Teen Mania Alumni Weekend!

What an amazing and refreshing time we had with hundreds of our alumni that returned this past week for what was the last reunion that will be held on the East Texas campus. Future reunions will be held near our newly rented headquarters in the Dallas/Fort Worth area!

Katie and I were deeply moved that so many people came from all over the country, as well as from Mexico. Alums drove 10, 15, 18, and some over 20 hours to attend! They brought their spouses and children, and what a beautiful time it was. We actually had representation from every single class of interns all the way from the first class in Texas!

We were very encouraged to see that so many alums are serving the Lord; I am so proud of the marriages and families they’re building and those who are leveraging their lives for the Gospel. We heard from a number of interns who are currently living on the mission field who sent us special videos encouraging their fellow intern alums from around the world. It was moving to hear so many stories of what God did in their life as interns and what they’re doing now as a result.

It was amazing to hear over and over again how alums and their families were blessed by attending the weekend event. Alums would embrace me and tell me the story of what brought them to the Teen Mania weekend, and then described in detail the life-changing infusion from heaven that they experienced through one of the retreats, teachings, or as a result of a relationship they’d built.

Spouses who had been “adopted” into the Teen Mania family often chimed into the conversation saying, “The teaching you did really helped us. My spouse had me listen to it or shared the notes,” or “It’s because they went up Pike’s Peak that they’ve been able to deal with or overcome challenges in their marriage.” It was beautiful to see the families playing around the pool when they came over to Katie’s and my home for a cookout, picnic, and water fun.

Alumni BBQ

I was honestly overwhelmed to see the response of the alumni as I shared my heart Saturday and Sunday night about the past, present, and future of Teen Mania. So many expressed their excitement for the future that God has called us to as we explore creative ways to minister to the 1.8 billion teens around the world.

Because of their longstanding relationship with the ministry, I shared information with them that I hadn’t shared online or through social media. I spoke personally and frankly about our shared past and our vision for the future, because the ministry and I need their prayers; we need their tremendous capacity for virtuous dialog.

At our first session together, I invited these alumni family members to share on a slip of paper their insights and suggestions about the future of the ministry. I invited any questions that they might have so that we could address them.

The loving embrace and overwhelming positive response regarding our future was more than words can express. The most moving time was during our final moments together when someone from the crowd spontaneously stood up and asked for everyone to join in prayer over Katie and me. We felt so loved and encouraged and truly ministered to by this alumni body.

Throughout the course of the two days staff and alums alike experienced the resolution of misunderstandings and joyous tears of forgiveness. We saw hope and encouragement renewed. There were stories shared by alumni of how they’d experienced failure in an area of their lives and, with God’s help, were putting their lives back together.

God is so good! Amen!

Katie and I wish that each of you could have been here for this beautiful weekend. We want to stay in regular communication with you.

I’ve attached the Saturday and Sunday night sessions and have included the Q&A for you so that you can watch at your convenience. I encourage you to listen and watch if you haven’t yet. I’d love to hear comments from you and thoughts regarding any of the information I shared.

One idea that was suggested that I want to share with you now was for an Alumni Marriage Retreat—open to Teen Mania alums and their spouses. We had one such marriage session during the Alumni Weekend and it was very encouraging. We all need to strengthen our marriages. If you’d be interested in this possibility, please respond by clicking this  link  so we can gauge alumni interest.

Also, Katie and I are seeking to build a Personal Prayer List of friends with whom we can share the specific needs of Teen Mania. We are grateful for the number of alums this past weekend who agreed to pray with us regularly. If you’d like to join us, please let us know by clicking on the link provided.

I hope each of you will join when we gather for the  next Teen Mania Alumni Weekend. Be sure to stay in touch so that we can send you an invitation!

We love you and appreciate you. God Bless You!

One Last Thought on Cuba

When I was in Cuba a few weeks ago, I heard a statement that I hadn’t heard before in my whole life!  A Cuban pastor told me, “All the churches in Cuba are growing!”

I’m quite certain I’ve never heard this phrase before about any other nation, not even about a group of churches in any nation.  My face probably looked shocked or surprised at the least, because the pastor went on to say, “Yes, there is this one region alone that has 75 churches and we’re planting 100 new ones!”

That astounded me!  I couldn’t help but wonder out loud how they do this in a country where they receive no financial support from the outside.   He informed me that they start the churches in little house churches. And that’s just one region of Cuba.

But it’s not just the churches that are thriving, the Christians are thriving, too! I had the opportunity to speak at a gathering. During the worship, there was a tremendous time of celebration. Half the church members came to the front of the room and they were dancing and celebrating and worshipping.

There was so much joy in the faces of these people, and as I told you in my last blog, these dear people live in the midst of horrible economic oppression—and yet their hearts and faith are thriving, and their churches are growing.

We can find similar signs of joyous revival again and again in the persecuted church, in China, for example.  It also happened in the Early Church. Persecution brings about sincere love for Jesus, a passion for God, and as a result, the churches grow.

As I think back on what I saw in Cuba, I can’t help but think about how many American pastors struggle and wish their church would grow… they wish their church would catch on fire for Jesus… they wish their young people would turn to Jesus and serve Him, but they’re not.

It makes you think. Who are the people with real wealth? Who is the rich man, the pastor whose church and people are thriving, or the pastor who has all kinds of money, but whose people are spiritually poor and empty.

Given this comparison, I can completely understand why the Cuban pastor visiting America would say, “I’ve got to get back to Cuba. I’m going where the ‘real riches’ are.”

My friends, the church in Cuba has something that we desperately need in American churches.

Here in America, we don’t know which direction our country is going. It may be that we are on the path to becoming a communist country where Christians, more and more, are alienated and persecuted. There are some terrible things happening to Christians and churches even now in America, things that are allowed within the legal system.

Please pray for revival in America, that the church and its people here at home will rise from its complacency. Sometimes in the past God has used difficult times to awaken the soul of our nation, to start waves of revival that caused many to grow spiritually and have a more resilient faith.  Almost every single recorded time when there’s persecution in the church, there is an outbreak of revival. God certainly stirred the hearts of His people when 9/11 happened.

Persecution separates the sheep from the goats, the boys from the men, and people who are serious about serving Christ from the Sunday “whatever” Christians.

Please pray for Cuba, for the pastors who are serving the Body of Christ in that nation. And pray that America would experience the “true riches” of faith, the virtue of sacrifice and of laying our lives down for the glory of the Lord. Pray that we won’t be sidetracked by the things that look like blessings, but that distract us from truly following Jesus.

May we truly experience the joy that I witnessed in the lives of the young and old alike in Cuba as the gospel is preached in America.

 

P.S.

Next week, I’m going to be sharing with you from my new book,  RESILIENT! I want to show you how you can have the kind of faith that can stand up to life’s most challenging situations! 

Coming in September: “Resilient”

Resilient Book Cover

My Recent Trip to Cuba

I love this simple little verse, Proverbs 24:32 - “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” Isn’t that a good word?

Sometimes, with so much going on around us, it can be very easy to just blast through life and never process what we are seeing around us. That’s why the writer of Proverbs exhorts us to be observant and to learn. Important things are happening all around us. We just have to keep our eyes open and let God speak to us about what we are seeing and hearing.

As you might imagine, in my ministry travels, I’ve been blessed with many such opportunities to see and to learn, and I want to share with you some observations from a trip I made just a couple of weeks ago to Cuba.

This happened to be my second trip to this island nation; the first trip was 20-plus years ago when the ministry was still located in Tulsa. I have to tell you, Cuba still looked much the same. In fact, if you’ve seen photos of Cuba, it looks much the way it did 60 years or 70 years. It’s fascinating. The cars you see are all 1940s and 1950s cars. They are everywhere, hundreds, thousands of them, as well as Russian cars in shapes and sizes you’ve never seen before, and they are all old.

The first observation I want to share is about the economy. Nearly everyone works for the government- between 95-98% of the population. Cuba is a communist country and every business is owned by the government. Every hotel is owned by the government. Everything is owned by the government. So if you have a job, you work for the government. What you will immediately understand is that the government pays badly and people are very poor.

Public transportation is virtually nonexistent. The most popular public transportation is hitchhiking. One of the pastors told me that he hitchhikes everywhere. He doesn’t own a car. If he’s traveling a short distance he rides a bike, but if he’s going far he hitchhikes—and so does everyone else. Taxis, by the way, are horse-drawn carriages. You will see horse-drawn carriages carrying eight people at a time to work.

In such a culture, hardship and misery abound. Naturally, there is no air conditioning. People stand outside their homes seeking respite from the tropical island heat. But there’s nowhere to cool off, there’s nothing to do, there’s no escape from the misery.

Now let me share with you some of the processing I did—and what God showed me.

First, the conditions in Cuba are the fruit of godless ideology. Before the revolution, Cuba was basically a Catholic country, and though they tried they couldn’t wipe out all of the “God influence.” Most of the cities are named after something in the Bible. They couldn’t change the whole identity of the country, but this godless ideology destroys the worth of human beings. It destroys the human spirit all the while saying, “Humans are the most important things on earth; we don’t need God.”

Second, in the midst of the misery, there is joy. I saw parents walking with their children, holding their hands on the way to school, or carrying them to school. There are things you simply can’t take away from people—such as the love of a parent for a child. I watched a couple who were either married or romantically involved walking hand-in-hand, whispering sweet nothings as they walked through the midst of misery. They still had a sense of joy.

I couldn’t help but think about how easily distracted we can be with the challenges of our lives here at home. We all know people facing hardships. Families and friends have financial issues. There can be ministry challenges. But really, friends, compared to our brothers and sisters in Cuba, we have NO PROBLEMS! Even in Cuba the people have found ways to have joy. It reminds me of what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation….”

My third and final observation for now: God has a plan for Cuba. I met a number of pastors in Cuba. I had met our host pastor before and he’s been to the states a couple of times. Some pastors get a special kind of visa where they can come to the states and preach, and then they have to go back. Not surprisingly, many of these pastors have been offered pastorates here in the U.S. because they are great preachers; they are full of life and passion.

This particular pastor told us that he had been offered churches in America of 1,000-2,000 people, but that he refused them because he knows that God has a plan for his nation and he wants to be there when God’s plan unfolds. Isn’t that amazing? I love that!

Just think-this man lives in a small house he built with his own hands and with the help of a few members of his church. It has a little kitchen area, a little front room area, and they built a little upstairs area for their kids. They have no car, because even a used beat up old car costs about $30,000 U.S. dollars! And he’s willingly chosen—like so many other Cuban pastors— to stay there!

This makes me think of Mother Theresa who said: “It’s impossible to love without sacrifice.” As followers of Christ, we are called to choose to sacrifice.

I hope you’ll take time to meditate on these words as you observe your world. If you let Him, God will teach you priceless lessons to live by!

Honor to the Unsung Heroes of Teen Mania

An unsung hero is “a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution.”

I would like to take a moment to remember those faithful individuals who have served tirelessly so that others would know Jesus and the abundance of His blessings and favor on their lives.

For more years than I would like to admit (actually since I was a teenager myself!), I have made mention of the hundreds of thousands of teenagers we have succeeded in reaching for Christ.  God has been with us and we have seen His amazing, transforming power touch continual generations of lives.

Today, I want to highlight a few faithful unsung heroes, true servants who have diligently dedicated countless years of their lives behind the scenes of ministry to ensure that no one would be lost through the cracks but would truly know their purpose in God.

Thank you for laying down your lives in the service of others.  Heaven is your reward. 

1993 1994 TM Staff

1993-94 Teen Mania Staff and Volunteers as found in the yearbook

I am reminded of Hebrews 11, of the many faithful ones who were sure of what they hoped for yet at times without seeing, who believed, worked and carried the burden in prayer for days on end and year after year laboring beside me, but more often than not, from behind a desk, computer or telephone loving teens into the Kingdom.

Yes, this is written in tribute to the unsung heroes of Teen Mania who may have experienced a set of mundane circumstances so that others could climb on their shoulders and go on to change the world from perhaps more glorious surroundings of serving God from higher heights and well known places.

They know who they are but it would certainly be amiss of me not take the time to “show respect and to give honor to whom honor is due.” Romans 13:7

Over the years, God has saw fit to form faithful  dynamic teams among the Staff, perhaps for a season of  years to carry out the vision of training up young World Changers.  These individuals truly listened, cared, and helped mold thousands of young teens that were trained to “CHANGE THE WORLD.”

The Staff at Teen Mania do not work a typical 8-5 job, but serve diligently many nights, weekends and holidays to make sure individuals’ needs were met, mission trips ran smoothly, each class was taught with excellence and the day in and day out routines included life lessons of forgiveness and breakthrough for young people to develop trustworthy relationships and to live by faith.

I have compiled a few short emails just over the past year or so…emails that were difficult to read at first when they began, “Today is my last day…”  I am in your debt.  Below is a portion of Scripture that was included with one of those emails.

Number 4:24-26  “This is the service of the Gershonite clans as they work and carry burdens:  They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, its covering and the outer covering of hides of sea cows, the curtains for the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the curtains of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, the curtain for the entrance, the ropes and all the equipment used in its service, whether carrying or doing other work is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons.  You shall assign to them as their responsibility all they are to carry.”

. . .

Danielle former staff

Hey Team,

I just wanted to let you know that I will be transitioning out of Teen Mania on June 5th. Next Tuesday will be my last day in the office.  I will be headed home to Boston to spend time with family and reconnect with friends before heading to college hopefully.  I am not sure what the Lord has in store this next season but I know that it is going to be good.

I just wanted to thank you so much for all your hard work and for giving me the privilege to work alongside you. I have enjoyed all of our encounters and conversations, even in the midst of the busiest times. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work alongside and to share life with for the past six years. I have learned so much from all of you and look forward to learning even more. You have been such a blessing and have enriched my life in more ways than one. Thank you for serving the KING! I love you all.  God bless you!

~Danielle

 . . .

Tabitha and BrendanBeloved TM Family,

As many of you already know, my time at Teen Mania has come to an end. In preparation of this new season, I have already started a new job in Tyler.

It It has been an honor to serve alongside each of you to advance the cause of Christ. Some days were easier to recognize this than others, but what a blessing it has been for each of us to make an eternal impact while serving here.

Thank you all for your hard work, your sacrificial love, your time spent and your love for God. It has impacted countless interns and staff, me included. My life will be forever impacted by the work of this ministry.

Please keep Brendon and I in your prayers as we start this new journey, and know that we will continue to love, support and pray for the ministry.  Goodbye my friends!  God bless you!!!

~Tabitha

 

Friends,

Today marks my last day serving at Teen Mania.  It has been an amazing 6 years!  I have been privileged to serve alongside such wonderful individuals, from the time I was an intern until now.  I continue to pray for you all constantly, and I strongly support the work of the Lord through Teen Mania.   Tabitha and I both stand behind Ron and Katie, and all the staff serving here.  Thank you for your constant support, encouragement, challenging, mentoring, facilitating, coaching, leading, etc.  I will greatly miss you all!

Thanks again, and God bless!

~Brendon

 . . .

Otis Ray

Dear Friends,

Today I am announcing my departure from Teen Mania. I will be moving on to a company in Tyler called Aramark. I will be a service technician working on all their trucks and commercial vehicles. This will be my last and final week here which is crazy to write because so many great things have happened here! But beyond all the memories were just all the great people I have gotten to meet and serve with, and watch grow into amazing people of God!  Thanks for such a great time and great memories over the years; it was a heck of a ride! I hope all of you the best and look forward to keeping in contact with you in the future. I wish you all the best in your service of the Lord. Keep Fighting the Good Fight, for it’s the only one worth living and dying for.

~Otis

 . . .

Jeff Pruett

Today marks 5 years that I have served at Teen Mania Ministries!  What an awesome journey it has been thus far.  I am humbled and amazed to have consistently seen the love and power of God demonstrated in immeasurable ways…eternity will tell!  “5 years never meant so much” It’s truly been my honor to serve these young World Changers. 

~Jeff,  Facebook post, Dec. 18, 2013

An intern’s response:  You are so appreciated!  Your heart is seen by many and by your vulnerability these young hearts know you are the real thing!  Thank you for taking time to meet with interns during meals.  Thank you for being a great example of a selfless leader.

You have made all of the difference if you have made a difference in the life of just one.

“He is the God who sees you.”  Genesis 16:13

Featuring: An HA Alumni Blog- Michael Mistretta

If there is one goal in life I have aspired to in the Lord is to call teenagers into a relationship with Christ. 

Through 3 generations, advancements in media, Internet, travel, entertainment and many shifts in American culture both politically and spiritually, we have bridged many seasons of life!

Today I want to honor one such teenager who definitely grew in wisdom and stature and was among our ranks for 5 years as an Intern, Alumni and Staff member, but who first went on a mission trip as a teen and caught a vision for his life through Teen Mania Ministries. 

Michael is just one of many faithful people who has understood the purpose of God on his life, has served faithfully and God has continued to equip him for his future.   We are so proud that he is one of our own.

Read below two emails I received from Michael in April and July, as he transitioned out of Teen Mania and headed to another mission field pursuing the call of God on his life.

Mistretta with Camel

 

APRIL 2014

Dear friends,

As most of you know, God laid it on my heart over four years ago to move to Israel. And at last, that is actually becoming a reality. Tomorrow will be my last day working at Teen Mania before I pack up and begin my journey to Zion.

I will be spending some time with friends and family over the next month and will be booking a one-way ticket to Israel at the end of May. When in Israel, I will be living in Jerusalem producing media & videos for King of Kings Church as well as teaching at their Kings School of Media, started by former Teen Mania & CCM staff member.

Working production by day, I will be learning Hebrew & studying by night. God has given me a larger long-term vision for the future of the Jewish people and the Church that I will actively be pursuing.

The last five years of my life at Teen Mania have been the absolute best years of my life. It’s here that I encountered God, fell in love with the Bible, matured in my faith, and made lifelong friends that have made the most excellent peers & co-workers. I have been blessed to know and serve alongside each of you. For those of you moving with Teen Mania to Dallas know that I am praying for you and continue to feel connected to the work you are doing for the Kingdom.

I would love to stay in touch.  Shalom!           -Michael

 

JULY 2014

Ron,

Even though I’ve been gone from Teen Mania for two months now, I want you to know that you all are in my thoughts & prayers as you transition to Dallas. I know it’s a big move and transitions aren’t always fun, but I am confident that you are being led by God and am excited to see the fruit of your labors over this past year.

I’ve told you in the past how much Teen Mania has personally impacted my life. I never would have thought when I went on my first mission trip with Global Expeditions that just 8 years later I would be living full-time in Israel (hopefully) for the rest of my life. I can see now how all of those seeds sown over the years have perfectly led me to the place I am right now.

You have been so gracious and generous with my family throughout the years and I wanted to say thank you! The impact you have made is truly lasting.

 Consumed by the same call from Jerusalem           – Michael

ATF Testimonies: 2 Teens 19 Years Apart

Hear from two teens almost two generations apart how a weekend Acquire the Fire event changed their life.  Most teenagers are all for going on a youth group trip, expecting to have some fun and get out of the house but many come away with a radical encounter with God that they were NOT expecting.

Below are two different teens 19 years apart giving testimony as to how a weekend away with God changed their lives. Annie mentions how it wasn’t until she was encouraged “to forgive others” who hurt her, that she was also able to stop hurting (cutting) herself.  Matthew mentioned how he was sick of being on “a continual emotional roller coaster” but was encouraged to develop a passionate relationship with God that further led him to the mission field and to become a youth leader.
ATF 1995
ATF testimony Annie

Thank You Letter from Alumnus

Just recently, the following letter showed up in my mailbox.  What a wonderful surprise!  Sherry, a Teen Mania Alumnus from the 1990’s took the time to write and share the impact Teen Mania had and continues to have on her life, marriage, teenage children going on Global Expedition trips, call to the mission field and the beginning of orphanages in Nepal and the Philippines.  It blesses my heart to know God is continuing to change nations from the vision birthed in our hearts nearly 3 decades ago.

As we continue to do all we can to spark teens to live their lives for Christ and change the world, I am even more resolved to do my small part and let Him do the rest!!!  Read more about Sherry and her family’s life on the mission field below.  You will be encouraged by God’s faithfulness.

Dear Ron Luce,

This is actually the second letter I have written to you. I wrote a letter to you 17 years ago, asking you to send a Teen Mania team to Nepal, where my husband and I were serving as missionaries with YWAM, and someone from Teen Mania wrote me back and the first team from Teen Mania to Nepal was sent out to work with us the following year. My oldest daughter had just been born in Nepal a month before the team arrived. She is now 16 years old, and just left today to go to Haiti with Global Expeditions. My 13-year old daughter left yesterday to go to Peru with Global Expeditions.

I went with Teen Mania twice, when I was 20 and 21 years old, and served as a Missionary Adviser. After graduating from CFNI, I joined YWAM and have been serving with them for over 18 years – 1 year in the US, 8 years in Nepal and 9 years in the Philippines.  I met my husband on the mission field in Nepal and he is a Filipino. We now have 3 beautiful daughters who love Jesus. We were able to start an orphanage in Nepal and also in the Philippines. I am currently the director of Destiny’s Promise Home for Children and we have rescued over 65 children in the last 3 1/2 years and finished building a 3-story orphanage (in the Philippines). My husband runs the SEED Project Asia, a ministry that has trained thousands of church planters throughout Asia over the last 14 years in livelihood projects that help sustain their ministries and give them new opportunities to share the Gospel in unreached people groups throughout Asia.

I wanted to write to thank you for the impact that you and your organization had on my life when I was a youth. It was because of Teen Mania that I am on the mission field. It was during my first trip with Teen Mania that I learned about unreached people groups and knew the Lord was calling me to reach those who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel. It was also because of Teen Mania that I ended up marrying the man I did.  It was on my first missions trip with Teen Mania that I heard a teaching about not dating, but “waiting” on God to let Him lead me to the right person to marry. I made a commitment that summer to stop dating and just wait for the Lord to speak to me when the right person came along. Two years later, the Lord spoke to the man who would become my husband and I on the same morning during our quiet times that we were going to marry and we will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this week.

My 2 teenage daughters and I love to watch the ATF videos online in the Philippines. I just wanted to let you know the impact you have had on my life and thank you for everything that you do. I was married in a church in Michigan called Jackson Church of God, and they just got a new pastor a few months ago named Jim Morrison. He said that he helped to start Teen Mania with you back in the 80′s after he graduated from CFNI. I don’t know if you remember him or not since it was almost 30 years ago, but I thought it was so amazing to meet him and share with him the impact that Teen Mania had on my life.

I look forward to meeting you and your wife one day, whether on earth or in heaven, to personally thank you, as well as all of those who work at Teen Mania, for their hard work and let them know that there are so many people out there that you have impacted like myself that you may not even be aware of who have taken the lessons you have taught and live out every day and allowed those lessons to change their lives and impact the nations for Christ.

God Bless you and all those who are working with Teen Mania Ministries!!! I have put links below to our websites and videos if you would like to know more about who we are and what we are doing in Asia. If you find time to watch the videos (they are between 1-3 minutes in length), please keep in mind that it is because of you and Teen Mania that these ministries are existing today. So thank you again!!!!

Blessings,

Sherry Asprec

TY Letter Alumni Sherry Asprec

www.destinyspromise.org

www.asiaseedproject.org

Destiny’s Promise: https://vimeo.com/96753626

Agaton’s Story: https://vimeo.com/95441984

Kimberly’s Story: https://vimeo.com/95441985

SEED: https://vimeo.com/96251279

 

It is a blessing to receive testimonies from those who have been impacted by Teen Mania Ministries.  After 28 years in ministry, we are fortunate to be positively influencing two generations of World Changers! Do you have a story of how your life has been impacted by Teen Mania? If so, we would love to hear it!

Email: development@teenmania.org.

Seasons Change

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

 

From this passage, it states that there is a time for everything.  Things don’t stay the same.  Change is very much a part of the seasons of life.

With every diverse season, there are natural changes that come with it, from weather and climate, specific activities that need to be done during that season, and even the clothes we wear!  There are many seasons that a person will go through in life depending on their age, marriage, family, career and ministry.

With greater understanding of the season you are in, there are natural and spiritual principles that a person can glean from to obtain the greatest harvest of fruit from that season.

seasons

Spring

As a kid, I never appreciated “spring cleaning” like my mom.  She would have us take out every clean dish, rewash them, scrub out the kitchen cupboards and put them all away again.

I’ve realized as an adult, that these times of taking stock of our lives, de-cluttering excess and reorganizing are important both in the physical and the spiritual.

The spring season brings new opportunities just as in the natural, the warmth of spring produces new buds on the trees and growth from what has been laid dormant during the winter.

In sports, spring training is really preparation for the upcoming season.  The next season in life will definitely come whether we have prepared ourselves or not.  How can I prepare or practice to have a better game?

Planting in the spring represents HOPE and with good seed should come the promise of a good harvest.

A personal question to ask ourselves would be, “What can I do or invest now in my own life to ensure a future harvest?”

Summer

Summer days are the longest and the hottest.  There is a great contrast from working hard and relaxing with fun activities while families take vacations while children are out of school.

Spiritually and physically, it is important to protect what has been planted during this season.  Weeding and watering will ensure an abundant harvest.

Autumn

Autumn comes with much anticipation for harvest and a welcome break from the hot temperatures.  Autumn is both a time of endings and new beginnings as many children and college students start school.

It is a time of harvesting what has been planted.  It is a time of thanksgiving and fruitfulness depending on the diligence of the previous seasons.

Winter

Winter often comes with certain vulnerability as the days shorten, grow colder and more uncomfortable.  It is important to understand that winter is a season of rest, a spiritual Sabbath so to speak, and a time to exist on what has been stored up from the previous seasons.

Winter is also the time to plan for the future as one ceases from labor and trusts the God who holds the future.

 

In conclusion, we are all continuing to grow from our past seasons—our mistakes as well as our successes– and prayerfully plan for the future.   No matter what season you find yourself in, embrace it, because one thing is for sure, it will change, as well each season brings with it a unique plethora of opportunities.

I would propose to you that during season change is an excellent time for examining and perhaps modifying personal habits, mindsets or attitudes.  Whether it is in resting, waiting, reflecting, planting, watering or harvesting, embrace the season you are in as God is always preparing you for what is ahead!

At Teen Mania we have definitely adopted this idea of season change, as we have seen many lives grow and change from one season to another. During many distinct seasons, we’ve seen thousands of teenagers coming and going out to change the world, while the various departments of the ministry grow and adapt to the cultural climate, the age of technological advancement and yet with a sincere desire to remain rooted and grounded in “Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

What Kind of a Tree are You?

What Kind of a Tree are You? 

John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

God often speaks to us through metaphors in His Word.

There are actually numerous kinds of trees, hardwood, and softwood, porous, thorny, rotten and quick growing weeds often mistaken for trees.

When a small tree gets transplanted, it is important to reinforce it to grow in the right direction.  However, if the reinforcements aren’t removed after a certain time, it actually hinders the tree itself as it begins to depend on the supports rather than strengthening its own roots to hold its own structure.

Likewise, some Christians can become very dependent on their support structures instead of learning to rely on God Himself when pressures come.

Trees aren’t meant to live in a greenhouse forever. 

As Christians, it is important to have that early season of frequent watering, infilling of nutrients and constant care.  But for long-term growth, it is equally important to move on to another season of branching out on your own to develop a stronger faith walking out your own personal beliefs.  This means staying hungry (passionate for God), spending time with Him as your greatest source while transitioning from being discipled on a daily basis to eventually discipling others.

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What will you look like after a storm? 

If you have taken time to learn how to encourage and feed yourself in the Lord, you will survive the storms that only serve to make you stronger.  A storm will reveal how deep and durable your roots have grown over time.  Just as some trees are easily blown over by a common storm, others withstand incredible pressure.  There is a such thing as “root rot” caused by differing harmful effects—insects eroding a tree from the inside out, too much water, or just not the right atmosphere in the ground.  It is important to catch this early to prevent completely eroding a tree (or person) from the very core.  Rot-proof your roots!  Inner strength determines a strong exterior.

Circumstances shouldn’t determine how you grow, but YOU determine how you grow.

Within the life of a tree, there are times of pruning to remove dead branches and even cut live branches to create new shoots of growth for the tree.  In our lives, these “dead branches” represent bad habits, poor attitudes and repeated past actions that only cause dead weight and hurt ourselves and others.  Cutting some excess live branches also promotes and actually ensures the greatest long-term life of a tree.  For a person this could mean reducing some good things in our lives to bring out the “best” in us.

Ultimately our greatest purpose is bearing fruit.

Fruit grows naturally in the right conditions and is not stressful or forced.  Plant yourself where you can thrive bearing good fruit that will last.  Find the places where growth is most possible in your life.  Wholesome environments are essential to thrive.