Job

Job is an interesting book of the Bible where many aren’t sure that it is fact, but it is more of a myth. BUT the message of this story is still there and still very important to learn from. Throughout this story Job and his friends are trying to unpack what is happening to him. All the while God is dropping some knowledge on Job. Let’s look at the first part of Job starting at vs. 6 about how Job got into this.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Does it seem odd that God is “playing a game” with Job?

In God’s sovereign wisdom, He knows things we don’t know. He can see events unfold in the future that we could have never even imagined. Also, God rarely does things for one singular reason. Often times, God will achieve many things with just one event, and He may have 1,000 purposes that He accomplishes with it.

God probably didn’t care so much what Satan thought, but in His wisdom, God knew Job would remain faithful and that his story would inspire millions of faithful Christians to persevere in their trials throughout the ages.

Job 1:31-21

Job was a rich man who was very well off, with many kids. One day he lost everything, possessions, family, and health. Imagine losing all of these things in a short amount of time, like the time it takes for an Angel to speak to you. I think of some material items that I have, that I would be upset if I lost them, but then to think of even more than that being gone is tough to think about. Job lost his farm, his possessions, his family, and his health! I think that I could relate to Job on wanting to start all over, but it’s crazy to think that he fell and worshiped God!

After mourning for 7 days, Job finally spoke to his friends. They didn’t really offer any good advice to him. In tough times it’s hard to know what to say to those who are struggling.

What has helped you in hard times?

Job’s circumstances were so large to him. Think about things like breakups or fights with your child’s friends. These can feel really detrimental too. Our job as adults is to not minimize those struggles but to help youth through them.

Questions to discuss with your child?

– When have you experienced something that didn’t make sense in your faith?

– How do you recover when life seems stacked against you?

– Can you relate to Job?

There’s a Psalm for That

The Psalms contain 150 prayers, songs, and poems, but they are so much more than just the format they are written in. The Psalms all evoke different emotions experiences in relation to being human. Kind David (yes David from David and Goliath) has been attributed to writing much of the Psalms.

The Psalms were written over a long period of time, so there was a lot of life that happened while the Psalmists were writing. There were people in exile, captivity, good times, and sad times. This is a good look at the life that the Israelites lived.

The Psalms can give us language for worship and prayers, when we don’t know what to say. Think about our lives and how there are good times and bad. Times where we feel hopeless. Whether you are feeling happy or sad and looking for a way to pray or the words? Simply look in the book of Psalms. Last night students filled out a card that says “all the feels” as students were looking through Psalms they were able to write down Psalms that spoke to them.

At the times of struggle or sadness we don’t always know where to turn or feel we can’t take it to God. First off, God is big enough for us to take our sorrows and joys to. He also wants to hear from us, his beloved people. The Psalmists wrote some really sad songs, poems, and prayers to God about how bad life was. That is ok, we can go to God with those and God will be there with us. The beautiful part of the Psalms of sadness or desperation is that they are still worshiping God and looking to God.

There are also Psalms about people who are thanking God for creation or praising God for the blessings they have. As stated earlier, the Psalms engage many of the emotions.

I know that in tough times, it is hard to see where God is or to even worship God. We want to run and not be in God’s presence. I challenge that though, prayer works and talking with God can help in these tough times.

The Psalms are great example of what a life of faith can look like. The Psalms aren’t a guide on how to live. These Psalms are a great example of worship and prayer.

Know too that in tough times part of God being with us is through our peers. Your small group leaders, pastors, and I are available to talk and pray through tough times.  God is always with us

Questions:

What emotions do you wish Psalms included?

What Psalms speak to you now?

Can this ancient poetry still speak to us?

How can the Psalms provide comfort?

 

God’s Voice On Earth

Prophets were a huge part of the Old Testament and also and integral part for preparing of the coming of Jesus and Jesus’ life. There were so many prophets in the Old Testament, that we had to just pick a few to talk about. We talking about the first prophet being called as the Israelites were desiring one after Moses.

There is so much to think about when we talk about prophets, and our questions are ones that I’m sure the Israelites would ask too. How do we know this prophet is real? Do we know they are saying what God wants them to say? Well from Deuteronomy 18 we learned that God will pick them and speak through them. If what the Prophets says happens, then they know it is from God if it doesn’t well, the prophet presumed wrong.

We also looked at our views on us being prophets or living that life. What would it be like to work all the time for nothing (literally $0) and face angry crowds? This doesn’t sound like a desirable job? Well it’d be one for God to call us to that’s for sure!

What’s the journey that a prophet would go through to become one?

Called: They are called by God to become a prophet. (Isaiah 6:5-9) This call for them was very clear to them or God made it very clear. Think of the times that God has called us to something or made it clear. It’s tough to ignore God as he is persistent at getting to our hearts.

Content: Prophets are tasked with tough messages to share, but know God will be with them. (Jeremiah 16:14-18, 29:10-14, 31:1-7) They become more ok, or at least more obedient to the message God is tasking them to share.

Community: Prophets were called to speak to communities in which they belonged. (Ezekiel 3:1-11) This is a blessing and a curse, think bout the possibility of speaking out against family and friends or worse having to leave them due to persecution.

Consequences: Delivering tough messages to powerful people can lead to some negative consequences and rejection. (Daniel 6:3-12; 14-26)

As you can see the life of a prophet wasn’t super easy, but they were doing what God called them to do.

Questions to Ponder:

How do we know God is speaking to us?

What is God calling you to do?

What do you think of that call?

What is God calling St. Mark to do?

What makes you uncomfortable about sharing God’s message?

prophets-read-more

 

Ruth

We picked up our journey through the Bible in the book of Ruth. Ruth is a really short book, only 4 chapters but there is a lot to it.

Starting off in Chapter 1 Naomi and her husband Elimelech choose to leave their homeland (Bethlehem) and go to Moab due to famine. They had two sons who married Ruth and Orpah, both were Moabites. All three of these men died in Moab leaving Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah widowed.

On Top of them being widowed woman in these times, would have many social struggles. Woman needed me to care for them, and support them. Naomi decided to return to her homeland and told that Ruth and Orpah had no responsibility to her and could say in Moab. Orpah stayed in Moab, which was home to her, and had better chances to finding a husband.

Ruth and Naomi journeyed to Bethlehem where Naomi was from.  This was during the barley harvest, so they went to take some grain left behind from the pickers in Boaz’s field. Boaz was a distant relative to Elimelech.  They ended up at this field by coincidence. It may seem odd to go to a field to pick it over for grain, but it was a practice to leave some behind as they harvested for those who needed it.

Ruth and Boaz ended up getting married after Naomi told her to go lay at his feet one night. Boaz was a very caring individual who took great care of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth and Boaz had a son, whom they gave to Naomi. This allowed Naomi’s family name to live on. Oped was part of Jesus’ Lineage.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Does the story of Naomi and Elimelech leaving their homeland sound familiar to current day?
  • How would you feel having to leave your homeland?
  • Do you align more with Orpah or Ruth in their decision to stay or go? Why?
  • How do we include outsiders well?

Exodus

Last night we continued our journey through the Bible, in the book of Exodus to be specific. Exodus is an action packed story of escape and God’s provision for His people.

We picked up the story of Moses after he killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave. Moses was in Midian tending a flock of sheep. Moses lead his flock towards Horeb where God appeared to Moses through a burning bush! God was speaking to Moses and telling Moses that he needed to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites to the promise land. Moses said that he didn’t feel equipped for this and God assured him that He would be with Moses.

Moses went to Pharaoh, and said to let the israelites go. Pharaoh said, “no.” which lead to the 10 plagues (water to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, diseased cattle, boils, hail, locusts, darkness for 3 days, and death of first born). After each of the plagues Pharaoh still said no until his first born son had died. He then let Moses and the Israelites go.

Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he changed his mind to pursue the Israleites. Moses parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked to safety while the sea closed in on the Egyptian army, killing them. Moses and the Israelites then wandered the dessert for 40 years until they reached the promise land.

This is a really quick overview of Exodus. During this year we are giving the high lights of the stories and focusing on what they mean to us.

Moses was called to do something HUGE, something that he didn’t feel able to do. Sound familiar? God asks us to do the same, maybe not lead a whole group of people out of slavery, but tasks we feel unable to do. What does God call you to do?

Parents: Share a time with your child when God called you to do something you didn’t feel ready to do. How did you respond? How did it turn out?

Another part of this story was Moses’ desire to see God. When God first appeared to Moses through the burning bush, Moses hid his face. Later when God appeared to him again, Moses wanted to see God. God let him see his backside. There are times where we follow God and want to see Him to see if He is actually there. Where have you seen God in your life?

Then when they were in the dessert wandering, the Israelites lost sight if God and created an idol (golden calf) to worship. What do we worship, that isn’t God? (think: technology, money, status, friends, approval, etc.)

Each week I will be giving out cards to students giving them further optional readings to catch other parts of the book we are going through. Here they are below in case the sheet didn’t make it home:

exodus-read-more exodus-read-more

Genesis

Last night was a great night of CREW! We played some box Frisbee outside in this beautiful fall like weather before large group started. We are going to have a great year together!

Genesis:

We started out talking about how religion and science can work together and not be at odds. Genesis is a common book of the Bible that is called scientifically inaccurate.  There are questions that the Bible answers and science answers another set of questions, though they can support one another.

We looked at the big picture of Genesis; which is how we are created in God’s image, and we make mistakes but yet God still loves us. As you read through Genesis, one can think, “how are these people in the Bible?” but we see how God still loves and provides for them. We know that God loves and provides for us still to this day, and will continue to.

We also talked about how God gave us dominion over creation, and how can be good stewards of creation.

To Ponder…

  • How are we made in God’s image? What qualities does God have that we do?
  • How can we take better care of God’s creation?
  • All families have stories that are passed on or told frequently at family gatherings. What are some of those in your family? What is the origin of them? What does it say about your family?

How was the Bible Made?

Last night was our first night of our Bible year! We talked about does the Bible still matter and how it was created. The Bible as we know it was created through a process called canonization.

How do we know the Bible has the right books and still matters?

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We know from 2 Timothy 3:14-17 that all scripture is inspired by God. We also know that scripture equips us.

Questions:

How are you equipped for good works?

How has scripture equipped you?

How has God spoken to you through scripture?

In Small groups students talked about the Bible as a whole and the questions that it creates when knowing how it was made. Scripture is inspired by God and written by humans. How do we know the humans didn’t make mistakes or include the wrong books? Since scripture is inspired by God, we know that what needed to be included is included.

Questions:

What about the Bible’s history surprised you the most?

What book of the Bible do you find the strangest? Why?

In what ways do you think the Bible questions us?

Is the Bible trustworthy?

Why would we talk about how the Bible was made and the questions this can pose? As part of real faith for real life, we hear comments about how scripture contradicts itself or how it is inaccurate, but we need to know and believe that scripture is God’s written word to us. Also, it is ok to ask questions about what we believe, that is how we learn.

I look forward to our discussions as we dive into God’s word more this year and Genesis next week.

CREW Closing Worship

Tonight we spent time going over the purpose of CREW and celebrated our year together through songs and games. Continue reading past the jump to learn what the CREW youth learned about the purpose of confirmation before the 8th graders are confirmed on May 21st at 6:30pm. Continue reading

Is the Holy Spirit a person or wind or fire or what?

Tonight we continued our exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We explored the idea of The Holy Spirit. This week kids had an opportunity to learn what the Holy Spirit is and what it does. As we explore what the Holy Spirit looks, feels, smells and tastes like, we ask ourselves a difficult question:

Is the Holy Spirit a person or wind or fire or what?

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Why did Jesus go to hell?

Tonight we’ll continue our exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We’ll be exploring the idea of Jesus Christ, God’s only son and our Lord. This week kids will have an opportunity to experiment with the definition of hell what that says about God. As we begin to look at the stories of God experiencing the deepest darkest parts of being human, we ask ourselves a difficult question:

Why did Jesus go to hell?

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