Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Aftermath.

Storms are fierce. They come in strong and sometimes, as we have seen with Hurricane Ike, leave an aftermath of total devastation. The images are gut wrenching. Homes reduced to piles of rubble. Big, strong tree's that have stood for hundreds of years snapped like twigs. Lakes where there used to be neighborhoods. But, pictures only show the physical damage. What they don't show is the mental anguish of the people who were unfortunate enough to be in the path of the storm and how it will affect their lives for years to come.

My words, at times, are like a storm. They are fierce. They come out strong and leave an aftermath of destruction. The physical damage is easy to see. Tears, anger, a frown, a look of disappointment, eyes filled with hurt. But, what I can't see is the destruction going on inside when someone I love has been unfortunate enough to be in the path of my storm. What I can't see is how my words will affect their lives for years to come. the aftermath hope springs anew as the damage is assessed and clean up begins. The rubble is still there but rebuilding has started. Outpouring of love soon replaces hurt and sadness. The wounds begin healing as the Son radiantly shines through the blue skies offering Grace, Mercy, and second chances.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Introducing......The A.C.O.R.N.S.?

Our Jr/Sr High youth ministries kick off tomorrow night and it is a year of changes. We have combined Riot (Jr. High) and Xtreme Faith (Sr. High) into one crazy group called 'EXIT' and we, as leaders, have committed to becoming prayer warriors for our youth this year. It's amazing how fast prayer can be forgotten as you get busier and busier. Not this year! Another change is that we will also feature a Youth Worship Band!

In the past, our youth worship team contained a couple of boys and girls who would stand on stage and sing to an accompaniment CD. Last year our youth director, Connie, asked us to get a band together. So, we did was pretty rough at first. OK. It stinked, stank, stunk. BUT.......after a Saturday workshop, many practices, and a few temper tantrums.....they are finally ROCKIN'! They have pulled together as a team and the music is awesome! I am soooo proud of them.

One of the things they decided to do was to come up with a name so they would be more united. Quite a few names were thrown into the hat and the one they liked the best was.....The A.C.O.R.N.S. Yeah. I said A.C.O.R.N.S. (it's actually an acronym). Now, I have to be honest. I hated it. I was hoping for something deep and spiritual (OK. I can't help it. I'm a mom and my daughter is a singer in this band). The thing is.....I've known most of these kiddo's since they were really young and I don't know what in the world made me think they would pick something deep and spiritual. That is not a slam against them or their walks with Christ. These teens, in particular, are just goofy! They have been friends a long time and they are always doing/saying off the wall stuff. I just should have known better! So. ACORNS it is. And....I have to's growing on me (don't tell Sam, though;).

The ACORNS will premier next Wednesday, September 24th during EXIT and will co-lead Worship during our church services on Sunday, September 28th! I will try to get video posted;)

Please keep these teens in your prayers. Not just the band, but all the kiddos who will come through our church doors tomorrow night. Pray that they will see and feel the love of Him Who gave His life for them!

Pray that us leaders will be His hands and feet!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To Boldly Go.....

As believers, we are to be bold in sharing our faith. Not my strong suit. I struggle with just laying the Gospel out to non believers. I worry about offending them. I worry that I will turn them
away from God instead of towards Him. There is a delicate balance in presenting the Gospel in love and grace and cramming the Gospel down someone's throat. It's a balance that I haven't quite mastered.

For the most part, I think that's OK. I believe God has created us all differently. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi:

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words"

That's me, I think. I am more focused on building relationships and allowing Christ to shine through my words and actions. I also pray for God to give me moments to share what He has done in my life. Sometimes those doors open and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they open and I choose to be silent anyway. I believe that's called disobedience.

I have a friend who is struggling with that right now. I won't give her name because I didn't ask permission to share this. However, it has been heavy on my heart since speaking with her yesterday. My friend and her husband had built a relationship with their neighbors who are also their landlords. They are also non believers. The neighbor lady has had cancer and she passed away Monday morning. I spoke with my friend yesterday to give her my condolences and she began to share with me.

My girlfriend had felt God prompting her, especially in the past couple of weeks, to go share the Gospel with her neighbor. He had shown her through scripture and devotions that now was the time. This past Saturday God had even told her that the time for her neighbor to pass was near, but she was too afraid to go. She didn't want to offend this woman who started as a landlord and had become her friend. She was disobedient to the Lord and now her chance had passed. She does not know if her landlord, her neighbor, her friend is with our Lord and she was feeling partly responsible. I could sense the deep sadness as we spoke and I so badly wanted to wrap my arms around her. I wanted to say something to make her feel better, but the truth is she was being disciplined. She had been disobedient and now she was having to live with the consequences. I could only listen and offer her understanding.

I have been there. I know that, on many occasions, I have failed to do what God has asked me to do. Mostly out of fear. How awful is it that I fear man and the opinion of man far more than I fear God Himself? I don't like that part of me. I suspect God doesn't either.

I was reading Acts chapter 4 the other night. The Sanhedrin had forbid Peter and John to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John would have none of it! They told the Sandhedrin that they would rather disobey them than God. That is my hearts desire. I desire to throw caution to the wind and speak boldly about Jesus. My prayer for me, my children, and all of us who are believers is the same as the apostles in Acts 4:29-30:

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."