October 2003

Biblical Recorder:Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus

October 28 2003 by William (Mac) McElrath , Mark 2:1-12

Biblical Recorder:Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus

| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life | Sunday SchoolWednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

By William (Mac) McElrath

Mark 2:1-12

As a Sunday School teacher I've always written lots of cards and letters to members of my class. Most of the messages have been simple: Happy birthday, sorry to hear you're sick, we missed you last Sunday. But a letter written 20 years ago to a teenager in Indonesia had an unexpected result.A new boy turned up in my class one Sunday. Betty and I had known his family when he was a child, but we had since lost track of him. After a visit in his home, he started asking some serious questions. A few days later we met by appointment. Then and there that 15-year-old gave his life to the Lord Jesus. Earnestly he prayed for his parents, his brother and sisters. When he made public profession of his faith, two other teenage boys followed him down the aisle from the back pew where they had all been sitting together.I asked the new believer why he had suddenly reappeared and started attending Sunday School. Flashing his eager grin, he said, "At another guy's house I saw a letter you'd written him. I decided I'd go to your class whether he did or not."That "other guy" was a church and school dropout who later moved away. What if I had given up on him before writing that one last letter?When Betty and I went back to Indonesia a year ago, one of the young adults who greeted us warmly was the boy who had responded to an invitation addressed to someone else. He and his wife and child are now building a new Christian home. There are many ways of bringing people to Jesus. I used one way; four friends who lived in Galilee long ago used another. What method are you using?Determination: The four friends (Mark 2:1-5) Perhaps, like me and many others, you've known this Bible story all your life. I couldn't have been more than 5 the first time I remember helping act it out in Sunday School.What determination those four friends showed! When they couldn't get through the door to the house where Jesus was, they climbed up to the flat roof. What they did next is easier explained to Indonesian than to American pupils, because roofs in Indonesia - like roofs in Palestine long ago - are fairly easy to open up and then repair again.When they had lowered their friend on the mat where he lay paralyzed, notice that "Jesus saw their faith" (v. 5). It was the determined faith of all five of them that caused Him to declare, "Son, your sins are forgiven."Antagonism: The religious leaders (Mark 2:6-9)Jesus' words stirred up a hornets' nest of criticism. Teachers of the law were sitting there watching. These religious leaders felt that Jesus was claiming powers properly exercised only by God. They were also thinking: "It's easy enough to say that this man's sins have been forgiven. Who can see whether his sins have really been forgiven or not? In the mean time, the poor fellow still lies there paralyzed."Authority: The Son of Man(Mark 2:10-12)As He often has a way of doing, Jesus then brought out into the open the thoughts that were rankling in human hearts. To those antagonized religious leaders He said, in effect, "I accept your unspoken challenge. I will prove to you that as the Son of Man (a Messianic title He often used for Himself) I have authority to do what I am doing."Notice that Jesus did things in the right order. (Mark 7:37 says that Jesus did "everything well.") The paralyzed man's greatest problem was spiritual, not physical. First, in response to the faith shown both by the man himself and by his four friends, Jesus forgave the man's sins. Only after that did He heal the man's wasted body. Mark 2:12 stresses that this was not a miracle performed in a corner. Everybody there that day saw the healed paralytic get up, pick up his mat, and walk away. No wonder "this amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!'" (NIV)How do you suppose the four friends felt that day? How do you suppose Betty and I felt last year when we saw our former pupil as the sturdy head of a young Christian family? How do you suppose you will feel when you experience the joy of bringing others to Jesus? | Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life |

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by William (Mac) McElrath , Mark 2:1-12 | with 0 comments



Biblical Recorder:Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience

October 28 2003 by Ken Vandergriff , Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22

Biblical Recorder:Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience

| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life | Sunday SchoolWednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

By Ken Vandergriff

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22

Obedient faith is an adventure. Faith should never be boring.One reason we study the heroes of faith found in the Bible and in church history is to experience their sense of adventure and hopefully to have that sense take root in us and blossom. Abraham exemplifies the adventurous journey that faith can become.Too often we lose the sense of adventure because we want to know the end at the beginning. When God called Abraham to "go to the land I will show you," Gen. 12:4 states bluntly, "so he went, as the Lord had told him." Although he traveled well-used caravan routes (not blazing a trail through the wilderness), he did not know the destination. He simply followed God's leading. The life of obedient faith became a life of pilgrimage, of following but never quite knowing how the journey would end (Heb. 11:8-9). That's adventure!Verses 10 and 13-16 are difficult. The writer of Hebrews interprets Abraham's journey in a way that moves significantly beyond the Genesis narrative. According to Genesis, Abraham and his family lived in the land of Canaan, the promised land, but they did not possess it. Only centuries later would their descendants actually own it. Nevertheless, they trusted God's promise that even after their deaths, God would give that land to their descendants.According to the writer of Hebrews, however, Abraham "looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (v. 10). In the Old Testament, the city founded by God was Jerusalem (Ps. 87:1; Isa. 54:11), but for the writer of Hebrews, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were "strangers and foreigners on the earth," whose real destination and hope were for "a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (vv. 13-16).Therein lies the problem: throughout most of the Old Testament period there was not a concept of heaven, and nothing in Genesis suggests that Abraham looked for anything other than an earthly home. We might resolve the tension like this: the promises Abraham received from God (Gen. 12:1-3) engendered in him a hope that God would bless him wonderfully. From Abraham's limited vantage point, surely that meant possession of the promised land. However, the writer of Hebrews, having much fuller revelation than did Abraham, realized that Abraham's destination was greater than he could have imagined - a heavenly home. That is often how the adventure of faith turns out - the reality far surpasses what we hoped for.Another reason we lose the experience of faith's adventure is that we want everything to make sense. But adventurous faith often doesn't. The birth of a child to a hundred year-old man and a ninety year-old woman does not make sense. The writer of Hebrews ignores the frustration voiced by the childless Abraham in Gen. 15:2-3 and the attempt to fulfill the promise of children through the surrogate mother, Hagar (Gen. 16). It is enough that Abraham did not give up on the promise of fatherhood, no matter how ludicrous it seemed. His adventurous faith enabled the miracle to occur.A third reason we lose the sense of faith's adventure is that we want faith to be safe. It wasn't for Abraham, as verses 17-19 assert (cf. Gen. 22). Obedient faith meant offering Isaac, the son of promise, as an offering to God. Interpretation should proceed with great caution here. What is important is the recognition that faith often places us into uncomfortable, even dangerous, situations. We will not assume that all believers should test their faith in this way, but we will acknowledge that adventurous faith might take our families and us into danger.There is no adventurous journey without faith, hope and obedience. All three work together, like the three legs of a tripod. When we envision what can be, then trust that in fact it will be, despite any evidence to the contrary, and then live our lives accordingly, we are living out hope, faith and obedience.A student once asked professor Ralph Wood to state his main objection to atheism. Wood replied, "It is so bloody boring." Obedient faith, on the other hand, is always an adventure.| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life |

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by Ken Vandergriff , Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22 | with 0 comments



Biblical Recorder:Family Bible Study lesson for November 2: Experiencing The Gospel's Power

October 28 2003 by Mary Fillinger , Focal Passages: Acts 3:1-8, 11-16, 19-20

Biblical Recorder:Family Bible Study lesson for November 2: Experiencing The Gospel's Power

| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life | Sunday SchoolWednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

By Mary Fillinger

Focal Passages: Acts 3:1-8, 11-16, 19-20

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples in the upper room (Acts 2) marks the birth of the church, leading to the spread of the gospel throughout the known world. This is still the greatest need of the church today. A Spirit filled, Spirit directed, Spirit-empowered ministry is the only thing that will meet the needs of a sin sick world. All of us need to surrender our hearts totally and completely to Jesus, to let Him fill us with His Spirit and make us what He wants us to be. Expecting the UnexpectedActs 3:1-8"One day Peter and John were going to the temple to pray, at three in the afternoon ..." (v1). The Jews had two times of prayer, nine in the morning and three in the afternoon, in connection with the morning and evening daily sacrifices. It is interesting to note that the believers continued to participate in these times of prayer at the temple, even after the day of Pentecost. On this particular day they found a man crippled from birth at the temple gate. The grand gate was added by Herod the Great, between the court of the Gentiles and that of Israel. When Peter asked the man to look at them, the beggar hoped for a bountiful gift. Peter did not give the man what he wanted (money) but what he needed (a healthy strong body). Now he could work and earn his own living. To encourage the man's faith, Peter took him by the right hand and raised him. Often a little gesture of encouragement will help people in responding to the divine invitation.The man went into the temple courts, full of excitement, praising God for his goodness. This man had his legs and ankles strengthened. He went into the temple walking and leaping. Until that moment he had never been able to walk nor had he ever learned how. The miracle was both physical and psychological. He had a right to celebrate.A Good WitnessActs 3:11-16The people in the temple courts came running to the east wall of the outer court to see what had taken place. When Peter saw he had a crowd, he began to preach. That was just like Peter. "Why are you staring at us? We didn't do anything, but God did. It was God that glorified His servant Jesus," he said. Peter was probably referring to the passage in Isaiah 52-53 about the suffering servant. Peter brought a very serious charge against the Jews that day: "You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer (Barabbas) be released to you." That is what every sinner does when he rejects Jesus and holds on to sin. Peter concluded by saying, "By faith in Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong." It was Jesus who healed him.A True RepentanceActs 3:19-20Repentance is often overlooked or misunderstood. However, true repentance is essential for a person to come to a saving knowledge and acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord. The word "repent" means to turn away from our sins and to dedicate ourselves completely to God. Without repentance, salvation is hollow and is nothing more than some nicely spoken words. Jesus is God's appointed Messiah and Savior. He came that we might have an abundant life as we repent and serve Him through faith.Why is there so little witnessing with power being done today? This type of witnessing can be done only by those who have the power of the Holy Spirit within their individual lives. The tragedy is that the average church has too often concentrated on programs, rather than waiting on the Lord until the Holy Spirit empowers the leaders and the people. There is no substitute for power, which comes through prayer. A prayerless church is a powerless church.| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life |

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by Mary Fillinger , Focal Passages: Acts 3:1-8, 11-16, 19-20 | with 0 comments



Biblical Recorder:Formations Lesson for November 2: The Table Set

October 28 2003 by John Norman Jr. , Focal Passage: Matthew 26:7-30

Biblical Recorder:Formations Lesson for November 2: The Table Set

| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life | Sunday SchoolWednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

By John Norman Jr.

Focal Passage: Matthew 26:7-30

Preparing for PassoverMatthew 26:17-19The observance of Passover has always been important for those belonging to the Jewish tradition. It provides a time to remember the death angel's "passing over" the Hebrews when they readied themselves for liberation from Egypt. Through the preparation and sharing of the Passover meal, God's act of deliverance is remembered and passed from one generation to the next. The elements of the meal symbolize the hardship experienced by the Hebrews at the hands of the Egyptians, as well as the freedom they were given by the hand of God. The significance of Passover was equally important to Jesus. However, the life, death and resurrection of Christ gave new meaning to Passover, as he transformed a meal already laden with spiritual significance into a symbol of communion for His followers.Self-examination is Part of the SupperMatthew 26:20-25The implementation of the Lord's Supper recorded in Matthew brings to mind that we should examine ourselves before we partake of the meal. Truly, none of us are worthy to eat at the table of the Lord. Many of us take for granted that we should receive the elements when they are passed. We may rationalize that we are just as good as anyone else participating in the meal or maybe even better than some of the people participating in the meal. No one wants to be Judas, but the same spirits that infiltrated him are often alive in us -greed, manipulation, jealousy. Being given the chance for self-examination allows us to search our souls for those things that separate us from God and others. It is a time to reflect and seek forgiveness. Christ's Death and the Forgiveness of SinMatthew 26:26-30"Take, eat; this is my body. Drink ... this is my blood." These words of Jesus should run cold chills down the arms of Christians to this day. When we hear these words we envision the lifeless body and spilled blood associated with the cross of Christ. The Romans accused the early church of cannibalism because of stories connected with the Lord's meal, but the first century Christians understood these words to refer to the forgiveness of sin found in the sacrifice of Jesus. They confessed that through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, God had taken responsibility for the sin of the world and made a way possible for the world's redemption. The Lord's Supper is a symbol of God's gracious gift of reunification between us and God. In the film Babette's Feast, a wayward stranger named Babette arrives in the midst of a small Christian community on the coast of Denmark. Fleeing war torn France after the loss of her husband and son, she enters the service of unmarried sisters who work diligently to keep the memory and mission of their deceased father alive. Babette learns the ways of the close community, cooking meals of fish and bread stew and worshipping with them on Sundays. When news comes that Babette has won the French lottery, she determines to prepare a meal for her friends to honor the life of the community's founder.As the meal takes shape, the pious community members decide to eat the meal out of courtesy to Babette, but determine not to enjoy it. When the meal is served to 12 guests sitting around a table, the feast is so delicious the gathered cannot help but enjoy themselves. Unbeknownst to the community, Babette served as head chef in one of France's most prestigious restaurants, and has now spent her entire winnings to serve the people she loves. In the midst of the meal, broken relationships between the community members are restored and hope returns. Through the gift of the meal and fellowship around the table, a sense of transformation springs forth anew among the group.When we observe the Lord's Supper, we once again enact a drama that plays itself out in the world - people starve for spiritual nourishment as well as physical sustenance. Communion should remind us that God cares for us body and soul. Christ fed the multitude with loaves and fish but also offered the crowd the bread of life. As followers of Jesus, we should minister to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness as well as those who hunger for food.| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life |

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by John Norman Jr. , Focal Passage: Matthew 26:7-30 | with 0 comments



BGCT missions network chooses its name, leader

October 28 2003 by Ken Camp , Associated Baptist Press

BGCT missions network chooses its name, leader | Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

BGCT missions network chooses its name, leader

By Ken Camp Associated Baptist Press

DALLAS, Texas - Nearly a year after the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) voted to create a new missions network, the entity now has both a name and a staff leader.

Meeting in Dallas Oct. 23, the network's board adopted WorldconneX as its corporate name and elected Bill Tinsley, the BGCT's current associate executive director, to lead the new entity.

The 32-member board, with 27 present, met for more than three and a half hours in executive session before publicly announcing Tinsley as the inaugural leader of WorldconneX.

During the open portion of its meeting, the board of trustees formally approved the WorldconneX name, adopted articles of incorporation and bylaws, and named a seven-member administrative committee to work with the new leader, who begins his duties Dec. 1.

"WorldconneX reflects what we are about as a network, and that is connecting God's people with mission opportunities and resources both here in Texas and the world beyond. It also reflects the connection of Christ to the world," said Justice Anderson, chairman of the board.

Anderson will serve on the board's administrative committee with Albert Reyes of San Antonio, Keith Parks of Richardson, Carol Childress of Rockwall, Leon Miller of Kerrville, Frankie Harvey of Nacogdoches and Mike Stroope of Dublin.

Eschewing terms such as "chief executive officer" or "executive director," the board of trustees chose simply to describe Tinsley's role as "network leader" for the time being.

"From the beginning, we have asked the Holy Spirit to be our CEO, and our search for a network leader could not have ended better," Anderson said. "Bill Tinsley is a deeply spiritual, mission-minded individual with leadership experience at every level of Baptist life. He is a superb choice."

Accepting the position, Tinsley said the challenge facing WorldconneX is "stepping beyond the traditional methods" of missions.

"God is moving in the emerging generation and among the laity with unprecedented power. Our task is to connect thousands of people in whose hearts and minds God is giving visions and dreams to serve him around the world in bold and creative ways," Tinsley said.

"To say I have all the answers about how we will do this and where it will take us would be misleading," Tinsley continued. "The only way we could have all the answers would be to do what we have done before. We are moving into new regions and new areas where we will be challenged to learn together."

Tinsley, 56, has been BGCT associate executive director for two years. Previously he was executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention from 1993 to 2001.

Tinsley grew up in First Baptist Church of Corsicana, where he was licensed to the ministry. He graduated from Baylor University in Waco and earned master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as pastor of churches in Bremond, Mexia and Franklin before becoming founding pastor of First Baptist Church in The Colony.

Tinsley and his wife, Jacqueline, live in Rockwall where they are members of Lake Pointe Church. They have three children and three grandchildren.

Messengers to the 2002 BGCT annual meeting approved recommendations calling for the creation of the missions network. It was establish as a separate not-for-profit affiliate of the BGCT "to help churches, associations, institutions and individuals fulfill their missions calling through both short-term and long-term missions endeavors across the United States and the world."

"We do not intend to be a reactionary replacement of traditional Baptist missionary entities," Anderson said, "but want to offer an additional way to help churches who want to administer and support their own missions personnel and projects.... We're not trying to create another traditional missions agency to compete with the existing ones. We want to be a broker of missions relationships and resources."

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by Ken Camp , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Reporter says he didn't mischaracterize Stanley's statements on SBC and women

October 28 2003 by Mark Wingfield and Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press

Reporter says he didn't mischaracterize Stanley's statements on SBC and women | Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

Reporter says he didn't mischaracterize Stanley's statements on SBC and women

By Mark Wingfield and Robert Marus Associated Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas - For the second time in three years, Charles Stanley has contended a secular-newspaper reporter mischaracterized his expressed views on Southern Baptists and women - but the reporter firmly denies misreporting Stanley's comments.

In an interview with veteran religion reporter Jim Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Stanley said it is "ridiculous" to think that wives should submit to their husbands simply because the SBC said to.

Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta and a popular radio and television preacher, is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His re-election to that office at the convention's annual meeting in 1985 is considered a pivotal point in the decade-long struggle for control of the denomination's governing structure.

In his story, Jones - whose body of work was honored in 2002 when he received the Associated Baptist Press Religious Freedom Award - also indicated that Stanley doesn't support the convention's prohibition on women serving as pastors.

The article was published in the newspaper's Oct. 18 issue. It was based on an interview given during Stanley's visit to Texas to promote a new book he has authored.

Six days later, the SBC's Baptist Press issued an article in which Stanley asserted that Jones had misrepresented his views on the issues and twisted his words. However, Jones released a transcript of the tape-recorded interview that verified the words he had quoted Stanley as saying.

According to the transcript, Jones asked Stanley about some other Christian denominations that allow women to serve as pastors.

Stanley responded: "Yeah, and for example in other countries of the world where men are not taking responsibility, women are beginning to be pastors of churches. The women are rising up in different places. So you can't go to somebody [in] like India or Japan or wherever it is and tell some woman who is preaching the gospel, people are being saved, lives are being changed, big churches [are being established] and say, 'You can't do that.'

"My feeling is this: You have to leave God's calling to whomever God calls. Period. And I just say no. I think getting into that was a mistake. What happened was it just stirred up anger and resentment toward Baptists that probably people hadn't even thought about Baptists before. And you know, if a woman is going to be submissive, she's not going to be submissive because of the Southern Baptist Convention. So it's just ridiculous."

According to the transcript, Jones then asked about SBC statements on wifely submission.

Stanley answered: "Well, Jesus said to honor one another. Submissive doesn't mean doormat. Submissive means should submit yourselves one to another. That husband and wives understand each others' needs, try to meet each others' needs. The Bible talks about unity and oneness. If I love my wife and she loves me, we are going to come to some kind of agreement. But the emphasis is usually, 'OK, the man is up here and the woman is down here.'

"And so, that's the message that gets sent no matter what you believe. So my feeling is that we don't need to discuss the issue."

Jones asked further: "So you disagree on that issue with Southern Baptists?"

Stanley responded: "My opinion was it wasn't necessary for it to come up."

In the Baptist Press coverage, Stanley contends Jones "did not quote me accurately, and I noticed he sort of rearranged a few things."

The quotations attributed to Stanley in the Star-Telegram story, however, appear verified by Jones' transcript. Jones told ABP that the transcript, which BP described as "partial," covers the entire portion of the interview dealing with the issue of the SBC and women.

While Stanley insisted to Baptist Press he does not disagree with other conservative SBC presidents and leaders on theological issues, the BP article conceded that Stanley does in fact take some issue with the Baptist Faith and Message's statements on women. Stanley "believes one amendment should have been clarified and another not included at all," according to the story.

Further, according to the BP article, Stanley said of Jones: "He asked me specifically, which he did not include in his article, 'Would you vote for a lady to be the pastor of a church, a woman?' I said, 'No, I would not.' I said, 'That's my personal opinion, and I certainly respect other people's opinions, but I would not vote for a woman to be the pastor of a church.' But he never put that in the article."

Jones responded that he has no recollection of asking such a question and that no such question or answer appears on his tape recording of the interview. He said leaving out such information would have been "a gross omission" from his story.

In an Oct. 28 interview from his Fort Worth home, Jones told ABP that he does not believe he mischaracterized Stanley's comments. He said his interview with Stanley left him "with the strong impression" that Stanley disagreed with the SBC's stances on women.

Alluding to Stanley's insistence in the BP story that he did not oppose the faith statement, Jones said, "He elaborated on that to other people, but what he told me left me with the strong impression that he opposed them."

Stanley also asserted in the BP story that he thought his interview with Jones was to have been about his book and not about SBC issues. But Jones said that "there were no stipulations by [Stanley] or the publisher or anybody" regarding subjects of discussion for the interview.

Both edicts Stanley reportedly criticized were additions to the SBC's Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement approved by convention messengers in 2000. Those controversial additions were penned and promoted by some of Stanley's allies in SBC politics.

This isn't the first time Stanley has taken issue with the reporting of his comments on the issue. In the summer of 2000, soon after the revised Baptist Faith and Message was adopted, Stanley told a group of pastors in North Carolina: "There are some godly women out there. I would never say that a woman could not preach.... You just can't put God in a box."

Stanley quickly backed away from that report, however, saying his words had been "twisted and distorted" by the Charlotte Observer. At the time, he drew a distinction between a woman being a preacher and being a pastor.

Jones suggested that part of the controversy over the latest interview may stem from Stanley confusing the two interviews. Discussing why Stanley claimed he told Jones he wouldn't vote for a woman as pastor of a church when Jones said his tape revealed no such discussion, the journalist said, "I don't know how he came out - why he said that. Unless he was confusing; maybe he was thinking back to that earlier Charlotte Observer interview."

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by Mark Wingfield and Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus : Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003

October 27 2003 by William (Mac) McElrath

Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus : Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003
Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003

Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus

By William (Mac) McElrath
Mark 2:1-12
As a Sunday School teacher I've always written lots of cards and letters to members of my class. Most of the messages have been simple: Happy birthday, sorry to hear you're sick, we missed you last Sunday. But a letter written 20 years ago to a teenager in Indonesia had an unexpected result. A new boy turned up in my class one Sunday. Betty and I had known his family when he was a child, but we had since lost track of him. After a visit in his home, he started asking some serious questions. A few days later we met by appointment. Then and there that 15-year-old gave his life to the Lord Jesus. Earnestly he prayed for his parents, his brother and sisters. When he made public profession of his faith, two other teenage boys followed him down the aisle from the back pew where they had all been sitting together. I asked the new believer why he had suddenly reappeared and started attending Sunday School. Flashing his eager grin, he said, "At another guy's house I saw a letter you'd written him. I decided I'd go to your class whether he did or not." That "other guy" was a church and school dropout who later moved away. What if I had given up on him before writing that one last letter? When Betty and I went back to Indonesia a year ago, one of the young adults who greeted us warmly was the boy who had responded to an invitation addressed to someone else. He and his wife and child are now building a new Christian home. There are many ways of bringing people to Jesus. I used one way; four friends who lived in Galilee long ago used another. What method are you using? Determination: The four friends (Mark 2:1-5) Perhaps, like me and many others, you've known this Bible story all your life. I couldn't have been more than 5 the first time I remember helping act it out in Sunday School. What determination those four friends showed! When they couldn't get through the door to the house where Jesus was, they climbed up to the flat roof. What they did next is easier explained to Indonesian than to American pupils, because roofs in Indonesia - like roofs in Palestine long ago - are fairly easy to open up and then repair again. When they had lowered their friend on the mat where he lay paralyzed, notice that "Jesus saw their faith" (v. 5). It was the determined faith of all five of them that caused Him to declare, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Antagonism: The religious leaders (Mark 2:6-9) Jesus' words stirred up a hornets' nest of criticism. Teachers of the law were sitting there watching. These religious leaders felt that Jesus was claiming powers properly exercised only by God. They were also thinking: "It's easy enough to say that this man's sins have been forgiven. Who can see whether his sins have really been forgiven or not? In the mean time, the poor fellow still lies there paralyzed." Authority: The Son of Man (Mark 2:10-12) As He often has a way of doing, Jesus then brought out into the open the thoughts that were rankling in human hearts. To those antagonized religious leaders He said, in effect, "I accept your unspoken challenge. I will prove to you that as the Son of Man (a Messianic title He often used for Himself) I have authority to do what I am doing." Notice that Jesus did things in the right order. (Mark 7:37 says that Jesus did "everything well.") The paralyzed man's greatest problem was spiritual, not physical. First, in response to the faith shown both by the man himself and by his four friends, Jesus forgave the man's sins. Only after that did He heal the man's wasted body. Mark 2:12 stresses that this was not a miracle performed in a corner. Everybody there that day saw the healed paralytic get up, pick up his mat, and walk away. No wonder "this amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!'" (NIV) How do you suppose the four friends felt that day? How do you suppose Betty and I felt last year when we saw our former pupil as the sturdy head of a young Christian family? How do you suppose you will feel when you experience the joy of bringing others to Jesus?
10/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by William (Mac) McElrath | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience : Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003

October 27 2003 by Ken Vandergriff

Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience : Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003
Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003

Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience

By Ken Vandergriff
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22
Obedient faith is an adventure. Faith should never be boring. One reason we study the heroes of faith found in the Bible and in church history is to experience their sense of adventure and hopefully to have that sense take root in us and blossom. Abraham exemplifies the adventurous journey that faith can become. Too often we lose the sense of adventure because we want to know the end at the beginning. When God called Abraham to "go to the land I will show you," Gen. 12:4 states bluntly, "so he went, as the Lord had told him." Although he traveled well-used caravan routes (not blazing a trail through the wilderness), he did not know the destination. He simply followed God's leading. The life of obedient faith became a life of pilgrimage, of following but never quite knowing how the journey would end (Heb. 11:8-9). That's adventure! Verses 10 and 13-16 are difficult. The writer of Hebrews interprets Abraham's journey in a way that moves significantly beyond the Genesis narrative. According to Genesis, Abraham and his family lived in the land of Canaan, the promised land, but they did not possess it. Only centuries later would their descendants actually own it. Nevertheless, they trusted God's promise that even after their deaths, God would give that land to their descendants. According to the writer of Hebrews, however, Abraham "looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (v. 10). In the Old Testament, the city founded by God was Jerusalem (Ps. 87:1; Isa. 54:11), but for the writer of Hebrews, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were "strangers and foreigners on the earth," whose real destination and hope were for "a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (vv. 13-16). Therein lies the problem: throughout most of the Old Testament period there was not a concept of heaven, and nothing in Genesis suggests that Abraham looked for anything other than an earthly home. We might resolve the tension like this: the promises Abraham received from God (Gen. 12:1-3) engendered in him a hope that God would bless him wonderfully. From Abraham's limited vantage point, surely that meant possession of the promised land. However, the writer of Hebrews, having much fuller revelation than did Abraham, realized that Abraham's destination was greater than he could have imagined - a heavenly home. That is often how the adventure of faith turns out - the reality far surpasses what we hoped for. Another reason we lose the experience of faith's adventure is that we want everything to make sense. But adventurous faith often doesn't. The birth of a child to a hundred year-old man and a ninety year-old woman does not make sense. The writer of Hebrews ignores the frustration voiced by the childless Abraham in Gen. 15:2-3 and the attempt to fulfill the promise of children through the surrogate mother, Hagar (Gen. 16). It is enough that Abraham did not give up on the promise of fatherhood, no matter how ludicrous it seemed. His adventurous faith enabled the miracle to occur. A third reason we lose the sense of faith's adventure is that we want faith to be safe. It wasn't for Abraham, as verses 17-19 assert (cf. Gen. 22). Obedient faith meant offering Isaac, the son of promise, as an offering to God. Interpretation should proceed with great caution here. What is important is the recognition that faith often places us into uncomfortable, even dangerous, situations. We will not assume that all believers should test their faith in this way, but we will acknowledge that adventurous faith might take our families and us into danger. There is no adventurous journey without faith, hope and obedience. All three work together, like the three legs of a tripod. When we envision what can be, then trust that in fact it will be, despite any evidence to the contrary, and then live our lives accordingly, we are living out hope, faith and obedience. A student once asked professor Ralph Wood to state his main objection to atheism. Wood replied, "It is so bloody boring." Obedient faith, on the other hand, is always an adventure.
10/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Ken Vandergriff | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus | Monday, Oct. 27, 2003

October 26 2003 by William (Mac) McElrath , Mark 2:1-12

Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus | Monday, Oct. 27, 2003

Monday, Oct. 27, 2003

Family Bible Study Lesson for March 4: Bringing Others to Jesus

By William (Mac) McElrath Mark 2:1-12

As a Sunday School teacher I've always written lots of cards and letters to members of my class. Most of the messages have been simple: Happy birthday, sorry to hear you're sick, we missed you last Sunday. But a letter written 20 years ago to a teenager in Indonesia had an unexpected result.

\nA new boy turned up in my class one Sunday. Betty and I had known his family when he was a child, but we had since lost track of him. After a visit in his home, he started asking some serious questions.

\nA few days later we met by appointment. Then and there that 15-year-old gave his life to the Lord Jesus. Earnestly he prayed for his parents, his brother and sisters. When he made public profession of his faith, two other teenage boys followed him down the aisle from the back pew where they had all been sitting together.

\nI asked the new believer why he had suddenly reappeared and started attending Sunday School. Flashing his eager grin, he said, "At another guy's house I saw a letter you'd written him. I decided I'd go to your class whether he did or not."

\nThat "other guy" was a church and school dropout who later moved away. What if I had given up on him before writing that one last letter?

\nWhen Betty and I went back to Indonesia a year ago, one of the young adults who greeted us warmly was the boy who had responded to an invitation addressed to someone else. He and his wife and child are now building a new Christian home.

\nThere are many ways of bringing people to Jesus. I used one way; four friends who lived in Galilee long ago used another. What method are you using?

\nDetermination: The four friends

\n(Mark 2:1-5)

\nPerhaps, like me and many others, you've known this Bible story all your life. I couldn't have been more than 5 the first time I remember helping act it out in Sunday School.

\nWhat determination those four friends showed! When they couldn't get through the door to the house where Jesus was, they climbed up to the flat roof. What they did next is easier explained to Indonesian than to American pupils, because roofs in Indonesia - like roofs in Palestine long ago - are fairly easy to open up and then repair again.

\nWhen they had lowered their friend on the mat where he lay paralyzed, notice that "Jesus saw their faith" (v. 5). It was the determined faith of all five of them that caused Him to declare, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

\nAntagonism: The religious leaders

\n(Mark 2:6-9)

\nJesus' words stirred up a hornets' nest of criticism. Teachers of the law were sitting there watching. These religious leaders felt that Jesus was claiming powers properly exercised only by God.

\nThey were also thinking: "It's easy enough to say that this man's sins have been forgiven. Who can see whether his sins have really been forgiven or not? In the mean time, the poor fellow still lies there paralyzed."

\nAuthority: The Son of Man

\n(Mark 2:10-12)

\nAs He often has a way of doing, Jesus then brought out into the open the thoughts that were rankling in human hearts. To those antagonized religious leaders He said, in effect, "I accept your unspoken challenge. I will prove to you that as the Son of Man (a Messianic title He often used for Himself) I have authority to do what I am doing."

\nNotice that Jesus did things in the right order. (Mark 7:37 says that Jesus did "everything well.") The paralyzed man's greatest problem was spiritual, not physical. First, in response to the faith shown both by the man himself and by his four friends, Jesus forgave the man's sins. Only after that did He heal the man's wasted body.

\nMark 2:12 stresses that this was not a miracle performed in a corner. Everybody there that day saw the healed paralytic get up, pick up his mat, and walk away. No wonder "this amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!'" (NIV)

\nHow do you suppose the four friends felt that day?

\nHow do you suppose Betty and I felt last year when we saw our former pupil as the sturdy head of a young Christian family?

\nHow do you suppose you will feel when you experience the joy of bringing others to Jesus?

\n

;
10/26/2003 11:00:00 PM by William (Mac) McElrath , Mark 2:1-12 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience | Monday, Oct. 27, 2003

October 26 2003 by Ken Vandergriff , Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22

Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience | Monday, Oct. 27, 2003

Monday, Oct. 27, 2003

Formations lesson for March 4: Faith as Obedience

By Ken Vandergriff Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22

Obedient faith is an adventure. Faith should never be boring.

\nOne reason we study the heroes of faith found in the Bible and in church history is to experience their sense of adventure and hopefully to have that sense take root in us and blossom. Abraham exemplifies the adventurous journey that faith can become.

\nToo often we lose the sense of adventure because we want to know the end at the beginning. When God called Abraham to "go to the land I will show you," Gen. 12:4 states bluntly, "so he went, as the Lord had told him." Although he traveled well-used caravan routes (not blazing a trail through the wilderness), he did not know the destination. He simply followed God's leading. The life of obedient faith became a life of pilgrimage, of following but never quite knowing how the journey would end (Heb. 11:8-9). That's adventure!

\nVerses 10 and 13-16 are difficult. The writer of Hebrews interprets Abraham's journey in a way that moves significantly beyond the Genesis narrative. According to Genesis, Abraham and his family lived in the land of Canaan, the promised land, but they did not possess it. Only centuries later would their descendants actually own it. Nevertheless, they trusted God's promise that even after their deaths, God would give that land to their descendants.

\nAccording to the writer of Hebrews, however, Abraham "looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (v. 10). In the Old Testament, the city founded by God was Jerusalem (Ps. 87:1; Isa. 54:11), but for the writer of Hebrews, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were "strangers and foreigners on the earth," whose real destination and hope were for "a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (vv. 13-16).

\nTherein lies the problem: throughout most of the Old Testament period there was not a concept of heaven, and nothing in Genesis suggests that Abraham looked for anything other than an earthly home. We might resolve the tension like this: the promises Abraham received from God (Gen. 12:1-3) engendered in him a hope that God would bless him wonderfully. From Abraham's limited vantage point, surely that meant possession of the promised land. However, the writer of Hebrews, having much fuller revelation than did Abraham, realized that Abraham's destination was greater than he could have imagined - a heavenly home. That is often how the adventure of faith turns out - the reality far surpasses what we hoped for.

\nAnother reason we lose the experience of faith's adventure is that we want everything to make sense. But adventurous faith often doesn't. The birth of a child to a hundred year-old man and a ninety year-old woman does not make sense. The writer of Hebrews ignores the frustration voiced by the childless Abraham in Gen. 15:2-3 and the attempt to fulfill the promise of children through the surrogate mother, Hagar (Gen. 16). It is enough that Abraham did not give up on the promise of fatherhood, no matter how ludicrous it seemed. His adventurous faith enabled the miracle to occur.

\nA third reason we lose the sense of faith's adventure is that we want faith to be safe. It wasn't for Abraham, as verses 17-19 assert (cf. Gen. 22). Obedient faith meant offering Isaac, the son of promise, as an offering to God. Interpretation should proceed with great caution here. What is important is the recognition that faith often places us into uncomfortable, even dangerous, situations. We will not assume that all believers should test their faith in this way, but we will acknowledge that adventurous faith might take our families and us into danger.

\nThere is no adventurous journey without faith, hope and obedience. All three work together, like the three legs of a tripod. When we envision what can be, then trust that in fact it will be, despite any evidence to the contrary, and then live our lives accordingly, we are living out hope, faith and obedience.

\nA student once asked professor Ralph Wood to state his main objection to atheism. Wood replied, "It is so bloody boring." Obedient faith, on the other hand, is always an adventure.

\n

\n

;
10/26/2003 11:00:00 PM by Ken Vandergriff , Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-22 | with 0 comments



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