It's difficult to put into words what we saw God do this week. We led worship for the RFBC Student Camp at Camp Awanita in Marietta, SC. I've never seen the Holy Spirit move and work in a group of high school students like I witnessed this week. Church kids were getting saved. Kids with no church background were getting saved. Kids were getting right with each other. Kids were getting a passion for their lost friends back home. The Lord was moving so mightily that on the final night of camp, the worship had to be extended for several hours as kids were getting saved and weeping over lost friends.
I've seen God do some pretty insane things over the years, especially on overseas mission trips, but this week I saw something I've never seen before. As we were kicking off the last worship set, one girl on the front row couldn't take it anymore. Totally unprovoked and unsolicited, she literally ran out of the room. I thought maybe she was about to pee in her pants or something. I wasn't sure. It wasn't until later that I found out what had happened. Weeping under conviction, she found Jay Richards, her youth pastor and prayed to receive Christ.
One of the coolest things during the week was to see how God used particular worship songs to connect with students in unique ways. I had this conversation with a friend the other day about worship songs that God seems to use more mightily than others. We both wondered whether a song can be "anointed." I'm not sure, but I do know that there are, no doubt, songs that the Holy Spirit greatly uses to grip people's hearts. Two generations ago, God used "Just As I Am" in Billy Graham crusades all across the world to penetrate the gospel into hearts and elicit a call to repentance. There's no doubt that that song had a huge part to play in Graham's ministry.
Now, I wonder if "Sweetly Broken" could possibly be one of those songs that God is using today in a unique way. I don't mean to sound mystical, but there's definitely something about this song written by Jeremy Riddle, a worship leader from California, that God is using and blessing. As we sang it this week at camp, the Holy Spirit seemed to make the words come alive in our hearts. We were broken over our sin. We were weeping over the thought of Christ crucified in our place. We were all amazed and stunned in His presence.
You can check out Sweetly Broken in the post below.
Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for the Lord to unleash His presence at Camp Awanita this week. He certainly did.
Thanks to Jay Richards and all you guys at RFBC for letting us join you this week. We love you guys.
Friday, July 27, 2007
To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing
For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just
At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified
You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled
In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Yesterday was one of those days that will be hard for me to forget. I took our family to visit the new Billy Graham Library here in Charlotte. Not to sound mystical, but it was a spiritual experience. I have more respect for Billy Graham than I've ever had before. Some might simply call it a museum about one man. But it was more than that. It was a testimony of the faithfulness of God in one man's life - a spiritual giant who was so careful to give all the glory back to Jesus Christ. It was a monument to the Gospel, not to a man. If you're in Charlotte this summer, go see it! It's well worth it.
The Progression of a Strong Witness for Christ
"I am only one in a chain of men and women God has raised up through the centuries to build Christ's Church and to take the Gospel everywhere." - B.G.
1. Sunday School Teacher named Edward Kimball won a shoe clerk to Jesus - D.L. Moody
2. D.L. Moody traveled to England and awakened the heart of a young pastor: F.B. Meyer
3. F.B. Meyer became one of the great Bible expositors, came to USA and preached on college campuses and was used to lead a student to Christ - Wilbur Chapman
4. Wilbur Chapman attended one of Moody's meetings in Chicago and became Moody's co-worker.
5. Chapman employed an ex-baseball player as his assistant, his name, Billy Sunday
6. Billy Sunday became a great evangelist and preached in Charlotte, NC, organized the Billy Sunday Layman's Evangelistic Club (renamed Christian Business Men's Committee CBMC)
7. CBMC invited an evangelist to Charlotte, his name Mordecai Ham
8. Mordecai Ham preached in the tent meeting where Billy Graham was saved
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Usually my mind is pretty fried on Mondays after a full day of ministry on Sundays. Today was no different. But now, at 12:30 am Tuesday morning after just viewing the final installment of the Rocky movies legacy, I'm pumped up from watching a 60 year old man make his comeback. Now I'm ready to go "toe to toe" with this blog thingy.
Our playlists from Sunday:
Southbrook Church (AM)
1. Tell the World (Hillsong United)
2. He is Exalted (Shane and Shane version)
3. Closer (Charlie Hall)
Ridge Church (PM)
1. Tell the World (HU)
2. All Because of Jesus (Steve Fee)
3. Sweetly Broken (Jeremy Riddle)
4. You Never Let Go (Matt Redman)
5. Jesus Paid It All (Christian Stanfill version)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Whether you are involved in Christian ministry like me, or you are working a secular job (also like me) but accomplishing great things for God, here’s a caution I received today from good ole Ozzy (not Osborne) that applies to us all. The caution is toward the tendency to emphasize Christian work over Jesus – the tendency to focus on the work of the ministry more than on Christ Himself.
Let it be said first off that, yes, He left us here on this earth to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God. We shouldn't debate that point. However, our focus on Christian work should never take precedence over our knowledge of Christ. We must never be more intimately acquainted with our work than we are with Christ. I know it happens because I personally deal with this. I constantly have to shift my focus away from Christian work and back on Christ. And I’ve seen it happen time and again with friends in ministry.
Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”
Paul, the man who accomplished more work for God than any other who has followed him said that. He said his goal was to know Him. His goal wasn’t to do great things for God, though that followed. His goal was knowing Him. It was only after knowing God and then continuing in his knowledge of God that Paul was able to then focus on the work of God. I get it backwards sometimes. I put the cart before the horse.
To illustrate: On several occasions when we’ve traveled I’ve lead worship in settings where I had no idea who my audience was. I had no prior connection with these people. I was given no instruction ahead of time from the pastor or man in charge about what to expect from the congregation. On most occasions I can honestly say that it failed miserably. I put the cart before the horse. I tried to lead a congregation into the presence of God without knowing who they were, what things they were dealing with, or where they were in their standing with God. In many cases, I regret to say that I cared less about my audience than I did about doing my job. My focus of the task preceded my knowledge of and care for my audience.
In a spiritual sense, God is my audience. And every time that I begin to focus on what I do for Him rather than simply on Him, the act always goes bad. And so God patiently reminds me over and over again that He is to be the object of my devotion, the goal of my knowing, the end of my striving - not the stuff I do for Him.
Thanks Ozzy for the reminder.
“In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint; his aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in.” —My Utmost For His Highest
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I have a problem of saying dumb things to people. One of the dumbest things I’ve said is one that I often catch myself repeating, falling headfirst into my own conversation trap over and over again. Maybe it’s happened to you. I’ll be small talking with a friend or acquaintance when his or her parents happen by. What happens next is a textbook foot-in-mouth scenario. With total sincerity and goodwill, I’ll say something like, “Hey, is this your grandparents?” And my conversation buddy will consequently respond, “No (idiot), these are my PARENTS!” Backstepping, I’ll usually follow that up with another dumb statement about the aging process and the depletion of the ozone layer, or sometimes I’ll wise-up and just shut my mouth.
Because this happens to me so often, I can’t help but wonder how often it must have happened to Isaac in the Old Testament. I can just imagine Isaac with his buddies playing bocce ball on the desert sand when ole Abe walks up, 100 years his elder. One of his buddies asks, “Hey Isaac, is this your great granddad?!” “No, actually, this is my DAD! Thanks!” No milk and honey for you, pal.
It’s hard to imagine how Abraham must have felt to find out from God that he was to have a son so late in life. And not just any son, but a son who would begin the lineage of a great nation from whom Jesus Christ would eventually come. We know from the Genesis account that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed hysterically when she heard the news (Gen. 18:12). But Abraham had a different response. Romans 4:20-21 says:
He (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Abraham had the perfect opportunity to doubt God’s promise. At 99 years of age, this was prime time for Abraham to spit in God’s face and say, “Guess what God, You forgot me! You failed to keep your promise! Congratulations! You strung me along for 99 years believing a stupid fairy tale. Funny joke, God!”
That’s probably how you or I would have acted, but not Abraham. Romans 4:21 says that he was “fully convinced that what (God) had promised He was also able to perform.” The word “fully convinced” is the same word that Luke uses to open up his gospel, proving that what he was writing was “confirmed with the fullest evidence” (Spiros Zodhiates, Key Word Study Bible). Paul means very much the same thing, that Abraham was so convinced of God’s ability to keep His promises that it was as sure as a scientific formula. Paul even goes further by using a nautical metaphor, a metaphor for ships that would come in the harbor sailing full sail. Confident captains propelled these vessels full sail despite storms and high seas because they were fully convinced that they would make it safely to the harbor (Matthew Henry Commentary).
I just talked to a man yesterday who has been going through 15 years of storms and high seas – some, no fault of his, others brought on by his own choices. As a young man, he was convinced that the Lord had a great plan for his life, though as the years went on he tried to run from Him. Now, after 15 years of struggling, he has a renewed “fully convinced-ness.” He believes again that the Lord is not through with him, and so do I.
My wife’s life verse is Philippians 1:6 that says, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I am fully convinced of this. I’ve seen it play out in my own life. I’ve seen it play out in the lives of others. But more than that, I just believe that God is true to His word when He makes a promise.
No matter where you’re at in life, no matter what you may or may not be fully convinced of, His promise is sure. Whatever end of the spectrum of “fully convinced” you are on - whether you’re a Sarah, laughing hysterically at the promises of God, or an Abraham, standing undeterred on the promises of God – His promises stay the same and they are sure. Because “it is not the promise that fails, but our faith that fails when we stagger” (M.H.C.).
“Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail
By the living Word of God I shall prevail
Standing on the promises of God”
- Russell Kelso Carter, Standing on the Promises
“My soul secure,
Your promise sure,
Your love endures, always.”
– Marty Sampson, For Who You Are, Hillsong Music Australia, 2006.
Monday, July 02, 2007
This is Daddy ingenuity at it's finest. The creativity was flowing. Tasha was gone. It was lunch time. Of course, Zeke's high chair was nowhere to be found!! So I improvised.
I stuck the little gobbler in his rocker chair, wedging the boppy under the back end to prevent it's normal rocking function (the rocking action combined with food, not a good idea). Then I wedged the legs of Rainy's step stool perfectly over the chair, the lowest step acting as a table top.
The back legs were the only problem. Hanging in mid-air would never do. So, I grabbed a bar stool, and set the hanging back legs of the step stool on the lowest rung of the bar stool. El Perfecto!
I needed proof of said ingenuity, and here it is. This goes out to all the Dads who have ever allowed their creative juices to flow just to make it through a meal without mom. God bless you all.