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The Grace of God in the Suffering of Jonathan Edwards by Pastor Charlie Handren

Jonathan Edwards served for twenty-one years (1729-1750) as the preaching Pastor of the Church of Christ in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a position held for about fifty years by his father-in-law and immediate predecessor, Solomon Stoddard. After decades of fruitful ministry, the congregation, along with area leaders, fired Edwards over issues related to the theology and practice of communion.
History has shown that Edwards was right on the issues and that the congregation was wrong to fire him, but at the time, this decision plunged his family into a season of suffering. I cannot explain here the details of their predicament or suffering, but I would like to highlight several ways in which God used these things in Edwards’ life.
First, God used this time to humble Edwards. As modern people, it’s hard for us to imagine this, but Edwards could not just pick up his family and move from Northampton. Travel was difficult, and moving an entire house-full of possessions was very difficult, and…
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Comfort or the Cross? An Invitation to the Cross-Bearing Life

Hudson Taylor is one of the most important non-biblical heroes in my life. Thus, it was with joy and trembling that I read his call to cross-bearing, a call made credible by his cross-bearing life. I invite you to ponder his words with me, and more importantly, our way of life before the Lord. 
“Hudson Taylor stopped at no sacrifice in following Christ. ‘Cross-loving men are needed,’ he wrote in the midst of his labors in China, and if he could speak to us today would it not be to call us to that highest of all ambitions: ‘that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings’ (Phil. 3:10). Can we not hear again the tones of his quiet voice as he says: ‘There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. An easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christs—an easy-going one for easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. Ther…

Suffering by Faith by Pastor Charlie Handren

While we were away, the Lord graciously ministered to Kim and me even in the midst of some pretty intense circumstances. As I began the process of reentering ministry, I felt compelled to share some things that the Lord has shared with me over the next several weeks, so instead of picking up where we left off in Revelation, we’re going to spend some time talking about “Suffering by Faith.” Below you will find the outline of the series, and I want to encourage you to make note of this, to read each text the week before the message, and to ask the Lord to teach you about each subject. I trust that as you seek him, he’ll speak to your heart through His Word and by His Spirit well before you hear what I have to say.  While it’s not always easy to see this in the midst of difficulties, seasons of suffering present us with great opportunities. For example, we can grow in faith. We can identify and repent of sinful patterns in our lives. We can praise and pray and call on the name of the Lord…

What Can Naomi Teach Us About Faith? by Pastor Kevin Feder

If ever there was a person in Scripture that highlights the roller coaster of emotions and faith in God it is Naomi. In the book of Ruth she loses her husband and her two sons to death. In Ruth 1:20-21 we read this: 
She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
Of course, by the end of the book Naomi is restored and her line is rescued. This doesn’t erase her suffering but it also spells a tremendous sense of relief for a woman who has suffered so greatly, going from full to empty, back to full again. 
I have gone back and forth and back again about this episode in Naomi’s life. What are we to make of her faith when she insists on renaming herself Mara? Here are some thoughts. 
First, Naomi says some things that are true and some things that are not. She says that the …

10 Ways The Church Can Grow Through The Mask Mandate by Pastor Kevin Feder

There are many ways to think about the very confusing and controversial mandates to wear a mask. Here are 10 reasons why and considerations for the church as we are called to wear a mask during our worship services.
First, Pastor Charlie is not present at the moment to help make the decision. Since there are serious legal ramifications for both Pastor Charlie and myself, as acting board members of GCF, it is only right that I do not make a decision on his behalf that can bring legal and financial ramifications upon him and his family. For instance, you should know that if someone were to contract the virus at a service our insurance almost certainly would not cover us since we acted against the mandate. In this case, Pastor Charlie and Pastor Kevin would be responsible for all legal related and medical expenses, which could become astronomical.
Second, it should be noted that the governor is not violating our rights to meet and practice our religion and he is not asking us to sin or v…

Why Does God Sometimes Not Give What We Ask? by Pastor Charlie Handren

Have you ever prayed fervently and, as far as you could tell, according to God’s will, and yet the Father did not grant your request? If you answered “yes” to this question, you’re not alone. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, the apostle Paul tells of a time when he prayed with passion, three times, that a “messenger of Satan” would be driven away from him, that a “thorn in the flesh” would be removed from him, but in the end the Father answered “no.” Instead, he replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). I once prayed and asked the Father to deliver me out of a situation, but my sense of his reply was this: “I don’t want to deliver you out of this; I want to develop you in this.” And that is precisely what he ended up doing in my life. 
How, then, are we to understand such experiences in light of such a strong promise as this: “…ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”? I see at least six reasons why the Father may not grant our requ…

Submit, Resist, and Draw Near by Pastor Charlie Handren

James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…”
In these verses James issues three commands—submit, resist, and draw near. It seems to me that the first command is the main command and that the other two help us understand how to do it.
In other words, the primary thing James is commending here is that we fully surrender our lives to God. So many of the problems we face in this life are owing to the fact that we refuse to submit to Christ. If we would only bow our will to his will, if we would only live by his Word rather than the wisdom of the world or of ourselves, most of our difficulties would evaporate. As Jesus said of himself in John 8:29, “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” This way of life keeps us from so many unnecessary troubles.
The question is, though, how do we submit to God? James says two thing…