For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I Corinthians 2:2

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

...with arms high, and heart abandoned... part 3

When I started this post I didn't even consider that I would end up splitting it up into three different sections... I was planning on posting a quick rundown of the weekend, and what God taught me through it all, but He obviously had other plans... plans that are far greater than my own. Everytime I wanted to end the post, God put more on my heart... I wanted to be able to convey the truths I learned throughout this entire process.... so thanks for bearing with me and continueing to follow along with the story...

Chapel ended around 9:30 friday night. The girls headed back to their cabins for a time of fellowship, reflection, and prayer. The guys did the same. I stayed back in the chapel to set up for the late night worship service. Originally I had asked a few of the youth to stay back with me and help set up, but after chapel ended I gave them the option to head back with everyone else and be apart of the time of prayer. I began to change my focus... I was becoming less concerned with sticking to the schedule, and more concerned with how I can help these youth grow spiritually. Some chose to stay with me, others headed back. We quickly transformed the room with candles. We surrounded the area of worship with small candles in canning jars. Ou desire was to create an atmosphere that would lend itself to the possibility of a more intimate worship. The lights were dimmed, and candles were lit. The youth began filing back into the chapel at 10:30. The worship night was incredible. testimonies were shared. songs were sung. hearts were focused. My heart was focused.

The weekend ended on saturday morning. At our last chapel service Ash Farley brought a message... a perfect way to end the retreat. He spoke to our youth about giving up the throne of our lives. He challenged that if we are to have unity as believers, and be a great influence for Christ, it first starts with ourselves. Recognizing that their is not enough room in our hearts to fulfill our flesh's desires, and God's will. We must make a choice to daily give over control to Jesus. Make His desires our desires. I am so incredibly thankful for Ash, and his ability to teach. God has blessed this youth ministry with passionate youth workers. They love these youth. They sacrifice their time and efforts so that they can be apart of the great work that Jesus Christ is doing within our ministry. Without the help of these workers, this weekend would not have been able to happen.

This retreat was definitely a learning experience for me. I learned alot about myself, and where I am at in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I learned that God is more concerned about His children's spiritual life, than He is with sticking to a schedule. I learned that if I just let go and allow Christ to lead, I can't go wrong.

My arms are high... my heart is abandoned... I am choosing to let my Savior sit on the throne. I know that I can have a greater impact and influence if I let go, and let God lead.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

...with arms high, and heart abandoned... part 2

After our first night's chapel service, the youth headed back to their cabins for about an hour while myself and a few youth stayed behind and transformed the room for our time of "late night games". I continued to stick with the go, go, go mentality.. not really even considering what had just transpired... not giving the proper attention to the spiritual things that were happening in the lives of our youth. I continued to press on... wanting to stay on schedule... wanting to prove that I could handle it all. We finished setting up right as the youth began filing back into the chapel. For the next hour myself, and one of our youth, Therin Cabrera, led games. Each team competed against eachother to earn points that would be added to the scoreboard. The youth were full of energy and so stoked to get the night going. The time of fellowship was full of cheering, laughter, and fun. I think the favorite game of the night was called "Pie in the face!" Each team sent up two members to participate. Each round the youth had to quickly shout out a word that fell within the category I would give them before the round began. For example, I would say "U.S. states!" and I would go down the line of the youth and the first one to stutter or hesitate would get a... PIE IN THE FACE!! Here is a pic of the runner up, Tyler Storz. The pink team ended up winning the game, with Desiree Dusek dominating her opponents hah! The night ended around 11:30, but I stayed behind with Jessie Roy, Heather Whitham, and Therin Cabrera reorganizing, and cleaning up the mess that we had made. We ended up heading back to the cabins around 12:20am... I tried to sleep, but my mind was filled with everything that needed to be done for the next day.

Friday began around 7. I woke up to Herd making coffee... which by the way I am very thankful for... coffee was just what I needed.

SIDE NOTE- Andy never stops serving. He is a wonderful example of a servant for Jesus Christ. I just want to give a shout out to him and THANK HIM for who he is!!

Breakfast began at 8. From there we headed to chapel. Micah brought the word from Ecclesiastes. His message fit perfect with the overall spiritual focus we had desired. He spoke of true, biblical friendship. Something that needs to be understood in light of unity of the Spirit. What was so awesome about this was that Micah has been preaching out of the book of Ecclesiastes for about a month at youth group on sunday nights. His next message in his series was at the exact time we were heading on our trip. God had planned out Micah's messages so carefully so that this would fall on this weekend. I love that God does that. He is so interested in the lives of His children. His plan and timing is perfect.

After chapel we loaded on the bus and in the vans and headed up the mountain. It was absolutely beautiful. The views were breathtaking. I stood in awe of the Creator of this world. He created this. He carefully formed the mountains. He lovingly provided a place of majestic beauty.

A few of the youth spent the day snowboarding, but the majority of us spent the day... well technically it was only a few hours, but who's counting... tubing. The snow was so RAD. It was fresh powder. Walking through it proved to be a challenge at times, with it reaching some peoples hips... but that didn't stop anyone from making the best of it. the youth had a blast. After a few hours of playing in the snow we ate lunch and headed back to the camp. As soon as we began our decent from the mountain my mind quickly began to be filled.. consumed... with things that need to be done.
The second night of chapel was NERD NIGHT. I loved this. We had the room full of nerds. Some with fanny packs. some with suspenders. some with broken glasses. It was RAD to say the least. The night began with a quick team game to get the youth excited for the night. As soon as that finished, we jumped right into worship... Worship at the retreat was awesome. God has blessed our youth ministry with so many talented kids. Our worship team has grown so much this past year. Its so cool to see them use their talents for the Lord. One song in particular that we sang this weekend was the motivation for my title for these posts. The Stand, by Hillsong United. When I heard it I gravitated towards it. The words were so powerful, and in that moment I was focused solely on worshipping my Savior. I had forgotten about everything else. For that moment, my Savior was the only one who mattered. Yet, after the song ended my mind was filled once more with schedule. with my to-do list.

Our guest speaker, Ricky, brought the word again. This time he spoke on influence. He once again challenged our youth. to examine themselves. to examine this ministry. He asked them to consider who they are influencing, how they are influencing, and whether or not this influence pointing to Christ. We have an opportunity to influence. WE as a body of Christ. We are called to STAND UNIFIED TOGETHER. The Christian life is not meant to be done on our own. God has established the body of Christ to fulfill His ultimate plan together. If we stand as one, go out and share the gospel in all we say and do, God can do great and mighty things.

Earlier in the day my sister, Amy, approached me. She asked me to consider if we should have some sort of discussion after the chapel service. she thought it would be a good idea for us to head back into the cabins and spend some time talking about the message, and pray that the Lord can do a work in each of our lives. I was hesistant at first. Would this work? Would it fit into our schedule? It was something that I hadnt even considered before...

From that moment on the Lord began to convict my heart. He was bringing to light the fact that I was not even concerned with the spiritual aspect of the retreat. I was so consumed with the busyness of it all that I let the most important part of the weekend take a back seat to my schedule...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

...with arms high, and heart abandoned... part 1

Its been over a month since my last post... many AWESOME things have happened in that time. God continues to amaze me with who He is, and the unconditional love that He provides. So many times I feel as Paul did when he wrote...

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of who I am chief." I Timothy 1:15

Paul, the one who God blinded on the road to damascus. Paul, the one who had dedicated his life to suffering for the cause of Christ. Paul, the one who traveled all across the known world proclaiming the name of his Savior. This Paul, a man of God, called himself the chief of sinners... Paul knew that even though he was a man who many admired, who many loved, who many sought council from, he still was a sinner. He knew that he was no better than the next, yet he did all he could to point solely to Christ. He was a man just as others were, yet despite his shortcomings, continued to actively pursue God. He used his INFLUENCE not for selfish gain, but for the benefit of others... so that others may know God.

I was given the responsibility... no privilege... to plan and organize our winter retreat for the youth ministry at LCBC. When I was asked to do so, I jumped at the idea. I was so excited for yet another opportunity to serve. God has called me to full time ministry... someday... my heart's desire is to become a full-time youth pastor. I know God has perfect timing so for now I am soaking in all I can, learning from Godly men, and getting plugged into every aspect of our youth ministry I can... ie- the winter retreat.

The camp was from Feb. 17-19 at Mt. Baker Bibleway Camp up north near the base of Mt. Baker. I was put incharge of essentially planning the entire weekend from scheduling, to finances, finding drivers, promotion, decorations, games, to communication with the parents.(btw... I am not looking for an "atta boy" or anything, I had PLENTY of help from numerous people throughout the planning process and the actual retreat!) However, I still found myself extremely stressed out. I had so many different things, and ideas running through my mind that I was beginning to forget why I was doing this in the first place. I was beginning to rely on my own strength, and not allowing God to lead. I was becoming so focused with all of the little details, that I didn't spend time bathing the weekend in prayer.

The weekend finally arrived. I was extremely excited to see all of the plans and preparations come to fruition. As soon as we arrived at the camp on thursday my mind was on a mission. I had a go, go, go... get things done mentality. A few of the youth and I headed into the chapel and began setting up decorations to set the atmosphere for the weekend. The first nights chapel was team colors night. The youth were divided into four different teams according to colors. The youth brought as many different articles of clothing they could find in their color. The night was filled with awesome worship, and incredible preaching. God brought in Ricky Ortiz, a youth pastor from River Rock Church in Camas, WA. He brought the Word, and really let the Holy Spirit lead. He challenged our youth to take a step back, examine their lives, and this ministry. He brought to light the idea of unity. God has commanded us to live unified. Share the good news of Jesus Christ, UNIFIED. If we are to do something RAD for Jesus, we need to be unified in doing it. When many are desiring to serve Jesus together, great things can be done.

The first night was a great start to the weekend for many of our youth, yet I still felt consumed with the busyness of it all...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

once lost, now found

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

What an incredible truth. I once was lost, but now am found. I was separated from Jesus Christ. Someone let the love of the Savior shine through their lives... their fire was burning bright. They were not afraid to stand out amidst the sin in this world. Through their faithfulness and love for God, I was illuminated to the truth of the Gospel. THE GOOD NEWS.

I lived in this world, blindly... unaware of my Savior. Unaware of the one who bled for me. Now I can confidently stand and proclaim that I KNOW the Creator of this World. I praise God for the price that was paid... for the gift that has been given. Salvation is here. Jesus Christ is salvation. Men deny Christ, yet He STILL desires their love. He never gives up. He never fails. He passionately pursues His children.

I, as a CHILD of the one true God, have a great responsibility. NO... privilege, to spread the good news of Christ... to all. To those who I love. to those who I despise. to those I have yet to meet. to those who have all this world has to offer. to those who have nothing. TO ALL. I am challenged. I am burdened. I am choosing to become active for God's glory.

I constantly fail, yet stand firm on the truth that NOTHING can separate me from the love of Christ. My faith in Jesus Christ grows daily. He challenges me to grow. He forces me out of my box... out of my comfort zone... yet never leaves me through it all. He has provided the Holy Spirit to guide... to comfort... to lead. I stand on this truth. He wants to use me for His glory... He wants me to take His story to the world. He has shown me what it means to love.
...I once was lost, but now am found...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

a FAITH undeniable

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

The desire of my life is to faithfully serve my Savior, Jesus Christ... that my heart will forever be after Him.

He was and still is the perfect representation of faith.

Faith is believing in what you cannot see. Trusting in God. Believing that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be. the savior of this world. Faith is daily denying yourself, understanding that your life has a greater purpose. Believing that you will one day get to spend eternity with God. Believing that those without Christ will be separated from their Creator. This faith should cause us to be burdened for those who claim Christ was just a man... that He was not God. This is what motivates me.

God has given me an incredible opportunity to serve Him completely. My passion for the youth at Lake Country Baptist Church grows each and every day. I see the love they have for their Savior. I see their desire to truely understand who Jesus is. I see men and women of God who are searching. seeking.

I yearn for their souls. My heart rejoices in the fact that many have come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, yet my heart weeps for those who choose to deny Him.

I look forward to what God had in store for my life. I don't know what it is exactly, but I do have faith that Jesus Christ will be with me every step of the way. I pray that I can daily step out by faith and serve my Jesus.

God has called me to a lifetime of service. A lifetime of pouring my heart into others for His glory. A lifetime of denying myself, and above all faithfully living like Christ.... faithfully living for Christ.