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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quick Trip to the States

Here are some photos from our quick trip to the US at the beginning of the month. Ironically, I did not get any pictures of the wedding--which is why we went in the first place. The colors were superb!

 Pretty Lake Burton in the fall.
 While the Bridesmaids were doing their thing, Patrick and I went to Talullah  Gorge!

 And he climbed ALL of the stairs by himself from the bridge up. I was impressed!

 Fishing in his PJs at his favorite spot
 Throwing the rest of the bread to the ducks!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Solid Youth Ministry Requires a Solid Bible Base

The last four weeks that I've been able to teach at youth group we've focused on the gospel of John. It's has been incredible to see how pointed and focused the apostle John was in writing his gospel. In 20:31 John says that his gospel was written 'that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name'. We're seeing that theme over and over again in chapter 1 and the first half of 2 alone. Indeed, I can't see how I've ever missed it!

One of the things that we're really purposeful about is trying to help walk students through the process of Bible study. This is modeled in the way I go about teaching John. Of course I want the biblical principles to pierce the heart; I also want to model responsible and accurate study of the text, that they may learn in the Spirit how to approach the Bible themselves.

In guys bible study we're nearing the end of a study on Joshua 1-6, and we are learning about markers in the text that point us back to other passages. When we read about the death of Moses in ch 1, we went back to Deuteronomy and read about the death of Moses. When we read about Rahab, we look at why she's mentioned in Hebrews 11, and also James. When we read about the 2 1/2 tribes sending warriors as they had promised Moses, we go back to that story. When we encounter the Commander of the Lord, we look up different Theophanies (the second person of the trinity in the Old Testament) and discuss if this is another occurrence. It has been incredible to see the little things that we all pick up just be reading and observing. This is the first step of Bible study. Every week we read, re-read, read again, and again and again the passage for that week. We want to try and see beyond what we think it says, to what it really says. At the beginning of the study we read all 6 chapters in one sitting (many had never done that) and a couple weeks ago, we listened to it in audio format with the Lord of the Rings and Braveheart soundtracks in the background. These guys have done such a great job. This first step in Bible study is crucial before moving on to the next step--interpretation; moving from 'what does it say' to 'what does it mean', as Old Testament narrative tends to be pretty straight forward. We hope to explore interpretation further with a Johaninne study picking up where we'll leave off in the gospel this winter, and transition to another literary style in the big group meetings in January

Why is this so important? For any believer to really mature in his or her faith we have to get beyond just going to church on Sunday and listening to a podcast on Wednesday. We have to DIG into the living word of God! We have to search it for wisdom! We must renew our minds with His words that pierce bone and marrow. What most discouraged me in doing this before studying how to do it for 4 years in college, was that it is such a daunting task! I didn't know where to start, or how to do it. I wanted to know what God wanted, but I was lost whenever I opened my Bible. 

Sure, more time playing games than studying the Word will attract a larger crowd. But frankly, Jesus wasn't interested in crowds. He was interested in true disciples. As I follow Him I hope to point our students towards a deep, true, cost-counted walk with the living God.

Thank you for your love, prayers, and financial support. We see so much potential in these students--thank you for investing into their lives. May God richly repay your sacrifice with Spiritual blessings.