Archives For Bible Reading

Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.




Hey guys. I got a deal for you that involves the next episode of Youth Ministry 6.3! I interviewed Andy Blanks who is the cofounder of Youth Ministry 360 and we talk a little bit about blogging. He gave me a free resource called VIVID which is a 6-week study of the book of James. It is a $69.99 dollar value that I want to give you free. Seriously. Here’s the catch…I only have one of them so it will be a random drawing. All you have to do is

1. Subscribe to my blog (

2. Comment on the post that will include the video interview. I will send it to you tomorrow.

Then I will do a random drawing based on comments and mail you the lessons for free! Sound cool? Spread the word though and e-mail your youth ministry contacts (forward this) and I will select it on Friday. Post will come out tomorrow and drawing will come out on Friday.

Here is a link to the free resource…


There is no doubt in my mind that this post is going to offend some of you and if it does then I am truly sorry.  Do what you normally do when you disagree with something I (or someone else) say…ignore it. 

I am concerned that we (Christianity/the Church) have fostered what Kenda Creasy Dean so eloquently defines as a “do-good, feel-good spirituality that has little to do with the Triune God of Christian tradition and even less to do with loving Jesus enough to follow him into the world” (Almost Christian, p. 4).  There is a lot to unpack and there is not “one-thing” that is causative for this pop-psychology “blue-skies-and-rainbows” type spirituality.  Dean points to many factors but something that is foundational is our theology (or lack thereof) that shapes a pat-you-on-the-back approach to Christianity.  Please do not misunderstand me as I am all about words of affirmation and encouragement as people who are in deep moments of despair need words immersed in grace and hope.  That is not what I am talking about.  I am speaking of the sermons, classes, youth talks, books and conversations all that funnel our spiritual formation into one idea: what makes me feel good for the day.  Part of that funnel process is how we approach Scripture. 

Reading on Facebook and looking at all of the daily devotional material it is doubtless that you have not come across the verse-of-the-day approach to spirituality.  Verse-of-the-day approaches to spiritual formation seem to limit what God had in mind with Scripture.  I receive verses of the day through Twitter (4 different groups), Facebook (3 different groups, numerous people) and e-mail.  I tend not to read the verses of the fday because most of them are the same.  They are designed to make you feel better about the day in a self-help, pick-you-up type of approach.  Notice you will see verses like Genesis 50:20; Isaiah 40:31; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 6:6-8; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13; James 4:7, 10; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11; and anything in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  Don’t get me wrong because those verses are all amazing and life-changing.  But all have a context located in Scripture but also a historical context.  You don’t get that on a Twitter feed or on a status update.  Two problems I see with this approach:

  1. This approach has the danger of taking verses out of context.  Jeremiah 29:11 is my classic example: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Little do they realize that in context God is speaking to the people who will have to endure exile in Babylon for 70 years (29:10)!  Then they will propser!  That doesn’t sound so appealing on a coffee-cup does it? 
  2. This approach has the danger of neglecting other verses in Scripture.  I jokingly put on my facebook status these words: “Anti-coffee cup verse: ‘When a man or a woman has spots on the skin of the body, white spots, the priest shall look, and if the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out in the skin; he is clean’ (Lev. 13:38-39).”  I wanted to make the point that nobody puts that as a daily bible verse (rightfully so) but does it deserve any less attention?  Nobody “liked” that on my status nor did they comment on that.  Furthermore, the verses that we may need to be paying attention to are often the verses that do not pop-up in our verse-of-the-day websites (Luke 13:3 anyone?).    

The flip side of this discussion is that these things are not bad in-and-of-themselves.  If they aide you in a daily walk with God then it is a good thing.  But these things should never be ends to the goal of spiritual formation.  Reading the bible in 90 days (or a year) has the same danger as the verse-of-the-day approach.  We need to learn how to read Scripture and read it well.  We should not neglect the “tough” parts of the bible just because we can’t understand them.  There are books upon books that are written to teach you how to read the bible.  Matter-of-fact there is a book called, How to read the bible for all its worth.  Check it out sometime.  

I hope this blog post has challeneged you and if I offended you…I am sorry and ignore it.