Wednesday, July 28, 2010

All That Matters- Losing Your Focus

This past Sunday morning I had the honor of wrapping up the Younite weekend by preaching. I tied in our Younite theme of "All That Matters" and looked at "Losing Your Focus on All That Matters".

I began by talking about Younite- what it is about, a short rundown of each day, and showed our wrap-up video (which I will post hopefully tomorrow). I then talked about the theme "All That Matters" and how we all struggle with things in life that we think matter whether it is our appearance, popularity, work/career, money, struggling with feeling inadequate. The truth is that Jesus' love has set us free.

Well a few things I shared with the congregation that matter to me are: my relationship with God, my family, my wife Belinda, music (I enjoy listening and playing the acoustic guitar), and when I was growing up I loved baseball. I loved to play baseball. I loved to watch baseball. I loved talking about baseball. I love playing baseball video games. I loved collecting baseball cards. I LOVED baseball. It was what I spent most of my time, energy, and focus on. I was a pitcher and had advanced a lot for my age and dominated one year. Then the next year I was supposed to be unstoppable and so for the first time in my life I developed a bit of arrogance. I remember starting the season and striking out all 3 batters the first inning and not hitting the strike zone but maybe once or twice. If that continues eventually the other team will stop swinging and they'll get walked and that's what happened this game. We ended up losing. Not only did I lose that one, but I lost the next two games I pitched. I started the season 0-3 because I had become arrogant and lost focus on what mattered which was my team. I hadn't cared about them and only cared about my own success. My coach came to me and said I needed to sit out a bit until I worked out what was going on in my head.

This reminds me of a church who lost their focus on what mattered and that is the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. The church at Sardis has been known as a lively church, one that was on track with God but now they were dead. They were going through the motions and the sad thing is that they probably didn't even realize it. Jesus tells them in verse 2 to "Wake up". Sometimes if I'm working or studying and Belinda falls asleep on the couch I may try to wake her up but be as quiet as possible. I think though that Jesus wasn't saying "wake up" in a whisper but with a loud voice. He says in verse 3 a few things to think about. First he says that they have heard the truth. They know what they are supposed to be doing, but sadly they are not.

The second thing in verse 3 is that he tells them that he will "come like a thief" and that they don't know when that will be. We have the entire New Testament and so we see this more than once and possibly even read it lightly at times. We know that Jesus 2nd coming will take place when we least expect it. This is what He means here but it also would have alarmed the people at Sardis. The city was on the side of a hill and surrounded by a wall that made it virtually impregnable. The only way enemies would be able to gain access would be to sneak around the backside of the city but they had established a watch tower with watchmen to stop this from happening. Twice in the city's history though the watchmen lost focus of what they were supposed to be doing and allowed their city to be attacked and be destroyed. See when you lose your focus that Jesus is all that matters then it will in the same way lead to your own personal destruction.

So how do you know if you've lost your focus? Well here are a couple ways.

1) Your idea of Joy & Contentment comes from Jesus plus (you fill in the blank). Your joy and contentment doesn't come from Jesus alone. Your idea of happiness is also in something else. Matthew 6:24 tells us that you can't serve two masters. Even if the two masters are of one characteristic and have but one subject, the servant must take law from one or the other. This means that church can become and idol or master in your life and take away from your relationship with Jesus. It can be God and anything else, you fill in the blank. John Piper raise the following questions: "If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?" I'm scared to say that many "Christians" today would be ok with a heaven with no Jesus because their joy and contentment doesn't come from Jesus alone.

2) Apathy has set in. Apathy is lack of interest, care, or concern and so spiritual apathy is the lack of care or concern of the things concerning God. A good sign that you are an apathetic person is if you're a miserable person, nothing is ever good enough, or you don't care about the things you know you should. Proverbs 28:14 tells us that a hardened heart leads to calamity or disaster. Apathy will lead you to destruction.

So what if you've lost your focus. You nee to wake up from the spiritual coma you have fallen into. Jesus didn't send this message to John solely as a reprimand. He sent it as a wake-up call. He believed and desired that they would become spiritually alive again. He says in the second part of verse 2 that "I have not found your deeds completed". He wasn't finished using the Church at Sardis and He isn't finished using you either.

So thinking back to that season of baseball. I ended up bouncing back with a winning record. But the thing is besides my parents and I, nobody remembers any of that because it doesn't matter. You see I don't love baseball anymore, I like it but it's no longer my God. I'm not knocking sports because I enjoy them, but they'll never set you free. They can't be your God. You can't lose your focus from Jesus. Your joy must come from Jesus alone because He is all that matters.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Younite Day 3

This was our last day of Younite 2010 and it was an excellent one. The morning Bible study focus was on feeling adequate and valuable. This is definitely an area I have always struggled in so I can relate to anyone else who is the same way. Jeremy opened by reading about Solomon’s temple and how extravagant it was and then read verses about our body being a temple of God. He explained that if our body is considered a temple that houses the living God then how could we ever feel invaluable. Very awesome way of looking at it!

Day 3 was even hotter than the last two. There were actually heat warnings to stay inside but we ended up running out of stain and not working quite as long as the other days. Again the students didn’t complain about the heat and worked right along. After lunch they took two groups on a tour of the Women At The Well home and allowed them to see a little more in depth about what is going on in the ministry.

Worship again was incredible and Teddy brought it when he preached. He spoke from Colossians 3: and talked about the things we must put on which are: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forgiveness, and love. We must strive to put these on because we are a new creation.

After group time the Micah Watson Band led a couple more songs to send us off from Younite. It was definitely a time for our group to grow closer to each other and closer to God and become united, which is one of the basic desires behind the camp. I told the students that they will also never know the extent of the impact that they had on the Women At The Well but that the ladies will probably always look back at their service. Hopefully the students will also look back and this will be a defining moment in their life.

Here is the final morning video of Frank & Frankie.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Younite Day 2

Day 2 of Younite was even hotter than day 1, but was incredible just the same. We began the day with Bible study looking at being a God pleaser instead of a people pleaser. I had the opportunity to teach this day and shared with the students that this is an area that I face more pressure in today than I ever have before.

The time on site was great, but as I mentioned already extremely hot. We were blessed to hear a testimony from a lady at the Women At The Well. She shared about how some bad decisions led her on a path of destruction and she ended up taking crystal meth through an iv. She found redemption through the cross and has never been the same. It was definitely a beautiful testimony.

Worship was amazing once more. I was excited going into it because the Micah Watson Band was doing my favorite song of theirs called “Strength” and they were also doing my favorite hymn “Come Thou Fount”. God was definitely being glorified and in the middle of “Strength” a surge protector reset causing them to temporarily lose power on stage. That didn’t stop them as they continue to lead us to the throne and I believe it was such a sweet time of worship.

Teddy’s message was out of Colossians 3:1-11 talking about the things that when we become Christians we are to get rid of or put to death. The things we must put to death are sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness which is idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying. In our group time I asked the question why must you put these things to death and a student responded that if we don’t put them to death its like burying them alive and they’ll just come back after you.

After group time we went back to the youth house to play a competition of Minute to Win It. It was definitely a fun way to unwind from the day and have a little friendly competition. Of course our winner receive a crazy random animal for their prize in the form of a pack of Sea Monkeys. I’m pretty sure that most people didn’t know what Sea Monkeys were, which makes me sad for them.

Here is the video of Frank & Frankie from Day 2.

Younite Morning 1 Video

When I posted the details of Day 1 of Younite I was unable to post the video that we showed that morning but here it is now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Younite Day 1

Well after months of planning Younite 2010 has officially began. Well it actually began with the kickoff Wednesday Night but students arrived today ready to go at it. We began with breakfast, then today's Bible study was on Appearance/Popularity and how we shouldn't get caught up in that. After a little worship and a silly video (of course) we took off to serve at the Women At The Well campus. It was a hot day, but is supposed to get hotter. I'm definitely proud of the students for their hard work. One high point of the day was hearing a testimony from one of the ladies about how God had set her free.

Worship with the Micah Watson Band and the message from Teddy Winter were just all incredible. Teddy's message was looking at the theme and how all that matters is the gospel. The four parts of the gospel are: 1) God- holy, perfect, all knowing, and all powerful; 2) People- sinful; 3) Christ- died for our sins so we could be set free; 4) Response- our response should be to love and serve Him back.

Can't wait to see what God has in store for us on Day 2. Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to post a few pictures, videos, and maybe even our silly morning video.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Don't Speak- Lying

Last night we wrapped up our "Don't Speak" series with a look at lying. As we continued to think about how our words can either negatively or positively effect others, lies are definitely a way we can hurt others. A lie is an intentional false statement- not telling the truth. But another form of a lie is when we withhold information and do not tell the whole truth. This is one way I see teens trying to justify the things they say. Sometimes they think it isn't a lie when they only tell part of the truth since they didn't tell anything that wasn't true. But a lie is a statement made with the intention of deceiving the person you are telling it to. Therefore if you only tell part of the truth your intention is to deceive, which makes it a lie.

So why is lying wrong? Well of course the Bible says so. The 9th commandment in Exodus 20:16 tells us that we should not lie or bear false witness. We also read in Proverbs 19:5, 9, and 22 about the dangers of being a liar. We learn that it is better to be a poor man than to be a liar and that a liar will not go unpunished. But there's another reason why we shouldn't lie. That is because it is against the nature of God. Hebrews 6:18 tells us that God can not lie. This should comfort us all. Since God can't lie then it means the entire Bible is true! This also means that every word that Jesus spoke is true! If it is against the character of God to lie, and as Christians we are to seek to be like God, then we should not lie. Our honesty reveals our character and if we make it a habit of lying then it reflects that our character is missing something. I also believe that if you make it a common practice of lying and are ok with it, then you need to do a heart check.

We briefly covered 3 ways that we lie:
1) Lie to Others- This is where we lie to our friends, parents, etc.
2) Lie to Yourself- You tell yourself a lie to the point that you begin to believe it. Another way is to justify the sin in your life. You convince yourself a sin is ok when you know that it isn't and it is against the Bible
3) Lie to God- I guess I should say "Try" to lie to God. This is when someone comes to church, goes through the motions of religion, but there's nothing going on the inside. They are not living their life for God. But you can't hide it from God. He knows everything.

I know that some of the biggest storms of pain I have faced in my life have been when either I was lied about or someone I love was lied about. Actually all of the painful storms I have faced in life have revolved around people's words whether is was their complaining, lying, gossiping, or plainly just trying to hurt me and bring me down with their words. I want the students and anyone for that matter to understand that the words you use not only effects you then and there. It actually effects others, and can hurt them for a long time. Please examine your heart to see if you are being an honest person with your words. Make a conscious effort to only speak truth. As we are told in Matthew 12:36 we are going to have to give an account for every word we speak. So speak wisely and carefully!

And here is the final video in this series:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Younite 2010

I'm excited to share with you that our Younite mission camp is coming soon! It will take place July 22-24 with a kick-off service July 21. This is a local mission camp and this is our second year doing this. The vision came as I felt God drawing us to "serve our own" and do mission work close to home. Through this our mission is for unity to take place within our community and church. As this is accomplished you also grow closer to God and are united with Him. The crux of the matter is that unity begins with YOU.

This year's theme is "All That Matters". After being drawn to the song by Addison Road and much prayer we believe this is what we need to be challenged with. Everyone, teenagers and adults, are being pulled in so many directions and are faced with the pressure to be who we are not, and put our focus and energy into what we shouldn't be. The truth is all that matters is Jesus and Jesus alone!

I'm excited to bring back my very good friend Teddy Winter to be our speaker each night. The Micah Watson Band will be leading us in worship each night. Our mission project this year will be concentrated on a building project on the Women at the Well Ministries campus. Please pray for our students that we will have an impact on others, and be impacted be God.