Youth Week 2013 Sermon Video and Audio

Last week was Youth Week 2013: The Search for Truth.  It was a great week in which churches from around the city of Wilson gathered to worship Jesus Christ and seek out the truthfulness of Christianity.  My good friend Daniel Ritchie already wrote a fantastic blog reflecting on the week called Churches Loving Other Churches. Each night we had a different speaker answering a different question during worship.  If you would like to relive youth week 2013 or see it for the first time, these sermons are for you to use and share with others.

Night 1: "Is There a God?" - Brad Perry


Click Here for just the audio of this Sermon


Night 2: "Can We Trust the Bible?" - Daniel Ritchie


Click Here for just the audio of this sermon


Night 3: "Who is Jesus?" - Justin Deeter


Click Here for just the audio of this sermon


Night 4: "Is Jesus the Only Way to God?" - Joe Strange


Click Here for just the audio of this sermon


Night 5: "What Does it Mean to Be a Christian?" - Jeff Smith


Click Here for just the audio of this sermon


End of the Week Video


Youth Week 2013 Breakout Sessions

CardFront_YW2013 Youth Week 2013: The Search for Truth is just a few weeks away.  Our kick-off night is July 29 at 6:00 PM at Forest Hills Baptist Church.  If you have yet to pre-register click here, it will only take you a few seconds!

In addition to some crazy games, some great music, and some amazing speakers, we will have breakout sessions offered every night of the week. Students can choose which session they want to go to every night to help train them and equip them in their faith.  Our whole hope for this week is to give students confidence in the truthfulness of the Christian faith. As a result, many of these sessions will address controversial issues.  Here is a sneak peak of some of the classes we will have available!

  • What is Truth? - Jeremiah Custar
  • Worldview: What it is and Why it Matters - Chris Dunn
  • Sharing the Gospel with an Atheist - Justin Deeter
  • Biblical Womanhood - Kaitlyn Deeter (Girls Only)
  • Sharing the Gospel with the Life Book - Joe Strange
  • Theology and Music - Chris Scott
  • Are There Errors in the Bible? - Daniel Ritchie
  • Why Does a Good God Allow Suffering? - Daniel Ritchie
  • Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, and the Hope of the Gospel - Kristy Mitchell
  • Are Science and Christianity Arch Enemies?- Jeremiah Custar
  • Apologetics & the Christian Life - Jeff Smith
  • Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? - Brad Perry
  • Sharing the Gospel with Hindus and Muslims - Brad Perry
  • The Christian Sexual Ethic: Out of Touch? - Justin Deeter
  • Sharing the Gospel with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Staying Christian in College - Chris Dunn
  • Fashion and Modesty - Heather Ritchie (Girls Only)
  • Sharing the Gospel with Life Book - Joe Strange

Hope you start picking out your favorites that you want to attend. I'm excited because we have some of the best teachers from across Wilson to teach on their area of expertise. It is going to be an amazing week.  You won't want to miss it.  If you have still yet to pre-register, what are you waiting for?

Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Did Jesus every say he was God? For some reason many people state that Jesus never made the claim. A simple reading through the Gospels makes it clear that Jesus did in fact claim he was God on several occasions. One of the most startling takes place in John 8. John records a debate with Jesus and the religious leaders. Towards the end of debate we are told the following:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” so the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.“ - John 8:56-59

I am amazed at the boldness of Jesus. After a vicious debate with the religious leaders, Jesus makes the most startling claim. He says he is God. The full weight of this is often missed if one does not have a good understanding of the Old Testament. Notice that Jesus does not say that 'before Abraham was, I was. He uses the present tense, "I am". Jesus not only declares his pre-existence, but actually takes the sacred name of God onto himself. Yahweh, or I am, is the name God used to reveal himself to Moses in the burning bush. Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. He is the one true God. He is the God the religious leaders claim to be following. Yet, Jesus in this passage declares that he is greater than Abraham and the great I Am that brought the Jewish people out of Egypt.

This is absolutely astonishing. The Religious leaders were blown away at such a blasphemous statement. Their religious zeal and passion for right doctrine filled their hearts with righteous exasperation. This man, Jesus, standing before them claimed that he was the God in whom they worship. The bastard carpenter from Nazareth (so they thought) claims he is the one true God. The religious leader's anger quickly bubbles into a murderous mob. We are told that after Jesus said this, that the jews began to pick up stones to kill him. They were going to give him a death by stoning, but Jesus' time had not yet come so he was able to sneak out. How do we know that Jesus claimed to be God in this passage? The response of the leaders is revealing enough. They were going to kill him on the spot for such a blasphemous claim.

Also, notice where this whole conversation is taking place. Jesus is departing from the Temple, we are told. This conversation is happening in the house of God. These religious leaders were ready to commit murder in the temple of the Lord because of what Jesus said. This is truly astonishing, and reveals how offensive Jesus calling himself the great "I Am" is to the hearts of these religious leaders. They had been so blinded by their self-righteousness that they were unable to see, yet even unwilling to see, the Messiah standing before him. The God whom they claim to worship was standing before them, yet they did not recognize him. Rather, they seek to kill him in the Temple of the Lord. The Jews picked up stones to murder Yahweh in his own house.

Did Jesus ever say he was God? You better believe it. He claimed it. That's how he got himself killed. That's why the religious leaders were so eager to kill him. Jesus' perceived blasphemy along with the Religious leader's envy of Jesus brewed the perfect concoction for Jesus' brutal execution.

One cannot accurately say that Jesus never claimed to be God. This puts us in the trilema that C.S. Lewis gives us in his work Mere Christianity:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."

Jesus claimed to be God. He is either a liar, a lunatic, or the son of God. Jesus is the great "I Am". He is the one God who took on flesh and dwelt among us. He is Lord and he is King and he has made a way for us to be saved through his death on the cross. Trust in him as savior and king.

Lessons From a Tragic News Week

If you have been even mildly been paying attention this week, you will know that it has been a tragic week for America. It seems like every time we turn on the news we are hearing of some devastating story. The Boston Bombing. Poision Letters. Explosions in Texas.

It seems like every time we turn around, especially this past week we are hearing account after account of evil and tragedy. However, observing all of these events and the discussions surrounding them, there are a few lessons about ourselves and the nature of reality that we can learn.

Human Beings Long to Know Why

Anytime some unspeakable tragedy happens the question of why develops. Whether it is Aurora, Newtown, or Boston, we want to understand what would motivate someone to do the hanous acts. Our questions reveal something about the way we were created. Our souls desperatly long for justice and we desperatly long for understanding. We crave meaning. We are purpose seekers. It is our questions that reveal that we are more than just biochemical reactions. We are more than just the result of random naturalistic process. Our constant search for answers reveals that we are created in the image of God. The law of God is written on our hearts. We long for justice and we long for answers because God has created us that way.

The Fall Has Corrupted Humanity

As we look for answers, the question of humanities nature rises to the fore front of our minds. Are humans basically good or evil? With the rise of the humanist movement, the argument is that humans are generally good. However events over this past week shatter the dillusion of humanism and prove that their beliefs about humanity and the world fail to hold up in the face of reality.

It is here I believe that the Christian faith provides the best answer to the question of why and the nature of humanity. Humanity was created good in the image of God. However due to the Fall, man's rebellion against God, sin has come into the world and corrupted the created order including the human heart. You see the Christian faith alone provides answers to why humans can do incredible altruistic good and at the same time do unspeakable evil. The reason humanity is capable of the boston bombings is because of sin's power and influence in this world. The world is not as it should be, and it is only by the restraining grace of God that things are not nearly as bad as they could be.

Humanity Knows that there is Absolute Truth

In an age were postmodernism continues to greatly influence and shape contemporary culture, deep down we know that truth is not relative but absolute. Reading the articles and hearing the news shows we still use absolute terminology by throwing words around like evil. Deep down we all know that there is right and there is wrong. There are moral absolutes that are not decided by popular consensus. The terminology of referring to the actions this week show that even a media far removed from a Christian worldview will acknowledge that some acts deserve the label of evil and rightly so.

Christ is the Only Hope for this Broken World

The tragedies over the past week reveal that we live in a broken world. The world is torn apart by sorrow, suffering, and death. As families mourn the loss of loved ones and as amputees heal and learn to live without their limbs, cries of anguish will be heard and tears will be shed. Here again, Christianity alone provides any sort of comfort to those suffering. Justice is coming and judgement will be had. At the return of Christ all the evils of this world will be abolished and the effects of sin will be removed. Christ will execute his judgement because he is faithful and true. We long for justice, and justice will be delivered by God.

However, we must remember that you and I are broken too. We are sinners and rebels deserving of judgement and punishment. Yet it was by the mercy of God that he sent his son Jesus to die in our place for our sins. This is the incredible truth of the Gospel! The justice of God is preserved and for those who place their faith in Jesus, they will be spared of the judgement to come by receiving forgiveness of sins.

Christ is the only hope for this broken world. As we mourn, grieve, and cry in response to this unspeakable tragedies that have unfolded this week may we cry "Come, Lord Jesus". The King is coming. He has risen from the grave. He is coming back for his church. Sin will be eliminated and evil will be defeated. The sufferings of this earth will pass away and the kingdom of our God and King will endure for eternity!

The Arts are the Pulse of Culture

Francis-SchaefferI'm currently reading The God Who is There by Francis Shaeffer. I have been amazed by the cultural analysis he has done in the first half of the book, especially his analysis of art. The philosophical teachings found in much of the artwork the past two centuries absolutely fascinates me.

It is amazing to me the power in such a medium. The arts have indeed shaped the culture around us. Paintings, literature, and architecture are not merely entertaining hobbies but philosophy on display. Artist comment on their society, creatively displaying their worldview, their quest for meaning, and their final conclusions.

The amazing thing Shaeffer pointed out was that many of these men lived in complete and utter despair, particularly the modern painters such as Van Gough. Their artwork shows they were seeking for a universals while building and focusing on the particulars. These men were searching for answers in a world devoid of God and a world devoid of truth. The lives of such men are tragic, and their final conclusions are epitomized in their epic demise by the taking of their own life. After searching for meaning and significance, they found themselves in a dark hole of meaninglessness.

Francis Shaeffer concludes with this observation

These paintings, these poems, and these demonstrations which we have been talking about are the expression of men who are struggling with their appalling lostness. Dare we laugh at such things? Dare we feel superior when we view their tortured expressions in their art? Christians should stop laughing and take such men seriously. Then we shall have the right to speak again to our generation. These men are dying while they life; yet where is our compassion for them? There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion.

What an accurate critique. The tortured work of these men reveal the desperateness of those around us. Just as these artist express their own lostness in their artwork, they are in good company. There are neighbors, co-workers, and friends who are lost in the nebulous of the denial of absolute truth, seeking a meaning in a world where —at least in their worldview— is not possible. Subjectivism and existentialism merely mask the reality of their worldview - hopelessness and despair.

How does this reality change the way we look at the expressions of art around us? I suggest the following ways.

We Must Take Art Seriously

Christians are not very artistically inclined. Although there seems to be a reclaiming of the arts among Christians, many Christians have failed to take the medium seriously.  We must understand that art shapes culture. It speaks into the souls of men in a deep and profound way. Art teaches. Always. This means that Christians must greatly understand the profoundness of the medium. As Christians, we know why men and women create art, it is because of the imago dei. There is something about our created nature in the image of God that compels us to create, explore, imagine, and speak. Christians must not dismiss the art of culture as immaturity, foolishness, or even irrelevance. Where philosophy teaches in the academy, art takes the philosophy of the academy and presents it initially to culture.

We Must Examine Art Critically

Christians must be cautious not to immediately accept all art forms and the message they communicate. Although we can enjoy the skill, precision, and creativity implored enjoying must not lead us to accepting. Let me give us a relevant example in the medium of film, the most powerful cultural shaper in western civilization.

The movie Avatar was a box office hit that made millions of dollars. It was a visually amazing epic adventure on an uncharted world. Although we can go see Avatar and enjoy the medium and creativity of the film, we must not accept its philosophical message, which is a retelling of the eastern worldview (which is become increasingly westernized), panenthism, which is a worldview in which a impersonal divine spirit indwells and connects all things together (think the force from Star Wars). This is completely contrary to the Christian worldview who says that God is not an impersonal spirit, but the personal God who exists in trinity.

The great danger is that so many christians embrace the art without critically thinking about its message. Art has a way of teaching us and shaping us in a way that we don't realize is happening. The message of the theater, of novels, and of artwork instructs often times subconsciously. Christians must examine art seriously, but also critically.

We Must Observe Art With Scrutiny

We can know a great deal about our culture and about our society if we carefully examine the art it produces. From the latest oscar winning film to the latest Justin Beiber album (which can hardly be considered art). The arts reveal the values, the morality, and the worldview of those who are creating.

Christians must learn to view art with evangelistic interest. As we observe the art of culture, we must look for Gospel incompatibilities (this is not compatible with a Christian worldview) and Gospel bridges (that points to the meta narrative of Scripture). Christians must get their head out of the sand and observe the people and the culture God has placed us in. Then with investigative critical thinking we can accurately and contextually communicate the Gospel, answering the questions that the culture is asking.  The Christian must take the pulse of culture by observing the arts.  In order to share the Gospel effectively, we must no the walls and barriers of the people we are trying to reach.