A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 2

Today, August 13, 2017 we watched part two of a five part Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

Do not give up asking: “Host Michael Card brings Matthew chapters 5-8 to life. Offering a clear and thoughtful presentation, Card takes us on an insightful journey through Scripture that reveals Jesus as the promised Messiah to the Jewish people and the Savior of the world to the Gentiles.”

Matthew’s perspective, as compared with the other three Gospels, is on what Jesus said… His words, his “take” on things, without the fluff, were of utmost importance to Matthew. This Gospel has more references to the Old Testament than any of the other Gospels, and it is the shortest of them all, primarily due to Matthew’s “editing down” of his content to just the essentials.

So, if you’d like to bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament then Matthew is the one Gospel to read.

Here is a link to the video.

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A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 1

Today, July 30, 2017 we began a five part Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

Here is how this series is described:

“Listening to the voice of Matthew” (Chapters 1-4). Bringing to life the pages of the gospel of Matthew, host Michael Card guides us through the city of Capernaum and northern region of Israel, along the shorelines of the Sea of Galilee, and finally to Jerusalem.

 “We’re going to try to listen to the voice of Matthew – learn to hear what he has to say to us about this remarkable person who lived in this world, Jesus of Nazareth,” says Card.

Offering a clear and thoughtful presentation, this 5-Part DVD takes us on an insightful journey through Scripture that reveals Jesus as the promised Messiah to the Jewish people and the Savior of the world to the Gentiles. Join us as we uncover the identity of Jesus, see how His disciples found a new identity for themselves, and find out what that means about our own identity in the One who promised to always be here with us.

Thank you, Sherry, for leading part 1 of this series, and for leading the previous two sessions while I was away.

Here is a link to the video.

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Letters to My Grandchild

What is one of the best gifts that we can give our children and grandchildren? The answer is: ourselves. Today, July 9, 2017 we talked about leaving a special gift for them in the form of short letters, sealed in envelopes, to be opened on a specific date or event.

Artist Lea Redmond created the series of Letters to my… and today we talked about Letters to my Grandchild. There are about a dozen envelopes bound in a small booklet with various topics on each one. We would write our response to a topic, place it in the envelope, seal it, and indicate on the envelope when it was sealed and when it is to be opened. For example, “The best advice anyone ever gave me was…” is the topic, we respond to that, place our response inside the envelope, seal it, state that it was sealed on mm/dd/yyyy, and indicate that it is to be opened on mm/dd/yyy (or an event such as a wedding day).

We spent the rest of our time sharing among one another stories and memories of our past… short snippets of things that helped form who we are. Most of what we shared were positive experiences, but even the negative ones have been valuable in shaping us and can be instructive and informative to those who hear them.

Following God’s commandment for us in Psalm 78 v 1-8, it is a simple and manageable way for us to pass on to future generations some of our wisdom in a way that will be incredibly meaningful to them when opened. Click here for a link to one place that the booklet can be purchased.

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Touching the Hearts of the Next Generation – Part 3

Today, June 25, 2017 we continued a three part series about the importance of storytelling. In Psalm 78: 1-8 God gives us a commandment to tell our children and grandchildren about the truth of God’s word so that they will be equipped to face life and to understand that they are the children of God. It is clearly our responsibility and not the responsibility of institutions to do this for each generation.

“Listen, dear friends, to God’s Truth, and pay attention to what I say. I am going to use wise sayings. I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, stories we heard from our Fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – about the Lord’s power and the marvelous things He has done. He gave laws to the people of Israel and commandments to the descendants of Jacob, then commanded our parents to teach it to their children so that the next generation might learn them and in turn should tell their children so they will never forget the works of God but keep His commandments to the letter. They will not be like their ancestors, a rebellious and disobedient people, whose trust in God was never firm and who did not remain faithful to Him.”

We teach with words and we teach by example even if we don’t use words. Our friend, John Weaver wrote a book… actually, he wrote three books about his family’s history. The latest of the three, “Write Your Own Damn Book” is a collection of memories by John about his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many other people including students.

He was encouraged to put together this collection by one of his daughters and wants to leave these stories not just as history, but as teaching moments for his family. John would like the people who see a picture of his grandfather to see it not only as a photo, but to bring it to life with stories about him as a real person. He says in the book, “My dad was a part of everything I have done. He taught me how to be a man by example not just words. I learned the values of honesty and responsibility by watching him. I always knew if my dad said something he meant it.”

Thank you, John, for sharing your example of how to carry out the commandment given to us in Psalm 78.

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Touching the Hearts of the Next Generation – Part 2

Today, June 18, 2017 we continued a three part series about the importance of storytelling. In Psalm 78: 1-8 God gives us a commandment to tell our children and grandchildren about the truth of God’s word so that they will be equipped to face life and to understand that they are the children of God. It is clearly our responsibility and not the responsibility of institutions to do this for each generation.

“Listen, dear friends, to God’s Truth, and pay attention to what I say. I am going to use wise sayings. I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, stories we heard from our Fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – about the Lord’s power and the marvelous things He has done. He gave laws to the people of Israel and commandments to the descendants of Jacob, then commanded our parents to teach it to their children so that the next generation might learn them and in turn should tell their children so they will never forget the works of God but keep His commandments to the letter. They will not be like their ancestors, a rebellious and disobedient people, whose trust in God was never firm and who did not remain faithful to Him.”

There are many ways that we can preserve and teach this information. It can be preserved with video (a popular medium these days) in which case a person can be seen and heard. Since it is digital the quality will not degrade over time. It can also be preserved in book (or booklet) form. It takes a little longer to write, but the stories are preserved on paper so that in 150 years the only tool needed to read it are the eyes. Keeping a journal, either in a diary or on scrap pieces of paper placed in a shoe box, is similar to preserving as a book but thoughts are recorded as they occur… at random. Audio recordings via your cell phone, or other recording device, are good but care must be taken to not lose or misplace the resulting digital files. If we don’t teach with words or other media, our actions by default teach for us… that can’t be denied.

In any case, face-to-face conversations are the most impactful and the most personal ways to teach. Even though words can evaporate as soon as they are spoken, who is to say what the best method is to carry out God’s commandment effectively? That is the job of the Holy Spirit, so always ask for His help. It may be that what we say today will have a profound effect on someone generations from now. We will never know until we get to Heaven.

Today we watched 16 short video clips of various people telling just one little piece of information that will be passed on to their families and to others who see and listen. It doesn’t take much to have a profound effect on someone whom we may not know in another time that is different from today. I would encourage you to be proactive with passing on your wisdom. It may not occur to those closest to you to ask the questions until it is too late to ask.

Here, for example, is an interesting little clip from the Lucchese family of how impactful even the smallest, everyday childhood scenarios can be as we become adults. Most of us have memories of grandparents, and some of the most powerful memories that we can have as adults is of the sights, sounds, and smells from our childhood. A granddaughter (Gina Lucchese), now herself a mother, writes a story about memories of her grandparents from when she was eight years old. It is narrated by her niece who was eight years old when this video was made.

Here is the clip.

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Touching the Hearts of the Next Generation – Part 1

Today, June 11, 2017 we started a short series about the importance of storytelling. Although not one of the top 10, Psalm 78: 1-8 gives us a commandment from God about how we should tell our children and grandchildren about the truth of God’s word so that they will be equipped to face life and to understand that they are the children of God. It is clearly our responsibility and not the responsibility of institutions to do this for each generation.

“Listen, dear friends, to God’s Truth, and pay attention to what I say. I am going to use wise sayings. I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, stories we heard from our Fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – about the Lord’s power and the marvelous things He has done. He gave laws to the people of Israel and commandments to the descendants of Jacob, then commanded our parents to teach it to their children so that the next generation might learn them and in turn should tell their children so they will never forget the works of God but keep His commandments to the letter. They will not be like their ancestors, a rebellious and disobedient people, whose trust in God was never firm and who did not remain faithful to Him.”

Psalm 78 is one of about a dozen Psalms that are attributed to someone named Asaph who was either the author or the transcriber of David’s words. The Bible is a collection of stories using the oral tradition, and guided by the Holy Spirit. The “oral tradition” is a way to teach a lesson by using traditional symbols from a culture usually before written language is available, and not necessarily to record an historic event. Collecting “oral history” is what we do today by putting together a collection of stories from the oral tradition and also recording historical events by interviewing people and recording their conversations on paper, audio, and video. When Jesus left this earth he left for us the Holy Spirit as a comforter and teacher.

It is He, the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the Trinity), who helps us understand the scriptures and to have an ability to teach others about God’s Word. We teach others in two ways (1) with words of instruction, and (2) by our example. Truthfully, if we don’t teach with words (some of us are better at it than others), we always teach by example. One of the best ways to teach by example is to do what we love in front of children. If we like to fix things, if we like to garden, whatever it is we love to do we should do these things (not to explicitly teach) so that children can see our love for doing something. It could be that one day they will want to do this too.

I would encourage each of us to be proactive in teaching our children, grandchildren, and others around us. What we teach is so important and it may not occur to them to ask us certain questions until after we are gone and it is too late. Fred Rogers (from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) talks about all of this and he actually puts it on a different level for us, and in a way that might not naturally occur to us. Today we watched a 15 minute interview of him by Charlie Rose from 1994, and next week we will watch Charlie Rose interview him again in 1997. Fred Rogers is teaching us in these interviews.

Here is a link to the 1994 interview of Fred Rogers by Charlie Rose.

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Putting Down Our Burdens Before the Cross

Today, April 30, 2017 we listened to an interesting discussion by the Discover the Word team about a verse from the Bible’s New Testament book of Mark, chapter 12, verse 31: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Could it be that this verse is as much about knowing how to love yourself?

For example, have you ever known someone who has lamented the fact that they had done something so wrong, have felt that they have asked and received forgiveness from God, but have never been able to forgive themselves? They sometimes feel as though what they did was so terrible that they deserve additional punishment sometimes taking it on themselves in very devastating ways. Even though God has forgiven them they have not forgiven themselves.

Jesus’ life was all about taking on the sins of the world – all of the sins of each one of us – and dying on the cross suffering for all of us for what we have done. He REALLY did that, and did it for that sin that we feel we cannot forgive ourselves for. When you come to the cross you can throw that burden down knowing that somebody else has carried that burden and suffered for you. It is sometimes easy to say and hard to do, but is what we need to realize because someone else has suffered in our place.

Here is a link to today’s discussion.

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