Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I can't do it.

My take away from Youth Camp- I can't do it and that's the way it is supposed to be.

I spend/waste minutes of my life fretting about the fact that I am not witty enough, slick enough or smart enough to say just the right thing to those wonderful teenagers who came to camp with us.

I love these people.
God did some mighty things in their lives this week and I can take credit for none of it, which is just as it should be.

I spend/waste minutes of my life trying to scheme up a plan to build up our youth group, our church, my husband, my children, etc...

Then it hits me- I don't have what it takes,

Sigh, pressure is off, weight is lifted, burden is light.

Two points of good news here Christian (one who has given God the driver's seat because He deserves to be in it):

1.) Jesus through His Holy Spirit lives in me. Mark 13:11 says in times of trials "for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit".  This past week the camp pastor called us to follow the direction of scripture to "speak the truth in love".

To do that we need to have a keen sense of what was truth and what was our own opinion.

I really have to watch that. I have tons of opinions that will never change a life. I have to back that truck up and get out of the way for the truth to speak through me. God's word is the truth and I need to know it.

2.) God's got the best plans ever- EVER that EVER existed. Let Him handle it.

The camp pastor told this story. He needed a facility to train youth mentors. He placed earnest money down on a 5 acre building in Alabama. He had no rest that night. In the morning he realized why- he could totally handle paying the note and moving into this facility with out any leap of faith. He knew all God had done in the past with him involved great leaps of faith and this required none. He had no peace. The real estate agent called. The property was zoned for a church only. The agent said he would just have to become a church and the problem was solved. No way, no how. He backed out of the deal and was able to get his money back. After six more months of prayer a man approached him about another property. It was in Georgia, on the top of a mountain, included a hotel/resort and 150 acres! God had better plans. That property is were we were this past week because God gave it to Global Youth Ministries.

Trust me on this one- You don't want the 5 acres. You don't want Mr. 5 acres- when Mr. 150 acres is waiting. You don't want the 5 acre career, the 5 acre life plan, the 5 acre church, etc... You want what only God can do, what you could never do or deserve.

Don't give up, Don't lose hope, Don't lose heart.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage. Psalm 27:13-14

The faithful don't have to wait until Heaven to see Glories and Wonders. The faithful don't have to be smart enough, rich enough, strong enough or perfect to see it.

Just clean out your spiritual ears, listen for the Holy Spirit in prayer and God's word.
Obey what He tells you.
Trust what He says.
One day at a time. I know I can obey today. I know I can trust today because of His power in me.
Faithful days become faithful months and years and the gates spring open for the Wonders and Glories of God.

Monday, June 11, 2012


So, according to Wikipedia (yes, I know not exactly the source of all truth, but rather handy just the same) the idea of Vacations started in Europe based on certain harvest times.

The idea was frowned upon by the Puritans (they saw work as spiritual and to take a break from it for anything other than Sunday was to take a break from God). I can see their point but can also disagree with it.

Check out the Old Testament- God decreed several week long religious holidays where people took a break from work.
In the New Testament, Jesus often took time alone with the Father.
In almost every ancient culture Vacations were religious in nature.

I think they were on to something.
Now in our culture most of us have the luxury of taking a Vacation for whatever reason we want.
We might need time away from work,
time with our family,
time away from our family,
want to see an event,
want to see a place,

I don't have a problem with any of those reasons. I take vacation for some of those reasons.

But for the Christian, I think a Spiritual Vacation is as important or more important than any other.

I am fortunate that I can have both kinds of vacations and the truth is almost any member of a church can too.

Every year I volunteer to chaperon a group of teenagers to a Christian youth camp. Not only does mentoring young people help me to focus more on God but all the messages are relevant to me as well. Fortunately the camp we attend is also geared to provide sessions for the adult who attend.

We spend time working on how to be intentional and purposeful in our lives. Working on how to be honest in your walk with Christ, how to reach out to others, how to use the Scripture as your guide for all of this and getting hold of the idea that prayer is the life breath of Christian living.

We have time to pray and study alone.
We have time to discuss all these ideas with others.
We have time to pray with others.
We have time to do outreach work in the community.

It is a life changing time. (Okay the fact that we meet on a mountain top doesn't hurt either)

Most Churches do not require their chaperons pay the full price of attendance and sometimes you can go for free. You can help with Children's groups, youth, senior adults, etc... What ever group God turns your heart toward.
Also many Churches are in larger groups that have retreat centers. You can attend individual retreats or family retreats. These can be from weekends to whole weeks. They are usually half the cost of a traditional vacation.

side note:
I know short-term missions might come to mind in this discussion, and they can accomplish many of the same things in your heart, but I see them as a separate category. I think if you go into a short-term mission trip with the idea of looking for spiritual retreat and renewal for yourself, you may have the wrong perspective. Biblical mission trips were initiated by God through the Holy Spirit for the purposes of reaching lost souls and strengthening the Church in area one traveled to. Those who were called were God's choice for those jobs. This is always the pattern in the New Testament. Not once did those men say "Wow, I would love to see "X" place and I can really help the poor there, let's go".  Those going did not see those trips as retreats but time of intense Spiritual labor for those gifted in the work and their apprentices.

Back to Spiritual retreats and vacations:
The key to a successful Spiritual Vacation is PRAYER.
Let's face it the key to successful anything in Christian life is PRAYER.
Because a large part of prayer is acknowledging you have no power to make anything happen.
God does.

Plan a retreat or chaperon one because it seemed like a good idea and I will guarantee you disappointment.

Every time.

Ask God where and how to retreat with Him, wait for His confirmations, follow His lead and blessing will flow.

If God wants you to take a vacation with Him, He can and will provide a way.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Okay, let's give this a try.
I might be a bit rusty.

Two weeks ago we left on our first official family vacation in 3 years. What a blessed adventure.
Road trip.
Lego Land,
You were a blast.

I admit I am not much for Amusement Parks so I had my moments. Such as several declarations that I will never go to another park again if I hear one more, "I'm hot, I'm hungry, or I want to go to the hotel".

Sigh, I want to be fun time mom, with never flagging joy and positive spins but...
I am not that person, -yet.

We had many more fun moments than stressed ones.

Just us Southern Belles here.

Then we headed to Sea World.

Hello, there jumping marine mammals. It was amazing to be close to you but I have this strong urge to set you free. Darn 1990's kid movies.

We enjoyed the dolphin nursery so much.
What is cuter than a baby dolphin spitting water on you?
Nothing - trust me I googled it.

Then we headed to Cocoa Beach Florida.
Momma like.

We stayed at this retro condo called the Diplomat. It had a totally updated interior but the building it's self was like something out of Gidget.

The Beach is perfection for me. The kids and hubs play hard all day surfing, sand works, and games.
I do a little wave jumping, one sand sculpture and lots of lounging.

No Stress. None. Sigh.

Now the real challenge. Be the same person at home washing laundry as I am on the beach.

The truth is your circumstances cannot free you from stress any more than you can free yourself from anything that pins you down. No matter where you go, you will find you are still there.

Christ offers the freedom from yourself.

In our culture that seems like "crazy" talk.

Be freed from yourself? No, No you need to be MORE yourself, realize your true self, let yourself burst free.

I don't know about you, but if I am honest with myself more "Me" is the exact opposite of what I need.
"Me" loves a pity party, is rather greedy and has a really hard time thinking about others before "me-self". 

Having been in Christ for a while, I feel the most at peace and stable when I have taken myself out of the equation and let Christ direct my words, thoughts, actions and emotions.

He is the Rock. He is unconditional love, total knowledge, complete wisdom and the eternal king.

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!