Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We interrupt this New Attitude feed to bring you... from camp!

Week before last I had the opportunity to serve as a counselor at the Georgia Youth District youth camp. I helped our youth pastor and his wife drive kids down to the camp and then had my first camp experience post-camper age.

We left Monday morning at 6:00 am after having spent the night at the church. Perhaps not one of our smarter ideas as teenagers together in one place generally don't go to sleep early. We finally dozed off at 3:30 a.m. and packed up our cars again at 5:00 a.m.

Driving to Forsyth on two hours sleep with the sounds of three sleeping teenagers around me was not the easiest thing I have ever done. Thanks to Mountain Dew, coffee, and KJ-52 (unhappily for my riders) I made it there without dozing off.

The theme was Holy Visitation and we were placed on the yellow team- The Yellow Mudslides. Our church was the smallest and the last to register so we got the old cabin #2 - aka no A/C, no shower curtains, and an abundance of dirt. After two days of finding mouse/rat droppings across the cabin we came back from service one night to find droppings on my sleeping bag (ugh!) and then Wednesday night we actually spotted the little critters.

But its things like that which make camp memorable.

It was definitely interesting to be a counselor though. To find myself on the other side of everything. Praying for the kids during the altar calls was slightly unnerving at first- took me a bit to move past the fact that it wasn't about anything I could do, it was about what God would do in their lives.

Great services courtesy of Rick Lorimer. So exciting to see our teenagers going after God! Even the quietest of the group could be found raising hands and shouting praises to God. It was amazing to see the young people get on fire for God and be baptized by the Holy Spirit.

It was also the last event we would be able to participate in with our youth pastor, Milton M. and his wife Gloria. I love you guys and I am so thankful you gave me the opportunity to serve with you last week. I can't wait to see what God is going to do in your new ministry and I pray that the transition is smooth. Thank you for what you have done in the lives of our youth. We'll miss you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

But.. what about the Shellfish?

Dr. Al Mohler took the stage after lunch to do something which apparently has never happened at New Attitude before- he took questions from us. Dr. Mohler has been referred to as the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S" by Time magazine.
As young adults from across the United States asked their questions of Dr. Mohler he did not hesitate once in his responses, but clearly and easily gave sound Biblical answers to what many would consider difficult subjects. Here are the ones I was able to write down.
“Bible Q & A” with Al Mohler

What is the difference between the claims other religious books and the Bible? What makes the Bible distinct?
-Canonization. The Bible features several authors who were led to understanding by the Holy Spirit, not one person believed to have been imparted a word by a higher power.
-The personal relationship. There is no personal relationship with Allah. God through Christ humbled himself so that we might know Him.
-The Koran and other “holy books” make different claims than the Bible.

How were the books of the Bible selected and why were books such as “Thomas” not included?
-The early church recognized the historical significance of other books but realized that they were not on the same level as these 66 books.
-Apostolicity and Catholicity - the books had to be tied to an apostle and be universal to the church
…he talked too fast for me to record the others!

Next he addressed a question regarding the validity of stories such as John 7:53-8:11 and the ‘longer ending of Mark’. I had no idea what he was talking about at first and was not able to grab notes for that one…

The law – how should we interpret it and apply it? When we tell someone that homosexuality is wrong according to Leviticus, they say that it also says shellfish and cutting their hair is wrong. Do we use some of it or only part of it?
-The law is important because it serves to show us our need for a savior. If there had been no law to convict us, there would be no need for grace.
-The law was the direction under the old covenant, however a new covenant has come through Christ.
-We should not refer to Leviticus when addressing questions on homosexuality. Refer to Romans. However, it is not about accusing them, it is about leading them to find the grace of Christ.

This is the point I found the most helpful. Using Paul’s words about us needing the law to convict us was encouraging! Homosexuality doesn't put anyone further from the grace of God than any other sin that I struggle with. The bottom line is that we need to show all sinners love through the grace of God.

There are those who say that the Bible is authoritative and reliable, but not inerrant. Is it inerrant?
-By allowing for error in the Bible you cast doubt on the entirety of the word of God – NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Should we be wary of Postmodern ideas with respect to the Bible?
-It denies that there is a uniform right and wrong and that we are held accountable to one story.
-Right and wrong should be shaped by Biblical standards, not society.

How do you share the gospel of grace with those who are in favor of Pelagianism?
-Pelagianism says that we are born morally neutral. We all want a part of it, to be able to say that we can do something.
-We need to exhibit God’s grace through our actions!

There was a final question regarding how the gospel should play into our artistic talents and how we should use them in society at large. I was still writing notes from his last point and did not record anything, but his basic point was that we should definitely incorporate the gospel in all areas of our lives and talents, including our artistic talents.
After the Q&A session, which was very neat to watch, some of us headed out to the Neighborhood to go SGM shopping! I ran into Martha Weiman- it was SO good to see her again!
I picked up three books:

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett. I shared this one with Jonathan, and he's going through it first. Seems like a good book to get some of our youth hooked on...
Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. Humility was one of the things which I believe God spoke to me about through the conference, so I thought C.J. was a good place to start.
Guard Us, Guide Us by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom. Seems very deep and may be a tad legalistic and points, but guidance is always a good subject. I loaned this one out to dad while I read Humility.

And a CD:
LU by Bob and Devon Kauflin. Alot of good songs from the conference!
After the Neighborhood some of the girls came back with Beth and I to our room. We talked for a little while about what was new in our lives. It's funny how you can re-connect with people so easily. It was encouraging to hear other people my age struggling with similar situations.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Authority of Scripture... and Arby's

We went straight from family groups to our second session of NA. After more amazing worship led by Bob and Devon Kauflin we sat down to hear a word through Mark Dever.

“The Authority of Scripture” by Mark Dever

Mark Dever is a man who uses a combination of archeology, history, philosophy, and theology to present the gospel to others. He points out physical evidence with sound research and Biblical references to show why the Bible is what it says it is.

He started by making four points on the Reliability of the Bible:
(1) What about all the translations of the Bible?
-Ultimately, they all say the same thing.

(2) Is this really what was written “back then”?
- We have copies from nearly all centuries. We have a manuscript from 130 A.D. For example and comparison, of Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’ we have one copy dated many years after it’s original writing, but of the Bible we have 2200 manuscripts from the early centuries.

(3) Is it accurate?
- In this day and age we discredit oral accounts because we cannot imagine how the account could have been passed down in whole. Since the Bible wasn’t written down right away, many say it is inaccurate. The memories and oral histories of that time were significant. Why doubt the ability of the writers of the Bible to remember the events several years after, when archaeology confirms the existence on the people in the Book?

(4) Is it true?
- Read the gospels. Read them with an open mind. Do not pick them up thinking “this is ludicrous.” Open your mind to the possibility that there is a God, and that this did happen. The truth will be revealed to you.
This last point was Mark’s own testimony. He was a thorough agnostic who had read the gospels through many times. However, when he decided to read them through with an open mind, not discounting the possibility of a God and Jesus Christ, he was transformed by the truths that he found within the words.

Good quote to remember – Just because I don’t know everything, doesn’t mean I don’t know anything. – Our knowledge doesn’t have to be exhaustive in order to be reliable.

Mark also said that we are made in God’s image so that we may know Him.

He then gave us verses from both the New and Old Testaments which assert the authority of the Bible-
Old Testament…
Exodus 24:4
Deuteronomy 4:1-2
Deuteronomy 17:19
Psalm 19:7, 10
Psalm 119:11, 89,105,140

New Testament…
Matthew 5:17-18
Matthew 19:5
John 5:46-47
John 10:35
Acts 1:16
Acts 4:25
Acts 17:11
II Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 4:12
II Peter 3:15-16

After the sermon Eric Simmons took the stage and asked us “What part of the word am I not putting into practice?” A good question to think about as we read the word and apply it to our lives. Do we discard portions because they make us uncomfortable, or do we respond to conviction and apply the word to our lives?

After Mark Dever’s session we were released to lunch and I headed out to Arby’s with Elya and Crossway. Louisville had not prepared for our arrival because the line was out the door and down the street… we ended up taking it back with us to the hotel and eating it in the lunch/bar area.

While in line at Arby’s our group passed the word along to us that we were “getting it to go”. Elya turned around to me and told me to pass it on to Jon, the last guy in our group, who was standing behind us. We decided to turn this into a fun moment and told Jon “we’re getting it to go, pass it on!” Apparently not realizing that we were the last people, Jon turned around to the girls behind him and said “hey, we’re getting it to go, pass it on.” and turned back to us without even realizing. It was a fun way to introduce ourselves to the girls behind us, though. They were also from na.

- The bar/lunch area of the hotel (between the RIVUE Tower and the SUITE Tower) had glass cages with live birds and tree branches. Oh, and the tables were aquariums! =) -

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

crushed with longing for the word

Sunday morning (May 25) we met with our community groups bright and early to review what we had learned and to dig deeper into the word. Bethany was in my community group- there was also a guy from Australia who had traveled by himself just for the conference…!

There were perhaps one too many French fry and McDonald’s metaphors from Pastor Doug which were designed to help us understand that we would be bombarded with scriptures and ideas throughout the whole conference but we needed to pick out the key parts that God was speaking to us and apply those. (Don't try to grab all the french fries, just choose the good crunchy ones, and why settle for a happy meal when there is a steak out there for you to find by searching a little harder? It's ok, we didn't know either.)

Family groups had been assigned the night before and they were led by Crossway guys. My family group leader was Noah-the-coffee-addict, a close friend of Elya’s, which was kind of fun.

We broke off individually for forty minutes to study and meditate on Psalm 119. It was a tough assignment to read the longest chapter in the Bible while taking notes and meditating on it. I didn't make it all the way through, but I plan on studying the chapter further on my own...

Things which stood out to me!

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You. (v. 9-11)

In these verses David actually answers the question of “how can a young man [person] walk in purity?” As young people we are to keep our lives according to the word of God! Seek God, store up the word in our hearts, meditate on it, and guard ourselves with it. In a culture where the media bombards us with images of a range of impurity, our hearts are to rest in the example and word of Scripture.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches. (v. 14)
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (v. 72)
Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold. (v. 127)

David asks God to teach him His ways; when he regards them he rejoices in their truth much as someone would in wealth. Wow! When I read the Bible I definitely do not get as excited over it as though I had won the lottery… Do I treasure the words of God above possessions and wealth of the world?

My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times. (v. 20)

The psalmist’s soul is crushed with longing. Crushed is such an intense word which displays to the reader the emotion that he felt. David doesn’t merely follow God and study the word as a duty, rather his very soul desires to search the word. But his desire goes beyond our meager desires to see the next movie or to read another book, his entire being longs after it. He needs the word. He is crushed by desire.

Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes. (v. 23)
I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.
I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love. (v. 46-47)

The psalmist reads the word and delights it no matter what those around him think. The fact that he uses the word “princes” and “kings” shows that he does not care about the disdain of others. He stands in his faith unashamed before kings, who am I to bend and break when peers talk against me for my faith?

May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word. (v. 41-42)
May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word. (v. 74)

David knows the saving power of the word of God and asks that the Lord prepare him to defend his faith at all times, also crying out that he would have a testimony among believers and unbelievers alike. To know the Bible so that I am able to give a defense for what I believe, when questioned, is a goal!

Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law. (v. 53)
From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way. (v. 104)

Am I filled with “burning indignation” over sin, or do I gloss over it and follow the “Jesus loves you!” attitude of half-hearted Christianity? We ought to despise sin so that we are motivated to approach those in sin with the love of Christ to represent the grace of his gospel to them for forgiveness of their sins.

That's pretty much as far as I got. We were brought back into our family groups to discuss what we read and to discuss Josh's sermon from the previous night. It is always good to discuss and hear what others say. 'Tis very interesting to hear what God speaks to different people about through the same service!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ripping, Burning, Eating

After settling into the Galt House with our luggage and after parting with the Apex church to make a joyful reunion with my best friends Bethany and Elya, we headed to the conference center.
All 3,500 of us kicked off the conference right away Saturday evening by receiving a word through Josh Harris, a man who is a few inches shorter in person than he sounds on CD…

“Ripping, Burning, Eating – A Right Response to Scripture” by Joshua Harris
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts. - Jeremiah 15:16
He started by asking us “How do we relate to the Bible as Christians? How do we relate to it personally?”
These two questions are difficult to answer, and I would have to say that at the start of the conference I viewed the Bible more of a “road map” for Christians. Instead of seeing it as the story of God’s grace and what He has done in my life and for me, I accepted it first as a list of what I needed to do.

We claim a passion for the Word of God, but do our lives reflect it? Such a searching question which Josh asked. As Christians we say that we mold our lives around the Bible, but is that true? When people look at our lives, do they see God and the Bible? I certainly hope that this would be true of my life.

Josh contrasted the reactions of three men in the Bible as they responded to the word of God:

- King Josiah in 2 Kings 22:1-2,10-13
+ Josiah’s chief example of what a king should be was his grandfather, an ungodly king, yet at age 8 Josiah’s heart was set on the Lord
+ The law had been lost but it was found and brought to Josiah in v. 10
+ Josiah was moved with humility and repentance by the Word of God and tore his clothes as a symbol of the repentance of Israel
· Is this our response to Scripture when we “find” it? If not, what does move our hearts?

- King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 36:30
+ The son of Josiah yet had an opposite attitude
+ When the word of the God was brought to him he burnt the scrolls
+ He did not fear God and his response was coldhearted rather than repentant
+ All of Jehoiakim’s aides supported him yet when we stand before God in heaven we must give an account for ourselves, our peers will not stand with us
· When we disobey God/Scripture we are in essence burning the word of God through our actions

- Jeremiah in Jeremiah 15:16
+ Jeremiah remembered how the scrolls were found during the reign of Josiah
+ He “ate” them – they became a joy and a delight to him in a time of struggle

God’s word meets us where we are, even in our weak moments for it has power when we are powerless.

Just as the word “became” a joy to Jeremiah we must fight to delight in the word.

· Scripture is not merely a “to do” list for the Christian detailing what we need to do- it is about the grace of God and what He has done for us. It is His story, not ours. We obey Him because of what He has done

The key point that stood out to me in Josh’s sermon was when he described Josiah’s reaction and then asked us what our reaction to Scripture was. I certainly do not rejoice over it as Josiah, nor do I hunger for it as Jeremiah. But if I don’t rejoice and hunger for it, what do I turn these emotions to? What do I value? Definitely something to consider as I begin to pour myself more into the word.
My prayer is that as I fight to hunger after the word my soul would desire it more and more!What an excellent start to an excellent conference!