The Value of a Retreat – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our time at the junior high retreat.  This past weekend we took some of our high school students to the high school retreat that was facilitated by one21 Ministries.

It was a great weekend for many of the same reasons that I mentioned about the value of a retreat.  We were in a different environment listening to some different voices, enjoying some new experiences and creating some new memories.

The theme of the weekend was “my life will say something.”  The encouragement to each student (and adult) was to live in such a way that our lives tell the greater story of the Gospel.  We were reminded of the importance of hearing what God has to say about us and not listen to the voices – and lies – of those around us.

We heard a powerful testimony from a high school senior who just a year ago had her lower lip bitten off by a dog while she attempted to serve someone else.  She spoke of the importance of hearing God’s voice and what He has to say about true beauty.

Beth Guckenberger spoke on Saturday night.  She and her husband live in Mexico where they help care for orphans and operate Back2Back Ministries.  I have read one of her books, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to hear her speak. She shared the story of how she and her husband became involved in orphan care and encouraged us to use our voice to speak into those issues that stir up within us.  She used the phrase “the burr in your saddle” to describe that issue you have to do something about.  She is a gifted communicator.

One of the highlights of the weekend was simply spending time with our students.  I have been in Wilmington long enough to have known much of the group for a number of years.  I have seen many of them come up through the elementary and junior high years to become young men and women.  We laughed, enjoyed the beautiful weather and had a great time.

The weekend was a reminder of how each of us can use our voice, our life, our uniqueness and our passions to speak God’s story to those in our lives.

Pit is Short, Story is Long

I was listening to Louie Giglio’s podcast today and he was speaking about the life of Joseph.  He began by looking at the position Joseph had as Potiphar’s right hand man.  It looked like Joseph had it all – God’s favor, position, success.  But then Louie went back to the time when Joseph’s brother were so angry and jealous of him that they first wanted to kill him, but instead sold him as a slave.

While Joseph did receive God’s blessing, he also spent a lot of time in the pit.  Then Louie made this statement – the pit is short, but the story is long.

It is easy for us to look at the whole life of Joseph as we flip through the pages of scripture and see how God used him in a great way.  The pit was just a couple of pages in our Bible.  But for Joseph, that was a huge chunk of time, a big bite out of his life.

It is a great reminder to us that as deep as our pit might be, it is short and God’s story is so long.  Where we struggle is that we don’t know how deep the pit will go our how long we will be in it…and we want out ASAP…if not sooner!

When we fall into the pit – or are even put there by people close to us – we need the reminder that the story is long.  And God is the author of the story….and He is still writing our chapter.  The pit is short, but the story is long.

Promise of Glee or Glory

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Youth Ministry Summit at Cincinnati Christian University.  It was a good day of hearing from the keynote speaker, Doug Fields, and attending some workshops on practical things in youth ministry.

There were at least two highlights of the day.  The first was Doug’s chapel message in the morning.  He referenced some of the TV shows we love, primarily the mega-popular show “Glee.”  Now, I am not a fan of the show.  A lot of students love the music, but as Doug pointed out, what really keeps the viewer is the story line.  The script puts certain characters in the starring role and whatever issues they are dealing with are somewhat resolved in the 60 minutes the show airs.

Doug then made the connection that we want exactly what we see on “Glee.”  Our script places us as the star and our issues are resolved in a short period of time.  Unfortunately, we don’t write the script; God does.  What happens to some is that when the story God is writing doesn’t place us in the starring role, we walk away.  When we face difficult scenes in life, drama and conflict we weren’t expecting or the story doesn’t put the spotlight on us, we walk away from a relationship with God.

Then he made this cool statement:  God didn’t promise us Glee; He promised us Glory.  Jesus said we would face trials and difficulties, but He has overcome the world.  At the end of the story, God wins and we can share in His glory.  We just need to trust Him as the writer of the story.

It was a good reminder that we need to hear on occasion.

The second highlight was simply this – we are doing some things right!  I have a great team of volunteers in our student ministry and some of what was said at the conference is what we are trying to do.  We aren’t doing things perfectly, but I think we are on the right track in some areas.  Sometimes I have gone to conferences and come away feeling we were doing nothing right.  While we can continue to get better at what we do, it was good to hear that in certain ways, we are on target.