Thursday, March 22, 2012

Only the beginning...[RK12]

Wow. I really don't even know where to begin. I've been pondering for days what words would suffice to explain all that God did at Rekindle this year...and still I come up empty. I am in complete awe and amazement...completely speechless before a powerful God. Out of the four that I've been to, this Rekindle was the best yet. It's kind of funny because for a few weeks before Rekindle, as I was praying about it and looking back to previous trips...the song that always got stuck in my head was "God of this City" and it was always the line "greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city" that stayed in my memory. It is a truth that was fulfilled at Rekindle...and I believe that it still rings true...that God is not done with us yet. It's only the beginning.

For a couple of weeks before Rekindle, God was already hard at work. He healed my back through my friends laying hands on me, there were many theological discussions that forced us all to dive into scripture and start from the beginning in what we believed and knew, there were situations that were mended, and dozens of people fervently praying and fasting for our trip. It was just so encouraging to see so many obvious displays of God's hand in the weeks leading up to Rekindle. As I was praying for Rekindle a week or so before we left, God gave me a picture of people being prayed for, lives being changed, people being healed and major things happening at Rekindle. I was amazed at what I had seen and continued to pray accordingly, but in my sinful heart...I didn't trust that God could do it. Each of the previous years, I'd created this image of how I wanted God to work and if he didn't work exactly like I wanted him to, then I'd be disappointed. I knew it was wrong of me to think that way...and even going into it this year, I was wrong to trust the past of my sinful disappointment rather than the picture given to me by an all-powerful God. It's something that God was definitely working on with me this year...trusting him rather than my past or myself.

Anyway, here we go...what a wild ride.

Sunday:
The trip down there was also probably the best yet...between jokes and 'Bus Idol' and photos and falling asleep on your bus-buddy...it was great. Our bus driver, Louis was pretty awesome too. We arrived at the Laguna Beach Christian Retreat sometime around 11ish I think...got all checked in, put our stuff in our rooms and headed out to watch the "Man Run". It's an annual tradition that all the guys run into the ocean the first night and then go jump in the heated pool. While they were assembling, I snuck down to the water to stick my feet in...the water was so amazing! Anyway, we had the largest group of guys participate in the "Man Run" this year, so that was pretty hilarious...and once they got in the pool, it transpired into an immediate game of animal ball...don't ask, it's just dangerous. After a bit, everyone pretty much went to bed and crashed.

Monday:
Monday morning, we had our 'orientation' of sorts...worship and then welcoming us to Rekindle...and then the determining of the Rekindle Cup Teams. My team was led by my long-time friend and Rekindle veteran - Kurt. Through the week, in addition to competing for the Rekindle Cup, you meet with your team every day to pray and talk about messages. I had awesome team members this year too - go Team Swagg! Anyway, after that, the competition began with the Dodgeball Tournament.

God's healing hand was definitely with us throughout the week. A few people were sick with some sort of stomach bug and we even sent one of our guys to the Emergency Room Monday afternoon with seizures. Thankfully, he came back Monday night and finished out the rest of the week with no problems. It's amazing to see God responding to our prayers for healing. God is so good.

Monday night, I had the privilege of singing for worship...let me tell you - it's such an amazing experience...to look out and see people just lost in worshipping just makes my worship all the more sweet. God definitely moved through worship each and every day and Chris Flanigan did an amazing job leading us throughout the week.

Jon's first message was called "The Foundation of Discipleship". God really spoke through Jon and the gospel was shared very clearly that night. The gospel is the good news that in Jesus Christ, God has reconciled himself to sinners. Our response is to turn away from our sin and put our faith in Christ and make him all in our lives. Christ has to be all to us if we are going to be disciples. One thing that really stuck with me was when Jon said that the amazing truth of the Bible is that it could have only had 3 chapters. God could have said, "Sorry, that's it. You messed up, no good news...the end." But he didn't. He saved us when he didn't have to.

Tuesday:
For our devotions, we were asked to read Isaiah 53 and consider the depth and degree of our sin and take note of all the ways he suffered for you. Something that stuck in my head is that because this is my sin, I did this to him. I _____________ him. If you read the passage you see words like despised, rejected, wounded, crushed, chastised, oppressed, afflicted, judged and more. Filling those into that blank space was very sobering. I did those things to him, and he still chose to save me.

Tuesday morning, Joe spoke a message called "The Essence of Discipleship". He asked a simple question: What do you want most? We explored what Paul wanted most for himself and the Philippians as well as what God wants most for us. We see that even as Paul was in prison, in chains...his one desire was that Christ be honored...no matter if he lived or if he died. Why? Because to live is Christ and to die is gain. Paul views Christ literally as his life...without Christ we are dead...not just bad...dead. To die...it's gain because we go to be with Christ, the fulfillment of all we live for. Finish the sentence: "For me to live is ______". If it's anything other than Christ, then you aren't living a disciple's life. We are called to live a life worthy of the gospel...to do everything for Christ because he is all. The challenge for us is to be unashamed, unafraid, and united...courageously living like Christ is all no matter the cost.

Tuesday evening, Mickey's message "The Model of Discipleship" was really good. He talked about Christianity being a team sport and emphasized the need for community in the local church. We are called to live our lives in humble service, modeled after Christ. He made the point that Jesus came DOWN. Did you ever dream to be the least of these or hope to be the last person picked for the team or the person who cleans up after the parade? No...we want to be in a high place...but Jesus came DOWN. We are to humble ourselves in order that God will get the glory in everything we do. We are to make much of others so that they can make much of Christ.

Wednesday:
For devotions, we read Psalm 63:1-8 and focused on the psalmist's relationship with God. It was so interesting to read how many different ways this psalmist described wanting more of God: earnestly seeking, thirsting, fainting, looking, beholding, praising, blessing, being satisfied in, remembering, meditating, singing, and clinging. Just reading these descriptions made me desire more of Christ in my own life.

Joe's message "The Call of Discipleship" was about our responsibility to obey God and grow to be more like him. In light of our salvation, there is a call to live out the implications of our salvation. We are to live like Christ. He used driving a car as an analogy. Some people drive the car on cruise-control...pressing on the gas pedal of obedience until they get to a certain speed (usually determined by the people around them) and then staying there. Others drive like NASCAR drivers, taking it to the limits, completely focused and aware of turns and walls. We not only have to obey and stay focused, we have to be motivated by mission. This world is a scary place and we are lights in this dark world. The more we live like Christ, the brighter our lights will shine. The way we live our lives we show God as truth or a lie to those around us. It's an important call that we must take very seriously.

Wednesday night, we all got a chance to respond to everything we'd been hearing during ministry night after Mickey's message: "The Prize of Discipleship". Mickey talked about what really matters to us. Paul had it all...pedigree, education, etc....he gave it all up though because he knew that it wasn't important. The important thing is Christ...to encounter him and to begin a life-long quest to know him and be like him. Mickey asked us several questions so that we could examine ourselves:
  • If something important to you was standing in the way of you knowing Jesus, would you move it out of the way?
  • Have you had the initial encounter with Christ?
  • What is your current state?
  • Does your life reflect Christ as being of surpassing worth?
He also encouraged us that what defines us is not our sin or our past or our failures, it's God and his grace. We have to forget what lies behind and keep our eyes on God and knowing him.

After Mickey's message, Jon called the prayer team up and encouraged people not to move on too quickly...to take the time to examine their lives and respond as necessary. Two people came to know God as their Savior that night and I know many others were changed as well. Seeing so many people respond to this message was such a blessing...it was the fulfillment of the picture God had given to me a few weeks earlier. After I finished praying for a friend, I just went out by myself to the beach and just cried. It was such a mix of thoughts and emotions at the time...I didn't know what else to do. I was in awe of all that God did that night...and at the same time I was upset. Upset at myself for not trusting that God could do what he told me he was going to do...upset that I put more faith in my past disappointments than in a Holy God. At the same time, I was just humbled...even though I didn't really believe that he was going to do what he showed me, he still allowed me to be a part of it by putting me on the prayer team. I think that night, God was just reminding me that he is all that is says he is...and that I wasn't putting my faith in him completely. It was such a humbling night. God is so good and he is faithful to show himself to us when we ask him (even if we don't always believe that he will do what we ask) and he will do more than we can even think or imagine.

Thursday:
For devotions, we read Titus 2:11-14 and Titus 3:3-8 and Titus 3:3-8. We were asked to consider what we are now called to since we have experienced the saving grace of God in Jesus and what one area of our lives is God calling us to radical change and growth. I think for me it's definitely to be more aware of who he is in my daily life and to have faith in what he says.

Thursday morning was our last session...and I have to admit, I'm always kind of brain-dead by Thursday morning...especially after the ministry night where God just kind of leveled me. Jon's last message was called "The Disciple's Daily Task" and he talked about thinking and trusting in Christ. We have to live out the 'Christ is All' life. He used "vertical" to describe our relationship with God and "horizontal" to describe our relationship with the world. We are horizontally gifted and vertically challenged...but if we focus on Christ (think vertical) then our lives will change and we will begin to see things differently (relating to the horizontal). Whenever we feel anxious about the horizontal realities, we need to pray...God will provide all we need.

Thursday night was the Woah Show which involved eating a stick of butter, Michael Jackson, saxophones, trombones, suitcases, dancing and more! After Woah Show, we had a time of testimony...and then we tore everything down and loaded the truck up for the trip home. We left Friday morning after a group picture. Always sad to leave, but exited to come back.

All in all, best Rekindle yet. Worship was amazing. Ministry night was life-changing. Messages were great. We left Charlotte as strangers and returned as family. I can't even describe how amazing it was(everything that you just read totally does not do it justice). I can't wait for next year...but more importantly, I can't wait to go to M28 tonight. God isn't limited to working at Rekindle...he can and will work in and through us every day if we just ask him. That's what it's about...coming back home and applying it. God's definitely not done...Rekindle may be over, but God's just getting started. The best is yet to come!

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