The Navigator: 7.15.21

NOTE:  Next Navigator will be published on August 5th.

 

THIS SUNDAY, 7/18

  • Sammy concludes his series from the Psalms, using chapter 51 as his text.  This is David’s cry for mercy and forgiveness after being confronted by Nathan about his sin of adultery and murder.

 

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

Much damage and misinformation can occur as a result of lazy preparation.  If you were preparing for an important interview or public debate you would make certain you knew your stuff.  The same level of responsibility applies to teaching the Bible.

After prayer (the most critical aspect of biblical teaching), historical, cultural and literary context play a vital role in helping your listeners better understand what the text meant to its original audience.  You are then given tremendous insight into how to translate the text into modern culture.

In his book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, R.C. Sproul counseled,

“If we can identify the author, his chief purpose, as well as his intended audience, this goes a long way in helping us understand their teaching with greater accuracy.”

And, one theologian offered insight into the commitment one must have when preparing to teach:

Working in a text means discerning its literary structure, intelligently created by the original authors, to communicate to an audience that would have seen what they were doing. If that sounds like work, it is.

Providing context helps a 21st century audience use their imagination to, for example, hear the bleating of the sheep David is shepherding, to feel the dust of those 1st century Palestinian roads, to hear the march of Roman soldiers, and to look over the shoulder of Jesus visiting with Nicodemus.

 

PRAY FOR OUR FIRST-RESPONDERS

Some of you may not know that our University Pastor, Shawn Coleman, is also a Federal Fire Fighter. As such, he spends the summers in Arizona fighting fires. You’ve no doubt read in the news about the historic heat wave/drought plaguing the western part of the U.S. which is fueling the spread of these infernos.

Below is a photo Shawn sent of one fire they’ve been fighting.  This will give you insight into the earthly hell these brave men are fighting.

A few days ago, Shawn sent the following message. It made national news. He gave me permission to share it. My heart breaks for the families. Please lift them all to Jesus.

From Shawn:

“Two of my guys died yesterday when their plane crashed on a fire outside of Wickieup, AZ. We are dealing with their loss and the NTSB investigation today. We are also clearing out their personal items from the base. Not an easy day. Matt Miller was the pilot and Jeff Piechura was the Air Attack.”

 

GOT QUESTIONS?

I can’t remember if I’ve recommended to you a solid web site called Got QuestionsYou can access it here, and type in almost any conceivable question about the Christian worldview to find good food-for-thought.  Great resource for your studies and preparation.

Recently, they posted, ‘What are the most famous/questions in the Bible?’  Not questions about the Bible, but in the Bible.  Thought you might enjoy reading it.  Click here to read the article.

 

APPROACHING A KING

The ancient rule of approaching a king is demonstrated for us in the story of Esther: to approach without being invited likely incurred a death sentence.  This was serious business.

Through Jeremiah, God warns,

“I will invite him to approach me.  For who would dare to come unless invited?”

Given this historical context, the quote below by Tim Keller is awe-inspiring:

Because of the Cross, the veil that separated us from God was removed.

Indeed, Paul celebrated,

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

This is why the author of Hebrews could write,

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,…

 

THE IMAGINATION OF GOD

The atlas moth has wings that mimic two cobras watching her back.

 

SEEN ON TWITTER

Atheists: There is no magical man in the sky

Christians: What a coincidence! We don’t believe that either.

 

BIBLICAL KARMA

Even non-Christians are familiar with Paul’s warning to the Galatians: “you reap what you sow.”

But, many don’t fully understand that the scriptures are replete with this principle.  For example:

“I will bring on them the evil they have done to others, and they will receive the punishment they so richly deserve.”

 

JUST SO YOU KNOW

Personally, I have no problem with the cost of this suit.  Want me to stand on the moon?  My suit better not be purchased at JC Penney.

 

Friendly reminder: Please mark your calendar for Sunday evening, October 3rd; 6pm, in our FLC.  Spouses are invited. 

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

I heard a preacher one time say, “A lot of Christians say ‘I’m being attacked by the devil’ when in reality they’re under God’s judgment.”  I’ve never forgotten that.

“People swear they’re fighting demons, when they’re actually fighting the consequences of their own choices.”

And,…

“There would be no sense in saying you trusted Jesus if you would not take his advice.” – C.S. Lewis

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

This is soooo true…

 

SOUL FOOD:  Nowhere to Run to – Nowhere to Hide

Just typing out this blog gave me chills.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

The Navigator: 7.8.21

THIS SUNDAY, 7/11

  • Sammy continues his sermon series in the Psalms.  It’s been wonderful.  If you’re out of town be sure to catch it online.

 

 

OCC (Older Children’s Camp)

  • Pray for Dana Kluzek and her team as they head out to Fort Lone Tree (outside Capitan, NM) for a week of intense Bible learning, and intense fun.  They leave Monday, July 12th.

 

STRENGTH FROM SCRIPTURE

“Lord, you are my STRENGTH and FORTRESS, my REFUGE in the day of trouble.” – Jeremiah 16:19

  1. Let God be your STRENGTH when you feel week.
  2. Let God be your FORTRESS when enemies come against you.
  3. Let God be your REFUGE when you need to retreat from life’s pressures.

 

MINISTRY FATIGUE

You don’t have to be a vocational pastor to experience ‘ministry fatigue.’  As long as you are helping others to be more like Christ (this would include you) you will be on Satan’s ‘hit list.’

“Fatigue as a way of life is really a way of death.” – Douglass Groothuis

Burn-out is real. It’s dangerous, and should be taken seriously.

I’ve been in full-time, vocational ministry, for almost four decades.  And I can look back and see seasons of my life when I truly didn’t think I was going to make it to the end. The mental, emotional, and spiritual fatigue affected every single area of my life.

I have a couple of Dr. Groothuis’ books. He is a sharp-minded and wise philosopher. I thought this article was solid.

Never forget: ‘being precedes doing.’  You can’t give what you don’t have. This is what Jesus meant when he said,

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

If you ever need a ‘sabbath’ from teaching let me know immediately. 

Are you weary and worn out in your life? Groothuis offers some sage counsel.  Read his article here.

 

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CONTRADICTION BETWEEN SCIENCE & FAITH

There is absolutely no contradiction between science and Christian faith.  Those who would try to confuse you in this area are impotent to do so.

“I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos.  There has to be some organizing principle.  God, to me, is a mystery.  But, is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.” – Allan Sandage; American astronomer; Staff Member Emeritus with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. He determined the first reasonably accurate values for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe.

Whether God exists, or not, is a theological and philosophical question, not a scientific question.  Sure, the scientific disciplines serve as evidence one way or another, but, as I’ve said numerous times, God can neither be proved nor disproved in a laboratory.  The more appropriate context would be a courtroom.

We are saved by faith, but not blind faith.

Think deeply, nw

 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Here’s a whale of a tale. (Just in case you missed it.)

Michael Packard, a Cape Cod lobster diver, made headlines all over the world.  And, of course, his story drew multiple references to the  Old Testament story of Jonah. Read the story here.

 

SOUL FOOD:  Christian ‘De-conversions’

On Thursday night, while watching a show about alligators in the Florida Everglades, I jotted out a social media post about “decontruction/de-converting from” Christianity.  Surprisingly, at least to me, there was strong interest in topic, being shared almost 40 times last time I looked.  So, what do we make of people who say, “I was a Christian.  But, now I’m not”?  Let’s see what the Bible says.  Read the blog here.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The penalty which Christ endured was not a mitigated penalty for sin, but the whole weight of God’s wrath fell on him. He was treated as a thing accursed, for he was made a curse for us; made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – Spurgeon

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

You know you’re in a country church if over half your congregation thinks a cantata is an entree at Taco Bell.

 

The Navigator: 7.1.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 7/4

  • Sammy continues his summer series in the Psalms.
  • One Sunday School hour at 9:15; one combined worship service at 10:45.
  • FYI – room assignments are changing for some:  Beginning July 11th, Special Friends (9:15) will meet in Rm. 109.  Open Door (10:45) will meet in Rm. 109.  The Ladies’ Class (10:45) will meet in Rm. 110.
  • This Sunday, 7/4, due to the schedule-change, Open Door will meet in the Worship Center.
  • Also, continue to pray for our Youth Pastor Search Team.

 

The question is not only, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but also, “Was there strong Bible learning?”

Since I’ve been out a couple of weeks, this week’s Teaching/Learning Tip of the Week is a ‘Triple Dose’:  ‘Shallow Theology’, ‘Systematic Theology’, and ‘A Warning’.

First, a word I posted recently on my Facebook Page:

  • To my fellow pastors (this includes teachers. The biblical word ‘pastor’ means ‘shepherd’ i.e. anyone who leads God’s sheep.)
  • Quote below is by Dustin Benge:

Shallow theology inevitably produces:

    • shallow preaching/teaching,
    • shallow worship,
    • shallow counseling,
    • shallow ministry,
    • shallow lives.
  • Study hard. Pray fervently. Preach and teach boldly and with love.

Second, What is the Value of Systematic Theology?

  • Don’t let a big theological term like Systematic Theology scare you off.  As I’ve blogged before, every Christian is a theologian.  It’s just that some make a career out of it.
  • Paul was a systematic theologian.  In a message sent to the believers in Ephesus, Paul wrote, For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose and plan of God.”
  • The “whole purpose/plan/counsel” – not just cherry-picked passages. In simpler terms, it’s “interpreting scripture in light of scripture.”  It’s precisely why I always provide parallel/affirming biblical passages when preaching/teaching a particular primary text.  In short, it’s allowing God to be the primary commentator on his Word.
  • Linked here for you is a solid article on this topic by author, Randy Alcorn.  Please do me a favor and read it when you have time.  It’s my desire that our teaching faculty be the best trained, most responsible teacher/shepherds around.  From the article:
    • Systematic theology is “what God has to say about [a particular] subject in His Word.” It requires that we examine the whole counsel of God, the larger picture, lest we leave out something vital that is not recorded in Titus or Hebrews or Joshua or Proverbs (or whatever book may partially address a given issue). Ours shouldn’t be just a view based on a single passage or book of Scripture, but based on the whole counsel of God, which offers us checks and balances that we would not be aware of from a single book or chapter or paragraph of Scripture.

  • You can read the entire article here.

Third, a warning for those who shepherd God’s sheep.

I am presently in Jeremiah in my daily devotionals/quiet times.  The southern kingdom, Judah, is conquered and taken to Babylon during the time of Jeremiah’s ministry.  A primary cause of Judah’s abhorrent sin was the corrupt leadership of their “pastors/shepherds of the day.”  Many of the Old Testament prophets announce judgment on corrupt religious leadership.

Here’s one pericope from Jeremiah 23:1-4,

“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord.  Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them… Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!

Wow.  Think God takes pastoring/shepherding seriously?

Linked here is the remainder of the passage cited above.  Reading these passages and hiding them in our heart will continue to remind us all what James, the half brother of Jesus, would write some 6 centuries later:

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Stay humble.  Pastor responsibly, and by example.

 

WORLD NEWS:  IRAN

It’s these types of headlines that fly under the North American cultural radar that should be noted by us all.  Read the article from the Jerusalem Post here.

 

OBJECTIVE MORALITY

I recently saw this quote on social media:

“If the Bible calls it a sin, our opinion doesn’t really matter.”

Can you imagine if every individual on planet earth was given the right to decide what is right and what is wrong? (That’s sorta going on right now, right? It always has.)

Those who hold a “everyone should have their own opinion of what’s right and wrong/what’s true for you doesn’t mean it’s true for me” have never thought this through to its logical end.

Based on that logic – Mother Teresa was right, but so was Hitler.  Gandhi was right, but so was Pol Pot. Your morals are right, but so is Boko Haram’s. And so on. There is either one standard for right and wrong, or there are many.  You can’t have it both ways.

Everyone’s got a subjective standard which is relative to their particular worldview, which is why God has given us objective morality based on his standards, not ours.

NOTE: For an in-depth consideration for objective morality – and its argument for the existence of God – I strongly recommend C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Abolition of Man.’  If interested, further insight into Lewis’ work is tackled by one of my former professors, Oxford’s Michael WardAfter Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man.

 

STRANGE BUT TRUE: A Whale of a Tale

Just in case you missed it, linked here is the real-life story of Cape Cod diver, Michael Packard’s, harrowing adventure inside a whale a couple of weeks ago off the coast of Massachusetts. Read the story here.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The penalty which Christ endured was not a mitigated penalty for sin, but the whole weight of God’s wrath fell on him. He was treated as a thing accursed, for he was made a curse for us; made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – Spurgeon

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

You know you’re in a country church if over half your congregation thinks a cantata is an entree at Taco Bell.
SOUL FOOD:  The Hardest Prayers to Pray
So, as I was writing the other day I thought to myself, “What was the very first blog I ever wrote?” Written in 2007, here it is.  Read the blog here.

 

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 6.10.2021

NOTE:  Due to out-of-town commitments, there will be no Navigator E-News the next two weeks.  Next Navigator will be published on July 8th.

THIS SUNDAY, 6/13

  • This Sunday, Sammy begins a summer series from the Psalms .  Can’t wait!
  • As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite chapter in the Bible is Luke 15.  But, my favorite book is the Psalms, having spent a considerable part of my adult life in these visceral lyrics. One of my seminary professors said, “A psalm is, by definition, mankind’s response to God’s activity in their life.” That’s why the Psalms cover the gamut of human emotion. The Psalms are intended to be sung, sometimes referred to as ‘Israel’s hymnbook.’ The Psalms are poetry. In his Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis, said, “If we have any taste for poetry we shall enjoy the Psalms.”  Join us as we mine the treasures of the Psalms.
  • Maps & Lists: continue to prayerfully consider your evangelistic/missional maps and lists.  Remember, before you talk to a person about Jesus, talk to Jesus about that person.
  • VBS – We’ve got 3 more Wed. evenings!  Keep praying.  Keep serving.
  • FYI – Larry Viaille’s 10:45 class will be combining with Tom Heath’s 10:45 class on 6/20 & 6/27 due to Tom being out.  They will meet in the Youth Room.

 

We’ve planned and had to reschedule this twice.  So, I’m hoping ‘third time’s a charm.’

The longer I serve along side you, the more grateful I become for your love for Christ, his Word, and his people.

**Please mark your calendar for Sunday evening, October 3rd; 6pm, in our FLC.  Spouses are invited. 

 

Our next workshop will be Sunday afternoon, August 15th; 4-5pm in Room 108.

  • Last time we looked at the Art of Welcoming and the first Law of the Learner.
  • This time, we’ll succinctly tackle the remaining Laws.
  • Additionally, I’ll be handing out to you resources I believe will further equip you for this assignment God has given you: to teach his Word and shepherd his sheep.
  • Lastly, I’ll provide details for our Fall emphasis as a church.  See ‘On the Horizon’ below.

The question is not, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but rather, “Was there strong Bible learning?”

Teaching/Learning Tip of the Week:  ‘Sabbath’

**Humor me as we get a little theology out of the way to provide context.

It’s an interesting hermeneutic.  Within the 10 Commandments, the only commandment that has taken on expanded nuance under the New Covenant is No. 4: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it (set it apart as) holy.

According to the Old Testament Law, the Sabbath was Saturday, which is why the followers of Jesus asked if they could take Jesus’ dead body and quickly place it in a tomb before the Sabbath began.  And, until Jesus rose on Sunday, Saturday was the day Jews assembled in the synagogues to “have church.” The Seventh Day Adventists still rigidly hold to Saturday being the Sabbath.

All the gospel writers record stories of the religious leaders being infuriated at Jesus’ approach to the Sabbath.  “How dare he ‘do stuff (even miracles) and live life as normal’ on the Sabbath!? We’ve got rules!!”  The religious leaders had made the Sabbath more like bondage, creating endless ‘addendums’, informing people what they could, and couldn’t do, on the Sabbath.

But, Jesus made it clear to the religious leaders that they had completely misinterpreted the 4th Commandment.  And, they were furious that he would dare challenge them, even setting himself up as God, claiming to be ‘Lord of the Sabbath.’

This is precisely why Paul, from prison, reminded his readers,

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

So, is the Sabbath a ‘day’ of the week?  Sunday,  being the day of the week we gather to worship corporately notwithstanding (because Jesus was raised on a Sunday), no – it isn’t.  Biblical sabbath is a lifestyle.  Sure, we must set aside time to allow our bodies and minds to refuel and recharge; and set aside time to worship Christ, allowing him to renew our minds But, biblical sabbath is more than that.  Much more.

Years ago, I read Mark Buchanan’s ‘The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath.’  Buchanan observes,

“Most of us feel utterly ransacked.  We are waylaid by endless demands and stifling routines.  Even our vacations have a panicky, task-like edge to them.  We’ve forgotten the ancient wisdom of Sabbath, rooted in God’s own rhythm of work and rest. Sabbath restores our bent and withered parts.  The gift of Sabbath is essential to our full humanity and faith.  Knowing that, God made it a command.  We’ve neglected it anyhow.  We’ve lost the rest of God.”

Sabbath does not necessarily insinuate inactivity.  Personally, I typically walk around when I pray.  During times of leisure (which may even include work), we can still experience Sabbath, taking moments to focus on Christ and meditate upon his Word. (For a wonderful testimony to this truth, read Practicing the Presence of God by the 17th century, French monk, Brother LawrencePresently, the Kindle edition is available on Amazon for less than $3.)

So, this week’s teaching/learning tip is to ask God to restore ‘Sabbath’ in your own life.  The old adage is true:  “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket.”  Is your bucket empty?  Is your reservoir bone-dry?  Do you suffer from chronic exhaustion.  Rediscover Sabbath in your life – the rest of God.

 

ON THE HORIZON

On September 12th (the first Sunday after Labor Day), there will be no Sunday School.  Rather, we will all gather in the worship center at 9:15 to hear Jerry Joplin, and then at 10:45 to hear D.L. Lowrie.  You will hear about the rationale behind this event in the coming days.  I am confident you will be as excited as I am.

 

Pastoral staff searches never go as fast as we would like.  But, you never want to rush God.  That said, our Youth Pastor Search Team has been meeting and praying.  Please continue to lift them to Christ.  God has already chosen our next Youth Pastor.  Pray the team (and BHBC) would be good listeners, sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Purely naturalistic scientists won’t admit this, but modern science was founded by deeply committed Christian scientists.  (I happen to have just completed the chapter on this topic in Steven Meyer’s ‘The God Hypothesis’.)

I have read numerous scholars representing various scientific disciplines, as well as follow a few of them on Twitter.  One person I follow is, former atheist, Sarah Salviander, Ph.D. in Astrophysics.  She writes,

“Contrary to modern mythology, the rise of modern science was not inevitable. If it was merely part of the natural progression of civilization, we would’ve had it thousands of years ago. But it arose rather late in the game, in the 17th century, in Christian Europe.”

What does Dr. Salviander mean here?  Meyer, mentioned above, notes,

“It was during the lives of philosophers and scientists such as Bacon, DeCartes, Kepler, Boyle, and Newton that the term ‘laws of nature’ began to emerge.”  (Of course, Aquinas had affirmed this centuries before.)

Salviander makes the point that there have been intelligent people for millennia.  Why was it not until just a few centuries ago that science gained traction and made such advances?  Because, all of a sudden, scientists collectively realized there were ‘laws of nature,’ and, logically, this suggests a ‘law maker,’ which buoyed their curiosity. It was this common pursuit of investigating these laws that catapulted scientific discovery into the modern age.

Salviander concludes,

“Belief that the universe was designed and created by a transcendent intelligence, that nature is thus orderly, lawful, and knowable, is not only not contradictory to science, it was necessary to give rise to science in the first place.”

For those of you who are interested, Dr. Salviander has provided one of her lectures titled, The Christian Foundation of Modern Science.  You can read her lecture  here. (Just advance the slides.)

 

IN THE NEWS: from the L.A. Times…

Boy, can you imagine the poor guy who has to follow Rick Warren as pastor?  The Warren’s have been used of God is so many ways.  And the story of how he ended up in southern California decades ago is powerful. Read the article here.

 

ANYONE NEED A STOOL?

I have an extra stool for anyone who might like one for their classroom.  Just let me know!

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

And,…

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Prov 13:20). Who are you reading, listening to, or investing time with this week?” – Richard Ross 

Since I’ll be out the next two weeks, how about one more?

There’s more gossip passed around under the guise of ‘prayer requests’ than anything I know. – Jimmy Draper

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Oh man, this made me laugh out loud…

And, this one…

Oh why not?  Here’s one more…

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Imagination of God

Have you ever considered our imagination being a part of being created in God’s image?  I hadn’t until just a few years ago.  It was a paradigm shift.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 6.3.2021

THIS SUNDAY, June 6th

  • Observance of the Lord’s Supper in both services.
  • Deacons Meeting; 3pm

 

Congrats to Dana Kluzek and her team! Wed evening’s inaugural event was a resounding success.

As Dana and I were visiting today about the event we agreed that, by far, the best advertisement is ‘word of mouth.’  I would be shocked if our attendance didn’t increase next Wed evening as word gets around about how wonderful this is.

  • When? Each Wed. evening in June.; 6-8pm
  • Who? K-6th grade PLUS families (see below)
  • Each evening begins with a meal in our Family Life Center at 6pm.
  • Another new aspect of VBS: we’re encouraging families to come and attend together. Parents! Come sit in with your children!  What a joy it will be to learn together.

 

23 adults & teens are headed for Lone Tree Ranch just outside Capitan, NM, next Monday, the 7th.  It was at youth camp where I committed my life to vocational ministry.  There’s just something about separating from the chaos of life, putting life on ‘pause’ and being able to really listen to Christ’s ‘still, small voice.’

Pray for safety and a mighty moving of the Holy Spirit.  Below is a photo of Lone Tree’s worship center against a breathtaking sunset and mountains in the distance.  Gorgeous place.  I took many students there over the years and saw God do amazing things.

 

 

The question is not, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but rather, “Was there strong Bible learning?”

Teaching/Learning Tip of the Week:  ‘Rules of Engaging Guests’

Sure, there are some who prefer anonymity when it comes to visiting a church.  But there are many who would love to just be noticed and assured they are welcome and that BHBC is a safe place to be themselves.

We covered ‘The Art of Welcoming’ a few weeks ago in our Sunday afternoon workshop (you can review it here).  As I mentioned, most churches don’t intentionally ignore guests.  We’ve just forgotten what it felt like to be a guest i.e. isolated, insecure, confused as to where things are located, etc.  Add to this the supernatural truth that ‘the last place Satan wants a person to feel comfortable is at church’ and it’s easy to see why many people choose not to return to a church after they’ve visited.

Welcoming people must be intentional, deliberate and strategic.  (I can promise you that Satan is certainly being intentional, deliberate and strategic on his end.)  But we’ve got Christ on our side.  And that makes all the difference.

After seeing the good, the bad and the ugly for over 38 years, there’s a great deal I could offer here.  But, for brevity, please just keep in mind that when the Great Shepherd leads someone to our flock He’s expecting us, as under-shepherds, to take care of them.  This means noticing them, engaging with them, asking them questions, etc.  I am not referring to a level of ‘social suffocation’ here.  As my workshop to which I referred earlier states, there is an ‘art’ to effective welcoming.

Most churches don’t welcome well.  May this never be said of BHBC.

All of that said, this topic was once again brought to mind when I saw the following ‘rules of engagement’ on my Twitter feed.  Give theses ‘rules’ some thought.

  1. An alone person in our gathering is an emergency.
  2. Friends can wait.
  3. Introduce a newcomer to someone else.

By the way, the best and most fruitful way to teach your class to be great ‘welcomers’ is to lead by example.  You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are. nw

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?  Part 2 of 2

***A follow-up to last week’s Part 1.

Consider the following statements.  How would you respond?

I am an atheist.  I am not an atheist because it’s cool. I am not an atheist because of religious extremism or oppression in some depraved corners of the world.  I’m not an atheist because I believe science can disprove God. 

I’m an atheist because of one simple fact: the burden of proof lies on religion.  If you propose the existence of something you must follow the scientific method in your defense of its existence.  Otherwise, I have no reason to listen to you.

The Bible is clear:  “be ready to give a logical defense (apologia) of your faith, BUT do this *with gentleness and respect*.” (1 Peter 3:15)

God never meant this as a suggestion.  Rather, it is a command. (Which is one of the reasons I continue to, hopefully, arm you with tools that help you to have intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.) And remember, our goal is never to ‘win an argument’, but to win a friend, regardless of if we end up agreeing, or not.

How would I respond?  With something like this: (obviously, I wouldn’t ‘talk over’ my friend.  They would be allowed to interrupt anytime and ask anything they wanted.)

“My friend, clearly you are a critical thinker.  As such, I can tell you have given a great deal of thought about your chosen worldview.  I respect you for that deeply.  Would you permit me to respond to your statement?  (If all they want to do is argue and make condescending remarks, just thank them for their time and excuse yourself, as they have no interest in hearing your opinion.  But, let’s assume they kindly make this allowance, and are willing to have civil discourse.)

“I see you are respectful of science.  I’m thrilled to hear that because I am, as well.  So, let’s take your thesis to its logical end.

“Let me ask you a question?  Can science *prove* love exists?  Hate? Jealousy? How about objective beauty?  Morality? Of course not. We observe these emotions through evidence by means of behavior. So, would you agree there are elements of life and existence that are beyond the purview of science?  I think every honest scientist would agree science can’t prove everything.  The very statement, ‘Only science can discover truth’ is self-defeating since this assertion cannot be proven scientifically.

“Hence, respectfully, and logically, your statement, ‘The burden of proof lies on religion…[using] the scientific method’ is clearly flawed.

“So, we are directed not to *proof*, but rather to *evidence*.  From the laboratory to the court room, if you will.  Now, this is an interesting intellectual intersection.  But, even Plato’s Socrates affirmed mankind “must follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

“So, it comes down not to either side shouldering a burden of proof, but both sides carefully and honestly considering the evidence for their chosen worldview.

“Sure, there are scientists such as biologist, Richard Dawkins (who gets a lot of press) who describes the universe as ‘pitiful indifference.’  And anyone certainly has the freedom to ascribe to that opinion.  But, in my opinion, the more science discovers about the beginning and fine-tuning of the universe, the more it sounds (to me) like the beginning of the book of Genesis and passages like the one we find in Colossians 1:15-17.  Further, I agree with former atheist and Oxford scientist, Alister McGrath, who said, in his days of atheism, he discovered Christianity simply made better sense of reality.

“Of course, neither of us will find out what’s true until the nanosecond after we die.  But, based on what I consider overwhelming evidence from cosmology, teleology, biology and the historical reliability of the New Testament, I am, as Martin Luther once confessed, “captive to the Word of God” due to my convictions based on the evidence produced by the scientific disciplines to which I just referred. Frankly, I’ve tried to un-do the evidence for God’s existence, but failed.  Miserably.

“If I’m wrong, I lose nothing.  But, according to the Bible, if you’re wrong, you lose everything.  I don’t say this to scare you, but to let you know what the Bible says about ‘life after life’, and give you something to, perhaps, think about.

“Using philosophical reductionism – reducing our worldviews down to their smallest/quantum arguments for being true – you and I both hold to ‘faith worldviews.’  You can’t *prove* God doesn’t exist.  And I can’t *prove* God does exist.  Any proclamation on this topic from science – in either direction – ceases to be a statement from science (the physical/natural) and quickly becomes a statement from philosophy and/or theology (the metaphysical/supernatural).

“Along with many former ardent atheists, as well as Ph.D’s presently teaching everywhere from MIT to Harvard to Stanford, I’m placing my faith ‘where I believe the evidence clearly leads.’

As former atheist and Yale Law School grad, Lee Strobel, once wrote, “To continue in atheism, I would need to believe that nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I simply didn’t have that much faith.”

“Now, if you have time, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Or, we can pick up our convo another time.  But first, let’s get refills of our robust, warm beverages.  Also, I’d love to know about your family and what you like to do in your spare time.  Ever heard of Elvis Presley?…”

 

WHAT DO THE ‘OTHER GUYS’ HAVE TO SAY?

You’ve, no doubt, heard (whether you’ve wanted to, or not) of the leaders of contemporary atheistic thought.  They spend their time assaulting any and all claims of the Christian faith – and have sold millions of books doing so.  They’re loud and, as such, receive the lion’s share of media attention.  But, what do the other guys have to say?  Are there Christian scholars of the various disciplines of science who would disagree with the militant atheists?  Oh, there are many.

For instance,…

The neo-atheists, so belligerently hostile to the Christian faith, along with ‘internet atheists’ whose arguments are embarrassingly fallacious, can be quite intimidating to the modern-day Christians since, rather than having interest in civil and respectful discourse, they enjoy assaulting anyone’s character brave enough to offer an opposing opinion.

As these ‘evangelists for atheism’ bombard the air waves with a message that equates the Christian faith with being a village idiot, it’s encouraging for Christians to know there are thousands of scholars, both now and throughout history, who have, for good reason, chosen to place their faith in Christ.  They applied their critical thinking to the evidence for and against theism.  Then, they bravely considered the words of Plato’s Socrates: “follow the evidence wherever it leads.”  The evidence led every one of them to placing their faith in the risen Christ.

Here is a 6-minute video containing brief comments from all of the scholars listed above.  You can view the video clip here.

As an added bonus, below is 7-minute video about how God used cosmology to bring once-hostile-atheist, Lee Strobel, to faith in Christ.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

I posted what follows on social media recently.  To help provide context to the quote I offered the following:

I am not a professional counselor. What I can do is offer ‘pastoral/biblical counseling.’ And Christ has given me many opportunities to do so.

During every counseling session I, at some point, make the statement,

“I am here to remind you of what is true.’  Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’   Further, His truth can not only set us free eternally, but psychologically and emotionally, as well.’” (This is never intended to invalidate those who require professional counseling and/or medication.)

When Jesus was given the full force of all the devil could throw at him in the temptation narratives, what did Jesus respond with? Biblical truth. And the devil, having no defense against it, ran.

So, that’s why the following quote by author/counselor, Neil Anderson, is so very powerful:

“Freedom from spiritual conflicts and bondage (lying, sexual sin, gossip, unforgiveness, anger, greed, etc.) is not a power encounter; it’s a truth encounter. Satan is a deceiver, and he will work undercover at all costs. But the truth of God’s Word exposes him and his lies. His demons are like little cockroaches that scurry for the shadows when the Light comes on. Satan’s power is in the lie, and when his lie is exposed by the truth, his plans are foiled.” – Neil Anderson; The Bondage Breaker

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

To borrow a phrase from Jeff Foxworthy, “I am American by birth.  I am southern by the grace of God.”  (Can i get a witness?)

And, a bonus…

 

SOUL FOOD:  Are we bodies or souls?

Those with a biblical worldview will find this an easy question to answer.  But, what would you offer someone who is honestly asking this question when mere Bible verses aren’t going to initially help?  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.27.2021

“The greatest negative issue with the church today is not sin, it’s boredom. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer ‘good news’, it’s ‘okay news’. Christianity is no longer ‘life-changing’, it’s ‘life-enhancing’. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into ‘nice people’.” – Mike Yaconelli

 

THIS SUNDAY, May 30th – Memorial Day Weekend

  • NO SUNDAY SCHOOL due to potential power outages.
  • ONE COMBINED WORSHIP SERVICE at 10:45am
  • Come hear Tom Heath bring the Word!
  • Church Office closed on Monday for the holiday.

 

IT’S HERE!

  • When? Each Wed. evening in June.; 6-8pm
  • Where? BHBC; 54th & Slide
  • Who? K-6th grade PLUS families (see below)
  • Each evening begins with a meal in our Family Life Center at 6pm.
  • Another new aspect of VBS: we’re encouraging families to come and attend together. Parents! Come sit in with your children!  What a joy it will be to learn together.

 

The question is not, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but rather, “Was there strong Bible learning?”

Teaching/Learning Tip of the Week:  ‘Review! Review! Review!’

I am a critical thinker.  I question most everything.  So, when I meet a teacher who challenges me I don’t forget them.   My wife, Michelle, is, in my humble opinion, one of the best teachers I’ve witnessed in action.  Her skill set is exemplary.  She was elected Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year in LISD.  So, based on the axiom, When you stop learning, you stop leading, on more than one occasion, I have asked her advice to help sharpen my own teaching skills.

One of the fundamentals of learning she employs is what we commonly refer to as “reviewing what we’ve recently learned.”  Simple, right?  Yet, we typically fail in this area.  There’s a reason most church-goers have no clue what the sermon last week was about – life happens and we forget.  Moreover, Satan wants us to forget.

This is nothing new.  Consider the words of, both, Paul & Peter, as they wrote their letters to Christians:

I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder… (emphasis mine)

And,…

Dear friends, this is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,… (emphasis mine)

Culture changes, technology changes, but human nature remains the same.  We will always need reminding – especially in an age of unprecedented inundation of information.

A final exhortation from C.S. Lewis, quoting a colleague in Mere Christianity:

‘People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.’

 

SEEN RECENTLY

As a lifetime Youth Pastor, I have walked the halls of countless schools from all over the state of Texas.  And when I see a poster that strikes me I take a picture of it.  Consider this one:

I suspect this is directed toward students.  But, as I considered these words it occurred to me this message goes both ways – truth for the teacher as well as the student.

 

HOW GREAT THOU ART!

“The heavens declare [recount; narrate] the glory [the manifest presence] of God, and the skies [firmament; dome; Gen. 1:6] announce [speak out] what his hands have made [the works of his hands].
Day after day they tell the story [pour forth speech]; night after night they tell it again [declare knowledge].”

The above passage from Psalm 19:1-2 is taken from the Expanded Bible Translation.

I’m presently reading Steven Meyer’s ‘Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.’ Meyer holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science from Cambridge.

Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook. He has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005.

Linked here is an article by Dr. Egnor on Meyer’s hypothesis. It’s short, solid and will help ‘give meaning to the data’ to passages such as Psalms 8 and 19.

***The above Hubble Deep Field photo is the interaction of two doomed stars creating this spectacular ring adorned with bright clumps of gas ­– a diamond necklace of cosmic proportions. Fittingly known as the “Necklace Nebula,” this planetary nebula is located 15,000 light-years away from Earth in the small, dim constellation of Sagitta.

 

JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS

Listen – and be filled with joy!

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

I recently had a ‘back & forth’ with a skeptic on social media.  The man was kind and our debate was civil, but we clearly differed on various aspects of the Christian faith.  (The goal of Christian Apologetics is not to win an argument, but to win a friend.) I’ll come back to this man in a moment.  But, the conversation prompted me to post the following on social media.

Consider the following familiar quote by atheist, Richard Dawkins:

“Next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.”

For once, I couldn’t agree more with Dawkins.  And here’s a scenario of how I would respond.

Skeptic: “Nick, what kind of evidence can you cite in favor of theism?”

Me: “That’s a very good question.  The following evidence really had an impact on me in favor of God’s existence.  Let’s take a look at it together.

  1. The origination of the cosmos
  2. The fine-tuning of the cosmos (focusing on the 2nd law of thermodynamics/entropy)
  3. The Anthropic Principle
  4. Biology – specifically the human genome/ DNA
  5. Human consciousness
  6. The overwhelming historical reliability of the New Testament

There is more evidence from archaeology and history, but this is a solid place to start.

I have faith. But it’s not blind faith.

Nick

I will include my follow-up to this post in next week’s Navigator.

 

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT? (Nope)

I loved Flip Wilson’s ‘Geraldine’ who would not-so-innocently shout, “The devil made me do it!”

That was comedy. But, the question is valid:  Can Satan make me do something?

According to the Bible, Satan doesn’t have that kind of power. His primary skills are in lies and deception which, in turn, lure us to the trap he’s set for us.

We can mistakenly give Satan too much credit for the mess in which we find ourselves. Sometimes, he had nothing to do with it. We (due to our flesh/sinful nature) successfully messed things up all by ourselves.

“Don’t excuse yourself by accusing Satan.” – Thomas Brooks

 

TRIVIA!

Here is the sublime Pleiades. This asterism is an open cluster of massive hot stars in the constellation Taurus.

Do you know which car company uses Pleiades in its logo?  (Hint: one of their cars is called Outback.)

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Apart from the payment Christ made on the cross, nobody has a chance of getting off death row. – Lee Strobel

And, this one is great…

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

“Hospitality is making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.” – Steve Swartz.

And, one more…

 

SOUL FOOD:  Fool Proof – How to know when, and when not, to respond to a fool.

“I will not dignify your statement with a reply.”  Ever felt that way?  We all have.  Well, according to the Bible, sometimes that statement is spot-on, while other times a reply may be the better option.  But, how do you know which response is appropriate?  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.20.2021

THIS SUNDAY, May 23rd

  • Missionaries, Alan Ivey and his family, occupy one of our guest houses.  They will be sharing briefly in both worship services.
  • Sonshiner Choir Musical @ 5pm

 

MEMORIAL DAY SUNDAY HEADS UP

We were recently notified by the City of Lubbock that, due to the city joining the ERCOT electrical grid, the city will potentially experience power outages – for up to half an hour – on Sunday morning, May 30th.

As you know, just as with the threat of inclement weather, it could be BHBC experiences no power outage.  But, we’re not going to risk it.  The following schedule changes have been implemented for May 30th:

  • No Small Groups
  • One combined worship service at 10:45am

 

414 Evangelistic Events

  • May 26th; 6-8pm – Block Party in the BHBC parking lot

 

The question is not, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but rather, “Was there strong Bible learning?”

Teaching/Learning Tip of the Week: The Power of Story

***If you’re message/lesson is driven by stories, that’s never a good thing.  Stories don’t precipitate life-change.  Only the Word of God can do that.

“Faith comes from hearing the message,” Paul wrote, “and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

That said (as one of my grad-professors wrote), when a story can “help give meaning to the data,” use itJust like Jesus often did with his many parables.

Here’s a powerful example…

Francis Collins, is a genetic physicist and was Chairman of the Human Genome Project.  In his book, The Language of God, where he gives evidence of God’s existence through DNA, he tells a story to help his readers better grasp Jesus’ love for us.  Enjoy, nw

Once upon a time there was an old woman who used to meditate on the bank of the Ganges. One morning, finishing her meditation, she saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the strong current. As the scorpion was pulled closer, it got caught in roots that branched out far into the river. The scorpion struggled frantically to free itself but got more and more entangled. She immediately reached out to the drowning scorpion, which, as soon as she touched it, stung her. The old woman withdrew her hand but, having regained her balance, once again tried to save the creature. Every time she tried, however, the scorpion’s tail stung her so badly that her hands became bloody and her face distorted with pain. A passerby who saw the old woman struggling with the scorpion shouted, “What’s wrong with you, fool! Do you want to kill yourself to save that ugly thing?” Looking into the stranger’s eyes, she answered, “Because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, why should I deny my own nature to save it?”

 

THERE’S POWER IN THE BLOOD

We’ve sung the hymns on this doctrine so many times it’s easy to forget the powerful truthon which it stands.  Next time you sing about the blood of the Lamb, keep this in mind…

Through Isaiah, God said,

“No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.  I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Compare that to this beloved quote by Charles Spurgeon:

“The moment that you begin to live by faith in his dear Son, there is not a sin left in God’s book against you.”

John recorded in his first letter and in Revelation,

…and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

[The children of God] triumphed over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

 

HUMILIATION vs. ENCOURAGEMENT

I thought this was very interesting…

“Studies show we encode humiliation faster than encouragement… Believing in God’s love also involves conscious reflection to internalize it.” – Psychiatrist, Dr. Curt Thompson

Thompson observes,

It takes less than 3 seconds to feel shame.  It takes 30 to 90 seconds to receive a compliment.


As I consider this principle, I reconsider God’s command to “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Stay with me…

Perhaps part of “being still” is giving our minds the ‘pause’ it needs to know, to focus on, and receive the boundless love (a.k.a. ‘compliment’) God so desperately wants us to know.

 

CHRIST & THE OLD TESTAMENT

Unfortunately, most Christians have no clue about the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.  The riches of the New Testament are best viewed in light of the Old.  This is precisely why Jesus, Paul and the other New Testament writers often appealed to the Old Testament scriptures.

Spurgeon, in his tome, Christ in the Old Testament, wrote,

The Old Testament was Christ’s Bible, and it is a Bible full of Christ.

This was one reason Jesus scolded the religious leaders:

You study the Scriptures (Old Testament) diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me. (emphasis mine)

This is precisely why Philip Yancey wrote his outstanding book on this topic, The Bible Jesus Read.

All this said,  contemplate the following quote  from Paul F. M. Zahl’s Grace in Practice:

“This point is crucial: [the Old Testament] law tells us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about ourselves. It holds the ‘mirror up to nature’ (William Shakespeare). But the law fails to convey the power to correct the maladies it diagnoses. The law is painful, like iodine on a cut, but another agent is required for healing to occur. That agent is grace [through the work of Christ on the Cross].”

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

In light of this passage from Numbers, the quote below by 19th century preacher, J.C. Ryle, takes on even stronger meaning.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  Why Atheism Failed Me – Pt 2 of 3

I’ve recently updated my story of my return to my faith in Christ, dividing it up into a trilogy.  Since Part 1 is more of a synopsis, I submit to you Part 2, a more detailed account of why atheism failed me.  (Part 3 has become a small book.  As such, I am still editing.)

Pain and suffering are a part of life and, frankly, help serve as the No. 1 argument for atheism.  And for good reason.

So, when our world caves in around us – and we must, as Michelle told us that nightmarish day, ‘Today, we decide what we believe,’ what do we do?  Is it ok to doubt God?  You bet it is.  Even John the Baptist doubted.  God welcomes our doubts. He’s not afraid to be questioned.  Why?  Because, if you’re honest in your doubt, all roads lead back home.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Navigator: 4.22.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/25

  • Sammy continues his sermon series on the family.  This Sunday, he teaches what the Bible says about divorce.
  • Our Youth Pastor Search Team begins meeting – pray for them.
  • Quarterly Business Meeting @ 5pm.

 

ON THE HORIZON

  • Prayer Warriors Dinner – May 5th; 6pm; FLC
    • Daniel records that during his prayer, “The angel I had seen in the earlier vision (Gabriel) came in swift flight. He said, ‘Daniel, as soon as you began to pray an answer was given.” (9:23)
    • Mary, Queen of Scots, said of Reformer John Knox, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than an army of 10,000 men.”
    • In his book,  Prayer: Does It Make a Difference, Philip Yancey writes, “Why pray?  Because Jesus prayed.  And he prayed as though it made a difference.”
  • 414
    • May 19th; 6pm – Ministry Event off campus (potentially Nat Williams Elementary)
    • May 26th; 6pm – Ministry Event on campus

 

THE ART OF WELCOMING & THE 7 LAWS – LAW NO. 1

  • THANK YOU for joining me this past Sunday!  I have already sent you all the Student Notes.  But, so you might have access to those notes online, I posted them on my blog, where scriptures and references are sourced and linked.  You can access them here.
  • In August, we’ll reconvene to sort through the next few Laws: Expectation, Application & Retention.

 

HOW GREAT THOU ART

This photo below is of galaxy cluster Abell 2218 as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The massive cluster contains about 10,000 galaxies, and resides 2 billion light-years away in the constellation Draco. Credit: NASA

Oh Lord, my God; When I, in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

 

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION

Please don’t believe everything you read online.  Especially stuff like this:

[Religion is nothing more than] “myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”  FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation)

Frankly, I couldn’t agree more with the FFRF.  Why?  Because they completely misinterpret the soul and message of the Christian faith.  As a result, they’ve confused religion with Christianity.  Let’s clear this up, ok?

Aren’t you glad that Christianity, as opposed to ‘religion’:

  1. isn’t based on myth but on actual history?
  2. isn’t based on superstition but on actual eye-witness testimony?
  3. doesn’t harden the human heart but softens it?
  4. doesn’t enslave the mind but liberates it?

Biblical Christianity isn’t based on religion (man’s pursuit of God), but on Christ (God’s pursuit of man).  There’s a huge difference.

We are saved not by rules, but by relationship – a relationship made possible by the Cross and the Empty Tomb. nw

 

COURAGE BEGETS COURAGE

I rarely, if ever, post politically on social media.  Consequently, what you read below is not a political statement – it’s a biblical one.

As I was doing research on the insanity of ideologies such as  Critical Race Theory  this past week, I posted the following on social media.  (you can read the article that prompted by post here)

More and more, I find people afraid to stand up for truth for fear of ‘retribution by the mob.’

As corrupt politicians grandstand, placating to the noise of chaos, and as philosophical garbage continues to be shoved down the throats of the masses, I can promise you this:  you will never find me shrinking from standing boldly for that which I hold to be biblically true.

From the article reference above:

“Above all, we must have courage – the fundamental virtue required in our time.  Courage to stand and speak the truth.  Courage to withstand [pejorative] epithets. Courage to face the mob. Courage to shrug off the scorn of elites.  When enough of us overcome the fear that currently prevents so many from speaking out, the hold of [force-fed political ideologies] will begin to slip. Courage begets courage.”

The reformer, Martin Luther, who knew well the courage required for standing for freedom and truth, said,

“Peace if possible; truth at all costs.” (In other words, never elevate unity above truth. Unity void of truth has nothing to do with biblical unity, but rather is mere uniformity. I have even seen churches fall into this trap.)

And most are familiar with this quote by George Orwell:

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

Finally, Gandalf encouraged Pippin (from The Lord of the Rings),

“Courage will now be your best defense against the storm that is at hand.”

Don’t ever fear bullies.  Stand courageously and boldly.

I’ll gladly lead the way.  nw

 

WHAT YOUR BIOLOGY TEACHER DIDN’T TELL YOU ABOUT DARWIN

Darwin had a lot to say about the origin of species, but nothing to offer regarding the origin of life.  Yet, that doesn’t stop people from setting him up as the stalwart bastion of all-things-biology.  I recently re-read an article I have in my files titled, What your biology teacher didn’t tell you about Charles Darwin.  It’s excellent.  You can read the article here.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

Oh, I love this quote.  Sola Gratia! Sola Fide! Solus Christus!

And…

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” – A.W. Tozer

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Basics of Life

This week’s ‘blog’ is in the form of a classic music video: “The Basics of Life’ by 4 Him.  A former student of mine (from the mid 90’s!) tagged me a couple of days ago in a social media post because one of our Dnow’s  used this song and title as its theme.  It appears those teens/now adults have never forgotten it.  The song is one of my all-time favorites from the Christian music genre.  My former student wrote, Today this song is even more true, this world is changing and so full of craziness! This song has such a strong foundation meaning to me for so many reasons.”  Enjoy, nw

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.16.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/18

  • Sammy continues with Pt. 2 of his current series, Family Matters
  • Keep praying over your ‘maps’ and ‘lists.

 

THIS SUNDAY!  Sunday, April 18th; 5pm; Rm 108

  • Please make plans to attend.  I’m asking that all Sunday School/Small Group leadership make this a priority.
  • You have my word that I won’t break the 11th Commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Bore.’  I guarantee your teaching skills will be enriched, your heart will be encouraged, and your mind/thinking will be challenged.
  • Plus,…. it’s just going to be downright fun.

 

I was asked last Sunday by Sharon Faber (one of Dana’s assistants in our childrens ministry) if she could stop by this Sunday morning, 4/18, just for a minute and visit with your class about our needs for VBS which is fast approaching in June.  If this doesn’t work for you would you please email me and I will share with Sharon?

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

No’s 11-15. For No’s 6-10 please see last week’s Navigator.

The list comes from Sarah Salviander who possesses a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and raised with an atheistic worldview.  The list can be easily translated into our ministry to adults.

  1. If you insist on studying the Bible as a family, make sure it’s as boring and confusing as possible.
  2. Don’t encourage or teach your children how to study the Bible on their own.
  3. Don’t discuss the basics of Christianity with your children. Assume they picked these up through osmosis.
  4. Assume that a superficial understanding of the Bible is the only thing children need to be prepared for life in a world desperate to turn them away from their faith.
  5. Assume that vacation Bible schools and mission trips alone will prepare your children for the relentless challenges to faith they’ll face in the world.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 21The Restoration of Peter

We started our adventure with John, the eye-witness of Jesus, a year ago.

This week, after reviewing all we’ve learned the past year, we looked at the beautiful and tender restoration of Peter.

Following Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples endure a long night of fruitless fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus appears on the beach, the disciples finally recognize him and hurry to see him.  Jesus has prepared a fire and they all enjoy breakfast together.  Then, Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Let’s take a walk.”  Peter must have been simultaneously filled with joy and shame (for his denial of Christ, three times no less.)

But, Jesus had no intention of lecturing or scolding Peter.  His sole purpose was to restore Peter.  It’s impossible to read this story without being moved emotionally and spiritually.

Have you ever felt you’ve done something so bad God would never forgive you, must less continue to use you?  Nothing could he further from the truth.  You can watch the lesson in its entirety below.

 

THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING…

“This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets, and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” – Isaac Newton

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. – Isaiah 40:26

 

BY THIS ALL WILL KNOW

It’s not by our vocation, our position in a church, our church attendance, our teaching/preaching skills, our talents, or economic status.  Indeed, Paul wrote,

I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Jesus didn’t mince words when he said,

By this all will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. (italics mine)

***Loving one another in no way equals agreeing with one another on controversial topics. Jesus loved more than anyone in human history, yet vehemently disagreed with many.

It is entirely possible to disagree strongly and, simultaneously, love deeply. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That said, love one another.

 

PRAYING FOR CELEBRITIES

I have several specific celebrities I pray for that they would place their faith in Christ.

And when I see celebrities who take a bold stance for their faith I thank God for them and ask him to use them mightily.

So, when I stumbled upon these tweets from ‘Mr. T’ I was overjoyed! (Of course, Mr. T is going to be bold among the famous – who’s going to mess with him??)

One of my favorite lines from Rocky 3:

Reporter asking Mr. T about the rematch with Rocky: ‘Do you have a prediction for the rematch?’

Mr. T: ‘Pain’.

Now?

Reporter: ‘Mr. T, what is your prediction for Satan?’

Mr. T: ‘Pain’

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The devil is able to print in our heart so manifest a lie that we would swear a thousand times that it was an undeniable truth.  – Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)

Truth does not mind being questioned.  A lie does not like being challenged.

We don’t need to disagree less, we need to disagree better. – Arthur Brooks

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Priceless advice for all men: The Difference between Complete and Finished…

If you find the right woman – you’re complete.

If you find the wrong womanyou’re finished.

If the right woman finds you with the wrong womanyou’re completely finished.

 

SOUL FOOD:  Psalm 119 – Side B

Most know this grand psalm for Side A.  But Side B is just as important.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.8.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/11

  • Sammy begins a brand new series on the family!
  • Exciting announcements regarding our ‘For the Kingdom’ debt retirement campaign.
  • Don’t forget to continue your ‘maps & lists’ to help you stay mindful of those in your oikos who need Christ.

 

OH, THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!  Sunday, April 18th; 5pm; Rm 108

  • Please make plans to attend.  I’m asking that all Sunday School/Small Group leadership make this a priority.
  • You have my word that I won’t break the 11th Commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Bore.’  I guarantee your teaching skills will be enriched, your heart will be encouraged, and your mind/thinking will be challenged.
  • Plus,…. it’s just going to be downright fun.

 

THE RISE OF THE ‘NONES’

Our staff has been enjoying researching and discussing the current North American church climate.  It is no surprise that regular church attendance has greatly declined (despite the vast majority of Americans claiming they believe in God.)

But the intriguing demographic that continues to steadily grow is what sociologists call ‘nones’.  In short, ‘nones’ have no religious affiliation.  They’re not connected to any church, but they’re not hostile to church either.

Dr. Holly Ordway was the Dean of the School of Christian Thought & Apologetics at HBU when I was in grad school there. She is brilliant and a former ardent atheist. In her book, ‘Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms,’ she wrote,

Atheists, ‘nones,’ and fallen-away Catholics are not ignorant of the existence of the Gospel; they just find it dull, incomprehensible, or meaningless. This presents a fundamentally different problem than sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard it before. …We have to be answering the questions people actually have, not the ones that we think they should have, or that we happen to feel most confident addressing.”

“…they just find it dull, incomprehensible, or meaningless.”  (Ouch)

This is yet another reason why we’re coming together on April 18th to sharpen our teaching and shepherding skills.

***By the way, I strongly recommend Dr. Ordway’s book, Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith.  I consumed it in very little time.  There is a reason stories like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia connect so deeply with so many.  We all have an innate longing for adventure.  Yet, for most of us the adventure takes place primarily in our God-given imagination (have you ever thought of how our imagination is a precious gift from God?).  The arts and stories draw us in and, as Dr. Ordway asserts, “they give meaning to the data.”  In other words, as a picture says a thousand words, the arts and stories help us better understand the meaning of the data/content being taught. This is precisely why Jesus taught so often in parables, appealing to the imagination of the people by telling stories about sheep, vineyards, salt and light. The late atheist ,Christopher Hitchens’s brother, Peter (a Christian) once said, “You will have more success connecting with an atheist with poetry than with debate,” meaning their heart will be touched, allowing their mind to be open.  Is it a coincidence that our Bible contains so much poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and more)?  🙂

 

I’M SITTING IN & LEARNING WITH YOU (sort of)

  • Twice I have joined a class on Sunday morning at 9:15.  And twice I’ve been late getting back for the invitation at the end of the 9:15 worship service.  The problem?  The teaching and learning is so good I don’t want to leave!
  • So, for now, I won’t be attending classes at 9:15.  But, since I don’t normally lead music in the late service, I should be able to continue to sit in with the 10:45 classes (and the one class at 8am).  I’ll contact you before I show up.

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

For No’s 1-5 please see last week’s Navigator.

Sarah Salviander has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics who was raised with an atheistic worldview.  Although her list here is directed toward the worldview of children, I’m sharing it with you because you can easily translate it into the worldview of adults.  We must “know our stuff”, or we might well end up serving as someone who helps a seeker believe that atheism is the more intelligent and reasonable worldview.  Here are No’s 6-10:

  1. Avoid teaching or talking about science to your children.
  2. Tell them science is a tool of the enemy.
  3. Avoid talking about reasoned philosophical arguments for claims in the Bible.
  4. Ignore Paul’s admonition to test everything. Teach your children that all philosophy is vain and deceptive.
  5. Don’t make a regular family activity out of reading and discussing the Bible.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 20Doubting Thomas

NOTE: Wed evening classes conclude next week, 4/14.

Thomas gets a bad rap.  This is the same man who, earlier in John’s gospel, was willing to die with Jesus.  Further, in this familiar passage in John 20, Thomas demonstrates he is a critical thinker.  As such, I resonate with Thomas.  A lot.

Notice that when Thomas doubts, Jesus doesn’t scold him.  Rather, he tenderly met Thomas at his point of weakness.  Oh, how Jesus loves you and me – even when our faith is fragile.

So, is it ok to doubt our faith?  I’m glad you asked.  For the answer, see this week’s Soul Food blog below.

You can watch this week’s lesson in its entirety below. **It includes a defense of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Saw this just before Easter.  I couldn’t stop laughing…

For those who can’t make out what it says:

  • 1958: Easter Bunny portraits become popular in the U.S.
  • 1959: Child psychologists’ offices are invented.

 

SOUL FOOD:  For those who’ve ever doubted your Christian faith.

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick