Category: Just for Teens


Happy New Year! It has been a while since I have posted…however, Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel are now back up and running!

In true New Year’s fashion I shared with the students several New Year’s Resolutions that I have concerning our youth ministries. I know that many times such resolution are just a verbal attempt to make a positive change and tend to last about as long candy at Christmas; however, my hope is that these resolutions will define our ministry efforts well into 2012

Here are my resolutions:

1. We will get to know each other’s stories.

Too many times we life we ‘know’ people simply as a name, a face, a co-worker, a barber, a bank teller…but do we really know them? Do we know their greatest fears in life? Do we know what is going on in their heart and head? Would you be on the list of people they would celebrate the joys of life with or share devastation with? If not you probably do not know their story.

The book of Revelation 12:11 gives us a glimpse at the power of someone’s story. Read it, you’ll see. When we get to know each other’s stories – the deepest parts of our heart – then we will really get down to ministry as God uses us to encourage and to be encouraged.

2. Take our knowledge of God and turn it into action.

There is much that can be known about God and faith…we also know that too much fast food is not good for our bodies. However, if we do nothing with this knowledge we are no better off (or worse!). The Bible states that when we come to Christ we become a new creation; the old is gone and the new is here! We are changed, washed, renewed…that sort of thing! In 2012 I want the students of Emergency Ministries and Monkey Barrel to raise the bar and turn their faith into action! If you’re not convinced then just read James 2.

3. Hear from God.

Finally, in 2012 I want students to take a proactive approach in hearing from God. Yes, I want them to pray. I want to them to pray at home. I want them to pray at school. I want them to pray when they are walking to and from class. I want them to hear from God themselves. It can be tempting to let the pastors and leaders do the praying and the spiritual stuff on your behalf. Many people in our culture allow the religious professionals to take care of spiritual things and only visit once a week for a light snack. This is not what I want our students to do in 2012!

Now that we know what I want we need to know how…and I have some ideas about how we are going to make this work. But that is another blog post; looks like I’m off to a great start in 2012!

Would you believe in an addictions councilor who was arrested for drug trafficking? Would you believe in a marriage councilor who was getting divorced? Would you believe in a fireman whose house burned down or farmer who never harvested a crop?

Would you believe in a God who does not always do what you would expect him to do? Would you believe in a God who allows some people to choose eternal separation and torment (i.e. hell)?

Would you believe in a God who created some people destined for destruction…all so that he could demonstrate to you and I the blessing of a relationship with him and the peril of lacking that relationship? The apostle Paul asks this question of the church in Rome.

This line of questioning has become quite popular these days especially within the writing of Rob Bell and others and I think that it is having a damaging and confusing impact on our faith. These questions play on our natural sense of morality as they cause us to question what WE think is good and loving…which leads us into dangerous grounds.

I once thought that our natural sense of morality was evidence of God’s fingerprints on our lives. I think we can all agree that things like violence toward children is one of the most depraved things a human being could engage in…God would agree. But I now see how cursed even this seemingly good moral sense is for it tricks us into being sympathetic for the things that WE deem moral with no regard for whether God has said it is moral or not.

I dare say there are many in the church today, even good God fearing people, that when pressed on some areas of morality in our society today would find it very conflicting in their spirit to uphold God’s morality when our own morality seems to just make more sense.

Some Christians and other well meaning people wonder why we are so down on same-sex marriage and abortion; can we not just go with the flow on these issues? What is so wrong with loving whom you want to and choosing to have a baby (or not to) when you want? Is not the right to personal choice and unique personal expression a fundamental aspect of human freedom?

The problem with this line of questioning is that it puts us in God’s place and makes us the supreme judge of what creation was made to be and what potential it has to become. Do we really think that we know enough about love and enough about God to fill in for him from time to time?

Paul says to the Roman church, “But who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who form it, ‘why did you make me like this”. (Romans 9:20) God speaks through Moses in the Old Testament when he says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Ex 33:19)

God did not say we would always understand everything about this world and everything about Him. However, he did say that he would always be good and in that we can have faith.

Romans 8:28 “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If you are ever confronted with the “how can you believe in a God who…” line of questioning you can tell them that your faith in God does not mean that you can always understand all of God’s ways. Having faith in God does not always mean that what seems logical and good to you is what is best for creation.

Instead, our faith is such that we trust that God’s ways are still good even when we cannot understand them!


Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death”.

Imagine that a little boy went to school one day and in his art class he decided to make a very special craft just for his mom. The little boys poured all kinds of energy, love and attention into this craft and finally completes his masterpiece. That night when he gave it to his mom she was overwhelmed with the amazing display of love that her son has shown to her. The little boy went to bed feeling very content with himself.

The next morning the little boy woke up and went downstairs for breakfast. When he walked into the living room his heart sank into his chest; there was his piece of artwork abandoned on the living room floor like a piece of trash. Why would his mom do this to something that was so special? Why did she not put it in a safe place?

The little boy was very sad; however, he came up with a plan. He was going to make special pieces of art for his whole family! Once his mom saw how happy these things made others she would realize how carelessly she had treated her own. Day, weeks and months went by and the little boy made many special pieces of art and gave them to his aunts, uncles and grandparents. Some days his mom noticed what he was doing but other days she seemed not to notice anything different at all.

Finally one day the little boy ran to his mom, jumped into her arms and said, “Mom, it’s your love and attention that I want, not everyone else’s. It’s because of you that I have made all these presents for everyone else. It’s you they were for!”.

The little boy’s mom finally got it; all the pieces of the puzzle came together. She hugged her little boy tightly and said, “I’m sorry I have not realized this sooner. I was so caught up in being so busy with life that I forgot that you were always right here with me. I guess I took you for granted; but I promise that I will not anymore!”.

You might be wondering what purpose this story has? The entire fall at Emergency Ministries I have been asking the students one question: What is the message of the Bible? The message of the Bible is much like the message of this story.

The history books in the Old Testament tell us that God created the world and all that was in it; he did this and gave it all to humankind as an amazing present. We, however, did not always regard our relationship with God as something to be cherished and so we often have discarded it much like the little boy’s mom discarded his artwork.

God’s plan at getting our attention was to pick one group of people and bless them beyond what they could ever imagine; once the rest of the world saw the amazing blessings given to these people they would certainly restore their relationship with God. The little boy thought that by giving presents to his family members his mom would realize how special her present was.

The prophetic books in the Old Testament show us that although God blessed Israel they did not always embrace that blessing and relationship with God. The little boy in the story found that his family members were not always that thrilled with his artwork; in the end all he wanted was his mother’s attention.

The gospel books of the New Testament show that God decided to remove the barrier between him and humanity; he came to earth as Jesus Christ. He died and miraculously rose again to demonstrate that he was God and that there was never anyone like him before. The rest of the New Testament shows how whole towns and individual people were changed by their relationship with God.

The little boy in the story finally ran into his mother’s arms and confessed the truth about what he had wanted all along.

God wants our attention. He wants our hearts. There is no sitting on the fence.

Joshua 24:15 “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Talk to a youth leader or a pastor today; give God your attention.

This is somewhat of a frustrating question for me personally as of late; the question of how do you get the heaven. It is not that I have adopted some gross heresy of the faith we have in Christ and no longer ascribe to that fact that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but through him. Neither is this a result of my appreciation and subsequent disappointment with Rob Bell. But that is another story.

This is the question that we dealt with at Monkey Barrel this week. Of course we affirmed that only those who profess faith in God and continue in (walk in) that relationship would attain the hope of ‘heaven’. However, we were careful to remind students that life is not all about dying to go to heaven. Life in Christ is actually much more than dying and going to heaven; it is about living abundantly right here and now!

Heaven the ultimate restoration of creation and creator; it is the final reconciliation between God and you and I. It is a place where, according to the book of Revelation, the streets appear as though they are paved with gold and a place where there will be no suffering, pain and tears. It is a place where the curse of humanity will be removed and all that we will have to do it enjoy abundant life in the presence of God and the others around us. There will be no sun in heaven the bible tells us; God’s glory will shine bright enough to illuminate the place.

I cannot say for sure what heaven will be like; I’ve never been and if I had I wouldn’t be back to talk about it. (Oddly enough the apostle Paul had a vision of the heavens and wrote about it in 2 Corinthians).

So, while I do know that heaven is important and that one’s final resting place depends on where they put their faith in this life, I also know that the life of faith is not just a giant waiting room until we die and go to heaven. There is much enjoyment and life to be had here on earth; there are many spiritual gifts to explore that God has given for exercise here and now!

I guess that is why I am not so much a fan of the statement “this world is not our home” any longer. In fact, God created this work and deemed it good. This is my home and your home right now and God does not hold that against us. In fact, he has actually expressed great concern over this world and would want us to share in that.

How do I get to heaven? Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. What do you do until you reach heaven…God knows, and I am sure it is fantastic!

So…what is the deal with this guy Abraham anyways? That was the question that we tackled on Wednesday at youth. We have been attempting to figure out what the whole story of the Bible is and we determined that it is this: God’s attempt to restore a broken relationship between you and I. It’s actually quite dramatic and “chick-flick” like romantic; a desperate lover moves heaven and earth to reconcile himself to his bride. If you think I am overstating this just read Song of Songs in your Bible.

God decided to use Abraham to get the attention of the world. This old man who had no sons was given a son whose descendants would form a great nation: the nation of Israel. This nation was given great blessings as well as the promise of divine protection (…I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you…).

God’s intention was that these blessings would not just remain with Israel but that they would get the attention of the whole world….and that through Israel the whole world would be blessed and realize that God Almighty is THE God!

We tried an experiment: I dumped a ton of candy on a random group’s table in the youth room and watched what happened (Alisha, Kaitlin, Chris & Stephanie were the luck ones!). Those at the candy table were thrilled to be there and those who were not there were paying close attention to the candy table and even attempted to snuggle up to them and get to know them…hoping that they would get a share of the candy.

This was exactly God’s plan! Israel would be blessed and others would be attracted to that blessing. In turn they would hear about Israel’s faith in God and that God was the source of all of their blessings.

It didn’t always work out as planned. If it had of there would be no need for such a big bible. The fact of the matter is that Israel didn’t always live up to the blessing that they were given….and so the story continues.

More on that story next week!

Submitted by Alisha Sheppart

On Thrusday, September 29, the girls of Emergency Ministries held the first Girls’ Night Out of the new school year. Alisha Sheppart organized the event, sending out emails, and creating a facebook event page to promote it. The girls were also encouraged to bring their school friends.

The girls gathered at Pastor Nathan and Mandy’s house right after school. There was about 10 girls in attendance, with Mandy Hill and Cindy Morrone there as leaders. The girls ate snacks, baked and decorated cupcakes, and played a few games, such as charades. They also chatted about school, church, and any thing that was going on in they’re lives. They enjoyed each other company, and everyone said that they had a great time.

The next Girls’ Night out will be held at the beginning of November and will be a manicure party!! If you have any questions about the Girls’ Night Out, be sure to ask Alisha Sheppart! 🙂

It appears that the plot has thickened with respect to the Iranian pastor who is on death row for what was initially his conversation from Islam to Christianity and his subsequent request for his children to be exempt from state operated teaching on the Qur’an. Fox News and the New York Daily News are now reporting that the crime for which he has been handed the death penalty for was rape and not apostasy.

I have been following all online news reports of this event since it began to transpire last week and I have not seen Fox News or the New York Daily News chime in yet; until the plot seemed more scandalous and damaging. What would an Iranian Christian pastor be doing raping people? This seems like it would get far better ratings than a simple ‘death for apostasy’ charge.

I cannot say 100% for sure what exactly is going on in this situation. Is Iran angered because of the pastor’s rejection of Islam? Are they now attempting to backdoor his neck into a noose with a bogus rape charge? Or did the pastor actually rape someone (that is possible I suppose)?  Was the apostasy story simply a bogus plea where the pastor attempted to get international notice and save his neck…literally!

Unfortunately it is this type of media bantering and political double talk that has many Canadians apathetic to stories like this. People who are way more in the know than I (Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister and President Barak Obama) both issued statements condemning the death penalty for this man’s apostasy; obviously the apostasy story circulated amongst the higher echelons prior to the rape charge or else both governments would not have spoken out about this. In this light the recent rape twist seems to suggest that Iran is attempting to justify actions they have already determined they will do; they are going to kill the man, they just need to find a way to justify this to the rest of the civilized world.

I am sure there will be more developments to this story as the week unfolds. There is supposed to be a final verdict on the appeal this week and so we can all stay tuned for that and see what else might emerge from the woodwork of this fiasco!

p.s. CBC and CTV have still not acknowledged that this is actually taking place…

At Monkey Barrel this week we tacked the topic of heaven in our small groups. Actually, it might be difficult to call these small groups because they were actually quite large groups; we had 14 girls! Way to go Monkey Barrel students!

We often talk a lot about heaven in our regular speech. How many people can remember saying at one time or another that a particular situation would be ‘heaven’! I have said that about going on a cruise, winning a lot of money, or even having a week’s vacation. That would be heaven!

When we look at what God said about heaven in the Bible however we come to realize that heaven is about much more than our hopes and desires; heaven is a real place where God’s faithful will dwell together. The Bible states that in heaven the perfect relationship that God had with his creation in the beginning will be restored. There will be no pain and tears. The curse of humanity will be removed. In a poetic sense the Bible says that in heaven there will be no need for a sun or a moon because the glory of God will be enough to illuminate everything for all of eternity.

It’s important not to loose our focus on reality by gazing into heaven though. Jesus said in the gospel of John that he comes to bring abundant life (John 10:10). It is not as if heaven is good and life on earth right now is completely bad. There are some great aspects of life on earth that God has given us to enjoy right now: friends, food, sunsets, family, love, kindness, music…and the list can go on.

Next week we will continue this talk about heaven and also what God has to say about our role on earth here and now as we journey together towards heaven someday.

See you next week!

p.s. Don’t forget about the pizza party and games night on Wed Oct 12th!

This week at Emergency Ministries we spent some time talking about a very important story…the story found in the Bible. I heard the Bible described this way by a youth pastor this week: letters from dead people. The Bible is the inspired word of God…written by people as they shared their journey of faith with us.

Many of us go to church and youth group and heard little snippets of the Bible here and other verses and stories there. Many people are familiar with Noah and the flood, Moses, Joseph, Jesus, Adam & Eve and so on. However, just knowing a piece here and there makes it really hard to get what the Bible is all about…what is the one story that the Bible is telling? What is God’s one message to us?

Can you imagine if I told you I was going to read you a story but only pages 5, 10, 15, 20…and so on? You would not have a great sense of what the story is about, would you?

Bearing all this in mind, we started with at the beginning and we started to discuss our way through all the major events or milestones of the Bible.

#1: Creation. God created everything that there is. Before creation was God because he always was around. Everything lived in perfect relationship with God.

#2: Disobedience: Eve was enticed by the serpent to disobey God and she enticed her husband Adam to do the same. The perfect relationship between God and his creation was broken.

#3: Hmmm…..we had a lot of discussion about this one. Some suggested Noah…others Moses…others Jesus. While these people are important they do not described the next major turning point in the story of the Bible.

The question is something like this: God made everything in perfect relationship with him but it got broken. What do you think his next move is?

Finally one student, TH, came up with the right answer although we did not dig into explaining why this was the right answer. I look forward to continuing this conversation next week.

p.s. Do you know what the answer is?

Hold on a moment…are we still living in the middle ages where people actually were put to death because of their religious convictions? Is this still the first century where Roman Emperors like Nero would take bundles of Christian people and light them on fire to illuminate the streets at night?

No, the last time I checked the calendar we were living in the 21st century, 60 years after the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of this declaration states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Why then has Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Islamic convert to Christianity living within Iran, been sentenced to death THIS VERY WEEK by Iranian courts?

Nadarkhani is a 34 year old married man and the father of two young boys. He attracted legal attention when he opposed having the Qu’ran taught to his boys in school and instead requested Christian teaching in its place. Three separate days THIS WEEK he was offered to have all charges dropped if he would renounce his faith in God before an Iranian council; he has declined and they have said that he must die for his infidelity to Islam. Lawyers are attempting to stall his execution but it could take place at any time.

Even more disturbing for me is why people do not seem to care about this. I only discovered this because I have a google alert set to scan the news media for occurrences of “Sharia Law”. When I investigated further I found that the only new agencies in Canada reporting this story were the National Post (on their blog, not their print publication), Canada Free Press, and the Gospel Herald. What about more mainline and prominent national broadcasters like CBC and CTV?

Am I missing something here?

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has issued a statement that rebukes Iran for this action. But that seems to be the extent of the public outcry.

Please, spread the word and certainly pray that this young family does not have to endure this tragedy. Pray for Christians in Iran…the expressions of faith that we take for granted in Canada are not available to many in other countries all over the world.

Stay tuned for more details…