Generation to Generation

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It brings me so much joy to see youth and young adults pursuing ministry. It is wonderful to see the next generation serving other members of the church and the community in the name of Christ. Young people that “get it”. They want to make a positive difference and make an eternal impact on the world around them.

I am so thankful for the people who were there for our generation. The adults that worked, studied, served, and prayed with us. Our Youth Workers’ commitments to our church and faith were evident in their church involvement.  I was so blessed because I got to serve alongside so many solid servants of Christ. We did the little, insignificant things along with the big stuff. It didn’t matter if it was unclogging a toilet, doing a food collection, visiting a nursing home, rolling coins after a fundraiser, working on a broken down church bus, speaking or singing in a worship service-whatever the task, our Youth Workers were working it out beside us. They spoke with encouraging words of wisdom and instilled confidence as we overcame difficulties that stood in the way to completing our mission. After all, a true follower of Christ is willing to present the gospel, help others, even wash some dirty feet…

The Apostle Paul had the opportunity to bring countless generations of people to Christ. We are still learning from his writings today. Timothy had the chance to learn from him first hand. Paul refers to Timothy as “my true son in the faith”. He had worked alongside Paul for years and had served the churches. Paul made sure that Timothy understood and practiced the essentials of the Christian faith. He also prepared him for leadership.

Paul informed him in 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Paul wanted Timothy to know how to serve the Church, how to deal with problems and encourage the people to grow in Christ.  He warned him about terrible times in the last days because of how evil many people would become (2 Timothy 3:1-5). He also passed along a charge, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:14-17)

What great advice for all generations!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Where is Zion?

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There are 24 places in the world named Zion and 55 places in the world named Mount Zion. I have noticed a few of the road signs for these towns as I travel. One is located in Indiana. This Mount Zion is only about an hour away from the campus where FUEL Youth Camp is held each summer. But the Zion or Mount Zion that we want to focus our attention on is the Biblical Zion.

The word Zion appears 168 times throughout the scriptures.  The first reference to Zion is when David and his men marched to Jerusalem and captured the Jebusite fortress of Zion-which is the City of David. (2 Samuel 5:7) Later Zion was called the holy mountain. “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” (Psalm 2:6) In Isaiah 33:20 it states, “Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem.”

Zion is also used to refer to the Millennial Jerusalem in Israel where Jesus Christ will reign over the entire world. An amazing description is presented in Isaiah 2. It states, “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” What an amazing time of righteousness, justice (Isa. 33:5) and peace that will be! Jesus, the precious cornerstone will rule from Zion (Isaiah 28:16). Imagine the joy that people will experience as they come to Zion. Isaiah chapter 35 describes it this way, “the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” We are shown a glimpse of this beautiful scene to encourage us to “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…He will come to save you. (v.4) What an amazing experience it will be to see the Lord Jesus Christ return, to enter Zion and experience every part of the Kingdom!

If you want to discover more about Zion, take a moment to read the 10 verses of Isaiah 35 and Isaiah chapter 63.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Messages from God

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We may take instant messaging for granted. We have grown accustomed to communicating with each other in real time. Instant messaging in 1844 was a little bit different.  Samuel Morse was a co-developer of Morse Code and helped to develop the commercial use of the electrical telegraph. Morse sent the first official telegraph message on May 23, 1844.  And it is interesting to me that he encouraged a 17-year-old named Annie Ellsworth to choose the text. It was, “What hath God wrought?” This statement is from the King James Version of the Bible from Numbers 23:23.  We might read it as, See what God has done! This statement is from one of the messages pronounced by Balaam and his experiences should convey the importance of only giving the true message of God.

When the Israelites traveled into Moab, King Balak sent messengers to Balaam, a pagan prophet. Balak wanted to pay Balaam to place a curse on the Israelites. Balak’s message was, A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.” But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.” Balaam consults with God and does refuse to go with the first group.  Later a second set of messengers arrives.  They delivered this message, “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.” Balaam does go with the messengers, but he has a strange conversation with his donkey on the journey. And an encounter with the angel of the LORD makes him state on his arrival, “I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.” King Balak takes the pagan prophet to three locations inquiring a curse to be pronounced on the Israelites, but each time, Balaam blesses the Israelites. The first three messages of Balaam are blessings on Israel and the last four messages are warnings to the countries that will be conquered.

Later in Deuteronomy 23:5 we are told why God insisted on blessing the Israelites. It states, “However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.”

Balaam missed the point of the messages that he delivered. God loved the Israelites. He continued to send messages of His love and hope to them throughout time. Just as the Apostle Peter said, “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. (Acts 10:36) How blessed we are that God’s message of love is available to us all.  We don’t need to wait for a prophet from a far away land. God’s message is in the scriptures and He speaks personally to each one of us. Praise God for this Message!

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

 

 

Introductions

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I love meeting people especially at Christ-centered events. I have never been afraid of hearing, “so tell me about yourself.” So imagine my amazement when a family member said they dreaded activities where you get-to-know each other. In a circle of strangers, they draw a blank when they are asked to tell one thing about themselves. Of course, my response is totally different. “Only one thing?” I want to hear about everyone and let them learn about me.  I love to meet new people and learn about their lives. I genuinely enjoy the company of others and feel energized from spending time with others.  Some might say that I am extremely extraverted.  Of course, we have all experienced some awkwardness or tension when we are meeting someone new. We want to put our best foot forward so we make a good impression.

I love the way that some of the New Testament Writers introduce themselves. The book of 2 Peter begins with this, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.”  Paul begins his letter to Timothy in this way. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1) They know who they are and they are all about being God’s children and Christ’s servants.

As Christians, my hope and prayer is that we are as solid in our identity in Christ.  We have been adopted into God’s family, we have become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Roman 8:17), we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10) and we are loved. These are just a few aspects of our new identity-who we are when we accept Christ.

Sometimes we begin to focus on one aspect of our lives and define ourselves in this way. In our minds we let that one area define us. You know we begin to think of ourselves as a student, a jock, a gamer, a hipster, an arty intellectual, a hard worker, a prep, a dancer…sure we may have something that is unique and special about us, but most important we are the children of God. We are followers of Christ. Just like the New Testament writers, lets make it obvious that we are servants of Christ Jesus our hope.

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 YEARS!

 

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I think I was in my Elementary school cafeteria when I first read the phrase “You Are What You Eat”. Of course, the posters placed in the cafeteria wanted us to realize that it is important to eat nutritious food in order to be healthy and fit.  At the time I probably had tater tots and homemade pizza on my tray. Not sure what I thought about being a Tater Tot.

As we grow up, we understand that what we eat is vital for disease prevention, growth and good health. Because we know this, we try to determine what our every day eating habits should be. In the same way, we need to be discerning about what we feed our minds.

We are constantly taking in what is around us and as Christians, it is important to put only the best into our hearts and minds. In Philippians 4:8 we are told what should occupy our thoughts. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” So we need to be intentional about what we are thinking and how we are spending our time. This week I saw that the average American spends 7 years and 8 months of their lives watching TV and 5 years and 4 months on social media (Mediakix). What might seem like an innocent time-killer could actually use 16 years of our lives. So how would the Apostle Paul instruct us to occupy our time? In Colossians 3, we are told, “12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So there we have it. Everything we say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father. Let’s truly rely on God when we pray to “give us today our daily bread” because hopefully we are becoming that daily bread.  We Are What We Eat.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Over 3,000!

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I like books. But I find that I like the idea of reading a book, more than I actually like reading the book. Some of you can relate. I have books that I started, but just never finished.  I like the possibility of what the book is promising. Maybe it is becoming more organized, getting better grades, learning another language, do it yourself projects, restoring an old car, …there are countless things that we can learn from books.

The greatest book of course is the one that God has given us.  It is the book that we continue to read through our lives. Why? We have been doing some in depth Bible study during our Grow devotions. What is it that this collection of 66 books is promising to the reader?

The Bible makes some incredible promises. Promises that have happened, that are happening and that will happen. And of course, the importance of these promises rests in the fact that they are offered from God.  He is speaking through the scriptures to us. For instance, the promise that we can know who God is. “Come near to God and He will come near to you”. (James 4:8) Or the promise that we can become God’s children. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1) We are also offered the promise of forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Those promises are amazing because we can be forgiven and we can connect with our Creator. We can grow our relationship with Him so close that we can call Him, “our Father”. And just like a loving Father teaches a child the things they need to know, He teaches us through the scriptures.  We can learn how to make decisions and how to live. And He promises us His Holy Spirit. His Spirit enables us to live lives that show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I recently read that a Bible scholar states that there are over 3,000 promises from God through the scriptures. That is huge, but we know that those promises will be fulfilled because God is the one making them. We can trust God because He will follow through on His promises. So no matter what, lets continue to study this incredible book with a message of love that is filled with promises written from Our Father.

 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

 

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

Peacemakers

blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God

The older I get, the more I realize I’m an exact replica of my mom. We like the same movies, we think (and overthink) the same things, we’re both textbook ISFJ’s, and we both spend hours looking at houses for sale that we’ll never afford. Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” If we’re children of God, we should strive to be like God, reflecting His character. When people see us, they should see the love of God in our lives.

In the face of conflict, it’s hard to be love. We often want to be right more than we want to be love. Jesus, however, is the perfect example of how to be love in the face of conflict. We often overlook that he was a human just like us; his challenges, even 2,000 years ago, are a lot like our challenges. This week, we’ve tried to answer how Jesus resolved conflict to give us insight into how to deal with our own conflicts.

Jesus resolved conflict with great urgency. Stop running away from conflict no matter how overwhelming or scary the problem may be. Don’t let unresolved conflict fester; instead, deal with it directly and quickly.

Jesus was a persistent diplomat. Jesus gave us a three-step plan to dealing with sin and conflict within the church. First, go to the culprit alone, then bring another trusted member or two of the church with you, and finally bring the conflict to the church as a whole. We don’t have the power to save people, but we can be patient, loving, persistent, and cover them with prayer.

Jesus saw each conflict as an opportunity for grace. Jesus preached that if someone hits you, don’t hit back; instead, turn your other cheek. We have the chance to be love to someone who may have never truly experienced how intense and whole God’s love is. Sure, they might not deserve grace, but neither did we.

Jesus disciplined out of love. Ah yes, Jesus flipped tables and even fashioned his own whip. Love isn’t always rainbows and butterflies; sometimes, it’s a harsh slap to the hand. As brothers and sisters, we’re supposed to refine each other so that we may all follow Jesus a little closer every day.

Jesus embodied forgiveness. Just as you have experienced the joy and freedom that forgiveness brings, give that same joy to someone else. Forgive as you have been forgiven.

Jesus submitted to God’s will even when it was hard. Jesus’ submission led him to the cross. God has prepared a cup for you, too, representing His will for your life. Will you be obedient to what God has filled your cup with?

My prayer is that you feel encouraged and equipped to tackle the conflicts in your life with love just as Jesus did.

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Silence and Submission

but Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge

This week, we’ve seen Jesus be the peaceful yet persistent diplomat. He’s preached about turning the cheek and walking the extra mile. He’s told stories about forgiveness and even flipped over tables. Today, we see Jesus be silent. Matthew 27:11-14 tells of the exchange between Jesus and Pilate shortly after Jesus’ arrest:

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

 

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

 

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

On the surface, the story of Jesus before Pilate is about a conflict between, you guessed it, Jesus and Pilate. On a deeper level, it’s the resolution of a conflict between Jesus and God. The night before this encounter, Jesus was severely troubled by God’s will.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 27:36-39)

Jesus repeats this prayer two more times. He earnestly pleads to his Father to provide him a way out. Jesus is obviously conflicted because he wants to obey his Father, but he also doesn’t want to die. Jesus’ sentiments seem familiar. I often find myself wanting to obey God, but wishing God would call me to do something different. God has given each of us a cup, too. I find some of the things God has filled my cup with really fun and exciting, like getting to teach the middle schoolers at my church every week. Other things that God has filled my cup with are a lot harder to swallow. Loving my enemies? Forgiving those who have hurt me? Denying myself? Obedience and submission to God’s will is not a pick and choose; it’s an all or nothing.

Jesus refuses to defend himself before Pilate as an act of obedience toward God, it’s the resolution of last night’s conflict. It’s Jesus saying, “Okay, God, not my will, but Your will.” In his silence, there is submission. Jesus’ cup was beyond difficult to swallow, but he did it for God—he did it for you and me.

What’s in your cup? Will you be obedient to what God has filled your cup with?

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Forgive(n)

Jesus answered, _I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times-2

Matthew 18:21-35

If you’ve ever sat down and had a conversation with my dad, he’s probably told you about a restaurant he’s been to. He loves to research unique restaurants in every city we visit. When he falls in love with a new restaurant, whether it’s the hole-in-the-wall diner with the best burgers and apple pie or the breakfast place with cinnamon rolls bigger than your face, he wants to tell everyone about it. When you discover and experience something so special, you have to share it. Forgiveness is the same way.

Being forgiven has got to be the most joyous and freeing thing you have ever experienced. God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, freed you from your bondage, your sin, your shame, and your death. Now, it’s your job to give away that same forgiveness (warning: it’s not quite as easy as talking about giant cinnamon rolls)

Jesus tells a story about a master and his servants that resembles an episode of Downton Abbey, but lacks really good music. A servant owes his master 10,000 bags of gold, a debt he is not able to repay, so the master orders that he gives up everything, including his wife and children, to be sold. The servant begs for forgiveness, and the master cancelled the debt and let him go.

The story takes an unfortunate twist.  The servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him 100 silver coins. The newly freed servant violently chokes the other servant and demands that he pay back his debt. The indebted servant begs for forgiveness, but he was thrown in prison. Those who witnessed the hypocrisy were outraged and reported everything they saw to the master. The master calls the servant he forgave in and says, “You wicked servant, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” The master then handed the servant over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all that he owed.

We’re the first servant. We were forgiven by our master for a debt that we could never repay. We’re free, and now a choice is before us: will we forgive those who have done wrong to us? Tread carefully because the consequences of this situation are severe. If we don’t forgive, we will not be forgiven. Jesus says that if we don’t forgive our brother or sister, we will be subject to the same treatment as the servant. Forgiveness is hard, but it’s our responsibility to share the joy and freedom that comes with forgiveness.

Think about someone who has hurt you. Maybe they haven’t even sought out forgiveness, but it’s up to you to make the first step. As you experience how hard forgiveness can be, thank God for forgiving you because it wasn’t easy for Him either—He watched His son die for you.

Forgive as you have been forgiven.

-Mackenzie McClain

Indiana Jones Jesus

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“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:13-16)

For many years, this passage confused me. I thought Jesus preached peace, but here he is flipping tables and fashioning his own whip. He seems more like Indiana Jones than the Jesus I learned about in Sunday School. The image of Jesus throwing a tantrum in the temple is so jarring and powerful because it is an exception to his otherwise gentle and peaceful nature.

In this story, Jesus reminds me of the mother of a young toddler. Most of the time, the mother is sweet, gentle, and tender-hearted towards her child. One day, however, the child reaches to turn the knob of the stove, igniting the flame. The mother slaps the child’s hand away to teach him that he should never touch the stove, because it could seriously hurt him. The mother doesn’t usually go about slapping her child, but when the consequences of a situation are severe, serious actions must be taken. Even though the mother may have hurt or scared her young child, she did it in the child’s best interest. Sometimes a slap to the hand is much more loving than an “it’s okay, sweetheart.”

At first glance, Jesus’ wrath in the temple may seem out of character, but really, it’s just a different manifestation of his character than we are used to seeing. At the core of Jesus’ character is a passion for the Church, a cause he would eventually die for. When he sees people taking advantage of the Church, he is understandably angry and disturbed. He takes a slap to the hand approach here because of the severe consequences of the situation. Jesus is no less loving than before; his love is just shown in a different way.

Confrontation makes me uneasy, but sometimes it is necessary. I’m not saying you have to make your own whip like Jesus did, but be willing to engage in uncomfortable discussions to help discipline a brother or sister out of love. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may SPUR one another on toward love and good deeds.”  A spur is a small spike on the heel of a horse rider’s boot used to direct the horse. Like the slap on the hand, the spur may temporarily sting, but it serves a purpose. We have a responsibility to spur our brothers and sisters on toward following Jesus a little closer each and every day.

“We’re all rough drafts of the people we’re still becoming” –Bob Goff, Everybody Always

 

-Mackenzie McClain