Prayer Night

Last night we had our first worship night and focused on prayer. After we played some games and checked in with each other through highs and lows we spent some time in prayer.

We rotated freely through five stations to interact with God in different ways. The stations were:

1.)    Word: highlighting or marking Scripture that has impacted us.

2.)    Wipe Your Sins Away: asking God for forgiveness of our sins, and reflecting on where God is calling us through His grace.

3.)    Rest: time to dwell in the Bible, journal, pray, or just be.

4.)    Praise and Thanksgiving Wall: writing down what we are thankful for.  (The whiteboard was covered)

5.)    Pray for the World: posting sticky notes on a map of the world, as we prayed for different countries. 

We ended our night with some worship, and a closing prayer.

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Forgetting The Log in Our Eye

As the summer winds down, we are also finishing our look at the book “Half Truths” by Adam Hamilton. This week we looked at the half truth of “hate the sin, love the sinner”. As with all half-truths, it is a well-intentioned statement. We are trying to say that we love all, but no their sins. People are welcome here, but we don’t condone those actions. As we think about this more, this statement causes us to forget that we have our own sin.

What is Sin?

Sin simply put is straying away from the path or to miss the mark that God has for us. Sin isn’t a good thing, but it is something we all do.  Trying to rank sins, or saying that all sins are equal supports this half-truth of “hate the sin, love the sinner”, and counters what scripture teaches.

Hate the sin…

Who did Jesus hang out with? He was with tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards, adulterers, cheaters, thieves, and other “sinners”. Jesus ate with them, healed them, and called them to be his disciples. We never heard Jesus say, “I hate your sin, but I love you.” Jesus preached about grace and forgiveness of sins. Jesus only got mad about sin when church officials were committing sin.

…love the sinner

When we take the approach of loving the sinner, what is wrong with that? Shouldn’t we love sinners? Of course we should love sinners! BUT Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, He never said to love the sinner. Our neighbor is everyone that we meet, will meet, or never meet. Basically our neighbor is everyone. When we use the mentality of love the sinner, we put on a lens of judgement.


““Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Matthew 7:1-5


If we love someone because they are sinner, and not our neighbor then we are putting more focus on the sin, not them as a person.

Final Thoughts

We should love our neighbor despite the fact we are a sinner.  There are some sins that we should hate” murder, oppression, abuse, racism, injustice, and indifference to others. We should work against these things, by showing love to those involved. Our job is to love, not judge. There are enough Christians who are quick to point out others sins and forget their own. Let’s love one another and lay aside our sin, while showing humility and grace.

God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

We started out our night with some Highs and Lows

Think of a tough situation you have been in. What was said to you?

Odds are, it was something along the lines of “God won’t give you more than you can handle. “

Well this statement is very well intentioned, there are some limitations and assumptions put onto God that aren’t completely true, a half-truth if you will.

This saying comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “ No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Looking back to the original Greek the word for temptation in Paul’s context actually means tested.

What did Corinth look like?

Paul was writing to the Corinthians who were pagan worshipers before they became Christians. The Corinthians worshiped aphrodite, idol worship and prostitution were rampant in the temples. Though the Corinthians were becoming Christians they kept regressing to their old ways.

Earlier in this passage, Paul was also talking about how the Israelites were tempted and this isn’t something that just the Corinthians were going through. Basically he was saying that we will be tempted/tested at some point.

What is this passage not about?

You see Paul wasn’t addressing the hard times in our lives. He was referencing the temptations and testings that come in our everyday life. NOT difficult times that will/have popped in our lives.

Good News!

When Paul was talking to the Corinthians he was saying that God wont tempt/test them more than they can endure.

In times of temptation, we may not look very hard for a way out of that situation, but there is one. This is the Spirit leading us a way from temptation.

The problem here is that, though God provides a way out of temptation; it’s that we don’t pursue it.

God doesn’t tempt us; we do a good job of that our selves. James 1:13 tells us that.

Where they half-truth misses the mark

There are stresses and emotions that can be too strong for us to handle. Some turn to unhealthy ways to handle these emotions, others turn to help.

Remember what we talked about the first week of F.I.S.H.? We talked about “Everything Happening For a Reason”.

God doesn’t give us these bad situations, life happens, people hurt us. Know that God is with us in all situations, good and bad. 1 Peter 5:7 talks about this.

God will always help us handle all that we’ve been given. Are you pursuing those He has sent to help?

What to say instead?

For those going through tough times, here is a good thing to say: I love you and God loves you. God will be with you. Or How can I help?

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

This week we began our summer study which follows Adam Hamilton’s book, Half Truths. We began our study by introducing the idea of half truths and the place they hold in our lives. For more information on that check out our introductory blog post. After discussing the idea of half truths we dove into our first half truth: “Everything Happens for a Reason.” We discussed how Continue reading

F.I.S.H. Summer Study: Half Truths

FISH (Fellowship In Someone’s Home) will take place throughout the summer on Wednesday Nights from 6pm-8pm. The first hour will be devoted to Highs, Lows, and a Bible Study. The second hour will be devoted to Fellowship such as a game of some sort.

This summer’s study will look into some half truths that are prevalent throughout Christianity based on a book by Adam Hamilton called “Half Truths: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves and Other Things the Bible Doesn’t Say”. Some of the things we accept and repeat to others sound so true, and we’ve believed them for so long, that they turn into “sacred cows” – things above question or criticism. In fact, when we do question them, we can become defensive and irritated. We may even believe that if these beliefs aren’t true, the rest of our faith may crumble. Continue reading

Youth help out with Trunk-or-Treat!

Each year St. Mark reaches out to the community around us to provide a safe and fun trick-or-treating experience. This year both the Middle School and High School youth helped out by creating their own trunk-or-treating experience. Check out the pictures below to see what they did!

Eikon (High School)

Last Sunday the High School youth built a Spooky Maze in the church basement. During Trunk-or-Treat, the youth helped kids have a safe and not too scary haunted house experience!

CREW (Middle School)

Over the past couple of weeks each of the 6 small groups worked together to plan a fun trunk. Then they met up early on Wednesday evening to put together their trunks and hand out candy to the Trunk-or-Treaters.


  
  

Walk 4 Water Concert and LOCK-IN!!!

This week instead of our normal Sunday night meeting, we actually met on Saturday Night for a Lock-in. We kicked off the night at 6pm at Faith Lutheran Church where we met up with several other churches from throughout central Iowa for an event featuring the Walk-4-Water campaign, Agape, Rachel Kurtz, and Joe Davis.

The event started with a .1 mile journey through the basement carrying 5 gal water jugs (weighing 40 lbs!) to simulate the 3.7 miles that the average woman in sub-Saharan Africa must walk to retrieve water for her family. On the journey we had to walk through simulated flood waters, stand in the heat, learn about water born illnesses, and follow the perilous journey of an individual who doesn’t have enough water. After sweating our way through the Walk-4-Water track, we moved into the sanctuary where we witnessed an awesome concert!


  
  


Then we headed back to the church for a night full of Gargon, Hypotherables, and The Magic School Bus (seriously, that’s the netfilx movie the youth picked out). It was a great night and it all culminated in us attending the 10am Contemporary worship together.

Mario Kart Battle and Shape Shifting

Mario Kart

Tonight’s theme was Fellowship. We had an awesome time playing some new games that Nora came up with. We started off the night upstairs with a great free-for-all, real life Mario Kart Battle. Unlike the video game, where the balloons are attached to a kart, tonight we tied balloons to our ankles and tried to pop everyone else’s balloons. We played a few free-for-all rounds, a couple of team rounds, and finally the boss level. For the final round we set a chair in the center of the room, tied one balloon to everyone, and made sure everyone was touching the chair before we started. Check out the chaos below!


After some ridiculous fun upstairs, we moved down to the lower level of the DC for some team building. For this activity we split the group in two and blindfolded half of them. Then the team that wasn’t blindfolded was shown a shape, letter, or state. They then had to arrange the blindfolded group into that shape. What a great night of team building and fun!

Worship in Everything We Do

For our first Worship night of the 2015-16 school year we met the worship team and talked about the importance of Sabbath Worship. We learned that we can worship God with anything we do. To explore the idea of worshiping God everywhere and in everything we do, we played a game called Cranium. In this game we were asked to draw, sculpt, spell, answer questions, and sing to make our way around the game board.


After we played the game, we met as prayer partners. Our juniors and paired up with a freshman or sophomore to pray for one another. After spending intentionally time praying for one another, we moved our worship to the sanctuary, sang songs of praise, and sought the presence of Christ in our lives and in that space.


Baals, Idols, and Kings: Defying the First Commandment

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We began our first learning night by reading the 1st commandment out of Exodus 20:3-6. Then we asked what the point of this rule was. We realized that in our reality here in central Iowa, we really don’t run into situations very often where people are actually worshiping other/lots of gods. So to better understand the reason this commandment was important we looked into a few different stories from scripture where other gods played a prominent role. Here’s what we read:

Continue reading