The Gospel Encounter of the Apostle Paul (Part 1)

Last week in our “Gospel Encounters” adult Sunday School class on February 3, 2019, we started a multi-part study on transformative experiences of the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus. These were the notes I took during our class discussion:

We started by using the KWL strategy about Paul’s life and conversion: What do we KNOW, what do we WANT to know, and what have we LEARNED?

Some of the things class members shared that they know about Paul, his life and his conversion to become a follower of Jesus were:

  1. Saul was a persecutor of the early Christian church
  2. Saul was highly schooled (reminded us of Pastor Mateen Elass)
  3. He was “a Pharisee’s Pharisee” (someone who ardently followed all the directives and prescriptions of Jewish law)
  4. He was born a Roman citizen
  5. He was zealous
  6. Paul wrote most of the letters included in the New Testament
  7. Paul had important arguments with the Apostle Peter, over the historic requirements of Jews to follow dietary restrictions and men to submit to circumcision
  8. Paul went on several important missionary journeys
  9. Saul was a tent maker by trade
  10. God annointed Paul as His missionary to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles (non-Jews)
  11. Paul’s letter to the Galatians addresses the toxic organizational structure of that early church, and includes his teachings on how to properly handle church leadership and organization

Things we WANT to know include:

  1. Where was/is Tarsus? (a historic city in south-central Turkey)
  2. How did a person become a Roman citizen?

We read the 9th chapter of the Book of Acts from the New International Version, which is the first of three accounts of Paul’s conversion which are included in Acts. (The others are in Acts 22 and Acts 26.) After reading this chapter, we watched the 5.5 minute video, “The Road to Damascus – Saul Takes his Journey.” Since this video was published by the Mormon Church, I shared the same disclaimer I have before when sharing Mormon videos: Some of the videos shared by the LDS church (like this one) are outstanding, but my use of them in teaching does NOT constitute an endorsement or recommendation of LDS theology.

After watching the video, we discussed in small groups and then shared together things which stood out for us, after reading Acts 9 and watching this video. Some of the standouts were:

  1. Paul’s conversion experience was VERY dramatic
  2. The events detailed in scripture and depicted in the video required obedience on the part of both Paul and Ananias.
  3. The video did a good job portraying the tenderness of Paul after his conversion experience, it’s both understandable and reasonable that he was extremely humbled by this experience on the road to Damascus.
  4. In his communication to Ananias, God reveals his plan for Paul to be his missionary to the Gentiles, bring them the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  5. Paul’s response to his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus included baptism, an act in which his old identity (Saul) was washed away and he was reborn into his new identity (Paul)

This coming Sunday (tomorrow) we’ll continue our study of Paul, his conversion experience, and the lessons we can glean from this powerful Gospel encounter with Jesus Christ!

Biblical Interpretation and the Role of Women

For our “Gospel Encounters” adult Sunday School class on January 27, 2019, Pastor Dave Moore led us in a verse packed overview of Biblical Interpretation and specifically a deep dive into the roles of women in the church and society, as highlighted primarily in the New Testament. These are the whiteboard notes and Bible verses from which Dave taught:

A friend of mine on Facebook had asked me some excellent questions regarding the role of women, and specifically some of the verses from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians this past January. After seeking direction and counsel from both our lead pastor (Eric Laverentz@ericlav) as well as Dave, I recorded and shared a 10.5 minute video for him of my best understanding of these passages and the overall perspectives of Christians on the roles of women in the church.

Women have and continue to play extremely important roles of leadership, service, teaching, and prophesy in the Christian church. If you are seeking answers yourself to questions about this topic, I hope this video and the verses Dave Moore shared with our Sunday School class are helpful and instructive to you.

‘“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. ‘

Acts 2:17-18 (NIV)

Gospel Encounter: The Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-35)

Tomorrow in our adult Sunday School class, “Gospel Encounters,” we will be reading and discussing The Last Supper as recounted in the 26th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, in verses 17-35. These are the slides we’ll use during our lesson. Please feel free to use them and any of the ideas/resources which are included for your own Christian teaching and learning. (My slides are licensed CC-BY. Linked video content, however, is shared by others under varying license terms.)

After reading this scripture together, we will watch this six minute depiction of the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples, focusing specifically on what Jesus SAID and DID during this time.

If we have time, we may watch The Lumos Project’s video about Matthew 26:1-35. (It’s free to watch from the previous link, but not embeddable or readily downloadable.) In the Lumos Project version, a narrator reads the words of the scripture while actors re-enact the scenes. Both are powerful and valuable for better understanding this pivotal episode in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. I’m choosing to share the LDS website version (the video embedded above) because it is a more detailed and theatrical presentation, which seems to provide a more immersive peek into the world and life of Christ. (As noted in my slides, the use of this LDS video should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the Mormon Church or LDS beliefs.)

I plan to focus some of our discussion on both the Old Testament and New Testament contexts for “atonement,” and will show The Bible Project’s excellent six minute video, “Sacrifice and Atonement.” Note a freely downloadable version of this video is available on their project website, which does not include the request for project donations included in the YouTube version.

If you live in Edmond, Oklahoma, or the Oklahoma City area and are able, please visit our church (First Presbyterian of Edmond) and consider attending our Sunday School class! You can check out past lessons as well as our upcoming schedule, continuing our focus on “Gospel Encounters” both historical and contemporary, by visiting pocketshare.speedofcreativity.org/ge/.

Salt and Light: Jesus’ Teachings in Matthew 5:13-16

This week in our “Gospel Encounters” adult Sunday School class we will continue our study and discussion of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5. Following verses 1-12, which we call “The Beatitudes” and we discussed last week, Jesus explains to his followers how we are called to act as both salt and light in our world. The Message presents these teachings in clear language:

‘“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.’

Here are the slides we will use during class to discuss and explore these verses.

Starting at the 1:16 timestamp, we will also view this depiction of these teachings by Jesus.

In the interest of time, I will likely just reference but not play the following videos, which include some of the cultural references to “a city on a hill” for me. These include President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address from the White House.

Another reference these verses bring to mind is the lighting of the warning beacons of Gondor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings.” This is the depiction in Peter Jackson’s third movie in the series, “The Return of the King.”

Last of all, the well known children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine,” has a very important second verse, which proclaims, “Jesus is the Light.” We will discuss tomorrow how this is a vital distinction. Unlike ancient and modern gnostics, as reformed and evangelical Christians we believe Jesus is the light of the world, and it is only through his grace and power that we can come to know our Father in Heaven and receive forgiveness for our sins. We are not the light, but we do seek to share and reflect the light of Jesus in our lives to a dark world hungering for truth, righteousness, love and all the fruits of God’s spirit.

Sermon Sketchnote on Psalms 78:1-8

This is my narrated sermon sketchnote and sketchnote for today’s sermon by Jen Howat on Psalms 78:1-8 at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma. Key points were:

  1. Don’t hide God’s good news about Jesus Christ!
  2. Remember God calls us to SHARE with others
  3. As disciples we should be reproducing: Helping GROW other disciples!
  4. People can’t follow Jesus if they haven’t heard about him from someone
  5. Remember those who POURED their lives into you as a believer, and resolve to “pour yourself” in a mentor/apprentice relationship into others
  6. It’s good for God to create TENSION in our hearts: Encouraging us to SHARE JESUS with others!

Psalm 2 Narrated Sketchnote: Remember The Lord Reigns

This is my sermon sketchnote and narrated sketchnote from today’s sermon on Psalm 2:

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭2:1-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Narrated Sermon Sketchnote: Chapter 22 of “The Story”

Today our church started a 10 week study for everyone, at all levels, based on the book “The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People” by Max Lucado (@MaxLucado) and Randy Frazee (@RandyFrazee). Adult Sunday School classes are studying “The Story,” as are our youth and children in Kids Ministries. Our pastors are preaching on the same chapter each week which is being studied in Sunday School. We are using this study to bring more unity to our congregation as our pastor nominating committee continues its search for a new senior pastor, which we hope will bear fruit later this year.

The Kindle eBook version of “The Story” is just $1.99, so that’s the one Shelly and I ordered to read on our iPads. As I’m trying to do with more frequency, I used the app ProCreate on my iPad and an Adonit Jot Pro stylus to create a sermon sketchnote today during the service. I’m continuing to add my sketchnotes to this Flickr album. I also exported the sketchnote from ProCreate as a video, imported it into iMovie for iPad, and slowed it down to 50% speed before adding some audio narration. The final video is 83 seconds long.

I added this video to a new YouTube playlist of my narrated sermon sketchnotes. This is the eighth one I’ve created and published to Youtube. For more information about using media to share your journey of discipleship with Jesus, see the project website for “Digital Witness 4 Jesus Christ” (www.dw4jc.com).

 

Chapel Talk (November 2015)

I will have an opportunity tomorrow to share an eight minute chapel talk with our upper division and middle division students. These are the slides and the message I plan to share.


Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Chapel Talk November 5, 2015 by Wesley Fryer

Good morning.

It is both an honor and a blessing to have an opportunity today to share a few words with you in this beautiful chapel, at our wonderful school. As a relative newcomer to our Casady family, I am still very much in awe of the amazing opportunities we have together as a community to not only learn and work, but also worship and grow spiritually. When I was growing up and going to elementary, middle and high school, my family moved five times. I lived in Arizona, Colorado, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, and Kansas before I finished the sixth grade, because my father was in the Air Force and was assigned to a new base every three to four years. Whenever we move to a new place and find ourselves in new surroundings, we slowly get used to a “new normal.” There is so much to be thankful for as a member of our Casady community, and I give God both thanks and praise for these blessings.

This morning I’d like to talk to with you about ideas that are both basic but also revolutionary. This is the reality of God’s existence, and the invitation that God extends to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, to have a relationship with him. This may sound like an overly simplistic message: After all, we are here in a Christian chapel, and some people might assume that everyone here acknowledges God’s reality and knows his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. In my life, however, I’ve learned that just because someone grows up in the church, and regularly attends church services, does not necessarily mean they believe God is real, or that they acknowledge and know his son, Jesus Christ.

If you have a Bible and can open it, I invite you to turn to the Gospel of John, in the 1st chapter, where I will read the first fourteen verses. I love all the gospels, but I particularly love the way John starts his gospel, reminding us that God has always existed, and always will exist. As finite beings, which have a mortal beginning and will have a mortal end, this is extremely hard for us to understand. Yet with God’s help and through faith, we can. In John 1 we read:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thanks be to God for this reading of his Word.

As our human race has developed more knowledge and named more of the amazing dynamics which we find on our marvelous planet, some people have and continue to believe that “our need” and “the space” for God in our world has diminished or even gone away altogether. I stand before you as a witness today, however, to tell you that perspective on God is mistaken. God is very real and very present today, as he was yesterday, and as he will be tomorrow. His son, Jesus Christ, stands at the door of our hearts this day, this morning, even right now as I share these words with you, knocking and asking to come in.

While God is always present around us, sometimes we are too busy or just don’t have our eyes open to see him and the work he is doing. I’d like to close my comments today by telling you a short story, when I dramatically witnessed both the reality and the saving power of God.

After I graduated from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, I lived and studied for a year in Mexico City before starting pilot training in Lubbock, Texas. I had flown about 40 hours in the T-37, which is a twin engine sub-sonic jet aircraft, when I had my first opportunity to fly solo (by myself) to the area where we were authorized to perform a variety of aerobatic maneuvers. These included things like an aelieron roll, a split – S, an immelman, a clover leaf, and other maneuvers that I could explain better if I used my hands and you could see them clearly. I’ll summarize by saying it was very cool to be able to fly a jet by yourself up to an area of empty airspace over the plains of West Texas, between 10,000 and 25,000 feet above sea level, and have about 20 minutes worth of jet fuel to burn doing aerobatic maneuvers.

Once I got into my area on my first solo flight away from the air base’s traffic pattern, I decided that I wanted to try doing three aelieron rolls in a row. One aelieron roll was a permitted procedure, but more than one in a row in a T-37 was not. In other more aerodynamic aircraft, you can simply push the stick to one side of the cockpit and do as many rolls as you want to without losing much altitude or airspeed. In the T-37, however, it was necessary to pull your nose up 30 degrees before doing a roll, because the nose dropped during the procedure. What ended up happening to me on a February day in 1994 when I tried three consecutive aileron rolls was that I got into a nose low, inverted dive and found myself zooming toward the ground at over 250 knots of airspeed. Instead of rolling wings level and pulling back to recover, I pulled back my throttles and pulled back on my control stick. This led to a dive recovery in which I exceeded 9 G’s. I did not black out, but I did completely lose my vision as the G forces pulled the blood down out of my head. I saw my airspeed going over 250 as I lost vision, and as I applied back pressure to try and recover my plane from the dive I prayed to God that he would save me.

No one actually knows how close to the ground I came in recovering my aircraft that day, because of the delay in the radar sweep from the air traffic control center monitoring aircraft in that area. What we do know is that I was well below 10,000 feet, and the G meter on my aircraft was maxed out to over 9 G’s. The maximum allowable G’s for T-37 pilots is 6.67 G’s. I landed my aircraft, did not zero out the G meter, and reported what happened knowing that could very well have been my last flight in pilot training. It was not, I was able to continue flying and solo again to the area several weeks later, but I certainly did not try doing three consecutive aelieron rolls in that airplane again.

I am sharing a brief part of that dramatic story with you today, because it clearly dramatized to me the reality of God and how he is able to answer our prayers when we call out to him for help. In your life, if you have not already, you are going to study and work with some extremely smart people who do not believe in God or that he even exists. I am a witness who can tell you that God is not only real, but He’s present with us right now, right here, today. Whether you find yourself now in a difficult struggle or just another “normal” day of school, God is available and wants to be the co-pilot of your life.

I encourage you to seek God and pray to Him this day, not only in the difficult times, but in the good ones as well. Thanks be to God for his grace, his love to us, his children who do not deserve it, and for his son who came to teach us how to live.

God bless each one of you this day. May today be filled with kindness and joy, and may we each share the love of God with each person we meet.

The Simple Life (Acts 2:42-47)

I created this sketchnote during a sermon shared by Jen Howat at our church on August 22, 2015. The focus verses for her sermon, titled “The Simple Life,” were Acts 2:42-47. This is from the Amplified Bible.

“And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers. And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers). And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].”

This is a narrated sketchnote I created by importing the video of my sketchnote, from Procreate, into iMovie. I slowed it down four times to give me more time for the narration, which is about two minutes long.

Narrated SketchNotes on Romans 14 & Luke 14

Today was my first day at our church to use the iPad app Procreate to create sketchnotes of both our Sunday School lesson and today’s sermon by our senior pastor, Mateen Elass. My friend Carol Anne McGuire (@rockourworld) is an avid sketchnoter each Sunday of sermons at her church in California, and I’m very inspired by her work. She posts all her sketchnotes (for sermons and other presentations) to this Flickr album.

I’ve been a fan of the iPad app “Brushes” for years, and created my own sketchnotes for my eBook single and book chapter on “visual notetaking” back in 2013. Unfortunately, however, when Brushes went to verson 3 it was a functional downgrade. The interface got worse, and the ability to export stopmotion-style animations of drawings as shareable videos was also eliminated. As a result, I’ve been on a quest to find a new iPad app to replace Brushes. Carol Anne recommended Procreate, and my initial experiences with the app today were superb. I really like it and look forward to learning how to use it more effectively.

Keep in mind, before I show you my creations today, that the goal of “sketchnoting” is NOT to create great or compelling art. The purpose is to more deeply process the ideas the sketchnoter is hearing, seeing and experiencing, and create a visual product which can be used later to “re-tell” the main ideas and points of the presentation. Sketchnotes are also handy to visually represent key ideas and share them on social media, which is critically important in our “attention economy.” Today I not only used Procreate to create and export static images of my sermon sketchnotes, but I also used it to export video versions which I later narrated using iMovie for iPad. I’ve taught my 4th and 5th grade STEM students the past couple of months how to use iMovie for iPad to narrated the Lego Stopmotion movies they’ve created in our Maker Studio, and those positive experiences led me to try narrating my sketchnotes today. For more information, links and resources about sketchnoting or creating “visual notes,” please see the visual notetaking page of Mapping Media to the Curriculum.

Our couples Sunday school class lesson today focused on Romans 14. Here’s my VERY child-like sketchnote. As a partial disclaimer, understand I forgot my stylus at home today so these visuals were drawn with my finger!

Sketch note about Romans 14 in Sunday Sc by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

Here is the 14 second narrated version of that sketchnote on Romans 14:

I also shared a few tweets on my @eyesrightblog Twitter channel during Sunday school class.

Here’s my sketchnote of Mateen Elass‘s sermon this morning, which focused on Luke 14:25-34.

Sketchnote about Luke 14 by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

Here is my 30 second narrated version:

I love sketchnoting, even though I’m not YET very good at it. I know I’ll get better with more practice! I added both of today’s sketchnotes to my Flickr set for Sketchnotes / Visual Notes. I can’t wait till next Sunday when I’ll have more opportunities to practice! Hopefully I’ll also remember to bring a stylus. 🙂

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