“Prayer for ACSI Day of Prayer” (Tuesday, February 23, 2021)

What a privilege to be able to pray in school! I was privileged to pray with the entire high school staff and students of Southside Christian School in Simpsonville, South Carolina on the Day of Prayer sponsored by the Association of Christian Schools International (ASCI) on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. I was essentially also praying with and for all of the ACSI schools throughout the world. If you are interested in the content of my brief prayer, please read on. . .

“Lord, we are ALL created in Your image.  

As such, we have infinite value in YOUR eyes.

Let us find our value in that truth, not in what others think of us or how we compare ourselves to others, particularly through social media.

We are like You, Lord, but we are NOT YOU.

You are holy and righteous.

We sin. Please forgive our sin. Please move us away from our sin and bring us into a right relationship with You.

Thank You for sending Jesus to earth on an unprecedented rescue mission!

We praise You, Lord, that Jesus lived a sinless life!

Thank You that Jesus showed us how to love You and to love others.

We are humbled that He washed the dirty feet of His disciples and showed incredible patience with them and others during His earthly ministry.

Help us to love like that.

He loved us so much that He absorbed Your wrath on the cross — for OUR sin and for US!

We praise Jesus for dying a substitutionary death on the cross!

We praise YOU for mysteriously and miraculously raising Jesus from the dead!

We praise You for everlasting life that comes from following Jesus!

On this ACSI Day of Prayer, we would like nothing better than salvation for students who do not claim and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives.

Lord, may your Holy Spirit continue to work in the minds and hearts of unbelieving students.

I pray all of these things in the mighty, matchless, all-powerful name of Jesus the Christ!


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“COVID-19 and the Mental Health of our Students”

Unfortunately, none of us is surprised by the following account. We MUST all be concerned about the mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness of our students.

“Did Youth Suicide ‘Surge’ in Locked-Down Las Vegas?” 

An alarming spike in adolescent mental health emergencies accelerated the nation’s fifth-largest school district’s plan to restart in-person learning. As of December, 18 teens in the district had died by suicide over the years.  

“For teens and the people who love them, it’s obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic has been mentally exhausting for middle school and high school students. Feelings of isolation, panic, and worries over being “left behind” topped the list of anxieties teens felt when schools shifted to online learning models. Emergency calls related to mental health went up in 40 states during the pandemic, and experts say it makes “conceptual sense” that teens feel traumatized by months of lockdown restrictions and like they have nothing to look forward to. We can’t completely grasp how the pandemic has shaped the world our teens will inherit, but being aware of how it’s impacted the teens under our own roofs is critical. Not every teen who needs help will ask for it, and some may be experts at keeping up the facade of strength and normalcy. Keep looking for those opportunities for open conversation and opportunities to ask your teen if they really are doing okay.”  (“The Culture Translator,” by AXIS, 05 February 2021)

“Talking to Your Teenager About Questionably Movie Language and Sexuality”

Bridgerton is the new streaming show taking Netflix by storm. Produced by Shonda Rimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy), it’s a highly addictive romance set in Great Britain in the early 1800s. While teen and adult audiences have been raving about the twisty plotlines and chemistry between co-stars, this show is decidedly made for mature audiences, with on-screen nudity and same-sex relationships par for the course. For all the dignified language of the nineteenth century, there’s also a fair amount of profanity. Households concerned about sexual content will likely find that this show is simply too steamy for their family.” (The Culture Translator, by AXIS, 08 January 2021)

“Talking to Your Teenager About the Election Results”

Any parents or grandparents in my reading audience might be interested in a news item from AXIS’s “Premium Culture Translator” of Friday, November 6. 2020 (below).

“. . .It seems like every media outlet is in a rush to point out what most Americans already knew: As election results reveal, we are essentially now divided into two ideological countries. And as parents of teens, you might already feel like there’s a civil war of sorts in your own household; one that hinges on how your politically-engaged teen envisions the future and what you think the country should be. So how do we defuse potentially explosive political arguments in our family life?

“One thing to remember is that your teen probably isn’t showing up uninformed to their conversation with you. While you two might be consuming completely different news sources, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t mainlining information off of social media and YouTube. Don’t assume you’ve got more statistics on your side, or that the wisdom of your years gives you an edge in what you know about the news cycle.

“Second, and probably more important, don’t try to ‘win’ or beat your teen into submission when you’re talking about politics (or frankly, anything that you disagree on). It’s hard to hear someone we love expressing opinions that seem dangerous or misinformed, but reacting with anger and disappointment will just mean your teen stops sharing with you. If things are starting to get heated, you don’t have to contribute to the angst. Cooling off and saying a prayer for your teen’s heart beats browbeating and yelling, every time. Check out our recent blog on embracing healthy conflict with Gen Z for more.”  (Premium Culture Translator, by AXIS, 06 November 2020)

Pastoral Prayer, 01 November 2020

It is always a privilege to represent the Eastside Presbyterian Church family when praying the Pastoral Prayer during a morning worship service. If you would like to read the words God gave to me for prayer on November 1, 2020, please read on. . . .

Pastoral Prayer

By Bob Stouffer

Eastside  Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Forgive us our sins, Lord.

You are sovereign, Father. You are good, wise, gracious, and faithful. You are our rock, our shepherd, our peace.

We humbly offer ourselves as living sacrifices to You today.

Build in us —

Do in us — as You will today.

Relieve us of the bondage of self that we may better do Your will.

Help us bear witness to those we would help —

— Witnesses of Your power, Your love, and Your way of life.

May we do Your will today!

We pray for the upcoming election on Tuesday.

“We the People of the United States. . . .”

While we know this is the country of our citizenry, we also know the U.S. is not our home.

We should not wonder why there is so much discord and dissension in our country.

Of course, you know that sin is at our nature.

We have just repented of our sin.

May the repenting continue daily — moment-by-moment.

Our unique form of government was created “to establish Justice. . .[and to] insure domestic Tranquility. . . .”

We pray that we the people OF JESUS CHRIST will seek to establish justice and insure domestic tranquility in our spheres of influence.

Help us to make good decisions in elections, and to pray for those who are elected, no matter who they might be.

We agree with Pastor Derwin Grey of Rock Hill, South Carolina:

We are not the party of the elephant.

We are not the party of the donkey.

We are the party of the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world! May our allegiance be exclusively to Your Son!

We pray that Christians all over our nation will be peacekeepers and agents of reconciliation, as Jesus has commanded.

As the father of a police officer, I pray for her and all law enforcement.

We pray, too, for peace in our families. 

We pray for your intercession in other ways, Lord:

Please give Your peace and grace to Bobbie Hanacek and her family.

We praise you for the healing of Joe Sams’ co-worker, Russ.

Please superintend peace and unity among Coleen Sams’ father and her sisters.

Please comfort and give Your provision for Greg Cornwell’s wife Anne and their son Ben.

Our brother Ward Bursley has rightly called on us to pray for the several areas of the world which are experiencing new waves of COVID-19, some of which are worse than the first waves.

We pray for the success of those who are working on a vaccine.

We pray for wisdom on the part of national leaders as they deal with the pandemic. 

We praise You, Father, that Sally Carter’s COVID-19 and flu tests came back negative, and that she is feeling better.

We praise You for the safety of Mildred, Oskal, and Sean after the earthquake in Turkey

We pray for Barbara and Bob Smith’s daughter — for the complete success, low pain, and rapid recovery from Anita’s ulnar nerve and trigger thumb surgery.

We praise you for the skills of Dr. Tim Dew, who performed the surgery.

In situations like these, which call for Your intercession, we claim the truth of Exodus 14, verses 13 and 14 —

“[We] Fear not, [we] stand firm, and [we will] see the salvation of the LORD. . . .[You] will fight for [us] , and [we] have only to be silent.”

But help us never to be silent about the birth, sinless life, death, Resurrection, and reign of Jesus!

Help us to be filled with a heart FOR HIM! When occupied with Him — more that the work for Him — how can we not be active in His service?!

Your Son Jesus is exalted! He sits at Your right hand in heaven! One day, He WILL come again! Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He. . .is. . .Lord!

In His mighty and strong name we pray.


Children, you are now dismissed for your morning activities.

“How Long, O Lord?!”

On Sunday, October 25, 2020, Pastor Mark Auffarth took a 1-week break from his “Is Jesus Worthy?” Revelation sermon series by preaching about lamenting in Psalm 13. If you would like to read my summary of his EXTREMELY ENCOURAGING message, “How Long, O Lord?!” please read on. . . .

Psalm 13 (English Standard Version)

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

“How Long, O Lord?!”

By Dr. MarK Auffarth, Lead Pastor

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer (All mistakes are mine alone.)

We need to lament.

God answers our laments.

We cannot re-make the sinful elements of the world in which we live. But we can control our responses.

And we can help others see new and more Christ-centered perspectives of our world. We can help people understand the Kingdom of God.

We are tired.

We want to go back to the way things used to be — without pandemics, political turmoil, or dramatic social unrest.

This Psalm gives us 3 ways of dealing with our lives now:

We weep.

We recognize.

We remember.


We do not like this step. But we must weep. We must lament. We must open our hearts to God.

We must not always give prescriptions or Christian platitudes to each other.

We should not point out the irrational behavior of others.

We are not “bad Christians” if we do not have peace or abundance. We should not equate a lack of peace or abundance as God abandoning us.

God is not punishing us. Others may be punishing us. Each of us may be punishing ourselves in our own sin or negative self-chatter.

God loves us.

David was on the run from Saul. Had God abandoned him? David thought so, and he lamented that perception.

And weeping about bad circumstances is okay! Life is hard. We experience cancer, loneliness, this pandemic, struggles, bad news, politics, social injustice, and unrest, among other things.

It’s okay to weep!

We don’t have to agree with The Prosperity Gospel.

The devil, culture, and our own sin affects us.

Cry out to God!!

Put the weight of your problems ON HIM!!

We must not go into a corner and crawl into a ball.

These challenges are THE LORD’S problems.

That’s lamenting.


We recognize God as the only way out of our predicaments.

Who knows how long our struggles will last??!

Only God can solve our problems.

David’s need was to know that God had not forgotten him. God had not walked away from him.

He asked God to “light up” his eyes. He asked God to “bring his soul back to life.”

When I was in Minnesota this past summer, I consistently got alone with God in reading through The Healing Prayer. I spent valuable time in silence before God. God brought to mind the times in my childhood when I did not feel safe. Where was God when I was experiencing such unsafe feelikngs?! He was there the whole time! He never left me!

In Minnesota, God “lit up my life with hope and healing for my soul.” My circumstances had not changed! God revealed the He had NOT abandoned me at these times in my childhood. God had not walked away from me! He had been there all along!

Weep first. Mourning lasts for a night. Joy comes in the morning.

We will live in the midst of struggles. For how long?!


We can weep. He will light up our eyes.

Remember God’s grace upon grace upon grace upon grace!

God’s love is “hesed” love — devout, abundant, unwavering love!!!

God had given David the strength to kill bears, lions, and a giant!

David remembered how God had dealt bountifully with him!

God was the source of David’s salvation!

We sin. We deserve to be abandoned by God. BUT. . .HE. . .DOES. . .NOT. . .ABANDON. . . US!

God thinks we are the greatest. WE. . .ARE. . HIS! We belong to Him! His name is written on us! We will NEVER be abandoned by Him!! He will NEVER reject us!!

He sent Jesus to earth, and, on the cross, the Father abandoned His Son. Jesus went to hell on our behalf.

We are purchased by His blood!

That’s the Gospel!

And the Gospel changes everything!

We rightly sang “We Need Thee” to close the service.

1I need Thee every hour,
  Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
  Can peace afford.
 I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
  Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
    I come to Thee.
2I need Thee every hour,
  Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power
  When Thou art nigh.
3I need Thee every hour,
  In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
  Or life is vain.
4I need Thee every hour,
  Teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises
  In me fulfill.
5I need Thee every hour,
  Most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed,
  Thou blessed Son.

“Dozens of Coronavirus Infections Linked to Sweet 16 Party: What Is a ‘Superspreader’ Event?”

Parents, I so appreciate that our school parents are partnering effectively with us to manage COVID-19 safety on the homefront, as we attempt to do similarly at school. No matter our beliefs, opinions, or politics, we all want EVERYONE in our school community to be safe.

So the following article is quite interesting.

“Dozens of Coronavirus Infections Linked to Sweet 16 Party: What Is a ‘Superspreader’ Event?”

By Madeline Farber

Fox News

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Pastoral Prayer, 11 October 2020

I always love to pray and share my congregational prayers at Eastside Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina. If you are interested, check out our corporate prayer on Sunday, October 11, 2020:

Pastoral Prayer

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

October 11, 2020

Lord, thank You for accepting our heartfelt CONFESSIONS.

Father God, pour out Your forgiveness and love on us!

Holy Spirit of God, descend upon our hearts!

Wean us from our dependence upon things of this earth!

We too often worship creation, rather than You, Creator.

Stoop to us in our weakness, Lord, mighty as You are.

And make us love You as We ought to love!

We ask for ILLUMINATION. Take the dimness of our souls away.

Give us a more fervent love for Jesus!

Have you not bid us to love You with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength?!

Have you not bid us to love others?!

We pray for your INTERVENTION.

Be with Lisa Graham in her ongoing fight with cancer.

Give grace to Greg Cornwell in his battle against cancer.

Healing for Stacey Rostek in her fight against cancer.

Comfort and peace for Tim Blackwell in his grief over the loss of his wife.

Increasing strength and relief from fatigue for Melanie Clement’s sister, Judi, who is hospitalized with COVID-19.

Calm and peace for Melanie, Lord.

Favor on the Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching, and Service, an organization building leaders and Military Christian Fellowships worldwide — that all members of the militarywill hear the Gospel from someone in their own uniform.

Safety and protection for our healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, and other First Responders.

Peace and unity for our divided nation.

We PRAISE You for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!

We see the cross—there teach our hearts to cling!

Increase our holiness in our walk with You, Lord!

TEACH us to know that You are always near.

Teach us the struggles of the soul to bear!

Teach us to check our rising doubt and rebellious spirits!

Teach us patience when You answer our prayers with “no” and “not yet.”

As Pastor Mark encouraged us several weeks ago, help us to be still and silent before You in our prayers.

Move in Mark’s mind as he delivers exhortation from Your Word today!

Move in our hearts and minds today!

In the fullness of Your Spirit, fill our whole frames with holy passion!

In the name of Jesus, we pray.


(Adapted from “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart,” by George Croly, 1954, and Oscar Merlo, Biola University, 2019)

“Born Again!”

Southside Christian School of Simpsonville, South Carolina was blessed by the preaching of Pastor Matt Densky, Student Ministries Pastor of Fellowship Greenville, during the new evening Spiritual Life Conferences on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 and Thursday, October 8, 2020. If you are interested in my summary of Matt’s message on these two days, “Born Again!” please read on. . . .

“Born Again!”

By Matt Densky, Student Ministries Pastor, Fellowship Greenville

Southside Christian School

Spiritual Life Conference

Grades 9 and 10 on Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Grades 11 and 12 on Thursday, October 8, 2020

Summary Notes of Dr. Bob Stouffer, High School Principal

All mistakes are mine alone.

Text: John 3:1-21 (English Standard Version)

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Have you ever been lost? It’s the most terrible feeling in the world.

For me, it was when I was hiking in the woods with one of my friends. We were both experienced hikers. I like control. I was lost. I did not have control.

The weather was terrible. It was raining. A wet cold. Water had permeated every fiber of our gear. My buddy was exhausted. His legs started cramping. In Day 3, he was entering into the initial stages of hypothermia. He started thinking irrationally. We needed to get out of there!

We got on a road. We hiked to a deserted parking lot. The road was closed in winter. We were a day-and-a-half walk from people. I was feeling very alone.

We kept walking. No one came by. A storm hit us. We had to get into the woods! The trail washed out! We were lost in the woods in the midst of rain, lightning, and thunder. We were lost without hope.

My eyes scanned for anything familiar. My eyes found no reference point. We walked and prayed. I tried to keep my friend’s spirits up.

We found a logging road! We found a paved road! We turned right. My buddy was almost comatose. I was looking for any reference point I could find. I saw red through the trees! That meant tail lights! My eyes had found something familiar!

I saw a tent. I saw him. When I saw this guy, my heart said, “Don’t talk to him.” Something wasn’t right. But I mustered-up courage. I tried to talk to him. He didn’t look. He didn’t hear. I spoke louder. He told us he could give us a ride.

I opened the back door of his car to get in; pots and pans filled the car to the ceiling. I wanted to know what was in the trunk. The entire trunk was filled with Kraft’s mac and cheese boxes!

He got on the driver’s side. He drove over potholes, bouncing on the road like a NASCAR driver. I struck up a conversation. His name was Mike. He lived in the woods during the sixth months of winter. He took his eyes off the road. He said, “I’m usually good when I’m on my meds.”

He “opened the door.” I “walked through it.” He said he was schizophrenic. Macaroni Mike took us to our truck. I prayed for him and his mother, who was in the hospital. He floored it back into the woods. I have never seen him since. I hope to see him again.

We were lost without hope, and we trusted Macaroni Mike.

In John 3, the extremely religious Nicodemus came to Jesus. He was incredibly religious and “familiar” with God and the law. He’s heard it all.

He was curious about the Jesus.

We can be familiar with Jesus and His Word.

Nicodemus was embarrassed. He came to Jesus at night, because he didn’t want others to see him with Jesus.

Nicodemus had a lot to lose. He was a prominent leader. He had a lot of influence. Being seen with Jesus could discredit his rep.

Sound familiar? Sounds like the Southeastern United States. Aligning with Jesus could cost us our reputation.

Nicodemus did not ask a question. He did not ask if Jesus was the Messiah. But he wanted certainty about Jesus. If he was not certain about Jesus, he would not go all-in.

But Jesus gave an “answer.” Nicodemus needed to be “born again.” He discerned Nicodemus’ heart. Nicodemus believes he was “already in” as a result of his religious knowledge and credentials. Jesus said this life is not about knowledge.

Imagine the phone call between Nicodemus and his mother. “Mom, Jesus, said I needed to be born again. I know. I know. It hurt to be born when I was little.” Nicodemus took this birth to be physical.

I was the “receiver” of all three of my kids.

For the first delivery, my wife “turned” on me! She bit me! I told the doctor that I don’t do well with blood and guts. I would help, but I would not look at the kid and the blood. He was out! The doctor declared him to be a beautiful baby boy. I shrieked. He was a conehead.  “What are you?!” I asked! They asked me to cut the umbilical cord. It’s like cutting sailor’s rope. The doctor was laughing his head off. It was traumatizing.

Nicodemus was imagining that kind of physical birth.

We know the Christian term. “Born again.” Nicodemus did not think that was possible. The Savior was supposed to deliver the Jewish people!

Jesus clarified that birth by water and spirit would allow one to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus wasn’t talking about earthly re-birth. He was talking about spiritual re-birth.

Jesus said Nicodemus needed to be born of the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus could not reconcile this metaphor.

Jesus declared that He was from heaven. Jesus was very gracious to Nicodemus, referring to Moses in the Old Testament. In Numbers 21, the people of God were bitten by venomous snakes; if they were bit by a snake, they were dead. Moses went to God. God told Moses to make a bronze statue of a serpent and to set it on a pole. The Israelite looking at the serpent would allow him to live. Snakes were killing the people. They should look to a snake for delivery?! But this was their only hope for healing. They should orient to that serpent for life! They set their eyes in faith on that bronze serpent.

Jesus used this story to connect the dots for Nicodemus. He pointed ahead to the cross. Jesus would be set up on a wooden pillar. Jesus would heal the spiritually dead. Sin was killing Nicodemus. Nicodemus needed to look to Jesus in faith. Jesus would bring deliverance. That’s how a person is born-again.

Nicodemus didn’t quite get it yet. Later, we learn that Nicodemus becomes more receptive to Jesus. I believe he believed in Jesus as the healer.

We crave certainty. We believe in Jesus. We prayed a prayer. But we need more than inconsistent approaches to him. It’s not a one time look. It’s an every day thing. Jesus doesn’t just save you. He sustains you.

You can have a more rich relationship with Jesus than with cultural Christianity. Think of the serpent in the wilderness. If you knew that bronze statue would give you life, you would strive to get there and see that statue. Jesus says we need to tether our lives to Him. He is a steadfast anchor for our souls.

It’s not a one-time look at the cross. It’s an every day reference point. Jesus is at the center of everything you do, say, and Snapchat. Jesus is your reference point. He is our hope. We need Jesus every single day. The relationship is not just a one-time prayer.

So, brothers and sisters who are so familiar with the Gospel, you need this reminder. Tie yourself to Jesus as your hope. Find yourself at the cross every single day.

“Five Ideas to Overcome the Challenge of Virtual Learning This Fall”


Here is an excellent article which will allow you to maximize virtual learning at home:

“Five ideas to Overcome the Challenge of Virtual Learning This Fall”

By Dr. Tim Elmore

Growing Leaders

October 1, 2020