Sunday, September 13, 2009

like living stones, are being built
into a spiritual house

For readers of the 'Prophet, Priest and Pirate' blog and for facebook friends; this is the first weekly installment of this Fall's high school Bible Study at St. John Lutheran Church in Charter Oak, Iowa. We meet every Sunday at 9 AM in room 101 of the church office annex. Anyone from 9th grade through college is welcome to attend. It's free and you're welcome to bring your own coffee or juice for breakfast. Church is at 10 and you're welcome for worship, but you're not obligated.

For St. John Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) members, I'll be posting what we cover each week on my blog That way if you miss a Sunday, you don't have to miss out on a heaping helping of God's Word.

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." -1 Peter 2:2
For the next 16 weeks (give or take) our Bible study theme here is going to be based on 1 Peter 2:5," like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house." I encourage you to read all of 1 Peter, Chapter 2 and consider how God wants to use you to build His body up, to make you part of His church. You are special because He created you for this very purpose.

In Matthew 16:13-20 Jesus and His disciples stopped at Caesarea Philippi (see a google map), (now a resort town) on the Southern tip of the Sea of Galilee . This was where Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. Many Roman Catholics believe this is when Peter was set up to be the first Pope, but we Lutherans don't think that Jesus meant Peter as the foundation for His church, but rather Peter's confession- the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is the foundation for all other Christian teachings. Although, Peter, the name Jesus gave to his disciple (previously known as Simon) or "Petra," does mean "the Rock."

Unfortunately, lots of people seem to think that after Confirmation, they aren't going to bother going to Sunday school anymore- some even don;' want to bother going to church anymore- and lots of times, parents figure that once you've been confirmed you're either old enough to make your own choices or too old to be held accountable anymore.

That's really too bad. I think that's a little like laying a slab of concrete down, but then changing your mind about building a house on it. The slab may be fine for a while, but eventually it will be exposed to the elements and deteriorate to the point where it will no longer be fit to build on anymore.

Bloom's Taxonomy; critical thinking skillsRead Hebrews 6:1-3, you can think of Sunday School and Confirmation as a great foundation of knowledge. If you remember and somewhat understand God's Word- that's great. But I'd like to help you learn how to apply it, analyze it, use it to evaluate other knowledge and philosophies, and especially to use it to base major decisions and life choices on and build a life with. Teachers call these critical-thinking skills, in the church, we call it "equipping the saints," you being the saints.

In other words, you're very lucky because it was important to your parents and our congregation that you start life out with God's Word in your head- but now, I want to challenge you, I DARE you, to let Him take what's in your head and put it in your heart. Lets move on from "the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity."

I'm challenging you to become active, committed members of God's household, to become the body of Christ like Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:19-22. If you remember your confirmation vows and took them seriously, you promised to do this anyway. Prove it, come to Bible study on Sundays. Be God's people, let Him build you into His temple. Ever since you started Sunday School, we have been teaching you that you are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), now it's time to let yourself be His workmanship, since that's what He created you for (Eph 2:10). Read all of Ephesians 2 to see how 8-10 and 19-22 fit together.

I promise that most weeks my HS Bible Study posts won't be this long- I'm just trying to lay a foundation here (notice a theme here yet?). Bear with me, we're almost done for the week. Over the Fall and Winter I hope to show you some things for building your own character, friendships, work and team relationships, and hopefully success in high school, college and life- but all of them won't be worth more than hollow "self-help" advice unless they're all grounded in Christ. Therefore, this first Bible study is one of the most important.

This week we studied Jesus parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7:24-29. One thing that most people miss when they learn this about building on the rock instead of on sand is that this isn't just a separate story, this is the culmination of Jesus' famous "Sermon on the Mount" found in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6.

Here's some questions from the "Serendipity Bible" to help you think through this parable:
  • What is the rock? (Remember Matthew 16:13-20, but keep in mind, it's not a person, unless you use the typical Sunday School answer- "Jesus")
  • What is the sand?
  • Why would someone build on the sand?
  • What does Jesus promise those who live by His words?
  • What kind of storms claim the most victims" Doubt, Moral failures, Relationship conflicts, personal crises, apathy?
  • What's the short term forecast for the weather in your life look like?
  • To be a "wise builder" at this point in your life, do you think you need to learn more, or just practice what you already know?
  • What does the foundation depend on?
  • How would you describe your Spiritual foundation so far?
Be sure to come next week when we'll talk about the good old fashioned Iowa work-ethic, and the Holy Spirit and how we'll need both of them to start building on God's foundation.
See you next week, come hungry!

Remember, YOU are the church!

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