Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Momentum Vids

Hey Guys

Daniel is feverishly working on the Momentum video, but in the meantime you can check out his youth web site at

click on the backstage link and scroll to momentum to see some video of Ryan McGann in top form.

Also, if you click on "blogging" at the bottom of the page and click on Momentum, you can see some of good ol' mo!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Characteristics and Attitudes of Godly Giving

Wednesday Night Bible Study Recap
11/30/06 & 12/13/06
2 Corinthians 8 & 9

So, here we are in the season of giving. So, what does it mean to give in a Godly way? Well, here are 5 Characteristics of Godly Giving and 5 Attitudes of Godly Giving that have been discussed over the past few weeks on Wednesday nights.

Characteristics of Godly Giving:

1. Sacrificial (8:3)
2. Voluntary (8:3)
3. Eager (8:4)
4. Purposeful (8:4)
5. Surrendered (8:5)

Attitudes of Godly Giving:

1. Generous (9:6)
2. Convicted (9:7)
3. Cheerful (9:7)
4. Expectant (9:8-11)
5. Awed (9:12-13)

Progressive Dinner 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Living Dead

Flood Zone Recap
December 10, 2006

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "death"? Is it a tombstone? A coffin? A knife, sword, or gun? What about a cross?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "life"? Is it a baby? Aliens? An empty tomb? A flower?

Whatever you thought of, those things were probably opposites. Why? Because life and death are opposites.

How would you define "death"? Here is a short definition: without life. Ok, duh! How about, no longer able to participate or be active in life.

Romans 6:1-9 talks about our death...our death to sin...and the impact that has on our life. When you die to something, or something or someone is dead to you, then that means that it no longer exists to you. It is not longer something that you will be active in or participate in.

Those who are followers of Christ claim to have died to sin. But we so often revisit that sin, are active in it, and participate in that sin that we actually haven't truly died to it. Why not? Why should we really die to it.

Because life is on the other side. What type of life? That's what Romans 6 is going to tell us.

V4-New Life-If we don't get rid of the sin, then there will be no room for new growth of anything beneficial. Just like the trees lose their leaves to provide a place for new growth, and bushes are pruned to provide for a more healthy plant, the removal of sin from our lives provides room for God to work something new.

V5-Assured life-This is life along the same order as Christ's ressurection: amazing, miraculous, glorious, shocking, joyful, complete, and the list can go on and on.

V6-7-Free life-When we are slaves to sin, we are giving oursleves over to being beaten by the devil every day. Christ has FREED us from that bondage, but we still choose to return to the beatings! How stupid are we? Live FREE!

V8-9-Eternal life-Forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, forever, and ever, and ever and ever, forever, and ever, and ever, and get the idea!

We cannot worship God with all we are and all we have if we are still living to sin! We have to be dead to sin…no longer revisiting it, participating in it and active in it.

This week, every day, spend time thinking about when and how you have been alive to sin. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how and when you have been alive to sin, and then repent, die to it again and again and again, knowing that what’s on the other side is so much better-New, Assured, Free, and Eternal life!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Bowl III

Well, The Day of Turkey has ended, and Turkey Bowl III has played out.

The final score?

Faith Fusion 21
Mean Machine 6

Congrats to Mike Wade, Jacob McQuaine, Caitlin Everett, Brandy Dillion, Drew & Nathan Roethlisberger, Ryan, Bill R. Sr., Dennis Craft, Mr. Craft, Kelly Dillion, Max Ross, Ryan (Betty's Grandson), and Jeffrey Hibbert.

It was a great game, and we look forward to next year!

Enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Making the Right Choice

Flood Zone Recap
Sunday, November 12, 2006

Last week we talked about how God has a specific direction for our lives, for us to look like the masterpieces he's created us to be. We have to head down the right path to end up looking like that masterpiece, and we have to make the right decisions. So, how do we make those right decisions?

Questions to Ask Yourself When Making Decisions:

1. Have you prayed about it according to God's will? (Matthew 26:36-42, 1 Kings 18:18-40)

2. Are you making your decision based on Biblical reasons and Biblical priorities? (Matthew 6:33-34, Philippians 3:3, 7-11)

3. Are you compormising your faith? (Luke 19:2-10, Matthew 26:69-74)

4. Are you using your talents and gifts God has given you? (Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 12:3-8)

5. Are you respecting or neglecting your other God-given responsibilities? (Hebrews 10:23-25, 2 Timothy 2:3-5, Titus 2:1-10, Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5:15-33)

6. Are you trusting the Holy Spirit's guidance? (Acts 8:26-31, John 16:13-14)

Excited about Sorrow

Bible Study Recap
Wednesday November 8, 2006
2 Corinthians 7:1-12

Here is a quick recap of the main points from last Wednesday's Bible Study!

What is true repentance?

1. True repentance is encouraged by Godly REBUKE. (v8)
2. True repentance cannot exist without GODLY SORROW. (v8-10)
3. True repentance is always followed by ACTION. (v11)

Rebuke is not fun, but it is necesary. If we do not experience rebuke, either by a trusted Christian brother or sister or by the Holy Spirit, then we don't hav the opportunity for restoration and healing.

Sin is hard on our lives. It stresses us and depresses us. We should be happy to have our sin exposed and rebuked and rejoice in the Godly sorrow that it produces. Why? Because that is what leads to true repentance, healing (salvation), and action.

In the words of Derek Webb from the intro to his song "I Repent" on the album "The House Show":
"The best thing that could ever happen to anybody in this room, the best thing, is that your sin would be literally exposed on the 5:00 order that I could not, I did not even have the option to hid from you anymore. In order that I had nothing but Jesus to grasp onto, because that's all I've got anyway."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Closer Look: Halloween

Flood Zone Recap

If you weren't at the Flood Zone Sunday night then you missed an opportunity to talk about this question:

Is it OK for Christians to Celebrate Halloween?

While we may not have come to a final decision, we did discuss some points about Halloween's past and some truths from scripture about things we should avoid.

Here's a quick (controversial) history of Halloween. (You can find a more detailed version at

Halloween can be traced by to the Celtic (the Celts are a people group in England) holdiay called Samhain.

Their new year was celebrated on November 1. This marked the change in seasons from life (summer) to death (winter).

They believed that the dead from the previous year (and possibly other times) would wander from this life to the next.

As Christianity spread, they looked to put away the pagan practices of Samhain.

In 834 AD, Gregory III moved a Christian holidy, All Saint's Day (a time to honor all the Saint's that didn't have a day of their own...kind of like President's day) which was normally celebrated on May 13 to November 1.

This made October 31 All Hallow's Eve (Hallow means Saint), which was shortened to Hallow's Evening and then Halloween.

Some of our customs of Halloween can be possibly traced back to the traditions of Samhain:

Costumes-presumably, the celtic people, out of fear of what the bad spirit's would do to them, would dress as the spirits, demons, etc to keep the spirits from playing tricks on them.

Bonfires-comes from the phrase "bone fire" which represents the priestly sacrificial fires that the druids (the celtic priests) would burn to encourage the God's to bring back the light of the sun.

Handing out Candy-The people of the celtic villages would leave fruit, nuts, and meats out to appease the spirits that were coming to their houses (apparently dead people get hungry)

The actual american practice of Trick-or-Treating probably didn't start until the 1930's or 1940's as a response to all of the vandalism and mischief that was going on during Halloween night. Communities were looking for ways to get kids out of chaos and into organized clean fun, and halloween costume parties with trick-or-treating was the way they did it.

What does the Bible have to say about Halloween?

Since Halloween as we know it has not been around for very long, the Bible doesn't say anyting specific about it. But what it does talk about are specific practices that sometimes take place on Halloween.

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 warns us not to IMITATE the evil ways of the people, including but not limited to: human sacrifice, sorcery, witchcraft, mediums, calling on the dead, casting spells, etc. So, if this is a normal part of Halloween practice, Christians should not be a part of it...not even imitating it (with costumes or decorations of devils, demons, witches, etc.)

3 John 1:11 warns us not to imitate in action these evil things, but to seek to do good. This means that we should not be involved in the "mischief" that goes on during Halloween (egging, smashing pumpkins, bashing mailboxes, stealing candy, etc.)

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of timid fear. We also should not be instilling in others a spirit of timid fear. So, if scary movies give you nightmares, or haunted houses make you scared to go into a dark room, stay away from it! Satan wants us to be afraid, but we have no reason to fear anything that he can do (because God is ultimately in control!)

So, the bottom line: Should Christians celebrate Halloween.

It depends. Halloween can be a night of great fun, great evil, or a mix of both. As Christians, we should be taking whatever opportunity there is to minister to our neighbors, and Halloween is one night we can do that. We must, however, be certain to present the light, love, and truth of Christ in the midst of this historically dark night. We should not be involved in anything that imitates evil or anything that instills fear. Those are definites...the rest, for now, is up to you.

I'll close with a quote from John Fischer, a Christian columnist. This is just food for thought...I am not taking sides!

"Why allow those [darker elements] to drive me away from my home on a night I am guaranteed to have visitors? Which is more of a victory for Satan, I wonder--a shinign Jack-o-lantern and five costumed kids at my door, or a dark house where the light should be?"

Wherever you come down on the halloween debate, know this: Satan wants us to hide from the culture so that we have no influence. God wants us engaged in the culture, WITHOUT COMPROMISE, leading them out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What Does Gertrude Like?

Wednesday Night Bible Study Recap
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Try to figure out the patter:

Gertrude likes the Mission Impossible, but hates Lord of the Rings.
Gertrude likes Days of Thunder, but hates Cars.
Gertrude likes Minority Report, but hates Lethal Weapon.

Figured it out yet? That's right! Gertrude likes movies with Tom Cruise (for some unknown reason) and hates movies without Tom Cruise.

But should we care what Gertrude likes if we were trying to witness to her? (If you find yourself asking, "who is Gertrude", she, or he, is whoever, whenever, and wherever you may be trying to reach someone with the Gospel.)

So, here's the question: To what extent should the way we try to witness to someone be influenced by their likes and dislikes? For instance, should we try to dress, act, and speak like a group of people we are trying to witness to, almost like an "undercover cop"?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22 Paul says that he has "become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some."

What does this mean? What lengths was Paul willing to go to to have his message heard? Would he ever allow his method of sharing Christ to cause him to cross over into sin? If Paul were trying to witness to a college fraternity in 2006, would he party with the best of them? If Paul were trying to witness to a homosexual, would he act as a homosexual? If he were trying to witness to a group of high school students, would he try to join in their innapropriate conversations, using the same innapropriate language?

It is important that we try to relate the Gospel to those we are speaking, but not at the price of the actual truthfulness of the message, or compromising our own position in Christ.

See, sometimes we can get so caught up in this idea that "people are only going to listen to me if I can show that I relate to them" that we end up becoming just like them, discarding the "new creation" that Christ has made us for the same old slavery to sin. This completely messes up the message. All this does is show those people that "Chrsitians are just like me and I have no need to change."

On the other hand, if we pay no attention to where someone is in their lives, the Gospel may seem irrelavent.

If the Gospel is relevant to your life, how you are living every day, then the difference that it makes in your life, and can make in other people's lives, will be seen by those who are around you.

I encourage you to find ways to relate the Gospel, the truth about a free life, free from sin, death and despair, the truth about being created brand new, to the people that are around you.


Don't compromise the message, the truth, or you own position as a new creature in Christ, for the sake of being accepted by a particular group of people.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Luther @ the Flood Zone

If you missed the last two Flood Zones then you missed the 2 parts of a great movie, Luther. If you came the first week and not the second week, then you missed the moving culmination of what Luther's work was all about.

We have the church and Bible we have today because of Luther and the reformers. These guys were willing to give their lives, not just for their faith, but literally for the Bible in a language that regular people could understand.

Do you enjoy reading the bible in english? If so, praise God for a man like Luther, who took on the established church and all its lies and translated the Bible into a language the people could understand so that they could know what the Gospel really says!

Luther, a man referred to by the Roman Catholic Church as a "drunken little monk", seemingly insignificant, turned the world upside down for TRUTH!

Are your schools full of Truth? Probably not! And here we stand, seemingly insignificant, but with the most important job in the world, as ministers of reconciliation, and here we stand, with numerous copies of the Bible in our houses, and yet our world is not being turned upside down for TRUTH! Why not?!? Because of what we might lose? Because of our fear? Because of our reputation? Because of our comfort?

We must take the example of men like Luther, willing to give everything for the sake of getting Truth in the hands of more and more people! There are hundreds...thousands...millions in our world that no nothing of Truth, and we have it. So let's give it to them!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

How to Overflow

So, the Flood Zone now exists, but for what point?

The point of The Flood Zone is to weekly give you guys an opportunity to dip into the wells of salvation, be filled, and then overflow all over your schools, friends, and families.

Yes, I do want you to picture yourself spewing water all over the people you see everyday! (That is spiritual water) You should be soaking the people around you with the overflow of the work of God in your life. But you have to be filled first.

If you want to know the how and they why of the Flood Zone, check out Isaiah 12.

So, How are We Filled?

1. By Having a Heart of Gratitude (v1)
But what do we have to be thankful for? If nothing else, salvation and Jesus should keep us saying "thank you" through this life and all eternity. God was angry with us, but his anger has turned to comfort!

2. By Trusting God and Not Fearing (v2)

3. By Remembering What God Has Done for Us. (v3)

So, How do we Overflow?

1. Praise God in Front of Other People (v4)

2. Have a Song of Praise on Your Lips & In Your Mind. (v5)

3. Don't Touch the Glory! Don't Keep Your Praise Silent! (v6)

But, WHY do we Overflow?

Because Great in Your Midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Only He can fill us! Only He is worthy of praise! Only He can give hope to your school, your friends, and your family! Only He!

So, go ahead, spew all over them!

Remembering Momentum...Again

So, here we are 3 1/2 months removed from Momentum '06. Does it still linger in your thoughts? Do you still long for the hours of Bible study? Do you still chuckle at the thought of a flaming puppet named Mo?

How has Momentum affected you for the long run? This summer was probably easy to hold up what God taught you at Momentum, but now the school year has started. How have things changed? What are you struggling with? What is God challenging you to remember and apply to your life from that week in Tennessee?

Let's not let the spiritual momentum that we gained for that week in TN slow to a crawl, or even a stop, just because we are now in the very place where we need to DAILY live it out!

We can encourage each other to continue to press forward, remembering that we are in the Far Country and need to tell as many people about home as possible!

Post your thoughts, your memories, your struggles, you victories resulting from momentum here.

The Flood Zone: The Beginning

Man, what a great first night! It was everything I hoped it would be! It was great to see all of you guys come out and get excited about the new things going on with H2O. Don't forget, this Sunday is the Unbirthday Party, but also an invite night for your friends at the Flood Zone. We will be watching the first half of Luther, and it's a unique way for your friends to hear the truth about Jesus!

See you guys this weekend!

Here are some pics from the first night at The Flood Zone. Thanks, Courtney, for taking a lot of them!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why are you Speaking?

Wednesday Night Recap
Step by Step Through 2 Corinthians Part IX
2 Corinthians 4:13-15

Finish this sentence:

I Believe...

You can finish it with anything you are a few from Wednesday night:
Courtney: I believe that chocolate milk is gross.
Christie: I believe that David Crowder and Derek Webb are the greatest songwriters ever.
Brian D.: I believe that Courtney is wrong.
Evan: I believe that UVA is the greatest sports team ever (or something like that)

When you believe something, are you going to stay quiet about it? Of course not! If someone tried to give Courtney chocolate milk, you know she is going to say something about it being nasty!

The question is...Why do/should we speak about the extraordinary presence of Christ in our clay pot lives?

Why? We Speak Because We Believe
What do you and your friends spend most of your time talking about? You can map it out on a pie chart if you want to so you can get a visual image of how much time you spend talking about tv shows, movies, bands, celebrities, clothes, school, work, family, friends, gossip, church, sports, etc.

Why do we talk about these things? They are important to us! They are what we believe in!

Read 2 Corinthians 4:13

What is the natural outflow of belief? Words and actions

We have the same "spirit" or "vital principles" of faith that have been passed down for generations.
Truth 1: The Vital Princiles of faith do not change. (v13)

"We believe, consequently, we speak"
Truth 2: Storng belief leads to regular speech. (v13)

Why?? We Speak Because we Have Hope

There are so many activist groups in our world that are spending their time talking about things that have absolutely NO eternal significance. Here are a few examples:

*The Global Pastry Uprising (Pie-throwing activism)
*Austin Adopt-a-Minefield Campaign
*The GeekCorps
*Americans United for Separation
*National Association for Socially Responsible Organizations
*The Beard Liberation Front

Yet, here we are holding the key to eternal hope, peace, and life and are keeping it very quiet. It's not that we never say anything, it's that we don't say it very much.

What hope do we have? Read Psalm 116:5-9 and 2 Corinthians 4:14

Jesus substantiantes our claim for eternity. He is going to stand with the believers as proof that we are to spend eternity in the presense of God.

Truth 3: Being presented with Jesus substantiates our claim to eternity. (v14)

Who will be standing there with me, with you?

Why??? We speak becuase we are jealous for God's praise.

This doesn't mean that we want to steal God's praise away from him, but that we know there is a lot of praise that is misdirected, not going to God, who deserves all of it. First we must look at our lives and make sure that we are praising him in all things, not stealing any of that praise, and then we speak of the hope that we have, the grace that has been shown to us, so that more and more people will give thanks, to the glory of God.

Read verse 15.

Truth 4: As grace spreads, thanksgiving grows. (v15)
Truth 5: As thanksgiving grows, God is glorified more and more. (v15)

So, Why are you speaking...or better yet, why aren't you speaking?

Dispelling the Myth

Sunday Night Recap
The O.T. Part XVI
Genesis 37-45

Have you ever heard that:

*The nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Rosie" is a coded reference to the black plague?
*Rat urine is toxic to humans?
*Penguins fall over on their backs trying to see airplanes flying overhead?
*Mr. Ed was a horse?
*Bubble Yum chewing gum contains spider eggs?
*Eating trukey makes people especially sleepy?
*Your stomach will explode if you mix pop-rocks & soda?
*Gum takes 7 years to pass through your digestive system?
*Toilets flush clockwise in the northern hemisphere & counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere?

These are all common myths or urban legends (and there are a ton can check them out at

And no matter how strongly you may believe they are true, they are actually all false!

There is also one myth that is associated with Chrsitianity that needs to be dispelled. Have you ever heard someone say, "just accept Christ and all your troubles will go away. Your life will be perfect." Is that true or false? How do you know its false? If you are a believer in Christ, you know that you still have bad days and suffer through tough situations. Our lives aren't perfect. People still die around us, people still hate us for who we are and what we stand for, we still get sick, we still get bad grades sometimes, we still lose basketball games, so life is not perfect.

But do you know what is perfect? God! Despite what we go through, we can have the confidence that God is still in control, even in the tough times. But what is our responsibility in those tough times?


How do you respond during the tough situations of life? Do you respond with trust and confidence that God knows what he's doing? Do you respond with joy, peace, and hope or anxiety, worry, and despair?

As you read Genesis 37-45 you will see the story of a man named Joseph who faced hatred by his brothers, enslavement, false imprisonment, being forgotten about and the threat of famine. But, how did he respond? Through all of this, he still realized that God was with him, and at the end of it all, his words were these:

"And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; FOR GOD sent me bofere you to preserve life...AND GOD sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance." Genesis 45:5, 7

What is your attitude, your response in the wake of the struggles that come into everybody's lives? Are you responding with trust that God isn't surprised by what's going on and that He still has everything under control?

Think about this: What if Joseph's response had been different?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

E4 is Here!!!

Essential Element: Emphasising Evangelism

E4 is here, and I hope you are excited. I know I am EXTREMELY excited about what God is going to do through your guys this year.

Do you realize that when Christie and I first moved here H2O had students from one school, and one school only (BHS) and now, 5 1/2 years later, God has expanded the influence of H2O Student Ministries to at least 8 schools!!! (Bluestone High & Middle, Park View High & Middle, Randolph Henry, Crossroads Christian, Centerville Christian, and Halifax Christian)

Do you know what that means??? That means that the reach of H2O to share the gospel goes clear across Mecklenburg County and even into three neighboring counties. YOU can have an incredible influence this year and start a revival in this area, your Jerusalem & Judea, for Christ!

E4 will provide opportunities for you to bring friends to a place where they can see Christians having a good time and where they can hear the TRUTH about Jesus. I know there are a lot of events planned, and I know that you can't go to all of them, but commit now to being a part of AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE over the next four months, praying EVERYDAY that God will use E4 to start a revival among the students of Virginia.

Are your ready? E4 Needs YOU and your beautiful feet!

Romans 10:13-15
For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pimp My Glory

Wednesday Night Bible Study Recap
August 16, 2006
2 Corinthians 3:6-18

A New Law by Derek Webb

Remember the song we were talking about during our Old Covenant/New Covenant discussion of 2 Corinthians 3 last week? Here it is!

Remember the veil that the law puts over people's eyes to miss the point of freedom in the's a great song and video to depict that.

Many of us have traded the blindfold of sin for the blindfold of living in the obsolete glory of the Law. We have missed the whole joy of salvation: living in and trusting the Spirit to guide us into truth and righteousness through life.

Many Christians still live under the Law because it's "easier". Notice all the "don't teach me..." lines (about moderation and liberty, about politics, about freedom, about truth and beauty...etc.) See, when we live in the freedom of the spirit, there is more studying to do to see what it truly means to be like Christ. That's part of the idea behind sanctification and becoming more like Christ! If it were just about living up to a list, then we may have the wrong idea that we can take our salvation into our own hands!

Is living in the Spirit easy? In a sense, no, because it takes diligent study, the use of our intellect, humility and repentance. All of this goes agianst our tendency toward apathy and our follow the crowd, make it easy for me, instant gratification mindset.

Here's a recap of the Truths we learned from 2 Corinthians 3:6-18:

Truth 1: God wants us to know that we're sinful. (v6)
The job of the Law is to show us our utter inability to follow it. This shows us that salvation has to come from oursdie of ourselves. God wants us to know that we are sinful so that we will seek him out.

Truth 2: The Ministry of the Letter leaves us borken and hopeless because it's glory fades. (v6-7)
Because the Law shows us our sinfulness, it leaves us broken and hopeless becuase we know we could never fulfill the law perfectly. Thankfully, God has provided a way for redemption, first through the sacrifice of animals, and finall through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Through him, and only through him, we then find hope in the Spirit.

Truth 3: The Ministry of the Spirit gives us hope and peace because it's glory abounds. (v8-9)
Why does the Ministry of the Spirit abound? Because it's saving power does not depend on us AT ALL! It's all God's work in us. The law depends on our actions. It kills because we break it. The Spirit saves because God works through it.

Truth 4: Whatever glory the Letter did have is now gone. (v10-11)
When Jesus came he fulfilled the law. Is the law still importan? Sure, because it still reveals our sinfulness and shows us the sorts of actions that please God. However, the heart of worship behind our actions is more important. Daily worshiping in Spirit and Truth, seeking to follow Jesus, pleases God in a way that simply following the Law never can. Jesus fulfilled the Law. He made it complete. He is perfect, so we can trust Him for salvation.

Truth 5: The hope of the Spirit makes our speech bold. (v12-13)
The hope of the Spirit is something worth talking about...because it actually involves HOPE! That is why we should be bold in speaking's worth being bold about!

Truth 6: If we focus on the Law we miss the real glory. (v14-16)
This is like someone being amazed by the light of the moon, never having seen the true source of the light, the sun! How amazed would he be to see the glory of the sun that outshines the "glory" of the moon by millions! Focus on the source of the light, not just the reflection.

Truth 7: The Spirit molds us into the image of the glory of Christ. (v17-18)
Where the Law only convicts, in the case of sin, the Spirit not only convicts but teaches and molds us into the image of Christ. Live in the Spirit and when you feel conviction, humbly repent and make the life changes that He is urging you to make. This is the essence of sanctification, becoming more like Christ.

Do not be afraid.
To take a step of faith unlike anyone in your family (or maybe even church) has ever taken.

Do not be afraid.
To use your God-given intellect to study His word and learn straight from the source what it means to have the mind of Christ.

Do not be afraid.
To trust the Spirit to save you, not your obedience to a set of rules (of which you could NEVER live up to anyway!)

Do not be afraid.
To have your long-held beliefs challenged or confirmed by the Word of God.

Do not be afraid.
To look into the true light and glory instead of still focusing on just the fading reflection.

Do not be afraid.
To trust the Spirit to give you the courage and words to share the freedom and hope of Christ to a world dying while trying to follow the Law.

Do not be afraid.
To trade in the comfort of familiarity in following "rules" for the freedom and peace that life in the Spirit affords.

Remember, it takes diligent study, the use of our intellect, humility and repentance to live in the Spirit. Get in the word, get around other believers that are living in the Spirit, and get in a church that is teaching freedom in Christ.

Enjoy the video...look for more soon!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The O.T. Part XII-Wrestling with a Name Change

Sunday Night Bible Study Recap
August 13, 2006
Genesis 32:22-32

A chain of interlocked fingers. Thumbs strethced high waiting for the familiar words:

"One, two, three, four, I declare thumb war."
(If your curious about the rules and other methods of massive multiplayer thumb wrestling, check this out:

A roar goes up from the crowd as Heather Barden and Tyler Smart wrestle with all they have for the H2O 2006 Thumb Wrestling Championship.

"One, Two, Three!" And the winner is...Heather!

Why thumb wrestling? Well, because doing things WWE style would have been too dangerous and would have given the guys an unfair advantage.

Even after just a few minutes of thumb wrestling, most students were a little weary in the wrist and fingers. Imagine wrestling, full-body, olympic greco-roman, little brother getting pounced by big brother, leggo by eggo style all night long!

Oh yeah...and you'd be wrestling with God.

As we looked at the story of Jacob's wrestling match, let's remember a little about where Jacob is in his life right now:

He's just left his father in law with the threat of "if you come back this way, be ready for a fight".

He's just learned that his brother (from whom he took the birthright and blessing 20 years before) is coming to meet him with 400 men.

He's just sent pretty much everything he has to his brother as a present to try to appease him (even though he knows that God is with him and has protected him in the past-Jacob trusts his treasure more than he trusts God-see previous post)

And now he sends his wife and kids across the river and is left alone.

And WHAM! He get's jumped!

Now, Jacob isn't one to back away from a fight, so he starts wrestling with this man who has just jumped him. He wrestles with him until daybreak. He's fighting for his life here.

We know from hearing this story before that Jacob isn't wrestling with just any man here. He's, in fact, wrestling with God. (Scholars would call this the pre-incarnate person of Jesus or a Christophony...that just means it's God in the flesh before he was born in a manger in Bethlehem. There are quite a few times when God shows up like this in the O.T.-to Abraham, to Joshua, and others).

So, let me ask you this question: Have any of you ever wrestled with God over something? Jacob is definitely in a physical brawl with God right here. We may have never been in a fist fight with God, but most, if not all of us, have wrestled with God's spirit over a decision, a lifestyle, a thought, a challenging life direction, or a specific sin that keeps creeping up.

The purpose of the wrestling match is the same: God's spirit is wrestling with our desires for the purpose of heart and life change. When we are not at rest in God, becuase of sin, we will wrestle with God.

Verse 25 makes it obvious that, in this case, Jacob is in a physical brawl with God. God touches Jacob's hip and dislocates it! He just touched it! He could have taken Jacob's life at any moment, but he didn't, he just crippled him.

Jacob had wrestled with God for so long, his will was so set against the heart and life change that God wanted to make in him, that it cost him his ability to walk without a limp.

So what are you saying Ryan? Are you saying that our resistance of God's spirit could bring pysical consequences in my life? ABSOLUTELY! God wants us to wrestle with the sin that's in our lives, but he also wants us to put aside that sin and follow after Him. When we are unwilling to put aside that sin and follow his Spirit, we will face consequences with the hope that those consquences will produce the same reaction that Jacob had.

Jacob finally recognized who he was wrestling with. He wasn't wrestling with someone who wanted to take his life. He was wrestling with someone who wanted to give him abundant life!

Why do we so often wrestle with God over the changes that he wants to make in our lives? Is it because we like our life and think that God can't do any better? Is it selfishness? Is it pride? God doesn't want to take your life, he wants to give you a better life. He wants us to be obedient so that we can experience every blessing that he has made ready for us to receive. Jacob finally recognizes this, and asks for that blessing.

V27-28 tell us that Jacob had prevailed. Does this mean that he defeated God? NO! It means that he had defeated himself for the sake of following God. We only win when we put aside our selfish desires and cry "uncle" to the will of God. When our spirit gives in to God's Spirit, only then have we prevailed.

V30 gives us a warning. Jacob recognized that he had wrestled with God, and even though he was now limping, his life has been preserved. But what about next time? What if he gets into another wrestling match with God and does not want to give in? Will God preserve his life again?

What about you? What are you wrestling with God over? How long have you been wrestling? How much longer will you wrestle and risk facing the consequences that our sin brings on our lives? How much longer will God be patient with you and your sin before he takes your hip...or your life?

Here are some God Themes from this passage:
v25-Power/Permisiveness (not in a negative sense)-His love is not forced

Here are some Practical Applications to our Everyday Life:
1. It is important to get alone to spend time with God.
2. Look for and get rid of things in your life that distract you from the voice of God.
3. Learn from others.
4. If you continue to wrestle and give in to your desires, at some point it will result in consequences, and it may cost you your life!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Please Appease Me

Sunday Night Recap
The O.T. Part XI
Genesis 32:1-21

Ode to the Pea (or Is it Really an Ode to Broccoli?)
By Ryan Russell

Peas are green
Peas are round
Peas can be sweet
Peas can be brown
When I eat a pea
I like it to be warm
Cleaned of all juice
and next to some corn.

Black-eyed peas taste ok
Though they must have lost the fight
You can find them in a can
Or in concert Saturday night.

One pea, two peas, three peas, four
Sometimes Athan eats them off the floor.

Ok,that's enough pea poetry.
They're just not that important to me.
Yes, sometimes I'll eat them
And sometimes I'll mix them
With chicken and rice and then I will heat them.
But my love for the pea is not for better or worse
And certainly not enough to keep writing this verse.

Their roundness and greeness and moundness and beanness
Will not let me ingnore their seamlessness and meanness.
When needing some goodness of vegetable foodness
The pea I will continue to eat less and less.

Peas were my favorite, peas were the best
But now I give favor to all of the rest

But broccoli. Mmmmm broccoli.
Steamed and smothered in cheese.
If I must choose between peas and these.
You can be sure I'll say "no more peas please."

No, this week's Bible Study was not about peas, although Christie did a great job of playing her part in the planned pea eating contest. (Congrats Courtney on winning the "impromptu" contest). See, even though this week's bible study was not about peas, it was about the word "appease". That's what we in Youth Ministry like to call a play on words (I'm pretty sure a few other people use that phrase too...) and what I hope will become a visual reminder of the truth taught Sunday night. (From now on anytime you see a pea you will think of how Jacob tried to appease his brother, Esau, and how we sometimes treat God the same someone who can easily be appeased with just a few gifts, of which he already owns!)

So, let's look at this passage and see what we can learn from what Jacob did wrong in Genesis 32:
(You'll have to get your own Bible to read along because I am not going to type out the whole passage here!)

V1: Jacob sees that God is with Him-this should give him comfort in going to meet his brother, because it is what saved him from the wrath of Laban in Chapter 31. God had already physically protected him from someone that wanted to kill him, why should he fear Esau?

V2-5: Here we see Jacob trying the play the "like me because of all the stuff I have" instead of telling Esau "hey bro, God is with me, so let's talk." Jacob shows trust in his stuff over trusting in God.

V6-8: Now Jacob tries to get smart and protect his stuff because he is scared of what Esau and his 400 men might do to him.

V9-12: This prayer, read without seeing Jacob's actions surrounding the prayer, could be seen as a very trusting in God sort of prayer. He is remembering and "trusting" God to fulfill his promises. But his attitude actually (as shown by his actions in the next 7 verses) is one of "Oh God, you promised me this and now you have brought me to die...don't forget God, you promised to make ME a great nation." Jacob has a selfish attitude. He does not want to see God's promises fulfilled for the sake of God's Kingdom, but for the sake of saving his own butt.

V13-19: So, what was that action that showed Jacob was not fully trusting God? He fully trusts his stuff to appease Esau. He sends all these gifts to Esau basically saying "here, have my stuff and don't kill me."

V20: Jacob did all this to appease Esau. There is the key word for this passage.

Jacob was not willing to take responsibility for his actions. In fact, we see that in v21 when he sent all that stuff to Esau he stayed back at the camp, not even going to seek forgiveness from his brother.

When we just try to appease people by giving them stuff instead of admitting that we were wrong, we are taking a very prideful and selfish approach to our relationships.

We need to get beyond appeasement and truly seek forgiveness in our relationships with people and our relationship with God.

When we just try to appease God for our sin against him, then we are treating him like an idol who needs to be sacrificed to.

When we try to appease God by giving more offering or going on a mission trip, but we never agree with him that sin in our life is truly sin, he says that he detests our efforts. (check out Psalm 51 and Isaiah 64:6).

Stop trying to appease God for your sin. You can't do it. Just confess your sin (agree with God that it is sin) and seek forgiveness from him.

Just like Jacob's attitude toward Esau should have been one of brokeness and seeking forgiveness instead of trying to make up for what he had done, our attitude should be one of brokeness before God, seeking forgiveness.

That, and only that, will please him.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Element '06

There is a BIG event coming up at the start of the school year and we need YOUR HELP to get the word out. Here's what's going on...

Sept. 23, 2006

Encounter Ministries and the surrounding churches of Southside VA are having a Youth Rally on Sept. 23, 2006. Anybody and Everybody is invited. Come out for a night of music from the local Water's Edge Community Church praise band "W.E.P.T", SixChasingSeven, and Exodus, along with a speaker and great food.
For Directions...
contact me
cell # 434-917-5791
home # 434-374-5608

Well, most of you have heard WEPT before (we'll be doing a lot of our original stuff) but you probably haven't heard SixChasingSeven.

But they are incredible (with a little bit of a Dave Matthews/Big Daddy Weave feel)!!! Check out their web-site to hear some of their stuff.

Exodus is a band from Liberty that has a great sound playing and singing your favorite praise songs.

We'll have fliers and handouts for you to invite all of your friends. This will be a major event for our Yet to Be Named 2006 Evangelism Focus (which you'll be hearing more about in the coming weeks). It will only go well if YOU make it go well!!! (No Pressure!)

I don't want to miss this...a great concert in your own backyard and a great opportunity for your friends to hear the gospel!

Could there be anything better?

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

I Gotta Get Mine

Sunday Night Recap
Sunday July 30, 2006
The O.T. Part 10

Have you ever seen someone pulling taffy? It's a pretty intriguing (I have NO idea if I spelled that correctly) process of stretching something to it's absolute limit. Out of all the times I have watched taffy being pulled I have never seen it break. I'm sure, though, that sometimes that long strand of yummy gooiness separates and forms two separate pieces never to be perfectly rejoined again.

In this weeks story from Genesis 30:25-31:55 we see Jacob and Laban's relationship being stretched to the breaking point. This strain on the relationship was precipitated by deception, selfishness, pride and this attitude:


Have you ever had that attitude within a relationship? That attitude will no doubt lead to separation. A selfish and prideful attitude in relationships will stretch relationships and often lead to a break.

In Jacob and Labans relationship we see an ABSOLUTE break, kind of like the line that is drawn in the back seat of cars and vans all across the country between feuding siblings. The difference is that Jacob and Labans relationship stretched so far that it broke, irreconcilablly (I'm not even sure this is a word!)

If we have an attitude of "I have a right to get what's mine" we will never live in a Romans 12 attitude of relationships which tells us to "not think more highly of ourselves than we should." We own nothing and nothing is owed to us. What we think we need to get as "ours" in fact is God's to begin with...not ours!

Watch your relationships. If you see your relationships stretching out like taffy, it may eventually lead to a break caused by selfishness and pride.

Even more importantly, this same separation can happen in our relationship to God. We can hold back from him, blame him for our actions, and live pridefully in "our" faith. In that we cause separation, division and distance in our relationship to God.

And if our relationship to God is strained, you can be sure your relationships with the people around you will be strained!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

GTKY Volume ???

Wednesdays Bible Study gave me an idea for a get to know you:

What is your favorite smell?


What is your least favorite smell?

Post a comment and let us know!

Remembering MFuge '06

We had a great week ministering in Greenville, SC last week. Everyone that went did a great job on ministry site stepping up to the challenge of social, childrens, and games ministry.

Our main focus in worship for the week involved the following statement:

Obedience is not a sacrifice, it is the BETTER CHOICE!

You can be sure you'll hear that again, and again, and again. What a great way to view what God wants us to do with our lives. Regardless of what we think, his way is ALWAYS the better choice!

Here are just a few memories from our week at MFUGE:

AM show, Jan & Jan, dead car batteries, a naturally HUGE fro, literally ice-cold rooms for the girls, rancid smelling room for the guys, socks out the window, "don't be a chicken, be bold today", a MEGA victory by the Flashback, Carter the Office Assistant, Dollar Thrills, Worship with over 800 people, "obedience is the better choice", camp pastor in capris, Chris eating a napkin, showing the puppy some love, ultimate frisbee, crusty ravioli, a church group room that was just a "little" too big, late night tag in the dining hall, falling in the creek, roaches, acoustic cafe, kickball, sand castles, the bread of life, the light of the world, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, "sweet breath of spring that was a hot fire", dancing in the aisles, steak & shake, smooth meat sandwiches...

I'm sure there is sooo much more, so post your memories here, and also what God taught you during the week.

Remember to trust God and take those steps of obedience THIS WEEK!

Remembering Momentum '06

I don't know about the rest of the people that went, but I had a BLAST helping lead Momentum '06, the FAR COUNTRY!

Smore's for breakfast, intense games of MAO, three legged soccer, soggy bananas being passed around, the grim reaper, paddling a raft across the inlet at 12:30 in the morning, ultimate frisbee, four square, a bruise (that I still have and is still growing) from intense 2-on-2 soccer, noodle fencing, walk and talks, surprise flowers for Christie and candy for me, apple skee ball, really bright flash lights (3 million candles bright!), mass "murders", black roses, MO, MO and mo' MO bursting into flames, great small group leaders, Ryan McGann asking us to close our eyes and contemplate while he...relieves himself..., Napoleon Dynamite reenactments, writing praises to God, great food, the crystal lites, farting preacher, the destruction of blow up dolls (who knew their heads came off so easily?), countdowns, and so much more to remember!

I'm glad so many of ya'll were able to go, and I hope God taught you a TON. Of course, it never is easy hearing God tell you things that need to change in your life, so, have courage, take a step of faith, and give a try to this whole "dying to self" thing!

The only way that Momentum will be a success for the long run is if you daily die to yourself and allow God to ruin YOUR life and give you an even better, ridiculously awesome life in HIM!

Take some time to think back to those memorable moments when God smacked you at Momentum and ask yourself...what am I doing about this challenge from God now? Have I already given up the fight? Am I already picking up the apple again and heading down the spiral of a sinful life again? Have I started trusting myself instead of the Spirit again? Have I quit on the commitment to push forward so that more people can experience the captivating beauty of God? What difference did a week in the presence of God really make on my life?

If you couldn't go with us, grab somebody who went and ask them what they learned, then challenge them to stick with it and hold the line...fight through the apathy and get movin' for the Kingdom!

Praise God for an awesome week! Is Momentum '07 in our future??? Pray about it!

Let everybody else know what it was your best memory from the week and what God taught you!

How Do You Smell?

Wednesday Night Recap
July 26, 2006
2 Corinthians 2:12-16

Take just a moment and lift your hands high in the air. Now lean your head either to the left or right and down a little bit and take a big whiff. How do you smell?

Ok, so now you know how you smell physically, but how do you smell spiritually.

2 corinthians 2:14-16 tell us that the knowledge of God is a fragrant aroma, and that we are the ones who carry that aroma around the world as we march along in the Jesus victory parade. This passage also tells us that the aroma should be sweet to those who are being saved, but unpleasant to those who are perishing. The aroma of the knowledge of God smells like life to those who are coming to Christ, but death to those that are rejecting him.

The problem is that sometimes our lives stink and we actually start smelling good to those that are rejecting God. So, what about you? Is the smell of your life pleasing to God, or is it pleasing to the world?

How do you smell?

Here are some truths we learned from 2 Corinthians 2:12-16 Wednesday night:

Truth 1: God is at work and wants us to work with him. (v12)
Truth 2: Working with God's Spirit may involve leaving. (v13)
Truth 3: The Jesus victory parade keeps on rolling. (v14)
Truth 4: The knowledge of God makes us smelly. (v14)
Truth 5: The knowledge of God smells like death to some and life to others. (v15-16)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Attitude of Accountability

Wednesday Night Recap
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Step By Step Through 2 Corinthians Part III

Truths From 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11

1. A confident testimony still needs to be examined regularly. (v23-24)
2. Mutual encouragement is key among believers. (v1-3)
3. Loving rebuke comes from a heart of brokenness. (v4)
4. Our mistakes affect our whole sphere of influence. (v5)
5. Loving rebuke must eventually be followed by encouragement. (v6-8)
6. Those who rebuke together should forgive together. (v9-10)
7. An imporper attitude of accountability gives Satan an advantage. (v11)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stairway to Heaven

Sunday Night Recap
The O.T. Part VIII
July 9, 2006
Genesis 28:1-5, 10-22

So the story of Jacob continues with this interesting recounting of a night spend sleeping on a rock, a strange dream, a reminded promise, and foreshadowing of the nation of Israel.

One point of Sunday night's time together was to talk about the point of bible study. This is what was determined to be the point of studying the bible:

1. To know God better so we can better worship him (have a better response to him).
2. To know God better so we can be more like Christ, therefore being able to better worship him.
3. To know God better so we can better serve him, therefore being able to better worship him.

See, the point of Bible study is worship. It ultimately isn't about us, what we can "get out of it" but more about what we can learn about God so we can respond to him more appropriately. In the mean time, if we get personal daily application...which we should definately look for...then cool. That's just a bonus.

That being said, what can we learn about God from this story? What themes about God recur in this passage that are in other parts of Scripture? We'll call these God Themes-a recurring appearanc eof God's character in the events/activities of humanity.

Here are a few God Theme's form the Jacob's Ladder story:
God's faithfulnees
God's Timing is perfect
God's ownership
God's Presence
God's Generosity
God's Authority

We can learn more about God through studying scripture...specific things about God from specific passages if we look to see how God is working in those stories. Even though the stories are thousands of years old, God is the same and still works in our lives in the same way!

So, what about Practical Life Application? Yep, it's there too!
1. God's promises are big promises (v15-16)
2. God's presence and working are not based on our "feeling" (v17)
3. The faithfullness of God draws people to him. (v20-22)
4. Gving back to God is not to be out of oblication, but this case for his faithfulness. (v22)

Here is the challenge:

What about in your life? What "God Themes" do you see continuing to play out in the world around you? How can recognizing God in our everyday lives lead us to know him better and worship him better? When you study the bible are you more worried about you or learning more about the character of God? Start looking for "God Themes" all around you and you will be amazed at what you can learn about God. Then, draw near to him and worship him with your life for who he is!!!

Cool Web Sites

Looking for something to Surf while wasting time on the internet???

Got an idea of a funny, cool, or interesting site for the rest of H2O to check out???

Post it here (keep it clean) and we'll all have a good laugh, an "aha" moment, or a good long "oooooooh cooooooool"!

On a side note-who has the coolest My Space?

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Lynchburg Daily Bread Ministry

On June 21 several of us headed up to Lynchburg, VA to prepare and serve a meal at Lynchburg Daily Bread, a place that many homeless and unfortunate people in Lynchburg come daily for a hot meal.

Along with a couple of guys for Encounter (Charlie Gielow's group) we spent the morning preparing and serving a meal of spaghetti with meat sauce, a salad with everything in it but the kitchen sink, bread, green beans and dessert. We also got to wear cool aprons (Dennis wanted to buy one). We also learned that they have a lot of reefer in the basement (now, don't freak out...that's a military term for refrigerator...)

That afternoon we did a little shopping, played a little guitar hero, read some funny stories and then it was off to a Lynchburg Hillcats baseball game (which was an incredibally amazing BLOWOUT!!!-see first inning scoreboard pic). While at the mall we learned something new about Ethan. The "love tester" in the food court rated him a "10" and dubbed him Ethan "Hot Lips" Clark (I'm sure he's getting ready to throw something at me if he could). Charlie, on the other hand, was rated a "3"...(insert hysterical laughter here). Well Ethan, I guess what happens in Lynchburg DOESN'T stay in Lynchburg!!!

What a fun day of fellowship and ministry. Thanks Caroline, Dennis, Ethan, Brandi, Serena, John, Mike, and Charlie for helping out with this ministry!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Trust and Obey

Sunday Night Recap
June 11, 2006
Genesis 22:1-19

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Paintball Pics

Pictures from Paintball June 3, 2006

Dylan James in the Tires

Jeffrey Caught One in the Face!

Michael in the Tires (see Ryan's Head poking out of that center tire stack?)

Returning the Flag on the Road

Guys team Wins in Blowout at Pizza & Putt

On Saturday, May 27, 3 teams walked onto the golf course at Adventure Landing with dreams of fame, fortune, and holding down the pizza they just ate at Pizza Inn.

Only one team, however, had what it took to emerge victorious.

The team of Chris Turner, Etan Clark, Jeffrey Hibbert, and Ryan Russell ran away with the victory after 18 holes of superb, mediocre, and outright horrific putting.

The ladies team of Caroline, Courtney, Hannah, and Christie came in second and the Whalen crew struggled in at a distant third place.

Brian avenged his team's loss on the putting carpets of Henderson with a stellar performace amidst the driving beats, flashing lights and scurrying enemies of lazer tag.

I must say, the most impressive part of the night, however, was Caroline's stellar performance on Dance Dance Revolution, laying waste to all competition. Jeffrey's pile of redemption tickets was also awe inspiring for all in attendance.

Another night, another slice (the chocolate chip pizza was incredible), another putt, and another memory (nightmare?) of years at Putt-Putt.