Issue Number Nine

Don's Schedule

Please pray for these ministry opportunities in March and April.

  • First Baptist Church
    Greenwood, MO

  • Faith Community Church
    Kansas City, MO

  • St. Louis Baptist Association Leadership Seminar
    Creve Coeur, MO

  • Countryside Bible Church
    Southlake, TX

  • Mill Creek Community Church Men's Retreat
    Edgerton, KS

  • Avondale Baptist Church
    Kansas City, MO

  • Howard Memorial Baptist Church
    Del City, OK

  • Faith Community Church
    Kansas City, MO

  • Bella Vista Baptist Church
    Bella Vista, AR

In The News

The 'under God' part of the Pledge of Allegiance is back in the news. Click here to read Don's article about this from last summer, What if Michael Newdow Lived in Your Neighborhood?

Sample Chapters from
Books by Don Whitney

Why I Am A Baptist
from Why I Am A Baptist

Do You Thirst for God?
from Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

Silence and Solitude
from Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Why Join a Church?
from Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church

A Spiritual MindSet
from How Can I Be Sure I'm A Christian?

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More Chapters from
Simplify Your Spiritual Life

What's New on the Web Site?

Ten Questions to Ask to Treat a Guest Speaker Well

Featuring Don's New Book

Simplify Your Spiritual Life
The two articles below are from Don's book, Simplify Your Spiritual Life, which NavPress plans to release in July.

Cultivate Koinonia

The word fellowship in the New Testament (as in Acts 2:42) is a translation of the Greek word koinonia. At its root koinonia describes two or more people in close association and often speaks of these people as sharing in something, such as a marriage or business. Christian koinonia exists between everyone who knows God through Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:3). Everyone united with Christ by faith is also united with everyone else united with Christ. The same Holy Spirit indwells all believers and gives each a common share in the body of Christ, the church. As the apostle Paul put it, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . . and all have been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The presence of the Holy Spirit in each other enables Christian relationships to be enriched with a supernatural dimension and spiritual dynamic that unbelievers cannot experience. For example, the Lord Himself blesses us through the words of other Spirit-indwelled people in ways He seldom does through Spirit-less people. The easiest and most direct way to experience these blessings of koinonia is just to talk with another believer about the things of God. This includes anything related to knowing God, Christian living, understanding the Bible, and applying the Bible to particular issues such as work or family or culture, prayer, theology, church, and evangelism.

But as normal as such fellowship should be to those who know Christ, if we don't cultivate it, koinonia gets choked out of our conversations by the weeds of words about other things.

Click HERE to finish reading this article.

Fellowship Face to Face

I sent and read dozens of emails today. In addition to the Internet contacts with people I had here in my own city and country, I heard from a pastor in Wales, exchanged several posts with a friend in Canada, and bought an old fountain pen from a woman in Germany through an online auction. What a great blessing to enjoy these things so easily. But as a result of the time involved at the computer, I haven't talked face to face with anyone all day. Why does it seem that the more I have and the faster I can accomplish things, the more distant I feel from people?

Because of the efficiency and convenience provided by technology, we chat and buy more and more through electronic means, but less and less in person. As long as we maintain meaningful face-to-face relationships, especially with fellow Christians, then our electronic relationships will remain in a good and healthy place. But if we interact with people primarily through glass or some sort of technological screen—such as a television or computer monitor—we shouldn't be surprised that our relationships begin to seem distant, shallow, or artificial.

Even from the low-tech times of the first century, the timeless words of the Bible speak directly to this contemporary problem.

Click HERE to finish reading this article.

The Difference Between Socializing and Fellowship

Many Christians never seem to distinguish between socializing and fellowship. Think of two concentric circles. The larger circle is socializing, the inner one is fellowship. This shows how fellowship always takes place within the context of socializing, but also how we can have socializing without fellowship. Socializing is the larger circle because it involves sharing the common things of human, earthly life. All people can do this, whether or not they are Christians. But Christian fellowship, New Testament koinonia, involves the sharing of spiritual life.

Please notice that I am not arguing against socializing. It is a gift of God. It is part of being human. The church needs socializing and so does the individual Christian. But in practice the church has often accepted socializing as a substitute for fellowship, almost forfeiting our spiritual birthright as children of God for something far less valuable. The result is a weakening of both the church and the believer.

[Taken from page 150 of Don's book, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church. Read a chapter from this book.]

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Family News and Notes

  • From woodstove to lawnmower The temperatures here in Kansas City are beginning the wild fluctuations that mean winter is giving way to spring. Cozy evenings by the woodstove—the best thing about winter in the Whitney mind—are becoming less frequent, and my thoughts necessarily turn more to the outdoors. The lawnmower is at the shop getting ready for another season, and the writing of this paragraph was interrupted by a conversation with a tradesman who promised to do some reseeding after work next door damaged our yard. While on a prayer walk earlier today, I heard a cardinal sing from the top of a Bradford pear tree as though it were his job to announce to the world that spring is coming.

    I've preached more locally in the first few months of this year than any time during the seven-and-a-half years since I've been traveling. I've greatly enjoyed being able to preach and teach without spending additional time away from home and hearth. Please pray for the opportunities listed on the first page of this newsletter.

    I still have the white beard. Last month I was at lunch with a pastor and his young family. His not-quite-two-year-old son stared at me, then pointed and said, "Ho, ho." (Which being interpreted is, "There's Santa Claus!") Twice during the intermission of Gods and Generals I heard people whisper, "There's General Lee." Virtually everyone older than I has an aversion to the beard, unless they (or their husband) have one. Virtually everyone younger than I likes it.

    I'm enjoying my classes and relationships with students this year as much as any time I can remember. I've had lots of fun with many on the Midwestern Seminary campus, especially several of my colleagues on the faculty, who are joining me in the appreciation of writing instruments (that's "fountain pens" to the uninitiated). My fellow stylophiles typically enter the stylographic world with a Waterman Phileas and/or a Lamy Vista with a 1.1 or 1.5 italic nib. The former is a nice looking smooth writer for ordinary penwork, the latter for more beautiful script, such as signatures, addressing envelopes, and personal correspondence. When the new book comes out the summer, watch for the chapter on "Journal with a Fountain Pen."

    Speaking of the book, the Newsletter will continue to include two chapters from Simplify Your Spiritual Life (as is the case in this issue). I've finished correcting the first typeset version (which is the first time I see the manuscript after the pages begin to look as they will in the book). I'm to see the book once more before it goes to the printer. Both the website and the newsletter will announce when the book is available (perhaps June, probably in July).

  • Caffy is to begin work painting several murals in model home soon. She really enjoys it. She also finds great fellowship with a group of women who meet each Monday for a book study. In the past few months they've read and discussed books by John Piper, Jerry Bridges, and John MacArthur. Pretty soon I suppose it will be time to plant flowers in the famous Whitney window boxes. Sigh.

  • Laurelen shares her dad's enjoyment of fountain pens. Somehow she managed to receive a Phileas for Christmas and a 1.5 italic Vista for her December birthday. (As Sgt. Schulz used to say, "I know noth-thing.") Not only has her handwriting improved dramatically, but she and dad spend time together almost daily in some aspect of the stylographic world—filling pens, trying new inks, learning about different kinds of pens, etc. As a family we've been reading Cabin on the Prairie, Small Talks on Big Questions (one of the great Joshua Press books Caffy illustrated), and are just starting the massive Book of Virtues.

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