The Whisperer

Posted: October 25, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Strange Encounters Lessons
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Attention Funnel: Life’s Biggest Let Downs

What do you know about Elijah?

  • He was a prophet, he was a man of great prayer (James 5:17-18), he saw God do great miracles, he was used by God to do great miracles, he was a wanted man during his time because he spoke for God.
  • Perhaps one of the things Elijah is most well-known for is his work on Mount Carmel.
  • It was a faceoff of Elijah against the prophets of Baal.
  • More importantly it was a faceoff of God vs. Baal. Baal was the idol people worshiped to provide them with rain and fertility, and yet it had not rained in the past 3 years.
  • Now Elijah was saying, it’s time to choose – either worship God or worship Baal. Let’s see who is really God.
    • You know what I despise… when people root for multiple teams in professional sports. You have to choose one and go with it. Either you are a Red Sox Fan or a Yankees Fan, an Eagles Fan or a Cowboys Fan, a Pequea Valley fan or an LMH fan. You can’t be both!
  • Elijah was fighting the same battle – either you love and worship God or you love and worship Baal.
  • And finally the day has come to see who is real. And here’s the crazy part… it’s not even close.
  • 450 prophets do everything they can (including harming themselves) in order to get Baal to do something. And nothing happens.
  • But Elijah simply prays for God to show up and God does! He sends down fire and burns up the sacrifice, the water, and the rocks it was on.
    • It’s an absolute route. If we’re keeping score its God – 100, Baal – 0.
  • Not only does this happen. But after this Elijah tells the people grab an umbrella because God’s about to make it rain. And it does!
  • So it should shock us 4 verses later we find Elijah sitting alone under a tree saying, “It is enough now, O LORD, take away my life.”
  • Elijah has just experienced the greatest example of God’s presence in his life… and several days later he is sitting alone asking God to kill him??
  • What happened??
  • Read 1 Kings 19:1-12


Big Idea: God is faithful, even when we don’t feel it.

  • There are times when God feels distant.
  • God defines our expectations of him.
  • God never abandons his children.
  •  Trust God’s Word above your experience.

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The Wrestler

Posted: October 25, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Strange Encounters Lessons
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Attention Funnel: Greatest Fights

  • What would you say some of the greatest fights in history have been? Real or fictional?
  • We have been doing this series called Strange Encounters… where we look at some of the interesting encounters people had with God in the Old Testament.
  • Tonight, we look at an encounter where God shows up and literally has a wrestling match with someone.
    • Read Genesis 32:30 – This is the end of the encounter, but I just want you to see it to know that I’m not making up that Jacob encounters God in this story… because it’s all a little bit weird.
  • I want to look at this encounter bit by bit to see what we can learn about what it means for us to know God and encounter him.

Main Points:

  • We encounter God in our weakness.
  • God wants to change us more than our circumstances.
  • It’s in submission to God that we win. 
  • God becomes weak so that we can encounter him.

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Attention Funnel: Pet Peeves – Things that Make You Irrationally Angry

 Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 7.25.11 PMIntroduction:

  • There are certain passages in the Old Testament that people may point to in order to show a problem with God.
  • They are passages where we encounter God’s anger. On the surface, it might seem like God gets irrationally angry and does horrible things.
  • I want to take a look at a couple of these encounters tonight to see if that’s true, or to see if there’s something else they might be teaching us.

Big Idea: We don’t appreciate God’s grace until we appreciate His anger.

Main Points:

  • God’s anger is aimed at sin.
  • We assume God’s grace is ordinary.
  •  Jesus gets what we deserve, and we get what we don’t deserve.

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Attention Funnel:Close Encounters with Animals

  • What’s the wildest encounter you have had with an animal?
  • There’s something about encountering a wild animal in which you are both drawn to try to get close and yet fearful of getting to close.

Series Introduction:

  • Throughout the Bible we see God show up in some unusual and extraordinary ways.
  • This is not to say that God is not always present and working in the world.
    • God does not show up in the world on Sundays and then catch an UBER back to Heaven until he comes back later in the week to pick up his weekly Chick-Fil-A.
    • God is always present and always working. Everything that happens, happens because of him.
  • But at certain times, God pulls back the curtain so that people get a clearer glimpse of who he is and what he’s doing.
    • This is where a Stranger Things comparison is fitting. In Stranger Things there is a parallel world called the upside down. Most people don’t even realize it’s there. And yet and certain times people get a glimpse into the upside down to see what’s really happening. The upside down was there all along, but it’s only when the curtain is pulled back that people actually see it.
    • Now this metaphor breaks down, because it’s not as if God lives in a parallel world where he is constantly trying to break into our world. He is as real, even more real, than the chair you are sitting on right now. But we don’t always see him clearly.
  • These encounters are not regular or often, but they reveal God clearer than ever for us to see.
  • Although our experience may look very different, we still have the opportunity to encounter God.
  • And what we learn from these strange encounters will hopefully make us hungrier to encounter God
  • Tonight, we start with Isaiah.

Big Idea: Encountering a Holy God will change us.

Main Points:

  • God is Holy because no one and nothing else is like Him.
  • Without God’s holiness, sin isn’t a big deal.
  • Without God’s holiness, His love is cheap.
  • Without God’s holiness, we are self-focused.

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2018 Fall Calendar

Image  —  Posted: August 23, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Uncategorized

Memphis Day 5

Posted: July 20, 2018 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


Friday was a unique day. One of the things we always preach going into a trip like this is, “Be Flexible” because something is always bound to change during the week. Today that was the case. We went into this morning expecting to be on the job sites all day and then finish the day with a picnic at a local park. However, soon after we arrived to our job sites our team leaders informed us that there was a change in plans. The heat index was projected to rise to 115 degrees this afternoon. So to keep people safe and avoid injuries from the heat, the SOS staff decided that we would only work a half day and that the picnic would be cancelled. It was a little disappointing at first, but when we went out this afternoon for sno cones I was very happy that they made that decision. As soon as you stepped in the sun the heat hit you like a ton of bricks. None of us could have imagined being on the roof in the type of heat there was this afternoon.

This evening was bittersweet. It’s always exciting to head home after an exhausting week, but it’s also disappointing to leave a place and a group where you’ve experienced such a good time and made a lot of memories. I always love these trips because of seeing how the group comes together and works toward a common goal. This group demonstrated an incredible amount of joy and excitement even as they worked in very very hot conditions this week. They also displayed the type of togetherness that I pray for in a team. Nobody was left out and students who tend to be more reserved showed a side of their personality that I don’t get to see on Sundays.

I love seeing the group come together and getting to watch as friendships are developed in a week like this. I love to see students feel like they are a part of the group. I love to see students step up as leaders with both their words and actions. I love the side conversations that pop up with students about what they’re passionate about or what they’re facing that’s really difficult. These trips continue to be an incredible gift and I cherish the opportunities, memories, and ways that students grow as a result of these trips. I think we can walk into these trips expecting God to work in some big flashy way (i.e. a homeowner getting saved or everyone breaking down in tears during one of the lessons, or something like that…) But I think more often God is at work in a thousand small ways. Ways that we may or may not see on the trip. And the ways that he does work on these trips often ripples into the future: the relationships that are built, the challenges that are given, the ways students serve and care for one another, the passion to live for God and not just for self, and the willingness to take the next step into a life of missions and service when God calls them to. I’m beyond proud of this group and thankful that God has given me the privilege to lead another trip!

Questions to Ask Students When We Return:

My encouragement and challenge to you is to ask the students questions about their time here in Memphis. I think they will want to talk to you about it and share with you what happened through their eyes. This blog only gives you the week through my eyes. I would love for you to hear from the students on what it was like for them. But in the process, ask more than just, “How was your week?” It’s too easy for students (and for me) to respond to that question with a simple “Good.” Dig deeper to hear some of the stories and details from the week by asking good questions. Here are a few sample questions to ask the team as we return:

  • What was a highlight from your week?
  • What was difficult or frustrating during the week?
  • Who was the homeowner you worked with? What were they like?
  • What was something that stuck out to you from the chapel lessons? What did you think of the chapel speaker?
  • What stuck out to you from the visit to the Civil Rights Museum?
  • Would you ever go back to SOS again? Why or why not?
  • What was one way you saw God at work (in your own life, in someone else’s life, as a group, at SOS)?
  • What will you remember about this trip five years from now?


Memphis Day 4

Posted: July 20, 2018 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


Thursday was a full day again. We spend all day on the job sites. There was a huge difference between morning and afternoon. The morning was shaded and a nice breeze kept us cool on the roofs, but as soon as the sun came out we immediately started sweating. Our three groups were able to accomplish quite a bit while also enjoying a long lunch. Meal times are one of my favorite things about these trips. I love the time of just sitting around and talking because there is nowhere else to go. The closeness that develops in our groups in large part happens while we sit around talking and laughing. We returned to the SOS base for showers, dinner, and chapel. And then we finished the day off as usual with another debriefing at Chick-Fil-A:)


  • Group debrief time in the evening. This was probably the best debrief time we had during the whole trip. People shared their highlights and frustrations from the trip along with things they felt like they learned this time around. It was also encouraging because we were processing through what has been taught this week. The students shared some things they didn’t really agree with that the speaker said while also highlighting some of the things that were said that were true and connected with them. It was a proud moment for me to see them exercising discernment by weighing what was being taught from up front with what they know of the Bible. (P.S. A great question to ask them when we return would be, “What did you think of the chapel speaker?”)
  • God protecting us on the job sites. We had a couple minor injuries today that could have been worse (don’t worry, no one fell of the roof!). We saw God protecting us even as things didn’t go how we thought they would.