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Our Winter Retreat

03.01.22 | Newsletter | by Michael Bates

    Our Winter Retreat                                                 Michael Bates, Student Minister

    When you read this, our winter retreat will be two weeks in the past. I am going to project that it was filled with laughter, fellowship, good eating, games and studying God's Holy Word. But what did we talk about in our four sessions that weekend? Let me give you a summary of what was being taught to our students.

                 Session one was an intro to the decision making procedures a typical teenager goes through. Basically the process reveals this basic principle, "How close can I get to sin without sinning." It is like riding a trail bike around the edges of a cliff at 60 mph and hoping you do not slip off.  They will continue to fall into the same temptations over and over again.  Then this can lead them to a desire to rededicate their lives constantly. When this process continues long enough, they may even start doubting if they are saved and that Christianity doesn't really work.


    Thus I reveal to them a new question to ask, as a believer, "Is this the wise thing for me to do?" Then we look at Ephesians 5:15-17 (our main text) along with other texts and figure out whether they are living as a wise person, a foolish person or even a scoffer.

    Second session dealt with how to finish strong as a believer. One of the main resources I used was a book by Steve Farrar entitled Finishing strong. The youth were exposed to four statements in Finishing Strong: Stay in The scriptures. Stay close to an accountability person. Stay away from sin and stay alert to the schemes of the devil. Then the students were informed about the truth of sin. It will take you further than you wanted to go. It will keep you longer than you wanted to stay. Sin will cost you more than you wanted to pay.

    The third session looked at examples from the Bible of those who started off strong but then finished     so-so like David. Those who started terribly but finished strong like Uzziah. Finally look at those who started strong, remained strong and   finished strong like Joseph. We then looked at how we could learn from each of these  accounts in God's Word to help them today in their lives.

    The fourth session was a hands on approach. I taught the students that they must correct their bad  compass. It leads to bad comprehension of things. They were shown a different compass in God's word. They were asked to remember three components: Stop and think backwards. This means actually looking at a        situation or decision and seeing how all the different scenarios or options could and might play out and their  consequences.

    The second component to remember is to look for the lie! There is always a misleading factor in decision making when looking at all options in what one should do. After this, then they should listen to God's words. Then you will be able to make the wisest decision for your life when it is following the truth and precepts of God's word. Then we had a lot of scenarios for them to actually figure out together. Looking at the different outcomes and consequences of each situation. They were taught how to find Gods answers and apply them appropriately. This also included not taking scripture out of context for your own desires.

    The whole time I was preparing these messages, I couldn't help but notice something. Even as adults, we would be prudent to ask ourselves in every situation in which we must decide: whether it is a choice of doing something, or hearing something and deciding to act on it, believe it or not to believe it. If we would just work through every option and decision that could be made and see what the consequences of each action could or might have. Then seeing what God's Word says about each of these options as we try and find the lie, we might save ourselves a lot of grief in the end.

    Continue to pray for our youth as they make decisions every day that can be detrimental to their        emotional, physical and spiritual lives as well as positive decisions that lead to the opposite. They need our   prayer support as well as adults who lead by examples of integrity in the Lord.                                                  

    God Bless,

    Michael Bates