Young people desire community. They join sports teams, clubs, and social networking and form friendships based on common interests. At Activate, we want students to be in community with one another based on the greatest of interests: knowing God and making Him known. Every Wednesday before Bible study, students meet in Community Groups from 6:15P.M. to 6:45 P.M. for the purpose of discipleship, fellowship, and accountability. Each group is gender-specific and is led by a college-aged counselor. These groups provide a great environment to develop and deepen godly friendships.
In order to take advantage of the free time that the summer season offers, the High School Community Groups will read through a book as a ministry! We will be going through The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney. This is a great resource that will help us stay rooted in the gospel and live in light of Christ’s love and grace. By reading this book, we are praying that students would imitate Paul by saying, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). There will be a reading schedule that will consist of 1 chapter a week, and we will discuss the topics in our groups. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to have lots of fun and fellowship with friends this summer! Sign-up for a group at any of our services, or contact us!
Below is our reading schedule. We’ll discuss one chapter each week:
July 3: Chapter 1 – Restating the Obvious
July 10: Chapter 2 – What’s Your Life Centered On?
July 17: Chapter 3 – Breaking the Rules of Legalism
July 24: Chapter 4 – Unloading Condemnation
July 31: Chapter 5 – What You Feel vs. What Is Real
August 7: Chapter 6 – The Cross-Centered Day
August 14: Chapter 7 – Never Move On
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-24).
There are three topics that often come up when discussing Christianity: other religions, drugs, and abortion. This past Wednesday night at Activate, Pastor Jason talked about what the bible has to say about these topics and more.
Christianity claims to be the only way to God, but how can we dismiss what every other religion teaches? Are there any ways that we can know which religions are true and which ones are not?
In analyzing worldviews, there are three tests that we can use to examine the truth—to see if what they teach should be believed. Those tests are: empirical adequacy, logical consistency, and existential relevance.
In order for a worldview to be considered legitimate, it must have evidence. This evidence can come from archeology, science or another kind of academic discipline that allows us to look at hard, tangible evidence. Many religions are unable to provide any actual evidence to suggest that their beliefs are valid, which causes us to determine that they must be untrue.
Christianity, however, has a lot of evidence to support believing what it teaches. For more examples of the empirical evidence behind the bible, check out our blog on the Bible here.
The question behind logical consistency is whether or not the worldview matches up with reality—if it can be proved by logic. There are many beliefs that are simply make no sense and constantly contradict themselves.
Philosophers over the ages have given great reason to believe that Christianity is, indeed, true. For an article about why we believe that Christianity is logically consistent, click here.
Even if it seems that a worldview is true, people will only believe it if it actually works. If a religion claims that it has the ability to change lives, and there is no evidence that it has changed anyone’s life, it can be questioned whether or not it is true.
Across the ages, millions and millions of people’s lives have been changed by the power of the gospel and the message of Christianity. There are countless people who can attest to the fact that the message of the Bible is true because their lives have been radically altered by it.
We find that by examining different worldviews through these tests that Christianity alone is able to stand up to them. Other religions and worldviews inevitably fail at empirical adequacy, logical consistency or existential relevance.
This will only be a very short explanation about how we should think about drugs as Christians; for a more thorough discussion of it, check out our podcast here.
It becomes clear through any social examination that drugs are not good for people or the culture at large. However, many have come up with creative arguments to suggest that marijuana or other drugs are ok. We’ll only deal with one in this short article, and that is the argument that “God made it, so it must be good.”
There are several reasons why this is not a logical argument. First of all, if we were to apply this kind of thinking to other areas, it would not make any sense. You could argue that God created cyanide, a substance that is incredibly poisonous if it enters the human body. If God created that, why should we not use it as well.
In addition to the major health and social problems that are caused by drugs, we can confidently say that using drugs is a sin before God. The main principle that we must consider is that “anything that perverts the original intent of the creator is sin.” 1 Peter 5:8 commands us to be “sober-minded,” and this is impossible if we are under the influence of marijuana or any other substance that alters our mental state.
This was only a brief overview; to read more, here is a free e-book on the topic: Puff or Pass.
The issue of abortion has been discussed a few times at Activate, but Pastor Jason briefly went over it again. His main argument was that when sperm and an egg unite, it creates a person. Therefore, it is never ever ok to “terminate” a pregnancy because when you do this, you are killing a person. For a more complete argument against abortion, we recommend the 180 Movie. You can watch it here.
This was an very short summary of the topics covered last Wednesday night, but if you have more questions about any of this, we strongly encourage you to check out the recommended resources at the end.
Whenever something difficult happens in a person’s life, one of the first questions they ask is “why?” Why is there suffering? Why do bad things happen? Most of the time, what they are looking for is not answers, but comfort—not some high philosophical reasoning, but a shoulder to cry on. As Christians, we need to be sensitive to this, but we must also have answers. While we can’t give definitive reasons as to why specific instances of suffering occur, we can give general reason about why there is suffering at all.
Pastor Jason spoke about this topic last Wednesday night, giving a few reasons that suffering exists and how to help those who are suffering. The ultimate answer for why there is suffering is that sin entered the world when our father Adam ate of the forbidden fruit. Now, because of that sin, the entire world became corrupt and prone to separation from God.
Why, though, did God allow this sin to happen? There are plenty of reasons for this, but we’ll just give one. Augustine explained it this way, “Creation necessitates the opportunity for a turning away from ultimate good: God.” When God created something, it had the ability to turn away from Him. He gave the creation a will and a self-awareness, which gave it an opportunity to turn away from Him and choose evil. This is exactly what happened; because of this, the world is in the state it’s in.
But, what good is suffering? Why doesn’t God just take it away now? During Jesus’ time, a tower fell and killed eighteen people, and the question on everyone’s lips was, “Were these people worse sinners than everyone else?” Jesus answered this question differently than many of us would. He said, “No, but unless you repent, you will likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
This comes as a shock, but it goes to show us that there are deeper issues in life than that of our own comfort. Sin is worse than pain. When a person comes to Christ, they are acknowledging that the point of their life is not their own comfort, but it is to know God and his Glory. This means that God does not do all things in order to bring us ease, but to bring us everlasting joy, which can only be found in him. One of the ways that he communicates this to us is through pain.
Ravi Zacharias tells a story about a little girl who was born with a disease called CIPA, where she is unable to feel pain. Because of this problem, she cannot play sports by herself or go anywhere alone due to the risk of her cutting, burning or injuring herself severely without realizing it. A bad enough cut could result in death, and she would have no idea it was coming. Her mother was interviewed, and she told the reporter that she prays every night that God would giver her daughter the ability to feel pain.
Pain is meant to keep us from a greater problem; it is meant to keep us from feeling we are able to traverse this life alone; it is meant to drive us toward a God who can help us and be there with us. Without this pain, we would never acknowledge our need for him, which would be the ultimate tragedy because he alone is the ultimate joy. Pain shows us that this world is not our home and causes us to look forward to the day when God will make all things new and reverse the curse of suffering that was brought into the world through sin. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Homosexuality has become one of the most controversial topics in America today. Christians have responded to its prominence by doing anything from supporting it to calling it the worst sin of all time. Last Wednesday night, Pastor Jason explained why homosexuality is a sin, according to the bible.
First, we want to make a distinction between two categories of people: 1. People who are living in a homosexual lifestyle and 2. People who are struggling with same sex attraction. There are plenty of people who experience same-sex attraction, but do not act out on these attractions. In other words, it is not sin to have homosexual tendencies, but it is a sin to act out on them.
The argument mainly comes down to presuppositions—the things that we base our beliefs on. During our contend series, we have covered the reasons why we believe that the bible is a reliable source for truth (you can read the recap here). Therefore, we can trust what the bible says about sexuality. How exactly does the bible say that we should conduct ourselves sexually?
Genesis 2:24 tells us that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” All throughout the bible, marriage is described as the only place that sexuality is designed to be expressed. Often Christians or other religious people will believe that sex is a bad thing, but God explains that it is good. It was His idea. There are three things that sex is designed to do in a marriage relationship:
1. Pleasure for husband and wife
2. Unity between husband and wife
An important biblical principle regarding anything that God has made is that “anything that perverts the original intent or design of the creator is sin.” So, God created sex to work a certain way, and we must obey that design. God designed sex, so He knows how it works best. God is not out to kill our joy, but to bring us the most possible joy through obeying Him. If we disobey and change the original design for sex into whatever we want, it will no longer function the way it should and work against our ultimate happiness.
However, many in our culture today argue that homosexuality is morally acceptable. Pastor Jason went over a few reasons why these common objections do not stand the test of logic.
1. I was born this way
First of all, there has been no scientific proof that there is such a thing as a “gay gene.” There is, however, evidence that a gene exists in extremely angry people that causes them to be that way. But, this does not tell us that they should walk around being angry all of the time; they should, instead, learn how to deal with their anger.
Even if they did discover a gene that caused certain people to be attracted to the same sex, it would not mean that they should act out on those impulses. Every single person is born with a tendency to sin, and it is different for every person. Some people tend to be angry or jealous or lustful, but God calls us to repent of our sins and to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him.
2. I’m in love
Feelings do not determine what is right. The bible tells us that “the heart is deceitfully wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). If we followed every little thing that our hearts told us to do, we would be in a mess. We have random impulses to do things that we know are wrong all the time, but that does not mean that we should follow them.
3. This is my right
The question here is “where do your rights come from?” As Christians, we believe that ever human being has rights that are given to them by God because that is what the bible tells us. But, for a person that does not believe what the bible says has no foundation from which to claim their own rights. We cannot say that our rights come from the government or somewhere else because the government can take them away, but if our rights come from somewhere higher, they are “inalienable” and cannot be taken from us. Every person has a right to either accept or reject what the bible says about anything, but they will be held responsible for these choices in the end. We are not advocating that any homosexual should be treated differently than anyone else, but we believe that they are not able to give a logical foundation for believing that they have a right to redefine the way that God has designed marriage.
There are far more things to talk about than these, so you should check out our recommended resources:
In Biology classes across America, the Bible is often mocked because it is seen as unscientific and ignorant. Genesis is explained as a fairy tale; evolution and the big bang are the theories put forward as the best explanation of our existence. Is this actually true, though? Do the Big Bang and Evolution explain our existence?
This past Wednesday night, Pastor Jason covered this question, explaining how the Big Bang points to a Creator and how evolution cannot be the way that life came about. Here is a quick summary of what he spoke on:
The Big Bang
The Big Bang is a theory that suggests that the Universe began at a certain point in time with a rapid expansion from a point of singularity. This theory is held in high esteem by the scientific community, but it does not give all of the answers. If there were no intelligent designer behind this cosmic expansion, it would have been impossible for it to produce all of the complexity that we see in the world. There are five things that cause us to believe that the big bang points to a creator, rather than suggesting that the Universe came about on its own. If we assume that there was no creator behind this incident, we must say these five things:
1. Nothing created something
Before the big bang occurred, nothing existed. We must ask, “who or what brought the something into existence?” It is inadequate to say that “nothing exploded and produced something.”
2. Death produced life
Death has never been observed to bring about life, but without God, that’s what we are forced to say about the beginning of the Universe.
3. Disorder produce order
The second law of thermodynamics states that things tend toward disorder, but proponents of an atheistic Big Bang must say that disorder produced order—chaos caused complexity.
4. Matter produced a mind
Random matter has never been observed to produce a mind, but that’s what we must assume without God.
5. Information without a mind
Whenever we see information, we know that there is a mind behind it. For example, if you see “Will You Marry Me?” written in the clouds, you know that it was written out by an airplane; it was not a random chance. Information is always communicated with a mind.
These five points show us that a Big Bang could not have happened without the intervention of an intelligent designer. To quote one of the physicist who came up with the theory of the big bang, Arno Penzias, “The best data we have concerning the Big Bang are exactly what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole”
Most people today blindly accept the idea that all life-forms came about by random evolutionary mutation, but there are several reasons to doubt that this could cause our existence as we know it.
Listed below are some assumptions that are made concerning evolution. These are all a far leap to believe:
1. Non-living things gave rise to living material, i.e., spontaneous generation occurred.
2. Spontaneous generation occurred only once.
3. Viruses, bacteria, plants and animals are interrelated.
4. Protozoa gave rise to the Metazoa
5. Various invertebrate phyla are interrelated.
6. Invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates
7. Within the vertebrates the fish gave rise to the amphibia, the amphibia to the reptiles, and the reptiles to the birds and mammals.
Because of these great assumptions, it makes more sense to say that life was produced by an intelligent mind—by God.