Thursday, September 30, 2010

Be still, and know that I am God!
Psalm 46:10

In Crossfire we talked about prayer.  We'll talk about it again next week, and we're talking about it at our Fuel groups as well.  I've been doing a lot of it lately and I know several others that are too.  Prayer is showing up all around us here for one reason or another.  We're doing an awful lot of talking.

So we decided to let Him talk to us last night.  We set up 3 prayer stations and had a time where the students could just come and go to each one as they saw fit.  It was awesome.  Students stopping to think, to listen as God spoke to them.  Some of them for the first time!  You could see the change on their faces as the evening wore on.

If you look at the above verse, and then go read Psalm 46 you'll see something there.  Something that really intrigues me.  The whole chapter is about how mighty he is, about how the very earth obeys Him.  How we never have to be scared, even in the face of destruction, because He is our refuge and strength.  Shouldn't that be obvious to us?  Isn't it weird that He would say "Be still and know..."?  Why not something like, "Look at how awesome I am and know?"  Or  "Take a look at what I've done and know"?

I wonder if God had the author pen these words with us in mind?  How hard is it to "be still"?  When was the last time you were still for even just a moment?  In your car this morning?  Was it before the kids got up or before you got dressed for school?  Is it in that moment before sleep that you find stillness?  Whenever it is, if you're like me, it's rare. 

In the hustle of everything we "have" to do (practices, rehearsals, school events, church groups/studies/events/services/parties/lock-ins/dinners/meetings) we never stop to "be still".  We get so busy doing, that we forget about being.

Next week at Crossfire, we are going to create an atmosphere where our students will be allowed to do just that.  To stop.  To be still.  To listen.  To KNOW.  And if you haven't done that in a while- I invite you to come as well.

God is our refuge and strength,
      always ready to help in times of trouble.
 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
      and the mountains crumble into the sea.
 Let the oceans roar and foam.
      Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 
A river brings joy to the city of our God,
      the sacred home of the Most High.
 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
      From the very break of day, God will protect it.
 The nations are in chaos,
      and their kingdoms crumble!
   God’s voice thunders,
      and the earth melts!
 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
      the God of Israel is our fortress.
 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
      See how he brings destruction upon the world.
 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
      He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
      he burns the shields with fire.
 “Be still, and know that I am God!
      I will be honored by every nation.
      I will be honored throughout the world.”
 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
      the God of Israel is our fortress.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gargling and Heaven

After Kelsey had beat out 2 other teens in gargling a song, we opened the word and began to look at what it said about heaven. We talked about the no more pain or tears or hunger verses. We looked at what John saw and tried to describe in his book of Revelation. We asked questions like: "Do you believe in heaven?" "How do you get there?" "What does it look like?" All for the purpose of leading them to one particular questions...."What next?"

In Acts 1 after Jesus had ascended into the sky, the disciples were just standing looking up. Intently, is the word used. When two men dressed in white appeared beside them and asked why they were just standing there looking up. The two men told them He would come back just as He left. It was almost as if the two men in white were saying..."What are you guys doing? Get to gettin'!"

All too often, we in the church stand around gazing into the sky waiting for a return no one can predict. In the mean time, people all around us and the globe are suffering. Whether that pain is from a job loss, or the loss of a loved one. They struggle with depression or sexual identity. Maybe it's a child that is hungry in a village in Mozambique or it's a pastor imprisoned for his beliefs. Regardless of what that pain is- Jesus has called us to more than just waiting for heaven.

Scripture shows that Jesus prayed that His will be done ON earth as it is in heaven. Revelation 21 shows a picture of a new heaven and new earth coming together as the final dwelling place. It's a picture of the Divine living in community with His followers. I believe it's the idea that the church is here to communicate His story of love and redemption in action and in truth. It's time to do something! Anything!

We can no longer stand around and look skyward as if that's all we have to do. Jesus is calling us to make a difference. To bring His presence to where ever we go. It's time for us, His followers, to begin living it every second of every day. We are called to put flesh and bones on Jesus' prayer.

After we were done last night, three middle school students pulled me aside. They said they were tired of living "regular" lives. They wanted to be different. They told me they wanted to commit their lives to Him and be baptized. My heart jumped in my chest and tears came to my eyes. Right in front of me was Jesus' prayer. His will on earth as it is in heaven.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Tale of a 6th grade something

I had a parent come to me with a story the other day. It went like this:

“My daughter (they both will remain nameless- but you know who you are) and I went to the store b/c she wanted to buy some balloons and stuff to decorate a locker at school. She saved up her own money to do it. She had three dollar bills and the rest was all change. For her to do that was a big deal.”

“While we were standing looking at what to buy, I had someone tap me on my shoulder. I looked and it was a young woman holding a baby. She said that she had come to the store to buy baby food and ran out of gas. She was embarrassed to ask for some money for gas. I was in tears b/c I didn’t have any cash at all. That’s when my daughter took the money she was saving and handed it to her. I was so proud of her.”

How amazing is it, when we realize that our lives are meant to be a blessing to others? That our entire existence is to glorify the One that created us? That our reason for being is to serve others so that they see His amazing grace and love? And how amazing is it when we see that lesson lived out in the life of a 6th grade student?

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

It is when we realize who we are in Him that we can do what we should in Him. Not for personal gain or glory, but all for Him.

So, to you 6th grade student: Thank you for living Jesus in that store, on that day. And to you 6th grade mom: Thank you for sharing and for allowing your student to be Jesus to that woman.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A teenage girl from the mid-west and a book from the middle east

Last night at Crossfire, we talked about stereotypes.  We sang some songs, played some games, read some scripture and went into breakout groups.  It was pretty much the same thing we always do, until something happened.  One student allowed the Spirit to move in her life. 

She opened up about her story and began to share how people treat her b/c of what's on the outside.  She shared about how that warped her view of others and ultimately her Savior.  She was vulnerable.  She cried.  Then she wept.  It was in that moment that I saw Christ speak to her heart.  Life change!

I was reading through different posts and blogs and news stories today and I kept seeing one particular story pop up:  the Florida pastor (the fact that you know who I'm talking about goes to show the media coverage of this incident).  I can't help but feel like the two separate events are intertwined somehow. 

One has to do w/ a teenage girl in Wentzville, MO and the other has to do w/ a pastor of a church in Florida.  But essentially they are the same.

What I mean is this:  that teenage girl had been decieved into thinking she had less worth because of her appearence.  That Florida pastor has been decieved into believing that someone else has less worth because of their religion.  Both are lies.

Christ came to reconcille us to Him.  He came so that we may be freed and not have to carry the chains of sin & death.  He came to set the captives free.  And yet so often we allow Satan to trick and decieve us into believing his lies.  Whether that lie is: "You are of less value b/c you look different" or it's: "If you yell loud enough people will believe you're right and they're wrong."  Both are lies and have nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus.

Instead, Jesus taught things like blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), love and pray for your enemy (Matthew 5:42-44), turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40/ Luke 6:28-30 ), and blessed are those who are persecuted (Matthew 5:9-11).  He showed us a different way, a better way to live.  In Philippians 2:3-4 it says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."  Our attitude should be just like Jesus, who loved us while we were still sinners and died on a cross to show us that love.  Since when did we become about judging others based on appearances or any other superficial means.  Since when did we forget that this fight is not against flesh & blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). 

I'm not sure where that leaves us.  I know that Jesus' way doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me most times.  I do know that I serve a God that doesn't make a lot of sense and I love that.  I do know that most of the time I hang on for dear life as He directs me.  I do know that He has called me (us) to love others regardless of what/who they are. And I do know that I'm not called to prove Him right, I'm called to show people His love.

So, there you go.  A teenage girl from the mid-west and a book from the middle east...who woulda' thunk it.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stereotypes and authenticity

Our talk tonight centers around stereotypes/ judging people by looks.  It's about how we all try on different identities through out our lives, depending on where we are in life. Over the last week I've been looking at my own life and my walk w/ Christ.  I've come to the conclusion that many times my ministry is what I use to have people accept me.  The rush from a well delivered sermon, the ability to communicate Christ's love effectively:  These are all things that can and do hinder my walk.  Instead of constantly reflecting God's glory, sometimes my own gets in there as well.

I remember in high school and college, I tried on identities like socks.  Some days I was the prep, others the jock.  I even went through a punk phase where I only wore clothes from the Salvation Army!  The problem was, none of them were truly me.  I wasn't living as Christ designed me!  I was not living like his son.  It was like living life as a counterfeit or living a story different from my own.

It wasn't until many years later...after I had been in ministry several years that I was able to begin to allow my real identity to shine through.  It was difficult and many times I still revert back.  But being real, authentic, being who Christ made me, frees me to live life differently.  Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  That's who we are.  That's who I strive to be.  Who are you?

God bless

Hello WCC

Hey everyone!  Welcome to my blog.  My prayer is that every week teens, parents, and anyone else can come here and read something that uplifts their spirits, causes you to think and maybe start a discussion or two.  I will primarily use this to blog about things we are talking about w/ our teens but occasionally I will use it to inform you guys about a particular topic that is relevant to the larger body.  Thanks for following along on this journey called student ministry!

God bless,