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 – 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 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.

Rule of Life Series: Study

Proverbs 9:9-10

I know, I know – you see the word study and instantly your eyes dart away. I remember being in high school. It wasn’t THAT long ago for me. I didn’t always want to study, either. But today we’re talking about how the discipline of studying can help us in our relationship with God. And it is just that – a discipline. It’s not always easy, but it is vitally important.

If you’re anything like me, one of the reasons you don’t particularly enjoy studying for school is because everyone tells you that you have to. Your teachers, your parents, even sometimes your classmates.

God doesn’t do that. He doesn’t tell us that we have to study. That’s right, we could freely choose not to. But God does tell us what happens if we choose to study His Word. In our passage for today, He says that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

God lets us know what will happen if we choose to submit ourselves to Him and learn from His Word. As Christians, it’s that closeness of relationship that we should crave. We should WANT to know more about God and grow closer to Him.

Now, I’ll be honest, have I always wanted to read my Bible when I wake up in the morning? No, sometimes it just seems so early and my eyes are feeling groggy. But I’ve made it a habit. Now, one of the first things I do every morning is read my Bible and talk to God. I crave it. I need it. But you have to start somewhere.

If studying God’s Word is difficult for you, here’s an idea. Try reading through the book of Proverbs. There are 31 chapters, so it fits easily into any month. Whatever day you start on, just go find that same numbered chapter in Proverbs and start there. Then read one chapter every day. That’s it. It’s a great way to get started with daily Bible reading if you’ve never done it before or you’ve taken a long break.

Remember, God doesn’t give us homework. He just wants to know us and He wants us to know Him. For that relationship to thrive, we have to make consistent Bible study a part of our regular routine.

 

Want More?

Psalm 119:15-16

Hebrews 4:12

Joshua 1:8

Proverbs 4:10-13

Acts 17:11

Rule of Life Series: Silence

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” 

-Mother Teresa

There is a lot that could be said about silence but it seems that it would make sense for us just to experience it, and learn from it.  Silence is hard to come by with so many distractions pulsating through our minds, but it is necessary.  It should be a daily practice because it causes us to become vulnerable.  It is precisely because of this that silence is so hard to practice, but it is also what makes it so powerful.

Find time for silence today, and every day this week.  One day this week set aside a large portion of time that you will dedicate to silence.  No phone. No music. No distractions.  Just you and God.  Let your mind rest in his presence and listen.

“Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13

Pray through Psalm 121 to guide you into a time of silence.

Psalm 121

I lift my eyes to the hills

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is you keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you form all evil;

He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forevermore.