One of the things we learned from our Spiritual Life Survey (results here) is the importance of embedding God’s Word everywhere we can. Sue approached me with a project a while back for posters that would have the books of the Bible on them to hang in the classrooms at First Trinity. We also wanted a matching bookmark to accompany them. Here’s what we came up with:
We went with white text on black to improve readability from a distance, but I also liked the contrast of mostly black/white with a splash of color on each. Both the plan and the water convey life, which connects nicely with God’s Word being our primary source of life. The green and blue colors are also reminiscent of our logo, which has a leaf-like shape with green on top and blue on the bottom.
We’re currently in the bidding process to get the posters and bookmarks made and hope to have them available by Spring, assuming the cost is right.
You might know that I’m … less than full-haired. You might also know that one of my favorite wacky stories in the Bible is about Elisha getting mocked by some youth who were calling him a bald head. The whole story can be found in 2 Kings 2.
While reading Kem Meyer’s blog, I found a link to Jim LePage, who has been working on graphics for books of the Bible for the past year+. There are some really cool designs in there, but one in particular stood out:
After looking through Jim’s designs, I was led to his Tumblr account where he’s been collecting some other Biblical artwork he’s come across. That led to Todd Goehner’s Biblical Advice Posters. Lo and behold, what did I find?
Be sure to browse through the collections. There are some pretty cool graphics in there.
We’re wrapping up a series in Sunday School this week titled TXT. It’s a look at God’s Word—historical notes, background, characteristics and how to study it. This week focuses on studying it. One of the key verses is Psalm 119:11:
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
As I think about ways to communicate what this means to students beyond the standard “You need to memorize God’s Word”, it struck me that this is similar to studying for a test and learning something.
It seems that more often than not, students (and us adults too) like to cram for a test. Get all the knowledge in our head, get through the test, then wipe the slate clean for more information. Our teachers always told us that studying a little bit each day and learning the material would take us much further.
Many of us are eager to turn to God’s Word in a crisis. It’s much like cramming for that test. We need a shot to get us through the tough time, then we push it out of our minds. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with turning to God’s Word in a crisis, but what if we spent time regularly studying it? Internalizing it? Hiding it in our hearts? How much better off would we be?
What do you think? A fair analogy to make?
Today at Sunday School, we started our new series on Encountering God. The series focuses on spiritual disciplines, part of an annual emphasis on the topic of habits for spiritual growth. This year we are spending one week on each of the following:
- Time in God’s Word
Mark Driscoll has a great post that summarizes this discipline. In an effort to make the study more “hands on” this year, we’ve issued a challenge to the kids to spend 30 days with Jesus. There are 30 days between today and Easter, not counting Sundays. So each day, students will be reading a story about Jesus. You can follow along if you’d like. (This chart [and others] comes from Zondervan; our version just adds the dates we’re reading it.)
Each Sunday, we’ll check in with the youth to see how its going and what they’re learning. You may also be interested in a series I wrote a while back about reading the Bible.
In our most overwhelming majority to date, Christmas should start on Thanksgiving day, getting 88% of the votes. This week’s question:
EDIT: In an odd occurance of events, the majority of this post inexplicably disappeared from the blog several hours after posting. It’s back now.
I knew my name was in the Bible, but I never really thought much beyond the fact that it was there. I’m almost positive I must have looked it up in the past, but I stumbled across it again the other day and was struck by the context:
Acts 17:1-8 (ESV)
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.
- Jason lived in Thessalonica. I’ve always liked that church the best, mostly because of the name. It’s fun to say. Thessalonica.
- He hung out with people who “turned the world upside down”. Not bad!
- Jason apparently was proclaiming Jesus as King as he gets wrapped up in this controversy.
Kind of cool.
I think part of discipling youth is teaching them how to use their gifts at church in meaningful ways. We’ve had youth acolytes forever, but there’s so much more out there. Here are some of the exciting things youth are doing (or will be doing soon!) at First Trinity:
- Jon W., Abby, Anna and Joe regularly provide the tech services at our 7 p.m. Saturday worship service. Joe is also helping on Sundays.
- Jon W. is one of the prayer partners at Sunday worship.
- Jon B., Annie, and Jake M. all play/sing in worship bands on a regular basis.
- Megan and Laura have played/sung in the past.
- 19 youth have signed up to work with our new youth band that is starting up. Many of those were complete surprises to me.
- 2 youth each Sunday from the 7th-8th grade Sunday School class will be helping to teach younger kids (Kindergarten and under-2’s). 20 in all have signed up so far.
- Anna and Kelsey (plus Samuel, who isn’t a youth yet but will be one day) are on my PIT crew.
Additionally, we want students to be in the Word on a regular basis. Some fun things going on there:
- 6 youth have signed up to be in rooted this year so far.
- Sue’s small group at Cornerstone has committed to interacting with each other about the One Minute Bible for Students on a daily basis through text messages and instant message. Loved hearing how she is connecting with her students!
- A parent recently liked the One Minute Bible their student received so much that she asked to get a copy for herself. They were working through it together at home, which turned her on to the resource.
- We have a lab-based Sunday School series coming up in the winter that helps students learn how to be in the Word, pray, give and worship.
It’s exciting to see what God is doing in the midst of our young people. What a joy!
|Remix Open Gym 2008|
Our Remix youth got together last night for activities in the gym. As usual, several of our kids brought friends. After playing some fun variations of kick ball and dodge ball (Thanks Tim!), we settled down for devos and pizza.
Darcy talked about how sometimes we only read our Bibles because its homework that is assigned for confirmation or because that’s what we’re supposed to do. She used a great illustration, having her hubby text message her during the devo and stopping the devo to check the message. Her point? We’re so eager to check our text messages because it might something important that we don’t want to miss. A great devo and very relevant to the kids! But the most exciting part of the evening? I got to give 2 friends of Bri’s Bibles and 1-Minute Student Devotional Bibles. They had seen the Bible before, but didn’t have their own. I was glad Bri brought them and we were able to bless them with these wonderful treasures!
We don’t always see it that way, but God’s Word is even more important and relevant for us today. Why aren’t we running to check God’s Word all the time? It is, after all, God’s love letter to us.
I looked online for ways to receive the Bible via text message. Two possibilities:
Both cost money, unfortunately, but it might be worth investing in it. If you have one you use, I’d love to hear it in the comments.
I’ve recently discovered that I’d much rather watch television shows on DVD than movies. I think it’s because of the larger story that can be told over the course of several episodes or even years. My first experience (and one of the pioneers in this area, I think) with a continuing story was Babylon 5. It was a 5 year story that was condensed to 4 because of uncertainty about the 5th year.
Alias, 24, Lost and more refined the genre and made it popular. DVD and online distribution has allowed shows to go even further in the genre as fans now have ways to get caught up if they miss an episode here or there, or even miss the first season or two.
The more I read the Bible and grow in my faith, the more I realize God is a fan of this genre. The Scriptures cover thousands of years, but they contain only a portion of God’s story. He continues working today in our lives and will continue to work until the end of time. We’re part of an epic story. We know the ending already, but we trust God to walk with us through this journey.
A while back I blogged about the Crossroads Sex at it’s Best event. The evening was a lot of fun as we got to have a great dinner prepared by Cindy Chamberland in Mercy, which was decorated to the hilt by Alicia Zimmerman. Both worked extra hard pulling this event together, not to mention all the work they’ve done for all our events this year. I’m thankful to have them involved with our youth!
You might remember that we had a quiz as a part of that event that Cindy put together. Students had to decide whether each line was a song lyric or a Bible verse. Jacob and Anna tied for the high score of 12. Here were the questions:
- Nightingale give us a song of a love that once belonged.
- You wear yourselves out trying the new and the different, and never see what a waste it all is.
- I’m off to see my lovers. They’ll wine and dine me, dress and caress me.
- Do you believe in him? All you have to do is let him in.
- Everything about him delights me, thrills me through and through. That’s my lover, that’s my man…
- I know that you are something special. To you I’ll always be faithful.
- My heart is broken. I’m lying here. My thoughts are choking on you my dear.
- I believe love goes everywhere we go.
- His words are kisses, his kisses words.
- Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style.
- Let my love open the door to your heart.
- Your body is a sacred place.
- You bless all my memories. You soften the fall of my tears, And in my arms you’re more than enough.
- There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is a much a spiritual mystery as a physical fact.
- I feel you on my fingertips. My tongue dances behind my lips for you.
- You’ve climbed into bed with sacred whores and loved every minute of it.
- My love’s kisses flow from his lips to mine. I am my lover’s. I’m all he wants.
- Can you hear my voice, do you hear my song. It’s a serenade so your heart can find me.
- I’m not just hanging back to punish you. I’m committed in love to you.
- And when you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small.
Click below to see the answers!
It’s the end of the semester for me this week at the seminary. Only one of my two classes will have a final (Intro to Theology) because the one class is a year-long class. Now, I understand not giving the test because we haven’t finished the unit yet, but when we finally do finish the unit, we’ll be tested on material that was learned over 3 months prior to the test thanks to the extended winter break. I’m not excited about that.
I also have a paper due this week on the Authority of Scripture. It’s mostly done thanks to a marathon work session this morning and afternoon, but I’m going to give it a day or two to settle before reviewing and tweaking it. The basic points:
- Scripture is authoritative because it comes from God.
- “The Bible is the Word of God” is a true statement. “The Bible contains the Word of God” is a dangerous one. To use the word contains implies that not everything in the Bible is God’s Word. How do we decide what isn’t then? And where do you draw the line? Not good…
- “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?” is a common question people are asking. As a Christian, I can answer, “I can’t, but the Bible can.” The Word is the only standard for telling right from wrong in our messed up world.
I’m looking forward to the break from classes, especially after this busy week that includes the paper, some added homework, a final, preaching on Saturday/Sunday and teaching Sunday School.
One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld is when we first get introduced to the now famous “Soup Nazi.” His famous line, of course, is quoted in the title.
Browsing the headlines over on Digg.com this afternoon, I read that Chinese authorities have said “No Bible For You” to the athletes as they placed the Bible on the ban list for the 2008 Olympics. The news is just breaking, and the story could change, but there are several sites reporting it. They also recommend that you only bring one Bible if coming to China for the games. If you know anything about China, this will not be a surprise to you. They aren’t exactly pro-Christian there, but the amazing thing is that God is still working. In fact, the Chinese church in 1997 was seeing a growth of 10,000 new converts every day. Despite their best efforts to stop it, God’s Word is still spreading in China and changing lives.
In fact, Olympic organisers in China said there would be no restrictions on Bibles in the Olympic village. Later, the reporter for the Italian newspaper unconvincingly defended his story by asserting that a ban on “pamphlets and materials used for any religious or political activity or display” meant Bibles, even after the Chinese issued a clarification changing the banned category to “promotional materials”.
On the other side of the ocean, America is drowning in God’s Word and we still choose not to read it. There are “literally hundreds of different translations” of the Bible into English according to the International Bible Society. Perhaps it’s because we have it everywhere that God’s Word seems so unimportant to us.
It was with this in mind that we decided to create our own secondary theme for the 30 Hour Famine this year. We’re calling it “A Famine For God’s Word” (Based on Amos 8:11) and we’ll focus not only on fighting physical hunger in the world, but spiritual hunger in our own lives and in our communities. One early idea is to create a 30 day journal or activity that has students read a verse or two a day for 30 days and reflect on it. In the end, it’s all about teaching students to read the Bible regularly and thus be transformed by it.
There are no absolutely truths in this world. Truth is what you make it. Well, just because it’s true for you doesn’t mean it’s true for me. Yea, that was true back then, but this is 2007! Sound familiar?
This is what the world teaches. I’m amazed at the way God calls things to our attention in chunks. It started yesterday with the report that a scientist was retracting his paper written in 1955 because Creationists were citing it as proof of Divine Intervention in the creation of the universe. It continued during my seminary class this morning as we read an article by Bishop John Spong of the ELCA. Here is an excerpt from his article titled “The Word of God?”:
“This is the word of the Lord.” That is the liturgical phrase used in Christian churches to mark the end of a reading from the Bible. It is a strange, even a misleading, phrase. Yes Sunday after Sunday it is repeated, reinforcing in the psyches of worshipers a rather outdated attitude toward Holy Scripture. In many of its details, the Bible is simply wrong!
It culminates this weekend as we start a new series (originally scheduled, by the way, back in June) with our Crossroads Youth titled “All Out War,” looking at Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God. The first week? The Belt of Truth. We see from the Scriptures that the truth is a person (Jesus in John 14:6), it is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8) and it is freeing (John 8:32).
In a world where everything does seem relative and things are always changing, I’m thankful that God has given us His constant Word. We can trust that what He tells us is true in the past, today and into the future. I’m thankful that our church stands on God’s Word as the only authoritative source of truth in the world. I’m thankful that I don’t have to determine what is true and what isn’t, but that I can look in God’s Word for the answer.
We talk about Spiritual Disciplines a lot in Student Ministry. That’s because we believe it’s essential that youth develop habits that they will take with them when they leave our ministry for college or whatever reason. Programming is good–and certainly beneficial–but habits are better. It’s why we use the One Minute Bible For Students in Student Ministry, as well as things like memory work and small groups.
Darcy called me last night to share a fun story about this from one of our youth. This young lady confessed to just reading all of her One Minute Bible work at once and then writing the paper for Cornerstone. Darcy reiterated the importance of the discipline, but the student didn’t feel she could remember. She asked for a text message reminder each night from Darcy, who wisely suggested setting an alarm on the cell phone instead of relying on an outside person to remind her.
Later that night, this youth texted Darcy to let her know that her cell phone alarm was set and she was going to read that day’s reading before bed. Darcy’s personal contact with the student in addition to the regular teaching on habits led to this student finally trying the daily discipline thing. It’s great to see this small changes in the lives of our students because I know it will lead to even greater changes as they interact with the Word on a regular basis.
Completely unrelated to this instance is another youth who told me they recently posted a reminder on the bathroom mirror to pray. This was in response to my suggestion to do this as a reminder to pray every day, not just when we’re in trouble or need something. Great stuff!