Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bojangles and the Holy Spirit

#1 I love's my favorite.
#2 I love my husband, but he says Bojangles can NOT be my favorite.
#3 That's why I was eating there alone today.

It was a Sunday (today, in fact). We had just left First Baptist Church where we watched my niece get baptized. IV had to go to work and I was about to head north to pick up our kids from their Nana and Poppy.
It was a little early, so I asked IV if he wanted to eat a quick lunch before we went our separate ways. He declined because he knew they would be having food at the station that afternoon.  I said, "Okay," and headed for Bojangles...just for spite. ;)

While I was waiting in the drive through the song I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons came on the radio. I felt a small stir of the Spirit within me...a little random, so I started to pray (which is what I recommend doing if this ever happens to you).

Me: Lord, what do I need to wait for?
...I'm waiting on the closing on our new home, and I realize it may still fall through, and I'm okay with that. Check.
...I'm waiting on a big van for our family, but I see how you've been providing for us by not having us have to ride over capacity lately, and I'm thankful for that. Check.
...I'm waiting with IV about law school decisions and such, but no worries. Check.
...I'm waiting with my flower business...trying to take it slow. Check.
...You really provided for some of our furniture needs at that yard sale yesterday, and I'm thankful for that. Check.
...I really can't think of anyth...OH.

Yeah, found it.

{If you ever feel like the Lord's trying to tell you something, stop right there and take a minute to listen. Open your Bible if you can, start to pray - you can always do that, and ask Him.  Then just keep asking. (Matthew 7:7-8)}

You see, the Lord has put a desire within me to teach His Word. (If you've read my blog before, this shouldn't be fact, I wrote about it here not long ago.  Sometimes, it takes me a while to learn a lesson...Thankfully, the Lord doesn't give up on me.)

Anyway, it seems that I had once again put that call on hold.

Forgive me, Lord.

Looking back (since the last time I wrote about this), I can see some of my thought patterns that led me away from this desire:
  • I didn't really think anyone wanted to hear me teach.
    • Well, for one thing it ain't about me. It's about the glory of God and it should stay that way.
    • Also, that's what the "WAIT" part is about...This is the time of preparation for me to study, and dig, and learn, so when someone's ready to listen, I'll be ready to talk.
I realized I had unknowingly been responding to God's call to teach the same way Jeremiah responded.  (We talked about in him in Lifegroup this morning so it was fresh on my mind.)
"Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak..." (Jeremiah 1:6)
(He continued with, "Because I am a youth," but we can debate about whether or not that would apply to me ;)
Perhaps no one wants to hear me teach, and perhaps I do not know how to speak, but no one wanted to listen to Jeremiah either and it didn't stop him. 

{What has the Lord asked you to do?  Does it seem unlikely or impossible?  Do you doubt that you can do?  Do you doubt that it will ever really come to pass, so why bother? - Keep asking.}

  • I had gotten my priorities out of line.
Recently, I went with the lovely ladies from my church to hear Kari Jobe sing. It was a fun night and Kari did a great job, but I had some questions come up in my mind about the Holy Spirit.
I thought, "I'm really going to have to study this out to find my may make a good blog."
But then I gently set it aside and thought, "This is going to take a little TOO MUCH time to study and write, and do it well.  I'll just leave it alone." 
BUT, the questions still wouldn't leave me, and I still didn't want to do the homework.

I didn't want to take the time to study God's Word deeply. 

It was because I had become what I never wanted to be:


(I hate that word.)

I'd filled my time with good things, and they're things I'm going to keep on doing for now, like my flower business and teaching at the YMCA, but I don't want to neglect the "first things" anymore.

I don't want to put God on hold.

When he puts a thought or question into my mind I want to make the time to study it through and share it with others. I want to be prepared for whatever he has me waiting for.

{Is there something God has asked you to do that takes a "little too much" time?  Are you busy?  Are your priorities lining up with God's Word? - Keep asking.}

I WANT to wait on the Lord and I WANT to trust Him.  Those are my priorities.

IV shared this verse with our Lifegroup today, and it applies here as well...I was trusting in my own strength and turning my heart from God's call: 

《《 Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord...  
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord." (Jeremiah 17:5,7) 》》

Keep asking, and keep waiting...just don't forget what you're waiting for.

P.S. IV called later and said he was sorry for not going to lunch with me, he realized it may have come across as mean. I knew he wasn't being mean, and I told him about my conversation with the the Bojangles drive through. If he hadn't ditched me for lunch I may have had to wait a little longer for that (and I may not have gotten to eat at Bojangles :).  ~Roman's 8:28~

P.P.S. Expect to hear back from me on those Holy Spirit questions...I've gotta get to work on that. ;)

In the meantime:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Run Free

Recently, IV and I were walking back after spending some good, quality time in the fields watching for deer.  It was getting cold quickly since the sun had set.
IV was carrying my gun, because he's nice like that, and I was ready to break into a jog in order to get inside to the warm fire a little quicker.
However, as soon as I started to trot I remembered that even though I wasn't carrying any extra weight, IV was still carrying two guns, so I slowed my pace back down. 
That's when this verse popped into my mind:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Since I had handed over my weight to someone else I was free to run...unburdened.
IV, though, was still weighed down...heavy laden. 

This gave me a good picture of the effects of sin and worry on our lives.  That junk weighs us down!  It keeps us from being able to run free through life in joy and thanksgiving!

Jesus offered to take that weight for us...
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
He'll give us rest...His burden is light.

We can run free in Him!!!

BUT, life's not a's still a battle:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:6-8)

So, after we hand over our burdens to Christ he instructs us to get dressed for the battle:

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints... (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Thankfully, this is the lightest set of armor ever designed!

We're still running free!

The problem is that sometimes when we find this freedom to run unencumbered "the race set before us" we forget about the people around us who are still trudging along under the heavy burden of sin and how I forgot about IV carrying two guns when I had none.

Sometimes it's busyness that causes us to forget, or sometimes it's pride...
Or sometimes we could be like Paul, who we talked about in Life Group today.
We may be tempted to set our eyes on heaven, but we must remember that God still has a purpose for us in the lives of others:
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.  (Philippians 1:23-26)
We need to encourage each other in the faith. 
We need to spread the joy! 
We also need to be there to pick each other up when we fall, because it's not meant for us to fight our battles alone:
 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Salvation is personal, but life is a team effort.
  • Hand your sins and worries to Jesus.
  • Put on His armor.
  • Fight the fight, and run the race well.
  • Encourage one another to do the same:
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.  (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Praising the Lord that we can run freely into a New Year! 


Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Reminder: My take-away from a day in the Pilates and yoga world.

1. I spent today in Atlanta at a certification course for a Pilates and yoga blend fitness class.
2. This reminded me of two things from my past that I seem to have lost passion for...

A Reminder

The first thing I was reminded of today was that I really LOVE Pilates as a form of exercise. 

I started doing Pilates shortly after King was born in 2004.  I bought some DVDs I saw advertised on TV by Daisy Fuentes.  (They're still here on Amazon if anyone is interested.  They're basically the same quality workouts I learned today...good, old, stuff.) 

However, I haven't practiced Pilates regularly in quite a while since I've been teaching HIIT (high intensity interval training) at the YMCA and running a lot on my own.  Therefore, I was happy to reconnect with it today.  It makes me feel tall and strong, and teaches muscle control and postural alignment like nothing else. 

I like to teach it too. 

That leads to the second thing of which I was reminded...

I really LOVE to teach the Bible.

That may seem really random and unrelated, but it's not...

Anytime you talk yoga, people will inevitably start talking about stress relief and inner peace.  I knew that going into this certification and was prepared for it, but I wasn't prepared for the way the Holy Spirit stirred inside me as soon as the lectures began. 

I was sad...very sad...

...Sad for all these women looking for peace and relief from anxiety and not knowing where to find it.  They keep looking within themselves but anything they find there will be a temporary Band-Aid for a much bigger wound. 

I mean, I'll be one of the first to tell you that I use exercise for stress relief.  It's a time away from the kids and my household duties.  It's a time when I can think and sweat, and I do always feel better afterward.  BUT, it's not where I get my peace, and it doesn't take my worries away. 

Only one Person can do that...only one Person HAS DONE that.

When I finally got home from the class with my certificate in hand (and after I ate!), I read the Christmas devotional to the kids.  (We do the She Reads Truth Advent devotional I bought last year.)

I found the truth I already knew in my heart in this scripture from Hebrews:
17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
  • God is unchanging.
  • God gives us hope through Jesus.
  • Jesus is an anchor for the soul.
That's what gives me worries, no stress.

(Here comes a semi-cheesy analogy, beware :) Just like Pilates is all about the core strength of the body that anchors and helps control all the movement of the other parts of the body, Jesus is the core strength of our souls and lives, now and eternally.  He holds it all together.  (Colossians 1:17)

It's also here in the words to this song, which Lottie and I lovingly sang to the family (I think they actually liked it. Heehee.):

  • Jesus sets us free from fears.
  • Jesus sets us free from sins.
  • He's our rest, our hope, and our joy.
This is why I was re-filled with the desire to teach the holds the only answer for "inner peace." 

And who knows, maybe when you've finally learned to cast all your cares on Jesus you'll feel a little more free to come join me for a workout. Heehee.  
A little sweat never hurts.  ;)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Keep Coming Back

#1 I got to teach at the youth girls' retreat this past weekend.
#2 Teaching is always a learning experience.

Keep Coming Back

We studied from Annie Downs' book Looking for Lovely:

The key verse was Romans 5:3-5:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

(We had to push fast through the book since it was only a weekend retreat but Casey, Jennifer, and I tag-teamed the teaching and got it done in style. :)

Here's what I took away from the study:

She talked a lot about persevering through hard times by looking for good moment's of God's blessings in those times, and not giving up, but holding on to hope through it all.

Most of us have fairly easy lives...we're fed and clothed and have some sort of a home, but we still have some REALLY hard times, and some REALLY trying days.  There are also things that we pray for that seem to never come...

These are the times of perseverance I thought of. 

We also talked a lot about just not giving up, and that made me think of one my friends who had asked me for advice on weight loss and fitness.  Part of my advice to her was that she WOULD mess up and fall off track, but she had to keep coming back to it...keep starting over.  Moment by moment. 

Example: If you're trying not to eat sweets but you give in and eat a cookie...hit the mental reset button at that moment...don't eat the whole pack of cookies.

Keep coming back to the fight!

Then I thought way back to my New Year's resolutions
This was one of them:
  • Write more.  I'm going to try to sit down to write at least once a week.  I definitely won't be posting everything I write, but the act of trying keeps me thinking and digging and praying and learning.
I did not stick to this.

I actually just remembered it this weekend.

My first thought was, "Well, that's awash.  I guess that's not going to happen now.  I don't think I'll write at all anymore."


"I don't want to by a quitter...I'm a finisher!"  (That's my little pep talk to myself. :)

I thought about my advice to my friend about weight loss and fitness and it easily applied to my situation.  It can apply to whatever battle you're facing, or goal you're trying to reach, or new habit you're trying to start. 

Just keeping coming back to it!  Don't quit.

So here I am...writing.

I also thought about something I've been praying for a long time now and it obviously hasn't happened.  I struggle now to keep praying for it.  That's what I last wrote about here.

At the retreat, which was in the Smoky Mountains by the way, some of the girls and I tried to see the sunrise.  The problem was that where we were situated in the mountains the sun didn't actually rise for us until late in the morning.  So we were there looking at a mountain, knowing that the sun had risen behind it, but we still couldn't see it. 

The Lord brought this to mind for me when I taught on hope that night.

I told the girls that in this world there are always temptations and distractions that try to pull us away from the path God has for us, but we have to look past what we can see in front of us and remember that there's a greater purpose...a greater goal.

The sun still rises, even if we can't see it.  We have to keep moving forward, hoping in the unseen.  Holding on to faith because Jesus can move the mountain:
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  -Matthew 17:20

Keep climbing the mountain until it moves.  
Keep praying.
Keep hoping. 
Keep coming back.

Just don't quit.

That's what I'm going to do.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Look for it!

“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”  ― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

#1 Somedays are just harder than others.
#2 Sometimes there's no apparent reason for the change.
#3 Today was one of those days.

Look for it!

Iv and I have been looking on and off for a house to buy for the past 6 years or so.
We put in another offer today.
I doubt they'll accept our offer.
That's okay.

Usually, I would have already started praying that we would be able to get the house.

I didn't want to pray this time.

"What's the use? We'll either be able to get it or we won't...whatever the Lord wants to do, He's going to do anyway. Right?  Why pray?"

Like the quote at the top - Joke's on me.

I prayed about it anyway...half-heartedly, and then forgot about it.

The Lord didn't forget about me though. 

The kids and I were driving home this evening right when a storm was clearing away.  There was sun shining through the windshield and dark clouds behind me. 
I kept telling the kids, "Look for a rainbow!  I know it will be there...just keep looking!"

They were about to give up when I insisted once again that they look out their windows...

And there it was. (I'm sure some of you saw it too.)

I had to make a quick turn into the waffle house to turn around...didn't want to miss it.

The kids were saying, "You were right, Mom! That's so cool!"
And they even thanked me for making them look.

As we were sitting in the Waffle House parking lot taking in the beauty of it all, the Lord spoke to me in the loving way He always does.

I realized that there is a reason I need to continue to pray...
I need to pray for all things - like an offer on a house, or a friend who's in need, or for safety and provision...
I need to pray, so that I won't miss God's hand at work in my life.
I don't want to miss it.

Just like I kept telling the kids, "Look for it!  Look for it!"  I need to remind myself to keep looking for God moving around me. 
Keep looking!  I don't want to miss something beautiful!

Prayer does that.  It keeps me involved in the works of the Lord.

He does answer prayer.
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.  - Psalm 65

Thank you, Lord, for making me look.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Holy Spirit: snippets from the college girls' retreat

#1 This past weekend was unbelievably fantastic...I had the most humbling privilege to share and teach the Word of God to an awesome group of college girls at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

#2 Being at the beach was just icing on the cake.

I wanted to share just a snippet of what I taught...It seems fairly applicable to the present troubles.  Though really I wish I could somehow pass to you the joy, love, peace, and fun we all shared.

The Holy Spirit

A few months ago, when Wendy asked me to speak, I immediately started to search for a topic or Scripture.

At my Wednesday night Bible Study, the Lord gave me the idea to study up on the Holy Spirit...
Specifically, how we, as Christians, often ignore the God who lives inside us.

That's where the adventure began!

At first, I thought, "The reason we ignore the Spirit is because we dilute it with outside distractions."

I was thinking the bombardment of social media, media in general, TV, music, etc. was just drowning it out. 

About this time, I had planned to go with another group of college kids on a backpacking trip in north Georgia.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test my theory...There would be no cell phone service and minimal human contact.  I thought I would find real peace there.


I did have a good time, but really it was the most bland wilderness experience I've ever had.  This had nothing to do with the scenery or the company...both were fantastic.  I just wasn't "moved" as I have been before when immersed in God's creation.

I was confused.

So, I picked my kids up from my parents and headed  back home through Atlanta...
I was on 75/85, fighting through traffic with a car full of kids, and wondering again about what I was missing when a song came on the radio.

I love this song...we sing it a lot at church:

I was listening to the words and the lines, "your love will surely come find us," and "I've surrendered to your design" really jumped out of me...
And there it was...
In that moment of Atlanta-traffic-and-kid-crazed chaos I felt the peace of God that assured me I was right where He wanted me to be and that He was right there with me.
When I got home I read this devotional by Francis Chan:
First, the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not an indistinct “power” or “thing.” I often hear people refer to the Spirit as an “it,” as if the Spirit is a thing or force that we can control or use. This distinction may seem subtle or trivial, but it is actually a very serious misunderstanding of the Spirit and His role in our lives. In John 14:17, we read that the Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you.” This calls us to relationship with the Spirit, instead of allowing us to think we can treat the Spirit as a power to be harnessed in order to accomplish our own purposes. The Holy Spirit is a Person who has personal relationships with not only believers, as we have seen, but also with the Father and the Son. We see the Spirit working in conjunction with the Father and the Son multiple times throughout the Scriptures.
* Do you ever fall into the trap of seeing the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force instead of a person? How have you tried to “harness” Him instead of having a relationship with Him?
I had to answer yes...I had fallen in that trap and tried to harness the Spirit.  That's what I was doing on the backpacking trip, and probably why I didn't get the results I thought I would.

I took the girls at the retreat to John 14 and we read verses 16-27, ending with these verses:
 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
There's the peace that I felt that day.  He left it with us when He left us with the Spirit.

This is a little something from Oswald Chambers on that...I had to read it slow to be able to digest it all:
The idea of peace in connection with personality is that every power is in perfect working order to the limit of activity. That is what Jesus means when He says “My peace.” Never have in mind the idea of jadedness or stagnation in connection with peace. Health is physical peace, but health is not stagnation; health is the perfection of physical activity. Virtue is moral peace, but virtue is not innocence; virtue is the perfection of moral activity. Holiness is spiritual peace, but holiness is not quietness; holiness is the intensest spiritual activity.
The profound realization of God makes you too unspeakably peaceful to be capable of any self-interest.
That last line summed it all up for me...We feel the true peace of God when we're so focused on Him that we lose interest in ourselves for a moment.

I then took the girls to look at Joseph for a minute...though his story comes long before Jesus left us with His peace. 

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned, and then eventually made second in command to Pharaoh.  When his brothers came to buy food during the famine Joseph really exemplified this "profound realization of God" that made him "too unspeakably peaceful to be capable of any self-interest."

He saw the big picture of what God was doing:
5And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 
8“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:5-8)
20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  (Genesis 50:20)
 He didn't have to show his brothers mercy, but he was so full of God's peace.

This peace is readily accessible to anyone who believes in Jesus as their Savior...back to John 14:
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
He is in us.

After this we looked at Romans 12 and I talked about what I learned youth our all to Jesus so as not to hinder our relationship with the Spirit...verses 1 and 2 started us off:
12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Then we finished that section at 13:10, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

There was a lot in between there, but the basic idea is that sin grieves the Spirit, and there are a lot of works and things we can do to keep out of sin, but they're all summed up in LOVE. 

Love for God, love for others.

1 John 4:13-5:12 brings it all together:
  • 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
  • 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
  • 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
  • Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
His commandments are not burdensome because they're all summed up in love.
Love is not hard when we have no self-interest.
No self-interest is easy when we're consumed with thoughts of God.
When we're consumed with thoughts of God we will have room for fear.

Love and peace.

There is a war against those two things, because there's a war against God. 


Thankful for this war cry that my kids reminded me of after their week of camp:
7Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The Lord will be with us wherever we go. 


Monday, June 27, 2016

Youth Clichés

#1 Writing about youth camp this year has seemed a lot more daunting then last year.
#2 All that has come to mind when trying to describe the experience are a lot of different clichés.
#3 I've decided to just go with it...this should be fun.

Youth Camp in Clichés

Youth Camp...

  • like opening a can of worms.  Once you pop that top...they're all going to come squirming out.
Even though I had one year of youth camp recently under my belt I still had no idea what was going to come up and out of these kids this week.  Once we all headed off in our new (to us) short buses there was no going back!

  • It's like putting all your eggs in one basket.  You have to be all in, all the way.
One thing I knew upon pulling out of the parking lot was that spending the week with these kids would cost me every ounce of mental, physical, and spiritual energy I had.  Those were my eggs, camp was my basket.

  • The writing was on the wall.  Anticipation.
All of us leaders knew something would happen this week, we just didn't know what.  We were praying for God to move in these kids...we just didn't know what His move would be.

  • You can't judge a book by its cover.  You never know what's going on inside a kid's head.
By the end of the first full day of camp some of the students started opening up and responding to the messages they'd been hearing.  Some of the kids we know really well and pretty much knew what to expect, but some of them were full of surprises.  I got really excited when one girl started asking questions and expressing a passion for the gospel that I never knew she had...I started praying right away that nothing would put out that fire inside her!

  • You can't please everyone. The annoyingly hard part of camp.
Camp activities are as diversified as they can be...some are inside, some are outside, some are active, some are calm.  There is a time of Bible study and a time of recreation.  Some of the kids lose focus of the big picture and get very tired and whiney at different points throughout the day.  It's impossible to keep them all happy and motivated.  I would like to work next year on a better strategy to help them have better attitudes...I'm laughing to myself at the near impossibility of this goal. Haha.

  • What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  This attitude should be a prerequisite for camp.
The days are long, the sun is hot, and there is a lot of whining, but by the end of every night the students are for the most part happy and satisfied.  They usually seem to feel encouraged and they love encouraging and helping each other.  By the end of the week they are stronger...physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The Lord really uses the camp experience as a whole to build these kids in different ways. 
Beyond the clichés:

We studied all about the Gospel this week.  There's nothing cliché about that. 
We learned to "know it, embrace it, live it, share it, and trust it."
We learned to be "unashamed" of our faith. 

I say "we" because I learn just as much at these camps as the kids do...the Gospel lesson is for all ages, and it never gets old.

The lesson that stuck out most to me came on Wednesday when Cliff (Cliff Jordan, the camp pastor) used Romans 12:1-2 with the point that the world says, "GET IT ALL", while the Gospel says, "GIVE IT ALL":
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
He stressed that as a living sacrifice we place ourselves on the altar of God to live as His Word commands.  If we continue to live in sin, even if we're just one step off the altar, we're not on the altar at all. This makes me all the more thankful for the grace of Jesus.

When you accept Jesus as your Savior your sins are forgiven, and God sees you as holy and pleasing, because you're covered by His sacrifice. It's all here (the Scripture says it better than I ever could):
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Gospel...never cliché.


A lot more could be said, but I'll leave it at that. 
Camp is not something to be explained, but something to be experienced...I dare you. ;)

And on an unrelated note...this is what happens when I leave IV home alone:

He decorates.  Sigh.