TAWG After Camp: You are Loved

It’s now been over a week since we were all at camp together. School is about to start back up again for many of us. Others have work. Our old routines are beginning to settle back in, and what we learned at camp may be feeling a bit foggy by now.

So much can change even in a week. You know what doesn’t change? God loves you, and He is with you.

He wants to see you succeed.

He wants to help you grow.

He never gives up on you.

He is walking with you through every situation, no matter how difficult.

 

Have you ever felt abandoned or alone? Have you ever felt like someone who is very close to you had pulled away from or forgotten you? Even our most cherished human relationships can include pain and difficulty. But let’s look at Isaiah 49:15-16 and consider how our relationship with God goes even deeper.

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

There is no other human relationship quite like that of a mother and a child. Yet even that relationship does not compare to the love and tenderness of God. Look at the verses again. God tells us that He will never forget us. Never, no matter what we do.

Take comfort in that today. As you seek to move forward and continue in the things you learned at camp, be aware that you might slip up. But God still loves you. As you go back to school, friendships and circumstances may change. But God hasn’t forgotten you. As you live with and love your family, there may be bumps along the road. But God is always with you.

You are loved. You are cherished. You matter. God has not forgotten you, and he never will.

Want More?

  • Romans 8:38-39
  • Psalm 27:9-14
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
  • Psalm 34:8
  • Psalm 31:19

Revolution Series: Peter

Read through these verses to get a brief snapshot of the character of Peter:

  • Matthew 4:18-22,
  • Matthew 8:14-17
  • Matthew 14:22-33
  • Matthew 16:13-23
  • John 18:10-11
  • Matthew 26:31-35,69-75

Peter didn’t ask a lot of questions. He just acted.  Things didn’t always go as he imagined.  In fact, sometimes the results of his actions were extreme.  But Peter did not allow his failures to stop him from pursuing Christ.  Even when he was utterly foolish or acted totally against the will of Christ, he eventually was able to recover.  Peter was a dedicated follower of Christ from the very beginning.  Jesus says, “Follow me”. Peter drops his net and follows. Jesus says, “Come to me”. Peter steps out of the boat and starts walking on the water. Jesus asks. Peter answers (many times being wrong).  Jesus gives his life for those that he loves. Peter continues to follow despite the risk and persecution that will come.

This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  This is what it means to have faith.  Peter didn’t always get it right but he never gave up trying.  And even in his weakest, most vulnerable moments, the grace of God flowed through him and brought him back to the presence of God.  Read John 21:15-17 to see how Jesus responds after Peter denied him 3 times.  “Feed my sheep”. Jesus stills wants Peter do his will despite failing time and time again.  There is so much we can learn from Peter.

How much faith do we have? Are you willing to step out of the boat to follow Christ? Where do you put your trust? In God? In man? In money? In the world? Do your words match your actions? Do live the life of a Christ follower or are you merely an admirer of Christ? Soren Kierkegaard explains that there is a great difference between following verses admiring. “A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires.”

Let us not be merely admirers of Christ. Let drop our nets and follow.  We are bound to make mistakes and come up short but that doesn’t mean that we give up.  It is important to also surround ourselves with an uplifting community of peers and mentors in order to keep on track during the most difficult of times and the most joyous.

Consider this quote from Madeleine L’Engle:

“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do His work, to bear His glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.”

None of us may be qualified, but God chooses to use us.  He loves us and pursues us daily.  Step out in faith. And follow.

This week spend time reflecting on the life of Peter and what it means to follow Christ Jesus.  Read through 1 and 2 Peter.  Examine how Peter continued faithfully in his call to follow.  And the cost of following.  Allow God to speak this week.  Be still and listen.

Revolution Series: The Thief on the Cross

Is it ever too late to change? Is there ever a point where you are too far for God to work a revolution in your life? We’ve all sinned. We’ve all done things that are wrong. But nothing – no combination or level of wrongs – is too much for God to change. Read today’s section and see for yourself.

Read Luke 23:39-43

Two men hung on crosses beside Jesus when he was crucified. One cursed him and sarcastically asked Jesus to save them all. But the other realized who Jesus was. In that moment, just seconds away from death, this man recognized Jesus as the King of Kings. With no sarcasm in his voice, he asked Jesus a simple request.

“Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”

No matter what you’ve done, Jesus loves you. He wants to know you and He wants to have a relationship with you. To begin that relationship, all it takes is the same simple step that the thief on the cross took.

Acknowledge Him. Recognize Jesus for who He is – the Son of God.

But that is only the beginning. The thief on the cross was not able to experience the joy of life with Christ until his final moments. But we have the opportunity to experience that joy each day.

God wants a relationship with us. Think about how amazing that is! No matter what we’ve done, He wants to walk with us. Consider that today as you go about your life.

Acknowledge God, and start walking with Him in a revolution of love today.

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Revolution Series – Josiah

Just because you are young does not mean you can’t make an impact. A boy named Josiah became king when he was only eight years old, and he led Judah through an extremely important change.

Read 2 Kings 22 and 2 Kings 23:21-25

Josiah was only eight years old. EIGHT YEARS OLD! During his time as king, the Book of the Law was found. This was the Word of God to Judah. When they read it, they realized that they had not been following God’s Law for years.

Have you ever done something and realized later that it was wrong? How did you react?

Josiah leads Judah through a revolution of coming back to the Law of God. His heart was so tender that he tore his robes when he heard about how the previous leaders had forsaken God’s commandments.

Ask God if there are areas in your own life where you need to turn back to Him.

You’ll notice also that God does not withhold judgment upon Judah even though Josiah leads them through this revolution. There are still consequences for the earlier sins. But it was because of Josiah that Judah turned back to God. His impact was great, and it was because he had a relationship with God at a young age.

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Revolution Series: The Woman at the Well

Read John 4:1-42

As you read, pay attention to the different people in this story and how they change. What stands out to you? What is odd or unusual about this story?  How does Jesus present a revolution to this woman? To his disciples?

There is a lot to learn from this passage.  We see Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman, which would be very strange at that time. Jesus’ disciples noticed this odd behavior.  We learn about the living water of Christ Jesus.  We observe a changed woman who can’t help but tell others about what has happened to her.  The others heard her and they, too, were changed. What an incredible story!

Take time to reflect on these main points from the passage.  We can learn a lot from both Jesus and the woman in this story.  Think about how significant it is that the woman is changed, shares this news with others, and then they change as well.  Isn’t this Christ’s call for our lives? “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  How are we presenting the love of Christ to others?  How excited are we about this Living Water that Christ offers?  How much faith do we have in Jesus?

Let these words become truth.  Let them motivate you into action.  Love unconditionally. Listen without distraction. Be welcoming to all because you never know what may come from even the simplest interaction.  Be a light.  Be honest and true to others.  Allow Christ to work in you and through you.

Take a little more time to think though the significance of this story and what it means to you today.  How will this story change you?

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Revolution Series: The Transfiguration

Read Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36

Transfiguration: a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

This is the moment in the Bible when Jesus reveals that he is who he claims to be.  This is the moment when Jesus demonstrates to 3 of his beloved disciples his divine glory.  His physical body transformed, and he became as bright as the sun.  Moses and Elijah appear with him.  Jesus is fulfilling both the law and the prophecies in this moment, proving that he is the divine Son of God.  The Kingdom of God is near.

Today take time to reflect on this beautiful picture.  What does it mean to you? In this moment Jesus goes beyond claims and shows that he divine.  His real self emerges.  What lives within you?  If you were to change into what lives within you what would you become? Do you need to change?  Where does a revolution need to occur in your life?  

This process of transformation can be painful for us, but it is necessary.  In order to be set free and to learn who we are in Christ we must let go of things we have a tight grasp on.  We cannot merely silence these things but we must remove them completely from our lives.  C.S. Lewis presents this process beautifully in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as Eustace describes his transfiguration from dragon back into a boy.  

“Then the lion (Aslan) said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

This is the kind of transfiguration we must all go through as broken, hurting human beings.  We are not divine but we have a God who loves us unconditionally.  He is calling and has a seat set for you at the table.  Step forward and allow the love of Christ to tear away the lies and shame.  Allow a revolution to occur deep down within you so that you can better pursue Christ Jesus.  Take time to be still and listen today.  Allow the Spirit of God to fill you and renew your mind.

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Rule of Life Series: Serving with Compassion

1 John 4:19-21

1 Peter 4:10-11

Matthew 20:26-28

Galatians 5:13-14

John 13:1-20

Matthew 25:31-46

Romans 12:9-13

Luke 10:25-37

Serving others is a major part of following Christ.  If you study and analyze the life of Christ you will begin to recognize that he served others with his life.  Christ demonstrated and spoke about the importance of serving others with compassion.  It should be obvious that those who say they are following Christ should also be serving others.  They must not just be serving them, but serving them with a type of love that desires nothing in return. This type of love is not about what will happen to me, but what will happen to others.  It is a love that focuses not on our glory, but God’s alone.

This week take some time to read through each of these passages and spend time reflecting on each one.  Spend time praying each day asking him how you can better serve those around you.  Listen and obey.  Serving other with compassion, with a love that has no conditions, can be extremely challenging.  It is hard not to want something in return, even if that something is as small as a good work, or thank you.  This type of service is about expecting nothing except for God to be glorified.  Be still and know that he is God of all.

Rest in God’s presence this week and allow the Spirit to restore you.  As we bring this series to a close think about all of the commitments and changes you have decided to make in your life.  How are you doing?  What is changing?  What still needs to change?  Allow God to move.  Be present, accepting grace, and be transformed.