Crossroads, Youth Ministry

Please Don’t Underestimate Them!

I read this yesterday as the Facebook status of a high school girl and got her permission to share it here: 

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I’m a virgin. I’m in high school, and I will not lose my self-respect just to "fit in".

Wow.

And the world says there’s no hope for this generation?!? 

Well, I think this girl just chose to stand up and say to ‘the world’, "YOU’RE WRONG!"

The coolest part about this, is that I know this girl is not alone!  Whether others are boldly posting their stance as a Facebook status or not, they state it with their lives!

Don’t underestimate our teens.  PLEASE!

Instead, remind them that they are beautiful and wonderful and creative and talented… that they are worth loving… just the way they are. 

Encourage them to refuse to change themselves to fit a mold and rather to just be who God created them to be.  Love them when they make mistakes, because we all do, and offer forgiveness.  I invite you to join me in showing them the respect they deserve.

Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights

Collision: Mend the Broken

Well we did it!  We survived the first “road trip” planned by Bekah. :)  As promised yesterday, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience this weekend at Acquire the Fire in Cleveland, OH with 16 teens and 2 other awesome adult leaders.  The theme this year for this conference was Mend the Broken.

 

DSCF7078 I guess I’ll just go through the weekend chronologically to give you an idea of what we experienced and learned.

 

The first session on Friday night started with worship led by a band called School Of WorshipThey led us in worship all weekend and it was always an amazing time to just enter into God’s presence and give him praise before hearing Mike Guzzardo share God’s Word with us.  FridayDSCF7088 night Mike shared with us that our lives are kind of like broken down cars that need refurbished.  First we have to let God take us out of the junkyard so that he can begin to take us a part and clean every little part of us…. it takes time and he has to get into every little deep place, but then, once we’re clean on the inside, he can begin to rebuild us in a way where we can think and live how he originally intended us. 

 

The night ended with a Newsboys Concert during which we got to be a part of the video recording for a music video.  They said they only use a live audience DSCF7060for a music video once every 2 or 3 years and they picked Acquire the Fire- Cleveland, OH to be that audience.  Watch for their video for the song “Miracles” coming out soon and see if you see any of First Trinity Crossroads group in  there!

 

After that we headed back to Lutheran High School West in Rocky Road, OH which was gracious enough to let us use their facilities to sleep and shower this weekend!  A youth group from Hosanna Lutheran Church nearby also joined us Friday night at Lutheran West.

Saturday morning started bright and early (for high schoolers) at 8:00 am and was broken into three sessions all including worship, a message, and part of a drama that continued all throughout the day. 

 

The first session Saturday tackled some difficult issues that teenagers (and all of us) face today regarding pornography, sex before marriage, same sex attraction and more. Teens were challenged to join “The Resistance” when they struggle with these or any sins in their lives committing to purity in heart, mind and body.  An organization called CovenantEyes.com also provided students with a 30-day trial of an internet filtering and accountability software that they produce.

 

The afternoon session was about failure and how we deal with it.  We were reminded that just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we won’t fail (see Proverbs 24:15) it means that God helps us get up when we fail and that we don’t have to be defined by our failures. 

The afternoon also included 2 concerts, one by Young Joshua and the other by Jimmy Needham

 

After dinner we went back for the last session which was about how our world tries to get us to focus on The Me-World .. my problems, my stuff, my fun.   God calls us in our new refurbished  life to focus on the HE-World …. the things of God’s heart… whether that’s serving your neighbor next door or going overseas, we all can start now making changes in our lives to shift and “get away from ME”.

 

Our weekend wrapped up by attending St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesterfield, OH on our way back to NY.  They were very welcoming, had a beautiful sanctuary and there was some AMAZING scenery on our drive  between the high way and the church.  Think, curvy hilly roads with gorgeous houses lined with trees still dressed in autumn colors yet covered with snow.  BEAUTIFUL!  Definitely added meaning to the term “scenic route”. 

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Overall it was an AWESOME weekend filled with fun and, I pray, spiritual growth.  Those of you from First Trinity, take a chance to ask one of the kids about it… them sharing with you is one thing that can help continue the growth that began this weekend. Thanks again for your prayers and support!

 

 

 

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Here’s a video summary put out by the Acquire the Fire organization. (You can see some of our group members at around 1:42).

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 20} – Long Term Hope

This morning, as I read in Luke, I came upon this story:

On a Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.  When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

 

The story goes on, as typical for these kinds of stories, with the synagogue rulers indignant and ticked off that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath.  And then, of course, Jesus rebukes them basically saying, “you care more for your animals than you do for the needs of a person.”

Two main things caught my attention with this passage.  First of all, it was a Sabbath and Jesus always seemed to be doing things that the Pharisees didn’t like on the Sabbath.  But more, so this phrase caught my eye… and my heart:

 

EIGHTEEN YEARS.

This woman, had probably lost all hope of being healed.  Seriously, eighteen years… that’s a long time.  And going back to the other thing that caught my attention… this was a Sabbath… even if this woman knew who Jesus was and had any hope that maybe healing could be provided, she probably would have never thought that healing would come today of all days… it was a Sabbath.  I imagine, any hope that was there, was very small.  Yet, I do believe there was hope.

If there was no hope, then why was this woman who had suffered from an evil spirit for so long even AT the synagogue that day?  In my opinion, she had long-term hope.  Maybe, JUST MAYBE, SOMEDAY I will be healed. 

As I think about this story, I think about people I know and love and care about who have been suffering for a long time.  Whether the struggle is physical, spiritual, or emotional, as each day passes without relief, hope slowly fades.  “It’s already been so long,”  their minds protest.  “How could healing EVER come now?” 

Yet, God doesn’t call us to understand.. he calls us to trust him.  Our healing may not come today.  Our healing may not come tomorrow or next year, or even in this life time.  But even if it doesn’t, we continue to ask God to give us what we need to remain faithful and trust.  We ask God to help us to come into his presence, like this woman did, time and time again, knowing that in your time and in your way, you will call us forward and say, “My son… My daughter… you are set free from your infirmity.” 

God, please give us hope for today… and tomorrow…. and the next day… and the next day… and the next day… until THAT day:

 

“Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching head.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Rev. 7:16-17)

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 17} – LIGHT Part 2

I was hoping to put this up yesterday in continuation to Day 15’s discussion about LIGHT but after fighting with my computer for entirely too long yesterday, I gave up.  Thankfully, I was victorioius over my computer today and have this song, or the startings of one, to share: (Click the triangle to play.)

This prayer asks God to let his light shine in our lives… to give us a little hope.  Sometimes when God shines his light into the dark places of our lives it’s scary, but there is freedom when we step into the light.

I hope you enjoy.  Maybe eventually it’ll get some verses and be a full song. 🙂  But for now, here are the lyrics for the chorus:

Break through the darkness
Break through the night
Break through the shadows
Lord, shine Your light
In the deepest places of fear and shame
Lord, shine Your light again.

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 9} – “Against All Hope”

Thinking about some of the high school kids that are in playoffs for sports in these coming weeks makes me think about my high school experience.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my high school and there were many things that our school was really good at (music, basketball, etc.)… but football just wasn’t one of those things.  We rarely won a game, and actually, when my sister was in school there, they didn’t win a single football game in the 4 years she was in high school.

 

We were definitely the “underdog” and by definition (and reputation) normally had no chance of winning.  We were expected to loose. Yet, there must have been some hope somewhere, right?  Our team may not have had the best skills in the city, but if nothing else, they had HOPE. If they had absolutely no hope, they would never even suited up. Each week, as they stepped onto the field, they believed in hope that somehow, someway, they just MIGHT be able to pull out a win.

 

That’s kind of the situation we see with dear old “Father Abraham.”    God tells him that he will be the father of many nations… yet he looks around and sees that … well … he sees that he’s OLD … 100 years old actually.  And his wife, Sarah, yeah… she was 90.  I’m guessing that their HOPE to have children was LONG gone.  Yet, we read this awesome passage in Romans 4:18- 22

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening of his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

 

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.

 

I don’t think this idea of being “against all hope” is not too distant from our own realities. 

 

You, like Abraham and Sarah, wish desperately that you could have a family. Yet, as the days and the years tick by, hope for a spouse or children begins to fade. 

Or perhaps the bad economy has taken a toll on you.  As you search the classifieds day after day and submit resume number 643, you begin to wonder if you’ll ever find another job. 

You’re battling an illness.  And no matter how hard you fight, it seems to fight back even stronger.

That pile of homework will never end.

It seems as if no one sees the pain you’re going through.

The college tuition is just too much.

The secret sins cover you with shame.

Guilt and fear threaten to eat you alive

 

YOU’RE AGAINST ALL HOPE.

 

May we, like Abraham, have faith to face the fact that while our situations seem hopeless… our God is faithful to fulfill his promises.  I mean seriously… a 90-year old woman and a 100-year old man were able to have a child! 

 

As was written of Abraham, let it be said of us as well: 

“AGAINST ALL HOPE THEY, IN HOPE, BELIEVED!”

Lord, thank you for giving us the example of Abraham as comfort when we face situations that seem to hold no hope.  We pray that we would not “waver through unbelief” but rather be “strengthened in faith” and give glory to you. May our hearts be “fully persuaded” that You have the power to do what you have promised in our lives.  When we find ourselves “against all hope” may we in HOPE… believe.  In Jesus’ Powerful Name, AMEN!

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 7} – Giving Hope from Afar

In a way, this post is kind of “Part 2” of yesterday’s post.  I mentioned yesterday that often in the times where hope needs to be offered, there aren’t really words or actions that can give that hope… rather, being present is simply enough. 

 

While I believe that is often completely true, I can’t just stop there. No, I’m not saying that I want to do more.  Rather, my heart calls out, “What about the times when I CAN’T be there?” 

 

Three months ago I moved halfway across the country from all my family and friends.  I’ve come to realize how difficult it can be to see friends and family go through hard times (and good times too) and be hundreds of miles away… feeling helpless.

 

While technology is wonderful and allows for more communication during those times, the act of just “being” with them, isn’t really an option. How do I give hope in those times?

 

Up until this last week I probably would have finished this story by saying something to the effect of “I guess all I can do from here is pray for them.”

 

While that is a true statement, I can’t really DO anything else… I realized a new, and what I believe to be a better, perspective while listening to Pastor’s sermon this weekend:

 

Prayer shouldn’t be my only option to help simply because I’m not close enough to do something “more.”   With this perspective, I make prayer something small.   But dear friends, prayer is anything but small.   As Pastor Chuck said, “The prevailing power of God flows through people who pray.”

 

Instead of seeing myself limited to this seemingly insignificant task due to my distance from those hurting, I can feel privileged to be able to pray for my family and friends when they experience trials and joys in life. 

 

I can find FAITH that God’s power works through the prayers I’m lifting up for the CUNE/Seward community as they mourn the loss of a little 10-year old girl right now.

 

I can find JOY even in being able to stand on a hill with arms outstretched… praying that the God of HOPE would surround the hearts and minds of those I care about whether I can be present with them or not.

I can find PEACE as I pray that those I love would find hope to be an “anchor for their soul” (Hebrews 6:18-20). 

And through that process of prayer, I am then also anchored to Hope Himself, Jesus Christ.  

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