Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Invitations to be still

Was just looking through some old notes and found this compilation of scripture invitations to be still.  It seems that drama increases and things get busier as the holidays arrive.  These scriptures are great invitations to remember that there is more to life than the craziness that's around us.

Exodus 14:13-14
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Nehemiah 8:11
The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day."

Psalm 37:6-8
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
       the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
       do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
       when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
       do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Mark 4:37-39
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Psalm 46:9-11
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
       he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
       he burns the shields with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God;
       I will be exalted among the nations,
       I will be exalted in the earth."
The LORD Almighty is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Zechariah 2:11-13
"Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.  The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.  Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Jesus Creed for Students

Every year at Stillmeadow, we have a special Sunday service to honor and pray for our graduates.  In a way it is a sending service, as the graduates are preparing to continue their education or enter the workforce.  As part of the sending we want to give them a gift that will be a reminder of God’s discipleship call on their life.  Usually we give them a book.  But in choosing a book I usually have a couple requirements.  First, I want to give a book that is accessible, that any of our graduates can study.  Second, in accessibility, I don’t want a book that waters down Jesus’ call to a radical way of life.  Third, I want a book that is engaging, with practical application and real-life scenarios and stories…something to which any of our graduates can relate.  And I think I found another book that does all three of these: The Jesus Creed for Students.

The Jesus Creed for Students is a condensed version of Scot McKnight’s much larger, much longer book that came out in 2005.  Scot partnered with Chris Folmsbee (head of our very own Barefoot Ministries) and Syler Thomas to make the content of the book available for youth.  I heard about the book on Chris Folmsbee’s blog, where he invited folks to get the book for free in exchange for a review.  And I’m glad I did!

Here’s the basic synopsis: The Jesus Creed is Jesus’ response to a basic question, “What is the greatest commandment?”  To this Jesus replies, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31). Our church has joined many others in summing this up: Love God, love others.  To Jesus, this is the most important thing.

So in the first eight chapters of this book, the authors take the reader through the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) and show how “love God, love others” weaves through the fabric of the entire sermon.  And it’s done very well.  And the authors avoid legalism, one of the easiest pitfalls of our faith, by wrapping up the final chapters reminding the readers that this call to love God and love others only happens by the work of God in our broken lives.  They invite the reader to truly learn from and be shaped by the person of Christ, not just an idea.  And finally the book concludes with a call to be a boundary breaker, a person who courageously follows Christ wherever He leads.

One of the best parts about this book is that the authors are not just handling ideas, but calling for changed lives.  And they give structure for that, inviting the reader to recite the Jesus Creed at the beginning of each chapter and the Lord’s Prayer at the end of each chapter.  And they don’t leave it at that.  They encourage the readers to make those a part of every part of their day.

Although I am excited to give this to our graduates, I believe this book will also be useful for current high school students as well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Next Sunday Morning STU Series

So, we have Stillmeadow Teen University (STU) every Sunday morning at 9:30, when 6-12 grade students get together to study scriptures together and to grow in Christ together.  It's pretty sweet.  I've been teaching the middle school boys for the past couple months and am LOVING that!

Anyway, we just wrapped up our previous series jumping through Matthew.

Now, we'll be examining what Stillmeadow calls her five core values: Connect, Celebrate, Commit, Contribute and Communicate.  (Yes, they are all "C" letters.)  Essentially, we believe that Jesus modeled these five things in his faithful obedience to his Father, and we want to do the same as a community (another great word that starts with "c").  Since this is "core" to who we are at Stillmeadow, we thought it'd be "cool" to have a series breaking these down with the teens.

If you'd like to see the Student Guide that we're handing out to our students, follow this link.

One of the things we're trying out is giving students a scripture for each day that is connected to the theme of the week.  This way they can be prepared when they come on Sunday.  Not everybody does it, but those that do have expressed that they get great reward from it.  We even send out text reminders of what scriptures we are reading each day.

If you'd like to receive texts with the scriptures for each day (found in the student guide), click on this link.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stations of the Cross 2011

The Stations will be open from 6-9PM every night during Holy Week.  That's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Stations of the Cross are an excellent way of remembering what Jesus did for the whole world when he endured the scandal of the cross.  Each station gives a scripture and a piece of art or an object to reflect on the scripture.  Our youth have put energy into the artwork and into construction of some of the scenes.  They've been doing this since 2006 and I'm excited about this year too!

If you don't come to our church, you can still come!  Our address is:

400 Stillmeadow Lane
York, PA 17404

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Google is Bonkers!

Google has so many things that they're up to. I personally have loved using their Android platform on my phone for the past year.  But today two things caught my eye...

First, with the crisis in Egypt where the government has shut down most internet and cell phone connections, Google has put out a Voice to Text Twitter service, so that the people on the ground can report on what's going on there.  Wow.

Second, now you can tour museums with Google's Street View.  If you start at the Hermitage Museum, you can see one of my favorite paintings of all time in its context: The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our current Sunday morning series: using SOAP on Matthew

We just started a new journey with the teens at Stillmeadow.  From now until April 13 (Palm Sunday) the teens at Stillmeadow are working through the book of Matthew. 

We're proceeding through the book from front to back (although...reading it from back to front might be an exciting adventure at some point) and encouraging the students to read a portion each day.  Students can sign up for texts which the passages for each day.  I'm also updating my twitter and facebook status every day with those same texts.  Feel free to follow along!

The Method
We're also trying something new with the kids by giving them basic instructions on how to read the text.  There are sooo many ways, but right now we are emphasizing the SOAP method!  We are encouraging the students to use this method on their own during the week.  Then when we gather on Sundays we practice it together.  I'm stoked about it!

What is SOAP?  I'm glad you asked!  See the explanation below!

SOAP is an acronym for a simple way of reading scripture.  The intention is to guide you purposefully through scripture, taking time for and allowing God to speak through the reading.

Scripture: Before you read, take a couple minutes to sit in silence before Christ, remembering His sacrifice in the past and His ever present love.   Then read, knowing His Spirit is with you, opening your heart and mind to His truth.

Observe: Ask the who, what, when, where, how and why questions.  What does this passage say about God and/or humanity? How does this passage fit in with the passage before and after? Is there anything that stands out or that I have not noticed before?

Apply: What is God saying to you through this passage?  What does He want you to learn?  How does He want you to live differently?

Pray: Based off what you sense God is saying to you from this passage, take time to write out or form a prayer that focuses on the content of what you read and what you sense God calling you to do.  Then pray for family, friends and enemies.  Pray for your church and smaller group.  Pray for yourself. 

Hint #1: You may find it helpful to write your responses in a journal or on paper…

Hint #2: You will find some passages more difficult than others.  That’s okay! Bring any confusions or difficulties to class for questions!  More than likely others will have similar questions!

This method is adapted from something our worship pastor, David Brown, gave to me.  He adapted it from Wayne Cordeiro's book The Divine Mentor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Friend Doug Paul Has Moved

My good friend (so good he was my best man and I his!) Doug Paul (not this Doug Paul, the original sounding voice actor) has been a part of a church plant called Eikon for the past few years and has been blogging about the church's journey.  He has moved his blog.  I think it looks quite nice!

Also, if you are interested in the way of discipleship that his church is following, check out 3DM.  Very rooted, spirit-filled and innovative stuff happening through this.  Alan Hirsch, who has some great work on missional church work,  recommends 3DM with this youtube video.

This video does a good job of explaining why they are doing what they are doing the way they are doing it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gratitude thoughts from Brian Walsh

In a culture of perpetual dissatisfaction,
a culture where you are what you have made yourself,
a culture of ceaseless craving
……for new experiences,
……for consumer goods,
……for power,
……for sex,
……for wealth,
……for status,
a culture of hyperactive frenzy and anxiety,
a culture of paralysis and numbness,
……in this culture,
……gratitude can set us free.
Gratitude receives life as a gift,
not a self-made accomplishment.
Gratitude is rooted in deep satisfaction,
not held captive to dissatisfaction.
Gratitude replaces isolation
with community.
Gratitude replaces competition
with friendship.
Gratitude meets an economy of ‘more’
with the audacious experience of ‘enough.’
Gratitude abandons aggression
for gentleness.
Gratitude shakes off arrogance,
for humility.
If the peace of Christ rules in our hearts,
if we know the power of forgiveness,
if we have been renewed in Christ,
if love binds our lives together,
then we will be thankful.
If the word of Christ dwells in us richly,
if the word of Christ takes up residence deep in our lives,
if that word begins to bear fruit in us,
if wisdom begins to shape our imaginations,
then we will sing songs of profound gratitude.
If we have come to Christ,
if we give our whole lives to Christ,
if we submit every dimension of our lives to his loving rule,
if we do everything in the name of Christ,
……then our whole lives will be a thanks offering,
……our whole lives will give thanks to God our Father.
Christian ministry is not a duty,
it is an act of gratitude.

You can find the rest of Brian's stuff here.