The Navigator: 5.6.2021

THIS SUNDAY, May 9th – Mother’s Day

  • Sammy continues his series.  This week’s emphasis: parenting.
  • Don’t forget to continue to pray over your maps & lists.

 

COMING UP

414 Evangelistic Events

  • May 19th – Prayer walking/driving through the 79414 area.
  • May 26th; 6-8pm – Block Party in the BHBC parking lot

Mission Delta, CO;  June 17-22: if interested, please contact the church office.

Prayer Warriors Ministry:this past Wed. evening we had our inaugural meeting. Interested?  Contact the church office.

 

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

This week’s tip to help students learn:

William Danforth once said,

The best cure for a sluggish mind is to disturb the routine.

Are your students locked in?  Are they engaging?  Asking questions?  If not, it may be time to “disturb the routine” a little.

  • If you’re teaching in the traditional “lecture” method, bring in tables.  This may make the environment more conducive to discussion and learning.
  • After a time of teaching, have the people divide up into small groups and answer questions you’ve prepared before hand.
  • Consider using a different translation of scripture for a Sunday to allow the students to gain greater nuance of a particular passage.
  • Arrive dressed up as a biblical character about whom you’re teaching.  (Let me know if you do this as I will want to get it on video.)

Whatever you do, ask God to help your teaching not become stale and predictable.  Don’t be afraid to, everyone once in a while, “disturb the routine.”

 

FOR THOSE WHO ARE DISCOURAGED

I’m presently in Isaiah for my daily devotionals.  Be encouraged…

“But now, (insert your name here), listen to the Lord who created you. (Insert your name here), the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” – Isaiah 43:1-3

 

FAITH vs. FAME: According to God, they’re not even close.

“The Old Testament gives clues into the kind of history God is writing.  Exodus identifies by name the two Hebrew midwives who helped save Moses’ life, but it does not bother to record the name of the Pharaoh ruling Egypt (an omission that has baffled scholars ever since).

“First Kings grants a total of eight verses to King Omri even though secular historians regard him as one of Israel’s most powerful kings.

“In his own story, God does not seem impressed by size or power or wealth.  Faith is what he wants, and the heroes who emerge are heroes of faith, not strength or wealth.”

Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Yesterday, May 5th, was Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard’s, birthday.

Kierkegaard, when considering the holiness of God, referred to God as the “wholly other,” and is famous for many quips and quotes. In light of his birthday, this week’s wisdom is brought to you by Kierkegaard:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily.  Not to dare is to lose oneself.”

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.”

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Gospel According to Charlie Daniels

I love Charlie Daniels.  I’m sure you do too.  You’ll love him even more after you read – and listen – to what I have for you this week.  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

The Navigator: 4.1.2021

Per April Fool’s Day…

Every April Fool’s Day my mind is drawn to the scripture above.  My years of ministry, grad studies in Christian Apologetics, and my own effort to prove there is no God has all led to one conviction:  the evidence for the existence of God is overwhelming.  In short, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

Then, per Easter Sunday…

THIS SUNDAY, RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

  • Three morning worship services: 8:00; 9:15; 10:45
  • All Sunday School classes meet at regular times.
  • Please, if possible, consider attending one of the two earlier services.  Families like the one in which I grew up, who attend once a year, tend to attend the later service.  We want to make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone.

 

WHAT DO AMERICANS ACTUALLY BELIEVE ABOUT THE RESURRECTION?

Well, the answer is both good and not so good.  Interviewed in this article is Rebecca McLaughlin, an outstanding scholar and apologist for the Christian faith. She grew up in the UK and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from Cambridge and a theology degree from Oak Hill College in London. Her book, ‘Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion,’ is one of the best contemporary resources I’ve read on this topic.  This LifeWay resource article quotes her throughout. Read the article here.

 

I’M SITTING IN & LEARNING WITH YOU

  • This past Sunday – I joined the Transitions Class.
  • This coming Sunday – onto the Travelers.

 

  • Sunday evening, 4/18; 5pm; Rm 108
  • Content is of great importance.  But where teachers often fail is in how we communicate that  content.  What standard of measure are we using to let us know if we are truly connecting and our class is truly learning?

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

Sarah Salviander has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics.  She was raised with an atheistic worldview.  Ironically, it was her study of the cosmos that led her to faith in Christ.  She is a brilliant professor and author.  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.

I will include 5 “tips” each week.  Below are No’s 1-5.

Salviander writes:

There is a special type of atheist that deserves your attention. These atheists were raised in Christian families, and walked away from their faith almost as soon as they left their homes. Many of them are quite bitter about it. In speaking with these atheists, I noticed certain patterns popping up again and again. Things their parents said or didn’t say, things their Sunday school teachers told them, things their families modeled for them, issues their pastors didn’t address. These adult-child interactions were so spiritually detrimental it was as though these parents and pastors were consulting a manual on how to turn Christian children into atheist adults. If such a manual existed, it would read something like this.

  1. When your children ask difficult questions–especially questions you don’t know how to answer–just tell them God works in mysterious ways and leave it at that.
  2. Resist the urge to ever say “I don’t know, let’s look into that” to your children.
  3. If your children persist in asking difficult questions, make them feel bad about not having enough faith.
  4. If your children express doubts about Christianity, don’t discuss the reasons for their doubts. Just make them feel guilty about it.
  5. Don’t encourage your children to pray for boring things like faith, wisdom, and obedience to God.

 

From this past Wednesday evening:

To get to the resurrection we must first go through the crucifixion.  To arrive at the Empty Tomb, we must first travel through the Cross.  To celebrate Christ’s victory over sin, it behooves us to consider God’s wrath upon sin – placed upon Christ at the Cross.

Jesus, while transforming the Old Testament Passover meal into what we now call The Last/Lord’s Supper, by introducing God’s new covenant through Christ’s blood, was clear when he used the bread & wine as metaphors for his broken body and his shed blood, and said, “remember me.”

Wednesday evening, we remembered You can view the talk in its entirety here.

 

I HAVEN’T HAD THIS HAPPEN IN A WHILE

The last time I wrote something that went viral was in 2016 when I wrote my blog on the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why.  It’s was viewed over 200,000 times in over 50 countries and I was interviewed by two local news stations.  Except for a few spikes in views here and there, all has been relatively quiet – until now.  Linked here is a recent blog of mine that has now been shared from my Facebook page almost 400 times.  There’s no way to know how many times it’s been shared from the sites of those 400 who shared it.  It’s a curious thing, really.  You can view the blog here.

 

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ASTRONOMY

Many people know my first aspiration was to be an astronomer.  As such, I never cease to be amazed at the order/fine-tuning of our universe.  I caught this pic with my phone while waiting at a red light the other evening. The sun looked immense and imposing as it was setting just above the horizon. It’s hard to believe (1) it’s 93 million miles from earth, (2) unlike the earth, because the sun is made up of gaseous plasma, different parts of the sun rotate at different speeds, and (3) based on how far its light has to travel to earth, the light we see from the sun is 8 minutes old. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God.”

 

  • Dana Kluzek asked me to ask if your class might be willing to provide one meal during our new format for VBS this June.
  • VBS will take place each Wed. evening in June.
  • The meal will be offered from 6-6:30 in the FLC.
  • Can your class help while these precious children learn about Jesus?  Contact Dana.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

It is important for this generation to understand that the Jesus in whose resurrection we believe is a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew who broke through every racial and cultural barrier of His day. — Rebecca McLaughlin

I’ve never regretted checking up on a friend. I’ve never regretted encouraging someone. I’ve never regretted telling someone I’m proud of them & I believe in them. The world has enough critics – be an encourager. – Ryan Meadows

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Desperate Road to Hope

For this week’s devotional entry, I offer you seven and a half minutes of truth from Psalm 42 that, hopefully, will provide insight into the hope of the Empty Tomb.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 3.25.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 3/28

9:15 & 10:45 – Sammy reminds us that Easter nears!

4pm – 2021-22 BHBC Budget Town Hall Meeting; worship center

 

I’LL BE SITTING IN

I hear nothing but great things about your classes.  And I could never convey to you in words how much I appreciate your love, shepherding and preparation. The only regret I have about our worship services being back-to-back is that I can’t attend a small group class.  That said, in the coming weeks, after I am done with my responsibilities in the worship services, I will be dropping by and sitting in.  I’ll contact you the week before I plan on visiting your class.

 

THE 7 LAWS OF THE LEARNER: Spiritual & Practical Growth for Teachers

To whet your biblical-teaching appetite, allow me to quote the creator of the 7 Laws, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson:

This may sound a bit unusual, but the 7 Laws are the result of ten years of repentance – my repentance.  Though I had been teaching and preaching all my life, I found to my utter surprise and dismay that much of my philosophy and practice of communication had been wrong.  Incredibly wrong.  Tragically wrong.  (This coming from a guy who launched ‘Walk Through the Bible’ and has trained 100,000 professional teachers.)

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you’ve learned it all.  Even Paul, writer of the third of the New Testament confessed he had much to learn.  Rick Warren’s axiom is accurate:  When you stop learning, you stop leading.

Mark your calendars for Sun. evening, 4/18, at 5pm, Rm. 108, when we will come together to sharpen our teaching and shepherding skills.  This is required for all Small Group Leadership, both Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.  The 7 Laws are the kind of tools every leader wants in their ‘toolbox.”  Should you need childcare please let me know by 4/11.

 

MISSION DELTA

BHBC is headed to Colorado this June 17-22.  For an introduction to this missional work watch Sammy’s brief video below.

 

DID JESUS EXIST?

This is an outstanding article written by Australian Christian author, John Dickson.  Most are aware of the writings of 1st century Roman historian, Tacitus, and 1st century Jewish historian, Josephus, and their references to Jesus, making the question of his existence virtually indisputable. However, Dickson takes extra-biblical references even further.

Even Bart Ehrman, a historian and professor at Duke who describes himself as “agnostic with atheistic leanings,” in his book, Did Jesus Exist?, wrote:

The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.

Read the solid article by John Dickson here.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 16The Forgotten God

In his book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, R.C. Sproul is spot on:

“Because the Spirit is mysterious, we are vulnerable to superstitions and distortions of his person and work.”

For a couple of reasons, Baptists are either biblically ignorant of, or ignore altogether, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Even the beloved and learned Chuck Swindoll admits:

“During my growing up years, including my years in seminary, I kept a safe distance [from talking about the Holy Spirit.]  I was taught to be careful…not to enter into any of the realms of His supernatural workings or to tolerate the possibility of such.

But, John MacArthur wrote precisely what Swindoll affirms:

Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with His Spirit. Although every Christian is indwelt, baptized, and sealed by the Spirit, unless they are also filled with the Spirit, they will live in spiritual weakness, frustration and defeat.

This past Wed., we mined the scriptures regarding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.  Why? Because Jesus had much to say to his disciples about the Spirit’s arrival on the night before he was crucified.  The disciples were confused, and, sadly, most believers even today, are no different.

Francis Chan, in his book, The Forgotten God:

There is a big gap between what we read in scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today… If I were Satan, and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get Christians to ignore the Holy Spirit.

He continues:

The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes a purely human creation.  We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.

We finished the time of learning focusing on why much of North American Church culture is impotent in its effort to change their communities.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.  Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.”

Don’t miss this:  Paul is writing to Christians So why would he admonish them to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Doesn’t the Spirit already fill us?  No, he doesn’t.  At the moment of conversion, you were immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  But, based on Paul’s words to the Ephesians Christians, although we are indwelt by the Spirit, this in no way suggests we are filled with the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is evident in us only when we allow the Spirit to fill and control us.  For example, when we gossip, hold grudges, have issues with patience, anger, hatred, sexual sin, criticize, pass judgment on others, and so on, although we are indwelt by the Spirit, we are most clearly not being filled with Him.

You can watch the lesson in its entirety below.

FYI, the remaining Wed. evening schedule:

  • 3/31 – John 18-19 – Medical Account of the Crucifixion of Christ
  • 4/7 – John 20 – The Resurrection of Christ
  • 4/14 – John 21 – Jesus is risen!  What difference does that make?
  • Next Fall – the book of Daniel

 

DATES, INFO & MINISTRY NEEDS

  • 3/28 – 5pm; Town Hall Discussion regarding 2021-2022 church budget.
  • 3/31 – 6:30pm; Budget Vote only; no discussion
  • 4/4 – Easter Sunday; regular schedule except we’re adding an 8am worship service to accommodate the larger Easter crowd. If at all possible, make plans to attend one of the two earlier services to allow room for people who don’t normally attend.  These folks typically attend the later service.
  • VBS; new schedule and concept – Once again, Dana Kluzek is on the cutting edge of creativity and ministry efficiency.  This year, VBS will take place on successive Wed. evenings in June: 6/2, 6/9, 6/16, 6/23, and 6/30. Each evening will begin with a simple meal in the FLC.  Dana has asked for classes to consider providing one of those meals.  Also, if you are interested in serving as a VBS volunteer contact Dana.
  • Youth Camp – June 7-12; Lone Tree Bible Ranch; Capitan, NM.
  • Mission Delta – June 17-22; Delta, CO.

 

RECENT DEAD SEA SCROLLS DISCOVERIES

Fascinating…  Read the article here.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“Much of the history of Christianity has been devoted to domesticating Jesus – to reducing that elusive, enigmatic, paradoxical person to dimensions we can comprehend, understand, and convert to our own purposes.  So far it hasn’t worked.” – Andrew Greeley

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

A lady took out an ad in the classifieds:  “Husband Wanted.”  The next day she received a hundred replies. They all said the same thing:  “You can have mine.”

A young son asked, “Is it true, Dad, that in some countries a man doesn’t know his wife until he marries her?”  Dad replied, “That happens in every country, son.”

 

SOUL FOOD: America & the Supernatural

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 3.11.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 3/11

  • Set your clocks ahead one hour!
  • Sammy continues Part 2 of a 3 part series on our journey to the Promised Land.

 

MAPS & LISTS

It is our desire to keep Sammy’s plea before you.  In every gospel, as well as in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus commands us to share our faith.  It’s a command, not a suggestion.

Keep in mind your “maps” (the biblical word is ‘oikos’, meaning ‘family’ or ‘household’) i.e. those demographics of relationships with which the Lord has entrusted you.  This could be family, people at work, school, recreation, the grocery store, etc.  Then, ask God to lay specific names on your heart that need to hear about Christ.  And, the following counsel by Sean McDowell is worth sharing:  Always talk to Jesus about people before you talk to people about Jesus.

 

“IN WAY OF REMINDER…”

Both Paul & Peter use the phrase, “in way of reminder.”  It’s been a while since I included the following fundamentals for Small Group/Sunday School Leaders. This list is not exhaustive.  But, looking back from the perspective of now 38 years in vocational ministry, I would’ve been so very grateful if someone would’ve said, “Nick, here are some biblical basics for shepherding sheep in a way that honors God. Hold tightly to them.”

  1. You can’t give what you don’t have. Be faithful and disciplined in your own spiritual growth via daily devotional time involving biblical study, prayer, scripture memory, and meditation – even if its just for a few minutes. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (emphasis mine) Even Jesus withdrew often to pray and spend quiet time with the Father.  Additionally, you’ve, no doubt, heard, “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket.” If your “well is ever dry” and you need a break/sabbath, let me know.
  2. Take your role as seriously as God does. James, the half-brother of Jesus, gave this warning: Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  Be a disciplined and responsible student of scripture. Study context. Prepare systematically. Pray fervently. Think deeply. Take the time to think and work through hard passages. When you stop learning, you stop leading. On a practical level, one theologian offered the following in regard to studying a passage of scripture:  “If we can know the author, the audience, and the purpose the author had in mind, this goes a long way in understanding what God is saying to us in that passage.” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15)
  3. Know why you believe what you believe.  In Peter’s first letter we find this: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason (a logical defense) for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ Why was it a priority for Peter to include this?  Because Peter was writing this letter during the oppressive reign of the psychopath, Nero.  Christians everywhere were terrified of being tortured and executed for their faith.  Yet, persecution, as it commonly does, birthed boldness and courage in Jesus’ followers.  Peter was saying, “Keep this in mind as you tell people about Jesus: people need to know we’re not offering them some half-baked pseudo-religion, as offered by the Roman pantheon of gods.  Be prepared to tell people why Christianity is by faith, but not blind faith. These are dark times.  People need to know what we believe is real.”  Translation to modernity: “People need to know why the biblical Christian faith is more reasonable – why it makes more sense of reality – than Buddhism, Mormonism, Islam, Post-Modernism, etc.”
  4. Lead with love. Jesus said, “By this all will know if you follow me, if you love one another.” Later in the same discourse, he said, My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Your class may not always remember what you taught them, but they will always remember how you treated them.  I read a poll once asking over 3000 people why they chose to return to a particular church.  Number one answer?  “Because I felt loved.”
  5. Lead by serving. Jesus said – and modeled – “The greatest among you shall be your servant.”  Sheep are led, not driven.  Be on time for your class.  Always show up prepared for your class.  Our listeners can smell “winging it” a mile away.
  6. Regularly share the gospel with your class for two reasons. (1) Never assume everyone who attends is a Christian, and (2) it will remind and equip your class to share their faith as well.

 

WEB SITE UPDATES

Would you do me the favor of checking our web site and making certain all information related to your class is correct?  If it isn’t, please email or call with current information and I will update.  View our Small Group Leadership page here.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 15 – What does ‘abide in the vine’ mean?

FYI, the remaining Wed. evening schedule:

  • 3/17 – No Activities the week of Spring Break
  • 3/24 – John 16-17 – Final words of encouragement for the disciples; The actual Lord’s Prayer
  • 3/31 – John 18-19 – Medical Account of the Crucifixion of Christ
  • 4/7 – John 20 – the Resurrection of Christ; Thomas’ doubt (is it ok to doubt our faith?)
  • 4/14 – John 21 – Breakfast with Jesus; Feed my sheep.

This past Wednesday we continued to peek over the shoulders of Jesus and his disciples as Jesus was saying the last things he wanted them to hear before his death.

In the opening verses of chapter 15, Jesus uses the word “abide/remain” ten times.  Think he’s trying to get a point across?

The Greek word translated “remain” means to “stay around.”  Sounds simple, right?  But, it’s believers’ misunderstanding – or disregard altogether – of this biblical principle that has produced, in large part, the impotence of modern North American Christianity.

Throughout my years in youth ministry, a common call I received was from a parent lamenting their estranged relationship with their teen.  “We’ve grown so far apart,” they would share.  I would recommend we all meet together.  The tension in the room was palpable, representing a light-year-wide-gap between the parent and the teen.  All evidence of intimacy was gone.

What is critical to understand is that this relational ‘parting of the ways’ didn’t happen over night. It was a slow burn.  Then – one day the parent and/or child wakes up only to find they no longer feel like they know their child, and vice versa.  My role was always driven by a singular goal:  help them restore intimacy.

This is a perfect picture of the lost intimacy between God and his children.  We’re busy, in a rush, irritated, distracted, so on and so on.  And, in many instances, we’re just not that interested in God anymore i.e. “Why make my relationship with God a priority? Life seems pretty darn good without him.”

In the opening statements of John 15, Jesus is saying, “Can you imagine how foolish it would be for you to cut a branch off a tree and then water and fertilize the branch?  Yet, this is precisely the imagery of when you disconnect/unplug from me.  It’s only a matter of time until your failing spiritual health (manifested in your words and actions) dies.”

Henry Blackaby, in his powerful study, Experiencing God, rightly said,

“Our love relationship with God is more important than any other single factor in your life. Everything in your Christian life, everything about knowing Him and experiencing Him, everything about knowing His will, depends on the quality of your love relationship to God.”

Abide in Christ. Daily.

 

THE 7 LAWS OF THE LEARNER: Becoming Better Teachers

Mark your calendars for Sun. evening, 4/18, at 5pm, Rm. 108, when we will come together to sharpen our teaching and shepherding skills.  This is for all Small Group Leadership, both Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.  The ‘7 Laws’ are the kind of tools every leader wants in their ‘toolbox.”  Should you need childcare please let me know.

 

DATES, INFO & MINISTRY NEEDS

  • 3/28 – 5pm; Town Hall Discussion regarding 2021-2022 church budget.
  • 3/31 – 6:30pm; Budget Vote only; no discussion
  • 4/4 – Easter Sunday; regular schedule except we’re adding an 8am worship service to accommodate the larger Easter crowd.
  • VBS; new schedule and concept – Once again, Dana Kluzek is on the cutting edge of creativity and ministry efficiency.  This year, VBS will take place on successive Wed. evenings in June: 6/2, 6/9, 6/16, 6/23, and 6/30. Each evening will begin with a simple meal in the FLC.  Dana has asked for classes to consider providing one of those meals.  Also, if you are interested in serving as a VBS volunteer contact Dana.
  • Youth Camp – June 7-12; Lone Tree Bible Ranch; Capitan, NM.

 

PRAYER REQUESTED

Next week I will be preaching an atypical revival in McKinney, TX.  By ‘atypical’, I mean two things:  (1) Rather than being sponsored by a single church, this is a multi-church outcry for revival.  It has been quite humbling to watch the progress of spiritual preparation by the people.  And, (2) rather than being held in a church, it’s being held in an outdoor amphitheater.  I do not feel adequate.  Please pray that I will know how to get out of the way so that God can release fresh wind and fresh fire.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The cross of Christ is “the stillpoint in a turning world. Everything before leads up to it.  Everything that follows flows from it. It is the climax of the story, the centerpiece of the whole drama.”T.S. Eliot

“In prosperity, our friends know us.  In adversity, we know our friends.”G.K. Chesterton

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

This week’s entry falls not under the category of ‘laughter’ as much as it does under the category of ‘holy mackerel that’s cool!’  When I first saw this picture it took me a minute.  But, when I saw it, I was blown away.

 

SOUL FOOD:  Marriage is Hard (but worth the work)

Marriage has been cheapened over the years, most couples choosing to live together to see how it works out.  One person asked me, “What good is a piece of paper?”, referring to a marriage license.  But I submit to you that biblical marriage matters.  And, for those of us with a spouse, it’s worth the effort to keep our marriage healthy. Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 3.4.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 3/7

Series: Promised Land – Pt 1: Don’t settle for the wilderness

Text:  Passages in Exodus & Deuteronomy

 

COVID MASK POLICY UPDATE

After Governor Abbott made the announcement to open Texas 100% on March 10th, our leadership met and agreed on the following:

All signs that had been placed on doors asking you to wear a mask have been removed (we are no longer asking people to wear a mask on campus.)  We simply request people to apply personal responsibility.  If you feel safer wearing a mask, please do so.  If you feel it’s no longer necessary, feel free to not wear one.

 

THE SUBTLE AND SYSTEMATIC EROSION OF TRUTH

In 2014, I read an article titled, ‘Chilling words from the highest ranking Soviet bloc intelligence officer to ever defect.’

It affected me to the degree that I saved it.

What follows is a pericope taken from an interview with Romanian Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa, in connection with the release of his, at that time, most-recent title “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism.”

Here’s what he said when asked about a government’s strategy for using disinformation to change the ethos of a nation:

“In 1978, when I broke with communism, I left in my office safe a slip of paper on which Gen. Sakharovsky had scrawled: ‘Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo.’ (A drop makes a hole in a stone not by force but by constant dripping.) That Latin saying, Sakharovsky explained, encapsulated the whole concept of disinformation and framing. Lying next to it was Mao Zedong’s version: ‘A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth.’ The Kremlin’s repeated lie that Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope has become the ‘truth’ —a lie so firmly established against all evidence to the contrary, that for most educated people who have not looked closely at the subject, there seems nothing to discuss.” [end quote]

Like the serpent in Genesis 3, lies don’t announce their arrival, they slither in unnoticed.  When necessary, stand bravely for biblical truth.  Never shrink from biblical conviction. 

George Orwell famously said,

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

Orwell was repeating, in principle, what Jesus prayed two millennia ago,

“I have given [my followers] your word and the world has hated them,… Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

To those going into battle for Middle Earth, Tolkiens’ Gandalf offered,

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

Be brave.  Don’t let others do your thinking for you.  And remember what is true:

“In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous; I have overcome the world.” – Jesus Christ

nw

 

Prayer Is Never Out of Season

God is always available. Pray in your bed at midnight, and God will not say, “I will listen to you tomorrow on your knees.” Pray upon your knees, and God will not say, “I will hear you at church on Sunday.” Prayer is never out of season, for God never sleeps and is always present.

Thomas Merton said,

“The only way to fail in prayer is not to show up.”

nw

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 14 – Only One Way to Heaven?

I’ve been asked before, “Don’t all religions lead to God?”

Not according to Jesus.

When Thomas asked him, “How can we know the way?”, Jesus replied:

“I AM the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

One writer aptly wrote,

“All religions are not the same.  All religions do not point to [the God of the Bible.]  All religions do not say that all religions are the same.  At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is – or is not. Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known one. Every religion at its core is exclusive.”

When I see the familiar bumper sticker, ‘Coexist’, spelled out in the icons of different religions I think to myself, “Coexist? Yes.  Co-agree? No.”  I’ve written a blog on this topic here.

The Christian faith is exclusive and, as such, offensive.  People don’t want to hear that, as one ancient theologian wrote, “the only way to God is through God.”

But their argument isn’t with us, it’s with Christ.

nw

 

ANNIE ARMSTRONG OFFERING EMPHASIS THIS SUNDAY

This offering is specifically for mission work in North America.

 

PRACTICAL STUFF:

  • I am presently planning our next time of learning and training to help sharpen our teaching skills while also providing you with encouragement and inspiration.  Date and time are forthcoming.  First on the docket: The 7 Laws of the Learner.
  • Please do your best to start on time.  This is more of a problem among our 9:15 classes.  Your people don’t arrive on time?  They will when you begin starting on time.  If we applied the same “we’ll start when everyone arrives” line of thinking in the 10:45 service we wouldn’t being until 11:00.  If you start on time you will be able to end on time, allowing your class time to visit and use restrooms before the worship service begins. Help us out!  Be early.  And start on time.

 

Quote of the Week

Too Old for Fairy Tales? (not a chance :))

What follows is the dedication to “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” from the “The Chronicles of Narnia”, written by C.S. Lewis to his God-child, Lucy Barefield.

My Dear Lucy,

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow much quicker than books.  As a result, you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still.  But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.  You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it.  I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be….”

Your affectionate Godfather, C.S. Lewis

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

Soul Food: The Two Deaths of Ravi Zacharias

Zacharias was one of present day’s greatest and most gifted Christian apologists.  But he maintained a secret life of wickedness – and it finally caught up with him.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 2.25.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 2/28

Preacher: Sammy

Part 3 of 3:  Our love for one another

 

THE EQUALITY ACT & FREEDOM OF RELIGION

This is not a political post, but rather a biblical one.

My reasons for including this in the Navigator are:

  1. The local church should never exist in a bubble.  Having basic knowledge of topics that are white-hot nationally will, hopefully, help you better engage in intelligent dialogue about this topic, both, with your class and in the marketplace.
  2. To be prepared, when the time comes, to stand strong for biblical  truth.

I don’t know if I’ll see it in my lifetime.  But it’s only a matter of time until preaching on, or standing up for, biblical sexuality and gender will become ‘hate speech’, subject to prosecution.   Businesses, celebrities and the mindless masses on social media continue to impose their convictions on the rest of us in the name of tolerance.  (I have posted more than once, ‘Those who champion tolerance are, often, the most intolerant, hateful and bigoted.  They want to hear your opinion as long as it’s their opinion coming out of your mouth.’)  Speaking of businesses who’ve buckled under the pressure, recent news is that even Mr. Potato Head is now losing his male gender.  (Yes, I’m serious. Read about it here.)  From the article:

“Culture has evolved,” Hasbro SVP and GM Kimberly Boyd explained to Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

While the Bill of Rights give us Freedom Of Religion, there are many who advocate for Freedom From Religion. This is sneaky, not to mention unconstitutional.  (By the way, should the teaching of any biblical doctrine become a crime sooner than later I will not shrink from teaching ‘the whole counsel of God’ – regardless of the consequences.  Moreover, I will be one of the people leading the way to fight for our rights.)

NOTE: Don’t think for a minute my conviction regarding this topic in any way determines or affects my love for anyone who believes differently.  Just ask my gay friends.

All over the news and social media is what will be the probable passing of the Equality Act.  The policy is convoluted because (1) it is designed to actually amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act which, argued well in one article here, is far different than the Equality Act, and (2) proponents of the policy are bullying anyone who dare question the Act, accusing them of being opposed to equality, which is foolishness.  In short, if you have personal and/or biblical convictions regarding the topics of homosexuality and transgender, you are labeled as a backwoods hatemonger void of compassion. (Actually, science argues for there being only two genders.  The Bible affirms this.  It appears science is trumpeted only when convenient, and ignored when it doesn’t fit someones’ narrative or agenda.)

To no one’s surprise, those who oppose the Equality Act, far from offered respect for their convictions on sexuality and gender, are vilified, castigated, and verbally assaulted in the most judgmental and acrimonious manner.

One of the greatest quotes I’ve read in response to this mindset:

Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate. – Lee Strobel

Think deeply.  Pray fervently.  Stand strong in biblical truth.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH DARK TIMES – TIM KELLER

Tim Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, as well as a strong and erudite defender of the Christian faith.  (I recommend his book, The Reason for God.)

Linked here for you is a short sermon by Keller titled, How to Deal With Dark Times.  It’s excellent.  His primary text, Psalm 88, is one I’ve used often when counseling people going through the dark times.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 13 – UnChristian

In John 13, Jesus is one day from completing his mission – the Cross.

The parting words of a dying man are telling.  Some share final philosophies, final affections, final requests.  Less than 24 hours from being executed, Jesus, in John 13, is sharing parting words with his closest friends.

One of those words is this:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

There are numerous sermons in these two statements, alone.  Permit me to point out just one principle/truth.

In vs 35, Jesus is saying that our love for one another is our distinguishing characteristic.  Not church attendance, or how much we give, or how much scripture we can recite (Satan can quote the entire Bible).  Everything begins with Christ’s love in us being shared with others.  Paul made this crystal clear:

If 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.

In his outstanding book, UnChristian, David Kinnamen, interviews thousands of non-Christians about their perception of the Christian faith.  Look at what he says:

“A non-believers most common reaction to the Christian faith [is this]: they think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind… One person made this blunt observation: Christianity has become bloated with blind followers who would rather repeat slogans than actually feel true love and compassion.”

Ouch.

Loving one another, as Christ loved us, is the manifest evidence of a transformed life. Actions really do speak louder than words.  I close with another ‘ouch’ quote by the late Brennan Manning, a recovering alcoholic who eventually became an Episcopal Priest as well as an extremely gifted author.  (I recommend his books, Ragamuffin Gospel and Ruthless Trust.)  Here’s what he said:

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

Never think for a moment that (1) how we treat one another doesn’t matter, and (2) that the lost world isn’t watching.  Watch the entire lesson here.  nw

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

[Because of the Gospel], “the finger of God is at work. Demons flee. The grip is lifted. Satan’s house is plundered, his kingdom is being dismantled.  At the center of it all stands Jesus Christ.”  – Darrell Bock

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

You Know It’s Time to Diet When…
  1. You are diagnosed with a flesh-eating virus and the doctor gives you 22 more years to live.
  2. Your drivers license says, “Picture continued on other side.”

 

SOUL FOOD:  Hell Under Fire

No one in their right mind enjoys teaching on the doctrine of hell.  That said, God chose to have his Son talk about hell more than heaven.  So, it behooves us to know what the Bible says about it.  Because once we do, the word ‘saved’ takes on a whole new meaning.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 2.19.2021

As the sub-zero temperatures held their death-grip, I would think about the above quote from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.  Narnia – where it was always winter.  Well, until Aslan roared.

“Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5

 

THIS SUNDAY

Preacher: Sammy – Part 2 of 3 in a series on the love of God

 

SHEPHERD YOUR SHEEP

I know – I keep saying this.  But, we forget, right?  Which is precisely why both Paul and Peter would use the phrase, “In way of reminder,” when writing letters to believers.

COVID, coupled with the winter weather we’re experiencing, can make us feel isolated.  Sheep do not ever need to be isolated.  They/we weren’t designed that way.  So, always remember to reach out with a call, an email or a text just to check on them.

 

SOBERING FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT

A warning to the sneaky, scheming, and manipulating…

“If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder on others, it will crush you instead.” – Proverbs 26:27

Thinking about sabotaging the reputation or plans of another?  Think again. And save your own life a world of hurt.

 

CARMAN LICCIARDELLO:  1956-2021

 

After Carman passed away this past Tuesday, 2/16, at a Las Vegas hospital due to complications associated with a hernia surgery, one writer penned: “There will never be another Carman.”

He was the Elvis of Christian music. His music played a huge role in my youth ministry. We attended concerts. Watched his music videos (my favorite is ‘Witch’s Invitation”). On one summer mission trip our youth choir – 100 strong – sang a musical comprising choral arrangements of all Carman songs. And on more than one Easter Sunday I’ve sung his powerful ‘Sunday’s On the Way.’

My girls are good friends with Carman’s niece, Loni Licciardello. She did my daughter, Kelsie’s, makeup before her and Brandon’s Wedding No. 2 near Branson, MO. I got to visit with Loni that day. My daughter, Macy, told her I sing ‘Sunday’s On the Way’ on some Easter Sundays. Loni later told Macy Watts she told Carman about that. He told her, “He may keep me out of a job.” 🙂

I will keep singing it.

 

A PRAYER

From The Valley of Vision:

O incomprehensible but prayer-hearing God,

I thank you for the riches to me in Jesus – for the unclouded revelation of him in your Word where I behold his person, character, grace, glory, humiliation, sufferings, death and resurrection.

I come to you with nothing of my own to offer – no works, nothing of worth, no promises. Just me.

Deliver me from the natural darkness of my own mind, from the corruptions of my heart, from the temptations to which I am exposed, from the daily snares that attend me.

O Lord, I am astonished at the difference between what I receive and what I deserve – the heaven I am bound for, the hell I deserve.

O God, it is amazing that we can talk so much about our mere human power and goodness when, if you did not hold us back at every moment, we would be devils incarnate.

Nothing exceeds your power. Your might is infinite, your grace limitless, your name glorious.

Let angels sing for sinners repenting, for prodigals restored, for Satan’s captives released, for blind eyes opened, for broken hearts healed, for giving us hope in a sometimes hopeless world.

Destroy in me every lofty thought.  Break my pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds.

Let my words and actions be firmly rooted in your Word.

I ask great things of a great God.

Amen

 

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet…darkness is the time to listen. – Oswald Chambers

Tell me about the God you don’t believe in. There’s a good chance I don’t believe in that God either. – Tim Keller

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” – Steve Martin

“Frisbee-tarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” – George Carlin

I’m not fat – I’m just easier to see.

 

SOUL FOOD: The Privilege of Drawing Near to God (and what it cost)

Until the New Covenant was instituted by Jesus as the Last Supper, approaching God was different than it is now.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick