Southside Christian Upper School Small Group Questions, 17 January 2019

Small Group Questions

Middle School and High School

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Thursday, January 17, 2019

“Freedom”

Starting Off:

  1. Highlights/lowlights since we last met?
  2. It’s been a month since we last met.  How did Christmas break pan out? What was good? What was hard?
  3. In the last year, what is one area of your life you have grown most in?

Discover:

  1. What is one area in life that you feel like you still need to grow most in?
  2. Have someone read OR paraphrase Philippians 2:12-13 —

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

3. What do you think the author (Paul) means by “work our your salvation with fear and trembling”?

Leader Note: “Work out your salvation” means to live out the implications of the gospel, especially in light of that fact that one day you will face Jesus as Lord and Savior (not Lord and Judge).

4. Specifically, how is God at work in us?

Nurture:

  1. How is God at work in you? What evidence have you seen that God is at work in you?
  2. What role do you think that we have in being conformed to the image of Jesus?

Act:

  1. What areas do you need/want God to transform?
  2. Close the group praying specifically for God to transform those areas that were just said.
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“Content of Middle School and High School Assemblies, 14 January 2019”

Southside Christian School

Middle School Assembly (8:55-9:35 a.m.)

High School Assembly (9:40-10:20 a.m.)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Opening Praise Song:  “What a Beautiful Name!” by Hillsong (5:42)

Dr. Bob Stouffer:  JESUS–The Name Above Names!  No better way to start a new semester!  There is NO OTHER NAME in heaven or on earth by which we are saved!

Dr. Stouffer:  The Gospel in 60 Seconds —

  • Jesus left the glories of heaven.
  • He was born as a baby in a manger.
  • He lived a sinless life.
  • He was falsely tried and executed.
  • He bore the wrath of God on the cross for OUR SIN.
  • Jesus died.  He literally died.
  • But Jesus conquered death!
  • As a result, those of us who declare Him Lord and Savior of our lives, following him, now know EVERLASTING LIFE!

Dr. Stouffer:  There is no better way to start a new semester than for one or more of you to come forward to me or another Upper School staff member today to tell us that you have committed your life to the Lord Jesus Christ!

Dr. Stouffer:  By the way, thank you, Mr. Donell, Mr. Henderson, and students for serving as lead worshippers in chapels.  Please show your appreciation!

Dr. Stouffer:  This assembly is a mid-year refresher on points of emphasis which will allow you to be successful during second semester.  

Dr. Stouffer:  First of all, however, let us welcome our new students.  If you are a student new to Southside Christian for second semester, please stand up.  Would you please give us your name and grade on the microphone!  Please give a warm welcome to our new students!

Dr. Stouffer:  In the Middle School, we have a new teacher for 8th grade science:  Mr. O.K. Jones!  Please give a warm welcome to a new Mr. Jones!

Dr. Stouffer:  Now is also a time to say thank you.  We too often take our excellent people and excellent programs for granted. Thank you.  Hold your applause until I cue your applause:

  • First and foremost:  To all of the teachers, for making Southside Christian such a special school, teaching and discipling you so well;
  • Also, to all of the support staff members who don’t get the recognition but who pay close attention to the details of excellence;
  • Martha Bunn, for years of continuing excellence in overseeing all of the teaching and learning of the Upper School, including your own instruction as a Bible teacher;
  • Carla Evans, Director of Student Life and International Relations, for your work with SGA, clubs, the International Homestay Program, a new International Festival week next week, and all of the other programs which positively affect our students and families;
  • Bob Jones, for your work on MANY responsibilities, National Honor Society oversight, and, especially, for loving all of the Upper School students well, particularly those in your small group;
  • Steve Mason, for your heart to disciple all students and your leadership with the middle school Families and Core Values;
  • Jessica Ruzicka, for your work with common assessments, scheduling, college counseling, and JTerm — to name a few of the programs which touch us;
  • Melissa Theodore, Upper School Administrative Assistant, for spinning so many plates effectively and serving all of us in exemplary fashion;
  • Pastor Colin Urbanick, for discipling and teaching Bible classes well — and organizing small groups, chapels, spiritual life conferences, service projects, and now a new class lock-in for ninth graders on this upcoming Friday night;
  • Vivian Welkner, for loving students well, oversight of Beta Club, the Mentoring program, Sweet Conversations, and for your work in rolling out middle school Families and the Core Values last week;
  • Sam Barfell, a wonderful spiritual leader and supporter of the Upper School team and vision-casting leader for all of SCS;
  • My wife, Cheryl Stouffer, who supports me through thick and thin in our 37th year of marriage;
  • And, finally, thank you, Laura Adair, Coach Mike Sonneborn, Coach Nick Theaux, and Coach Mike Johnsonfor running a first-class athletic program!

Dr. Stouffer:  Coach Johnson would like to say a few words to us about positive Christ-like sportsmanship. . .

Dr. Stouffer:  Any school experiences challenges.  We had challenges last semester.  I encourage you to follow community expectations in the following ways (in no particular order):

  • Work hard to do your own work at all times;
  • Express kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness at all times, per the E432 Vision of Ephesians 4:32;
  • Stay in areas where you are supervised at all times, including and especially during lunch and after school;
  • Use your passing time wisely, and ask to leave the classroom only in the case of emergency AFTER the first 15 minutes of any given class period;
  • In fact, you should expect to stay in your classes for the entire periods, except in emergencies;
  • Please keep the building clean and respect school property and personal property of others;
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes, ask forgiveness, and move on;
  • Solve your problems and resolve your conflicts closest to the people and with the fewest people involved; and
  • By all means, though, seek the assistance of teachers, administrators, and support staff members; we are here to serve you.

Mrs. Welkner (Dr. Stouffer for the high school students):  A special category of meeting expectations is the new 12 Core Values, all rooted in biblical truth and cited verses.  ALL OF US — students, staff, and parents included — should live according to these Core Values, and Mrs. Welkner would like to briefly review them for you:

  1. We honor our parents and other adults;
  2. We show respect to others with our actions;
  3. We encourage others and have a positive attitude in all situations;
  4. We are humble and put others first, as God has called us to do;
  5. We show a spirit of gratitude at all times;
  6. We do our best at all times, because this is how we work for the Lord;
  7. We take care of all that God gives us, including our school building;
  8. We always set a good example for others to follow;
  9. We deal respectfully with others, handling issues without arguing or complaining;
  10. We always stand for what is true and right;
  11. We accept that we are going to make mistakes; and
  12. We are always honest.

Dr, Stouffer:  Middle school students are earning tickets when giving genuine evidence of meeting those Core Values.  One teacher told me last week that the condition of the cafeteria after early stay was markedly better after the families were formed and Core Values explained.  Please remember that the tickets are not what are important.  We should all always simply DO THE RIGHT THING because THE RIGHT THING IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

Dr. Stouffer:  Thank you, students — especially SGA leadership — for asserting excellent influence on school’s administrators and school as a whole!  Please keep leading and advocating well!

Dr. Stouffer:  Let’s hear some positive testimonials about JTerm experiences, internships, and trips. . . .

Dr. Stouffer:  My 1 challenge to you in this new year — Get closer to Jesus.  Invest in that relationship first and foremost.  Remove distractions and limit busy-ness.  Turn off your devices.  Engage others in face-to-face conversation.  Take a retreat of silence and solitude for at least a half-day sometime.

Dr, Stouffer:  Time permitting:  My Testimony of a Lesson Learned about Friendship Over Christmas Break (Jesus is my most important friend.)

Dr. Stouffer: Any prayer requests?

Dr. Stouffer:  First, a time of silent, contemplative prayer, and then I will close with prayer some of the needs of the body.

TIME PERMITTING

Dr. Stouffer:  Introduce closing song:  “My Jesus, I Love Thee” (4:25)

Additional songs available, should there be time:  “Who You Say I Am” (5:29) and “How Great Is Our God, by Chris Tomlin (5:04)

Dismissal

“Families and Core Values”

“Families and Core Values”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South  Carolina

Monday, January 14, 2019

I am very excited to report that Southside Christian Middle School students and staff members began a new and wonderful journey on January 7-11, 2019. During this first week back from Christmas/New Year’s break, prominent emphasis was placed on our sense of family and governing values of the middle school.

After months of planning, students were randomly placed in Families, 12 Core Values were adopted and initially explained, a reward system established, student leaders for each family selected, and the first ever “intergenerational” Family meetings of students in Grades 1-8 were held.

If you are exclusively the parent of (a) high school student(s), you may be wondering what Families and Core Values have to do with you, since the high school is not currently adopting the Family structure. While that is the case, the Core Values still apply to EVERY SINGLE student, staff member, and parent of the school.

My statements below reflect the 12 Core Values of Southside Christian School:

  1. We honor our parents and other adults;
  2. We show respect to others with our actions;
  3. We encourage others and have a positive attitude in all situations;
  4. We are humble and put others first, as God has called us to do;
  5. We show a spirit of gratitude at all times;
  6. We do our best at all times, because this is how we work for the Lord;
  7. We take care of all that God gives us, including our school building;
  8. We always set a good example for others to follow;
  9. We deal respectfully with others, handling issues without arguing or complaining;
  10. We always stand for what is true and right;
  11. We accept that we are going to make mistakes; and
  12. We are always honest.

The Core Values are obviously saturated with biblical truth, with Scriptural cites accompanying each of the values. All of us have a responsibility to be modeling these values for our students. All of us should regularly ask ourselves: Do we reflect the character of Christ when we are speaking to one another, making social media posts, or taking any action? Will our students follow us as we are following Jesus?

Under the leadership of Rob Brown and his colleagues, the Lower School began their journey with Families and Core Values at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Much excitement was generated among their community, and that excitement motivated the Upper School leadership team to discuss the prospects of using a similar structure in the Upper School.

I would like to heartily thank Mr. Brown, Mrs. Broyles, and the entire LS team for their roles in successfully beginning Families and the Core Values this year — and in helping us to do similarly at the middle school level! I would also be remiss if I did not thank Steve Mason, Dean of Men, and Vivian Welkner, Dean of Women, for their extraordinary work in preparing for the middle school roll-out of Families and Core Values.

LS students will understand this system when they move from fifth grade to sixth grade for middle school. So it will be natural for these elements to be a significant part of our Upper School culture. Someday, I hope we are able to continue these same practices into the high school, since our oldest and most mature students would be wonderful leaders in this school-wide effort. At this time, we thought it enough to implement the system at Middle School only.

In part, Families and Core Values were established by the LS as a means of helping our school realize The E432 Vision. Remember, this vision is based on Ephesians 4:32, which calls all of us in this school community to show hearts of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. How wonderful that the LS students will have these foundational biblical truths stored-up in their hearts and minds when they matriculate from LS to US.

Each family has a name, a mascot, a chant, and leadership structure. Tickets are awarded to students on the basis of their giving genuine evidence of living by the Core Values. Our continuing hope is that students are not acting Christlike for the sole reason of winning tickets (and, perhaps later, ice cream parties or cookie parties as a team), but because they have a desire to hunger and thirst for righteousness, whether they earn tickets or not. The right thing is still the right thing to do, and God is so pleased when we store up treasures in heaven through our being and doing.

I call ALL of the Upper School moms and dads to model and support the Families and Core Values of Southside Christian. Together, we can continue to build a positive culture for students who understand their incredible value in the eyes of God.

God excludes NO ONE from His family. ALL are welcome to be members of the Kingdom of God. ALL must be welcome as members of the Southside Christian family. ALL should be treated with kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness at SCS.

Please pray for our successful efforts to continue. Again, join us in modeling the Core Values for our students. And, when we see God working in and through our work TOGETHER, we will be careful to give God — and God alone — the praise and honor and glory! AMEN?! AMEN!

“I Got My Wires Crossed”

“Sacrificial Love”

On Sunday, January 6, 2019, Eastside Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth returned to his series in the book of John after a hiatus. If you would like to read my summary of Pastor Mark’s message, “Sacrificial Love,” please read on. . . .
“Sacrificial Love”
From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, January 6, 2019
Quote of the Week:
“Not one man has ever sacrificed for his Lord without being richly repaid. If the cross is only contrasted with earthly pleasures lost, it may seem hard and threatening. But when the cross is weighed in the balances with the glorious treasures to be had through it, even the cross seems sweet.” (Walter J. Chantry)
Scripture of the Week:
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Footnote:
[a] John 15:15 Or bondservants, or slaves (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface); likewise for servant later in this verse and in verse 20
John 15:12-17 (English Standard Version)
We’re back in John. We’ve spend many previous weeks in this book. Jesus came as the light. His public ministries brought Him into sharp conflict with religious leaders. We later find Him prominently with His disciples. He taught them. He was the way, the truth, and the life. He was the vine; they were His branches. Here, He talks about being their friend.
There is a tension in this passage. They did not choose Him. He chose them. Am I responsible to be His friend? Or does He bring friendship to me? From God’s perspective, He chooses. He is a sovereign God, including our salvation. We must do what He commands to be His friend. That’s a tension.
Faith without works is dead, James wrote. This is another tension of Scripture. We will do what Jesus wants! We will obey His commands! Faith and works go hand-in-hand. It starts with Jesus. I love to talk this theology.
God shows much more interest in us than we show in Him. Even after we confess our sin — and run to Him for refuge — we walk away. We are like that 1 sheep who walks away. But He is unwilling to let us walk away. He pulls us back. We need Jesus. We don’t need information transfer. We don’t need intellectual dalliances that make us feel good. The Gospel does not save. Jesus saves us. Jesus is the embodiment of the Gospel.
We live in a sound byte age. We look at texts on our phones. E-mails cut in. An alert tells us about a news story. Somebody sends us a Snapchat. We see more stories on the Internet. We watch TV, texting to friends at the same time. On and on and on we go. We are so distracted. We live in a sound byte world.
One result is we don’t ponder deep ideas. ADD and ADHD are real conditions, but social media add to our distractibility. We are continually multi-tasking.
I read a book this week — DISRUPTIVE WITNESS. The author has a keen idea about how to reach our distracted and distractible culture with the Gospel. The author explains that multi-tasking has serious physiological effects on our brain. We are constantly searching for external stimulation. We jump from one thing to another to the point of having no time for reflection or meditation. We engage in “thin thinking.” We take our positions from Twitter feeds. We are ready for war with our sound bytes.
The culture takes religious thoughts on Twitter as sound bytes. These ideas come with no pondering. We do not wrestle with thick ideas. Our culture is one of immediacy and snap judgments. Even Christians speak past the listeners. Yet the call to be on-mission is not mistaken.
In this passage, Jesus calls us to be on-mission. We are called to bear fruit. We have been chosen to love well. This is our mission. Love is one of the fruit of the Spirit (in Galatians 5). We are to fulfill the law of the prophets. We are called to be on-mission in a sound byte world.
How do we love? We love on purpose. We take time to ponder what it takes to love in any given situation.
I want to look at two points from this passage:
  1. WHOM DO WE LOVE?
  2. HOW DO WE LOVE?
WHOM DO WE LOVE?
We have different definitions of love. We are to love as Jesus loved us. He told His disciples to love one another. Love is very important to Jesus. He wanted His disciples to be characterized by the virtue of love. Why is that? If we are not on-mission inside the church, we will not be on-mission outside the church. We need people to speak into our lives, or we will get derailed by the sound bytes of our phones, TVs, computers, and other devices.
Brothers and sisters, there are needy friends here in this church—first and foremost, me. The Gospel is our source of hope. Unbelieving friends also need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s their own hope. We are to love one another on purpose, because this is what He did for us. We are to love as He loved us.
Let me get something straight about choosing. He didn’t choose us because we are lovely or because we are good people or because we are smart or talented or wise. He didn’t choose us for any of those reasons. We are a bunch of rag tag people; it’s a mystery that He loves us, but He does! He chose us just “because.” I can’t fully explain it.
And he calls us to love everyone in our lives. We are to love rag tag people. It’s so easy to love others like us. It’s harder to invite someone who is entirely unlike you into your life. But we are called to love. That’s the DNA of the Christian. We love because He first loved us, and we are called to love as He first loved us. The call to love is inside and outside of the church — loving on purpose. We must go a lot deeper in our sound byte world.
HOW DO WE LOVE?
He calls us His friends. We are not just slaves. A slave doesn’t question the master. The master doesn’t consult the slave. The slave is beneath the master. But, in this passage, Jesus no longer calls us slaves. One of the accusations of God is that he is a self-centered megalomaniac who needs to be worshipped. Nothing could be further from the truth in this passage.
We are friends! We are His companions! This is not a self-centered God! He has invited us to be His friends!
How do we love, then? He made it known to us. He brought us into His confidence. He has let us see what He did when he ministered to others. He gave us a window into who God the Father is. His Father was a God of love and acceptance. The Father did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save those in the world.
We get our opinions from Facebook or Twitter. What is friendship with God? As friends, we can be ourselves. Our souls are naked with friends. We are to be who we are. We are like prisoners declared innocent. Genuine opinions are welcome. Loyalty abounds. We should keep still with friends. We can weep, sing, laugh, and pray with friends. This is God’s love for us. There is freedom in this kind of friendship. This is the love of the Father.
We are to befriend others in this way. But we are so quick to judge on the basis of sound bytes and what we see. We must look far deeper into people.
Jesus laid down His life for His friends. This is what friendship truly means. We must be willing to lay down our lives for people.
Look at the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 and some of the other Gospels. A sower sows seeds in various places. Some seeds fall on fertile ground, where the seeds yield fruit. We are the soil. What would it take for us to become good soil? The only way is to plow up the ground. It’s a violent thing! You’ve got to dig up the ground! It’s hard, hard work. It’s bumpy. It’s dusty. At the end of the day of plowing, you’re done! But that’s what’s needed for good soil to produce good fruit.
If we are going to be people —. a church — where fruit is borne — we have to plow. You can’t plow with sound bytes. You can only plow when you go deep. And it’s risky. We lay down our lives for one another. We must be willing to risk the anger of others. We want to be fruitful for God’s Kingdom. No one will listen to us unless they are positive and know that we love them. We must have a genuine love for people — a love with all of our being! The harvest is up to God! Our job is to go and love!
Are we willing to show this kind of love? I’m not that willing. I’m not that willing. It’s easier to be on Twitter. It’s easier to play a mindless game on my phone, wiling away the hours.
Let’s look at one more thing in this passage — verse 16 — Whatever we ask in the Father’s name, He will give it to us. We’ve got to ask. I don’t have enough willpower or discipline, but I can ask. I must keep asking. What are we asking for? Our dreams? To be a shining light? Nope. The Father will give us fruit WHEN WE ASK. He promises fruit WHEN WE ASK. He will give it to us when we ask. Fruit. It’s a promise.
Let me end with this — a great passage from Ephesians 1 — Paul asked for hope to which we were called, riches of his glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of His Resurrection power! We must know His hope, inheritance, and power! We don’t know the hope, inheritance, power, or fruit unless WE ASK. We must have the courage to move forward!
Are you willing to get on your knees to ask for fruit in us and the people around us?
This is the calling.
This is why Jesus died.
This is the Gospel.
And the Gospel changes everything.

“Reordering Our Desires”

On Friday, January 11, 2019, Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent, led the all-employee devotions in a continuing study of the Proverbs. If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Barfell’s devotions, “Reordering Our Desires,” please read on. . . .

 

“Reordering Our Desires”

From a Study of the Proverbs

By Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent

All-Employee Devotions

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal (All errors are mine alone.)

Good morning! It’s been a few Fridays since we last met.

We have a couple personnel changes I would like to tell you about this morning.

This is [eighth grade science teacher] John Martin’s last day at Southside Christian.  He was so gracious to help us out in a pinch in August (when we could not find the right person for this position).

The Lord has led us to a gentleman named O.K. Jones. He will step in starting on Monday.

Thank you, John, for serving us well!

[Applause.]

I’d like to introduce Carlee Colvard [who was in the audience]. She is our new Creative Marketing and Communications Specialist. We’ll bring her around to each of your staff meetings on Monday. She is the product of Christian schooling in K-12 and university.  She gets us.

I always have to started these devotions with photographs of new grandchildren.

This is Vicki Wells’ new granddaughter, Claire Juliana Wells. Congratulations, Vicki!

And, because I can, this is a new picture of our granddaughters. Reece recently turned 3 and Cora turned 11 months on the same day!

We continue to work through the book of Proverbs. Did you remember that?!

We started with the topics associated with wisdom.

Today, we are going to talk about “reordering our desires.”

We know our human heart. We must reorder our desires according to God’s desires.  In regard to that topic, there are four areas that Tim and Kathy Keller analyze in their book:

  • Approval
  • Comfort
  • Power
  • Control

We must reorder our desires according to God’s approval, comfort, power, and control.

Let’s talk this morning about approval. When we trust in the Lord, we are “kept safe,” according to the Proverbs.

We must look to God to validate our worth.  We must not look to people to validate ourselves.

If any of the following phrases are true of you, you are probably, like me, struggling with approval of men and women:

  • Anxiety
  • Inability to take criticism
  • Cowardice to confront sin
  • Overcommitment for acceptance or acclaim (We can overcommit to good things.)

I have to share a personal experience with you. I worked for 10 years with ACSI. It was a great experience.  I traveled literally all over the world to help Christian schools.  In the middle of that experience, I confronted an ugliness in my own heart. I wanted to become the best known Christian education. That cistern was cracked. I had to come face-to-face with that attitude.

You know I traced the journeys of Paul in Greece [during a recent JTerm]. He once wrote that he had been confronted by multiple challenges, but he and his fellow missionaries proved themselves by their sincere love, serving God whether people slandered or praised them. Their hearts ached, but they always had joy. Paul had reordered his desires.

“Santa Strikes Back”

Mark Sandlin — one of the most kind, humble, thoughtful, intelligent, creative people I know — recently recited one of his original poems — to the Southside Christian School International Homestay Program host parents at their Christmas dinner on Monday, December 17, 2018 — and to the SCS Upper School Staff at our annual Christmas party on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.  If you would like to read what I think is a brilliant commentary on Christmas commercialism — even and especially by Christians — “Santa Strikes Back,” read on. . . .

“Santa Strikes Back”

By Mark Sandlin

At the North Pole one day, on the couch for a snooze,

I thought, “Maybe I’ll hop in my sleigh for a cruise.

The weather is too cold to sit here homebound;

Maybe Santa will go do some poking around.

Maybe take in some sights and then just make a stop

To see an American Christian bookshop.”

I’m scolded so often, you see, in December

For not causing people the Lord to remember

For promoting just toys and not holy behavior

Not honoring rightly the birth of the Savior

So I’ll see if the Christians do better down there

Than me–and I added some dye to my hair

And I quickly changed clothes so I’d be incognito

(Mrs Claus, as I left, handed me a burrito)

Well, the bookshop was much bigger than I had thought,

The parking lot vast–but I fought for a slot.

The glass doors whooshed open and then closed behind,

In the entrance a Bible verse hung on a sign.

The verse said, “I lift up mine eyes to the hills,”

So I lifted mine up, and saw stuffed to the gills

A gigantic warehouse with stuff beyond measure;

A superstore strangely named “Heaven in Treasure”.

Well, I couldn’t tell which one was more in demand,

The Scripture itself, or “Footprints in the Sand”.

There were Testamints—breath mints marked “John 3:16”;

And cookbooks that introduced Bible cuisine.

There was oil for anointing and prayer cloths for healing,

And angel mobiles dangling down from the ceiling.

There were holy land mustard seeds ready for planting,

A “Prayer of Jabez” Room for sitting and chanting,

Toy armor for children marked “Fight the Good Fight”,

And a whole sep’rate room selling “Paintings of light”.

There were CD-rom games and a chance to invest in

A Holy land tour led by Charlton Heston.

There were all kinds of frog items, that seemed quite odd,

Till I saw FROG means “Fully Relying On God”.

There were Scriptures on every spoon, ashtray, and cup

(Hohoho! — but you know I’m not making this up.)

And the Bibles! The choices just made the mouth water:

A Bible for mother, a Bible for daughter,

Taped Bibles for people too busy to read,

Bibles for every conceivable need.

Bibles for teens who want God to be cool,

Bibles so small you can take them to school.

A Bible for sisters, a bible for brothers,

A bible for golfers, for singles, for lovers!

Bibles with God less severe and less bloody,

Self-esteem Bibles with God as our buddy.

Spirit-filled Bibles for those with afflictions,

Co-Dependency Bibles for those with addictions.

And each new translation with slight variation

Caused the consumers to buy with elation

With new Bible frenzy they thought it a must

To buy them and take them to gather new dust.

There were Bibles in every shape, color, and size

So many to choose that it dazzled the eyes.

I opened a fancy one just for a minute;

A leather deluxe–and I saw these words in it:

St Paul wrote, “We don’t peddle God’s Word for profit”;

I slammed the Book shut and thought: Oh Paul, come off it.

These “peddlers” invest!–they deserve a return!

Who’s it hurting if they make some money to burn?

Well then I proceeded to walk past the piles

Of Christian stuffed animals lining the aisles.

Action figures of Moses and Jesus and Paul

And aerobics praise videos lined one whole wall.

The small section marked “Christian Classics” was bare,

So that Left Behind (Book 18) could be placed there;

While Augustine, Luther, and Spurgeon, and Foxe

Were hastily stored in a small cardboard box.

But the huge music section took up half the space!

All the sounds of the world with a fresh Christian face.

Urban and rap and bee-bop, instrumental;

Electronic, Fusion – and experimental;

Celtic and blues and acoustic and rock;

Screaming guitar or traditional Bach!

Country and western, or folk songs, or jazz;

They had all the same music the other guy has.

More music than I’d seen in many long moons;

The Devil no longer has all the good tunes!

I looked all around at the blessed merchandise

All of heaven was here, and at fair market price.

“Gold and silver,” said Peter and John, “Have I none,”

But if they could see this place they’d sure have some fun;

They’d see we’ve progressed, that today our faith frees us

To make a small fortune by marketing Jesus.

And to think I’m the one who is cut up and diced

‘Cause I “corrupt Christmas”–well they corrupt Christ!

If I do secularize, well, it’s just once a year

But they commercialize Scripture year-round, around here.

Well, I pondered inside what to make of this place,

Till the answer just struck me right smack in the face:

WWJD—that stuff filled one whole shelf:

That’s it! What would HE do, if He stood here Himself?

Jesus was patient and loving and kind,

And always had others’ welfare on His mind;

He was wise and discerning and righteous and true–

Jesus would understand just what to do.

And with that in mind I bent over a tad,

To get a last look at some little doodad;

I bent very close to examine the labels,

Then, briskly, I overturned all of the tables.

After all, really, what WOULD Jesus do

If He came here and browsed for an hour or two?

Well, it took only moments but seemed to take days,

To run through the store overturning displays.

I left nothing upright, though I left I confess

One plaque on the wall that said “God bless this Mess”.

Well, alarm bells rang out, and the doors auto-locked,

And store guards surrounded me, armed, triggers cocked.

The customers all started shouting at me,

And some kid in a Veggie Tales shirt bit my knee.

The sprinklers came on, and the cashiers were screaming,

When I woke–to discover that I had been dreaming.

Before I could reach for my knee and say ouch,

I discovered that I was back home on my couch.

Well that was some dream as I’m sure you can see;

It was stranger than strange what had happened to me.

But as I awoke I began to recall,

That none of it really had happened at all.

What ridiculous fiction! What pure fantasy

My afternoon dream had presented to me!

So I rose from the couch and I tucked my shirt in,

And thought, “Maybe I’ll just take my sleigh for a spin.”

The weather is too cold to sit here homebound;

Maybe Santa will go do some poking around…