The Navigator: 2.17.22

 

THIS SUNDAY, 2/20

  • The Lord’s Supper
  • Sammy will be spending time helping you get to know each of the men who sat around that table in the Upper Room that foreboding night.  I am looking forward to this.  See next article…

 

  • Permit me to whet your appetite for Sunday…
  • I’ve lent out my well-worn copy of John MacArthur’s, Twelve Ordinary Men, more times than I can count.   As always, MacArthur is studied, researched and responsible as he attempts to help the reader get to know these very ordinary, very diverse men.  Trust me – “Match.com” would’ve never put them together on the same team.
  • A “role call,” of sorts, of the inner-twelve disciples’ names can be found in the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke, as well as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:13 (Judas Iscariot is missing from the list in Acts since he was, by that time, dead.  He would be replaced by Matthias.)
  • As you know, there is much written by the biographical/gospel writers about Simon Peter, the brothers – James and John, and the betrayer, Judas Iscariot.  Some is known about Thomas.  And a little is known about Peter’s brother, Andrew, as well as about Philip and Nathanael.
  • Speaking of Nathanael – there’s the confusion that arises from the names, themselves.  Nathanael – the “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  Nathanael – is not mentioned in any of the lists I just mentioned, which has led scholars to conclude that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same man.  Then, the fun really starts with the disciple “Thaddaeus,” who is also “Lebbaeus” and “Judas, son of James.”  His only recorded words are “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
    • Of course, this begs the question, “Why would the translators write different names for the same person?”  Very good question.  The answer is because modern translations and interpreters follow earlier Greek manuscripts that read simply “Thaddaeus.”
  • All of this said, the gospel writers provide us with enough information about some of the disciples to at least help us to “get to know them” a little bit.  What we do know about all of them is:
    • All twelve were Jewish, which brings its own characteristics and nuances.
    • Being Jewish, we know they were all, on some level, racist (James and John wanted Jesus to barbecue the Samaritans.)
    • We know Jesus didn’t choose a single disciple from the “Bible colleges and seminaries” of the day.
  • But, as we travel down the list, it gets more and more difficult.  This is when we turn to, both, early church history and the cultural, familial, and political contexts of the day.  For example, we know from history details about Jewish zealots and Jewish tax-collectors.
  • Last thing:  never forget that our extraordinary God uses ordinary (flawed, defective) people to accomplish his extraordinary work.  (See “Quote of the Week” below.)

 

This week’s tip:  For those who want to go “deeper.”

Many times I’ve had a person approach me and say sincerely, “Nick, I want to go deeper in our studies of the scriptures.”

My response:  “Define ‘deeper.’”

It normally takes a bit for them to formulate a response because they haven’t really thought about an answer to that question.

So, while they’re thinking I reply with something like:

“Consider this: begin by consistently putting into daily practice what you’ve already learned. It’s our obedience that activates our deeper understanding of scripture.”

It’s been said many times,

“The vast majority of Christians are educated past their level of obedience.”

Jesus broke it down this way as he concluded his parable of the Good Samaritan:

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man (to whom Jesus was telling the story) replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes. Now go and do the same.”Luke 10:36-37 [emphasis mine]

In other words, “Now do, and consistently put into practice, what you’ve learned.”

That’s how we go “deeper.”

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC OF THE WEEK

Centaurus A, home to an actively erupting supermassive black hole. This galaxy is approx. 13 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It’s diameter is almost as wide as our own Milky Way galaxy!

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“After Pentecost the same flawed disciples who had fled from Jesus’ trial became carriers of the Living God.  In an act of delegation beyond fathom, Jesus turned over the kingdom of God to the likes of his disciples – and to us.” – Philip Yancey

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

When one door closes and another one opens, you’re probably in prison.

I hate when a couple argues in public, and I missed the beginning and don’t know whose side I’m on.

Cop:  “Please get out of the car.”  Person he stopped: “I’m too drunk. You get in.”

 

SOUL FOOD:  Jesus was not “meek and mild”

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

The Navigator: 2.10.22

This Sunday, 2/13

  • Regular schedule

 

IMPORTANT COLLEGE MINISTRY NEWS

University Pastor Shawn Coleman submitted his resignation on Monday, February 7 effective immediately.  We appreciate Shawn’s years of service to BHBC and wish him the best in his future endeavors.  The staff and personnel committee are working together to care for the students currently involved in the ministry as well as developing plans for future growth.

 

THE DAY DA VINCI CHANGED HIS PAINTING

From Robert Strand’s 365 Fascinating Facts about Jesus:

When Leonaro da Vinci was 43 years old, Duke Ludovinco of Milan commissioned him to paint “The Last Supper” (the scene of Jesus and his disciples the night before he would be crucified.)

Da Vinci worked slowly and meticulously, spending more than three years to complete it.

When his masterpiece was completed, da Vinci invited a friend to view it.  He said, “Observe it and give me your opinion.”

“It’s wonderful!”, exclaimed the friend.  “The cup is so real I can not divert my eyes from it!”

Immediately,…Leonardo took a brush and painted across the sparkling cup.  He exclaimed as he did it, “Nothing shall detract from the figure of Christ!”

 

This week’s tip:  Never forget to share the Gospel

Both Paul and Peter use the phrase “in way of reminder” in their letters.  Translation?  It’s human nature to get distracted and forget.

Remember every now and then to share the plan of salvation by explaining the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  You can do this by sharing your own story.  Always be sure to cite scripture, showing your listeners the “truth that sets us free.”

 

MERE CHRISTIANITY: CLARITY IN THE BASICS

Pt 2 of 2:  Jesus – Nothing Like Us

In Pt 1, in “Jesus – Just Like Us,” we took a close look at what the Bible says about Jesus’ humanity (that Jesus was human in every way, just like us). We looked at his childhood, his family, his “blue-collar” vocation, his emotions, etc. In Pt 2, we take a close look at what the Bible says about Jesus’ deity (that Jesus is God – the same God who spoke the cosmos into existence.)

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

Darwin on Trial

Atheist and NYU professor of philosophy, Thomas Nagel:

“…no viable account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and information-rich as a self-reproducing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA, or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment.”  Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False 

Linked here for you are:

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC OF THE WEEK

**In honor of Valentine’s Day next Monday, I present to you “God’s Valentine.”

The Heart Nebula

Approximately 7500 light years away from Earth, this nebula is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. It is an emission nebula showing glowing ionized hydrogen gas and darker dust lanes.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“The debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.” – Anselm (10th century), on why God became man.

The Bible says “a lifestyle in unrepentant sin is like skydiving without a parachute – thrilling for a while, but it won’t end well.” -Michael Svigel

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  Can God read our thoughts?  (You bet he can.)

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 1.28.22

**NOTE:  There will be no Navigator E-News published next week.   I’ll be out all week moving my daughter, Macy, to Nashville, TN. 

 

THIS SUNDAY, 1/30

  • Regular Schedule; Sammy continues his present sermon series

 

WEDNESDAY, 2/2

  • 6:30pm – Quarterly Business Meeting; Worship Center

 

SUNDAY, 2/6

  • Noon: Ambassador (Greeter) Luncheon & Training; for more information contact Mike Lewis.
  • 5pm – Prayer Service in Worship Center.

 

414 MINISTRY

Would you consider asking your class if they would like to minister to the faculty at Nat Williams Elementary in March, April or May?  The Generations class is taking the Feb. date.  You can do something as minimal as purchasing a snack-sized candy with a note of encouragement attached to be put in their boxes, or something as involved as provide lunch for them.  There’s no effort to little.  Let me know if you want to take part.

 

MERE CHRISTIANITY: Clarity in the Basics

As I considered teaching the doctrine of Jesus Christ it occurred to me that not once have I ever heard a sermon/lesson on the humanity of Christ.  I’ve heard countless sermons on his deity, but never his humanity.  The Holy Spirit convicted me strongly to help people understand that Jesus, although 100% God, was also 100% human.

Jesus (a common name of the time) grew up a “blue collar,” working man in a backwater town in northern Palestine.  There’s a reason Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” 

Jesus was the proverbial “kid from down the street” who, all of a sudden, began making himself equal to God.  So, it begins to make sense why his family thought he was out of his mind. 

Appreciating his humanity will deepen one’s awe at his deity.  Only then can we appreciate what it took for Jesus, the man, to withstand Satan in the desert and live as a man “tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.”

  • Pt 1 – Jesus: Just like you and me.
  • Pt 2 – Jesus: Nothing like you and me.

In Part One, below, I resonate with author, Philip Yancey, who wrote about Jesus,

[The more I studied the Bible, the more I discovered Jesus] “is very different from the Jesus I learned about in Sunday School. In some ways he is more comforting; in some ways more terrifying.”

 

“I CAN’T LOVE MY ENEMIES”

I mentioned last week that this particular social media post was shared from my page alone over 100 times.   Perhaps, the Holy Spirit can use it in your life, or in the life of someone in your class.  You will find it in this week’s Soul Food Blog below.

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

When someone claims only science can discover truth consider this statement by Andy Bannister:

“The claim ‘only science can discover truth’ is self-refuting, as the statement itself cannot be verified using science.”

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

An exciting article about the new NASA Webb Space Telescope can be viewed here.

This is Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, and the  largest and most massive moon in the solar system. In fact, it’s about 26% larger than the planet Mercury. It’s also the only moon known to have a magnetic field. There are 79 known moons around Jupiter at this time. Eight of these satellites, including the 4 Galilean moons, are relatively large and spherical. The rest are small and irregular, and were likely captured by Jupiter from the solar system.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“I know of no other practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened, your witnessing sharper…your faith will be solidified.” –  Chuck Swindoll

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  I Can’t Love my Enemies

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 1.20.22

THIS SUNDAY, 1/23

  • Adventure Guides are still available!  Again, this booklet is comprised of 30 easy-to-read devotionals to help people establish a habit of engaging God’s through his powerful Word.

 

This week’s tip:  Punctuality

I know…I know.  “Here’s Nick talking about being on time again.”  Honestly, since I lead in the early worship service, and not free to walk the halls, I don’t ever know who’s on time and who’s not.  So, this is not one of those “passive-aggressive pokes” at someone in particular.

This is merely a loving reminder that being on time matters.  Of course, there will be Sundays when unexpected crises arise that either cause us to be late, or miss altogether.

But, when things are going smoothly make certain and arrive a couple of minutes before your class is scheduled to begin.  Being there when folks arrive and making yourself available to welcome them speaks volumes – especially to guests.

Can you imagine a shepherd not being in their place while the sheep are searching for them?  You’re the entrusted shepherd of Jesus’ sheep.

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

The Faith of Christianity vs. the Faith of Atheism (or any other worldview)

I saw the quote at the quote below posted in a “proof for the existence of God” debate. I thought it was a very kind and thoughtful response. Good food-for-thought.

“The claim is that to believe there is no God, or to lack belief in a God, still requires faith.  You have to trust that the arguments of natural theology are false.  You have to trust that the information in DNA arose without an intelligent mind.

You have to have faith that consciousness arose out of dead inert matter. The list goes on and on. It takes faith to look at the universe and all it’s creative wonder and come out thinking that atheism is a better explanation than theism.”

All worldviews are faith-worldviews.  Like so many others, I simply don’t have enough faith to dismiss the evidence for the biblical worldview.

Think deeply, nw

 

MERE CHRISTIANITY: Clarity in the Basics

Each week, I’ll include an introduction and video link to this past week’s opportunity for learning.  I missed you last week so I’m including Week One and Two here.

Week One: God the Creator

Why did I begin with “God the Creator?”  It just seemed logical.  For the very first sentence in our Bible says, “In the beginning, God created…”  As we look not only biblically, but rationally and scientifically, at the cosmos, the evidence is overwhelming that the Bible is true regarding creation and a Creator.  Of course, you can believe whatever you want.  But, if you’re honest, scientific discovery related to cosmology sure sounds a whole lot like Genesis 1.   In Miracles, C.S. Lewis wrote, “No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that “in the beginning God made the Heaven and Earth.”  I would have to agree.

 

Week Two: God’s Wrath vs. God’s Love

How do I reconcile God’s wrath with God’s love? How can I trust a God who, except for eight people, killed the entire population of earth in a flood? How do you explain a God who appears to have commanded genocide in the Old Testament with the Son of God, Jesus, who taught us to love our enemies in the New Testament?

 

YOUR COSMIC PIC of the WEEK

The Pleiades (PLEE-uh-deez), or the Seven Sisters. It’s not a constellation, but an asterism and open cluster of young stars. It’s located 444 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.

You actually see it almost every day – every time you see a Subaru logo.

 

HELP for a LOCAL PASTOR

I’ve known Eric Chaffin for a long time.  Presently, he’s on the pastoral staff at Southcrest Baptist Church here in Lubbock.  Below is the text from an email he sent out looking for help with his schooling.

I’m writing to request approximately 3 minutes of your time. My name is Eric Chaffin. I’m one of the Associate Pastors at Southcrest Baptist Church. I am currently working on a doctorate through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and have now entered into the dissertation phase. In order to properly design my dissertation project, which focuses on discipleship ministry in the local church, I need responses from you, the lay Bible teachers in our Lubbock area Baptist Churches. There are only 10 questions, most of which are simple yes/no questions. If you would take a brief moment to answer these and submit your survey it would not only help me tremendously, but you will have my heartfelt gratitude!

Access the survey by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9QL2DM8

 

PREVIEW: “I can’t love my enemies”

Usually, when a social media post of mine gains traction it’s “shared” 50-ish times.  But, apparently a recent post I titled “I can’t love my enemies” resonated with the masses.  At present, it’s been shared 101 times.  I’ll include it in next week’s Navigator.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Out of 100 people, one will read the Bible, and ninety-nine will read the Christian. – DL Moody

And,…

Some people feel the rain, others just get wet. – Bob Marley

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  Should everyone be able to claim their own truth?

At the 2018 Golden Globe Awards Oprah Winfrey said,

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Embedded within this week’s very brief blog is a video clip (less than two minutes in length).  Dr. Paul Copan kindly and intelligently disassembles the foolish idea that there can be multiple “truths.” Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 1.6.22

THIS SUNDAY, 1/9

  • Begin asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind those within your “oikos” (sphere of influence) who need Christ.  And remember – always – before you talk to people about Jesus, talk to Jesus about those people.  Then, ask the Lord for opportunities/divine appointments for talking to them about Jesus.

 

30 DAYS

  • This Sunday our church will be introduced to a 30-Day devotional booklet to help us daily engage the Word of God.  Encourage your people to pick up a copy.

 

PRAYER WARRIOR BREAKFAST – THIS SATURDAY, 1/8

 

MID-WEEK LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES BEGIN NEXT WEEK, 1/12

All classes begin at 6:30pm except GriefShare which begins at 6pm.  For an overview of each class click here.

  • Engaging God’s Word; Sammy Elliott; FLC
  • Mere Christianity: Clarity in the Basics; Nick Watts; Worship Center
  • Ladies Bible Study – “He’s Where the Joy Is”;  Gail White
  • University – “Christ and Culture”; Shawn Coleman (off campus)
  • GriefShare; Joyce Rowe; Rm. 209
  • Also, learning opportunities for youth & children

 

EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE IS CATCHING UP WITH GENESIS

A few years ago, I had lunch with Particle Physicist, Dr. Michael Strauss, and listened to him talk about “theistic evolution.”  I have since studied what that implies.

I don’t hold woodenly to everything written in the article linked here but, as always, I like to pass along articles and quotes that help Christians think deeply and stay updated and informed about such things so as to help equip us to have intelligent dialogue with skeptics where the Christian faith is concerned.

Topics such as this one are what we call “non-essential.”  In other words, it’s perfectly okay to disagree on doctrines about which the Bible is not crystal clear.

For example, there is the “young earth vs. old earth” debate.  After I posted my opinion on the age of the universe (and earth) when considered in light of time dilation, presented by Jewish physicist, Gerald Shroeder,  I had a friend almost angrily insinuate that if I didn’t believe the earth was no more than 6000 years old I was a heretic in danger of leading the world astray.  This, of course, is nonsense.  And, enjoying a healthy debate, I let my friend know it was nonsense while also defending my openness to a much older universe and earth.  (By the way, we amicably agreed to disagree.)  Schroeder’s interpretation of Genesis 1 and its relation to cosmology is explained in a short blog by astrophysicist (and Christian), Sarah SalvianderYou can read it here.

The theme of the article linked here is to simply let the reader understand that, with every scientific discovery, God is more and more making himself known.

From the article:

Nathan Lents, a secular professor of biology at John Jay College, told Fox News Digital that recent developments have made Adam and Eve more plausible. “I would not say that there is any evidence, historical or scientific, in favor of the existence of Adam and Eve, as they are presented in the Bible,” Lents said. “However, there have been developments in our understanding of ancestry and genetics that allow for the possibility of universal ancestors of the entire human population in the surprisingly recent past.”

Dr. Joshua Swamidass, whose scientific findings the writer quotes, is a devoted Christian and strong defender of the Christian faith (as is the Particle Physicist I mentioned earlier.)

Read the full FOX News article here.

 

GO SEE THIS MOVIE

Kurt Warner went from stocking groceries during the “graveyard shift” to Super Bowl MVP.   American Underdog fills in the blanks with the powerful story that connects “grocery store stock boy” to, now, member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

The movie powerfully addresses numerous levels of humanity and struggle, and helps the audience see that there’s always hope – no matter our present circumstances.

Warner is a follower of Jesus Christ and has served Christ faithfully.

My favorite quote from the movie:

“You gotta do what you gotta do before you can do what you wanna do.”

In other words, “bloom where you’re planted.”  Or, as Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Faith can’t be trusted unless it can be tested.

Faith is like a muscle.  It cannot grow stronger unless it is exercised.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Why “spell-check” is your friend…

Also,…

A man went out and spent some time with some good friends. He got carried away and had a little too much to drink. He shares the rest of his story as follows…  “Feeling I might have been a little over the limit, I did something I’ve never done before – I took a cab home. Sure enough, on the way home there was a police roadblock. But since it was a cab they waved it past. I arrived home safely and without incident. This was a real surprise as I had never driven a cab before.”

 

SOUL FOOD:  Don’t Read the Bible Through in a Year

I posted this blog on social media as the calendar rolled over to 2022, and it received a lot of traction.

Bottom line:  it doesn’t matter how we choose to read and study the scriptures – just as long we do read it, consistently.

In my experience as a pastor, I have found that, after one makes the New Year resolution to read the Bible through in a year, they often quickly get bogged down somewhere in the Pentateuch and call it quits.

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 12.16.21

**NOTE:  You cannot know how much I love and appreciate you.  Michelle and I wish you the merriest of Christmases.  This is the last publication of The Navigator of 2021.  Love to you all, St. Nick

 

THIS SUNDAY, 12/19

  • Sammy concludes his series of highlighting timeless truths found in Jesus’ “family tree.”

 

  • 12/19 – Regular schedule
  • 12/23-24 – Offices closed; **Office hours 12/20-12/31 will be 9-Noon.
  • 12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm
  • 12/26 – Choose between in-person or online.  For those desiring to gather in person, join us in the FLC at 10:30.  The online service will be available on our web site on 12/26 as well as the days to follow.
  • 1/2 – 10:30 – Combined Worship; NO SUNDAY SCHOOL
  • 1/9 – Return to regular schedule
  • 1/12 – Mid-week classes/opportunities for learning resume at 6:30pm

 

BETHLEHEM HAPPENED FOR ONE REASON: CALVARY

From Philip Yancey’s award-winning book, The Jesus I Never Knew:

“When the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci went to China in the sixteenth century, he brought along samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it.

The Chinese readily adopted portraits of the Virgin Mary holding her child, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had grown up only to be executed, the audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They much preferred the Virgin and insisted on worshiping her rather than the crucified God.

As I thumb once more through my stack of Christmas cards (with front covers depicting calm, peaceful manger scenes), I realize that we in Christian countries do much the same thing.

We observe a mellow, domesticated holiday purged of any hint of scandal. Above all, we purge from it any reminder of how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.” [end quote]

For the King, nw

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

I will never ask you to do something I am not already doing.  That includes engaging in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

Recently, I posted on social media a post titled “For those who don’t know how, or are scared, to share your faith.”  It was widely read and shared on social media numerous times.  I was soon private-messaged by a person who told me she had shared it on her social media and that her sister, an agnostic, had replied to the post with a good deal of push-back.

The agnostic, in her mid-30’s, was extremely kind.  And, she had some common – yet extremely tough – questions and points.  The person who private-messaged me, a Christian, asked if I could help her respond to her sister’s questions.  I told her I’d be happy to do so.

I was promptly sent screen-shots of her sister’s arguments against the Christian faith.  Her agnostic sister is extremely intelligent and, clearly, a mature thinker.

Before I offered my response – I prayed.  A lot. 

Then, I broke her arguments down into fifteen questions/points and responded to each one individually.

When I was done I had written over 40 pages – a short book.

Dialoguing with an agnostic is, in my opinion, more difficult than with an atheist. They are indifferent and ambivalent toward religion – and have very good reasons for being so.  It’s not that they don’t want to believe – it’s that they just don’t care to.

But, one common denominator that exists when visiting with a skeptic of any kind is the challenge of sharing the truths of the Bible – without using the Bible.

And that’s precisely why I’m estimating 85% of what I wrote was based on philosophy/logic while the remaining 15% was biblical/theological in nature which supported the philosophy/logic.

It was critical that I be able to appeal to her sense of logic and reason.  For example: where did objective morality come from? (why is murder universally wrong and kindness universally good?); consciousness vs. humans beings no more than atoms, neurons, and the like; why it’s reasonable – apart from what the Bible says – to consider there being an afterlife; and so on, and so on.

I had been sending each individual response to my Christian friend who’d initially messaged me.  What I didn’t know is that she had then been forwarding my responses to her agnostic sister who lives in another part of the country.  Then – I was told her sister was reading my responses and was now very interested in what I had to say, even open to talking about it.

What happened next was full of power from the Holy Spirit.

I was encouraged by my Christian friend to connect with her sister personally.  I did (sort of like removing the middle-man.)  A conversation began.  We began getting to know one another.  What follows is what my new agnostic friend wrote to me just a couple of days ago:

“At this point I suppose I’m ok with taking my chances of ending up in hell. Or! Maybe someone will finally convince me that Jesus is my savior and I’ll be good to go.  Thus, my sister’s introduction to you!”

Tears filled my eyes as I read that last sentence.

Only God can orchestrate these encounters.

His activity in our lives is yet another “reason to believe.”

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The One True King

By a single touch, Jesus healed. By a single word, demons fled. By a single event of torture, death, and resurrection, we are saved.

That’s the baby in that manger.

And,…

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

And, a couple of bonuses…

A little known fact: Before the crowbar was invented, most crows drank at home.

My doctor asked if any of my family members suffered from mental illness.  I said, “No, they all seem to enjoy it.”

 

SOUL FOOD:  Who were the mysterious Magi?

Read the blog here.

Merry Christmas, St. Nick

The Navigator: 12.9.21

THIS SUNDAY, 12/12

  • Sammy continues his present series from Matthew 1.
  • 5pm – Christmas Carol Sing-a-long.  Also, solos, trios, and instrumentals of your favorite carols.

 

This week’s tip:  Being sensitive to the other side of the holidays.

I mention it every year in our worship services.  While the holidays are filled with laughter, joy, fun and frolic, for many it is a time of great pain and loss.  As you shepherd your flock, remind your people that being broken and feeling defeated is as much a part of the Christian faith as feeling joyful and victorious.  Jesus was born for such as these.  Sam Allberry couldn’t have said it better:

 

‘TIS THE SEASON – for impatience and anger

Share these passages with your class.  Encourage them to jot the verses down on a card and place it where they see them everyday, or better yet – memorize them.   It will help when they’re stuck in that long line of traffic or the store, or when someone is rude to them during this “merry” time.

“Short-tempered people do foolish things…” – Prov. 14:17

“…a hot temper shows great foolishness.” – Prov. 14:29

“Better to be patient than powerful,…Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;…” – Prov. 16:32; 17:28

“Sensible people control their temper,…”  – Prov. 19:11

We’re never weaker than when we’re angry.

 

HOSTAGES IN HAITI: Update

One of the most powerful lines I remember from contemporary Christian music is the opening line from Steve Camp’s “Run to the Battle:”

“Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells; but I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of hell.”

Christian missionaries are living that line right now.

For those who are aware of the Christian missionaries taken hostage in Haiti, click here for an update from CNN.  Pray for these people.

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent dialogue where the Christian faith is concerned.

J.I. Packer wrote,

“Nothing so humbles the mind as thoughts of God.”

“In the beginning, God created…” – Gen. 1:1

**The universe contains more planets than seconds that have passed since the Big Bang.  (Read that again.)

Below is a photo from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Astronomers pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at a point in space where there appeared to be absolutely nothing, the emptiest part of space.

The telescope remained fixed on a tiny region of space – 1/26,000,000th of the visible sky – in the constellation Fornax for 11.5 days. (Fornax is 62 million light years from earth.)

The results were both shocking and breath-taking. 

Not only was something there in the seeming interstellar emptiness, but scientists discovered approximately 10,000,000 galaxies (every blip in this photo is not a star, it’s an entire galaxy!).

Believe this all happened by accident if you want. I don’t have that much faith.

God roared at Job:

“Can you direct the movement of the stars— binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons…? Do you know the laws of the universe?… – Job 38:31-33

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 12/12 – Christmas Sing-along with the SonShiner Choir; 5pm
  • 12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm
  • 1/2 – Combined Worship; NO SUNDAY SCHOOL

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” – Horace Greeley

“The better you know the gospel, the better you’ll share the gospel.”- Bobby Jamieson.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

 

SOUL FOOD: Who were the mysterious Magi?

Read the answer here.

Soli Deo Gloria, St. Nick

The Navigator: 12.2.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 12/5

  • Sammy continues his sermon series on the “Ancestry.com” of Jesus.
  • Silent Communion: 4-6pm; Tell your class to arrive any time within that time frame.  There will be tables set up on the floor at the front of the sanctuary.  When there is an empty seat they can take a seat and partake of the Lord’s Supper as a family or individual.
  • Fostering Hope: Sunday evening in the FLC

 

This week’s tip:  Beware of these Pitfalls of Ministry

A friend working on a grad-studies paper on “ministry pitfalls” contacted me recently to get my input.  As I thought about what I wrote and sent to her it occurred to me these pitfalls can be easily translated to volunteer church leadership.

Read the blog here and send me your thoughts.

 

HOMOSEXUALITY & MINISTRY: One story and my response

From the article linked below:

Former Southern Baptist Convention President, James Merritt, has resigned from his position as a visiting professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary amid controversy that followed his decision to share a short message by his son, who is gay.

I was heart-sick as I read through comments on Twitter attacking Merritt’s son.

You can read about this story here.

The conflict is as follows:  James Merritt’s son, Jonathan, is gay.  But, Jonathan is a Christian and preaches gospel messages. Although James and Jonathan know full well they disagree on sexuality, James loves his son more than life itself, was proud of his son, and shared his son’s sermon on social media.

The pharisees of social media exploded with vitriol.  Both James and Jonathan were vilified with hateful comments, many of which were hurled by a newly formed group within the Southern Baptist Convention.  They call themselves the Conservative Baptist Network, or CBN.  In response to the formation of this group, Southern Baptist Seminary president, Albert Mohler, tweeted,

“We already have a conservative Baptist network.  It’s called the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Both James and Jonathan have been flooded with love and support.

About the CBN’s treatment of Merritt, one pastor tweeted,

My pastor asked me today if i had heard of what is happening and for my thoughts. He wanted to make sure his idea that the CBN was blatantly attacking without grace a man who’s navigating a difficult situation was accurate. I agreed with him.

I could share my opinion on the CBN.  But, I won’t, for now.  Suffice it to say, I disagree with just about every aspect of their divisive methods and political motives.

I resisted commenting on the topic of James Merritt supporting his son because, frankly, God hadn’t given me permission to do so.  But, finally God said, “Now.” So I did.  I don’t shrink from controversial issues of the day.  Homosexuality being sin is clear.  Homosexuality being an orientation is complicated.  Posting self-righteous hatred on social media will win the ear of no one.

Below is what I posted on Twitter. 

My kids earned degrees in fine arts. They were surrounded by gay and lesbian classmates. Those gay and lesbian kids were/are precious, respectful, and some of the kindest people I’ve met. We’ve had them in our home, taken them out to eat. I even told one young gay man I would raise him as my own if I could.

Does this mean I agree with their lifestyle? Absolutely not. And they all know that. However, these kids are people. People who have feelings. And, given the suicide rate among the LGBT, many are looking for answers and hope.

I’ve been in vocational ministry almost 40 years. Spurgeon said, “I don’t preach a soft gospel.” Likewise, my biblical worldview is uncompromising. That said, Jesus had the profound ability to love people deeply while simultaneously strongly opposing their lifestyle. We can do the same.

Calling out and taking cheap-shots – publicly via social media – at anyone, much less someone’s child is the reason (as I heard one preacher say decades ago) bars are full and churches are empty.

It’s significant that the people Jesus spent the most time calling out for sin was the self-righteous Pharisees.

Paul addressed this very topic when he wrote to the Philippians.  Some of the believers were troubled that some with less-than-pure-motives were preaching the gospel.  Paul, in essence said, “Relax.  Let them preach.  Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.”

 

**Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent conversation where the Christian faith is concerned.

Watch this brief video of Dr. John Lennox, professor of Mathematics at Oxford, explain why human consciousness is yet another reason to believe in God.  The clip is less than four minutes.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK:

“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” – John Stott.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Sorry ladies!  Too funny not to share.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 12/5 – Silent Communion; 4-6pm; Fostering Hope to follow in FLC
  • 12/8 – Children’s Ministry Family Night
  • 12/12 – Christmas Sing-along with the SonShiner Choir; 5pm
  • 12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm
  • 1/2 – Combined Worship; all Small Groups meet at early hour

 

SOUL FOOD: The Daily Grind of Faith

While we would rather spend our lives on the proverbial “mountain top,” the “valley” is actually where God has created us to be most of the time. Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.18.21

**The above question from Luke 17 has been a “family verse” for the Watts home for many years.  We’ve talked about it as a family a number of times. As I consider the “other nine” lepers Jesus healed that day, I don’t know that they intentionally didn’t thank him (they were ecstatic from being healed).  I think they just forgot.  May we always be humbly mindful of Jesus’ mercy and love that he lavishes on us not just the fourth Thursday in November, but every day of our lives. nw

 

This week’s tip:  Slowing your roll with the Bible

As I finished journeying through the book of Daniel yesterday evening I found myself quite pensive.  What an adventure.  Below is what I posted this morning on social media.  As you disciple your class in regard to reading, studying and applying the scriptures, perhaps this will provide some perspective.  nw

I’ve read through the Bible numerous times and have always enjoyed reading through the book of Daniel.

But, there’s something about going verse-by-verse, slowly.  It’s like being on a road-trip you’ve been on numerous times, but this time stopping at every intersection, historical marker, and place of interest.  (I know that sounds like a horrible analogy. But, you get the picture.)

All of a sudden, although you’ve driven the route more times than you can count, you notice things you’ve never before seen.  And then those points of interest draw you in to discover the events that made them “points of interest.”

Since I began teaching expositionally (verse by verse) a few years ago on Wed. evenings, we’ve mined the treasures of, in addition to Daniel, each of the twelve minor prophets, John, Galatians, James, and Revelation.

I guess I’m sharing this to ask you to consider finding a book of the Bible – any book – and join its adventure into discovery.  Don’t get in a hurry (when teaching the gospel of John, we spent seven weeks in chapter one, alone.)  Find yourself a solid Study Bible.  Then, just soak it up, one passage at a time. 

Rather than feel as though you’re frantically trying to meet a deadline for how long it should take to finish reading, “slow your roll,” and stroll through “the countryside of the Kingdom.”  Stop often along the way to think deeply. (I’m reading the Bible through again during my daily devotions.  It took me a year and a half just to finish the Old Testament.)

Back to Daniel….

In his book, The Gospel According to Daniel, Bryan Chappell describes the life of Daniel as “a long obedience in the same direction.”

And, finally, you’ll be blessed by this comment on Daniel by the beloved teacher, Chuck Swindoll:

“From Daniel’s life and writings we learn that a person of integrity is a powerful instrument in the hand of God.  A life of integrity may lead us into a lion’s den of misunderstanding and ridicule.  But there’s nothing like the freedom and power that God gives those who are determined to do what is right (according to God’s definition of “right”), no matter what the cost.”

Love to you all, Nick

***For further perspective, see my blog, “Don’t Read the Bible Through in a Year,” here.

 

Equipping ourselves to be able to engage in intelligent conversation where the Christian faith is concerned.

“[Historically],There is a strong consensus today among scholars that Jesus thought of himself as an exorcist, a miracle-worker and God’s eschatological agent. Many likewise maintain that he was convinced he would die an imminent and violent death and subsequently would be vindicated by God…Graham Twelftree, perhaps the leading authority on the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus, has argued in several works that the evidence that Jesus was a miracle-worker is so strong that it is one of the best attested historical facts about Jesus.”  – Mike Licona, Ph.D., one of my professors

Indeed, even the Babylonian Talmud accuses Jesus of sorcery.  In short, the Jews were impotent to explain away Jesus’ miracles, so – as the writers of the gospels record – they simply attributed his power to Satan.

 

62-YARD FIELD GOALS & GOD

This is was too good not to share.  If you watched the end of Tech’s game this past Saturday against Iowa State you were, like me, certain the game was about to go into overtime.  But Tech’s kicker, Jonathan Garibay, knew better.  KCBD’s Pete Christy tweeted what Garibay posted after he made the record-breaking field goal, winning the game for the Red Raiders.

 

THIS RENDITION of AMAZING GRACE is PRETTY AMAZING

The man starts out slow but things get exciting beginning at the 1:24 mark culminating in him kicking the chair out from under him at the 2:00 mark.

Enjoy.

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE & UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Offices will be closed Wednesday, 11/22 at noon through Friday, 11/24.
  • 11/28 – Lottie Moon Offering emphasis
  • 12/5 – Silent Communion; 4-6pm
  • 12/8 – Children’s Ministry Family Night
  • 12/12 – Christmas Sing-along with the SonShiner Choir; 5pm

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK:

“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know that is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” – A.W. Tozer

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

A guy said to his buddy:  “My wife thinks I put football before marriage, even though we just celebrated our third season together.”

And, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday…

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Worship Wars

I have no clue why this post of mine was shared from my Facebook page almost 50 times.  Apparently, the topic still strikes a nerve.  The “war” has been raging for a while.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.11.21

Today, 11/11, is Veterans Day.  I met one of BHBC’s veterans this morning for coffee.  Find a veteran today and thank them for defending our freedom – freedom we far too often take for granted.

 

SUNDAY, 11/14

Guest preacher:  Jim Brown

Early service only:  A special “thank you” and prayer time for Tom (and Diane) Heath.  Tom begins his pastorate at FBC, Meadow, on Sunday, 11/21.

 

This week’s tip:  Prayer

**Please see this week’s Soul Food blog below.

 

IS JESUS “WOKE?”

In mainstream vernacular, “woke” basically means “be alert to, and aware of, injustices.”  But, since the chaos of 2020, the word has developed a much wider – and subjective – meaning.

Below is a post of mine from this past week in response to a Texas politician’s claim that “if Jesus were here today he would be woke.”

Sixty-year-old Democratic candidate for Texas lieutenant governor, Matthew Dowd, made national news yesterday when he tweeted that Jesus would be accused of being woke today (see his tweet below).

Dowd’s tweet was precipitated by Democrat strategist, James Carville, blaming “stupid wokeness” for his party’s surprising election defeat in Virginia last week.

Wow. Where do I even begin?

First, I would tell Dowd to change churches if that’s what he got out of the sermon.

Second, I would invite Dowd to do something he’s clearly never done: open his Bible and read the four biographies of Jesus.

In all four accounts, rather than enjoying increasing acceptance (from being woke), Jesus is the target of escalating hatred, vitriol, and disgust. Why is that?

Because Jesus said things – a lot of things – the ancient woke crowd found offensive, bigoted and intolerant.

For example, Jesus said his design for marriage is between a man and a woman. His own conception demonstrated that life begins at conception.  And he warned everyone of an eternity of torment in a devil’s hell if they did not confess him as God and Savior.

Does Jesus still sound “woke” to you, Mr. Dowd?

Mike Yaconelli used to say, “Everyone wants a ‘nice Jesus.’”

But Rome didn’t crucify people for being “nice.” (Or, in Dowd’s words, “treating everyone with respect and dignity.”)

Jesus didn’t merely treat people with respect and dignity.  He loved them (and us) as his priceless treasure.

However,…

Jesus was dangerous. He was fearless. He didn’t bow to the woke mob.  He didn’t shrink from the truth. He did not (could not) tolerate sin.

And they killed him for it.

In short, Dowd reduces Jesus to his own biased, subjective definition of “human decency and dignity.”  In other words, Dowd reduces Jesus to “a Jesus created in the image of Dowd.”

Dowd wants a Jesus who has no demands on his life, or disagreements with his opinions.

The Bible tells of no such Jesus.

nw

 

What follows is an excerpt by Peter Williams, Ph.D., Cambridge, from his book, ‘Can We Trust the Gospels?’ 

Are the New Testament Gospels (biographies of Jesus) manufactured legends and fake news?

No. Not even nearly.

There is much I could offer here. But allow me to offer insight from a professor describing himself as “agnostic with atheistic leanings.”

Bart Ehrman is a New Testament scholar – who does not believe Jesus is who he said he is. But even Ehrman writes,

“The oldest and best resources we have for knowledge about the life of Jesus…are the four Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”

Ehrman continues,

“This is simply not the view of Christian historians…; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity of every kind, from committed Christians to hardcore atheists.”

Further, it is rarely appreciated that for us to have four gospels is remarkable. That is an abundance of material to have about any individual of that period. In fact, even though Jesus was on the periphery of the Roman Empire, we have as many early sources about his life and teaching as we have about activities and conversations of Tiberius, emperor during Jesus’ public activities.

 

IS CHRISTIANITY THE FOOL’S RELIGION?

I drove by a storefront recently with a sign outside that took a cheap shot at Christians, insinuating we aren’t thinkers, gullible enough to believe just about anything.

I sat in a seminar once listening to Yale Law School grad – and former ardent atheist – Lee Strobel. It was years ago. I had never heard of him before.

He looked at us all intently and said with a confidence I rarely see from Christians,

“Christianity is an intelligent, defensible faith.”

Strobel confessed,

“To continue in atheism, I’d need to believe nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason.  I just didn’t have that much faith.”

Houston Baptist University New Testament professor, Jeremiah Johnston, created what he calls the Christian Thinkers Society. The slogan is: “Teaching thinkers to be Christians, and Christians to be thinkers.”

Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “examine the faith.”  Christ encourages one and all to put him under a microscope. Study him.  Analyze his claims. Try to explain away his miracles and resurrection. He’s not afraid.  Rather, he’s quite confident you will discover that he  is exactly who he claimed to be.

Think deeply, nw

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“The day will come when He will cleanse the earth from the Serpent’s slimy trail.” – Charles Spurgeon

Read the media and you’ll know (sort of) what’s happening in the world. Read the Bible and you’ll know why.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Police came to my house last night and told me my dogs were chasing people on bikes.

My dogs don’t even have bikes.

Actual signs:

  • On an electrician’s truck:  Let us remove your shorts.
  • On an optometrist’s office:  If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
  • On a fence:  Salesmen welcome!  Dog food is expensive.
  • At a car dealership:  The best way to get back on your feet – miss a car payment.
  • Outside a muffler shop:  No appointment necessary.  We heard you coming.

 

SOUL FOOD: A Prayer

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick