New Testament

This week we finished our two weeks of giving some context to what we will be reading and learning from the New Testament. It is so important for us to take some time to understand  what is happening in the New Testament and when it was written. This will aid us in understanding what we read in the New Testament better.

Let’s highlight a few of the big differences in the Testaments:

  1. Jesus! Jesus, is here on earth and sharing God’s message with us on earth. In John we read where Jesus saying that he is saying what the Father (God) has commanded. We will spend a lot of time talking about Jesus and the good news he brought.
  2. Time it was written over. The New Testament was written over a hundred years and the Old was written over thousands of years. This help us to understand the history and the context of what is in the New Testament.
  3. Good News and Letters. The New Testament is made of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) The rest is pretty much letters written by Paul or other writers. We will talk about these differences and the books of New Testament as we go through the rest of this year.
  4. The New Testament puts an end to all the laws and sacrifices that were in the Old Testament. God’s love shines through with Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice and the new law of Love.

I’m excited for the rest of this year as we go through the New Testament and learn so much about God’s love for us!

Questions to Ponder:

  • Do you have a favorite section of the Bible? Why?
  • How would your understanding of the Bible be different if we didn’t make a distinction between to two sections?
  • How do you think the Old and New Testament are different? Where have you noticed similarities.

Why do Maps Matter?

In the age of GPS and the ability to quickly find out where things are, we have lost some touch with where things are and the distances between them. I know this is the case for me. Then we look even farther back to Biblical times and to the Middle East our sense of location and cultures of areas is even more skewed.

We are starting our New Testament Unit now and kicked it off talking about Maps. I know this sounds like a riveting topic, but it gives us even more context into what we are reading. Let’s take a look at part of Paul’s journey in Acts 14:24-28:

Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.”

Do these destinations mean anything to you? For me, I just breeze over them sometimes, but when we do that we miss a big part of the story. Paul traveled a lot for his ministry, and utilized the network of road the Roman Empire had created. In this journey Paul traveled about 7,000 miles!

As we continue to move through the New Testament we will continue to look at the maps and other parts of the stories. When we skip some of the details we miss out on the story. Think about when we share stories of travels with our friends. When we talk about a new place do we just name the place and not share any details about it? Of course not! If the person we are speaking with isn’t familiar with the location we give them context so they understand what we are talking about.

Our reading of scripture is no different. When Jesus or the disciples were speaking of locations the people they were speaking to understood those locations or at least had an idea of what those places were like. When we don’t look into the cities then we miss out the story and the meaning of it.

Chicago Mission Trip


Our group will serve by partnering with local ministries that are actively working with children and churches on the north side of Chicago. We will be in the Humboldt Park/Hermosa neighborhood of the city, which is largely influenced by the Puerto Rican culture. The organizations we partner with primarily facilitate kids’ summer programs in addition to a few that work with seniors and the homeless population in the Humboldt Park area. YouthWorks groups get to experience the very relational neighborhood at a weekly church service held at the housing site. Other evening activities include a trip downtown to Grant Park and Millennium Park, hearing from a community speaker, and sharing a meal with local residents at a weekly cookout.


This trip, will be much like previous summers trips with YouthWorks. There will be other churches joining us at this site and we will build relationships with them too.


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Rooted Partner Synod Journey


This is a first kind of trip for our Synod and St. Mark! We are super excited for joining together with the Grand Canyon Synod to serve Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tuscon! With this being a new kind of trip, there are some questions that arise. Here are some common questions and answers:

Q: What is a “partner synod”?

A: The 65 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are assigned a “partner synod” for the purpose of strengthening one another for life and mission within the body of Christ. The Southeastern Iowa Synod and the Grand Canyon Synod are very diverse in their geographical location and cultural experiences. This journey seems to be natural way for us to learn about the church and each other in another part of the country.

Q: What will be doing?
A: The purpose of this event is to strengthen one another for life and mission within the body of Christ. Through worship, learning, and service, high school youth and adults will gain insight into the culture and people of our respective synods while on the territory of the Grand Canyon Synod. This journey opens our eyes to the opportunities that Christ sets before us, calling us to deepen our commitment and discipleship as communities of faith and as individual disciples. Participants will be learning about the joys and challenges of the culture and the church’s role in responding to issues like human trafficking, homelessness, and immigration/border issues. Both learning and service opportunities will be integrated into the week. Here is what we are doing in each location:

  • Las Vegas – Homelessness
  • Phoenix – Human Trafficking
  • Tuscon – Immigration Issues
  • Grand Canyon – Environmental Issues

Q: What is “Rooted”?
A: The theme of our journey is based on Ephesians 3:17:” …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love…”.

Q: Where are we staying?
A: In Las Vegas we will be staying at the stratosphere hotel for two nights. We will be staying in Phoenix for the remainder of the trip in dorms. While in these cities, we will have area churches hosting us for meals and meeting spaces.

Q: How do we get there?
A: Looking at the costs of chartering a bus or driving that far, we have decided that flying out will be quickest and most economical mode of transportation to get out there.

Q: How Much is the trip?
A: Approximately $700. There is some wiggle room in there pending on the price of flights at the time we book, and the deal we work out with the airline. All we ask of families though is a deposit of $150.

Q: Why two big trips in one summer?
A: Tim is on the planning team for this trip, and was on it before coming to St. Mark. Since this is the case, he didn’t feel right forcing our group to go on this trip without any discussion. He is super excited about this trip, and looks forward to taking whoever wants to join!


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