Last Sunday (two Sundays ago), we had a young man and his wife visit our church as we look for a youth leader. His background is from the Midwest (Minnesota) and west coast (Oregon), so he was immersed in the culture of Texas, West Texas, for the first time. I was officially immersed in the West Texas culture in 2000, so my memories are still fresh coming from a foreign land (Houston) to this part of the state and learning about the culture here. During a Sunday presentation, the potential candidate was talking about what competes with our youths' time, and he got the typical answers like school events and outside activities like youth sports. I'm not certain, but I believe I heard an audible gasp when the young man said, "Football won't get you into heaven." I'm almost certain the parents covered their children's ears and ran out from the room when he said that. Well, okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad bit. We did interview a potential youth leader.
In all seriousness, our church did confirm 16 young men and women last Sunday (yesterday). As our pastor noted, this confirmation is not to be confused with "graduation," implying that in one ceremony, we note a passage that means there is a new step in life after the ceremony. In confirmation, we "confirm" that these youth have learned about the foundations of faith, in addition to the teachings of the Lutheran faith (really both the same), as well as speaking to the impact these teachings have on them as Christians.
However, confirmation is not a graduation. Once confirmed, these young men and women continue in their faith walk. The challenge, however, is to navigate their faith through the competitions the young man asked about the previous Sunday. In fact, these competitions will become more challenging and the temptations only greater, especially as they move out from under the wings of mom and dad.
What are the competitions in your life? What things challenge your faith and your time to observe, devote in Word and prayer, and spend time in service to Christ through our daily walk with our fellow man? Paul writes this: "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13 - 14).
Pray that we focus on that upward call in Christ Jesus. Pray that we not allow life's "competitions" take us away from our walk in Christ. Pray for these young men and women who gave a public witness to their faith through their Confirmation yesterday.
Hope Men's Ministry