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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Santa VS Savior

 Every year, Santa along with his reindeer, caboose the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and thus kick off the Christmas season. The commentators always hype the scene as the pinnacle moment of the parade, and Santa is deemed the MVP, the grand finale!  Children everywhere glue their eyes to the television screen and drool, asking themselves what wonderful treasures he might have in that magic sack.  Now, I’m not going to go on saying that Santa is Satan, although their names do have the same letters, they both wear red, and they both distract millions of people from Jesus Christ on His birthday...  But I do want to encourage you to teach your children the truth about Christmas.  

“Say what?!!” Jeremiah, I’m only a teen, man. I’m not even out of high school yet! If you’re a “Teenager” then you’re expected to be, well, “a Teenager.” But let’s say that you as a young man or woman are preparing for the days to come when you will be the Father or Mother in your own family… What will you tell your children? Have you ever thought about it? I know that I will tell my children that Santa is not real, and that Jesus Christ is why we celebrate Christmas. Let me offer a couple of reasons why.
How did you feel when you found out that Santa wasn’t real? Were you disappointed? Did you feel like there were other things your parents weren’t telling you? I’d like to offer a suggestion. Right now, you are preparing yourself for adult life. Someday soon, you’ll be married, and before you know it, you’ll probably have children of your own, and you’ll need to have already made choices regarding a few things. What will you teach your children about Santa, better yet, what will you teach them about God? 

Let me paint a picture for you… What if Santa wasn’t at the end of that parade? What if instead of jolly old St. Nick, the commentators exclaimed that Jesus was coming!? Yes the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father, the Creator of Heaven and earth was here! And there at the end of the parade was a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. Would all the excitement be lost? Would it be a letdown? Would the shopping malls be vacant on black Friday? Would Christmas lose its importance? 

Growing up, we had an advent calendar made from scratch by my mother. And on the 25th, there was little baby Jesus, not Santa. I can’t begin to tell you just how thankful I am for that. A parent’s integrity is huge. Yet it’s compromised when a child finds out he has been lied to regarding Santa. Their next question might be “is the Bible and Jesus a lie too?” I think it’s much more important that children trust their parents, than that they put their “faith” in someone who is only accessible once a year. God is with us all year long!

Christmas is about Jesus Christ. That’s why it’s called Christmas, and not Santamas. We celebrate Jesus’ birth (not because He was actually born on the 25th of the 12th month) but because that’s when we celebrate the fact that God became a man and lived a perfect life, and died for our sins, so that we might have eternal life if we believe it. Yes, Salvation is wrapped up as the best Christmas present ever, and I don’t care how cliché that sounds. It’s the truth.

Comment below and tell us what you think about Christmas and Santa.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elephants Never Forget

Elephants are crazy strong. They can haul considerable loads, uproot stumps, and even knock over trees! Some countries hold elephant festivals where these massive creatures dance, paint, and even play tug of war against 100 men, and WIN!

Did you know that these enormous animals can be rendered immovable by something as small as twine wrapped around its leg and tied to a tent peg? That’s right, a small piece of rope or twine can stop one of these present day mammoths. But why?

Turns out, when an elephant is a baby, they shackle it with chains around one hind leg. With all its might, the baby elephant tries to break free, but it can’t, and eventually admits defeat. For the rest of that elephant’s life, it believes that there is no breaking those chains, and so trainers need only to tie a small rope around that same leg, and Presto! The elephant stays put.

Have you ever considered that you as a teenager might be like these elephants? God has created you to do amazing things. You are talented, creative, smart, and crazy strong. Yet because you’re a “teenager,” society expects you to do teenager things, like be awesome at any video game, be wizards in all forms of technology, eat lots of junk food, and update your status on facebook hundreds of times a day. It seems that “growing up” is expected after high school, or once you’re out on your own, or some obscure place down the road.

But are you ready now? What holds you back from taking on responsibility? Why don’t you learn now, how to be an adult? Why not learn to be the best husband or wife, father or mother, business owner, or even live out your faith? No one really expects you to, do they?

In Titus 2:6-8 God charges us as YOUNG men to be sensible in all things, and to be an example of good deeds. Did you catch that? WE are the example! Not the older men and women. What kind of example are you setting for the elders to follow? He expects us to be pure in our teaching. (Do you know what you believe? Can you teach it?) We are to be dignified, and sound in speech.

I’m throwing out a challenge here. Raise your expectations for yourself… not because an “adult” tells you to, but because God created you to. Bust out of the invisible shackles that hold you in place. The twine holds the giant elephant, yet it’s all in his mind. Is it in yours?  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I saw a guy throw up today. It got me thinking, “You don’t see that very often.”  I was mesmerized. Watching someone blow chunks has always kind of fascinated me. In most movies, it always looks fake, but even then, I kinda like it. What is it that peaks my interest? Why do I have this weird attachment to vomit? Maybe it’s like fall. Not fail, like when you try and jump your bike over a railing or do a back flip off of a car and something goes horribly wrong and you end up planting your face right into the pavement (which inevitably causes you to Ralph.) No, I mean fall the season, autumn if you will. The leaves turn and it’s like two weeks and the trees are bare. Teachers no longer have that "start of the year" gleam in their eyes, cute little squirrels have become fat and bloated, and it’s just plain cold.

I can hear you saying, “What does any of this have to do with God?” I know I know, hang on, let me get there. Look, puking reminds me that I’m sick. We are huge failures. The Bible tells us that we are. We can’t do anything good. None of us understands God, none of us seek Him. We’re broken. I admit it. But wait, here’s the kicker: the Disciple John records this awesome conversation in the 6th chapter verse 27, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal. Therefore they asked Him, “What should we do so that we can work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said, “This is the work of God: that you BELIEVE in Him whom He has sent.””

Everything changes. Just like the leaves, we have a chance to drop our baggage, and start fresh. If we have faith, which is taking God at His word and responding accordingly, we can be doing what God wants us to. This comes with the promise of eternal life where we will have bodies which won’t fail and we can rest assured, there’s no throwing up either.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Too Old?!

   As the new school year approaches, we are sad to see those who have been with us for so long head off into the sunset... ur ... um... college. Our seniors have taught us so much about what it actually looks like to seek Christ, and not just go through the motions. It's also kind of hard, because as a youth leader, I want to continue to pour into them and see them take their relationship with Christ to the next level.

Watching our nieces and nephews this past week, we read them some of the Adam Raccoon series before bedtime each night. They really got into the stories. I recall the youngest saying at one time, "Adam Waccoon, I wuv him!" In a particular story Adam Raccoon is supposed to invite all the creatures of Master's Wood to a grand dinner that King Aren is putting on. Adam has a hard time inviting those who he feels might make the dinner less enjoyable, like this turtle who coughs a lot, or Cindy Skunk. He also invites a few who he thinks would look good at the party, and yet they are too prideful or lazy to come. The purpose of the book is to show that Christ has invited everyone to His table, and it isn't up to us to decide who we would like to see there and who we think are chopped liver.

Well this story got me thinking. As those seniors leave us, it's easy to ask the question, "Have I done enough? Have I pointed to Christ enough? Did I love well enough?" And just like Adam Raccoon, the best I can do, really ALL I can do, it just invite them to come to Christ's Table. They have to come. They have to make the choice to seek God. No matter if they are around Symposium or not. No matter if they keep going to church or not. No matter what...  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God is our Rock

Symposium will be rock climbing May 20th, so I was thinking about rocks, and I remembered that God is referred to as a rock. While sleeping on rocks might give you a headache, perhaps causing some wild dreams with angels going up and down on a ladder to heaven, most people wouldn't say rocks are very comforting. Unless of course you are out hiking and you get caught in a storm. A cave, or a rock overhang can not only keep you dry, but it might also protect you from other destructive forces. Perhaps this is why David writes in Psalm 18:2, "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

In the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, there are some large rocks, but these may not provide safety from a storm, actually, these rocks, may in fact move. Yeah I was shocked when I heard it too. Here watch this video:

Now for something even more wild... In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul says in passing, "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." At first, it doesn't seem too amazing of a statement right? Let's look closer. What does it mean that the rock which FOLLOWED THEM? We know that the rock in the wilderness was a pretty special rock already, it gave them water in the middle of a desert. But now we find out that this rock also traveled with them!? This is certainly an amazing rock, and a spectacular example of how God is a provider, stronghold, and He is certainly mobile. Remember that God is always there, and if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. (Jacob 4:8)