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Rick

Youth Group

Michael,

Andrea and I were talking about your youth group and how remote God seems to many youth today.  Often adult Christians today make many amazing physical claims regarding God.  These claims may be on television or even within a local congregation.  Unfortunately, young genuine seekers then look for those same physical experiences, or manifestations, in their own life and become discouraged when they donít happen.  

We have all been raised on a concept that reality is something that can be physically experienced.  The Bible speaks of a spiritual reality and an eternal reality.  When we pray, if we expect God to always conform to this physical reality, then we are holding our relationship with God captive to this physical realm.  The Bible identifies this as carnality.

If we truly seek Godís will in our life, then we must first look for eternal manifestations, because the Eternal reality is the highest reality.  

When we pray, we are to direct our prayer in accordance to the pattern of Christ: Mathew 6:9-13 ďOur Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.Ē

When praying we must recognize that God is Holy and inhabits Heaven (Eternal Realm).  We must want Godís will on earth, and in our life, just as His will is realized in Heaven.  We must know that Godís will is not generally being honored on this Earth.  

We then move to daily provision, not weekly but daily.  Remember the manna from the sky? It was to be consumed, but never stored.  We ask for forgiveness from God and recognize that we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

We ask for protection (primarily spiritual protection) that would keep us from being led astray, drifting from God.  We recognize that there is an ďevil oneĒ that intends to do harm (spiritually) to all that belong to God.

Ultimately, we acknowledge that God is eternally victorious and we recognize the higher call over the lower temporal perspective.

It might be interesting to ask the youth why God gave us an imagination.  How fixed upon truth are most imaginations today?  If we limit truth to something that can be physically proven, then what proof do we have of God?  Can love, faith, peace, hope and joy be physically proven?  Are they real?  We know their effects, but are they themselves physically real?
Steve

Amen Rick.

I agree that we can't limit truth to something that can be physically proven, but I do believe that "love, peace, hope, joy" can all be felt within (physically proven).  

We've all felt the feeling of love (love for my wife, my family, my friends, God's love for us); we've felt peace (usually a sunny, 78 degree day staring a calm lake at 8am); we've felt hope (sometimes selfish hope that's crossing our fingers -- not quite faith -- that something good will happen); and of course joy (Christmas morning).

I say if youth is seeking proof of God, tell them to look around.  I guess that's why I appreciate landscape scenary so much.  Maybe that's God's way of reminding me "Hey...I'm here."  We all find beauty in different things, wherever they find beauty, there's God.  He's in all things.  

Also, point to the fact that pure faith that lives and breathes around us is often elusive for those that don't know what it looks like.  Everyone has faith (including youth), they may just not know how to harness it and use it to get closer to God.  

I say everyone has faith because everyone has a deep down belief that they'll wake up tomorrow.  Think about this:  What if  every single night you went to bed knowing there was a 50/50 chance that you would not wake up ever again.  At some point you'd have to give in to faith and put it in someone or something's hands to deliver you through the night into the morning.  

We all have faith that we'll wake up tomorrow morning.

That's just the starting point.  Realize that God isn't asking you to find Him where He is... He'll find you where you are.  Just accept Him.  He's already there waiting for you.  Just accept Him.  

Faith is easily distracted every day by any number of things.  But it always finds it's way back....every single day....usually at night when you go to sleep and you know you're going to wake up the next day.  

Is faith really as simple as that?  It's 10:20p.  I'm getting tired.  Good night.
Rick

Steve,

You bring up a number of excellent points.  The one I would like to focus on is feelings.  Certainly, we feel love, faith, peace, joy and hope.  This does prove their reality, but perhaps not their physical reality.  

We must learn to train our feelings upon the "truth", the Word of God. If I feel hopeless, is this because there is no hope?  We cannot truly conclude there is no hope until we consider all possibilities.  Even in a life and death situation we must recognize that physical death is temporarily tragic, but spiritual life is eternally glorious.  

Yes, God's creation proclaims His reality and that He loves us. And that can feel very good!
Steve

Rick:

What, in laymans terms, is the physical reality you're discussing?  Is there any need to prove a physical reality for a feeling like joy, peace, hope, love?  I'd like you to expand on that.  

My quick take (and I may not be understanding your response above): If God created man and is the maker of human emotion, what difference does it make if emotion is not physically real?  We feel wind, but cannot see it.  Wind can feel good.  Wind can also destroy.  How is wind created?  Where does wind originate from?  How do hurricanes gain their momentum?  How does a tornado decide when to stop?  

I'd offer up to love being proven as a physical reality:  God = Love, God = Jesus, Love = Jesus (a living, breathing human sacrifice).  Yes, Jesus was a human but a living example of God's love for us--in the physical realm (as well as the eternal).

Maybe I'm not understanding the point of needing to physically prove emotions/feelings.  I still think I need some further explanation/clarification.  

Maybe you and I are talking about two different things?  I look forward to your further explanation and I'm sure I'll understand better then.

Peace.
Rick

Steve,

Obviously, I have not been clear.  

What I am painfully attempting to say is that we must not limit our concept of reality to this physical realm.  When we do that we "fence God in", as you stated in your earlier analogy.  Rather, we must recognize that there are spiritual and eternal realities that better affirm our relationship with God.

If we want to pursue the truth, then we must not limit truth's pursuit to this physical realm.  When the Word is studied, we discover a tangible spiritual/eternal reality.  If I say that it must be pursued "in truth" within the imagination, then I am saying we need to take a sober look at our cavalier view of the imagination.  Consider the significance of an imagination governed by the truth, sourced from the Word of God.

Christ conformed "physically" to this realm in order to provide "the way" for each of us to enter into the spiritual/eternal realm.  

Is reality and truth one in the same?  Jesus is real and He identifies Himself as the truth.  Satan is real and Jesus identifies him as the father of lies.

Feelings always confirm reality, but not always the truth.  So trusting our feelings without discerning their source in regard to our relationship with God is extremely dangerous.

When we feel God is not close, I pray and nothing happens, then we must take a closer look with different lenses.

Does this help clarify or just muddy the waters even more?
Steve

Rick:

Clarity is upon me.  I get you now.  I was on a different wavelength for a minute there.  It doesn't change the fact that I agree with everything you said in that last couple posts.  

I got lost in attempting to translate your words into something a bunch of 15-18 year old youth group kids could track with.  

That's where I got mixed up.  I'm not on the same spiritual plane from the knowledge, wisdom, comprehension, and understanding as you are.  But it is a goal of mine to gain ground every day.

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If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. --C. S. Lewis