In skimming one of my kids magazines this week there was verse (that I can't find now) that says, "Even when they went under the sea they found God's handiwork there."
We are guilty of building surface people or only applying ourselves to the things that people can see. But what if people were able to look under the surface or in the private parts of our lives.
God could of said, "Lets put some water over there and cover up all the things that I was not able to finish." Yet the writer says that all the things that were created were amazing but even when we looked under the water we found His handiwork also.
The iceberg analogy comes into play here. What we see from the surface is possibly 25%. There is another 75% you don't know about. There is a depth of a person about God that is a mystery. He is doing more things than you see on the surface. I believe that is how our lives should be.
Just recently I was talking to someone who is facing a possible $50k-$100k surgery. A few years before God had opened the door for them to have a job that has great insurance. God knew years before that this surgery was coming, that this job was needed.
God is always working and managing the things we can see and the things we cannot see.
I currently work with someone on occasion that has Jupiter Island connections. I have known them for about half a year. When I took a vacation this summer she was so blown away that I was doing it to be a part of a youth camp. Her surface impression of me did not describe who I fully am.
Rather than develop the surface - develop things under the surface the parts of your life where people cannot see.
I talked to a widow this year and she said, "I never realized the things my husband was doing for me while I was alive so that I would not be left with chaos. He was so organized and detailed and I never noticed but I am thankful every day for his quiet work. There were parts I never saw yet he quietly took care of me and my future."
Very few of us are concerned about the little things; our health, our finances, our attitude, use of our time, etc.
Written By: Scott Blackmon
Moses is now 80 years old. He is a fugitive from Egypt. He lives with his father-in-law Jethro and keeps Jethro's sheep. He does not appear to be a likely choice for the ministry God has in mind. The rod he held in his hand and his personality identified him as a shepherd. That rod was a constant reminder that he had never reached his fullest potential in the Lord.
Forty years earlier God had moved on his heart to deliver Israel from Egypt. Back then he ran ahead of God and took matters into his own hand. II. He held his problem in his hand. Moses might have remembered the time when his hands held a scepter.
The things we have in our hands have the ability to define us. They even determine how we serve the Lord. If I allow the negative aspects of my life to control me, then I will stand in the way of the Lord and of His will being done in my life. We are to be controlled by no thing but the Lord Jesus Christ.
Moses held his potential in his hand. Here's the point: to Moses that rod was nothing but a tool a weapon, a necessary part of his life. It supported, protected, and guides his flock. But when the stick was given over to the Lord, it became a living thing. It became a thing of power that God used to defeat Israel's enemies and to glorify God. It was used to confront the Egyptian soothsayers. It was used to bring the different plagues. It was used to part the Red Sea. It was used to cause the Red Sea to come together again, drowning Pharaoh and his army. It was used to bring water from a rock in the desert. It was used to bring victory over the Amalekites.
Had it remained in Moses's hands, it would have never held power from God, but because he yielded it and obeyed, God used it. The things we hold in our hands could be musical talents, personality abilities, artistic gifts, people skills, etc.: I do not know what you hold in your hand today. But this I do know: If what you hold in your hand is not yielded to the Lord, it is a hindrance in your life! It holds you back from being everything you could be for the Lord. Not only does it hold you back, but it also affects everyone around you!
Written By: Joan Blackmon
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
In the years leading up to the Civil War Lincoln was looking for a general that knew how to lead an army and fight.
The person in charge of the army at the time Lincoln was looking was - General McClellan. Lincoln was known to have said, “If General McClellan isn't going to use his army, I'd like to borrow it for a time.”
If you would have met Lincoln or Grant you may not have been impressed. They were not polished; they were both casual and they both got things done quickly and quietly.
Lincoln and Grant had many things in common – poor father figures, long bouts away from their spouses, both of them were devoted family men and loving fathers, both exercised extraordinary self-control and both were modest and humble.
Yet the greatest thing they had in common was they were both pragmatists – willing to do whatever was necessary to win the war.
When Lincoln found out about Ulysses S Grant he was known to have said, “I cannot afford to lose him. He fights.” His nickname became “U.S.” which stood for his initials and “Unconditional Surrender”. Grant fought until he won. Grant was known as the “Butcher” because he would throw as many bodies as possible at a battle until he had won.
Today we have people that are not fighting, for the right things, for many reasons.
I think one of the biggest compliments I could ever receive would be
“I like him – he fights for what is right.”
Written By: Scott Blackmon
In the age of the Roman Empire it has been said by historians that they found the same city built over 500 times in Northern Africa. No one really wanted to be ruled by another country but if Rome took control there were lots of benefits. You got new roads, armed guards, a new city complete with infrastructure and libraries. You became part of the Roman Empire network where you could travel more freely and ship goods more often.
One of the reasons I work at UPS is because of their benefits. They paid a large percentage of my master’s degree. When my wife had children, UPS covered it almost 100%. Vision, dental and prescriptions are all the same and it is just a part time job.
If someone works for you as an employee, what are the benefits.
If you are married or have a child at home, what are the benefits? I have found that a $1 donut, ten minutes throwing football, making my a cup of coffee and providing a listening ear is some of the most precious benefits you can give your family and make deep connections.
The attitude you have to take is - “How can I serve?” rather than “How can I be served?”
I am talking from an adult point of view but as a child what can you do to benefit your parents?
I sometimes make it my goal to go home and pick up and put away 50 things. Take responsibility for the laundry, a Sunday morning meal or the trash.
If you read Psalms 103 it will tell you some of the benefits of being a Christian – He forgives my sins – He heals all my diseases – He redeemed my life from destruction – He crowned me with tender mercies – He satisfies my mouth with good things – so that my youth can be renewed like the eagles.
Written By: Scott Blackmon
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
There is something about me that not many people know, I love cameras especially old ones. There is nothing better than loading film in to an old camera bringing it back to life. I have some that date back all the way to 1946 that I still use. Those cameras are some of my most valued items.
My favorite camera in my collection was my DJI Phantom 4 Drone. It’s was so much fun to use for photography and videography. It was fun to fly around, and you could get some really cool angles that you can’t get on a normal camera.
Notice that I said was my favorite. I was filming the new intro for Youth Challenge when a gust of wind blew my drone in to a tree, and then it fell into the river. My drone was ruined. To say It was a very long trip home from Youth Challenge this year is an understatement. All I thought about is that drone that I lost. Not only the drone, but all the money and the footage that were gone forever.
That situation caused me to completely lose focus on the main reason I went there in the first place. Which was to support my youth group. That situation taught me the valuable lesson that is taught in Matthew 6, that material goods are not as important as what we do for eternity. Let us live with eternity in mind.
Written By: Anthony Wilson
When I was a teenager, I can remember my father telling my brother and I before we left for youth camp, “Remember, you’re Slagenweit’s.” Now, he wasn’t telling us that because he was afraid we would forget our last name. Nor was he telling us that to remind us to whom we belonged. No, he was telling us because he wanted to remind us that we represented the Slagenweit’s…there was an image that he wanted us to keep untarnished.
When someone says about you, “They’re a Christian,” they are saying something about you. I want to remind you of what it means when you’re a Christian.
In Peter’s first letter he wrote these words, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellences of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (NASB)
Let me give you five things to think about before you head out for the day…
First, you are chosen…not only has God chosen you (Jesus said in John 15:16- You did not choose Me but I chose you…), but also you are a choice individual. When God saves you, you’re no longer ordinary, you’re extraordinary!
Second, you’ve got connections…the High Priest was the only one that had direct access into the Holy of Holies, the place where God’s presence dwells. When you are in Christ, you have direct access to God. You have all the help, wisdom, power and resources at your fingertips…ok, prayers.
Third, you’ve got distinction…being holy isn’t about being different for different sake. It’s about being exclusively God’s. Now tell me, in a dating relationship, you want your boyfriend/girlfriend to be exclusively yours don’t you? Of course, you don’t want to just one of many others they love. So too God wants to be exclusively ours, and for us to be exclusively His.
Fourth, you’ve got clout…you belong to God. When you belong to God through faith in Jesus, you are a treasure to God. Now let me ask you, what do you do with the items that you highly treasure? Are you casual with them? Not at all. Yes, there are times that God will allow you to be in dangerous spots, tempted, and in perplexing situations, but He never forgets where you are…EVER!
Fifth, you’ve got a witness…God tells you these things so that you may proclaim the excellences of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
So before you head out today I want to tell you something very important, “Don’t forget you’re a Christian.”
Written By: Jay Slagenweit
LIST YOUR WEAKNESSES
Read Judges 6 and view Gideon’s weaknesses.
God loves people who humble themselves and admit their weaknesses so that He can work mighty wonders in their life.
Written By: Scott Blackmon
We hear a lot in the world around us about the need to have self-confidence and a good self-image. You may have also heard others say that self-image and self-confidence are just the world's substitute for trusting God. But guess what? It's really not that simple.
Yes, self-confidence is a very poor substitute for faith. But there's much more to it than that. How can you really believe that God loves you if, deep down, you are privately convinced that you are not worth being loved by God or anyone else? It's really difficult to trust God when, if the deepest recesses of my soul, I feel valueless and rejected? How can I trust God to take care of me if I'm privately certain that I'm simply not worth being taken care of?
I don't know if this has been prevalent throughout church history, but it's a real problem in today's church. While I am not a great fan of a lot of contemporary Christian music, CCM is often more in touch with the Christian world today than many churches are. They have to be, in order to write and perform music that resonates with Christians, especially young Christians. And there is a lot of CCM that talks about struggling with feelings of worthlessness and being unloved.
Setting aside the anecdotes and lyrics, though, is the idea of having a good self-image Scriptural? The fact is that Scripture warns us repeatedly against taking too high a view of ourselves. For example, one should not "think more highly of himself than he ought to" (Rom 12:3); "everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD" (Prov 16:5). And there are many more such passages. Throughout history, the usual problem has been that people's self-image has been too inflated.
But there is another side to it. Romans 12:3 (quoted above) also tells us to "think [of ourselves] soberly." (The word "soberly" here means "realistically" or "honestly.") And Hebrews 11:6 says, "He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." So when a person's self-image makes it difficult to believe that God would reward them for seeking Him, that is a huge problem spiritually. I've come to realize that often people seeking God during altar services are struggling with issues related to their self-image.
If the best we have to offer is some platitude like "get your eyes off yourself and onto God," the battle is lost before it's begun. We are dealing with very deep issues here, and they take time. But there are ways to offer real help.
First, encourage the seeker to trust God in spite of their conviction that they aren't worth His help. It's hard, but it's possible. And that is where they have to start. God knows the struggle they are having deep in their soul, and He'll walk them through it step by step.
Second, work to create and maintain an atmosphere of acceptance and caring. Because, like it or not, God uses us. God communicates His love through you and me. That means that if we want people to experience God's love, we have to show that love in very practical ways. Frankly, that sounds more difficult - and more touchy-feely - than it is.
Third, realize that you do not know who is in the middle of this struggle. It could be the shy withdrawn girl, or it could be the popular guy that everyone looks up to. That means we have to be there for everyone around us. And (surprise, surprise) that's exactly what Scripture says we should do anyway. It's called "fellowship," koinonia, sharing life. And it's how the Christian life is supposed to work every day.
Written By: Dr. Steve Oliver
How does your youth group or church treat people who are new?
According to a quick google search says that there are 34 verses that make mention to crowds surrounding Jesus.
Some of them were curios crowds. Some of them followed because they expected Him to be the next leader. Some of the crowds just wanted to see a quick miracle. Some of them were listening crowds and several were angry and condemning crowds.
What interest me are the people who had actual needs, that desired to get to Jesus, but could not because of the crowd.
We have people that visit churches and yet it is sometimes the crowd around Jesus that turns them off to the gospel.If we are not careful we develop an “us and them” mentality.
One pastor visited his own church dressed as a homeless person and found that only a few people were nice and offered him money but many did not even make eye contact, carry a conversation or even ask his name.
If you are one of the people that carry the name of Christ – please do not be a road block to those who need Jesus.
There once was a crowd who surrounded Jesus. The people were hungry so Jesus told the disciples to go around and ask the people for food.They found only one boy who was prepared with five loaves and two fishes. Next time you are in the crowd:
1. Come prepared.
2. Come willing to give.
3. Come willing to see Jesus bless the multitude with a miracle that can only come from God.
4. It is not all about you – but God is willing to use you if you are humble.
Written By: Scott Blackmon
The Bible tells us that just before Jesus began His public ministry, He went into the wilderness for 40 days of temptation (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13). We are told about three of the three temptations that Christ endured:
These three temptations have a remarkable similarity to the very first temptation, when Satan in the guise of a serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Garden had everything anyone could possibly want, but there was just one tree that God said not to eat from. In Genesis 3:6, Eve saw that the fruit on this one forbidden tree:
Now, the similarity between the two temptations might not be immediately obvious, but let's look a bit deeper.
So the principles behind the temptations are the same, but there are two glaring differences. Eve had no pressing needs like hunger or pain, no fear of the future, no real reason to do wrong. But Jesus was extremely weak and hungry at the time. He knew that His future held pain, rejection, persecution and death. The temptations for Jesus were much more difficult than for Eve.
And Eve sinned. She and Adam both fell, and brought pain, suffering and death into the world. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, was victorious. Even though the temptations were much more severe, He triumphed over same temptations that our first parents faced - and that we face. When you are tempted, remember: Jesus already overcame your temptation, and He will help you overcome as well.
Written by: Dr. Steve Oliver