Thursday, November 5, 2015

Back to the Future- Part 3

This week at Wednesday Night Worship was part 3 of the "Back to the Future" series.  We opened the night with the student band leading us in a worship set of "With Us" (Hillsong), "Need You Now" (Plumb), and "Cornerstone" (Hillsong).  I began the message by talking about how in the 2nd Back to the Future movie Doc told Marty to not do anything while they were in the future. Marty didn't listen and bought the Sport's Almanac, which Biff ended up stealing, taking back to this younger self in the past, and causing a major change in history.  The point to see here that is Marty's actions not only impacted himself, but everyone else as well.  The same is true for us (except without the time travel).  Our sinful choices will not only impact us, but others as well.

We looked at Joshua 7 where Achan disobeyed God's instruction and kept for himself some of the gold and silver.  Because of Achan's sin, the Israelite army was defeated at Ai, a battle that they should have easily won.  After Joshua mourns, God tells him that because of sin they have all suffered these consequences.  Joshua discovers that it is Achan who has disobeyed God.  The result is that they end up stoning Achan along with his family and then burning them.  This all seems harsh, but the reality is that sin leads to death.

Achan may have thought that his disobedience would only impact him but he was wrong.  Our disobedience against God will always have an impact on others.  Achan's sins impacted 2 groups of people:
1) His family- They may or may not have been co-conspirators. Either way, Achan's sins led to their death.
2) The Israelite Soldiers and they Families- 36 soldiers died in the battle of Ai leaving behind family members.  They should have won this battle no problems.  However, because of Achan's sins, these soldiers died leaving their families behind to grieve their loss.

Even if you try to conceal your sin, which Achan did, it will have an impact on others.  It will impact your family, friends, church, etc.  It's always easy when looking at this passage to think about other people whose poor choices have had a negative impact on you.  However, we must look in the mirror at ourselves.  What sin choices are we making that is  having a negative impact on you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Back to the Future- Part 2

This week at WNW was the second message of the "Back to the Future" series.  We opened with a worship set that included "This Is Amazing Grace" (Phil Wickham), "Sinking Deep" (Hillsong Young & Free), and "Touch the Sky" (Hillsong United).  I shared that while last week we focused on our past, this week we were focusing on our future.  It is easy for us to think that the decisions we make only impact us in the present.  The reality is that all of our decisions, good or bad, sinful or God honoring, will impact us and have consequences on our future.  I made reference to Romans 6:1-2 that lets us know that when we are saved that we cannot continue to live our lives in sin and live the way we want to.  We then read Galatians 6:6-10.  Paul tells us that we will reap what we sow.  If we live a life that is sinful and goes against God's desires then it will bring us corruption and destruction in our lives.  However if we make godly choices then we will reap the benefits.  We do not follow God in order to receive blessings, but we follow Him because of His love for us.  I challenged the students to think beyond the present and think about the future.  The decisions we make today will impact us later on.  We closed with a time of prayer asking God to reveal to us the path that we are on.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Back to the Future- Part 1

Last week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a new series called "Back to the Future."  The Wednesday was October 21, 2015 which is the date that Marty McFly and Doc Brown go to the future in the famous movie.  We opened with a worship set that included "You Are The Fire" (Dustin Smith), "Mighty Warrior" (Elevation Worship), and "Oceans" (Hillsong United).

I opened the message by explaining a little bit about the Back to the Future movies and how they have always intrigued me.  Everything that happened in the past impacted their future.  The same is true for us.  In the movie they had to go back in time and "fix" things in order to have a better future.  We all have moments, decisions, actions in our lives that we regret.  We cannot go back in time to change our past actions.  So what do we do?  We looked at 1 John 1:9 about forgiveness. I talked about true confession of sins and how God is faithful to forgive us.  When we have been forgiven we have a responsibility.  First of all we must forgive others who have hurt us.  In addition, we should forgive ourselves in order to move forward.  If God is faithful to forgive our sins, this include forgiving the guilt of our sins.  Sometimes it can be hard to let go of our past, but is necessary in order to move forward.  We then closed with a time of reflection with the song "Once and For All" (Lauren Daigle).

Monday, October 5, 2015

What Now?- Part 3

This past week at WNW was week 3 of the "What Now?" series.  We opened with a worship set that included "The Way" (Brett Younker), "Always" (Kristian Stanfill), and "Set A Fire" (Will Reagan).  I opened the message sharing a story about a season of life where I wasn't quite sure what to do as I found myself somewhat lost.  Some things in life had turned out quite differently than I expected and it was really hard.  We all face these seasons of life at some point where things change and different than before.  We find ourselves in a similar season as a church as our senior pastor recently resigned.  So what do we do now? We certainly don't fall back, concede, or give up in any way.  We rejoice in what God is doing in the life of our church.  But we must ask ourselves what our responsibility is in going forward.

We looked at Acts 1:15-26 continuing from the passage we read the week before.  In this mom Peter is telling them that they must replace Judas who had betrayed Jesus and died.  There was a lot to cover in this passage from prophecy to what it meant that they drew lots.  However, the main point we focused on was in verse 24 "they prayed."  They prayed that God would let them know who was to replace Judas.  To be honest, this change at Clearwater has little effect on our students, but it does not take away their responsibility.  We must pray for our church, for our leadership, for each other, and for our pastor that God reveal in the right time.  So that is exactly what we did.  We closed by spending a few minutes praying for these matters.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What Now?- Part 2

This week was part 2 of our "What Now?" series.  We began with a worship set that included "Need You Now" (Plumb), "How Can It Be" (Lauren Daigle), and "Touch The Sky" (Hillsong United).  I began the message talking about what do you do when you have experienced a great season of life?  What do you do then?  As a student ministry we have experienced a great time of spiritual growth among our students.  We have seen them grow closer together in a way we have prayed for.  So what do we do now?  The answer isn't the next big program because that accomplishes nothing.

We looked at Acts 1:9-14 to think about what do we do now as a youth ministry:
1) Stop Looking to the Past
While we must celebrate yesterday's victories, we cannot allow them to cloud our vision of the future.  The disciples had experienced an incredible season of life as they had spent time with Jesus and witnessed His death and resurrection.  They witnessed His ascension into heaven and two men asked why they are still looking into the sky.  They couldn't just stand there looking in the sky but had to move on into what lies ahead.

2) We Must Be United Together
Verse 14 tells us that they were constantly united together in prayer.  They had developed a habit of praying together.  They were together with the common purpose of pursuing Christ.  This meant they had to lay aside their differences in order to be united.

We closed with a time of prayer where I challenged the students to search their hearts to see where they needed to be obedient in this.  After a time of prayer we closed with a song of reflection "Set A Fire" (United Pursuit).

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Now? - Part 1

This week we kicked off our Wednesday Night Worship services for the Fall.  We began a new series called "What Now?" with the tagline "What to do when you don't know what to do."  We opened the night with a worship set including "This is Living" (Hillsong Young and Free), "Our God" (Chris Tomlin), and "Sinking Deep" (Hillsong Young and Free). 

I began the message talking about the new series and how we all face seasons where we don't know what to do.  With it being a new church year, we have many new faces in the student ministry who are in a new setting.  I explained that everything we do as a ministry is based out of the following three objectives:

As we all experience new settings and new seasons of life, it is easy for us to try to manipulate situations, circumstances, even people to try to gain the comfort that we think we deserve.  So what do we do in these moments?  We read Psalm 46:8-11 and looking at these thoughts:
1) Stop Trying To Be God
We often have a Messiah complex and try to fix everything.  We have to stop trying to be God and trust Him instead.
2) Stop Trying To Make Others Be God
At first we think we don't do this.  When we think that someone is supposed to do something for us to make us happy or comfortable then we raise them to the level of God whether or not we realize it or mean to.  A good indicator that we are trying to make others be God is if we are constantly disappointed in them and blame them for our problems.

When we are in a new setting/season of life we must trust God to be God.  We can rest in the fact that the God that verse 10 says "I will be exalted in all the earth" is the very same God that verse 11 says that He is with us.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Younite 2015

It's been a while since I've posted.  Here is a wrap-up video of this year's Younite, along with some extra scenes and outtakes!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What's Your Kryptonite- Part 2

This week at Wednesday Night Worship was part 2 of the "What's Your Kryptonite" series.  We began the night with a worship set that included "This Is Amazing Grace" (Phil Wickham), "The Lord Our God" (Kristian Stanfill), and "Hosanna" (Hillsong United).  We did the rest of the night differently than normal.  Rather than me presenting a message, we circled up and did more discussion.  The superhero we thought about this week was Thor and his weakness of pride and arrogance.  Pride of course is wanting the focus on you.  You want others to be impressed with who you are.  We then discussed the following points:

-Genesis 11:1-9 (Tower of Babel)  They tried to make a name for themselves so that everyone would look at them and see them as great.  We discussed the same ways that we do this in our lives today and how it can be dangerous.
-Proverbs 16:18 We discussed how pride can lead to destruction in our lives.  We talked about arrogance and how it leads us to treat others.

So how do we stop pride?
-John 3:26-30 We more more of Jesus and less of ourselves
-1 Corinthians 10:31 We do everything to honor God and not for ourselves
-Deuteronomy 8:1-15 We must remember all that God is and all that He has done for us.  If not then pride will come into our lives.

The best way to stop pride in our lives is to focus on what God has done for you.  We must take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on God.  It is always easier said than done, but we must begin with prayer, asking God to help us stay focused on Him and bringing Him honor rather than ourselves.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's Your Kryptonite- Part 1

After 2 weeks off for Spring Break and Revival, we were back to our regular Wednesday Night Worship Service.  We began the night with a worship set that included "God's Not Dead/Like A Lion" (Newsboys/Crowder), "Waiting Here For You" (Christy Nockels), and "God Is Able" (Hillsong Worship).  

I began the message talking about superheroes and how they all have weaknesses.  Superman's weakness is kryptonite.  The meteorite from his home planet causes his body to become weak.  The very thing that was true to who he is, is the very thing that can destroy him.  The same is true for us.  We all have areas of weakness that we struggle with.  These areas can be anger, pride, greed, lust, etc.  These areas that are true to our sin nature are the very thing that can be destructive in our own lives.  We played a quick few rounds of "Name That Superhero" where I showed small images that depicted a superhero and the students had to guess who it was and their weakness.  The final superhero was the Incredible Hulk.  We talked about his strength which is his anger is also his weakness.  We also must understand that anger can be destructive in our own lives.

We read Ephesians 4:26-32.  Paul is addressing the church at Ephesus to how as Christians we are to leave our former sinful selves behind and pursue holiness.  He addresses in these verses about anger and our words.  He first makes note that we should not sin when angry.  There are examples of righteous anger such as when we are angry at injustice, immorality, and all types of sin.  A righteous anger stems out of a love for God and His people, and leads us to positive action.  However, more often than not, anger drives us to sinful actions.  Paul says that we need to address our anger and not let it continue to grow as it will get out of hand.  He goes on to say not to give Satan an opportunity with our anger.  If we do not get it under control, Satan will seek the opportunity to make it grow hurting ourselves further, hurt others, and ultimately turn others away from Jesus.  Verse 29 is the famous verse that talks about building up others with your words rather than tear them down.  We are good at tearing others down with our words when we are discouraged.  When we do this our sin grieves the Holy Spirit as Paul talks about in verse 30.  

So what is the solution when we are dealing with anger?  Paul answers this question in verse 31 and tells us to put away all anger, bitterness, malice, slander, etc.  That is usually easier said than done.  However, he doesn't simply tell us to put away anger, but gives directions in how to.  He says to be kind to one another and to forgive.  It may be one thing to put away anger, but it takes it to another level when we realize we need to forgive.  It is never easy to do so, but we saw the ultimate example of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  The first step in healing of an anger problem is forgiveness.  Many people spend so much time hanging on to their anger that is grows and they grow more calloused.  We must stop giving so much of our thoughts to the situations/people that have hurt us and have led us to be angry.  If we stop focusing so much of our thoughts on it, then we will be in a position to forgive, which will ultimately bring healing and allow us to overcome our anger.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Love Is NOT An Open Door

I have been behind on blogging lately and want to post about the last Wednesday Night Worship series we did called "Love Is NOT An Open Door."  We talked about the relationship between Anna and Hans in the movie "Frozen."  After a short meeting they sing a song together about love being an open door.  I challenged the students throughout this series that their heart should not remain open to anyone at anytime.  Our heart is our most valuable possession and should not be opened freely to just anyone.  Here is a breakdown of the series:

Week 1- Love Does Not Happen Quickly
We looked at Song of Solomon 2:2-7 that talks about the beautiful relationship that is taking place between Solomon and his bride.  Then verse 7 lets us know that even though their love is a beautiful thing, it is something that cannot be rushed and must take time.  The message was to challenge students to not rush into a relationship.  Love takes time!

Week 2- Love Requires High Standards
Once again we looked at the life of King Solomon, this time in 1 Kings 11:1-8.  Though Solomon was the wise, he failed to utilize this wisdom in the latter years of his life.  He allowed his wives to turn his heart away from God.  This night I challenged the students to have to standards in who they date, as dating is preparation for marriage.  I used the quote from Pete Wilson "Marry them for who they are today, not for who you hope they will be tomorrow."

Week 3- Becoming the Right Person
Often married couples get asked the question "How did you know that your spouse was the one?"  Married people usually respond "You just know" which really doesn't help, even if it is the truth.  A question that is also asked is "How do you find the right person?"  We looked at Genesis 2:18-24 where God provides a helper to Adam by making Eve.  The word "helper" does not imply someone of inferiority.  Instead it is someone who helps the other become their best.  In verse 24 it says that you will "leave" your father and mother.  There are several points to make here, but the main one we focused on is that you have to leave your past self behind.  Instead of focusing on finding the right person, it is more important to focus on becoming the right person.  The right person who can be the helper that your future spouse needs.

Week 4- Sacrificial Love
As our last week before Easter, we focused on the One true love that we should leave our heart open to which is the love of Jesus.  We read John 15:12-13 that talks about the greatest love there is.  The verse is often used wrongly in talking about friendships.  However the Greek word "agape" is the word that is translated to love in verse 12.  This is a love that only God has for us.  This is a love that is so great that He was willing to sacrifice everything for the opportunity to have a relationship with us.  We closed the message and the series with a time of prayer focusing on whether or not we have opened our heart to worldly love, while closing it to the love of Jesus.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cycles- Part 4

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we wrapped up the 4-week series based on the book of Judges called cycles.  We opened with a time of worship with the song "Hosanna" (Hillsong United).  I then had Bailey read Ephesians 2:1-9 and had the students focus on the love of God for a few minutes.  We then went on to sing "One Thing Remains" (Kristian Stanfill), and "Scandal of Grace" (Hillsong United).

We began by once again reading Judges 21:25 as I summarized the purpose of this series.  We have to ask ourselves why we return to our past and repeat sin cycles like the Israelites.  As we read through Judges 2:11-19 I reviewed the past 2 reasons why we do this:  1) Lie to ourselves that we're ok; 2) We don't listen to godly leaders.  As we read verse 19 and see that the Israelites turned back to their previous life of sin, it is obvious that they did not learn from their past mistakes.  We sometimes look at Biblical examples from our past and fail to see that it could easily be our future.  If we do not properly deal with our past and learn from it then we are destined to repeat it.  I love the quote from Pete Wilson "Your past is not your past if it is still impacting your present."  However, we sometimes take comfort in our past failures, hurts, and sins.  We sometimes believe the lie that it is simply how we are and that there is no way we can change.  This is completely untrue though.  We must remember that God is far larger than our sin.  We again read Ephesians 2:1-9.  Verses 1-3 lay out a past filled with sin.  Then there is a turning point in verse 4 when it says "But God" and goes on to lay out His great love and mercy for us.  Though our sin sentenced us to death, God made a way for us to be alive through Jesus.  The truth is that God is bigger than our history and is more concerned with our destiny.  We closed with a time of prayer and examination.  I challenged the students that if they are continually returning to a life of sin that it doesn't have to be that way.  They can rest daily in the mercy that Jesus offers.  We ended by singing "How Can It Be" by Lauren Daigle.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cycles- Part 3

Last week was part 3 of the "Cycles" series.  We opened with a worship set that included:  "Relentless" (Hillsong United), "Oceans" (Hillsong United), and "Song of Hope" (Robbie Seay Band).  After a quick review we got into the message for the night.

We read Judges 2:11-19 that is an overview of the book of Judges.  We focused on verses 17 and 19 that tells us that they did not listen to the judges/leaders.  We have all been there.  We are told to do something, or not do something and we do the opposite.  We receive sound advice, but choose to follow our own desires instead.  The result is almost always one that leads to regret.  The Israelites did not listen to the judges and turned their back on God.  Verse 17 specifically says that "they played the harlot after other gods."  This is strong language but is necessary for us to see that any sin/disobedience of any type is spiritual adultery against God.

The point made to the students is this:  God has placed them under the influence of several godly leaders at our church.  Everything that is taught by Sunday School teachers and myself is under the direction from God.  It breaks our hearts to see when someone is lifting up ungodly people on a pedestal and seeking to follow them when it is obvious they are being led astray.  

We closed with a time of prayer and examination asking ourselves who are the voices that we are listening to.  If you are constantly returning to a cycle of sin then there is a good chance that it is because you have not listen to sound advice from godly people in your life.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cycles- Part 2

This week at WNW we continued the "Cycles" series.  We began the night with a worship set that included "This Is Amazing Grace" (Phil Wickham), "My Heart Is Yours" (Kristian Stanfill", and "Cornerstone" (Hillsong).  I began the message with a quick review of the previous week and a reminder that the book of Judges ends with an exclamation mark on how each cycle took the Israelites further away from God.  The question we examined this week and will again next week is "Why do we return to cycles of sin similar to the Israelites?"  There are several answers but we looked at one reason this week which is LIES.  Often when people ask us how we are doing we respond with the lie "I'm Ok" when inside we know it is far from the truth.  However, in thinking about returning to cycles of sin, I believe we convince ourselves of the lie that we're ok.  Self-deception is the most dangerous type of deception.  

When we look at the first cycle the Israelites go through in Judges 3:1-12 we see that it is as a result of some disobedience.  In order to fully understand we went back to Numbers 33:50-52 where God tells Moses instructions for the Israelites.  They were to enter into Canaan, and they were to drive out all the inhabitants.  This wasn't because God hated these people, but he knew that if the Israelites did not drive out all of the inhabitants that their idolatry would influence the Israelites.  He gave the commandment to enter Canaan and to drive out the inhabitants, but we read in Judges 1:27-34 that they did not do exactly what God commanded.  They entered the land, but they did not drive out all of the inhabitants.  This led them to be tested by God, and they failed the test which began a cycle of sin in the history of Israel.  When we examine our lives and we say to ourselves the lie "I'm Ok" we are much like the Israelites.  When we say "I'm Ok" we say that in some ways we were obedient but other ways we were not.  We begin to become content with a life of "Partial Obedience" which is truly "Disobedience."  This is why the Israelites cycled back to a life of sin, and it is the same reason we often do ourselves.  We closed by praying and examining our hearts to see if this is the pattern we are currently following.  I challenged the students that if they want to see spiritual growth occur in their lives that they must be willing to make a change.  They must decide to stop being ok a life of partial obedience.

Cycles- Part 1

I'm a week late in posting this but we began a new series on WNW January 14 called "Cycles" based on the book of Judges.  We opened the night with a worship set that included "Good To Be Alive" (Jason Gray), "Forever Reign" (Hillsong), and "The Lord Our God" (Kristian Stanfill).

I began the night asking the following question "If in 2015 you repeated your life from 2014, how would it turn out?"  It was interesting to hear the moanful reaction from some of the students because they knew the answer.  The truth is that no matter how good or bad 2014 was, if we repeat it then we are not growing in Christ.  We looked at the final verse in the book of Judges that concludes with the fact that the Israelites were living life completely for themselves.  How did they get to this sad stage in history?  It certainly did not happen overnight but over a period of time.  In fact the Israelites continued a cyclical lifestyle that each time took them further away from God.  The seven cycles in the book of Judges went like this:

-> Unfaithfulness to God -> Divine Discipline -> Crying Out/Repentance -> Deliverance Through Judges -> Peace ->

We read the first of these 7 cycles in Judges 3:1-12.  I then asked the opening question again:  "If in 2015 you repeated your life from 2014, how would it turn out?"  The truth is that it would turn out to be detrimental.  If your life is already out of control and you are living in sin then you will obviously continue down a road that leads you further away from God.  But what if you did have a pretty good year?  It would still be harmful.  We can never get to the point where we believe we have "arrived" in our Christian growth.  We should continually seek to grow closer to God.  We cannot look at the past and think that we have done good enough in our lives and stop.  We cannot live today on yesterday's accomplishments.  We closed with a time of prayer for students to commit this year to be a year of growth in the Lord.