Interview with Dr. Darrell Bock Concerning Truth Matters

Post by Selma Wilson, president of B&H Publishing Group, and originally posted on her blog.

I am very excited to share a Q&A with Dr. Darrell Bock, author of the new release, Truth Matters. This book supplies its audience with well-reasoned responses to their often honest questions or to the objections they read or hear. Those questions may come from professors, friends, or their own personal reflections. It’s an enriching lifesaver for curious young minds and hearts everywhere.

9781433682261_cvr_webQ: First, what was the motivation behind the book, Truth Matters?

A: I wrote the book to myself. What I mean by that is when I was in college, I was an agnostic. I didn’t believe. I had a lot of questions and a lot of skepticism about the Bible. I knew what it was to have those questions, and to think that way. And I’ve come in my time in ministry to know what I think the answers to those questions are. So in a very real way, this book is written to me, or someone who would have been my roommate, who was a Christian and didn’t know the answers. I roomed with a Southern Baptist and I had all these questions and he really didn’t have a clue how to answer them. The quality of his life spoke to me just as much as some of the answers he was trying to tell me. On the flipside, I thought that if he had been better equipped it would have been nice. So this book is written to me and my roommate at the time.

Q: So you had all these questions, where did you start finding your answers?

A: The first thing I saw was the quality of life that people had, they lived differently. They viewed the world differently, and that got my attention. Then having gotten my attention that way, I began to pay more serious attention to the answers they had provided. Tone came first, truth came second.

Q: Who’s your target audience?

A: Everybody: the college student who heads off who has questions; the person who has more questions about the Bible; the roommate who lives with the person who has questions; the parents who don’t know how to answer the questions. It’s really written for anybody, and in my view it’s really the rest of the story. It’s often what you don’t hear the culture saying about Christianity that the culture should be aware of.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to have a resource like this before they set off for college?

A: They’re going to hear a lot of things about Christianity when they’re on the college campuses. If they’ve grown up in the church, especially the conservative church, most of what they hear will be news to them. And in some cases, it could be unsettling news. So, knowing what they’re hearing isn’t the only angle on what they’re hearing is very, very important.

Q: Anything else that you really want readers to know?

A: Here’s what I think is somewhat distinctive about the book: We are not claiming—as often previous apologetics types of books do—that we can prove to a 100 percent degree everything that we’re talking about. We are trying to say that what happens in the conversation with the culture is you’re trying to get them to discover the plausibility, probability, and likelihood to be open to what it is the church has to say to the culture. And we think there are good reasons for having that openness. I don’t think anyone can put a 100 percent fail-safe proof on it, no one can do that. If someone could do that, we wouldn’t need to have faith.

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Thank you, Dr. Bock, for sharing your insight on such an important issue today!

Blessings,

Selma

Guest Post – Does Seventy-Seven Times Equal 490?

77Understanding cross-references is important for the preacher and teacher. Cross-references often add life, meaning and depth to a passage of Scripture.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” - Matt 18:21-22 NIV

The common footnote in this verse explains “seventy-seven times” as “seventy times seven.” Most of us realize that seventy times seven (490) is much larger than seventy-seven (77). However, are we missing the point of what Jesus was saying?

A common method of rabbinical communication during Jesus’ time was cross-referencing. Specifically, when Rabbis would mention even a couple words from a verse of Scripture, it would bring to mind ideas, emotions and teachings associated with the verse from which it was mentioned.

In our example, “seventy-seven times” is a quote back to Genesis:

Lamech said to his wives, 

‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times. - Genesis 4:23-24 NIV

Lamech was a descendant of Cain, the murderer of his brother Abel. Earlier in Genesis 4, the story of Cain killing his brother in a fit of jealousy and rage is recounted. Immediately following the retelling is this quote from Lamech on avenging seventy-seven times.

The hearers of Jesus’ teaching this day would have known this Scripture reference. They would have had a mental picture of Cain and Lamech, and their thirst for out of control vengeance. Their hunger for over the top payback would have been in their thinking while listening to Jesus.

Also, the number seven throughout Genesis and Scripture symbolized completeness, finality. Lamech’s intention is this: If someone broke his arm, he would snap their neck. He was eager to pay back double, or triple. He would go one up or further on any offense committed towards him.

Now here’s the punch line of Jesus’ teaching: We should be as eager to forgive far beyond any offense towards us as Lamech was eager to repay any offense towards him. Our forgiveness should be far above the sin, just as Lamech’s revenge was far above the offense. We should unleash forgiveness as Lamech unleashed vengeance. 

This whole forgiveness teaching doesn’t focus on the amount of forgiveness. The main point is our inner drive to forgive. The invisible heart of ours that we are often so reluctant to face is the focus. Our desires should be to forgive without restraint. Then we are forgiving as Jesus’ taught. 

Who knew that forgiving seventy-seven times meant much more than forgiving as often as you can?

Please God, help me to change. Help my desires to match your Word. Help me to want to forgive in an uncontrolled and unrestrained fashion. Thank you.

What cross-references have you discovered that gave you further insight into a passage of Scripture?

bradandresBrad Andres is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. He is the author of The Scripture Reader’s Manifesto and a regular contributor to Prayers-For-Special-Help.com. His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God given potential for life. To hear more of Brad’s thoughts, check out his website at BradAndres.com, find him on Facebook, follow him onTwitter, or circle him on Google+.

Guest Post – The Church and Extended Family

1375019_10102649454633520_703365999_nEvery year my family travels down to Jonesboro, GA for our Thanksgiving get together on Black Friday. While everyone else is unloading their big screens and midnight deals from their morning adventure, I’ve already downed an entire can of black olives (not exactly the wisest choice). All twenty plus aunts, uncles, cousins and significant others circle up and say grace before we sit down to a meal that will guarantee some form of turkey coma later in the day.

This picture of family has been ingrained in my mind for as long as I can remember. As we pulled out of my aunt and uncle’s driveway I always wished we lived closer so that we could get together more often. A few times a year just isn’t satisfying enough.

What if somehow I was able to create this “family” feeling wherever I lived? That’s the question I felt God ask me in an upstairs youth room in an urban church in San Francisco. There have to be others like me who are searching for this feeling or have never even experienced the joy that it brings.

On second thought, what if my family all served the same city and people we love whenever an opportunity arises? What if this family wasn’t limited by numbers, but grew as people welcomed others they know, love and that desire to have a relationship with God?

This is and has been my vision for the church. As much as someone desires the spiritual gifts or longs to see healing, I want to see two strangers grow to love each other like brother and sister. In all my prayers I want the people I know to care about each other on the same level that my God and parents care about me. I want it to be the same biblical level as the first believers in Acts 4:32.

Revolutions don’t just happen. Is this too revolutionary? It happened in the Bible. Couldn’t some form of this at least happen now? Without a big budget, rented space, a piece of land, great children’s programs or even a Sunday morning service, could anyone in a community create a Christ-centered family in their community?

We knew that God wanted to use us to connect with people in our city and invite them to be a part of our family. Sharing what is happening in our lives, what God is telling us and what we’re doing about it isn’t just strategy, it’s how you build relationships.

That’s what we desired. We wanted to eat together, serve together, grow together, cry together, celebrate together and worship our incredible God together. So is it possible? I know it’s possible because we’re doing it. It wasn’t random or some elaborate plan. I meet another man, Merle, who had the same vision as me. We began meeting together and praying for this. The two of us soon became four, four became six, six became twelve, twelve became eighteen and so on. And our church, Windborne Church, was born.

Windborne hasn’t just happened. God knew that people in Athens, GA were longing for an extended family. He spurred us on to find others who felt the same. God sent us out into the community to be involved together, be missionaries in the city we love and to invite the lost into our homes.

The Thanksgiving with family isn’t just once a year now.  It’s every Thursday at 6:30 at Merle’s house and we’d love for you to come eat with us if you are ever in the Athens area.

Andy Slagle is recently married, an aspiring chef, computer nerd, teacher and church planter in Athens, GA. He worked along with his wife, Kristen, in campus ministry for two years before being a part of  WindborneChurch. You can find more information here.

How do you create community where you live? Share with us!

Guest Blog – Producing Fruit

erikstanleyOver the past 3 years my wife, two boys and I have been serving in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We first started out going down on the weekends, until we were called to go and serve full time.  We been down here for the past two years.

Before becoming a missionary I was working in the corporate world, working long hours and missing the life God had blessed me with at home. I became a slave to the things of this world and worked just to provide things to my family. I wasn’t spending time with them, which is what they needed more than all the material things.

In 2009 I felt moved to start working from home with my wife so I could be more involved at home, raising my boys and being a good husband. Being home gave my wife and I time to read the Bible every morning and get fed, and also helped us to get closer to each other.

I began to become more hungry for the Word and found WORDsearch. As I dug deeper into the Word, I began to not only read it but study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and most importantly apply it. I was hungry and thirsty to learn more and understand the Word more. The WORDsearch software really helped guide me and give me the tools to get a better understanding. The great thing that I found was I just needed more time in the Word. In 2010 I decided to read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation and began reading in December. As I read the Word I began to get convicted and repent from the way I was living.

In September 2011 my family and I sold everything and moved to Mexico to share the Gospel. It has been a real journey the past two years, full of ups and downs. We have been molded, stretched, disappointed, full of joy and many other different feelings. The things we have done and are doing would not have been possible without the hand of God. We have had doors opened and by faith and His promise we have stepped through them.

We are teaching families here how to make soil, and growing gardens in an area of Mexico where there is no soil, only sand as far as the eye can see. We now have over 20 families with gardens producing healthy fruits and vegetables. We call our ministry F.A.I.T.H. gardens, which stands for Food Always in the Home. We got this idea from a ministry that was started in the Philippians and is still growing strong. We also are teaching at local community centers here weekly and have just been invited to teach at local elementary, middle, and high schools. I am teaching and preaching at a local prison here twice a week, and I preach at a men’s rehab center once a week. I never would have thought I would be doing what I am doing today. Nor could I have been doing what I am doing without being led by the Holy Spirit.

The WORDsearch app for smartphones has been great. While I am waiting in the prison, or out and about in the community, I have at my finger tips all the devotionals, commentaries and Bible translations with me. When I am feeling weak, or discouraged, or overwhelmed with joy, I have with me on my phone the Word and the many other tools with me. Please make use of all the great tools that WORDsearch offers and keep daily in the Word of God. Seek Him in every step in your ministry and find strength in Him. Scripture I like to hold close to and can really relate to is:

Philippians 4:11-13 (NASB) 

11  Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

He is our strength! Over the past year we have baptized 12 people, six of which are convicted felons in the local prison. We disciple five families weekly and visit many families out in the community. I am thankful for all God has given us and the families He has put in our path. We must slow down enough to hear His voice and then be obedient to step in His ways and not our own. I never thought I would be preaching and yet He is giving me opportunities weekly. I never I thought I would be baptizing men and women and yet He is providing me the people and producing fruit in their lives and ours.

Ephesians 2:10 (NASB) 

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

God has created us with a purpose and He knew before we did that we would walk in His ways. What are you waiting for ? Trust in Him and He will make your paths straight. You will be able to experience the super natural life in Him. Keep the faith and watch the fruit produced and know Who it is that is producing it!

Erik Stanley and his family are missionaries in Rocky Point, Mexico, teaching the local community how to garden and make compost so they can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Please check out their ministry via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/erikandmarthafaithgardens

Guest Blog – The Deadliest Enemy of Ministry

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Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/480759328943085329/

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/480759328943085329/

C.S. Lewis called it the “one vice of which no man in the world is free” (Mere Christianity, B.3, ch. 8). Scripture says it was the cause of the rebellion and demise of both Satan and humanity (Isaiah 14, Genesis 3). Tim Keller says it is the reason that there is no peace in the world and that we cannot live in peace with each other (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness). It is the sin that we easily see in others but rarely see in ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul calls it by its Greek name: “physioo.” This word translates as: “to puff up, to inflate, to bear oneself loftily.” More commonly it is referred to as pride.

Pride threatens to creep into our hearts and tamper with our motives for any “good work.” It’s a sin that does not die easily in the hearts of believers and certainly not in my case. I’ve only been in “vocational ministry” for four years, but my love for the Word and for discipleship began long before that. While those are exciting, God-given passions, my flesh and the Enemy often twist those desires into a means of exalting myself.

Much of the Church in the U.S. has become infatuated with a super-star-Christian, celebrity-pastor culture. We place godly pastors and leaders on impossible pedestals. Not only that, but we (those in all sorts of ministry positions) have at times believed the lie that we too deserve to be praised and applauded. Unless we choose to walk in the Spirit’s power (Galatians 5) our flesh will always work towards that end.

Paul offers hope in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. He urges the Corinthian Church to remember their salvation calling:

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

What is the one thing we can boast in? He does not say our Bible knowledge or ministry “accomplishments.” We boast in Christ and in His accomplishment on the cross. Each Christ-follower is righteous, sanctified and redeemed by Jesus’ work alone. This leaves no room for pride.

Paul also wrote to the Philippian Church concerning Jesus’ attitude, which far surpasses fleshly attitudes:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2).

Christ died so that our pride would die. He rose from the dead so that His selfless attitude could thrive in us (“which is yours in Christ Jesus”). Only when we are not enslaved to pride can we love the Church and the world well.

And isn’t pride enslaving? Isn’t it bondage to need to be praised for our ministry efforts, admired by others spiritually, and seen as more “theologically-knowledgeable” than others? If we don’t deal with it, pride will be the demise of our ministries to the Church and of our testimonies to the world.

But if we learn to daily submit to the Spirit, the attitude of Christ frees us to fulfill our ministries for His glory and for our joy.

As we enjoy our different roles in building up the Church we must remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:4-8:

“For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

Andrew Murray called humility “the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all” (Humility). As we look to our Savior, may the Spirit empower us with His selfless attitude to love the Church and the world well.

Have you struggled with pride? How did you manage it? 

523587_10101579572520850_1788154785_nEmily Kelly lives in Athens, GA with her husband Mark, where she is the college women’s director at Watkinsville First Baptist. She is passionate about discipleship and helping younger girls know Christ through the Word. She loves spending time with her husband, with her family and with the awesome students in Athens.

 

A Special Guest Blog from our President, Selma

Wilson.3123Thank you for all you do to serve the church. Through the ministry of WORDsearch, it is our team’s desire to offer you resources and tools that will equip you in all that you do to build up the body of Christ and hopefully messages that will help you to not lose heart and to keep running the race God has set before you.

My mother was raised in a family that was very religious. In fact they were so religious, they didn’t go to church because they saw the church as less than perfect. My great-grandmother led my mother to faith in Christ as a young teenage girl and as she grew in her faith, she also grew in her longing to be a part of a church family. Mom told me stories of looking out her bedroom window where she could see the small country church in her community and longing to go. She began to pray that God would give her a husband that loved Christ and loved the church so they could go together and take their children.

God answered that prayer. I had the wonderful joy of having a Mom (and Dad) that loved the church and loved the leaders of the church. I was never allowed to be critical of the church. On many Sundays, the pastor or other leaders in the church would find their way to our house for Sunday lunch where Mom would love to serve and encourage these leaders.

So today, wherever you are, I want to encourage you and cheer you on in the work you do to serve the bride of Christ – His Church. Hebrews 12: 1-2 says it best: “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”

I have the honor of leading the team of B&H. This past year, WORDsearch joined our team. Leading any organization requires a focused vision or mission and key values that create the culture for health and success. You may already have this clearly defined. If not, give it some thought. You may want to pull in a few key leaders for a retreat or workout session to refresh or refocus your mission and create some key guardrails to measure the ongoing health of your church or team.

B&H’s mission is to create content in all forms that impacts people around the world with the truth of the gospel.

We have four key leadership and cultural stakes or guardrails for our mission.

1.  Strategic spiritual leadership – we will seek God for our strategy. Our ultimate goal is to line up all we do with God’s assignment for us and His agenda in the world.

2.  Business Leadership – we are committed to growth. We will grow because we want more people impacted by the gospel. We will use the tools of business to help us penetrate the market with the truth of
Christ.

3.  Excellence – we are committed to being knowledge leaders. We want to be good stewards of all that God had given us.  The gospel requires us to give our best. Excellence does not mean perfection but it does mean a dying to self and being all in!

4.  Learning Organization – we commit to develop and teach others. We will pour ourselves into the lives of others raising up future leaders so the baton of faith and the mission of our organization lives on after the current leaders retire or move on. Discipleship is about teaching. We must make the younger generation a priority.

It is our honor to serve you. Keep your eyes on Jesus and run the race all the way to the finish line!

Blessings,
Selma Wilson
President
B&H Publishing Group

Selma Wilson plans, directs, controls and coordinates the acquisition, development, production, marketing and selling of LifeWay’s trade products and services through B&H Publishing Group. She also oversees Crossbooks and WORDsearch.