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Monday
Jan042016

Just Trust Me

Aaron HochgertelIt was a Sunday night two years ago. Our church youth group had been divided into boys and girls that night, and I was leading the boys, letting them share any major “God moments” they had experienced lately. One of the boys, one who didn’t talk often, raised his hand and began to pour out his heart, sharing his battle with depression.

He told us that a week ago, he had been in his bathroom at home, considering suicide—he said he didn’t want to deal with the pain anymore. But just as he’d been thinking about ending his life, he’d remembered a discussion we had at youth group the month before. I had taught that even when we are at our lowest, even on our worst day, God is still speaking to us and is going to bring us through. He told us that when he remembered what I had said, he’d called out to God to speak to him, and he’d heard God say, “My love will always be greater than your pain…just trust Me.”

After hearing his story, every guy in our group was in tears. I was in awe that God would take my simple words and use them to impact a student’s life. I guess that’s what keeps me passionate about youth ministry: You never know what to expect or what will stick, but you always keep planting. A student might never remember one of my lessons, but they’ll remember that I cared enough to teach them. That’s what I love about teens—they don’t care about the words; they care about the heart behind the words. If every student who comes through our youth ministry knows that I love them and, more importantly, that Jesus loves them, then I call that success.

My words aren’t magic, and to be honest, I don’t even clearly remember every lesson. But God plants something into these students’ hearts, and only God knows when it will produce a harvest. I am so blessed and honored to be used by God to pour into these teens’ lives.

And to think, I almost walked away from it all.

After graduating from high school, one of my biggest struggles was deciding where I would pursue my education. My desire was to go to Oklahoma, but God had different plans for me. I heard Him tell me to stay at my home church and accept the position of Youth Ministry Director. For many people, leaving home is a sign of faith, a willingness to follow God. But for me, staying where He placed me was my act of faith.

Then one day, my dad pointed me to the Charis Online website, and immediately I knew that this was the path for me. Without it, I would not be able to go through school and minister to these teens at the same time. I am so excited to see God at work in me and to see it to flow into these young men and women, just like it did on that Sunday night.

Monday
Dec282015

Faith Is a Thrill Ride

I was strapped inside and couldn’t move. As I sat on the roller coaster with my teenage son, I wondered if this was a big mistake. How fast did this thing go? Did it really go upside down? Maybe I should get out and request the most recent inspection report. Before I could even finish my thought, we were off like a bolt of lightning—flashing, twisting, and flying through the air. Suddenly we came to a stop at the top of a hill. After a long pause, I had a sinking feeling that the ride was about to go to another level. The man behind me groaned, “Oh, no! Does this thing go backward?” I know a prophecy when I hear one, and sure enough, we were headed south at what felt like the speed of light.

We don’t always like the unpredictable or unexpected. We like to know what’s coming and even have a little control along the way. The problem with the need for control is that there can only be one captain of a ship. When it comes to following God’s will for our lives, it’s either our way or His. It can’t be both. To fully walk in God’s will, we must relinquish control and have faith in His perfect plan, even if it seems like a roller coaster ride.

In Andrew’s How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will teaching, he shares this:

When we get to heaven and look back on our lives, I don’t think many of us will say, “I trusted God too much.” But many of us will say, “I played it too safe. I spent my time being occupied with too many things and not going for what God said.”

Whenever God calls us to do something, it is almost always out of our comfort zones. Obedience requires an element of courage. It demands faith—not in an outcome but in the One who gives perfect peace.

Andrew continues:

You commit yourself to God. You run up the white flag. Take all of the reservations off of the table. Just say, “Father, there is nothing that I’m holding back.” You’re not responsible for the consequences; you’re responsible to obey God. If you keep your mind stayed upon God through studying the Word and focusing on Him, you will have perfect peace. If you don’t have perfect peace, your mind’s not stayed upon God.

By the way, I survived the roller coaster and proceeded to ride it six more times. I even bought the T-shirt. It made me think— If I can trust the engineers who built the roller coaster, how much more can I trust a heavenly Father who created the earth and everything in it, including me?

Yes, He asks me to do things that I don’t feel qualified for and to go places I would never dream of going on my own. The good news is, His ways are perfect and His plans for me are for good and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).

I still have to keep myself from asking too many questions about the ride ahead, reminding myself that it’s the devil’s way of trying to break my focus. To follow God’s will and fulfill His purpose for my life, I must keep my mind stayed on Him. The ride can be unpredictable, but it’s also too exhilarating to miss!

Has this inspired you? Share a comment below.

Monday
Dec212015

Build a Solid Foundation

“It’s not working!”

“I can’t do it—it’s just too hard!”

As a parent, I have heard those frustrated words many times—usually right before something crashes. For several years, it seemed like I heard them every time my kids played with LEGO™ toys. Most of the time I would patiently respond, “Just try again.” But one day I realized my standard “mommy” response was actually causing one of my children more frustration.

“It doesn’t matter how many times I try; I just can’t do it!” complained my son, just before throwing his LEGO™ toys across the room.

Instead of delivering the usual reprimand for losing self-control, on this particular day, God infused my “mommy” brain with a grace that said, “Show me what you’re trying to do.” My son began to explain his plans for building a huge tower and demonstrating his ability to transfer that picture in his mind to the blocks in his hands. Then I saw the problem: He was missing a vital piece of information regarding physics. So, I showed him how his foundation (or lack thereof) was affecting the way his tower responded to outside forces like gravity, wind, and his little sister. Soon I was hearing shouts of “Mom, come look at this!”

It’s amazing how a little bit of knowledge can revolutionize our lives. But what would happen if, instead of trying to build our lives on one truth from God’s Word, we began using the whole counsel of God to build a solid foundation? Would we be constantly frustrated and ready to quit? Or would all the pieces put together help us move away from childishness and into the maturity of Christ?

Andrew’s Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword teaching sheds light on how a solid foundation helps us maintain our spiritual equilibrium:

Where I live, there’s a dirt road with ditches on both sides of it. If you started sliding into one of those ditches, you might turn the wheel violently to get out of it, but if you weren’t careful, you might hit the ditch on the other side. Well, one ditch isn’t any better than the other ditch. If you want to reach your destination, you’ve got to go down the middle of the road—in between the ditches. Similarly, error is simply one truth from God’s Word taken at the expense of, or to the exclusion of, another truth from God’s Word. If you are really going to divide the Word of God correctly, you’ve got to put it in its proper balance. (paraphrase mine)

I love that! Using the truths of God’s Word in proper balance can help us avoid mistakes and keep us from constructing a faulty foundation. And how much easier life—and building with LEGO™ toys—would be if we made sure we started with a solid foundation!

If this has blessed you, please post a comment below.