"We exist to share life with students in a way that helps students develop a lifelong relationship with Jesus."

White Elephant Xmas Party

This Wednesday night is our White Elephant Xmas Party! There is a $10 gift limit for the gift exchange. We'll also have pizza and drinks so come hungry!

Middle School 6:00-7:15
High School 7:30-8:30

New Mission

Last night we finished up our series "Brand New" by talking about our mission as Christians. Check it out below!

Have you ever wondered why God put you in a certain situation? There is a reason and a purpose for who you are and where God has placed you.

Regardless of where you are geographically, regardless of age, God has given us all the same mission. The way our mission plays out may look different for each person. But in Christ, we all have the same mission. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20.

Matthew 28:18-20 says,18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

V18 – The Claim
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

All authority has been given to Jesus. Not just some of the authority. ALL authority. Whether in heaven or on earth, everything is under his authority. Every spec of dirt on the planet is subjected to his rule. And it’s not just everywhere on earth, it’s also every aspect of our lives.

Far too often we try to split up our lives into separate parts. We give Jesus some of our life, but we don’t give him everything. But, in verse 18, Jesus just claimed all of your life. He owns us. We are his. We, and the rest of the universe, are under his authority.

The stars don’t shine without his say so. The planets don’t orbit or turn without his word commanding them to do so. The entire universe is held together by the power of his word. Colossians says that in him all things are held together. Jesus is supreme above all else.

Jesus is not just our Savior, He is also our Lord. He is the Lord of Lords, the Kings of kings. He is the ultimate authority on everything. There is no other authority above him.

So, we have the claim from Jesus, then we get the command from Jesus.

V19-20a – The Command
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

What’s the command? Make disciples. Make disciples by telling others the gospel and teaching them God’s Word. This is the mission of the Christian. We are to share the gospel with everyone and teach them God’s Word.

What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news to the bad news that we are all sinners and need to be saved from our sin and from God’s wrath. That’s the bad news. The good news, the message of the gospel, is that we can be saved. Because God is so good, so merciful, so loving, God became man and died on the cross to save sinners, to save us, from our sin and God’s just wrath.

The gospel is the good news that Jesus lived the life that we failed to live, died the death that we should have died, and then rose from the grave conquering sin and death. And now, when we confess our sins and our need for God, we place our faith and trust in Him, then we are saved by his grace and made brand new.

This is the message of our mission. Notice that Jesus has commanded, not asked or suggested. This is not optional. He has commanded us to take this message of hope to the world and teach people the commands of God.

What are the commands of God? Jesus summed up the commands of God like this: Love the Lord with all our soul, mind, and strength. We love God like this by giving him all of our affections, all of our heart, and by obeying his commands for our life.

And Jesus said the second most important commandment was this: “Love your neighbor as I loved you.” We love others how we see Jesus loving us and loving others.

Make disciples by telling others the gospel and teaching them God’s Word. This is the mission of the Christian. And Jesus doesn’t stop there. Jesus knows our hearts and he knows that we are easily scared from doing hard things. Look at what he says next.

V20b – The Comfort
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For the Christian and his or her mission, this is the comfort Jesus promises you: You are not alone. God is with you. And he’s not just with you for a time. No, he is with you to the end of the age.

When we place our faith in Christ and are saved from our sins, God does something unthinkably incredible. The Holy Spirit comes upon us and dwells within us. Think about that! The Spirit of God resides inside of us! That same power that rose Jesus from the dead dwells inside of you. You and I are never alone. We have the very Spirit of God right inside of us.

Think about this: When you walk into the classrooms, the locker rooms, or wherever, you are not walking alone. God is with you. God has sent you and He is right there. Our job is to be faithful and trust him.

There is no such thing as a half-hearted follower of Jesus. Being a disciple of Christ, being a follower of Jesus is a lifelong event. It’s not a box that we check off. It’s something that transforms the way we live every single day till our last breath. A disciple of Christ is someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus.

If you are a Christian, Jesus has changed you. He has freed you from your sin. He has given you a new identity, new relationships, new habits, and a new mission. Jesus changes lives. And people who have had their lives changed by Jesus seek to see other lives changed. Changed people change people. Listen: One person surrendered to Jesus can change the world.

So, what about you? What about your mission? I don’t what this to be some sort of broad, abstract thinking thing. Don’t start thinking about reaching the continent of Africa just yet. I want to bring this right here to our setting. Who do you sit next to at school? Whose locker is to your right and to your left? Who are your teammates on whatever sports team your on? If you’re involved in other clubs or other groups outside of regular school, who are those people? Who are those people in your life that don’t know Jesus?

There’s your mission field. If I ask you, “Who are your mission?” It’s those people right there that just came to your mind. God has sovereignly and divinely placed those people in your life for a reason.

I want to shake our schools to core. I want the gospel to catch fire and for a revival to spark right here from this youth group. And for that to happen, we have to be on mission.

Our mission is to follow Jesus. Our mission is to surrender to him. And our mission fields are the people right here in our backyard. God wants to use you to change your family, your friends, your school, and this entire generation of people. Let’s go after Jesus together on mission for the people around us.

Small Group Discussion:
1.     Pursuing God on mission will change the way you live. But it requires that we give God all that we have, and we follow Him. What’s holding you back from being on mission for God?
2.     What is some ways God might be telling you to step out in faith?

New Habits

We’ve been in our series “Brand New” talking about how in Christ everything changes. We talked about how in Christ our identity is no longer found or based on material things. Rather, the most important thing about us is our relationship with Jesus. Then, we talked about how in Christ all of our relationships change. We are no longer selfish, but we seek to serve others. And that extends to our relationship with our parents, friends, and members of the opposite sex.

Last night, we talked about how in Christ we are to have brand new habits. Below is a portion of the message from last night. Enjoy!

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”

God is being very blunt and straightforward right here. Do not be like the world. Do not follow the same pattern or the habits of the world. Be different. Be transformed.

So, the question for you and for me is, “In our lives, what needs to change? What habit needs to be changed? What habit have we gotten into doing that just isn’t right, that we know isn’t right? What habit or habits are keeping us from being set apart?”

Often, I take a look at my own time. How much time am I spending on things that are stirring up my heart for God? And how much of my time is being spent on habits that are pulling me everywhere else?

The more time I spend on social media, the more time I find myself comparing myself to others. The more I find myself wanting their clothes, their looks, or their life. Or I find myself reading just mean comments and my heart joining in with them. It’s certainly not drawing me closer to God.

The more time I spend on video games, watching Netflix, watching YouTube, watching sports, the more I find myself becoming numb to things around me. And that’s not what God wants for me. That is not God’s best for my life or your life. There are so many activities that, if I let them, pull my affections from God and rob me of a close relationship with Him.

These bad habits or activities don’t just mess with us on the surface. They have a way of making their way into our hearts and changing the way we feel about God. They determine the things we treasure in our hearts. They make us slaves to those things.

And this is not what God wants for us. God wants us to love him above all else. God wants us to love him with all our heart, mind, and strength. God wants our habits to feed our affections for him.

Talking about habits always makes me think about Hebrews 11 and 12. Hebrews 11 talks about all these people in the Bible who showed such amazing faith in their life. As I read through the names, every ounce of my being longs to be like those people. I want to be on that list. I want to be like those people who followed God, who were marked by their faith in God above all else. I don’t want to live a double life. And I know you don’t want to either. No one wants to be fake. That’s one of the worst things you can call someone. None of us want to be fake living a double life.

So, what do we do? Hebrews 12:1 says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

That’s what we need to do with our habits. We cast them off. We get rid of them.

Anything that is adding weight to our run, anything that might trip us up, anything that could so easily entangle us, anything that is going to cause us to not have God’s best for our life, is it really worth it? Is the regret and shame worth more than an intimate relationship with God? No.

There is no regret when it comes to following Jesus. All of my regret in my life has come from me following myself or conformed to the pattern of the world.

And notice what is said next in verse 2: “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Where your eyes go, the heart is sure to follow. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and you’ll begin to treasure him in your heart. And when Jesus becomes the treasure of your heart, your habits begin to be transformed. First, be honest about the habits that are hurting you and then replace them with new habits. New habits that are actually going to fulfill you. Then, look to Jesus.

And don’t go at it alone. Go to your Christian friends, your small group leader, or me and talk about these things. Get some help in developing new habits that are going to help stir your affections for God.

You take that help, and you start running toward a new direction. You start running your race. You start reading God’s Word. You start listening to music that’s actually good for you to hear. You start surrounding yourself with friends who are on fire for Jesus, who are on mission, and you run together. These are the habits of someone who has been made brand new. These are the habits of a Christian.

Simply put, the habits of a Christian are to follow Jesus. And following Jesus has no regret. Following Jesus, you can be a part of something that’s changing the world. God is doing a new work in you. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

New Relationships

Last night we continued on in our series Brand New! The aim of this series to see how in Christ, every aspect of our lives is changed from what it was before. We are made brand new. Last night, we focused on how the gospel changes our relationships. Below is the message from last night. Enjoy!

Relationships are crazy and messy. Ever since sin entered the world, all of our relationships have been damaged. Our relationship with God, with one another, with this world…all relationships became discolored with shame, conflict, jealousy, and bitterness. Sin has made relationships messy.

Today we have to deal with the messy invasion of sin. On this earth, we will never have a perfect relationship. We won’t have perfect interactions with people. There are always certain dangers that we will face in our relationships because of sin. Those two dangers are idolatry and selfishness.

Two dangers in relationships:
Idolatry – There is a strong temptation within each of us to put people on pedestals. We have this desire to place them in a place that was meant for God. We may simply be trying to just love them. But we sinfully place them above God in our hearts. It’s easy to do. The people we love are always around. We can see them, touch them, hug them. But they are unable to satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. They are unable to fill that hole was meant to be filled by God. Only God can be all-satisfying.

Selfishness – This is like idolatry but in a different sense. Rather than making someone else an idol, this is making yourself an idol. This puts us on the throne of our hearts and in relationships, giving us the excuse to treat others as objects to be used by us however we see fit. Selfishness makes our relationships about personal rewards and cares nothing for the other person. It makes us demanding instead of kind. Jealous instead of grateful. Arrogant instead of humble. It takes and never gives.

Idolatry and selfishness…these are two dangers we are at risk of falling into. If we’re honest, we’ve all been guilty of these at own time or another. So, if we know that these are things to avoid, what does a Christian do in his or her relationships? How does a Christian interact with others differently than the rest of the world? What is the goal of Christians in relationships?

As a Christian, the goal of our relationships is to become more like Christ. And that goal – to become more like Christ – determines everything we do in all of our relationships.

Let’s look at 3 main types of relationships we all interact with in our life:

Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

If we’re going to become more like Christ in our relationships with our parents, we need to know who our parents are. Not who we say they are, but who God says they are.

God says they are people just like you and me. They are human beings with a soul just like you and me. Therefore, we should treat them with love and kindness. They bear the image of God just like you.

They are a God-appointed authority over you. No one gets to pick their parents. These are divinely chosen by God. Therefore, we should honor them by submitting and obeying to their authority.

They are teachers. Parents are commanded by God to be our primary instructors, the people who will teach you about God, sexuality, cooking, driving, education, friendship, beauty, politics, and language. That’s how God designed it. Learn from their wisdom. They have a fountain of experience deeper and wider than ours.

Imagine having someone at your disposal who loved you more than you could ever dare to imagine and who had lived through some of the same battles, same struggles, and same temptations you went through? Imagine having someone like that always would to listen you and hear you. You do. It’s your parents.

Side note: I know not everyone has Christians as parents. I’m in that boat with you. Therefore, we obey our parents as much as we can, until we reach a point where we are asked to sin. Our obedience stops there, not before. And on those days when you’re struggling discouragement and frustration, remember we have a Heavenly Father who is perfectly faithful, perfectly loving, perfectly kind, perfectly trustworthy, and perfectly patient in every way. And he loves you with an unshakable love.

In having this kind of relationship with our parents, we are setting ourselves apart as distinctly Christian. In loving our parents like this, we become more like Christ.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

We spent a long time talking about Godly friendships, so I won’t speak long in this one. But a Christian doesn’t see friends as optional add-ons to life. Nor do they see them as mere objects to be used however they want. Rather, they are a necessity to the Christian life. And they are human beings with a soul who deserve to be valued and loved.

In having this kind of relationship with our friends, we are setting ourselves apart as distinctly Christian. In loving our friends like this, we become more like Christ.

Opposite Gender
1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

This is a big one. For the Christian, if our goal and purpose in all relations is to become more like Christ, then the priority of our relationships with the opposite gender is to promote purity. In other words, how I become more like Jesus in those relationships is to celebrate, protect, and display purity.

Promoting purity starts with the mind. It’s born in our thoughts and exercised in our brain. It begins with examining our thoughts, desires and attitudes. Think about this: when you’re with a member of the opposite sex, what do you think about? Why do you think about that? When you’re alone or daydreaming, who or what are you dreaming about? Do you actively or intentionally guard your thoughts? Do you avoid sexually-charged ideas, images, and entertainment?

The apostle Paul says is Philippians 4 to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, if there is anything excellent, anything worthy of praise, think of these things. Think about Jesus and then you’ll be able to act purely.

Now think about your actions. When you’re with a member of the opposite sex, why do you say the things you do? Why do you dress how you do? Do you try to perform for the opposite genders’ attention and affection? How? Are you acting on the world’s standards or on God’s standards?

Our goal is to become more like Christ in context of every relationship…including those relationships with the opposite gender.

In having this kind of relationship with members of the opposite gender, we are setting ourselves apart as distinctly Christian. In loving our friends of opposite gender like this, we become more like Christ.

For the Christian, at the end of the day no relationship is untouched by the gospel. Not a single one. Every relationship should be about us loving like Jesus, serving like Jesus, encouraging like Jesus, and like Jesus, glorifying God above all else.

The gospel gives us brand new goals and purposes for our relationships. How can you treat someone like Jesus would treat them? How can you serve someone? How can you encourage someone? Will you build up your friends? Will you protect purity? How will the gospel continue to change your relationships? Will you deny yourself, like Jesus did, and love others more than you love yourself?

New Identity

We had a great time last night at Grace Students! We devoured some hotdogs, played some games, sang together, and heard from God's Word. We also started our series "Brand New"! Last night's message is copied below. Enjoy!

There are people all over the world who claim to be Christians, but they live lives that are unchanged. The say that they are followers of Jesus, but they look just like the rest of the world. They live unchanged lives.

A life lived for Christ should look radically different from the rest of the world. There should be visible differences between a Christian and someone else. If Jesus didn’t really change anything in our lives, would he be worth following? No. But, if following Jesus really does result in a life being turned upside-down, then following him really would be worth risking it all.

Jesus has no half-hearted followers. Jesus demands all of us. So, here’s our question: What does a Jesus-follower, a real Christian look like?

Meet the Apostle Paul. He was once the fiercest attackers of the church and Jesus, but then Jesus turned his whole life upside-down and saved him. Then he became the greatest missionary of the Christian faith. God even used him to write 13 books of the Bible. To answer our question, I want to look at one of the things he wrote in Philippians.

Philippians 3:8-11
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

What is a Christian? According to Paul, a Christian is someone who does 5 things:

1. Christians Treasure Christ Above All
Paul suggests that everything, even the most valuable, awesome things the world could have to offer, are completely worthless when compared to the awesomeness of Jesus. What about popularity? Comfort? Family? Friends? To Paul, that’s like comparing trash to a King’s feast. It’s not that all of those things are sinful, wrong, or even bad. It’s that Jesus is just so much better than anything else this world has to offer. Comparatively speaking, they are nothing because Jesus is everything. Paul genuinely believed this and lived like it. Do we?

Do we live like Jesus is better than my phone? Do we live like Jesus is better than my body? Do we live like Jesus is better than sports? Would I gladly give it all up for Jesus? Would I really?

We need to constantly be reminded that Jesus is our treasure and he is far above anything else this world has to offer. He is our reward and our joy. And as his followers, we should live like it. A Christian treasures Christ above all.

2. Christians Have Faith in Him Alone
This is completely counter-cultural. Our world constantly tells us to have faith in our selves. To trust ourselves and do whatever we feel is right. But a Christian has faith in Jesus. Jesus actually told us that we need to deny ourselves and trust in Him as the true and perfect Savior. Have faith in Christ. 

3. Christians Know Him
You cannot be a Christian unless you know God. Not just know about him, but actually have a relationship with him. Even the demons know about God. You and I have to know him as Savior, as Lord, as Redeemer, as King, as Father. A Christian has an intimate relationship with God. It’s not one-sided or impersonal. This is a soul level relationship. A Christians knows Him.

4. Christians Suffer for Him
God never said that Christians would not suffer. In fact, he said the opposite. He said that following him would bring hard times. He said that it would bring persecution. He said that it wouldn’t be easy. You probably will be bullied for your faith. You probably will get excluded from things because you’re Christian. You might be mocked. You might be laughed at. But so was Jesus. When things like that happen to us because of our faith in Jesus, that’s actually a sign of us belonging to him. And that’s a very good thing. A Christian will suffer for Jesus.

5. Christians Become Like Him
That leads us to the last one: Christians become like Him. A follower of Christ lives in such a way that they are always trying to become more and more like Christ in every area of their life. Our allegiance to Christ leads to God changing everything about us from the inside out, making us more and more like Jesus. That means we don’t serve God in isolation. We love and serve in a community of believers. We fight sin. We repent of our sin. We pray. We have habits in our life that help us become more like Jesus. By no means does this mean that we’re perfect. It means that we strive for perfection and praise God for the grace along the way.

Every person who has ever lived aches at the questions, “Who am I? What is the thing that defines me? How am I supposed to live?” We look around and we see people who call themselves Jesus -followers, but something is off. They define themselves by their clothes, their grades, their popularity, their sports, their successes, their failures, their parent’s, or whatever. But Jesus-followers can only find their identity in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The gospel changes who we are. It changes everything. It makes us brand new.

Christians who live for the Kingdom of Heaven have a new King. His name is Jesus. And because of him, everything has been transformed. We are no longer like those who live around us. The world can’t make sense of us.

If you live for Jesus, you can’t live an unchanged life. If the gospel is true, it will ultimately change every little part about us. It changes who you are, what you do, what you say, what you think, what you like, what you dislike…it changes everything for all of eternity. The life of a Christian is not always easy, safe, or always comfortable. But it will be good. It will awaken in you a deep, all-satisfying, never-ceasing joy.

This is your brand new identity in Christ.