Thursday, February 28, 2013

Silly Little Love Songs- Part 2

We continued our current relationship series this week at WNW.  We began the night with a worship set that included:  "Song of Hope" (Robbie Seay Band), "God is Able" (Hillsong), and "Arms that Hold the Universe" (Fee).

After a brief review of the previous week I got right into this week's silly love song.  This week we watched a clip of the music video of the song "All My Life" by K-Ci and Jojo.  We then looked at a couple of specific lyrics:
1)  "I promise to never fall in love with a stranger"
Seriously?  Is this even possible?  No it isn't.  Of course we thought about the recent situation with football player Manti Te'o.  He supposedly fell in love with someone over the internet and it turned out that she didn't even exist.  The truth is, he wasn't in love with her because he never met her.  You have to meet and interact with someone before you can actually fall in love with them.

2)  "All my life I prayed for someone like you"
Ok this seems to make a little more sense.  There are plenty of verses in the Bible on prayer but we specifically looked at James 5:16.  The first part says to "confess your sins to one another".  This is exactly what we talked about last week when talking about honesty.  It goes on to say in regards to praying for one another "so that you may be healed".  Prayer brings healing as our will becomes aligned with His.  Further on it says "the effective prayer...accomplish(es) much".  The truth is that when someone is seeking God with their whole heart then their prayers will be extremely powerful.  It isn't that they get what they want, but their prayer life aligns with the will of God.  

So how does this apply to our marriages?  First of all if he/she does not pray consistently then their relationship with God is not where it should be.  A married couple should pray together, and must pray for one another.  But what can these students do right now?  Well they need to start, if they are not already, praying for their future spouse.  I know that I am so thankful that my parents not only prayed for my future spouse when I was growing up, but they often told me that they were.  I am so appreciative of that.  I know that some of our students' parents are doing the same.  Regardless if they are or not, the students need to make the commitment now to pray for their future spouse.  So we talked about what not to pray for and what to pray for.
What not to pray for:
-A specific person.  Don't do it!  You will be glad someday when you walk through Wal-Mart and see that person and realize that you are blessed even more with who God gave you!
-A specific look.  Don't be so shallow.  The students laughed at this thought but we know ever girl dreams of a dark, tall, handsome man and all guys dream of a wife with smoking hot body.  Don't pray for that.
-A specific income.  Again don't be shallow.
-Anything else unreasonable
What to pray for:
-Their heart to be for Jesus.  Pray that they are a Christ follower and that Jesus is Lord of their life and not simply a hobby.
-Their growth in Jesus Christ.  Pray that they are seeking God in order to become the man or woman that He created them to be.
-Protection against temptation and evil.  Pray that they are strong to remain pure.  Pray for their safety against attacks from the evil one.  Pray for their strength to overcome any temptations.
-Patience and contentment in the preparation time.  I will share more in this area next week.  But students need to think about this time of life as a preparation time for their future marriage.  They need to pray that their future spouse will be content as they wait until the time that God places them to meet each other.  

We ended the night with some application to this.  I had the students spend a few minutes in prayer to process this thought and ask God to show them the things that he wants them to be praying about.  Then when they were ready they got a sheet of paper and pen and wrote out a prayer.  I closed by challenging them to make this a part of their daily walk with Jesus.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reminder Man Blooper Video

One of our students Christopher really did a great job on the hilarious Reminder Man videos we showed during our recent series.  He also put together this blooper video which showed some of the funny outtakes.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Silly Little Love Songs- Part 1

This week at WNW we began a new series on relationships called "Silly Little Love Songs".  Each week we will be taking an old cheesy love song and talking about the lyrics.  We will of course laugh at some of the silly lyrics, but then we will take something and apply biblical truth to it.  We began the night with a worship set that included "Starry Night" (Chris August), "Sweetly Broken" (Jeremy Riddle), "How Great is Our God" (Chris Tomlin), and "How He Loves" (McMillan/Crowder).  Then we drove straight into the message.

I began with an intro into the series talking about how we are all impacted by media whether it be music, television, or movies.  Sometimes people get their ideas of what love is like based on what they take in from the media.  C.S. Lewis said "If our minds are all full of novels and plays and sentimental love songs, we shall turn any love or emotion we fell into that kind of love, just as you have a rut in your path all the rain water will run into the rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue.  But that will be your fault."  This is a bold statement but is definitely true.  If we fill our minds with these things then we will in turn view our relationships the way we see them in the movies and songs, but it will be our fault.  Instead we must look through the lens of the Bible in order to have a correct view of how relationships are intended to be.

Over the course of this series we are going to be looking at some of the Biblical qualities of a godly marriage.  If you see what the end product should look like (a Biblical marriage), then it should guide your steps to get there.  I told the students that they are all a long way from marriage, and that they more than likely do not even know the person they they will marry.  However it is important now to be thinking about the future and not only thinking about the right here and now.  I want the students to discover in this series who they want to be as a husband or wife someday and begin now working toward becoming that.  Also they will see what they should look for in a spouse when the time is right.

I talked about how in the "Reminders" series I talked about how sometimes we do crazy things for the person we love.  Then when you get older and look back at your teenage years you realize you probably did something completely student for the person you definitely did not marry.  Well the example this week is one of those instances.  The song for the week was "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams.  But we didn't just listen to the song, we watch this video of a guy expressing his love for a girl.  There was a lot of good laughs.  There are two lyrics that I pointed out.  First of all "everything I do, I do it for you".  If this is the way someone lives their life then they have made the person an idol in their life and are not making Jesus their Lord.  But our main focus of the night came from the lyric "I'd lie for you".  How silly is that?  Honesty is such an important aspect in any relationship, especially marriage.

We all know that a lie is a false statement used to deceive someone.  If someone would lie for you then they would also lie to you.  When in a relationship you need to ask yourself if the person has a pattern of dishonestly.  Do they lie to their teachers, friends, and parents?  If so then they will lie to you.  If this is a common pattern in their lives then it will more than likely continue.  Think about Abraham and Sarah.  He lied about Sarah not once but twice.  His lie was that he did not tell them that Sarah was his wife.  He instead said that Sarah was his sister.  Well she was his half-sister, but he withheld the information that she was also his wife.  Withholding the truth is also a lie.  Sometimes people disagree with this statement because they think that what someone does not know will not hurt them.  However when we withhold the truth, we do so in order to deceive the other person.  This makes it a lie.  And yes it can hurt the other person we learned in the Scripture for the night.

We read the story of Samson and Delilah in Judges 16:4-21.  Delilah was offered 1100 pieces of silver from each ruler of the Pharisees to find out the secret to Samson's strength.  There were 5 Pharisee rulers which would make the offer a total of 5500 pieces of silver.  This would have been about 140 pounds of silver and what I was later told is that this would have been equivalent to over $50,000 today.  Quite a large sum of money for this bit of information.  So we see three times that Samson tells her something that would take away his strength but it did not.  So Delilah nagged him continuously to the point of death.  She made it appear that they could never truly love each other if they kept secrets.  Yet she was the one withholding the truth.  She never really told Samson why she wanted to know his secret.  Then foolishly Samson gives in and tells her the truth.  The fact that she withheld this information to deceive Samson led to his destruction.  

So we start to get the idea that honesty is incredibly important in a relationship.  If honesty is not there it leads to trust issues.  When we began a relationship we want to get to know everything about that person and we want them to know all about us.  We are completely honest about everything in the beginning until it leads to a point where we feel vulnerable.  At this point we go from being transparent and become more concerned with pain avoidance.  We begin to withhold some information in order to avoid the pain.  We know that if they know the truth then it will hurt.  We have to get beyond this and stop withholding the truth.  It will be painful, but the pain can be redeemed by God.  It is through these growing pains that God shapes us into who He wants us to be.  

I used an example of an iceberg at this point to demonstrate the levels that we hide in our lives.  In an iceberg the part that is visual is never a danger to a ship, but what is beneath the surface is the most dangers.  We imagine that the part above the water symbolizes our image.  This is what everyone sees about us:  grades, sports, hobbies, aspirations, how people perceives us, our reputation.  We work extremely hard in the image area because we want people to see us a specific way.  Then we go a little below the surface and that is where we let our close friends in.  We are a little vulnerable at this point allowing them to know more of the truth of our lives.  Then if you go to the bottom of the surface it is the deep, hidden truth of our lives.  This is the area we do not want anyone to know about.  We work tirelessly on our image so that nobody ever sees the deep hidden truth.  Sometimes we even try to hide it from God.  But it is God's desire for us to live our lives with no secrets.  We can't keep our past from God and we should not keep it from those we are in a relationship with, especially our marriage.  We do not have an image issue, we instead have a heart issue.

In closing I made this statement:  "Telling the truth doesn't require a change of behavior; it requires a change of heart."  We have to deny ourselves of pride.  I challenged the students at this point to ask themselves if they are honest people.  Do they withhold the truth?  Are they in a relationship where the other person is often dishonest?  I challenged them to allow God to change their heart and make amends where necessary.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reminders- Part 4

This past week at WNW we wrapped up the "Reminders" series.  We opened with a worship set with "Marvelous Light" (Charlie Hall), "Cannons" (Phil Wickham), and "You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)" (Michael W. Smith).  We watched the final Reminder Man video then went into the message.

We wrapped up the series by looking at what a true friend looks like.  We had an open discussion about the qualities that we look for in friends like honesty, common interests, fun to be around, etc.  The most important part when thinking about friendships is the quality more than the quantity.  Jesus had hundreds of followers, but only 12 disciples, and within that group 3 close friends.  Sometimes we focus on having many friends, but should focus on having the right kind of friend, and being the right kind of friend as well.

In talking about those qualities we like in our friends, I said that the most important quality is love.  I don't necessarily mean a romantic love, but a friendly love which I will get to.  We read 2 John 1:5 where John gives them the reminder that we are to love one another.  We see where John had been taught this earlier in his life by Jesus in John 15:13.  Jesus says that the greatest way of showing love is by dying for them.  He demonstrated this by dying for us.  We may not need to necessarily show our love for our friends by dying for them, but we do need to show them this kind of love and point them to it.

We then read Mark 2:1-5 where the four men bring their paralytic friend to Jesus.  They saw that their friend had a great need.  The house was full but it didn't stop them.  They went on top of the house, dug through the roof and lowered him down to Jesus for healing.  Jesus told the man "you're sins are forgiven" which got the people flustered.  They knew that only God can forgive sins, but they were missing the reality that Jesus is God.  The man was in more need of spiritual healing that physical healing, but Jesus gave both.  The friends saw that this man was in great need and nothing would stop them from getting him to Jesus.  They could have waited until the house cleared out, or maybe waited for another day when hopefully Jesus would not be so busy.  Instead they went to extreme lengths to make sure their friend saw Jesus.  That is what a true friend is.  It is way more than getting along and having common interests.  While those things are definitely important, you have to ask yourself if this is the type of friend you are.  Do you point your friends to Jesus.  You are either pointing them to Jesus or to the world.  It can't be both.  The question also has to be asked "are your friends pointing you to Jesus or dragging you down".  We began the series by talking about how we are to give up everything in order to obtain the treasure that is Jesus Christ.  This may mean you have to deny yourselves of some friends.  It may mean that you have to separate yourself from certain people because you know they are bringing you down.  It does not mean that you turn your back on them.  You continue to pray for them and pray for opportunities to arise where you can share the gospel with them.  So ask yourself if you are being the friend that you need to be.

Here is the final video in the "Reminder Man" series.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reminders- Part 3

We continued in the "Reminders" series this week with Part 3- Why We Should Follow Rules".  We began the night with a set list that included:  "One Way" (Hillsong United), "Our God" (Chris Tomlin), "SMS-Shine" (David Crowder Band), and "Forever Reign" (Hillsong United).  After watching the third video in the "Reminder Man" series we went straight into the message.

I have had times in my life, and I am sure you have to, where I knew there was something I was supposed to do or not do because I had been instructed or because there were rules or laws telling me so, but I did not want to follow it.  It is in these times that I think what I want to do is better than what is required of me.  We all face this from time to time whether it is instructions or rules from parents, teachers, the government, employer, etc.  We think we know what is best instead of trusting the authority over us.  This becomes a real problem if we decide to do what we want to instead.  None of us like rules, but it is necessary for us to not only follow them, but understand their purpose.  Now I don't want anyone reading this, and I gave this same warning last night, to think that I am talking about legalism (following rules to earn salvation and God's love).  I am talking about obedience to God because we love Him.  This may all seem silly, but is another thing that I think we all as Christians need to be reminded of.

We looked at Proverbs 19:20 which lets us know that we are instructed in order to help us be wise the rest of our life.  By following rules it helps us out later on in life.  When helping with the ONTRAC abstinence program in the schools, we tell the students that the decisions make today will face you later on in life.  This is the same with following rules.  Rules and laws were created for the following:
-Establish Boundaries/Restraint- rules help us form boundaries which we are all in need of.
-Keep us from harm- rules help keep us safe.  While we may not like speed zone laws, they are there to keep us from harm.
-Help us grow and become who God created us to be- we become disciplined as we follow rules.

So after we talked about the purpose of rules, we then talked about our responsibility.  Of course our responsibility is to be obedient, but why?  We looked at Romans 13:1-5 to gain a better perspective.  Verse 1 says we are to "be in subjection".  The words used here are that of a soldier's absolute obedience to his superior officer.  The same verse goes on to say that "there is no authority except from God".  This means that all authority in the form of rules and laws have come from God.  It also means that He is the One who has authority over all.  Then to take it a step further it also means that everyone in authority has been placed by Him.  That is definitely something we do not like to think about because we do not like some leaders and elected officials but it is true.  Verse 2 talks about how if you oppose those in authority then you are opposing God.  In other words if you break laws and rules and are disobedient to others then you are being disobedient to God.  We have to understand where is Paul is coming from in writing this for it to make even better sense.  At this moment Paul was under the Roman government and specifically under Nero who was probably the most evil of all Roman emperors.  However Paul still recognizes the government rule over him.  Verse 5 tells us that we should follow rules/laws not only to avoid punishment and to stay out of trouble, but out of obligation to God and to keep a clear conscience.

So you are probably thinking at this point- "What if the rule/law is immoral and opposed to God?"  If it contradicts God's Word then we are not to follow it.  Good examples of this are in the life of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They followed God because it was the right thing to do.  However for most of us, this is something we do not face.  It does happen in the world, but for us, it isn't anything that we normally face.

The problem lies when we pick and choose which rules to follow and which ones to ignore.  It disturbs me greatly to hear a professing Christian to talk about those rules that they ignore, even if it is as simple as following the school dress code.  There is nothing in Scripture that says anything like we can earn a right to pick and choose what we follow.  It simply is a worldly thought.  When we pick and choose what to follow it is because we are still mostly concerned about what we can get out of life instead of focusing on giving our life for God, the One who gave us life in the first place.

We ended by reading 1 John 5:3.  John tells us that we show our love for God by obeying His commandments.  It also lays things out beautifully after that.  John goes on to say that our obedience to Him is not burdensome.  We all deal with things in life that burden us and weigh us down from time to time.  But obedience to God is nothing close to a burden because in it we find rest in Him.  Yes there will be times when it is hard, times when you are tired, and times when you deal with tough situations but serving Him will never be a burden.  If it has become a burden, then you are not being obedient to Him, but instead are serving yourself so that you look good on the outside.

So we closed the night with a moment of reflection and decision.  I asked the students to ask God to search their hearts and ask themselves if they are picking or choosing rules to follow.  I asked them to consider if they obey God as an act of worship to Him.  It was a great night in all and I believe that God truly worked in our hearts.  After packing sack-packs we had a brief meeting with the students who registered for MFuge this summer.  I challenged them to really be in prayer starting now about what all God will do this summer.  We are about 120 days away and it will be here before we know it.  Here is the third video in the "Reminder Man" series for you to enjoy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

30 Hour Famine 2013

A couple of weeks ago we participated in the World Vision 30 Hour Famine for the 5th year.  I began to wonder going into this year if this had run its course, but the more I considered it the more I was convicted that we must do this.  This is fulfilling James 1:27 and we must continue on.  The students responded this year greatly!  Our goal going into this weekend was to raise $1000.  Well they laughed at that goal and raised $3615.14!  This will feed 10 children for an entire year!  I am so proud of our students for stepping up this way.  They not only raised money, but their own awareness was raised to the terribly horrific fact that a child dies every 13 seconds from hunger and hunger related diseases.

There were a couple of highlights from the weekend that really stand out in my mind.  The first was that after we had been gathered together for nearly 3 hours we took a walk to our church's cemetery.  There are currently 677 graves in the cemetery.  We took a moment to think about the fact that during the short 3 hours we had been together that more than this many people had died due to hunger related diseases.  This definitely put a visual to the numbers we had been discussing.

The other moment that stands out was that each Wednesday we put together sack-packs to send home with some students at our local school who maybe do not get to eat on the weekends.  While we were hungry during the fast, we packed the next week's sack packs.  It was a humbling reminder of how hunger is real and close by.  The students were even making comments about how the items we were packing looked good.  We packed double the amount usual and I had the students hold the second pack in their hands and look at it.  Then I told them that this would be the meal they eat to end the fast.  The cool thing is that there was no complaint that it wasn't a greater meal.  Instead that moment there was gratitude and it was apparent in their reaction.  

This was simply an amazing weekend.  I am so proud of our students and the difference that they are making not only globally, but locally as well as we strive to end hunger.  I think my favorite quote from the weekend was spoken at our final discussion time by Shane: "Hunger is real, and it exists only a block away."

Please take the time to watch this video that shows not only a small portion of the fun times we had together, but student testimonies about why they did this and how they were feeling through the process.