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Students

Deep Impact 2014

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Deep Impact ~ January 31-February 2

This is the biggest student ministry event of the year–don’t miss it! At Deep Impact about eight students will stay at a host home along with two small group leaders. We will have a few main sessions at the church, a large group Amazing Race game on Saturday afternoon, and small group discussions in the home. This year’s theme is … (a surprise as always), but I will tell you we will be studying the Book of Ruth all weekend. This study obviously leads us to some incredible pictures of God’s redeeming/providential love. Deep Impact is an outreach event that is designed to challenge our students (7th-12th grades) to invite some of their un-churched friends. This also is a great opportunity for students to connect to the Student Ministry for the first time. Our prayer is that many will connect with Christ for the first time. For more details please attend the upcoming Parent Meeting (see below) or contact Kicker at 773-3333, ext. 254 or kicker@delightinGod.org.

Student Ministry’s ~ Annual Parent Meeting


All parents of 7th-12th graders are encouraged to attend a meeting on Wednesday, January 15, 8:00-9:00 p.m. in
Room 106. Spring and summer activities are quickly approaching and there are many details to discuss. You will have the opportunity to get information and ask questions about all the happenings of the Student Ministry, but in particular we will discuss: Deep Impact, Spring Break Mission Trip, Mission Arlington, and Camp Barnabas. For your convenience you may sign up for events, fill out forms and make payments or deposits and even get them notarized so you won’t have to hassle with it later. If you have any questions, please contact Kicker at 773-3333, ext. 254 or kicker@delightinGod.org.

Why Do We Say, ‘God Told Me’?

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When someone begins a sentence with “God told me . . .” I have to admit a silent alarm goes off somewhere inside me—unless the phrase is followed by a verse of Scripture. I know that many see this as the way the Christian life is supposed to work—that if we are really in fellowship with God we will be able to sense him speaking to us through an inner voice. But I’m not so sure. And it’s not because I think God is incapable of or uninterested in speaking to his people today. In fact I resist this language precisely because God is speaking to his people today. He speaks to us through the Scriptures.

When we read the Scriptures we are not just reading a record of what God has said in the past. God actively speaks to us in the here and now through the words of this amazing book. The writer of Hebrews makes this point clear when he quotes Old Testament passages and presents them not as something God said to his people sometime in the past, but as something God is currently saying to his people (Hebrews 1:6,7,8, 2:12, 3:7, 4:7). He writes that “the word of God is living and active” (4:12). It is exposing our shallow beliefs and hidden motives. This word is personal.  You and I hear the voice of God speaking to us—unmistakably, authoritatively, and personally—when we read, hear, study, and meditate on the Scriptures.

Something More, Something Different

But many of us want something more, something different. We read the Scriptures and witness God speaking to individuals in amazing ways throughout the history of redemption. Job heard God speaking from the whirlwind. Moses heard him calling from the fiery bush. Samuel heard him calling in the dark. David heard him speak through the prophet Nathan. Isaiah felt the burning coal and heard assurance that his guilt was taken away and sin atoned for. Saul and those traveling with him on the road to Damascus heard Jesus asking why Saul was persecuting him. Prophets and teachers at Antioch heard the Holy Spirit tell them to set apart Barnabas and to send out Saul. John felt the glorified Jesus touch him and heard his assurance that he didn’t have to be afraid.

Many of us read these accounts and assume that the Bible is presenting the normal experience of all who follow God. But is it? Graeme Goldsworthy speaks to this question in his book Gospel and Wisdom. He writes, “Every case of special guidance given to individuals in the Bible has to do with that person’s place in the outworking of God’s saving purposes.” He adds, “There are no instances in the Bible in which God gives special and specific guidance to the ordinary believing Israelite or Christian in the details of their personal existence.”

Are there instances in the Scriptures in which people describe a sense of God speaking to them through an inner voice? We read accounts of God speaking in an audible voice, through a supernatural dream or vision, a human hand writing on a wall, a blinding light, or a thunderous voice from heaven. This is quite different from the way most people who say that God has told them something describe hearing his voice—as a thought that came into their mind that they “know” was God speaking. One prominent teacher who trains people on how to hear the voice of God writes, “God’s voice in your heart often sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts.” But where in the Bible are we instructed to seek after or expect to hear God speak to us in this way?

Some who suggest that a conversational relationship with God is not only possible but even normative point to John 10 in which Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, saying, “My sheep hear my voice.” However, in this passage Jesus is not prescribing a method of ongoing divine communication. He is speaking to the Jews of his day using a metaphor they understand—a shepherd and his sheep. His point is that the elect among the Jews will recognize him as the shepherd the prophets wrote about and will respond to his call to repent and believe, as will the elect among the Gentiles so that they will become one flock, one church, with him at the head.

Longing for God’s Guidance

So why do we speak about hearing God in this way? We grew up being told that we must have a “personal relationship with God,” and what is more personal than hearing him speak to us about our individual issues and needs? Sometimes if we dig deep we realize we speak this way because we want to impresses others with our close connection to God and make sure they know we’ve consulted with him on the matter at hand. Another reason may be that to say, “God told me . . .” can prove useful to us. If you’ve asked me to teach children’s Sunday school this fall, it sounds far more spiritual and makes it far more difficult for you to challenge me if I say that God told me I need to sit in adult Sunday school with my husband than if I simply say that I don’t want to or have decided not to teach.

But I think there is something more at work here than simply our desire to sound spiritual or to make it difficult for someone to challenge our preferences or decisions. We genuinely long for God to guide us. We genuinely long for a personal word from God, a supernatural experience with God. Yet we fail to grasp that as we read and study and hear the Word of God taught and preached, it is a personal word from God. Because the Scriptures are “living and active,” God’s speaking to us through them is a personal, supernatural experience.

God has spoken and is, in fact, still speaking to us through the Scriptures. We don’t need any more special revelation. What we need is illumination, and this is exactly what Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit will give to us as his word abides in us. The Holy Spirit of God works through the Word of God to counsel and comfort and convict (John 16:7-15). Through the Scriptures we hear God teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Word of God transforms us by renewing our minds so that we think more like him and less like the world. Instead of needing God to dictate to us what to do, we become increasingly able to “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

I appreciate the way John Piper described his experience in hearing God speak through the Scriptures in his message “How Important is the Bible?” given at Lausanne 2010:

God talks to me no other way, but don’t get this wrong, he talks to me very personally. I open my Bible in the morning to meet my friend, my Savior, my Creator, my Sustainer. I meet him and he talks to me. . . . I’m not denying providence, not denying circumstances, not denying people, I’m just saying that the only authoritative communion I have with God with any certainty comes through the words of this book.

And if we want to go back a little further, Jonathan Edwards warned:

I . . . know by experience that impressions being made with great power, and upon the minds of true saints, yea, eminent saints; and presently after, yea, in the midst of, extraordinary exercises of grace and sweet communion with God, and attended with texts of Scripture strongly impressed on the mind, are no sure signs of their being revelations from heaven: for I have known such impressions [to] fail, and prove vain.

What Difference Does It Really Make?

Does it really make a difference when we expect God to speak to us through the Scriptures rather than waiting to hear a divine voice in our heads? I think it does.

When we know that God speaks personally and powerfully through his Word, we don’t have to feel that our relationship to Christ is sub-par, or that we are experiencing a less-than Christian life if we don’t sense God giving us extra-biblical words of instruction or promise. When we know God speaks through his Word we are not obligated to accept—indeed, we can be appropriately skeptical toward—claims by any book, teacher, preacher, or even friend when they write or say, “God told me . .  .” We don’t have to wait until we hear God give us the go-ahead before we say “yes” or “no” to a request or make a decision. We can consult the Scriptures and rest in the wisdom and insight the Holy Spirit is developing in us and feel free to make a decision.

As we delight ourselves in the law of the Lord day and night, we can expect his Word to be living and active in our inmost parts. As that Word transforms us by the renewal of our minds, we will find that our thoughts and feelings, dreams and desires, are being shaped more by his Word than by our flesh. We will find that we are more drawn to obey his commands than to follow the culture. We will ask him for wisdom and receive it out of his generosity.

 

Nancy Guthrie and her husband, David, and son, Matt, make their home in Nashville, Tennessee. She and David are the co-hosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 8,500 churches around the country and host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Nancy is the author of numerous books, including Holding on to Hope and Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrowand is currently working on the five-book Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series.

Just The Facts (Pt.1)

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Written by Pastor Chad “Kicker” Kositzky

Do you remember the show Dragnet? There was of course, the required mystery. And each show would end with a tidy bow – the criminal being caught and the police being praised. In the middle of the story was the famous phrase, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” While the show made fine entertainment, the phrase has lived in pop culture ever since. Unfortunately, most people don’t want the facts. Today, most people want happy thoughts, popular opinions, and pats on the back. But when talking about our families we need to hear the truth. We need the facts if we are going to figure out what to do.

The Lord has given parents the primary responsibility for bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of Lord. The Heritage Student Ministry does not, in any way, want to replace your God given responsibility and authority. In fact, we will continuously challenge students to understand the importance of honoring their father and mother in the Lord. We desire to link arms with parents, to come alongside parents and echo, Lord willing, what is being taught at home.  We do believe, and have seen time and time again, God use leaders and the community of believers in the local church to greatly impact students for the kingdom.  Surrounding teenagers with godly influences is as important now as it has ever been.

Never before in America have teenagers been at such a crucial life juncture. They must choose between a lifestyle of hedonism or responsibility. Since the 1960’s students have increasingly chosen the path of irresponsibility.  In response, adults and society at large appears to continue to lower expectations for those 13-19 years of age.   Sadly, I’m afraid the church has all too often lowered the bar and, at times, even watered down the Gospel message and call of Christ to make it more palatable to teenagers.Sadly, I’m afraid the church has all too often lowered the bar and, at times, even watered down the Gospel message and call of Christ to make it more palatable to teenagers.

A closer look at the nature of Student Ministry in general led us to some startling conclusions. George Barna asserts, “We discovered fairly strong correlations between understanding how to use the Bible for life decision-making with becoming a born-again Christian during the younger years, having an active spiritual life as characterized by consistent prayer, Bible reading and church attendance, and possessing a biblical worldview.”  Barna added,

“Unfortunately, less than one out of every ten churched teenagers has a biblical worldview. In other words, the result of their involvement at a church is that they can recite some religious facts, they made some friends, and they had fun.  That’s wonderful, but we also find that most of them have neither accepted Christ as their Savior nor altered the basis on which they make their moral and ethical decisions in life.  For most teenagers who have spent years attending church activities their faith is not integrated into who they are and how they live. Most of the young people who claim they developed an understanding of the Bible that enables them to make decisions based on biblical principles show no evidence of using that understanding in relation to the core beliefs and lifestyle choices that we studied.“

In light of this information we have to step back and evaluate the common practices of most American youth groups. The typical church youth group places great emphasis on getting young people to come to activities. In order to get them to come to activities, excitement and fun become the main drawing points. The idea is, “if we can just get them to come, then we can interest them in the things of the Lord”.  While this is common practice and appears pragmatic, reality is much different. This philosophy fails to produce lasting results and most importantly, it’s unbiblical.

So those are the facts. We don’t have to like them, but we will have to deal with them. The structure and strategy of any ministry to teens needs to take these facts into consideration. Part two looks to how we address these issues and why it matters.

Just The Facts (Pt.2)

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Written by Pastor Chad “Kicker” Kositzky

You may be saying, “Those are some ugly facts”… Our hope is for the truth of the situation to drive all of us to prayer for teenagers as they struggle to grow up. It is a shame most Student Ministries have chosen a path of entertainment to address these facts. My goal is to be clear about the heartbeat of this ministry and the course we are charting.

Throughout Scripture we see an emphasis on the Church’s need to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”(Eph. 4:12).  Nowhere in Scripture do we see an effort to draw as many people as possible with fun and games while adding a light Gospel message hoping that some might come to know Christ.  Time after time crowds gathered around Jesus, but as He spoke and called them to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him, the crowds would disperse.  Many would head on down the dusty roads looking for someone or something else to follow that would ask less of them.  In the flesh the Gospel message can seem ridiculous and even harsh(1 Cor. 1:18), but as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to soften hearts and opens eyes to see God’s amazing love and grace displayed on the cross, that same message truly becomes Good News!

There are two options… We can lower the bar and keep everything light so everyone who shows up will feel comfortable and be at the same level, or we can raise the bar and challenge everyone to truly surrender, deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus.  We trust Jesus wants us to love and challenge the people we are charged with shepherding.  This is why the Heritage Student Ministry is committed to teaching the Word of God and challenging students to live it out.  We have made a concerted effort to prayerfully and Biblically evaluate everything we do. We are constantly asking not just What CAN we do? but rather, What SHOULD we do? It’s easy to fill up a calendar with events. Busy is easy. Effective is difficult. We want to do everything possible to sow seeds, till the soil, and be prepared to reap a harvest of young people that will follow the Lord for the rest of their lives.

This philosophy of ministry forces us to emphasize biblical teaching, serving, discipleship, worship, and true Biblical fellowship. We do not emphasize events, entertainment and fun.  Don’t get me wrong, we have a blast together, but it’s primarily as we serve others and live life together in a covenant community.  Our fun is based on more than a trip to Six Flags or summer camp on the beach. Our fun happens as our students sing songs, share the Word and their testimonies and give piggy-back rides to children in an apartment complex.  Our students have a blast as they step into the role of primary care-giver for children with disabilities each summer at Camp Barnabas.  Rather than looking for and scheduling fun, we pursue opportunities to grow and serve and be stretched.  It’s in those moments where we become more aware our own selfishness and need for a Savior. The Lord uses those experiences to increase our faith, deepen our friendships, and experience true joy.

– We choose to pattern our efforts after those of the apostles to the early church:

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well,because you had become so dear to us.  (1 Thes. 2:3-8)