Guest Writer: Amelia Rogers–One Last L2L Post

BLESSED: A L2L TRIBUTE

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” -Hebrews 10:23-24

IMG_0978I feel like myself again.

We just got back from what is maybe my favorite weekend of the entire year—Lads to Leaders. All of the emotional and physical exhaustion that follows has set in hard, but I am so happy. This weekend was the last time I will ever be a participant in Lads, and I want to share everything that this program has meant to me.

For the last ten years, I have spent each Easter weekend at L2L convention, participating in Bible Bowl, speech, songs of praise, puppets, and celebrating the year-round work of my youth group and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I have made friends with the girls in my grade level as we have grown up competing together, not seeing each other as opponents but as sisters. I have made memories of nights with my favorite people, doing each other’s hair and makeup and cheering each other on. I have experienced God’s love through the smiling faces of moms who have encouraged and supported me just as much as they do their own daughters, and through the judges who have not been harsh, but rather kind.

The first time I went to Lads was in 3rd grade. I had no idea what I was in for, but it turned out to be one of the best times I’d ever had. All I knew then was that I loved to be with my friends and win trophies. What I didn’t know was how much God was working through Lads to make me grow.

DSCN0992My parents made shy little third grade me give a speech. I was mostly terrified, but I did it. A few years later, I led a song in girls songs of praise for the first time—something I thought I would never do. I kept doing speeches, and I kept leading songs, and though the nervousness was still there, I became more and more comfortable with getting up in front of people. And all of sudden, I realized that I enjoyed public speaking. Not only that, but I loved to speak about God. The last few years, I have been blessed with opportunities to speak at ladies classes and lead girls devotionals, and I love L2L because I never would have been able to speak in front of people without the practice and the encouragement that I received there. 

Bible Bowl with its endless multiple choice seemed a little too much like school when I first started. But looking back, I am so grateful for how much this event has gotten me into God’s Word, with incredible teachers and persistent reason to dig into and learn from books of the Bible that were chosen each year.

IMG_0375At L2l, you will often hear the phrase, “Everyone is a winner.” This year, I was up on stage with people that I’ve grown close to just because of participating in Lads together, and we were all happy for and cheering for each other no matter what we placed. In my speech room, all eight of us girls took a group trip to the bathroom halfway through, all nerves and excitement, but together, connected in sisterhood rather than divided as competitors. My friends Rachel and Melanie are from Missouri and we see each other only once a year at Lads, but our friendship will last a lifetime. That is why Lads to Leaders matters. That is how everyone is a winner.

I wore a bracelet all last weekend that simply reads, “Blessed.” Each time I looked down at my wrist, I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up how much my heart was overflowing with the goodness and joy that God has given me through Lads to Leaders.

I will always treasure my years as a participant in the Lads to Leaders program. But now, being on the other side for the first time, I have started to see the ways Lads will continue to be a part of my life. I will come back to support the younger girls in my youth group who are still participating. I will be a judge and have the opportunity to share God’s love by encouraging young participants with kindness. And maybe someday, I will bring my own children to Lads to Leaders, and watch God work in them as they grow and experience the same joy from Lads as I did.

If you’ve never heard of Lads to Leaders, please learn about it. If you’ve never been, please go. It will change your life. Or rather, God will change your life through the opportunities and the people and the growth that make L2L so special.

Thank you, God, for blessing me with Lads to Leaders.

“O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.” -Psalm 71:17

 

Amelia

Sister to Sister: Convention Exhaustion

12719136_893926583309_1021361005546787560_oThis is how we all felt…a combination between delirium and utter exhaustion. I think Ezra was just the only one who was okay with expressing it in public. (It would probably be a better world if we were all without guile…completely honest… like Ezra is at eighteen months old.)

In fact, hundreds of children did incredible things over the weekend and in preparation for the Lads to Leaders convention. It’s pretty special to see teenagers getting extremely excited about studying the role of women in the New Testament church. It’s exhilarating to watch early elementary aged kids answering questions about the details of the book of Acts. To see a teen girl in her last year of Lads competition having difficulty finishing her speech about being the Proverbs 31 woman simply because it’s so emotional to sum up life goals as she steps away from childhood and into the “real world” where there will be such pressure from the devil to step away from those goals…well, that made me summarize my own goals and think about whether or not I’m being true to them.

The convention is over. I could not have physically survived another day of such intense  fellowship and overpacked scheduling. But the effects will linger. I think they will linger into eternity. We counted about 10,000 people in the Nashville convention, one of six conventions nationwide. We could count trophies, ribbons, events, rooms booked and fees paid. But we cannot count the seeds planted in hearts. We will just do our best to keep planting and watering them, though, and let our amazing God give the increase.

 

Sister to Sister: Lads to Leaders–Not the Convention, but the Conviction

 

12524410_10153354725341384_2141875503953047451_nWe’re on our way to the Lads to Leaders convention in Nashville today, where we will witness boys and girls from pre-K through twelfth grade participating in Bible bowl, displaying artwork and scrapbooks, reading scripture, leading songs and speaking (girls to girls’ audiences only), debating, being awarded for memorizing a hundred of verses from God’s Word—and so much more. Boys will be awarded for learning how to be protectors and providers for their future homes and girls will be awarded for several categories in which they are learning to be keepers at home. One young man I know who participates has been raised in a home where his mom lives with her lesbian partner, but he plans to be a gospel preacher, thanks to faithful people who have taken an interest in him. He is faithful and will attend a Christian university this fall to get the training needed. But he is already preaching on many Sundays. Two young siblings I know lost their father this year. He was a missionary and now that they have moved almost around the world, they are carrying on his tradition of being in the Word and working to promote the church for a whole new generation. I heard them Sunday as they practiced and prepared. At least six that I know have lost grandparents this year and another young man I know has been working to be a good example to his father who is not a Christian. I know one young man from a single-parent home who’s been working pretty hard this year to help his mom regroup after a big life transition. They are all just kids, but they are adapting and making the most of some pretty challenging times as they grow in the Lord.

I recall one incident in which a young person was practicing his Lads speech, in which he boldly explained what the Lord would have us do to be saved. At the end of that particular practice round, a “mentor” from his small audience said “I need to be baptized for the remission of sins. I  have become aware and convicted by what this child has taught me today.”

I praise God for these young people. We are taking 115 people to this amazing and encouraging event. But I remind myself constantly that it is not the convention that makes the difference for the Lord’s church. It is is the conviction. The preparation, practice and the whole process puts conviction in their young hearts.

There are three children, now adults, who grew up in the program who are very important to me. They all spoke convicting messages to groups of adults this last weekend. Two of them do this  every weekend, and lots of times in between.They are all mentors in the Lads program now and two  of them are raising my grandson to use his talents for the greatest cause on earth. Let me tell you: I would not trade our time spent using the valuable Lads to Leaders tool for anything in the world. I’m praying for every child who participates this weekend—for safety, for boldness as he/she participates. Most of all, I’m praying for their futures and the seeds planted this year for the harvest in eternity.

Books Are Better than Siri.

150508162751-ben-carson-and-mom-super-169Glenn and I recently read One Nation, by Dr. Ben Carson. There were many impressive things about the life of this presidential candidate. One early factor that influenced Dr. Carson was the  fact that his mother (left), who was illiterate, decided early on that Ben and his brother were to read two books each week and submit to her a written report on those books. Now, she could not read those reports, but they did not know that. She put checkmarks all over them and underlined passages within them and they were convinced that she was reading them carefully. At first, the boys hated doing this task; one that was required before they could enjoy leisure activities. But soon, as books tend to do, those stories of heroism, adventure and far-away places drew them in. The more they read, the more they wanted to read…and know.  Dr. Carson credits this reading requirement, made by a diligent  mother, who could not read herself,  with his decision to become a physician.

It’s sad to me that, in so many cases today, reading has been replaced by video games, television and iPhones. Kids today can hardly believe that, only about three decades ago, if we wanted
to know about someone or about some historical event, we traveled to the library and looked through some drawers with cards that listed and organized the thousands of books in the building. From the directions on those cards, we could find the books on the library shelves. We then chose several relevant books to take home and we poured through those books till we found the information that we wanted to know. Then we made a trip to return the books. When our kids want to know something, they press the reset button on their phones until Siri says, “How may I help you?”.

But something is missing when all of our questions are answered by Siri or even by typing a key word in a search bar. So often the search engine takes us to the answer to the specific query but we bypass all the peripheral knowledge that we accessed in the “old days” during the search. The search was the goldmine of knowledge and, yes…even wisdom. As Dr. Carson saw, the “answers” to life might not be on the particular page to which that search engine speeds.

bc2baa3dc2b725dae5ac1d36d2ae17d7So, today, I want to encourage you moms to be sure your kids are surrounded by books. Read to them and do so with enthusiasm. Put expression into the “voices” you use for various characters. Be sure the books are wholesome and pure and that the books that are non-fiction really are NON-fiction (not historically revised or politically corrected). Take them to the local library at times when you do not have to be rushed and spend time helping them choose books. Make sure they even have a list of rules about how to care for books and that they properly care for and return borrowed books. (The Mr. Wiggle series of books by Paula Craig and Carol Thompson might be helpful for young children.)  In general, teach them that books are treasures. Of course, it’s okay to do research online, but your kids will benefit from loving books, too…the kind they can carry around with them and pass along to their children and grandchildren one day.

This year, the girls in the West Huntsville church, as a part of their Lads to Leaders participation, are being given the opportunity to complete the Information Resources section of the Keepers at Home program.  Each student will collect and organize (or locate) a minimum of twenty books (digital and/or hardcopy) including recipe books, literary classics, Bible resource books, and children’s literature. This collection of resources must be seen and approved by a Keepers mentor. This “library” will be used at least once during the year in (a) entertaining young children without pay while their parents are working in a church-related activity or (b) conducting a Bible study with a non-Christian or a new Christian.

Of course, meeting this goal will not make these girls voracious readers, but at least it’s a baby step in their personal library development. I’m grateful to Peggy Coulter for volunteering to oversee this “book collecting” activity. I know the girls will benefit from actually using their libraries to bring glory to our Father in our congregation.

Perhaps, even if your church is not doing the Lads program, you can develop a similar program to foster a love of books and a willingness to use books to accomplish great things in His vineyard. I’m thankful our children are being trained in the Lads to Leaders Program (www.lads2leaders.com) and especially for the Keepers at Home portion of the program as well as it’s counterpart for boys called, simply, Providers.

 

Sister to Sister: Tooth, Truth, Youth…

Arrows-in-our-Hand1400After two failed attempts at a root canal, the problematic tooth was coming out yesterday. Scheduled for 11:30, the doctor’s office called at 8:10 yesterday and said “Hospital emergency for the doctor….Can you come now?” So I hurried. Since I’d stayed up very late the night before cleaning up a after a really fun West Huntsville Ladies-Night-Out party here, I was dragging yesterday. So I really had to rev it up to “come now” for the dreaded extraction. But it would be over soon…just a local anesthetic and a yank, right? Well, that’s what I’d been told…

But when I finally got back there with the doctor, which was around 11:30 after all, he informed me that I really didn’t want to go through what he was about to do while awake. Of course, going to sleep is usually the best part about my day, but this kind of “going to sleep” I absolutely abhor. And it involved all kinds of complications, too, like, calling my husband who had our car in the shop, at the moment, and enlisting help in post-surgery transportation. (If you see the church van over at the hospital, that’s the reason. We need to go get that van.) It also involved removing articles of clothes, for IVs and such, that I had planned to wear all day. Let’s just say…not good. It involved being “drunk” for a few hours that I thought I just could not spare, not to mention the many laughs, at my expense, that Glenn always has whenever I am medically “drunk”. He asks lots of Bible questions and elicits responses about food preparation, etc….

But it is OVER. Today is mushy food, salt water swishes, and compresses. But, better yet, today is a bit of unanticipated rest…and I have no car, so I cannot go anywhere. The house is quiet, for a change, and I just listened to one of my favorite podcasts called “Arrows in Our Hands”. I love this podcast because there’s nothing superficial here in the instruction about  service to Christ in the family. It’s from a young family, the Wesley Skeltons, who are just like you….They want every family member to be in heaven one day. So along, the way, they are searching out and sharing their best methods and tools to accomplish that—the ultimate goal of all truly Christian parents. Simply put, they are constantly finding ways to put the truths of God’s Word into the hearts of their children, Hannah Kate, Micaiah, and Sarah Grace.

This episode was special to me because they discussed a program that’s dear to my heart: the Lads to Leaders program. I love this program because it enabled our family, as Caleb and Hannah were growing up, to purposefully develop skills for serving Christ and His people. It was invaluable as we brought them up. This episode also features Ben and Hannah Giselbach, so that was another fun aspect of listening. (My favorite folks, Ezra and his friend Sarah Grace, were in the background making noise. They were not being interviewed, but they did participate.)

If you are serious about helping your children grow up to be faithful, but in need of a great resource to help you stay on track, I hope you will give this a listen. Then I hope you will take the time to check out the resources that are posted on this page. I can’t do for you what every parent who wants to one day sit around the throne with God should be doing. But I can share some resources with you that can greatly enhance your chances. Here you go:

http://arrowsinourhand.blogspot.com/2015/06/aioh-s1e14-leadership-training.html

Sister to Sister: Oh Shepherd, Where Art Thou?

Headed-to-the-OfficeWhere? Where were the brave men in the church in Memphis, Tennessee who should have stood up and said, “We cannot bypass the expressed Will of God in First Timothy 2 by sanctioning the leadership of women in prayer and song in our worship? We simply cannot allow this to happen.”

Where were elders in Franklin, Tennessee during the years of digression that culminated in the hiring of the first woman pulpit intern at that church? Were there some who fought, at least for a time?

Where are elders in churches where groups of worshippers are clamoring for change; advocating the use of instruments in worship, the taking of communion on various days of the week, and  special religious observances on Easter and Christmas? Where are the shepherds?

Where are the bishops today when young couples are finding their way to divorce courts, young singles among us are openly living in fornication, and millennials are falling away in percentages that are taking our breath away? Are they going after them?

Some are. But in far too many churches, shepherds are not keeping the vigil. False teachers are allowed to bring heresy in and leaders allow Christians to scratch their heads and observe “Well, this is different than anything I’ve heard,” without coming before the people and refuting plain contradictions of the Word. So often, they fail to mark those who are causing division and, thus, churches divide and the Cause of Jesus suffers as communities see brethren who are splintering churches.

But, Cindy Colley, are you just ranting? This is a women’s blog and the sisters to whom you write cannot lead churches (except those churches you’re taking about which digress)!

There is something you can do. I would LOVE, through this blog to make a difference in the future of a congregation. What if we could do it through a book? I think we can. I want to encourage you to take a copy of “Headed to the Office” to your elders and respectfully ask them to let your boys take a quarter and study how to become faithful elders. What if you wrote your elders a note that  simply asked them to consider it?…

Dear Brothers,

Thanks for all the time spent in working to make our congregation pleasing to God. Thanks for protecting our souls. I hope you can take the time to look over this material. I’m praying for sound elders one day to take your places in shepherding this church. I think a quarter or two in a class of young men with this material could make a difference in getting there. Thanks for considering this! 

If your congregation is doing Lads to Leaders, your boys can enroll in the program through LADS. The material is here: http://l2l.mybigcommerce.com/curriculum/. But even if you’re not in the LADS program, this study is needed and may be the early intervention that gives your congregation the stamina to one day withstand the devil in a mighty way. I would encourage you to go order one copy…just one…to pass along to your elders. I’m convinced it’s a tiny investment that could keep congregations strong through what threatens to be an era of persecution.

Again, you can order from Lads to Leaders (not necessary to be a participating congregation) at the above link or, alternately, you can order from The Colley House at http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/~/category/id=3290179&offset=0&sort=normal. Nine dollars. Not much to invest in strong shepherds for the next generation in your congregation.

PS. An added benefit that we have seen is that men grow when they teach this material to boys. Some classes even include dads and mentors and it puts the church on a fast track to having strong qualified elders. I’m praying about this tool today. I’m praying for strong churches when today’s teens take the reins. They have huge potential handed to them by God and by an environment of available resources. We should challenge them to put  this potential to work in the only institution on earth that commutes over to the timeless side.