“Social Media Dangers Exposed”!

As we are preparing for a special assembly at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in the Fine Arts Center of Southside Christian School in Simpsonville, South Carolina, EVERY SINGLE PARENT WHOSE CHILD USES SOCIAL MEDIA MUST WATCH THIS NINE-MINUTE VIDEO!

 

“How Involved Should Parents Be in Their Child’s Education?”

Here, below, is excellent counsel from Dr. Tim Elmore:

“How Involved Should Parents Be in Their Child’s Education?”

by Dr. Tim Elmore

Growing Leaders

February 25, 2020

https://growingleaders.com/blog/how-involved-should-parents-be-in-their-childs-education/?mc_cid=3751cfd3fb&mc_eid=78a22f796e

“The Marriage of Your Dreams”

“The Marriage of Your Dreams” Marriage Seminar

Paul David Tripp

Church of the Apostle

Atlanta, Georgia

Friday-Saturday, February 21-22, 2020

Summary Notes of Bob Stouffer (All errors are mine alone.)

Session 1

“Disappointed Dreamers”

“Marriage is a beautiful thing that only reaches what God designed it to be through the methodology of a painful process.”

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Your weakness preaches the Gospel.

Confess the struggle, which has been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been married for 49 years.

God is in the many moments of our lives. That is love of stunning magnificence. We don’t live in monumental moments. You live your life in minor moments. This is where the character of marriage is forged.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ enters into the little moments of your marriage.

What’s happening in the little moments of your marriage?

Everyone in this room has been disappointed in our marriages. None of us have gotten our dreams.

We are disappointed dreamers.

But we should be grateful for the journeys of our marriages.

Why is marriage so difficult?

We need to own our disappointments — reach out for the help only God can give.

Dating is a step above used car sales. We’re “selling each other” when we are dating. This today is the man or woman you married. The man or woman you dated was a fake! Couples get married with unrealistic expectations.

We mistake attraction for love. We love what we think our spouse will give to us. Attraction is motivated by self-love. Godly love is motivated by other-centered love.

The Bible is a grand redemptive narrative, with God’s theological notes. You can’t just run to the marriage passages to understand marriage. You’ve got to read the entire Bible.

We assign too much power to romance. No romance is powerful enough to drive the junk that you dragged into your marriage. True romance is the result of a good marriage; true romance is not the cause of a good marriage.

Your marriage lives in three worlds:

(1) In the world of Genesis 2; everything is gorgeous, full of intimacy, oneness; marriage is a beautiful gift from God; your problem isn’t marriage;

(2) in the world of Genesis 3; fear, shame, acrimony, brokenness, the darkness of sin; living for self and selfishness; sin is fundamentally me-istic; YOU brought the biggest struggles into your marriages; your deepest and most profound problem is YOU; we want your way; the chaos of marriage is the selfishness of sin; me, me, me, me, me, me, me; it’s a wonder any marriage makes it; and

(3) in the world of 2 Peter 1:3+; his divine power has granted us all power in all things; wow, wow, wow; God exercised His power in incalculable grace to us; He’s ALREADY given us everything we need for life and godliness, a God-honoring life on earth, from the already to the not-yet; God knows exactly who you are and what you are facing, and he has given you everything you need for life and for marriage.

You can heal the wounds of your marriage with the hope of this passage from 2 Peter. God says, “I know you. I know what you’re dealing with. I know your disappointments. I know the cries of your heart. I know. I know. And I have placed everything in my storehouse of grace everything you need.

Marriage is a beautiful thing. The selfishness of sin has made it a difficult thing. The cross is our hope.

Three mindsets should shape our marriages:

(1) A harvest mindset — I plant seeds that are growing into something. Is my marriage dominated by the dark seeds of Genesis 3 or the hope of 2 Peter 1? We plant seeds, and we should not be surprised by the harvest, good or bad. Everyone is a gardener. Every marriage is a garden;

(2) An investment mindset — Where your treasure is, there will your heart be. What’s important to you? Is being right more important than relationship? Values capture your heart. What do you really want from your marriage? What about marriage brings you joy? Are they the values of Genesis 3 or 2 Peter 1?

(3) A grace mindset. This is not being permissive. Grace never calls wrong right. If wrong were right, there would be no need for grace. God is at work in our marriage. He is active. Grace means we want to be part of what God is doing in our marriage. How can we be a part of that grace? You’ve got to want to be a part of grace, including and especially in the midst of failure.

Your marriage is shaped by habits. A good marriage is driven by Gospel habits. A bad marriage is a result of bad habits. What are the habits of your marriage? Do your habits live in Genesis 3 or 2 Peter 1?

You have no independent capability of being a good spouse. Your inclinations lean in the wrong direction. You are not alone. Jesus is for you. Jesus is with me. Jesus is with your marriage. We can do better because of Jesus.

Discussion Questions from the Conference Booklet:

When you were single, engaged, or a newlywed, what dreams did you have for your marriage? Were any of your early dreams unrealistic? Selfish? In what ways may you still be holding on to an impractical and self-centered vision for your relationship?

How have you been surprised or disappointed by marriage? Listing reasons how your spouse has fallen short is probably not helpful! Instead, consider difficulties that you faced together that were not initially planned for the marriage of your dreams.

How can you view these surprises and disappointments (in biblical language, “trials” and “tests”) through the lens of 1 Peter 1:6-7 and James 1:2-4? What practical steps can you take to shift your dream for marriage from that of personal happiness to God’s design for personal holiness?

How has God been faithful to you through all these trials and tests? Think specifically of how the Bible can prepare you for every future surprise and disappointment you will face.

What is one difficulty that you and your spouse are currently experiencing? How can you become united and stronger together with the help of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and the body of Christ?

Session 2

“The Spouse of Your Dreams”

“Trust = Being so convinced of the integrity, strength, character, and faithfulness of another that you are willing to place yourself in his/her care.”

“Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

What if I told you you could experience a marriage beyond your wildest dreams?

How can you get unstuck where you are stuck?

Look at Galatians Chapter 5, verse 16 and following.

Walk by the Spirit. And you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Crucify the flesh. It’s possible you can no longer be controlled by sinful, selfish instincts.

God forgave you. He unzipped you and got inside of you with His Spirit. You are not left to live by your own power. A Warrior Spirit lives inside of you! He has the power to defeat what you, individually, do not have the power to defeat. Wow, wow, wow.

There are two ways of living — one dominated by the selfishness of sin and the other which allows you to walk by the Spirit.

Idolatry destroys marriages. Desires for even good things becomes bad things when they become ruling things.

Enmity. Dislike. Strife. We get in the way of each other. We fight bad fights. Fits of anger.

There’s the battle. The Spirit is in me, but my flesh battles the Spirit.

Would you like your marriage to grow out of the hurt feelings? Stay with me.

The fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — wouldn’t you want to live in a marriage dominated by the fruit?! This is the marriage of everyone’s dreams.

These are not first moral goals to achieve. You have no independent ability to achieve these fruit. These are gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus died for everything you’re facing right-here right-now, that you will be delivered from your sin. Jesus died so you would be transformed. Don’t settle for nastiness. Don’t settle for anything less than what Jesus promises.

Too many of you are trying to keep out of trouble and avoid the land mines.

Jesus shed His precious blood for you. You can do better in your marriage.

This list of fruit is what your Savior is working on in you — to transform you.

The purpose of marriage is not comfort. We are not yet sanctified. We must see our marriages from that perspective. God put you in an intense relationship, using the struggles of the relationship to transform you. That’s marriage.

You must make your purpose the same as God’s purpose for marriage. Be the man and woman God made you to be.

You must want to love your spouse like Jesus loved the church. Look for ways to love your spouse. Move in the same direction as God. Value what God values. Spend time with each other. Help your spouse feel loved.

Gratitude is the DNA of joy. Look for ways to be grateful for your marriage, an encouragement to your spouse. Why would you take your spouse for granted?

How about peace? How about choosing to quit making war and making peace? How about valuing what the Spirit values? The Spirit defeats the selfishness of sin.

Patience. We are not in control. You have never gotten angry because you had to wait for you!

Here is the marriage of your dreams in the fruit of the Spirit. God did not leave you to your mess, so you could do better.

There’s more. When the fruit of the Spirit are evident, trust grows. You cannot have a marriage without trust.

You edit yourself all of the time, because you don’t trust the person with whom you are living.

You can’t have a sexual relationship in a marriage without trust. We either use each other and walk away or serve the other. Don’t turn your spouse into an object for pleasure. Men, she can be little more than a tool for masturbation. Sex is only for your sexual pleasure. Self-sacrificing love results in trust. You can’t deal with conflict without trust. The fruit are the soil from which trust comes.

“A confident action based on security” is trust. We can be confident in each other’s care.

But we too often measure our words and wonder when the next fight will occur. When you can trust a person, you are confident, and you can speak confidently. We should be able to expect this fruit from each other.

Is your marriage a picture of confidence or doubt?

We have a Savior we can trust. He will not turn His back on us. He loves us. And, so, we can believe His promises. The Spirit lives inside of me, and I can go in a better direction of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Would your spouse say you are good for your word and faithful to your promises?

Do you carry wrongs around, or do you trust one another to confront and confess?

Do you share your thoughts, desires, hopes, dreams, and concerns with your spouse? Do you bear your soul? Do you reveal your heart? Or are you afraid and protective?

Is it hard for you to talk about your physical sexual relationship, desires, hurts, and problems?

Are there things in your marriage that, for a long time, you have you been afraid to bring up? Are there “closed closets”?

Here’s where we want to end. You don’t need to be discouraged. God knew your struggles. He provided grace for you to get better. He got inside of you. The Holy Spirit provides you the power by which you can defeat sin.

Admit your need. Watch what God can do. You don’t have to EVER be afraid of God’s response. Jesus’ greatest pain on the cross was not physical. Jesus’ greatest pain was relational: “My God, why have you forsaken me?!”

Don’t settle for the mess. Jesus shed His blood for you. And God the Spirit lives inside of you.

Discussion Questions from the Conference Booklet:

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the level of trust in your marriage currently? Why did you choose that number?

At what point during your marriage did you experience the highest level of trust? (It could be today, by the grace of God.) Why was, or is, trust at an all-time high? What factors contributed to increased confidence in the other?

On your own, review Part A from the Trust Questionnaire. Identify two areas where you are failing to build trust. How can you take practical steps to change this with your words and behavior?

Ask your spouse to share an additional area from Part A of the Trust Questionnaire where they believe you need to grow in trustworthiness. Ask the Lord for open eyes to see personal weakness and a soft heart to confess.

Review Part B of the Trust Questionnaire together. Use these questions to start an honest and gracious conversation where you develop practical solutions to strengthen trust in your relationship.

TRUST QUESTIONNAIRE: Part A

Do you do what you promise, in the time that you have promised?

Are you attentive to what your spouse views as important?

How often do you make excuses for failing to do what you promised, compared to how quickly you confess to breaking your promise?

Do you listen well to your spouse and act on what you have heard?

Do you follow through with mutually agreed-upon plans?

Do you work with your spouse on planning and scheduling priorities, or do you demand that s/he do it your way?

Do you openly share your thoughts, desires, hopes, dreams, and concerns wit your spouse? Is it easier for you to share with someone else?

Do you share things about your spouse with other people — things you have not first communicated with him/her?

Is there evidence that you have withdrawn from your spouse in protective distance, instead of fighting for your marriage?

Do you harbor bitterness, or do you approach your spouse when s/he has wronged you?

Do you confront your spouse with love, patience, and grace; or do you retaliate when you have been hurt?

Are there ways in which you have been selfish in your sexual relationship?

TRUST QUESTIONNAIRE: Part B

Do you ever wonder what your spouse is doing when s/he’s not with you?

Are you conscious of editing your words and withholding your feelings because you can’t trust your spouse to deal with them properly?

Is your sexual relationships mutually satisfying?

Do you ever fear that you are being manipulated or taken advantage of in any way?

Do you look forward to sharing time together, and, when you have these times, are they peaceful and enjoyable?

Are there any problems between you that remain unsolved because you don’t have the bond of trust necessary to work together on a solution?

Do you ever wonder if you made a mistake in marrying the person who is your spouse?

Would you say that your spouse is your best friend in life, or has this kind of companionship evaporated?

Session 3

“What Dreams Are Made Of”

“Confession is the doorway to growth and change in your relationship. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in marriage grows.”

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We all face disappointment in our marriages — because of one powerful, dark thing — selfishness, sin — Our wants, our needs, our feelings.

The primary purpose for marriage is holiness. Marriage is intended by God for sanctification.

We must value what God values. By so doing, trust grows. Trust is the soil of growth.

God lives inside of us, so we have the help we need.

There are marriages in this room that are stuck. You are frustrated that you are stuck. You have the same patterns and arguments and dysfunctions.

I want to propose why you are unstuck and how you become unstuck.

Most couples get stuck as a result of a law-based marriage. The cycle is EXPECTATION-FAILURE-PUNISHMENT.

The silent treatment is bloodless murder. I will kill you until you get your act together. It’s assuming the role of a god to another.

You do need law in your marriage. God’s law is a grace to us. The law reveals your heart and exposes sin.

BUT the law has no power whatsoever to change your heart. The law can’t sanctify you or your marriage.

Some of you are law-based parents — rules and punishments. The law can’t change your children’s hearts. [Josh McDowell: Rules without relationships result in rebellion.]

The law is more about the heart than behavior.

All relationship problems are heart problems.

The heart is the cause and core of your operating system.

In the cycle of expectation-failure-punishment, you get stuck in the relationship.

If you could silence your spouse into holiness, you wouldn’t need a Savior.

Threats and punishment do not sanctify.

Violating God’s plan for rescue and transformation does not work.

A lawless marriage would be God-less, but you cannot ask the law to do what it was not intended to do. You do not attempt to drive a boat down a highway; that’s not what boats are intended to do. You don’t drive a brand-new car into a lake; that’s not what cars are intended to do.

Some of you believe that the silent treatment or raising your voice to another is redemptive. You would not find it helpful for someone to give you the silent treat or to yell at you.

You need to nurture a grace-based marriage, God’s tool of radical rescue and transformation. Grace is able to do what the law was not intended to do.

But grace doesn’t mean you let go of what is right and let the person do whatever s/he wants.

Grace has you moving toward the person who has hurt or wronged you.

You have to be committed to two supernatural traits:

THE HUMILITY OF APPROACHABILITY: The power of sin has been broken. The presence of sin, though, is still a reality. We pray for humility to receive and to extend grace. If you are unapproachable, you are not humble. Would your spouse say you are approachable when tough things needs to be said?

THE COURAGE OF LOVING HONESTY: If you are going to be a tool of grace in the hands of your Redeemer, you have to be a truth-speaker. You cannot avoid confrontation. Avoiding confrontation is loving yourself too much — in attempts to avoid negative outcomes for yourself. Honesty used as a weapon is not sanctifying. Truth not spoken in love ceases to be love, because it is bent and twisted by other emotions.

Turn to Hebrews 3:12-13. This is our model passage for grace-based marriage.

First, you get a warning. Then, a call.

THE WARNING: You give yourself to sin. Your conscience bothers you. You either confess your sin or erect self-atoning arguments for what you have done. We want to feel better about what we should not feel good about. We turn away from God and others. Our hearts harden. And I am insensitive to and resistant to necessary change. Sin doesn’t bother you anymore. You do things in marriage you would have never done in courtship.

THE CALL: We have the Bible in our hands and the Holy Spirit within us. How can a hard heart be a part of a Christian marriage?! Sin deceives. Sin blinds. We cannot see our own sin. We are spiritually blind as long as sin lives inside of us. You must forever give up the thought that no one knows you better than you know yourself. Don’t say, “You don’t know me.” The more accurate statement is “I don’t know me.” You can’t see sin in yourself. And we cannot be unapproachable in our marriages when our spouses point out the sin we cannot see. We need help. We need to be rescued from ourselves. God put a rescuer in intimate communion with us — The Holy Spirit. You are called to be an instrument of “seeing” in your spouse.

It’s frustrating to your spouse to be rebuffed during confrontation. You’re unapproachable with that mindset when the other is attempting to be a tool of God’s grace.

You can’t grieve what you don’t see.

You can’t confess what you haven’t grieved.

You can’t repent of what you haven’t confessed.

No wonder you are stuck. SIGHT-GRIEF-CONFESSION-REPENTANCE. THAT is a cycle of a good marriage! Form a legacy of defeating the old dysfunction of your marriage. Make room for that cycle in your marriage, or you will never have a good, biblical marriage. We serve a faithful God.

You have not married a perfect spouse. Your spouse needs help. God’s plan is to make His invisible grace visible by sending spouses of grace with grace to spouses who need grace. Establish the cycle of grace.

There are four practical steps:

CONSIDERATION: What does God (not you) want my spouse to see that they are not seeing, and how can I help them see it? Surrender your wants and desires to God’s wants and desires.

CONFESSION: Where is God calling my spouse to own responsibility for words and behavior, without excuse or shifting of blame, and how can I help my spouse to see that. We should want God’s best for our spouses.

COMMITMENT: Where is God calling my spouse in our marriage to a brand-new way of living? How can I help my spouse see that?

CHANGE: A change hasn’t taken place until change has taken place. What will these new commitments look like in our every-day lives in marriage?

Don’t drive away from this weekend conference and say to your spouse, “That was an important weekend FOR YOU.”

God welcomes us to leave behind marriage in a cycle of law and move into a marriage in a cycle of grace. By so doing, we will see beautiful flowers of holiness. Get into a godly cycle.

The Word of God takes you in places you could never imagine going without it.

Discussion Questions from the Conference Booklet:

What are some external factors that have added strain to your marriage recently? Have you pointed the finger of blame on these only, failing to identify your heart and its response to difficulty?

Do you struggle to accept criticism, not only in marriage but in all of life? What are some of the recurring excuses you make? What might this pattern reveal about your heart?

What truths from Scripture allow you to embrace a humble posture of confession? How does the Gospel help you fight against self-righteousness, regret, paralyzing guilt, and shame?

When your spouse is humble enough to admit wrong, how do you greet his/her confession? Do you tend to squash it with self-righteous judgment and retaliation? How can you be kind and tender hearted, forgiving him/her as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32)?

Are you demanding or expecting that your spouse changes overnight? How have you proven that spiritual maturity is a process and not an event?

Session 4

“All You Need Is (Cruciform) Love”

“Cruciform love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that person being loved is deserving.”

“In this love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10-11)

Establish and maintain trust, or you will never have a cycle of grace.

Instead of having a law-based marriage, commit to grace-based marriage.

And, finally, we must commit to love.

What is love?

What do we know about love?

I want to take you on a love journey. We need to orient our minds to a biblical view of love.

Look at Galatians 5:13 and following.

You were called to be free. Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature. Do not indulge your selfishness. If you do, you will do harm to your marriage. Do not harm the necessary trust in your marriage.

Good marriages include good people who say no to themselves — to the sin and selfishness which is tugging at our hearts. Say no to you. We are more skilled saying no to others than to ourselves. We indulge ourselves too easily.

God gave you His Spirit. Now, you have power to say no to thoughts, emotions, and desires. Are you saying no to you?

When in the last week should you have said no to yourselves, and what was the result?

Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law is summarized in this single command, Paul said in this passage. How does love of neighbor summarize God’s law?

Only when God is in His rightful place of my heart that I can keep that command with others, especially with my spouse, who is my neighbor.

We must love God as we should to be able to love our spouses the way we should.

Fix marriages vertically. Fixing does not first occur horizontally.

Get down on your knees and confess that you have not loved God enough to the point of loving your spouse as God intends.

The solution to indulging yourself is not first loving your spouse, but loving your God more. Only, only, only ever when God is in the right place of your life can we love our spouses biblically.

Whatever rules your heart will characterize your marriage.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

God is not satisfied with your biblical literacy, theology, offering in the plate, episodic moments of ministry, or small group participation. He. . .wants. . .your. . .heart.

What has your heart has you. What controls your heart will lead to the outcomes of your life.

So what does it mean to serve one another in love?

Go to 1 John 4:7 and following to see the cruciform definition of love — “In the shape of the cross” of Jesus Christ.

I will dictate a Gospel-centered, cross-shaped definition of love:

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is “deserving.”

Love is willing. Love loves to love. You should not be forced into doing loving things. Love your spouse as you should. Be willing. Choose moments which show your willingness to serve and comfort.

Love is willing self-sacrifice. Love requires sacrifice. It’s impossible to love without critical sacrifice. Can you give up control and being right? Does your love have limits? Would you rather have your way? Lay down your selfishness for the greater beauty and glory of God’s love. Your spouse will be presupposed to turn to you and to trust you more when you show sacrificial love.

The essence of love is generosity. “God so loved the world that HE GAVE.” Love gives! Love doesn’t keep score. God loved people who were rebellious and stole His glory by giving His Son! God could have kept score, but He didn’t. He didn’t shut down. He moved toward us by GIVING His Son. Would your spouse say you are generous with your love? We should all be spouses married to spouses who are ridiculously generous. We grow and change because of the generosity of others. Jesus left the incalculable glories of heaven. He knew what He was getting into. His suffering began on that feeding trough. He was despised and rejected. He died for you. He was generous. Are you generous?

Love is others-centered. It’s not “me, me, me, me, me, me.” What does your spouse need? Immediately think of your spouse. Love is for the good of another.

Love does not demand reciprocation. Love is not a bargain; love is a sacrifice. Love is not a “deal.” Love is a “gift.” You don’t love based on the way your spouse is loving you. If God had done that to us, we would have had no other hope. You love! You love! You love! You love! No matter what. We do not punish through the withholding of love, because that is self-centered, not others-centered. Never stop loving. That’s a good marriage.

Love because we receive God’s welcome of being a tool in the loving of your spouse. Your spouse does not “deserve” your love. But do not withhold your love. Withholding love will result in a whole lot of time without love in the marriage. Don’t operate from a mindset of “I refuse to love unless you earn it.” THAT is a law-based love.

None of us is capable of loving this way. This kind of cruciform love is beyond the reach of every husband and wife who has ever existed.

Hopelessness is the doorway to hope. You give up on your strength and wisdom and righteousness. And you will enter into real love. The move is from independence to dependence on God. Cry out to God: “I need help.”

Be willing to say, “The biggest problem in my marriage is me. I need to be met by God’s grace — to make His invisible grace visible to your spouse.”

Discussion Questions from the Conference Booklet:

What initially attracted you to your spouse? Is that attraction still alive today? What is the difference between initial attraction and biblical love?

Dissect the definition of cruciform love — willing / self-sacrifice / for the good of another / that does not require reciprocation / or that the person being loved is deserving — and apply each aspect to your relationship.

When was the last time you did something for your spouse that appeared loving but was done with a hard heart or out of obligation? How can you improve in unprompted willingness?

What is Christ calling you to sacrifice in your marriage today? Why is it such a struggle to give up? What does this struggle reveal about your priorities and idols?

Are you aware of the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of your spouse? Create a list of these needs. What steps do you need to take each day to serve and alleviate burdens?

When was the last time you served your spouse, but only in the hope that you would get something in return? How can this manipulation hurt your marriage?

When was the last time your spouse loved you even when you did not deserve love? How did this love strengthen your marriage relationship?

To Conclude:

Some of you are overwhelmed. You think you’ll never remember all of this and mess your the marriage.

Some of you are filled with regret. You remember bad moments

I leave you with a final gift. We will sing a hymn that reminds you you are not alone.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

What a friend we have in Jesus.

All our sins and griefs to bear.

And what a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer.

Oh, what peace we often forfeit.

Oh, what needless pain we bear.

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful,

Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness.

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Charles Crozat Converse / Joseph Scriven

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG Rights Management

 

Southside Christian High School Spiritual Life Conference, 20 February 2020

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night could prevent nearly all of the Spring 2020 Southside Christian High School Spiritual Life Conference at Fellowship Greenville Church in Greenville, South Carolina on Thursday, February 20, 2020.  We enjoyed worship through song, worship through the teaching of God’s Word, games, small group discussions, student testimonies, and a Chick-fil-A lunch!  If you are interested in my summary of the day’s activities, please read on. . . .

Spring 2020 High School Spiritual Life Conference

Southside Christian School

Fellowship Greenville Church

Greenville, South Carolina 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Summary Notes of Dr. Bob Stouffer, High School Principal (All errors are mine alone.)

Lead Worshippers: French Teacher Brett Henderson (vocals and guitar), Mathematics Teacher Brad Scott (percussion), Junior Rebecca Rinkliff (vocals), Senior Justin Harms (keyboard), Senior Lauren McCann (vocals), Fellowship Greenville Teaching Pastor (and former SCS student and Bible Teacher Jim Thompson (bass guitar), Vocal Music Teacher Fred Barrett (violin), and Senior Lucas Skidmore (guitar)

VIP Representatives and SLC Facilitator: Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor/Director of Discipleship

Gamemaster: Nick Theaux, Assistant Athletic Director

Small Groups: Throughout the Fellowship Greenville Campus

Speaker: Cam Hill, Eleos Ministries, Greenville

Testimonies:  Various SCS Students

Session 1 Message

I am really, really excited about being with you today

We are going to look at Ephesians 1-3 today.

The Bible is not a instructional manual. The Bible is a story about the good news that God has for us.

This is such good news it changes everything RIGHT NOW.

Most of us do not have a handle on what the good news is about.

Jesus is the King of an other-worldly Kingdom.

But the Kingdom is in the midst of us NOW.

What is the good news of the Kingdom?

When I was your age, I thought the Kingdom was about going to the Kingdom when I die, rather than going to hell.

I didn’t believe the Kingdom was about the here-and-now.

What is this Kingdom devotion NOW?

What does Kingdom community look like?

What does service look like in the Kingdom right now and here?

Home base is Ephesians 1:9-10.

We’re about to discover God’s plan for the fullness of time — right now and for all time. All things in heaven and on earth will one day be united in Christ. Formerly separated things will come together in an organized whole.

We break things and replace them. Or we super-glue things back together.

As things become more valuable to you, you do not so easily replace these items.

I used to think God treated creation like a pair of broken sunglasses, discarding the glasses and working on the new project. But Ephesians 1:10 indicates that God loves us and His creation. He will tediously put us back together into an organized whole.

We’re going to talk about that today.

In this session, we will talk about being re-devoted to God.

In Him, we have redemption — through Jesus’ spilled blood.

Why do you spend time with God? This is a crucial question.

We have heard that we are supposed to spend time with God. You have been around church, a Christian school, and “churchy” things for most of your lives.

I used to treat time alone with God like “karma.” In my mind, time with God would result in God’s blessings. We may think spending more time with God will result in God loving more and actually liking me.

We spend time with God because He is the source of our greatest joy. You can search for many activities, but you will not find greater joy than with God.

God has blessed us in Christ. With Jesus, we are re-united with God. He has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

What is an earthly blessing? Money, talent, health, fame

What is a spiritual blessing? Love, peace, hope, joy, satisfaction, contentment — These are spiritual blessings.

We have a tendency to make a distinction between earthly and spiritual blessings. God wants us to experience spiritual blessings in heaven AND on earth.

His will be done ON EARTH, as it is IN HEAVEN.

Spiritual blessings are found in God, and we are being given access to those blessings, even as they are being experienced in heaven.

People refer to experiences as “heavenly.” Some things on earth are as though they are from heaven.

True blessings are favorable for you, and there can be no distinction between earthly and heavenly experiences.

The world is constantly saying that blessings are found in sex, money, power, popularity.  That’s what blessings look like to so many people.

True blessings — everyone of those — come from God.

The reason people don’t experience the spiritual blessings is that there is a lie going around — being told everywhere — at SCS, in Greenville, in South Carolina, in every inch of the world.

The lie? God is holding back from you.

You see the good, and you think there is great in something else.

People believe in God. We believe Jesus was God. We believe He was crucified and was raised from the dead. God created us. God knows what’s best for us.

Do we want to follow Him? So many say no.

I think people who say no are verbalizing what others don’t have the guts to say.

Why don’t we want to follow Him?

We want to go to parties. Have sex. Smoke weed. And not feeling guilty. Christians are swimming in the culture, and their happiness is found in stuff rooted in the lie that God is holding out on us.

If we follow Jesus, we will miss out on so much, we think. Maybe that’s you. You may believe in God. You go to church and youth group. How can you not believe in God?  But the way you live your life is the same as saying you do not trust Him. You think He really doesn’t want you to be happy. That’s the lie the serpent told Eve. It’s a lie that has been perpetuated for centuries.  The good life is “out there.”

But Paul says we are given access to every spiritual blessing, as those blessings are being experienced in heaven — through our relationship and devotion TO GOD.

He chose us before the foundation of the world — as sons and daughters.

How do we get past this lie? Through God’s adoption.  We have needs which have not been met since our birth. We have not experienced the good life IN CHRIST. We need adoption. We need to receive the blessings through Christ.

God loves us. We need to be adopted. We receive that love through adoption. We can reject adoption or love. We have to receive love and adoption.

How do we receive the love of God offered to us?

Redemption. We are set free from the lie and slavery to sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ! Christ being crucified on our behalf is THE greatest example of love.

Some of you have been so wounded that it is hard for you to receive the love of God — that we might be adopted into His family. Jesus suffered the consequence of our sins. He loves us!

There are practices which will allow you to believe and receive the love of God.

Christianity is not just a cerebral practice. In your small groups, talk about the practices which will allow you to receive the love of God. We are to be hearers AND DO-ERS of the Word.

Student Testimonies

Ashlyn Becks: Devotion has impacted my life. It’s more than devotions or going to church. In sports, you practice with other players. You get closer to your coach and teammates. I seek to be more devoted to God. Days are better when my focus on God. God is going to be there for you. life is not going to be super-good all of the time. Go through a book in a Bible or devotional. See who God really is. Carve out that time. Put something in to get something out. Have an accountability partner. Pray a Psalm. Experience the struggles of those in the Bible. Start now.

Sophie Potts: I want to talk about satisfaction. To be fully satisfied comes only from the Lord. We find satisfaction in the wrong things — sex, relationships, reputation. We WILL be thirsty for something. We should thirst for Jesus, the living water.  One of my favorite authors is John Piper, who is renowned for saying, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied IN HIM.”

William DeVaney: I want to be brutally honest with you today. My life of devotions used to suck.  For most of my life, I thought devotion was for 80-year-old women. How I now see it is as prayer, reading, worshipping, journaling. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life. Grab time here and there. Devotion helps you stay true to God.

Pastor Colin: There will be sign-up sheets, if you are interested in engaging devotionally more fully with others and resources. I encourage you to respond. What would this look like with your peers? We want to see students take steps in life change.

Session 2 Message

The practices of your Christian life will feed your love for God and love for others.

We have been adopted into the family of God.

So what does that make everyone sitting by you? Brothers and sisters.

We are to love each other.

What if someone has not yet been adopted into the family? Who are those people?

They are you “neighbors,” and we are called to love our neighbors.

So we must be invested in the communities around us, including people who do not yet know God.

Look at Ephesians 2:11-22.

Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all of our hearts, strength, souls, and minds. And the second? To love others, as ourselves.

At this time, Gentiles and Jews were separated. This was like Black-White relationships in the times of the Jim Crow South.  Jews and Gentiles worshipped in different locations.

Jesus tore down the wall of hostility.

Paul preached to the Jews and Gentiles. He undid 1,700 years of precedence. Gentiles were now citizens of God’s Kingdom — by the authority of Jesus Christ.

Paul was not the first to preach this message of peace.  Jesus preached peace. In Mark 6 and Mark 8, Jesus preached this message. He fed 5,000 and 4,000 in these separate miracles. After the first miracle, 12 baskets full of food were left over. That number was significant. There were 12 tribes of Israel. With the second miracle, 7 baskets full of food were left over, possibly representing the 7 tribes of Canaan. Jesus had preached good news to those who were “near” and “far off” spiritually. All could be a part of the household of God. Christ had broken down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles.

What are the walls of hostility which divide students at Southside Christian?

Why do you drift into your cliques?

What establishes hierarchies among your peers?

Christ wants to tear those walls of hostility down. He is not for division.

We are good at building what Christ tore down and did not want built back up.

People looked at early Christians as a miraculous community.

If you were to come together at Southside Christian, no matter the distinctions, people would consider it miraculous.

Everyone is cutthroat in the 2020 election cycle. Will your political affiliation distinguish you more than your affiliation with Christianity? If so, a wall of hostility is up.

Let’s talk about race. We are the most divided people on Sunday mornings. All because of the melanin in our skin? What can you do about it? You can do a lot. You can do more than you imagine through your unity.

We are “one man.” We have one identity. We do not identify by race, politics, or socioeconomics. None of those things define us.

The cross communicates love. I am loved by God. I did nothing to deserve it. God did this for me. Some of you think you are worthless. You think you have no value. That is not true. None of us deserves God’s grace. Each of us has equal value.

I got my wife an engagement ring. I had saved for months. I valued my wife. I gave her that ring. I’d give my life for her.

The eternal God saw you as worth taking on human form and dying on a cross. He gave His life for every single one of you. The cross defines you. The affections of the Father are you. What else matters more than that?

The Temple was the intersecting location between heaven and earth for the presence of God in the same way that the Garden of Eden had been before sin. Behold the dwelling place of God!

Our communities should be a glimpse of heaven. No barriers. No hierarchies. Outdoing each other in showing honor. Slow to speak. Quick to listen. Slow to anger. No Jew or Gentile. No male or female. One.

We live in a whole different “economy” of relationships. We don’t have to gossip to put someone down, because each of us is equally valuable. All of us needed Jesus to die for us.

Our last topic is mission. What are we called to do. We’ve been called to expand the Kingdom — increase the family.

Such Paul said in Ephesians 3:1-13.

We invite others into the household of faith.

We preach the unsearchable riches of Christ — through word and deed.

We’ve got to preach the Gospel. It’s not enough to live the Gospel. We herald good news. We’ve got really good news. That’s the news Paul is talking about. He preached that Gentiles were welcome in the Kingdom of God.

In Jesus’ time, people were preaching about God, but few were living the life God had desired for His people.

Preach and embody the Gospel. Through the church, the manifest wisdom of God is made known. The reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles makes God known to God’s people — and to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. We proclaim Christ’s victory by how we love each other and how we eliminate the walls of hostility.

Jesus is Lord of the universe! He is healing every broken thing. The way we participate in mission is by enjoying our reunion with him and by enjoying reunion with each other through Kingdom community.

Our community should expand in the communities around us. He is inviting ALL of us — freshman or senior. Love the people around you — brothers, sisters, and neighbors.

Testimonies:

I regret that our efforts to determine the details of an early dismissal (due to weather conditions) prevented me from recording several student testimonies at the end of the day, because I am told all were excellent in their presentations.  

 

“Late Have I Loved You”

On Thursday, February 13, 2020, the Southside Christian High School students and staff experienced a tremendous time of worship through song and the teaching/preaching of God’s Word during chapel.  If you would like to read my summary of the chapel activities, including High School Bible Teacher Ethan Moore’s message, “Late Have I Loved You,” please read on. . . .

High School Chapel

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Summary Notes of Dr. Bob Stouffer, High School Principal (All errors are mine alone.)

Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor / Director of Discipleship promoted the Spring Spiritual Life Conference of Thursday, February 20, 2020 at Fellowship Greenville.  Cam Hill of Eleos Ministry of Nickletown is the speaker.  Permission slips and Chick-fil-A orders are available on RenWeb.  “Why do we do Spiritual Life Conferences?” Pastor Colin asked.  We want to empower, encourage, and equip students to do what Jesus calls us to do.  He said, “We are no longer children of wrath.  We are sons and daughters of God!”  

As a staff and student body we engaged in a time of worship through singing, following lead worshippers Brett Hutchinson, High School French Teacher (vocals and guitar); Lauren McCann, ’20 (vocals); Rebecca Rinkliff, ’21 (vocals); Justin Harms, ’20 (keyboard); and Lucas Skidmore, ’20 (guitar).

“Late Have I Loved You”

By Ethan Moore, High School Bible Teacher

When you use your spiritual gift, like our worship team, it is like walking down a sidewalk in New York City.  You stop and look up; everyone else stops and looks up.

I have been turning over an idea about the Kingdom of God [our chapel theme for the year].

I told Pastor Colin that, if he ever needed a chapel speaker, I was his man.  If you stay ready, you ain’t got to be ready.  I had a message prepared, but God took me in a different direction yesterday.

I want to tell you a story about a friend of mine.

His mother was a believer.

His father was not.

He was precocious with languages from a young age.

He turned 11 and enjoyed the friendship of many lifelong boyhood friends.  But they sinned.

He grew up.  At 17, he started thinking about and pursuing and hungering for sex.

He made up stories.

He read literature.

He converted to a particular philosophy.

He moved to a bigger city for university study.

He began a relationship with a girl who was a concubine.

He fathered a son with this girl.

This is not me.  Who is this friend of mine?

I will tell you soon.

He studied language and literature and rhetoric.

He started a school.  It was a bust.

Somehow, he took a job as a professor in a huge city.  He was hanging out with the smartest people in the world.

But professors eviscerated his guiding philosophy.

To be taken seriously, he felt he needed to get married.  He broke up with his common-law 15-year concubine girlfriend.  He was in lust with her.  He was heartbroken.  His search for a romantic relationship was destroyed.

He was, as the saying goes, lost but making good time.

He spent a lifetime looking for love as a fool’s game.

[SINGING!] He was “looking for love in all the wrong places. . . .”

He prayed.  An unbeliever, he prayed!  He prayed for chastity and continence.  But not yet!

He met a man older than he — a mentor — a man with a new philosophy.

This man was Augustine of Hippo, who made some of the most impactful statements of the Christian faith.

He heard a voice:  “Why are you listening to a voice which is not reliable?  You are relying on yourself.”

At that point, Augustine opened to Romans 13.  He turned to Jesus Christ!

“Late have I loved you,” Augustine wrote.  God was closer to him that he was to himself.

He tasted, hungered, and thirsted for Jesus.

His story is my story.

At 17, I started thinking about and pursuing and hungering for sex.

I made up stories.

I studied language and literature and rhetoric.

I converted to a particular philosophy — existentialism.

I moved to a bigger city for university study.

I met a man older than I — a mentor — a man with a new philosophy.

I turned to Jesus Christ!

All of our stories are the same — moving from death to life!

I learned how to love God.

Augustine is famous to us now.   [He is one of the early church “fathers.”]

The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.  The church is not perfect.  Churches are full of sinners.

You are not “too bad” to be a Christian.  Augustine was not “too bad” to be a Christian.

There is no particular “look” for a Christian.

This is Black History Month.  Augustine was a Black man from North Africa.

I’ve learned more from this man than from any sermon, reading, or podcast.

There is no room for prejudice, racism, or sin.

Private sin is not private.

There is grace for your sin.

Jesus entrusted His mission to His “little children.”  This church — a “group of idiots” — with all of our struggles — we are to be loving and forgiving and filled with grace.

Miraculous.

Author Philip Yancey once said, ““I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else.”

[Ethan said not another word, closed his Bible, walked to his seat, and sat down to the absolute silence of the audience.]

“Hooked on Technology: Understanding How Technology Has Changed How We Connect”

Parent Seminar

“Hooked on Technology: Understanding How Technology Has Changed How We Connect”

By Sarah McGuire and Leslie Hull-Kimball

Thursday, March 5, 2020

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Fine Arts Center

Southside Christian School

2211 Woodruff Road

Simpsonville, South Carolina  29681

ALL SOUTHSIDE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL PARENTS ARE WELCOME, particularly parents of upper level Elementary School, Middle School, and High School!

Community members interested in SCS — and in the presentation topics — are also invited.

Parents are also welcome to bring students as well, as long as parents understand that (1) there will be no child care and (2) sensitive information might not be appropriate for elementary students (or younger children).

A 60-minute presentation will be followed by a 10-minute biblical worldview application by Dr. Bob Stouffer, High School Principal and 20 minutes of Q&A.

Topics Presented:

  1. Video Gaming
  2. Social Media
  3. Cyberbullying
  4. Pornography
  5. The presenters will also make parents aware of apps which students are using on their devices.

The presenters are not anti-technology.  They simply want to educate parents on the negative impact of these topics.

The presentation will not be a lecture.  The format is educational in nature.

The presenters see their role as “being supportive of parents’ beliefs.”  They do not see their job to be educating other parents’ children.  They will “share with parents, and then parents will decide whether to share the presentation information with their children.”

Parents should not bring children to the presentation, if they believe their students will be tempted to access certain apps which are not known to them now.

PLEASE DO NOT MISS THIS VALUABLE SEMINAR!

LET’S PACK THE FINE ARTS CENTER ON THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2020!