Saturday, September 23, 2017

EDUCATION: Luther's Prayers Bookmarks and the Reformation's 500th Anniversary

As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation this year we are focusing more closely on what it and Martin Luther did for all believers. I love Luther's prayers. One night I decided to start saying them more often and didn't want to get out of bed to find my catechism. I wanted a bookmark so that they would be readily accessible and couldn't find them anywhere. So, as I usually do, I created some.

Monday, September 18, 2017

EDUCATION: The Bible Project

Yesterday we started a new season of Bible study at church and before we just jumped in and started reading, the pastor is taking some time to teach us about the Bible itself. Sometimes background information about the history of the Bible itself, its writers, the Israelites and their culture, and the language it's written in can make all the difference. We looked at a video resource that is great for people of all ages. Ok, well, maybe not preschoolers or young elementary age children as the vocabulary might be a challenge, but everybody else. It's called The Bible Project and the videos can be found on YouTube or on their own website. I don't know who is writing all the episodes but it's nondenominational so, as with every unknown resource, preview the videos before showing them to make sure they're compatible with your church's beliefs.

Of course, when it comes to the Bible, it's best for people to read it themselves and not just listen to somebody summarize it, so do not use this as a substitute for reading. This is especially true for kids, however, sometimes it helps them to have an overview of what's going on if the reading is challenging. This can be true even at the middle school level. So, if you're using a Bible reading plan for confirmation, some of these may be helpful. The videos are broken up into categories: Series, Themes, Old Testament, and New Testament.

How to Read the Bible - Information to help you read the Bible with greater understanding.
Torah - First five books of the Old Testament about God's covenant with the Israelites.
Gospel - Retells the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
Wisdom - Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job
Shema (Word Studies) - The shema is a prayer the Jews have prayed for thousands of years. This is a look at the meanings of the words from that prayer.

Themes:  The Covenants, Day of the Lord, Gospel of the Kingdom, Heaven and Earth, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Image of God, The Law, The Messiah, Sacrifice and Atonement, Public Reading of Scripture

Here is the first video in the How to Read the Bible Series.

Monday, September 11, 2017

OUTREACH: Social Media Posts

A lot of churches are writing creative blurbs, publishing quotes, and sharing scripture on social media. Society today is all about marketing and many churches, it seems, have jumped on the bandwagon. The problem is that there's a lot out there that it is false or wrong. Some of the issues are:

Scripture out of context. 
1 Corinthians 15:57 actually says,  "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Hmmm...

False Doctrine
There is no biblical reference here, but that's because there is no place in the Bible where we are promised that if we survive unfairness or tough times that we will be rewarded with double the stuff we had before.

Incorrect References 
Psalm 34:7 actually says, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." The correct reference is Psalm 37:4.

Another problem I've seen is no mention of God, Jesus, or the Bible. If you're marketing an event at your church, you mention the name of the church. If you're trying to strike up a conversation about faith, you point to God, Jesus, faith, the Bible, etc. These examples come from congregations trying to have a media presence.
Can you see a problem with them?

This one looks like great self-help advice. Perhaps it came from Oprah or another talk show helper. You would never know it came from a church, which church, or if it is scripture. The truth is, it's not about YOU. If you want to change your life, you need to follow Christ. He will lead you down the right path.

This one is true. God, the Father, loves us SO much. But then it says that he "just dropped everything that he was doing to tell you so." He dropped everything he was doing? What was he doing? This just doesn't make sense. God loves us far more than taking a moment while watching his favorite tv show or gardening to tell us. He loves us so much that he gave is one and only Son to die for our sins. How about just saying that?

If my pastor asked me to share these I would not. I would, however, share something that points to my church (which will point someone to Christ), to my Bible (which will point someone to Christ), or anything that simply points to Christ.

My whole point is that if you want your members to share something on their social media sites, make it something worth sharing. Something worth sharing POINTS TO CHRIST! You're sharing so that you might have a conversation. About what? About God, who sent His Son, to die for all our sins. Share that!!