Here’s a quick review of what’s been going on at NCPC Youth

Forgive me, but it’s been WAY too long.  I wanted to use this as an avenue for in home discipleship.  And, well…its funny how things can slip through the cracks.  But without further ado: here’s what was discussed in SS as well as Sunday night.

 

  1.  Sunday School this past week was about sifting through the ideas, attitudes, and views that come at us.  These ideas and attitudes from the world need to be tested.  So, the verse we really gave our attention to was 1 Thess. 5:21: “But test everything, hold fast to what is good.” I used the image of Thomas sifting through his sandbox with his toys looking for toy treasure.  That is our call as believers, particularly teenagers.  We are called not believe everything that reaches our ears.  Test everything! And how do we test these ideas?  Allow these attitudes, views, and other things to pass through the lenses of Scripture.  This goes for the teenager who has the Ipod earbuds in 24/7 as well as the non-teenager who can’t seem to switch the TV off of Fox news 24/7.  We need to be a people who are sifters, keeping what Scripture aligns with and rejecting that which it doesn’t.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 search
  2. Sunday night, we discussed Mark 8.  This is the classic passage where Peter makes that triumphant declaration, “You are the Christ!” (Mark 8:27-38)  What do we learn from this passage?  Well, you simply cannot place certain expectations on Jesus.  If you are expecting Him to direct your life in ways which bring you more comfort, more temporal happiness, more popularity, you will be REALLY disappointed.  Also, it is worth noting that Jesus immediately spoke of suffering right after talking with Peter about his expectation of the Messiah. Also, we wound up talking about what true forgiveness looks like.  The truth is this: whenever there’s sin, there will be a person/ group paying for that sin.  Ever see the trial where the guy gets off scot free?  The victim’s family is stuck with the emotional cost.  That’s what I mean.  So, we follow a Savior who suffered, and then tells us to suffer!                                                                                                                                      imgres-2

The podcast feed is here if you want to hear the lesson from Sunday night in its entirety:

 

OUR PODCAST!

What we’ve been discussing

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This sort of goes along with both Sunday morning and Sunday evening.  In Sunday School, we have started a series called #struggles based on the book by Craig Groeschel.  Sunday evening, we are in the book of Daniel.  In both lessons, we deal with the idea of living as social creatures.

In Daniel 4, Daniel must tell the king what his dream meant.  His dream meant that he would go nuts-have the mind of an animal for a period of time- and then be restored. All this would happen because of the king’s pride.  Daniel was the man who would break the news to the guy.

And that brings me to you and to me.  We are the church.  And as much as I dislike the buzzwordy culture that can happen in American evangelicalism right now- we are, in fact, a people of community. See, there are things about me that I have no idea that I do that are not pleasing to God. Ok, maybe I do have an idea about them- but I need people who love me enough to be Daniel.  I need people committed to seeing me grow in Christlikeness, no mater the cost.  They might lose the temporal comfort of good relations with me, and they’re willing to take that risk.  Likewise, I am to be this to others.

That’s where a LOT of sanctification takes place.  Daily devotions are big- hearing the word preached is big, sacraments are big- and community is big too! Yet, we sacrifice these loving encounters at the altar of relational comfort.  We’d rather not rock the boat and as a consequence we sometimes don’t thrive in our faith and devotion to Jesus.

(And yes, this is to be done in charity, not wielding a righteous sword in the name of each others’ sanctification)

What does that really have to do with social media #struggles? Everything.  If not used properly, social media only encourages a facade-like relationship with everyone.  Sure, we ‘like’ them behind a computer screen, but do we really KNOW them? If that’s the nature of all of our relationships with each other; the chances are slim to none that there will be enough care and concern to call sin out in other peoples’ lives.

Let’s not get this twisted though (too far, too much contextualization, my apologies).  This isn’t a call to throw the phones out the window in Jesus’ Name. My mind races back to throwing CD’s into a bonfire in the early 90’s as part of a youth group activity.  (Was it the CD that was the problem or the heart that craved the immoral messages of the CD?) We must love each other, and be close enough to each other that we’re not scared to call sin in each others’ lives…redemptively and lovingly. And we can still do that, while posting stuff on Instagram, so long as we keep everything in its proper context.

 

 

Sports nuts and the drive for a covenantal head

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I’ll be the first to admit this; a week ago I was bothered that a rival college football team won.  Add to the fact that my own team  kinda stinks  is less than perfect right now and for some reason, my affection system is really out of whack.

Ah-but I really know why.  Truth be told, there’s a reason why many people can have their emotions sky rocket and then descend to sheol on a given Saturday afternoon.  There’s a reason why we can become inordinately attached to a team and use personal possessive pronouns when describing them, “we” “our”.  We?  Our?  I don’t remember putting the uniform on and getting dirty with them but…for some strange reason, I want to use ‘we’ and ‘our’. Here’s the reason; in my desperation to cover my brokenness, I will look for anything  to represent me.  I will look for anything, besides myself, to do this.  I will look for anything to attach my name to so that an onlooking world will say, “Now there’s a winner!” Adam and Eve played that game with fig leaves and we kind of giggle.  I do it with an inflated piece of pig skin.

But, it’s quite sad on another level.  People live and die scouring the message boards to see any hint of their team’s superiority.  They go to their rival’s message board to poke fun and think, “Thank God I’m not like those ….(fill in the blank)- I’m a……(fill in the blank).  Crazy if you really think about it; my life and personal worth can be determined by the athletic abilities of complete strangers competing against other strangers.  This is nothing short of looking for a covenantal head-which is how we are wired in the first place.

Couple of things to think through, in Puritan style

Question:  Why do I choose to have this as my mood altering representative and not Jesus?

Answer:  It requires less faith and is something more tangible.

I think we as a society have this insatiable need to follow teams now more than ever for this reason.  In all our advancements, we still can’t get past the fact that we’re incredibly broken.  It’s a brief, albeit fading and idolatrous, way to feel like a somebody.

Resolved: Turn my affections to Christ with much vigor and leave the fleeting world of would be representative covenantal heads

Those Puritans knew what they were talking about

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Jeremiah Burroughs wrote an amazing sermon which became a sort of booklet called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. One of the portions of it deals with the sometimes secret and sometimes revealed will of God’s taking measures in the lives of His people. What he says is beautiful. It presents the Lord accurately, as a good Father who does whatever it takes to gain the affections of His children. Read and be blessed.

“Lamentations 3:24: ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul’, why should you not be satisfied and contented like God? God is contented, he is in eternal contentment in himself; now if you have that God as your portion, why should you not be contented with him alone? Since God is contented with himself alone, if you have him, you may be contented with him alone, and it may be, that is the reason why your outward comforts are taken from you, that God may be all in all to you. It may be that while you had these things they shared with God in your affection, a great part of the stream of your affection ran that way; God would have the full stream run to him now.”

The stream was broken! Your heart was divided!

I sometimes wonder about this with respect to the good things. Even the ministry, which I love could be one of those things God takes so that my heart can be presented to Him undivided. It’s both scary and comforting, if that combination can exist. He goes on…
“You know when a man has water coming to his house, through several pipes, and he finds insufficient water comes into his wash-house, he will rather stop the other pipes that he may have all the water come in where he wants it. Perhaps, then, God had a stream of your affection running to him when you enjoyed these things; yes, but a great deal was allowed to escape to the creature, a great deal of your affections ran waste. Now the Lord would not have the affections of his children to run waste; he does not care for other men’s affections, but yours are precious, and God would not have them to run waste; therefore he has cut off your other pipes that your heart might flow wholly to him”

Amazing, isn’t it? This can only produce an ever enduring confidence that He does know what He’s doing.

Those Puritans 

they knew what they were talking about. “Therefore thing not this strange that I am speaking of. You do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into it; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.”
Excerpt From: Burroughs, Jeremiah. “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.” Fig, 2012-09-17T17:29:54+00:00. iBooks. 

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Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/2W3KH.l

J.C. Ryle quote. 

A little child is easily quieted and amused with gaudy toys, and dolls, and rattles, so long as it is not hungry; but once let it feel the cravings of nature within, and we know that nothing will satisfy it but food. Just so it is with man in the matter of his soul. Music, and flowers, and candles, and incense, and banners, and processions, and beautiful vestments, and confessionals, and man-made ceremonies of a semi-Romish character, may do well enough for him under certain conditions. But once let him “awake and arise from the dead,” and he will not rest content with these things. They will seem to him mere solemn triflings, and a waste of time.

Don’t get too carried away 

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we are a people of moderation, kind of.  Let me correct that, we enjoy the idea of moderation. No better place do we see this than in the realm of the religious world.  People don’t mind if you say you love Jesus and even if you show such fruits of that faith as niceness and submission tolerance to the gospel they preach. All is well, no one gets hurt and we all chose to believe different things.  But then there’s the Bible.  

Nowhere in the New Testament do you see a kind of faith where there are no boats to be rocked, no offense given to anyone, no bad feelings ever experienced as a result of holding to the Christian faith. And while it’s REALLY easy to be the believer who eats at chick fail a all the time, has those annoying family stickers on their car, goes to the harmless mega church that would never offend anyone- that simply not at all the faith life we’re called to.  (disclaimer: not all mega churches preach an easy gospel-I had none in mind, and certainly none in this town, and I happen to love chick fail a). There’s a cross attached to this faith and there’s a price to pay.  
I love what Tim Keller says about the extreme call of Jesus. “So is that the way Christianity works? Does Jesus say “Moderation in all things”? In Luke’s Gospel, he says to a large crowd, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters— yes, even his own life— he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Sound moderate? Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me.” He doesn’t say to the crowd, “Look, most of you can be moderate, but I do need a few good men and women who really want to go all the way with this discipleship.” He says “anyone.” There’s no double standard. “If anyone wants to have anything to do with me, you have to hate your father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, and even your own life, or you cannot be my disciple.” That’s what it means to follow Jesus.”

In a nutshell, it’s a transaction that’s glorious, beautiful, and very difficult. Don’t settle for an easy faith that appears moderate.  Jesus won’t have to that.  But on the other side is the true freedom the gospel brings.  Get carried away, love profoundly, sacrifice it all, and never have it be said that you were a safe believer. 

The curious case of people pleasing

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In all things idolatry, there are two sides. Like a battery, there is a positive side and a nagative side to all the times our heart wishes to make something else lord.  In the case of fearing man, or people pleasing, those two sides are as follows: a. The over-love of people’s approval and the negative would be, b. The fear of losing someone’s approval. Lou Priolo says in his work, Pleasing People,  “The love of man’s approval is inextricably bound to the fear of man’s disapproval. When a people-pleaser interacts with others, his thoughts immediately and instinctively run in the direction of selfishness, anxiety, and fear.”  

Here are three bullet points about people pleasing:

  • the people pleaser fears the displeasure of man more than the displeasure of God.
  • The people pleaser desires the praise of man more than the praise of God.
  • The people pleaser studies what it takes to please man as much as, if not more, what it takes to please God.

What are to do to get out from this mess? Seek the pleasure of God more than man. That’s it. Consider your standing in Christ, as a well pleasing child of God in this mystical, wonderful union.  Consider the cross, the nails, the blood, all that went into your justification. Consider, too, that what the people pleaser works so hard for is the fickle, sin-tainted view of himself through the mirror of someone else’s eyes.

What at do you desire more, dear reader?  Do you desire the pleasure of people or the pleasure of God more? Which party’s disappointment do you fear the most? the Lord Almighty or mere people?

Sunday school, Saul 

over the past few weeks, we have been into some seriously heavy stuff. We have been going through Romans, and that is much akin to a bowling ball rolling right down the middle of a lane. Paul wrote this letter to a congregation he had yet to personally encounter. It was a congregation in the middle of a pagan, Gentile, pleasure-loving, entertainment driven culture. And then…the gospel. *bowling pins being hit rather loudly*
And yes, we went there. By there I mean homosexuality, since it is mentioned in the text. Paul mentions the wrath of God being revealed against all ungodliness. His wrath is volcanoes, earthquakes, ice-storms, and giving people over to their desires. When people are given that thing, the thing they think will fix them and make them eternally happy, that’s God’s wrath. What? Yes, any object we set our ultimate hopes, and dreams on, if it is not God Himself, will wind up disappointed us severely. We will grow bitter and angry because that created object is not keeping its end of the deal. It was never designed to. 

With more care and concern, we discussed the reality of homosexuality. It is A sin but it’s not THE sin. Also worth noting: 

  • Just because you were born with a desire, does not mean you have to do all that you can to have that desire fulfilled. We are born broken from the original fall. We have desires that run contrary to how God would have us live. Some are born predisposed to seeking ultimate comfort, ultimate satisfaction via chemicals. Some are born with a desire to act in other ways of sexual immorality ie polygamy, beastiality, etc. The end is this : from a biblical perspective it can’t be denied that God does not approve of this, and at the same time, some will have to deal with this desire their entire life. We grieve with them. We really do. Far from the Westboro Baptist approach, we’d love to minister in these circumstances in the most loving way possible while at the same time not giving a thumbs up approval to something God says is a sin. 
  • It is my desire to see something like this (http://conservativepost.com/gay-and-lesbian-group-stops-protest-because-church-is-too-lovely/) happen. 

On Sunday nights- it’s been all about Saul. Looking back, I should have called the series, ‘Better call Saul’. On second thought, don’t call him. The podcast can be found here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/new-covenant-student-ministry/id967737389?mt=2

this week’s lesson

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/new-covenant-student-ministry/id967737389?mt=2

Here is our newest episode; it’s based entirely (almost) on Time Keller’s ‘Freedom of Self Forgetfulness’.  A few things to think through…

1.  What would it look like to be that free?  What needs to happen?

2.  Where do you get the majority of your sense of self worth from? (This will lead into the boasting/ comparison thing)