#XA2015

XA Day 2 was a jam-packed, fun-filled day! The students kicked off their day with breakfast in their host homes (shout out to our adult volunteers for cooking/preparing breakfast!) and more small group time. Then we all met back in the brick where a representative from each grade faced off in a dance battle, with the top 2 going on to compete in “Trading Punches”. (Punching out pre-made holes in a cardboard slab. Don’t worry, students were not punching each other). Senior girl Logan Miller managed to stomach down 2 bites of squid to take home the grand prize: a $50 gift card! Congratulations Logan! We also crowned the winner of the XA 2014 promotion. Ethan Johnston, 7th grade, won a $400 gift card. He turned down an Xbox 1 for the gift card because he figured out that $400 could buy him both the Xbox and a new game. Smart man. Congratulations Ethan!

Unhindered led us in a powerful time of worship this morning, with teaching out of Psalm 103 on what it truly means to praise God. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” We are so grateful that they were here leading us this weekend. Then Michael Kelley expanded on the Exchange we learned about Friday night, diving into why God would make this inequitable exchange. The reason is simple, but deep: because God loves us. He taught out of I John 2:28-3:2, showing us that we struggle to comprehend the love of God because of the way we treat love. Our human capacity to love is often based in how others make us feel. “I love you because you make me feel respected, wanted, important, beautiful, fill-in-the-blank.” And this low view of love affects our view of God’s love for us. We begin to think that God loves us based on our own merit or worth or the way we make him feel, when in fact, he loves us despite all of that. The source of God’s love has nothing to do with us; the source of God’s love is God Himself. In order to truly have a relationship with God, we must first fully realize and accept that He loves us because of who He is. And because of this love, when we accept this love, we are changed at our core from a hopeless desperate sinner into a child of God.

“The love of God is not something you ever move past. The love of God is something you move deeper into” –Michael Kelley

From the morning service, everyone scattered across the church to eat pizza and meet for a small group session. Then everyone involved in the weekend gathered in the Atrium to take the big group picture. After that, afternoon sessions began. Junior High spent the afternoon competing in recreation at the Heights. Freshmen and Sophomores were at La Mirada apartment complex, hosting a Gospel-centered festival for children and families there. Juniors and Seniors were spread across Richardson and Allen, serving widows from the church. Afternoon activities were a huge success and it’s awesome to step back and see how the Lord worked uniquely through each one to build His Kingdom.

We all gathered back at the church for dinner and then began our last worship service. Wow. What an incredible evening of worship. The final main group session started off with the THSM staff reading scripture over us, pointing us to who God is directly from God’s word. Unhindered led us in musical worship, welcoming the Holy Spirit into our time together since we know He is already present. We spent intentional time in prayer and reflection, asking the Spirit to reveal the wounds and baggage we were carrying into tonight, to see if we truly believe Jesus can heal our hearts.

Michael Kelley continued guiding us through the concept of Exchange: Gaining through giving up, starting off by explaining what it means to truly follow Jesus. He showed us examples of the disciples’ responses when Jesus called them, how immediately they left everything to follow Jesus. They left their jobs, their families, their homes, their comfort, their livelihood, all of it to follow Christ. Two words, Follow Me, that changed these men’s lives forever. And Jesus still says them to us today.

But, we often encounter misunderstandings of this call to follow Jesus. One is that following Jesus consists of making Him your #1 priority. The problem with that is, if Jesus is just at the top of your list, something else will eventually replace Him and it will become this never-ending cycle of shifting things on a list. Instead of being the top of our lists, Jesus is the hub to our wheel, and all the spokes of our lives branch out of the hub. Jesus died so that we no longer have to have a list. Another misconception is that following Jesus always means doing something big. Michael reminded us that we have opportunities every single day to follow His call, but we often miss them because we are waiting for or expecting something bigger. But if we want to embrace this call in the big ways, we have to start with the small ways. The final misconception we talked about is that the call to follow Christ ends in loss. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Though the pathway to following Jesus is marked by a loss of our old self and lives, the end destination is gain—eternal life in Christ Jesus. This gain is so great that we should want to give everything up to follow Jesus.

There is no such thing as a casual follower of Christ. The disciples didn’t keep their nets in their back pockets as a back-up just in case this whole following-Jesus thing didn’t work out. They fully surrendered to His call. Which is exactly what we too are called to do.

We are posting this detailed summary of Chi Alpha with the hope and prayer that it will launch you, as parents, into good conversations with your student(s) about all that God is teaching them and doing in their lives as a result of this weekend. You get to help them process through all the teachings of the weekend and encourage them as they choose to live daily submitted to Jesus’s Lordship.

Please continue praying for our students, that the Lord will make these truths firmly cemented in their hearts and minds. Pray for them as they return to school this week, that the things they learned this weekend will transform the way they live and move and breathe. Pray that this weekend will not just become another fun event for them, but a time they can look back on and remember what Christ did in their lives.

***For more photos from XA2015, check out this link: https://thsm.shutterfly.com

This post was written by Mallory Behenna, wife of Bo Behenna and director for 12th grade class in THSM. She is a physical therapist in McKinney, TX.

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Chi Alpha Kick Off.

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Well, XA 2015 is officially underway! Tonight, over 280 students, 35 college students, and 140 adult volunteer leaders packed into The Brick to kick off this weekend full of worship and fellowship. Unhindered got us out of our seats dancing and led us in a great time of musical worship, setting the tone for the weekend by reminding us of who God is and what our identities are in light of that.

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The theme for the weekend is “Exchange: Gaining through giving up”. Michael Kelly led us tonight from Luke 4:14-30, showing us that Jesus came to make the ultimate exchange for us when he took on our sin, offered up his life, and defeated death to allow us to share in his righteousness. We truly are on the unbelievably good end of this deal, by God’s grace! However, as good as this gift is, many of us do not get to share in it because we fail to see our need for a Savior. Our pride, our belief that we are “good enough” people who do not need saving, keeps us from experiencing the miracle of this gift that God offers us. Michael challenged us to allow God to examine our hearts and reveal what our expectations of God are, to see if we have ever truly submitted to Him as Lord, before moving on in this weekend.

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Please pray for our students, that the Lord will make the miraculous truth of His Gospel so clear to them this weekend. Pray that the Lord will bring students from death to life for the first time. Pray that He will draw Christ-followers deeper still.

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Pray for our college students to be led by the Spirit in small group times, that discussion will be deep and students will make deeper connections through this intentional time together. Pray for our staff, the band, and Michael Kelly as they continue to lead us this weekend.

Thank you for sharing your student with us for the weekend, we are truly expectant that the Lord will continue to move in a big way here at THSM! Coming up tomorrow: more great worship and rec/missions!

This post was written by Mallory Behenna, Bo Behenna’s wife and director of the 12th grade class in THSM. She is a physical therapist in McKinney, TX.