Monthly Archives: August 2017

“Upper School Evening Open House Comments”

On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, a large percentage of the Southside Christian Upper School parents and grandparents gathered for the annual Upper School Evening Open House, during which time we gathered from 6:30-6:50 p.m. for a “pep rally” conducted by me, Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent, and Tommy Blackmon, Director of Advancement, followed by a “period-by-period” following of student schedules (5 minutes of “class,” with 5 minutes of passing time between).  The Club Fair, which promoted existing clubs and a LARGE variety of new clubs, was also open in the Mall for the entire evening.  If you would like to read the outline of my comments during the “pep rally,” please read on. . . .

Evening Open House

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Southside Christian School

Comments by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

[PowerPoint slides are bold-faced.]

We need to remind ourselves. . . .

What sets the Southside Christian Upper School apart.

Our uniqueness starts with. . .

JESUS!  

His name is declared every day and in every way at SCS!

GREAT teachers

HIGH standards

TREMENDOUS student accomplishments in courses and extracurricular activities

Advanced Placement (AP) Test Pass Rates

  • 2009 – 82%
  • 2010 – 81%
  • 2011 – 75%
  • 2012 – 86%
  • 2013 – 86%
  • 2014 – 83%
  • 2015 – 81%
  • 2016 – 91%
  • 2017 – 86%

ACT and SAT scores are consistently higher than area high schools.

ACT scores, for instance:

2012-2013       24.4  (State: 20.4)

2013-2014       24.2  (State: 20.4)

2014-2015       24.9  (State: 20.4)

2015-2016       24.3  (State: 18.5)

2016-2017       25.1  (State: 18.7)

EXCITING innovations and opportunities for students

  • JTerm classes, mission trips, internships, and international travel
  • International Homestay Program participants enrich our community.
  • Palm Beach Atlantic dual enrollment and AP classes allow many students to earn up to a year of college credit in high school.

Participation in extracurricular activities is extremely high.

  • 70% of Middle School and High School students participated in at least 1 sport.
  • Over 40% of Middle School and High School students participated in more than 1 sport.
  • An additional percentage of students participate in our fine arts programs (vocal, band, handbells, strings, drama, speech, art)

All of our athletic teams qualified for the post-season in 2016-2017.

Consider the accomplishments of the SCS Class of 2017

  • 85 graduates
  • 1 National Merit Semi-Finalist
  • 13 Cum Laude
  • 13 Magna Cum Laude
  • 29 Summa Cum Laude
  • 5 Summa Cum Laude with Distinction
  • 12 Hope Scholars
  • 47 Life Scholars
  • 14 Palmetto Fellow Scholars
  • 2,500 Community Service Hours
  • $4,300,000 Total Scholarship Dollars Earned

SCS High School. . .

Graduates are WELL-PREPARED for their post-secondary plans.

The school enjoys an. . .

EXTREMELY STRONG reputation in college and university admissions offices

95% (46 of 48 members) of the Class of 2017 who applied were accepted at Clemson, for instance

Alumni are LEADING in their communities, churches, and the marketplace.

We have BOLD visions for the future!

From the excellent to the exceptional

  • “Develop an even greater culture of spiritual excellence.”
  • “Increase student engagement with SCS communities (clubs, service, activities).” Please visit our Club Fair in the Mall to see how your student can build an even more impressive post-secondary education resume.
  • “Improve/develop genuine partnerships with parents.”
  • “Increase standardized test scores.”
  • Achieve “consistency of Middle School and High School staff in the enforcement of school policies.”

Last year’s Middle School parents spoke.  We listened.  We are going to attempt to better challenge our most able Middle School learners, starting with this year’s new Honors 7th Grade Algebra class placement for High School credit.

Please partner with us to help students resolve the vast majority of their conflicts and problems on their own.

Please continue to help us with the most important handbook rule of SCS:

Be kind.

Why are we set apart?

Our uniqueness starts AND ENDS with. . .

JESUS!

We boast not in ourselves, but in the Lord Jesus Christ!
If you would like to engage in ongoing consideration of my ideas and visions for Southside Christian, please feel free to visit my WordPress blogsite:

https://wordpress.com/posts/drbobinc.wordpress.com

Let’s pray. . .

On the the “show”!  Please don’t be late for your first period class!

“Where Is God?”

Eastside Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth was attending a conference on Sunday, August 27th, so “Substitute Preacher” J.R. Foster delivered a message from the text of Psalm 88.  If you would like to read my summary of this message, “Where Is God?” please read on. . .

“Where Is God?”

By J.R. Foster
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rev. J.R. Foster, a graduate of Clemson, currently serves as a Director of RUF.

Text: Psalm 88 (English Standard Version)

1 O Lord, God of my salvation,
    I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
    and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one set loose among the dead,
    like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
    for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,
    in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
    and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah
8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
    you have made me a horror[b] to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
    I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
    Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.[c]
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
    they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
    my companions have become darkness.[d]

Footnotes:
• Psalm 88:1 Probably musical or liturgical terms
• Psalm 88:8 Or an abomination
• Psalm 88:15 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
• Psalm 88:18 Or darkness has become my only companion

Quote of the Week:

“Gathered worship gives us a taste of heaven as we worship as one body, with one voice, side by side, with every tribe, tongue, and nation.” (Burk Parsons)

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer

Most of you have felt despair at sometime in your life.

The dictionary defines despair as “being overcome by a sense of defeat.”

Most of you have seen the posters with photographs and bold words about a concept and a motivational phrase. These are inspiring messages.

There are actually also “de-motivational” posters. One poster reads, “Despair: It’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.”

Despair affects life. We feel alone, separated from God. We may even ask the question, “Where is God?”

A relationship ended that you thought would never end — failed you — failure after you have only known success — persistently negative thoughts about self — continual sin — being judged by appearance — fear of being hurt — These things cause despair.

Today, we’re going to learn about despair from a Psalm. The Psalmist knows what despair feels like. He, too, wondered where God was.

Let’s look at Psalm 88. This is God’s Word, our rule for life.

This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. That is what I was thinking. It was just after 8:00 a.m., March 1st. My wife and I were blessed with the birth of our first child, a son. There had been complications. Immediately upon our son’s birth, he was whisked away from us. We never even had the opportunity to hold him. For 20 long minutes, we waited. We prayed. We hoped. The doctor introduced himself to us as the director of the neo-natal unit. He asked for the name of our son. Ethan was a very sick boy. The words were like a punch to my soul. It was very somber. Ethan had a life-threatening condition in his lungs. I thought, Lord, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I wrestled with God while Ethan was in Intensive Care. Things turned well for Ethan; he is just entering his senior year at Greenville High School. But I, at that time, wrestled in despair with God.

Psalm 23 and Psalm 88 taught me during this time with Ethan.

Psalm 88 is what scholars call a “lament song,” like a tune from the blues. Most lament songs turn toward hope. But Psalm 88 does not turn toward hope. One writer called Psalm 88 one of the gloomiest Psalms of the Scriptures. Another commentator calls it a dark Psalm. The last word of the song is darkness. Darkness had consumed the Psalmist, Heman the Ezrahite.

How do we make sense of this Psalm? How do we learn to despair?

There are three appeals.

THE APPEAL OF DEMISE
THE APPEAL OF DOUBT
THE APPEAL OF HOPE

THE FIRST APPEAL IS THE APPEAL OF DEMISE (verses 1-9).

The Psalmist cried out day and night to the Lord. The imagery is death. God’s wrath is present. Abandonment is a theme. This Psalmist is a man of constant sorrow. We don’t know the source of his despair, but we know he is a man who is hurting. His only hope was the God who saves.

You can see why this Psalm gave me freedom to wrestle with God in the midst of despair. The world breaks, hurts, and disappoints us. We get to a point of despair.

You’ve probably heard the name of James Montgomery Boice. He pointed out that we have a Psalm like Psalm 88, but it’s good that we have only one like this Psalm.

Depression can have its way with us. We hurt. At times of weakness, God wants us to come to Him. Our relationship is not based on how we are doing spiritually; instead, our relationship is based on the work of Jesus Christ.

Today, if you feel despair, in your struggles, and you’re questioning where God is, Psalm 88 calls you to take your despair to God. It is not through our merit — but rather through the merit of Jesus — that we come before God.

THE SECOND APPEAL OF THIS PSALM IS THE APPEAL OF DOUBT (verses 10-12).

The Psalmist asked rhetorical questions of his own despair. I used these questions as the models of my own prayers during the challenges of Ethan’s early life. We learn to despair by appealing to the mercy and love of God. Without God, there is no resolution to our despair. We appeal to his promises.

THE THIRD APPEAL SHOULD BE THE APPEAL OF HOPE (verses 13-18).

Morning is a time of hope. Joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30). The Psalmist cried out in hope to the Lord. But God was casting His soul away and hiding his face from the Psalmist, he believed. It’s as though the final nail had been hammered into the coffin. But the Psalmist offered not a ray of hope at the end of the Psalm. Darkness was his companion. Demise moved to doubt and ended in despair. There was no resolution. He reached the end as a seemingly hollow and insane man.

What do we make of this Psalm and our own sense of despair?

I want to make three applications:

PSALM 88 FREES US TO STRUGGLE WITH GOD.

It’s okay not to have it “all together.” We need not to have fully resolved our problems or conflicts. We can still be angry. We can come to the Lord boldly with our struggles. There are purposes behind our heartaches.

God is not committed to our comfort. He is not committed to making our lives smooth. He is committed to sanctifying us and manifesting His glory. His grace is sufficient for us. He wants to sanctify us through trials.

A second application:

WE MUST PRAY IN THE MIDST OF OUR DESPAIR.

Children of God go back to God time and time again to understand His presence. We walk in faith. Those who walk by sight, and not by faith, give up altogether. This Psalm teaches us to persevere in our prayers, even in our trials. That is what the children of God do. We walk by faith, not by sight.

The final application:

WE MIGHT QUESTION WHERE GOD IS IN OUR DESPAIR, WE KNOW THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL.

He is faithful, even in our despair.

Look to Jesus. Jesus knew the despair of Psalm 88. Does that surprise you? He did. He was a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief. He was despised and rejected by others. On the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was essentially asking, “Where is God?”

FOR YOU, God forsook Jesus, that He would have a people to call His own. In the midst of despair, we are called to believe in the one who knew the greatest despair. Jesus had to be forsaken for a time to endure God’s justice. But the despair was only for a moment — in order to accomplish your salvation — that despairing people like you and might live!

“Following Jesus, Living Water, and Gospel Fluency”

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.

Pastor Colin

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.

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.

Will you?

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. . . .

Galatians 5:22

. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. . . .

Colossians 3:12

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. . . .

AMEN!

High School

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!

“Not Everything Is As It Seems”

From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, August 20, 2017

Text: John 7:14-24 (English Standard Version)

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning,[a] when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s[b] will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Footnotes:
• John 7:15 Or this man knows his letters
• John 7:17 Greek his

Quote of the Week:

“God’s forgiveness doesn’t free you from being serious about sin, but is meant to produce a life of joyful, grateful, worshipful obedience.” (Paul David Tripp).

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer

Jesus had been in almost constant conflict with the religious leaders to this point. Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath. He had violated the Law. Even though He had performed a miracle, he had violated the restrictions developed by the religious leaders. To be justified before God, men and women were expected to obey the law. The leaders had kept the law, every jot and tittle. They were students of the law. They followed the Law. They were the models.

Nothing has really changed in the world. To be successful, we need to “follow the rules.” But the rules have changed. Sleeping around, getting drunk, and engaging in homosexuality used to be against the rules. The rules have changed, but the principle is the same; obey and follow the rules, and you will be accepted. Disobey, and you will experience conflict. Following all of the rules is a means to an end.

Your heart has nothing to do with this. Remember when we did busy work in college? We do things in life we don’t want to do. We don’t even have to have our heart in these tasks. The rules aren’t necessarily bad — we need rules to function well — but my point is that we take this mentality into Christianity. We will “advance” when we obey the Law. Surely, the Pharisees would get into heaven! Do you wonder why they hated Jesus?!

They were trying to hill him. Jesus rebuked them for that truth and for not following the Law with pure hearts. They were trying to kill Him! Such was certainly NOT following God’s law. In the quest to keep the law, they had broken the law.

When we focus on the externals, we miss the internals, the heart and the why we do what we do. Jesus pointed out that the teachers of the law loved the law but they would not keep the law with their hearts, as evidenced by their desire to kill Jesus.

They had — we have — either pride or despair. If things go well, the person can have satisfaction; if things do not got well, we experience despair.

License is complete disregard for the law. The approach here is to justify our behavior and to manage our sin.

We manage, we experience pride, or we experience despair.

Legalism and license are really two sides of the same coin. The Gospel is altogether different.

Legalism dumbs down the law. The bar is less high. We follow a few acts of the Law obediently. But Jesus raised the bar, equating lust to adultery and anger to murder. If a person doesn’t have heart obedience, s/he doesn’t have obedience. We must put other people first ALL of the time. That’s love. That’s a high bar.

We think we have done well by not murdering someone or committing adultery. We see ourselves as “pretty good” people. None of us is keeping the Law. The Pharisees thought they were keeping the Law, but they were not doing so, because it was all about externals to them. They were seething with hate for Jesus. They had absolutely no love for Him. They had justified hate in their minds. He was a lawbreaker, and, in their minds, they had every right to hate Him. They had missed the commandments about loving God and loving their neighbors. These were not cold rules. God wants us to love well. They were furious. They couldn’t refute Him; He was too smart for them. They were incensed that He questioned them about their knowledge of the law. Who did He think He was?!

Jesus showed how ridiculous it is for them to be angry with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was put in place for man. Circumcisions occurred on the Sabbath, but the Pharisees were rigid with Jesus about healing on the Sabbath. Why wouldn’t healing the whole man be acceptable on the Sabbath?!

Jesus called them to “right judgment.” The Law was about loving our neighbors as ourselves. God demands heart obedience, not external obedience alone. We can obey on the outside, but we are not obeying on the inside. That’s not obedience. Following God while being mad at Him is following Him out of fear of how He will punish us for being disobedient.

Have we loved as Paul calls us to love in 1 Corinthians 13? No. We’re in trouble. We have not loved well. These religious leaders of Jesus’ times had been in the Word constantly, yet their hearts were far from the law of love.

We have not measured up. Like the Pharisees, we have critical spirits. We judge. We believe we are following the law, but we have a complete disregard for following others. This is spiritual blindness.

I struggle with this when I drive my car. Anne and I went for take-out last night. We were driving on Garlington toward Roper Mountain Road. A man popped out in front of me from a side intersection. He went only 35 miles per hour! It took us 8 hours to get to the next intersection! I pulled up next to the driver. I glared. Anne said, “Don’t do it!” This is humorous, but this is an example of complete disregard for the law of love.

We criticize when things don’t go ccour way. This criticism comes from our deepest insecurity. The Pharisees thought they were good at the law, but someone else pointed out their hypocrisy, and they couldn’t stand it.

A modern day version is racism. Because of the color of our skin, one person is better than another, which is incompatible with Jesus Christ, because we all come from Adam and Eve.

White supremacy has been a blight of our country, and we oppose that in the strongest terms.

We are blind to the struggles of people of color, and we can’t condone violence on either side, especially our enemies, whom we are called to love.

I am amazed by all of the self-righteousness. This is happening in our politics, too. The law of love is not in existence, a result of legalism, an appeal to some external standard, while as the same time condemning those who don’t measure-up.

We need heart change.

All of us are condemning others. The liberals are condemning white supremacists. The conservatives are condemning identity politics.

One of my mentors rightly points out that self-righteous responses to self-righteousness does not reach the conscience. Condescension does not reach the conscience.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Forgive, and you will be forgiven, Jesus said.

We condemn the self-righteous, and, by so doing, we are self-righteous. There is so much self-righteousness and so little humility. This is the atmosphere of war.

So how will we stand before a holy God with these kinds of self-righteous, ungodly attitudes?

There is only one way.

Jesus was the only one who lived and loved perfectly.

It’s not about our behavior. It’s about Him and His behavior.

He lived and died for people.

Can we run to Him? He was willing to be put into harm’s way, to be beaten, and to be crucified for our utter defiance of God’s law.

Have we seen Jesus? Have we run to Him? He is our righteousness and our all-in-all. That should break us and cause us to fall on our faces in worship. And we should seek to serve Him with all of our hearts, souls, strength, and minds.

Brothers and sisters, that is the Gospel.

And the Gospel changes everything.

“Prayer for the 2017-2018 School Year”

Good morning!

 Welcome to the first day of an exciting new school year!

 This is Dr. Stouffer, the Upper School Principal.

I can’t think of a better way to start a new year than to pray.

Please pray briefly with me.

Father God, we are literally in the first minute of 180 days which we hope to steward well for You.

Please make this school year more about You and less about us.

Lord, will you — this year — conform us more to the likeness of Jesus Christ, Your Son?!

We long to conform in that way, rather than conform to what others say we should be and do.

We pray AGAINST division, mean behavior of any sort, gossip, and harassment.

We pray FOR unity, kindness, edifying conversation, and uplifting words.

We ask you to empower every student, teacher,  and administrator to do their very best work this year, no matter our respective abilities.

You have blessed us all differently.  All of us have talents.  In Your eyes, we have infinite value, because WE ARE CREATED IN YOUR IMAGE.

Help us to see ourselves through Your eyes, rather than through the eyes of others.

We thank You for our very lives.  Please give us a passion for offering ourselves as living sacrifices to You, holy and pleasing, within Your will, seeking Your work, being led by Your Holy Spirit.

Empower us with your Spirit, that we might do GREAT things this year.  Push us immeasurably beyond our imaginations.

We look forward to how You are going to work in and through us, growing us in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To You, God, be all praise and honor and glory!

We commit the 2017-2018 school year to You and to You alone!

AMEN!

 

Make it a great school year, everyone!

Stay classy, Sabre Nation!

Highlights of SCS New Family Orientation Program

Orientation of New Families

Southside Christian School

Fine Arts Center

Monday, August 14, 2017

7:15-8:00 p.m.

Fine Arts Center

Summary of Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

Dr. Bob Stouffer

Welcome!

Thank you for coming, and thank you for investing in your students’ Christian education!

Thank you for entrusting your students to Southside Christian!

Agenda for the evening

Introduction of Avery Anderson and Sabre Ambassadors (Avery serves as President of the Sabre Ambassadors.)

Introduction of Jack Shubert and Student Government Association (SGA) officers (Jack serves as President of the SGA.)

Jack Shubert

Welcome and Opening Prayer

Dismissal of students for tours

Dr. Sam Barfell and Tommy Blackmon

Dr. Barfell discussed the distinctives of Christian education.

Mr. Blackmon discussed the school’s Annual Giving campaign for 2017-2018.

Dr. Bob Stouffer

One of the greatest compliments ever paid to me came to me in an anonymous needs assessment survey, in which a disgruntled parent commented about me as Superintendent of the Christian school:  “Dr. Stouffer talks to much about Jesus.”

Under my leadership, we are going to constantly talk about Jesus!

We are going to talk about the Gospel!

Head knowledge is good – we are a school, after all – but head knowledge will only take you so far.  Saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is our most valuable “possession.”

During my first year at Southside Christian, I worked hard to get to know the students.

This year, I will continue to work on calling your student by name, and to know his or her personality.

AND I would like to know YOU, and to provide you with resources as your student’s primary “educator” and “discipler.”

You should know a little about the leader who has oversight of the Upper School.

Cheryl and I have been married for 35 years!

My older daughter, Molly, 30, and her husband, Jake, are raising Lily, 4, Norah, 3, and Sawyer, 1, in Cleveland, Ohio.  Molly is a sixth generation teacher now teaching her children as a stay-at-home mom.  Jake is a Resident Physician in the Emergency Room.

My younger daughter, Hannah, 22, lives with Cheryl and me — as does her daughter, Gracelynn, 4.

I am helping to disciple my 4 young grandchildren.

Gracelynn will be a K-4 pre-school student at Southside Christian!

Christian education is of great value.

I am a huge proponent of Christian education AND public education AND home schooling!   The quality of our lives is directly proportional to the quality of education in our communities.

I am proud of what God did through me as a teacher, coach, associate principal, and principal in the public schools for 20 years.

Then, I experienced CHRISTIAN education as first-time Superintendent of a CHRISTIAN school 18 years ago.

I am grateful for the Christian education my two daughters received.

Both young women are walking with the Lord and serving Him.

And that is why I am JOYFULLY contributing to the Christian education my granddaughter will receive for the first time at Southside Christian!

We want SCS to provide your students with an extraordinary education.

One sign of SCS excellence is our students’ AP Scores. . . .

Also, consider the accomplishments of our 2017 graduates (listed in the Upper School portion of the school website).

Please partner with us and support our efforts for your students to be in school  every day, be on time to all of their classes, and to meet our reasonable expectations for their behavior.

We want to disciple your students, that they might come to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.  I am not so naïve to believe that everyone has a personal relationship with Jesus.

We will love your students, even when they are not lovable.

I hope you will love us when we are not lovable!

The leaders, teachers, and staff members here care deeply about your students.

I have NEVER been around a better collection of school employees.  And this is my 38th year as an educator.  I joyfully work with all of my colleagues.

We are dedicated to Christ-centered education and to your families.

None of us is perfect, and we are not a perfect school, but this is an outstanding school.

If you are interested in knowing what’s on my mind, follow my blog, and you will be able to see the topics which are being discussed at school.

https://wordpress.com/posts/drbobinc.wordpress.com

Access to my blogsite is available as a link on my Upper School website biography.

It is my hope that, right now, I can provide you with some value for the brief time I have remaining.

John Stonestreet

John indicates a challenge for this generation of students.  Too many of them are hamstrung by The Peter Pan Principle.    Let’s call them to hard work — to adult responsibilities.

Tim Elmore

“One Act That Improves Kids’ Emotional Health”

The one “act” is face-to-face talking.  Let’s engage our students in deep conversations.

Tim Elmore

“A Father-Son Conversation on Growing Up Today”

  • Help your students to think divergently, not convergently.
  • Help them solve their own problems.
  • Help them resolve their own conflicts.

“Boys Think, See, Hear & Process Very Differently Than Girls”

  • Let’s not allow the culture to emasculate our young men.
  • We must praise your young women for their wisdom.
  • We must praise both young men and young women for their exceptional EFFORTS, even when they do not earn an A.

“Everyone Gets a Trophy”

By Tim Elmore

  • Let’s not expect our students to “receive a trophy” on all occasions.
  • Let’s expect our students to do all of the work and to work hard for what they receive.
  • Let’s not do for a student what s/he can do for her/himself. Let’s follow The Home Depot tagline:  “You can do it.  We can help.”

“The Collapse of Parenting”

By Leonard Sax

  • We accept too much disrespect from young people.
  • We live in a “live for now” culture.
  • We are overscheduled.
  • We must teach our students about humility.
  • We must teach our students to respect themselves and others.
  • We must teach our students about deferred gratification.
  • We must teach our students to enjoy life.
  • We must help our students to discover the purpose of life in Jesus Christ.

“Depressed Teens”

By Eric Metaxas

  • 36% of teen girls in America are depressed or have had a “major depressive episode.”
  • We must show our own love for Jesus.
  • We must help our students to love Jesus.
  • We must keep the lines of communication wide open to our students.
  • We MUST get a depressed student to a CHRISTIAN counselor RIGHT AWAY.

“Signs to Spot and Steps to Take to Prevent Suicide”

  • 1 in 10 students have thought about suicide during the past year.
  • The “Blue Whale” website is actually encouraging suicide.
  • The signs: withdrawal, hiding information, a lack of motivation, giving possessions away, a pattern of lying.
  • We must encourage our students not to be “addicted” to “likes” on social media sites.
  • We should limit screen time.
  • We should encourage “technology fasts.”
  • We should help students build “margin” into their days.
  • We MUST get any profoundly or chronically depressed student to a CHRISTIAN counselor RIGHT AWAY.

“SAT Scores Drop, Even As Number of Students Getting A’s Rise”

  • We must challenge students to do their best at whatever ability level.
  • Please do not pressure teachers to inflate student grades; the most important outcome of learning activities is competency, not 100’s on every assignment.

Check out what Summit and Barna have found out about the research on the worldviews of BIBLE-BELIEVING Christians. . . .

That data supports our desire as a school to focus on disciple-making, and the man who has oversight of those efforts in the Upper School is Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship at Southside Christian.

I have asked Colin to speak for a few minutes on our efforts with the spiritual growth of your students.

Colin Urbanick

Pastor Colin spoke about the disciple-making activities of Southside Christian School, and he closed the meeting in prayer.

Please reserve the night of Tuesday, August 29th for the Upper School Open House, during which you will experience a brief program in the Fine Arts Center and then move through a simulated 8-period day of your students.

“By Whose Authority?”

Why in the world did Mark Auffarth preach a message on the day after his daughter’s wedding, which he officiated?!  Why?!  Because he loves Jesus and he loves to preach the Gospel.  The Gospel changes everything, and he doesn’t like to miss a single Sunday!  If you are interested in my summary of this message, “By Whose Authority?” please read on. . . .

“By Whose Authority?”

From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, August 13, 2017

Text of Message:

John 7:10-31

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning,[a] when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s[b] will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Can This Be the Christ?

25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

Footnotes:

  1. John 7:15 Or this man knows his letters
  2. John 7:17 Greek his

Quote of the Day:

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer

I pray to You, Lord, that You will unplug our hearts. Open our eyes. Help us to see You in clearer ways. Help us to believe AND LIVE-OUT the truth of Jesus being the Messiah. Be with the one who preaches, a sinner. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

It was the time for the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was a celebration of God bringing the Israelites out of 40 years in the wilderness to the Promised Land. The festival was a great celebration. Most of Israel would descend upon Jerusalem.

Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to seek celebrity as a public figure at the Feast. But Jesus stayed in Galilee, because he knew the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him. Eventually, He went up to Jerusalem, and He began to preach.

His disciples knew He was special, but they didn’t entirely understand Him or His mission. They had attached themselves to a “good thing.” They thought He might lead the overthrow of Rome in Jerusalem, setting up a political power base.

Today, we’re going to look at the religious leaders’ reaction to Jesus’ teaching. He was teaching about the Kingdom of God. In verse 15, John wrote that the Jews were amazed by the learning of Jesus, even though he had never studied as a typical Rabbi was educated. They were not enamored by Jesus. By tradition, Rabbis taught the same principles from generation to generation. Jesus was saying something new. They saw him as a Rabbi who was trying to make a name for Himself. He was an interloper who needed to be done away with. They hated him.

The real question they were asking was “By what authority does He teach?” [They were essentially asking, “Who did He think He is?!”]

By what authority do WE live our lives, do our work, and believe what we believe? That’s the real question. What is the basis of our lives? Is it all about the American Dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Is it what we want? Or do we do what God wants? In Him, we move and live and have our being, according to the Apostle Paul. Is this the pervading thought of every decision and priority of our lives?

We’re in a culture with a strong belief system. Some beliefs are good. But there are some very bad beliefs. It’s impossible not to be influenced by the value systems being thrown at us through the media. We love to think we are objective, fact-based people, but no one is really objective, are they? We’re not that objective.

Science is taking the place of religion. People want to go with the facts. But science can’t answer all of the “facts,” the things our culture holds dear. Our culture loves “human rights,” but you can’t prove that by science. It should be survival of the fittest, according to science. That’s the evolutionary model. The weak die. Where does love come from? Science can’t define “love.” Science can’t give us morality. We accept too much non-truth on faith, even those ideas which are not proven by science.

What’s the real issue? What is the authority behind what we believe? What’s the authority?! Everyone has an authority, whether acknowledged or not.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned for many years. He emigrated to America. He recalled the teaching of his elders. He concluded that men had forgotten God. He identified the principle trait of the Twentieth Century. Men have forgotten God.

Think of the growing tension between North Korea and the United States. On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted about the modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal, hoping it would never been used, but indicating there would never be a time that the United States was not the most powerful nation in the world. By what authority can he make a statement like that? Have we forgotten God?

The religious people of Jesus’ time had forgotten God. And He was standing right there in front of them!

Jesus responded that His teaching was not His own; His teaching came from the One who had sent Him. He had accepted the call of the Father to save us. He had learned from His Father. He had not been taught by the Rabbis. What could Rabbis teach Him that was not taught to Him by the God of the universe?! He was in complete dependence on the Father.

Jesus showed them that they could know that what He said came from God. He was not speaking on His own authority. He exhorted them to do God’s will. The religious leaders believed they were doing so. They followed every detail of the law. They were “good,” obedient people. They believed they were already doing God’s will.

But how had they missed God? He was standing right in front of them! They had missed Him altogether.

They missed Him for the same reason we miss God; they were focused on themselves.

The Bible is God’s love letter to us. In a sense, that’s true. But it’s a man-centered approach to the Scriptures. The truth is that the Bible is God’s love letter to Himself, manifesting the perfect love that exists among the Father, Son, and Spirit in the Trinity. That love spills over onto His people. The love is not just for us! God is love! God created man to share that love. God had covenanted to save His people from their sin through the life, death, and resurrection of the Son. And the Spirit came in power to make that love real!

Religion can so easily become man-centered. But the Bible is the narrative about God and His power and His mercy and His rescue of sinners. The Bible is not about the sinners. The Bible is about God. God adopts sinners into His family. That’s unbelievable! God gave His own life for His people!

Religion in Jesus’ time became all about the religious leaders, who began competing, looking down their noses at others, and judging others. I judge 3 or 4 people a day. How is that different? It is no different.

The religious leaders reveled in the adoration of the people, and God got lost in the shuffle. Had God gotten lost in your shuffle?

On the Pew Center website, a report indicated less religion in America. But people still have a spiritual sense of peace. Spirituality is becoming more of an individual thing, because we so often get chastised for sharing our faith. Spirituality is a private thing. By what authority? Is religion a crutch to help us get through life?

Everyone has an authority. What is your authority?

In the church, we can become legalistic through “obey, obey, obey” and self-focus — leading to pride, when we think we’re obeying, and despair, when we think we’re not. We also compare ourselves to others and believe we are not as bad as others. This is very self-centered. And God gets lost in the shuffle.

Can God show grace in such situations? Of course. Grace upon grace upon grace is from God. God wants our obedience. That’s a result of our loving God. The focus isn’t on the commands, as much as on loving Him, which is actually a command.

The tendency of our hearts is to justify ourselves. We don’t want to enter in the dark places. When touched, we react! We’re scared that He will reveal who we really are and we won’t be loved. But He wants to reveal that dark place, show us grace, and make us more like Jesus.

So how does Jesus address this issue? His teaching came from God. He was speaking about God’s well. He had told Nicodemus that we must be born of the Spirit. He told us that we can’t manage our guilt. Apart from Christ, we can’t handle the truth. He told the Samaritan woman that He is the living water. He declared Himself to be the bread of life, which can only be derived from the Word of God and Spirit of God.

This is more than “choice.” This is about a “desire” or “wish” to follow the will of God.

The Pharisees loved the popularity which came from their power and image. Did they, however, have the desire to follow God? They were not truly willing to follow the authority of God in their lives. They were following their own authority.

We have no ability to change our hearts apart from the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit is a wind which blows, and we must seek Him, spend time with Him, ask Him to come, and confess our guilt to Him.

We are a culture of immediate gratification. We want things NOW. We too often live in Zombieland. We don’t think. We need to seek God. When we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him. The Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures are replete with this truth.

You’ve got to seek Him. You don’t have to reject Him until you know what you are rejecting.

Jesus says, “Come to Me. Seek Me.”

If you seek Him, you will find Him. That’s His promise.

When we find him, we will love him and revel in His grace.

That’s the Gospel.

And it changes everything.