Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Multiple Sclerosis Bike Ride--July 23-27

Hi Friends & Family! 

It's that time of year again. Kim and I are riding our bikes in The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM) to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. TRAM is a 5-day, 300-mile bike ride that will take us this year from Bemidji, Minnesota to Alexandria, Minnesota. Please visit our web page for more details, and to pitch in a little cashola if you're able to do so! Here's the link: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/MNMBikeEvents?px=3313886&pg=personal&fr_id=17619

If you can't support the ride, no worries, just pray for us and maybe send a note to encourage Kimmy in her on-going struggle. She's quiet about things, but MS is part of her life--of our lives--every day. She likes to say, "I'm MS'd up, but the grace of Jesus is enough for me!" 

God bless you all, we love you, 
Charlie for the Handrens 

Friday, July 13, 2012

David Livingston: Mercy & Faithfulness


   Over the last few weeks I have been writing about a document I keep on the desktop of my computer entitled, “My Motivation.” It is designed to remind and inspire and focus me toward Christ-centered living, but it’s comprised of pictures rather than words. Nine of the fifteen pictures are of various men of God who inspire me for a number of reasons, the fifth of whom is one of my pastors from Bethlehem Baptist Church, David Livingston.
   I first met Pastor David in the summer of 1990. I was new to Bethlehem and he was teaching the new members class at the time. I was immediately struck by his love for Jesus, his love for people, and his boldness in evangelism. As we got to know each other a little better, I shared my story with him and he helped me work through some issues that were plaguing me in those days. I had known Jesus for only three years and I really needed men in my life who were mature, wise, and merciful in the Lord. Pastor David was one of those men, and for that I am eternally grateful to the Lord.
   As the years have progressed, Pastor David has continued to play an important role in my life. The thing that’s perhaps impacted me most is the simple fact that he’s still there. He’s remained faithful to the Lord, to his wife and children, to his church, and more personally to me. When I was going through a pretty serious season of doubt, his faithfulness to the Lord and others is part of what kept me hanging on. When we started Glory of Christ, he met with me twice per month for a year or two to provide me with pastoral support, encouragement, and accountability. By the sustaining power of Christ, Pastor David has persevered in his love for Christ, other believers, and the lost, and bottom line, he’s been there. He’s remained faithful.
   The reason Pastor David has remained faithful to God and others is because God is faithful to him. God has done it all and therefore God gets all the glory. So, praise be to God for David Livingston whose life has demonstrated such mercy and faithfulness!
   Longing with you to be faithful to the end,
   Pastor Charlie

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Augustine: Grace and Truth



Over the last few weeks I have been writing about a document I keep on the desktop of my computer entitled, “My Motivation.” It is designed to remind and inspire and focus me toward Christ-centered living, but it’s comprised of pictures rather than words. Nine of the fifteen pictures are of various men of God who inspire me for a number of reasons, the fourth of whom is the fourth century pastor and theologian, Augustine.
When I was in college, I read one of Augustine’s most famous works, Confessions. Given my past, it was very encouraging to read the story of a man who sinned so terribly and suffered the consequences of his actions, and yet who received so much grace from Jesus. Augustine’s honesty and humility made a great impact on me, as he helped me see that God could heal and use a broken person like me.
Then over the years, as I grew in the knowledge of the Bible and theology, I read several of Augustine’s more theological works and some of his sermons. Having heard the story of how the grace of Jesus transformed this man, I now began to partake of some of the fruit the Lord bore through this man.
Specifically, Augustine was among the first to inspire me to meditate long and hard on the glory of God, the attributes of God, the nature of God’s creative power, the depth of human depravity, the greater depth of God’s redemptive grace in Christ, the nature of the church, the mission of the church, and so on. Augustine’s story opened my heart all the more to the grace of Christ, and his theological writings opened my mind all the more to the truth of Christ.
And what is more, Augustine taught me that the quest for biblical truth is part and parcel of the passion to worship God. That is, he helped me understand that we can only worship God in truth when we know the truth about God.
This insight, in fact, has shaped my life. God has used this man, who lived some 1,600 years ago, to lead me in the way I should go, and for this I am eternally grateful to God. Like his Lord, Augustine’s life was characterized by grace and truth.
For the glory of Christ,
Pastor Charlie

John Bunyan: Grace Abounding


Over the last few weeks I have been writing about a document I keep on the desktop of my computer entitled, “My Motivation.” It is designed to remind and inspire and focus me toward Christ-centered living, but it’s comprised of pictures rather than words. Nine of the fifteen pictures are of various men of God who inspire me for a number of reasons, the third of whom is the puritan Pastor and author, John Bunyan.
When I was in college, I read Bunyan’s most famous work, Pilgrim’s Progress, which certainly had an impact on my life. But in 2003 I read his second most famous work, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, through which God led me on a months-long journey of exploring the contours of grace in my life. In the preface of the book, Bunyan writes this:
“It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace within their souls…My dear children, call to mind the former days, ‘and the years of ancient times: remember also your songs in the night; and commune with your own heart’ (Psalm 73:5-12). Yea, look diligently, and leave no corner therein unsearched, for there is treasure hid, even the treasure of your first and second experience of the grace of God toward you. Remember, I say, the word that first laid hold upon you; remember your terrors of conscience, and fear of death and hell; remember also your tears and prayers to God; yea, how you sighed under every hedge for mercy. Have you never a hill Mizar to remember [see Psalm 42:6]? Have you forgot the close, the milk house, the stable, the barn, and the like, where God did visit your soul? Remember also the Word—the Word, I say, upon which the Lord has caused you to hope. If you have sinned against light; if you are tempted to blaspheme; if you are down in despair; if you think God fights against you; or if heaven is hid from your eyes, remember it was thus with your father [i.e., their pastor, John Bunyan], but out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
In submission to the Lord and this ancient Pastor, I diligently explored every corner of my life and searched for treasures of grace. I found many such treasures! Furthermore, the quest so impacted my life that Bunyan has become a permanent part of my life and, in a strange way, one of my Pastors. So, I give glory to God for him, and commend his wisdom to you—search for the grace of Christ in your life!
Shaped by the grace of Christ,
Pastor Charlie