Saturday, June 23, 2012

Celebrating Foundations

"Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the Lord. And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.  But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away." (Ezra 3:8-13 ESV)

 This little excerpt out of the book of Ezra gives me chill bumps. This is during the beginning of the rule of the new king in Israel and this chapter starts with several priests and leaders rising up to call for the building of the second temple in Jerusalem. 

 This part of the passage starts with telling us that they gathered the young men, as young as 20, to supervise the building of the temple. In the building of anything, you must always start with the foundation.  Once the workers had laid the foundation, the priests and leaders came and celebrated with horns and cymbals. They came to worship T the sight of the foundation being laid.  The people of Jerusalem see that the foundation is laid and they begin to shout for joy.

They Rejoice in ways that we could never understand. They scream so loud that it can be heard far away. People are seeing that the foundation is laid and they are having a party! They are celebrating that the foundation of the house of the Lord is laid. Nothing has even happened besides the foundation being laid. The older people of Jerusalem see the foundation and are reminded of the first temple and begin to weep in conjunction with the people shouting with joy.

This has turned into a worship experience.....the spiritual leaders of worship bringing in the horns and cymbals and the rest of the people rejoicing through shouts and tears at the fact that THE FOUNDATION is laid. There isn't a building there. There isn't an altar for sacrifices. There's only a foundation. 

 This makes me look very intensely at my own life.

Where in my life is the foundation being laid and am I celebrating that?   Where do I see God using experiences to prepare me for the work I will do later?

 Where am I leading, and in those places am I celebrating the laying of the foundation by the people I am leading? Am I bringing in horns and cymbals to rejoice with them?

 At the end of a week of camp, am I celebrating so loud that God has laid the foundation in that community through us for them to reach out in a greater capacity that the community next door hears me? What about you?

Where is God laying foundations in your life and are you rejoicing in them? Are you screaming for joy? Does it bring you to tears because you've seen God use this before?  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Love your neighbor

Love your neighbor.
It's a big deal.
Jesus talked about it.

This is something that I neglect more often than not. Too often, our up bringing and our culture makes it really easy to love other people neighbors. That's why we do incredible work on mission trips to different communities and countries, and sometimes don't think about the person across the breezeway from ourselves.

Love is important. It's powerful. It is so powerful it is a name for our God. He is Love. Love is incredibly intangible and incredibly tangible all in the same. Love is not something we can buy at a store or even pick up off of a shelf, but we cannot go without it. Our system will shut down. Love is powerful. Love is hard. Love is what binds together all things in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3) Love first binds us in harmony with God (he showed is love through Christ) and love can bind us in perfect harmony with the people around us.

Love is important.

When Jesus was asked by the greatest practicers of the law what the greatest commandment was....Jesus (like always) didn't have the most concrete and simple answer the Pharisees were looking for. They were looking for a shortcut into heaven. They were looking for what they could DO in order to receive His grace. They were looking to dethrone Jesus and catch Him off guard.

Jesus' answer was two fold. He said the first is to love the Lord God with all your heart. Let's not fail to neglect the importance of this commandment. He says it is the greatest comandment. Without loving God...we can go no where else. That's a requirement and of the utmost importance.

But Jesus goes on to say "and love your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus says that from these TWO commandments, everything else falls into place.

Some people would say that loving God is the only commandment and that loving your neighbor, honoring your parents, and all of the other things fall into place after that.

But if that one commandment was able to direct us 100% toward where we are called to be, why would Jesus have included the second one? Why didn't it end with "Love your Lord God with all your heart. Then everything else will fall into place."

Here's what I think:
Jesus understood us better than we understand ourselves. He knew that it was possible to love God completely and neglect the people surrounding us. He knew that even our worship of him could become self centered.

Jesus was always challenging human nature, and unfortunately it's in our nature to not love our neighbor as ourselves. It's in our nature to provide and make ourselves happy. "BUT GOD being rich in mercy" had bigger plans for us. He envisioned a world where we would humble ourselves before him and even our neighbors.

Love your neighbors tomorrow like nobody's business.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Upward, Outward, and Forward

Constantly, I have been having to remind myself of this phrase. "Upward, Outward, and Forward." I heard this while visiting a church a couple of months ago for the first time.

The church was in the middle of a prayer series and the pastor was talking about prayer and the Kingdom.

Working camp is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, but Satan has a special tool he likes to use for camp counselors. Sometimes camp can bring out the "me monster."

I did this, I do that, what about me.....the list goes on an on. Sometimes on long days the "me monster" takes over my mind.

In the front of my production binder is the sermon notes from that Sunday. It was one of the fullest pages of notes that I had taken in a church service in a while. But the very first thing on it is that phrase: "Upward, Outward, and Forward."

That phrase has so much power behind it. It's saying that our prayers should be constantly Upward, Outward, and Forward. Upward-meaning that we give God our thanks and praise Him. Outward-meaning we praying for the people and circumstances around us. Forward- meaning that the decisions we make now glorify the Kingdom and prepare us for something greater constantly.

It's impossible to have the "me monster" rule your life when your prayers are always focused on being grateful, on others around you, and being future focused. The now doesn't seem so bad when there is so much future ahead. Your problems seem like nothing compared to the guy you met at sunday school in the morning that is battling cancer. It's hard to complain when you're too busy being grateful.

The bible says "seek the lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." What that means is pray upward, outward, and forwards always. Then your ways will align with His will.

---------------------------------------------------------How I'm praying-------------------------------------------------------

Upward-so very grateful that God created the paths in my life to lead me to the hotel room I am writing this from now. So very grateful for the paths that I have crossed in communities and on my team. So very grateful for the message we have to spread and the reason for spreading it.
Outward- Always lifting up my team. Praying for the communities we are in, and we are going to. Praying for the camper who we will come in contact with. Praying for the other teams that are working so heard toward the same mission.
Forward-praying that we help spread the gospel to campers who will one day lead in their communities. Praying that the wisdom, knowledge, and skills that I learn from camp help lead me towards my future goals. Praying for the communities we are going to later in the summer and that they would continue to prepare well.

Upward-Grateful to be in a place physically, and financially to attend secondary educations. Grateful for the staff and teachers at my university. Grateful for the way that God got me there.
Outward-Praying for the people on my campus everyday. Praying that revival breaks out and our campus of 25,000 would be changed. Praying the hearts of administration would be softened.
Forward-Praying that what I am studying leads me to where God's will has put me in my life. Praying that I am being a good steward and will be fiscally able to handle debts incurred from tuition.

Upward-Grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people who love me and would do anything for me. Grateful for the opportunities brought by friends and family. Grateful for those friends and family who are my brothers and sister in Christ and grateful for the one who aren't so that I can be on mission.
Outward-constantly for the health and decisions. Praying for their lives to be following God's will constantly. Praying for extraordinary things to happend in their lives.

Upward-so so so so so so very grateful for the community of believers God has put me in. So very grateful for the message they share. So very grateful for the way that God has blessed them, and the way they have handled attacks from Satan.
Outward-Praying that my community would be changed and filled with light. Praying that my church family staff is following in step with God's will and that they are provided for in ways they don't understand.
Forward- Praying that God brings the gifts and talents they need to keep spreading their message. Praying that they are thinking with God sized dreams and being good stewards. Praying that decision now would only cause the message to further spread in the future.

Future Wife:
Upward-Grateful for what both of us are learning while we may not even know each other. Grateful for her life.
Outward-Praying that she would be blessed. Praying that she knows she is loved. Praying that she knows the Lord and is walking in step with Him. Praying she is provided for.
Forward-praying that God is equipping our hearts for what the future holds. Praying that I am becoming a man in order to be ready. Praying that I never give away too much of my heart, and same for her.

Upward: Grateful for the opportunity to live in a place where I can obtain a good job with good pay.
Outward: praying that God is equipping the people who will be around me for the work we will do. praying that I am able to be a tool to help fulfill a need.
Forward: Praying that everything I do now is only providing the skills for what that job holds. Praying that where ever this is, that God's hand is already on it and blessing it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

No Room for Air

I haven't seen enough days to be considered a seasoned production director, but I felt something in a room which was under my direction that I'd never felt before.

If you didn't know, I work for WinShape Camps for Communities (day camp for 1st through 6th grade). Kids day camps are insane. We are constantly moving. In the auditorium we go through 10-12 transitions in 30 minutes. That's insane. It's loud, fast, fun, and interactive.

But today something different happened.

This week we are at one of the largest camps in WinShape history. We are serving over 500 campers as staff members this week and I have never seen anything like it. It has been the most encouraging week of camp I have seen.

Thursdays are always a little more rowdy. It's "village day" so there is a lot of cheering and masses of little people in red, green or blue. The campers are comfortable with their environment and with their new friends. It's always a pretty wild day.

The combination of it being Thursday, and the room being full of 500 1st-6th graders is what made this moment so real.

Our theme of the day is mission. "Don't just walk it, talk it." We teach the campers about working out their faith in Christ everyday.

The passage the camp pastor uses is Colossians 3: 12-17.

"12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

If that passage didn't strike a chord with you, go back and read it until it does. There are so many profound things that can be pulled from there. 

Before the camp pastor speaks we play an animated motion graphics video of a child reading it. Today was the first time I had seen this video in a production environment. 

As the passage began, campers became dead silent. That's right. 1st graders on a row with 20 other first graders were completely silent. There was no room for air in that room. God's spirit was working through that passage at that very moment. 

If you don't understand the point I'm trying to get across, it's that we are teaching this to 1st through 6th graders. Imagine a world where this generation was so focused on that one passage like today, that they lived it out constantly. They realized they are HOLY and DEARLY LOVED. The PUT ON COMPASSION. Compassion alone could help shake the Kingdom for His glory, but they go on to also PUT ON KINDNESS, HUMILITY, GENTLENESS and PATIENCE.

This was the center of our message today. 

Think about the world where this generation put a filter on everything they did or said, not allowing anything that would be ungrateful to our God to be shown or said. 

This is our mission, and there is no room for air. 

"Don't just walk it, Talk it."

Friday, June 1, 2012

God Sized Prayers

Tonight and the up and coming week are resonating with one very large theme..."God Sized Prayers"

We begin our first week of camp on Monday which means that this weekend is major prep time. I'm so excited about what God has in store for us. We are easily going to be one of the largest WinShape Camps for Communities camps ever. We are close to hitting 500 campers.

As we go through our list of things to do, and supplies we are realizing just how big this camp is going to be. It gives me chills. Its going to be HUGE.

I was talking to a church staff member today and he boiled their success in registering campers down to one thing...a God Sized Prayer. Their staff came together with the goal of 300 campers and they said that it wasn't enough. They wanted something only God could accomplish in such a small town and they got it. Now we are maxing out their facilities and picking up a ton of help. There is an undercurrent here that I don't even thing we fully understand. An undercurrent of prayers, of a movement. of a town wanting to make a difference, of a people seeking out their community.

Before that, there were God Sized Prayers about starting the ministry that would one day become WinShape Camps for Communities. And before that who knows the God Sized Prayers that got us here today.

I've recently started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson after receiving it as a staff gift.

Batterson says "Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers." This up coming week is proof.

He goes on to say "The greatest moments in life are the miraculous moments when human impotence and divine omnipotence intersect-and they intersect when we draw a circle around the impossible situations in our lives and invite God to intervene."

We could easily see the huge hurdles in the way of the next week, but more importantly is for us to understand that where we see impossibilities, God sees miracles.

I cannot WAIT for the coming week and I would ask you to take time in your prayers to lift my team up as we embark on one of the most exciting weeks of our lives.