Adam’s Devotional – December 6-12, 2018

From Adam…

Over and over again . . . more than just consistently . . . God chooses us.  When God wonders about the how, the who, and the what of God’s most exciting work, God chooses us.  Think about it. When God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen wanted to do the greatest Divine work, do you know what God did?  God put on flesh! When God wanted to offer us the complete, whole, full revelation of Who God is, God took on human form to do it. God loves for us, prefers for us, hopes for us to be a part of what God is doing in the world.  Advent and Christmas are reminders of that miraculous and grace filled reality– the reality that the most powerful, creative, and loving Being chooses to reveal that love creatively and powerfully through us! That’s why the second half of our ministry motto is: Be a part of it.  How has God called you to reveal God’s love to the world?  How has God called you to reveal God’s love where you work?  How has God called you to reveal God’s love at your school? How has God called you to reveal God’s love at church?  How has God called you to reveal God’s love to your friends? How has God called you to reveal God’s love to your family? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – November 29-December 5, 2018

From Adam…

It really is easier to believe that God’s not up to something.  It’s easier to believe that there are God forsaken places, times, and experiences. We can make sense of a God who is absent in suffering.  But a God who is with us in suffering– that’s downright offensive. The idea that God is present in the fires of California, in children dying from famine in Yemen, and in the moments when people we know and love say “no” to the gift of this life is offensive and inconvenient. How dare God be present in our pain.  How dare God offer us love in spaces when all we feel is hate. How dare God invade our raging chaos with hope-filled peace. But that’s what God does. God is born into the loneliness of a manger– born into the sadness of a mother and a father without a home. God doesn’t wait for us to be ready. God doesn’t wait for it to be appropriate or convenient.  God doesn’t show up just when we want it.  God shows up now. That’s what we mean when we say God’s up to something. We mean God is Emmanuel, God with us. Where are the places in your life that you believe are God forsaken? What are the spaces or relationships in your life where you believe God is absent? What would happen if you believed God was actually showing up in those spaces, waiting for you to notice the divine presence with you, hoping you’ll hear the Holy Spirit’s invitation to love, joy, and peace whether you’re ready or not?  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – November 22-29, 2018

From Adam…

Thanksgiving is the most Christian holiday.  No, not the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sitting down for turkey dinner, the idea of celebrating gratitude. Remember what Karl Barth wrote: grace evokes gratitude like the voice and echo, gratitude follows grace like thunder follows lightning . . . only gratitude can correspond to grace. Gratitude is our faithful response to God’s over the top generosity to us in Jesus Christ. The opposite of gratitude is entitlement: the idea that we deserve what we have and then some. Ingratitude is at the heart of our choice to separate ourselves from God and one another. What are you taking for granted in your life?  When’s the last time you thanked God for breathing? When’s the last time you listened to each heart beat as a rhythmic gift of God? This week is Thanksgiving. Many of us will sit at tables surrounded by family, friends, and food. How many of the people sitting at that table do you take for granted? What would happen if you told them face to face how grateful you were for them?  Some of us will not be with family and friends, and our hearts will ache and long to be with them. Why is it that it’s easy to be grateful for something when it’s no longer there? Why is it sometimes true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone? This Thanksgiving, don’t just savor the turkey, but soak up the gratitude of those you’ve been with before, those you are with now, and those God may be bringing you to be with in the future. God’s up to something . . practice gratitude.

Adam’s Devotional – November 15-21, 2018

From Adam…

I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  It’s so true that it’s a little depressing, but I can’t deny it. The kingdom of Heaven is like a cell phone. It seems small (well as long as you don’t have the I-phone 8+), but it changes every part of your life. It impacts your life at home, school, church, work, and the world. The kingdom of Heaven is like a cell phone. It’s not something you just have; it’s with you. It’s always on in the background: calling you to connection, relationship, and reminding you that there is more going on than you realize (aka FOMO). The kingdom of Heaven is like a cell phone.  That’s why the last line of our youth ministry mission statement points to the places we hope are impacted, influenced, and transformed by your faith . . . “your homes, schools, churches, workplaces, and worlds.” How are you doing at being awake to and aware of the God’s presence and call in those places? What would it look like if you carried the Kingdom of Heaven with you the way you carry your cell phone? What would happen if you were as attentive to the sound of God’s call as you are to the sound of getting a text message? How would it feel to carry around the deep, realer than real, truer than true presence of God with you instead of the continual reminder of comparison and competition constantly buzzing in your pocket?  The Kingdom of Heaven is far more than a cell phone. God’s up to something . . . Be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – November 8-14, 2018

From Adam…

Did you know that life didn’t start when you were born? There was, before you, a beginning.  And there will be an after you, eventually, an ending. When you were born, you joined in what was already happening. Scripture tells us that that Christ was in the beginning, and Christ will be at the ending. The fancy way of saying it is that Christ is the alpha (beginning) and the omega (ending). We are a part of bigger story: the Christ story. We join in the Christ story. That’s why our youth ministry mission statement says that we want to “join in Christ’s transforming work”. The story of Christ is one that is happening right now. What does it mean to join in the story that God has written in Christ? Christ’s story can be summed up in two words: Reconciliation and Revelation.  Christ is in the business of reconciling us to God, to ourselves, and to one another. How is Christ inviting you to be a part of creating, offering, and sharing reconciling peace with yourself, others, and God? Maybe it is accepting a part of yourself you’re embarrassed about? Maybe it is by forgiving someone you’ve been resenting? Maybe it is accepting for the first or the 300th time, God’s never stopping always and forever over the top love for you? What about revelation? Revelation means revealing, uncovering, showing what has been previously hidden. Christ reveals who God is and calls us to do the same. You are called to reveal God. Think about that. When people see you, because of Christ, they could see God. How are you revealing God’s presence and love to the world?  What would that even look like? Have you ever asked God to be revealed through you?
God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – November 1-6, 2018

From Adam…

Will that bridge fall apart?  Does it have integrity? Are you the same person when no one is looking? Do you have integrity?  Integrity both holds together and remains consistent regardless of context. So what does our youth mission statement mean when we talk about being Godly women and men of integrity? It means that our faith doesn’t fall apart at the first sign of doubt, tragedy, or questions. It means that we are so transformed by the Holy Spirit that we are consistently and increasingly ourselves (beloved children of God) and not who society, friends, or even family tell us we need to be. How are you doing with your doubts and questions about God?  How are you doing with the issues of pain and suffering coexisting with a loving God? When’s the last time you brought those questions up with a pastor, Sunday school teacher, or small group leader? What about you and the Holy Spirit? How much time are you spending in prayer? When’s the last time you just sat in the dynamic, wild stillness of God’s love for you? Integrity is not something you just have; it’s something that builds and grows in you. It’s something you grow into as you live this life of faith.  Integrity is a gift God gives as you go deeper in your relationship together. What would it look like if you put yourself in a position to receive that gift?  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – October 25-31, 2018

From Adam…

You ever notice how the Predators jump on the ice when they are subbing in during live play? They sprint off of the bench and onto the ice. You think they ever say to the coach, “Actually, I’d like to just sit here and watch”?  NO. They jump on the ice (faster than you can say God’s up to something . . . be a part of it), because they are passionate about touching their name on the Stanley cup. How often does God call us to do something, and we say, “No, I think I’ll just watch”?  How often do we feel a tug to forgive, but instead we nurse resentment? How often do we feel a pull to offer help, but we walk on by? Or what about moments when we feel like we need to be honest with ourselves, our family, and our friends, but it’s too scary to be vulnerable, so we keep it all inside? Our youth ministry mission statement says that we exist to send youth out.  In the same way the Preds’ coach sends the sub players on the ice, God is calling, sending us to do something here and now.  God is calling us to join in Christ’s continuing ministry in the world, to get on the ice now. Where are you being sent? Your school, your home, your family, your team, etc.  You getting on the ice? God is up to something . . . be a part of it.

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.

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