The truths of Christianity are attacked viciously in secular schools and mocked by many in our culture today. Universities teach that Jesus’ resurrection is a myth, that the world began without a Creator and that Christian morality is out-of-date. Students often struggle to respond to these assertions, and instead of “being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks” (1 Peter 3:15), many Christians find themselves unable to withstand the constant objections to their faith.
At Activate, we are beginning a new series called “Contend,” which will aim to equip our students to stand up to those who oppose Christianity. Jude tells us “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), and this series will help us to do that. Every night we will have a message on a specific topic followed by a Q&A portion, where anyone can ask about what was said.
Not only will this be great time of learning for Christians, but it is a great opportunity to bring out skeptical or non-believing friends to hear answers to some of the most controversial and difficult questions.
Listed below are the dates of each topic that will be covered:
- April 29 – Does God really exist?
- May 6 – Is the Bible actually from God?
- May 13 – Aren’t there problems in the Bible?
- May 20 – Is God anti-gay?
- May 27 – Isn’t the Big Band and evolution the best explanation for our existence?
- June 3 – Was Jesus a real person?
- June 10 – Why is there suffering?
- June 17 – What is the meaning of life?
- June 24 – What about other religions?
- July 1 – Aliens, Marijuana, Alcohol, and every other random thing you’ve thought.
We need to have answers for those who ask. We need to defend the truth against the lies of this world. We need to contend. Join us every Wednesday at 7pm in the Loft at Harvest Riverside.
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In our series #NOFILTER, we talked about the importance of using our devices and viewing media in a way that is sexually pure. As technology has advanced, so has sexual sin through the use of such technology. Therefore, we must guard against sexual sin so that we can use technology in a way that is helpful for use and honoring to God. We must have digital discernment.
This is seen primarily in two ways. We must use discernment to guard against sexually suggestive content. We must use discernment to put to death sexually explicit content.
Sexually Suggestive Content
This is any type of content—website, movie, picture, song, etc.—that suggests the pursuit of sexual sin, whether in thought or action. Essentially, it is anything that leads to lust.
As we scroll through social media, surf the web, flip thru channels, and listen to music, we should ask heart-examining questions to discern sexually suggestive content. The goal isn’t to be legalistic, but to be realistic about the threat of sexual content:
- Is the media that I’m looking at or listening to suggest a sexual message?
- Does it promote sinful values?
- Does it make me think sexual thoughts?
- Does it make me want to see more, or think more?
- Does this help or hinder me spiritually?
- Can I thank God for it?
Most of the time, such content comes out of nowhere. It’s on billboards, advertisements, commercials, pop-ups on the computer, etc. Even if you’re not looking for it, it can come to you. So, we need to have discernment in our reactions to it.
The Three-Step Rule 
Like the three second rule with food, we need to make a quick decision when sexually suggestive material appears. Here are three steps to try to make within three seconds:
- Realize: Immediately realize that you are in a tempting situation and see something inappropriate.
- Remove: Like touching a hot pan, our reaction should be removal. Look away or close your eyes; turn the TV off; scroll past it. Do whatever it takes to remove it ASAP.
- Reaffirm: Avoid the temptation off the second look (or third or fourth) by recognizing that you did the right thing. Congratulating yourself over the small battle can lead to great victories. Let such quick reactions reaffirm your commitment to purity in that you did the right thing.
Often times, the acceptance of sexually suggestive content leads to the viewing of sexually explicit content. We must guard against the one to help prohibit the other.
Sexually Explicit Content
This is sexual content where nothing is held back or covered. It includes any form of pornography, which often leads the viewer to act out sexually. The statistics are in and it is clear that there is an epidemic of pornography. But, why is it like this?
The AAA’s of XXX
Psychologist, Dr. Al Cooper, narrowed down pornography’s popularity and influence to three main factors: anonymity, accessibility, and affordability.
We must counter these three factors with strategies. As we cut off the different legs of this three-legged stool, the whole thing fill fall apart.
Anonymity (Confession and Accountability): Since this is so easy to keep secret, the obvious strategy is that we need to be open and real with God and with others. This includes confession and accountability. Be honest about your struggle and find the forgiveness and strength that you need by confessing to the Lord (1 John 1:9). Share your struggle with someone who is spiritually mature, so they can help walk you through it by asking you questions, pointing you to the cross, and by going through helpful resources.
Accessibility (Radical Measures): The reality is that you have to do whatever it takes to cut off the source of sin. To remove the source of access that causes you to stumble, or to avoid the place of temptation, is to gain victory over the battles before they even begin. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 5:29. It may be difficult to do, but it’s worth it. Are there movies or magazines you need to throw away? Music to delete? People to unfollow on social media? Restrictions to put on your computer or phone? Cut off internet access?
Affordability (Passionate Pursuit of God): Porn may be free or cheap, but it will cost you greatly. Here are five proven ways pornography warps the mind:
- Watching porn decreases our sexual satisfaction. It trains us to desire the variety and “designer sex” of porn more than the familiar sexuality of marriage.
- Watching porn disconnects us from real relationships.It trains us to detach emotional involvement from sexual experience.
- Watching porn lowers our view of women. It trains us to see women as sexual commodities, not people created in God’s image.
- Watching porn desensitizes us to cruelty. It numbs us to the seriousness of verbal and physical aggression.
- Watching porn makes us want to watch more porn. It taps into the neurocircuitry of our brains, making us desire the rush of sexual energy from porn again and again. 
Even more than these negative effects, the greatest cost is spiritual, as it damages your relationship with God. Therefore, our greatest tactic is to have a passionate relationship with Jesus. In his book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, Heath Lambert writes,
“You cannot look at Jesus and look at porn at the same time. You have to stop doing one to do the other. A living, breathing relationship with the Savior of the world will drive porn out of your life quicker than anything else. When you turn your eyes to Jesus, there isn’t room for anything else in your heart because he fills it up. When you open the blinds of a pitch-black room, the sunlight drives away the darkness. When you place an unfiled pitcher under a faucet, the water drives away the emptiness. When you visit a lonely friend, your presence drives away the isolation. In the same way, when the presence of Jesus floods your life, he will drive away the impurity of pornography. If you fight to consume Jesus, you will inevitably stop consuming porn, sooner or later.”
He concludes by saying, “When you find yourself working to look to Christ more than you find yourself working to avoid porn, you’ll know you’ve turned the corner.”
When we use discernment to guard against sexually suggestive content and to put to death sexually explicit content, we will be able to use our devices in a way that is helpful to us and honoring to God. Don’t use your devices with #NOFILTER. Rather, filter everything through the instruction and discernment of God’s Word.
Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace — Heath Lambert
Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who are Sick of Porn — Tim Challies
- Adapted from Sam Black, The Porn Circuit. Covenant Eyes, 2013. p. 37 (www.covenanteyes.com/science-of-porn-addiction-ebook)
- Luke Gilkerson, Your Brain on Porn. Covenant Eyes, 2014. p.22 (http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook).
- Ibid. p.19
- Heath Lambert, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), p.144-145.
Last week, Pastor Jason talked about how consumed we are by media. Whether its Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, Spotify or anything else, we give so much of our day to these things that they can become hindrances to our spiritual lives. They are not evil in themselves, but they can cause us to be distracted from the things that truly matter. Most of the time, we don’t recognize how much they consume our lives until we step back and think about it. Below is an assessment we gave out to our students to see how distracted they really are.
Adapted from The Digital Invasion, by Dr. Archibald D. Hart and Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd, page 151
At Activate’s 2015 winter camp, we saw that the love of God strikes deep, and we are LOVESTRUCK. With 450 students, every chapel was packed with people praising God and listening to the teaching of His word. By the end of the weekend, 105 students made professions of faith and hundreds others made commitments to purity. Here are a few testimonials from students who went to camp:
“With camp landing on Valentine’s Day weekend, I got the opportunity to be reminded that God is love, and his love for us is so great. So glad I got to experience yet another camp!”– Ryin
“There are no words to describe how amazing this weekend was. I was blessed in so many ways that I will never forget. God is love.” – Alyssa
“Camp was such an amazing blessing as always! I had so much fun making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and, of course, worshipping the Lord. The messages were so inspiring and I’m definitely now #lovestruck. God did amazing things this weekend and I’m excited to see what he has in store down the mountain. What a way to spend Valentine’s Day.” –Elizabeth
“First time at camp was fun! It’s so awesome to feel that my relationship with God is so much stronger now!” -Allan
“I’m so thankful for this opportunity to come up to the mountains away from everything and to just meet new friends and grow stronger in my faith with the Lord! I can’t even describe how much this camp has blessed me and how everyone around me has blessed me! Camp is an awesome time to come and get to know the Lord better, I could have never asked for a better weekend than this!” – Mariah
“I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ for a weekend of worship to the one who gave us all.” – Chrystianna
“Camp this weekend was honestly the best weekend I’ve had in a while! New friendships were made, old friendships grew, and my relationship with God grew stronger. I learned that. . . He loves us because He is love. Everyone else’s love is measurable, but God’s gives us an endless love.” – Angelica
“I had such an amazing time at camp this weekend. It was awesome to worship God with my sisters in Christ and get closer with them and make more memories!” – Jaedyn
“High school camp was a great chance to escape the daily distractions and focus on growing in Christ.” -Josh
We are so blessed to see all that God is doing in the lives of students at Harvest, and we’re looking forward to see what He’ll do in the future!
The words that fill that blank reveal so much about us. But many times, they show us just how wrong we are—that we aren’t who we’re supposed to be. Because of sin, we find our identity—our value, worth, and sense of purpose—in things that are temporary and unsatisfying. We fill out our social media user profiles and try to be identified as a certain type of person, but we must ask this self-reflective question: Who am I? Thankfully, Scripture provides an answer:
OUR IDENTITY IS IN CHRIST.
Wednesday nights at 7pm in the Loft at Harvest! Invite a friend!
It never ends. It doesn’t change. It reaches all. The love of God strikes deep, and we are LOVESTRUCK.
At this year’s Winter Camp, we’ll learn just how amazing God’s love really is. Based on 1 John 3:1, this year’s theme is LOVESTRUCK: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us…” God is love, and His love transforms. You’ll grow in your faith through great teaching and awesome worship, and you’ll have tons of fun with friends through snowball fights, inner tubing, and camp activities. And we will have awesome music from Manafest! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to get away from the busyness of life and have an awesome time in the snowy mountains!
When: February 13 – 15, 2015
Where: Calvary Chapel Christian Camp (32355 Green Valley Lake Rd. Green Valley Lake, CA 92341)
Registration: You can register at any of our services, on the Patio on Sunday mornings and nights, or online by clicking HERE.
Fundraising Opportunities: We have several ways that you can raise money for camp. You can do drink sales on Sunday morning and sell car wash tickets. Please see us at the info booth after one of our services.