Chapel Blog

Chapel topics in the middle school and high school are based on the Bible verse and theme selected for that school year. The lessons taught by the verse are broken down into monthly themes, and then taught weekly in chapel. Chapel blogs are written by Spiritual Formation Director John Bishop, Westminster administrators and teachers, and even students, and complement the teachings in weekly chapel.


  • Why Do Bad Things Happen?

    by John Bishop, Director of Spiritual Formation
    There are a handful of questions that everyone will wrestle with and seek to answer. And one of the most palpable of those questions centers on our need to understand the existence of evil. Having been at Westminster for only two years I have already had this conversation with many students. For example, questions like, “Why are some people so mean?” or when put as an accusation, “Can you believe that she would do that?!” are just a rephrasing of the question, why do bad things happen? 
    This is a very difficult question. It is difficult because we all face difficult things; painful personal tragedies that flood us with uncertainty and grief. This article is not intended as a guide for those who are struggling with personal tragedy, that requires care and empathy, instead, this article hopes to assist those who are struggling with their belief in God in response to their experience of evil.  
    One of the consequences of the pain we experience is we sometimes doubt the goodness or even the existence of God. I get it, I’ve often struggled with my own doubts about God. I’ve learned that I can’t necessarily reason my way into a closer relationship with God, but I can reason myself out of my doubts about his existence or character.  
    For example, here is a way to reframe the problem of evil:
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  • Why LORD?

    by John Bishop, Director of Spiritual Formation
    In Psalm 86:11 it says, “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” You may not have ever noticed but in this verse and in many other places in the Bible where we read the word “LORD” it is printed in all caps. There is actually a very important theological reason why the decision is made to do this. Here is a brief explanation:  
    The Hebrew people had such a high view of God that over time they developed traditions and rules for how to write and speak His name. The name of God in Hebrew is transliterated to English as, “Yahweh.” With respect to the tradition of honoring the name of God, however, the Hebrew people would have left out the vowels, so Yahweh becomes, YHWH, rendering the name of God unpronounceable. Their thought was something like, “If you can’t say it, you can’t misuse it.”  
    So, in our verse when we see the word “LORD” in all capital letters, what we have in the original language is the unpronounceable name of God YHWH. So, what does this mean for us, in other words, Why LORD; WHY|YHWH? 

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  • Create God's Way

    by John Bishop, Director of Spiritual Formation
    Every human being is creative. The Bible teaches us that we are made in the image of God. He is the creator of the universe. All things, from the most intricate details of subatomic particles to the vast expanse of space and the mechanism of time, came from the mind and mouth of God. So, when He made us in His image, he gave us a similar kind of creative power. The important difference being that He can create from nothing, whereas we can create with what he’s created. God made a tree by speaking and it came into existence. We can make a tree by planting a seed. We can also use the wood that comes from a tree to make a table. We can also say the word “tree” creates the idea of a tree in someone else’s mind. This, our use of language, is the purest form of our God-reflecting creative power. We can create ideas through written and spoken words. In other words, we, too, create with our minds and mouths.  
    When we speak, we pass air over our vocal cords, tongue and lips in a way that manipulates it to create sounds. These sounds create meaning. The person standing nearby receives those manipulated air particles through tiny vibrating hairs and bones in their ear and interpreting those vibrations through chemical signals in their neurons, creates mental pictures in their mind. So, I can think of an idea and then use air to create a similar idea in your mind. 
    You don’t even need to be in the same room as me to understand what I’m thinking about because I can use marks on a page or screen to represent the words I would say if you were. Through the written and spoken word I can create in your mind what was in my own. 
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  • Planting Seeds - Wandering Through WorldWonder: Chapter 1

    The Preface and Chapter 1 of Wandering Through WorldWonder are written to make the connection between WorldWonder and the Garden of Eden. WorldWonder is a well-cultivated, beautiful garden with lots of trees and lush green plants. Here is the description of the Garder of Eden in Genesis 2:8-9 & 16-17: 
    8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” 

    This week in Chapel I shared a message with the Elementary school about what happens when we plant seeds. If you plant a tomato seed, you expect to get a tomato plant and you hope that it produces tomatoes. If you planted tomato seeds and got a pumpkin plant that produced bananas, you would be very confused. 
    In Genesis 2, we see that the “seeds” God planted in creation were for our benefit; good trees that produced good food. But then Adam and Even “planted a seed” of sin by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when God asked them not to. As a result, the seed of sin got planted in the heart of humanity and now sin and brokenness grow up all around us. This is not good, but it makes sense, because when you plant a seed, you expect to get more of what you planted.  
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  • Compete God's Way

    by John Bishop, Director of Spiritual Formation
    I read an article a few years ago that referenced a psychological study where participants were given random labels and then told to divide themselves according to the labels they received. The result was three groups of people. The focus of the study was how people responded to the new group and the researchers were surprised to see competition spring up in the resultant groups. The same tensions you would expect to find in entrenched politics, tribal warfare, and international disputes. The resulting groups, associated only by randomly generated and completely arbitrary labels, displayed intense loyalty to their group and fierce competition with the other groups in a matter of a few hours. 
    I was intrigued so I ran an experiment. We were taking a group of 100 volunteers on a tour and took two charter buses labeled bus A and bus B. I was the host on bus B. As we started, I stood up in the front of my bus and said something like this, “Hey everyone, my name is John Bishop, and before I say anything else, I just wanted to let you know that we’re bus B, the better bus, the Bishop bus…” I said a few other silly things, picking on my friend who was hosting bus A and then we commenced with the tour. By the time we had arrived at our first destination, 45 minutes later, the identity of bus B was so firmly entrenched that my bus B group started heckling bus A people on the sidewalk as we disembarked. Now, it was all in good fun, and we laughed about it. But the fact remains, there is something baked into us that drives us to competition. 
    I think competition, in general, is great. It drives us to achieve things we wouldn’t otherwise accomplish. It creates comradery and brings meaningful depth to our experiences with each other. But there are dark sides to competition that create very un-Christlike behaviors in us. Some of us, for example, commit to win at all costs and succumb to cheating, lying, and stealing to make it happen. Or in our relationships we compete in ways that damage intimacy and wound trust. 
    I don’t think we can get rid of competition; I think it’s in us and likely put there by God, but how do we compete in God’s way? 

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  • Commit God's Way

    By John Bishop, Director of Spiritual Formation
    Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Allow me to unpack the significance of this powerfully profound principle through the relatively simple experience of caring for Hamsters. 
    Hamstee (my daughter’s first pet hamster) was a horrible pet. We cared for it diligently and did all we could to show it love, but it gave almost nothing back, excepting a lot of middle-of-the-night disturbances, horrible smells, and a few bite wounds. The commitment we made to caring for Hamstee felt like all burden and very little blessing. So, when my daughter came running into the kitchen in a panic and said, “Daddy, the Hamster is dead.” I’m ashamed to admit that my first emotion was not grief. Still my daughter was very upset, so we committed to bury the hamster in the yard. Unfortunately, while digging the hole I broke one of the sprinkler lines! And this experience perfectly sums up what it was like owning and caring for Hamstee, even in its death it was a burden. 
    Committing to care for Buttercup (our current hamster), however, has been the picture of simplicity and joy. Somehow the little rodent makes cleaning out its filthy tunnels a joy. “We don’t want her to have to live in that squalor…she doesn’t know any better,” we think. We take her out and hold her all the time. She brings so much joy and pleasure to our family. And yet, while on a road trip she gave us quite the scare. The latch on her cage got loose and, in the night, she escaped into my brother-in-law's house. We eventually found her (thank God) but not before emptying closets, barricading rooms, and worrying for 24 hours.  
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  • Wandering Through WorldWonder: A Guide for Parents

    Read the Preface from Wandering Through WorldWonder: Mac & Mica's Adventure

    If you get the sense while you’re reading Wandering Through WorldWonder: Mac & Mica’s Adventure, that there is more going on than what is being described, that’s because there is. We have written and illustrated this story with the goal of helping children discover and fall in love with the truths of the Scripture. For example, in this preface you will read the line, “The gate is open and there are adventures waiting to be experienced, and Mr. Heetderks loves having visitors.”
    Now on the surface, this is just a tease for the coming story, but we are leveraging WorldWonder allegorically to represent the kingdom of God. So, when we talk about the gate of WorldWonder we are referring to Jesus’ words about Himself in John 10:9 where He says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” If the gate is Jesus, then Mr. Heetderks represents God the Father. WorldWonder becomes the Kingdom of God and “the adventure” is more than just a setup for the story; it is representative of life, with all its blessing and challenge.  
    Read through this preface with your kids, be on the lookout for ways to connect the story to faith. Let them share with you the things they like about it, or things that excite them about the book. And then maybe start the conversation by asking something like, “What kind of adventures do you think might happen in WorldWonder?”
    It’s sometimes tough to have conversations with kids about spiritual things. We hope this book helps you relay the story of God’s love and care for us in a way that they can understand and enjoy. The kingdom of God is here, and we enter it with the innocence and faith of children. Let their curiosity inspire your imagination and enjoy the moment.
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  • Divided Heart

    by John Bishop
    Director of Spiritual Formation
    The Christian worldview includes this truth: our hearts are divided. Jeremiah 17:9-10 puts it uncomfortably direct: 

    9 The heart is deceitful above all things 
        and beyond cure. 
        Who can understand it? 
    10 I the Lord search the heart 
        and examine the mind, 
    to reward each person according to their conduct, 
        according to what their deeds deserve. 
    I don’t like this. I would prefer that Jeremiah says something more like, “Some people’s hearts are deceitful and beyond cure, but not yours, yours is pretty good. I mean, not perfect, of course, everyone makes mistakes, but you’re a pretty good person.” He doesn’t. He says, “the heart,” meaning the central defining nature of humanity, the core of who/what we are, is deceitful. Isn’t that a little harsh, Jeremiah? 

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< 2023
Westminster Christian School, located in Palmetto Bay, Florida, is a private, college-preparatory school for children from preschool through twelfth grade.