Worship Must Cost Us Something

“How strange is it that these same people… should, about five days after, change their hosannas for, Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him!  How fickle is the multitude!  Even when they get right, there is but little hope that they will continue so long.”

Can you imagine what Palm Sunday might look like if it were to happen in our present time, in today's international climate, somewhere in the modern world?  Picture Jesus entering New York or Los Angeles, London or Tokyo.  I'm sure that people would come out in droves, especially if the news media had just reported Lazarus being raised from the dead.  The crowds would exceed those of a Super Bowl or World Series parade (well, maybe...), and the celebrations would be truly epic.  Just like in the gospels, the whole world would come out to see Jesus (John 12:19).  They would doubtless be intrigued, and our social media driven populace would be lined up hoping to get a selfie with the Messiah so they could post it on their platform of choice.  The tweets and memes would dominate the news cycle for days!

But, in truth, I have absolutely no doubt that, by the end of the week, we'd have Him nailed to a cross, too.  

Jesus came to establish a Kingdom that still threatens the "kingdoms" of this world--the kingdoms of power, self-promotion, lust, greed--and yes, even religious superiority (just look at the Pharisees).

It has never been easier than right now to notice how fickle we as human beings can be.  We can be loved one minute, and absolutely despised the next simply because of one petty action, an offensive statement, a politically charged tweet, or even something that happened decades ago in our past.  The idea of "loyalty" no longer has any real meaning.  But, according to Matthew and John, not much has changed since Jesus fired up the crowds on Palm Sunday.  

On that Sunday, just like in our world today, the people waving palm branches all had different reasons for doing so.  Some were hoping Jesus was coming to overthrow the current government and liberate Israel from Roman rule.  Even his disciples were expecting Jesus to establish himself as an earthly king.  Many were just there out of curiosity, not wanting to miss the "trend" and be left out.  Still others were there out of desperation.  After all, Lazarus had just been raised from the dead, and these onlookers may have been sick or had loved ones that needed a miracle, and so they waved their branches hoping to be noticed and receive aid.  

That day, only one person knew why Jesus was coming into Jerusalem--Jesus himself.  He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.  

I suspect that most of us find it a lot easier to cheer for Jesus than to actually lay down our lives for Jesus.  It's nice and easy to sing "Hosanna" as a member of the crowd when we can simply head home and back to our daily lives after the celebration.  Posting clever Christian-themed messages or creating meaningful memes doesn't cost us anything.  There's no degree of sacrifice.  

This Easter season, let us remember that our worship must cost us something to go beyond Sunday morning "Hosanna" cheerleading.  

Chris Brammer

New Goal

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The new year causes us to think about goal setting and striving to improve ourselves. Last year I set a goal to read through the Bible in a year, which was silly to do when my first child was born in July.

I didn’t finish but I did develop a greater understanding and respect for the Old Testament and its importance to our faith. Then I began to notice how much Jesus and the New Testament writers quoted and referenced things that happened in the OT, and my mind was blown.

 

Even though I didn’t finish reading the Bible in a year, it made me want to spend more time in the scriptures. The Bible is so deep that the more you dig into it, the more there is to learn.

 

I love the definition used by thebibleproject.com. They say the Bible is unified story that leads to Jesus. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he says that the Bible is from God and equips followers of Jesus to do good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Make a goal to invest your time and energy in the Scripture. Use a study Bible that can point out the nuances of a text or show you what is being referenced. Fall in love with the Bible so that you can point others to the good news of Jesus.

 

As followers of Jesus, we need to read and study these unified stories so we can be equipped to share them with others.


In love,


Trey

Done with Just Surviving

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A few weeks ago, Abby, Harlow, and I journeyed to St. Louis to attend the National Youth Workers Convention. Through my connections at Download Youth Ministry, for which I am an author, we got steeply discounted tickets. Five thousand youth pastors and volunteers gathered for three days to learn, grow, and worship together.

It was great to be around people who do what I do and love what I love because between you and I, my tank was starting to get pretty low.

Consistently pouring into teenagers and adults is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining, and I’ll be honest, I’ve been running on fumes. Thankfully, the people running the convention have experienced the same thing. They put me in a position where I could hear from God and be refilled by Him; I wasn’t responsible for anything other than showing up and I didn’t have to fix anything that went wrong. The keynote speakers spoke directly to me and the breakout sessions gave practical knowledge and advice (I’m still combing through all the notes I took).

I have caught myself over the past few months thinking things like, “Let’s just get through Sunday,” and “Wednesday night is almost over.” My focus has been on surviving, but one of the speakers at the convention, Robert Madu, reminded me that my eyes need to be on Jesus. Jesus gives me grace to run the race and not just to survive, but to thrive.

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says,

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I’m done with just surviving, and I hope that you are too. As we look towards Christmas and the end of the year, set your eyes on Jesus and join me in striving to do the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.


In love,

Trey


ONE

My baby girl is an infant, so all she can handle is milk. As she grows older, she’ll need mushy baby food, then eventually she’ll be able to eat solid food.

When you became a Christian, you started out as a spiritual infant and needed spiritual milk.

Love God, love others, and make disciples is the bare basics of what it means to live as a Christian. It is the milk that you must have to be able to grow. However, you shouldn't stay spiritual infants; you need to grow and mature; you need solid spiritual food.

This semester the youth group is going to build up to that solid food. We are taking an in depth look at the book of Ephesians to grow in our spiritual walk. Everything we do is going to revolve around the idea of ONE.


ONE Love

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:37-39

ONE Hope

Jesus alone is our one hope. He is the redeemer and king of a new humanity and empowers us to follow after him.

ONE Life

There is one person in your life who you can focus on. Live your life in front of them, pray for opportunities to have spiritual conversations, and go out of your way to show them love and kindness; don't just invite them to church, bring them.

ONE Step

Each of us needs to take a step in our faith. Maybe it's accepting Jesus as your lord and savior; maybe you are meant to join the local church. Your one step might be to teach a Bible study or volunteer in one of the ministries of the church. Don't be complacent; continue to grow and mature in your faith.


The big idea for ONE comes from Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4:4-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
 

Ephesians summarizes the Gospel and shows how it should reshape everything about our lives.

[For an overview of the book, click here: Read Scripture: Ephesians]

 

Chapters 1-3 explore the grand vision of Jesus as the redeemer and king of a new humanity that is made up of every type of person; every race, color, socioeconomic status is welcome and included in this new humanity.

Chapters 4-6 deal with the character traits, life habits, and moral and relational commitments it’s going to take to live in this new community together.


Join us this semester as we live in the grace of the ONE Love of God. Pray with us as we rely on our ONE Hope in Jesus Christ. Live with us in unity and find the ONE Life who needs the freedom of the gospel. Take ONE Step with us in faith to grow in spiritual maturity.

Amen.

Trey Hathcock - Minister of Students and Media

Children's Movie Night Friday, June 1st, 2018

Dear Church Family,

What makes a superhero so super? How do their special abilities and talents make them so useful to others? Is it their innate sense to help people in need? Or could it be that they truly understand their purpose and calling in life?  The answers to these questions could be up for debate, BUT I would firmly suggest that there is only one true answer AND a little bit of “super” inside us all.

When we have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives within us to help us use our talents and abilities for the Lord. When we walk closely with the Lord, we are completely in tune with the purpose and calling HE places on our lives. When we surrender ourselves to the following of Jesus Christ, we die more and more to our own wants and desires and become more sensitive to the needs of others. So because of the selflessness of Christ, everyone has the ability to have a little bit of “super” inside them and truly live like a superhero. This is incredible news!

My desire is that our children would come to know a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Inviting friends and enjoying a drive-in movie together may not seem like a huge ministry opportunity, but by wrapping this event in prayer and being attentive to the needs of our little ones God can use this event to glorify His Kingdom.

Come Friday, June 1st, at 7:30pm for the Drive-In Movie of The Incredibles! Bring a lawn chair and come dressed as the superhero inside you that is just dying to get out! I look forward to seeing you all there as we kick-off the summer with a BANG!

Because of Christ,

Abby  

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