Lessons From Barry (MS Word Format):




Prayer Plans

Spending an Hour in Prayer

Lessons From Len (MS Word Format):
Concert of Prayer

Cross Training

How to Change Yourself

How to Have a Daily Quiet Time

How to Slow Down

A Life Without Boundaries

Parenting for Survival

How to Fail Like a King

A Life Without Boundaries

7 Standards of Biblical Christianity

Christianity and Eastern Faiths

Christianity and Islam

Lessons From Ed (MS Word Format):
James 1

Prince of Egypt Comparison Study

Make a Joyful Noise

The 6 Habits of Highly Reflective Christians

Face the Facts (html format)

Lessons from Drew Gysi
Heal Me

Lessons from Justin Lookadoo
Revolution Plan

Step Off Teaching Script

Lessons from Michael Coradetti
What do you Want Your Tombstone to Say?

Getting God in the Temple

Graduation Speech

Easter 2001

Faith - Molding the Clay

Finish The Race
by Dorothea Landis
Youth Director Temple U.M.C.

Goals: Help students understand that God sees us for who we can be, not for who we were. That no matter how badly we mess up, we can still get back on track and finish the race.

Ahead of time set up a simple race course for paper frogs in your room (I ran a strip of tape down the center of a table). Get directions on how to make a paper frog. Good directions for a simple one can be found here.  Make an Origami Jumping Frog, or you could run a search for origami jumping frogs. You will also need pipecleaners, masking tape, and quarters.

1. Have each student make a frog. Take turns racing them on your course.

2. Say: OK, now I want each of you to think of things in your life you are not proud of,  something you messed up, or regret. Hand out a pipecleaner and two quartes to each student. Have the youth tape the pipecleaner across the frog's back so that they can bend down the ends on each side of the frog. Then take the quarters and cover then with masking tape and attach to each end of the pipecleaner. Once they have finished with that, have them write the mistakes they have made on the quarters and run the race again. The idea is that the frogs will be slower because they are weighed down.

3. Ask: How did the extra weight affect your frog's preformance? How do mistakes affect our Christian walk?

4. Have Phil.3:12-13 read. Ask: What is Paul saying? How should we be running the race? Does Paul mention anything about the person who comes in first? What does that tell us about the nature of God?

5. Say: Satan wants us to look back and stumble over past mistakes. God wants us to keep our eyes on Him. When we confess our sin to God and repent, God takes it away. Like if we take the quartes off the frogs. Our job is to keep on the track and keep on running.

Accountability (add to HABITS study...)

Introductory Question:  What are the four things that no one could live without?  In other words, what do you think humanity's four biggest needs are?

Write answers on a white board or newsprint.

Option 1:  If someone says "Friendship" or "Love" or "Acceptance", or others like this, circle them and introduce the talk by pointing out that our need for meaningful relationships is very important.

Option 2: If all the needs listed are physical, challenge the teens to expand their thinking.  Ask them if our deepest, strongest needs really are all physical -- or do we also have emotional and social needs as real and as important as these physical needs.

Read Genesis 2:18:

"Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him (NCV).'"

From the very beginning God has recognized humanity's vital need for relationships.

If friendship is so important to us, it's no wonder that the Bible spends so much time talking about what makes friendships good.  In fact, in the book of Proverbs, a lot of time is devoted to the subject of friendship.  If we walk through the book of Proverbs we learn a lot about the wisdom of friendship - what real friends are, what false friends are, and how to tell the difference.  Let's look at the wisdom of friendship together:

The Wisdom of Friendship:

·   Friendships are only as good as the people involved - Proverbs 13:20 "Spend time with the wise and you will become wise,
    but the friends of fools will suffer (NCV)."

·   False friends can do real harm - Proverbs 18:24 "Some friends may ruin you,but a real friend will be more loyal than a
    brother (NCV)."

·   True friends are loyal - Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves you all the time, and a brother helps in time of trouble (NCV)."

·   True Friends offer good advice - Proverbs 27:9 "The sweet smell of perfume and oils is pleasant, and so is good advice
    from a friend (NCV)."

·   True Friends offer constructive criticism - Proverbs 27:6 "The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, but the kisses
    of an enemy are nothing but lies. (NCV)"

·   False friends rub off on you - Proverbs 22:24-25 "Don't make friends with quick-tempered people or spend time with
    those who have bad tempers. If you do, you will be like them. Then you will be in real danger (NCV)."

·   True friends sharpen you - Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend (NLT)."

It's these last two verses that really catch my attention when we speak about the H.A.B.I.T.S. of a healthy Christian.  We talked last week about the H - spending "Hang Time with God" every day.  Today I want to talk about the A - Accountability.
Like the last verse says, as iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. Accountability is about cultivating a friendship that is as true as steel and which will strengthen and sharpen us for God's use.

What exactly is accountability?  What does an accountability partner (A.P.) do for us?

An accountability partner:
   ·   Meets with you regularly- An A.P. is someone with whom you can meet on a regular basis.  We suggest getting together
       with your A.P. weekly to share, support and pray for each other.
   ·   Knows you intimately - Choose an A.P. you can trust to share every part of your life with.  A lot of times we put our
       best foot forward in relationships.  An A.P. sees the best, and the worst of us.  An A.P. is useless if we hide the secret
       parts of our lives from them.
   ·   Asks you directly - What are the parts of your life that you struggle with?  Share these areas with your A.P. and ask
       them to hold you accountable in these areas of your life.  Have your A.P. ask you weekly, and specifically, how you
       are doing in these areas of your life.
   ·   Encourages you relentlessly - An A.P. doesn't ask you directly so they can condemn or belittle you.  They ask so they
       can encourage you.  They seek to "spur you on to love and good deeds" like the Bible says, using encouragement to
       make you stronger in the areas where you are weak.
   ·   Supports you tirelessly - Not only is an A.P. there for you at your regular meeting, they are there for you all the time
       so that when you are weak they can help carry your burdens. When you are sad they can comfort you.  When you
       are happy, they can rejoice with you.  They become an important part of your support system.
   ·   Prays for you faithfully - An A.P. not only brings their own strength to a relationship, but also they bring the power of
       intercessory prayer.  A.P.'s should pray for each other every day.

Why do we bother with A.P.'s?
·   It was Jesus' plan:  Mark 6:7 "He called his twelve followers together and got ready to send them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits (NCV)." When Jesus sent out his disciples, he sent them out in accountability pairs.
·   It was the Holy Spirit's plan: Acts 13:2 "They were all worshiping the Lord and giving up eating for a certain time. During this time the Holy Spirit said to them, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to do a special work for which I have chosen them (NCV).'" When the Holy Spirit commissioned Paul for missionary service, he gave him an accountability partner.
·   It was confirmed by Paul and Barnabas: Acts 15:39-40 "Paul and Barnabas had such a serious argument about this that they separated and went different ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left (NCV)." Eventually, Paul and Barnabas decided to split ways.  They didn't see eye to eye on how to continue their ministries so they went separate ways.  But when their partnership came to an end, they didn't head off into the world as lone rangers, each of them chose a new accountability partner.

So, what's the point of accountability partners?
We get a powerful picture of the benefits of accountability in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 "Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help.  If two lie down together, they will be warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break (NCV)."

This gives us a good outline of the point behind A.P.'s.

Two are better than one because:
1)  Restoration is available. ( . . . his friend can help him up.)
     ·   Galatians 6:1-2 "Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again. But be careful, because you might be tempted to sin, too. By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ (NCV)."
2)  Comfort is available. ( . . . if two lie down they will keep warm.)
     ·   2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us (NCV)."
3)  Security is available. ( . . . two can defend themselves.)
     ·   Nehimiah 4:16-18 "From that day on, half my people worked on the wall. The other half was ready with spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers stood in back of the people of Judah  who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and carried a weapon with the other.  Each builder wore his sword at his side as he worked. The man who blew the trumpet to warn the people stayed next to me (NCV)."
4)  Strength is multiplied. (A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.)
     ·   Exodus 17:10-13  "Joshua obeyed Moses and went to fight the Amalekites, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill.  As long as Moses held his hands up, the Israelites would win the fight, but when Moses put his hands down, the Amalekites would win.  Later, when Moses' arms became tired, the men put a large rock under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands-Aaron on one side and Hur on the other. They kept his hands steady until the sun went down.  So Joshua defeated the Amalekites in this battle (NCV)."

Close by explaining to your teens the opportunities for accountability partners that exist in your group.

Pastor Bradley Buhro
Minister of Youth
Decatur Trinity Church of the Nazarene
1645 S 44th St
Decatur, IL 62521


by Michael Coradetti

Faith - that's a word you've no doubt heard many times in church.  But have you ever stopped to think about what it really means?  How would you define faith? (get answers from students)

(NIV) Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now face is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
(NLT) "It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.  It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see."

Assurance - declaration, oath, promise, guarantee
Evidence - proof, facts, sign

Doing this connect-the-dots puzzle is a little like practicing faith.  You began by believing that an image really will be revealed - even though you have no idea what it is.  In other words, you can't see the picture, but you believe it's there.  You trust that an artist designed a picture that will be revealed if you continue to trace the sequence, dot to dot.  If you don't connect the dots in the sequence, or if you decide to stop drawing, you'll never see the full picture the artist has designed.

So it is with your faith in God.  You don't always see exactly where God is leading you sometimes you have only have part of the picture.  But faith is when we continue to trust God's heart even when we cannot see his hand.

Cause let's face it - we live in a world that needs proof.  "Seeing is believing", that's what they say (Who is "they", anyway?  And how do "they" know so much?).  So it's no surprise that the idea that we would believe in a God when there isn't any concrete proof that He exists is unbelievable to the world.  Faith gives us the ability to rely upon, depend upon, and confide in
God that we can't see with our eyes or hear with our ears.  But somehow, we know anyway.

- Show clip from the movie "Contact" (clip where Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey are speaking at a dinner party, discussing the plausibility of an unseen God.  Foster's character says that, as a scientist, she needs proof and thinks that it's more plausible to believe that people "invented" the idea of God.  McConaughey's character asks Foster's character if she loved her father.   She replies,  "Yes."  He then looks at her and says, "Prove it.")

See, faith is beyond proof.  And it's more than just belief - you can believe in God and not have faith.  In James 2:19, James said that even demons believe in God…there's something beyond that.  Faith is that time when your connection to God gets to where you just...know.  You know He's there.  You may not understand everything, but you know that God does.  You may feel like you don't have a clue about what's going on in your life, but you know that God is there with you.  It is being sure of all we hope for, and being certain of what we can't see.  This is the mystery of faith.

This month, we're going to explore this mystery.  We'll talk about the kind of faith we want, and the kind of faith we don't want.  We'll learn how to strengthen our faith, and how to let it challenge us and propel us toward God's kingdom.

But before we close, let me ask you this: have any of you guys ever doubted God's existence?  Have you ever questioned why God did - or didn't do - something?  If you have, it doesn't mean your faith is weak.  Job doubted.  David doubted.  So did Abraham's wife Sarah and Moses and Mary and Noah and just about any other person in the Bible God used.  Doubt is a part of faith like potholes are a part of roads, it either forces you to work past it and keep going, or turn around and go home.  Questions and doubt can either push you toward God or away;  it's up to you.

So what is faith?  There's a story about a night when a house that caught fire, and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid
to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters."

Faith is always remembering that even when we can't see Him, He sees us.  And that's what really matters.

The Joy Of My Salvation
by Michael Coradetti

   "Create in me a clean heart, O God
   And renew a right spirit in me.
   Create in me a clean heart, O God
   And renew a right spirit in me.
   Cast me not away from Thy presence, O Lord
   Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me
   Restore unto me the joy of my salvation
   And renew a right spirit in me."

I love that song.  Is comes from Psalm 51.  I love worship songs that come straight from scripture; it's so comforting to me to know that these same words were sung by David so many centuries ago.  I know they used different music and sang it in a different language, but I can imagine David and his soldiers sitting around a campfire, singing these same words of praise to our

This prayer of David's came about at a time when he was especially aware of how big he had screwed up.  We all know the story: David was taking a walk around his castle, probably trying to work off a big dinner.  And he spots a woman named Bathsheba, taking a bubble bath through her window.  David should have kept on walking, but instead he let his brain fly South while his hormones hot the better of him.  Bathsheba became pregnant, and to cover up his sin, David had the woman's husband, a soldier named Uriah, placed on the front lines of battle where David knew he would surely be killed.  And he
stepped to the now-widowed Bathsheba, and took her as his wife.

Nathan, God's prophet and David's most trusted advisor, called David to the carpet, convicting him of his sin.  And this psalm comes out of David's pleading with God, "Don't send me away.  Don't take Your Spirit away from me.  Forgive me, and give me back the joy of my salvation."  That phrase has always struck me.  Do I have the "joy of God's salvation" in me?  What is the joy of my salvation?

I had some friends in college.  Their names were Jack and Kelly, and they'd been married for about 7 years.  They came into Tallahassee for Homecoming weekend, and I told them I'd pick them up at the airport.  Jack was in the backseat, ever the gentleman, and Kelly was riding shotgun.  I was getting ready to get off at the next exit, so I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I wouldn't I wouldn't impale a VW Beetle hiding in my blindspot, and there I saw it.  Jack's arm was extended forward, his hand disappearing between the front seat and the door.  And Kelly's right arm was behind her a little, also between the seat and the door.  I realized they were holding hands - married 7 years, and they still loved to hold each other's hand at every opportunity.   Let's all say it together   "awww!"

I asked them once, "Guys, how come you're still so giggly and flirty with each other?  You've been married for a long time, and you act like you just started dating - doesn't that kind of wear off after a while?"

Their answer?  "We just never let ourselves get used to it."  (Awww!)

I know, I know, you're saying, "Wait a minute, dude.  You're talking about married people; there's a big difference between God and a marriage."  But the Bible loves to make comparisons between romance and our relationship to God.  Jeremiah said that God "seduced" him, and would it surprise you if I said that the Bible begins and ends with a marriage?  Adam and Eve start it off, and in Revelation 21:9-11

"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."

The Bible says that the Church is the bride of Christ, and that comparison stirs up a lot of imagery about commitment and connection.  And do you remember the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer?  Hosea was a faithful husband who loved his wife so much, and Gomer was, well, not-so-faithful.  She would    leave him for months at a time, off with other men, and Hosea would stay up at night worrying about her and praying for her safe return.  And eventually she'd come home and he would welcome her back and forgive her, and they'd be happy for a time.  But soon another man would catch he eye and she'd take off again, leaving Hosea to waiting and praying.  I know, it sounds like a bad Jerry Springer re-run, but Hosea's whole life was a parable about our relationship with God.  Guess which one was us?

Ok, so what does that have to do with realizing the joy of my salvation?  See, I think most marriages start off like Jack and Kelly's; they're in love, always kissing, always thinking about one another, it's passionate, but humans, as a rule, are creatures of habit.  We are all about habits and schedules and routines, and I think married couples can fall into them if they're not careful.  And suddenly, you're in a rut - just going through the motions, from one part of your habit to the next.  Get up, go to work, stay late, come home tired, watch tv, go to bed…I think that's why some marriages end.  They don't fall out of love, they just get so stuck in their rut that they forget what it was like in the beginning.

I think it works the same way with us and Jesus.  Do you remember when you first became a Christian?  Or maybe when it first became real to you, like on a retreat or something?  Just the thought of God was enough to make you smile.  The joy of our salvation was all around us.

But then it just kind of becomes a habit.  Who knows when it happened?  We go to church, and we come home.  We go to Fellowship of Christian Athletes or First Priority or some other club at our school, and then we go to class, same as always.  We don't stop loving God…we just kind of get used to Him.  And we stop noticing Him.

If I asked you guys, "Who in here loves God?", I'd expect to see a lot of hands.  But what if I asked, "Who in here is in love with God?"  Is there a difference?  I think there is.  One is up here (motion to head), and one is in here (motion to heart).  One is something we acknowledge, and one is something we actively involved in.  There might be a difference in our answer.

How many of us need to make that song our prayer tonight?  "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation!"  Think back to your first boyfriend or girlfriend, or maybe your first kiss.  Remember how everything was so new and exciting?  How every time you touched hands, your whole body tingled?  How being around that person made you so happy?  Music sounds better, food tastes better!

Do you want your relationship with God was like that?  Nothing was old hat, nothing was routine - I'm not talking about spending all our time at church, but what if whether we're driving to school or making our bed or standing in line to buy stamps, we'd never miss an opportunity to hold His hand, to reach out and connect with Him.  Jack and Kelly didn't need to be alone with candles and soft music - wherever they were, they never missed an opportunity to connect in some small way.  What if we were in love with Jesus?

Can our salvation bring us that joy?  Some of us are in a rut with Jesus; we're going through the motions, barely even noticing that He's there. So how do we get that back?  How do we fall in love again?

Lots of married couples go to couple's counseling; they walk through the door and say, "We just don't feel 'in love' anymore."  And the most common advice that a counselor or a pastor can give is: pretend.  They often tell couples  to act as if they felt the feelings they miss.  For one month, do one thing every day that you would do if you felt as strongly for the other person as you once did.  In most cases, the heart will catch up to the body pretty soon.

See, our spirits have a tendency to take its cue from our bodies.  Kneeling doesn't make my prayer any more spiritual than if I were standing, but for some reason, I'm more humble on my knees.  In the same way, if you're in a rut with God, maybe you need to take this advice.  Pick one thing every day -  read your Bible, pray sometime other than at meals or before bed, invite
someone to church but act with the same passion you did when you first experienced God's salvation.  You may be surprised at how quickly the joy comes back into your life.

Just take Jack and Kelly's advice - don't let yourself fall into a rut.  Don't get used to Jesus' presence in your life.  Do whatever you need to do to keep that feeling fresh in your life.  And don't wait for Sunday morning to reach up and take Christ's handle.

by Len Evans

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? . . .O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8:3-4,9

  1. Find something that reminds you of Godās Love.

  2. Find a unique rock.

  3. Find something that has bright colors.

  4. Make a cross out of things you find on your walk.

  5. Count the different kinds of creatures you see.

  6. Sit down for ten minutes, absorb your surroundings and pray.

  7. Find a unique stick.

  8. Find something that symbolizes the CHURCH to you.

  9. Bring back a piece of trash.

10. Bring back something that reminds you of your current relationship with God.

11. Bring back an item that you think only you will find.

12. Go meet in your group.


After everyone is in your group, say an opening prayer of thanksgiving for Godās world and for how He spoke to people during the wilderness walk.

Tell your group that everyone is going to share one item at a time and everyone needs to listen.

Make sure everyone covers the following five items on the list.

Number One:  What did you find that reminded you of Godās Love?
Explain why.

Number Four:    Show the cross that you made.

Number Six:   How did your ten minutes of solitude and silence affect you?
Why is it hard to slow down in our normal life and give God ome time?

Number Eight: What symbolized the church to you?
   Explain why.

Number Ten: What symbolized your current relationship with God?
   Explain why

 If you could choose anything to symbolize how you want your relationship with God to be. . . what would you choose?

For Youth Pastors Only

Please add whatever items are appropriate for your section of the world.

This has often been the most talked about event during a retreat or camping trip.

I give the students at least 30 minutes but preferably 45minutes to an hour (depending upon the group and age).  Too often students do not know how to slow down and ćbe stillä.  You can help them meet God by letting them experience directed solitude and silence.

Walk with Him,

Len Evans

How to Hear God's Voice   from Len Evans

Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.                                          Proverbs 3:5-6



For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. . .                                                                Romans 1:20

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?                                   Psalm 8: 3-4


All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.                                                                 2 Tim. 3:16-17

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.                                                Psalm 119:105


So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.  Don't act thoughtlessly but try to understand what the LORD wants you to do.
Eph. 5:15-17

Make plans by seeking advice;  if you wage war, obtain guidance.                          Prov. 20:18


I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.                            Prov. 24:32

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.                                                             Rom. 8:28


Never worry about anything but in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.                                                                 Phil. 4:6-7

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.                                           Psalm 40:1-2

How to Obey Godās Voice by Len Evans

Now all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecclesiastes 12:13



Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ćI will confess my transgressions to the LORDä÷and you forgave the guilt of my sin.                              Psalm 32:5

If God is faithful and reliable.  If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything weāve done wrong.                         1 John 1:9


But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you canāt stand up against it.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.                          1 Cor. 10:13

How can a young person keep his life pure? He can do it by holding on to your word.  I wholeheartedly searched for you.  Do not let me wander away from your commandments.  I treasured your promise in my heart so that I might not sin against you.                          Psalm 119:9-11


Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.                   Prov. 4:23

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated and pleasing to him.  This kind of worship is appropriate for you.  Donāt let the world around you squeeze you into itās mold but let God transform you by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.                            Rom. 12:1-2


Then Jesus said, ćCome to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.                       Matt. 11:28-30

I am the vine itself, you are the branches.  It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful.  For apart from me you can do nothing at all.                     John 15:5

The Mask from Tony Myles

This is a lesson I did awhile back, based on the movie "The Mask."  While teaching this lesson, I wore a mask and took it off at the end.

The Mask - Psalm 139:1-24

Purpose: To demonstrate the worth of each individual in the eyes of God for who they are - not who they're trying to be.

I. Introduction
* Who have you always wanted to be like?

- We've all wished at some point that we could be like someone else.

   -> Myself: Superman, Bruce Lee, Luke Skywalker, Daffy Duck, Batman, Michael Jordan, the "cool" kids in my grade, youth leaders, church leaders, and Jesus.

- Who have you always wanted to be?

* The Mask
- A story about a quiet guy who finds a magical mask that turns him into a gutsy, extroverted cartoon-like superhero called "the Mask".


- Things soon get out of control, and Stanley becomes confused over being himself or putting on the mask.

- When forced to make his choice because of a girl he likes, he goes to visit a mask "expert" for advice.


- Things get tough for Stanley, but eventually turn out okay as he learns the value in being himself.

* We all have our own masks that we wear to hide and protect our inner selves.
- Physical Masks:  Hockey masks (protect body)

- Emotional Masks: Humor (protect emotions)

- Spiritual Masks: Prevent intimacy with God

* [SCRIPTURE: Psalm 139:1-24]

II. God KNOWS Everything About You
* Scary thought! (vs.1 & 1-12)

- Every pimple you've ever had, how you look when you're sick, what your breath is like in the morning, etc.

* With God, there can be no masks.
- We can fool everyone except Him.

* Who do you think you are?

- Deceiving ourselves is the greatest talent we have.

- Taking ourselves too seriously is the greatest trap we can fall into.

- Learning to laugh at yourself can be one of the greatest weapon we possess.

  -> The sooner we admit our "flaws", the sooner we'll allow God to mold us to His perfection.

III.    God MADE Everything About You
* You were made with careful thought and planning (vs.13-16)

- All your "imperfections" are the result of God's artistry

* Who says Jesus never had pimples?

IV. God LOVES Everything About You
* We all know people that don't like us (vs.17-22)

  - Some of the words of this psalm are much like we would find in a journal or diary.

    -> "Dear Diary.  I hate "so-and-so"

- We would worry less about what others think of us if we realize how seldom they do.

* "Trends"
  - Dictate what is the "norm" and what everyone should have at this point

   -> Some old ones: "Alligator shirts", "Swatches", "Friendship bracelets"

  - If you don't have these things, you feel unaccepted

* When people try so hard to be different, they just end up looking like everyone else who's trying to being different.
  - Example: "Alternative" people

  - These masks do nothing but confuse us (like Stanley)

V. God WANTS Everything About You
* Jesus didn't come to give us another "mask" to put on, but to show us our worth to Him by accepting us as we are.

  - Our response to Jesus Christ should be exposure and not closure. (vs.23-24)

* What mask will you take off today?

VI. Conclusion
* Self-test:

  - How do you see yourself?

  - How does the world see you?

  - How does God see you?

  - How do you see others?

* We'll never find out who we really are because we are always changing.  It's a utopia to wish to find one's true identity.

  - The problem: One never finds it.

   -> Tomorrow will probably reveal something to you that will surprise even yourself.

* FACE UP to who you are!

Answering Prayers

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study.   The Minister had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?"

After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message.  Several different ones talked  about how God had led them in different ways.  It was about ten o'clock when the  youngman started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray,"God.. If
you still speak to people, speak to me.  I will listen. will do my best to obey."

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought, to stop and buy a gallon of milk.  He shook his head  and said out loud, "God, is that you?"  He didn't get a reply and started on toward home.   But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.  The  young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli.

"Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk."  It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk.  He stopped and purchased the gallon of  milk  and started off toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, turn down that street.  "This is crazy,"
he thought and drove on past the intersection.  Again, he  felt that he should turn down Seventh Street.  At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh.  Half jokingly, he
said out loud, "Okay, God, I will." He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He  pulled over to the curb and looked around.  He was in a semi commercial area of town.  It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either.  The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed.  Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street."

The  young man  looked at the house.  It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep.  He started to open the door and  then sat back in the car seat.  "Lord, this is insane.  Those people are asleep  and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid."  Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk.  Finally, he opened the door, "Okay God,
if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them  the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to  be obedient.  I guess that will count for something but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."

He walked across the street and rang the bell.  He could hear some noise in