Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekly Newsletter

Students and parents of students now have one more way of seeing what's going on in student ministry. Our weekly newsletter "The Point" is now available to view online on the student ministry page of the Clearwater website at www.clearwaterbc.org

Friday, November 20, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

Yesterday I wrote about the subject of thankfulness that I spoke on this past Wednesday. So here is my list of what I'm thankful for. Some will are serious and some will be silly but I am definitely thankful for all of these and certainly couldn't sum up on a blog post everything that God has blessed me with, but here's a start.

-First of all I'm thankful for God, His love for me, His sending of Jesus to die for me so that I could be saved and have an eternal relationship with Him when I never deserved anything. I'm thankful for the fact that He keeps His hand on me and never turns His back on me when I can be a wretch and undeserving of His mercy and love.
-My wife Belinda. Words can't express the feelings I have for her. I'm in awe each day that she would even care about me and loves me the way she does. I'm humbled by how she supports me and stands by me in every aspect in life and she never gives up on me. I'm thankful we get to spend the rest of our lives together.
-My calling from God- I'm thankful for the calling that God has placed on my life. I'm extremely humbled that He would call an unqualified person like me to represent Him. I love the fact that I get to do what I do!
-My family- especially my mom and dad- they taught me values and respect that I admire and am thankful they instilled in me. I'm thankful they gave me opportunities and care for me the way they do.
-Other Family- my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, nephew, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. These people have influence me and shaped me to who I am today and have supported me throughout the years.
-Friends- I've heard it said that if when you count your friends that there are more than you can count on one hand then you are blessed. I feel that I fall into this category.
-My partners in ministry- I couldn't ask for greater friends/family/partners to minister with to lift each other up, support one another, and take on hell with a water pistol with.
-Music- I love music and am especially thankful for the music of Michael W. Smith, Jason Gray, Phil Wickham, David Crowder, They Came Running, Leeland, etc.
-My guitar- Martin DCX1KE- love it
-Baseball
-Egg Nog
-Coca-Cola
-Coffee- especially from Java on the Square
-Video Games- the New Super Mario Bros. Wii rocks!
-My Jeep- I'm ready for spring already to take the top off!
-My Macbook- I could never go back to a PC
-Anyone who was willing to read this and actually care what I have to say- Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Are You Thankful For?

Its that time of year where there's constant talk of turkey, parades, football, and Black Friday. Yes it's Thanksgiving next week and so last night we focused on the subject. I asked the students to tell me a few things they are thankful for and some of their favorite Thanksgiving foods (my favorite Thanksgiving food is Buttermilk pie, and I don't like turkey). The other night I asked my 5 year old nephew Noah to come sit in my lap and tell me what he is thankful for. He thought for a minute and then without my prompting looked at me and said "Jesus and God", which brought tears to my eyes. Then he proceeded with a long list that included "food, drink, tv, video games, couch, house, family, dog, etc. As we think about all the things we are thankful for I challenged the students with a tough question. Its the kind of question we know how we want to answer it, but we need to consider how we would truthfully react in the situation. I asked them this: "If you woke up tomorrow and had nothing at all, would you still be thankful?" If everything you have today that you are used to- home, friends, family, possessions, etc. If all of that was gone and left you with nothing but Jesus, would you still be thankful. Its a tough thought and I hope that no one would ever experience that type of situation. I personally know that I need to be in love with Jesus to the point that He is all I need and all I want. I believe that's what it means to be a true follower of Christ. Its not to say that we would be disappointed or hurt when we experience loss in our lives, but that we realize that Jesus is so much more valuable.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in everything. When we endure hard times- we need to give thanks. This is why we sang Desert Song last night. I love the theme of this song about how no matter what we are going through in life- we have to bring praise and acknowledge that God is sovereign and in control, and most importantly that He loves us through it.

I asked the students to enter into a time of prayer and consider these four things to ask God, which we need to pray each and every day.
1) Ask God to reveal to you what you need to be thankful for
2) Ask God to give you a thankful attitude and heart
3) Ask God to give you a greater love and appreciation of Him
4) Ask God to show you how blessed you are

I then had the students write down on a card the things that they are thankful for. I urge you to do the same as well. Think about what you're thankful for and share it with others. I'll be posting my list soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

For Such A Time As This

Have you ever heard the phrase "for such a time as this"? I was kind of blown away last night when I asked the students this and none of them had ever heard this. I've heard this many times over my life such as when someone has talked about where God currently has them. We looked at the book of Esther which can be quiet interesting on many levels regarding the writing, history, etc. When the Jews were going to be massacred because of the decree that Haman had the King issue, Mordecai asked his cousin Esther who had become the queen to intercede. Esther had been an orphan earlier in life, was adopted by her cousin Mordecai, then eventually rose from underdog to become the queen of Persia. Mordecai urged Esther to risk her life and confront the king to change the decree and tells her in Esther 4:13-14 that she may have become queen for "such a time as this". In other words Mordecai was saying to Esther that maybe God had placed her as queen in order to save her people. God places us where He wants to us to serve Him and be used. We need to ask ourselves each day if we are exactly where God wants us to be. Also during the hard times we need to realize that God has us where we are for a reason. We have to trust in Him and seek Him to find out exactly how He wants to use us during these times.

So ask yourself, in the midst of my circumstances, situations, etc. am I seeking how God can truly use me. Because He has placed you where you are for such a time as this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where's Your Allegiance

As we continued the Follow the Leader this week we focused on allegiance. How do you know if someone is a Christian or not? How do people know if you are a Christian? If we are a follower of Jesus then it should imply action- and that our actions imply it. When I think of allegiance for some reason I think of how the Nazi's were devoted to Hitler. They believed his ways were right and so they devoted their lives to him. They denied personal control to follow his leadership. This is exactly what Jesus is saying we should be like if we are a follower of Him in Luke 9:23. Sometimes in this world there is a difference in belief and action. We say we believe one thing but don't act like it. If we believe God's Word then we should act like it. Some take different paths when it comes to allegiance and their actions don't line up with what they say they believe. We looked at the following 3 types of allegiance.

Selective Allegiance
This is when people show allegiance to God in areas that match up with their desires, goals, and pursuits as long as it takes them in the direction they are already going. These people have this mentality- "I'll follow you God but don't ask for my allegiance to the degree that will mess with my life and the way I want it to be. I'm a Christian but don't ask me to forgive people when they hurt me, don't ask me to stop having pre-marital sex, and don't ask me to treat people like Jesus would." My fear is that these people are why its so hard to minister to lost and unchurched people today. Jesus makes it very clear in Revelation 3:16 that he pukes these people up because they are so disgusting to Him.

Qualified Allegiance
This is when people say they follow God as long as He does what He says He will do. But the moment that God doesn't answer a prayer the way they want or in the time frame they want then they're out. These people treat God like a waiter- they'll give a good tip as long as they're served the way they think they deserve. The thing is- God doesn't owe us anything but His love, mercy, and grace surround us!

Divided Allegiance
This is when people say they'll follow God and (fill in the blank). Its like having 2 favorite baseball teams- eventually they have to play each other and you'll have to choose. In Mark 10 the rich young ruler was told by Jesus that in order to follow Him that he needed to sell everything and give to the poor. The man was sad because he was rich and didn't want to give that up to follow Jesus.

Our allegiance is tested often. You may have your allegiance tested today. So how do people know if you're a Christian or not? Is it because of your beliefs? Or because your actions show that you truly follow Christ?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Can't Follow Without Leaving

We started a series the week called "Follow the Leader" where we will talk about what all it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This first message was about how when we're called to be follower's of Jesus we are required to leave stuff behind. We've all had that feeling like we've forgotten something and left it behind. Or maybe we've given up something for a while like sweets, cokes, etc. It can feel strange when this happens. It may feel unnatural at first to give up something in order to follower Jesus but that's what we're called to do. We looked at a couple of examples of people who didn't want to leave everything behind to follow Jesus and those who did.

Leaving or abandonment was a common element when Jesus called disciples to follow Him. It was tradition in these days for a group of men to follow a rabbi. They would take pride in their rabbi and would travel around with them everywhere trying to learn as much as possible. The scribe or teacher pursues Jesus. He would have been someone that was looked up to in society. Jesus knows his heart and that the man wants to follow Jesus maybe to gain fame or notoriety that might come from following Jesus. So Jesus is honest with him and says if you're going to follow me, I want you to know that I'm pretty much homeless. Jesus didn't try to sell him on a lie, he was completely honest with him about the fact that it may be tough, even though the blessings will outweigh the cost. Jesus wasn't about getting as many followers as possible, he wanted dedicated and committed followers

This guy is already a disciple but not one of the 12. At this time there was probably around 100 or so people who followed Jesus around. This passage used to confuse me until I studied the context of it. I used to think that Jesus wasn't allowing the man to go to his dad's funeral. But the truth is that the man's father hadn't died yet. When he said let me go bury my father what he really meant was this- Jesus I want to follow, but let me wait until my dad dies so I can gain his inheritance. In other words he was saying- Jesus I want to follow you, but just not right now. The scary thing about this kind of mentality is that none of us are promised another second so we may not live until that later time. Also if this is your mentality then your heart may harden over time and you never actually get around to truly following Jesus

Matthew would have been despised because of his occupation as a tax collector who would overcharge the citizens in order to make money. Matthew could have had many excuses for not following Jesus maybe because he might have thought he wasn't good enough to follow Him. However he left his job, the wealth, and the wickedness to follow Jesus.

Jesus has Peter take him out in the water and drop his nets to catch fish. Peter agrees even though they hadn't caught anything for a while and they catch so much fish that the nets began to break and they fill two boats with fish. After this Peter, James, and John left everything- they're business, boats, supplies, all the fish they had just caught, everything in order to follow Jesus

When Jesus called you to follow Him, he called you to follow Him completely. May seem hard at first, but will become easier with time. Some people treat their relationship with Jesus like this- "I'm going to follow Jesus and be a Christian but still get drunk, have pre-marital sex, do drugs, cuss, cheat, lie, gossip, be mean to people, ignore the kid in class who doesn't have friends, disrespect my parents, not read my Bible because I can listen to it being read at church, go to school where I want, choose my own career, etc. But I encourage you to ask yourself this honestly- "If you had to choose between God and (fill in the blank)- what would you choose?" The Bible clearly tells us you can't serve two masters. You need to make Jesus your only pursuit. When this happens your relationships, career, school, all decisions will be determined by where He leads you. As you follow Him these decisions will all be based on following Him. Is there anything you need to leave behind so that you can truly be a follower of Christ?