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

redstuff_background01

 

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

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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

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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.

What’s this movie about? IMDb to the rescue

imdb

 

One of the main goals for this blog is to give parents resources that help with things going on in their student’s lives. That is the starting place for today’s post.

My son is currently 5 years old and he is starting to become more aware of movies that are coming to or already in the theaters. He sees the trailers and gets excited about what he sees. Now most of the trailers are for movies that are to old for him, but some like the Lego movie, are something he might enjoy.

What you are facing as the parent of a teenager and movies is something so much greater than my current struggle in this area. With all the movies coming out and your students wanting to see the latest movie, how can you know what your student will be exposed to BEFORE you let the go see the movie?

The traditional way was to go see the movie yourself, then make the judgement. You may still want to do this, but I want to offer you another way.

There is a great website found at www.imdb.com that will you all the details on the movie in question. Details like plot, actors, rating, and can even help you showtimes in our area.

One of the best features is called Parents Guide: View content advisory
(Screen shots will be included at the end of this post.)

This feature breaks the movie or TV show into 5 categories:

Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
Profanity
Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking
Frightening/Intense Scenes

These categories are given a 1 to 10 rating for how little or much the movie contains.
Within each category you will also get a description of why the that category got the number rating it did.

All of the screenshots for this post are for the recent movie Divergent.
You can get this information on any movie by going to imdb.com and searching by movie title.

1

This is the page that pulls up when you search “Divergent”.

2

When you scroll down the page you’ll find what the storyline is, some other information, and the Parent Guide link and rating. Click on the link that says “view content advisory”

3

A new page will open up that looks similar to the one above. From there you can see all the questionable material in the film and can make a decision based on what you see.

My goal is to help you make the best decision for you and your student. My suggestion would be that if your student wants to see a movie that has far to much questionable material, tell them that. Let them know why you feel it is wrong for them to go see it. Be open and honest with them. This will go a long way.

If it’s a movie that is borderline. Go see it together and then debrief when your done. This will provide a way to have conversations about limits and reasonings for not seeing certain kinds of movies.

I take advantage of this site all the time and know that as my children get older, it will help me to make the best decisions I can.