What’s the Big Deal with John 3:16?

There are things our parents say so often we reaction-pic-eye-rolldon’t even hear it anymore. They might to totally right, and what they’re saying could be something worth listening to… but you’ve heard it so many times you’ve tuned it out.

What if your parent is saying it so often because they’ve learned it the hard way?

I think that’s what happens with John 3:16. Unfortunately, it’s so well known that many people miss out on the glorious truth it simply proclaims. It’s an incredible verse to summarize the gospel-message.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

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It’s Not My Gift

This is the second message in our series “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?” Last week’s cliche was “Let Go, Let God.” 

Imagine for a moment that all the church leaders came to you for advice, seeking your vast wisdom on the question, “What should the church be doing in the world?” What would you say?

You’d probably encourage the church to talk about God, to pray for people, to help the needy. What else would be on your list… and honestly ask yourself, “Am I doing those things?”

It’s so much easier (and comfortable!) to tell others what they’re supposed to be doing. When it’s our turn to be the doer… it becomes far more risky. When it’s our turn to start evangelizing or sacrificing our time and our stuff in order to serve those in need, that’s when we’re tempted to cry out, “That’s not my gift!” Too often, that’s nothing phrase is an excuse to avoid doing something risky and difficult.

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Think About It… Let Go, Let God

I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but cliches make me as sick as a dog! People who use them need to wake up and smell the coffee. I don’t mean to open a can of worms, but we really need to think about all these cliches.

Cliches might communicate something true, but most of the time they’ve either lost their meaning or they’re just plain confusing. Sometimes we need to stop and ask the question, “Is this even true?” This is the first week “Think About IT!” taking a second look at Christian cliches.Think about it


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Mike’s Favorite Posts from 2015

As I look back on this year, the resurrection of my passion for writing shines through. I’ve put quite a bit of work into learning more about how to be a better blogger, so I’ve cleaned up some of the older posts so their format fits my new style but I haven’t changed any content.

Since I write primarily for youth workers and parents. Some of these are for you to share with your teens, some of them are for your own benefit. Either way, here are my favorite posts from this past year.

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Christmas is War

“Dad, which is more important: Christmas or Easter?”

“Umm… well.. both are important. They need each other buddy. Without Christmas, Jesus couldn’t have died to forgive us of our sin. But without Easter we wouldn’t be able to be forgiven.”

“I think Christmas is more important, Dad. If Jesus wasn’t born then he couldn’t have died on the cross for us.”

This is a conversation I had with my seven-year-old son the other day. (He’s a pretty sharp kid. Plus, there’s the whole presents thing going for Christmas!) It’s a debate I know many have had before, and I’m not going to settle the debate, because Christmas and Easter need each other.

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Come to Berea!

Deep Freeze Banner

We’re going to Camp Berea February 19-21, 2016 for Deep Freeze! This is a great time to make new friends, strengthen current friendships, and to explore the question, “Is Jesus worth following?”

Here’s a video from our time at Berea two years ago (sorry, I didn’t make one last year!):

Here’s a flyby of the main info you need to know:

  • Dates: February 19-21, 2016
  • Cost: $140 total. $70 deposit due ASAP, remaining $70 due Feb 7th. (We don’t want money to keep anyone from coming, scholarships are available upon request, please contact Pastor Mike.)
  • Speaker: Danny Ray (a Christian illusionist who integrates magic into his message… check him out on youtube!)
  • Music: Oswald Brother Band
  • Permission Form: Download the form HERE and turn in the completed form with your final payment on Feb 7th.
  • Paintball: Yes, they have paintball! The cost is included in the required paintball waiver, found HERE.
  • Departure from EBC: Friday at 3:00pm. Bus leaves by 3:20.
  • Return to EBC: Sunday around 4:30pm
  • What to Bring: Warm clothes (remember, it’s winter camp not a fashion show… and it’s only two nights), Hat & Gloves, Sleeping Bag, Pillow, Toiletries, Towel, Bible.
  • What NOT to Bring: Alcohol, or weapons and non-prescription drugs are not allowed. We also discourage cell phone use and other electronic gadgets which distract and isolate us from spending face-to-face time with each other. If you bring a phone to use as a camera, please set it to airplane mode for the weekend.

This year’s theme is Re-Forged. Our lives take shape with every moment that forms and molds us until we may feel no more than a product of our faults, mistakes and struggles. But what if we can be changed? Sometimes it’s a slow and steady sculpting and at other times it’s a transformation that takes place in the fire of challenges, but the result is the same: our edges and sharpness are removed and the imperfections melted away as we are Re-Forged into something with new purpose that is stronger than ever before.

Unsung Heroes of Christmas: The Shepherds

My first job was at a place called “Sheep Pasture.” It was a fun job. My favorite responsibility was walking through the sheep pen and pulling thorny weeds. Sheep aren’t very smart animals, and they’ll eat the thorns, so you need to pull them. After working in the animal pens, I’d get home and be told, “Mike, you stink! Take a shower!”

As we continue to consider the Unsung Heroes of Christmas, I want to think about the shepherds who came to visit the newborn Jesus. The shepherds remind us that the gospel is for outcasts.

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Justin Bieber is Sorry: How to Earn Back Trust

Justin Bieber’s song “Sorry” has been hanging around the top of the charts for weeks and keeps growing in popularity. I gotta say, although I’m no Bieber fan, it’s definitely catchy and this video is fantastic!

Besides… who hasn’t needed to plead with someone to forgive them?! We’ve all felt like we lost someone we cared about because of something we’ve said or done – friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. But what needs to come after “I’m sorry” in order to regain trust?

If you haven’t yet, give the video a watch.

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Unsung Heroes of Christmas: The Innkeeper

“Unsung Heroes” are those men and women who do often get overlooked, but their actions have great impact on those around them. This Christmas season at Youth Group, we’re looking at some of the unsung heroes of Christmas. Last week we looked at Joseph

Small Decisions. It turns out, they really aren’t small at all. God uses them in huge ways.

Have you ever considered the Innkeeper who allowed Joseph and Mary to lodge in their stable and give birth to their baby boy? It didn’t cost him anything, it was a small decision… until King Herod sent the brute squad to slaughter all the children two years old and under.

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Are We Still Giving Thanks?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving… today is Black Friday. The difference is pretty obvious. For the Christian, it’s helpful to remember that we are called to live with an attitude of thankfulness everyday.

So what are you focused on today? Here are a few questions to consider today:

  • Are you focused on how you’ve been blessed; or are you focused on what you don’t have?
  • Are you shopping in order to joyfully give to others; or in order to simply to buy obligatory gifts for people at the lowest possible price?
  • Are you treating other shoppers in a way that reflects a thankful, joyful heart; or do you see them as competitors who are trying to take your stuff?

Shopping on Black Friday doesn’t make you unthankful. But why you shop and how you shop matters. Be a thankful shopper today.