The Family Series


This week we at Merge we are beginning a new series on the Family.

I’m really excited about this series because we all come from a family. Good, bad, or otherwise we are all attached to some type of family unit. The good thing about what we will talk about applies to all family dynamics including how students relate to the adults in charge of their lives, how they relate to their siblings, and what God has to say about their family.

I have three specific goals for this series that I want students to walk away with:

  1. I want them to know what it means to honor their parents and have some practical ways of honoring them in the coming weeks.
  2. How students should respond and submit to the authority in our lives.
  3. How students can communicate more effectively with their parents.

Each week during merge we will come up with 2 take home challenges for them do during the next week.

One thing I want to ask you as parents on the front end of the series, is for you to be open to your student looking for ways to change how they relate to you (in a good way). I’m praying that God does something very special in your families through this series and that He turns what can be a challenging time, into something that forever changes the relationship between parents and students.

I will be posting regularly on how the series is going and specifics on what I hope is changing in your home.

As always thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your family.



Sex and Dating series Recap


Two weeks ago, we started our yearly look at sex and dating for our middle school students.

The reason we do this was made so clear to me when a student asked, “Why are we studying this in church?!”

I’m sure many of the other students in the room were wondering the same thing, but he was the only one willing to voice it.

My answer to him was simple. The reason we do this series is because the world around us has expressed its views about sex and if we as the church do not stand up and talk about God’s designs and views on sex, then our student will believe the wrong messages and believe the lie that the world tells about sex.

Attached below you will find my notes from the past weeks. I provide these so I can be as transparent with you as possible. Since these are my notes, it might be hard to know what I meant, or what I was trying to say. Please contact me so I can answer any questions you might have.

Also below you’ll find some links that will help you as you prepare to and talk to your student about sex and dating. There are also some great resources dealing with pornography.

My hope and prayer is that this will help you as you have conversations with your student about sex. I say conversations because we are long past the time where a simple sex talk would do. The sex talk needs to happen regularly.

I told our students that I love them and that even more than your love for them is God’s love for them. He wants them to date well. He wants them to make wise decisions when it comes to dating and sex. He also wants them to marry well.

All of these things are hard to when they have the wrong views of sex and dating.

Please let me know how I can best serve you and your family.

Week 1 Notes

Week 2 Notes


 Tips for Parents on Talking About Porn

What to do if Your Student is Looking at Porn

Your Children and Sex

Pornography and Sex

Books for Students on Sex from Christian Authors


DR Mission Trip Update #3

image image image image image image image imageWell, we are currently sitting in the Charlotte airport–again, haha, for our flight home. Everything is good though as our flight is on time and our flight this AM was smooth. I thought I would take this chance to summarize the projects we did with Pastor Yorbi.

The first construction project was the roof of the church. Our team had to scrape, scrub, and Clorox the roof in order to paint it. It was hard and very hot work but, by the third day, they were able to paint! Our team on the roof were mostly girls which impressed the community around us!

The second project at the Baptist Church was to break apart a concrete slab, dig out about two feet of dirt to level out a floor, and build a shelter to feed kids breakfast every Sunday morning. The work was tough, but our team did a great job of rotating workers and figuring out the most efficient way of breaking up and shoveling the dirt. While we were working, some men from the church welded metal supports for the roof. They put the roof on and the project was finished!

In the afternoon, Pastor Yorbi’s team also did children’s ministry. We had over 100 kids every day come for the program. We used a local shelter with a volleyball court to hold the VBS. Pastor Yorbi’s passion for children’s ministry was evident as he jumped in and helped lead some songs and talk with the kids. Our team was incredibly helpful as they planned bible story, crafts, games, and we even combined bands for music.

At both sites, our teams were shown incredible hospitality and fed very well for lunch each day. Pastor Yorbi had us for lunch in his own home everyday.

Thats a quick summary of both worksites and I hope each post helps spark conversation with your teenager about this life-changing trip!


DR Mission Trip Update #2

I finally have a few minutes of spare time and so I thought it would be great to post an update. I would like to take the chance to walk you through the different ministry opportunities we had this week.image image image image image image image image image

Team Pastor Francis is the team who is working with Oasis Church. Every morning, the team does construction projects and every afternoon we do children’s ministry.

The construction projects were difficult but incredibly rewarding. Our team was split into three groups–two working on building cinder block homes and one digging a well.  The construction of the homes involved moving cinder blocks from the road to the work site, mixing concrete (by shovel not machine!), and laying the block with the help of a Maestro (a foreman). By the middle of our first day many of our students picked up on the process so fast, they could work on their own without help from the Maestro.

The most satisfying part of building the home had to be working with the family who would be living in it. Wilson is the name of the Dad, his wife’s name is Carla, and they have a toddler named Wilbur. Wilson was out there every day, showing us how to build, and getting to know each other pretty effectively despite the language barrier. He was so grateful for the ministry we were providing and impressed with how hard we were working. Leaving him was a bittersweet moment as we really developed a strong relationship as brothers in Christ!

The other project at Oasis Church was our well digging project. One of the church members, Elizabeth, shared with us how she walks over a mile with her kids every day to the church to take showers. Her eyes welled up as she spoke about their need for water. Our well team worked so hard to begin the process for her family to have the access to water she so desperately needs. We were able to get down through the most difficult layers of dirt and roots so that another team will be able to complete the 40-ft well! Elizabeth was so grateful but also spoke of her family’s joy that, despite not having access to water, she knows the One who gives Living Water!

We haven’t even talked about children’s ministry so I will summarize it briefly. We were blown away by the amount of kids that showed up each day for VBS! At Oasis Church we had around 70 kids each day. Our students were responsible for leading the bible story, craft, music, and everything else and they did a phenomenal job of sharing the love of Christ with each kid.

We wrapped up with a big thank you time and we all came away with a sense of humility in the opportunity to serve Christ together and share the Gospel with the community as the Global Church. The church was so hospitable and poured into us, and hopefully, we also poured into them. There is so much more, but little time, so I look forward to tthe conversations we will all have at home!

Here are a few pics from Team Francis and I will update you as soon as I can on team Yorbi!




DR Mission Team Update #1

As I am sitting here waiting on the rest of our team to arrive from the airport in Santo Domingo at our hotel (THEY HAVE LANDED AND ARE ON THE WAY!), I wanted to quickly write a post and update everyone on our team.

There is probably way too much that could be said about the past 36 hours of travel but here is what I feel might be most important:

1. God is in control! He has been so faithful to meet our needs.

2. God must have something incredible in store for this week!

3. We have some absolutely incredible students and adults who have been amazing through this process with incredible, selfless attitudes! The praying pelican staff has been phenomenal and flexible and has taken great care of us!

4. God is at work! After day 1, we debriefed with some of our team here at the Hotel. It is amazing what God is already teaching us and the ways he I stretching us.

Quick day recap: Today, the students and adults who are here were able to eat lunch at Pastor Francis’ church and dinner at Pastor Yorbi’s. So we met both groups and really connected with both.

We were introduced to a couple we will be helping build a small, cinder block shelter for a home–really making our work here tangible. They have a family of three and so what we build will be their residence for years to come and they were so incredibly grateful.

We were able to connect with some kids and adults despite a language barrier which we all really enjoyed.

We sat through two touching service, one a graduation for women who were a part of a baking ministry at Pastor Francis’ church (Oasis Church). They are using the program to give some of their women a practical skill to bring into the marketplace.

At the Baptist Church, Pastor Yorbi delivered a message that hit is right at home about how we are called to rejoice in sharing in Christ’s suffering and to know He is worth it–pretty relevant message huh? Puts our momentary suffering in lots of perspective.

Hope this helps orientate you to today. Here are some pics.

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Merge Recap-October 26

NEW series WS.001


Series: NEW: What does it mean to be made new? (week 4 of 4)
Message in a sentence: As Christians, the Holy Spirit produces fruit in us much different than our sinful nature.
Key Scripture: Galatians 5:16-26

Last night we ended our discussion based series called NEW, and I think it was my favorite of all four weeks.

We talked at length about the difference between our sin nature and the nature of the Holy Spirit. These natures are completely opposite from each other and are constantly warring inside of a Christian.

I think my favorite question what we wrestled with last night was: Do you think Paul is saying that Christ-followers who get angry or have sexually impure thoughts or actions won’t go to heaven? 

The students had a great grasp on the fact that a Christian is forgiven of all sin, but if the sins committed are a repeated sin pattern and a person never feels bad or convicted of that sin, that person might not be a Christian after all.

As Christians we do not have a license to sin. As Christians are goal is to live a life like Christ, who was sinless. We need to be real and know we will sin, but we should not use that as a excuse to sin.


Merge Recap-October 5

NEW series WS.001


Series: NEW: What does it mean to be made new?
Message in a sentence: Our God reveals Himself to us in a variety of ways.
Key Scriptures: Psalm 19:1, Matthew 18:20, John 14:25-26

On Sunday we began a new series called New: What does it mean to be made new? In this series we will being looking at what it means to be a Christ follower, how to accept Christ, and how to live in the new life that we find in Him.

Our approach to this series will be different than what we’ve done so far. This series will be very discussion oriented, with my role as guiding the conversation students have in their groups. I think this type of teaching will work well with our students.

To kick off the series we talked all about how our God is a knowable God. That He is not distant or Someone we can’t understand. There are parts of Him that we can’t understand this side of eternity, but there are things about His character, His likes and dislikes, how He loves and provides for us, and other things we can know about Him.

We then broke into groups to talk about the scriptures listed above. We had great conversations about how God reveals Himself through nature, the heavens (skies, stars, and planets), through our relationships with other believers, and how the Holy Spirit draws us closer to the Father.

This series fits so well in the overall vision for the Middle School Ministry at Riverland Hills, where we look to lay the foundation that students will build on in high school and college.

Check back each week to see what your student is learning about their walk with Christ.