Fire for Teens
April 21st, 2012
Pint Sized People of Purpose
in A Place of Victory!
Yesterday was one of those days in my life where I wanted to set a stone in memorial of an event. It was as if we had crossed our own Jordan out of captivity just as the children of Israel once did and were standing on free ground provided by the Lord. The youth of Calhoun Middle High School met for their very first revival meeting at their school; they were few in number but mighty in spirit.
The weeks leading up to this event they took chastisement and ridicule from their peers. They were not in the popular place. But this night, they had crossed the water with Satan on their heels to a place of victory. They shared the gospel of Jesus Christ in a place where they’d always been told they couldn’t. They were a chosen few of God who had been selected for blessing.
Isaiah 49:7~ Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
God is in the business of making leaders out of followers. The Redeemer of Israel came as a lowly servant and was rejected by His own and condemned to death. But He rose victorious, and there will come a day when all those that rejected Him will bow and worship Him as He deserved. But for today, we live in the same fallen world that rejects the gospel and scorns the believer. Those who serve God do so under persecution be it great or small, depending upon where you live. But God is faithful to reward those who diligently serve! The Lord’s pint sized missionaries at Calhoun Middle High School broke some massive ground last night. They stood heads above the rest as leaders in our community.
Following the service, when everyone had gone home from the revival, a group of students stayed after for another school event. During that event they lead a fellow student to the Lord. That’s God! That’s His leadership!!! Satan can try to do what he will, but if God chooses to set His foot down inside of a building (spiritually speaking) Satan will not triumph.
The youth of our school are such encouragers in my life. The bravery that it took for them to take on this revival was phenomenal. As Christians we are chosen for a specific calling. They were called out and they stepped out! How about you? Is God calling you to step out in faith and do something? Let the pint sized missionaries minister to you…just do it!
Good Morning!... or afternoon, or evening... Depending upon what time of day you've made your way here.
Where is here?
Here is that place of peace that I long for every teen to know.
November 9th, 2011
As I traveled to work this morning following my blessed time of prayer at the Calhoun Middle High School, like most mornings, thoughts of you were on my mind. Not neccesarily individually but our youth collectively. And in a multi-tasking kind of way that I often travel in , I also was listening to a song that I plan to sing "Peace" by the Isaacs. I see that peace in many of your faces, I know that you know the God of salvation and that Christ dwells within you. I can feel it when I'm in your presence. It's not you that I worry about. You encourage my soul and give me hope! It's those in your school, maybe even some of those in our circle of prayer, that I don't see peace in, that I worry about. It's almost as if I'm looking in a mirror from years gone by
Isaiah 54: 10
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
That is the peace that I long to be within every young person I meet. I still remember what it was like to live without it. I know... that's weird right? That was YEARS ago. And yet, that fear can seem as yesterday when I recall it. That fear of being discovered that I wasn't exactly who I professed to be. A Chrstian. The fear of not knowing that if I died this very moment, where would I be? My teen years were filled with trying to fit into a mold that society had deemed as normal. Which was in reality anything but normal. The other youth that I desired to be, were actually not what thy professd to be either. Happy. What I did not know until we met again years later was that many of their broken, and dysfunctional homes were filled with heartache and misery, covered by "society" fillers. By that I mean their parents sacrificed good godly homes for popularity and school activities. It was more important for their children to be known as somebody in our community than known by God.
That's scary, but it's a reality today too.
I had the privilege of growing up with wonderful godly parents, but I didn't think they were cool. And because of that I shunned their faith and lived in fear of judgment. I didn't have the option of attending a prayer circle before school in the morning, but even if I had, I likely would not have. And yet another reason I am so proud of my mini missionaries at Calhoun Middle High School. You are the bravest kids I know and you have success written all over you! Because you've chosen early in life to stand on the side of Christ I have no doubt that God is going to further your ministry and bless you in life.
If you're a pretender, get with the program. We love you! and we want that peace that God promised in Isaiah.
FOLLOW THIS LINK TO HEAR THE SONG "PEACE"Staying Power!
I Timothy 4:12 ~ Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Tony Wood blogged this week regarding this verse: “His point was that young leaders CAN lead but unless their maturity matches their mouth it won’t last very long.”
For more than 10 years I’ve been a part of the youth ministry of Victory Baptist Church. It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster ride; often times because I bought the tickets! My own spiritual immaturity left me lacking as a leader. I hope I’m past that point, but I’m sure I still have moments. It’s tough to act 48 when I still feel like a babe in Christ. There is so much I have yet to learn, every day truly is a new adventure for me. I never grow tired of planning and working in the ministry of the Lord, I just get that much more excited!
As we approach camp you know my excitement level. It’s beyond…
I’m very aware that Satan has launched a mighty attack against you. The last thing he wants is a rag tag bunch of misfits stoking the fire in the congregation of Victory Baptist Church. The whole church could catch fire for Pete’s sake! People could start inviting their friends and family to Church, kids could carry a Bible to school, parents would carry them to work. Cool kids could get saved, un-cool kids could get saved and they’d both realize that anyone in Jesus is just plain cool!
But first... you must realize that if you’re attending this camp, I consider you a leader; my equal. Actually, I consider you as more, because your reach of influence is so much greater than mine. I expect something big from camp but it has to start at home.
Timothy said “Don’t despise your youth!”
It’s your time. It’s your chance to make a difference. Maturity has NOTHING to do with age. I can show you living examples of that fact. Maturity is how a person responds to the circumstances of life. Some of your lives have already been packed full of “circumstances.” I’ve seen you struggle, and I’ve seen you triumph! I’ve prayed for you, I’ve cried for you, because I believe in you!
Camp… always a Grand Adventure!
June 28, 2011
To my unicorn underlings:
It would come as no surprise to the teens in my youth group if I told them that my favorite day of school was the last day before summer break, and my least favorite was the day after I ran out of new stuff to wear when school started back. It was not the staff, the homework or the tests that bothered me, although I didn’t really enjoy them, it was mostly the “d” word. Discipline. Not the getting in trouble kind of discipline; but the structural kind of discipline. I can see you all nodding your heads thinking… yep, we believe that. Discipline was never my forte.
Until 1996…the year I realized that discipline was not a 4 letter word…I know what you’re thinking, “she really should have paid more attention in math class.”
That was when I met Doyle Ballengee, A 70ish year old man with the wisdom of the aged but the heart of a teen when it came to serving Christ. His faith was like fresh oil everyday and the excitement bubbled over onto everyone around him, except for those who had lost their zeal, and then Doyle was like the unicorn mentioned in Psalm 92:10 “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” If you’re not unicorn yourself, you just might get poked!
I loved to hear him tell the stories of his faith, especially one. He told of his own young excitement and zeal getting on the nerves of an elderly gentleman in the congregation, who spouted off, “You’re excited now because you just got saved. You’ll get over it.” Doyle said… I never did!
If you serve God in the manner He expects there is neither summer vacation nor retirement from your Christian service. It never grows old! It’s like putting on new school clothes every day of the week, with bling included!
When I met Doyle I was in my mid thirties and he was in his 70’s. But the age was irrelevant. We were kindred spirits that bonded in the faith and he taught me that discipline was an act that got you into the very inner circle of Christ. It’s not for slackers. For the disciplined becomes the disciple’ers. And the disciples were the ones who were up close and personal to Jesus. They were in the know! So I learned discipline.
That’s what I want for our youth. I want you like little unicorns poking everyone you come into contact with that isn’t living a disciplined life. I want you in the inner circle of Christ feeling like you’re God’s favorite and experiencing full joy. I want to be the Doyle in your life where age is irrelevant and the fun in serving Christ is everlasting and apparent to all those who meet us.
Enjoy your summer break from school, but don’t ever take a break from Jesus!
Do you suffer from A.D.D.-O.S.S.?
Every Wednesday and Sunday I speak to young people about staying focused on Christ; keeping their eyes off the things in the world, and keeping them steadfast on the one thing that matters, their faith in Jesus Christ. I continually encourage them to stay in Church, attend every church activity they can and to guard their heart against the wiles of Satan that can get them off track in a heartbeat. I’m sure I sound like a broken record. I repeat and repeat this message because I live it out every day.
While chatting with a dear friend of mine one day she summed us both up and put me into hysterical laughter when she said we had A.D.D.-O.S.S. – Attention Deficit Disorder – Oooh! Something Shiny! Oh my stars! That’s it. That’s what I have. It is never any clearer than as I travel to work in “prayer mode”. The second my car goes into gear on my 30-35 minute drive to work I start praying… I begin by praying for safe traveling mercies, and then I get serious, I ask for forgiveness for not having lived as good as I could have, and I praise Him for His mercy, and then I start the list…
The list of family and friends that I care for and some new ones along the way… But I get so easily side tracked. A typical prayer as I drive up the road might be,”Father, please forgive my missed opportunities yesterday, I could have spoken to that gentleman about you, but I … wow, those people only have one bag of trash, how can you just have one bag of trash, we must be really trashy people, I have 5 or 6 every week. They must not buy processed food… oh … sorry God. Lord, I pray my friend, she’s in such a battle, she needs your strength and mercy, her family needs you now more than ever to encourage…man, the waters up. I wonder if it will be higher this evening. I can’t imagine living by the river and having to contend with that all the time…oh, sorry God. Father please heal her. I have a friend that lost his job, and he could really use one, I pray you’ll guide him to it, or someone to him. Help him Father I pray. God I’m soooooo excited about the youth rally coming up, but we can’t do it without You, we need Your power and anointing on everyone involved, I pray You’ll…. Gosh, what’s that smell, ugh... dead critter. Reminds me of when David I rode the bike last summer and the wonderful aroma’s that wound penetrate my nostrils as we passed over them, that reminds me the bike license is due, jeepers, gotta take of that!... Oh, sorry God… and on and on it goes.
And those distractions don’t only occur in my prayer life. I can so easily get off task for the Lord. It just takes a second on internet when a shiny ad pops up with something I’d like to own… or an opportunity to go to an event that could make me extremely tired and lacks on my Bible Study or time with God. It’s those Ooooh! Something Shiny Moments that Satan loves. And with the youth, I have a feeling those Ooooh! Something Shiny Moments are even more often!
Hebrews 12:1 says “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
God understands that we are easily taken off track, so easily "beset". So how do we stay on task? You need a little SPF – Son Protection Factor!
Satan will make sure the Shiny things are there. You need something to take off the glare! The Son, Jesus, can protect you from Satan’s temptations.
Ooooh! Something Shiny!
The Word of God is a great protector! Just a few scriptures memorized can send Satan and his shiny toosh scrambling for cover. Dealing with temptation? Luke 11:4 is part of the Lord’s prayer and many have this memorized already. It’s also a great scripture to quote when something shiny tries to take your mind off the things of Christ. “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil”
Trouble with lust? Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? (or a man) Just a few words but the power within them is beyond the power of Satan.
Ooooh! Something Shiny!
Prayer is key! Stop in your tracks and take a second to say, “Father help me!” He is faithful to those who ask. II Peter 2:9 says “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” God knows you need help, ask Him for it.
Ooooh! Something Shiny! Will be ours!
Stay Strong!!! There is a reward waiting for you. James 1:12 says “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him”.
It’s not a sin to be tempted; it’s a sin to fall into it. And the only unforgivable sin, is not asking Jesus to be your Savior. If you haven’t taken care of that, you need to do it now, before its everlasting too late.
ADD-OSS is a serious condition in life. But with the power of God and our SPF! We can win this battle.
Want to know more… join me on Wednesdays and Sundays at Victory Baptist Church in the teen class. We have a great time of fellowship, and it’s another tool in your arsenal to fight Satan. It’s called friends.
THE LAST PRAYER
For months I have watched the youth of Victory Baptist Church have a burning desire to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their friends and families. We've had young men and young ladies step out in service for the Master. That burning desire then inflamed many more in our congregation and service after service we have enjoyed the presence of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has not been the only one from the spiritual realm present. Satan has made an appearance on a pretty regular basis as well.
Every time anyone steps out in faith, you can be sure that Satan plants himself in their path to do everything within his power to destroy Christ's mission. And he'll use anyone available. And many who did not know they were out for hire...
Family members: Who with all the good intentions in the world, and want see their child succeed, will sometimes misunderstand the importance of the role their child plays in eternity. After all, they're young, they've got plenty of time to serve God. This may or may not be true, and what also may or may not be true is that the lives young Christians have the most impact on can sometimes be cut short. They need to be saved, and often times the only one to reach them is another young person.
Friends: Again, it is not with ill intent that friends will draw you away from the mission of Christ. But the world is full of attractive "things" and "opportunities" that for a moments pleasure can lead to an eternity in Hell. That friend who invites you to a party, or out for a drive and away from Christ, needs to see Christ, but will not only not see Him, but will see Christ as false; and you will become a stumbling block to their salvation. Scary stuff...
The picture above, from the Smithsonian Institution Photo Contest epitomized what I fear will happen to our youth if we as leaders do not stand guard. Satan doesn't mess with too many of the older saints in the church because most of them have "retired". First of all, we retire to Heaven. Our service is not done until we stand before Christ and He hopefully says "Well Done!" Until then we are to be as much a part of the ministry as the young. We're to train them, they can't be trained unless they have trainers!
And to the teens in the Youth Group of Victory Baptist, I count you as leaders! When you stepped into the ministry and said "I will go". You said, "I will lead." Your ministry is just beginning, but it's a serious undertaking. I know you are up for the battle. I've fought on the front lines with you for months. Beware of Satan who seeks "whom he may devour". He seeks you! Now is not the time to lay down your sword. Get in your Bible, get in Church and let's get as many of your friends headed toward Heaven as we possibly can!
Do you see a problem... or potential?
As a spiritual exercise I recently did a spiritual timeline. Interesting! My life from 1962-2011 in a spreadsheet with data entries detailing the approximate years of good times and bad that have molded me into the person that I am today. When I first began filling in the decades I didn’t really notice it; but when it was completed it clearly defined how I got here and why those things happened. I will not bore you, or excite you with the details. Some are very personal. But even the heartaches brought joy to my soul as I seen the end result of why God allowed them.
After all, “Nothing just happens!” It was a spiritual résumé of my qualifications for the ministry. God does not call His leaders out of the blue one day. He begins preparing them in the school of life. Sometimes, He has fast learners, and other times He has folks like me that have to wander around in the wilderness 40 years. God calls all ages from every culture and background, often times with so much baggage they need a bellhop to carry it in! But they all have one thing in common. A calling. And if God called, and you answered your ministry has begun. Even if it’s not labeled as such. But the moment you are aware of your calling it is then that you need to start looking for training opportunities.
The people of Israel spent much of their time complaining instead of training and most did not come out of the wilderness. Only those who were born in wilderness came into the promised land with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, (Numbers 13:30) who when put to the test, seen possibilities not problems. Only those of us who are born again will see the Promised Land of Heaven, and just like Joshua and Caleb, we too will have tests along the way that will determine our position there. Will we see possibilities and potential, or problems? The Lord seen potential in Joshua making him a leader.
1Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,
2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
5There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
6Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
8This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
10Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
11Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.
Our timelines are the syllabus of courses that we take in life to get a degree for which we are called. When we are faced with a trial, it is training for the ministry. Will we see abundant fruit… or will we see abundant adversaries. It is assured that both are there. But if we take the fruit that God gives us, it will strengthen us to face and defeat the adversaries.
My spiritual résumé could have been completed a lot sooner, and I could have been eating berries on my way to the promised land, but I allowed obstacles to get me off the path. Glean from garden of my mistakes, don’t get off course!
Stay in the Word
Stay in Church
Stay in fellowship with other Christians.
And when Satan sends a giant into your life, look back on your timeline and mine, and see the victories that God has brought you through. This is the fruit of your labor that will nourish you for the fights ahead.
CAUTION! SATAN @ WORK
Just when I think that I dread another day of getting older, I get the opportunity to peer inside the life of teens. I am “today” glad that I am 48, it’s much easier to see Heaven from this vantage point.
Over the past several months we’ve had multiple teens step out in service to the Lord. And immediately Satan launched an attack on them like I have never witnessed in my experience as a youth director. Any temptation he could put in front of them, he did, and it was more often than not, so sly, the kids didn’t see it coming, and unfortunately neither did the adults in their lives.
It is the same with all of us that the subtlety of Satan is his greatest tool. He didn’t put an rated X movie in front of their eyes… he put school and social activities that were planned on Church night, pretty girls and handsome guys, and friends who loved laughter, and although they were not saved, they sure were fun to be with… and okay… so some of their thoughts were far from pure, but they won’t influence a solid Christian kid…hmmm.
My heart is broken. Not because kids mess up. Because adults do too... My heart is broken because I know the hearts that are in these young people and they love Jesus. And they are denying themselves the greatest blessings that they cannot even imagine!
David said in Psalm 119:9-10 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments”
David knew the penalty for falling away from God, for wandering from His commandments. In Psalm 6:6 he said “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.”
Sins are so short lived, but their residual effect lingers for a long time. And one of the difficulty in ministering to youth is their attention span is so short lived, and in those fleeting moments of lost testimony with their unsaved friends, Satan grabbed another foothold on their lives, by allowing them to see not Christ, but the failure of a Christian.
An ill spoken word, less than godly act, photos and comments on Facebook are viewed by the unsaved as proof there is no difference in Christians and non Christians.
I write this not to condemn any youth who has erred in this manner. Believe me, there are as many or more adults who have set the standard low. But I write this as encouragement in your defeat of Satan.
If you’ve made a mistake, ask Christ to forgive and move on! But when you move on, do so with boldness. I believe in you! I know that Satan has launched an attack on you because he knows you are a worthy opponent. You can make a difference and you will, if you follow David’s advice in verses 9-12 Psalm 119:
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
Read the Word of God, Seek the Ways of God, Worship Him for He is worthy, and sit at the Master’s feet, and see what Jesus has to teach you.
I love you. And so does He.
You Don't Need a Fortune Teller...
ACTS 16 16And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
22And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
You don’t need a fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen when you start serving Christ. Somebody will not be happy about it. The world does not care if you tell people you’re a Christian, just so long as you don’t act like it.
As I studied the above scripture for a Sunday School lesson this week, I found humor (in a very warped sense) all through these verses and in fact the entire story. Paul and Silas were preaching the Gospel, but that’s not what got them in trouble. What got them in trouble was converting a little girl that was making a couple fellows some big money in fortune telling. But even this didn’t happen quickly. The scripture says for days she followed Paul and Silas crying and telling people “These preachers can tell you how to be saved.” Her booking agents were not upset by that. After all, just so long as your lifestyle doesn’t change you can tell as many people about Jesus as you want to! Because Satan knows if your life style doesn’t change, your effectiveness as a soul winner will be nil.
But then… after days of hearing her scream (why he waited days I don’t know) but after days Paul finally turns to her and says to the demon within her “get out” – This is Shari quoting it by the way. So the demon departs. Well now they’ve done it. She’s changed. She no longer tells the lies of the Devil, and she is now proclaiming the gospel and living it. And the booking agents just lost their livelihood.
So they have Paul and Silas, stripped naked, beaten within an inch of their life and thrown into prison.
It is not until you start changing the world around you, that you really feel the power of persecution. It is also the time when Satan will rise up as many enemies (some may seem as friends) to keep your mouth shut.
But note what happens with this story.
In verses 25 and 26 Paul and Silas pray a midnight prayer that literally brings the house down!
25And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
After being beaten severely, thrown in stocks in a dungeon, Paul and Silas are singing hymns and praising God to the point that they get the attention of not just the guards and other inmates around them, but they get the attention of God! People get saved and a revival breaks out!
In spite of the intentions of the booking agents, Paul and Silas make an even bigger impact on the community!
So can you! Your unsaved friends don’t mind you saying you’re a Christian, so long as you don’t live it loudly. At that point conviction of the Holy Spirit comes into their lives, and they’re not happy. They probably won’t have you thrown into the dungeon, but they may make you feel pretty low. My advice to you now is “‘REJOICE!” for you have found yourself in a league with Paul and Silas!
Rejoice! And get ready for Revival!
God will reward your boldness. Don’t let Satan have an inch of ground in your school. March around it and proclaim it as your mission field. Because it is! I’m excited for what I see happening at Victory Baptist Church with our youth department. Revival is bubbling up in their hearts and they’re excited. So am I.
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What they say about a Jesus Chick event...
"Thanks for sharing from your heart and for being so real!"
"Thanks for challenging me."
"Loved your Realness"
I was so blessed by your sharing and singing, I laughed and cried and was drawn to the foot of the cross!"