Introducing a New Bible Study for Families

Is your family constantly in a whirlwind of activity? Is it controlled-chaos at your house? Unsure about how to parent in this day and age? Want to see how your family fits into the gospel?

Next week, FBC will be kicking off a brand new Bible study group built particularly for parents. After some thought, we ended up calling the new group the Busy Family Bible Study. Why Busy Family? I like how Pastor Oren put it when talking to parents…

“I know that you have so many responsibilities and commitments, whether it is with your job, caring for your children or perhaps your aging parents, as well as maintaining friendships and trying to keep the grass no taller than knee high. You’re busy, we all are,” wrote Pastor Oren.

“Our families are busier than ever, so much so that it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain consistent spiritual growth in our personal lives. This means that our families struggle to grow spiritually as well. We all like to think that Jesus is at the center of everything we do, but if we’re being honest, that isn’t always the reality in which we live. We feel stretched, pulled in many directions. But there’s no reason why we cannot make a concerted effort as Christian believers to take time to pray, study, and grow together. As a pastor and a parent, I want to help as much as I can.”

This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. And I am excited that we are kicking it off with a study called Gospel Centered Parenting by Tim Chester and Ed Moll. There are a lot of books dedicated to helping parents develop well-trained children, but this one focuses on the family as a whole, and will help us grow as God-knowing, Christ-confessing, grace-receiving, servant-hearted, mission-minded believers.

I love how this book goes beyond good advice for parents. It shows how the gospel influences family life and the craziness therein. “Good parenting is not about adopting certain techniques,” says the authors. “It’s about living as part of God’s story and letting God’s good news shape your values, attitudes and behavior.”

That’s something all families can get behind…big, small, single-parent, step-families…everyone needs the good news of Jesus.

The Busy Family Bible Study group will meet on Sunday nights beginning February 12th at 4:30 PM at FBC. The first series will run through April 9th. For those of you with children, we’ve got special activities planned at the church for the kids and youth during this time.

If you are interested, please fill out the form below, so we know how many to prepare for. We would love to see your family join us for this study!

5 Websites to Bookmark Today

30141_laptop_keyboardI spend a lot of time on the internet. Within the first moments of turning on my computer, you can find me on children’s ministry social networks connecting with others, on Pinterest grabbing some cool ideas, sending emails to our volunteers, or opening multiple tabs on Bible Gateway.

Looking at my bookmarks folder, I have over 80 pages saved to comeback to with a simple click. I asked around the office what are some websites my co-workers have bookmarked and, tossing a few of my own, we’ve come up with this list!

*****

1) Desiring God – This organization exists to help people everywhere understand and embrace this truth…God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him. They take aim to make the glory of God and the goodness of joy the foundation and flavor of everything we do. I know many enjoy listening to Ask Pastor John, a question and answer style podcast. I enjoy their Look at the Book series, in which John Piper breaks down select Bible passages.

2) Adam4d.com – Adam Ford is a Christian, husband, and father of 3 young boys. I’m often checking back to read his “curiously Christian webcomic.” If you’re new to Adam’s work, check out his most popular comics, and if you ‘re familiar with his work then make sure you’ve also got the Babylon Bee bookmarked.

3) The Gospel Coalition – TGC encourages and educates current and next-generation Christian leaders by advocating gospel-centered principles and practices that glorify the Savior and do good to those for whom he shed his life’s blood.  I really enjoy their many, many blog posts. There is so much good content here on a wide variety of subjects. For example, click here to see a list of their posts on parenting!

4) The Bible Project – I love YouTube…but there are more than just cat videos there! The Bible Project creates videos that show the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus. They believe that the Bible is literary genius and has divine wisdom for the modern world. The link above takes you to their channel to start watching these videos, but make sure to check out their website for more information.

5) smile.amazon.com – I do a lot of shopping on Amazon, both personally and professionally, so I have made sure to bookmark Smile Amazon. By making sure I add the smile, a small portion of my purchase goes to a charity of my choosing. I’ve picked to donate to the International Mission Board.

*****

What sites to you have bookmarked on your browser? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

 

Unwrapping Christmas Part 2

In our last post, we started talking about the family Christmas devotional gifts we made for 2016. Let’s pick up where we left off…

Week 3- Teaching and Preaching

We started week three with a look at John 13:13, “You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am.” We explained how in many ways, Jesus’ teaching was unexpected. He took things that the people were familiar with and changed the way they understood it.

That’s when we challenged families to try our mystery drink. All families knew was that it should taste like something familiar, just in soda form.

lesters-sodas-flavors

We ended up using the peanut butter and jelly flavored soda!

We asked families what it like experiencing this familiar flavor in a new, unexpected way? We explained how we see in the John 13 how Jesus did something His friends didn’t expect.

We explained the story of Jesus doing the lowly task of washing feet and how He used that moment to teach not only how to love and serve others, but to also foreshadow how He would clean His people from their sin.

We also gave families a magic tree. By adding the solution, small green crystals would grow on the cardboard making it look like a Christmas tree.

magic-christmas-trees-growing

But, it takes time for the tree to grow. When Jesus preached, He sometimes used gardening words and pictures to get the point. We used John 15:1-2 and explained that Jesus teaches that the good news doesn’t stop at forgiveness of sins. The gift of Jesus continues! God’s at work in believers’ lives, helping them act more like Jesus! Just as the tree grows, we can grow as Christians as well.

Week 4- Love

We started the fourth week talking about underserved love and 1 John 4:10.

We told families that in this world, there is a lot of pressure. You may struggle with some things. Sometimes people describe this feeling of burdens as if they are being weighed down. Inside the gift this week was special paper.

flying-wish-paper-action-2

We had families take it out, and with a pencil, write down some things that may be weighing them down. It may be a recent loss, fears, or even sin.

We explained how Jesus loves them so much and how He wants them to let go of their burdens and give them to Him. When the instructions were followed, the paper shot into the air and floated  as it burned. All those fears, worries, sin…all gone. We connected this to the gospel and explained how Jesus can forgive us and wants to give us comfort even when life gets tough!

We then connected the facts that if God loves us, we should love others and had families read 1 John 4:7-8.

The other gift was a Top Blaster!

slspito-02These wind-up tops shoot out the spinning part with a light on top. It bounced off walls and other barriers and brought the light everywhere it went. The Bible reminds us that Christians are to be a light (Matthew 5:14). We need to show God’s love to others so everyone can see how great our God is!

We had a blast preparing all these gifts for the families. We hope that these little doodads will remind our children of the lessons they learned during this Christmas season!

 

Unwrapping Christmas

Our church has a focus on family ministry. We want to encourage parents to be spiritual leaders for their children and equip moms and dads to teach their children Biblical truths.

So, when we do our annual Easter and Christmas devotionals, we try to do a family-friendly version as well. (You can check out our Christmas 2016 devotional here.) The theme for our latest Advent devotional was “God’s Greatest Gift.” We looked at God’s greatest gift, Jesus, and how He exemplified the spiritual gifts God bestows on us.

For our family edition, we wanted to give families a chance to do interactive object lessons that corresponded to each week’s gift. To keep with the theme, we wrapped each week’s objects as if they were presents. Each family received two of the gifts each week. One to take home and use, and the other to give to a friend. (We made the lessons to be self-contained, so visiting families wouldn’t be stuck with a partial lesson.)

Each Sunday, after church, we had families taking two gifts each and some other members taking gifts to give to neighbors/friends/relatives. But I know not everyone got a chance to look into the gifts and see what families got to experience! So in this post, I wanted to share what was inside each gift! If you missed out on the fun, consider grabbing a few of these items and trying them out yourself!

Week 1- Mercy

buddha-board-demonstration

Seen here, is the Budda Board sold by Vat19. Using water you can draw on the canvas and the marks will fade over a few minutes. We were able to give families some special paper that reacts to water in the same way, as well as a few paintbrushes.

We explained what mercy and sin were, then asked families to write or draw an example of sin on the special paper using water. We reviewed Romans 6:23 and explained how Jesus was a gift of God’s mercy. Looking back at the paper, the sin marks would be gone by this point. Parents could then connect the activity to the included gospel presentation.

 

612klt1wvhl-_sl1000_We also included these mega-sized jelly balls. These things grow just by putting them in water and waiting(you may remember us using their smaller-sized forms at the Neighborhood Block Parties). After reading Matthew 5:44, we used these to illustrate how we can grow spiritually when we show mercy. As a bonus, you can roll these jelly balls on the water paper and they leave a trail. It was a fun way to end, thinking about what kind of trail are we leaving behind? As Christians, what sort of mark should we leave behind?

 

 

Week 2 – Service

We started our second week with a look at Matthew 20:28 as we explained how Jesus was the ultimate example of service with love. We explained to families how Jesus even gave his life for us and even included a section where families could go deeper into the gospel and explain it in a child-friendly way for those who’ve never heard it presented.

We also looked at Romans 12:11, “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.” (NIRV). We explained how God wants His followers to serve together, and how we we’re all made with different skills and talents to serve in different ways.

419tazrqlslEach family got a pair of mini-hands to take turns using them. They challenged each other to do simple things like lift a salt shaker, change the tv channel, or…(if they were really brave) take a sip of water from a cup. Later they tried working together (two people each with one tiny hand). We asked families to talk about how easy or hard it was to work together with your tiny hands? What are the benefits and challenges of working together with others to serve? And why do you think God made us all with different skills, gifts, and talents?

 

 

mx423Families also received a ribbon wand to play with. These ribbons, when twirled, make really cool designs. It can look like a bubble if spun around, or a flower if flipped upside-down. But, if the wand only had one ribbon, it couldn’t make those cool images. We asked families to think about ways they could work together to help others see God’s love. We wended the experience with prayer and a look at Galatians 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

 

 

Next post, we’ll go over the other gifts we presented to families!

Light Before Christmas

Last year, I challenged our church family to put on a Christmas play with only a single hour-long rehearsal. Songs, props, stage directions…everything would shared only an hour before we got up on stage. You can see the results by clicking here.

Not only did they do a fantastic job last year…we did it again! A new play, new props, new songs…same deal…only one hour to prep. Below is the video from the event! Enjoy!

Quick Thought: Don’t Drop the Ball at the 1-Yard Line

How many times have you seen this?

Or this?

Why?!?

I’ve read one article where the author counted at least 26 times in the past few years where players have purposely dropped the ball in celebration without seeing it through.

That got me thinking…how many times do we drop the ball early?

When it comes to kids, we often use the ABC method of sharing the good news of Jesus.

A—ADMIT Admit to God that you are a sinner (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). Repent, turning away from your sin (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9).

B—BELIEVE Believe that Jesus is God’s Son and accept God’s gift of forgiveness from sin (Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; John 3:16; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:11-13).

C—CONFESS Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9-10,13).

I’m thankful we have the opportunity to share this good news with our kids. But why stop at justification when we can celebrate sanctification. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.

Mason was just in my office speaking about the ABCs. “Did we forget the rest of the alphabet?” he laughed. “What about D? DO SOMETHING! DISCIPLESHIP!”

The Gospel doesn’t stop at the 1-Yard Line. The good news is that God continues to work in our lives, sanctifying us, making us more like Jesus.

Parents, you get to be a model for your children to see what it looks like for a Christian to grow in Christ. Seniors, you know you don’t retire from being a Christian…thank you for your years of continued service!

Further reading: Shells

Never Too Late or Too Soon

timeline

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23

I was in line at the grocery store just the other day when I noticed the front cover of LIFE magazine. The cover pictured 6 deceased celebrities that I immediately recognized as world-famous musical artists.   This recent issue of LIFE magazine is entitled The 27-Club: Rock Icons Who Died Too Young. The cover and content of the magazine features 6 musical artists who all died at the age of 27, hence the name 27-Club. These musicians were quite fas-l225mous and known throughout the world for their music; particularly for their contributions to jazz, blues, and rock-and-roll. The 27 club includes musical superstars Brian Jones (1969), Jimi Hendrix (1970), Janis Joplin (1970), Jim Morrison (1971), Kurt Cobain (1994), and Amy Winehouse (2011).

I understand that some of these names may not be familiar to some of you, while others of you are quite familiar with the person and their music. I only had a moment to read the cover while at the register, but since I recognized the names of these celebrities and because I’ve heard about the “27-Club” before, I was immediately intrigued. So I decided to get a copy of the magazine at a later time. As I’ve read the articles and short biographic sketches of the lives of these complex and talented men and women, it has struck me at just how much influence a single person can have on literally millions of other people, and yet in the scope of time and history, each person’s life is so fleeting and fragile (James 4:14).

What I have found most intriguing about this magazine issue is how much these musical icons are praised and exalted for their contributions to the music industry while their personal lives were so incredibly heartbreaking. Their sudden and what some would consider “early” death have led to their lives being dubbed with the “tragic” label since they were unable to have long and productive careers of making music. What is most common among all 6 members of the 27-Club is their struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and many broken and destructive relationships. It makes you wonder how it is that all the praise and fame that comes with celebrity also brings with it despair and unceasing temptations to satisfy the flesh. There is no doubt that these artists truly lived out the stereotype of a rock-and-roll icon, and in each case, it ended their lives earlier than most people can accept. Their dreams of being a serious and respected musical artist, along with the adoration of millions of fans was the real drug they lived for, and it captivated their minds and souls, to the point that they could not find satisfaction in all of their achievements. So they turned to external things to cope with the deep groaning in their souls for significance and peace.

This issue of LIFE magazine also leads me to ask a deeper question. “Who gets to decide how soon is too soon for someone to pass away”? This has always been an interesting thought to me. Who gets to decide when it is time for a person to leave this world and why does age matter? Do we label a person’s early departure from this life as a tragedy because of their worldly achievements? What if these famous celebrities would have been relatively unknown musicians playing in dirty bars and half-empty night clubs instead of in massive arenas or on national television shows? Would we view their deaths in the same way?

I realize that these questions can make us uncomfortable, but considering the difference between how the world and the Word of God view life and its value differently, as well as death and its timing, it is especially important for us to know what we believe. Our purpose and direction in this life are particularly tied to where we find our identity and hope. We are all groaning deeply within our souls in some way for redemption (Romans 8:22-23), but for those who are of faith in Jesus, our groaning has a glorious end, and the timing of it cannot come soon enough (Romans 8:18).

Life and death are God’s prerogative, and he doesn’t often share what he knows with us about the timing of our departure from this world. While this may cause uneasiness in some of us, the reality is that this is NOT bad news for those who know Jesus. There is never a time in the life of a believer in which death comes too soon, nor are the conditions of our passing greater than the glory we behold once we’ve left behind these broken bodies for eternally completed ones (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

In fact, we are to live in this life in in such a way that points others to the reality of the next life for which we long for so deeply. Sadly, the members of the 27-Club lived for the praise of man, pointing others to themselves and looking for happiness that was only shifting sand beneath their unstable feet.

Romans 8:11 gives us this promise: 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. This promise alone should stir in us a deeper love for God and a more serious commitment to make the most the time we have, for the days are short and the mist of our lives will soon pass. Praise be to God that our short time in this life can be of tremendous impact if we would look to him first and always.

I agree that it is sad that those musical artists died so young, just as I would for any young man or woman. It is hard to accept the loss of a life so young. My sadness is not only in that they are now gone, but that their lives ended in such despair and destruction. Their groaning for redemption led them to self-deception and sorrow. One of the 27-Club members Janis Joplin once said “Don’t ever compromise. You are all you’ve got.” But that is simply not true. Praise be to God that I am not all I’ve got! If all I have is me, then I am without hope. My groaning for redemption is incomplete and will never be content in this life if I only look within myself to be satisfied. The best news is that Jesus Christ meets us where we are and fulfills the longings of our souls, to the degree that our perspective in this life and the next is eternally hopeful and filled with joy! Jesus is all I have, and Jesus is more than enough.

Act of Approach – He Is Working

light

Sovereign, Infinite Filler of Souls,

Help me now to always be in submission to you God,

to be dependent upon You,

found on the path where You do walk

and where your Holy Spirit moves,

warning me of my wandering ways

and of growing insensitive to your love.

You do not move men like stones are moved,

rather you indwell them with life

not to give us permission to move without You

but in submission to You, the one who moves first.

O Lord, I am astonished at the difference

between what I have received and what I deserve;

between the state I am in now and my past state of despair;

between the heaven that I am bound for, and the hell I merit.

Who could have caused this great difference in me but you O God!

for I was no more willing to receive Christ than any other man.

I could not have taken the first step toward you,

had you not first loved me;

nor would I have even been willing,

had you not first made me able.

O that such a crown would fit the head of such a sinner like me!

such a glorious position for one as unfruitful as myself!

such joys so wondrous for a rebel so wretched!

Infinite wisdom designs the means and ends of salvation,

established and built on divine purchase and spiritual freedom.

Let wrath deserved be written on the door of hell.

But the free gift of grace on the gates of heaven.

I know that much of my suffering is the result of my own sinning,

but in heaven both will no longer exist.

Permit me by your grace to set foot on that eternal shore,

and to be done with my sailing in this life;

may the powerful winds of your mercy blow me safely into that glorious harbor.

May your steadfast love draw me ever nearer to you;

purify me from my selfishness,

teach me to die to this world,

and make me ready for my departure for my eternal home.

Secure me, Lord, by your grace as I sail across this stormy sea.

 

– Translation from The Mover, Valley of Vision, p.12

5 Things Your Preteen Can Understand About the Bible

bible-983104_960_720Last month, the Barna Group reviled the results of their 2016 Teen State of the Bible research. If you have a few extra moments, I’d recommend reading over the full results. There are many positive responses that can encourage us, but here are a few that may renew our resolve to help kids understand the Bible.

  • Half of teens say the Bible contains factual/historical errors.
  • About 1 in 3 teens say the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.
  • Only 47 percent of teens say the Bible is a source of hope.

That’s a simplified look at the minds of teens when it comes to the Bible. Now, let’s look at what a preteen mind can comprehend about the Bible. (These come from Lifeway’s Levels of Biblical Learning, something that our leaders are being equipped with as they reach our kids.)

  • The truths in the Bible are without error and will last forever.
  • The Bible is God’s message about Himself and God’s plan for salvation.
  • The Bible is the only inspired, written Word of God.
  • The Bible teaches that salvation through Jesus is God’s gift of forgiveness.
  • The Bible teaches how to live a Christian life by following Jesus.

Parents, help your preteens understand these concepts. Make Bible reading a special time in your home!

Quick Thought: Jesus is More Than a Noun

english-english_dictionaries_and_thesaurus_booksWhen looking for inspiration for upcoming blog posts, I came across a blog topic generator. You insert a few nouns you want to write about, and it would give you the titles of potential blog posts. I gave it a shot and typed Jesus as the noun to use. The results were a little humorous.

5 Tools Everyone In The Jesus Industry Should Be Using

10 Signs You Should Invest In Jesus

What Will Jesus Be Like In 100 Years?

10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Jesus

The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Jesus

7 Things About Jesus Your Boss Wants To Know

It’s a silly example, but how often do we treat Jesus as just another noun…like a person from the past, a place you occasionally visit, or a thing to be studied and put back down.  Jesus is more than that. In fact, He is the creator of all people, places, and things (Colossians 1:16). Jesus is our peace that reconciles us to God. If you want to know more information about going from Jesus as a noun to Jesus as your savior, click here.