Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recognizing Jesus in Young People

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus connects service with judgment. He states that people will be separated into two groups, sheep or goats. Those who welcomed strangers and have helped those in need have welcomed Jesus himself. In addition, the people who have served “the least of these” will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. In contrast, those who have rejected “the least of these” have rejected Jesus himself and will therefore be left out of the Kingdom. Thus, our service, or lack of it will one day be judged by God himself. Moreover, our service is experienced by Christ…helping another person is to help Jesus. Recognizing Jesus in the faces of youth gives us both the cause for youth ministry and the ability to sustain it. Every young person is worthy of all the care we can give them because in loving them we are loving Christ.

In addition, when we see Jesus in youth we come to realize that God is already at work in their life. We realize that each young person carries with them gifts and blessings of their own. We become more perceptive to what a teenager is bringing to us, to what God might be saying or doing through him or her. Most adults would not consider their relationships with youth as being the place where they meet God’s presence. However, Matthew 25 reminds us that God is truly present to us in our relationships with teenagers. God’s blessing--and joy--and sanctification is in these relationships.

* A couple of great books that deal with this subject:
"Making Room" By Christine Pohl
"Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry" By Andrew Root

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Season of Lent...a time to return

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful” (Joel 2:12-13).

Besides Advent, the season of Lent is my favorite part of the year. Lent is a season of the Christian year when we are invited to simplify our lives in order to focus on our relationship with Christ. During Lent, we study both the life and death of Jesus as we prepare for Easter Sunday.

Lent is a solemn season and therefore does not get much attention from most Christians. We love to celebrate the birth of Christ and his resurrection; however, we do not like to think about his suffering and death. Lent calls us to evaluate our own lives and examine the ways we need to change so we can better follow Christ. Lent reminds us that before there can be Easter (resurrection), we must first deny ourselves and pick up our cross (no wonder most people don’t like Lent).

Yet, Jesus promises us that we will gain true life when we lay down our old one. Resurrection can only happen after there is death. How can we have new life if we do not die to our old one? May this lenten season be a time where we return to the Lord with all our heart. May it be a time when we lay down the things holding us back, and press on toward the goal of holiness.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Keeping Up With Kenzie

Kenzie had an MRI this week and the doctor just told us that everything looks normal. She is still taking medicine for seizures and it seems to be working very well. She has not had an episode in over a week! She is doing very well and her development is fine. Thank you again for your prayers! -Brandon and Kelli