Youth Corner

Hello and welcome! We are so glad you have decided to visit our webpage. Here you will find photos, resources and more from our Youth Group and Youth Camp meetings. There will also be updates from the outings and fun events we have. Expect to see much more content in time to come!

Youth Camp 2023 Messages

Take A Stand!!!

1st Kings 18:17-40 (ESV)

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” [… V:26] And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. […V:33] (Summarize the rest of this verse.) And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.”

In this passage of scripture we find Israel, the people of God, his chosen people, a people that were to be set apart for God, and an example among the other nations in an extremely bad state. Their kings, their leaders, and the majority of the nation have forgotten who God is, they have instead turned to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, and to worship and serve the false God’s of the surrounding nations. This is a people desperately compromised, a scattered people, a sheep without a shepherd. They aren’t even recognizable, there is no difference between them, and the other heathen nations that surround them. On top of all of that, they are also in a state of complete famine. The men of God are nowhere to be found, the prophets who were around have either been killed or put into hiding.

I cannot help but relate and find similar comparisons between Israel in that day and the current state of the church of Jesus Christ in this United States of America. The same can be said for many nations that for many years enjoyed the blessings of God. We all being benefactors of the forefathers before us who laid solid foundations rooted in moral liberty, the word and law of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and true freedom which comes by knowing Him. We have slowly compromised, drifted from the narrow path, have allowed the flesh and sin to creep in, it has come in like a flood, and eroded our once solid foundation. To the point where the people of God today in this nation are so compromised that they are nearly unrecognizable, we have forgotten who we are, who God is, and thus look no different than the ungodly among us. The church is near death, no men of God to be found, we have grown silent, shrunken back and hidden away.

We are a far cry from the depiction provided below regarding the state of this country in its infancy:

I quote John Winthrop – governor of Massachusetts bay colony – from his “City on a Hill” sermon presented in Massachusetts, in 1630: “The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say, ‘May the Lord make it like that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.”

As I said we are a far cry from where we once were.

The good news, and the hope we have for our current situation are two-fold:

1. God will always keep, sustain, and raise up his people, or raise up a man of God to help bring clarity, direction, and a clear word to the people.

2. The darker it gets, the more the light of Christ can shine, and the easier it should be help those who are in desperate need around us out.

God will raise up his man and God will maintain a remnant for his name sake.

1 Kings 18:22 (ESV) – “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord.”

1 Kings 19:18 – “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

The world awaits to see a people that will give them hope, that will show them a moral liberty that is of the highest standard of holy living, a person that will shine a light on their currently dark situation, a person unwilling to compromise, and who will take God at his word, and take a stand against all else that opposes God almighty.

For any man or woman of God willing to take this stand, there will be a slew of opposition in front of you. The road will not be easy to say the least, but it be worth it.

This brings me to my first point.

1. Expose falsehood, and speak the truth.

We live in a day where what is good will be labeled bad, what is right will be considered wrong. You will be looked upon as the problem.

In verse 17 Ahab says to Elijah, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel.”

The perpetrator will often attribute to the victim what pertains to the perpetrator.

Despite the fact that is is Ahab who is the leader and King of Israel, it was he who has done what is evil in the sight of the Lord, worse than anyone else before him, so much so that the sins of his fathers before seem as only light afflictions compared to the wickedness of this king. He has sacrificed his own children for the sake of power, and has lead the people of Israel away from the one true God to worship the fake God’s of the other wicked nations. Ahab cannot see beyond the front of his nose, he never takes ownership or thinks that maybe Israel is in trouble because of his own actions, because he has forsaken God and his statutes. Instead he points the finger at the man of God.

This will be the reaction from the rest of the world to the Christian. We will be opposed, we will be blamed for everything. Everything will be believed and tolerated as long as its not Christian thought or contain any of the truth about God.

When we stand up for life in the womb, and say no you cannot kill those who are innocent and defenseless in the womb, we must protect the weakest among us, the result will be we will be blamed and shamed for taking away women’s rights, we will be called bigots and radicals, and regressive for standing in the way of a woman’s right to chose.

Woman have the right to chose. I’m pro choice in this sense.

1. Chose abstinence.

2. Chose to adopt.

3. Chose to keep the baby.

But you do not have the right to murder and destroy a helpless baby in the womb. But we will be laughed, mocked, and resisted for taking this view.

When we say, “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” or, “Homosexuality is a perverse sexual act,” or, “Those who are confused about their gender, don’t need to be encouraged, but they need real help, because they have a real genuine mental disorder,” the world will not agree with us. They will say the total opposite. Marriage is determined and defined by whatever we want it to be, love is love, and how dare you try and stop someone from expressing who they really are.

Everyone wants us to be tolerant, but the moment we stand up for the truth, and speak out against something, we are the ones who then can’t be tolerated.

The world has slipped into such a moral decay, and society into free fall mode that things that were not even debated, or would ever even be considered are now totally accepted or discussed.

Children 3-4 years being able to mutilate their bodies and change their God given sex for the rest of their life’s. old allowed consent over their own bodies to decide whether or not they want to move towards a sex change and puberty blockers. Mutilating children. Currently in California. A California state bill was recently amended so that parents in custody battles may be liable for child abuse if they do not affirm the gender identity of their children. AB 957, which passed in the State Assembly on May 3, originally proposed that courts deciding custody cases must consider whether each parent were gender-affirming of the child in question.

Things like pedophilia, are now being discussed, that’s right, they are grooming and preparing us for this next step, where a grown man or woman sleeping with a young child is starting to become acceptable. The UN (United Nations) actually came out with a report back in March, indicating the following: Sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual in fact, if not in law, The enforcement of criminal law should reflect the rights and capacity of persons under 18 years of age to make decisions about engaging in consensual sex. Instead of child molestation being exactly what it is, pure evil, manipulation, and sickening, the waters are being muddied, because many have been silent for to long, allowing this type of nonsense to grow and fester. Did the 13 year old want to have sex with the 45 year old school teacher?

A child cannot operate a vehicle, they cannot vote, cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol, cannot rent a car, cannot get a loan, but they can tell you if they want to radical change their bodies through reassignment surgery, and can have sex with someone they consent to love.

Trans-abled’ persons and ‘Trans-handicap’ are now being discussed and debated. A person who has perfectly healthy eyes, can see clearly, and enjoy the beautiful and colorful world around, suddenly wakes up one day and says, “I feel like I want to be a blind person.” So they dump toxic chemicals into their eyeballs, and give themselves permanent blindness. You would think this would be unspeakable nonsense, but unfortunately this is the direction in which we are steadily heading.

Things that were once taboo in our culture are now becoming the norm.

This is where the woman of God or man of God must take an uncompromising, and unwavering stand over the truth. We must no longer be silent, ignorant, oblivious, or tolerant of the foolishness that is happening around us. We must rise up according to the authority given to us by God and his word and declare what is true regardless of what society seems to think. We have must have voices in society that are speaking the truth in love, and showing the culture that there are moral absolutes, there is such a thing as right and wrong.

We must take a stand like Elijah and declare, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals.” (ESV)

You young man or young woman here today, be that voice, be that representative for God, and tell the world what He says.

2. Outnumbered.

We will always look to be outnumbered.

Never be intimidated when it seems the task at hand seems so insurmountable. The enemy will always look intimidating, bigger, stronger, more powerful, with more resources, but just remember who has called you by name, just remember that even if you stand alone with God, you are standing on stable ground, and you are the majority.

Whether it was the parting of the Red Sea as all of Egypt crashed in to destroy Israel, the toppling of the walls of Jericho, the defeat of a giant enemy, or the intimidation of a wicked king and his many prophets, always always always take God as his word. Trust him to see you through.

450 prophets of Baal, against one lone prophet of the almighty God. All bets and odds were against Elijah, but he had one thing they didn’t. The word of God, and an unwavering trust and faith in what God says would always come to pass and be true.

If it was easy we wouldn’t need God. But instead he puts us in situations where we must depend on him, situations where if God doesn’t come through here its going to be embarrassing.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. [… V:33] And he made a trench about the altar. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. (ESV)

The stage is set. Elijah is in a situation where his only choice is to trust in God. Although this can be an uncomfortable place to be, it is the place in which God will use you to make His Name glorified, but you have to be willing to put yourself in that situation. Be obedient to whatever God is calling you to do in this life. Be ready, waiting, and at His disposal!

Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” (ESV)

Let your prayer be, “Lord, do it for your name sake, show these people that there is still a God that is alive and at work today.”

If you are faithful and obedient to the Lord God and you follow His word and statutes, then you can count on this, you can take it to the bank, that God will fulfill his promise, and hold true to his end of the bargain. Will you?

3. All in, or not at all.

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

Many are still going through the motions, even some of you in this room tonight, you continue with one foot in the world, and one foot in the church. But what you don’t see is how you are destroying the testimony of Jesus, and making his name a laughing stock. This is essentially why we are in the mess that we are in at the moment.

There is nothing worse than a person who claims to be a Christian, but their lives reflect nothing of the life of Christ. They are taking the name of Christ, and then running it through the pig slope. The mud, muck, and mire of this sinful world.

As we quoted John Winthrop earlier – “The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God.”

The politicians no longer look over their shoulder at the church, and society in general no longer gives any credence to the church because of the this grave compromise.

Those who are real can see the hypocrisy.

Jesus, like Elijah, draws the line in the sand, and gives you the once and final ultimatum. Matthew‬ 16‬:‭24‬-‭25‬ (ESV)‬‬ – “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

Either die in your sin, or die to self and follow Jesus!

Take a moment and think about your current life? Think about your reputation, not just in here, not just inside of the walls of the church, or in the youth group on a Wednesday, but what is your character really like, how would the closest people around you describe you, are you living a double life? Are you limping about with these two different opinions?

I encourage you, Ask God today to forgive you of your compromise and restore your reputation. That you would be a shining example of what it means to be a Christian. Do it for the name sake of Jesus Christ, don’t run his name into the mud, but lift up his name high, keep it blameless, holy, and clean.

I’ll finish with another statement from John Winthrop.

Exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30.

Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil,” in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life,

that we and our seed may live,

by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him,

for He is our life and our prosperity.

1. Have you been speaking the truth, or has the enemy or your own fears kept you from opening your mouth?

2. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t look at the size of the enemy you are facing. Just focus on the God that you serve. Focus on what Christ has done for you through the cross and the shedding of his own blood.

3. Are you compromised in the faith? Are you limping along? Are you still halfway in each direction, church and the world? Forsake those compromises tonight. We have many more days left in camp, but the time is now, get right with the Lord right now. Ask him to heal you, to change your heart and your mind; to give you new desires.

Is God your all in all? Have you given him everything?

Message written by Curtis Boschult for Light of the World Gospel Ministries Youth Camp 2023. Presented on 7/7/23 at Camp of the Good Shepherd.

Faithfulness Should Produce Diligence -and- Diligence Should Produce Faithfulness

Hebrews 6:11-12 (NKJV) – “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

As youth leaders, we hope this camp is an enjoyable time for you, but more importantly, we hope it is a blessing to you spiritually. We hope at this camp that the Lord will reveal Himself to you each personally and that you will have a stronger desire of Him than when you came. We hope that you will build daily habits that will build you up in your faith and equip you to lead others in the faith someday as well. We hope that this camp will not be just a 4-5 day spiritual experience and that be all. We hope this camp will have a spiritual impact on your daily life and be a significant building block in your faith.

I believe God designed each one of us to contribute in the faith in some form or fashion. In order to accomplish whatever, He has in store for your life, I believe it will take diligence on your part, through faith. I want to preface this by saying I don’t think you will be able to accomplish much on your own strength, you will need help. You will need to have faith. To understand faithfulness, we need to break down the word faithfulness. What does it mean to be faithful? It’s an adjective from the Greek word pistos, meaning trustworthy and believing. As human beings, do you think this describes us? NO!! In fact, left to ourselves, we are the exact opposite. Faithful is a word used to describe God all throughout scripture.

In the old testament God is described as faithful in:

  • Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) – “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

In the new testament, God is further described as faithful in:

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV) says, “[T]he Lord is faithful and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. “

So the next question for us, is how can we as sinful human beings ever have true biblical faithfulness? Luckily for us, scripture lists it as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23b (NIV), “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” So we need to have the Holy Spirit within us in order to be faithful! We must be born again! We must realize that we are hopeless sinners, we must recognize that Jesus Christ was perfect, that he died for our sins and he allowed us to be in right standing before God if we repent and put our trust in Him. We must realize that Christ paid our penalty and He gives us eternal life. We must leave our shame and guilt at the cross and walk in the freedom only He can provide.

The realization of this wonderful transaction should excite us and lead us to the diligence spoken of in my original text, Hebrews 6:11-12. However, what does it mean to be diligent? It means steady, earnest, energetic effort. So, with the Help of the Holy Spirit, in what ways should we as Christians make steady, earnest, and energetic effort?

  1. We should make a steady, earnest, and energetic effort: In our pursuit of Him! Matthew 6:33b (NIV) tells us to, “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Christ should be our #1 priority in this life. I like how the Westminster Confession puts it: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. So how do we most enjoy a relationship with him?

    1. Through His Word.

      1. If we want to know Him, we must know His word! I was not alive thousands years ago, nor were you. Luckily, God in his great design, had the people who were alive write down what God told them and did for them, as testimony to his faithfulness and as encouragement & instruction for us! 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB 1995) tells us “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” This book will teach us everything we need know!

    2. Through Prayer

      1. Philippians 4:6b (NKJV) tells us “[B]ut in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” We should talk to God about everything! Things we worry about, things we are thankful for, and things we yet need!

  1. We should make a steady, earnest, and energetic effort: In our fellowship with the body of Christ

    1. Hebrews 10:25b (NKJV) tells us “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. We need to be in regular fellowship with other believers. To forsake, means to leave behind or abandon. Life will provide a thousands reasons not to be in regular fellowship, we need to be diligent in setting time to gather as Christians and plan everything else around those times. That Day spoken of in this verse is still approaching, so the command is still in place, we should not forsake gathering together.

    2. Plus, as Christians, it should be our desire to gather together! It should excite us. We should agree with David in Psalm 122:1 (NKJV) when he said “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Our fellowship should be joyful because we are recipients of great news! Something we are completely undeserving of!

    3. Practically speaking, do you always get along with your siblings or friends? Do you always 100% agree with your parents, teachers, coworkers, or bosses? Do you always get your way exactly the way you want it? The answer to these is obviously no because interacting with people means it’s a two way street. Since we are sojourning in a sinful world still, relationships of any kind are not going to be perfect but none the less, we are commanded to fellowship together. Whether we like it or not, the people we are around will influence us, so we need to be careful who we surround ourselves with. If you constantly surround yourself with non-believers and bad influences, you will likely soon find yourself struggling with sin and discouraged. But if you get around the body of Christ as much as you can, you will find yourself encouraged and equipped to keep going. When you are struggling and honest about it, those in the faith can encourage you and lift you up. And you can do the same when someone else is struggling!

  1. We should make a steady, earnest, and energetic effort: In the forsaking of our sinful flesh and the building up of our spiritual man

    1. Ephesians 4:22b-24 (NASB 1995) tells us to “…lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

As human beings and Christians at the same time, we have the choice of what we want to build up in ourselves. If someone wants to get super strong physically or be able to run super fast or really far, they need to exercise consistently and often. They will need to watch what they eat and fuel their body with healthy foods. If they refuse to do these things, that strength or speed that they dream of will be just that, a dream, it wont be a reality. Same thing with our spiritual man inside of us. If we want to be strong in our faith, we need to put off our natural man and we need to exercise our spiritual man with prayer, reading of God’s word, and thru fellowship with other Christians.

  1. We should make a steady, earnest, and energetic effort: In our giving

    1. Romans 12:13 tells us to “…distribute to the necessity of the saints and be given to hospitality.” We should contribute financially to the Lord’s work. We should enjoy giving a portion of our wage to the Lord and contributing to the financial help of the church. And this doesn’t just mean financially either. We each have talents the Lord has given us and talents that the saints need. Some are gifted musically. Some have been blessed with the gift of encouraging others. Some are given the ability to preach and teach. Others are gifted technologically. We should look out for one another, give what we are able, and have an open door for one another.

  1. Lastly, we should make a steady, earnest, and energetic effort in every day life. This spiritual diligence should also make us diligent in basic practical ways as well.

    1. Christians should be diligent in their work. We should be known as hard-working, dependable workers. We are representatives and ambassadors of Christ, He is perfect and we are not but because He is perfect, that means we need to try our best at whatever we do! He was a carpenter, He built physical things. What exactly, we don’t know. But I guarantee He gave his absolute best effort, He never would’ve slacked off or been lazy. We should strive to do that same, yes we will fall short but our effort should be stellar none the less because we are representatives of Him.

    2. Christians should be diligent and balanced in our lifestyle. We should be balanced in our diet and in our exercise. That doesn’t mean we all have to be insanely fit, but we should put forth appropriate effort. We should be balanced and diligent with our finances, not wasting money on unnecessary pleasures. We should be balanced and diligent with our emotions and how we respond to people. We should have our priorities straight and not been distracted with the none sense of the world. In today’s day in age, there is plenty of it.

Diligence is a tricky subject because without faith in Christ, we can have literally no spiritual diligence, we are so prone to wander and sin that our efforts to be diligent are worthless. Yeah you might be able to muster up some diligence and accomplish some worldly pursuit, but in the span of eternity, what will it amount to? So if you don’t know Christ, I would encourage to bow the knee to him! And if you do know Christ, diligence is still hard because we now have two natures within us, one that wants to sin and one that wants to glorify and enjoy God forever. I would encourage you, ask God for help, DAILY! We still cant muster the strength ourselves, we need His help to do anything worthwhile for Him!

Plus, we need to remember who is at work against us. Satan wants us to be lazy, secluded, and unmotivated both physically and spiritually. He wants us to think we are unimportant, unable, and unequipped to accomplish what God wants us to do. He knows that a diligent Christian through faith can accomplish whatever God has planned for them. He knows the Holy Spirit can change a human life, he knows God’s word can encourage and instruct Christians, and he knows God listens to prayers. Too often, I think Satan tries to impact the Christians diligence, in hopes that it will affect their impact they have in this life.

Ultimately, when we think of faithfulness and diligence, we should think of Christ. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises us His Holy Spirit to help us. He promises a home in Heaven forever to all those who repent and believe in Him. He is faithful, look to Him when you think of faithfulness.

So, some questions to ask yourself:

  1. In what ways do you think God is calling you to be more diligent and faithful? If you aren’t sure, ask him to reveal something to you. Maybe He wants you to study your Bible more. Maybe He wants to hear from you more in prayer. He already knows what you need, but just like any parent, He enjoys hearing from His children.

  2. In what ways can you contribute more to the body of Christ? Each of us have something, probably multiple giftings, we can give to one another, but we need to figure what those are. Maybe you are an encourager and He wants you to encourage fellow believers. Maybe you have talent with music or technology, the church can certainly use that. Whatever your gifting, God wants you to be diligent in using it.

Ultimately, whatever He is asking of you, you will need His help, but you also have a portion in this too. You will have to make the conscious decision to follow Him and do what he tells you to do daily. In this life following Him is never going to be just 2nd nature or something you don’t even think about or realize you are doing, you still have a sinful man inside of you so it will always be a battle within yourself. Ask him to make you diligent in what He is wanting you to do. Let’s pray.

Message written by AJ Keller for Light of the World Gospel Ministries Youth Camp 2023. Presented on 7/8/23 at Camp of the Good Shepherd.

Identity Determines Direction

Genesis 1:26-28, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Genesis 2:15-17, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Genesis 3:1-7, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

Tonight, I want to address the subject that I believe the Lord has laid on my heart for about two months now and that is that subject of Identity. I don’t think there is a bigger subject to talk about then this. After all, it is certainly something that the whole world is talking about.

Sexual identity and Gender identity are currently hot-button topics at the forefront of our conversations. You turn on the T.V., read the newspaper, or log on to social media and you are faced with these issues everyday. In the workplace or at school. In our families or with our friends. Everywhere you go you will be confronted with this evil agenda. We see so many people who are confused, broken, lost, hopeless. And not only are they confused about who they are, but they are making everyone else confused about who they are. Also, they want others to affirm them in their confusion and high five their sin and if you don’t then you are considered homophobic, a hater, bigot, sexist, etc.

The Bible says in 1 Corithians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”

We have never lived in a day where people have so much “freedom” yet they are bound.

Suicide rates among young people our age have increased rapidly over the years. UCLA Health reported that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people age 15 to 24 in the U.S. Research shows that LGBTQ teens are at increased risk of suicide and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. One of the most startling statistics: LGBTQ teens consider suicide and make suicide attempts at about twice the national rate for all adolescents.

Today, people can choose to be whoever they want to be. If they are a biological male and think or feel like they are a female then they dress and act like a female, if they are a biological female but they think or feel like they are a male then they dress and act like a male. There are some that get to the point where they are getting sex changes. Let me ask you something….Does God make mistakes? NO Also, children are confused and want to have sex changes like Curtis talked about last night. They think that they are cats and want to be called a furry and schools are putting literboxes in the bathrooms for these kids.

Where do you draw the line? Our world is messed up. We can all agree.

If people are getting their way with who they want to be, going through all the sex changes and gender affirming methods then why are they miserable? Why are suicide rates so high? Why are so many people on antidepressants?

It is all because people are searching for an answer that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Timothy Keller once said, “The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus.”

The question is what are you building your identity upon? This is a very important question to ask yourself. The reason it is important is because identity is at the core of who we are as human beings.

If we don’t know who we are then we are wide open to be influenced by others, the worldly system, circumstances, and the devil.

Be sure of this that the world is trying to mold you and conform you into it’s own broken system.

But the Bible says in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The devil is targeting the minds. He uses those fiery darts to destroy you. Fear, doubt, insecurities, whatever. He will uses whatever works until you say no or go.

Today, everyone is trying to “find” themselves. They are looking to everything and everyone apart from the One that truly knows who they are – Christ.

Maybe that is you this evening. What or who are you letting define you?

Maybe you are someone in this room who is struggling with gender confusion, or maybe it’s not even that. Maybe you are letting a person, friends, family, a relationship, a career, drugs, alcohol or a hobby define you.

Testimony –

I know for me, this subject of Identity is something that the devil hit me with from a young age. I was 12 years old when my parents got divorced. I was already struggling with who I was, but after the divorce and not having a father figure in my life, I found myself gravitating toward same sex attraction. I fell into the lies of the enemy. The devil was attempting to define who I was and what I did. To my shame, I listened to the lies and that lead me down a very dark path. There was a false happiness, a temporal pleasure, but that is not who I am.

The devil will play on your emotions, feelings, past hurts, and circumstances that you’ve gone through. He will make sin attractive but he will not tell you the full story. He won’t tell you that it’s going to make you miserable, empty, and lead you on a broad road to hell.

Sin is pleasurable for a season, but it is only temporal. Here today and gone tomorrow.

Living a false life is NOT freedom, but torment. There is only true freedom in knowing who you are in Christ. We will talk about this a little later on in the message.

Many people don’t know who they are today and I believe this is a blatant attack from the enemy.

  • I believe it is Satan’s number 1 aim is to keep you from knowing who God is and who you are. His aim is to come in between you and God.

  • He wants you to be ignorant of God’s truth and if you are ignorant to God’s truth then you will not know your status in Christ.

On the internet today you can find that there are so many different websites catered toward people finding their true identity. It seems like everyone is searching for something to tell them who they are and where they belong.

The problem with getting your identity from someone else or from something else is what if you don’t like what they have to say? Or what if it doesn’t work? Like a job or a relationship.

Or worse yet, the popular idea today is that you have to look deep within yourself to discover your true identity. That is a very scary thought.

But I want to look back at our main passages this evening and see what was God’s original plan for mankind?

-God made mankind in his image.

-Man was made to have intimacy with God

-Made to reflect God’s glory

-Made to be fruitful

The Fall (The Problem)

But something major happened that changed the course of human history forever. In our reading we find the story of the Fall of man. Adam and Eve fell into temptation as they believed the lie of the serpent (devil), ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God specifically told them not to eat of, and from that sin entered into the world.

Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

What happened here? Adam and Eve were perfect, they had intimate relationship with God, yet they allowed the enemy to come in too close and they put their ear to the lie of the devil. The devil attacked the very identity of God. (Genesis 3:4-5) Making Eve question the character of God and what He said to be true.

How many times in our own lives have we been attacked with the very same things? We go through a trying circumstance and the devil whispers in our ears that God doesn’t love you, God has forsaken you, you are a screw up, or you are a failure.

If you have a wrong view of God, and/or who you are in relation to God, then everything in your life will spin out of control.”

The more you know about God, the more you will know about yourself. The less you know about God, the less you will know about yourself.

Basically, your knowledge of yourself and your knowledge of God increase and decrease together.

In our reading, Satan wanted Adam and Eve to achieve an identity by rebellion and living apart from God and the will of God so that “you will be like God”.

God had already declared that they were made in the image of God in Genesis 1:27

Be aware that the devil and the things of this world want to define who you are and what you do.

The devil wants to keep you ignorant of who you are in Christ. He wants you to question God and everything that He says.

The devil knows if he can get you to question your identity then he can separate you from God.

God wants to define you. He wants to show you who you really are and what wonderful plans he has for your life.

Honestly, God is really the only one who should have a say over who we are because he was the one who created us.

Isaiah 64:18, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Ultimately, it all boils down to what voice you are listening to.

It has been once said, “What you receive is what you believe is what you become.”

You either listen to the voice of God OR you listen to the voice of the devil.

The devil will attribute to you what should only be attributed to him. He is ugly, stupid, useless, pathetic, hopeless, unworthy, unloved, etc. etc. etc.

The devil is calling you is actually what he is! He is a loser, he is pathetic, he is unworthy, he is a failure.

What lies have you received about yourself? (Bobby Jo’s mom telling her that she wouldn’t amount to anything)

What is holding you back from entering into the fullness of what God has for you?

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan by listening to the lie that “ye shall be like God”.

We see in our society today where so many people have bought this same lie. Has the devil changed? No. He is still using the same old tactic that He used back in the day. Many choose to work independent of God their Creator and in turn become their own gods.

When Jesus isn’t King of our lives then we end up doing what we think is right. That is never good!!!

Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

We see that today, it is utter rebellion against God. People cry, “who are you to tell me what to do?”

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

We have no capability within ourselves to do the right thing, go the right way, or feel the right things. We will always go the wrong way.

The Bible says in Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Be sure that there is a fight over your soul tonight. That’s why it has been such a battle.

The devil wants to keep you in bondage to your sin. He wants to destroy you. He wants to make your life a living hell. He wants to get you to work independent of God and His Word. He wants to kill you physically and spiritually to take you out of the game.

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

But there’s good news, you don’t have to listen to the voice of the enemy. There’s a much better voice. God wants to set you free. God wants to bring you abundant life. God wants to make your life fulfilling and joyous. God wants you to be totally dependent upon Him and His Word and what He says about you. God wants to make you alive spiritually so you can glorify Him.

Thankfully, the story of Adam and Eve didn’t end with them messing up and failing God. God didn’t give up on them, he went looking for them and clothed them. This is a foreshadowing of what Jesus was going to do on the cross years later. God had a plan of salvation for mankind. God has a plan for your life. He wants you to be close to Him. He wants you to walk in who He has defined you to be.

This sin didn’t define them, just like how your sin doesn’t define you. If you are a Child of God tonight then sin doesn’t have dominion over you anymore.

Jesus chose to identify with our sins. He was the spotless lamb of God, He was sinless, yet He saw our depravity and willingly sacrificed himself for us so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life.

2 Cor. 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

So who are you? Who does God say you are?

You are loved!

God knew that without Jesus coming to Earth to die for your sins and mine that we would never make it. God wants your heart.

Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You are forgiven!

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

No matter what you’ve done, Jesus can forgive you. He can wipe the slate clean.

Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

You don’t have to keep beating yourself up. If you have given your life to God, repented of your sins, and trusted Him then He forgets your sins.

Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

You are redeemed!

Isaiah 43:1, “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

The Lord has made a way, the only way for us to be reconciled to God.

Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

You are chosen!

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

He as handpicked you, not because of what you’ve done or what you could ever do. There’s a reason you are here tonight.

You are His child!

John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

Romans 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

Zechariah 2:8 says that you are the apple of his eye.

You are secure in Him!

John 10:28, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

You don’t need to be afraid that God is going to throw you out of the house. No matter how many times you fail Him.

You are complete in Him!

Colossians 2:10, “ And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”

You are enough!

You are worthy because of what Christ has done on the cross.

Imputed Righteousness.

  • When the Father looks at you He sees Jesus.

  • When Satan looks at you he sees Jesus.

  • With others look at you they should see Jesus.

Paul the apostle put it well in his testimony in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

David Wilkerson explains: “when Jesus died, he took the old Adam with him into the grave. When the Lord rose from the dead, he left the old Adam there. In God’s eyes, that old man remains dead. He was crucified with Christ, along with all flesh … Our old man is legally dead in God’s eyes, and the new man, Jesus Christ, lives in us. If you are in Christ by faith, it doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself. The only thing that matters is how God sees you, and when he looks at you, he sees Christ.”

With this new identity, our priorities change. We go from a lover of sin to a lover of righteousness, from a hater of righteousness to a lover of righteousness. This is indeed a miracle. This is supernatural.

Colossians 3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

It is only when you know that your life is hid in Christ that you can walk in what He has for you and called you to be.

In conclusion,

Tonight we’ve talked about Identity. The title of this message was Identity determines direction. It is your choice which direction you want to go. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior you can keep living your life the way you want to (as in being your own god) while listening to the lies of the enemy about who you are and ultimately go to hell.

It has been said that there’s a sign on the gates of hell that says “I did it my way.”

Or you can bow the knee tonight to the One who knows you completely and to the One who died to take away all your sins so that you could have a new identity.

Or maybe in the past you’ve made a decision for the Lord, but over time you’ve just gotten complacent, cold, and have backslidden away from God. Don’t listen to the lies of the devil. Don’t let the devil define who you are and what you do. Trust God fully and surrender all your junk to Him.

Message written by Megan Stansberry for Light of the World Gospel Ministries Youth Camp 2023. Presented on 7/8/23 at Camp of the Good Shepherd.

The War Within and the War Without

Without in this sense is an archaic literally term meaning outside. The war on the outside.

I will say of the handful of messages I’ve preached, this was the oddest way to go about compiling a message. I had the title set months back, without any substance to go with the title. I do feel like this topic is one of the key pillars of victorious Christian living, understanding that this life is a war…and a two front war at that. So let’s get right to it.

The first front.

The War Within

As a Christian I truly believe this is the most important war you will fight. The progress and outcome of this war will determine your effectiveness at fighting the war without. Who are the participants in this war within? You versus the devil? No.

Your old nature (or “the old man”, which is your flesh) and your new nature (or the “the new man”, which is the spirit).

Romans 7:7-25 (ESV)

7:7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Chapter 8:1-14 (ESV)

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

There’s a lot of scripture here, but it lays out exactly the internal struggle we fight against our flesh. It also lays out how we are to go about fighting that war. For the believer this is a never-ending struggle. I must admit this has been one of the hardest messages I’ve ever prepared. The difficulty I felt that I faced getting liberty to preach has been the hardest I’ve ever faced. So understand I’m preaching from weakness this morning. This isn’t a retroactive message that’s about a struggle I used to face…this is an ongoing battle.

The only way you can have success is to rely on the Lord daily. Am I perfect about this? No…I struggle to read my bible at times, I find it difficult to pray, church can be a struggle. Whether its dealing with distractions from my kids or my own mind wandering…it’s a war.

Interesting segue, this is my 15th youth camp and the first year I came was in 2009. Many of the 14 year olds in this service today were born in 2009. And the only reason I’m not the same Christian I was at my first youth camp was due to this subject.

Further on in Romans 8:26-38 (ESV)

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Number one is a trust that it’s not me holding onto the Lord, but Him holding onto me. As the passage is getting at: that nothing can separate me from Christ, not even my own stinking flesh.

Many of you here are not doing that. Either you’re not a Christian, so you’re fully trusting your flesh, or you are believing a lie that your standing in God is based on your own performance. That is simply not true. Your standing in Christ was decided on the cross 2000 years ago. Your righteousness does not come through works.

Galatians 2:20-21 (ESV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Alright second front…

The War Without

How the war on the outside is fought is largely dependent upon the outcome of the war on the inside. That being said scripture paints a lot of vivid examples of the spiritual warfare we face as Christians, and how that spiritual warfare takes its shape in the faces of men, women, the circumstances of life, etc.

Scripture is very clear though:

Ephesian 6:10-18 (ESV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

So always remember your enemy. We aren’t fighting against flesh and blood, but the spiritual influences behind them. For me personally, if I can be reminded of that it makes addressing situations a lot more manageable.

How does the spiritual forces take form though? In the same way the Lord uses Christians as His hands and feet, the devil will use those around you who aren’t in a right standing with God to be his hands and feet. They can take shape in many ways…worldly friends, relationships

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (ESV)

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (ESV)

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Worldly pursuits

Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV)

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Mark 8:36-37 (ESV)

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (ESV)

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

The list goes on. Do these passages describe some of you in here? Have you cast your pearls among swine and traded your identity in Christ for a corruptible and temporary image?

If any of this describes you, and the spirit is knocking on your heart…open up, do not resist Him. There is still time to turn around and go back the way.

Message written by Aaron Brown for Light of the World Gospel Ministries Youth Camp 2023. Presented on 7/10/23 at Camp of the Good Shepherd.

Unconditional Love of the Father

Main passage

Romans 8:32-39—He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sward?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor thing present, nor things to come.

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I know this was a little longer of a passage, but I needed to show you the gravity of what’s going on here. This love that God the Father showed us is huge. God loved his son so very much, yet He gave Him up for us. In fact it was His plan before the foundation of this world started. It says, he spared not his own son. He delivered him up for us. That he could freely give us eternal life!

Do we truly understand what is being said here? God killed his own son for us! I don’t think I could do that. It would be like, having Tanner come up here and say “I’m going to not only kill you but torture you in front of everybody.” This is horrible. But in this passage something happens. Something marvelous happens. There is a transaction taking place on that cross. The wrath that all humans have built up with all the sins we have committed are being put on Jesus. And the love the Father has for his son is being put on us. This is so amazing. And what’s more Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He rose and is interceding for us. There was a great victory on that terrible marvelous day.

Tonight, we are going to dive into this. This topic, and what is actually going on here. Why did Jesus go to that cross freely? What was the driving force behind him? Was God a tyrant? Does God get His jollies out of torturing his only Son?

I tell you now, this was done for you! And this is the unconditional love that we are going to talk about tonight. I hope to make this very real and relatable to you. That you don’t just think it was no big deal what happened on that cross over 2000 years ago. I put it to you that this event is the greatest show of love that this world will ever see! And none of us here in this room can every duplicate this kind of love. Would you? Would you honestly say, “to save someone else you would sacrifice someone you truly love and let them be humiliated and tortured in front of everybody?” Would you really be able to do this? I could not go through with this.

What is unconditional? Unconditional means: “without restriction by conditions or qualifications.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) It refers to something that is “without conditions or limitations.” (The Free Dictionary)

When I was looking up unconditional love from Wikipedia this is what I found:

“Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love. Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging.”

Then I also noticed they had a definition of conditional vs unconditional love and it says.

In conditional love, love is ‘earned’ on the basis of conscious or unconscious conditions being met by the lover, whereas in unconditional love, love is ‘given freely’ to the loved one ‘no matter what’. Loving is primary. Conditional love requires some kind of finite exchange. (In other word you have to give something and keep doing something to get that kind of love). Whereas unconditional love is seen as infinite and measureless. (Meaning it will never stop. You can not earn it. So therefore you cannot lose it. It is biased on nothing you do. There are no conditions for this love that is bestowed on you. All you have to do is be you)!” That means all of us here, no matter what you have done, no matter what has happened to you. By this definition, we all are qualified.

I found this very interesting, cause that is exactly what we experience with being a Christian. God gives us love that we do not deserve. And then once we have it we can’t lose it. Like from our main passage, Paul asks this rhetorical question. “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” He then goes through an extensive list. Which boils down to nothing in the natural world or in the supernatural can get ride of the love that God shows us threw his son Jesus Christ. It is freely given to us it is not based on something we have done or that we are going to do. Which is great, because I know there is nothing good in me that deserve God’s love.

Do you actually hear what I am saying to you? What the word of God is saying to you? You can do nothing and I mean nothing on your own that can make God love you more. Yes it’s great to be closer and to spend quality time with the Lord. But that is not what I’m talking about here. We are talking about the actual love of the Father.

OK, maybe your asking yourself these questions. How do you earn it? How do you gain more of it? Is it even possible to understand this unconditional love?

I would say most of our human love towards one another is conditional love. I mean we love one another pretty well as long as someone doesn’t cross you the wrong way. You know, as long as they treat you well you will treat them well. Your not initially going to say, “No matter what you do or say to me I will love you”. I mean we can be real here. Someone comes up and smacks you in the face, your not going to feel very lovingly toward that person are you? Or someone that takes advantage of you. Are you going to keep loving someone that continually steals from you? Or makes fun of you all the time? We can totally be honest here. I know it’s the Christian thing to love everyone. But there are just those curtain ones that are real hard to love.

So, I know I’m talking about love a lot. So let’s dive into this word love. It might be the most over used word and most misunderstood word that people use across the world. But there is a reason this word is abused and misunderstood. “The Bible says that God is love and that humans crave love from the moment of existence. But the word love describes an emotion with vastly differing degrees of intensity.”

Is not love what we all are searching for? Whether its from your parents, siblings, friends or that one significant person in our life. We all are desiring someone to love us. Don’t try to tell me you don’t desire some sort of love in your life. I know deep down inside of you there is something. Maybe you don’t understand it, maybe it is very confusing to you.

But I tell you God has created all of us with a hole in our hearts. It is only meant to be filled with the love from the Father. Nothing else will work. Maybe for a little while it will. It can make you feel good. But this is short lived.

Most of you are fairly young. I’m a bit older and I know from experience that things in this world come and go. People come in your life and go out of them. And the biggest thing I’ve come to understand is they are all temporary. Nothing seems to last. Especially love, this elusive and hard to define thing that people are trying to nail down across this planet.

So lets talk about the different types of love

In the bible there are 4 unique types of love.

  1. Philia

  2. Storge

  3. Eros

  4. Agape

We will briefly go through these. There are other types of love that the world defines. But most of them are unhealthy and can kinda be put under lust with Eros love. But for time sake we will stick to these 4.

—-Spare paper—-

I believe the love that is closest to the Fathers love (Agape) is the love of a parent for their children (Storge). Me being a parent, I can tell you there is nothing they could do to make me want to kick them out of my family. That would make me love them less. Yes I’m very imperfect. But there is a love that God gives to parents that goes beyond the normal. No matter what, I will always unconditionally love my kids. And I believe that all the parents in the place would agree with that.

So with that being said, lets think about Jesus Christ. When he went to the cross, when he got whipped and beaten to an inch of his life. Was there anyone worthy of him to do that for? Did someone earn that favor for him to die on that cross for? So why did he do it? Why did the Father have to allow his only begotten son to die a humiliating and gruesome death? The Father forsoke his perfect son. Whom he was very pleased with. In Matthew 3:17 – “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Jesus was perfect in every single way. He always said and did the right thing his whole life. And yet He chose to let his body get destroyed. The bible says in 1 John 3:16Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” He laid down his life for us. He did it all for His love for us. And what’s more He did not have to. In Matthew 25:53— Jesus says, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” When I truly think about what took place here. It breaks my heart. I don’t know how a father could sacrifice his only son for people that are ungrateful. For people that think that they’re good enough without him.

Jesus was not forced to do this. He freely gave up his life for you. When the solders came to get him. Jesus could have destroyed them with one word. But He chose to be obedient to the Fathers voice. And in John 15:13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus refers to us as friends. We have the greatest friend in the universe. And He showed the greatest love toward us. There is no greater love than the love of the Father.

Make no mistake the Lord Jesus knew what he was doing on the earth over 2000 years ago. He knew that he was going to get tortured and killed. He was not bitter nor hateful. But make no mistake, Jesus knew what he was in for. The bible tells us He was praying in the garden before he was captured. He was sweating blood because of the anguish he was going through.

Throughout the scriptures he had compassion, he healed, blessed and did marvelous miracles throughout the time he was on this earth. He showed love to everyone he met. Even the Pharisees, he was harsh but spoke truth to them.

When you are in the close family of God. When you have been born again with the Spirit of God. You are a new creation. Old things have passed away and all things become new—2 Corinthians 5:17. You can not and will not be kicked out. This is Agape love. The perfect, unconditional, and never changing love. Our love changes on a daily basis. Our love is based on what is happening and what people do. God does not love the way we do. His love is higher and based on himself. Which is in Jesus Christ. Because he loved his son so much.

When Jesus died on that cross the love the Father had for his son was bestowed on to us. When we become apart of this new family. Our sins where hid and all God sees is the love he has for Christ.

This is so huge, we are seen as perfect in Christ. Jesus is our covering and nothing can take that away.

You can not make this better by being a better person. Just rest at Jesus’s feet and know you are loved unconditionally. It’s not complicated or hard. Stop trying to earn favor with the Lord and just be held in the arms of the savior!!

He did it so we could have a way out of the bondage we are in. So we can be set free forever. So we can sit here and have this talk about the love of the Father. So we can have everlasting life. And not be in everlasting punishment. Jesus seen the big picture. He knew that most of the world would reject him. Most would mock him and most would want nothing to do with him. But do you want to know something? Ill tell you most people are on that broad road that leads to destruction. That road is the one that leads to hell. And these people just don’t get it. They aren’t sitting in a service like this. They have no desire for the things of God.

This is not the easy way. To follow Christ is challenging. People will not like you for this. The disciples of Jesus were prosecuted and killed. You have to be a strong person to go down this road. The weak just go with the flow. They let the mass of people lead them. But God is calling you to be strong and brave to step out by faith to let God lead them.

Do you think there is anything you can add to what Jesus did for you? Is there a good amount of righteousness that can make you a better person. Jesus did it all for you and me. There is nothing more that we can add to the greatness that Jesus did for us. There’s no more favor that you can gain with God, by being good.

To put forth an example for you. If you put your trust in anything other than Jesus, it’s like leaning your entire body on a little stick that has been infested with termites. (what are termites) These termites are eating away at this stick. And it is dwindling down as time goes on. Not to mention you are trying to balance your life on this stick. It’s hard work, lets say life happens and some water starts to rush by brushing up on this wobbly broken down stick. Then it dries up and some wind starts beating down on you. What do you think is going to happen? How long are you going to be able to keep your self balanced on this little stick? Make no mistake, no matter how strong or talented you are. You will fall flat on your face. That thing or person you were putting all your trust in will be washed away. Then you will have nothing to hold yourself up with.

You see the bible refers to Jesus Christ as a rock. Psalm 62:2 — “He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.”

And in Luke 6:48— “He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

There are many more, but it means that God is that strong foundation that unmovable thing in your life. No matter what happens. The wind can come, the waters can flow. There will be troubles in this life, but if your founded and standing on the rock of Jesus Christ you can withstand it all. Don’t put everything on that unstable stick, the things of this world can’t hold you up for very long. They may seem stable and unbreakable. But I assure you everything in this life apart from Jesus will pass away. It says in
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.”
I think this verse encompasses everything. Heaven and earth that is everything. And Jesus is the word.
And what are the words we have seen tonight? That nothing can separate us from the love of the Father.

Do you find yourself sitting there and God has shown you that you are putting your whole trust in the things of this world? Are you wanting to know this unconditional love from the Father? I’m not here to trick you, to play games with you. I’m am only here to relay the message that God has put on my heart. He wanted to tell you this tonight. He knew when I was preparing this message that you. Yes you would be here. And he wants to tell you His love is the greatest love you will ever have. You will not need any other. This love will fill you to overflowing and it will pour out on to others. You can’t manipulate the love of the Father. It is all his to give to who he wants. And no one can tell you it’s not real. Once you feel this love nothing will compare. It will lift you up out of that pit the devil has prepared for you and you will be set free. Your chains will drop off and you can start to live for the Lord. Not because you have to but because you want to. You will want to please the Lord. Because of what Jesus did on that cross for you.

Lets bow our heads

This whole camp has lead up to this one moment in your life. You are young but you are not promised tomorrow. You could be completely healthy and strong tonight. But tomorrow you could not wake up. I don’t say this to scare you. But this is reality. Daniel had an unexpected near death experience about a month ago. It could happen to anyone of us at any moment.

The point is. Don’t let the night end without you responding to the Lord. If you feel the tug on your heart. Respond to the call of the Father. By simple raising your hand it’s not for me but showing you have heard the voice of the Father and you don’t want wait anymore. This is between you and the Lord.

The front is open for you to get prayed for and to leave all the junk in your life behind. Doesn’t mean all will be roses and perfect. But Jesus will get you through it. And will walk by your side. And you will be unconditionally loved forever. Not for a day or a year, but forever and ever you are his child and will never be kicked out.

Lets pray.

Message written by Les Hinze for Light of the World Gospel Ministries Youth Camp 2023. Presented on 7/10/23 at Camp of the Good Shepherd.

Youth Group Photos

DropZone 2020

Athey’s Pond 2020