Feb 23, 2017

Winterfest 2017 | IDENTITY

Here's the highlight reel from our trip to Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN. I couldn't have asked for a better group of students and adults to work with. Thanks for an awesome trip!


You can read Rahab's story in Joshua 2.

1. Can you think of an instance when it would take courage to show kindness to someone?

Due to the political state in our nation right now - the divide between liberal and conservative, left and right, democrat and republican - it takes courage to show kindness to those on the "other side of the aisle." For some reason it has now become a political statement to show kindness to illegal (or legal!) immigrants and refugees. It is seen as a political issue to show kindness and compassion towards those in the LGBTQ community. If we as a church began welcoming these people in with open arms, we could be ostracized from our entire faith community. But if there is one thing Scripture is clear on, we are to show love and kindness to EVERYONE - we are all neighbors.

2. Read 1 Corinthians 6:8-11. How do you treat your past mistakes? Do you forget them or embrace them? Why does it matter?

I tend to want to forget my past mistakes. Who I am is not who I was. I would rather forget that part of my life altogether and move on. However...that can be really unhealthy. That can lead to a "holier than thou" mentality. I've known many Christians who acted like they never sinned in their lives. They seem fake and hypocritical. I believe it's a better testimony to the world that we are all sinners in need of a savior. Sure, we are not those people any more, but we all have a past! If we were all perfect, we wouldn't need Jesus. Rahab embraced her former life as a prostitute and it became a testimony of God's transforming work in her life. Paul did a similar thing. Maybe we should learn from them.

3. Are you willing to risk everything because of your faith? Why or why not?

This is a tough one. Would I be willing to die for my faith? Absolutely. Would I be willing to risk the lives of my wife and kids because of my faith? That's not so easy to say. But I realize there are thousands of men and women across the globe for whom that is a day to day reality. I hope and pray that we never have to face that kind of persecution. But if/when we do, I pray that I may have the strength to stand for what I believe in - even if it costs me everything.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT | Joshua (from Feb. 15)

You can read Joshua's story in Numbers 13, Joshua 1-6, 24.

1. Who would you consider a mentor like Moses and a friend like Caleb? How have they encouraged you in your faith journey?

I definitely look up to the preachers I have worked with during my time in ministry. Both Lance in Moline and Allen here in Mitchell have been extremely positive influences in my life. They have both taught me valuable lessons about how to do ministry, how to relate to people, how to approach the Word, how to work well with other church leaders, and much more. They are the Moses to my Joshua or the Paul to my Timothy.
And I would not be the man I am today without close Caleb-like friends in my life - like Bryson, Jordan, Michael, and others. These guys in particular have been there for me in tough times to encourage me, to laugh with me, and to help me see things in a new perspective. I thank God for the fellow godly men he has put in my life.

2. Read Galatians 5:22-23. How might fear keep you from experiencing the fruit of the Spirit?

Most of these virtues listed in Galatians are outwardly focused. They have to do mostly with our relationship to others and how we treat our neighbors. I've noticed that when I am fearful, anxious, or worried I tend to turn inward - focusing mainly on myself and my needs. Instead of loving, I become apathetic towards others. Joy becomes reservation and suspicion. I cannot find any peace, especially when I am lying in my bed with worst-case scenarios playing through my head. I get incredibly impatient with people, especially my family. I find it harder to be kind, good, or gentle with people and instead react harshly or sarcastically. I begin to doubt God and lose faith in his ability, choosing instead to trust in my own abilities. And self-control goes out the window, especially if there's food involved.
Fear, worry, and anxiety are really in opposition to everything God is trying to do through his Spirit!

3. Have you chosen to courageously serve the Lord? Why or why not? If so, how does that show in your everyday life? If not, what is holding you back?

I believe that my family and I are all in when it comes to serving the Lord. I could have chosen just about any profession - many of which would be easier and make a lot more money! But I have followed God's call into youth ministry. I know there are other things I could be doing that we just don't seem ready for right now. But if God says "Go," we will go. The harder part is living out the gospel in my everyday life. I think the biggest part of that is to be a light in the darkness. Our world seems really dark right now. There is a lot of fear and anxiety. I believe it's part of my job (and the job of my fellow Christians) to show that we have nothing to fear. If God is for us, who can be against us?! What a great testimony it would be to the world if followers of Christ stopped living life in fear!