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When we launched Generation514, just over a year ago, we were jumping into the deep end of why students are walking away from church and faith.  

After praying our guts out we set up brainstorming groups, interviewed students, youth culture experts and youth workers around the world - from all of that we landed on a few initiatives (The Amazing Next Conference, Teaching Curriculum, A Gap Year Program, and more recently - Parenting Seminars, and a Generation514 Retreat - you can read more about all of that that here.)

Last October we gathered a group of thinkers, futurists, theologians, and writers and began the process of putting together teaching curriculum for youth groups around the world.  See, we all know that students are living in a very complex world and our teaching must rise to the occasion and help guide them through the maze of culture's complexities, to engage students in a new and deeper way.  

Well, so far we have put out a three months worth of teaching - each topic actually contains 5 full lessons - take a look at the different topics here.  

I'm super excited at the fact that this third one just came out - it is called, A Dismissed Faith.  It is our attempt for youth workers to have real authentic conversations with students about why many walk away from church and faith, but why the faith is worthy of giving your life to.  We couldn't be more excited about this super relevant topic!

If you have any questions about the teachings or about our conferences, please let us know by email us at info@generation514.com

 
 
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Tomorrow we are driving our daughter and dropping her off at Lee University for her freshmen year of college.  Honestly, when I think about it, I'm a bit emotional (some of you who know me are thinking, "no duh Brock").  Man, we love that girl but it's a kind of love I never knew existed until she was born (parents, you know what I'm talking about).  But I remember 19 years ago when I became a father -> I had no earthly idea what to do... no seriously, not a clue!  You'd think I would know because I had wonderful parents -  but for whatever reason, when the doctor looked at Kelsey and I and said we could leave the hospital and take our newborn baby girl home, I immediately thought, "Oh #@#%!  I. Do. Not. Know. What. I'm. Doing.!!!"  But we put that little girl in the car seat and on the way home a peace-filled thought came over me. See, I had never been a dad before, but I had been a youth pastor for quite a few years.  And this thought came to my mind, "I could just be a youth pastor at home."

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I mean think about it -  what do good youth pastors do?  They plan activities that cause the group to grow closer to each other?  They listen carefully.  The pray and dream and strategize and implement.  They create environments where everyone can experience God's warmth.  They plan retreats and missions that causes the group to become aware of God's overwhelming presence and for their heads and hearts to be lifted towards the needs of others.  This was a revelation to me, and so I drove the rest of that drive home with a sense of purpose and peace, knowing what the plan was: I'd be a youth pastor at home. 

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Now being a youth pastor at home is no easy task.  Sometimes you just want to come home and let your hair down - just veg and do absolutely nothing except eat potato chips and watch Sports Center.  So one day I asked my father how he was able to come home after really long and hard days at work and give so much to us as a family - and honestly, he was a remarkable father!  He told me that he would pull the car over on the side of the road before coming home and just pray that God would empower him to love his family well, to speak his words, and to be his touch.  For me this was again, revolutionary, even though I had done this as a youth pastor.  Before I spoke or before youth group, I would pray that God's spirit would animate me and would use me to be his voice and his listening ear to the students around me.  Why didn't I think to do this at home?  So that's what I started doing: preparing my heart, mind, and soul to come home empowered by God to love my family well.

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I think back on these years of being a dad and a youth pastor at home - it really has been my greatest joy!  And I think about each day living on purpose, coming home and being God's hands and feet to my wife and daughter - it has been the greatest challenge of my life and probably the biggest tool God has used in his sanctifying work in me. Because I know me, this stuff just doesn't come natural for me - but God...  Isn't that a great phrase in the Bible? But God.   There will always be circumstances, situations, or people who trip us up and make us grouchy, but God shows up and works, intervenes and transforms our lives, so that we are salt and light in spite of ourselves.  Even at home.  Wow, his grace and his calling has been amazing!  

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Tonight we are having another ceremony for our daughter.  We've done these rights of passage moments throughout Dancin's life and so tonight will be another one.  A ceremony of blessing and sending and I can't wait!  See, she's ready to be commissioned - she's ready to be sent.  I've watched her closely and I see who she has become and while it's difficult to send her out - God has prepared her for this day!  Honestly, as a youth pastor I never knew how difficult this day was for parents.  I always knew it was hard for me to say goodbye to our graduates, but for a parent, it's a deeper and more profound experience.  Yesterday my wife and I were finishing up planning for this ceremony and we both just started crying.  We know full well that these years of have led to this point.  Now, it's not like parenting is ending - I gather from my parents that parenting adult children is actually much more difficult.  Sending her out and letting go isn't easy but, again, she's just so ready.  We believe in her.  We believe that she's ready to lead and lend a hand in bringing change to this world.  We believe that God's hand is upon her and his favor is with her.  We believe she's ready for hard and difficult times, ready for good times, and for anything that life throws at her because God has invested so much into her.  The cool thing that I've discovered is that God believes in her as well.  He has faith, in her.

So I apologize for the sappy family emotional stuff in this post but I really wanted to remind you that as a parent or a future parent, you play an amazing role and God is and is going to use you in mighty ways.  Just don't forget who you are - you are a shepherd, a priest, and a youth pastor at home.  

 
 
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In recent years I've become really interested in the idea of the signet ring.  In fact, this summer I finally got one that I wear everywhere I go.  There is actually an amazing narrative around the concept of the signet ring that has become a huge theme in my life.  So bear with me as I kind of give some background and historical context, then we'll end in Ephesians.  

In Haggai 2:23 it says, “‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.’” As I read this a while back I wondered what God really meant when He said Zerubbabel was His signet ring?

As many of us know, ancient kings used signet rings to demonstrate authority and honor.  A signet contained a symbol unique to a particular king and they would seal official documents with soft wax impressed with the king’s signet, kept on a ring on his finger. Such a seal certified the document as genuine and carrying the full weight of the office of the king. In 1 Kings 21:8, the evil Queen Jezebel took King Ahab’s signet ring and “wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal.” The ring’s stamp gave her letters the king’s full authority. Its talked about differently in Daniel 6:17 and we also see this in Genesis 41:41-43 and Esther 8:8 and in other places.

Now back to Haggai.  It's important to understand who Zerubbabel is. He is the governor of the rebuilt Jerusalem and is himself of royal blood, being a descendant of David and the grandson of Judah’s King Jehoiachin. Years earlier, Jehoiachin had lost his throne when he was deported to Babylon.  See, God pictured Jehoiachin as a signet ring being removed from God’s finger (Jeremiah 22:24). Now, God calls Zerubbabel the “signet ring,” but this time it won’t be taken off and removed.

Stay with me.
In Haggai’s prophecy, God is giving Zerubbabel a vision for how God see's him.  This gives Zerubbabel encouragement and hope.  As God’s signet ring, Zerubbabel is given a place of honor and authority. God is reinstating the Davidic line and renewing His covenant with David. Judah still has a future as they look forward to the coming Son of David, the Messiah, who would one day “overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms” (Haggai 2:22).

Now, take a look at Ephesians in the Message (Man I love that Eugene Peterson!)
Ephesians 1:3-14 (MSG)   (dont skim this, its really good)
3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.


It is amazing to me how the Scriptures never get old, stale, and boring (well, most of the time). But I'm always seeing new stuff in there.  And today this passage just screams out to me, and hopefully to you. 
Here it is: 
You are God's signet.  
You have his authority, his blessing, his favor  -and  he's honoring, empowering, and animating you by his indwelling Spirit.  So cool!  

I pray that we walk in this and we pass this on to the students we serve!  

So tomorrow morning when you wake up, don't just go through the motions, don't forget who you are.   You carry his signet.  You walk with the full weight of the office behind you!  God is with you and he is so proud of you, no matter how you feel.

Benediction:
May we walk in the reality of what God has really done in us.  That the good news is better news than we ever dreamed of.  I pray that we would live with this new revelation knowing that God picked us for the amazing task of representing him and the crazy thing is, is that he thinks we can actually do it! And may those we minister to come to fully understand who they really are.  That they have been chosen by God himself to do spectacular things in this world - and may we all walk in the reality that his favor is on us.  Amen!

 
 
I saw this video today and it really stirred up some unexpected emotions in me.  There is the whole, what it means to be a black man in this culture - which as a white male challenges me and fills me with humble respect - and then there's the whole thoughtfulness to what this leader does in the training of black boys and black men.  Take a look - what an amazing gift to have leaders like this speaking into the lives of boys and their fathers.  How are we as youth workers preparing our youth and their parents to navigate a very difficult cultural terrain?
 
 
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It is still so amazing to us that we started this journey about a year ago, and now we are just 57 days away from experiencing what we've been dreaming about and praying for.  
On September 23, hundreds of teenagers will come together for the very first ever, Amazing Next Conference - and we just can't wait!  

This whole thing really began with some of us asking a few questions like, 
How can we be a part of seeing students today thrive in their faith rather than just slowly check-out, fizzle-out and drift-away from faith and church?  Is there a way to show students an intellectual faith that is big and broad, but also deeply spiritual and one that brings light to darkness?  Could we show students that God has initiated a movement that calls us to join Him in bringing goodness to the world?

This led us to develop a few things - one of which is a re-imagined conference that has a youth worker track, a student track, a years worth of follow-up curriculum, as well as strategies that we are praying will lead to a new thing in our nation - and it all begins in Oklahoma City, moves upward to Boston, and then around the nation - city by city.  Yes, we know, it's a bit audacious (actually, really audacious), but we like that and we are just giddy about maybe playing a small role in seeing this generation take their place in God's movement here on earth.

So, please be in prayer as we and our partners get ready in these last few weeks before the conference - there still is so much to be done.  If you live anywhere near Oklahoma City, register your group (spots are already going quickly), and then, if you are at all interested in bringing the conference to your region, please let us know.  We'd love to hear from you! 

Click here to email us.  

 
 
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I am a part of some youth worker Facebook groups and recently I've been seeing quite a few youth pastors doing polls and surveys at youth group to gage what is working, what isn't, etc... When I started seeing this, it concerned me a bit and so I had and try and think through why it was bugging me.  So I just want to try and give something useful here and to think through this a bit with you.

We lived in the Los Angeles area for years.  One of the very cool benefits and perks of living there was getting to see pre-released movies for free - it was absolutely incredible!  The only catch was that after the movie, you would have to answer some questions so that the movie company could poll early feedback and possibly make changes before the movies release.  They would ask you questions around the characters, the music, the plot line, how the story made us feel, what was funny, what moved us, etc... The curious thing that I noticed was that answering those questions would put me in a kind of a critical mode - like I know anything about making movies, ya know? - but I would judge something that I really had no stake in and each time I'd answer their questions, I wondered if they'd actually listen to any of my uninformed and rather ignorant opinions. Occasionally I'd go back to see the movie when it was released to see if they made any of the changes I'd suggested, and just as I suspected, they never listen to a single idea I gave. =) How dare they!

When I see polls being conducted at church or at a youth ministry it immediately reminds me of the entertainment industry.  I've even heard churches call parishioners, patrons, call church members, clients, and view them not as fellow laborers, but as consumers.  This business/entertainment mindset that the church has is one of the reasons churches are losing people today. Why?  Because the shopper has found a better product.  

This whole philosophy of many churches really sticks in my craw - it bothers me - and I believe it should - which is why I've argued for us to move away from youth ministry to youth IN ministry.  Where the student doesn't just attend and watch us on stage, but are leading, contributing, using their gifts, and where they have a full stake and role in the movement. [Side-note: Most youth groups have moved to the "come and watch" model - and why I believe is one of the reasons why 70% of students, by the time they finish 10th grade leave youth group/church - they are tired of sitting, listening, and watching - they actually want to do something.  Along these lines, try going to your student's schools - students are running the place - using their gifts - they are the stars on the field, on the stage, in the band, behind the sound board, etc... They have a major role at school...]  

Surveys: Motivation is Key
Now I realize that this isn't completely fair, nor is it the full story.  There are good reasons to conduct a survey - like maybe around what students believe and how they might shape what topics we cover in our teaching.  Although, I've always used a different method than surveys to gather that information.  There are good reason to maybe conduct one - motivation is key.  But when a survey is around enjoyment or any kind or "does this entertain you," "will this make you come more," "how can we get you to invite your friends," "do you like the youth leader?" then I believe we are heading down the wrong path.  WARNING: I've seen these surveys used to get rid of youth staff.  

About two years ago I was talking with a fellow youth worker whose Executive Pastor had asked her to conduct a survey at youth group.  He made up the questions and handed them to her to pass out and have the students fill them out.  Some of the questions were quite loaded - really setting up the students to think and write very negative things. This student pastor walked away from that experience demoralized and shortly after was asked to step down from her position.  The crazy thing was that the students absolutely loved her - loved youth group - the youth group was actually growing, but these loaded questions gave the executive pastor the ammunition he had desired the whole time - a reason to get rid of her.  

I would just say, please be careful.  Don't contribute to the entertainment/business model of church.  Remember that the students who are at youth group are your teammates.  Do whatever you can to get them on the playing field and out of the stands.  If a survey will help you do that, then wonderful.  Otherwise, please be careful.  I realize there's much more to be said here, and maybe I'll do that in a future post - but here are my quick two-cents.

 
 
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In college I was on a debate team for a couple of years.  The enlightening thing about debate is that it humbles you - you discover very quickly that there are legitimate arguments on both sides of the debate.  You discover that most of life, and most issues, are not black and white, cut and dry.  There really are two sides to every story.  The choice, then, is which side will you argue from, if you decide to argue at all. 

In youth ministry one of our major goals is to help kids learn how to think, not spoon feed them what to think from a particular theological, political, and philosophical viewpoint.  We get the privilege of showing them how big and wide and generous orthodoxy really is.  We reveal that there are many legitimate perspectives and a humble posture in life is super key.   Though all things are not equal, there is room for them and their voice in the faith.  But this is a very messy way to do Church and it gets really difficult, especially when cultural issues come booming onto the main stream.  Our students, and their leaders, have to try and navigate a very divided world.  Our world isn't very good at seeing the other side.  Heck, neither are our churches.  But it is critical that we help our students exercise that muscle - learning how to spot truth wherever they see it.

But then there are times when a side actually does need to be HUMBLY chosen.   A good example of this is the Black Lives Matter movement.  A friend of mine posted on Facebook how she felt that this movement wasn't a legitimate movement and how it's grounded in false assumptions.  She stated a study that showed how only 31% of people killed by police officers are black.  That there really isn't a racial problem, since more white people are killed by police officers (around 49% of the police killings).  She made an argument, an argument that had compassion and understanding for the police officers.  

Now, I need to hear her, I do need to have compassion for the police officers - to understand that they are desperately trying to get home safely to their families everyday.  I totally get that.  But I also need to understand that she left out the other side of the coin - the fact that black people only make up 13% of the population while white people remain the majority at around 62% of the population - and she didn't mention the harassment that many blacks experience by cops on a daily basis that leads to their running from or not complying with the police.  There is an entire segment of our population that feel powerless, alone, marginalized, abused, and defenseless.  See, what we have here are two sides of a story.  It's a very divisive topic - just bring it up and see what happens - or... 
maybe you shouldn't =)  By the way, there are plenty of people who have done the math, so don't just listen to what I say.

As I've tried to navigate through some of the hot button issues in the world today and help our students see both sides of so many of these things (including theology and religion), I've been challenged personally in immense ways.  So what is true?  What side should I argue from or should I argue at all?  What's my responsibility?  Where do I stand?  What am I modeling to our very diverse youth group?

For me, I try to always look to Jesus.  He always seems to be on the side of the weak, vulnerable, and the outcast.  Oh, he could have argued from the side of the religious.  They had a legitimate side.  They were trying to keep God's people holy.  They longed for the Messiah to come - to free them from oppression.  Jesus wants his people holy and free  and he could have easily argued from their side of the coin - it would have made sense for him to.  But he didn't.  He chose a different way.  He chose a more encompassing and whole way.

When I'm in doubt, I choose Jesus.  As youth workers in a very complex and toxic world, we must show kids the heart of Jesus.  
Which is:
Humble
Loving
Full of Hope
Joy filled
Peaceful
Patient

its slow to speak, quick to Listen
its Kind
very Good
full of Faith
and its laced in Self-control


That is some good stuff, but it's difficult and it requires guts.  Guts not to create more division.  Guts to choose love instead of hate.  Guts to choose to listen rather than to speak.  Guts to choose hope instead of fear.  Guts to be a peace maker - to stand and see the whole and to be a part of what God is longing to see happen - bringing heaven to the whole of the earth.  

These are not easy times for sure - So, may our lives be marked by prayer and communion with God and may his Spirit animate us to be his perspective to a world that is dying for a better way.  And may our students join this movement of Jesus with us.  May those who feel unheard be heard.  May those who feel powerless, may we rise up to support and join them. May we be light in very dark days!

 
 
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On the last day of camp this year we did a really cool thing.  After all of the students went home, we gathered as a team of adult leaders and shared what we saw God doing over the past week.  Now, I have to tell you that all of the leaders, including myself, were fried (you know you're tired when your hair hurts) and we all really wanted to just go home and sleep for the next 72 hours.  But most everyone stayed, and the stories I heard just blew me away.  But what really stood out were the story tellers.  

Now it's just an unusual thing to hear in today's world a group of adults cry over students - cry as they express how much they love these kids and cry over what many of them are going home to.  As I listened, I heard the heart of God being expressed through each story told. 

But that is what a youth worker is - we are God's skin, his voice, and his vision in the world - we see what many can't - we have been given his heart for the next generation - and there's no escaping it. If you're a youth worker, you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

I love students, I've given my life to them for the past 26 years - BUT, I really love youth workers.  Why?  Because they love students!  

See there's this beautiful and mystical exchange between us and God.  God calls us to particular kids in a particular place at a particular time and to make sure we love them well and represent Him well - he gives us a love for them that comes directly from his heart to ours. It's a crazy kind of thing... It's mysterious!

Many have thrown this generation away - they've given up on them, dismissed them, complained about them, are annoyed by them, and this has marginalized teenagers today.  But youth workers stay in there, because of what God has given them and what he has shown them.  Oh, it's not easy, trust me, but there we stand WITH them, like God has with us.

See, when others look at today's student, they see Saul, but we see Paul.
Others look and they see the woman at the well, but we see the first missionary.
Some look and see Simon, but we see Peter.
That's God vision and that's youth ministry.  

We see what God is doing and what he's doing is just so stinkin' beautiful!  We've been given glimpses of what the future holds for our students and what God's Spirit is working out in each of them. And I trust him - I trust him to carry it out, to continue to work, to sanctify them, to produce a choice fragrant fruit in each my students.

And when I grow weary, when I lose the vision, I ask God to remind me - to show me again... and then back I go to remind students who they really are.  What an honor, what an absolute honor to speak God's vision over them - what a tremendous blessing!

 
 
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I spoke at a high school camp a couple of weeks ago in Oklahoma.  The amazing youth worker in this picture with me is, Sherri Pat Rockwell. She has been investing in the next generation for many years and as soon as I arrived, I noticed her.  She's that rare youth worker who has that special magnetic pull - kids are just drawn to her and she to them.  It was amazing to see.  
Some youth workers like to hang in the back, or sit with other adults (if they're not on stage) - not Sherri Pat - she was always, and I mean always, right there in the midst of the action with the students.  I immediately loved her! 

I thought of two things watching her all week WITH the students.  The first is that we are never too old to invest in the next generation - it isn't a young person's game my friends.  Even David wrote in Psalm 71:18
Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.


David, even in his older years still was declaring the goodness of God to the next generation - it was his passion, his heartbeat!

But the other thing that stood out about Sherri Pat was how she demonstrated God's withness.  After all, his name is Immanuel.  And she was never aloof, distant, passive aggressive, stand-offish, too tired or too busy.  She was constantly WITH them.  The students got the idea of how passionate God was about their journey and their stories and their predicaments by seeing his passion in Sherri Pat.  His passion for them just flowed thru her directly to them.  She was the conduit for God's heartbeat.  Even though she is a little old and a little grey, she was declaring who Jesus really was by how she was listening to them, playing with them, worshipping right alongside of them, praying over them, speaking loving truth to them =>  Amazing - it was amazing to see!  

Benediction:
May we be demonstrators of who God really is - may our lives reflect him and be his conduits -  his vessels of love that he flows through, directly to those around us.  May we become aware that he is not only WITH us, but demonstrate his WITHNESS to others and especially to those incredible students around us!  Amen

 
 
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I remember seeing the Demi Moore movie, The Scarlett Letter. It's not that it was a brilliant movie (the book is definitely much better), but I remember walking out extremely troubled.  This idea that a woman commits adultery and is required by her community to wear a scarlet A on her dress - the symbol of shame - she has to wear it, everywhere she goes.  
That judgmental community - I just couldn't shake it - in fact, I think that this kind of thinking - intolerant, small-minded, ugly judgmentalism -  it's one of my most hated attributes about much of our culture.  I believe it's why I am so drawn to Jesus - he's the great clarifier of who God really is.  He shows us who God really is and how he sees us and those around us.  Whether it's a scarlet A for adultery, or an A for addict - we tend to label ourselves and others by our and their mistakes... but that is not how God works.  

I love how Jesus responds to the judgmental crowd and the woman caught in adultery in the Scriptures - what he says is just SO SPECTACULAR and he sets us all free from the plague of judgmentalism when he speaks these words: "Whoever has never sinned, let them throw the first stone."  

I remember a friend confessing that he had committed adultery.  As he told some of us this, he was weeping, I cried right along with him.  Some of my friends there, they became angry with him, but I just couldn't.  My thinking was, "If John can't stay faithful to his wife, then I don't have a chance."  John was and is an amazing man and his royal mess up, reminded me of my own fragility, my own tendencies.  I left praying that prayer, "But for the grace of God, there go I."  I like John, desperately need grace.  I stood with John as a friend like Jesus stands with this woman.  In fact, Jesus, in the story, is the only one with her at the end.

But I actually find that I am much more generous with other people than I am with myself.  I have sinned throughout my life - lies, lust, anger, outright intentional disobedience... you name it!  But there are about 3 or 4 things that I've done in my life that I just can't shake - I can't seem to forgive myself of.  
Many of us sit as prisoners of our past.  
We are plagued by the things that we've done, and we can't seem to offer grace and forgiveness to ourselves. We join the crowd of judgers - labeling, disregarding, throwing away, speaking and thinking terrible things - but its all aimed at ourselves.

The only way out is by believing the life-altering truth that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  None. Like, at all!    

Now those 3 or 4 things that tend to creep up into my mind occasionally - I know that those thoughts aren't from God.  I've confessed those things, repented, even gone to certain people and made them right - but for whatever reason, they will once in a while, creep into my thought pattern and I begin the ritual of hating on myself... again... ugh! 
 
Honestly, I think it's the enemy - he wants us to sit in judgment of ourselves, to disqualify ourselves, to become consumed by our own failures.  It's funny because he leaves the things that we haven't confessed or made right  - he leaves those things all alone.  He wants those unconfessed sins to just fester - he won't bring those things up.  He'll tell us they aren't a big deal.  But the ones we've taken care of, those things that we've repented of - he beats us up with those mistakes, getting us to believe lies - and then he completely undermines the fact that God is FOR us!  Then we join him in beating ourselves up: "Maybe the people who sit in judgment of me and have thrown me away are right, maybe I'm not worthy of forgiveness or of a second chance, maybe I truly do suck..." and the lies go and on and on... discrediting the truth of Jesus that we are loved, accepted, fully forgiven, redeemed, treasured, we actually are God's workmanship - his masterpiece and he is longing to use us!  We aren't disqualified!   

I am truly challenged by this, but I have a feeling that I'm not alone.  I'm really hoping that today God speaks some loving truth your way.

Benediction:
May we love, be gracious and kind and patient with ourselves and receive the truth of how God sees us.  And may this amazing reality bleed onto how we view others - and may we be known for how we people with amazing tenderness - being full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  After all, all that stuff is what God is forming in us, because he finds us worthy of it.  Amen

  


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