letters: a series.

 

Dear Life, when you don’t let me sleep at night it makes me want to take drugs to go to sleep. Drugs are bad. I would appreciate some sleep. Love, Kate

Dear Christmas, I hate you. I know that’s not the Christian/American way and I am simply a terrible piece of humanity and a scrooge for even thinking such things–but Christmas, you stress me out something fierce. That’s not even fun. Love, Kate

Dear College, I still don’t miss you.

Dear Kate, You are a mess. You look a little homeless. It’s OK.

Dear Apathetic Christians, you say you love God, yet you also sit back and love sin and tolerate injustice. When did Jesus tolerate injustice? When did injustice not make Him angry?

Dear Aggressive Christians, You can’t tell someone to repent of their sin if they do not believe that God is good and just. You can tell someone who does not share your view of God all about their sin and they will hear hatred and intolerance and the message of a hateful God. How did Jesus talk to unbelievers? Check out His interactions with Zachaeus and the Samaritan woman at the well. He talked about their sin after gaining their interest and trust. He didn’t just dive in with the attack on their life.

Dear Christians, people might take us seriously if we had honesty AND tact. Basic social skills still apply to you. People also might take us seriously if they actually saw us out there doing something about injustice and not just churches full of apathetic people who get aggressive when the topic of gay marriage and gun control comes up.

Dear World, I am sorry that the majority of people who claim the name of Jesus Christ actually act nothing like Him.

Dear Everyone, What comes next?

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re: bind my wandering heart to thee

I know so many women who allow their joy to be sucked away by men.  They are not in abusive or bad relationships–they simply are not in a relationship at all and they are lost, they have no identity, they often don’t even have much of a personality because they are just waiting for prince charming to ride up and reveal their fate.  She wants to find herself in him.

I know so many men who find their identity in independence, in searching for themselves and trying to fit in with other men.  So many men who are just looking for a place to belong, sold on being strong enough, afraid to give or feel or love.

There is a girl who I know who is completely in love with this boy.  She wants him to love her more than anything.  She also claims to love Jesus but I am not convinced.  I think she likes Jesus and she knows about Him.  But I don’t think she wants him as much as she wants this boy.  If you talk with her, she’s funny and cute but there’s a general feeling that she isn’t positive of who she is, she’s uncomfortable with herself.  You can tell that she does not feel valuable or confident.  I think that if God took the boy away, she would have nothing and have to go searching for herself again.  This is everywhere.  I probably know ten or twelve girls like this.

Low self-esteem is pride.  Arrogance is pride.  Thinking that you are important is pride.  It’s all a matter of worshiping something that is not God, ultimately it is worshiping self.  Thinking that you are important.  Prideful idolatry keeps us from really finding ourselves in our Creator.  Instead of finding ourselves somewhere or in someone, we must bind ourselves to Him.

Proper view of God results in a proper view of self.  We are only important by His grace and it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him.  It is important to keep view of self as an important concept in youth ministry.  We often put it on a shelf with Creation, Image, and the Gospel in favor of addressing more trendy topics.

When you’re talking with or observing a kid, you can pick up on it very easily.  Where do you see arrogance?  Where do you see low self-esteem.  What are they hiding behind there? Bad relationships with parents?  Hurt from a broken relationship?  Abuse?  What is getting in the way of this kid having a proper view of God?

Are you arrogant?  Do you struggle with low self-esteem?  Do you think that you are important?  Does your importance determine your value or success?  Where does your strength, your success, your value, and your identity come from?  If God took everything away from you, would you still have something?

Oh, God, bind my wandering heart to thee.

re: fame.

 

I was running yesterday and thinking about the kids who I love and are such a fantastic part of my life.  A few weeks ago in Middle School someone asked the question—“What do you want to be known for?”

The overall and overwhelming answer was that these kids wanted to be famous.  They wanted to be rock stars and movie stars—they wanted to be the next generation of icons, the people who raised them on television.

“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that we’d be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars…”

But we won’t.  And there’s nothing wrong with having dreams and high aspirations but what are we feeding our kids?  Who are we allowing them to love and admire?

There is no way that they would ever run a television show about our church.  There’s a reality tv show out there for everyone about almost anything but there would never ever be one about our church.  No one would watch it.  It would be boring.  Why? Because—while our church is not by any means perfect and the people in it are not perfect but we love God and because we love God we don’t sleep around, do drugs, fist fight, drink ourselves into oblivion, hoard dead things, kill people, or do all kinds of other things that would be crazy enough to be on television.  So the kind of people in our church are not the kind of people they’re putting on television unless MTV is making fun of how boring they are.

So why does anyone care about the Kardashians?

Because they have all the stuff that our unredeemed nature desires to make ourselves god.  They’re popular, they’re beautiful, they don’t care what anyone thinks and that makes them free to do whatever they want, people give them things, they’re rich, they’re glamorous, everyone wants to take their photo, everyone wants to hang out with them…

But when do you think was the last time that Kim Kardashian cared about anything other than her man-candy and how her butt looks on camera?

Do you think she has deep, lasting joy?  Do you think she is secure in her identity?  Do you think she’s even happy?

And most of my kids and the people I know will probably make fun of the Kardashians and say that they are silly.  But secretly inside that’s the life they want—the life of a modern goddess.

Kim Kardashian is nothing like Jesus.

Why do we want to be god instead of being like God?

Why do we put these icons in front of ourselves to desire?

And then as it relates to youth ministry–how often do we inadvertently encourage this worship of icons?  How can we discourage this epidemic which is nothing new but growing more and more dangerous?