Don’t Be Afraid of Suffering

Posted by Phil

Crestridge Slide“HOW MANY TIMES DO I have to tell you?” “If I had a quarter for every time I told you how to do that, I would be rich.” Do these statements sound familiar? Sometimes we just don’t get it, even though something has been explained to us over and over. It just doesn’t click. What is something you just don’t get?

Read Mark 10:32-40. Read verse 39 aloud.
What did James and John ask Jesus?
What was Jesus’ response?

What cup was Jesus going to drink? (What was going to happen to Him?)

What kind of persecution do followers of Christ experience today?
In what ways have you experienced persecution for following Jesus?

If you were to live more boldly for Jesus, what persecution would you experience?

The disciples—how much they remind me of myself! Jesus had told them very specifically what was going to happen to Him, and their only concern was sharing in His greatness. They wanted to rule beside Him in a place of honor. They didn’t get it! They didn’t get that Jesus was going to be persecuted, suffer, and die. They didn’t get that anyone who boldly follows Jesus will also experience persecution and suffering.

Whenever you wholeheartedly live for Jesus, it will offend the world, and you will suffer for your faith. It’s a guarantee! However you are also guaranteed that Jesus loves you, is with you, and will one day reward your faithfulness. That is something Jesus doesn’t mind telling you over and over again. Make sure you
get it!

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The First Shall Be Last…What?

Posted by Melissa

“AMERICAN IDOL.” “America’s Next Top Model.” Paris Hilton’s “My New BFF.” Whether it’s a singer, model, or best friend, the contestants are all trying to be first, the greatest, the one on top. Unfortunately, many Christians have that same idea. We want to be the one who is recognized, honored, and seen as the best. Many would rather sing on the worship team than scrub toilets at the church or go on a “big” mission trip instead of mowing the lawn of the elderly lady next door. When was the last time you did an act of service that few people knew about?

Read Mark 9:33-37 and ponder verse 35.
What did Jesus ask His disciples?
What were they arguing about?
Why do you think they didn’t want to tell Jesus?
What does verse 35 mean?
What do you think is the hardest part about being a servant?
What is one concrete way you can serve another person this week?

Jesus knew what the disciples were arguing about. He knew it was a heart issue; that’s why He nailed them on it. Jesus turned their thinking upside down and their hearts inside out when He told them that in order to be great, they had to be servants to all.

But the kind of service Jesus is talking about isn’t just a summer mission trip, a work day at church, or a service project at camp. It is a lifestyle. It is putting others’ needs before your own. It is quietly serving your parents, classmates, cabin mates, and that crabby neighbor. This week, instead of looking for ways to get noticed, quietly serve someone and let God notice. It’s the way Jesus lived His life on earth—and He is your example.

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Motives Matter

Posted by Melissa

IN TODAY’S VERSE, Jesus makes a big shift on His audience. They were used to the Law, but Jesus started talking about motives. The Pharisees were trying to do all the right things, but their motives were selfish and self-seeking. It’s not just our external behavior that matters, but what’s going on in our heart.

Read Mark 7:10-16 and check out what Jesus said in verse 16.
Have you ever done the right thing for the wrong reason?
Does that honor God? Why or why not?
What does today’s passage teach you about that?
How do we break God’s laws to follow tradition?
Does society pressure you to accept behavior that is wrong?
What should you do in that situation?

The Pharisees valued being right and making sure everyone obeyed. Jesus finished His teaching with a simple statement—if you have ears, you should listen. Everyone has ears, but not everyone listens. We can focus so much on what we think we should be doing that we never stop to listen to what Jesus says to do. Jesus desires a relationship with us. And out of that relationship flows obedience to His commands. When we spend time in His Word and prayer, we will be more like Him. Legalism comes out of pride and selfishness. When we read the Bible and apply it to everyone else, we have missed the point. When we apply it to our lives, we’ll find the great things God has in store.

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Keep Your Eyes on Christ

Posted by Melissa

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A GOOD IDEA that turned bad? I know I have, and many other people have, too. That’s why we have the old saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
In today’s passage, the Pharisees had a good plan. They set up laws and traditions so that they wouldn’t violate God’s laws. The problem came when their laws became more important that God’s, and they began to judge others. We call that legalism. Jesus called it the “tradition of men.” Either way, it’s bad.

Read Mark 7:1-9 and think carefully about verses 8 and 9.
What was Jesus’ problem with the Pharisees? Why is that a big deal?
What does it mean to honor God with our lips while our hearts are far from Him?
 Do you talk about how others are acting?
 Do you find yourself judging others by their behavior?
 Do you find yourself fighting with others about their behavior?
 Does any of that bring glory to God?

Obedience to God’s laws is a great thing, and you should always follow Christ. You should always look for ways to apply God’s laws to your life. It’s also OK to keep people accountable, talk to them about their struggles, and pray for one another. The problem comes when we begin to judge others.

When we judge others, when we cause fights and conflicts, it causes separation between us and God. When we are focused on others, we are not focused on God. We begin to focus on what we think, what the other people are doing, and how they are behaving. It’s hard to keep your eyes on Jesus when you are watching everyone else.

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Fear Not

Posted by Melissa

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN freaked out? Ever walked up to your cabin after dark?  Ever been outside at night when it was stormy? Can you imagine being in a boat during that same storm? Imagine: it’s windy, so the boat is moving around, and it’s dark so you can’t see well. Suddenly, you see a figure coming toward you . . . walking on the water. This is what happened to the disciples at 3 a.m. one day, according to the Bible. They were tired, it was dark and stormy, and there came Jesus. They thought it was a ghost, since they had never seen anyone walk on water. Frightening!

Read Mark 6:45-52. Carefully consider verse 50b.
What do these verses teach you about Jesus’ power?
When things got out of control out on the sea, what was the disciples’ first reaction?
What is your first reaction when life whirls out of control?

 Of what are you afraid?

 Why does it scare you?
How do you think God can use that fear to help you grow?

 Will you trust God in that situation?

Sometimes we get scared. We can be afraid about the future or the things in our lives. Life is uncertain. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re never going to be scared or frightened or feel faithless. The Bible tells us that when we mourn, we mourn with hope. I would also say that when we are afraid, we are afraid with hope. We have hope and comfort in the fact that God is for us and working in us. We experience things that make us afraid, but we can use those situations. Have courage and trust that God will bring you through the dark times.

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It’s Not About Rules

Posted by Melissa

GOD CREATED us for relationships. We were created with a need to interact with other people.  Why do you come back to camp year after year?  One reason is probably because of the relationships you built in your cabin. We were also created with a need to interact with God Himself. God desires to spend time with us and develop a relationship with us. In order for us to know Him, we must spend time with Him. When we feel the desire to pray or read the Bible, we need to realize it is God pursuing us. It is our choice to respond.

Read Mark 2:23-28. What does verse 27 mean to you?
Why were the Pharisees (religious leaders) so upset with Jesus?
What was Jesus’ response to their criticism?
According to Jesus, who was the Sabbath made for (v. 27)?
What does this tell you about the purpose of Sundays?
Ask yourself, “Why do I go to church?”

The Pharisees were so caught up in the rules and regulations of religion that they had lost sight of God. They had become more concerned about the rules than they were about people. Jesus allowed the disciples to pick heads of grain because they were hungry. Jesus had compassion for those around Him and didn’t allow himself to get caught up in the do’s and don’ts of religion.

It is all about relationships. When you read about Jesus, you see that He spent time living out what love meant. He didn’t throw around a list of rules. Rather He showed them the mercy and grace of a loving Father by being a living example. Do you?

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See the World Through HIS Eyes

Posted by Melissa

HE SITS NEXT TO YOU IN CLASS, the weird kid with tattoos and a nose piercing. She is in your cabin, the introvert with no friends and thrift store clothes. Each day you are surrounded by people who are different from you and maybe even a little strange. Do you interact with them? Do you try to develop relationships with them? Or do you shut them out and focus only on those with whom you feel comfortable? God has placed you on a mission field—your school campus, your community, your tribe/village at camp. There is a reason you are surrounded by these people. Are you asking God why?

Read Mark 2:15-17. Zone in on verse 17.
According to verse 17, who is it that Jesus came to save?

 Whom did He classify as the sick?

 How does that affect you?
What do these verses tell you about Christ’s character?

 How does Jesus express love to these people?

 How can you follow His example toward those who are different?

Jesus loved sinners. He hung out with them on a regular basis. And He didn’t wait for them to come to Him; rather, He went to them. In today’s passage, we find Him hanging out with the tax collectors and sinners. The religious leaders of the time, the Pharisees, were upset by the fact that Jesus was eating with these outcasts. They saw it as a repulsive act, but Jesus looked beyond the sin and society’s norms and saw the heart of the sinners. He saw their need and reached out to them. Jesus had compassion for their lostness.

We need to have compassion for those around us. Instead of only seeing the surface, we need to see them with the eyes of Christ, who gave His life to save us. All of us.

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