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Okay - I'm laying it out there.  After a day of being confronted with numerous consequences of sin in one form or another in students' lives and discussing with them the problems so prevalent on the high school campus - drugs, alcohol, sexual confusion and promiscuity, bullying, violence, loneliness, depression, suicide, etc., etc., etc. - I feel this impressed upon my heart (and shared it with some of our students tonight):

High school is hard.  The "culture" of high school can change you.  I've seen so many students enter our ministry in middle school and be "innocent" and full of hope and joy and graduate high school scarred, cynical, and crippled by the bad decisions they've made along the way.  High school can change you...

But is there any hope that WE can change our high school?  Is there hope that instead of the culture around us shaping us we can instead take a stand upon the truth of God's Word and begin to shape, impact, and change the culture around us?

Could teenagers surrendered completely to the Gospel change:

Hatred to Compassion?
Violence to Peace?
Selfishness to Service?
Lust to Purity?
Bullying to Self-Sacrifice?
Racism, Prejudice, and Oppression to Understanding?
Lies and Confusion to Truth?
Loneliness to Love?
Depression to Hope?
Addiction to Freedom?
Death to Life?
Darkness to Light?

Could it happen?  Is there any hope that a handful of teenagers can change a community?  Can God really do something like this?

I know what I believe...  what about you?

- Tim
 
 
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Last Friday was the "Day of Silence" - a day set aside to recognize the bullying/oppression/persecution of anyone who identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual.  I had wanted to write some thoughts on the day since we work with many students who are gay or lesbian or struggling with their sexuality in some way or another, but couldn't find the words to do an entire blog post on it.

Luckily our friends at Dare2Share posted a great article on the Soul Fuel section of their website, and I'd love to pass on the link to you.  You can click right here to check out their thoughts, and I'd love to hear any of your thoughts in a comment on this post!

- Tim
 
 
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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

This morning I talked with our students about problems.  Every teenager goes through different types of problems - the most common ones, in their opinions, were loneliness, peer pressure, relationships with the opposite sex, temptation to use drugs or alcohol, and difficulties at home and/or with their parents.

I brought up that there are two types of problems every human being faces:

- Problems that we CAN do something about.  By changing a habit, behavior, or taking some kind of an action, making a difference is within our ability, albeit with the grace and strength of God to guide us.

- Problems that we can NOT do anything about.  These are problems that, for whatever reason, are out of our control.  Perhaps we are victims of circumstance or environment or maybe we're just stuck in the situation we're in with no "out".

Whatever type of problems we are facing - ones that are inside or outside of our control - the Bible says that God will comfort us in the midst of our storms.  I encouraged our students (and would love to encourage you) to remember that God comforts us in the midst of problems for two reasons:

- To prove Himself as "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort".  To get the glory He deserves as a never-ending source of strength and peace.

- To shape and prepare us for future ministry.  If we are aware of this - that God comforts us in our struggles so that we can comfort others - it makes getting through the valleys much more bearable and even gives us a sense of purpose as we walk through them.

Are there problems in your life you are asking God to help you sort through?  Maybe some of this will help you.  Leave a comment on this post sharing your story or how I could pray for you!
 
 
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I love Easter Sunday.  What a joy it is to celebrate and center ourselves on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This morning I taught middle and high school students on the evidence for and significance of the resurrection.  I opened with this question and statement:

Is Jesus dead?  All of Christianity depends upon this question.  If Jesus is dead, Christianity is dead along with Him.  But if He is alive, then those who follow Him are made alive with Him!

Everything we believe as Christians hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, if Christ is still dead then our faith is futile and we are still dead in our sins.

Here are some questions to consider when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus (thanks to Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill in Seattle):

If Jesus is dead, why did his followers no longer fear death & suffer martyrdom boldly trusting they would rise one day?

If Jesus is dead, why do we not know where he is buried as dozens of “holy men” had enshrined tombs in that day?

If Jesus is dead, how can we explain why the first Christians starting practicing baptism to show death, burial, & resurrection?

If Jesus is dead, how can we explain why early Christians stopped worshiping on the Saturday Sabbath & instead changed to Sunday, the day Jesus rose?

He's alive!

- Tim
 
 
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I've discovered this week that I have a desperate need for margin in my life.  If you read down a couple posts, you'll see that I had the best intentions to write short posts each day reflecting on the cross.  I really did want to do this - I even selected 6 Scripture passages and had basic thoughts laid out for each one.  However, the week completely got away from me and I only ended up getting one post out.

Granted, I know it's not the best season of life right now when it comes to creating "extra space" for reflection, prayer, and private worship.  The new baby, Easter season, and getting ready to head to Austin, Texas for my brother-in-law's wedding has made for a blurry week.  But regardless of how busy life is, I've GOT to make the effort to make time for God and to invest in time alone with Him.

So, here's hoping that over the next few weeks I can find time to breathe, relax for a few minutes, and find some much-needed margin.

How about you?  Are you creating time each day to spend in personal prayer/reflection/study/worship?  If not, do you need to?

- Tim