Posted on: June 5th, 2014 by

Euroventure is coming up soon! We are excited to see you there. Our theme is “Re:ignite!” Throughout the week, you will hear a lot of different “re-” words to help to reignite your passion for God and Jesus. But I also wanted to give you some other “re-” words before we get started. These are ways to help you to pray through the Bible. Praying through scripture helps you to learn more about the Bible, but it also helps to focus your prayer, ’cause sometimes we just don’t know how to pray, or what to pray for. So, the method, which I got from another person, is called “rejoice, repent, request,” and you can use it for any verse in the Bible.

Rejoice: How can you praise God, based on this verse?
Repent: What have you done wrong that this verse helps you to realize?
Request: What specific requests, about you or somebody you know, can you think of based on this verse?

Here is an example from Psalm 50:7-12
7 “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God.
Rejoice: Lord, thank you that I can be part of your family, that you would call me one of your own. Thank you that you do speak to us- that you are not silent. Thank you that you speak, even when you say things that are against us. Thank you for being my God.
Repent: God, there are ways that you can testify against me. If you speak, I am silent before you, since you are holy and good. Therefore, please forgive my sins, according to your mercy, and the blood of Jesus.
Request: God, help me to be bold in this world- to speak out against injustice. When I notice that something is wrong, give me boldness in my mouth.

8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
Rejoice: Thank you for giving us a way to be holy before you. While our sacrifices are not the same as in the Old Testament, thank you that we can sacrifice in our lives.
Repent: Sometimes I do not surrender myself completely to you. Sometimes I do the things which I want to do. Forgive me.
Request: I pray that I might learn what sacrifice means in my life. Help me to be truly repentant of my sins.

9 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens,
Rejoice: Lord, you don’t need me or my offerings, but I praise you for allowing me to come before you!
Repent: Forgive me for holding on to property and not giving more to you.
Request: Lord, help me to give more of my life and possessions to you.

10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
Rejoice: I praise you for owning everything. Your kingdom and power are wonderful!
Repent: Forgive me when I hold on to possessions. Forgive me when I think that they are mine. Forgive me for sometimes having a covetous and greedy heart and mind.
Request: Provide for me from all that is yours. You know my needs, both financial and material. I pray that you would give abundantly to me, according to what I need.

11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.
Rejoice: I rejoice that your knowledge is vast! How great it is that you know all of the birds- how much more that means to me. I rejoice that you have a knowledge and ownership of the insects as well!
Repent: Father, I don’t always look at birds or insects as owned by you. I often am at awe of nature, but sometimes that awe does not then turn to you in praise.
Request: Lord, give me a better heart for nature, and allow me to see your wonders in all of your creation.

12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Rejoice: I rejoice that you own the entire world. I rejoice that you are a sufficient God that does not need me, but yet you still desire me. You are so good!
Repent: Lord, I also belong to you, and at times I live as if I belong to myself! Forgive me.
Request: God, Help me to live for your kingdom. May my acts not be selfish.

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Posted on: February 5th, 2014 by
Daily bread

Our daily bread is both physical and spiritual food

Many of us find ourselves in different points in the Christian walk. Perhaps we are looking into the claims of Christianity, but we have not made any decisions for ourselves. We might be spiritual “newborns,” that need simple spiritual milk. We might have been Christians for a few years, and we desire to learn more. And still others of us have been Christians as long as we can remember.

No matter where we may find ourselves, reading the Bible is key to growing and moving on into maturity. Even those exploring Christianity, who have not made a decision to follow Christ, still need to explore the Bible. For it is the Bible that is the Living Word, which shapes and changes us. In Jesus’ prayer, he said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). He was speaking not only of physical food, but also our spiritual food. So, I just wanted to help in providing a way to help people in reading the Bible. This is not “THE way,” and perhaps you already have a method, but if you don’t, I recommend that you try this one out a “A way.” This does involve writing, which I think is helpful in processing information. The method I have used for the past 7 years, at least, is called the S.O.A.P. method. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. I think it is helpful no matter where you are at in the spiritual journey, from seeker to newborn to spiritually mature.

The first step is “Scripture.” This means that you pick a chapter, passage, paragraph, or verse that you want to look at more closely. One of the best ways that you can pick a passage is by having a Bible reading plan. You can find many different options in a post here. The choice of what scripture you want to write on is up to you.

“Observation” is the second step. This is normally the largest of the four steps. It means simply to “observe” and interpret what is going on. In this step, you can write of summary of what you just read, which helps you know the poem/prophecy/story even better. You can also write down questions that you might have, which you want to ask somebody about later. You might write down some insight that you never had noticed before. You might write how this text is directly speaking to a particular situation in your life. It’s all up to you what you write, and how much you write!

“Application” is where you ask: “How will I change because of what I just read?” or “What does this mean to my life now?” or “What is God calling me to do based on this text?” This is normally a sentence or two, and it is the “so what” of your devotional.

“Prayer” can either be written or spoken. I normally write mine out. Here, I ask God to change my heart, based on the application I just made. I also pray at this point for friends and family, church members, and other specific requests.

Now, give it a try! Use a Bible reading plan, and go for it.

Here is an example below! I have made it pretty simple, but the length and complexity of your devotion depends on the time you have and your knowledge of scripture, which increases the more you read.

Scripture: Mark 6:45-52

Observation: Jesus fed 5000 people, which was an incredible miracle, and then he sent his disciples in the boat ahead of him. The natural question in anybody’s mind would be, how will he get across the sea? Would he walk? That would be rough! The crowd had departed, and the disciples were gone, so he went to pray. If Jesus spent time to pray this certainly convicts me that I need to pray even more! When it finished praying, it might have been past midnight, which means at least several hours of prayer- certainly convicting to me again! Then, instead of walking around the lake, he decided to walk on the water! This is a miracle claim of Jesus, which nobody else was capable of doing. When the disciples saw him, they were afraid- I probably would have been scared too- nobody walks on water! But he spoke immediately to them, which comforted them. When he got into the boat, the wind ceased. The disciples were astounded- of course they were! What man can walk on water, get into the boat that people have been painfully rowing all night, and then make the wind cease? This is clearly a miracle story of Jesus, which is meant to show that Jesus is more than just a man. But I have two questions. First, I wonder why Mark writes that Jesus meant to pass by them until he was seen. Why didn’t he mean to go to them? I also wonder about the last verse: why is Mark mentioning the “loaves” of bread, and hardened hearts? I am just not sure.

Application: I want to commit to spending more time in prayer with God. I also want to ask these questions to my youth pastor, to see if he will know.

Prayer: God, help me to spend more time with you in prayer. Help me also to understand why the loaves are important. If I have a hard heart in any way, I ask that you reveal that to me. Amen.

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Posted on: March 7th, 2013 by

OD Duffle BagSome things are so renowned as to be universally known by simply placing “The” in front of its name.

The Alps, The Colosseum, The Superbowl, The Olympics, and The Bag. Stick with me for a moment and I will explain that last item.

As we grow in our ministry many things change. Clothing styles come and go, and the latest electronic device won’t be on top of the shopping list for long. Popular words and phrases seem to change just about the same time I learn what they mean and figure out how to work them into a conversation. Keeping up with the latest trend can be a full time job.

Still, with all the changes, there are some lessons we learn that tend to stay constant and reliable.

One lesson I have learned to capitalize on is that teenagers will pack three sets of headphones and enough junk food to fill the trunk of your car but will inevitably forget their toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, or contact lens solution. This is a seemingly small issue to us, but almost anything can become an “epic fail” in the mind of a teenager and can overshadow your event in a matter of minutes.

I once witnessed a complete meltdown in what would have been a great message. During the worship session, one young man near the back of the room admitted that he dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. Nobody had a spare so his youth minister came to the rescue with a bottle of bleach he found in the dormitory cleaning supplies. By the time the worship session concluded and the speaker took the stage, the room was buzzing about TJ using a toothbrush that had been in the toilet. Our guest speaker was upstaged by a 16 year old boy with gleaming white teeth and the 16 year old girl who snuck a kiss on the way to worship!

That brings me to The Bag.

You can avoid a crisis and be the hero by spending a little time stocking up on inexpensive supplies.

I have a duffle bag, The Bag, which has saved the day on more than one occasion. It is well stocked with travel size items commonly forgotten in the packing process before camp or a lock-in.  It has grown from a simple bag of needed items to a veritable grab bag of goodies and getting to dig through it has become a special treat in our youth group. I must admit I take pleasure in saying, “I have that” when someone says, “I need” or “I wish I had”. There is a partial list of items below to give you some ideas if you too would like to become a keeper of The Bag.

Hair Spray, Mousse, Hair Brush, Scrunchies, Barrettes, Bobby Pins, etc., sewing kit, clothes line & clothes pins, Scissors, Tooth brushes & toothpaste, Mouthwash, Deodorant, Feminine Products, Fingernail Files & Clippers Fingernail repair kit, Nail Polish Remover, Glasses Repair Kit, Make-up Remover, Cuticle Cutters, the little foam things girls put between their toes when they paint their nails and the funny looking pliers they use to curl their eye lashes, disposable razors, Q-Tips, Cotton Balls, Eye Drops, Contact Lens Solution & Holders, Axe Body Spray, Small bottles of Perfume, Make-up Application Stuff, Baby Powder, Hand Sanitizer, Band Aids, and anything else that you can find in the travel size section of your store.

Before we finish talking about things distinguished by the definite article, The, let us not forget why we have answered the call to ministry. We are here to proclaim the message of The Cross where Jesus purchased our salvation. If that message is missed for the price of a toothbrush a soul may be lost.

How could you ever put a price tag on that?

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