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.

Thou My Best Thought

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On Sunday, June 7, we (FBC Baton Rouge) began another summer of teaching through the book of Psalms.  We’ve been working through the Psalms for 12 weeks each summer, and this year we will be studying Psalms 49-60. This is both an enjoyable and challenging task, as the Psalms expose for us the raw nature of human emotion in the context of trials, sin, repentance, worship, confession, friendship, and obedience to God. Each Psalm reflects in its own way just how so many Christian believers feel and think when we consider our relationship with God and the world in which we live. The book of Psalms can help us understand how to worship God properly, even in the midst of difficulty and trouble, as the poetic words guide us to a deeper understanding of God’s grace and sovereignty.

Each week, I will use this space to recap a little of the message that was given the previous Sunday, and then a short prayer guide to help us pray through the Psalms together. I pray that this will not only be helpful for you personally, but that it will also contribute to the fellowship and unity of our church family as we are praying for the same things, for ourselves and for each other.

Psalm 49 – Thou My Best Thought

No amount of worldly gain can prevent the certainty of death. (v.5-9)

While there are a number of ways we can gain and leverage our wealth and accomplishments for our own benefit and comfort, or we can use them to support and advance the spread of the gospel message, there is nothing that our earthly gains will do for us when we face the certainty of death. The Psalmist reminds us in v. 5-9 that death comes to all (wise, foolish, stupid), and there is nothing that any man can pay to ransom his own life or the life of another. What would you pay to God to save yourself from death? Would you even have enough to give to him? The Psalmist tells us that our lives are costly and we don’t have the sufficient funds to pay the ransom ourselves. The warning here is to be cautious that our worldly goods do not lead us to believe that we’ve attained a pardon from the grave.

Our only hope of rescue from eternal death is the mercy of God. (v.10-15)

Because the reality of death is something we can ALL be certain of, we must then deal with the weight of that reality in a reasonable way; and I would say in the only way that gives us any kind of hope. Since we do not have the resources to ransom ourselves from death, we must look outside of ourselves to someone else. The man who does not understand the desperation of his own need for redemption, will die just as certainly as the beasts of the field, yet with the sins of arrogance and ignorance in his heart. This kind of death is not just a physical one, but one that leads to shame and suffering after we die. If we spend our lives accumulating wealth for ourselves and for our own security, the full terror of Sheol awaits. But, there is good news in the face of certain death. This good news is that God ransoms people from Sheol and the certainty of eternal death (v.15). By his mercy and grace, God saves sinners (Ephesians 2:4-6), as we trust in Jesus Christ, because that is exactly what Jesus came to do (Mark 10:45). The result of the ransom payment that Jesus makes on our behalf to make us children of God is rejoicing, praise, and honor of God’s mercy. The result is the glorification of a merciful and gracious God.

While mankind was made for glory, there is glory in only 1 house – the house of the living God.  (v.16-20) The man who pursues wealth and prosperity in this world is seeking his own glory, and he will come to find that the glory he had in this life will NOT follow him to the grave. His glory does not “go down with him” (v.17), and he leaves his wealth and his possession to others. Therefore, he has no glory nor does he have any leverage with God. All he has is himself and whatever he trusted in while he lived. Apart from faith in God, there is only shame. But for those who trust in God, and who believe in Jesus Christ as their all-sufficient ransom from eternal death (1 Peter 1:18-19), they will receive glory. They will experience the glory of God in all its fullness, and they will be satisfied (Psalm 17:15, 73:24). This is our great hope in Jesus Christ.

There is so much temptation and often doubt associated with such high and lofty truths. We can easily be distracted by the things of this world, or we can grow fearful that others are acquiring much material gain and using their wealth to influence those around them. While this has always happened and will continue to happen in this world until Jesus returns, the people of God do not lose heart nor do we fret and worry over the worldly accomplishments of others. We set our hearts and minds on Christ, who is our hope. He is the highest, greatest , and most gloriously beautiful thought that any of us could entertain or conceive.  He is our BEST thought.

So how do we pray through the wisdom and promises of Psalm 49?

  1. Start with who God is. He is the all-wise, always present Lord and King, apart from whom we have no wisdom or understanding of truth. Praise God for who he is.
  2. Pray for your own heart, that you will be able to recognize when you are tempted to pursue worldly wealth and pleasures for the sake of your own satisfaction and comfort.
  3. Ask God to give you strength and faith to trust in him rather than in the things of this world. Recall the hope you have in the gospel and confess to God your need for his redemption.
  4. Surrender to God any self-sufficiency that has taken root in hour heart, which has given you a false assurance of your standing before God. Remember that your worldly gains have not actually gained you anything with God. Death is certain and you cannot prevent it.
  5. Thank God for Jesus Christ, your ransom payment and redeemer of your soul. Praise God that Jesus Christ has ransomed you from Sheol and given you hope beyond the grave. Think about Jesus, and all the ways that he is (right now!) working in your life to make you holy.
  6. Pray for wisdom as you seek to live for God’s glory and not your own. Ask God to help you to develop contentment in your heart concerning the pursuits of this world, so that you do not chase after “things” to justify your life, but rather be content in having Christ and the life that gives to those who trust him.

Restoration Church VBS 2015

What an amazing week! For the second year, we’ve teamed up with Restoration Church in Donaldsonville to help put on an amazing Vacation Bible School. A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who came and gave their time and talent and prayers! Seeds were planted and I’m excited to see what God has in store for those young people.

Here’s just a brief look at Restoration Church, their mission field, and the work God did this week:

And here are some more pictures of all the action!

Over a year ago, the church was told that the building they currently occupy would be sold. Pastor Jamie asks that you pray for clarity and direction when and if the time comes to have to make some decisions. But, like the kids discovered this week, they know God has the power to provide any resources they might need!

Thank you, Restoration Church, for allowing us to work with you to spread the gospel in our area!

Act of Approach – Need of Jesus

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LORD Jesus,

I am blind, be my light and vision,

ignorant, be my wisdom and understanding

self-willed, be my mind and desire

Open my ear to grasp quickly your Spirit’ voice,

and delightfully run to take hold of His hand.

Dissolve my conscience that no hardness against you remains,

make it aware to the slightest touch of evil.

When Satan comes near, help me flee to your cross

and there calm my fears and trembling.

Be my Good Shepherd

lead me into the green pastures of your Word,

and cause me to lie down near the river of comfort in your presence,

Fill me with peace, that no noisy, worldly shouts can disturb the quiet you give my soul,

Your cross was raised to be my refuge,

Your blood flowed down to wash me clean,

Your death occurred to give me assurance,

Your name is my greatest hope to be saved;

By your grace all of heaven is poured into my heart;

but my heart is too narrow to comprehend your love.

I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,

but your cross has brought me near, and

has softened my heart,

has made me a child of God my Father,

has adopted me into your family,

has made me a joint-heir with You

O that I would love you as you love me,

that I would walk worthy of you, my Lord and Savior,

that I might reflect the image of you, heaven’s first-born Son.

May I always see your beauty with the clear eyes of faith,

and feel the power of your Spirit in my heart,

for unless you move with might in me,

no inward fire of faith will be kindled.

 

Adapted from Valley of Vision, p.186-817

Hawaii Mission Trip

I have had the amazing opportunity to find a home-away-from-home at FBC for the past few years. This church has encouraged me in my faith, provided me my best friends, and given me the chance to go spread the love of Christ. Our annual Hawaii mission trip has been one of the highlights of my time here because this trip truly touches our lives. Our partnership with the Church in Hawaii not only blesses their ministries, it also encourages our own walks with Christ. I hope everyone has time to hear some of our stories from our trip, but I have also put together a short video of our trip this year. Thank you so much for your support through financial aid, donations, and prayer; this trip wouldn’t have been possible without you!

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