English Camp Message Transcript/Outline: Day 6

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Friday: ONE CHURCH                  

Thanks for making my birthday awesome! I felt so loved! I think this is the best birthday I’ve ever had! I’m serious! The only other one that might compare was when I turned nine and I got a “teddy bear hamster” for my birthday…but then I remembered it escaped a few months later and when we moved I found it’s skeleton in the basement…and that was traumatic…so…I’d say this is DEFINITELY the best birthday ever!! But seriously, you guys have been so loving and encouraging this week-I’m really thankful for you!

  • The whole Bible agrees, our God is the ONLY GOD and our God is an AWESOME GOD.
  • Our ONE PASSION should be the same as GOD’S and that is for his GLORY.
  • Out of his great LOVE for us, God mercifully sent JESUS CHRIST to be our ONE SAVIOR.
  • The ONE DECISION to be part of God’s FAMILY changes our entire IDENTITY.
  • To glorify God with our ONE LIFE, we must DISCIPLINE ourselves for GODLINESS.
  • To serve the ONE CHURCH-both universal and local-introduce people to Jesus and help them follow Him.

Tonight I am going to talk to you a little bit about ONE CHURCH, and then I am going to give you my final words of advice.

  1. Introduction- In scripture the word “church” used to describe 2 different things. There are times where it is talking about the “Universal Church” meaning all believers in Jesus Christ ever–or the “local church” meaning an organized group of believers at a specific time and place who meet together regularly.
  2. First let’s talk about the “local church”-you need to both attend and serving a local church
    1. If you saw an eye on the sidewalk out here…AHH! That’s gross! It belongs on a body!
    2. What if I wore an eye patch all the time? Look like I should be in the Pirates of the Caribbean! And said, I just don’t feel like using my right eye.
      1. That’s stupid!
      2. Even if it’s not the prettiest, or perfect vision…it still works-use it!
    3. God’s word says the same things about being part of a local church.
      1. If you are a believer you are part of the “body of believers” and you NOT being in a church is GROSS!
      2. AND you not serving the body with the gifts and abilities God has given you because “you’re not the best” or “you don’t feel like it” are super lame and dumb reasons!
  • 1 Corinthians 12: 14-20 “14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.”
  1. God chose to create local churches for us here on earth. He wants you to be a part of one. To serve and to build relationships with them and to learn about Jesus.
    1. You should be serving in a local church-
      1. Take leadership and start a new ministry within your church!
        1. Use the gifts God gave you!
        2. Be creative!
      2. and if you’re church for some reason will not allow you—you should be serving the universal Church
    2. Both the universal church and the local church: The point of Church is Jesus
      1. The church is not a building that we retreat from the world…it is where we suit up with armor to go into a broken world to bring people to Jesus!
      2. 1 Colossians 1:15-18 “He is the image ofthe invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
        1. Jesus is the head of the church-He is to be #1 things church is about!
        2. You need to be in a church that helps you follow Jesus. You have to put forth the work!
          1. Ask your pastor if he can help you find a mentor- to help you love Jesus more
          2. Serve ANYWHERE YOU can! To be a servant LIKE Jesus was!
  • Doesn’t have to have the best music or coolest youth group-they just have to genuinely love Jesus
  1. If you find a church, but it does not preach Jesus…that is not a church. Leave and find one that does love him.
  2. The church is people introducing people to Jesus and helping them follow him
  1. We are all part of God’s universal church: and it WILL NOT fail.
    1. I know many of you get discouraged explain or convince your unbelieving friends or family of God.
    2. Don’t be! Keep praying! Keep sharing truth! Don’t give up!
  • Because we have a great and powerful God!
  1. Matthew 16:18
    1. Simon says Jesus is the son of God. Jesus responds, “And Jesus answered him,“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock2 I will build my church, and the gates of lhell3 shall not prevail against it.”
  2. You don’t have to be afraid. God’s word says the Father in Heaven opens peoples eyes to who Jesus is-and people WILL become believers!
    1. Just be faithful
      1. Share the gospel!
      2. Evangelism! Invite to church
      3. YOU are the one with the power of the Holy Spirit in you! NOT THEM! What do they have? Nothing!
    2. So in review…
      1. Use your gifts in a local church that loves Jesus. Remember that the universal church is created and sustained by our good heavenly father, and do not be discouraged in sharing your faith.
        1. To serve the ONE CHURCH-both universal and local-introduce people to Jesus and help them follow Him.
      2. Challenge: FIND A JESUS LOVING CHURCH: SERVE IN THE JESUS LOVING CHURCH, and don’t be afraid to STORM the gates of hell for the growth of the universal church (meaning all believers).

So then I was thinking about how this is my last chance to talk to you! I with this last opportunity to speak what else do I say?

This word: FIGHT.

Our enemy, the devil, would love to defeat you with these temptations and bring you down, but FIGHT my FRIENDS! Fight because you have the power of the Holy Spirit in you, and in 1 Corinthians 10:13 God’s word says that “God is faithful, he will not tempt you beyond what you can bear, but…he will provide a way out”

Life is hard. Temptations are strong, and the devil is cunning. BUT PLEASE, DO NOT GIVE UP OR GIVE IN. Find a local church to help you, be disciplined in your time with God and as Paul tells us in 1st and 2nd Timothy, FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT of the faith.

When you are tempted to give in to sin of pornography or sex: FIGHT FOR PURITY.

When you are tempted to wallow in self-loathing, depression, or anxiety: FIGHT FOR JOY.

When you are discouraged by unbelief, and don’t know if you can trust the Bible: FIGHT FOR FAITH.

When you are tempted to be lazy, ignore God, and turn to this world for comfort…FIGHT FOR LOVE.

I think we all have things in our life that we have to fight. Each person’s is different, but everyone has something. I have to FIGHT hard against some things. I have failed and continue to fail so much. But I FIGHT. I will never give in. I will never let the devil have the last punch. I will ALWAYS FIGHT. Because I know my relationship to God is worth fighting for.

Think about what your struggle, your sin, or your temptation will be when you go back home. Know that CHRIST has already paid for that sin. There is NO condemnation for it for those who are part of God’s family. You don’t have to drown in shame or guilt-he loves you, he’s forgiven you-but he deeply doesn’t want you to hold onto that painful sin. Christ brings freedom from those emotions. And the Holy Spirit brings STRENGTH. The Holy Spirit is who is convicting you of this struggle right now. He is the one telling you to fight, and who will continue to tell you to fight.

We have a cross here in the center of the hall. A cross that reminds us that Christ is ENOUGH for us. That his blood on the cross means we are FORGIVEN and LOVED by God. The cross tells us that our sin is paid for-not just some of it-ALL OF IT. And for that we PRAISE THE LORD. And with that praise-filled, thankful heart-we know that we don’t want to hold on to the sin that keeps us from loving God well. We want to fight it. We want to kill it. So we are going to sing worship songs and I invite each of you to go to the cross, and write down on the paper provided the sin or temptation or struggle that you are holding onto-that you want to fight and kill. And then we have hammers and nails and we want you to take that paper and, just like I savior was, nail it to the cross. Nail it to the cross to remind yourself that HE BORE the punishment for that sin, and that God has COMPLETELY forgiven you for it. And nail it to the cross to remind you that THAT is where your sin can stay-not in your life. You don’t have to carry it, the Holy Spirit can give you strength to fight it. And when it comes into your life, trying to temp you to take it back again, remember the pounding of the nail, and know that CHRIST died for that sin so that you will live in RIGHTEOUSNESS (verse).

[campers go]

Christ is enough for us.

Campers, I am so thankful to have been here this week with you. Thank you for listening so well to me, and for all of your encouragement. I will be praying for you this year! On your way out tonight you are going to receive a sticker to remind you of the truths you learned this week about ONE God, one passion, one savior, one decision, one life, and one church. And I will be praying that is a constant reminder of what you left behind here, on the cross, and the truths that you are taking with you.

Feeling Lost?

 

Imagine you are hiking through the woods trying to get to the nearest town. But you are lost and confused and you feel like you are walking in circles. It’s been weeks, and you are just as deep in the woods today as you were when you thought of your first brilliant game plan to get out of there asap!

Fortunately for you, you meet a guide in the woods. He explains that if you take this trail, it’ll lead you to a crossroads in a clearing where there will be a sign explaining which direction to go next to get to town. He hands you a backpack full of things you need to survive and thrive during this journey. A compass, a canteen with fresh water, a flashlight, bug spray, matches, and even a walkie talkie! He assures you that he knows these woods well, and he’ll always have his walkie talkie on him if you ever have any questions. You are overjoyed at his help!  You are feeling awesome about this journey and confident that you will get to the next clearing soon. Off you go.

The first few days you do pretty well. The trail is as clear as the sky and you barely break a sweat. You gleefully use your compass, and even walkie talkie your guide to see if the berries you’ve stumbled across are safe to eat (you’ve seen Hunger Games-you aren’t taking any chances). A short time passes and you stop using the contents in your backpack-you think you know the drill pretty well by now! But shortly after, the way starts to get more difficult. You are constantly swarmed by six legged pests, trapped in prickly thickets, covered in mud and blood, and oh so weary. Day after day you continue on, wondering if you are lost, confused why the way is so treacherous, and losing hope that you’ll ever get to that clearing. The nearest town feels farther away now than it ever has.

And then, one moment while lapping up muddy stream water for a drink, scratching a bug bite the size of a melon on your leg, and trying to find the best rock flint to start a fire with later tonight, you remember the backpack you’ve been given. You feel like an idiot. You have all these resources to help the journey, and you have been ignoring them! The trail would still have been difficult, but if you would have used what was given to you, much pain, discomfort, and discouragement could have been avoided.

I feel like I am on a pretty difficult journey right now. I look forward with hopeful expectation to one day getting out of the woods, but for now I am just looking for the next clearing-a crossroads that will show me the next step. I have a Guide who is brilliant, and loving, and perfect, and always accessible. He has given me tools while journeying to best survive-His Word-a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, the precious gift of communication with God through prayer, the joy and comfort of worshipping  the giver of the stream of living water that will never run dry, godly counsel– who through knowing and loving the Guide well for years can impart wisdom and comfort that will help protect me from all kinds of harm, and so much more.

Yet I far too often journey with a backpack full of items not being used. I keep the fresh canteen in my bag and drink the dirty water the world offers.

As believers we must use the tools the Lord has given us. They are for our own good, and yet we ignore them? The ramifications of doing so are personal and foolish yes, but also what does it say to our fellow travelers who don’t have a “backpack”? It says that they are pointless and they are worthless, and no wonder they don’t ask where it came from-they don’t see us value what’s inside!

So friend, passionately use the tools God has given you to get through this life. It may still be very difficult, but He has graciously given us exactly what we need to navigate every step, every day. And maybe, as you obediently depend on the graces that God has given you, He will bring other travelers in your life who need the see the blessings that knowing the Guide brings-what a joy that is!

Pinterest, Einstein, and Cupcakes

I saw this pin on Pinterest (a VERY reliable source) that quotes Albert Einstein in saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Quote: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Eistein ||| Keep it simple.

And I really like this quote because I see this challenge every week when I teach a bible lesson to my Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders in Awana. I have to take what I know and love about depravity, election, propitiation, and the metanarrative of Scripture and boil it down to truth that their baby teeth can chew.

Last week was a lot of fun at Awana. After “Game Time”, I asked “Snack Time” to be postponed and quickly funneled them all into “Lesson Time”. After singing a few choruses with them, I stood in front of about twenty 5-7 year olds and began slowly eating a delicious looking snack time cupcake.

Every single adorable eye was glued on me and that cupcake as I took bite after bite. I asked them (with a mouth full of cake) “Are you guys a little hungry?” They all nodded their little heads quickly. “Do you wish you could have a cupcake?” “Yes, uh hu, oh yes” they responded. With their eyes still glued on me I asked, “Wouldn’t we all feel pretty awful if I had cupcakes for myself but not for any of you guys tonight? That I didn’t have enough to share? And there was no way I could get more?” Their audible groans and looks of terror and panic filled the room. I broke character; they are too cute to torment! I quickly explained that luckily I have PLENTY of cupcakes to share, and everyone can have one. As they delightedly were handed their chocolate cupcakes with green icing and sprinkles I read from the Jesus Storybook Bible, the story of Jesus Feeding the 5,000.Crème de Menthe Frosting (for St. Patty's Day) ~    Here's a delightful recipe you can make for Saint Patrick's Day.   Start with a chocolate cake mix and prepare two dozen cupcakes according to the package directions. Use green or holiday-themed liners to add some fun!  Recipe @  http://www.susannahskitchen.com/2012/03/recipe-creme-de-menthe-frosting.html

Afterwards, we talked about the details of the story, making sure they were listening and comprehending, and how fortunately there was enough food for everyone there to eat (hence the purpose behind the cupcake torture). Then I reminded them of a basic hermeneutical truth (though I haven’t taught them that word yet) and that was to find out what the passage is saying about God.

I reminded them that this is not a story primarily about sharing– the little boy is not who we should walk away talking or thinking about. Though sharing is a good thing I don’t want kids to go home and tell their parents that that is the thing they learned from the Bible tonight. Instead we should see two awesome, amazing, wonderful things-:1.)the deity of Christ (KIDS,-JESUS IS GOD! LOOK AT THAT MIRACLE!) and 2.) the provision of God the Father (HE WILL ALWAYS GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED! IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT YOU DON’T NEED IT!)

And I go back to good ol’ Albert’s quote that I mentioned in the beginning to say that each time I teach I am wonderfully challenged with how to teach God’s truths to these beautiful, young minds. I want to make sure that I am not just promoting moralism, but that I understand how the gospel permeates and interweaves into every inch of Scripture and of life.  And that is a lesson I think we ALL need to hear. As you are (and I am!) in the Word, remember to not just think about “what’s in this for me?” though of course that is important, but to first ask, “What does this teach me about God?” and then praise Him for that thing!

(p.s. this is a great website for lesson help! http://ministry-to-children.com/lessons/)

Jesus as my Boyfriend?

About five years ago, I was enjoying worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, when something happened that forever changed how I viewed my treatment of Christ. There she stood on our chapel stage in her classic scarf and boot combo and said a phrase that sent chills up and down my dogmatic spine, “During this next worship song, just think of Jesus as your boyfriend”.

Jesus.

As my boyfriend.

Jesus.

Son of God.

Messiah.

Savior of the World.

My boyfriend.

Well, I was gone. I have no idea what the song was-I wasn’t singing it-my mind was racing with all the poor theological implications and ridiculous ramifications of treating the Bread of Life as your boyfriend, the Deliverer as your dinner date, and the Second Adam as a simple suitor!

A dear, dear friend from back home was visiting me in Lancaster that weekend (woot woot! Shout out to Amber!) and I, knowing and trusting her doctrinally solid mind-sinfully, and pridefully told her the fateful tale of scarf girl and her foolish “think of Jesus as your boyfriend” proposal. But instead of joining me in my frustration and woes, she rebuked me! What? Rebuked! Yes. She flat out told me to get off my high theological horse and take the suggestion for what it was-a different way to look at how you treat Jesus Christ. I could tell that she could still see my apprehensivity, because that is when she suggested that I wrote a letter to Jesus as if I was his girlfriend. Despite my strong skepticism, I decided to take her up on her challenge. With journal in hand, I started out a letter to “J” ( I couldn’t bring myself to actually call him Jesus) and once I started writing I was actually surprised with what I came up with. Some of the points I wrote about included the following confessions:

  • When we first started dating, I would get so excited when I heard stories about you, but now that it’s been a while…I almost get bored with the stories about you.
  • I often just skim over the letter you’ve written, and don’t really value what you have to say to me. Especially when it’s not about ME.
  • When you are talking to me, if I don’t understand what you are saying…instead of asking you what you mean, I just figure whatever you were saying, it wasn’t that important.
  • I know sometimes I purposefully ignore your calls or text messages.
  • Many times I’d rather spent time with other people than time just with you.
  • I don’t allow for a lot of time when we are one on one. Usually, I throw in a quick phone call before bed, or on my way to work-but having long, meaningful conversations with you don’t happen as often as they should.
  • Sometimes in groups, I’d rather pretend we weren’t dating. I mean, I don’t cheat on you per se-but I certainly don’t mention that you are in a relationship. Sometimes your name just doesn’t come up in conversation.
  • Sometimes when you are talking to me, I am super distracted-and constantly checking my phone, as if I’d be somewhere else.
  • I care more about what other people think about me so often that what you think. Especially in my appearance. I want others to think I’m physically attractive, but don’t believe you when you tell me that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I roll my eyes at you.
  • I ask for other people’s opinions before yours.
  • I am constantly making plans without telling you, or asking you if you want to be included.

I apologized over and over again, while admitting though I want to do better-I’ll never be able to give him what he truly deserves. I ended the letter by explaining to him, that I totally understand if he were to break up with me. I deserve it. I am the WORST girlfriend EVER.

But here’s the thing- I know he won’t. He won’t give up on me. He won’t leave me.

And what the letter writing brought me to see in new light is this: we would NEVER want to treat our significant other like that. Boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend/spouse-it would be ABSURD for our relationship to look like what I described above. So why is it so acceptable for me to treat Christ like that? When I understand how lowly I am, and understand how good he is to me despite that lowliness, when I see how beautiful his love for me is-his commitment and his gracious patience-it should propel me to change! I want to be better to him-because my oh my does he more than deserve it! How lucky I am! I don’t deserve him! I want to spend more time with him so I can be more like him because he is nothing short of amazing.

So though at first, I didn’t see the value in thinking about Christ in this way-and I do believe it can be dangerous if taken any further, I was really blessed by processing in this manner. It is absolutely MIND BLOWING that despite all my foolishness and insensitivity to him-he still is committed to me. That even though I am faithless, He remains faithful. Even though I treat him so poorly, he still is going to pursue me, and choose to call me his girl. Seeing that truth should change the way I treat him.

So, do I regularly think of Jesus of my boyfriend? Nah.  But I do see value in using earthly relationship terms to see how Jesus treats me, and how I treat him.  I hope this convicts and encourages you to love him better-because he is awesome. An awesome boyfriend…eh…I’m still a little uncomfortable with that. But an awesome Savior? Oh yes.