Of space. Of thoughts. Of time...
...and so it begins. The summer of interning. I am so so so tired. Not because of anything that's happened in the last few days...just because of life catching up with me. I need like a whole day devoted to sleeping. That's not happening this week though. We're full swing into VBS at North Metro, so every day this week we have 600+ children running around the campus. Tonight is the first night of a Senior/College Girls' Bible Study. Tomorrow night is a bible study that I go to every other Tuesday night. So it will be at least Wednesday before I can breath. And to top off the week, we have a middle school lock in this Friday from 10pm to 8am. haha. I'm planning on napping as often as possible.
There's been a topic that keeps popping up at various times and places in my life lately. It's the fact that students -- or girls in particular -- don't understand the reasons they should guard their hearts and their bodies. It raises the question of how much a student pastor or church staff member or Sunday school teacher should get involved, and how much should be left to parents. There is no guarantee that a student is being raised by godly parents or that their parents are willing, able and anxious to talk to them about issues of the heart. However, there are parents in this world that would be offended if their student's youth pastor started addressing the way they dress or speak or present themselves. It's a delicate balance, but the issue is one that we cannot ignore.
As a girl, I have no idea how boys think no matter what age they are. I can assure you that, as a teenager, I did not make decisions based on how my actions would affect my brothers in Christ. I didn't even think about it until my youth pastor or Sunday school teacher drew my attention to it. Sometimes girls argue that the boys are to blame for not being in close enough relationship to the Lord. At the same time, boys argue that it is the girls' responsibility to not draw their minds to any place that is impure. The fact is, it's everyone's "fault". It is the responsibility and privilege of every Christian to draw people to the Lord. Not to themselves. Not to a place of inappropriate thoughts or actions or lifestyles. To Christ. People should look at me and see Him -- not what I'm wearing or how I'm behaving. So it is up to me to be close enough to God for that to happen. As a person who is involved with student ministry everyday, it is also my responsibility to encourage students to draw near to Him as well. In Colossians, Paul writes "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God...Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry...Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." (3:1-3,5,12-14) So many times we give lists and lists and lists of "don'ts" without ever addressing the "dos". Paul gives the Colossians a list of things they should give up and avoid. BUT then he gives them a list of things they should strive for. The mistake that is often made is that we tell students what they should not do...giving them reasons like "you might get pregnant", "you'll miss out on your childhood", "people will think bad things about you". We never tell them that they should strive for a closer relationship with the Lord because He is goodness and mercy and faithfulness and the meeter of all of our needs--physical, emotional, or spiritual. No one tells students that there is so much joy in knowing you're in the center of God's will that can never be found by doing things our own way. No one says that being in close relationship with God brings fulfillment that cannot be found in any earthly relationship. No one tells them that the Lord designed them individually and specifically for a purpose that He has set out for them. Or that friendships based in a shared desire to be like Jesus are so much closer and valuable than friendships based on earthly commonalities. Instead we list of things they shouldn't do because we say so or because it's frowned upon. We focus too much on issues without digging deeper in our study of scripture.
The thing is, if we show students or adults or children or anyone the importance of being in the Word and finding out more about the character of Jesus, all those other things will fall into place. If your heart is in the right place, you'll dress appropriately, speak appropriately, act appropriately...because your goal will be to do the will of God. All of your decisions will begin to revolve around the Lord. Through prayer and practice, we can align our desires with those of God. It's not easy. You can't sit down for the first time and expect to spend an hour or two in intense prayer and Bible Study. You have to practice. Start small. The Lord will give you strength and endurance. Let me assure you that I am preaching as much to myself as anyone. Maybe more. So if your focus and end goal is to please the Lord, you won't have to worry about your behavior being a distraction to another Christian. If you spend more time with Jesus, you'll begin to look like Him. And that will attract others to you. And your presence will draw people to God. To put it in Sunday School terms...you can go from being a stumbling block to being a stepping stone.
We need to value and encourage right relationships with the Lord. Focus on getting the hearts of people in the right place, and trust that the Lord can change their desires and actions and lives. We, as Christians, need to live like the Bride that we are...awaiting our Bridegroom--Jesus Christ. We need to honor and love and be loyal to Jesus first--submitting to His authority and wisdom and leading. He will take care of the rest. We just have to stop being so stubborn and arrogant.
Obviously this is not a complete thought process. Just thinking via blogger for the time being. Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas or criticisms. I'm friendly. :)
Until next time friends.