The Navigator: 6.16.22

**NOTE:  I will be out the next two weeks teaching a Youth Camp and then visiting our kids in Nashville, TN.  As such, the next Navigator will be published on July 7th.

THIS SUNDAY, June 19th

  • Join Sammy as he continues his series through the Old Testament.

 

CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR:

  • Remaining sessions: June 22 & 29

And,…

  • Students are at Lone Tree Ranch this week; Capitan, NM.

 

This week’s tip:  Thinking our words through before we say them.

Clearly, whoever put this on their church sign didn’t think through how it could be interpreted.

James, the half brother of Jesus, wisely counseled,

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” – James 1:19

As you prepare each week, carefully consider your delivery.  You could well mean one thing, but it be interpreted completely differently.  Always pause to ask if what you are teaching is being understood in the way you intend it to be.

 

THE INCARNATION OF GOD IN CHRIST

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,…” – John 1:1, 14

Can we explain the incarnation or, as scholars call it, the Hypostatic Union?  No.  Not even close.  And that’s perfectly ok.  As I read from one author, “I don’t want a God I can (humanly) explain.”

The erudite Tolkien wrote:

“…infinitely greater…”  Beyond the reach of human logic, reason, or intellect.

Jesus was not 50% God and 50% human.  Rather, he was 100% God and 100% human.  The gospel writers commonly give us stories where his humanity is on display, and then stories where his deity is on display.”  To borrow a title from one of my classes I taught:  “Jesus was just like us, and nothing like us.”

Meditate on this miracle as I leave you with two powerful quotes:

 

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

“Apologetics is a waste of time.  People should believe in Christ based on the Bible alone, a part from evidence.”

The above quote is embarrassing for one who would claim it since it betrays a blatant ignorance of simple scripture, not to mention it leaves a Christian impotent (and foolish) to defend why they believe what they believe to someone who believes the Bible to be nothing but a fairy tale for the gullible.

How Jesus Used Evidence to Logically Defend the Christian Faith

  • God preached an entire sermon to David in Psalm 8 using only the evidence of his power through creation.
  • In Ps 19, creation itself preaches as evidence for the glory of God.
  • In Romans 1, we are without excuse for rejecting faith in Christ solely because of the evidence of God’s existence through his creation.
  • Jesus knew people’s hearts are hard and, as such, knew we wouldn’t believe him on his verbal assertion alone.  That’s why we have story after story of Jesus providing evidence of being precisely who he claimed to be.
  • Then there’s the gospel of John, by far the most apologetic of the four biographies.  John was the gospel writer most concerned with recording evidence for Jesus’ deity.  It was one of the primary purposes of his gospel.
    • “Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these [miracles] are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” 20:30-31
  • That’s why John, alone, records the following:
    • “For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify [by providing evidence] that the Father has sent me.” – 5:36
    • The people surrounded [Jesus] and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.” – 10:25
    • “…the Father set me apart and sent me into the world. Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” – 10:37-38
    • “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” – 14:11
  • Finally, those who deny the command to defend the Christian using logic based on evidence are impotent to explain away Peter’s clear exhortation:
    • “…Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.” – Amplified

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. This planet is a gas giant planet which means, if you want to land here or land your spacecraft here, you will not be able to do it because there is no land on Jupiter.  This planet is made of gas.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“If you want to ban, muzzle, and cancel speech with which you disagree, you are not a hero, you are an intellectual coward.” – Douglass Groothuis, Ph.D.

“My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices that I am out of the fight.” – C.S. Lewis

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Width & Depth of Scripture

Satan would love for us to think “we know it all” where the Bible is concerned.  Or, in the words of a cynical Solomon, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”  Oh, don’t fall into that trap.  David wrote, “The unfolding of your word gives light…”  And, God’s Word never stops “unfolding.”  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 6.9.22

My apologies for not being able to publish the Navigator last week.  I came close to encountering the same this week as each day I’ve been at the hospitals with our sick, counseling the hurting, encouraging the discouraged, and preparing to speak to a bunch of teenagers a little over a week from now on “The Deconstruction of the Christian Faith.”  Of course, this doesn’t include the unexpected interruptions that we all encounter on a daily basis.

It’s common for schedules to relax a bit during the summer months (at least since I’ve transitioned from full-time student ministry).  But, so far this year, that’s not been the case.

The Navigator is not something I merely “slap together” in an afternoon.  What I send you has been carefully gathered and researched and, hopefully, is helpful and gives you something to think about.  nw

 

THIS SUNDAY, June 12th

  • Regular morning schedule
  • Church-wide event at Sun & Fun: 6-8pm.  No food provided, but you are free to bring your own if you desire.

 

PERU UPDATE:

Martha Swearingen (her husband, Ray, is on the trip) shared with me the team is having a wonderful time.  Although their arrival was delayed, the Lord is working mightily on his time-table.  They are scheduled to return home on Friday.

 

Our students leave for camp on Monday.  Pray for Luke Kilmartin and his team.  Pray for the students, that their hearts would be pliable and receptive.  It was at camp that, as a teenager, I committed my life to vocational ministry.

 

This week’s tip:  The Re-purposing of our Pain

What follows is something I posted on social media this past week.  It’s received quite a bit of traction and feedback.  Perhaps, it will spark thoughts and stories from your own life you can share with your class, helping them to know that “with God all things are possible.”  nw

God can take your pain and, if you let him, create something that can change the world.

Nearly everything most people know about my dad is unflattering.  Most know he was a violent alcoholic, that he often beat my mom, twice struck me with full force, and that, when I was 16, I had to almost kill him one night when he was in a drunken rage and I was certain he was about to murder my mom.  The police made more than one trip to our house. My childhood was about as bad as it could get.

In 2000, at only 57, he died of alcoholism.  Or, to use a phrase from Brad Paisley’s Whiskey Lullably: “He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.”

I have no memory of having a single conversation with my dad about life, religion, or anything else.  My parents had no clue what I was up to as a kid, whether I was doing my homework, attending class.  Everyone was just trying to survive in their own way.

However,…

I want the world to know that my dad professed his faith in Christ when he was young.  Like so many Christians, he developed an addiction as a young adult. That addiction, coupled with severe anger issues, eventually cost him his family and his life.

He was a wonderful man when he was sober.  Alas, he just wasn’t sober very often.  But, during those moments when he was…

He was generous. Michelle and I wouldn’t have had a honeymoon had it not been for my dad.  With what little he had, he funded the entire trip.

He was funny.  I can still remember his laugh. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of watching old Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Abbott & Costello, and Don Knotts movies on TV together.

He was – uh…. innovative.  In the “God works in mysterious ways” category:  Although drunk, he brought the piano player home from the bar one night after it closed (around 2am), got me out of bed (i was about 10; it was a school night), and had the piano-player show me how to play the “boogie woogie.”  I’ve played it ever since. (True story: when I was entering the School of Music at HSU in Abilene I had to perform a piano piece of my choosing for the entire piano faculty – Ph.D’s, Juilliard grads) so they could decide if I was proficient enough to receive private instruction – if not, i would be placed in a class.  I played “Great Balls of Fire.”  I was placed in private instruction.)

He prompted in me an interest in public speaking. Dad was a DJ early on in his life, then a newsman for KRBC TV (NBC) in Abilene, TX for a number of years.

He was intelligent. Two photos are included here: (1) a picture someone made for him when he had his own Morning Show with KRBC, and (2) the plaque he was given upon being elected to the Abilene City Council in 1974.

People sometimes ask, “How in the world did you survive all of that and then turn out to be a pastor?”

My dad started letting me drink when I was twelve so I should’ve been an alcoholic before I reached sixteen. So, I just don’t know why I survived while others in my situation have not (my youngest sister did not).

All I know is this:  God is mightily present even in our darkest and seemingly most hopeless moments. Job (rhymes with “robe”) said, “But those who suffer, he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” – 36:15

He doesn’t waste anything.  He can take the pain we endure and use it to reach others who are in pain.  This gives purpose to our pain. (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Like a furnace used to purify metal, he can take the highest heat the devil can summon and forge us into the image of Almighty Christ. Through Isaiah, God said, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” – 48:10

Satan wants us to focus on our pain.  God is inviting us to focus on what our pain can accomplish through his power.

Where would I (we) be without the Cross and the Empty Tomb? Because of Christ, I have been able to re-purpose my pain.  I will one day see my dad, free from addiction.  And I will see my son, free of debilitating depression. 

On earth, my dad and my son met one time – not long before my dad died.  Jordan Blake Watts was 5.  I don’t know exactly how heaven works.  But, i like to think they’re making up for lost time.

My friends, so many of you are hurting, suffering, exhausted, afraid.  Know this:  Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this.  Trust me.”

 

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

Speaking of the universe serving as evidence for the existence of God…

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

From Reddit:

“The Solar Orbiter spacecraft released its closest images of the sun today, revealing a range of never before seen phenomena including this odd geyser of hot and cold gas dubbed the  solar hedgehog.”

Try and wrap your mind around this:

The spacecraft took these pics from INSIDE the orbit of Mercury with temperatures at 930 degree Fahrenheit.

This solar inferno sits suspended in space, rotating – at different speeds at its axis and its middle! – at just the right distance.  If it were closer, life wouldn’t be possible.  If it were farther away, life wouldn’t be possible.  But, earth and the sun are separated by a perfect 93,000,000 miles.  As though it were designed that way.

 

FEARLESS

I always get good feedback after I teach or preach.  But, after Sunday, I was flooded with responses – all good.  For that sole reason, I am linking the message for you here.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Do you know someone who is “book-smart & life-stupid?”  Me too.

Two great quotes here on referring to this type of delusional individual:

“Education does not equal intelligence.” – Thomas Sowell

And,

“Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” – G.K. Chesterton

 

SOUL FOOD:  Mormon Christianity vs. Biblical Christianity

I’m reading Micah Wilder’s autobiography of his coming to faith in Christ.  We’ve hosted Micah twice here at BHBC.  He’s become a dear friend.  As you may know, Micah was raised in a Mormon home, his mom a professor at BYU, and his dad serving in a high position in the Mormon Church.  It was on Micah’s assigned Two-Year-Mission that God showed up in a powerful way and changed everything.  Eventually, Micah’s entire family came to faith in Christ.  You can read his mom’s excellent book here.  All of that said, while reading Micah’s story, I was reminded of this blog I wrote years ago when I taught on the topic.  You can read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.26.22

THIS SUNDAY, May 29th – Memorial Day Weekend

  • Regular schedule
  • If you’re traveling, have a wonderful, safe holiday.
  • Offices are close Monday.

 

Every Wednesday evening during the month of June.

  • 6pm – meal
  • 6:30 – VBS begins
  • If you would like to get involved with helping, contact Dana Kluzek.

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

Thank you, David Lewallen!  You were the only one who shared a response to the “What would you say?” in last week’s Navigator.  You win a free copy of my latest book. (I’ve not finished writing my book yet.  You’ll get it when I do.) 🙂

If any of you would still like to comment just shoot me an email, text, or let’s connect over a warm, robust beverage.

 

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

 

PHOTO of MONDAY EVENING’S TORNADO JUST WEST OF LUBBOCK

This monster was photographed just south of Morton, TX.

It makes me think of the story of Job who rightly wanted his day in court with God.  He cried out, in essence, “God! I want to talk to you!”

Then, God showed up.

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…”

The Hebrew word for “whirlwind” is nothing like a West Texas whirlwind we commonly see out in the middle of a cotton field.  The word used in Job 38:1 means “tempest, or storm.”  God’s words that follow are terrifying.

I imagine that “whirlwind” looking more like this.

 

THE VOICE of GOD

Photo from this past Monday night’s storm via Twitter.

“The God of glory thunders…the voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.” – Psalm 29:3-7

 

EVERY YOUTH PASTOR, COLLEGE PASTOR & PARENT – READ THIS

I share this with you because we all know someone suffering from some form of mental illness.  It could be the person you see in the mirror each morning.  From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Three undergraduate students and one medical resident died of suicide at St. Louis University this school year, the university confirmed.”

Read the article here.

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

AR3014 is one of the largest sunspots in years. Stretching more than 78,000 miles from end to end, that is almost TEN TIMES our planet diameter.

Note in the pic here the size of earth at the bottom right in contrast to the size of this single sun spot.

When we read that God became small (became human flesh), this gives us some real perspective.  The one who spoke our sun into existence took the form of a tiny baby on our tiny planet.  Why?  Because, in order to save man, he had to become one.  Amazing.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

Did Jesus Exist?  (You might be surprised at how many believe he didn’t.)

The following quote is the response Bart Ehrman gives to that question.  What you should know is that Ehrman describes himself as “agnostic with atheistic leanings.” But, he’s also Professor of Religious Studies at UNC, Chapel Hill.

“Every week I receive two or three emails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being… The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist… The view that Jesus existed is held by virtually every expert on the planet.”

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD: Sexual Abuse & the Southern Baptist Convention

Hopefully, this week’s blog will help bring clarity to what the Guidepost Solution Report means for Southern Baptists.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.19.22

 

THIS SUNDAY, May 22nd

  • Special guest speaker!  Former Hindu priest.  Both worship services. You don’t want to miss his story of what Christ has done, and is doing, in his life.

 

Where?  Nat Williams Elementary, 4812 58th St.

When?  May 25th; begins at 6:30pm

How can you help?  We need help for “set up” and “tear down.”  Please pass this along to your class.  Then, contact either myself or Dana Kluzek.

 

Every Wednesday evening during the month of June.

  • 6pm – meal
  • 6:30 – VBS begins

 

This week’s tip:  Perspective

We tend to be identified by what we do (our vocation) as well as what we’ve done (good and bad).

Travel with me to first century Jerusalem, the temple courts.  People are everywhere fulfilling duties, visiting, and such.

All of a sudden, off to the side, there is an uproar.  People yelling.  A woman crying.

You know the story.   John records it in his gospel, 8:1-11.

A woman caught in the very act of adultery is thrown down before Jesus.  This was mere drama used to attempt to trap Jesus into misusing the Law.  Nonetheless, a woman was involved who is at this moment being shamed in front of everyone in the temple courts.

There are multiple biblical truths gathered from this story.  Let’s look at just one.

No doubt, she had been called everything from a “woman of the night” to the more pejorative “whore.”  This is who she was.  It’s who she had come to believe she was.

It’s who she was in her eyes – not Jesus’.

After ruining the religious leaders’ “execution party,” Jesus looked into her eyes and said tenderly, “Woman…,” reminding her of who she truly is: a human being, a person created in his image, of infinite worth and value.

John Maxwell once said,

“See your people as they could be, not as they are.”

Are there people in your class who are struggling with their identity?  Be Jesus to them.

It’s all about perspective.

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

One of the books I’m presently reading is Faithfully Different: Regaining Biblical Clarity in a Secular Culture, by Natasha Crain.  Crain is erudite, articulate, and persuasive.

Consider the following.  She writes,

Popular comedian Ricky Gervais once wrote a piece featured in The Wall Street Journal titled “Why I’m an Atheist.”

Gervais began:

  • Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary… I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Gervais went on to explain why he’s chosen “science over God”:

  • Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence— evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded.

He then described how he challenges religious people:

  • Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities. So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2869.

[end excerpt]

Here you have a person precious in the sight of God, Ricky Gervais.  Clearly, he’s smart.  But also clearly, his logic has holes in it.

He has absolutely no regard for the Bible, much less the Christian faith, so throwing scripture at him will not work.   How do you begin to engage with Gervais?  I know how I would respond.  But, I would like to hear how you might respond.  Give his comments some thought, pray through it, do some study – and then let me know.

 

DATES for THIS SUMMER & FALL

  • Every Wed. evening in June: Family VBS
  • June 12 & Aug 7 – church-wide events at Sun & Fun
  • July 11 – Sr. Adult Luncheon
  • Aug 17 – Wed Evening Meal & Classes resume
  • Sep 30-Oct 2 – Student Dnow
  • Oct 26 – Fall Fest

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

Consequences are bound to the choices you make. You can have your choice, but you cannot choose your consequence.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

I just got pulled over by a cop.  He asked me if I had a police record.  Apparently “Roxanne” is not the answer he wanted to hear.

And,…

Actual Analogies used by High School Students in English Essays:

  1. When she tried to sing, it sounded like a walrus giving birth to farm equipment.
  2. Her eye twinkled, like the mustache of a man with a cold.
  3. She was like a magnet: attractive from the back, repulsive from the front.
  4. The ballerina rose gracefully on point, and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  5. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

One more?  Why not?

For all my fellow Princess Bride fans…

 

SOUL FOOD:  When Your Light Burns Out

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.12.22

THIS SUNDAY, 5/15

  • Baby dedications in both services

 

Where?  Nat Williams Elementary, 4812 58th St.

When?  May 25th; begins at 6:30pm

How can you help?  We need help for “set up” and “tear down.”  Please pass this along to your class.  Then, contact either myself or Dana Kluzek.

 

Every Wednesday evening during the month of June.

  • 6pm – meal
  • 6:30 – VBS begins

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

Antares

Antares is actually two stars orbiting each other. They’re so close together you can’t tell them apart without a telescope.

 

SPEAKING of the COSMOS

Being a deeply critical thinker (which is sometimes a curse), I am always asking questions and analyzing arguments and opinions.

In way of example, I continue to search for a single scientific discovery that calls scripture into question, or contradicts scripture altogether.  Alas, my efforts have produced no such discovery.  And I am glad for this, for it strengthens, both, my faith in Christ, and my credibility when visiting with skeptics.

Astrophysicist and former atheist, Sarah Salviander, observes,

“There is nothing in well-tested science that is incompatible with God.”

I would invite you to read the article linked here for you titled, “Mysterious invisible walls may have been discovered in outer space”.

The Bible tells us,

“God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.” – Job 26:7

It’s no coincidence scientists have discovered “invisible walls,” and God uses words with Job like “empty space” and “nothing.”

As Rich Mullins once sang, “Our God is an awesome God.”

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“To fruitfully discuss suffering…, there must be a given measure of thorns in our own flesh.” – One of my MAA classmates, Daniel Ray; on how our own experienced pain lends authority when we must discuss “the mystery of pain” with someone who is hurting.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

  • I did some financial planning and it looks like I can retire at 62 and live comfortably for eleven minutes.
  • Whoever wrote ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’ never took their kids to church on a regular basis. – Tim Hawkins

 

SOUL FOOD: When You Mix Church with Politics

This one definitely got some traction on social media.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.5.22

THIS SUNDAY, May 8th

 

This week’s tip: Always be ready to listen to those with hard questions about the Christian faith.

In his essay, Addressing the Exodus of Young People from the Church, Samuel Bodnar includes Isabella’s story:

“She tried seeking answers from her parents, her youth group leader, even her pastor. Nobody answered her objections to the Bible….So she left the faith. She was done.”

Be quick to welcome all doubts and questions.  If you don’t know the answer, find someone who does.  More than anything, make certain the one seeking answers feels validated and respected.

 

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING to JACK DANIELS

This may be the best exposition of Ephesians 5:18 I’ve ever heard.

“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him.” – Eph 5:18, Amplified

Only 4 minutes long.  At the 3:30 mark, all heaven breaks loose.

It’s been viewed over a million times on Facebook.

You’ll be dancing by the time it’s over.  I was.

 

FOR the TIRED, WEARY, and BURDENED

I heard a line in a movie once: “I went to bed on top of the world; today, the world’s on top of me.”

For those who feel as though you’re carrying the weight of the world.

Remember what is true…

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble… Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” – Psalm 9:9; 16:8

 

DATES for THIS SUMMER & FALL

  • Every Wed. evening in June: Family VBS
  • June 12 & Aug 7 – church-wide events at Sun & Fun
  • July 11 – Sr. Adult Luncheon
  • Aug 17 – Wed Evening Meal & Classes resume
  • Sep 30-Oct 2 – Student Dnow
  • Oct 26 – Fall Fest

 

OUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST

I’ve been saved.  I’ve been redeemed by the Cross of Christ.  But what does that mean for me, exactly, as I live life each and every day?

Below is a six-minute excerpt from my final class of the semester.  As I say in my introduction, one of the reasons for the weakness of faith in many Christians is that they simply don’t know who they are in Christ Jesus.  Satan would like to keep it that way.

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

Hubble captured over 5000 galaxies in this extreme deep space image, some as old as 13 billion years and each one contains billions of stars. But what really explodes my head is:  this frame represents only one 32-millionth of the whole sky!

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word.” – Oswald Chambers

“At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” – Is 60:22

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

  • “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.”
  • “Some days, the best thing about my job is that my chair spins around.”
  • “I was in Florida and I saw a bumper sticker on a parked car that read, ‘I miss the Bronx.’ So I broke their window, stole their stereo, and left a note that read, ‘I hope this helps.'”
  • “My stomach is ‘Flat.’  The ‘L’ is just silent.”

 

SOUL FOOD: Job’s Friends

There is a ministry I call “the ministry of presence.”

For the first seven days, the “ministry of presence” is what Job’s friends lovingly provided.  They wept, hurt, and just sat with their friend who had just experienced unspeakable devastation.

Then,…they started talking, and everything went downhill from there.

I saw the following on Twitter this past week:

Job’s friends were at their best when they were silent and simply sitting with him in his suffering.

They were at their worst when they tried to diagnose and preach Job’s suffering away.

Which kind of friend will you be today?

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.21.22

THIS SUNDAY, April 24th

  • High School Graduate Recognition – both worship services

 

EASTER & the NO. 1 ARGUMENT for ATHEISM

NOTE: Due to an unexpected cancer-removal-surgery for my father-in-law (he’s spent ten days at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock), much of my time last week was dedicated to taking care of the family, preventing me from being able to publish The Navigator.  What follows is what I had intended to include last week as we approached Easter Sunday.

Easter & the No. 1 Argument for Atheism

The Problem of Pain – how a God who claims to be good, all-powerful, and all-loving can permit evil and suffering – is the No. 1 roadblock to faith in Christ.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus, stated,

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked.”

More recently, in 2006, prominent atheist, Sam Harris, restated Epicurus’ words:

“If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil.”

To be brutally honest, I get it. I’ve lost my dad and youngest sister to addiction, and my son to suicide.

Yet,…

Contrary to the philosophies of Epicurus and Harris, the Bible tells us that God did care, and that God did do something – twenty centuries ago, on a Cross, just outside Jerusalem.

And, well – that changes everything.

In his book, Miracles, C.S. Lewis wrote,

“Christ has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.”

**By the way, all worldviews are faced with their own version of “the problem of pain.”  But, Christianity is the only one that offers purpose and hope in our pain.

 

MERE CHRISTIANITY: CLARITY IN THE BASICS

On this penultimate evening of our series, we looked at one primary tenet of the doctrine of salvation:  Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

We can’t earn it.  Human effort is futile.  Works-based salvation is a back-breaking burden resulting in a lifetime of legalistic bondage.

Jesus said,

“This is the only work God wants from you:  Believe in the one he has sent…. The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing.” – John 6:29, 63

Rather than post this past week’s lesson here, I want to share with you a brief video clip I used to conclude our session.

Alistair Begg, who is Scottish, is the senior pastor of Cleveland’s Parkside Church, a position he has held since 1983. In this brief clip, using the story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus, Begg says one of the most profound truths I’ve ever heard regarding biblical salvation. 

 

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

“What gives me most confidence that Jesus’ resurrection actually occurred is how the resurrection hypothesis is able to address the full scope of relevant historical facts in a manner that is far superior to the ability of any competing hypothesis to do the same. Stated differently, when I set aside faith and examine the data using strictly controlled historical method, the hypothesis that Jesus was raised stands head and shoulders above the rest. And that’s quite remarkable!” – Mike Licona, Ph.D., historian and apologist

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

If you thought, at first glance, this is a grainy photo of the night sky, you would be wrong.  It’s an extremely high-resolution picture of space – and the grains are actually trillions of stars.

Stretch the photo and it becomes even more mind-cramping.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” – Psalm 147:4

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” – Corrie Ten Boom

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD: How the Sun led me back to the Son

It was a small step – but a step nonetheless.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.7.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/10

  • The Lord’s Supper in both worship services.

 

MEN’S BREAKFAST – APRIL 10th; 8:15-9am

 

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING @ 6:30

  • Join us in the Worship Center as Sammy leads us in a Holy Week service.  This will go a long way to helping our people prepare their hearts for Easter Sunday on the 17th.

 

This week’s tip: “Put your phone down and take a look around.”

We’ve never been more connected.  And we’ve never been lonelier.  Friends today tend to be virtual rather than physical.  But the truth remains:  we need each other.

As you teach each week, always remind your class of the importance of looking up from their phone every now and then and taking inventory of what’s going on around them.  This is the only way we can be available and willing to help those around us who may be hurting.

Jesus once told a story about being available and willing to help our neighbor.  You can read it in Luke 10:25-37.

An expert in Old Testament Law was actually trying to trap Jesus with a question about salvation.  Of course, Jesus saw through the man’s scheme.  But, what I notice is this:  Rather than scorch the religious leader with a rebuke, Jesus begins a  conversation by kindly and calmly asking him questions, which eventually leads to a beloved – and convicting – story.

It’s an often-told story, with even many non-Christians familiar with the phrase, “good Samaritan.”

In short, a man is on a deserted road heading to his destination when he is ambushed by thugs who beat him severely, rob him, and leave him for dead.

Two church-leaders eventually walk by (each at a different time) and all but ignore the dying man.  Finally, a Samaritan sees him. Driven by compassion, he tends the man’s wounds, carries him to his donkey, sets him on it, and takes him to an inn where the man can rest and heal. Finally, he informs the inn keeper to charge the man’s bill to him.

Don’t miss this:

  • To the expert in Old Testament Law – the wounded man was a subject to be discussed.
  • To the thugs – the wounded man was someone to beat and rob.
  • To the religious leaders – the wounded man was a problem to be avoided.
  • To the inn keeper – the wounded man was a customer.
  • To the Samaritan – the wounded man was a human being to be loved and cared for, of great value and worth.
  • To Jesus – all of them were worth dying for.

 

MERE CHRISTIANITY – CLARITY in the BASICS

The Crucifixion – a Medical Account.

It’s graphic.  It’s real.  It happened.  It’s difficult to understand the power of the resurrection until we first understand the cost Christ paid.

 

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

One reason to believe we rarely consider is this:  Jesus dared his accusers to prove his claims to be wrong.  A social media post of mine this past week:

In John’s biography of Jesus he recorded many instances of people accusing Jesus of being a sinner or all the way to being demon-possessed.

In one such story Jesus confronted his accusers:

“When I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?  And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?”

In a number of places, Jesus intentionally challenged his listeners to test him. He welcomed those who wanted to question his claims and character (he still does) as long as they were willing to follow through on what they discovered.

Jesus’ challenge then – and now – exposes the two most frequent reasons why people refuse to believe in him: (1) they don’t accept his challenge to test him to begin with, or (2) they test him but are not willing to believe what they discover. 

The former bastion of atheism, British philosopher, Antony Flew, decided to take God’s challenge. Rather than enter his inquiry with bias, he honestly investigated the possibility that there could actually be a God.

What he discovered sent repercussions throughout the atheistic world.

“There is a God,” Flew found himself confessing. The evidence was indisputable.

In his book, There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his Mind, Flew writes,

“I must abide by Plato’s Socrates and follow the argument where it leads.”

The philosopher, Francis Schaeffer, said,

“[Christianity] is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer.”

The Almighty Christ is offering a kind, generous, and patient invitation to all who who’ve never placed their faith in him. “Examine me. Test me. What you discover will change your life.”

 

HIGH SCHOOL GRAD RECOGNITION – April 24th; both worship services

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

This is mind-blowing.
S5 0014+81 is the largest known supermassive black hole. Here is its size compared to our solar system (the tiny dot in the middle.)  To be clear – that tiny dot is not earth – it’s our entire Solar System.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Devil’s Delusion

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

The Navigator: 3.31.2020

 

THIS SUNDAY, 4/3

It’s one of my favorite topics: sharing our faith.  This Sunday, Sammy will bring a message that will help equip our people to share the gospel with others.  And, just in time for Easter, when many hearts are open to listening.

 

MEN’S BREAKFAST – APRIL 10th; 8:15-9am

 

This week’s tip: Courage

“But no one had the courage to speak favorably about [Jesus] in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.” – John 7:13

Thousands of people were attending an annual Jewish celebration in Jerusalem.  And most of them didn’t have the courage to stand up for what they believed.

John records in verse 12 that everyone was talking about Jesus.  But when it came time to speak up for him, no one said a word.

Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:38

Remind your class their faith and courage will be tested. 

Be fearless, nw

 

AMAZING ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY!

The oldest mention of the tetragrammatton, YHWH? Read the article from the Israeli news site here.

 

MERE CHRISTIANITY – CLARITY in the BASICS

The Triune God (often called the Trinity)

Most often referred to as the Trinity, the doctrine of the Triune Godhead is beyond mere human logic, reason, and intellect. But, the Bible clearly teaches it, and – frankly – when the scriptures are read in context, no other explanation makes sense. Join me as we mine the scriptures to see what the Bible says about the Triune God.

***Also linked below is the previous week’s session on what the Bible says about Angels.  It is extremely important to understand that angels, though terrifyingly powerful, are not the heroes in the story. Should we ever attempt to honor them they would reply, “Stop!  I am here to protect you for one reason: your Savior sent me.”

 

OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PLAYER “MEDICALLY RETIRES” DUE TO MENTAL HEALTH

From the outside looking in, Harry Miller was living the dream at Ohio State. In addition to having a 4.0 GPA as an engineering student, the junior was highly regarded as one of college football’s best offensive lineman.

But on March 10, Harry announced he would be “medically retiring” from the game after sharing his mental health struggles.

This interview is powerful.  Just over eight minutes long.  With 47 million adults struggling with mental health in 2021 (this only includes reported cases), it behooves us to educate ourselves on the topic. 

Do struggles with mental health show up in the Bible?  You bet they do.

  • In Psalm 38:10, David perfectly describes having a panic attack.
  • Psalm 88, the writer is consumed with depression, finishing his lament by writing, “Darkness is my closest friend.”

What Miller says about transparency where mental health is concerned is, in my opinion, profound:  “Maybe bravery is just being honest.”

 

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

10 HISTORICAL FACTS about JESUS from NON-CHRISTIAN SOURCES

As professor of New Testament, Jeremiah Johnston, has asserted, “There is more evidence for Jesus than for any other person in ancient history.”

Read the source here.

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

The Lion in Orion

Located 1300-1500 light years from earth in the constellation Orion.

Just below and left of center is the Horsehead Nebula (sort of looks like the head of a Sea Horse). At bottom left is the Flame Nebula. Finally, orange gases above the Horsehead Nebula are referred to as the Lion in Orion.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“You always know what a fool is thinking, because he’s always telling you.” – Jared Wilson

As a lifetime Youth Pastor, I listen to teens.   Oh, the lessons we can learn from the younger generation.  For example,…

“Empathy is the ability to see a situation, an emotion, an action through Christ’s eyes and through the other person’s heart. When I have empathy, I begin to understand the love Christ has for the hurting and see the situation from their point of view… Empathy is taking on the nature of Christ. It’s the ability to understand and take on yourself the burdens of others.” – Taylor, 19

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Seen on Facebook Marketplace…

For all my friends who’ve been feverishly looking for the bottom half of a stuffed mannequin.

And it ships for only $95.

 

SOUL FOOD:  When you’re accused of being (fill in the blank)-phobic.

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: X-tra

My apologies for failing to publish The Navigator last week!

In addition to weekly duties and preparing to preach a conference in Ft. Worth, there were more-than-usual church members who needed counseling and to be served.

That said, I must share with you some news that will set your spirit on fire.  It’s a story of what Almighty Christ is doing in our midst.  While the focus of the world is on Russia and Ukraine, consider the following and you will be reminded that, regardless of the shape of our world, we have a King who has not surrendered his throne.

You remember Jim Hardwicke.  He spoke at last October’s Appreciation Banquet.  The Lord has allowed him to teach and preach all over the world, to many remote people groups. Jim taught be how to share my faith.  And his heart is still to reach people with Jesus’ good news. (By the way, that’s what Sammy’s sermon is on next Sunday.)

The story he shared yesterday on social media is not embellished.  It is true. And it is powerful.  Pray about sharing the story with your class.  It will prepare their hearts for Sammy’s sermon.

Peace, nw

A few days ago, Michelle and I received this absolutely stunning report from the Jesus Film Project (an organization very worthy of your support). You will be shocked.

“This firsthand report comes from a part of Africa that is in great chaos. Large, heavily populated areas are ravaged by terrorist groups and militant fighters. There is broad persecution of believers and many churches have been burned.

A woman here, whom I will call ‘Carla,’ for her protection, was determined to become a suicide bomber. She hated Christians and threatened to pour boiling water on them. Soon, Carla intended to earn the favor of her god by murdering all who were not radical enough.

So, she planned a suicide bombing that would rock the government and kill many innocent people in a local market. The day approached for her sacrifice. But shortly before, Carla fell sick. During the night she experienced a profound and very real dream.

A Man in dazzling white stood before her. His face shone as brilliantly as the sun, but she could not see past the intense light. However, she did hear His voice, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. You will preach the gospel.’

When she awoke Carla was greatly confused and shaken, but healed from her illness. She knew it was Jesus who spoke to her. She went to a Christian woman she knew, telling her about the powerful dream. That woman explained the gospel and Carla prayed to receive Christ. She was transformed by the power of God—from death unto life—made a new creation in Christ.

A few days later, Jesus reappeared to her in a second dream. He said, ‘Carla, go and share this good news with the regional commander.’ She knew about that commander. He was ruthless and led the most notorious radical group in the area, responsible for the deaths of thousands.

She told her parents about the mission Jesus was sending her on. They told her she was crazy and would certainly die. Carla confidently responded, ‘I was ready to die for a false religion. So, I am happy and prepared to die for Jesus.’

But how was she to reach that commander? She did not know. He was heavily shielded and protected by several layers of security and checkpoints. Then Carla ‘just happened’ to run into a man who was connected to the radical group. She asked him to take her to his headquarters. With great hesitation, he agreed. The two got on his motorcycle not knowing what would happen.

When they arrived at a camp and checkpoint, the first of four, there were about 250 fighters. Carla openly shared the gospel with them! She said that she was on a mission and wanted to approach their commander. They scoffed and told her she would be killed. Undeterred, she continued her long journey. It took her 10 hours, and she went through three more checkpoints, each with armed fighters. Before the last checkpoint, the man who had taken her refused to go any further. She was on her own and somehow, made it through alive.

Arriving at his headquarters, the commander strangely granted her an audience. Prepared to die, Carla explained the gospel, saying that Jesus had sent her. ‘Jesus wants you to know that He is the way, the truth, and the life,’ she told him. Rather than kill her, the commander went to a table in his office, sat down, and began to weep, saying, ‘Three days ago, Jesus appeared to me in a dream. He told me that I was on a path of destruction. I must change my ways. If I don’t, I will be destroyed. Then he told me that a woman was going to come and tell me about the gospel!’

Carla was stunned and explained as best she could that Jesus was the true and living God, that He gave His life and was raised from the dead to give all who will believe forgiveness and eternal life. The commander believed. Carla led him to the Lord.

He then gave orders for all his officers to come to the camp, three truck loads. When they arrived, he told them the truth, that Jesus was the true and living God. Carla coordinated with Jesus Film staff in the country who sent video tablets containing both segments and the full ‘Jesus’ film in the local language.

Every night since, there have been showings of those segments of the full film. And every night, new fighters are coming to the camp to watch and believe—some from Yemen, Sudan, Iran, and Turkey—all fighters given to their cause but instead meet Jesus. Rather than being trained to kill, they are watching ‘Jesus’ every night! At last count nearly 1,000 people have given their lives to Christ and renounced terror. The commander has even had to relocate and go into hiding from other radical groups for his supposed betrayal.

But the best part is that, under his influence, the doors have swung wide open to sharing the gospel with tens of thousands in this dangerous area. Staff leaders are saying there is a movement of evangelism unfolding that is, in their words, ‘beyond belief—skyrocketing opportunities.’”

Michelle and I have talked personally to a number of former unbelievers from such countries who have had similar dreams of Jesus—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).