So as from the previous post, went to sleep at about 12:30am and woke up again at 7am. Something I didn’t mention last time was that I like to take two showers a day during camps. I guess it’s because of my upbringing at home. My parents are super-hygienic and so I kind of need two showers to make me feel “clean” haha. So one shower in the morning just as I wake up, and another one in the afternoon or at night. Somehow at our campsite there aren’t many people lining for the shower at any one time, or not that I know of anyway.
Breakfast this morning was the same as yesterday: toast with cereal; it seems like there won’t be any meat (bacon or eggs) for breakfast this week.
Mark’s talk today was a continuation of yesterday’s talk, clearly because the passage flowed on. The passage was just dealing with how Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath day, but the Pharisees were not pleased with it. Jesus was a man who in fact was bringing the true “Sabbath” (that is, “rest”) into the world. Before the Pharisees were making up rules and regulations for the Jewish people on how to serve God and how to follow the Sabbath, but clearly this led to not being able to even help the sick on a particular day of the week, which is hardly called for.
Mark talked about how the rules and regulations we humans make, particularly for religion, fail to be of any use to us. But Jesus here was trying to fix up the way in which we worship and serve God. At the end of the day if we had to choose between two ways of serving God, we would easily favour Jesus’ way; because the ruthless Pharisee’s policy of not doing any work on the Sabbath day (even helping a sick person) is a bit too unreasonable at the least.
Today we are called to embrace the way that Jesus wants us to live, because it is the much more perfect way of living for God as Christians. As such we need to steer clear of the other ways that go against Jesus, particularly those that specifically claim that Jesus’ way is the wrong way. Mark also wanted to point out that we should be responding to Jesus now, immediately, as opposed to waiting and thinking about it for a while. I know we hear this again and again and all, but for me it was a good reminder to see that we should be following Jesus’ message straight away once we’ve become aware of it, rather than putting it aside for a later time to consider. And of course this is particularly helpful for the non-Christian, who really shouldn’t hold back against Jesus just because they don’t have every single question answered; because in truth, we will never have all our questions answered.
In strand group today, Andrew sped through today’s material like he’s done with the last two days and pretty much jumped to the main part which was for us to come up with a topic to investigate as part of our practising of systematic theology. And so we spent the last half hour or so starting our study on a generalised topic – so that would involve looking through the Bible for passages that talk about the topic, and then working out what the overall message on that topic is, in light of the unfolding story of the Bible. The topic I chose was “Christian Commitment” in light of the fact that I have to write up a seminar for that topic real soon; talk about killing two birds with one stone.
But before we actually got to work, Andrew made our group play the “Human Knot” game, which we were all like: “Yeah, simple. We’ve played this many times before.” But much to our dismay, we were unable to finish untangling ourselves even after 45 minutes or so. Yes, that’s how much time we “wasted” and it’s embarrassing on so many levels. Firstly, we’re all fairly old, so I’m sure our problem solving skills should be pretty up to scratch. I was pretty tired by this time for some reason, probably because I’m normally tired on camps and stuff, due to lack of sleep (though I did forcibly choose to not sleep last night). Secondly, we’re all youth leaders and so we’re meant to have trained our youth group kids to play the game; so if they can do it, then certainly we can too. Yet we were dead wrong; and I still can’t work out why we couldn’t untangle ourselves.
Andrew said that he expected the game to be short so his plan sort of backfired when we couldn’t finish it, and he made us just quit. He also said that he wanted the game to re-energise us since we all looked pretty stone-dead; and ironically the game did quite the opposite, it tired us out because it took so long and we still didn’t finish it. Oh well.
Lunch was burgers with a slice of chicken schnitzel, and some lettuce. Quite a bland lunch, but it would have to last.
This afternoon’s workshop was on “Planning Youth Group and Youth Camps” or something like that. It was perhaps the most practical workshop so far since it gave us specific ideas on what we could do to make youth group more interesting to help encourage the youth to support it more and make it grow. We went through a lot of different ideas that we could do for like Bible study series, youth group socials, and then some good camp activities. We also went through a core list of things we should be doing as a youth group. The first and foremost thing was obviously to keep the Bible central to any sort of teaching we do at youth group, that’s obviously a given. But I guess that also means we want to build our activities around what we want to teach from the Bible; so like, having a game that leads into the passage being studied.
There were a bunch more other little tips which I won’t list here, but it really does give us ideas on what we could for our youth groups. It’s really helpful for me this year, since I’m going to be stepping up and taking charge of our church’s youth group from this point onwards.
In out free time, we had a church social. Didn’t really know what to do, so we just drove our to some lake, where a lot of people were already stationed, celebrating Australia Day. So we took our little spot of grass far away from the lake, and we had ice blocks, games and just chatted with one another for a few hours.
Dinner tonight was dry chicken in some weird soy type sauce, with potato bake and some basic vegetables. I remember the dry chicken from last year; it was very salty and dry and so was hard to eat.
At night Raj continued on in Malachi and dealt with a passage that talked about divorce and the way it made Israel bad. In summary, when Israel committed a divorce, it would be to separate the Christian couples, and one of the partners would divorce their spouse to be with another who was not one of God’s people, that is they worshipped other gods. And what ended up happening was that these new spouses misled the Israelites and turned them away from God. We typically see that today when a Christian marries a non-Christian and the Christian falls away from God. What made the Israelites worse off was that they got divorced so that they could be misled away from God by their new partner; committing a double bogey in a sense.
Raj basically dealt with the idea of divorce and how that fits into the purposes God had for marriage. Perhaps I will deal with divorce in a separate post but in general, divorce breaks apart the people that God has joined together, and it’s not good to unmake what God has made. We also had a short question time after tonight’s talk, and people asked questions relating to the things discussed from both the morning talks and the evening talks over the last three days. I submitted a question about the gift of being single, and not married, but they ran out of time tonight. Perhaps tomorrow night. It’s not that I’m entirely flustered over the topic, but I would like another person’s opinion on the topic.
So here we are at the end of three days. The conference is more than halfway through and I guess I’ve felt like everything has just flown by. But I’m happy to have learnt all I have so far, and also with all the people I’ve met over the last three days, and the conversations I’ve had with the people from my church and other people I haven’t talked to in a while. Tonight’s a short post because I want to sleep early, but then not too much interesting stuff happened today that was worth mentioning. Hopefully the last two days will provide some epic memories.