Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Youth Leader?

“A student ministry, high school leader?” That's what I said when Jerry Hines, pastor of Woodside Student Ministries, first asked me to help out in his ministry four years ago. I had teenagers of my own, why would I want to spend my free time with more teenagers? I told him I would help out until he built up his team of leaders. Well, here I am. After numerous retreats, small group "get togethers", Project Radiates and hundreds of hours on buses, I can't imagine my life without the high school students of Woodside Bible Church.
As a parent and a high school leader I think I have an interesting perspective. Teenagers seem to get a bad rap in our society. They are considered selfish, impulsive, lazy, and rebellious and yes, some can be. Spending what could seem like endless hours with WSM students I am confident that teenagers can be selfless,caring, cautious, hardworking and surprisingly pliable. The students I have spent time with want to do what is right in the eyes of God and their parents. Do they always do the right thing, no, but who does?

The students of Woodside are a good representation of their schools and our neighborhoods. There are teens that take drugs, have been abused, have parents who are divorced or divorcing, are having sex, are failing school and have very little hope in their future. I have spoken to teens that have been in all of these situations and it's heart breaking. The difference between WSM students and the average teenager is Jesus Christ. When students begin to study God’s word and realize what Christ has done for them they gain the confidence they need to start making better choices. I have personally watched a teenage girl go from obnoxious and depressed to cheerful and respectful, because of her realization that Christ cared for her and that there are people on this earth that love and cared for her other than her parents. I've talked to a teenage boy that had so much hatred for the bullies at his school, that he wanted to kill them. After talking to him about making Godly choices and the hard choice to love his enemies, I witnessed the weight of the world being lifted and his attitude changed. He realized that God could help him love his enemies.

The point of this information is to encourage parents. Parents of young children, work diligently at keeping your kids in church. Instead of offering it as a choice, make it a regular and consistent priority in the life of your family. Hebrews 10:25 says: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This applies to children as well as adults. When kids are in a church that meets their age appropriate needs, they will be far less likely to stop attending as they grow. A church that meets age appropriate needs becomes a church that also teaches age appropriate obedience, service to others, worship, humility and other important Biblical principles. I am not saying that keeping kids, especially teens, in church is easy but I do think that it makes a difference in the choices that they make. Proverbs 22:6 says: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hope Community Church: East Detroit.

The beauty of living a life for God is that there is never a dull moment. Strangely enough followers of Christ have had a reputation for being boring, stuffy, mundane and dull and I do know a few people like that. But the God I serve has chosen to surround me with people that are fun, loving, creative and crazy in love with the children of God. Where was this proven: on the last week of Kids Camp for the "Hope Community" kids.

On Tuesday of "Citiweek" WSM stu
dents took over Kid's Camp for "Hope Community", they wrote skits, learned and sung songs, studied God's word, came up with crafts and loved on kids they had never met. All of this plus more to show God's love to people that may not know love.

On Wednesday of Citiweek we took 40 "Hope" kids, 10 staff and 16 Woodsiders to the Detroit Zoo. I have to admit the details were a little distracting for me, transportation, food, weather, budget and safety all were on my mind the weeks before our trip to Detroit. Then as if I was being spoken to directly by God this verse came to me....
Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

So I did just that, a few days before we left for Citiweek I sat at a picnic table at a park looking over and praying through the details of our upcoming trip. I prayed for each of the students in my group and committed each detail to God, even the silliest detail which I think was how I was going to get 50 "Happy Meals" from McDonald's to the zoo. Well, I can say with confidence that every single detail worked out perfectly, every student was wonderful, there was never a complaint or a bad attitude and each detail I had on a list was crossed off, not by me but by my detail driven God. The God of the universe, busy I'm sure, still took care of the details on a list that I wrote, right down to the silliest detail of getting 50 Happy Meals from McDonald's to the Zoo. Other precious lovers of God were used to help with these details, people that love the Lord so much that they would volunteer to spend hours right in the middle of their day to serve God by serving the people of Detroit. Amy for instance, who had just returned from vacation the day before drove from Oakland Twp. to Royal Oak volunteered to pick up 50 Happy Meals. Who would do that? Marlene and Sue volunteered to drive our students from Warren to Royal Oak so I could use the bus to pick up the "Hope" kids, and picked them up at the end of the day to.
Who would do that? Selfless lovers of God.
While at the zoo each WSM student was responsible for a couple of "Hope" kids, they took them to see the animals, carried them, talked to them, ate lunch with them, took pictures of them and it was nearly 90 degrees & raining for part of the day. Again, not one word of complaining and actually just the opposite, the WSM students amazed me at how kind and loving they were.

Emily, especially had her hands full she had 10 middle school students in her group. I decided to follow her group just as a back up, she didn't really need me, she did a wonderful job leading, playing, racing, and loving each of the kids in her group, all ten. Even at the end of the day when one of the girls was dragging her feet and was way behind the rest of the group Emily told her to hop on her back and she gave her a "piggy back" ride to catch up with the rest of the group.
Why would anyone do this? Well, from what I can see...because the love of Jesus pours out of the hearts of many people I know.
On Thursday the official last day of Kids Camp for "Hope Community" the WSM students took over again. This was kind of a surprise for us, we had been told we were going off site, but we stayed at the church and again pulled together with a skit, songs, and water play like none other. All of the kids walked a few houses down to a lot where we set up an industrial "slip and slide" which was loaned to us free of charge by another lover of God, and it was a huge hit. "Slip and Slide", water balloons, sidewalk chalk and squirt guns made for a fabulous end of summer party.

Why do the followers of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit have a reputation for being boring?

Freedom in Christ can be clearly witnessed watching kids...we have freedom to do what we want to and all we have to do is to implement the simple standards God has set for us. I have never read in scripture where it says we can't jump, dance, laugh or throw a water balloon.

Psalm 126:2 "Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, The LORD has done great things for them."

The love of Jesus was shared with the kids of Detroit during Citiweek.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blessing's Door

Is it possible that God is blessing me beyond anything I have ever expected? YES. Just when God closes one door, (one I have been trying to go through for years)....HE opens different doors in the most unexpected beautiful places.

If we could see what God sees...we would see that HE has beautiful things planned for us. The key is...we have to be looking, listening and ready for God's plan to be revealed. We do this through obedience to HIM, even when we would rather live for ourself.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Citiweek 2010

Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen REMARKABLE things today." Luke 5:26

Wow… being back from Citiweek: 2010 for 24 hours almost seems like it was all just a dream.

There were so many REMARKABLE situations; I would love to write about each experience in order to share the excitement with everyone I know, as well as to have in writing the details so I will never forget. I chose the word remarkable because “awesome” is over used; “wonderful” seems too light and “crazy good” is just not strong enough to describe the past six days I spent with 122 High school students and leaders from Woodside Bible Church in the city of Detroit.

{Someone has a dream, a thought, a conviction, one person alone typically can not make a dream come true, a thought become reality or a conviction become a blessing}

Is it possible that God can use me to help HIM? He has allowed me to be an instrument in HIS orchestra [a large group of musicians, whose members play a variety of different instruments] An orchestra is made up of many different instruments that make beautiful music. Yes, the instruments can play alone and sound okay, but when they are put together the music is much more powerful. This is how I see my experience last week in Detroit.

{Powerful:Remarkable:God Ordained}

God is the composer of the “music”, our pastors are the conductors, and the leaders are the principal players {the lead player of each orchestral section who is required to guide the section} The students are the section players {members of each section}. If we stretched this word picture to include a performance we would add to the cast of characters, ticket takers, concessions, custodians ect...each on our own makes a noise but together we make a memorable moment in time. God’s orchestra performed and it was amazing.

I will be posting some individual stories of how God's purpose was fulfilled in the days we spent showing love and giving hope to Detroit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More About Detroit!

Who in their right mind would take 100 suburban high school students to Detroit? What kind of high school student would want to take a week of their Summer vacation to go to Detroit? How many high school students do you know that would go into a stranger’s home and clean their basement that was littered with animal feces, dead mice, broken furniture, thick cob webs hanging everywhere and to top it off the basement flooded with all of these things on the floor? Let me answer these questions for you.

The STUDENTS of Woodside Bible Church and their “not always” fearless leaders, that sing this line from a song called “Our God” by Chris Tomlin, “If our God is for us who could ever stop us?” with passion. The most selfless, hardworking, non-complaining, loving, kind-hearted, gentle and faithful teenagers attend WBC. These are the students I am privileged to know, spend time with and serve God with.

{God is so good to me}

Some of the highlights from the “D-Town Driven” team will be shared in this blog but there are many fascinating stories from the other three teams that were serving in Detroit as well.

Our team put together 50 brown handled bags filled with food, water and a sweet hand written note, our students donated all of the items. We decided that we would pass out the bags any time we saw a homeless person, and let’s just say we could have past out 50 more bags. There were many situations during the passing out of bags that were memorable, like when we saw a man in a wheel chair going down the street and two of our students hopped out of the bus and gave the man a bag, Keith, he smiled from ear to ear, like he just received a birthday gift. Then there was the man sitting on the steps of a church, two of our students jumped out and gave him a bag, and as we were driving away he was waving saying, "thank you" and asking for another one to give to his wife. Then there was "Regina" sitting on the corner and not only did our students give her a bag, they got to sit and chat with her for a few minutes. This is what is so amazing to me, teenagers that could be at home in their clean comfy homes, hanging out with their friends at a coffee shop are excited to share food, conversation and the love of God with people they have never met and will probably never see again. There is only one explanation for this kind of selflessness, Jesus. If anyone ever questions whether God is real and working miracles in the 21st century they should meet some of the high school students I know. It’s a beautiful thing to see teenagers moved by the Holy Spirit to serve, love and worship.

{It’s remarkable}

"Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you." Hebrews 14:1

Painting the garage: this was a hot, hot day by 11:00 AM it was at least 90 degrees and the humidity was about 90%. Marianne, she is a “hoarder”, she had piles of junk in three different spots on her property, and every seat in her car was filled with stuff except for the driver’s seat. She also had a collection of bracelets, rings and a key chain around her wrist that had at least 25 old keys on it. When we asked her if she wanted us to throw away the old broken glass leaning on her garage, she was quite firm in saying, “NO, don’t throw anything away.” Our students scrapped, sanded and painted the whole garage, cleaned up her yard, pulled weeds and made her yard look much better. When we were leaving she told me her car wasn’t starting, so of course one of our students was excited to help her. We tried to get her car started and when it didn’t start she asked for a ride to the corner repair shop, so we dropped her off and I am pretty sure if we would have had the means the kids would have taken up a collection and bought her a new car.
{Love others as you love yourself}

On Wednesday night we attended a church in Detroit, the pastor was great and he said something that just made me smile, God is so cool how He puts things together for us. The pastor made this statement, “We need to stand on the shoulders of other believers.” Well, as you can see in the picture, the day before we heard this pastor, while painting the garage we did not have a ladder so our students used their height and strength to lift each other up on their shoulders to finish painting the high spots of the garage. How can anyone deny that God is at work orchestrating the lives of believers when you see teenagers doing an act of kindness and a pastor they don't even know mentions that exact thing they did in his message the next day.
{There is no coincidence, only a well orchestrated plan}.

More stories to come.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Birthday Week Begins:

I am staying up right now even though I am exhausted from a wonderful week of serving God in Detroit because I want to be the first person to wish Courtney and Lindsay, "Happy 21st Birthday".

Twenty one years....whoa, seriously it seems like it was maybe a month or two ago that I was blessed with a set of preemie twin girls. The tiniest babies I had ever seen and I was responsible for them.

What I have learned the most from having twin girls....God does answer prayer, not always how I expected Him to but God has always comes through.

Courtney and Lindsay both love the Lord and have a great understanding of God's purpose. I am so honored to be their mom.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Looking for Remarkable Things

Today I am trying to figure out what is important. I can't do everything I want what is most important. Cleaning...sleeping...reading...studying God's word...what does God want me to do today?

Luke 5:26
Everyone was AmAzEd and gave PRAISE to God. They were filled with AwE and said, "We have seen REMARKABLE things today."

It's settled...I am going to look for REMARKABLE things today.