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