Southside Christian School “kicked off the Chapel season” with a Middle School Chapel and High School Chapel on Thursday, August 24, 2017. If you would like to read my summary of the major chapel messages, please read on. . .
Southside Christian School
Middle School Chapel
High School Chapel
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal
Colin Urbanick, Director of Discipleship/Campus Pastor
We gather in one setting, worshipping together in chapel.
We are going to be challenged and encouraged by the Word of God in chapel.
Today, we worship this great God whom we celebrated on Monday during the solar eclipse.
Let’s pray and then worship God. . . .
Lower School Music Instructor Vince Lovetro (on guitar) and Upper School Vocal Music Instructor Fred Barrett (on keyboard) led the chapel audience in worship through song for the Middle School students and staff members — Mr. Barrett and Upper School French Instructor Brett Henderson (on guitar) for the High School students and staff members.
Turn to your neighbor and discuss this question: “What was the highlight of your summer?” [Students did so.]
Now, turn to another person and discuss this question: “What are you looking forward to this year?” [Students did so in Middle School only.]
Big changes are on the horizon.
Last year, Middle School small groups included sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. This year, sixth graders will be in separate small groups; the seventh and eighth graders will be mixed into the other groups.
Last year, High School small groups were mandatory. This year, small groups will be optional in the High School. So you will be making a choice of committing to consistent small group involvement, or you will be choosing to attend chapel every week.
[All small groups will still be separated by gender.]
We need to continue to stir each other up. We need to encourage and challenge each other. We seek “belonging” in our small groups. And we want to be “sent-out” [into our respective communities as the body of Christ scattered].
Last year, the Spiritual Life Conference had a “conference feel.” This year, the SLC will have more of a “field day feel” with competitions, connecting, class bonding, speakers, and activities. The High School students will be off-campus at Brookwood Church for a full-day on Thursday and a half-day on Friday. [The seniors will then go off-site to camp in North Carolina on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and a partial day on Sunday.]
Let’s shift gears now. What did God lay on my heart for today’s chapel?
I got to thinking about the many times Jesus said, “Come follow me” in the Gospels.
Puppy dogs follow us everywhere we go, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
It’s not about following someone on Twitter or Instagram.
We are supposed to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus invited 12 men to follow Him closely. Their lives changed significantly as a result. The blind saw! The lame walked! The dead were brought to physical and spiritual life!
There are many of us in this school who think we are following Jesus. The way to tell if we are truly following Jesus is to look around. [Are we different from the godlessness in the culture?].
My wife Lauryn and I went to the United Kingdom one year. In Dover, England, my wife sought the “adventure” of staying in a hostel. We were in a room full of bunk beds. It wasn’t what I was expecting. We were around some pretty sketchy people, some of whom started drinking very early in the morning. A man asked if we wanted a tour of Dover. Lauryn said, “SURE!” I was hesitant. I told her, “We are going to die!” This guy drove like a madman! Had he been drinking? This was bad! I pointed at Lauryn and said, “You! You did this to me!!” We got to a parking lot. The man said, “Get out!” Get out for what?! We were in a shady, dark place. We were going to die! Of course, I’m standing here now, so we didn’t die. I’ve never let Lauryn live that down! Our following, in this case, pointed to negative implications. [It was death!]. Our lives should have reflected the following of Jesus. [He is life!]
Are you constantly in conflict? Are your relationships suffering? Are you discontented? Do you give evidence of little joy? It may be because you are not following Jesus and engaging in works of your own spirit and your own flesh. Just as we were following this shady man in Dover, we can go down dark paths spiritually.
I challenge you to ask yourself a question regularly: “Am I following Jesus?”
Let’s become more wholehearted followers of Jesus at Southside Christian!
Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal
Middle School Chapel
Text: John 4:3-42 (English Standard Version)
3 [Jesus] left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have herd for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
“Give the Living Water!”
Today, I want to talk briefly and pointedly about one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
In John 4, John recorded that Jesus and His disciples had left Judea.
They walked directly through Samaria on their journey.
Jewish people would typically walk around Samaria.
Jewish people considered Samaritans inferior “half-breeds.”
The disciples had gone in search of food.
Jesus was thirsty.
He stopped by a well.
He knew one particular woman would be at that well.
That woman had several “strikes” against her.
She was a Samaritan.
She was a woman. Women were second-class citizens in Jesus’ day.
She had a seedy past. Jesus knew she had had 5 husbands and was, at that time, living with a man.
She was an outcast who had to draw water in the heat of the day to avoid the embarrassment of being in the presence of other women drawing water at the well.
I wonder how we would treat a woman like this.
We should treat her like Jesus treated this Samaritan woman.
He didn’t look down on her or judge her.
He engaged her in a significant conversation.
He spoke to her about the “living water” He could give to her.
He talked to her about true worship being worship “in spirit and in truth.”
He spoke the truth in love about her history of poor relationships.
Most importantly, He declared Himself to be the Messiah — HER Messiah.
On the strength of Jesus’ interaction with this woman, she believed in Him as Messiah, leading several villagers to Jesus as Lord; and, later, when Jesus interacted directly with others in her town, MORE villagers claimed Him as Lord!
Such is all set-up for a series of important questions I would like to ask of you in order to make Jesus’ interaction with this Samaritan woman relevant to you:
What if a girl like this came to Southside Christian?
Would we welcome her warmly?
Would we engage her in conversation?
Would we befriend her?
Would we ask her to come sit with us at our lunch table?
Would we allow her to break into our friend group?
I know some of you would be like Jesus to a girl with such a personality.
I’ve got to be honest.
Sadly, some of you would be unwelcoming.
Okay, maybe you wouldn’t be overtly harsh to her.
But I would guess that too many of you would totally ignore her.
Some — young men and young women — would be mean to her.
A small percentage of you might bully her.
And, like far too many young women in Christian schools, a girl such as this would be wounded and might choose to leave our school.
I think this scenario is my greatest heartache as a CHRISTIAN school educator.
Young women and young men left our school this year because of unkind behavior.
That’s why I echo Mrs. Welkner’s call for ALL OF US to “be kind” as the one rule which will make this a different Upper School.
Jesus gave the Samaritan woman “living water.”
I encourage all of us to give “living water” to others around us — through our service and kindness to others. Through the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
My goal is that we lose NOT A SINGLE STUDENT in 2017-2018 because of this issue.
I will do my part.
I want to pray over the truth of God’s Word — for Southside Christian students, parents, and staff members to do our parts in making our school a school characterized by kindness. . . .
Father God, I pray. . .
Ephesians 4:32 (English Standard Version)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind. . . .
. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. . . .
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. . . .
2 Timothy 2:24
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil. . . .
In order to wholeheartedly follow Jesus, you need to understand who this Jesus is. You’ve got to believe in His teaching. You have to be submitted to Him as Lord and Savior of your life. You have to understand the influence of the Gospel on your life.
This year, in chapels, we will be helping you to better understand and share the Gospel. One author Pastor Colin told me about calls this “Gospel fluency.” [Fellowship Greenville has recently concentrated on this concept.]
I am told that, last night, a football player committed his life to Jesus as Lord and Savior of his life! You should applaud for that decision! [The students warmly applauded.] That should happen all of the time at our Christian school! But people can’t make a decision like that unless they understand the Gospel.
What is the Gospel?
God’s Creation was perfect. Then, sin entered the world. In a plan known by God before Creation, God sent the Incarnate Jesus from heaven to earth. Jesus lived a sinless life. Only He could die a substitutionary death on the cross. He absorbed the wrath of God for OUR sin. Substitute your own name for “our.” He died for our sins — and for the sins of all eternity. Jesus rose from the dead! He conquered death! And He ascended to heaven. Those of us who declare Him to be Lord and Savior of our lives will now experience everlasting life WITH HIM! Praise God! That’s the Gospel.
So let’s be about the witness of helping others understand the Gospel, so they will experience everlasting life as well!