all that God knows. In heaven we will learn something new every ‘day.’ So how could
we get bored? (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:28). –Charles Stanley

Exmas and Chrissmas

C. S. Lewis writes a satirical essay about how the strange nation of Niatirb (yes, that’s Britain
backwards) celebrates Christmas. He remarks that is seems as if there are two separate holidays on the same
day: Exmas and Chrissmas. Exmas is a time of great stress, labor, and weariness. People get cards to send one
another, and there is great lamenting when they receive a card from someone they didn’t send one to. And then
the gifts:

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Keep Watch!

We live in a society where surveillance and privacy are major concerns. Every store you enter has
security cameras, many stoplights have cameras, not to mention just about everyone walks around with a
camera in their pocket or purse these days. “Who is watching?” is a valid question in our day, but, in another
sense, it’s always been a good question.

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