Writings and thoughts of Heath D. Sizick

Welcome to Heath's Blog

Thank you for checking out my blog. The intent of me starting a blog was to centralize my writings - devotionals, articles, poetry, thoughts, etc. I pray something I say will be an encouragement to you and your faith. I'm not that interesting but if you do twitter you can follow me at @Zidik21. - Rytier Krala'
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Christmas Reminder: We Need a Savior

I recently read an advent devotional that said, “Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.” Isn’t this true of following Christ? Does it not take a complete understanding of the gravity of our sin before we can bathe in the magnificence of the Cross?

I have been reminded of this indictment as I shared what we call the “sin talk” to both our high school and middle school clubs. Over a 100 students learned they have a disease that is killing them called sin. My goal was to communicate this truth clearly. My prayer was that they would grasp it. Not just their own sin, but the sin of this world. The sin disease that all possess. The sin disease that we can do nothing to fix. The sin disease that ends in death; a death of separation from God who loves them the most. The sin talk is a hard talk to deliver, but the severity and implications are too great to keep quiet. The kids deserve to hear the truth. They must hear the truth. But don’t miss this…we too need to hear this truth. “Christmas is an indictment,” otherwise God would not have needed to enter history. But because God did enter history via Jesus the indictment becomes delight.

The “cross talk” follows the “sin talk.” I had the privilege of sharing the “cross talk” to 158 high and middle students. It’s the greatest story ever told…the story of God redeeming mankind, resolving the sin problem on a cross thousands of years ago. It’s intimate. It’s powerful. It’s life-altering. These dear students heard the delight of why Jesus came that first Christmas—to die in our place, to reconcile us to God, to take away the sin of the world. They heard truth that can change them forever. Jesus came to give them life! As I prepared the talk, I too heard its truth. I too was reminded. I too…

We need to be reminded daily that because of our sin there was a cross, but before there was a cross there was a Christmas. The indictment of Christmas is a great reminder that we need a Savior. May you and I delight in Jesus Christ, our Savior, this Christmas.

Lake Champion 2013 – Departure

What an amazing time we had. We tell kids it will be the best week of their life, then we back it up. It’s incredible. If you have never been to a Young Life property I highly recommend it.

Yesterday was very relaxed. It was another hot sunny day. As usual, the evening was the most memorable. It was banquet night so kids dressed up and took pics all over camp. Dinner was fancy – as we were served steak. Yes, steak! This was followed by an award night where kids walked the red carpet. Awards were given out to kids who did something funny or quite memorable. It was an impressive night. After some free time, where me and my guys played 4-square, we went to club.

Club was awesome. We sang so loud – maybe the loudest singing I’ve heard in a club in my 13 years on staff. It was a blast. Mike did another excellent job. This time, describing how we can begin a relationship with Christ. Due to a storm outside we couldn’t go out for 20 minutes of silence. Instead, we sat quietly under dimmed lights. Kids pondered, prayed, and reflected on camp and life. The night concluded with the work crew and summer staff singing and one boy sharing his faith story. It was great for us having one our boys, John Prentice, serving on summer staff.

We had a boy from our cabin start his faith journey and a few others from our area do likewise yesterday. There may be more. What I do know is that each kid heard the gospel clearly this week. And that their leaders loved them well. The rest up is to God.

Pray for our bus ride home – not only safe travels but also that leaders could continue with deep conversations with kids. Thank you for reading these camp blogs and most importantly for praying.

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Lake Champion 2013 – Cross Talk

We passed out our area tee shirts, had another yummy dinner, and after a long free time we headed to club where the anticipation for the Cross talk was high. Mike again did an outstanding job explaining the gospel and how as Paul wrote in Romans, God demonstrated his love for us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. After club there were tiki torches with chairs all around the big field and fires on the pit – all for the intent for kids to process the gospel with leaders and peers. It was super!

Later that night before I headed to bed, our leader Tommy brought a boy from Tygarts Valley to my room. The boy made a decision to follow Christ! As I laid my head down to sleep I received a text from Kayla, our Tygarts Valley girl leader, that a beautiful junior girl also began her new faith journey with Christ! No better way to go to bed!

Today has been very relaxed. As you look around camp you notice kids taking in all the fun – giant swing, blob, canoeing, tubing, volleyball, four square, frisbee golf, and more. Yet most importantly, you notice leaders having one on one with kids they are crazy about. Loving on them and helping them process the gospel, not pushing it down their throat.

Another boy from Tygarts Valley said yes to the love of Christ while another 3-5 seem awfully close. Tonight the kids will hear how to respond while also getting 20 minutes of complete silence to ponder the truths of Jesus Christ they heard all week. May God move in the hearts of these kids we love!

Thanks again!

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Lake Champion 2013 – Back to the 50′s

Last big camp was transformed back to the 1950′s. The kids dressed the parts. Girls looked beautiful in their poodle skirts and scarfs. The fellas looked handsome in their white tees and jeans. The dining hall was turned into Arnold’s Diner. They served us hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, and Coke. We 50-danced and later that night sang 50 songs via karaoke. The kids were again blown away.

Mike, our speaker, was super last night. He explained the problem of sin in a clear way for kids. He showed a slide show of the results of a broken world the last century. Powerful images such a Hitler, genocide, 3rd world poverty, terrorism, etc. Many times we are effected by the sin of other people. Equally true is how our sin can effect others. Mike showed how we all sin and fall short to a holy God. Tonight kids will hear how God remedied the sin problem in the world by sending Jesus from heaven to die in our place on a cross. Tonight kids will hear the greatest love story ever told!

Pray for leaders as we process the truths about sin and the Cross with kids tonight. Pray for kids whose hearts are hard toward God. Pray for kids that their past scars will not hinder their openness to Christ. Pray kids will surrender their lives to the one who made them and loves them most.

I am reminded nearly every moment here at camp of the incredible privilege I have to serve kids as a Young Life staff person. I am so overjoyed that God has called me to this mission. I am also unable to adequately describe how grateful I am for the financial support many of you provide to keep me on staff and to help get these kids to camp. Furthermore, I am humbled to have leaders who have taken a week of their summer to love and serve kids exceedingly well. One in particular, a husband and a dad, used his vacation to be here at camp! Two teachers as well. Humbled! To God be the glory!

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Lake Champion 2013 – Gone Country

Our West Virginia kids were right at home last night. The night started with a rodeo where kids participated in a variety of games such as dizzy bat relay. From there we had a delicious barbecue dinner. After club was a wildly fun night consisting of a full blown county fair where kids can dunk-tank or pie there leaders and play fair-like games. A square dance was next followed by a hoedown. As you could imagine it was a winning night for kids.

Arguably the best part of camp is at the end of the night when we sit in a circle on the floor for cabin time. The first question we ask is, “What was the highlight of your day?” It’s beautiful as kids have to choose from a full day of highlights. It may very well be the most stressful moment for kids each day. It always surprises me when kids say the speaker was their highlight. I mean, really? Hey kid, you blobbed, you were on high ropes, you square danced, etc. Yet, hearing someone share the gospel in a winsome and relevant manner wins them over. Incredible. Awesome.

Tonight the kids will find go back six decades to the 50′s! One of my most favorite nights. We dress in 50′s clothes and the whole theme is 50′s! More importantly, tonight kids will learn about sin as our speaker will explain sin. It’s imperative that kids understand sin for only then can they truly understand the Cross.

Pray for kids who are lost and broken. Tonight is tough when they hear the dark reality of sin. A broken world with broken people – no one exempt. And many of our adolescent friends struggle and act out behaviorally as a result. Pray please. May God be magnified and may kids hearts be open.

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Lake Champion 2013 – LOL

It’s Day 3 and the food is still scrumptious and the kids are having a blast. We have been blessed with wonderful weather. Yesterday I had a chance to take a nice canoe trip around the lake with a couple of my fellas. Some of us leaders are getting one on one’s with our adolescent friends and learning more about their stories. This is why we are here…it’s where the rubber hits the road. Issues and struggles we have discovered so far include cutting, anger, depression, divorced parents, sexual orientation, fear, parental alcoholism, and sexual abuse. These kids are at the right place and for that we are grateful.

Last night we laughed lots. Entertainment night is when leaders get up front for skits – think Saturday Night Live without crudeness and derogatory jokes. I laughed so hard tears found themselves frolicking amidst my eyes. My gut hurt. Laughter breaks down barriers so kids are more open to the Gospel. We ended the night with a black light dance party where we all wore neon. It was a blast! So refreshing for these kids to do something they love to do but minus the sexual overtones and other behaviors that we adults not only frown at but are saddened by.

The fun has continued today as has the one on ones. The Gospel is being communicated clearly and leaders are loving kids and living life to the full with them. Please pray for the kids who struggle with the issues mentioned above. Pray they find hope and healing from Christ. Pray for wisdom and energy for the leaders. Pray most of all that kids will start a new relationship of following Christ.

Thanks!

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Lake Champion 2013 – We are here!

We pulled out of the Walmart parking lot yesterday at 4:40 a.m. Destination Lake Champion, New York. Yet, it is more than just a destination, but an experience – the best week of your life. Three counties. Five high schools. Seven leaders. Forty eight kids. Churched with the unchurched. Good homes and broken homes. Kids! Kids who want more out of life. Kids who want to know they have purpose. Kids!

We were welcomed by a tunnel of cheering work crew upon our 3:15 p.m arrival. Before long the kids were taking in the amazing property – basketball, giant swing, blobbing, zip line, and more. After a delicious dinner 400+ kids and leaders packed in the club room for an amazing club. Club consisted of loud singing (more like yelling), many laughs, high quality video, and a superb talk from our speaker, Mike. Club closed with the introduction of an obstacle course.

The obstacle course is when we get into clothes and shoes we would rather not see anymore. Then we go through a variety of military-like elements. The end result is dirty, wetness, and mud! The whole camp loved it! One guy from our cabin said it was the best thing he ever did. After a cabin time, where we sit in a circle in the cabin and process the days events we hit the sack – exhausted…grateful.

Our cabin was in the trees by 8 a.m. for high ropes course. Following breakfast we had our all camp volleyball uniform. Each cabin dressed on in outfits. Our cabin along with the Elkins girls cabin were lumberjacks with sleeveless flannels and cut off jean shorts. The other cabins consisted of a deck of cards, Super Mario, and Hula girls. Everyone had a blast.

Well it’s time for lunch! Thank you for your prayers!

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Catching Men: Reminders from Fly Fishermen

It’s a beautiful sunny spring day. Away from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life, I’m spending the day at a cabin not far from my home, yet, the scenery makes it seems miles away. The cabin sits along the Cheat River nestled between the Allegheny Mountains. With the exception of a few vehicles passing nearby, the primary sounds are birds singing, wind blowing against the forest and river, and the splashes from fly fishermen’s casts and catches. Sitting outside, I drink in the breeze, the sounds, and the sites. Aesthetically pleasing and brilliantly peaceful.

I watched the fly fisherman closely. At first, a bit annoyed that they were so near my cabin and interfering with my day. However, it was soon evident that the Lord wanted to show me something regarding these fishermen. The first word that came to my mind was incarnation. In Young Life, we use this deeply theological word often. It describes our primary means of evangelizing. It’s rooted in Scripture. It’s God the Father saying to God the Son, “It’s time. Go down there and win them.” And so the first Christmas happens. God takes on flesh. Diety meets humanity. Spiritual meets physical. God walks amidst us and he is named Jesus. The apostle John described it this way – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi describes Jesus and the incarnation this way – “Who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Wow!

In Young Life, leaders go to kids. We enter their world in order to share the Gospel…to win them to the very Jesus who entered our world to win us. So I continued to watch these fly fishermen, I was reminded of the call on my life to enter the rough waters of adolescents to catch and win them to Jesus. I was reminded of Jesus’ prophetic words when he called Peter to follow him, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The call wasn’t just for Peter but for all who would call themselves followers of Christ. For me. For you.

I wondered if Peter was with me if he would have observed what I observed. They entered into the waters in order to catch the fish. I grew up in Michigan where the nearest fishing hole was walking distance away. I fished often, but unlike these fly fishermen, I never entered into the waters. Because these men were in the water, they were reaching fish that I would be unable to reach had I brought my pole and casted in from the shore. These fly fishermen had the proper gear and equipment for a good catch. It was well planned before they ever stepped into the river. They had the right bait and they knew the proper technique to cast and catch. They moved around the river searching for fish while always casting. They were patient. They rejoiced when they caught a fish. And they indeed caught fish! The lessons to fishing men for Jesus are incredible.

How could they not catch a fish? The only way to catch fish is to go fishing. Watching a fishing show on television won’t do it. Having the equipment but never putting in water won’t do it. Placing a worm on a hook but never casting won’t do it. Standing near the shore, sitting in a boat, or even being in the water won’t Do it. You must fish! The fly fishermen are where the fish are…in their world. A catch is inevitable. O how I imagine Peter would love seeing the fly fishermen.

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Christmas Story Christmas Awe: Thoughts from the Biblical Christmas

The incarnation or Christmas is the ultimate love story. A story other love stories pale in comparison. It’s full of suspense, shock, deception, sacrifice, difficulty, passion, and even humor. The best part of it all is that we are included in the most historical, most powerful, and most talked about story our world has ever seen. You. Me. Everyone. The Christmas story is our story.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke best capture the historical narrative that changed everything. Ancient prophecy coming to fruition. Separate yet consistent angelic confrontations to Mary and Joseph. Mysterious yet scandalous pregnancy. A parallel, yet profound birth of Jesus’ cousin, John. Poor yet rich birth. Shepherds, Magi, an evil king. Through the ages Christmas carols were written telling the story in song.

Although John’s gospel is void of the historical narrative, the first chapter includes the theological implications of the incarnation. Verse 9, we read that the “true light that gives light was coming into the world.” Christmas is often associated with receiving gifts. John may argue that there is much truth to that; however the gift was not a wrapped present but God himself, Jesus the Christ. Verse 12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believe in his name he gave the right to become children of God” (italics added). While Matthew and Luke talk about infant Jesus arriving in a humble cold stable, John captures the Christmas story with an astonishing theologically incarnational statement in verse 14 – “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

When I look back at the biblical Christmas story, many key words stick out that fittingly apply to our lives and relationship with our Creator and incarnational Savior. Mary is told when visited by the angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid.” The shepherds are told the same thing when an angel visits them. He also tells Mary that “nothing is impossible with God.” Do we live in fear? What are we afraid of? Do we limit God? What seems impossible in our lives?

Back to the shepherds. The angel declares “good news of great joy.” Moments later, a host of angels are singing praise to God for “peace to men on whom His favor rests.” With the coming of Jesus came joy and peace to all men. Are you full of joy? Do you lay your head down every night with peace in your heart?

When the magi saw the star leading them to Jesus they were “overjoyed.” Upon finding Jesus they “bowed down and worshipped him.” They also “presented” gifts to Jesus. Are we overjoyed because of Christ Jesus? Do we hit our knees in humble worship? Do we offer any gifts to God? Paul suggests in Romans 12:2 that we offer our bodies as living sacrifices. In fact, he says it is our spiritual act of worship!

Profound questions about our life and our faith can be answered with the Christmas story. We should be amazed at Christmas. My hope and prayer for myself and for you this Christmas is that you will find yourself in awe of the incarnation, humbled by King Jesus leaving His throne, and blown away by His unmatchable love for us. That we would respond to our Lord, despite our circumstances, as Mary did – “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

He shall be called Immanuel, God with us!

At Christmas

Growing up at Christmas time meant Santa was coming. That jolly old fellow with his white beard, hardy laugh, and flying reindeer better had finished the cookies and milk I left out for him or doubt would inevitable seep into my conscious. It mattered not that year after year I was puzzled most by how Santa could enter our house since it had no chimney. Every Christmas a trip to the mall meant sitting with Santa. When my sister and I felt too old to sit on that chaps lap, my mom insisted on a picture for posterity. The result, a living room setting with two unenthusiastic fake-smiling teenagers with a plastic four-foot Santa between us. At Christmas, Santa trumped Jesus.

Although Santa reigned supreme in our Christmas decor, there was always something more profoundly powerful for me at Christmas. When the Christmas decorations came out I was given the important job, at least to me, of putting up the nativity scene. Later on, I would let no other mess with my job or how I set it up. I loved it and I took my time with careful placement of each figurine – Mary, Joseph, wise kings, shepherds, the farm animals, and of course the babe. At Christmas,there seemed to be an indescribable connection with the physically and the spiritual when I gazed upon the finished nativity. At Christmas, the nativity trumped Santa decorations.

Of all the gifts I tore open with my name on them early on Christmas mourn, none compared to the three gifts I opened on Christmas Eve each year. Christmas morning were the gifts from “Santa Claus” but the eve of Christmas were from my family. They were not made in a high-functioning toy factory in the North Pole nor delivered from St. Nick. They were full of meaning and thought. Furthermore, they each had gifts that I bought them. I loved giving them my gift and I loved opening their gifts each Christmas eve. At Christmas, gifts from family trumped gifts from a white-haired legend wearing a red suit.

I recall my first Christmas as a Christ-follower. At age 20, I repented of the sin that enslaved me and received the reconciliation that Jesus gave. I would immediately see a change in my life. Change that comes from one redeemed by His Creator. That first Christmas was special because for the first time I really understood what we celebrate at Christmas – the incarnation of Jesus Christ. I understood why the King left His throne to enter humbly into our world. I was amazed. At Christmas, the love story of Jesus coming to earth trumps the story of Santa coming to town.

Last spring, one of my high school guys made the same life-altering decision to surrender his life to Christ and follow Jesus. This Christmas is his first Christmas knowing Jesus. A few days he tweeted: “Christmas is just a great time of Jesus! First Christmas under our lord and savior! #blessed #excited #thankful.” Without Christmas we have no Savior. Without Christmas we find no peace. Without Christmas we find no joy. Without Christmas we find no hope. In light of yesterdays horrific tragedy in Connecticut I am reminded of the words from the Christmas Carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” At Christmas, hope trumps fears.

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