Monday, April 25, 2011

Virus Attack

So, last week, my computer finally crashed. Actually, I knew it was happening … but for a little over a week, I tried to pretend like it wasn’t and just kept using it. For example, I couldn’t send email right away … I had to create and send the email, log out of outlook, re-start the computer, re-open outlook and then it might go through! And in the midst of that, most days, the screen would go black and I’d have to turn the computer off for a while before I could use it again. It was most frustrating and very non-productive!

According to the Geek Squad, I had 87 viruses and a display driver issue which kept causing my screen to go black. And what’s worse - I have Norton Anti-Virus on my computer, too! I thought it was set up to run regular scans and so I never tried to open it and double check periodically to see that all was well! Come to find out, I guess the viruses were causing it not to update or prevent others from attacking! Not cool.

With all this extra forced “down” time last week, I got to thinking! I was catching up on some reading about postmodernism and the millennial generation as I realized, this computer infestation and breakdown was comparable to a teen’s (or anyone for that matter but for this post, I will focus on teens) relationship with God!
Like the computer, an infestation (i.e. sin, guilt, stress, broken relationships, peer pressure, etc.) can happen in a youth’s life and they may not even realize the damage going on “behind the scenes” because of it until the breakdown happens. This easily happens when the youth of today don’t deal with the infestation or have a mentor or a parent around who might help!

There’s no denying that today’s teens are the busiest generation ever with the most influences ever (i.e. media). And, I think pretty much all postmodern and millennial experts would agree that the world has changed, teens have changed, and their responses to our (the church) past programs have even changed on a broad scale. I read something that said teens today just don’t have the time to and won’t be a part of programs that don’t meet their needs. And, there are hundreds of articles about how often times, we (the church at large) aren’t do much to adapt to this generation.

In addition to business, one characteristic of postmodernism is that morality is personal. One post-modern philosopher thinks: “morality is seen as each person’s private code of ethics without the need to follow traditional values and rules.” I say, who better than the church to step in and mentor (youth AND their parents) and have an influence on this personal ethic development!

I, for one, don’t want to become irrelevant in having a potential impact on teenager’s personal ethics! I hope that someday, someone will do that for my son! But to me, it’s sort of like the resistance that a virus can develop to an anti-biotic. Over time, the medicine just won’t make a difference in fighting against the infestation if we don’t adapt and renew the medicine.

Now, I’m not saying that I think we ought to run out and make a bazillion changes to our programs or create new ones without thinking and visioning and praying this through. But I am saying, that I don’t want us to become irrelevant in the lives of teens either. I think churches and youth leaders must work together to find a happy medium for the sake of the youth of our world.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lenten Prayer Friend Project

Each year, our youth participate in a special Lenten project that anonymously pairs them with an adult in our congregation! For the 40 (ish) days of Lent, that adult prays for the youth and then they meet close to the end of Lent to get to know one another a little better!

At the luncheon last week, we showed this video! It is a compilation of quotes and "interviews" from participants in the project. Thanks to all who were a part of the project!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

"They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered
in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to
carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right
way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you
were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the
Shepherd of your souls."

This piece of Scripture comes from 1 Peter 2 (The Message version) and I love it. It reminds me that Good Friday was not a "good" day for Jesus but became a "great" day for me. But, it also makes me think!

I so do not deserve what Jesus did for me.
Jesus = so innocent, so humble, so loving.
Me = so selfish, so greedy, so imperfect.

Thinking along these lines this Good Friday, I came across a sermon that Martin Luther published in 1519. It was called "A Good Friday Sermon on How to Contemplate Christ's Holy Sufferings." I know it seems difficult to relate to something written over 500 years ago, but it actually makes a lot of sense if you dig through it!

There is one part of the sermon that I find extremely compelling! Martin Luther basically says that where one thorn in the crown of thorns pierces Christ, more than a thousand thorns should pierce me (and even more painfully at that). Luther says that where one nail is driven through Christ's hands and feet, I should eternally suffer the same (and even more painfully). That is what I deserve becuase I allow a seperation between myself and my relationship with God. That's what sin is, afterall, anything that seperates me from God. But, thankfully, I don't have to suffer this as Christ already endured it on my behalf! So, why don't I celebrate and give thanks for this fact more?

And then there is this verse from Romans 8:38-39. It says "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

So in the end and because of Good Friday, there is nothing that I can do (EVER) to make Christ not love me, nor God turn from me. There is no thought I could have, no action I could do, no statement I could make, no punch I could throw that would make me any less loveable in God's eyes! And that truly is GOOD news because (let's face it) I am not perfect and I am going to mess up! Could I do a better job at many things in my life like my attitudes, generosity, praise and thanksgiving? Absolutely. But even when I don't do life well and screw things up, God remains by my side, sometimes carrying me through it, and there is nothing I can do to make God ever be willing to leave my side. I might turn away from God, but God NEVER turns away from me. Again, that is GOOOOOOOD news!

This Good Friday, I am challenged to be more thankful for the suffering that Christ endured on my behalf and his never-ending faithfulness to me.