Youth News - July/August 2015
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Youth News
July/August 2015
by Hector Meza

It seems for us in the Western world, going barefoot means being free. Nothing says, "Freedom, Relaxation, Summertime" quite like going barefoot. The feel of the sand in your toes or the soft grass under your feet. Many joyful childhood memories are composed of barefooted expeditions and carefree sporting games. However, for many people in the world, going barefoot is not an option. It is an unfortunate way of life. It is estimated that 40% of the world's population does not own adequate footwear. The number of barefoot orphans in subsaharan Africa alone is about 20 million. This reality can have dire consequences. Parasites and bacteria have led to diseases that affect roughly 1.5 billion people, many of whom live under $1 a day. We believe that something can be done. At our youth lock-in this summer we will raise money to help donate some shoes for both Denita's Orphanage (associated with Step of Faith) and for our own St. Paul's missions team to take with them. We hope that through the giving of these shoes, the recipients might know the God that loves their feet (and every fiber of their being too!) Please pray for all the Summer plans that we have for our students and for the new students who will be transitioning into youth group this next year.

In Christ,

P. Hector

 
Youth News - June 2015
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Youth News
June 2015
by Hector Meza

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2

Recently I was a groomsman at an Indian wedding. It was quite an elaborate and extravagant affair full of lively music, dancing and food. Just about everything required the participation and enthusiasm of the entire crowd.

One could hardly distinguish young from old as everyone was together for this joyous occasion. One of the most memorable moments came at the beginning of the ceremony. The groom, dressed in fancy almost princely garments mounted a white horse adorned with jewels and armor. In front of the groom was his entourage of friends and family all dancing and cheering, announcing the arrival of the groom for the patiently waiting bride. It was a really fun and emotional event, since I knew how long my friend had waited to find the person he would spend the rest of his life with. It was hard not to think of the triumphal entry scene, where Jesus was arriving to redeem His bride, the Church.

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Youth News - March 2015
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Youth News
March 2015
by Hector Meza

Matthew 1:23 “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

Have you put away your Christmas decorations yet or are you still holding out? Maybe for some of us it give us comfort to see those decorations. Perhaps those decorations bring us warmth during the cold winter months. I have to admit that I always get pretty sad once Christmas is over. All the build up to the holiday, then the gifts, family, music, food it's almost a month-long celebration. Then we're left with just the clean up. Sure, New Years is fun but it's not Christmas.

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Youth - January 2015
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Youth
January 2015
by Hector Meza

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

As we prep for this New Year most of us are thinking about all the new possibilities or challenges we’re likely to face. Perhaps you’re thinking about how you can reach those new goals you’ve set for yourself or how you can lose those pounds you gained throughout the holidays. As I’m sitting here writing in December, I can’t help but think of something I’m dreading for the long winter. Winter is the frightening season of sickness and germs. I hate being sick, and by the grace of God I’ve been able to avoid getting really sick for a long time. This is rather impressive, I think, given the fact that I work with school children and teens. Many of whom, for some unfathomable reason, have not learned to cover their mouths while sneezing or coughing! Gross!

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Youth - November 2014
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Youth
November 2014
by Hector Meza

Isaiah 26:3-4 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal."

Lydia and I have been hoping to adopt a retired greyhound for quite some time now. We felt drawn to adopt a greyhound because many of them are euthanized if people don't adopt them after they're finished with their racing days. For many of these dogs it is a matter of them not being up to par. Someone finds a flaw in them (too slow, too fat, not enough predatory instinct) and deems them unworthy of service. We liked the chance of providing redemption to these beautiful creatures.

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Youth - September 2014
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Youth
September 2014
by Hector Meza

1 Thess. 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Recently, the Youth Group had an opportunity to help out with a VBS program hosted in Hamburg, PA. The elaborate games and rides along with the workshops and dramatic presentations took weeks of preparation, planning and hard labor. The VBS was quite an event for the small community and Zion Church, but the hard work resulted in about 400 children and parents attended the week-long event. Over 60 of those students decided to say a prayer asking Jesus into their hearts. It was a great outreach and we were very blessed to help, even if it was just a bit.

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Youth - June 2014
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Youth
June 2014
by Hector Meza

“Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your
enemies,to silence the foe and the avenger.”
Psalm 8:2 NIV

“You have taught children and infants
to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
and all who oppose you.”
Psalm 8:2 NLT

“You have made sure that children
and infants praise you.
You have done it because of your enemies.
You have done it to put a stop to their talk.”
Psalm 8:2 NIRV

Isn’t it great when God shows up to silence the enemy? In continuing with the spirit of the God hunt sightings, I wanted to share with you something that blessed me during a chapel recently. I had just wrapped up looking at psalm 8 with the 6-8 grade chapel group. We had taken time to ponder, as David had, the majesty and mercy of our great, fearful and holy God. We ended chapel by worshiping God through song. As I dismissed the 6-8 group, I decided to get some music ready to play for the following group of 3-5 graders.

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Youth News - April 2015
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Youth News
April 2015
by Hector Meza

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Duet 4:9 

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” Psalm 51:13

I want to give you some stats that will shock you. We live in a world where; One in four American teenage girl has an STI. The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is eleven. 69% of surveyed students admitted to taking measures to hide their online behavior from parents. And those facts are just the tip of the iceberg in the minefield that is a young person’s world today. We haven’t even mentioned the perils of drug abuse, bullying, body image, self esteem, violence and rebellion. Many young people wander through this life without examples of Godly people who will protect them and lead them in the path of righteousness. For far too many youths they are left to fend for themselves and to be told lies about their purpose, their worth and destiny by those more concerned with using them to fill their coffers. Many don’t know a way out because they don’t have people who can speak into their lives about a God of freedom, forgiveness and love.

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Youth - February 2015
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Youth
February 2015
by Hector Meza

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40

How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Have you already given up or are you trudging through even when it’s difficult? I think we can all agree that challenges are hard. That’s why they’re challenging! This summer as the world was dumping buckets of ice cold water on their heads for ALS awareness, I decided to challenge our students to become aware of another pressing issue in desperate need of awareness. Over 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation, and another 1.1 billion are without access to safe water. Every day more than 4,000 children die of water related diseases such as cholera and typhoid. And for those that do not die, insufficient access to clean water adversely affects education, health and political stability.

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Youth - December 2014
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Youth
December 2014
by Hector Meza

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Tim 6:6-8

I remember as a kid that it was really easy for me to complain. “I don’t like what’s for lunch today,” “Why can’t I stay up and watch my show?” “She got more candy than me,” “Are we there yet?” And even though we rarely get our way or get anything, we find it the easier option. Not that there is never room for complaining or speaking out against injustices but a chronic complaining spirit can severely cripple our faith. It can also seriously affect those around us especially in our church family.

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Youth - October 2014
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Youth
October 2014
by Hector Meza

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Prov. 4:23

One Sunday morning, a few weeks ago, I shared about a flower that Lydia and I had entrusted someone to water while we were on vacation. Unfortunately, the person did not water the plant and we arrived to find a shriveled shadow of the once vibrant flower we left. The leaves and stems had mostly turned brown and I honestly thought that the plant was a goner. I was given some hope by the fact that one stem of the flower remained green and the leaves, though clearly dried up, remained a light green color. We were determined to save the flower and so we watered it profusely and added some fresh soil in the hopes of nurturing our flower back to health.

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Youth - July/August 2014
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Youth
July/August 2014
by Hector Meza

Matthew 25:34-40
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

“Everyday 1.1 billion people have to wash with, bathe in, and drink more dirty water. That’s the same as the population of North America and Europe. We can’t live with that. Can You?” This was the question asked in a video presented to our youth to get them invested in our 30 Hour Thirst. In years past the youth had participated in the 30 Hour Famine to help feed the poor. This year we will be raising money to buy water filtration systems from Compassion International. We’re coming to the realization that having access to clean water affects all components of life including food.

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Youth News - May 2014
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Youth News
May 2014
by Hector Meza

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
1 Cor. 10:24

Recently I heard a song on the radio that the chorus went something like this, “And you can tell everybody, Go ahead and tell everybody, I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man.”

Lydia, with her perceptive ear, recognized that the singer had sampled a phrase from the Elton John song, Your Song. The Elton John song is a song written to a beloved and declares in a dramatic moment, “And you can tell everybody, this is your song.” The former song seems quite an interesting symbol of our current youth culture focused on self-centered humanism. The rise of social media and reality TV has perhaps had the unwanted consequences of turning our eyes from the love and concern of others to an unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves.

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