Adam’s Devotional – January 24-30, 2019

From Adam…

If someone was to look at your life for the past week, what would they say you value?  We reveal what we value, what matters to us, by the way we live. The youth ministry at FPC seeks to be a Christ centered community that values compassion, brokenness, grace, worship, mission, andplay. There is a flow to these values, maybe even a story line. We start with compassion because that’s the way God starts with us.  Compassion happens when we are truly “with” each other, and the One who is an expert at being with is the “with us” God, Emmanuel. Then we go to brokenness.  Spend enough time with anyone long enough, and you’ll eventually see that neither of you are perfect.  We are all broken; we bounce back and forth between arrogance and shame returning again and again to entitlement and ingratitude. It’s pretty easy to get stuck there, but then grace.  Grace won’t leave us alone. Grace says, “I love you anyway.”  Grace says, “You are my beloved, and I am yours.”  Grace says, “I am dying to love you, dying on a cross.” The romantic forgiveness of God’s grace woos us to worship. We say, “I love you too,” in worship.  And in worship, we encounter a God who says, “Love with me and love like me.”  So from worship, we go to mission.  We wake up to what God is up to in the world– God’s radical compassion and God’s pervasive and persistent grace in the midst of brokenness, and we join in. That’s what mission is.  It’s the joining in. It’s the place where God’s action and our action intersect.  Mission is the incarnation and result of God’s grace dancing with our gratitude. And finally, in the midst of it all, we play. We express our joy through playful, authentic, and vulnerable relationships. If someone were to look at your life, would they see these values?  If someone were to look at our church, would they recognize compassion, brokenness, grace, worship, mission, andplayGod’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – January 17-23, 2019

From Adam…

This Sunday is Todd Jones’ last Sunday as the Pastor at First Pres. One quote he returns to again and again is from John Calvin.  Here’s how Todd says it, “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Which comes first, who can say?” When we encounter God, we remember who God is and who we really are.  Think of it like this. Have you ever tried to plug something in when it’s really dark.  You feel around on the wall until you find the wall socket. With the other hand, you find the plug.  You twist and turn it until the prongs line up right. You try several times feeling with the tips of your fingers where the socket holes are, and you hope and pray you don’t get electrocuted.  But if someone turns on the light, even if just for a moment, it’s much easier. That’s kind of how worship is. When we authentically encounter God, we can see clearly who God is and who we are called to be. For second, a moment, or a season our soul is aligned and plugged into the source of light and life, and what really matters to God really matters with us.  That’s what worship is all about. In worship, we anticipate that genuine encounter with God that we might remember who God is and who we are–that we might be reminded what true and solid wisdom is. When’s the last time you did that? When’s the last time you offered yourself up to encounter God in worship? Are you feeling around in the dark to see who you really are?  God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – January 10-16, 2019

From Adam…

Do you ever talk to yourself negatively in a way that you would never talk to anyone else? If we speak with anger, judgment and resentment to others, we can do a whole lot of damage and even destroy entire relationships. Is it crazy to think that when we speak to ourselves with that same kind of resentment, we cause similar damage? The good news is that God never speaks to us that way. God never speaks to us from a place of resentment.  Think about it. When Christ was on the cross, being killed by the Romans at the request of his own tribe, do you remember what he prayed? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even in the moment when Jesus had the greatest cause for judgment, resentment, and disappointment, he chooses grace. That’s why grace is one of the main values of our youth ministry and core to the DNA of our faith. How do you think God feels when we speak to ourselves with ruthless resentment and harsh judgement? Have you ever realized the only other person who hears the way we speak to ourselves is God. What do you think God says in response to our internal verbal abuse? Perhaps if we slow down enough, we can hear God say, I forgive you, for you do not know what it is you are saying. Would the way you speak to yourself change if you remembered God was a part of the conversation?  Would the way you think about yourself change if your received God’s relentless grace? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.  

Adam’s Devotional – December 20-26, 2018

From Adam…

We mourn together. It’s a communal act, but no one can do your grief work for you. No one can cry in your place; you get to do that. Exams are similar.  Everyone in the whole school has to take exams, but no one can take your test for you. DANG IT! Part of the reason that exams are so hard is they remind us that we’re not perfect. It’s nearly impossible to make 100’s on every exam. Perhaps the lie of exams is that we could be perfect. The reality is, even if we get straight A’s, even if we get 100’s on everything, we’re still not perfect.  We still make mistakes, we still compare ourselves with others, we still struggle with shame, and we still wrestle with arrogance. That’s why one of our youth ministry values is brokenness. Because there is no prerequisite, no test we have to pass, no grade we have to get when it comes to God’s love. God wants who we are right now, today . . . not who we will become or who we used to be. God wants who we already are right now. What are the imperfections that stop you from receiving God’s love?  What are the unspoken social tests other people have to pass before you’ll offer God’s love to them? What would it be like if you received and offered love the way Christ offers it to us? God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional – December 13-19, 2018

From Adam…

Exams are the worst! The idea that people assign a numerical grade to your performance is incredibly anxiety inducing to say the least. The word compassion means, suffering together. Exam season is one of those times where we really understand what that means. Everybody is going through the same stress, the same exhaustion, the same suffering. What would it look like for you to adopt a spirit of Christ-like compassion during exams? How can you support those struggling near you? In what ways can you offer Christ to those near you studying at home, cramming in the hallway beforehand, freaking out in the desk next to you, and collapsing from exhaustion afterwards? Christ became human to be with us in our suffering. It would be like parents and other adults in your life going back to high school so they could take exams with you. CRAZY! Christ endured the cross, endured life and death and everything that goes with it to be able to be with us in the midst of it all– to be Emmanuel. Christ offers us genuine compassion and something else . . . hope! This is the promise of Christmas: like it or not, ready or not, believe it or not, Jesus is coming. This Baby is going to be born. Life, hope, faith, love are all coming in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Exam season is upon us, but have hope. It will come to an end, and the results do not define you. The grace, hope, and love of Jesus Christ do. God’s up to something . . . be a part of it.

Adam’s Devotional- April 13-19, 2017

From Adam

The temptation during Holy Week is to skip Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and jump to Easter.  This may also be the great temptation in life as well.  We know about Jesus’ betrayal, and we know about Jesus’ crucifixion, but it can be tempting to jump to resurrection and forget about death.  When we, or people we know, experience painful emotions or experiences, we can be tempted to push those feelings away or try to fix others by saying some version of “everything is going to be okay” or “just count your blessings”.  When you really stop and think about it, it’s a guarantee that those experiencing the first Holy Week felt as though their entire worlds were crashing down upon them.  They may have felt like their greatest nightmare was coming true.  On Holy Saturday (the day between Good Friday and Easter when Jesus is in the tomb) you can bet they were not looking forward to an Easter egg hunt the next day.  The point is, you have to go through Good Friday to get to Easter– you have to go through death to get to resurrection. What is the figurative death in your life that you are avoiding?  What are the painful emotions that you or your friends are dealing with that you are trying to avoid, ignore, or fix?  Matthew’s gospel records these last words of Jesus: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Is there any place in your life where you need to pray that same prayer Jesus prays?  Good Friday reminds us that God is with us, even when we feel God-forsaken.  God’s up to something . . . Be a part of it.

Prayer Partner Breakfast 2016

We had so much fun at our annual Prayer Partner Breakfast! It is one of our favorite events in the youth ministry.  We love being able to gather the adults and youth prayer partners for a time of fellowship and prayer together! Please check out our pictures above to get a little taste of what our morning was like!

Prayer Partner Breakfast 2015

Early December, we held our annual Prayer Partner Breakfast. It was such a special time to have our adults and youth partner together in prayer, not only on this day, but also throughout the year.  Over breakfast, we had a time of fellowship over breakfast and prayer for each other.

Confessions of a Veteran Prayer Partner

Confessions of a Veteran Prayer Partner

Most longstanding adult prayer partners have one thing in common. Mark DeVries approached them with “Hey, I have an interesting idea.” Trish Andrews is one of those veterans. “Mark assured me all he was asking was for me to commit to pray regularly for a youth in our church,” Trish said. “Since I believe wholeheartedly in the power of prayer and had young children at the time that would someday go through the youth program, I said, ‘Yes.'” Trish is now on her fourth prayer partner, which could translate to 24 years of prayer partnership. During that time, she has seen her children reap the benefits of having an adult prayer partner.

One thing that surprised Trish was that it didn’t matter how involved or not involved in church the youth is. If they are on the roster for FPC’s youth program, they get assigned a prayer partner. “My first prayer partner was Candace Clippard,” Trish recalled. “The first time I reached out to her to invite her to the Prayer Partner Breakfast, she informed me she doesn’t even go to our church.” Candace’s uncle, Trish recalled, was the pastor at her church, but she had friends in the FPC youth group and liked to attend. “I didn’t think Candace would come to the breakfast, but she did.” Candace is now an adult, active and involved with our church, and a key participant in Barefoot Republic. Trish admitted, “I didn’t do a lot outside of praying for her, which I still do, and attending the Prayer Partner Banquets, yet I have a special place in my heart for Candice, along with my other partners, due solely to the Prayer Partner Program.” It’s impossible not to care deeply for someone you have prayed for. Lives intersect within this program. For Trish, youth ministry comes full circle as Candace has been involved in the FPC Youth ministry and with her teenage daughter.

“I would say the most challenging thing about the Prayer Partner Program is knowing how to pray for a person you don’t know well,” admitted Trish. “Most teens, mine included, are not that good at opening up to adults, especially ones they don’t know, to share prayer requests.” However, in the absence of specific prayer requests, Trish says she always prays for their faith, the ability to discern God’s will about their God-given purpose in life, spouse, Godly friends, strength to resist peer pressure, and such. There are certain prayers that are universal, and praying them with a certain child in mind benefits both the prayed for and the pray-er. “My daughter was partnered with Drusie Bishop,” she said. “Drusie was wonderful and always greeted Joslyn by name at church, asked about her and let her know she was faithful in praying for her.” Drusie chose Easter as her special time to connect with Joslyn and always called around that time and dropped off an Easter basket for her. Nothing big, just a little something to signify the importance of Easter and an excuse to personally touch base on a yearly basis.

Trish says there is no right or wrong way to be a good prayer partner. The relationship is unique to each pair depending on your stage in life, if you are family friends or have never met, and your individual personality. The bottom line is just add that child/adult to your prayer life. You will be blessed, and they will too. “Anything else you do is just icing on the cake,” said Trish.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Youth X-mas with red stripe for blog

 “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not over come it”- John 1:5

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