Category: Blog

D-Now is Coming!

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Chase Grubb
Minister of Students

One of the highlights of our student ministry calendar will be here before you know it.  Our Disciple-Now weekend kicks off Friday night, February 24th with registration beginning at 5:30pm and dinner at 6:00pm.

D-Now 2017 – AWAKENING:  Ezekiel 11:19-20

 

DNOW 2017 graphic

What Is D-Now?
“D-Now”stands for Disciple Now. So, a D-Now Weekend is a Disciple Now Weekend. In its simplest form, a Disciple Now Weekend is a weekend retreat for a youth group. Chances are you do some form of a retreat with your students, right?
But there are a few distinctions that make D-Now Weekends different from a normal retreat. D-Now Weekends are an amazing time where a large portion of your church has the chance to play an important role in your students’ lives.  Check out this short video, where we asked members of the D-Now Student Advisory Team to share their thoughts on why Disciple Now is so important to their youth ministry, church, and students.
Components Of A D-Now Weekend
While not every D-Now Weekend is the same, here are a few of the core components that make them such an awesome environment for your students to grow spiritually.
Discipleship Oriented
Whereas some retreat weekends are more about getting away and hanging out (which is NOT a bad thing), D-Now Weekends put a high premium on discipleship. There are Large Group sessions where a speaker can move the weekend’s theme along from a big-picture perspective. And there are super-intentional Small Group times where students go deeper with their individual small group leaders. It’s a focused time of spiritual growth and application.
Host Homes & Small Groups
“Host Homes” are a key feature of DNow Weekends. A host home is where a family in the church agrees to host a Small Group for the weekend. Many youth ministries will bring back former students to lead a Small Group, or use the weekend as an opportunity to plug-in prospective adult volunteers.  Regardless of who’s leading the Small Group, the leader & the students will meet in the host home for Bible Study (when they aren’t at the church for Large Group sessions, or other activities).  Groups consist of similar aged students.  They’ll usually spend at least one night and will eat a few meals with the host home family. It’s an AMAZING way to get a greater portion of your church involved in your ministry.
Church/Community Focused
While it’s not the case in every single D-Now Weekend, the vast majority of them take place at your church, as opposed to a retreat facility. Most D-Now Weekends will see the Large Group Sessions occurring at your church, while the Small Group Sessions happen in host homes. It’s an awesome way to create a real tie-in to your church and your city.

 

 

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Is The New Testament Reliable?

Cameron Debity Pastor

Cameron Debity
Pastor

Here’s a concise version of a talk I did recently for a high school Bible literature class. My hope is that this will serve as introduction to the subject of the reliability of the New Testament to prepare for you questions that you’ll eventually face about it. If you are interested in a more in-depth treatment or are curious about helpful sources, please let me know.

The Reliability of the NT: Can we really know what the original manuscripts said?

How can we know that when we read the Bible that we are reading the words of the original authors? Many people argue that since we don’t have the original autographs that the Bible isn’t trustworthy. Here are some refutations to that line of thinking:

First, we have well over 2,000 Greek manuscripts of the gospels. Compared with other ancient writings, this is a wealth of material. Classical scholars are often forced to rely on a handful of manuscripts of ancient texts whereas NT scholars are overwhelmed with primary material.

Second, many of the gospel manuscripts are quite old and therefore trustworthy. We have a few papyrus fragments of the gospels that date to the second century with more from the third century. Full-scale manuscripts of the gospels and the rest of the New Testament can be dated to the fourth and fifth centuries. Now, this might seem like a significant time gap between the writing of the gospels and the manuscripts we now possess but compared with other ancient Greek writings, the New Testament documents are in a different league. For example, the earliest manuscripts of Herodotus (5th century B.C. Greek historian), Plato (4th century B.C. Greek philosopher) and Josephus (1st century A.D. Jewish historian) are at least 1,000 years later than the time of writing.

Third, though the process of copying ancient documents wasn’t flawless it was quite reliable. Moreover, because contemporary scholars understand this process, and because there are so many copies of the New Testament, scholars can identify scribal errors and changes with a high degree of probability.

Finally, though there are a few verses in the gospels (less than 3%) in which some words may still be uncertain, the clear majority of verses in our critical texts reflect the original writing or something very close to it. Additionally, the disputed words are almost always trivial.

All of this means that when you read one of the New Testament gospels, you can have great confidence that you are reading what the original manuscripts really said.

 

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Different, But Similar

Vince Scarbrough Minister to Preschool & Children Families
Vince Scarbrough
Minister to Families & Connections

Recently on a Sunday morning, I had a great conversation with a five-year-old boy.  He was inquisitive and had a lot of questions about God. There were things on his heart that did not make sense to his five-year-old brain. His first question was, “What happens to us when we die?” After we talked for a few minutes, he seemed content with my answers and without another word he simply went back to playing. Everything was good in his world once again. He just needed some help lining up what he was hearing and what he was experiencing.

A few days later on a Tuesday morning, I had a great conversation with a seventy-five-year-old man. He was inquisitive and had a lot of questions about God. There were things on his heart that did not make sense to his seventy-five-year-old brain. His first questions were, “What happens to us when we die? Are we immediately with God?” After we talked for a few minutes, he seemed content with my answers and without another word he shook his head and we moved on to the next subject. Everything was good in his world once again. He just needed some help lining up what he was hearing and reading.

I have the incredible blessing each week of spending time in a class setting with children on one day and senior adult men on another day. Oh, what fun I have! And the similarities between the two groups are more than you can imagine. Sure, there are a lot of differences: the amount of hair, the color of the hair, the language they use, the modes of transportation (canes and scooters), the ability to get in the floor and then up off the floor. But there are a lot of similarities too: both groups are missing teeth, both groups are rebellious, and both groups like to eat sweet things – one group likes the soft pastry type and the other likes candy. And both groups have questions about God.

As followers of Christ, our faith journey will be filled with questions about the God we serve and the Savior to whom we have surrendered. It is through our questions and the seeking of answers that we grow to understand more about God as His Spirit works in our lives. It is such an encouragement to hear young and old ask questions about God. Both ages often have similar questions – but on a different level. As we age, our questions about God most often take on a more personal note. Rather than understanding mere spiritual truths and biblical concepts about God, we want to understand how those spiritual truths impact us on a personal level; how they will play out in our individual life. We move from, ‘I think I understand what happens when people die’, to wanting to understand ‘what will happen to me at the immediate point that I die?’ As our faith grows, so should the theological depth of our questions.

 

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A Quick Study

Jeff Smith Minister of Education & Administration

Jeff Smith
Minister of Education & Administration

If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you personally read your Bible often. But sometimes we need to do more than just read the Bible; we need to study a Bible passage, whether to teach it, to study it with others, or to study it alone with the Lord.

So I would like to offer a couple of tricks that I’ve found most helpful to begin studying a Bible passage. I’m assuming that you probably don’t have vast amounts of time to do Bible research (and most weeks, I don’t either!). So if you are studying a Bible passage, how do you quickly probe the meaning of the Biblical text, and identify points of question that might require a closer look?

My first trick is to read about the historical background of the Bible book. I look for an overview of who wrote the book, to whom the book was written, when the book was written, and what was going on at that time. I try to absorb those historical details so that I can place myself (as best I can) in the shoes of those who first heard the text. Although this step takes time, it later prevents me from wasting time pursuing possible meanings that wouldn’t have applied to the original hearers.

Historical backgrounds of Bible books can be found in many resources, including Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and study Bibles. There are good resources online as well, such as My Word Study Bible (mywsb.com), ESV Online Study Bible (esvbible.org), and Bible Gateway (biblegateway.com), among others.

My second trick is to simply read the passage, in context, in three or four English translations. Typically, I pick one translation that’s more literal, like the English Standard Version (ESV); I pick one that’s more explanatory, like the New Living Translation (NLT); and then I pick a couple that are in the middle, like the New International Version (NIV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Then I read the translations, one after the other. Sometimes I put them beside each other and compare.

Reading multiple translations gets me into the Bible text itself, and helps me drill down on the core meaning of the passage. Most Bible translations have been worked on by scores of Biblical scholars. So, by comparing their work, I get to see how they each decided to express the Biblical text in English. Where there is basic agreement between the translations, then I can have confidence that there is little dispute about what the text means. Where the translations differ slightly, I’ll look for nuances of meaning that might be present. But where the translations differ significantly, I’ll look closer, and determine whether that section needs more study. At the very least, I’ll know not to make quick judgments on that section of the Bible text.

But the best “trick” I use in Bible study is to remember to speak with the Author. I have to remind myself to not get so immersed in studying the Bible that I forget to consult God! Through Jesus, God’s Holy Spirit lives in me, and he wants to guide me to understand his words and how to obey them. So as I study the Bible, I try to remember to humbly turn to God along the way, and ask him to teach me.

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The Battle Rages On

Vince Scarbrough Minister to Preschool & Children Families
Vince Scarbrough
Minister to Families & Connections

Dear adults, I have a few questions for you. Where are you spiritually? Are you maturing in your spiritual walk? Are you faithfully serving God for his glory? Are you immersing yourself in the Word of God? Are you praying without ceasing and maintaining fellowship with God? If you aren’t, please know that our kids need you to be.

We all know that children depend on adults for their physical and emotional needs. But, they also depend on adults for their spiritual needs. They depend on us to show them what a vibrant and active relationship with God looks like. I am not talking about bringing them to church and involving them in a program or an activity. I am talking about living out your faith in God in front of them each day. If I asked the children in your life, “What is the most important thing in your (Dad/Mom, Grandfather/Grandmother, Uncle/Aunt, Teacher/Troop Leader, Coach/Tutor)’s life?”, How would they answer me? What would they say you are most passionate about? Do the priorities in your life point to God or to something else?

We, the adults in our faith family, are called to a God given responsibility to guide and direct our children in the ways of God. We have the responsibility of equipping the next generation in our faith and helping them to understand why we serve God. Please know that we cannot lead our children beyond where we have been and beyond where we consistently go in our faith walk. Our kids need adults in their lives who are willing to unashamedly pursue and declare the things of God — Adults who are willing to invest in them and live out a passionate love for Christ in front of them.

mom-and-kid-silloetteGod has entrusted today’s children and students to our care. And our responsibility, both in the church and in our family, is to establish a biblical framework in their lives that will prepare them to face the realities of life in the days ahead. Our service to our Savior in the life of children and students has eternal consequences. Each day we engage in spiritual warfare for the souls of the next generation. What we do in the classrooms, hallways, and worship center of HBC has eternal consequences and we need faithful men and women who are willing to take a bold stand in the name of Christ. I would argue that more than ever before, we need men and women who are willing to engage in a spiritual battle for the souls of our children and students. Adults, our children and students need you and our church needs you – to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, showing the next generation what it means to put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand against this present darkness.

How will you allow God to use you in the life of our young people?

 

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