the past few weeks

it is the end of october. last night, we stopped youth group for the annual “trunk or treat” thing. do not be discouraged that i called it a ‘thing’ … i rather liked it. but since i did not teach a lesson, i thought it would be valuable to take a look back on what he have already talked about at youth group. so, this is a recap of where we have been.

in september, we did a series simply called – the gospel – where we went through a broad overview of the gospel (based off a book by matt chandler). here is a basic run through of our four weekends.

one) God is holy. everything that is created is meant to worship God. and He is good. He created us in His image. but what happens when we do not worship Him and worship created things rather than our creator?

two) we are sinners because in our hearts, in our motives, we believe that God really is not that big of a deal but the stuff he made is worthy so our desire and passion. so we worship – love, crave, desire, focus, give all our effort into – the stuff he created. God – being perfect – can not be around sin so we are eternally separated from Him as a result of our sin.

three) Jesus is God and He loves us. He came to demonstrate that in a lot of ways. He lived a perfect life. He healed people. He welcomed people. protected people. but Jesus knew that our physical problems were rooted in our sin problem.

four) Jesus died on the cross for our sins, taking our place on the cross, and instead, giving us life with God, gifting to us the rewards for his perfect life. He was resurrected so that you and i would have right standing with God and assure us our our life with Him starts now. All of this is possible and available and counted to anyone who believes simply by faith.

the gospel – which means good news – is that Jesus died for your sins, was resurrected so you could have right standing, a restored relationship, with God and you are united with him – i will talk about this in later posts – by faith. all that he inherited counts as yours. all that you inherited – death, separation of God – no longer counts towards you. By faith, you are brought in, kept in, and nothing can separate you from the love of God, in Christ Jesus.

So what.

well. the heart of the problem – of all problems: addictions, depression, relational problems, finances, worry, doubt, et cetera – is a problem of the heart. the core issue that you and i will ever deal with – christian or non-christian – is that we are sinners in need of a savior. non-believers fail to see the heart of the problem is sin. either they do not care or they believe they can solve their own problems by working it all out themselves (even though they are the problem). believers fail to see that the solution to the problem is found in our union – there is that word again – with Jesus.

this is the foundation for everything we will get into at youth group. this is what we will come back to time and time again. parents: this is the start of parenting, of loving on your children, your neighbors, your co-workers. if you have any questions or want to talk about this post, what we talk about at youth group, or about the gospel, do not hesitate to let me know.

may we live out deuteronomy 6:5-9

[digging deeper – in this section, I will post some verses, articles, links, or quotes to assist in  helping you take deeper look into the lesson. sometimes there will be questions to ask your daughter or son. sometimes. there will be a challenge. *note: these words do not count towards my word count promise of the five hundred word region – give or take ninety-nine words]

God is holy   (exodus 15:11, 1 samuel 2:2, psalms 24:3-5, isaiah 6:3-5, habakkuk 1:13a / r.c. sproul, The holiness of God, p. forty, fifty-four)

we are sinners (romans 1:19-25, 29-32, 3:10-18,23, 6:23a, galatians 4:8, ephesians 2:1-3, 1 john 1:8)

Jesus loves us (matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34, mark 1:41, 1 john 4:9)

Jesus died on the cross for our sins (romans 5:8-10, 3:22-25, 6:6-11, 23. ephesisans 2:4-9, galatians 2:16, 2 corinthians 5:17-19,21, 1 corinthians 15:3-4)


we are on the same team

same-team . 10-24-13

i want to tell you two of the best times of the week for me. 

one happens on sunday nights. it is called youth group. nothing fancy. no flashing lights. no gimmicks. we – a group between thirty and fifty middle and high school students with a mix of young adults and parents – get together and we have what i like to call “forced family fun”. sometimes, that involves running around the building looking for pieces of a flash light. sometimes, we watch skits and sing songs at the top of our lungs. sometimes we sit and talk to one another like we actually like spending time with one another. we talk about this guy named Jesus a lot. every week – in some way, shape or form – in fact.

the other happens on wednesday nights. it is called small group. again. nothing fancy. we  – a group between four to ten high schoolers and five to fifteen middle schoolers with a mix of parents and leaders – have a meal together. we drink each other’s lemonade when someone is not looking and blame someone else. we laugh. a lot. we talk about our day at school. we play scatterball or kick ball or some other game. we split up into our small groups and go through the bible bit by bit (middle school) or we dig a little bit deeper into our faith (high school).

as i drive home each sunday and wednesday night, i can not help but wonder what is happening with those kids. did they get it. what are their questions. will they come to know Jesus deeper and love him more.

i have been hesitant to start this blog for some time now, but i think the time has come.

you see, for some time, there has been an epidemic growing within our midst. kids come to youth group. they come to small group. they learn about Jesus and life. they leave. get in the backseat and they go quiet. even worse, they are immediately asked about homework, or projects, or tests, or school, or sports, or schedules, or practice times. and far to often we are surprised when a son or daughter is caught up in lying or cheating, pornography or drinking because everything seemed like it was going right. 

this is the point i am trying to make: you and i – parent and youth director –  are on the same team. moreover, if this is a game of basketball or football, you – as parent – have more playing time than i will ever receive. you are on the first team.

if this is the case, let us start by being a united team. let us work together. let us be focused in understanding the biggest problem rather than smaller issues. let us be focused in understanding what we are expecting your child to be. let us talk freely about victories and struggles that are happening day-in and day-out. let us talk, together, about the topics we are teaching at youth group and small group so that you can further the conversation at home, in the car, et cetera.

so, here is what you can expect from me and this blog:

one) you can expect posts mondays and thursdays. mondays will recap and cover things from that weeks youth group. thursdays will cover material from wednesday night small groups.

two) you can expect that this may be one of the longer posts (which is a good thing). i will try and keep them somewhere in the five hundred word region – which is about one page in any word processing program.

three) you can expect me to be open to have a conversation with you. i have my phone with me and i am available to sit down and talk with you. i can help you get the right resources and materials.I will try my hardest to be as clear and concise in what i say, but please, feel free to email me ( or call me (717.448.7492) if you have any questions.

what you should expect going forward:

one) push back – this will be hard. we live in a society/world/culture where talking about faith – let alone talking at all – is taboo. ingrained in your kid’s head is the notion that their faith with Jesus is personal, their sin should be secret, and all you want from them is that they become doctors, senators, and business owners. this will be hard.

two) it will be rewarding – what you may find is that as you start to lead in growing in faith with your kids, you will see that it will start to spread. you will grow deeper. your faith will become stronger.

three) for your child to know Jesus, it will require you to die to yourself – i hesitate to say this, because i do not want church lingo to get in the way of communication, so here is what i mean: Jesus died for your salvation. he poured out grace upon grace to you. so, if you want to teach your kids about Jesus, it will probably mean that you are going to go through some hard times, put them first, lavish grace upon grace unto them, and love them even through the hardest and darkest of times. because when you and i where enemies of God, when we were at our worst and darkest moments, Christ was at his greatest, his best, for us because he loves us.

you and i are on the same team. so, let us start acting like it.