Bonus Content from September 30th

“Grounded in Scripture” (Various Texts)
 
I had to condense my treatment of John 10:34-36 for the sake of time. Below find a fuller explanation of that passage:
 
John chapter 10. Jesus has just called himself the Son of God. The Jewish religious leadership pick up stones to throw at him, because this is blasphemy. What happens next? John 10:34-36. “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I said, you are gods”? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, “I am the Son of God”?’”
 
What just happened? Jesus pulls out scripture, and not just any scripture. He refers to Psalm 82, a pretty obscure psalm about powerful people who act like they are “gods” and oppress the weak and poor. In verses 6-7 of that psalm, God speaks and says, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
 
Jesus knows Psalm 82 inside and out because he has taken the time to immerse himself thoroughly in the Bible. As a result, when people are about to kill him for claiming to be the Son of God, he’s able to point out their error, and he does it along these lines: “If you’re going to kill me, you’re going to need more against me than that I called myself the son of God! After all, God himself calls ordinary people ‘sons of the Most High’ and even calls them ‘gods’ in Psalm 82!” And then Jesus is like, “Let me just remind you: the scripture cannot be broken!” Both Jesus and his opponents knew the scripture couldn’t be broken – that it was the final word on every matter – so Jesus didn’t get killed that day.
 
When Jesus is challenged, he argues from scripture. When you are challenged, where do your arguments come from? Even when it comes to making church decisions, it’s so easy even for church leaders to get so absorbed in the way the world does business and organizational leadership that our own arguments start to mirror the latest fads in the latest leadership books. Many churches today make their decisions regarding worship style and governance and the role of men and women and how to focus their resources based on what works in corporations, or based on metrics, or based on what the people say they want… with very little attention given to what the Bible says about the issue at hand. When it comes time to argue a case, what you’ve filled yourself up with – whether it’s scripture or self-help books or cable news or TED talks by leadership gurus – that’s what will come spilling out.
 
There were three questions/comments texted in that I didn’t have time to respond to before the end of the service:
 
1) How do we answer when people say we are not to judge others?
 
“Judge not, lest you be judged” (Mt. 7:1) is a favorite verse of this generation. It’s a way people can justify living however they want without anyone calling them out on it. However, we must not assume that the “judging” in this verse includes EVERYTHING we would consider judging.
 
The first problem is that it is humanly impossible to avoid judgment. To say, “You are wrong for judging me” is itself to make a judgment! We all judge all the time – “She’s pretty; that’s a good deal; I like this album more than that one; that game was fun; that guy is awkward.” If all that were included in the judgment prohibition, how could any of us function? And of course, when somebody judges me to be handsome, smart, funny, or talented, I’m thankful for their judgment and admire their discernment (I’ve yet to meet anyone who quotes Matthew 7:1 in response to someone judging them positively).
 
The second problem with the claim that Matthew 7:1 prohibits all judgment is that many other scriptures seem to work against that understanding. Yes, Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37; Romans 2:1; Romans 13:3-4, 10; 1 Corinthians 4:3-4; Colossians 2:16-17; James 2:1-4; and James 4:11-12 all seem to caution us against judging in some sense. But what about Matthew 19:28; John 7:21-24; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; and 1 Corinthians 6:2-5?
 
I don’t have space here to expound each of the above texts, but I would highly recommend looking each of them up and exploring what they say. Here’s my own synthesis of what I see in those verses:
 

Only God can judge…

  • Nonbelievers
  • Anyone’s worth/value
  • Anyone’s salvation status

…but we are called to judge…

  • Whether or not teachings are false
  • Christians in unrepentant sin
  • Only when we’re not guilty of the same sin
 
2) How do we discern/trust between what is truly God’s word and intent vs. what man has interpreted it to be?
 
This question comes from a portion of the sermon in which I asserted that the problem with “Bible thumpers” who misuse the Bible is not that they have too high a view of scripture, but rather that they have too high a view of their own interpretation of scripture. So this question is the logical one: how do we know the difference?
 
The most important factor in discerning the difference is to read the Word for yourself. When someone makes an assertion that isn’t a word-for-word quote of scripture, we can ask them what scriptures they had in mind when they made that assertion. Then we can return to those scriptures for ourselves. As we read, we ask, “What are the possible interpretations of this verse/passage?” Answering that question will involve our knowledge of the rest of the Bible (why a daily reading plan is so important), our knowledge of what other Christians believe (free commentaries can be found at blueletterbible.org), and basic reading comprehension skills. If there are other possible interpretations besides the one proposed, and one or more of those possible interpretations seems to square with the rest of the Bible, has had some support among Christians, and fits the grammar of the text, then that is an interpretation of God’s Word, not God’s Word itself. Instead of claiming, “this is what God says,” we ought to hold it more loosely.
 
3) Important to note that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of believers to confirm the truth of scripture.
 
This isn’t a question as much as a comment, but I do think this is a critical point to reiterate. The Bible attests to itself, but some remain unconvinced. However, for those called by God, he says, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). As we read the words of scripture, the Spirit resounds with the spirit inside of us to confirm that what we are reading is different from any other written words in existence. We recognize this to be a transcendent word, a word from God himself. No amount of intelligence or training could make us recognize this; only the Holy Spirit can impress it upon our hearts.


Bonus Content from September 9th

“Definition of a Disciple”
 
I misunderstood one of the questions that was texted in during Sunday’s sermon. I was informed afterwards that the heart behind the question was to ask something like this:
 
“The apostles walked with Jesus in the flesh. We don’t have that luxury; we’re walking in the footsteps of other flawed humans. How, then, is discipleship different for us?”
 
On one hand, it seems obvious that the twelve were fortunate – they got to watch Jesus with their own eyes, hear him with their own ears, ask him questions! So it’s natural for us to feel a little jealous of their experience. We might even say, “Imagine the disciple I would be if I had been one of those chosen to walk with Jesus in the flesh!”
 
However, this isn’t how Jesus understood the situation. In John 16:7, the night before he dies, he says something shocking to his disciples:
 
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
 
What? It’s to the disciples’ advantage that Jesus leaves? Yes. Jesus sees it as better for the disciples to do discipleship with the Holy Spirit living inside of them than even to walk with Jesus in the flesh.
 
And we have that same Holy Spirit empowering our discipleship! So even though the earthly examples we follow are flawed, and even though our access to the life of Jesus comes not through physical sight and hearing but rather by reading the gospels, we have been given everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). And the Holy Spirit indwells us to help us carry out the life of a disciple, intentionally following Jesus to become more like him.


Leaders Wanted for New Life Groups!

It’s almost time for our annual Life Group Plunge!

Each year during the Plunge, new groups launch and new leaders emerge. There are many benefits to this dynamic:

  • New groups are able to make space for people who haven’t participated before
  • New groups meet at different days of the week that meet people’s needs
  • New groups provide opportunities for people with leadership potential to exercise some of that gifting

In the coming weeks, we will be inviting everyone in the congregation to join a Life Group for the six weeks of the 2018 Plunge. However, more immediately, we are asking:

Do you have any interest in starting a new group?

In leading a new group?

In hosting a new group?

If you have any interest in learning more about trying out Life Group leadership for the 2018 Plunge, please contact Pastor Tim (thiggins.northsub@gmail.com) for more information. Also, plan to stay after church on Sunday (8/19) for a Life Group Leader Meeting (food provided) where you can learn more about the joys and responsibilities of this position.

Thank you for considering using your gifts in this critical role in our church family!

 



Bonus Content from July 22nd

Bonus Content from July 22 (Acts 25:1-22)

On Sunday, I quickly summarized the following point. Below find the full transcript of that point.

III.        What should we do in the dark, scary, lonely place? (25:10-12)

So what do we do in the dark, scary, lonely place? Of course, the first answer is to do what the Psalmists did in the dark, scary, lonely place – to do what Jesus did in Gethsemane when he was in his dark, scary, lonely place. We pray. That was Paul’s go-to – earlier this year, we preached a whole sermon series on the prayers of Paul, many of which were written when he was in dark, scary, lonely places.

But what’s instructive about verses 10-12 is that Paul is ready to participate in the answer to his prayers while he’s in the dark, scary, lonely place.

What do I mean by saying he’s ready to participate in the answer to his prayers? Well, back in chapter 19 he declared his wish to get to Rome, the heart of the world’s greatest empire, and preach the gospel there. He has presumably been praying for it. In chapter 23, Jesus showed up in a vision and told him that prayer was going to be answered; Paul will testify about Jesus one day in Rome.

But Paul doesn’t respond to that promise by just laying back and wait for God to transport him to Rome. At some point in these proceedings in Caesarea, Paul can see where this is headed – that Festus is willing to propose injustice in order to appease Paul’s opponents. So Paul sees an opportunity in that – a way to get to Rome like he has been hoping.

It’s an appeal to Caesar. Roman citizens could appeal to Caesar, meaning not that there was a verdict they were wanting Caesar to overturn, but rather that their case would be moved – before the verdict – to Caesar’s court for his decision. Now, you didn’t ordinarily want to do that, because the emperor of the Roman Empire doesn’t really enjoy having to sit through trivial court cases from nobody citizens who appealed to him. But Paul sees: hey, I’ve been praying to get to Rome, and I have a legitimate chance here to get the audience with Caesar that I’ve so desperately wanted! And that’s exactly what Paul gets.

So what’s in that for us? When you’re in a dark, scary, lonely place, be ready to participate in God’s answer to your prayers! If you’re out of work and your spouse brings you a job listing and says, “Honey, are you thinking about applying for this?” It’s not godly to roll over in bed and say, “No, I’m not putting my resume out anywhere. I’m trusting that God is going to get me a job.” Get up out of bed, wash up, put some clothes on, and spend your day applying for jobs! Don’t be the person who stands on their rooftop in the middle of a flood, waving off the rescue helicopters because you’re waiting for God to answer your prayers and save you Himself.

 

I also said I would include some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on the significance of the resurrection of Jesus. The following is from his sermon on April 1, 1888 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington.

Moreover, Paul—and he, I say, is a model among gospel preachers—teaches us to preach in our gospel all the sweet inferences which flow from the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Here they are. He rose from the dead, and therefore his sacrifice has been accepted. God has brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant. The work he has done has pleased the Father, and therefore he has brought him back from among the dead. His acceptance is ours: we are “accepted in the Beloved.”

Next, Jesus himself is clear. He had, as our sponsor, become our hostage.

Sin was laid on him, and he was laid in the grave; but now the sinner’s surety is as clear as the sinner himself: for the Lord Jesus is released from the prison of the tomb. He was delivered for our offenses, but he rose again for our justification.

Now, also, we live unto God. Our Lord Jesus died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God: so is it with us. This is our joy: his work is accepted, his bearing of our curse is finished, life in us is made manifest.

And now, beloved, we see in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that he is divine. He is “declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” So says Paul in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. Jesus raised himself from the dead by his own will. “I have power to lay down my life,” said he, “and I have power to take it again.” Who could possess and exercise such a power but a divine being?

I must repeat what I have said already, that from the resurrection of our Lord we draw the comfortable inference of the resurrection unto eternal life of all who are in Christ. We said farewell, a little while ago, to him whom we loved so well, but we shall see the honored one again. We laid our sister in the grave with many tears. Oh, how we miss her! But we shall meet her again when the trumpet shall sound. We preserve a long list of departed ones, of which we scarcely dare to think, for tears drown our eyes; yet will we refrain from weeping, for as the dew of herbs causes them to spring up again, so the rising again of our Lord restores to us the beloved ones who have fallen asleep. The broken circle of our fellowship shall be renewed, for Jesus, its center, has risen again.



Bonus Content from July 8th

“A Clear and Captive Conscience” (Acts 23:1-5)
 
Below find some material that I had to cut from Sunday’s sermon due to time constraints.
 

Where can I read more about the conscience in the New Testament?

There are several New Testament passages that speak about the conscience:

  • Acts 23:1 “And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.’”
  • Romans 9:1 “I am speaking the truth in Christ-I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:12a “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience.
  • 2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience.”
  • Hebrews 13:18 “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.”
  • Acts 24:16 “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”
  • 1 Tim. 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
  • 1 Peter 3:16 – “Have a good conscience so that when you are slandered those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

In general, scripture talks about the conscience as though it is a valuable asset. Though it isn’t our final judge and jury, it does serve as an important witness.

 

Is it ever okay to act against my conscience?

There are two main reasons not to willfully act against one’s conscience.

1)  It is always sin to do so. Even if I wrongly believe that a particular action is wrong (i.e. it is actually a permissible action), if I do that action in violation of my conscience, that action – for me – is sin. This is what Paul means in Romans 14:23 in the discussion about eating meat – if one doubts that one’s actions are right before God, one must not go through with those actions. To go ahead with an action while doubting whether it is right is sin.

2)  The conscience can be suppressed/dulled/muted. Over time, if we ignore the discomfort caused by our conscience, our sinful actions may cease to make us uncomfortable. This may be part of what the authors of scripture mean when they talk about people being “given over” to their sin (e.g. Acts 7:42; Rom. 1:24-28). The hardening of the heart is so thorough at this point that it is very difficult to repent.



Kellogg Family Update

Update on Robert Kellogg from Pastor Craig
 
As we reported to the congregation at the beginning of March, Robert Kellogg, Director of Worship Ministries, fell ill on Friday, February 16th, while teaching a class at Moody Bible Institute. He was immediately rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was there for three days. They ran a number of tests and were unable to find a problem, but set up  follow-up appointments for next steps in six weeks.
 
Upon returning home, Robert did well but had a couple of minor episodes. It was after this that Robert suffered a migraine headache. He had never had one before. It appears that long hours in front of the computer triggered the event. Doctors think his hospitalization and the disorientation he experienced during his hospital stay may have been caused by a serious migraine. Since learning of the migraine and what caused it, Robert has been careful to break up his time in front of the computer screen. In addition, he got new glasses. These changes appear to have fended off any further episodes.
 
At the time of Robert’s hospitalization, he and Lydia did not have medical insurance. They chose to cover their children instead. Many people have asked if they could contribute in order to help them pay off their bill. The Elders asked that you wait until they get all the bills together.
 
North Sub member Ken Bryan met with them to help them navigate the process of going back to the hospital to appeal for financial relief. We are happy to report that Robert and Lydia informed us on June 29th of God’s gracious blessing and answer to their prayers. Northwestern Memorial will cover 100% of their bill.
 
We want to thank all of you for your prayers, concern, assistance, and even your willingness to provide financial assistance to help them cover the cost of this incident.
 
A Personal Word from Lydia
 

Robbie and I would like to catch all of you up on what has been going on since his health scare back in February. A lot of you might have heard that Robbie was sent to Northwestern Hospital when he was teaching a guitar class at Moody Bible Institute because he had lost his communication skills and his right hand went numb. After the doctors went through all the tests that they could think of, they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. And after a couple of days, Robbie had recovered and was released from the hospital. Since then, he has had a few more migraine episodes, and after learning to adjust some lifestyle habits, rest more, and visiting an eye doctor and a dentist, he hasn’t had any more episodes as of late. A lot of you have been praying for us, and we absolutely felt that and our God has proven to us over and over again how faithful He has been in our lives. 

Some of you have expressed interest in helping with our hospital bill. Back in February, Robbie and I did not have insurance due to the rising cost of health insurance for Robbie and me and because we needed to use the funds that the church had given us toward our kids’ healthcare needs (we do have insurance now). However, the hospital has a financial assistance program for people based on their income and family size. We are so grateful for Ken Bryan who guided us through every step of that process, from the application, to the many phone calls and to the final appeal. We heard back last week that they have granted us a 100% discount to our bill, and we are speechless as to how awesome our God is, and all praise and glory go to Him!

We want to thank you to those of you who have supported us financially. We can’t express how loved we felt with your many gifts. We were able to use the money to pay for all the non-hospital fees like the ambulance fee, other doctor visits, new glasses, etc. Thank you for all the meals that were prepared for us too. They were a tremendous blessing as well. Pastor Craig, the staff and a lot of volunteers have also stepped up and helped in so many ways. And most of all, thank you for praying for us, the prayers mean so much to us and we are so blessed to be part of God’s family. 



Challenge 2018 Midweek Update

All reports from the Challenge team indicate that they are having a great week in Kansas City! Take a look below at some pictures they have sent. We look forward to a full report next week after they have returned!

Hanging out with Fritz Dale, former “North Subber”

Dynamic speakers teaching the Word of God

5000 students worshipping together

Hanging out during a brief break

Hanging out with Gabby the Tiger

Eating lunch together



Men’s Connection July 14th

Is Every Man a Leader?

Most people think that only a select few can be considered a leader.  They see leadership as belonging to those who have a special influence upon large numbers of people. 
 

At the July 14th Saturday meeting, you’ll see that opinion challenged.  You’ll begin to see how God has created every man to be a leader and what that means for you.  Be sure to join us.

 

What Is the Men’s Connection?

Men of all ages are welcome.  As men, we tend to find ourselves alone.  But we weren’t meant to be alone. We were meant to be in community … especially with other men. We need the strength, support, encouragement, and prodding of other men so that we can live our lives fully in the Lord. 
 
The vision of the MEN’S CONNECTION is that NO MAN STANDS ALONE. Our mission is DISCIPLING, MENTORING, and SERVING. This is a joint ministry of North Suburban Church and Adat Hatikvah for men, their friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
 
The Men’s Connection meets in the Club 45 Room downstairs on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month. A light breakfast and coffee will be served. Each meeting will feature a brief devotional time followed by a time of connecting in the Word, discussion, and prayer together.
 

If you have questions, please call the office … contact Pastor Craig (North Sub) and/or Neal Siegel (Adat).

 



Pray for the Challenge Trip!

This Monday, July 2nd, ten of our high school students will be departing with five leaders to go on the biennial Challenge trip with other EFCA youth groups from around the country. This year’s Challenge Conference is in Kansas City. Our students will be listening to speakers, engaging in small group discussions, participating in service projects, and enjoying recreational time with thousands of other EFCA youth.
 
Our students and leaders will be challenged to “be Jesus to everyone” throughout the trip. As such, they will be asked to evaluate themselves on a daily basis, considering where they have been Jesus to others and where there have failed to be Jesus to others. In addition, students and leaders will be given a personal journal to write in it each day in order to reflect upon where they met and/or saw God that day. They are welcome to use their journals to take notes from their breakout sessions or write down other personal reflections.
 
Below is a list of the students and leaders attending the trip. Please pray for their physical safety, spiritual enrichment, and group unity as they are away from us. The trip returns Saturday, July 7th!
 

Students

1) Tim Fensler

2) Janelle Finton

3) Brianna Hudson

4) Emily Lupu-Vieru

5) Matthew Mar

6) Lizzy Mar

7) Alec Papale

8) Kathryn Park

9) Kristina Nelson

10) Johnathan Weathers
 
Leaders
1) Alex Rodriguez
2) Josh Simons
3) Anna Lichtwalt
4) Janna Hudson
5) Pastor Craig
 
Read more about Challenge Conference here.


From the Elders – June 22, 2018