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.
- An alone person in our gathering is an emergency.
- Friends can wait.
- 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.
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.
- Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project
- Ian Hutchison, professor of Nuclear Science; MIT
- Ard Louis, professor of Theoretical Physics; Oxford
- Jonathan Feng, professor Physics & Astronomy; UC-Irvine
- Rosalind Picard, professor of Affective Computing Group; MIT
- Kenneth Miller, professor of Biology; Brown
- Daniel Hastings, professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics; MIT
- Troy Van Voorhis, professor of Chemistry; MIT
- Praveen Sethupathy, asst. professor of Genetics; Cornell
- Charmain Royal, assoc. professor of Genomic Sciences; Duke
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.
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