I hope the New Year is treating you well and I hope you have your New Year's Resolutions firmly in hand. Around here, things are going swimmingly. Students are back from Christmas Break and plowing headlong into the new school year. Before we get too far into that though, here is a look at how December went around here.
December kicked off with a youth Lock-In in at the Faith congregation. They had all kinds of games and activities planned and they invited our preacher Thomas Pruett and I to come out and do a tag-team lesson for the teens. It was a good deal! We planned our points to revolve around each other and then took turns standing up and talking. I've never done a lesson quite like that before, but it went off swimmingly. The teens seemed to enjoy it too, probably because we kept switching the presentation up on them so much.
We ran some games and hung out with the teens until around midnight and then drove our weary way home. All in all, I would call the night a success. The relationships we are building with these young people are causing them to be more interested in our youth rally next month, which in turn is getting them more interested in what we are doing with the college ministry, which in turn will hopefully guide their hearts towards serving God in greater ways in this area someday. It is admittedly a long game we are playing with this one, but investing time and energy in the young people of our churches is always a good move. It reminds me of Abraham and his tamarisk tree. Genesis 21:33 says:
“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.”
Tamarisk trees make wonderful shade trees. They can grow up to 50 ft tall and, through massive amounts of evaporation, they actually have a cooling effect on the air around them. However, they take a long time to grow, some say as long as 400 years. You don't invest your time in a tamarisk shade tree unless you plan for you or your descendants to be around for awhile. Telling teenagers about Jesus is our tamarisk tree.
For the next couple of weeks it was pretty low key. We enjoyed our last couple of group Bible studies of the semester and wrapped up our study on the Gospel of Luke. The students wrestled their way through finals and took off for Christmas break. They were all sad to see each other go though; our little group has grown pretty close this semester.
I helped a couple of our students with car troubles, which seems to be a regular occurrence around here. We could probably support a whole ministry team devoted to keeping our college student's cars running. We had another area preacher meeting, which continues to be an encouraging and unifying time every month. Our church's preschool presented their annual Christmas Program to a packed house, which is always a good time.
Eventually, things quieted down and I started putting more time towards planning some of our big upcoming events. We are hosting our third annual youth rally the last weekend in February and it is going to be a good one. The theme is “Crazy Love” based on the book by Francis Chan. The big idea is to talk about how crazy God is about us and how, in turn, we can be crazy about Him too. We always try to base these youth rallies on some sort of encouraging or challenging book and this one is both. We have a variety of speakers coming from many of the congregations in the area and we are working hard to make this a truly area-wide event. In fact, for those of you in the area, I've included a flier, so feel free to sign up and head our way. Our flier looks like a bigger versions of this:
I also spent some time making plans for our upcoming mission trip. Two years ago, we sent a team of four students and I to Natal, Brazil with the “Let's Start Talking” program. It was a fantastic trip and an extremely formative time for the faith of our young people. It was so good that I want to do it every two years, so this summer we are sending off another team. This time we are sending two of our students, Rachel and Bailey. They both went last time and it changed their lives. Both of these young ladies are considering how missions are going to play into their lives and careers moving forward and can't wait to head back out and get some more experience sharing their faiths in one-on-one Bible studies.
In fact, both of our young ladies still have a ways to go in their fund raising efforts. They each have at least $3,900 left to raise, so if you feel moved to support them prayerfully or financially it would be very much appreciated and put to good work. Those kinds of numbers are terrifying for our broke college students, but they are making me proud depending on God and submitting to Him in all ways. So let me know if you have any interest helping out and you have a great day!