Monthly Archives: January 2019

“Worship”

On Thursday, January 31, 2019, the middle school small groups and high school small groups of Southside Christian School gathered with their leaders to discuss the Word and theologies of “worship.”  If you would like to read the outline of small group questions for that day, “Worship,” please read on. . . .

Small Group Questions

Thursday, January 31, 2019

“Worship”

 

Starting Off:

  1. What are some of the highlights/lowlights since we last met?
  2. How would those closest to you answer this question about you: What needs to change most about you?

 

Discover:

  1. Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “All of life is worship, we are ALWAYS worshiping”. Why, or why not?
  2. What is worship? How would you define it?
  3. Have someone read OR paraphrase Mark 7:18-23. What does this passage tell us about worship? What is Jesus saying that people might worship in this passage?

(Leader Note: We were all created to worship something. We were made to adore, to long for, to delight in, to desire. What we desire, delight in, adore, and long for tells us about what we worship in this life. When we worship something other than God we believe that ​thing/person will offer what we are looking for.

  1. Why do people worship anything other than God?

 

Nurture:

  1. What are things that people tend to worship in life?
  2. If we are being 100% honest, what are some things WE tend to worship?
  3. What are ways that we can worship God?

 

Act:

  1. Take some time as a small group to ask the question: “What would it look like for my life to start worshiping God more fully?”
  2. Pray as a group that God would transform your heart to want to worship Him!

“There Is Real Power in You”

On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Eastside Presbyterian Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth delivered a sermon message on the prominence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If you would like to read my summary of Pastor Mark’s message, “There Is Real Power in You,” please read on. . . .
“There Is Real Power in You”
From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series from the Book of John
By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Quote of the Week:
“‘Those who dance are thought mad by those who hear not the music.’ That old adage is certainly true of those who walk to the beat of God’s drum. When you take your cues from the Holy Spirit, you’ll do some things that will make people think you’re crazy. So be it. Obey the whisper and see what God does.” (Mark Batterson, in Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God)
Scripture of the Week:
5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:5-11, English Standard Version)
Summary of and Editorializing of Bob Stouffer (All errors are mine alone.)
The disciples had walked with Jesus for years. They may not have been afraid when He was confronted by the religious leaders in Jerusalem [shortly before His death]. As long as they were with Jesus, things were going to be okay [in their minds].
He told them He was leaving. He was going away? What?! He was the future of their hopes. They believed He would rise up and declare His Kingship. Now, He said he was going somewhere. Where was He going?!
Jesus washed their feet, and He taught them. He was leaving. He gave more details of his departure in this passage. The Helper would come. That must have sounded strange. The Helper? Who was that? When would He come? Of course, He means the Holy Spirit.
Why would He have to leave for the Holy Spirit to come? It’s about the Kingdom of God. The disciples were to go to all of the world. As a man, Jesus could only be in one place. He could only be in one physical place at once. The disciples would reach people in the ends of the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit would go with them. His presence would live IN EACH DISCIPLE.
Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit indwells us. His Spirit’s presence would be so much better than His physical presence on earth. Your body is a temple of the Spirit. The Spirit: Mediator. Advocate. Defender. Intercessor. Helper. Counselor. Protector. This is what the Spirit of God does in us to advance His Kingdom. He goes with us on that mission.
Look at three things the Spirit does in this passage:
THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTS THE WORLD OF. . .
  1. SIN,
  2. RIGHTEOUSNESS, and
  3. JUDGMENT.
SIN
Sin is being in revolt with God. The world did not believe in Jesus. Conviction brings revelation of sin. The Spirit exposes the moral condition of revolt against God. This is the Holy Spirit’s work — conviction of sin. We are all revolting against God, but we will not understand it unless they Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our sin.
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost. Peter told the people about Jesus. He concluded his sermon with all of the elements of the Gospel. When they heard, “they were cut to the heart.” Their guilt was exposed. And 3,000 put their faith in Jesus Christ! It was the Spirit descending upon them — the preaching of God’s Word — which exposed darkness in them — and all of us today.
We don’t like being exposed to our darkness. We like to think of sin in general terms. We make “mistakes.” We’re “not perfect.” With all of us, we don’t want to go to our darkest places individually or in our relationships, especially in our marriages. We don’t like our our darkness to be exposed.
But that’s the very best thing which can happen to us, Dave McCarty, one of my mentors, has written. Our biggest need is dependency upon Jesus. Our desire should be for Jesus, not other people or things. We are so self-deceived about our “badness.” We are too often followers of ourselves, not Jesus. With big failure, all we have left is Jesus. They Spirit convicts us of our replacing Jesus with other things. Without the Spirit’s work, none of us would see our sin at all.
RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Spirit convicts us for righteousness’ sake. We too often see God as a police officer condemning us — or a prosecuting attorney attempting to prove His case; He is out to get us. We’re trying to show our innocence, especially to everyone around us. But none of us is really “innocent,” are we?
That’s what Jesus is talking about here. We need perfection. We got perfection — through Jesus’ sinless life and intercession for us on the cross. Jesus lived 33 years. He made billions of conscious decisions in perfect sync with the Father. He loved His Father. He loved others. He always did the right thing. He always obeyed His Father.
This is what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is the friendly prosecuting attorney. Jesus gave His life for His people. He became sin that we might receive the righteousness of God. Jesus came to free us from ourselves. If it isn’t setting your free, it isn’t Jesus. Are you living in condemnation and guilt and fear? It isn’t Jesus! You can be freed! Jesus saves! He frees! He frees those who are bound.
So why are we so afraid to show our brokenness to people, when that isn’t who we are at all? We are new creatures in Christ. Why do we hide and excuse and deflect our brokenness. We must witness people from our weakness and Christ’s strengths. I need a Savior. He lives in me. He reminds me that I am righteous in the sight of Jesus. He went to the cross because He loves me! This is the work of the Spirit in us. Why run from the crud? You should see the lust in my heart — the envy of others. Let’s confess our sin. We are loved.
JUDGMENT
He will convict the world in judgment. The ruler of this world is judged and found wanting. Our enemy lost victory at the cross. He is doomed for sure. He will not have a friendly prosecuting attorney on his side. The righteous judge will throw him into the lake of fire.
Yet we follow after him too often. How? The ruler of this world — his way is success, self-reliance, putting needs over others, stinginess, self-aggrandizement, projecting no brokenness. Why do we do these things? We’re desperate to hide our brokenness. We manage the best versions of ourselves,
Ben Affleck, the actor, has said. He’s a “relentless striver” to show he has “the right to be there” [as one of the best actors in Hollywood]. There is no peace with the ruler of this world. A little more success and money and things of this world is what we desire.
This does not have to be our way. The better way is the way of the cross. Jesus took our penalty on the cross. He sets us free on his way. We can’t get it right all of the time. Acknowledging that frees us. Success is not about our value or significance, but His glory and whatever He wants.
This affects how we witness to others. Again, we should witness from a position of brokenness in us, pointing out all of the good things OF CHRIST. People are drawn to those who are honest. If you haven’t been freed by Jesus, you don’t have much to share. My encouragement to all of us is spending time with Jesus, so we know He loves us. And, then, go out and share that freedom and love and joy.
This is what the Spirit does.
It’s the Gospel.
And the Gospel changes everything.

“Power and Control”

On Friday, January 25, 2019, Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent of Southside Christian School, continued his exposition of the Proverbs during All-Employee Devotions. If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Barfell’s devotions, “Power and Control,” please read on. . . .

“Power and Control”

By Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent

All-Employee Devotions

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Friday, January 25, 2019

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

It’s Friday again!

Congratulations to Calvin Rollins, SCS Class of 2016, son of Johnettte; he got engaged over Christmas!

Colby Boggs, son of Paul and Christy, also got engaged!

My daughter Elyse and her fiancée Brandon [recently engaged] are here with us today!

We’re in the book of Proverbs. It’s difficult task for teaching and learning with 10 minutes on Fridays once a week.

Let’s review.

We must know God, know wisdom, and know our hearts.

We are in the section of “reordering our desires.”

Today, I would like to talk about power and control.

POWER

Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches.  (English Standard Version)

Proverbs 24:5

A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might. . . . (ESV)

Power is a “God substitute.” We must not have an inordinate pursuit of power.

There is a contrast in these two Proverbs.

Seizing though sheer strength is inordinate power. Ruthless people serve themselves through power.

Kind people act in the benefit of others. Kind people serve others.

Argumentative, hard-headed, egotistical people operate with attitudes of power.

Wisdom itself is the greatest strength.

When have you given up to someone with no expectation for return?

CONTROL

Proverbs 27:1

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.  (ESV)

 

A control addict’s nightmare is uncertainty.

The control addict boasts about tomorrow, with a need to control today.

People who operate with control manipulate, use guilt or pressure, and worry.

Do you get anxious when you lose control of situations?

Planning is not bad, bu an inordinate desire to control is sinful.

At our church, we just started a new series in our church (Grace). The pastors began with messages about idolatry.

These four issues are idols:

  • APPROVAL
  • COMFORT
  • POWER
  • CONTROL

This things can take precedence over God

Are any of these issues out-of-sync when you think of your relationship with the Father?

Jeremiah 2:11-13 reads,

11 Has a nation changed its gods,
    even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
    for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.  (ESV)

 

Approval, comfort, power, and control are cisterns which will not hold the Living Water.

John 4:13-15 —

13 Jesus said to her [the Samaritan woman at the well], “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  (ESV)

I love the words of Jesus. Jesus is the Living Water. He cannot be replaced with God substitutes.

“Our Lives as Missionaries”

On Thursday, January 24, 2019 — during International Festival Week at Southside Christian School in Simpsonville, South Carolina—the Middle School Chapel and High School Chapel centered on missions. All of us are commanded to be missionaries; some are called locally; others, internationally. If you would like to read and discuss the content of my chapel summary, “Our Lives as Missionaries,” please read on. . .

“Our Lives as Missionaries”

Middle School Chapel

High School Chapel

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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

Pastor Colin welcomed students to their first chapel of 2019. He observed that eighth graders are in their last semester of Middle School, and sixth graders are just starting their Middle School journeys. He said, “Today, we are taking some time to hear about missions. We want to acknowledge the diversity of God’s Kingdom — the cultures, colors, ethnicities, people, races, tribes, and tongues. Eternity will be diverse. And we all play a role in that as missionaries.”

Pastor Colin prayed to open the chapel.

At the start of the High School Chapel, High School Spanish Teacher Gladys Patino gave background of “Shout to the Lord!”

As an audience, we read aloud the words of “Shout to the Lord!”

In the High School Chapel, Gladys Patino’s high school Spanish students sang “Shout to the Lord” in Spanish.

At the start of the Middle School Chapel and High School Chapel, High School French Instructor Brett Henderson (guitar and vocals), senior Coby Greene (percussion), and senior Mary Elizabeth Baumgarten (keyboards and vocals) served as lead worshippers for the Middle School Chapel. We engaged in a time of worship through song.

At this point, Mr. Henderson prayed as a bridge between worship through song through the proclamation of Jesus Christ through the Word and testimony about missions.

Pastor Colin exhorted the students to think about our role as missionaries in the school, Greater Greenville, the U.S., and the world. God chose to bless people who could be a blessing to all corners of the earth. Pastor Colin talked about his experiences with mission work has been “a catalytic experience” in his life.

Pastor Colin referenced the Freedom International School in the Dominican Republic as our partner school internationally, where students will have the opportunity to minister to students in that country during their high school careers.

A video was played about Freedom School, featuring Director Jason Hilgeman’s narration and visual images of the students at the school. Personnel are discipling students for their 18,000 hours of K-12 education, reaching out to the villages to evangelize the country. Students are finding stability and love in an environment where they come to know the Lord.

During the High School Chapel, Latin Teacher Chelsea Brewer gave background about the Latin of “The Lord’s Prayer,” indicating that the words of language sometimes don’t move from the head to the heart. The meaning of words are sometimes lost in translation. Her students recited the prayer in Latin, and then the audience chorally read the prayer in English.

Upper School Teacher Mark Sandlin introduced information about teaching the international students when they enroll at the school. We have showcased the nations this week during an International Festival, including international food, a foreign film, and a program on Saturday night.

The need for international missions is real. Population is growing in the U.S. and world. Mr. Sandlin was a missionary in Thailand. Gods used books to lead Mr. Sandlin to the mission field — biographies of impactful missionaries. Mr. Sandlin didn’t consider himself adventurous, strong, clever, or athletic. But he can sing a bit and teach English, and those were his conduits for mission work.

Mr. Sandlin wanted to tell people about Jesus who had never heard about Jesus. He went young and single. He met his wife Pom there.  She also now works at Southside Christian in Early Education.

From memory, Mr. Sandlin recited a delightful poem with wide-ranging vocabulary and whimsy during Middle School Chapel. “There’s joy extraordinary” in Jesus Christ! He was a willing emissary for Jesus for many years.

“My Life As a  Missionary”

My life as a missionary

Really isn’t too contrary

Though I thought it might be scary

Every last Tom, Dick and Harry

Told me that I must be wary

The natives there are known to carry

Dysentery

And beriberi

And at times my life was solitary

I wondered if I’d ever marry

And some facts I found necessary

They hadn’t taught in seminary

It was a sad commentary

Especially how frágmentary

Was my small vocabulary

But I bought myself a dictionary

Christmas there isn’t quite so merry

Without snow flake or holly berry

But Thai cuisine is legendary

So I’m set in matters culinary.

And problems that are monetary

Don’t give me a coronary

OK—so I’m no William Carey

Life sometimes is sedentary

And sometimes it’s pretty hairy

But there’s joy extraordinary

When Jesus takes an ordinary

Thai man or woman’s sins to carry

By His death—substitutionary.

In short, I’ve really found it very

Grand to be God’s emissary

And when I die—if Christ should tarry

I’d just as soon they take and bury

Me in some Thai cemetery

My epitaph/obituary?–

“By God’s grace, a Missionary”

During High School Chapel, Mr. Sandlin read an excellent poem he had written from a one-line poem, “How Odd of God to Choose the Jews.” (He had written the poem within the past week.). God uses unique people to bless the world.

“How Odd of God to Choose the Jews”

How odd of God to choose the Jews

Those timid men with barren wives

Living out nomadic lives

Who’d follow God–but then refuse

How odd of God To choose the Jews

 

How odd of God to bless the Jews

To feed and clothe, heal their disease

To multiply their families

And still His grace they would abuse

How odd of God to bless the Jews

 

How odd of God to use the Jews

Speak through them as His substitutes

To teach the world His attributes

And still their many sins excuse?

How odd of God To use the Jews

 

How odd of God to use a Jew

A poor and ordinary man

To work out His eternal plan

To save the world through His own Son

And make us spokesmen every one

To share the good news we’ve received

With every tribe, so they’ll believe

Though we’re quite poor and helpless too

And even sinful, through and through!

How odd of God To use a Jew

And odder yet: use me, and you.

Mr. Sandlin read Scripture in the Thai language — then in English. We must be sent and go to bring the beautiful news of Jesus.

Romans 10:14-15 (Thai and English) says, 

แต่พวกที่ยังไม่เชื่อในพระองค์ จะทูลขอต่อพระองค์ได้อย่างไร? และพวกที่ยังไม่ได้ยินถึงพระองค์ จะเชื่อในพระองค์ได้อย่างไร? และเมื่อไม่มีผู้ประกาศ เขาจะได้ยินถึงพระองค์อย่างไร? และถ้าไม่มีใครใช้พวกเขาไป เขาจะไปประกาศได้อย่างไร? ตามที่มีคำเขียนไว้ในพระคัมภีร์ว่า “เท้าของคนเหล่านั้นที่นำข่าวดีมา ช่างงามจริงๆ หนอ”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

His children hold dual citizenship. “That’s cool, but what’s more cool is that many Thai people came to know the Lord as Savior.” His wife shared Christianity with her family, and all of the family came to know Christ as Lord. Just this week, beloved relatives prayed to receive Christ. The blessings of God come from one person to another.

Mr. Sandlin wondered whether someone in this room might become a missionary.

Pastor Colin had asked three students to share testimonies of their work as missionaries.

Zoe Verostek, a senior, spoke about her experiences with four mission trips to Cuba, Mexico, and the Czech Republic twice. She had taught English in a local school, helping local missionaries to connect with students. Her parents were initially unsure about the experience, due to the international travel [understandably for a first-time experience].  She said the trip completely changed her life. She wants to be a doctor who shows God’s love with everyone around her. She enjoys the relationships with fellow missionaries and those to whom she ministers. She still stays in contact with people from her mission trips. Change can occur even in one day or one week. People appreciate that missionaries come from around the world to spend time with them. She said mission trips have shaped who she is as a person and who she will become in the future.

Zoe Cross, a junior, was born onto the mission field. She grew up in Belgium. Her parents were missionaries to refugees from the 10/40 Window, where people are not hearing about Jesus. Some people don’t see themselves as missionaries. Her Dad was like that. He went to Belgium at 33 years of age. He broke down, weeping with a passion to reach unreached people. The Crosses moved back to the United States, where they are now ministering to Burmese people. Missions are international and here. Jesus commissioned us to go out into the world and minister to others with the truth and joy of the Gospel. Zoe’s heart has broken for people who need Jesus. She knows she wants to be a missionary, preferably overseas.

Mary Elizabeth Baumgarten, a senior, defined missions as “taking the joy of relationship with Christ and sharing it with other people through words and action, inviting them to join in that same joy with her.” She didn’t see that she has a life calling to be a missionary, but her involvement with mission trips have taught her a lot about God and herself. She has performed a lot of different kinds of work. Freedom School in the Dominican Republic changed her. The people there are poor. The missionaries prayed with the people, and the Gospel brought the people joy and freedom. Christ was worth everything to them. We must never take our relationship with Jesus for granted. Someone once told Mary Elizabeth during a mission trip that “what divides us on earth will one day unite us in heaven.” She hoped everyone would have an opportunity as missionaries in the future.

“Seek Not Inordinate Approval and Comfort Over God”

On Friday, January 18, 2019, Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent of Southside Christian School, offered counsel from the Proverbs about out too-frequent inordinate desire for approval and comfort. If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Barfell’s devotional message, “Seek Not Inordinate Approval and Comfort Over God,” please read on. . . .

“Seek Not Inordinate Approval and Comfort Over God”

From the “Proverbs: God’s Wisdom for Life” Series

By Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Friday, January 18, 2019

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

Good morning, everyone!

It’s Friday. It’s been a big week.

Last night, and earlier in the week, we held a Middle School Preview Night and a Kindergarten/1st Grade Preview Night. The teachers did an excellent job. I smiled until my face hurt last night when the first grade teachers were speaking!

We anticipate a huge number of people at our open house this morning.

And I’d like to introduce a new faculty member, Mr. O.K. Jones. He’s stepping into John Martin’s spot in Middle School science. He’s military. He’s going to whip those kids into shape. And he loves kids and science.

Congratulations to Danielle Roberts, who finished her M.A. in December from Bob Jones University!

Several of you are pursuing advance degrees at this time:

Gladys Patino, Brett Hutchinson, Monica Remer, Debbie Remer, Rob Brown, Kimberly Graham, Ryan Donell, and Angie Wilson

That’s awesome.

Do you remember that we’ve been working through the book of Proverbs?

We started with large topics of wisdom and knowing God. Now, we’re in the category of knowing and understanding our hearts.

We are desperately wicked, but we have been redeemed by the Lord.

We seek to reorder our desires.

Approval

Proverbs 29:5 (English Standard Version)

“A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

We must not look to humans more than God for our worth. We get trapped by insecurity. Our feelings are easily hurt. We overcommit in a desire to achieve praise.

Dr. Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies, once said,

“If you have been freed from needing success, acclaim, and approval to feel good about yourself, you know grace has visited you. His grace has forever freed us. . . .”

Comfort

Proverbs 20:13 (ESV)

“Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.”

Proverbs 21:17 (ESV)

“Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

The Bible and God are not against our pleasure, but such inordinate desire for comfort is not good. Overuse of wine or oil in the time of Solomon was sinful.

Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 —

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Paul even spoke to the inordinate desire and love of comfort and pleasure.

Think of our culture today. Doesn’t that sound like the culture and, sadly, and some churches in our day?

Alcohol, opioids, gambling, pornography, and sexual addictions — We might say, “That’s not me.” But what about other things like not confronting sin, because that’s uncomfortable? Many times, we can fall into the same traps.

We must not have an inordinate desire for pleasure.

“A Servant Is Not Greater Than His Master”

On Sunday, January 20, 2019, Lead Eastside Presbyterian Pastor Mark Auffarth exhorted the church body to get onto the mission field! If you would like to read my summary of Pastor Mark’s message, “A Servant Is Not Greater than His Master,” please read on. . . .

“A Servant Is Not Greater Than His Master”
From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, January 20, 2019

Quote of the Week:

“What a terrible thing it is for children to see death, you say. We have it all wrong. If you make a child terrified of death, he won’t embrace it so easily. And death must be embraced if you wish to follow Christ. Listen to His teaching. ‘Unless you become like a child. . .and unless you take up your cross daily, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’ One is not valuable without the other.” (Janjic Jovic, in The Dance of the Dead)

Scripture of the Week:

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,[a] but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.”

Footnote:

[a] John 15:22 Greek they would not have sin; also verse 24

(John 15:18- 16:4, English Standard Version)

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

Next Saturday is January 26 — nine years ago, I showed up with two of my daughters, Megan and Lydia. We flew in from Chile, and we didn’t know which end was up. You received us warmly. We lived in the Snipes House for a few months. It was a hard time. Three kids were in Chile with Anne. Three kids were with me. I have duped you! What you see is what you get. I want to thank you. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather do ministry than you all. That’s an honest assessment. I’m proud and privileged to be your pastor.

We need to get into our passage today. This was a difficult one. I could have gone at this in so many ways. I wrote a sermon on Friday, stewed on it Saturday, hated it, trashed it, and rewrote the sermon THIS MORNING. If the Holy Spirit shows up, we’re going to get something out of this today.

This passage before us talks about persecution. What do we do with these ominous words? I will be persecuted?! He was essentially saying, “Get ready to suffer.” But that promise is not true in modern day America. We don’t suffer as Christians, at least not in the sense that Christians are suffering at other locations of the world. The news in China has been troubling. Christians have been arrested. They are suffering persecution. It’s happening in North Korea, Iran, and places in Africa.

We may get to the point that we fear this same thing happening in America. Ever since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, we’ve been going down this path. People have been on a mission to move us on that path. An agenda is being pursued. The people pursuing this agenda have a mission and vision. The playbook involves children.

California’s new health framework requires education of children about non-monogamous consent to multiple sexual partnerships and gender identity on a spectrum. There is a mission to fundamentally change our society. The battle is being waged in the arena of gender.

It’s not just the sexual revolution. Our country is changing in the way we look at the honest debate of ideas. If you disagree with someone, he is your enemy. It gets personal.

Minds are being coddled. [Increasing political correctness has run amok.]. Content of some college courses “interfere with the students’ ability to function.” They are triggered. They feel “unsafe.” Students feel excluded and oppressed with traditional readings and textbooks. What is effectively happening is that thought is being curtailed. This is affecting Christians. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a Christian and express ideologies which are “dangerous” to others.

Within the church, we also have challenges. A Presbyterian USA pastor has written a book on abortion, and she is encouraging readers to consider “the broader story” of a woman seeking an abortion. These women seeking abortions have the “right” not to be a mother. No one thinks about the baby or the rights of the baby. This is happening in the church.

This passage today may bring fear to our hearts. Jesus used such strong language. The world hated him. The world will hate us. The world persecuted Him. The world will persecute us. The world put first century Christians out of the synagogue. The world is attempting to marginalize the church on our contemporary battlefield.

If we have courage, we will stand up against these assaults. Are we really on a battlefield? Ephesians 6 says we’re in a battle. But we do not wrestle against people, but against the spiritual forces of evil. The abortionist is not my enemy. The liberal California school board member is not my enemy. My battle is not against them.

Does that mean I remain silent? No. Let’s look at the passage. We are not of the world. But Jesus chose us out of the world. Brothers and sisters, we are not home yet. We do battle when we have something to protect. We have nothing to protect.

The Chinese Christians are in jail, and they are thrilled to be imprisoned for the name of Christ. They are happy to be worthy to suffer for Jesus. The leader of the movement, a pastor, detailed his treatise as to why he must stand for the truth of Jesus. There is freedom beyond the freedom of the world, he wrote. Our lives can be taken, but the world cannot take our faith, he added.

It’s time to loosen the grip of our love affair with the world. We fear losing things and comfort and wealth and children. It’s time to think bigger. We’re not of this world.

How do we do that? We will bear witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us about Christ. Jesus poured out His Spirit on Pentecost AND ON US when we committed to Christ as Lord and Savior.

He gives us our marching orders. We can’t fear government or socialists! That’s not our job to do battle with those with flesh and blood. We are to bear witness to Jesus Christ!

Jesus proclaimed the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. He had compassion on the people who were sheep without shepherds.

What breaks our hearts? What produces anger in us? Love and hate are two sides of the same coin: We hate anything that might damage what we love. What do we love? Do we fear losing our way of life? Are we angry that the enemy has made so many inroads with others and even us? That’s what Jesus was doing. It wasn’t a battlefield. It was a mission field!

We protect battle lines, but we give up ourselves on the mission field for the sake of others, so they will come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. During battle, we circle the wagons and don’t let bad people in. In the mission field, we acknowledge that we have been transformed, and we reach out to others so they may know the same transformation.

Do we need better government, representatives, President, or Supreme Court? No. No. We need Jesus. We need to show our world that we have a Savior. He did not view others as soldiers He needed to squash. He loved. He had compassion. We need to teach one another about compassion for the helpless and harassed sheep. We need to teach one another about the cross.

Some will hate us, because they hate Christ. But some people will be drawn to Christ. We cannot put our hope in politics. What our country needs is Jesus! If He blows through with revival, everything will change. Are we wiling to pray for that?!

The only means by which people are saved is through Jesus Christ, according to the imprisoned leading pastor in China. The church must call men and women to repentance. Christ is willing to forgive. We testify to Christ’s calling on our lives. We don’t belong here. We belong in another world. We have nothing to lose. We have everything to give! That’s the fuel of missions!

Are we ready to pray for this as a church? We will each change if this prayer becomes the central focus of our individual lives. How can it be that my God would die for me?!

This is the Gospel.

And it changes everything.

Southside Christian Upper School Small Group Questions, 17 January 2019

Small Group Questions

Middle School and High School

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, January 17, 2019

“Freedom”

Starting Off:

  1. Highlights/lowlights since we last met?
  2. It’s been a month since we last met.  How did Christmas break pan out? What was good? What was hard?
  3. In the last year, what is one area of your life you have grown most in?

Discover:

  1. What is one area in life that you feel like you still need to grow most in?
  2. Have someone read OR paraphrase Philippians 2:12-13 —

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

3. What do you think the author (Paul) means by “work our your salvation with fear and trembling”?

Leader Note: “Work out your salvation” means to live out the implications of the gospel, especially in light of that fact that one day you will face Jesus as Lord and Savior (not Lord and Judge).

4. Specifically, how is God at work in us?

Nurture:

  1. How is God at work in you? What evidence have you seen that God is at work in you?
  2. What role do you think that we have in being conformed to the image of Jesus?

Act:

  1. What areas do you need/want God to transform?
  2. Close the group praying specifically for God to transform those areas that were just said.