Tag Archives: new life presbyterian church

“we have to go back! we didn’t take pictures of us stuffing our faces!”

so this is an update on the second week, but i didn’t actually spend it at camp tecumseh. instead, i got to be a counselor at edge 2014, which is a middle school summer camp in chattanooga, tennessee. myself, matt, and the other leaders from new life got to go with all the middle schoolers that we’ve been leading for the past year or more. plus, some of the incoming sixth graders joined us! let’s just say it was the best ever.

it was a bit of a shorter week, which meant that after i left camp t on saturday of week 1, i got a whole day to rest before shipping off with matt, jami, jessy, and the kids.  it’s a nine hour drive to chattanooga, so we had plenty of time to sing songs, play the alphabet game, sleep (the kids, not the drivers), and just generally be hyper. it was fantastic and tiring and wonderful. the frozen soundtrack was on repeat, naturally.

edge 2014 took place at covenant college, which rests atop lookout mountain. it was the first time i’d ever been on a mountain, and it was absolutely stunning. like, every evening was a painting. just really gorgeous stuff. when we woke up in the mornings, we couldn’t even see the city below, because it would be covered with a layer of clouds. sunsets and sunrises were absolutely beautiful. and there was so much color all the time. it was the best place to spend a week of camp.

we only spent monday evening through friday morning there, but each of the days was jam packed with stuff to do. on tuesday, our first full day, we had a water extravaganza. you kind of had to be there, but i’ll try to explain. there were watermelons to fight over, pyramids of death to climb (and inevitably fall from, as they were covered in tarps soaked with a copious amount of baby oil), and giant slip-and-slides to race down, all filmed by a flying camera drone (yep). totally awesome. on thursday we drove down to georgia to spend the afternoon at white water, a six flags park. most of my time was spent in the wave pool with some of the guys, playing games involving the inner tubes. most revolved around capsizing each other and claiming victory, only to be taken down a minute later. it was a fantastic day. we also took a couple of hours that week to explore chattanooga, which is a beautiful place. those times were some of my favorites, because we got to just hang out with all the kids, talking and laughing and continuing to build relationships with them, which is what we’ve been doing for the past couple years.

each evening there was a large group meeting, where we’d jam to some music, sing worship songs, and listen as the speaker for the week, jay, opened God’s word for us. he focused on the life of jacob in the old testament, and how the theme of God’s blessing can be found throughout his life. the Spirit really spoke through jay. he talked about how we often seek to earn God’s blessing, when by definition a blessing is something given as a gift. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate blessing we have been given. there’s nothing we can do to earn it. a beautiful truth (the gospel truth, in fact), and one that i need to be reminded of daily.

one of the things i most appreciated was that the staff of edge 2014 really took the spiritual well-being of the counselors seriously. every morning before breakfast they had set aside time for us to spend in the word by ourselves, and every evening before the main session there was a leaders’ meeting, where the camp director gave a short message from the word to encourage and fill us. i always came away feeling blessed.

so camp was awesome. there are certainly more things i could say, but i’ll conclude it with this: i am so blown away that the Lord has blessed me and the other leaders with the opportunity to lead and learn with the youth at new life. there are hardly words to describe how blessed i feel to know them, to lead them, and to learn from them. God is so, so good. i am so thankful to have spent a week with everyone, and i’m psyched to be back in muncie after the summer finishes up!

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

“psych! i’m actually mafia and i just gatling-gunned all of you.”

just got back from new life’s middle school retreat, and it was the best ever.

matt and i lead the guys’ middle school study on wednesdays, so most of the boys who came were ones that i’ve been getting to know over the course of the year, but there were a couple that i only get to see once in a while, so it was really great to catch up with them. plus there was a new guy who decided to join after only visiting new life last sunday! it was so cool; he was the perfect addition to our group and all the guys really liked him. we had a total blast together.

we did a ton of stuff. lots of games and times of hanging out. we played a lot of body body, which is a live-action version of mafia. have you ever been sneaking around in a pitch-black, slightly unfamiliar house, hoping that no one slips silently behind you and whispers “you’re dead”? it’s creepy. and lots of fun. it was a blast.

saturday we went outside to play in the snow.

DSC00012

DSC00014      DSC00016

DSC00010

it was rather cold. we were actually out on a frozen lake (it was safe… there had been a hockey team practicing on it the other day) and some of the guys found some cattails that were on the edge of the frozen shore. naturally, they soon figured out how to make them the most obnoxious weapon ever invented.

DSC00015

DSC00018      DSC00017

we also spent a ton of time playing polish pool, a classic from last year’s retreat. we had a tournament and sydney, a newcomer to the game, swept it (to the chagrin of all the boys, who grudgingly presented her with the championship trophy). Whenever there was a free minute, it was a guarantee that you’d hear the guys downstairs, hooting and hollering around the pool table.

DSC00066

DSC00070      DSC00035

DSC00027

adam’s parents, the fantastic jaque and steve, hosted us. jaque’s reputation as a fabulous cook may or may not have convinced some of the kids to come. meals were my favorite because everyone eats together and laughs and tells stories and just gets to know each other. it was also the place where we heard the most “thank you!”s. but no surprises there. one of the boys snagged my camera to take an instagram of sorts.

DSC00037

DSC00028      DSC00043

DSC00038

a stuff-your-face-for-the-camera picture is standard for pretty much all youth events, i’ve learned. no shame.

stark, the youth group baby, made a couple of appearances as well. he’s everyone’s favorite. this guy is, no joke, probably the cutest baby i’ve ever met. he is always smiling and laughing, he’s adorable, and he recoils after kissing my beard as if he just licked a lemon.

DSC00048      DSC00047

DSC00040

DSC00042      DSC00049

like the high school retreat, our theme verse for this weekend was ephesians 4:1, in which paul encourages the people of ephesus to “live in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”. we talked about how our first calling is to believe the gospel, and how when we are rooted in the love of God, it should affect how we interact with other believers and non-believers. we had some great discussion and it was, as usual, really encouraging.

this group of kids is just awesome. it’s been such a privilege to be able to work with them the entire year.

DSC00050

DSC00053

it’s hard to describe just how cool it is to see how the guys i help lead are growing in their faith. i’ve seen the changes in their lives, the way they take their faith seriously, the way some of them are recognizing sin in their lives and seeking to pursue God more closely. it’s encouraging and convicting and inspiring and fills me with awe for how God interacts so intimately with each and every one of His children.

DSC00061      DSC00060

DSC00057

DSC00062

the more time the Lord allows me to spend walking with kids as they pursue Him and grow in understanding of what that means and what it looks like, the more He affirms that this is something it seems i will be doing long-term. i don’t presume to know what God’s will is, but i hope i will always have the chance to lead and learn with kids about God’s grace and how His gospel will never not be essential to every moment of every day.

Tagged , , , , , ,

thoughts on the Lord’s name.

so at new life i’m taking a sunday school class on the Lord’s prayer, taken from the gospel of matthew. the first few weeks were spent on prayer in general; what it is, the implications of prayer, types of prayer, ways of praying that are sinful… lots of different aspects of it.

by the grace of God, it has never felt awkward or weird to talk to Him. for me, praying has never felt like a chore (unlike, for example, the way i often struggle with being in the word). it’s simply how i communicate with God. and it’s been such a blessing to think more deeply on the significance of that, on what it means when i’m actually praying to the Creator of the universe. each week i come away loving God more and with a deeper appreciation and gratitude for the gift of prayer.

recently, we began to go through the Lord’s prayer itself, taking a week or two on each petition (which is a request/piece/line of the prayer, basically). the last two weeks were spent on the first: hallowed be Your name. and i learned a lot. a whole lot. as usual, it gave me lots to think about.

what’s in a name? is it just a label, a word we use in order to distinguish to whom we speak? some may say so. but most of us recognize that there is something inherently significant found in a name. names are part of our identity. they are part of who we are. names are linked with memories and feelings and thoughts and ideas. i was talking with one of my housemates, tom (read some of his stuff here), about how hearing the sound of our names is a beautiful thing; it catches our attention, and when spoken by someone we love, it is a way to feel that love.

we can see in the Bible the significance of names, especially when they are changed. abraham and israel come to mind, both given a new name in order to signify something profound (God’s promise and God’s people, specifically). God has many names. i’ll touch on that in just a second. but perhaps the best way He himself sums up His name is when he speaks to moses through the burning bush in exodus 3:14. moses asks Him what he shall tell the israelites when they ask him who sent him, and this is God’s response:

I am who I am. this is what you are to say to the israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

that doesn’t sound like a name. that’s a verb. that’s a state of being. God recognizes that human language isn’t enough to encompass everything He is. that’s one of the reasons He has so many names; each reveals a facet of His identity (on a side note that could be its own post, each of God’s names also reveals a facet of our relationship to Him; when we call Him King, we are calling ourselves His subjects; when we call Him Lord, we are acknowledging His lordship over us; when we call Him Father, we are calling ourselves His children). so when we talk about the name of God, we’re not just talking about a label. we’re talking about everything that God is.

so what does it actually mean when we are praying that the Lord’s name be hallowed? that’s not a word we use in everyday language. in fact, i think i’ve only ever heard it in the context of the Lord’s prayer. since it’s the first petition of the prayer, it’s easy (for me) to brush over it as part of “the intro”, instead of considering the weight of those words.

to “hallow” means to make or acknowledge as holy. in essence, we are praying that the name of God would be glorified and magnified. in our case, though, we have nothing to do with making God’s name holy; He is fully and completely holy already. when we say to God “hallowed be Your name”, we are doing two things: acknowledging His holiness (including the holiness in His very name) and expressing a desire for all people to do the same. that’s what it means to magnify the name of God. when you hold a magnifying glass up to something, you aren’t making it more real… you’re simply making it easier to see. so it is when we magnify the name of God. His holiness is able to be seen through us when we glorify Him… when we hallow His name.

but why do this? why does it matter?

well, first of all, it’s what we were created for. we were created to bring God glory (isaiah 43:7) and we are called to do everything in the name of His Son, Jesus (colossians 3:17). secondly, we can’t do it on our own. we need God’s help to live in a way that hallows His name. when we pray this way, we aren’t just asking that His name be hallowed in our words, but in our whole lives. that’s our purpose. there’s so much to unpack there, but this post is long enough as it is, and people far more eloquent have already shed some beautiful light on the subject.

i’ll close out with two implications. 

first, a deeper understanding of the Lord’s name naturally draws us back to the fourth commandment. we as christians are commanded never to take God’s name in vain. but the fact is, we do not live in a reverent world. existing in the midst of a culture who doesn’t truly understand or care about reverence, much less revering the name of the Lord, doesn’t make things easy. i don’t think i’m over-exaggerating when i say that it would be unusual to watch one episode of television without hearing the Lord’s name being taken in vain at least once or twice.

perhaps, though, those are the obvious ways. i personally haven’t made a habit of texting “OMG” (or saying it out loud… good grief) to my friends, but i am 100% guilty of using the name of the Creator in a throw-away fashion… when i pray. yep. that doesn’t make sense. but looking back, i see countless times that “Jesus” or “Lord God” was used as nothing but filler. in essence, i replaced “yeah” or “uh” with the name of God, as something i mindlessly say while i wait for the important words to come to mind.

yikes. that is the opposite of magnifying His name. i am much more aware of what i say now when i pray. additionally, while i didn’t have much of a stance on it before, i’ve decided to stop using the word “holy” as an adjective of anything except God (there are many times in past posts that i’ve used the phrase “holy crap” for the purpose of emphasis). i don’t feel comfortable pairing a word that can only apply to God with anything else.

finally, understanding the Lord’s name and it’s role in our prayer points us back to the gospel. we see in the old testament examples of people who were struck down because they did not approach God in a worthy manner (this connects, i promise). invoking the name of God is no light matter. when we pray, we are speaking with the One who breathes out stars. the One who knows each of us intimately because He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He is holy, set apart, weighty.

but we have no reason to worry or fear coming into the presence of God in an unworthy manner. why? because we are in Christ, which means we have been reconciled (romans 5:9-11)! we have complete access to God, because of the work Jesus did on the cross. that means we can come to Him at anytime with anything, for any reason, no matter where we are! that is such beautiful news!

we will never fully understand or appreciate that profound beauty, though, unless we have an accurate picture of the holiness of God; the holiness found in His very name.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,