Give Thanks 

This morning at Men’s group following verses and discussed things for which we are thankful.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (?Luke? ?17?:?17-19? NIV)

Things I’m thankful for:

  1. My wife and marriage
  2. My children and the chance to help them grow up, to be present in their lives
  3. Opportunities to rely fully on God and His provision

God Created the Universe

I love the way the author of Hebrews explained how we understand God is the creator and author of the universe:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3 NIV)

And also in Colossians we read:

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

Narrated Sketchnote of Genesis 1:28 sermon by Jen Howat

These are my sketchnotes of a sermon on March 8, 2014, by Jen Howat at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma. Jen preached on Genesis 1:28:

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (NLT)

I created these sketchnotes on my iPad using the free app “Forge” by Adonit and the black pencil stylus by PaperFiftyThree. I imported the final image into the iPad app “Explain Everything” to create this 3 minute narrated sketchnote version.

For more information about sketchnoting check out my eBook single on “Visual Notetaking” as well as my public resource page on visual notetaking / sketchnoting on ShowWithMedia.com.

Zechariah Did Not Believe (initially) #sketchnote

I am flying tonight from Oklahoma City to Raleigh, North Carolina, to share three presentations at their statewide educational technology conference. I started re-reading the Gospel of Luke tonight, and was reminded of our church’s presentation of the musical “One Incredible Moment” as I read the story of Zechariah. I don’t think I remember the story of Anna, which also is shared by Luke in the second chapter:

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (?Luke? ?2?:?36-38? NIV)

I am practicing my sketchnoting skills (feeble as they are) with a new iPad stylus (the Paper53 “pencil”) and the iPad app Paper53. I don’t like it as well as ProCreate, but since it is free (ProCreate is not) and I’m sharing a presentation on visual notetaking this week, I decided to practice a bit. I can’t get the “undo” function of the app to work, so some of the unintended smudges I made on this drawing persist. I do like the watercolor brush though, and will likely use it more in some Sketchnotes I’ll make at the conference this week.

I pray God will give me faith to believe in the truth and goodness of his promises, and not doubt them as Zechariah did when the angel Gabriel foretold the birth of his son, John.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (?Luke? ?1?:?18-20? NIV)

Considering an Endowment Fund for Our Church

To start our church session meeting this evening, our pastor shared a devotional focusing on these verses from Matthew 6:25-24. We are hearing a presentation from a subcommittee that has proposed the creation of an endowment fund for our church. When this was brought up for a vote a few weeks ago at our annual congregational meeting, some members expressed concerns that creating an endowment fund might not follow Biblical directives regarding the use and stewardship of the congregation’s funds.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This endowment is NOT intended to take the place of our operating budget or existing stewardship programs. As a result of congregational concerns, a presentation has been created to explain the rationale and proposed setup / operating procedures of this endowment fund.

Here are a few key points from the presentation:

Endowment Gift / Types:

  • Undesigated: Bequests received which are not designated for a particular purpose or restricted in any way
  • Missions, Evangelism, Outreach
  • Scholarships: First preference for active members, either high school graduates or those seeking advanced degrees
  • Christian Life Development: Youth program expansion, camp scholarships, leadership training, etc.
  • Music, Worship, Arts: Enhance the worship experience
  • Building: Provide capital improvements, repairs, equipment, etc.

I liked these comments from one of our elders at the meeting:

Our tax laws were not around during the time of the 1st century church.

Also:

Many of us are [financially] worth far more dead than we are alive.

There are stories being shared of members of our church who gave to endowments for other area churches in the past in their will/trust, rather than to our church, because this giving option was not available at our church. I know a little about the value of endowments because of the work my dad has done with our local community foundation in Manhattan, Kansas.

This is the current, proposed flowchart for how the church endowment would work.

A Fast to End Injustice and Oppression

From the verses in Isaiah I used last week for an Ash Wednesday sermon, starting the season of Lent:

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The GOD of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.'” (Isaiah 58:6-9 MSG)

These verses are on my heart as I think about the challenges schools so close to our home face, and my own prospects for teaching in the year to come.

Ash Wednesday Sermon: Isaiah 58:1-12

This evening I had an opportunity to share the Ash Wednesday sermon at our church in Edmond, Oklahoma. The sermon text I chose was Isaiah 58:1-12.

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Here is an audio recording of the sermon, which ran just under 20 minutes. I recorded this with iTalk Recorder on my iPhone, which displays elapsed time, so I used this to make sure I didn’t run over the suggested 15-20 minute time limit for the meditation. After transferring the file to my laptop tonight, I uploaded it to Auphonic to normalize and compress it into a 32 kbps mp3 file.

The most powerful part of the service for me was participating with our three pastors in the “imputing of ashes.” As church attendees came forward to receive communion, we first marked a cross on their forehead with ashes from a small bowl. I have been very moved as a participant in this service in past years, but it was even more moving to help lead it. Young and old, people I knew and did not know, I said “From ashes you came, and from ashes you shall return.” A sobering but important reminder of our own mortality, and our universal need for God and the saving grace of his son, Jesus Christ.

Praise to God and thanks to God for his blessings, love, and grace. Praise and thanks to God for the opportunity to be a part of our church community of faith.

penance by Sarah Korf, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Sarah Korf 

Our Bodies Are Temples for God’s Holy Spirit

Today’s sermon message focuses on how we should act and care for our own bodies, which are temples for God’s Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭19-20‬ NIV)

I used iMovie for iPad to create a narrated version of this sketchnote.

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