BWFLI team stretching and blessing the next generation of leaders at East Texas Baptist University
Cliff Shiepe, best-selling author, inspires students
ETBU students gathered at midnight to discuss “What’s Next” and job market tips
Former All-American, All-Pro Bill Glass stirring the athletes
ETBU Steering Committee Chair Emily Prevost and BWFLI President Brenda A. Smith sharing a celebratory moment
“I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.”
Facebook is replete with requests for love and support in the holiday season. The more celebrations gear up, the more anxiety rises. The brighter the celebration glows, the gloomier the sense of loss becomes. “I don’t know how I will get through the first year.” “I will be all alone this year.” Similar sentiments pop up as we scroll post after post.
Then we look beneath the surface of life stories and realize one principle: struggle strengthens; perseverance promotes growth. Yes, there were (and probably always will be) holidays with emotional stings. There will be a sense of loss, whether human or canine, as empty places remind us of holidays past. There will be a sadness as life in the new normal emerges.
But then we start using the pain to encourage another who enters into grief. We use the lessons learned during suffering to comfort another as they step into the process. We come along side one who is experiencing the crush of loss thinking they won’t survive to show them they will make it.
We see the sweet pictures of tiny trees shooting up through solid rock; we see flowers budding through city sidewalks – and know we are reminded to persevere… to break through the suffering and blossom. It isn’t always this poetic, is it? Sometimes the rock seems too hard and the concrete too solid. But God makes a way to trust Him in the darkness. He takes the jack hammer of grace and turns the rock of pain into the Rock of our salvation.
Those who never exercise their faith muscles end up with flabby abs. Those who seek a life with no trials are often an inch deep, with no ability to relate or connect.
So, in this season of dazzling lights, unrealistic expectations, and severe disappointments, let’s use the lumps and bumps to grow fabulous musculature… strong, tested, and true. Pain exists, but maturing into someone useful to others is worth the hurt.
by Brenda A. Smith, BWFLI.com, BreakfastWithFred.com
“It’s hard to go home for vacation; my friends are here and home is not an easy place.”
Too often the smiles hide heartbreak and sadness. As we get to know students (staff, and administration), we begin hearing stories of God’s faithfulness in critical situations. School can become a safe harbor for those suffering from damage and woundedness. Faith-based environments open the door to forgiveness and restoration.
Vacations can create difficult environments. Let’s pray for those who are leaving the warmth and safety of school, entering again into memories of hurt. Let’s ask the Lord to bring wholeness and opportunities to share the love of Jesus. May the hardships be open doors for the gospel to be spoken and shown.
During this month in which we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, may the good news of being made a new creation resound throughout the land. May each one carry with them the light of His love and the hope of His resurrection.
The Word Became Flesh
by Bob Deffinbaugh, Bible.org, BWFLI.com
“So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth” (Deuteronomy 4:15-18, NAU).
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Matthew 1:22-23).
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
God would not allow men to represent Him with any man-made image. Instead, in the course of time, God revealed Himself as a man, the Lord Jesus Christ, “God with us.” But the incarnation was more than this, it was the means by which God chose to save men from the penalty of sin. As the God-man, Jesus lived a sinless life, and then took our sins on Himself, bearing their penalty. Those who place their trust in Christ are identified with Christ, and thus they die to sin and are raised to new life in Him (see Romans 6:1-14).
Our Lord is now in heaven with the Father, and He now manifests Himself through His Word and His body, the church (Colossians 1:15-23). Pray that those students who have not yet trusted in Christ will understand the meaning of Christmas, and come to faith. And pray that those who have trusted in Jesus will “incarnate” the gospel as they live out their new life in Christ.
Sign up for the monthly Prayer Network newsletter to be delivered to your email on the first Monday of each month by clicking here.
Weekly Thought – December 4, 2018
Fred consistently applied Biblical principles to current situations. His ability to update his facts, keep current, and understand fundamental rules of life allowed him to constantly contribute to social conversations.
The year of 2018 is taking its final breaths, but oh, what an outstanding period for BWFLI. We created What’s Next Roundtable events for five Christian colleges and universities in Kentucky, Illinois, and Texas. We engaged students in deeper thinking about mentoring, networking, and persevering. Thank you for your support. We would certainly appreciate being included in your year-end giving.
Spiritual Light and Cultural Issues
I have been listening to an increasing number of secular panels discussing the major issues of our time and society. Everything from growing cynicism, disputes about authority, losing respect in the global community, child pornography supported by internet use, alcoholism, and drug abuse. After a few hours of these conversations my physical immobility pales in comparison to the values paralysis in our secular environment.
I have not heard any sure answers to any of the problems. Most of the participants have PhD degrees, but demonstrate a marked deficiency in the understanding of man’s nature. There is rarely, if any, mentions of spiritual solutions. And those that are given are not Biblical. These highly educated men and women seem determined to have strictly human answers for human problems.
For example, the discussion on drug abuse included a minister, a counselor, a psychologist, and an educator. For over 30 minutes they reviewed and rehearsed their wish list for solutions. None of them was convincing to me. As soon as they opened the microphone in the audience a young man said, “I have been in every jail in this area for drug abuse. The last time I said, “there must be a better way.” I went to a church looking for answers and found the love of Christ which changed my life. My addiction was cured.”
If the panel really wanted an apt answer, a workable answer, they would have questioned the young man, but the almost embarrassed facilitator simply said, “Next question or comment.” Their dismissal of his testimony indicated to me their complete misunderstanding of true solutions. They wanted a social construct, not a spiritual conversion.
I am convinced many of our experts are humanists, not willing to accept spiritual (Biblical) answers. Likewise, I believe there are two sources of knowledge: 1) humanism and 2) Biblical revelation. The humanist can be well-informed but only the person who has been infused with spiritual revelation can have more than knowledge – they can have true wisdom. That, to me, is the Christian advantage for providing answers to the problems of today’s society.
Our problems can not be solved by human intelligence alone. True solutions will come through spiritual revelation.
This week think about: 1) What problems in my community needs a spiritual solution? 2) How can spiritual revelation become real in my life, my work, my family? 3) Who can help me become wise as I seek to provide solutions?
Words of Wisdom: “They wanted a social construct, not a spiritual conversion.”
Wisdom from the Word: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 ESV)