Rev. Dan Hawn
Once upon a time, a
teenage daughter complained to her father about how difficult life was. She
said: “As soon as I solve one problem,
another takes its place. I’m tired of struggling.”
Her father, who was a
chef, took her to the kitchen, filled 3 pots with water and placed them on the
stove. When the pots came to a boil, in one, he put sliced carrots, in another,
an egg, and in the last, cocoa mix. After awhile, he turned off the burners and
poured the contents of the 3 pots into 3 bowls.
Finally, he turned to
his (impatient) daughter and asked, “Tell
me what you see.” She rolled her eyes and said, “Obviously, I see carrots, an egg, and hot chocolate.”
He then asked her to
touch the carrots – they were soft & mushy. Next, he asked her to crack the
egg – it was hard inside. Last, he asked her to taste the hot chocolate – it
“What’s the point, Dad?”
He explained that each
item faced the same adversity (boiling water), but reacted differently. The
carrots fell apart; the egg became hard inside; while the cocoa MIXED WITH THE
WATER AND BECAME SOMETHING REALLY GOOD!
With that, he reminded
his daughter that Jesus said we would have many troubles in this life. We have
no choice about that. What we can choose
is how we react. We can be like carrots and fall apart; we can be like an egg
and become hard-hearted; or, we can be like cocoa mix and make the best of it.
How do you respond to adversity? How are you responding to
adversity right now?
When dealing with
adversity, God promises to be with us, and to use the situation for our good
(Romans 8:28). That’s a powerful promise.
first call this morning was from a gentleman who recently arrived in Harlan and
is wondering what kind of church we are. He wanted to be sure to avoid one of
those “liberal” Baptist churches.
like this is one of the reasons the at-large deacons are reviewing our Statement
of Faith (entitled “What We Believe,” last reviewed in 1999).
Statement of Faith is typically a 1-2
page document that spells out the core beliefs that unite the church. (For this
reason, perhaps a better term is Statement
of Core Beliefs.)
are several reasons for having a Statement
of Core Beliefs:
and foremost, every local church is charged with “guarding the good deposit
that was entrusted to us” (II Timothy 1:14). By “good deposit,” Paul means the
essential or core doctrines of the Christian faith that must be protected and
passed down to succeeding generations.
a Statement of Core Beliefs is a
means of distinguishing between core and non-core doctrines. Some doctrines,
such as the divinity of Christ, are essential to Christianity and are worth
dying for. There are other doctrines about which we can respectfully disagree.
An example of a non-core doctrine is the belief that Christ will rapture the
Church prior to a period of tribulation.
affirmation of the Core Beliefs can
be a qualification for spiritual leadership in the church, including that of
pastor, teacher, small group leader or deacon.
the Statement of Core Beliefs can be
used as a teaching tool in the various ministries of the church, especially in
our ministry to children & youth.
the Statement of Core Beliefs can
help guide members in choosing another church if/when they leave the area.
in similar manner, the Statement of Core
Beliefs is important information for those who might consider joining our
pray for the at-large deacons as they work on this project.
article is a day late because I went to Kansas Monday and didn’t get home until
went to see a fellow pastor who’d been a good friend of mine while we lived in
Wichita. Last December, this friend suffered an emotional breakdown and only
recently returned to full-time status at his church.
explained that one of the factors in his breakdown was the lack of close
friends to talk with.
several years, the two of us met at least once a month for breakfast to discuss
life & ministry. We also met quarterly, usually for an entire day, with
three other pastors. However, around the time I moved to Harlan, two of the
other pastors also moved to other churches, while the third got into another
line of work. This left my friend all alone.
to a study by Duke University, loneliness in America is rampant.
researchers found that over the past two decades, Americans’ circle of close
confidants has shrunk dramatically. In addition, the number of people who say
they have no one with whom to discuss
important matters has more than doubled, to nearly 25%.
were surprised by the large change. Typically, you wouldn’t expect such dramatic
change in such a relative short period of time.
researchers suggest four things:
- People move more often,
usually for job reasons.
- People are busier and have
less time to foster close relationships.
- The Internet tends to
encourage superficial relationships.
- Participation in civic and
religious groups is down.
Who do you talk to? Do you have somebody
you can (and do) confide in, or do you keep everything bottled up?
of our strategic goals at First Baptist is to substantially increase the number
of small groups in the church. A small group is defined a group of 8-12 persons
(4-6 couples) who meet regularly for Bible study, prayer, fellowship and
serving. One reason for this is to create an environment for deeper friendships
among brothers and sisters in Christ.
Bible encourages friendship. Probably the best known is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have
a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
our thoughts are with the people of Boston and the bombings that took place
there yesterday. It is a day of sorrow & mourning.
should I try to comfort you in the aftermath of this tragedy?
I try to comfort you politically, by
saying that America is a strong and resilient nation?
I try to comfort you militarily, by
saying that our military might is unsurpassed and our enemies will be defeated?
I try to comfort you financially, by
saying that we are wealthy and can purchase additional security for ourselves?
I try to comfort you geographically,
by saying that we live in the Midwest and unlikely to be a target of such
I try to comfort you psychologically,
by saying there are things we can do to help us cope with disasters of this
I try to comfort you eschatologically,
by saying we won’t be around when things get really bad?
fact is, as the people of God, we don’t put our hope in any of these things.
Rather, our hope is this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God that
is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
Piper said the following on the Sunday following the 9/11 attacks:
Your steady, solid hope
this morning – and it is the only lasting hope – is that if you will trust
Christ as your precious Savior and your supremely-valued King, then you will be
folded into the love of God in a way that no terrorist, no torture, no demons,
no disasters, no disease, no man, no microbe, no government, and no grave can destroy.
That’s the hope of the Christian life. It is not a political hope, a military
hope, a financial hope, a geographical hope, a psychological hope, or an
escapist hope. It is a blood-bought, Spirit-wrought, Christ-exalting,
God-centered, fear-destroying, death-defeating hope.
After the service on
Sunday, several were interested in knowing what sparked the conflict at First
Baptist, Wichita KS . . . that eventually resulted in the church going from
4,300 active members (in the mid-1950’s) to only 100 (by 1961).
It’s an interesting
story, and one that I think is very instructive for us as we focus this month
One of the things
Christianity had been struggling with throughout the 19th & 20th
centuries was theological liberalism. Most of the debate was centered on a
changing view of the Bible. For example, liberals didn’t believe that the
miracles in the Bible actually happened, including the Virgin Birth and
were perceived as “buying into” this theological liberalism, including the American Baptists Churches USA (ABC/USA).
First Baptist Wichita belonged to the ABC and was its most prominent member.
The concern over the
ABC seemed to be validated when the denomination officially joined the National Council of Churches (NCC), an
ecumenical umbrella group that formed in 1950.
The NCC was perceived
as an extremely liberal organization, both theologically and politically. There
was evidence of Communist influence. In addition, the NCC took positions
In response, First
Baptist Wichita formed a 10-person committee to study the church’s relationship
with the denomination. In March, 1960, the committee recommended that the
church cease all financial support of the ABC/NCC. The vote was 1,170 to 235.
Then, in July, 1960, the church voted to leave the denomination altogether.
This vote was 739 to 294.
The minority refused
to accept the will of the majority and began conducting a separate worship
service in the church’s chapel. The majority believed that the church should
worship together and had the doors to the chapel padlocked. The minority
responded by worshipping off-site. The minority also filed a lawsuit, claiming
that the church building belonged to them (the pro-ABC group).
The District Court
sided with the majority, but their decision was appealed to the state Supreme
Court, who reversed the decision and “awarded” the building to the minority. At
this, the majority left and formed a separate church, located a couple of miles
Both sides believed
they were acting on principle and the differences did appear irreconcilable. The majority felt they were taking a
stand for the Bible, while the minority thought the concern about liberalism
was overblown. In addition, the minority was motivated by a sense of loyalty to
the denomination and wanted to continue supporting all the good things that the
denomination was doing.
In hindsight, both
sides violated (ignored) some key biblical commands & principles with
respect to peacemaking. Had they not done so, I believe the conflict could have
been worked out. We will study these commands & principles in the weeks
You’ll recall from
last week’s article that the canon (or question of canonicity) has to do with
which books are truly inspired by God and thus rightfully included in the
The 39 books of the
Old Testament have been part of the canon at least since the time of Christ.
The 27 books of the New Testament were officially canonized in the late 2nd/early
Keep in mind that the
Church doesn’t DECLARE a writing to be inspired (a writing either is or isn’t);
rather, we RECOGNIZE a writing as such.
The Roman Catholic
The Roman Catholic
Church considers 12 additional books to be part of the Old Testament canon.
These additional books are generally referred to as the “Apocrypha,” a word
that means hidden or concealed.
As Protestants, we do
not include the Apocrypha in the Old Testament canon for the following reasons:
apocryphal books were never received by the Jews as God-given Scripture.
books were never accepted as canonical by Jesus or his apostles.
portions of the books are obviously legendary and fictitious. In addition,
there are numerous historical, chronological and geographical errors.
to the apocrypha was strong even within the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, this
opposition was silenced by the hierarchy, which decreed (at the same time) that
the “holy Mother Church” alone maintained the right to give the true
interpretation of Scripture.
There are other
apocryphal writings, many of which are known as the New Testament Apocrypha.
They are not considered part of the canon for 3 reasons:
were written much later (after the apostles had died);
were written under assumed names; and
of the content is quite bizarre. For example, in one of the books, as a boy,
Jesus supposedly struck another boy dead for having bumped into him.
Generally speaking, a
book had to pass 3 tests to be included in the New Testament canon. First, the
book had to have been written by an apostle or sanctioned by an apostle.
Second, the book’s teachings had to be consistent with the Old Testament
prophets and New Testament apostles. Third, the document had to have widespread
and continuous acceptance by the Church to be included.
Church could have erred in formulating the canon, but after 2,000 years,
there’s no credible evidence that it did. Bottom line: we can be confident that
the 66 books included in the Holy Bible together constitute the Word of God.
Last week during BYF,
a 4th grader had a question for me:
“Pastor Dan, how was it decided
which books would be included in the Bible?”
Frankly, I struggled
to answer because (a) it’s a question that doesn’t lend itself to a quick
answer and (b) I needed to use language and concepts that a 4th
grader would understand.
The bigger issue is
that, as people of the Book, we should know how we got the Bible. This is especially
true now that the Bible is no longer as respected (or consulted) in our
Which books rightfully
belong in the Bible is known as the question of “canonicity.” The English word canon goes back to the Greek word kanon and then to the Hebrew word qaneh. The word literally means
“standard” or “rule.” It was also used to refer to a list or index, and when
applied to the Bible, denotes the list of books which are received (recognized)
as Holy Scripture.
The Old Testament
Both Protestants and
Catholics accept the Jewish Scriptures as being inspired (“God-breathed”) and
thus authoritative. We know from history that, by the time of Jesus, the canon
of the Old Covenant was fixed. Jesus quoted from the Jewish Scriptures often
and it’s clear he regarded them as sacred writings. The 1st century
historian Josephus did us the favor of actually enumerating the books contained
in the Jewish Scriptures.
The New Testament
As to the New
Testament books, not long after they were written, they were being read
regularly in the church assemblies. The words of Jesus and his apostles were
regarded as no less authoritative than the Old Testament. In this way, the NT
canon gradually took shape. By the close of the second century, its essentials
had been largely determined, and by the next century, the NT books as they are
known today constituted the supreme authority for the church.
Next week: Why certain
other writings were NOT accepted into the canon?
son Kyle is on leave from the Air Force and we’re excited to have him at home
for a few days. On Saturday, we’re going to St. Paul, so he can see my side of
the family before he heads back to his base in Cheyenne.
we’re proud of Kyle for his military service, I actually want to write to you
about a man named Tim Martz, who has been a big influence in Kyle’s life.
see, as an inner city church in Wichita, we didn’t have a big youth group. So,
what we did was divide the few kids we had into small groups of 4-6 high school
students, plus a leader.
Martz led the group that Kyle was in, along with 3 other boys. He had them over
to his house every Sunday night throughout their high school years. His wife
Cathy cooked a simple meal and then they usually played a game or did something
crazy. After that, it was Bible study and prayer time.
this was EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT for 3-plus years. Even to this day, Tim stays in
contact with Kyle and prays for him nearly every day. He even made a trip to
Cheyenne last year to see how he was doing.
a quiet, but powerful ministry!
made this ministry so powerful? One word: RELATIONSHIP. First, was Tim’s own
relationship with Christ. It was (and is) profoundly deep. Second, was his relationship with Kyle. The
months of consistent time together created quite a bond between them.
will always be grateful to Tim. He’s also been an example for me on how
discipleship is supposed to happen in the church.
questions: (1) Who’s been YOUR “Tim Martz”? Whoever it’s been, be sure to thank
God for him/her. (2) Who are you being “Tim Martz” to? In other words, who are
you investing YOUR life in? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a high school
kid. Maybe it’s a neighbor, a colleague, a relative.
it’s no one at the present time, ask God to bring someone to mind that you
might start investing in. That is a prayer He will be sure to answer.
week, I am concluding our series on the “currents” running through our culture
that, in the span of just 50 years, have turned Christianity into an
increasingly minority religion in the United States.
are the remaining currents in the categories of media/technology and mission:
media saturates our lives. The average person under the age of 30 now spends
virtually every waking minute using a smart phone, computer, television or
other electronic device. The power of the media to shape our thinking has never
supersaturation of media has turned us into shallow thinkers. We are also more
isolated relationally, and increasingly narcissistic (self-absorbed).
media outlets aren’t just biased, but have a specific agenda.
live in the “Age of Celebrity,” and increasingly turn to celebrities for our
information on complex subjects. Those with actual knowledge about complex
subjects are relegated to the margins.
single greatest threat & challenge to Christianity in the coming years is Islam.
The remaining unreached people-groups of the world are largely Muslim and very
resistant to the gospel. The Church will require a mighty work of God in order
to fulfill the Great Commission.
Happened to Evangelism?
when fulfillment of the Great Commission is becoming the hardest (see above),
more-and-more Christians (at least in the West) are becoming increasingly
apathetic about evangelism. Much of this is due to rising beliefs in pluralism
(all religions lead to God) and/or universalism (everyone will be saved).
I want to conclude the series the same way it began:
by quoting I Chronicles 12:32.
“From the tribe of Issachar, there
were 200 leaders, . . . All these men understood the signs of the times and
knew the best course for Israel to take.”
May we be like the men of Issachar . . .
understanding the times and knowing what must be done.
sharing with you the 25 “currents” running through our culture. These currents have
a profound effect on Christianity and our own walk with Christ. Number’s 11-15
fall into the category of marriage & family.
#11: Just Not into Marriage
The state of marriage is crumbling.
In 1960, 72% of adults were married; today, only 52% are married. Cohabitation is skyrocketing.
Porn is now mainstream. The porn
industry currently makes more money than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay,
Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined.
#13: Modern Family
No other change in public opinion has
been as swift as the acceptance of homosexuality. The shift has been
breathtaking, and has taken place in less than a generation.
#14: Regarding Gender
Society is becoming genderless –
i.e., is increasingly spurning the inherent differences between men &
women, boy & girls.
#15: The Disappearance of Childhood
A new and startling cultural trend is
the tendency of children to grow older younger. A leading sociologist says:
“Children are being robbed of their innocence, their naiveté, their ability to
even be a child.”