God Identifies Us By Giving His Holy Spirit

A powerful & important reminder this morning via Don Boyd’s message at our Friday Morning Men’s Group:

13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭13‬ NLT)

Identity is so important and I’m thinking about it more as our kids get older. I want to define my identity in Christ. I need to seek guidance and direction from God and His Holy Spirit. Today especially, My eyes are open to the direction God wants me to go in my life.

I know sometimes God brings us into situations of great discomfort to shift our thinking and behavior into a new direction. I think sometimes we bring ourselves into those situations by our own poor choices, but God has mercy on us and lifts us up with His grace when we call upon His name.

Please pray for me to have faith in the promises and truth of God and His word.

It is dark in the valley, but there is light & help above in the heavens.

Old Testament Prophesy About Jesus

We are starting a study of the book of Hebrews today. Here are some verses we read about Old Testament prophesy about Jesus.

I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. (‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7‬:‭14‬ NIV)

This verse calls us to worship God instead of the idols and images of our culture. How timeless this is, and relevant to us today in 2015!

All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols— worship him, all you gods! (‭Psalm‬ ‭97‬:‭7‬ NIV)

A reference to how God will balance the scales of justice, following the sacrifice of His Son, is included in these verses from Deuteronomy:

Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭32‬:‭43‬ NIV)

We discussed how references to Angels (heavenly beings) indicate they are finite and not immortal. In these verses the words “They will perish” can be understood to reference Angels. I have not ever thought of angels as finite.

He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (‭Hebrews‬ ‭1‬:‭10-12‬ NIV)

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. 🙂

Straight Paths

These are my sketchnotes for today’s sermon, about Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ NIV)

I used My Sketch Paper HD on my iPhone to create this, it is a two dollar app. It has a lot of in app purchases, and I will probably will not use it again.

Inspired by Oscar to Watch God’s Not Dead #GodsNotDead

One of the highlights of my fall semester last year was getting to know one of my 4th grade students, Edgar, a little better. In October I learned about the absolutely fantastic builds he’s made on the Android version of Minecraft Pocket Edition, and a week later we recorded this 15 minute video together where he took me on a tour of his creations. The things he has built in Minecraft are truly spectacular. In addition to recording that video, I was able to share the video with most of my STEM classes in subsequent weeks to highlight his creativity and Minecraft skills as exemplary. I think that meant a lot to him. I received a very sweet Christmas note from him just before break.

Christmas note from a student by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

After making a connection to Oscar through Minecraft, he started bringing some different DVD videos to school for me to borrow and watch. The first one was about tornados and stormchasers. The second one was the 2014 movie, “God’s Not Dead,” which I’d heard about but never seen.

As a STEM teacher, I talk a great deal about science, our scientific understanding of the universe, but don’t talk about my faith or Christianity. Talking about my faith during class in a public school, as a public school teacher, would not be appropriate. I think Oscar loaned me the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” (he actually had checked it out of a local public library) because he things I’m an atheist. I asked him if he wanted me to watch the movie so we could discuss it, and he said yes. We didn’t have an opportunity to visit about it before Christmas break, and I won’t have him in class during the spring semester because of our rotation schedule for STEM and Art classes. I was very touched that he wanted me to watch the movie, however, and I plan to talk privately with him about this at an opportune moment when we get back to school.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Friday morning after Christmas (when Mark Veasey shared his testimony) one of the guys at my table for our men’s group was talking about having just seen “God’s Not Dead.” I told him one of my students had loaned me the movie to watch, and this friend (Ron Bath) encouraged me to watch it.

A few nights ago, 4 of the members of our family watched “God’s Not Dead” on AppleTV. We had to buy it, however, since it’s not for rent from iTunes. It is a very good movie. It raises some great questions and issues, and led to some good conversations with our girls, particularly with Rachel (who is 11.) There is some discussion in the film of acknowledged atheist Stephen Hawking’s evolving views on the origin of the universe, and that was more meaningful to the girls and I since we’d recently watched “A Theory of Everything” at the movie theater. That film is the biography of Stephen Hawking, and was also worthwhile to see. It included much less about theoretical physics than I’d hoped it would, but it made a big connection with our older daughter and her understanding of ALS. Afterwards at dinner she made the connection, “So THAT is what the ‘ice bucket challenge‘ was raising money to try and cure?!”

I thought the portrayal of Christians and Christianity in “God’s Not Dead” was very good. Certainly there are all kinds of beliefs and Christian denominations, and it’s impossible to generalize with complete accuracy what “Christian faith” means to everyone. The movie’s focus on “God is good, all the time,” and that God places us in exactly the right place at the right time to do his work resonated deeply with me. The college professor who is a main character in the film grapples with the existence of evil, and like many others has anger for how a benevolent Creator could exist who would allow evil to apparently flourish in the world. Without a doubt this is a HUGE question, and one which turns many people away from faith in God around the world.

Because I continue to personally EXPERIENCE the reality and power of God’s existence through prayer and my shared life experiences in our family and community of faith, I do not see any incompatibility between my love and interest in science and my faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. I continue to be humbled and grateful at the ways God opens up doors in my life, my wife’s life, and the lives of others to serve Him and love others. I count it a great personal blessing to have been able to teach Oscar for the past five months. I’m glad he wanted me to see the movie, “God’s Not Dead.” As the lyrics to The Newsboys title track for the movie say:

My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion

Praise God for his goodness and his faithfulness! My God bless you and your family this new year in 2015.

Comparing Translations of Romans 12:2

We are reading and studying Romans 12:2 in Sunday School today. This is one of my favorite passages of the Bible. The NIV version is the more familiar version:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

This is the version in “The Message:”

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ MSG)

One of my favorite parts is “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..” The message says this well: Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.

These verses particularly speak to me when it comes to discerning God’s will. As a metaphor for this, I think about a marinating steak. I need to “marinate” myself continually in God’s Word to follow these mandates, recorded by the apostle Paul. I need to spend time in prayer each day. I need to regularly seek the community and fellowship which comes within the body of Christian believers.

Oh how I need the encouragement of these verses from Romans! Praise to God that He sent his own son to earth, and provides ways today for us to live in relationship with Him!

Tonight’s cloud show by rkramer62, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  rkramer62 

God Saved Us Because of His Mercy

A verse shared at our men’s group this morning:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (‭Titus‬ ‭3‬:‭4-7‬ NIV)

Our Need to Rest

We need to carve out time each week for rest:

Mark 6:30-31 NIV

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

The Law Reveals Our Need for God

These words from the Apostle Paul reveal to us our need for God. The law, given to the Jews and now to us as Christians through the Old Testament and the words of the prophets, shows us how we always fall short of God’s expectations when we rely on ourselves.

Romans 3:20 NIV

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

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