The Problems of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Life can be hard. We have problems come at us from all angles. How we deal with these and move forward defines life as we know it.  I was greatly encouraged through my personal study and preparation of 1 Thess. 4:9-18 in how I look at life’s problems.

It is my prayer that this passage would encourage you as well as we allow a biblical perspective to be our guide in light of the problems of life.

  1. The Problem of Yesterday: Just Keep Loving.   We all get hurt, we all have disappointments, we all deal with this. But Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to keep loving one another. God had taught them how to love (verse 9) but Paul still reminds then that it never can just be put on cruise control and forgotten. “But, we urge you brothers, to do this more and more.” (verse 10).  No mater what life has dealt you, love one another more and more.
  2. The Problem of Today: Just Keep Working.   One day Jesus will return, but until that day we have to live this life in a productive way. We should not live dependent of others but work hard day in and day out. (verse 11) As we do this we will maintain the respect of our community, and maybe more importantly, maintain respect for ourself. (verse 12) It is a great temptation to slack off or give up when things get hard. Hang in there. Keep working hard and it will pay off.
  3. The Problem of Tomorrow: Just Keep Hoping.   Last week I attended the funeral of a dear church member.  In a year cancer racked her body and claimed her life while she was in her prime. But her funeral was a celebration of hope. It was a living example of Paul’s words that we “do not grieve as other do who have no hope.” (verse 13) While the unknowns of tomorrow can be painful, we are not without hope. The object of our hope is Jesus Christ and his victory over sin and death. “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” (verse 14). When we hope in Jesus we will never be put to shame. Whatever tomorrow holds, we hold onto hope in Jesus. “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (verse 18)

1 Thess. 4:9-18

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Why Every Student Ministry Should Honor Graduates

This weekend has been graduation weekend around our city. Caps and gowns, ceremonies and parties. For a student pastor, this can be a busy time of year.

With all the pomp and circumstance, don’t miss the chance to greatly impact your seniors one last time before they face the challenges before them.

I believe all student ministries should honor their graduating seniors because it:

1.  allows us to celebrate with those who celebrate.

The church is a place to do life together. 1 Cor. 12:26 says, “So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” As seniors complete their high school careers, I make it a point honor them and show them the church’s support in a way that they will not soon forget! When statistics are miserable on church attendance among college freshmen, how terrible would it for a teenager to not feel loved or recognized by his or her own church just months away from that critical decision?

2.  it encourages the church and student ministry.

When the church DOES get the opportunity to celebrate with graduating seniors, the cooperate body is reminded that growth is happening! Children are growing into young men and women and along the way the gospel is transforming lives. Put the gospel’s work on display! Send a message to the upcoming students that perseverance has its rewards. Each year the student ministry gets a chance to see their peers move on with the church’s blessing. When affirmed in a public setting this encourages young and old alike.

3.  it reminds them where they have been.

Each year we have a Bible presentation in the worship service followed by a luncheon for the seniors and their families. We have a slideshow with each graduate from baby pictures up through their senior picture. (have the tissues ready, and don’t forget to burn a copy for all the grads) The reminders don’t stop with physical growth. Many of those picture are of retreats, church small groups, events we did together! We have build a foundation that can last. Colossians 2:6-7 focuses us on this. “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” Take this opportunity to remind them of the truths they are rooted in. Remind them what they have been taught and to remain in HIM!

4.  it reminds them the trajectory they are on.

Colossians 2:6-7 makes it clear that we are to “walk in Him”. Because we are rooted, because we have taught the truth, stay on that coarse. College is hard on believers. It is even harder on weak believers who are trying to walk in their own strength, not “in Him”. As you challenge your seniors, be honest and real. They will face struggles. They will have opportunity to sin. But if they decide now how they will respond, they do not have to be another sad statistic. Trajectory is important. It doesn’t start in one senior recognition service, it begins in middle school. It works into everything you do, years before they are seniors. It is my prayer that the seniors I send out will be prepared for a life of Glorifying God and living out the Gospel.

Here are some of the things I do to make Senior Recognition Sunday a memorable experience:

  • I buy a good bible, one they will actually use and enjoy for many years.
  • I read the Gideon Bible Preface during the recognition service to remind the seniors (and everyone) that we don’t just give a bible because we are a church, but because it truly is a treasure and a guide for life.
  • I host a nice lunch and decorate it along the lines of a wedding reception.
  • I create a memorable slideshow of all the seniors. Be sure to return the photos when you are done with them. (I use a MacBook and it has some amazing looking themes you can use. You look professional.)
  • I get together a team of guys to grill steaks and chicken breasts. I don’t charge anything for the senior and parents, but charge $10 for all other family and guests. (sorry, you don’t break even…but that’s not the point).
  • I provide lots of intentional photo opportunities! Be mindful that this day is for the parents as much as for the graduate!
  • I pray over the graduates. I pray a strong and intentional prayer over their choices and futures.
  • I don’t make it last to long.  Make it nice, don’t drag it out.
  • I send thank you cards to all the people that help pull it off.  (decorations, cooks, servers, clean up crew…)
I pray you will honor your high school seniors this year and for years to come!
Your fellow worker in the field,   Adam