Monthly Archives: August 2018

“What to Do When You Are on the Dark Side of the Moon”

Southside Christian School Campus Pastor Colin Urbanick substituted for Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent, for Friday All-Employee devotions on August 31, 2018. If you are interested in reading my summary of Pastor Colin’s comments, “What to Do When You Are on the Dark Side of the Moon,” please read on. . . .

“What to Do When You’re on the Dark Side of the Moon!”

By Colin Urbanick

Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Friday, August 31, 2018

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

Colin prayed to start devotions.

Good morning. Dr. Barfell asked me to lead devotions this morning.

I’m going to present a variation of what Dr. Barfell does during some of his meetings. [He puts pictures of his grandchildren and other staff members’ grandchildren on the big screen.] Babies are great. I don’t have any. But I do have a “baby.”

[Pastor Colin projected photographs of staff members’ dogs!]

This is Hazel Urbanick [Pastor Colin and Lauryn’s dog]. Isn’t she amazing? She’s regal.

Here’s Sasha Loper [High School Bible Teacher Laurie Loper’s dog].

Here is Bruno Banks [the dog of High School Science Teacher Yvonne Banks]. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a dog. [He appears to be a Yorkie.]

Emmitt Henderson is [High School French Teacher] Brett Henderson’s dog.

And here is Nalla Henderson [also Brett’s dog].

The passage I have selected for today is Ephesians 4:11-16 —

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[a] and teachers,[b] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Footnotes:

[a] Ephesians 4:11 Or pastors

[b] Ephesians 4:11 Or the shepherd-teachers [c] Ephesians 4:13 Greek to a full-grown man

I remember reading this for the first time, wondering what it meant, but, as I have studied the passage, I am now so thankful that I do not have to go about this life alone. God has given us leaders to teach and train those of us who are saints to do the work of ministry. We are not alone. I don’t look like Christ Jesus yet. We are all becoming more like Him. When I have gaps, you fill those gaps. We fill in gaps for one another. The body of Christ needs every part of the body. We want to see our students grow up.

Think about the dark side of the moon. [Pastor Colin projected a large image of the moon, showing the dark side.] Think about this from the philosophy of parenting. Kids look for affirmation from parents when they are young. At about sixth grade, students don’t look as much for the affirmation of their parents, and they look for affirmation from other sources. As a parent, you understand this feeling. You harp on your teenage son or daughter. They don’t listen to you. One day, they say, “You’ll never guess what so-and-so said [and it is the same counsel you have been trying to give all along].”

We call that the “dark side of the moon” in youth ministry. Apollo has lost all contact with Houston! Parents get grunts and “fine” and “good” [and “whatever”].

The Sticky Faith [organization] has done research on students who have maintained and lost their faith. What makes someone’s faith stick? It’s not about hip teaching. One reason is that 5 to 6 caring adults are consistently involved in each of their lives.

The Upper School needs EE. These students need parents and teachers and youth workers. Lower School reiterates truth of EE. We train and anchor students. In middle school, at the dark side of the moon, we get to be voices partnering with parents.

Paul understood this. We understand each other as the body of Christ to fill in the gaps. We reiterate truth over and over again to students. We cover each other’s weaknesses. The hope and goal is conforming to the likeness of Christ. None of us looks like Jesus now. But by the work of the Holy Spirit, we will become more like Him.

Discipleship is absolutely worthwhile. Parents need us. Churches need us. We reiterate truth one to another.

You are making a difference in the lives of students.

“Conformed to the World or Renewed by the Spirit and the Word?”

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, Southside Christian School Superintendent Dr. Sam Barfell exhorted the separate middle school and high school chapel audiences with a message on renewal from Romans 12:2. If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Barfell’s message, “Conformed by the World or Renewed by the Spirit and Word?” read on. . .

“Conformed by the World or Renewed by the Spirit and Word?”

By Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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

Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship, welcomed the students to chapel, announcing that the Middle School Spiritual Life Conference was scheduled for a week from this day. Schofield Foster of Grace Church is the speaker at SCS. Nathan Forrest is the High School SLC speaker at Brookwood. High school students are expected to complete transportation permission forms for the two days. No high school chapel is scheduled for next week, due to the Middle School SLC.

Pastor Colin announced that small groups would meet for the first time during the Spiritual Life Conferences. Lists would be posted in the coming weeks. Pastor Colin encouraged high school students who were not in a small group last year but would like to be involved in a group this year to complete his Google doc. Students who do not sign up for a small group will be assigned for temporary small groups for the high school SLC.

Pastor Colin asked everyone to stand for worship through prayer and song.

Ryan Donell (guitar and vocals) led the middle school audience in a time of worship and song.

Brett Henderson (lead vocals and guitar), Fred Barrett (keyboard and vocals) Carla Evans (vocals), and Brad Scott (percussion) led the high school chapel audience in a time of worship through song.

Pastor Colin introduced and prayed over Dr. Barfell and his message.

Dr. Barfell

Thanks, Pastor Colin. It’s an honor to speak in chapel.

Middle School: Before Mr. Donell leaves, I want to say thanks to him for leading us in worship this morning. God brought him here to Southside Christian School!

It’s amazing how God has assembled the faculty and staff of this team. It’s really cool. Look around at the teachers. They love you so much, and they want to see you grow academically and spiritually. That’s their heart. We pray for that all of the time.

How many people know the exact number of students in pre-school through high school? We have 1,050 students at Southside Christian School, representing 800 families. We’re trying to be a Christ-centered learning community. Look right at me. I’m going to say that again, and I’d like you to repeat it after me. We want to be a Christ-centered learning community.

Jesus Himself — and His Word — is the center of everything we do, no matter what class or extracurricular activity. We want Jesus to be the center of everything we do — how we treat one another — how we talk and think about one another.

We are a community of 1,050 students. We’re a learning community. We’re a CHRIST-CENTERED learning community. Thanks for being a part of this community.

Every year, we start with a fresh slate at the beginning of a new school year. I love that Pastor Colin has chosen “renewal” as a the theme for the new school year.

Did you know that Pastor is related to a close relative of mine? My daughter, Lauryn Joy!  I had a rule that anyone who wanted to ask either of my daughters for a date; the young men had to come to ask me. I joked that I would do that when cleaning my shotgun! Seriously, I wasn’t intimidating. I asked if the young man loved Jesus and would treat my daughters well. That worked when my girls were in high school, but then they moved onto college, which made those face-to-face conversations more difficult.

Colin and Lauryn were at Indiana Weslyan. He drove five hours from Indiana to Illinois. We talked in a Culver’s for 2 hours. He asked if he could continue to date my daughter. And then he drove five hours back. There’s a man who loves the Lord and has character to drive 5 hours to and 5 hours back. I wanted him to date my daughter.

Guys, here’s the lesson. Be a young man like Colin Urbanick. Be an honorable man with honorable intentions. All young women is a daughter of the King. Ladies, do you agree that they should do that? [Applause came from the young women.]. I think that should be a new Southside Christian School rule to expect young men to speak to the fathers of young ladies before they date! Let’s congratulate Pastor Colin and Lauryn on celebrating 5 years of marriage in Nashville this weekend. [Applause.]

These are our two granddaughters — Cora Gracelyn and Reese Elizabeth Barfell. They are coming to Greenville this weekend, so we get to spend the whole Labor Day weekend with these cuties. That’s a bit about my family.

Renewal.

Here’s the passage I want to teach on today.

Romans 12:2 (English Standard Version)

“Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[b]”

Footnotes:

[a] Romans 12:2 Greek age

[b] Romans 12:2 Or what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God

Last week, Pastor Colin talked about renewal as the theme, with the illustration of Lauryn seeing trash along the side of the road, with Lauryn repairing and restoring the trash, and, boom, there are these brand-new things.

I thought we are like that. We can become brand-new! My mind went to this verse.

Be transformed by the renewing of your MIND. What does that mean?

Here are the three questions I would like to answer today:

Why does my mind need to be renewed?

How do I renew my mind?

What does a renewed mind look like?

I’m going to answer those questions.

First, think about the meanings of the words, “conform” and “transform.” There are two distinct definitions for these two words.

Conformed means to be formed, shaped, and molded by external pressures.

Here’s the photograph of a big lump of clay. External pressure shapes the clay into the shape of a lion! The clay is not a real lion — only an image of a lion. The lion became a lion through external pressure.

“Transformed” means a fundamental change from the inside out — becoming externally what is real from the inside.

Bumblebee the Transformer gives us the picture of metamorphosis from a car to a robot. [Dr. Barfell projected a photograph.]

[Again, a photograph.] The butterfly is another example. The ugly caterpillar morphs through a change into a beautiful butterfly after the process in the cocoon. That’s metamorphosis — changed from the inside-out.

Don’t be conformed to the patterns of the world. Don’t let the world pressure you into being like the world. That’s not who you are! Don’t let the world shape you and press you and conform you to the world’s likeness and values. Don’t do that!

Instead, be transformed! We become new creations when we place our faith in Christ. Become who you really are. For the follower of Jesus, God’s Spirit resides in you. The externals become a reflection of what’s inside. Live according to who you are in Christ.

Why does your mind need renewal?

Our minds are fallen and finite by nature from birth — opposed to God and His truth. We are born with a sin-nature, and our minds in their natural states are opposed to God and His truth. The person without the Spirit thinks of the things of God as foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). The god — lower-case g — Satan — the god of this age — has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Our mind is fallen and finite, and it needs renewal. We actually think in our natural states in opposition to who God is.

How do I renew my mind?

The answer is simple — through God’s Spirit and God’s Word.

God saves us through the renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). At the point of choice of right or wrong, draw on the leading and strength of the Holy Spirit, we are new creations. The Holy Spirit renews our minds through submission to Him.

You cannot be renewed without the written Word and living Word (Jesus), as John indicated in his Gospel (1:1-5).

Paul exhorted the church of Corinth to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16). God reveals truth through His Word and His example in Jesus. That’s how our minds are renewed.

We must submit to God’s Spirit and His truth. We read, learn, recite, memorize, and pray over God’s Word.

What does a renewed mind look like?

Jesus! That reminds me of the times I asked my children what they had learned in Sunday school. The answer was always Jesus. Jesus is really the answer. We must look like Jesus! Jesus is the example of a renewed life. He live his life completely and wholly for the purpose of death and resurrection for the remission of our sins!

Jesus said some things that reflect a renewed mind:

  • Love your enemies. What?! That seems paradoxical. But it’s truth.
  • Forgive 70×7. 70×7?! A renewed mind is forgiving and will not seek revenge.
  • Walk by faith, not by sight.
  • It is more blessed to given than to receive. Our natural mind is all about selfishness and receiving. The renewed mind is sacrificial and giving.
  • Die to self, so you can live.
  • The first shall be last — the last, first.
  • Love those who hate you.
  • If hit on the cheek, turn the other cheek. Don’t let an offense create another offense. Jesus allowed people to crucify Him. He gave His life for them.

That’s how a renewed mind thinks. Your external behaviors are a reflection of who you truly are in Christ.

The Christian alternative to ungodly, immoral living is not a new list of godly, moral behaviors.

A transformed, RENEWED mind is a Spirit-controlled, Word-of- God-saturated profound change from the inside-out.

You have a distinct advantage being in a Christian school, in which you are being taught the truth of God’s Word in every single class.

What does this look like at Southside Christian School?

How do we treat one another? Maybe someone said something about you on social media. Instead of lashing out, you go to the other person and address the offense in a godly manner.

The easy thing to do would be to give the answers of an assignment or test to a friend, but a person with a renewed mind does not cheat or speak a lie, misrepresenting work he or she did not do.

The world looks at woman as sexualized objects, and in natural thinking, we are conformed to that thought, but a renewed mind does not look at women that way — women who are special creations of God. We look at women as gifts, not sexual objects, when we have renewed minds. Young ladies, don’t allow young men disrespect you. Stand up against it. I give you permission to slap that young man, if he does so! [The ladies applauded.] But don’t go around slapping young men today! Men, a renewed mind would always respect a young woman.

We can be catty and ugly to everyone we don’t like, but we should be kind.

Are you allowing God to transform your mind through his written Word and living Word?

Let me pray toward that end. . . .

“The Compassionate Character of God”

Those who assembled at Eastside Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday, August 26, 2018 were blessed by the preaching of Moises Campos, a minister of the Gospel in Costa Rica, where Eastside Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth has preached on multiple occasions over the recent past. If you would like to read my summary of Pastor Campos’ message, “The Compassionate Character of God,” please read on. . . .

“The Compassionate Character of God”
By Moises Campos
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, August 26, 2018

Quote of the Week:

“I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient.” (J. Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China)

Test of the Week:

19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” (Ruth 2:19-20, English Standard Version)

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

Pastor Mark Auffarth

It is my pleasure to introduce my friend and prayer partner Moises Campos. Please greet them. I invite Moises up to share the Word of God with you today.

Moises Campos

Good morning! May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Thank you for allowing us to be with you today. Thank you for praying. I believe we are partners, working together to serve the Lord.

Three years ago, we started visiting a little town in Costa Rica. Every time we decided to visit, we stopped at a store to get bread for the families we were visiting. Bread is good, and they enjoyed eating bread. Little by little, we saw that we needed to buy more bread. One day, a lady came to my wife and thanked her for the bread we had brought to them. The woman had had no food to give to their children. The Lord had provided bread through us. God was doing a work. Now, we go to this town constantly with bread. We never know how the Lord is using us in different ways.

The church is trying to meet many needs all around us. The world is ignoring the people who are in need. Many times, the people in need are rejected by the world. Many times, sadly, we, as believers, take the same attitude toward the people in need, even though we recognize we must reach out to those in need. We forget. We do not give.

Pastor Mark read two verses in Ruth 2. Ruth is a book which speaks about the compassion of the Lord. Ruth describes the attitude people have in response to people in need. In this book, we see two attitudes toward such people.

People reject others in need. The story of Ruth starts with sadness. And the Lord allows us to read this narrative, because He wants to show us the attitude we normally have toward people in need. We read in this book that the husbands of Ruth and Naomi had died. They were widows in a foreign land. They had no hope to survive there.

They decided to go back to Israel — to Naomi’s people. Naomi’s people were GOD’S people. God is a God of compassion. She thought she would be received compassion from her own people. God’s law told the people to help the widows.

Ruth and Naomi arrived among Naomi’s people, who were surprised to see them. Ruth and Naomi were extremely poor. They were hungry. Their clothes may have been in poor repair. Naomi called herself by the name of Mara (“bitterness”). But her name also meant “God is my rest.” These ideas are contradictory.

The Lord reminds us that the world is cruel and cold. Her situation was extremely sad. Her neighbors didn’t show much compassion to her. The world is uncertain and can be unsafe. We, as believers, too, sometimes have that attitude toward others in need. Our comfortable lives in the material realm remind us that we need to share with others. We have been made in the image of the Lord; therefore, we are called to demonstrate and manifest the character and compassion of God. We supposed to show compassion to others.

The Lord is calling us to be compassionate to others materially and spiritually. The world without Christ produces people in extreme need. When the groups from United States churches come to Costa Rica, we take them to listen in the homes of Costa Rican families. Those families express over and over again their requests for God’s favor on their fishing, on their job searches, on some material need from God.

But with these groups on these visits, I was impacted by the additional requests of the people. These people also asked for prayer for their spiritual well-being, or touching the hearts of sons involved in drug addiction, or the hearts of their marriages with the problems in their marriages. They are making spiritual, not material, requests of God. The Lord has worked in their hearts to see their spiritual needs.

Let us talk now about God’s attitude toward humanity. All of us are in need before God, and He shows His compassion toward us. He is full of compassion. But we perceive Him too often to be angry with us. In this book, we see God is full of compassion and love, giving generously to us.

Every time I go visit homes in Costa Rica, I see and hear how God is working in those communities. If the book of Ruth would have finished with Ruth and Naomi in the midst of their poverty, there would have been no hope, but the Lord manifested help through Ruth.

The hope is that God never abandons His people. God reminds us that, even though the world has no hope — and the world has nothing good to offer — He is in the midst of the need and hope. He shares his grace, in spite of our fallen world.

There are people who imagine God as a man who follows them with a stick, striking them with the stick. The Scriptures describe God in a much different way.

Jesus came. The word became flesh. And we saw His glory! That’s wonderful! More exciting is that the glory of God came to this world! We see His glory — full of grace and truth — grace upon grace! That’s the God we preach! That’s the God who motivates us to go all around the world to bring hope to those who are fallen.

In spite of Ruth’s reality and difficulty, God was with God and her difficulty. This is the message for you. If you are involved with drugs or alcohol or situations with which you are struggling, God can help you out. Ruth did not get help from her neighbors, but God came to help her [through Boaz]. This is a message of hope for us!

Throw all of your needs before the throne of grace, because He will listen and respond to you! As the neighbors of Naomi were doing nothing to help her, God was going many things to help Naomi. This is one of the main messages of Ruth. A fallen world rejects God. But, at the same time, there is a God full of compassion and care for His people. God prepared the man Boaz to help Ruth and Naomi.

Jesus Christ is bigger than Boaz! He is the God of help, hope, and love! Boaz was a type of Jesus Christ. Boaz was commissioned by the Lord — sent by His Father — to fulfill all of Ruth and Naomi’s needs. Jesus Christ came to die and pay for all of our sins before the father — completely — giving us hope in a new life for His glory! This is Jesus Christ — full of hope, life, and power! Boaz told his employees to protect Ruth while she was working all day in his fields. He instructed his employees to drop some of the grain for Ruth.

This is an example of how the Lord blesses our lives. How much has the Lord blessed you in your life? How has the Lord provided in your life? He drops little blessings to us every day.

Ruth collected grain in her basket for another. God expressed action toward Ruth, but Ruth shared her compassion with her mother-in-law Naomi.

Isn’t it true that the Lord blesses us to be a blessing to others?! Yes, this is part of His covenant. The Lord told Abraham he would blessed, so he could bless others. The light has come to us for the light to shine through us to the world!

Be light for others! You are the light of this world! And this light must shine and proclaim the Gospel! The Lord tells us to go to all nations and proclaim this truth. Carry the Lord’s light to the darkness of this world!

Late at night, Ruth arrived home after working in Boaz’s field. She had received an amazing blessing. She had received from the man named Boaz. Naomi responded by indicating that Ruth had been blessed by Boaz.

Every morning, we must lift up our hearts and offer thanks for the blessings sent to us by God through Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who sends us — the light — into the darkness — to shine. We do not deserve that compassion or grace from God. We must come to Him and thank Him for His compassion.

Are you thankful to the Lord for your blessings? Are you aware you are to reflect the Lord’s character to others? How are you reaching out to others in need — not only to provide for material needs, but, especially for the spiritual needs of others?

We have no doubt that the Lord is compassionate.

Let me finish with a passage from Matthew 9. The fields were ready to be harvested. Those fields were the people He was looking upon with compassion. He saw the people in need — sheep without shepherds. In the midst of the darkness, He felt compassion for them. That’s the same compassion the Lord has every single moment toward you and toward me.

He’s asking us to put our eyes on the people with needs, so we can see — through His eyes — the compassion and love which is necessary for ministry.

The book of Ruth ends wonderfully. Ruth married Boaz. And they are part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. So, we are a part of that genealogy! The Lord is calling us to show compassion to others. We see darkness and people rejected. But, by God’s grace, we can see how He is working the light into the darkness. This is the joy of seeing Him work.

The world had always been living in darkness, but yhe arrival of Jesus Christ brought light to darkness. We are blessed by Jesus Christ, so we can bless others.

Let’s pray. . . .

“Proverbs: God’s Wisdom for Life” (August 24, 2018)

Dr. Sam Barfell led Southside Christian All-Employee Devotions on Friday, taking his text from the Proverbs, on August 24, 2018. If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Barfell’s devotional, please read on. . . .

“Proverbs: God’s Wisdom for Life”

By Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent

Southside Christian School

Friday, August 24, 2018

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

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted. 

I love Fridays. I love Fridays because we get to gather for a few minutes to consider God’s Word.

I have sensed, since Day 1 of in-service, a fresh working of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s just what the Spirit is doing in my heart, but I pray it’s something that is happening in all of us. We have pushed the re-set button here in August! We have had an amazing start to the school year. It started so smoothly. You know there’s going to be a wrinkles, but the year seems to have started seamlessly. God is doing something fresh among us, and I am very excited about that.

Here is a photograph of Lance Corporal John Ehr training in Michigan. Paul sent me this photograph. We thank him for his service.

Today, you will find a copy of the book by Tim and Kathy Keller in your mailbox. The Kellers go deep in God’s Wisdom for Life. We’re going to go topic-by-topic, rather than verse-by-verse.

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The three key words are fear, beginning, and knowledge.

In the beginning, GOD!  The fear and awe and reverence for God is the main thing!

I made three points in my initial devotional about the Proverbs:

  1. We choose to put God in His proper place—or not.
  2. There is something that comes before knowledge. The fear of the Lord comes before knowledge.
  3. True knowledge comes from God. All truth is God’s truth. If it is true, it is from God.

Proverbs 19:3

When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

We rest in God in spite of our troubles.

Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.

God is a good God. We know who He is. We put Him in His proper place.

What is wisdom?

Proverbs 1:1-5

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance. . . .

 

Solomon started the book of Proverbs with an explanation for his reason in writing the Proverbs.

What is a Proverb?

“A poetic, terse, vivid, thought-provoking saying that conveys a world of truth in a few words.” (Tim and Kathy Keller)

Proverbs are observations of how life works.

We need to get rightly related to reality — God’s truth and God’s world — through hard thinking and sustained reflection.

We have to understand the context topic-by-topic.

We’re going to continue to think about wisdom next week.

Dr. Barfell prayed to close the devotional.

“Renewal”

During the separate middle school and high school chapels on Thursday, August 23, 2018, Southside Christian School Campus Pastor Colin Urbanick exhorted the audiences to “be renewed” during the 2018-2019 school year. If you would like to read my summary of the chapel activities, “Renewal,” please read on. . . .

“Renewal”

By Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor and Director of Discipleship

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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

High School Bible Teacher Ryan Donell led the Middle School Chapel audience in a time of praise and worship.

For the High School Chapel, Upper School Choir Director Fred Barrett (on keyboard and back-up vocals), High School Mathematics Instructor Brad Scott (on percussion), and High School French Teacher Brett Hutchinson (on guitar and lead vocals) led worship at the beginning of the High School Chapel.

Pastor Colin welcomed the students to the first chapel of the 2018-2019 school year.

Pastor Colin

We get to pause each and every week to worship the Creator of the universe as a community of believers, talking about His truths.

I grew up going to a public school. As a Christian, I felt isolation in my walk of faith. It’s a privilege to walk the journey of Christian faith with other Christians. You’re getting excellent instruction in your classes, and there is something special about all being in the same room, hearing the Word of God during chapels.

I can sense a different spirit to this school year. I can see it in you and our staff and faculty as well. This is going to be an amazing time on Thursday mornings.

We will take time to pause now and pray, and we will worship once again.

Pastor Colin prayed.

We stood and sang together again.

At this point, during the Middle School Chapel, Mr. Donell prayed as a bridge from the time of worship through song to the time of worship through the hearing of God’s Word.

At this point, during the High School Chapel, Mr. Barrett prayed as a bridge from the time of worship through song to the time of worship through the hearing of God’s Word.

Pastor Colin

We gather on Thursdays for Chapels, and we gather in small groups on Thursdays as well.

Three words characterize what we do on those days:

We SUPPORT each other. We rejoice with those who rejoice. We mourn with those who mourn. We need each other. We walk through life together. You were not meant to do the Christian life alone.

We also STIR each other up. We can get stagnant in our belief. We spur each other on.

And, finally, we are SENT people. Each of us have spheres of influence in our different homes, neighborhoods, and communities —where we can be change agents for Jesus.

Those of you in the high school who want to stay committed to small groups will be in your same small groups, but we want to get the rest of you to commit to small groups in a Google Doc.

In the next couple weeks, we’re going to come together in small groups as a part of our Fall Spiritual Life Conference. We’ll enjoy an atmosphere of camaraderie. This year, Schofield Foster is coming from Grace Church on Pelham Road for the Middle School Chapel. [Nathan Forrest will be speaking at Brookwood Church for the Fall High School Spiritual Life Conference.]. We’ll also participate in field day games; we’re super-pumped about those activities. It will be an amazing, awesome time. There will be awesome competition.

I’ve asked Mary Elizabeth Baumgarten, the Student Body Chaplain, to share her vision for the school

Mary Elizabeth

You can call me M.E.B. I’ve been here since my ninth grade year. Now, I’m a senior. We do a good job of pursuing our academics at Southside Christian, but a lot of us struggle following God spiritually. My hope for the school year is for all of us to grow in our pursuit of God. We need to talk about God with each other, particularly in small groups. We need to know God on a personal level, experiencing joy in that relationship. If you have questions, see me any time. Thank you for the privilege of being your Chaplain this year.

Mary Elizabeth prayed for the middle school students.

Pastor Colin

For this high school chapel, I want to introduce your high school chaplains for the school year: Jake Evans, Ninth Grade; Ashton Becks, Sophomore Chaplain; Sam Davis, Junior Chaplain; Harrison McDermott, Senior Class Chaplain; and Mary Beth Baumgarten, Student Body Chaplain.

Each of the chaplains had the opportunity to make some quick comments about their hopes and visions for the new school year. All were well-spoken.

Pastor Colin

These people are truly advocates for you spiritually. You may want their help in starting a Bible study.

Mary Elizabeth prayed for the high school students.

Pastor Colin

I want to talk about our theme for the year.

But let me introduce myself to you first. I was born and raised in Naperville, Illinois — Chicagoland. When I was in college, I met my wife, Lauryn. She is an amazing woman, an incredible life partner. However, every relationship has some sort of tension. One unique point of tension for Lauryn and me is garbage. We fight about garbage. She likes to take garbage and turn it into something new. To give her credit, she’s really good at it. However, some of the garbage she brings home never becomes something new. I see that old furniture as never amounting to anything. My wife is excited about rescuing the garbage, so it will be renewed and become something beautiful.

That’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about this year — RENEWAL. God sees us on the side of the road — damaged, beat-up — turning us into something brand-new. We will be renewed into what we were intended to be.

Renewal will be the topic of our chaplains and Spiritual Life Conference speakers from the book of Titus. Paul was writing a letter to Titus in this epistle. Paul had been a piece of junk. God renewed him.

Titus 3:3

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (English Standard Version)

He’s not painting a very good picture of what people were like. We were garbage.

Then, Paul used a key word next: “But. . . .”

Titus 3:4-7

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (ESV)

That’s a huge chunk of Scripture which has so much in it. Today, I want to focus on on the words of regeneration and renewal.

When Paul uses these words, he means that things would be restored to their original pristine condition. God doesn’t throw beat up and junky things into the garbage; He restores the junk into something new. God wants to make all of us someone who is brand-new.

I think I’ve officially entered “old man” status. I really like to garden. I garden in boxes on the balcony of our apartment. I planted plants. They were beautiful. I was doing an awesome job. I was watering them every day. The plants were lush and thriving. Eventually, I forgot about the flowers. Things got hot in the summer. The plants started to wither. One day of forgetting turned into 2 days — and, then, into a week. I knew I needed to water the flowers and plants, but I had other things to do. The plants wilted to the point of no return. I poured water on dead plants. What happened? No matter how much water I poured onto them, it didn’t work. The plants were dead. I gave up on them.

Paul would take totally dead “plants” and ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit on the “plants,” bringing them back to life.

This theme of renewal is so important to me. We can get stale in our relationship with God. We put God on the back burner. Or we’ve been wounded, and we turn our backs on God. We are “dead.”

So here’s my question:

What are areas of your life where God needs/wants to breathe renewal in your life?

My wife and I went to Bryce Canyon National Park with heavy backpacks for a three- to four-day hike. This is a beautiful place in Utah. The journey is beautiful. You are filled with awe about God’s creation. You start high and go low. You think it’s easy. The backpacks are heavy, though. And the packs begin to feel like they are a million pounds.

There are so many areas of our lives in which we believe wrongly about God. Things in our lives add to our burdens. Following Jesus may become a “burden.” You can’t carry the burden on your own anymore. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden light. He calls us to stop trying to renewing ourselves in our own strength. God is the only means for renewal. The Holy Spirit renews.

My second question for you:

What are areas God wants to renew your understanding of Him?

What are areas of your life in which you want to see God renew in your life? Are you trying to be renewed through your own power? What excess weights are creating burdens on your life?

God wants to breathe new life into each of us. Some of us don’t have a relationship with Him. Some of us who follow Jesus need new life to be breathed into us.

Let’s close in prayer. . . .

 

Opening Prayer of the 2018-2019 School Year!

The first day of the 2018-2019 school year at Southside Christian School in Simpsonville, South Carolia — Thursday, August 16, 2018 — included shortened periods and a 12:30 p.m. dismissal.  So I stayed off the announcement airwaves and prayed on August 17th instead.  If you’re interested in the content of my prayer, read on. . . .

Good morning.  This is Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal.

It is only right and fitting to start a new school year at our Christian school with prayer.

Let’s pray.

Father God, we come before you with a wide variety of emotions.

Some of us are saddened — the summer vacation is over, and we enjoyed our time with friends and family.

Some of us are sleepy.  We’re not used to starting our days so early.  We enjoyed our summer freedoms.

Some of us are anxious.  A new year brings unknowns, and we are so apt to settle in our comfort zones.

Some of us are even relieved. Life at home can be tumultuous, and school is actually a refuge for us on a daily basis.

Hopefully, Lord, most of us are excited — excited about this new beginning and all of the possibilities of a new year.

Lift our spirits, Lord!  In your strength and power, we can do this!  We can excel still further!  We can bring You honor and glory through our achievements this year!

Help all of us to be more kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.

Make us servants one to another.

Be with our students, as they represent You and our school in the community.  In particular, we ask that you would keep all of our football players free of major injury tonight.  May they play with tremendous effort against Charlotte Latin.

Our prayer is the same for our volleyball players, swimmers, cross country runners, and golfers.

May all of our students be great ambassadors for Jesus Christ!

Keep everyone in our entire student body physically strong, mentally strong, emotionally strong, and spiritually strong.

God, for those who do not know Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Savior, draw those students to Yourself.  Rescue them!  Redeem them!  Make them Your children, Lord!

For those who do know You, who do believe in You, and who do follow Jesus, grow them more and more into the likeness of Your Son.

Lord, we commit ourselves, our work, and our school more fully TO YOU.

Please give us humility, God.  We are living sacrifices.  Keep us from crawling off Your altar.

We look forward to how you are going to work in and through us this year.

And WHEN — not IF — you do work in and through us this year — we will be careful to give You — and You alone —  all praise and honor and glory!

AMEN!

Make it a great 2018-2019 school year, Upper School!

“Abiding and Working”

I had the distinct privilege and responsibility to open up the Word of God for Eastside Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday, August 5, 2018.  If you would like to read my exposition of John 14:7-14, “Abiding and Working,” please read on. . . .

“Abiding and Working”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Elder

Eastside Presybterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, August 5, 2018

TEXT:

John 14:7-14

7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[a] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[b] anything in my name, I will do it.

Footnotes:
a       John 14:7 Or If you know me, you will know my Father also, or If you have known me, you will know my Father also
b       John 14:14 Some manuscripts omit me

OPENING:

I hold in my hand one of my most treasured possessions.  This 27-year-old handwritten note from my daughter Molly means the world to me.

In 1991, Cheryl, Molly, and I had returned to Iowa City from San Diego after the Holiday Bowl football game.  The better bowls (like Clemson always plays in) were in full gear, so, on that Saturday, I was ready to watch the best of college football.

But Molly wanted to watch her cartoons.  We were at a loggerhead.  Would the 32-year-old Dad or 5-year-old daughter carry the day?

I am ashamed to tell you I selfishly told Molly that I would be watching football.  After all, how could “Rugrats” compare to a great football game?!  I’d like to blame my poor attitude on the fact that I was not yet a follower of Jesus Christ, but I have to take full responsibility for simply being a selfish lout.

Molly was incensed, as you can imagine.  She stomped from the TV room to her bedroom and slammed the door in one of her rare fits of anger.  I completely forgot about her, as I was immersed in my football.  She was inside her room for what was probably 30 minutes, composing this note.

Upon completion of her communication, she thrust her bedroom door back open, stomped to the couch where I was reclining, threw the note on the floor by me, stomped back to her room, and once again slammed the door.

But I did not want to even acknowledge her note, and I kept right on watching the bowl game.

Cheryl had been running errands.  She walked in the front door.  She saw this piece of paper on the floor.  She picked it up, read the note, and started laughing almost uncontrollably.

“What?!  What does it say?!” I asked defensively.

She handed me the note from our precocious 5-year-old.

The note read, “To Dad, I can’t believe I still love you.  Molly.”

That signature story humbles me today.

What had I taught my daughter on that day?  I was self-absorbed.  I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it.

Was that the Christ-centered modeling she needed?  Of course not!

Should a parent want his child to be like him?  Yes!

In that moment, would I have wanted Molly to be like me?  No!

I have been an educator for 39 years.  Jesus once said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  (Luke 6:40, English Standard Version)

Molly needed me to be a more mature Dad at that point in 1991.  “A child is not above her father, but everyone when she is fully trained will be like her father.”

Today’s passage gives us the ultimate example of a child being like the Father.

Let me pray for illumination of this text today.

OPENING PRAYER:

Father God, I pray for your enlightenment today.  Your words, not my words.  Your greatest example – Jesus – not my example.  Holy Spirit, guide us in truth and transformation of our character today.  Amen.

EXPOSITION:

John 14:7-14 —

I could go in a number of different directions with this passage.

  1. We could consider the topic of respect for parental authority, or
  2. An analysis of faith and works, or
  3. Prayer and asking in Jesus’ name.

But I want to camp on two ideas today.

Number 1:  The abundant Christian life overflows from a great relationship with God, and

Number 2:  From this great relationship, you will perform great works of service to God’s honor and glory.

Think of your best friendship.

For those of you who are married, I hope that friendship is with your spouse.

Why is this friendship great?

Great relationships are a result of time being spent with each other.

You are intentional about making time for the other.

You give firstfruits of your energy and attention.

You listen.  You value the other person more than yourself.

The other person knows she or he is loved unconditionally.

We understand these truths when it comes to people, but we struggle when we think of our relationship with God.  We don’t spend enough time with Him.  We lack intentionality with Him.  We talk at Him more than we listen to Him.  We give leftover time, not firstfruits.

Who best exemplifies THE greatest relationship?  God, of course!  Always!

Jesus said to His disciples,

7 “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

The Bible uses 22 meanings for “know” in the New Testament.  The Greek root for “know” in this entire passage means, “Choice of good will — to approve of, to love, to care for.”  (Zodhiates, p. 323)

The naysayers did not know Jesus.  The naysayers did not show good will, approve of, love, nor care for Jesus!  Because they did not know Him, they also did not know Father God.  Jesus told them that He would reveal Himself to them, and, by so doing, he would be revealing the very identity of the Father!

Philip responded,

“Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Philip believed he could “know” the Father if Jesus would show them the Father.

Philip wanted a physical manifestation of the Father.  Ironically, that physical manifestation was standing right in front of him!

Jesus responded to Philip:

“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but [by] the Father. . . .”

Jesus was surprised that Philip has been engaged in ministry with Him for 3 years, and he still did not know Jesus intimately enough.  But Jesus used this as a teachable moment.  Jesus offered a rhetorical question:  “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the father is in me?”

On earth, Jesus was IN THE FATHER and the Father was IN HIM.

What’s that all about?

Think ahead about what Jesus would say in John 15:5:

“I am the vine; you [disciples] are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John the Apostle also used the word, abiding, repeatedly in his first epistle.

Abiding.  Abiding is one of my favorite words, a word seldom used outside of the Christian vernacular.

“Abiding” communicates a super strong connection between two entities.

In John 15, Jesus talked about all of us as His branches tapping fully into Him, the vine.  We abide in Him, and we bear much spiritual fruit.  Apart from Jesus, we can do NOTHING.  That’s definitive.

Of course, Jesus is THE example, as always.  He abided in his relationship with His Father, and He bore MUCH fruit.

The Son intentionally got alone with and abided in the Father — often early in the morning.

Whoever had seen Him had seen the Father!

He was IN THE FATHER, and the Father was IN HIM.

Jesus spoke not of His own authority.  He spoke from the authority of His Father.  He spoke out of the abiding relationship He actively sought with the Father.

Jesus understood that His most important relationship was with the Father.

We, too, must understand that our most important relationship is with God.

Jesus abided in the Father.

We must abide in Christ.  Abiding is the foundation upon which every other aspect of the Christian life finds abundance.

The “1st 15″ devotional captures this effective truth for us:  Until we gain an understanding of the immense value and availability of encountering God, we will never consistently spend time alone with God — not just asking Him for things, but, according to Mother Teresa, “putting ourselves in His hands at His disposition, and listening to his voice.” (emphasis added)  Then, we can enjoy a great relationship with Him and an abundant Christian life.

We were made for relationship with our heavenly Father!  Jeremiah the Prophet captured this great truth, recorded in Chapter 24, verse 7:  “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

We are children of a loving God, a God who is desperately jealous for the entirety of our hearts!  God longs for our lives on earth to IMPACT ETERNITY!

God loves unconditionally.  The Father sent His Son to die for us!  We must die to self to love God and others unconditionally.  Only in dying to self will He mold our will to His will, matching his perfect plan for us.  Only then can we love others unconditionally.

So Point #1 again: “The abundant Christian life overflows from a great relationship with God.

Such brings me to my second point today:

From this great relationship, we will perform great works of service to God’s honor and glory.

I am a big Experiencing God guy.  Some of you have probably completed this lengthy Bible study by Henry Blackaby and Claude King.  I HIGHLY recommend the study to you, if you have a desire to experience dramatic spiritual growth.

The first two points of Experiencing God mirror my two points today.

Abide in Christ.  As we are abiding, we should look to see where God is working, and join Him in the work. GOD’S work!  Not OUR work!  GOD’S work!

During His earthly ministry,

  • Jesus thought exactly as the Father thought.
  • Jesus spoke exactly as the Father would have spoke.
  • Jesus worked exactly as the Father would have worked.

Jesus was so in tune with the Father – and He was so focused on serving others – He perfectly completed all of the work assignments given to Him by His Father.

Here, in John 14:12, Jesus promises we will perform greater works than He performed.

Greater works than His?!

I have always had a difficult time wrapping my mind around John 14:12.  But I must believe Jesus will make a way for all of us to obey His command:

He said, in verse 12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

How will we do greater works than He?

  • By approaching Him with humility and brokenness.
  • By believing in Him.
  • By believing in His power.
  • By asking in His name.
  • By being perfectly in the will of God.
  • By praying, as Jesus prayed, “Not MY will, but the Father’s will be done.”

I must delight myself in the Lord, so He will give me the desires of my heart.  When the desires of my heart are in perfect sync with the desires of God’s heart, He will give me what I want, BECAUSE. . .IT’S. . .WHAT. . .HE. . .WANTS!

Our problem is that we view God as a cosmic vending machine, asking in our name, given our desires – which often has absolutely nothing to do with God’s desires.

Jesus said, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

We all know works which can only be credited to God.

  • Healing the sick
  • Giving sight to the blind
  • Restoring sound to the deaf
  • Raising the dead

Doing greater works than Jesus does not necessarily mean we will perform greater miracles.

Based on my study, I believe doing greater works means we can, as the body of Christ, contribute to even greater expansion of God’s Kingdom

We know we can be agents of God’s great work.

Again, the “1st 15″ devotional fleshes out this truth:  “The poor, orphaned, widowed, and lost don’t just need a word from God.  They need us to act on our beliefs  and to love and to serve selflessly with the help of the Holy Spirit. . .If we are to receive all that God has for us, if we are to walk in the abundant life God intends” — if we are to do greater works than Jesus — “we must resolve to be doers of the Word.”  The power of God’s love comes through ACTION!

After one sermon by Peter, recorded in Acts, more people believed and started following Jesus than all who had been converted during 3 years of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Jesus said it was to our advantage for Him to go back to heaven, so He could send the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit would equip us to expand His Kingdom, doing “even greater things” than He.

QUOTE:

The great British preacher Charles Spurgeon made a powerful observation about Jesus — a quote found in your bulletin today:

“. . .now that he has gone up on high, [the disciple of Jesus Christ] does greater wonders. . .than he himself personally did, for he said to a few poor fishermen, “Go and break up the Roman Empire,” and they did it. They preached the gospel, and the gods of the heathen that sat upon their thrones for ages were cast to the moles and the bats. And there are greater victories yet before the Church of God. You ought not to measure our passage by the past, but believe that “greater works than these shall ye do, because I go unto my Father.”

Jesus gives the power to transform lives.

Those of you who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior of your lives – I could ask you to come forward and testify about how He has changed – and hopefully He is continuing to help you change – your lives

Jesus calls us to abide, seek, ask, find, receive, work, and glorify!

  • Abide in Christ as Christ abided in the Father. Be intentional about meeting him daily, moment-by-moment.
  • Seek. Come to Jesus with POSITIVE EXPECTANCY!  Hunger and thirst for His righteousness!  Clothe yourself every day in the knowledge of who you are in Christ!
  • Ask in prayer. Ask in Jesus’ name.  Pray without ceasing.
  • Find. You will find Him when you seek Him.
  • Receive. Receive what He has to offer!  “And because you are sons [and daughters], God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ so you are no longer a slave but a son [or daughter], and. . .then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:6-7)
  • Work for Him.
  • Glorify Him! In John 17:4, Jesus said to His Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

Faith in Jesus saves. It is only faith in Jesus that saves, not faith in faith, nor faith in works, nor faith in the law. We believe in, follow, and have faith in Jesus. And that faith is counted to us as righteousness.

But faith without works is dead. Works will flow out of faith and a desire — not a duty — to honor and glorify God.

In John 8, verses 50 and 54, the Apostle recorded Jesus’ words:

“. . .I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. . . . If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing.  It is my Father who glorifies me. . . .”

Jesus’ glory is NOTHING compared to the Father’s glory?!

Jesus did not seek His own glory!

God the Father sought His own glory, and Jesus reflected that glory to Him, when completing the Father’s work.

God alone deserves all glory and honor and praise!

This is a good place for me to promote a 6-week adult Sunday school class I will be facilitating this fall.  Please join us when we explore how vocational work must bring honor and glory to the Lord.  The Hebrew root for WORK is the same root for the word, WORSHIP (avodah).  We must work in the marketplace as an act of worship to the Lord.

Let’s close today.

CLOSING:

For 36 years, I did not know what I did not know.  I was churched, but I was not a Christian.  I did not know what it meant to “follow Jesus.”

The first 12 years of our marriage were terrible, because we were unequally yoked, and I did not understand my biblical responsibilities to Cheryl.  I was a bad husband.  She could have divorced me.

But, then, God!  God got ahold of me through my first study of His Word!

Jesus redeemed me!  I became a follower of Jesus Christ!!

Jesus redeemed our marriage, and we celebrate our 36th year this coming Tuesday, August 7th!

Jesus redeemed my strained relationship with Molly when she was a 9th grader — that 5-year-old who said she could not believe she still loved me!

God kept loving me, and He brought me into His Kingdom on earth — to help increase the number of those who claim Him as Lord!

Jesus lived a sinless life.  He suffered on the cross.  He absorbed the wrath of God.  Jesus died.  But he rose again from the dead!  He conquered death, so WE could conquer death!

But we must declare Him Lord and Savior of our lives to experience everlasting life.

As Mark said last week, we must know and believe He is the only way, the only truth, the only source of life everlasting.

Do you know that truth today?

Do you believe that truth today?

If you have never considered that truth — like I had never considered the truth for the first 36 years of my life — is this the day that the Holy Spirit is calling you to know and believe?!

I pray that it will be so!

That’s the Gospel!

And the Gospel changes everything!

Let’s pray. . .

CLOSING PRAYER:

Lord, most people in this room would say You are Lord and Savior of their lives.

But if there is even one man, woman, or child who will, today, newly declare Jesus as Lord of his or her life, we will rejoice!

We praise You, God, for salvation!

Help us, God, to abide in You — and to do Your work for Your honor and glory!

Amen!

RESOURCES:

“1st 15″ devotional.

Guzik, David.

Spurgeon, Charles H.

Zodhiates, Spiros.  The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (1993).