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
“Spring has come – its 77 degrees – let’s go play!”
That was yesterday – today it is 40 degrees heading for 27 tonight. What happened to Spring? What happened to play time? Close the windows, turn on the heat, and huddle under a blanket.
In the 1970s we lived in Pagosa Springs, CO. A mountainous resort area drew many “flatlanders” (code word for Texans!). During ski season unseasonably warm days invariably came. Although it was cold, the high altitude sun shone brightly and drove everyone outside to play. During the first winter our family did, too. We reveled in the glorious winter sunshine.
Year two I noticed the locals weren’t playing – they were at the gas station, post office downtown (no local delivery in those days), and lined up at the one small grocery. It seemed strange to me. Why weren’t they enjoying this weather?
THEN the cold front moved in! Without fail, the warmth preceded snow, ice, and cold. The locals knew this and prepared.
The book of Proverbs talks about the discipline of ants who work when others are playing storing for the bad weather. They are honored and respected. “Go to the ant, you sluggard.” We weren’t slugs – we were thanking God for the gorgeous weather. But the ant-like locals were storing up for the storm ahead.
Years later I went through an extremely difficult personal season. I soon recognized a pattern. Before a particularly trying period I experienced especial clarity. The first few times I played in the sunshine thinking the darkness was behind me. When the testing came I was unprepared. One day I thought about Pagosa and saw the correlation. After that when sparkling daylight came I worked hard to get paperwork done, check off to-do items, and assess the current situation in preparation for the next step. It was a successful strategy I still use.
Are you in a stressful season? Are you feeling like you are in a fog? The sunshine will come – use it to make progress. Feel God’s blessing during those times of light. Know He is providing a way to navigate choppy waters.
by Brenda A. Smith, BWFLI.com, BreakfastWithFred.com
Loneliness, anxiety, and depression are at epidemic proportions in the general population, but particularly on our college campuses. The sense of “less than” is promoted by social media which only displays the perfect life, the successes, and the fun. A woman at Asbury University stepped away from all social media saying, “I couldn’t live up to what I saw and I dropped deeper and deeper into depression.”
This month please pray for our schools (students, faculty, staff, administration) as they face the demands of a world which is under the fallen influence. But we know:“Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.” May they see the reality of a great God who will never leave them.
by Bob Deffinbaugh, Bible.org, BWFLI.com
But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24, NET).
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! 8 Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day– and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
For how can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel because of you before our God? 10 We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10).
We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
The apostle Paul was intent upon finishing well, even though it meant suffering. And so he did! He was not only intent on finishing his course well; he labored hard to encourage and assist others to finish well also.
Our students need to be encouraged to finish this school year well, but even more than that they need to resolve to finish their walk with Christ well. There is no better time to make that commitment than now, so let’s pray that many students do that.
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Weekly Thought – March 26, 2019
Fred respected the mission of the church. He refused to join into sarcasm and public criticism. He was not unaware of the soft spots, but he addressed them as a member of the family, not a critic. He was the fourth born child of a Southern Baptist pastor. He saw the gloriousness of the God and the goriness of mankind growing up. However, he always kept his eyes focused on the ultimate nature of the Bride.
Thank you for covering us in prayer. Would you consider joining our prayer network and lifting up Christian higher education month by month? No memberships, no fees, no meetings – just a coming together of men and women whose hearts are attuned to the purposes of Christian education.
The Big Three
Within the life of any church, there are three broad-based umbrella areas speaking to the purpose of the church and the mandate which is drawn from that purpose and vision. 1) The salvation of the lost 2) The maturing of the saints; and 3) The spiritual community and fellowship of believers. All evaluations of a local church’s mission and activities need to proceed from these three fundamentals.
Each local church may put more focus on one or another of these three legs, but they should all be visible. How they weight them will affect their mission statements and strategic planning. For example, a church with the belief its mandate is evangelism will develop tactical action steps turned toward the unsaved. They will develop outreach programs. They will ask questions like: “What actions are we taking to win the lost? What are the specific programs which focus on evangelism? How are organizing and evaluating those programs? How best can we speak to the nonbeliever?”
According to church consultant Lyle Schaller, as much as 85% of “church growth” is actually transfer growth. Sadly, there are churches who wave the banner of evangelism who are really just spiritual poachers, robbing members from other congregations.
The maturing of believers requires its own strategic plan. The first step is to define “mature Christian.” Then the church must look at ways which this can be accomplished. The measurement of maturity isn’t clear cut. Certainly there are Scriptural examples of men and women who follow Biblical principles and help grow others. Leaders must design not only a plan, but an assessment. “Is the congregation growing in grace? What tells us we are stronger followers of Christ? What sermon series helped in the maturation process? How did our other programs point believers to Christ? What are the outward signs of inward change?”
It is too easy to think of fellowship as food and get-togethers. It is easy to confuse social activity for spiritual fellowship. Even small groups are prone to deteriorate into social gatherings without direction and specific goals. The idea of connection and community is central to Scripture, but it is to be focused around the Word and the moving forward in faith. There is nothing wrong with a good casserole and a big piece of pie (I wasn’t known as Fat Fred for nothing!), but it is key to differentiate between Biblical fellowship and just good old down-home socializing. Spiritual fellowship should have elements of accountability, strengthening, and belonging. And most of all, fellowship should be about encouraging one another to strive for Christlikeness.
Finally, it is important to distinguish a program from a mandate. Programs come and go – as they should. Leaders should always be looking at programs in light of the proper relationship to the mandate. If they aren’t pushing the mandate forward, they should be cut.
This week carefully consider: 1) How am I helping my local church clarify and follow the mandate? 2) What do I see as the central focus of my church? 3) Which programs in my church do I find most helpful in my spiritual growth?
Words of Wisdom: “It is important to distinguish a program from the mandate.”
Wisdom from the Word: “When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all the things God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4 NET Bible)