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-September 14



Series: The Red Stuff
Message in a sentence: Jesus made some amazing claims and we have to make a decision on whether we believe them or not.
Key Scriptures: John 14:9, Luke 19:10, John 14:6

We are off to an amazing start to our semester at Merge! The energy going into each night has been really high and it’s been a blast to be with our middle school students.

This week we continued in our series The Red Stuff, where we are looking at some of the things Jesus said and how they apply to us. This week we looked at What Jesus said about Himself?

We looked at 3 statement:
1) Jesus said He was God
2) Jesus said He was Savior
3) Jesus said He was the only way to heaven

We spent a lot of our time with the last statement. Jesus being the only way to heaven is a very controversial thing in 2014. Lots of people think that Jesus is one of many ways to heaven. The only problem with this is what Jesus actually said. He said I am THE Way, The Truth and THE Life.

We ended our night by talking about the fact that we have to do something with the statements. Believe them, dismiss them, ignore them, we have to make so sort of decision about them. In-decision is a choice against believe Jesus.

I  really wanted to stress to students that they have to make a decision about Christ for themselves. Their parents, their friends, and myself cannot accept Christ for them, it is a personal decision.

Next week we end the series by looking at What did Jesus say to His Followers?

True Story wk 2-Merge Recap

True Story BKG


Series: True Story (week 2 of 2)
Message in a Sentence: When Jesus comes into our lives, he completely rewrites our story.
Main Scripture: Titus 3:3-8


Last night to wrap up our True Story series, I wanted to bring in another voice for students to hear. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to do this because it exposes students to other people, and sometimes it take someone different to drive home the message.

Our speaker last night is a product of the Student Ministry at Riverland Hills. His name is Robert Tompkins and he’s a junior at Anderson University. He did a great job of speaking to how Jesus comes in changes our story when we accept him into our lives.

His main passage of scripture is becoming one of favorites. The passage clearly lays out what our lives looked like before Christ (verse 3), and then it takes a look at how Jesus came to save us in our rebellion against God. Jesus did this not because of anything we had done–but because of who he is!

There were several things that stood out to me about what Robert said and I hope the students took away as much as I did.

Here are some of my notes:

1) Apart from Christ, our story ends in hell
2) Jesus came despite my sin and saved me-this becomes my story
3) In Christ we move from the person described in verse 3 to an heir of the kingdom of God
4) Jesus brings us into a right relationship with God
5) Our hope firmly rests on what Christ has done
6) The verses urge us to do good, and that doing good means sharing Christ with other people

The good thing about this series is it is not just for students. Everyone who calls themselves a Christian, has a story to tell. We are commanded by Jesus to take this story out. This message served as a great remind of what Jesus has done for each of us and how we need share it with others.




Merge Recap 1/5



Merge is back! I’m happy to say that. I enjoy what I get to do so much and Merge definitely falls into that.

For our first Merge of 2014 I felt I needed to go a different direction that normal. It all started in January last year. I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where two friend were riding skateboards and one gets hit by a car. The one hit by a car needs a blood transfusion but is a jehovah’s witness and they do not believe in blood transfusions. The friend of the injured boy had no idea his friend was a jehovah’s witness and asks several really good questions or statements:

He never mentioned he was a jehovah’s witness.
He never talked about.
I don’t think he was one based on his life.
If you believe in something so hard you’d die for it, would you keep it a secret? Even from your friends?

I was watching this scene and it instantly reminded of our students and myself also.

Would someone be shocked to find out you are a Christian? Does your life show what we believe about Jesus?

We looked at four specific passages of Scripture that encourage us as Christians to share our faith with others and to live our lives in a way that shows Christ to others.

Matthew 28:19-20 is a very familiar passage about us talking the message of Christ to others.

Colossians 4:2-6 talks about us praying for opportunities to tell others about Christ and pray that we communicate Him clearly. Is our conversation attractive to others? Are they drawn into knowing more about Christ based on us or our lives?

Romans 10:13-15 asks how will people know about Christ unless someone tells them.

Matthew 5:14-16 talks about us as Christians being the light in a dark world. People should be able to see that we are different because of Christ.

What we talked about was very timely because of where we fall in with the calendar. Many students started school last week and for the next few weeks they will be wearing and showing of Christmas presents. With the new school year they have an opportunity to almost reinvent themselves. 

My challenge to them was to either accept Christ and become a Christian or being to live their lives like Christ would want them. In a way that others would not be surprised that they love and follow Jesus.

I cannot wait for what God is going to do this semester! I believe He has outlined something special for our students and I look forward to sharing those thing with you each week.

Imitators of Who?


I recently came across these verses and they spoke to me as a dad and serve as a great reminder that my kids are watching me.

1 Corinthians 4:14-17 says: I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

I can remember being 10 years old and wanting to be just like my dad. Even down to the way he walked and his mannerisms. In my mind, everyone should have wanted to be like my dad. Even know I’m trying to put my reasons why into words and I can’t.

That is the heart of what Paul is talking about here. There are many people in our lives that help point us to Jesus, but there is one person that stands out above the rest. That is the spiritual father he is talking about.

Like our earthy fathers that we try and be like when we are young, we should try and imitate our spiritual fathers and their faith.

Despite what you might think, parents are the greatest examples to their kids. They see the things that you care about and they being to care about them, they see what important to you as a parent and it becomes important to them. In a sense they imitate you.

So, with that in mind, what you showing them about Christ? 

Are you showing your students a deep devotion to make sure your relationship with Christ is growing?
Do you put more emphasis on things like sports and school than you do the spiritual life of your student?
What are most of your conversations about? Do you ever mention or ask how Christ is working in you and their life?
Do you students know what it means to be a Christ follower based on what your life outside of church?

These are all important things to consider even for me. My children are watching me to see who Christ is as much as your are. So, what about Christ am I showing them?

Ask yourself this question and pray they God will give you strength and guidance and then go model Him to your children.