Posted in Christian Living

Youth Are Important Today


Our pastor repeated an old saying the other night in his message and it bears repeating. Often:

The church is always one generation away from extinction.”

The simple reason for that is the youth of today’s church are the leaders of it tomorrow.

Because of this, it should be obvious that churches ought to take their commitment to their youth very seriously. Youth should be a priority today if the church expects them to be those future leaders. Many church members often are hesitant to engage the youth due to a lack of confidence that they can minister effectively to them. Others believe the youth really have no interest in the things of God. Still others question the value of the youth in the church today. In all my years of working with youth, I have discovered that the church that takes care of their youth today, and values them as integral members of the church will not suffer the “great migration” of teenagers from the church.

Some people believe that they are not “cut out to minister to teenagers.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. To minister to teens is to do nothing more than engage them. Asking them how their week was or how their mom was doing if she is sick will demonstrate care and concern.

A popular notion today is that teens are not interested in the things of God. I am sure there are some that don’t give church or God a second thought. Remember, God is not finished drawing others to Himself. Teens are just beginning to figure out that “all that glitters is not gold.” They are learning that what the world offers is temporary but there is One that offers unchanging truth they can build their lives on.

The church is valuable to them because it can offer them a safe place with other teens who want to live Godly lives. Because of that, youth ministry can have a two pronged effect; youth who stay and grow in the Lord because they WANT to and parents who sense this is what the church is about are more likely to BRING their whole family to worship services.

Youth are very valuable to the church right now. The sooner the church creates an environment that welcomes youth and encourages them to live Godly lives, the sooner it will ensure a strong future for the church today and strong leaders for tomorrow.

 

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Posted in Christian Living

Is there really power “in” prayer?


I’ve been pondering lately some of the things that I often say and hear about the “power of prayer” or the “power of faith”. Is it really accurate to say that faith is a source of power or that prayers are powerful? I don’t think it is. God is powerful. Prayer and faith have absolutely no inherent power in themselves.

It isn’t the strength of our faith or the existence of our faith that matters. It is the object of our faith that matters. It isn’t the practice of prayer that matters, it is the addressee of our prayers. When we call on God without faith, we are less likely to be answered with powerful results. But we should not confuse that to mean that it was our faith that answered our prayer. It was God.

Many people in our world think that “thinking positive thoughts” or “sending positive vibes” will help a sick person or a family in crisis. Many think that praying to a false god or goddess, or merely “believing in myself” is enough. These are dangerous ideas, especially for a Christian.

I didn’t become a Christian by “just believing” or “just asking”. I was born again because I believed in Jesus and I asked Him to save me from my sins. It wasn’t about how much faith I had as much as it was about Who my faith was in! Often I think the reason our faith is small is because we are focusing on the size of the request instead of the size of the One we are asking.

Posted in Christian Living

The Power


Philippians 3:10

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

The “power” of his resurrection. This is a ponderous phrase that has held my attention for decades. As a boy I recall standing in the sanctuary of the little church where I grew up singing, “there is power, power, wonderworking power, in the precious blood of the Lamb”. The text that I will preach tomorrow says that the power of God unto Salvation is the preaching of the cross. So, what is this power that comes from His resurrection?

The answer seems to be revealed in the rest of the verse. I cannot truly “know” Him if He were dead. I know about George Washington. I know about Socrates. I know about Moses. But I KNOW Jesus. I fellowship with Him in the communion of sufferings. It is there that true “knowledge of a man is found.

I am made “comfortable” to His death by taking up my cross and crucifying myself daily that I might ensue Him. I can follow Him, not on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land tracing Historical footprints across famous places. But following Him in person as He leads me in life.

His resurrection makes it possible for me to be “created in Christ Jesus” from the moment of my new birth until the day I am resurrected from this body of this death wherein I remain trapped.

I live in newness of life and the hope of redemption because He lives.

Posted in Christian Living

Are You There God?


The world is spinning on its axis the same as every other day, but today it feels like a merry-go-round. Out of control. And it’s easy to wonder “Where is God?”

In hopes of seeking an answer to this question, this post will share a few links to other posts on the subject.

First of all, what happens in our hearts when prayers go unanswered?

Isabella Morganthal writes:

Actually, there are a lot of moments when I just don’t understand what God is doing.

Like during those times when I pray for physical healing and yet I still suffer. Or when I ask God for a dream that still goes unfulfilled.

God, why do You allow so many prayers to seemingly go unanswered?

It’s the question heavy on my heart.

I continue watching the TV as the power of Hurricane Irma in Florida only grows stronger. Yes, these moments make me wonder. They cause me to cry out…

Why? Why would You give us the opposite of the good things we pray for, if You are a good God?

Read the rest of the post here.

Ps6.9

Bad things happen and we stare in awe at the devastation and wonder, “Where is God? What’s He doing? Why is this happening?”

But rather than dwelling on those questions, maybe we should focus on these:

  1. What could I have done differently to change this outcome?
  2. What part did I play in this bad thing?
  3. If my bad decisions led to it, what did I learn from it?
  4. Who can I help overcome a similar bad thing?
  5. What is God trying to teach me during this difficult time?

Most of the time, this keeps me from wallowing too long in the slop called self pity.

But it doesn’t free me from making amends when the answers to the first two questions indicate I played a role in what happened.
And question four empowers me to use what I’ve learned to help other people.
When bad things happen, they hurt more when we face them alone.
When bad things happen, people probably can’t stop them or change them, but they can buoy up the ones suffering.
There’s been an ongoing “bad thing” happening in my personal world for many months. I’ve prayed about it. Ranted about it. Tried to stand up to it.

You can read the rest of that post here.

Are you at a point in your life where you’re wondering if God is listening to your prayers? Maybe questioning how devastation and disaster is part of His good and perfect will?

Feel free to throw your questions God’s way, but if He didn’t answer Job, he probably won’t answer you.

Job_LifeLessons

Because when things are dark, He wants us to come into His light, bask in His goodness, focus on the future when He rules it all.

In other words: have faith in Him. Believe His promises. Really believe. It will make a difference in the way you think about the chaos swirling around you.

Go ahead and step off the merry-go-round and into the arms of the One who loves you unconditionally. Is God there? Yes, arms open wide, waiting for you to fling yourself into them with abandon.

Have you been questioning things happening around you? What verses help you when things are bad?

Posted in Christian Living

Children of Men


Before the rise of the first civilizations on the Earth, the children of men had already begun searching each others’ features not for commonality but for diversity. It is not hard to find. Within the flesh and bone of Adam, his Creator had written into the code that defines his form and shape an infinite number of diverse combinations that might burst forth among the offspring that he should beget.

Celebration of this diversity within the tribe of Adam might well have been the catalyst for growth, adaptation, and ultimately the mastery of Creation and all that is in it. Which is precisely the Destiny which the Father of men was commanded to fulfill. But from the beginning it was not so to be.

In the opening pages of the Book of Beginnings we read of the first tribal division among those born of woman. Cain and his wife separated from their parents and moved into the land of Wandering and built a civilization all their own. Meanwhile the children of Seth would develop along a different path. There was nothing in particular in the curse of Cain that made his offspring physically different from their cousins. But genetic drift among severed peoples will inevitably bring distinctiveness. Within the first millennium Sethites and Cainites how become different enough that when the sons of Seth intermarried with the daughters of Cain the resultant combination of their genetics produced “might men”. It is common enough in nature that hybrid offspring manifest the strongest and most dominant traits of both of their parents’ heritage.

What was it that for so long kept the children of Adam and Eve apart? Was it the that the Sethites called upon the name of Jehovah? Was it animosity on the part of Seth for the loss of the murdered brother he never knew? Was it guilt in the heart of Cain for the blood on his hands that his tears could never wash away?

Within fifteen centuries from the birth of Seth, the wickedness in the heart of man had grown to the point that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. So, God started over. And the sons of Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth, descended from the mountains of Ararat and divided a brave new world for their own.

Once again, the families of humanity began to search each other to find what is unique and special and corrupt it into a reason for jealousy, hatred, and competition. We killed, enslaved, robbed, and conquered each other always seeking to prove whose is the birthright to the title, “Masters of the Earth and Sky”.

In the last two centuries men masquerading as prophets, scientists, and philosophers have created empires out of myths and legends that deny the truth revealed by God that He has “made of one blood all the nations of the Earth”. As our world slips again into a whirling vortex of darkness and distrust how might the children of God illumine the night that falls upon the children of men? Light the night, not by joining in the fray, but by showing the way.

Let the church be a beacon that draws all men to her Lord by letting the world see that within her sanctuary men of all colors, nationalities, tribes, families, cultures, and societies can unite as family into one body. Let them wander into the churches and see hate shattered by love as darkness shards when a candle is lit.

Let them see hope in the children of of the Prince of Peace joining arm in arm and creating a haven for the weary and the broken. Let the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of His own dear children draw all men to repentance.