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

The Navigator: 2.14.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 2/14

Welcome Sammy & Anita Elliot!

See above for news related to this Sunday’s activities.

Rationale for cancellation of activities this Sunday: 

  1. The threat of inclement weather is probable.  Making a plan now allows people to go ahead and make their own plans to remain safely at home and join us for worship online.
  2. It eliminates the “should I try to risk the road conditions and make it to church, or not” decision.  We’ve made your decision for you.  Stay home and stay safe.

To be clear, the cancellation includes all Sunday School/Small Groups in addition to corporate worship services.  Emails have been sent to all membership but feel free to forward this information to your class if you desire.

Caveat: Of course, we could all get up on Sunday and find it sunny and 60 degrees (although I doubt this since temperatures aren’t scheduled to get above freezing for another week).  I remember when twelve inches of snow was predicted one year when I was helping host a regional youth event on the TTU campus.  So we cancelled.  How much snow did Lubbock get? None.  Alas, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

 

A VIDEO MESSAGE FROM OUR NEW PASTOR, SAMMY ELLIOT

(He recorded this before we knew we were cancelling on-campus activities.)

 

***While you’re attempting to stay warm at home, here are some resources to strengthen your faith and equip you to have intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned:

QUESTIONS ATHEISTS LOVE TO ASK

Sarah Salviander has a Ph.D. in Astrophyics.  You can read more about her here.

Salviander shares that she is commonly asked the same questions by atheists and skeptics so she published “Frequently Asked Questions by Atheists” on her web page.  It is outstanding.  Her intelligence is razor-blade sharp. Read her article here.

 

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 12 – Dangerous Faith

John, the disciple and eye-witness of Jesus, records:

10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

 Translation:  Because of his passion for telling others about Christ, Lazarus’ faith had become dangerous to Satan’s kingdom.  And the Jewish leaders wanted to murder him.

Does your faith concern Satan?

In North America, we know little to nothing of persecution for our faith.  Persecution in the west pales in comparison to Christians who are being slaughtered in Muslim and Communist areas around our globe.

The life-threatening global persecution notwithstanding, potential consequences of dangerous faith are mentioned by Princeton philosopher, Robert P. George, who wrote in Touchstone Magazine,

“The days of comfortable Christianity are past [in the West]…To be a witness to the gospel today [has the very real potential] to make oneself a marked man or woman. To unashamedly proclaim the gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal ambitions, one’s standing in society. One may, in consequence of one’s public witness, be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities, or may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement…It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members…There are costs to discipleship. Heavy costs.”

Yes, the day is coming when the line will be drawn and our faith will cost us more than ever before. I can promise you that.  Jesus promised us that.

But the truth is on our side.  Further, those around us are desperate to see Christians who, rather than nominal and casual in their faith, are brave enough to not only die for our faith, but live for it.  Every day.

I used to tell students (and still do when I speak at youth events), “Your friends are never going to be drawn to a plastic, milk-toast level of Christian faith.”

The 20th century preacher, A.W. Tozer, rightly said,

“I believe the time is coming when we will not be able to take our Christianity as casually as we do now. A scared world needs a fearless church.”

May Satan consider you dangerous, nw

 

WHY THE COVID VACCINE CAN BE A RUDE AWAKENING

NOTE: the article linked below has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, but everything to do with why some people have such strong reactions to the shots, particularly the second shot.  Get ready to be educated.

This article falls under the category of practical rather than theological.  Yet, I thought it was extremely well written and informative.  After I posted it on my Facebook page it was shared 30 times to other pages.  As such, I felt it might perhaps be of interest to you.  Read the article here.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“Apathy is a bigger problem than atheism for Christianity.” – Tim Keller

And,…

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. – unknown

One more,…

“I have had many items in my hand and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hand I still possess.” – 16th century German Reformer, Martin Luther

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

“Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog’s face he gets irritated? But when you take him in your car he sticks his head out the window?” – Steve Bluestone

“I’m desperately trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets.” – Dave Edison

“Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.” – Johnny Carson

“Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I’m halfway through my fish burger and i realize, ‘Oh no – I could be eating a slow learner.” – Lynda Montgomery

 

SOUL FOOD:  The 23rd Psalm

Charles Spurgeon’s description of this psalm is the most powerfully accurate I’ve ever read.  Read the blog here.

Solus Christus, Nick

The Navigator: 2.4.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 2/7

Preacher: Shawn Coleman

I am thrilled to announce that our University Pastor, Shawn Coleman, will be filling the pulpit this Sunday.  The University Ministry continues to grow – even during the pandemic.  He and his wife, Kimberly, have two young daughters, Abigail (6) and Mattie (3).

 

REMINDER: The articles I include in this weekly E-news are intended not only for your equipping & encouragement, but also for the “sheep” you shepherd.  I spend considerable amounts of time carefully reading and choosing resources I am convinced will help you become a better shepherd/teacher, as well as help you to engage in intellectual dialogue regarding the Christian faith. Never hesitate to forward particular articles to your class you believe will help them navigate their Christian faith.

 

BE WARNED WHEN YOU SAY, “I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE JESUS.”

This is a sobering truth…

“When we say we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we must remember what happened to the hands and feet of Jesus.” – Trevin Wax

Jesus told his followers, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

Translation: “Following me will not often be easy.  So if you choose to follow me – bring your cross.”

The disciple and eye-witness to the suffering of Jesus, Peter, wrote the following while the psychopathic tyrant, Nero, was emperor, to remind his readers that following Christ always involves suffering:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

 

“TAKE UP AND READ”

Philosopher and defender of the Christian faith, Douglass Groothuis, writes,

“Deep reading is required for wise thinking and courageous action.”

He’s right.

This is precisely why I spend so much time reading, studying and dialoguing with people about diverse, even controversial, topics.

Linked here you will find Dr. Groothuis’ “Reading Guide to Political and Cultural Discernment.” In a culture where people readily allow others to think for them, working themselves up into an emotional lather, it serves us better to develop the discipline of thinking deeply, critically, and prayerfully.  Meditating on the principles of scripture brings to us a corrective property to the madness of modern day.

Of Note: You will notice Groothuis recommends a number of books written centuries ago.  To think the latest and greatest best-seller contains the best content, permit me to include here sage advice from one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, C.S. Lewis:

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it.”

What we need is a “good, clean sea breeze.”  Lewis continues,

None of us can fully escape this blindness (to comprehensive knowledge and wisdom), but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books.  The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes.

Strongly consider picking up a copy of one of the books Groothuis recommends, and be challenged.  Read his blog here.

 

DON’T READ THE BIBLE THROUGH IN ONE YEAR

I stumbled across this blog by professor, author, and defender of the Christian faith, Sean McDowell, and thought it was brilliant.  Why?  Because Sean offers encouragement to those who, desperately trying to read the Bible through in a year, grow discouraged and quit when they fall behind in the designated schedule. From the article:

Why should [reading the Bible through in a year] be our goal? Why should our Scripture reading be about how much we read? There is undoubtedly value in daily Scripture reading. My point is not to minimize this important discipline. But honestly, how much do people really retain after the “Bible in a year plan”? My suspicion is that it may be less than we think… We should have a different goal. Rather than focusing on quantity by aiming to get through Bible entirely in 2021, focus on quality.

Read the article here.

 

A FEW GOOD MEN

You, no doubt, recognize the above phrase as used by the U.S. Marine Corp in their slogan, “We’re looking for a few good men.”

So is God.

I was raised by a single mom. The quotes below are in no way intended to minimize the value of single moms, or moms in general. My only point here is to remind men to step up and be the dad and husband (or never-married man) God clearly commands us to be. I’ve said it many times: “You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.” Model for your sons what a godly man looks like. Model for your daughters the kind of man you want her to marry. Lead your family.

“I know for a fact that had I had a father I’d have some discipline. I’d have more confidence.  Your mother cannot calm you down the way a man can.  Your mother can’t reassure you the way a man can… You need a man to teach you how to be a man.” – Rapper, Tupac Shakur

“We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.” – Former President, Barak Obama; Father’s Day; June 15, 2008

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 11 – “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”

John and Luke are the only two gospel authors who include clearly stated purposes for why they wrote their gospels.  John explains,

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

No other author records more miracles than John.  Why? Because Jesus never expected people to believe who he was based on assertions alone.  This is precisely why he, more than once, stated,

Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

If we read chapter 11 too quickly, focusing only on the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection, we will miss important details.  Here’s one for you to think about.  In 11:25-26, Jesus says to Martha,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Do you believe this?

This is the question Jesus asks us at the moment of every single back-breaking crisis of our life:  “Do you believe what I’ve told you?  Do you trust me?”

It was C.S. Lewis, in his heart-wrenching testimony about the loss of his wife, who wrote,

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.

Flashback to May 13, 2013.  The scene at the Watts house was hysterics, chaos and unspeakable pain.  Our son had taken his life.  As Michelle, Macy and I were on our hands and knees in our yard I will never – ever – forget what Michelle told Macy.  She placed her hands around Macy’s face and said these words:  “Macy, today we decide what we truly believe.”

Jesus asked a grieving Martha, on one of the worst days of her life, “Do you believe?”

Do you?

The entire lesson can be viewed here.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people’s motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans– anything except reason.” – Thomas Sowell

Sharing your faith becomes a lot easier if we follow this advice…

“Before you talk to people about Jesus, talk to Jesus about those people.”

And, this powerful truth by the 11th century philosopher & theologian, Anselm, on why God become man:

“The debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.”

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Actual 911 call – Caller:  “My wife got gored by a wart hog and I need an ambulance right now.”  Operator:  “Where is she?”  Caller: “946 Eucalyptus”.  Operator:  “Spell that for me please.”  “Ah, tell ya what – I’ll just drag her over to Oak and you can get her there.”

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:  Ichthys (the Christian fish decal)

“Actions speak louder than logos.”  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick