John Piper: Youth Ministry

I recently listened to John Piper talk on the topic of Youth Ministry.
His sermon was very good and really challenged me.
It is a free listen at desiring God.com, where you can stream it or download it.
I highly recommend listening to it.

Here are some things that are stirring me still as I reflect on his sermon:

Let the Word of God burn in our hearts!
If we youth ministers really let the Word of God resonate in our hearts and minds, if we truly reflected on and memorized the Word before we began teaching our students...can you imagine what our sermons would sound like? Imagine the impact of the Word in our students' hearts and minds?
If the Word of God was burning in our hearts, then it would begin to burn in our students' hearts as well.
We would start a revolution, a fire for God!
Sometimes we just work week-in, week-out. We do enough to get by, maybe read over our message twice and the Word of God is not quite resonating in our own hearts, let alone our students'!

Let us pray over the Word before we begin studying for our sermon/talk. Let us slow down! Let us settle on the Word. Let us delight in the Word. Let the Word BURN in our hearts! Open our eyes Lord to the WORD of God! Let the Word shock our students' lives. Let us have ONENESS with God and His Word! That is radical but it is real.
This is how to start a revolution! Take delight in God's Word in your own life. Take care of your walk. Let the passion of God's Word pour out and infect our students!

Question Time....

How do we go about making church, a family ordeal? More family oriented?
It has been my experience that teenagers stay at church when their families (their parents) are committed, involved with, or at least encouraging their teens to go regularly.
The past two years, several teenager have left our ministry. Many of them did not have too much agianst us or our ministry, they simply did not have the encouragement from parents and other family to continue going.
When their parents quite going or started slacking off, slowly they began to follow suit.

So I am asking my blog audience for some ideas, suggestions, on how wto connect with parents and keep the entire family churched...


Hellenistic culture

In my Intro to Old Testament and especially more so in my Intro to New Testament classes, we talked about the "Intertestamental period." This it the chronological history and time between the date that the last book in the Old Testament was written and when the events in the first book of the New Testament were taking place. This is the time where we do not have internal Biblical text to portray history. But we do have external text, outside of the Bible that clue us in on history.
This period of time is sometimes overlooked. It is an important time in history, and important time especially for Jewish and Christian history.
This is where it gets fun, because there are several theories when it comes to dating the books of the Bible:
Typically it is thought that the last book of the OT was Malachi and it is dated around 450-441 BC. Then the first book of the NT is not completed till about 37-50 AD (this is a very conservative estimation). Some scholars think Matthew could have been the first Gospel completed as early as 37AD, while many more scholars believe that Mark was the first Gospel completed around 50 AD. There are other theories as well with more liberal and later dates.
But nonetheless the events addressed in the Gospels occurred from around 1AD-34AD.
This means that we have about 400 maybe even 500 years without anything written down. A silent period from the mouth of god, if it were.
This period is known as the intertestamental period, because the time (historically) is in-between the two Testaments.
One of the main features of this time period for Israel, (and is a big reason why there are not any writings from this time period) is Diaspora. Another big issue for Israel at this time is Hellenism.

The Jewish Diaspora during the Hellenistic period, should not be confused with either the Babylonian or the later Roman Diasporas. This diaspora was not pure brute force. It was in part, a voluntary movement of Jews into the Hellenistic kingdoms that created the Jewish presence outside Judea, especially in Ptolemaic Egypt .

This Diaspora was wedged between two worlds, on the one side were the Hellenistic values of the Greeks and on the other was the Mosaic law. The various ways the Jews of the Diaspora, especially the Jews in Alexandria, balanced these two extremes, through the emphasis of common values and loyalty to the monarch, dictated its existence in the Hellenistic World.

Hellenistic culture was brought on by the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BC spread Greek culture and colonization over non-Greek lands.

The Greek culture and influence left Hebrew Jews only a handful of options: They could embrace Greek culture, abstain from Greek culture, or mix with Greek Culture.

Some Jews continue to live in Israel and lived snobby. They hated Greek culture, they thought they were better than the Greek influence and lived a traditional lifestyle away from the world.

Some Jews fully embraced the new Greek cultures and fads. They went so far, as to abandon their Jewish and Hebrew traditions and religion.

Some Jews lived a life of balance. They lived in but not of the world. They embraced the culture but they continued their faith. For example the 72 scribes who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek.

In a later post I will describe how the Hellenistic culture looked a lot like America in recent years .


Christian Community

2 Corinthians 1- “He [God] comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them that same comfort God has given.”

Sometimes passages from the Bible strike me hard, as they always should....

Today this verse reminded me of how Christian faith is suppose to look like. As it was in Acts.

We are suppose to be a community of believers always ready to help each other.

The world saw that picture of Christianity imagine how many more converts we would have!!

IN Christ,

Have you ever wondered about Chapter and Verse numbers?

The purpose of the chapters and verse numbers was to facilitate reference. These divisions sometimes ignore logical and natural divisions.

If you keep up with my blog you know that sometimes I feel that they should be ignored sometimes when reading the Inspired text because they can be frustrating, they are not diviney inspired. And they sometimes distract us from the full context of a story, text.

It is likely that the original manuscripts did not even contain basic punctuation, far less an organized numbering system for each sentence.

But there remains a question....
when were verse and chapter numbers added to bible?

Until I asked this question, myself, I did not realize how the texts of the Bible through-out history have been divided. The Original Hebrew Manuscripts of the OT first was divided at each paragraph with Hebrew letters separating each paragraph.
around the time of the council of Niche the NT also was divided into Paragraphs.

Churchmen Archbishop Stephen Langton and Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro determined different schemas for systematic division of the Bible between 1227 and 1248. It is the system of Archbishop Langton on which the modern chapter divisions are based.

Verse numbers came later: Rabbi Isaac Nathan around 1440.

Okay so I do need to mention this...there are some groups who believe that the chapter and verse numbers have some significance and relevance to us today. CodedBible.com has a very strange theory, but it seems like a conspiracy to me.



Million Voices

A song by Barlow Girls
it is exciting
Here is an excerpt from the chorus:

"We’re a million strong and getting stronger still
They’ll remember we were here
With a million voices breaking silence till
They’ll remember we were here"

Worldwide: 2,039 million Christians
In America: 225 Million
(these are estimates)

The song is saying we are here to spread God's word, and His love. We shouldn't be afraid to speak up, we have God behind us.

In the future people should look back and remember the Christians. We can and should leave an impact, this will happen when we are walking in the Holy Spirit!

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