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Transitions

As I sit here in my office (Jr. High Office) I can’t help but look back on the past two and half years and be so thankful for the training that I have received. One of the marks of a great leader is that they understand that both churches and companies are ever-changing and ever-growing organisms. Business and income may be up, attendance on a Sunday morning worship service may be at an all-time high, or the opposite may take place. Church attendance may be down, or business profits may have plummeted. Regardless change and transition is a healthy part of life. God never intended for our walks of faith to be stagnant and stale. Instead, our walks with Him are more of a rollercoaster ride that is always seeking the summit. Sure, there may be ups and downs, but ultimately the climb continues.

Today marks my first day in a new position at First Evangelical Free Church of Rockford. And while I am grateful for this opportunity, it is hard to say “see you later” to a mentor and best friend that has meant a great deal to both my wife and me. This is not meant to be an epilogue that draws this time to a close. No… it’s meant to be a “Thank You” to a friend that has had an amazing impact on my life as well as thousands of others (Yes! I mean thousands) for the Kingdom of God. Transitions are a part of life, handing off the baton and picking up another. Great leaders know how to duplicate themselves and pass the baton when they know the time is right. This is now a new season of ministry for both my mentor and I. And as he put it in an encouraging note to me: “and now we get to divide and conquer… doing anything short of sin to see teens enter His Kingdom.”

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Thursday night post on a Friday morning.

Posted on June 22, 2012
 

 

One of the most meaningful things that Luke is blessed to do on this trip is to help the students in their profession of faith. Something that he makes sure they understand prior to making this decision to be baptized is that they know that it isn’t the baptism itself that brings about salvation. Rather that it is an outward symbol of an inward reality. So the following is a brief attempt to try to capture those two sides of a really awesome proclamation.

Outward Symbols:

Nestled in the hills, in a field surrounding by a forest of trees, a boy and a girl come forward to the pool. There are witnesess made up of friends and teachers along the waters edge. A few bystanders have come to the fence to watch in the heat of the mid-morning sun. The birds sing and the wind blows. A preacher reaches for his Bible and the boy wades to meet him in the shallow water. Questions of the Faith are asked. Testimony is shared, and the boy says with confidence, that he wants to do this to obey, because it is what Jesus commands us. The preacher reads. The onlookers listen intently and watch with understanding eyes. Then the arms are crossed , Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are named, the boy is submerged in the water and comes up soaked and smiling.

Now the girl. She walks gingerly towards the steps and descends to the place where the other stood. She breathes deep. The same questions are asked, a different story of the same redemption is shared, and Scripture is read over her life as well. Again, the arms are crossed. She is brought down in the same 3 names, and rises up to breath, rises back up into the sun and the smiles she has brown to know as family. The birds continue their song.

Inward Reality:

A boy and a girl and their preacher and peers all had sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God stepped in and where their sin abounded-His grace abounded even more in the sending of His only son. Who being fully God and fully man, was the perfect sacrifice that came to die and then rose again for that boy and that girl and their preacher and peers. And to all who call upon as Savior and Lord for the redemption of that sin are cleansed. The water washes over us. The heart is made clean, made new, as new as His daily mericies. Dead in sin, laid to rest, brought back up to new life in Christ, new life in the Son with His Holy Spirit ever present in us. THIS is baptism. Jesus washing away all our sin.

And today, a boy and a girl wanted to share what He has done in their hearts with anyone who would watch and listen. And we were blessed to witness this reminder.Image

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach at my church on teens being an amazing gift to families. Not only the biological families, but also the family of God. We’ve all heard the saying: “perception is reality”, and at times our perceptions of teens become the reality. The sermon consisted of three perception changing realities that we learn from the mentoring relationship that Paul had with Timothy. Paul was a man that understood that maybe perception isn’t reality when it comes to teens being a crucial gift to the church not only for the future, but also for today.

Three Perception Changing Realities:

1) Teens are Faithful to Christ (1 Tim. 1:18-20)

  • This portion of Scripture the Apostle Paul was reminding Timothy to “fight the good fight”, “hold fast to the faith”, “keep a good conscience”. Timothy was a young church leader that understood the importance of being faithful to Christ, and he lived that out in his daily life.

Practical Steps for Parents/Guardians:

  1. Encourage your teen to become a vital part of the church. 
  2. Remember… spiritual growth is a process.
  3. Remember… spiritual maturity is born out of struggle. 
  4. Never stop praying for your teen.

2) Teens Care for Others (Phil. 2:19-22)

  • Paul is reminding the church in Philippi that Paul has no one else like Timothy who genuinely cares for the concerns and interests of others. Teens are still the same today… they care for social justice issues, and show genuine car/concern for people they don’t even know.

Practical Steps for Parents/Guardians:

  1. Do service projects with your son or daughter.
  2. Serve at church together in some capacity.

3) Teens Want and Need our Help. (1 Tim. 6:11-16)

  • Paul is giving Timothy his final instructions as he closes this letter, and reminding Timothy to “fight the good fight.” Paul then closes with a reminder to the greatness of God the Father and the supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Teens want and need our help, and if they aren’t getting it from us, they are going to go elsewhere. They are going to go to their peers, media, culture, etc. We need to be sure that we are fulfilling the model that is set before us in Deut. 6.

Practical Steps for Parents/Guardians:

  1. Be all that you desire them to be.
  2. Know their world.
  3. Be prophetic.

I would encourage you to stay up to date with the culture of teens in your life. A great resource for this that I’ve come across is a book entitled: The Space Between (A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Development) By: Dr. Walt Mueller. A majority of the practical steps from this sermon came from this book.       https://i0.wp.com/fpcfresno.org/wp-content/uploads/space-between-mueller.jpg

Discipling Urban Youth

For Times of Desperation

This past weekend I had the opportunity to preach my first sermon at First Free. It was a great honor and privilege to be able to preach for an amazing passage and a woman that had left a legacy of faith in her time of desperation. With that being said, I would like to share the outline from this past weekends sermon.

“Pain is often in the equation of righteousness.” – Dr. Rusty Hayes

“One of the great uses of twitter and facebook will be to prove that on the last day that prayerlessness was not from a lack of time.” – John Piper

Objective Sentence: “Every follower of Christ can learn to pray in times of desperation by following four actions from Hannah’s life.”
1. Identify the PROBLEM. (1 Sam. 1:1-8)
– In times of desperation we need to be sure to get to the root of the problem.
2. Present it in PRAYER. (1 Sam. 1:9-18)
– The first place that we go I’m our times of desperation is to our Heavenly Father.
3. Have hope in His PROMISE. (1 Sam. 1:18-28)
– Despite all of the things that were able to bring Hannah to her time of desperation, she did
NOT give up hope.
– InHannah’s time of desperation… The LORD remembered her (1 Sam. 1:19b). He also
remembers you!
4. Rest in His PRAISE. (1 Sam. 2:1-2)
– Hannah was able to rest in praising God, knowing that He alone is our omnipotent deliverer I
times of desperation.

It tells us in the beginning of this passage that “year after year” Hannah went to the temple and was in desperation praying and crying out to God. And as Hannah learned we too should learn, that God is at work.

“Unanswered prayer may indicate that the Lord is at work on a much larger scale than we can imagine.” – Ginger Garrett

In closing… The amazing aspect of this prayer is that Hannah went to God, and she got God.

I pray that this will be a help in our times of desperation.

Perseverance

When I was in 8th grade I remember trying out to make the travel team for our bantam hockey league in St. Cloud, MN. Growing up in Minnesota, if you were a guy and didn’t play hockey there had to be something wrong with you. I remember showing up to tryouts and saying to myself that it was in the bag. There was no way that I wouldn’t be picked to be a part of the travel team for the year. Well, as I’m sure you already guessed… I didn’t make that travel team, but I remember a talk with my dad that he shared about perseverance and that changed my perspective on what it means to persevere.

The truth is that there are going to be times in all of our lives that we are going to need to persevere. I know that not making the bantam travel team wasn’t the end of the world, but try telling that to an 8th grader whose friends are all on that team. Last Wednesday night at HeartBeat Junior High we took a closer look at what God’s Word tells us about perseverance. We took a closer look at some thoughts that the Apostle Paul had shared with the church in Corinth.

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

There were four primary questions that we set out to answer last Wednesday night:

  1. What Does the Bible Say? RUN TO GET THE PRIZE (9:24) We have all heard the expression: “practice like you play in the game.” The same goes true for our Christian walk. The times that things are going well we need to be sure that we are practicing and taking advantage of those times, so that when it comes time to persevere there is no doubt that with the help of God we will be successful.
  2. What Was Learned? I MUST LEARN TO PERSEVERE (9:25) We need to be sure to teach ourselves how to persevere and overcome what may come our way. At times we must even give up something good in order to do what God wants. With the goal of pleasing God the things in life that we are called to deny will seem like nothing once we obtain our eternal reward.
  3. How Can I Persevere?
  • RUN WITH PURPOSE (9:26) Satan is going to throw obstacles in the way as we try to run the race. However, it is crucial that we run with purpose and the intent that nothing will take our eyes off of the prize. We need to be sure that we are running with purpose and the end in mind.
  • DISCIPLINE YOURSELF (9:27) Paul tells us that he goes through great measures to discipline his body, with the fear that if he doesn’t he may not be able to reach the goal that he has set before him. It is important to note that when Paul says that he might be disqualified, he means that he could lose the privilege of telling others about Christ. Note: it is easy to tell others how to live and then not take our own advice. We must be careful to practice what we preach.)
  • HAVE A CLEAR GOAL We need to be sure of exactly what we are trying to accomplish and make sure that we have made steps to accomplish that goal. If a person woke up one morning and said that they were going to run a marathon that same day, they would be laughed at and more than likely not be able to run a half-marathon. However, if that person plans accordingly and sets up a routine to put into practice for the proper amount of time it takes to train for a marathon, their chances of completing the marathon are highly likely. Be sure that you not only set a goal, but that you also incorporate steps to complete that goal.

Thought for the Week: WHAT GOALS DO I HAVE? Ask yourself this week… “what goals do I have” are there ambitions in your life? are there visions for your future so big that you wouldn’t be able to achieve them without the help of God? This is what it means to do something of Biblical proportion. There are numerous stories throughout Scripture that great men and women of the Bible set out to achieve goals, that can only be achieved through the help of a sovereign God.

Behind the Blog

I was told by a friend that everyone needs to have a digital footprint in todays society. With that being said this blog will be that for me. This blog is intended to engage the readers in something more, and will also be a follow-up to some of the lessons that I will be teaching to the Junior High students at the First Evangelical Free Church of Rockford (http://www.firstfreerockford.org). This is the first post on this blog, and the intention of this first post is to simply state the purpose. Next week I will be speaking on a series entitled “School Dayz.” The focus of this series is to relate living the Christian life to students while they are sitting at their desks in the classroom, sitting in the cafeteria, and playing on the field. The focus next week will be “On the Field.” Stay tuned for more posts and follow up on the lesson.