Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Younite 2011

After months of preparation and prayer, Younite 2011 is here, well almost.  Our kickoff service is tomorrow night and then we officially begin Thursday morning.  Younite is our local mission camp where we take a few days to serve those closer to home and share with them the love of Jesus.  Each day we begin with a quiet time and Bible study and then we get excited for the day with some worship.  Then we go out and serve in our community.  Then each night we have a worship service and group discussion time.  To wrap up each day we have a fun activity and then we go home to crash for a few hours before doing it again the next day.  I am excited to have my friend Teddy Winter back this year to share a message each night.  Another good friend of mine Daniel Rogers will be teaching the Bible study each morning and helping out in other various ways.  They Came Running will be leading us in worship each night and then doing a concert to end the camp.  The theme this year is "Running to You" and we will look at the following topics:  "Running to the Same Mistakes", "Running to Selfish Dreams", "Running to Religion", and "Running to Jesus".  We are all running to something in life but we have to ask ourselves daily "Are we running to Jesus?"  Please pray for these listed and many others that will be helping out in many different ways.  Please pray for the students as they serve.  Pray that God will use them in a mighty way, and at the same time work in their lives.  Pray that we will all continue to grow closer to each other and closer to Jesus through this experience.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prayer Stations 7/20/11

This week for Wednesday Night Worship we did prayer stations.  We began the night in the main room of the youth house as a group and passed around a heavy bag of rocks.  I asked the students to imagine for a moment that the bag symbolized all of our burdens.  The bag was heavy, it was dirty, and weighed down whoever was holding it.  That's exactly how the burdens that we carry are.  They weigh us down and hold us back from accomplishing God's will.  Then everyone got a handful of rocks out of the bag and the bag began to get lighter. This is what happens when we bear one another's burdens in life.  Galatians 6:2 tells us to "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ".  We are to carry one another during the hard times in life.  I then asked the students to spend a few minutes praying and asking God to reveal to them their own burdens that are weighing them down and to let the rocks in their hand represent their burdens.  Then after a few minutes of prayer I asked them to come lay their rocks in the altar as they lay their burdens at the feet of Jesus just as Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 tell us to.  I challenged the students to really pray for strength from God to not pick their burdens up and when they were ready to move on to another room to go ahead.

One room had chairs with papers in them that had a maze printed on it.  The instructions were to follow the maze with their fingertips and think about the people in their lives that have helped them along their journey in life.  Then take some time to thank God for them and what they mean to them.  They were also challenged to take a moment over the next week and personally thank them for what they have done in their life.

Another room had a prayer focus specifically on Younite that is next week.  One wall had a picture of Teddy Winter our camp pastor with a little information about him.  The students were to pray for him as he prepares messages for the nightly worship services and that God would speak through him the words that would pierce our hearts.  Another wall had a picture of Daniel Rogers who will be leading the morning Bible study and helping out in various ways.  The students were asked to pray for him and guidance in leading the Bible study each day and that God will speak truth through him.  Another wall had a picture and details of the band They Came Running who will be leading worship each night.  The students were to pray for them that God will lead them to the right songs that will lead us to the throne of God each night.

The last room had a Scrabble board with the instructions to take a few minutes to think about all of the attributes of God.  Then they were to add one of these words to the Scrabble board and take a few minutes reading the other words praising God for who He is.  We ended the night singing a few songs and I asked the students to share some of the words they placed on the board.  Some of those words were "mighty", "friend", "love", etc.  I told the students that as these words were connected on the Scrabble board, it is the same when we think about the attributes of God.  We can't say that God is loving and not be a friend, it doesn't work that way.  All of the attributes of God are connected.  We can have confidence in knowing that all of the attributes of God are true.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Connect Through Service

This week we finished the Connect series as I talked about how we are to connect through service and serving others.  We focused mainly on Matthew 25:41-46, where Jesus is speaking about the end times.  In this passage He lets us know that when we serve "the least of these", we are actually serving Him.  We divided the students into 2 groups.  Group 1 had to come up with the ways we ignore the needs of those around us in each of the categories from the verses:  Hungry, Thirsty, Naked, Stranger/Lonely, Imprisoned, Sick.  Group 2 had to come up with the ways as believers we can fulfill the needs of those in each of the same categories.  We then discussed each category as a group as they shared what they had come up with.  One thing that I was impressed with the students on is that not only had they discussed physical hunger and imprisonment, but spiritual hunger and imprisonment that people face.  

After discussing these categories I challenged the students to think for a moment about these categories in terms of the people they go to school with.  I wanted them to think about the hungry, thirsty, lonely, etc. at their school and how they should serve them.  I then read John 13:34-35 to them about how people we know we are Christians by our acts of love for others.  As we closed I challenged the students to think about the ways that they each most ignore the needs of those around them, and decide how they are going to change that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Part in Miracles

One thing that is definitely true about me is that I am very hard on and critical of myself.  For whatever reason this has always been the case for as long as I can remember.  I guess it has to do with my low self-esteem that I struggle with.  With the pressure I and others place on myself it sometimes makes me feel that some things are unattainable.  For instance "I will never reach that goal" or "My impact on others is inexistent", etc.  I felt this recently one day while I struggled with insecurities and discouragements.  I felt like I had not done a good enough job on something and that I had failed.  Even though I had given my best effort and followed God completely at this point on the situation, I had not lived up to my own expectations, much less the possible expectations of others.  So after some time of feeling discouraged I heard a quote by David Nasser that went something like this:  "We are not called to perform miracles, but instead we are called to be obedient so that God can perform the miracles for us".  How often do I put the pressure on myself to perform a miracle, when that is not what I was called to do.  God has called you and I to obedience, and when we are obedient He takes our effort and performs a miracle with it.  Not for our glory, but so that He is glorified in the situation.  This was the definitely the reminder I needed that day, and every day for that matter.  I need to be reminded that I can not perform miracles, but I am to be an instrument for God to point to Him as He performs the miracles.  This does not mean that we sit back and do nothing, we still give our best effort.  We just realize that it is out of our hands.

This reminds of me of many miracles in the Bible, but especially those in the book of Exodus.  As God used Moses to lead the children of Israel out of slavery, many miracles were performed.  God did use Moses to perform the miracles, but they were born out of Moses' obedience to approach Pharaoh and follow through on what God asked Him to do.

There are many things in life that I will never accomplish and many expectations that I will never live up to- set by myself and others.  However if I am obedient to God and follow through in doing what He commands as I give Him my best effort, then He will perform the miracles.  It is not up to me because it is beyond my capabilities.  I am just thankful I get to be used as an instrument to bring Him glory.  It is because of this that neither I nor anyone else should be hard on themselves or feel discouraged.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Connect Others With Christ

This week we looked at how we are to connect others with Christ.  Think about a 3-legged race.  A great way to get hurt, but think about the dynamics of how this works.  If one member is weak they usually drag the other down.  This is how it works in our connections with other people, especially in our friendships.  We took the time to write down a list on a dry-erase board of "Qualities of a Good Friend" and "Qualities of a Bad Friend".  Some of the good qualities were:  good listener, trustworthy, respects, encourager, etc.  Some of the bad qualities were:  liar, thief, bad communicator, back-stabber, etc.  After getting a picture of what a friendship should look like we took a look at the example Jesus taught His disciples about in John 15:12-17.  Jesus gives us the picture perfect example of a friendship.  In fact He was describing his relationship with us and how He befriends us, if we allow Him to.  We went through discussing each verse and discussed these points and more:  1) Jesus begins and ends this section of Scripture with pretty much the same statement, by giving us the command to love one another;  2)  Jesus says in verse 13 that the greatest love a friend has for another is to lay down their life for them.  Of course this is before Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of us.  This shows us the greatest love of all.

Now that the good qualities of a friendship have been discussed, we looked at the negative impact of being around bad company.  Proverbs 22:24-25 shows us why is it important to not be around angry people because it rubs off on us.  The same is spoken in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that tells us that bad company corrupts our morals.  If we are around people with bad qualities, they are more than likely to rub off on us.  What should take place within our friendships is what Proverbs 27:17 says that we sharpen each other.  When we consider our relationship with Jesus, if we are spending time with Him as we should then He will be sharpening us.  We then should be sharpening our other friends as we set a godly example.  As we closed with a time of prayer I challenged the students to ask God to search their hearts and reveal to them if they are being a negative or positive influence on their friends, and also if their friends are being a positive or negative influence on themselves.  I then challenged them to not only think of ways that they can be a better friends, but to make a decision to actually do those things.