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
“Put on your mask – they won’t let you in without it.”
These words of admonition were mine as I dropped my 22 year old grandson off for his doctor’s appointment. Quite a normal instruction, isn’t it?
As I reread Steve Brown’s classic “Three Free Sins” he talked about the masks we wear. BOOM! My words to Andrew came spinning back into my mind. Culture is now reinforcing one of the governing principles of social interaction: we wear masks.
“How are you?” “Fine,” we automatically answer through the mask we wear. “How are the kids doing?” “Great,” we eagerly respond speaking through the mask which hides emotional hurt and concern.
I was in sales management for years. One of the standard training clichés was “fake it ‘til you make it.” Well, I often thought as I worked to develop success strategies “what if they never make it? Do they go on faking it?” I fear so.
A disturbed young woman recently said to me, “I am so tired of smiling, and being funny just to fit in – just to be accepted. I am just worn out.” Her mask was making marks on her soul.
We knew when mask wearing became “de rigueur” the marketing departments wouldn’t settle for generic, faux medical face coverings. It wasn’t long before bedazzled, sequined models arrived. Or, graphics which depicted gnarly expressions. Or, how about the “Jesus loves you” versions which serve to evangelize while hiding us? Aren’t we the same way? We don’t settle for simple versions but develop sophisticated strategies for distracting others from seeing us.
Interestingly enough, our eyes are still visible. My sweet Mom used to judge my well-being (and my moral integrity) by looking into my eyes. There were times I dreaded the all-knowing stare from my very perceptive parent. I laugh now as I remember her assessment of my physical health with just this one phrase “Your eyes look weak.” The masks still allow that peek into our souls, don’t they?
As we obediently don the coverings which make us socially acceptable may we refuse to hide who we are as beloved children of God. May we look into the eyes of others, see and love the imago dei.
by Brenda A. Smith, BWFLI.com, BreakfastWithFred.com
“We are in a battle for the soul of Christian higher education.”
These words sounded a clarion call. But they weren’t an alarm – they were a recognition of the privilege to serve the next generation of Christian men and women. They were a reminder to put on the spiritual armor each day knowing He is adequate and sufficient to forward the progress and purpose of Christian education.
This month brings Thanksgiving, home visits, and for some a time of separation from homes far away. Let’s commit to join together lifting up those whose calling is to prepare young minds and hearts for Kingdom service throughout the world. As we do, we remember faculty who feel the press of social drivers which fight against Christian thought. We bring before the Lord administrators and staff who strive to lead with integrity. And we hold in our hearts the students who are on the front lines of the spiritual battle.
We serve a God who finishes what He starts and gives grace to complete the mission. Hallelujah!
Thank you for encircling our Christian higher education brothers and sisters.
Misplaced vs. Godly Hope
by Bob Deffinbaugh, Bible.org, BWFLI.com
Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17, NET).
Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:13).
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess (1 Peter 3:15).
The Christian stands apart from unbelievers because of their hope in Christ. This month Christians are going to be tested with regard to their hope, and particularly regarding the basis for their hope. This election, many will be tempted to pin their hopes on which political candidate will win.
The Bible teaches us to set our hope on Christ. Paul tells Timothy to warn those who are rich not to misplace their hope on material wealth. Peter tells believers to set Christ apart as Lord, and thus to be ready to explain the basis for their hope to others, particularly unbelievers.
Let us pray that our students, faculty, and staff will be known for their eternal hope, solidly rooted in Christ, and that they will have occasion to share Christ as the source of their hope with others, regardless of the outcome of this election.
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Weekly Thought – November 17. 2020
Fred worked hard all his life. He grew up in the home of a Baptist preacher in the mill district of North Nashville. He understood the relationship between effort and results. He didn’t live asking for miracles to “fill in the gaps” created by the wish ethic. He believed strongly in the work ethic.
The God of Process
I’m disturbed by the number of people who talk about God as a miracle worker. I believe in the miracles of the Bible. I believe that He is capable of miracles today. But I do not believe the majority of His work is done miraculously. All that He does have wonder and awe; but I am leery of those that use miracle I the sense of “I am special.” I have encountered young people who are eager to tell me they’ve had two miracles in the morning and are looking for another in the afternoon. Spiritual immaturity.
On the other hand, we have those who believe that everything can be done by devotion alone. By that I mean a verse of scripture and a rote prayer substitute for hard work. I believe in devotion; I practice devotion. Too often those who espouse this formulaic mindset come up to me with a very pious tone to tell me, “Brother Fred if you are in trouble, read Job. Tell me and I will put you on my prayer list.” I am thankful to be on prayer lists, but I don’t believe in this simplistic approach. I believe problems need to be analyzed and answers found. A sad example is my good friend whose “devotional” wife took away his medication needed for a serious stomach ailment telling him he just needed to pray more. I don’t believe God works that way.
The danger of making everything miracle based is that it is egocentric. Too many who lean on devotion are actually operating from denial and escapism. I am convinced they are looking for the product while ignoring the process.
Here are a few principles I find for process thinking:
1) We are positioned in grace, through faith; we share the glory of God by His gift.
2) We are to rejoice in sufferings for trials and many times fiery trials) will come. We don’t rejoice in anticipation, but in participation. Paul rejoiced as he shared in the sufferings of Jesus.
3) Suffering brings endurance. My Mother, who brought five boys out of the slums would say at family devotional time: “Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not.” She was tired. She was doing constant work, even in ill health. But she was determined to bring the boys out of the slums. Let me say to you mothers: she paid a price for that, but even in today’s affluent (especially in today’s materialistic culture) you are paying a price to raise Godly children, as well. Endurance is not measured by a balance sheet.
4) Character comes from endurance. I didn’t say personality, but character. God isn’t interested in building sparkling personas but in conforming our inner core to that of His Son.
5) Hope is a quality that permits my friend Steve Brown to say as he hangs up our frequent phone calls: “Hang tough; hang in there, babe.”
6) The ultimate object of hope is the unconditional love of God.
His process moves us from grace through faith to His unconditional love – not a bad way to invest our lives!
This week think carefully about: 1) How often do I slack on the effort and then expect a miracle? 2) How clearly do I understand the passage from salvation to glorification? 3) What excites me right now about being a Christian?
Words of Wisdom: “The problem with miracle-based thinking is that it is egocentric.”
Wisdom from the Word: “So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Colossians 6:9 NET Bible)