||[Feb. 25th, 2004|09:39 am]
Last night was Salem's VBS night was really good. Three of the 8 presenters are doing a sports theme this year to coincide with the Olympics. I took one of them on loan. It deals with the armour of God. I don't like the Bibles than are just evangelistic and go over the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I desperately want to reach un-churched kids this year, but I know that the majority of our attendees will be church kids. So, I like a curriculum that is accessible to a non-Christian, but won't bore a kid who has been in church for 8-10 years. I can't imagine that the armour of God has been taught to often to kids so this could be a good theme.|
I think this was my third time at this VBS fair, but this year the guy from Salem did something different. Before he let us walk around to talk to the different sales reps, we prayed. We prayed for discernment that we would all make the right VBS decisions for our churches and our circumstances. I loved it. It took the night out of just being about commercialism and buying this VBS kit or that one and put the focus back on ministry. All of us, even the sales reps and the publishing companies who write these VBS curricula, are in ministry and ultimately we all want to serve God.
At my Small Group, we had our discussion about what book or study to do next. I was pushing for Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them, but it was a no-go. Or rather maybe the timing was off. It came down to Nicky Gumble's Challenging Lifestyle about the Sermon on the Mount and another Life-Guide book on Christian disciplines. I actually had proposed the latter. They appeared to cover the same sort of topics and so I was pretty neutral. In the end, we agreed to do Challenging Lifestyle. I think it will be good and am excited.
Am I slightly hurt about Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them? Yes. However, as much as I do want to explore this book with a group, I am holding onto this idea that it is a question of timing. I just finished reading it for the first time. Maybe I need a break from it so that I can go back to it in a year with a different perspective. Or maybe my Small Group isn't ready for it yet. One thing I like about Challenging Lifestyle is that it really puts the focus on our lives. I have done enough Bible study and I am ready for Bible application. I think Challenging Lifestyle will help us transition more to that focus of really trying to change our lives. Maybe after that we will be ready for the thought-provoking questions of what it means to live in community and inter-dependence. Or maybe, I will be presented with an opportunity to study Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them with a different group.
Today is Ash Wednesday. This year my Lent project is to stick to my Quiet Time schedule of prayer and worship in the morning and a study or journaling exercise in the evening. At first glance, it seems like a cop-out. I should be doing these things anyway.
I don't pretend to hold all the answers about everything Lent is and is not. It is a time to draw closer to God. It is a time of quiet reflection. It is a time to, in some small way, experience the sacrifice of Jesus and prepare oneself for the celebration of Easter. However, in practice, it seems like we often treat Lent as some kind of Christianized New Year's Eve resolution. Many adults have never moved beyond the child's Lent project of giving something up and one sees adults giving up chocolate or cigarettes or fast food for Lent. I suppose the next level of Lent project is to take something on – extra prayer, extra worship, or extra study. In this sense, the thing sacrificed is time or what ever else we would have been doing with our time.
Which leads me back into my Lenten project. Yes, I should be sticking to my devotional life schedule always. Yes, if I were a better (or at least more disciplined Christian) I wouldn't need to make this my Lenten project. However, to some extent, that can be said for all Lenten projects – if we weren't sinful, fallen people and if we really lived in full relationship with God we wouldn't need to ever do any of the things we take on for Lent because we'd all already be doing them.
So, with great humility (both about the choice of project and my ability to stick to it), I will make it my project to:
A – stick to my devotional time, both morning and evening
B- worship at least once a week (9:15 or 8:00 or Wednesday night service) outside of the 11:00 service.
C- do all those things on my church Things to Do list that I always manage to put off.
I'm also wearing the prayer box bracelet that Dragon-Boy gave me for Christmas. He warned us about taking out the prayer he had put in because it's hard to re-roll up a piece of paper and make it small enough to fit in. However, before today, I've worn it once since Christmas. If I wear it everyday in Lent as a reminder to continually pray whatever I've put in it, then ultimately that would be making better use of it than leaving it in the box and only wearing it when it matched my outfit or something.