Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Tonight is our last week in our series "DON'T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR!"

We actually extended this series by one week due to the volume of great questions that were placed in our question box. I wanted to make sure we had space to adequately discuss some of the common topics:


It should be an informative time.

We'll also have a time for open Q&A. So bring your unanswered questions. I'll also post a recap later this week so we can continue the discussion. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Last night was the official end of our series: "DON'T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR."

(We are having a wrap up Q&A with nachos next Wednesday.)

We have dealt with lots of questions...


But all of these questions ultimately lead us to the question: "HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM RIGHT WITH GOD?"
This question is so big and so important I just wanted to recap some of last nights thoughts.

1) IT'S NOT INTOLERANT TO SAY JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY; IT IS TRUTH. While the world looks at Christians sometimes as judgmental or critical, really we are trying to offer hope. Many passages in the Scriptures - such as Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5, Romans 1:16, and John 14:6 - tell us that Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven. As the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins on the Cross, we would be cruel NOT to tell people this life-giving fact.

2. WE ALL NEED SAVED. We are all born with a sinful nature that puts us in the sights of God's wrath and judgement. Our disobedience to God's law separates us from His holiness. It is only through the payment of death for those sins that God's wrath can be satisfied.

3. MY PART IN SALVATION IS ACCEPTANCE, BELIEF AND CONFESSION. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." John 3:16 tells us that eternal life is for all who "believe". Romans 10:9 tells us that to be saved we must "confess with our mouths" and "believe in our hearts."

I pray that as we have gone through this series that some of your questions have been answered. And while you might not still have them all answered, I pray that you have come to understand that God is real, that Jesus is His Son and that you need Christ's sacrifice and resurrection in order to have life.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


So the questions keep coming in our Question Box each week. While there's a wide variety from silly to serious, it is interesting to see trends in questions occur. One of the most frequent questions I'm currently receiving revolve around being AWESOME:

"Why am I so awesome?"
"Why is (student's name here) so awesome?"
"When God made me did he put in extra awesome?"

I love these questions. The simple answer is because you are made in God's image. In the first two chapters of Genesis we see God speak the rest of creation into existence, but He hand crafted mankind, making us to reflect Himself.

In Psalm 139 (if you've never read this Psalm you should stop reading this and go do so immediately) the author reflects on this fact:

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

So we are awesome only because God is awesome. So our challenge is to live lives that reflect Him so that He gets the glory.

Looking forward to tonight's fresh batch of questions! Keep 'em coming!

Friday, February 14, 2014


This past Wednesday night, Randell Boggs (pictured here back in the day rocking out with his cohort Tyler...sort of) shared with our youth group on the common question: WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN? I so enjoyed his teaching - from the great questions to the thought's from Carlos Whittaker's blog to using 80s rock ballads as a foundation for truth.

But I most enjoyed the simple, logical train of thought he used from the Scripture to help understand where God is at in all of these tough things of life. Here's a recap:

God didn't create the world with suffering. Genesis 1:31-and God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Sin came into the world when Adam & Eve chose to disobey God's protective command.

Through sin and selfish choices, evil is born. 2 Chronicles 12:14 says "and he did evil for he did not set his heart to seek The Lord."

The results of this are Moral evil - evil that results from human selfish desires - and Natural Evil - fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornadoes. Romans 8:22-For we know that the whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth until now.

So if God didn't create sin and evil and suffering, where is He when those things are going on in our lives? Romans 8:28 tells us "and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."

See, because of the fallen nature of sin, we will face tough things in this life. But the good news is that we have a loving God who is with us through those things and will eventually overcome them for us if we trust Him. Jesus puts it best in John 16:33- I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, comments or further questions.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


In case you wanted to see that video from tonight again...


Winter appears to be giving us a break for the rest of the week. It has been so cold and miserable the last week or so, my family has just stayed inside as close to the fire as possible. The picture to the right is from last year's archive because we haven't even wanted to venture out.

But as school and church are back in session tonight and we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I thought a good question to answer from the question box this week would be:


Now scientifically this seems counterintuitive, since the days are actually shorter during the winter and longer in the summer. However, I believe Albert Einstein put it best:

"When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour.”

Definitely he is on to something, as when you are busy enjoying yourself at the lake, barbecuing, spending warm evenings outside with friends and family, time goes by quickly. But when you are stuck inside with nothing to do, time drags on.

However, I believe Scripture gives us another view of the winter.

Genesis 18:22 tells us: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Isaiah 55:10-12 says: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire. And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

And Psalm 74:17 says: “It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter.

All of this tells us a few things. One, God is in control. He made the seasons. So, if He made the seasons, it would stand to reason that there is a reason! Two, in order for us to survive, there must be a rhythm of planting, growing, harvesting, furloughing and repeat, so that we can have food. But third, and maybe most important to us, that all requires a time of rest, both for land and worker. God sets that model from the beginning when he challenged us to rest on the seventh day. Then throughout Scripture He continues to challenge us to take not just weekly, but seasonal and annual times of rest.

So God's desire is for you to use the long downtime of winter to reflect, rest, read, renew, so that when new life comes in the spring you are a ready to be a part of it.

So I pray that you used your last few snow days to rest and I pray that you are ready for what God has next in your life!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


We will be returning to our Youth series "DON'T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR" next Wednesday (weather permitting) with Randell Boggs sharing on the question "WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN?"

In this interim week, I thought I'd take a moment to share some of the resources available to you to further study the big questions you have about God, faith, religion, etc.

* – World View Ministries is an organization aimed at helping young people define their worldview. It includes blogs, articles and videos on various related topics
* - Ravi Zacharias Ministries includes an enormous library of faith and reason related articles and media.
* - This is the website for Ken Ham, who debated Bill Nye on the issue of Creation vs. Evolution last night. Lots of good science and Bible resources.
* - This online Christian media resource is free to anyone in our church. You simple need to give us your email so we can get you added. Then you will have access to thousands of video resources. Specific to the topics of Big Questions of the Faith would be these series: DOCTRINE with Francis Chan; APOLOGETICS with Matt Chandler; or TRUE U: DOES GOD EXIST? with Dr. Stephen Meyer.

Now if you are more of a "paper-and-ink" sort of a person, here are some books I'd recommend:

*Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler: “DON’T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR”
*Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow: “IS GOD JUST A HUMAN INVENTION?”
*J.P. Moreland and Mark Matlock: “SMART FAITH”

Let me know if you check out any of these and find something you like or have questions.

Friday, January 31, 2014


This piece of graffiti was found in the aftermath of the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, MO.

The red "X" and writing is from rescue teams who tirelessly searched through debris. The phrase written over it in black is someone's encouragement to those who suffered such loss.

It is in times of crisis that such questions of purpose and level of God's involvement come to the surface. But if the truth would be told, many of us daily have questions in the back of our mind on this topic.

This past Wednesday, we hit on this age old question: DOES GOD HAVE A PLAN FOR ME?

As Josh Brown shared his testimony and thoughts on the subject, I jotted down some thoughts and Scriptures I wanted to share in recap:

1)What is the GOSPEL? Josh referred to the life-changing power the Gospel has had in his life. I wanted to make sure we all had a basic understanding of that term. It is a reference to a New Testament term that means "good news" or "good message". It generally refers to the message of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Ultimately, it is this Good News, or Gospel, that we must come to understand in order to be forgiven of our sins and become a follower of Christ. It encompasses us understanding our inherent sinful nature and how short we fall in the face of God's glory. Once we come to understand that fact, we must then understand that our sinfulness separates us from a holy God. But God, in His infinite love and grace, sent His Son Jesus (who is also fully God) to die as a substitution for our payment of sin. Upon being dead and in the grave three days, Jesus (of His own power) rose from the dead and defeated death for all who believe in Him. If you'd like to know more about this awesome truth, let me know and I'd love to share with you.

2) What is a "CALLING" and how do I know if I have one? Again, Josh referred to the calling that God has placed on His life. I believe we all have a calling. In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul says to all of the Christians in that city: ""I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called". It goes on to talk about how we each have gifts and abilities and leanings that God intends to use for his church and his kingdom. So the question then is to figure out what that is for ME. While it's not exactly a formula, there are several things I believe we should consider as we try to discern our unique calling:

-WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? God will never call us to do something contrary to His Word.
-WHAT ARE MY GIFTS? God has equipped you with natural and spiritual abilities that are a part of what He wants for you to do.
-WHAT DO GODLY PEOPLE SAY? We should seek the counsel of godly people in our life as we discern God's path for us.
-WHAT DO CIRCUMSTANCES POINT TO? This is not always a conclusive piece of the puzzle, but sometimes opportunities (or the lack of them) might point to God's leading.
-WHAT AM I SENSING IN PRAYER? As you pray about decisions and direction, do you get a sense of what God is trying to tell you? Do you have peace about the decision or direction you are thinking about?

3)What should I be doing about finding God's direction in my life? Well, I think of two specific scriptures in answer to this question.

Matthew 26:39: "And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Am I seeking my will or His will. We need to learn to pray as Jesus prayed.

Colossians 1:9: "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding," We need to commit ourselves to the study of God's truth so that we will have the knowledge to filter our decisions and circumstances.

4) What if I don't like God's plan? There's always that piece of not liking the circumstances we find ourselves in and blaming God for it. But the Bible again has a good answer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: " Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." God tells us that we don't have to like His plan but we have to trust Him. So let's practice giving thanks.

I'd love to hear your comments or questions about any of this. I can't wait to see you all back next week as we talk about "WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN?"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


We continue to just get great questions each week in our Question Box. In case you missed the announcements, here's our gameplan on answering your questions:

1) We will feature a fun video to "answer" a question at the beginning of each week's service.
2)I will post a weekly blog post here answering some of the more serious questions.
3) We will add a week to the end of our series to wrap up and field some of the key questions from the Question Box.

Now for this week's topic...

Last week we answered what continues to be the most common theme of questions. This week I will attempt to answer the second most common: RELATIONSHIPS!

Here are some of the questions we've received:



I'm a YouTube junkie and one of the channels I frequent is juliansmith87. This video of his I believe speaks to us all.

Don't we all wish we could go back with wisdom and insight and redo some of our decisions. Or at the very least we wish that "future us" would come back and tell us what to do! But alas it is not that easy.

The Bible talks alot about relationships. There's all of the purity stuff. Don't have sexual contact with anyone other than your spouse in a marriage covenant relationship. And if you have to ask if it's sexual contact, IT IS! And then there's Jesus challenge in the Sermon on the Mount that if we even think about sex with someone it's the same thing as doing it, so there's a pretty high moral standard that is expected of us in relationships. And in my experience, there are few young people - even Bible-believing, good-intentioned young people - who can avoid the temptation of sexual sin when they spend a lot of alone time together and/or don't set up safeguards and accountability.

Then there's all of the talk about whether or not it's good to get married. Gen 1 obviously tells us that we should get married and have babies ("Be fruitful and multiply") but then the Apostle Paul challenges us in 1 Corinthians 7 to stay single if you can (but only if you can exercise self-control and not burn with passion, which is probably not many of us).

But that still doesn't tell us when or to who to get married. In 2 Corinthians 6 we are challenged to not be yoked together with an unbeliever, so that leads us to believe we should have biblical character in mind when looking for a spouse. In 1 Timothy 5:8 we are told that if we don't care for the needs of the members of our household then we are worse than an unbeliever and are denying Jesus! So that would lead us to think that we should be ready and able to provide for ourselves and a spouse before we think about getting married.

And as for the parent part of it, I want you to know that they are the closest think you have to a "future you" coming back and telling you what to do. They have your best interests in mind when they try to guide your dating life. And, after all, Ephesians 6:1 tells us to obey our parents because IT IS RIGHT!

But ultimately I believe this issue is one of commitment. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." Marriage is no light matter. And most of us know people who have tried it and failed. I believe it is largely because we haven't learned to take seriously our commitments and put others needs above our own.

Until you are willing to do those things and provide for you and your spouse, you really have no business being in a serious relationship, let alone considering getting married.

I would love to hear your questions and responses to this!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


This week we had a great discussion on the topic of the reliability of the Bible.

Here's a recap and some additional thoughts:

1) THE FAULTY TRANSMISSION ARGUMENT: The truth is the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible is very well documented.

The Old Testament Scriptures were preserved through out history by groups of scribes who had a very specific set of guidelines for their transcriptions. Guidelines like copying each individual letter, counting the pages and letters of the entirety of the document, counting the number of times each letter appeared in the text, and calculating the middle letter of the entire Old Testament and counting it from both ends. And if even one error was found, the entire copy was thrown out and they started from scratch. Archaeology has confirmed the accuracy of this process with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940s. In comparing these much older manuscripts (some dating back to the 4th Century BC) with the previous oldest manuscript copies (dating between the 9th & 10th centuries AD), there were only about 1% textual discrepancies.

As for the New Testament, it is the most well documented historical document of its age. The two criteria for reliability of such documents are number of manuscripts and the time between the original writing and the oldest copy. So for comparison, the runner-up in reliability is Homer's Iliad with 643 current oopies, the oldest of which is approximately 500 years removed from the original writing. The New Testament, however, has over 24,000 manuscript copies, the oldest of which is within 30 years of the original writing.

2) THE MYTH & LEGEND ARGUMENT: Both science and logic take us a long way in answering this concern.

Archaeology has over and over again done more to prove the claims of the Bible - people, places, events - than to disprove them. Even seeming inconsistencies often are discredited upon further discoveries such as the cases of the location of Iconium and the use of the political titles "Proconsul" and "Politarch". The Archaeologist William Albright puts it like this:

"The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history."

Additionally, we have the historically verified testimonies of the early church founders who stood up for the claims of the Bible to the point of imprisonment and death. As one of Jesus' followers Peter puts it: "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16)

But even with all of these facts, the truth is there is still a faith element involved - a faith that millions have put their hopes in over the centuries. The central message and bottom line of all of the biblical scriptures is the person of Christ. He is even called "The Word" (John 1:1&14). So for us to really deal with the reliability of the Bible, I believe we must also deal with the question "What do I believe about Jesus?"

So in closing, I challenge you to study the person of Jesus and come to your decision about who He really is. It is then that the issue of the Bible's reliability will be settled for you.

Would love to hear your thoughts and questions.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I hope you enjoyed our intro video tonight on the questions of finding your SOULMATE. I will post later this week on the numerous questions we received about dating and relationships.

However, I wanted to aim my first QUESTION BOX post at the several questions we received regarding emotions, feelings and self-image.

Here are some of the questions I will try to answer:


As with anything, there is really two sides to these questions.

One is the fact that we are a flawed people. We by nature make mistakes, fall short, mess up. And the Bible confirms this: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

So, no matter who you are or how hard you try, you will have times where you fail. God knows this.

And you should feel bad about this. God has set a high standard because our flaws actually separate us from Him. So He has given us His Word to tell us what is right and wrong and He has sent His Spirit to remind us of our need to turn from wrong things. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."

So God shows us our flaws so we might turn to Him.

Now, the other side. God created you. He loves you. You are made in His image. He looks at you as His creation that He loves. That's why He tells you right from wrong. That's why He sent Jesus. That's why He has went to such great lengths to restore a relationship with you.

So in closing, we must rightly access ourselves in view of God's laws so that we might turn to a loving and gracious God who has paid for those mistakes and wants to forgive them and restore us.

I'd love to hear comments or further questions. More QUESTION BOX posts coming soon.

Don't Check Your Brains At the Door...

This week we started our new series: DON'T CHECK YOUR BRAINS AT THE DOOR.

Over the next eight weeks we will attempt to answer some of the biggest questions regarding the Christian faith. We will also be equipping our students on how to respond to questions they receive from others.

Our first week proved to be a lively discussion as we tackled the topic: "IS THERE A GOD?"

While I think we brought up more questions than we answered, I believe it was a good start to what will be a very useful series.

Each week, I will post a recap of the main message points (and the things we didn't get to) in a blog post. That post will then be followed with a post answering any additional questions we received in the Question Box at our Resource Table. Feel free to join in the discussion or post additional questions in the comments section of either of these posts.

Now for the week one recap:

There are four main arguments for the existence of God.

1) COSMOLOGICAL: This is the idea that science and faith both believe that the universe is not infinite, so it must have a beginning. If it has a beginning, then the question that follows is "What started the Universe". Science has several theories but the most widely known is that of the Big Bang. However, over the past several years, scientist's understanding has changed. That change is probably best summed up by physicist Stephen Weinberg's quote:

"In the beginning there was an explosion. Not an explosion like those familiar on Earth...[It was] an explosion which occurred simultaneously everywhere, filling all space from the beginning with every particle of matter rushing apart from every other particle."

This sounds an awful lot like "God said, 'Let there be light and there was light.'" (Genesis 1)

2)TELEOLOGICAL: This speaks to the thought of created things showing that they were created with an "end" in mind. William Paley proposed this with his analogy of walking along and finding a watch on the ground. Because of its SPECIFIED COMPLEXITY it tells us that it was created by an intelligent being with an end purpose in mind.

3) ONTOLOGICAL: This is the thought that if we can think it or desire it, it must be. C.S. Lewis puts it like this: "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist. A baby feels hunger, well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim, well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire, well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

Now, so far, all of these arguments could lead one to believe in a god, of which there are many proposed options. But it is with the last argument that we get specific to the God of the Bible.

4) MORAL ARGUMENT: This comes from the understanding that all people and cultures have a basic understanding of right and wrong. There are no evolutionary reasons that satisfactorily explain this phenomenon. As Romans 2:14-15 points out: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them".

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this post.