To the teams of West Brook & Kelly,
I hope your time throughout this holiday season has been unbelievably sweet. There were points where I forgot I even had a cell phone due to simply enjoying the time traveling with my family. Even as I write this I'm enjoying a warm fire at the beach, while we lounge on the couch under both blankets and the weather.
I've had the opportunity to catch up on a ton of reading in this down time as well, something I've been admittedly desperate for in the scrambling that we call Fall. '7 Men' by Eric Metaxas was one such book that I couldn't put down. Riding the coattails of a book I read on martyrs of the faith, '7 Men' focused more on living achievements with a truly notable deflection of glory - calling that a refreshing recovery read would be an understatement.
In a section on William Wilberforce, the British equivalent of George Washington to some degree, Metaxas said that "Wilberforce was someone who took the Bible seriously, and as a result of this belief, he literally changed the world." Think about how awesome that statement is.
I instantly began to think about our Campaigner friends and what we pray for them daily - "Lord, do in them what you're doing in us: eyes to see their school and a heart to see it know You." But do we really believe that this is possible? Do we really believe that the mass that is West Brook High School and the Mass of Kelly High School (pun intended) are ever really going to care about this whole Jesus thing? I mean, yeah they are showing up, but do they really care? I know we all can relate to Young Life's founder Jim Rayburn when he says "I can't wait to get to heaven to see if any of this stuff actually works."
New Years often comes with reflections and goals, a sentimental time, no doubt. So let me tug at your heart in this tender moment and remind you of the opportunity of a lifetime, the great adventure, the holy grail, the fight for freedom, the final match between Rocky and that Russian guy, Maverick on his motorcycle as the sun sets over an Air Force Base, etc. .. Actually, Etc. You were made for this dramatic life that has beat you down and spread you thin! You were made to be here, walking to yet another race of a semester, preparing to place your feet against the blocks, and if we're being honest, probably dreading the gun going off. All that anxiety to set the stage for the Hero in us all. The faint memory of why you signed up for this in the first place comes roaring back - that every kid deserves to hear that they are loved. Every kid deserves to hear the Gospel. There is a Hero for every kid and miraculously, you were made for this story.
In John Eldridge's short shot in the arm book, Epic, he writes about this story of yours:
"An Epic. Something hidden in the ancient past.
Something dangerous now unfolding.
Something waiting in the future for us to discover.
Some crucial role for us to play.
Christianity, in it's true form, tells us that there is an Author and that he is good, the essence of all that is good and beautiful and true, for he is the source of all these things, It tells us that he has set our hearts' longings within us, for he has made us to live in an Epic. It warns that the truth is always in danger of being twisted and corrupted and stolen from us because there is a Villain in the story who hates our hearts and wants to destroy us. It calls us up into a story that is truer and deeper than any other, and assures us that there we will find the meaning of our lives.
What if all the great stories that have ever moved you to joy or tears -- what if they are telling you something about the true story into which you were born, the Epic into which you have been cast?"
I reckon John 10:10 would have served just fine.. but isn't Eldridge's style fun?
The thief comes to kill steal and destroy, but I come so that you may have life and life to the fullest.
For both schools, Campaigners will look different this semester as we strive to communicate the grander story of these kid's lives. West Brook will be meeting together every week and splitting half way through to discuss in more focused groups. Pippins has some great ideas with Kelly that ultimately will result in the same style as West Brook.
We have an opportunity to share our lives with these kids. They're going through some pretty dramatic stuff, and frankly, they wouldn't have it any other way. They are longing for the dramatic - A place to call home, a leader, a hero, to grab them by their hand and take them on the adventure of their life. Are you up for the call? A semester of opportunities are under the metaphorical tree ready to be opened. And don't just take it from me, believe Doc when I write, a present is opened to be enjoyed!
"Wilberforce was someone who took the Bible seriously, and as a result of this belief, he literally changed the world." Let's go!
As we all know, a boring faith isn't something we are immune to. To place a cherry on this email by using a buzz word - we need community. We can't force this and I don't intend to so I ask you to please read this last part carefully. For all leaders, we are introducing a night called "Leadership" on every Friday night from 6-9 with dinner provided. It is 100% optional and Brenna & I will be hosting every night we are available. Nights we're not available will be moved to another leader's house. Each team will agree the month before on which Friday night will be mandatory for a team meeting. This way, you can pencil in every Friday night as an opportunity to be with other believers in a fun and encouraging way. And since it's already on the calendar as a "taken" night, leader meetings will simply fall in line. This will start the February 2 and you're welcome to invite friends outside of our leadership team. This is to build community, not place it in a box.
Lastly, do you want to write? 'younglifesetx.com' is technically our area's blog and I would love to see more writing take place. An open letter like this is something that I thought would be fun to kick it off, but please feel free to let me know if you have a desire to write about some topics worth sharing such as "Mark's take on the Gospel", "Leviticus Today", or of course "Best Burger Joints in Beaumont".
“Glory Be!” Said the Cabby. “I’d a’been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.” (C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew) You guys continue to change my life for the better.