Thursday, June 23, 2011

What do teenagers need from youth ministry?

This is a subject near & dear to my heart. For the last 16 years Charlie & I have worked in the youth department of our organization. We started out working with fundraising for the youth but then our work progressed into something more. Charlie currently serves as Youth Pastor at the Claxton church of our organization. Working with young people can be very rewarding because you can see when you make a difference in their life. However, it can also be the most challenging. It’s very difficult to find that niche that will combat the entertainment that youth find in the world today. Our biggest challenge seems to be how do you get them to a church event when there is a football game at the school or some other exciting event on the same night? Do you offer video games & pizza, or go-karts & hamburgers just to attract them to a church event instead of an event the world offers then try to have a small devotional while you have their attention? We’ve done this in the past but we’ve always felt that it just wasn’t enough. What were we teaching these young people about the word of God?

As I said we’ve been working in youth ministry for 16 years and we’ve watched an entire generation become adults. The teenagers we started with are now parents and we have their children in our youth department. Looking back the youth that we had the most impact on are the ones we took to camp each summer. Camp Awanita, one week in the summer away from worldly distractions. No cell phones, no television, no radios, no video games, only each other and the Word of God. Yes, we would play games but they were always Faith building games. We watched these teenagers walk away knowing something they could build their life on. The challenge we had was only a few would come. If I remember correctly our highest number was 56. I think our last trip to Camp Awanita was in 2006. Our interested numbers have become so small that it isn’t cost effective. There are too many other offerings in the summer that the teenagers of today are pulled to like sports camps & band camps. I’ve heard many parents say we can’t afford both, and I’ve raised two teenagers so I understand that. I’ve also been told ‘If my child doesn’t go to this sports camp then they will have to sit the bench during the next season.’ They think this sports camp will make a drastic change in their child’s life; making them a better player. What they don’t realize is that a Christian Camp will make them a better Christian and could firmly plant their child on the Rock, Christ Jesus!

For years I’ve watched mega churches attract youth with things our small church just couldn’t afford; parties, pizza every Friday night, big trips, large youth centers, concerts, etc. We’ve had parents in our church want us to spend a large chunk of our budget to take their kids to amusement parks, beaches, etc., and we’ve really struggled with this because we keep coming back to where is the Word in all this foolishness. I’ve had people say ‘Well it’s good for those kids who might run with the bad crowd to be with the good crowd and it doesn’t matter what you are doing with them.’ ‘Keep them off the streets.’ I understand that to some extent; however what are you teaching them? Are you helping them lay the groundwork to become good adults or are you just teaching them life isn’t ‘fun’ without some kind of party?

I thought we were alone in this struggle then I received an email that led me to a discussion about youth ministry. I realized that we are not the only people that have seen our youth become young adults without a foundation in the church. They don’t know the Word. They are now just looking for the next party or event. I would like all my friends to read this article. It is very enlightening, and makes me to know we are not alone in feeling that our youth of today is being ‘amused to death’. Christianity Today

I think you’ll like it. Come back to my blog, comment and let me know what you think. Do you agree?

- Blessings

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stepping Out on Faith

Do you remember in the Indiana Jones movie when he is going after the Holy Grail? He could see it. It was almost within his grasp, but between him & the Holy Grail was a chasm. It appeared that if he took a step he would fall into oblivion. Before he took that first step he picked up a handful of sand and sprinkled it across the void. The sand landed and showed the path.

Are you standing at the edge of your chasm? Can you see your prize but you can’t obtain it because you are unable to see the path? Let Jesus show you the path. Step out on Faith. His promises are sure.

This reminds me of the place in the Bible where Jesus was walking on the water towards the disciples’ boat (Matthew 14). When the disciples saw Jesus they thought he was a spirit, but Peter said to him “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Jesus said one word to Peter “Come.” The next verse says that Peter walked on the water. He stepped out on faith in Jesus’ word. At that moment he had no doubt that he would walk on the water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, his prize, then he walked on the water. When he took his eyes off his prize he started to sink.

Sometimes the path is only revealed one step at a time. Do your children or husband in my case play video games? Mine do. I’ve watched them play many games and in several of those games the path will be unseen, but as they take a step the block will appear under their feet. Sometimes they misjudge where they should step, the block doesn’t appear and they fall to their demise. Many times in our path towards our goal only the next step is revealed and not the entire path. Sometimes I catch myself wishing I could see into the future; especially now that my children are embarking on their adult paths. That isn’t the plan. I’m sure if the entire path was revealed we would become overwhelmed, and get wrapped up in fear and worry. Remember Jesus’ knows our path. We should live our life for him, keeping our eyes on him, and take our steps in faith; stepping forward in trust and obedience. If we were to take our eyes off Jesus, and take the wrong step, remember that Jesus will save us just like he did Peter that day on the water. Just don’t let the fear of falling keep you from taking the step.

- Blessings

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Baby Girl

Yesterday I wrote about my baby boy so today I thought I’d write about my baby girl.

Mary Elizabeth, the ‘date’ she was born had always been a day of sorrow for me. You see her ‘birth’day is March 18. My granddaddy died on March 18, 1977, and then my Mama Mary Dell died on March 18, 1990. In my mind it was only fitting that when I went to my doctor’s appointment the morning of March 18, 1993 that the doctor would tell me that my baby girl was in distress. He said if I didn’t deliver soon that her life was in danger. I was only 19 at the time and completely alone. Charlie was on his way to a job 2 hours away in Atlanta, and my Mother was 2 hours away in Knoxville TN. Being the stubborn person that I am I told the doctor that I would not let him induce labor or give me a C-Section and that if she was meant to die or if she was meant to live then so be it. Well she is just as stubborn as I am because at 6:30 that night she was born in to this world completely natural.

There are so many things that I could say about my daughter. She is the child of my heart. She is the one who will walk up and give me a hug just when I need it. I remember when she was about 3 years old, she looked up at me with those big blue eyes and said “Mama, will you be my best friend?” She had on her favorite outfit. The one with the lady bugs on it! She wanted to wear that outfit everyday to preschool. She has always been my best friend. We go shopping together. We have our nails done together. We have our hair cut together. You get the point.

Beth is one of those people that loves completely. When she decides you can be a part of her bubble then you are truly blessed. However, she doesn’t love easily. She was born during a time in my life where I thought I was all alone. I wouldn’t let anyone close for fear that they would hurt me. I think I passed that feeling on to her. She doesn’t let many people get to know her. She appears to be a quiet person when you first meet her, but give her a little bit and she’ll talk your ear off!

She is extremely creative. When she picks up her sketch pad & pencil it’s like magic comes from her fingertips. I love to watch her catch that perfect moment by drawing or on camera. I’m not sure whose side of the family all this creativity came from but she is very talented. My grandfather was a sign maker. He created signs by putting pencil to paper long before computer graphics where around. I’d like to think that she inherited her creativity from him. I know he’d like that too!

This fall she’ll be spreading her wings. It is time… She has been accepted to Maryville College on an art scholarship. I know she’ll be successful. She has decided to live at home during her freshman year, but I know that it won’t be too long before she decides to move out to. I just don’t want to accept it. She is my baby! When she was young she would hide behind me when people would come up. I would continue to ‘hide’ her if I could but I know that would handicap her in this world because I won’t always be there to shield her. It’s hard to explain…I’ve just always wanted to keep her safe not letting the mean people of this world hurt my baby.

I’ve prayed her entire life that God would send her a special man that would love her so completely, taking care of her even more than I have. I’ve prayed that that man would be a God fearing person. I’ve prayed that he would be someone who will dedicate their life and marriage to God’s service. Now, it doesn’t have to be anytime soon, but I know that she is at that time of her life where she wants and needs her special someone.

I came home a few weeks ago and she was sitting at the table with her bible, a book, and a notepad. She was reading a devotional called “A Lady in Waiting”. She was cross-referencing the book with her KJV bible. The book is about becoming God’s best while you are waiting for Mr. Right. The book explores Ruth from the Bible, and by doing that you learn the characteristics that every woman of God should develop. I went to my room that day and prayed thanking God that my daughter wanted to be a woman of God! Not many in this day want God in their lives. I’m thankful that my daughter has had Godly women to pattern her life after. I’ve by no means been the perfect role model, but I have been forgiven, and thankfully God does use me to work for him. She has also had wonderful grandmothers, aunts, and other church women that have helped guide her.

Today, I am praying that my daughter will find her path in life, and that the Lord will give her contentment. I pray that God will send her true friends, and not those that just pass fleetingly through your life. I pray that God will keep molding her Mr. Right until he is just the man that Beth needs. I pray that she will always be my baby. Most of all, I pray that God will protect her and guide her throughout her life.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Posts from my iPhone

I'm sure that this app has been around for a while but I just found it. I am really excited that I can start blogging again. I don't have a home computer anymore and that is why my blog posts have been so infrequent. I hope that this will help me get back into the habit of blogging. It might take me a few days to get used to it!! I've been following all my friends blogs through google reader but it is so hard to post a comment. I am going to search for a blog reader app too. Surely there is one out there...

My Baby Boy

Life goes on. The babies you once held tight become adults. The toddler that begged you not to let go of their hand now is that young adult who wants you to let go. The little boy who walked off the field holding back his tears until he saw his Mother is now walking away from his Mother as she holds back her tears.

You raise them to be independent adults, but I don’t think it is ever easy to let them go. I know we’ve taught him right, and now it is time for him to walk on his own. I was thinking this morning of the first steps he took and how we held his hands as he teetered. At only 9 months he walked, not just walked but ran! At 2 he could ride a bicycle without training wheels. I should have known then that he would want to live on his own at a young age. He wants to make his own path. Understandable, isn’t that what we all want? Why then is it so hard to let go?

Last night, Trevlyn asked his Dad & I to sit down and talk with him. He had an important decision to discuss with us. He was such an adult about it all. He had everything lined out. When we first sat down I asked him if we were going to have an Amway presentation. He had his computer out, a folder, and jokingly said he needed to go get his HDMI cable so he could connect it to the TV and let us see his presentation. My baby boy then told us that he had toured apartments and found one that he thought he could afford. He had a spreadsheet of everything he would need from towels, pots & pans, to decorations and furniture. The costs of each were totaled. He had his monthly budget calculated with rent, utilities, and even his entertainment which consists of cable/internet so he can play his PS3. His original date was August 1st. I felt like my heart broke, but I held back the tears. If I’ve been successful raising him then he should be a successful adult, right? Then he tells us that after much prayer he would like to move that out 1 year. He would then be able to save the money each month and move out with a considerable savings. I slowly picked up the pieces of my heart.

I didn’t sleep much last night. The fear that I’ve lived with the last few years made a very strong reappearance last night. What if he doesn’t make it on his own? What if the apartments catch on fire? What if he doesn’t make it home at night? How will I know? I can’t imagine the first night he doesn’t sleep under my roof, but in his own apartment. I probably won’t sleep that night either! I had to remind myself throughout the night that God is not the God of fear, and we are his children. God is much better at taking care of his children than I am!

I remember when I was pregnant with him at the age of 17. I remember thinking this baby will always love me. This will be the one person in this world who will always love me unconditionally. He would fight for me and has. The first few years of our marriage weren’t the best. Charlie & I argued a lot! Trevlyn would always stand in front of me & yell at his Dad to stop. He never wanted us to argue. He has always been my little warrior!

When he was about eight he went through a phase where he had a hard time dealing with his emotions. He had a lot of built up anger and didn’t know how to vent. The school called me in for a conference. He had discussed with his counselors at length why he had so much anger. Most of it stemmed from the early years of our marriage. You would never believe that what you do in front of your toddler will impact them, but it does! I didn’t know what to do. Of course the school wanted me to take him to a child psychologist and they would put him on medication. By this time Charlie & I were both going to church and trying to live our life for the Lord. I remember calling my Mother as I drove down Red Bud Rd. I was squalling because I felt like I had let down my child. I had caused this to happen, and now I didn’t know what to do. I’ll never forget my Mother’s words. She said “Krista, give him to the Lord, and let God take care of him.” I did that on that day. I gave my child back to the Lord who had given him to me. From that day forward, God changed my child’s heart.

Trevlyn now lives his life for the Lord. He is a very tender hearted, compassionate young man. He’s not perfect, but he’s my baby boy! We always say those are shoulder blades not angel’s wings. I’m sure he’ll make mistakes. We all do. I know he has a great work for the Lord. God has an anointing on his life. I have already seen where his life has impacted others. I will continue to pray, as I always have, that God will keep a hedge of protection around him that Satan will not destroy him. I told him last night, as I have many times over his lifetime, that as long as he keeps God as his number one priority then he can do anything that he wants to.

Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. 1 Samuel 1:28