GCI Update

The Good Life

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joe Tkach and Tammy TkachWe all want The Good Life, don’t we? But what, exactly, is it? For many, it’s about material possessions, money, security and opportunity.

Referring to the rap song “Good Life” by hip hop artist Kanye West, the Urban Dictionary offers this definition of The Good Life:

Living life drama and worry free. Do your thing, be thankful for what you have, and take full advantage of everything you do have while still improving on your situation. The Good Life usually consists of being healthy, having confidence, having fun, partying and hooking up with sexy girls but varies from each person. Try not to become jealous of other people and don’t make a big deal out of everything in life. Just live your life, have fun, be positive, and you will be living The Good Life. [1]

Tony Bennett (Wikimedia)
Tony Bennett (Wikimedia)

Composers Distel and Reardon addressed The Good Life in a song by that name, popularized by singer Tony Bennett. Here are the lyrics:

Oh, the good life, full of fun
Seems to be the ideal
Mm, the good life lets you hide
All the sadness you feel

You won’t really fall in love
For you can’t take the chance
So please be honest with yourself
Don’t try to fake romance

It’s the good life to be free
And explore the unknown
Like the heartaches when you learn
You must face them alone

Please remember, I still want you
And in case you wonder why
Well, just wake up
Kiss the good life, goodbye

Plato and Aristotle (Wikimedia)
Plato and Aristotle – detail of “The School of Athens” by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509 (Wikimedia)

Of course, the ultimate answers to life’s big questions are not found in song lyrics. We also understand from life experience that material possessions are not what make life “good.”

The question, What constitutes The Good Life? is not new. The ancient Greek philosophers pondered the question. According to historian Arthur L. Herman, Plato and Aristotle disagreed on the answer, leading to the founding of two schools of thought. Plato’s Rationalism defined The Good Life as consisting of “ideal forms” such as truth, justice, beauty and goodness. Aristotle’s Empiricism defined it as possessing knowledge that is gained through experience. Both philosophers taught that The Good Life comes from the contemplative life of the mind.

But what does the Bible say?

The prophet Micah wrote this: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV). God gave Micah this prophetic insight during a time when calamity and exile awaited Israel. This pivotal passage tells us that living life with fairness and kindness, in humility before God, is the basis of The Good Life.

Interestingly, the Greek philosophers agree with the biblical wisdom that The Good Life has nothing to do with material possessions. Instead, it’s about possessing knowledge that then is rightly applied in relationship to the world around us. But the Bible adds a vital insight: The Good Life has God at its center. It’s about possessing the Word of God made open to us by the Spirit of God. Karl Barth said it this way:

The hearing of the Word of God the creator, which makes human life to become Christian life, is not man’s work but God’s: the Holy Spirit’s work. Just as our spirit cannot produce the Word of God, so too it cannot receive it… A sheer miracle must happen to him, a second miracle in addition to the miracle of his own existence, if his life shall be a true Christian life, which is a life within the hearing of God’s word. This miracle is the office of the Holy Spirit. [2]

The Good Life is life centered on the Living Word of God, who as its Creator and Redeemer, has a foundational relationship with all of life. Thus The Good Life is not something that is bought or sold. It is not about a transaction of any sort. Rather, it’s about being in a personal relationship with the very Source of life. In that relationship, we are freely given God’s own kind of life. It is sent to us from the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit. And we receive that life as we surrender in worship by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. And that relationship of worship to God bears fruit in all of our other relationships, expressing itself towards others in a spirit of justice, kindness and humility.

Jesus (his being and his acts) constitutes The Good Life. And by grace, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are given to share that Life with Jesus. In him, we are alive. In him, we have life eternal. This is ultimate reality. This is The Good Life!

Sharing The Good Life with Christ and with you,
Joseph Tkach

[1] www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=The+Good+Life
[2] Karl Barth. The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life: The Theological Basis of
Ethics, pages 10-11.

Exponential Conference

Exponential 3Several GCI members recently attended the Exponential Conference, East in Orlando, Florida. Those attending included the group pictured at right. Most are members of Hands for Christ Community Church, a newly planted GCI congregation serving the deaf community in Staten Island, New York and beginning to reach out through streaming video to groups of deaf people gathered elsewhere.

Mary Bacheller, Hands for Christ church planter and senior pastor, provided signing for deaf people during several of the sessions at the Exponential Conference (she is in the foreground of the picture below).

Exponential 2

Mary reported that her group had a profound experience at the conference:

Our hearts were changed and our hands were moving. We were motivated and renewed in our commitment to spread the gospel. Every night we reviewed what we learned and discussed how we would implement it back home. This conference is a great way to get people involved by helping them experience for themselves the excitement of being disciples who make disciples.

Tkaches visit Colombia

This update is from Hector Barrero, GCI regional director for Latin America and pastor of the Bogota, Colombia congregation.

GCI members in Barranquilla and Bogota, Colombia expressed their deep appreciation to the Tkaches for their recent visit to Colombia. This was the first time that a president of our denomination visited Colombia. Members were impressed with Joe and Tammy’s accessibility, kindness and gentleness.

Colombia group shot

Colombia Tammy preaching Hector interpreting
Tammy preaching, Hector translating.

On April 18 (Good Friday), the Tkaches and Barreros visited the Barranquilla congregation, which is a one-hour flight from Bogota. They returned to Bogota the same day. In Bogota on Saturday afternoon, Tammy Tkach spoke on the freedom and responsibility we have in Jesus. Joseph Tkach then spoke about how God is working with our denomination around the world.

In worship services on Easter Sunday, Tammy spoke on the true rest that we have in Jesus and Joseph spoke about Jesus’ last words on the cross.

Easter Sunrise Service

Sunrise_service1Members and guests from several GCI congregations gathered at sunrise on Easter Sunday at Lingayen Beach in the Northern Luzon area of the Philippines to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The service was entitled “Panangidayew Ed Ililiwaway Agew” (meaning “Sunrise Celebration”). Eugene Guzon, GCI’s national director for the Philippines (pictured at right), welcomed attendees. This was followed by praise and worship and Easter messages from GCI pastors Napoleon Meimban and Adonis Caguioangasinan.

Following the service, Maria Aurelia R. Ibay who attends our Urdaneta Church, was baptized. The churches participating plan to have Easter Sunrise services at this location in future years.

20 questions for preachers

20 questionsPreaching is a craft that, like any other, needs careful honing. In an article posted at ChurchLeaders.com, preacher Bob Hostetler wrote this:

Years ago, when I first began preaching, I developed a list of 20 questions to evaluate a sermon—before preaching it. It remains a mental checklist…that I try to apply to my own speaking. 

To read the full post, including the list of his 20 questions, click here.

Mike Rasmussen

Juli and Mike Rasmussen
Juli and Mike Rasmussen

We are saddened to learn that GCI district and church pastor Mike Rasmussen has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The good news is that the cancer was detected early. Mike is now seeking the best doctors and, above all, relying on our merciful Triune God.

Please join in praying for Mike, his wife Juli and the rest of their family.

Cards may be sent to:

Mike Rasmussen
12012 Surrey Ln
Yukon, OK 73099-8139

Ordinations

Tony Polera ordinationWe are pleased to announce several recent elder ordinations:

  • Tony Polera, Toronto East, Ontario, Canada—pictured at right, being ordained by Toronto East pastor, Alvaro Palacio
  • Ted Natividad, Zamboanga City, Philippines
  • Robert Grinnell, Good Hope, Alabama—see details below
  • Lister Chen, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada
  • Jackie Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • George Strub, Big Sandy, Texas
  • William Stenger, Big Sandy,Texas

Ronald Ratliff, based on his prior ordination in the American Baptist Church, recently was confirmed as a GCI elder.

Ordination - Bob Grinell

In the picture above, Bob Grinnell is being ordained by Birmingham and Good Hope, Alabama pastor Bob Miller (at left), with assistance from Attalla, Alabama pastor Rannie Childress (at right) and Decatur, Alabama pastor Brad Campbell (at rear). Carole Grinnell is at her husband’s side.

David Husmann

Husmann
David and Linda Husmann

David Husmann, pastor of GCI congregations in Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska, says that he first noticed God working with him at age 11. “I know God was with me then, because I remember beginning to question who he might be and how I should respond to him. One cold winter night, unable to sleep, I climbed out of bed, got on my knees and for the first time prayed openly to God. I don’t remember what was said, but I know I was responding to God. My relationship with him grew from there.”

David’s family had been receiving sacks of old newspapers and magazines from his great aunt, which his family would use to start fires in the wood furnace. In those sacks were copies of the Plain Truth magazine. “My mom and dad and I responded over a period of several years to what we read. We requested a visit in 1966 and in 1969 began attending church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I was baptized in 1970.”

David has always lived in Northwest Iowa. “My father purchased a 40-acre farm near Westfield in 1962 when I was age 12. He was disabled shortly after we moved in, so my mother went to work and I took on much of the farm responsibilities.” During high school I worked the farm and drove a school bus to supplement our income. I had my own dogs and a small horse. I enjoyed caring for them. I marvel at how God provides special events and creatures to help us grow toward him.”

David says he always has seen God’s involvement with his family. “God used the experiences we went through when Dad was hurt to grow us spiritually. We also received physical blessings from God—cows for milk, chickens for eggs, steers for sale income and our own fresh meat.”

In 1975, David met his wife Linda at a church service in Omaha. “I really likedher, but she did not like me. So I went to work to win her. We married in 1976. She remains my mainstay and grounding influence. When we first met, I saw in her a stately, grounded follower of Christ who complemented my own approach to life. She supports me by her words and presence. I experience God’s support through her.”

David and Linda have three children. “Our son, Michael, is married to Amanda and they have our three grandchildren, Abigail (8), Shaylee (6, born on my birthday), and Briella (1). Our daughter Vanessa who is single is studying to become a dietitian. Our daughter Suzy, our youngest, is married to Jeff Froderman. They have no children yet. I have been privileged to officiate at both of our married children’s weddings.” Doing so is what David lists as his most memorable moments as a pastor.

David was ordained a deacon in 1996 and coordinated the YES and YOU programs in the Sioux City congregation. “We had a local Teens Encounter Christ program and a Youth for Christ program. In 1998, David attended New Pastor’s Training in Pasadena. “Since then I’ve grown into the pastoral role in Sioux City, having been ordained an elder in 1999 by Dave Fiedler, a wonderful mentor to me. I began pastoring a second church (Omaha, Nebraska) in 2003.” David says he experiences “deep-rooted joy in overseeing these two churches—sharing life with the Lord’s people: listening for their needs, encouraging them and interceding on their behalf in prayer. I love helping them reach their full potential in the Lord Jesus!”

When asked about what he enjoys most about being part of GCI, David replied, “I have always enjoyed our extended fellowship. Being able to get to know our brothers and sisters has always been a source of joy. I also love the education that GCI makes available for all levels of people.”

David says his life has been “an exercise in living faith. God led us through some rough times and remained faithful to us. The birth of our son Michael was nip and tuck—we almost lost him. But God brought us through. Our last birth was a troubled one also. We almost lost Susan, but God was with us through it all. God moved mightily with Linda and me when we moved from the farm—a move we sensed was God’s will. Shortly after, I was asked to run for Councilman in our city. With no investment of time on my part, I was elected to that seat for four years. I gained a solid education in small town dealings. Representing the town, I went three times to Washington D.C. to speak with key government people. God also led me to work for three years as a teacher’s aide and bus driver for experience with the younger generation. He put us in a position to learn and grow spiritually for his purposes for us and for his church.”

“We have had our share of hard trials,” said David. “I had a heart attack and Linda has battled diabetes and breast cancer. At one point, I struggled with burn-out as a pastor. Then I had an accident and my legs were run over by a flatbed trailer. But in all of these trials, God was with us every step of the way. Our Faithful God helped us become faithful to him in and through these experiences.”

David’s passion is “helping people out of the deep love that God gives me for them. As part of my current job driving a concrete truck, I train new hires. In that role I’ve been recognized as a solid coach-trainer. God has gifted me to serve as a life-coach for others. So as I approach retirement, I think I would like to focus on coaching those who come after me.”

Asked when he feels closest to God, David said, “A while back I would have answered that by saying when I pray, but now it seems as I get older, I feel closest to God as I relate to others. To me this shows God’s closeness to all people. I feel especially close to God when he answers prayers said on behalf of those I am blessed to work with.”