Monday, December 31, 2007

Spring Calendar, updated

Feb. 8th Wyld Life 7-9pm LCS gym
Feb. 10th F.I.S.H. 7-9pm at the Webb’s
Feb. 17th X-Factor 7-9pm Block House
Feb. 24th X-Factor 7-9pm Block House

Mar. 1st Liberty Family Ski trip (tubing trip?) 8am-8pm
Mar. 2nd Parent’s meeting 9:30pm fellowship hall
Mar. 9th Wyld Life leadership 7-9pm Block House
Mar. 15th Wyld Life 7-9pm LCS gym
Mar. 16th F.I.S.H. 7-9pm (place TBA)
Mar. 23rd X-Factor 7-9pm Block House
Mar. 30th X-Factor 7-9pm Block House

April 6th Wyld Life leadership 7-9pm Block House
April 11th Wyld Life 7-9pm LCS gym
April 13th F.I.S.H. (place TBA)
April 20th X-Factor 7-9pm Block House
April 25th-26th Family 30-hour Famine (more info. TBA)
April 27th Wyld Life Leadership 7-9pm Block House

May 2-4 Youth Retreat to Camp Sandy Cove $100
May 11th X-Factor 7-9pm Block House
May 16th Wyld Life 7-9pm LCS gym
May 18th F.I.S.H. 7-9pm (place TBA)
May 25th Parents’ Meeting 9:30am in the Fellowship Hall
May 25th X-Factor 7-9pm Block House

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wyld Life Dec. 15th

Have you ever been lectured by someone? That wasn’t a teacher? That wasn’t your parent? That was a Christian? Trying to convert you?

Yeah, so one time I traveled down into D.C. to meet a friend. He didn’t care what I had to say. He didn’t care about the person I was trying to help. He seemed to want another notch in his religious belt. This is how many people perceive followers of Jesus. And why wouldn’t they if this is their only experience with followers of Jesus. But lets see if Jesus himself is like that? Does he care about other people? Is he just interested in another notch in his religious belt?

Here’s a story about Jesus:
Mark 3:1 Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone." 4 Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Who knows what runescape is? It’s a free online multiplayer game where you complete quests and get items and try to advance your character to new levels so that you can compete with more skilled people.

You know some people treat religion like a game. They want to level up in following Jesus, they want to do the tougher tasks so that they can get more points, more status, hang out with holier people. They want to look down on the “newbs” and the “have-nots.” But following Jesus isn’t at all like that.

That’s what the Pharisees, the religious conservatives, were doing in this passage. They were using their religion to congratulate themselves and to look down on others.
Am I using religion to put others down and congratulate myself? I want to talk to the most religious people in here. In middle school, I was lame. I wasn’t really smart, I wasn’t really funny, I wasn’t really good-looking, I wasn’t really rich, I wasn’t really talented at anything. So it’s understandable in high school that I turned to religion for my identity. And especially in college, I identified myself as the guy who knew-better-than-you. And yet, as I learned about Jesus, I started to learn that he cared about those people that I was putting down. He wasn’t interested in righteousness as a way to have moral authority over other people. He wasn’t interested in a righteousness at other’s expense. He was interested in a righteousness that built others up instead of tearing them down.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


A couple quick announcements:

Dec. 15th: Wyld Life from 7-9pm in the LCS gym
Dec. 16th: No youth group, come to the Christmas Concert with your family
Dec. 23rd: Family Caroling starting at Oakland Manor at 6:15pm. Then we will split up into groups and go caroling in the local neighborhoods. Pick-up at the church at 8pm.
Dec. 30th: Guys sleepover at the block house 7pm-10am. Bring a snack and your airsoft equipment. High school girls sleepover at Erin Weitzel’s house 7pm-10am bring a snack. Middle school girls sleepover at Erin Donnely’s house 7pm-10am bring a snack.

christmas party talk

My favorite scripture to think about during Christmastime (or just about anytime really) is Phillipians 2:5-11 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore god has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This scripture gives us the bigger picture of what was happening that first Christmas. It gives us a glimpse of God’s plan to save the world.

Sometimes we can get frustrated by the progress of God’s plan to save the world. “If God is God,” we think, “the world should be saved by now.” So we think up better ways to help God’s plan of salvation to reach more people and convince more people to follow Jesus. Let me present to you two such plans:

First, everyone loves retreats and conferences, especially if they’re held at a cool venue. What cooler venue could there possibly be than heaven. They’ve got to have great accommodations: I’ve heard mention of mansions. They’ve got to have great food: I’ve heard mention of feasting. And they’ll have great music: I’ve never heard angels singing but I bet it’s impressive. So what better way could there be to convince people to follow God and accept his salvation than to take them to a conference in heaven. I was thinking at least give them a weekend to give them a taste of what’s to come if they sign up. So I recommend that GODcon 2008 be held in heaven. I think we’d see a lot more people coming to Jesus that way.

Secondly, scared straight programs seem to work wonders for more recalcitrant (bad) youth. Therefore I recommend that God implement a field trip to hell. Potential believers could be ushered down to the lake of fire to feel the heat from the ever-burning fires. For legal reasons I don’t suggest they actually endure torture but maybe one of the demons could demonstrate torture techniques on a current denizen of hell. This could really scare some people into believing in God and trusting in Him for their salvation.

But God didn’t do either of these things. Instead of bribing people with heaven or threatening them with hell, God came quietly, meekly, humbly to show how much he really cares about people. He came to experience the bad things we experience and to show us how to overcome. He came to be with us, to live with us and to walk with us. He came without all the trappings of glory and without all the threats of punishment so that he could see how we really felt about God.

If you’re wondering how you fit into God’s plan of salvation let me suggest one thing. Humble yourself. Don’t threaten God, he’s not trying to threaten you. Don’t try to buy God, he didn’t try to bribe you. Humble yourself before God. Try to imagine what life is like for God…and submit to him. How do you convince others to accept God’s plan of salvation? Instead of only trying to bribe non-Christians with empty promises that following God is only cool, fun, and happy… humble yourself before them. Because many times following God means suffering. Instead of trying to threaten people that they’re going to hell if they don’t shape up… humble yourself before them. Help people understand that God humbled himself for them by demonstrating it in your actions.

For me this means… listening to others opinions of me. Hearing people that are trying to give me advice. Honoring authorities over me even if I don’t like them. Trying to help people by trying to understand them on their own terms. Admitting weaknesses I have so that others can help me. Complimenting others instead of putting them down. Looking first to the interests of others rather than my own interests.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What we want and what we get from God.

Have you ever gotten a gift that you didn’t want?

It was Christmas Eve at the Hathaway house. And on Christmas Eve each person in my family gets to pick out one present to open on Christmas Eve. (For the sake of this story you have to understand that I am not a musical person. I took piano lessons when I was little and I always much preferred to watch my piano teacher play than do it myself. The main instrument I know how to play is the radio.) Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve and you have to pick your present real carefully because this is the only one you get to open until the next morning. So I went for one from my parents rather than one from my siblings because I figure, I’ve never beat my parents up so they might like me more and get me something cool. So I start opening this present up and it’s got all these different packages with it. First I open up a maraca, so I’m thinking okay maybe this is a joke. Then I open up a long wooden thing with ridges on it, and it comes with a stick. I’m starting to get worried. Then I open up a little cowbell. Then I open up a little congo drum set and a bag that everything came in with a price tag of like $70. I’m thoroughly depressed at this point. But my dad is so excited. He’s like, “This is an indigenous drum set!” And I’m like, “Wow! You’re right, it is.” He’s like, “You could use this in your class that you teach.” I said, “Dad, you remember I’m an English teacher right.” Anyway, He got the sense that I didn’t want it and wasn’t going to use it so he took it back. And I was thinking, maybe he’ll get me a $70 gift that I’ll like. But no. He just took it back.

There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus gives somebody a gift that he didn’t ask for, and I’m not sure it was the gift he wanted, but Jesus gave it to him anyway. Let’s take a look:

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. (Now the largest of these rooms that they’ve found fits about 50 standing close together.) And he was preaching the word to them. (Jesus was teaching people about God from the bible.) And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, (Just imagine this for a second, you’ve got these guys maybe from the Capernaum High Basketball team and their star forward has just been paralyzed from a chariot accident. And they’ve got their big game against Jerusalem High next week and they really want their friend to be in the game. So they go to see this guy named Jesus, who they’ve heard can heal people. But he’s not even healing people right now, he’s in the middle of a lecture with some important dudes. And they try to get in at the door but it is a full house and no one is letting them come in. And then one guy has the bright idea, “Let’s crowd surf him in to Jesus. Let’s just lift him up and push him toward Jesus.” But then another guy says, “Actually, crowd surfing won’t be invented for another 2,000 years. So then one of the other guys says, “I know, let’s vandalize his house, drop our friend through the roof, and then ask him to heal his legs.” So everyone agrees and they walk up the outside stairs and dig through the mud and branches…)
and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
(I can just see the guys up on the roof saying, no, no, Jesus, it’s his legs, he’s paralyzed. Can you fix his legs? We didn’t come about his sin! See, these guys had cared for their friend, had believed Jesus could do something, they’d overcome obstacles to get their friend to Jesus, and then Jesus doesn’t give them what they hoping for. Now I wonder how many of you had “Healing” on your Christmas wishlist. I wonder how many of you have “Forgiveness of sins” on your Christmas wishlist. Jesus is helping this guy to reexamine what he wants, what he thinks he needs. Maybe that’s what he’s asking you to do tonight. What do you think you want from God? What do you think you need from God? Is it possible that God knows better than you do what you need? Maybe you need forgiveness of your sins more than a new game system, more than a new game this Christmas. Maybe you need forgiveness of your sins more than a new outfit, more than giftcards, more than music.

And for those of you who think that you don’t have faith let me tell you what faith is. Faith for these guys was hope that things could get better, and a belief that maybe Jesus could do something about their problem. That’s the kind of faith that I’m asking you to have tonight. Believe that things can get better than they are right now. Believe that Jesus can do something about the problem so come to him. Listen, these guys didn’t totally understand who Jesus was, they hadn’t gotten their lives right before coming to Jesus. They knew they had a problem, and they brought the problem to Jesus.

Now some of the scribes (these are the guys who really know their bible) were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Actually these guys were right, the only one who can really forgive sins is God. A sin is a wrong done to God so only God can forgive wrongs done against him. If I slap Tiffany, Amanda can’t say, “I forgive you for slapping Tiffany.” Well, she can say that, but it doesn’t mean anything. In the same way only God can forgive wrongs done to him. So what does that say about Jesus?) And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the paralytic-- "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"

So Jesus proved that he could forgive sins by miraculously healing this guy of paralysis. Jesus miraculously heals. Jesus forgives sins. We should, like the people there, be amazed, glorify God, and say, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” But there’s one thing that they don’t do that we should do. Worship Jesus. If Jesus forgives sinners we should worship Him as the God he is claiming to be.

Let me tell you one more story. There once was a high school senior who was a month away from graduating. He’d been driving his dad’s old, busted up minivan back and forth from school and he dreamed of having a new sportscar as his graduation present. His dad saw this and so he took him to look at all the best sportscars on the market, like a Saleen Mustang, an RX7, etc. etc. They just looked; they didn’t buy. But his dad found out what car his son wanted and how much it would cost. The last month of high school quickly passed and the senior graduated and at his graduation party his dad gave him a small present wrapped with a red bow. And the boy was so excited. He said, “It’s going to be keys to a new sportscar; I just know it.” But instead, it was a bible. And the senior was so upset at his dad and he shouted at him “Why didn’t you get me the car?” And his dad just said, “Read your bible.” And the son said, “I’m not reading that bible. You tricked me. You made me think I was going to get a brand new sportscar.” And his dad just said, “Read your bible.” But the boy wouldn’t read the bible because he was so mad at his dad. And months past, and as the boy was packing up his things to get ready to leave for college, he saw the Bible sitting on his bookshelf and he picked it up and began to read it and in its pages he found: life, and love, and forgiveness, and a check for the exact amount of the Saleen Mustang he wanted.
You see, we think we know what we want God to give us, a Saleen Mustang. But God gives us something far better than what we ask for, far more expensive than the gift we asked for, far more necessary than the gift we ask for. Jesus gives us forgiveness.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Updated Calendar


Nov. 9: Wyld Life 7-9 pm at the LCS Gym
Nov. 11: 7-8:30 pm F.I.S.H. at the Carback's
Nov. 18: 7-8:30 pm X-Factor
Nov. 25: 7-8:30 pm X-Factor


Dec. 2: 7-8:30 pm Wyld Life Leadership
Dec. 7: 6:45-8pm Service Project:
Babysitting for the Christmas Banquet
Dec. 9: 7-9 pm F.I.S.H. at the Blackburn's
Dec. 15: Wyld Life 7-9 pm at the LCS Gym
Dec. 16: 7-8:30 pm Youth Group Christmas party, bring a gift (bring a snack too)
Dec. 23: Family Caroling at Oakland Manor 6:30-8pm
Dec. 30: 7pm- 11am Guys Block House sleepover/ High school girls sleepover at Erin Weitzel's

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why in the world did Jesus pray?

Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

This little event has gigantic repercussions for our prayer life. Here’s our starting point, because it’s Mark’s starting point, Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. He’s God. And then he goes out to pray. Jesus is totally redefining our thoughts about God, first he was tempted, then he doesn’t insist people treat him the way he deserves, now he prays. Why in the world would God need to pray? If he’s God, doesn’t he know what his father is thinking…in an instant? If he’s God why can’t he just teleport back to heaven, converse with God, then beam back down.

And why was Jesus praying? Why do we pray? We usually pray to ask God for something. But since Jesus was God why would he need to ask for anything? We usually pray to God when we are very sorry for our sins. But since Jesus was God, he didn’t sin so he couldn’t have been asking for forgiveness. There’s an old saying that goes, “Prayer doesn’t change God’s mind, it changes ours.” Well, what about Jesus? First of all, He is God so why would he even try to change God’s mind if it was his own? Second of all, He is God so why would he need his mind changed?

When we pray, our mind wanders. We fall asleep. We get bored. We fall back on memorized prayers. We merely think and meditate rather than speak to God. We pray because we should rather than because we delight in it.

But Jesus rose up early in the morning to pray to God. This tells me I either misunderstand Jesus, or prayer, or God, or all three.

What this tells us about Jesus: It tells us that even Jesus was dependent on God. It tells us that there’s communication, community, relationship in the Godhead. It tells us that Jesus let go of so much power and made himself subject to what we must do so that he could show us how to communicate with God.
What this tells us about prayer: It’s possible to communicate with God through prayer. It’s worthwhile to communicate with God through prayer.
What this tells us about God: God hears prayer. God communes with people through prayer. God directs through prayer.

The other day, I was talking to someone who was hurting. I didn’t know what to say to help so I prayed silently to God, “Lord show me what to say.” God didn’t give me anything to say. So I was quiet. Then I thought of something to say, but God didn’t give me the way I should phrase it. So I was quiet. Then when I’d finally thought of something to say and the way to phrase it, it wasn’t the right time to say it anymore. All this time I was listening and my hurting friend was talking. And then I realized that God had showed me exactly what to say…nothing. My friend needed someone to listen. My friend didn’t need someone to solve his problems for him. My friend didn’t need someone to tell him what to do. He just needed someone to care enough to listen. Then I started to realize how the silence of God (which bugs me so much) is actually a great, merciful kindness.

Don’t interpret the silence of God as apathy. He hasn’t put down the phone to go do more important things. He cares. Don’t interpret the silence of God as a dead line. Prayer reaches God. Interpret the silence of God as mercy. He wants to listen to you.

So then what is prayer?
The Westminster confession is helpful: “Prayer is offering our desires to God in the name of Christ for things that agree with His will, confessing our sins, and thankfully recognizing His mercies.”

Prayer is God giving us a chance to talk. He wants us to mention our problems and His name in the same conversation, in the same sentence, in the same breath. It puts our problems into perspective. He wants us to mention our desires and His name in the same conversation, in the same sentence, in the same breath. It puts our desires into perspective.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Deny Christ

Deny Christ or else you die.
Stop worshipping or else we’ll put you in jail.
Break God’s law or else you won’t be able to see your family.

These are the types of decisions that Christians in the underground church are faced with. We’ve been watching the video series “Underground Reality” and these are some of the ways that we have been affected by the series:

"Because of the high risk of going to worship God, then there are more real, true, born again Christians in the church."
"How strong the people's faith is even though their life could be in danger really made me think about how free we are to be able to go to church in broad daylight."
"It amazed me that the church is so strong in their faith and how they pressed on even though they are persecuted. They have alot of courage. I am not seven sure that I would have the courage to stand up to the persecution."
"I believe that Christians really are persecuted. I will ask God for comforts less and faith more."
"They never fought back. They praised God with the most enthusiasm I've ever seen. They risk all for God. They don't deny him."
"I look up to them because I know I wouldn't be able to do that."
"I admire the courage of the teens to smuggle the Bibles and the Vietnamese Christians because I don't think I could handle the persecution and the threat of getting caught."
"The incredible faith of those who were persecuted... they're willing to sacrifice everything they have for the Lord. Here, in America, we have it easier, and are barely willing to give up something simple for the Lord. I want to strive to have the intense faith that those who were persecuted have."

There are several ways you can take action:
1) You can make up an action pack for persecuted believers in Sudan by gathering household items and putting them into a bag purchased from Voice of the Martyrs. Go to and click on “action packs” on the left menu. Then click on “order today” for Sudan or Pakistan. The cost is $5 to provide needed supplies for persecuted Christians.

2) You can send an encouraging letter, in their own language, to imprisoned believers in Vietnam and around the world. Go to . Under “What can you do?” click the link for “write an encouraging letter.” Then click below it on “start writing a letter.” You will be able to pick the phrases you want to include in the letter and it will translate them for you. Then you print out the letter, hide the web address, and send it to the address provided. You provide the postage that they recommend and place the letter in the mail.

3) You can pray. As the eight teens talked to believers in the underground church they asked people what they wanted them to tell friends back home. Underground believers said one thing, “Tell them to pray for us.” Please pray for the persecuted church.

Some of these packages and some of these letters will never reach their intended receiver. But prayer always reaches God. He is more powerful than any prison guard, warden, statesmen, or official. He is Lord even over these situations. This is both comforting and disconcerting at the same time. He is Lord over this, so I will be taken care of. He is Lord over this, why is He letting this happen to me?

We are amazed that God can let his people suffer for his name’s sake. What kind of God is that? But we shouldn’t be amazed by persecution as much as we should be amazed by the cross. God let his own precious perfect son suffer and die for sinners, God’s enemies. That is amazing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jesus had some cheek!

What would you do if someone flicked you off on the road?
What would you do if someone flicked you off on the road because you cut them off…rudely?
What would you do if someone flicked you off on the road because you had cut them off rudely and flicked them off?
What would you do if someone flicked you off on the road because you were a Christian?

Jesus says, when someone slaps you on the cheek, give them the other cheek. I get flicked off more often than I get slapped so we’ll use that as an example.

If somebody drives by me and flicks me off (or makes any rude gesture, honks, or yells) how I take it depends on what I’ve done. If I haven’t done anything… I just smile and (secretly) laugh at them because they don’t know what they’re talking about or they don’t know the rules of the road themselves. If I have done something wrong (and I have before) then I understand why they would flick me off and I kind of accept it even though I think it’s inappropriate and insecure to flick someone off. If I got flicked off because I was a Christian (this hasn’t happened before) I would praise God for counting me worthy to suffer for His name’s sake.

So when someone slaps us or flicks us off, how we react depends on whether we deserve to be slapped or flicked off. In one sense no one deserves either, they’re abusive, embarrassing, and impetuous (lacking in self-control) acts. In another sense we all deserve much worse than to be slapped or flicked off. We deserve God’s anger and wrath a hundred times over for our sin. We deserve death and hell for what we’ve done.

Why does it hurt so bad when someone slaps us? It’s not just about the physical pain… being slapped is embarrassing. It’s like someone saying, “You’re worse than worthless.” And if we don’t do anything, or if we offer them the other cheek it feels like we’re accepting their assessment of us. We want to fight back to let them know that we’re not worthless. We want to fight back to let them know that indeed it’s they who are worse than worthless. We want to fight back to let others know that they can’t treat us that way. We want to fight back to let our abuser know that they can’t treat others that way. We want to fight back because we feel unprotected and we must protect ourselves.

Are you afraid of looking bad? Being embarrassed? Being hurt? Being weak? Being taken advantage of? Only then will you really need God. Then you will really start to understand how bad you are, how embarrassing you are, how vulnerable you are, how weak you are. Only in weakness, in wounded-ness, does God become our strength, our salvation, our protection, our source of value.

When you’re in an uncomfortable situation, when someone is hurting you we’ve been told there are only two options: FIGHT or FLIGHT.
But Jesus is telling us there’s a third option: BE A LIGHT.
Jesus was in an uncomfortable situation. People were hurting Jesus. But Jesus didn’t run away. Jesus doesn’t say run away. Jesus doesn’t say, “fight to the death.” Jesus says stay and be a light. Why? Because God says, “I’m better than running away; I will be your hiding place. I’m better than fighting, I will fight for you.”

I hope you don’t get slapped on a regular basis but even if you don’t this message applies even to you. Let me try to illustrate:

What would you do if someone gave you advice?
What would you do if someone gave you advice about something you’d done wrong?
What would you do if someone gave you advice about something you’d done wrong and they were right?

Here’s what you do; you don’t run away. You don’t get defensive and shoot advice right back at them. You take the knife; pull it in. You say, thank you, is there anything else I can work on. Is there anything else? Is there anything else? Is there anything else?

I don’t know how many of you have enemies. But you all have parents; you all have siblings. When they hurt you, when they abuse you, really listen to them, listen even to the anger and abuse, knowing that you deserve far worse, but what you get everyday is grace instead.

I know someone who was abused, who still bears the scars of being abused, you can see it every time he smiles, and he does smile. He says that he learned from the abuse what anger and what punishment his sins truly deserve. He praises God everyday that he doesn’t get a punch in the mouth every time he sins though that’s what he deserves.

Jesus had some cheek to say “turn the other cheek.” But then again, Jesus didn’t just say “turn the other cheek.” He turned the other cheek even unto death so that he might show us a new and better way: not “fight,” not “flight,” but “stay and be a light.”

Friday, October 19, 2007


No we're not trying to bowl for nerds... we're trying to bowl as nerds.

Come dressed up as a nerd: science fiction nerd, office nerd, computer nerd, and any type of so-smart-I-don't-have-any-room-in-my-brain-for-fashion nerd. Prizes will be awarded for best nerd costume in several categories.

Just go to your local thrift store (or parent's storage closet) and pick out the best in nerdery that you can find. Then come to Crossroads Bowling at 1pm on Nov. 3rd. Bring $9 for an hour of bowling (this includes shoe rental.) Afterwards we will be headed back to the block house for the nerdiest board games we can find.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Reality TV show that turned into a Horror movie.

Imagine a reality TV show that turned into a horror movie.

It’s like you’re watching someone cooking dinner and then zombies start coming in the front door.

It’s like you’re watching a group of guys hanging out at a friend’s house and then an army of demon-possessed people starts surrounding the house, screaming.

That’s what this story of Jesus is like. It’s like a reality TV show that turned into a horror movie. What do I mean by that? Well, lets look in the bible and see what it says about what a night in the life of Jesus might look like.

A close friend of Jesus, Peter, told what had happened to him to a writer named Mark. This is what happened, according to Mark.

Mar 1:32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

So picture this.. the sun is going down, the creepiness is about to begin. Jesus and his friends are hanging out at his best friend’s girlfriend’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law’s, when all of a sudden they start to hear the sound of a crowd, shouts, groans, then there’s a knock at the door and you look out the window and you see this mass of people. There’s so many people you can’t even see all the people.

Now imagine if a whole city’s worth of sick people and demon-possessed people were coming to your house.

And what does Jesus do. Now here’s where it stops looking like a horror movie. He does not shoot them. He does not blow them up. He heals them without surgery, without medicine. He casts out the demons and tells them to be quiet, without destroying them. See, we try to understand Jesus but he doesn’t fit into any of our categories. The story of Jesus is not like a reality show. It’s not like a horror movie. It’s different than anything we know. Jesus doesn’t fit into any of our categories.

Let’s see how Jesus fits into three categories: doctor, demon-slayer, celebrity.

Jesus is like a doctor because he heals people. He doesn’t mind being around really sick people. He compromises his own safety to be around them. He’s talented at healing people. Yet he’s not like a doctor. A doctor needs medicine to help people. A doctor needs surgery to help people. A doctor usually gets paid to heal people. Jesus doesn’t. He just heals people. So he doesn’t fit the category of doctor.

Jesus is like a demon-slayer from a fantasy movie or a comic book. He can see and talk to demons. He doesn’t just fight the bad guys. He fights on a supernatural level with actual forces of evil. Just like a demon-slayer, demons are no match for Jesus. Demons recognize his authority. He’s even able to command demons and they do what he says. But he’s not like a demon-slayer in that he doesn’t use any tools or tricks to get rid of the demons. His only tool is prayer. He doesn’t fight them either; he just tells them what to do. Another weird thing about Jesus is that he doesn’t destroy the demons he just tells them to pack up and shut up. So Jesus doesn’t even fit the fantastical category of demon-slayer.

Jesus is like a celebrity from pop-culture. He’s very famous. Everybody wants to see him. Everybody wants to get something from him. Everybody wants to see how he lives. And yet celebrities usually like to be surrounded by beautiful and powerful people. Jesus on the other hand welcomes hurting and messed up people. He wants to be around them more than around the beautiful powerful people. He’s also not like a celebrity because he doesn’t want people to know about him. Usually celebrities want as much publicity as possible, but not Jesus. He doesn’t tell people who he really is and those who figure it out, the demons, he tells them to keep quiet.

So Jesus doesn’t fit into any of our categories. He’s like no one you’ve ever known and that’s why you should be interested in finding out more about Him. I promise you, the more you find out about him, the more you will be convinced that there is no one like him. So I’m inviting you to find out more about Jesus this year. Even if you think you already know who Jesus is, I’m inviting you to find out more about Jesus.

So tonight when you’re going to bed, when you’re laying your head on your spider-man pillow, or your disney princess pillow, I want you to think about this: what if Jesus is really different than anyone who ever walked on the face of this earth? If there really is no one like Jesus how should I react to Him? AND If Jesus really loved sick and twisted people and cared for them, what does he think about me? How would he treat me?

And if you really want to learn more about Jesus this week find out what it feels like to care for sick and hurting people. Open your eyes and ears to the sick and hurting people in your life, spend time with them, move toward them, care for them. Then you’ll get to feel a little bit more how drastically different Jesus was than anyone who ever lived. I'm not saying to do this because God will be pleased if you do. I'm not saying do this because it's what's right. I'm saying do this to find out more what it felt like to be Jesus, to find out who he was care for hurting and messed up people.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jesus was weird.

Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus was tempted by the Devil.

That's so weird.

Baptism is a sign of people repenting of their sin and wanting to die to self and live a new life. So was Jesus repenting when he was baptized by John? No. In the bible it says that Jesus was tempted in every way like us and yet without sin. He faces the temptation of the devil himself and he doesn't give in. I don't think he gave in before either. So why was he baptized? Baptism is a religious ceremony. Jesus was sinless and he was baptized by a sinner, and a mere man, his cousin, John. As Jesus began his spiritual journey he submitted to a sinner in a religious context. He did this to show us how to start our journey. If Jesus began by submitting to a religious sinner, you can submit to a religious sinner to begin your journey too. Baptism is a beginning.

Jesus, the son of a holy, holy, holy God allowed Satan to come into his sight, into his presence, without drop-kicking him. I mean, that's what you'd expect when good meets evil right? Major battle duel, Dragon-ball Z style! But that's not what happens. Jesus lets Satan talk. He lets Satan tempt even. This is like the judge letting the guilty inmate tease and insult him for a while. This is weird. So why did Jesus do it? He did this to show us that temptation can be overcome. Trust me, He didn't like it. But He did it for us so that He could commiserate with us and so that we could feel like we can talk to him about temptation.

Let's say you have a disgusting ingrown toe-nail. Who are you more likely to go talk to about it? Mom, who has perfectly manicured nails and has never, to your knowledge, had any such issue, or Dad, whose toes bear the scars of past ingrown toe-nail issues. You're more likely to go to Dad because he can identify with you.

Many times we don't want to take our sin to Jesus because we think, "He's too holy; He wouldn't understand." But he does. He was tempted so that He could understand. So when you're tempted, when you've been tempted and you've fallen into sin, come to Jesus. He won't judge you, He'll forgive you. He'll redeem you. He'll change you. He'll give you hope and new life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Underground Reality: Vietnam

This past weekend we watched the first episode in a series of four about the underground church in Vietnam. The series follows 8 teenagers who went into Vietnam to smuggle bibles and see the underground church in Communist Vietnam. Click on the picture below to see the trailer.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Saints are Coming

U2 and Green Day collaborated on this song "The saints are coming" which is a cover of an old Skids song with an added first line from "The house of the rising sun." The song is sung from the perspective of a poor boy ruined by "the house of the rising sun," a New Orleans whore house. He calls his dad on the telephone to ask him when he will be home, but the line went dead. He laments the change since his dad has been gone. He hopes that when the weather changes for the worse, his dad will come home, but his daddy doesn't come home. He cries and there's no reply, no answer. It feels like the end. And so he sings...The saints are coming.

For according to scripture when Jesus comes again, he comes with his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 says "at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." When Jesus comes, he's not coming alone. He's coming with his saints, that is to say those who follow Jesus. Those who follow Jesus are made saints not by working many wonders but by having faith in Jesus. In the end when Jesus comes to judge the world he will come with those who believe in Him.

But what about now? What if we feel like the boy in the song? We're hurting because of a distant father. We're crying out, even to God, but it feels like there's no reply. What's the answer? The Saints. The Saints are coming. Jesus has chosen to use those who follow him to bring kindness, warmth, salvation, and healing in a broken and hurting world. Saints have helped me on my way. When I am deep distress, I trust the Lord that he is sending his saints to help me.
The video shows scenes of the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. It shows people crying for help. It shows a street sign "Humanity st." drowning because of the flood waters. Then it shows "the saints" coming. It shows fake news clips of troops being brought home from the Iraq war to save survivors on rooftops and to airlift food and supplies in to hurting areas. It shows a superpower using its might... to save.

This is a wonderful picture of what God is doing with his superpower, with his might. He's using it not to destroy but to seek and to save the lost. He is using his church, his saints to bring relief to a hurting world. The only question remains...are we going to be the saints who are coming? Are we going to be God's answer to a hurting world? God has given his son to be the answer to our hurting world are we going to go and do likewise?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

August calendar

August 12th: Youth Group at the block building we'll be watching and discussing the video "How to Save a Life" by the Fray.

August 18th: Sandtown Mission trip: FULL. If you signed up please bring work gloves, water bottle, and bag lunch (they have a refrigerator.) We will be meeting at Sandtown Habitat by 9am. We will finish by 3:30pm. Directions: Go east on Liberty rd, slight right on REisterstown rd at Mondawmin Mall, slight right on N. Fulton. Sandtown Habitat is .7 miles down on your right at the Lauren rd cross street. If you need a ride please call me.

August 19th: Parents meeting during Sunday school hour beginning at 9:30 in the Block house.

August 19th: Wyld Life interest meeting 7 pm at the block house.

August 23rd: Due date for our 3rd child.

August 26th: 6-9pm Back-to-school-bash at Faith Frampton's 1401 Buckhorn rd. Sykesville, MD 21784-9304 . Bring a bathing suit, a side or dessert (veggies are cool too!), and a sixth grader to initiate.

The Lord Reigns

When we were at the beach this past weekend we felt the mighty power of the waves. Two youth kept drifting off down the beach because the waves were inexorably carrying them. One youth was knocked down three times while trying to get in. We made sandcastles and played bocce ball in the sand, sand which was created by thousands of years of waves crushing rocks into tiny pieces. Waves are powerful. Tsunami waves can reach heights of 100 ft at the shore and 13,000 feet in the ocean. (submerged) They can do untold damage. They are so powerful that governments around the world are seeking to harness their energy through wave technology.

In psalm 93:4, the Bible says "Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!" The Lord is more powerful than all the power of the waves. This seems like a no-brainer, but in our lives we really do question the power of God. We wonder whether he reigns. We look at all the evil in the world and we wonder whether God is in control. Especially when we look at the cross we can wonder if God is in control. The only son of the God of the universe was put to death by ancient peasants... what's wrong with this picture? Yet this psalm, God's word, is reassuring us that God is indeed in control. He's stronger than the strongest thing we can imagine or fear here on earth. God reigns. That should be a comforting thought to us for God is a good God, slow to anger and abounding in love.

There once was an emporer of a mighty nation who declared war on the sea. He sent his army down to the sea. They gave a great shout and all the soldiers threw their spears into the sea. Then the emporer declared his army victorious over the sea. How foolish! How foolish it is to be at war with God who is much greater than the sea, the waves, the waters. The Lord reigns, there is no hope of fighting him even though God doesn't seem to be in control. The Lord reigns.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"I watch the heavens but I find no calling"

This past Sunday night we watched Sarah McLachlan's video "World on Fire." Sarah sees the world's suffering and decides to help. Instead of spending 150,000 on making a music video she spends it on helping over a million people around the world. The video takes us through what each aspect of the video production would have cost and what charity she spent the money on instead.
The chorus goes like this:
The worlds on fire
its more then I can handle
Ill tap into the water try and bring my share
Try to bring more, more then I can handle
Bring it to the table
Bring what I am able

The video is inspiring and encouraging and convicting. At one point the video shows a woman who works all day and then sells oranges at night to pay for her child's schooling. She must sell 100 oranges a day, for 2 cents each in order to make the $2 she needs everyday. I was convicted by how a small amount like 2 cents could really help others in need. The video pans in to focus on the door of this woman's shack for a moment. It reads "Ps. 118:5-9." The psalm reads, "Out of my distress I called upon the Lord, the Lord answered me and set me free."

Even though a reference to this psalm was included in Sarah's video, even though Sarah was going about the work of setting people free from their distress, she apparently did not find God calling her to do this. Later in the song she sings, "I watched the heavens but I find no calling." It is indeed a sad situation if the world is hurting and God has nothing to say about it. It would be a careless God who doesn't call people to help others in their distress.

Thankfully, God is calling us to do something, something we can do to change what's coming. Sarah is looking for that calling to come from the heavens. Well, our calling does come from the heavens, it just comes in the form of a book called the Bible, not in the form of a vision in the stars. In the Bible, in a letter from James, God inspired the author to write, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

God is calling us to help others. I think Sarah may be frustrated by the hypocrisy she sees in the religious who are interested in "saving souls" while "the colds closing in on us." Our faith must be shown by our actions. The faith Christians are trying to convey to people is frustrating unless it is accompanied by acts of mercy.

Acts of mercy don't save us but they should come out of us as we have been saved by an act of mercy, the act of God sending his son Jesus to die for our sin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beach Trip... and other stuff we're doing

July 29th: Youth Group at the Block House. (We’ll be watching Sarah McLachlan’s video “World on Fire” and talking about materialism vs. missions.)

August 4th: Family Beach Trip to Bethany Beach. B.Y.O.F. (Bring your own food, finances, or friend) Youth may come without parents. A caravan will be leaving from the church shortly after 6:30 a.m. Please RSVP with how many will be coming from your family and how many extra seats you have in your car.

We will caravan to downtown Bethany Beach at 6:30am and pick up a day parking pass ($11 per car) where Garfield Parkway dead ends. We will then be parking on side streets and rendezvousing on the beach in front of the public bathrooms and stage at the end of Garfield. Family Bocce Ball competition at 2pm. Family sandcastle judging at 4pm. We will be leaving the beach at 5pm, stopping for dinner at the Kent Island Burger King and reaching Liberty at 9:30pm for pick-up.

A link to a map and directions,+MD+21117&daddr=Bethany+Beach,+DE&ie=UTF8&v=2.1&cv=4.1.7087.5048&hl=en&z=9&om=1

August 5th: no youth group

August 12th: Youth Group at the block house

August 18th: High school service project to Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. Spaces are limited. Must be 14 or older to participate. RSVP to Nick at 410-655-5466

August 19th: Parent meeting at 9:30am in the Block House. Youth can attend their regularly scheduled Sunday school class. No youth group

August 19th: Wyld life interest meeting for parents and volunteers at 7pm at the block house.

August 26th: Back to School Bash! 6th-12th graders welcome. 6th graders initiated! Time and place TBA

September 15th: Hershey Park and Christian Concert $45.

We were meant to live for so much more


This past week we hung out at the block house, talked about how we’re made for glory, and shared prayer requests regarding what God was doing in our lives and in our midst. We watched the video “We were meant to live” by the band Switchfoot. The lyrics, heard on many non-Christian radio stations, say “We were meant to live for so much more. Have we lost ourselves? And everything inside screams for second life.” The video shows the musicians playing their instruments and cutting a hole in the walls that separate them from each other. As they cut through the walls a bright light shines in from the background. The video seems to be saying that we are made for more than just the grubbiness we may see around us. The truth is we were made for glory. We were made for a relationship with a holy God. We also took a look at Exodus 5 where Moses was trying to convince the Israelites that they were meant to live for so much more than their Egyptian enslavement. Sometimes it’s hard to see that we were made for worship of a holy God when our situations press in on us so oppressively. The reality is we were meant for so much more. We were meant to live for God, to worship God with our whole life. So we took a moment to see that God was doing “so much more” in our lives than we can see with the naked eye. We shared what God was doing in the lives of those around us and prayed for those works that God was doing.

A link to the video we watched

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Come hang out with us.

July 14th 7-8:30pm Walmart Scavenger Hunt and Food drive. Bring between 5 and 10 dollars. Meet at Eldersburg Walmart at 7. Pick up will be at the snow ball shack near Arby’s at 8:30. Proceeds will go to support local shelter’s like Westminster Rescue Mission.

July 15th No Youth Group

July 22nd 7-8:30 Youth Group at the block house. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

July 29th 7-8:30 Youth Group at the block house. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

August 3rd-4th Beach Trip to Ocean City $15 (tentative)

August 5th No Youth Group

August 12th Youth Group at the block house. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

August 18th High school service project to Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. Spaces limited. Must be 14 or older to participate.

September 15th Hershey Park and Christian Concert $45 (tentative)

Talk from the pool party

Linkin Park Minutes to Midnight What I’ve Done

I have worshipped to this song on numerous occasions. I’ve held my hands up as the tears come down asking God for mercy. The chorus rings in your ears afterwards:
Let mercy come and wash away what I’ve done.
This is a good prayer, especially if you’re being as honest as Linkin Park usually is about the sinful estate of humanity. The video shows glimpses of gobs of guilty things we’ve done as humans: hated one another, bombed one another, fired firehoses at one another, burned one another, beat one another. Nature itself has not been immune to our sinful ways, we've pillaged, killed, and polluted it as well. Yet interspliced with that horror there has been hope, we’ve saved one another, helped one another, carried one another, protected one another. But there is serious injustice in this world. Some gorge themselves while others starve.
Fortunately, Linkin Park doesn’t merely lament the problem they also talk about the solution. Unfortunately they’re somewhat confused about the solution. They would admit this themselves. They look to Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity as equally valid solutions to this problem. They look to Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Buddha, and Mao se Tung as having a synonymous message. They point the finger at the Ku Klux Klan, Fidel Castro, and Saddam Hussein and Hitler as the enemy. They see the answer to this evil in each person facing his or her own history. This too is helpful and honest. It seems there may even be a confession in this video of drug use. But their answer in the end is this: If we face ourselves, if we forgive ourselves we can have new life. We must face ourselves but we cannot forgive ourselves.

Forgiveness must come from the one we’ve wronged. Yes, we’ve wronged ourselves but we’ve also wronged the one who made us. Let’s say you’re experimenting with some fireworks or plastic explosives in the family car. You cut the wrong wire or you light the wrong end and badda-bing badda-boom you’ve just turned the family car in to a burning, fizzing, shooting, smoldering pyrotechnics display for the whole neighborhood. Well, understandably you’re depressed after that. Not only because you’ve been grounded indefinitely and you’ve been expressly forbidden not to play with plastic explosives again, but because you’ve destroyed in one action both your families means of transportation and your own future hope of having a vehicle to drive when you’re 21 which is the approximate age your parents will un-ground you. Then one day you come to grips with the fact that you did a terrible thing and you decide to forgive yourself for what you’ve done. How do you think you’re family would react if you told them “I’ve forgiven myself so let’s move on?” You need to ask for forgiveness against the one you’ve wronged.

A long time ago, in a land far far away there lived another rock star. His world was crashing down around him. His people had done many awful things and he himself had done some particularly nasty things, as rock stars are wont to do. But he felt bad about what he’d done so just like Chester Bennington he wrote a song. And it went a little something like this:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment….

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy or your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The rock star was king David, the track was “when Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” The album was the Psalms it’s in the bible (ESV).

This rock star goes to a different place to find forgiveness. To find cleansing, to really deal with his sin he goes to God. Here’s the good news. God is. He’s real. I understand why Chester (the lead singer of Linkin Park) is facing himself. He doesn’t think God is real. He is real. And here’s even better news. He forgives. Confess to him what you’ve done and he’ll forgive you. Mercy will come, but it only comes through God. And just as your sin is and was really big, so too is the price God paid to ransom you back. He paid a lot of money for this car wash, you were one dirty car. But He paid the price of his first and only son. He gave his son so that he might have you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pool Party

July 1: Youth Group 6-8:30pm at the Vance's 1488 Rack Point Drive Finksburg, MD 21048. Hot dogs, veggies and chips will be served, please bring a drink or dessert to share. Bring your bathing suit and towel too.

July 8: Youth Group 7-8:30pm at the block house 11301 Liberty rd Owings Mills MD 21117. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Youth Group at the block house

We're having youth group (middle and high school) from 7-8:30 at the block house (the charming little bungalow beside the church) 11301 Liberty Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117. Bring a something to share, preferably not ABC gum (ask me if you don't know) and we'll be eating, playing, and talking about Jesus and what youth group should be all about. Gimme a call if you have questions: 443-286-5886 or call the church.