Thursday, January 27, 2011

What we can learn from God’s Word

When I read the Bible, I can look for:

1. Truth about God's character
God gave us the Bible so we could learn more about who he is. We don't need someone else to tell us EVERYTHING about God; we can learn on our own! Discover God on his own terms; he gave us the Bible so we could learn more about his character through alone time with him and his Word.

2. Truth about the way things are
God hasn't left us here on earth alone to figure things out on our own. Life can be difficult, but when we know "how the world works" we can make better, wiser decisions.

3. Truth about the way things were
God gave us the history in the Bible to teach us. The Bible isn't a history full of perfect people; instead, it details the lives of imperfect people like you and me. Their lives—good choices and bad—serve as an example to move us on to greater maturity. (See Hebrews 11:1-12:1)

4. Truth about how we ought to act
The Bible doesn't only tell us about how things are or how they were; it also reveals a picture of how things ought to be. God's love for us is so great that he accepts us where we are; and his love is greater still because he doesn't want to leave us there. God gives us commands to follow for our benefit and well being.

When you read, here are four questions you can ask to help learn from the Bible:

1. What does this passage teach me about who God is, how he acts, what he likes?
2. What does this passage teach about the nature of the world (about the way things are)?
3. Does this passage have an example from the past that I can learn from?
4. What commands does this passage contain for me to follow with my life?

Some practical steps for becoming better at studying the Bible:
• Learn to view Bible study as a non-negotiable time throughout your week.
• Set aside a consistent time when you are at your best.
• Avoid the extremes of being ritualistic (mechanical) or lazy.
• Begin with some realistic goals and boundaries for your study time.
• Be open to God's Spirit.
• Fall in love with God like he's your best friend.

Thanks to for this article extract

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Challenge of Bible Illiteracy

Today's blog is an article from Cheryl Catford. A great read from Evangelical Alliance's magazine Faith and Life.

If evangelicals are defined as those who "passionately believe the central claims of the Bible" why are we not that interested in reading the Bible? Bible illiteracy among the general Christian population has reached alarming levels and evangelicals are not far behind. George Barna's research amongst American churches in 2000 revealed that among adult and teen believers the most widely known Bible verse was "God helps those who help themselves" (yes, you're right, it's not in there). For some Australian Christians the only encounter they have with the Bible is when a small portion appears on the screen during the weekly service – there is no need to actually touch a Bible at all.

During my experience of over fifteen years teaching fi rst-year Bible College students I noted a gradual decline in the Bible knowledge those students initially possessed. Although the majority of students had a Christian upbringing, attended Sunday School and even Christian School, very few knew a basic chronology of biblical history or could correctly identify major biblical characters. Some struggled when I required them to write down the Bible books in order and correct spelling ('Galations' is a favourite). When I spoke of the story of Abraham, or Ruth or Paul it was obvious not a few students were unfamiliar with them. The consequent impact of Bible illiteracy upon theology is immense. Barna found that only 43 percent of Bible-believing Baptists in America believed Satan was real and 55 percent affirmed Christ was sinless. My students also held some fairly strange theological ideas. Ah, the stories we could share… 

To what can we attribute this decline in Bible literacy?

Here are some brief suggestions.

The demise of Sunday School.
Sure, we all squirmed through a format that seemed too much like school, but memory verses, Bible stories, and gold stars instilled in generations a basic acquaintance with Scripture. Today, childrens programs are much more entertaining but, unfortunately, the Bible does not always feature prominently.

The atomisation of the Bible.
The Bible has been reduced from a collection of books to a collection of thousands of bits of text. Daily devotionals tackle one verse per day, sermons present one passage and we are encouraged to read a
chapter a day. All these practices are sound if we are able to fi t the pieces back into the big picture – the meta-narrative that the Bible reveals. But so few have been taught or grasped the whole story so the Bible becomes a confusing jumble of unrelated stories or bits of information.

The desire for instant individual gratification.
Often the Bible is treated as the source of instant answers to whatever problem or question the reader has. We resort to lucky dip (open Bible at random and let fi nger land on verse) or command search (just do everything it says, difficult when reading Leviticus) or promise box (select a promise for today) with scant regard to issues of original audience, context or literary sense.

The fear of not being relevant.
We are all rightly concerned that the Bible message connects with the culture; that we engage missionally with our neighbours. However, this concern has resulted in the proliferation of sermons that have little Bible content and seem more like motivational messages. Conversely, the delivery of an exegetically-sound sermon that has no relevance to the hearer's daily existence is at best boring and at worst alienating.

The emphasis on experience.
Somewhere in the 1980s, as the experience of the dynamic of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers became more widespread, emphasis shifted from having 'right doctrine' to 'experiencing God'. The preacher and teacher took a back seat to the worship leader as the oft-neglected emotional aspect of Christianity began to dominate. The old fallacious dichotomy between 'Word" and "Spirit" seemed to force a choice rather than a marriage of the two in the lives of mature believers. 

And the solutions? 

That is for another article but suffice to say all Christian leaders need to take the situation seriously. I, for one, want to pass the baton to a next generation who are biblically literate (without being bibliolatrous), contextually sensitive (without selling out) and spiritually alive (without being excessive). Maybe, we need to begin each conversation with "Read anything good lately?" and hope the answer includes the Bible.

Cheryl Catford
EA National Director

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What is Bible Engagement?

There are so many Bible engagement programs, devotionals, reading plans that are available today. Many of them focus on knowledge and truth, both of which are very important but the outcome that makes the Bible come alive and the one people are hungry for, is a REAL encounter with God. So while all devotionals and bible engagement methods should be well-designed and help people form life-long habits, the most important thing is that they must also help people develop a relationship with God.

When Christians read the Bible for themselves – they desire to encounter God. They are hungry, they want to meet with God, hear from Him, and learn more of His character and love.

But what is Bible engagement?

It's is reading the Bible – but its more than that!

It's studying the Bible – but it's more than that!

It's devotionals - but its more than that!
 It's understanding Biblical truth - but its more than that!

 It is about all of the above AND

 Hearing and encountering God

 Personal application 

Some of you will have heard the statistic from NCLS: 60-80% of young adults will leave the church once they have finished their education. Some researchers believe that this is a reflection of 30-40years of not digging deep. A failure to make disciples. 
  • Strategies aimed at "getting people to church" can never reach or impact our country. 
  • Calling people to "become a Christian" will not do it either. 
  • Church growth methods have only had limited success. 
  • Building more church buildings is not a key to changing lives.   
It is not more Christians that will impact out city for the Kingdom... It is more disciples: People who are mature in their relationship with Jesus and committed to obey His call to live for Him – expecting Him to give them divine appointments along the way.

I have worked in youth ministry since 1995 and some of the saddest times in my journey as a youth worker is when I meet up with former youth years down the track, only to hear they no longer attend Church and have walked away from Jesus.

I do hear great stories of former youth now in full-time ministry, raising Godly families and still devoted to Jesus but for some reason my heart aches hearing stories of people who have walked away from God. I begin to question myself…
  • 'where did I go wrong',
  • 'what could I have done better',
  • ' if only I'd spent more time with them'
  • If only… If only… then maybe… they'd still love Jesus
Hebrews 5:12 –14 » In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The writer of this letter is quite upset with the people in this Church, saying they should be teaching others about the Christian faith but instead they still need someone to teach them the basics all over again. They are still on baby's milk. Why? Because they aren't acquainted with God's ways, they haven't moved onto solid food.

So in our Christian life what is solid food? It's the Bible, God's word and love letter to us. The Bible is not just a book for reading, it is a book to be studied, well considered, applied and enjoyed. Otherwise, it is like swallowing food down whole and then spitting it back up – it has no nutritional value – it has no use or enjoyment. The Bible is God's Word and it is worthy of reading.

 But Paul continues by saying that it is by 'constant use' that people have 'trained themselves' (not just by others) to become mature, to grow up to eat solid food.  For a time being fed by someone else is really good and healthy and ensures you survive, but there comes a time when you must learn to eat on your own.

Want to find out more, Milk to Meat conducted a survey in 2010 of Aussie Christians and the report is now available online at – for FREE!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Ark made of clay

Well what a distressing week it's been. This week has seen massive floods in Queensland, NSW & Vic and bushfires in WA. It's been a week full of disturbing images on the tv which our kids were exposed to as well, when national disasters happen it's really hard to shelter your kids from such events and so we in the evenings we prayed with them about the people, the homes and stories they'd seen. But I think it is these terrible circumstances that led to Toby's choice of bible stories for this week's 'Super Family Bible Night' – Noah's Ark.

Toby reading bible story

Toby had prepared well this week, he spent the evening before reading the bible and thinking creatively about his topic. After reading for much longer than usual, he promptly said "Mum I need clay for Super Family Bible Night". Interesting I thought, what does clay have to do with Noah's Ark but I went along with it anyway and so we spent about 2hours the next day trying to find baking clay. Thankfully, we eventually found some (I wasn't looking forward to having to make baking clay to appease an 8yo).

And so the night began, Toby read the story of Noah's Ark, asked some questions and prayed. He then produced a well constructed plan of just what we were going to do next. He had drawn the Ark, with explanation of the type of roof, the door shape, the amount of animals and how it was to be created. I was astonished as the amount of detail we were going to have to create with CLAY!!! (Maybe he's got some architecture in him??)

Toby's in depth explanation of clay Ark making

And so the creativity began... well.... the boys were extremely creative and made fabulous Ark's and animals, on the other hand... Lily & I decided to work together and make something that at least resembled a boat. It was a fun night and we had clay everywhere. Toby had done a really great job of unpacking Noah's Ark and letting us all get involved in the night.

I think Adam might be impressed with his creation

Toby's ark

On another note, you can now sign up to receive this blog via email, just fill in your email in email subscribe box to the right and you'll never miss our 'Super Family Bible Night' blog J

Enjoy your family and God this week.

You can also check out our other blog on bible engagement - tips, tools, and resources here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

We are what we eat – object lesson for youth

Today's blog is taken from an article in Group magazine


Supplies you'll need:
a whiteboard
a marker
assorted bubblegum or mouldable lollies
a ball
Cookie Dough (Aunty Kathys Cookie dough works well, find it in the fridge section of your supermarket)
Hershey Kisses (or use another type of chocolate)
a cooking tray and access to an oven

Overview: We are what we eat

 Key Scripture: John 6:35 "I am the bread of life."

Opening activity:

Play demolition Bowling. Form teams of 3 or 4. Hand each team an assortment of bubblegum and mouldable lollies (such as gum balls or liquorice sticks). Say something like: You have 2 minutes to make a Candy-man that can stand on its own.

After a couple of minutes, line-up your Candy-men. Then give each team a chance to roll a ball to knock down the opposing group's Candy-men - add 10 points for each knock down and subtract 10 points if you knock down your own Candy-man!

Transition by saying:

Have you ever heard the saying, "You are what you eat"? If it were true, our bodies would not look much different from these Candy-men - with chips and coke added. However, in another sense, the saying is true."
Ask: How does the stuff we eat impact us?

Then say something like: On a deeper level, we intake (eat) other things, don't we? For example, what we watch on TV, what we look at online, what we read in books and what we hear from others.

Ask: What are some other things we take in? How do these 'foods' change us?

Then say: The Bible actually uses the same metaphor when it talks about our spiritual lives. There is food that's healthy and food that's not.

Ask someone to read aloud Ezekiel 3:1-4

Say something like: In this example, Ezekiel literally eats a scroll (a Bible)

Ask: What was God trying to teach Ezekiel? What is Ezekiel supposed to do after he eats it? Ezekiel can only give what he's taken in - how does that apply to our relationship with God?

Read aloud Matthew 4:1-4, then ask: What was Jesus trying to say in his response to Satan?

Read aloud Deuteronomy 8:3, then ask: How does this verse apply to our spiritual diet?

Read aloud John 6:27-35.

Say something like: The Israelites lived on manna in the wilderness - food literally provided by God. Here, Jesus is saying he's just like manna-he gives us life. Jesus is saying "eat me!" Remember, we are what we eat! Some of it is like junk food to our souls Some is like soul food.

On a white board, write "Junk food"
Ask: Let's brainstorm some things that are spiritual junk foods- things we do, look at, think about, talk about and listen to that are unhealthy?

 Now write "Soul food".

Ask: What are things we can 'eat' that would be good food for our souls?

Say something like: We've learnt that we really are what we eat. To help that sink in, let's make a batch of cookies. (Give each person a chunk of cookie dough and a Hershey Kiss.) Before you put your cookie on the pan, think about a 'soul food' you can 'eat' this week - commit to eating that soul food by placing your Hershey Kiss in the centre of your cookie dough.

Put the cookies in the oven and pray until you hear the timer go off.

Then eat some soul food! Enjoy!!


Extract from Group Magazine. Mar-Apr 2009 Vol 35, No. 2

Friday, January 14, 2011

4 Tips on getting teenagers to read the Bible

Kate* came to faith when she was 15yo, her family wasn't Christian and Kate had never been to church before coming to Christ through an evangelistic rally. She came to the rally because she had some friends who invited her and they loved Jesus. Kate started coming regularly to church and she loved it and got involved in the worship team. She would say that she loves Jesus but doesn't read the Bible. She doesn't know how to! She has no idea where to start, she doesn't understand the language or the stories and how it relates to her now! What helped Kate move forward?

A few things that helped Kate:
  • Someone invested into her spiritually
  •  Someone shared a devotional style of Bible engagement that worked for her
  • She met with friends who shared an accountable relationship
  • She wanted to grow
1. Someone invested in her spiritually.

 Kate was 15 when she came to know Christ as Lord and Saviour. She hadn't grown up in the church, she never went to Sunday School, she didn't attend a school that taught RE. If Kate had been left to her own devises, to her own spiritual growth, and learning she may not have got very far. But an older, more mature woman came alongside her and spent regular time with her, walking through the Bible, its stories, its meaning and helped her to understand. Yes it took time, it took patience and perseverance for the mature Christian woman – but the fruit was worth it!

If you are a parent and you are watching your teenager switch off and struggle to understand the Bible, see if you can help or encourage them to find a Spiritual mentor, someone who will invest in them and their walk with Jesus. It might be you as a parent, but probably not, pray for God to lead your teenager to someone who can invest in them spiritually – it might be one-on-one or it might be in a small group.

If you are a youth leader or worker, consider investing intentionally into one or two people for dedicated discipleship and spiritual growth, ask God to lead you to the person to invest in. You don't need to be perfect, or have everything all together (none of us do), we just need to be willing to lead people into a closer relationship with Jesus. Don't know where to start? There are so many resources available at Christian bookstores, or you could just start with Milk to Meat!

2.  Someone shared a devotional style of Bible engagement that worked for her

A few years after her initial discipleship time, Kate began to struggle again with her Bible reading and engagement. Kate would often sit down to read the Bible and just pray that God would show her something, then fling the Bible open and see what page it landed on, then proceed to read from that page for the day. A bit random but that was all Kate knew, she tried many different devotionals, and tools but none really clicked. Until one morning someone shared the S.O.A.P. method with her (also known as Journaling), this revolutionised her devotional time, her connection with God and her Bible engagement. Kate hasn't looked back since.

There are so many devotionals and resources available, but we are all created and wired differently, why not give a few things a go and see what works. Some teenagers enjoy reading and some don't, there are written Bibles in book form, electronic form and even Bibles that you can add into your mobile or iPod. Some teenager enjoy connecting with God's Word creatively – encourage that! Maybe they have read a verse that has impacted them and they enjoy painting – buy them a canvas and get them to engage that Scripture creatively.

3. Kate met with friends who shared an accountable relationship

Kate started meeting with a couple of friends her age in an Accountability Group, her church provided the outline, idea and questions they could ask each other. One of the questions was about her Bible engagement, how often was she reading the Bible, and how did she hear from God this week. Kate shared that being asked these questions each week really encouraged her to read each week. It was especially helpful that she was in an Accountability group with her friends and people she loved and respected.

Accountability groups can be really helpful, to lots of areas of our lives. If you are interested in the type of questions you can ask within an accountability group there are some resources online and at

4. Kate wanted to grow

Kate wanted to grow in her relationship with God, she wanted to know more, she desired to be changed by Him. Her hunger for the Word grew, her hunger for God grew, to connect with Him and be led by Him in each and every day.

If your teenager isn't interested, isn't wanting to grow, isn't wanting to change, isn't wanting to connect with God. Then it's a difficult battle – the best advice here – is pray, pray, pray!!! And after that seek those little opportunities to share with them about God and continue to keep the door open cause one day, they may just turn around and surprise you.

* Name changed

How can we help you?

Milk to Meat is committed to Bible Engagement! We would love to pray for you and your teenagers, if you'd like to share your prayer request, please comment or join our Facebook group 'Milk to Meat Bible Engagement'

For more tools, resources and articles go to

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

3 sauce bottles in a furnace

This week's 'Super Family Bible Night' was one to remember – a bit of pantry and video fun!

Toby with his angry men

Angry men are stuck onto 2-min noodles

It was Adam's weeks and he had a draw faces: 3 happy men, 3 angry men, 1 little king, 1 big king and an angel – and we were all interested as to what he was going to get up too. Obviously from the pic above Toby chose to draw the 3 angry men. We were even more intrigued when Adam pulled out 3 packets of 2-minute noodles, 4 sauce bottles and 2 Milo containers. Just what did he have in store?

Milo statue and Milo king

Sauce in a firery furnace

Well this week we started with the kids seeing how loud they could make their armpits burp and ended with video posts done by Toby & Lily on the story which are hilarious but unfortunately I can't upload them because a certain little 5yo refused to wear pants.

Thankfully, we were able to convince her to do it again the next day, with pants, so we could show you.

However, Lily did give an interesting retelling of the story (so please remember this is a 5yo retelling). The re-enactment goes a little bit wrong towards the end. But check out Lily's video of Super Family Bible Night, based on the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (or as Lily calls it Shadrach, Bendigo and Indigo).

Enjoy God's Word with your family this week and we'd love to hear about it! Send us a comment or email on your experiences.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Esther and a flute

We hope you had a great Christmas and New Year and during the break were able to spend time with your family and friends and especially able to connect with God during this season.

We've had a busy season, but have spent lots of time together swimming at beach, pool and enjoying BBQs with friends. One special adventure we headed to the Sand Sculptures for a picnic and family day which was great fun (although we all got burnt). The Sand Sculptures are well worth a trip if you're on the Mornington Peninsula this summer, however my kids are wondering why I can't do sand castles like them.

This week 'Super Family Bible Night' it was my turn and I decided to do one of my favourite stories in the Old Testament, 'Esther'. I did some internet searching and printed off the story with colouring pages. After reading the story together and asking a few questions about the story, we set about colouring the pages and putting it together into a book that we could put in the bookshelf to read again later. I thought it would be a good idea to have some boiled lollies on the table to be able to nibble on while drawing together but they were more interested in seeing how many lollies they could eat than on colouring.

Both Toby & Lily love making their own books and I often find my stapler missing because they've raided my stationary stash to create another book or "creative art". Being able to make a book was a great way to get them involved in the story and to understand it more.

After finishing our colouring we all prayed – Toby thanked God for his Christmas money and being able to buy a game and Lily prayed for her Auntie Jenny cause she's got a flute (flu).

So how'd the night go, well apart from the distraction of the boiled lollies, the kids really enjoyed the story and colouring in the pages of the story and putting the book together.