For the past few weeks we have hinted at some books that will be free to all attendees of the Calling. Now, we can finally reveal what is available for you if you attend this Youth Training Conference on April 13. Don’t forget, there are still copies of Get Outta My face available to the next few registrants!

For everyone

Mike has been hard at work getting great deals for us, here’s what is in store!

  1. Every attendee will receive a 35% off coupon for use at The Good Book Company.
  2. The Good Book Company has also made a devotional available to each attendee (More info to come on which devotional it is. These have been great resources in the past, so we’re looking forward to this one!).
  3. Lastly, there are 50 copies each of The Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney and Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris available to us. We will be giving these out on a first come, first serve basis. This means that on the day of the conference you should arrive early in order to claim the book that you want the most! (Registration and Check in begin at 9 AM. See full schedule here.)
  4. Update- 4.5.13: We just found out that every attendee will also receive a free copy of Jonathan Dodson’s book Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

For the early birds

In addition to getting the above choice, the first 30 parents or youth leaders to check in that day will receive their choice of Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley or Get Offa My Case! by Rick Horne. We have 15 each of these, so come early to get your first choice!

For a few

Lastly, The Good Book Co. has also given us a few updated copies of the Soul Curriculum (written by our key-note speaker, Nathan Morgan Locke). We’re not sure how we’ll decide the winner of these yet, but they will be given out at the conference!

Update, April 2, 2013: Just so everyone is aware, in addition to all these resources being available, we have been able to drop the price to $10 per person and $8 per person for groups of ten or more. This means that you are essentially getting over $25 worth of materials for $10. It will be more than worth it!

Who is Mike Shorey?

jakobguy —  March 28, 2013 — 1 Comment

As we continue to get ready for The Calling, here is another introduction to one of our speakers from this year’s event! If you haven’t registered yet, do so by clicking here!

Picture1Mike Shorey: In his own words…

I grew up in New Hampshire and attended a church that was started in my parents’ basement.  I know what it is like to grow up in the church, walking through the motions, yet having a major disconnect of the heart. Fortunately, God placed many godly influences in my life and opened my eyes to see my desperate need for Him.  I began feeling a nudge from God to pursue youth ministry near the end of high school, so I spent the next few years following that calling. I worked a couple of years as a counselor at Camp Berea (Maine) and attended New England Bible College.  In 2008, I graduated from New England Bible College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Ministries.  In the summer of that year, I married my wife, Megan, and began as the Youth Director of First Baptist Church of Yarmouth, ME.  We currently live in Brunswick with our son, where I continue to serve at FBC of Yarmouth.

In Ministry, my passion is to see and help youth come to understand the glory and greatness of God. I also desire to see teens understand and love God’s Word in a way that lead to a passionate love for their Savior, Jesus.

Mike will be leading the session: The idolatry of Culture. He explains:

In our session together we will be talking about the Idolatry of our culture and media. Idolatry is all around us. There are subtle lies in most of the television we watch, the music we listen to, the schools we attend and in the conversations we have with friends. The sad thing is that we become ensnared by lies. When an idol grabs our heart, we become enslaved to it. We will look at common lies we believe and the freeing truths that the gospel brings.

faith-hope-love

Josh Phillips is a reformed business entrepreneur (business for the glory of God) turned church planting assistant. “Passionate in all my pursuits, with a goal of finding how I can glorify God through my relationships. Humbled he has chosen me to serve a church plant in Portland, Maine.”

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

If you were to meet me in person, you would think, “Southern accent, gentle smile, a little mouthy, but seems passionate and joyful.” That is the part, however, not the whole. What has plagued me since I was 10 years old is an ongoing battle with thoughts of suicide. As I write this, it has been about a month since my last fight. It’s strange because, the battle is never the same. At times, the depression comes on slowly, and takes a few hours to really set in. Other times, I have had suicidal thoughts overwhelm me so quickly and unexpectedly.  Once, while driving, I fought the temptation to pull over & make a bad decision, whereas a mile before, it wasn’t even a thought. No matter how the battle occurs though, it’s always on the back end of a sin I have found in my heart and have yet to confess. Sometimes it’s anger, sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s self-gratification, sometimes it’s arrogance.  Nonetheless, something always predates it.

This isn’t an article about suicide, but rather a reason why 1 Corinthians 13:13 is truth that helps me fight. On the day the suicide battle ensues, it rages loud in my mind. Thoughts, voices, messages, all screaming at me that there is no hope, my faith is worthless, and that my family could use another father’s love (in other words, my wife might remarry once I’m gone). It’s like standing in front of a speaker at a death metal concert, trying to have a conversation with a friend. No matter how close you get to each other, it would be impossible to hear.

And so it is, within my mind, on those days. It’s as if I lose the ability to hear the Holy Spirit speak His comfort to me. It’s as if the sin acts like sound-deafening earmuffs to my spiritual ear.

But, even though I can’t hear Him well, I feel and know the truth in my heart, and therein lies the key to this verse. My faith in the Lord grants me a Savior for my soul and in this case, my life. My study of the scriptures (and remembrance of the peace, wisdom, and comfort He grants me through scripture); worship; and memories of feeling Him close, is what gives me hope in those dark moments. It’s as if my mind reaches down into my heart to feel the truth… as a blind man would, because he cannot read the words with his eyes, but rather feel the words with his skin.  I feel the words of the Spirit’s “braille”  writing transcribed onto my heart. It’s hard at first, but the more I focus, the more I know and understand the Truth.  The more I realize Jesus’ grace has set me free, and I am no longer slave to sin…all because of His love.

It is the truth of Romans 6:17-18 “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves to righteousness.”

I begin to realize in those dark moments that His sacrifice for me has set my heart free to love righteousness, and, to no longer be in the bondage of sin—where darkness and hopelessness reign. Once my faith becomes a part of the night, my hope begins to return, allowing my mind to remember this battle must not be lost! It shall not be upon my hands to determine the day of my death, but upon God’s.

The way I see this life, it is a war (Eph. 6:10-20.) I know that if I am to fight for the Lord, I have a battle coming within my mind and heart. For the enemy speaks lies to me, so as to torment my mind, in the hopes that he can take me out of the battle completely- by convincing me suicide is the best option.

There’s a reason why Paul doesn’t say, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the twine of truth and having put on the cummerbund of righteousness, and, as flip-flops for your feet, having put on readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, take up the blanket of faith, with which you can extinguish all flaming darts of the evil one and put on the veil of salvation, and the rose stem of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” No, he uses actual war tools to allow us to clearly understand this is going to be bloody. This is not a game.

Thus, it is through faith, hope and love that I find the emotional strength to pull on the seed He has sown into my heart, to fight for His Kingdom and not lay down for mine. It is because of His love that I am still alive today to fight this battle with you, which is why it’s the greatest of the three. Love leads to life.

Worship is one of my weapons, and in the words of Mumford and Sons:

“Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.”

May I so quickly remember that sin is what separates me from His love. May confession be quick, allowing His love to rush back in, quieting the rage and allowing me to once again hear the comfort of His Spirit. Amen.

Triumphal EntryWhen Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem for the final time during his earthly life, he couldn’t have been more clear as to what he was doing, and what he was about to accomplish. He had told his disciples plainly that he was going to Jerusalem to die at the hands of the religious leaders, but would rise again three days later (Mark 8:31-33, et al.). Not only was he crystal clear with his disciples, he also explicitly signified to the crowds who were following him exactly who he was and what he was there to do. Here’s the account of the so-called Triumphal Entry from John 12:12-19:

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

The timing of this event, as you know, is so crucial. It is the beginning of Passover Week. Dispersed Jews from all over the Roman Empire were traveling to the Holy City to celebrate and commemorate God’s deliverance of his people in the land of Egypt, when he “passed over” (spared the lives of) the firstborns of every family who sacrificed an unblemished lamb and put its blood on their home’s doorposts (Exodus 12). Jesus knows how important this time of year is to the people. Moreover, he knows that the Old Testament Passover lamb which mitigated the wrath of God was merely a type, a foreshadowing of a greater and ultimate Passover Lamb to come…him. That’s why, in the providence and sovereignty of God, he heads to Jerusalem to face his death precisely when he does.

But I suppose it’s plausible that, since those present didn’t have the luxury of looking back on the event with the full context of Scripture, it was easy to miss the meaning of this divine appointment. However, Jesus did even more to let the people know who he was. In John 12:14 the gospel writer tells us that Jesus purposely rode a donkey into the city.

This is far from a secondary detail. All four gospel writers include this fact. Why? Why must we know that Jesus didn’t walk to the city (which he easily could have done, since Bethany was approximately two miles outside of Jerusalem)? Why didn’t Jesus ride a horse or some other larger animal if he didn’t want to walk? Scripture tells us. He rode the donkey to fulfill Zechariah 9:9. He was presenting himself to the people as their long-awaited Messiah.

Despite all of this, though, the Bible tells us that everyone present that day totally missed the point. John 12:16 says that the disciples didn’t understand what was going on. “These things” likely refers to the whole ordeal. They didn’t know why Jesus told them to go get him a donkey. They didn’t know why he wanted to ride instead of walk. They didn’t know why the people were so excited about his arrival. They were, in a sense, clueless.

The crowd was enthralled with Jesus. They were partying. They assumed that this man could be the one who would finally restore Israel’s former earthly prominence. In vv.12-13 they greet him like a conquering military victor or king. And v.18 tells us their motives: they had heard that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Obviously Jesus was endowed with power from God. Perhaps he could use that power on the Romans. Rome didn’t stand a chance! But they would be sadly disappointed when they realized that Jesus wasn’t there for that. The proof of this is that less than a week later many of these same people were screaming to Pilate to have Jesus crucified.

In v.19, the Pharisees are up to their usual business. The only thing they’re worried about is that Jesus has more of a following than they do. There they were, staring right at their Messiah, and they were too consumed with power and influence to see him. If anyone knew Zechariah 9:9, these men did. But they whine and complain instead of worshiping.

So, since the disciples were puzzled, the crowd was mistaken, and the Pharisees were the Pharisees, maybe this event is better labeled “The Not-So-Triumphal Entry”. Or, maybe not.

Even though everyone missed it, Jesus was still entering the city as a triumphant King. He was still fulfilling the redemptive plan of God to be the unblemished sacrifice for the sins of his people. He was riding in as a humble King, but a triumphant King nonetheless. So, even though this event wasn’t triumphant on the superficial level we normally think of, it was more triumphant than we could ever imagine. That’s why we continue to celebrate this day, and refuse to let the stones take our place (Luke 19:40).

If you want a more complete treatment of the thoughts here, you can watch this message from Palm Sunday 2013.

 

New EnglandNew England is a special place. We all know that, and believe that, I’m sure. But what makes us so unique? The answers are legion, but Ed Stetzer released some statistics that show that spiritually we are unique. You can view those charts on his article “New England: New Research and Analysis on America’s Least Religious Region.”

In a nut shell, Stetzer shows that church attendance in New England shifted noticeably in the last decade. He also has numbers to suggest that we take our discipleship less seriously, while we take our social interconnectedness with our church family more seriously.

Here’s are few questions:

  • What happened in the last decade that affected attendance so? (Do you agree with his suggestion?)
  • Why do New Englanders seem less likely to embrace Jesus as their highest joy or seek to openly share their faith or pray?
  • Is this due to the inclusion of the more liberal strains of Christianity in these surveys?
  • How do the people in your church family trend when compared to these questions?
  • What do we need to do to prepare our people to live as disciples of Jesus in this culture?

This is a potent antidote to “gospel-centered overload” and “radical guilt” and “missional burnout.” We all need to listen to this sermon once a month! Let this vision for all of life and faith in Christ permeate your heart and mind and prayer and preaching!

Gospel-Centered Overload

Matthew Grise —  March 19, 2013 — 1 Comment

Earlier this month, Tim Challies authored a post/book list entitled The Gospel-Centered Everything. In it, he compiles a very helpful list of resources that encourage Christians to learn and apply the implications of the gospel to every area of life. I highly recommend perusing it.

Gospel-Centered OverloadHe also includes some thoughts about the “gospel-centered movement” that I wanted to briefly mention here as a means of pointing you to his article. While whole-heartedly affirming that the gospel is indeed pertinent for all of life and Jesus’ lordship extends over everything, he cautions against the overuse or misuse of the term “gospel-centered”, worrying that in some respects this term has simply become the “flavor of the day”.

He’s concerned that: “Gospel-centered” is a popular term and one we may look to as a mark of conformity or orthodoxy, as if using the term is inherently good. This is a good caution (as are his other concerns). There does seem to be a tendency to slap “gospel-centered” in front of everything in order to tap in to a growing trend. Even now I am writing whilst sipping a delicious cup of gospel-centered coffee. (Forgive my facetious tone. By the way, why hasn’t anyone opened a GC Coffee Shop yet? Entrepreneurs take note.)

Even those of us who love the gospel-centered movement need to be reminded to protect against the temptation to make our theology a fad. We need to be careful that our love of Christ and his gospel remains just that, and doesn’t warp into a love of specific terminology or pride in our enlightened understanding of Scripture.

Balancing out his concerns are some benefits of the emerging “gospel-centered” terminology. For example, even the very composition of the term reminds us time and again of the utter and essential centrality of the gospel to the Christian life and to the Christianity community. There’s no question that gospel-centrality is a good thing, because it’s a biblical thing. So if there is such a thing as “gospel-centered overload” developing, it’s no fault of the gospel.

Every generation has the responsibility to approach the Christian life with careful thought, theological and biblical reflection, and a willingness to correct potential pitfalls. Ours included. Challies’ article is a good reminder of this.

Take a look at his full blog post HERE.

 

Part of the heart of the Gospel Alliance NE is providing churches and ministries with resources that will help them along the way towards Gospel-renewal. It is for that reason that we are busy at work preparing for the Calling Youth Conference which is just under one month away! As we prepare for this day, we want to make sure that you are as equipped as you can be with some of the greatest resources we can provide.

We are already working on getting one or two free books for everyone who attends the conference on April 13, but thought it might be good to throw another free book in there… just for fun.

That is why, the next fifteen people to register for the Calling (see form below) will receive a free copy of Rick Horne’s incredibly helpful book, Get Outta My Face!: How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel

get_outtaHere’s the (back cover) synopsis:

Here’s a fact.

Angry, unmotivated, and disinterested teens, whether Christian or not, are confused, insecure, and often blind to everything except what they want right now. Their desires and actions have been corrupted and polluted by sin. That’s why they have a problem.

Here’s another fact.

Angry, unmotivated, and disinterested teens, whether Christian or not, are made in the image of God. This means that beneath their corrupted desires and actions the image of God remains. That’s the key to solving their problem.

Far from dismissing or sugar-coating sin, this approach opens wide the door to evangelizing the unsaved teen and to helping the Christian teen grow in holiness and wisdom. This book will teach you how to build a bridge to young adults on the basis of the ways in which their desires and actions reflect the image of God and the blessing of common grace.

So register now and not only will you receive the books everyone else will get, but you’ll also receive Get Outta My Face, and you’ll be blessed by the great teaching that Nathan Morgan Locke and our other speakers will be bringing!

thecalling-graphic

Who is Nathan Rockafellow?

jakobguy —  March 14, 2013 — 1 Comment

As we continue to get ready for The Calling, here is another introduction to one of our speakers from this year’s event! If you haven’t registered yet, do so by clicking here!

Nathan RockafellowNathan Rockafellow: In his own words…

“I’ve done a lot of far-out things, and I’ve got a lot of stories to tell, but my life isn’t about all that; it’s about knowing God and growing in Him! The rest of my story is still being written, but here’s a snapshot of my life: graduate of Marshwood High School and Lancaster Bible College, cross-country traveler, backyard mechanic, Jeeper, motorcycle bum, Iron Butt Association member, outdoorsman, Rocky fan, Trekkie, dog lover, husband and father of two! I have dedicated my life to serving the Lord and have been a Youth Pastor since 1997, most of that time being spent at Eliot Baptist Church in Eliot, Maine.  My greatest joy is time spent with my wife Suzanne and children Abi and Ethan.”

 

We also asked Nathan to give us a brief snapshot of his breakout session: Restoring the Sexually Broken – What Christ has to say to the longing heart.

Dear wandering heart, I love you. I’ve got time for you. I understand your thirst. Let me show you a better way to satisfy! - Jesus

John 4: the Samaritan at the well had issues. Without a doubt, broken relationships had left their mark on this woman’s body and soul. Can you relate? Teens today can.

Day after day, thirst drives us to the well; Jesus waits for us there! ”If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.” John 4:10.

Jesus the Messiah has much to say to the thirsty heart. His love restores the sexually broken. It meets the longing heart. Christ focuses on the center of our need – intimacy. Intimacy with God, with ourselves, then with those around us.

Yesterday we started looking at the speakers for this year’s Calling event in South Portland, ME. Here’s the rest of Nathan Morgan Locke’s interview. View Part One

Nathan Morgan LockeThe Gospel Alliance asked: What is your biggest desire for the teens of our world?

Nate Morgan Locke: That they “Behold the Lamb!” It’s the only way anyone can become a Christian and the only way Christians can grow in their faith. I love Charles Wesley’s lyric “tis all our business here below to cry ‘Behold the Lamb!’” I think that just about sums it up.

GA: How does the message of Jesus bring healing to our teens, families, and churches?

NML: I think the key here is to understand both Romans 5:8 and Romans 6:8. The first tells us “Christ died for us” and so we can find forgiveness. The second tells us “we died with Christ” and so we can know unity with him. It has a profound impact on our discipleship if we fail to grasp both of these. If we miss the first we carry our sin around with us, never sure if there’s more judgment to come. If we miss the second we only have a gospel which works after we’ve messed up and therefore we lurch from one act of repentance to the next, living as functional works righteousness people. Either way our lives are pretty miserable! When we understand both that Christ died “for us” and that we died “with Christ” then we can start to enjoy the new humanity birthed in his resurrection!

Be sure to join us at the Calling as Nate and others talk with us about the Gospel of Restoration. Nate will be leading our main session: Restoring the Image of God, as well as speaking in three breakout sessions throughout the day. To register for the Calling, click here.