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?

Merge Recap-September 7



Series: The Red Stuff
Message is a sentence: Unlike religion, Jesus was focused on our hearts and not our actions.
Key Scriptures: Luke 18:10-14, Matthew 23:25

Last night we started back our weekly middle school large group called Merge. We had a packed house and it was great to see the familiar faces of our 8th grade students and welcome our 7th graders to Merge.

Our first series is called The Red Stuff and we are looking at several passages of scripture, seeing what Jesus has to say, and then applying that to our lives.

We had two main points as we looked at what Jesus had to say about religion.
1) Religion focuses on the outward appearance, but Jesus focuses on the heart
2) Religion focuses on what we need to do, but Jesus focuses on what He was going to do

We needed to get a common definition for religion and came up with this working one for our time: What you have to do to get to God.

Jesus had so much conflict with the religious leaders of His day because they kept burdening people with rules and regulations to be more Godly. Jesus came with a completely different message: trust in me. Forget the rules and regulations and what you do on the outside. Jesus was and is focused on our hearts-the part of ourselves that we can’t clean up or fake.

The challenge for us is not that much different than those in Jesus day. It’s far easier for us to approach our relationship with Christ as a check list instead of checking our hearts to make sure they are lining up with Christ. We are all challenged by this fact, no matter what our age.

I think this series is going to take us to some good places and challenge students and myself to examine how we approach our relationship with Christ in light of what He tells us.

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-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.