Learn Verses Better | One App that Helps

Logo_DarkTowards the beginning of our blog, we shared with you an app. That app at the time had the cost of $5, but now it is free! This app is a creative tool for learning Bible verses, it guides you through memory games and helps you attain your goals of memorizing and retaining scripture. If you are interested we invite you to watch the short video below and click here to go and download it onto your phone.

 

Thriving in Babylon

73cb82fb-3d7c-48ba-8a92-04273ee8c3f4One pastor’s book title perfectly captures our opportunity and goal

Larry Osborne is a pastor from Oceanside, California, that I’ve known since the late 1980s. He has led a solid church ministry in northern San Diego County, but it is his books that have really challenged me, especially the titles. They are such good titles, and they set you up for a great experience reading his books.

His book on getting people connected in and committed to a body of believers? Sticky Church.

His book on what happens when our “standards” become too important to our Christianity at the expense of grace? Accidental Pharisees.

But his latest may be his best title yet (can’t say about the book because I just got it). It is using the life of Daniel to learn about how those who love God can live, serve, and prosper even in a culture that stands for all the wrong things. It calls for “hope, humility, and wisdom.” The title is Thriving in Babylon.

The book is certainly timely, because of its subject matter. But that title just grabs hold of me, almost making me shout “That’s it! That’s what we need to do!” I don’t know that there ever was truly a “Christian America”–in fact, I’m pretty sure there never was. But there was a time when America and Americans took most of their cues on the nature of life, right and wrong, the value of human life, the definitions of human relationships, and more, from biblical understandings. After all, all men being “created equal” doesn’t stem from evolutionary thought, atheism, or rationalism. I know we are not the “morality police,” but Christian faith has been the “morality source” for the underpinnings of the nation. It was that niggling “all men are created equal” that was the impetus for the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women, and a few other good things.

Those days are gone. Forever. Don’t assume the next election will change it all back. It won’t. We are, as another book title from decades ago put it, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. Christians have always been “strangers and aliens” in this world, but in America, an illusion developed that because our values had shaped the nation’s founding in so many ways, we would always have a better culture and an easier way in the world. No more.

Unlike Daniel and his friends, we have not been carried off into captivity. Instead, we have had the true nature of being exiles made clear as the glossy curtains of America’s civic Christianity have been ripped down. It’s taken long enough that the coming generation has no real memory of it being different, but historically, the pace of the change has been breathtaking.

So America isn’t the promised land. It is Babylon. A powerful nation with dangerous rivals who would eventually overthrow it, Babylon was not a friendly place for Jewish faith to thrive, and to do so as a captive carried off to serve in the palace would be even harder. But Daniel and his friends decided that a hostile environment didn’t change the truth from God or the power of God to accomplish the will of God. When they could seek accommodation (in their diet for example), they did. When they could serve (interpreting a dream or serving in administration), they did. And when they couldn’t compromise and needed to trust God (as in not worshiping an image on pain of death), they did. And they didn’t just survive–they thrived. They made a difference and an impact. And they did so with no guarantees that it would all turn out for them. Even though it did, as Osborne says, they were “exceptions, not examples.”

America is a powerful nation with dangerous enemies, and it is not necessarily a place that fosters faith or faithful obedience to God. It seems to have become (or is certainly on its way to becoming) another Babylon–not in the biblical prophecy in Revelation sense, but in its increasing opposition to God and His Word. Yet, many of God’s people in Babylon managed to do so much more than just survive. It wasn’t just Daniel and his friends. Whole communities of captives in Babylon kept the faith alive. Synagogues were born in Babylon, and biblical scholarship among Jews actually flourished–one of the great copies of their laws was called “the Babylonian Talmud” because it developed there. Many were able to thrive, because they didn’t forget God, and they knew he had not forgotten them.

That’s what we Christians need to do. We need to decide to thrive. It doesn’t matter what the culture may adopt next, or whether we won’t be popular or respected or tax exempt! We know our God, and he hasn’t forgotten us or lost control of his plan. And because we are still here and the end hasn’t come, there is still the opportunity to bear witness to truth and know that our witness and fruitfulness can thrive. So, let’s do this. Let’s not back off what we believe, but let’s stop being surprised that others don’t believe it. Let’s expect iniquity to abound–these are, after all, the last days. But let’s remember that when sin abounds, grace still abounds much more. Let’s believe that God may be making the lines between truth and lies clearer, and pushing those who claim to know him to show where they stand. Let’s believe that some pressure (and maybe some persecution) is going to be the catalyst for cleansing and empowering God’s people. And let’s thrive, like the faithful Jews in Babylon, or like the church just after Stephen was killed, or like believers in China for the past sixty years.

(Oh, and maybe you’ll want to read the book, too. You can order it here. I haven’t finished so I can’t offer a full endorsement yet, but I like what I’ve seen so far.)

Global Outreach Updates

tonightWe have something new for you! After much consideration and evaluation, we want to share our global outreach partner updates with you. These people are important to us, and we know many are important to you. The updates we will be posting will be their stories, experiences and photos, so we invite you to read them, share them and comment with your encouragement to them! God has blessed Grace with being able to partner with a vast and diverse group of people and we can’t wait to share their passionate outreach endeavors with you.

Don’t Waste Your Summer

Tsea-nature-sky-sunsetime for some educational, apologetic, (and perhaps remedial) reading for such a time as this.

Summer is always a time that people think about reading (perhaps taking a book on vacation), or may have a little more time to do so. Of course, you can now “read” through audiobooks, so that counts, too.

I am a great advocate of reading, and I do so widely–theology and contemporary issues, history, biography, and fiction (classic and new) all interest me. But I also find that at times when there are very pressing issues or concerns for Christians, good reading can be an essential bulwark in building up both my faith and my knowledge so that I might give good answers to anyone who would seek them from me.

There are a number of such issues today, but none seems to have captured our attention like same-sex marriage (SSM) and same-sex attraction (SSA) and how we might respond to it. Let me suggest that the need to find ways to engage those who support SSM and believe that acting on SSA within “loving, committed relationships” is a biblical option is a great one; those who simply say, “well, there are good arguments and scholars on both sides” need to actually engage their brains instead of assuming we can’t really know. In order to get yourself equipped for this ongoing conversation, let me suggest some reading that will help (clicking on the title will take you to an Amazon.com link where you can buy it):

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. This is a short book, but a powerful one, and if you are only willing to read one book, choose this one. It covers the biblical texts, deals with the most common arguments against them, and then wrestles with the questions raised by many Christians. It is excellent.

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry. Sam is a Baptist pastor from England who deals with SSA in his own life, and has written another short book on this subject, and his own life and testimony certainly provide the perspective of one intimately involved and concerned on this issue. I’ve heard Sam speak, and I have great appreciation for his work.

God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, by James Hamilton, Denny Burk, and Owen Strachan. Vines, a former Harvard student and former “evangelical” wrote a book that became very popular repeating many of the claims that have been used before him to justify homosexual practice within “committed relationships” and it caused quite a stir. This book goes through those arguments and responds. Since Vine’s material wasn’t really “new,” neither were the responses, but they were needed and they were good.

Out of a Far Country, by Christopher Yuan, is one of the best personal stories of both conversion and commitment to faithfulness to Christ. Yuan’s visits to Cedarville University may have made his name familiar to you, but his book should be read if you haven’t already.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Butterfield. This is the story of a former atheist, lesbian, feminist studies professor who came to a very unexpected encounter with Jesus Christ. Her story is incredibly powerful and informative.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, by Wesley Hill. This testimony of a young man battling against SSA and trying to discover God’s will is a powerful one. His commitment to celibacy and the development of spiritual friendship within the Church is commendable.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, by Robert A. J. Gagnon. OK, for those who still want to argue about the texts, this book is the single most exhaustive study available, and has been strongly endorsed as accurate even by many who oppose Gagnon’s conclusions that the Bible is opposed to all homosexual activity. It is big, it is detailed, and as someone once said in another context, “if this doesn’t convince you, you may not be open to being convinced at all.” This is not light reading, so don’t take it to the beach.

There are other books I can also recommend, but these should get you started. Not every statement in every book is endorsed by me, but these authors hold high views of Scripture and demonstrate good understandings that make them all easy to endorse for your consideration.

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Crisis@Home Book Suggestions

Early on in the Crisis@Home series our pastoral staff made many book suggestions available to you. Those books were laid out in the lobby and a sheet was included, today we want to share them with you online! How cool, right? On top of that, it’s Amazon Prime day, so maybe a few will even be on sale. As you read through the titles consider going to the local library and looking for them there.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
Teaching Kids about God: An age by age plan for parents of children brom birth to age twelve. (Heritage Builders)
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments
Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter
5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son
Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Parenting is Heart Work
Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter from Her Tweens to Her Teens (Secret Keeper Girl Series)
Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy: Guiding Your Son from His Tweens to His Teens
Preparing for Adolescence: How to Survive the Coming Years of Change
Preparing for Adolescence Family Guide and Workbook: How to Survive the Coming Years of Change
The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People
Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God
Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God
Read and Share Bible: Over 200 Best Loved Bible Stories (Read and Share (Tommy Nelson))
The Big Picture Story Bible (Redesign)
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus
Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God
Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know
Extreme Grandparenting

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3 Things To Know Today


mk_tansition_header_2015cedarville_thumbMK Transition Seminar is coming up soon! Donna Messenger with Barnabas International is in the planning process of this re-entry transition for missionary kids, which will take place at Cedarville University, July 12-24. Help is still needed with making beds, doing laundry, preparing snacks, and doing airport runs.You can sign up to help and pick up a prayer card in the lobby. Contact us here with questions
WINE & BEERIf you are blessed with more produce in your garden than you need,why not consider sharing with our church family? You may drop off your fruits and vegetables on the table in the Welcome Center beginning today. Everyone is invited to take as needed.

What is KinderKamp?

DSCI2105It’s that time of year again–the sun is out and the pools are open. However, fall is inevitable. The leaves will change color, the weather will stay inconsistent, and school will begin. For some parents their kids will be entering kindergarten. To confront this challenging transition from preschool to kindergarten, Grace Baptist offers a program, KinderKamp, to make that transition more fluid.

KinderKamp allows the soon-to-be kindergartener to experience a taste of the classroom setting. In addition to that experience, the DSCI2108child receives one-on-one attention from a volunteer to improve the areas in which the he or she lacks.  Gross motor skills, fine motor skills, reading, writing, word recognition, and so much more is addressed in the   two weeks of KinderKamp.

For the last four years, I have participated in KinderKamp as a volunteer. It has been a blessing to be part of such a successful ministry. I use the term “successful” because of how much the kids benefit from the program. The growth that occurs from the beginning to the end always amazes me. It never ceases to fascinate me when the information CLICKS for the DSC01481child. You can actually see it in their faces. In some cases, it isn’t about learning the material; rather, it’s about learning self-control and the social aspect of a classroom. The kids practice listening to instruction, working in a group, and how to treat one another.

KinderKamp is designed to benefit kids who are entering, repeating, or finishing Kindergarten in 2015. The child must be age 5 by August 1, 2015 to be able to participate in KinderKamp.  There is no charge for the program. KinderKamp will begin August 3 and continue till August DSC0152314.  The application deadline is Friday, July 17. Please register early as space in this program is limited. For more information, contact Barb Hunt at huntb@gracecedarville.org.

 

Written By: Tara Reilly

Kindergarten instructor, Grace Baptist Church

Senior nursing major, Wright State University

 

Celebrate Mother’s Day Locally

mothers-dayMother’s Day is this weekend, so we decided to suggest a few local places where you can spend more time with your mom. The area we are in is abounding in great ideas, here are a few.

Hikes

Food

There are many other ideas and options, however we can’t give you everything. Two things we want to leave you with, Groupon has lots of local deals, go find them.

Lastly, This week our schedule changes here at Grace. We move to one service at 10:45am and our Adult Bible Fellowships and Student ministries move to 9:00am. Preschool neighborhood will be available both hours. Have a great weekend Grace!

 

Philippians Series Round-Up

Today we want to help you connect further with the Philippians series. We were so blessed to hear great teaching, here are links and connections to some of the best tweets, the sermons and the notes. Please share with others!

Notes

Together with the notes we also recorded audio of our services, we welcome you to listen online to all 13 of the sermons of the Philippians series. Also to share with others, friends, family and more! Click the picture below to listen online right now.

Notes (2)

Along with the notes and the audio we also had many of the services live tweeted. That means we got to take away many quotes and moments from the messages as well. Here are some of the highlights from those tweets.

Notes (1)

3 Apps You Should Know About

Today we want to connect you with three different apps that you might be interested to know more about. These three apps all come alongside your relationship with God. They aren’t a replacement, but they are tools to aid in the learning and living of your faith. There are three apps we want to share with you, the Echo Prayer App, the Verses App and the YouVersion Bible App.

Echo-iPhone-image-with-logoEcho Prayer App

This app is a fully functional tool to aid your prayer life. It helps track the prayer request you’ve been praying about, reminds you to pray and let’s you organize your thoughts as you pray. In no way does this replace your personal prayer life, it merely comes alongside and helps. Here is a blurb from the Echo Team…

“We believe that prayer is a powerful and effective way for us to connect with God. If you’re anything like us, the biggest obstacles that keep you from praying are difficulty organizing or keeping a list of your prayers, then actually remembering to pray for those things when life gets busy. Echo was created to solve these problems, and to give you space to engage with your Creator.”

This app could be a great help if you’re interested check it out and download it. No pressure involved, these are just suggestions that you might be want to check out.

Cost: Free

Apple Download: Click Here

Android Download: Click Here

Video Introduction: Click Here

YouVersion Bible App

The YouVersion App is a fantastic app that you can read your Bible on. “Choose from popular versions like the NIV, NASB,
ESV, NKJV, NLT, KJV, The Message, and more.” This app is full of features that enable you to read better and more often, it has reading plans and even reads the Bible to you! Check out what YouVersion says about their app…

youversionphotoweb_final_v1_20130904“People are reading, listening to, watching, and sharing the Bible using the #1 rated Bible App—completely free. Hundreds of Bible versions, hundreds of reading plans, and hundreds of languages. Add your own highlights, bookmarks, and public or private notes.
Customize your reading experience. Access everything when you’re connected, or download specific versions for offline use.”

The physical version of the Bible offers many the look and feeling they want. However, the YouVersion app is a simple and sophisticated method of reading on your digital device. It has many features and can be easily downloaded for use wherever you go.

Cost: Free

Apple Download: Click Here

Android Download: Click Here

Video Introduction: Click Here

Verses App

This app is an incredibly simple and effective tool to better memorize scripture. It allows you to choose passages and verses from 3 different versions of the Bible. The KJV, NLT and ESV. There are multiple memorization games for each set of verses you choose to work on. They use stages to help you develop you memorization of each verse these stages consist of absorbing, memorizing and recalling. Here’s a blurb from the founders

Verses_9“Verses helps you easily start memorizing Scripture through a series of simple yet engaging memorization games and keeps you memorizing with a one-of-a-kind progress and memory health tracking interface. The tracker shows you how well you know each verse, chapter or book.”

They have continued to add features and will continue. Be on the lookout for more translations and improvements as the app continues to develop.

Cost: $4.99 (To cover translation costs)

Apple Download: Click Here

Android: Coming Soon

Video Introduction: Click Here

Thanks for reading, we encourage you to try these apps out for yourself. They are not replacements, merely tools to help along the way. Share this with others you think might benefit!