Encouraging young people to build their lives on the truth of God's word is the focus of the Truth for a New Generation Conference.

"I think young people are very hungry for truth," said Alex McFarland, a nationally renowned evangelist and radio talk-show host. "I think they're very hungry to see this nation be a place of hope and godliness and a place where we can believe for the future."

McFarland is bringing the Truth for a New Generation Conference to the Baton Rouge area for the first time. The conference is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 26 and 8 a.m. Oct. 27 at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, 19421 Greenwell Springs Road. The theme is "Save a Nation."

Among those joining McFarland at the conference will be "Counter Culture Mom" Tina Marie Griffin, a former actress; speaker and author Brett Kunkle; Michael Brown, a well-known Messianic Jewish apologist; Mark Cowart, pastor of Church for All Nations in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Christian hip-hop recording artist Tedashii, who will hold a concert at 9:15 p.m. Friday.

"We've assembled some of the greatest speakers in the country," said McFarland, adding that Tedashii is "amazing."

"Teenagers might not be that jazzed up to come and hear a Bible talk," he said, "but they will love Tedashii."

The TNG conference promises to give believers the tools, knowledge and confidence to stay true to their faith in all areas of life — school, parenting, workplace, church and politics.

"Our target audience is primarily young people, but we message to a lot of moms and dads, the parents and the adult leaders," McFarland said. "They are the gatekeepers, but we want all ages there. All ages will benefit." 

McFarland, 54, said he's long felt the need to teach young people about the evidence for Christianity and how to be able to answer tough questions about their faith. Many, he said, wonder if the Bible is true.

"Young people grow up nowadays hearing Christianity is a myth and the church is not relevant, so we're giving the other side of the story," said McFarland, who has written 20 books, including the best-selling "10 Most Common Objections to Christianity" and "Stand Strong America: Courage, Freedom, and Hope."

McFarland is also an advocate for Christian apologetics. 

"Apologetics to me means to defend the faith, give evidence why we believe what we believe. Between history, archaeology and science, there is incredible evidence that God is real, that the Bible is trustworthy, and it's worth giving our life to," said McFarland, director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University in South Carolina. 

The Bible, he said, provides insight on what believers face today.

"The Bible speaks to issues like marriage, morality, the environment, even things like immigration and the economy," McFarland said. "We honestly believe that the Bible has all the answers."

He said the Word of God also has the answer to racial division.

"Part of what's tearing us apart is strife among the ethnicities. The truth is there's only one race: It's the human race," he said. "We're made in God's image. God loves each and every one of us equally. And the only hope for loving my neighbor and the only hope for peace is taking God at his word."

The conference also will stress to young people the importance of family, McFarland said.

"As much as I love church and preaching, the greatest thing this country needs is the restoration of family," he said. "Show me a young person's home life, and I can tell how likely it'll be they launch and thrive. A lot of what we're telling young people is to invest in family. … We try to challenge young people that the pathway to success, fulfillment, happiness and the favor of God is to build a great home. That's the way to do it."

McFarland said the conference will also encourage young people to live a life of significance and purpose; to give back and to make a difference in their communities.

"Be somebody who invests in the future of your communities, our cities and, ultimately, our country," he said. "If we don't, we're going to continue to unravel. So, it's very much about God and country and every single life making a difference."

The conference, which concludes at 6 p.m. Saturday, is free to those 17 years and younger. A lunch and learn with Cowart will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Cowart will discuss “Becoming the Leader God Designed You to Be.”

"I challenge everybody to please invest in a weekend that will count for eternity," McFarland said. "It's going to be great, and we're thrilled to be coming to one of the greatest cities anywhere, Baton Rouge."

McFarland has held 42 conferences all over the country in the past 22 years. The next conference is set for February in Houston.

For registration fees and other information, go to truthforanewgeneration.com.

No more love

Counselor and minister Velma Matthews has found a new way to help people dealing with grief.

Matthews, who holds workshops and conferences on grief and death, has written a play dealing with issues that cause sorrow, such as drugs and alcohol, suicide, domestic violence and bullying.

The play "I Don't Love You Anymore!" will be presented at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Charity Christian Center, 871 O'Neal Lane.

"What the play is going to do is help the pastors and people who are in ministry," Matthews said. "It's just another way to reach people who are hurting and who are grieving. It's different than having a conference or standing in the pulpit and preaching."

"I Don't Love You Anymore!" follows the Grace family as it deals with the various forms of grief in its search for deliverance, healing and salvation.

"I think all of these topics are crucial to the Christian family," said Matthews, who wrote and produced the play. "Everybody in the Grace family is grieving about something."

She said her "assignment" is to help people hurting from grief and pain.

"It's just real life," she said. "It's just time to be serious about what's affecting Christian families in the world." 

Local recording artist Terrell Griffin will provide music for the play, which is free for children under 10; $5 for 11 and older; and $10 for adults.

For more information, call (225) 202-0077 or (225) 803-2605.

Another day. Another blessing.

“An ax head is not supposed to float.” That’s one of the phrases that comes to mind often when I think about the supernatural power of God.

Ax heads have been around for thousands of years. They were heavy and made of valuable iron, so they shouldn't float. But that’s what happened in 2 Kings 6.

The Prophet Elisha and others went down by the Jordan River to chop down some trees to help expand the school for the prophets-in-training. One of the men was chopping away when the ax head he was using broke off into the water. He was horrified because the ax head was borrowed; he just knew it was gone for good and he’d have a heavy price to pay for losing it.

The story comes to a quick solution in 2 Kings 6:6: “The man of God (Elisha) asked, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float.”

Don’t miss that miracle. Floating iron. I know it doesn’t get us excited like the Red Sea parting or Jesus turning water into wine or bringing his friend Lazarus back to life. But I get excited when I think that God can turn something that seems so unnatural or impossible into something that’s supernatural. It’s not natural for an ax head to float. It defies the laws of nature.

Here’s my point in all this: If God can get an ax head to float, he can do anything in your life, your marriage, your health, your job situation, your children, your mind.

Ax heads aren't supposed to float. Just like you are not supposed to be where you are today. You are not supposed to be here after the doctors gave you that cancer diagnosis way back 20 years ago. The doctors, friends and even some of your own family gave up on you over the years as you battled sickness, depression, poverty and addictions.

You are not supposed to live in that beautiful home and drive that nice car because your credit was so messed up. You are not supposed to have that job because there were many others more qualified, more educated and knew more people than you, but you knew God.

You are not supposed to have done so well and recovered like you have, overcame like you have, bounced back like you have, floated like you have … BUT GOD.

Even if you haven't received your miracle, believe that God can do it. Remember if God can cause an ax head to float, he can do whatever you need done in your life.

Special celebration

Powerful testimonies, live music and prizes will be part of the special Celebrate Recovery youth event set for 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Christian Fellowship, 5049 Ehret Road, Marrero.

Gerardo Hidalgo and Chris O’Baugh will share testimonies of God’s transformational power to change the destructive consequences of sin and rebellion into something glorious. Christian rapper Lyrical Minister will also be performing.

Also, the weekly Celebrate Recovery support group continues to meet from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays at Christian Fellowship.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12-step program to support and celebrate with others as they overcome hurts, habits, hang-ups and all of life's issues.

Organizers said newcomers can join the program "in progress” and don’t have to start with Principle 1 or “catch-up.” 

For more information, call Pam Louviere at (504) 347-4875.