How many times have you said some variation of this phrase?
All that's left to do is pray.
Really? Prayer is our last resort? After we've exhausted all of our human efforts, I guess it's time to turn to God and see if He can do anything... It's amazing how arrogant we get when we try to do everything on our own. What if we turned to God first? I think sometimes we're afraid that He won't answer us, so we don't even bother asking. That way we can continue to "trust" Him without ever having to put that trust on the line. Reality check: we have a pretty awesome heavenly Father. Here are two reasons why.
1. He wants to give us good things.
Jesus explains it like this in Matthew 7:7-11: as parents, don't you want to give things to your kids? Don't you want them to be happy? Sure, there are times when kids don't understand why they can't have something, but the heart of a parent is always sacrificial. Students (non-parents) who are reading this, have you ever been in a relationship with someone you truly cared about? You start to put them and their happiness above your own. Maybe you spent $200 on a birthday gift for them, and you were actually excited about it! Jesus says, if we, as imperfect humans, are able to give good gifts, then shouldn't God, who is perfect, be able to give even greater ones?
2. He is able to give us good things.
There's nothing that God can't do. Think about that. All things are within His control. Down to the littlest detail. Sometimes we're afraid to pray for what we actually want because we don't think He can do it. Instead of healing, we pray for comfort and patience. We forget that our God is the One who created everything. He is certainly capable of taking care of us.
I wish I had the confidence of Elijah. Have you heard this story? In 1 Kings 18:20-40, he has a showdown with the prophets of Baal, a false God who many people were worshipping. Here's how it goes down. They each set up an altar with a bull to be sacrificed. Usually, they would start a fire and cook the bull. This time, Elijah proposes that they let their gods be the ones to light the fire. Whichever God/god lights their fire first, wins. The scene that follows is hilarious. The prophets of Baal are making complete fools of themselves with their rituals - running around, screaming, even cutting themselves. Elijah actually starts mocking them, claiming their god must be in the bathroom.
Now, it's Elijah's turn. He orders them to dump buckets of water on the altar. They're trying to get it to catch fire, remember? Fire and water usually don't play well together. Two more times they dump water on the altar, until it is completely soaked. Elijah turns around and prays simply: "Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." At that moment, fire whooshes down from Heaven and consumes the altar, the bull, and all of the water.
Do you remember the prayer that many of us learned as little kids?
God is great, God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands, we are fed,
Thank you, Lord, for daily bread.
Maybe you've never heard it before. Maybe you've said it more times than you care to think about. So many times, perhaps, that you've missed how awesome the opening line is. "God is great, God is good." Does it get any better than that? If you tried to come up with a more simple definition of who God is, you couldn't.
Each school year, we like to start off with a series that touches on the most basic premises of our faith. Last year, we opened with "What It's All About," where we covered some of the biggest concepts about being a Christian. This year, we're diving a little deeper into the person of God. If I could help someone understand only two things about God, it would be these two: that He is great, and that He is good. That He is all-powerful, and all-loving. He is all-knowing, and still gracious. That He there is nothing outside of His power, and no one outside of His love. That He is infinitely massive, and cares deeply about every intricate detail of our lives.
Most of the time, we use a curriculum for our messages, but this series is hand-crafted. We are so excited to join in this conversation with our students and hear how the Almighty God has touched their lives in an intimate way. Join us on Sunday mornings each week and at Roots Sunday Night September 7!
Pastor Dave challenged me to continue and pass on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last week. Apparently, there are unwritten rules to this thing. Unbeknownst to me. I was supposed to respond within 24 hours. I was a few days late, but I was able to recruit the help of some of our middle schoolers after church this past Sunday. They jumped at the opportunity to douse me in frigid ice water!
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $11 million dollars in just a few weeks! What a "cool" (get it?) way to raise awareness and further a great cause. Post your own videos in the comments!
Believe it or not, the new school year is about to begin. Fall sports are already kicking off, and the first day of school is just around the corner. And we could not be more excited about it! We have a few exciting things to announce...
Roots Sunday Night 2.0
We'll be kicking off our new Roots Sunday Night on September 7! Last year, we tried to cram too much action into too little time. This year, we'll be building in more time to hang out, eat, and goof off with one another. Roots Sunday Night will take place once per month, on the first Sunday of each month. We will be packing a month's worth of fun into one night! RSN will include live music, inflatables, sports, crazy games, and great snacks. Instead of the monotony of an every-single-week meeting, every time we get together will be full of energy and exciting! We want Roots Sunday Night to be a place where students can bring their friends and know that they're going to have an awesome time and hear about Jesus. All in all, it's going to be a great place to hang out.
To add to the excitement, we're extending Roots Sunday Night to middle school! Students in grades 6-8 will be able to join in on the crazy. There will be times throughout each RSN where high schoolers and middle schoolers will separate to focus on activities more pertinent to their age group.
Fall 2014 Events Calendar is live!
We've posted our first draft of Fall 2014 Events Calendar. Each month, we have at least one event for middle schoolers and one for high schoolers. Details will be announced as each event gets closer, and dates are subject to chance based on circumstance. It's going to be an awesome Fall!!!
Don't forget to mark your calendars for the Ocean City Youth Rally - January 9-11, 2015!
Be sure to come to one of the three services at KIUMC this Sunday! Our students will be sharing their experiences from our two mission trips, to Boston and Harrisburg. We had an amazing week and have some awesome stories to share. God used these experiences to teach us about what it means to serve. He gave us the best demonstration of service in Jesus Christ. Jesus was the ultimate DEMO for us as we figure out who to serve other people. Come figure out what a "Yay God" is.
What's even more amazing - we don't have to travel to Boston or Harrisburg to serve people and serve God. We can start right here, in our own neighborhood! What are some ways you can serve those in need in your own community? Answer in the comments below!