Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hello, My Name is... An Epiphany Journey

St. John's in Dover is starting a new sermon series during the season of Epiphany, that lasts from the end of Christmas, Dec. 6th, until the beginning of Lent. Epiphany is the day traditionally celebrated as the arrival of the Magi from the East bearing gifts for the young child, Jesus. Although, typically cast as part of the nativity on Christmas day, scholars believe that the Magi arrived a couple years later. The meaning most commonly attributed to their visit is one that expresses that Jesus is for all people.

The Advent series that St. John's just finished was "Name Above All Names" that explored the names and attributes of God. This series will journey through the names we are given as the children of God. To know our identity in Christ is to hold onto the promises, care and love that our God has for all his children and creation.

I have created special sermon notes for the series. There is a different name for each week. The files will be posted below with each description. Here are some of Pastor CJ's thoughts on "Hello, My Name is..." from the January St. John's Journal.

Identity theft. Very few things strike the kind of fear into the hearts of people as these two words do. We have heard horror stories about someone who was a victim of this. We have seen the news stories that warn of hackers obtaining the personal information for millions of people at a time. We have seen the commercials on TV that promise peace of mind in the face of a threat that we are otherwise helpless against.
Our identity is a very personal thing. We have only got one, and if something happens to that identity it can create all sorts of headaches and problems for us. While this is certainly a very important topic that we do not want to treat lightly, identity theft as we know it is not nearly as significant issue as spiritual identity theft.
Spiritual identity theft is not something that threatens our bank accounts or social security numbers. It is much more serious than that. While it is not something that will cause us to lose our eternal salvation, it is something that will seriously hinder our discipleship and the life that we live with God as his people. Spiritual identity theft will steal our joy. It will give us a false understanding of who we are. It will make us miss out on the hope, peace, and certainty that comes from knowing that we belong to God.
Spiritual identity theft causes us to live lives marked and motivated by fear, worry, and uncertainty. It hinders our abilities to move and act because lives marked by fear, worry, and uncertainty, are often too scared to take action. Or, even worse, being motivated by fear can cause us to do things that we would not otherwise do under different circumstances. Spiritual identity theft can even cause us to wonder if God really does love us, and whether his promises really apply to us or not. Spiritual identity theft is what happens when we live our lives according to an identity that is different from, and sometimes even contrary to, the identity that God has given us in Jesus.
It is nearly impossible to live the Christian life without knowing who and whose we are. While the devil, the world, and our sinful nature will work hard to steal our attention and focus away from our true spiritual identity, this is not a threat against which we are helpless.
When we understand the true identity that our God gives to us, we live with a sense of purpose and certainty. When we understand the true identity that our God gives to us, we live in hope and certainty. When we understand the true identity that our God gives to us, we live in the confidence that comes from knowing how he sees us, loves us, and values us.
During the season of Advent, the season theme was entitled The Name Above All Names. It was a series that looked at some of the different names and titles given to Jesus. This was a series that was all about his identity.
Having this understanding, it makes sense that the next thing we would do would be to look at our own identity as God’s people. During the season of Epiphany, that is exactly what we will do. As we consider the gospel lessons for the season, we will focus on a specific concept that is connected to, and helps us to better understand our true identity. These are the concepts we will be talking about: beloved, known, included, restored, healed, and adopted.

BELOVED - Mark 1:4-11 We are dearly and deeply loved by God. As we look at the baptism of Jesus this week, we see how, in our own baptism, God calls us his beloved sons and daughters. CLICK HERE FOR BELOVED NOTES
KNOWN - John 1:43-51 It is a great gift to be known by someone. It means that we matter and are important to them. As we see Jesus’ knowledge of his disciples, we are encouraged in knowing that he knows us too. CLICK HERE FOR KNOWN NOTES
INCLUDED - Mark 1:14-20 Being left out is never a fun experience. This is never something we have to worry about with our God. By his grace, he has given to us a place in his kingdom and family. We are included. CLICK HERE FOR INCLUDED NOTES
RESTORED - Mark 1:21-28 While sin has separated us from God, we can know that in Jesus we have had the price paid for all of our sins. We are forgiven. Because we are forgiven, we are also restored to God. CLICK HERE FOR RESTORED NOTES
HEALED - Mark 1:29-39 We live in and experience much brokenness in our lives. Jesus heals that. As God’s people, we live in the certainty of knowing that he answers our prayers for healing now, and that we will be ultimately and perfectly healed in the new creation. CLICK HERE FOR HEALED NOTES
ADOPTED - Mark 9:2-9 God does not just give us a place in his kingdom and family. He makes us members of his family. He makes us his own children. He makes us his own dearly loved daughters and sons. As we hear God say  that Jesus is his son with  whom he Is well pleased, we can know with great confidence that we are also dearly loved sons and daughters. CLICK HERE FOR ADOPTED NOTES
These are concepts that show us how God sees us. These concepts show us how God relates to us. These things reveal God’s heart to us, and allow us to understand the ways in which he sees us. These concepts show us what our true identity is.
The true identity that our God gives to us is one of the most wonderful and important gifts that we have. As we focus on this, and incorporate it into our lives, we are able to let go of those things that would threaten spiritual identity theft. We are not stuck to live lives marked by fear, worry, and uncertainty. Our true identity assures us of this, and enables us to live in the hope, peace, joy, and love that comes from living life as God’s dearly loved daughters and sons.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Day Devotion

Here are the files for the Christmas Day Devotion. There is also an extra file to print to use for sermon notes on Christmas Day, if your church has a worship service.

God's peace and blessings! Merry Christmas!

Download Christmas Day HERE

Sermon note HERE

Christmas Eve

Sorry this is being posted just the day before, on Christmas Eve Eve! I hope this blesses your sermon note taking tomorrow. I will also later post a devotion and readings for Christmas Day. St. John's does not have a Christmas Day service, instead we send home a devotion to read. There will be no section for sermon notes on this one. However, I will upload and extra file for Christmas day notes if you'd like space for notes if your church has a service so you can complete your devotion booklet.

Download Christmas Eve HERE

Sermon note back HERE

Monday, December 18, 2017

Advent Week 3

Advent Week 3 insert for Wednesday services is now available to download HERE.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Happy Advent! Happy New Year!

Yes, Happy New Year! Advent marks the beginning of the church year, not the end. What an awesome way to celebrate new beginnings, with the anticipation of the birth of our Messiah and looking forward to His return.

For many, Advent has already started. But here at St. John's, our Advent series, Name Above All Names, starts this Wednesday evening.  This year's devotion focuses on some of the names and attributes given to Jesus in scripture. Yeshua, Immanuel, Yahweh, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.

This devotion forms a booklet with a cover, that has a double side for the inside of it, to print on the back of the cover. There are inserts for three Wednesdays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There is also a file to print a space for notes on the back of the inserts. We will be using them in church but you don't have to print the note boxes on the back for at home, if you don't want to. There are also a set of ornaments you can print and color to hang on your tree.

Right now I have this Wednesday and Next Wednesdays devotions available, along with the cover, backs and ornaments. I will upload the others as I complete them. As usual, all files are formatted to fit legal size 8.5 x 14 paper.

for file click here

for file click here

for file click here

for Advent Week 1 Yeshua click here
for Advent Week 2 Immanuel click here
Back of weekly sheet notes here

Friday, October 6, 2017

gratitude & grace

Not only is fall my favorite season because of the weather and the pumpkin spice, it is also the time of year when we tend to focus on gratitude. As the holiday season approaches, we start to think about the things we are thankful for. So as the leaves change color and the air becomes crisp, and Thanksgiving is just eight weeks away!, lets take the time to slow down before the Christmas rush and be grateful for what we have.

This is a short, easy, yet profound devotional practice resource I've created. It is simply remembering just a few things a day you give God thanks for. It is called gratitude and grace. There is ample room for coloring, writing in and around shapes and slowing down to reflect. I've included images from Doodle Art Ally and Praying In Color, along with my own wreath design on the front with a short word study and introduction inside.

I thoroughly enjoyed discovering the word connections between grace, thanksgiving and Eucharist, communion. Remembering and reconnecting constantly to our Lord is our joy, which was made complete in Christ. I invite you to spend time giving thanks and experiencing grace. To truly see our living God present in your life and reaching out to you in your struggles.

There are three pages. The cover and inside may be printed back to back or folded to fit inside one another. The third sheet is extra space to record what you are giving thanks for. As always, each document is for legal size 8.5x14 paper.

click here to download

click here to download

click here to download

Here is an example of how to use the word grace from Doodle Art Ally to record your gratitude. This is the word listen coloring sheet that I used in my own prayer time. Feel free to use any of the space around the word grace to write or you may just color as you recall your thanksgivings.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tending the Flame Confirmation and Ministry Resources

Here are the tools and resources presented at Tending the Flame workshop Confirmation Faith Books and Other Ministry Resources. The worksheets use writing, drawing and creative interaction in the education and personal faith life of the Confirmands. The congregation of St. John's uses various Visual Faith resources throughout the ministry in order to promote deeper discipleship in prayer, worship, bible study and personal devotion time.

All files are free to download, print and distribute. Please do not alter or package for sale in any way.
Click on the titles below to download.

Being a Blessing

God Action Reflection

Discussion Reflection for Faith at Home

Weekly Prayers Basic
Weekly Prayers side 1
Weekly Prayers side 2

Service Reflection side 1
Service Reflection side 2

Sermon Notes side 1
Sermon Notes side 2 questions

Key for Bible Journaling
Bible Margin Samples

Older Worksheets
Sermon Reflection
Worship Reflection

Sample Sheets
Coloring Page
Illustrated Sermon Note

For more resources click on the Faith Book and Sermon Notes tab above. You can also find information on how to teach Visual Faith under the Visual Faith Resources tab. For a blog post about sharing and using Visual Faith click HERE