The Good News and the Bad news

“Easy believism may be comfortable with the world and pop philosophy such as “the power of positive thinking” phrased in evangelical cliches may win worldly acclaim, but Jesus true disciples will win some flak. On the other hand, they and they alone will discover that “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10)

DA Carson

God With Us, Themes from Matthew, pg 37

 

Casey

Matthew 5:10-12

 

Dont believe the Lie!

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[e] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 

 

 

 

Casey

Psalm 19:1-6

 

We are back

Hi guys! Wow! What a busy couple of weeks! Hope and I just got back this past weekend from two weeks out on the road.

 

First we went to Bible camp for a week. Our church partners with about 4 or 5 others and run a camp during the first week of August. I was the teacher there for this year and it was quite the experience. This was my first camp experience and it went great! We started with the kids ages 8 through 12. They went up Sunday after Church and came back Wednesday after noon. The camp is about three hours away from our church. Thursday morning the teenagers came up and stayed through Sunday, going home in the afternoon.

 

It was really neat to see the kids, some of whom I knew, most, I didnt. It was neat to see them learn and grow and mature through the week. We were able to see that especially with the teens. There was one especially that stepped up, was a leader when needed, lead devotions and ended up getting baptized at the end of the week.

 

Speaking of baptisms…… Finn decided to get baptized on the last day of camp! About two years ago, Finn decided to ask Jesus into his heart. Since then, he has grown and started praying very often, and I (mostly) joke that he is a better preacher than I am! He is definitely a gifted 4 ½ year old theologian. So he came to Hope and I that he wanted to get baptized on that Sunday and we asked him why, not wanting him to do it just cause others were. He replied that Jesus said it was time to get baptized. When we asked why he wanted to get baptized, he said because he wants to follow Jesus more and show people about Jesus.

 

So he and I waded out into the lake and I preformed my first baptism! I could not be more excited and honored that my first baptism was my son. I could not be more proud of him for making this decision. Our camera was not working at that moment, but I will be receiving pictures of camp as a while, and therefore of the baptisms, in the next few weeks and will update when we get them.

 

So that camp finished up and then Hope and I got the kids in the car and went, not home, but further east and north, to a Village Missions Pastors conference for a few days. The themes was preventing ministry failure and it really did a lot to encourage both Hope and I.

The worship at the conference was fantastic. It was originally just going to be one of the pastors and his guitar, but the first night he found out that one of the other pastors played the harmonica. With just a few minutes of talking, and no practice, they got up and played beautifully together. Te next day, they noticed one of the kids (10 or 12 maybe?) played drums on the table and some one found him a snare drum to play. Again, no rehearsal together, they just jammed and it came out wonderful.

 

 

It was a long two weeks, but it really was a lot of fun. I promise as we continue to get back into the grove of things that I will post more. Love you guys!

 

 

Casey

Ephesians 3:14-21

 

Busy week with the Youth Group

So its been an incredibly busy week and a very rewarding one, especially where the youth group is concerned.

Last Friday night we did our Youth Group church lock-in. We had the kids get to the church at 6pm Friday night and told the parents to pick them up around 10 AM Saturday morning. We had 12 kids there total, and despite the heat, they were insistent on playing lots of different variations of tag out in the church yard. We brought them in and had snacks and soda out for them and then had a good lesson time on idols (both theoretical and practical) and prayer. We sent them out to have a half hour of individual quiet prayer time. After that we had good group discussion about what place in our priority listing we have God.

Once that discussion ended we played Sardines and other indoor games tell 3 Am when they got the itch to go back outside and play some more tag games. We came in around 430 and things started to wind down. We have a foosball table and air hockey table and a really cheap broken down kids pool table and they just entertained themselves for awhile. Around 530 some kids started to get ready to go to sleep. The girls moved over to the house with Hope and the Boys stayed with me. Some of the Boys laid down in their sleeping bag and the rest of us started a game of monopoly.

By the time the game ended, just about everyone else had gone to sleep or was going to sleep and it was right around 630 or 7. Hope and I were going to make breakfast for the kids in the morning, ut they were all asleep at that point. They were so tired that there was no way that we were going to wake them up.

All the parents got there right around 10 AM or so, and we went around waking up these walking zombies. The kids had a ton of fun and so did Hope and I. We were able to get closer to the kids and learn more about them.

Hope and I always say that quality time comes from quantity time. You cant force quality, you can just be there when it happens. Thats what has been happening lately with these kids. A few weeks ago, they did the worship for the service on Sunday and you could really start to see them come out of their shell. It took 6 months for them to be willing to do it once and now they are excited to do it more often. Our plan is for them to play every month when I preach.

So after the Lock-in, we had Youth group Sunday night. One of the ideas Hope and I had for the morning of the lock in was to do a prayer walk in the neighborhood of the church. There are about 15 houses or so within a ½ mile or so radius. Since the kids were sleeping, we did it Sunday night instead.

Our goal was two-fold. First was to show the kids how to do this and give them the support, confidence and know how. It really is quite simple and you can do it in a variety of involvement levels.

First was just walking the street, stopping at a house and saying a quick prayer for them. Ext was to talk to someone if they were outside and ask them if they had any thing specific they would like us to pray about. Third was going up to the door and letting people know we were praying and asking what they would like prayer for. The kids did great! And, there are a number of non-church going families in the neighborhood and they were all open to being prayed for as well. We even got to meet the family moving in just that day up the hill, that we probably wouldnt have met yet otherwise.

The second goal of this was to just let the neighborhood know that we were doing this and we got wonderful responses. One of the last houses we went to is the home of a wonderful couple in the church. He is a Vietnam Vet and has a whole host of medical problem because of his service and she is a wonderful saint who spends her life taking care of him. They are high school sweethearts and you can see the love in their eyes when they look at each other. With his health issues, many times visiting there is standing in the doorway talking to her with a few “Hi’s” and words of encouragement shouted in to him. This night we were able to pray for her and then she asked us in to lay hands on him and pray for him.

It was extremely obvious the effect this had on the kids. They were amazed at the power of prayer and while some of them knew this couple, it was an experience for them to see someone open up there home, being both vulnerable with the kids as well as enormously grateful.

After we got home that night, we saw the wife had made a facebook post about the visit. She posted this…

There is no limit to the blessings that are coming our way.
Just answered a knock on our door to find the youth group from the church. They wanted us to know we were constantly in our prayers.
First they all gathered around me outside to pray for us…then I invited them (all 16 of them) to come in. They gathered around Gary’s hospital bed, joined hands and prayed for him. What a blessing…I will never forget the power of that moment and the impact it appeared to have on Gary. Thank you Jesus, for your continued blessings and caring for us.

Well, needless to say that got us a little choked up, and then a got a message on facebook as well. I didnt immediately recognize the name, but she said this:

You may not know me but you have touched me in ways that words can not express… See I am (Their) daughter & tonight you took the youth group over to visit my parents and pray with them… You don’t know how much this means to them…

Simple hellos and anyone that can stop by to check on them is welcome – as they don’t get out of the house much anymore with how sick Gary is…

Thank you so much!

Blessings!

We shared these with the kids last night and it was a perfect oppurtunity to both praise God how he works through the actions you would never even suspect, but also to reinforce to the kids, how powerful prayer is. This reaction happened with (at that time) no prayers that the kids prayed, being answered. It was their presence, their love, their willingness to step up and let them know that they were praying for this house and their willingness to share.

God is the only who knows which prayers will be answered and which wont. But he tells us to pray about everything and to pray always. By doing this, the kids in our youth group were able to have an enormous emotional effect and be an encouragement on this family struggling with health issues. They were able to show the neighborhood that people love them and people are praying for them.

The positive effect was had bith on the individuals and households that they prayed for but on the youth themselves as well. These kids are amazing. They are going to grow up and do amazing things. Please keep them in your prayers and Hope and I as well, that we dont screw them up. Thanks all!

Casey

1 Timothy 4:12

The weeds and the wheat

I was asked about this parable by a friend of mine. He asked what it meant. He had some idea, but felt like some thing was missing in his understanding. I figured I would share this with the rest of you as well.

The Parable of the Weeds [24] He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, [25] but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. [26] So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. [27] And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ [28] He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ [29] But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. [30] Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 ESV)

Who are the weeds, Who are the wheat? Well, to start off, we look a few verses later in the same chapter and we see this passage:

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

[36] Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” [37] He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. [38] The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, [39] and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. [40] Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. [41] The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, [42] and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [43] Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:36-43 ESV)

We, as humans on earth are able, at times, to tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat. Jesus tells his disciples the following in John 13:34-35:

[34] A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. [35] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)

But for the most part, we who belong to God are living the same as those who dont, We can not tell the difference. The point is that it is not our job to separate the wheat from the weeds, it is out Jesus job. He will do it perfectly at the end of the days. Our job is to make sure that, first, we are the wheat, and second, that as many people as possible are the wheat. Our job is to tell people that the weeds will be burned up at the end and the wheat will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

Casey

Romans 1:16

Your Plans or Gods Will?

 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:13-17

As a friend of mine and I say,  It doesnt matter what your plans are, you can run, and try to do your own thing, But if God wants you to go to Nineveh, you will end up in Nineveh…

Casey

James 1:23