Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

My taste in movies is pretty eclectic, but I’m a big fan of the Disney movie, Iron Will. There is a scene at the end of the movie that really inspires me and reminds me what a huge impact those who surround us, who believe in us and who are cheering us on have in our lives. I am reminded of “the great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Scripture – those saints that have gone before us and I believe are cheering us on.

Last Sunday I had separate moments as a dad and a youth pastor that inspired me anew to be a passionate cheerleader for every person I can to run well and to finish strong. If you are interested, read on.

Preaching on Sunday I looked into the audience wondering if my children would be there. I hadn’t asked them to be. I hadn’t even thought of it until I sat down. But I was excited to be bringing the Word and couldn’t help but wonder. After all, there were two services offered that hour. And they had heard me preach dozens and dozens of times before. Why would they come?

Our executive minister was up before me and she complimented my family in her remarks and had each of the four who were in Tulsa stand. They were all there – and so were others. My eldest was there with her husband. A boyfriend had driven from Stillwater to hear me. Good family friends had come across town, missing attending their own service to sit with my family. A young adult from a former youth group was there. Other friends who normally attend a different service were there. It caught me by surprise, but I found myself so encouraged. I was humbled and grateful that my family and friends had changed their routine to say with their actions, “I believe in you!”

After the services, we had a leaders meeting for all those with whom we partner in youth ministry. As I looked across the room and saw table after table of young adults to aging Boomers who have invested themselves in the lives of teens, I was moved. Surrounding our youth were these adults who love them, who support them, who call them to walk with Jesus, and who run the race with them focusing their eyes on the finish line. Weekly, even daily, this group of men and women proves by their actions to our young people “I believe in you!”

That afternoon I went to the baptism of two young men. Friends, church members, other disciples surrounded the pool as these two proclaimed their turning from sin and their trust in Jesus. Those surrounding the young men called out words of affirmation and promises to continue to walk with them. Their attendance said “I believe in you” and their words echoed “I will be there for you.” I knew…and so did they…that there would be days (like in the story of Iron Will) where we would need each other for the strenght to take the next step, to persevere, to move toward the finish line.

Who are you surrounding? Who are you cheering on? Who have you told this week with your actions “i believe in you!” And who were some of those who were there for you?

My 30s were an incredible decade for me, bursting with fruit and influence and opportunity. The ripples of that decade continue to bring me joy almost daily.

If I look back to my 20s, they were hard but rich as I sank my roots deep in the Lord and in understanding a relational, discipleship approach to youth ministry. Fruit from that decade continues to encourage my heart as well.

My 40s have brought opportunity and fruit, but they have been really hard years, punctuated by pain. Some of the pain has been needed pruning. Some has been my own failures and disappointment. Some has been disillusionment. Some has come from standing up, sometimes alone, to wickedness. Some has been the violent storms of others lashing out as they worked through their own issues and damage. And some has been the dismissive indifference of those who think that going gray means becoming irrelevant.

This morning I was thinking all these things and asking the Lord if I could just skip the rest of the 40s and begin my 50s early. And He seemed to say, “Read Psalm 92.”

Before I quote from Psalm 92, let me say that I have asked the Lord in recent weeks to give me an image for this season of our youth ministry. I have received the word “Refresh” and the picture from Psalm 1 of the tree planted by streams of living water that brings forth fruit in its season. That is my context for reading Psalm 92 this morning.

Psalm 92:12-15. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'”

Staying fresh and green with God as my Rock…