Friday, October 10, 2008

chicken or the egg?

Here is a little story for you. "cheers for story" "come on you guys you know you miss story time almost as much as nap time…;)" . So the other day, as I was doing laundry like a responsible young adult "gives self pat on back for alluding to and actually doing a very hard thing ;)" , I pulled out from my laundered jeans pocket a very worn and well washed scrap of paper on which I had taken interrogative notes and doodled adequately on one evening at youth group. These questions that were written down seemed to be reoccurring in the discussions we have had as well as reoccurring in my mind as I read through “Do Hard Things”. I read over the notes again and, as I read the questions now before me in faded grey ink, I realized that I still had the same questions. The queries that had sprouted that night remained still unsatisfactorily answered and haphazardly strewn about in my mind. The long and short of it is I am now addressing said questions to you "consequently, it would be simply amazing to hear y’all's opinions/thoughts/concerns/snide remarks etc…"

  • Do the expectations placed upon us (culturally or otherwise) allow/disallow opportunity?
  • Do the expectations placed upon us (culturally or otherwise) make/force or extinguish opportunity?
  • Can we ourselves make opportunity?
  • Are we held responsible to make opportunity?
  • Do we take opportunity?
  • Do we stumble upon opportunity?
  • Are we to be reprimanded for waiting for opportunity to knock on our door?
  • Are we to be commended for knocking on opportunity’s door?

"some of the preceding are the same idea rephrased again, yet there is some minute difference that warrants its repetition. That’s my story anyway, and I’m a gonna be sticking to it"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'What is a Healthy Church member?' Introduction/Chapter 1

As some of you are aware, after Thabiti Anyabwile spoke at the Worship God '08 conference, we were all given a free copy of his book What Is a Healthy Church Member? I had been putting off reading it for many different lame, and false excuses. "Oh, I have school," "Not today, I'm busy." "Eragon? or this book?" And my personal favorite. "Well... I'm already reading 'Do Hard Things' and I don't know if I should be doing any more than that. With school and everything..." Then, I believe God brought this to my attention, "What will more glorify me?" And thus, I started the first chapter today.

Thabiti starts the book with this encounter he had. He says in his introduction,

Jenny surprised me when she started crying during our membership interview. The first twenty minutes of the interview were fairly routine. She recounted her childhood growing up in a Christian home, her high school years filled with fear, and a period of living as a prodigal during college. Then she recalled with some joy her conversion experience in a home town local church.
So I did not expect her to sob at the question, "How was that church for you spiritually? Did you grow there?" After pausing for a moment, she explained, "I expected that after my conversion someone would have helped me to grow as a Christian." She continued with a distinct trace of confusion and anger: "But it was as if people put me in the corner somewhere, as if they expected me to figure things out on my own. It was a terrible and lonely time."
How many Jenny's have you met in your lifetime? Perhaps you are a Jenny. Perhaps you have spent considerable time in a local church, or several churches. And perhaps your Christian life is not too dissimilar from Jenny's. You came to the faith bright eyed and bushy tailed, bouncing with energy and zeal to do great things for the Lord. But soon you found yourself wondering, "What exactly am I supposed to be doing a member of this local church?" If so, this book is written for you. And if not, this book is written for you, too.

Thabiti then recounts a story where a woman in his church came up to him after a service one Sunday and started to,
"...complain of her dissatisfaction."

..of things that were that were changing in the church. So, Thabiti said this in his introduction,

When she paused in her litany, my first thought was to ask her, "So what exactly would you have me to do about these things?" But in a rare moment of insight I thought better of asking that question. Instead I asked her, "So what are you going to do about the state of the church? How will you become a better member and contribute to the health of God's family in this place?"

In chapter one he talks about a healthy church member as an ex-positional listener. Which he describes as: listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our person and corporate lives and Christians. (Wow, what a mouth full!) And what the benefits of being that listener are. And thirdly 'How can church members cultivate the habit of ex-positional listening? He lists these examples:

1) Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time.
Thabiti says this, "Several days before the sermon is preached, ask the pastor what passage of scripture he plans to preach the following Sunday. Encourage him by letting him know that you'll be praying for his preparation and preparing to listen to the sermon. Outline the text in your own daily devotions and use it to inform your prayer life. Learning to outline Scripture is a wonderful way of digging out and exposing the meaning of a passage. You can then use your outline as a listening aid; compare it to the preacher's outline for new insights you missed in your own study.

2) Invest in a good set of commentaries.

3) Talk and Pray with friends about the sermon after church.
-I think this would be really great to do these Saturdays. I know we do it sometimes but it should be regular.
Thabiti gives this example: "Instead of rushing off after the service is over, or talking about the latest news, develop the habit of talking about the sermon with people after church.

4) Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week.

5) Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself.
"Jonathon Edwards resolved that he would never let a day end before he had answered any questions that troubled him or sprang to mind while he was studying the Scripture. How healthy would our churches be if member dedicated themselves to studying the Scripture with that kind of intentional effort and resolve? One way to begin is to follow up with your pastor, elders, or teachers in the church about the questions triggered by the text."

6) Cultivate Humility

He gave examples and helpful advice on all of these, but for the sake of time and plagiarizing I will stick with this for now.
What a God we serve? Isn't he good? He has provided us with all we need, and his blessings are unending!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Growing up in Salvation.

"...that by it you may grow up into salvation--
1Peter 2:3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good."
-1Peter 2:2-3 (ESV)

I thank God that I have tasted that the Lord is good! And that I will only continue to taste it all the days of my life, and in eternity. And just as much I thank God for all of you (dang, I can't say teenagers, 'cuz of Do Hard Things) young adults growing up in the salvation of God. I find it interesting that Peter makes "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good" into a whole verse. It's not very long, and it isn't a whole sentence. I think he does that to show the point he is making. (I could be totally off and that was just the way it happened, but I don't believe in coincidences, so who knows...I don't.)
Why this starts with that is because of what he says earlier in the first verse in the chapter,

"1Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander."

I thank God that he is working in our hearts; that this is no longer what we want and desire. For we have tasted that the Lord is good.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Age Cage

Zondervan Publishing House describes its Teen Study Bible as "a Bible that speaks to their [teenagers'] world." Huh? And, the normal Bible doesn't? Do teenagers need "Jericho Joe" to add a "lighthearted, cartoon touch to the text"? Personally, I don't think of a Bible that supposedly speaks to me in language I can understand. And, this is relatively good for a spiritual book aimed at teenagers. I linked from the Teen Study Bible to One-Minute [(!)] Bible 4 Students. It seems that Doug Fields, the book's author, honestly believes that teenagers can only hold their attention on the Word of God for one minute at a time (and they need to be spoon-fed the truth in these texts). But these books are only manifestations of a bigger problem: the Age Cage.

What is the Age Cage? It's my name for the set of low expectations our culture holds for teenagers. These low expectations hinder young adults both by preventing them from taking on responsibility and by encouraging them to waste their time, money, and brainpower "having fun". Alex and Brett Harris have written a great book called Do Hard Things (as well as a fantastic blog) on this subject. I started rereading Do Hard Things today for youth group. I have recently been thinking of applying for an internship with a popular talk radio host. However, I have a recurring suspicion that my age would prevent me from getting the position. Bam! The Age Cage strikes again! Am I less qualified than the interns holding these positions now? Perhaps I have less experience, but I have the capacity to obtain their experience--but I never will unless I am given the opportunity.

What do you think? Am I being irrational? Is there an "Age Cage" in America? Should there be? How have culture's expectations affected you?

A Blog for Youth

Some of us have personal blogs, but I thought it might be a good idea to create a blog where we can discuss Do Hard Things, talk about youth activities, and resolve questions we might have. So, if you're a OCSG youth, this is your sounding place until you graduate. If you know email addresses for anyone who I didn't invite because I don't know their emails, please post them or email them to me. Soli Deo Gloria,