• ~IMPORTANT~

    Our New Year's Eve Eve Party is 12/30 from 1-4! Come our and invite a friend!

Justice VS. Mercy—4/10/16

Happy Monday Everyone!

Last night was a blast! We started off by playing a short game and praying for our schools before we moved into our worship time.

The message, Justice VS. Mercy, was the fourth and final part of our “VS. The Battle is One” Series. We looked at two different sides of justice. The first side was standing up for others when they are being mistreated. The second was looking at how we handle things when we are being mistreated. The passage of Scripture we looked at was Mathew 5:38-48NIV,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest, principle to follow that Jesus taught. Verse 38 (eye for eye, and tooth for tooth) is referring to the law that was given to the judges in the Old Testament. That is how they judged and handed out punishments. The idea was not for people to carry out their own punishments. The rest of the passage is not telling us that we should be “doormats” and allow people to mistreat us. What it is telling us to to show love to others even when they mistreat us.

The hardest part of this concept is showing love to people when they really don’t deserve. The truth, though, is this— we didn’t deserve Christ to show us love as he hung on the cross for our sins. It’s easy to fall into the way of thinking that says, “If someone messes up or wrongs me bad enough, they don’t deserve to be forgiven”. As Jesus breathed his last few breaths on the cross, he used them to make this statement about those who had crucified him and contributed to his murder, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” That is POWERFUL. That is MERCY. That is the LOVE OF GOD.

The key thing is this. Showing mercy and the love of God to others who have wronged us does not mean that we are saying what they did was okay. It also does not mean that there shouldn’t be consequences that they need to face for their actions. The reason that we are called to love even our enemies is to show them the very same love of God that we have had the opportunity to experience. It’s really not about us at all— it’s about introducing even the worst of sinners to the life-changing power of God!

We closed out the night with a POWERFUL time of worship with everyone gathered up front. We had the incredible opportunity to see many of the youth surrender to God, some shed tears, and some even raised their hands in worship for the very first time. As the music played, the youth staff had the opportunity to pray with several of the youth. We truly have an incredible staff of volunteers that help make what we do possible. Make sure you tell Trevor, Jen, Brittany, Jesse, and Lydia how much you appreciate them the next time you see them!

Be Blessed and have a GREAT week!

-Pastor Dustin

 

Tolerance VS. Love—4/3/16

Hello again from Awakening Youth Ministries!

This past Sunday was Part 3 in our “VS. The Battle is Won” Series. The title of the message was “Tolerance VS. Love”. The word “tolerance” is obviously a huge buzzword in today’s society. The growing view is, “the world would be a better place if we would all just learn to be tolerant of one another. Tolerance, as our society has come to view it, means blindly accepting everything about another person. We’re told not to question anyone’s choices or behaviors because it’s their life, and we don’t have the right to say what they’re doing is wrong.

The truth is, we do not have the right to tell others how to live, but we do have the God-given responsibility as followers of Christ to let them know that there is a better way. When we get to the point that we accept the sin in the world we can no longer love the world as Christ loves the world. Tolerance puts up with people but it does not have the power to transform lives; however, that is exactly what the love of God does.

We looked at the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-9,

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Zaccheus was hated among the Jews because he sold them out to work for the Roman government as a tax collector. We see in the story that the crowd “put up” with Zaccheus being there with them because they knew that there was nothing that they could do about it. Many times, it’s easy for is to fall into the same trap. We may put up with people that we don’t like as well as people who are different than us, but we make no effort to show them the life-changing love of God.

Jesus didn’t ignore Zaccheus. He loved him. We’re not told what was said during the time that Jesus spent at Zaccheus’ house, but whatever it was radically transformed Zaccheus and the way he lived his life.

What I believe the world is missing is this— simply tolerating and agreeing with someone DOES NOT mean that you love them, and disagreeing with someone while encouraging them to reevaluate their choices DOES NOT mean that you hate them! We hear many times, Jesus loved/loves everybody and so should you! That statement is 100% correct! We are called to love everybody. We in no way, shape, or form should show hatred or mistreat anyone in the name of religion.

With that being said, keep this in mind. The love Jesus had for us was so strong that it prompted him to die on the cross to restore the broken relationship that OUR sin caused. This shows us that while God loves us unconditionally, he also does not tolerate sin. This is the same way we are to approach the people around us. Like we mentioned at the beginning of this post, “While it is not our RIGHT to tell others how to live, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to show those living in sin that there is a better way to live. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Our prayer is that we will all love others as Christ loves us while not tolerating/accepting the sin in the world. The well-known quote from Mahatma Gandhi says, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.

Don’t simply tolerate! Love as God loves us and change the world!

See you Sunday (4/10/16) for the final part of the series— “Justice VS. Mercy”!

-Pastor Dustin