Connecting The Dots At School – (A Pondering on our Youth)

I went to High School today…I mean I visited one, not attending one…I did attend several years ago.
We were handing out backpacks the school social workers and counselors for youth in need.
The “teenage” years are so pivotal and sometimes uncomfortable especially if you are poor and/or your parents live in constant poverty situations.  Times are hard and teens don’t need that added pressure while at school if their families can’t afford the basic needs such as backpacks, pens and pencils and other school supplies.

It was a lot more this:
high school
Than it was this:
HSM

backpacksWe dropped the backpacks off at various schools today, with the knowledge that there are nine additional high schools to connect with before we are done.  I looked down the hallways of those high schools and I saw a ghost of myself;  scrawny, projecting a macho attitude, and yet scared…I was still naive and unsure of the world around me at that age.  I couldn’t imagine having to go without something  (like a backpack and school supplies) while enduring zits, ridicule from peers, mounting pressure to grow up way too fast, and dealing with constant assignment due dates in various classes.

Walking those overly waxed hallways made me realize how much we need to pray for our young people.  They need our support in prayer and in encouragement.  Sometimes they may act like complete grumpy bears but deep down they are searching for significance in life and we can help shape them if we just take the time to care and understand them.

Can we help connect the dots?
Can we provide a listening ear?
A Shoulder to cry on?
Can we be a friend?
Can we be role models?

This school season, let’s support our youth as best we can, after all, they are our future leaders!
Something more to ponder today!
-God Bless!

Heaven is for real…and so are we! (Don’t be a blind label follower)

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I wouldn’t attempt to criticize “Christian” movies coming out onto the silver screen.  I think perhaps they have a message that might reach certain people.  Take the most recent movie, for example – “Heaven is for real” based on the book and real life account of Colton Burpo: 

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I am certainly not in a place to judge the authenticity of his story, this isn’t my purpose for this blog entry.  I recognize too that Heaven is for real.  That when Jesus said that He was going there to prepare a place for us (starting with His original disciples) that He meant it.  Life does not end at the final exhalation of breath, but continues…How or where that will be is still a mystery to us all.  But here is where faith comes in.  

Still…

I don’t draw my criticism of the content of this story nor the content of other such movies recently released that also have faith-based themes.  Where my criticisms lie is in the cheap budgets and production content.  

I understand the need to be relevant in the world…and I don’t necessarily go to see a movie just because it is labeled “Christian” just as I don’t necessarily patronize certain businesses because they also happen to be “Christian(s)”.  Does that label make the product better in some way?  Will their services far exceed the services of others who don’t label themselves as “Christians”?  

Another thought that comes to mind within this realm of “Christian” labeling is: Do I solely live within a “Christian” bubble then?  

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Every where I go, everyone I see, the things I choose to buy are they all “Christian”?  Is my worldview solely engaged in other Christians out there so much so that I have no contact…with “those“. “Other“.  “People“.  ????

 

Don’t get me wrong, I need to hear encouraging and challenging teachings about Christ and about faith too, but what happens next?  What will I then do with those teachings if my entire ecosystem is “Christian”?  How does that impact the lost?  How can I reach out a compassionate hand of understanding…if I don’t understand?  

 

I’m not knocking the movie “Heaven is for Real”…I think there is some serious merit in exploring Eternity and our destination there one day…but what I am knocking (for lack of a better word) are Blind Label Followers.  

Ephesians 6:12 says – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

This is sandwiched right in between the verses about putting on the whole armor of God.  
In one hand we put on our armor and gird ourselves against sin, temptation and the dark forces of evil.  In the other hand we recognize that people around us who are lost (as we once were) are not the enemy!  Sin is the enemy and we wage a spiritual war within this world.  

If we only exist within the “Christian” label ecosystem how can we reach out to those who are completely blind to sin and its trappings? 

Here’s what I am not saying: 
I am not saying stop watching strictly “Christian” movies…there’s a time and place for them and at times an active evangelistic tool.
I am not saying don’t buy anything “Christian” either…that’s just plain dumb and we need edification and challenge through authentic Christ-following authors and teachers.  

What I am saying:
Break the Christian bubble if you’re living in one.  
Reach out into the world (don’t be conformed to it mind you) and love as Christ did to the whosoever.
Be wise and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in discerning how you should act and be instead of living through “group think”.  
Live out-loud your faith but take the time to listen to the needs of the unsaved around you!

-Just a thought.

ATTENTION: Join me tomorrow as I explore what others have said about seeing Jesus face to face.

Just something else to ponder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Reflecting Jesus” (available on itunes – podcast/brainerdcorps)

Sermon Podcast – Check it out!

 

John 4:7-26 (NIV)
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

 

 

At the moment of resignation and surrender (Poem)

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I want to grasp your hand dear Lord

But my grip is oh so weak

An ebbing strength of childlike hands

dulled senses, calloused and poor.

Yet as fingertips extend to where

They have never touched the heavens

All blood escapes as gravity closes in for a closer look

Kissing the heart strings as I strain

But Lord how feeble I must seem

All the while you, in all your glory

Indescribable in your majesty and might.

Even though I reach and strain

Gritting teeth and labored breath

I am no closer to you than when I started…

It is in a moment of complete resignation

Shoulders slumped, eye lids shut

Bitterness on the tongue pushed back

Swallowed and helplessness in my heart…

It is in this moment of complete and utter

Abandon of self-worth and personal gain

That I feel something.

That I feel a touch.

That I feel a warmth, like never before

As blazing fingertips extend and grasp onto mine

As I pull back in surprise for but a moment

As I recognize that I am in your very presence

Totally lost, powerless and surrendered…

You hold my hands in yours, I can feel your power

I can feel your strength as if it beckons me to

Believe. 

Looking up, hesitant, penitent

I find love.

I find joy.

I find peace.

All of my labored aching ceases

I am whole.

I am found.

I am Yours. 

Friends & Cheers…and belonging!

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Isn’t it everyone’s longing and hope in this world to find a place that you belong?  Isn’t that the hope of every person living?  We want to find acceptance, understanding and people who will love us for who we are…truly love us regardless of our faults and flaws.  Isn’t this why television shows like ‘Cheers’ and the more contemporary ‘Friends’ became so popular in the first place?  We find identity within characters who have found this formula don’t we?  We, perhaps covet their meaningful relationships because we too crave this type of deep level of fulfillment in others as well.

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Sure the characters are flawed, have issues, aren’t perfect and yet these characters had people coming back for more each week to find out how their favorite fictional characters were getting on.  These syndicated comedy shows have been so popular that for Cheers they’ve aired followup episodes to please its following, and rumors are they are planning this type of event for the cast fan base of ‘Friends’ as well.

Perhaps it’s loneliness that drives these franchises to popularity, or perhaps they touch on a very familiar topic and emotion in the majority of our world…we want to be loved and find belonging.

Perhaps a passage of scripture that seems obscure or a book in the bible you don’t often read says this to us about God’s love and our search for belonging in this life:  Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

Perhaps some of us feel lonely in this life…know that God is with you!  Perhaps some of us feel unloved or unlovable…know that God ‘will quiet you (and your heartache) with his love’!    Perhaps some of us worry about how our bills will be paid, where our next meal will come from or even the relationships (no matter how broken they may appear)…God will rejoice over you!

Do you need to be cheered up today?  Are you in need of Friends?….I know sorry about that play on words there, but God wants to be involved in your life and to remind you that you aren’t alone, you are never alone!  He loves you so much and wants you to find fulfillment in this life through others as well as your relationship to Him.

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” -Hellen Keller

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