The 15, wait no, 10 Commandments!

Shameless plug for Mel Brooks in the title.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this clip.

Anyways, we’re starting a sermon series on the 10 commandments this Sunday which of course has me looking into them a bit.  The 10 commandments are often looked at as a short set of rules for staying in good with God.  And in one sense they are a short set of rules though they have nothing to do with staying in good with God.

God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s love are not dependent on us following any set of rules properly.  God’s grace, forgiveness and love are free gifts that, Thank God, don’t depend on us being people without sin much less obeying all the rules.

That doesn’t suggest that the way we live out our lives, the way we live to be like Christ, doesn’t matter.  It does matter but not for our own benefit.  We don’t live to be like Christ so that WE get something but so that we GIVE something.  We give of ourselves and in that giving we experience the life that God intends for all people. A life that has healthy relationships with God and with the people in our lives.

The 10 commandments set the stage for these healthy relationships.  The first 3 set the parameters for our relationship with God.  The next 5 set the parameters for our relationship with each other.  The last two highlight the train wreck we can cause when we don’t keep our desire for stuff in check.  The train wreck that is caused because we violate many, if not all, of the other eight commandments when we break 9 and 10.

So God lays out a few simple rules that should help society, people live better lives.  Better lives because they take the focus off of ourselves and guide us into focusing on others and when we take that focus off of ourselves better relationships grow.  I mean, think about that.  When was the last time you wanted to hang out with someone completely focused on themselves?  This is what God is trying to line up for us in the 10 commandments.

Not a bad way to live, these 10 commandments.  If we lived as God calls us to live (for others) the world would be a much better place, wouldn’t it?

(For some social media and 10 commandment connections, see an early blogpost by clicking here.)

That’s outrageous! No, really. Talking with young people about Bible stories

This Sunday church festival of Pentecost.  The arrival of the Holy Spirit, as tongues of fire.  The birth of the church.  Speaking in different languages. Pouring out the Spirit.

Some outrageous stuff, no?

The Holy Spirit kind of is outrageous.  Adults have difficulty articulating how the Holy Spirit works in and around us.  Preachers struggle with including the Holy Spirit alongside the other two parts of the Trinity, God and Jesus.  It’s all quite crazy when we stop and think about it.  And therein lies our problem.

As adults we tend toward wanting to explain Bible stories and we feel ‘less than’ when we can’t explain.  Since very few of us want to feel ‘less than’ we shy away from discussing Bible stories with young people.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, me too.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t think young people struggle with outrageous Bible stories as much as adults do. They like hearing the stories and don’t worry near as much about the outrageous.  Oh, they’ll ask questions for certain (thank God for that) and there will be times we don’t know the answer.  News flash, it happens to pastors who are Dads and Grandpas, too!  AND THAT IS OKAY.  Not a thing wrong with that.  No one has all the answers and in truth, very few of us have many answers at all.

Having the answers isn’t the point.  Having the discussion is the point.  And there are few places better to have a discussion than the Bible stories because they really do connect with real life.  Well, with the exception of 1 and 2 Chronicles maybe but that’s another discussion for another time. 🙂  Faith doesn’t come from a pool of information but instead comes from the transformation of living in faith.

Prayers for all of you as you form the faith reading and talking about the Bible stories!  And if you get a question you want some help with, let me know.  We can figure it out together!