Last weekend I had the honor and privilege of speaking to First Assembly of God youth ministry, Elevate, at their fall retreat in Pickwick, TN.
This was such an awesome time with some quality teens whom I really enjoyed getting to spend the weekend with. I found it so easy to talk to them---mainly because of their open attitude towards this stranger. It was just so nice to be around teens who truly seem to enjoy being around an old guy like me (yes, I know I'm not really old, but to some teens 32 is old) who they have no relationship with.
I've been really thinking about this trip and asking God if I'm really done with youth ministry. Honestly, I've felt like my youth pastoring days were behind me, and maybe they are....maybe.
I thought I'd share just a few thoughts from the message I spoke. Again this is just a taste of the over-an-hour message I delievered Saturday night. It was an awesome night, truly God showed up and many teens lives were touched.
Life has a way of shuffling us all down the same path and moving us into the same pattern.
Patterns have a way of making us fit into a standard that God rather not have us conform to.
Romans 12:1-2 says, "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Tucked in this scripture is the basic understanding that the "outcome" of our lives is produced by the "choices" we make, which are driven by the "beliefs" we trust.
Many times we don't like the outcome of our life so we think if we make a different choice then that will make us happy. Rarely do we go back to the foundation of what we think and "renovate" what we believe.
This type of pattern is what causes frustration in our lives. Whether it's an addiction, bad habit, relationship, job or church....breaking free from the issue at hand starts with an inside adjustment. It's true what is said, "wherever you go, there you are." Many times it's not the outside circumstances that need to be tweaked, it's the inside condition our hearts.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
Then Paul unlocks the key to being able to handle the outcomes of life, in verse 13, "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."
Breaking free happens when you spend time in building a relationship with Jesus, you transform your thoughts to think like Jesus and you renovate your beliefs to line up with God's beliefs.