1
Rooted with Love
2
When I am Afraid
3
Stop. Drop. Roll.
4
Poptarts
5
What’s in Your Prayer?

Rooted with Love

 

Mr. and Mrs. Ira Simmons enjoying dinner with the youth group.

Seventy youth and parents joined us for dinner.

Some of our leaders excitingly receiving their burrito from Sean Montes, owner of The Burrito Meal.

“There is a difference between believing that Jesus is the Son of God and having a relationship with Him.” Toby Robinson, youth minister of First Baptist Church, West Frankfort, Illinois, encouraged the youth group to examine God’s love for us tonight during the first session of our DNOW weekend.

He extended the metaphor of our theme, “Rooted,” by discussing trees. He said that a tree is as tall as its roots are deep. God uses nature to teach us about Himself. Likewise, we can only grow in our relationship with Christ if our roots are firmly planted in the truth of His love.

He posed the question, “How can we say the Bible is true if we’ve never read the whole thing?”

As I type, the youth have gathered into small groups in several church members’ houses across town. Pray for them as they discuss and reflect on the truth that God is love.

Pray for Toby as he prepares to present God’s word twice tomorrow. And for David Curtis, lead singer of Run Kid Run, as he continues to lead us in worship.

When I am Afraid

 

 

 

 

Last night, one of my sixth graders helped me pass out candy. When she saw masks like the ones above, she would yell, “You’re too scary. Why would you dress up like that! Don’t look at me!”

On Halloween, we often are confronted with images that scare us. Almost every prime time tv show included a visit to a haunted house.

Earlier in the week, I tried to “scare” Kevin. I tossed a blanket over my head, spread my arms wide, hunched over and moaned, “Booooooooooo!”

Kevin brushed past me in the hallway and resumed reading his book.

“I was being a ghost. Weren’t you scared?” I asked, joking.

“Why would I be scared? I don’t believe in ghosts. How can I be afraid of something that doesn’t exist?”

As a child, I went trick-or-treating every year. And I took great pride in my outfit. One year, I was a bunch of grapes (purple balloons safety pinned to me). I had so many grapes around me that I couldn’t fit in the mini van door! Another year I was a crash test dummy, equipped with a black eye and a pair of crutches.

But I never dressed as anything “scary.” Mostly because I already had too many things to fear – the dark, noises in the attic, staying home alone, being lost in a store, and getting locked out of the house.

I clung to the verse, “When I am afraid I will trust in Thee. Psalm 56:3” First and foremost, the verse rhymes, which in and of itself makes it repeat like a broken record. And second, it is a profound truth about the God I worship.

I still cling to the verse to this day.

Oftentimes, fear is simply my lack of trust in God. I have to actively remind myself that He is in control. As you recover from visions of small children in frightening masks, remind yourself of what you believe in. Like Kevin, I believe that God is real. And I believe He is in control. What more do I have to fear?

 

P.S. Happy Halloween! From Nathan! He’s always dressed in his black and orange!

Stop. Drop. Roll.

“Do you have trouble controlling your tongue?” She read the question twice, stuck her tongue out, twisted it left and right, and began to write in response, “No.”

I stifled a chuckle. “That’s not what it’s asking. The question should say something like do you ever say mean words to people without realizing it.”

She nodded, crossed out her answer and scribbled, “yes.”

I wish controlling our tongue was as easy as controlling the physical muscles. When my ice cream starts melting, I can lick the sides. If I’ve got something stuck in between my teeth, I can pry it out with my tongue. (I cannot curl my tongue, but that’s more of a genetic thing.)

And yet, without thinking about it, I can spout off every last one of my opinions in a moment of frustration or snap at someone who has worn down my patience.

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us in James 3:7-8,

Every sea creature, reptile, bird, or animal is tamed and has been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

If you were to catch on fire, what three steps are you supposed to take to extinguish the flames? 1. Stop 2. Drop 3. Roll

We need to follow a similar pattern with our words.

1. Stop. Does this need more explanation? Stop talking. Shut your mouth. No matter how upset you are. Stop even if you’re mid-sentence.

2. Drop. Think about why you just spouted out ugly words. Drop them. Ask for forgiveness from both God and the person you either said them to or about.

3. Roll. Rolling on the ground extinguishes the flames. We must actively become fire fighters when our tongues cause sparks. The best way for me to fight my words is to memorize Scripture and repeat it in my head. When I am immersed in the Word of God, I am less tempted to fall into bad habits.

 

 

Poptarts

You probably don’t know this about me, but I have Poptart magic. Or, at least, that’s what I called it a couple Sundays ago, and the phrase stuck. Because when all the Poptarts seem to have been eaten, I can make a couple appear as if from thin air.

Let me tell the story of this past Sunday in reverse chronological order. Sunday night, I attended the Beth Moore study of the book of James. Verse 15 and 16 of chapter 2 hit me with a new intensity:

If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?

Sunday morning I realized that our church is a place for hungry people to come be filled – spiritually AND physically, depending on the need.

In Sunday School, there was a physical need that I could meet with Poptarts. Not for a kid who didn’t take the time to open up their fully stocked pantry. But for a kid who had next to nothing in their kitchen.

What good is our faith if we shovel the Gospel down a kid’s throat without realizing that they are starving? Even Jesus fed the multitude fish and loaves of bread before he taught. Father, give us faith, armed with actions, for the glory of Your kingdom.

What’s in Your Prayer?

During prayer request time in our Sunday School class, the girls get so excited and eager to share that we occasionally have to revert to the “raise your hand” rule. One day, we had to go so far as to institute the “talking frisbee” (only the girl holding the frisbee could talk).

But as soon as we ask someone to pray, they clam up.

Do they not want to talk to our Heavenly Father?

Do they not want to bear each other’s burdens?

No. Our girls want to pray. But they don’t know what to say or how to start or even how to end. They are intimidated by the fancy, well-worded prayers that preachers and parents rattle off, even at mealtimes. I believe the problem is stage fright.

Who hasn’t had this same fear? There are times in my own personal quiet time that I don’t know what to pray or even that my prayers sound stale. I started asking myself, “What am I praying?”

One beauty of Scripture is that we can read the prayers of saints who have gone before us. And, for all intensive purposes, we can “steal” their prayers.

I am memorizing passages like Colossians 1:9-14 and adapting them into my own prayer:

I am asking that she may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,  so that she may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to You, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God  Please strengthen her with all power, according to Your glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy  giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled her to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.  You have rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son You love. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.

The Scripture is full of prayers to our Father. Let me know if you find one that you are going to start using.

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