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
“What is your name? Where are you from?”
I recently attended an international gathering of 900 men and women gathered from over 100 countries to gain skills in training pastors worldwide. Most of the men pastor churches in smaller regions. Many of them plant and oversee as many as 20 churches in remote areas of Asia, Africa, and South America.
As I met them the natural response was to introduce myself by name and location then read their name tag to establish their name and home. Glancing at the name tag often challenged my linguistic skills. But each was quick to explain their names and often tell me their English transliteration. One man had a Hindu name, but changed it to Paul after the Apostle, when converting to Christianity.
Names and addresses were rich sources of information. “Tell me about your family, your ministry, your upbringing.” Wanting to know more about another draws us into conversations about the “who you are” questions.
Identity is universal, isn’t It? As we talk we describe heritage, ethnicity, vocation, and relationships – even in a brief response. Within a very few minutes two strangers can usually find common ground, especially when they both follow Jesus half a globe away.
In today’s culture identity is an emotionally charged concept. The question now becomes, “who are you?” A study done in a West Coast University found there are at least 1300 legitimate answers to that question, including the response “I identify as a Tootsie Roll Pop.” WOW!
In this plastic, fluid environment we who call ourselves believers must stand on a Biblical answer. Our identity is given to us by God the Father through Jesus Christ. We are created by God and live as His image bearers. We are men and women given work to do, management of our environment to undertake, dignity to demonstrate, and glory to give to God. Confusion doesn’t have to be our “go to condition.” We can live with clarity and strength.
What is on your name tag? Remember, child of God, you can walk in truth reflecting the love and mercy of our great triune God. Your name is child of the most high One.
by Brenda A. Smith, BWFLI.com, BreakfastWithFred.com
“Our behavior always declares more eloquently who we really are and what we really believe beyond any doctrinal statements we may affirm.” – Octavio Esqueda
As the students return home for Christmas vacation (many for the first time since coming to school), let’s pray for them to share their faith, their expanded Christian worldview, and their hope in a confused culture. They can bring their vital witness to friends and family members. They may face difficult relationships, old temptations, and a sense of displacement. We can hold them up in prayer knowing our great God is their eternal support.
We also can be praying for faculty, staff, and administration as they work diligently to finish heavy schedules before the break. We can pray in thanksgiving for their gifts, talents, and skills which have been dedicated to the glory of God in the lives of the students.
Thank you for standing with these schools in an age of conflict. They need our prayer and our financial support. Blessings on each of you who are joined together in prayer.
Thinking Biblically About Giving
by Bob Deffinbaugh, Bible.org, BWFLI.com
14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account (Philippians 4:14-17).
As year end approaches, we will all be besieged with many requests for financial contributions. Sadly, some appeals can be based on either greed, or guilt. The Philippians exemplify the “gold standard” when it comes to giving. They were eager to give, and it would seem that this was not in response to clever fundraising devices. They were both eager to give, and ready to do so. And thus, when Paul’s needs became known to them, they rejoiced at the opportunity to give. It is what they have been eager and waiting to do.
And Paul responds quite differently than we might expect. No enclosed, self-addressed envelope, ready for the next donation. Indeed, Paul made it clear he would happily endure hardship for the sake of the gospel. Furthermore, Paul could rejoice in the gift he received, confident that God would provide for the needs of those who shared so generously. And, beyond this, he could rejoice because of the blessings that would accrue to those who gave. Paul was more concerned with the Philippians’ benefit from giving, than his benefit from receiving.
As the end of the year approaches, and we encounter many occasions to give, let us keep Paul’s words in mind. And let us be as eager to give as were the Philippian saints.
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Weekly Thought – November 28, 2023
Fred highly regarded authenticity while highly disparaging “phonies.” During his life giving up the rat race and choosing the simple life became the rage numerous times. He watched the cycles and offered his insights in a Sunday School lesson at Highland Park Presbyterian Church’s Elliott class. This week we excerpt his thoughts.
Living a simple life means we come to the point of defining a lifestyle to which we can apply common sense organization.
Richard Foster says, “Contemporary culture lacks both the inward reality and the outward lifestyle of simplicity. Inwardly, modern man is fractured and fragmented. He is trapped in a maze of competing attachments. One moment he makes decision on the basis of sound reason, the next moment out of fear of what others will think of him. He has no unity or focus around which life is oriented.”
We can see evidences of a simple life around us. What are they? Where do we see them? I think the Quakers have done a better job than any other group I know in fully understanding the dynamics, the beauty, and the elegance of the simple life. Therefore let me quote: “Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone, because we no longer need status or position. We cease from showy extravagance, not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others, we join the experience that Richard E. Byrd recorded in his journal after months alone in the barren arctic, ‘I am learning that a man can live profoundly without masses of things. ’” (Note: no reference included)
The simple life is more than “simply living.” It takes consideration, evaluation, formulation, and action. When we take the true measure of what really counts we can move toward simplicity. We define our lifestyle and shut out all other voices that would distract and draw us away from our intentional purpose. Mary Alice and I had friends who established a lifestyle which was not one of the “rising tide.” As the family income rose, they didn’t change their way of life, but maintained the original bar which they had prayerfully established. Everything above was used to help Christian work.
Joseph Brackett, the Shaker hymnist gave us these memorable words: “’Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free; ‘Tis the gift to come down where I ought to be.
My friend Fenelon says, “when we live in interior simplicity… we see it near to and continually with pure eyes – oh how amiable this simplicity is.”
This week think carefully about: 1) How often do I think a “simple life” would be so much easier? 2) What does a simple life mean for me, my work, my family, my community? 3) What can I do to live in this cultural moment as a positive influence?
Words of Wisdom: “The simple life is more than ‘simply living.’”
Wisdom from the Word: “Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, I concluded: ‘All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitless – like chasing the wind!’” (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NET Bible)