july 2009 // U.S.A. $2.95
July ec magazine contents 09 volume 15 • number 4 / ecmagazine.blogspot.com
6 famous trios throughout history
by ec staff Check out all the famous trios we dug up just for you!
8 What’s the deal
by Mandy Crow Confused about ec’s devotions? Here’s your guide!
16 finding God in
by jerry Faught Faith is part of the history and traditions of America. Investigate its impact in this story.
30 community Q&A “The work of Jesus was not a new set of ideals or principles for reforming or even revolutionizing society, but the establishment of a new community, a people that embodied forgiveness, sharing and self-sacrificing love in its rituals and discipline. In that sense, the visible church is not to be the bearer of Christ’s message, but to be the message.”
by Jennifer Denning Meet Nick, a teen in North Carolina who’s striving to live according to God’s idea of community.
4 0 Indescribable
by michael cummings Confused about the concept of God’s three parts? So were we until we read this.
4 5 Summer Movie Madness
by ec Staff Want to wow your friends with your movie knowledge? Here’s how.
4 6 Summer fun
by Hannah Wakefield From roller coasters to beaches, we’re here to help you beat summer boredom.
5 6 Modesty for girls AND guys
by jen mCcaman/will Snipes This his-and-hers article will show you that modesty is about more than dressing like a grandma or trying to keep your thoughts pure.
6 0 Second chances
by Amber mushegan God forgives freely. Do you? Read this article to find out why forgiveness is so important.
26 Living in Community by Jennifer Denning We were created to live in community because it’s a reflection of the character of God. Do you?
This month's student contributors: A big thank you to Austin Simmons, Kendra Stahl, Laura Cole, Morgan Mikulencak, Aimee Osborn, Hannah Kirchner, Will Johnston, Lerinda Baham, Lotti Bublitz, D.D. Smith, Chelsea Csuvilla, Jonathan Cants, Chris Vasquez, Elias Hernandez, Abby Jones, Mallory Crayne, Lacie Lane, Rebekah Kissinger, Abbie Garner, Maria Morslender, Zephaniah Pilcher, Kaitlyn Turvaville, Kelsey Powell, Kaylen O’Neal, Paige Stout, Shiane Roten, Cordeija Carter, Danielle Fink, Lady Tatum, Justin Vogtsberger, Kayla Drew, Kristi Phillips, and Chris Dupree. Thanks for making us your FUGE track time! cover photo: Scott Greenwalt / makeup: Mary Elizabeth Long ec magazine jul 2009 | 3
volume 15 • number 4 / ecmagazine.blogspot.com
2 5 F un: M i sc e llaneous
Read this for everything random and July-related you ever wanted to know!
31 C ounselor
Devotions: Week of July 19 by Amy Keys You are not alone, no matter how often you feel that way.
3 7 In Your own words
“Forever Friend,” a student poem by Sheryl Pang
Snippets & Soundbites
Goofy information to brighten your day: doughnuts, the world’s longest ear hair, and wedgies used to fight crime!
4 3 Campus Connection
by Maria Nuguid Use ec’s weekly devotion themes to lead a Bible study on the Trinity with these helpful tips.
1 Contents 3 writer's block 4 Statements
You said it; we printed it.
4 Q uestion of the Month
5 The connection
by Chansin bird Intentional community is never boring. Get Josh’s perspective on it.
Devotions: Week of July 5 by Kaylan Christopher God wants you to know Him as a loving Father.
Take a break, then learn about improving your soccer skills.
1 9 His Father’s Son
Devotions: Week of July 12 by David Burnette He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Trust Him. 4 | jul 2009 ec magazine
48 f inding community in CHile by chansin bird God is all about community among His believers all over the world!
4 9 Mystery
Devotions: Week of July 26 by Randy Fields Learn more about how God loves you in three Persons.
5 5 Mk Corner
By Ashley Brents Ashley loves the Japanese in Jesus’ name.
62 M andisa on Modesty
by Tifany Borgelt Get Mandisa’s take on modesty in the spotlight.
6 3 music connection
by Kevin Sparkman Read reviews of a few recent album releases you need to hear.
6 4 The Parting Shot
Don’t forget the final five!
Writer's Block essential connection Production & Ministry Team editorial Project Leader Mike Wakefield content Editor Mandy Crow production Editor Emily Cole graphic designer Jen Showalter Student Ministry Specialist Sherry Spillman National Student Ministry Leader Paul Turner
Send questions or comments to: Mandy Crow, Editor One LifeWay Plaza Nashville, TN 37234 0174 or email@example.com Management Personnel
Senior Director, Student Ministry Publishing Jimmy Hester Director, Student Ministry Scott Stevens Director, Publishing, LifeWay Church Resources Gary H. Hauk
Advertising One Lifeway Plaza Msn 136 • Nashville, Tn 37234 phone (615) 251-2289 / fax (615) 251-2039 firstname.lastname@example.org media kits lifeway.com/magazines/media director, magazine advertising & circulation Rhonda Edge Buescher advertising production Scott Hancock Printed in the United States of America
essential connection, JULY 2009, (ISSN 10782788; Item 005075081) is published monthly by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, Thom S. Rainer, President. © 2009 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For inquiries, visit www.lifeway.com, or write LifeWay Church Resources Customer Service at the above address. For subscriptions or subscription address changes, visit www.lifeway.com/ magazines, fax (615) 251-5818, or write to the above address. For bulk orders shipped to one address, visit www.lifeway.com/magazines, fax (615) 251-5933, or write to the above address. Annual individual or gift subscription, $24.95. Bulk orders shipped to one address when ordered with other literature, $1.50 each per month, plus shipping. Please allow six to eight weeks for arrival of first issue. To investigate the possibility of advertising in essential connection, visit www.lifeway.com/ magazines. Advertisement Disclaimer: This magazine includes paid advertisements for some products and services not affiliated with LifeWay. The inclusion of the paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement by LifeWay Christian Resources of the products or services. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.
Community. I grew up in a small town
in a simple house with one brother. I didn’t have to share a room with anyone. My brother and I shared a bathroom, but it was big and had two sinks. If someone in the family was being overly annoying, you could find solace and privacy in your room, in the basement, or somewhere else where no one would bother you. That was my idea of perfect community. No one was really messing up my stuff; I didn’t have to share, at least not all that much; and my brother mostly kept his mess contained in his room. Then, I went to college. Suddenly, I was sharing the world’s tiniest room with a girl I’d never met who was even more shy than me. She was neat and a good roommate, but living with her was an experience. I didn’t always get to watch what I wanted on TV. I couldn’t invite my friends over whenever I wanted. I sometimes had to be a friend when all I wanted to do was curl up on my bed and think about my problems. I had to share a bathroom with girls who weren’t so great at cleaning up after themselves, and the guys down the hall often woke me up in the wee hours of the morning playing some crazy hallway game they’d dreamed up. It was crazy; it was chaotic; it was community. And you’ve probably noticed that community is the big theme of this month’s issue of ec magazine. That’s because God Himself is community. He is God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And if community is such an integral part of who He is, shouldn’t it be a vital part of the way we live? The New Testament is very clear: Jesus called us to be a community of believers who live life completely differently from everyone else. Christ followers are to be known for their crazy love, their radical forgiveness, and their desire to live lives that don’t blot out His light. Jesus has called us to live as a community of believers, broken and needy as we are, to display His love and His glory to the world. You’ll learn more of what that means in Jennifer Denning’s story, “Living in Community” on page 26 and the profiles on pages 30 and 48. Confused about the Trinity? Read Michael Cummings’ story on page 40. Wondering why forgiveness is such a big deal? Check out Amber Mushegan’s article, “Second Chances,” on page 60. Dig deep into the truths of God’s Word this month, learning to relate to Him as Father, Son, and Spirit. Let go and understand that not understanding everything is OK. God is big enough, good enough, and awesome enough to handle anything we can throw at Him. Let go this month. Let Him show you what it means to live in community with Him, with other believers, and with the world.
Do you really KNOW God? Take a look at the plan of salvation Own up to your sin. Take personal Know God. To be sure you are going to responsibility for your sin and confess it to heaven, it is essential that you know God God. He will hear your prayer and forgive in a personal relationship. Without this you of your sin. Forgiveness is a free gift relationship, you are completely separated —all you have to do is ask (Rom. 6:23; Eph. from Him (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). 2:8-9; 1 John 1:9-10). Name jesus as your lord and Walk a different direction. The Bible savior. You must believe that Jesus is who calls this turning away from your sinful He said He is—God’s Son. As the perfect, sinless Son of God, only Jesus can forgive your choices repentance. To repent really just sin (Rom. 10:9-10). means to go in a different direction. As a Christian, you will want to live differently (Luke 13:3; Eph. 5:8). ec magazine jul 2009 | 5
Statements Reader wants to share her talent
I have a few poems that I would like you to read, but I don’t know how to message them to you. I just started out on Facebook today. My dream is to have a poem featured in the magazine. Lindsay on Facebook (Lindsay, thanks for finding ec’s fan page on Facebook and taking the time to write on our wall. We would love to read your poetry. Getting it to us is actually pretty easy. You can e-mail us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d rather send us hard copies and use the U.S. Postal Service, just send the
poems to Mandy Crow, One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 174,Nashville, TN 37234. Include your contact info when you send us the poems, including your mailing address. If we like your work and decide to use it in an issue of ec, we’ll send you a letter and other information in the mail. Keep writing, and please, share your talents with us!)
Fan offers article ideas
I don’t want to sound like a wannabe, but the blog you posted about my problem [with anxiety] was so helpful. My friends thought it was great, and we were wondering if you would do some article about that topic for people who read the mag but don’t have Facebook. I want everyone who has this problem to have inspiration to keep going with this wonderful advice. Thanks so much! Madison on Facebook (ec: We are so humbled that you turned to us for advice about dealing with anxiety and that the post we put on the blog featuring Scripture passages spoke truth into your life. It’s humbling to be used by God! Your idea about doing an article in an upcoming issue of ec is a good one. We’re currently planning several months in advance and always want to include articles about stuff you’re actually dealing with. So let us know if you have more ideas for articles, because we crave your input!)
Overheard just in from the Facebook fan page:
“I love your magazines! Our church orders them every month, and they inspire me.” —Nikki “Are you sure that’s the right address because I would really like to know that Web site.” —Michaela*
things we wonder about: “I love the new cover and everything in it!” —Jennifer, on Facebook *Michaela’s right, guys! On page 5 of the March issue, we printed a Web address that no longer works. We’re trying to find out what happened to www.thirstnomore.org. Sorry! 6 | jul 2009 ec magazine
god the connection
Question of the Month What’s your favorite way to serve other people? “I like just to be their friend and then when they need someone I am the first one to give them some help. ” Rebekah, on ec’s facebook fan page “My favorite ways to serve others is just random acts of kindness! They’re so much fun and people don’t expect them, so I love seeing their faces when I do a random act [of kindness] for them!” Anna, on Ec’s Facebook Fan Page “By helping with anything I can do.” Clayton, on ec’s facebook fan page Read more answers at: http://cli.gs/S5LShn
getting started • By chansin bird
© istockphoto / Scott Griessel
Have something to say? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com, write ec letters at One Lifeway Plaza MSN 174, Nashville, TN 37234-0174, or stop by ecmagazine.blogspot.com.
Living the Truth God is Three. Three in One. The Father loves the Son who loves the Holy Spirit. There is a relationship involved. We, created in God’s image, have been made relational beings as well. We were made to connect not only with God, but with other people. Just the Facts Josh Corlew cares a great deal about living in rich, soul-satisfying community with others. He isn’t famous, and he doesn’t have all the answers. But he’s trying to take Jesus’ words seriously, and he has experienced a different way of living because of it. For one year Josh lived with two families and two other single guys. The nine of them shared the space of half of a quad-plex. It wasn’t very roomy. They each came
Next month’s question: What’s the worst assignment you’ve ever gotten at school? So just what are you thinking? Here at ec magazine, we want to know. Each month you’ll find a question we want your input about. So check it out and e-mail us with your thoughts! We can’t wait to hear from you! Send us your answers! Find us on Facebook or visit ecmagazine.blogspot.com.
Trinity. A word meaning threefold; the way we have chosen to refer to the relationship between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Spirit. The word does not appear explicitly in Scripture, but the concept is clear. The Trinity is difficult to understand, but at its very core it helps us to understand that God loves community and wants to relate to us through relationship rather than religion.
from wealthy backgrounds but chose to live as a racial minority in a low-income neighborhood. Why? “I used to live according to what most people consider the American dream. I aimed for a high-paying career so I could have my own place and complete control over my surroundings. I spent all my time and money in ways that were self-indulgent.” Though that’s the way many people live, Josh realized it wasn’t in line with his faith. He’d been living a decent Christian life by most standards, but when he examined himself, he wasn’t pleased. Investing everything into himself just left him empty. So Josh and some other people decided to find a house, move in together, and share everything, similar to what the early Christians did in the Book of Acts. “Can you really put nine people together in that small of a place and still love each other and call yourself Christian at the end of it? The answer was a resounding yes. Spiritually, I grew the quickest and most I’d ever grown.” They didn’t have to plan a worship service or Bible study meetings. Around the dinner table, conversation would naturally turn to Scripture and how it related to life. Living with people who cared about God, love, and their neighbors motivated Josh to embrace a radical faith. “I’m effective in my walk if I’m with people doing the same thing. For me to really grow, I have found that I need the constant interaction with other people who are also trying to live out their faith. Left to my own, I sit back and ignore all the problems that are around me.” �
The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
Shane Claiborne (Zondervan, 2006) “Seeing Claiborne’s interpretation of Scripture . . . and of the current inclination of Christianity in America was encouraging and convicting.” Josh Browse
⊲www.rebaplace fellowship.org, ⊲www.thesimple way.org, and ⊲www.churchofthe sojourners.org All of these are Web sites of organized intentional Christian communities. Listen
Derek Webb (INO Records, 2005) “He is one of the most prophetic musical artists I’ve ever heard. It is about re envisioning the Church.” Josh
What about you? ◼ Are there people in your life with whom you can be completely honest and who will be honest with you? How might you foster such a relationship? ◼ Think of someone you admire who has a strong love for others. How is that person living out his/her faith, and what can you do to follow the example? ◼ Do you know what Jesus said about loving other people? Look through the Gospels for examples. ◼ How have you watered down God’s Word with excuses and rationalization? What changes will you allow God to make in your life this week?
ec magazine jul 2009 | 7
like Three. It may not seem er, but mb nu that important of a (or od go of lot a there sure are t tha s ng thi ) ng sti ere at least int ’ll you ce come in threes. And sin inity in be learning about the Tr ught tho we , vos this month’s de h wit off nth mo the we’d kick e som at k loo ted ear hth a lig famous trios.
8 famous triorys
o t s i h t u o h throug
by the ec staff
Three Wise Men eers The Trthhosr, e& eAramMis)usket (Athos, Po
Three Blind Mice
as Brothers The, JoJe,oann d Nick) (Kevin
Three Lit tle Pigs Three Stoogesmetimes Curly) emp—and so (Larry, Moe, and Sh
, and Nod n e k n y l B , n e k n y W nd Tomato a , e c u t t e L , n o c a B The Three Amigos
all illustrations © istockphoto
oll Stop, Drop, and R op Snap, Crackle, P uey Huey, Duey, and L
8 | jul 2009 ec magazine
Santa Maria Nina , Pinta , and Future d n a t, n e s e r P t, s Pa nos,ransd Luciano Pavarotti) eeséTCaerre e Thmir Thido ra Do ngo, Jo (Plác
ec magazine jul 2009 | 9
What’s the deal
week of july 5
with devotions? Sometimes, honestly, it irks the ec staff when we hear ec referred to simply as a devotional magazine. Not because it isn’t, but because we’ve worked very hard to make it more—it’s a magazine for your whole life, we say. We make sure ec includes articles and information to guide you along this journey of faith, along with the daily devotions.
But the point of ec magazine—if we had to pick just one—is to help you start and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. If we put out an issue of the magazine that didn’t encourage you to dig into God’s Word and experience His still, small voice for yourself, would we be doing anything worthwhile? Scripture is one of the ways God has chosen to speak to us, urge us to action, and show us what it means to live holy lives. The Bible changes lives because it is God’s Word. It is truth. And we want our readers to dig deep into Scripture—to read it for yourselves and let it change your lives. We can’t do that for you, but we can give you devotions that guide you in that pursuit. And if ec magazine can be a part of helping just one of you have a deeper relationship with God, we want to! So, maybe you’re ready to dig into Scripture and find out what God has to say to you. Maybe you want to use ec to help you do that. Well, then this is the article for you! First of all, we at ec urge you to set aside some time each day that is devoted solely to reading Scripture and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand God’s Word. Let God speak to you through the Bible and show you how to take the truths you learn and put them into practice in your life. 10 | jul 2009 ec magazine
As someone who didn’t get the importance of daily Scripture reading until college, I can attest to you that this is vital. Don’t depend on your student minister, your pastor, your parents, or anyone else to tell you what Scripture says. Read it. Study it. Think about it. The Bible has something to say about your daily life. Let the truth of Scripture take root in your heart now while you’re young and let it guide your steps. That way, you won’t look back on blessings you missed because you didn’t take the time to read God’s Word and hear what He had to say. Next let’s talk about the basics. Understand that ec’s devos are arranged by week and start on Sundays. Therefore, the first week of devotions begins on the first Sunday of the month, whether it falls on the first day or not. The previous month’s issue will take care of the daily devos for the first week of the month in such cases. Also know that all of ec’s devotions are now dated and there are devotions or application of Scripture for each day of the 1 month. Our teach me Your U Ways God wants to know you. T reading k plan for H each week is simple. You read the Weekend devotion on Sunday and read and think about the Monday through Friday devotions on their respective days.
Weekend > 7/5
Moses sa d to the Lord Look You have to d me Lead th s people up but You have not l t me know whom You w ll end wi h me You sa d know you by name and you have a so found favor n My ight —Exodus 33: 2
R ad ex dus 3 12 7 ve you e eR gone h ou h a m z ? I s c nf s ng It au es ou to sk W er do I o n w? nd W o kn ws he way u ? t s fu l f un xp c ed wi ts u ns nd s r r se ar und v ry c r er The l er we et he mo e on u i g God way and fe s o r ey b com s Our ea ch or w o He i and w at He an s us o do an som t mes eem i e a ma e We ave qu s i ns so we m ke a d c s on nd ch o e a pa h to o ow W f nd ho e an we s a ou d t e co n r ut un i to no h r f rk n t e pa h wh re mo e qu s i ns a a t nd so n n er od y s S r p ur pa sa e E en wh n he d dn un er tand G d s wa s M se s i l u re de ed a d so gh God ut s y ng P e se ea h me Y ur wa s! Th s s t e s me k nd o pr ye we eed o p ay d i y E ch d y p es n s a ew tw t or u n n un am l r a h to o l w a ew de i on to m ke Don you w nt o kn w th t he er on w o knows t e way th ou h t e maz is u d ng y ur s ep ? F r H m o t a h you H s w ys you ave o a t a ly now H m Ma y pe p e don kn w od be au e hey ren se k ng H m or s en in t me w th H m ev ry ay The ma e o seek ng H m may s em ov rw e mi g at im s but e s no un t a na le r u kno ab e He es es o ha e a de p u he t c re at o s ip w h you one n wh h ou w l se k H m nd s y S ow me our w ys a d I w l f l ow! 0 | j L 2 09 ec ma az ne
Monday > 7/6
h nk ba k to when y u we e a k d o you emem er he im s y ur d d r nd a her a e ch r or ome o h r ma e f g re n y ur i e wa ed n o a oom? l be some f hem c r i d a ce t in u ho i y a d p es nce ih th m w e ev r t ey w nt D d you a e re p ct or ho e p op e? id ou wa t to b ne r t em?
Re d th ou h ex dus 3 18 23 nd c re u l co s der e se 19 � W at o yo th n Mos s me nt w en e a ked od o sh w H s g o y? � W y i i th t h co l n t ee he ace o God nd i e? � o you v r d s re o eel t e r se ce f F t er od mo e? � h nk ac on he men ou e e p c ed o had c os bo d wi h in fe Do ou h nk od d s r s o ha e a c o e i t ma e e a i n h p wi h u as H s h dr n? M se wan ed o f l y k ow God nd pe t t me n H s g o i us p e en e n o ay s cr p u e pa s ge Mo es r l t on h p w th G d appea s v al nd n ma e M ses e med o be v ry omf r ab e w th od so mu h t at e s mp y as ed G d t e qu s i n he d b en d i g to ask to ee G d s g o y God d dn t h de r m M s s or g ore i re ue t He a sw red M se and ho e to ho or Mo es equ st b t n H s own w y and n H s own me T e po nt? G d de i es o h ve an n ma e re a on h p w th you e wan s to i p ay H s lo y as mu h as ou an h nd e and l ow y u to now mo e and m re f H s c ar c er T i k ab ut t ke t i : G d ori i a ly r a ed he r l t o sh p b tw en a at er nd h s h ld o be a eep on ec on Some of ou ave he i d of ad t at ou n w x er e ce ha k nd o co ne t on w th a d ot e s of ou d n t No ma t r wha k nd o dad ou h ve God he F t er d s r s t sh w im e f c e r y o you He w nt to now y u i t ma e y a d ha e t e k nd o r l t on h p w th ou t at a a he has w th h s s n or d ug t r But ou h ve o be w ll ng
He sa d w l cause ll My goodne s to pass n f ont of you nd w l proc a m the name Yahweh efo e you I wi l be g ac ous to whom I wi l be g ac ous nd w ll have omp ss on on whom I w ll h ve comp ss on —Exodus 3 19
How is God like a Father in your life?
Then comes the journal page. This is intentional. We’ve given you a lot to consider during your weekly devotions, and we don’t want to do anything that encourages you to be father only hearers of the Word. Our plan at ec is not to ask you to simply read Scripture, but to � engage in it. We want the truth of God’s Word to change your attitudes, behaviors, and lives. That’s why we included a journal page when we redesigned the magazine. Our plan is that you read and meditate on the “Known” section of the journal page as your Saturday devotion. The idea is that you simply take some time out of the week to look over the big themes and truths of that week’s devos. We want you to ponder those truths, apply them to your life, and let God’s Word and the Holy Spirit spur you to action. Finally, you need to understand why ec’s devotions are written the way they are—with an intro, questions about the Scripture passage, and a final thought. The opening is designed to help you start thinking about that day’s topic; the questions make you dig into the Bible for yourself; and the final paragraph drives home the truth we want you to understand when you close the magazine and go about your life. Our hope is that we’re giving you tools that you can use, 3 It really did hurt him more both now and all than it hurt you. A throughout your journey of faith. ec
5 journal Week of july
Known > 7/11
er t s t e way who G d i as at ns y u ve s u i d n o a F t er n h s we k s de oti c ls a h one f us l te o us a d He ow do s t He as cho en o r do s hat m an And eepe : i h H m B t wh t de o i ns a t le h ld e a i ns ip e? et ta e t i week t we e l ar ed bou H s a f c yo r da y i wh ate? r G d as F t er nd fu and omp ss o � h nk bou yo eve e i l v ng mer hat ou now ha a t r Do y u be re ha a t r s i s i e do n some m i ve t a ou Him e W y or w y no ? W to e o ch e F th r Now to our a he so o be ru of G d t ou eed o c n es oHm n s n yo r i e hat u r nd r yo r i e � A e the e t in Are ou ea y to ou ve g ) o on s c can t at e sad iyd ? Som t mes h s d t day ob d en e a d t us you an pur ue G i ht ow: re ome s e i i way s mp e ra th s � Mak a l st W at Star ar y s h h nd th s w ek t is mon w ys God ea h me Y ur
Prayers thoughts & questions:
To ig ee er n o who G d t e Fa h r i and ow to pu su Hi ways ea : JoHn 6 27 28 EpHE i nS 1 3 14 Hi i pi nS 3 1 - 1 pSA m 6 : -3 m ttH w 6 3 - 3 H brEwS 1 6
Abba means father or daddy in Aramaic And it’s what God allows us to call Him See Galatians 4 6
o k ow G d t e F t e in n n i a e r l t ns p ou a e o s en t me w h H m and k ow w a ’ i po t n to im O e wa to o ha i to e d H s W rd O r s g e t o s w l h l yo r ad h ou h he B b e n a ear
• E ra 1 N hem ah 6 • A ts 1 7
4 | j l 2 09 ec ma az ne
Wednesday > 7/8
s a chi d you pRobably expeR enced d sc p i e n some s nse r ght? Mo t of us h ve—whe her hat was a pank ng be ng gro nded i t ng n me out or ometh ng e se And orma ly when you we e di c p in d t was be ause ou did ometh ng wr ng How do you emem er f el ng a t r you were d s ip ned? D d you want o go and mess up a ai ? W re you s rry or y ur acti ns?
Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed “Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and g acious God slow o anger and rich in faithful love and truth ” —Exodus 34 6
today read th ough exodus 4:5 9 nd ake a car ful ook at ve se 6 � Make a l st of he cha ac er s ics u ed in his pa sage o esc ibe God � What s ands out o you the mos ? � Have ou een God act n any of hese ways n your i e? How id th t m ke y u ee ? Wha did t tea h you about H s cha ac er and His lan f r your i e? � What s God s at i ude towa d si ?
For you he w rd f ther may make y u r nge or t may br ng back w et memor es of a c ose el t onsh p w h y ur dad i her way h s pass ge of S r ptu e sc eams G d s our F the ! So w at does hat ac ua ly mean? G d i st t ld Moses hat He was compa si nate gr ci us ai hf l ov ng or iv ng nd me c ful But He went on o ay th t He wa ts our ho ness wh ch means He won t i nore our in He s de in tely a fa her of or iv ness and sec nd hanc s but He an t nd w n t ver ook when we choo e o l ve n oppos ion to H s st ndar s Does t at sound i e a d d o you? Su e it do s! We of en th nk of God as his gra dfa he -f gu e w th a ong wh te be rd i t ng on a ock ng cha r n h aven j st wa t ng o st i e s down f we m ss up B t that s n t the rue p ctu e of God s cha ac er H s ch rac er s to l ve org ve and ble s us for ur obed ence and f i hfu ness
Photos this section: © istockphoto / eileen groome, mike manzano, kristina castagnola, gene chutka & jamie carroll : p. 9, © david sacks / getty Images
By Mandy Crow
ou may have a lot of names for your dad. You may even use different ones for different situations, like Father when he’s trying your patience, Dad when you want to talk, and even Daddy when you want something.
But those words aren’t just names; they’re also descriptions of the relationship you have. Fathers are supposed to be the people who protect us, take care of us, know all our faults and still love us, and encourage us to be the best people we can be. Some of us are lucky to have great relationships with our dads. Others of us don’t—and not for any lack of trying. Earthly fathers mess up, forget, and make mistakes, but that doesn’t change the fact of the relationship. Your dad is your dad. Always. So, why—in a world of messed-up father/child relationships—would God choose to reveal Himself to us as Father? Because there’s an intimacy in that relationship. Like the best earthly dads, God loves us in spite of our mistakes. He wants to protect and guide us. He wants us to be the people He created us to be. He sees the best in us and wants the best for us. He loves us in spite of all the times we’ve failed and doesn’t hold those against us. God wants to know us as His children—not just His followers. The Trinity may be confusing, but this fact isn’t: God wants to know you, love you, take care of you, and dream dreams for you. God wants to be your Father. ec magazine jul 2009 | 11
Weekend > 7/5
Monday > 7/6
teach me Your Ways God wants to know you. T , k Moses said to the L ord
e, “Look, You have told,’ m t bu up le op pe is th ad ‘Le ow kn e m let t no You have with whom You will send you ow kn ‘I , id me. You sa ve ha u yo d an e, m na by My also found favor in :12 33 s du xo —E .’” ht sig
Read Exodus 33:12-17. ave you ever gone through a maze? It’s confusing! It causes you to ask, “Where do I go now?” and “Who knows the way out?” It’s full of unexpected twists, turns, and surprises around every corner. The older we get, the more confusing God’s ways and life’s journey becomes. Our search for who He is and what He wants us to do can sometimes seem like a maze. We have questions, so we make a decision and choose a path to follow. We find those answers around the corner, but run into another fork in the path where more questions await—and so on. Enter today’s Scripture passage. Even when he didn’t understand God’s ways, Moses still surrendered and sought God out, saying, “Please teach me Your ways!” This is the same kind of prayer we need to pray daily. Each day presents a new twist or turn, an unfamiliar path to follow, a new decision to make. Don’t you want to know that the Person who knows the way through the maze is guiding your steps? For Him to teach you His ways, you have to actually know Him. Many people don’t know God because they aren’t seeking Him or spending time with Him every day. The “maze” of seeking Him may seem overwhelming at times, but He is not unattainable or unknowable. He desires to have a deep, authentic relationship with you—one in which you will seek Him and say, “Show me Your ways, and I will follow!”
12 | jul 2009 ec magazine
hink back to when you were a kid. Do you remember the times your dad, grandfather, a teacher, or some other male figure in your life walked into a room? I’ll bet some of them carried a certain authority and presence with them wherever they went. Did you have respect for those men? Did you want to be near them?
Read through Exodus 33:18-23 and carefully consider verse 19. � What do you think Moses meant when he asked God to show His glory? � Why is it that he couldn’t see the face of God and live? He said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of � Do you ever desire to feel the you, and I will proclaim the presence of Father God more? name Yahweh before you. � Think back on the men you’ve I will be gracious to whom respected or had a close bond with I will be gracious, and I will in life. Do you think God desires to have compassion on whom have a close, intimate relationship I will have compassion.” with us as His children? —Exodus 33:19 Moses wanted to fully know God and spent time in His glorious presence. In today’s Scripture passage, Moses’ relationship with God appears vital and intimate. Moses seemed to be very comfortable with God, so much that he simply asked God what he’d been dying to ask: to see God’s glory. God didn’t hide from Moses or ignore his request. He answered Moses and chose to honor Moses’ request, but in His own way and in His own time. The point? God desires to have an intimate relationship with you. He wants to display His glory, as much as you can handle, and allow you to know more and more of His character. Think about it like this: God originally created the relationship between a father and his child to be a deep connection. Some of you have the kind of dad that you now experience that kind of connection with, and others of you don’t. No matter what kind of dad you have, God the Father desires to show Himself clearly to you. He wants to know you intimately and have the kind of relationship with you that a Father has with his son or daughter. But you have to be willing.
How is God like a Father in your life?
Tuesday > 7/7
Need a second chance? M
aybe it was a collectible, expensive electronic, or family heirloom. Think back to when you broke something very valuable— something that belonged to someone else. How did the owner react? Was he or she angry or upset with you? How did you react? What would you have done differently if you could do it again?
The Lord said to Moses , “Cut two stone tablet s lik the first ones, and I wi e ll write on them the wo rd that were on the first s tablets, which you br oke.” —Exodus 34:1 Read through Exodus 34:1-4 and focus in on verse 1. � Do you recognize that these tablets were the Ten Commandments? � Because you know this, how valuable do you think they were to God? Why? � Why do you think God gave Moses a second chance to redeem himself after he broke the tablets in anger? � What does this teach you about God’s forgiveness in your life today? For what do you need forgiveness and a second chance? The tablets were important to God because He made them as a physical reminder of what it meant to live according to His ways. He had an important message for the Israelites, but Moses broke the first set of tablets in anger. God could have cursed Moses, struck him dead, or replaced him with another leader. But, instead, He gave Moses a second chance and asked him to create two new stone tablets. This also says a lot about how God the Father treats us as His children when we mess up. We’re going to mess up, but He doesn’t reject us or give up on His plans for our lives. He is a God of second chances. Even for you.
How well do you obey? Are you abusing His grace? Wednesday > 7/8
It really did hurt him more than it hurt you.
s a child, you probably experienced discipline in some sense, right? Most of us have—whether that was a spanking, being grounded, sitting in time-out, or something else. And, normally, when you were disciplined, it was because you did something wrong. How do you remember feeling after you were disciplined? Did you want to go and mess up again? Were you sorry for your actions?
Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: “Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.” —Exodus 34:6 Today, read through Exodus 34:5-9 and take a careful look at verse 6. � Make a list of the characteristics used in this passage to describe God. � What stands out to you the most? � Have you seen God act in any of these ways in your life? How did that make you feel? What did it teach you about His character and His plan for your life? � What is God’s attitude toward sin? For you, the word “father” may make you cringe, or it may bring back sweet memories of a close relationship with your dad. Either way, this passage of Scripture screams, “God is our Father!” So, what does that actually mean? God first told Moses that He was compassionate, gracious, faithful, loving, forgiving, and merciful. But He went on to say that He wants our holiness, which means He won’t ignore our sin. He is definitely a Father of forgiveness and second chances, but He can’t and won’t overlook when we choose to live in opposition to His standards. Does that sound like a dad to you? Sure it does! We often think of God as this grandfather-figure with a long, white beard, sitting on a rocking chair in heaven, just waiting to strike us down if we mess up. But that’s not the true picture of God’s character. His character is to love, forgive, and bless us for our obedience and faithfulness. ec magazine jul 2009 | 13
Personal Space s nd feeling that resonate yo be ve lo e th y, jo e th “You will never know as he looks upon his son.” in the heart of a father —Kent Nerburn
How authentic are you with God?
Thursday > 7/9
God wants it all. D
o we have any overachievers out there? You know who I’m talking about. It’s the student who always waves her hand in class to answer the teacher’s question as if she’s working air traffic control. It’s the guy who goes above and beyond in his chores to please mom and dad—even tackling the disgusting jobs no one else wants. You know exactly to whom I’m referring. Think about every area of your life. Are you that person in any of those places? Read Micah 6:6-8 and really pay attention to verse 8. � According to these verses, what does the Lord require of us? � Now pick these things apart and match them to your life. Are you fulfilling the requirements? � Where could you improve? � Look over the list of sacrifices and displays of devotion listed in this passage as you consider verse 8. How does what God wants compare to these things? � What does God want from you?
“He has told you men what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah 6:8
You are His joy. 14 | jul 2009 ec magazine
God doesn’t require you to slaughter a lamb and prepare it as a burnt sacrifice for your sins each week. He doesn’t ask you to shave your head and commit your whole life to serving Him in a monastery in the remotest parts of Europe. He won’t ever ask you to quote at least 100 verses of Scripture back to Him each night before bed. He doesn’t need your big, over-the-top displays of devotion. He just wants you—ALL of you. Micah told us exactly what God wants from you. More than anything else, He wants your holiness, obedience, loyalty, and love while walking in a close, daily relationship with Him.
Friday > 7/10
Don’t be fake.
ou go to church every Sunday. You sit in the uncomfortable chair or pew for at least an hour. You sing the same hymns and songs you did last week. You hear a sermon. You leave and go home. Next week, you come back to do it all again. Does this sound like your worship routine, or do you go deeper?
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” —John 4:24 Take a look at John 4:21-24. Then, go back and reread verse 24. � What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? � Is your worship rehearsed from week to week? Why or why not? � How can you worship God intimately in spirit and truth? � What steps will you take in order to do so? Jesus had this intense conversation at high noon one day with a Samaritan woman who was drawing water from a well. He confronted her about her worship style, saying, “You worship guessing in the dark . . . It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God” (John 4:22-23, The Message). Jesus said the Father wants “those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship . . . [They] must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration” (John 4:23b-24, The Message). People get too caught up in worship styles—what to do and what not to do, what to sing or not to sing, and what to wear. These minor things have actually caused churches to split. God cares about these trivial things—but more than those, over everything, He simply desires your pure, unfiltered praise and adoration. He just wants the true you to worship the true Him.
ec magazine jul 2009 | 15
� father � Known > 7/11
ied who God is as Father. It is the way In this week’s devotions, you’ve stud e calls each one of us into a FatherHe has chosen to relate to us, and H does that mean? And how does it what . But Him child relationship with ’s devotions a little deeper: week affect your daily life? Let’s take this we’ve learned about His what and ther as Fa God � Think about your iful, and compassionate? merc g, character. Do you believe He is lovin acteristics that you know char more e som n dow e Writ Why or why not? ve it about Him. belie to se choo to be true of God the Father. Now, ess to your Father so conf to need you that life your in � Are there things your life to Him in nder surre to y read that He can forgive you? Are you is a daily decision.) obedience and trust? (Sometimes this you can pursue God today, ways ake a list. What are some specific �M simple. Pray this right now: rt ? Sta year this and th, this week, this mon “God, teach me Your ways.”
Prayers, thoughts, & questions:
around the ball to disguise the direction you plan to go.” It could also be described as: “using the different surfaces of your feet to control the ball.” Being a good soccer player involves more than just being able to kick the ball. Being able to control the ball allows you and your team more time to develop the perfect play.
� u nderstand the element of surprise.
Set up two cones 10 yards apart. 5 mins: d ribble between cones cutting with the inside of your left foot 5 mins: d ribble between cones cutting with the inside of your right foot 5 mins: d ribble between cones cutting with the outside of your left foot 5 mins: dribble between cones cutting with the outside of your right foot
� Know what it is.
� Have fun.
Abba means father or daddy in Aramaic. And it’s what God allows us to call Him. See Galatians 4:6.
16 | jul 2009 ec magazine
� Work it out.
To know God the Father in an intimate relationship, you have to spend time with Him and know what’s important to Him. One way to do that is to read His Word. Our suggestions will help you read through the Bible in a year.
• Ezra 1–Nehemiah 6 • Acts 1–7
Learning to let go, trust God, and relax is something you learn over a lifetime. But you can do something about getting a good night’s sleep now. Like: • Develop a bedtime routine. Doing the same things each night forms a habit and tells your body it’s time to wind down. • Have a bedtime. Yes, you’re almost grown, but bedtime is still important. Get up at the same time, too. It helps! • Exercise in the afternoon. Exercise is always good, but exercising in the afternoon will help your sleep patterns.
who’s playi ng? Tournaments leading up to the 2010 World Cup include: • FIFA U-20 World Cup: Sept. 24– Oct. 16 in Egypt • FIFA U-17 World Cup: Oct. 24–Nov. 15 in Nigeria • FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup: Nov. 16-22 in United Arab Emirates
Players with great foot skills stand out, but we hope you’re playing because you love the sport and enjoy the challenge.
© istockphoto / jason stitt
To dig deeper into who God the Father is and how to pursue His ways, read: John 16:27-28 Ephesians 1:3-14 Philippians 3:12-21 Psalm 63:1-3 Matthew 6:32-33 Hebrews 11:6
Your ability to disguise the direction you plan to go is one of your greatest weapons in soccer. It has everything to do with the development of your foot skills. Players such as David Beckham and Ronaldinho are fun to watch because of their highly developed foot skills. Moves like the scissor and step-over are deadly weapons on the soccer field. They come from developing foot skills.
t’s summer and that means more time for soccer for a lot of you. It’s no secret that foot skills are important in the game of soccer. As a middle school soccer coach, one of the first things I look at during try-outs is a player’s foot skills—how they handle the ball with their feet. And you can bet that if I’m evaluating a player on his or her footwork, so are other coaches around the country. So maybe you want to take your soccer game up a notch this summer? One way to do so is to use your time off from school to work on the fundamentals of footwork.
Tim Betts, a former assistant coach for Trevecca Nazarene University and a current staff coach for Brentwood Soccer Club in Brentwood, Tenn., defines foot skills as “movements of your feet
journal: Week of july 5
Th e answe r you ne e d to h ear:
How do I let go and relax? Remember the Sabbath? The Fourth Commandment requires us to take time out of our week for a sabbath for rest. This is an act of obedience on our part, but also an acknowledgement on God’s part that sometimes we just need to slow down and
by Greg Joiner
relax. So, He instructed us to take time to enjoy Him and the blessings He’s given us. But how do you put a little sabbath into every day? Here’s how: Spend time seeking God. Spending time worshiping, praying, reading the Bible, and listening for God’s wisdom and direction gives a sense of peace and a clarity that can be found nowhere else. Then, enjoy life. God is glorified when we enjoy the world He created and the relationships He’s given us. Take time to rest and be realistic about learning to let go. Take a few minutes every day or set aside one evening per week to simply rest. Once this habit has been established, it will be hard to break. Our bodies and souls were designed to need and desire rest. Don’t let your life run you! by Rachel Carrozziere
ec magazine jul 2009 | 17
© istockphoto / john kropewnicki
Religious freedom doesn’t mean no religion
the beginning of the year, all of America witnessed the inauguration of our country’s 44th president, Barack Obama. As he took the oath of office, he declared that he would execute faithfully the duties of his office with God’s help.
18 | jul 2009 ec magazine
Virtually all the men involved in the founding of our nation believed in God. Although some were Deists who believed that God did not intervene directly in the world, most of the founding fathers were Protestant Christians. These leaders realized, however, that making Christianity or any other religion the official or established religion of the nation would not be healthy for religion or the state. That is why Congress passed the First Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits the government from establishing or favoring any religion and protects the free exercise of religion in our land. Although we Americans have prized religious freedom, this has not prevented us from making public statements about our reliance upon God. Take out a coin from your pocket or purse, and you will see the motto “In God We Trust.” These words were placed on United States coins
America’s religious freedom has not prevented us from making public statements about our reliance upon God. during the terrible days of the Civil War. Religious fervor among Americans had increased during the crisis of war. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from pious persons throughout the country urging the government to honor God on United States coins. Congress passed an act on April 22, 1864 that allowed “In God We Trust” to first appear on the 1864 two-cent coin. The phrase later appeared on other coins. The phrase “In God We Trust” does not only appear on coins. In 1956 President Eisenhower approved a law passed by Congress declaring “In God We Trust” to be our national motto. A year later the phrase was found on paper money for the first time when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. Another famous American phrase mentioning God comes from the pledge of allegiance and is recited daily by millions of schoolchildren around the country. The pledge was originally written in 1892 by a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). In 1953, the Roman Catholic fraternal service organization, the Knights of Columbus, mounted a campaign to add the words “under God” to the Pledge. At the
© istockphoto / lee pettet
By Jerry Faught
Finding God in
The last phrase of the oath—“so help me God”—reminded me of my trip to New York City just a few weeks earlier. I had traveled by bus to Ground Zero to see the work being done on the new World Trade Center. I then walked across the street to visit St. Paul’s Chapel. St. Paul’s, built in 1766, miraculously survived the collapse of the twin towers on September 11, 2001. For eight months after the tragedy, this church served as a place for volunteer relief workers to eat and rest. Inside the chapel, I saw pictures of many who died in the terrorist attack. A feeling of deep sadness came over me as I looked at the p ictures and other memorabilia. That’s when I saw a sign indicating that George Washington, our nation’s first president, had been inaugurated in St. Paul’s in 1789. I walked over to a bench called Washington’s Pew where he knelt to pray during his inaugural service. As I exited the church, I surmised that the pew and the chapel itself stood as a monument of hope in a confusing and chaotic world. That experience reminded me that God shows up in a big way throughout the history of our nation. Let’s discover a few of the significant ways that our nation has expressed its dependence upon God.
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Personal Space week of July 12
His Father’s Son
20 | jul 2009 ec magazine
a number of images of Moses with the Ten Commandments. These can be found at the center of the sculpture over the east portico of the Supreme Court building, inside the actual courtroom, engraved over the chair of the Chief Justice, and on the bronze doors of the Supreme Court itself. Our treasure hunt could continue, but hopefully you have discovered that God is our national treasure. In the end, Americans should understand that while separation of church and state is vital to protect our religious freedom, trying to remove God from American history is a misrepresentation of our nation’s history. ec
Praying for one nation under God How much time do you spend praying for politicians? The Apostle Paul instructed Christians to pray, “ . . . for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life” (1 Tim. 2:1b-3a). Elected or appointed officials of our nation, whether at the local, state, or national level, serve the people. Besides the fact that we have a Christian responsibility to pray for our leaders, we should desire to pray for those who serve us in the political arena. We should pray for our president and his family to be able to enjoy quality time together even though the demands of the job are enormous. We should pray for him to have wisdom in making decisions, especially ones that will have a profound impact on people in our nation as well as individuals around the globe. We should pray often for our Congressmen and women, our governor, our mayor, and state legislators as well. Politicians pass laws that often have a powerful bearing on our quality of life. The prayers we send to God on their behalf carry significant weight.
Photos this section © istockphoto /dori o’connell, nick schlax, andrzej burak, matthew hertel, and dmitriy tereschenko
time the nation found itself opposing the spread of atheistic communism in the world. The country was engaged in the so-called Cold War with the Soviet Union. Partly in response to these events, Congress passed a bill which was signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954 to add the words “under God” to the pledge. President Eisenhower said at the time: “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” Our fervent dedication to God has been memoHow to pray rialized repeatedly in our So you understand the importance of praying for nation’s capital. Take a tour our country’s leaders but of Washington D.C. and want some tips on how reflect in amazement at the to do so? We’ve got some ideas: many references to God on famous buildings and monu• Take a look at today’s political headlines. Pray ments throughout the city. for President Obama to Take the Capitol building approach these things for example. In the House with wisdom. • Pray for the First Lady, chamber is the inscription, Michelle Obama, and the “In God We Trust.” Above president’s family. Pray the gallery door stands a that they will be godly parents to their children marble relief of the great and teach them to rely on lawgiver Moses. At the east God’s truth. • Check out the White entrance to the Senate House Web site chamber are the words (www.whitehouse.gov) or Annuit Coeptis. This Latin your state government’s Web site and get a list phrase, which also appears of government officials. on our paper currency, Pick a name and pray roughly means that God has over that leader for a week. Pray for God’s favored our undertakings. wisdom, guidance, and In the chapel, a beautipeace to be a part of his or her decision-making. ful stained glass window Thank God for seeing the depicts George Washington big picture we can’t see. in prayer under the inscripAsk Him to remind these leaders of the things that tion “In God We Trust.” are important to Him and The Supreme Court buildclose to His heart. ing, dedicated in 1935, has
© istockphoto / stephen finn
Trying to remove God from American history is a misrepresentation of our nation’s history.
She’s the spitting image of her dad. He’s his father’s son. When someone looks like his or her dad, we love to pull out every available cliché to describe the situation.
Sure, those phrases are trite and overused, but there’s a bit of truth in them. You tend to take on the characteristics and mannerisms of the important people in your life, dads included. You’re a testimony to your father because your life and the way you live it say something about Him. God hasn’t left us to figure out what He’s like all on our own. He sent His own testimony of Himself into the world in the form of Jesus, His Son. Jesus, the Son of God and the second Person of the Trinity, lived on this earth, facing the same fears, trials, and temptations we face. And He lived to tell His Father’s story. Most of all, He lived out His Father’s love. Jesus is the eternal God. He is His Father’s Son, and therefore, loves you even when you fail. He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, the One who makes an eternal difference. Does He make an eternal difference in your life? Are you your Father’s child?
ec magazine jul 2009 | 21
weekend > 7/12
Do you know him? He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. —Colossians 1:15 Read Colossians 1:15-17. hen you hear someone mention the name “Jesus,” what comes to mind? A baby in a manger? Or maybe just a religious feeling? Regardless of who you are, it is crucial that you figure out who this Jesus is. Your forgiveness, joy, and eternity are at stake. The good news is that God’s Word gives us a clear answer. In Colossians 1:15 we learn that Jesus Christ is the very image of God, showing us exactly what God is like. In fact, He is the divine Son of God who came in the flesh. It may surprise you to learn that everything in the universe was created through Him and for Him. Even now, the world holds together because of the living Lord Jesus. Mountains, oceans, and all people were created for the glory of Jesus Christ. Some people claim to know God and love Him while rejecting Jesus. Our passage makes it clear that this is not possible because God has revealed Himself perfectly in the person of His Son. The Father not only created and sustains the world through Jesus, but He also saves sinners through Him. The Son of God became a Man in order to save people like us who deserve God’s punishment. Amazingly, Jesus Christ, the Creator and Lord of the universe, died for our sins on a cruel cross and rose from the dead that we might have life. This is the Jesus of the Bible. Do you know Him?
You have to let Jesus be Lord of your life. It’s a decision YOU have to make.
22 | jul 2009 ec magazine
monday > 7/13
Is He at the center of your life?
hom do you look up to in our culture? Do you often wish that others thought more highly of you? What do you think that says about your heart?
Read Colossians 1:18-23 and look closely at verse 18. � What does it mean that Jesus is to He is also the head of the have the “first place in everything” body, the church; He is the (Col. 1:18)? beginning, the firstborn � What does it mean that all of God’s from the dead, so that fullness dwells in Jesus? He might come to have � What does it say about the first place in everything. greatness and worth of Jesus’ —Colossians 1:18 sacrifice in light of the fact that He is fully God? � Does He have first place in everything in your life? Why or why not?
tuesday > 7/14
Here’s how to get a life. w
hy do you think some students live to get a “rush” from things like drugs, adventure, and relationships with the opposite sex? Do you think these things will bring true and lasting pleasure? Where do you look in life for true enjoyment and fulfillment? Read John 1:1-5. What does verse 4 mean to you? � Who is the Word in these verses? � How was He involved in creation according to verse 3? � According to these verses, what is life? From where does it come? Who gives it? � Does it surprise you that physical and spiritual life come from the Word of God? Why or why not? � Where have you found yourself searching for life other than from Christ?
Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. —John 1:4
Do you love the latest thing in technology? You will soon discover that you are fighting a losing battle. Just when you think an iPod® could not possibly hold any more songs, they come out with a new one that holds twice as many. Your iPod then becomes an ancient artifact. Many people take this same approach to life. Because of our sinful nature, we are always looking for something or someone other than God to satisfy us. You’ve seen it in yourself and your friends, in that constant search for meaning through money, sex, popularity, whatever. But the One who created us offers true life. Jesus is referred to as the Word of God in today’s passage, and it is through Him that God created the world. Both our physical and spiritual lives depend on Him. Other things may offer us a short-lived sense of security and excitement, but eternal life comes only through Jesus Christ. Only He truly satisfies us forever.
wednesday > 7/15
He’s Got power. w
hen was the last time you went to the doctor? Have you ever felt like you needed more than physical healing? Does it ever seem like no one can handle all the problems that overwhelm your life?
So that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “He Himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.” —Matthew 8:17 Read Matthew 8:14-17. Reflect on verse 17. � What does this passage teach you about Jesus’ attitude toward those who are physically sick? Toward those who are spiritually sick? � What does this episode in Jesus’ ministry tell us about His mercy and His power? � Is there a sin in your life that seems too great for Jesus to overcome? � How does this passage speak to that? It is rare that we see someone who is both powerful and merciful. But this is exactly what we see in Jesus Christ. Matthew 8:17 refers to Isaiah 53:4, an Old Testament prophecy about a man to come who would take upon Himself the sickness and sin of His people. This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In Matthew 8:14-17, the situation surely seemed grim. However, Jesus’ healing touch was more than just a “hang-in-there” pat on the back. It was a touch of divine mercy and power. In fact, the woman was completely and instantly healed! Jesus Christ has power and authority over all of creation, but His greatness does not mean that we are insignificant to Him. He cares for the weak and sinful. He has the power to deal with sickness— physical and spiritual. He can free us from the spiritual effects of our sin.
Our culture tells us constantly that the way to happiness and meaning in life is to have better self-esteem. After all, they say, you need to learn to love yourself because it is all about you. This may sound appealing, but it completely goes against God’s design. No wonder it leaves us so empty in the end. God has designed creation so that His Son, Jesus Christ, would have first place in all things. This makes sense, for Jesus is fully God. The simple truth: God never intended for us to be the center of the universe. When we get a glimpse of His glory, we begin to realize how unworthy and sinful we are. Yet, in His grace, God has provided the way for us to be forgiven of our sins because of Jesus’ great sacrifice on the cross. Everything we need in life is found in Him, for He is Lord of all. So what does that mean for your daily life? If Jesus is Lord of everything in this world, He is Lord of your life—all the drama, decisions, dreams, fears, and doubts. But you have to let Him be Lord of your life. Have you submitted to Jesus as Lord?
True satisfaction is in Christ alone.
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has “For the Son of Man save to d an ek come to se :10 19 e uk —L t.” los the
Jesus came for you. Trust that.
Thursday > 7/16
It’s not a popularity contest.
hen was the last time you visited a hospital? How would you describe your emotions in light of what you saw? What do you think would lead someone to work in such an environment?
When Jesus heard this, He told the m, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick come to call the righteous, but sin do need one. I didn’t ners.” —Mark 2:17
o y r o f e Jesus cam
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Jesus did it on purpose. H
ow would you answer if someone asked you about your purpose on earth? What about Jesus— what was His purpose on earth? Does it affect yours? How so?
“Jesus is God spelling in languageHimself out that men can understand.” —S.d. Gordon
? rstand e nd u u Don’t yo u!
Friday > 7/17
Read Mark 2:13-17 and contemplate what Jesus said in verse 17. � Who were the people Jesus spent time with in these verses? Why is that important? What does it say about His attitude toward us? � Who are the “sick” ones Jesus referred to in verse 17? � Why was it surprising that Jesus called on Levi to follow Him? � Do you see yourself as sick or well? Why is it better to admit our sickness? � Do you regularly confess your sins to God, asking for His mercy and forgiveness and admitting your need for Him? Those who are privileged to grow up with Christian parents in Christian churches often forget the truth taught in today’s lesson. If we have received salvation through Jesus Christ, we need to remember that we have done nothing to deserve it. In fact, Jesus came to us because we were sick and sinful. He came because we needed healing and forgiveness. Every person on earth needs one thing from Jesus—mercy. Remembering this should keep Christians humble and grateful. We should see non-Christians with compassion, since we are dependent on the same mercy. Jesus did not only come for people who are moral, popular, athletic, or smart, for there is no one who is righteous (Rom. 3:10). He came to show His love and His mercy to sinners like us, no matter what our background. He reaches out to the least deserving— to the people like us, like you. He loves you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done.
Read Luke 19:1-10, stopping to think about verse 10. � Why was it a big deal that Jesus spent time with Zacchaeus, a tax collector? � Do you know people who seem unlikely to be saved? How would you use this passage to counsel a friend who feels too sinful to follow Jesus? � What was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth? � Why is it important that Jesus stayed focused on His purpose? Jesus never ceases to amaze us in the way He interacted with people. He refused to let the world influence the way He acted. In today’s passage, the crowd complained when Jesus went to stay with a sinful tax collector. After all, why would Jesus associate with someone who got his money by cheating others? The fact of the matter is that we are just like Zacchaeus. While we may not be rich or cheat people out of money, we too have sin that needs to be forgiven. As sinners, all of us need the salvation that only Jesus gives. He knows the particular sins in our own lives, yet He extends grace. After we receive this grace, we should feel compelled to extend it to others. The good news is that no matter how sinful and lost a person may be, Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And His purpose is now our purpose. ec magazine jul 2009 | 25
Build on what you have lea rned this week by reading the following passages: John 17:1-3 Isaiah 53:1-12 Philippians 2:5-11 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Prayers, thoughts, & questions:
Betsy Ross: Fact or Fiction? Some historians doubt her role in creating the first flag; others say it’s true. We may never know the full story. Consider what we do know:
The War of 1812 actually ended in 1815. Andrew Jackson became an American hero during the war when he led troops to victory in New Orleans.
© istockphoto / david h. lewis
His Father’s Son
fun miscellaneous statue of andrew jackson in jackson square, new orleans © istockphoto
journal: Week of July 12
� She did sew a flag. Betsy Ross was a seamstress in Philadelphia. Legend and affidavits from her family say that she was visited by a small flag committee (including George Washington) in June 1776 and asked to sew the nation’s flag. No invoices or concrete proof exist, but we do know from records that were maintained that Ross did indeed sew flags during that time period. � Congress didn’t adopt a flag until later. An official flag design wasn’t adopted until July 1777, but the wording of that resolution is very unspecific. It appears that Congress was adopting a design already recognized as the national symbol. For more info on the debate, visit http://www. ushistory.org/betsy/index.html.
facts about freedom songs
is a prayerful song often sung at sporting events and has gained in popularity since the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Berlin, who was Jewish, wrote the song while serving in the U.S. Army. He decided to give royalties from the song to a fund called The God Bless America Fund, which in turn distributed the money to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The song was first performed by singer Kate Smith on Armistice Day 1938, and quickly became her signature song. Berlin’s song is sometimes preferred over the more musically complex “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Known > 7/18
erson of the Trinity to whom we Jesus. For many of us, He may be the P like to be human, to walk on this it’s find easiest to relate. He knows what t. He is the only way to salvation earth and dream, hope, plan, and doub ving our own misconceptions belie and, sometimes, we find ourselves s have this week’s devotions about Christ. So, what misconception lessons caused you to think ’s revealed to you? How have this week us? t Jes differently abou affect the way you share the gospel � How might your new understanding way you relate to Jesus? with others? How will this affect the d to submit to the Lordship of faile you � What things in your life have to submit them this week? Jesus Christ? What steps will you take that Jesus was only a good claim rs � How will you respond when othe this week assure us that He is so moral teacher? What passages from much more? you must somehow earn Jesus’ � How have you allowed the idea that relationship with Him? What steps your love and affection to creep into grace and trust Him at His word? will you take this week to rest in His
To have a relationship with someone, you have to spend time with him or her. How much time do you spend with Jesus?
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Song: “The Star-Spangled Banner” written: in 1814 (as a poem) by Francis Scott Key Facts: Key wrote his poem during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, a
key battle in the War of 1812. Key, a lawyer, had been working with the British for the release of a prisoner. He was successful, but the British feared Key had heard their battle plans, and forced him and others to wait out the bombardment aboard a ship downstream from Fort McHenry, where the battle raged. When he saw the American flag flying proudly above the fort on the morning of September 14, 1814, he knew that America had not surrendered. He wrote the poem on an envelope in his pocket!
If you want a deeper relationship with Christ, a good way to start is by reading His Word. Follow our suggestions and you’ll read through the Bible in a year.
• Nehemiah 7–Job 3 • Acts 7–10:48
Song: “America the Beautiful” Written: in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates Facts: Bates was an English professor at Wellesley College. In 1893,
she took a train out to Colorado Springs, Colo., to teach a summer school session. As she rode from the East Coast to Colorado, the sights inspired her. She wrote a poem about everything she saw, and it was first published in 1895. The preferred tune is one written by Samuel Ward and published as a hymn called “Materna.” That tune was first applied to Bates’ poem in 1904. Ward had passed away in 1903, though, so he never knew the renown his music would one day achieve. Many have lobbied Congress to elevate the song to the status of national hymn or even to serve as the national anthem, equal to or in place of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
If you’re a baseball fan, you’re probably gearing up for the MLB’s All Star game. This year, the 80th All Star game will be played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., on July 14. This will be the fifth time the game has been played in St. Louis, though the last time was in 1966 the first season that the Cardinals played in old Busch Stadium. Will your favorite baseball player be among the All Stars? Let’s hope! ec magazine jul 2009 | 27
© istockphoto / valerie loiseleux
Song: “God Bless America” Written: in 1918 by Irving Berlin and revised by him in 1938 Facts: Known as the unofficial national anthem, “God Bless America”
photos by Scott Greenwalt
Community by Jennifer Denning
o back in time to the year A.D. 420. A Syrian monk at that time decided to live out his faith in God by isolating himself from the rest of the world. Other people have done this throughout history; we refer to them as hermits. But Simeon—who became known as Saint Simeon Stylites or Simeon the elder—took the idea of isolation to what we might call the extreme. He chose to live away from people, perched atop a pillar, at first 6 feet tall, later extended to about 50 feet. There he resided for 39 years, exposed to the weather, sitting or standing in a small space where only a railing prevented him from falling to his death. His only access to the world around him was a ladder, which his followers used to bring him just enough food to survive.1 Reflecting on the way Simeon lived his life, you’ve got to admire his discipline and self-denial. This guy took his faith seriously and sacrificed radically to show his dedication to God. Still, you have to wonder if his extreme devotion was a little misguided. His example raises the question, “Does God really intend for His people to live unto themselves, all alone?” The words of Scripture indicate otherwise.
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God’s Design for Us:
building community in your life: • Get involved in a church. We’re not talking about getting your name on the membership list. We’re talking about serving, getting to know people, and getting involved in ministry. You cannot read the New Testament and come away with the idea that being an active part of a church body is not important. It is! (continued on page 29.)
Nineteenth-century poet John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island.” He went on to describe people as parts of a continent, all interconnected. Just as Europe becomes smaller when a mere clod of its land washes out to sea, so each of us is diminished, he said, by the death of any individual. We are part of the whole and belong to each other.2 This analogy accurately portrays God’s intent for His people. From the moment God created the first man, He declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Even God Himself is one in three. The three Persons of the Trinity— God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit—exist in relationship with one another. Made in His image, we too are meant to live in relationship with others. Before His death, Jesus prayed for His followers that they might be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11). The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes echoes the idea that people need each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 says: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?” This concept of living in community with others, particularly with other believers, is fleshed out in New Testament teachings about how Christians make up the body of Christ. Like the various parts of our physical bodies,
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we are interdependent; we need each other (1 Cor. 12:12-26). We are to be concerned for each other. When one of us suffers, that suffering should bring pain to the rest. When one of us receives some honor, everyone in the body should be glad about it. Within the body, we all have different spiritual gifts, like teaching, preaching, or serving, to name a few. These are given by God so His people can work together to build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13). As members of Christ’s body, we are instructed to love one another deeply and to serve one another (1 Pet. 1:22; 4:8-10), to carry each others’ burdens and to help those caught in sin (Gal. 6:1-2). God’s design for the community of believers is that we be a support network, an accountability system, a team, and a family. His intention is that we do life together, not alone.
What Community Looks Like:
Sharing During the 1960s, a phenomenon of American culture was the commune. In communes, people (your grandparents call them hippies) lived together in groups, sharing all their resources. Their way of life was aimed at rejecting materialism and getting back to nature.3 But communes neither originated nor ended with hippies. They have been present throughout history in different cultures, and there was an element of communal life in the early church. Acts 2:42-47 describes the early church life as one in which members held their possessions in common, sharing with one another and selling what they owned to help those among them in need. They met together daily for meals, fellowship, teaching, and prayer. Living in community with other believers today doesn’t necessarily mean sharing all property. But it certainly does demand a willingness to share with those among us in need. It also involves hospitality—opening not just our homes but our hearts and lives to one another. That means being transparent, or real, with others, sharing and caring about what’s going on in our lives. Living in community also means being inclusive. Galatians 3:27-28 says, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God welcomes all who receive Christ into His family. No one is excluded,
and no one is inferior. The community of God’s family is not a private club, and it is not designed to be divided into cliques. In an article for Brio magazine, Christian singer/songwriter Brandon Heath talked, among other things, about his own experience of living in community with other Christians. When seven guys moved next door to him, Brandon and his new neighbors started a community of sorts on their block by holding a Wednesday night group. They started working together to serve their neighborhood. What began as a small group attracted others and grew to the point that it became difficult to find a parking spot on Brandon’s street. Asked to describe what true community is, Brandon replied: “True community is being broken in front of each other and realizing how equally we need Jesus. Hearing what Jesus is doing in each other’s lives is so encouraging. Real community is serving together, being humble together, serving each other, and being available. I think it’s providing for the needs of others, period.”4
Where Community Begins:
You If you are a believer, you’re part of God’s family and a member of the Christian community. There’s more to doing life together than just putting your name on the roll at your local church. Meeting regularly with other believers for worship and fellowship is part of living in community. Hebrews 10:25 urges Christians not to give up meeting together but rather to encourage one another more and more as the day of Jesus’ return approaches. Living in community also means working to build relationships with other Christians outside of regular meeting times. Connecting with others this way doesn’t just happen by itself. You can’t always wait for others to approach you to initiate relationships. The person who lives out his or her faith in community is one who reaches out to others. That could mean asking someone new at church to hang out with you or it could mean sharing what’s hurting you with your Sunday School class instead of trying to carry that burden alone. Living in community means you recognize that you belong to a body that includes all believers—those of different cultures, races, denominations, and so forth. Your community reaches across the globe to believers in Africa and India and China;
Living in community means you recognize that you belong to a body that includes all believers. so should your concern. It means you understand your connection to believers of all ages in your own church and live in relationship to them, treating all with respect and compassion. That might mean you take time to stop and speak to an elderly gentleman sitting alone at church or volunteer to help care for the kids in the nursery. Living in community means you keep your circle of friends open, rejecting cliques and inviting in newcomers. It’s been said that this life is just a dress rehearsal for the main event, which is spending eternity with God in heaven. Our time here on earth is miniscule compared to the never-ending existence we will enjoy after this life. But consider this: heaven will not be a lonely, isolated place. The Bible describes it as a home where throngs of believers from the whole world throughout human history will live together united by our love for and worship of God. It only makes sense then, if we are going to spend all of eternity together with other Christians, that we learn to live in community with them here on earth. Once we learn to give and receive encouragement, work together for a common purpose, and share our joys and sorrows by living in community, we may feel that we’ve found a little bit of heaven . . . right here on earth. ec Sources: 1. “Saint Simeon Stylites,” Encyclopedia Britannica [online], cited 6 February 2009. Available from the Internet: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/ topic/545077/Saint-Simeon-Stylites. 2. John Donne, “XVII. Meditation,” The Literature Network [online], cited 6 February 2009. Available from the Internet: http://www.online-literature.com/ donne/409/. 3. Judy Keen, “Thriving communes no haven for ‘deadbeats,’” USA Today [online], 29 August 2007 [cited 6 February 2009]. Available from the Internet: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-28communes_N.htm. 4. Gina Rossing, “From Songwriter to Singer,” Brio Magazine [online], 2006 [cited 6 February 2009]. Available from the Internet: http://www.briomag. com/briomagazine/entertainment/a0007123.html.
• Find a community group at church. It may be your Sunday School class or a small group sponsored by the church. It may be people who speak God’s truth into your life. Share life together and make an effort. • Community isn’t just a church thing. God has left us in the world for a reason, and often, the best way for people to come to faith in Christ is through relationships with those of us who profess Him as Lord and Savior and actually live out our faith. Your whole life, not just one little part of it, should be about serving God and bringing glory to Him.
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we e k of J uly 19
by Jennifer Denning
Nick is an eighth grader in Raleigh, N.C., who attends public school. He knows very few professing Christians in his school but has found community in connecting with other believers in his church. Nick has attended church all his life. He became a Christian when he was 7 years old. Here’s what he said about what it means to him to live in community when ec magazine writer Jennifer Denning recently took the opportunity to talk with him. JD: Nick, what are some ways you connect with other believers? NICK: My church is small, and so is my youth group. Because our church is small, I’ve gotten to know everyone there pretty well. I have relationships not only with other teenagers but also with adults as well as kids younger than me. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the adults by going out to eat with them after church and talking to them. I can 30 | jul 2009 ec magazine
relate to them a lot because the things they talk about I like to talk about, too. With the kids younger than me, I have already been where they are now, so I can understand them. JD: Why is it important to you to have close relationships with other Christians? How would your life be different if you didn’t have those relationships?
JD: Give an example of how have other believers have helped you. NICK: When my grandfather died last year, my youth leader encouraged me and helped me get through it. He came to visit me and attended the funeral. He talked to me about it at youth group. Also, another leader at my church took some of us young people through a video series about the creationist theory of the earth’s origin and taught us about apologetics [defending our faith]. It really prepared me for all the teaching of science material that conflicts with my faith at school. It helped me stand up for what I believe at school. JD: How have you helped other believers in your community? Can you give an example? NICK: A friend in my youth group also lost one of her grandparents this past year. When my friend’s grandmother died, I tried to comfort her. JD: What advice would you give to a teen who wants to connect with other believers but doesn’t know how? What could that person do to build solid relationships with fellow Christians? NICK: Try to connect with people and work to become friends with people at your church. Just be yourself and don’t try to be all good and different just because you’re at church. If you do that, people will grow to know you as someone you aren’t really. ec
Photos this section: © istockphoto / juan estey, tania oloy, viorika prikhodko, gina addison, & brandon laufenberg
© istockphoto / jacob wackerhausen
NICK: If I didn’t have those relationships, I would probably get in trouble a lot more at school. They provide an example for me. Even if there are kids at my school who don’t do the right thing, the people at my church help me out and show me what I should be doing. They have a positive influence on me.
Substance Guidance counselor. Career counselor. abuse counselor. nsel. When king cou You live in a society that is always see “counselors”— our we don’t know what to do, we turn to ional therapists. fess pro es, etim som friends, family, and problem. At times,
to fix the We want to know what to do or how and counsel—a guide, adviser, n liste will who e you just want someon figure out what to do and mentor, that person who will help you is. step t discuss what the nex tell you what to do. A good A good counselor, though, doesn’t justlem and guides you to prob counselor helps to shed light on the ors don’t leave you alone in the nsel cou best The . sion deci t the righ you. They guide, but you have to situation, but they also don’t coddle be willing to make the effort. e in the middle of this Life is hard. But God didn’t leave us alon it, our Guide and CounSpir y Hol messy life. As believers, we have the Spirit lives within you, guiding selor. If you are a believer, God’s own lighting the steps of your life. you, giving you wisdom and power, and do God’s work. The Holy Spirit is It’s the Holy Spirit that enables you to your Friend, your Counselor. de, at work in your daily life as your Gui ec magazine jul 2009 | 31
Streams 1 Monday > 7/20 Sometimes, you don’t of living have to say anything. water
“The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” —John 7:38 Read John 7:37-39. n The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy searches the land of Oz tirelessly for the wizard, whom she hopes will help her get home. When the wizard proves to be a phony, Dorothy sobs desperately, fearing she will never get home. Only then does she discover that she has had the power to get home all along. However, it isn’t Dorothy who has the power; it’s her red shoes. Discovering this truth, she smiles serenely and clicks her heels together, uttering those famous words, “There’s no place like home.” Sometimes, we act just like Dorothy. We search tirelessly for something to take away the dry and empty feeling inside, but we can’t find anything to satisfy us. Good grades, a new car, or going on our dream date don’t change the way we feel. We may even begin to feel desperate, thinking our soul’s thirstiness will never be quenched. If we’re Christians, we don’t need to look any further than inside ourselves for streams of living water to quench our spiritual thirst. No, we don’t possess these streams ourselves any more than Dorothy possessed the power to get herself home. The Holy Spirit, who lives inside us, causes streams of living water to flow from deep within us. The living water we so desperately crave has already been given to us. Jesus has sent the Helper, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit Himself to live within us and give us everything we need. When we drink of His living water, we never have to be thirsty again.
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Weekend > 7/19
ave you ever had a conversation that left you speechless? Perhaps someone said something so incredibly rude that you couldn’t believe what you just heard. Maybe you received the terrible news that someone you loved had just died. Whatever it was, you had no comeback. You might not have even been able to think straight, let alone push intelligible words out of your mouth. Sometimes, you might feel like that when you pray. During those times, the Holy Spirit is faithfully bringing your deepest pains before the Father. And He isn’t using words, either.
“I believe in the surprises of the Ho —L.J. Suenens ly Spirit.”
In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. —Romans 8:26 Read Romans 8:12-27 and spend extra time considering verse 26. � What does the author, Paul, think about our present sufferings? � Do you agree with him? Why or why not? � What do you think is the weakness Paul refers to in verse 26? � Do you ever lack the words to pray? When? � How does it make you feel to know that even when you don’t know how to approach God, you are still being prayed for by God Himself? You don’t have to get it all together to come to God. You don’t have to sound spiritual or use big words. You don’t even have to use words at all. It is perfectly fine to just sit before God and sob or simply utter that amazingly powerful word—help. In those moments, the Holy Spirit brings our painful, hopeless situation before the Father, praying in ways deeper than we can imagine, always perfectly aligned with God’s will. Our God is completely faithful, not only to hear our prayers, but to actually voice them for us in our times of need.
When you can’t say the words, the Holy Spirit can. Let Him.
surprised. ec magazine jul 2009 | 33
Tuesday > 7/21
You are not alone.
t had been an amazing ride for the disciples, spending every day with Jesus. They’d hung out together, witnessed amazing miracles, and reveled in the pleasure of asking Jesus anything they wanted to know. Then, Jesus told them He was going back to the Father. This was actually going to be a good thing, though, because the Holy Spirit was coming. The Holy Spirit, whom they couldn’t see or touch. The disciples had to be longing to keep Jesus with them, but it wouldn’t happen. But it would be for their benefit, or so Jesus said.
Read John 16:5-11. Ponder verse 8. � Why will the Counselor convict the world about sin? About righteousness? Judgment? � How have you experienced each of these convictions in your life? � How would Jesus’ absence benefit the disciples? � Why do you think Jesus considers having the Spirit a benefit? � Has God ever allowed a blessing to be taken from you, only to replace it with something better? How did it affect your relationship with Him?
He will “When He comes, ab out rld wo e th ict conv d an , ss ne sin, righteous :8 16 n oh —J t.” en judgm When the Holy Spirit lives within us, we get to have a one-on-one running conversation with God. No one else’s prayers ever interrupt ours. We have a personal mentor to explain God’s Word to us, and when we step out of His will, He immediately lets us know. He continues to keep us in check, not because He’s out to get us, but because He loves us and wants a healthy, growing relationship with us.
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The Holy Spirit wants to talk to you. Are you listening?
You can hear him now.
f you were invited to a Bible study where you thought the Holy Spirit would show up in a powerful way, would you go? Some people wouldn’t want to miss it, while others would stay away at all costs. Perhaps they’re afraid, or they doubt that the Holy Spirit’s power is alive and active. What do you think? What happens when He shows up?
emember playing “GOSSIP” when you were a kid? Usually, the end result was so different from the original message that it was barely recognizable because someone paraphrased, couldn’t remember what they’d been told, or just made up another message to be funny. The Holy Spirit passes messages from God the Father to us, but He never gets them wrong or changes them around just to mess with us. When He speaks to our hearts, we can be sure we’re hearing exactly what the Father intends to say to us.
Read John 16:12-15 and focus on verse 13. � What will the Spirit of truth do when He comes? � How do you think this happens? � How will the Spirit glorify the Father? � What truth has the Holy Spirit given you from the Father recently? The next time you open God’s Word, sit through a sermon at church, or even listen to your favorite music, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand God’s truth. He never intended for you to have to figure it out on your own. You have your own personal tutor available every moment of the day, but you can choose whether or not to call for His help or pay attention to His voice. It can be frustrating and confusing trying to recognize the Holy’s Spirit’s voice, but don’t give up. Ask Him to help you hear Him better. And keep practicing. The closer you pay attention and the longer you listen, the better you will become at identifying His voice. He wants you to recognize it. He wants to talk with you.
Friday > 7/24
Speak up! I
Wednesday > 7/22
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not spe ak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He you what is to come.” —John 16:13 will also declare to
How can you use your gifts for God? Thursday > 7/23
You have gifts. Use them.
hat are you really good at? You’ve probably heard that God gave you that talent or ability, but if you are a Christian, there’s more. God has given you at least one special gift for the purpose of benefiting the church. Just like how only your fingers know exactly where to scratch that itch on your head or how your nose is vital to breathing in the air your body needs to survive, the gift(s) given to you help out the church, the body of Christ, in a unique way. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, stopping to read verse 7 aloud a few times. � From where do believers’ gifts come? Are there any exceptions? � For what purpose does God give gifts to believers? A manifestation of the � How do you honestly feel about Spirit is given to each believers who are really different person to produce what from you? What might need to is beneficial. change about your attitude toward —1 Corinthians 12:7 others? � What does God say about these people and their gifts? � What special ability has God given you? � How can you use that ability to benefit the church? Do you know how God has gifted you? The same Holy Spirit who prays for you with groaning too deep for words, the Spirit who knows you better than you know yourself, has personally placed something in you. It’s alright if you haven’t figured out what that is yet, but it’s not too early to begin trying. Check out some different places to serve in your church. Make a list of things you’re good at and like to do. Ask people who know you well what gifts they see in you. Above all, pray. Ask God to help you discover what special gifts He has placed within you for the benefit of the church.
When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. —Acts 4:31 Read Acts 4:29-31. Consider how you would have felt had you been present in verse 31. � What were the threats these Christians faced? Look over Acts 4 if you’re not sure. � What threats, either real or imagined, keep you from speaking about Jesus boldly? � How did these Christians respond to the threats they faced (v. 29)? � Why do you think they didn’t ask God to remove the threats? � How do you think they knew the Holy Spirit had come upon them? Does this sound scary to you? Why or why not? Perhaps you’re in a difficult situation at home or school. You might be tempted to ask God to take you out of it. Sometimes, that does need to happen, but perhaps God wants to give you strength, through His Spirit, to speak about Jesus boldly in the midst of difficulty. He just might change the lives of those around you through the bold words He empowers you to speak. Next time you find your faith threatened, ask Him for boldness to speak His truth. ec magazine jul 2009 | 35
� � Counselor journal: Week of July 19
t the third Person of the Trinity, you’ve spent this week learning abou often the most ignored member is t the Holy Spirit. Frankly, the Holy Spiri erious and difficult for us to of the Trinity, since He is by nature myst a daily part of your life if you and understand. But the Holy Spirit is real attentive to His leading in more me beco you do are a Christian. So how Holy Spirit affect your life? the t abou your life? How can this week’s truths Holy Spirit. Do you ignore Him? Do � Think about your response to the d Him? Do you obey Him? Do you rstan you appreciate Him? Do you unde know Him? make sense to you about the Holy � What is something that still doesn’t y last thing to believe? ever d rstan unde to Spirit? Do you have experienced the Holy Spirit’s ly onal � Make a list of times when you pers caused God’s Word to come alive, presence. Perhaps He comforted you, age in a difficult situation. mess s or gave you boldness to speak God’ t for His intimate presence in Spiri Holy the king than er � Write out a pray your life.
life in your own words
Prayers, thoughts, & questions:
By Sheryl Pang• via e-mail
Best friends come and go, but Jesus stays, this I know. He is there when you don't understand. Put Him down and blame Him; Firm will He stand. He loves you beyond all compare, even when you are unfair. Jesus will never leave nor forsake; His love for you will never shake. Jesus died for you and me; Jesus died so we could be free. I don't deserve Him, no one does. He will always love all of us. Never let the Devil break you down. Just remember who wore that crown. Lay your crown at His feet. Jesus is strong and can't be beat.
To learn more about the Holy Spirit, read the following: Luke 12:11-12 John 14:25-26 Acts 1:8 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 4:29-32
The Holy Spirit isn’t just your conscience. He is God in you. Pay attention when He speaks.
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© istockphoto / jill fromer
One of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us grow in faith is to open our understanding of Scripture. Let Him work in your life as you read God’s Word. Follow our suggestions, and you’ll read through the Bible in one year.
• Job 4–28 • Acts 11–16:15
Jesus died for you and me; Jesus died so we could be free. ec magazine jul 2009 | 37
fun random notes
Snippets & Soundbites By the quirky and über-talented ec team
Featuring: doughnut runs, ridiculously long ear hair, kissing bans, crime-stopping wedgies, and hand-knit sweaters for balding chickens!
things to remember this 4th of July:
Don’t jump over lit fireworks
As fun as it may look, it’s not smart.
Watch the Mayo
Fun run or Yum run? Ever get Hungry during your run? Just try the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh, N.C. During this race, more than 5,000 runners jog 2 miles to the local Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts each, and then jog back to North Carolina State University, where the race begins. And they all do it in less than an hour. Back in 2004, the event started as dare among some college friends. This year, the event raised more than $35,000 for charity. Unfortunately, the participants consumed more calories than they burned in this race. Twelve Krispy Kreme doughnuts contain 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat. And running 4 miles only burns about 400 calories. Oh, but who cares? These folks got in a run, a meal, and raised money for a good cause. Not a bad deal.
Wedgies:crimefighting secret? Yes, they’re uncomfortable, and we don’t advocate you giving them to your little brother or sister. But a wedgie was the only thing that stopped 38 | jul 2009 ec magazine
a man who’d tried to break into a car in Salt Lake City, Utah. A woman saw him attempting to break into her coworker’s car and chased the guy. She caught up to him, but he was a squirmer who kept nearly getting away from her. That is, until she gave him a forceful wedgie and put him in a headlock. Needless to say, he stayed very still until the cops were able to get there and arrest him. We bet he’s regretting ever thinking about stealing THAT car!
You wouldn’t want to get sick, so ask yourself (or your host) how long something’s been without refrigeration.
Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Fly a flag, wear red, white, and blue, paint your face, or whatever. Let people know you’re proud to be an American!
As men get older, the hair on their heads slows its growth. Meanwhile, the hair in their ears and noses continues to grow.
Turtle gets fake flippers After a shark attack left “Lu” the loggerhead turtle with severe injuries to her forelimbs, Japanese scientists have fitted her with new prosthetic ones. While her swimming capabilities are only up to 60 percent of a healthy turtle her size, researchers are hopeful about her recovery. Erika Akai, a researcher at the nonprofit Sea Turtle Association of Japan said, “She should eventually be able to lay eggs on a beach.” They’re trying to get her strong enough to actually climb up to the beach after swimming there.
You’re fortunate to live in the USA. Thank a veteran for his or her service to our country. You have a lot of freedom as an American citizen, but even more as a child of God! Thank Him for it.
The most miles ever run in 24 hours on a treadmill. (Record set by Arulanantham Suresh Joachim in Canada.)
Radhakant Baijpai claims his 10-inch ear hair has brought him luck and prosperity. The 58-year-old Indian grocer has been growing out the hair in his ears since age 18, and he has never taken scissors to the bushy masses protruding from his ears. Baijpai takes special care of his ear hair, washing it with a specially formulated herbal shampoo (aren’t we glad to hear that he washes it!) and making sure to not
If you’re in England, don’t bother referring to that warm shirt of yours as a “sweater.” They call it a “jumper.”
Mind the lip Kissing banned in British train station In an Effort to speed up commute times, couples are no longer allowed to kiss at the train station in Warrington, UK (about 3.5 hours northwest of London). While the public thinks the new “no kissing” signs are a little silly, city officials say the ordinance is more of a reminder to not hold up the lines.
wear rings so that he doesn’t accidentally catch and rip out some of the hair. His wife has asked him to cut the ear hair, but he never has. And now that he’s the Guinness World Record holder for longest ear hair, she’s quit asking him about it. She said she knows it’s a source of pride for him. But the sheer amount of hair protruding from this guy’s ears makes one wonder if he ever heard her ask him to cut it in the first place.
People Are Talking You live in a world that tells you a lot of lies— about yourself, what matters, and how you should look or act. See what some celebs had to say about that recently.
“People say, ‘It’s part of being famous,’ but I didn’t want that. I wanted to be a singer. I’m probably lying when I say that. I did want to be famous, but I didn’t realize what famous was. I thought fame just meant ‘Everyone will love me.’” —Lily Allen, Spin, February 2009, pg. 46.
Yep, you read that correctly. We want to interview YOU! Here’s the deal: we love to hear from our readers. When we get to hang out with you at focus groups, you make us laugh, help us to see this world through your eyes, and give us reason to celebrate that God didn’t make us all with the same personalities and talents.
Cut your hair!
So, we’re trying to find out more about our readers with the ec Reader Five-Minute Interview. We ask a few simple questions; you answer them. Then, we print them here. Look for the Reader Five-Minute Interview thread on our page on Facebook or check out the link on the blog at http://ecmagazine.blogspot.com. Stop by soon!
Take your ec somewhere that makes you happy and take a picture. Then, send it our way. Use the link on our blog!
“I definitely took my hits, and I definitely got punished for the bad things I did. And you know what? Some of those I deserved. Having been given a second, third, whatever chance, I don’t think that’s being a magician. Maybe it’s about having an absolute blind faith in a higher power. Maybe there’s something I’m supposed to do that I haven’t done, and that’s why I keep getting chances.” —Actress Shannen Doherty, Radar, October/ November 2008, p. 64.
Featherless chickens get hand-knitted sweaters Rescuer calls on community to knit for 1500 rescued fowl Lucky hens end up at the Little Hen Rescue Centre in Norwich, UK, where Jo Eglin takes in hens deemed poor egg layers by the farms where they lived and layed. Saving them from certain death, Jo noticed that many of the hens were so stressed out by the large farms where they had lived that they lost their feathers. So Eglin called on anyone who knew how to knit to start making sweaters for the 1500-member brood. The chickens are naked no more!
The Buzz Dates you don’t want to miss in July: July 1: Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day July 4: Independence Day July 7: Chocolate Day (as if Feb. 14 wasn’t enough for this food!) July 11: Cheer Up the Lonely Day July 17: On this day in 1790, Washington D.C. was established as our nation’s capital. July 22: Hammock Day July 27: T ake Your Pants for a Walk Day (Hmm. OK?!) July 30: National Cheesecake Day (yes, please!)
Overheard: • Former dcTalk member Michael Tait joined the newsboys, replacing Peter Furler as their lead singer. He performed with the group for the first time on March 7, 2009. • Remedy Drive will be playing the Cornerstone Festival this month in Bushnell, Ill. For more info, check out page 46 or visit www.cornerstonefestival.com. • Talk of BarlowGirl and Everyday Sunday releasing new albums sometime this summer.
Next month in ec: Articles on living with purpose this school year, pursuing God’s will, an interview with Henry Blackaby about hearing God, time management and organization tips, DVD reviews, and five weeks of devotions about pursuing God and His will. ec magazine jul 2009 | 39
mmings by Michael Cu
40 | jul 2009 ec magazine
© istockphoto / matthew hertel
f r a great deal o a e h ’t n o w u o is Y afeteria, but it c l o o h sc e th rd in nes about that wo . Webster defi y it n ia st conversation ri h C f nt o ant compone it as three a very import , and Holy Spir n o S 1 he r, e th a F f unity o ian dogma.” T st ri h C to Trinity as “the g in cord is e Godhead ac hile a “dogma” w , d o G f o persons in on re tu na d” refers to the le. term “Godhea group of peop in a rt e c a y b be true a belief held to
If you’re confused about the Trinity, then you are in good company. The early Christian fathers struggled with this concept for hundreds of years before they drew the conclusion that Yahweh was the three-in-one God. The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of our faith. It is hard to wrap our three-and-a-half-pound brain around this concept. One of the reasons it is difficult is that no solid examples of this can be found in the natural world. However, this has not stopped us from trying to understand God’s nature. I have heard examples all of my life, such as the one that compares the Trinity to water. Water can have three forms—liquid, gas, and solid, yet all of these forms come from the same substance. This is a really good effort, but it falls short. God the Father had a relationship with the Son and the Spirit, and this is where things get tricky with the water example. First of all, water cannot have a relationship with anything because it is an inanimate object. Second, the human form is a bit more complicated than even water, not to mention how infinitely more complicated the nature of God as Father and Spirit is. Third, all three forms of water cannot co-exist for a sustained amount of time. If you don’t believe me, try putting ice into boiling water to see how long they co-exist. It is best not to try to explain the indescribable God we serve using this or any other analogy. The God we serve chose to reveal Himself to humanity throughout history as three distinct Persons, and yet He is One. We do not worship three gods. God tells us so when He gave Moses these words to speak: “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). How can this be? The answer is simple: we don’t know how it can be true, but we know that it is true because the Word of God is true. The Scripture provides much evidence which confirms that, throughout time, the three Persons of the Trinity have co-existed (Gen. 1:26, Gen. 3:22, Gen. 11:7, Isa. 6:8, Matt. 3:16-17, Luke 4:14, John 1:1-2, and 1 Cor. 2:10-11). These are just a few of the Scriptures in which the different Persons of the Trinity are interacting and co-existing. Some people might debate this topic, but even though the Bible is God’s Word and is true, not everyone holds to this view.
The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of our faith. It’s hard to wrap our three-and-a-half pound brain around it. So what evidence do we have that it is true? The evidence is in you! Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). In our world, people are constantly searching for heroes with supernatural abilities like Wolverine and Harry Potter. However, we have the Hero the world really needs. He is the One and only true Hero. He is the Triune God who lives in each and every one of us who call ourselves Christians. If you want to prove to the world that God exists and that His Word is true, then simply let the God who resides within you out into the world. Show His love, mercy, and grace to a world that is desperate for a real hero. If you do this, you will give the world a small glimpse of the indescribable God we serve. ec 1. “Trinity,” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
© istockphoto / tim mccaig
: e l b a b i r c s e d n I The Trinity
ec magazine jul 2009 | 41
Understanding the Trinity by Michael Cummings
Problem: This analogy breaks down from the beginning, because each circle is never really in the whole. Also, if they are taken apart, they are separate and have nothing that connects them back to the original symbol.
The arm analogy:
This analogy emphasizes three parts of the arm: the shoulder, the elbow, and the hand. All of these different parts function as a part of the whole arm, but each has different task to complete.
© istockphoto / Denise Bentley
Problem: If you take an elbow out of the arm, the function of the arm is hampered. Also, the elbow in and of itself is not an arm; it is simply a part from the arm. And once again, there is not interpersonal relationship between the different parts of the arm.
The Trinity is by no means an easy concept to understand. That’s why believers have employed various analogies throughout the years as they attempt to wrap their brains around the concept of a God who is Three-in-One. So let’s take some time to consider a few of those analogies and discuss their limitations. The one-person analogy:
One person takes on many different roles throughout their lifetime such as father, son, and husband. Problem: Although the different roles are covered here, the interaction 42 | jul 2009 ec magazine
between the three could not happen unless the individual liked talking to himself.
Three-leaf clover analogy:
A three-leaf clover has three parts, but it is only one clover. Problem: Each leaf is only part of the clover, and, if taken apart, each part does not represent the whole clover. Also, the clover is impersonal and does not have the complex personality interaction found in the Trinity.
The three interlacing circles analogy:
We have all seen this symbol for the trinity.
The tree analogy:
This analogy emphasizes three parts of the tree: the roots, the trunk, and the branches. All of these parts are said to make up the whole tree, and all have different functions within the tree. Problem: These different parts have a similar problem with all of the previous examples. They are only a part of the tree, and, when separated from the tree, they are not considered a tree. And yet again, we see the lack of the interpersonal and complex personality relationship contained in the Trinity.
There are no perfect analogies that can be used to represent the complex, amazing, and indescribable God we serve. The analogies we’ve listed are all imperfect because we can’t describe a God we can’t fully understand. To me this isn’t a disappointment. If we could explain the great God we serve with words found through human wisdom, just how big of a God would He be? ec
god campus connection Bible Studies You Can Use • By Maria Nuguid
Father ead and study Micah R 6:6-8.
How can people tell you’re related to someone? By the obvious resemblance. More than your words, people will know you are God’s child if you act like Him.
• Read Micah 6:6a. Do you ever get confused over what God wants of you? Why? • Micah reminds us of what God requires in verse 8. List the things he said God requires. • What does it mean to act justly? What does that look like today? • What are some examples of loving faithfulness? • What does it mean to “walk humbly” with God? How can we strive to do that today? • We dream of achieving big things for God. Micah’s list, however, is very practical. Which is harder to fulfill: big things or the day-to-day practical things? • God wants a heart response from us—not just a material offering. Why?
Making it personal:
When we truly know God, our hearts are changed to be like His. The evidence will be there: we spend time in His Word; we value what He values; we act accordingly. It’s important to note that Micah’s list is concerned with our daily walk with God. In your small group, list everyday ways you can apply Micah’s list. Pray together for opportunities to do these. Realize that God honors the obedience that prompts your actions, and He will continue to provide you with ways to glorify Him.
The Trinity. Personal Bible study should be a part of your Christian life, no doubt. But there’s also something to be said for talking about God’s Word with other believers. Maybe you’re part of a small group Bible study at your church, meet with a few Christian friends before school, or are involved in a Christian club at school. Think about using this month’s devotion themes to guide your study and discussion. We’ve provided some talking points and questions to guide your discussion or help you lead a devotion time.
His Father’s Son
Read and study Colossians 1:13-23; Matthew 16:15-16.
Why has Jesus’ reputation taken such a beating? Is He actually just a prophet or a good man from long ago? The Bible says Jesus is the exalted Son of God, and the only One who can make an eternal difference in our lives.
• Colossians 1:13 sums up what Christ did. Are you one of those who has been rescued and transferred? Explain. • Why is it important that Christ was involved in creation? • What does the passage in Colossians teach you about Christ’s divinity? • Colossians 1:15-20 lays out who Jesus is and what He did. Which action means the most to you?
• Read Matthew 16:15-16. If you were Peter, how would you answer? Why? • In Colossians 1:21-23, we see the need to continue in the faith. What does this entail?
Making it personal:
Peter’s admission of long ago still rings true today. Jesus is ultimately more than who the world thinks He is. He isn’t just a good teacher or a prophet who taught some worthwhile truths. He is the Christ, the Messiah, God in the flesh who calls us to a new way of life. We will know the awesome reality of His glorious presence when He returns. For now, He wants us to get busy introducing Him to our friends. He wants to touch their lives the same way He touched yours. Encourage your small group to share Jesus with a friend this week. Discuss ways you can do this. Remind yourselves of how Jesus called you into relationship with Him and discuss how God is working in your life today. Pray together, thanking Jesus for His sacrifice and continued presence in your lives. ec magazine jul 2009 | 43
Summer Movie Madness
campus connection god Bible Studies You Can Use • By Maria Nuguid
4 Too often, we make our faith about how we feel. The truth: faith really isn’t about you. It’s about God’s unchanging love; Jesus’ salvation through grace; the Holy Spirit’s presence.
• Read Galatians 5:22. The word “fruit” is singular, yet Paul listed several. Did Paul make a grammatical error? Explain. • Are the fruit of the Spirit Paul listed interconnected? How? • Do you think there is such a thing as a defeated Christian? Why? • How do you sometimes allow yourself to live as a defeated Christian? • What do these verses teach you about the Holy Spirit’s role in the Christian’s life? • Do you see any of these qualities in your life? Where? • How have you experienced the Holy Spirit developing these qualities in your life? • What qualities do you think the Holy Spirit is trying to grow and develop in you today? Why? How?
Face it. The Triune God is a mystery we’ll never resolve. But that doesn’t stop us from getting to know Him. Although unable to fully comprehend, we can be certain that all three Persons of the Trinity are lovingly involved in our lives.
This movie is a classic, but it’s long. Make watching it an event!
• Acts 7:51 describes those who resist the Holy Spirit as stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. What do you think this means? • When have you resisted the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life? What happened? • In verse 25, we are instructed to live by the Spirit. What does that mean? • Why is it important that God has given us the Holy Spirit as a guide?
Making it personal:
The Holy Spirit is available 24/7. He convicts us of sin and gifts us to do our part in God’s church. He is our comfort, encouragement, and faithful Friend. So think about it. Are you overwhelmed? Sound the alarm! Plug into the power that is waiting. The Holy Spirit will never turn you away. Spend some time in reflection. As a small group, discuss ways you allow the enemy to make you lose sight of the hope that is yours. Encourage each other through prayer.
• Read Genesis 1:26. Was God speaking to the same Persons present at the baptism in Luke 3:21-22? Explain. • Do these passages help you understand the Trinity? Explain. • Does it bother you that the Trinity is a mystery? Why or why not? • What role does faith play in believing the truth of the Trinity? • How does this affect how you relate with God?
highest grossing movies
Gone with the Wind (1939) Star Wars (1977) The Sound of Music (1965) 4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 5 The Ten Commandments (1956) 6 Titanic (1997) 7 Jaws (1975) 8 Doctor Zhivago (1965) 9 The Exorcist (1973) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
God loves you because He is love. It’s a mystery of mercy and grace that He wants a relationship with each one of us! 44 | jul 2009 ec magazine
ter and the ie season is in full swing. Harry Pot School July is here and the summer mov High a out with And release this month. ns in this alie on Half-Blood Prince is expected tothis take will ale Tisd ley Ash , mer sum see to ter Musical release on the horizon s. So thea the to out d before you hea month’s They Came from Upstairpiqued your interest, we thought it would be fun to whatever summer movies have stats about the silver screen and summer releases. take a look at some interesting
Read and study Galatians 5:22-25.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully God, and your body is His temple. And it’s true, to live by the Spirit is to bear fruit in the Spirit.
Read Genesis 1:26; Luke 3:21-22.
3 Counselor The gist:
by ec’s staff
While rated PG, this film is violent and includes questionable content and profanity. We don’t recommend you watch it.
This movie perennially tops lists of good movies. Know that it is very long and deals with adultery.
This is an emotional, fictional account of the doomed luxury liner. For a more historical look that’s less focused on sex, try A Night to Remember or Titanic: Death of a Dream.
This movie is full of ungodly content and themes. We do not recommend you watch it.
ically Stats are for movies released domest and adjusted for ticket price inflation.
Making it personal:
ec is very says: This movie offers little
What’s one more thing that unites the Triune God? You. Each Person of the Trinity loves you and longs to fulfill His part in your life. Reflect together in your small group. Do you really know God as Father? How is Jesus truly your Savior and Lord? Is the Holy Spirit actively at work in your life? We may not fully understand how the Trinity works. We may have more questions than answers, sometimes. But one thing is for sure. God loves us, and we need never question that. Pray together, understanding that you don’t have to have everything figured out to be a person of faith loved by God.
Top 10 movies
with best July 4
1 Spider-Man 2 (2004)
dark, hope, and portrays flawed heroes in a world that is falling apart at the seams. Don’t mistake us mentioning it here as endorsing the movie or its content!
2 War of the Worlds (2005)
3 Superman Returns (2006) 4 Men in Black II (2002) 5 Men in Black (1997)
6 Independence Day (1996) 7 Terminator 3: Rise of the
8 The Perfect Storm (2000) 9 Armageddon (1998)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
This movie is based on a true story. It is intense and full of peril, along with repeated misuse of God’s name.
Summer wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t include some sports movies. Here are a few of the American Film Institute’s favorite sports movies: • Hoosiers • The Pride of the Yankees • National Velvet
Top 10 movies
with the best summer
1 The Dark Knight (2008) 2 Spider-Man 3 (2007)
3 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead
Man’s Chest (2006)
This movie is darker and more intense than its predecessors. It pushes the truth that all people are valuable, but it is less clear on what tolerance and/or acceptance should look like. We’d suggest turning to Scripture for a more informed idea.
4 Shrek the Third (2007) 5 Spider-Man (2002)
6 Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World’s End (2007)
7 Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of
the Sith (2005)
8 Shrek 2 (2004)
9 X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of
the Crystal Skull (2008)
10. Mandy and Emily of the ec team spent were left wondering why theyseein g their money on a ticket aftertheater. this one in the
ec magazine jul 2009 | 45
Top 10 Ballparks 1 Wrigley Field Chicago Cubs
Top 10 Beaches 1 Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
3 Old Yankee Stadium New York Yankees (new stadium opened in 2009)
Watch for orca, humpback, and gray whales in Friday Harbor near Seattle. Don’t miss the opportunity to get a close up of these giant sea mammals!
2 Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii 3 Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida
4 Oriole Park at Camden Yards Baltimore Orioles 5 Coors Field Colorado Rockies
4 Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
Broadway in Bryant Park, New York City, NY
8 Ballpark at Arlington Texas Rangers
Can’t afford to see a Broadway show while in New York? Well, on Thursdays in Bryant Park, cast members perform snippets of Broadway shows. It is a free event! You can even pack a picnic lunch for these outdoor shows.
9 Dodgers Stadium Los Angeles Dodgers Safeco Stadium Seattle Mariners http://americasbestonline. net/baseball.htm
Remember the days when you begged to ride the carousel? Well, now you can see a collection of 300 antique carousels in one spot! It’s much better than spending five bucks on one ride at the mall.
Cornerstone Festival, June 29 July 4 • Bushnell, Illinois
5 Coronado Beach, San Diego, California 6 Main Beach, East Hampton, New York 7 Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Top 10 Most Visited National Parks
8 Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina 9 Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina http://www.drbeach. org/drbeach/best beach list 2008.htm
7 Turner Field Atlanta Braves
2 Fenway Park Boston Red Sox
Whale Watch Cruise, San Juan Island near Seattle, Washington
New England Carousel Museum, Bristol, Connecticut
6 Jacobs Field Cleveland Indians
1 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/ Tennessee
This is an impressive free zoo! It houses 5,000 animals including bears, penguins, big cats, antelope, and many more.
4 Olympic National Park, Washington 5 Yellowstone National Park Wyoming
Schlitterbahn Water Park, New Braunfels, Texas
6 Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio
8 Zion National Park, Utah 9 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Acadia National Park, Maine http://www.nps.gov/pub aff/ refdesk/10MVUNP.pdf
Top 10 Roller Coasters Superman Ride of Steel Six Flags, New England Agawam, Massachusetts
Millenium Force Cedar Point 3 Nitro Six Flags Great Adventure
St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri
2 Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
7 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
3 Yosemite National Park, California
Cornerstone is a five day event attended by over 20,000 people to celebrate Christianity in culture. This year’s festival features renowned artists Anberlin, Hawk Nelson, Relient K, and many more. But it is not just a concert. Cornerstone also offers classes and workshops, seminars, and many outdoor activities as well.
Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico Tour a cave the size of 6.2 football fields, stand in a Hall of Giants, view an 89 foot rock column, watch bat flights in the evening. Carlsbad Caverns provides family fun. Tickets are cheap, and tours can be easy (for younger siblings) or difficult (for the adventuresome). Just make sure you don’t fall in the Bottomless Pit!
Jackson, New Jersey
Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, Kentucky Visit the birthplace of bats used by sluggers from Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron to Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter. Tour the factory and get your own legitimate (though miniature) Louisville slugger bat at the end!
Zorb Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Because who wouldn’t want to bounce down a hill inside a giant inflated ball?
Schlitterbahn showcases 17 slides, a sandless shore, surfing simulation, and more stunning slippery sites! One of the best water parks anywhere.
4 Montu Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida
5 SheiKra Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida
6 Fahrenheit Hersheypark
7 The Incredible Hulk Universal Studios Orlando, Florida
8 Apollo’s Chariot Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia
9 Superman Ride of Steel Six Flags America Largo, Maryland
Kingda Ka Six Flags Great Adventure Jackson, New Jersey
http://themeparks.about. com/cs/coasterbooks/a/ bestcoasters.htm http://americasbestonline. net/index.php/pages/ rollercoasters.html
by Hannah Wakefield 46 | jul 2009 ec magazine
ec magazine jul 2009 | 47
Finding community in Chile
Week of July 26
aidon George knew the people in her church loved her. At 18 years old, she’d grown up surrounded with the support of the members of Lakeside Baptist Church in Texas. Even without her asking, they helped her find the money to go on a mission trip to South America. What Caidon didn’t know was that she’d find a community of love and acceptance in Chile as well. “It was such an open and loving culture. I’d like to go back.” She was the youngest of 150 missionaries from all over the world who met in Chile to serve for two weeks. The only person she knew on the trip was her pastor. All the missionaries were divided amongst 30 local churches.
48 | jul 2009 ec magazine
From house visits to conducting a miniVacation Bible School to visiting a prison, Caidon’s job was to socialize and get involved with the youth and children’s activities. The missionaries’ goal was to encourage the small group of Christians there and share Jesus with the church’s neighborhood. Though she was scared on the plane ride and didn’t know what to expect, it didn’t take long for her to fit right in with the Chileans. “The pastor of the [local] church was intimidating to me at first,” Caidon said. “He seemed strict. But by the fourth day we were already joking around. He had a daughter my age, and they would invite me to hang out. They called me their hija—that’s ‘daughter’ in Spanish. It
was one big family for me. In a random city in a random country—to be connected in that way was really touching.” They not only welcomed Caidon in their group, but the small church of about 100 people had its own special relationship. “In that one church, everyone took care of everyone. I would walk with Carlos, the 17-year-old translator, and we would go to someone’s home from the church. He didn’t know the person well, but they opened their homes to each other because they had a bond between church members.” Caidon liked the Chilean’s focus on family time. At 4 p.m., no matter what the person was doing, everyone would go home for once time. They drink tea or coffee, have a snack, and visit with their family. “I’d be at a different house every day during that time. It was neat to be a part of each family. We’d stop and relax and ask how their day was.” The Chileans were also open to accepting tracts. “We all had tracts that had our personal testimony translated on them. Throughout the day we’d pass them out. Here in America if you pass out tracts, people ignore you or grab it and throw it away. In Chile, I was afraid I’d be rejected a lot.” But she wasn’t. The passersby would come up to her and ask what she was passing out. They often immediately sat on a bench and read the tract. “Even if they weren’t interested or if they were from a different religion, they’d still stop and listen to whatever you had to say.” At the end of the week, the church threw a farewell party for the missionaries. After the barbecue, Caidon’s new friends stayed up until 5 a.m. dancing, goofing off, and enjoying each other’s company. Even the pastor came over late in the night. “Coming back, I was in tears. It was the hardest good-bye I ever had to do, and I was just there two weeks.” ec
ovie thrillers, murder mystery novels, and crime shows have made the word mystery commonplace.
photos this section: © istockphoto / shelly perry, jason stitt, ron hohenhaus.
© istockphoto / jan rihak
By Chansin Bird
To us, a mystery is simply something to be figured out—unraveled, taken apart, and wholly understood. But the word means so much more than that. At its very essence, the word mystery describes something that isn’t just difficult to figure out, but may be entirely impossible for us to wrap our brains around. A true mystery is difficult to explain, puzzling, and sometimes beyond human understanding. There’s a quality of mystery when it comes to God. You can absolutely know Him and live in relationship with Him because of Jesus. You can take on His characteristics and become more like Him. You can walk in daily counsel with the Holy Spirit and seek guidance from Scripture. You can know God, but knowing Him doesn’t mean you understand every last thing about Him or His ways. Some of that mystery has to do with the concept of the Trinity, God in three Persons. No explanation or comparison we come up with actually does the Trinity justice or encompasses the concept in its entirety. God isn’t entirely comprehensible. We can’t understand Him completely or explain all His ways through human reasoning. But we can live in relationship with Him—God the Father who loves us without measure, Jesus the Son who has first-hand knowledge of our sorrows and joys and gave Himself up for us, and the Holy Spirit who guides and counsels. He is God in three Persons. And that’s a true mystery of mercy and grace in every sense of the word. ec magazine jul 2009 | 49
weekend > 7/26
monday > 7/27
Three in one Listening isn’t the same After Jesus was baptized, thing as hearing. went up immediately fromHe the water. The heaven
s sudden opened for Him, and He sawly Spirit of God descending likethe a dove and coming down on Him . And there came a voice from heaven: “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” —Matthew 3:16-17 Read Matthew 3:13-17.
t’s one of the most important days of your life. It could be your graduation, an awards banquet during which you are receiving an award, a game in which you are starting, or a concert in which you are performing. Chances are pretty good that you want all of your family and friends there to help you celebrate that special day. Jesus was no different. It was the day of His baptism. He didn’t send out any formal invitations, post it on Facebook, or tell everybody He knew about it, but it was still a very special day for Him. The example of baptism that Jesus gave us that day was significant, but what was even more significant was the fact that the Trinity—God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—was present for this day. How, you ask? Jesus was baptized, God the Father spoke, and the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a dove. This week’s devotions are all about the Trinity. While we won’t find the word Trinity in the Bible, we do find examples again and again of how God exists in three Persons. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. While these are three distinct Persons, they are still one. While we try and explain how it’s possible for God to be three in one, sometimes we just need to accept that we will not understand everything about Him. It is only when we begin living in a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son with the Holy Spirit as our counselor, guide, and empowerment that we begin to understand this concept called the Trinity. 50 | jul 2009 ec magazine
wednesday > 7/29
Whom do you look like?
ver noticed how we want to understand how everything works and why it works the way it does? We have a unique quest to discover behind-thescenes information on how and why things work. How does a fax really work? How is it possible to send a picture from your phone to somebody else? Why do your friends do the things they do? Go ahead, take a minute and ask yourself what it is that you really want to know. How would knowing it make an impact in your life? Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, paying close attention to verses 15 and 16. � Up to this point, where have you received your knowledge of how God does things? � What is it that you would like to know about why God does things the way He does? � How does God say we are given information about His ways? � To what degree in your life is the Spirit of God giving you knowledge? � If you are not gaining an understanding of God and His ways, what ultimately keeps that from happening? � What do you think about the statement, “we have the mind of Christ”?
The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For: who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. —1 Corinthians 2:15 16
Understanding the depth of God comes down to whether or not we are willing to take the steps to be spiritually alive and grow spiritually. Paul told it straight to the Corinthians: when we are alive in Christ, we have access to everything that God’s Spirit is doing around us. God’s Spirit was given to us to help us gain a better understanding of who God is and what He is doing. God is not something we have to wish we could figure out; He gives us what we need to help us understand. But we have to be willing and ready to listen.
e looks like his dad. No, he looks like his mom. Come on, he really has the look of his granddad. Ever heard these words before? Every new baby is put through this ritual. For years to come there is the annual squeezing of the cheeks followed by the words, “Oh she looks just like . . .” Whom do you look like?
How much do you look like God? tuesday > 7/28
Don’t you know how much you’re loved?
ant to buy a house or a car sometime in the future? These two items are major investments and big purchases in life. Each of them requires that we discipline ourselves to save and come up with a down payment to prove that we really want those things. Have you ever had to save up for something you really wanted it? What was it? For how long did you save? What other resources did you use to get it?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Reread verses 13-14. � According to these verses, when did God start planning for you? � What was the down payment that God provided? � What did Christ do for the down payment? � What did the Holy Spirit do for the down payment? � What is significant about the three portions of the down payment provided for you? � What does this tell you about God’s plan and love for you?
In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation—in Him when you believed—were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. —Ephesians 1:13 14
God gives us what we need. We don’ t have to understand it all.
Your down payment was started long before you were ever born. From the very beginning of time, God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit have been planning for you and investing in your life. God, before all creation, knew that He wanted to have a relationship with you and was making plans to make that possible. Paul reminded us in this passage that only in Christ can we discover just how much was given on our behalf. Do you understand? Jesus sacrificed the glory and honor He deserved to come to earth where He was mocked, ignored, and crucified. He gave Himself up for you. And there’s more! God gave us the Holy Spirit to seal you and to remind you of what was planned for us. God—in three Persons—loves you.
Us Then God said, “Let age, im r Ou in n ma ke ma ess. en lik r Ou to according of the h fis the le They will ru sky, the sea, the birds of therth and animals, all the eat cra,wl on tha res atu the cre 6 the earth.” —Genesis 1:2 Take a look at Genesis 1:26-31. Think about what God did in verse 26. � Whom do these verses say you look like? � What does it mean to be made in God’s image? � Who is the “Our” in verse 26? � Do you look more like God the Father? The Son? The Spirit? � Why is it important that all three Persons of the Trinity were present and involved in creation? While your earthly parents will argue for years over whom you most resemble, the truth of the matter is you were created in the image of God. While your physical attributes may call to mind your parents or grandparents, God created you in His image. But God wasn’t talking about physical things, like your face or the shape of your hands. You were made in God’s image, in a spiritual sense. Everything about you was created with God’s nature and character in mind. That includes the Father’s attributes, the Son’s attributes, and the attributes of the Spirit of God. Nobody has more bragging rights than God of whom you look like.
ec magazine jul 2009 | 51
ave you ever given or recited a pledge to something or someone? I’m sure you have. How about the Pledge of Allegiance? If you have obtained a passport, you had to affirm a pledge regarding your citizenship to this country. Can you think of any other things that you pledge? What does it mean when we pledge allegiance to something? It means that we endorse not just the pledge but what the pledge stands for as well.
ery Boice —James Montgom
You do have to
trust. 52 | jul 2009 ec magazine
In His Name.
ven with d the Trinity, eas to say n ta rs e d n u n ther we ca the Bible h oint is not wheether we will believe what tionship to each other.” p t n a rt o p im h la “The about their re strations, but w the help of illu er, Son and Holy Spirit, and about the Fath
You don’t have to
Friday > 7/31
Acknowledge God as three in one.
God is three in one. E
ggs are unique. They’re made up of the yolk, the white, and the shell. All three are different, but it is still only one egg. Water can take on three different forms—liquid, gas, or solid, but it is still always water. Can you identify other things that contain three different parts but are still one? Go ahead, see how many you can name. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Memorize verse 4. � Who is the “One” in “the Lord is One”? “Listen, Israel: The Lord � How would you explain the three our God, the Lord is One.” distinct Persons of God? —Deuteronomy 6:4 � What is God the Father’s role? � What is God the Son’s role? � What is God the Holy Spirit’s role? � Why did God choose to show Himself in this way? There are several things in life that we have a hard time explaining. Trying to understand that God is three Persons but still only one God is one of those things. However, when we break it down like the egg or water, it is much easier to understand. Each Person in the Trinity has a distinct function. They function independently but together are still only one God. Throughout history, theologians and deep thinkers have spent countless hours coming up with analogies to help us understand the concept of the Trinity. In the end, they all break down because there’s always going to be some mystery about how these three distinct Persons are interrelated. Each One is different and relates to us differently, but they aren’t three gods. This is God the Father who created us and loves us without limit, yet can’t look upon our sin; Jesus the Son who died so that we could have a relationship with God; and the Holy Spirit who is our Guide, Comforter, and Friend. You’ve seen the Trinity at work in your life. You can’t explain it, but you know it’s true. Trust God.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —Matthew 28:19 Read Matthew 28:16-20. What do you need to be doing, in light of verse 19? � What does baptism represent? � How is God the Father represented in baptism? � How is God the Son represented in baptism? � What about the Holy Spirit is represented in baptism? � Why do we baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? � What are we saying when we do this? � Why is this important? We know and understand that baptism is a testimony and a symbol of what has already taken place in us when we accept Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior. When we baptize somebody in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are recognizing and acknowledging that God is three in one. We are displaying and indicating an oath to the Triune God when we follow in obedience in baptism. We acknowledge that God is our Creator and Jesus’ Father; that Jesus is our salvation; and that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Guide, and Teacher.
ec magazine jul 2009 | 53
Life mk corner Mk STories • By Ashley Brents
To go deeper into the idea of the Trinity we studied this wee k, read: 1 Corinthians 12:3-7 2 Corinthians 13:13 Ephesians 4:1-16 Hebrews 9:11-14 1 Peter 1:3-12 Jude 20-21
Prayers, thoughts, & questions:
Sharing Jesus in Japan MK uses 5-minute English lessons, park evangelism
week’s devotions into motion in So how do you put the truths of this your life? the Trinity means to you. What does � Think about what each member of God the Son mean to you? t God the Father mean to you? Wha does you? to n mea t Spiri Holy the What does God tative of the Trinity to make � How are you allowing each represen ? basis daily a on you to Himself real those who don’t understand it? � How can you explain the Trinity to of why God chose to show Himself in � How deep is your understanding this way to us? gain a better understanding of the � What do you need to do in order to week to better understand? this Trinity? What steps will you take qualities of each Person of the � What is one way you can live out the Trinity today?
Faith isn’t understanding every facet of God’s character. It’s believing He is who He says He is and can do what He promised.
54 | jul 2009 ec magazine
Want to know more about God in three Persons? Read His Word! Follow our plan and read the whole Bible in a year.
• Job 29–Psalms 12 • Acts 16:16–20:16
y name is Ashley Brents. I’m 13, and I live in Tokyo, Japan. My parents and I moved to Japan when I was 8 weeks old, and my brother, Adam (12), and sister, Avery (7), were born here. My parents serve as project coordinators/volunteer mobilizers for the International Mission Board’s Tokyo team. I love the Japanese people, the culture, everything! But I love America a lot, too. My mom and I joke about where my home really is. We decided that it probably is on the airplane between the two countries. Two ministries I really enjoy are Five-Minute English and park evangelism. Five-Minute English is a tool we use to start conversations with the Japanese so we can share the gospel. We hold up signs advertising it at train stations and call out, “Five-Minute English!,” and people come up to us.
We use a workbook with questions such as, “Are you a spiritually minded person and why?” Park evangelism is going to the big parks in Tokyo and trying to make friends. When people are playing games, we ask if we can play, too. We hang out with them and try to share Christ. One time I walked up to someone who was sitting on a blanket, and he asked me to tell him about Christ! Sometimes our team dresses up as clowns and gives out Bible tracts as we talk to people who are watching us. I make balloons and give them to the little kids. It can be hard because the kids speak Japanese better than I do— and I don’t know what animal they are asking me to make! I help with park evangelism in the summer and Five-Minute English year-round. I usually work with other missionaries and volunteers who come from the U.S. on mission trips. It is pretty exciting. Last summer 439 volunteers came and talked to 12,201 people, mostly using Five-Minute English and park evangelism. More than 1,200 Japanese heard the plan of salvation, and 88 people got saved. Isn’t that awesome? God works in totally cool ways. I believe God has a plan for the Japanese. Three summers ago, the Tokyoites seemed closed to the gospel. But today they are open and love talking to Americans. One of my missionary friends said, “The spiritual climate of Japan is changing.” We would love to have you come to Japan on a mission trip! I love volunteers and think it would be so cool if you would come! If you’re interested in learning more about work among the Japanese or how you can be involved in missions, go to http://thetask.org or http://going.imb.org. �
Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous Area: 145,882 sq. miles (slightly smaller than California) Natural Resources: negligible mineral resources, fish (With virtually no energy natural resources, Japan is the world’s largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas as well as the second largest importer of oil.) Population: 127,288,416 (July 2008 est.) Literacy: 99% of people in Japan age 15 and over can read and write
Ethnic Groups: Japanese—98.5%, Korean—0.5%, Chinese—0.4%, other— 0.6% Religions: observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%) Fact List Source: The CIA Factbook, https://www.cia. gov/library/publications/the world factbook/geos/ ja.html
photos courtesy IMB
journal: Week of July 26
• That the people we meet using FiveMinute English and park evangelism will have a hunger to know Christ. • That the pop culture in Asia will shift toward God’s truth, the only thing that can free the Japanese from sin and death. • For members of the IMB Tokyo team as they work to see house churches started in West Tokyo. ec magazine jul 2009 | 55
By Jennifer McCaman • illustration by Angela Martini
Extreme Mod esty Makeover Hairnets and Stockings She greets you every day with a cheesy grin and a hearty scoop of green beans. She’s the lunch lady, and we love her. But think for a moment about her, well, outfit. Picture the hair net, shapeless dress, apron that falls just above her gray stockings, and black, flat shoes. What words would you use to describe this fashion style? Odds are “sexy,” “hot,” and “cute” didn’t make the list. As Christian girls, we’ve heard the word “modesty” preached at us until it starts to conjure up a cafeteria lady in our minds. For most of us, “modesty” is a list of things we’re not allowed to wear, including the scandalous spaghetti-strap shirts, two-piece bathing suits, and sweatpants with “hottie” printed across the seat. Admit it: modesty often seems like your less-than-fashionable mom’s main weapon in her plot to take away everything cute in your wardrobe. Actually this concept of modesty is far from the truth. Modesty goes beyond clothes to the core of who we are. The world teaches us that our waist, bust size, and flirty personality give us value as females. Psalm 139:13-15 speaks another message: For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 56 | jul 2009 ec magazine
Modesty Test We have value because As girls, clothes are we belong to God. woven into our DNA. God made us exactly From shoes and as He wanted, and He purses to tops and loves us. jeans—every choice is deliberate. Even girls First Corinthians who “don’t care” 6:20b (The Mesabout their clothes sage) says, “ . . . let intentionally don’t people see God in and care, meaning they intentionally select through your body.” quirky T-shirts, Like this verse says, shoelaces, and modesty is letting jeans to pull off the people see God in and “I-don’t-care” look. As lovers of fashion, through your body. how can we tell if our Modesty does not choices honor God? mean joining a convent or never wearing makeup. Instead, it’s dressing and acting in a way that honors Christ. Modesty can be defined as “freedom from vanity.”1 We all know people at school who are obsessed with flaunting their image. Modesty is freedom from the pressure to conform to the world’s standard of beauty. Along with the cafeteria-lady lie, the world spews other false information about modesty. Myth Modesty is restricting. Truth Modesty is freedom.
Google certain girl celebrities, and you’ll see a slew of photos that would probably embarrass their moms. Hollywood teaches that fashion is freedom. They argue that a truly independent, uninhibited girl isn’t afraid to show what she has. The media equates sexiness with selfexpression. In reality, freedom is only found in Christ. When you honor God with your life, you understand freedom at a level the world can’t imagine. This freedom empowers you to become the woman God made you to be. The world’s idea of beauty is imprisoning. Many girls become depressed, anorexic, cutters, or at the least, insecure with the way they look. Talk about prison. Modesty in Christ gives freedom. You are free to feel good about who God made you to be. You don’t have to draw attention to your
body or throw yourself at a guy. You never have to worry about embarrassing pictures popping up on Myspace. Sure, you can still dress cute, wear make-up, and fix your hair, but your worth is not found in your appearance or your wardrobe. That is freedom. Myth Modesty is insecure. Truth Modesty is confidence.
More than clothes, modesty is an attitude. The world teaches girls that confidence is found in looking sexy. Actually, true security is learning to see yourself the way God sees you. Psalm 45:11 says “the king will desire your beauty.” Psalm 139:13 teaches us that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are beautiful because we are made by God. We don’t have to draw attention to our bodies by wearing revealing clothing or flirting provocatively. Running after the world’s idea of beauty only leaves us empty and insecure. Myth Modesty is boring. Truth Modesty is mystery.
Perhaps the most powerful word to describe spiritual modesty is “mystery.” Modesty is keeping yourself mysterious to guys and to the world. Instead of flaunting your body, wear cute clothes, but cover up. Instead of throwing yourself at a guy by calling, texting, and flirting all the time, hold back. Be mysterious. Let God cultivate an inner beauty that is captivating to the guy he wants to bring your way. Don’t get me wrong. Modesty doesn’t mean being quiet or shy necessarily. It’s great to have a bubbly, passionate personality if that’s who God’s made you to be. Just don’t let a desire for attention cause you to make bad decisions. If a guy isn’t interested Mini-checklist in you, let him walk � Does this outfit away. If the loud, less reflect who I am in clothed girl in your Christ? class seems to attract � Can I move all the guys, don’t around in this outfit worry. You will never (standing, sitting, leaning, bending regret your choice to over) without pursue modesty and anything showing? mystery.
Myth Guys only like sexy outfits and
flirty girls. Truth Guys long for a girl who doesn’t make them struggle. Generally, guys are visual creatures who are easily tempted to lust. Your choice to pursue modesty hugely impacts their purity. You seriously have the power to help your guy friends pursue Christ. Simply by wearing a shirt that’s not low-cut under a plunging neckline, you help guys keep their thoughts pure. Also by intentionally not sitting in a guy’s lap and avoiding sexually flirtatious contact, you help them grow in Christ. Sure it’s difficult. Many girls think guys should just control themselves, but it’s just not that easy. As girls, we connect emotionally. Guys connect physically. Help your guy friends—and all guys—stay pure when they’re around you. By honoring God with your body, you also respect the guys around you. It might seem like guys don’t notice your effort, but (trust me) they do, and more importantly, so does God. Myth Modesty is easy. Truth Modesty is sacrifice.
Pursuing Christ-centered modesty is totally rewarding, but it is also a sacrifice. As you set higher standards for your wardrobe, you’ll have fewer choices at stores. You might have to go to two or three stores to find a bathing suit that doesn’t show everything. Maybe you’ll completely ignore a style many of your friends wear because it doesn’t reflect who you are in Christ. Modesty also means that certain guys are totally off limits. (You don’t really want these guys anyway.) Don’t be discouraged. Your choice to honor God with your body will always be worth it. Modesty doesn’t just happen. You have to choose to go against the world and be different. Intentionally decide to dress and act in a way that glorifies God. Don’t let anything come between you and your commitment. ec
Warning: Confronting Immodesty Girls who do not have Christ have no reason to dress like Christians. We have a different standard. Do not freak out over their clothes until you freak out over their lives. Your first goal is to lead them to Christ, not to dress them up like a Christian. Many non-Christian girls think Christians judge them and look down on them because of how they dress and act. Choose to show these girls kindness and love, without conforming to their choices. As Christ changes their hearts, He’ll eventually change their wardrobe and attitudes. Check out ecmagazine.blogspot.com this month for some modesty quizzes just for the girls!
1. “modesty,” Dictionary.com [online], cited 6 February 2009. Available from the Internet: http://dictionary. reference.com/browse/modesty.
� Will guys respect me wearing this?
ec magazine jul 2009 | 57
Modesty: Not just a girl thing! By Will Snipes • illustration by Angela Martini
Let’s be honest for a minute—the truth is that writers often draw a blank when beginning an assignment. Most of you have probably experienced this firsthand when given a writing task by an English teacher. Where do I begin? What will I say? What will be my main points? It was no different for me with this task. So I did what many of you would do—I did an Internet search for the word modesty. I found a good definition: moderation in speech, dress, or behavior. The word itself is linked to the Latin word modestus, which means “keeping within measure.” I read about styles of dress throughout history and how they have changed. I even discovered cultural information about appropriate behaviors, such as the fact that the Australian Aborigines appear indifferent to nakedness, but are deeply embarrassed if they are seen eating. Although I was beginning to get some ideas, I still didn’t have the focus I needed to write this article. How do I explain to teenage guys why modesty is important? Because, really, we only ever talk about that in the context of what some girl is wearing, right? I found my inspiration buried deep on an informational Internet page, under a heading titled “Antonyms.” There was the one word that was all I needed to get the ball rolling. So guess what’s an antonym for modesty. Pride. Pride is all about focusing attention on ourselves. It’s about saying: “Hey everybody— look at me!” It’s about being the loudest, the funniest, the strongest, the craziest, the most watched person in the room. When you think about it, there really is a reason people use that phrase “proud as a peacock.” Pride can be compared to the male peacock’s behavior. He displays his brilliant plumage in order to gain attention from 58 | jul 2009 ec magazine
females. Loud, funny, crazy, and trying to gain the attention of girls . . . does that sound like some of the guys you know? Maybe—just maybe—does it sound a little like you? Modesty is all about self-control. It’s about not drawing attention to ourselves, but rather letting our lives direct all glory to God. It’s about offering our bodies—our very lives— as living sacrifices that point others to the redemptive work of Christ in our hearts (Rom. 12:1). Girls often struggle with modesty in terms of how they present themselves to the world. They use their style of dress and the body God has blessed them with to gain attention. Because we are wired differently from girls, modesty for guys takes a different slant, but it is still an important component in the overall makeup of who we are in Christ. Guys, ask yourself these questions as you begin to examine the level of modesty in your own life: • Do you tend to brag about your accomplishments in areas like athletics or achievements? • Do you play the “one-up” game, where you always have to make yourself look a little better than others? • Do you tell inappropriate jokes or use inappropriate language to gain attention or laughs? • Have you taken a picture of your muscles and displayed it for all the world to see on Myspace or Facebook®? We all know you’ve been hitting the weight room, but is that really necessary? Is God glorified in those pictures? • Are you searching for any opportunity to draw peoples’ attention to you, your physique, or your accomplishments? Why are you parading around like that peacock?
As you honestly search your heart for answers to these questions, maybe God is showing you that your life is not displaying much modestus, as our ancient Latin friends termed it. Maybe you’re not keeping things “within measure.” Maybe you’re proudly soaking up the attention of the world while leaving the glorifying of God out of the picture. Consider the words of the psalmist: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way (Ps. 139:23-
24). Let’s make it clear that there’s nothing inherently wrong with being concerned about your appearance or taking some pride in your accomplishments. It’s all about things being done within measure. And about God receiving glory in the end. Oh, and one last thing from my Internet search? Recent scientific research has shown that it’s not the bright tail feathers of the male peacock that draw the most attention from the females. Instead, it’s his vocalization—his words, so to speak. Although the parallel may not be direct, perhaps the best way to gain some positive attention in this world might be through the kindness, gentleness, and sensitivity of your words, through encouragement and exhortation of others rather than showing off. Maybe focusing more on God and less on yourself is truly attractive to the world. And that’s a definition of modesty that I can take to heart. ec
Modesty for guys? Modesty is a big deal, right? For girls that is. At least that’s the idea all our Christian talk about what girls should and shouldn’t wear seems to say. But modesty is about more than clothes! It’s a way of life. It’s part of pursuing purity. We’ve boiled modesty down to what we can and can’t wear, then made it all about girls. It’s more than that. Scripture commands you to pursue a life of purity. Check out 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:22; and 1 Peter 1:15-16; 2:9. Your lives—every part of them—are supposed to be characterized by the pursuit of holiness, purity, humility, and, yes, modesty. That should affect every part of your life, from what you wear to what you say, where you go, and who you think is most important in your life. And when you truly understand modesty, humility, and holiness, the most important person in your life won’t be you.
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or being a people who have been so freely forgiven, it sure is difficult for us to forgive, isn’t it? Our nature is to become angry and hope that others get what they deserve after they have hurt or wronged us in some way. But God gave His only Son to die in order to cover our sins in forgiveness. We certainly didn’t get what we deserved! Our God is the Giver of second chances! We all know that we need second chances, but do you give them as well as take them?
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© istockphoto / simon oxley
By Amber Mushegan
Over and over again in Scripture, God stresses the importance of forgiveness. Being a person who forgives is vital to having a right relationship with God and others. Christ even said that we must forgive others in order to be forgiven. (See Matt. 6:14-16.) So, how do we do it? How do we actively pursue forgiveness in our lives? The first key is accepting God’s forgiveness yourself. Jesus said that “the one who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47). In other words, if you haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness and live in that freedom yourself, there is no way you will be able Famous second chances to truly forgive others and love as Christ loves. Lucille Ball. In 1927, the actress was dismissed The ability to forgive is an from drama school outpouring of Christ in by teachers who said us and is impossible apart she had no future as a from Him. performer. Later, she won four Emmy Awards for So, you are living in her performance in God’s forgiveness and “I Love Lucy.” want to forgive others, but how? Peter asked that Michael Jordan. As a high school sophomore, question of Christ, and the Jordan was cut from the answer probably surprised varsity basketball team. all who were listening. He made the team the Peter wanted to know if he next year and went on to make history in the should forgive his brother 7 sport both in college and times, and Christ said not the NBA. just 7, but 70 times 7. (See Matt. 18:21-22.) Jonah. In the Old Testament, God The point? Forgiveness instructed the prophet is a constant process, not Jonah to go to Ninevah an instant one. Christ and deliver God’s wasn’t saying that we message. Jonah ran the other way. When must only forgive a certain rescued by God, he was number of times. He was obedient—even if it was demonstrating that we with the wrong attitude. must continue forgiving Kurt Warner. In 1999, again and again, giving the the quarterback led the matter over to God in obeSt. Louis Rams to a Super dience until it is settled in Bowl victory. By 2004 our hearts. He knows it’s he’d been dismissed from the Rams and lost the not easy for us, but He calls starting QB position for us to be obedient and allow the New York Giants. In Him to work through us. 2009, he led the Arizona Unforgiveness is like Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance a disease that will spread and threw for 377 yards through your body like despite the team’s loss. wildfire. It will cause you to wallow in anger and to You. God loves you—too much to leave you lost grow bitter and resentful, without purpose, trapped missing out on the joy by sin. He gave you a that the Lord brings. The second chance in Christ. picture of unforgiveness in Trust Him in all things, with all your heart. the Bible is that of the un-
forgiven person being roped to the back of the person who refuses to forgive. When you refuse to forgive another, you are truly carrying them around on your back, bearing the weight of that burden day after day. It hurts you so much more than it hurts them! When you choose to forgive, you release your burden to the Lord and allow the person who has wronged you to be free. Remember that love does not keep a record of wrongs. When you forgive someone, you can release them and give them a clean slate. What do you do if you just don’t feel like you can possibly forgive someone? One of the best ways to align your heart with the heart of God is to simply pray for them. Ask God to help you see them from His point of view, as a person who is dearly loved and bought at a great price, just as you are. Pray for God to give you a love for the person who has wronged you. Forgiving those you love is easier because you generally know that they most likely didn’t intend to hurt you. Forgiving those who seem unlovable is much more difficult because it’s easier to stay angry with them. Pray for God to help you love them in humility, recognizing that God loves them as much as He loves you. © istockphoto
S econ d C hanc e s
Remember that love does not keep a record of wrongs. Now, what happens after you forgive? I truly believe that obedience brings joy, and being obedient to God by forgiving others is a great reward in and of itself. But I have also found that sometimes the results of forgiveness are far-reaching—beyond what we can even imagine. For example, in high school I had some friends who constantly ridiculed my faith. Their comments were often harsh and hard to swallow, but I made a conscious effort to forgive them and to show them that I loved them no matter what they said. A few years after high school, one of those friends called me at college and apologized for how she had treated me back then. She said she had accepted Christ and couldn’t wait to tell me because I had shown her the love of Christ when she seemed unlovable. You never know what the impact of your choices will be. The way you choose to live your life and your faith now can make an eternal difference. Just choose—every day, every moment, if need be—to live for God and be obedient to His Word. Walk in the freedom that forgiveness brings, because you’ve been given a gift you can’t earn by a God who will never love you any more or any less. You won’t regret living in the power of that love. Ever! ec ec magazine jul 2009 | 61
fun music connection
Mandisa on Modesty
Music reviews fresh from ec • by Kevin Sparkman
By Tifany Borgelt Nowhere is appearance more highly valued than in the entertainment industry. Whether you’re a singer, actor, model, or whatever, physical beauty and the display of it seems to be what makes or breaks a person’s career. For those of us who live in the real world—where camera crews and microphones don’t follow our every move—we fortunately don’t have to worry about our looks making or breaking us. But what happens when you are a Christian whom God has given a platform upon which millions of people look? Are the standards different then? Simon Cowell blasted Mandisa Hundley several times during the audition process during season 5 of “American Idol.” He later apologized, and Mandisa ended up as a top 10 finalist that season. Her first album, “True Beauty,” released in 2007 and garnered both Grammy and Dove Award nominations. “Freedom” released in March 2009.
“Hole in my pocket” may be the best female vocal performance of 2009! “I Will Write You Letters” is a feel-good song that proves Lippard’s maturity beyond her years.
In a world of pop princesses, Joy Lippard shines because of her depth and originality.
In your world, modesty is probably a synonym for unfashionable and lame. That’s not quite the truth, though. ec recently caught up with Mandisa, singer and former “American Idol” contestant to chat about modesty and why it matters—onstage and off.
Mandisa: To me, modesty is humility. I believe humility can be seen in one’s attitude, speech, and appearance.
Read more thoughts about modesty on our blog: (ecmagazine.blogspot.com).
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Weeding through the
mediocre artistry of today’s reality show contests and everyday home-grown talents, we find a shining star in singer/songwriter Joy Lippard. The self-titled debut release showcases a fully armed performer as she delivers with pen, piano, and power-pop vocals that rise above anything you would expect from a mic-wielding 18-year-old. But she has been songwriting since the tender age of 11. Check out Joy online at www.joylippard.com.
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Flynn Adam Such a Time (Gotee Records)
ec: Modesty. What do you think of when you hear that word?
Find Mandisa online: mandisa.sparrowrecords.com myspace.com/mandisa
Visit ecmagazine.blogspot.com and find us on Facebook!
ec: Because you have been very outspoken about your Christian faith both on “American Idol” and beyond, do you think that the world holds you to a different standard in how you present yourself, in how you look and what you say? Mandisa: On “American Idol” I learned that there is always someone watching you. That is especially true in a world where living by biblical values is not the norm. This is true for me, because of the fame I was given by being on the
iPod Picks: most popular television show in America. But this is also true for every Christian who chooses to live their lives in a way that would be pleasing to God. Some people refer to me as a “star.” Philippians 2:14-15 says that you are a star, too! ec: Given that there is a certain level of self promotion in the entertainment world, how does modesty play into how you present yourself? Mandisa: I have learned that just as Philippians 2 says, God will promote those who wa k in humility. Certainly if Jesus, being in very nature God, could humble Himself to serve humanity by His death, [then] I can present myself in humility and allow God to promote me. I am fully aware that everything good I am, have, and have done is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in me and God’s favor on me. ec: Is modesty just an attitude of the heart? In other words, if your heart is right before God, does it really matter what you wear? Mandisa: I believe that if your heart truly is the Lord’s, it will affect what you do. If my heart is right with the Lord, I won’t want to say certain things, wear certain things, or act in certain ways. I would want to live my life in a way that reflects well on Him.
“Dishes” & “Such a Time”
Flynn adam’s sound is part party music, part thoughtful lyrics.
if you like Gnarls Barkley, you’ll love Flynn Adam. Adam, a member of LA Symphony, a Christian hip hop group, has created a release that honors his hip hop background, but also establishes a more alternative sound. Adam counts the new album as an important milestone in his journey of faith: “I have a better picture of who God is by just being honest and upright with Him through this journey.” Learn more at www.myspace.com/flynnadam.
Robert Pierre Identity (thinkaboutit Records) iPod Picks: “Get Up” & “Elementary”
this album is a true reflection of an ordinary 16-year-old Robert Pierre doesn’t let the world Florida boy finding an extraordinary identity through Jesus Christ. define his identity or There is, however, nothing ordinary about Robert Pierre’s talent. Pierre delivers the ballads flawlessly (“I Will Love You” and “I’ll Be his sound.
There”) while turning a 180 with a slate of edgy pop/rock tunes to round out this project. Coming from the heart of a teenager, there’s no question where Robert’s “Identity” lies. For more, see Robert online: www.robertpierre.com.
Seventh Day Slumber Take Everything (BEC) iPod Picks: “Take Everything” & “Carry Me”
Not only does this album feature a new spin on worship standards known the world over, but when you consider the life Seventh Day Slumber frontman Joseph Rojas has been delivered from as a daily cocaine addict, it will put an entirely new perspective on this worship experience. On “Carry Me,” you hear the soul of this hard rocker crying out to Jesus and offering an anthem for people suffering from hard stuff. More online: wwwseventhdayslumber.com.
Bottom line: This album invites us to deeper relationships with Christ, even in hard times.
Various Artists Hip Hope Hits 2009 (Gotee Records) iPod Picks: “When It Feels Right” & “One World”
For the fifth time, Gotee Records releases one of the most anticipated hip hop records of the year. In the vein of popular compilation formats, Gotee comes strong with its ‘09 version featuring favorites tobyMac, KJ-52, GRITS, Verbs, and Pettidee. The compilation’s cohesive sound is a testament to the mutualr espect between artists like these in the tight-knit Christian hip hop community.
This compilation is full of the best of the best.
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parting shot life
The Final 5
(things ec wants you to remember):
You can’t do it all alone. You were never supposed to. At His very core, God is all about community. He’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And that’s exactly why He never meant for you to live your faith in a vacuum. See pages 26, 30, and 48.
photo: © istockphoto / denys sevriukov. illustrations: angela martini.
Truth that will never go out of
style: modesty is
about more than just clothes.
Modesty is about more than what you do or don’t wear—and it’s not just an issue for girls. Modesty is about living your life in such a way that it brings glory to God. It’s shouldn’t be a fad.
You may think you can’t do much to help our country and our leaders, but you can. Just pray for them. Check out page 18 for ideas about what to say.
Summer shouldn’t be boring. Celebrate
Each day is a gift from God. Strive to see them as such. Take some time to enjoy the ways God has blessed you. See pages 16 and 45.
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Faith isn’t about understanding everything. It’s about trusting.
God doesn’t think exactly like you do, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t wrap your brain around every facet of His character. But He is good; He is love; and He has made a way for you. See pages 40 and 60 to see what we mean.