What is Freedom?

Freedom is a word thrown out a lot this time of year. But, what does it mean to be truly free. Webster defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” For most of us our understanding of freedom ends there. We use it as a crutch to do and say what we want. 
 
As Christians we need to see the word freedom through Christ’s eyes. What was Jesus trying to tell us about freedom.  Jesus said that He had come to Earth to “proclaim freedom” (Luke 4:18). And on another occasion, He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). He was not setting us free to do or say what we want but instead was setting us free to take the path God wanted for our lives. Because, up until that point we were hindered or restrained from God’s path by sin. 
 
Before Christ’s death and resurrection, we were slaves to our sinful nature. We were quick to believe Satan’s lies and temptations. But once we accept that Jesus is God and he died to set us free from those sins, we are free to live in a new way. Christ’s death on the cross freed us to become the people God designed us to be.
 
It is not often we consider the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice for us — what it cost him to give us this freedom.  As we honor those who have allowed us the freedoms we enjoy in America, we can see Christ’s death in a bit more tangible way. As soldiers die on the battlefield for people they have never met, who may not even appreciate what they are doing, we see Christ on the cross. 
 
We can start to see a glimpse of the sacrifice God made for us with His Son, in the families who have lost loved ones in the military. We honor their sacrifice by living out our freedom in our speech, to assemble,  and pray to whom we want. Do we honor God’s sacrifice with the same respect?  
 
Cassi
Director of Youth Ministries
 


Sex: Old and New Witness to Purity

In my previous blogs, I have laboriously argued that in the Biblical witness both the Old and New Testaments each reveal that God considers it impure to have sex outside of marriage. I also want to point out that the two testaments are together one and the same witness. 

The New Testament (NT) in no way “upgrades” or carries more weight than the Old Testament (OT). Jesus says in Luke 16:17 that “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the law.” Or again in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” They are both one witness, and God’s desire is the same in both. 

It is true that some laws of the OT are not upheld for all people in the NT (what we call the Jewish cultic laws like the kosher laws, the laws of sacrifice, and Temple worship). These laws Jesus specifically fulfilled and made obsolete. The difference has to do with Christ’s purpose of salvation. Paul discusses this in Galatians. The Old Covenant/Testament (meaning the system of sacrifices) was given as a way to identify sin, curb it, and serve as a temporary system of atonement for it (look closely at Galatians 3). It was a stop-gap measure until the coming of Christ. Christ comes to be the atoning sacrifice “once and for all,” so the temple and sacrifices are no longer needed. So Christ fulfills all the cultic laws. Jesus says at the Last Supper, “…this is the cup of the new covenant…” (Luke 22:20). In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is making the claim that His sacrifice on the cross is the new covenant of salvation, replacing the old covenant of cultic laws and animal sacrifice. 


Read more...

Wisdom in a World Gone Mad

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have good understanding.”
  • Psalm 111:10

 

Wisdom is precious and becoming more so as years march on.  It is a rarity to come across one who is wise.  We are much more liable to find those who are angry or offended, those fueled by emotion or obsessed with a crippled form of justice.  Most people are agenda driven, close-minded and less than willing to point the finger at themselves.

 

Many define wisdom has being in possession of facts.  But simply knowing information does not guide one on how to live.  Take Batman for example.  He is actually not even a superhero.  He is a brave billionaire with amazing gadgets and weapons at his disposal.  But the only way Batman can fight crime is by knowing how to use each and every device in the most effective way.  One misstep or mistake could do him in.  In the same way, we might be armed with facts, but do we have the wisdom to know how and when to employ them?

 

Many define wisdom as being in tune with oneself.  The idea would be that if I know myself well enough, then I can bring the wisdom of my experience into the world.  I should be an expert on myself and willing to share my perspective. But then what do I do with the things that are beyond myself?   


Read more...

Summer Goals

The school year has come to a close for the most of the teens, meaning it’s SUMMER TIME! For most teens this means its a time for sleeping in, hanging out and binge watching shows. But when it comes to your spiritual lives it starts to look like the dusty backpack in the corner of of your rooms.

During the summer, youth group takes a break and vacations make church attendance hit or miss. Without a weekly connection to your church community, the focus on spiritual growth starts to fade.

Throughout the school year, youth group and church gives the youth a place to grow and dig deep into their relationship with Christ. It’s a place where they learn, ask questions and encourage one another. Then summer starts and that all goes away.

So how can you stay connected?


Read more...

Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The New Testament (Part 2)

So, the New Testament (NT) frames sex from the perspective of what is best for people. It goes something like this: God created sex to bless people. God’s plan for sex is the best for people. When people follow God’s plan for sex, they experience God’s intention for sex.

The NT also frames sex in terms of God’s better plan. It goes something like this: God created a plan of life for people. God’s plan of life for people is the best life for people. When people follow God’s plan, they experience the full blessing of God in their lives. Doing sex God’s way is part of God’s plan for life for people.


Read more...

Pentecost Power!

 
Pentecost was an incredible event that occurred in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago.  God unleashed his Holy Spirit upon those who were Jesus’ disciples.  They boldly proclaimed the truth that Jesus was the Son of God.  They told their audience (the Jewish people), that they were nothing short of guilty for killing Jesus and they exalted Jesus as Lord and King.

The people who were gathered were from all across the known world.  They each had their tribe and language and yet God’s Spirit enable each person to hear the message in their native tongue.

The results were astounding! The people were convicted.  They were ready to repent.  They accepted the message; both their guilt and their forgiveness.  They were baptized and 3,000 became followers of Jesus that day.  You can read about it in Acts 2.


Read more...

Courageous

You are COURAGEOUS!

Why, you ask. You are courageous for following Christ. Deciding to follow Christ and continuing to follow him throughout your life is brave. Maybe you don’t feel like it takes a lot of bravery in our little part of suburban America but, you would be wrong.

Faith in God is courageous in and of itself. First. you have decided to follow a God you cannot see; then practice teachings outside of today’s modern norms. All of this takes bravery.

Each day we put a trust in God with our lives. Author Gretchen Fleming states, “Courage is acting like “God’s got this!” even before it looks that way. It is stepping out to follow when you really don’t know how things will actually turn out.”

Now that you know you are already brave, how does that change your perspective of your faith journey?

Read more...

Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The New Testament (Part 1)

The New Testament (NT) shows a complete continuity with the Old Testament laws about human sexuality, and in particular the act of engaging in sex. In fact, the NT not only upholds the stance that sex must be reserved for marriage, it actually makes it stronger! Jesus does this in Matthew 5:27-29: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” That’s right! According to Jesus, adultery is not just the physical act. You also commit adultery when you lust after someone!  It’s also about your inward desires. So, according to Jesus, you don’t have to have physical sex to commit adultery! Ouch!


Read more...

Spring in Minnesota

Spring is here in Minnesota.  Of course, we wish someone would notify the weather!  Even though we are now four days into April, we have been blanketed with non-stop snow!  Not only are we forced to break out all the winter gear again, but now every conversation you hear or have has to revolve around the amount of snow on the ground.  Heck, it’s in all the blog posts too!
 

I will admit that snow in April is not one’s ideal picture for spring, but the beauty of the snow-covered trees and bright reflecting landscapes cannot be denied.  I personally love how our fresh snow fall coincides so perfectly with Easter.


Read more...

To Let Go

I lay there wide-eyed, I should be sleeping but instead my mind is whirling, visions of speeding cars and the sound of crunching metal fill my ears. The thoughts are going faster than I can track them. Normally, I am not one to worry, but anxiety has it’s hold on me with this one. I spend a few nights a week unable to sleep, focused on just one thing, my child will be driving soon.

Now if this story w

as from this past week it may make more sense, since she turns 15 soon, but sadly this story started when she was 12. It just happened one night I went to bed without a worry and the next I was in a panic about the future.

I was losing sleep, this made me crabby and distant the next day. I was so busy worrying about a her future that I was missing out on her present.

Read more...

What is Freedom?

Freedom is a word thrown out a lot this time of year. But, what does it mean to be truly free. Webster defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” For most of us our understanding of freedom ends there. We use it as a crutch to do and say what we want. 
 
As Christians we need to see the word freedom through Christ’s eyes. What was Jesus trying to tell us about freedom.  Jesus said that He had come to Earth to “proclaim freedom” (Luke 4:18). And on another occasion, He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). He was not setting us free to do or say what we want but instead was setting us free to take the path God wanted for our lives. Because, up until that point we were hindered or restrained from God’s path by sin. 
 
Before Christ’s death and resurrection, we were slaves to our sinful nature. We were quick to believe Satan’s lies and temptations. But once we accept that Jesus is God and he died to set us free from those sins, we are free to live in a new way. Christ’s death on the cross freed us to become the people God designed us to be.
 
It is not often we consider the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice for us — what it cost him to give us this freedom.  As we honor those who have allowed us the freedoms we enjoy in America, we can see Christ’s death in a bit more tangible way. As soldiers die on the battlefield for people they have never met, who may not even appreciate what they are doing, we see Christ on the cross. 
 
We can start to see a glimpse of the sacrifice God made for us with His Son, in the families who have lost loved ones in the military. We honor their sacrifice by living out our freedom in our speech, to assemble,  and pray to whom we want. Do we honor God’s sacrifice with the same respect?  
 
Cassi
Director of Youth Ministries
 


Sex: Old and New Witness to Purity

In my previous blogs, I have laboriously argued that in the Biblical witness both the Old and New Testaments each reveal that God considers it impure to have sex outside of marriage. I also want to point out that the two testaments are together one and the same witness. 

The New Testament (NT) in no way “upgrades” or carries more weight than the Old Testament (OT). Jesus says in Luke 16:17 that “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the law.” Or again in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” They are both one witness, and God’s desire is the same in both. 

It is true that some laws of the OT are not upheld for all people in the NT (what we call the Jewish cultic laws like the kosher laws, the laws of sacrifice, and Temple worship). These laws Jesus specifically fulfilled and made obsolete. The difference has to do with Christ’s purpose of salvation. Paul discusses this in Galatians. The Old Covenant/Testament (meaning the system of sacrifices) was given as a way to identify sin, curb it, and serve as a temporary system of atonement for it (look closely at Galatians 3). It was a stop-gap measure until the coming of Christ. Christ comes to be the atoning sacrifice “once and for all,” so the temple and sacrifices are no longer needed. So Christ fulfills all the cultic laws. Jesus says at the Last Supper, “…this is the cup of the new covenant…” (Luke 22:20). In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is making the claim that His sacrifice on the cross is the new covenant of salvation, replacing the old covenant of cultic laws and animal sacrifice. 


Read more...

Wisdom in a World Gone Mad

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have good understanding.”
  • Psalm 111:10

 

Wisdom is precious and becoming more so as years march on.  It is a rarity to come across one who is wise.  We are much more liable to find those who are angry or offended, those fueled by emotion or obsessed with a crippled form of justice.  Most people are agenda driven, close-minded and less than willing to point the finger at themselves.

 

Many define wisdom has being in possession of facts.  But simply knowing information does not guide one on how to live.  Take Batman for example.  He is actually not even a superhero.  He is a brave billionaire with amazing gadgets and weapons at his disposal.  But the only way Batman can fight crime is by knowing how to use each and every device in the most effective way.  One misstep or mistake could do him in.  In the same way, we might be armed with facts, but do we have the wisdom to know how and when to employ them?

 

Many define wisdom as being in tune with oneself.  The idea would be that if I know myself well enough, then I can bring the wisdom of my experience into the world.  I should be an expert on myself and willing to share my perspective. But then what do I do with the things that are beyond myself?   


Read more...

Summer Goals

The school year has come to a close for the most of the teens, meaning it’s SUMMER TIME! For most teens this means its a time for sleeping in, hanging out and binge watching shows. But when it comes to your spiritual lives it starts to look like the dusty backpack in the corner of of your rooms.

During the summer, youth group takes a break and vacations make church attendance hit or miss. Without a weekly connection to your church community, the focus on spiritual growth starts to fade.

Throughout the school year, youth group and church gives the youth a place to grow and dig deep into their relationship with Christ. It’s a place where they learn, ask questions and encourage one another. Then summer starts and that all goes away.

So how can you stay connected?


Read more...

Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The New Testament (Part 2)

So, the New Testament (NT) frames sex from the perspective of what is best for people. It goes something like this: God created sex to bless people. God’s plan for sex is the best for people. When people follow God’s plan for sex, they experience God’s intention for sex.

The NT also frames sex in terms of God’s better plan. It goes something like this: God created a plan of life for people. God’s plan of life for people is the best life for people. When people follow God’s plan, they experience the full blessing of God in their lives. Doing sex God’s way is part of God’s plan for life for people.


Read more...

Pentecost Power!

 
Pentecost was an incredible event that occurred in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago.  God unleashed his Holy Spirit upon those who were Jesus’ disciples.  They boldly proclaimed the truth that Jesus was the Son of God.  They told their audience (the Jewish people), that they were nothing short of guilty for killing Jesus and they exalted Jesus as Lord and King.

The people who were gathered were from all across the known world.  They each had their tribe and language and yet God’s Spirit enable each person to hear the message in their native tongue.

The results were astounding! The people were convicted.  They were ready to repent.  They accepted the message; both their guilt and their forgiveness.  They were baptized and 3,000 became followers of Jesus that day.  You can read about it in Acts 2.


Read more...

Courageous

You are COURAGEOUS!

Why, you ask. You are courageous for following Christ. Deciding to follow Christ and continuing to follow him throughout your life is brave. Maybe you don’t feel like it takes a lot of bravery in our little part of suburban America but, you would be wrong.

Faith in God is courageous in and of itself. First. you have decided to follow a God you cannot see; then practice teachings outside of today’s modern norms. All of this takes bravery.

Each day we put a trust in God with our lives. Author Gretchen Fleming states, “Courage is acting like “God’s got this!” even before it looks that way. It is stepping out to follow when you really don’t know how things will actually turn out.”

Now that you know you are already brave, how does that change your perspective of your faith journey?

Read more...

Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The New Testament (Part 1)

The New Testament (NT) shows a complete continuity with the Old Testament laws about human sexuality, and in particular the act of engaging in sex. In fact, the NT not only upholds the stance that sex must be reserved for marriage, it actually makes it stronger! Jesus does this in Matthew 5:27-29: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” That’s right! According to Jesus, adultery is not just the physical act. You also commit adultery when you lust after someone!  It’s also about your inward desires. So, according to Jesus, you don’t have to have physical sex to commit adultery! Ouch!


Read more...

Spring in Minnesota

Spring is here in Minnesota.  Of course, we wish someone would notify the weather!  Even though we are now four days into April, we have been blanketed with non-stop snow!  Not only are we forced to break out all the winter gear again, but now every conversation you hear or have has to revolve around the amount of snow on the ground.  Heck, it’s in all the blog posts too!
 

I will admit that snow in April is not one’s ideal picture for spring, but the beauty of the snow-covered trees and bright reflecting landscapes cannot be denied.  I personally love how our fresh snow fall coincides so perfectly with Easter.


Read more...

To Let Go

I lay there wide-eyed, I should be sleeping but instead my mind is whirling, visions of speeding cars and the sound of crunching metal fill my ears. The thoughts are going faster than I can track them. Normally, I am not one to worry, but anxiety has it’s hold on me with this one. I spend a few nights a week unable to sleep, focused on just one thing, my child will be driving soon.

Now if this story w

as from this past week it may make more sense, since she turns 15 soon, but sadly this story started when she was 12. It just happened one night I went to bed without a worry and the next I was in a panic about the future.

I was losing sleep, this made me crabby and distant the next day. I was so busy worrying about a her future that I was missing out on her present.

Read more...

 
 
 

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