Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Die Hard, A Story For Lent?

We're half way through Lent now, and I've seen the usual facebook posts and heard from friends who are missing chocolate or caffeine or whatever it is they've given up.

I asked my husband if I should give up tea, to which he replied "no way, it'll be too hard......for me".  It's true I don't move from HQ (my bed) until I've had a cuppa, but I kind of thought the whole point of Lent was to forego the things we would miss, and at the point we're about to combust because we haven't had our sugar rush or caffeine fix or whatever it might be, we turn to God and spend that time in thankful prayer! 

I've never given anything up for Lent, so thought it would just be silly to start this year (I don't think God minds!)

But I heard an interesting Lent story this week about a man who had given up 'fear of people' for Lent! He had decided that throughout Lent, whatever he felt led by the Holy Spirit to do, he would step out and do it without fear!  My first thought was I'd get to day 40 and sheepishly glance upwards and wonder why I hadn't been asked to do anything!

One thing this guy did was to go to the cinema and see Les Mis, he really felt he had a message for the people who would be there and had been prompted by God to step out of his comfort zone and face his fears, so before the film started he announced to the audience, "this film is about forgiveness and redemption and if you want to know true forgiveness you really should meet Jesus!" Ballsy or what?!

It made me wonder if I'd missed a trick when I went to see Die-Hard, should I have perhaps stood in front of the whole cinema and announced "this film is about.......well who cares really, but there's a great car chase, lots of shoot outs and Bruce Willis dangles from a jeep which dangles from a helicopter, falls about 100 feet through many plate glass windows and lives! But if you want to know true eternal life, you have to meet with Jesus! Yippee ki yay!"

Monday, 11 February 2013

Trust Me - I'm A Youth Leader!

I've just returned from my first weekend away as a youth group leader, I use the term 'leader' loosely because I'm not sure I always lead in the right direction, and am often accused by the kids of being a bigger kid than them!

Although I grew up in Christian surroundings I wasn't one of those kids who lived for the camps - in fact the only two I remember going on as a kid didn't leave me with great memories, I came home from one infested with head-lice, and the other one I spent a whole day in tears and didn't really know why!

Funnily enough it was to be at the same place I spent a week and a tear soaked day as a child, that we were to return to with the youth group from our church, so I wasn't sure what emotions it might evoke. 

We went across to Woodcroft Christian Centre which is only about 30 mins drive from where we are, which is a bonus for whoever has to drive the minibus, because listening to the onslaught of vocal renditions ranging from S Club 7 to Queen, or various entire Monty Python sketches being recited word for word by a large group of teenagers is a lot to ask of anyone; so top tip for booking a youth weekend away......go local!

The theme for the weekend was 'trust' and we covered all angles, from trusting God and our faith to trusting peoples advice, and of course how we recover from broken trust. 

I hope and pray the kids got something out of it, I think they did, we'll find out more over the coming weeks in our group together.  But I know I got something out of it.  My slot was to cover trusting God, and in my preparation I was reminded of a verse I had come to a long time ago while praying during a desperate situation:

Psalm 28:7(NIV)

The Lord is my strength and my shield,

my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,

    and with my song I praise him.

It was so good to be reminded of this verse again and find the trust in God that I needed to for my present situation.
Aside from worship and talks and a couple of workshops, there was time for the kids to have one to one talks with leaders. I don't know if as a teenager I would've opened up to an adult about certain situations, but I know as an adult I wish I had, so I think it's great that we can build those relationships and provide the environment for them to talk - only if they wanted to of course, it was all very relaxed.
Both nights two other leaders and myself stayed up till 1am for 'late night chat'. The first night was great, a few testimonies were shared which was very moving and I feel privileged to have heard them, and some theological questions asked, and it was wonderful to see just how seriously these youngsters take their understanding of the Bible and they want to talk and ask their peers their understanding of certain texts.
Night two and we thought we'd try and spice it up a bit by allowing an anonymous questions bag, improvisationaly provided in the form of a wash bag and some post it notes! I'm not sure who managed to lower the tone more - the kids or the leaders; the best question was.....oops no, sorry, what gets said in 'late night chat' stays in 'late night chat', the weekend was based on 'trust' after all!
We finished up the weekend with Christmas dinner and Secret Santa gifts (I know, it's February, don't ask!) and I have to say I was more than chuffed with my gift, I don't know who it was from, but it was a book I have wanted for a little while now, Heaven: It's not the end of the world by David Lawrence (maybe I'll get him to sign it next time he speaks at our church!)

So, I survived my first weekend away with 18 teenagers as a leader! Would I go again? Definitely!