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Who can come to Christ?

This past Wednesday night in the YouthRoom was powerful!  We came to a short and simple passage that at first didn’t seem like it was going to impact us so powerfully, but it sure did.

Our text was Mark 2:13-17.

This is the passage where Jesus calls Matthew to be His follower.  Now this Mark text along with Luke’s teach us that Jesus calls Levi here. But the parallel passage in Matthew clearly shows us that Levi was called Matthew too.  Levi is Matthew and Matthew is Levi.  They are the same person.

What is so powerful about this passage is that Levi is a tax collector.  He is most likely, a fairly successful and prestigious man.  So far, all the other disciples have been fishermen which tend to be uneducated common people.

This got us to thinking…Who can come to Christ?  Are there any limits?  Is anyone restricted from coming to Jesus in saving faith?

So I asked the youth…Can nerds be saved?  Can preps be saved?  Do you have to be smart to believe?  Do you have to be able to read to believe in Jesus?  Do you have to be a “good kid”?  Do you have to be a “goody goody” to follow Jesus?  Can an outsider be saved? Who can be saved? Who cannot be saved? What then does it take?  Or who can be saved? 

These are the questions we were discussing through this text in Mark 2.

After Jesus called Levi, they went back to Levi’s home and had dinner together with some of Levi’s friends who were also tax collectors and sinners.  Of course, when the legalistic hyper-religious pharisees saw Jesus having dinner with sinners, they couldnt stand it. They went crazy.

They asked the question “Why does He eat with them?”

To which Jesus answers one of the most simple but powerful truths in the Bible “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So to the youth, that’s who can believe…be saved… and follow Christ — sinners.  Simple as that!  Jesus didn’t come to find the godly.  He didn’t come to find Christians.  He came to find His lost people and then change their hearts.  He came to save His people.

So we concluded in the YouthRoom by stating that the Gospel changes people.   And anyone can be changed by the power of the Gospel. 

I encouraged the youth with this…their youth pastor is not here in fairdale looking for the best kids. I’m not looking for the best-dressed, the prettiest, the most polite, the kindest, the most respectful, or the coolest.  All those things are well and good. They just aren’t the focus of the Gospel.  We at FBCF in the youth ministry aren’t looking for any of those things. Nope.  We are looking all throughout Fairdale for the kids that God’s is saving and for the kids who want to know and follow hard after Christ. 

Now, thats exciting!  Who can come to Christ? Anyone.  And I mean anyone! There are no restrictions. So, leave your old life, forsake your sins, and lets go follow Jesus!

“We never saw anything like this!”

This past Wednesday night in the YouthRoom was awesome!  We continued along in Mark’s gospel to chapter 2.  We looked at the first 12 verses where Jesus heals a paralytic.

What an incredible passage! 

As Jesus’ fame grew and grew, the people searched for him continually.  They found him at home and came to his house.  The house was so crowded that when 4 men came carrying a paralytic they could not get him to Jesus. They didn’t give up though.  They decided to let him down through the roof to get him to Jesus.

Picture this…Jesus is at home. So many people come that the entire place is crowded. The door is overflowing and you cannot even get through it or even to it.  The Bible says Jesus was preaching the word to them.  While Jesus is preaching to this huge crowd of people, the roof busts open and down comes a paralytic being carried by four men who are believers in Jesus.  Obviously, this going to be a huge interruption or distraction to Jesus’s preaching. You can picture all the people being astonished, shocked and staring. 

Then Jesus says to the paralytic “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  This is amazing!

The scribes in all their pride and sin, question in their hearts, and say that Jesus is blaspheming. Only God can forgive sins.

Jesus knew that they were questioning him.  So he asks them a question…”which is easier…to say to the paralytic ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘rise, take up your bed, and walk.'”  You see, it is a much easier thing to heal someone physically and temporarily rather than eternally.  For Jesus, it is easier to make a man walk than it is to save him from sin, death, and hell. 

Then Christ proves himself even more and says…”But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”…and then he tells the paralytic to rise, take his bed, and go home.

ok, picture this again, the helpless man who cannot walk lies there on the ground while Jesus’ preaching is interrupted, hundreds of people stand there watching, and the scribes and Jesus have a little debate. After this small debate, Jesus shows his authority, and the paralytic gets up glorifying God.  The scribes are absolutely humiliated, the people rejoice, stand amazed, and glorify God, and the paralytic walks off so humbled.

Everyone’s response…”we never saw anything like this!”

Here’s what got me.  In verse 5, the Bible says “When Jesus saw their faith” he told the paralytic, “your sins are forgiven.”

By no means does this passage teach us that someone can be saved apart from their own faith. The whole Bible teaches us that. But it does remind us and teach us that God so uses people as the means to leading other people to Christ.

To which we asked the question “whose sins are forgiven because of your faith?”

Who sees your faith and says “we never saw anything like this?”

Why we should be able to keep a secret!

This past Wednesday night in the YouthRoom, we once again went straight to the text and learned so much.

I began with a brief discussion on secrets and why we should be able to keep one.  When someone asks you to keep a secret it is because they are discosing some information to you that does not need to be public.  Now, we all know that a lot of secrets are wrong and full of slander and gossip and drama.  I’m not talking about those at all.  I’m talking about a good secret, like some sort of good news.  If someone tells you that  and asks you to not tell anyone, then you shouldnt tell anyone and you should trust that they have a very good reason for asking you to not tell anyone.  There is a good reason why that information does not need to be public.

Well, on Wednesday night we finished up the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, and we had to deal with this issue in the Bible.  In Mark 1, there are a couple instances where Jesus tells people to not tell anyone who He is or what He has done.

Which leads everyone to asking….Why?  Why not tell what Jesus has done?  The man had leprosy and Jesus healed him from it. Then He asked the guy to not tell anyone. WHy?  The leper just had the best thing ever happen to him…Jesus healed his miserably awful skin disease….why could he not tell anyone?  Of course, obviously, everyone was going to be asking him how he was healed?  And Jesus told him not to tell.  Why?

Well, the end of the text gives some light to this “why” question?  And it really is impressive.  As people began to spread the word about Jesus his fame was spreading.  It was already getting to where Jesus could not go out in public because He was always surrounded by so many people.  So the end of Mark summarizes saying that Jesus could no longer go into cities because the crowds were so large.  He had to stay in the rural areas.

Now, why is this significant?

Christ came and lived with one purpose in mind…to die.  His whole purpose in coming was to ransom His people and this could only be done by dying for their sins and appeasing God’s wrath for them.  Every moment of everyday of Christ’s life was a fulfilling of the purpose of getting to the cross.  Jesus did not want anything to get in His way.  His plans were clearly to travel around preaching until they killed Him.  Well, His traveling and preaching was being hindered because of the spreading of His ability to perform miracles.


As we learn that some information doesn’t need to be public until the right time, we stand amazed and humbled at the glorious intensity with which Christ Jesus lived as He was becoming a propitiation for us.  Christ was determined to get to the cross so that in dying on it He could bring us to God.

Now thats awesome!

Get Jesus involved in this!

The Youth who follow Jesus at FBCF are so intensely on fire that the Youth Pastor can hardly keep up.  Their passion, intensity, & reckless pursuit of knowing and growing in the truth of God is setting the pace in our whole church.

Just this week the church needed some major clean up done. Major!! There were trees down and large limbs everywhere in the yard. A chainsaw and 2 trucks were needed.  Guess who did all that?

the Youth!

The Wednesday night dinner last week needed someone to clean up everything…dishes, tables, floor, trash, etc.  Guess who did it?

the Youth!

The wednesday night dinner this week needed someone to prepare it…prepare it, cook it, serve it, etc. Guess who did it?

the Youth!

The wednesday night prayer and Bible study service needed someone to set up everything in the fellowship hall because it was set up for the Baby shower on Sunday night. Guess who did it?

the Youth!

Thats right…young people can and do set the example…in speech, love, faith, conduct, and purity!

Ok, with that said, I had some previous duties I had to do before I could begin teaching the youth.  So the youth got themselves ready and then i arrived in the YouthRoom at 730 to teach. They had already discussed announcements and prayed so they were ready when I got there.

We went back to Mark 1. This time verses 29-34.  I love it in verse 30 how Mark writes that Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told Jesus about her.

This is why I titled this ‘get Jesus involved in this!’

We all are going through something…and always are.  We have family problems, boy or girl problems, self-esteem issues, drama, we hate ourselves, we hate others, we got up and we get down.  The Scriptures continually implore us to look to Jesus, turn our eyes upon Him, set our minds on Him, Have His mind.  Get Jesus involved.  Let Him know about it. 

I showed them how I regularly go to my room, shut the door, kneel down, and pray. We must do this.  Regardless what it is, we must let Jesus know. Get Him involved. Talk to Him. Pray.  Get His wisdom and understanding concerning the matter.

Also, this passage ends by saying that Jesus would not allow the demons to speak concerning who He was.  This same thing was discussed last week.  Why is this?  Why didn’t want people speaking about who He was? why?

Because He was on a mission.  Jesus came to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Jesus came to die.  And He died becuase they didnt believe that He was the  Savior. So they killed Him.  Jesus didnt want anything to stop His purpose, get in His way, interfere with Him accomplishing His task.

So, I concluded and asked.  Do you know who Jesus is?  really?  Do you know who He is?  Do you get Him involved in everything you do?  Have you discussed with him all the issues you are going through?

With Authority!

Last night Wednesday Sept. 10th  was an awesome night for the Youth at FBCF.  We have dinner every wednesday night at our church for anyone who wants to come. Its not just for youth, its for adults and everyone.  There is a lot of work that goes into feeding 60+ people.  Not only preparing the food, but cleaning it all up. Last night, we, the youth group, were the ones responsible for cleaning everything up.  What a blessing this was!  The youth at our church are incredible!  They are so impressive.  Last night, we had 20+ youth down in the kitchen working hard.  Some were scrubbing dishes, some were drying the clean dishes, some were laboring over the filthy popcorn machine, some were wiping down tables, some were sweeping, some were cleanging, organizing, and getting things in order, some were taking out the trash, and all were working collectively to get the church looking good. 

This act of service (as most acts of service do) proved to be not a burden, but a joy.  Because we became like our Lord and served, we were late beginning our youth service. We didnt even get into the YouthRoom until about 7:20.  Then I took several minutes encouraging them, praising them, and exhorting them for that good work.  Then after I finished teaching at about 8:05, we went outside for a big game of football.  What was so impressive to me was the unity and comraderie and fellowship that our youth group possessed last night.  Everyone was so happy and joyful and glad to be around one another.  When I think of what I want our YouthGroup to be, it is that one united Group.  And last night we really looked like it. 

We all worked hard together cleaning the kitchen.  Then we all attentively looked into God’s Word for instructuion and training and growth. (We’re trying to K2G!) Then we all went outside and had a blast just hanging out together.  What a group of kids!  No cliques…just one big body of teens who love each other.  I feel like we are on our way to becoming more and more like the type of YouthGroup that Jesus glories in.  Remember, the world will know that we are Christ’s followers by the way we love one another (John 13:35).  Our youth understand this! Or at least are beginning to, and it is so encouraging to see and be a part of!

All of that was just the fellowship!  We had Bible Study too.  (there are so many reasons why being at church is so important. every believer should make every effort to be there and not miss.  everything that i’ve written above that was so impactful and encouraging and a blessing to me was not from the teaching but from the time spent there. i’m so glad i was a part of that.)

We continued on in the gospel of Mark. Last night we looked at Mk. 1:21-28 concerning Jesus healing a man with an unclean spirit.

Mark says that right after Jesus called those 4 disciples (Simon, andrew, james and john) they went into the synagogue.  When they got there, Jesus was teaching with such great authority that everyone was astonished. His teaching was far greater, far better, far different than the usual teachers. 

I reminded the youth of just who Jesus is.  He has authority.  In reality, He is the authority!  He was walking by a lake and calls out to 4 fishermen “follow me”, and they do.  They drop everything and follow him. Then they follow him into the synagogue where he begins teaching, and everyone there is amazed at the authority with which he teaches.  Another time He is sleeping in the boat when a sea storm begins to scare the grown men so much they begin crying and go wake Jesus.  Jesus commands the winds and waves to stop, and they do.  At the end of Matthew, Jesus reminds them that “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to him.”  Jesus indeed has authority.

So it comes as no surprise at all that Jesus in this text tells the unclean spirit what to do, and it does.  He has authority!  All authority is His!  John the baptist was absolutely right when he said in 1:7 that he is not worthy to stoop down and untie Jesus’s sandals.

Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to be silent and come out of the man. And the unclean spirit did just that. Now, it is interesting to notice what the man with the unclean spirit had been saying that Jesus told him to be silent.  He had said “you are the Holy One of God”.  I went on to ask the Youth is their anything wrong with what hes saying?  Jesus is the Holy One of God.  So whats the problem. 

2 Problems:  1) Jesus didnt want his identity exposed. As he says so often, His time had not yet come. and 2) the unclean spirit was saying who Jesus was without worshiping Jesus. His heart wasnt’t right.

So I asked the youth, what about their hearts?  They claim Jesus is the Holy One of God. Is it worship to Christ and glory to Him?  Or is it from a sinful heart and He wants you to be silent?

This Jesus has authority! So much authority that everything obeys His commands.  If your His child or follower, you will too.!

Follow the Leader!

Last night, Wednesday Sept. 3rd, the YouthRoom was once again full of devotion to God’s Word.  I continually am shocked at how interested these youth are to hear God’s Word taught and explained.  It blesses my soul (makes me so happy) that they are like this.  Nearly every wednesday, despite my sub-par teaching, the youth are dialed in, Bibles in hand, ready to listen.  I thank God for that, and I thank the youth for giving God and me that respect.

We are walking through the Gospel of Mark. We just began a few weeks ago.  God is already at work through this expositional study.  Last night, we focused on a short passage, verses 1:16-20.

This is the passage where Jesus calls his first disciples.  Here in Mark, as well as in John, he calls Simon Peter and his brother Andrew first.  Then the next two are James and John, the two brothers.  All four of these guys are fishermen.  We spent some time discussing characteristics of fishermen.  They are usually not so wealthy. They are down to earth.  Usually not the most educated people. Usually they don’t talk very much. They don’t want to scare the fish away.  They usually aren’t in much of a hurry.  Most of us are pretty familiar with fishermen, and there is no reason to think any differently about these four men.

As Jesus passes by them, he simply says to them “Follow me.”  And they do.

Three times in this short text we see the word “follow.”  We spent most of the evening discussing what it means to follow Jesus.  As I expected, when i asked the youth what it means to follow Jesus or to be a follower of Him, they answered “to believe in him.”

I went on to explain that while that is true it also consists of so much more. 

We follow Him because He is worth following.  We follow Him because He has forgiven us and made us new. We have experience His changing us and so we follow HIm.

We concluded by saying that a great test for ourselves as to whether we are following Christ or not is do we love the things he loves and hate the things he hates.

As the K2G teaches, are we committed and bound to God and His truth as communicated to us in His word, and therefore feel a real and personal attachment to Him.  And then therefore are we loving what He loves and hating what he hates? 

If we are, then we most likely are true followers of Jesus!  Whereever He leads, I’ll go!

Types of Baptism from Mark 1

Last night, Wednesday August 27th, the YouthRoom was very intense.  The youth are settling down now that school has started back.  There are some serious things going on in the lives of our youth. And therefore hearing from God’s Word is exactly what we all were needing last night.

We looked at Mark 1:4-15.  I spent a little bit of time explaining that true saving faith is a two-sided coin. John the Baptist, Jesus, and all preachers in the Bible preach that one is saved by believing and repenting.  Just like a penny has Abraham Lincoln on one side and the Lincoln monument on the other,  true faith has faith & repentance.  If a penny only has one of those sides, something is wrong & its not a real penny.  If someone has only faith, or only repentance, without the other, something is wrong & its not a real faith.

Verses 9 & 10 say that Jesus was baptized and that “he came up out of the water”.  I took just a few minutes to explain baptism.  Baptism is a transliteration.  It wasnt translated into english. The reason being is that it means immersion.  Essential to being baptized is going completely under the water.  The water must cover all of you.

Well, John said he baptized with water, and that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.  We spent a lot of time discussing this and trying to sort out the different types of baptism.

I reminded the Youth of John 16:7 where Jesus tells the disciples that it is to their advantage that He go away.  After dying for our sins and coming back to life, he left earth and ascended to heaven.  After that, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to come and live inside His people.  This happens at the moment someone gets saved.  Whenever someone truly embraces the 2-sided coin of faith and repentance, God makes them new and fills them with His spirit (that is salvation and that is Spirit baptism).  After someone has been saved, they are then to be baptized in water as an outward sign of what has happened in their lives.  Just as Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, so they have died to self and sin, been buried, and risen again to newness of life in Jesus empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit didn’t come to live in people until Pentecost in Acts 2.  So there were some people who actually got water baptized before they had the Spirit.  They believed, John the Baptist baptized them, but they need the Spirit.  Once Christ left, He sent it to them.

I asked the youth frankly, did they have either of those baptisms.

One youth raised his hand and told us he wanted to repent and be saved and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Three more raised their hands and told us they want to be baptized.

Praise the Lord!

Skittles & the Gospel of Mark

Even at 28 years old, I think it is so much fun to try and throw and catch food in your mouth.  We did this last night for the first 10 minutes in the YouthRoom.  It was awesome.  Its interesting how some people can be so good at it and others be so bad.  I had a big bag of skittles and I was just tossing them to all the youth.  Perhaps the most hilarious moment in all of it was Val trying to catch a skittle. I think I cracked her tooth!  It was a pretty good toss and she made a good attempt, but it was maybe an inch off and hit her tooth. Everyone could hear the clanging cracking sound.  We all busted out laughing.

We began a new series last night in Youth.  We are continuing with the K2G theme.  As has been our approach for years, we are teaching through the Bible.  We have been waiting for summer to end and school to begin back so that we could begin this new series.  In support of the K2G, I have found that the Youth most benefit from us teaching through the Bible expositionally. Each and every week from now until we are finished, I will be walking us through the gospel of Mark.

So last night, I did a little intro. to the book.  Mark is the first and shortest gospel written of the four.  Mark’s goal clearly was not to give the most thorough account but to simply produce an account of Jesus.  It is brief, to the point, and often fast paced.  And while it is shorter than the other gospels, it gives the most attention to Jesus’ last days and the cross.

Last night, Wednesday, August 20th, we looked at Mark 1:1-8 concerning John the Baptist.  John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning one who would come and prepare the way for Jesus.  John came preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins.  But we focused on another challenging statement from John the Baptist.

In verse 7, he says “after me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”  What a perspective!  Nowadays, we wouldn’t dare be so foolish or weak to tie someone else’s shoes.  Yet, John says he’s not worthy to.  That is the proper attitude, approach, perspective that we should have toward Jesus.

I asked the youth ‘what position do you have toward Christ?’  I challenged them to have the same attitude and approach to Christ as we see in John the Baptist.  As he says elsewhere “He must increase, but I must decrease.” -John 3:30

Wednesday Night, August 13th

Please forgive me for not posting our Bible study from last week. 

Needless to say, it was a tough week.  Pastor Josh’s wife Alison’s sister, Carla died unexpectedly.  I was in the middle of teaching the youth last wednesday night when I recieved the saddening text message from Pastor. 

I continued teaching. I didn’t tell the youth until after church.  Carla was very young and this comes as an absolute shock to everyone.  James 4:14 obviously comes to mind “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”  And then also Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Our deepest concerns go out to Pastor and Alison and their family.  We will continue to pray for them.

I don’t want to say much else. But I did teach last wednesday.  I taught a very serious eye-opening message from Luke 16:19-31 which is the rich man and Lazarus.  I taught on the fact that Hell is real and it is not just a place for bad people.  It is awful.  This passage luminates for us the reality of death and hell and the urgent need to be right with God.

Along with the sudden death of a young mother, I hope and pray that this passage will cause all of us to run to Christ and escape Hell.

I hate not being there.

Last night, Wednesday night, August 6th, I was not able to be in Youth.  I hate it when I miss. I was at church working most of the day, and I was even there until church began right at 7 o’clock.  But during the afternoon my stomach blew up on me and it was too much to overcome.  I had hoped to perservere through the cramping so that I could still teach, but I couldnt.  I am so thankful for Josh Wamble.  He is a dear brother, and he was able to teach youth on very short notice.  I look forward to being back with the youth on Sunday morning.

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