Monday, June 30, 2008

Deep Comedy

God is a storyteller.

I've read the Bible for a number of years, but when I made the above discovery, it forever changed how I approach Scripture.

Here's what I mean. Stories always work in two ways. First, there's a plot. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is obvious. Second, what's not so obvious is that good stories speak to our heart and seek to persuade us-- to believe a certain thing or act a particular way.

Discovering how stories work has been a growing interest of mine. Books like Annette Simmon's Story Factor and Robert McKee's Story are excellent resources in appreciating the magic of stories.

But how does the Biblical story work? What does it say about God and how He works in the world?

Addressing that question in unique fashion is Peter Leithart in his book, Deep Comedy. His thesis is fascinating:
The Christian account of history is eschatological not only in the sense that it comes to a definitive and everlasting end, but in the sense that the end is a glorified beginning, not merely a return to origins. The Christian Bible moves not from garden lost to garden restored, but from garden to gardencity. God gives with interest. To say the same in other words, though the Bible gives full recognition to sin and its effects on creation and humanity, the Christian account of history is ultimately comic...

“Tragedy” is... very loosely... a story in which the characters begin neutrally or well, but slide inexorably to a bad end; “comedy” is a story in which the characters may face dangers, perhaps dangers of great intensity, but ultimately rise to a happy ending. “Deep comedy” brings two additional nuances: First, in deep comedy the happy ending is uncontaminated by any fear of future tragedy, and, second, in deep comedy the characters do not simply end as well as they began, but progress beyond their beginning. Comedy may move from glory to glory restored, but deep comedy moves from glory to added glory. While the classical world did produce comedy, it did not produce “deep comedy.”

What I mean by “tragedy” and “deep comedy” may best be captured by two biblical citations. “The last state is worse than the first”—Jesus’ saying [in Matthew 12:45] can serve as a summary of ancient sensibility about history. “Deep comedy” is best exemplified by the vision of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22, and particularly by Revelation 21:4: “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be death; there shall no longer be mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Leithart suggests that only a Trinue God-- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-- would write such a story and argues his case by illustrating how no such "deep comedy" is found in Greco-Roman literature. I think Leithart has unlocked an incredible key to understanding God's story and I'm profoundly grateful.

Leithart's thesis not only applies to eschatology-- the end times-- but also to personal salvation and sanctification. Growing into the image and character of Jesus can be a roller coaster experience, but at our glorification, we'll be far better off than when we started.

Funny indeed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dobson Tees Off on Obama

The Christian blogosphere is criticizing Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson after harsh words he made against Barack Obama on a Tuesday radio broadcast.

Reacting to a speech Obama gave two years ago at a Sojourners' convention, Dobson accused Obama of "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview," and called Obama's suggestion for how religious people should engage in politics, the "lowest common denominator of morality," labeling it "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed said, "Dobson and his companion commentator routinely distorted what Obama was saying by rephrasing and capturing what he said in their own context and for their own agendas." Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, responded saying "Dobson either didn't understand it or is deliberately distorting it." Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, leader of the largest Methodist congregation in the country, went so far as to establish a website called "James Dobson Doesn't Speak for Me."

My reaction to Dobson? His method of criticizing Obama was a waste of precious broadcast time. He was too emotional, too concerned about Obama's reference to himself, and failed to substantially engage Obama's argument on how religious people should conduct themselves in politics.

What sparked Dobson's "fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution" was this remark by Obama:
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality."
Obama's point is well taken in this sense: If religiously motivated people want to succeed in a democracy, argue your case based on reason and "universal" values. That's good strategy. And actually, Christians do that already. My only reaction is that democracy doesn't demand this. In the public square, people can argue their case any way they want. So if they want to cite Scripture or make religion specific arguments, let them do so.

When it comes to Obama's use of Scripture, Dobson said, "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology." In tit for tat fashion, Obama responded the following day that Dobson was, "making stuff up." Dobson's anger arose from this Obama quote from that speech two years ago:
"And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles."
Obama poses a hypothetical question: that if we were strictly a nation of only Christians, what method of interpretation (or hermeneutic) would be used to understand the Bible's message and in turn govern ourselves? Dobson misses the question entirely.

Rhetorically though, Obama's question is an obvious jab at "literalists" or conservative Christians-- evidenced by the remark, "Folks haven't been reading their bibles (sic)." No, reading the Bible isn't the problem as much as it is interpreting the Bible and by extension interpreting how faith should translate into political action. Dobson's arrows of criticism would be far more effective if he went in that direction. Like this:

So how does Obama read his Bible? He thinks the Sermon on the Mount puts demands on government to dismantle its military! Imagine that in the day we live in!

How does Obama put faith into political action? Listen to this:
And by the way, we need Christians on Capitol Hill, Jews on Capitol Hill and Muslims on Capitol Hill talking about the estate tax. When you've got an estate tax debate that proposes a trillion dollars being taken out of social programs to go to a handful of folks who don't need and weren't even asking for it, you know that we need an injection of morality in our political debate.
You work hard all your life and at your death, Obama believes government should take away and deny your loved ones your hard earned money because you obviously "don't need it" nor were you "asking for it." Elect Obama and elect a President who truly believes he's entitled to take away your money.

Here's the bottom line: Dobson is a radical conservative, pro-life, and pro-traditional marriage. Obama is a radical liberal, pro-abortion, and pro-same-sex civil unions. While I share Obama's faith, in no way do I share his politics.

May we who are Christians decide with an informed and prayerful faith.

And let democracy decide.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

K-O Conference News

This was in the email box this morning:


This is a busy week in our conference life beginning on Monday with a meeting of persons interested in White Memorial Camp, followed by a meeting of the Personnel Committee. Tuesday the Conference Council met and today, Wednesday, the Annual Meeting Planning Committee meets. Rev. Jane Heckles from the Office of our General Minister and President, Rev. John Thomas, has been with us for these meetings. We are glad for her presence and good counsel.

There were important actions taken that I want to share with you. First, Rev. Kathy McCallie was elected to the position of Conference Council President. Kathy was serving as the Acting President and is now officially the Conference President. The second action taken by the Personnel Committee and affirmed by the Council was to appoint Mr. Ron Klein to the position of Temporary Camp Director for White Memorial Camp. Ms. Glenda Bower will continue as chairperson of the Program Committee. Mr. Jim Powers will serve as the temporary chair of the Site Committee. Rev. Sam Askew is serving as the chairperson of the Personnel Committee and Rev. John Austin as the Secretary. There will be a more complete report in the next issue of the K-O Focus.

Rev. McCallie has characterized this as a time of healing, forgiveness and hope. May it be so.


Rev. Dr. David Hansen
Conference Minister

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Garage Sale

My burden feels a little lighter today.

Saturday, my wife and I put together our very first garage sale and we got rid of a bunch of stuff.

Melissa was glad to pass on about 10 boxes of children's clothing. I was pleased when someone bought 3 years worth of Astronomy Magazine for $2.00.

The "professional" garage salers come early. They're an entire sub-culture-- collectors looking for specific things or scroungers searching for a bargain so they can turn around and make a buck. Then there's the stragglers who happen to stop by and find something they like. When junk is a quarter, it's hard to resist.

My wife and I each took a turn making a mistake while the other one was away for a moment. Melissa sold a children's book I didn't want to sell. I sold something for $1 when Melissa wanted $5.

Putting together a garage sale takes a lot of effort and cooperation. We spent all day Friday deciding what to put in the sale, moving stuff to the garage, and setting up tables and merchandise.

I'm still wondering if all that work was worth the $20 we made.

Better than the money is the satisfaction that our life is tad more simplified.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Comedian George Carlin Dies

Woke up this morning to hear the news that comedian George Carlin died last night.

If you were a teenager growing up in the 70's, like me, then you certainly heard George Carlin. His records were never at my house-- Mom and Dad wouldn't permit that-- but they were at my friends', and he often appeared on Saturday Night Live.

There's no doubt Carlin was a funny man, a gifted comic with biting social insight. I remember once hearing him do a stand up routine on SNL that left me in stitches. Carlin was a man of his culture. He broke down social barriers while advocating personal freedom and a do whatever you like attitude-- made famous by his "7 Words You Can Never Say on TV."

What made Carlin good was his ability to analyze society and the human soul. As the Associated Press wrote, Carlin was "as much a social commentator and philosopher as comedian, a position he would relish through the years." Much of Carlin's view on life is reflected here in this quote:
"The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things - bad language and whatever - it's all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition," Carlin told the AP in a 2004 interview. "There's an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. ... It's reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have."
I'm not going to kick dirt on Carlin's grave, but in light of his death, Carlin's argument will get increased attention, and its one worthy of engaging. I'm not sure if by "religious superstition," Carlin had in mind Christianity-- my guess is it does, since it was the most influential religion in Carlin's time. But actually, Carlin's description of the human body as evil is a gnostic belief, not a Christian one. It's gnosticism that believes the material world is inherently corrupt and the body is something to be escaped. A cursory reading of Genesis 1-3-- a foundational text to Jews and Christians-- shows that God made the human body and sex good. What Carlin likely doesn't like about "religion" is its assertion that we're accountable to God and that God puts parameters on how we use our body. Can the body and sex be misused and abused? Scripture answers with a loud "yes." If anything goes, nothing we do with our bodies is evil. God asserts in His Word that there are standards. Why are those not appropriate guidelines?

Carlin made you laugh and left you thinking.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Real Life Indiana Jones--Bible Style

"If you want to be an archaeologist, get out of the library." --Indiana Jones to a student, in the movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

My wife and I saw the new Indiana Jones movie the other day. Personally, I thought the story line was predictable and boring, even though Indy spends a lot of time acting like James Bond. I suppose if Indy acted like a real archaeologist, that wouldn't make for a very exciting movie.

However, there do exist today real life explorers who are making exciting discoveries. One of those adventurers is an old professor of mine, Dr. Dan Wallace of Dallas Seminary. Dan heads the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and their mission to preserve ancient hand written copies of the NT through digital photography.

In June 2007, Dan and his team traveled to Tirana, Albany to look at 13 manuscripts that were known to exist by Western scholars, yet were rarely seen and only two that had been photographed. When they arrived at the National Archive, they made an incredible discovery. 34 other manuscripts were also on-hand-- at least 17 of these were unknown to Western scholars. Never have so many unknown New Testament manuscripts been discovered at a single moment. A two week trip suddenly turned into nearly five weeks as the team photographed 18,000 pages, nearly a terabyte of data.

The oldest manuscript in the collection is Codex Beratinus, a codex that had been dyed in purple, with silver and gold letters written on it. Containing only Matthew and Mark today, this codex, written in the sixth century, is very rare because it is a royal codex. Only a handful of purple biblical codices still exist. The National Archive staff told of the great lengths that they had to go to protect this document. For example, during World War II, Hitler learned of it and sought it out. Several monks and priests risked their lives to hide the manuscript. Codex Beratinus is now registered with UNESCO as a world treasure.

Right now, Dan and his team are in Greece photographing manuscripts held by local monasteries. You can read updates here.

Indy got it right. You gotta get out of the library.

Picture above: An icon of St. Mark from Albanian National Archive manuscript # 10.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More K-O Conference Info

So much communication from Kansas-Oklahoma Conference. Never seen this before.

Dear Friends,

We are making good progress toward better communication and more healthy systems in our conference. A personnel committee has formed and is meeting soon to conduct evaluation and consultation around staff issues. Plans are being made for more opportunities for training to learn to work with the current bylaws and structure. We want your involvement in reflecting prayerfully and listening to each other with respect and care.

Below is a concise timeline with an overview of events that have transpired in recent months. We promise an update after each Conference Council meeting and an open-email box policy of receiving questions and comments. The next Conference Council meeting will be held in Wichita on Tuesday, June 24th. This is an open meeting, so all those interested are encouraged to attend. Only council members will be able to vote that day, but everyone will be welcome to speak.

At our meeting on June 13th the council identified many gifts and resources we have that are signs of God’s grace and power among us. We are grateful for the ministry of Jane Heckles and John Thomas whose office with the national staff are generously sharing wisdom, education, and assistance during this time. We are grateful for the great tradition of strong leadership in the past presidents of our Conference Council who gathered to reflect on our history and future. We are grateful for youth and those in youth ministry who shared their vision and commitment in our meeting. We are grateful for David Hansen’s ministry and the dedication of our conference staff. We see God’s healing power in the willingness of each member of the committees, commissions, and councils of our church connection.

Sincerely, Kathy McCallie
Conference Council President

The Timeline to Answer Some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
about “What Happened” concerning staffing in the K-O Conference in May, 2008

October 2007
Adoption of new Governance Structure

December 2007
Conference Council meeting postponed due to weather

January 2008
January Council meeting postponed due to ice

February 2008
Executive Committee of the Conference Council receives complaints about the performance of the Conference Minister

March 2008
  • March meeting postponed due to projected lack of quorum
  • Executive Committee continues to look into complaints, informs Personnel Committee and sets date for joint meeting w/ PC
April 2008
Executive Committee consults with national UCC and meets with the Personnel Committee on April 8th giving them material about two staff matters

May 1st
  • Personnel Committee placed David Hansen on administrative leave
  • Personnel Committee placed Ira Williams on administrative leave
May 7th
  • Meeting of the Conference Council
  • Executive Council announced that Ira Williams had resigned and it was voted to accept his emailed resignation
  • Executive Council announced that the David Hansen had asked for early retirement pending negotiation of acceptable terms of closure
  • Executive Council and Personnel Committee reported that they had a set of grievances about the Conference Minister that were confidential
  • Conference Council voted to cancel the 2008 summer camp season
  • Conference Council authorized the formation of a group to negotiate the terms of closure with David Hansen
  • Conference Council voted to cancel Ched Meyers invitation to be the guest speaker at Oct ’08 Annual Meeting
  • Conference Council clarified that David Hansen’s administrative leave allowed him to continue the ministry of word and sacrament
  • Conference Council authorized an Interim Search Committee
  • Conference Council appointed Mike Poage Acting Conference Minister for Administration and Fiduciary Matters
May 9th
President Mike Lake sent a letter to the Conference announcing Ira William’s resignation, the Conference Council’s acceptance of David Hansen’s request for early retirement, and Mike Poage’s appointment as Acting Conference Minister.

May 14 & 19
The appointed negotiation committee met twice with David Hansen

May 27th
  • Conference Council met and went into Executive Session
  • They invited David Hansen to come into the meeting
  • The negotiation team presented a report of their work
  • The Conference Council voted to rescind the administrative leave and reinstate David Hansen
  • The Conference Council voted to stop the search for an Interim Conference Minister
  • The Conference Council affirmed the Executive Committee recommendation of inter-staff mediation
  • The Conference Council voted to appoint a new Personnel Committee
  • The Conference Council called for an intentional review of all staff performance, and personnel and administrative practices
  • Mike Lake and Mike Poage resigned from their positions
  • Kathy McCallie, Vice President, began presiding over the Conference Council
  • The Conference Council asked Wayne Ahrens to look out for some physical needs at Camp White
  • The meeting adjourned
  • Nancy Phipps and David Ambler then informed the staff of Council actions
June 1st
A Conference Council letter went out via email and snail mail announcing the rescinding of the former Council decision and reinstatement of David Hansen as Conference Minister

June 3rd
Kathy McCallie and David Hansen asked for assistance from the Office of the General Minister and President of the UCC

June 13
Conference Council met in open session with Rev. Jane Heckles from the Office of Conference Relations of the UCC.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

New Conference Letter

A new letter from the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference. Maybe things can get turned around.

Dear Colleagues,

Can you come up with a helpful metaphor for what a healthy conference would look like? Would it be more like a network? a web? a “family”? an organization? What do you want from your connection with the conference? Can you name specific needs your church has that the conference might meet?

Our K-O conference is undergoing stress related to governance and personnel, how we make decisions, and how decisions are communicated. There are some serious conflicts that need to be addressed. It is possible to let reason, patience, compassion, and wisdom prevail even through this process of conflict and tension. This can be a time of reflection and learning for each one of us. Rather than escalate the drama through unhealthy actions, let’s strive to be our best selves now more than ever.

Our conference leaders have been in conversation with our General Minister and President, Rev. John Thomas, throughout this confused and confusing time. He has been extremely helpful to all of us. Rev. Jane Heckels, who serves as his assistant, will meet with our conference council on Friday, June 13th from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. at the parish house behind the conference office. John Thomas recommended Jane because of her expertise in the area of conference relations. Rev. Heckles will work with our council with the goal of developing better strategies for communication and healing. We have a full agenda planned for that meeting, and we will resist the temptation to force any hasty decisions. This will be an open meeting. After consulting with various individuals, Jane Heckles will assist us in mapping out a detailed plan for working through the questions we face.

The next meeting of the conference council is set for Tuesday, June 24th at the Club House Inn & Suites. We need to go ahead and keep the plans for that meeting as well. We hope to review and approve the plan recommended by Jane Heckles then, and accomplish some initial steps of that plan.

Now is the time to come together as people of faith. Our council, committees, and ministries need willing workers to volunteer and strengthen our conference. Please prayerfully consider your own willingness to serve and encourage potential, new leaders to get involved. Don’t hesitate to contact me, our nominating committee, or others on the council to discuss ways you can help. Now is a good time to discern the best models and strategies for our conference. Your input is needed.

Kathy McCallie
Conference Council President

Friday, June 06, 2008

That Hurts My Feelings

The other day I was spraying weed killer on my mostly weed lawn when my wife and kids returned home from shopping.

My five year old son came running toward me in his bare feet and asked, "What are you doing dad?" I replied, "Don't step on the grass. I'm spraying poison to kill the weeds." A few moments later, my son was ignoring my command and walking on a section of grass I had just sprayed. So, I yelled at him and told him, "Get out of the grass, right now!" Then he started crying and wailed, "You're hurting my feelings!"

Isn't that our complaint to God when it comes to His commands? They hurt our feelings?

The Lord gives us His commands, but we don't listen to them because we want what we want because that makes us feel good and besides, we know what we're doing.

O that we would learn that God's commands are given for our protection and provision. His commands are life to us.

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." --Psalm 119:32

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Marriage Erosion in California

Erosion in California is not just along its coastal line. Now that the California Supreme Court has declared a legal constitutional right for same gender marriage, and refused to stay its ruling, marriage in California is also eroding.

I realize that to oppose same sex marriage is to look like you're narrow minded or intolerant. At least grant that I have 6,000 years of human history on my side. Some things should never change. The definition of marriage is one of them. Why? Because as Maggie Gallagher writes, "Ideas have consequences."

To my knowledge, there are six borders that define marriage:
  • You cannot be currently married. That is, a person already married cannot create another marriage (bigamy).
  • You cannot marry a near relative.
  • You cannot marry someone against your will.
  • You cannot marry a minor.
  • You cannot marry more than one person. In other words, you cannot bring a third party into a marriage (polygamy).
  • And, you cannot marry someone of the same gender.
Now that the California Supreme Court has decided that same sex marriage is permissible, what is the compelling argument to not remove the other restrictions? If, as Anna Quindlen of Newsweek argues, it's all about love, why not remove all the boundaries? Are people guilty of two-ophobia for thinking marriage should consist of only of two people?

My point is this: where you set the boundary markers matter. It matters to God who established the marriage boundaries in His Word and it matters for the organizing of family and society.

In the end, what J.I. Packer writes in his small booklet, "Freedom and Authority" is spot on:
We cannot have the freedom we want until we receive it on God's terms, that is, by giving up our rebellious independence and letting God be God to us. Real freedom is only ever found under authority-- God's authority in Christ, authority which reaches us via God's written Word.

Monday, June 02, 2008

More News from K-O Conference

Another e-mail letter today from the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference. It's a dramatic change of direction from an earlier announcement:

May 28, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

You read an article in the last issue of the K-O Focus announcing the retirement of our Conference Minister, the Reverend Dr. David Hansen. I am writing to you today to let you know that announcement was an error. The Conference Council regrets the confusion and concern this announcement has caused in our conference. Reverend Hansen is our Conference Minister. He has not retired.

Some other transitions occurred at our Council meeting held on May 27, 2008. The Reverend Dr. R. Michael Lake resigned as Council President. The Reverend Michael Poage also resigned from the Conference Council. We thank them for their service and leadership and wish them and the congregations they serve God’s blessings. They remain in our prayers as we are in theirs.

The Council affirmed the faithful work of our Conference staff, Ms. Judy Vincent, Financial Associate, and Mr. Jim Ahrens, Administrative Associate. The long hours and care they have given in these positions has been essential to our conference ministry.

The Council has been helped greatly by the Reverend John Thomas, our General Minister and President, during this time of confusion. The Council has requested assistance from his office as we address administrative and governance concerns. We are grateful for his pastoral care for our conference and for his ongoing support and assistance.

Serving as Conference Council President is a new experience for me. I assure you that members of the Council and I will work closely with Reverend Hansen and the conference staff to respond to your questions and concerns as best as we are able. Our conference can move toward a stronger future as we patiently, faithfully learn to accept God’s guidance through this time of discernment. Your own wisdom and service is needed now more than ever to build up our ministry as a conference.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. Kathy McCallie
Conference Council President

I don't know what's been going on--I'm an outsider when it comes to the inner workings of Conference life--but it's obviously a chaotic and sad situation.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

SonWorld Adventure Park VBS Rally Program

School is out and summer is here and that means it’s time for Vacation Bible School!

Here's a simple VBS Closing Rally Program script for Gospel Light's SonWorld Adventure Park.

Living in small town rural America, our Congregational Church joined with our neighbors at the United Methodist Church. Our closing rally took place on Sunday morning. The program summarized our week's activity and featured all the songs learned during the week.

The track numbers listed are those on the reproducible, performance split-track CD.

Good morning! Welcome to (name of your church). You know, summer is a time for special activities like swimming and vacations. But also in the summer, you often hear kids says this…

(2 students walk slowly down middle aisle—heads down, looking discouraged)

I’m bored

Me too.

We’re been out of school for only 2 days…

And we’re bored already.

Let’s turn on the radio (pretend to turn on radio)

TRACK # 27—Promotional Radio Spot (60 seconds)

Hey, that sounds like fun.

Yeah, let’s go and tell all our friends.

(2 students run out)

TRACK # 1—SonWorld Adventure Park Theme (Instrumental)

(all students march in)

TRACK # 2—Choose Jesus

Welcome everybody to SonWorld Adventure Park VBS—a place to learn about Jesus. All this week, our kids have been discovering how great it is to choose Jesus and follow Him. When you choose Jesus as your Savior and guide for life, he takes you on an amazing adventure—a thrilling ride—just like a rollercoaster. Riding with Jesus is the ride of your life.

TRACK # 3—The Ride of Your Life


In a world that’s full of options, students at SonWorld Adventure Park VBS have been encouraged to make five good choices that honor God and make life a great adventure and full of purpose. Right now, let’s review those five choices.

Number 1. Choose to believe (student holds up ticket poster). A blind man was given sight by Jesus. Afterwards, the man went and told people that Jesus is God’s promised Savior. Will you choose to believe?

Number 2. Choose to act (student holds up ticket poster). Ten men with the disease of leprosy were healed by Jesus. Many people around us need God’s love. Will you choose to act?

Number 3. Choose to forgive (student holds up ticket poster). When a paralyzed man was first forgiven of his sins and then healed by Jesus, people saw that Jesus has the power to forgive sin. Will you choose to forgive?

Number 4. Choose to obey (student holds up ticket poster). A rich young ruler met Jesus, seeking eternal life. When he learned what he needed to give up in order to follow Jesus, he walked away sadly. Will you choose to obey?

Number 5. Choose to believe (student holds up ticket poster). The disciple Thomas doubted that Jesus had actually risen from the dead. But when Thomas saw Jesus alive with his very own eyes, he believed. Will you choose Jesus?

Now, come and join us. Let’s go to SonWorld Adventure Park VBS and see all the fun we had this week.

On day #1, our students enjoyed a funny story from the Bible in John chapter 9. Here, Jesus meets a man who had been blind all his life. To heal the man, Jesus spit on the ground, made a mud paste, put it on the man’s eyes, and then told him to wash off the mud. When the man did, his eyes were opened. He could see! Jesus healed him! In a similar way, Jesus takes those who are spiritually blind—who cannot see God—and Jesus gives them the ability to see God. Will you choose to believe? When you see Jesus, you see God. And when you see God, and other people see that, well, that will get a lot of people talking.

TRACK # 6—Talk, Talk

On day # 2, our students walked with Jesus in Luke 17, where Jesus heard the cries of ten men who had a terrible skin disease called leprosy. When the men called out for help, Jesus healed them all. In a similar way, Jesus takes the spiritually sick and makes them whole. Will you choose to act? When you do, people are changed.

TRACK # 5—Ten Men

On day # 3, our students sat in a crowded room in Mark 2, listening to Jesus talk. All of the sudden, some people dug a hole in the roof above our heads. A paralyzed man was lowered down on a mat by his friends—right in front of Jesus. Jesus told the lame man, “Your sins are forgiven” and then he told the man, “Rise up, take up your mat, and walk.” And immediately, the lame man was healed. He stood up and walked! In a similar way, Jesus takes the spiritually lame and paralyzed—whose efforts cannot earn God’s favor—and Jesus gives them the ability to walk with God. Jesus forgives your sins. Will you choose to forgive? That lame man sure had some good friends. They didn’t let a big crowd keep stop them from getting their lame friend to Jesus. They just decided to tear the roof off.

TRACK # 7—Tear the Roof Off

On day # 4, our students were witnesses to a discussion in Luke 18 between Jesus and a rich young ruler. The ruler asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “What must you do? What you must do is keep all the commandments.” The ruler said, “Jesus, I’ve kept them all.” Then Jesus said, “Oh, there’s one more.” Sell all your possessions, give them to the poor, and then come and follow me.” When the rich young ruler heard that, he turned and walked away. Jesus wants us to obey Him in all our choices, not just when it’s easy. Will you choose to obey?

TRACK # 9—The Captain’s Song

TRACK # 8—I Will Hasten

TRACK # 11—Choosing Song

TRACK # 12—Jesus Loves You and Me

On day #5, we also heard the Bible’s most thrilling story. But it starts off sad. Jesus was arrested by enemies and killed on a cross. He was buried in a cave. And he laid there for three days. But on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. He defeated sin and death. He truly can forgive sins and grant eternal life to all who believe. Mary and the disciples saw the risen Lord with their very own eyes. But Thomas did not. He said, “Unless I see Jesus for myself, I will not believe.” A whole week went by. And then, Jesus came and appeared to his disciples. This time, Thomas was there. Jesus said to Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.” And Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Will you choose Jesus? Will you choose to believe in Him? If you will, you can be sure of this—Jesus will lead you all the way.

TRACK # 10—All The Way

Now we’d like to introduce our team leaders, who will then introduce our participants in SonWorld Adventure Park VBS.

(Each class is introduced)

TRACK # 4—I Believe in Ever After (This is a good offering song)

Announcements (if any)

Thank you everyone for coming to SonWorld Adventure Park VBS and coming to our Sunday Rally today. The Good News of the Bible is that Jesus chose us. We hope you leave here today choosing Jesus.

TRACK # 2—Choose Jesus

TRACK # 1—Choose Jesus (instrumental)

Students depart