Lake Champion

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”  (English Standard Version, Colossians 1:28) 

This year in youth group we are trying something different for our retreat. Instead of attending a winter retreat, we are attending a Spring Retreat (April 5th to 7th) for 6th to 12th-grade students. It is at Lake Champion which is in Glen Spey, NY. I am very excited for our teens to attend this event. Here is why: 

1. The retreat will have a fantastic speaker, Ken Castor, a professor at Crown College (Pastor Adam received his master’s at Crown) who has a passion for seeing the teenagers on fire for Christ. I have heard only great things about him, and of course, he is Alliance☺ He engages the students with Biblical Principles and then leaves time for the youth leaders to join with the students in a group setting. 

2. We will participate with many young people from the Alliance Metro District. It will give our students a chance to see & interact with like-minded believers of the same generation. 

3. Our students will enjoy worshipping our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King with a fantastic band. 

4. There are many things for the students to participate in during free time: basketball, frisbee, soccer, dodgeball, sand volleyball, climb the rock wall, hang out in an enormous game room, snack bar, ride the giant swing (that thing is awesome looking!), high ropes course, and weather permitting zip line into the lake. 

Thank you in advance for supporting the next generation. I ask for your support in two ways. One that you pray for us as we take this trip, that God will raise this generation to be fully mature in Christ and to “do more for Jesus than what has been done in the last 100 years.” (Dan Boal). Secondly, that you support the teenagers by attending the Spaghetti Dinner this Saturday. March 2. Not only does this raise funds to help some of the teenagers attend events like Lake Champion, but also it gives you a chance to meet some of them as they serve you during the dinner. 

Thank you for your love and care for this generation. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21) 

Life 2019: Pray for Us

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This month I wanted to go over ways that you can specifically pray for our Life trip in July. Before that, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank you for investing in this generation and believing that God will use them now and in the years to come to glorify God’s Kingdom. Your love and care for the teenagers are evident as I have seen your support flow in, and it touches me to see some of you praying for the teenagers. Thank You! 

Here are five specific ways to pray for the teenagers going to Life Conference this year: 

1. God would work in them and through them, and that they will have an open heart and mind to what God shows them (Psalm 119:18). 

2. Pray that God will provide youth leaders (myself and another adult) many opportunities to build meaningful relationships with the teenagers as we live life with them for a week. Specifically, for “discipleship” moments where we can relate God’s Word to their lives, challenging them to grow. 

3. We will talk about prayer at the Life Conference, and this is a chance for them to “go deeper into the life we have in and with Jesus”. Please pray that they will go deeper! 

4. During the week we will get to display Christ’s love with a large body of student believers by serving the Central Florida area. Pray that as we talk about serving and as we serve there that it will ignite a desire for them to become servants for Christ in our church and to be “salt and light” in their communities when they come back home. 

5. Another topic at LIFE is "Justice." There will be a hands-on experience where they will learn about slavery issues, both locally and globally. They will not just learn about it but will know what God is calling them to do about it, (Hebrews 13:3). Ask for God to show them precisely how He wants to use them in the world as they learn about "justice." 

Thank you for your investment and for spending much time in prayer for this trip. “Now to him who can do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (English Standard Version, Ephesians 3:20-21). 

Gifts After Christmas

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I don't know about you guys, but it's hard to think about Christmas and not think about gifts. Some of us love to receive and can't wait to get the toy, video game, tools, new car, motorcycle or whatever we have wanted for ourselves. Some of us like to give gifts and to see the joy of the person receiving them. 

Since you are reading this, and Christmas is over and now that we are in a New Year, I want you to remember that receiving and giving gifts does not end at Christmas. 

I want to tell you a story today that has to do with receiving a gift but also about giving a gift. This story is actually in the Old Testament and I am writing it in the first person (telling the story as if I was one of the participants in the story). You can find this story in Joshua 2 and 6:24-25. 

I was one of the spies that Joshua sent into Jericho and we were getting ready to make our way into the Promiseland. 

Joshua only sent two of us to spy on Jericho. We got to the city, and we decide to lodge with a prostitute named Rahab. It may sound crazy to have chosen such a place to stay, but we felt that this would be an inconspicuous place, meaning we wouldn't stand out by visiting there as opposed to another location. 

While we were there, someone told the king of Jericho that we were hanging out at Rahab's place! So, the king sent to Rahab saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have to come to search out all the land." Oh man! I thought that I was a roasted duck on Christmas day! Even though she had hidden us I didn't think that a prostitute would care enough about us, especially if it involved her well-being. But she didn't turn us in; instead, she hid us and told the king, "True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them." 

The king's men believed her and began to pursue. Once we were safe from the pursuers, Rahab came to us and said that she had heard about our God. She had heard of His amazing wonders in Egypt, how God dried up the water in the Red Sea and how God allowed us to overcome the Amorite kingdom. She then confessed that "the LORD your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath." 

After her confession of faith to us which the Bible speaks about in Hebrews 11:31 and in James 2:25, she had a request for us. Since she had given us a gift by not handing us over to the king of Jericho, she wanted us to give a gift in return. She wanted us to spare her and her family whenever Israel conquered Jericho. We agreed that we would save her and her family. 

She then let us down by a red rope out of her window. Her house was part of the city wall, and since the gate was locked, we climbed through her window with this red rope. She was to leave this rope out of her window when Israel attacked Jericho, so they knew which home not to destroy. 

Later on, when we did overcome Jericho, as God commanded, we utterly destroyed everything in it except for the metals which were placed in the treasury of the House of the LORD. Because of Rahab's faith in our GOD, she and her family were given the gift of life. They were spared, and they have a place in our heritage. 

Rahab lived in Jericho. Could you imagine what she must have seen the day Israel conquered this city? The livestock, all the people and complete and utter destruction of the homes that were in that city. Rahab, a prostitute, and her family were the only ones spared from this total destruction! But why? Was it because of her works or what she had done in life? No! She was a prostitute. It was because of her faith that she was given the gift of Grace. 

You and I have this same gift offered to us. God's Word tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, not of yourselves it is a gift of God, so that no one may boast." 

There are two things I want you to remember from this story. 

First of all, we have a choice to make just like Rahab did. We can either chose to have faith in Jesus (John 3:16) and have Eternal life, or we can choose not to believe in Jesus and face utter destruction which includes Hell and the torments of Hell like the citizens of Jericho. 

Have you accepted this gift that God has offered you? 

Secondly, share this gift not only at Christmas or Birthdays but as much as you can tell others about it. If you have accepted this gift, are you telling your friends and family about it? Because, just like the citizens of Jericho, the people we love, know and meet will face utter destruction if they do not believe in Jesus. Pray for God to give you open doors to share your faith in Christ and be amazed as He does just that! 

Thankfulness

"Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 106:1 ESV 

I have been considering what it means to be thankful, these last few days. Maybe, it is because Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner as I write this? I was reading an old story that someone had sent me on thankfulness, and I want to share it with you. I don't know who originally wrote this story, but it was not me. 

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There was a woman at work and while she is working she receives a phone call from the babysitter saying, "your daughter is sick with a fever." The woman leaves immediately stopping at the pharmacy to pick up medicine for her child. She goes back to her car and realizes that she is locked out! At this time, she begins to panic and calls the babysitter. The babysitter tells her to please hurry because her child is getting worse and gives her the advice to look for a metal coat hanger, so she can pick her car. The lady in a panic begins to look for a hanger and finds an old rusty one in the parking lot. 

She looks at the hanger and thinks, "I have no idea on how to use this thing?" And she begins to pray for God to deliver someone to help her in this time of crisis. All of a sudden, an old rusty car pulls up with a dirty, greasy old man wearing a skull cap. The woman is thinking, "God, this is who you sent to help me?" But yet she was so desperate that she was still very thankful. 

She explains her situation to the man, that her daughter is very sick and that she needs to get to her as soon as possible; however, she locked her keys in the car. 

In less than one minute the man had her car unlocked. The woman hugs him and while she is crying says, "you’re a very nice man." The man replies to her, "lady, I'm not a nice man I just got out of prison yesterday for car theft." The woman hugs the man again and with tears in her eyes says, "Oh Thank you, God! You even sent me a professional!" 

This fun story reminds me of what Paul tells the Philippian believers. He tells them to pray about everything, just like this woman stopped to pray for help. Paul also tells us to be thankful in our prayers. Just like the woman in this story was grateful for any help, regardless of who, it was and once she had received the support was even more thankful. 

Are we thankful for God sending His one and only Son to us this Season? Are we grateful that we can be called His Children? And do we appreciate that He has given us His Spirit to help us glorify Him in our daily journey? 

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7 ESV 

Consumed

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Growing up in my teenage years, I loved basketball. The desire to be the best player consumed me. During this time, Michael Jordan, the best player in basketball history was in the NBA. Many videos displayed his amazing skills and talents. 

Maybe you remember the commercial that Gatorade had at the time with the slogan “I wanna be like Mike”? That was me! I wanted to give it my all! I wanted to dunk, pass, shoot, and win like Mike. I would use his videos to motivate me during the Summer. I had this mentality that if I wanted to be the best, then I needed to watch the best. Basketball completely consumed my life. 

I tell you all of this because it struck me this week that if we are “fully devoted followers of Christ” shouldn’t we be consumed with Christ, His Word, seeking His will, and giving the Spirit complete control of our lives. 

Christ shows us this importance of being consumed in Him when He says: 

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and in my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have, I loved you. Abide in my love”, (John 15:4-9 ESV). 

In these verses there are at least four reasons why we should “abide” in Christ: 

1. We need Christ to live the life that He has called us to live. verse 4. 

2. We are useless in our service to Him if we do not remain in Him. verse 6. 

3. Our desires will match Christ’s desires, and we will see those desires carried out when we stay in Him and His Word. verse 7-8. 

4. Christ tells us to remain in His love. verse 9 

The above shows why we should want to abide in Christ and here is one way we can do this (the how) and that is by saturating ourselves in His Word, the Bible. The One to One Discipleship Manual that we use at church says that we can grow in God’s Word by doing these five things. 

1. “Hear it,” Romans 10:17. 

2. “Read it.” Revelations 1:3. 

3. “Study it.” Acts 17:11. 

4. “Memorize it.” Psalm 119: 9-11. 

5. “Meditate on it.” Psalm 1:1-3 

Are you abiding in Christ? 

Life 2019

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It is hard to believe that some of our Circle Drive Students will be headed to Life 2019 almost a year from now! The Life Conference is put together by our denomination, The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), every three years for our youth throughout the country. There will be around 8,000-10,000 teenagers from different Alliance youth groups in one place to worship, grow, and serve God together as one family. 

The theme for Life 2019 is "Awakened," ie: "awakened to an amazing Life in and through Jesus."1 Top Notch Speakers and Christian Artists will be there for the purpose of "Awakening" the next generation. They will do this by showing them that God wants to use them now, and that there is an entire nation of believers just like them. It is the desire of the leaders and speakers of the Life Conference to see the power of the Holy Spirit "Awaken" our students to what the Lord is trying to show them in their lives and to "Awaken" them to the potential that God has given them to make a lasting impact on this world. 

Many other things happen on these trips. It will give another youth leader and myself a chance to further our connections with the students. We will be spending a week together worshipping, serving, and talking about God. There will be opportunities to discuss what is going on in their lives and what they think God wants them to do. This Conference is a time where God may use this event to open their minds and hearts to Him. After returning from Life, we as a church get the privilege of continuing to disciple the Next Generation of students, who desire to live a life for God! 

Thank you for partnering with Circle Drive as we take this step to invest in these students. 

Please be praying for the youth, that God will begin to work in their lives NOW by preparing their hearts for what He wants to show them and that we will see fully devoted followers of Christ growing and going forth from our church. May God "Awaken" the lives of the Next Generation so that they may come to know Jesus, thrive in their relationship with Him, begin to do more for Him, and launch new disciples for Jesus. 

Pray also about how you might financially assist these students as they work to raise funding to go. 

All for Jesus, Pastor Moe 

1 Boal, Dan, National C&MA Youth Director 

Circle Drive Students Update

What does the youth group do on a Sunday Night?
A typical Sunday night looks like this: announcements, games, worship, a brief message, and then we break into small groups to go over the message. 

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Why is it important that parents and church people know what we are talking about in Youth Group?
It is important for them to know so that they can be praying for the students, asking God to work in their lives. As a parent, this also gives you an opportunity to ask your teenager specifically what they learned that night. Knowing what we are talking about will also give anyone that is building a rapport with a student a chance to speak to them about what they are learning. 

What are we studying now?
We started a new four-week series on Faith, specifically Grace and how it is crucial to your Faith. Last Sunday we unpacked what Grace means and what Faith means and then we dove into how Grace does impact your Faith. During this study I have seen God work in my own life. God's Grace is something given to us even though we do not deserve it. We have never earned it, nor will we ever be able to earn it. John Stott defines it this way, "Grace is love that stoops and cares and rescues, " and I would like to add even though we don't deserve it. Stop and think about this definition for a minute. Who stooped down for us, cared for us, and rescued us? Jesus did, and not one of us deserves this sacrificial act! This term and the power of its meaning brought me often to my knees this week, and I pray that it impacts the youth and you in the same way that it impacted me. 

Grace is essential to our Faith (our trust, or belief in God) because there will be times in our lives where we may have doubts, there will be days when life is hard, and we begin to think, "Does God love me?" It's at this time when God steps in and reminds us of His Grace. He saved us from our sins, and Hell, even though we don't deserve it. He sacrificed His only Son so that we could be saved. If we can remember God's Grace in our doubts, fears and hard times, then we will remain strong in our Faith. 

Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." 

Christ Our Healer

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Spring is technically here, and Easter is on our minds. It is a time where we reflect on Christ, what He has done for us through His death and resurrection. We often think about the atonement at this time, which is what Christ did for us with His sacrifice, death, and resurrection so that we could be made right before God. This leads us to focus on Christ as our Savior, but what about Christ as our Healer? 

Scripture makes it evident to us that Divine Healing is from Jesus and His "substitutionary atonement", (His sacrifice for us to make us right with God). We see this in Isaiah 53:5, which was foretold about Christ at least 400 years before He was born, "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed." The Apostle Peter also talks about the atonement being linked to healing us when he says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”. 1 

This Easter as you celebrate Christ's death and resurrection remember that when He shed His blood on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead that He not only saved us eternally from our sins, but through the atonement, He has healed us from our spiritual and physical sicknesses if we seek Him as our healer. 

So this month as you reflect on Christ remember that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."1 Which means that He can heal you of any sin that you need to overcome, or addiction, and He can heal you in your physical sicknesses if He would chose to do so, just like He did in the Gospels. He loves you, and you can come to Him with confidence in His healing power if you seek healing through what Christ did through the atonement. 

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1 1Peter 2:24 ESV 

1 Hebrews 13:8 ESV 

Under God’s Authority

Rules. We all hate them. The times when I struggled with them the most were primarily when I was a teenager. Not only are there rules but there is, beyond that, the authority figures, who make the rules! 

Most of us have stories of when we have not followed the rules that an authority has set before us. I will never forget when I was a senior in High School, and experienced one of these times. My friend and I had just dropped off someone, and as we were driving away from his house, I remembered that the road coming up was a very steep hill with a sharp drop off. Now, this was in a residential neighborhood, and the speed limit was a low speed, and there were warning signs about going too fast because of the sharp drop off. However, in my head, there were visions of glorious airtime, and the Dukes of Hazard theme song played in my head as my comrade and I would soar through the air to new heights! 

Ignoring all the warnings and rules placed by Authority (the Town and the DMV) I sped off excited about my future as" Bo Duke." The car went flying off the drop-off, and we got some significant air -time! But, and this is a BIG BUT, I didn't realize that the incline on that road did not go straight but, rather, turned! Instead of landing on the street, the car dropped from the air to land on the sidewalk, taking out a mailbox and getting a flat tire! 

Many times in our lives we think that the rules and authorities in our lives are there to take all our freedom from us, or that they are out to get us. But as believers in Christ, we need to understand that this is not what God wants from us. God tells us that we are to be under the authorities that He has placed in our lives and by submitting to the rules and authorities over us, we will have more freedom than if we were to disobey the authorities ordained by God. 

Think about this for one minute. There I was, a senior in High School getting ready to graduate with my whole life ahead of me. What if when I flew over that hill a parent had been walking with their newborn child, and I hit them and killed them. Instead of the freedom of conquering the mountain, I would have experienced a lifetime of guilt, jail, no marriage, no children, and the list goes on. 

A lot of people - even Christians, see God's Word as a book of rules. But God at creation gave Adam "a one-rule world." They had many things they could do, like multiply, name the animals, AND they got to spend time with GOD, in PERSON, and He had provided such that they lacked NOTHING!!! He gave them all the trees to eat from in the garden as well. Except for one. And that was the ONE rule: to not eat of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." 

Then you get Satan into the picture tempting Eve to eat the fruit by telling her that they would be like God. She did, and it was man's first rebellion against God. They thought they could be free from God's authority in their life and instead of that freedom they received pain and death. 

God's Word is not a book of rules so let’s not view it that way, but view it as a book of God setting us free from the law of sin and death through Jesus. It should also give us a mindset of obedience to God to place ourselves under the authorities that God has put in our lives - our parents, bosses, law enforcement, or anyone else that could be over us - because God has commanded us to abide in His word! When we do this we "will know the truth, and the truth will set us free."

A Family Ministry

Promiseland, Faithweavers, and Circle Drive Students are ministries to the family. Sometimes they are perceived as a "glorified babysitting service," where it is a time to drop children off so that parents can have a break. Some may volunteer in these ministries with the same mindset. 

That mindset is not what we desire out of our children's ministry, nor is it what God wants! We long to see our next Generation come to know Jesus as their Savior, to grow in their walk with God, and to see them become contagious in their faith! 

We are here as a resource to share the Gospel and to provide God's Word into their lives during these programs. However, these ministries are in place to equip the parents in training their children to grow in their walk with God. 

Parents I want to remind you of the big job that we have to raise our children so that they love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind, Matthew 22:37, and to encourage you to do this by spending time with your children and talking to them about God. 

Here are some ideas to help you. In Promiseland we provide activity pages that show you what we have talked about, the key verses for the story, discussion questions, family activities, and a memory verse. Seek time each day with them to ask them the discussion questions, read the story to them again from the Bible, help them memorize the verses, and explain to them the meaning of it. Ask the teachers and leaders what your children have learned in Faithweavers. They would be happy to share that with you so that you can continue the conversation with your child. Seek engagement with your child, ask them genuine questions, have them paint, draw a picture, or act out the story, whatever makes them tick and helps them retain what they have learned. 

For your teenagers, ask them questions based on what we talked about in youth group, if they had any small group questions, or how they plan to apply what we talked about to their life. Email, text, or Facebook message me if you would like to know what we talked about or a copy of the small group questions. Pray with them over meals and talk to them about God over the dinner table. 

I want you to know that I write this to you as a parent and not perfect when it comes to this by any stretch of the imagination. I try but sometimes get "too busy," "tired," or "home too late" to do this with my children. Teaching them every day is something I fail at occasionally but will always continue striving to achieve because I know it is critical for me to take the time to engage my children and to raise them up for the Lord. 

God has given us that job as parents! Let me encourage you not to give up if you miss a day, but instead seek the Lord for His help in this area and talk to your children about God the next day.