Five Points Blog

New Bible Study Hour Classes Beginning

Starting this Sunday, September 7, we have new Bible Study Hour classes (9:30 am) for adults that are starting. Cindy Verner will continue to teach a women's study on the Gospel of John (in Rooms C & D), and Mike Houston, elder, and Eric Leiendecker, deacon, will continue to lead the College & Career class (Room A). I will be teaching through the Old Testament book of Daniel in the sanctuary with some other elders. And two of our other elders, Mark Kakkuri and Kyo Oh, will be teaching a class on the doctrines of grace (in Rooms I & J).

Here is how Mark described the class he and Kyo will be teaching:

"The world should realize with increased clearness that Evangelicalism stands or falls with Calvinism."

Provocative, eh? Those 14 words are the first words of the first chapter of The Doctrines of Grace, the book that forms the basis of a new Bible Study Hour class that starts Sunday, September 7, in Rooms I & J at 9:30 a.m.

Kyo Oh and I will be teaching this class and we invite you to join us for an in-depth look at the gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel of grace.

You should join us...

  • If you're new to Five Points, as this class will help explain more about our theological foundation.
  • If you're new to terms such as "Calvinism" or "reformed theology" or acronyms such as "TULIP" and want to know more.
  • If you're interested in seeing the glory of God and the gospel transform relationships.
  • If you love the gospel and are amazed at God's grace with you.
  • If you wonder what all the theological fuss is about.

For more information...

A Visit to Oxford University

Teaching has existed at Oxford, England since the year 1096. Today, Oxford University is the oldest place of learning in the English-speaking world; it has been a school for 918 years. From its early days, Oxford was a center for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century professor, campaigned for a Bible in the vernacular against the wishes of the papacy. During the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford. In the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country. The 18th-century professor of geometry, Edmund Halley, predicted the return of the comet that bears his name, and John and Charles Wesley's prayer meetings laid the foundations of the Methodist Society.

It was at this historic wellspring of scholars that C. S. Lewis schooled, graduated, and later taught in its halls. He was the famous Christian apologist who helped steady the courage of the British people during World War II with his weekly radio program of hope and faith; the famous debater of his time who challenged the atheists with well-reasoned arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity; the author of many Christian-focused fiction and non-fiction books widely read today.

I was privileged to be traveling to this place last October to attend a conference on C. S. Lewis knowing full well that I did not comprehend the impact this school and its graduates have had on the world. I left a week later having had my brain crushed under the weight of trying to absorb a fraction of what was shared on Lewis, his life, his views, his faith, his thinking, and the heights of his intellect which call us upward to a God we will never stop knowing more fully. Among the speakers was Dr. Michael Ward, a research fellow at Oxford and author of The Narnia Code.

Each morning Dr. Ward shared a part of his amazing insight into how Lewis loved myth, lore, and stories of medieval literature (Lewis’ academic focus). One story of Lewis’ life that was shared was how before Lewis was a Christian, his friend J.R.R. Tolkien would share the gospel with him. One day as they walked together, Tolkien—remembering Lewis’ love of mythology—said, “What if one of those myths you love were actually true?” Tolkien talked to Lewis of the story of a person who so loved that he gave himself, so that others might live. Lewis knew this story—it was common in the ancient medieval myths. It speaks to a desire for virtue common to all people. This was the turning point in Lewis’ life, the day he began to realize, “What if one of those myths actually happened?”

Lewis went on to lecture and write on medieval literature in a new way. It was no longer mankind’s existential hope in virtue but now a foreshadowing of the true myth. Lewis would write about how we live in a “shadow land” that is only the weakest of images of what is waiting for us. We live now as vapors full of holes, but then we will be solid for the first time. We go to a reality that will not compare to this world, to a glory that has weight.

The mythological story form Lewis uses in his fiction enables us to identify, to feel, to experience more fully the truthfulness of ideas in our world in a way that speaks to our humanness. God makes us both rational and imaginative—by using both we can know God more fully.

Join us for a two-part event, “A Voyage into Narnia,” that will help you understand and appreciate more of C. S. Lewis, his world of Narnia, and how he intended for us to see God by breathing Narnian air. On Wednesday, May 28, Dr. Michael Ward will join us to discuss the imagery of Narnia that C.S. Lewis used to speak to our souls and draw us to God. And on Saturday, May 31, Joe Rigney, professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of Live Like a Narnian, will apply Lewis’ Chronicles to our call to be and make disciples.

Activities Cancelled This Afternoon & Evening

With all the snow and wind, we have cancelled all activities for this afternoon and evening.

In addition to enjoying a cozy evening indoors with family or roommates, consider spending some time praying for …

  1. God's favor in pursuing the sale of a portion of our property (the team handling this endeavor has met with a couple potential buyers and representatives from the city—a "for sale" sign will go up soon).
  2. The Levi's Room building project to have all the contractors, supplies, and volunteers needed weeks before the May 5 building push.
  3. The elders to have wisdom as they meet Thursday night to discuss how to shepherd the congregation and pray for you.
  4. The gospel to advance in the places the people of Five Points live, work, and play leading up to Resurrection Sunday.
  5. Women to be encouraged and edified through Tapestry and a new Tuesday prayer gathering.

Worship Service Continuing as Normal

This morning's worship service will continue as planned at 10:45am. If you are able to safely join us, come adore the incarnate Christ with us.

Is God Leading Us to Sell the Western Acres?

The following is the content of a document distributed at the combined Bible Study Hour on November 3 where we further discussed the Planting Joy vision and why the elders brought a proposal to sell a portion of our property.

Is God Leading Us to Sell the Western Acres?

When considering this question three important acts of God must be recalled:

  1. We have embraced an articulation from the elders of ministry advance called Planting Joy.
  2. In a significant step toward making Planting Joy a reality, we have pledged to raise nearly $800,000 and, now eighteen months later, those pledges are fulfilled. The Lord has richly supplied, and that money is in hand.
  3. At the Members’ Meeting on October 13, the members present voted in an evenly divided split (41 to 41) for and against a proposal to authorize the officers of the elder council to engage in a sales agreement of up to 8.5 acres of our unused western property. The explicit purpose of the sale was to fund Phase 1 of the building proposal of Planting Joy. This makes plain the need for further leadership and discussion among us to clarify our values and draw into unity our sense of God’s best for Five Points on this question of funding a new building.

Why Do the Elders Believe God Would Have Us Sell the Western Acres?

Our answer can be outlined in four parts: 1) selling represents the highest act of biblical stewardship of God’s land and resources; 2) selling maximizes resources for ministry; 3) selling flows from current cheerful providences; and 4) selling and building now positions us well for the long-term future of gospel ministry at Five Points.

1. Stewardship of God’s Resources

a.   Since all we have is God’s, stewardship becomes a matter of living by faith not by sight. In faith, it seems clear to the elders that the very best stewardship of our unused western acres is to sell them and use the proceeds to facilitate a large surge in development on our remaining 11 acres.

b.   Selling the western acres seems to honor well the original intentions for the land purchases by the congregation in Five Points’ history. Surely this land sale will serve our ministry needs best here and now (see Planting Joy documents).

c.   The building vision we’ve adopted will not be altered in any significant way.

d.   The current buildings continue to cost more and more to maintain. As such they represent a serious drain on biblical stewardship. To plan on occupying them for 3-5 more years, the probable time it would take to raise money for Phase 1 without selling land, represents a good deal of God’s gifts poorly spent.

e.   Selling the western acres at fair market value allows us to move forward with Phase 1 of our plan without incurring significant long-term debt.

f.    While we can’t predict the movement of the market for selling—though trusted consultants emphasize now is the opportune time to sell—we can confidently predict that the cost of building will steadily rise over time (currently estimated at 5-10% increase each year). This significantly increases the stewardship of selling the land now to begin building by Spring 2015 rather than incur the cost of waiting with uncertainty until 2018-2020.

g.   Selling the western acres faithfully acknowledges God’s kind provision to us and employs it well in ministry growth. If we do not sell the western acres, stewardship calls us to discern a specific purpose for holding the land.

 2. Ministry Maximizing

a.  The current facility regularly proves itself inadequate for current ministry, in terms of space and flow. This will only be exacerbated with growth. Worship services, Bible Study Hour, Resolved: Student Ministries, Children’s Ministries, Friends Group, House of Jacob, Petra, even the education groups that borrow our facility all face space and flow challenges presently. All these ministries will benefit dramatically from the swift addition of new space.

b.   New ventures of ministry entailed in the Planting Joy vision will be enhanced by a near-term construction of Phase 1. Educational endeavors, outreach efforts, cooperatives with Oakland University student groups, and many more future ministries will be spawned in the new space available sooner rather than later. 

3. Current Providences

a.   Having discussed, prayed, consulted, and studied for several years on this growth vision and for nearly a year on the question to sell, the elders are unified in hearing God’s voice in this direction to sell the western acres.

b.   The most common proposals from buyers have to do with using the land for family or student housing, which would be a very desirable use for our neighbors as well as for ministry potential.

c.   The market for selling land for housing use in our community is in a favorable state for sellers at this time. It likely will not last according to banking, finance, and real estate consultants.

4. Future Vision

a.   The elders believe the rebuilding program we have adopted will be the very best gift we can give to future generations of believers at Five Points.

b.   Investing and developing our land and facility now makes a bold statement to our neighbors that we value more highly God’s glory than we value land-holdings or buildings. Our gospel witness on this corner takes a big step forward!

c.   A vision for growth in the life of a congregation always reveals and enhances spiritual growth in the lives of individual souls and the wider congregation.

d.   Even if we borrow a short-term note to finish the project, which the elders could propose once the total cost and future fund-raising are more definitive, we are still handing our spiritual descendants an excellent facility on a large piece of well-positioned land, debt-free.

Join us on Sunday, November 17, at 9:30am as we hold another special, combined Bible Study Hour to further discuss the Planting Joy vision.

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