Embracing the New

Hi!

It’s been a while since I’ve done or said a thing. Life’s been a blur, but many lessons have been learned through it all.

Contrary to what the title seems to hint at, this post isn’t about the New Year or “Another Chapter”; rather it is about each day. Each day is a new chance at life, at a clean slate, at a different adventure. Sometimes what we want to embrace is the comfortable and norm, but when something is “NEW”, it’s not had all the experience in the world. When you buy a new toy, you probably learn that it can do way more than you thought. Likewise when you wake up to another day, whether rainy or sunshiny, you are given the opportunity to do more than simply be. No two days are created equal. And even better, you can grow and become something beautiful, but only if you try. You don’t know what exactly the day may hold, even if you have plans — they can change.

The challenge with “the new” is that often times, we prefer to not embrace it, but we skirt around it until it’s familiar. Inventions are not made with hesitancy, they are deliberate and purposeful. Our days should be also. God has given us the chance to create our day to be how we like by making each new, fresh, and one-of-a-kind. Will we jump in and embrace the unknown with open arms?

I hope your Thursday has been great! Thanks for stopping by.

See ya next time,

Cassandra J.

Youth Race: Oneness

Issue 2 (Attached to this post is the printable version of Youth Race. Share if you like!)

Beliefs of the Present Day

Q: Trinity or Oneness?

A: The belief of the ‘Trinity’ is based on the idea of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This doctrine began in 200 A.D. and was founded on theology that God, as three separate beings, is one, or 1+1+1 equals 1. Various verses of the Bible have been used to prove this system of beliefs and it is one of the most common forms of present-day Christianity. Oneness means exactly what it appears, one and its history dates back to the beginning of the time. Oneness has been a belief that many groups have adopted or been founded upon; for instance, Judaism, Islam, and Oneness Pentecostalism are practice faiths based on One Deity.

Q: What does “Oneness Pentecostalism” mean?

A: We have already discussed the first term, so let’s start with the second term – “Pentecostalism”—it’s the doctrine of the experience of Pentecost. Originating from the first outpouring of the Holy Ghost – God’s Spirit, the experience of Pentecost dates back to the early church following Jesus’ death. This experience was evidenced by speaking in other tongues by the Church in Acts 2. This would indicate that, when joined with ‘Oneness’, anyone participating in the belief would agree that there is One God and that they have experienced the outpouring of His Spirit.

“Recognizing that God is the only deity that exists is the first step toward obeying him. He is absolute; there is no one who can offer an alternative truth nor assign humankind different instructions.”

―James Mikołajczyk

Diving into One

I am 13 year-old Pastor’s daughter from sunny Southern California and I help my mother in Sunday School every week. Some weeks I teach, some I am just an extra set of hands, but most I am the photographer. So I guess you would say that I know it all and I’m “good to go”. That’s what I thought too – until this morning.

This morning if you would have asked whether I believed the trinity or oneness, I would have answered “Oneness, of course”, however I did not yet understand why. Growing up in a Pentecostal church, I had been taught in One God and that His name is Jesus. I went nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to the church. I attended many “all-night” prayer meetings and participated in several week-long fasts, yet I still lacked a revelation of why I believed what I believed.

As I said earlier, I help my mother in Sunday School, the ages we teach vary from 4-11 so sometimes it is a challenge. My sweet mom, having taught children of all ages for over twenty years, always seems to interest all in attendance with her lessons. Today was no different. Her lesson was on the Godhead – or Oneness. Simple enough and I loved it. Well, I enjoyed it until she came to a verse I had heard many times, yet it never clicked as to what it meant. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Of course, I had nearly memorised this scripture since it was only quoted nearly every week in church. But this morning I began to understand the verse. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” – Jesus, He was the only thing made flesh divinely that “dwelt among us”, but in John 1:1 it said that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So God and the Word were the same thing – not God the Father or Son or Holy Spirit, just God – singular. Jesus, often referred to as “God the Son”, was the flesh image of the Word. So this means God the Father and Son were one. That’s only two though…

Tonight my father preached about what? Oneness. Of course. He used John 4:24 when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well. You know the one that says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Bam! It hit me like a lightning bolt then. God, being a spirit—the Holy Spirit and the Word (John 1:1), was made flesh as Jesus – the Son image (Matt. 3:17). He is One!

Besides, math never allowed for 1+1+1 to equal 1 anyway…

Written by Cassandra Savala

Did you like this issue of Youth Race?

Since we are just on our 2nd issue, we count on our readers to let us know what they like best and what they think that we can do better. Any suggestions? Comments? Concerns? Let us know by emailing us and we’ll see how we can make it the best together. Thank you so much for reading and we pray that you join us again for our next issue. May God Richly Bless You!

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Youth Race: Intro

 

Issue 1 (Attached to this post is the printable version of Youth Race. Share if you like!)

Learn About Youth Race

Q: What is Youth Race?

A: Youth Race is a youth led Christian newsletter for Christian youth. It has no true age limit and its primary goal is to encourage readers around the globe. The cool thing? YOU can get involved in this newsletter wherever you are.

Q: Why should I get involved?

A: Youth Race does not happen on its own; it has various editors and authors from various States.  However, we here at Youth Race have a vision that impacts beyond the United States and reaches worldwide. We acknowledge that this cannot be done without YOUR help – spread the word and, if you have ideas on how to improve or if you have something to say, tell us! Youth Race is for youth by youth, step up to the plate and be a leader in a fast-paced, ever changing race.

Q: How do I get involved?

A: It’s simple. You can send us an email through the ‘contact’ section of the “A Texans Journey” blog or, at the end of this newsletter; you will find an email address specifically designed for Youth Race. Ideas and questions are always welcome.

Q: Can anyone participate?

A: Yes! That is what is so cool about Youth Race. Anyone anywhere can contribute. Send in any verses you’ve been meditating on or that have impacted you recently, share your writing talents, photography (of course we want nice photos – share them), and prayer requests or praise reports. Everything has a place here!

“Christian Youth of America, can you not hear the call of God in this hour? All heaven awaits the moment when you will arise and ACT on behalf of your generation.”

– Andrew Strom

And then He was the author

I sat for days trying to figure out the ending to this grand story that had begun. In a daze, I awoke each morning and went to bed each night. I whispered prayers and uttered praises on bright Sunday mornings and hurriedly slipped out back doors – rushing home to finish my manuscript.

This went on for some time as I could not seem to write the proper close. This one was too romantic, that one too dark, the other seemed to be lacking something, though I knew not what. Why could I not simply finish this tale as I had my others? Countless hours of sleep were lost as I pounded my keyboard, desperately searching for the right words. I knew my deadline was drawing closer and closer, yet no amount of “relaxation” or “meditation” gave me the answer to ending the narrative.

One morning, as I sat on a church pew, half asleep from a night of tossing and turning, I felt a hand grip my heart as the minister spoke out of Hebrews chapter 12. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” I was lost in that beginning phrase. The author and finisher? Could it be that I had been so focussed on finishing my story that I had not allowed Him to finish it?

That morning changed everything. I no longer rushed to leave after Sunday services or skipped midweek Bible Studies to work on my story. I learned that day that, no matter how or if everything turned out how I thought it should, He would be sure to finish my story as it should be done. I slept more and I noticed that I was happier. I could go through the day without crying and didn’t have fog in my head. Nightmares of the looming deadline no longer tortured me. What happened to the deadline you ask? I met it – the night before it was due. It became the greatest account that I had ever written. Simply because I allowed someone else to do the hard work and I only put my name on the top of the page.

Written by Cassandra Savala

A Final Thought

“God cannot write your story for you, only you hold the pen that writes your future. Although, it is your choice, when the Master rests His hand on yours, to yield and let him guide your hand, as He alters your story from broken to beautiful. The image of a nail scarred hand reaching down over your hand and beginning to guide the pen is humbling. The hand putting periods to end things that aren’t right, commas to tell you it’s time to reset, and exclamation marks to leave signs of victories, emotions and the ending of chapters that need closing. This happens as you let the author of humanity set down and show you how to write a beautiful story.”

Written by Anthony Burcham

How did you like the first issue of Youth Race?

Let us know by emailing us and telling us your thoughts – good or bad. We welcome your input and thank you for your prayers for this endevour. May God Richly Bless You!

Youth race

With a Stuffy Nose

Happy Friday Everyone!

Friday, wow! The end of another work week, school week, stress week, happy week, lame wee– you get the point. Anyway, you made it! Congrats.

This week has been a blur; crazy, hectic, bizarre, insane, etc. But at the end of the day it’s been good, especially since it has given me a pretty cool thought (*insert title*).

I was sitting at my desk when I thought about the fact that I could not smell my perfume. Random, I know, but that’s common with me. So – I thought, “why would I wear perfume if I couldn’t smell it? I mean, I don’t truly know if it smells good – why does it matter if I wear it? It’s not making me feel better, doesn’t clear up my stuffy nose.. so what’s the point?”  Well, I know that my perfume smells good when my nose isn’t stuffy, which means it doesn’t change when it is stuffy. My senses may change but that doesn’t change the consistency of how the perfume smells. People around me smell it and say, “mmm, how nice”, whether I SMELL it or not.

Then the thought crossed my mind “we do this with God all the time”. How? Well, we’re doing great, everything’s fine. We have all of our friends and family near by and happy. A great job, awesome church, and we’re making ends meet easily. We don’t have a “stuffy nose” and everything smells GREAT! God smells great because WE are great. Then…the car stops running and you land in the hospital for a few months. Then, to make matters worse, your best friends tell you that God obviously is punishing you, so you need to repent. But you’re sure you haven’t done ANYTHING. But wait! Then your spouse or significant other says, “Curse God and die.” But you can’t. You remember the smell of Greatness even when you can’t smell it.

Or.. maybe it’s not this drastic, maybe it’s just – your best friend moves and you don’t see them all the time, then have half of your youth group or some of your church family backslide and you’re alone, or maybe you just FEEL alone. No amount of prayer seems to make any of this easier – you have a “stuffy nose”. Why pray if it’s not working? Why believe in a God that doesn’t seem to care? Why live your life for him if it’s not helping YOU? Because people are always watching. They see you go through rough patches and notice that, even though it’s hard, you still “smell” good. Spiritually you’re a light because you have stayed close to Him even though you can’t smell or feel or hear a thing. Even when you have a “stuffy nose”.

 

I hope this has encouraged you today. God is always there, even when we don’t think He is. Remember the smells of the good times and keep on the straight and narrow, good times will be back.
Cassandra J.

Rainy Days

This is a post for the random.

I woke up this morning to rain; its soft pitter-patter on the roof simply made me want to grab a book and listen to a story all day. Of course, this is not reality. What is reality? It is random and ever-changing, it is fun and sad, it is lessons and mistakes. Rainy days make everything “dreary”, unless you’re like me…

Rainy days are reflective ones; gentle reminders of how sweet it is to enjoy the little things. The individuality of each drop causes me to recall just how beautiful each human is and this leads to the intense thought that God cares for each one of us. How wonderful it is that we all have different backgrounds, races, and families; not one of us has the same thoughts and no one of us is identical in every way – even if it seems as though we may be sometimes. Every situation, every moment is unique and will never be again. If I set 3 siblings in a room and asked them to recall how they felt when their grandfather passed away or how they knew when they were in love, each response would be different though they would all be describing the same exact thing. Is it not magnificent that the God of the rainy days and individual rain drops created you and I?

Random thought: I wonder if the rain ever gets jealous of the snow because the snow gets to stay on the ground and be admired, but the rain must go away and most don’t like it…

Ever-changing… what a thought. Is it not incredible fun that each day is a new experience? I may be facing many of the same things that I faced yesterday, but today may have a new outcome. It could be the day that I learn how to fly a plane, or write a book, or maybe the day that I meet my best friend. Ever-changing – always different. I could be walking through the same dark tunnel, but somehow there’s a bit more hope than before. Or maybe yesterday was sunny and today rainy – different. One never knows what tomorrow holds, but it’s much nicer travelling with the One who holds tomorrow. [That went kinda deep fast.]

Well, to end this hopefully somewhat interesting monologue I will use a quote from a fantastic source – Dr. Seuss.

“Today was good, Today was fun, Tomorrow is another one.”

– Dr. Seuss

It Unsettled Me

Hello. Welcome to another post; the following poem will be more serious than my usual posts, but I pray that you may find it just as interesting and challenging.

 

It Unsettled Me

She turned her head and I saw her eyes shimmer with tears,

My thoughts raced as I wondered why no one had already spoken to her,

Was she untouchable that One of Us could not reach out,

I smiled at her and told her that I loved her like He did and she broke,

As I walked away, I wondered what would have happened if I did not stop,

It unsettled me.

 

That night I watched as the children played while parents prayed,

Had they forgotten that prayer and God had no age limit,

That death could come at any moment,

Did they fail to recognise that This Moment could be the one to alter their babies life?

My heart broke as I pondered how I could help and the children still seemed to go unnoticed,

It unsettled me.

 

I saw him in the grocery and he offered me a smile,

I thought “how many times has he seen me, yet I failed to notice him?”

He spoke his “Merry Christmas” as I went on my way,

But something made me turn around and that’s when it began again,

His mom had left when he was small – leaving him alone,

He had no place to go – no one to call his own,

Tears filled my eyes as he continued on,

And then he said, “But what I really want is hope… And I don’t think I can.”

It unsettled me.

 

My light had failed so often as I’d walked through the door,

I’d smiled, waved, maybe said a few words,

But he’d never heard me say,

You are loved, He knows you, Never lose your hope,

I hadn’t been the friend he’d needed when he’d needed me the most,

It unsettled me.

 

Now here’s that moral of it all,

No matter how great or small,

We pass so many people each day,

But they need always hear us say,

His love and grace is big enough,

Strong enough for you,

The Best Friend you will ever find,

Is in this Friend of mine – Jesus.

Thinking Backwards

Happy Tuesday to all!

 

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

-Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, 26 October,  I was asked to teach our preteen-teen (5th-11th grade) Sunday School class on 28 October; not thinking too hard about it, I quickly accepted. Note: I love to teach, but I can be MAJORLY tough on myself when I don’t think it turns out like it should, so I often panic prior to the lesson. Since I only had about a day and a half to prepare and had evening plans already, I knew I wouldn’t have much time and that I would be forced to trust God with and through the lesson. Saturday began with prayer and Bible reading and, to be completely honest, I had no clue what I would teach. I had planned to meet with friends about an hour away from where I was and prayed that somehow on my drive God would give me the direction that I needed desperately for the following morning. About an hour before I left the house, I began to feel unsettled – like I hadn’t felt in a while. It grew throughout the day and by the time I made it back to the house that night, I was in a somber mood. And that’s when the verse came to me, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done…” (Isa. 46:10), but unfortunately, that was it. “Thanks God.”

As the night progressed and I played card games, listened to audio dramas, and laughed with my friends, I pondered the verse. Much to my chagrin, I still had NOTHING by the time I laid down at 11:30 that night. However, God had something up His sleeve. I was up until after 1 in the morning Sunday, tossing and turning. All I could think of was the lesson and I kept asking God what he wanted. Bible character’s and stories whizzed through my mind – Joseph, the Apostle Paul, Ananias and Sapphira, and on and on the list went.

“What are you telling me God? What are you saying to me?”

6:30 prayer came quickly and the uneasiness of yesterday was still there. Then, it was time to get ready for church. We packed up in the vehicles and drove to church; all the while I begged that something would come together for me to teach because I simply couldn’t “wing it”. Yes, I’ll admit that I was more than a little scared that I’d look a fool in front of my class. The thirty minute drive flew by and when I pulled up, I had….you guessed it, Nothing – with a capital ‘N’.

Walking into the church, I quickly placed it in His hands and went upstairs to the classroom to “write my notes on the board” – right. What notes? That’s when it hit!

“Thinking Backwards” – the title that would sum everything up.

If God knew the end from the beginning, what did that mean? He saw the finished work. Could we? Did we? Should we? Joseph somehow did, the Apostle Paul did, yet Ananias and Sapphira hadn’t? The difference was life and death. Wow! The questions and answer made me reel. I had to get these kids to realise how important “thinking backwards” truly was. They had to understand what their personal “big picture” and goals were to achieve them in school and college. Was this not “thinking backwards”? Yes, God had done it again. Given me all the supplies in advance, except the glue.

Class went well. We began with sword drills and I shared with the kids how they already were being taught and forced to think backwards. It connected! The room was abuzz with conversations of what the goals were, how to get there, why it mattered that we kept the goal in mind, and how that related to “…the end from the beginning…”. By the time class was over, I was excited, relieved, and so happy at how it had all turned out. When everyone had gone down stairs, I sat – head in hands – allowing the feeling, what I then recognised was a burden, to lift. Thankful that I was able to be used.

The end of the story aka what caused me to write this?

I received texts on Tuesday saying how great the lesson was. One of our other youth class teachers told me that from where she was sitting, she heard two of the young ladies answering every question. Both girls had their heads down as if sleeping, but she said that didn’t make a difference. They had heard and it seemed to hit home with everyone in the room, teachers included.

Now, what about you? Do you think backward? What’s your main goal? How often do you keep it in the forefront of your thoughts and center your life around it?

Hope you enjoyed this!

 

-Cassandra J.

Content Without Conquering

Con·tent (n) – a state of satisfaction

Con·quer (v) – overcome and take control of (a place or people) by use of military force; successfully overcome (a problem or weakness)

These two words are rarely used in a sentence together. Why? Generally because to conquer one must become discontented with life as it is or has been. Sadly, we often get so “satisfied” where God has placed that our fight becomes more unnecessary because “we got this”. Mixing up when to use “Godliness with contentment” and “Shout for God hath given you the city” is sometimes easy to do, especially when you’ve just entered the Promised Land. The children of Israel had some of the same issues, though a bit more serious and if we’re not careful, we can end up mirroring their demise.

Our first story begins in Judges 1, Joshua had died and the Israelite’s suddenly wondered, “Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?” (Judges 1:1) The Lord simply wanted Praise, Judah, to go up. Judah went forth killing and conquering all through chapter 1… but the story doesn’t end in victory after victory.

Imagine with me, you are an Israelite, you have been told of this “land flowing with milk and honey” all your life, you’ve heard about the Canaanites, but they’re our enemies so we don’t really need to be afraid. So it is that when you enter the land of your inheritance, you are happy – finally home! The Amorite’s are alright, they’re not that bad, they even ask you over for dinner and give your kids Christmas presents. You forget God’s commandment to kill them. I mean come on, what could God have against the expensive camels and linens they give you year after year; are these not His blessings? You see your children bring home other god’s and foreign sayings and begin to adopt them into your own life. Assimilated. Then, unexpectedly, they are discontented living with your family next door. You and all your kinsfolk are forced to the mountain, resigned to the fact that you are unwelcome. This is a story of being “Content without Conquering”.

Now, years go by and we are given yet another glimpse of “Content without Conquering” and a staggering prophetic outcome – staggering in the sense that the ramifications become a ripple effect for future generations. The Corinthians once felt as though they had “arrived” in contentment and mercy, yet the great Apostle Paul had a different idea of their coexistence with sin. Come with me as we travel to Corinth and the early church. As a youth, you admired the mercy of God, but as an adult, you strive to honour it. So it is when you discover that one of your close friend’s is living in fornication – with his father’s wife no less. You are content though, no need to cause dissension or raise heat over such an issue. You have grown comfortable knowing that your youth do not spend time at the fornicator’s house. The Apostle Paul, being the founder of your church, writes one day saying, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (I Cor. 5:6) This act of one or two people will become an epidemic within the body. This is the ripple effect of being “Content without Conquering”.

Now my friends, I encourage you to be content, but not to the point of being accustomed to living with the enemy and sin, while not trying to reach out. Conquer you; your flesh – daily. For it should be as Paul said, “…I die daily.” (I Cor. 15:31)

I hope this helped you. God bless!

Cassandra J. Savala

Another Year, Another Challenge

Happy New Year!

Wow. 2018 already? Yes, so let’s take a quick trip over the last year before we launch ourselves into dreams for the future.

2017- a year lost in a blur. This time last year, I was in Missouri, cold, snowy, nice Missouri. There I met kind friends and had great times with fond memories. Then it was on to Illinois in March, with more snow and cold, and rain…..BRRRR! But also, I got to see museums and fun places with the family. Indiana came next with warm days, cool days, rainy days, and sunny days through the months of April and May. From the third week of May, to the first week of August there were very little chill times. Between three graduations, moving from California to Texas, and going to conferences those months were a BLUUUUURRRRR. Job hunting, making new friends and saying goodbye to old friends capped off the year of 2017 as one of the BEST years yet.

2018- a year not yet touched. “A year not yet touched? What? You’ve touched it, we’re three days into it already.” Yeah, yeah, I hear you, however 3 from 365 leaves 362 days yet. We haven’t even scratched the surface, to borrow the colloquialism. So, what will this year be? Better than the last? How much of the time will you redeem? (Eph. 5:16) Will you make your days count? I will. God uses us, but only if we WILL. It depends on us, remember, Jesus had to surrender His Will as a man to His Will as The Lord. Churchgoing doesn’t make one any more of a Christian than going to the library makes you a book.

Remember: Who You Are Is What You Are Behind Closed Doors…But If You Always Keep The Doors Open, You’ll Never Meet That Person.

 

Prayers

Cassandra J

Being Thankful in the Red, White, and Blue

Hi.

In today’s world, there are many pressures and cares to tend to and, in turn, many impatient folks. Believe me, working in the fast-food industry, I know. We live in a “want it now, gotta have it” age, so it’s super hard to be, first off, patient, and second, thankful.

America is such a blessed country; from our freedoms, to our heritage, to our technological advances, we’re “lucky”. The microwave, invented in 1946, is a widespread and popular gadget and it’s expected that everyone have one. Our cellular devices no longer make it impossible to reach someone now, and have the ability at your fingertips. So these gizmos make it hard for us to be patient, and so much more difficult to be thankful. Our Constitution and its surrounding Articles grant us freedom of speech, right to bear arms, and allow us the liberty to choose how we worship, where we worship, and what we worship. It’s great right?! But all these things are “my rights”, so what’s the big deal about thankfulness?

How many of us think of what we have on a daily basis? Weekly? Monthly? Yeah, it’s easy to “forget”, but what about those who have given and continue to give their lives for our “freedom”. You’ve heard it time and again, “Freedom isn’t free”; it’s not. End. Of. Discussion. So how often are we thankful? These men and women, whether fighting in war or staying home and watching a loved one join the Armed Forces and law enforcement, sacrifice time, talent, and treasures for us. Let that sink in.

Time, which no one EVER gets back. Talent, which can be directly related to dreams, yet because of callings, drafts, or pressures, the talent is left for service to our country. And treasures, family, friends, popularity. We say that our military and law enforcement is popular, but when’s the last time you saw one of our own military men or women in uniform and nodded, yet failed to thank them. Or, and I’m guilty, saw a police officer and just said “good day”, and let them walk away without a “thank you”. Yep, there’s that “thank” word again. So, next time you pray or see someone in uniform, think about what they do...for you and yours. And on this November 11th, let’s be thankful for our men and women braving bearing the colours of our nation.

God Bless America.

Cassandra J.