Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

Parent Invite.001

If the whole family is doing the homework together, shouldn’t we do the lessons together on Sunday? I thought so! Parents will be a part of our small group this Sunday, January 25.

I have a little confession:

I loooooooooove my job.  I LOVE discussing scripture and theology, especially with students.  I love learning, and being able to share the things I have learned.  Love.  Love.  Love.


I am finding in our study of Matthew that there is an overwhelming amount of things that I want to explore and discuss!  We could get lost by going deeply into a short passage.  For example, we could spend DAYS pouring over Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” (NIV).  While there are times that going deep into The Word is so necessary, I want to be mindful that student ministry might not always be the time.  (We also need to have time for epic Q-Tip Wars, which we participated in yesterday.)

So, as a result of being mindful of how deeply we dive into the Matthew-waters, I have created two options for you to use as you finish your study of Matthew 5-7.  One is an overview that pulls out the big ideas; the second includes in-depth study notes.

Lesson for January 18 (Overview)          Super-Intense Notes on Matthew 5-7

For those who participated in small group on Sunday (which was a mix of students and parents!), we did not get very far into the lesson before we ran out of time.  (I am STILL disappointed by that!)  I vow that next week (January 25) to find a better balance between a light overview and super-intense lesson.

In the mean time, I pray that–as your family works out the daily devotional lessons together–you grow in your knowledge of scripture and your understanding of your Savior, Jesus.

Bring your questions next Sunday as we work through Matthew 8:1-34.

Homework for Jan 25


holy week

Here we are in Holy Week, the most life-changing events for God’s people.  We have spent seven weeks preparing our hearts for what is about to take place.  Last night Manchester United Methodist Church taught on Matthew 26:1-4, 14-16, which is the plot to kill Jesus:

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”  Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him….14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (NIV)

What a slime-ball, right?!  Judas was in Jesus’ posse, did everything with Him for 3 years, witnessed miracles, heard teaching, knew Jesus to be the Savior King…

…and he betrays Him?  For 30 piece of silver?!  REALLY?!

I can’t believe that’s all it took for Judas to betray Jesus.  It breaks my heart.  It makes me mad.  How could he do that to Jesus?!  How could he?!  I asked this question to the students of CORE Youth Ministry and realized the cold, hard truth:

I am Judas.  And I’m willing to bet you are, too.

You see, this Sunday is in danger of becoming jussanothaday if we don’t see ourselves as sinners in need of saving.  Otherwise, what is there to celebrate?  If we are “good enough,” we don’t need Jesus to break the curse of sin.

But we do need him.  Desperately.  We are just a despicable as Judas.  We betray Jesus with our words and actions.  We rebel against our Heavenly Father with our heart and mind.  We grieve the Holy Spirit with our sin.  We will never be “good enough” on our own.  We.Need.A.Savior.

And our Creator God knew this.  His love for us is so deep–so unfathomably wide–that He implemented the most scandalous rescue mission of all time.

Enter: Jesus.

This Easter, as you reflect on the betrayal of Maundy Thursday (Matthew 26:17-75), the perceived hopelessness of Good Friday (Matthew 27:11-66), and the celebration of Resurrection Sunday (John 20-21). I invite you to fully engage with the events of Holy Week.  Let the realization of your sin remind you of your desperate need of a Savior, and let your desperate need for a Savior make your celebration that much sweeter on Sunday.

He.Is.Victorious!  Oh happy day!

This lesson was based on the Lenten sermon on March 27, 2013 from Senior Pastor Mike Druhl of Manchester United Methodist Church.

Let's Make a Deal

Have you ever seen the game show “Let’s Make a Deal?”  In case you have not, here’s the basic concept:

“The show is based around deals offered to members of the audience by the host. The traders usually have to weigh the possibility of an offer being for a valuable prize, or an undesirable item, referred to as a “Zonk”. Let’s Make a Deal is also known for the various unusual and crazy costumes worn by audience members, who dressed up that way in order to increase their chances of being selected as a trader.”

Thanks Wikipedia!

One thing that I noticed in my extensive research of this gameshow (I love my job!) is that you make a deal, you’re all in.  You have to give up the prize you have in order for a chance to receive the prize you want.  You can’t have both.  There’s an element of #sacrifice.

That reminded me of something I read from Kyle Idleman:  “You won’t be able to follow the path of Jesus without walking away from a different path.” 

This was a major point of CORE‘s discussion last night.  Can you be a Christ-follower (on the “path of Jesus”) without walking away from something else?  If your answer is “no,” then what have you walked away from?

If your answer is “yes,” then take a look at “The Rich Young Man” (Matthew 19:16-22):

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

What we see here is a “fan” of Jesus who appears to be doing everything right.  He’s following the major commandments, he’s eating his vegetables, and keeping his nose clean.  But he was still lacking something: sacrifice.  See, this story isn’t called “The Poor Man,” or even the “Middle Class I-Do-Alright-For-Myself Man.”  It’s called “The Rich Young Man.”  This dude was rollin’ in it.  And the evidence that he loved his wealth was in his response to Jesus’ words: “…he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

Now do not be deceived: This example is NOT about money.  It’s about sacrificing things that are more valuable to you than God.  I don’t pretend that sacrifice is easy.  It’s painful.  It takes commitment.

Kind of like P90X.

P90X example



Now this guy looks like a dude who’s committed.  In order for him to look like this beast he has to #sacrifice sleeping in, eating cheeseburgers, and going out with friends.  There’s NO WAY he can do those things and look like that.  Right?  He had to sacrifice.  And I bet it sucked.  I wonder if every morning when his alarm went off he thought,”I could just hit the snooze button.”  I bet the smell of cheeseburgers taunted him when he at his salad.  I bet his friends tempted him with weekend Halo marathons.  But after all the sacrifice he looked like that.


“When we sacrificially deny ourselves for Christ’s sake it is the clearest evidence of our committed love.”

We can see what Mr. P90X loves and values by what he sacrificed.  We can see what “The Rich Young Man” loved and valued by what he did not sacrifice.

If our relationship with Jesus was like “Let’s Make a Deal,” a fan wants the prize behind Door #1 without sacrificing what he currently has.

I love Jesus, but...


“When we sacrificially deny ourselves for Christ’s sake it is the clearest evidence of our committed love.”  If you agree, where is your #sacrifice?

I know all of this has gotten pretty heavy, so let me bring you a glimmer of hope:

We can’t talk about #sacrifice without talking about the motivation behind it.  Next week is our FINAL lesson on “Not a Fan,” and is also Ash Wednesday.  We’re going to take the journey towards Jesus’ #sacrifice for us, exploring His motivation and our response.

It’s about to be a love-fest up in here.


Inspired by “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  Join other committed followers at 


DTR—Define the relationship.

In the past three weeks we have taken a look at the difference between a “fan” and “Follower” of Jesus.  We established that fans often look like Followers, but fans do not have a true level of commitment.  They become “enthusiastic admirers” of Jesus  for the things they can get from Him: good grades, popularity, and a puppy for Christmas.  (You might be scoffing at those spiritually weak “fans.”)

Let’s turn the tables on you:

Ask yourself, “Am I a fan, or a Follower?”  Chances are you assume you are a follower because your family goes to church, you volunteer in the community, and you have not been arrested in the last month.  …But is that what it takes to be a “Follower”?

Think about it this way:
There’s a guy or girl you’re crushin’ on.  You start hanging out, and it is fun and exciting.  She’s pretty; he’s cool; you’re friends think you’re cute together.  But the time comes when you wonder, “Where is this going?”  You have to decide if things are casual, or committed.  You have to have “DTR.”  Define.The.Relationship.

The same way you have to have a DTR to figure out if things are casual or committed with your crush, you need to do that with Jesus.  For instance, would your relationship with Jesus be “Facebook official”?  You know, would your Facebook status say, ”In a Relationship with” Jesus? or would it say, “It’s Complicated” with Jesus?  Would it say “Single and Ready to Mingle!”?  Here are some questions worthy of some head-scratching, soul-searching time of reflection.


DTR 2-002


What did your reflection reveal about your relationship status with Jesus?

If you see yourself closer to a “fan” than you want to be, then let’s begin the  journey from fan to follower.

Not a Fan 2 002

Here’s what Jesus says about moving beyond a casual relationship, into a committed follower: Luke 9:23

“And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (ESV)

Anyone”—an open invitation.

No matter what you have done, Jesus is calling you to be in a committed relationship with Him.  Does accepting this come easily to you, or do you struggle with being accepted and loved?  Do you try to earn His love/acceptance by the “good things” you do?

When Jesus says “anyone,” He means “everyone.”  What does that reveal about His character?

Come after Me—a passionate pursuit.
How do you “come after” someone with whom you want to become better friends?  How do you pursue your crush?  I remember one time when I was being pursued by a guy.  He was so intent on “passionately pursuing me” that he spent hundreds of dollars on a private airplane ride…and it was only our first date!  We didn’t need a DTR to see that he was pretty committed.  (And no, this was not on an episode of The Bachelor.)

It makes me think of Matthew 13: Treasure in a Field parable.  I have always struggled to understand why a guy who stumbled upon a big pile of treasure sold everything that he had and bought the land where the treasure was buried.  I mean, that’s crazy, right?  But look at if from his perspective: He sells all he has (#sacrifice) because the treasure he has found is far “bigger and better” than what he is trading.  He is passionately pursuing the treasure.

 “When we discover the life we can have in Jesus we are to come after Him like this man pursued this [treasure].  Fans will be careful not to get carried away.  Followers understand that following Jesus is a pursuit that may cost them everything, but it is the best investment they could ever make.” Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan: Teen Edition

If you realize you look a lot more like a fan than Follower, take some time to consider what it could look like to “passionately pursue” a relationship with Jesus.  Talk to people who are doing that very thing.  Consider the comparison to a dating relationship: spend time with Him, getting to know Him.  Maybe even book a private plane ride with Him. :)

Inspired by Kyle Idleman’s Not A Fan: Teen Edition.

Tonight was not about introducing more scripture, or new scripture.  Tonight was about asking the question, “How can we live this out?”  These are the notes taken from the students’ ideas.  In the following month we will dig deeply into the concept of belief in action.  Tonight, we simply listened to the thoughts of our students, from their personal perspective.

Matthew 25:40

Main Points:
  • If you hurt someone, you are hurting Christ.
  • Treat others like you treat Christ.
  • Be selfless.
  • Doing a favor= doing a favor for God.
How can we live this out?
  • Including, not excluding.
  • Don’t avoid those who irritate us.
  • Don’t be mean, and encourage others not to be mean.
  • Stand up for those who are struggling.
  • Stop friends from teasing/hurting others.
  • Support each other in doing the “right” thing.

1 John 3:16-24

Main Points:
  • Giving someone the cold shoulder = ignoring God.
  • Love with your heart and your head.
  • Stop criticizing yourself–then you’ll not criticize others.  (God don’t make junk!)
  • Sacrifice for fellow believers.
  • Don’t judge yourself because God has forgiven you.  (Christ died for you!)
How can we live this out?
  • Visit someone who is hurting.
  • Listen to others.

Philippians 1:9-11

Main Points:
  • “Love” the right way.  (The ones who need it.)
How can we live this out?

Think before you speak.

Test your feelings!

Check your motives.

Give advice, don’t just take it.

Grow in KNOWLEDGE (scripture), INSIGHT (understanding scripture), AND DISCERNMENT (what is best, then do it!).

Challenge for this week:

Make a personal goal (based on the ideas above) and TRY to achieve it.  Text/facebook Kels “Transformation” if you do try.