2013 Senior High Retreat Studies
We had a great time at this year’s Senior High winter retreat as Don McClure joined us for all five studies. The studies are now available for download!
We are leaving for our Winter Retreat tomorrow. For all those who will not be coming with us this year I would ask that you please be a part of what is happening by praying. Please read through Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 and pray along those lines for all the youth and staff that will be present.
Here are some great questions from Kevin DeYoung:
What shall we call the unborn in the womb?
If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life?
If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being?
Isn’t it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?
So when does a human being have a right to life?
Shall we say size matters?
Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection?
Are big people more valuable than little people?
Are men more human than woman?
Do offensive linemen have more rights than jockeys?
Is the life in the womb of no account because you can’t hold him in our arms, or put him in your hands, or only see her on a screen?
Shall we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth?
Are three year-old children less valuable than thirteen year-olds?
Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware?
Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day?
If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall we do with the comatose, the very old, or the fifty year-old mom with Alzheimer’s?
And what about all of us who sleep?
Shall we deny the unborn child’s right to life because of where he lives?
Can environment give us value or take it away?
Are we worth less inside than outside?
Can we be justly killed when we swim under water?
Does where we are determine who we are?
Does the eight inch journey down the birth canal make us human?
Does this change of scenery turn “its” into persons?
Is love a condition of location?
Shall we reserve human dignity only for those humans who are not dependent on others?
Do we deserve to live only when we can live on our own?
Is the four-month old fetus less than human because she needs her mom for life?
Is the four-month old infant less than human when she still needs her mom for life?
What if you depend on dialysis or insulin or a breathing apparatus?
Is value a product of fully-functioning vitality?
Is independence a prerequisite for human identity?
Are we worth only what we can think, accomplish, and do on our own?
If the unborn life is human life, what can justify snuffing it out?
Would it be right to take the life of your child on his first birthday because he came to you through sad and tragic circumstances?
Would you push an 18 month old into traffic because she makes our life difficult?
Does a three year-old deserve to die because we think we deserve a choice?
What do you deserve now?
What are your rights as a human person?
Did you have those same rights five years ago?
What about before you could drive?
Or when you used training wheels?
Were you less than fully human when you played in the sandbox?
When you wore a bib?
When you nursed at your mother’s breast?
When your dad cut your cord?
When you tumbled in that watery mess and kicked against that funny wall?
When your heart pounded on the monitor for the first time?
When you grew your first fingernails?
When you grew your first cells?
What shall we call the child in the womb?
A wedge issue?
What if science and Scripture and commonsense would have us call it a person?
What if the unborn child, the messy infant, the wobbly toddler, the rambunctious teenager, the college freshman, the blushing bride, the first-time mother, the working woman, the proud grammy, and the demented old friend differ not in kind but only in degree?
Where in the progression does our humanity begin and end?
Where does life become valuable?
When are we worth something?
When do human rights become our rights?
What if Dr. Seuss was right and a person’s a person no matter how small?
Why celebrate the right to kill what you once were?
Why deny the rights of the little one who is what you are?
Here is a quick little thought from Samuel Rutherford to help you set your mind on things above. Enjoy!
Our fair morning is at hand, the daystar is near rising, and we are not many miles from home; what matters the ill entertainment in the smoky inns of this miserable life? We are not here to stay, and we will be dearly welcome to Him whom we go to.
When we shall come home and enter to the possession of our Brother’s fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings; then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory; and that our little inch of time suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to heaven.
Found this article by Kevin DeYoung and thought it very important. Being a pastor, I couldn’t help but agree, and I know that all of the pastors at ccphilly would gladly accept more prayer in this regard!
Your pastors and elders need your help to live out the calling of Acts 6:4: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Because everything seems more important and seems more urgent than being in the word and prayer. Everything.
What happens if all the lights are burnt out and the heat doesn’t work and the pews are upside down and the sound is off? People will notice. People will say something. People will be upset.
But what if your elders didn’t pray more than five minutes at their meeting last month? Would you know? No on would, not right away. What if your pastor hasn’t prayed for weeks? What if the elders are not deep into the word? With almost everything else in the church someone will says, “What’s going on? Why didn’t you show up? What’s the problem? Why didn’t this get done?” But who knows when the pastors and the elders forget Acts 6:4?
Most pastors won’t tell you this, but they can preach a passable sermon with almost no preparation. We know how to string sentences together. We know more about the Bible than almost everyone in the church. We can cheat our prep time and no one will know. Not right away.
But over time, church members will think to themselves, “Something’s missing. There’ some power not here that used to be here. There’s some gospel connecting no longer at play. I can’t put my finger on it, but pastor doesn’t preach like he used to.” It happens slowly but surely. Maybe the emails seem more pressing this week, or maybe it’s a meeting, or this administrative thing. It’s not one massive thing, but a mountain of molehills. And then one day, Acts 6:4 is gone. The elders don’t pray. The pastors don’t study.
We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.
Here is a great thought from Tozer on the place of science in this world:
The Knowledge of the Holy
We are today suffering from a secularized mentality. Where the sacred writers saw God, we see the laws of nature. Their world was fully populated; ours is all but empty. Their world was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God.
And what are these laws of nature that have displaced God in the minds of millions? Law has two meanings. One is an external rule enforced by authority, such as the common rule against robbery and assault. The word is also used to denote the uniform way things act in the universe, but this second use of the word is erroneous. What we see in nature is simply the paths God’s power and wisdom take through creation. Properly these are phenomena, not laws, but we call them laws by analogy with the arbitrary laws of society.
Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a “law.” The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Upon it the scientist rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts.
Religion, on the other hand, goes back of nature to God. It is concerned not with the footprints of God along the paths of creation, but with the One who treads those paths. Religion is interested primarily in the One who is the source of all things, the master of every phenomenon.
Lord, it belongs not to my care
whether I die or live;
to love and serve thee is my share,
and this Thy grace must give.
If life be long, O make me glad
the longer to obey;
if short, no laborer is sad
to end his toilsome day.
Christ leads me through no darker rooms
than He went through before;
he that unto God’s kingdom comes
must enter by this door.
Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
Thy blessèd face to see:
for if Thy work on earth be sweet,
what will Thy glory be!
Then I shall end my sad complaints
and weary sinful days,
and join with the triumphant saints
that sing my Savior’s praise.
My knowledge of that life is small,
the eye of faith is dim;
but ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
and I shall be with Him.
Here is a great insight from Jonathan Edwards on how God can work even in our personal struggles.
I find this day seven abominations in my heart:
1) Inclinings to unbelief
2) Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ has manifested
3) A leaning to the works of the law
4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer
5) To forget to watch for what I pray for
6) Apt to murmur because I have no more and yet ready to abuse what I have
7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves–“When I would do good, evil is present with me.”
These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God does order them for my good.
1) They make me abhor myself
2) They keep me from trusting my heart
3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness
4) They show me the necessity of fleeing to Jesus
5) They press me to pray to God
6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober
7) And provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world. Amen.
Here is a little thought on faith from Charles Spurgeon to carry with you into your Christmas breaks. Hope it may encourage some of you.
Friends, if you have begun to trust the Lord, trust Him out and out. Let your faith be the most real and practical thing in your life. Don’t trust the Lord in mere sentiment about a few great spiritual things; trust Him for everything, for ever, both for time and eternity, for body and for soul. See how the Lord hangs the world upon nothing but His own Word! It has neither prop nor pillar. The great arch of heaven stands without a buttress or a wooden center. The Lord can and will bear all the strain that faith can ever put on Him. The greatest troubles are easy to His power, and the darkest mysteries are clear to His wisdom. Trust God up to the hilt. Lean, and lean hard; yes, lean all your weight and every other weight upon the Mighty God of Jacob.
The future you can safely leave with the Lord, who ever lives and never changes. The past is now in your Savior’s hand, and you shall never be condemned for it, whatever it may have been, for the Lord has cast your iniquities into the midst of the sea. Believe at this moment in your present privileges. You are saved! If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you have passed from death unto life, and you are saved.
Here is a great post by Kevin DeYoung; I think this is something we have all wrestled though:
Many Christians misunderstand the nature of hypocrisy. It’s common to think of hypocrisy as the gap between your actions and your feelings. So if I do something without having my “heart” in it then I’m a hypocrite. Evangelicals are especially sensitive to this charge because we believe (quite rightly) that Christianity is more than “just going through the motions.” We know that having a personal relationship with Christ is crucial. We believe faith must be sincere.
And yet, we can easily misappropriate our good instincts. Some Christians wonder if they should still go to church if they don’t feel like it. They wonder if it’s right to sing the praise songs if they aren’t feeling worshipful that morning. They hesitate to give generously because “God loves a cheerful giver” and, well, giving doesn’t make them very happy. They aren’t sure they should repent of their sins or work to forgive their offender unless they feel really sorry and feel like forgiving. Many Christians fear that doing the right thing without the right feelings makes them hypocrites.
But is this really hypocrisy? Another word to describe this behavior might be “maturity.” Children only do what they feel like doing. Adults learn to do things they are supposed to do though they may not always be excited about it. Of course, as Christians we want to grow so that we feel good about what is good. But the Christian life is full of instances where the doing and the feeling do not exactly match—sometimes with feelings ahead of obedience and sometimes with obedience ahead of our feelings.
Hypocrisy is not the gap between doing and feeling; it’s the gap between public persona and private character. Hypocrisy is the failure to practice what you preach (Matt. 23:3). Appearing outwardly righteous to others, while actually being full of uncleanness and self-indulgence—that’s the definition of hypocrisy (Matt. 23:25-28).
The hypocrite is not the Christian who struggles against sin, fights against temptation, and keeps doing what is right even on his worst feeling days. That’s a hero. The hypocrite is the Christian who uses the veneer of public virtue to cover the rot of private vice. He’s the man living a double life, the woman fooling her friends because she has church clothes, the student who proudly answers the questions in Sunday school and just as proudly romps through immorality the rest of the week.
The sin of hypocrisy is not that we are more messed up than we seem. That’s true for all of us. The sin is in using the appearance of goodness to cloak the deeds of evil. The sin is in thinking that who others think you are matters a great deal more than whom God knows you to be.