Monthly Archives: September 2010
@ msy YOUTH (that’s middle school YOUTH group @ hayward wesleyan) a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Abraham and God starting “to fix this world” back to “his kind of world” – the Garden (before humanity messed it up). God picked a man–Abraham–and promised to make a special people out of him (whose vocation as a people would be to show the world what God is like), give his people a special place to live (land of Canaan, crossroads of the known world at the time), and give his presence to them. I illustrated this story and the Abrahamic Covenant using one of Sari’s beautiful creations.
Sari loves to color. And she’s really good. It’s a beautiful creation. Unique to Sari and perfect. Sari’s picture is like God’s creation–unique to him and perfect. But humanity (Adam and Eve) tore creation apart when they chose to follow themselves rather than God.
Maybe God had some options with this “wrecking” of his creation. He could destroy it, scrap it, and start over with something else. He could erase humanity and rework things. Who knows… but what we do know is that instead of wiping us out, he chose to “fix” us. He chose to “redeem” humanity. And his plan sought to create a special people, put them in a special/intentional place, and bind his presence with them–all through Abraham. This plan had its intent to bring the broken created world (humans included) back into right relationship with its creator–God. Back to God’s kind of world.
The picture doesn’t really look like the original creation does it? It’s got a rip and some band-aids holding it together. The Abrahamic Covenant was just the beginning of God’s redemptive/fixing plan–albeit a very important beginning. God has narrowed his focus from a worldwide engagement with humanity (Genesis 4-11) to one man–Abraham–and is going to begin his work on broken humanity.
Here is msy YOUTH’s working statement about the Bible: “The Bible is about God continually working to fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.”
Whew! Finally, after purchasing this new play structure from Rainbow Play Systems back in the middle of June, and the slow-going construction that followed… I am proud to say that the structure is now complete. I had to fix one of the tarps that decided to almost blow off yesterday, but it is in working/playing condition!
All we have left to do now is lay and spike some landscaping timbers around the play structure and fill with mulch. We’re also looking into a couple of picnic tables for parents to sit on while kids are playing. So stop by and enjoy the new playground!
The link above does a fantastic job of talking about apathetic faith and passing that apathy down to our kids by the things we do (and don’t do).
A concept of God is my thinking about God through my human lens, which may or may not truly reflect what the “reality of God” is. God is reduced to what I “think” about him, instead of the reality.
Now these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive from each other. If I allowed the “reality of God” to determine my “concept of God” then that seems like the right direction. However, if my “concept of God” determines my “reality of God” then I have made God in my own image instead of letting the weight/glory of God loose in my thinking.
As a chronic thinker, my tendency is to engage more of my own personal “concept of God” instead of let the disrupting “reality of God” loose on my concepts. At times I do, I think. But there you go… I’m “thinking” again!
So I’m asking myself the question: “What does it mean for the reality of God to be the concept of God in my life?”
Isaiah encounters the Lord in his temple. Pretty wild stuff! This past Monday night, Heath Davis talked about this passage of Scripture in relation to the “Blessing of Holiness.” During his teaching he described glory as the weightyness of God, the heaviness of God, and the distruptive presence of God. He used a picture of a bowling ball dropped on a bunch of marbles. The result is a disruption or a dismantling of the marbles. The result? His weight just might rearrange/disrupt EVERYTHING.
If I truly experience the presence/glory of God, his weight just might rearrange my life. Meaning, his glory/presence/will for my life is a disruption or rearranging of Jeremy’s priorities and plans.
In Isaiah’s case, he is going to rearrange his life according to the “weightyness” of God. Do I want God’s “weightyness”/his glory to disrupt my life? I might not be able to control it… people might think I am really strange… I wonder if the mere fact that I am asking a “do I want to…” question, then that might mean that I haven’t experienced the awe and dismembering presence of God, because his glory does the disrupting…
The other day I checked on Pastor Heath Davis’ blog and read his most recent post. Wow. Maybe because I interact with computers a lot, but the metaphor he used in reference to the Gospel as an entirely new operating system for our life instead of just a program you install on your current operating system, really connected with me. All too often, Christianity is a program on our current OS that we install when we need it and ignore it (or feel guilty about it) when we don’t need it. And, as Heath mentions, one can uninstall it just as easily as one installed it. Interesting implications.
CLICK HERE to read Heath’s full post.
I’ve been reflecting on my life lately… well not lately, I reflect all the time! I’m an external processor, which means when I’m in conversation with people, they don’t receive any canned, or pre-planned answers or thoughts, they get raw and uncensored Jeremy (well…kind of censored!).
When people have asked me how I am doing my answer has been this: “My life has grown incredibly simple.”
Before I was married, life was complex for me. I remember juggling all kinds of things in college, things 3 or 4 people would consider doing separately, but not together. I was an RA in the older men’s dorms, taught SS and helped with middle school youth group every week, met consistently with 5 or 6 different groups for 5-6 different things, engrossed in conversations during all 3 meals in the cafeteria, and sought out professors who I wanted to learn from. I remember thinking, I hope “regular” life is less busy, hectic and complicated. I was assured it was.
Then I got a ministry job and got married. Both of these two monumental changes in my life simplified the complex a little. My job forced me to focus on a few things, vocationally, instead of a plethora of other things. Working with children and middle school students preclude me, typically, from engaging with college students, seeking out professors, or contributing to many different groups at once. Marriage has simplified things in the sense that my relationships are more focused and intentional. Friendships change and relationship postures change when you get married. Regular life was being shaped and realized.
Then along came these things called kids! Interesting how easily they came along without much discussion. Amanda and I waited for about 3 years before we had our first, then less than 2 years after Sari, along came Macie. I tell you what: the complexity of life really simplifies when you are really tired from an all-nighter that you didn’t choose because they are throwing up or fussy and restless all night! Extraneous things in life tend to get neglected more out of survival than anything. Raising kids has forced me to really simplify the other things. It’s funny, but we tend to gravitate toward couples with children close to our kids’ age. This isn’t discriminatory on our part, more another means of survival and thirst for “adult” connection!
In the path of simplicity, however, is a paradox. You see, while I say on one hand that my life has really been simplified, the parody/paradox here is that WITHIN the simplicity, is a world of complexity. Confusing? You bet! Try to figure out why a 3 year-old girl is crying and throwing a fit. Try to discern what a 1 year-old girl wants as she is learning to talk and it all sounds like…huh? Try to figure out why they wake up at night fussing, or fight when sister is playing with a toy the other isn’t playing with, or why in the next moment they can be incredibly cute and obedient. Sometimes this stuff happens all at the same time!
Simplicity of focus, complexity of issues and problems and special moments within that focus… ah, the recipe of life. I haven’t read the book on the graphic above… I googled “simplicity” and “complexity” and that was a top image link. “Simplexity” I kind of like that word. No matter the content of that book, that word epitomizes my life right now.
“Not for another 3 months, Sari.”
“But I want Christmas now!” she tells us.
“Nothing we can do, honey. We’ll make sure you don’t miss it when it comes.”
She’s quiet for a few seconds, then she tells us: “I want presents from the fat man @ Christmas!”
We laughed for a while!
Things had been going so well for Joshua and the Israelites. They had conquered a mighty city (Jericho) by walking around the city and obeying the LORD! It seemed like nothing could stop them. The only thing that could stop them was SIN.
Achan, an Israelite man, decided to take some things from Jericho (something that the LORD explicitly told them NOT to do). Achan hid these things in his tent (a robe, some silver and a wedge of gold). When Joshua sent some soldiers to defeat the next city, Ai, they were defeated and 36 people died. The Israelites were dismayed and wondered why they didn’t win. The LORD told them that they had sinned. Well, they eventually found out it was Achan. The community stoned Achan and his family and all of his possessions.
Then the Israelites went on to defeat the city of Ai using an ambush.
Main Street | Sunday, September 19, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 3 | Achan’s Sin and the Battle of Ai
This past weekend we had our first Followers Adventure Outing here at the church. Angie Lundsten and her husband, Tigger, came up with some amazingly messy and creative “activities” to play. One activity was a bowlful of chocolate-soaked, maple-syrup-dipped, rubber bands and a subsequent rubber band fight! It was very sticky!
Another station was spray painting a junked minivan. Tigger runs a junkyard and provided a minivan for the students to spray paint to their hearts content. It was awesome! The children were jaw-dropped that they were “allowed” to do this! Their parents said, “Now you’re going to tell them that they can’t normally do this, right?”
I don’t know if we would ever do this again, what with the haze of spray paint all around as the students COVERED this vehicle. I don’t think it was incredibly safe. But it was really fun, and the students (and their parents)(AND ME) had a blast doing it!
Every week in Main Street (HWC’s children’s ministry on Sunday morning) we sing a couple of songs, celebrate birthdays from the week before and the coming week, relay any necessary announcements, chat and see how things are going with the students as a whole, teach the story, and send them to their small group classes. I’ve been wanting (for a long time) to help the students to learn how to navigate their way through their Bibles. And nothing contributes to this incredible lifelong gift like weekly practice.
Starting this past Sunday, prior to the Bible story time, all the Main Street students grab a Bible off the shelf (or eventually, open their own Bible) and we help them find the location of the story we are about to share and help come to life. Hopefully this weekly practice helps the students be more and more proficient at locating Bible passages.
Update: We’ve been doing this tradition the past couple of weeks and it has been going well. It takes an extra 5 minutes from the limited hour-long programming we do, but the students are learning how to navigate their Bibles. I’d say that’s worth 5 minutes!
This past Sunday, September 12, 2010 in Main Street, we continued our storying through the Bible in the book of Joshua. the Israelites were on the cusp of entering the promised and are poised at the Jordan River. They had already spied out the land and are ready to enter it.
The LORD guided the Israelites across the Jordan River much the same way He did for the Israelites a generation earlier with Moses through the Red Sea. The Jordan River parted and they walked through on dry ground. Joshua had one leader from each of the 12 tribes grab a stone from the river bed and made a memorial as a reminder.
Along the way, the Angel of the LORD met Joshua and gave him instructions on what to do when they reached Jericho (the first city in the land of Canaan that they would have to conquer).
At Jericho, Joshua gather the Israelites and told them to march around the city once that day. Then again once the next day. They did this for six days, each day marching around the city once and then going back to camp. The people in Jericho were really afraid of the Israelites because of what they had heard about them (that the LORD God of heaven and earth was fighting for them). On the seventh day, the Israelites marched around the city seven times, and at the end of the seventh march, the shofar horn was to blow and the people were to shout. When they did this the walls of Jericho came tumbling down! The LORD God was fighting for them. All God’s people had to do was listen and obey.
Jericho was destroyed and burned, all except for Rahab and her family who were saved because of the promise of the 2 spies.
Main Street | Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 2 | Fall of Jericho
Main Street | Sunday, September 5, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 1 | Rahab and the Spies
Sunday, September 5, 2010, in Main Street, we kicked off the school year with the continuation of the Bible stories from last year. At the end of the school year (back in May) we left the Israelites on the edge of the Promised Land (Canaan). Moses had just given his “going away” speech, because was not going to be making the journey into the Promised Land due to his disobedience.
The story opens with the LORD talking with Joshua, encouraging him in leadership and strength as well as obedience. The LORD reminds Joshua of the Abrahamic Covenant (the 3 p’s as the students in Main Street know): People (the Israelites), Presence (“I will never leave you nor forsake you”), and Place (promised land, canaan).
Joshua sends 2 spies in to the city of Jericho to gather information. They almost get caught but a woman named Rahab hides them on her roof and sends the guards off looking in the hills. Rahab communicates the fear of the inhabitants of Jericho because they know that the LORD God of heaven and earth is fighting for the Israelites. She asks to be saved from the coming destruction because she helped them. They agreed.
The spies return to Joshua and the Israelite camp (on the edge of the Jordan River).