Who is Your Center?

My son really loves football! His football season has recently ended, and he is already looking ahead to next year.

But this post isn’t really about football. Even if you care nothing about football, this is so good and I hope and pray you will read to the end. God has something very special to teach us and it has moved me to tears!

But first, in order to get where we’re going, you need the background. You need to know-

The football part…

My son is the center this year. This is a new position for him so he is spending countless hours practicing, improving, and learning all he can. He’s doing great, not only through my own “mom eyes” but others have commented how well he’s been doing especially given it’s his first time in this position. I’m so proud of his hard work and incredible attitude. He wants to be the best he can be and never gives up!

 

football center

 

I have been learning a lot too. I enjoy football and, over the years, I’ve picked up the basics. After all, it invades and completely takes over my home for at least half the year, every year, for the last 21 years. Add in two teenage boys and their friends and well…I’ve learned a lot about football, the good, the bad, and the smelly.

But I have a new respect for the center as a position, and I am in awe for what God has been teaching me.

It has been fascinating to learn how integral this position is to the team. We tend to know the names of running backs, wide receivers, and everyone knows the name of the quarterback. He is the one we think of as responsible for success or failure.  A lot of responsibility and pressure falls on him and he will get all the glory…or all the blame! But he’s not alone.

Before the quarterback ever touches the ball, it must go through the center’s hands—every single time! If the center doesn’t do his job, the play is dead before it ever had a chance.  It all starts with the center. I have a new respect for him and his position.

Jesus is the Center

Watching practice one night, God took this deeper for me. He spoke to my heart and took my breath away. “I am your center.”

Okay, please go with me here…Yes, Jesus is to be the center of our lives. We sing it, we know it, we pray for it…but what does that really mean?

Jesus must be first.

He is the single most important aspect of absolutely everything—our success or failure, not in a game, but for eternity depends on our acceptance of Him into our life!

The very first step is accepting Him as our Lord and Savior. Without Him, nothing else matters and we are doomed to an eternity of sadness and pain.

 

Is He Lord of your life? If not, please don’t go further without meeting Him. Invite Him into your life and accept His gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Oh, the joy and peace that He brings—don’t wait! Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. I promise you will never, ever regret it!

 

And our transformation doesn’t stop with salvation. In Christ, we are a brand new creation. The old is gone, the new has come…and the new is oh so beautiful!

He must be first!

To grow and mature in Christ, we must surrender our desires and give Jesus His rightful place front and center. He must be first in every way. We must surrender our hearts, thoughts, desires…all that we are to Him, and He will mold us into beautiful reflections of Himself.

He is transforming us, day by day, moment by moment, into glorious new creations when He is first in every way.

Only Jesus is the Center

Jesus is the center…only Jesus. Anything we place above Him is an idol and must be removed from our lives.

Imagine if a football team decided to have 3 centers playing at the same time. The quarterback falls back, yells “Hike,” and three balls come flying at him at once. I doubt he would catch even one much less make a great play!

Just as there can be only one center in football, there is only one center to your life—and it must be Jesus!  Only in Him do we have peace, joy, and victory.

Jesus is your Protection

Once the center hands the ball to the quarterback, he will do everything he can to protect the quarterback. As a massive, strong, often angry player charges ahead intent on squashing the quarterback, the center stands in the way and takes the brunt of the impact. He is focused on protection so the quarterback can fulfill his purpose.

Jesus stands between you and the enemy’s flaming arrows. He surrounds you with His love and fiercely stands guard over you. He has armies of angels with orders to protect.

God has designed you for a very special purpose, He has gifted you to fulfill it, and He is standing guard to protect you from the enemy trying to stop you–now it’s up to you to practice and and work hard to achieve it. You are not alone and He will never leave you. When He is first and you follow His leading, He will bring victory. That’s pretty amazing!

One final thought~

In football, the center will occasionally fail, allowing the quarterback to be sacked. Jesus never fails. Does that mean we will never face hardship? Not at all. This world is still fallen and subject to sin until the day Jesus returns. But, God will use our pain and suffering to grow us into maturity, and His peace is strongest when our struggle is the hardest.

God’s peace is truly beyond understanding when we are facing the worst. I have previously shared about our oldest son’s health struggles and about God’s incredible peace and healing. I know what it is to choose to trust God with the life of my child. I know all too well the depth of surrender when choosing to trust God when there seems to be no earthly hope. I also know the limitless depth of God’s peace in those painful times.

Whatever you are facing right now, whatever your trial, struggle, or hardship–you are not alone. Jesus offers peace, comfort, even joy through the pain–trust Him, make Him center of your life, and watch Him do amazing, miraculous things!

Prayer~

Lord Jesus, be my Center.

Lord, You are first. Reveal every area of my life that is elevated above You and give me the courage and strength to surrender completely to You. You, and only You, are my Lord, Savior, and King.

Direct my life—the direction, the speed, the velocity—every detail of my life happens only because of You. Direct me on a straight, narrow path that pleases You and leads to victory.

Protect me from the approaching enemy who is trying to destroy me. Stand guard in his way and block and deflect his every attempt to hurt me.

Control every moment. Make sure I am standing correctly, fulfilling my purpose, and would You direct my every step.

Above all, Jesus, would You be glorified in my life, and may my every thought, every word, every action bring me closer to You, and bring You glory.

Amen!

 

With love and thanksgiving,

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~*~

I would be honored to pray for you! If you have a need, feel free to share it and know that I will faithfully lift you in prayer. I hope you will join me on facebook or leave me a comment here and let me know how Jesus is working in your life and we can encourage each other as we grow in Him.

Perfect, Extreme, Unconditional Love

The Love of the Lord

You, my sweet friend, are dearly loved. Not as the world loves with conditions and expectations. No, you are loved with a perfect, extreme, and unconditional love that cannot be completely understood or explained with human wisdom.

You were loved before you were created. You were loved by a righteous, perfect God before you were His. You were loved by your Savior before you accepted or even knew Him. In Christ, you are forgiven, righteous, redeemed. You are a child of God, and you are loved.

You can’t make God love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less. With no limits, you are loved!

You are loved on your best days and you are loved on your worst. You are loved when you are faithful and loved when you stray. Obedient or disobedient, honest or deceitful, loving or mean…you are simply loved.

It’s All About God

But we don’t earn God’s love. God is love. It is His nature, His character. It is who He is. And you, His child, are loved–not because of anything you do, not because of who you are, but simply because of who God is and what Christ has already done!

What Should We Do?

How should we respond to God’s love? With love!

As you begin to grasp just how deeply loved and cherished you are, your heart begins to change. The love of God makes us want to love God and love others with the same love He has given us. Our love for God compels us to live righteously, to live a life pleasing and acceptable to Him–and that means loving people the way He loves us!

No matter what you are facing today, no matter what the enemy is trying to destroy, remember how loved you are.

Ask God to reveal His love for you in a fresh, new way today, to breathe life into areas of discouragement and despair. Seek Him today with your whole heart and let His love for you transform you into the image of His love!

~*~

Prayer:

Father, help me remember that I am Yours and I am loved. No matter what difficult situation or trial I am facing, help me live a life pleasing to You full of mercy, love and forgiveness. You are my strength and my refuge; in You, I am safe and I am loved. Help me begin to feel the depth and completeness of Your love for me, and help me then share that love with others. Help me look beyond myself and bring Your light and love to someone in need today. I know I am unworthy and undeserving, yet You love me. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for Jesus. In His name I pray, Amen!

The Love of Jesus

Living Free to Pursue God’s Will

“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and
more, learn to think like Him.  Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.  Then you’ll be able to
live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by
what you want”  (The Message). 1 Peter 4:1-3

Living Free

I want to live free! I want to conquer my sinful habits of selfishness and pride.  I want to put aside foolish, childish thinking and develop mature, steadfast faith that can never be shaken.  How about you?  Freedom sounds pretty amazing, right?

It’s available, it’s right there, almost in grasp.  How do we get it?

We can wish for it…

“I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight…” Do you remember this children’s rhyme? As kids, we would gaze up at the darkening sky, waiting for a glimpse of the first twinkling star.  As soon as it appeared, we would say this rhyme, make a wish, and then wait.  We never waited long though because even in our youth, we knew the star couldn’t give us what we asked.  We were wishing, hoping, waiting for something that we had no real hope of ever attaining–so we laughed and resumed chasing lightning bugs until we had to go inside.

OR…

We can pray for it!

Wishing is NOT the same as praying. Seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, asking Him for help…He already knows what we want and He knows what we need. He wants us to realize our dependence on Him and ask.

God does not want us tyrannized, especially by our own thoughts and selfish desires.

Imagine the biggest, shiniest, most perfect “thing” you’ve ever wanted. For each person the “thing” will be different, but the desire, the longing for it is the same. We want…clothes, shoes, jewelry, happiness, comfort…the list is endless.

But, God knows what we need.

And He knows the best way to give it to us.

Some things are a free gift–mercy, grace, salvation, peace!

Some things we must earn. Earning anything of value requires determination, diligence, a willingness to work toward the goal even in the face of great sacrifice, pain or loss.  It means never giving up until the race is over, the goal reached, the prize won.

Have you ever prayed for patience? What happened? If you’re like me and the many, many others I know who have done so, God answered your prayer by giving a situation in which you needed patience. He made us earn it by learning it!

Maturity, strength, integrity or wisdom…we must earn them. We don’t develop character by enjoying a problem free life of ease and comfort. We learn to grow in the struggle.

When we trust Jesus and follow Him, we grow.

~*~

Comfort leads to complacency, battles lead to strength, and complete trust in Jesus always leads to victory! Trust Jesus!

 

 

Choose Jesus, live free

 

Father, thank You for Your free gifts of grace, love, and salvation. Thank You for Jesus! Lord, where I need to grow and mature in my faith to be like Jesus, would You open my eyes to the opportunities You give me? Would You develop mature faith in me that I would never run from a challenge but rise up and stand on the truths of Your Word. Lord, I ask You to deepen, grow, and sustain my faith in You. I acknowledge that may mean a difficult path, but Lord, nothing means more to me than You. I want to know You more. I want to please You in my choices and my life. Change my heart and my attitude to reflect the love and mercy You have given me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

~*~

Would you like to read more about finding freedom in Christ? My book, 31 Days of Letting Go is a 31-day prayer journey finding freedom in Christ as we let go of idols, strongholds and everything else that holds us back from living a life of victory and freedom in Jesus.

Love and blessings!

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Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

Happy Holidays…

Are you celebrating this holiday season? Do you have special traditions in place to gather with family and celebrate something special? I hope you do! I hope you can reconnect with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while, laugh, celebrate, and enjoy the festivities of this season as well as remember those who are gone.

The holiday season comes once a year and is meant to be a time of joy. It has become a season of trees, lights, gifts and laughter, but every attempt has been made to commercialize, sanitize and equalize it to generic, all-inclusive terms that don’t offend anyone or leave anyone out.

I used to be bothered by the removal of the word “Christmas” because this Holy Day has become a secular holiday.

I wasn’t just bothered for myself. Every “Holy Day” being left out and stuffed under the “Happy Holidays” umbrella was being ignored and being called offensive to someone. I’ve never been bothered by someone else’s celebration or tradition. I just want the freedom and ability to rejoice in my own- the Savior’s birth!

This year, though, is different. Happy Holidays doesn’t bother me. It is simply a worldly expression for worldly traditions. There’s nothing wrong with that except that there is so much more! We’re not saved by a holiday or redeemed by tradition. Life, salvation and joy come from Jesus.

[tweetthis]I am not saved by a holiday or redeemed by tradition. My salvation and my joy come from Jesus! [/tweetthis]

As many are gathering around their Holiday Trees, singing Holiday songs and buying Holiday gifts, I’m reminded of some amazing, life-changing, world-changing things…and I can rejoice!

~The shepherds weren’t concerned with decorations or tradition. They simply dropped everything and found their Savior.

~Joseph wasn’t scurrying around buying presents or hanging lights. He was proudly enjoying the growth of his family because of his Savior.

~Mary wasn’t panicked over the amount of cookies she had to bake or cleaning her house for guests. She simply held and loved her baby Son, her Savior.

~The angels weren’t arguing over the politically correct way to proclaim the Good News to all. They simply lit up the night sky and sang about His goodness.

~Baby Jesus wasn’t afraid. He was becoming one of us so He could save us! 

~*~

That’s Christmas! The beautiful, glorious reminder of a perfect God joining His broken creation to offer a path back to glory.

So, what are you celebrating this time of year? Is it a tradition with trees, lights and music? Happy Holidays! Whatever your tradition, I hope you have a wonderful time with family and enjoy this season of festivities! But please know there is more.

Infinitely, eternally more important, I pray you know the salvation, forgiveness, acceptance and love of the Savior who was born long ago. He left heaven to join His creation and show us the way home.

The Christ, the Savior, the Messiah, has come!

Merry-Christmas

~*~

I have a Christmas tree. There is a wreath on my door and lights around my house. If you wish me a “Happy Holiday” I won’t be offended. I will warmly smile and accept your well wishes for a happy holiday time with a grateful heart.

But please don’t be offended when I respond by wishing you a Happy Holiday and a Merry Christmas.  I enjoy the festivities and celebration, but I rejoice at the birth of my Savior and I pray you know Him too!

~*~

Lord, as we gather and celebrate this time of year with those we love, remind us of the magnitude of Your sacrifice. Help us focus on Your gifts of love, grace, peace and mercy. As so many battle over words and ideas, teach Your followers to love Your Word, Your truth, and to obey Your command to love others. Help us not be offended or drawn into meaningless arguments over meaningless things. Focus our thoughts on eternal things and may we shine Your love onto a hurting, dying world. Thank You Jesus for coming to earth. Thank You Jesus for saving us. May those who don’t yet know You find You this Christmas season. We pray in Your name, Amen!

Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ

July 4th is a day of celebration in America as we remember Independence Day, when we became a free nation under God with liberty and justice for all. It is a day to recognize and remember those who have selflessly and heroically fought and even died protecting for our freedom. It is a day to celebrate freedom.

Any freedom which a government can give, a government can also take away. Thankfully, though, true freedom, our freedom in Christ, is eternal.

Every believer is free in Christ. Every believer is co-heir with Jesus. If you are in Christ, you are free, and your freedom can never be taken away. You didn’t earn it, and none of us deserve it, but Christ gives it freely to each of us.

You have the power of the Holy Spirit in you and the love of Christ Jesus. You are blessed, forgiven, washed clean, and free, completely, truly free. Free from the consequences of sin and death. Free from all condemnation. Free from all guilt and shame~every sin is washed away in the blood of Christ and you are declared righteous and holy!

Enjoy today as a free, redeemed child of God, and give Him glory!

freedom

in His Word: 1 Peter 2

at His feet Daily Prayer~

Lord, thank You for Your love and mercy that makes me free. I thank You for the blood of Jesus that washes me clean and removes all my guilt, shame and stains of sin. Thank You for freeing me from sin and death. Strengthen me to walk in Your truth, empowered by Your Holy Spirit, and overflowing with Your love. Help me remember those still walking in captivity and darkness and shine Your light into their lives. Help me offer the same nonjudgmental love to them as You have given me. Thank You for loving me unconditionally. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~*~

I hope you will leave a comment before you go. I would love to connect with you, and it would be my honor and delight to lift you in prayer.

You can also find Faith to Soar on facebook, twitter, or pinterest, and I hope you will join me in following Jesus wherever He leads!

And, if these prayers have encouraged you, please share them with someone else!

Abundant blessings!

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Daily Prayer~Complete Trust in Jesus

I will follow Jesus

Complete Trust in Jesus

This life is hard; full of painful trials, difficult situations, and all manner of temptation. But dear friend, you are not alone and you are not helpless. You have been given the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God sustains you, strengthens you, and intercedes for you. Stand strong in this day of temptation, armed with truth, faith, and the Sword of the Spirit, God’s mighty, living, and active Word. The battle isn’t over yet, but the war is already won. Stand strong, don’t give up, and trust God with everything you are. He is worthy, and He is with you…trust Him!

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

In His Word: Ephesians 6

at His feet Daily Prayer

Father, I need Your presence and guidance for my life. On my own, I am weak, fearful, and unwise. Thank You for arming me for the battles I am facing, and for those I will face in the days ahead. Thank You for strengthening me with faith that I may stand firm on the truth of Your Word. Guard my mind and focus my thoughts on You that I may base every decision on Your wisdom and truth. Teach me to trust You completely in every way and in every circumstance, and when I am most under attack or tempted to fall, strengthen me to stand. IN the name above all names, JESUS! Amen.

I will follow Jesus

~*~

I would love to pray for you or connect with you. Please leave a comment with a prayer request (or just your name, God knows your need!). It would be my honor and delight to lift you in prayer.

If you enjoy these prayers and are blessed, please share them! You can also find Faith to Soar on facebook, twitter, or pinterest and I hope you will join me online in following Jesus wherever He leads!

Be blessed,

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photo credit: Lapping via photopin (license) (edited)

Trusting God When Life is Hard

Trusting God is a choice, one we must make daily. He is faithful and can be trusted, but it is up to you and me to choose to trust Him.

Give Him whatever is weighing you down, whatever is troubling you, whatever is causing you pain~give it to God today and watch Him create something beautiful out of it. And He will bless you with rest!

“Then the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” (Gen. 31:3)
 Jacob had wronged his brother long ago, and now it was time to “fix” it. He had no idea how his brother would react to seeing him.  He was afraid.  But, he knew God is bigger than fear, stronger than any danger, and he chose to trust God.  He trusted Him with the details enough to obey.
God wants us to have true peace and lasting joy.  Not just on the surface, but deep inside in our innermost heart.  Late at night, when the world is still and quiet, He wants us to rest in complete peace!
And God knows, the only way for lasting, perfect peace—we must deal with our “stuff”.  We can’t cram it down, hide it, ignore it, or run from it.  No, the only way to be truly free is to remove its hold, its power over us, by bringing it into the light and trusting God.
God wants us to live in complete freedom in every way!  Sometimes we need forgiveness. Sometimes we need to forgive.  Sometimes, we need both.  But there is always freedom!
Trust, Obey, Rest…Repeat
 
Is there something (or someone) from your past that needs God’s reconciliation? Forgiveness? Grace? Give it to God and watch Him do the miraculous in you and through you. It won’t be easy.  It might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.  But when we obey God, He will bring healing, freedom, and joy…
Trust God for the miraculous!  Go… right now!
God is always with me
Lord, You direct my path and guide my steps.  
Quiet my thoughts, help me be still in Your presence and hear You.  
Whatever you ask me to do, strengthen me to obey with confidence and joy, 
knowing You are with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
~*~

I would love to hear from you!

For prayer
If you would like prayer for any reason, it would be my joy and delight to lift you to the Father.

For encouragement
I would love to hear from you and know your thoughts on this post.  I am grateful for your encouragement, and I would love to encourage you in any way I can!

For fellowship
I would just love to “meet” you!

 And I pray you are blessed beyond measure!
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photo credit: DCP_1626 via photopin (license) (edited)

Daily Prayer, 6/27/15~The Love of Jesus

The love of Jesus

God’s grace and mercy include an intense love for you. Remember today, whatever you are facing, whatever this day holds, You are cherished and God sings over you. You are not alone, and you are His beloved!

at His feet Daily Prayer~

God, You are love. You love me with an intense, infallible, unconditional, inexplicable, and unstoppable love, so deep You sent Jesus to take my place of punishment so I could be forgiven and reconciled to You. Thank you. Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might love others the way You love me, the way You have called me to do.

Only as I spend time in Your presence can I be transformed to be like You. Give me a hunger for Your Word and a thirst for Your presence. Equip me with a fierce love for others that makes me look, sound, and act like You. When the world looks at me, may they only see Your mercy, grace and Your goodness, and may they be drawn to You through me. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!

Time in His Word: Romans 8:31-39

The Love of Jesus

 

Please like, share or comment. I would love to hear from you!

I pray you are abundantly blessed with the fullness of God!

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The Fulfillment of our Greatest Need–The Mercy of God

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

We all need mercy, each and every one of us. We are all sinners. Even Paul, the great missionary, confessed to being the worst!

When we lose sight of our own need for mercy, we become less merciful to others. Our pride leads to judgmental attitudes and feelings of superiority, and pride always goes before a fall!

Pride is a sin that gives birth to a host of other sins. Only when we remember how broken, unrighteous, and unholy we are can we begin to grasp the depth of our greatest need–God’s mercy.

Only through Jesus can we be redeemed and cleansed. Only in Jesus can we be forgiven. Jesus is love and mercy.

Once we are forgiven, it’s easy to forget that we didn’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, and it’s all to easy to forget how much we needed it…and still need it every moment!

Today, pause to reflect on God’s mercy. Do you have it? Or, do you need it?

If you have it, be grateful and remember to extend it to others in the full measure it has been given to you.

If you need it, today is the perfect day to run to God and get a brand new, fresh start in forgiveness, mercy, and grace!

Lord, I need Your mercy and am thankful for it. Make me a person who offers mercy to others. No one is deserving, but we all are in need. Help me extend mercy just as You have given it to me. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

mercifulmercy

How do We Ignite Faith in the Next Generation and Keep Them From Leaving the Church?

I have seen a number of news stories and articles lately about how the Christian church is losing the younger generation. And I will admit, as a Christian mom to two teenagers, this is alarming!

Young people, even those raised in church, are apparently leaving. Kids, active in their youth group, are growing up, graduating high school, and, as they enter into adulthood, many are leaving the church building behind. They have no desire to attend services or “fellowship” with other church members. They want nothing to do with organized religion, and they have no intention of calling themselves “Christian”.

And we say the church has lost our youth. Have we? Can you lose something that was never truly yours? I can’t help but wonder…

Have we lost them or have we failed them?

Are they leaving Jesus, or just our out-of-date, gossip-filled, judgmental congregations? If our youth have had true encounters with the living, life-changing Jesus, could they really just walk away?

And, if after years of fun-filled youth group events, they haven’t met Jesus, we have a much bigger problem than diminishing membership numbers. We’ve missed the point, we’ve lost their hearts…and they are missing Jesus!

Not all churches are “losing” the next generation. Some churches are actually growing with large groups of college-age, early 20-somethings and beyond. Some believers are actually leading new people to Christ! What is the difference?

The difference is Jesus!

Jesus says,"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, they follow Me."   (John 10:27).

So how do we ensure our youth meet Jesus? How do we keep them active in a Body of believers?

John 10:27 is the key! Believers know the voice of Jesus, know that He loves them, and they follow Him! This is what we must teach the next generation–but first, we have to evaluate our own relationship with God!

Who do We Belong To?

As believers, we belong to Jesus. We have confessed that we believe Him and we trust Him for our salvation.  But do we know His voice? Are we listening?

If we aren’t listening to Jesus, how can we ever hope to teach our kids to hear Him? When our words and actions don’t match, the discrepancy is deafening! If we confess to know Jesus, but don’t trust Him, don’t believe Him, don’t live our faith in every moment, we have no reason to expect our kids would want to join the charade!

Kids who see genuine faith and have met the Risen Lord Jesus don’t leave the Body of Christ. They develop a relationship with Him and begin to grow in their faith.

Have we taught our youth to listen and follow Him?

The Shepherd Knows His Sheep!

He knows every detail, every sin, every thought of our lives…and He loves us with an intense, unconditional love. Our relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship we will ever have. It is one that affects every other relationship in our lives. So, it is worth our time to evaluate how well we know Him!

Prayer is open, direct communication with God. If we neglect to spend time in His presence, sharing our heart and listening for His voice, we miss out on the divine knowledge and wisdom that can be ours. We miss out on His presence!

Believers who have genuine conversation with God, know Him, they know His voice. If we want our youth to know God intimately and follow Him courageously…we must teach them how to pray! Genuine, heartfelt prayer from the innermost secret heart. Not memorized, not automatic, but dialogue with our Creator, Provider, Protector, and Friend.

Sheep Follow Their Shepherd

We can’t lead our children somewhere we aren’t going ourselves. We can’t expect them to follow Jesus, be active members in their church, if we aren’t leading and guiding them by example.

Jesus will lead us on the right path. It will not always be the easy path. In fact, it usually isn’t! But it will always be the best path, the safest path, and the one that brings Him glory!

 ~*~

Finally, if we want to keep younger people involved in church, we must understand what church is…and what it isn’t. And, as always, the real issue, the deeper issue, is a heart issue.

We have to decide, “What is our goal?” What is our hope for the next generation? Do we want church members, or do we want Christ followers? Because those can be two very different things.

If church is the building, the service, the fellowship, then it can be easy to leave. “I don’t like it”, “It’s not for me”, and “I’m not comfortable” become valid reasons to avoid it.

But, if the church is alive, the living, breathing, Body of Christ, … ordinary people striving to live holy lives, honoring Christ, and sharing His love, then through His followers, people meet Jesus and experience His life-changing power, and they are transformed into believers. His power, love, and peace are undeniable and He changes everything!

When Jesus changes you, you know it, you feel it, and you want more of Jesus!

~*~

So, as Christian parents, leaders, youth pastors, as believers who are part of the Body of Christ, it’s time to evaluate…

~ Are we leading our kids to Jesus or just taking them to church?

 ~ Are we teaching our youth to love their youth group, or are we teaching them to love Jesus?

~ Are we taking them to a weekly performance, or are we showing them how to worship?

~ Are we hoping they have fun, or are we discipling them into a growing, passionate relationship with Christ?

~ Have we taught with our words, but failed them with our attitudes and our actions?

~ Are we reaching out to the hurting, the scared, the lost? Are we effectively changing lives and changing the world?

~ Are we Jesus to our world, or have we become an exclusive social club with restrictive rules, “secret handshakes”, and membership guidelines that our kids can’t wait to escape from?

The answers matter!

~*~

As a mom, and as a believer, I want nothing more than to see those I love find Jesus, to know they have discovered their purpose in life, and secured their hope for eternity. There is truly “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth!” (3 John 1:4).

Our family has been incredibly blessed with dedicated youth pastors that have taken the time to invest in our boys. We are part of a life-giving church that exists to bring others to Jesus and is reaching the next generation. Pastors have taken time to get to know our kids and are teaching them how to follow Jesus. And for them I am eternally grateful! At home, and at church, our kids are learning that there is nothing more important than Jesus. And I pray that they will follow Jesus every day of their lives!

I know there are no guarantees. God brings the increase and every person must decide about Jesus for themselves. But, clinging to the Word of God, I pray my kids have a firm foundation and solid understanding of what it means to truly be a Christ follower, a member of the Body of Christ.

I believe there is incredible hope for our youth and for the next generation. I believe God is about to do some incredible, amazing things through them. They have exciting possibilities of being used by God in ways that we, their parents and grandparents could never have even imagined. They can reach around the world in a second. When this generation gets hold of God’s power, they absolutely change the world! The fire and passion in their young hearts is powerful. They are not window shopping. They want genuine, transforming faith in a living Savior.

It’s time the church wakes up and starts acting like the Body of Christ for the sake of the next generation!

I think it is beginning to change. I think lifeless, monotonous, empty traditions are being replaced with meaningful, genuine, life-altering transformation.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with church events and youth groups. There is nothing wrong with fun, laughter, and friends. These are good and important things. We love ours and will continue to be involved. But they can never eclipse the power of God’s Word, the love of Jesus Christ, and the need for salvation.

It’s time for the Body of Christ to stand up, stand out, and stand on the Word of God. We must live boldly as Christ followers. We must believe God’s Word, every word, and be who He has called us to be. It’s time to be real, genuine, humble servants of Christ and let His love, His power, and His glory shine through us!

As believers, we must believe. As followers, we must follow. And as redeemed, we must say so! And leave the results to God.

Jesus Changes Everything!

Follow Jesus, and bring someone with you! Lives depend on it!

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Lord, I want to follow You so closely, there is no room for anything in between! Transform me, strengthen me, and equip me to share Your love with others. Help me never be a stumbling block, but use me to point others to Your Son, Jesus. Those that are leaving the church, grab hold of their hearts, and help them see You, hear You, and know You, in a deep, powerful way that can never be denied. Change their hearts and empower them to change the world for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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I would love to connect with you on facebook or through my website! Please visit www.micheleellison.net  or  www.facebook.com/faithtosoar

I would also love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or leave a prayer request– and I pray you are abundantly blessed in the fullness of Christ!

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This post is linked up at these encouraging blogs: Weekly Linkups including Grace and Truth @A Divine Encounter, Faith and Fellowship @Simple Moments Stick, Christian Fellowship Friday @Holy Splendor, From to House to Home @I Choose Joy

 

photo credit: Sheep High On Blencathra via photopin (license) (edited)