All Things Activate

Junior High Ministry, Life, Jesus, and Prayer

Stressing Closed Minds (pt. 1 Mark 6:45-47)

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Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get sidetracked from your real goal?  For example, if I needed to go to the store for some AA batteries, I’d probably go to Target because of the proximity to my house. The moment I step through the automatic sliding doors, I smell popcorn, see hundreds of items I want (not need), hear music being played the store, and may even begin a conversation with someone. I, more often than not, walk out those sliding doors with something other than the AA batteries I intended to purchase when I entered.

This is not a knock on Target. I love going there. Almost too much. But three out of four times I get so sidetracked by everything going on around me that my original goal is lost.

I understand that going to Target is rather trivial. But I wonder how often that I share the Target experience with other areas of my life. In my work life I live and die by my to-do planner and Google Calendars. Making calendar events for quality time with my wife is different because I can’t really plan out having a spontaneous meaningful conversation or times where I get an abundant opportunity to serve her and love her. They happen by staying focused on her and our marriage.

If those times don’t happen, I’ll normally see frustration in her face, hear it in her tone of voice, etc. But what about when I get side-tracked from my relationship with Jesus Christ? What about when I get sidetracked from the mission of Christ?

When we get sidetracked Jesus has a word for us. We’ll be unpacking this next pericope for a few weeks. The message is not spoken but acted out in this section of the Scriptures… Mark 6:45-56. We’ll only cover verses 45-47 today because of the meat in this section of scripture.

The Preparation of Prayer: Mark 6:45-47 (ESV)

>>> 45Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.

NOTE: Jesus just performed an amazing miracle. He fed five thousand people FROM FIVE LOAVES OF BREAD AND 2 FISH! The miracle was more about the disciples’ faith than the people being hungry (Because all five thousand people got hungry again but the disciples learned a lesson in faith that stayed with them). Where we pick up is right after the miraculous feeding is over.


  • Jesus sends the disciples and the crowd away for one reason: prayer.
  • It’s important to get alone and pray.
    • If something goes great for you in a ministry or work situation, and if we do not want to get caught up in the illusion of pride, we have to begin by talking to the Lord.
    • You CANNOT remain in the illusion of pride for in the true presence of the Almighty God!

I want to suggest three things for you to pray when you’re alone with God.


  • Look at Psalm 38:13-22
      • Express you pain and confusion (vv. 13-14)
      • Express your hope in God in the midst of your trouble due to “enemies.” You know who they are. (vv. 15-17)
      • Ask for forgiveness of your own sin. (18)
      • Ask God to intervene. (19-22)


      • When we pray for the people who bug us, we’re never more like Jesus.
      • Remember Jesus’ first prayer on the cross!
        • “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


      • God answers intercessory prayers!
      • It’s one thing for me to pray for a junior higher, but God really moves when they pray for each other.

When we spend time with God alone, we get refocused. Alone time gives way to vulnerability between you and God that can’t happen in the same way with a crowd. And when we’re real with God through prayer, we get to see what he wants us to be focused on – for us to experience salvation, repentance, redemption, and a relationship with Jesus.



Written by Andy Shoemaker

March 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm

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The Jesus Chronicles (Mark 6:30-44)

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As I am going through the book of Mark again (with Bruce Baloian’s study… awesome), I thought it’d be a good idea to post my study on here.

The name I chose for this study (picking up in todays reading at Mark 6:30-44… sorry the idea came to me about 6 chapters too late) is the Jesus Chronicles. I think this is a good name because Mark, more than any of the 4 Gospels, discusses what Jesus did through healings, miracles, and actions. John Mark did this to prove (by his own means of narrative apologetics) that Jesus Christ is the Son of God to a highly “pagan” culture and society (Rome).


Are you overworked? I just don’t mean at school, work, or home. I even mean in the Christian life. American culture is drenched in a performance based society. What grades do you have? How much money do you make? How much stuff do you have? What are you worth? How good are you? What did you tithe last week? And so on…

These questions can drive us crazy! The amount of stress involved in our society has soaked into the Christian life leading us into a religion NOT a faith!


Today we pick up in Mark 6:30-44. Here is a little bit of context before we move on. Earlier in this chapter, vv 6-13, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples “two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits” (v. 7b-c). They went out, carefully following Jesus’ instructions, and did the work they were sent to do. Mark says in verses 12-13, “They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” I could write all day on this section and how we as the body of Christ and as followers of Christ should take the call to a missionary lifestyle (that does not only mean overseas missions) very seriously. But, I’m not… at least for today. We just need to know that they were hard at work.

On to Mark 6:30-44 (NIV 2010):

1) Christians need rest (30-32).

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

This story starts out with something so common in the life of an active Christian . . . anyone doing the work of the Lord (NO, not just full-time pastors). It starts out with a need in the disciples. They need DIRECTION. This need for direction, or leadership, is birthed from the chaotic schedule they had when they were preaching, casting out demons, and healing. In vv 31-32, Jesus suggest “a solitary place”  because it was time to get some rest. Some people are, for lack of better terms, lazy. Others are driven in all they do and are hard working. It’s this second group who, at times, need rest.

2) Christians need a time to debrief (30-32).

Plain and simple, we need time to debrief what just happened after a mission. Once again, this does not just mean overseas. After we share our faith, we need to debrief. After we serve the poor, we need to debrief. After we pray with someone for healing, we need to debrief. And so on. Do I mean that whenever we do any Christian act we need to talk about it with someone? For many of us, YES! It’ll help you grow, mature you, and a better missionary for the next time!

3) People need a leader.

33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

When a Christian follows Jesus and is committed to doing the work of Christ, there work will follow them. It’s kind of like how a pastor is never “off work.” The small group leaders at ACTIVATE know what this is like. They get Facebook messages, phone calls, text messages, and the the like, at all hours. When we begin to make an impact in someone’s life, the Christian mission is never finished and it follows us.

Imagine how the disciples felt when they saw this crowd running to “get there ahead of them”. The text doesn’t say how the disciples felt, but it does say how Jesus saw them. I imagine, and I hate to impose my feelings on the text, they were a little annoyed (i imagine this because later they try to lose the crowd). But Christ looked at them with compassion “because they were like a sheep without a shepherd.” They were without a leader, no one to follow, and that is why Jesus had compassion. Numbers 27:16-18 states that the people need leaders.

4) Christians get annoyed, tired, stressed out.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

Doing the work of Christ has added stresses to it. We see the disciples wanting to lose the crowd. But Jesus always challenges to do more. The disciples had been doing medical miracles and now Jesus wants to teach them cafeteria miracles. Jesus is going to to ask the disciples to do something they have never done before. He asks us to do the same and we have to stay prepared. The disciples want the crowd to go away. Christians get annoyed with people and doing the work of Christ. Until you accept that truth, you’re living a lie. Christians get annoyed with other Christians too (I get more annoyed with Christians than non-Christians)! Accept it and move on.

Jesus has the disciples feed them. It says the disciples saw that feeding the crowd would take “more than half a years wages.” The disciples don’t have that kind of money to spend.  So, Jesus has them go check the supplies, access the resources, and see how limited they are. It’s gonna take a miracle to feed these people!

5) Christians need to take part in miracles.

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Jesus gives the disciples a game-plan. God has no problem with creating something out of nothing. Remember when Israel was in the wilderness traveling to the promise land? Pop Tarts called manna fell from the sky. This isn’t difficult work for God. While Jesus got the food, he then gave the job of feeding the people to the disciples. So often we limit ourselves by what we can’t do. When we’re told to share Christ we respond with, “But I can’t save my friends.” Or when we’re told serve at the homeless shelter we respond with, “But I’m so tired and won’t make a difference.” We have to remember, we (Christians) are never the ones that doing the actual miracle. We are just invited to take part in it. In Numbers 11:13, 22, 23 we see that moses faced the same problem of doubting if God will feed these people. In both cases it was God doing the miracle. Mark is subtly saying GOD IS HERE AND WORKING. The question for us is just as it was for the disciples. DO YOU WANT TO TAKE PART IN THE MIRACLE GOD IS ALREADY GOING TO DO?


When we’re stressed God will push us beyond our supposed limits. So what do we do?

  1. Vent: Tell Jesus what you think is too much (v.37).
  2. Obey: See what tangible (v.38).
  3. WATCH HIM WORK (vv.41-44).

When we come to the end of resources, like the disciples with their energy and food, we learn some great things about ourselves and Jesus! If we’re at the end of our resources, take heart, Jesus may be getting you ready to teach you something about himself, your limitations, and his greatness.

While the disciple fed the poor, Jesus was feed them! It’s in our weariness that Jesus shows up in the greatest ways. Jesus may be trying to perform a miracle in you today. It’s a greater miracle to eject passion from ourselves than a demon from another and to control anger than demons. It’s a bigger miracle to get out of depression than rid disease from the body of another. “The power that heals you soul is greater than that which heals a body.

Jesus wants us to take part in miracles, but wants us to look at ourselves first!

Written by Andy Shoemaker

February 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Note for parents/guardians of ACTIVATE students

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Dear parents

This week we start a four-week series called “God’s Big Story.” This series will provide junior highers with a big-picture view of God’s story, with the goal of giving students a healthy understanding of what the Bible is about and how it applies to their lives.

In the first week, we will look at Genesis 1-2 and examine the picture of how God created the world. The world is broken, but God didn’t create it that way. He created a world that was truly “good.” It’s important for our teenagers-and for adults-to remember how God meant things to be. We live in a world filled with pain and difficulties, but God designed a world that was good.

Each week in our series, we’re giving students two key words to help them remember the big idea. This week our key words are CREATION and GOOD. Simply put, God created the world, and it was good.

Here are some questions you might use this week to engage your teenager in some conversation about this week’s lesson:

What main idea stuck with you from your small group meeting this week, and why?

What is one way that you see God reflected in your own life?
If all of humanity is created in God’s image, how might this affect or shape the way you treat other people?

Thanks for your trust as you allow your child to be a part of our ministry!

~ Andy Shoemaker

Written by Andy Shoemaker

February 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm

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New Friend Request Week 2

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.” Indeed. In today’s American culture we are taught to fight for ourselves, to pursue self seeking endeavors, to be grounded with self gravitation, and always look out for numero uno.

Many times we measure a friendship’s worth by what we need and what they can give us. The sad thing is that when we use these methods to find and gain friends we miss out on the thing we need the most-good friends.

Although Jesus rarely gave us direct commentary on friendship, we can look at His life and see how Christ modeled this relational paradigm.  In John 15:14-15, Jesus refers to those who obey his commands as his “friends.” He then lets his disciples know that due to their revelation, they’re no longer called servants, but friends. As the disciples heard this it must’ve dumbfounded them. Many of them were beginning to grab ahold of the fact that Christ is the Messiah. The idea of being “friends” with God, was something completely foreign to all in that culture. Jesus is giving his disciples a picture of the upside down Kingdom of God that Jesus was teaching. This whole idea is completely groundbreaking to any and all sort of theology the disciples may have had at this time. In Mark 9:33-35, Jesus is walking to Capernum with his disciples. As the disciples were walking, his disciples began to have a childish argument about which one is the greatest. When Jesus questions them about what they were arguing about, they all stay quiet. It almost seemed as if they were embarrassed by the foolishness of the argument.

Then Jesus responds to their awkward silence by saying, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35 NIV).” He takes their argument and lets them know they’re completely missing the mark! Jesus’  idea of friendship, is being concerned with what you can do for others… NOT what they can do for you!

Jesus then goes another step further in John 13 when he shows them exactly what it means for the first to be last. Jesus gets up, wraps a towel around his waist, and begins to wash his disciples feet. This would be the equivalent of him saying that he’s their servant. This act is Jesus showing the disciples what it means to be the last in their relationships and to end self seeking motivations. Jesus’ then gives a directive statement is for his disciples to “do as I have done for you.”

We tend to think of our friendships in terms of equality. Jesus flips this whole idea upside down. Quality, life changing friendships are based on what you can give… not what you can get! The most crucial element of friendship is giving—when it is only about getting it isn’t a friendship at all.


We need to ask ourselves what is our motivation for friendship? Is it to model the example Christ gave us or is it strictly based on what we can get out of it? In todays culture we have to keep this at the forefront of our minds as we enter into relationships. Sometimes the only thing we get in friendship is a chance to be a reflection of the person and work of Jesus Christ.


Written by Andy Shoemaker

November 2, 2010 at 6:27 pm

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IGNITE 2010 Know(N)

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4 months ago, Brian Holland, a close friend, mentor, and fellow pastor, asked me to join his leadership team for the Ignite Conferences. I felt blessed and honored to be a part of what the Holy Spirit was starting through him and said yes. As a member of the leadership team, I and a group of 7 other people, would help lead Ignite in the direction Jesus was calling it too.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, here’s the purpose statement of Ignite. How could I not want to be a part of this!

IGNITE exists to ignite a generation with a passion for Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live transformed lives, to accomplish the will of the Father.

About a month ago we found out that one of our speakers wouldn’t be able to make it. So we began to pray! After a few ideas were tossed around, I got a phone call from Brian asking me if I wanted to fill her spot. After some prayer and counsel from my wife, I jumped at the opportunity!

Ignite is this Saturday, October 23rd, from 5-8pm at Pomona First Baptist Church. Today I moved my message from conceptual to an outline… I AM SO EXCITED TO GIVE THIS MESSAGE!!

I have a few prayer requests as always:

  1. Pray that lives our changed and Jesus is glorified through both teaching and praise.
  2. Pray that as my message continues to unfold, the Holy Spirit’s inspiration will continue.
  3. That an authentic connection is formed between me and what I’m teaching, between everyone who shows up and the speakers, and most importantly between everyone there and Jesus Christ!
  4. Pray for all the behind the scenes crew and there work!

Thanks for reading this and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without your support!

Written by Andy Shoemaker

October 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm

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New Friend Request: Week One Prayer Request

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This week we start out our series on friendship called: New Friend Request.

This will be a fun series and has the potential to transform our view of the role and purpose of friendships.

This week more than any other, I am beat down, tired, and swamped. I ask that you would pray for me by asking God to give me wisdom to balance this crazy month and energy to keep on keeping on. As always, here are some ways you can keep ACTIVATE junior high ministries in your prayers:

  1. For our volunteers! That they’ll have an extra portion of leadership skills and even more energy! (To make up for the lack of energy I have right now)
  2. That my teaching, despite my schedule and energy level, will connect. That I’ll be able to have an extra portion of energy on tomorrow night and will be able to make the teaching extra fun.
  3. That our students will be honest about their friendships and have the strength to change any unhealthy pattern that is going on in their relationships.

This whole series is aimed at pointing our students to friendships that broaden and deepen their oikos (8-15 people God has supernaturally and strategically placed in our lives). I’m excited for this series and hope that you’ll keep us in your prayers! Thanks!



Written by Andy Shoemaker

October 19, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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Dear Galatians pt. 2 prayers

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This week we continue in our series Dear Galatians.

We have a few exciting things that will happen tomorrow and I need you all to join me in praying for this:

  1. We have a student (Cara Araiza) giving her testimony! Pray that Holy Spirit would use her words to impact her peers. Also that God would remove any nervousness that stands in the way of her communicating.
  2. Pray for the night, that in everything our junior highers will have fun! With that, also pray that our junior highers have the right amount of fun and know where the line is 😉
  3. Pray for the leadership. That we can lead our students in authentic worship, teaching and connect with Jesus!
  4. Pray for me. That I will communicate the word of God passionately, clearly, convincingly, and FUN!

Thank you all for your prayers, it’s exciting to see what God’s doing to our group right now. It really is amazing!

Written by Andy Shoemaker

October 5, 2010 at 6:18 pm

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