Thursday, June 26, 2014

Retreating with JESUS


Why do I go on retreats? I go on retreats to build a stronger relationship with Jesus. It helps me to see that there is greater good in everybody. Retreats help me to have an impact on my friends and family. They also help me to make friends and encourage them, especially when it’s someone new. Picture yourself as that boy or girl who came to the retreat, but didn’t know anybody or what was going on. I would feel like a stranger. Even though sometimes it’s hard to greet new people because it might get awkward, it’s important to do more than just say “Hi!” We want to make them feel like they belong just like the way Jesus invites us to know Him better.



The most important reason is to hear the Message of Jesus being taught by an amazing Youth Pastor. I learn things like, right at this time and this moment Jesus is celebrating with you and is proud of the commitment you have made to yourself and Him. He is making us His disciples because He wants us to focus on following His path. The cool thing is that we can trust Him with our safety, guidance, and the providence we need. This is amazing because He has made each one of us uniquely so we can do different things. He has given us the ability to do them. He definitely did not make a mistake when He created you. He made us for a purpose that is understandable. We should not be ashamed to walk around and show our beautiful personality traits that He’s given us. He did all this for us because He loves us all.



We also do service projects at retreats and they help me realize that there is a bigger picture when you’re doing the work. The big picture is to glorify the one true King. I love the teamwork when everybody is willing to step up and participate. One of the things I see on everybody’s faces is their smiles. They’re saying, “Jesus, I am here to do the work you have asked me to do with a grateful attitude!” With more people the work is done easy and fast.



I go on retreats so I can tell my story. I also go to inspire the people around me. Jesus wants me to show my true identity to show I can do anything with His help. I just have to believe that I am in good hands. One last reason why I go is because I want to shine for God and others! So then they can shine the Light of Jesus everywhere they go. I know I can do this because with God all things are possible.        

----Rebekah Patterson, 9th Grade

Thursday, June 19, 2014

AWANA Impact


Every year in June, I find myself in the bittersweet season of AWANA. It’s such a relief to be able to relax after club is over for the year, but at the same time I miss it. There’s no better way to spend a Wednesday night than watching some amazing volunteers work with the great kids that come week after week.



As you learn at every AWANA training, AWANA is built on three things. First and foremost is the Gospel, followed by Scripture memorization and fun! This year it has been amazing to see these 3 elements play out in our own club.

The Gospel: There was the Sparky (K-2nd grades) who, despite not attending a church, has come for almost two years and recently accepted Jesus as his Savior! There was the T&T (3rd-5th grades) clubber, who was invited by a school friend, and believed in Jesus after attending for just two weeks! These are just two stories. Throughout this year, we have seen child after child believe that Christ died for their sins.



Scripture Memorization: I thought about adding up the number of verses learned this past year and quickly realized the number is far too large to calculate. Let’s just say it is in the thousands. Each week parents, volunteers and kids work together to instill God’s Word into the hearts of every clubber. Through AWANA, kids are being discipled and their minds are being transformed by God’s Word instead of being conformed to this world.



Fun: This is what brings many of the kids (and volunteers) back each week. Walking through the various clubs and watching the kids enjoy the night is such a blessing to me personally. Seeing the Cubbies (3 and 4 year olds) faces light up when Cubbie Bear pops up from behind the screen during puppet time is priceless. It’s great getting to watch the Sparks in the Reward Room making crafts or playing with Legos after finishing their sections. Seeing the sweat dripping off the foreheads of T&Ters (and often their leaders) as they walk out of the Gym after game time is awesome.



We are blessed at Salem First Baptist to have great people working in AWANA and every year and I love getting to serve with them. AWANA could not happen every week without these fantastic volunteers who are committed to coming to club every week to serve. I know that it is not always easy and that they go home tired each week, but their commitment to the kids and to serving where God has called them brings them back each week. I know that they are making an impact that will last far beyond this year of club and that there are many, many faces that we will see in Heaven because of their ministry in AWANA.



--Jamie Brulotte, AWANA Commander

 

                            First Baptist website: www.fbcsalem.org

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Waiting Is Hard


 I recently had a conversation with a friend about the ridiculous attitude I have when I have to wait for my faucet; you know, the one in my house that I didn't have to pump or even go out to the well to draw up, just the regular faucet in the comfort of my own kitchen when it takes so long to fill up a pot of water.  Silly, right?  But I find in this world where we have access to pretty much everything in a flash that this idea of waiting seems almost unheard of.  So when my husband recently lost his job after 9 1/2 years we thought, "Certainly he will get another one in no time."  God has other plans.
                 Here we are several months later and still no new job.  Psalm 27:14 has come to mind many times:  "Wait on the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."  What does this look like in this world?  Am I a person who is really willing to wait on the Lord?  I have to admit that God has been consistently teaching me patience, from my children, to homeschooling, to trying to learn submission.  It all seems to boil down to waiting on God to work and me not trying to push things through in my time.
                 I have been challenged this past year to not just wait on the Lord but to trust Him.  I suppose that's a part of waiting, isn't it?  Trusting that God has everything in control and that He will "work all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose."  But that's just the thing, it has to be according to His purpose, not mine.  I think we sometimes miss that part.  We love the first part of that verse, but it's really the second part that drives the first.  According to HIS purpose.  Whatever that purpose may be, however inconvenient to my personal preferences, however hard, wherever it may take me.  His purpose, not mine!  So, I need to wait.
                God is good.  He is faithful.  He is the Almighty!  The Maker of the universe, the One who holds all things together!  The One who knit me together and knew the number of my days before one of them came to be!  I don’t want to miss the blessings He has planned because I failed to trust Him.  I want to say, "Yes, Lord, Your will be done and I will wait on You because I know Your way is so much better than anything I could have ever imagined! I don't want anything apart from Your perfect will!"  Because if it isn't from His hand, it isn't worth having.
                And so, I wait and I trust and I remind myself of who He is, of His promises.  I remind myself of the fact that He is forever faithful, He is perfect, He is good, He is just and He loves me with a never ending love.  He loves you like that too!  Why would we doubt or ever want to rush something that Awesome!  Lord, take my heart, my mind, my life!  They’re yours!  Your will be done!

Still waiting in Him,
Charity Jenkins