Monthly Archives: November 2016

“Grace for Dysfunction”

On Sunday, November 20, 2016, Eastside Presbyterian Church Pastor Mark Auffarth made me see a new side of Joseph.  I now believe I have been giving Joseph too much spiritual slack in my 22 years as a follower of Christ.  If you would like to be enlightened about Joseph as well, please consider my summary of and editorializing about “Grace for Dysfunction,” a message preached from Genesis 37:1-11.

“Grace For Dysfunction”

By Pastor Mark Auffarth

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Text:  Genesis 37:1-11

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School

We see brokenness and dysfunction around us all of the time.

Some rise above the brokenness and dysfunction; others live within it.

In his best-selling book, Just Mercy, Brian Stephenson recounts the life of Jimmy Dill.  Dill was a developmentally challenged man waiting on death row in Alabama.  Stephenson, an attorney, sought to have his conviction overturned 30 days before Dill’s execution.  They fought hard, but they lost.  In his chapter, “Broken,” Stephenson reflected upon the brokenness of people, systems, cynicism, and prejudice.  Brokenness around us exposes our own brokenness.  We are all broken.

Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37:1-11 revealed the dysfunction and brokenness of a family. We know Joseph to be the man who saved Egypt and his family.  In this passage of Scripture, Joseph is different.

37 Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.

These are the generations of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.[a] But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11 And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 37:3 See Septuagint, Vulgate; or (with Syriac) a robe with long sleeves. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain; also verses 23, 32

Joseph was a tattletale at 17.  He brought a bad report about his brothers to his father.  Joseph was protected; his father favored him.  His brothers hated Joseph.  He lorded his special status over them.  [He certainly could have been more sensitive about sharing those dreams, given the states of mind of his brothers.]  When he shared his dreams with his brothers, they hated him even more.  He had [from their perspectives] added salt to the wound.  Joseph was a smart man, yet he rubbed their faces in a second dream.  Even his father believed Joseph had crossed a line.

Joseph was the center of the world in his own mind.  Isn’t every problem of the world a result of self-centeredness?  This is our world.

Jacob was responsible.  He had shown favoritism to Joseph.  You would think Jacob would not have shown favoritism.  His father, Isaac, had favored Esau, Jacob’s brother.  Jacob was a deceiver; he had connived to steal Isaac’s birthright for Esau from him.  He had learned this deception from their mother, Rebekah, who had helped Jacob to steal Isaac’s blessing from Esau.

We tend to repeat the past.  Jacob understood favoritism.  Jacob had multiple wives and massive dysfunction.  He only truly loved one wife, Rachel, who had initially struggled with barrenness.  When she had conceived a son, Joseph, Jacob was overjoyed.  The patriarchal line had gone from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, who was the younger son.  Perhaps Jacob had the same decision in mind for Joseph [as Rebekah had had for Jacob (over Esau)].

Let’s talk now about the brothers.  Jacob’s daughter Dinah was violated by Shechem [the son of a Hivite].  Joseph and his brothers were incensed.  They deceived all of the Hivite men of this town to be circumcised before giving Dinah to Shechem.  All of the Hivite men were in pain after their circumcisions.  Two of Jacob’s sons killed every man in the town.  And the brothers plundered the town.  Is this a dysfunctional family, full of brokenness and strife?!

Why would I tell you about this family?

God called this family His treasured possession.  He lavished love on them.  Why this family?!  Why would God favor this people?!  Why?!

The story of this family tells us 2 things about God and 1 thing about ourselves.

#1, God is a God of mercy.  He did not set this love on this family because of their love or functionality.  He is a merciful God who loves to show mercy to the most dysfunctional.

The second thing about God?  #2, There was a cost.  Someone has to pay for evil perpetuated.  Somebody needs to pay!  This family had all kinds of evil.  But let’s look at ourselves.  Have you ever been jealous, had a fit of rage, deceived someone, shown anger, or wanted revenge?  Is there any difference [between you and Jacob’s family]?!  God sees us.  He knows our hearts.  Somebody has to pay.  Salvation is free.  Jesus paid for our sin!  Grace, grace, grace — it is abundant grace.  Jesus received no grace, so we could receive that grace.  That’s what the story of Jacob’s family and Jesus’ death tells us about God.  What does it tell about us?

We are dysfunctional.  We try to manage “The Fall.”  Do we know that?!  We have been looking for love in all the wrong places.  We look to be made much of.  We can’t show others who we are.  We show no brokenness.  We put on masks.  We are always managing The Fall.  We want to be loved unconditionally.  But, all along, we have ignored the one who paid the price.  That’s bondage.  There is no freedom in that.

An Episcopalian priest tells us to take our freedom in Christ seriously.  God’s love draws us home.  Grace!  Grace is so powerful!  It’s the Gospel!

The Bible is full of stories of grace.  Let me end with one of those stories from this same family.

Judah, one of Jacob’s sons, had sons.  His first son was evil.  The second son was evil.  They were both put to death.  The third son was not of age [and he could not take on the marital responsibilities to the first son’s wife].  Judah was afraid God would put his third son to death.  Judah mistook his daughter-in-law, Tamar, for a prostitute along the side of a road.  He committed sexual immorality with her.  Later, he could not find her.   She was not a prostitute. Tamar was pregnant, though.  Judah was incensed, seeking to kill her.  But Tamar revealed Judah to be the father.

Does it get any more dysfunctional?  Why would I tell you that story?

Because the line of Judah was the line to which Jesus would be born!

From the line of illegitimacy, the King of glory was born!  Prostitutes and Gentiles were in that line!

We are all dysfunctional.  [One writer has said that] grace is the celebration of life relentlessly hounding the grace-less people of the world.  The prodigals dance in the end when they repent of their sin.

That’s the Gospel!

We must own up to our dysfunction and brokenness!

That’s the Gospel!

And the Gospel really does change everything!

“God’s Will, Not My Will”

Southside Christian School is blessed by outstanding senior student leadership.  A perfect illustration of that truth occurred during the Middle School and High School Chapels on Thursday, November 17, 2016.  Upper School Student Body Chaplain Jack Voigt, SCS ’17, offered an excellent message on following God’s will, “God’s Will, Not My Will.”  If you would like to read my summary of Jack’s message, please read on. . . .

 

“God’s Will, Not My Will”

By Jack Voigt, Student Body Chaplain

Southside Christian School

Thursday, November 17, 2016

 

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

 

If you have your Bibles, please turn to James 4.  We are going to look at a passage in a moment, and, as Pastor Colin just said, you need to bring your Bibles, so these truths become real to us.

 

Most of you don’t know me that well, but, if you knew me, you would know that I love the game of football.  It’s a huge part of my life.  I’ve been playing the game for years since the days of blacktop elementary recess football.  I watch all of the college games on Saturday and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.  The whole week, I’m engaged in football practice.  We won a State Championship last year, and, two days after that game, I started preparing for the next season — this season.  I didn’t have to.  No one told me to do so.  I just love football. Football is a huge part of our life.

 

I always wanted to be a college football player and football coach.  I was set on this.  You might as well have set this plan in stone.  But God started leading me someplace else.  My world was shaken.  What do we do when God turns our world upside-down?  How do we handle that, when God has a different will for our lives?

 

How many of you have the next 20 years of your life planned-out for yourselves?  We plan.  We think of colleges and majors and jobs and income levels and marriages and kids.  Planning is great, but it’s dangerous to leave God out of our plans.  We’ve got to stop and consult God on these things.

 

Maybe that’s not you.  Maybe you’ve given these decisions up to God.   That’s great.  What about next week?  What about tomorrow?  What about today?  Have you given today to God?  Are you giving God an open hand?  What about your conversations today?  Will you give those to God?  Your prayer should be for God’s will to be done in all things.

 

What does the Bible say about planning?  James had something to say about planning in Chapter 4, verses 13-17.

 

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.  (English Standard Version)

 

Your life is short.  Life is fleeting.  You don’t even know what today or tomorrow will bring.  We should say, “If the Lord wills, we will do this and that.”

 

We make plans for the future, and we don’t even think about God.  I’m guilty of that.

 

Charles Spurgeon talked about two “great certainties.”  (1)  God knows.  He knows everything; and (2) We don’t know.  We don’t know what is going to happen today or tomorrow.  I’m planning on playing a football game tomorrow, but that could get messed-up.

 

Because of this, doesn’t it make sense to follow God’s will over our own?  What does this look like this in your life?

 

Every single morning, I pray, before my feet hit the ground, that God would kill my pride.  I pray that God will give me humility and grace to see that my life is not about me.  And I pray for God’s will to be done in the things big and small.

 

Even in preparation for this chapel, I wanted my way, when talking about God’s way!  I stopped and prayed that His will would be done and that I would submit to God’s will.  This is God’s message, and I’m just giving it

 

All of our prayers should be wrapped-up into God’s will.  This is how Jesus prayed.  In the Lord’s Prayer, He prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”  Just before He was arrested, Jesus was praying, sweating blood, praying that His Father’s will would be done.  That’s the ultimate example of following God’s will over our own.  Our comfort must not get in the way.  If Jesus had pursued comfort, he would have avoided the cross.

 

Pray, “God, I want Your will more than my comfort. . . .Bring me your will.”  We should be somewhat “indifferent” to outcomes in our life.  Our obedience should not and cannot be determined by our comfort.  That test — the big game — every challenge in your life that you’re sweating about — God’s not losing sleep over those things.

 

You may think that God is playing a game of “spiritual hide-and-seek” with you.  I can assure you that such is not the case.  My Pastor, Charlie Boyd, preached once that God is our heavenly Father, and He cares for us.  He does not hide His will from us.  God wants sons and daughters who are living their lives wholeheartedly for Him in a world of people who have rejected His will.  Why would God hide His will from people who are trying to find it?

 

God will give us the next step — the direction we should be heading, no matter our level of comfort.  That next step might be scary.  That’s when we have to step out in faith.  Isn’t that what faith is all about — trusting God with the unknown?  If we knew everything which was going to happen in our life, when would we ever trust God?  We need to lean into His will more.

 

I’ve been struggling with this truth for the past year. God has been using people in my life.  Coming into this school year, I still wanted to play college football.  That was my plan.  But I hadn’t consulted God in that thing.  I was following myself.  I was not a Christ-follower.  One day, at the end of the summer.  God “spoke” to me.  I wasn’t going to be a football coach.  God scrapped my plan.  He was in the driver’s seat now.

 

I didn’t know the future.  I wasn’t too happy, but I wasn’t worried.  I’ve still got a couple years to determine my college major and career.  At that point, after much prayer and people pouring into me, I realized that I needed to submit my will to God’s will.  I needed to come to God with open palms to give back my life to Him, pursuing His will.  For me, to do that was terrifying.  I was moving from the known to the unknown.  I didn’t know where I was going.

 

All I could do was to trust God and God’s plan.  I had to keep stepping out in faith.  In time, He did show me.  I sensed God calling me away from college football into ministry.  Ministry?!  That’s not Jack Voigt!  I’m the kid who wears a t-shirt every day.  God, did you have the wrong number?!  It’s not that I felt unqualified.  I just didn’t want to do that.  I had resolved to follow my plan.  At that point, I had to resolve to follow God’s will over my will.

 

After that, I felt God was calling me to Anderson University.  I said I would never go there.  They don’t have a football team.  Was God leading me away from my plan to play football?  I’m still praying about it.  I do believe God is calling me away from my plans to play football.  I had put in a lot of work to play football, sometimes working out three times a day in the summer.  But I can rest in assurance in God’s plan.

 

My obedience to follow God’s will should not be about my comfort.  It should be all about God.

 

This is where I’m at.  The story is not over yet.  I’m still in the middle of this.  It’s not always fun.  I’m in the unknown.  I don’t know the next steps.  But it’s where God has called me.  I can find peace in knowing that God will give me the next step.  I can place my hope in that.

 

If you only hear one thing in this entire chapel, hear this:  In everything, the little things and big things, we will find the greatest joy and fulfillment in abandoning our own desires and in following God’s will over our own will, no matter how scary the unknown.  We can find joy and fulfillment.

 

Pastor Colin Urbanick, Director of Discipleship/Campus Pastor:

 

After listening to Jack, where are you?

 

Are you asking God, “What do You want?”

 

Have you given God today?  Are you asking Him what He wants to happen in your life today?

“A Dad for the Ages”

Nothing prepared me for the death of my earthly father on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.  Any of us can engage in the intellectual exercise of anticipating that inevitable finality, but, until it happens, the head and heart are not fully ready.

So such is this new experience for me only 4 days later.

My Mom’s house seems empty without the presence of my Dad.

Yes, my wife Cheryl, brother Brian, sister-in-law Kit, Mom, and I are here.  We are not alone.  But we are certainly still “alone” without my father.

He “lived life large.”  He never called attention to himself for the sake of that attention, but no one could avoid his magnanimous personality.

I suppose that grieving the death of a family member is less painful when there are so many positive memories.  But those positive memories also create an ache in the heart for the knowledge that no more new memories will be created.

My Dad made us laugh.  His sense of humor was constructive.  His “teasing” of others was so edifying.

He was sharp intellectually to the end, and I am most thankful for that reality, especially after watching my beloved paternal grandmother lose her mental faculties in the last year of her 89 years.

Dad was the personification of Philippians 2:3 — “. . .in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  (English Standard Version)  During a walk around my hometown after my Dad’s death, I remarked to Cheryl that I sometimes have to catch myself when I was making quips like my Dad.  Am I using my sense of humor to draw attention to myself, or am I engaging humor for the building up of others?  With my Dad, it was ALWAYS the latter.

During a gathering of our small family and several good friends of Dad for breakfast at a favorite restaurant after his death, one of Dad’s long-time friends grabbed my hand to shake it, and he could not let go for well over a minute, until he gathered his emotions.  He is already missing my father for his friendship, and that void will be difficult to fill.

Of course, I engaged social media to let people know about my Dad’s death, and the outpouring response to my posts only further illustrates my Dad’s influence in people’s lives.

He was an educator.  Teachers and principals have the “power” to influence so many people for good (or bad).  Even if not everyone did not respond positively to my Dad’s leadership or personality, he was “confident in who he was, comfortable in his own skin.”

He didn’t change who he was to be political.  He was a man of “integrity.”  The root of that word pertains to a person’s ability and willingness to be who he is in every sphere of life.  My Dad was who he was no matter where a person interacted with him.  So no one had to guess which Willie Stouffer we were “getting” at any given moment.

Somebody told me I need to write a book about my Dad.  That’s not a bad idea, actually, because his personality and leadership style are worth replicating.  Perhaps I’ll pen The World of Willie someday in the future.

I never saw a selfish bone in my Dad’s body.  He was a “giver.”  He gave to others.  He thought not of himself.  He loved freely.  He laughed freely.

He was an amazing husband to my mom for over 59 years.  What a heartache it was to watch my Mom say goodbye to him and to kiss him one last time in the funeral home.  I don’t really want to imagine having to say goodbye to Cheryl in that way.

Dad was an incredible father.  When other men complain about their passive or absent Dads, I have always been so pleased that my Dad was so very present in my life and contributed mightily to the man I am still becoming.  My brother and I have very different personalities, but my parents loved each of us equally and according to our real (rather than felt) needs.

There will be no visitation for my Dad.  There will be no memorial service.  There will be no burial ceremony.  I respect my Mom’s wishes, in that regard, but, without those typical opportunities, people who knew and loved my Dad have not had the opportunity to process their grief by sharing their stories and being able to laugh and cry about those memorable moments.  Perhaps that’s why I am writing this post.

Other than Jesus Christ, no man who has walked this earth can claim to be perfect.  I’m not trying to put my Dad up on some pedestal as perfect.  But I must say that his authentic self is all I could have asked for in a Dad.

According to the terms of his burial, a marker will indicate my Dad’s name and three words which characterize him.  How do we capture the life of such a great man in only 3 words?

We thought about that.  We reflected upon my Dad’s personality.  We reflected upon my grandmother’s personality, since she was so much like my father.  To my Dad and grandmother, no one was a stranger.

So we determined the 3 words could be “Friend to All.”  At least for now, those are the 3 words.  That could change day-by-day, since Willie Stouffer was so much more than any of those words.

God created a unique man in my father.  We all agree he was “one-of-a-kind.”  And isn’t that what God does?  We are all created uniquely in the image of our Creator.   We carry traits of God.  And each of us has infinite value in God’s eyes.  Each of us has a purpose, ordained by God, which only we can fulfill through the actions and relationships of our lives.

My Dad fulfilled his purpose in life.  He was a faithful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, community leader, and friend.

And the world is so much better.

 

“A Prayer After the National Elections”

A Prayer After the National Elections

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dear God,
the election is finally over.
We have discerned and voted [for]. . . candidates.
We have made our choice and prayed for them.
But after casting our votes, we place our trust in You.
We are not in control of the results. . . .
Our country, as a nation, has. . . made a decision.
Let us trust the decisions of the majority, whatever [are] the result[s]. . . .

Today, we pray that all candidates will seek the good of the nation,
and not. . . the good of themselves – for them to let go if they lost,
and to give their full trust and support to the winners of this election.

We pray for all of us, too, the voters, to set aside our differences and biases, as well as. . .[any] resentment. . .over. . . the way[s] we voted. Let mutual respect and resignation to the WILL OF GOD be our guiding values now. . . .[Let us realize that it is] time to MOVE ON and REBUILD our country toward unity and progress.

We pray for the LOSING CANDIDATES and supporters. . . .[that they would] be humble enough to let go of their frustrations and be humble enough to accept the will of God. They gave a good fight. . . .But we pray that they humbly abide to the will of God. . . as manifested by the result[s] of the elections.

. . .And for ALL OF US, we earnestly pray for support for all our newly-elected leaders. . .respect [for] the decision of the majority. . . .That God may bless them with humility, wisdom, and dedication to serve our country. . . .

O, Lord, You are the source of good and wise Leaders.
Let them have FEAR OF THE LORD in their hearts.
Let them have the WISDOM OF SOLOMON in their minds.
Let them have the STRENGTH OF KING DAVID in their hands.
Let them have the LOVE OF JESUS in their whole being.

We want better leaders now.
We are tired of poverty, war, and chaos.
We want peace. . . [positive action], and unity in our nation.
Bless our new leaders with your Holy Spirit.

. . .We may not understand Your ways, [Lord].
[You work] in mysterious ways.

[It is] time to let go and give our full support [and prayers]
to all the winners of this election.
May God bless them all.

May God bless our NATION!

Amen.

 

[Edited by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina]

“The Power of Something Better”

We experienced a wonderful service at Eastside Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday, November 6, 2016, centering on prayer for the persecuted church in the world and culminating in a message from a missionary to China.  If you would like to read my summary of that message, “The Power of Something Better,” please read on. . .

“The Power of Something Better”

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Text:  Hebrews 10:32-39

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Summary by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina

We have prayed for the persecuted church today.

How do members of the persecuted church live like this?!

How can Christians embrace those who hate them?

We have a better possession:  Jesus Christ!

Why do we not live with joy in light of this great possession?!

A battle is raging for your heart.  That battle is raging RIGHT NOW.

Advertisements are calling you to perfection through purchase of products.  So much information is coming at you every day.

The battle is raging for the attention of your heart and pocket book.

If we’re not careful, we will experience what Paul Tripp calls “Eternity Amnesia.”  We are to keep one eye on now and one eye on eternity.

Look at Chapter 11 of Hebrews for a few moments.  Chapter 11 is focused on case studies of those whose faith guided them.  Moses was just one case study.  As detailed in Hebrews 11:23-27, Moses had a choice.  Faith will always involve a directional choice.  Moses refused to be defined by his position; he was, after all, son of Pharaoh’s daughter!  But he refused that identity.  He chose to be defined by God with the people of God.  What was the result?  Reproach.  Mistreatment.  Why?  He was looking for the greater reward.  He looked AWAY FROM and LOOKED TOWARD.  Moses looked away from a comfortable identity.  He looked to God and to God alone.

The trajectory of faith is not multi-directional.  The trajectory of faith is uni-directional.  Advertisements call you in multiple directions.  God calls you in one direction — toward Jesus Christ!  If you’re not careful, even Jesus can become an “add-on” to your identity.

As I close, my question is this:  “What are the essential treasures and pleasures defined by culture that your heart has a propensity to move toward?”

God is calling us today to look beyond the fleeting.

Hebrews 10:37-38:

37 For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

Jesus calls all of His followers to the life defined by Him.

Take a step AWAY FROM the culture’s definition for us TOWARD Jesus’ definition.

Things around you don’t encourage much hope — for instance, the upcoming Presidential election.  Nothing here on earth is intended to last forever.  Your house, your children, your wife, your marriage — these things do not define you.

We are all so easily distracted by “the now.”  We must, however, be caught up in the blessed hope of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  We think too much in the here-and-now.  God is calling you to the eternal.  He is calling you to confess that there was only one man who perfectly set His mind on things above.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (English Standard Version)

Through Jesus, we receive God’s love, forgiveness, and righteousness.

The reward IS Jesus!

Randy Alcorn encourages us to live “on the line, not on the dot.”  On earth, we live on the dot.  In heaven, we will live on the line forever.

Chapel Messages, 03 November 2016

The young men and young women split into separate groups for both of the Middle School and High School chapels at Southside Christian School on Thursday, November 3, 2016. If you would like my summaries of two of those chapels, please read on. . .

Pastor Colin Urbanick, Director of Discipleship/Campus Pastor

Middle School Chapel

Southside Christian School

Young Men Only

Thursday, November 3, 2016

 Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

We’re doing something a little different today.

We’re not actually meeting in our small groups today.  That’ll be next week.

This is “just between guys.”  You have nothing to be nervous about.  I think you’ll get a good heart check and gut check this morning.  Maybe this will be a good point of affirmation for the good decisions you are making and your spiritual state.

Guys, we’re going to sing a couple songs now.   As young men, we’re probably not as emotional as the girls, but I’d like to see you show good hearts of worship.  Worship is about you focusing your heart and mind on the characteristics of God.  If you’re not audibly singing, sing within your own heart.  Allow the truths of God to resonate in your own mind and heart.

[Elementary Music Teacher Vincent Lovetro led the students in singing praise songs.]

 

[Mr. Lovetro prayed through the difference between “shame” and “conviction.”] 

 Pastor Colin:

Chapels should never take the place of your youth group or your church.  You need to be among fellow believers.  I don’t take the place of your youth pastor.  I needed to make sure that was clear before we moved forward.

We don’t do these split chapel often, and you might think this is talk just for guys.  I would feel comfortable offering this same message to young men and young women.

Today is a heart check.

If pilots followed the same trajectory throughout their flights as they pursue at the start of their flights, they would eventually be way off-course.  Small adjustments make huge differences.

Are there parts of your life slightly off — parts of your life to correct?

Hebrews 12:14 incicates, 

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  (English Standard Version)

 

Because of the work Jesus has done in our own lives, there should be something different about us.  It’s holiness.  We should strive to live at peace with everyone.  

I’ve noticed a problem at this school.  There’s a serious problem with our guys.  The decisions you make in Middle School will shape who you become in High School.  If we don’t correct an off-course trajectory now, you’ll end up hundreds of miles off course.

Here’s the problem.

Guys are abusing authority and power.

God has given young men a mantle of leadership, whether you like it or not.   You are a leader in your circle of friends, in your family, in this school.  

We have an option of abusing that power and authority for bad purpoes or using that authority and power for good.

The way you treat girls in this school sets the tone here in this school.  You may think that girls bring you value.  You may play with their hearts.  That’s abusing the power in your life.  The actions you live-out here can be carried-out in the other areas of your life.

You can either speak and breathe life into people, or we can destroy people’s lives.

This problem isn’t a problem with everyone in the student body, but it’s a big enough issue that we felt we needed to address it.

Do a Google search of families with absent fathers.  Some of you may be experiencing this issue.  It may be affecting your lives.  Social and behavioral problems, depression, cutting, suicide, incarceration, and dropping out of school are indicators of absent Dads among people who do not follow Christ.  

Each of us has authority in our spheres of influence to shape and influence others — either for good or bad.

Jesus talked about this issue all of the time.  The Sermon on the Mount is a very familiar and famous passage of Jesus’ teaching.

“Blessed are the meek,” He said.   Have you heard of this word?  Most people think of meekness as a passive quiet.  Meekness actually describes people who have power and authority but who show restraint.  

Guys, each of us has power and authority over people, especially the girls with whom we interact every day.  Will you use restraint?  Or will you “toy with” girls”?  Are you caring only about yourself?  Will you show restraint now and when you get into high school?

David showed restraint — meekness — when he was being pursued by Saul.  Instead of killing Saul, he demonstrated meekness.

David also didn’t show restraint when he committed adultery with another man’s wife and then had that man murdered.  

Girls are watching you.   They’re looking to see how you treat them.   You can breathe life into them or “destroy” them.

I want you to live above reproach.  Paul discipled Timothy, giving him this advice:  Live above reproach.

Make conscious choices so people can’t blame you for ungodly decisions.  Live in such a way that is consistent with Jesus’ example.  You are an example of a life worth following?

Is the life you are living worth following?

Are your younger brother or sister following in your footsteps?

Are you living above reproach?

If you don’t identify as a Christian — if you don’t believe in God — if you don’t follow God — this is a safe place for you to get to know Jesus.  What about you?  What about your power and authority?  What better way than to live for others and to live above reproach.  

Again, we must constantly examine our hearts.  If our hearts are just a few degrees off in Middle School, you could get hundreds of miles off-course in High School.

Your choices today will be multiplied in the future.

No one here would say today that they will one day cheat on their spouses.  Nobody wants that to happen.  But “small” decisions which abuse our authority now may lead you to make disastrous decisions in the future.  

Dads end up being absent.  They made decisions in Middle School and High School which led to those painful situations.

It all starts here.  It’s not all-or-nothing.  You can change at any time.

Please close your eyes and think about these two questions

Are there areas or ways that I have treated others that would be shameful or embarrassing if out in public?  If the answer is yes, you’ll need a heart check and adjustment to the course of your life.

If someone heard that were accused of something wrong, would people say, “There’s no way he would every do something that?”

“Live Like a Disciple”

By Vivian Welkner, Dean of Students

Southside Christian School

High School Chapel

Young Women Only

Thursday, November 2, 2016

 Mrs. Welkner:

Thank you for being here and coming down so quickly.

 Let’s pray:

Lord, thank you for another day you’ve blessed us with.  Thank you for the opportunity to gather as young women.  I cherish this time with these girls.  We commit all of this to you.

I want to start with a true story.  Several years ago, my girls and I were shopping for dresses.  We found what we we’re looking for, and Lindsey was looking at shoes.  I set all of my stuff down.  I walked over three or four feet to look at the shoes.  I realized that my purse was gone. 

Instant panic hit me.  I knew I had had that purse.  Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight.  My daughter came back with my purse.  Someone had turned the purse into the clerk.  I looked in the purse to make sure everything was where it should be.  My wallet was gone. 

I asked the clerk to see if she could recognize who turned the purse in.  She thought she’d be able to recognize the woman.  We looked around in the store.  She saw the woman with a man.  I said, loudly, “Ma’am, ma’am, could I speak with you?!” 

She walked quickly away from me.  I started running to and through the door.  The two people were running through the parking lot.  My one daughter ran with me.  The woman leaned over and put something under the passenger seat. 

I asked to speak with her.  I told her I was missing my wallet.  She said I was falsely accusing her.  I asked her what she had placed under her seat.  I told her I needed the wallet to pay for the dress for which we had been shopping for 2 hours. 

We all went back in the store.  The police came.  They could not search the car unless I pressed charges.  I just wanted to buy the dress!  I talked to her.  I told her I simply wanted my wallet and didn’t want to press charges. 

As I was talking to her, her eyes seemed empty.  It seemed as though she was “on” something.  Her mind was so polluted that she could not understand what I was saying to her.  She was so blinded by addiction and pride that she could not see the gift and freedom I was offering her.  All she needed to do was “come clean.”  She would not do so.  The police searched her car.  They found crack cocaine and alcohol in her car.  

It reminded me so much of myself and a passage from Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:1-3, 12-17

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. . . .

Hebrews 12:12-17 ESV – Therefore lift your drooping hands and – Bible Gateway

An amphitheater is filled with faith-filled and faithful people.  They’re in the stadium.  You’re running.  They’re watching you.  They’re praying for you.  They’re encouraging you to run the race of faith.  Jesus is at the end of the race.  

Our eyes are supposed to be completely focused on him.   He is the champion who perfects, or matures, our faith.  

I thought about this lady and how sad I was for her, that she could not see what I was giving to her.

I thought of myself.  I get weary when I take my eyes off Jesus.  We get distracted by so many other things.

I want you to think of two things this morning.

How secure are you in your salvation?  If you would die today, or the Lord would come today, are you 100% sure you would spend eternity in heaven?  The answer to that question is the foundation of your faith.

If you are sure of your salvation, what are you doing with Jesus?  Are you pursuing Him wholeheartedly?  Or are you distracted and not fixing your eyes on Him?  If not, what is distracting you?

Caroline Philips is going to share her testimony of faith and security in Jesus.

Caroline:

I’d like to share what the Lord has been teaching me.  I grew up in a Christian home.  I attended several Christian schools.  At a certain point, I realized I was living the faith of my parents and not living my own faith.  I had no desire for my faith to grow.  The Christian life is to be completely in love with God.  I had to ask myself what parts of my life I was not surrendering to God.  

Would heaven be as enticing if God weren’t there?  What if it were just God in heaven?  

I was not in love with God.  I needed to be in love with God alone.  I needed to be satisfied with giving everything else up for him.  

I tried for student council.  I tried for the Summit scholarship.  I was “rejected.”  I wondered why I wasn’t “popular” enough.  I was placing so much emphasis on these things in my life.  God took these things away, so I would see that He was all I needed, and He was all I needed to treasure.

C.S. Lewis once said that our desires are too weak for God.  I had placed my emphasis on friends and popularity.  

God kept showing me that things other than God do not satisfy.  Only God truly satisfies.  I surrendered my life to Christ.

I prayed that my sister would continue to be surrendered for Christ when she went to college.  I prayed that same prayer for myself.  Without telling my parents, I prayed that God would increase my faith in Him.  We don’t have to wait for college.  Why waste this life now?!  Live your life fully today. 

At the end of the day, I ask what I have done for the Lord today.  I was placed in this school — at this moment — for such a time as this — to have an impact on someone’s life in ministry.  Don’t give up.  Don’t lose heart.  Fight the good fight.  Make your relationship right with God.  Who knows what will happen in your life?  But I do know I have God walking by my side, and I want to know Him more and more every day.  

In Psychology class, we watched a video about a man who experienced complete hair loss.  He was highly disabled.  He has poor eyesight.  But this 17-year-old had more joy than I have in my life.  I was convicted.  I am filled with an everlasting joy; why don’t I show that joy to others?!  You can’t expect fruit of the Christian life without spending time with God, in His Word, and seeking His joy.

Thank you.

Amanda Corts: 

I’m a musical person.  I’d like to start with lyrics from a song from Phil Wickham.  

The wind is blowing.  He can’t keep his flame lit.  

What happens when the first dark cloud comes?  

I ran away from God when that happened to me.  I ran to people, to friends, and to the social life.  That became a downfall.  

One day, I realized that I was worshipping the creation of the world, rather than the Creator of the world.  

That hit me.  I got it.  

I often acted like a believer.  I had a facade.  At home, I would take that facade off.  

In 2014, I tore up my knee — not saving a child from burning building or scoring a winning a goal — but on a trampoline.

I looked at my journal at that time.  My thoughts were “terrible.”

Because of my knee injury, I had to sit out and watch others do the things I wanted to do.  

I had surgery and 9 months of physical therapy, but there was no change.

I had another surgery and went back to physical therapy, the toughest test I’ve ever faced, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

It’s more difficult to see God in the storm.  

Are you where you need to be with God right now in preparation for what comes next?

My grandmother was very ill.  On her birthday, I wrote in my journal about planning for her funeral.  She died 10 days later.

Weird things are going to come at you.

You have the best day of your life.

The next day, you’ll experience the worst day of your life.

A Friend knew exactly what I was going through.  This Friend wept over a friend’s death, just as I wept for my grandmother’s death.

Think of Psalm 56:8 —

God will not forget me.

With God, comes awesome promises.

Looking back, I can see God’s presence in my life.

We should never compare ourselves to another girl, but please compare yourself to another girl, your former self.

Are you rejecting God?

Are you failing to turn to God at your darkest moments?

Think about another entry of my journal.  Hard things came.  I gave up on Him.  But I came back to Him.

Eventually, I was able to thank Jesus for taking me through the challenges with my knee.  

Make sure you have a hand to hold now — not any hand — not one which will slip — a hand which will always be there for you.  

The Lord will hold your hand.  He will not forsake you.  Such is a testament of the God’s faithfulness.  He’s there.  He’s there.  He’s watching everything you do.  There is joy in the presence of the Lord.

The Father cannot leave you.  You are a child of God.  Leaving you is not consistent with His character.  That’s not who He is.  He’s that great.  You can never get too close.  Keep going.  Keep seeking a closer relationship wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

God still loved me and pursued me even when I did not love Him as I should have loved Him.  I am so glad that he did.  

If you’re struggling, please come up to me and talk to me, and I will pray with you.

In 2014, I wrote that I missed spending time with Jesus.  I realized that I needed to talk to Jesus.  He is always there.  He is always listening.  He’s ready to “talk.”  He’s there.  I watch others with little ripples of trials, and I always felt like my trials were like tidal waves.  But he shaped me and molded me through these experiences.

Caroline and I were struggling to put coherent ideas together, but this morning, I read an idea from Oswald Chambers, and I thanked for giving me this truth.

I’ve got to let stuff go.  I’ve got to break the hard sinful shell and bring myself into his presence.  

That was perfect.  Thanks, God.

Mrs. Welkner is going to come up, and we’re going to have a time of prayer.

Mrs. Welkner:

I’d like you to reflect for a minute about what has been shared.  It’s been incredible.  I have been blessed.

Some of our mentors are coming forward.  If you have burdens, please come forward and pray together.

Feel no shame.  We are all broken.

If you’re not sure about your salvation, come talk to me today.

I’m going to play this song that has ministered so powerfully to me.

Feel free to come forward for prayer.  

“I Surrender”

By All Sons & Daughters
https://oss.maxcdn.com/html5shiv/3.7.2/html5shiv.min.js
https://oss.maxcdn.com/respond/1.4.2/respond.min.js

The riches of this world will fade
The treasures of our God remain
Here I empty myself to owe this world
Nothing and find everything in You
[x2]

I surrender, I surrender
I surrender all to You

Take my life, a sacrifice
In You alone I’m satisfied
Here I empty myself to owe this world
Nothing and find everything in You
Everything in You

I surrender, I surrender
I surrender all to You
[x2]

Not my will, but Yours be done
Not my strength, but Yours alone
Nothing else, but You oh Lord
I find everything in You
[x2]

I surrender, I surrender
I surrender all to You
[x3]

[Several girls came forward for prayer.  Staff members and students embraced.  Tears were shed.]