March 4, 2017
Saturday Youth Activities
The opening weekend of Portland Special Meetings was marked for the young people, including a youth service on Friday evening and a full day of youth activities on Saturday. The weekend was even more special because of visitors from our churches in Dallas, Roseburg, Grant Pass, and Medford, Oregon; Chehalis, Port Angeles, and Yakima, Washington; Richmond, California; and Stavanger, Norway.
The Saturday schedule began with breakfast in the Fellowship Lodge, including French toast, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and sausage. Following the meal, everyone divided into teams for a quick competition to see who could keep a balloon in the air the longest, but without touching the balloons—only blowing! Everyone was out of breath by the end, from a combination of blowing and laughing. Next there was a time of singing, and then Peter Sletmoe of Grants Pass (pictured above) gave a presentation called “The Letter to the Exiles in Babylon.”
The presentation focused on Jeremiah chapter 29, which Brother Peter explained was a message from God to the Jews who had been taken as captives to Babylon. The message had three main points: 1) to let the Jews know that they should seek the good of their current cities because they would not be returning to Israel for several decades; 2) to warn the people that they needed to develop a love for the truth so they would not be deceived again by false prophets; and 3) to give the exiles hope through the promise of one day returning to Israel. Brother Peter compared the Babylonian exiles to Christians today, saying that this sinful world is a lot like Babylon. As long as He leaves us here, God wants us to seek the good of our cities by sharing the Gospel with our fellowman. Brother Peter said it is also critical for us to have a love of the truth so we will not be deceived by the wrong philosophies of this world. And finally, the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that we have the hope of Heaven someday, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Following the devotional and a time of prayer, several dozen of the young people headed to Wilsonville to spend the afternoon at the Family Fun Center where they could play games, ride go-carts, or play laser tag. Others chose different activities for the afternoon, but everyone met back at 6:00 p.m. for a spaghetti and meatballs dinner. There was another fun game prepared for the evening, this one involving balls of Play-Doh and lots of running. Individuals took turns racing to mold shapes out of the Play-Doh while their teammates tried to guess what they were molding. The first team to guess them all correctly won a bag of candy to share.
A praise team helped lead the group in a few worship songs and then Brother Peter led a youth focus session on a topic taken from Genesis 1:16, “. . . he made the stars also.” Brother Peter pointed out that these five words are easy to overlook, but if you really understand how amazing stars are, these five words say a lot about who God is. Brother Peter explained that stars are monstrously huge (the diameter of our sun is over 100 times that of the earth) and burn furiously (the sun is nearly 10,000⁰F). He played a NASA video of the surface of the sun to show how volatile it is and a video of the sun and the planet Mercury helped the audience grasp its size.
Next, Brother Peter spoke about how many stars there are. He showed a picture of Andromeda, the closest galaxy to ours, which is believed to contain hundreds of billions of stars. Then he showed a NASA picture taken with powerful telescopes that can look deep into the universe. From our perspective, photo showed less than one square millimeter of the night sky, yet it contained over 10,000 galaxies! If those galaxies also each have hundreds of billions of stars, and that square millimeter is representative of the rest of the night sky . . . there are a lot of stars out there! Brother Peter said that if God can handle trillions of huge, furiously burning stars—and even calls them by name—then He certainly knows each us of and can handle our lives. He concluded with the words of Amos 5:8, “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion . . . The Lord is his name.” The awe-inspiring presentation ended with a time of prayer.