The Navigator: 1.15.2021

 

THIS SUNDAY, 1/17 – WELCOME ELLIOTT FAMILY

The search committee has done their job.  Now, it’s up to the Body to discern God’s will for BHBC.

Sammy and I spent over two hours over lunch getting to know one another better, visiting about sundry topics related to life and ministry, BHBC’s history, going over Sunday’s worship services, and just enjoying talking and laughing together.  I was so impressed with the humility of this man.  NOTE: speaking of humility, when I asked him how he would like to be addressed he quickly replied, “Please drop the ‘dr.’  I’m not into titles.”  I promised I would pass that instruction along.

I am thrilled about Sunday and have assured Sammy I will be there to attend to his and his family’s every need.  For Sunday’s schedule simply click here.

Our prayer (in agreement with the Apostle’s prayer cited above):  “O God, show your Body your will for us.  And show Sammy and Anita your will for them.  Amen.”

 

SPEAKING OF SUNDAY – NICK RETURNS

My heart goes out to all who have suffered from COVID.  I elaborate more on my journey in my Table Talk below.  Suffice it to say, it has been a painful, and sometimes scary, experience.

That said, I can’t wait to see you all this Sunday.  It does my heart good to exalt and magnify Christ with you.  Oh, and thank you for all who have reached out to me and Michelle during these past two weeks via bringing food, running errands, and writing encouraging notes and texts.  Your love has been overwhelming.

Miraculously, Michelle never contracted the virus.   Apparently, contrary to my facetious comments – she is the one with superior genetics in our family.

 

ALSO, SPEAKING OF SUNDAY: SANCTITY OF LIFE

Holly Duncan, from Parkridge Pregnancy Center, will be sharing in both worship services this Sunday.  “For you created my inmost being,” David prayed.  “You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;…”

 

GOD, TRUMP & BIDEN

This past Wed evening, I was not able to attend church, but I felt good enough to post a Table Talk.  This was largely based on conviction from my daily devotional from that morning.

My  Table Talks average 500 views per week on my Facebook page.  Wednesday’s talk hit 500 views within a few hours and has now been viewed over 700 times.  During these troubling times, people are desperately looking for peace based on biblical truth.

I am linking this week’s Table Talk here for you via YouTube. (I transfer them to my Youtube Channel for those who don’t have a FB account).

 

THE GOSPEL of JOHN: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

Thank you to DL for supplying for me this past Wednesday evening.  I cannot say enough about this man.  I love him so much.

Join me next Wed. evening, 1/20, at 6:30, as we pick up John’s story of the most dramatic life ever lived.  We’re inside six months now from when Jesus will face the Cross.  As we approach Easter on the calendar, we do the same in John’s gospel.  The drama is building.  Join me for the ride.

 

THE MOST DANGEROUS YEAR FOR CHURCH HEALTH – BUT NOT AT BHBC

This past week, we got a message from a former member telling our staff, “Hang tough.  A new boss is on his way.”  I have no idea where that comment came from.  Clearly, it was meant in jest.

It is important, as people in place of leadership at BHBC, you read what I wrote to our staff in response: 

The note prompted a conviction I want to share and I want you all to hear it: my introduction to this thing we call “a pastoral interim period” was in 1985 while I served at a church in Abilene. Since that time I have witnessed (and, sometimes, survived) numerous more.

Here’s what I can honestly say to you: there’s not been a single moment this past year that required us to “hang tough.” I have seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly. Our staff has exemplified not merely professionalism but, more importantly, a Christ-like maturity this past year.

Dana Kluzek, Mike Lewis and myself have often used the phrase, “not only have we not missed a beat, but our staff quickly became healthier than it had been in some time.” Given the circumstances surrounding Jason’s abrupt and curious resignation, coupled with the pandemic, our church and staff could have easily imploded due to anxiety and/or a crack in our foundation of interpersonal trust.

Do you know what helped prevent that? A healthy and strong staff.

I’ve seen it over and over: as the staff goes so the church goes. Not once has there been suspicion or questions about the staff. Further, Mike, Dana and myself have, for the past year, made certain you were protected and set up for continual success.

And what can I say about DL? God knew we needed this man. What a joyful pleasure it has been to serve alongside this wise and humble servant. I will truly hate to see his interim leadership at BHBC come to an end.

Finally, I always resist statements like, “our best days are ahead,” since this implies a minimization of what God has done in the past through men like Hank Scott, Jerry Joplin and DL – as well as what he’s done through you (the staff) all this past year. I like to put it this way: “the same God who led and blessed us in past days will continue to do so if we humbly trust and follow him.”

What an absolute joy it’s been to serve alongside each one of you. I am more like Christ because of his influence on me through you. Much love, Nick

As Sammy and I visited this past week, we shared the experience of seeing how badly interim periods can become.  Our experience at BHBC has been an absolute joy.  Additionally, how many churches had to address a multi-million debt retirement campaign this past year within the context of global economic anxiety?  I’m not sure, but I know BHBC did.  And you responded in the mighty power of Christ.  Sure, 2020 was a difficult year.  But Christ was greater still.  As I told Sammy, “there’s nothing to ‘fix’ – you can hit the ground running.”

 

A PURITAN PRAYER

I often encourage believers who desire to learn how to pray (Jesus’ own disciples asked him to teach them to pray) to, first, simply pray the prayers of the Bible.

The Psalms hand us 150 prayers.  The longest prayer in scripture is in Nehemiah, chapter 9Daniel 9 contains one of my favorites.  The actual “Lord’s Prayer” is recorded for us in John 17. God was gracious enough to fill the pages of his Word with the prayers of, both, the desperate and the grateful.

Additionally, we have preserved for us prayers from believers throughout history.  As I read (and pray) these prayers my heart is challenged and my prayer life is deepened.  Sometimes, when I am hopeless and empty, I find myself returning to these prayers just to find help in what to pray.

Permit me to share an excerpt from just such a prayer from the prayer journal, The Valley of Vision:

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections, supply words that proclaim that ‘love abounds at Calvary.’

At the Cross grace removes my burdens and heaps them on the Son.  There the sword of your justice smote your Son.  There my infinite sin was magnified, and infinite atonement was made.  There infinite punishment was due, and infinite punishment endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, that I might be welcomed as a friend. He was surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, and entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, and closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness.

O God, who spared not your own Son that you might spare me, may my every breath be filled with ecstatic praise, my every step with buoyant delight.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the Cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

Amen

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

And, what I call an “ouch” quote: (“ouch” because it’s true)

“To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license,” Bill Maher (an atheist) once explained. “Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll down to the bottom and click, ‘I agree.'”

Ok – one more since it’s been a while since I posted The Navigator:

I read Thomas Nagel’s, Mind & Cosmos, during my grad studies in Christian Apologetics.

Keep in mind – the following quote exposing the holes in Darwinian evolutionary theory is not from a Christian, but a professed atheist…

“…no viable [scientifically-supported] account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and informative-rich as a self-producing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA, or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment.” – NYU atheist philosopher/professor, Thomas Nagel, positing questions for the origination of human consciousness, cognition, value and reason.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

For my fellow coffee lovers.  Coffee is the perfect-bonding-beverage; the nectar of the gods. 🙂

 

SOUL FOOD:  Hobbits & Hope

Hope is on shaky ground these days.  Oxford defender of the faith, Alister McGrath, used Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to remind us where rock-solid footing is always found.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick