FAT (Faithful, Available, Teachable)
A (new) LIFE group of FBC (First Baptist Church) Black Forest
(last updated 01/10/2020)
(click here to skip down to Weekly Lessons)
Since FAT was founded by ongoing members of the UnShackled LIFE group, we are taking advantage of the UnShackled website in order to have a web presence. Most of the information on the UnShackled site is of general interest and not specific to the UnShackled LIFE group. So FATties, feel free to peruse the UnShackled site. FAT specific information will all be available via this page.
FAT is a relatively new LIFE group of FBCBF. We began operation on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019. We meet during the 3rd service, beginning at 11:15 am, in Room 212.
We have been inspired to begin this LIFE group by the Ray Vander Laan video series That the World May Know. For the foreseeable future, the teaching portion of our Sunday meetings will consist of first viewing a video lesson and then discussing that video. Each video lesson runs about 20 minutes.
What is That the World May Know, you may ask. Ray Vander Laan (RVL) has been conducting tours of the Holy Land for many years. Each video lesson consists primarily of RVL presenting on-site biblical lessons to the group he is taking on tour. There are some visual aids and a number of camera shots of the area in question. Each video (at least all that we have viewed, so far) ends with a "faith lesson," or application. We have found these lessons to be interesting, informative and inspiring.
For more info, visit the website: That the World May Know!
We will make use of the companion "Discovery Guides" that are available. These study guides provide material, not just for the video lesson itself, but for five additional individual study sessions for those who wish to dig deeper. FBC has generously provided us with these study guides, so they are available at no cost to us. Both videos and guides are also available at the the Focus on the Family bookstore and online (just google "that the world may know" - Amazon and others carry them, including the above linked website).
Expectations for FAT members: None, other than attendance and possibly being "available" on occasion - that is part of our name, after all. But while there will be nothing mandatory, the study guides encourage the memorization of Bible verses and we strongly encourage beginning to memorize Scripture, if you have not done so already.
Our current plan is to make available here on the website reference to the specific lesson we will be covering each week. Important note: while many of the lessons may be related to one another, each stands on its own. If you miss a Sunday, you will not be left at a disadvantage the following Sunday. Not that we want you to miss!
There are currently 16 "volumes" of That the World May Know, each containing 5-8 lessons. The sequence is not very important and as previously stated, each lesson stands on its own. We will be doing all the lessons within a volume in order, but the volumes will not be done in sequence.
We have completed volumes 3-5, and are beginning volume 6 - "In the Dust of the Rabbi." After completing this volume, we will go back ad so volumes 1-2, before picking up the sequence at volume 7.
More info to follow.
Important Update (02/20/2019): Ray Vander Laan will be speaking at Focus on the Family on April 17. Seating is limited. If it isn't too late, you can register here: An Evening With Ray Vander Laan. Update: The event was great, About 1600 people were there. If there was a single takeaway, it was that every word of Scripture is important. We often think some of the text is just adding some detail that isn't really necessary. But we were challenged with the phrase "Why do I need to know this." There is always a reason.
Completed (Oct. 6 - Nov. 17):
For six weeks, beginning October 6, we presented FBC's very own SD 1.0 Discipleship Course. For more details and much useful information: SD 1.0 - Simply Discipled and Strategically Deployed.
The link contains information and links pertaining to the course, with my own presentation notes for 5 of the 6 sessions. The six weekly sessions are:
Growing in Jesus.
Conversing with Jesus.
Joining Together in Jesus.
Serving with Jesus.
Sharing Jesus with Others.
In the Dust of the Rabbi
(01/12/2020) "Living Stones" - Lesson 4 from In the dust of the Rabbi (vol. 6)
The focus is on the Temple of Athena in Priene. A magnificent temple, where, apparently, all the stones were cut in the quarry for a specific place in the temple. What about the temple of the Christian God?
1 Corinthians 3:16 - Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19 - Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
Romans 12:1 - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Get the connection between the stones of the Temple of Athena and the "living stones" of the Temple of God?
1 Peter 2:5 - you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Each of us is a stone for God's temple, and each of us has a place in that temple. And it takes a community, a fellowship, to put that temple together. One cannot do it by oneself.
You have heard me pontificate before on the importance of not dividing our lives into separate secular and sacred spheres. One thought that struck me, both in my Quiet Time and in watching the video is that as part of God's temple, we are representatives of God in that temple, and in everything we do. Sobering.
(01/05/2020) "The Presence of God - A Countercultural Community" - Lesson 3 from In the Dust of the Rabbi (vol. 6)
While we are resuming RVL and "That the World May Know," we are also going to spending some time over the next few weeks discussing stewardship. Why? Because we are going to be having a new capital campaign. This week's lesson? The Treasure Principle - "You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead."
Back to RVL. Although volume 6 is all about making disciples, we've been talking mostly about being a disciple so far. How do you make disciples in a culture that is completely out of tune with the Christian way of life. The Hellenistic culture was not merely out of tune, it was totally hostile. To a considerable degree, Christians were excluded from both economic life and political life in the predominant culture(s) of the time. The easy thing to do would be to accommodate to the culture, to compromise. Question: would Christianity have survived until today had Christians made a habit of accommodating to the cultures of the time? What about today? Are we accommodating? Are we compromising our faith? Are we going along to get along? How best to avoid these things? Obvious answer: to belong to a fellowship of faithful believers. In America today, that means belonging to a church - a church that is faithful to Scripture. While that is only the start, it is essential. How to make disciples? Step 1: draw them into a fellowship of believers.
(12/15/2019) "When the Rabbi Says 'Go'" - Lesson 2 from In the Dust of the Rabbi (vol. 6)
This lesson culminates in the "go" aspect of being a disciple. There is a contrast between the disciples being called from nowhere-ville, so to speak, and being sent to the big, sophisticated, materially comfortable metropolises. And no matter where we grew up, as disciples of Christ, we are placed in a similar situation. Our faith labels us, in the eyes of many, as rubes from nowhere, while they are sophisticates from contemporary, modern American culture. We must not make the mistake of allowing ourselves to be seduced by that culture. We have the message that the culture needs, not the other way around.
Jeremiah 9:23-24: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(12/08/2019) "When the Rabbi Says 'Come'" - Lesson 1 from In the Dust of the Rabbi (vol. 6)
This lesson would have been a perfect fit for the week after we finished our SD 1.0 discipleship course, since it is primarily on what it means to be a disciple. Not just this lesson, but the subsequent ones as well.
What does it mean to be a disciple?
1 John 2:3-6: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Who is called to be a disciple? (hint: all of us)
Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
More Scripture on what it means to be a disciple:
John 8:31-32: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
RVL lists three building blocks of discipleship - we'll discuss the importance of each:
Word of God
Time permitting, we'll also discuss how lifestyle choices and contemporary culture can undermine our commitment to discipleship, and how the above three building blocks can be used to overcome the undermining.
The following is some material I put together for Pastor Bob's seminary course last Spring:
Some believe that that being a Christian and being a disciple are two different things. There is “ordinary” Christianity for the typical Christian, and then there is a higher, more challenging version known as being a disciple. John MacArthur puts it this way: “In the past hundred years or so, it has become popular to speak of discipleship as a higher level of Christian experience. In the new terminology, a person becomes a believer at salvation; he becomes a disciple later, when he moves past faith to obedience. Such a view conveniently relegates the difficult demands of Jesus to a post-salvation experience.” I do not believe that Christians are divided into the varsity (disciples) and junior varsity (“ordinary Christians”). I believe that all Christians are on the same team and we are all called to begin a journey of discipleship once we are saved. MacArthur concurs: “Every believer is a disciple and vice versa. A careful reading of Acts shows that the word disciple has been a synonym for Christian from the earliest days of the church (cf. 6:1-2, 7; 11:26; 14:20, 22; 15:10).”
So how do we define disciple?
Billy Graham liked to keep things simple: A disciple is simply someone who believes in Jesus and seeks to follow Him in his or her daily life.
Pastor Bob elaborates: A disciple is a lifelong, loving, devoted, disciplined Christian who is a follower, learner and servant of Jesus Christ, bearing fruit that remains.
I put together the following definition for Pastor Bob’s class: A disciple is one who sincerely loves, trusts and follows Jesus Christ by learning his ways, applying those ways to one’s own life, and assisting others to do the same.
What are the key components of being a disciple? Here I will go with Pastor Bob’s definition because he has some great key words:
Lifelong – from the moment of becoming a Christian. (Phil. 3:7-17).
Loving. (Luke 14:25-26).
Devoted. (John 13:34-25).
Disciplined. (1 Tim. 4:7-8).
Follower. (Matt. 4:19; 9:9).
Learner. (Matt 11:28-30).
Servant. (John 13:12-20).
Bearing Fruit. (John 15:5).
How do we do this? What are the essentials? Jesus tells us (there is some overlap with the above).
Spend time in Scripture: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31b-32).
Love Jesus and keep his commandments: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(John 14:21).
Love one another: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
Seek to follow Jesus, no matter the cost: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”(Luke 9:23).
Produce fruit: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5).
(11/24/2019) - "Hot or Cold" - Lesson 5 from The Early Church (Vol. 5)
This lesson is from Laodicea, one of the seven churches in Revelation (Rev. 3:14-22).
Many interpret the hot and cold as hot being for God, cold being against - but at least those are strong firm positions, unlike lukewarm , which is very wishy-washy. But both hold and cold are good - in different ways. Lukewarm is still wishy-washy.
We will be discussing more specifically what it means to be a church that is hot, cold and lukewarm. And how does this translate to individual church members? How can we, as individuals, be more hot or more cold? How do we avoid being lukewarm?
Memory verse (Colossians 3:12): Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience
(09/22/2019) - "The Mark of the Beast" - Lesson 4 from The Early Church (Vol. 5)
This lesson is from Ephesus, one of the seven churches in Revelation (Rev. 2:1-7).
Although not emphasized in the video, the "mark" in this case is the outward acceptance of the pagan beliefs that dominated the city. Ephesus was the center of Artemus worship and apparently became the center of emperor worship under Domitian (81-96). From our perspective, the issue becomes how do we testify to God's truth in a society that is dominated by secular values (even among Christians!).
Thought experiment: You live in NYC and have recently become a Christian. You know a relatively small number of relatively new Christians. Everybody else in NYC is something other than Christian, all go along with the prevailing culture, and consider Christians to be second class. The city is full of bad stuff - views, behaviors, etc. - and you are convinced that Christ is the answer. What do you do? How do you feel? Where do you start?
(09/15/2019) - "Where Satan Lives" - Lesson 3 from The Early Church (Vol. 5)
This lesson is from Pergamum, one of the seven churches in Revelation.
Here is what John had to say about Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. 13 “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’"
Much of this lesson focuses on what John meant when he says that Satan has his throne in Pergamum. There are a lot of possibilities and perhaps they all apply. RVL's interpretation of that a "white stone" is different from any other I have read.
Nicolaitans? From Zondervan Bible Dictionary: The Nicolaitans were judged by the author of Revelation to be most dangerous, because the result of their teaching would have conformed Christianity to the world rather than have Christianity change the world.
Notes about Pergamum:
Site of the first temple built to the Caesar cult (Caesar is divine).
Huge library, rivaling Alexandria.
Snake cult (Asclepius) was very important.
(06/09/2019 and 06/16/2019) - "City of the Great King - parts 1 (the Temple) & 2 (Jerusalem)"
These lessons are a little different in that the focus is on the city of Jerusalem. There is considerable use of the 1:50 scale model of the city and temple around the time of Jesus. There is a bit less focus on the faith lessons, but I found the background material involving the temple specifically and the city generally to be interesting and informative.
06/09 1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV - Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
06/16 Psalm 143:1-2, 8 (this is a biggie!) -
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
(06/02/2019) - "Gates of Hell"
This lesson is going to offer up a major challenge to us. I don't want to spoil it, but consider the following. How have we, as individual Christians and as a body of Christians, been dealing with the changes in our culture over the last several decades and today? We have been defensive, haven't we? We've touched on this before, but as I understand it, the recent book, The Benedict Option, calls for a strategic retreat into our own Christian strongholds. I hear many say that culture is defeating biblical values and biblical truth and we simply have to learn to deal with it. Is this what the Bible teaches? Well, you can guess the answer, but come on Sunday and see the whole lesson. Give some thought to the following two questions: How is contemporary American culture waging war on the Bible? What can and should we be doing about this, both as individual Christians and as a church?
The key verse to ponder on is this (Matthew 16:18 ESV): And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Consider what this verse is saying about the relationship between Christ's church and hell (Satan). Confession: I have always focused on what is probably the least important part of this verse.
Memory verse (1 Tim. 4:9-10 ESV)
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
(05/26/2019) - "Piercing the Darkness"
There is going to be a lot to discuss. This lesson covers a lot of territory. Regarding feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000, have you ever attached any significance to the fact that there we twelve and seven baskets of leftovers picked up? Me neither. And then there is the Gerasene demoniac. We all know that Jesus told him to go back to his family and tell everyone what the Lord had done for him. Were you aware that he was an incredibly successful missionary? It is right there in the Bible, but we've probably never made the connection. One of the lessons to take away from this: we should seek evil out and confront it; we should not wait for evil to come to us.
Memory verse(s)? A little long, but valuable to remember when confronting evil:
Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV):
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Years ago, Karen and I heard Rev. E.V. Hill preach on the full armor of God (our local crisis pregnancy center got great speakers for its annual fundraising dinner). Anyway, he was using the KJV or the NKJV, and his repetition of the "fiery darts of the wicked one" (v. 16) has stuck with me all these years even though the translations I prefer are different.
(05/19/2019) - "When Storms Come"
This is Lesson 1 from Volume 4 - "Death and Resurrection of the Messiah." It used to be that when "storms" came into our lives, they were of a personal nature - relationship difficulties, financial setbacks, legal issues, etc. Of course, these storms still exist and can blow our lives off course. But in addition, we have external factors that possibly did not exist before - the primary example being an active hostility to the Christianity being displayed in the public square. The Sea of Galilee is the example and basis for this lesson. Anyone who thinks the violence of a storm on such a "small" body of water should think again.
The main area of discussion this week will be on how we should respond to the storms in our lives when they arise. Some draw closer to Christ, some draw away. I think we can all guess what our response should be!
This week's memory verse is a good one to have and you probably already know it. Kind of. I have found that being able to quote a verse with confidence is of great value. We can call up the verse when we have a personal need and we can call it up when it might be of benefit to another. For this week: Luke 10:27 (ESV):
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
(04/28/2019) - "Misguided Faith"
Lesson 7 talks primarily about the Crusades. I would quibble that he left out some of the context in which the Crusades occurred, but the message is sound - you don't spread the Christian faith, and you don't act in Jesus' name by using methods that Jesus would never condone. It is easy to try to justify - or at least excuse - the extremes of the Crusades on the actions of Muslims leading up to and during the Crusades. But does non-Christian behavior on the part of non-Christians justify non-Christian behavior on the part of Christians? So how do we deal with evil in the world? How do we respond to attacks and oppression and discrimination - things we are seeing in America today. Our memory verse tells us in a broad sense, but we are stuck with working out the details.
Memory verse (Romans 12:17-19 ESV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
(04/14/2019) - "The Language of Culture"
Lesson 6 focuses on how Jesus used language that various of his listeners could relate to. And not just language, but events. Knowing this and knowing more about the culture of Jesus' day can help us better understand what Jesus said. And understanding our own culture can help us better communicate Jesus' message to our own contemporaries. And though no mentioned in the video, Paul made it a point to speak to people in terms that they could relate to and understand. Check out I Corinthians 9:19-22.
Here is a teaser. Have you ever heard of the city of Sepphoris? I never had, yet it was a large city being built up just three miles from Nazareth beginning shortly after Herod's death - namely in Jesus' time. This entire lesson is presented from the ruins of the theater in Sepphoris.
Memory verse (2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV):
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
(04/07/2019) - "The Rabbi"
This lesson is done from Gamla. How many of us were previously familiar with Gamla? This is our fifth lesson and Gamla has been mentioned in three of them. Why? Because it was the home base of the Zealots. Did you know that the symbol for the Zealots was a palm branch? What does that tell us about the Triumphal Entry?
But this lesson does not focus on any particular event or specific teaching, but rather on simply on Jesus as teacher or rabbi. We learn quite about about the function of the synagogue in Jesus' time. The following verse, while mentioned in our Discovery Guide, is not the "official" memory verse. But it is the verse of our other LIFE group and one that really applies to Jesus' teachings. Everyone knows "the truth will set you free" part, but the key is that the truth comes from Jesus' teaching.
(John 8:31b-32 ESV)
(Jesus speaking) “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
03/31/2019 - "No Greater Love"
The lesson begins on the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus is thought to have delivered the Sermon of the Mount. And, in fact, the lesson begins with the Beatitudes and ends more broadly with the Sermon on the Mount. RVL considers the Sermon on the Mount to be God's "battle plan" from moving from the Torah to the NT concept of the "Kingdom of God." Jesus is beginning to establish just what the meaning of the new covenant is. But in between, a visit to the ruins of the city of Korazin allows for a discourse on Jewish marriage customs in Jesus' time and how understanding them can help us better understand a number of NT references, such as our suggested Scripture memorization for this lesson:
(John 14:1-3 ESV)
(Jesus speaking) "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."
03/24/2019 - "Trip Report"
Dick will first be telling us about his trip to the Holy Land. If we want, we can put off this week's video until next week.
03/17/2019 - "The Time Had Fully Come"
The focus of this lesson is on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Essene community at Qumran. We might consider the most important aspect of the Dead Sea Scrolls to be their confirmation of the accuracy of the Old Testament as we have it today. But the scrolls also tell us much about the Essene community, their beliefs, and how those beliefs indicate that the Jewish community had been prepared for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose "Time Had Fully Come."
The video lesson says little about the discovery of the scrolls. The Discovery Guide (which hopefully we will have this week) provides more information. But for those who want to learn more about the Scrolls, here are a couple links. 25 Fascinating Facts is a nice, quick summary. For more detail, The Dead Sea Scrolls from the Encyclopedia Britannica has it all.
Suggested Scripture memorization (Luke 11: 35-36 NIV)
(Jesus speaking) "See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
Evangelism (completed - for now - August 2019):
"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15)
In short, we all need to be prepared to be able to present the essentials of the gospel message. Most Christians are unable to present the basics of the gospel message off the top of their heads. So how can we present it when opportunities arise? One easy way is to simply have a tract on our person that we can pull out and read from or reference. But it would be a lot better if we simply have the basics down cold.
There are many ways to actually present the gospel. FBC encouraged us all to learn the "Three Circles" approach through our LIFE groups. Some people actually left our church over that!
Dwight Moody was once approached by a lady who told him that she didn't like the way in which he presented the gospel. Moody replied that he wasn't too keen on it himself and asked the lady how she presented the gospel. "I don't" she answered. Moody then said that e thought his method to be better. Indeed there is no perfect way to present the gospel. There isn't even total agreement as to what the essential components of the message are. But there is no doubt as to what the best method is: it is the one you are willing to use.
Now by remarkable coincidence, I have put together all sorts of resources on evangelism. Here is the entry page from which you can access all the resources: Evangelism. Feel free to go ahead and check out these pages. Soon we will spend one Sunday going over some of the gospel presentation methods and discuss some of the pros and cons.