The Navigator: 6.10.2021

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

THIS SUNDAY, 6/13

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Teaching/Learning Tip of the Week:  ‘Sabbath’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ON THE HORIZON

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

 

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

 

DID YOU KNOW?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salviander concludes,

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

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

 

IN THE NEWS: from the L.A. Times…

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

 

ANYONE NEED A STOOL?

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

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

And,…

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

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

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Oh man, this made me laugh out loud…

And, this one…

Oh why not?  Here’s one more…

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Imagination of God

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 6.3.2021

THIS SUNDAY, June 6th

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?  Part 2 of 2

***A follow-up to last week’s Part 1.

Consider the following statements.  How would you respond?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WHAT DO THE ‘OTHER GUYS’ HAVE TO SAY?

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

For instance,…

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

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

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

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

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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

And, a bonus…

 

SOUL FOOD:  Are we bodies or souls?

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.27.2021

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

 

THIS SUNDAY, May 30th – Memorial Day Weekend

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

 

IT’S HERE!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

And,…

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

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

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

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

 

SEEN RECENTLY

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

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

 

HOW GREAT THOU ART!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS

Listen – and be filled with joy!

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

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

Consider the following familiar quote by atheist, Richard Dawkins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick

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

 

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT? (Nope)

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

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

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

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

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

 

TRIVIA!

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

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

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

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

And, this one is great…

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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

And, one more…

 

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 5.20.2021

THIS SUNDAY, May 23rd

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

 

MEMORIAL DAY SUNDAY HEADS UP

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

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

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

 

414 Evangelistic Events

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a powerful example…

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

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

 

THERE’S POWER IN THE BLOOD

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

Through Isaiah, God said,

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

Compare that to this beloved quote by Charles Spurgeon:

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

John recorded in his first letter and in Revelation,

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

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

 

HUMILIATION vs. ENCOURAGEMENT

I thought this was very interesting…

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

Thompson observes,

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


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

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

 

CHRIST & THE OLD TESTAMENT

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

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

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

This was one reason Jesus scolded the religious leaders:

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

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

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

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

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Navigator: 4.22.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/25

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

 

ON THE HORIZON

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

 

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

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

 

HOW GREAT THOU ART

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

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

 

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

COURAGE BEGETS COURAGE

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

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

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

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

From the article reference above:

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

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

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

And most are familiar with this quote by George Orwell:

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

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

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

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

I’ll gladly lead the way.  nw

 

WHAT YOUR BIOLOGY TEACHER DIDN’T TELL YOU ABOUT DARWIN

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

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

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

And…

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Basics of Life

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.16.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/18

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING…

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

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

 

BY THIS ALL WILL KNOW

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

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

Jesus didn’t mince words when he said,

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

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

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

 

PRAYING FOR CELEBRITIES

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

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

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

One of my favorite lines from Rocky 3:

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

Mr. T: ‘Pain’.

Now?

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

Mr. T: ‘Pain’

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

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

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

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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

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

If you find the wrong womanyou’re finished.

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

 

SOUL FOOD:  Psalm 119 – Side B

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.8.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/11

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

 

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

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

 

THE RISE OF THE ‘NONES’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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

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

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

 

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

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

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