On Thursday, March 28, 2019, the Southside Christian Middle School Chapel featured speaker Missy Schrader, Middle School Bible Teacher; and High School Chapel featured a panel of Pastor Colin Urbanick, SCS Campus Pastor/Director of Discipleship, Nathan Forrest, Pastor of Summit Church, Jim Thompson, Pastor of Fellowship Greenville, Ryan Donell, SCS High School Bible Teacher, and Lindsay Donovan, a SCS Teacher. If you would like to read my summary of those chapel activities, please read on. . . .
Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal (All errors are mine alone.)
Pastor Colin Urbanick welcomed everyone to chapel.
During Middle School Chapel, Steve Mason, Dean of Men, announced changes to chapel dismissal, section-by-section. Students were very attentive and respectful.
Pastor Colin asked the students to turn to each other and tell what they were planning to do for spring break in two weeks.
During the Middle School Chapel, Pastor Colin reconvened the audience, preparing the students for the special opportunity to engage in worship through song and consideration of God’s Word. He told the students that the lyrics of the songs remind us of who we are as children of God. We sing these songs to reflect that “God really is who He says He is.”
Pastor Colin prayed to open the chapel.
During the Middle School Chapel, High School Bible Teacher Ryan Donell (on guitar and with vocals) led the audience in a time of worship through song.
Mr. Donell prayed as a bridge between worship of God through song to worship of God through the Word.
MIDDLE SCHOOL CHAPEL
“Humble, or Proud?”
By Missy Schrader, Middle School Bible Teacher
I believe in the Holy Spirit. Without my saying anything to Mr. Donell, those three songs fit perfectly with my message today!
I need your participation today. We’re going to start with a game you like: “Would You Rather.”
Would you rather constantly have dry eyes or a runny nose?
Would you rather always be hungry or always be tired?
Would you rather be able to, for the rest of your life, go to any amusement park free or go through any drive-thru?
Would you rather have to eat a whole box of dry pasta or a cup of uncooked rice?
Last one: Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?
Eyes on me. I have a different “Would You Rather?”
Would you rather receive God’s grace or have Him oppose you?
I’m going to read a lot of Scriptures today.
First, let’s look in James 4.
God gives grace generously. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Would you rather be proud or humble?
Let’s look at some people in the Bible today, in that regard.
Look at the Pharisees in Luke 16.
The Pharisees dearly loved their money, and they mocked Jesus, who told them they loved to appear righteous, although God knew their hearts. They seemed like they were holy, but they were not. They appeared righteous, but God knew their hearts. They obeyed their own rules. They were all about their rules. They were completely self-righteous. Their hearts were sinful and evil. God was not pleased with them.
In Luke 18, Jesus told a story to people who had great confidence in their own righteousness — people who scorned everyone else. They were self-righteous. They were judgmental of others. Were they really righteous? No, they were self-deceived.
One of my favorite family friends is tone-deaf. In college, he took a piano course. At the end of the year, he was a part of a recital. He put his hands on the wrong keys. He played the whole song that way. The audience thought it was horrible. He believed he had “killed it.” He was completely self-deceived. It was terrible. That’s how the Pharisees were. They had great confidence in their own righteousness. They were proud. They were self-righteous. They were condemning of others.
In Luke 18, two men went to pray. The Pharisee thanked God he was not like sinful people, including a tax collector. The Pharisee was proud, self-righteous, and self-deceived. He was not righteous at all. The tax collector humbly would not lift his eyes to heaven, asking for God’s mercy. He had remorse. He was humble. He saw his own heart, and he knew he was sinful.
Jesus told the listeners that the sinner was justified, not the Pharisee. The exalted will be humbled. The humble will be exalted. The tax collector was justified. He was humble. He knew he was a sinner who needed a Savior to be made right.
Another story involves a Pharisee who invited Jesus to eat in his home. An immoral woman brought a jar to the dinner to honor Jesus. She wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. She cried because she knew she was sinful. How did she feel about her sin? She was sorry. She was repentant. She had sorrow over her sin. She knew she was broken. Let’s see what happened.
The Pharisee was critical of Jesus for allowing a sinner to wipe his feet with her tears and hair. He was self-righteous. Jesus answered. He told a story about men who could not pay their debts. The man whose debt was heavier was more grateful for the cancelled debt. Jesus lauded the woman for greeting him with her kisses. The Pharisee had done nothing to welcome Him. She had shown much love. The Pharisee had shown little love. Jesus forgave her sins. She had come humbly before Him, weeping about her sin, and He forgave her. The one who forgives and loves much is forgiven and loved much.
Let’s look at one more piece of Scripture: Luke 18.
A blind beggar near Jericho asked about Jesus approaching. He shouted out for mercy from Jesus. Others nearby sought to quiet him. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” He wanted his sight. Jesus restored his sight. The man was humble, asking for forgiveness and mercy. He knew he was needy and broken. He feared God. He knew who God is. His faith healed him, according to Jesus.
So what? What is your response to all of those passages?
Would you rather be proud or humble?
I said we’d come back to James. God gives grace to the humble, so humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and He will come close to you. Purify your hearts. Let there be sorrow and deep grief for your sin. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up with honor.
Humble yourselves before the Lord.
So what else?
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
Weep over your sin.
Cleanse your hand. He will lift you up!
It’s about Him, not about you. Jesus is righteousness. The Pharisees thought they were righteous. They were self-righteous. They didn’t know they were not right with God. We don’t have to hide our brokenness. Our best best good is like filthy rags, Paul wrote.
Jesus took all my bad and gave me all His good. It’s not self-righteousness. It’s His righteousness.
Would you rather be proud or humble?
We have to confess our pride. His grace pours out on us. He gives us His perfect righteousness.
You’ve been amazing. Let me pray for you.
Dear Jesus, I confess my pride. I confess that I think too highly of myself. I am self-deceived. I don’t think I need you. I am arrogant. I think my good is because of me. Jesus, cover me with your righteousness. I will give you all of my praise and glory and honor. Amen.
During the High School Chapel, panelists answered tough questions of the faith.
Fifty percent (50%) of high school graduates will walk away from the church and their faith. Statistically, that’s true. There are several reasons. Students have bad experiences. Maybe they were not committed to the church in the first place. Many will leave the church because no one allowed them to ask the hard questions about faith. They don’t have answers to those tough questions, so their worldview crumbles.
Some of you aren’t interested. Please be open to what these panelists have to say today. You won’t be interested until a professor drills you with a non-Christian belief. Press into — lean into — these questions. Challenge these people’s answers. You have to decide. If we have time at the end, we’ll take your questions and push back against answers.
Pastor Colin prayed before the panel discussion.
IS HELL A REAL PLACE? HOW COULD GOD SEND PEOPLE THERE?
Jim: Traditional standard evangelical belief about hell is that hell is true. Who are we to judge God? Heaven and hell are not opposite in the Bible. Heaven and earth are interposed. Heaven is God’s space. Earth is man’s space. Hell is an imposition with heaven and earth. Hell is present. It depends upon how you define place. N.T Wright says hell is a place and space where people no longer become truly human. You’re created to worship and appreciate God in His world. Hell is a place where that doesn’t happen. If you minimize hell, you minimize the cross of Jesus. He put an end to separation of God from humans. Hell is not meant to scare people. Hell points people back to Jesus.
Ryan: That was really good. I’d like to add information about another tradition, the Eastern Orthodox tradition. This tradition worked on doctrines which deviated from traditional envisioning of hell. There have been different beliefs about hell in church history. Scripture talks about hell as a reality which continues. Hell is dehumanizing. You may not think that sin is a big deal. But Christ bore the awful load of ALL sin on the cross. We deserve punishment. Look at Jesus. Look at the cross. Look at the hell Jesus suffered. That’s how God thinks about sin. You also see God’s love for you on the cross. He suffered hell for all, not for just one person. I need a God whom I can trust as good. I can trust a God who was slain. He was slain, so I can trust him.
Jim: If you repent of your sin, you believe that God is working good even in your sinful state. You have to see the interconnectedness of the entire Bible.
Lindsay: I do not have degrees related to theology. But I did turn away in college, and I have a testimony of returning to the faith. By the grace of God, He rescued me. How could God send people to hell? We have a sense of entitlement in the culture today. Everyone gets a trophy. We have the same attitude about heaven. We’re entitled to heaven. We are not entitled. We don’t deserve it. He loves us and grants us grace.
Nathan: How could God send people to hell? I am a strong justice person. Mercy and grace are not firmly embedded in my soul. God can be just and merciful at the same time. When you are a victim of atrocity and depravity and wickedness of man, it is easier and easier to see that God cannot be apathetic toward evil. Statistically, for example, the state which has the most reports of domestic violence is South Carolina, and the number one county is Greenville. Some of you in this room watch domestic violence directly, and there are zero consequences. And you see the wounds. Do you think God could look at you, saying He loves you and will do nothing? I’ve been in orphanages with small children given up only because of a disability; they will spend the rest of their lives handcuffed to a radiator. That is evil. As a foster dad, I see children as victims of such atrocities. A DSS worker walked into a home recently, and the floor was covered with feces. Justice and love for people devastated by sin will ultimately result in justice. If you’re a female, you have 1 out of 4 chance of being sexually assaulted. God’s love of you causes him to move toward justice with the sinner. God’s love even for the perpetrators sent Jesus to the cross.
HOW DO WE RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE THESE QUESTIONS?
Pastor Colin: How do we respond to people with these questions? These are loaded questions. There has to be a balance of grace and truth. How do our responses work practically?
Ryan: I ask people to tell me what they mean by the question, and who they think God is. I want to see where they’re coming from. I try to figure out the motivation of their questions or comments. Are they doubting, or they writing Christianity off? We can’t customize our answers.
Jim: Reject a white blue-eyed Jesus. Reject a Jesus who demands a particular political party. Reject the wrong-headed idea of Jesus in objectors’ brains. The answers are not yes, no, on, or off. Go back to the cross and the empty tomb. Everything points to Christ. Likely, their presuppositions are in error, to which you can agree. Following Jesus does not involve boxing Him in. It takes time to explain these things to others who object. Don’t be lazy. Don’t play the game of simple answers.
Nathan: Skeptics typically don’t ask intellectual questions. Their questions and objections are deeply emotional. You loved a person who is gone. You know they didn’t care about Jesus. It’s messing you up. My soon-to-be 9-year-old daughter was going to have surgery, and it was deeply personal, as she thought about dying and whether she would go to heaven or hell. Questions are typically driven by fear, grief, or anguish. The skeptic longs for you to engage him, his fears, and his sorrow. The Gospel is not a cerebral answer. It’s an existential experience. Jesus is the best hope and answer.
Lindsay: You go to this school, so you have answers that most people don’t have. So you have answers. But people want relationship with you. You can’t walk up to people and tell them that their lifestyle wrong. They will listen to you when you have a relationship with them.
We don’t live in a Disney musical.
Colin: I don’t want to. That would be a living hell!
Ryan: Moses and Paul dealt with people by arguing with God, praying that they could take the offender’s place in death. Moses and Paul were willing to be damned for these sinful people. That’s how much they cared about the people they were shepherding.
Jim: Skeletons in God’s Closet is an excellent book on war and hell. Christians are scared to talk about these things. It’s a good analysis on hell. At one point in the book, the author talks about a man with a huge rap sheet. Is the jailed prisoner’s life about protection of society or punishment? Hell is a protection from God’s new heaven until he establishes His final kingdom.
IS SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE WRONG? WHY?
Pastor Colin: I grew up in the 90s. The thing then was “True Love Waits.” The statistics indicated a high percentage of people who experienced “True Love Waits” actually had sex before marriage. It’s a difficult question.
Jim: I got a phone call 3 days ago from a guy I taught here 7 or 8 years ago — one of the finest guys I have ever known. He just got engaged. He is a virgin. His fiancée is not. She told him this a while back. She is from a different country. The first place he told her that he loved her was a place she had previously had sex with another man. He wondered whether he should marry her after he found out about her promiscuous lifestyle. The way she was raised — sex was a flippant thing. He was raised in Southside Christian School; he was so guilt-ridden about sex; for him, having sex was to not please God. The place this conversation needs to start with sex is about sex within marriage as beautiful intimacy. Sex is commanded and encouraged by God within the boundary of marriage. But we want blessings our own way. Sex will bite back, because God made sex for marriage. Don’t be guilted into this belief. Don’t fail to see sex appropriately. The way you think about his now will have ripple effects. How you think and act now will influence your marriage in the future.
[Pastor Colin closed the High School Chapel with prayer.]