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Lutz, FL 33548

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Tampa, FL 33604

Iglesia Bautista Idlewild

Main Campus, Student Building, Hall 2
 

Class of 2020 Blog

Class of 2020 Blog

Broad v Narrow

William Pledger

 

Hello everyone

In Matthew 7, we read the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The second half of this chapter revolves around the two philosophies in life – God’s will and that of humanity. This portion can be summed up in verses 13 and 14: “13 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Jesus starts off with the command “Enter through the narrow gate” before talking about the broad path. He gives it priority because it is less desirable to choose. The ways of the world are enjoyable, as it is a product of our sinful nature. Personally, I enjoy listening to 80s rock and watching The Office. We all can identify something of the world that we pursue. While these avenues are not always toxic to our Christian life, they are at minimum an empty outlet. They do not bring us closer to God, which we should strive to do. If we have repented of our sins and profess our faith in Christ, we should not grow stagnant. Why then pursuit what is meaningless? Jesus continues the look at philosophy in verse 14, talking about the path to righteousness. He compares the difficulty of following Him to a narrow gate. Tight passages are not always comfortable, we have to contort our bodies in weird ways, may get claustrophobic. It is often easier to defer to another option. For those who find and stay to the narrow path, the journey will not be easy. In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” We see that hatred from the world today, as some countries persecute Christianity. And while we enjoy religious freedom in America, we may still be challenged or mocked by some. Whatever the case, the world does not agree with our mindset. Jesus charges us to remain faithful to the path of life.

 

Now, it would be difficult to completely avoid all forms of the world. As mentioned earlier, not everything of the world is toxic to our character. We should definitely avoid anything we know defies God’s will, but what about the neutral stuff? Think of a bag of Doritos, or a soda can. While those things taste good, they are empty for our bodies and health. However, in moderation, it is alright. Similarly, things of the world may be pleasing, but we should not let it occupy our whole attention. We do not have to turn down everything worldly so that we have our head in scripture constantly. But I can guarantee we all have at least one thing we can cut back on and dedicate more time to our Christian faith. Jesus closes Matthew 7 with the illustration of the two men who built houses in different locations. The smart one, who anchored his residence on the rock still encountered rain fall, but was unaffected. So too, we are going to encounter the world, but if we choose to follow the narrow path and anchor our life in Christ, we will be affected by what the fallen world throws at us.

 

Blessings

-William Pledger

 


A Child of God

Jordan Smith

 

What do Pumbaa, Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldi, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Spider-man have in common?

All four of these characters are classic examples of misfits.  Our entertainment industry loves to glamourize the misfits.  They’re our favorite characters.  They’re the ones we root for.  And, more often than not, the individuals that can’t quite fit the mold are the ones we identify with most.

As soon as I entered middle school, I fell into this category.  And not in a “cute” or “quirky” way, either.  I was homeschooled.  I didn’t have many friends.  I often sat alone during Wired.  I couldn’t help but notice that the “cool” crowd consisted of thin, pretty girls with perfectly straightened hair who seemed to have it all together.  They would even save seats for each other on Wednesday night.

I started seeing myself differently.  I began to look in the mirror and hate what I saw.  I never actually starved myself, but that didn’t mean my mind plagued me any less.  I couldn’t leave the house without makeup.  I constantly compared my body to others.  I thought that if only I were thinner, I would be happy.

For every time my parents told me I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I reminded myself that if I really were beautiful, I would have friends.  Or a boyfriend.  Or someone outside my family who would look at me and like what they saw.  I thought that if another person validated me, I would never feel ugly or worthless.

No.  Absolutely not.  That’s a lie.  My self-hatred could never be cured by another human.  Dear reader, your need for acceptance (and mine) cannot and will not be met by anyone other than Jesus Christ.  You will never find another love like His.  One of my favorite passages, Ephesians 3:17-19, reads, “Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (BSB)

Did you catch it?  We need to know the love that surpasses knowledge.  That puzzled me.  However, in New Testament Greek, the word ‘know’ is the word ‘ginóskó,’ meaning to learn through personal experience (Strong’s Concordance).  In fact, that’s the word Mary uses when she asks the angel, “How will this be, since I do not know a man,” (HELPS Word-studies).  This is an intimate, personal knowledge.  We know the love of Jesus by experiencing it.

How does this help the person feeling like a misfit?  Well, in the eyes of Jesus, there are no misfits.  There are no outsiders.  He loves you no matter what.  And, by the way, according to 1 Timothy 4:4, everything God created is good.  That includes you and me.  God didn’t make a mistake when He made you.

To the person out there struggling with their body, it does get better.  Although I do still struggle with physical insecurities, I have come a long way since middle school.  I don’t hate what I see in the mirror anymore.  However, it didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen through some sort of glow-up.  Nothing short of the power of God is required to renew your mindset.  Experiencing the incredible, mind-boggling love of Jesus is an extremely important element in this.  Remember, He is the one to fill your need for acceptance.  You are not a misfit; you are an irreplaceable, treasured child of God.

 


In Between the Thunder + Lightning

Travis Shelby

 

We live our lives in storms. We struggle. A lot. But there’s one truth that I think a lot of us forget. I know I’ve forgotten it so many times. And that truth is that God meets us in between the thunder and the lightning. That phrase has been in my heart for years and it was really the only reason I got through highschool. Knowing that in the middle of the storm I was in that God was meeting me there. God found me in the middle of the thunder and the lightning. So many times we begin to feel distant from God. For me it was because the thunder from the storms got so loud. In our lives our struggles are loud and honestly they seem to drown out God’s voice, but simply we need to lean in and get close. Draw near to God in the middle of the storms. In the middle of the thunder and the lightning come to God. Yes the thunder and lightning are deafening. Yes there are days where we won’t hear God. There have been months where I didn’t hear God because of how loud the thunder was. Whether it was my addiction to pornography, my depression, my anxiety, or my rocky relationship with my mom there was always something that seemed louder than God. But simply God doesn’t come in the thunder. God doesn’t come in the wind. God comes in between the thunder and the lightning when all things are still and quiet and it requires us to draw in close to Him. So many times I remember just laying in bed after possibly the worst moments in my life. Whether that moment was from relapsing with pornography, after an anxiety attack, after a terrible day with my mom, or in the midst of my depression I remember God coming to me in the silence and stilness and comforting me. He found me in between the thunder and the lightning. God finds us in between the thunder and the lightning and loves us no matter what. God loves us no matter the storm we’re in. God is with us in the middle of the storm. So the days where it’s hard to wake up and the days it’s hard to even think that God loves you just remember that God does love you and that He’s there with you. I encourage you to take a moment to just pause in the middle of the storm. Just stand there. While the winds and rain rage around you and the thunder and lightning seem to be drowning everything out, be still and pray. Just pray. Ask for God’s comfort during that time and for Him to just come to you in the middle of the thunder and the lightning. Remember this, God will always find you in between the thunder and the lightning.

 

 

 

 


Glow Through What You Go Through

Ethan Cedre

Colossians 3:17 says: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Throughout my high school year, it was so easy to put God off till tomorrow. It was so easy just to pray and move on but relive my issues the next day. I always got so caught up with what I wanted for myself that I never listened to what God wanted for me. Some of my decisions are living proof that I should’ve listened to God but instead I listened to myself. I always focused and sometimes still focus on what other people think of me, and how much I can get someone to like me. The truth is I focused more on how other people felt about me instead of God. Someone may betray you, hate you, disrespect you, talk about you behind there back, and do anything in their power to bring you down. God will never let you down or do anything to hurt you, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in my 18 years of living.

I was raised in a Christian home, always went to church, always read my bible, always prayed, I was raised by two very faithful parents. When I was in middle school, I struggled with temptation and personal issues with family. God got me through those difficult times and made me who I am today. Throughout my high school years, I struggled with the exact same things but they were even worse than before. I called myself a Christian, but I never took the time to learn more about God and that was my biggest weakness in life. June 10th, 2018 at Camp Idlewild I gave my life to Christ and got baptized. I’ve always struggled with my Faith since before that day, I always classified myself as a believer but never walked with God. Of course, I struggled throughout the years with those same sins and problems but I wasn’t doing it alone anymore, I had God right beside me the whole time and he never left my side. I would like to thank all my friends, pastors and staff at Idlewild. If it wasn’t for all of you, I wouldn’t have had the best time of my life throughout my 18 years. If there’s one thing to take away from my blog it’s this; don’t focus on what other people think of you because the only person you should be focused on is God. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Please don’t waste your life trying to live a double life because that’s exactly what I did through public school, and I regret it a lot. Every day that you can, tell people about God because one day you’ll realize all the opportunities you missed that you could tell others about God because one day he’s going to come back. I really encourage everyone to take the time to really understand their Faith because for a long time I just listened to my parents and let them lead my faith and never really gave it any thought. This led me to not being able to talk to anyone about my faith and answer questions that I couldn’t answer because I didn’t believe it myself. Your faith will change you forever, don’t just pray, and read the Bible because your parents tell you to, do it because it’s worth something bigger than just yourself. Colossians 2:7 says: Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Remember, glow through what you go through.

 

 

 


A Faith of Your Own

Richard Taveras

 

Ecclesiastes 12:1 says: Remember now your creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” It can be so easy  to go throughout our high school career and our entire youth years for that matter, and just put God off and tell ourselves “I’ll make time for him when I’m older,” or “I don’t need God now, there’s time for that later on.” We can get so caught up in our social lives and trying to fit in and make people like us and trying to be the best, that we don’t take time to nurture our relationship with Christ while we are young, and that can be the most imperative time to do so.

I was personally in this boat when I was entering high school. I was so caught up in trying to fit in and make people like me that I wasn’t giving any thoughts or time to nurturing my relationship with God. I called myself a Christian, yet I did not take the time to learn more about the very thing that I put my faith in or take time to deepen my relationship with the God of the universe which I said I put my trust in. But as I grew older and in the last year and a half or so of my high school career, I began to realize that in order to say that I am a Christian, I needed to even understand what I was believing in. I had grown up in church and knew all the “church answers” to all the questions, and I knew all the stories they told us when we were in young, but I really did not understand fully what I said I believed in. It wasn’t until I stopped and understood that I can’t just follow what people told me about my faith and what I’ve heard from others. I needed to actually get into the word and learn for myself what I was putting my faith in, and once I did that, everything changed. Once I started reading and learning for myself the faith that I said I believed in, I learned so much more than I ever have before. I grew so much in my faith when I started doing that than I had in the past few years of being a Christian. So, I encourage you to take a step back and determine if you are following someone else’s faith, your parents’ or friends’, or you are learning for yourself and living out your own faith. If your answer is that you are following someone else’s faith and not living out your own, that’s okay! many of us start out on the same path, but I really encourage you to take that time and make it your faith. Put in the time and effort to learn about the faith that you believe in; It will change your life forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Don’t Be Like an Odie

Logan Guzik

 

I have a pet cockatiel; his name is Odie. His body is about 6 inches long, his tail is another 5-6 inches, and he weighs about 3.2 oz (0.2 lbs). He’s super fluffy and super cute. Odie is a very social bird. If he knows my family is in the house, he needs to at least see one of us at all times or else he goes crazy. He also likes to sit on my shoulder or lap every day, but he tends to be a little spoiled. Sometimes his only intention of going on me is so that I can scratch his little neck or give him the attention he desires. One funny thing he does is every time the house phone rings, he gets scared and flies around the house. Even when he’s right next to me and nothing can harm him, he jumps up from fright and proceeds into the air. Another odd thing about Odie is he’s afraid of heights. Yeah, a bird. If he ever finds himself up on our indoor awning after he went into a flying frenzy, he’s frozen with fear. The only way he ever comes down is when I grab a chair, stand on it, and reach out to him with my hand so he can walk onto it. Then he realizes that there was nothing to be afraid of and a phone is just a phone… until it rings again the next day. 

What I have learned throughout high school is that as silly as my bird is, in a lot of ways I could act just like him. I find myself pretty social and sitting inside all day is just killing me. As a Christian, I have God beside me at all times, but sometimes, it was easy to see God only as someone whom I could get something from: safety, success, and happiness. But when that’s all I was focused on and the house phone rang with stress, sadness, or the unknown, I forgot that He was there for those moments as well. I would get startled and fly to somewhere else that feels like safety, only to figure out what worse of a situation I brought myself into. And when I didn’t know where to go or what to do, God always came for me to take me back to where I belong. This student ministry has taught me to see the importance of a relationship with God in the good and the bad. He isn’t just there when I want him, but there when I need him too. I know that life always turns out better when I remain still in His love and trust His ways. I’ve learned that God never promised a life without house phone calls, but He did promise to be with us no matter how many times they ring or how long they last. So whatever may happen in your high school journey and beyond, remember to not be like an Odie.

Logan Guzik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Choosing Joy in the Midst of Trials

Isabella Moore

 

Trials. We know the word. 

That math quiz coming up… trial. Your annoying sibling who just can’t stop bothering you… trial. The pressure from your parents to succeed… trial. 

It’s a never-ending challenge to find out how to respond correctly to trials in our life. Coming in all shapes and sizes, they can be as big as this world-wide COVID-19 to losing your glasses on the top of your head. However, trials do more than just challenge us. They confront us to discover who we really are on the inside. In James 1:2-4, James writes

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Instead of allowing bitterness in the time of trial, he encourages joy. Joy is not happiness, but a sincere feeling of satisfaction and great pleasure that overwhelms your soul. He wants us to enjoy the challenge and consider it a journey full of mountains and valleys! Paul backs James up in Philippians 4:4, commanding us, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice!” Joy is a choice. Not just something we only choose once, but we have to choose it daily whatever the circumstances. After it becomes a habit, then your joy will brighten everything you come in contact with – people, lives, situations – because it is evidence of the Holy Spirit working within you. People will then become attracted to your attitude towards life and wonder what makes you special – it’s the joy.

Going back to James 1:2-4, James does not only command us to count everything joy, but states that the trial will test us in a way that successfully produces steadfastness. Joy + Trial + Faith = Steadfastness. How simple is that! On paper yes, but it is a daily choice yet again. Over time, when dealing with your trial in joy, your steadfastness then develops you into a perfect and complete version of yourself without any thing missing as you reflect Jesus. This is a beautiful example of how to follow in Christ’s footsteps.

In fact, Christ counted his trial of the cross as a joy. Hebrews 12:2b declares “Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is sitting at the right hand of God’s throne.” For the JOY. In the TRIAL. And His reward for his testing – You. Being able to eternally love you and call you “His.” What more could you ask for more than to be called the child of the King of Kings?!? 

Although He sacrificed Himself to save us, Christ did not promise a world without trials. In fact, He said the opposite in John 16:33. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” So yes, there is definitely tribulation in your past, present, and future. However, we can have peace because He has overcome the world. Though joy, we have been granted victory in Christ. Over every trial. Over every annoyance. Over every problem. We have overcome.

So, as you go, choose joy. 

With your math test you are cramming for, take a breath, relax, and choose a positive attitude. With your annoying sibling, tell them that you love them and appreciate who they are becoming. To the pressure your parents give you, gently thank them for supporting you and for wanting you to succeed. 

So as you go through your day, remember that joy is a lifestyle. A daily choice. As you do this, remember there is no need for anxiety or fear – we have already won. 

Because of Christ,

Isabella Moore