Here at Forerunner, one thing that we aim to do is shape the identity of our young men. Our desire is for all of our young men to know that they are loved and valued. We want them to know that it isn't about what they do, but it's all about who they are. We love and support our young men because that's what Jesus was all about. It's not about how smart they are or how good of an athlete they are. It's not about how they look or how well they behave. We love because He first loved us.
We see the unwavering, unmerited love of God in Mark 1:9-11. The scene is set for Jesus to begin his ministry. Up until this point, Jesus has laid low and has been hanging out in Nazareth minding His own business. He really hasn't done much of anything to warrant praise by the standards of the world. Jesus goes to be baptized by John the Baptist and, upon coming out of the water, his Father blesses Him. God says "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased."
How awesome is that? Jesus comes out of the water and his Father showers Him with love. He calls him "beloved" and says that He is "well pleased" with him. He tore apart the Heavens to pour out praise and affection on His boy. God encourages and loves on his Son despite Him really doing much of anything. The Power of his Father's blessing gave Jesus the strength to get started on his mission.
I feel like that is how the Lord wants us to be. We should be so quick to shower praise and encouragement over our young men. We need to love on them and let them know that we are in their corner no matter what. Nothing can separate the love of God from those who believe in Him, and it is our belief that nothing our Forerunner can do will separate us from loving him.
That's where identity comes in. As young men, our boys are trying desperately to find out who they are and where they fit in. They try to identify themselves as "football players" or "straight-A students". They try to do the things that will get them the most attention and love. After all, we as humans are hard wired for love and attention. This isn't rocket science; People love to be loved. And for those of us who are not receiving those essential needs at home, we will do almost anything to get that love and attention somewhere.
If we don't give our young men the love and attention they need, who will? Well, you can be assured that Satan is waiting to pounce. He is waiting to give our young men the love and attention that they are starving for. He is waiting to lure them into his plan by using girls to satisfy their desire or the gang life to give them the acceptance they have longed for.
But Jesus has different plans... and Forerunner plans on teaming up with the God who has overcome Satan and the world. God says that the identity of our Forerunners are "beloved sons". He says that our young men are "conquerors" and that they are "washed clean and sanctified". Our young men need to know that they are loved no matter what.
We say that we want our young men to become "World Changers". We truly believe that once the Lord grabs hold of the heart of our Forerunners the sky is the limit. These young men are such leaders. Their siblings and peers look up to them and base how they act off the behaviors of our leaders. Imagine if we had a multitude of young men, strapped with confidence, support and encouragement, sent out on mission to be Jesus to their Lake Highlands community? That would change lives. That would make a difference. Our community would never be the same.
That's what we want to do. We want to give our Forerunners their true identity as beloved sons. We want them to know deep down in their hearts that they are of great worth and that they are loved. Once they get the identity down, their mission is to change the world. Their mission is to be Jesus to those that they come in contact with.
Identity before mission. You have to know who you are before you can go out and do what you are called to do.
Help us shape the identity of our young men today. Help us set them "on mission". We need all the help we can get.