Aug 13, 2017

YIA 2017 | Hope for My Profile

We just wrapped up Youth In Action 2017 (hosted by Okolona Church of Christ, held at Spring Mill Bible Camp). The theme this year was "A New Hope" based on Romans 5:1-5 -
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
 (New Living Translation)
The topic I was given to speak on was "Hope for My Profile" - a new way to approach our use of social media and technology. Several people said they couldn't be there over the weekend for various reasons, but still wanted to hear what I had to say on this topic. So here you will find an audio recording of my talk along with the presentation notes and videos.
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Philippians 4:8-9 | And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Romans *12:3 | Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Matthew 6:24 | No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

Aug 5, 2017

Q|A Session 6: Life & Faith, pt 2

This is the last of our Q|A series for the summer. It has been an absolute blast answering real questions from real teens. I'm pretty sure that we answered every question submitted (or very nearly). These final questions are some of the best questions that we didn't get to in other sessions. I hope you'll take some time to listen to the audio below, follow along with the notes & scriptures. We end it all with one last Q|A video about angels & the afterlife. Enjoy!
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When you grow up in a religious family but they went away from church in general, how is the best way to engage yourself when you feel as if you are also falling away?

Luke 12:51-53 | Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
‘Father will be divided against son
    and son against father;
mother against daughter
    and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
    and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”

Luke 14:25-27 | A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple."

Mark 3:31-35 | Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
     Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 10:28-31 | Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.
     “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
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Why does God use really bad people? (example: Rahab the Prostitute)

Habakkuk 1:5-8 | The Lord replied,
“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.
I am raising up the Babylonians,
    a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
    and conquer other lands.
They are notorious for their cruelty
    and do whatever they like.
Their horses are swifter than cheetahs
    and fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their charioteers charge from far away.
    Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.

Romans 8:28 | And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Acts 9:1-2 | Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
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How do you find your God-given gift and purpose?

For a thorough and free analysis, go here - https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/cgi-cg/gifts.cgi?intro=1

Romans 12:3-8 | Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
     In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 | The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
     Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
     But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
     In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
     All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.
     Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

1 Timothy 4:14 | Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.

1 Peter 4:10-11 | God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

2 Peter 1:3-8 | By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
     In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
     The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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What is a good balance of sports and faith?

2 Timothy 4:7-8 | I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

1 Timothy 4:8-10 | “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Hebrews 12:1-2 | Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
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Jul 18, 2017

Q|A Session 5: Religion & The Bible

Last week, Brady and I took a look at your questions concerning religion and the Bible. There were some GREAT questions asked - many of which could be entire life-long fields of study. Some of these questions deserve to have an entire class series. And we will go in depth on some aspects of these questions in coming classes, so stay tuned!

As always, give the class a listen if you missed it, follow along with the Scriptures, and then check out our answer video at the bottom for even more answers.
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Why do some religions who worship the same thing always fight/argue?

Philippians 2:3-4 | Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

James 3:14 | But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

Galatians 5:15 | If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

2 Corinthians 12:20 |  For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.
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How do we know our image of God is right with so many other religions? Are we only Christians by culture?

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 | For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

1 John 4:7-16 | Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
        This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
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Is the Old Testament necessary?

Romans 15:4 | For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

John 5:39-40 | You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 | For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...

Acts 8:35 | Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Acts 17:11 | Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

2 Timothy 2:15 | Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
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It can be really hard to believe in the Bible sometimes when it starts talking about multiple-headed crazy animals and all kinds of things like that. How do you take those types of things?

Daniel 7 & Revelation 12-13
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Jul 6, 2017

Q|A Session 4: Science & Faith

This week we looked at the questions our teens submitted concerning Science and Evolution. I am not a scientist by any means, but I would consider myself a science enthusiast (like Fred from Big Hero 6). I have done my best to answer these questions and address these concerns in a truthful, considerate, thoughtful way. I present the ways in which I have personally come to reconcile science and faith in my own life. But I must emphasize that not everyone will agree with me. And that's OK! If you don't agree with what I have to say, let me know and we can discuss these things further. But be prepared to give me reasons for your disagreement and where you stand on certain issues.

If you will click the image below, you will be taken to another page where you can listen to my class from last night. And I will also include images of my presentation slides so you can follow along with what's on screen. At the end I will list some helpful resources for those of you interested in doing more research.
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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:


Finding God in the Waves, by Mike McHargue
Mere Christianity, by CS Lewis
The Case for a Creator, by Lee Strobel
The Source, by John Clayton
The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller
(I have each of these books in my office for anyone who would like to borrow them. Mike McHargue, CS Lewis, Lee Strobel, and John Clayton all have this in common - each one was an atheist who came to -or back to- faith in God.)

YouTube Channels
SciShow
SciShow Space
It's Okay To Be Smart
Crash Course
Smarter Every Day
Today I Found Out
PBS Space Time
Minute Physics
Veritasium

UPLIFT 2017 | Greater

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even GREATER THINGS than these, because I am going to the Father. // John 14:12

Uplift this year was just what we needed. I could sense God moving in a big way through the experience.

It all began Saturday night with a screening of the movie GREATER - the story of Brandon Burlsworth who walked on with the Arkansas Razorbacks football team. Through faith in God and trying his best in whatever he did, Brandon worked up to a starting position. I don't want to give away the story too much. You can find out more about the movie and watch the trailer here: http://greaterthemovie.com. And after the movie, Marty and Vicky Burlsworth came on stage to be interviewed. The testimony of the Burlsworth family is absolutely amazing. Brandon's legacy lives on in big ways because he decided that being a disciple of Jesus was greater than anything else he could do - including playing professional football.

The Sunday night keynote speaker was Mark Moore, CEO of MANA Nutrition (http://mananutrition.org). Mark inspired us to take small steps to change the world. He challenged us to think small and aim low (i.e. what little things can we do to make an impact in our communities?). He encouraged us to give up - that is, give up whatever doubts, fears, and trepidations we may have in serving God through serving others. Finally, he told us to "Go to Starbucks" - emphasizing the need for face-to-face community, sharing life together.

On Monday night, Jim Miller (a Bible professor at Harding) shared his story of doubt and struggling with faith after the sudden passing of his father. It was a powerful testimony of how our doubts don't have to completely derail our faith.

Monday night ended with one of my favorite parts of UPLIFT each year - hundred of teens crowding into the rotunda of the McInteer building and singing for about an hour. I recorded it this year so that you can listen to some of it. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

B. Chris Simpson was the Tuesday night speaker. The students always look forward to hearing from him, and he always delivers a memorable message. B. Chris walked us through some of the stories of demon possession in the gospels. He showed us how demons effected those under their control in the Bible, and how the still influence our lives in similar ways today - Isolation, Imprisonment, Impropriety, Inability to Speak, Inability to Hear, Loss of Control, Self-Harm, etc. But through Jesus, we have the power to overcome the demons in our lives. "We will dance in the darkness cause greater things are yet to come!"

The week wrapped up on Wednesday night with an inspiring and challenging message from Andrew Baker, the UPLIFT director. He reflected on how the call to DO (John 14:12) is a call to SERVE. He explained that we serve by showing mercy, by bringing peace, and by preemptively loving our neighbor. As an example, he shared the story of Jeremy Courtney whose organization, PREEMPTIVE LOVE COALITION (http://www.preemptivelove.org), is providing life-saving surgeries in Iraq for children born with crippling birth defects. His story is absolutely amazing. Check him out online and on YouTube.

I don't even have time to mention how stellar the drama performance was this year. And Harris III, the illusionist, was unbelievable. The classes, the worship, the time spent together - God was at work in all of it.

But one of my absolute favorite parts of the week was one of the last things we did. I began doing this last year, and I think we will do it again at the end of each week of UPLIFT. During our Group Devo time I asked our teens two questions: What do we (young disciples) want to be known for? What are some things we can do? These are their answers.
  • More involvement in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) at school
  • Foster Parents’ Night Out
  • Regular visits to Mitchell Manor
    • Cards & gifts
    • Worship/devotionals
    • Christmas caroling & more
  • House Cleaning & Yard Work for people around town who are unable to do much themselves
  • Loose Change Jar set up in the Teen Center
    • Change for Change organization
    • Micro-Loans to small businesses in developing nations
  • Making no-sew pillows and blankets for foster children, patients at Riley hospital, residents at Mitchell Manor
  • “Adopt a College Student”
    • Care packages & letters of encouragement
  • MISSION TRIPS (most requested)
    • Foreign (i.e. Honduras, Dominican Republic, etc.)
    • Domestic (somewhere around the US)
    • Local (i.e. Bloomington/Indianapolis)
  • Kickball and/or Wiffle Ball Tournament Fundraiser
    • Lehigh Fields?
    • SMBC?
    • American Legion?
  • Sponsor a child through Compassion International
  • More hang out times together as a group
    • Movie nights, Game nights, etc.
  • Bead bracelets to sell for fundraiser/for a cause
  • Thank You cards to mentors and influencers
  • Trips to visit Riley Hospital
    • Hand out toys & teddy bears
  • Graduates Wall for all the graduating seniors in the Teen Center
  • Video game tournament to raise money for a cause
  • Use money from Wednesday night meals to help fund mission trips
  • Turn the ugly back room in the Teen Center (the black “video game” room) into a Workshop where we can make blankets and pillows, write cards, make bracelets, etc
I can't wait to see what God has in store for us in the years to come. UPLIFT was great, but the real test will be to see what happens AFTER.

Here's the Highlight Video from the week with our group:

And here's a the full Bohemian Rhapsody video:

I love doing what I do. And I love the God I do it all for.