The Fire of Heaven in the Heart of Youth

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I’ve been in a dry spell.  The news all around me takes a toll on a spirit.  Busyness keeps me from digging into the wellspring of Jesus and His Word.  Pure discouragement keeps me from going to Him in prayer.  All excuses, I know, designed by the enemy to keep me from being who I am in Christ and from being productive for His Kingdom.

 

This week, I had the privilege of going to our Brethren Youth Conference with our youth group.  We took 18 youth and 5 advisors.  I didn’t want to go.  In the midst of my busyness and discouragement, going away for a week when there is so much to do was the last thing I wanted.  Even on Sunday, I was still trying to think of reasons not to go, but all week long the Spirit had been calling me to a time set apart with Him.  So with much reluctance, I went, knowing that there was something special waiting for me there.

 

Light bulb moments from the Spirit revealed to the youth!

Light bulb moments from the Spirit revealed to the youth!

 

God is a Good Good Father!  I was reminded over and over this week, when seen through the eyes of untainted youth.  I’m not saying they are not aware of the darkness around them.  You would have to live in complete seclusion not to be aware of the evil and perverseness that prevails all around us.  What I’m talking about, is being untainted by the church and religion.  There is a pureness of faith and worship that those of us who’ve been around awhile tend to lose.  Everyone knows the world is bad, but those of us that have been in the church awhile have been exposed to things that have also tainted our view of Christians and the church.  It’s sad, I know.  We allow the bad actions of fellow believers to twist our view of Christ and who we are in Christ.

 

This manifests in all kinds of ways.  It looks different for different people, because it has affected us in different ways.  It may look like standing in church not singing the songs, or singing with little or no regard for the words coming from our mouths.  It may mean never displaying any source of Christ in our lives outside the walls of the church.  Possibly, it’s a lack of reading the Word or praying.  Maybe it’s just doubting the power and authority given to us by the Holy Spirit and refusing to acknowledge the gifts we have been given.

 

All of these things have manifested in my life at one point or another and sometimes all at once, I’m sad to admit.  This week though…I was reminded, refreshed and revived!  I was reminded that God is Who He says He is, and I am Who HE says I am.  Watching the pure worship of youth pouring out their praise to God refreshed my soul.  Practicing new ways of blessing others, praying for them, and sharing our stories revived my spirit.  For these youth, that are not yet jaded, all of these new ideas seemed like a natural way to serve God.  They soaked it up like a sponge and were eager to try all of these new things.  It didn’t seem weird to them.  They didn’t look around wondering what others would think of them.  For them it was a new revelation, a new way to see God, experience Him and walk out their Faith in a real and tangible way.

 

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12

 

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Pure Worship-hands raised and hearts open!

We really could learn a lot from this new generation.  When the world around us seems to being going straight to Hell, literally, take heart.  There is a new generation of young believers that are taking a bright light into the world.  They have been empowered with tools that will change our world.  A new identity has been revealed to them as Sons and Daughters of God, full of hope, power, authority, and passion.  I witnessed them sharing their stories with each other.  They built each other up with prayer, encouragement, and blessings.  It wasn’t forced upon them.  It was introduced to them, and they grabbed hold and ran with it.  They felt the transforming power of the Holy Spirit inside of them.  Gifts were revealed and used.  Just like you and I, they feel the darkness closing in, but given a light to shine, they are all in!

 

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17

You may not have had the blessing of witnessing the transformation of these youth, but take heart in knowing that it happened.  In a world full of darkness, it only takes a spark to bring the light.  There is more than a spark in these youth…there’s a fire! Do what you can to fan the flames.  Christ may come tomorrow, but if He should tarry, there is hope in the next generation.  There is power and authority given by the Holy Spirit and it is manifesting in the lives of our youth!  Praise God!

I Choose Hope!

 

Hope

When you look around today, as a Christian, it’s difficult to not lose hope.  It’s easy to get discouraged.  The states of our world, nation, state, and even our families are dismal at best.  We are living in a time when things seem totally out of control.  Hate, intolerance, and offense are words heard daily and usually aimed at us.  People have different ways of dealing with all that is going on.  Some people rant and rave, but put no action to their words.  Other people placate and try to be the devil’s advocate.  Yet, still others bury their heads in the sand and hope that when they come up for air it will all be better.  To tell you the truth, I’ve spent time in all of these camps at one time or another.  If we don’t directly feel the effects of those things around us, it’s easy to let someone else fight the battle or deny the battle even needs fought.

At the beginning of every year, for several years now, I’ve taken the month of January to do some soul searching.  This year is no different.  I like to look at the upcoming year, set some goals and get back in physical and spiritual shape after the chaos of the holidays.  People may attack the New Year in different ways, but for me fasting and prayer seems a good way to start.  So as I was lying in bed praying and thinking on all the negative things swirling around me, the Lord was gracious.  He put some new thoughts in my head about the situations we seem to be facing.

So this year, I choose hope.

Let me explain.  It is really easy to get wrapped up in all that is wrong in our world; both locally and globally.  It’s human nature to gravitate to the negative.  Any news outlets or social media sites are filled with all that is wrong.  What we as Christians often fail to remember, and what the Lord so graciously reminded me of, is in Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.”  It may look as if we are losing the battle, and honestly, I think we are, but there is hope.  Our God is still on the throne.  Jesus is still sitting at His right hand.  Nothing that is happening here on earth surprises them.  Oh, I do think it saddens them, but They know all things.  There is nothing new under the sun.  They are sovereign and They know the entire plan.  So, I find peace and rest in that.

I also draw hope from those Christians around me that I see doing great things.  I draw hope from the mother of four, who for the last 13 years has selflessly fought on the front lines for religious freedom.  Even in the midst of constant criticism and attacks, she presses on.  I draw hope from a loyal friend who is fighting tirelessly for the unborn, even in the midst of naysayers who tell her it can’t be done.  I draw hope from a small country church whose numbers are dwindling, yet when given the opportunity to sign a petition for religious freedom, nearly every person signed.  I find hope in a county councilman who believes in our county and that we can make America great again by building from the ground up, starting at the county level, building on Biblical principles.  I find hope in that I still live in a school district that is not ashamed to speak the Word of God or sing songs about Jesus in their Christmas program.  I find hope in my children, who see what is going on in the world and can look at things through untainted eyes and clearly know right from wrong.  I draw hope from those who are in seemingly impossible circumstances, yet by the grace of God press on.  God chooses the most unlikely and seemingly under qualified to do great things for Him.  So, I have Hope!

I don’t know what this year will bring to our world, our nation, our state or in my family.  In my plan, the way I would like to see things go; there would be lots of changes for the good.  Luckily for all of us, I’m not in charge, because I would mess it up!  But I know Who is in control and He’s got this!  He’s got all of it, down to the smallest detail.  I plan to do my part.  He does not call us to be spectators.  Actually, the part He has called me to do scares me to death, but I am resting in the fact that in my obedience, He is in control and He will get the glory. I found this verse today and it seemed so fitting.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”  Hebrews 6:10-12

We do not labor in vain.  God sees our efforts.  Our rewards here on earth may be few, as a matter of fact, they may seem like a curse at the time, but I look forward to our eternal rewards which can never be taken.

I have a feeling that this year will be nothing like I expect or want, but I’m going to try to be ok with that.  I know who holds the future and He holds me in the palm of His hand.  We may not win the battles here on earth, but I know Who wins the war!  He is coming soon to take us home, where we will stand in victory.  So, no matter what this year brings, I choose HOPE.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  1 Peter 3:15-16

By living in the strength of the joy of the Lord, I hope that I can share that HOPE with others.  What about you, friend?  Joy and Hope aren’t just for Christmas.  I think it’s time we show the world where our Joy and our Hope come from-JESUS!  Will you choose HOPE, too?

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Choosing Hope!