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By LeeAnne Unruh
Raising kids is wild country. Untamed, uncultivated, unnerving. From the time a baby is born to the time they are 18 years old, many people have poured into that child. There is an old African Proverb that may be familiar to you that goes, "It takes a village to raise a child."
There is another one by the Kijita tribe that says, "Regardless of a child's biological parents, its upbringing belongs to the community." And in Swahili, they say, "Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world."
I think it's fair to say that we can see that while raising a child, it's the parents that get the first priority of doing that. However, children that are raised up within a community or large family will fare better than those who aren't. I am sure you could rattle off some exceptions, but for the topic at hand, let's stay with the focus that it takes all of us.
There must be something in the water because almost every young couple I know is having a baby this spring/summer! It's wonderful and is a reminder for me that children grow up way too fast! From the time parents begin dreaming about how they will raise their kids, to the time they are actually raised, there’s hardly time to be strategic. You are often so busy in the season, that there hasn’t been a moment to reflect on the effectiveness of said strategy (and that’s assuming there was a strategy from the beginning).
I meet and talk with a lot of young adults. Some are in a solid place where they’ve found footing and are making their way through life, some are in the midst of the decision process and some are very lost and most don’t know they’re very lost. My clarity has gotten razor sharp when it comes to seeing the abundance of life God gives us when we work within his will.
In a conversation I was having yesterday with a young woman, we were discovering in her life how chasing after things of the flesh had only led to pain, even though in the moment it felt as though it would be the only thing that could satisfy or fulfill her.
It's crazy how the enemy distorts, lies and distracts. The very good things that are often either right in front of us or right around the corner are missed because we are so easily misled. The enemy does not want us to live in the blessing God has for us, so he distracts with all different sorts of counterfeit. These are things that seem great, but really aren’t the richness of what God has for you. They are flesh filling desires in which we can never fill of. They only leave us empty or longing for more. Which brings me to my point.
Parents, grandparents and friends....MAKE GOD A PRIORITY. He is the giver of life, the giver of wisdom, the giver all things good. If we do not make it a priority to know him, it will not be a priority for our children to know him. He is the one thing that makes sense in life. He created us, he knows our heart and knows everything about us. Who better to lead us than him?
I can't emphasize enough the difference between young adults that know the Lord and those who don't. Those who know him, are steady, strong and loving. They know that even when things go wrong, they are anchored in him and can trust he will bring them to the other side. They see beyond themselves. They serve and seek to give of themselves. Those that don't know him are tossed around with emotion and panic. They are often self centered, self serving and self driven. When things go wrong, they are unsteady and bring others into their drama. There is no strength here and the enemy has rule and reign. Ya’ll I’m tired of hearing about suicides and lost kids. Parents are broken hearted, young people are silently hurting and THERE IS AN ANSWER!
Please join us in supporting those called to missions. Their impact is near and far. The momentum is carried both in our community and worldwide. The problems of this world that seem unsolvable, will only be solved with the wisdom of God, our heavenly father. He is sovereign, he is peace and mostly, he is love. Join the movement to equip young people to be trained up in the way of the Lord. Support a young adult today.
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We have been working on improving the image of missions. There is a very old image of the word "missions" or "missionary" that we think in today's culture is not accurate anymore. We want to invite you to take another look at what it looks live a life of missions today.
For some of you that are a little more up to date, your next thought may be, "everyone is a missionary." We could not agree with you more. Most of us are called to stay right where we are and share the Gospel locally.
But for those that are called out, away from home, it requires the rest of us to share our stable source of income and dedicated prayer, as we join together in reaching and uniting the WHOLE world in his name.
We have watched some very focused, effective and efficient ministries while working with these young adults and are amazed at their simple, but extremely effective ways of moving unexperienced, but willing hearts into full pursuit of his lost sheep. It is such a great discovery that we want to be sure you see it too!
To see FIRST HAND how the living God is moving today in missions, CLICK HERE.
David Crowder one of God's great musical ministers, has a song. The song is titled, "Come as you are." It came across my Pandora station the other day and I listened. I've heard it a million times, but something made me listen again intently.
In all honesty, at that moment, God gave me a word to share, but since I was driving, I couldn't write it down and I ultimately forgot it. But I didn't forget the song and it's message. That...has stuck with me the past few days.
This morning, one of the young missionaries texted me that someone from her discipleship training school (DTS) last summer had taken his life. My mind raced back to the message. Here are the lyrics:
Come out of sadness from wherever you've been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can't heal
So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You're not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can't cure
Come as you are
Fall in His arms
Come as you are
There's joy for the morning
Oh sinner, be still
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can't heal
My only message today to you is, get out of the way. So many can't/won't come to Jesus because they've been hurt. We say there are no rules, but there are. We say there are no expectations, but there are. We say there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, but we do. We get in the way with our opinions and pride.
NO MORE DEATH. NO MORE DYING. It's enough that the world has sickness and pain. We don't need to help it along. The enemy can only work when we are not tied tightly and securely to God's word.
Cling to His word. Make it a staple and foundation of your daily diet. Our world needs you. You specifically. There is no other you. But he needs you to also let Him lead you.
My prayer today is that we place all our opinions and pride and personal agendas at the feet of Jesus and open our hearts to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Look for the lost. Be available to be used. Set fear aside. Let us move in love. The world needs us. Amen.
At the beginning of this year, shortly after the Parkland shooting, God gave me a word, "ACTIVATE". Other words followed having the same theme..."move, go, no hesitation..."
I know it is common for God to give many people the same words when he wants to communicate, so when I heard of a large group of ministry organizations that got together to form a movement called, "The Call", I felt an incredible rush of excitement run through me. It was one of those moments you remember where you were when you heard/saw it and it completely fills you with a feeling of knowing… or understanding. For me, it was affirmation of the word(s) I had received. It also gave me strength and hope to persevere during a season of doubt. The words on their page said this: "The war on INACTION has begun."
We are living in a time where evil's dastardly plan has included our precious children turning against each other in horrifying violence. School shootings are now commonplace. Shootings aren’t the only example of kids hurting one another. Bullying is rampant. It's so normal that kids don't think they are doing it. Competition, comparison, and judging, all of which have been around, are prevalent and pervasive among our youth. With the help of social media, youth have become willing prisoners to hate, comparison and pride. The message of love is being drowned out.
On any given day, Instagram scrolling can leave a young person feeling inadequate and depressed. And now that we can see into each other’s polished, live and completely edited photo books, it makes the enemy’s sick plan even more efficient and effective. Social media has also allowed messages of warped morals, unrealistic expectations and unreachable standards to dampen joy and confidence. In one ten minute scrolling session, you can be lifted by truth or be crushed by comparison.
This is not what God intended. He has sent us the biggest, most beautiful love letter of all time and we have either not read it, read and rejected it, read it and forgotten it, read it without reverence to it, or read it and added our own amendments to it, changing it to fit our comforts and ideals. His word is flawless. It is chalked full of treasure and truth. His desire is that we will hunger for it and allow it to transform us to be what he intended, before sin entered the equation.
That being said, our children are lost and suffering. With possible good intentions we have allowed God to be one of a long list of things we want to expose our children to so they become well rounded individuals. We want to blameshift when something terrible happens and declare that it must be some evil person or horrible thing. The fact is, our world is terribly broken.
I watched the interrogation of the young man that chose to pick up the gun and kill his fellow classmates at Parkland. While I am aware there is alot of emotion surrounding this evil and painful event, what God showed me in the video was a hurting boy. His parents abandoned him as a child, a second set of parents died and a brother admitting he had been cruel, brought him to tears, sobbing when his visiting brother admitted (confession/repentance) that he had done wrong by not telling him how much he loved him, and then proceeded to hug his brother and tell him he was sorry and he loved him.
Isn't this what we all need? To know we are loved and accepted and cherished? The message (the love letter) is ours to help deliver. Are we delivering it? Are we daily repenting our sins (where we fall short) and forgiving others in theirs?
ACTIVATE...we must. There is no other cure. My prayer for anyone who has read this far, is that God will convict you to the core, that he is real, that he is God and that he loves you and requires much from you. From there, I pray that you rise like never before. That you choose to bravely activate all the gifts he has gifted to only you, and use them to love his world the way he loves you. He has asked us to love him, love his people, make him known.
I HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE FOR YEARS NOW IN SOME CAPACITY OR ANOTHER. OVER TIME, IT TENDS TO OFFER PERSPECTIVE. IN EARLY YEARS, IT WAS AS A STAY AT HOME MOM. MAINLY OVERSEEING ACTIVITIES, KEEPING KIDS ALIVE AND FED AND TEACHING MUCH NEEDED MORAL VALUES. LATER, I BECAME A TEACHER AND ALTHOUGH THE ABOVE MENTIONED WERE STILL PART OF MY DUTIES, ADDED TO THEM WERE, COUNSELING, READING, WRITING, HISTORY, TIME MANAGEMENT, PROCESSING AND APPLICATION SKILLS.
AS I ADDED TO MY TITLE, COACH/VOLUNTEER YOUTH LEADER, I ADDED EVEN MORE TOOLS TO MY BELT AND GAINED MORE PERSPECTIVE. I LEARNED DIFFERENT THINGS DURING THIS TIME, BECAUSE IN THESE ROLES IT ALLOWED FOR MORE ONE ON ONE AND INTIMATE SETTINGS, SUCH AS SMALL GROUPS, CAR RIDES AND LATE NIGHT TALKS.
I LEARNED THAT YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE MORE GOING ON THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS THAN WE EVER GIVE THEM CREDIT FOR. I LEARNED THAT THEY HAVE STRONG OPINIONS THAT NEED GUIDED AND THAT THEY NEED LOVE. I SAW THAT THEY ARE CONSTANTLY PROCESSING WHAT THEY SEE THEIR PARENTS DO, WHAT THEIR PEERS DO, WHAT THEY SEE SOCIETY DO AND WHAT THEY SEE THE CHURCH DO.
NOW IN MY ROLE AT LCI, I HAVE A VERY INTERESTING SEAT WHERE I AM GIVEN YET ANOTHER VIEW INTO THESE BEAUTIFUL MINDS AND HEARTS. I SEE PASSION LIKE NEVER BEFORE. I SEE YOUNG ADULTS THAT ARE SO IN TUNE WITH THE WORLD AROUND THEM THAT THEY EITHER COME PASSIONATE ABOUT HOW THEY CAN ADD TO THE GOOD THEY SEE, OR THEY FALL PREY TO IT'S LURE OF DANGEROUS AND INTOXICATING PROMISES THAT LEAVE THEM EMPTY.
I SEE THEM WAKING UP TO FIND THEMSELVES IN UNFULFILLING CAREERS AND MARRIAGES THEY WEREN'T READY FOR. I SEE THEM TRYING TO TAME THE BEAST OF SELF INDULGENCE WITH MORE THINGS THAT TRY AND FILL THE GOD SIZED HOLE IN THEIR HEART. THEY LOOK TO DRUGS, ALCOHOL, SHOPPING, SCROLLING SOCIAL MEDIA, DREAMING OF PINTEREST PARTIES, INSTAGRAM BODIES AND LIFESTYLES THAT AGAIN, PROMISE MORE THAN THEY CAN DELIVER. (DISCLAIMER: I'M NOT PROMOTING OR JUDGING AGAINST ANY OF THE ABOVE...JUST STATING THEY CAN BECOME IDOLS).
I AM ABSOLUTELY AMAZED BY THE TRANSFORMATIONS I SEE COMING OUT OF DISCIPLESHIP PROGRAMS SUCH AS THE ONE YWAM (YOUTH WITH A MISSION) OFFERS. BECAUSE OF THIS, I CAN'T HELP BUT THINK ABOUT HOW I CAN IMPROVE MY ROLE AND STEP UP MY GAME AS FAR AS HOW I CAN ASSIST THIS MOVEMENT.
THERE ARE TWO CLEAR GROUPS THAT I HAVE SEEN RISING AMONG YOUNG ADULTS. ONE IS A CROWD THAT IS SEEMINGLY IN A TRANCE. THEY ARE FOLLOWING PEOPLE AND TRENDS THAT PROMOTE SELF FOCUS, ISOLATION AND INTOLLERANCE. ONCE IS A CROWD LEARNING TO HEAR GOD'S VOICE AND THEN WAITING ON HIM TO LEAD THEM TOWARDS SELFLESS LOVE, SERVICE, COMMUNITY AND COMPASSION.
CONCERNING THE LATTER GROUP, I'VE BEEN AMAZED AT WHAT I AM SEEING. I SEE PEOPLE THAT WERE REALLY BROKEN, BECOME HEALED IN A WAY THAT I'VE NEVER SEEN A REHAB OR COUNSELING CENTER DO. I'VE SEEN YOUNG PEOPLE THAT HAD BEEN RUDE AND DISMISSIVE, BECOME KIND AND INCLUSIVE. I KNOW YOU KNOW IT'S RARE AT THIS AGE TO SEE SELFLESSNESS. WE DON'T TEND TO GROW OUT OF THAT FOR YEARS. GENERALLY AS YOUNG ADULTS, WE ARE CHOOSING OUR CAREERS FOR OUR OWN SELFISH AMBITIONS, GOING TO MOVIES/SHOPPING/OUT TO EAT FOR SELF FULFILLMENT, PLANNING A FAMILY, BUYING A HOUSE, A CAR, TAKING ENDLESS VACATIONS ALL FOR SELF-FULFILLING REASONS. GIVING AND SERVING RARELY ENTERING THEIR THOUGHTS, BUT FOR A FEW BOXES OF GIRL SCOUT COOKIES. EVEN ATTENDING CHURCH IS DONE WITH A CONSUMER MENTALITY.
NOW I AM SEEING YOUNG PEOPLE MAKE CAREER CHOICES AFTER MUCH PRAYER AND DISCERNMENT, CHOOSE HUSBANDS/WIVES IN THE SAME WAY, CONSIDER ADOPTION FROM 3RD WORLD OR LOCAL AGENCIES, BUY HOUSES WITH THE PLAN OF HOW THEY CAN BEST LOVE/SERVE THEIR NEIGHBORS AND NOT ONLY JOIN CHURCHES, BUT FLOURISH AT THEM. THEY ARE JOINING SMALL GROUPS, LEADING THEM, VOLUNTEERING, GIVING, SENDING AND SERVING.
HOW CAN WE HELP THIS MOVEMENT CONTINUE? HOW CAN WE CONTINUE TO SEE SEEDS SOWN, FLOURISH, GROW AND SPREAD? I SEE SEVERAL WAYS TO FORWARD THIS NEW AND PROMISING MOVEMENT TOWARD GOD.
WE CAN ENCOURAGE AND CHEER ON THOSE HEADING THE RIGHT WAY. WE CAN FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THOSE THAT HAVE CHOSEN TO HEAD INTO MISSIONS TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY, AND WE CAN ENCOURAGE OTHER PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS AND ADULTS TO DO THE SAME. I THINK WE UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPACT WE CAN HAVE, DOING SEEMINGLY SMALL THINGS.
THAT SAID, I CHALLENGE EACH OF YOU TO DO THE ABOVE TODAY AND EVERYDAY. ENCOURAGE YOUNG ADULTS WHO ARE CHOOSING FOR THE GOOD AND LOVE THE ONES THAT ARE STRUGGLING TO FIND THEIR WAY. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT WRITE OFF THE STRUGGLERS. THEY WILL FIND THEIR WAY. JUST KEEP SOWING THE SEEDS OF LOVE AND THEY'LL ALL MAKE THEIR WAY THERE. LOVE, NOT JUDGMENT OR BELITTLEMENT WILL LEAD TO GOD. AMEN.
Here’s the thing. That’s where satan wants us. He want us to believe that there is nothing more to do, he wants us to believe there is no hope and that there are just some that we are going to lose. We can get caught believing it because we’ve seen it happen. We’ve seen some that we’ve seemingly lost. BUT…where I am at right now, I refuse to believe those lies. Because THAT is what they are, lies.
We KNOW that in Christ, there is hope. We KNOW there is freedom. We KNOW that he can and will BREAK THE CHAINS. How do we know this? Because he says so. Let’s just go into scripture and stand on these promises now together. I would really like to take a minute in this blog and collectively pray for not only this young girl, but for all our kids that are lost and struggling. Because if we believe what we say we do, then we KNOW the power that is in your word.
“Lip service to God doesn’t change lives or nations.” Loren Cunningham (The Book that transforms Nations)
Why is it such a big deal to read our Bibles? The question can be asked to everyone, but it will be very telling how we come back at it and from what perspective. To cut to the quick, the obvious question needs to be posed. Do we believe that the Bible is God inspired, that it is His word? If the answer is no, then it would become clear why we have no interest in investigating any further, which is ok and leads to other discussions. But if the answer is yes, then the sequential question would then be, why aren’t we reading it?
Now I have never been engaged, but recently I finished a devotional about pursuing God. There was one day of this devotional that I had an epiphany over!
We are the bride of Christ. When we pass and go to heaven, it’s our marriage day to Jesus. This is the epiphany, so while we are on earth, we are in our engagement phase of our relationship with God. We need to look at our relationship with God as a big engagement in the steps of getting married.
Now I’m preaching to myself here. I have not been living as though I was engaged to God. I pushed him to the side and let someone else take his place. But after reading that, it really hit home for me. I don’t think when you’re engaged to someone that you don’t want to spend time with them or include them in your life, that would make for one awkward marriage. While here on earth, we need to act as though we are in our engagement to God. Invite him in your every day things. Include him when you go out or are spending time alone. The great thing about God is that he doesn’t force himself on us or in our life, he wants to be invited in.
So start pursuing God and enjoy your engagement to Him!
The Pursuit Devotional :click on the link to check out the devotional!
Returning from my mission in Thailand, I sit here in awe, trying to process just how amazing it really was. People have asked me to put it in words. And each time I try, I simply can’t. There are few words that I can use, but they all fall short of what I really experienced. As I try and reflect upon all the incredible things God showed me, the thing I felt most connected to was the indescribable joy that comes out of authentic relationship with others. I saw here a people that longed to love. Longed for relationship. I had the privilege to meet an authentic and raw people. People who have wronged and been wronged. But no matter the circumstances, no matter the pain, all were connected through love. We were not meant to go though this alone, we were called to love God and love each other. And when you have relationship with the almighty creator, your heart will be softened to experience the love that we were intended to feel. One of the biggest things God has revealed to me recently is that love has no language barrier. No matter if you are in Thailand, Africa or a local coffee shop, Love is universal. No words required. A force that though only an almighty God can we attain it’s authenticity at full. Every day is OUR mission, now go and spread love to all nations!
We often think of the enemy as Hollywood has characterized him as. An ugly guy with red horns. But that isn’t how he is. He can be something so beautiful that will make people think “Could this be from God?”. He’s the father of lies (John 8:44) and by looking beautiful is how he tricks us. I’m speaking from experience here. I have learned a lot more than I have ever before. It is so important to back everything up with scriptures to not fall into the same messy pit as I just came out of.
Two months before my last YWAM trip, I met someone. In my eyes, he could have been sent from God to me and I honestly believed it. I thought I saw the red-flags but I really didn’t. I ignored them and tried to justify them or even make excuses for them. I was so enticed by this person that I let it drive friends away and even put a wedge between my family. I started to backtrack from all the progress I made with God. I started to lie and become someone I was never suppose to be. I turned into someone completely other than me. I wasn’t following God or being who He called me to be, and I had put Him on the back burner. I was trying to be my own god. Even on the YWAM trip, many told me that this person could not possibly be what God wanted for me, but I didn’t listen. Instead, I would get angry and ignore their words. The grip that the enemy had on me, everyone could see but me. Hindsight is 20-20, right?
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