Now, it’s always easy to target large, ‘successful’ ministries and poor starving artists, but it takes a special kind of gift to strike fear in the hearts of vast numbers of copy-cat-pastors like that.
I’ve noticed I am really affected by “how things go” on a typical Wednesday night. Some nights just click and I go home with a ton of energy. My wife says she can tell how things went by my demeanor. I can’t even go to bed for a while until the excitement wears off. Other nights, I get home exhausted.
Tonight was one of those nights. Things just didn’t go very well. Lots of new students and “the group” wasn’t really doing much to welcome them. Kids’ attention scattered everywhere. I left out a song from the projection program (kind of hard for them to sing a new song when they can’t even read the words). Didn’t speak well enough to keep their attention. Clean up kids didn’t/couldn’t stick around.
Maybe I beat myself up a bit, but it just didn’t go that well and I was feeling pretty down. When everyone was gone I plugged my Zune into the sound system and started to vacuum the room. Lots of popcorn and chips on the floor (no spilled drinks, though – a little silver lining for the night). As I finished cleaning the floor and put the vacuum away, I was reflecting on all of this and just how unhealthy it is – for me, my family, the ministry itself. I turned off all the lights and sat in the still room to pray and think about it. As I prayed, an awesome song called “Only You” from David Crowder played. It’s really about how it’s only God that matters. As I offered myself up to God I was reminded of how success/results/impact is really in His hands not mine. I need to be reminded of that often.
Maybe you do, too. So don’t forget. Ours is the responsibility to respond in faith to His Voice. His is to accomplish what only He can.
Somewhere in our spiritual walks, a lot of us pick up the idea that God is still on Day 7 – that He’s still ‘up there’ resting. Depending on our experiences and what we’ve been taught, we might think of Him as a kind old grandpa type of figure just waiting on His rocking chair for us to come climb into His lap, or maybe as a grumpy old man watching us and waiting for us to mess up so He can smack us into submission.
Over the past few weeks in Wind and Water Student Ministries we’ve been exploring another view of God. We’ve been picturing God as a storyteller – one who deeply loves the characters in His story (that would be us, by the way) and who is still engaged in His creation. Jumping off from some of what John Eldridge writes in his book Epic, we’ve been challenged to “Enter the Epic” of what God is doing in the world today.
I believe that God is still at work today. Working on my heart, working throughout each day, working through circumstances both near and far. He didn’t just set the world in motion then sit back and watch it spin. He still holds the world in His hands, causing the sun to rise and set, lifting each tide at the proper time, directing each breeze… All of creation bows to His desires.
But among that creation is one character that’s different than the rest. Mankind is alone in being made in His image. We have the capacity to ignore His will and do whatever we want. We also are alone in being capable of loving Him and being loved. Are you paying attention to the story God is writing in and through your life today? Is there a connection of what you hear and read in Scripture and how you live your life each day? My prayer is that we will pay attention to God; that we will “Enter the Epic” and live as the characters He hopes we will be (and only He can make us). Because God is still writing history…
A Great follow up to our “Enter the Epic” series will be this summer’s CIY conference: MOVE. We will be going to Durango, CO the week of June 15th – so save that week. MOVE is for students going into 9th Grade through the graduating class. Plan ahead now so you don’t miss this awesome opportunity to learn to recognize how God wants to MOVE in your life.
A couple weeks ago, we hosted the students from Central Church of Christ in Gering, for a night of worship and focus on our response to the pain of life. After tacos and chips together, we watched a short film about Bethany Hamilton called Heart of a Soul Surfer. She’s a competitive surfer who uses her life as a platform to lift up Christ – despite losing an arm to a shark.
We talked about how if you’re going to live a life that really amounts to much, chances are you’re going to be hurt at some time or another. It’s how we respond to our injuries that reveals our character and opens or closes a lot of opportunities. God often uses our injuries to point people’s attention (ours and others) to Himself.
In response to the message of hope despite pain, I asked the students to offer their injuries to God and allow Him to work through them. I had them write down their injuries and leave them there. Some of them got stuck on the physical pain part of being injured, while others brought out some pretty heartbreaking stuff. As a youthworker, it hurts me to see students being hurt. But it doesn’t do any good to pretend we don’t.
Here’s a sampling of the injuries listed:
-“My arm broke when I was 5. When I was 3 I got stitches.”
-“Girls always talking about you… Boys are a hurt, too in my life… God, take this HURT!”
-“Everyone holding stuff that I have done in the past still against me. People thinking I should be perfect and always happy, to never have a bad day”
-“I broke my arm playing football and sprained my ankle wrestling”
-“I have done many bad things in my life. God I thank u for dying on the cross for my sins. I love you.”
-“Boys tell me I’m fat. I used to be bulimic and I started cutting this year, but trying not to. I’m giving it to God.”
-“I have been abused both sexually and physically by a boy I thought was my friend. But I didn’t tell anyone about it & still haven’t. I need help! (*She’s getting some now.)”
-“I need your strength to help me be stronger.”
-“One of my best friends was raped. She is broken and seeing her melt down like that kills me… I don’t know how to be strong for her when I’m not strong myself.”
-“Had to use my left hand to write in 6th grade.”
-“Having mono and not being able to play my favorite sport for a whole season.”
-“This is gonna sound weird but I think he uses me because I’m blonde, because a lot of people are always like, “You’re such a blonde” and I just say “Well, I don’t care that’s how God made me and He loves me!” Just by saying that I’ve opened doors for someone to come to Christ.”
-“My parents split up and my dad doesn’t pay attention to me and it feels like he doesn’t love me any more.”
-“I broke my collar bone.”
-“I was taken away from my parents and went back to live with them and got taken away again and they move and I’m in foster care.”
-“I guess feeling left and rejected. It’s been hard without a good Christian influence in my school system.”
-“Asthma and still being able to play baseball and basketball.”
-“I have broken my arm 3 times and I’m glad that was all that happened. I know God was watching over me.”
-“A friend of many years took things from me that can’t be replaced.”
-“I’m very uncertain what God wants me to do. I feel like I’ve been hurt so many times that he has made me strong so I can pray for and help my friends. I’m not sure how or what he wants me to do.”
-“Focusing more on boys than Christ. Being selfish. Thinking of myself as better than others and sometimes doing the opposite and thinking worse of myself.”
I wish I could identify which students went with which anonymous comments to sit and discuss some of these very personal issues. So much pain for young people to know how to handle. But they’ve been trained to hide it well, and so often never allow themselves to be healed. Pray for young people today.
I had written this post last week, and planning to post it later. In light of the shootings in Colorado over the weekend, please pray with me that God will bring healing and hope to those involved. I can’t imagine any injury like losing a child to such random senselessness.
I haven’t yet decided on a candidate for president, but this video is awesome and made me take a look into Mike Huckabee. I did a little digging and found some pretty positive stuff. You can go here to find out where he stands on important issues.
As the Golden Compass is set to begin its gilding of our silver screens and young minds, it seems the conversation between church and culture is once again faced with a polarizing talking point. Several months ago, I received the first of many well intended warnings to stay away from Pullman and this movie. To be honest, I was pretty skeptical – I mean, no one warning of its dangers had even seen the movie. As I read more about the film, and the books of its origin, it was an interesting hornet’s nest to watch. Conservative Christians were mad because of the atheism and anti-church stance. But I also found Phillip Pullman fans angry due to Hollywood’s removal of a pretty good deal of the atheistic and the anti-church from the story. I began to wonder if boycotting was simply adding more hype to the movie – free publicity.
I’ve refrained from commenting until now, but today found a great post from Dick Staub that provides some very good perspective. Visit Staublog and read the post. This really isn’t something new… and it’s not something to be feared. Phillip Pullman, or Hollywood, or Nicole Kidman, or Friedrich Nietzsche or whoever you want to blame are all powerless to change the reality that God is, and God loves.
Be wise, but not fearful. Nothing can destroy the reality of God.
Embarrassed and ashamed, they hid from their Maker. Their state of attire hadn’t changed. Their reason for being hadn’t changed. The fact that they’d been designed for relationship with God and each other hadn’t changed. But their awareness of their own (and each other’s) inadequacies, that had changed drastically. With an act of experimentation beyond a clear border God had placed, Adam and Eve broke the very fellowship with God that they were made for. And we’ve been following their path ever since.
The irony is that ever since, we’ve also all been seeking for someone to love us. As the song says, “We all want to be loved… tell me what’s wrong with that?” There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s what we were made for! What’s wrong is that we spend so much time hiding from the only one who possesses a love deep enough to satisfy our need to be loved.
We hide in our jobs, a general busy-ness that keeps us blinded to Love’s advances.
We hide in sex that is divorced from love, a counterfeit to the true intimacy God intended.
We hide in money, and power, and iPods, and weed, and church, and movies, and books, and any number of other things that can serve to numb us to the reality of God’s love for us.
Embarrassed and ashamed of how we’ve fallen short, we hide. And God still asks, “Where are you?”
Maybe it’s time to come out of hiding, faults and all, and let yourself be loved.
I’ve been fortunate to have guitars that tend to stay in tune pretty well while I’m playing – either that or I’m tone deaf enough to not hear when it’s out! Now, for those who are less fortunate and find themselves re-tuning far too frequently, a self-tuning guitar! It’s even a Les Paul.
If only the tones of our lives were so easily adjusted…