Raise your hand if you love all things pumpkin spice! If you raised your hand then we are meant to be friends haha. I love the smell of fall and the transitioning to cute cardigans and cute booties. Fall is my favorite season hands down. There are also days where everything seems to be falling into place. It’s the days where it’s as if you know without a shadow of a doubt that God sees you because you can feel His favor. The kind of favor that feels like the toes in the sand pictures, the mountain top selfies or the dinner with all your best friends. I have begun to see that it’s in those seasons that a greater need begins to stir in us for God. Because the reality is that seasons of drought, doubt and frustration always find us. Good seasons aren’t always consistent and good days fade but friend God never stops being good no matter how we feel.
In our minds we build up expectations that consist of everything that we don’t have or everything that’s wrong with our current season. We begin to doubt God and then we begin to distance ourselves from the very thing He has called us to do. If the enemy can get you to doubt one thing he knows getting you to doubt two things will be a piece of cake. The truth about who we think we are dictates our every step and how we walk in the dreams we desire to come true. We talk about our passions, we think about them, we read about things related to them but never move beyond the thought.
In Acts, Paul is working (tent maker) and sharing the gospel. His drive to move the kingdom forward blows me away. As I came across this verse in chapter 18 it reminded me of two beautiful truths that I want to share with you.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking do not be silent. For I am with you and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
It says “keep on speaking” this to me must have come at a time where Paul is working all week long tired and living in a house with a family that he didn’t know very well and yet on the weekends he gave it all he had trying to win people to Jesus. Was he discouraged? Maybe ready to give up? How many times have you been in this spot where you needed just a little extra nudge from God to keep going.
Secondly, it says He stayed for a year and a half longer teaching them the word of God. That’s a lot of days. I look at seasons where just two weeks into something I’m exhausted and ready to throw in the towel all in the name of Jesus. What I am realizing is that length of a season literally has nothing to do with my obedience but everything to do with my disobedience. When we serve God out of duty then any length will quickly turn to bitterness and frustration and in the end we can miss the presence of God. When we choose to serve out of our love for Him above all else peace and freedom flow, and we see Him clearly and are satisfied.
This season, I am in is one of the hardest I have ever had to endure. My insecurities are at an all time high; I am doubting my every move, and the things I am fervently praying for I see no movement. I feel like I have been on a constant roller coaster. I always laugh at kids when they want to ride a roller coaster and yet they cry through the entire ride and yet hours later they are ready to endure it again. I believe it’s because they know what to expect the second time around. There is so much truth in that. We have been called and chosen to share the gospel daily and yet we also know the enemy’s one job is to derail us over and over and over again. God’s word reminds us and yet I forget often. I woke up this past week and walked outside around my backyard never saying a word, while tears flowed down my face. I looked up and said “God I have nothing to say, can you just look at my heart and read my thoughts?”. The beautiful thing is that God knows my defeating thoughts and yet stays with me.
The emotional roller coaster days and the days where everything is “pumpkin spice” right I have to be able to praise Him no matter what.
I have to listen for His sweet voice to whisper on some days and on other days I can feel his army of angels shouting to keep going! Keep loving! Keep speaking! Keep trying! Keep praying! Keep honoring! Keep reaching!
Your season is not defining your future instead it is setting you up to lean in and lean on the only One who can carry you into the next season victoriously. What season is He calling you deeper into?
Lets respond with our arms high and our heart abandoned as we relinquish anything that has self as the center.
Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying; “whom shall I send and who will go for us? ” Then I said “HERE I AM SEND ME.”
Why I Bring My Girls to Waves Girls Conference...
I have been the youth pastor at Forest Park UMC, in Panama City, FL, for four years now. This has been my first full time position, and the first time I have been the director of a youth ministry. There is definitely a learning curve when you first start out; finding out how to best communicate with students and parents, how to navigate a new church leadership structure, what do you do during office hours, etc. I think I adapted to a lot of it fairly well, and pretty quickly.
Then, I ran into a question I had never given much thought to: How do I best minister to Middle and High School girls?
This wasn’t a big deal at first, but somewhere in my second year I looked around and realized, well over half of our crew were all Middle School girls! Suddenly it became even more important to find ways to connect with my girls.
Well, I learned early in my life, often the smartest thing to do is find out what others do, or have done, and borrow from them. A friend who also worked in youth ministry told me about the Waves Conference. I was intrigued, and had nothing to lose from simply trying it; so, I started advertising it to my group.
That first year, going to Waves almost didn’t happen though. I was only able to convince three girls that they should give it a try. I figured that if they enjoyed it, they would be able to help convince others to go in following years. The only problem was, I didn’t have a single female chaperone! I was asking everyone I could think of, just trying to get someone who was able to be there. I was able to get a college student to commit to come back for the weekend in order to help make sure our girls could go, but I still needed at least one other female adult to go too. Eventually, our women’s director gave me the number for someone who knew that we were at our “make it or break it” point for being able to go. I called her up and ask if she could simply make herself available to go with our girls so that they did not miss out on this opportunity. After much prayer and hesitation, she said yes.
Her and the girls had a great time, and enjoyed the experience enough that, about a month or so after the conference, the girls approached me about wanting to start a girl’s Bible study; and they knew exactly who they wanted to lead it!
In the following years, I have been able to not only recruit more girls to go, but new adult leaders too. Each year so far, I have had at least one chaperone who has never served in youth ministry before, but by the end of the weekend, end up falling in love with our girls, and wanting to do more with them.
Every year my girls are impressed with the teaching, and excited for worship. As a youth pastor, I could not hope for more from an event, they passionately participate in worship and eagerly soak up the teaching; but I have to say, the relationship building has been, by far, the most rewarding outcome from the conference. Whether it is my High Schoolers trying to reach out to the Middle Schoolers, or how they begin to include and reach out to new girls, or to the women who help chaperone.
I started out this article by bringing up a question that came up in my ministry: How do I best minister to Middle and High School girls?
I believe that the answer is the same for all those we minister to; it’s all about relationships. As a twenty-something male youth pastor, I will never fully understand my girls. What I can do is show them that I care by creating opportunities for them to be poured into them, for them to have fun, and build their friendships. I love being able to introduce my girls to Godly women from our church whom they do not often interact with naturally; and giving them an environment that helps them foster intergenerational friendships that lead to deeper connections. Hearing the women comment, too, on how much they enjoy the conference, and how they treasure getting to know some of our youth; Waves has quickly become one of the most impactful events that our church participates in each year.