At Pit Stop (middle school youth ministry) we?ve been going through a curriculum based on the movie To Save a Life. I?d highly recommend the movie (for more information about the movie click here). Throughout the series we?ve been working with students to help them see themselves (and their peers) the way God does. Not as loser, dork, ugly, fat, ect. It?s been a great series so far and has really stirred up some meaningful discussion.
I wanted to share with you a powerful story I shared with the students last night. It?s from the To Save a Life curriculum. They got it from the book Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli.??
A young woman named Margaret spent decades battling depression and anxiety that were traced back to a horrible day in school when a teacher, frustrated with her tardiness, made her stand in front of the room and invited all the students to come up to the board and write something bad about her on the chalkboard. The kids were ruthless. They wrote things like “Margaret is ugly!” “Margaret smells,” and “Margaret is stupid.” All twenty-five students went up to the board and wrote these hurtful things. This event inflicted wounds that Margaret found difficult to heal. She battled depression, discouragement, and constant anger. Finally she went to a psychologist for help. She spent two years meeting weekly with the counselor, but finally they reached the end of their sessions.
The counselor said, “Margaret, I know this will be difficult, but just to make sure you’re ready to move on, I am going to ask you to do something. I want to go back to your schoolroom and detail the events of that day. Take your time. Describe each of the children as they approach the blackboard, remember what they wrote and how you felt–do this for all twenty-five students.
In a way, this would be easy for Margaret. For forty years she had remembered every detail. And yet, to go through the nightmare one more time would take every bit of strength she had. After a long silence, she began the painful description. One by one, she described each of the students vividly, as though she had just seen them, stopping periodically to regain her composure, forcing herself to face each of those students one more time.
Finally she was done, and the tears would not stop, could not stop. Margaret cried a long time before she realized someone was whispering her name. “Margaret, Margaret, Margaret.” She looked up to see her counselor staring into her eyes, saying her name over and over again. Margaret stopped crying for moment.??“Margaret, you left out one person.”
“I certainly did not! I have lived with this story for forty years. I know every student by heart.”??“No, Margaret, you did forget someone. See, he’s sitting in the back of the classroom. He’s standing up, walking toward your teacher, Ms. Garner. She is handing him a piece of chalk and he’s taking it. Margaret, he’s taking it! Now he’s walking over to the blackboard and picking up an eraser. He is erasing every one of the sentences the students wrote. They are gone! Margaret, they are gone! Do you recognize him yet? Yes, his name is Jesus. Look, he’s writing new sentences on the board. ‘Margaret is loved. Margaret is beautiful. Margaret is gentle and kind. Margaret is strong. Margaret has great courage.’”
And Margaret began to weep. But very quickly, the weeping turned into a smile, and then into laughter, and then into tears of joy.??(From Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, pp. 55-56)
??What a beautiful picture of what God does for each of us! How has Jesus rewritten your story???
ACC is growing. God is bringing new people to us every week. People who need to hear the truth of the gospel. People who need to experience the love of Christ through His followers.
We know that numerical growth will stop once a room has reached 80% of its capacity. People will not assimilate well into a room that feels too crowded. Especially new people. We have exceeded this “80% rule” at our 10:30AM Sunday service for months now. We are creeping in that direction with the 9AM service as well.
The leadership of ACC is committed to being proactive. We do not want to stifle the growth God is blessing us with. We must make room for more!
Why? Because it is our mission to be a loving community where ordinary people experience the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Without Christ people are lost. They need the grace and forgiveness found only in Christ! It is our job to deliver that message and to provide the community through which they can nurture their faith.
This growth and the subsequent change necessitates that each one of us is flexible, that we never forget our purpose, that we are willing to do whatever it takes to reach more people with the good news of Christ.
These are exciting times to be a part of our church. Pray with me that God will give us wisdom as we step by faith into a great future. Living things naturally grow. Growth equals change. Change that comes with growth is a good thing! I am so anxious to see what God has planned for us!
Tomorrow is the first day of games for our Upward Basketball and Cheerleading program. Players and coaches have been working hard for the past 3 weeks in preparation for this day. Upward provides an environment where each child can excel. It?s non-competitive and seeks to be a ministry as well as a sports program. Players receive equal play time and are matched up with an opponent of relatively equal ability. Our referees are a little more instructional than you?ll see in other leagues, so they take the time to explain their call to the players. We?ve also got a great group of coaches who really care about the holistic growth of their players. All this coupled with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ makes Upward Basketball and Cheerleading a ministry we are proud to support here at ACC. I hope you?ll stop in tomorrow to see a game and grab a bite to eat at our awesome concession stand. Games are played from 9am to 6pm and start on the hour.
“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” – Benjamin Franklin
I can think of many times in my life when I’ve embarrassed myself because of me losing my temper. I’ve had to offer many apologies, especially and most regrettably, to my family. My walk with Christ has been derailed as I vented my anger in inappropriate ways.
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
Anger was once a major player in my life. Not so much anymore. Only because God has changed me. He has helped to not be quite so selfish and immature. He has taught me to not take so many things so serious, to think before I talk, to not be so touchy.
I pray that I have not scarred those I love most. I pray that those I have hurt can forgive me.
Is your anger under control? Are you damaging those around you? May God begin to bring peace and self-discipline and maturity to you.
Last Sunday, our sermon topic was worry. I worry occasionally but do not consider myself an excessive worrier. Still, I was interested in hearing the message, thinking that I?d pick up some good tips to combat worry and be reminded of biblical truths on the subject.
The sermon (and whole service) was excellent, and I started the week feeling confident and ready to take on worry!
Fast forward a few days, and I found myself a victim of worry. On Wednesday, a work-related situation consumed me for about 24 hours. I did everything I knew to do: prayed, claimed Bible verses, reviewed my sermon notes, and sought the counsel of a trusted friend. I still felt much “on edge,” slept fitfully, and gave in to worry.
A few days later, the situation has resolved itself, and thankfully had a good result. However, I?ve been thinking about a few things. First, if the result was NOT the one I wanted, would I still trust God and be at peace? Second, I was reminded of the importance of being teachable. Upon examining my heart, I realize that there was a part of me thinking that I was “above” worry. I was humbled this week, being reminded of the fact that I can give in to worry just as much as anyone.
Finally, as I reflect on this experience, I still would do the same thing the next time I am tempted to worry. Just because I pray, review verses, and talk to someone does not mean that an unsettled feeling will automatically go away. I hope that I will trust in God in increasing measure instead of allowing my mind to race irrationally.
So my attitude for this coming Sunday? I am ready to learn about anger and have a hunch that God will give me a chance to apply what I learn during the week.
Guest blogger: Allison Bies
I just discovered that a hero of mine died last week. He was so humble and self-effacing that he had requested that news of his death not be released until after he was buried. So typical of Richard “Dick” Winters. the late historian Stephen Ambrose chronicled his military career during WW II in his best-selling book Band of Brothers – later made into an award winning HBO mini series.
You can read his obituary here:
I greatly admired him as a leader.
He led by example. He was out front – even when under withering enemy fire. He was courageous beyond my comprehension. He genuinely cared for the men under his charge. He was a man of integrity and high moral character and strong faith. He was humble. When once asked if he was a hero he replied, “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”
Wow. May God raise up men like him in this generation.
??No…I?m not making a joke about the weather. Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy the winter.
I don?t know much about icebergs, but what I do know is that only about 10% of the actual iceberg is visible. The remaining 90% lies beneath the surface of the water. That?s the way a lot of us do life isn?t it? We go through life keeping the real ?me? hidden beneath the surface. We may smile and act like we?ve got it together, but on the inside, we may be struggling like crazy. It?s a risk to open up and let others know what?s really going on in your life…but, let me encourage you that it?s a risk worth taking! When we open up and talk about the things we keep hidden, healing can begin.
Starting this Sunday, Pastor Dave will be spending the next 4 Sundays talking about 4 different emotional problems that can DRAIN your spiritual life. I really hope you?ll join us for this series and that you?ll take the risk to open up to someone about what?s going on in your life.
I recently read of an incident in the life of American naturalist John Muir (1838-1914). John was with a friend deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when a monstrous blizzard hit. While they had a warm and safe cabin in which to find refuge – Muir did something pretty extraordinary. He bundled up, ventured outside, proceeded to find a high peak – and then he found the tallest Douglas fir and climbed to its very top. From this precarious vantage point he hung on for dear life – riding out the storm and experiencing every possible sight, sound, smell and feeling!!!
I love that!
But I fear that I almost always prefer the warm and safe instead of the adventurous, never-to-be-forgotten slice of life. I’m beginning to realize that life is too short to always stay in the cozy chair by the fire! I want do like Muir did – I want to experience life – the full effect of all that God has for me and ACC. That is what I want to be different for me in 2011.