Thursday, June 30, 2011

Connect With Love

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we focused on how we are to all be connected with love.  We spent time in Romans 12:9-18, reading it verse by verse discussing each.  We had a student write on a white board all of the commands from these verses.  We looked at the list of commands and discussed how some are easy, while some are hard.  Some days the whole list is easy as we rely on God for strength.  Other days it is very hard to love those around us.  When we think about all the people we are connected with, if we are not loving each other as we are commanded in these verses then we fall apart.  I challenged the students to consider this thought as next month we will be involved in Younite, our local mission camp. We ended the night with two students holding a rope across the front.  I made up several scenarios of how our group can be disobedient in this area of love and with each I used a knife to make cuts in the rope until it eventually fell apart.  It was then a useless, cut up rope that was laying on the ground.  When we do not follow through on these commands of love then we become useless as a group.  We are unable to be used like we were intended to.  We must stay connected with love.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baptism 6-27-11

Yesterday I had the privilege of baptizing my first student.  Austin came to me at the end of January to talk and I had the honor of leading him to Jesus that day.  A while later Austin asked me to baptize him and said that he wanted to be my first.  During the summer we go old school for baptisms- that means getting in the creek!  It was cold but it was great.  It really was a privilege getting to baptize Austin yesterday.  It's funny because he is actually taller than me.  I never thought I would have to baptize someone taller than me.  I didn't take that into play and I felt like I almost went under with him!  Anyway it was such a great day and moment in ministry.  Here is a video and some pictures of it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Relating to Those Who Hurt Us

For the next few weeks we will be looking at the Connect theme that we focused on while we were at camp with some after camp messages.  This week we looked at "Relating to Those Who Hurt Us".  When we are hurt it is our natural human desire to retaliate, however we learn from the life of Jesus that this is not what our response should be.  We see how Peter hurts Jesus in Luke 22:54-61 as he denies Jesus three times.  At this moment is says that Jesus looks at Peter.  It is not that He looks at him with anger, but because He is hurt.  Of course we do not see Jesus retaliate.  We know that Jesus' forgives Peter and makes it known to Peter himself in John 21:15-17.  It is apparent that Jesus has forgiven Peter by the fact that He commands Peter to do His work.  Someone would not give another person such an important job to do if they had not forgiven them.  

This forgiveness is exactly what Jesus had taught His disciples in the past in Matthew 5:38-41.    In Jewish society a slap was not considered violent like we would consider it, but was instead the highest insult one could give someone.  Also in Jewish society of a person was sued, they were never expected to give up their outer cloak because it might be their only way of keeping warm.  Then under Roman law a soldier had the right to force a person to carry a message for them at least one mile.  Jesus is not telling them to let people take advantage of them and to hurt them without defending themselves.  Instead He is teaching the importance of not retaliating when we are hurt.  Retaliation and revenge is not motivated by justice, but is motivated by anger.  Jesus expects His followers to act toward others as He has acted toward us, by grace and forgiveness.  We must consider Jesus' forgiveness and grace toward our own sin and forgive those who have hurt us.  If you are struggling in this area, ask God to give you His heart of love and mercy for those who have hurt you.  Ask Him to give you the strength to forgive.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MFuge 2011 Wrap-Up

I could not be more excited about what all God did last week at MFuge in Williamsburg, KY. It is amazing how the students grew in the relationships with God and grew closer as a group.  The unity within them right now is simply amazing.  I am so humbled and excited to be a part of such a great group of students.  My prayer is that they continue growing closer to God and each other, as they grow closer to those who were not at camp.  As we wrapped up the last few hours of camp we of course sang our hearts out to our favorite new worship song "Like a Lion", grabbed pictures with everyone, and then took a trip over to Cumberland Falls State Park.  Of course all the Fuge staffers wanted to get their pictures taken with cardboard Joseph and many signed his back.  As we pulled back into the church parking lot it was a bit different than any other trip I have been a part of.  Everyone told everyone bye, gave hugs, etc. and it was obvious the glow about everyone.  The only thing that went bad the whole trip was that on the last night our church van was broken into and my GPS was stolen.  This can be replaced and has no matter on the Kingdom of God and so it was not a big deal at all.  Locks can be fixed and GPS's can be replaced.  I am so thankful that God led us to the University of the Cumberlands this week.  Here are some pictures from the last day.

These last three pictures are my favorite from the whole week!

Friday, June 17, 2011

MFUGE 2011 Day 4

Today we wrapped up our last day of going to our track site.  My group specifically went to another apartment complex to spend time ministering and playing to the children that lived there.  Today's Bible study was about connecting to family and friends.  The scripture we looked at was in Matthew 17 when Jesus took Peter, James, and John upon the mountain of transfiguration and also in Matthew 16 when Jesus foretells His death and Peter rebukes Him.  The worship service tonight was very powerful.  We have all grown to love the song "Like a Lion" by David Crowder Band as it has been so powerful to sing this week.  In our group devotions I challenged the students to again consider Matthew 17 and this inner circle that Jesus had that included Peter, James, and John.  We also need an inner circle of believers that together we grow closer to God, challenge each other in our walk with God, and speak truth to one another.  As I wrapped it up for the week I told them how I had considered and prayed about what to say and how there is the usual "take this passion back home" and "don't let the fire burn out".  However as I considered this I kept coming to the phrase "Be Real".  I explained that over the past bit we have discussed and learned about what it means to be a true Christian- a Christ follower.  Since we know this, then we need to go home and be real as a Christ follower.  The world is looking for people who will not only claim to be a follower of Jesus, but that their life matches that as well.

I tried to take a lot more pictures today.  Tonight was Mega Relay which was fun to watch the students compete and see their game faces.  Of course Cardboard Joseph continued to be ever so popular!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

MFUGE 2011 Day 3

Another day of MFuge is complete and it was another great one.  Today's Bible study lesson was on respecting those in authority.  A tough topic but one that is definitely necessary for all of us to hear.  My track group visited a special needs group at a local church and participated in a worship service with them.  Then after lunch we did a worship service at a local nursing home.  The worship service tonight was excellent.  The music was powerful in the beginning and then we were challenged further in this area of authority.  Pastor Erik spoke about how Jesus' authority over us is rooted in our relationship with Him.  The purpose of God is not to get us to be good by following a bunch of rules, but for us to be His dedicated follower.  We can follow all rules, but if we do not love God and love others then everything else falls and is worthless.  After the invitation the worship band came back out and led a few more songs, and it was really what I needed personally.  As I work to make sure everything is in order for our group, I still need to take a breather and allow God to speak to me and this was a moment of refreshment.  As we sang one of my favorite worship songs "Hosanna", my favorite line of the song spoke to me once again:  "Break my heart for what breaks Yours!"  In these few minutes of worship I sensed the Holy Spirit lead me to change what I had planned for group devotions.  Instead we had some discussion about how the day was and what God was speaking to the students with, or what they are struggling with.  After a great time of sharing we spent time in prayer.  I asked the students to pray quietly considering what had been taught today, and if they needed to they could pray with one another.  During this time I spent a few minutes with each student asking them about their prayer needs and praying with them individually.  I don't know about them but this was really good for me.  I love these students and I love hearing their fears, concerns, needs, and lifting them up to our incredible God.  I am so thankful for this group of students and what God is doing in their lives this week.

A few notes of fun:  I kept my winning steak alive by winning a cool Fuge coffee mug.  We have an incredible church group leader.  I actually wore a jacket at camp for the first time ever because I'm usually sweating buckets but not today.  Tonight was the variety show and while it wasn't as "interesting" as last year it was still fun.  I did not do a good job of taking pictures today but here are a few, and a majority of my pics are of Malee and Krista since they are in my track group.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MFUGE 2011 Day 2

Today was our first day on track and we could not have asked for a greater day!  The sky was a bit overcast, there was a nice breeze, and the temperature was in the upper 70's.  Absolutely perfect to be outside serving God!  My track group spent the day ministering to kids in an apartment complex and we had a blast.  God is definitely working through us and in the lives of our students.  Today's Bible study lesson focused on reaching the lost.  The question asked in Bible study that stayed with me all day was "Who introduced you to Jesus?"  My mom and dad introduced me to Jesus.  As I pondered on that I was overcome with emotion and gratitude toward my parents for this.  As I spent time thinking on it all day I knew it needed to be our main discussion point in church group devotions.  We had a great time discussing this and what we were a part of on our track sites today.  One student shared about how after sensing God calling them into some sort of ministry that she had clearly heard from God tonight!  How exciting it is when God calls His children to follow Him and they listen!  It was definitely a sweet day all around.

A couple of fun notes.  I was one of four youth pastors called on stage for the GLOD (Group Leader of the Day) Games.  After two difficult rounds I was declared the winner!  I won't even explain what I had to do but I know I looked absolutely ridiculous.  Then Brad Bradford was given the "Golden Driver of the Day" award.  The night life tonight was a game show and we were encouraged to dress like our favorite cartoon character.  Mitchell Fox dressed up as Curious George and competed on stage as well.

MFuge 2011 Day 1

Well we are here in Williamsburg, KY at The University of the Cumberlands for MFuge 2011!  We could not be more excited about this week!  This is a beautiful campus, we have great leaders, and a great group of students who are ready to be used and grow closer to God.  I know that that God is going to do great things through us and within our group this week.  The theme this year is "Connect" and we are going to be looking at our relationships and our influence in leading others to Christ as we focus on the relationship between Jesus and Peter.  I believe the worship band and the camp pastor are going to do a great job this week.  I am personally excited as I am in a group that is a combination of Social and Children's tracks.  We will be doing a VBS type setting a couple of days for apartment complexes in the area.  Then one day will be split ministering to a local special needs group and then a nursing home.  Others in our group will be serving at a girl's camp, painting, serving at food banks, etc.  One funny thing is that since Joseph had to back out last minute because of Summer school, we took him in cardboard form.  I am pretty sure that he is currently the most popular man on campus.  They even game him a t-shirt and name tag.  Before making it to camp we even snuck him in a few pics shopping.