THIS SUNDAY, 10/10
- Sammy unpacks the third of four pillars related to his vision for BHBC. This week’s topic is, in the word’s of the rock group, Queen: “a crazy little thing called love.”
I simply wanted to tell you how grateful I am for you, your devotion to Christ, your love for people, and for being a part of our Appreciation Banquet this past Sunday evening. Additionally, thank you for your continued notes and texts I continue to receive regarding the evening.
A huge thank you goes out to Cindy Andrews, the Men in Black, and the rest of her team who did everything I envisioned to help say “thank you” to all of you.
I have already invited a potential guest speaker for next year’s banquet. I have no idea if their schedule would even allow for them to come. All I can tell you is that I “reached for the stars” with this one.
Every time I bring a guest in for a ministry event I tell them the same thing: “I know God is use you to minister to us; but I am praying God uses us to minister to you, as well.” I want you to know Jim and Michelle Hardwicke were lifted up by your love and joy.
As I was reflecting what God had convicted Jim to present to us, the Holy Spirit brought to mind Jim’s thesis: “A call from God = a profound impression that God wants you to do something for Him.”
May we never fall into Satan’s trap of thinking “this is what God’s called me to do forever. I’m comfortable here.” A study of the scriptures reveals two clear principles regarding his activity in our life:
- God calls us by assignment. Every person God used throughout scripture was “interrupted” from their otherwise normal life and given an assignment. Just look at Abraham, Moses, David, Gideon, the prophets, the apostles, the list goes on and on. David was a shepherd, a musician, a king, and a poet. Samuel served as a prophet, priest, judge and anything else God wanted him to do.
- God is not concerned with how comfortable we are in life. In fact, scripture testifies that God quite likes making us uncomfortable. I often quote C.S. Lewis here: “If you’re looking for a religion that will make you feel comfortable, I would certainly not recommend Christianity.”
Is God’s still, small voice “interrupting” your life? Be still. Listen. And then, ask God for the courage to step out of your comfort zone and follow him. Or, to quote the title of a book of mine by John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.
The question is not only, “Was there strong Bible teaching?”, but also, “Was there strong Bible learning?” This week’s tip: Is your class “closed” or “open?”
During a Staff Meeting today, I found out that in 2013, after our entire church completed a survey, the answers regarding Sunday School told a heart-breaking story: our Sunday School groups felt “closed” to guests. Ouch.
What is a “closed group” vs. an “open group?”
- Some groups are designed to be closed. For instance, a women’s study is for women only. A military veterans’ group is for veterans only. You get the idea.
- However, “closed groups” should never be a part of the DNA of our BHBC small group ministry. Closed groups have the feel of a “holy huddle” – a club, of sorts. A closed group places little to no emphasis on reaching new people for their class. “Why rock the boat with ‘new blood?'” They’re comfortable with who already attend. And, should a new person visit the class, the new person tends to feel like they’re “on the outside looking in,” like the proverbial “fifth wheel.” That new person will never be back. I can promise you that. Would you come back?
- Just as I covered back in April when we addressed “The Art of Welcoming,” I honestly don’t think our leadership at BHBC would ever intentionally exclude new guests. Our leaders are wonderful. It’s easy to become comfortable with those who’ve been attending for a while. (Satan will make sure of it.) As in “The Art of Welcoming,” we simply have to make certain we are intentional in our efforts to help people feel welcome, being careful not to introduce ourselves and then immediately return to visiting and sitting with our long-time friends, leaving the guests out of the conversations.
- When someone brand new walks into your class, how do you think they feel? Like your class is closed, or open? Our goal is to make them feel more loved than they’ve ever felt by a church, warmly welcomed, as we show them genuine interest and joy.
- By the way, never – ever – forget the war that is playing out spiritually at the moment a guest (or someone who hasn’t been in a while) walks through your classroom door. It’s stressful enough just mustering the courage to visit (or return to) a church. Satan attaches himself to their anxiety and fear. All they need is one reason to turn around and go home. We just never want that reason to be us.
- The exhibit will be in the Commons all morning.
- One table will represent our small group ministry (Sunday School & Wed. evenings).
- Should you have anything specific you would like for me to include let me know.
IS “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED” BIBLICAL?
I post a lot of theology and food-for-thought on social media, and receive some great responses that have led to solid conversations (I’m involved in one now regarding this topic).
Every now and then, I am surprised by how much response a particular post receives. Printed for you here is one such post that I wrote just a couple of days ago. As of today it’s been shared 55 times. It’s a basic doctrine of scripture sometimes referred to as “the perseverance of the saints.” Hopefully, it is elementary theology to you. But, apparently, there are many out there who are very curious as to what the Bible has to say about whether or not we can lose our salvation. nw
Can a person who’s sincerely professed their faith in Christ lose their salvation?
First of all, what a miserable, not to mention terrifying, way to live – always wondering if you’ve been good enough to merit being saved. Always wondering if you’re headed for heaven or hell.
Second, over and over again, the Bible teaches that the possibility of losing one’s salvation is a lie from the father of lies to keep a person in bondage to “salvation by works” i.e. “If I work hard enough to be good… If I can check off all the boxes on my ‘good’ list, then God will love me.”
The problem with this is obvious. Do your best to keep checking off those boxes. Then, tomorrow – start all over again. Insanity. This is a weight no human being can carry, much less accomplish.
On the Cross, Jesus both bore that weight for us and accomplished what was necessary for our redemption. This is what he meant when, from the Cross, he said, “It is finished.”
Jesus always chose his words carefully. When he visited with Nicodemus about being saved, Jesus used the words “born again.” Why did he do this? To convey truth. You and I can call our parents awful names and say mean things to them. But, the truth remains: we’re still their child. We can’t be “un-born” from them.
The same applies, as Jesus told Nicodemus, to our being “born of the Spirit.” We can’t be “un-born again” spiritually any more than we can be “un-born” from our parents physically.
To put it another way, our fellowship may be broken. But the relationship never changes. (The younger son in Luke 15:11-24, although hatefully rebellious, never ceased to be his father’s son – the father representing God.)
Different faith-worldviews abound promoting a “work your way to heaven” theology. In other words, “if my good works outweigh my bad works when I die, I get into heaven.”
You won’t find that lie in the Bible. What you’ll find is just the opposite.
Paul wrote, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
In short, we can’t un-earn what we didn’t earn in the first place.
Author, Philip Yancey, rightly said, “There’s nothing we can do to make God love us any more; and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less.”
God’s love for us – and our eternal salvation – is fixed, inexorably, not on what we’ve done, but on what Jesus did on the Cross.
This is why, when the Philippian jailer asked Paul what he needed to do to be saved, Paul replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
Good works are not required for our salvation; rather they are evidence of our salvation. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.”
Can a person who’s professed their faith in Christ lose their salvation?
To quote author/pastor, Nate Pickowicz:
“The question is not: Can a person lose their salvation? Rather, the real question is: Can God lose a Christian?”
What an adventure.
In his teens, Daniel is taken prisoner and taken to a foreign country he’s never seen before – a country that is hostile to his faith. He will never again return to his home land.
At almost 90 years of age, Daniel is given a death sentence as he stands in a den of hungry and terrifying lions.
Daniel had been through so much in his life, and it just never seemed to stop. (Ever felt like that?) One author described Daniel’s life as “a long obedience in the right direction.”
The overriding theme of Daniel is this: Despite how hopeless and weary we may feel, God is there – in the furnace, in the lion’s den – sovereignly and mightily working in the lives of his people.
We just finished Ch. 8. To view any of our sessions, simply click here. nw
“Biographies written about subjects who lived in the recent past, relative to the time of writing (e.g. those by Tacitus and Suetonius), especially those penned in the early Roman Empire, were generally marked by a *greater* concern for factual accuracy. In such cases, biographers were expected to reject implausibilities and to seek to write what was *true*. The Gospels, penned within fifty or so years after Jesus’ ministry, fall into this category.”
“That the Gospel writers were determined to produce an accurate account of Jesus’ life is especially clear in the opening of one of them, the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:1-4). This prologue is very much in the mold of Thucydides, Polybius, and Josephus. Luke clearly claims to be writing history conforming to the highest standards of Greco-Roman historiography.”
Colin R. Nicholl; Ph. D., University of Cambridge
QUOTE of the WEEK
“When God delivers you from evil, don’t keep in touch.”
LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE
From the incomparable Bob Hope:
- On Presidents: “I have performed for twelve presidents and entertained only six.”
- On his six brothers: “That’s how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom.”
- On his family’s early poverty: “Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw in another brother.”
SOUL FOOD: How I Forgave My Dad
I don’t know that I’ve ever posted my story for you. I tell people all the time, next to my profession of faith in Christ, no other decision has so changed my life than forgiving my dad. Church pews are packed with people who’ve been hurt deeply, yet have never been able to forgive the one(s) who’ve hurt them. Forgiveness and trust are two separate things. There is no pressure or expectation to trust again someone who’s hurt you. But, forgiving them will set you free. Maybe you know a person who’s never been able to forgive someone. Maybe you’ve never been able to forgive someone. Read my story here.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick