I had the opportunity yesterday to preach the morning service at FBCCS.  I really enjoyed preparing for and delivering this message, and, as usual, I learned more studying and getting ready than I'm sure most people got out of it!

You can check it out by clicking right here.  I'd love to know what you think!

- Tim B.
In this last entry on how to create easy videos for your youth gatherings, let's talk about prayer and/or reflective videos.

There are many ways you can use video for reflective moments.  Here are some ideas I've used over the years:

- Take one or more passages of Scripture and reveal them slowly with some soft musical background.  This can be a great alternative to just having someone stand up and read the passage(s) out loud (which I also love to do, by the way!).  All you need to pull this off is a simple video editing program like Windows Movie Maker.

- Use video as a prayer prompt.  When the earthquake in Haiti happened, I used the video above in our youth service as a moment of reflection and prayer.  Using video can give you an opportunity to do a "guided" prayer experience and prompt students to focus on different things over the course of a few minutes.

- Silent reflection.  Sometimes it's a powerful tool to use a video with no music or sound in the background.  Try revealing Scripture or quotes that tie in to your theme/message.  You could also use video to put questions up on the screen and have students silently reflect on them before worship or the message.  This has been a really awesome experience the times I've done it with students!

I hope this series has been useful to you!  I love using video in youth ministry, and I'd love to hear some creative ways you've used it as well.  Comment this post and if I get enough ideas I'll do a post with some of them on it!

- Tim B.
Tonight we're wrapping up our "Grinches" series by talking about "missing the point" of Christmas.  Obviously, we'll wrap it all up by talking about what the true meaning of Christmas is.  Our Scripture is John 1:1-5 & 14, and as an illustration of the incarnation being light entering in to darkness we'll turn out all the lights in our worship space and light a single candle.  We'll spend a few minutes in silence praying/reflecting on the birth of Christ as the moment that God's light broke through the darkness of our world, and then sing the chorus of "O Come All Ye Faithful" to end.

Before students leave I'm giving each one a Ziploc bag with a tealight candle and a card with the graphic above printed on it.  The hope is that sometime over the next week and a half they will find some time on their own to reflect on John 1, the incarnation, and light breaking in to darkness.

I'd love to share this with you - you can download a Word document with the card above that you can reproduce and use in any way you want!  Click right here to download the "Light" prayer card (tip - right click and select "save target/link as").


- Tim B.

This is adapted from a Bible Study I recently taught middle and high school students on Matthew 6:9-13 - The Lord's Prayer.

You should pray like this:  “Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.” - Matthew 6:9-13 (HCSB)

1: Prayer reintroduces us to God.

“Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.”

When we pray like Jesus taught us to it reminds us of Who God is.  When we direct our thoughts and affections toward Him in worship and prayer, we are introduced anew to the only One who is worthy of receiving such attentions.  Our tendency to forget Who He is from moment to moment (evident in our lives through doubt, worry, sin, and inaction) necessitates our reintroduction to “our Father in heaven” Whose very Name is to “be honored as holy.”  Prayer puts us into His presence, awakening us again to the reality of God’s true identity as Creator, Sustainer, Almighty, our Father, the Holy One.

2:  Prayer realigns our priorities.

“Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

If we follow Jesus’ model of prayer it means that we assent to God’s Kingdom and His will having supreme priority in our lives.  It is impossible to pray this sort of prayer and remain selfish.  Maintaining a consistent prayer life that is centered on asking God for His plan and His purpose to be lived out in our lives removes any delusions we may have that this life is all about us.  When we pray in earnest we are moved to work less on our little kingdoms and more on the Kingdom that is coming and is now already here.

3: Prayer reassures us of God’s providence.

“Give us today our daily bread.”

Prayers for “our daily bread” can cause one to wonder why some who pray earnestly still go hungry or without the necessities and comforts that many of us enjoy.  A student of Scripture quickly realizes though that the bread that sustains is the body and blood of Jesus – ultimately our communion with Him.  “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus told them.  “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” (John 6:35)  Prayer reassures us of God’s provision of His Son who is with us “always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) 

4: Prayer reemphasizes grace.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

At the center of Jesus’ redemptive relationship with mankind is His intrinsic nature of grace.  One simply cannot know and have fellowship with Jesus Christ without having an experience of and an intimate knowledge of His grace.  However, we quickly forget the mercies that were extended to us and thus fail to extend them to others.  Praying like Jesus brings us to the recollection that we are sinful people who need forgiveness every day of our lives and have it through the grace of our Lord. 
*Note that Jesus’ prayer is presumptive in that we are to have already forgiven our debtors.  Having lingering conflict or relational strife in our lives is a detriment to our prayer lives and Jesus taught us that as we come to our Father in prayer it should be so under the condition that have at the very least attempted reconciliation with those who have, as some translations say, “sinned against us.”   "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24.

5: Prayer redirects the way we live.

“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

When we pray like Jesus taught us to, it helps to put our lives on a different course than the one our sinful nature or our enemy would otherwise lead us to.  The heart that pleads to God to be delivered from sin and Satan – who “roams around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8) – is one that God is faithful to redirect away from the temptations both within and outside of us.  The Christian who is faithful to pray to God for deliverance from sin is the one who quickly learns that when we are faced with temptation God always provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13).

6: Prayer recasts the lead role in the story.

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

Finally, prayer forces us to remove the spotlight from ourselves and place it on to the One who is truly worthy of it.  The most appropriate form of prayer is the kind that literally “puts us in our place”.  When God’s people will “humble themselves” and pray, then God truly “hears them from Heaven” (2 Chron. 7:14).  The throne in every man’s heart that is reserved to seat the King of Heaven and earth is always under threat of being taken over by “self”, but to pray as Jesus taught us continually replaces or secures the true King upon the throne.  It reminds us that the story we are living in is not our own and neither are we the stars of it, but His is the glory forever!