We're Baaack!

RobEvery year at this time we get excited about our youth groups coming back together after summer break.  We always have some old faces and some new faces.  Our first night back is always a time of fun in the parking lot with a lot of water games and getting extremely wet.  Fun is not all we have but it’s a big part of our time together, and we always pray as they gather that they would receive faith, hope, and love. 

Of course we do have a few serious discussions and strive to learn God’s word and plan for our lives.  Every time we meet we focus on the truth of God and His love for us in His Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, who has empowered us with a counselor and guide in the Holy Spirit.

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A Humble Attitude

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:5-11

If we want to see our world changed, this is the only way it will ever happen - every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  As we reflect Him to those around us with a humble attitude, we not only become a positive influence on those we are called to love and serve, but we change ourselves as well.

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Heard anyone say, “I’m just busy, there’s always something taking my time.”

I can relate, to a certain degree, with the statement that life can be busy.  But at the root of the statement is always, with what or with whom is my time spent?  Those who have attended the Great Banquet or Walk to Emmaus will recall that first talk on priorities.  Remember?

Over the past 3 months a lot has happened in our lives as a family.  We’ve experienced new adventures as we sailed on a cruise ship for the first time with our son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughters, and went to places we’ve never been before.  It was a busier vacation than we're used to, but we so loved being with our family and sharing life with them for that week.

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Ever Get Angry?

What is it that gets you angry?  It’s a condition we all deal with from time to time.  We can sugar coat it and say, “I'm not really mad, just offended," or "I have a right to my anger.”  After all, God gave us a pass to be angry as long as it’s a “righteous anger”.  I deal with it just like you do.  This can be a daily occurrence for us as we deal with situations, circumstances, and people.  In my opinion, driving can give you multiple opportunities for getting angry.  And opinions matter.  For most of us, myself included, our own opinion is likely the one we will value most.  Honestly, we are all capable of remaining unoffended and thereby walking in a state of peace and tranquility, but few of us allow ourselves this freedom.

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Moving On

May is always a month of "moving on" for those of us who work in youth ministry.  It is a time when we celebrate the graduation of seniors and the moving up of students who will join their respective youth groups.  What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to be around the creativity and energy of teenagers as they go through their years here.  This year we have six graduating high school seniors who have been members of our youth groups over the past several years. Some have graced our paths for all their middle and high school years, while others for just a portion of that.  But no matter how long they have been here, it has been a joy to experience life with them.  Congratulations to Taya Clary, Ashlee Goodwin, Dy Kimbrew, Makayla Stone, Cherdon White and Kaleb White. You have been such a blessing to us!

Jesus told his disciples to take care of the ones around them and to bless the children and train them up in the way they should go.  Moses shared with the people he led to always be aware of the blessings of God, and to talk about them.  He also encouraged the Israelites to live out their faith in all they did.  That has been the theme of our youth program over the years and now it will become the goal of these young men and women as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.  Our relationship with Jesus is apparent in our words, in our actions, and in the way we choose to treat the people around us.

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Love and Justice

I just watched a couple of good videos by Tim Mackie.  Here’s the link to that series  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu6EYoUcYOk&list=PLZ1ocmtU5AOeDTqm2faODfdD8SolitgJe  explaining God’s character.  I hope that I can somehow convey just how amazing God is to not only love us unconditionally, but also judge us honestly.  You see it’s not either/or but both/and.  We can get confused about that and want to lean one way or the other on who God is, but scripture tells us who He is and how He deals with those who turn toward Him or away from Him.  The way you see Him will greatly influence the way you see yourself and others.

Teenagers can help with this because they are usually unashamedly selfish, but not all the time.  We see it in the way they pass blame or justify their words and actions.  To them it’s okay, because quite often to them, they are the ones who matter most.  That’s part of the blessing we have as we work through who God is to them and how that shapes their view of themselves and others.  For instance, if we are trying to teach them something, I will take their phones first, because they will become distractions if we don’t remove them from the equation.  Even with that distraction gone, they will tend to be distracted either by one another or by something else.  So, who’s to blame - their parents for not teaching them how to listen, or their teachers for not showing them how to pay attention?  Maybe we should blame a society that has allowed them to become so narcissistic that all they ever think about is themselves.

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Joy Comes in the Morning

I hope you’ve had the opportunity to see some of the amazing sunrises we’ve had recently.  The great thing about those is that they get your day started off with the right attitude.  God is good.  God is creative.  God is making us a new day.  God is in control.  God is amazing and continues to amaze us!  I really love to watch sunrises, if you haven’t figured that out yet.  The thing about a sunrise is you must wait to see how it will turn out.  You must be patient and wait for the full picture; wait for the bright colors to reveal themselves.

Patience can be hard.  I remember asking our granddaughter Lexi once if she knew what being patient means.  She said, “It means you have to wait.”  We live in a busy society where we can instantly look up amazing sunrises on our phones and get thousands of pictures in a matter of seconds.  But it’s not the same.  Pictures can’t do justice to seeing a sunrise firsthand.  I know.  I’ve tried to take pictures of some that I thought would be beautiful, but they just weren't the same.

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