Girls Day 2014

On Saturday, we hosted over 100 teen girls & adults who participated in our 2nd annual Girls Day. 

The theme this year was “Hope is the Anchor of the Soul” from Hebrews 6:19. 

At least nine congregations from our area participated in Girls Day. 

The girls were able to hear five different messages/classes on Saturday from some very capable women. Three of them being some of our own Creekwood ladies. Our keynote speaker this year was Trudy Brown. Our breakout class teachers were Lacey Sargent, Cathy McGaughy and Lauri Ann Itson (Robertsdale, AL). 

Also, some special recognition should be given to Meghan Hardy and Haley Sargent who lead singing. Katherine Wheeler welcomed everyone and introduced the theme. Sydney Cox lead everyone in a prayer to begin the day. Also Taylor Ford and Raven Frazier helped by serving snacks & drinks.

There were several Creekwood ladies who helped with setting up, decorating, breakfast & lunch, and cleaning up. Those ladies include Holly Hall, Beatrice Deatherage, Katy Aldred, Emilee Clark, Lynn Barnes and Penny Davis. 

And last, but certainly not least, I want to give a special thank you to Haley Gray. Haley has worked so hard on this event over the last few months. Haley came up with the theme and keynote/class topics. She made a lot of the decorations herself. Organized everyone to help. Handled all of the registration stuff. Contacted speakers and communicated their topic to them. Made preparations and bought all of the food for the day. Putting on an event like this is a lot of work. And I’m so thankful that Haley loves our teen girls so much that she’s willing to put all of the work, organization and effort into making Girls Day as successful as it is. 

It truly was a great day. To God be the glory!        — Eric

A Risky Walk

30 miles. 

It’s just a little longer than a marathon, which is 26.2 miles. The winner of the Boston marathon set the record this year for 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds. 

It’s just a little longer than the distance from the Creekwood building to the mall in Spanish Fort. Driving there takes over 30 minutes. According to Google Maps, walking would take you over 9 hours. 

30 miles. It’s the distance from Jerusalem (in the region of Judea) to Sychar (which is in Samaria). 

In John 4, Jesus walks 30 miles to have a conversation with a Samaritan woman. 30 miles. Walking. With a Samaritan (who were hated by the Jews). Who was a woman (most rabbis would never be seen talking with a woman in public, much less a Samaritan woman). 

Having this conversation with this woman would be scandalous. It would be risky. What would others think about a Rabbi who talks privately with Samaritan women? What would others think about a Rabbi who actually travels through Samaria instead of walking an additional 50 miles to bypass the area? 

Having this conversation would risk Jesus’ reputation and his credibility. But he didn’t care. This woman needed living water. And that’s exactly what Jesus gave her.

So in John 4, it’s no surprise that Jesus stops at a well to get a drink. He’s been walking for 30 miles. I’d be thirsty too. In his conversation with this unnamed Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, we learn some very important truths. 

We are all searching for something. This woman was searching for meaning, attention and affection. That’s why she’d been married & divorced five times, and was currently living with a man who wasn’t her husband. But let’s not be too judgmental. Many of us are searching for the same things. That’s why we struggle with self-esteem. That’s why some constantly need to be in a relationship. That’s why some struggle with substance abuse and binge drinking. 

Just like for the woman at the well, what we are searching for is right in front of our eyes. In Christ, we find our meaning in life. In Christ, we receive attention from the Almighty God. In Christ, we find the affection from brotherly love that is found in the church. 

Jesus is all we need. He is what you’ve been searching for.

Jesus’ love is for all. He walked 30 miles to let a Samaritan woman know that she mattered. That she could have a second (or 7th) chance. And he would do the same for you and me. 

The church is filled with different people. People who were “good” growing up. People who’ve tried every drug under the sun. People who are “normal”. People who are different. Nuclear families. Blended families. Singles. Widowed. Newlyweds. Young. Old. Extroverts. Introverts. Black. White. Hispanic. Asian. From all walks of life. 

Yet in Christ, we are one. In Christ, we embrace what makes each of us different, yet we recognize what brings us all together. 

Jesus’ love is for all. It’s for people you like, and for people you don’t like. It’s for people who are like you, and for people who are nothing like you. 

Would you walk 30 miles to share Jesus’ love with someone? Even if others thought you were crazy? Even if your reputation and credibility were on the line? I hope so. 

But maybe that person isn’t 30 miles away. Maybe they are 3 desks away. At another lunch table. Or sitting on the other side of the teen room. They are searching for something. They need Jesus’ love. Will you be the one who starts walking?

Because…don’t forget…Jesus took a walk for you. From Pilate’s Praetorium to Golgotha. Carrying his own cross. Proving that he would walk anywhere to show you his love. 

 — Eric Gray

To read the rest of the CrossCreek YM Weekly Update, click here: CrossCreek YM Weekly Update (5.4.14)

Leaders, Serve.

The disciples knew crazy things were coming because of what Jesus had been talking about. So James & John decided it was time to stake their position of authority. So they asked for Jesus to make them #2 in charge behind him when he became King of Israel. 

Problem #1: Jesus never said he would sit on a literal throne.

Problem #2: Power-grabbing isn’t true leadership.

So Jesus taught them a fundamental truth about leadership: Great leaders serve others.

“…but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

Great leaders serve others. Great leaders put others first. It sounds ironic, but it’s true. 

Let’s talk about our youth group for a minute. 

We have plenty of leaders. Youth groups always have leaders. The question is, are our leaders great because they serve others?

First, there’s a few things we need to understand about leadership.

  • Not everyone is a leader. Some people are followers.
  • Not all leaders are loud. Loud people are generally the ones that others recognize as leaders, but they aren’t the only leaders.
  • Not all leaders lead people in the right direction. Bad leaders can pull others down with them.

I want to give you three things that good leaders do.

First, good leaders set the example. That’s the precedent that Jesus set. He came to serve, not to be served. And he told us to do the same. So a good leader serves others. You can’t ask someone to do something that you either don’t or won’t do. So if you want to be a good leader, set the example. Participate in class & worship, and attend youth group events.

Second, good leaders encourage others. There’s enough negative voices in the world. We don’t need any in the youth group. We need leaders who will encourage others. When someone makes a good point in class, encourage them. Introduce yourself to people who come for the first time. Let them know you’re glad they came. If you know of someone who is going through a hard time, tell them you’re praying for them. High schoolers, encourage our middle schoolers to be involved. Offer them a ride. Let your words speak life into the lives of others.

Third, good leaders embrace others for who they are. Good leaders recognize that God uniquely created us. We aren’t all the same. We have different interests, personalities, and quirks. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Good leaders embrace our differences, yet recognize the love of God that binds us all together. Our youth group should be filled with people who wouldn’t normally spend time together, except for the fact that we love God and we love others. It’s the bond of Christ that ties us together. Good leaders recognize that and embrace the unique qualities that each of us have.

Great leaders serve. 

Are you leading the youth group in a way that glorifies God and lifts others up?

Are you leading someone to love Jesus more? When people watch your life, does it make them want to know Jesus? Can others see Christ in you?

Leaders, serve.          

— Eric