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Letter from our new Youth Director

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have been given the privilege of working with the youth of Koinonia Fellowship on Wednesday nights in the Agapé Hall. In January we went through the book of Jonah together and we saw how God could take a stubborn, racist, bigoted prophet who had run away; save him by booking him a three night stay at the Whale Motel; take him right back to land; send him on his way to a city filled with people he legitimately hated; and use him there to bring about one of the greatest revivals in history.

We have had some guest worship leaders join us each week and it is so beautiful to hear the kids singing their hearts back to Jesus. I have truly felt His sweet presence in the room as we have gone to His feet in praise. I know He is working in our hearts. It’s so refreshing to get to sing with these kids!

We have an incredible group of leaders who are committed wholeheartedly to these kids. Their desire to see each student grow and develop an individual faith is clearly seen. It is truly an honor to get to work with these leaders.

In February we began going through Colossians. This book was on my heart because it is a practical book filled with wisdom and encouragement. Each and every letter Paul wrote to the churches was written to build them up and encourage them. He gave practical advice applicable to the situations they found themselves in each day in the time and place they were living in. This letter is just as potently relevant today as it was then. Kids are dealing with hundreds of different stimulants and activities. They need simple, positive input from people who love them to death and want what’s best for them. Paul knew this about the Colossians, and sought to encourage them, so we are going through his letter to them today.

Our ministry vision for Accelerate is “Teaching young people the Bible. Leading them as disciples of Jesus. Aiding them in living out their faith in daily life.” In spending time with the kids each week we are able to have conversations with them. These conversations often lead to teachable moments where we get to talk about how we can live like Jesus in the simple situations in our lives.

Memorial Stones of the Rock

By Domenico Danesi

After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River the Lord commanded Joshua to choose twelve men to each take out of the midst of the Jordan a stone (Joshua 4:5). What was the purpose of these 12 stones? “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying what mean you by these stones? Then you shall answer them, that the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord: when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)

As parents, we too are living stones (I Peter 2:5)! What we do and say will be a memorial for our children. How we live outside of the church walls is as important as how we live inside of them on Sunday. The easiest place to speak and act like a Christian is at church. We may be able to fool some people but we are not fooling our children. They live with us, they know us. Our children see us fail, they hear us lose our tempers. They know us better than we think.

One Wednesday evening the children viewed a Torchlighters Voice of the Martyrs video about Samuel Morris. This young African man was only 20 years old when he died of hypothermia but he touched so many people across the world for Jesus. This story made me wonder, will we be able to impact our children for the Gospel? Will our lives be like the memorial stones that were taken out of the Jordan? Will our lives be remembered for generations to come? When people ask your child, “What is the meaning of that photo?” or” What is the meaning of that old Bible you always read?”, will your child respond, “This was my father who served God with his whole heart” or “This was my mother, the best example of a Christian I ever knew”?

The good news is we have the “Captain of the Host of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13) to lead us. Just like Joshua was called to lead the Israelites, we are called to lead our families into the Land of Canaan (Christian life). There are many battles as Christians but if we “follow the Captain” He will fight for us! When it is all over and the battles have ceased, let us leave a memorial stone that reminds people of the Rock; “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:18) Let the memory of our lives serve as a reminder to the generations to come that “the Rock” Jesus Christ lives forevermore!

 

 

What Are You Looking For?

Pastor Ray Viola
A Godward, Christ-centered Perspective 

An integral part of a healthy walk with Christ stems from what we choose to focus on in life. The Christian life is a supernatural life that is lived in the natural realm. When the apostle Paul was writing to the church at Corinth about being at home in the body, but absent from being with The Lord, he declared that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Isn’t it interesting that the verses that precede and follow this verse regarding walking by faith and not by sight contain the word “confident”. 

Paul tells us that he did not look at the things that were seen, but at the things that were unseen. I understand the things that are seen to be referring to his circumstances. And the circumstances that he was referring to were quite daunting (cp. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, 11:23-28). Paul could endure such adversities because he was looking at things that could not be seen. I believe that Moses had the very same perspective for the writer of Hebrews tells us that “by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible.” (Hebrew 11:27) One can only see Him Who is invisible with the eye of faith. And one can only receive that gift of faith by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8). 

What we are talking about here, beloved, is the need for us to cultivate a Godward and heavenly perspective in life. We must repeatedly preach to ourselves the truth that as Christians we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) Our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we look (perspective) for The Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). While we are absent from The Lord, we need to diligently determine to set our affection on things above, not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:2). Yes, we are taught in Scripture to display our faith in Christ with hard-working, God-glorifying work ethics (Ephesians 6:5-9). Proverbs repeatedly warns us against laziness (Proverbs 24:30-34) in order that we may provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8) and be a good witness (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). However, it is only by keeping a Godward focus that we can prevent being trapped and ensnared by the thorns of this fallen world (Luke 8:14). 

 

“Accelerate” Youth Ministry

By Pat Tharp

Back in March of 2011, the Leadership Board here at Koinonia gave me the amazing privilege to lead the Youth Ministry. It has been an incredible 3 years, and by God’s grace I was able to serve, share the word, and see many young people meet Jesus as they entered their teen years, left their teen years, graduated, went off to work or to college, and some even prepared for marriage.

It has been a journey that has been fruitful, satisfying, sometimes demanding, a few times heart breaking, but all the time worth it! And as with every great journey that begins, each one has an ending. For me, through much prayer over the last year, discussion with my wife, family, and the leadership board, my season in youth ministry has come to an end.

As an Elder here at Koinonia, I will continue serving on the board and leading the Worship Ministry and other related areas of responsibility. However, my ending is not the end of the Youth Ministry but it is the joyful beginning of a new chapter of a new work, with new opportunities and a new leader.

It is with great pleasure and thankfulness that I introduce to our church Family and Youth Ministry, the new Director of the Youth Ministry, Collin Zweigle.

The Lord has been preparing us for this young man for a while. My path with Collin actually has intersected on numerous occasions. I once heard from a friend about 6 years ago that there was a “young guy who leads worship that you need to keep your eye on.” That young guy was Collin. Over the years Collin has ministered in a worship band that we have had at some of our events, and in life and ministry I have seen him from a distance and up close demonstrate a faithful and genuine love for Jesus and others. He once even gave me a gospel track in Canandaigua at a 4th of July Celebration! I was able to give it to some kids who didn’t know Jesus.

God’s sense of humor, providence, and planning never cease to amaze me. I am very thankful for Collin and the way the Lord has brought him here, and His plan for our church family. Collin is not just “stepping in”, but in God’s design he is bringing fresh vision, passion, and a pursuit of Christ with an aim to lead our young people as life-long disciples of Jesus Christ who hit the target of His purpose for their lives.

As Moses passed on the ministry to Joshua and Paul poured into Timothy, I am beyond blessed to affirm and introduce Collin as the new Youth Ministry Director. He is a graduate of the Calvary Chapel school of Ministry, where he earned a Certificate of Theology, and his last ministry position was at Browncroft Community Church, where he led a branch of their Youth Ministry. Collin is currently a part-time student in his second semester at Monroe Community College. His desire is to transfer into Nazareth College’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program in the fall of 2015.

Does God Know You?

By Lynn Metier

“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”(Revelation 3:20) Sharing a meal with someone in the culture of Jesus’ day meant a level of fellowship that is largely missing today. In our fast-paced culture most connections are superficial and relationships are shallow. It is possible to “know” (be acquainted with) many people, but really know, or be known by, no one.

The word know is a verb, an action word, and its meanings include: to recognize, be acquainted with, have sexual relationship with, understand, experience. Thus, even by definition, the activity of knowing is not limited to mental involvement, but can encompass other levels of interfacing, including physical, emotional, and spiritual. Of course the all-knowing Creator is aware of and knowledgeable about every one of His created beings. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) And God’s knowledge of men goes beyond casual observation or statistical analysis (Psalm 139:1-6,13-18). Why does God care so much about us? For one thing, humanity is God’s crowning creation because Adam and Eve were created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27), and God’s desire and plan is for the redeemed to become like Jesus. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Did you catch that? “…whom He foreknew. Those people whom God (in His infinite foresight, complete comprehension and total understanding) knew before the creation of the universe (Ephesians 1:4-5) would, in the exercise of their free will, receive His grace, recognize their helpless and hopeless state of sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6), and respond to His offer of salvation and eternal life, they are the ones destined for divine transformation and glory (Romans 8:30).

Giving Myself Advice

By Pat Tharp

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and give yourself advice for the future? It sounds like something from a sci-fi flick, but if we could, we’d all probably make the trip. Looking back at our lives as parents, we see a lot of broken things. We have regrets, failures, and a number of things we wish we “did differently.” Our hearts of love for our children make us want to “spare them” the grief of what we went through.

We see in the Bible many examples of fathers and mothers giving advice to their children, exhorting them with wise counsel and knowledge to make wise choices - like King David did to Solomon, and King Solomon did to his children. As parents, we always want to protect our kids from doing the same foolish things we did and not repeat the mistakes we made. If I could go back and speak to Pat as a teen I would encourage him with a few things. (There are probably many more!) Maybe these are some of the things you need to share with your young person as they walk in this world.

 

  • Know that Jesus loves you no matter how badly you’ve messed up, or where you are today. That moment or mistake is only a page in your life, it’s not the end. Jesus has much more for you! For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

  • Trust your parents. They aren’t as dumb as you think, and you’re not as smart as you believe. They love you more than you’ll ever know. God gave them to you! Talk to them, they probably have some wisdom that will be helpful to you. “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother;” Proverbs 1:8.

 

  • Save your virginity for your future marriage partner. You will have no regrets when you say “I do” on that day. Your purity will be the greatest gift you can give your spouse. If you’ve blown it, there is forgiveness from Jesus and he will give you a clean start, 1 John 1:9. Guard your heart and your relationships. “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.” Proverbs 7:27

 

  • Make choices with a long view in mind. Studying hard, applying yourself, saving money, and planning wisely will all reap a blessing and a benefit that in this moment are unseen, but in those future days will be very evident to you. Good and godly choices are worth it! “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace.” Psalm 37:37

 

  • “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come…”Ecclesiastes 12:1. Walking with Jesus is not something you want to put off for a “later time.” Days, weeks, months, and years will fly by. We are a vapor and there really is not a lot of time on this side of eternity to waste. Walk with Jesus, get to know Him, and see the amazing things He will do in your life as you do.

 

Children's Ministry

By Domenico Danesi
 
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
 
As we enter a new year I think about the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Many “new things” will be happening in the children’s ministry as of January. The Sunday school services have already changed a bit with a new curriculum. We now gather corporately for a portion of Sunday school services, and the name of the ministry is now “The Light of the lambs”. Beginning in January, Wednesday evenings will also change for the children. They will be reading scripture together, learning people and life skills, and, most importantly, continue learning the word of God. As things progress on Wednesday evenings I ask you all to pray for men and women who are skilled in different trades to come forward and teach the children these valuable skills.  
 
We must equip our children spiritually and practically. Discipleship occurs when someone of an older generation takes the time to teach someone of the current generation. It is the classic “Paul and Timothy model” we see in the scriptures. Paul called Timothy his son in the faith (2 Timothy 1:2). The older Paul discipled the young man Timothy, who eventually pastored the church in Ephesus. Paul used what he knew to train his spiritual son; he used the scriptures. Do not be fooled by thinking there is a new path. There never has been a different way, there never will be.



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