Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Threads- Part 3

Last week at Wednesday Night Worship we wrapped up the "Threads" series.  We began the night by splitting into groups so groups could discuss the following "Would You Rather" scenario. Students discussed whether they would rather 1) Give tragic news to a friend, or 2) Confront a friend about something that they were doing wrong.  Most students discussed that they would rather confront a friend than tell them tragic news.  We then went into a worship set that included "This Is Amazing Grace" (Phil Wickham), "Because You Are I Am" (Opposite Way Student Band), and "Hosanna" (Hillsong United).

After a brief review of the previous weeks of the "Threads" series we began discussing the topic for the night.  I referred to the opening "Would You Rather" scenario because we all need friends in our life who loves us and cares for us enough to confront us when we are doing wrong.  It might not be what we want to hear, but when it is something we need to hear it will help us grow.

We read 2 Samuel 1-7, 13, but I first gave the backstory of 2 Samuel 11.  I shared that David, who should have been at war, was on the roof of his house.  While on the roof he spotted Bathsheba taking a bath.  He had her brought to him where he slept with her and she ended up pregnant.  He then brought Bathsheba's husband Uriah home from war.  He tried multiple times to try to trick him to going home so he would sleep with Bathsheba and would think that he was the father, but Uriah would not go home out of respect.  Finally David sent Uriah back to war with a letter for his leader saying to put Uriah at the front lines of the battle and when the fighting is fiercest to withdraw which would allow Uriah to be killed.  So David is not where he is supposed to be, lusts then commits sexual sin with Bathsheba.  He then tries to trick Uriah and eventually has him murdered.

In 2 Samuel 1-7 we read where Nathan confronts David.  They already had a relationship and it is important to note that in verse 1 that "the Lord sent Nathan" to confront David.  The confrontation opens David's eyes to his sin, he is convicted, repents and worships God.  David still suffered the consequences of his sin.  However the confrontation turned David's eyes back to God.  What if Nathan had kept quiet?  What would have come of David's life?  We all need someone like Nathan in our life.  We need someone who will walk with us, we can trust them, and they must walk with the Lord.  We need people in our life who will not simply say what we want to hear, but will say what we need to hear.  We need this type of person who will point us to Jesus.  We closed the night in prayer asking God to provide this person for us if we do not already have someone like this.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Threads- Part 2

Last week at WNW was part 2 in the "Threads" series focusing on our friendships.  We began with a worship set that included:  "God's Not Dead" (Newsboys), "Marvelous Light" (Charlie Hall), and "Scandal of Grace" (Hillsong United).

I did a brief review of the previous week and encouraged the students to continue to thinking about the friends they are surrounding themselves with.  We looked once again at Proverbs 13:20 to think about wise friends vs foolish friends.  Early in youth ministry when students would come to talk to me about different things they were facing I always felt like I had to have the answer for them.  While at times I will have words of encouragement and even correction, the main thing I learned is that they simply needed someone to listen to them.  We looked at James 1:19 that tells us to be "quick to hear."  We all need someone in our life who cares enough about us to listen to us when we need them.  We need someone who is wise enough to "be present" when we need to talk and not simply waiting on their turn to speak.  We all have had conversations with someone who is obviously not hearing what we are actually saying.  This can be extremely frustrating.  

When thinking about having a friend who will be there to listen to us when we need them, it is extremely important that they have a close walk with God.  If they are not walking with God, how could we expect them to listen to us and be there for us when we need them to be?  The problem can sometimes lie in that we cannot force anyone to be we we need them to be.  So what do we do?  We must realize that in order to have the right kind of friend, we must first be the right kind of friend.  If we want someone to listen to us, we must be willing to listen.  First, to God (Psalm 46:10) and also to others.

I know in my own life I am extremely grateful to close friends who have been willing to listen to me when I needed to talk whether it was share my struggles, what I am seeking God about, my frustrations, etc.  I am thankful that God has placed these people in my own life and want to be that to them as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Threads- Part 1

Last week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a new series called "Threads" focusing on the friends we need in our lives.  We began with a worship set that included "Everlasting God" (Lincoln Brewster), "Running Home" (They Came Running), and "One Thing Remains" (Kristian Stanfill).  I then explained that this series will focus on our friends.  I grabbed a spool of thread and showed how 1 single thread breaks easily, however when combined with several it becomes stronger.  True life change happens best in the context of community as we are surrounded by other Christians who are godly influences.  The friends in your life will have the greatest influence on you.  Andy Stanley said "Your friends will determine the quality and direction of your life."  Some of the most heartbreaking moments I have experienced in youth ministry have been when I see a student who takes a different path in life due to a friend's negative influence.  A couple of questions I asked the students to consider:  1) What are the qualities I look for in a friend? and 2) Do your friends have godly, biblical characteristics?

We looked at Proverbs 13:20 and I gave some background on Solomon and his wisdom.  This verse gives us a promise and a warning.  The promise is that wisdom is contagious.  A good definition of wisdom is the ability to discern and know the difference between right and wrong, and actually doing it.  Knowledge does not equal wisdom.  When we surround ourselves with wise people then it is contagious.  If we subject ourselves to wisdom then we will also become wise.

The warning is that if we surround ourselves with fools that we will suffer harm.  A fool can be defined as someone who knows the difference between right and wrong but does not care.  I believe there are two ways that you may suffer harm if you surround yourself with fools:
1) You will begin to mimic their foolish ways.  You will talk, think, and act like them.
2) When the fools life explodes, and it will explode, you will get hit by the shrapnel of the situation.  You will get hurt when their life falls apart.  You will experience the negative effects of their hitting rock bottom.

You must be careful who you allow in your inner circle of friends because it will be either positive or detrimental.  I was very intentional to make sure the students heard me on this.  I wanted them to be sure they did not hear me incorrectly and believe that they are to completely turn their back on these people.  Instead we need to love them, pray for them, serve them, and point them to Jesus.  However, you must distance yourself from them.

We closed in a time of prayer.  I asked the students to think about their inner circle of friends and to consider if they have godly characteristics.  I asked them to consider what kind of influence their friends are having on them.  It is at this point in a student's life that their path can be drastically changed by turning just a few degrees away from Jesus.