Saturday, August 05, 2006

Growth in the Spirit for Teens

Growth in the Spirit

Do you have your drivers’ permits or a license yet?
Soon you’ll be graduating from high school and going on to college.
You’ll probably have a big party for your 21st birthday.
These are all social indicators of growth. You will have achieved a certain age in society at which driving or going to college or drinking is allowed. But all that means is you’ve been alive enough years to be able to do those things. It’s physical growth but arguably doesn’t require a lot more from you.
To learn how to drive responsibly….to go to college and achieve your full potential…to be allowed to drink but know your limits…that’s a better kind of growth.
Let me talk about a different example of growth. It’s one Jesus gave in John 15:5:
“I am the Vine. You are the branches. With me you will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you will do nothing.”
Obviously the strongest part of the tree is the root b/c it keeps the entire height of the tree and all its branches alive. God is our Root and b/c God is holy, we, the branches, are holy. If the branches stay close on the tree and get their energy from the root they will continue to grow. If a branch breaks off- it doesn’t get fed. It withers away and dies. It’s useless. A branch that remains on the vine not only continues to grow but bears fruit…BECAUSE it got fed from the root, not b/c of anything the branch did itself.
Jesus used that story as a way to explain to his disciples that they should stay close to Him. They should let him feed them so they can grow and “bear much fruit.” That should really give us confidence and self esteem if you think about it. You aren’t some twig growing up in the wilderness all on your own. You lucky people are a part of the Vine. The Vine. And simply b/c of that you are valuable and important. We may all be different branches (oak, dogwood, maple, weeping willow) but we’re connected to the Vine and b/c the Vine is holy so are we. We didn’t do anything to deserve that, God is just that generous. God’s holiness flows through us b/c He is our Root. Remember God said this in John 15. I’m not making this up.

And if we stay close to the vine we will ‘bear much fruit,’ Scripture says. It doesn’t say you stay close to God only – you, yes YOU will Bear Much Fruit. Not a little fruit – MUCH fruit. So that’s all you have to do if you want a great life. Stay close to God. And it works well for God, too b/c you bear fruit for him and the gifts he gave you get shared. Everyone’s happy J
How do you make sure you stay a part of the Vine? How do you feed from God the Vine so you, the branch can grow?

They say CPR saves lives. Well I’m saying the real answer is CPS.
Communion. Prayer. Scripture.
Communion is Eucharist. Eucharist IS Jesus. It’s not bread. It’s not just something we Catholics do at Mass on Sunday. It’s not symbolic. It IS Jesus. We’re the only religion that can say that. No other faith believes the bread is Jesus Himself. For them it’s only a symbol.
One non Catholic woman in a wheel chair said that if she really believed that nothing would stop her from crawling out of her wheel chair up the aisle to receive the Body of Christ.
If you were home everyday and your mom made you 3 meals a day that you refused to eat, what would happen to your body? Same thing can happen to your hungry soul if it doesn’t get fed with the Eucharist.
I believe God made me.
I believe God put certain ingredients together inside of me and those ingredients make me unique. They make me me. Eg: I am extremely organized. I love Tina Turner, Cher and Rod Stewart. I also love reading the lives of the saints. These are strange ingredients but God made me so I don’t question them.
Anyway if I’m made by God then I should return to him – my Maker – to develop my potential with the ingredients he gave me. It’s like there’s a warranty on me – so for all repairs I have to go my Maker. Receiving the body of my Creator fills me and repairs me. It takes me back to who I’m meant to be. It’s home. I’m fed. I’m strong again.
If God knit me together in my mother’s womb as it says in the Psalms, where else WOULD I go to get fed, fixed up, strengthened and ready to face the world again?

Remember I said CPS was the secret to life, not CPR. C is Communion and the P is Prayer. Don’t get me started on this one. It’s my favorite topic. Let me start this way:
You’ve all got friends right? Friends talk to each other, right? The minute you stop spending time with and talking to your friend your relationship begins to weaken. Like what might happen with your friends at home if you go away to college. Relationships are fragile and need a lot of attention. I’ve heard kids say after a retreat, “Oh, I don’t know how I’m going to keep this alive” The minute you stop spending time with Jesus, your relationship will begin to weaken…but not b/c of God. B/c of how weak we as humans are. It’s like we’ve got spiritual ADHD (know what ADHD is?). We always want to be entertained. That’s not real though. At some point we have to give back – listen- or even just hang out with God. That’s all prayer is. It’s no big deal. It’s just promising God you’ll spend time with Him even if He’s not entertaining you. Friends share. Sometimes you entertain him. Sometimes you listen. Sometimes He does. Sometimes you sit together quietly or you listen to music. But I warn you: the very minute you decide to spend less time with Him your relationship with Jesus will begin to weaken and then the spiritual you will weaken too b/c its not getting fed.

Now we’re up to the S in CPS. Scripture. Eucharist is Jesus’ body and Scripture is His words. If you want to get to know about someone who died you do some research. Maybe you read their biography or autobiography. I’ve never met Princess Diana but I sure feel like I know a lot about her. There are TV shows, movies, magazine articles and books written about her. It’s the same thing with Jesus, only we have one very special extra thing: His exact words. Yes there are also movies, magazines and TV shows but we have Jesus’ own recorded words to learn about who He was and what he said and did. I’m in a Bible Study group that has been meeting once a month for almost 10 years and we still haven’t run out of things to learn about Jesus!
There’s this line: The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. That’s in Luke 6. And do you know the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit? If you don’t know what they are how can you use them or ask God to bless you with more of them?

A lot of people stop praying b/c they don’t know Jesus as a person. Of course! Why would you spend time with or try talking to someone you barely know? Scripture is the best way to get to know Jesus the human being. The apostles could follow him around and listen to his teachings. We can’t do that but we can read about what he did and what he thought. When you know him better then you’ll want to spend time with him faithfully and not give up on him.

So~ that’s the way to grow into a strong Christian whose gifts develop fully and help others. The branch has to stay on the vine to be fed. And if it stays on the vine Jesus remains in you and you bear MUCH fruit. Take His word for it~ literally.

Prayer and
Scripture are the gifts God gave us. Big presents just for you. Open them up and use them. God went to a lot of trouble to make sure you get them.

…and good luck with your drivers’ tests.

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