Youth Race: Revisiting Rebirth

Hey there!

So you’ve (hopefully) made it through our last two issues discussing our current times’ fear and the importance of our God-relationship in this period. If not, check them out.

This week’s Youth Race is about “Revisiting Rebirth” — everything from repentance to the first spiritual resurrection, the second being in the rapture. Rebirth is a new beginning of something or someone and is often a term used by Christians when acknowledging the “steps to be saved”. Truthfully, the word “rebirth” does not appear in your Bible, however the concept does appear in phrases like “ye must be born again” (John 3:7) and “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Cor. 5:17). But what does a Spiritual “rebirth” truly mean?

When man was shaped at the beginning of mankind, he was created flawless and with a desire to commune with his Maker — God. According to Genesis 3:8, “they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”, indicating that there was an established timeframe in which Adam and Eve fellowshipped with the Creator. However this relationship was severed when Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit which God had said not to eat. This sin transferred to every natural birth following, starting with Cain and Abel; God knew man would need a rebirth to properly connect with his Maker again. Fast forward to the introduction of Jesus — the Saviour, Creator, King, and Master wrapped in ONE body. This child was flawless, again, from His birth as a natural man. This natural man, however, had no sin at all; He was God. God as man came to redeem mankind and give the opportunity for rebirth so we might commune with Him again. His birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection are recorded in four gospels, but His story is still yet to be finished. He left a pattern for us to follow as we can become His children.

This is where “Rebirth” comes in. You and I, without rebirth, have NO HOPE of a relationship with the King of Kings and, ultimately, NO HOPE of an eternity in Heaven. The pattern He left for us allows us the chance to be free from sin and reconnect with the One who created humanity. How? Well…let’s break down His plan and we’ll see.

First Birth — our natural birth, we are “…shaped in iniquity…” (Psalm 51:5), creating a breach between us and God

Life — in which we begin to realise our need for a Saviour as life can be rotten

Death — the time when we die out to self in repentance to a loving, merciful God

Burial — water baptism in Jesus’ name

Resurrection — the in-filling of the Holy Ghost evidenced in the speaking of other tongues

Ok great. Explain those death, burial and resurrection parts again?

A death to the flesh must come in order for us to be in a place to be refilled. A cleaning of the heart must happen before God can fill and one can be born again. This is done by repenting of, or turning from, your sins. Thankfully, there are no sins too great for our God to forgive prior to coming to the cross as a sinner. Don’t believe me? Check out 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and see if your sin falls under any of those mentioned, then see verse 11 and notice it says, “And such were some of you, but ye are sanctified…”. How? “In the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God”. The spirit of God = the Holy Ghost. Your sin isn’t too big, God’s spirit has all power to forgive and restore. So, after you repent and surrender to the Master, leaving your wicked ways behind and giving your will to Him, you must be baptised and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

 

The burial — baptism and being filled with His Spirit. Baptism is done by complete submersion in water, but it must be done in Jesus’ name (established in Acts 2:38, practised in Acts 19:5). To be submerged means to be completely covered, generally in water (Oxford Dictionary). It is imperative that one is submerged in Jesus’ name, contrary to the beliefs of many who baptise in “the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. This baptism, in Jesus’ name, symbolises burial with Christ into his death (Romans 6:3). Without this form of burial, we have no chance of spiritual resurrection unto life.

The in-filling of the Holy Ghost — the first resurrection. What is the Holy Ghost? The Holy Ghost is God’s spirit as the comforter, fire, and life. This is the first resurrection as it begins new life, or a rebirth of the spirit. Often times, after repentance and receiving the Holy Ghost, people will feel “lighter” as the weight of their sin lifts a little when they turn to God. Baptism seals this feeling when the sinner is washed and able to feel clean, not simply lighter, by the application of Jesus’ name in water burial and the joint spirit resurrection by the Holy Ghost. The in-filling of the Holy Ghost is evidenced by speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:4 & 11, 10:46, 19:6) …which can be confusing if the one receiving is not familiar with any other languages and you are a newcomer. Speaking in other tongues is commonly referred to either as a heavenly language or an unknown tongue. This is a God given tongue that will flow when one has emptied themselves of sin and yielded to the Spirit. It is not understood, nor can it be translated, by an earthly man or woman, but only interpreted under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost itself.

 

These three primary elements to initial salvation are not all that it takes to be/stay saved, but without these “steps” man has no hope.

 

What about you? Have you repented, been Baptised in Jesus’ Name, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost?

 

I hope you have enjoyed this short article. Please drop a comment below to let me know if you would like to continue revisiting essential topics related to living for God.

 

-Cassandra J.

Youth Race: Revisiting Relationships

Hello!

Over the coming weeks and months, each issue will be revisiting various essential ingredients to sticking through the tough seasons with God. Our last issue had to do with this present world and the revisitation that should be happening in our Christian faith during this time. In case you didn’t get to read it and don’t feel like switching over to read it now, I have added some bullet points below for your convenience.

We discussed:

  • We are challenged to find deeper relationships with God alone
  • We have The Shepherd that the world does not have
  • God constantly reminds us during in His Word not to fear
  • He sends the Comforter — the Holy Ghost — to be with us forever
  • We are able to cast our cares upon Him
  • Be ready at any time to be used

This issue is going to delve into Relationships — with God and man — since it is vital that we understand how both play into our Salvation and communicating with The Great Shepherd.

Earthly relationships are often said to be 50/50, yet if you ask any couple that have been married for 25+ years, a majority of them will say it is not “50/50” but rather “100/100”. I believe the Bible sets this standard in Ephesians 5 when wives and husbands are both confronted with the Godly roles they are chosen to play. (Mind you, the chapter begins with introducing a strong walk with God, something we will study shortly.) In verse 21 of chapter 5, the Apostle Paul encourages us to submit ourselves one to another, but he goes a step further and instructs “wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands” — this is hard to do 50/50. Submission is surrendering to a higher power; whether it be God, your Pastor, or your school teachers. Hard to surrender only 50%. However, the men, or husbands are in no way “off the hook”. Verse 25 specifically says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” I’ve never heard of someone laying down their life as a 50% sacrifice for the other person(s). Giving yourself to something or someone is a complete relinquishing of rights and freedoms — willingly. What does this have to do with youth and God-relationships?

As young people, we often look for that special person to “complete our lives” and rightly so, these are God-given desires. However, if our Godly relationship does not demonstrate a yielding and obedience of our will to His, our earthly relationships, specifically marriage, will never be what it could be. As stated in the last paragraph, Ephesians 5 starts by establishing that we have a walk with The Lord as “followers of God, as dear children”. (Eph. 5:1) Verses 1-20 clearly relate to the spiritual, God relationship we have prior to granting a spiritual view of earthly matrimonial relationships. Ephesians 5:2 actually tells us to “walk in love” just like Christ and, like in verse 25 about husbands, gives us the example of His offering and sacrifice. Through verses 3-5, we are presented with actions and characteristics that displease God and verse 6 informs us that because of these things, God’s wrath will be poured of upon those who do not obey His Word. Pretty sure none of us want to be a part of that group, right? So what’s our relationship with God supposed to look like? We have no fellowship with the works of darkness (v. 11-12), walk circum-what-ly? — carefully, redeeming the time, understanding God’s will (v. 15-17), and finally we should be “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”. (Eph. 5:20)

 

“I get that, but what do I do?” When you go for a walk, you are making movements and when you cease making movements, you are no longer walking. If you follow someone somewhere, your pace must match theirs and you may not lag too far behind, or you may be left behind with no vision of where to go. In the same manner, our walk with God must be daily plodding forward and our following him must be closer as the days are darker. Jude 20-21 coupled with Romans 12:1 is the perfect recipe for our Godly relationship.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  (Jude 20-21)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

 

The old Sunday School song said it best,

”Read you Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”

 

That’s all? No, but this is the basis on which we must build our relationship.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this read. Keep on the firing line.

 

-Cassandra J.

Youth Race: Revisited

Good Morning!

I realise that it has been many months since I have posted anything related to Youth Race, but I feel it is more needed now than ever before.

I titled this issue “Revisited” for a reason more than simply because I am revisiting what begun last year. “Revisited” means to come back or visit again, to consider again or from a different perspective. This word, or idea, will be used in a various ways in the coming issues.

In this crazy COVID-19 day, many of us are recognising that so few things are sure and certain. We are beginning to value each other and our surroundings more than ever. The fear and worry of the day has influenced every part of our culture — down to our churches, though not in the manner you are probably thinking.

Our lives have been governed by time frames and schedules, technologies and medicines, comfort and tranquility for so long that we have become complacent to our very real condition. So now we find that many of our best Pastors, Bishops, and nationwide leaders are calling for closer, deeper connections to God. A revisiting of the former things is required to survive because faith, trust, peace, and joy are no longer commodities as they once were. Today, Christians around the world are anxious, nervous, and in panic. While these are all human reactions, we have hold of something the world does not — The Shepherd.

In His Word, we find over and over where He speaks into frightful situations and challenges those in the midst of them to ”be not afraid” or “fear not”. David said, “The LORD is my Shepherd…” (Psalm 23:1). Jesus promised that He would would “pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). In Matthew 28:20, Jesus vowed again that He was with us always. These are verses that we get the privilege of holding close in the dark days of the end times. We even have the ability to cast our every care upon Him, and have the assurance that He does indeed care for us (1 Peter 5:7). Yet all of these certainties can be easy to lose sight of when we look around to see gloom alone. This is when revisiting needs to begin.

“Revisiting? How?” Do you remember when you could go to every church service with everyone there and be as close as you wanted? Do you recall that Sister that would always dance in the Holy Ghost or that Brother whose groaning was boisterous that you felt it deep within yourself when he interceded? These things must be revisited — alone. The early church prayed for boldness in crazy times, but they were people too. They didn’t accept the great Apostle Paul for that very reason, still he became one of the most influential men in Pentecostal heritage. Our idolised Apostle even “despaired even of life” (II Cor. 1:8), yet he challenged us in Philippians to “Rejoice in the Lord alway” (Phil. 4:4). He goes on to encourage us to pray and make supplications with thanksgiving so that the peace of God “which passeth all understanding” would be fulfilled in our lives (Phil 4:6-7).

Revisiting may seem difficult right now because we no longer have our spiritual safety blankets around — or those Brothers and Sisters that seemingly always are in tune. It is time to challenge ourselves to be ready “in season, and out of season” (II Tim. 4:2). Jesus will come back soon, will you be ready?

I hope this helped you. God is Great always.

Cassandra J.

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.