God Empowers Us to Serve Others Through Trials

Yesterday’s Sunday School lesson, as well as sermon, both focused on why we have pain and suffering in our world. These are tough topics for anyone to address. I was and am thankful to for the opportunity to facilitate this lesson at church for several reasons, however. This has been a topic on my mind and heart more frequently than usual in the past few months. It’s also, according to Barna research, the most common question asked by people about God everywhere. “Why does God allow pain and suffering in our world?”

One idea which emerged during our class discussion yesterday is this: While we often (or always) “come up short” understanding the grand plans of God and how individual cases of pain or suffering fit into them, as Christians we often DO experience situations where God empowers us to serve others through our trials and through the trials of others. As one of the speakers in the longer video we watched yesterday explained, often our best response when someone comes to us in pain and suffering is to embrace them and cry with them. We may not have “the answers,” but do have the capacity to love and support each other. We can embrace others and embrace God through faith, and have confidence that God is the one opening the door for us to love each other through our struggles and our dark valleys.

This is also one of the most important ideas which emerged for me yesterday during our lesson: God invites us to call upon him and use the name of Jesus to bring strength, peace, healing, and love into our darkest and most painful moments. I have experienced times like these in my own life, when I have literally cried out to God for help and assistance to bring me back from the abyss of despair. It’s a bad place to be, and an especially bad place to be ALONE. But that’s exactly one of the key messages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: We go nowhere alone. God goes with us, and he promises to never abandon us or forsake us. What good news this is to everyone facing the suffering and trials of this life! We may be uncertain about the timetable of God’s cosmic plans and how our lives fit into them, but we can be certain about His reality and His provision in our times of need.

The name of Jesus is powerful! Do not hesitate to call upon the Lord when you are feeling isolated or alone, when you are suffering and full of despair. Call upon the name of Jesus to fill you with God’s Holy Spirit in all circumstances, whether they are filled with light or darkness. This is the Good News of the Gospel, that Jesus came to save us from our sins and the destructive power it has in our world. God wins. And we’re on God’s side. This is good news.

A couple more items from yesterday’s lesson.

Here’s the short video I shared with our class, as I gave a brief summary and enthusiastic recommendation of The Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. Sarah and I were able to spend about 4 hours there last week during our visit to the area, and it was fantastic!

Here is a 44 second time lapse version of my sermon sketchnote yesterday, on Eric Laverentz’s (@ericlav) message, “The Problem of Sin.” I drew this and exported this video with the ProCreate app for iPad. Learn more about creating sermon sketchnotes in this chapter of “Pocket Share Jesus: Be a Digital Witness for Christ.” I added quite a bit more to this chapter over the weekend, but still need to add more to the chapter on “Narrated Sketchnotes.”

It worked well to use the website mentimeter.com yesterday to get members of our class to respond to a question using their smartphones. I used this as an opening question on the screen when class members came into class, “What is your favorite encouraging Bible verse?” This was a good way to start a relatively “heavy” lesson on pain and suffering.

May God bless you richly this week as you seek Him and strive to better understand His call upon your life. Make no mistake, God will open doors for you to not only draw closer to him in relationship, but also serve others with whom you have contact today and this week as you ask Him to.

Praise God for His love and the revelation of His truth through His Holy Word. Have a great week!

App Smash: Creating Bible Info Pics

Today I’m sharing a chapel talk at school for upper division, middle division, and lower division students. The talk is repeated, so I’ll simplify it in several ways for the younger elementary students. The title of the talk is, “Pocket Share Jesus with Bible Verse InfoPics.” These are my slides, which include a sped-up video (4X) showing the steps for using these apps. iPhone apps demonstrated include the YouVersion Bible, Safari with the website PhotosForClass.com, Adobe Spark Post, Instagram and EchoFon.

I created a 7 minute narrated screencast demonstrating these steps as well, which I published to YouTube.

These resources are now included on the InfoPics page of the “Digital Witness for Jesus Christ” website, as well as the “Pocket Share Jesus” page where I’m sharing presentation slides on the topics of this project.

This is a work in progress! Please send feedback / suggestions to @wfryer on Twitter or via webform.

Narrated Sermon Sketchnotes on Acts 19:1-7 by Eric Laverentz

This is my sketchnote and narrated sermon sketchnotes for Eric Laverentz’ sermon at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma, on July 29, 2016. Eric was nominated by our Pastor Nominating Committee to serve as our new “lead pastor,” and this was his sermon on Acts 19:1-7, right before our congregational meeting in which we voted to approve that nomination! The title of his sermon was, “The Christian’s Guide to Starting a Riot.” Eric encouraged us in the sermon to become a “Lampstand Church,” which supports members as we take meaningful stands in our culture for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericlav. Eric is the author of the book, “Is Caesar Our Savior?” 

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!

Sketchnoting the reality of Christ’s Resurrection

Today in our church service Carl Bosteels preached about the reality of Christ’s resurrection from death on the cross, and read Luke 24:1-12. This was the week’s lesson in our ongoing congregational study of the book, “The Story.” Since Shelly continues to serve on our pastor nominating committee, which meets on Sunday mornings during the early service, I attended both church services today and made sketchnotes during each. I exported both from the iPad app ProCreate as videos, slowed them down by a factor of two, and then narrated them in iMovie for iPad. The narrated video, embedded below, is 29 seconds long. I added both to my Flickr Sketchnotes album, which now has 38 creations in it.

 

 

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. 🙂

Family Advent Service

Today for the first time in as long as I can remember, our family stayed home on Sunday morning and didn’t go to church. There was a lot of ice on our cars, and although the roads were clear it seemed right to stay home. We had a wonderful morning together and decided later we’d have a family church service together. We have shared short family devotionals together previously, especially before Christmas during the Advent season, but it is not (unfortunately) something we have done often. Tonight’s family church service, then, was particularly meaningful and special. I’d hoped it would be a time when everyone could participate: sharing, singing, praying, and reading from God’s Word. It was.

Family Advent Service

We used our AppleTV to project the lyrics to “The First Noel,” which we opened with, and these words from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)

We used this description of the four candles of advent (though it differs slightly from our church tradition) and read a meditation from “God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Flipboard magazine: On Faith, God & Jesus

I love the iPad app Flipboard. It is, without a doubt, the best way to read information that others share with you via social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The only other iPad magazine I currently read which can compare is National Geographic, but that is written and curated by professional journalists.

I started a new @flipboard magazine today: “On Faith, God & Jesus.” The description I wrote is:

A collection of articles and posts related to Christianity, religion, and faith aggregated by Wesley Fryer. Including an article here does not constitute the endorsement of or agreement by the aggregator (Wes) with the topics addressed or opinions expressed. For the opinions of Wes related to issues of faith, see his Christian blog, “Eyes Right” on http://pocketshare.speedofcreativity.org

I hope you subscribe and share this with others. I won’t post to this Flipboard magazine as often as I do to my edtech Fipboard magazine, “iReading with Wes,” but I’ll post periodically when I find and read / watch / listen to thought provoking content related to faith, God and Jesus.

Be A Digital Witness for Jesus

Today at the 61st annual Men’s Conference at Mo-Ranch near Hunt, Texas, I shared a presentation titled, “Be A Digital Witness for Jesus.” I audio recorded the second session, and added that audio to my presentation slides on SlideRocket. You an hear the entire 60 minute presentation by pressing “play” on the embedded version below, but you’ll have to manually advance the slides because it doesn’t appear that SlideRocket lets me set the synchronization/advance timings.

Please access all referenced resources on this Google Site, including all videos except the profane one I discussed briefly. I don’t have the presentation slide I used for it or the video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” included on SlideRocket, I added those slides after I’d already uploaded my presentation.

If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please share this idea with your own church members and encourage them (especially your youth) to get involved documenting the stories of faith in your community. We all can be digital witnesses for Jesus.