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:
“TAKE UP AND READ”
Philosopher and defender of the Christian faith, Douglass Groothuis, writes,
“Deep reading is required for wise thinking and courageous action.”
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.
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?”
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