The Navigator: 1.28.2021

 

THIS SUNDAY, 1/31 – THANK YOU, DL & ALICE

I can’t believe the day has come to say thank you & good bye to DL & Alice Lowrie.  The Lord has poured a wealth of grace and wisdom into my life through them.  I love them so very much.

This Sunday, 1/31, BHBC will host a reception in our Commons after each morning’s service.  All are encouraged to bring thank you notes and/or gift cards.

Also this Sunday:

Quarterly Business Meeting; 5pm; Worship Center

 

SHEPHERDING THE SHEPHERDS: Systematic Theology

Part of my role is to make certain all of you are set up for success by means of being encouraged, challenged, equipped and resourced.

Per my email to you last Friday, we will soon be embarking on a journey of intense learning.  One of those times of learning will involve acquiring a basic understanding of systematic theology.

Simply put, systematic theology is the discipline of interpreting scripture in light of scripture.  It’s understanding there’s no better commentary for God’s Word than God’s Word. This is precisely one of Paul’s points when he told the elders at Ephesus, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”  “Whole counsel” meaning all of it.  Not just bits and pieces but, during Paul’s ministry, the entire Old Testament; and in our time, all 66 books of the canon. 

Systematic Theology helps us learn how one part of the Bible is complemented and affirmed by the Bible.  It helps us to confidently answer hard questions such as: What, at times, do I find a verse that appears to contradict another verse?  What OT laws and imagery relate to Jesus being called the Lamb of God?  Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that we can lose our salvation? And what about the seeming contradictions of Proverbs 26:4-5, and James 2:24 when compared to Galatians 2:16?  What is the OT Law’s relationship to the New Covenant in the NT?  Is the Law nullified or fulfilled?  And what’s the difference?  And so much more.

When the gospel authors, Paul and Peter quote the OT repeatedly to support and prove right the New Covenant through Christ we are witnessing a masters class in people using systematic theology.

There is a theological term, Biblical Theology, that serves as a close sibling of Systematic Theology.  And, by the way, before you counter, “Wait – I’m not a theologian!”, I’ve got news for you:  all Christians are theologians.  The word, theology, simply means “the study of God.”  Sure, many have dedicated their lives and careers to vocational theology.  But, all Christians are theologians on some level.  Nay, we are commanded to be theologians.  It was Paul who instructed Timothy,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

This command goes for all of us.  The instruction to Timothy (and us) provides an implied warning: to be instructed to rightly handle the word of truth suggests that there was much wrongly handling the word of truth.  The potential of teaching in error (via hurried preparation, little to no prayer, etc.) should send terror into everyone who has been given the assignment to stand before people and exposit scripture.  This is why James, the half-brother of Jesus, warned:

Not many [of you] should become teachers [serving in an official teaching capacity], my brothers and sisters, for you know that we [who are teachers] will be judged by a higher standard [because we have assumed greater accountability and more condemnation if we teach incorrectly]. (Amplified)

Dr. Wayne Grudem’s text on Systematic Theology is the “go to” text for many pastors and teachers (my copy is well worn).  Grudem was recently interviewed on why systematic theology matters to Bible study.  Below is an excerpt from the article:

Grudem defines his approach sytematic theology as “any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?”  The conviction that theological teaching should be clear (to our listeners) is borne out of conviction that Scripture is clear.

He qualifies,

Though God’s revelation is clear, to understand it rightly you must study it responsibly, putting in effort to improve the skills necessary for effective reading and teaching.

Soon, we will take a look at ways to improve those skills.  Until then, pray fervently, study intensely, and rightly handle the word of truth.  nw

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 10 – “The Good Shepherd”

Jesus is publicly exposing the teachers and religious leaders as “false shepherds” by contrasting his shepherding with theirs:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

Why does Jesus refer to himself as the Good Shepherd?  Because Israel (and modern day churches) are filled with bad shepherds who were lazy and self-centered, being interested in nothing other than position, prestige and power.  (I shared with my class a couple of stories of things I’ve heard pastors say and do that were unbelievably unbiblical, self-righteous, and self-serving.)

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God thundered,

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? …but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals…

After calling out the bad shepherds, God then delivers their consequences:

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd…I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock… – Ezek. 34:2-8

You can view the lesson in its entirety here.

Shepherd your sheep humbly and tenderly.

 

TEENS, COVID & SUICIDE

Professional counselors will tell you that, during the past year, a new term emerged among mental health workers:  ‘COVID Depression.”

A FOX News article caught my eye with the headline:Las Vegas schools pushing to get students back quickly following rise in suicides, report says.  (You can read the article here.)

An article was posted this past week by local news, KCBD, citing the spike in ER visits at UMC related to the mental health of children.  2020 has been a devastating year.  Read the KCBD article here.

Keep your eyes open. Be “present.”  Look for any signs or signals a teen could be in danger of hurting themselves.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“The claim ‘only science can discover truth’ is self-refuting, as the statement itself cannot be verified using science.” – Dr. Andy Bannister (Ph.D. in Islamic Studies)

And,…

“In Science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.” – C.S. Lewis

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

I’ve actually said No. 4 to young men before.

And, a bonus for my fellow Red Raider/Chiefs fans…

 

SOUL FOOD:  Lord, teach me to pray. (here you go…)

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 1.21.21

 

WELCOME SAMMY & ANITA!

(I tried to get a photo with Anita, but had to settle for Sammy.)

Sammy & Anita will begin their ministry here on Sunday, Feb. 14th.  What a joy it is to have them.  Please pray for:

  1. Their departure from FBC, Levelland.  They have been there 11 years, are dearly loved, and will be missed.
  2. FBC, Levelland.  As we conclude the search for a lead pastor, they are just getting started.
  3. The sale of the Elliott’s home in Levelland.

 

A NOTE FROM SAMMY:

MEN:

I want to encourage all husbands to be a part of the Marriage Summit Challenge this Saturday, 1/23.  It will require TWO hours of your time but could be the catalyst to strengthen your marriage.  In a day where too many marriages are just surviving, I would encourage all husbands to be intentional in taking a step or two to help build strong and thriving marriages.

Saturday will be the start of a three-week challenge.  Husbands are to gather to be encouraged and challenged in their marriages.  They will be given a three-week challenge and then will be invited back to a virtual rally at the end of the three weeks.  Husbands are encouraged to bring their wives to that final rally.

Join us this Saturday in the FLC.  I am looking forward to getting to know each of you and doing life with you as well.  I hope to see you this Saturday.

Sammy

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 8-9

What price are you willing to pay to stand up for biblical truth?

Take the two most combustible issues of the day:  sexuality & the rights of the unborn.

If someone asks your position on either of these topics are you willing to pay the price for biblical truth?   Someone once said, “If you want to help others  you will tell them the truth; if you want to help yourself you will tell them what they want to hear.”

Having the courage to stand firmly for biblical truth will cost you friends, prestige and status.  How can we be sure of this?

That’s what it cost Jesus.  And much more.

In 1945, only days before the end of the war in Nazi Germany, Deitrich Bonhoeffer was standing trial because he refused to shrink from biblical truth.  Below is from the memoirs in the introduction to his classic, The Cost of Discipleship:

He was then executed.

In 1521, the reformer, Martin Luther, stood before the most powerful man in the land.  Told to recant his commitment to biblical truth or risk arrest, or even death, Luther made his famous statement:

Immediately pursued for assassination, Luther became an outlaw and was confined to isolation at the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany.  (Michelle and I have stood in the very room at Warburg where Luther would eventually translate the Greek New Testament into German.)

We sometimes contemplate dying for our faith.  The more unsettling question is, “Are you willing to live for it?”

Jesus did both.

And Jesus says to us, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

You can view the lesson in its entirety here.

 

 

Our Youth Ministry volunteers are hard at work providing solid opportunities to our teens for learning and spiritual growth. FYI – Wednesday nights (Breakthru) resumed this past week. 6:30-7:30 in the FLC.  Bible 101 series:

  • How did we get the Bible?
  • How can we know the Bible is true?
  • How the Bible is organized.
  • Overviews of Old Testament and New Testament books.
  • How to study the Bible.

 

THANK YOU, DL & ALICE! – Jan. 31st

What can I say about DL and Alice Lowrie?  On Sunday morning, Jan. 31st, their final Sunday here at BHBC, we will host a Thank You Reception for them in our Commons.  More on this in next week’s Navigator.

 

AMERICA: Spiritual, not necessarily Christian

A few years back I sat in a room in Los Angeles and listened to sociologist, Tony Campolo, speak on the current spiritual state of mind in North America.

I wrote down this statement he made:

“America is not a Christian nation. But it is a deeply spiritual nation.”

Based on my own decades working with students at the time, I immediately agreed.

So, this recent article linked below is no surprise. From the article:

“Even among the quarter of Americans who do not identify with a religion (atheists, agnostics, and those who say they are “nothing in particular”), most still describe themselves as a spiritual person.”

This is precisely why visiting about the supernatural remains relevant.  It demonstrates a wide-open receptiveness to the Bible, God, etc. We see this demonstrated over and over again in Paul’s ministry as he connects with those who worship pagan gods. He was able to build common ground due to their openness to a metaphysical reality.

Let’s take this a step further.

One of my grad professors (and former atheist), Dr. Holly Ordway, in her book, Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith, rightly observed:

We live in what is essentially a post-Christian age. Church attendance has dropped; increasing numbers of people feel comfortable admitting to agnosticism or atheism; every day the media gives evidence of a deep-seated hostility toward Christianity (especially on any topic related to sexual ethics).

Ordway’s point is that, unlike life up until the mid/late 20th century, society no longer readily accepts the Bible as absolute truth.  As Ordway later writes,

“People have only a vague idea of Jesus, one that’s frankly not interesting enough to be worth bothering about; for them, Christianity is just one more option on the spiritual menu, and an outdated one at that.”

The point in the article linked here for you below is exciting because it tells us what was written millennia ago is still true:

[God] has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God].

People, although not Christian, are still open and hungry for God – and they don’t even know it.  It’s our job to be ready and available to visit with them. Read the brief article here.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

“Christianity gives a meaning for life that suffering can’t take away from you.” – Tim Keller

And,…

“I pray that when I die, all of hell will rejoice that I am no longer in the fight.” – C.T.Studd.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

And,…

My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.” – Steven Wright

 

SOUL FOOD:  A Wait Problem

Few, if any, of us do patience well.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

The Navigator: 1.15.2021

 

THIS SUNDAY, 1/17 – WELCOME ELLIOTT FAMILY

The search committee has done their job.  Now, it’s up to the Body to discern God’s will for BHBC.

Sammy and I spent over two hours over lunch getting to know one another better, visiting about sundry topics related to life and ministry, BHBC’s history, going over Sunday’s worship services, and just enjoying talking and laughing together.  I was so impressed with the humility of this man.  NOTE: speaking of humility, when I asked him how he would like to be addressed he quickly replied, “Please drop the ‘dr.’  I’m not into titles.”  I promised I would pass that instruction along.

I am thrilled about Sunday and have assured Sammy I will be there to attend to his and his family’s every need.  For Sunday’s schedule simply click here.

Our prayer (in agreement with the Apostle’s prayer cited above):  “O God, show your Body your will for us.  And show Sammy and Anita your will for them.  Amen.”

 

SPEAKING OF SUNDAY – NICK RETURNS

My heart goes out to all who have suffered from COVID.  I elaborate more on my journey in my Table Talk below.  Suffice it to say, it has been a painful, and sometimes scary, experience.

That said, I can’t wait to see you all this Sunday.  It does my heart good to exalt and magnify Christ with you.  Oh, and thank you for all who have reached out to me and Michelle during these past two weeks via bringing food, running errands, and writing encouraging notes and texts.  Your love has been overwhelming.

Miraculously, Michelle never contracted the virus.   Apparently, contrary to my facetious comments – she is the one with superior genetics in our family.

 

ALSO, SPEAKING OF SUNDAY: SANCTITY OF LIFE

Holly Duncan, from Parkridge Pregnancy Center, will be sharing in both worship services this Sunday.  “For you created my inmost being,” David prayed.  “You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;…”

 

GOD, TRUMP & BIDEN

This past Wed evening, I was not able to attend church, but I felt good enough to post a Table Talk.  This was largely based on conviction from my daily devotional from that morning.

My  Table Talks average 500 views per week on my Facebook page.  Wednesday’s talk hit 500 views within a few hours and has now been viewed over 700 times.  During these troubling times, people are desperately looking for peace based on biblical truth.

I am linking this week’s Table Talk here for you via YouTube. (I transfer them to my Youtube Channel for those who don’t have a FB account).

 

THE GOSPEL of JOHN: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

Thank you to DL for supplying for me this past Wednesday evening.  I cannot say enough about this man.  I love him so much.

Join me next Wed. evening, 1/20, at 6:30, as we pick up John’s story of the most dramatic life ever lived.  We’re inside six months now from when Jesus will face the Cross.  As we approach Easter on the calendar, we do the same in John’s gospel.  The drama is building.  Join me for the ride.

 

THE MOST DANGEROUS YEAR FOR CHURCH HEALTH – BUT NOT AT BHBC

This past week, we got a message from a former member telling our staff, “Hang tough.  A new boss is on his way.”  I have no idea where that comment came from.  Clearly, it was meant in jest.

It is important, as people in place of leadership at BHBC, you read what I wrote to our staff in response: 

The note prompted a conviction I want to share and I want you all to hear it: my introduction to this thing we call “a pastoral interim period” was in 1985 while I served at a church in Abilene. Since that time I have witnessed (and, sometimes, survived) numerous more.

Here’s what I can honestly say to you: there’s not been a single moment this past year that required us to “hang tough.” I have seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly. Our staff has exemplified not merely professionalism but, more importantly, a Christ-like maturity this past year.

Dana Kluzek, Mike Lewis and myself have often used the phrase, “not only have we not missed a beat, but our staff quickly became healthier than it had been in some time.” Given the circumstances surrounding Jason’s abrupt and curious resignation, coupled with the pandemic, our church and staff could have easily imploded due to anxiety and/or a crack in our foundation of interpersonal trust.

Do you know what helped prevent that? A healthy and strong staff.

I’ve seen it over and over: as the staff goes so the church goes. Not once has there been suspicion or questions about the staff. Further, Mike, Dana and myself have, for the past year, made certain you were protected and set up for continual success.

And what can I say about DL? God knew we needed this man. What a joyful pleasure it has been to serve alongside this wise and humble servant. I will truly hate to see his interim leadership at BHBC come to an end.

Finally, I always resist statements like, “our best days are ahead,” since this implies a minimization of what God has done in the past through men like Hank Scott, Jerry Joplin and DL – as well as what he’s done through you (the staff) all this past year. I like to put it this way: “the same God who led and blessed us in past days will continue to do so if we humbly trust and follow him.”

What an absolute joy it’s been to serve alongside each one of you. I am more like Christ because of his influence on me through you. Much love, Nick

As Sammy and I visited this past week, we shared the experience of seeing how badly interim periods can become.  Our experience at BHBC has been an absolute joy.  Additionally, how many churches had to address a multi-million debt retirement campaign this past year within the context of global economic anxiety?  I’m not sure, but I know BHBC did.  And you responded in the mighty power of Christ.  Sure, 2020 was a difficult year.  But Christ was greater still.  As I told Sammy, “there’s nothing to ‘fix’ – you can hit the ground running.”

 

A PURITAN PRAYER

I often encourage believers who desire to learn how to pray (Jesus’ own disciples asked him to teach them to pray) to, first, simply pray the prayers of the Bible.

The Psalms hand us 150 prayers.  The longest prayer in scripture is in Nehemiah, chapter 9Daniel 9 contains one of my favorites.  The actual “Lord’s Prayer” is recorded for us in John 17. God was gracious enough to fill the pages of his Word with the prayers of, both, the desperate and the grateful.

Additionally, we have preserved for us prayers from believers throughout history.  As I read (and pray) these prayers my heart is challenged and my prayer life is deepened.  Sometimes, when I am hopeless and empty, I find myself returning to these prayers just to find help in what to pray.

Permit me to share an excerpt from just such a prayer from the prayer journal, The Valley of Vision:

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections, supply words that proclaim that ‘love abounds at Calvary.’

At the Cross grace removes my burdens and heaps them on the Son.  There the sword of your justice smote your Son.  There my infinite sin was magnified, and infinite atonement was made.  There infinite punishment was due, and infinite punishment endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, that I might be welcomed as a friend. He was surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, and entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, and closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness.

O God, who spared not your own Son that you might spare me, may my every breath be filled with ecstatic praise, my every step with buoyant delight.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the Cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

Amen

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

And, what I call an “ouch” quote: (“ouch” because it’s true)

“To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license,” Bill Maher (an atheist) once explained. “Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll down to the bottom and click, ‘I agree.'”

Ok – one more since it’s been a while since I posted The Navigator:

I read Thomas Nagel’s, Mind & Cosmos, during my grad studies in Christian Apologetics.

Keep in mind – the following quote exposing the holes in Darwinian evolutionary theory is not from a Christian, but a professed atheist…

“…no viable [scientifically-supported] account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and informative-rich as a self-producing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA, or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment.” – NYU atheist philosopher/professor, Thomas Nagel, positing questions for the origination of human consciousness, cognition, value and reason.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

For my fellow coffee lovers.  Coffee is the perfect-bonding-beverage; the nectar of the gods. 🙂

 

SOUL FOOD:  Hobbits & Hope

Hope is on shaky ground these days.  Oxford defender of the faith, Alister McGrath, used Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to remind us where rock-solid footing is always found.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

The Navigator: 12.17.2020

NOTE:  This will be the final Navigator E-news for 2020.  The next one will be published on January 7th.  Have a wonderful and safe holiday.  Nick

 

VOTE THIS SUNDAY

Due to the dramatic decrease in attendance (this is consistent in all churches, not just BHBC), a motion will be made in both worship services this Sunday, 12/20, to forgo a minimum number of people required to be present to vote when a pastoral candidate comes to preach in view of a call to be our next pastor.

The Bylaws state a quorum of 250 members must be present.  Presently, we are running in the 180’s.

 

12/20 – Regular schedule

12/24Christmas Eve Service; 5pm; DL will pre-record leading the Lord’s Supper for those who might want to observe communion during the Christmas holiday.  You can do so by accessing our web site.

12/25 – Offices closed

12/27 (Sunday) – Combined worship; 9:15 – Small Groups; 10:45 – Worship Service

1/1 – Offices closed

1/3 (Sunday) – Combined worship; 9:15 – Small Groups; 10:45 – Worship Service

***12/21-12/31 – Offices open from 9 until noon.

 

FINAL TABLE TALK of 2020:  A Strange Way to Save the World

Based on the number of people who watch these Table Talks on my Facebook page it is clear that there are many people looking for truth and hope in our world.  My prayer this week is that you will see the baby in the manger as never before.

We are perplexed not only by the “how” of Christmas, but also the “why.”  Strap up your sandals and let’s journey to Bethlehem together.  Let’s better understand the psychopath known as King Herod who so desperately tried to prevent the coming of the promised Messiah.  Let’s “peek over the shoulders” of Joseph and Mary as they settle into a cattle stall that first Christmas.  Let’s walk along side the shepherds in the nearby field as the sky explodes with light and great joy.   And, let’s take a new and fresh look at the baby in the manger.  nw

 

THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD

You, no doubt, recognize the above phrase from Psalm 19.  In his Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis wrote,

“I take Psalm 19 to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.”

As I have before mentioned, there is a “geek side” to me in that I have a deep love for studying astronomy as well as astrophysics.  So, when I stumbled across the article linked for you here titled, “Astronomers Just Mapped 1 Million Previously Unknown Galaxies,” I knew I had to share it with you.  Why?  Because, when you look at the baby in your Nativity Scene, it can be easy to forget that that baby, being God, is the one who spoke these galaxies into their very existence.  Read the article here.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

And, a bonus…for those who are using a real tree:

 

SOUL FOOD:  Two entries this week…

Why We Sing “Joy” and not “Happiness” to the World – read the blog here.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – read the blog here.

Merry Christmas, St. Nick

The Navigator: 12.10.2020

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

12/24 – Christmas Eve Service; 5pm; DL will pre-record leading the Lord’s Supper for those who might want to observe communion during the Christmas holiday.  You can do so by accessing our web site.

12/25 – Offices closed

12/27 (Sunday) – Combined worship; 9:15 – Small Groups; 10:45 – Worship Service

1/1 – Offices closed

1/3 (Sunday) – Combined worship; 9:15 – Small Groups; 10:45 – Worship Service

***12/21-12/31 – Offices open from 9 until noon.

 

UN-CHRISTIAN

I saw the meme below the other day and it reminded me of the indicting statement made by 19th century, German atheist philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche:

“I would believe in their Savior if they acted from like they have been save.”

 

FOSTERING HOPE – Final Notice (with modifications due to COVID)

 

The easiest lessons to learn are from the mistakes of others:

In the Old Testament, God had entrusted Solomon with more wisdom than anyone else on planet earth.  That wisdom led to untold wealth and power.

At first, Solomon was humble and obedient to God.  But, as time wore on Solomon, like so many after great success, let his guard down and and became lazy where his devotion to God was concerned, even worshiping other gods.

This did not go well for Solomon. 

The book of Ecclesiastes is a fairly depressing book of the Bible to read.  And could well be titled the statement at the top of this post.

So, when reading it, we have to see a man who, after decades of remarkable success, now laments his sin and, in a quasi-depressed state, wants to keep others from wasting what God entrusts to us.

Among other life-lessons, Solomon writes about true friends – not the fair-weather friends who, when crises come our way, are no longer there. Or, after thinking they are you’re close friend, you discover they’ve  stabbed you in the back.  (Someone once said, “A true friend is someone who stabs you in the front.)

Solomon writes:

“Two are better than one because one can help the other.  If one falls the other can help them up.  But woe to that person who has no one to lift them up.” (4:9-10)

He is describing a friend who is always there for you, loves you enough to tell you the truth, and would never do anything to harm you or your reputation.

There are many learned-the-hard-way lessons Solomon shares in this book.  Being extremely careful as to whom you let into your circle is just one.

Love to you all, Nick

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“A godly leader finds strength by realizing his weakness, finds authority by being under authority, finds direction by laying down his own plans, finds vision by seeing the needs of others, finds credibility by being an example, finds loyalty by expressing compassion, finds honor by being faithful, finds greatness by being a servant.” —Roy Lessin

And,…

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  Angels Among Us – Part 1

There is great interest in angels during the Christmas season.  What does the Bible say about them?  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 12.3.2020

 

STAY THE COURSE

With the spike in COVID cases all churches are dealing with decreased attendance.  Please make a point to stay in contact with your people.  Faithfully shepherd your flock.  We were created by God not for isolation but for community.  In short, we need one another.  Thank you for humbly serving Christ.

 

GLENNA APPLEWHITE – RESIGNATION

Glenna contacted me on Monday evening with the news that she has chosen to resign as our choral director.  She explained her decision was due to the ongoing COVID crisis, as well as her dad having moved in with her and Marc so they can take care of him.  Below is my note to the choir:

  1. First and foremost, when Glenna informed me of her conviction to resign I was heartbroken.  She has been a delight to serve alongside.  Her personality and sense of humor light up my day.  When COVID is over we will have a huge “thank you” party for her.
  2. Speaking of COVID, due to the extreme spike in cases here in the Lubbock area, we will continue to have no choir until further notice – and this may extend until a vaccine is available.  We will unapologetically err on the side of caution.
  3. Lastly, God already has a successor to direct the choir.  God gives wisdom.  God is wisdom.  He will lead us to that person.
  4. One more thing:  I love you all.  Grace & peace, Nick

When you see Glenna tell her ‘thank you’ and give her a virtual hug.

 

FOSTERING HOPE (with modifications due to COVID)

 

‘TIS THE SEASON

The song goes like this:  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

But, somewhere along the way, it’s become (for many people) the most stressful time of the year.  Traffic, long lines at the stores, the pressure and cost associated with buying gifts, etc.  And, this year, COVID simply exacerbates it all.

So, recently I posted ‘Wisdom from God’s Word regarding anger.’  I am posting it for you here:

“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)

Mark Twain rightly asserted:

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

We’re never weaker than when we’re angry.  Peace, nw

 

TABLE TALKS RETURN FOR DECEMBER

Although we’ve completed our Fall semester, numerous requests have necessitated the continuation of me teaching on Wed. evenings, which I am thrilled to do.

Topics & dates are as follows:

Wed., 12/2 – What are the odds? (a look at the inexplicable, remarkable fulfillment of centuries-old prophecies surrounding Christ’s birth)

Wed, 12/9 – I Didn’t See That Coming! (The scandal, the suspense, the danger: God’s strange way of saving the world)

Wed, 12/16 – The Visited Planet (God becomes flesh)

Jesus fulfilled 333 Old Testament prophecies.  What are the odds of Christ fulfilling only 8?  It’s humanly incomprehensible.  Be encouraged by being reminded of what we already know:  that baby in the manger is the promised Messiah prophesied about in our Old Testament.

 

SATURN & JUPITER WILL ALIGN FOR THE ‘CHRISTMAS STAR’ THIS MONTH

From the article:

This will be the closest conjunction since 1623 and will officially take place on Dec. 21, although the “Christmas Star” will be visible the entire fourth week of the month.

Read the article here.

 

SLEIGH RIDE

Since our daughter, Macy, works on Thanksgiving day, we had to make the trip to Branson, MO, to spend the holiday there.  While there, we visited Silver Dollar City (where Macy performs).  Upon entering the park you are met by a 6-story Christmas tree that is a sight to behold.  I submit for you here a magical light display to the beloved ‘Sleigh Ride.’  I posted it on my Facebook page and it’s been viewed well over 1.3 thousand times.  I thought, in light of the season, you might enjoy viewing it as well.  St. Nick

 

QUOTE(s)

“Satan bombards our minds with false thoughts of unworthiness and unrighteousness. ‘How could you do that and call yourself a Christian?’, Satan hisses. But Satan is not your judge; his is merely your accuser. When Satan’s accusations of unworthiness attack you, don’t pay attention to them. Instead, say to yourself, ‘I have put my trust in Christ. I have been rescued by God from judgment, and He has declared me righteous.’ Satan cannot determine a verdict or pronounce a sentence. He can only accuse. Don’t buy it.” – Neil Anderson

And,…

When I ask people when they really grew spiritually I have never had anyone describe a time that was easy.  Never. – Chuck Swindoll

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

The man’s sister didn’t believe he could build a car out of spaghetti.  He said, “You should’ve seen the look on her face when I drove pasta.”  (moan….)

A bonus,…

This 90-second clip has made the rounds.  I can’t explain the man playing the soprano sax other than him being tone-deaf.  It is curious that the other musicians didn’t know that prior to this train-wreck.  That said, although the clip is painful to watch, it is fun watching the other two musicians who, it looks like, just want it to end quickly. Enjoy this “worship service”.

 

SOUL FOOD: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The story behind the song will inspire you with hope.  At the end of the blog is a beautiful rendition of the song by Zach & Melissa Walker from BHBC.   Read the blog here.

 

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.19.2020

THIS SUNDAY, 11/22

Preacher:  D.L. Lowrie

 

As of Tuesday morning’s Staff Meeting, decisions were made by staff to cancel all mid-week activities effective next week.  What this means is that we will not meet again for mid-week activities until further notice – hopefully, when we resume in January.

Due to the spike in COVID (we have church members as well as staff contracting the virus) in Lubbock and surrounding communities (Lubbock has set up tents outside hospitals and Amarillo has brought in mobile morgues) we are choosing to err on the side of caution.   Additionally, we have cancelled both the Adult & Children’s Christmas musicals due to shrinking attendance in both choirs (due to COVID).  Attendance, church-wide, was our lowest so far this past Sunday, with many choosing to stay away for health concerns.  We suspect this trend will continue throughout the remainder of the year.

Finally, we will not be offering the Lottie Moon Post Office this year to help prevent the spread of the virus due to different people handling the mail. (We will still be promoting the Lottie Moon offering in the worship services.)

Sunday worship services, as well as Sunday School, have not changed and will continue to meet.  Masks are strongly encouraged in the hallways and Commons.  If you have been in contact with someone suspected of infection, or you don’t feel well, please stay home.

More information as it becomes available.  Be wise, and keep praying for a cure.

 

FOSTERING HOPE (with modifications due to COVID)

This is an FYI to share with your class.

 

LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF

“And a second [greatest commandment] is like [the first]: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I am presently reading Eric Mataxas‘ outstanding biography on the 16th century German reformer, Martin Luther(While doing mission work in Germany, Michelle and I toured the castle in Eisenach where Luther translated the Greek New Testament into German.)

Hate and vitriol are in strong supple today (it actually always is, but the media/social media reports little else.)

Luther once wrote,

“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none (i.e. a Christian is subject to no spiritual authority other than Christ). And a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”

He continues,

[Therefore,] “I will give myself as a sort of Christ to my neighbor as Christ gave himself for me.”

That’s powerful.

 

A PRAYER FOR WEARING A MASK

I thought this was so poignant and powerful. I hate wearing a mask but this man’s prayer is a paradigm-shift. It’s like one of those pictures where some people see the young lady and some see the old hag. It all depends on perspective. The Lord used this man’s prayer to alter my perspective. Love to you all, nw

 

TTU TO RECEIVE $275,000 FEDERAL GRANT FOR MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE PREVENTION

When I present my talk on Suicide Awareness & Intervention I tell the audience that the topic of suicide is no longer taboo, but now widely covered by the mainstream media with cover articles by Newsweek and headlines in the New York Times.  So, it should be no surprise to find this article yesterday on the KCBD web site.

All praise to Christ for TTU’s efforts to help people choose to live.

99% of those who attempt to take their life don’t want to die, they just want the pain to stop.

Read the brief article here.

 

A Nugget from Wed’s time of learning in John 8:31-46:  True or False:  Choose. There is no Middle Way.

Have you ever noticed that telling someone the truth may actually destroy unity rather than promote it?  It was Paul who asked the Galatians: “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”

In John 8, Jesus continues to undress the self-righteousness of the Jews, finally arriving at the root cause of their sin by saying,

I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”  …You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires… (emphasis mine)

Even as born-again Christians, we are quite capable of sliding back into the patterns of behavior we demonstrated when our “father was the devil” i.e. gossip, lying (a half-truth is still a whole lie), lust, anger, hatred, slander, selfishness, etc.

Years ago, while reading an outstanding book by theologian/counselor, Neil Anderson, I came across this powerful statement:

“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.”

The passage we unpacked Wed. evening began with Jesus’ familiar words, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We can’t will-power our way out of bondage to ingrained habits of sin.  Only the application of biblical truth can set us free.  And how do we become aware of truth?  By holding tightly to the teaching of Christ.  Read his Word, memorize his Word, apply his word.  The truth (his truth) will set you free.

Watch the the lesson in its entirety here.

 

THE HISTORICAL RELIABILITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

I post these kinds of videos and quotes weekly on my Facebook page.  Here’s a short video clip that will continue to strengthen your faith, as well as equip you to have intelligent dialogue where Christianity is concerned.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

Once we embrace Christ, we are instantly made righteous because of his righteousness, and not because of anything we have done or could do. (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21)

An argument for a Creator from a non-Christian physicist:

“There is powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all…It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe…The impression of design is overwhelming” ⁠— Physicist, Paul Davies (not a Christian), Cosmic Blueprint

And, one more from the great thinker, C.S. Lewis…

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”-C.S. Lewis  (There’s nothing wrong with owning stuff.  The decay to our fellowship with God comes when our stuff begins owning us.  nw)

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD: The Danger of Good Leaders Becoming Proud When They Are Older And Successful

This is a guest-blog written by my dear friend, Dr. Jim Hardwicke.  It is applicable not only to pastors, but to those who serve on any level of local church leadership i.e. Sunday School teachers, deacons, committee personnel, etc.  Heed the Bible’s warning in this blog.  Read the blog here.

 

For a list of Search Team members, or to know the steps for communicating with the Team, please click here and scroll down. Pray for them!

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.12.2020

THIS SUNDAY, 11/15

Preacher:  DL Lowrie

Text:  Luke 15

 

Boxes are due this Sunday, 11/15.

Note: I shared the following with our Missions Team

  • Don’t be discouraged by the number of OCC boxes that have not been taken.  It’s simple math.  We set out the same number of boxes we’ve always set out and have shown videos each Sunday as we always have. But, due to COVID, we are only averaging a little over 200 on Sundays, at best.  So, proportionately, people have taken the same number of boxes as in the past.

 

A Nugget from Wed’s time of learning in John 8:21-30:  Knowing vs. Believing (There’s a dangerous difference.)

The only unpardonable sin is unbelief.  Mental assent (knowing about God without placing one’s faith in Christ) is, according to the Bible, not enough.

Anyone can – and often do – say they’re a Christian without any devotion to the biblical Christ whatsoever.   Paul described this to Timothy as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 

As James, the half-brother of Jesus, warned, even the demons’ theology is orthodox. Satan can quote the entire Bible (he demonstrated this in the wilderness temptation) although he doesn’t believe it.

To translate ‘mental assent’ into North American church culture, Jesus warned that anyone can quote Bible verses, sing the songs, give money, even talk to others about God – and still be lost and headed for a devil’s hell.

An indicting statement about the term ‘Christian’ comes from the renowned, late British atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell.  In his treatise, Why I Am Not a Christian, he writes:

Perhaps it would be as well, first of all, to try to make out what one means by the word Christian.  It is used these days in a very loose sense by a great many people.  Some people mean no more by it than a person who attempts to live a good life… The word does not have quite such a full-blooded meaning now as it had in the times of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.  In those days, if a man said that he was a Christian it was known what he meant.  [You read and studied the Bible, accepted and obeyed its teaching,] and believed every single syllable with the whole strength of your convictions.

Jesus warned,

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the World].

You can watch the entire lesson here.

MID-WEEK CLASSES & ACTIVITIES END FOR HOLIDAY BREAK

Except for Youth & Children, all Wed. evening activities conclude next week, 11/18, for the holiday season.  They will resume on Wed., 1/13.

 

I found this encouraging.

There is progress being made both here in the U.S., as well as around the world.  Here is a brief article from The Jerusalem Post regarding progress being made to find a cure.

 

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

There will be no change to our regular Sunday schedule for the Thanksgiving holidays.   Sunday School and Worship Services will proceed as normal.

The church office will be closed Nov. 26-27.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

From Gary Larson’s beloved Far Side:

 

SOUL FOOD: How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong?

“Jesus Christ is my favorite philosopher.”  Does that statement sound strange?  It shouldn’t.  Read the blog here.

 

For a list of Search Team members, or to know the steps for communicating with the Team, please click here and scroll down. Pray for them!

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 11.5.2020

THIS SUNDAY, 11/8

Preacher:  D.L. Lowrie

 

Boxes are available in the Commons! 

Nov. 15 – Boxes, filled with supplies, are due at BHBC.

 

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BIBLE TRANSLATIONS?

I get asked that from time to time.  The answer? So we can read the Bible. (The truth is, since the autographs (originals) of the Bible do not exist, every single Bible that’s ever been printed is, by definition, a translation.)

But, it may be surprising that getting a Bible in the language we understand came at great cost.  John Wycliffe and William Tyndale were merely two of the pioneers of Bible translation burned at the stake for the “crime” of translating the Bible into the language of the common people.   One historian describes Tyndale’s final moments:

On Friday, October 6, 1536, after local officials took their seats, Tyndale was brought to the cross in the middle of the town square and given a chance to recant. That refused, he was given a moment to pray. English historian John Foxe said he cried out, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!”

Why would the religious leadership consider the translation of the Bible from Latin into English, German, or other languages a crime worthy of death?  Because, as Wycliffe, Tyndale, and other martyrs rightly believed, all Christians should be able to learn the Christian faith for themselves.  This conviction necessitated the Scriptures needing to be translated into languages the people understood.  However, this was a courageous, nay dangerous, endeavor.  For when the masses were able to read the Bible for themselves, the corrupt church leadership of the day would no longer be able to manipulate the people by manipulating the scriptures.

The brave Wycliffe, hailed as the morning star of the Reformation, went so far as to call out the church leadership publicly,

England belongs to no pope. The pope is but a man, subject to sin, but Christ is the Lord of Lords and this kingdom is to be held directly and solely of Christ alone.

Wycliffe would also say to church leadership,

“If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”

This did not sit well with the power-hungry pastors of days.

The blood of many men paved the way for us to have the Bible translated into languages people can understand.

I have a number of books in my library describing how we got our English Bible. I am deeply moved every time I refer to them.  May we never take the scriptures we hold in our hand for granted.

Click here to read a solid article on the value of multiple English translations. 

 

What is the Definition of Christianity?

Have you ever been asked that question?  If not, how would you answer it?  How about beginning with letting God answer the question:

For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10

 

 

A Nugget from Wed’s time of learning in John 812-21:  Willful Ignorance

Unbelief never has enough proof; willful ignorance never has enough truth.

Willful ignorance is demonstrated by that person who says, “Don’t bother me with facts. My mind is already made up.”

Jesus said,

If anyone wants (is willing to; desires) to do God’s will, he will know about my teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from my own authority.

In short, if you’re willing to know the truth, you’ll know the truth.

Ignorance is cheap; ignorance is common; and ignorance in the face of evidence for truth is terminal.

The author of Hebrews lamented,

So we see that [Israel] could not enter [the Promised Land] because of unbelief.

The only unpardonable sin is unbelief.

And a willing unbeliefa refusal to to honestly investigate the claims of Christ – is a death sentence.

To watch the lesson in its entirety click here.

 

BHBC UNIVERSITY MINISTRY IS GROWING!

If you’ve never had a chance to meet Shawn Coleman you are missing out on a blessing.  God brought Shawn to us a few years ago to shepherd a fledgling university ministry.  What God has done through him is nothing short of amazing.

God has given Shawn favor in our community.  For example, last year he was asked by the coaching staff at LCU to lead weekly Bible Studies for them.

Now, due to outgrowing their mid-week meeting room on the second floor, they’ve been forced to find a larger place to meet.  So, last night, for the first time they met in our Student Ministry assembly room, and will continue to do so until further notice.

Pray for Shawn, his wife (Kimberly), and their two precious daughters.

 

QUOTES of the WEEK

And…,

 

LAUGHTER IS  GOOD MEDICINE

Personally, I stand behind this statement.

 

SOUL FOOD:  Paranormal Activity – Can we communicate with our deceased loved ones?

Seasonally, we’re a week late on this topic.  But, doctrinely, for Christians it’s always relevant.  Read the blog here.

 

For a list of Search Team members, or to know the steps for communicating with the Team, please click here and scroll down. Pray for them!

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

The Navigator: 10.29.2020

THIS SUNDAY, 11/1

Preacher: DL Lowrie

 

This Sunday, 11/1, boxes will be available.  The schedule is as follows:

Nov. 1 – Boxes will be available for pick up

Nov. 15 – Boxes, filled with supplies, are due at BHBC

 

THE BIBLE 101

There is no greater Christian priority than the study and application of God’s Word.  It is our sole source for right and wrong.  It is sufficient for all matters of life – and the life to come.

It answers better than any other source the basic questions that must be asked about any worldview:

  1. Where did we come from?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What’s the solution?
  4. How do things end?

Paul quoted the prophet, Habakkuk:

“The righteous (that’s Christians) shall live by faith.”

Where does faith come from?

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Satan knows this.  And that is why biblical illiteracy is at an embarrassing level among Christians.

We are without excuse for biblical ignorance.  Bookshelves bend under the weight of available resources for studying and knowing the scriptures.

Linked here for you is an article that contains 9 basic facts about the Bible.  Most facts are trivial (as “when was the Bible first divided into chapters and verses?”), while No. 8 helps you answer questions about various approaches to different English translations of the Bible.  I will include more in-depth resources in the coming weeks.

Read the article here.

 

POLITICS (Oh, I’m walking a tightrope now. 🙂 )

I don’t post my political convictions publicly because I have neither the time nor the interest in arguing with people who have no interest in civil discourse (this would comprise 99.999% of those on social media.)

However, I did post the blog linked below because I considered it very solid food-for-thought.  Written by philosopher and defender of the Christian faith, Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.  (pronounced “Groo-tise”; second syllable rhymes with ice.)

I love this quote by Bono,  the lead singer of U2:

The Left mocks the Right.  The Right knows it’s right.  Two ugly traits.  How far should we go to try to  understand each other’s point of view?  Maybe the distance grace covered on the cross is a clue.

Read the brief blog here.  And don’t forget to vote.

 

FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

A friend sent me this haunting melodic piece of music recently.  Enjoy.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

Fear does not stop death. It stops life.  And worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles.  It takes away today’s peace.

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  I’ve Failed as a Parent

If you have children, at some point in life you’ve, no doubt, thought this.  We all have.  Read the blog here.

 

For a list of Search Team members, or to know the steps for communicating with the Team, please click here and scroll down. Pray for them!

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick