Last night was awesome! (Well, not for Cardinal nation, but let's move past that.) We saw some great costumes, including Blue Power Ranger, Chef Boyardee, 8o's Girl and Justin Bieber (our winners). There was some solid worship lead by students (thanks Katheryn, Sierra, Jesse, Tyler, DeAndre, and Grant). The 4-way tie for the photo scavenger hunt was decided by random trivia about Jim. Plus, we heard how God is always speaking to us, including last night. It looks like most everyone took home a jar as a reminder. But maybe you're looking at the jar saying, what's this about again? Let's do a quick review.
This week we're gonna take a break from the norm. It's gonna be different. We're still starting at 7 pm and ending at 8:30 pm. You'll still see your friends. You'll still enjoy it. We are going to combine Blast and Ignite for the night. We'll be together for the lesson, some worship songs, and games. Plus there's a Halloween costume contest, with prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. It'll be one, big, happy, costume, worship, Jr. High and Sr. High time. So put your costume on and join us this Wednesday, Oct 30th @ 7pm for a combo night.
(Any idea what this picture is??)
Last night was the first week in our "In Charge" series and we started with the ever popular topic of teachers. Knowing how much time you spend at school, this should help you with everyday life. I mean everyone usually has at least one teacher he/she doesn't like. So knowing what God thinks about this is really important.
Hopefully you'll reread Romans 13:1-5 (hint, hint) and think more about those verses. As you try to answer the question, "What is my response?" let me toss out an idea I wish I would have mentioned last night. Here it is. Try to stay with me. I hope I don't go over your head with my super-duper intellectual, Sheldon like thinking. Ready? Just ask, "How can I help?" Boom! Did your head explode from all the complexity? Tell the truth, how many times did you have to read the question before you understood the idea? 3? 8? Seriously, it's such an simple question, but it can have a big impact.
Last night was the end of the "Understand : Making Sense of the Bible" series. We talked about talked about a third question to ask when reading the Bible, "What is my response?" (Here is the first and second questions.) To me, this is a better question than "What should I do?" because it helps us think more than just actions we should take. Sometimes our response should be be grateful, have joy, or even rest. These are things we should do, even though they aren't the typical things that come to mind when we think of what God wants us to do. So I think the question, "What is my response?" helps us to consider more our lives than just actions.
So you've been coming to Blast/Ignite for a while, and you like it. You like the games, being with friends, and hearing about Jesus. Even if you don't understand it all, you feel good hearing about Jesus' love for you and that he wants the best for you. Now you're curious to know more about Jesus. So, you made time in your busy schedule to try to read the Bible. You've found a place to be alone (your room, your car, a park, the dryer, a Disney sponsored Miley Cyrus tour, etc.) so you can think and not be distracted. You go through your mental list. Cell phone silenced and put way? Check. No laptop? Check. No people? Check. No clue what you're doing? Check. Wait! Somehow, miracles of all miracles, you remember something from Wednesday nights. So you sit down and read what the Bible says. Not what you think it says, not what you think it means, but what it actually says. Then you remember to look for what that the passage teaches about God. Awesome! Two for two. But now what? Is this it? Just read the Bible and learn about God? There must be more. Something in your mind is nagging you. You think, "Now shouldn't I do something?" Hmmmmm.
Anyone who has read the Bible looking to connect with God has had something like this happen to him/her. Sure the details are different, but we all end up asking, "What does God want me to do?" It's a great question, and sends us in the right direction. But is it the best question? Join us this Wednesday, Oct 16 @ 7 pm as we figure out what to do after we read the Bible.
Last night we talked about how we should read the Bible to get to know Jesus. There's a lot of thoughts and ideas about who Jesus is and what he's like. And with so many different ways to get information (TV, computers, phones, tablets, video games, books, movies, music, etc.) we're going to get a lot of mixed messages. Someone will say Jesus is one way and another will say Jesus is the complete opposite. With so many conflicting ideas, how are we supposed to know what Jesus is really like? And how do we know if we are getting to know the real Jesus? I mean, if Jesus really does love me perfectly, and really died in my place, and rose from the dead so I can I have eternal life with him, I want to get to know the one who gives me life and not a fake idea. So here's a crazy idea; why don't we see what God says about Jesus in the Bible?
The second question when reading the Bible is, "What do these verses teach me about God (Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit)?" (For more about the first question, read a previous blog post) Here are some things to look for: what does God like, what does God dislike, what kind of character traits does God have, what emotions does God express, how does God interact with people, etc. While I'm considering what God is like, I find it helpful to write down things. I'm old school and use a notebook, but you can use a laptop, a writing up, whatever. The point is that writing it helps me process and remember what I'm thinking.
So the challenge is to read the same verses, Genesis 22:1-19, Psalm 13:1-6, Mark 15:1-41, 1 John 1:1-10, and look for what it teaching you about God. This is the good stuff. As we see God better, then life around us tends to get clearer. So hop to it.
During the first five or ten minutes of a drama or action movie, I try to watch everything very closely. I'm always afraid that I'm gonna miss something that's really important later. Directors are so tricky these days. They sneak in clues or secret messages. Things can looks pretty normal, but really it's something that reveals what's going to happen. If I can figure it out before everyone says, "Whoa! Didn't see that coming" then I feel good. If I can't, then I feel kinda dumb, like "I shoulda known that was gonna happen."
One of the things I pay the most attention to is the people. It always takes me a while to figure out who all of the main characters are. I'm asking questions like, "Is that guy that just walked out the door important?" "Why did that girl and guy make eye contact at the restaurant?" "Did I see that guy earlier?" "Do I need to remember that he has a daughter?" While I"m thinking this, sometimes I can miss the real main characters. I'm like a kid with ADD. "What's the name of this movie again? Why do I have popcorn in my lap? Who's that guy with the star on his shield?" My friends are like, "The movie's called Captain America. You're eating popcorn while watching the movie Captain America. The guy with the shield is Captain America, you know, like the movie's name. Jim, I'm never watching a movie with you again."
Sometimes reading the Bible can be like this. We can get so focused on certain parts, trying to keep track of everything, that we miss the some pretty obvious stuff. The Bible talks about a lot of people, some with really funky names. It's hard to keep straight the main characters among all the people. Or is it? Who is the main character anyways? Join us this Wednesday, Oct. 9th @ 7pm as we talk about connecting with God by reading the Bible.
PS - Tell Jim what's unusual about the magnifying glass on Wednesday and he'll give you a prize! Seriously.
Last night we talked about how God's words give us wisdom, knowledge and life. We looked at Proverbs 2:1-6 and noticed all the words (apply, call out, cry aloud, look, search) that require effort on our part. To connect with God requires some effort on our part. This shouldn't surprise us. It's true of any relationship. Whenever we call / text / post / message / tweet / etc. people, it takes effort. Most of that effort is just trying to find our phone! (How'd it get in the dryer??) So it's going to take some effort to dig into the Bible and connect with God. The good news is that it's totally worth it.
A good way to connect with God when reading the Bible, is to ask questions while you read. You might have heard the saying, "There are no stupid questions." That may or may not be true, but for sure some questions are better than others. Some questions get answers faster than others. And some questions get you off track. (What does the fox say?) Learning to ask good questions is important. And guess what? It takes effort. (Doh')
So the first question when reading the Bible, or anything for that matter, is to ask "What is it talking about?" I know what you're thinking, "But Jim, I just read what it says. Why do I have to ask or think about what it is talking about?" That's a good question. (See, you're already asking good questions.) Here's the deal... if we misunderstand what it says, then we have a much, much, much greater change of misunderstanding what it means. Here's an example I've seen on facebook about punctuation. "Let's eat, Grandma". If you read the sentence wrong by skipping over the comma, then you'll get "Let's eat Grandma." So we go from a lovely evening with family to some sort of possible zombie cannibalism. Grandma's life hangs in the balance of the question "What is it talking about?" Obviously reading, or misreading a sentence affects the meaning.
So the challenge for this week is to read Genesis 22:1-19, Psalm 13:1-6, Mark 15:1-41, 1 John 1:1-10 on four different days this week, and ask the question "what are the verses talking about?" I know that these are the same verses from last week. There's a reason for this. The questions that I'm teaching (this week and the next two) build upon themselves. There is a connection in the order the questions are asked. It's kinda like math. First you learn numbers (1, 3, 6, 10), then you learn counting (4, 5, 6, 7 . . .) and then you learn addition (2+4 = 7). There's a process to learn. By reading the same verses each week it should help you focus on the process, as well as the questions.
So here's the plan. Let me (Jim) know when you read any of the verses. Either text me, comment on this blog, post on facebook, tweet me a message, or even go old school and tell me in person. However you do it, I wanna know so I can encourage
Each week two blogs will be posted for Blast and Ignite.