A Pause to Give Thanks – For You! November 22 2017

(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")

When BCF began in 1974 it was difficult to envision what the Lord might do, or whether it would still be in existence 43 years later.  This is especially astonishing when one considers that it started with a Bible study book called Self-Confrontation, probably not a title that a marketing strategist would have recommended.  And “first take the log out of your own eye” would never have been chosen as a theme verse to put on the cover.  But there was a reason for the title, and by God’s amazing grace, here we are.

If you know much about BCF, you know that it is not a centralized ministry.  The goal from the beginning has been consistent with what Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 2:2:
And the things which you (Timothy) have heard from me (Paul) in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

The BCF ministry does not revolve around us in our little office in Indio CA, but around the Lord and the God-ordained local church, designed to nurture and strengthen believers locally and reach out to a world in great need.  That need has always been there, but the world somehow seems even more needy today, as it drifts farther and farther away from God-established principles for living.

BCF has had materials, classes, and seminars from the very beginning, but the desire has been to see the ministry of in-depth biblical discipleship grow through the local church.  If you are reading this blog today, that means you, a representative of a local body of believers.  You may meet in a big city or a small town; in a church building, industrial park, school, home, college dorm, prison, or some other far-flung place around the world; you may meet in a public place or in secret.  But the local church is where the ministry of God’s Word really takes place.

This Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to thank you – those of you who have been out there faithfully teaching the Word of God, biblically discipling/counseling people in need, ministering in prisons, helping behind the scenes, and otherwise encouraging the saints.  You are people in every state and many nations, discipling one-on-one, in small groups, from the pulpit, in Sunday School class, by audio, video, and by simply demonstrating Christ-like love in ways that are both seen and unseen.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War President Abraham Lincoln  proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent  Father  who dwelleth in the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.  But giving thanks was originally God’s idea.  And we use this as an opportunity to give thanks to Him and to you, the ones who are out there as pastors and lay people, old and young, male and female, of many races and nationalities, rich and poor, healthy and feeble, as you teach, disciple, serve, and love others.

As we give thanks to God for allowing the ministry of BCF to continue for 43 years, we also give thanks for you in the local church.  We realize that BCF’s longevity is not because being a servant is a great marketing campaign, nor is learning to “deny self” a way to sell a lot of books.  One of the attributes of the title is that the Self-Confrontation course doesn’t “sneak up on people.”  The title can give you pause as you think “Hmmm. Do I really want to do this?” And then you realize that while these truths can be very painful to hear, they are the way to righteousness, peace, and joy in any and every circumstance.  We see how important this is to the Lord in Romans 14:17:
“for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

We are no different than the first century Christians in facing difficulties.  They had struggles too, as described in John 6:66:
“As a result of this, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.  Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”

Yet somehow, despite the weaknesses of the vessels that attempt to convey His message, God has used these truths to transform many lives, including many of you.

So we give thanks today for those of you who have said with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We are thankful for you in an age where we are seeing fewer and fewer people desiring to be students of the Word of God, and we realize even more how privileged we are to be involved in this ministry.  Paul’s message to the Corinthians sums it up beautifully:

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.  And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-6)

I recently re-watched the video about the history of BCF, and it made me even more thankful for all of you who have been involved over the years.  You might be interested in watching this video by Bob Schneider of how and why BCF got started.  You can view it at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy3tYNeRMt8&feature=youtu.be

God bless you as you celebrate this holiday in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln with “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father"

Steve Smith