Archive | July, 2010

I am overcome by the Spirit of the one risen Savior reigning King

9 Jul

The only thing I can say is wow.  I don’t think that I have been this emotionally and physically spent in quite a long time.  However, there is no other way that I would rather be right now!  I cannot even begin to explain to you how God moved in the hearts of our students today, but I will try.

As I have said on several occasions, I came into this week very expectant for there to be a great breakthrough in the lives of our youth in correlation to their relationship with God.  God could not have come through in a bigger way than He did tonight!  I was praying that during our final session this evening that God would move mightily.  As we began the session, I was still in prayer for God’s presence to fall on the students.  At the end of the session God’s work was becoming evident and He had really shown up in a big way.  There was genuine brokenness and contrition in a few youth at the end of the service.  We spent a while in prayer there in the auditorium, in fact we ended up being one of the last groups out of the room.  As we got back to the hotel for church group time, the Lord was still at work in the hearts of all of the students.  As we began our time I told them that I was simply going to let the floor be open so that people could respond to what God was doing in their hearts and minds.  The dominoes began to fall.

I was overwhelmed at the weight of shame and guilt that some of our youth carry with them on a daily basis.  However, after tonight I rejoice in the fact that they have been set free from the bondage to sin and death, and they have been relieved of the burdens that they have lived under.  It is late as I am writing this, because we have just finished talking with each other.  It has been an amazing evening of confession, supplication, and redemption.  Know that I have been praying for God to move in a great way.  He has not delayed in granting this request, and my expectancy has turned into rejoicing in the work of the Lord.  The next step in the process of coming into right relationship with God will be when we get home tomorrow afternoon.  It is at that point that the accountability process begins.  I have covenanted with the youth to keep them accountable for the commitments they have made this evening.  I know that when the real world hits them in the face it will be difficult for the proper decisions to be made.  It is at that point that they must pray for the power and strength of Jesus to help them make the correct decisions.  We have learned this week that the gospel is that.  The fact is that God never intended for us to do things on our own.  Salvation was not designed that way.  The gospel is that salvation was designed to get us to stop trying and let Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do in us.  Matt Chandler made the statement this morning, “Dead guys don’t do stuff.”  The fact is that we are all dead in our transgressions before Jesus comes into our hearts.  God never intended for us to have to struggle through life on our own, but rather He wants to live our life in our bodies for us.

God has moved greatly in our lives this week! It has been such a blessing for me to get to be a small part of God’s work in the lives of these students.  They are all precious, and they are beginning to see that God has HUGE plans for their lives.

Rain down. My heart is dry but I’m still singing…

7 Jul

Today has been yet another great day.  The weather was absolutely beautiful following a rainy day yesterday.  We began this morning in celebration with Matt Chandler telling us how when people run form God they do so in one of two directions.  They either choose to disobey God in every way possible that they can find, or they choose to try to be as clean as possible on their own without God.  This then led to a discussion this evening where Matt talked of the two major errors that people make concerning the gospel.

He said the fact of the matter is that many of us have a fundamental misunderstanding of the essence of the gospel.  He pointed us to 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul reminds the church at Corinth to never forget the gospel that he had preached to them.  This was directed toward people who were already Christians.  Paul is telling them to never get over the gospel.  It is not something that gets us to the point of salvation and then we do not require it anymore, but rather the gospel not only brings us to justification it also works out our sanctification.  Matt says that the two major errors are legalism and license.  In legalism we replace the grace of the cross of Jesus Christ with the law, and we try to work our way into greater favor with God.  This simply cannot occur. (See Phil. 3:1-9, Gal. 1:6-20, and Gal. 2:20-3:5.)  In license we decide to simply live however we want to with the idea that God is going to forgive us anyway.  This cannot not be either. (See Romans 6:1-3.)  In either situation, we are simply striving to change the gospel into something that is not the gospel.  Matt made the statement, “Our goal is not behavior modification.  It is knowing and loving Jesus more.”  The fact of the matter is that God in not in love with some future version of ourselves that is totally clean and does not sin.  God loves us right now just the way we are.

Matt ended the session with asking the question, “What is it in the world that stirs your affections for Jesus?”  Matt said that for him it is strong, black coffee, dinner with great friends, wonderfully beautiful sunrises, and his children.  This evening during our church group time we spent a good amount of time just going around the room talking about things that stir our affections for Jesus.  It was a great and encouraging way to end our day.

We are still expectant for God to continue to move, and we still covet your prayers.

Everything comes alive in our lives as we lift You higher…

7 Jul

What a day!!  Our second day at StudentLife Camp in Orange Beach has been amazing.  We have been challenged, encouraged, convicted, and lifted through the singing of worship songs and the reading and preaching of the Word of God.  Matt Chandler challenged us this morning with the idea that everything that we strive for here on earth is truly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.  We worked through Ecclesiastes chapter one in order to begin uncovering this truth.  Aaron Keyes has led us wonderfully through the use of song both this morning and tonight.  Worship has been slow to come to the group.  It seemed as though there was something holding us back in our enthusiasm to let go in worship.  During the celebration time this morning Aaron Keyes asked the question, “When was the last time you truly bowed down before the Lord?”  In the same moment I thought, “Wow! That will be a great question to bring before the kids in our church group time this evening,” but then I was immediately convicted.  I had to think had about when the last time I had truly bowed down before God myself.  I don’t mean in the physical sense, although that had been a while too.  I mean in the sense of bowing down as an act of submission to the Lordship of God in my life and taking the time to simply listen to God.  It had been too long.

If I’m being honest I was becoming frustrated this afternoon.  As crazy as this may sound, there was a good bit of complaining going on from the kids in our group.  It concerned various things, but suffice it to say that there was a good amount of complaining going on.  Therefore, this evening following worship when it came time for our church group time, the situation needed to be addressed.  I began by simply asking the question, “Why are you here this week?”  The fact of the matter is that through listening to conversations and observing body language most of the kids were not focused on the right things, and the main reasons for many of them being here were not necessarily correct.  So I asked the group to join me by placing ourselves in the posture of bowing down before God.  We knelt in the floor in order to physically place ourselves in a position that hopefully would reflect the posture of our hearts.  I began to pray for God to pour out His presence on us.  I had come to Orange Beach this week with a great deal of expectancy for God to move in a mighty way.  I have been praying specifically for student leadership to rise up within our youth group.  I have also been praying for God to move in the hearts and minds of the students to learn to garner a respect for their parents.  I was pleading with God to move in the way that I have been expecting for weeks leading up to camp.  I have such a strong desire for our youth to experience God in a way that is utterly and truly life changing.  I was simply pouring out my heart to God for this to happen.  I chose the song lyric as the title for this post, because I believe that a change occurred in our youth as I prayed.  I’m not sure if it was the culmination of several events, the act of physically bowing before the Lord, or something else, but when I finished praying other prayers from our youth began to rise up from the faces that were literally on the ground.  I think that our youth may have reached the turning point that I so longed for them to reach.  I understand, and I’m not naive enough to think that everyone is at the exact same place spiritually.  But for the most part it seems to me that we are joining toward a common focus as a group.  We are about learning to worship God in a way that is directed by biblical examples and is not concerned with the thoughts or feelings of those around us.  More than once this evening the statement was made that “We are no longer going to be worried about what others think.”  I am still expectant for God to move, but I believe that the movement has begun.

I am still going after the Lord in prayer for our youth.  I want for them to be willing to be led to deeper waters by God, and I want them to abide there.  I read Isaiah 55:6-9 to our youth this evening after we prayed.  Verse 6 reads, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.”  I have challenged the students that God is near this week and he may be found by us.  I have told them to not let the moment pass by.  Pray strongly that the moment and the gravity of will not be lost on our students.  We covet your prayers still, and we long for salvation to spring up from the ground and the rushing waters to flow over us.

I believe that are kids are ready to be both lost and found in the love of God.

I am not ashamed. I am not shaken. I am not the same anymore.

5 Jul

Hopefully this will be the prayer of each youth, and each chaperone for that matter, will be singing at the end of this week.  It has been a long, Long, LONG day.  However, I could not be more happy to be completely spent at this moment.  It is awesome to be here with the youth of Westside Baptist Church.  The trip down to Orange Beach, AL was very uneventful to be honest.  We made great time getting here, and everyone made it safely.  We actually got here much quicker than I had expected so we had to waste some time walking around an outlet mall before we could go register with StudentLife.  (Don’t worry.  No one made any unplanned purchases.  It was simply a time waster.)  We have great accommodations this year.  The hotel we are staying in is only two years old, and it is very nice indeed.  Hopefully it will be that way when we leave.  Our first worship session this evening truly set the tone.  Aaron Keyes started us off with some great worship through song that got our hearts pointed toward God.  Matt Chandler spoke this evening of the fact that we are all in a pickle so to speak when it comes to our position in the economy of God.  He spoke from Romans 1:21-32.  He made this statement, “We all know that something has gone wrong with the world that we live in.  Until we address the deeper problem there will always be a problem.”  He spoke of the fact that we often simply treat the symptoms of our disease rather that the disease itself.  He used the illustration of mowing over weeds in your yard.  You can cut them with the mower countless times, but until you pull them up from the root they will keep growing back.  He left us all hanging saying that we truly are powerless to remove said weeds from our lives, except for someone stepping in to fix the problem for us.

I am so expectant for this week.  I know that God is going to move greatly on our behalf.  I pray that the kids will have their eyes opened to the truth of the Gospel, and that they will cease to exchange that truth for the lies of the world around them.  IT is time for us to return to our first love which is found in the God of the Gospel.  Continue to follow the prayer guide form the bulletin on Sunday.  Thank you to everyone who is praying for us.  Check back tomorrow night for another update.