I am Not Depression

This post by Thomas Grant is reprinted from LifeTeen.com

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If you met me in high school and college you would see someone that had it all together. You would see someone actively involved in youth group, someone that did well in school, and a person that was well loved by friends and family.

What you wouldn’t see is a person that sat up at night, writing journals about how worthless he was. You wouldn’t see someone that stopped looking at himself in the mirror because he only saw failure. You wouldn’t see a person that late at night went through a list of people that would be better off without him. You wouldn’t see someone that was quietly breaking down while smiling wide. It is possible to be alone in a room full of people; it is possible to be seen but not heard. It is possible to fake happiness. I lived a life without really living at all.

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I struggle with depression. A lot of people don’t know that about me – for a long time I was embarrassed by it. I struggled to tell my parents and friends, and honestly, I didn’t tell anyone. I felt weak.

I questioned myself:

“If you were stronger, you wouldn’t be here. Can’t you just pull yourself out of this yourself?”

“Maybe you just aren’t cut out for the work you are doing or for school. It has already broken you.”

“You just aren’t good enough – if anyone finds out about this, they will think you are weird and not want to be around you.”

When I did speak to some people about depression I was met with a mixed response; well-meaning people said some non-productive things. One friend, who is a faithful Christian, told me that, “It was a spiritual problem and I didn’t need a diagnosis.” I felt even weaker, “He’s right,” I thought, “If I had a better prayer life and closer relationship with God, I wouldn’t feel the way that I do.”

Those feelings were what caused me to stay quiet. They were what caused me to keep the smile going on the outside while I quietly broke down inside. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a priest about my struggles that I came to an important realization:

I am not depression. I am the son of the King. Even in darkness, He carries me.

I am not defined by my frailty. And neither are you.

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At the Foot of the Cross

This post by Joel Stepanek is reprinted from LifeTeen.com

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The voice of God thunders, a King is lifted up on a cross between two common criminals, blood flows from his broken body. Women cry. A tomb is empty. God’s glory shines forth and His body and life are freely given so that all those present can get to heaven. Angel choirs sing. Heaven and earth meet.

Everyone witnesses a sacrifice, a death, and a resurrection.

And that all happens before the second communion song.

If you’ve been to Mass recently, you’ve also been to the foot of the Cross. If you’ve received Eucharist this past week, you’ve been at the Last Supper. You experienced the singular death and resurrection of Christ – and I bet at least once you wondered why you had to sing so many verses to the closing song.

If you’ve ever wondered why the Mass is the most important thing we do each week, why we call it the Source and Summit, and how simple bread and wine can constitute a sacrifice – then wonder no further.

A Sacrifice Planned Through History

When Jesus dies on the cross, heaven opens up for us. The death and resurrection of Christ are events that are of eternal significance. The Passion of Christ happened once, but it echoes throughout history. It is so important that Jesus didn’t allow it to just be something that we read about as ancient history – He made sure that He let us know it was an event to be lived each time we celebrated the Eucharist.

Jesus did this by instituting the Eucharist – and it was no accident how it happened.

To fully understand the significance the Last Supper, we need to jump all the way back to the Exodus.

Jesus institutes the Last Supper on a very particular occasion – the Passover. This feast was sacred for Him; His family celebrated it every year as did all the faithful Jewish people. Passover commemorates God’s saving action; God took the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Before this exodus, God institutes a special meal for the Israelite people. They need to find an unblemished lamb, sacrifice it, and then put some of the lamb’s blood on their doorpost. It is this action that saves the people from death and allows them to begin their escape.

Jesus is celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples. There is bread and wine (two necessary components for Passover – but no lamb (because Jesus is the lamb (boom! (this is a lot of parenthesis)))).

Jesus breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples, but He offers it by saying, “This is my Body.” Jesus is connecting the offering of the Eucharist with His offering the next day on the cross. He is giving His Body and Blood as a sacrifice on the cross, and also giving it in the Eucharist.

Skeptical that this was Jesus’ intent? Please, nerd out with me for a moment:

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What Makes You Awesome!

This post by Kelly Colangelo is reprinted from LifeTeen.com

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I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not cool enough. Nobody loves me. These little voices use to mull around in my brain on a daily basis.

Am I enough?

I remember hanging out with my friends and watching how their awesomeness shined through them. This was a great witness of joy in my life, but left me constantly comparing myself to them. I remember looking in the mirror and staring at myself -something that I didn’t like and having the feeling of shame overwhelm me. I would say to myself, “no one could love me.” And at the end of a long day, just before I fell asleep, I would wonder if I measured up. Was I good enough? Am I sister enough, friend enough, youth minister enough. These three little words, “am I enough” punctured my heart.

But, somewhere along the way, I missed the point of it all.

You see, your “enoughness” has nothing to do with your grades, your friends, what kind of car you drive or how much money you have. Being enough doesn’t change over time. Being enough isn’t contingent upon anything external. Your value is not determined by what you do. It is determined by the simple fact that you are a daughter and son of the Father. You are enough. I am enough.

I’m going to share a little secret. I’m really awesome at Wii bowling, but that doesn’t define my worth or my value. It doesn’t make me enough because I’m super good at a video game. I am desired, pursued and chased after by a God who loves me regardless of my Wii bowling skills. I am accepted and beloved by a loving God and nothing with ever change that.

My heart breaks for the guys and girls who believe they are worthless, who believe they aren’t enough. Scripture speaks truth to that lie: “You are precious and honored in my sight, and… I love you” (Isaiah 43:4).

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Mission Trip: Steubenville Atlanta 2015

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WHAT:

Come join other teens as we joyful proclaim and share Christ’s saving love with others by responding to Jesus’ call “Go, Make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19)

Mission Trip 2015 Flyer

Steubenville 2015 Permission Slip

Medical Form 2015


WHEN:

Wednesday Morning, July 8th – Monday evening, July 13th

We will gather Wednesday morning at Light of Christ then head out to USF Tampa to begin our journey!


COST:

$50 Deposit to reserve your spot on first come first serve basis. We only have 14 spots and as of April 1, 2015 we have only 5 left!

Total cost of mission trip approximately $350


For More Information:

Contact our youth minister

The Secret Weapon of a Teenage Slave

This post by Christina Mead is reprinted from LifeTeen.com

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Story time! Grab your blanket or favorite comfort item (iPhones are not an option).

Ready?

Once there was a teenager. He was happy and young and free and didn’t worry about things like “religion” or “God” or “right and wrong.” His parents were Christian, but they didn’t teach him much about it. And then, one day his carefree life came to a halting stop when he was kidnapped by pirates.

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Yes, pirates.

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No, this is not the story of Peter Pan (but there is a man with a hook later on… weird…)

The pirates took this teenager back to their homeland across the sea and sold him into slavery. As a slave, he was forced to tend sheep for a rich, pagan man.

Now at this point we have 1) a teenager, 2) taken from his home, 3) all alone in a foreign land, 4) isolated in a field all day and night as a slave shepherd.

And you thought chemistry class was rough.

Seriously though, can you imagine being in this teen’s situation? How would YOU react? I would cry. And then break sticks and throw rocks. And then cry some more out of loneliness and sadness and boredom because I’m alone in a field.

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What did he do? How do you handle it when you have no idea if you’ll ever see your home and family again? What keeps you going and positive when you’re isolated for years and years in a field with a bunch of dumb sheep? You need a secret weapon.

This teen discovered one.

During the six years he spent as a shepherd, he experienced a powerful encounter with God and it changed everything for him. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he chose to spend his time in conversation with God through prayer. Instead of feeling isolated, he chose to remind himself of the presence of God all around him. Instead of feeling weighed down by the pagan culture around him, he lived in the glory of what God has done for us all in the history of our salvation.

These were choices that he made that completely transformed the really terrible experience he found himself in. When he finally was able to run away and escape back to his home and family, he became a priest and then went BACK to the land of his slavery to serve the people there. Who does that?!?

Someone convicted by their love of God, that’s who.

He converted tons of them to Christianity and later he became a bishop (complete with a staff/hook), and the patron saint of their country — Ireland.

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This is the story of St. Patrick.

As a teenager who was dealt a tough situation, I feel like he has a lot to teach you and I. He teaches us that sainthood means choosing virtue in the moments when it’s most inconvenient. It’s also about living every day in the reality of God’s presence and the power of all the angels and saints available to us.

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