Monthly Archives: January 2020

“Obey! For God’s Glory and Our Good!”

Madeline Johnson, a junior at Southern Wesleyan University, challenged the High School Chapel audience of Southside Christian in Simpsonville, South Carolina with an inspiring message on Thursday, January 30, 2020.  If you would like to read my summary of Madeline’s message, “Obey!  For God’s Glory and Our Good!” please read on. . . .

French Teacher Brett Henderson (guitar and lead vocals), Vocal Music Teacher Fred Barrett (violin accompaniment), Mathematics Teacher Brad Scott (percussion), and senior Justin Harms (keyboard accompaniment) served as lead worshippers during a time of worship through song.

Pastor Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor / Director of Discipleship offered words of encouragement to the audience.  He said, “Our speaker comes at a perfect time, International Festival Week.  The Kingdom of God is not isolated to the United States.  Jesus’ design was for the Gospel to extend to the entire world.  That’s good new for us.  And that’s a responsibility for all of us.  We are called to make disciples of all people groups — in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all of the ends of the earth.  This week is a time to celebrate The Great Commission.”

Avery Anderson (SCS ’18) introduced Madeline Johnson as chapel speaker.  Madeline is a Social Sciences / Business Administration major at SWU.  Her ultimate plan for her life is rescue and restoration of women who have been trafficked, likely in the Dominican Republic, where she has served in ministry.  She is the International Justice Mission President at SWU.  Avery said, “She is a bold and utterly unfettered follower of Jesus!”

“Obey! For God’s Glory and Our Good!”

By Madeline Johnson

High School Chapel

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, January 30, 2020

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

I am excited to be with you.

The Lord has taught me so much about having a heart for the world.  What’s the end goal of having a heart for the world?

  • God’s glory and
  • Our good.

God’s glory is above our good, but God directs His goodness at us.

The Israelites were finally on their own in Egypt.  At the Red Sea, God received the glory for Himself by rescuing His people for their good.

God receives glory by people receiving salvation.

That is His heart for you.

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.  He puts our broken selves back together.

God’s glory and our good go together.

God is making all things new.

In heaven, God will receive praise and glory from us, the very best for us.  We will be perfectly new.  This is God’s heart for the entire world.

How does He accomplish this?

  • By the work of the Holy Spirit and
  • Our obedience.

We are commanded to make disciples of all nations.

If you are in Christ, God has given His Holy Spirit to you — for His glory and your good.

You may have the Spirit in you, but you still need to obey Him.  Take up your cross daily.  We are called to self-denial every day.  In obeying, we experience God’s glory and goodness.

You have major decisions to make in your lives.  You need to obey God with each of these new decisions.

Be bold in your faith.

In obedience, we make a dwelling place for God and His glory for our good.

Put on Revelation 21 goggles.  The dwelling place of God will include us!  Our tears will be wiped away.  No more pain.  No more sin.  The One who conquered will be our heritage.

This should change how we live.  You will not waste your time.  You won’t complain.  You will evangelize.  This is what the future holds!  This vision needs to change the way we live, especially as we reach out to people who do not know Jesus and are going to hell.

I want to tell a story from the Dominican Republic.  The D.R. is hot and humid.  This is a photograph of a garbage dump, with loose trash everywhere.  The smells of the trash were horrible.  There’s unrest in Haiti and the D.R.  People leave Haiti for a “better life” in the D.R.  Kids dig through the garbage to find food.  Here, we weren’t too far from the ocean shoreline.  Cruise ships were on the horizon.  I thought to myself that these people on the ships had no idea about the poverty a few miles away.  Our ministry collected food and water for the hungry people.

One day, a grocery truck dumped meat and other food that had spoiled.  The people surrounded this truck, frantic to find even spoiled food.  These people were starving.  We don’t know starvation.  We miss a meal and say we’re starving.  I handed peanut butter sandwiches to a man.  He stuffed the sandwiches in his shirt.  He went back to digging in the trash.  I asked him why several times.  He said nothing.  He just kept digging in the dump.

I was this man!  Jesus came to me in my mess.  He handed me a piece of Himself.  He said, “Taste and see that I am good.”  But I too often stuff Him in my shirt and keep digging in the dump.  Jesus is so much better.  But we choose the garbage around us.  I think I need to prove myself.  I choose the trash of this world.  I don’t trust that Jesus is better than what is in front of me.

Friends, He is offering everything to us.

Will you get up and go?

Will you choose His goodness and glory?

Will you obey His Holy Spirit and Word?

Will you pick up your cross and follow Him daily?

 

 

“Two Critical Mistakes Parents Make When It Comes to Responsibility”

I know parents sometimes follow my blog.  I am posting the following article, because I believe parents would benefit from the short message.  However, I do not want to be perceived as “judging” any parent.  In fact, I am guilty of the #1 offense listed by this writer.  So let’s all work together to help our next generations to be responsible adults who care well for the generations following them.

“The Soil of Your Heart”

Southside Christian School Campus Pastor Colin Urbanick preached a very relevant and convicting message for everyone in the High School Chapel audience on Thursday, January 16, 2020. If you would like to read my summary of Pastor Colin’s message, “The Soil of Your Heart,” please read on. . . .

“The Soil of Your Heart”

By Colin Urbanick, Campus Pastor / Director of Discipleship

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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

When we walk in time and space, we have a choice. You have walked into this time and space of chapel. Lean and press into such opportunities for spiritual growth. Wrestle with where you are spiritually. We have this opportunity to worship the Person of Jesus Christ today.

It’s ironic that I work in a school. I could not focus during my own school experience. I was a weird middle school kid. I had long, greasy hair. I was skinny. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I was a bad student. I was a poor listener. I became the master of making others think I understood what was going on. Now, I am the teacher!

We people are bad listeners. What goes in one ear goes out the other.

Flip to Matthew 13, verses 16-17 with me.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (English Standard Version)

People had to make a response to Jesus. Some were very intrigued by what Jesus had to say. Jesus spoke in parables, so we would look into ourselves. Parables put the ball in our court. Jesus, through parables, raises more questions than answers. And, he, too, experienced poor listeners. Parables give insights into the Kingdom of God.

Consider Matthew 13:3-9.

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.” (ESV)

Jesus concluded this parable in a strange way. We need to listen to what the Kingdom of God is all about. Jesus wants us to reflect on what’s going on inside of us. The seed of God’s Word drops in our heart. How do we respond? He wants us to change. Where are you? What is the condition of the soil in your heart?

Think about Jesus’ interpretation of the parable in Matthew 13:18-23.

SOME SEE NO NEED FOR JESUS. Some believe they’ve heard it all about Jesus. Greenville is the 11th most biblically literate city in the United States, according to a Barna study. We have ears but do not hear. We view God as a parent lecturing to us through His Word. Some consciously decide to tune-out God’s truth.

SOME FOLLOW JESUS WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT. Initial joy withers under the pressure of inconvenience. We go on weekend retreats. We experience spiritual highs. And we come back to our day-to-day life, losing the joy and excitement.

SOME STRUGGLE WITH COMPETING ATTENTIONS. The soil has only so many nutrients. Weeds and thorns choke-out our following of Jesus. We have an appearance that we are following Jesus, but look at our schedules and how we spend our money to see if we are truly following Him. Jesus said the Kingdom always comes first in our lives. We say we’ll start following Jesus later. This spiritual state hits too close to home for me. The longer we stay in this state, the harder it is to get out.

SOME HEAR, LISTEN, UNDERSTAND, EMBRACE JESUS, AND BEAR MUCH FRUIT. This is who we think we are. Are we? We shouldn’t fool ourselves. We must be honest with ourselves. I must ask, “Where am I spiritually, and where do I want to go?” It’s time to examine ourselves.

Let’s end with Matthew 13:44.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (ESV)

Jesus said that, no matter where we are in our spiritual journey, here’s the promise:

IT’S ALWAYS WORTH IT.

This guy sold everything he had to experience the Kingdom of God. It’s always 100% worth it. Are we listening? Are we pretending? What is the condition of the soil of your heart?

Pastoral Prayer, 12 January 2020

I love that our church values and schedules weekly extended corporate prayer during Sunday morning worship services.  I was privileged to deliver that prayer on Sunday, January 12, 2020, and I thought you might be encouraged by the words which God gave me for the prayer.

Pastoral Prayer

By Bob Stouffer

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Lord, we worship You.

We humbly bow our hearts to You — the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God above all.

We have already confessed the sin which has come to us through Adam, and we have confessed our own defects.

We who declare You as Lord and Savior thank You and the Second Adam — Jesus Christ — for everlasting life!

In the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to love You with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength — obeying You more and more in all that we think, say, and do.

Your Word repeatedly tells us not to be anxious, worry, or fear. Help us to abide in Christ, so we can limit anxiety, worry, and fear in our lives.

Help us to not “murder” people through our anger.

Help us not to “lust.”

Help us to be long suffering like Job.

Help us to develop faith like Abraham.

Help us to draw close to You like Joseph.

Help us to show boldness like Deborah.

Help us to be loyal like Ruth and honorable like Boaz.

Help us to have hearts like David.

Help us to courageously speak for you like the many faithful Prophets.

Help us to work, persevere, be focused, and seek justice like Nehemiah.

Help us to take advantage of opportunities “at such a time as this” — like Esther.

Help us to adore Jesus like Mary Magdalene.

Help us to effectively evangelize in our spheres of influence like John the Apostle, Peter, and Paul.

We thank You for salvation available to us through the birth, sinless life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lord, grow us into the likeness of Jesus.

Give us His desire to feed the hungry — like Jesus.

Give us the desire to give water to the thirsty — like Jesus.

Give us te desire to visit prisoners in their loneliness — like Jesus.

Give us the desire to be instruments of your healing — like Jesus.

We offer requests for physical and spiritual healing in our community today. . . .

We pray for our missionaries — today, in particular, for Steve and Susan Bledsoe, laboring so well for CRU in Florida.

Lord, thank You for the generous giving of this congregation in 2019, as we ended our year well.

Father of lights, You are the giver of every perfect gift to us.

Would You place humble, sacrificial, joy-filled stewardship on our hearts as we give our offering right now.

You have called us to offer these prayers in the name of Jesus. So, In the precious name of Jesus, we pray all of these things as your body of Christ at Eastside Presbyterian Church.

AMEN!

“Come and Take!”

I badly needed Pastor Mark Auffarth’s message at Eastside Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday, January 5, 2020.  If you would like to read my highlights of that sermon, “Come and Take!” read on. . . .

“Come and Take!”

By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor

Eastside Presbyterian Church

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Summary by Bob Stouffer (All mistakes are mine alone.)

Jesus said,

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (English Standard Version)

We need rest and sleep.

We need vacation from work.

We need rest for our bodies AND SOULS.

We are too often restless people.

I love an African proverb:  “Lord Jesus, make my heart sit down.”

What will it take for our hearts to “sit down”?

Let’s do the right thing.  It’s about doing the right thing.  It’s not about stopping what you do.

What do I mean by that?

Consider two commands from this passage from Matthew 11:28-30 — Come and Take!

COME

Come TO JESUS when you are burdened!

Don’t come to “yourself.”  Don’t turn inward.  Resist narcissism.  We can look good on the outside and be very sick inwardly.

Quit comparing yourself to others.  Resist envy.

We have never had it so good, yet we have never been so weary.

Our focus on ourselves is “killing” us.  Come to Jesus!  He will give you rest.

Do not come to Jesus narcissistically.  Come ON HIS TERMS!  Don’t come on your terms.

Jesus did not live-up to John the Baptist’s expectations of Him when John was imprisoned.  Initially, John declared Jesus to be “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  When in prison, he had doubts about Jesus.  He asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah?”

Jesus’ agenda is PERFECT.  Our narcissistic agendas are imperfect.  “Come to me,” Jesus said [and still says].  “It’s not “I will come to you.”

Come to Him!  Come to Him OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!  HIS agenda!

TAKE

Take Jesus’ yoke.  Not the Pharisees’ yoke of God’s law.

Adherence to God’s law does not give rest.  Jesus gives rest.

We could not possibly follow ALL of the MANY lawes of the Pharisees.

The culture also places burdens on us — for instance, what others think of us, work requirements, school requirements of students.  Adhering to the law is exhausting.

What’s so great about Jesus’ yoke?  It’s full of grace!

God does not need us.  He is absolutely self-sufficient.  But He created us for the sake of joy in relationship.

Adam sinned.  Evin abounded in Noah’s time.  God relented from destroying ALL of mankind.  He rescued Noah and his family.

Jesus obeyed perfectly in our place.  He did not sin.  Jesus knew our only path to heaven was THROUGH HIM.

His yoke?  Perfect humility.

He walked perfectly with the rigid law of the Pharisees.  He put on His yoke of perfection.  He atoned for OUR SIN.  “It is finished,” He said from the cross.  He paid the cost FOR US.  He absorbed God’s wrath FOR US.  He reconciled us to the Father.

His yoke is easy FOR US (yet it wasn’t so for Him).  CRUCIFIXION!

His burden is light for us (yet it hadn’t been light for Him).  DEATH!

HE took care of OUR problem.

The law does not understand our weakness.

Consider the profound words of Ray Ortlund:

“We were married to Mr. Law.  He was a good man, in his way, but he did not understand our weakness.  He came home every evening and asked, ‘So, how was your day?  Did you do what I told you to?  Did you make the kids behave?  Did you waste any time?  Did you complete everything I put on your To Do list?’  So many demands and expectations.  And hard as we tried, we couldn’t be perfect.  We could never satisfy him.  We forgot things that were important to him.  We let the children misbehave.  We failed in other ways.  It was a miserable marriage, because Mr. Law always pointed out our failings.  And the worst of it was, he was always right!  But his remedy was always the same: Do better tomorrow.  We didn’t, because we couldn’t.

“Then Mr. Law died.  And we remarried, this time to Mr. Grace.  Our new husband, Jesus, comes home every evening and the house is a mess, the children are being naughty, dinner is burning on the stove, and we have even had other men in the house during the day.  Still, he sweeps us into his arms and says, ‘I love you, I chose you, I died for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.’  And our hearts melt.  We don’t understand such love.  We expect him to despise us and reject us and humiliate us, but he treats us so well.  We are so glad to belong to him now and forever, and we long to be ‘fully pleasing to him’!

“Being married to Mr. Law never changed us.  But being married to Mr. Grace is changing us deep within, and it shows.”

Do you want to rest?  Only Jesus.  Come to Him!

That’s the Gospel!

And the Gospel changes everything!