links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible class, children, church & Sunday School: Sunday Schooling Our Kids Out of Church

“… churches creating Sunday School experiences for kids that ran concurrently with their parents’ worship service.  In other words, kids and parents were separated from each other, having different Sunday experiences. … But there was (and is) one huge unintended consequence:  We have raised the largest unchurched generation in the history of our country.”

Churches of Christ & religious debates: Debates

“No person and no church will ever agree on all topics. It is good to discuss many biblical and religious concepts, but all in love and in full fellowship with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all godly people through Jesus Christ.”

Encouragement, grief, mourning & respectTo Mourn, or Not to Mourn [required reading]

“When someone dies our first response should not be to condemn the life that has been lost or those who are mourning. The world needs to see compassion from us. They need to know we care. There are people struggling with depression and drug addiction all around us and to dismiss these diseases is to show a lack of compassion. The way of Jesus is not to condemn people who are hurting, but to come alongside them and to help them in their time of trouble. To help, show compassion, or mourn the effects of drug addiction or depression is not to approve of them. When we do these things we are showing empathy. We are trying to understand and help people escape the darkness they feel encompassed by. To fail to act in this way is to turn our backs on people who desperately need help.”

Generations & Gen Z: Coming Soon to a Workplace Near You: Generation Z

“… the most common definition of Gen Zers as being born after 1996 …”

Ministry: * The Two Times the Pastor is Most Vulnerable; * Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy

* “The minister is most vulnerable at two times: in the few minutes before the morning service begins and in the half hour after it ends.”

* “There is certainly a growing trend towards bi-vocational ministry in both mainline and evangelical churches … This trend dovetails with other recent developments that are troubling to many religious communities. Not only is church attendance in long-term decline, but financial giving by church members is at Depression-era lows. Meanwhile, seminary students are taking on ballooning debt for a career that may not exist by the time they graduate. This trend began before the Great Recession, and has only worsened since then.”

LIFE group guide: what God our Father does

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (June 15) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To hold up the ways of God our Father before all who seek to be like Him when they grow up.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122.1 NRSV)

•  … and the Lord … said, “This is what you are to … tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” … The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” (Exodus 19.3-6,8a NIV)

•  … watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children. (Deuteronomy 4.9-10 NIV)

•  In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established … Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2.2-3a NRSV)

•  … you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice. (Romans 15.6 CEB)

•  Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Ephesians 6.4 The Message)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Tell us of something important you saw modeled by your father, a parent, or guardian.

2. Complete this sentence as you understand him now: “God is ____.” What makes you think so?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Read Deut. 4.1-40 aloud with each group member reading a single verse. What’s emphasized?

2. Read Ps. 122. What emotion is noted in vs.1-2? What action (v.3-5)? What expectation (vs. 6-9)?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. If a man is a Christian father, what are his highest priorities before the Lord to his children?

2. Name some society/”life” barriers to more involvement on your part with our church family?

3. Name the greatest barriers within you to greater/consistent participation in church life?

4. What benefits and blessings accrue to children when Christian parents are sold out to Christ?

5. List your priorities based on your beliefs. Then list your priorities based on time spent. Pray.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Consider what your current level of interaction and service with our church family is conveying to, and doing for, yourself and others. Maximize your committed involvement.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Children’s ministry: The Most Important Sub-Ministry In Your Church

“Here’s the lesson: You can drop the ball in the service, but ace it with the kids, and still have a chance that they’ll return. But no matter how good the service is, if the children’s ministry is bad, they won’t come back – unless they’re people without children. Too many people treat children’s ministry as a necessary evil. It’s severely underfunded, understaffed, and underappreciated. Wake up. Children are the heart of your growth engine.”

Dignity: What Maya Angelou Did on the First Day of Class

“When you recognize someone’s name, you recognize them not just as human but as a person. One of the greatest ways you bestow human dignity on someone is by calling them by name.”

Encouragement & ministry: The Single Most Encouraging Thing You Can Do for a Pastor

“I will tell you, friend, that when you encourage a messenger God sends to your church, the Lord in Heaven takes note and counts it as something done for Him.  Likewise, if you set yourself to discouraging and undermining the minister, God takes that personally also, and the news for you is not good.”

God & perspective: The God Who Shows Off Broken Seashells

“To a child, it is silly to think that a broken edge could somehow diminish the value of a seashell. The edge is simply a testament to the waves that brought the shell to shore – waves which provide another source of continual amazement.”

Life & priorities: 7 Steps to Live Your Ideal Eulogy

“One of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff, has a poignant section in his book Start called “The Plane Crash”. He talks about creating a pretend, life-ending disaster in your head and asking yourself the question, ‘If I died today, what would I regret not being able to do?’ A little morbid, but effective. Of course, the real question that comes out of this exercise is ‘Are those the things I’m doing right now?'”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology, history & Syria: Among the Wounded in Syria’s War: Ancient History

“The situation now is absolutely terrible there. … They come with jackhammers. That means everything is destroyed.”

Church atmosphere & environment: * What’s the Habitat? [essential reading]; * The Church is a Zoo; * The Dark Side of Small [essential reading]

* “Here’s an important question to ask regularly: ‘Who does well here?’ Don’t just ask, ‘who attends here currently?’ Ask, ‘Who thrives here?’ Ask it in the present tense rather than, ‘Who has survived here over the years?'”

* “… if God is bringing people different than those you thought He would bring, rejoice that He’s drawing any of His children to your church at all.”

* “I have often praised smaller churches. … But I am not wholly idealistic and naïve. Wherever there are human beings trying to make it through life together, there are problems. It matters not whether the setting is large or small. Every community of people faces challenges which, if not handled with wisdom, grace, and love, will threaten its health and perhaps even its existence.”

Crimea, Ukraine & Russia: The 160-Year Christian History Behind What’s Happening in Ukraine

“It would be pleasant to think that the U.S. and Europe are taking these religious factors into full account as they calculate their response to the present crisis in Crimea and Ukraine. Pleasant, but unlikely.”

Encouragement, leadership & ministry: Minister Search: You Have More to Offer Than You Might Think

“Church leaders often underestimate what they have to offer a prospective minister.  They have much value to offer a minister and I’m not talking about money. … Church leaders need to spend time thinking about what they have to offer that is of value. … Church leaders who will form a hedge of protection around a young minister really have something of value to offer. … Church leaders who will show a genuine interest in the lives of their ministers and families definitely have something valuable to offer.”

Happiness, money, possessions & stuff: Why Buying Stuff Won’t Make You Happy (and One Thing That Might)

“The pursuit and purchase of physical possessions will never fully satisfy our desire for happiness. It may result in temporary joy for some, but the happiness found in buying a new item rarely lasts longer than a few days. Researchers even have a phrase for this temporary fulfillment: retail therapy.”

History & the United States: Watch the United States Grow Before Your Eyes

“On March 4, 1789, the U.S. Constitution took effect, forming a nation of 13 colonies and a whole heck of a lot of unorganized territory. On August 21, 1959, Congress admitted Hawaii as the 50th state. … [see] this handy gif of all the steps it took to get us from point A to point B.”

The South: These 9 Maps Should Absolutely Outrage Southerners

“… there are lots of things to love about the South. It’s clean and quiet. There’s delicious food, good people and often amazing weather. But that’s exactly why it makes us so sad to think about all the ways in which the region is struggling today.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible reading: 3 Biggest Reasons Bible Reading is Down

“Bible reading is down because people read it in fragments, a-historically, and in isolation.”

Christianity, communication, disagreement, influence, love, relationships & words: Civil Religion Can We Talk? [essential reading]

“… we need to assume goodwill and generosity on the part of others, no matter how wrong we might thing they are. For the sake of having better conversations, and for the pursuit of truth, we have to be able to admit we don’t have it all, After all, if we want to be heard, we have to learn how to listen. So what do you say, Can we talk?”

Culture, history & the United States: I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again

* “In reality, Christianity in America may not have the same political, social, and corporate authority it did in the past, but Jesus never intended to spread the gospel message through political strength or domineering control. The problem with people claiming that America used to be a Christian nation is that, well, it never was.”

Creation, nature & stewardship: Stewardship: Being in and Working with Creation

“We use the world’s resources, but the trick is to use them wisely, and with a careful, conservative sense of balance. That’s the difficulty of stewardship. When we use up resources — the resources God gave us — with abandon and without care, the results aren’t pretty. We can never really grow it back. That’s the thing about nature; we can manage it well, but we can’t create it from scratch. Only God can do that. Stewardship is the balanced middle way — it’s not ‘use it up and move on to the next,’ but it’s also not untouched nature for nature’s sake.”

Discouragement, encouragement, ministry & support: 5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“As a pastor of a local church for over twenty-five years, I had my share of buildups and letdowns. Sometimes I recall the discouraging times more. I know that I was not supposed to get down because of people and circumstances, but it happens. I also know that the people who discouraged me did not always mean to do so. But it happened. The purpose of this post is to let you in on a few things to avoid (unless you want to discourage your pastor). If you are bent on discouraging him or her, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so.”

God, suffering, tests, and trials: God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. I Guarantee It. [essential reading]

“There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike. … ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ is the phrase I’m referring to.”

Parenting: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

“It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.”

Parenting & social media: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Social media: 5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous For Me [required reading]

“I went on an internet fast recently – I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.”