Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving

This week is Thanksgiving and as I looked at my posts on the subject in previous years they are mostly the same.  I have much to be thankful for and I usually point out all of these things.  I am very much thankful for all the ways that God has blessed me with giving me an amazing godly wife who not only loves me but she likes me, supports me, encourages me, and never gives up on me.  She always sees the best in me even when it is far from my eyes.  I have an amazing family.  While things did not turn out the way I would have planned in my family, I was raised by godly parents who introduced me to Jesus Christ, and to that I am eternally grateful.  Beyond my parents I have an amazing sister and brother-in-law, and an amazing sister-in-law and brother-in-law on Belinda's side of the family.  I have 2 sweet nephews who I just melt when I see.  I have two wonderful nieces who I am very proud of.  Even though this has been a weird year as far as health goes (ER visit, continued little sickness, Belinda's surgery, etc.) we still have good health and are breathing.  I am thankful that my Papaw's recent health scare turned out to be ok and he is completely healed.  I have some amazing friends in my life that encourage me and support me, and always when I need it the most.  I am thankful for my home, even though it continues to have many issues (currently no water lol).  I am thankful that I can still rejoice in the midst of these frustrations!  I am thankful for my calling and the opportunity to serve and minister to students.  It is such a blessing to see them grow in their faith.  I see now more than ever that my ministry is not simply to the students that are before me, but to generations to come.  I pray that God uses me to have an impact that reaches many generations.  I pray that I would influence these students in a way that their grandchildren know Jesus.  But most importantly I am thankful for Jesus.  It seems that is what we are supposed to say but I can honestly say that I mean that more today than ever.  I am thankful for salvation.  I am thankful for my Savior who loves me in spite of me.  A Savior who cares for me when I do not care about the things that I should.  A Savior who never fails even though I fail every day.  I am thankful that God continues to speak truth into my life and continues to shape me into who He wants me to be.  I am thankful He never gives up on me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clearwater Year In Review 2012

This past Sunday we had our annual Thanksgiving service at McMinn County High School.  Every year we show a year in review video of everything that took place since the previous Thanksgiving.  It's always exciting to see all the way that God has worked in our lives and used us in furthering His kingdom.


Hearts on Fire 2012

A few weeks ago the students went to the Hearts on Fire Conference in Gatlinburg.  This was the third time we have come to this conference and it was another great year.  The first session's speaker was Derwin Gray.  He preached from Isaiah 6:1-7 and delivered a solid message sharing his personal story.  Saturday morning's session had Clayton King and he also delivered a solid challenge from Luke 24:13-33 and how we can miss Jesus if we are not careful.  The conference ended with a concert that included Josh Wilson (who was phenomenal) and Casting Crowns (which proves how much I love our students).  This was an amazing weekend and I believe God did an amazing work in many people.







Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Than Thankful- Part 2

This week at Wednesday Night Worship was part 2 of our "More Than Thankful" series.  After playing the Charlie Brown theme song again during the countdown we played a worship set that included:  "Oh Happiness" (David Crowder Band), "My Glorious" (Delirious), "Jesus Thank You", and in the middle of it Bailey read Psalm 111.

I began the message talking about how sometimes we all have things we need to do but would rather get someone else to do it for us.  Some students said they try this when they have to do certain chores.  For me it is when a phone call needs to be made.  For some reason I hate talking on the phone.  I always try to get out of it or get someone else to take or make the call for me.  However when we need to do something, we need to take responsibility and do it ourselves.  

The clip I showed from the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving movie was when they sat down to eat their meal.  First of all the food was prepared and served by Snoopy, which is enough to make you cringe.  Then the plate consisted of jelly beans, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and toast.  Definitely not your average thanksgiving meal and one that Peppermint Patty was not at all pleased with.  She is extremely ungrateful and makes a big scene about it.  After Marcy calls her out on it, she asks Marcy to go and apologize for her, which sadly Marcy does.  If I was in Charlie Brown's shoes, the apology would not have meant as much since it came from someone other than Peppermint Patty herself.  We then looked at two ways we should not let others take out place in something.

1)  Don't Let Others Take Your Place in Worship
Sadly we often come to church and go through the motions of worship.  Beyond church and singing we often lack in our are of worship through prayer and Bible study.  How could we pass up this opportunity to worship the creator of life who has given us reason to live.  Probably because we do not see God for who He really is or we take Him for granted.  However even if we do not worship Him, He will still be worshipped as we read in Luke 19:39-40.  The Pharisees are trying to get Jesus to quieten the crowd from worshipping Him but He proclaims that He will be worshipped and that even the rocks will worship Him if the people were silenced.  God will be worshipped, the question is whether or not we will take part in it.

2)  Don't Pass Up The Opportunity To Thank Others
We should not miss the opportunity to thank others who have impacted us and had a godly influence on our lives.  2 Timothy 1:3 Paul thanks God for the people he is address, much like he does in most of his letters.  Paul thanks God for putting them in his life, but then he goes on and says that he constantly prays for them.  Sometimes the greatest way we can thank someone is by praying for them.  It is humbling to know that people pray for you.  I asked the students to consider how often they lift up the people in their lives in prayer.  Often we can be ungrateful like in 2 Timothy 3:2 for the people in our lives.  If we begin to realize that everything and everyone is a gift from God (James 1:17) then it will change the way we view people.  If we treat people like they are a gift from God then our own lives may look differently.

At this moment I asked the students to spend a few minutes quietly in prayer and thinking about the people that God has placed in their lives.  When they were ready they were to get a piece of paper and write a note thanking them for how they have invested in their lives.  After a few minutes and everyone we done writing their letters, we spent another few moments in prayer praying for the people we wrote thank you letters to.  We prayed that God would bless, thanked God for putting them in our lives, and prayed that we ourselves would be used in others people's lives the way that we have been impacted.  It was a great night and even though this was a quick 2 week series it was a lot of fun and I believe that God showed us a lot.

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Than Thankful- Part 1


It's been a crazy few weeks for me personally which is why I am behind on posting some stuff.  My wife had gallbladder surgery, my papaw was in the hospital, and then I have been sick.  All of us are better now and so I will hopefully get caught up this week on a few posts I would like to share.  We began a 2-week series this past week called "More Than Thankful" taking clips from the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving cartoon and taking the challenge of not only being thankful but also taking action as a result of our thankfulness.  During our countdown timer our youth band played the Charlie Brown theme song which was a lot of fun.  Heather caught it on video and posted it on Youtube and you can watch it below.  We then played a worship set that included:  "Happy Day" (Tim Hughes), "So Much", and "Good To Be Alive" (Jason Gray).

I began the message telling the students that since it is the month and season where we focus on being thankful that we would be doing that, but also be challenged to act on our gratitude.  We are all guilty of saying something but out actions not matching up.  If I say I want to be better at something but never work at it then I probably do not really want to be better at it.  If I say I love Jesus and sing praise to Him, but never show Him that I love Him then I probably do no.  Also if we are thankful for what God has blessed us with but never show Him our gratitude then we probably are not that thankful.  I shared about two people that I know, my nephew Noah and Paul's grandson Jackson (who actually calls me Uncle Nathan which is awesome).  These two children are always so grateful for anything and everything and have such gentle and loving spirits.  They are always happy and thankful which is a great example for us all.  

We watched a clip from the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving movie where Charlie Brown and his sister Sally are talking about Thanksgiving.  She makes the statement "Why should I give thanks on Thanksgiving?  What do I have to be thankful for?"  Maybe you have felt this way before.  Maybe you felt like there was more bad than good in your life at the moment and did not feel like you had a reason to give thanks.  So what do you do when you feel this way?  We first looked at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where we looked at three things that Paul says we should do as  Christians:  rejoice always, pray with ceasing, and in everything give thanks.  We have the tendency to only be thankful and praise God when things are going good.  But here we are told to rejoice always.  I believe if we stay in constant communication with God then it comes only natural to rejoice always and give thanks in everything.

At this moment I asked the students to take some time and consider all the ways that God has blessed them and all they have to be thankful for.  I told them to spend some time quietly in prayer and when they were ready to grab a stack of sticky notes that we had scattered on the stage and write on five of them what they are thankful for and place on the wall.  Here are a few pictures of what the wall looked like.  They wrote down some really good stuff.  One particular note caught my eye that said "My awesome youth group."



Afterward I read 2 Corinthians 9:15 and talked about how His indescribable gift to us is Jesus Christ.  We thank God because of HIs love and blessings He has poured out on us.  Each student still had 1 sticky note left and I asked them to spend a few more moments in silence and prayer and that if God had stirred in their hearts a reason to thank/worship Him then to write down what they will do to show Him thanks and place it in their Bible. I closed by sharing that God is most glorified when we show Him thanks in the fact that we are most satisfied in Him.  He receives the most glory when our joy in life comes from the fact that we are satisfied in Him alone.  It was a great night and I am really looking forward to part 2 this Wednesday night.