Why Love God the Father?

2 03 2012

The following is an outline from the message that I shared at the juvenile center this past Tuesday evening. Although we may have a wonderful relationship with Jesus, many of us struggle with our relationship with our heavenly Father. I pray this blesses you. You will be even more blessed if you take time to look up and read the Bible verses.

Why Love God the Father?

 

There are 3 parts to God. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Think of it like an egg. There is the shell, the yoke, and the white. 3 parts but only one egg.     Matthew 3:16-17

 Love God the Father because He doesn’t play favorites. Acts 10:35

 Love God because He wants to adopt you into His family. Ephesians 1:4-5, John 1:12

 Once you are adopted, God the Father becomes your dad. Romans 8:14-16 “Abba” is the most intimate way to address your father. It means a tender, loving, daddy. A daddy who is there for you, who cares about you. Who hurts when you are hurting. Who is happy with you when you are happy.                                                                                                        

Love God the Father because you can trust Him. Proverbs 3:5 Most of us think of our heavenly Father as if He were like our earthly father. He is different. He is perfect.

 Love God the Father because He sent Jesus to die in your place. John 3:16

 Love your Father in heaven because He loves you. Ephesians 3:18-19    1 John 4:19

Love God because He proved His love for you. When He sent Jesus to die in your place, He proved His love for you. Romans 5:8

 Love God the Father because He is watching and waiting for you to come home. The Story of the Lost Son is a story of the choices we can make. You may have gone off on your own and did your own thing against God’s wishes. But, when you come to your senses and come to your heavenly Father, He runs to you, He gives you the best, and He throws a big party because you are were lost, but now you are found. You have come home. Luke 15:11-32 (party in verses 23-25) Interestingly . . . We party and run away from Him and He parties when we run to Him.

Love your Father because He forgives all your sins. Psalm 103:3                                                      Love your Father because He removes your sins. Psalm 103:12

Love your Father because He forgets you ever sinned. Isaiah 43:25    

Love your Father because He will never count your sins against you. Romans 4:8

Love your Daddy in heaven because He formed you. Isaiah 49:5

Love your Father because He pours out His grace on you. Ephesians 2:8 (Grace is good things God gives you even though you don’t deserve them.)

Love your Father in heaven because He has plans for your life. Jeremiah 29:11

Love God your Father because He has set you free. Ephesians 1:7

Love your heavenly Father because He is holy. John 17:11 Every part of Him is holy (perfect). His love for you is perfect.

Love God your Father because He put on Jesus all of our sins. Isaiah 53:6

Love your Father because He hears your prayers. Proverbs 15:29

Love your Father because He believes in you. Isaiah 53 (What Jesus did for you.)

Prayer: Father in heaven, I know that I am a sinner. But, because You love me, You sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. Please forgive of all of my sins. I accept You, Jesus, into my heart. Help me to follow you all the rest of the days of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Shalom,

Julie Paul, President

Forgotten Youth Ministries





My Crutch

6 09 2011

My Crutch

                       By Julie Paul

If I was a drinker, I would go out and get drunk.

If I was a teenager, I would listen to punk.

If I was a cutter, now would be a good time.

A druggie, and I would go buy me a dime.

I could veg out in front of my big screen TV.

Buy something new for all the world to see,

 or lose myself inside a video game.

If I sleep way too much will things still be the same?

I could head to the casino to try out my luck,

work or play ‘till I drop, swing a bat, hit a puck.

What’s that? The computer is calling my name . . .

Yet, there’s nothing like a snack to help ease the pain.

With God’s help I will not lean on any of these.

Instead, I’ll get down on my well-worn knees,

and take all of the things that are getting me down

to the One in heaven who is wearing a crown.

With Christ by my side, I know I’ll get through.

His words I rely on, all His promises are true.

I’ll rest with the comfort that He is in charge,

 in His shadow my problems aren’t nearly as large.

His love is so deep, I can’t fully understand,

 but He’s reaching out to me, so I’ll give Him my hand.

He can help me when life is a little too much.

He’s my full-body cast, He’s not just my crutch.

(Written on the 10th anniversary that my son,

Marshall Steven Paul

passed over to go to be with the Lord.)

Copyright 2011 Forgotten Youth Ministries, http://www.fymonline.org

 





Who Am I?

28 07 2011

Me leading worship.

God has moved me into a new position at the juvenile center. For the past 12 years I have brought in guests to do the Tuesday evening GATHER Program at the jc (juvenile center). But, for the past several months, I have been feeling prompted to take over the service. Exciting, but a lot more responsibility than sitting back and enjoying a program someone else is putting on!

In His usual amazing way, and with His perfect timing, God let the present gentleman know the season for him to conduct the service was over and he bowed out exactly when the Lord told me to begin! And all these months I had never mentioned a word to him about it!

So, it is with a thankful heart that I am off to begin serving in a new position at the jc. This last Tuesday was FYM’s time slot and I played guitar and sang and also delivered the message that the Lord instructed me to teach.

The message was Who Am I? because the Lord told me to “Tell them who I am.” I talked about Elohim or God the Mighty Creator and used a world globe as a visual aid to illustrate how God created the heavens and the earth. He also created you, I said.

Yahweh Rophe or The Lord who Heals heals, cures, restores, and makes whole, both body and soul and was demonstrated by showing a stethoscope. The dollar store stethoscope happened to have a heart sticker on it so I was able to use that as a visual aid when I told them that God is very interested in healing our broken hearts.

Yahweh Nissi or God is my Banner was demonstrate by waving an American

"Who Am I?"

flag (even though banners in ancient days were made of wood or metal). This was an important name because, as a Christian under God’s banner, we know who we are and who we represent. We make all our decisions based, not on what other people are doing, but on the Word of God.

Then I read several Hebrew names that all mean the Lord watches over us and keeps us safe. This was a fun one because I used a large plastic castle to represent that God is our strong tower. If you were outside the walls of the castle, I said, and you saw your enemies coming, where would you run? Everyone could see the value of running to the castle.

Last, I taught them about Yahweh Yireh or our Provider. This name is much more powerful than that, I said. It literally means to see then to provide. I demonstrated God’s seeing our needs by shining a flashlight on the globe. Then, I said bringing out a loaf of bread, God provides. This name means God sees our needs before we do and has already made provision!

The invitation came after I explained how God saw the need for a Savior and provided His Son to take our punishment and die in our place on the cross. Why did He do that? Because, I told them, God is love. That’s who God is.

As I led them in the sinner’s prayer, I heard many quiet voices repeating the words and accepting Jesus as their Savior!

The next night I was talking to one of the young men and he shared that when I sang Changed My Life, a song about how my Father took me, a broken and alone person, adopted me, and changed my life, he almost started crying. The surprise must have shown on my face because he added looking at me,  “I  had to hold back.”

Thank you, God, for being there and moving in the hearts and lives of kids in detention. I know you love them. That’s who You are.

 





Jacob & Pidgeon

21 06 2011

Jacob* is a 13 year-old boy at the juvenile center. He is small,   has big brown eyes, and dark curly hair. I can picture Jacob at home, wondering what to do now that he is too old to play with G.I. Joes and to young to drive. Instead, he is locked up for his first offense, larceny

Jacob has no father, doesn’t even know him, but thinks he lives somewhere in  Mexico. Tragically, his mother passed away 2 years ago.  Jacob became an orphan.

His aunt took him in, although he shared with me, she is not really his  aunt. adopted him and, what could have been a story with a happier ending, turned       even more tragic.

It seems his “aunt” has been physically, verbally, and emotionally abusing him. Because she threatened him, he has been afraid to tell anyone about the abuse. He told me that recently, when he got into trouble at school and sent home, she hit him across the face, cutting his lip open. When he came into detention, she told him she didn’t want him anymore. He is too much trouble. I’m not sure where he will go from here. Foster care is a definite possibility.

After hearing Jacob’s story, I shared the gospel with him using the FYM Bible Study The TRUTH: Are You Going to Heaven?. I could see joy come into his eyes as I shared how much God loves him and what Jesus did for him when he took his place on the cross. The hope that came into his life was evident on his face. He was totally ready to accept Jesus as his Savior.

We met again to talk about the adoption that took place according to John 1:12. Together, we worked through The TRUTH: You Have Been Adopted Bible Study. What a privilege it was for me to be able to teach him that he has a heavenly Father, one that wanted to adopt him because He loves him, and one that will never leave him!

We prayed together and I promised Jacob I would continue to pray for him and would ask others to pray for him. He is a very precious child and needs our prayers. And, not just this one  boy, the detention center is full of children who have suffered tragedy after tragedy. The Bible says to “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering,” Hebrews 13:3 (NIV).

      On June 8, 2011 Walt Wiley (trail name “Pidgeon”) started hiking  the Appalachian Trail for FYM! That’s right! It turns out Pidgeon met last  years hiker,  Robert  (trail name “Baba”) on the trail and was so impressed by his kindness, and the cause Baba was hiking for, he  decided to follow in his footsteps . . . no pun intended.

And, by the way, hiking the Appalachian Trail for FYM in 2012 would be a wonderful way for YOU to support the mission work we do with detained kids. What? You don’t want to dust off those hiking boots? Well okay, another option is to sponsor Pidgeon while he does the work and we sip lemonade in our lawn chairs and read about it. Hmmm . . . hike 550 miles or sip lemonade . . . hike 500
miles or sip lemonade?

Pidgeon’s journal entries are quite interesting and you can follow along
by going to http://trailjournals.com. Once there, click on Journals, then
enter “Pidgeon” in the Search bar (after Walter Pidgeon, hence the spelling)
then open 2011. You will come to the last journal entry he made. However,
you can go back to the first entry and follow his hike thus far.
My goal is to have every mile Pidgeon hikes sponsored. Pidgeon has set a goal of 500 miles, so we have some work to do to help him help us. You can sponsor one mile for $10, 2 miles for $20, and so on. To sponsor Pidgeon online go to http://www.fymonline.org/donate. By the way, Baba’s hike last year raised a total of (drum roll please) $2075! Thanks to Baba for all his hard work hiking and thanks to you for supporting it!

There is no doubt that God is blessing the work we do here at FYM. But, we could not fulfill the mission of helping to transform the broken, crime-filled lives of juvenile offenders into healthy, productive, God-serving members of society without you. I need you. FYM needs you, and teens like Jacob need you. Thank you for your support!

Many Blessings,

Julie Paul

 

*Not his real name





God’s Power at Work in the JC

6 05 2011

Trent, a 16 year old boy in the JC (Juvenile Center or Jesus Center, as I like to think of it) was working with me through The TRUTH Bible Study called “The Truth About Choosing Friends“. As the name implies, this study teaches what the Bible has to say about how to choose good friends, something every teen in detention needs to learn about.

When we were about halfway through, Trent stopped writing, looked down at the table and said, “Aw, man.” He shook his head from side to side like he had just been given bad news and repeated, “Aw, man.”  He then looked up and me with eyes that were moist with tears and said, “I don’t listen to my friends and do the wrong thing. I am the one who doesn’t listen to them. Then I go and do the wrong thing.”  Wow! He then went on to give me some examples of how this had been the case with both friends and family in the past.

Then he said looking down at the table again, he had something else to tell me. “I lied to you about the gun.” There was deep regret in his voice. He went on to tell me what really happened the day he was arrested.

This is phenomenal for a teenage boy in detention, and one with a weapons charge. I feel so proud of Trent for the transformation I am seeing in him. I am so happy that he opened his heart to God and allowed Him to move. How could he ever be transformed into a healthy, productive, God-serving member of society if he kept his heart closed to the Lord?

This was not easy for Trent and it’s not easy for us. How often have I ignored the Lord when He was trying to correct me? How often have I hesitated to confess my sins to someone else?

So Trent, I know you won’t be able to read, this but I am proud of you and I am very thankful for the relationship that is developing between you and the Lord and how you are allowing Him to work in your heart and life.

By God’s Amazing Grace,

Julie





A Letter From a Boy

8 04 2011

Dear Child of God,

The following letter was sent to me by a boy I met in the detention center. His was a very sad situation because he was a ward of the state. Both his parents had somehow lost custody of him. So, at 15, he had no parents and no home.

After I shared the gospel message with him, he willingly accepted Jesus as his Savior. He then began to complete The TRUTH Bible Studies, very eager to learn more about the Bible and God. When he left the center a few weeks later, seeds had been planted in his heart.

A couple of months later, I opened the mailbox to find the enclosed letter! As I read it, I became very excited! This was a teenager who had taken the time to painstakingly write and ask for more of The TRUTH Bible Studies! And, not only for himself, but for his friends! It seems he had been busy evangelizing at the facility where he was sent! The seeds that had been planted were growing and producing fruit!! Isn’t that wonderful?!! Praise God!!!

Let me pause and say that it can become easy to get discouraged while working for the Lord. Especially when we can’t see the big picture. But, God always knows what He’s doing! He has been leading me to plug away at these studies for a reason. After I received this letter, I found out that an inmate in Kincheloe Prison in Michigan is leading his own Bible studies with the other inmates. His curriculum? The TRUTH Bible Studies!

And, last month The TRUTH studies went                      international! That’s right, the first 5 have been   translated into Spanish and are being used in Costa Rica! It seems that God is pulling out all the stops to bring people to Him. What a honor it is for us to be a partner with Him!

More Good News!  FYM is gearing up to start The Garden Program again this spring at the juvenile center. Michelle and The MSU Master Gardeners are making plans and setting  goals for the 2011 garden. Also, the cooking and nutrition classes held last summer have continued through the winter and are now a year-round program. Praise God!

The Tutoring Troubled Teens Program is going strong and helping detained boys and girls improve their reading and math skills thanks to the guidance of our 2 retired teachers, Dale & Cindy. Education is essential in helping the kids in detention to be successful in life. It comes as no surprise that these kids have had very little one-on-one attention, so what a wonderful way to show the love of Jesus!

More Good News! Through our newest program, Live to Give, FYM has been able to continue to provide clothing for the families of juvenile offenders. Most recently, several boxes of new items were given out including 35 pairs of shoes! We have also provided laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap, and hand soap for these families. What isn’t used for the families of the detained kids is being donated to the drug court. These go to moms who have been on drugs and lost custody of their children but have since become “clean” and are now trying to rebuild their lives and get their children back. As you can imagine, these mothers have absolutely nothing and really need our help getting their lives back on track.

Praise Report! One of the openings for The TRUTH Program has been filled by our very own Gabriel Martinez. Gabe has been coming into the juvenile center for the group program in the gym for 8 years and also serves on the board of directors. Welcome to The TRUTH Program, Gabe!

Since all of the FYM programs are offered to detained teens free of charge, the cost of Bibles, incentives, and materials, along with operating expenses, are all covered through private donations from churches and from people like you. Would you like to be a part of what we do at FYM? Help us reach out to detained girls and to boys like the one who sent me the letter. You never know what God will do with a seed planted in the heart of a juvenile in detention.

And don’t forget these teens desperately need your prayers! When you pray for the children in your life, would you add a few sentences for the children in detention? Your prayers are powerful! Just a few words offered on their behalf can really make a difference.

As you can tell, the Lord is really making things happen at FYM. (I can hardly wait to see what He does next!) He is amazing and I praise Him for His goodness and mercy! Until next time . . .

Love in Christ,

Julie Paul

Here is the letter I received from the boy . . .

To Ms. Julie,

This is (name blocked) from Saginaw detention on Hospital Rd. I am in placement now and I have been here for about four and a half months. The Placement I am at is in Vassar. I am writing you about those Bible Study sheets that you said I could do for the Bibles and those other books. I would like to do those and I know three other kids that I was talking to that would like to do them too so I was wondering if you could send me a few copies of the first couple work sheets, if you could do that for me and send it here at this address. I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

P.S: I am still doing good.





It’s About Me

7 02 2011

While driving in my car recently, suddenly I had a thought. “I could spend this time praying!” Yes, I knew I would be on the highway but hadn’t really thought about how to spend the time. (What can I say?)

Anyway, just as I began to pray, I heard the Lord say, “I want you to focus on my goodness.” No problem! So, I started by thinking about His grace. But, just as I was getting started, a feeling, like a thief in the night, passed over me. There were no exact words but if I were to put it into words it would go something like this, “How sad for you. You don’t deserve God’s goodness.” Then, a heavy, sorrowful feeling and something not to far removed from shame weighed down on me.

Immediately God spoke to me. He said, “Wait a minute, it’s not about you. It’s about me.”

There was kindness in the Lord’s words but there was also a hint of a reprimand. Kindness, I’m sure because He is so kind. A reprimand because I was not supposed to be thinking about myself, He wanted me to be thinking about Him. Dare I say that to think of myself at a time like that, even about my inadequacies, was prideful? (ouch)

In Hebrews 11: 6 the Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Consider, this is only a list of 2. First, we must believe that He is. Second, right after that very fundamental belief, is the requirement that we must believe that He is a rewarder. How important that must that be to God, that we believe in His grace. It’s right there, right after believing that He exists! Yes, it’s all about who He is.

Since He spoke this to me I have been fully enjoying His goodness. How amazing is the feeling I experience when I focus on God’s goodness! (And, of course, I have incorporated all this into one of The TRUTH Bible Studies for the kids in detention.)

One final thought. Remember the lines from the poem The Mask?                   The voices that tell you you’re not good enough, they lie.                                        If God thought you could be perfect, why send Jesus here to die?

Yes, it’s all about who He is.

Blessings,

Julie








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