Adam’s Devotional – October 18-24, 2018

From Adam… 

It boggles the mind to think about how much has been written about the idea of living in Christ. Some theologians have written hundreds of pages just on the word “in”. Why is it such a big deal?  Here’s why. All of humanity is looking to answer some version of these three questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? And what is my purpose? The two words in Christ respond to all three questions. In Christ, we are God’s beloved children. That means we are siblings with God’s incarnate son Jesus Christ. That’s who we are. We are God’s beloved. In Christ, we belong in the heavenly family, God’s family; that’s where we will always fit in. There is always a seat saved for us at God’s table. And in Christ, we are called to join in God’s continuing work in the world. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s our purpose. It’s what we get to do. It’s what we get to be a part of . . . God’s work, God’s mission, God’s love.  That’s why our youth ministry mission statement reminds us that we are called to live in Christ. The longer we live in Christ, the more we come to realize what those two words mean. We realize more and more the truth of what the Apostle Paul says in Acts, that in Christ “we live and move and have our being.” How are you answering those three questions in your life right now? What would change about the way you think, act, and relate to others if you did so in Christ?  God is up to something.  Be a part of it!

Adam’s Devotional – October 11-17, 2018

From Adam…

When I was in high school, I ran cross country.  I was not a very coordinated kid, but I could run fast in a single direction for an extended period of time. Coach Muckle was the basketball coach, but he also coached cross country in the off season (which is why all basketball players who weren’t playing football had to run cross country). I loved the way he coached.  In my opinion cross country is in the top 4 sports requiring a ridiculous amount of endurance (my top 4: swimming, wrestling, water polo, and cross country). Coach Muckle did all of our workouts with us. That’s right, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.  Sprints, middle distance, long distance, this 40+ year old man ran with us. And as he ran with us, he’d encourage us. No matter our speed, talent, success, or failure . . . that man encouraged us. For the four years I ran for Coach Muckle, we got either 1st or 2nd at the State Championship.  We were not better runners, but we had a better coach–a coach who knew what it was like to run that course because he’d run it next to us in practice. That’s what Jesus does, and that’s what we hope to do at First Pres.  Our youth mission statement calls adults to teach and train alongside youth in our church. We’re not supposed to run this race of life, this journey of our faith, this becoming more and more who God calls us to be, alone.  We are called to it together. Who has God called you to run with?  Who has God called you to coach? Who is coaching you? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.  
God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – October 4-11, 2018

From Adam…

You didn’t choose God. God chose you.  You didn’t pick God. God picked you. We are defined first and foremost by God’s choice for us. God comes to us again and again, surrounds us with creation, runs out to meet us in Jesus Christ, and says, “I loved you first, and I will love you last.” That’s why the youth ministry mission statement reads engage 100% of the youth–because that’s what God does.  God engages all of us. God seeks all of us out.  God seeks us in the Garden, God encounters us in Abraham, God frees us from Egypt, God puts on the garment of human flesh in Jesus Christ, Christ descends into Hell to be with us, and God seeks us out through the Holy Spirit every new day. God is not concerned with proving God’s existence. God is concerned with tearing down any dividing wall we put up, coming to us, and being with us.  Over and over, again and again, God comes to us, creates relationship with us, and loves us. You didn’t choose God; God chose you. What would it look like if you chose God back? What would it look like if you said yes to God’s yes to you today? What would it look like if you said yes to God’s yes to others today? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – September 27 – October 3, 2018

From Adam…

If you’ve gone to First Presbyterian Church for a while, then you already know.  You know that more often than not, Sundays can feel like family reunions. And that’s what it’s supposed to feel like.  We come back together once a week to remember that we are family– to remember that even if we are having trouble forgiving Uncle Church member or Aunt Pew Partner, that God has already forgiven them.  We remember, “oh yeah, my last name is Heavenly Family.” Our Youth Ministry Mission Statement reads . . . The youth ministry of First Presbyterian Church . . . to be a part of a church, to be a part of a Christian faith community is kind of like being a part of AA– except in public, on display for all to see. When we show up to church, we are admitting that we don’t have it all figured out.  We are admitting that we are imperfect, that life has become unmanageable, that we need each other, and we need God. Sitting down in the pew is synonymous with coming clean with the way we have hurt ourselves, hurt others, and hurt God in our attempts to do life on our own.  We sit down in the pew to get off the ladder of success, social status, and popularity. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to go to church sometimes. The gravitational pull of performance-based identity can be so strong in our culture, that admitting we are not the person social media presents us to be is like shooting ourselves in the social foot. We are gathered to worship by the Holy Spirit not so that God can fix us or so that others can see how holy we are.  The Holy Spirit gathers us in worship, so that we can encounter and re-encounter a God who says, “There is nothing you can do to make me love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make me love you less.”  God’s up to something . . . go to church.

Adam’s Devotional – September 20-26, 2018

From Adam…

It’s actually difficult to quantify the pivotal, formational, and all around ontological (who you are deep down) role parents play in your life. The lack of parents, the “too much” of parents, the “just enough” of parents, the amount they work, the amount they play, the way they talk, the way they fight, the way they believe, the list goes on and on.  When a therapist sits down with a client, one of the first things they talk about is family of origin and relationships with parents. You know what they don’t talk about? How popular you were in middle school and high school. They don’t talk about whether or not you made the varsity team. They don’t talk about your GPA or standardized test scores.  All those things matter and are important, but they are not as important as parents and family. That’s why our youth ministry mission statement says “In partnership with families,” because we know the most formative relationships in your life are the ones you have with your family. Here’s the deal, we don’t pick our families.  They are just given to us. Good or bad, present or absent, adopted or biological, or simply guardians, they are gifts. Honestly, at times they really blow it, and at other times they knock it out of the park. The question is, how are you investing in your relationship with your family? If your family is a gift from God, how are you doing at receiving it? What if you made a goal to learn something new about your family members every day this month or this year?  What if you asked them how you could pray for them and then intentionally prayed for them on a weekly basis? God’s up to something. Be a part of it!

Adam’s Devotional – September 13-20, 2018

From Adam…

I was recently talking to a graduated senior who was heading off to freshman year in college.  I asked what this student was hoping for this first year in the new chapter of their life. What was said moved me.  They thought for a moment, looked at me with incredibly clarity and said, I don’t want to follow, but I want to be led. They didn’t just want to follow the crowd, but they wanted to be led by God.  They didn’t want to follow other people’s expectations, but they wanted to be led by Jesus.  They didn’t want to blindly follow the norm, but they wanted to be led by the wild unruly call of the Holy Spirit.  Led by the Holy Spirit . . . that’s the opening line of our youth ministry mission statement.  As this school year gets underway, are you following or are you being led?  Who are you tempted to follow? Where are they going? What would it look like if you allowed yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit?  Maybe you would spend more time in prayer around decisions instead of doing what comes naturally or easily to you. What if you repeated that college freshman’s statement, “I don’t want to follow, but I want to be led”, every time you got a text message?  Or what if you wrote it at the top of your class notes throughout the day?  May we all be encouraged not to follow blindly where everyone else is going, but to take the risk of fidelity to be led by the Holy Spirit.  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – September 6-12, 2018

From Adam… 

Which comes first, love or grief?  Do we love more because we’ve grieved, or do we grieve more because we’ve loved?  Could it be that good grief and good love actual create hope and gratitude? Is there such a thing as generative grief? Could it be that mourning leads to richer, deeper, fuller, more awake life? It rarely feels good to wake up in the middle of a delightfully restful and deep sleep, but when we’re sleeping, we are not awake. We are less aware of life around us. Is the grief of tragedy some kind of alarm clock for our soul? Could grief be waking us up for something more alive, more aware of pain, and also with greater potential for more joy? Recently Todd Jones shared this idea. We cannot control when, where, or what form tragedy will take, but we can have an impact on how we respond. How does God want us to respond when things don’t go our way? How does God hope we interact with tragedy– regardless of how grand or minuscule? What does our faith have to say to our grief? Maybe that’s what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Romans 5 when he writes “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Devotional – August 30-September 5, 2018

From Adam
Senior, Nephtalie Mapangala said it beautifully at Fall Kick Off this past Sunday:

There are so many ways we can join in what God is doing!  Here are five ideas I have for you:
#1. BE KIND to others and make those around you feel wanted and appreciated.
#2. Donate items that you don’t use to your local Goodwill or to anyone that might be in need.
#3. At school, sit and talk to that kid that’s isolated.
#4. When someone is spreading gossip about another student, instead of joining in, come to their defense.
#5. Follow Ephesians 4:32:  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”

God is up to something. Be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – August 23-29, 2018

From Adam…

Hope wins. Love has the last word. Actually, Love has the first word too. You could sum up the story of the Bible in this way.  God said “yes” to us in creation. We said “no” to God in sin. Then God says “yes” to us in Jesus.  The first and the last word God speaks to us is “yes”. In many ways the question Jesus poses to us is, “Will you say ‘yes’ to God’s ‘yes’ to you?”  What are you saying to God? In a way, every time we breathe in, we say “yes” to God’s gift of life. If you think about it, we actually can’t live without saying “yes” to God. What about our actions, our reactions, our words and our silences–what do those communicate to God?  Are we saying “yes”?  Are we saying “no”?  What would it look like if we said “yes” to God at school, on our phone, at work, on our sports team, or in our relationships with family members? Jesus tells his followers, “Love one another the way I have loved you; by this, all will know that you are my disciples.”  Does anyone know you follow Jesus?  How are you loving?  Are you saying “yes” to God’s “yes” to you?   God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – August 16-22, 2018

From Adam…

Spoiler alert: high school is not the best time in your life. That might sound strange coming at the beginning of the school year, but it’s not. So whether you are loving it right now or hating it, life gets so much better, fuller, and richer. Scripture tells us that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” So whether you’re dreading school or psyched out of your mind about it, the expectation faith invites us into is hope. We hope that one day we will experience acceptance and belonging.  We hope that one day what we have to offer will be celebrated and valued. And we hope that one day we’ll discover who in the world we really are. The good news is that God responds to each of those hopes right now. When it comes to God, one day is always today. God already accepts us, God already values and celebrates our gifts, and God is always reminding us who we already are: God’s beloved children. So as this school year begins, may we all experience the hopeful expectation of faith that God is up to something, and we are invited to be a part of it.

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