That is what I shared last night with about 2o middle/high school students at The Bridge Student Ministries weekly Club gathering. With the pastor in Canada for a week with a father/son outing I shared a little bit of my story with the kids. One thing I have been struck with over the past few weeks/months is a reminder of the importance of transperancy and a willingness to share. Let me say that by transperancy, I mean a willingness to be vulnerable about your life story and experiences. Many of our kids are experincing hurt, heartache, and pain daily in their lives, so sharing some of my own hurt and struggles throughout life is important. However, the overarching theme was HOPE. We have such a great HOPE in Jesus Christ. Below is an exact copy of the outline I used.
ONCE UPON A TIME… HOPE
J/K this is a story about me, my life and who I am. If you were at church Sunday you heard about the importance of taking off the mask. I actually approached Gabe a few weeks ago to share with you about my life. I know many of you struggle with issues that you don’t want anyone to know about. You are tough and can handle it alone. So I share, not for your sympathy or compassion, but so you can see that we all struggle and hopefully you’ll see the hope. That’s what I want to convey, HOPE.
16-18So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.
15 God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan. 16 God won't put up with rebels; he'll cull them from the pack. 17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. 18 If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath. 19 Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time. 20 He's your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken. 21 The wicked commit slow suicide; they waste their lives hating the good. 22 God pays for each slave's freedom; no one who runs to him loses out.
STRUGGLE OF PERFECTION
28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way
1 Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. 2 Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. 3 Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place. 4 God made everything with a place and purpose; even the wicked are included—but for judgment. 5 God can't stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, he'll put those upstarts in their place. 6 Guilt is banished through love and truth; Fear-of-God deflects evil. 7 When God approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand. 8 Far better to be right and poor than to be wrong and rich. 9 We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.
When you are lonely And it feels like the whole world is falling on you just reach out, just cry out to Jesus Cry to Jesus
1 Light, space, zest— that's God! So, with him on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. 2 When vandal hordes ride down ready to eat me alive, Those bullies and toughs fall flat on their faces. 3 When besieged, I'm calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I'm collected and cool. 4 I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I'll contemplate his beauty; I'll study at his feet.
5 That's the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. 6 God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I'm headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I'm singing God-songs; I'm making music to God. 7-9 Listen, God, I'm calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!" When my heart whispered, "Seek God," my whole being replied, "I'm seeking him!" Don't hide from me now! 9-10 You've always been right there for me; don't turn your back on me now. Don't throw me out, don't abandon me; you've always kept the door open. My father and mother walked out and left me, but God took me in. 11-12 Point me down your highway, God; direct me along a well-lighted street; show my enemies whose side you're on. Don't throw me to the dogs, those liars who are out to get me, filling the air with their threats. 13-14 I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God.