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.

Merge Recap-September 21



Series: The Red Stuff
Message in a sentence: As followers of Christ, we should look different and make a difference
Key Scriptures: Matthew 5:13-16

Last night we concluded our series The Red Stuff by looking at what Jesus says about His followers. It was probably my favorite of the three weeks. Our passage of scripture was rich with imagery and application for myself and students.

We talked about how we as Christians are to display Christ. That we aren’t supposed to look like everyone around and our lives should be marked by Christ.

We talked about how we can look different on our sports teams, at home with our parents and siblings, and at school. We also talked about how we are not alone when we look different. There are other Christians with us and Jesus promises to be with us.

The second point we looked at was how we are supposed to look different. We talked about some of the uses for salt. In my research I found that there are 14,000 uses for salt like preserving food, cleaning, and some health applications.

Jesus calles us the salt of the earth and we really dove into the idea about what flavor are we as Christians bringing out to the world around us.

We talked about how some of our student’s friends don’t go to church or own a Bible, so whatever our students show about Christ is all their friends know about Him.

The same is true for adults. What flavor are we bring out of those around us? How are we displaying Christ to our co-workers and even our children?

The beauty about this series is that it’s not just for students or adults, but all of us who want to follow Jesus as closely as possible.

Merge Recap-True Story

True Story BKG


Series: True Story (week 1 of 2)
Message in a Sentence: We all have a story of how Christ saved us and what he is doing in our lives now.
Main Scripture: Galatians 6:9-17

There is something very special about a good story that draws us in. Whether it’s a book, TV show, movie, or even a song, we love a good story.

For this series we will be talking about our faith story or our testimony. If we have accepted Christ, we have a story. We are no longer who we were, Christ has come and made us into something new. And as growing Christ followers, He should be teaching us new things about Him and our relationship with Him. All of this makes up our testimony.

I wanted to encourage students in several ways.

1) That people they go to school with generally know if they are a Christian or not and they are watching to see what Christian acts like.
2) Wanting to be a witness is not something we natural want to do. We are constantly battling our sin nature, and our sin nature doesn’t want to put Christ on display, but as Christians that is what we are called to.
3) We need to keep our focus on Christ. He is the one who starts and finishes our salvation.
4) Have conversations about what God is doing in our lives can be as easy as any other conversation we can have.

I used Dnow as an example. God did something special last weekend in the lives of our students. From the Bible study times, to the worship times, and everything in between-God was working. It’s been great to listen to students talk about last weekend.

Students can use what happened last weekend to talk about what God is doing in their lives. It provides an easy opportunity for students to talk about their faith. And that’s the whole goal of the series.

Parents: I want to encourage you to find a time to share to story of how you came to Christ with your student. It’s a cool thing to know that God is working in the lives of your parents.

Merge Recap 3/2


Seres: Promise Maker, Promise Keeper (week 3 of 4)
Message in a Sentence: All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ.
Main Scriptures: Acts 17:17-23, 26-33, 38-39

At the beginning of this series I knew for this specific week I want to have a guest speaker. The reason behind this was because we talked about the promise that was fulfilled in Christ. This is the most important message in the series since it talked about Christ being the Son of God, how he died for our sin, and rose again.

Students have heard me talk about this before and sometimes bringing in another voice who brings the same message, but in a different way, can help students make a connection with Christ.

This week I brought in one of our former college students and someone who is considering full time ministry, Travis Teague. He has also done some speaking at Fall Retreat last year.

Travis did a great job presenting the promise of Christ from Acts 13. He also brought out 7 points out of this passage to help see God’s promise in Christ.

1) God is faithful even in our disobedience 
2) God’s promises are fulfilled in His ways and His time
3) God makes His promises for our good and His glory
4) All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ
5) God promised Jesus would come, be broken, and be killed
6) God promised Jesus would be raised and seated at God’s right hand
7) The promised of God rest on His grace

All of these points are illustrated in the main passage.

Travis also set up a promise that is made to us when we receive Christ: This is the promise that he made to us–eternal life. 1 John 2:25
With that eternal life come forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to be with Christ forever! What a great promise that God makes to us through Christ.

We encouraged students to accept Christ if they haven’t yet or to find comfort in that promise that they have if they have accepted Christ.

As everyone left we handed our cards that had different links for smartphone wallpapers. I’m excited for these because they provide a reminder of God’s promises to our student and can be a conversation piece for their friends who might not know Christ.

I want encourage you to download them for you smartphone or tablet.

Merge Recap 2/23

PMPK sign3


Series: Promise Maker, Promise Keeper (week 2 of 4)
Message in a Sentence: Sometimes God’s promise can take a long time to be fulfilled, but he is faithful and will do what He promises.
Main Scripture: Genesis 22, Hebrews 11:17-19

This week as we continued to look at the fact that God is a promise maker and promise keeper, I thought it would be good to look at an Old Testament example of God being faithful to his promise.

We looked at the story of Abraham and when God called him in Genesis 12. We then traced the story through chapters 13, 15, 16 and 17 till the promise is fulfilled in Genesis 21. This process took 25 years! I think this is interesting because I think a lot of times we want God to move immediately, but He’s got his own time table and I believe his timing is perfect.

I wanted our students to know that just because God’s promise has not been fulfilled yet, doesn’t mean he won’t keep it.

Then we turned to chapter 22, where God asks Abraham to sacrifice Issac as a sign of his faith in God. I could have simply read this part of the passage, but I found a video that perfectly sets up all the emotion and feelings that sometimes we miss.

<p><a href=”″>The Fatal Place</a>


Hebrews 11 gives some insight into Abraham’s faith. I, even as a pastor, have trouble understanding that level of trust in God, but that’s the faith that He has called us. And that’s why I think this series is so important to our students. To show them how God keeps his promise and because he keeps his promises We Can Trust Him. 

We finally landed in Romans 4 where it says 2 important things:
1) The promise is received by faith (v.16)
2) Abraham was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. (v.21)

Merge Recap 1/12

Merge Loops WS.032

Sunday night we had what I’m calling an Ask Me Night. For two weeks I’d been talking with students and providing cards for them to write me questions on any topic. I also threw it out on social media. I took all the questions and we made a night of it.

One of the main reasons for doing this was so that our students would get to know me better. They asked questions about me now, me in middle school and high school, and some really off the wall stuff. It also allowed them to ask specific question about our faith that they may not have asked otherwise.

The one question that I really spent time a lot of time with was If Jesus was Jewish and we are supposed to model our lives like His, why are we not Jewish?

This is a great question that I myself have never thought about and was really fun to figure out the answer. So today I’ll unpack it here on the blog.

There are 2 uses for Jew
1) Ethnically
2) Religiously

I think we all understand that there is a race of people who are Jewish. The heart of our question is rooted in the religion side.

God through Abraham started the Jewish people. Genesis 12:1-3

Jesus came and completed the Jewish religion because He was the Messiah, the one the prophets had foretold about.

God promised Abraham that through his family line the nations would be blessed. In Matthew 1:1-17, we see how Jesus is connected to Abraham and David, just like was promised.

The Jewish faith in 2014 is still waiting for the promised Messiah. We as Christians believe that Jesus is that promised Messiah and has come died for our sin and be raised again.

We also believe that Jesus is bigger than any one race and came for all mankind. Romans 1:16 tells us that God revealed His Son Jesus first to the Jews then to Gentiles, proving that He has come for all mankind.

Some great further reading is Romans 2:28-29, all of Romans 4, and Galatians 3:6-14

Sunday night was a fun night that had a really good laid back feeling. I think our students really enjoyed the feel and getting the chance to be heard.