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I.D.X. Student Ministry

REBUILD • RESTORE • RENEW

Why Do Trips?

It was not until I was entering my junior year of high school that I attended a youth retreat where I was the only member of my family participating. This was a huge deal. Not only am I the youngest with three older siblings who had served as chaperones in the past, but I am also a twin. Before I went on this retreat, we had never spent more than eighteen hours away from one another. Being on my own for five whole days with only my friends and my youth leaders created a margin for God – a blank canvas and an empty stage – and God did big things in my life through that trip.

Away from my family who knew me best, I felt more freedom than ever to ask questions, hold certain opinions, and vocalize both without wondering if I would be reprimanded by my parents or siblings.

I was able to bond with friends over late night conversations, crazy games, and giving practical help to those we had gone to serve.

On that trip I decided that I wanted to be a small group leader someday. God gave me the grace to be humble enough to see that life was not about me. His kingdom was a much bigger deal than I had ever realized and I desperately wanted to be a part of bringing Him glory in tangible ways.

In short, God grabbed my heart and, for one of the first times in my life, I was convicted that He was never going to let me go.

I would love to say that my life was easy and full of exuberant passion from that point on because of the trip but that would be a lie. What the trip gave me was this:

  1. A place that let me work out my messiness by asking honest questions and wrestling with the answers, or lack thereof.
  2. A group of friends who fought (and still do) through the messiness with me.
  3. The start of a life-long calling to create a place for teenagers to feel loved just as they are; a place that fosters relationships between those teenagers and their small group leaders that encourage the students to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  4. A relationship with God that showed me steadfast truth and light in times of darkness.

At IDX, we take trips so we can cultivate the kind of togetherness that, unfortunately, our culture opposes at every turn, because we believe that heart growth only happens in community. We take trips to shine light into each other’s darkness, because we believe that we are both recipients and stewards of Jesus’ everlasting light.

We would be thrilled for your students to come and experience that with us.

Click here to go and learn about our various trips throughout the year.

 

For His Kingdom,

Becca

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Check out this article on Teaching Responsibility & Giving Freedom

I read a lot of blogs and articles on raising children into their pre-teen and teenage years. One of the most common themes that gets discussed is how to teach responsibility and give freedom at the same time.

There are some articles I agree with and others I don’t, but the one below I believe rides the tension of responsibility and freedom very well. A friend and mom of two (one in college and one in high school) sent it my way, and I wanted to share it with you!

Set Your Kids Free: 10 Things They Need to Be Able to Do on Their Own by Middle School | ElisabethStitt.com

There are really good thoughts and practical teachings in here. Some of which I know our IDX families are already doing, and other things (like learning how to handle money) that I think could be helpful!

Enjoy, and see you Sunday!

Becca

Jr. High, Becca – Walking Dead, Faith & Works

This post is based off Becca’s talking notes that she used to teach the Jr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 28, 2014

So, what was the curse? They had stolen gold, and because of it, they went numb…to everything. They couldn’t feel, they couldn’t taste, they couldn’t be full, they weren’t human…they were just corpses…dead men walking…zombies.

According to James, we can be just like the pirates.

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

James 2:14-17, The Message

 He says, that even if we call ourselves Christians. If we say we believe all the right things, unless it is coming out in our lives, we might as well be zombies walking around.

What good is it?

What good is it to say, I believe that gossiping is a sin…but to start off a story with, “I don’t think this is gossip, but…did you see what she wore yesterday?”

What good is it to say, I believe that all people are sinners, but that dude over there screwed up REALLY bad.

What good is it to say, that we believe we are loved more than we could ever imagine, by a God who looked at us, pointed and said, “You are mine. I have chosen you, I have a plan for you, I have things you need to do.” If in the next moment we cut ourselves down and call ourselves stupid, or useless, or worthless.

What we saw in the Batman clip last week, and the Pirates clip this week, and more importantly what James is saying in this scripture, is that our faith, our beliefs, don’t mean much to the world unless they are propelling us to something bigger.

A story that is bigger.

A purpose that is bigger than us.

Where is Jesus in it?

Sr. High, Becca – On To the Close Lord, Abide with me.

This post is based off Becca’s talking notes that she used to teach the Sr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 14, 2014

Big Idea: God does not tempt us, but He does test us.

He doesn’t do it so that He knows where we stand with Him, but so that we know where we stand. Following God does not mean that temptation is never around; it just means we have the power and strength from Him to knock it down.

We Knock it down by:

  1. Looking at the source – our desires to fill ourselves rather than trust God with it.
  2. Looking at where it leads – Desire Sin Death
  3. Look Up – Jesus’s life and death and sacrifice to take away our sins, acted as a re-birth for us. Because of Jesus, we are presented/seen/and loved as firstfruits to God.

Scripture: James 1:13-18, 22-25

We’ve been walking through the book of James and attempting to figure out how do we do this Christian life thing. If you call yourself a Christian, inevitably you have a moment where you feel like you have failed at being a Christian. You make a bad decision, you make a wrong turn on your life path, and you just don’t feel like all the prayer, all the church-time, all the believing has done any good, because you still mess up. If you are still trying to figure out if you want to be called a Christian and if you have lots of questions, and are still testing the waters, than more than likely one of the questions you have asked yourself is “How can I ever be a Christian when I struggle with (fill in the blank).” Or Christian or not, you ask the question, “How could God ever love me, if I do (fill in the blank).” Or “If I keep doing something.” Whether it be sex, drugs, hurting yourself, porn, hurting someone else, whatever it is that you know in the deep part of you is not right…why do you keep doing it?

I was going through some old journals not too long ago and these 3 questions popped up:

Why do I suck at life?

Why do I suck at living the way a Christian is supposed to?

Why do I keep messing up?

Last week, Alex talked about how we all have this desire to be perfect, to find complete joy. And we walked through James telling us it would be hard, but that those who walk through trials and preserve through them are blessed. Very true stuff, but next thing that James jumps up into is what about the times when you don’t persevere. What about the times that your faith, your life gets lured and dragged to a place you never meant for it to.

I want to show you a great clip, from a fantastic movie that is full of theological, heady material. I hope you guys like it…Finding Nemo – Angler Fish scene

Read with me, James 1:13-15.

A Temptation is : When an option is presented to your mind that you know deep down is a bad idea, maybe an immoral idea, but in a particular moment it feels so right. Temptations pop up in normal day stuff:

  1. Daily stress builds up and the voice in your head tells you to escape it all by drinking or looking at porn.
  2. Intense desire to be accepted and liked by a certain group encourages you to compromise your moral values.
  3. Profound loneliness leads you to obsess about your body, in the hopes that someone
  4. Hurt feelings make lashing out at someone feel completely, 100% justified.

How does it happen? – Beach trip – “Stay in sight!”

Not like a crashing wave…but a pull of an under-tow. You have no idea how far you’ve gone, until you look up and see you are wayyyyy further down than you thought.

Like a fishing lure, we get so focused on the bright, shiny, thing that we are pretty sure is going to fill us in this moment, and we get so transfixed by it, that we take our eyes off of God and choose this other thing instead.

I suck at life, because I fall to temptation.

How do you beat it?

Look at the mirror. Look at yourself. We talked the first night about how the book of James is all about needing to know our Identity so we can know our Activity. And crazy thing is…it works both ways. By looking at your Activity, you’ll be able to know where you find your Identity. Guys, if I can teach you anything about how to be an awesome person who builds an awesome world and impacts God’s kingdom in awesome ways…it’s this. Know yourself. Know why it is that you look at that website. Know why you take that drink. Know why you take picture and share it. Know why you do what you do.

1. Look at the Source: You.

We don’t trust God. But He wants us too. So, He makes every chance an opportunity to know Him.

God does not tempt us to sin. He is without/against/can not look at sin. He knows where it leads and would never walk His children down that path.

God does test us, but not so He will know where we are on the sanctification scale, but so that we will know. He doesn’t test us to see how strong we are, he tests us so we how strong we are. So that we know how and when and where to run to Him.

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t…He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”

― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

He wants us to know how far we’ve gone, so we can know the way back to Him.

2. Look at the sin, and see where it leads.

Hard, I know. In the midst of looking at the lure, it will take every power within you to take your eyes off of it, and instead to look past it and see where that decision, that lure, that temptation will take you. To see what the road potentially could look like at the end. But that is the fight. That is what James is talking about in vs. 15, he tells us what the path looks like as we look at the temptation. It starts out as desire, which gives birth to sin (because we acted on the desire and let something else fill our God-shaped hole), and then sin gave birth to death.

Strong words.

You have to be aware and you have to take action. You have to stand up and starting walking against the tow, back to shore, then back to where you are supposed to be. The same is true of temptations…you have to admit where you are, before you can ever stand up and walk back to God.

3. Look Up

James 1:18 – God chose to give us birth through the word of truth, His son, Jesus Christ, so that we could be looked on as His First Fruits. As perfect. As the best.

Questions:

  1. Any thoughts, comments, questions from Becca’s talk?
  2. What kind of temptations are you good at resisting?
  3. What kind of temptation are you NOT good at resisting? (Remember, everyone’s is different and tailored made for them. There is no judgment!)
  4. What acts as “lures” for you? What do you desire in order to feel good/complete/whole?
  5. What emotions do you experience after you deny a temptation?
  6. What emotions do you experience after you fail at denying a temptation?
  7. What, right now is your biggest temptation, and how can your group pray for it?

Jr. & Sr. High, Alex – Joy in Pain

This blog is based off Alex’s talking notes that he used to teach the Jr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 21, 2014. He covered the same questions with the Sr. High students on the evening of Sept. 28, 2014.

He showed this Batman Clip and discussed its relevance to James.

Questions:

  1. What are some examples of temptations? [Read James 1:19-27]
  2. What are some of the temptations James mentions? [v.19, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
  3. What does James exhort his leaders to be? [v.22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”]
  4. What does he compare a “hearer but not a doer” to? [v.23, “he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”]
  5. What sort of things would make a person’s religion worthless? [v.26, “does not bridle his tongue”]
  6. What does James say are the things that make for a pure religion? [v.27, “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.”]

Jr. High, Becca – Joy in Suffering

This post is based off Becca’s talking notes that she used to teach the Jr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 14, 2014

Have you experienced physical or emotional pain? How do you deal with that pain?

There are two people who find joy in pain: 1. crazy people, and 2. people who know that that something good comes with the trial they’re going through.

Jesus says to stand strong when the pain comes, so why do we want to endure the pain? What are we looking forward to?

Locked in our trial is potential. Overcoming trials gives you endurance, maturity, and the ability to change you into something better. Pain has the potential to teach us so much, and this is evident when we admire people who go through difficult challenges and come out better people on the other end.

Pain never feels good at the time, but God wants to use it to turn us into better people. Pain is something we all have to go through; it’s something common to every life, so it helps us understand and sympathize (and sometimes empathize) with others. Pain teaches that God has bigger things planned for us, ultimately becoming more like him, and that only He can sooth and heal the pain, and give us the “crown of life.”

As babies, we laugh when our parents play with us, and we love their hugs and snuggles; we feel joy, comfort and peace. But when they leave the room, we cry like it’s the end of the world, because we think they’ve left us for good and they’re never coming back. As we get older, we begin to understand object permanence, which means that even if we can’t see or feel something with our senses, we know it’s still there.

Isn’t our relationship with Jesus like this? We feel like he isn’t there because we can’t see him or feel his presence, but just because we can’t see him or feel him with our senses doesn’t mean he isn’t still right there with us. He never really leaves us alone to suffer through life, even though it might feel like he does.

If you commit a crime and your sentence is for two years, you know your debt has been paid when the prison door opens after you’ve served your two years. So, how do we know that Jesus paid our debt? Because he was put to death, buried, and then the doors swung open, and he paid your dept of sin. And he will comfort us:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

~ Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

We know that the world isn’t as it should be, and it’s right for us to rage against the pain and the darkness. But God is so good, he doesn’t leave us to handle it alone. He took our pain and used death to become our rescuer. He takes our pain and makes it glorious.

Sr. High, Alex – What makes a man blessed?

This post is based off Alex’s talking notes that he used to teach the Sr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 14, 2014

His lesson was centered around the students focusing on these two questions:

  1. What would make your life complete?
  2. If you could have God bless you with anything, what would it be?

From there they looked at James 1:2-12 and wrestled with it together with these questions in mind. What does it mean to James to be perfect and complete? According to James, what makes a man blessed? And then he asked, why are these answers so different than ours?

Jr. High, Alex – Father of Lights & First Fruits

This blog is based off Alex’s talking notes that he used to teach the Jr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 7, 2014

After chatting with the kids about the highlights of their weeks, Alex started off his teaching by showing a clip from “Superman Returns” (2006).

Then he talked about a quote from the clip, in the words of Jor-El, Superman’s father:

“They can be a great people Ka-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason, above all else, their capacity for good, I have sent them you—my only son.”

The story of Superman has a lot of Christ symbolism in it, especially highlighted in this quote, not to mention the “El” part of his name, which means “God” in Hebrew. He asked them these questions:

  1. What did you notice in the Superman clip?
  2. What does the narrator call Superman? (Ka-El, his birth name) Explain the significance of the name.
  3. What does the narrator say the people need to be good? (A light to show the way)
  4. Who was that light? (Superman)
  5. What is a first fruit?
  6. What would it mean to be God’s first fruits?

Then Alex showed them this verse from James:

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”

James 1:17-18, ESV

And asked them these questions:

  1. How does James describe God? (the Father of lights)
  2. Who is James referring to when he writes “Of his own will, he brought us forth by the word of truth.” Who is the “us?”
  3. Why does James say God brought us forth? (“that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures”).
  4. What’s a first fruit? (First fruits: the first agricultural produce of a season, especially when given as an offering to God.)
  5. What would it mean to be the first fruits of God’s creatures?

Alex explained that a first fruit is a farming term, meaning the first of the farmer’s crops. He shared an anecdote from when he was in Guatemala. A friend showed him the first ear of corn from his field, and remarked “Que lindo!” “How handsome!” That’s how God sees us: beautiful, handsome and precious, a worthwhile result after a long time of caring, protection and waiting.

Sr. High, Becca – Skeptic to Servant (Identity affects Activity)

Big Idea and Small Group Questions, IDX 9/7/2014

To read the Teaching, click here or scroll down

Big IDEA: Your IDENTITY affects Your ACTIVITY – We can only make decisions, we can only do things when we know what we are supposed to be doing. But we can only know what we are supposed to be doing if we know our title, our place, our rank, our identity. James has the ultimate Identity Shift story. He went from SKEPTIC to SERVANT. There is 1 big reason for the shift that we see Biblically…he had a confrontation with Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3-7). We don’t know the details,  just that it happened.

James started off thinking his brother was crazy, he mocked him, and made fun of him. And somehow, Paul refers to him later as a pillar of the church. Peter makes sure to send word to James that he is out of prison. And James carries most of the credit for making it easier for Jews and Gentiles to come together under the servanthood of Christ.

Once a skeptic…sees Jesus post-resurrection…becomes a pillar of the church.

Challenge: Have a confrontation with God this year. See the resurrection as something that defines who you are.

Recap: James, brother of Jesus, was a skeptic at best…who became a servant of Christ.

James 1:1 – “James, servant of God, and servant of Lord Jesus Christ.” Servant? Of Jesus Christ?

From Skeptic to Servant.

– How? – Jesus came to him specifically after his rose from the dead.
– Why? – When we confront the truth of the resurrection…we can not stay the same.
– For real? – Roman historian Josephus, documented James’ death for being a servant of Christ’s. It is written in history…it’s real.

 Small Group Questions:

  • Any questions, quotes, or critiques from Becca’s talk?
  • Recap: What happened that caused James to go from skeptic to slave of Christ?
  • What do you think it means to be a servant of Christ?
  • Becca challenged us to have a “confrontation” with God. What do you think that means? Have you had one? Is it something you are willing to do this year?
  • James went from skeptic to servant. We don’t have all the details of what he questioned, but we do have his identity before and after Christ’s resurrection. If there was a scale of skeptic to servant…where do you think you would fall?  We’re only asking because in order to know where you are going, you need to know your identity and where you currently stand with God. No shame where you are, just own it as yours!
  • Your Identity affects Your Activity.  You can’t accept the commands, unless you know your commander. You can’t play your part until you know what your part is. You can’t do all the good things you think Christians are supposed to do until you truly, heart-wrenchingly and desperately grasp onto your identity as a Christian, because your identity moves you to activity. Without fully grasping whose you are, you’ll never feel confident just being who you are.

Teaching

This blog is based off Becca’s talking notes that she used to teach the Sr. High students at IDX, the evening of Sept. 7, 2014

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to [Peter], and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, NIV

Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t sure what to do, or how to be, or what to ask?  Did you ever stop and think that maybe you didn’t know what to do, because you didn’t know what your title was? No one had told you. No one had showed you.

You had no idea how or what to do, because you had no idea who you were supposed to be.

Your lack of identity caused a lack of activity.

That makes sense, right? We can only make decisions; we can only do things when we know what we are supposed to be doing. But we can only know what we are supposed to be doing if we know our title, our place, our rank, our identity.

 So here’s the nugget for the night…

Your Identity affects Your Activity

 

Now, the reason we are studying James is because his story is one of the greatest Identity shifts of all time.

We get our first introduction to James, as one of Jesus’ unnamed brothers, in Mark 3:20-21. According to the passage, does James believe Jesus is Jesus Christ?  No. He and the rest of the family think he’s gone crazy. Jesus was huddled in this house with all these people surrounding him, and his family was like, “Oh gosh, he’s done it again. Sorry guys, he gets a little weird sometimes.” James thought Jesus was crazy!

Now, for just a second, sit in that. Yes, Jesus is Jesus, but remember too that he was just as much a guy as he was God. He had a family, and obviously, it was one that didn’t understand him well. Because in the midst of him teaching, they didn’t show up to support him, or to learn from him, they showed up to “collect” him, because they thought he was out of his mind.

Been there? One of the biggest reasons I can read this book and not throw it down in disgust and frustration when it doesn’t make sense, is because of stories like that…when I realize that Jesus’ life, wasn’t all that different from mine. He had a familythat didn’t know him, didn’t support him, and thought he was crazy. Jesus was the black-sheep of the family…can you imagine that?  You can’t ever say that Jesus doesn’t get it, that he doesn’t get you…he’s done it all already.

So James doesn’t believe Jesus is Jesus.

The next time we see James is in John 7:1-5. So what happened? All the sudden James and the family sound like the are supportive of Jesus and his ministry. They seem to be pushing Him out, right? “Jesus, dude, if you want to be really successful at this you got to put yourself out there. Go to the BIG cities, find the big crowds! We could even book your tour dates, we’ll call all the temples and set it up, Jesus, because no one does the things you do in secret. You’re ‘healing’ people, you’re ‘helping’ people, you should be on the big stage Jesus!”

Sounds good right? Not when you read the next verse, 5. They were mocking him. Jesus’ family was mocking him. Making fun of him.

So, first James gets embarrassed by his brother in town and goes to collect him because he thinks he is going crazy. And now, James is out right mocking, and making fun of his brother Jesus. I’ll say it again, if your home life isn’t great…know that Jesus has been there too.

James, brother of Jesus, was a skeptic at best.

But then we read this… James 1:1 – “James, servant of God, and servant of Lord Jesus Christ.”

Servant? Of Jesus Christ? That’s what it says. “James…servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Is that a big statement? That’s how he identifies himself. A servant.

A servant of God, but all Jews said that. It was like their thing, their catchphrase. Very cool, but nothing special. But a servant of Jesus? Now, that is something very different.

James went from Skeptic…to Servant.

How? Why? For real?

 How? Jesus came to see him, it says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.

 Why? When we are confronted by the resurrection, we can’t stay the same. When we really see the resurrection, when we allow it to confront us and force us to look at our pitiful little, short lives in light of it, it SHOULD  be something that stumps us.

IT SHOULD be something that makes us question. IT SHOULD be something that pushes us, confounds us, and makes us think it’s all a big pot of crazy.

It’s supposed to be UNCOMFORTABLE, because if it was as easy as reading a kids book, we’d have gotten over it by now.

It’s supposed to make you think it’s not real, so that when you actually let it get in front of your face and you actually spend time looking at it, you’ll be ready to see and hear and know that God is looking right back at you.

The Gospel is life-changing, it is Identity changing, yes. But even more than that, it is life-giving, it is identity-giving. How do you know what to do, where to go, what decision to make, how to respond, how to act, if you don’t know who you are and what your role is supposed to be? You can’t play your part until you know what your part is.

For real? How do we know it happened? How do we know James wasn’t just like, “Ok I’ll swtich teams.” How do we know this was a RADICAL Idenity-shift for him?

Historian Josephus documented James’ death in 1st century AD. James willingly died for his belief that Jesus was Jesus Christ. He kept saying to the leaders at the time that Jesus was “seated on high.” So for that, they took him to the top of the temple and pushed him off. And then when he landed on the ground, people stoned his almost dead body, until they were sure he was dead.

James the skeptic, became James the servant, and willingly died for his belief that Jesus was Jesus Christ the Messiah.  James, the same man who though his brother was insane, became a leader in the Church who couldn’t stop saying, “ My brother is God’s salvation plan for the world.” A skeptic turned servant.

James wasn’t confronted with an experience of Jesus, but an actual Jesus. He wasn’t given a feeling of peace, he saw for fact, that Jesus stood in front of him, holes in the wrist and side.

Christianity is not built on feelings, emotions, and things that are subjective. They show up, those things are a part of my relationship with Jesus, but my faith can’t survive on it. If your faith relies on how you feel about Jesus, what happens when you can’t hear him?  What happens when He feels distant? If our faith is built on emotions and feelings only, then when those change, He changes with them. And guys, that’s not a God, that’s just an invisible friend. But when Christianity is built on objective facts that this guy died and then he came back to life, and there were over 500 people who witnessed it and didn’t do a thing to dispute it, then it becomes something to IDENTIFY with.

Guys, in order to know our Identity, we MUST be willing to wrestle with this, with our doubts. I want to challenge you this year to have a confrontation with a real God. Don’t just hope for feelings, don’t just wish that something meaningful will pierce your heart and cover your doubts, but have a confrontation with a risen Jesus Christ.

The Bible doesn’t say anything about how you are supposed to feel once you believe in Christ. All it says is that this guy died for you because He had to. There was no other way for you to exist and have a life of purpose and know love without His death. Jesus died, for you, and came back to life, and we as Christians need to deal with that.

What do I mean by “deal?” We need to wrestle with it until we feel like we can understand it. We need to accept it as fact, not just a good story. We need to see it as belief and not an opinion. We need to let it settle for us this discussion of our Identity, so that we can get to the part where we figure out our Activity.

Have a confrontation with a real God this year. Don’t let your apathy rule your life, don’t let your identity be so caught up in your sports team or your friends. Because at the end of the year, your teams end, and we all can name a friend we had last year, but don’t talk to this year. Don’t let your self-proclaimed laziness keep you from discovering your purpose this year. Have a real confrontation with God, question Him, wrestle with Him…let this place, our small group leaders here, me, Alex, let us do this with you.

Thing is, we all want Jesus to be true, to be real, to be right. We don’t want a God that fits everybody’s mold. We don’t really want Him to look the way we hope He does, because when life hurts, we need Him to be bigger than we imagine Him to be, and He is. Our dreamed up version of him, it will always fail us. When we hate ourselves, that Jesus we dreamed up, somehow hates us too. We don’t need a Jesus, a savior that we can dream up and make to fit our world, our opinions, our political stance. We want–we need–a real, actual, flesh-and-bone, walked-this-earth, died-and-rose-again-Jesus to take care of the pain, to remind us in the midst of hating ourselves, that He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

We need a Jesus that isn’t made up or talked up…we need a real Jesus, we need The real Jesus Christ.

We are studying James, because after years of him being a skeptic, he became a servant to Jesus Christ…all because of a confrontation. And it changed everything. His Identity as a servant to Christ, moved his activity to him becoming a pillar of the church, a leader who helped to grow the church by teaching the Jews to welcome the Gentiles. James the skeptic, became the servant of Christ who welcomed all of us, Gentiles, into the Kingdom.  His Identity affected and defined his Activity. And this year, our prayer is that your Identity in Christ will do the same.

Becca

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