Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please Pray For Our Students and Leaders This Weekend

Prayer Guide:
One of the biggest parts of anything we do in Student Ministry is Prayer. This weekend we have a great group of students and leaders heading up to Woodland Lakes Christian Camp to have a blast and go deeper in the spiritual walk with God.  Let’s all take an active role in this retreat by spending time both now and this weekend praying for our students, leaders, and the other churches attending this retreat.

In Ephesians, Paul talks a few times about praying for other believers. Here are a couple of examples:

Ephesians 1:16
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Here are a couple of things we can be praying about:

1. Our Students- pray that they would be attentive this weekend. That God would give them open eyes and ears, and soft hearts. We want them to be comfortable enough to talk about their faith and the questions they have. We also want them to feel challenged to share God’s love with those around them.

2. Our Leaders- they are giving up a lot of sleep and one whole weekend to invest in our students. Pray that God would bless them with whatever energy or focus they need to be present in every moment this weekend. Also be praying that they are filled up with God’s Spirit so He can overflow into the lives of the students around them.

3. The Speakers and Worship Leaders- Pray that they would lead us deeper into our commitment to Christ. That it wouldn’t be a show or a look how cool I am moment, but instead it would be a sharing of God’s truth and a celebration of all He has done for us.

4. Our Students lives after the Retreat- Pray that the things they learn and the changes they want to make last. It is hard after a retreat like this to explain what you learned or what you want to do. You go back to school and try to tell your friends about it, and its just difficult. As they get back into the swing of day to day life it’s difficult to keep things fresh with God sometimes too. Pray that God’s Spirit equips them for the journey ahead.

5. Our role as parents and leaders in students’ lives- We all have a huge role in what we just prayed about for our students. It’s hard for them to make the decisions they make at a weekend retreat stick sometimes. It is our job as parents, leaders, and friends of these students to not just encourage them in those good choices, but support them in achieving them. Pray that we would clearly see our role in that process and that we would serve in that role with a passion.

Don’t forget to thank God in advance for all the good he has done in our lives, and the good things we haven’t even realized He is going to do through us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Week at Rel Community: A Prophecy Fulfilled

This year at Rel Community our groups have been going through the Bible and sharing stories with each other about God's great story of redemption. So far we have looked at Adam and Eve and how even after their mistake God took care of them like a Father takes care of his children. We talked about how God created us all to be friends with Him and know Him in deep and real ways. We learned about the story of Abraham and Isaac. How God saw Abraham's faith and provided for him.  The big lessons we have learned so far are that God's first plan was always for Him to send His son Jesus to die for us, that bad choices have consequences, and that God loves us and gives us hope even with all the mistakes we make.

This week we are going to look at an Old Testament Prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament. It has our redemption written all over it. Sometimes we lose sight of how incredible our God really is. We lose touch with the 'Good News' that really is the best news ever. This prophecy in Isaiah 53 and its fulfillment in John 1:29-34 really reminds us of God's greatness and puts into perspective the redemptive work Jesus did for us at the cross. Jesus is the person that Isaiah was prophesying about in Isaiah 53. Take some time today to read both of these passages. Reflect on God's good plan that is our good news. This is a true story that is worth telling people about.

Isaiah 53 (The Message)

 1 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?  2-6The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
   a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
   nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
   a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
   We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
   our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
   that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
   that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
   Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
   We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
   on him, on him.
 7-9He was beaten, he was tortured,
   but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
   and like a sheep being sheared,
   he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
   and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
   beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
   threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
   or said one word that wasn't true.
 10Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
   to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
   so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
   And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
 11-12Out of that terrible travail of soul,
   he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
   will make many "righteous ones,"
   as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
   the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
   because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
   he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

John 1:29-34 (NIV)
Jesus the Lamb of God
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."  32Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Name that Person!

Alright. It's Wednesday and we need to have some fun, so let's play a game. Can anybody tell me who this is a picture of? Better yet, can anybody tell me who this is AND write a funny caption for the photo? 1st person to correctly name the person pictured above wins a T-shirt, and best caption for the photo wins a T-Shirt as well. Hope this makes your Wednesday a little better. I bet it will.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Conversation with My Tomato Plants

As the weather is getting colder, our garden has begun to shrivel and disappear. The interesting thing is that our tomato plants are still producing a lot of tomatoes for us even though the plants themselves are looking pretty shriveled and wilted.  All the water, sun, and warm weather the plants received the past few got stored up in the plant and transformed into growing those tomatoes. Even as the plant begins to die, the fruit is still being produced. Still the plant is no longer connecting to that warm weather, sun, and water like it was a few weeks ago. The tomatoes will eventually stop showing up and the plant will disappear.

Being a follower of Christ has its comparisons to our garden.  No, I’m not saying that although you are bearing fruit now, as soon as it gets cold you will die. I’m saying that God has created us to be His followers, and to share His love with others out of the overflow of that same love in our lives. It is so easy for us as Christians, to put your head down and do the best we can. In that process, we accidentally forget the most important component of leading other people closer to Jesus. We have to be connecting to Him regularly in the first place. The longer we go without connecting to Him and filling up with His love and His Spirit, the more and more we run the risk of running out and ending up a lot like my tomato plants. We will keep growing fruit for a while, but we will find ourselves a few weeks down the road burnt out and tired of life. We can’t forget to keep spending time with God. If we aren’t living and connecting with Him, it ultimately won’t matter how ‘good’ we are at 'being' Christians. Without His Sun, water, and warmth in our lives, we won’t get far. Don’t forget to do this. Connect to Him so He can overflow into lives of people with whom you come in contact.

Further Reading: John 15

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teenage Dreams

 A couple of weeks ago I sat in on one of our Middle School Groups. If you didn't know already, I love Middle School Students. Everyone says you couldn't pay them to go back to Middle School, because it is such a stressful and traumatic time for so many people. I had my own share of unfun stuff during that time of my life too. The reason I love Middle School is because students are still learning how to be fake. By the time we are adults we have learned the cheap art of fakeness. Most High Schoolers have mastered it too. The sad thing is that fakeness keeps our friendship shallow, and inhibits our growth. That's why Middle School students are great, because they are real. 

In the group, we were going around the room telling each other our name, and our favorite song at that moment. Hands down, the favorite song for the girls was Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. I'll admit Katy Perry's music is really catchy and it's not to hard for them to get into your head, but I have a huge problem with this song. I'm not going the 'Music these days is trash' route either. I think the lyrics in this song are just a bunch of lies that are so easy for girls to believe. So before I approach soapbox status with this blog post let me tell you where I think this song really misses the mark, and what I think the truth is.

Lie Number 1:Any guy who is thoughtful or caring, obviously has my best interest in mind.
Lyric:You think I'm pretty
Without any make-up on
You think I'm funny
When I tell the punch line wrong
I know you get me
So I'll let my walls come down, down
The Truth: This one trips people up all the time. Someone comes along and starts giving you the time of day, and all of a sudden you think that they are the love of your life. Think about it for a second though. Just because someone gives you what should be a common courtesy, doesn't mean they have earned any special privileges. Honestly, women don't need make-up to be pretty, and personally aren't you telling a girl that you think she is less pretty without make-up if she is STILL pretty even without it?

Girls, I wish it was simple as taking a guy's words and actions at face value, but it isn't. This doesn't mean you can't have real friendships or let people get to know you, but true friendships with guys don't make you sacrifice your values or morals. You can let someone get to know you, but that doesn't mean turning the security system off.

Lie Number 2: A Boyfriend will fix my problems and make me happy.
Lyric:Before you met me
I was a wreck
But things were kinda heavy
You brought me to life
The Truth: We were all created to live every day connected with God. We try to substitute so many other things for that connection, and relationship with God. Jesus is the one who is supposed to be our Savior and make our life complete. No thing, idea, or guy can fulfill that role. So a guy might make your life nicer or more enjoyable, but it's dangerous if you are dating in hopes that your guy will solve all your problems. If you are doing that, you are putting a band aid on a problem that only God can fix. The second your guy hurts you or lets you down, you are left in a place worse than you started.

Lie Number 3: Love means physical intimacy.
Lyric: Let's go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance until we die
You and I
We'll be young forever
The Truth: This is a big one! If some one really cares about you, they aren't going to ask you to do something that isn't right or that isn't in your best interest. Physical intimacy in a dating relationship is so dangerous. It is full of regrets and it definitely doesn't equal love. If you love someone you are willing to make the right choice even if it is difficult. God says we should what until we are married to have that intimacy with our spouse, and that's not because he doesn't want us to have fun. It's because we are entering into a world of potential hurt, pain and regret if we start messing around with physical intimacy.

Lie Number 4: Teenage Dreams should involve sex, alcohol, and motels.
Lyric: We drove to Cali
And got drunk on the beach
Got a motel and
Built a fort out of sheets
I finally found you
My missing puzzle piece
I'm complete
The Truth: Who said that being a teen means making bad decisions, having sex, and drinking alcohol? Being a teenager can be really stressful. You have a lot of things to worry about each day. You have homework, maybe a job, maybe sports, drama with friends, college applications, and drama with your family to worry about. It isn't necessarily an easy time in life. Still, premarital sex, and alcohol will do nothing but complicate your already stress filled life. They aren't going to make life any simpler. You might feel like they do in the short term, but in the long term that is NOT the case. They put you into dangerous and compromising situations that don't just affect you. Go ahead and search for some news stories on teen drinking or teen pregnancy. You aren't going to find stories of teens discovering the stress free life.

Further Reading:   
1 Corinthians 15:33
Ephesians 5:3-4
Proverbs 4:23-27
Matthew 10:16
Philippians 4:7