Spring your faith

 

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Spring time is here and there is a newness of life with this new season.  With a new season there comes new experiences, new joys, and new trials.  With each new day and season there is a lot of uncertainty.  How are we to cope with all of this changes?
I have noticed many people become more busy in the spring, filling their schedules with activities, dramas, sports, trips, and vacations.  We have a very unique holiday to celebrate in the middle of spring time.  We celebrate the death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.  It is weird to celebrate death in spring, you would think we would celebrate in Winter, but with this particular death came life.  Life not only for Jesus but everyone who would put their faith in him and follow him.
This Spring do not get so busy that you do not see how God is testing your faith and challenging you to grow.  I recently took a group of students to a retreat in Ocean City, MD and I was challenged deeply. I was challenged to obey God’s commands, particulalry God’s most often told commandment.  There is one command God gave more frequently than any other.
  • “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13
  • “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
  • “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” (Joshua 10:8)
Do not be afraid! Fear is the most crippling thing in the world.  How many decision do we make based on fear, yet God tells us do not do this.  We will not experience God’s goodness, grace, and sufficiency if we are afraid.
So, I challenge you all to not fear.  You are allowed to not be afraid.  You are allowed to not worry or be anxious.  You are allowed to fail, fall, and mess up.  There is so much to learn about our faith when we move in the direction of our fears.
Go and do not fear for your God is with you.

The Walking Wasp

 

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I was walking in the woods and I saw the most peculiar thing on the ground.  It was a Wasp walking around. He was minding his own business, simply walking on the ground and I saw there for about five minutes watching him walk on the ground.  I had a dialogue playing in my mind about this curious scenario.  Here is how it went:

 

“Hello Mr. Wasp”

“Hello Mr. Human”

“Why are you walking around Mr. Wasp”

“What do you mean?”

“I wonder why you are walking and not flying?”

“Flying,” Said Mr. Wasp

“Yes, Flying”

Mr. Wasp stared in confusion, “What is flying?”

“You know, where you use your wings and go up into the air above everything else.”

“Oh, no way I am too scared to do that.”

“But that is what you were made for!”

That is where my conversation ended.  I thought about how silly it was to see a Wasp crawling around the ground like he was a normal bug with no wings. How often do we live life chasing things we were not made to do.  We spend our lives crawling on the ground when we were created to fly.

I believe God called me to be a Pastor, which means I love to be with people, care for them, pray with them, share God’s love with them, and help them grow closer to God.  When I try to do other things like maybe be a business man or a star athlete I am working outside my strengths and my created order.  God has made each of us special and unique.

Psalm 139:13-14- You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you form making me so wonderfully complex…

God knows what he is doing so we need to trust him.  If he gave you wings, fly.  If he gave you a genius for Math, solve hard problems.  If he gave you the physique of a god, win the cross fit world’s fittest competition.  Do not try to be someone you are not.

 

 

4 Things our graduating seniors taught me

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This past Sunday our church held the Senior Recognition for our graduating high school students.  We had a wonderful luncheon and time to offer up some wonderful advice from college students returning home for the summer.  As the college students were sharing, it became apparent to me that the seniors have a lot to teach us about life as they are stepping into a new season.  Here are some of the things I learned from them:

Life is short and kids grow up

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When you see our young people grow up and enter adulthood you realize how short life can be and how quick our kids grow up.  Seeing the graduates helps me appreciate my own children and cherish the many moments I have with them.  Before I know it, they will be grown up graduating like the students above.

A new scripture verse: Romans 12:12

We asked each senior for their favorite scripture verse.  One of them wrote down one that I had never seen as a favorite scripture: Romans 12:12- Be glad for all God is planning for you.  Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful. I really like this verse and will make it one of my own life verses.  Thank you senior class of 2016

Raising up younger generations is totally worth it

When I look at some of these kids I think about the good time and bad times we had together.  Many times I focus on the bad or difficult times because they stick out in my mind so much.  At the time, it was a challenge to bear through some of the experiences I had with some of the boys.  As I look back and see who they have become, I am grateful even for the challenging experiences.  Our time together was totally worth every minute.

They teach me as much as I teach them

These seniors have challenged me to be better and to know my stuff.  Part of my responsibility is to help our students understand God’s word but a lot of these students have a good grasp and they end up teaching me or helping me see things I did not see before..

We will miss our students as they leave for college. You don’t know what you have until its almost gone. I hope that we never take for granted the role God gives us in the lives of others.

 

Andrew

 

4 Things I learned talking about sex with Middle Schoolers

by Andrew Marshall

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During the month of May our Youth Ministry took on the privilege of talking to our students about Sex as part of our curriculum.  We are using the XP3 curriculum from Orange and this series was called “The Talk.”  This was a very interested month and very difficult at times.  Here are three things I learned, I actually learned so much more but three is enough for now:

1. Be prepared

The boy scout motto is to “Be prepared” and that is so important when talking about sex.  I was not fully prepared and neither were my leaders.  We were not completely unprepared but we could do a lot better.  Here are some of the things I should have done better that I will do next time.

Over communicate with Parents.  My only communication was a weekly email that I send with a little blurb telling parents what we are talking about.  Most parents do not even read the email so I know I blindsided most of them.  Next time I will send out flyers, a mail out, txt messages, emails, all a month in advance with all details and the opportunity for parents to ask me questions.

Train leaders. I sent my leaders the lesson a week in advance like I usually do, but we did not talk specifics or meet.  Next time I will have a meeting with all the leaders, prepare a short training of things to say and things not to say, and have a discussion if they have questions

Pray. We should pray for every time we meet with students, but it does not hurt to pray more.

2. The word Sex is hard to say

Before you decide to talk in front of a group about sex, make sure you know what you are going to say and how you will say it.  Also, if you prepare an illustration, think it through and think about how it can be misinterpreted by a 12 year old kid.index

We did an activity where every student wore a name tag and had to find a partner.  After they had a partner they were to switch name tags.  After switching name tags they were to find a new partner and switch name tags again.  This went on for about one minute.  After the minute was over they look at their name tag and notice it was not as sticky anymore.  My illustration was how sex can loose its power when it is shared with multiple partners rather that with one spouse in marriage.

One of my students interpreted it differently and thought you should not have a lot of sex or it looses power.

3. One on one conversations

You will have conversations that can be difficult with students and parents.  Students want to know everything you have done so use a lot of discretion.  Parents want to know why their kids are asking questions about sex and how appropriate this conversation is for middle school.

Gather your facts and know why you are doing what you are doing.  This is a touchy subject but one that the church should not avoid.  Many churches avoid talking about sex keeping us in the dark, or they demonize sex and make it awful.

4. Sex is good and powerful

I learned that sex is good because it was invented by a good God (Genesis 1:27-28).  I learned that it is powerful because it can bring two people together and make them one, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially (Genesis 2:24).  Nothing in the world has the power that sex has. God has given us a gift and we must teach our children how to use this gift the right way.

 

Should my teen watch that?

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I was working out at the gym one morning and overheard a conversation between two moms.  They were discussing the movies they went to see over the weekend. One mom mentioned taking her teen daughter and her boyfriend to the new Deadpool movie.  She then described how surprisingly awkward it felt to watch this movie with her daughter specifically because of a drawn out sex scene.  I thought to myself “I would not want to see a sex scene with my child.”

So, should I let my teen see the movie Deadpool?

I will not tell you what to do as a parent, but I can give advice and help you understand what teenagers are thinking, which is usually different each day.

Many of you have probably been asked by your teenager if they can go see this movie.  This will not be the last inappropriate movie your teenage will want to see so you need to know what is in these movies and be prepared with a response.  And I do not mean a list of scriptures that you can throw at your student every time they want to see something you don’t like.

 

Here are four tips when making decisions of movie viewing:

 

Be informed

Do not be like the gym mom who did not know what she was getting into.  Do your homework.  Google the movie and type parent review after: deadpool parent review  and you will find every bad word and bit of nudity found in the movie.  Here is the parent guide to Deadpool: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1431045/parentalguide

Talk openly with your teen

Your teen wants to be exposed to everything found in these movies.  Talk with them about what they are going to view.  Use this opportunity to ask questions like, “does it bother you to hear these words?” “What do you know about ….?” “Have you ever seen …. happen in real life?”

Help your student make the wise decision

As your students grow, they need to begin making decisions for themselves. You cannot make all of their decisions for them. Part of becoming an adult is making tough decisions, which means they will need to live with the consequences of their decision. Depending on your student’s maturity level you might be able to let them make this decision, each of you know your own child. Our students are inundated with different types of media every day, you cannot filter every single thing they see or hear. So instead of telling them what they can and cannot watch, help them learn to make wise decisions.

Take this opportunity to get closer

Find out why they want to watch what they watch or with what they like to listen. Become interested in the things they are interested in and maybe it will help you understand them better. If there are things that you think are inappropriate, talk to them about it and ask them why they’re OK with watching or listening to inappropriate things. Maybe even go to the movie with them ( they’re probably going to see it eventually anyway, especially if you have a Netflix account) and talk with them about the movie afterward.

 

Watch the youtube video I posted below to give you a clever way to talk about media:

 

 

References:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1431045/parentalguide

https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2016/02/12/deadpool-is-not-ok-for-kids-but-it-might-be-just-what-your-teen-needs/

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/deadpool/user-reviews/adult

 

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Andrew Marshall- Husband, Father of two (one on the way), Youth Pastor in Chesapeake, VA, musician, and now author. I wish to share all I have learned with the world and spark creativity wherever I can.

5 reasons Love Listens

Listen

It is very ironic that I am writing a blog about listening since I am a guy and this seems to be a problem for many men.  We have a hard time listening, and it may be a problem for many simply because we would rather be heard then listen.  As Valentine’s Day approaches, take time to listen to those you love, that may be a huge gift in and of itself.

Here are 5 reasons it is more loving to listen then be heard:

1. Love is Patient

We are a very rush rush society, moving from appointment to appointment that we rush past the important people in our lives.  When we take the time to slow down and have true conversations with people, our lives will be rich in love.  It is difficult to slow down and listen to someone else but when you love someone, you will be patient and listen.

2. Love is selfless

Being selfless is extremely difficult for many including myself.  I have found that a great practice of selflessness is listening to others.  When you listen you show you care more about the other person in that moment of time.

3. Love keeps no record of wrongs

When you are in conflict with another person or get into an argument, the last thing you want to do is listen to them and get their side.  You are right and they are wrong and they need to hear what you have to say, right? Wrong!  If we want to practice love, we need to take the path of humility and listen to the other.  What is making them so upset?  Maybe we are wrong for what we did?

4. Love is not rude

You know those people who are always talking over others, loud, and have to bring attention to themselves.  They are rude!  We need to take the road less traveled and listen.  When you let others talk, you will seem like a sincere and caring person, even if you are not.

5. Love never fails

What better way to be there for someone you love then to take some time to listen.  Become dependable by listening to the ones you love and they will truly feel like you will never fail them.

Love listens and this is advice that I need to take myself.  I recently took some time to listen to those I love and heard things that hurt me.  I had to step back and remember that it is not all about me.  I need to go and love better and the first way I will do that is becoming a better listener.

 

12003376_10102235762960458_7453360965180052522_nAndrew Marshall- Husband, Father of two (one on the way), Youth Pastor in Chesapeake, VA, musician, and now author. I wish to share all I have learned with the world and spark creativity wherever I can.