Warrior, Wimp, or What?!

Psalm 35 has David praying for God to fight his battles for him.  His enemies are constantly plotting for his downfall, and he begs God to save him.  He is lied about, has traps set for him, and is made fun of.  So, he prays for his enemies and begs God to protect and save him.

Okay, maybe you've got some people in your life that treat you this way.  Maybe there is a person, or a group of people, who are making life so difficult for you at home, work, or at school.  They push you out, speak poorly of you, and want to see you fail.  What do you do?

Read Psalm 35.  David turns to God for protection and help.  And he prays for his enemies.

No, I'm being serious, this is what he does.  Now, remember who David is.  This is the guy who killed a bear and a lion when he was just a kid working as a shepherd.  This is the kid who ran face to face with a giant, dropped him with a rock, and cut off his head.  This is the dude who won more battles than any general before him.  This guy is a warrior among warriors.  He knows how to fight, he knows how to kill, and he is always surrounded by a group of men who would happily kill for him. 

So why in the world is he praying for God to protect him instead of doing it himself??!!  Because it's the right way to handle the conflict in this situation.  It's what God wants.

How are you handling your conflict?  Have you asked God about that plan?  Have you read Psalm 35 yet?

Get to it!

His Face and His Hands

Psalm 27 is a song of courage, that God will protect us and deliver us when things are going south in a hurry.  In it, David says that all He wants is to be with God, and to see His face.  I love it in verse 8 when he says "My heart says of You "Seek His face!  Your face, Lord, I will seek."

See, here's some of what's going on.  Often we want to talk to God and ask for things.  He tells us to do it.  He expects us to ask for His help, and He tells us we should come to Him with our needs.  But other times, we need to just be with Him.  Often times it's discussed as "seeking God's face instead of His hands", meaning we talk to God and spend time with God just to be with Him, as opposed to needing something from Him.

What I love is David's simple determination.  In his heart he knows he needs to spend time with God.  So, He does it.  No debate, no excuses, no "I'm not sure how to do that".  He just does it.  He is confident God will receive him, and that he will see God's goodness here, in this life.

When was the last time you felt a push to spend time with God, and ignored it or put it off?  Today, stop and listen to your heart.  Seek God's face right now.  I am sure He will be thrilled to spend the time with you.  I'm headed that way right now.

A Blueprint for the Worst Day Ever

No matter how many times I read Psalm 22, I am just left with my mouth hanging open.  Read it for yourself, and understand that this is the Psalm Jesus refers back to as He is hanging on the cross.  David wrote it about himself, but it was prophecy about Jesus' death too.  Check it out:

Psalms 22:1-31
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him-- may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him-- those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn-- for he has done it.

All of the highlighted sections are mentioned either in the crucifixion story, or in Jesus' teachings and life.  The phrase at the end "for He has done it" is seen in Jesus last words, "It is finished".  I mean, this Psalm is written hundreds of years before Jesus is born, and so much of what if fulfilled in the Psalm is carried out by other people than Jesus.  The soldiers, the crowd, the Pharisees.  It's just amazing.  

And God goes to such great length to help us understand that He is in charge.  The worst day in the history of the world was completely planned out before time began.  We may not understand it, but He proves it for us so we don't have to doubt.  And when our worst day comes, if we are obedient to Him, He will equally carry us through it.  Never forget it! 

The Advent on Facebook

This post is a fake facebook page between Joseph, May, God, and others.  Click on the picture, then click again to enlarge it.  It is really funny, and really makes you think.  It's great.


Some we know of, some we don't. We need help with them all.

In Psalm 19 David is writing about how great God is, and this His creation sings to Him, even though it has no voice or words.  He describes how powerful and beautiful the teachings and truth of God are to people who are willing to listen and do what they hear.  Then, in verses 12-14, he closes with a prayer:

"But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults,
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
May they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
Innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

This is my prayer for me, and for you, today.  Forgive what is hidden in us, give us the strength to say no to the things we face, and strip them of their power to control us.  God, may it be like this for us today.

A psalm of David. A prayer of Jason.

Psalm 15

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy mountain?

Those whose walk is blameless,
who do what is righteous,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have no slander on their tongues,
who do their neighbors no wrong,
who cast no slur on others;
who despise those whose ways are vile
but honor whoever fears the Lord
who keep their oaths even when it hurts;
who lend money to the poor without interest
and do not accept bribes against the innocent.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken."

So Lord, today here is what I ask you:
Help me live a life that people can't fairly accuse me of the wrong things.
Help me to live the life You describe in the Bible.
Help me to tell truth because my heart is filled with truth.
Help me to shut my bitter mouth when I want to put someone else down.
Help me to serve others, not use them.
Help me to speak positively of everyone around me instead of tearing them down to feel better about myself.
Help me to run away from a lifestyle of sin, and never to look at it with envy.
Help me to find the people who fear and love you, and celebrate them in my mind and life.
Help me to make worthy promises that change the world, and keep them when it costs me mine.
Help me to look for and create new ways to be generous every day.
Help me to defend those who are innocent, and never sell them out for a profit.
Because when these things happen, I will be unshakable

Just like You.

Parent Review for Christmas on the Circle: 2010 Edition

Yesterday was our annual trip to downtown Indy for Christmas on the Circle.  This was the eighth time we've done this trip, and it is always a great time!  Here are some highlights:

Ice Skating at Pan Am Plaza - We always have several students who don't know how to skate, and somehow I end up being a skating instructor.  I love helping them figure it out, and it's such a great chance to just hang out with students and talk as we go round and round the rink at .5 miles an hour.  Garrett surprised everyone when we discovered he used to play hockey as a little kid, and he quickly proved to be king of the ice; until the 14 year old figure skater showed up.  She was amazing.  Jacob Gahimer took a fall, and we're praying he's okay.  He hurt his wrist, but was in good spirits the rest of the day.

Circle Center Mall - All the students split into groups and shopped around.  My group went looking for a purple penguin, as Foo needed one for a girl.  So, all seven of us guys hit Claire's first thing.  Meanwhile, we caught Vince and Todd (guy leaders) in the Yankee Candle Store, and Annette in the Lids store.  We're a strange bunch of leaders, no doubt.  My crew spent time and a lot of cash upstairs in the arcade, while everyone else shopped around.  Kyle Weaver cheated and beat me on the Indy 500 game after I lead for the whole race, and he won with one foot to go at the end.  (NO, I am NOT bitter!)  Dinner was fun, as a certain guy student and mom were sitting back to back and grooving at the exact same time, without knowing it. 

Monument Circle - We had snow, again!  So of course, we had snow ball fights, again.  Fortunately this year there were no small children around from other groups, so no one got hurt, just cold and frosty.  It was COLD, but everyone had a great time and we ran for

South Bend Chocolate Company - Great hot chocolate and a chance to get warm.  It's always an even better time to hang out and laugh about a great day.  My crew went in the Bro Closet and found the 2005 Statistical Data book, and quizzed each other on it. (An annual tradition).

When we left, the Colts fiasco let out late, so we all got stuck in CRAZY traffic, which ran us 30 minutes late getting back.  Thank you to all of our patient parents for understanding. 

So, parents, you may wonder why we do this trip.  What is the goal?  We want to accomplish a few things:

1. Relationships - Discipleship happens in relationships.  We want your students to have meaningful relationships with adults who passionately love Jesus.  That takes time.  Our leaders are intentional about spending time with your students on these events to show them love and listen to them.  We also want students to have healthy relationships with other students who love Jesus.  Both are crucial to growth.

2. Memories - We need to put "mile makers" along the road in life to look back on.  As students remember this trip, it cements in a correlation between being loved, having fun, and Christ.  That's crucial.

3. Culture - Downtown Indy is part of our local culture.  We want to provide kids a healthy chance to experience it, as it builds a better understanding of what God is doing, as well as an appreciation for what He has given us.

Thanks for letting us partner with you as you raise your students.  If your kids didn't go this year, I encourage you to sign them up next year and send them.  Let me know if you have any questions!

A Mouthful of Lies

Psalms 10:1-18 (NIV)
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble."
7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims.
9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, "God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees."
12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

I read this Psalm this morning, and I have to wonder, where am I in this Psalm?  I don't consider myself to be one of the wicked in verse 2.  I love Jesus and try to follow Him.  He's my King, the one in charge.  But I read the description of the wicked; boastful, greedy, prosperous.  The wicked take advantage of the fatherless and the oppressed.  They also revile God's laws, and ignore His ways.

So, maybe I'm not wicked in this sense.  But am I a partner with wicked people.  We read so much about how people are treated in other countries, and about how we prosper as Americans from it.  Either through our buying habits and how cheaply we can get things, or through how we treat other countries and their people.  I don't know, this one just makes me wonder.

the Edge in review - December 1, 2010

Tonight has been a great night!  Here's the run down on the evening.

Game Time - Four Team Kickball.  It's chaos with rules.  Two games of kickball overlapping each other, multiple runners on a base, tons of laughter and fun.  The whole point is for students to hang out and spend time together.  It worked great.

Announcements - 
1. Christmas Service Projects - Wednesday, December 15th we are all meeting for youth group at 6:30 and then heading out for a variety of service projects around the town.  If you'd like to go and help drive, we can use some drivers.  Contact us and let us know.

2. Nerf Wars - Christmas Break, Tuesday December 28th

3. Video Game Challenge - Wednesday, December 29th

Minute to Win It - We did a game called Bobble Head where you have to shake a pedometer attached to a hat 125 times in a minute.  Colten Farnsley did it 81 times, and won some Cry Babies candy.  He was excited, and a little woozy.

Memory Verse Challenge - Our sixth grade girls seem to win almost every week.  Alivia Chenoweth, Korrigan Glackman, Madison Adkins, and Kate Frazee all won tonight.  Congrats girls!

Lesson - The Story
Brian Hogan walked the students through a booklet called "The Story".  It's the gospel in a way that is easy to understand.  Your student should have a copy of the book with them tonight.  Ask to see it, and then go through it and discuss it with them.  If they've lost it, you can find a digital copy on www.edgeandbeyond.org on the home page.  Check it out.

All of the students are in small groups right now, which I think is the most important and best part of the night.

We love partnering with each of you in your student's life.  YOU are the most important influence by FAR.  Never doubt it.  Let me know how we can help work better together.

Dodgeball is Life. No, really, check it out....

Yesterday I got to spend some time talking with an amazing young lady from our middle school youth group.  I love whenever we get to spend time talking, because she is so incredibly smart, and asks super intelligent questions.

So, we were talking about Jesus, faith, demons, life, and a bunch of other stuff, and I needed an illustration.  We walked in the gym and began talking about dodgeball.  It always comes back to dodgeball, doesn't it?

Let's say we're playing dodgeball.  One team has a leader who is clearly in charge.  He gives encouragement to his team, shows them the best places to throw, and helps them come back in the game when they get knocked out.  He really wants his team to play as well as they can, and does whatever it takes to make that happen.

The other team has a leader, but they handle it completely differently.  They convince everyone that there isn't really a "leader" on the team, and that everyone can do whatever they want.  They scare everyone on their team about losing, about not being in control, about what will happen if they screw up.  They manipulate people into playing the game in ways that aren't fair, and don't really help them win.  But everyone on the team is convinced there really isn't a team captain, that everyone is just in charge of their own little game.  It's not true, but that's what they all believe.

Who's going to win?  Yeah, it's pretty obvious that the team with the clear cut leader is going to play better, enjoy the game, and win at the end.

This is how life works.  The Bible tells us that in life, we are either for God or against Him. (Matthew 12:30).  So often we think if someone is "against God" they must be this horrible, evil psycho killer.  Not really.  To be against God just means you are not with Him.  That's all.  You are on one team or the other.  To be on God's team means you've decided that He is in charge, He's the team captain, and He gets to call the shots.  He tells us the best places to throw, when to do it, when to run, and when to charge.  The better we get at following His lead, the better our team does, and the more fun the game is.  God's team, we are told, is powered by love.  Not that wimpy "I love you" stuff from movies.  Legit love.  Love that will sacrifice for the team.  Love that will encourage someone when they mess up, not yell at them for a bad throw.  Love that knows it's better to win as a team than to win alone.  Love that wants the Team Captain to win, and will do whatever it can to see that happen.  Love that is patient, kind, forgiving, hopeful, and more (1 Corinthians 13).

To be against God means we have decided we don't want His leadership, we want to be on a team where we call the shots ourselves, and no one tells us what to do.  The Bible usually will call this "the world" when it talks about it.  We want to do things our way, not His.  So we play on the other team.  Just like in dodgeball, there are only two teams.  There is no third team in this game (Team Love, and Team Fear). 

But there's a catch isn't there?  The Bible is pretty clear that this team full of people doing their own thing really does have a leader, he's just crafty enough to make everyone think he's not really running the show.  Satan is the one in charge, pulling the strings, manipulating the game.  He just wants everyone to THINK he's not in charge, but he is.  The Bible is clear about it.  He uses fear to run his team.  He scares everyone into doing what he wants.  Why do you want to be in charge of your own life, your own game?  So that you can make sure no one can hurt you or leave you.  That's fear. So that you can make sure you get everything in life you want.  That's fear.  So that you can be important or liked by others.  That's fear.  Every move this team makes is based on fear.  It always is.

In dodgeball, the only thing separating the two teams is a line on the ground.  No walls or towers, just a line.  Anyone is free to cross from Team Fear to Team Love at any time.  Team Fear's captain will try to scare you into staying (You can't go over there, you're not good enough.  What if they don't want you?  What if you fail?).  But it's just a line.  You can move across at any point, Team Love's Captain actually encourages it.  He wants you to come be a part of the team.  Everyone. (John 3:16).

So, what keeps you from crossing the line?
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