Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Catalyst Review: Jonathan Merritt


Jonathan is a faith and culture writer who has published over 300 articles in respected outlets such as USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, BeliefNet, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and CNN.com. He is author of Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet (2010), which Publisher's Weekly called "a must-read for churchgoers," and the forthcoming A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars (April 2012). As a respected Christian voice, he has been interviewed by ABC World News, NPR, CNN, PBS, Fox News, The New York Times and The Washington Post. 

The New Shape of Christian Political Engagement

Intro: Liberty & Falwell

* Critque of Jerry Falwell's understanding of christianity and politics. 

What change is happening to politics?

History: 1950 respect of church and change of public policy "high tide of civil religion"; 1960 & 1970 the shock - civil rights, vietnam war, sexual revolution, hollywood, religiously treatening orthodoxy. First afteshock - preach on moral decline, moral majority, participate in politics...to take back America for Jesus. Second aftershock - evaluation of the relious right and left.  Young ppl leaving the church. Too involved in religous culture wars. Hemmoraging from the inside. Image problem by outsiders. Reasons - us vs. Them mentality.

There are some that stick to stay. These young christians are new in three ways. The older generation:

* Last generation was highly partisan. Tied religion and politics.
* Focused on a narrow agenda.
* They were also divisive.

This generation

* Independent
* Broad agenda
* Civil - partner and achieve with common ground issue.

The new shape is at this nexus. This generation has a desire to live their faith. Live out what we believe. To be courageous and humble.

Thoughts: it was clear that Merritt knew his stuff and was well-read. There was a point in the talk where he would rip off 5-6 book titles and proceed to quote them all. I personally appreciated his walk through the historical concept of how we got to where we're at. It seemed like he wanted to communicate that this generation of Christians are different than what its been in the past. And the approach of evangelism has shifted. He's right. It's the summary of "UnChristian" by Kinnaman and a flurry of emerging and anti-emerging church books. Everyone knows that things have shifted but the solution is different depending on who you talk to.  At the end of his talk, i was left with questions like: 
  • What does this look like?
  • Live like what? What do you mean by Christian?
  • Did he caricature a few opinions in order to make his case?
Things have changed in evangelical america. The methods of the religious right and liberal left are not adequate for our day in age. We need to balance holding on to truth but also understand the context in which we live. I would suggest the following books as resources:
  • "To Change the World" by Hunter
  • "The Gospel Commission" by Horton
  • "Living Christianly" by Morrow

Catalyst Review: Mark Batterson

Main Idea: A single prayer can change a generation and you are one prayer away from a different life. 

Mark Batterson: is an American pastor and author. Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. NCC was recognized as one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2008. Batterson is also the author of the books In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase and blogs daily at www.evotional.com. Batterson's latest book The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears was released in December 2011

Thoughts: It's been awhile since i've heard of a message about prayer and asking God to do things. I guess it's because of the people i listen to or just the pendulum swing from the health & wealth movement and the whole prayer of Jabez thing. Most of the message was in reference to his own book, "Circle Maker" and how in Acts 10 the interaction of Peter and Cornelius. It was a good message with a lot of grunts and "yes's" of affirmation from the crowd. I think for me it was a good reminder for a solid and consistent prayer life. I struggle with this because i tend to over-analyze everything and totally forget that it is the Spirit who can change the hearts of people. It was good to thinking through the question, "why don't i treat prayer this seriously?" Batterson suggested in his message (as well as his book) to draw circles around things we want God to change. He challenged the audience to take a map and just draw circles around it and watch God do things. It's a good principle. 

Quoteables: "When you pray regularly, God will do irregular things"; "If you have an argument with God and you win, you lose." 

More Thoughts: The principles given were definitely applicable but the tether to Scripture was kinda weak. He mentioned that from Acts 10, this is the first time that Gentiles were being prayed for and all of us today is a direct result from that prayer meeting. My first thought was, "wait...doesn't Jesus pray for non-Jews?" So ok, I got the principle and it definitely made me reevaluate my prayer life...but i would have wanted to see more scripture laid as the foundation. Another side note of pure picky-ness and perhaps warning for teachers: the whole time he was reading scripture from his notes while his bible was open on the stands. I don't know if this is way too picky but i just found that to be a bit odd. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Love "our" youth

As life and ministry continues to progress and develop, we tend to forget about the people we were supposed to minister to first. Here's a reminder for our leaders to love internally:

Romans 12:9  Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love our CBC youth by being honest with them. Open your lives to them. Correct and rebuke sin and encourage and work at growth. 

1 Corinthians 2:2  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Continue to teach (with words and actions) that the Gospel is real and life-changing to our CBC Youth

2 Corinthians 5:18  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; Equip our CBC youth to be ministers of reconciliation to their friends and family, neighbors and strangers. 

Galatians 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Think & expect the best of our CBC youth. Let this be the first reaction to who they are not pessimism or worst-case scenarios

Ephesians 4:12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, Equip our CBC Youth to grow into maturity...not just the ones you like, but all of them.

Philippians 3:14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Put to death the elevated of self (pride & loathing) and move forward with humility and purpose...so that our CBC youth might receive your attention

Colossians 3:23  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Teach our CBC youth to work hard in whatever they do. Help them spend their time wisely...with eternity in mind. Do likewise.

1 Thessalonians 5:17  pray without ceasing, Pray for our CBC youth - for their growth, for opportunities for them to be sanctified, and for the Spirit to move in them. 

2 Thessalonians 3:10  For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. Teach our CBC youth the value and necessity of responsibility...not with harsh words, but words filled with hope and grace.

1 Timothy 3:1  The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Encourage some of our CBC youth to pursue the office of elder/pastor

2 Timothy 4:2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. Remember your responsibility to "preach the word" to our CBC youth. 

Titus 2:1  But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Continue to study and learn from Scripture and other wise men/women who also teach sound doctrine so you may teach our CBC youth the same. 

Philemon 1:18  If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. Take the burden, responsibility, and even damage from our CBC youth and sacrifice self for their growth. Whatever you can do for their growth, do so. 

Leaders, this is your commitment, duty, service, and ultimately - joy. 
Minister well to our CBC youth as a priority. 
Minister to all of our CBC youth.
Let the Gospel be your foundation.
Let Christ's love be your anchor.
Let the Spirit's power be your fuel. 
Let glorification be your hope. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Technology, Media, Culture…and Christianity │ A plea for Wisdom

When it comes to media…most Christians are a bit confused as to what to do about it. Either they fly one way and go, “Alright…nothing at all. Too much sin out there so no movies, no tv., no internet, no nothing.” And they just stay away from culture all together and live under a rock the rest of their lives and think everyone else is sinful. And then the other side goes, “it’s alright...don’t need to worry about what I watch. I’m ok. Things don’t really affect me.” And for them, they have no censor at all about what they watch or read. If someone tries to tell them to “be careful” they take it as them trying to control them or ruining their joy. Let’s bring it back to the middle shall we? Also…can we finally remember that we’re Christians first and that’s how we ought to think rather than “this is what I want to do”? Please remember, you are a part of the culture so you need to know and be aware. Also, God has given the arts and technology to be “good things” that are to be redeemed. The question is…are you redeeming it? 

So for the Christian and when it comes to technology and media, what are some guidelines?

1. Remember your identity: You have been bought with a price. You have been taken out of the darkness and brought into life. You used to live and gratify your flesh, but because of Jesus Christ you have a new heart which gives you a new mind. The Gospel is central to your being. You are free in Christ but remember your goal and source of joy is Him. 

2. Ask, “Given my own past experiences and current struggles, is it wise for me to watch this movie, listen to this song, or read this book?  This isn’t a question of what is wise and good for everyone, but what is wise and good for me. Don’t worry about what everyone else does or doesn’t do…this one is about you. The question is… “is it wise for me?” 

3. Is this biblically sinful and would God call this evil? There’s no “well…maybe he would or maybe if you look at it like this” this one is pretty black and white. Does the bible lay this out as a sin? Don’t try to play games with the Bible and make it say something else. And if this is…then you got to ask yourself, “Do you find yourself enjoying and even cheering on what God would consider evil, wicked, and demonic?” If the answer is “yes” then stay away from this…maybe you have to repent from being caught up in it. 

4. Will this movie, song, game, or book enrich my life in some way and lead me towards life with God, or will it diminish my life and lead me away from life with God? There’s a lot of things that really are neutral – meaning, it’s not sinful but Paul will say in 1 Cor. 10:23 “"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.” Yes, there is freedom in Christ…but that doesn’t mean it’s always good to do it. Here’s some good things to think about:

a. Does it dominate my time if I do this? 
b. Am I missing out on another opportunity to grow if I do this? 
c. Am I neglecting other parts of my life by doing this? 
d. Is there any redemptive/eternal value in me doing this? 

Look, in the end we’re not here to kill your joy. However, we are here to keep you accountable for who you are in Christ and what you believe. No Christian has the right to say, “Nobody can tell me what to do!” That simply isn’t true. A true Christian has gladly submitted their life (including what they watch, read, and play) under the authority of Jesus. We’re just here to remind you of what Scripture talks about. So be wise in your technology and media. Be consistent in your biblical worldview, even when it comes to this area. Teach others to do the same…all to the Glory of God and to our joy!

Some Common Questions: 

But shouldn’t I keep up with culture? Yes. Paul actively engages with culture and studies up on culture. However the difference is that Paul readily engages culture for a greater purpose – mainly that of evangelism. And that you must always have in mind. A lot of people just want to use this excuse to consume. Other times they see recent culture references as a good starting point of contact with others…however, the fault is that’s all it is. In the end, if it never gets to a teaching or sanctifying moment, all it becomes is “Hey, look at me and how up-to-date I am.”

Can’t I just do things “for fun”? Perhaps you think we’re out to destroy your joy…that’s not our purpose. We’re not here to tell you what to do and what not to do. In the end, you’re being influenced one way or another through media and technology. The point of those things is to elicit emotions that will, over time, shift your foundational beliefs if you’re not paying attention. So even if you just say, “oh well…it’s just a movie” or “it’s just a song”…you may be right but it’s doing something to you. But for you Christian, we’re commanded to actively engage things that come into our minds and hearts by our senses. Paul writes in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” This is an active thing. 

How should I evaluate movies in the realm of evil?

Does it depict evil in ways that maintain the integrity and truthfulness of the story? 
Does it discourage evil, elevating the good by revealing the nature and consequences of evil?
Does it endorse evil, portraying it as normative and without consequences?
Does it incite us to evil acts (i.e. pornography?) Do you root for evil to be done?
Is the evil just “whatever”, unconnected to the story, unnecessary except to appeal to our baser instincts?  

Monday, February 27, 2012

CBCGB 2012 Winter Retreat: Recap

The Anticipation: One of my friends from seminary (Jen Lin) asked if I would be interested in speaking at her 2012 Winter Retreat. I received an email from her on September 14, 2011 titled, “Doing anything Feb. 24-26? Smiley face smiley face”. It took me 2 hours to check my calendar and replied, “consider it done!” More smiley faces.  This would be her first retreat since becoming the Jr. high pastor there and this would be my first jr. high only retreat to speak at. Needless to say…we were both a bit nervous and excited about the retreat. There were a couple of things that I wanted to do right away: 1) start my homework. I wanted to figure out the theme as soon as possible just so I could begin to pray over the topics and begin studying the passage. 2) I wanted to do my research of the church, the youth, and the leaders. Let me clue you in on how I did this:

1. Once Jen told me that theme was “Ready to Lose” and the verse came out of Philippians 3 I began to pray through the sessions. She told me that I had 4 talks to mold around the vision of “losing everything to follow Christ.” I think I spent the next month praying through the topic and asking God what in the world he would want me to speak to the students about. Then I started to dig through Philippians 3. Starting in verse 7 all the way to verse 14 the text broke down fairly well. Note: I wanted to let the text determine my points and my messages. So as I continued to study the passage, I broke down (as I saw it) into 4 parts – 7-8a; 8b-11; 12; and 13-14. Then with the theme in mind I kept asking, “what is Paul trying to communicate here?” Is there a process of losing? And I saw 4 things: 1) Paul counting all things as lost (even his achievements); 2) Paul suffering for the sake of Christ; 3) Paul striving to know Jesus; and 4) Paul forgetting and straining. From there I spent the next several months really digging into the verses exegetically.  I wanted to make sure I knew the text – each word, main idea, context, commentaries, etc. When it got closer to the retreat…I started asking, “What does this mean for the youth at CBCGB?” Which leads me to #2

2. I think if you’re going to speak to a group of people, you gotta know your audience. At first, my only frame of reference to jr. high kids were the ones at CBC. Now I know those kids because I work with them and I’ve been with them for over 7 months now. They know me and how we do things here…but I had no clue who the students in Boston were like. So I started to research the best way I knew how – facebook. I tried to get as much info on them as possible so I went to Jen’s and Stan’s facebooks and just tried to get an idea of what these kids were like. I also asked Jen through gchat about the students. Questions like: “what kind of students are they? How big is the group? What are some of the challenges that they’re going through?  Where are they at spiritually? How involved are their parents? What is the structure of the church? How about the staff structure? How old is the church and where do they land theologically?” I browsed through facebook pictures of events they went to. Unfortunately, their CBCGB facebook page was a bit lacking so I didn’t get much info from there. Their link though helped a little bit more. I looked through last year’s winter retreat blogs and pictures and registration forms. That helped a bit but there wasn’t much about the theme, what to expect, etc. So after all of this…I had an OK view of my audience…at least enough to feel confident in my messages.

5am Houston to Boston: I remember the week before leaving, the nerves overtook me and part of me was deathly afraid of going to speak. I was scared about everything and the what ifs started to creep up. “What if the kids don’t listen to me? What if the messages don’t make no sense much good? What if the plane crashes and I have to defend myself against a pack of angry wolves without the help of Liam Neeson?” My selfishness told me to stay here where it’s more comfortable. Houston is where everyone listens to me and my youth always pay attention to everything I have to say. But God continued to remind me, “Hey stupid…this is about me, not you, your job is to be faithful to your call and teach and preach to my people…not yours.” And yet again, He won.

5am and Aunt Trudy (one of my admin moms) takes me to the airport. Thanks Aunt Trudy! The plan was to refine the messages a bit more…but I can’t stay awake on planes so I just sleep. Jen picks me up and we just chill out for awhile until we get to church to work on more camp stuff. By the way, if you’re a CBCGB student/leader reading this…just know that Jen doesn’t stop working. She does her best so that you can experience the best possible retreat. Be gracious. That night we do pizza and we crash fairly early.
Retreat 2012: It would take me 209401 pages to write a full report on all that I’ve experience (and you’ll probably won’t read it) so I’ll just do this in bullets…go!

1. Weather: So apparently, 20 degrees is cold. I mean, “I think my blood is frozen” cold. I actually made a last minute decision thanks to Tina to bring my “big” jacket. Again, she saved my life. The day I left Houston, it was 80 degrees. The first night at the retreat it was like 20. And then there was this one kid who wore shorts. Crazy kid.

2. Camp Site: The camp was held in New Hampshire (I think) at a family-owned site  called “Maranatha”. I had several chances to actually meet the family and they’re wonderful people with a tremendous amount of patience and love for youth. So I’m used to retreat sites where it takes 1.7 minutes to get from my cabin to anything else. From the main worship center to the dining room was a 10 minute walk – up a mountain. I think my calves are twice its original size now. Highlights though: beautiful scenery, a blazing fire during meals, and a beverage buffet that was stellar. Oh, and one of the meals we actually ate outside in the snow. Parents, you’re going to love this – so they give pointy sticks to each kid and hot dogs and they get to roast them over these open fire pits. My first thought was “hmmm….shorts kids with sharp sticks running around...i’m going to get stabbed in the eyeball or somewhere worse.”

3. Sessions: I was pretty nervous about speaking…and I think it was more so because I really didn’t know the students all too well. But I kept on remembering the words of encouragement from the youth back at CBC, my discipleship, and my youth leaders. I think I could have refined the messages a lot more…there were times when I felt like I was a bit too dependent on my notes or the powerpoint. I also felt like it could have been a lot more clear and direct. And I guess this is why I continue to love the sovereignty of God, because if he moved in the hearts of the students…it had to be all him. The goal was to be as transparent and honest about the Christian faith as possible. I wanted to communicate that there was a difference between religion and actually following after Jesus. I wanted to challenge them to actually chase Jesus for the sake of joy instead of a duty-driven mentality of begrudging submission. All in all, I believe God used whatever we did there to glorify himself. *if you want to download a copy of the manuscripts, please go to www.cbc-youth.com and under resources and messages will be a copy.

4. Evaluation: I’m hopeful for the youth at CBCGB. I pray that the Lord convicted some of them of their pride, comfort them in the midst of trials and suffering, refocus their priorities on Him and Him alone, and finally helping them understand that the Cross of Christ covers all sins and nobody is out of the love and grace of his love. I pray that the guys there finally take their place and begin developing into godly men and stop acting like little boys. I pray that the youth understand the steps to gospel-centered growth. I think for the ones who really wanted to grow…they got something out of it. I believe there were multiple salvations and many more commitments. One student came up to me and in tears just said, “I think I want to do this.” At first I wasn’t sure what he meant and realized it was about following Jesus. And so I asked him, “You sure? You know what this means right? It’s a total sacrifice and commitment.” And sobbing he nodded yes. “Then you ask him to be your salvation. Ask him to save and grow you.” And as he silently and with great passion asked the Lord to save him…I was just in awe of how great and awesome our Lord is. Understanding theologically everything there is to know about salvation…but seeing it happen right in front of your face. That was a blessing.

5. Counselors: I continue to believe that the backbone of youth ministry is held together by its leaders & counselors. These are the ones who give up everything and demand nothing in return. They are spend everything and are not paid. They sleep little, work lots, and give it their all. These counselors here are no different. I observed them before, during, and after the retreat and my heart was again humbled by these servants. They were asked to drive to camp and back, to shuttle the students up and down the mountain, and stand outside in the freezing cold. Not only did they counsel, they led workshops, discipled, played with, and trained these students. I never heard them complain. In fact, they took the initiative to serve whenever they saw the need. Students, these counselors love you yes…but that love is motivated by the love of Christ. They value the gospel more than anything and because of that it transforms their action. Thank you counselors for serving your guts out this weekend and being a part of the transformative process of these youth. I thank you as a guest for allowing me to partner with you in ministry. If you ever need resources about anything…please let me know. A lot of our leadership training could also be found on our youth website.

I’m extremely gracious for this opportunity. For my youth back at CBC for allowing me to minister to other youth for a weekend and teaching them the things we learn at home. Thank you to my church for giving me these opportunities to be challenged and exercise my gifts. Thank you to Tina for always encouraging me to be better and reminding me that it is about Jesus. Thank you Jen for trusting me to speak to your youth and giving me the chance to minister to them. Thank you CBCGB and Metro West Church for allowing me to pastor you for a bit. Thanks for not throwing anything at me or pranking me. Thanks for being so warm and welcoming to a new person from Texas…and I hope one day soon we get to do this again.

Lastly, youth of CBCGB…do not slow down, do not give up…continue to pursue Christ with all your heart…because he’s so worth it. We at CBC Youth will continue to pray for you – that you play your part well and that one day we get to meet and share stories of how God moved in Boston and in Houston.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Church Game

The Church Game

We've seen this game played out many times in the youth group. It's this warped sense of Christianity that is not true but because we never corrected it or because of straight up rebellion, it has become an unfortunate virus spreading through our churches. We like to call ourselves "Christians" but have we just deceived ourselves? Have we just turned this Christianity thing into a game? There are 7 elements to the church game...and if you're not paying attention, chances are you're already playing it.

John 10:10a "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..."

Here are some tips if you want to play the church game:

1.                   Stay Shallow: Make sure to stay as shallow as possible in your faith. The less effort you put forth in growing the better. Why? Because growing takes too much work and besides, you have better things to do (like beating your friends in games). If you stay shallow, you don't need to have any responsibilities. You can just settle for how things are. And it's not that bad is it? Don't challenge yourself...it's too hard. Plus sometimes it's just awkward right? And surely if you try to grow you'll make things awkward for yourself and others. But make sure you do some things so that you can seem like you have it all together. Just so people won't judge you. The biggest thing is that you make sure you're happy. Just do whatever you want. Things will work themselves out one day. I'm pretty sure you'll get into heaven if you just attend church. Actually...i bet you'll become healthy and wealthy at the same time.

2.                   Be an Island: Whatever you do, don't trust other people. Yes, they may seem like they care...but once you open up to them, they might betray you. Always assume the worst of people. That's why you should only be friends with a small group of people and not open yourself to others. Distance yourself from people. Or at least make sure they talk to you first. There's no need for you to go talk with them. Find people who are exactly like you so that they can always tell you that you're doing well. If anyone says anything negative about you drop 'em like its hot. You don't need that in your life. Besides, they probably have issues themselves too and who are they to judge you. Try not to share your soul with anyone. They might judge you and think you're a sinner. Do your own thing whenever you want to. What matters is that you do what you want to do when you want to do it. I'm sure everyone does that too right? Only be involved in things when it concerns you. But when it doesn't...you can do whatever you want. So make sure your cell phone is ready because when you get bored, you can play.
3.                   You're smarter: Always remember that you have all the answers. You don't need to study or learn after Elementary school because not only have you learned all the Sunday school lessons but because you already know how the world works. People should follow you on facebook and twitter because your opinions are golden. Make sure that you never apologize for whatever you say because you don't need to. You're always right and even if people think you're wrong...chances are that they are wrong or are jealous. Yeah...you don't need to study scripture or theology or doctrine...it's too hard. I mean, you have all these classes that you're taking and plus, it's boring. You don't get any school credit for it nor does it help your GPA. Don't worry about it. Leave it up to other people to deal with it. Ah...but when people try to teach you, make sure you give them your opinion on the matter. They are probably out of date and they probably don't have the same opinions that you have. Oooh, and make sure you don't ask questions - people will think you're dumb. Don't ask for help, you probably don't need it...i mean, i'm sure whatever you think is right.

4.                   Serve Yourself: Remember that you're the center of the universe. I mean the Bible does say that God loves you more than anything right? And his goal in life is to make you happy so he gives you everything so that you can be happy on earth. For God so loved you right? So make sure that whatever money you have...spend it on yourself. I mean, you earned it and why would you give up something you earned. Hold on to that and continue to get as much as you can. When it comes to time, again...you need to do whatever fits your schedule. God created other people for you so make sure they're on your schedule. The most important thing is that you enjoy your life now and worry about the consequences later. Oh yeah, those talents you have...those are your talents. Make sure you use them well so that you can get ahead in life. All those other people are jealous of your talent so make sure you tell them about it. Being a leader means telling people what to do…it really doesn’t apply to you. Just make sure you command people to do what you don’t do. But also make sure you complain about serving if you do it. They need you and in reality, you sacrifice so much to give…why shouldn’t people honor you? You deserve it!


5.                   Submit to No One: Whatever you do, don't submit to anyone. You are your own person and you don't answer to anyone. Everyone is equal so nobody can tell you what to do or how to act. Even when people use the bible to talk to you about stuff...don't listen to them because they're probably using it to judge you and nobody should judge you. Accountability is over-rated. You probably know what's best for your own life so just do whatever you feel like. Everyone is always up in people's business anyway...they don't need to be up in yours. Besides, you don't need more people like your parents in your life telling you what to do and what not to do. They're too old to understand what your life is really about anyway. Don't trust them. They probably just tell you stuff because they don't want you to be happy. Also, you're not held accountable to anyone anyways. Those kids younger than you need to learn the hard way - on their own. That's how you learned. You didn't listen to nobody and look how you turned out. So make sure you don't teach them anything...don't mentor them. It's probably too hard anyways. I mean, they probably won't appreciate you like they should. Plus, it's always too hard to get a hold of them. And i mean, you have too much stuff to do anyways. You don't need that added stress in your life.

6.                   Keep it Secret: Hey...you got saved, that's all that matters. Now that you're saved you're pretty much off the hook and you can do whatever you'd like to do. Don't worry about everyone else out there...the important thing is that you're saved. Those people out there are probably too messed up to be a Christian...so don't worry about them. Besides, i'm sure you don't have the time to go talk to them about it, or i'm pretty sure it'll be crazy awkward. They might think you're a stalker or something. I mean, someone will do it right? It doesn't have to be you. You're too young anyway to make a difference. They probably wouldn't want to talk to you about it even if we went up to them. What would you even say? What if you get the facts wrong? What if you can't answer a question and they think Christianity is stupid? Yeah, you're right...the best thing is probably not to go tell people. I mean, it's not that important anyways. It's not like a requirement or anything. What matters is that you're in...now you can do whatever you want.


7.                   Pray Occasionally: The only time you need to pray is really for meals or when you need God to do something for you. Outside of those things, you can probably handle it on your own. But make sure you know how to pray because when you are forced to pray...you can say some pretty big words to impress people of how spiritual you are. You don't need to pray all the time...just when you feel like it or remember. And if you do pray, make sure to pray only for yourself. Pray that God gives you good grades and makes you happy. Isn't it true that God is waiting to hear from you? Probably because He's lonely or bored. 

Unfortunately, this is the game we've played, are playing, or will play if we don't pay attention. The problem isn't that we're doing this or even think this way...the real problem is that we're missing out on something bigger and better. We sacrifice ultimate joy for what we believe is a better plan. In essence, we say "forget God's way...i know what's best." We play this game because we're prideful and selfish and in the end, we think we know better. And instead of humbly submitting our lives at the feet of Christ and asking him to lead us, we proudly stand on top of the cross and say, "Yeah...don't worry I got this." Is this you? Do you fall into this mentality or this kind of life?

Why do you settle for this Christian? Yes following Jesus is not as easy as we thought…but he’s worth it. But do you believe him? Do you trust him? May your eyes be opened and your hearts be transformed to see that this is nothing near what Christ has called us to. 

John 10:10b “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Status Check

James 2:16 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?

Someone walks into your assembly (a member of the family no less) and there's something that stands out about them. Before you pick up your head to see who came in, you can kind of smell that there's a bit of funkiness that's wafting towards you. You're right - they're dirty. And by the looks of it, the dude doesn't look all that safe...probably hungry too. But that's not your problem. You don't owe him nothing. I mean, who knows...he could have deserved what happened to him. What if he made a series of bad choices...that's on him, not your fault. But wait...he's coming towards you. 

You think, "Man, i didn't want this to happen. Why is there an empty spot next to me? I knew i should have sat somewhere else." But he comes any ways and he slouches down right next to you. He smiles and says, "Hi, you having a good day?" What do you say? You're really trying to hold your breathe from gagging. But you answer, "Yeah. i'm good." You exhale as you look away. But he doesn't stop talking. Doesn't he know that it's service? I'm pretty sure he's distracting everyone around us. I bet people are looking at the two of you now and thinks you're part of the problem too. You're nice though and you politely nod your head while looking down at your hands hoping that he'd shut up and let you worship. 

Last song. Service ends. You made it. The goal is now to leave as fast as possible so the guy doesn't talk to you again. But before you can make your exit, he uncomfortably grabs your arm. Calloused hands. Probably dirty. You cringe. "Hey...can i borrow some cash for a cab ride home? or maybe some money for food?" You look concerned and you tap your pockets, "Sorry. Don't have anything for you." You lied. It's ok though...you probably saved him from buying booze or enabling him to do something sinful. "Sorry...buy i'll be praying for you though." As you leave you feel guilty for a second. But then, you said you'd pray for them and right then and there..."God, please be with that man." All is done...

...or is it? 

Feb. 2012 Youth Praise: Recap

Feb. 2012 Youth Praise: Recap

Philippians 1:27  Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel 

1. Is your life consistent? Following Jesus doesn't restrict itself to only Sundays but it's everywhere you go and whatever you think. Notice something: our lives are already found in the Gospel of Christ...so we want to live a manner of life worthy of it. The heart changes the actions...not the other way around. We want to encourage you to really think through this one...does what i say, how i act, and what i do really reflect what i believe about Jesus?

  • If yes, then how can you continue to grow and challenge yourself to grow even more? 
  • If no, where do you need to confess and repent? What are some areas that are inconsistent? If you feel like you're always struggling with this or if you need to talk with someone please click here:  http://www.cbc-youth.com/contact.html
2. Are you striving side by side? This journey of faith that we've been put on isn't meant to be traveled on alone. Yes, i know some of you are tough and awesome. Yes, i know that some of you have trust issues because someone has burnt you before. But...our faith is symbolized as a "family" and we are to live this out together. What does that mean? Well...it means that we think the best of each other instead of putting each other down. It means we actually do life with each other and we open ourselves up to each other as well. We talk with one another about how things are really going. It also means we look out for one another...1) to help them grow and 2) when they look like they're hurting themselves. What are some ways you can do this here?
  • Attend our weekly gatherings: ACCESS on Fridays, Church Service & Sunday School on Sundays. 
  • Come to DNOW, Java Jam, World Changers, and New York with us. To sign up or get more info click here:  http://www.cbc-youth.com/events.html
  • Call each other up often and check up on them. Text someone you typically don't talk to. Pray with people when you see them. And be patient in doing this because this striving side-by-side takes a long time.
3. What the point? In the end, we want to live the best possible life there is. We learn from Scripture that this life is done best by first and foremost...following after Jesus for all things. Second, we see that it is done with others that have the same goal. Lastly, we do all of this because we believe the Gospel to be real and for us who have experienced its beauty and power...there's nothing else that will do. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

DMin Spring 2012 Syllabus

excited for this semester...

Students will focus on the concepts of worldview and culture to enable more effective ministry to a 21st century milieu and how to proclaim God’s word to that culture.

In this course the student will:

·         Be able to lead a study on worldview concepts.
·         Interact with competing worldviews.
·         Be able to discuss events and movements in history in light of the historical record including critical analysis of their relationship to other concepts and movements.
·         Interpret contemporary issues within Christianity in light of the context of Biblical truth, theological orthodoxy, philosophical considerations and church history.
·         Be confident in standing on the Word of God despite any culture shifts.
·         Demonstrate the ability to think historically and critically about these issues.
·         Understand basics of effective rhetorical argumentation
·         Be able to exercise theological and methodological discernment.
·         Engage thinking on worldview as it applies to ministry.
·         Learn from those who have journeyed before us in the adventure of faith.