Monday, July 26, 2010

worship or WORSHIP?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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. Romans 12:1-2

One of the greatest things about Student Life is the worship. Every night, regardless of your day, you go into a room with several, several hundred students and glorify a God who is forgiving and gracious. I love the worship. I love the music and the songs and the words.

And one thing I was most excited about this summer, was getting to spend a whole week in worship with Tenth Avenue North. I play their cd in my car and I know their songs by heart, so naturally I was pumped to spend the week with them. I knew they were going to be awesome, and I had built them up in my mind the be as great as they sounded in my car. So as they took the stage for our first night of worship and started singing "Mighty to Save" I felt the disappointment rise.

Let me clarify. The band was as great as I had imagined. They sang "Mighty to Save" as wonderfully as the others. I was not disappointed in the band. I was disappointed in my purpose of worship. I did not come in to worship tonight expecting to sing to a God who loves me, I came in to worship tonight expecting to hear my favorite band sing awesome songs. So let me say this:

What are you worshiping? Or rather, are you worshiping? Are you singing because  you like the song or the band, or are you singing because your God is mighty to save and he can move the mountains? I wasn't. My disappointment came from my own desires of a great concert; the the phone call I'd have with my best friend about how I was "working" with Tenth Avenue North all week. My ideas were thwarted and backwards.  I was not there to worship. I was there to hear a great show. That's where my disappointment came in to play.

But even more than that, what are you worshiping with your life? Worship is not a song. Worship is a lifestyle. It's a way of thinking and living. It's a basic foundation to build your life around. So what are you worshiping? Why are you singing? Who gets your praise?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Faith like a Child.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19:14

As a rec leader, I see wonderful things throughout a normal day of camp. I see students, who have never been included, win the game for their family group, suddenly finding the confidence they've been missing for 13 years. I see homecoming queens and football stars break down under the weight of their sin, letting God renew and rebuild them. I see youth ministers, thrown into the job a week before they came, find purpose and meaning in a group of lost middle schoolers, and I see walls crumble and pain healed. God moves every single day in the lives of those students fortunate enough to come to camp. Unfortunately, as a rec leader what I don't see comes from a different camp perspective. 

Today the rec leaders had the opportunity to go with two mission site coordinators to a local Youth program. Now, for me, this was my first encounter EVER with missions camp, but I didn't realize the difference between missions and rec. During the day, they go play with kids in the community. During the day, I go play with kids at camp. Pretty similar, right? Wrong! What I saw might have changed the course of my life; at-least according to my plans.

We entered into a middle school turned inner-city youth outreach shelter, and as I entered the doors I was overwhelmed. Dozens of dirty little children lined the walls. They were sitting against the wall, waiting for their turn at the water fountain. They were small; probably three or four years old. They were dirty and tired, but when I bent over and said, "Hey there!", their eyes lit up and immediately I was caught up in a fit of hugs and high fives. They wanted to blow my blue whistle and see my watch light up. They wanted to sit in my lap and ride on my back. They wanted to be held and talked to. All the love and affection and attention they never get at home, they saw in my eyes. Now, this might not be the case for them. They might have seen my bright blue whistle and shiny white watch, and thought nothing more of me, but God was using these children to get my attention. 

These kids didn't know me, but in my friendly "hello" and nervous smile, they didn't see a stranger. They saw a hug and another hand to hold. They saw a girl who was too in love with their sweet faces to be mean and a strong set of shoulders to climb on- literally! It was a beautiful picture of what Christ should look like to us. We should hear his word and jump immediately into his arms. We should see his love and trust him. We should know his intentions and hold our arms out to him. We should lean on his strong shoulders and trust him to carry us. We should not question his motives and our faith in him should be unwavering.  I held out my arms and those children reached up to me. Jesus holds out his arms  EVERY second, and we are so cautious to reach. So scared of what we might lose or give up if we reach out to him. Why though? What have we to lose, and why can we not have the faith of a child and trust his heart and his word? Why can we not let him be our hope and our joy, and why can we not let him carry us when we're tired and weak? I don't know either.

My heart broke for these children. I looked at them and I looked at the neighborhood they lived in and the neglect on their faces, and the helplessness I felt was overwhelming. The thought of the futures they might live crushed me, but the thing is, these kids aren't thinking about the neglect or where they live or what they lack. They aren't thinking about how they might end up, or what might happen to them. They are thinking about the girl in front of them who obviously loves them and wants to be there for them. They are thinking about the fun they had coloring, or even playing on the floor in the hall way. That's it. With Christ, we don't need to be concerned about our futures or what we lack. We need to enjoy him and bask in his word and in the love he has for us. We need to be filled up in him, and we need to let him take care of us and plan out our futures.

These kids did not know me, but they didn't question my motives when I smiled and held out my hand. They took to me and trusted me. They let me be a part of their joy and happiness. Even though these children probably won't remember me tomorrow, they allowed me to be a piece of hope for them, and they will forever be on my heart. 

I don't know what God has in store for Corey and me, but I do know that his arms are reached out and I am jumping in. I am going to soak up his love and live in joy for what he has planned next.