Sunday, March 21, 2010

BLAZE & beyond...

Dare 2 Share 2010! The name of the tour this year was Blaze, and it was awesome. My dad, Chris, Valerie, Michael, Stephanie, and myself, along with our super youth group (27 people including leaders), all went, with a little help from "The Beast" (our "15 passenger" van).

In case you don't know, a Dare 2 Share conference is a two-day weekend that is all about mobilizing teenagers to share the gospel. There are thousands of people there, youth groups from all over the Midwest. So what did we do these past two days? Worshiped with Starfield, listened to teaching and hilarious stories by guys like Greg Stier and Zane Black, watched really intense skits, and were very challenged.

What I really came away with was how possible it is to share the gospel. Yes, it is very awkward to start conversations at first, but once you swallow your initial fear and just do it, it's not that hard. It doesn't matter if you know everything, because it's Jesus who does the saving, and the Holy Spirit who prepares and plans and works. Yes, you might lose "cool points", but isn't that was losing your life for His sake is all about? Jesus was definitely not concerned about what people thought of Him when He gave His life for us.

On Saturday there were a couple specific goals they challenged us to do that very day. One was the cell phone challenge. I'll tell you about my experience with that in a minute. Another one was to find a stranger during dinner and share the gospel with them. We ended up going to a little pizza joint, and I know I wasn't the only one who scoped out the place as soon as we got in there: 2 boys at one table, 2 girls at another, and a couple workers. Not really enough for 27 people to each witness to someone. But some boys went and talked to the two boys, some girls to the girls. Then Mrs. G (that's really what we call her) and Sarah went to talk to the employees, actually one in particular whose name is Lucy. Mrs. G asked her Lucy she knew if she knew where she would go, heaven or hell, when she died. Lucy said no, she had never thought about it. They got to talking a bit more, Sarah and Chris C. joining in as well. By and by they explained the good news of Jesus to her, and asked if she wanted to accept Christ as her Savior. And she was ready! She replied, "No doubt about it!" So they prayed with her, and now we who are in Christ have a new sister who was born yesterday! Incredibly, no customers came in that needed to be served the whole time they were talking with her. Also, Sarah had a Bible with her that she could give away. God is amazing!

Now about the cell phone challenge. Everyone had to call one friend who wasn't a Christian, and start a conversation with the purpose of sharing the gospel. And you didn't get off the hook if you didn't have a phone or bring it with you... you had to borrow someone else's once they were done. I borrowed my dad's phone, but the only person I could think of was my grandpa. I was pretty sure my grandma was a believer, though we had never talked of it, but I knew my grandpa was not. Usually he avoids talking about spiritual things. But, I called my grandparents' house, and someone answered, but  I couldn't hear a thing. I figured that it was because of the murmuring stadium that I was in the middle of, so I said into the phone that I would call in a half hour, and hung up. Next on the schedule was our lunch break, so I went outside of the restaurant and tried again, but the same thing happened. I could tell that someone had picked up, but I still couldn't hear anything. So very apologetically I said I would have to try later and hung up.

So today, Sunday, after church I called first to see if they were home... land line to land line, no connection problem this time... and then I hopped in the car and drove over. Chris came along too at the last minute. We got there and before we had been there very long, my grandma asks how the conference that we went to was. Ok. This was it. I took a deep breath and plunged ahead. "It was great. Actually, that kind of why we came over today." I then went into what the drama had been about and how it had made me realize that I needed to do what I could so people I cared about - them - wouldn't go to hell. I probably used similarly run-on sentences like that too. Well, they had not been expecting an answer like that. Awkward. Then I asked if she knew where she would go if she died. (At this point Chris split and went to talk to Grandpa, who had been listening from the other room. Thank You God for letting him come with me!) Grandma's reply was, "Heaven, I hope." So I probed a bit to see the reasoning behind her answer. She said it was because she believed; she agreed it didn't have anything to do with earning her salvation. I have to believe that God didn't want me to do any further persuading, because He didn't lead me to. But we did get into a honest conversation about church and such.  Meanwhile, Chris was talking to Grandpa in the other room. At first, Grandpa was like, "I'd rather not talk about it". But then Chris was just sitting there, not talking, so Grandpa started talking to break the silence. :) They talked about why bad things happen and I don't know what else.
In the end, no conversion happened there that day. But because we went over there, God was brought to the forefront their minds yet again, and they know that their eternal destiny is important to us.

It's funny, I almost didn't go to Blaze this year. After all, I already knew that I should share the gospel, and I already know how. Loud music isn't really my thing, it's geared for public-schooled people (btw that was a bad heart attitude on my part... better now), I'm really too old for it, etc etc. But I ended up going anyway. And I'm glad I did.  Jesus saves. The harvest is already white, but the laborers are few. Here am I, Lord, send me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs... but mostly hymns.

A month or two ago, our church gave away all the hymnals to whoever wanted one. Now lest you think that our church doesn't sing hymns: that isn't true. Most weeks we sing a couple familiar ones. It kind of depends on who's on the worship team that week. And because we have the projector screen, the hymnals just aren't needed anymore. As it turns out, I had been wanting (praying for) a psalter or a hymnal for a long time (they don't exactly stock them at the library), so I was delighted to take a copy. And it's been such a blessing to me. As it turns out, it is the exact same hymnal that my other church used to use, and I knew quite a few of the songs in it.

My favorite way to use it is to just go through it and play the songs on the the violin while taking in the lyrics. Songs I knew, songs that looked familiar, songs that I'd never heard before. Good practice for my violin and my music-reading, but the songs themselves were the real treasures. Did you know there are songs about how to be holy? ("Take Time To Be Holy") There are songs on prayer, and missions, and service, and pretty much every aspect of the Christian life. Why don't we hear these songs anymore? There are songs of peace, security, and comforting. There are songs about God's majesty, and lots of songs about Jesus' incredible sacrifice. And then of course there are the Christmas songs. :) But I'll leave you with this one.
Come, all Christians, be committed
To the service of the lord;
Make your lives for him more fitted,
Tune your hearts with one accord.
Come into His courts with gladness,
Each his sacred vows renew,
Turn away from sin and sadness,
Be transformed with life anew.

Of your time and talents give ye,
They are gifts from God above;
To be used by Christians freely
To proclaim His wondrous love.
Come again to serve the Savior,
Tithes and off'rings with you bring.
In your work, with Him find favor,
And with joy His praises sing.

God's command to love each other
Is required of every one;
Showing mercy to one another
Mirrors His redemptive plan.
In compassion He has given
Of His love that is divine;
On the cross sins were forgiven;
Joy and peace are fully thine.

Come in praise and adoration,
All who in Christ's name believe;
Worship Him with consecration,
Grace and love you will receive.
For His grace give Him the glory,
For the Spirit and the Word,
And repeat the gospel story
Till mankind His name has heard.
"Come All Christians, Be Committed" Words by Eva B. Lloyd

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Aslan is on the move...

The first week of March is my favorite time of the whole year! At least weather-wise. It's that first hint of warmth after winter... the wondrous sunshine... the bright blue sky! It's when you realize you didn't have to wear your coat and gloves after all... when 40 degrees Fahrenheit actually feels great! But the air is still brisk and so deliciously fresh that you breathe deeply for the joy of it. It's the perfect weather for exercising. Maybe everything's not green yet, but that's all right. It'll come, and I'll enjoy that too. But this first week of March, that point where you realize that winter is capitulating to spring, this is glorious.