Resolve to Apply the Bible in 2019

Resolve to Apply the Bible in 2019

Word in Season

**Guest post by Maya Johnson**

So far, we have talked here about the importance of being in the Word, whether through personal reading or studying it in a group setting. Of course, that is very good. But it will have no value if the time we spend in the Word doesn’t produce fruit in our lives and in the community around us. And not only will it be of no value – as if it were merely wasted time; according to James, it is even worse than that.

Listen to what James says: “…Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:21b-22).

What do you mean, James, when you say deceiving yourselves?

Do you mean that after I listen to a sermon on Jesus being the King and nothing changes in the way I live my life or how I leverage my resources, I am living a lie?

That if I sit through a Bible study that clearly calls me to love others with a steadfast kind of love that doesn’t seek its own, and nothing changes in my relationships, I may be deceiving myself?

That if I read, in my reading plan, Romans 3:23-26 on being justified by faith and I don’t grapple with the hard questions and ask: “Lord, show me where I am relying on my own effort to win your favor?” – I may be okay with what Jesus vehemently opposed; namely, self-righteousness?

That if a mentor shows me the words from Matthew 16:24: “follow Jesus… take up the cross… lose your life”, and I stick with my old ways because that is how I roll (and besides, everyone has issues!) I may be, in fact, following the father of lies, who is bent on keeping me blind to the truth?

C.S. Lewis (among others) noted that the worst kind of deception is self-deception. It is the worst kind because we are masters at talking ourselves out of what is true and best for us. And unless we let God’s Word transform us, this self-deception will continue blinding us to truth. The answer, then, is to not be deceived and instead to be doers of the truths that God is purposefully sowing into our hearts each day, each week, and each month through his Word.

What does being a doer of the Word look like? Consider a few hypotheticals… 🙂

When you sit under a series of sermons on the Kingship of Jesus, don’t just hear the words. Instead, ask hard questions and ask for God’s help! Am I holding on to my own kingdom? Lord, give me the strength to surrender to your rule in real ways. Show me how to use what you have given me in ways that show genuine submission to your Kingdom. And then be practical – look hard at your schedule and expenses (and etc.) and consider ways to leverage your resources so that you aren’t just serving you and your family. For the Kingdom’s sake, make some room in your life to serve others.

When you go through a study of Colossians and the words from Colossians 3:13 jump out at you: “bearing with one another”, instead of doing what you always do – listing the reasons why a certain someone in your life is, and shall remain, unbearable – think about how to obey the words that are there: “Bear. Set your mind on Christ. Let His peace rule”.

When a friend prays over you the words from Matthew 6:25-33: “Do not be anxious… For your heavenly Father knows”, don’t dismiss this as a platitude. Instead, cling with all your soul to these words and fight to keep your thoughts in check and flowing in one direction: the Father is good. He knows. Don’t be anxious. Trust.

Being a doer of the Word is more than just showing up on a Sunday morning or attending a Bible study. It is more than reading passages each day from a reading plan. This process requires submission to his rule and relying on his strength to do it. It requires frank and gritty honesty. And it depends on the Body of Christ because, as we come together, we remind each other and spur each other on to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel. To be doers of the Word. And this is profoundly good for us. Because, according to James, being a doer of the Word will make you a blessed person (James 1:25).

So yes, by all means, resolve to read the Bible in 2019. And yes, yes, yes; resolve to study the Bible in 2019. But above all, resolve to apply the Bible in 2019!

Resolve to Study the Bible in 2019

Resolve to Study the Bible in 2019

Announcements Word in Season

**Guest post by Kristen Huls**

Why should Christians study the Bible? What reason would you give someone if they asked you this question? Isn’t sitting through a sermon most Sundays enough “time in the Bible”? I have asked myself these questions and now I have two young kids wondering the same thing when we sit down to read the Bible together. “Why mama?” I open the Bible and we start in Matthew 22.

Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind…” (Matt 22:37). How can you love someone with the magnitude that Jesus describes here that you hardly even know? As Christians, we read and study the Bible so we can know God. What is He like, what breaks His heart, what brings Him joy, what is His greatest desire? Furthermore, it is no small thing that Jesus claims that the scriptures “bear witness about him” (John 5:39). Every one of the 66 books of the Bible shows us something about our Savior, Jesus, who is the exact imprint of God (Heb 1:3). So if you want to know God, look at Jesus. If you want to know Jesus, study God’s word as if your life depended on it. We don’t have a shot at living out the greatest commandment if we neglect God’s word.

Which brings me to my next point. God has spoken. Let that sink in a bit. How can we, as Christians, be uninterested in what God has to say? Paul reminds his beloved Timothy, that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17). God has spoken and if that isn’t enough, He claims it is profitable and serves a purpose to “complete” and “equip” all believers. As Christians, God’s word is essential, equipping us properly for the work He has for prepared for us (Eph 2:10).

Not convinced yet? What about the fact that man lives by these words (Deut 8:3), that we are called to long for these words, so we can grow to understand our salvation (1 Pt 2:2), and that we are soberly warned to pay close attention to these words, so we don’t drift away from our faith (Heb 2:1). Do you want to take a stand against evil? You need the word of God, your sword (Eph. 6:17). Do you want to be the wise man who built his house on the rock? You must know God’s word to obey it (Matt 7:24). Do you want to be blessed? Delight in the law of the Lord day and night (Psalm 1:2). Studying and laboring over the Bible is not a burden or another item on your to-do list. There is life in these words. These words satisfy deep longings in your soul and will eventually become sweet like honey to the believer (Psalm 119:103). Your greatest joy will be loving God with every inch of your being as you come to know Him through the scriptures.

Resolve to study the Bible, God’s very own words, this year. Don’t do it alone though. Make it a point to commit to one of our women’s studies and enjoy the fellowship of studying the Bible with others. We have four women’s studies starting in the new year.

Galatians: Tuesdays at 6:30PM @ church – Starting January 15th – Contact Lacy Troester
Ecclesiastes: Tuesdays at 6:30PM @ church – Starting January 15th – Contact Maya Johnson
Biblical Overview: Wednesdays at 9:30AM @ church – Starting January 23rd – Contact Kristen Huls
Gospel Study: Mondays at 7:00PM @ the Varvel house in Hay Springs – Starting February 4th – Contact Raime Varvel

Let the cry of the prophet Jeremiah ring true for you in 2019. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16).

Editor’s Note: We have a few other studies going on for men and women. One of them is an in-depth study of 1 Thessalonians, which meets on Sundays at 9AM @ church. We are also planning to launch a men’s group in the Spring. Check the Event Calendar for the latest meeting times.

Resolve to Read the Bible in 2019

Resolve to Read the Bible in 2019

Word in Season

It is impossible to overstate the importance of reading the Bible. The Bible is a gift from God to us. And through his Word we learn what God is like, what we are like, the meaning and purpose behind everything, and the one true hope we can have in this life and forever. The Word of God is the primary means that God uses to communicate to his people. In the Bible we have the very words of God!

That’s a pretty amazing book on your shelf (or app on your phone)! No wonder the Psalmist described God’s Word as sweet like the honeycomb and more precious than gemstones. You know how he came to value the Word like that? The same way you and I will come to see God’s Word as precious; and that is NOT by leaving one’s Bible on the shelf!

So why not resolve to read the Bible in 2019? I think there are two big obstacles many Christians face when approaching the Bible. First, the Bible is a big book and it can be hard to know where to begin. And second, where do you keep reading in the Bible – what do you read next – say, when you finish one book of the Bible? Those two obstacles are exactly why a Bible reading plan can be so helpful. The reader can simply follow along each day, reading the assigned readings. It is a fantastic habit to form!

The plan I favor is called the 5 Day Reading PlanI like this one because it 1) works through the Bible chronologically, 2) has daily readings in the New and Old Testaments, and 3) is only 5 days a week. I can use the other two days to read other passages in the Bible or catch up if I missed a day during the week. For me, it is the easiest plan to stick with all year long.

As the New Year approaches and you’re thinking about the adjustments you want to make in your life in 2019, consider resolving to read the Bible. If you have never read the Bible cover to cover, you will find this a hugely rewarding endeavor. But even if you have read it many times, the Word is precious beyond measure. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I sure wish I didn’t spend all that time reading the Bible last year.” 🙂

Download the plan here: https://www.bibleclassmaterial.com/FiveBibleReadingSchedule2019.pdf

 

Q&A – Science/Christian Worldview Seminar

Q&A – Science/Christian Worldview Seminar

Word in Season

 

The following are the questions (bold) that were texted in, followed by our answers.

MJ = Mike Johnson, MDiv
ZV = Zachary Varpness, PhD

Mike said, “what has been considered settled science has changed over the years and what we think we know now will probably keep changing.” What did you mean by that?

MJ: The scientific community is always learning more, seeing more, etc. That’s not bad. However, it does mean that things that are presented today as “settled science” (whatever that is) might be completely revised by the scientific community tomorrow. Unlike God, the scientific community is not immutable. That is one danger to the pressure Christians feel to trade biblical truth for settled science. It is never very settled.

Are there other methods besides carbon dating which can be used to estimate the age of artifacts beyond 80000 years?

ZV: There are things like uranium-lead dating and potassium-argon dating. The principle is the same. The half-life of these atoms is much longer than carbon.

Is there science that supports the flood?

ZV: Yes. The science that supports ice ages could also be interpreted as caused by a flood. On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted. A few years later there was a significant rainstorm that moved through and carved valleys in the volcano aftermath. If you put a geologist in a helicopter and fly them around to confuse them and then land them in one of these valleys. The geologist would date it at millions of years old even though it happened in the 1980’s.

In Genesis, the Bible says there was no helper found fit for Adam. Can one conclude that evolution was taking place beforehand out of other creatures?

MJ: There is no warrant in that biblical text to see things that way, and interpreting it that way is problematic at best. Obviously, for the human race to survive even a generation, both male and female are necessary at the same time.

Do either of you believe that there is a correlation between theistic evolution and theological liberalism?

MJ: Sure there is a connection. Both systems of thought take the biblical text lightly (low view of Scripture). Whether one came from the other is harder to establish, but they are two peas in a pod. I don’t know very many strong proponents of theistic evolution (the way I described it in the session) who are also theologically conservative in other areas.

Without first having faith, can I come to the conclusion that the Bible is a 100% factual account?

MJ: In a sense, faith is needed to believe that anything is true. So yes, faith is required to believe the biblical account. It is important to note that faith is also necessary to believe the origins story promulgated by evolutionists.

What impact do catastrophic natural events have on the dating of the fossil record?

ZV: Really none. Radiodating is not changed by physical conditions like temperature and rainfall.

Are theistic evolution and the age of the earth/universe separate questions? Can you reject the former and not the latter?

MJ: They are different – but connected – questions for sure. The difference is evidenced by the fact that there are young-earth creationists and old-earth creationists. Some do reject theistic evolution and also reject young-earth creationism. So they are different questions. However, the reasons for subscribing to old-earth theories are often the same reasons people cite for buying into theistic evolution. So I think there is also a connection.

What does the speed of light have to do with carbon dating?

ZV: αe2/4πε0ħc = 0072973525664(17). Without getting too nerdy, this equation is used to determine the nuclear decay rate. In the equation, the c at the end is the speed of light. If you change the speed of light you change the decay rate.

Do you have advice for a biology major who has to take evolution to graduate?

ZV: Give the “scientifically correct” answers. Don’t pick a fight your grade will suffer.

Mike tried to make the case that we see the difference between a dog and a human child and used that as an argument for human value. However, Zack showed that evolution also gives us a reason to feel supremacy over other creatures. Doesn’t that thwart Mike’s argument?

MJ: It is interesting that you didn’t ask this the other way around. Why not ask, doesn’t Mike’s argument thwart Zack’s? 🙂 The fact is, most everyone sees a foundational difference between a dog and a human child, as far as significance goes. My point was that we see it that way specifically because of special creation, as recorded in the Genesis account. Only people are made in the image of God. The sanctity of human life is, therefore, a moral and theological conclusion. The evolutionist might see it simply as rooted in natural supremacy or in species-survival, but that isn’t satisfying because it isn’t based on moral reasoning. And we seem to understand this difference at the moral level.

Is there a precedent for allowing strong scientific evidence to cause you to reconsider your biblical interpretation?

MJ: No. And I know that sounds closed-minded. But consider switching the question around: is there a precedent for clear biblical interpretation to cause you to reconsider your scientific conclusions?

Dinosaurs and mammoths are supposed to be in different eras. Where do they fit in with the biblical account?

MJ: God created dinosaurs and mammoths on the 6th day of creation. They obviously went extinct sometime after that. We don’t know when for sure, but I think they went extinct sometime after the flood because of postdiluvian climatic changes. Small/young pairs of dinosaurs and a young pair of mammoths could have fit on Noah’s Ark without difficulty.

Could you explain more about your assertion that evolution is like a religion?

ZV: If you start with a definition that religion explains where the world came from and man’s role in the world and not just the belief in a higher power, then evolution fits the definition of a religion.

Where do we believe, disbelieve science? Where is the line?

ZV: The line I draw first is whether it contradicts the Bible. The Bible is true. Anything that disagrees with that is false by definition. Second, I look at the science itself to see if it was conducted in a scientifically valid way.

Does the scientific community, largely influenced by evolutionary theory, also promote critical thinking?

ZV: It does. However, not in all areas. They start with the false idea that evolution is true. There are many biases in science that are ingrained and very hard to remove. I believe this is one of them.

Wasn’t the Bible accused of asserting some ideas (e.g., flat earth) that have been clearly proven wrong?

MJ: Yes, always mistakenly. Your example – the flat earth theory – is nowhere espoused in the Bible. Occasionally the biblical writers used metaphors and other figures of speech which would seem scientifically wrong – such as saying, “the four corners of the earth”. If you hear a scientist chide the Bible for that, chide him for saying ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’. Is he not aware that the sun does not actually rise and set, but that the earth is simply rotating? We should give the same charity to the biblical writers in their use of colloquialisms (et.al) that we give to every other normal person.

Theology was once referred to as the “Queen of Sciences”. Why is that no longer the case?

MJ: Because we are an arrogant lot who do not always assign the study of God – the highest and most significant reality in the universe – its due significance.

Without having a good grasp of science how do I evangelize someone who is “scientifically-minded”?

MJ: I would start with the gospel. Man’s sin. God’s holiness. God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ. His substitutionary atonement and resurrection. And our need to trust in him alone.

ZV: You will never convince someone of the truth of the gospel by arguing science. I understand the science pretty good and I don’t try that. I start with their guilt before a holy and righteous God.

What is your response to the assertion that Christianity was necessary before scientific advancement but is no longer necessary to understand the world around us?

MJ: That’s a pretty smug way to view history. I.e., people before us were all dumb so they needed religion. We are smart and don’t. Really?

Both please answer: how should Christians interact with the world on these topics?

MJ: With love, humility and with winsome and biblical arguments.

ZV: Agreed.

Are you familiar with the cosmic temple view? And if so, what do you think of it?

MJ: No. Sorry.

ZV: No

Why are the Bible’s historical accounts scrutinized so much more than other literature?

MJ: Probably because the Bible is the most important book in human history (by every measure). And the Bible claims to be true. Scrutiny is expected. I don’t mind scrutiny as much as empty skepticism. The Bible can stand up fine to any honest scrutiny.

Four Reminders on Resurrection Weekend

Four Reminders on Resurrection Weekend

Announcements Word in Season

Dear Church Family,

There are four things that I want to remind you about today: three things concerning events and such and one reminder from the Bible.

First, please note that there will be no Sunday School this Sunday. We will gather together to worship our risen King at 10:30 AM.

Second, next Sunday, April 8, there will be a baptism service during the regular worship gathering. If you, or someone close to you, would like to be baptized or learn more about it please contact us by Wednesday, April 4. Also on April 8, we will enjoy our last church-wide fellowship meal of the semester. So bring some friends, some food and plan to stick around for some wonderful fellowship!

Third, on April 15 at 6PM we will host a seminar focusing on Science and the Christian worldview. Specifically, we will address evolution and theistic evolution as they relate to the Bible and to the Christian gospel. Zachary Varpness (a science professor at CSC and an elder at Ridgeview) will speak from a scientific and philosophical point of view, and I will speak from a biblical and theological perspective. Following the presentations, there will be a time for Q&A (hard questions welcomed!). We’re putting a lot of effort into this, and our hope is that this seminar will be helpful to anyone thinking about or struggling with how to reconcile modern science with the teachings of the Bible. Please make your plans to attend this event (and spread the word too!).

And finally, I want to remind you that on Thursday evening of the Last Week, while the disciples were pondering their own first-ness, Jesus laid aside his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, and washed their feet. He said to them: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15). Let’s go into this weekend following Jesus’ example. Instead of seeking our own, let’s go low and seek to serve – for the good of others and for the glory of God.

I can’t wait to worship the Risen Jesus Christ together with you this Sunday.

In Christ,
Pastor Mike Johnson, for the Ridgeview elder team

Instructions: Just Add Love & Respect

Instructions: Just Add Love & Respect

Word in Season

Pastors, whether they want to or not, regularly have the privilege of helping people walk through difficult seasons in their marriages. Often, by the time a couple decides to see a pastor, things are quite bad. So I think I have heard and seen everything. In fact, I am considering writing a book on marriage called, “Creative Yet Totally Proven Ways to Quickly Wreck Your Marriage “. 🙂 I think it would sell well.

Of course, problems in marriages come in all shapes and sizes, and so do the needed behavioral changes to right a marriage. However, it is not an overstatement to say that most marital issues can be traced to a deficiency of two things: love and respect.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, the Apostle Paul gives clear guidelines for a healthy marriage. Verse 33 is the summary: “…Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” For a marriage to thrive, it must have love and respect.

Of course, men and women both need love and respect. And all of us should show both love and respect to our spouses. But the Apostle Paul indicates that there is a special significance in the husband’s responsibility to love his wife, and also the wife’s responsibility to respect her husband. I think that’s because men need, more than anything else, respect from their wives. And women need to be loved by their husbands above all.

A lot needs to be said, more than I can say here, about what real love is, and also how a wife can genuinely respect her husband. The point I want to make with this post is that those are the two main ingredients in a thriving marriage: love and respect. Husbands, love your wives. And wives, respect your husbands. In my experience, when both parties apply themselves to their respective responsibilities, their marriage begins to drastically improve.

A common mistake we make is to become concerned primarily with how our spouses fail at their responsibilities. But we are not responsible for how well or how poorly our spouses do at this. As we often tell our children: we are responsible for our own actions.

Thus, the solution to your marital issues, if you are going through a difficult season right now, probably has to do with love and respect. A great question to ask as you try to diagnose your problems is this: Am I doing what God requires of me in this marriage? How can I love my wife better and show her that I love her in ways that she will see and appreciate? Or, how can I respect my husband so that he knows that I am for him?

God created marriage, so it stands to reason that he knows exactly what is needed for a marriage to thrive. And, thankfully, he has shared that information with us. A healthy marriage, more than anything, needs love and respect.

Poverty and Wealth and the Glory of God

Poverty and Wealth and the Glory of God

Word in Season

imagesAt the Men’s Group this morning, we discussed wealth and poverty, and the incredible disparity between the world’s rich and poor. Here are some quick facts about poverty from Compassion International:

  • Based on the updated poverty line of $1.90 a day, World Bank projections suggest that global poverty may have reached 700 million, or 9.6 percent of global population, in 2015.
  • Globally, 1.2 billion people (22 percent) live on less than $1.25 a day. Increasing the income poverty line to $2.50 a day raises the global income poverty rate to about 50 percent, or 2.7 billion people.
  • Among the poor living on less than $1.25 per day, just under half have electricity.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for about 80 percent of the global poor and 81 percent of all child deaths in the world.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 43 percent of the global poor.
  • 30 percent of the world’s extremely poor live in India.
  • Almost three-fifths of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries: Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Nigeria.
  • A third of all poor in the developing world are children 0–12 years.
  • Indigenous peoples make up about 5 percent of the world’s population but for some 15 percent of the world’s poor.
  • In developing countries (where 92 percent of children live) 7 in 100 will not survive beyond age 5.
  • In developing countries nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not receive skilled care during and immediately after birth.
  • Up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life.
  • Every day, 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum. Most maternal deaths occurred in developing countries.

Christians in the West, who are blessed with unprecedented material wealth (unprecedented in the history of the world!), cannot turn a blind eye to the world’s poor. God doesn’t make us rich in this life in order for us to simply horde more and more stuff and to love our things. May God free us from the love of money, and continue to impress upon us how we should leverage our wealth for the glory of God among the nations.

What can you do? There are lots of things you could do. You could sponsor a child. You could go on a mission trip. You and your family could pare down your lifestyle in order to free up funds, and then give those funds generously to missionaries and to gospel-centered poverty abatement efforts. You could go long term, either as a career or a retirement career, as a missionary to the nations. You could adopt a war-time mindset and live missionally all of your days for the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And you could model that lifestyle for the next generation.

But doing nothing… that is not really an option. At least not a good one.

Pray about it!

5 Things to Remember

5 Things to Remember

Announcements Word in Season

01

There are several things to keep in mind these days, and it would probably be helpful if I mentioned at least a few of them.

First, the elders are doing their annual retreat on Friday and Saturday. Please pray for them as they meet to discuss and plan, and also to pray for vision and for Ridgeview. It should be a great weekend, and all of us are looking forward to spending this time together. So please pray for Devin Davis, Jason Badje, Robert Reid, Jim Varvel, Zack Varpness and me over the next few days.

Along with that, we had a member meeting after the worship gathering last Sunday to vote on whether to add Zack Varpness to the elder team, and the church voted overwhelmingly in favor. We will be presenting him next Sunday as the new elder, and Zack will also participate in the elder retreat this weekend.

Next, we are launching a new short sermon series for the holiday season called, “Psalms for the Season“. Basically, I plan to unpack a Psalm each week on a different theme as it relates to the holiday. So this Sunday we will see from Psalm 103 how King David preached to his soul so that he would see God’s grace and be thankful. I am praying that that will help prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving. Then, for the four weeks of Advent, we will study: 1) a Psalm of lament, 2) a cry for deliverance, 3) a Psalm of hope and then 4) a Psalm about the Son of God. Maybe God will use these rich Psalms to encourage us in our faith and to stir up in us a passion to follow Christ.

Also this Sunday, we will collect the boxes for Operation Christmas Child. So if you packed a box or three, bring them in on Sunday and put them on or near the dedicated table in the worship center foyer. We will take it from there and make sure the boxes get on their way into the hands children around the world.

Finally, please don’t forget the college meal this Sunday. If you are a student, you are invited! I have no idea what’s on the menu but I know its always good.

See you Sunday!

Am I a Child of God?

Am I a Child of God?

Word in Season

Note: This article was published in the October 21, 2015 edition of The Chadron Record newspaper.

childofGodPeople toss around the phrase, “children of God” in a way that is all-inclusive, as if all people are God’s children. Of course, all people are created by God. But are all people God’s children? And, closer to home, am I God’s child?

In the Bible, “children of God” carries a very specific meaning. It occurs in 9 different passages, and those verses give at least three “paternity tests”; three ways to know whether we are God’s children.

First, the Bible tells us that there is a family resemblance. In the same way that my 8 year-old son walks like I walk, God’s children walk in the way that God walks. 1 John 3:10 (and its context) teaches that children of God obey God and follow his commandments and practice righteousness. God’s children resemble their Father. Because of that, as Philippians 2:15 says, they shine as lights in the world. We know that we are his children because we walk like he walks and we shine like he shines.

That is not the only way we know. Another way is because God’s Spirit confirms this to us. That is what Romans 8:16 teaches. Like a parent affirming love and acceptance to his children, God lovingly confirms to our spirit that we are his children and his heirs. The Holy Spirit does this in many ways, but mostly through the promises in God’s Word.

John 1:12 gives us the third, and most important, way that we know for sure that we are God’s children. That verse says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God”. If I am really trusting in Jesus Christ then I am his child. In fact, that is how I became God’s child; Jesus made me a child of God.

Noteworthy is what the Bible doesn’t say. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that I am God’s child because I self-identify as a Christian or was born to a Christian family or because I am a member of a certain church or because I have gone through a religious ceremony; or simply because I am a human being.

What the Bible does teach is that if my faith is in Jesus Christ alone then I can know for certain that I am God’s child. God’s Spirit, usually through God’s Word, graciously confirms this to me. And I know that this is authentic and genuine because there is a family resemblance; God has shaped, and is shaping, the way that I live my life. Now, as a child of God, I follow God.

So the question of the day is pretty simple: are you a child of God?

Swiss CIMA 2015

Swiss CIMA 2015

Word in Season

imageGreetings from the Movida CIMA conference in Switzerland. It is the last day of the conference and I plan to head back to Chadron tomorrow. As you may know, my family and I leave for Siberia on Sunday. These are crazy fast days, but very good ones too.

I’m very encouraged with the work of Movida as I have seen it this week. There are 100 students here from many different countries in Europe and the Americas. Eleven different languages are spoken here. The average age is 23. The purpose of the conference has been to present a challenge to to the students to live all out for Christ. We have done this with a variety of speakers along with in-depth Bible teaching and small-group times. We have also enjoyed great times of worship together in three languages.

Many of the students shared with me over meals and during the free time that God is stirring in their hearts. Several have decided to change course in life, and become missionaries to unreached, least-reached or Muslim people groups. That has been awesome to hear. Others have committed to living missionally as they enter the workplace. God is good.

It has been a great week, and very much worth the effort, time and money that has been required to be a part of this. In a bigger picture way, I am thankful to be here because now I have seen firsthand a ministry that Ridgeview has supported for some time. And I am sold on the ministry; God is glorified through this work.

Thank you for your prayers. I am also thankful to the elders for allowing me to take this time away, and for Devin Davis stepping in to preach in my absence (I listened to his sermon on James 2 yesterday, and it was excellent. If you missed it you should catch the podcast!).

For the Glory of God,
Pastor Mike