Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 4)

Boca_culture_003Note: This is the forth in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

 Part 4: A Disciple Engages with God Through Giving

A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed the highest stressors among Americans as money and time. Because humans view these two aspects of life with such importance, we also have a tendency to attempt to control these assets with an iron fist.

Take a piece of paper and write down the days of the week along the top. Spend a few moments filling out the weekly log with your normal routine. How much of your time is devoted to your job? Your family? Spending time in prayer and Scripture reading? Serving at church?

Flip the sheet of paper over and write down the following words: food, fun, family, church, bills, other. Think about where your money goes. Next to the words, write out the percentage of your money that goes to those areas. Spend a few moments reflecting on how your spending reflects your priorities.

Read the story of the widow’s gift in Mark 12:41-44.

In this passage, the two simple coins given by the poor widow were worth more to Jesus than the large sums put in by the rich. The widow could not give as much as others, but her attitude of giving was more pleasing to Jesus. In this case, it was not so much the amount but the attitude that was of true value.

We try to exercise control over everything to the extent it becomes a stress on our lives. Ultimately, every cent of money that we possess and every second of time we have already belong to God. God commands that we devote our time and money to Him, and when we do not, it is disobedience. Like the widow, He is not focused on the amount we give, but on our attitude. As such, we should give cheerfully and humbly, recognizing that anything we have is already a gift from Him.

Grab a sticky note and list the things or areas of your life you need to give to the Lord. Think about areas of your budget that need to be redistributed to either your church or a ministry that God has put on your mind. Consider areas of your daily schedule that you could better use in service at church or mentoring others.

Give it to God

Take out your wallet, your watch, your planner, or your phone as a representation of your time and money. Hold these items in the palm of your hand as a sign of surrender and giving back to God. Ask God to show you areas of your time and money that you need to surrender to Him. Pray for opportunities to give your time and money to honor Him. Review your sticky note and commit to give those things to the Lord.

Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 3)

2334183401_bf5ce504c7_oNote: This is the third in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

Part 3: A Disciple Embraces God Through Prayer

Look up the Lord’s Prayer in your Bible from Matthew 6:9-13.

Have you ever felt like praying to God was difficult or even somewhat unnatural? In this passage, Jesus provides a model prayer or guide on how we should pray, and you can use the elements of this prayer as a template or pattern in your prayers. An easy way to remember this is pattern is with the acronym ACTS.

A- Adoration

“Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prayer is not about you. You should always enter into prayer with your heart, soul, mind, and strength focused on the wonderful God we serve. God is worthy of all of your praise and adoration, and you should voice that praise to Him.

C- Confession

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” As a follower of Jesus Christ, all your sin has already been paid for and forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice. When you pray, you should confess any sin that is holding you back from loving God and living out His commands.

T- Thanksgiving

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Jesus is King. As believers, we would do well to remember that all good things and every blessing come from God alone. As such, you should express gratitude for receiving those blessings. Through thanksgiving, you are giving God the glory He deserves, and admitting God’s power is greater than your own.

S- Supplication

“Give us today our daily bread.” As a child of God, you should feel no hesitation or shame in asking your Father for what you need. Start by expressing to God what is on your heart. Remember these words from Matthew 7:10: “Everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Through prayer, you enter into the presence of the One for whom nothing is impossible, and He alone can supply all your needs.

Spend time listening, and allow God to change you and make your heart more like His. Think about your prayer life and ways you wish to grow closer to God. When ready, spend time in prayer to God, focusing on adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Ask God to help you draw near to Him, and pray for Him to make you more like Him.

Act of Approach – Man’s Great End

 

 

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Lord of all life and being,

There is one thing that deserves my greatest concern,

which calls out my deepest desires,

That is, that I may answer the great purpose for which I was created –

to glorify you, O God, who has given me life,

and to do all the good that I can for my fellow man;

Truly, life is not worth having if it is not improved for this great purpose.

Yet, Lord, how little this thought comes to the minds of men.

Most people seem to live for themselves,

without much or any regard for your glory,

or for the good of others;

They sincerely desire and pursue

the riches, honors, and pleasures of this life,

as if they believe that wealth, greatness, and pleasure

could make their immortal souls happy;

But what a false delusion that is!

And how miserable are those who will sleep in those empty dreams

for all our happiness consists in loving you and being holy as you are holy.

Lord, may I never fall into the vanity and temptations of this life,

the sensuality and foolishness of this present world.

It is a place of inexpressible sorrow; a vast and empty void;

Time is a moment, a vapor

and all the enjoyments of this life are but empty bubbles,

Like fleeting blasts of wind,

from which nothing satisfying can be derived.

Give me grace always to keep covenant with you,

and to reject as a delusion having a great name here or in the hereafter,

which brings with it all the pleasures and profits of the world.

Help me to know continually

that there can be no true happiness,

no fulfillment of your purpose for me,

apart from a life lived in and for Jesus Christ my Savior!

 

Translated from The Valley of Vision, p.22

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 2)

4098605868_395724c077_oNote: This is the second in a five part series on devotionals for adults from CentriKid camps. See part one for more information.

Part 2: A Disciple Encounters God Through His Word

To grow as a follower of Christ and child of God, you must know His Word intimately. It is vital that you set apart time to read, meditate on, and memorize God’s Word in order to learn more about what He wants to teach you.

Reflect on the following verses:

2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119:105, Hebrews 4:12

Read

Read Matthew 4:4.

It is important for followers of Christ to hear the verbal proclamation of God’s Word often, but regular, personal study is equally essential. You must take an active role in reading the Bible for yourself and applying it to your life daily.

Choose a Bible verse. It can be one listed above or one God puts on your heart. Read over the scripture once, consider its meaning for your life, and ask God to teach you something through this verse over the next few days.

Meditate
Read Joshua 1:8.
Meditation is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines in the Christian faith. With our busy schedules, we rarely take time to completely stop and focus on anything. When is the last time you completely stopped and focused solely on a verse or passage from God’s Word?

Look again at the Scripture you pick up a moment ago. Choose one word or phrase from the verse on which to meditate. Try to think only about the verse and nothing else. Ask God to remove any distractions or worries from your mind and to speak to you through His Word.

Memorize

Read Psalm 119:10-11.

As a child, did you memorize any Bible verses in Sunday school or for Bible drill? Do you remember any of them now? Memorizing Scripture is a way to focus on God’s Word through the day. When you memorize Scripture, you can take it with you and meditate on it whenever and wherever you are!

As you go on with your day, write down the Scripture you picked and take it with you. Place it in your Bible, on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or anywhere you will see it often. Make it a goal to memorize this verse by the end of the week. After you have it memorized, make a commitment to choose another verse and memorize it, too.

Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for providing you with easy access to His Word, and make a commitment to read, meditate on, and memorize Scripture to grow closer to Him.

Summer Camp Recap for Adults (Part 1)

Our kids recently returned from CentriKid summer camp, and it was a blast! You can read all about it in my previous blog post. Each day, campers discovered what it means to grow in your faith. And not only did the kids get a chance to dive into God’s Word, so did the adults. Each day, the adults gathered as well for their own Bible study gathering.

I wanted to share with you some of what we covered in our adult gatherings so that you can talk with your kids more about what it means to grow in your faith. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting parts of devotionals from those adult gatherings we had at camp. This way, you can experience just a taste of the great Bible content CentriKid has to offer for adult believers. (Note: If you want to experience the craziness of OMC, you can sign up as an adult chaperone for the 2016 camp today!)

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Part 1: A Disciple is a Follower of Jesus

Take a look at the pictures below.

A popular trend is repurposing and remodeling old and broken items, furniture, and homes. The “before” photos are of condemned homes. These homes were forgotten and unoccupied. The “after” photos are of the same homes after someone spent countless hours transforming them back into something useful and beautiful. In order to restore a house well, you must start on the inside and completely renovate the entire structure. In the end, you might recognize a few of the old features, but it has essentially become a new creation. Before beginning a relationship with Jesus and accepting His gift of salvation, you were like one of the broken, condemned homes.

Think about this verse:

Isaiah 59:2 says “But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.“ This was your state prior to Christ’s intervention.

Take a piece of paper or sticky note and write down “Before & After.” Under the word “before,” write a few adjectives that describe your life before you became a follower of Jesus.

Read and reflect on the following passages:

Romans 6:6-11, John 1:12-13, 1 Peter 2:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17

Through a personal relationship, Jesus offers the opportunity for you to be completely transformed. Like a condemned house, putting a coat of paint on the outside does no good. Through the power of the gospel, the sin that separates you from God is completely destroyed, and your entire being is changed from the inside out into something new. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a new creation!

Pick up your “Before & After” paper again, and under after, list and reflect on the ways your life has changed since becoming a follower of Jesus. Keep this paper as a reminder of the difference Christ has made.

CentriKid Camp 2015

The kids have made it back from camp with all body parts still intact…minus a tooth!

Last week, we took the kids to Louisiana College for CentriKid Camp 2015. It was an incredible time of fun and faith. This year’s theme was FIT: Faith in Training. We discovered what can happen when we search for God with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Campers discovered more about the spiritual practices that help them grow in their faith. Kids internalized God’s word and allow Him to be their teacher. Each day, the camp provided kids with some practical, take-it-home tools for using spiritual practices as they grow their faith. The daily themes focus around the idea of being a disciple — very simply, a follower of Jesus Christ.

DAY 1: A DISCIPLE IS A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST

DAY 2: A DISCIPLE ENCOUNTERS GOD THROUGH HIS WORD

DAY 3: A DISCIPLE EMBRACES GOD THROUGH PRAYER

DAY 4: A DISCIPLE ENGAGES WITH GOD THROUGH GIVING

DAY 5: A DISCIPLE EXPERIENCES GOD THROUGH CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

I can’t start to tell you how much fun this trip was! From running away from a skunk we never actually saw, to dipping our broccoli in soda before eating it…I know I’ll carry many, many memories of this week with me.

I’ll be giving out a report to the church soon, but until then, please enjoy these pictures of our stay at Louisiana College.

Masterpiece Kids 2015 Pictures

Thank you all for another great year of Masterpiece Kids Art Camp. Below is just a small sample of all the fun we had during the week! Thanks to Kayla Rivette-Pinkston for the pictures.

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“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” – Luke 7:23

The month of July is filled with many events and activities at FBC Baton Rouge. Much of what we are doing this month is geared toward children and families. We believe in the God ordained blessing of the family, whether it is a single household or a house filled with many children. We love families, and we want to help all of our families grow in faith as we walk together trusting in Jesus. For those of you with children or grandchildren which you have regular contact with, I want to ask you a question: What are you telling them about Jesus? What sort of picture do you paint for them of the kind of Savior and Lord which Jesus has proven to be?  I want to be helpful to you in this area, so let me start by saying that this article is meant to be to be challenging and encouraging.

I hope this does not come as a total shock to you, but here goes: “Jesus isn’t concerned with doing things your way.” I know that’s a lot to lead off with, but don’t stop reading just yet; give me a chance to show you something magnificent about Jesus.

I was reading Luke 7 recently when I came across a familiar passage of scripture, where Jesus is addressing a concern of John the Baptist and Jesus’ fulfillment of the messianic promises (Isaiah 42:1-9). John was the last great prophet of God who had the task of proclaiming the coming of the Lord’s Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). John the Baptizer (as he was known) was a voice in the wilderness of Israel (both literally and spiritually) who called people to repent and trust in God alone for salvation. He spoke judgment and redemption, and he called all people to prepare themselves for the arrival of the Messiah (Luke 3:7-9, Matthew 3:1-6). Then, Jesus stepped onto the scene and John baptized him (Matthew 3:13-17), after which Jesus began his ministry (Mark 1:14-15). Yet as we read the gospel accounts it appears that after his encounter with Jesus,  John the Baptist just disappeared, as if his only job was to proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ, and then get out of the way. And in all honesty, that is exactly what God intended for him to do. But as Jesus was ministering in the land (Luke 4:14-44), calling disciples to follow him (Luke 5:1-11), and confronting the broken religious system of the day (Mark 2:1-12), John was still doing prophetic ministry. In fact, he continued to speak out against the evil of the day, and in particular against the wickedness of King Herod and his household. In one particular encounter, John called out Herod for taking his brother’s wife (Herodias) and making her is own wife. This got Herod angry and John ended up in prison (Matthew 14:1-4). This should not be surprising to us since this is the way those in authority often respond when sin is confronted and exposed. It is here, in prison, where John the Baptist gets a dose of reality, which he may not have been expecting. In Luke 7:19-20 we read:

And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”

John was stuck in prison, and Jesus had not yet come to rescue him. Instead, Jesus continued to heal, preach, forgive, pray, and lead his disciples, and his path never led him to the prison in order to deliver John from Herod. So, John sent messengers to ask “Are you ‘really’ the Messiah or should we be looking for someone else?” To which Jesus replied with actions and words:

21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

So Jesus does all the things which were spoken of the Messiah (healing diseases, restoring sight, casting out evil spirits), and he does them all in front of John the Baptist’s disciples. Then he tells them to report back to John about all they had witnessed, sending them away by quoting Isaiah 42:6-7 – I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. John knew this scripture, as it was a well-known prophecy of what the expected Messiah would do. John interpreted this prophecy to mean that the Messiah (Jesus) would rescue him from prison (dungeon, darkness). But the prison of Isaiah 42 is NOT intended to be a literal one, but rather a spiritual one. Jesus came to deliver people from the prison of sin. Understandably, John was disappointed, and even “offended” with what appeared to be Jesus’ lack of attention to his circumstances. In his offense he asked if he should be looking for another Messiah.

Why was John “offended” by Jesus’ failure to act on his behalf? It is a deep problem that each of us faces from time to time: John the Baptist misunderstood Jesus’ mission. Jesus was not operating based on John’s understanding of the situation. Jesus was not concerned with doing things John’s way because he had higher and greater ways which he was not obligated to reveal to anyone (even someone as faithful as John). In the end, John’s destiny according to God’s will was to prophesy, then suffer, and ultimately die as an example of a life surrendered to God’s will (Read: Matthew 14:5-12). As hard as that may be for us to accept, it is exactly what God expects us to accept by faith, for his glory.

Here is the application for our families: our world today is telling our children that they are entitled to whatever they want, and that they can be whoever they want, and they are owed honor, respect, and trust from everyone they meet, and that they have a right to be offended when life doesn’t work out he way they desire. It is a pervasive and destructive worldview, yet is all too real. The greater problem for parents and children who claim to follow Jesus is that we take that perspective and apply it to our relationship with God, as though he owes us some kind of respect and tribute. We often think and act as though we are smarter than God by questioning his motives rather than trusting his plans. Yet God is doing what He has set out to do before the foundations of the world, and he does not need our approval or validation. We are subject to Him; always. We must not take offense to this great and glorious truth.  The best thing that we can do for our children is to show them that God’s way is better, and HE is not obligated to fulfill our desires and will, even though we may have the best of intentions with a heart full of faith. Our lives and that of our children’s lives are meant to make Christ known to the world, and for this we must not take offense. Our greatest goal in life is to make sure our children know that Jesus loves them in ways they cannot comprehend and yet Jesus is not concerned with doing things their way. Rather He is carrying out the Father’s will in every way for the glory of God’s name. And for this we must not take offense.

Let us serve our children well as we teach them the beautiful truth of God’s sovereignty, that we may not fear what will happen if “our way” is not realized. Rather, let us be faithful to submit to God’s will as a witness to the world that only Jesus’ way is proven right and good. We are not offended by Christ; we are gladly surrendered.

 

Marshmallows and Temptations

At Stanford University in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, a psychology professor named Walter Mischel designed a test to explore the nature of temptation in the human mind. Many of you may have heard of or seen this before, but Mischel’s series of experiments have become known simply as “The Marshmallow experiment.” It’s a very simple concept: a plate with a marshmallow on it is placed in front of a child, and an adult tells them, “you can eat this now, or you can wait until I come back, and I’ll give you a second marshmallow.”

Of course, children don’t realize that they’re being filmed, so their actions are quite telling. You can find plenty of videos of this test being done, but the following is particularly funny:

It’s definitely adorable to see how kids react in this situation (especially the little brother and sister’s conversation), but I think there’s also some things we can take from this to understand our own interaction with temptations. In particular, there are two distinct thoughts about temptation I want to share.

  1. Temptation begins with the smallest step. We lie to ourselves and think, “Maybe if I just got a taste, then I’d be satisfied.” Notice how many of the children in the video stare at their marshmallow intently, pick it up, and either take just the smallest nibble or even just lick it. They just want the smallest indulgence, thinking that it will satisfy. Of course, as we all know, taking just a taste doesn’t really satisfy, it only increases the craving.

It reminds me of the old Lay’s potato chip commercials taunted us with the phrase “bet you can’t eat just one!” Of course you can’t. That first taste only makes you want another, and another, and before you know it the whole bag is gone. We do the same thing with sins. We think to ourselves, “Only one time can’t hurt, right?” But then that one time opens the floodgates, and things go downhill quickly.

  1. Temptation is tougher when we think no one is watching. I think this might be my favorite part of this video. I love how often these kids are clearly dealing with the temptation to eat their marshmallow, and they crane their necks to look at the door. You can see the thoughts in their minds: “Hmm…I wonder if she’s about to come back, or will I not be found out if I go ahead and eat this thing?”

I know we do the same thing in our own temptations. Something that would not be an issue at all if we were in public suddenly becomes this looming temptation when we’re alone. Sin likes to work in the darkness, and the best way to expose it is to put it to light. When our struggles become public, when we have accountability, when we know someone else will know, it becomes a little bit easier to avoid that temptation.

We all struggle with the temptation to sin. But there’s hope. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13). You’re not the only one going through it. And there will always be a way out. And when we do fall, when we do mess up, there is forgiveness and grace. Our Savior lived the human life. He was tempted in every way we are. He is sympathetic to our situation, and his mercy and grace are boundless.

Sin is sin because it’s bad for us. It goes against God’s perfect design for our lives. Giving in to sin is like eating the first marshmallow because it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s convenient. But if we stay strong, if we endure through the temptation, something much greater awaits. Jesus said that he came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. Abundant, full life is life without sin. Let us patiently endure and wait for that instead. I can promise you this: it’s better than a couple of marshmallows.

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Awareness Test

I have a quick video to test your awareness today. See how well you do!

 

So how did you do?

This ad was to help remind motorists that they should be on the lookout for cyclists when driving. Turning to us spiritually, how often do you keep an eye out for what God’s doing in your life? Are you taking time to stop and thank God for all that he’s done, or are you so concentrated on little things that you miss the moonwalking bear?

I was doing some reading on coincidence last week. According to one author I was reading, the word coincidence appears once in the Bible. The word is translated from the Greek word synkyrian, a combination of sun meaning “together with,” and kurious meaning “supreme in authority.”

The author goes on to say a Biblical definition of coincidence could be, “what occurs together by God’s providential arrangement of circumstances.”

Today, take a moment to think about what has happened this week. Where have you seen God at work in your life?

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Note that God isn’t promising a life of ease, rather, a life where everything is working for the glory of God and our good. God may use a bad situation in our lives to bring us closer to him.

In all things, give praise to God. Look for his goodness in the highs and lows, and share them with your family!

If you want to read more about looking for God in your life, check this post out.

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