Monthly Archives: May 2018

“A Vision of the Possible”

I used the ideas from David Platt’s book, Follow Me, as the basis for my Tuesday morning Upper School staff devotionals throughout the 2017-2018 school year.  But we “ran out” of Tuesday mornings before I could present my final devotional.  So, for those who are interested, here are those final ideas and a series of excellent questions to engage us during summer and the school years ahead.

“A Vision of the Possible”

By David Platt

From Follow Me

The Conclusion to the “Follow Me” Devotional Series

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Presented by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

 

Think of our world.

3,000,000,000 men, women, and children live on less than $2 per day.

1,000,000,000 live in absolute poverty.

Hundreds of millions are starving and dying of preventable diseases.

Billions are following false religions. 2,000,000,000 have not heard the Gospel. The vast majority of these people are heading to eternal suffering.

YOU have been transformed by the Gospel.

YOUR will is abandoned to God’s will.

YOU are involved in a local fellowship of Christ-followers.

The Holy Spirit empowers YOU to live and to speak the Gospel to others.

We must give our lives to people, not going to a church building.

We are Christ’s answer for Kingdom multiplication.

We are today’s “fisher” of men and women.

God gives us opportunities, and we are the disciplers.

He has COMMANDED all of us to make disciples. Such is God’s plan.\

We should never stop talking about our Savior!

When preaching the Gospel, we face no real risk of persecution or death in the United States, so, when we learn about people preaching the Gospel in dangerous countries, we should be convicted about our lacking evangelism.

We must invite seekers into fellowship (not just a church building) — in small groups and one-on-one for spiritual conversations.

David Platt wrote,

“So let’s incorporate

The character of God,

The sinfulness of man,

The sufficiency of Christ,

The necessity of faith, and

The urgency of eternity into our everyday conversations.” (p. 185)

“Do the people around you know how grateful you are for the cross of Christ?” (p. 186)

“. . .let’s be intentional about sewing the threads of the gospel into the fabric of our conversations every day. . . .” (p. 187)

Let’s teach people how to follow Jesus!

In 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, Paul wrote,

5 . . .because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit. . . .” (English Standard Version)

Of the 11,000 people groups in the world, 6,000 of them are still classified as “unreached.”

I experienced this first-hand in Senegal, Africa. The Jesus Film project of CRU literally brings the Gospel to ALL unreached populations. We showed the film two nights in a row in the middle of nowhere. With a gas-operated generator. Each of us then shared our testimony, translated from English to French to the tribal language used in the African bush. And almost 100 villagers embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior!

Every Christian is a missionary.

“Who can imagine or measure what might happen when all the people of God begin to prayerfully, humbly, simply, and intentionally make disciples?” (p. 201)

Platt encouraged his readers to develop a personal disciple-making plan by asking the following questions (pp. 227-233):

  1. How will I fill my mind with truth? How will I read God’s Word? How will I memorize God’s Word? How will I learn God’s Word from others?
  2. How will I fuel my affections for God? How will I worship? How will I pray? How will I fast?  How will I give?
  3. How will I share God’s love as a witness in the world? Who? How? When?
  4. How will I show God’s love as a member of a church? Where? What?
  5. How will I spread God’s glory among all peoples? How will I pray for the nations? How will I give to the nations? How will I go to the nations?
  6. How will I make disciple makers among a few people? How will I bring them in? How will I teach them to obey? How will I model obedience? How will I send them out?

Southside Christian School Senior Trip, May 20-25, 2018

What a privilege to accompany the Class of 2018 on their Senior Trip to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City on Sunday-Friday, May 20-25, 2018. In the extreme unlikelihood that your senior did not give you too many details of the trip, please consider my summary of the major trip activities. . .

Southside Christian School

Senior Trip

Class of 2018

May 20-25, 2018

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal (All errors are mine alone.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

We left Southside Christian at 6:40 a.m.!

Except for some light mist in Washington, D.C. on one day, near-perfect weather accompanied us from Sunday through Friday.

My first thanks go to all of the parents and students who invested their hard-earned dollars on this trip!

My second thanks go to Assistant Principal Bob Jones, the Tripmeister, who covered the MANY important details of this trip, serving us so well, and delivering a set of first-rate experiences. There can be no doubt that he loves the students!

My third upfront thanks went to the chaperones who gave up their personal, professional, and vacation time for the Class of 2018:

Dr. Sam Barfell (Superintendent), Jen Barfell, Carla Evans, Kimberly Graham (Senior Class Sponsor), Russ Graham, Allie Henderson, Brett Henderson (Senior Class Sponsor), Bob Jones, Kathy Nelson (our wonderful nurse), Cheryl Stouffer, and Pastor Colin Urbanick!

Praise the Lord for no major medical issues, and we had such peace-of-mind with an excellent nurse in Kathy with us. SCS is greatly blessed with two such outstanding nurses as Kathy and Missy Jenkins.

For the purposes of supervision, safety, and security, all seniors were assigned to chaperone groups of 9-10 in number. The system worked well to account for students at major transition points.

Our first stop on Sunday morning was for a bathroom break and short devotional by Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship.

Pastor Colin asked who had been at the school the longest.

17 years — Brooke Thomas!

The shortest tenure?

1 year — Urijah Mangum

Pastor Colin challenged the seniors to reflect on how God has worked in their lives during their time at SCS.

Pastor Colin pointed out that the Jewish people believed that they walked through life “backwards” — through such thinking, we cannot see where we are going, but we can see from where we have come.

The Jewish people built altars to remember how God showed up and provided for them in the past.

There are no such thing as accidents or coincidences in life.

God has placed us all here.

Seniors are moving into a new phase of life.

God has a special purpose for each senior.

God is using all things in their lives to mold and shape them.

“Don’t just wander through the week of this trip,” Pastor Colin said. “Tell someone what you are thinking.”

SCS staff are excited about the next phases of their lives.

Along the way, we lunched in Henderson, North Carolina!

The afternoon rest stop was in Virginia.

We experienced heavy traffic during the final leg of the day to Washington, D.C.

I was personally so glad for Andy and Tom, our outstanding drivers from Hazel and Matt Dance’s Champion bus company!

Dinner was at the Pentagon Mall food court in D.C.

And we concluded our day with an incredible tour of the U.S. Capitol building conducted by former Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen and his wife Liz. The McEwens pointed out unique elements of today’s political climate, the Capitol building, and history which should make us proud of the United States. What a privilege to have the entire Capitol building to ourselves, due to the connection of the McEwens to Matt and Hazel Dance.

We checked into our hotel and experienced our standard room check at 10:00 p.m. — with each room sealed by tape for security purposes until 6:00 a.m. (a practice followed on each night of the trip).  A security company was hired to keep us safe in both hotels on all nights of the trip.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Complimentary hotel breakfasts were available throughout the trip (for those who were morning people and morning eaters).

Austin Greer led devotions on our bus (#2), as we headed to the city for our day of adventure.

Austin used Ephesians 4:3 as the text for his devotional —

We are to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (English Standard Version)

This is our last week before graduation.

We need to bond together on this trip.

We need to keep peace with one another on this trip.

We need to enjoy each other on this trip.

We need to stay in touch with one another after this trip.

[Austin prayed.]

Arlington National Cemetery was a moving experience, especially the changing of the Guard of the Unknown Soldier at the top of the hour. Cheryl and I were also able to find the graves of two dear friends from Ohio.

Lunch was at Union Station in D.C.

Then we walked through the Lincoln Memorial and National Museums near the Mall.

Dinner was family style at the Bucca di Beppo Italian restaurant.

Off we went again for a walking tour of national memorials (Jefferson, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, FDR and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).

Back at the hotel, we took time for a late-night birthday celebration with a sheet cake for Mr. Jones the night before, since we would not have a good occasion to celebrate on the next day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jones!

Clayton Survance delivered the morning devotions on Bus 2:

This is the last time we will be together as a class.

We will largely separate after this summer.

In Colorado, a stream separates to the west — to the Pacific — and to the east to the Mississippi and then to the Atlantic. A drop of rain joins other drops and separates to the east or to the west.

You may not see it in the moment, but even the littlest decisions make a difference.

There are chain reactions to our decisions.

Life is full of small but significant decisions —

Think about Isaiah’s 30:21 [from the ESV]:

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

At these decision points, we know what we should do.

Do we listen to God’s voice?

The perspective of eternity should shape our decisions.

The Christian decision is not just at the point we are saved.

Will we make decisions on the basis of God’s principles?

The choices matter.

Seek Him first.

The drop of water flows either east or west.

Decisions have consequences. Decisions matter.

We were able to take a group photograph outside the White House.

We all visited the Newseum, where we also ate lunch.

Onward and upward with our drive to Philadelphia, where we visited the Constitution Museum, Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall.

And we were able to partake of authentic Philly cheese steak sandwiches from local restaurants!

After this short visit to Philadelphia, we drove through on the final leg of our journey into New York City! In advance, Mr. Jones had taken a train from Philly to NYC to insure that our hotel and room fobs were ready for our arrival.  Hotel check-in was seamless as a result of his efforts, and we were still able to spend 90 minutes in Times Square on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Of course, we took the ferries to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

We ate an authentic deli lunch a short walk from our ferry disembarkment.

Every visit to NYC should include the 9/11 Memorial, a somber but inspiring site.

And this group of seniors experienced the first-ever trip up to the top of the 1 World Trade Center, which provided an incredible panoramic view of NYC in all directions.

Shopping, haggling, and dining then took place in Little Italy and Chinatown.

Subways trips on this day were an adventure, and all of the students followed instructions beautifully—for safety and to avoid separation from the group!

We experienced a different look of the illuminated city from the top of the Empire State Building on Wednesday night!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A few of us were willing to traipse to “The Today Show” at 0-Dark-Hundred on Thursday morning! We were seen on TV by friends!

The entire group gathered for their choice of Times Square shopping, Central Park sightseeing, and lunch on their own with a chaperone.

On Mr. Jones’ recommendation, several of of us experienced Ellen’s Starlight Diner, where the food was excellent, and the servers also doubled as Broadway-quality singers throughout our experience! It was a great memory!

At 2:00 p.m., we stared gussying up for Broadway.

Ours was an early dinner at Carmine’s Italian restaurant on Broadway.

Our walk was a short distance from the restaurant to the Majestic Theater and Phantom of the Opera. The acting, singing, staging, and special effects were amazing!

After the musical, we took a group photograph on Times Square, and everyone had the option of dessert or a late-night bite to eat on Times Square.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The students and chaperones did a great job of checking out and loading the buses for the full day of travel home!

Actually, everyone generally represented Southside Christian extremely well from start-to-finish. I couldn’t be more proud of the members of the Class of 2018!

Cheryl and I so appreciated the opportunity to accompany the seniors on their trip. Thank you, seniors, and thank you, Southside Christian School.

SO MANY people in the world have no ability to enjoy such an amazing trip, and, for that, we are all very grateful!

What a shared experience! Great memories were made for all. Together. Laughter was shared liberally throughout. Ours was a set of experiences which will last a lifetime.

“Aligning Yourself for Impact”

On Saturday, May 19, 2018, I facilitated our monthly Rock Hill Baptist-Eastside Presbyterian men’s discussion of Dr. Tony Evans’ book, KINGDOM MAN.  If you would like to read my notes from Chapter 5 of Dr. Evans’ book, “Aligning Yourself for Impact,” please read on. . . .

“Aligning Yourself for Impact”
From KINGDOM MAN
By Dr. Tony Evans
Chapter 5

Outline of Bob Stouffer
Tony Evans grew up in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Baltimore Colts of Johnny Unitas were his team.

In this chapter of the book, he vividly remembers his beloved Colts winning the NFL Championship in 1958 and 1959. (As a frame of reference, I was born in 1958. Just sayin.’)

Dr. Evans and his peers all wanted to be NFL players.

These young men looked up to their heroes — Unitas, Raymond Berry, Wofford’s own Jerry Richardson, and Lenny Moore (the first African-American man to win the Rookie of the Year honor).

More important than becoming an NFL player, Tony Evans wanted to be a man.

Don’t you agree that God wired us to love being men?

Why do you love being a man?

Why do you love being around other men?

Dr. Evans points out several false definitions of manhood:

Passive Man — Why are some men passive?
Domineering Man — Why are some men domineering?
Sexual Man —Why do some men fixate on sex over God?
Corporate Man — Why do some men overwork?
Irresponsible Man — Why are some men frozen in childhood?
Hedonistic Man — Why do some men constantly seek pleasure?

Dr. Evans wrote, “Only when a man functions as a BIBLICAL kingdom man will he experience the fullness of his destiny.” (p. 59, emphasis added)

Women, wives, children, families, communities, workplaces and churches suffer when men are not fulfilling their God-given roles and responsibilities.

Men, we must align our purposes with God’s Kingdom work.

What or who defined manhood for you?

The media?
Your father?
Other men in your life?
Music?
THE BIBLE?

Dr. Evans wrote, “A kingdom man intentionally aligns his life, choices, thoughts, and actions under the lordship of Jesus Christ.” (p. 61)

According to Tony Evans, men live in 1 of 3 “hoods.”

MALE-HOOD

This male is a man on the basis of gender identity only.

BOY-HOOD

Dr. Evans indicates this is a male of “immaturity coupled with dependency.” (p. 61)

These are men who are “looking for somebody else to take care of them.” (p. 61)

Fatherlessness and absent fathers are the scourge of our culture. Forty percent (40%) of all children born in America are being brought into fatherless homes — higher for black children at 72%, according to studies cited by Dr. Evans (pp. 62-63). Most men in prison are fatherless.

What actions could reverse the scourge of fatherlessness?

Malachi understood the importance of biblical men and fathers to families: “Behold. . . .the prophet. . .will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that [God] will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:4-6)

MAN-HOOD

According to Dr. Evans, manhood is biblical manliness.

“This is when a man not only understands and embraces, but also fully lives out, the principles and truths in God’s Word.” (p. 63)

What men in the Bible meet Tony Evans’ definition of manhood? And why?

Noah
Abraham
Joseph
Moses
Joshua
Caleb
David
Uriah the Hittite
Elijah
Elisha
Ezra
Nehemiah
Job
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Ezekiel
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Agednego
Hosea
Mordecai
Joseph
John the Baptist
Jesus, of course (More about him when we close.)
John the Apostle
Stephen
Paul
Timothy

Who in the Bible illustrates falling short of Tony Evans’ definition for authentic manhood? And why?

Adam
Cain
Jacob
Samson
King Saul
Ahab and most of the other kings of Israel
Nebuchadnezzar
Judas

Dr. Evans wrote, “Men, we serve in a kingdom. God is our King. Christ is our head, our leader. And He has asked us to stand fast. He has asked us to give our undivided allegiance to Christ’s command through His headship over our lives, regardless of the cost. It is our responsibility as men to see to it that those under our care — those who depend on us and those within our realm of influence — have every opportunity possible for protection, provision, and safety. If we don’t give that to them, not only will they end up suffering, but others will suffer as well.” (p. 67)

“Being a kingdom man is about more than just being a great football player, a great businessman, a successful community leader, or a wealthy individual. Being a kingdom man involves being the hero who aligns himself under the headship and authority of Jesus Christ so he can fully access the power and authority of Jesus Christ to positively influence and impact everything and everyone within his realm.” (p. 68)

Tony Evans closed the chapter in this way: “A kingdom man models himself after the greatest Kingdom Man of all, who over 2,000 years ago rescued a world from distress when, rather than call for twelve legions of angels to set Him free from the cross, willingly submitted himself under the orders of his Captain and King — to stand fast for all who would have otherwise been lost.” (p. 68)

How is Jesus the ultimate example of authentic biblical manhood?

“Philippians: A Study of Joy — IN SUFFERING”

On Friday, May 18, 2018, Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent, offered an encouraging devotional to the staff of Southside Christian School.  If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Barfell’s message on experiencing joy even and especially in the midst of suffering, “Philippians: A Study of Joy — IN SUFFERING,” please read on. . . .

“Philippians: A Study of Joy — IN SUFFERING”

By Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent

Southside Christian School

All-Employee Devotions

Friday, May 18, 2018

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal  (All errors are mine alone.)

Last night’s Athletic Association was a classy event.  Congratulations to Athletic Director Mike Johnson and his team!

More good news today: Denny and Alicia Vauters have accepted the position of the Advancement Director! They have two houses to sell in Indiana. They need to find a home in Greenville. And they are relocating in July. Please pray for the Vauters. We’re excited about this good fit between Denny and our school. He has great skill and capacity for this position.

Let’s look at Philippians 1:27-30 once again.

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.  (New Living Translation)

We are citizens of heaven.

As we are citizens of heaven, it will be true that there will be those who oppose the Gospel. We must not be intimidated by those enemies.

A “privilege” of suffering for Christ?!  Paul was still in the midst of struggle.

We, too, are fighting for the faith. We are advancing the Gospel. And we will suffer together. It’s a privilege, Paul said. Do we have that perspective? I cannot identify with this suffering. We don’t suffer for the faith in America. Belittlement against Christians is not suffering. We’re all in the same boat. Isn’t it hard to identify with suffering for our faith?

Jesus said, in Matthew 10, that we would be hated because of Him. We would have to take up our crosses. He promised persecution to His disciples.

We get bogged-down in the normal trials of life. In the normal trials and suffering or our lives, I pray that I would have joy.  Do I want to pray for experiencing suffering? That’s a hard prayer!

This morning, Jen and I came upon the appropriate place of our devotional time from Proverbs 15:15 —

“All the days of the needy are hard, but a happy heart has a continual feast.” (CEV)

Joy is a fruit of the spirit.

Jesus bled, suffocated, and died on the cross. And He defied death!

He endured, so we could be His children. We should leap for joy! We are blessed by little things. We should feast on joy. Jesus has made our lives so good.

 

 

 

“Adam and Eve or Boaz and Ruth?”

On Thursday, May 17, 2018, I was given the privilege of delivering the final chapel message of the 2017-2018 school year at Southside Christian School. If you would like to read the text of my comments to the middle school and high school students, “Adam and Eve or Boaz and Ruth?” please read on. . . .

“Adam and Eve or Boaz and Ruth?

By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Upper School Chapels

Thursday, May 17, 2018

[Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship, welcomed everyone to this last chapel of the 2017-2018 school year, and he prayed over the students — that they would not be distracted by others around them — and that they would be impacted by the worship experience on this day.]

[For the middle school chapel, Upper School Vocal Music Director Fred Barrett led a time of worship through song through vocals and keyboard.  He prayed to make the transition from worship through song to worship through consideration of God’s Word.]

[For the high school chapel, High School French Instructor Brett Henderson (on guitar and through vocals), junior Mary Elizabeth Baumgarten (on keyboard and through vocals), and junior Coby Greene (on percussion) served as lead worshippers.  Following the music set, Mary Elizabeth prayed to make the transition from worship through song to worship through consideration of God’s Word.]

[Without introduction, I held up an apple and paused until the audience quieted.]

Who gets “credit” for original sin?

Adam, typically.  He was the “first Adam” as a foretaste of the “second Adam,” Jesus Christ.

But Eve actually first ate the apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Why doesn’t Eve get primary credit for Original Sin?

Eve was deceived by Satan.  Certainly, she must be responsible for succumbing to that temptation.

Adam knew full well that he was sinning when he took the apple from Eve.

Also, Adam stood by passively when he should have asserted leadership in the situation.

God had given Adam responsibility for spiritual leadership.

Adam and Eve’s sin was revealed.

They were naked and ashamed.

They hid. Apparently, they believed they were hiding from God.

But no one can hide from God.

And God called out to Adam, “Where are you?”

Did God not know where Adam was?

Of course, God knew where Adam and Eve were!  God is omniscient.  He knows everything.  God was asking, rhetorically, “Why did you not step up to provide godly leadership in this situation, Adam, and why are you now hiding?”

Eve blamed the serpent.  For those of you in the audience old enough to remember, this is the old punchline of comedian Flip Wilson:  “The devil made me do it!”

Adam blamed Eve. And he essentially blamed God for giving him the woman who was an agent of his fall.

Neither took responsibility for their sin.

Let’s make application to Southside Christian School today.

The seniors in our high school have provided primary leadership at Southside Christian this year.

But the seniors are no longer the leaders of Southside Christian. Their time at SCS is nearly done.

We watched the transition of student leadership on Friday.

New Student Government Association leaders are ready to take over.

I have been very impressed with Katherine Pfeiler’s abilities as a leader.

I look forward to her leadership.

I pray the rising seniors — and not just the elected seniors — will provide outstanding leadership in 2018-2019.

For the high school, the spiritual state of the school will be largely dependent upon the leadership of this year’s juniors.

For the middle school, our rising 8th graders will now step forward front-and-center in leadership.

I want to present a vision for Southside Christian which certainly involves both the young women and young men of our school.

After 20 years in the public schools, with no biblical worldview permeating those cultures, and 18 years in Christian schools, I would like to make an observation about the spiritual leadership of students at Christian schools.

Most young women are mature. Young women are more than willing to provide positive spiritual leadership in Christian schools.  For instance, Delaney Dowling and other young women provided excellent leadership last year.  During this year, Avery Anderson, Elizabeth Marcedes, and Rachel Noh were fine leaders in the Upper School.

And, at the same time, we have too many young women who thrive on drama — who bully other girls — who engage in totally inappropriate sexual behaviors.

Many other young women stand by and allow these insecure girls to amplify the drama. To be frank, these behaviors are the behaviors of girls, not young women.

What about the young men?

Of course, we have young men who are able and willing to lead. To name just a few, I hold up Clay Anderson and Jack Voigt as sterling examples from the Class of 2017. Jack Shubert, Clayton Survance, and others have provided similar leadership for the Class of 2018.

And, at the same time, we have too many young men who are passive. Too many are scorners, mockers, harassers, bullies, and negative leaders.

Some young men are more committed to video games and to sexting than to godliness.

And some young men stand by and allow these insecure boys to dominate school culture. Again, these behaviors are the behaviors of boys, not young men.

To be blunt, we’ve got too many Adams and Eves.

We need more Ruths and Boazes.

Of course, you should know the beautiful story of Ruth and Boaz.

Ruth was the widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi.

Naomi gave Ruth and her other widowed daughter-in-law Orpah her permission for them to stay in Moab when she made the decision to go back to Naomi’s native Bethlehem.

Ruth would have no part of that.

Ruth loved her mother-in-law — and, more importantly, Ruth loved the one true God of Naomi.

Ruth was an extremely loyal woman of integrity.

When in Bethlehem, Ruth toiled earnestly in Boaz’s grain fields and was rewarded for her work ethic and character.

She sought to provide for herself and her mother-in-law — and to honor Boaz.

Boaz was a man of great character. He generously provided for Ruth and Naomi — and he greatly admired the testimony of Ruth.

He honorably bargained with the kinsman-redeemer who had first right to claim Ruth as his wife.

Eventually, Boaz and Ruth wed. And they had a baby, Obed, who was the father of Jesse and grandfather of David, who was in the lineage of Jesus Christ!

So why all of this talk of Adam and Eve, Boaz and Ruth?

The latter pair — Boaz and Ruth — beautifully illustrate our vision for SCS.

What is the vision for Southside Christian School?

We have talked often and will continue to emphasize the E432 Vision for our school.

ALL OF US can be positive leaders.

EACH OF US should be characterized by the. . .

Kindness,

Tenderheartedness, and

Forgiveness of Ephesians 4:32 —

Grace and honor extended to ALL OTHERS, no matter our differences —

Grace humbly received —

A willingness to take responsibility for our sin —

Not focused on behavioral checklists of what we think is righteous. All of our righteous acts are filthy rags when compared to Christ’s righteousness —

Focused on Christ’s righteousness —

Focused on the Holy Spirit leading us.

The Lower School staff members have already created a document which indicates the non-negotiable expectations of everyone in “families” they are going to create in their student body.

And I see an developmentally appropriate adaptation of that same document for the Upper School in the future.

I envision older, more mature female students willing to positively mentor the younger girls to help them become mature women in Christ.

Similarly, I envision male students willing to positively mentor younger boys to help them to become mature men in Christ.

As with this year, I hope for an even greater number of Bible studies and prayer groups to pop-up in the student body — during lunch and on weekends.

I would love to learn about students who are willing to go one-on-one or to join small groups in coffee shops for the purpose of spiritual inquiry and growth into the likeness of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 16:13 from the English Standard Version gives men our marching orders in the body of Christ:

“Be watchful. . .

. . .stand firm in the faith. . .

. . .act like men. . .

. . .be strong.” (ESV)

I have always loved those staccato, rapid-fire commands from Paul.

My vision is for men to lead this school spiritually.

Leadership is a spiritual gift of both men and women, so I am not advocating for young men to be the sole leaders in our school, but I am calling the young men to a higher level of maturity and servant leadership than I have seen at Christian schools in the past.

Dr. Barfell presented an excellent devotional from Philippians to all of the staff last Friday morning, during which he made statements that are as true of our Upper School:

We must stand our ground FOR God and AGAINST Satan.

We must stand FOR truth and AGAINST falsehood.

We must stand FOR righteousness and AGAINST sin.

I envision young men and young women treating each other with respect —

Certainly, no disrespectful behaviors —

No bystanders allowing disrespectful behavior —

Friendly young people who welcome new students into their friend groups —

Hallways with positive high-fives, not aggressive physical and emotional bullying —

A lunchroom with students confident of their identities in Christ —

Clubs representing students of all different types —

Athletic teams working together in unity —

A place where dress code becomes dramatically less of a factor, and we are able to pour into each other spiritually —

Students praying with each other at various locations of the school —

I would love to hear about young men and young women engaging in media fasts for the purpose of drawing closer to the Lord and resisting the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) —

Strong leaders who can humbly admit their sin and accept responsibility for their actions.

[I held up the apple again.]

Who will you be?  Adam?  Eve? Or Boaz?  Ruth?

We need young men and young women who will be willing to lead positively next year.

Are you that young man?!

Are you that young woman?!

I challenge you to equip yourself in the summer to be prepared for those opportunities.

Get close to the Lord.

Submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in making you more like Jesus!

Ready yourself to be courageous leaders!

ALL OF YOU!

EACH OF YOU!

Is that vision realistic?  Time will tell.  I am certainly willing to issue the challenge to all of us.

We must call ourselves to a higher standard than other schools.

Positive spiritual leadership will make Southside Christian a school of influence in the community, in the Southeast, and in the nation.

[During the middle school chapel, I asked the current 8th grade students to stand, and I prayed over them, as they are anticipating the transition from middle school to high school]

[During the high school chapel, I asked the current 11th grade students to stand, and I prayed over them, as they are anticipating their responsibilities to spiritual leadership during the 2018-2019 school year.]

 

“What ‘Church’ Means to Me”

On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, I offered a devotional on my love for the church of Jesus Christ to the Upper School staff of Southside Christian School (based on Chapter 7 of David Platt’s book, Follow Me).  If you would like to read the outline of my devotional, “What ‘Church’ Means to Me,” please read on. . . .

“What ‘Church’ Means to Me”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

Southside Christian School

From the “Follow Me” Devotional Series

A Book Written by David Platt

Chapter 7 “The Body of Christ”

Upper School Staff Devotions

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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

I have summarized Chapter 7 of David Platt’s book, Follow Me, and that exercise was actually energizing.

If you like, you can read that summary on my blog when I make the post available tomorrow.

But I would like to spend my 10 minutes this morning actually illustrating the points of Chapter 7 by giving my “testimony” of what “church” means to me.

As a child and adult, up until my conversion, I attended church regularly.

The church was a “place.”

I went to my parents’ Methodist church.

I attended my college girlfriend’s Lutheran church.

I accompanied my college friend Larry Herm to his Catholic mass.

Cheryl and I attended dead, liberal Presbyterian USA churches.

The church was not the “people.”

I was social, but I didn’t commit to pouring my life into the people.

The Holy Spirit got ahold of me in 1994.

God changed so many things about me immediately.

For instance, I quit even thinking, let alone saying, vulgarities after swearing like a sailor for years (with all due respect to those who have served in the U.S. Navy).

More importantly, at the point of my conversion, Christ gave me a passionate love for His church and His people.

I knew I had to leave my non-Gospel-preaching church.

We connected with an excellent Evangelical Free Church of America.

I sat under the amazing teaching of Pastor Quintin Stieff and Adult Bible Fellowship teachers for 11 years.

The church was the perfect size for me at that time — 200ish. I knew the people. I saw them every Sunday morning at the crossroads of the large elementary school in which we worshipped.

I attended men’s ministries and weekly small group meetings.

I was convicted that we must become “members” as soon as possible, since membership indicated a higher degree of commitment to the body.

Membership is certainly not a salvation issue, obviously, but I love the church, and I didn’t want to “flirt with” or “date” the church when I could be unconditionally “married” to the church, as the church is Jesus’ bride!

Valley Church grew by leaps and bounds. Valley Church was THE HOT CHURCH in town at that time.

The numbers multiplied so quickly that we outgrew the school in which we had been fellowshipping.

Financial resources were plentiful, so we built a massive building with a large auditorium, and then the church grew even faster.

At the point of about 1,500 regular attenders on an given Sunday, I no longer knew everyone, and the body was growing too large for me to stay as connected as I liked.

Every year at vision meetings, the church leadership said they were going to plant other churches.

Every year, no church was planted.

Every year, I’d ask Cheryl, “When is the church going to plant another church?!”

Finally, one year, God ASKED ME, “When are YOU going to help plant a church?”

So I formed an adult Bible fellowship in that church for the express outcome of planting a new Evangelical Free church.

After our time at Valley Church, with the blessing and supporting finances of leadership, we met as an ABF for a year, and then we planted Waukee Community Church.

And we church leaders of that church built church planting into the DNA of the church. We knew all along that, when we got to about 250 regular attenders, we would plant another church where we knew God was working.

Eleven years later, Cheryl and I moved to Greenville.

And we looked for a church body of similar size and Reformed doctrinal beliefs.

That’s how we found Eastside Presbyterian on Rob Brown’s invitation.

Rob and I are both Elders at Eastside.

Our desire is that the church will always be a disciple-making church with the full flavor of Greenville diversity.

Church leadership is dedicated to planting new churches at a critical mass similar to the one we envisioned at Waukee Community Church.

The church is not the building.

The church is the people. The body of Christ.

The church must be all about disciple-making.

We must be engaged in one-on-one spiritual inquiry and accountability, to grow into the likeness of Jesus.

Church is more than Sunday morning.

Sunday morning is “re-fueling” time, so we can be launched into our individual spheres of influence.

The church is gathered on Sunday and scattered on Monday through Saturday.

Through relationship, we are building the Kingdom of God as the body of Christ.

Paul often alluded to the body of Christ, prominently in 1 Corinthians 12 —

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts [or members], yet one body.

The words of David Platt in Chapter 7 of his book, Follow Me, illustrate conceptually what I have offered by way of testimony this morning.

“. . .anyone who claims to be a Christian yet is not an active member of a church may not actually be a follower of Christ at all.” (150)

“. . .to identify your life with the person of Christ is to join your life with the people of Christ.” (150)

“It has. . .become a mark of spiritual maturity today for some professing Christians to NOT be active in a church. ‘I’m in love with Jesus,’ people will say, ‘but I just can’t stand the church.” Really? Isn’t the church the bride of Christ?” (150, emphasis in original)

“It’s impossible to follow Jesus fully without loving his bride selflessly. . . .” (150)

“The majority of people in America associate a church with a physical building.” (151)

Or the church is all about programs.

“Association and identification of the church with buildings and programs reflects an overtly consumer-driven, customer-designed approach that we have devised for attracting people to the ‘church.’” (152)

“When taken to extreme, this means that when people come to ‘church,’ they need a nice parking space, a latte waiting for them when they walk through the door, a themed preschool ministry with a custom-built slide, a state-of-the-art program that provides entertainment for teenagers, a top-notch band that plays great music, and a feel-good presentation by an excellent preacher who wraps things up in a timely fashion at the end of the morning. But is all of this what God had in mind when he set up his church? Better put, is ANY of this what God had in mind when he set up his church? (152, emphasis in original)

“So much of what we associate with the church today is extrabiblical at best (it ADDS to what God’s Word says) and unbiblical at worst (it UNDERCUTS what God’s Word says.” (152, emphasis in original)

“When you turn through the pages of the New Testament, you see a very different picture of the church. Instead of a building [or programs], you see a body made up of members and family made up of brothers and sisters who together have died to themselves and are living in Christ. . . . The church is comprised of people who share the life of Christ with each other on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis.” (153)

Jesus and His disciples. . .

  • Spent a great deal of time together,
  • Walked together,
  • Sailed and fished together,
  • Prayed together,
  • Learned together,
  • Worshipped together,
  • Shared life together. (153)

“In the same way, the New Testament envisions followers of Jesus living alongside one another FOR THE SAKE OF ONE ANOTHER.” (153, emphasis added)

Communities of Christians. . .

  • Care for one another,
  • Love one another,
  • Honor one another,
  • Serve one another,
  • Instruct one another,
  • Forgive one another,
  • Build up one another,
  • Encourage one another,
  • Comfort one another,
  • Pray for one another,
  • Confess sin to one another,
  • Edify one another,
  • Show kindness to one another,
  • Give to one another,
  • Rejoice with one another,
  • Weep with one another,
  • Correct one another,
  • Restore one another. (153-154)

“Being a member of [the body] means so much more than standing next to someone else and singing some songs once a week. Being a member of [the body] means realizing that we are responsible for helping the brothers and sisters around us to grow as disciples of Jesus.” (158-159)

“I think about Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 and wonder why his initial instruction concerning the church wasn’t about creating an environment where people feel warm and welcome, but instead about creating a community where sin is confronted simply, openly, and severely.” (159)

“God. . .actually execute[d] a couple of church members on the spot for their sin. . . . Ananias and Sapphira. . .were struck dead for their dishonesty. Talk about discipline!” (159)

“. . .God grows the church. . .through holiness in Christians.” (160)

“We must not buy into the ludicrous ideas that we need to make it easy for people to join the church, hide a commitment to holiness from members in the church, or dumb down talk about the seriousness of sin in the church. If we do these things, we may draw a crowd, but we will miss the very point of the church.” (160)

“There’s a trend that has developed known as ‘dating the church.’ We’ve developed the practice of hopping from one church to the next, attending this church or that church based on how we feel on that particular Sunday morning morning. . . .” (162-163)

“. . .if I am casually dating (or altogether ignoring) the local church, then I am living contrary to God’s design for my life as a Christian. It is impossible to follow Christ apart from commitment to a local church.” (170)

Yes, we are a part of the Church universal — the body of Christ throughout the globe.

But we are called to be a part of the church, a local fellowship and body of believers.

In his epistles, Paul wrote to local bodies of believers — “particular people” in “particular places.” (166)

We must ask ourselves, as Platt asked, “To which local body of believers do I belong? If Paul were writing a letter to me today, which church would I be associated with?” (166)

“Membership” then becomes an issue. What is my conviction in that regard?” “Am I an active, accountable member of a local church?” (170)

Christians banded together in local fellowships, doing good works for God, reflect the glory of Christ.

“. . .God’s glory is most majestically displayed not through YOU or through ME, but through US.” (172, emphasis in original)

“It is a privilege to be a part of the church. . . .It is biblically, spiritually, and practically impossible to be a disciple of Christ (much less MAKE disciples of Christ) apart from total devotion to a family of Christians.”

Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, English Standard Version)

I have a profound love for the church of Jesus Christ!

I pray that you do as well.

Let’s pray. . . .

 

“Walking in the Light”

On Sunday, May 13, 2018, Eastside Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth hoped and prayed that his message on light versus darkness would be characterized by clarity. It was. If you would like to read my summary of Mark’s message, “Walking in the Light,” please read on. . . .

“Walking in the Light”

From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series

By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Quote of the Week:

“The nearer you take anything to the light, the darker its spots will appear; and the nearer you live to God, the more you will see your own utter vileness.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

Text of the Week:

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

(John 12:27-36, English Standard Version)

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

This is a challenging passage. It was quite a study for me this week. We need to pray for clarity. . . .

There’s a website called “The Experience Project,” where people can share life experiences. Some 36,000,000 visitors had gone to this site before it was shut down. One post indicated that the person preferred darkness over light, so the person could hide, where we can lose ourselves, free from who we are; “darkness is bliss,” the writer posted.

We can avoid finding things out about ourselves in the dark. We live with noise so we don’t have to be introspective. We pursue shallow relationships in the darkness. We can be in the darkness, but all of our issues will still remain.

Jesus told us to walk in the light. What does that mean from this passage?

HEAR THE FATHER’S VOICE

First, this passage teaches us to hear the Father’s voice. What is the Father saying to you?

The Father responded to Jesus in this passage. God seeks His own glory, and He asks us to seek His glory. Do you know how many people are rubbed the wrong way by that statement? Some believe God is an egomaniac or narcissist. Is he those things? No!

Glory is won by noble achievement or magnificence. All of us are looking for glory. Don’t we love glory? The question is “Where will we find glory?”

The world says we find glory in ourselves. The Enlightenment [ironically] gave us that thought and belief. People are dying to glorify themselves. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and you’re dying to share about yourselves, because you’re such an interesting person? We love to talk about ourselves, yet we can’t stand people who always talk about themselves! It’s such a paradox. We are living paradoxes.

The Father glorifies His name. We don’t like that. God is focusing on Himself. So people call Him arrogant. We can’t think of God as another human being. He’s not a human being. He created and is above human beings. He’s a perfect being in three persons. That’s what makes Him glorious. He’s the only one who is glorious, according to the Scriptures. No one else has glory but Him. All of our glory comes from Him. Why would He seek our glory? The only glory worthy of His seeking is His glory.

Consider our passage this morning. He sought to glorify His name through His mercy — by sending His beloved Son to us — His Son with whom He had had perfect fellowship. The Father was selfless in His love. He was true to Himself, His perfect love, and his perfect mercy. He alone is worthy of glory.

Karl Barth — a man with whom I don’t always fully agree — had a great thing to say about God’s glory. God’s glory is God’s dignity and right — to make Himself conspicuous and ever-present to be Himself. God can’t help but be glorious. He seeks His glory as a truth about Himself. He alone has true glory. It is hardly arrogant to declare that which is true.

But, as typical of today, people don’t like to hear that truth. In this passage, people had various reactions to God’s voice. Jesus said the Father’s words were for their benefit. Many of these people heard the sound, but they didn’t understand God’s words. They were too concerned about themselves and their glory. They were limited to their own imaginations. They were the center of their own lives. Such is true of us today as well. Just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t true.

We have changed the God we believe in. We have made Him like the gods of Greek mythology, who were like human beings. The Greeks appeased the gods or did things for the gods, so they would be kind to human beings.

The God most people are rejecting today is nothing like the God of the Bible — the God of holiness, grace, love, and perfection — Who sacrificed His own Son for us.

Have you heard the Father’s voice? Have you rejected Him? Have you made up a belief from your imagination?

UNDERSTAND JUDGMENT

Secondly, we must understand judgment.

Wasn’t Jesus’ coming to earth about freeing us from judgment? That’s true. But God sacrificing His Son for us indicates our total depravity. We are the walking dead. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. You can’t be alive spiritually, if you do not have the God of the Bible.

The human race is under wrath. God hates sin. He has to punish sin. Our membership vows call us to understand that we are justly deserving of his displeasure. Jesus came to put a spotlight on our sin. But we run from our sin when the lights come on.

We teach helplessness. He came to rescue us from the dominion of darkness. We are helpless. We cannot rescue ourselves. None of us is attracted to helplessness, unless the Spirit of God enlightens us.

In 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a prison cell during World War II. He wrote that Jesus came to open the door from the outside, because we were under God’s wrath. Jesus took the wrath for us.

Regarding judgment, Jesus declared that the cross would drive out the evil one. Satan would have nothing. The prince of this world and his minions had lost what they thought was their greatest victory in the death of the Son. From their viewpoint, He had been driven out. But Jesus won! There is no doubt! There was no teetering on the brink. He won! He defeated the enemy at the cross! The enemy has no power, but we give him the power.

Do we want to live in the light?

We need a right view of God and to hear his voice.

We need to have a right view of judgment.

RECOGNIZE JESUS

One more component of walking in the light is recognizing Jesus.

Nothing makes sense without Jesus. Creation shows His glory. No one has an excuse for why they don’t believe. We need the Scriptures to show us Who Jesus really is.

John Stott says we cannot box Jesus in. God is not in our boxes. Our minds cannot contain God. His ways are not our ways. His ways are higher, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Even our glimpses of God pale in comparison to the glories of heaven and God. We are dissatisfied with these glimpses, pointing us to heights we cannot scale as human beings. We need Jesus Christ! Apart from Jesus Christ, God remains infinitely beyond us. We must seek the glory of the One and only! We need to see Jesus to walk in the light. Seeing Him allows us to see the Father. We cannot understand truth without seeing Him.

Start with Jesus Christ. Who is He? Deal with the person of Jesus Christ, and you will understand.

The unthinkable happened. The Lord of glory was put to death by spiritually blind and deeply depraved people. Our sin put Him there. It was our darkness. The Lord of creation submitted Himself to the cross, and, because of that, all people can gather around His throne and say, “Salvation belongs to us, because of our God!”

Jesus made the plea for His followers to put their trust in the light while they had it.

Where is your trust? Are you walking in the light? Are you the helpless one seeking to follow Jesus.

In the book, THE DEEP DOWN DARK, the author talked about the Chilean miners who were trapped in the earth for 69 days. The men took stock of their lives. They had regrets. One man got down on his knees and prayed. He talked to God. He got specific about the sins of his fellow miners. No one objected. It was the beginning of something special. Death was staring them in the face. The men got real before God and with each other. They ate meager meals. They daily got on their knees to pray. They confessed to each other. The effort for rescue had begun. The people on the surface were praying that the men would be saved.

Unfortunately, the happy part of the story became sad. The miners realized they would be rescued. They were famous. The praying stopped. The confession stopped.

The deep down dark is where we need God. Where is the light? Was it below with these men were helpless, or when they saw the sunshine? I would argue it was in the deep down dark.

Christ’s death was dark. But this act brought the light.

That’s the Gospel, and the Gospel changes everything.