Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Patheticness of Teenagers

Let me tell you guys about something that has been on my heart lately. This is sure to offend a few of my readers, but it is disgustingly true and I don't know how to say it any other way than just...say it.

Teenagers/youth are getting more and more pathetic. Just a quick rant: I feel like teenagers have to be poked and prodded through every process, they have to be spoon fed, don't raise the stakes, never manage their time, can't complete simple tasks, make up excuses for their laziness, and in general don't do. 

Have I done this? By all means. Do I still fall into this? Most definitely. But, boy, oh boy, do I want more for myself, for you and for my generation? YES!

Some teenagers have it firmly engraved in their minds that youth is about playing around and not being responsible just because we are young and we "have our whole lives ahead of us." Like that is some sort of excuse for being lazy. Guys, the way you live and pattern your life now, will be how you live in your adult years. If you train yourself to blame your lack of accomplishment on things like school work, you will grow up and blame your lack of father-ship on your job...ect.

Guys, do you realize that you are the most formidable and impressionable during your teenage years?

I came across two interesting verses in Ecclesiastes 11:9 says, "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment." 

This verse is basically saying, "Go ahead! Do what you like, but know that you are going to stand before God one day and have to account for all of it."


Guys, my question for you today is: "Are you intentionally using your young years?" Do you know that your life is a gift? God has given you each breath. Every move you make, you make because of the grace of a loving God. We - you and me - are the generation that has the power to change history. We may be the generation to see Christ's return, or we may be the generation that will turn our country around again. We are going to be the generation that is called to stand up against homosexuality, protect our children from the world's perversity and possibly endure the most serious persecution that American Christians have ever had to face. WE ARE THAT GENERATION. Can't you see? If you aren't buckling down and saying, "I'm going to live my youth to my fullest potential, with God's glory and my future in mind" then what exactly are you living for? Today? For your momentary pleasure?

Listen to how James describes our lives. James 4:14 "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

He calls our lives a vapor. When I think of vapor I think of (thanks to Carroll Carman) when you see your breath in cold weather. You see it, then it vanishes. That is our life compared to eternity. You have that short of a time to impact people, souls, history and the kingdom. That is your life! How can you possibly be okay wasting time and saying, "I forgot." "I can't." "What do they think of me?" "Why should I?" "I don't care." "This doesn't matter." "I'm too young."

You don't have time to mess around! If you want to be a Christian that DOES SOMETHING you have to do it now! I'm not saying that you can't have fun. I'm not saying that you have to go start a anti-slavery campaign right now. What you DO have to do, is start with what you have. Challenge yourself to be the greatest person - to the glory of God - that you can be with the tasks you have before you right now. If that means writing a paper with excellence, then by God, right it with excellence. If that means cleaning your room, then by God, clean your room with a happy heart. If that means taking responsibility for your mistakes, then humbly take responsibility. You see, your future, the pattern for your life, starts right now. The way you handle life, tasks, others and God will impact you eternally. Forever. Wrap your mind around that!!

Why waste your life? Because you're young? You may not have your adult years. You could be taken before you turn eighteen. If that happens, what will you have accomplished in your life? If you died right now, what would be the impacting thing that you did that everyone will remember you for? Will it be your kindness, your heart for the Kingdom, the way you encouraged, the way you ministered with your gifts, the way you were academically the best you could be unto God? Or...will you be just another average teenager that tragically died early? Are people going to rejoice that your years were fruitful, or will your parents wish that you had a few more years so you could actually do something with your life? Will you be remembered by your witty face-book updates, or your drive for excellence? This is a choice YOU and ONLY YOU can make.

You don't serve an average God, so don't be an average teenager! How can you be? How can you live a life of complacency when you are serving a supreme God? Don't settle for that. And don't live life for yourself, or so that your name will be known. Live it for God. More of Him and less of us.

The Bible says, "Don't despise your youth. But be an example."

We are the generation. We can either keep on lugging this ridiculous, good-for-nothing rep we've made for ourselves, or we can kick it and say, "No more! We live for the King now."

What are you going to do?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Loving God with Your Money

When you hear, "give everything to God," what do you think about? I think about abandoning all and going to a foreign country to preach. But, of course, we all probably think of different things. I actually want to talk about loving God with our finances. And "giving it all" to Him.

In Sunday School this morning we talked about generosity and it got me thinking. I always get kinda depressed when people talk about giving all to Jesus. I mean, "all" is sorta all-inclusive. That must mean my money too. I want to give everything to Jesus, but I don't want to be car-less, poor, homeless and hungry in a few years.

If you have been in church, you've probably heard the story of the widow who came to the temple and gave Jesus just a teeny bit of money, but it was all she had. Literally, all she had. Jesus praised her for that in front of all the people there. And He sorta rebuked the rich people for making a big deal of their tithing when they had so much to give from.

I've always thought, "Well, thank you Miss Nameless Widow. Now, I've got some pretty high stakes to come against." By giving all she had, that widow really set a precedent. You know what I'm saying? So, since hearing that story, I've felt like I needed to give every drop of everything I have to charities, God, other people or whatever...

But then, I would be moneyless and that would kinda be stupid if I left myself with literally NO resources whatsoever. God helps those who help themselves, right? Some people might give everything everything they have. If they do, I'm sure they live a very exciting life. And God calls some people to this...I'm not saying that it should never happen. It does and there are awesome testimonies about those things. But, not every person is called to live that type of life.

 After thinking about it, I realized I've had the wrong attitude about giving all along. Everything I possess is already God's. He owns it. I'm just His forgetful, prideful steward who thinks she owns everything. I believe that giving God all my finances requires a few things - it's a little more complex than just setting it all in the offering plate.

a). A willingness to part.

The first thing you need to love God with your finances is a willingness to part with it. I mean, it's not really yours anyway. Christ gave it to you and if He asks for it back, you need to give it with a cheerful heart.

b). A routine tithe.
The Bible tells us to tithe and I think it's a good practice to not hoard what we make for ourselves, but to give routinely. This demonstrates obedience to God's Word and a flexibility with your possessions.

c). Saving as habit.
I thought this was an interesting verse. Proverbs 21:20 "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." We are good stewards with what God has given us if we set some aside for the winter and difficult times. God provides, but we need to be responsible and not just blow all the money we earn. Notice the Bible says, "the FOOLISH man." And we know how God feels about fools.

d). Choosing to spend wisely.
There are ways to spend wisely. I think it's a totally dumb decision to go buy a new car just because you want to. There are other things that God can use your money with. Just because you have money doesn't mean you should blow it.

So, obviously this isn't an extensive list, but I'm just trying to point out how we can love God with our finances. We don't have to drop it all in a plate, but we do have to "give it" to God. Through a commitment to not be enslaved by debt, a commitment to give because you love Christ and the church, and a commitment to manage your budget for the glory of God.

Giving all to God doesn't necessarily mean you have to be poor and eat soaked bread crusts. I know that the Lord is pleased when families can say, "God, we have an emergency fund, our house is paid for, we aren't in debt to anyone, we pay our bills, we are responsible spenders, and we give tithe regularly." And people who have that type of lets-please-God-with-our-money attitude are going to be led by the Spirit to give of what they have.

Loving God with our money means being responsible and giving. Honestly, I feel like you too much of either is bad, but you have to sit right in the middle. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Church, A Ritual?

Something is really heavy on my heart and it has been since I left Passion.

Church feels like a ritual. Think about it. We have a bulletin. We start at thus-and-so time and end directly at noon. We have announcements, we sing two praise songs, do this, do that, two more hymns, then a perfectly timed sermon.

Is this concerning anyone? Church feels dry and heartless, like a pointless habit that is just "part of life." There isn't any flare or difference, or PASSION. That is what I feel like we are lacking. Church is the same-ol' thing because not many people are passionate about serving and worshiping the Lord.

What happened to spontaneity just because we love Jesus?

At Passion, Louie Giglio actually invited whoever wanted to stand for the whole service to stand. He said, "we stand for the singing-worship part, but it is all worship." You know what happened? About 20,000 people stood for the whole service. I did. My attention was acute and I loved that session the most. You know what we did during that session? We read through the book of Ephesians. All five chapters. Just read it, with tons of people standing and listening. Okay, I have a question. What leaders say,, "Hey, lets invite tons of kids into the Georgia Dome and just read the Bible to them." Not many. But, you know what? They were trying to teach us the true living, active, weaponry of the Bible. And I learned that. The Bible is ACTIVE and ALIVE. But we aren't. This book, this powerful book, is in our hands and we aren't excited about it!!

What has happened to the church? Why does going to church make me feel like I'm following through with a displeasing ritual? Like I'm going just because it's necessary, not because I feel like God is pleased? GOD FORBID that my relationship with Him fall into ritual. The day I get monotonous with God, I get stagnant, I don't grow and I'm unhappy with myself and life. We cannot let the church be like this!!

What happened to spontaneity just because we love Jesus?

And you know what? I have been to some churches that allow their services to be lead by God, and they don't really bother with time or lunch plans. But, a lot of times, those are the churches that are judged and looked down on. You have no idea how many derogative comments I have heard made about thus-and-so church. They are showy. They sing meaningless songs that have the same words over and over. They aren't church-minded. They are too invitational. They have bad leadership. They don't do things like we do. They have VBS (as if that's a bad thing!). They have to many members. They are too big. Their ministry is spread too thin.

And on it goes.

In reality, I pity the church that can come up with all these problems with other churches. You know, they may sing the chorus of a song over and over but they might sing it with more heart than the way you sing your elaborate, wordy songs. They may have a bigger church, but that church might be a lot more passionate than your church.

Why do we pick at other churches? Why can't we be a global church that serves and loves God together? Yes, of course we are going to have different methods, but we shouldn't hate on other churches for having their methods. In fact, our diversity is what should bring us together and make us stronger, not drive us apart.

I guess at Passion I saw, for the first time, tons of Christians from all over the place, different denominations, and different backgrounds, loving and worshiping God together. After John Piper's bold statement about predestination, no one stomped out in a fury or got huffy. We all still sang our hearts out at the late-night concert and praised God's name together.

Honestly, I'm pretty excited that those are the Christians I have in my generation. I know the word "tolerance" has a lot of negative connotations, like putting up with Muslims and homosexuality. My generation is pretty good about tolerating things that shouldn't be tolerated. But, on the flip side, the are good at tolerating things that should be tolerated. Seems like the Christians my age are better at loving the global church - for what they are, not for the perfect church they think it should be.

Many Christians see so narrowly, but I am asking if it's impossible to see the big picture. To understand that people are loving Christ, and furthering the Kingdom, even if it's not in the same way as you.   

I'm not saying we should embrace the church's flaws but its differences. It is our job to work out as many bumps as we can and be as true to the Bible as we can, but no one church is going to be able to change the other churches. So, embrace it for what IT IS!

Can we let the glory of God be the passion of the church? Let that be the thing that drives us to serve together.

As far as individual churches go, let's love the Word and never let ritual take over our worship.

Q4U: How has your church become ritual? Or has it? If not, explain why? If so, what can you do about it? Then, what are your thoughts about the global church?  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Passion Songs

Two beautiful songs from Passion that everyone should hear. Just take a few minutes to listen.

Passion 2012: Spiritual Funerals

Did you know that during Jesus' time handling dead people was ceremoniously unclean? Rabbis of the day would do everything they could to make sure they didn't get near a dead body or they, the leaders of the religious people, would become unclean.

You know, Jesus didn't bother with these ceremonious issues. I love that.

At Passion, Louie Giglio talked to us about Luke 7. The passage begins in verse 7, where a widow is fixing to bury her son. A funeral is in procession. This woman was a widow, so she lost her husband, and then she lost her son. She had nothing.

Jesus had compassion on this woman. He said to her, "Don't cry" and then touched the stretcher - the one the dead body was on - telling the boy to rise from the dead.

This is a totally awesome picture of what Jesus does for us. A lot of us have funeral processions going on. Satan is using something in our lives to kill and bury us. But Jesus is waiting to intersect the funeral procession.

So, on hearing this message, I had to ask myself, "What is Satan using to bury me? What is carrying me away that Jesus has to heal? What is causing my funeral procession?" It was super convicting. And as I asked myself, I knew exactly what it was: anger. I am angry. I know I'm angry because I'm often irritable and agitated and I harbor a lot of feelings against some people who have done me wrong. For the first time, I realized that this is what was burying me and I needed help.

I'm so glad Jesus listens to me and hears my cries for rescue. How beautiful. Rabbis wouldn't even come near a funeral, but God came to one, had compassion and touched a body in order to heal it. I'm so unclean compared to my Jesus. He didn't have to touch me, but He did. He didn't have to intersect my funeral, but He did. He has a plan for my life.

Guys, I know this wasn't a really deep post, but I want you guys to think of something. What is burying you? What is it that Christ needs to bring you out of? If there is a funeral about to happen in your life, why is it happening? Have you trusted your own works instead of Christ's grace to save you? Are you harboring anger, like I was? Are you trapped in a cycle of lust? Are you afraid or worried about the future? Search yourself and pray that God will stop your spiritual funeral.

The best part of the passage is that it didn't end with the boy coming back from the dead. It ends witht he people at the funeral freaking out! They were spazzing. A dead boy came to life before their eyes! They witnessed a miracle! And they said, "God has come to help His people!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

We Rocked the Dome

Google Images
I'm not sure I can sum Passion 2012 into words. It was completely unbelievable, incredible and mind-boggling. I've never been in a room with 45,000 students who desperately love the Lord. When our voices were raised, you could hear us outside the dome. One of the Passion head-honchos, Louie Giglio, said, "I thought foot-ball games were loud." When we sang, I couldn't hear myself. I was sing-yelling (which sounded terrible, but I didn't care) and I STILL couldn't hear myself. We sat in the nose-bleed section a lot and when you looked down over the people, hands were raised all across the stadium and everyone was singing.

Speaking of singing, Lecrae, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Kristian Stanfill, Hillsong United, Charlie Hall, Christy Nockels, and Matthew Redman led the worship. Talk about great singing.

Speaking wise, Francis Chan, John Piper, Beth Moore, Louie Giglio, and Christine Caine spoke. Amazing sermons! Man, God did some fabulous things in my life - which I can't wait to tell you about.

Wanna know how Passion worked? I'll give you the lowdown. The day started pretty early in the morning. We had to walk about 20 minutes from our hotel to the dome, so we had to leave the hotel at 8:30 each morning. Both nights we didn't get back to the hotel until after one o'clock a.m. and then didn't get to sleep until about 2-ish. Then, we embraced the rising sun and got up early. Over the three nights, I got about 13 hours of sleep. Was it worth it? Completely.

A day went like this, eat breakfast and get out of hotel by 8:30. Walk to community group sessions. Go to first meeting. Eat lunch. Go to second meeting. Have free time and eat dinner - getting food was like an all evening thing since every food place in Atlanta was packed. The final session started at 7:00pm. Another community group meeting at 9:00pm. Late night concert at 11:15. Run back to hotel and then drop into bed in severe exhaustion at around 2:00am. Best schedule ever!

Neon Blue!
The community group meetings were really fun. Everyone at Passion got these colorful wristbands that identified what community they belonged in. So, each community group has about 1,700 people in it which is then broken into even smaller communities of about eight people - called Families! Our group - as in the people we came to Passion with - had thirteen people in it and we all got different colors. I was in the Neon Blue Community with Kaitlyn, Justin and Phillip and MAN did we have fun.

The crowds were annoying at times, but it wouldn't have been the same without it! At times, I literally had to squish my way through people. It was cool though. I mean, thinking, "Wow, all of these people are here for God!" is neat. One time, I got stopped at the gate of the Dome and a security guard made me open like every pocket in my backpack and it separated me from the rest of the group for about 6 or 7 minutes. I was only 30 seconds behind them and I wouldn't have known it cause of all the people. Haha.

Okay, so now some pictures. :) First off, the group I traveled with was fantastic. I love ALL of them! They made me laugh and actually turned out to be pretty good friends - considering that I didn't really know any of them.

Seemed like we always ate on the floor. We ate Chick-fil-a on the floor of a food court. Interesting experience it was.
Kaitlin matching the hand.

The Hand

Okay. I LOVE this picture. It says so much. Jordan, Justin and Phil are just doing there own thing and Brian is being Brian. Look at him. He is wearing a backpack backwards and smiling it up. WOW.

All the ladies. I love these gals.

So, there were these prayer cards that everyone got and each one had a differnt time on it. Mine said 11:17 am. When that time came I had to stop what I was doing and pray for slavery to end. And when you were done, you would take the sticker on that prayer card and stick it to a big black letter somewhere in the Georgia Dome. It was pretty cool. There ended up being TONS of stickers on all these huge black letters all around the place. It was pretty epic. Becca took this picture. It's nice.

Phil, Brian and I sticking on our stickers. 

I love these people. This is a shout out to Kaylin, Jordan, Becca, Brian, Phillip, Mary Elizabeth, Ansley, Caleb, Justin, Rich, Maria, and Kaitlin. Thank you SO MUCH for making my week SO incredible. I found friends in all of you. 


Random pictures that turned out quite well. We took them in the middle of a crowd, which is pretty hard. Lol.