Partners for the Hearts of Teenagers,                                                                         July 2014

630 kids focused intently as I explained from Psalm 145 that God is Beyond What You Ever Imagined, because God is Great, God is Good, God is King.  And you encounter God by going beyond the 'Me life' to choose the 'Christ-life.'

I told about Scottie, my four-year-old grandson, at the Ash Wednesday service
getting ashes on his forehead in the form of a cross.  He was delighted.  At bath time the ashes washed off.  He cried himself to sleep.  In the morning his dad awakened to breathing on his face.  Scottie smiled with a big cross that he etched on his forehead with a permanent Sharpie!  My challenge: "God wants to etch His cross on you."

All week those kids and I energized each other and caused each other to reflect.

High Energy

When the old guy speaks to 600+ kids the Holy Spirit needs to show up.  Holy Spirit energy covered the room and kids responded from their hearts.
Holy Spirit Energy

All week kids and leaders came to talk...
-- Spencer, 16, decided to give up basketball after I told my basketball experience of not seeking first God's Kingdom. Thoughts of suicide had taken him down.  He needed to step all the way in to Jesus.  And he did.
-- Jonathan, 15, told me about his family... dad not in the picture, mom living with a raging drunk who beats her, family living in poverty.  Jonathan lives in total confusion.  Only Jesus can rescue him, and He is.
-- Joaquin, a sharp youth leader, and his team came to my youth leader sessions.  We became friends.  Reach Out will lead a JFYM Forum in McAllen, Texas (Mexican border) this fall.

Joaquin and his Ministry Team
And the Holy Spirit used these kids to energize me.  He reminded me of my love for kids, and why, after all these years, I invest my life in them and their leaders.
Download Beyond What You Ever Imagined: God is Great, God is Good, God is King.

Deep Reflection


As I told my most painful story God's Spirit moved inside of my to reinforce The Greatness and Goodness of the King -- To Me.  After my first wife, Carol, died, through the grief God deeply anchored three convictions in me: God is Great. God is Good. God is King.  

The Greatness and Goodness of the King -- To Me!

God is Great!  After Carol died my first reaction: "God if you are so great, why did you let Carol die?  I prayed for healing, and you did not heal her."  Then God seared into my heart: Barry... my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  So I stopped asking why and started choosing to praise Him.  Far beyond my understanding His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3).   


God is Good!  Carol's death didn't seem good to me.  I thought the Lord had made a massive mistake.  Yet when I refocused on the Cross I realized that even in my hardest circumstance, He chose one much harder because the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made (Psalm 145:9).  Though I still miss Carol very much, the Lord has shown me His goodness.  And He has done the same for Lawanna, after her husband and my good friend, Dave Busby, died.  And now, after 15 years of marriage, I still love Carol, and Lawanna still loves Dave, but Lawanna and I love each other so much!  With the Psalmist we say that we celebrate your [God's] abundant goodness... (Psalm 145:7).

Etching the Cross 


God is King!  The enticement of the "Me kingdom" cannot match the glorious splendor of [God's] Kingdom, that both rules the earth and lives within me (Psalm 145:13, Luke 17:25).  My "God is King" talk closed by going back to the etched cross on my grandson's forehead.  I challenged all 630 kids to step "all in" to God's greatness, goodness and kingdom because only Jesus the Lord can take their lives Beyond What They Ever Imagined.  Those who chose "all in" went to their youth leader who prayerfully etched on their forehead in permanent marker - the cross!


Broad Impact


You play a huge role in this story!  Because of your gifts and prayers God extends His greatness, goodness and kingdom far beyond the 630 teenagers in Texas to 80,000 in Africa this summer who will hear the same message!  That's beyond what I ever imagined! 



Jesus is Lord,  


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