This afternoon I read the book The Purse-Driven Life by Anita Renfroe. (SO funny! Short, and perfect for a quick, summer-afternoon read, when it's too hot to think too deeply...) In it, she quotes this poem, written by an unknown author and an obvious take-off on the much loved "Footprints" poem. Although I hadn't see it yet, I Googled it and found it all over the internet!
One night I had a wondrous dream
Now, while it cracks me up (no pun intended- oh, who am I kidding, all my puns are intended) somehow it just doesn't sit well with me (ahem) . So I added to the end:
Last night, our teaching pastor delivered a message entitled, "Stars." The focus scripture was Psalm 19:
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
Day after day they pour forth speech;
It was an excellent, excellent message (and very timely for us as we are studying astronomy!)
As I listened, I was reminded of a similar message I heard a few months ago by Louis Giglio at a Chris Tomlin concert. There was a certain photo he showed that absolutely took my breath away, so I stayed up late last night searching the internet for it. I found it at the Hubble Site:
This image of the core of the nearby Whirlpool Galaxy, was taken with the camera on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It shows a striking , dark "X" silhouetted across the galaxy's nucleus. The "X" is due to absorption by dust and marks the exact position of a black hole which may have a mass equivalent to one-million stars like the sun.
Our pastor quoted from the book, The Privileged Planet , that "Earth is located in the prime place for life, but also observation." From that he highlighted the fact that "God gave us the best platform to observe and know Him." According to the NASA website, "the [Whirlpool] galaxy is spectacular because it is tilted nearly face-on to Earth, allowing for an unobstructed view of its bright core."
The best platform to observe and know Him.
This morning I am reminded afresh that the cross of Christ is a "face-on, unobstructed view" of the Father's love for us. It is the "platform by which we may observe and know Him." The cross is there, for those who will find it. And it is there to be found.
Ugly: (I categorize this as "ugly" because it was sort-of a rant)
ranted posted August 2, 2006
but is this really necessary to reach today's youth for Christ?
- Eating melted chocolate candy out of a diaper a la the "Pampered Palate" game
- the "Banana Barf" game
- Girls burping boys a la the "Baby Bottle Burp" game
Don't get me wrong. I love fun. I love games. I love games with kids/youth. In fact, my husband and I coordinate the Awana club at our church which draws 400+ kids (age 3 through high school) each week, and one of the key components is the game portion of the night. We've had kids start coming for the games, then begin attending club each week, which eventually led to the entire family joining the church. Praise God! We've played games on the beach in China and in villages in West Africa. I've seen total strangers come together and, through games, build a rapport and eventually hear the saving message of the gospel. I totally get the idea of using games as outreach. But, some of it has gone too far in my opinion. And I've found out that apparently others feel the same way. Since this was on my mind this week, I did a search and found an article (in its entirety at thegoodsteward.com) that was originally published in "World Magazine" back in 2002. I think Gene Veith summarizes nicely why some of the games in today's youth groups, and one in particular that I've witnessed recently, bother me so much:
"What do teenagers learn from these youth group activities? Nothing of the Bible. Nothing of theology. Nothing of the cost of discipleship. But they do learn some lessons that they can carry with them the rest of their lives:
Lose your inhibitions. Young people usually have inhibitions against doing anything too embarrassing or shameful. These exercises are designed to free people from such hangups. For some reason, post-Freudian psychologists—whose "sensitivity groups" are the model for these kinds of exercises—maintain that such inhibitions are bad. Christians, though, have always insisted that we need to feel inhibited about indulging in things for which we should feel ashamed. This is part of what we mean by developing a conscience.
Though being "gross" may not be sinful in itself, overcoming natural revulsions can only train a child to become uninhibited about more important things.
Give in to peer pressure. Defenders of these kinds of activities maintain that they help create group unity. The way they work, though, is to overcome a teenager's inhibitions with the greater desire to go along with the group. In other words, these exercises teach the teenager to give in to peer pressure. Instead, youth groups need to teach Christian teenagers not to go along with the crowd and to stand up against what their friends want them to do.
Christianity is stupid. Status-conscious teenagers know that those who are so desperate to be liked that they will do anything to curry favor are impossible to respect. Young people may come to off-the-wall youth group meetings, but when they grow up, they will likely associate the church with other immature, juvenile phases of their lives, and Christianity will be something they will grow out of.
Teenagers get enough entertainment, psychology, and hedonism from their culture. They don't need it from their church. What they need—and often yearn for—is God's Word, catechesis, and spiritual formation."© World Magazine, 2002. To learn more about World, visit the magazine’s web site at www.worldmag.com or call (800) 951-NEWS (6397).
Though I'm leery of anything labeled "contemplative" these days (another blog topic for another day!) I found a review for the book Contemplative Youth Ministry. The review (which can be found here) has some interesting observations from the book as well as thoughts from the reviewer:
"Mark writes that youth ministry has often lacked a sense of presence, that instead we’ve concentrated most of our ministries on either the anxieties of young people or the anxieties of the adults within our churches."
"When the anxieties that drive us are those of the young people, (Church is boring, God is about conformity, Christians are boring) then we create programs and events that are all about fun and recreation, the programs attempt to be culture friendly involving frozen chickens, data projectors, play stations and mystery trips but lack the deeper, prayerful and mission action of the Christian faith."
I feel I should say at this point that I really admire those who have committed to work in youth ministry. That takes a special calling and a unique set of gifts (most of which I admittedly do not have!) I am awed and humbled by some of the dynamic folks at my church who serve in our youth ministry, motivated by hearts completely on fire for the Lord. It's wonderful to see! Now that I have a "youth" of my own, our family is directly feeling the impact of those dedicated servants.
But I feel the above authors make great points. I think there is a fine line between purpose-driven outreach and anxiety-driven wackiness. When that line is crossed, the message is lost. As I read some of the ideas offered on the internet on youth ministry websites and observe some of the games at gatherings I've attended personally, I can't help but ask myself, "Is this being done to the glory of God? Can this be done to His glory? Is any of this pointing to Jesus Christ? What are we really teaching these kids?"
Does playing Butt Charades , swallowing live goldfish , or drinking nasty concoctions from a blender do a good job of teaching: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:19)
Maybe I'm missing something...
All About Me:
I will post a link for this one, since it was so recent and you probably read it anyway. If you didn't, here are 5 Things You Didn't Know About Me.
Well, there you have it. If you've read this far... thank you! Now that I've found your blogs I wish, wish, wish I had known you were there all along. If anyone else does a "blast from the past" let me know, I want to see it! God is using so many of your blogs to speak to me each day.