Category Archives: Church Youth

Unconditional Love

JesusIn everyday life, do we recognize God’s hand in action?  I think there are many things that slip past us simply because we aren’t looking.  I like to ask the question, “What are the chances?”  What are the chances that your bank awards you a sweepstakes that you didn’t do anything to enter at the same moment that you’re in desperate need of that same amount of money with NO hope of coming up with it on your own?

In fact, this specific example is true.  The previous Sunday at church, I cried through the entire service because I thought we had finally run out of hope.  We needed nearly $5000 to be able to get caught up on our house note.  They had already sent us the warning letter stating that they would foreclose if we didn’t pay and time was running out.  Later the same week, I had a phone call from my bank.  I could hardly believe it was true.  They had awarded me the Sweepstakes for doing something I was already doing, online bill pay.  What are the chances?

Needless to say, as always God’s provision was in time, but I learned that I may not come in ways that I could foresee.  He is constantly moving behind the scenes in ways that we can’t conceive.  This experience reinforced the fact that I can trust God.  I don’t need to be able to predict how his help will come to me.  I don’t have to understand how all the pieces of the puzzle will fit together.  All I have to do is trust that God is faithful and that He loves me no matter what.

There have been many times throughout my Christian walk that God has proven Himself faithful.  I am truly blessed that He is willing to do that over and over again when my fears were echoing in my head, drowning out that still quiet voice.  I cannot thank God enough for the many times he’s spared me from what I deserved even when the doubts creep in.  I’m so glad that God knows my heart even when I fail; He loves me unconditionally.

Unconditional love is hard to come by from people.  It is hard to give it.  When was the last time you were able to love with no expectation in return?  When did you love your child without any performance criteria?  It’s easy to say that you love your children no matter what.  Think about what you do.  Is there a statement, “I love you, but…?”  Whether it’s about grades, cleaning their rooms or anything else, if you withhold some of your grace towards them because they disappointed you, your love is not unconditional.

Growing up, I struggled with my weight.  The way my parents talked to me about it made me feel like I had let them down by being heavy.  It was beside the point that I was only eating what was in the house.  This shaped the way I looked at myself.  I was a disappointment.  I didn’t perform as well as my brother did in school, I was heavy and I wasn’t as social as my sister.  It wasn’t until recently that I saw what unconditional love was in action.

Our daughter got in trouble in school.  My husband was sitting in the school office praying about how he should handle it.  God’s answer to him was to treat her as He had treated my husband.  In many ways it’s hard to realize that God is giving us grace every moment of every day; that His love is greater that anything else we can imagine.  Are you capable of that kind of love?  When someone has hurt you can you forgive them unconditionally?  Can you throw that offense as far as the east is from the west?

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Raising Kids in an Amoral Age

tv3What do people fear?  Failure, the lack of acceptance, the dark, to die?  I believe that God wants us to do everything as though we are doing it for Him.  With this approach, should there be any reason to fear failure?  Could we not then face Him upon Judgment Day knowing that we had done our very best for Him?  Excellence is not a trait the current generation is growing up with.  Why?  As parents we have a duty to teach our children to become what God wants them to be.  Laziness, rudeness and selfishness are not gifts of the spirit.  Where did all of this come from?  We lost control over what goes into our children when we let TV be the babysitter.  We probably don’t even know what garbage is going in, but there is no doubt that garbage is coming out.

Two sources that bring the worldliness we never thought our own children would become a part of we pay to have present in our houses.  Knowing it’s very presence is a danger to the tender spirits of our youth, and if we really think about it ourselves as well, the Internet and cable TV are often ruling the evening’s activities.  These uncontrollable windows take center stage in our homes filling our minds with images that we hopefully would have turned away from in person.  Yet, how many hours every day have we turned over our children to the care of MTv/Viacom through Nickelodeon.  They have a platform to subtly plant the seeds of the culture to come.  No one honors families and marriage any more.  Glib and rude are the order of the day.

Worse yet, if you cry out that TV is changing our culture, no one will believe you.  They’ll tell you its not that bad.  Adults have realized that there are bad things on the Internet, yet we seem powerless to stop them.  We have software that can monitor their activities, but nothing can replace the time we should invest in our children.  Our time has become so precious that we don’t even have time to fix dinner at home every night.  We are so tired at the end of the day, we don’t have the energy to invest more of ourselves into the very lives we are responsible for shaping.  “Train them up in the way they shall go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.”  Instead we parents lie to ourselves to say that four hours in front of the TV is spending time with our children.  What are you watching?

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Reject the Status Quo

A church that doesn’t engage the youth is destin to die.   It is sad to see a small congregation pouring themselves into their comfortable system.  Their system caters to the very young and for the rest, its just what they’ve always done.  The problem is that looking around the sanctuary there were very few youth (13 – 17).  Of those in attendance, none of them were actively engaged.  When the youngest were dismissed for children’s church, most of the youth popped up to go help.  It is amazing when you can get a 1:1 ratio for kid to worker in the childrens group. 

I sure don’t have all the answers, but I do have children.  I am certain that if the only exposure to the Christian church is through a congregation that is stuck in their old ways, they will bolt from the church the first chance they get.  We visited just such a church and my 10 year old couldn’t wait to leave.  He got nothing from the experience.  I pray that they will grow and find a way to connect with their youth. 

I am reading Seth Godin’s “Tribes”.   Instead of maintaining the status quo that worked for our parents, we need to create a tribe for the youth within the Christian churches.  Engage the youth and challenge them to change the world around them, to become leaders who reject the status quo and create their own future.

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