Thursday, October 31, 2013

Looking For Love...

We are all looking for love.

It's just a question of if we are looking in the right places.

Last night as a part of our series on Identity and the book of Ephesians, our Youth Ministry looked at the issue of love and relationships. As we looked at the last half of Ephesians chapter 5, our conclusion was that our love for anyone else must come from God's love for us. Therefore any attempts we make at finding that special someone to love us must be fueled by our satisfaction in Christ.

That changes everything.

Throughout history, every culture has it's rituals and practices for finding a mate. There's the Apples-in-the-Arm-Pits Dance from Austria. There's the Empty-Knife-Sheath from Finland. There's Bundling from early American history. But perhaps the strangest practice was a modern invention:

The Dating Game.

The Dating Game was a long-running television game show featuring a person looking for a date and three prospects. Without seeing or knowing any of the three contestants, the date-seeker would ask three questions and then decide which person they would date.

It looked something like this:

So here's my challenge to you: After considering the principles for relationships in Ephesians 5:22-33, what THREE QUESTIONS would you ask of a prospective date?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't Be An Ostrich...

So I saw this on Facebook the other day and it made me laugh...

It made me laugh because we ALL know what they thought we'd be using Snapchat for.

But wait, let me back up a minute. Maybe you don't know what Snapchat is. Snapchat is a social media app that lets you send pictures that disappear forever a few seconds after the recipient views them...sort of.

Due to recent litigation between the founders of Snapchat, lots of new info has come to light about the origin of the app and the status of your pictures. I ran across this article that highlights some of these issues as well as informs parents of the potential dangers of Snapchat.

If you are a parent of a teenager or work with young people in some capacity, I STRONGLY urge you to read this article. If you have any questions, please post in the comments or contact me directly at

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's An Imitation...

This week was my daughter Hannah's birthday. Following the precedent set by her brother, Hannah asked for me to take her somewhere special...the Waffle House

So we set off for a father-daughter date full of grease and sugar and fond memories.

Now her choice may seem odd to you, but you have to understand she is her father's daughter and the Waffle House has always held a special place in my heart. She was just imitating a love she sees in me.

I have often been told how much my children look like me, but they also imitate me in actions and interests and tastes. That's partly because they love me and want to be like me, but it's also partly because I love them and have built into their life.

The Scripture is rich with references to God being our Father. On Wednesday night, our youth ministry looked at the concept that God has adopted us as children.

Think about that for a moment. The Creator of the universe looked at you - despite your flaws and your sins - and he paid the adoption price - His own Son's blood - so that you could be His.

He picked you.

That is the beauty of adoption. You get picked. Despite your situation, circumstances, condition, you get chosen.

And when we realize that, it makes us want to be more like our dad. Ephesians 5:1 says it best:

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."

As we were getting ready to leave the Waffle House, I reached for the ticket that had been placed face down on the table. One phrase on the back jumped out at me.

Make sure you thank you Heavenly Father for choosing you today.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I'm So Excited....

Upon returning from vacation, Pastor Doug gave my children one of those growing alien toys as a souvenir.

You know, one of those ones where you put it in a jar of water and it grows to 600% of it's original size.

and it glows in the dark.

My kids are totally in love with it.

They change it's water everyday. They care for it meticulously. They are convinced that they are going to grow it to be life-sized. And they tell EVERYONE about it.

Just last night one of Hannah's friends came over for a few minutes, and Hannah gave her this dissertation about the proper care of your alien.

I think the poor little girl is going to have nightmares.

But it got me to thinking...we can't stop talking about things we are excited about. So what do you talk about?

I had a member of our congregation stop by this morning and she just wanted to share all of the good things God was doing in her life. All of them revolved around opportunities she had to share with others about God and His love and grace and power. As she teared up I realized how excited she was about God and these opportunities He was giving her.

It reminded me of my kids and their alien.

May we fall in love with God in such a way this week that we can't stop talking about HIM!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

God Gives the BEST Gifts...

At last night's youth service we continued looking at our identity and the book of Ephesians by talking about how our gifts don't give us our identity but rather our identity gives us our gifts.

This truth comes from the fact that it is only after we receive Christ and our relationship with Him defines who we are that we receive and understand Spiritual Gifts. We also learned that our gifts and talents are not for our good; but for the good of others.

The lists of some possible spiritual gifts that God may be giving you are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:11. Here is a link to a website with a clear list and definitions of most of these gifts.

So I want to hear from you this week. What gifts do you think you have and why? What are you doing to test out these gifts? Where is God leading you to serve for the good of others as a result of the gifts you have?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

That One Video...

For all of you random-video-lovers and i-loved-that-Wednesday-night-opener fans out there; here is that one video from Wednesday night:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


As we continue to go through the series "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE", tonight we talked about the statement "I AM AFFLICTED".

Once again borrowing from material of Mark Driscoll's, here is a run down of some of the common types of affliction that we face:

1. ADAMIC - We all are born with the common affliction of being a sinner living in a fallen world. Our own natural tendency towards sin and our world's tendency towards chaos and decay all stem from Adam and Eve's original sin and separation from God (Read Genesis 3).

2. CONSEQUENTIAL - These types of afflictions stem from someone's actions. It could be our own refusal to accept God and so our affliction is our separation from him. It could be poor choices causing consequences. Things like eating bad leading to sickness. Sleeping through class leading to flunking. Being lazy leading to unemployment. Or it might be someone else's sin or poor choices affecting you. Things like family poverty, abuse, and relational hurts all fall into this category.

3. DEMONIC - Yes, I know this one sounds scary and IT IS! The Bible teaches over and over again about the reality of evil spiritual beings waging war against God's people. Sometimes our affliction may be one of those attacks. Job is a perfect example of this type of affliction.

4. COLLECTIVE - Sometimes our affliction comes from our connection to a group of people. Maybe it's your family. Maybe it's your community. Maybe it's your country. When they are afflicted you are afflicted.

5. DISCIPLINARY - Another fun sounding one. This is actually one of the most positive types of affliction. This is God's working through adversity to help you to grow. You need patience; God gives you a situation to make you wait. You need to deal with anger; God gives you frustrations.

6. EMPATHETIC - This category is when we aren't actually afflicted ourselves but someone we care about is. We are afflicted because we care for the afflicted. This is when loved ones are sick or abused or abandoned. We hurt with them.

7. TESTIMONIAL - This type of affliction comes when we are afflicted because we follow Jesus. This type of affliction leads to us living in a way that glorifies God and shares true faith with others.

8. PREVENTATIVE - This is a common grace given to people to help them avoid further affliction. It's when we go to the doctor because of a pain and find out we were a heart attack waiting to happen.

9. MYSTERIOUS - This is the catch-everything-else category. So much affliction falls in this section. We just don't know. We're afflicted but we don't know the reason. God knows but we won't ever know the full mind of God. We have to learn to trust him in this type of affliction.

10. APOCALYPTIC - And then there is of course the affliction that will occur as we get closer to Christ's return for his people.

Remember, your affliction is NOT your IDENTITY; your IDENTITY in Christ gets you through your affliction. So try to figure out how to allow your affliction to be for others GOOD, your GROWTH, and God's GLORY.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The End of the Matter....

As I was perusing the endless stream of consciousness that is Facebook the other day, this image grabbed my attention:

Over the last month we have actually touched twice on this verse in a sermon. So I thought others of you might like it. Here's a link to the full-sized image.

I find such refreshment in this verse. We are pulled in so many directions. Told so many things are important. Challenged to find significance in many tasks.

But only one thing is truly necessary. I pray you find rest in that today.

(I found that link from LOGOS BIBLE SOFTWARE - a great bible study tool and very uplifting Facebook feed.)

Friday, September 20, 2013


I am so thankful for the work of grace that Christ did on my behalf on the cross.

Without His sacrifice and subsequent resurrection, I would be without hope - lost and separated from God. But God...

(Don't you love it when God butts in to your life?)

in His love for us and His infinite power, He saw fit to take the punishment that I deserved for my shortcomings, so that - if I trusted in Him - His death would be a substitute for mine and I would receive eternal life because He ultimately defeated that death by coming back to life.

So why do I still have sin in my life?

Good question.

Borrowing from some material by Mark Driscoll, I'd like to share something that has changed my life.

Just before Jesus died on the cross, He declared "It is finished!" This was a declaration of the completion of His blood being spilled as an atonement for the wrath of God towards ALL our sin.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. -1 John 2:2 ESV

Therefore - in the PAST - Jesus took care of the PENALTY for our sin.

Fastforward. You as a sinful person, become aware of your sin. You realize you need a Savior. You make a conscious choice to accept Christ as such and repent of your sin. You are personally saved.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. -Romans 10:9-10 ESV

So - in the PRESENT - Jesus takes care of the POWER of sin. Thus beginning a work of helping us to stop making selfish choices and start making godly choices.

Then - one day - when time ends and Christ comes back for all of His followers, there will suddenly be no more sin.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4 ESV

So - in the FUTURE - Jesus removes the PRESENCE of sin.

I hope that helps you like it helps me. Let us rest in the payment made for our penalty - trust in the power for victory - and hold on to the hope for ultimate freedom in the future.

Let me know your thoughts and questions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spoken Word

I love spoken word stuff.

Here's the video I used tonight from Pastor Phil Allen.

Visit Pastor Phil's YOUTUBE channel for more spoken word videos.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Which Are You....?

So this past Monday was my son Isaac's fifth birthday. We asked him what he'd like to do.

He said, "Go to Krispy Kreme."

(Actually he says, "Christmas Kreme." We haven't been able to convince him otherwise.)

My five-year-old wants doughnuts for his birthday, so off we went. The whole fam.

And it was glorious. Isaac had a blue-iced, blueberry filled doughnut. A couple of the other kids had chocolate with rainbow sprinkles. Hannah had white-powered filled with strawberry. I had the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Doughnut. (It was heavenly!)

But as we were leaving I saw the most amazing thing:

Now this is fantastic, except for the fact that my thrift-shop-finding self recently purchased this fine t-shirt:

which, of course, puts me at odds with all pirates.

So, while I sort out this moral dilemma, I thought we'd find out this all-important identity piece about all of you:


Friday, September 6, 2013


One of my favorite scenes from my favorite movies is the gas station fight from Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo+Juliet.

In it members of the Capulet and Montague families get into a heated debate. As it escalates, Tybalt - Juliet's short-tempered cousin - makes this ominous statement:

"Peace? Peace. I hate the word."

Most of us probably wouldn't say we hate peace; but we might say we have none.

Oh. We may pretend to have peace. Or we are striving to have peace. Maybe we have a ten-step plan to how we are going to get peace into our life. But we haven't attained it yet.

So when we read things in the Bible like Ephesians 1:2:

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

we struggle.

We struggle because we feel like somehow we've missed out on something everyone else has. But our real problem is that we have mistook PEACE as something we can obtain.

Peace isn't something you obtain; it's something God has already given.

So why don't we have peace?

One of two things. Maybe we don't have peace because we are still allowing our sin to define us. We are a believer. We've trusted Christ as our Savior. We even love Him. But we can't shake that feeling that we aren't good enough.

Because of that one thing. That one night. That one thought. That one mistake.

So we continue to identify ourself as a sinner. But Paul in the verse right before what we just read tells us a different picture:

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the SAINTS who are in Ephesus, and are faithful IN CHRIST JESUS" (Ephesians 1:1 ESV)

See, if we are a believer of Christ, if our hope is IN CHRIST, then our identity is that of a SAINT in God's eyes. He already paid our debt, appeased His wrath and washed us clean. So we need to stop rejecting God's peace and accept His grace.

The other possibility on our peace-lessness, is maybe we don't have peace. If you aren't a believer in Christ. If you haven't asked Him to be your Savior. If you are still trusting in your own ability to be a good person, then you won't have peace because you are still an object of God's wrath. The ONLY remedy is for you to humble yourself, admit your sins and accept Christ's sacrifice on the cross as a substitution for your debt. It is only then that you will find peace.

If you have any questions about any of this, please post in the comments or send an email to

Also if you are local to us in Buffalo, MO, join us on Sunday as we look at a man who tried everything before he found peace.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Here's the intro video from tonight:

This week we looked at the first couple of verses from Ephesians 1. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the questions:

Are you a SINNER or a SAINT?
What does it mean to be IN CHRIST?
What does it mean when I say "WHO YOU ARE DETERMINES WHAT YOU DO"

Next week we will look at Ephesians 1:3-14 if you want to read ahead!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ask Me Anything?

So I've been looking at all of the questions we got from our Fall KickOff Registrations. I will now attempt to answer all of them here.

Absolutely. I make it a weekly to bi-weekly practice to consume home-popped popcorn. We cook ours in coconut oil. You should try it.

That's a tough one. There are so many (approximately 31,103 to be exact) and (obviously) they are all good. But if I had to pick one of my most treasured, let-it-impact-my-life-daily verses, I'd have to say Jesus's words in John 16:33 have been dear to me as of late:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

Again, a terribly hard question. I like so much music and there are so many good songs and those songs are all good for different reasons. But if I were to pick a song that the band and the music and the meaning of the lyrics all came together to make a huge impact on me, I'd have to pick "The Suburbs" by The Arcade Fire (& for a particularly emotional experience watch the corresponding video here.)

The Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey. It was originally a gift to Edison by a group of mining and smelting companies. It weighs 486 pounds.

Well, there are many and we have some hard copy plans of varying levels available at our 180 Resource Booth, but i personally use YouVersion's Bible Reading Plans on their mobile app. If you have an Apple or Android phone you can download it and pick a plan that will come up daily on your phone. A few of their plans I might suggest are: Project 51, The Gospels, and Chronological (the one I'm reading this year).

They don't call me Mr. Roboto for no reason.

If I had to pick, it would be Romans.

That is a challenge for all of us. The simple answer is find our identity in Christ. Hopefully we can begin to realize that answer this semester as we look at our identity on Wednesday Nights.

I don't think so.

I'm reporting you to PETA.

To glorify God.

Let's instead answer "WHAT IS YOUR MOST WATCHED MOVIE?". Toss up between the original Star Wars and The Princess Bride.

How would I know, I'm no dentist.

God must want you to learn to BE CAREFUL!

See Genesis 3

You never know when I might be at a thrift store somewhere and see this perfect pair of shoes for you.

Isn't it obvious?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA. Wouldn't you like to know?

I'm blessed WAY MORE than I deserve.

Me either.

Hope that all helps. I'd love it if you want to keep asking questions. You can just post them in the comments here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

THAT Video from Tonight

Here's THAT T-Shirt War Video from tonight's intro at 180 Youth Ministries: I'd love to hear your thoughts, feedback, etc. on the message. What stood out to you? What moved you? What challenged you? How do you need to REFLECT? What do you need to RECEIVE from God?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

We KICKED It Off!!!

Last night was our Annual Back-To-School Kickoff event for our Youth Ministry. We had a great turn out thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of our students promoting the event. Great job everyone! Some of the highlights: The Premiere of our new Praise Team (who sounded fantastic after just one practice!)
A crazy dance party during worship time.
And a (potential) world record of 48 pens stuck in an epic beard!
I am excited to see everyone return next week as we start of study WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE: a look at our Identity. Peace.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Beard is Back (or The Return of the Blog)

Life is cyclical. Trends come and go...and come again...and go again. It seems like lately everywhere I look there are beards: on TV, at church, on EVERY youth pastor at camp, and even on high school kids. It's crazy. So I did what any good person would do...I gave in to peer pressure and grew one. But the truth is, no matter your beard-motivation, this is not a new trend. Recently, my wife's aunt, who is a family-tree guru, looked up some of my ancestors. Here's my Great Great Grandfather Homer Rufus Elliott: Now that is a great beard! Well, all this talk of trend-cycles has inspired me to more than some scruffy face hairs; It has also inspired me to resume my blog. My plan for this space is to make regular posts that inspire thought and discussion as well as have some fun. I will largely use it as an extension of my personal devotional life and the lessons I teach at church. So I hope you join me in pondering the deep things of life. And if you wonder what this particular post has to do with those deep things, check out what the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon had to say about beards:
God bless.