Thursday, May 30, 2013

Younite 2013 Promo Night

This week at WNW we took the time to promote our local summer camp called Younite.  We began the night with a medley of songs from previous years at Younite:  "All That Matters" (Addison Road), "Running to You" (Newsboys), and "Good To Be Alive" (Jason Gray).  We also sang from last year "Forever Reign" (Hillsong) and "The King Is Coming" (Newsboys).  During our prayer time we focused again on our upcoming MFUGE camp and prayed for our own hearts to be changed during this week.  After the last song we showed last year's Younite video.

I shared a little history of Younite.  It is crazy to believe this is the fifth year!  I shared how God had led us to Nashville for MFUGE summer 2008 to gain the perspective that people close to home need to be served as well.  While there God stirred in me the dream and vision to do the same thing in Athens.  It was there that Younite became a dream of mine.  I wanted the name of the camp to revolve around unity as I see disunity in the church as one of the greatest deterrents of people coming to Christ.  I also felt that unity was something that was greatly lacking in the youth ministry at the time.  So we decided on the title "Younite" and began using the phrase "Unity Begins With You".  I then went through each year talking about the theme, showing the logo, and talking about the projects we did.

To get to this year's Younite theme, we opened our Bibles to Deuteronomy 31:8 which will be this year's theme verse.  In this moment, Moses is commissioning Joshua to soon take over as the new leader of the Israelites.  Moses is about to die right before they enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience in Numbers 20.  He is boldly giving these instructions to Joshua that he has nothing to fear.  The thing is, we all have fears whether it be heights, darkness, snakes, bugs, etc.  However there are greater fears that we all face such as fears in times of uncertainty, doubt that we are good enough, fear that God will stop loving us.  We know the truth around these but sometimes we still have fears.  While most people would agree that the opposite of fear is courage, my opinion is that the opposite of fear is belief.  When we believe in the One who says He will be with us through it all, He will go ahead of us on the journey, He will never leave us, then fear is eliminated.  So this year's theme is going to be called "I Believe" based on Deuteronomy 31:8 and the song "I Believe" by Jason Castro.  When we see how Moses spoke to Joshua was such confidence, we have to wonder how he got to this point in life.  So we are going to look at the life of Moses and the things he experienced to get to this point of believing this with his all of his heart.

The kickoff for Younite will take place at WNW July 24th at 6:30.  This is going to be an exciting night where we get ready for what God is going to do in us and through us during this camp.  Students will stay the night in homes Wednesday through Sunday.  Each morning they will come to the youth house from their host home to eat breakfast, Bible study, and worship service.  They will then go and serve for 4-5 hours.  We are currently working on this year's project.  Afterward each day they will clean up and rest a bit before coming back to the youth house to eat dinner and have our nightly worship service.  After that there will be a nightly fun activity.  Sunday after church everyone will go home and crash!  The cost of this is only $40!  We calculated that it should cost each student around $175 but in order to make it as affordable as possible we have made it as low as we possibly can.  This $40 includes a t-shirt, another surprise item, all meals, etc.  It is due along with registration forms by July 7th.  I am also excited that my good friend Teddy Winter is coming back to be a part of Younite this year.  Please pray for us as we get ready for this week.  Pray for all details to line up according to His will.  Pray that God will use to have a great impact on this city and that He will move greatly in our own hearts.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stressed Out- Part 3

This week at WNW we wrapped up the "Stressed Out" series.  We opened the night with a quick competition.  I asked for volunteers who thought they could compete in an "endurance" type competition.  Two people jumped up and I told them that I was giving them a "really strong mint" and they would have to keep it in their mouth without chewing it or spitting it out.  Whoever could endure would win a gift card to our local coffee shop.  The truth was that they were getting bacon flavored mints.  They smelled awful.  However, even though it was disgusting they were both able to endure it and both will receive a gift card.  We then discussed the things that we face that stress us out and that we want to get over as fast as possible.  Some of the things listed were school, dentist appointment, eye doctor appointment, etc.  Afterward we went into a worship set that included "Marvelous Light" (Charlie Hall), "God Is Able" (Hillsong), and "Mighty To Save" (Hillsong United).

I began the message with a quick recap of the previous two weeks and a catch up of the chapters between where were were last week and this week.  We read Genesis 22:1-14 which is the famous story of when Abraham was tested by God on sacrificing his son Isaac.  This is an amazing story of faith for us to learn much.  However we focused mainly on the fact that the trip for Abraham would have been a 3 day journey.  Even though Abraham was following God, he had to be incredibly stressed during this period.  God had promised that he would be the father of nations and now was asking him to sacrifice his son.  Abraham probably wanted to get this over as quick as possible.  We all face these situations in life.  We face stressful seasons where we want to get it over as fast as possible because we do not like waiting.  So how do you deal with stress while waiting.  We looked at the following ways:
1)  Don't Wish It To Be Over
Easier said than done.  If we are enduring a stressful season we usually want it to be as soon as possible.  However Psalm 90:12 teaches us that life is short and precious and we should not wish our lives away.
2)  Ask The Right Questions
If this is a test from God then we need to ask the right questions such as "What can I learn?", "How can I grow?", and "How can God be glorified?"
3)  Know That You Are Not Alone
You never have to question during these seasons if you are waiting by yourself.  You may feel, or may actually be abandoned by the people in your life.  However God never leaves us and is there with us as we read in Deuteronomy 31:8.

The truth is we are all going to face stressful and difficult moments in life.  We must be sure that in the stressful times of waiting that we do not wish it to be over.  During that season we need to seek out what God is teaching us.  We can rest assured that we never have to go through anything alone in life.  That is definitely a reason to celebrate!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stressed Out- Part 2

We continued the "Stressed Out" series this week at WNW.  We opened up with a worship set including:  "Like A Lion" (Crowder), "Our God" (Tomlin), and "How He Loves" (Crowder).  For our prayer time we focused on praying for the people of Greenville that we will minister to this summer at Fuge.  We spent time praying that God will begin working in their hearts now to receive His Word through our ministry opportunities.

I began the message with a brief recap of the previous week.  We then discussed the things that had stressed the students out this week.  We had several responses such as test, school decisions, anticipation of certain upcoming events, etc.  We went through and eliminated the ones that are thing we can actually control.  We then began thinking about how sometimes we stress over things that we bring on ourselves, while other times we stress over situations that are beyond our control.

I took a moment to summarize the rest of chapter 12 that we did not cover the previous week, as well as chapter 13 and the beginning of 14.  I shared that in the beginning of chapter 14 is the first war in the Bible.  There is a 4-king alliance who has oppressed a 5-king alliance.  The 5-king alliance was forced to regularly pay money and good to the 4-king alliance.  After 12 years of this the 12-king alliance got tired of it and began to rebel.  The rebellion only lasted a year and the 4-king alliance fought back, seized goods from Sodom and Gomorrah, and captured Abraham's nephew Lot.  At this point Lot faced slavery, torture, and possibly even death.

We read Genesis 14:11-16; 19-20.  Someone, probably one of Lot's men, escapes and tells Abraham the terrible news that his nephew has been captured.  We do not read anything about the stress Abraham dealt with but we can safely assume there was some stress involved.  Abraham faced a situation that was beyond his control.  He did not bring on these circumstances himself.  However he did what he needed to do, which was take a group of men and defeat this 4-king alliance and rescue Lot.  After they achieve success, they praise God for what He has done.

So how do you deal with stressful situations that are beyond your control?  We looked at the following things to help in those times.
1)  Have a Positive Outlook
Abraham's courage came from past encounters he had with God.  When facing these situations, think about past times when God helped you through.  We do not get the sense that Abraham whined at all about the situation he faced.  You might not feel like having a positive attitude, but it definitely helps in moving forward.
2)  Trust God
Abraham only took 318 soldiers into battle.  He trusted that God would help him.  This does not mean that you can make stupid decisions, but have faith that God will guide you through it.
3)  Trust In The Outcome
Abraham had not guarantee of the outcome.  However he went in to battle because it was the right thing to do.  This time it worked out the way he wanted.  However we are not promised that the outcome will be what we want.  We can rest assured that God can make good of whatever the outcome turns out to be.  There are going to be plenty of times where things do not turn out the way we would choose, but we can know that God is still at work in those situations.
4)  Allow God To Lead Your Reaction
You should not react abruptly.  You should also not sit back without a plan.  Abraham allowed God to lead him to take action.  Sometimes God will lead you to take action in a situation when you do not want to and would rather sit back.  Other times God will lead you to remain still while He is at work.  Whatever the case may be, allow God to lead you how to react during these stressful time.

We closed in prayer asking God to help us when we are faced with situations beyond our control.  I prayed that if any of the students are currently in one of those seasons of life that they would remain positive, trust God and the outcome, and to allow Him to lead their reactions.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stressed Out- Part 1

This week at WNW we began a new series called "Stressed Out".  For a few weeks we are going to look at the stress we face and how to deal with it while looking at the life of Abraham.  We began the night by playing a round of Deal or No Deal and Philip won the top prize which was $20 off his MFUGE cost.  We then took a few minutes with them split in groups of guys and girls and they made out a list of all the things that stress them out. We wrote several on a dry erase board which included:  tests, parents, sports, relationships, drama, hygiene (still confused by this one), etc.  We then went into a worship set that included "Happy Day" (Tim Hughes), and "Sweetly Broken" (Jeremy Riddle).  Our prayer time we focused on our upcoming MFUGE trip and specifically on the work that God will do in the hearts of our students, and the unreached people group Karamajong of Uganda, that part of our missions offering will send people to share the gospel to.

I began the message talking about good stress vs bad stress.  Distress is the bad stress we usually focus on that is destructive.  Eustress is good stress that challenges us toward greater fulfillment and improves us.  We took the dry erase board that we had written the things that stress the students out and decided if each one was distress or eustress.  There were a few that we concluded were both.  I transitioned by saying that our focus for the night is going to be on eustress in the form of high expectations.  We discussed some of the expectations that they have and why they are actually good for them.

We read Genesis 12:1-3 where we see Abram (who later becomes Abraham) and the covenant that God makes with him. A covenant is a promise and these verses include a pretty great promise from God.  We discover that God has a pretty huge calling for Abram's life.  We listed the "I will" statements from these verse:  show you the land, make you a great nation, bless you, make your name great, you shall be a blessing, bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you, and in you all families will be blessed.  So how do you think these high expectations made Abram feel?  It is very possible that he was stressed out a little bit by it, but it was a good stress.  Sometimes when we think about God's calling on our lives is can be stressful, but it is a good stress.  I laid out 6 things to think about to help deal with the stress of God's calling on your life.
1)  Know the 1st Calling- Be a Christ Follower
If you are not saved, then no other calling from God even matters yet.  Verse 1 says the "Lord said to Abraham".  If you do not have a relationship with Christ, then you cannot hear what he says to you.
2)  Be Open to Whatever His Call May Be
Do not limit God to what you want to do.  In verse 1 God calls Abram to leave his country and his family.  What if Abram had tried to make a deal to uphold part of the agreement but not leave his country and family?  You can't put limitations on what God is calling you to do.
3)  Be Confident that God Will Show You The Details
It is pretty amazing the details that God gives Abraham.  We can be confident that God will show us the details of what He wants us to do as well.
4)  Be Confident God Will Speak In The Right Time
If you read ahead to verse 4 you see that Abram was 75 years old.  God may reveal what He is calling you to do right now, but He may reveal it later.  He will reveal it in His perfect timing.
5)  God's Call Isn't Simply About Your Vocation
Sometimes we stress about what God is calling us to do vocationally but it goes way beyond that.  While our vocation is part of God's calling on our life, the question has to be asked what is calling me to do today as school.  What is he calling me to do with my time at home.
6)  Instead of seeking the answer to "What does God want me to do?"-- Seek God
Sometimes we get so stressed and wrapped up in trying to figure out the details that we stop seeking God Himself.  If we back up and simply seek God, then everything falls into place and God makes Himself known to us.

I closed by encouraging the students to not stress when it comes to God's calling on their lives.  It is an amazing privilege that God calls us to do His will.  We need to look at it as a good stress that is bettering us, leading others to Him, and bringing Him glory.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Instalife- Part 2

This week we wrapped up our 2-week series called "Instalife" at WNW.  We would have finished the previous week but I was out sick with the flu, and the students had a night where they shared about Disciple Now Weekend.  We began the night with a worship set that included "Song of Hope" (Robbie Seay Band), "Dry And Brittle" (They Came Running), and "You are Holy- Isaiah 6" (Christ For The Nations Music).

In this message we looked at the self-destructing tendency we all have which is jealousy.  We took some time discussing the ways that teenagers face jealousy today.  The first thing mentioned was dating relationships.  We discussed how teenagers become jealous when the person they like are dating someone else.  Students also mentioned that jealousy grows when people have things that they want such as cars, cell phones, iPods, and money in general.  We can become jealous on Instagram when we get concerned with the number of followers we have, a specific person who is not following us, the number of likes we get on a picture, and the things that others show off.

We talked about how there are 2 types of jealousy, one good and the other bad.  
1)  Godly Jealousy - Exodus 34:14
Moses had been on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments.  While he was gone the Israelites had one of their less awesome moments and decided to make a golden calf and worship it.  The response if a reflection of the very first commandment in that there should be no other gods in our life except the One True God.  God wants us to seek a relationship with Him.  When we stop to consider how incredible that really is, then how could we not seek Him.
2)  Earthly Jealousy - James 3:13-18
This is the jealousy that we all deal with from time to time.  This jealousy stems from selfishness within us.  According to verse 15 it is actually demonic.  If we look at the original language used in verse 16 with "every evil thing" it literally means "every worthless (vile) work".  In other words this jealousy is simply for our own glory as opposed to bringing God glory.

So what are the dangers of jealousy?  I believe first of all that it creates division.  If you continue reading into James 4 he address conflicts and quarrels.  If you continue to grow jealous of someone then eventually you will be against them, for no reason at all.  Secondly, jealousy leads you to idol worship.  Just as the Israelites bowed down before the golden calf, we bow down to the things we want.  If we grow jealous in wanting something it will become all that we think about and cause us to take our eyes off of Jesus.  Finally jealousy will cause you to lower your standards.  This is especially true when it comes to dating relationships as the students had discussed previously in the night.  Sometimes you grow jealous of wanting to date someone so badly that you end up making the poor decision to date someone you should not.  

So how do you defeat jealousy?  I believe the answer lies a few verses further in James 4:7-8.  We are to submit to God and resist the devil.  We are to draw near to God because then He will draw near to us.  We do not have to question or wonder if He will because Scripture says that He will draw near to us.  The problem lies when we place a time frame on God.  How silly for us to place a time limit on the very same God who has created us and the universe.  Sometimes I believe that God wants us to reach a little farther, and draw even nearer to Him and so He remains silent for us to do that.  However He is still right there waiting on us.

So we closed with a time for the students to search their hearts and see where they have allowed jealousy to creep in their lives.  I challenged them to discover it and get rid of it.  The truth is God may or may not give us what we want.  If He does not then I believe that He has something greater in store.  The truth is God does not owe us anything.  However He has given us Himself which is everything.  When we realize that and grow content in Him alone, then jealousy disappears and we grow as we are intended to.