The Navigator: 3.25.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 3/28

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

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

 

I’LL BE SITTING IN

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

MISSION DELTA

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

 

DID JESUS EXIST?

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

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

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

Read the solid article by John Dickson here.

 

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

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

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

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

Even the beloved and learned Chuck Swindoll admits:

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

But, John MacArthur wrote precisely what Swindoll affirms:

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

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

Francis Chan, in his book, The Forgotten God:

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

He continues:

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

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

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

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

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

You can watch the lesson in its entirety below.

FYI, the remaining Wed. evening schedule:

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

 

DATES, INFO & MINISTRY NEEDS

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

 

RECENT DEAD SEA SCROLLS DISCOVERIES

Fascinating…  Read the article here.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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

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

 

SOUL FOOD: America & the Supernatural

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 3.11.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 3/11

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

 

MAPS & LISTS

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

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

 

“IN WAY OF REMINDER…”

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

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

 

WEB SITE UPDATES

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

 

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

FYI, the remaining Wed. evening schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abide in Christ. Daily.

 

THE 7 LAWS OF THE LEARNER: Becoming Better Teachers

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

 

DATES, INFO & MINISTRY NEEDS

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

 

PRAYER REQUESTED

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

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

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

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

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

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

 

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 3.4.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 3/7

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

Text:  Passages in Exodus & Deuteronomy

 

COVID MASK POLICY UPDATE

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

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

 

THE SUBTLE AND SYSTEMATIC EROSION OF TRUTH

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

It affected me to the degree that I saved it.

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

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

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

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

George Orwell famously said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nw

 

Prayer Is Never Out of Season

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

Thomas Merton said,

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

nw

 

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

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

Not according to Jesus.

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

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

One writer aptly wrote,

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

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

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

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

nw

 

ANNIE ARMSTRONG OFFERING EMPHASIS THIS SUNDAY

This offering is specifically for mission work in North America.

 

PRACTICAL STUFF:

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

 

Quote of the Week

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

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

My Dear Lucy,

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

Your affectionate Godfather, C.S. Lewis

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

Soul Food: The Two Deaths of Ravi Zacharias

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

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick