Y612 Blog

Reach for the Psalms!

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  • Weak 40, 121, 142 Worried 37
  • 1.  Alone 27
  • 2.  Afraid 3, 91
  • 3.  Envious 73
  • 4.  Feel like giving up 34, 43
  • 5.  Sad 13
  • 6.  Weak 40, 121, 142
  • 7.  Worried 37
  • 8.  Tempted 141
  • 9.  Unimportant 139
  • 10.  Feel like praising God 96, 100, 145

~Brooke Adair Seals

Do you ever feel sad, alone, worried?  Have a hard time knowing what to do?  Reach for the Psalms!  The book of Psalms in the Bible is a book of prayers and songs, and they embrace the full emotions experienced by their writers, which included Moses, Asaph, Solomon, and mostly David.  It talks about giving praise and giving thanks, of asking forgiveness, overcoming temptation, dealing with discouragement, facing fear, finding guidance, seeking wisdom or gaining courage.  Regardless of what you are going through, it is probably in the Psalms, so when you do, reach for the Bible, find what it is you are dealing with, and read the corresponding Psalm.  I promise that not only will it make you feel better, but it is also a great example of the Bible helping us pray and communicate with God, just by reading his word.  Here is a quick guide to the various Psalms:

Even Super Heroes…

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Elijah was a Super Hero.  He had just called down fire from the sky to devour a whole bull, a huge stone altar, and twelve whole barrels of water!  In a contest with 450 priests of Baal, Elijah had just destroyed them, and proved God was the true God, not Baal.  Then when his nemesis Queen Jezebel called for his head, he shot off like a blur, running through the countryside at inhuman speeds, until he was safe.  What gave this average man these superpower abilities? God of course!  Elijah must have been feeling pretty awesome after that, and I can imagine when he stopped he shouted “Eat my dust Jezebel!”.  Would it surprise you to know that what Elijah actually did was lay down under a tree in the desert, and wish for death?   

Have you ever felt sad for no reason?  Been surrounded by family and friends and felt lonely?  How about at the top of the world one minute and down in the dumps the next?  Felt anxiety that made it difficult to even function?  A lot of people deal with these feelings day to day, and sometimes it is just a normal part of life and being human… but sometimes, when these feelings or behaviors overwhelm continuously, or make it impossible to function, that can be a sign that you are suffering from a mental illness.  Mental illness isn’t anyone’s fault, and in fact many people suffer from mental illness, about one in 5 people, or 20% of the population.  Half of mental illness sufferers have symptoms before the age of fourteen.  Some common mental illnesses are mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety and panic disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD), Autism, Alzheimer’s Disease, Alcoholism, Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders and many more.  You can’t just will it away, and you may feel hopeless and alone, maybe even ashamed…. but you shouldn’t!  It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and not only are your parents there for you, but myself and Autumn are here if you need anything, and most importantly, as cliché as it sounds, so is God.God sent an Angel to Elijah when he lay under the tree wanting to die, and the Angel brought him food and encouraged him.  The Angel didn’t say, “Dude, what the heck?  You just opened a can of Yahweh on those haters but you are so depressed you want to die?”  He just was there for him, he understood, and gave him some food.  Then God himself even appeared to Elijah, to help him out of the depression he was in, and give him instructions for what to do next.  God didn’t chew him out, or give him a hard time.  God understood, being a human is hard, and people suffer from depression, or other mental illnesses.  I’m not saying that when you are down, or suffering from depression, etc, that an Angel will drop in with Whataburger (even though that would be pretty awesome).  But God definitely cares about you and is there for you during those times.  Times when by all logic you should be happy but aren’t.  Times when you are dealing with a difficult life change, or have experienced the loss of a family member or friend.God will be there for you, just as much as he was for Elijah.  You are just as important to him as a Prophet!  Remember that God can “help” you in many ways, like speak to your heart, or give you the strength to talk to someone about your feelings, or the courage to get help from a counselor or doctor.  God can also help you through other people in your life, so when God’s helpers come, let God work through them to be what you need during your struggles. 

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deuteronomy 31:8

~Brooke Seals

Numbers you can call ANYTIME if you just need someone to talk to:

Autumn and Brooke (713) 201-9828

Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html

Depression and Bipolar Support 
800-273-TALK (8255)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week 
http://www.dbsalliance.org

Humility

“God forgive me for eating my little brother’s candy bar,” Jenny mumbled ashamed, head hanging.  “Please help me be a better sister.  God please help me be kinder and more sensitive to others.”  A few feet away stands Brittney, hands on her hips, who prays loudly, “God, you are totes awesome for not making me like other people… cuz like, I’m not like Jenny…. I’m good all the time!  And I’m not like those stupid kids at school, cheating on tests and stuff, or those kids who are smoking pot behind the gym.  I volunteer at church, and collect stickers for orphans, and I’m not slutty like whats-her-face!”

Thank goodness we don’t have to pray out loud right?  Did you know people really used to pray out loud individually during Jesus’ time?  Jesus said that the person that was like Jenny would be justified, or forgiven and right in God’s sight.  So what do you think was wrong with Brittney and her prayer?  Well like the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14, Brittney was guilty of a haughty spirit, or pride.  Jesus said:

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

When you do things for others, or behave the way God wants you to, and receive praise for it, then you are already receiving your reward.  Your reward is the recognition and praise from others.  In Matthew 6 Jesus says that when give to the needy, we shouldn’t let our right hand know what our left hand is doing.  How much more so should others not be notified of what you do, unless you are only doing it to look good?  Take a moment, and think of the last time you did something good for someone else, or sacrificed your own time or money.  Did anyone know?  Would you have done it if no one would ever find out?  If you answered no to that last question, then your reasons for doing good things is the recognition of others.  If others don’t know and reward you with recognition, the Bible says God will reward you.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather God know that I’m trying to live up to Christ, than people know. 

Not only that, but not having humility makes you prideful.  Would you like to be around Brittney all the time?  Not only would she be annoying, but being around her would also make you feel kinda crappy right?  Everyone would be telling her how amazing she was, her head would be getting bigger and bigger, and as she constantly listed all the awesome things she has done, you may feel lame in comparison.  Don’t be a Brittney, be humble like Jenny, and no matter how far you think you have to go, keep trying!

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  Proverbs 16:18

Sometimes you can’t help people knowing the things you do, like if you read in front of the congregation, or sing a solo with the choir.  That doesn’t mean God isn’t happy with your gifts and service, remember it is the condition of your heart like with David.  That is what is important and that is what God sees.  Strive to be part of the body of Christ and someone who loves good for it’s own sake, and who knows their flaws and is actively trying to be better, day by day! 

…Seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29

~Brooke Seals

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Spoon Fed.

You just woke up, and you can hear your belly rumbling as you rub the sleep from your eyes and plop down at the breakfast table.  Mom walks over and grabs your face, and you prepare yourself for a good morning kiss on the cheek.  Instead she tilts your head upwards and in your horror you hear gagging noises and smell waffles and syrup, then you pull away and find yourself backed against the stove.  “Honey, what’s wrong?” Mom says, walking towards you, a confused look on her face, “I’m just trying to give you your breakfast… I thought you liked waffles!”  Your stomach rolls as you realize you were about to get pre-chewed breakfast like a baby bird does, straight from your mother’s mouth!

Wow, that’s nasty.  At least that is what you are probably thinking right now.  Okay I understand baby birds, or animals…. but humans?  Who in their right mind would want to eat regurgitated food?  Well, lots of people when it comes to SPIRITUAL food.  Many Christians prefer God’s Word to be pre-chewed before they swallow it.  Christians like this mean well, but they swallow whatever they are told without checking for themselves what God’s word says, which leads to slow or no spiritual growth.  Spoon feed Christians, also known as Baby Christians, or Immature Christians, are mentioned by Paul in Corinthians: 

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.                                        1 Corinthians 3:2

At a certain point in a Christian’s life, it is expected and even helpful to them to be given spiritual milk, or be spoon fed.  Young children for example cannot read, so of course their parents, teachers, and priests will read them the Bible and teach them what it means, until they are able to do so for themselves.  That is right and proper, as Paul said, they aren’t ready for solid food (AKA reading and understanding scripture on their own).  But Paul was talking about grown adults! 

Too many people assume young adults and teens are either uninterested in, or unable to read the Bible and study and think critically to decipher the meaning for themselves, growing spiritually.  I know from experience, and especially from being around the youth at St. Catherine’s, that you all have what it takes, and I don’t need to always “spoon feed” you, or give you pre-chewed regurgitated spiritual food.  Some things to remember when studying God’s word:

1)     Context is Important
            -Reading the Bible is like time travel
            -Knowing the history and destination help us understand why and how
2)     Read the Bible for Yourself
            -Take notes, research, and discuss with others
3)     You don’t have to be Spoon Fed
            -Never let anyone tell you that you can’t understand scripture for yourself
            -There’s nothing wrong with being taught by others, but questions and debate are good!
4)     The Bible is your story, read from within
            -Allow yourself to be in the Word
            -Let it speak to you where you are in your life Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.          2nd Timothy 2:15-16

Christian literally means Christ like, and we all know we have quite a ways to go to be just like Christ.  Therefore it stands to reason that the whole purpose of Christianity is to grow and mature spiritually.  Being like Christ is our goal, and so is growth!

Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.  Hebrews 6:1

~Brooke Seals

Fear

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.                          

2 Timothy 1:7

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When you get out of bed do you take a little jump, just to make sure that no hands reach out from under it and grab you?  Or avert your eyes whenever you’re around that girl you find so attractive?  Maybe you get shaky when hanging Halloween decorations from high atop a ladder, or the maybe thought of getting a bad grade on a test gives you an anxiety attack.  Fears can come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone is fearful of different things.  During this time of year it is fun to be afraid, but in our life of faith, what does God say about true fear, like the instances just described?

Fear can be the doubt that God won’t protect you, fear can be the doubt that in the end, everything won’t work out.  Fear can also be a realization that we are vulnerable, mortal, and not always in control.  Fear is:  To be afraid of (something or someone); to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant); an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; reason for alarm; a feeling of respect and wonder, reverence and awe, for something very powerful, i.e. God.

So fear can sometimes be a good thing, depending on where it is directed, or how it is triggered.  Being fearful of doing something wrong can be good because it protects you from doing harmful things, or fear of a punishment or a parent can also be good, because it fosters respect for your parent.  Then there is fun fear!  When Autumn and I went to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens last week I loved it, even when I was screaming my head off because zombies were chasing me!  Why could I enjoy being afraid?  Maybe because I knew deep down that I was safe, and that the zombies were really actors.  God should make you feel that way too. 

We have been talking a lot about dominion, the covenants that God made with us, and how we are powerful, unique, and made in his image.  The first part of this verse tells us not to be “afraid”, some translations say “timid”, and that God has given us a spirit of “power”.  The earth and everything in it is our dominion, so remember that promise next time you feel afraid.  Also, as God’s children we have power, there is power in what we say and do, but don’t forget to temper that with the last two things mentioned in that verse, “love” and a “sound mind” (also translated as “good judgment” and “discipline”).  So shape your decisions and actions thoughtfully, and also remembering to love.  That no matter what is happening, however bad things are, or however fearful you can be of a future outcome, God is there and loves you, and in the end this life is just passing, and what matters isn’t what is happening to you, but how you respond, and that you remember God is there:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
 Isaiah 41:10

~Brooke Seals


 

Why we do it . . .

You may be getting ready for school, sports, electives, and the holidays right now.  The last thing on your mind is Youth Group.  Am I right?  Well, Youth Group is important!  I know with life and busy schedules there may not be time to devote to every Youth Group event, but there are many reasons to make an effort to be involved as much as possible:

Service
We are called as Christians to live a life of service.  Jesus told his disciples:

If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. Mark 9:25

Discipleship 
Youth Group is a great place to learn how to disciple others, be leaders, help in ministry, and mentor younger Christians.

Support
Youth Group and Youth Activities build our relationships with God and each other, and lay a great foundation of support and enable us to mentor each other in times of need.

Accountability
Youth Group is a great place to create accountability with the Youth Pastor as well as other youth.  When you have other teens in your life, dealing with the same problems and temptations, it helps to have a safe supportive place where you can have discussions and help each other stay accountable. 

Body of Christ
The universal church, comprising of all Christians regardless of denomination, is often called a body.  The reason being is because we may all have different gifts, but we are also all important to a church functioning properly.  Just as a person might not think their skin is all that important, without it, they are prone to infection and would have all their guts and blood exposed to the world.  The Youth in a church are not only an important part of the church body, but also important to each other as individuals. 

Ministry to Others
Youth Group helps you spread God’s word to your friends by bringing them to Youth Group, as well as modeling what it is to be a Christian.  Matthew 5:16 talks about our light shining to show others Christ, so be the light in the darkness that God asks you to be.  Youth group also provides opportunity for youth to do mission work, and a youth mission trip may also allow us to step out of our comfort zone while in another country, and not only be able to minister to others there, but also get a better understanding of how lucky we are here in America.

Instruction in God’s Word      
Father Mike is one of the best priests I’ve heard at making a sermon relevant to the listener, regardless of age, so you may think you don’t need Youth Group.  The good thing about Youth Group is that we delve into God’s Word together, interact, answer specific questions you guys have, and also make the Bible relevant to you as a teenager in today’s world.

For life AFTER High School
One of the final goals we hope to accomplish with Youth Group, is to prepare you teens for the real world, when you go off to college and start making your life what it will be.  You won’t have your parents making decisions for you, or holding you to your commitments.  So Youth Group is formative and proactive in that you are making sure you put some energy into your own spiritual growth as an individual, not only as a member of your family.  This time in your life is for finding out what your spiritual gifts and talents are, how you work best as a member of your church, and also how you are best fed spiritually.  75% of Youth church goers leave the church after high school, many never to return.  That is why it is so important for you to have your own faith and spiritual growth, not only as an individual, but also with other youth.

I hope I’ve convinced you how important Youth Group is… but if I haven’t, just know that St. Catherine of Sienna’s Youth Program is a place to have tons of fun, and Autumn and I love you guys and want to get to know you all, and help you with your spiritual growth!

~Brooke Seals