2017 SUMMER YOUTH WEEKS

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1 JESUS ANSWERED, I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME. JOHN 14: SUMMER YOUTH WEEKS PA R E N T S CAM P C ON N EC T ION

2 2017SUMMER YOUTH WEEKS PA RENT S CAM P CON N EC TIO N Our theme this summer is Way. Truth. Life. Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 Just the name of Jesus brings different emotions. For me, I remember the Sunday after Easter, right before my 7th birthday, walking down the aisle and asking how to be saved. My father is a Baptist Minister and he lead me through the gospel to see that because of what Jesus did on the cross and his death, my sins would be forgiven, and I would be with Him forever. I understood that Jesus resurrection proved His power over death so when I die, I will go to heaven because of the price Jesus paid for me. At that early age, I knew who Jesus was and the lifechanging gift that His life-giving gift was, for all eternity. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Such an exclusive statement may grate on the postmodern ear, but it is true nonetheless. The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. He is not a way, as in one of many; He is the way, as in the one and only. No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus. Accepting Jesus seemed special and not too difficult because my family had lived out their faith before me from the day I was born. However, for increasingly millions of people, Christianity feels like a long list of rules. They cannot see why faith relates to anyone or why it is important. For others who say their Christian faith is very important and attend church at least once a month, Christianity is a way of life. According to the book, Good Faith, by Kinnaman & Lyons, three out of ten Americans are what we would call practicing Christians. Millions of people, who actively attended church when they were younger, could be labeled legacy Christians because they exercise little faith today. Now the tenets and practices of the faith are just part of the landscape, not guiding lights for their priorities and lifestyles. (Good Faith, Kinnamon & Lyons p.27) These legacy Christians would be the largest faith group in America today. Three out of four US adults have some Christian background, but about three in five American Christians are mostly inactive in their faith. Somewhere along their journey church became boring, life got busier. They were still good people who did good things so why make more of Christianity and the church? In the twentieth century, more and more people began to see Christian morality as standing in the way of a new moral code: the morality of self-fulfillment. They decided they did not want a bothersome God looking over their shoulder. New research has revealed a new moral code in America: To find yourself, look within yourself. 1. People should not criticize someone else s life choices. 2. To be fulfilled in life, pursue the things you desire most. 3. Enjoying yourself is the highest goal of life. 4. People can believe whatever they want as long as those beliefs do not affect society. 5. Any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is fine. (Kinnamon & Lyons, p. 57)

3 In contrast, Christians, who live out their faith, believe living under God s moral order leads to the growth and success of humanity and society. Contrasting the new moral code are six statements about the way life ought to be, with Jesus at the center: 1. To find yourself, discover the truth outside yourself, in Jesus. 2. Loving others does not always mean staying silent. 3. Joy is found not in pursuing our own desires but in giving of ourselves to bless others. 4. The highest goal of life is giving glory to God. 5. God gives people the freedom to believe whatever they want, but those beliefs always affect society. 6. God designed boundaries for sex and sexuality in order for humans to flourish. (Kinnamon & Lyons, p. 80) Christianity is countercultural. We need to be countercultural in our lives and in our churches in order to stir outsiders to rethink their own moral choices. If the highest goal of life is God s glory rather than our own enjoyment, then our outward behaviors and inward character will drastically be different from what society exemplifies. Jesus taught that renewal- being made new through redemption, restoration, and re-creation-is God s purpose for every human life. In Romans 12:2, it says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. The church and the family are to join together to teach young people to recognize God s calling on their lives to live out their faith as a way of life in all decisions and activities, to live their lives in caring for others, to exercise moral responsibility in decision making, and to speak publically and positively about their faith. (Ground Youth Ministry on Biblical and Theological Foundations, Lineberger, p. 31) Looking at the life of Christ should allow us to picture what it means to follow Him in our lifestyle, beliefs, actions, mindset, --basically in everything about us. Research has revealed that: 91.2% of teenagers wanted more of learning about Jesus. 83.9% reported that they wanted more Experiences that teach about God and His truths. 81.9% said they wanted more help learning how to pursue God on their own. 81.5% reported that they wanted more help in understanding the Bible. 74% said they wanted more opportunities for evangelism Youth Week Themes: Way. Truth. Life. Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 If Jesus paid the price for our sins and provides our way for eternity, then following what He did as He walked this earth is important. However, we discovered among the students who attended camp, 87.5 % failed the biblical literacy part of the survey five years ago. However, last summer we repeated the survey and the failure rate was 77.6%, which gives us hope that students are learning more about what they say they believe. Knowing they were still struggling, we decided to take a closer look at the life of Jesus.

4 Each day we will look very specifically at: Tuesday Good Habits are Hard to Break Purpose: To help students realize habits developed now are likely to stick with them into adulthood. Simply put, it is important to develop good habits at this point in their lives. Wednesday Facing Your Temptations Head-On the Way Jesus Did Purpose: To help students understand where temptations come from, to see how Jesus dealt with them, and how they can handle them, the way Jesus did. Thursday Jesus Can Heal Your Hurts, Calm Your Storms and Feed Your Deepest Hunger Purpose: To give students a broad overview of Jesus earthly ministry and focusing on how Jesus: Provided food for a crowd of thousands and feeds our deepest hungers; Taught about people being fearful and storing up possessions and provides for all of our needs; Calmed the storm while on the boat with His disciples and cares enough to calm the storms in our lives as well. Friday The Resurrection is Good News and provides Hope Purpose: To help students understand our hope, as Christians, is based on the resurrection of Jesus and that this Good News of Hope must be shared. We will look closer at the following aspects of Jesus life: Birth (Luke 2:1-20) Within this passage are all the elements of the well-known Christmas story, the beginning of the earthly life of Christ. Mary and Joseph, no room at the inn, the babe in the manger, the shepherds with their flocks, wise men from the East following the star to Bethlehem and bearing gifts for the Christ child, a multitude of angels rejoicing all these things make up the amazing story of the birth of the Savior two thousand years ago. But the story of God coming to earth as a man began many years earlier with the prophecies of the coming Messiah. Isaiah foretold of a virgin who would conceive and bear a son and call His name Emmanuel, which means God with us (Isaiah 7:14). The first of the key events in the life of Christ is the humble beginning in a stable, when God came to be with us, born to set His people free and to save us from our sins. Baptism (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23) Jesus baptism by John at the Jordan River is the first act of His public ministry. John s was a baptism of repentance, and although Jesus did not need such a baptism, He consented to it in order to identify Himself with sinners. He would soon bear their sins on the cross where He would exchange His righteousness for their sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). The baptism of Christ symbolized His death and resurrection, prefigured and lent importance to Christian baptism, and publicly identified Christ with those for whom He would die. In addition, God Himself who spoke from heaven confirmed His identity as the long-awaited Messiah: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). Finally, Jesus baptism was the scene of the very first appearance of the Trinity to man. The Son was baptized, the Father spoke, and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. The Father s command, the Son s obedience, and the Holy Spirit s empowerment present a beautiful picture of the ministry and life of Christ.

5 Maundy Thursday Some churches celebrate the night before Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on Christ s suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord s Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to celebrate Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross along with His bodily resurrection is the paramount event of the Christian faith. Good Friday Why is Good Friday referred to as good? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ s death are very good! Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. First Peter 3:18 tells us, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit. Easter Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ on the third day after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based (1 Corinthians 15:14). In some Christian traditions, Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost. Because of the commercialization and possible pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday. The rationale is that, the more we focus on Christ and His work on our behalf, the better. Paul says that without the resurrection of Christ our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! Whether we call it Easter or Resurrection Sunday, what is important is the reason for our celebration, which is that Christ is alive, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)! Parent Connection Questions Your students will have an opportunity to learn more about Jesus while at camp. For you to connect with them and their camp experienced, here are some questions that might allow your child to share what they learned: 1. I hear ugly Christmas sweaters were worn on the first night. I know that had to be fun. What did you learn about how the world celebrates Christmas and the real meaning of Christmas? 2. Did anything stick out about worship that first night? 3. What about the things Jesus did his habits did you pick up on any new habits you want to include in your life or our life as a family? 4. Jesus performed many miracles. Did anything you hear on Wednesday about those miracles surprise you? 5. Thursday you talked about Jesus death on the cross. Was there anything different in how they focused on the meaning of his death that made an impact on you? 6. Friday was Easter! I know it had to be filled with joy! Was there a challenge given that we as a family can participate in? (Hope Party Challenge) The Hope Party Challenge was given asking all attending camp this summer to host some kind of gathering whether it be church wide, youth group, or individuals in their home on August 19 in order to share their testimony and who Jesus is and what He has done for all. Emphasis is on inviting those who are far away from God (may not have any type of relationship with Jesus) and praying for God to open their hearts to hear the gospel and begin asking questions about faith in Christ or accepting Christ as their Savior.

6 Our dream is for 300 of the churches or 100 s or 1000 s of individuals -among the 7000 who will attend camp this summer to decide to take their faith in Christ seriously and host a party to share what they believe in order for people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Knowing Jesus holds the key to peace on earth and life after death we cannot help but talk about Him and the difference He makes in our life! Can you imagine how many of our friends and family could be introduced to Jesus across NC on August 19? Research indicates we are not intentionally sharing our faith in order for others in our circles to hear the gospel and have an opportunity to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. The biggest questions being asked today: Is there more to life? What is my purpose? Is there life after death? As believers in Jesus, we know the answers so let us all commit to sharing on August 19 across NC! Could your family host one of these parties? Could you plan a cookout or pizza party with friends and family that you know do not profess faith in Christ? Have fun being together but take time for you and your teenager to share how you made the decision to follow Jesus and the difference He has made in your life. As one shares, the rest of the family could be praying for the Holy Spirit to move, for people to ask questions, for some who finally understand the truth of the gospel to place their faith in Jesus. How exciting would that be? Ideas can be found on the Hope Party website We also want you to put your story and even pictures on that site after you have your party!

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