Availability and vulnerability

Over lunch recently a friend and I were talking about “Rules of Life” that is rhythms we need in our lives that lead to a fuller life with God and with others.

My friend suggested two words for a rule for life – availability and vulnerability. She discovered they are words the Northumbria Community are seeking to live out in their context.

I’ve been pondering the power of these two “rules” – availability and vulnerability.
Availability to God and others.
Vulnerability to God and others.

I really like them. The more I ponder the more it invites me into a richer community with God and others.

These two postures, availability and vulnerability, could be especially helpful to the millennial generation (Here is a previous post about millennials). If you try to fake availability and vulnerability it won’t get you very far at all and life will stay on the surface. If you start plunging into availability and vulnerability it is contagious, particularly to millennials seeking something real.

I also like how having just these two words for a “rule of life” allows rhythms to look different for each person and in different seasons. What availability and vulnerability look like for me will be different than what they look like for you. They likely will look different in this season compared to the next season.

Availability and vulnerability.
Launch off these two words and ponder what they would mean for our discipleship, our leadership, our church, our life in Christian community….
Powerful right?!

Let’s think about them in the life of Jesus.

Jesus and availability

Jesus, fully available to God – Jesus took time to listen to the Father (e.g. Mark 1:35), Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (e.g. John 5:19) and Jesus came to earth to do God’s will not His own (e.g. John 6:38). What does it look like for you to put yourself in places and in the posture where you are fully available to God?

Jesus, available to others – We see this throughout Jesus’ life in the Gospel – Jesus ignoring His hunger and thirst to speak to the woman at the well (John 4:4-26), Jesus stopping to talk to the woman who was healed from touching His cloak (Mark 5:25-34), Jesus stopping for the blind bagger on the side of the road (Mark 10:46-52), Jesus stopping to bring Zacchaeus down from the tree and go to his house (Luke 19:1-10), Jesus taking time with the twelve disciples even inviting them to group time away from the crowds (e.g. Mark 6:31). The examples here could go on and on. Jesus was available to others, served others, yet was not ruled by others. Jesus was ruled by God, available to God and that overflowed into availability to others. God made Himself fully available to us in Christ. God continues to make Himself available to others through His Holy Spirit in you, if you are willing and cooperate.

Jesus and vulnerability

Jesus, vulnerable to God – Jesus did not hide His feelings, confusion and disappoint from God. Think of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus asked the Father – “Really? Isn’t their any other way? Do I really have to drink this cup?” (Paraphrase of Matthew 26: 39, 42). Jesus let it be known when God felt distant as He hung on the cross “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46) How can you enter a new level of vulnerability with God?

Jesus, vulnerable to others – Jesus, the Son of God, entrusted Himself to human beings. Jesus, the Son of God, depended on us and shared His heart and life with others. Jesus depended on others for food and hospitality (e.g. Mark 15:41), Jesus let his disciples in on what was coming during the last supper (Matthew 26:17-30), in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) Jesus invited others into his anguish (even though they weren’t there for him at this moment), Jesus entrusted the Kingdom message to the disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus entrusted His own fate into the religious rulers and political rulers of his day (Jesus before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the guards) and the ultimate vulnerability, Jesus hung naked on a cross, exposed and tortured for us all. (John 19:17-30)
If Jesus, the Son of God, entrusted His life, heart and message to humans, even while knowing they would disappoint and fail Him to a certain degree, surely you and I can open our heart and life to others more.

Availability and vulnerability in our lives
Ponder how they are key to opening the way to more, to deeper community and relationship with God and with others.

What does it look like for you in this season to lean into greater availability and vulnerability with God and others? I don’t want to prescribe specifics, as it’s going to look a little different for all of us. Instead I want to invite you to reflect deeply on what it means for you to become available and vulnerable to God and others. I am asking myself these same questions.

Availability in our lives
Availability to God – How could you put yourself in environments where you are ready to listen and respond to God? What is the posture of your heart towards God in this season?

Availability to others – Are there times when you can give yourself to others’ agenda instead of your own agenda? Are you ready to pay attention to nudges from the Holy Spirit? Who needs you to listen generously to them? Who could you create space for in your life? As you go through your day are you prepared to stop and be interrupted? Are you available to only those you deem like you or available to whomever God chooses?

Vulnerability in our lives
Vulnerability is not over-sharing – that is just attention seeking. Vulnerability is getting rid of pretenses and being your real self. Being real about what is happening in your life, church, ministry, community… It is not pretending current reality is better or worse than it really is.

Vulnerable to God – When is the last time you poured out your heart to God? Do you put on an “air” of pretenses in your prayers? Have you told God what you really think – about life, about Him? Have you sat in silence and allowed God to examine your heart and reveal what you’ve been trying to ignore or hide? Are you allowing the Lord to speak to you? Are you willing and ready to receive from the Lord?

Vulnerable to others – Have you invited others in? Have you asked others to help you? Who knows your story? Who knows exactly “where you are at” in this season?
C.S. Lewis has said “… your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses?”
Will you be available and vulnerable to them? It will change our neighbourhoods, it will change our world.

I’m on a journey to be available and vulnerable to God and others in my neighbourhood. How about you?
-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood

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Millennials value authenticity. So what?

I have heard for a while now that millennials (born 1980-2000) highly value authenticity, transparency and vulnerability. I’ve been pondering with some others (like the group of millennials that make up my advisory team, the Y&F Working Group, and our millennial summer student) what this means. Here are some of our thoughts.

• Millennials aren’t staying away from church because they’re not interested in spiritual things. They are staying away because the church doesn’t jive with their values. They highly value authenticity in themselves. Rather than “hang-out” somewhere or with a group of people that don’t match their values, they stay away.

• Gimmicks won’t work with millennials. They see right through them and are suspicious of churches. They are watching for any hint of bait and switches from the start. The free gift for filling out the visitor card will just make them want to fill out the visitor card less. Just give them the real reason, the WHY, behind why they should fill in the visitor card, give money, be a part of an event…

• Millennials get excited (expressing itself in multiple hashtags or Instagram pictures of them jumping up in the air) when a group of people start making a real difference in the world. Hmmm….didn’t Jesus come bringing His Kingdom that rights wrongs, heals brokenness, corrects injustices and frees the oppressed.

• If you don’t have places in your church for people to find safe, authentic community where they can be real with each other about life, millennials won’t stick around long.

• Millennials like to know they are getting the real you, especially if you are one of the upfront leaders. Share yourself, share stories and be vulnerable – from the stage, on social media and in community. It has stuck with me that a millennial told me they were at a leadership event where they were talking to one of the “known”, key leaders. They’d asked this key leader how they were doing and they responded with an over the top “Great…” explaining how well things were going. This millennial said they were two steps away when that key leader started saying to someone else how tired they were in this season. That was all it took for that millennial to be completely turned off that leader.

• Millennials are open to intergenerational relationships that talk about real life and where they can see real life lived out. They are not just looking to hang out with their own age group, but especially value spending time with anyone that will listen, value their thoughts and opinions and be vulnerable back.

• Millennials value experiences, because experiences are authentic. You are experiencing the thrill/emotion/newness for yourself and no one can take that away.

• Millennials look for character, especially in their leaders. Character is revealed over time as they see their leaders in various situations and settings. In a class I teach to both undergrad and graduate students (mostly millennials in the class), I set-up a debate arguing for either competence or character in leadership. While the obvious answer is we absolutely need both, it was clear the millennials highly valued character.

• Millennials are interested in getting to know the real Jesus, not the Jesus constructed by an institution. They want to see a Jesus that works and makes a significant difference here and now.

Church is completely foreign to most millennials, and so can feel inauthentic because it is so outside their normative experience.

Help us out – what are the implications of these things? How do we use this awareness to connect with millennials?

-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood

who-are-millennials

(Source: Odyssey)

8 reasons you should get your kids & youth involved with camp

I grew up going to camp, camping with my family and then working at camps. When I think back to summers they are filled with memories of campfire songs, canoe tipping adventures, leadership lessons learned on a long hike up a mountain, swatting blackflies and deep conversations as the last embers from a fire burned out.

Here are 8 reasons to get your kids & youth involved with camp – whether you are a parent, youth leader, pastor or someone that wants to invest wisely in the next generation.

1. Camp gets personal – Camp allows an opportunity for a kid’s faith to become their own, as they are away from their parents, home church and usual environment. They are encouraged to listen for and respond to God in fresh ways for themselves.

2. Camp is a confidence builder – At camp you are thrown into trying new activities encouraged to use your gifts and skills in new ways. Without parents and siblings there, kids have to figure it out for themselves and dig deep to find their own inner strength. Kids receive lots of support and encouragement from staff as they try out their independence in new ways.

3. Camp is a memory creator – Stories and experiences from camp stick. Talk to anyone that went to camp as a kid and they will still have stories to tell and lessons to shared from camp.

4. Camp invites simplicity – In today’s complex world camp is a great get away. It allows the space and environment for kids/youth to reconnect with creation, with others, and with God.

5. Camp provides role models – Camp staff are amazing people for kids to look up to as they see faith lived out within the day-to-day community of camp.

6. Camp promotes community – Camp is an accelerated bonding experience. I’ve seen so many kids arrive on the first day of camp unsure, shy, feeling like they don’t know any one and then by the end of the camp they have a best friend(s) for life. Parents/leaders we need to find ways to help these kids/youth continue these connections after camp and have community all year long with others who are exploring Jesus.

7. Camps rock at leadership development – Camps are always identifying kids, youth and young adult who can be leaders. They give these young leaders amazing training from a young age, give them real practice in trying out their leadership skills and mentor them along the way. Camps are exceptional incubators for leadership development.

8. Camps are an amazing deal – Seriously, they provide: food, cabins, programming, activities (amazing ones) and spiritual influence every day. Camps do a lot with our money.

Next week I’m speaking at one our camps and I can’t wait to be back at camp!
In Atlantic Canada there are 14 CABC camps spread around our four provinces. You can find the list of camps with a link to each of their websites HERE.
There are lots of other great camps too.

Ok, as a bonus for those of you who have read to the very end of this blog, I will let one of my camp stories out of the bag. I have ended up with a few nicknames over the years, one is “Bulldozer.” This nickname emerged after a camp retreat with some youth. Some of our girls invented a new camp game. You know the slippery, pee proof mattresses they tend to have at camps? They are really slippery, especially on laminate click flooring! The invented game was to run the first part of the hallway with the mattress in your hands and then to jump onto the mattress seeing how far down the hallway you could slide. The person to make the mattress go the furthest would be the winner. Now, I have a competitive streak that I know I have to keep in check. With the youth spurring me on, I lined up to take my turn intent on getting the record for the farthest mattress slide. The youth were all watching, their faces peeking out of the dorm rooms that lined the hallway. I gave it my all, starting my sprint down the hallway. Just then one of our sweet youth, who happens to be of small stature, stepped out into the hallway. Here is where the version of the story differ. I recall sticking my arm out to protect the youth from a head-on collision with me. The youths’ recollection is me pushing the youth out of the way, so nothing would get in the way of my mattress run. In either version the youth went flying backwards, landing on her back. Thankful she was ok, no injuries. From that moment forward the youth started calling me “Bulldozer.” For the record, I did not win the mattress slide competition. I did learn important lessons that day about letting youth invent games & lead, about the strength of my competitive nature and about humility each time I’m called “Bulldozer.”

Create your own memories and nicknames – get to camp!

-Renée (a.k.a. Bulldozer) @r_embree #1neighbourhood

Vacationing Well

I’m not know for my rest and relaxation skills.
After a fun weekend of hanging out together a friend said “Renée, you should have a warning sticker on you that says ‘Warning: Highly Active Person.’” My idea of a great vacation is more along the lines of how many miles we can canoe or hike then it is how much lying on the beach we can do. I have never been accused of being a slacker, I have fairly been accused of being driven. You get the picture. I tend to work hard and play hard.
I don’t think I’m the only one.
I’ve observed leader and ministry types, in particular, can find vacationing well particularly difficult.

Slowly, but surely over the last ten years, God’s been teaching me what it means to rest and Sabbath well, including vacationing!
I wrote a thesis on a theology of play. Yes, I get the irony of writing a 170 page thesis on play. Yet, it was what I needed to convince my brain of how good, important and holy play and vacation is in our lives. It has taken longer for the practices to work their way into my heart and life.

Play and vacation may look different for all of us, but we need it! I won’t launch into my thesis here, suffice to say it is good and it is holy. God invites you to delight in all that is good. God invites you to times of retreat and rest.

Here are some suggestions on how to vacation well.

1. Hand-off: As much as possible make a plan for things to be covered at work while you are away. It takes effort to make this plan, but it’ll give you greater peace of mind while you are away and make it easier when you come back. This can be challenging for Pastors and in particular Associate Pastors, but it is worth the effort.

2. Get away from technology: Being plugged-in all the time keeps us alert and “on.” It is too easy to notice something going on at work that we think we need to respond to quickly. Loose the phone, email and even watch. I really enjoy losing my watch on vacation and going by the schedule of those around me or by when my body tells me I’m hungry or tired. Consider whether you need to loose Netflix and social media for vacation too.

3. Give time for de-compression: I’ve noticed it takes me a few days to unwind and get in vacation mode. Those first 2-3 days of vacation are essential in setting the tone for vacation and helping me unplug. For me I’ve found I have to be busy those first few days doing something active (e.g. hiking) or odd jobs (different than my work jobs, work on the house/yard etc.). If I just do nothing in the first few days I go crazy and conclude vacation is not for me.

4. Give time for re-entry: It can feel like hitting a brick wall when I come back after vacation. I’m learning to give myself grace and a few days to get back in the swing of things. On your email/phone vacation reply say you’ll be returning messages starting a couple days after you return from vacation to take the pressure off yourself. Try to leave the first few days back at work meeting free to give yourself time to get back up to speed and your head around work again.

5. Do something different: Use vacation to get up to different activities than you usually do. For me that means getting away from a desk and getting outside in creation and around family/friends. If you build houses for your work it is not a vacation to work on your own house. Give your body/mind a break and do something different. I really enjoy hiking, paddling or those sort of activities on vacation because it engages my body and takes my mind away from work and allows my thoughts to wander.

6. Get around people that refuel you: Spend time with those you care about and bring you life. Catch up with an old friend. Plan a meal, hike or visit with people you’ve been wanting to connect with more. Spend time with that person who makes you feel encouraged and heard.

7. Celebrate and enjoy the good around you: Enjoy the simplest of gifts from God – good food, fun music, play sports that give you joy, read things that refresh your soul, enjoy deep conversations, laugh…

8. Change up your spiritual disciplines during vacation: Usually I’m a faithful journaler and Bible reader. During vacation I change it up.
Try
• Listening to new worship music
• Checking out a different church near where you are vacationing
• Going through the alphabet and naming all the things you are thankful for that start with each letter of the alphabet (involve those in the car, on the hike or around the table with you.)
• Listening to a new podcast
• Read a version of the Bible you usually don’t
• Get yourself to a spot in creation that reminds you how great and good God is

9. Linger: Slow down. One of the great things about vacation is freedom from our usual schedules. During vacation I enjoy lingering longer with a cup of tea at the dinner table, lingering after I get back from a run to chat to the neighbours, lingering on a walk to smell the roses, lingering at the farmers market to take it all in and try some new foods.

10. Sleep: Rest up. Turn off the alarm, take naps, go to bed early… Sleep and rest will restore you.

Have a great vacation!
-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood

Psalm 96:11-13a
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD

vacation in baptism tank

Got the Time?

What does your schedule for the week look like? What does your schedule for the month look like? How much of it is full of sports practices? How much of it is full of work activities? Household repairs? Family reunions? Doctor appointments? Free time? What about all of your church activities? Church Sunday morning? Small groups? Leadership meetings?

…Oh wait! Don’t forget! Have you set aside time to actually reach out to your neighbour and make disciples? The last thing Jesus tells us before He leaves? Feeling stressed out yet?… I know I am just by writing this. 

Here’s some good news. You can combine the disciple making with all the stuff that is already on your calendar. You can still do the very thing Jesus commands us all to do without it being another “tacked on” activity. Truthfully, it was never meant to be a tacked on activity. Oftentimes we see outreach, evangelism, and disciple making as separate events. When really, Jesus models these things within everyday life moments. The best example where we see this is when Jesus meets the woman at the well in John 4. In that time the well was a common place in which many people would go and draw water from. It was the hub of the community. Jesus in a very common moment of life for this Samaritan woman shares the plan God has for the world. This wasn’t a time Jesus set aside just for outreach. Jesus models for us that every Christ follower has a responsibility to find the mission in the mundane.

Many times church goers define their time of sharing the gospel or ‘outreach’ in the context of a scheduled event. We need to get away from this paradigm and begin to shift to a new one. The new paradigm must be one that calls every Christ follower (not just pastors) to see every opportunity in every rhythm of life as a way to live on mission. Whether your are at work or at play Jesus calls us all to find moments ‘at the well’ to proclaim the good and life changing news of Jesus Christ.

If you are looking for some practical ways to do this in your ministries and in your own life check out this resource below. Summer is the best time to start practicing some of these!

http://www.vergenetwork.org/practical-ways-to-be-missional/

Have some examples of your own? Have some great stories of how you have found ways to find mission in the mundane? Share your thoughts and stories below! 

How to respond when your heart is heavy

My heart has been heavy lately.
I have been feeling a deep heaviness for the trouble around us:
-the hateful killings that took place on Sunday in Orlando
-the cases of sexual assault where justice seems allusive
-the confusion around what it means to welcome and care for refugees and newcomers
-the profound sadness that seems to have entrapped some First Nation communities
-the silence or confused response of many Christians and churches

I’ve been trying to work through what I, what we, are supposed to do with such heaviness and trouble. I don’t know about you, but I find it especially hard when it seems so overwhelming and confusing, it is easy to get stuck in doing nothing, saying nothing. Here’s how I’m working it through. By the way, I also think this same process and advice can be used in helping youth and kids work through these tragedies they are hearing about in the news and from people around them.

1. Permission to scream – As this heaviness has been building, one day this week, I recognized I just had to scream. I just had to say it out loud – this is sad, this is not right, this is awful. Name it. Call what is unjust, unjust. Call wrong, wrong. Don’t be afraid to say 49 people were killed and many more wounded on Sunday and that is deeply wrong. One of the things I appreciate about the Psalms, a book of poetry in the Bible, is it is a record of people screaming at God. It is people’s unfiltered sadness, anger and confusion poured out to God. And they are not reprimanded for it, not at all, instead we celebrate the Psalms and the range of human emotions expressed to God. To borrow Eugene Peterson’s phrase, we need to learn to “cuss without cussing”, pouring out our screams to God. Rather than getting angry with others or letting my frustration come out at work, I’m learning to bring my unfiltered thoughts and emotions to God. What makes you want to scream? Have you told God?

2. Feel – I’ve been reflecting this week on the question “Who is my neighbour?” The clearest answer I can come up with is “The one who needs mercy.” Hmmm…I can think of a huge list of people that need mercy. And “When am I being neighbourly?”, the answer “When I show compassion and mercy.” One day a man asks Jesus a very religious question “How do I inherit eternal life?” In other words – “Who is out and who is in, and am I in?” This man wants to justify himself – he wants the lines to be clear and the fences to be high. I can think of some people and groups who have responded that way in the last week. Jesus answers with a very non-religious answer, with an extremely practical answer, the story of the good Samaritan – a person who felt compassion for another and acted. The key phrase is “he felt compassion.” No qualifiers about the person who is in trouble matter. In fact, we find out the good Samaritan was considered an arch enemy, so it doesn’t matter if the person is your arch enemy…you show mercy. The essential point is – he felt compassion and acted. Exercise your compassion muscles. Feel compassion for people and their stories. If you need to understand more of their story and the injustice they face, in order to feel compassion, take the time to hear their stories. All we hear in the news and watch on Netflix can numb us from the emotion, the real people, the real stories, the real feelings behind any event. Allow yourself to feel compassion and be moved by compassion. What are the emotions, the stories behind what is happening?

3. Act out God’s heart of compassion – there is a profound moment that has stuck with me from one of the most tragic seasons in my life. It was a season when it truly felt like evil was winning all around me. In our little community we were surrounded by fresh stories of tragedies – teen suicide, teens in a tragic car accident, stories of sexual abuse, and stories of corruption of those who were supposed to help. One morning, while on a youth retreat, I woke up super early. I was scheduled to speak that morning to the youth and I told the Lord “I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I got nothing here. Evil is winning.” I followed my own advice above – I screamed at the Lord, I deeply felt the hurt that was being caused to people, to families, and to a community. Just when I thought God would give me encouragement and a hug from heaven, I very strongly sensed the Lord saying “Renée, I’ve got the victory here, now act like it.” It changed my whole perspective around. I’d be acting like evil was winning. The truth is, evil does not win. Christ wins – love wins, compassion wins, forgiveness wins, justice wins. So, I started acting like Christ’s victory was real (because it is). I acted out of Christ’s compassion, love, healing…even though it might look like another way is winning. The first thing I did was to start to cook an over-the-top, lavish breakfast for the youth, to start to show radical kindness. We must tangibly show the alternative to the way of hate and division by tangibly showing the way of kindness and love. The best thing you can do in the face of the tragic events happening in our world – act out God’s heart for compassion and justice now. In the midst of the tragic events of Sunday we are also hearing stories of people who acted on compassion – Chick-fil-A opening on Sunday to provide meals, people rushing into danger to help others, people opening their homes and churches for people to grieve, people lining up to give blood. How could you tangibly show God’s radical kindness, mercy and love?

4. It is not our role to condemn the world. Love your neighbour – Christians, you are not the conscience of the world, of your neighbours. Your role is not to point fingers, it is not to condemn. Jesus reserved the strongest words about hell, about judgment for those who claimed they were on the “inside” of religion and thought they had it all figured out. To those considered “outside” he spoke of heaven, the Kingdom and went out of His way to spend time with these people considered outsiders. We seem to have gotten it backwards – we point fingers at those “outside” and turn a blind-eye to those “inside”. There is not an “us” and “them.” For God so loved the world, all of the world… God shows mercy. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) God’s agenda isn’t condemnation, it is redemption, it is offering people a place in His family through what He has done. It is God’s Spirit that convicts not your pointing finger. I came to Christ, not because people pointed out all the ways my life was falling short of God’s best ways, but because people loved me well and displayed to me God’s radical, deep love. No one had to point out to me my sin, God pointed that out to me, and continues to do so, as I need to deal with things in my heart and life. We cannot hold non-Christians to Christian standards and we shouldn’t try to in the least. What if Christians, what if churches, loved people, loved their neighbours radically well? Who is the neighbour? – the one who shows mercy. Would your neighbours miss you or your church if you moved? Where could people point to your life, your church and say “WOW! That’s mercy!”?

How will you respond personally to these steps in your life?
How can you lead your church/group through these steps?
Find ways for you, and your church to scream at injustice, feel other’s stories, act in-line with God’s Kingdom and love your neighbour.

Here is a related previous post I wrote after the Paris attacks, in it I consider the “weapons” we have for peacemaking in this world: https://oneneighbourhood.org/2015/11/19/power-of-flowers-and-candles/

-Renée
@r_embree  #1neighbourhood

Who is praying bold, tenacious prayers for you? For youth?

I know I am who I am because of the prayers of others.
I know I am where I am because of the prayers of others.

One person, in particular, has been praying bold, tenacious prayers for me since they first met me about 19 years ago, before I was following Jesus. Rich led an on-campus ministry at the University I attended. His prayers have followed me all my days, as he continues to pray for me through the good times and the challenging times. When I felt like nothing and my life looked more like a pile of rubble and uncertainty – Rich prayed God’s best into me. When leadership, ministry, and God’s shalom was but a pipe dream for me, he prayed.

When I was searching for faith. He prayed.
When my doubts overwhelmed my faith. He prayed.
When I flunked an exam and thought my life was over. He prayed.
When relationships ended. He prayed.
When areas of my life still had a ways to go to line-up with the ways of Christ. He prayed.
When I didn’t know what my future would hold. He prayed.
When I ended up leading a ministry, with zero training. He prayed.
When I had decisions to make. He prayed.
When I have led events. He prayed.
When I have preached. He prayed.
When I did nothing. He prayed.
When I hit valleys. He prayed.
When I discovered mountain tops. He prayed.

I mean it when I say, I have no doubt that I am the person I am today because of Rich’s prayers and the prayers of other faithful people. It is overwhelming when we think of all the people who have prayed for us through the years – grandparents, parents, Aunts, Uncles, friends, mentors, leaders, siblings, spouses, kids…
It is overwhelming when I think of the faith Rich (and others) had in those prayers, when I didn’t have the faith to believe the things they were praying – about God or about myself.
They believed it and prayed it before it was seen. That’s faith. That’s tenacious.

Who prays for you? Prays the deep, bold, tenacious, faith prayers for you? Especially when you can’t pray them for yourself.
Who are you praying for?
Who is praying for our youth?

Youth need someone who will pray bold, tenacious prayers for them.
This Sunday is the National Day of Prayer for Youth. (http://www.prayforyouth.ca/)
Join in praying bold prayers for our youth.

Here are some ways to incorporate praying for youth into your rhythms:
• Get a picture of the youth group from your church and put it on your kitchen table. Every time you say grace pray for the youth group too.
• Weekly walk the perimeter of your local school, praying.
• Ask if the youth leader in your church would get permission to give you the picture and some background information about one youth they know. Pray for them regularly.
• Scan the news for where youth are mentioned (in good ways and in difficult ways). Pray for them.
• Find out the names of either the youth leaders, coaches or teachers in your area. Pray for these people who form our youth.
• Get a Q-card and write out a bold prayer for a youth you know. Pray it regularly. If it is appropriate, give a copy of the prayer to the youth.
• Notice the teenagers in your day – working at the check out, cleaning your table, biking by, waiting outside the school, on the bus… Say a silent prayer of blessing for the teenager, as you pass by.
• If you have a youth in your home or a youth you are close to – ask them regularly “What’s the most important thing I can be praying for you right now?” and pray for them on the spot.
• Ask a local Christian camp what their prayers requests are. Write them down and pray for them. Camps minister to many children, teens and families throughout the year.
• Encourage your church to pray for youth. Start a prayer wall or build a prayer labyrinth at your church/youth group. To create a prayer labyrinth, take rope or candles and make a labyrinth design on the floor. Every so often in the labyrinth put cards with prayer requests. Participants pick up a card and pray for what is on the card as they walk the labyrinth. When they are done that card, they pick up a new card.

This Sunday join in the national day of prayer for youth. More ideas for incorporating this into a Sunday morning and a youth group lesson can be found at: http://www.prayforyouth.ca/

Let’s pray bold, tenacious prayers for our youth!
Who will name you 19 years for now and say to you “I am who I am because of your prayers.”

-Renée
@r_embree
#1neighbourhood

National Day of Prayer for Youth (HD)