All posts by laura

VBS Week 2020 Day 2

www.laurareimer.net

In case you are joining us, here is what is going on this week:

As a tribute to my love of Vacation Bible School, both as a child and as an adult, I started this end of summer series a few years back. At least one of you all loves it as much as I do (you know who you are) and she carries enough enthusiasm for ten people, so I am always encouraged to continue. 

If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending VBS as a child, or volunteering as an adult, I am so sorry. There is something about having a place to go from 9-11 for five days and following a set schedule where you move from the opening gathering to various stations that include themed crafts, snacks, lessons and games that feels so good after a summer full of non-structure. 

Here on the Journey, we have the lesson and sometimes an activity offered, but the snacks are on you as are the arts and crafts, songs and skits. I can only do so much. Also you don’t have to clean up goldfish crackers and try to track down the last few kids who didn’t pick up their felt rendition of an ark…so that’s a positive as well. 

So without further ado, here is the 2020 version of AVBSWTG&G (Adult Vacation Bible School Without the Glue and Glitter)

This week our theme will center on how God is not surprised by 2020 and how we can find help to cope in His Word. 

Day 2: 

One of the things I didn’t understand when I was attending VBS as a child, nor did I fully understand when I was a young mother volunteer, is that the early Christians were not the majority. Somehow in the skits and flannel boards of my youth, nor on the coloring pages or pretty pictures in the handouts, did we cover persecution and animosity towards believers in the Roman world. 

It wasn’t until I began taking meatier Bible studies and digging into the notes and commentaries that I learned these encouragements on how to live as Christ were being delivered to people who lived counter culture. They experienced opposition from Jews, Romans and even heretics and false teachers within the Church. As a child and young mom, I just assumed that being a Christian made life easy and better and all the world would applaud. 

Yeah, no…not at all the case. 

So when we, especially in the United States, get our hackles up because we are facing backlash for being believers, great weight and value is added to the words of Paul in his letters to the churches. And when we look at the way Jesus handled not being popular or admired, we can see how relevant the Scriptures are to our modern, enlightened existence in 2020. 

Today’s passage is 2 Thessalonians 3. It is a short chapter but so chock full of good advice for how to live and thrive in adverse times. Please read it and then come back to some thoughts. But don’t just take my thoughts and stop there. I hope and pray you will take some time to marinate in these passages and let God speak HIS specific word to you from the Word today. Take that word and carry it and prayerful act on it as you move through Tuesday <3

For our consideration together, I want to focus on the opening passages: 

In addition, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.

2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 CSB

I am led to also share this same passage from The Message this morning, so bear with me and read again in Eugene Peterson’s translation of the words:

One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did among you. And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I’m finding that not all “believers” are believers. But the Master never lets us down. He’ll stick by you and protect you from evil. Because of the Master, we have great confidence in you. We know you’re doing everything we told  you to and will continue doing it. May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance. 

2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 The MSG
www.laurareimer.net

So many thoughts flood my mind as I seek to share the way God is showing us how to live. I will do a list of them for you to ponder and meditate on, but again I urge you to think through these passages yourself and ask God what He is showing YOU about living and thriving in His purpose for YOU in 2020.

My thoughts:

<3 As we are praying for so many things to return to normal (cue the sad faces of all the Big 10 fans who found out the season has been canceled…) Paul gives us a powerful prayer to be praying.

I love Peterson’s phrasing of this and we can turn that into such a simple prayer…

Lord, let your Word simply take off and race through this country with a groundswell of response! 

2 Thessalonians 3: 1-2

Why reinvent the wheel when you can pray God’s mind and heart so directly from Scripture?

<3 It is okay to acknowledge and recognize that not everyone who says he/she is a Christian or a believer really is a believer. I also see here that Paul is not taking these charlatans on but is turning them over to God. 

His confidence is not in himself to set them straight or expose them, but instead he is putting his trust in God alone to protect him and his flock FROM them.

Paul is acknowledging that the evil behind any false prophets is spiritual and he wages war in the spiritual realm. Through faith in God’s sovereignty and prayer – not relying on his own powers of persuasion and conversation. (This is backed up in other passages written by Paul regarding spiritual warfare.)

<3 Paul finally expresses confidence in authentic and genuine and growing believers but again, his confidence in THEM is because of his confidence in Christ and who He is. Paul additionally shows us that we need to be praying for others who are devoted to following Christ. 

He prays for these Christ followers to be filled with and characterized by God’s LOVE and to have the endurance of Christ. This endurance was what carried Him to and through the suffering of the crucifixion on our behalf. 

I believe if we, as true believers, would put our energies into the prayers Paul has given here, we would see a powerful movement of God in the concerns and circumstances of our day. It is not cheating to simply pray these passages. You can use them as given, or you can pray them in  your own words. 

Our activity today is to read through Chapter 3 and then write out a short prayer based on one of the passages. Even if it is just a word for word copy. The act of writing it down helps solidify it in your heart and mind. 

Three prayer prompts are offered:

  • Pray for the word to spread like a wild fire through the land
  • Pray for God’s protection from those who oppose His work and word going out from us
  • Pray for believers to be filled with God’s love and Christ’s endurance

I would love to see your worksheets, little campers. 

May our God bless you as you apply the work and word and get it into your life in practical ways. 

See you tomorrow <3

Share and Save:

VBS Week 2020 Day 1

www.laurareimer.net

As a tribute to my love of Vacation Bible School, both as a child and adult, I started this end of summer series a few years back. At least one of you all loves it as much as I do (you know who you are) and she carries enough enthusiasm for ten people, so I am always encouraged to continue. 

If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending VBS as a child or volunteering as an adult, I am so sorry. There is something about having a place to go from 9-11 for five days after so much non-structured time of summer. It is rather refreshing to follow a set schedule where you move from the opening gathering to various stations, including themed crafts, snacks, lessons and games. 

Here on the Journey, we have the lesson and sometimes an activity offered, but the snacks are on you as are the arts and crafts, songs and skits. I can only do so much. Also you don’t have to clean up goldfish crackers and try to track down the last few kids who didn’t pick up their felt rendition of an ark…so that’s a positive as well. 

So without further ado, here is the 2020 version of AVBSWTG&G (Adult Vacation Bible School Without the Glue and Glitter)

This week our theme will center on how God is not surprised by 2020 and how we can find help to cope in His Word. 

As I am continuing working through a summer study of Nehemiah, I was delighted to find this truth about God’s Word penned by Kelly Minter:

“After the people had settled in their homes, they wasted no time in getting God’s Word back into their hearing, perhaps because of the years they had gone without it. The Lord had given His Word to them, and it was far from obsolete or impractical in their daily lives. …. They didn’t have the sacred/secular divide to which we are accustomed today; they recognized that ordinary life was to be inspired and directed by the rule and reign of God.”

Nehemiah a heart that can break; The Living Room Series, Lifeway Press, 2012. Reprinted 2020. p. 103

That is what I hope to do with our VBS – highlight what God has already said about living in times of trial and testing so that we can have the Spirit stir in us to act on His Word. My prayer is that we would grow in the application of truth to our daily living in the year of 2020 A.D. 

One of the things that has transpired during the course of this year is the shocking war of words waged. As the initial news of Covid hit us like a freight train, we seemed to be “all in this together.” But after months of sheltering in place and the stress of isolation added to the fears about the impact all of the shut downs would have on the economy; we began to start the blame game. 

Different factions started shouting and others started shouting back and the world has become a noisy place. Mud is slinging far and wide and conspiracy theories abound. Even as misinformation and false reports started being spread, we entered into the volatile issues of addressing inequality and racism. All of this has stirred up many questions and conflicts and even more shouting. And in the midst of it, as Christ-followers, we can easily get caught up in the fray. 

I am not saying we should not speak up about things, but I am saying that we need to first be grounded in what God has to say before we say what is on our own minds. So I selected this passage to meditate on and attempt to apply to this temptation to be like the world. 

Please read all of Ephesians 4: 17-32.

In my CSB the heading for this portion of Scripture is “Living the New Life”.

After you read it (oh I hope you read it), ponder these passages and thoughts:

“Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord; You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.”

Ephesians 4: 17-18 CSB

When we see a “therefore”, we need to backtrack. When you do that, you will read the opening of Chapter 4 in Ephesians is outlining all that Christ did for us. It also details how we are like a Body, many parts knit together – each unique and needed and while different, we function as one. We depend on each other and we are all under the authority of the Head, which is Christ. 

So in light of THAT information, we then need to look around us and see if our actions are looking more like those who are darkened in their understanding out of an ignorance, or not knowing, God and His ways. We cannot expect unbelievers to KNOW how to live and respond to circumstances with God’s wisdom and discernment. We cannot expect the world to live according to the teachings of Christ. 

We have the responsibility to do that so that we look different from the world. If we truly believe that the Way of Christ is a better way, then we need to be living it out so that others can see. They will not see a difference if we do not live differently. 

“Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. (vv. 25-26) No foul language should ever come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”

Ephesians 4: 29-32

Another “therefore” means we backtrack one more time so that we have all the reasons Paul had to make this next statement. Okay…I told you to read the passage once, but by now we should have gone over it several times. This is a good thing. 

Because we don’t want to look like the world, we need to make sure we are speaking the truth. We need to make sure that articles we share or quotes we are attributing to someone are true. We need to watch our mouths and our hearts. We can be angry. Anger is not sin. It is what we do with our anger that Paul is addressing. 

Let’s be honest. Watching the news, scrolling social media, encountering various opinions even at the grocery store are going to provoke us. No matter how long we have walked with Jesus and no matter how much we love Him, we are being poked and prodded to respond in anger and bitterness. This is not easy, people of God. This is going to take work. But it is work that is important. 

If ever the Gospel needs to be shared by the example of a changed life, 2020 is the moment. We who are Christ-followers are feeling all the same stressors on the daily. But we carry with us the Hope of Christ and the way we can best shine HIs light is to live differently than the world now more than ever. 

So here is your activity today. 

Make a list of things that are making your blood pressure boil. Look at the list and pray over each item, giving it to God and proclaiming His sovereignty over it. Then mark through each one until it disappears…get rid of your anger…get rid of your bitterness…get rid of your malice…get rid of your caustic comments to those you are opposed to right now. 

Picture the beautiful Holy Spirit standing with you, the Spirit of Christ who gave Himself for our forgiveness and choose to forgive those who are causing you to be upset and worried. Picture what it would look like if you were grieving Him with your attitude, words and actions and then choose to honor Him and bring Him joy. 

Actually, that could be our arts and crafts project. 

Okay – go have a snack. You earned it. 

Have a great Monday and please show up tomorrow campers <3

Share and Save:

In times like these <3

www.laurareimer.net

This has been a rather full week for me and yet I am thankful to have had time to continue my annual Bible read through. I am finishing up the book of Jeremiah and at the same time mid-way through a summer study of Nehemiah. It is so interesting to be reading about Nehemiah and the Jews rebuilding the walls and returning from exile at the same time I am reading about Jeremiah prophesying God’s word to King Zedekiah and the people. Interesting and extremely sad. 

Time and again, Jeremiah tells the King to surrender and all will be well. He warns him to submit to God’s sending of the Chaldean’s as a measure of discipline for the waywardness of His people. But when the Babylonian army breaks through, the King and his closest people flee. The army captures them, kills his family in front of him, gouges out his eyes and then burns the city of Jerusalem to the ground.

Now I understand that surrendering to the invading powers would not have been a walk in the park. But God gave specific and clear instructions numerous times to submit to the discipline and things would end better. Obedience to God would mean a different outcome to Zedekiah personally and to his subjects. However; choices made brought consequences to an entire nation and devastating results to Zedekiah’s story. 

I can’t help but think about the situations we are facing right now. It would seem that God has pulled back His hand of prosperity and protection from our nation. Will we seek His direction in how to live obediently through a time of great trial and testing as a nation? Or will we, like Zedekiah, refuse. I am not speaking to the powers that be in the world system here. I am speaking to those who call themselves God’s people through the redemption of Jesus Christ. 

He has great advice for how to live in these times. Will we heed it, or flee because we think we know better?

Next week on the blog, I will be doing the annual VBS and we will look at some of the things God has spoken to guide us through times like this.

Blessings. 

Remember He knows the end from the beginning.

He’s got this. Hang close to Him <3

Share and Save: