Friday, April 27, 2012

Disciple Now 2012 Wrap-Up

This past weekend was our Disciple Now and it was a really great weekend.  The students were in homes for the weekend studying God's Word and learning about why it is necessary for us to hit the Pause button every day in our busy schedules and spend time with God.  The worship service on Saturday night was really good and the message from my friend Jason was on Luke 9:22-25 and how there is a difference in wearing a cross and carrying it. Here is the wrap-up video I made showing some of the highlights of the weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ideal to Real- On Fire For God

We continued the "Ideal to Real" series this week at Wednesday Night Worship.  We watched a Disciple Now wrap-up video which I will post tomorrow.  We then went into a worship set that included:  "Meet With Me" (?), "Holding Onto You" (Paul Colman), "Empty Me" (not sure who, not the Chris Sligh song though), "Good" (Chris Sligh).

This week we focused on being on fire for God.  We hear it often that people want to be on fire for God, but sadly I believe that they just expect it to happen.  We began with a discussion of who some of their heroes are and why.  Some answers were Tim Tebow, someone mentioned their grandparents, another mentioned their tae kwon do instructor, etc.  They said that these people had the personal qualities, and some athletic qualities that they would like to be like.  We read Revelation 3:15-16 which is the famous verses about being lukewarm.  We briefly looked at why this lukewarm example made sense to the people at Laodicea.  First of all the word "spit" used here literally means to vomit.  Physicians would use lukewarm water to induce vomiting when someone was sick.  Also this made sense because nearby Hierapolis was known for its natural hot springs, and Colossae was known for it's cold refreshing mountain water.  However Laodicea had an underwater aqueduct that brought in water and by the time it reached there it was dirty, tepid, lukewarm water that would make you want to vomit.  So Jesus is saying that He would rather you be either hot or cold.  It seems that we usually simply focus on not being lukewarm when we study these verses, but this time we looked at being hot or being on fire for God.  How do you get there?  What does it take?  We looked at these three steps that I believe we must do in order to be on fire for God.

1)  You Have To Want It
It makes sense doesn't it?  You can say you want to be on fire for God, and even have a little bit of that desire.  However you must deeply want it first in order for it to become a reality in your life.  We read Hebrews 11:13-16 from the "hall of faith".  These people of faith had a desire for God and for heaven even without knowing and understanding all that was in store for them.  They were willing to follow God regardless of what it meant.  They had a deep desire for God.  I recently read a blog post where my friend Teddy's wife has been on a mission trip in Africa.  You should take the time to read this post here.  I read this to the students and shared that my first thoughts after reading it was "good for her, that's great that she is serving like that", but then I thought to myself "but that's just not for me".  Then God got my attention as I heard Him say "Why not Nathan?".  Even though God knew the answer it humbled me to think it through as I responded to Him.  I am ashamed to say that the reason that wasn't me is because I didn't want it to be.  If I do not have a desire to do the things that God has called me to do as a Christ-follower then how I will I ever be on fire for Him and be more like Him?  We must first want it.

2)  You Have To Work For It
At first you might think "we don't have to work for salvation" and you are right.  We do not work for salvation or even work to earn God's love, we work because of God's love.  If we want our relationship with God to grow to the next level, we have to work at it even when we do not feel like it.  In Romans 12:9-18 we see a great outline of what a Christian actually looks like.  Even when we do not want to, we are still called to pray fervently, love others, bless those who persecute us, etc.  I brought up again those who we began the night talking about as being our heroes.  How did Tim Tebow become the athlete he is?  By working for it.  Sometimes we say we want to be good at something, but we really are not willing to do the work it takes to become that.  They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.  If you only worked at something for an hour a day, it would take over 27 years to achieve this amount of time!  It takes hard work to get to that level.  This is why we must work hard at our relationship with Jesus Christ.  The thing we have to realize too is that it is so worth the work we put into it, and He deserves our best!  I shared that a stuntman who is going to be set on fire doesn't just get set on fire.  They have to put several layers of clothing, gels, etc. to protect them and it takes a lot of work, time, and effort.  This is a great example that it takes work for us to be on fire for God.

3)  You Have To Maintain It
Once you are on fire for God, you have to maintain, and work to make it grow even more.  How do you do this?  I believe you do it by celebrating what God has done in your life.  I also believe that you share with others about Jesus.  When you do this, your desire for God will grow even more so.

We closed the night in prayer by evaluating where we are in our relationship with God like we have been with each message in this series.  I challenged the students that if they do not have a great desire for God that they pray that He gives it to them.  I challenge you to do the same thing.  There are many days when we do not feel like following God and doing what it takes to have a relationship with Him.  I challenge you to ask God to give you a greater desire for Him.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Disciple Now 2012 Kickoff

Last night was our kickoff service for our Disciple Now Weekend.  What an amazing night!  We had a great time of fellowship and worship and got the students excited about the weekend.  We are praying that God does miraculous things in the lives of our students.  I said on Wednesday that I hope and pray that God shows up and wrecks everyones plans in life.  While that may sound harsh, it really isn't because my desire is that they will allow God to have complete control of their lives, their hopes, their dreams, etc.

The theme for this Disciple Now is "The Pause: Learning to Seek God" and will focus on the why's and how's of having a daily relationship with Jesus.  Students lives are filled with everything you can imagine from school to sports to clubs and all the things that they think they have to be involved in and sometimes it leaves little room for a daily relationship with Jesus.  Throughout this weekend we will be looking at why it is necessary to hit the pause button on everything and spend time with God, and talking about how to make it a priority in our lives.  Please join us in praying for our students this weekend that this would be a life changing weekend!

Here are some pictures of the night and we closed the night by showing my silly Disciple Now video.  I always do a silly video, and it usually has my "Olympic Athlete" character.  This is also a reason why I had to show the "Guy On A Buffalo" videos for the students.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ideal to Real- Camp/Event Spiritual High

This week was another great week at our Wednesday Night Worship Service.  I was exhausted afterward from the amount of energy that went into it, but it was so worth it.  We began the night by watching another Guy On A Buffalo Video because everyone needs to see how hilarious these videos are, plus you'll see another reason why tomorrow.  We then went into a worship set of:  "Dancing Generation" (Matt Redman), "Happy Day" (Tim Hughes), "SMS-Shine" (David Crowder Band), and "Always" (Kristian Stanfill).

The message for this night was really what this "Ideal to Real" series begin from.  After talking with several students about some of their concerns for this generation, and from I have seen as a youth pastor over the years, combined with the fact that this weekend is our Disciple Now weekend it was a perfect time to cover this topic.  Many times we go to a Christian event, Disciple Now, MFuge, Younite, or even a great church service and we come out with escalated emotions.  We make a commitment to be different than before, and feel like we can change the world, but the feeling only lasts for a couple of days and we then return back to normal.  This is frustrating as a youth pastor or any Christian see this occur, and is an even bigger hinderance on a Christian witness.  So how do you go from such a spiritual mountain top back down to the valley in a short amount of time?  I heard a speaker once say that it is because we really do not go up to the top of the mountain, we only go up about an inch.  We can not believe that true change has occurred in our life and then go back to living like we did before.

Jesus addressed this in His famous parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23.  Jesus talks about 4 types of soil as He refers to 4 different types of people.  We talked about two of the four.  We mainly discussed the one in verses 5-6 and 20-21 that says the seed fell in a rocky place and was only temporary because it had no deep roots.  This explains someone who hears the truth of the Gospel and quickly responds with excitement and enthusiasm, but has not true change of heart or change of character and quickly returns to the way they were before.  This happens often to many people, but is a routine that must be broken.  If this is something that happens then it because of one of two reasons.
1)  You have never actually been saved by making a true commitment to follow Jesus Christ.  I did not say this to make anyone doubt their salvation, but is something that must be examined.
2)  You are spiritually immature and are being more influenced by the world than by Jesus.  You then leave the Christian event and feel like you have been changed and that you can continue going through life as you were before without any effort on your part.  You feel like you have a force field protecting you, but that is not true.  You then go back into the world and are influenced by the world just as you were before and return to being like you were before like nothing ever happened.

So how do you get away from this and become the one who is good soil and produces fruit like in verse 23?  First of all, you have to want to make it real in your own life.  You must own it.  You must also decide what changes are going to take place, and follow through with a plan of action.  You must identify the things in your life that you must separate from and the things that you must completely cut out.  Then you must also make a plan of action on how and when you will spend time daily with God.  The thing is, we know we must do these things, but why don't we do it?

We closed the night by challenging the students to make a commitment to not be rocky soil this weekend, and with our upcoming MFuge and Younite camps in the next few months.  I challenged them to allow God's Word to take deep root in their hearts so that true life change will take place.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ideal to Real- Jesus' Perspective of You

Last week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a new series called "Ideal to Real".  Throughout this series we will be looking at what the ideal Christian looks like and making it a reality in our life.  We began the night by watching one of the "Guy on a Buffalo" videos.  I can't believe I am just now discovering these but they are hilarious!  We then went into a worship set that included Marvelous Light (Charlie Hall), Happy Day (Tim Hughes), How He Loves (Crowder/McMillan), Desert Song (Hillsong United).

After an intro of what we are going to be thinking about and covering in this series, I talked a little bit about perspective.  I talked about how a perspective is a viewpoint or attitude toward something/someone.  I even talked a little about how perspective is used in art (got to use that Art Minor I earned somehow).  I then gave a story on perspective.  Last year Belinda and I went to Disney World for our summer vacation (that was actually in November).  Before going we researched restaurants and tips, and I found out about an old water park there called River Country that has been closed for several years and is now abandoned and overgrown.  If you take a boat to the campground, you can still see some of the ruins of this old water park, and for some reason it fascinated me.  So when we were there, we took the boat over, and walked up to the fence that keeps you from entering this old water park.  I put my camera phone through an opening and took a picture and sent it to my mom and led her to believe that we had climbed the fence and were inside.  After leading her on several minutes, I sent her another picture showing that I was actually standing on the outside.  However from the perspective of the first picture, it looked like I was actually on the inside.

The Scripture we focused on for the night was Matthew 16:13-16.  We looked at how Jesus asked the disciples who people were saying He was.  Then Jesus asks directly who they believe He is, to which Peter replies that He is the Christ.  From the last series (The Final Week) we looked at the question "Who is Jesus?" because it is the most important question for each person to answer in their own lives.  I then challenged the students to think for a moment about if they were able to sit down face to face with Jesus right now and talk to Him about anything.  We could ask all kinds of questions and He would have the right answer to each of them.  What if we asked Jesus "Who do people say that I am?" or "What do people say about me?".  This can be hard because sometimes people say awful and untrue things about us.  Sometimes though people can have an accurate perception of us.  Then what if you asked Jesus the question "Who do You say that I am?".  Jesus knows all, sees all, and hears all.  Jesus knows who we really are.  It is His perspective of us that matters the most.  We closed the night by sitting in total silence, and with the opportunity to spend some time in prayer asking Jesus who we really are, and to reveal the truth to us. I challenged the students to listen to God, and be willing to change the areas in their lives that need to change.  I challenge you to do the same.