The Navigator: 1.6.22

THIS SUNDAY, 1/9

  • Begin asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind those within your “oikos” (sphere of influence) who need Christ.  And remember – always – before you talk to people about Jesus, talk to Jesus about those people.  Then, ask the Lord for opportunities/divine appointments for talking to them about Jesus.

 

30 DAYS

  • This Sunday our church will be introduced to a 30-Day devotional booklet to help us daily engage the Word of God.  Encourage your people to pick up a copy.

 

PRAYER WARRIOR BREAKFAST – THIS SATURDAY, 1/8

 

MID-WEEK LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES BEGIN NEXT WEEK, 1/12

All classes begin at 6:30pm except GriefShare which begins at 6pm.  For an overview of each class click here.

  • Engaging God’s Word; Sammy Elliott; FLC
  • Mere Christianity: Clarity in the Basics; Nick Watts; Worship Center
  • Ladies Bible Study – “He’s Where the Joy Is”;  Gail White
  • University – “Christ and Culture”; Shawn Coleman (off campus)
  • GriefShare; Joyce Rowe; Rm. 209
  • Also, learning opportunities for youth & children

 

EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE IS CATCHING UP WITH GENESIS

A few years ago, I had lunch with Particle Physicist, Dr. Michael Strauss, and listened to him talk about “theistic evolution.”  I have since studied what that implies.

I don’t hold woodenly to everything written in the article linked here but, as always, I like to pass along articles and quotes that help Christians think deeply and stay updated and informed about such things so as to help equip us to have intelligent dialogue with skeptics where the Christian faith is concerned.

Topics such as this one are what we call “non-essential.”  In other words, it’s perfectly okay to disagree on doctrines about which the Bible is not crystal clear.

For example, there is the “young earth vs. old earth” debate.  After I posted my opinion on the age of the universe (and earth) when considered in light of time dilation, presented by Jewish physicist, Gerald Shroeder,  I had a friend almost angrily insinuate that if I didn’t believe the earth was no more than 6000 years old I was a heretic in danger of leading the world astray.  This, of course, is nonsense.  And, enjoying a healthy debate, I let my friend know it was nonsense while also defending my openness to a much older universe and earth.  (By the way, we amicably agreed to disagree.)  Schroeder’s interpretation of Genesis 1 and its relation to cosmology is explained in a short blog by astrophysicist (and Christian), Sarah SalvianderYou can read it here.

The theme of the article linked here is to simply let the reader understand that, with every scientific discovery, God is more and more making himself known.

From the article:

Nathan Lents, a secular professor of biology at John Jay College, told Fox News Digital that recent developments have made Adam and Eve more plausible. “I would not say that there is any evidence, historical or scientific, in favor of the existence of Adam and Eve, as they are presented in the Bible,” Lents said. “However, there have been developments in our understanding of ancestry and genetics that allow for the possibility of universal ancestors of the entire human population in the surprisingly recent past.”

Dr. Joshua Swamidass, whose scientific findings the writer quotes, is a devoted Christian and strong defender of the Christian faith (as is the Particle Physicist I mentioned earlier.)

Read the full FOX News article here.

 

GO SEE THIS MOVIE

Kurt Warner went from stocking groceries during the “graveyard shift” to Super Bowl MVP.   American Underdog fills in the blanks with the powerful story that connects “grocery store stock boy” to, now, member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

The movie powerfully addresses numerous levels of humanity and struggle, and helps the audience see that there’s always hope – no matter our present circumstances.

Warner is a follower of Jesus Christ and has served Christ faithfully.

My favorite quote from the movie:

“You gotta do what you gotta do before you can do what you wanna do.”

In other words, “bloom where you’re planted.”  Or, as Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Faith can’t be trusted unless it can be tested.

Faith is like a muscle.  It cannot grow stronger unless it is exercised.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Why “spell-check” is your friend…

Also,…

A man went out and spent some time with some good friends. He got carried away and had a little too much to drink. He shares the rest of his story as follows…  “Feeling I might have been a little over the limit, I did something I’ve never done before – I took a cab home. Sure enough, on the way home there was a police roadblock. But since it was a cab they waved it past. I arrived home safely and without incident. This was a real surprise as I had never driven a cab before.”

 

SOUL FOOD:  Don’t Read the Bible Through in a Year

I posted this blog on social media as the calendar rolled over to 2022, and it received a lot of traction.

Bottom line:  it doesn’t matter how we choose to read and study the scriptures – just as long we do read it, consistently.

In my experience as a pastor, I have found that, after one makes the New Year resolution to read the Bible through in a year, they often quickly get bogged down somewhere in the Pentateuch and call it quits.

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 12.16.21

**NOTE:  You cannot know how much I love and appreciate you.  Michelle and I wish you the merriest of Christmases.  This is the last publication of The Navigator of 2021.  Love to you all, St. Nick

 

THIS SUNDAY, 12/19

  • Sammy concludes his series of highlighting timeless truths found in Jesus’ “family tree.”

 

  • 12/19 – Regular schedule
  • 12/23-24 – Offices closed; **Office hours 12/20-12/31 will be 9-Noon.
  • 12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm
  • 12/26 – Choose between in-person or online.  For those desiring to gather in person, join us in the FLC at 10:30.  The online service will be available on our web site on 12/26 as well as the days to follow.
  • 1/2 – 10:30 – Combined Worship; NO SUNDAY SCHOOL
  • 1/9 – Return to regular schedule
  • 1/12 – Mid-week classes/opportunities for learning resume at 6:30pm

 

BETHLEHEM HAPPENED FOR ONE REASON: CALVARY

From Philip Yancey’s award-winning book, The Jesus I Never Knew:

“When the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci went to China in the sixteenth century, he brought along samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it.

The Chinese readily adopted portraits of the Virgin Mary holding her child, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had grown up only to be executed, the audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They much preferred the Virgin and insisted on worshiping her rather than the crucified God.

As I thumb once more through my stack of Christmas cards (with front covers depicting calm, peaceful manger scenes), I realize that we in Christian countries do much the same thing.

We observe a mellow, domesticated holiday purged of any hint of scandal. Above all, we purge from it any reminder of how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.” [end quote]

For the King, nw

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

I will never ask you to do something I am not already doing.  That includes engaging in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

Recently, I posted on social media a post titled “For those who don’t know how, or are scared, to share your faith.”  It was widely read and shared on social media numerous times.  I was soon private-messaged by a person who told me she had shared it on her social media and that her sister, an agnostic, had replied to the post with a good deal of push-back.

The agnostic, in her mid-30’s, was extremely kind.  And, she had some common – yet extremely tough – questions and points.  The person who private-messaged me, a Christian, asked if I could help her respond to her sister’s questions.  I told her I’d be happy to do so.

I was promptly sent screen-shots of her sister’s arguments against the Christian faith.  Her agnostic sister is extremely intelligent and, clearly, a mature thinker.

Before I offered my response – I prayed.  A lot. 

Then, I broke her arguments down into fifteen questions/points and responded to each one individually.

When I was done I had written over 40 pages – a short book.

Dialoguing with an agnostic is, in my opinion, more difficult than with an atheist. They are indifferent and ambivalent toward religion – and have very good reasons for being so.  It’s not that they don’t want to believe – it’s that they just don’t care to.

But, one common denominator that exists when visiting with a skeptic of any kind is the challenge of sharing the truths of the Bible – without using the Bible.

And that’s precisely why I’m estimating 85% of what I wrote was based on philosophy/logic while the remaining 15% was biblical/theological in nature which supported the philosophy/logic.

It was critical that I be able to appeal to her sense of logic and reason.  For example: where did objective morality come from? (why is murder universally wrong and kindness universally good?); consciousness vs. humans beings no more than atoms, neurons, and the like; why it’s reasonable – apart from what the Bible says – to consider there being an afterlife; and so on, and so on.

I had been sending each individual response to my Christian friend who’d initially messaged me.  What I didn’t know is that she had then been forwarding my responses to her agnostic sister who lives in another part of the country.  Then – I was told her sister was reading my responses and was now very interested in what I had to say, even open to talking about it.

What happened next was full of power from the Holy Spirit.

I was encouraged by my Christian friend to connect with her sister personally.  I did (sort of like removing the middle-man.)  A conversation began.  We began getting to know one another.  What follows is what my new agnostic friend wrote to me just a couple of days ago:

“At this point I suppose I’m ok with taking my chances of ending up in hell. Or! Maybe someone will finally convince me that Jesus is my savior and I’ll be good to go.  Thus, my sister’s introduction to you!”

Tears filled my eyes as I read that last sentence.

Only God can orchestrate these encounters.

His activity in our lives is yet another “reason to believe.”

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The One True King

By a single touch, Jesus healed. By a single word, demons fled. By a single event of torture, death, and resurrection, we are saved.

That’s the baby in that manger.

And,…

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

And, a couple of bonuses…

A little known fact: Before the crowbar was invented, most crows drank at home.

My doctor asked if any of my family members suffered from mental illness.  I said, “No, they all seem to enjoy it.”

 

SOUL FOOD:  Who were the mysterious Magi?

Read the blog here.

Merry Christmas, St. Nick

The Navigator: 12.9.21

THIS SUNDAY, 12/12

  • Sammy continues his present series from Matthew 1.
  • 5pm – Christmas Carol Sing-a-long.  Also, solos, trios, and instrumentals of your favorite carols.

 

This week’s tip:  Being sensitive to the other side of the holidays.

I mention it every year in our worship services.  While the holidays are filled with laughter, joy, fun and frolic, for many it is a time of great pain and loss.  As you shepherd your flock, remind your people that being broken and feeling defeated is as much a part of the Christian faith as feeling joyful and victorious.  Jesus was born for such as these.  Sam Allberry couldn’t have said it better:

 

‘TIS THE SEASON – for impatience and anger

Share these passages with your class.  Encourage them to jot the verses down on a card and place it where they see them everyday, or better yet – memorize them.   It will help when they’re stuck in that long line of traffic or the store, or when someone is rude to them during this “merry” time.

“Short-tempered people do foolish things…” – Prov. 14:17

“…a hot temper shows great foolishness.” – Prov. 14:29

“Better to be patient than powerful,…Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;…” – Prov. 16:32; 17:28

“Sensible people control their temper,…”  – Prov. 19:11

We’re never weaker than when we’re angry.

 

HOSTAGES IN HAITI: Update

One of the most powerful lines I remember from contemporary Christian music is the opening line from Steve Camp’s “Run to the Battle:”

“Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells; but I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of hell.”

Christian missionaries are living that line right now.

For those who are aware of the Christian missionaries taken hostage in Haiti, click here for an update from CNN.  Pray for these people.

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

J.I. Packer wrote,

“Nothing so humbles the mind as thoughts of God.”

“In the beginning, God created…” – Gen. 1:1

**The universe contains more planets than seconds that have passed since the Big Bang.  (Read that again.)

Below is a photo from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Astronomers pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at a point in space where there appeared to be absolutely nothing, the emptiest part of space.

The telescope remained fixed on a tiny region of space – 1/26,000,000th of the visible sky – in the constellation Fornax for 11.5 days. (Fornax is 62 million light years from earth.)

The results were both shocking and breath-taking. 

Not only was something there in the seeming interstellar emptiness, but scientists discovered approximately 10,000,000 galaxies (every blip in this photo is not a star, it’s an entire galaxy!).

Believe this all happened by accident if you want. I don’t have that much faith.

God roared at Job:

“Can you direct the movement of the stars— binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons…? Do you know the laws of the universe?… – Job 38:31-33

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 12/12 – Christmas Sing-along with the SonShiner Choir; 5pm
  • 12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm
  • 1/2 – Combined Worship; NO SUNDAY SCHOOL

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” – Horace Greeley

“The better you know the gospel, the better you’ll share the gospel.”- Bobby Jamieson.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

 

SOUL FOOD: Who were the mysterious Magi?

Read the answer here.

Soli Deo Gloria, St. Nick

The Navigator: 12.2.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 12/5

  • Sammy continues his sermon series on the “Ancestry.com” of Jesus.
  • Silent Communion: 4-6pm; Tell your class to arrive any time within that time frame.  There will be tables set up on the floor at the front of the sanctuary.  When there is an empty seat they can take a seat and partake of the Lord’s Supper as a family or individual.
  • Fostering Hope: Sunday evening in the FLC

 

This week’s tip:  Beware of these Pitfalls of Ministry

A friend working on a grad-studies paper on “ministry pitfalls” contacted me recently to get my input.  As I thought about what I wrote and sent to her it occurred to me these pitfalls can be easily translated to volunteer church leadership.

Read the blog here and send me your thoughts.

 

HOMOSEXUALITY & MINISTRY: One story and my response

From the article linked below:

Former Southern Baptist Convention President, James Merritt, has resigned from his position as a visiting professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary amid controversy that followed his decision to share a short message by his son, who is gay.

I was heart-sick as I read through comments on Twitter attacking Merritt’s son.

You can read about this story here.

The conflict is as follows:  James Merritt’s son, Jonathan, is gay.  But, Jonathan is a Christian and preaches gospel messages. Although James and Jonathan know full well they disagree on sexuality, James loves his son more than life itself, was proud of his son, and shared his son’s sermon on social media.

The pharisees of social media exploded with vitriol.  Both James and Jonathan were vilified with hateful comments, many of which were hurled by a newly formed group within the Southern Baptist Convention.  They call themselves the Conservative Baptist Network, or CBN.  In response to the formation of this group, Southern Baptist Seminary president, Albert Mohler, tweeted,

“We already have a conservative Baptist network.  It’s called the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Both James and Jonathan have been flooded with love and support.

About the CBN’s treatment of Merritt, one pastor tweeted,

My pastor asked me today if i had heard of what is happening and for my thoughts. He wanted to make sure his idea that the CBN was blatantly attacking without grace a man who’s navigating a difficult situation was accurate. I agreed with him.

I could share my opinion on the CBN.  But, I won’t, for now.  Suffice it to say, I disagree with just about every aspect of their divisive methods and political motives.

I resisted commenting on the topic of James Merritt supporting his son because, frankly, God hadn’t given me permission to do so.  But, finally God said, “Now.” So I did.  I don’t shrink from controversial issues of the day.  Homosexuality being sin is clear.  Homosexuality being an orientation is complicated.  Posting self-righteous hatred on social media will win the ear of no one.

Below is what I posted on Twitter. 

My kids earned degrees in fine arts. They were surrounded by gay and lesbian classmates. Those gay and lesbian kids were/are precious, respectful, and some of the kindest people I’ve met. We’ve had them in our home, taken them out to eat. I even told one young gay man I would raise him as my own if I could.

Does this mean I agree with their lifestyle? Absolutely not. And they all know that. However, these kids are people. People who have feelings. And, given the suicide rate among the LGBT, many are looking for answers and hope.

I’ve been in vocational ministry almost 40 years. Spurgeon said, “I don’t preach a soft gospel.” Likewise, my biblical worldview is uncompromising. That said, Jesus had the profound ability to love people deeply while simultaneously strongly opposing their lifestyle. We can do the same.

Calling out and taking cheap-shots – publicly via social media – at anyone, much less someone’s child is the reason (as I heard one preacher say decades ago) bars are full and churches are empty.

It’s significant that the people Jesus spent the most time calling out for sin was the self-righteous Pharisees.

Paul addressed this very topic when he wrote to the Philippians.  Some of the believers were troubled that some with less-than-pure-motives were preaching the gospel.  Paul, in essence said, “Relax.  Let them preach.  Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.”

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent conversation where the Christian faith is concerned.

Watch this brief video of Dr. John Lennox, professor of Mathematics at Oxford, explain why human consciousness is yet another reason to believe in God.  The clip is less than four minutes.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK:

“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” – John Stott.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Sorry ladies!  Too funny not to share.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 12/5 – Silent Communion; 4-6pm; Fostering Hope to follow in FLC
  • 12/8 – Children’s Ministry Family Night
  • 12/12 – Christmas Sing-along with the SonShiner Choir; 5pm
  • 12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm
  • 1/2 – Combined Worship; all Small Groups meet at early hour

 

SOUL FOOD: The Daily Grind of Faith

While we would rather spend our lives on the proverbial “mountain top,” the “valley” is actually where God has created us to be most of the time. Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.18.21

**The above question from Luke 17 has been a “family verse” for the Watts home for many years.  We’ve talked about it as a family a number of times. As I consider the “other nine” lepers Jesus healed that day, I don’t know that they intentionally didn’t thank him (they were ecstatic from being healed).  I think they just forgot.  May we always be humbly mindful of Jesus’ mercy and love that he lavishes on us not just the fourth Thursday in November, but every day of our lives. nw

 

This week’s tip:  Slowing your roll with the Bible

As I finished journeying through the book of Daniel yesterday evening I found myself quite pensive.  What an adventure.  Below is what I posted this morning on social media.  As you disciple your class in regard to reading, studying and applying the scriptures, perhaps this will provide some perspective.  nw

I’ve read through the Bible numerous times and have always enjoyed reading through the book of Daniel.

But, there’s something about going verse-by-verse, slowly.  It’s like being on a road-trip you’ve been on numerous times, but this time stopping at every intersection, historical marker, and place of interest.  (I know that sounds like a horrible analogy. But, you get the picture.)

All of a sudden, although you’ve driven the route more times than you can count, you notice things you’ve never before seen.  And then those points of interest draw you in to discover the events that made them “points of interest.”

Since I began teaching expositionally (verse by verse) a few years ago on Wed. evenings, we’ve mined the treasures of, in addition to Daniel, each of the twelve minor prophets, John, Galatians, James, and Revelation.

I guess I’m sharing this to ask you to consider finding a book of the Bible – any book – and join its adventure into discovery.  Don’t get in a hurry (when teaching the gospel of John, we spent seven weeks in chapter one, alone.)  Find yourself a solid Study Bible.  Then, just soak it up, one passage at a time. 

Rather than feel as though you’re frantically trying to meet a deadline for how long it should take to finish reading, “slow your roll,” and stroll through “the countryside of the Kingdom.”  Stop often along the way to think deeply. (I’m reading the Bible through again during my daily devotions.  It took me a year and a half just to finish the Old Testament.)

Back to Daniel….

In his book, The Gospel According to Daniel, Bryan Chappell describes the life of Daniel as “a long obedience in the same direction.”

And, finally, you’ll be blessed by this comment on Daniel by the beloved teacher, Chuck Swindoll:

“From Daniel’s life and writings we learn that a person of integrity is a powerful instrument in the hand of God.  A life of integrity may lead us into a lion’s den of misunderstanding and ridicule.  But there’s nothing like the freedom and power that God gives those who are determined to do what is right (according to God’s definition of “right”), no matter what the cost.”

Love to you all, Nick

***For further perspective, see my blog, “Don’t Read the Bible Through in a Year,” here.

 

Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent conversation where the Christian faith is concerned.

“[Historically],There is a strong consensus today among scholars that Jesus thought of himself as an exorcist, a miracle-worker and God’s eschatological agent. Many likewise maintain that he was convinced he would die an imminent and violent death and subsequently would be vindicated by God…Graham Twelftree, perhaps the leading authority on the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus, has argued in several works that the evidence that Jesus was a miracle-worker is so strong that it is one of the best attested historical facts about Jesus.”  – Mike Licona, Ph.D., one of my professors

Indeed, even the Babylonian Talmud accuses Jesus of sorcery.  In short, the Jews were impotent to explain away Jesus’ miracles, so – as the writers of the gospels record – they simply attributed his power to Satan.

 

62-YARD FIELD GOALS & GOD

This is was too good not to share.  If you watched the end of Tech’s game this past Saturday against Iowa State you were, like me, certain the game was about to go into overtime.  But Tech’s kicker, Jonathan Garibay, knew better.  KCBD’s Pete Christy tweeted what Garibay posted after he made the record-breaking field goal, winning the game for the Red Raiders.

 

THIS RENDITION of AMAZING GRACE is PRETTY AMAZING

The man starts out slow but things get exciting beginning at the 1:24 mark culminating in him kicking the chair out from under him at the 2:00 mark.

Enjoy.

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE & UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Offices will be closed Wednesday, 11/22 at noon through Friday, 11/24.
  • 11/28 – Lottie Moon Offering emphasis
  • 12/5 – Silent Communion; 4-6pm
  • 12/8 – Children’s Ministry Family Night
  • 12/12 – Christmas Sing-along with the SonShiner Choir; 5pm

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK:

“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know that is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” – A.W. Tozer

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

A guy said to his buddy:  “My wife thinks I put football before marriage, even though we just celebrated our third season together.”

And, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday…

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Worship Wars

I have no clue why this post of mine was shared from my Facebook page almost 50 times.  Apparently, the topic still strikes a nerve.  The “war” has been raging for a while.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.11.21

Today, 11/11, is Veterans Day.  I met one of BHBC’s veterans this morning for coffee.  Find a veteran today and thank them for defending our freedom – freedom we far too often take for granted.

 

SUNDAY, 11/14

Guest preacher:  Jim Brown

Early service only:  A special “thank you” and prayer time for Tom (and Diane) Heath.  Tom begins his pastorate at FBC, Meadow, on Sunday, 11/21.

 

This week’s tip:  Prayer

**Please see this week’s Soul Food blog below.

 

IS JESUS “WOKE?”

In mainstream vernacular, “woke” basically means “be alert to, and aware of, injustices.”  But, since the chaos of 2020, the word has developed a much wider – and subjective – meaning.

Below is a post of mine from this past week in response to a Texas politician’s claim that “if Jesus were here today he would be woke.”

Sixty-year-old Democratic candidate for Texas lieutenant governor, Matthew Dowd, made national news yesterday when he tweeted that Jesus would be accused of being woke today (see his tweet below).

Dowd’s tweet was precipitated by Democrat strategist, James Carville, blaming “stupid wokeness” for his party’s surprising election defeat in Virginia last week.

Wow. Where do I even begin?

First, I would tell Dowd to change churches if that’s what he got out of the sermon.

Second, I would invite Dowd to do something he’s clearly never done: open his Bible and read the four biographies of Jesus.

In all four accounts, rather than enjoying increasing acceptance (from being woke), Jesus is the target of escalating hatred, vitriol, and disgust. Why is that?

Because Jesus said things – a lot of things – the ancient woke crowd found offensive, bigoted and intolerant.

For example, Jesus said his design for marriage is between a man and a woman. His own conception demonstrated that life begins at conception.  And he warned everyone of an eternity of torment in a devil’s hell if they did not confess him as God and Savior.

Does Jesus still sound “woke” to you, Mr. Dowd?

Mike Yaconelli used to say, “Everyone wants a ‘nice Jesus.’”

But Rome didn’t crucify people for being “nice.” (Or, in Dowd’s words, “treating everyone with respect and dignity.”)

Jesus didn’t merely treat people with respect and dignity.  He loved them (and us) as his priceless treasure.

However,…

Jesus was dangerous. He was fearless. He didn’t bow to the woke mob.  He didn’t shrink from the truth. He did not (could not) tolerate sin.

And they killed him for it.

In short, Dowd reduces Jesus to his own biased, subjective definition of “human decency and dignity.”  In other words, Dowd reduces Jesus to “a Jesus created in the image of Dowd.”

Dowd wants a Jesus who has no demands on his life, or disagreements with his opinions.

The Bible tells of no such Jesus.

nw

 

What follows is an excerpt by Peter Williams, Ph.D., Cambridge, from his book, ‘Can We Trust the Gospels?’ 

Are the New Testament Gospels (biographies of Jesus) manufactured legends and fake news?

No. Not even nearly.

There is much I could offer here. But allow me to offer insight from a professor describing himself as “agnostic with atheistic leanings.”

Bart Ehrman is a New Testament scholar – who does not believe Jesus is who he said he is. But even Ehrman writes,

“The oldest and best resources we have for knowledge about the life of Jesus…are the four Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”

Ehrman continues,

“This is simply not the view of Christian historians…; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity of every kind, from committed Christians to hardcore atheists.”

Further, it is rarely appreciated that for us to have four gospels is remarkable. That is an abundance of material to have about any individual of that period. In fact, even though Jesus was on the periphery of the Roman Empire, we have as many early sources about his life and teaching as we have about activities and conversations of Tiberius, emperor during Jesus’ public activities.

 

IS CHRISTIANITY THE FOOL’S RELIGION?

I drove by a storefront recently with a sign outside that took a cheap shot at Christians, insinuating we aren’t thinkers, gullible enough to believe just about anything.

I sat in a seminar once listening to Yale Law School grad – and former ardent atheist – Lee Strobel. It was years ago. I had never heard of him before.

He looked at us all intently and said with a confidence I rarely see from Christians,

“Christianity is an intelligent, defensible faith.”

Strobel confessed,

“To continue in atheism, I’d need to believe nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason.  I just didn’t have that much faith.”

Houston Baptist University New Testament professor, Jeremiah Johnston, created what he calls the Christian Thinkers Society. The slogan is: “Teaching thinkers to be Christians, and Christians to be thinkers.”

Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “examine the faith.”  Christ encourages one and all to put him under a microscope. Study him.  Analyze his claims. Try to explain away his miracles and resurrection. He’s not afraid.  Rather, he’s quite confident you will discover that he  is exactly who he claimed to be.

Think deeply, nw

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“The day will come when He will cleanse the earth from the Serpent’s slimy trail.” – Charles Spurgeon

Read the media and you’ll know (sort of) what’s happening in the world. Read the Bible and you’ll know why.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Police came to my house last night and told me my dogs were chasing people on bikes.

My dogs don’t even have bikes.

Actual signs:

  • On an electrician’s truck:  Let us remove your shorts.
  • On an optometrist’s office:  If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
  • On a fence:  Salesmen welcome!  Dog food is expensive.
  • At a car dealership:  The best way to get back on your feet – miss a car payment.
  • Outside a muffler shop:  No appointment necessary.  We heard you coming.

 

SOUL FOOD: A Prayer

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Navigator X-tra: 10.30.21

504 years ago tomorrow, a man fearless in his faith did something that could have well cost him his life.  And it almost did.

I touched on this in this week’s Navigator but felt compelled to add the following.

Historians call it “Reformation Day.”

Pastor/author, John MacArthur, is spot-on:

“Clearly, the greatest triumph to emerge from the Protestant Reformation was the Bible being placed into the hands of the people, in their own language.”

Why was placing the Bible in the hands of the people so important?  Because, in those days, unless you were wealthy or ranked highly within the clergy, you had no access to the written Word of God.  The clergy could tell you the Bible said whatever they wanted it to say.  (This is precisely why I exhort listeners to read and study the scriptures for themselves.  Don’t take a preacher’s or a teacher’s word for it any more than the Bereans didn’t take Paul’s word for it.)

Michelle and I have stood inside the very room in Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany, (see pic below) where the “outlaw”, Martin Luther, illegally translated Erasmus’ Greek New Testament into German, the language of the people.  This is when the Five Solas became the war-cry of the reformers.

NOTE: I, in no way, mean to romanticize Luther. Although used mightily by God during his lifetime, Luther was, like all of us, merely human and, thus, deeply flawed. Nonetheless, his story is, both, engrossing and inspiring, challenging any and all to become a responsible student of the Bible.

The reformation is a fascinating period of church history when “all heaven broke loose.”  As a result, Satan didn’t go quietly. Like the apostles of the New Testament, the men who championed putting scripture into the hands of all the people paid a high price, some being tortured and some executed.

At dinner one evening in the early 16th century, one Catholic scholar exclaimed that the word of the Pope superseded the Bible.  In response, the reformer, William Tyndale, fired back,

“I defy the Pope and all his laws. . . . If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.”

This cost Tyndale dearly.  Soon after, he was strangled and burned at the stake.  While dying, he cried out, “Lord, open the king of England’s eye.”

A half century later, God did just that as King James authorized the translation of the scriptures into English.

If interested, please permit me to recommend a few resources.  It’s a story fraught with danger, risk and sacrifice.

I placed the biographies and references in the below photo on top of the Bible since, if Luther were in my office today, would be filled with fury should I not make it perfectly clear that God’s Word, and God’s Word alone, is our sole standard for truth. As the reformers exclaimed, “Sola Scriptura!”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

The Navigator: 10.28.21

THIS SUNDAY, 10/31

  • In light of Sunday being Halloween, I strongly considered the church singing The Monster Mash and Thriller.  But, I decided against it.
    • Oct. 31st, for the Christian, has tremendous significance.  See below for why that day in history is important.
  • This Sunday’s service will be different than most.  The service will include the Lord’s Supper as well as an Ingathering related to our Debt Retirement Campaign, For the Kingdom.

 

The question is not only, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but also, “Was there strong Bible learning?”  This week’s tip:  Listening

Everyone knows that person who, when you try to have a conversation with them, they never stop talking.  You can’t say a word – because you never get a chance.

When talking to God, prayer is as much listening as it is talking.  Likewise, small-group teaching is as much listening as it is teaching.

As teachers, we tend to get into the rut of believing our job is to talk when it would behoove us to set aside time each week to listen to our class members.

In a teacher’s defense, many times no one in the class is confident enough to share openly.  But, I’ve learned over the years to let the silence to its work.  It’s in the silence that God’s children can finally hear his still, small whisper.  Many times, after about ten seconds of silence, I’ve seen people begin to open up.  It’s powerful.

And that’s where focused listening comes in.  I’m not talking about listening in a sense that we’re already formulating a response while they’re sharing.  But, just listening, taking in not only the words of the person, but their spirit, their joy and/or their pain.

Listening is a rare discipline today.

While Jesus was praying, Luke records God speaking to Jesus’ disciples in a thunderous voice, saying:

“This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

May we be good listeners.

 

It was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg.  He’d had his fill of the corruption within the Church of the Holy Roman Empire.  That said, October 31st is, by many people, referred to as “Reformation Day.”

Luther was merely one of the many courageous men who stood up to the manipulation, lies and half-truths of the church.  Some were executed, while others, like Luther, became an outlaw, always avoiding imprisonment.

In honor of Reformation Day, allow me to link here one of my blogs related to Luther’s famous statement, “Be a sinner, and sin boldly.” You can read the blog here.

 

R.E.A.L.

When I run across substantive articles in the news I like to pass them along to you.

Child sex trafficking is sick and demented.  But, it’s huge business for those who are sick and demented.

This article I saw on KCBD offers some resources for help should you ever be confronted with this topic.  Read the article here.

 

I shared this with my class on Daniel a couple of weeks ago for two reasons: (1) because the age of the wall dates back to 586 BC, which is the period of time in which Daniel is set, and (2) to remind them that, among the thousands of archaeological discoveries related to the Bible over the centuries, not a single one has contradicted Biblical history.

And that’s yet another reason to believe. Read the article here.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

Everyone has a worldview whether they admit it or not.

A worldview is a moral filter/conviction through which we decide what is right and what is wrong; what is true and untrue.  It informs and frames what we believe about ethics, religion, sexuality, the sanctity of life, politics and so on.

This is precisely why I often state I hold a “biblical worldview.”

In her outstanding book, Total Truth, author/professor, Nancy Pearcey, writes:

“Humans are inherently religious beings, created to be in a relationship with God – and if they reject God, they don’t stop being religious; they simply find some other ultimate principle upon which to base their lives…Faith is a universal human function, and if it is not directed toward God it will be directed toward something else.”

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE: Halloween Edition

First, we have a series of photos.  A “Haunted House” set up a still-shot camera to catch the reaction of people as they happen upon something that scares them half to death.  These are my favorites.  I laughed out loud.

And, a bonus…

 

SOUL FOOD:  Paranormal Activity: What the Bible says about Ghosts & things that go “bump in the night”

I wrote this blog years ago, but am always asked to re-post it this time of year. Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

The Navigator: 10.21.21

THIS SUNDAY, 10/24

  • Sammy will be encouraging our church as we prepare for “in-gathering day” on the 31st.

 

The question is not only, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but also, “Was there strong Bible learning?”  This week’s tip:  Sharing the Gospel

While reading an article about the venerable Coach Vince Lombardi this past week, the author made this observation about the coach:

“He made things simple for his players, by taking nothing for granted, repeating the same lessons to them over and over, every day, every year.”

Before anything else in a Christian’s life, there must first come a profession of faith in Christ.   As a godly shepherd, never assume (or, like Lombardi, “take for granted”) your sheep are (1) saved, and/or (2) know how to confidently share their faith.

So, every now and then:

Talk about it.  Share stories of when you’ve shared your faith.  Tell your story of how you came to faith in Christ.  And then take a moment to look at stories in scripture when the prophets, Jesus, Paul and the apostles were sharing the good news.

Finally, give them tools to help them share their faith.  Help them memorize the Roman Road as well as other scripture that will provide them with confidence to boldly and confidently share Christ’s love, truth and hope with others.

Sadly, the Gospel tends to be “the greatest story rarely told.”  Let’s help change that.

 

NYT best-selling author, Eric Metaxas, just released his book, Is Atheism Dead? (a play on Time Magazine’s 1966 cover article, “Is God Dead?”)

Metaxas thought deeply about Time Magazine’s question and sought a reasonable, rational and intelligent answer.  As he was investigating evidence for God being dead, he said he kept bumping into “outrageous evidence” for God being quite alive.

During his research, Metaxas, a brilliant man, observed that science, archaeology, and history all point to a divine Creator now more than ever.  Here’s one thing he said regarding cosmology:

Another food-for-thought you can pass along to your class to equip them to have intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned…

I see headlines like this from time to time:

Whenever someone says, “I believe the universe was created by aliens,” I simply reply, “So, you believe there’s an intelligence behind creation?”  (They usually don’t see that coming.) Then I attempt to visit about what intelligence makes the best sense of reality.

 

BLESSEDLY UNCOMPLICATED

I saw this on Twitter and loved it.  Salviander’s (an astrophysicist) observation is the antithesis of modernity’s back-breaking pace of life.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“People don’t abandon faith because they have doubts. People abandon faith because they think they’re not allowed to have doubts.” – Austin Fischer

And,…

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” – A.W. Tozer

And, a bonus…

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

And a bonus…

 

 

SOUL FOOD:  What to do when you and your teen-aged child drift far apart

For obvious reasons, I’ve written a great deal about student ministry over the years.  Perhaps you know someone that might need to read this week’s blog.  You can read it here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 10.13.21

THIS SUNDAY, 10/17

  • Sammy wraps up his series based on his vision for BHBC.  This week’s focus is “Go.”

 

Sunday, 10/17

  • Between Services and After the 10:45 Service IN THE COMMONS
  • Information About BHBC Ministries & Mission Opportunities will be Displayed!
  • You can also pick up OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD BOXES
  • One table will represent our small group ministry (Sunday School & Wed. evenings).
  • Should you have anything specific you would like for me to include let me know.

 

The question is not only, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but also, “Was there strong Bible learning?”  This week’s tip:  Spiritual Growth Inventory

Notice I didn’t say Spiritual GIFT Inventory, but rather Spiritual GROWTH Inventory.

I mentioned in a long-past, previous email how important it is to have realistic, reachable, measurable goals.  Most leaders find it easy to create realistic goals, but a solid “system of measure?” Not so much.

We’ve spent a good amount of time visiting in staff meetings about this very topic.  I would like to share the System of Measure our University Pastor, Shawn Coleman, has used for several years.

First, and very importantly, an inventory of one’s spiritual growth should be between God and the individual, private and confidential.  A Spiritual Growth Inventory is not designed to be shared or seen by any person other than the person who it concerns. Simply put, it’s between them/us and God.

Now, here’s Shawn’s System of Measure:

  1. At the beginning of each semester, Shawn hands out a sheet of paper and an envelope to each student.
  2. He asks the students to write down areas in their life in which they desire to see themselves grow in their Christian faith.  Perhaps they see a need to begin a spiritual discipline, or remove an area that is impeding their spiritual growth.
  3. He allows as much time as necessary for this, and encourages them to take it home and finish if necessary.
  4. He asks the students to seal the envelope and hand them in to him.  He simply keeps them in a safe place, unopened.
  5. At the close of the semester he distributes the still-sealed envelopes to the students so they can read them privately and take inventory of where they are in light of their desires expressed a few months prior.

One caveat: Because of society’s ethos for “works-based approval” i.e. “If I perform well enough, I am love and have value,” any Spiritual Growth Inventory can potentially turn legalistic.  Help your class understand the doctrine of grace without compromising devotion and spiritual discipline.  God’s love for us is not based on what we do and don’t do – God’s love for us is fixed, inexorably, on Christ’s work on the Cross.  But, God longs for us to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.”  This is a command, not a suggestion.

So, consider this System of Measure.  And, if the Holy Spirits leads, implement it.

 

WE ALL HAVE THEM: Ministries we neither asked for nor wanted.

Is it really possible?  Can God bring miraculous glory out of unspeakable pain?

You bet he can.  If we’ll let him.  (Everyone of the biblical prophets will testify to this being true.)

I have two quick, personal examples I am strongly convicted to share with you:

  • Dallas Baptist University:  Jonathan Mansur is a youth pastor friend of mine (he’s now lead pastor at FBC, Willow Park, near Ft. Worth).  Jonathan and I served at Super Summer (a huge youth camp) on the campus of HSU in Abilene together for several years.  He is a cherished friend. This past Spring, he texted me with the link I’ve provided for you below.  It’s the testimony of a young man named Carey Williams, a former student of Jonathan’s, during chapel at DBU. If you would listen to what Carey says beginning at the 22:40 mark and listening until the 28:30 mark (only 6 minutes), you will (1) hear Carey’s brutally honest story of holding a gun to his head, and (2) better understand how making the difficult choice to accept a “ministry we never wanted” can change the world.  Listen to Carey’s story here.
  • Lubbock Christian University:  I have enjoyed attending the Lanier Lectures at LCU.  They continue to bring in renowned, engaging and relevant speakers.  The first time I attended, I listened to Oxford’s Alister McGrath.  And just yesterday evening, 10/12, I listened to professor/author/apologist, Dr. Paul Copan, who holds the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy & Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  I have four of Copan’s books so I was very interested in hearing him.  The venue was full.  And his lecture was outstanding.  After his lecture I was headed back to my car, but the Holy Spirit kept telling me, “Go introduce yourself to Dr. Copan.”  I did not want to.  But, I did.  He was so kind and personable.  I very quickly shared how Jesus used Christian apologetics to help me find my way back “home” after my son took his life.  He looked at me and said,
    • “I speak to so many people who have suffered so much pain in so many different ways. Could I have your contact information and use you as a resource? There are people I come in contact with that you will be able to help better than I can.”

  • I stood there in stunned disbelief. And then said yes. He graciously allowed me to get a photo with him. Have you suffered in life? (Of course, you have.) Stand back and watch God use it for the saving of many lives. Only God can give this kind of purpose to our pain.

 

Well, why not use a comment Dr. Copan stated during his lecture?

During opening comments, Copan addressed neo-atheist/author, Daniel Dennett.  Dennett is famous for his book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.  Copan said,

“Dennett asserts that anything that is not scientifically verifiable is not true.  Of course, his assertion is self-defeating since it cannot be verified scientifically.  To be clear, Dennett’s statement is not scientific, but philosophical.”

Science is necessarily agnostic.  It offers no opinion as to whether or not God exists.  What science does is provide information – evidence.  And the evidence is overwhelming for the existence of God.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

This week’s first quote is short – yet profound.  For all facing uncertain or unsettling seasons of life.  From Lewis’ Chronicles

I’m currently reading Jared Wilson’s, The Gospel According to Satan: Eight Lies About God That Sound Like Truth.  In a world of rampant relativism, biblical truth is in short supply.  Satan knows the Bible cover to cover. As such, he is a master at subtly twisting its meaning, including just enough truth to make it sound right.  He operates no differently today than he did in Eden: “Did God really say?…” But, we all know that a half-truth is still a whole lie.

“Before there was death, there was the lie. But before the lie, there was the Liar.” – Jared Wilson; The Gospel According to Satan

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

This one never gets old.  I laugh at it every time I see it.

 

SOUL FOOD:  How to silence a fool

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick