Momentum January Calendar

Here’s the January calendar. This month is extra exciting because, not only did we just start a brand new year, but Winter Retreat is at the end of the month! If you haven’t already, check out PennDel Youth’s website and read up on this awesome weekend getaway!

http://penndelyouth.com/snowcation

january momentum calendar

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Bringing the “Blessed Hope”

Titus 2:11-14 (MSG)

 God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.

Every week, the first questions I ask the students are: “So what? Why does any of this matter to you?” Generally, there is an uncomfortable shifting in seats and awkward, downward gazing eyes. It’s important to make sure they know how the scriptures are still relevant to them and really take the time to analyze what they’re hearing.

We’ve all had those moments when we finished reading a chapter in a text book and realize that we have no idea what we just read. We have to think about what we are hearing/reading in order for it to stick.

This passage significant because the Israelites were God’s chosen people, and it was prophesied in the Old Testament that when the Messiah would come, God’s blessings would be offered to all mankind. So, salvation would become available, not just to Israelites, but anyone.

Next Questions: What do we do with that information? How do we live out the scriptures? If you back up a little bit to the verses before this passage we read in verse 7:  “But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself….” We need to be the example.

It’s one thing to talk about our faith and God and the scriptures, but it’s an entirely different animal to live it out. Even the devil knows the scripture, and we know that from the passage of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness –

Matthew 4:5-6 – Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

The other day, I posted this on my Facebook wall:

live by example

I had been chewing over this concept for a few days at that point because of a post I had seen on one of my friend’s walls. He ranted:

“I just had someone decked out with pro life lic plate, a Jesus sticker & Jesus fish on the back, flip me off…..imagine that a car that had more religious crap on it than the pope mobile flip me off…..hypocrite….shocker!!!”

That really got me thinking about how often we fail at the follow through. If we are to spread that blessed hope, that gift of salvation to the world, we have to make sure we are doing a better job at being a true representation of Christ. That means, when other drivers on the road make you angry, you don’t flip them off. It means you pray for them, their safety and for YOUR patience.

It’s sad to think that, at times, we have those moments in our lives where, instead of pointing to God, we turn people away from Him because of our reactive nature and poor decisions. So, how do we get there? Live it out! Live your whole life for God. Be the example even when you don’t feel like it.

Romans 12:2 (MSG)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Who’s Holding Up Your Arms?

Exodus 17:8-13

While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them.  Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”

 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage.  Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset.  As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

The biggest take away in this passage is that, in order to fight the battle, the Israelites needed Moses to hold up his staff in order to defeat the Amalekites. In order for Moses to keep his staff raised, he needed help from his friends.

During creation, everything that God created He said was “good” except for one thing.

Genesis 2:18

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

Most people look at that verse and think that it references marriage. However, God didn’t say it wasn’t good for man to be without a woman, he said “it is not good for man to be alone.” We were created to need and seek companionship.

Think about the movie Castaway. Tom Hank’s character is stranded on an island where he befriends a volleyball. He needed companionship so badly, he needed to talk to a volleyball with his own bloody hand print on it.

Saying that, who we seek companionship with matters a great deal.

On one of my retreats while in Jeanne Mayo’s Cadre, Jeanne spoke a phrase that stuck with me. She said, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”

Over time, we reflect the company we keep. If you spend a lot of time around negative minded people, you will probably start to be more negative. If you constantly surround yourself with people who tell an laugh at lewd jokes, one day you may find yourself joining in. If your inner circle is known for their knack for gossiping, you may wake up one day and be their rumor leak.

In the Exodus passage, Aaron and Hur were the kind of friends that helped Moses keep his arms raised. They were the kind of friends that stuck with him and helped him fight his battles.

We need friends like that. Friends that help support us while we fight our battles, not friends that will drag us into their drama or friends that will tear down our self confidence with hurtful words. Friends we can call on to pray for us, to speak truth into our lives and to point us to God.

Take a moment and think about your friendships. Are they helping you grow or tearing you down? Are they bringing you hope or do you feel hopeless after talking to them? Who do you confide in? Who helps you be accountable?

Who is holding up your arms?

November Calendar

Good morning Momentum family!  Just wanted to make sure (and I apologize it’s late) everyone saw the November calendar. We will have game night next Tuesday. We will be going to the Laser Dome. The cost is $15 for a 40 minute session. There are also arcade games as well as a snack bar. Saying that, this is a also a reminder that there will be NO WEDNESDAY  NIGHT SERVICE next week (the day before Thanksgiving) for the holiday.

 

november calendar

Capturing Moments: Don’t Miss it

I love to look at old (and often embarrassing) pictures of me from when I was growing up. It’s fun to see the moments of my life documented in fuzzy pictures. Nowadays, technology has made it possible for people to document literally every moment of their (and their kid’s) lives. Selfies while standing in line. Instagramming our dinners. Snapchatting our stories. This can be an awesome thing. Moving around a lot (plus a few floods in the basement) can lose, damage and destroy the physical pictures and artwork, but moments can be immortalized on our social media accounts.

As amazing as that can be we need to make sure we aren’t missing the moments while trying to document them. We don’t want to become an onlooker in our own lives when we should be active participants. Parent Cue and Jon Acuff have produced this short clip talking about just that. Take a moment to check it out!

Championing a Healthy Body Image

It is common for people, at one point or another, to struggle with body image. There is a constant barrage of pictures and unattainable standards set by the media that are being flung in our faces. They appear in everything from toothpaste commercials to auto catalogs. The message is simple: “you need to look like this, or you’re not attractive. If you’re not attractive, then you’re unworthy.”

Did you know that Abercrombie and Fitch does not sell plus sizes for women? This storm hit the media back in 2013. The CEO, Mike Jefferies, gave this statement where he explained his reasoning to Salon:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

There was a mass of backlash to those words, however, whether or not organizations, brands or the entertainment industry will say the words so brazenly out loud, doesn’t mean that that’s not what’s happening.

As ridiculous as that sounds, we buy into it at some point or another. Speaking from experience, I can honestly say that a huge factor into why I was so shy and so self conscious for the better part of my life was the struggle with my weight. I didn’t fit the size zero standard therefore I had convinced myself that I would never get my chance at my dream guy let alone be noticed by boys in general. For some reason kids would follow me around and taunt me. I’ve heard every name rude imaginable thrown my way. I’ve been the girl that, when your crush finds out you like them, the reaction is one of disgust. That’s only majorly slightly devastating to a twelve year old girl.

There was a survey about body image given to students in grades 9th through 12th (about 14 to 18 years old). The findings were shocking – you can find them here. Here are some of the statistics that caught me off guard:

  • more than 59% of females and 29% of males were trying to lose weight.
  • Over 18% of girls and 8% of boys had gone without food for 24 hours or more to lose weight in that 30 day window.
  • Of the girls, 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight.
  • Eating disorders were 5 times more likely to develop in teens who dieted at a moderate level than teenagers who did not diet.

Those are kids! It’s is so important for parents to make sure they are uplifting their children and championing a healthy body image. To tell kids that being healthy is much more important that just being skinny. To tell kids that they don’t need to look a certain way, dress a certain way or be a certain size to be beautiful. God has created all of us in his own image. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Then, not only to tell them (we all know how well teenagers listen), but to embody it. They won’t believe you if they see you don’t believe those words as well. That means embracing those truths ourselves, warts and all.

I found this quote in an article written by a mom about her daughter. She said: “Zoe has been born into a culture that tells women and girls that our bodies are ornamental rather than instrumental — made to be viewed rather than made by God to love and to serve. And I wanted my daughter to know that God had given her a body that He called good.”

Such powerful words. If only we all viewed ourselves like that! Take a moment to teach your student that they are beautiful just the way they are. Then take a moment to look into the mirror and tell yourself the same thing.

Last night in youth: Secret Sin

What is Secret Sin? It is, very literally, sin done in secret. Things done in darkness and hiding that we don’t want others to see. Sometimes these manifest themselves in secret social media pages that you hide from your family and church friends. Sometimes it’s a porn addiction that’s so easily accessible. Sometimes it’s drugs or sex. It can be all kinds of things that we attempt to hide to keep from getting in trouble. the sneaky thing about these kinds of sins is that they slowly eat at you and your relationship with God. Many times we don’t even notice that it’s a problem until we are faced with the consequences.

In 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13, we read the passage in which the prophet Nathan confronts David about his sin against Uriah. Not only had King David- who could have had any woman he wanted- taken Uriah’s wife, but he then sent Uriah to the front lines to be killed to cover up his indiscretion. Nathan tells a tale of a rich man with many flocks of sheep who took the one and only precious sheep a poor man had to slaughter for a feast. David was outraged with what the rich man had done and demanded the man be punished. Nathan then revealed to David that he was that man! David then acknowledged his sin and confessed, but not without consequences. See, even when we think no one knows the sins we do in darkness, God sees us. David would pay dearly for those sins.

I love the quote: “You are free to choose, but you are NOT free from the consequences of your decisions.” Sure, we can do anything we want, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be punishment.

When you were small, your parents told you not to do certain things in order to protect you. For example: Do not touch the hot stove. Your parents knew you would be burned if you touched it, but there are times that our fleshly, sinful and rebellious nature overrides all wisdom. If you touched that stove top in secret, and no one was around to see you, would you still be burned? Yes! Just because no one is around to witness your sin, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have consequences attached.

We also know that, as much as we may try, we can’t cover up our secret sins forever. Proverbs 28:13 (MSG) says, “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.

The most profound thing that the verse states is that we find “mercy by admitting and leaving” our sins. It takes action. In order to be delivered from our secret sin, we have to do three things:

  1. Acknowledge that it exists. This is where you say, “I have a problem” or “this thing is inhibiting me from being closer to God.”
  2. Confess that sin to God. It’s not just recognizing that it’s there, you have to repent.
  3. Get rid of the temptation. You can’t expect to be successful if you’re constantly confronted with your temptation. If my you’re on a diet, you don’t keep your stash of chocolate. You remove the temptation because you want you diet to be successful. If your struggle is with porn, then you need to separate yourself from the devices you use to feed that temptation. If you have a certain group of friends that is constantly pressuring you to do things you shouldn’t, it may be time to move on from that group. If you and your significant other struggle with staying pure in your relationship, you should remove the opportunities for the two of you to be alone, unattended at night.

Matthew 5:30 (MSG) says:

29-30 “Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

Suicide: A Very Real War on Teens and Young People

On the outside I looked happy. On the outside I looked like I was having the time of my life. On the outside I looked like I didn’t have a care in the world. On the outside I looked like everything was great.

On the inside I was crying. On the inside I felt abandoned. On the inside I felt like a failure. On the inside I felt like no one cared. On the inside I felt like I was drowning.

Every morning I put on that happy mask that I wore so well that my own sister couldn’t see I was slowly dying on the inside. I was crying for help, but at the same time, I wanted to hide my struggle. I was embarrassed because I was the happy one, and I felt like I shouldn’t have been feeling those feelings. So, while I smiled outwardly around my friends, I cried myself to sleep. Every. Single. Day. I slept for at least 11 hours a night. I couldn’t bear to be awake. Awake was where the pain was.

That was how I lived for A WHOLE YEAR. 365  days of feeling lost, running from what I thought to be an inescapable outcome – suicide. If I just ended it, I couldn’t disappoint anyone anymore. If I was gone, no one would probably notice. Those poisonous LIES the enemy whispered constantly in my ear as he slowly isolated me from my loved ones, wrapping me tighter in my cocoon of suffocation.

I began having thoughts of serious self harm. I would drink till I blacked out. I wandered the streets and alleys of my college town lost and alone, not caring if something happened to me. I became numb. One night, I was driving home from college and a scary thought crossed my mind – what if I smashed my car into this concrete wall at 80 MPH? The faces of my three sisters flashed across my mind and I began to cry. I thought about them and how much I loved them, and I knew I had to deal with my problem.

I told my mom about the feelings I had been having, and she cried. It broke my heart to see her break down. We discussed my options for help. None of them seemed appealing to me, then a thought struck me – my God is bigger. He was bigger than my struggles. He was bigger than my failures. I took a break from college, and began to pray and fast, reading my bible and talking to my friends about my struggles. They spoke truth into my life. Truths that I had forgotten. I surrounded myself with people who built me up.

One morning I woke up and, instead of feeling that looming desperation, I smiled. I was happy again. I was free.

Why did I tell you that story? Suicide and depression are NOT just things that happen to someone else told to us by someone who knows someone who heard it from someone else. Suicide is actually the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. In fact, some of the scariest statistics you’ll ever read are found here. Scary things like: more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED. Or that everyday in the United States there are about 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12.

What can we do to help?

  1. Listen. Please, please, please take the time to listen to your student. Take the time to hear what they are telling you. It’s more than listening. It’s hearing how they feel about what they’re telling you.
  2. Time. Chisel it out of your schedule – just for your student. I know life is busy, but there is nothing worse than feeling unimportant to the people you love most.
  3. Understand. We need to understand that their childhood struggles are NOT the same as yours when you were in school. Things that kids weren’t exposed to until high school “back in the day” are being thrown at your students in middle school (i.e. drugs, sex, smoking).
  4. Acknowledge. If your student is coming to you to tell you their feelings, pay attention. Obviously if your student says that you making them clean their room makes them feel oppressed, you can probably pass on that one. However, if your student is telling you that other students or teachers are making them feel ostracized or left out – those might be moments to take a pause and discuss.
  5. Empathize. Telling them to rub some dirt in in the proverbial wound instead of trying to see their side is telling your student that their feelings are unimportant. This will also probably stop them from seeking you out when they need someone to talk to.
  6. Plug in. It’s ok – even if they fight you on it – to be all up in their lives. Know their friends, their circles, their favorite bands. Show them that their interests, their friends, their passions matter. Every person in this world just wants to matter to someone.

Take time to check out TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms). This is an awesome non-profit suicide awareness organization. I love their “we believe” statement: “You were created to love and be loved. People need other people. Your story is important. Better days are ahead. Hope and help are real.”

Parent Cue Quick Tip about Video Games

Think back with me for a moment to a time waaaaay back. This was a time when kids played outside. They ran around the neighborhood with packs of kids their age. There were massive games of man hunt, red rover or flashlight tag. Sadly, those times are rare in our current time partially because of safety reasons, but also partially because of the popularity of video and computer games.

I know for our group, video and computer games are the in thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there are games with questionable content (Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty to name a couple). In the same way you wouldn’t let your 12 year old watch a rated R movie, you may also want to censor the kinds of games your student plays. Here is a short clip from Parent Cue about the questions you should ask about your students video/computer games.