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It has been a pleasure to serve the youth and their families at Vann Avenue Baptist Church. I am reminded of Pastor Eric’s 2010 New Year’s message when he challenged all of us to start something we cannot finish. Although I did not start the youth ministry at Vann, I do believe we helped give it some shape and meaning as we go and it continues. In fact, my purpose for this last post is to provide some encouragement and insight as the youth ministry continues in this transition period.
I am very thankful for Roger and Becky Seitz. As they continue to lead our youth in our Sunday school ministry, they begin teaching on the topic servanthood evangelism in the month of August. What a timely topic as the new school year approaches for our students. We also will be privileged to have Pastor Eric and Chastity spending some time with the youth during Sunday school during the month of August.
We also have a great team put together for the transition period on Sunday nights. The youth will be blessed to have Jason Elpers, Polly Todd, Jeff Wagner, and Tara Wagner serving and leading. Jason will be continuing with the topic of servanthood evangelism and challenging the students to apply this topic both corporately and individually in the areas God has placed them to display and share His love. They might even get to play Catch Phrase if Jeff has any say.
The youth will be starting a new series on Wednesday evenings (6PM-6:45PM) titled Don’t Waste Your Life. You won’t want to miss this night! Jeff and Tara Wagner will be leading through this series and challenging the youth to think about their lives and what a life not wasted looks like before God. “God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The WASTED LIFE is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.” I hope you will not waste your opportunity to be a part of this Wednesday night experience.
Well, this is it. The last post on this blog. It has been a privilege and I hope a benefit to you, as it has been for me, along this journey. I will be continuing to blog, but on a new one, with a different emphasis. I will be updating it soon and you can find it and follow it at thechroniclesofcarmel.wordpress.com.
Listen to this! I came back from the D3 Conference a few weeks ago explaining how I couldn’t wait for those at the college to make available Dr. Mohler’s message to the students. Well, it’s now available. I want to encourage you to take the time and listen. My hope and prayer is that every parent and student (youth) would understand the truth communicated from this talk. The topic of understanding God’s will for your and my life is not easy, however, there are some things God has been clear about. We don’t need to spend much time contemplating these but obeying. The text is Romans 12:1-2…
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Here is the audio and a brief sketch of the 15 points Dr. Mohler makes about the will of God that we already know (don’t be overwhelmed by 15!) Maybe jot down the 15 points, listen to audio, and enjoy.
15 Points, concerning God’s Will, that you need to know and actually already know. It is God’s will….
#1 For you to be born
#2 For you to die
#3 For you to grow
#4 For you to be made male or female
#5 For you to believe in Christ
#6 For you to follow Jesus as His disciple
#7 For you to trust and obey His word
#8 For you to obey authority
#9 For you to be married (must listen to message for explanation)
#10 For you to have children (Again, need to listen to message for context)
#11 For you to develop and use gifts
#12 For you to be highly invested and involved in local church
#13 For you to lead by example
#14 For you to share the gospel
#15 For you to do everything to the glory of God
Listen to the message and be ready to write down your own notes, so you can faithfully follow Christ and lead others to do the same.
God’s word instructs us “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, and perfect (Romans12:2).” I am thankful to have had the opportunity to serve around people, both students and adults, who have a passion for Jesus that involves learning His word and reading resources that help us obey Christ. Even in preparation for our departure, some students have requested a reading list to continue with even in our absence. One of the reasons it is a joy to do this, is because I know these particular students are not just trying to fill their heads up, but understand by filling their minds up they are faithfully obeying Paul’s words above to renew their minds which should lead to a walk that is faithful. To put it a negative way, if you are not renewing your mind with the word of God and other resources that help you in your walk with Christ, you very well might be conforming to this world.
A book written for this purpose is Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. This would be a great book to go through with some other followers of Christ who are honest and willing to admit where their lives have begun to look more like the pattern of this world rather than the Scriptures. This book helped me to see areas I had a tendency to conform and encouraged me in areas I needed to continue leading my family in.
I am also providing the last three messages from Alistair Begg in his series titled “Why Bother with the Bible?”. I know I enjoy downloading these and either listening to them in my car, on the treadmill or while I am cutting grass. They typically are no more than 30 minutes and the Truth for Life ministry has been very helpful to me and my walk with Christ for the last 9 years.
As I was meeting with some students recently, we discussed some topics that they believed are important for them to continue to learn about. One of those topics was the Bible and specifically how to understand what they are reading. The Bible is an amazing book that is easy enough for a five year old to understand but complex enough for an adult to continue digging in for a lifetime. How our young people learn to read their bibles now is critical to their continued and future growth. How would you respond? How have you responded to your kids? I make reference to one book that has been a help to me, and one that I have taken young people through in the past. The book is titled, Knowing Scripture, by R.C. Sproul. Dr. Sproul is someone I enjoy to read because he has a gift for taking the difficult and presenting it to us in a way that seems understandable. I am also uploading three messages of a six-part series by Alistair Begg titled “Why Bother with the Bible?” As followers of Jesus we never stop learning and growing. I hope you will take some time and check out some of these resources. If you are a parent or grandparent, how you respond to your child’s or grandchild’s question about the Bible will probably have a greater impact than any paid minister. May we all be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks us for the reason for the hope that is in us.
Just wanted to make you aware of a resource coming out very soon. The ESV Student Study Bible is an excellent resource to have handy for the follower of Jesus who spends time reading and studying His Word. The English Standard Version (ESV) is a trusted translation, and one that can be found in my library as well. Thought I would post this latest video and give a couple links to the ESV website where you can take a look at their resources as well.
There is also a regular ESV Study Bible available as well for adults.
Thought I might take a few moments to recap what went on this week at the D3 Youth Conference on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. If your first thought is how much fun can you really have on a seminary campus, then you haven’t ever been to a youth conference there. There was a lot of fun going on this week. We had a great week of solid teaching, powerful worship, and fun games.
The emphasis of this weeks teaching was on Discipleship. Our main speaker, Eric Bancroft, began the conference by defining discipleship at two levels. The first level focused upon the follower of Jesus being gospel-centered as he/she follows Christ. Looking at Philippians 1:27-30, we were able to see that Paul taught that a follower of Jesus who is living a manner of life worthy of the gospel, is living a life marked by Unity, Courage, and Suffering. We were challenged to look at our lives and ask “Am I making decisions that intentionally draw people to Christ?” The second level of discipleship focused upon the follower of Jesus being a follower of another follower of Jesus. The challenge given to the students at the conference was for them to look at their lives and ask “Who am I following that is helping me follow Jesus?” Many refer to this idea as having a “Paul” in your life. Someone who is a little more mature spiritually and able to encourage and equip you as you pursue Christ. We never stop needing a Paul in our life. However, most churches are weak to non-existent in their discipleship, not because they don’t have a discipleship hour, but because the only individuals who come to mind as these “Pauls” are the pastor or his wife. Not only is it vital to have someone pouring into you but you also need to be intentionally pouring into someone younger as well.
We were also blessed to hear other powerful messages and testimonies as well. We were challenged by speaker, Jeff Strueker, who is a military Chaplain and was also involved in the events the movie Black Hawk Down portrayed. We heard from missionary Shannon Hurley, yes a guy named Shannon, who passionately spoke to the kids from Psalm 1. Closing the events of the week was the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, who gave a great message to the students before departing. When Dr. Mohler’s message is available on-line I will be pleading with parents and students to listen to his message.
There were many other fun events, too many to name, that will be on my mind in the months ahead. I was blessed and privileged to be on this trip. My hope is that many more will plan to attend next year from our church. If you have any questions or want to know more, just ask one us who went and I know we will all be thrilled to talk about our trip.
Came across this today and thought to include it since it also was about the topic discipleship.
This was a pretty powerful message given at the SBC Pastor’s Conference. I believe it is well worth your time to watch.
Beginning in June the Youth ministry shifts its focus from conflict resolution to God, or more specifically the doctrine of God. The Scriptures are filled with references to God as a father. God has chosen to reveal Himself in familial (family) language. In the June issue of Living with Teenagers there is an article titled Fatherhood: How a Relationship with Dad Shapes a Teen’s Ideas of God. In this article the author states, “Relational experiences that occur during the developmental stages of childhood and adolescence leave indelible marks in our stories.” It is absolutely true that you can have a passionate relationship with God through His Son Jesus even if you had a lousy or non-existant relationship with your dad. However, God intends for dad’s to disciple their children and through their discipleship grow to love the God who gave them their dads. The article also gave some practical ways for us to affect our children’s perceptions of God.
- Grace: Teenagers need to know they are enough–even with (or in spite of) their flaws and all the terrible things that have happened to them. Fathers who understand (and have experienced) grace can help their teens understand it. These moments often take place when teens are at a low point.
- Attachment: Both male and female adolescents need to feel attached to their fathers. Forming attachment requires a continuing passion to pursue your teenager for relationship, even when he resists your efforts.
- Intimacy: Parent-child relationships have critical moments in which a change in the relationship is imminent and a connection is made. Teenagers need their fathers to crawl into their world long enough to understand who they are and how they view the world.
- Forgiveness: Teens need to understand that broken relationships can heal. They know they are not perfect, but they need to learn that forgiveness and reconciliation can take place when they mess up. They will also learn this by their parents admitting when they mess up and ask forgiveness.
- Warmth and Care: Express love to your teen by listening attentively. Engaging in caring behaviors encourages teens to see God as One who challenges them towards personal growth and who is present and available in a time of need.
Gladness, generosity, praising, favor, and influence. Who would honestly say they don’t want these things in life? As we begin to bring a close to this month’s topic, conflict resolution, in the youth ministry, I was reminded this morning from the Scripture what God desires for His people.
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-47).”
What was going on with God’s people that they could be described as a people with glad and generous hearts? They were living a life of thankfulness, full of praise and favor with others. This life was an attractive life because people were apparently listening to them as they communicated it was because of Jesus.
Now I don’t mean it was an easy life. In fact, I believe this is where our topic this month can apply here. Just a few verses before the above we read that these followers of Jesus were devoted to God’s Word, devoted to one another, and devoted to prayer (Acts 2:42-46). Do you think any of these folks ever disagreed or had a conflict with one another? Why else would God have been so helpful to us to give us ways to handle conflict, unless He knew we would be involved in it?
I assume that these followers of Jesus had conflict (other N.T. letters like James or Philippians shows us conflict), but their handling of it biblically, allowed for their devotion to the Word, one another, and prayer to come before themselves.
We will not avoid conflict as long as we live in a fallen world and the temptation for selfishness exists. However, as new creations in Christ, we handle conflict in a new way. We humbly admit that conflict begins in my own heart (James 4:1-2). We humbly admit to others when we have hurt them or if we have been hurt by them (Matthew 5:23-26; 18:15-17). We humbly ask for or extend forgiveness to others (Matthew 6:14-15).
Want a life of gladness, generosity, praising God, favor, and influence? It is a life of intentionality and conflict resolution. This should remind us of the life of Jesus. A life of intentionality (the Cross) and a life of conflict resolution (the Resurrection).
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life…Romans 5:10.”
This weekend we will continue with the topic of conflict resolution in the youth area and specifically look at forgiveness. What is forgiveness? Is there a difference between saying “I am sorry” and “Will you forgive me?” If I do tell my friend or family member I forgive them, then what should I understand that to mean? Does it matter if I bring the offense back up again?
Many times we might tell people we forgive them, but often what we say doesn’t match what we really do.
In the book, Peacemaking for Families, Ken Sande looks t0 the topic of forgiveness. He says forgiveness is not…
- forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s not like love, hate, jealousy, envy, or lust.
- forgiveness is not forgetting. God doesn’t forget our sins when He forgives them. He decides not to remember them; not to mention, recount, or think about them ever again; not to hold them against us in the final ledger.
- forgiveness is not excusing. The fact that we forgive indicates that a sin was committed.
- forgiveness is an act of the will, a decision not to think or talk about what someone has done.
- forgiveness is an active process involving a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action.
- forgiveness is the canceling of a debt that someone has incurred because of improper behavior or words.
- forgiveness brings us back together after an offense has separated us from each other.
- I will not think about this incident.
- I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.
- I will not talk to others about this incident.
- I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.