Leader Letter 4/30/20

Written By: Pastor Aaron

Quarantine.

Lockdown.

Isolation.

Boredom.

Loneliness.

Depression.

For many teens out there, these words have become their reality over the past few weeks. And let’s be honest – it’s an easy trap to fall into. Some days it seems overwhelming when we think about the stay at home orders and the lack of connection, freedom, and interaction that we are all longing for. Many of you have also realized that there is a limit to just how many Netflix shows, snaps, tweets, Instagram stories and TikTok videos that you can scroll through in a day before you get tired of staring at a screen.

So then, the question becomes “How am I going to survive another day of Quarantine?”

I have news for you, that maybe you haven’t heard of or thought of in a while and I hope will encourage you. YOU are in control of how you spend your day and how you feel each day. Sure, you might have to do school work or some chores around the house – but for the most part you are in control. You get to decide what kind of attitude you’ll have. You get to decide how well you’ll do your school assignments. You get to decide what you’ll do with your free time at home.

With that in mind, I want to take minute to take you back to the book of Philippians and look at what Paul says in verses 6-9 of chapter 4:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul gives us 3 keys to success every day. 

1.       Guard your heart.  Go back and read verse 6-7. You are in control of the thoughts that bring you down (or lift you up). Got a problem? Worried? Anxious? Give it to God. Tired of Quarantine? Tell Him. Worried about school? Tell Him. Having a hard time getting along with your family? Tell Him.  Fighting thoughts of depression, loneliness, or anxiety? Bring it to God and lay it at His feet. He has promised not only to listen to His children but to give them what’s best.  Choose to be thankful for all the blessings He has given you instead of worrying about the things that are actually out of your control.

Why? Because when you pray to God about your deepest worries and fears, you’re also saying you trust that he is working even in the tough situations – and that’s what brings us peace.

2.      Focus your thoughts. This advice is straight from verse 8. You are in control of what you put into your mind. Some of you need to hear it, so I’m going to say it: STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO JUNK. If this applies to you, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And I’m not just talking about the super-bad stuff, I’m also talking about the worthless, time-wasting, or questionable things too. But even more important than stopping wasting your time on worthless TV shows, video games, and music videos is choosing to fill your mind with the good stuff (go back and read verse 8). If you need some help finding some quality things to fill your time – I’ve got some suggestions. Text me and I’ll send you a link, or check out Tuesday’s blog post and watch a few Bible Project videos to get started!

3.       Practice your faith. Verse 9 is all about actually putting into practice verses 6-8 (and the whole book, really). You are in control of how you put these truths into practice. Are you praying? Are you being intentional about what you’re putting into your mind? Are you choosing to find positive things to do – or are you giving in to the temptation to be lazy and bored? You are in control of implementing your faith. No one else can do it for you – and it’s not going to be meaningful until you decide to take ownership of your faith and start taking action steps. 

Hopefully we’ll be able to put quarantine behind us in the next couple of weeks. But until things get back to “normal”, what if we choose to use this time to focus on our relationship with God? What if we would commit to going to Him in prayer everyday? What if we choose to read the Bible before we turn on the TV or open that app? What if we choose to find a new way to practice our faith everyday; finding ways to be kind, to encourage others, and show the love of Christ?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to look back on this quarantine and know that even though it wasn’t exactly fun; it was exactly what God used to draw us closer to Him? My prayer for you during these next few days and weeks is that you would realize how much control you have when it comes to your relationship with God (not to mention your emotions, thoughts, and actions).

I’ll leave you with these simple words from James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

Pastor Aaron

Published by thechapelyouth

Chapel of the Lake Youth Group in Lake Saint Louis, MO

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