Thursday, August 25, 2011

Loving Others

This week and next at Wednesday Night Worship I am going to be sharing some of the things that God has been showing me recently in my quiet times and I think they are good lessons for us all to look at as well.  As the previous two weeks the students taught lessons themselves on the spiritual armor of God and the fruit of the Spirit, these messages go hand in hand with them.  As we think about how we are to love others and pray for them, here are some specific ways I want to do better at myself and wanted to challenge the students with as well.

1)  Grieve Over the Sins of Others
Just as we are to grieve over our own sin, we should grieve over the sins of others.  Too many times we instead judge, condemn, and get angry at the person over their sin.  In Ezra 9:1-6 we see that the Israelites have once again returned to their same pattern of sin.  They were becoming involved with people of other nations which God had warned them not to do because it was going to lead them to idol worship.  This occurred over and over in the Old Testament and eventually led to the 70 year captivity by the Babylonians.  After 70 years they began to return to their homeland and where we read this in Ezra 9 is taking place as the second group return home.  So as this point they are beginning to repeat this same sinful pattern which leads Ezra to grieve.  He rips his robe, pulls hair out of his head and beard, and sits in disgust.  But then he gets on his knees and cries out to God.  Ezra was not guilty of these sins, but he grieved because he knew how much the sin hurt God.  Instead of condemning them or getting angry at them, he prayed for them.  If you continue to read on in Ezra 10 we see that the people turn away from their sin and turn back to God.

2)  Pray For and Thank God For Those Around You
We need to be in prayer for the people around us, even if we do not know what they need to be prayed for.  How often are you going about your day and then randomly someone runs across your mind?  I truly believe that this is God leading us to pray for them.  The Apostle Paul wrote about half of the New Testament books and we see a common theme in his writings and that is that he prays for them and is thankful for them.  Paul wrote letters of encouragement, letters to teach, and sometimes even to correct.  In these there is almost always a theme of thankfulness and he mentions how he prays for them.  We looked at just some of the books of the New Testament where Paul mentions this in the first few verses so we did not even look at others where he may have said it later in one way or another.  We briefly looked at each of the following verses:  Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Philippians 1:3-4, Colossians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philemon 1:4.

So as we ended the night we spent some time in prayer and I asked the students to pray and consider the following questions:
-How much time to you spend in prayer?
-How much time do you spend praying for yourself vs praying for others?
-Do you grieve over the sins of others instead of condemning and judging them?
-Do you thank God for the people in your life and pray for them?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WNW 8-17-11

This week Group 2 led the service and they did an amazing job as well.  The lesson for the night was taken from Galatians 5:16-25 on producing spiritual fruit.  A game that the students love to play is one called "Calling All Vegetables" where the point is to be make everyone else laugh and be the last one standing to not laugh and show their teeth.  Well they played it but changed it to "Calling All Fruit".  After a round of that they led a few songs.  They actually went old school and did some old children's songs.  They sang "I'm In the Lord's Army", "Father Abraham", and something else.  I didn't know any of the words so I couldn't sing along :(  After that Mitchell taught on the fruit of the Spirit and had 9 apples and each had a different spiritual fruit written on them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  I knew that going into it that Mitchell is not one who like to speak in front of people, but he did an excellent job and did not show his nervousness at all.  I am so proud of the group of students we have who are willing to be leaders and challenge one another with the Word of God.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WNW 8-10-11

For a couple of weeks we are doing a project at Wednesday Night Worship that I have wanted to do for a long time and have now worked it in.  Last week I divided the students into 2 groups.  They then had that night to plan a Wednesday Night Worship service completely and however they wanted.  They were able to utilize people from each others groups, but someone from their group had to teach a lesson.  Group 1 went this week and I was extremely proud of them.  They opened the night by circling the chairs and we played the game "Never Have I Ever" which is always a good time.  After a welcome time we sang a few songs.  They asked the youth band to lead but they chose the songs which were "My Glorious", "You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)", "From The Inside Out", then at the end we sang "Grace Like Rain".  Katie taught the lesson and used Ephesians 6:10-20 on the Armor of God.  For a visual example they put softball gear on Brianna.  This was an excellent lesson, especially as school has started for most students.  Katie wrapped up the lesson by saying that we are to put on the armor of God not to keep bad things from happening to us because they will, but instead to protect us when those bad things happen in life.  

It was a great night and I am so proud of the students.  They led everything from the welcome, to prayer time during the worship set leading the students to pray about the school year, closing the night in prayer, creating a slide presentation to go with the lesson, and even running Propresenter.  As a youth pastor I am definitely blessed with an amazing group of students who are seeking Jesus and seeking to make a difference in this world.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Younite 2011 Closing

So we did something new with this year's Younite and that was have the students stay Saturday night and incorporated Sunday into it.  There was a Day 4 in there quiet time "Running to Jesus".  The students were to spend some time reflecting on each day of ministry on site, as well as focus on each day of the Bible study.  Then they were challenged to think of a plan of action that they would use to ensure that they run to Jesus.  They closed the quiet time by reading Philippians 3:12-16.  Daniel did the Sunday School lesson on this and allowed the students to share some of their experiences of Younite.

The youth band led worship at church and our song set was:  Hosanna (Praise is Rising), Song of Hope, Starry Night, Running to You, Invitation-Empty Me, and after everyone was dismissed we did Opposite Way.  Jason was filling in this week and his sermon title was Running the Opposite Way.  He preached on Luke 19:1-10 at the life of Zaccheus.  When Zaccheus met Jesus it changed him.  He didn't just talked about it, but he took action.  Jason said that the fruit of repentance is action, not lip service.  He challenged us to consider who are we in that crowd in these verses (thief, gossip, cheater, the person following Jesus at a guilty distance, etc.).  We have to take practical action and run the opposite way of the world.  The message was a great challenge to us all and was a great way to wrap up this year's Younite.

Here is a longer summary video that I made to show the students Wednesday night.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Younite 2011 Day 3

Day 3 of Younite was another amazing day!  The Bible study and quiet time theme was "Running to Religion".  This was one that I knew needed to be covered when I was writing the study, but had a difficult time getting across what I wanted the students to see.  We know that religion is when we try to earn God's love by working for it.  This is not possible because God loves us just the way we are, which should cause us to serve Him.  Paul lived a live of religion as a Pharisee and tells of his conversion in Acts 22:3-21.  The thing about Paul is that he thought he was running to God when he was persecuting Christians.  He really thought that he was doing what he was supposed to be doing until he had an encounter with Jesus that changed him.  What if you were thought you were running to Jesus, but instead were actually running to religion?  Wouldn't you want to know?  If you are running to religion you are going to feel defeated as you try to reach an unattainable goal.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:3 to be poor in spirit.  When we realize that we are spiritually bankrupt apart from God, we desire to have a genuine relationship with Him instead of trying to live a life of religion.

The students spent another day at Women at the Well.  They finished some of the staining they began the previous day and helped move in a staff member and her son into this new home.  This was an incredible moment for the students to see how they work they were doing actually impact others.  Sometimes we do not see the end product of our service but must keep faith in knowing that God is using our work.  

Teddy's message this night focused on Hebrews 12:2 about fixing our eyes on Jesus.  We first must ask ourselves who Jesus is in our lives.  As we covered several verses that speak to the deity of Jesus Teddy challenged us with the question "What are you living for?"  He went further to ask "Are you going to battle daily to fix your eyes on Christ?"

After our final group time we had a concert with They Came Running which was amazing.  The students really love this band and they definitely put on a great show as they sang songs full of praise to God.  It was a great way to end this year's Younite.  We actually wrapped things up on Sunday, which I will talk about tomorrow.  Here are some pictures of the day and the final installment of Hoarders.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Younite 2011 Day 2

On Day 2 of Younite we focused on "Running to Selfish Dreams" in our quiet time and Bible study.  We all have dreams in life of who we want to become, what we want to be, etc.  There is nothing wrong with that.  However if we realize that God has different plans for us, but we continue to pursue our own desires then they become selfish dreams.  Paul talks about how nothing in life compares to following Christ in Philippians 3:7-11.  Coming from Paul this means a lot.  He was a well educated man who could have lived a life of prestige and power, but he realized he was wrong in those things and chose to follow Jesus instead.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 that we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  When we not only want but actually desire God's will for us, then we leave aside any selfish dreams to follow him.

Our service project for days 2 and 3 took place on the Women at the Well campus.  The students took time staining the fence for one of the staff homes, and did some work on the inside of a new home that is being finished.  

The worship service this night was amazing.  Teddy's message from Hebrews 12:1-2 focused on "laying aside every weight and sin".  We went through many scripture during the message and spent some time on Ephesians 6:12-20 talking about the armor of God.  We must use the weapon listed, the Bible, to battle temptation.  When we get in the Word we are able to battle sin and run with endurance.  

For our nighttime activity we spent some playing some old board games like Monopoly, Clue, Candy Land, Twister, etc. and had the Wii hooked up to play the original Super Mario Bros.  This was part of what we called "flashback" day.  In our morning worship we flashed back to previous years of Younite and sang those songs.  The students had a great time playing these old games and hanging out.

Here are some pictures from Day 2 and the next installment of the Hoarders series.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Younite 2011 Day 1

For this post I am line out Day 1 of Younite, and also a little bit about the kickoff service the night before.  On Wednesday we opened the youth house for the whole church to be a part of our kickoff service and it was packed out.  It was great to see so many adults there to support the students in this.  Our youth band learned several new songs which was a blast.  Our set list for the night was:  Song of Hope, Oh Happiness, Starry Night, Running to You, Opposite Way, and Jesus Freak.  It was great to finally do Opposite Way after all these years of our students ministry going by this name.  It was also fun doing Jesus Freak, a song that was popular when I was a teenager.

So Day 1 began early Thursday morning and our theme for the day's Bible study was "Running to the Same Mistakes".  The study talked about how we sometimes run back to repeating the same mistakes even though we try hard not to.  We learn in Romans 7:19 that Paul even struggled in this area.  We can all relate to this.  However Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:4 that we are to mourn or grieve over the sin in our lives.  When we grieve over the severity of our sin it leads to true repentance in our lives.  When Daniel spoke to the group in the morning session he talked to the students about how Abraham returned to the same mistakes by lying about his wife Sarah and said that she was his sister.

Our site for the day was going to an area of McMinn County that was effected by the tornados in April and still had quite a bit of trees and damage in an old cemetery.  The cemetery was on the property of a 90 year old lady who was so grateful for the students service and the students really enjoyed talking with her.

That night our speaker Teddy gave the first of 3 messages taken from our theme verses in Hebrews 12:1-2.  Verse 1 tells us that there was a great cloud of witnesses.  So we went back to chapter 11 and looked at these great witnesses in the Hall of Faith.  We learned about the faith of great men and women such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Rahab.  The people all made terribly awful mistakes but these mistakes are not what defined them, it was their great faith in God.  So the challenge for the night that Teddy gave us is "What are we putting our faith in?"

We wrapped up the night by having a Singing Bee competition where the students were challenged to sing lyrics to popular Christian songs.  We had a blast as students were silly and had a good time singing these songs and hanging out.  Here are some pictures of Day 1 plus the first silly morning video that we showed each day called Hoarders: Church Edition.  I didn't do a good job of getting pictures from the sites myself, especially since I wasn't able to be there the first day and was limited the others.  Another thing is that we introduced the students to "planking" and "owling" which was quite funny.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Younite 2011 Summary

We finished Younite 2011 and it was such an amazing time!  My plan for this week is to go day by day with a summary of the Bible study, worship service, service project and show some pics of each day.  I am in awe of how God orchestrated everything together so well in a way that is beyond us.  I cannot thank everyone enough for helping out, the prayers and support, and time and effort that went into this camp.  I believe that God dealt with us all and did a great work in us.  I ask that you continue to pray for our students.  Pray that the words that were spoken to them will continue to have an impact on their lives.  Pray that their service will be used to further the kingdom of God.  Pray that they will continue to be united with God's purpose.  

So here is the wrap-up video we showed to the church yesterday.  Tomorrow I will post a more detailed summary of Day 1 and include some pictures.