Archive for July, 2009

National Youth Gathering Day Three

What’s the good word? It’s the last full day of the gathering. I can’t believe how fast it came. I was doing some walking again yesterday (yeh, I know BIG surprise!) As I was walking I was looking up at these huge sky watch boxes that the city police department has put up everywhere to keep watch over our youth. I was reminded that God is constantly in the watch box. God is constantly watching over us, and God is watching over this gathering. There is no way this could be going as well as it is without God watching over us. God is here, God has been here, and God will remain here far after we leave. And that’s the good word.

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National Youth Gathering Day Two

What’s the good word? My feet hurt. It hurts to walk right now. Yesterday was the first full day of the gathering and it went great! Of course there were a few cliches, but the good that was done far out weigh the things that didn’t work. As I think about the 10.2 miles I walked yesterday, as I think about how my feet hurt still today, I am reminded that sometimes it hurts to walk in the shadow of the cross. Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him, but sometimes that journey isn’t easy. There isn’t anything easy about following Christ, well, perhaps the easiest thing is the grace we receive. Sometimes Christ calls us to unexpected places, to do unexpected things, and that is what this gathering is about. It was an unexpected place. Many didn’t feel we should be in this city. The youth are doing unexpected things. But in the process the people of New Orleans are receiving an unexpected grace, and in return, all participants are receiving it back! Sometimes it hurts, but in the end, as my coach would say, no pain, no gain. Perhaps he was right all those years! And that is the good word.

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National Youth Gathering Day One

What’s the good word? It’s now 9:30 p.m. and I’m exhausted. Day one of the National Youth Gathering is in the books. I got a chance to get over to the Superdome to hear 37,000 high school students worship God this evening. It blew me away! And one thing that stuck out at me was this: “When I get down, He lifts me up.” It is the line in one of the songs that we sang tonight, and yet it still rings in my head. Jesus really does lift us up in the times we feel the lowest. And now it’s already the next day, and I’m feeling low. But you know, there have been people around me that have been lifting me up the whole day, even when things aren’t going well. Jesus lifted up those who were low. He lifted up the woman caught in adultery, he lifted up the paralyzed man, he lifted up the woman who anointed him with oil. And all of that began with a song from his mother Mary early on, before he was born. “He has lifted up the lowly, and casted down the mighty from their thrones.” And that is waht 37,000 kids are here to do this week. To lift up the lowly. To be God’s hands, to do God’s work. To lift up the lowly. To do as God would do to us when we are down, lift them up! And that’s the good word!

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What’s the good word? I have been coming across one word a lot in my readings lately: relationships. I have been reminded that relationships are at the heart of ministry and at the heart of evangelism. We grow through relationships, as we all learn to offer our very selves to God to obey his Spirit’s leading. If you think about it, people’s most basic need in life is relationship. And if that is the case, then we can’t do ministry or evangelism without it. More people come to the faith through close personal relationships. It doesn’t come by knocking on people’s doors. There’s no way to establish that close relationship. As a result, I have seen statistics that show that 1 in 1,000 come to the faith by that means. People connected to other people thrive and grow. Perhaps that is why during the confirmation service for our church we ask our confirmands if they promise to surround themselves with people in the faith. Only together can we demonstrate to the world Christ’s sacrificial love. That’s the good word!

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How Much?

What’s the good word? I was reminded this week about a scene from Schindler’s List, in which Schindler (played by Liam Neesen) strikes up a deal with Goethe, the head Nazi (played by Ralph Fiennes) to purchase his workers from a Nazi concentration camp to save them from a most certain cruel death. Schindler says to Goethe “All you have to do is decide how much a person is worth to you.” Goethe responds,”No YOU, have to decide how much a person is worth to YOU.” If we exist for the people who aren’t a part of our community yet, should we be asking ourselves the same question? How much are people worth to us? It’s difficult sometimes in ministry to stop and care about people. For most, the busier we get, the less we care about others. It’s not out of evil or malice, but most often because we just don’t have time. But not so with Jesus. It says in Matthew, “Seeing hte people, He felt compassion for them.” The translation of the word used for “felt compassion” is splancthna or “bowels” Sounds nice doesn’t it? There is a good reason that this word is used in the greek. Think about it, when you really feel emotional, where do you feel it? Not in your heart, but in your gut! We don’t get butterflies in our heart, we get them in our gut. The Bible also reveals why He felt compassion for them. it is because He saw them as distressed and downcast. Translate these greek words and you get an awful picture. The word distressed literally means “harassed” or “molested”, and the word downcast literally means “pinned down”.   Now think about that for a minute. Jesus saw them as if they were pinned down being molested. Imagine how different church, and ultimately our world, would be if we all began to look past the calloused exteriors of these sinners and saw them as they are; being molested while pinned down. Because that is the hold that sin can have on us! And when we see past the surfaces to the true state of people’s souls, perhaps we too will get a feeling in our guts and feel compassion for them. It sounds like a lot, but it is what we are called to do. That’s the good word!

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