Does God Really Care About the Details of Your Life?

You know, there are times when I study God’s Word, and I get goosebumps when I see God’s hand.  Did you know that the temple of Jerusalem, the city which overlooked the hill of Jesus’ death…were located on what is called a “seismic ridge”, a geological fault line that extends all the way to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.

You think God didn’t know where Jesus was to killed…where his death would be?  He did!  To think when God created the world, HE knew the very place where this fault line would be…He knew in how he formed the earth that in that specific place…there would be an earthquake that would reverberate from the core of the world he created for man to live.

You don’t think God is in every detail?  You think your life is any different?  That God doesn’t have a plan, that He doesn’t know your suffering, that He isn’t in complete control?  He was, and is, and always will be.

An Excerpt from the sermon called “The Earth Shook”.  (Watch the entire sermon here)

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Young People Need You

Think back to that person that invested in you.  Where would you be without those late night conversations, the advice over a milkshake, or the shoulder to cry on.

Take this man named Myron.  An ordinary guy who decided to invest in the next generation.  And now, while in the midst of a difficult time, he is reaping the reward of all those hours spent helping young people.

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Book Review: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

Book Review:  Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by J.D. Greear

The Good:

Clear as Whatever the Opposite of Mud.  I don’t think I have read a description of salvation that was so clear and simple.  Anyone that is confused or even over-confident about salvation, this is a book you could put in their hand with confidence.

Hi, My Name is Jeff, Here’s a Book.  Someone asked me about the book as I started reading it, and I told them after just two chapters I wanted to give the book to everyone I knew.  The content is that good and vital to a proper understanding of the Gospel.

Weren’t You Just Here?  I often would circle back to the very sentence I just read to make sure I got it right.  I don’t often do this in books, but with this one it was different.  The material was so significant, I wanted to make sure I truly comprehended what I was reading.

The Bad:

That’s Some Bold Sauce.  The author was not shy.  There were some bold declarations of theological terms, where he would define them.  Now I didn’t see any errors, but that would be a dangerous path for me to walk down.

The Grade:  A.  With a topic of salvation so central to the Christian faith, this book should be on your shelf to read and refer to on a regular basis.  Don’t let the title of the book put you off.  In fact it seems the author isn’t that big of a fan of the title either.  It’s a small book that packs a punch and will organize what you know, and allow you to be articulate in your witness and knowledge of the Gospel.

 

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10 Things to Say While Someone Is Recording a Snapchat or Instagram Story

Snapchat and Instagram are great for recording memories and pictures of family and friends.  Birthday parties, vacations, achievements, hilarious kid moments…it’s great to have the phone there to video these special moments.  But, when it is a “slow news day”, it’s fun to add a little narration to the stories on Instragram or Snapchat.  Here’s a few to help you take full advantage of those moments.  (Warning:  When using these, they will be much funnier to you than to the person recording the video.)

  1. Hey can someone check out this rash on my back side…seems to be oozing…do we have a mop?
  2. This trash can smells like a small creature has died in there, and has been dead for years.
  3. Hun, did we let the kids out of their cages last night…oh are you recording?
  4. If you’re a Russian spy, does that your secrets are passed down to our kids?
  5. I just told this cupcake “I love you” and I really meant it with all my heart.
  6. They didn’t have wart remover at the pharmacy, so I bought needle-nose pliers at the hardware store. That should do the trick.
  7. How many kids do we have again? I think we may be missing one.
  8. Remember when you cried during that dentures commercial…I don’t think I’ll ever get that one.
  9. A bat just flew in our living room again. Make that two bats.  Whoa, this one is carrying our neighbors pet rabbit.  How we going to tell little Johnny what happened?
  10. Alright, it’s done. All the evidence is buried in the backyard.  What’s for dinner?

 

 

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My Top Two Mentoring Videos

Mentoring is a process that comes with a lot of meat on the bone.  It can be overwhelming to know where to begin and how this mentoring thing works.  Well, these two videos are a great place to start.  One is how to find a mentor, and the other is how to be a mentor…

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FREE Olympics Devotional

Last week’s blog post gave you a detailed description on how to host an Olympic Youth Event.  This week is your FREE devotional to use for the event.  It links the Olympics with the Gospel.  Hope your event brings students to Christ!

Olympics Devotional

Something very special happens every 2 years…what is it?  THE OLYMPICS!

When you think of famous Olympians, there are some names that come to mind right away… Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, or Mary Lou Retton.

 

What about Derek Redmond?  Let me just tell you his story, and I think you will remember him.

He held the British record for the 400m at age 19.  He made it to the Olympics in 1988, but had to withdraw due to an Achilles injury.

In the course of the next 4 years, he had 5 surgeries and trained to become a favorite for the 400 meters in the 1992 Olympic games.

On that day in Barcelona, he stepped on that starting line wanting desperately to finish with a medal around his neck.  The starting pistol goes off, and the race is going great.  Derek is leading the pack as he passes the halfway mark, and suddenly he hears a pop that sounded like a gunshot.  His leg begins to shake, and he realizes he has tore his hamstring.

Some of you are getting the picture in your mind right now…Derek’s dad is watching in the stands.  He sees his son hurt from the top of the stadium.  He rushes down through the 65,000 people packed in that stadium.  He yells at the security guards as he races past them “That’s my son, and I need to help him”

You see, before that race, Derek made a promise to his dad that he was going to finish that race no matter what.  And his dad came onto the track, put his sons arm around him and together, father and son, they finish the race together in front of a roaring crowd.

 

What a powerful story, but is nothing compared to what I am about to tell you.

You see each one of us in this room is like Derek.  We try to run this life of ours and do our best, but in the end we will come up short.

Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  What that means is we all have made mistakes and we come short of heaven.

But just like that day on the track, we have a loving Father that wants us to finish.  As Derek’s dad came down from the stands, our Father in heaven, sent His Son down to this earth to suffer for us.  He died to pay the penalty for our sins.

Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That day on the track Derek’s dad said to him – I’m here, son,” Jim says softly, hugging his boy. “We’ll finish together.”

God is saying that to you today.  I am here for you, I died for you, and I love you.  Believe & trust in me today, and we will spend eternity in heaven together.  Will you make that decision today?  Pray to God & trust Him today.

 

Pray (Invitation Option)

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How to Host an Olympic Youth Event

Every 4 years in our youth group, we host an Olympic Games.  Before you think this is just an athletic competition, check this out.  This weekend is for everyone and each person on the team can contribute and have a great time.

Below is the schedule & events.  Enjoy!

Leaders arrive:  Set-up – Gym Games, Tables setup for eating

Students Arrive & Dinner Served

Gym Games Begin:  Around-the-World Ping Pong, Basketball Knockout, Finders Keepers

Devotional (short, but gospel-driven) – Next Week – FREE Olympic devotional on the blog

Instructions/Sign-ups for Water Games:  Teams sign up for water games quickly.  Instruct teens about NO Horseplay.  Respect of property, listen to lifeguard, no dunking underwater.  Safety.

Arrival at Pool (YMCA does pool rentals) & Change into Suits

Begin Water Games

  • Noodle Race – Race down to one end while riding noodle. Noodle must be between legs the duration of race.
  • Splash Contest – One person per team. Based on splash size & creativity.
  • Genie in a Bottle – Students spread out around area of pool. Teens turn around & close eyes.  Leader hides the 2 liter bottle in pool (filled up with water).  1st person to find-wins points for team.
  • Belly Flop Contest – No explanation needed, right?
  • Pearl Diver – 30 Seconds to dive and get as many coins as possible. Record $ amount of find, points awarded based on $ retrieved in the 30 seconds.
  • Underwater Talk – 2 Team members. Leader gives the topic to the team, and the word to only one team member.  Team member shares word under water.  If team gets it – points awarded.  (2 tries per team)  Example – Topic:  Food  Word:  Cheeseburger
  • Best Swimmer – Race to the finish. Extra 100 points if you beat Pastor Jeff
  • Synchronized Swimming – Each team must come up with a routine. Judged on presentation, creativity, & of course synchronization.
  • (If Time) Water Polo – Goals are trash cans or bowling pins. NO dunking or put into “penalty box”.  2 small time periods.  Winner of 2 games plays for championship.

Parents pick up at Church

Optional:  Sunday/Youth Night – Do a Game Show/Quiz Night for Final Competition & Prizes (Encourages visitors and those attending Olympics to come back!)

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A Lesson on Forgiveness

This is a true picture of Romans 8:28.  Where God can use something so tragic, and His children can display such grace in their testimony.  Would you be able to react in this way?  But for the grace of God, go I.  God’s glory shines through this family.

 

 

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5 Tips to Host a Easter Egg Hunt on a Small Budget

Rent a helicopter.  Get the real Easter Bunny to attend.  DC Talk reunion tour concert to open the festivities.  What happens if you don’t have a large budget for your Easter Egg Hunt?  No problem.  There are ways to still host a fun event for your community.

If you are looking for tips on how to host an Easter Egg Hunt – check out my previous posts here and here.

But if you are looking to host an Easter Egg Hunt on a low-budget.  Here’s some tips you need remember:

Get the Church to Help.  As mentioned in previous blog posts, this keeps the budget low when the church donates towards the cause.  Eggs, candy, bottled water…and even cash donations go a long way to keep costs down.  In past egg-fills, we might make a quick run to the dollar store for more eggs or candy, but for the most part we have enough filled eggs for the event.

Egg Return.  Make provisions to have a place where eggs can be returned.  This will save you next year when you ask for more donations.  You will already have a nest egg (pun intended) for your event the following year.

Free.  When you have an event that is free, the expectations are not nearly as high.  When people pay for an event, they desire something in return for their payment.  Keeping it free is not only good practice as a church, but also will allow for a good spirit among those that attend.

Limited but Effective Activities.  Each year we evaluate what activities are worth keeping for the following year.  The majority of our small budget is placed into bounce houses.  These are something every kid loves and are worth the money.  Other activities like crafts, face painting, and prayer table are low-budget activities.

Keep Program Simple.  Each year we make sure to share the Gospel at our event.  It’s not a bait and switch, because it is advertised as people come to the registration table.  But let’s be honest, hundreds of people (especially kids) anxiously waiting for the Easter Egg Hunt are not going to be held at bay for very long.  So the puppet show, video, or speaker should not be much longer than 15 minutes.  That’s all the attention span you got, so use it wisely.

Hope these tips are helpful for your Easter Egg Hunt.  Feel free to comment on how you accomplish your Easter activities. 

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Our Reaction to the Resurrection

What is your reaction to the resurrection?  Here are four reactions that come to mind.he_is_risen-title-1-still-4x3

Belief.  Do you believe Jesus died and rose from the dead?  A lawyer named Frank Morison was determined to disprove evidence for the resurrection.  He believed Jesus lived a wonderful life, but he saw the Resurrection as more a fable passed down from generations.  His plan was to write a logical, well-thought out argument against the Resurrection.  But as he studied, something happened.  When he approached the fact, looked at them in a legal manner – methodically and carefully.  He changed his mind.  He eventually wrote a Best-Seller called “Who Moved the Stone?”, filled with pages of evidence for Christ’s resurrection.  The very thing he set out to refute. Instead he wrote a book with the 1st chapter aptly named “The Book that Refused to be Written”.  He went from unbelief to BELIEF. (Paraphrase from “More Than a Carpenter” by McDowell)

Live With Purpose – I Corinthians 15:12-14We have a message – Not a lie, but a message of a loving, living Savior.  We can have faith – Paul declared that without the resurrection of Jesus, the faith they held was not good for anything.  Now it’s good for everything.  We can live forgiven – With the resurrection of Jesus there is reconciliation.  We can live with a future in mind – Our future is bright…for all eternity.

Live with Hope – I Corinthians 15:16-19.  Maybe there is a job you hope to have someday?  Because you believe it can happen…and that gives you motivation to show up to work on time, work hard, perform well…or maybe study well for a degree.  You can’t see what job you will have someday but you strive for it and you hang on to the hope of it.  Eternity, you cannot see, but you have hope of attaining it one day if you trust in Jesus…and because of the resurrection, there is hope.   Because of that hope, you can live another day, work hard for the cause of Christ…because one day you will attain eternal life.  What hope that is.

Live with New Life –  I Corinthians 15:20-23.  Guarantee.  You ever taken back an item that said “lifetime guarantee”?  And then the person at the register or over the phone asks you to get your magnifying glass out to read the fine print that has lists all the things the guarantee doesn’t include.  You see, it has exceptions.  Not eternal life.  The “firstfruit” here refers to the 1st part of the harvest that was put in the storehouse.  So Jesus represents the 1st to be resurrected, and those that believe in Him will follow Him someday…Not many things are guaranteed in this life…but God gives us the guarantee of eternal life through faith in Jesus…the resurrected Savior.

What is your reaction?  Feel free to share in the comments below.  And if you don’t have a church to celebrate…you are welcome to visit ours!

 

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