Monday, June 29, 2009

Centrifuge Day 5

Ok, I know it's been a while and I'm just now getting back to wrapping up how things went at Centrifuge.  I didn't realize the exhaustion I was feeling at the end of the week was the beginning of probably the worse sickness I've ever experienced, but that's not what I want to write about.  I want to write about the last night sermon of Centrifuge delivered by Tony Merida.  He preached out of 2 Corinthians 4:7 about "How God uses clay pots" and "How to be a clay pot".  He gave us 4 points to ponder using surrounding verses on how to be used by God.
-Be Desperate for the Spirit (3:1-5:5)
-Be Passionate About Christ and People (5:6-16)
-Believe in the Power of the Gospel (5:17-21)
-Be Ready to Suffer for the Gospel (5:20; 6:1-10)

I wish I had more exhaustive notes b/c this does not even begin to share what spoken this night.  But again it was a very powerful message of things we are to do to truly be in the will of God.  Especially the last part stating that we must be ready to suffer for the gospel.  One of the things that Tony reiterated over the course of the week is that being a Christian is more than just going to church, it's actually doing something.  Just as Pastor Wayne and my good friend Greg Mull have both stated recently..."If nothing changes, then nothing changes!"  I challenge you to allow God to truly change you beyond what we think being a Christian really is.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Centrifuge Day 4- Part 2

I'm going to take a quick moment to talk about Tony's message from last night.  The title of the sermon was "Adoption: From Slaves to Sons".  Tony and his wife Kimberly recently adopted...from the Ukraine....4 children!  It was great for him to share his story about what God started doing in their lives 2 years ago and the journey that led them to bringing these 4 children home to America just 5 weeks ago.  It was neat to hear it from him personally b/c I had read about it some on his blog and Belinda was keeping up with every step on both his blog and his wife's blog.  Be sure to check them out:  Tony's Blog- , Kimberly's Blog-  Tony compared his story of adoption with how we are each adopted into God's family, going from slaves to sons of God.  The passage used was Galatians 4:4-8.  Tony outlined 9 truths about our adoption by God.
-Adoption is from bad situations
-Adoption is seriously planned
-Adoption requires the right qualifications
-Adoption is costly
-Adoption involves a change in legal status
-Adoption involves a spirit of sonship
-Adoption transforms the child
-Adoption gives the child the right to the heir
-Adoption is about mission

Now I want you to encourage you to go back and read this again along with the scripture b/c the first glance you probably think about the type of adoption like where Tony adopted his children.  Please think about how God adopted YOU into his family.  How exciting is that!

I honestly believe I could listen to Tony talk for hours.  I don't say this to make it sound like I idolize him, but I love listening to him b/c its obvious that he allows God to speak through him.  It's been incredible be a part of such worship and I can't wait to hear what God says to us tonight!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Centrifuge Day 4

It's day 4 and all is well here at Ridgecrest.  The sun decided to grace us with its presence again and they are calling for 90 degree temperatures tomorrow.  Definitely having to drink plenty of water.  Each day we rotate which part of the building we sit in based on our lanyard color and today was our turn to sit in the front section so we planned it out and for the AM Show our church group grabbed the 3 front rows.  Quite nice being up there!

Recreation and Bible study times were back to normal today.  Our Bible study today consisted of Moses parting the Red Sea.  This is one miracle in the Bible that I'm always fascinated by and would love to see it.  I've even joked w/ the students in the past about how it would be cool to watch the actual occurrence on IMAX, but I digress.  The theme for today's Bible study is stepping into the unknown.  The unknown is a scary place for us because we like to be in control of our situations.  But when we truly yield to God's calling then we are forced to step into the unknown, but we must never fear because as always God is on our side!

Here are a few pics from the day.  Tomorrow I will finish talking about Tony's sermon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Centrifuge Day 3

As I type this at midnight I honestly can't remember if this was day 3 or not.  At this point it "all runs together" as Austin Wilson put it and so I'm not definite anymore what day it is or what day of the week it is but I vaguely remember Belinda telling me she was going to church and I think that was tonight so I'm going to guess it's Wednesday.  Don't know why I felt the need to start off by rambling like that but it could be due to the fact that I've had about 12 hours of sleep over the past 3 days.

It started off raining here today so all recreation groups met inside and did their activities in the dry.  After our morning leader meeting me and the adult leaders slipped away from doing recreation with all the other youth leaders to meet on our own.  Believe me when I say that we did not shed any tears over missing adult leader recreation.  Instead we went to the coffee shop and really had a time of sharing about what was going on with the group and what God was doing through the worship and sermon the previous night, and even what God is doing in our own life.  This was a great time, and not because coffee was involved b/c believe me my cappuccino was terrible.  After lunch we roamed around and took pictures of the students in their various track groups.

Tonight's worship and sermon from Tony was just incredible, but I never doubted.  It's incredible how God just pours out of Tony's mouth.  He preached out of 2 Timothy 2:1-13 and the title was "Young Leaders: Moving from Fearfulness to Faithfulness" and he spoke about these 6 qualities of a faithful leader:
-Faithful young leaders are strengthened by Jesus' grace
-Faithful young leaders are being disciplined and making disciples
-Faithful young leaders are willing to suffer for the Gospel as a good soldier
-Faithful young leaders are disciplined like a good athlete
-Faithful young leaders work hard like farmers
-Faithful young leaders are passionate about Jesus Christ

Tony challenged us all to follow this as we are all called to lead others to Christ.  This is the most important aspect of life.  If we miss that this is all that really matters in life then we miss the point.  I certainly don't want to get to Heaven to find out that I missed it.

For night life tonight was our time to dress up in our 70's athletic attire.  I believe I lost any pride I ever had.

Day 2 Pics

Ok, I've found a good internet connection to make a quick upload of pics from Day 1.  I would go ahead and load day 2 pics but my memory card reader is in my room so I'll try to get those later.

Centrifuge Day 2

We're now in full swing with our first full day and boy was it ever full.  We started the morning with AM Show worship and then headed to our recreation times, then Bible study.  The recreation time consisted of team activities with their Bible study groups.  

Our Bible study today was based out of Exodus 3 and 4 where God speaks to Moses through the burning bush and then the part afterward where Moses whines with all his excuses (just like we all do).  The main point of the Bible study was how we have to let go of whatever we are holding on to in order to follow God's will.  This may be fear, our own plans or whatever but we must let go of it like Moses did in order for God to use us the way He wants to.

After lunch the students went to their track times where they did numerous activities such as World Religions, Mini Golf, and about 30 others.  The one I'm interested in hearing more about is from our students in the Duct Tape Art track.

Worship was incredible.  Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave made the comment in the morning time how "Worship is not a spectator sport" meaning we are to engage in worship and not just sit there.  Evening worship was great and led into Tony Merida's sermon on Isaiah 6:1-8.  Tony ended the sermon telling a story about a missionary who devoted his life to God and when he passed away they buried his heart in the county he served in before taking his body to his home country to be buried.  They did this because that was where his heart was.  He ended with the question for us all- "Where would they bury your heart?"  Definitely a question to ponder.

Church group devotion time went great.  We had a great time as God poured His Spirit on the group.  Definitely some good things taking place, just as God promised.  Would love to post more details about the entire day but it's after 1 am and I would like to get more than 4 hours sleep.  I will also post some pictures when I get a better internet connection.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 1 Centrifuge

It's midnight and I think I'm settling down for the first day of our Centrifuge camp at Ridgecrest.  Everything has been great so far.  The drive over was smooth and we had a good time meeting up with a fellow youth pastor for lunch.  My favorite line from the van trip was during a conversation between 2 students about the Beatles and one said "I only like their good songs".  I thought that was classic!

The first day is always pretty crazy, settling in rooms, getting room assignments, schedules, etc.  They definitely have a nice setup here at Ridgecrest and the only 2 things I can whine about is that the air conditioner just blows cool air if you can call it that, when us guys want freezing cold air, but we will survive.  There is also no coke/pepsi products in the cafeteria, only tea and juice.  Again I will survive but wanted to point that out and whine.

Now onto the worship.  It began with a video with a guy talking about the theme "Move" and they really did a great job with it because it got me pumped.  I hope to find it online b/c I would love to watch it again.  Big Daddy Weave came out with an explosion of confetti that showered the crowd which was cool, got everyone excited, but then it was down to business.  The first song I had never heard before but it had lyrics like "I'm Free" and talked about God's mercy, grace, etc.  Then pastor Tony Merida came out.  If you don't know anything about Tony I encourage you to look him up and download his sermons.  As he stepped out on stage and the first words came out of his mouth it was like a breath of fresh air being breathed over me personally.  I don't say this to praise Tony, but to praise God for speaking through him.  Again I wish I could listen to his short sermon (about 15 minutes) again just to re-process what he said.  He talked about the theme  "Move" and how we will be studying the book of Exodus this week, which I love!

I know that this is going to be a great week.  I keep saying it because I believe it.  It's so exciting to be here after so many months of hard work, raising funds, planning, completing paperwork, and all the prayer and preparation for leading devotions for the group.  I know that God led us here for a purpose, and that purpose is that we will return to Athens different people.  My desire is for us to re-charged, united, rejuvenated, and develop a deeper passion and desire for our Savior.  I already feel a little re-charged myself after this first night of worship and am praying for more.  I know I've said this before but I believe it's appropriate as the time is near when I use the line from Hillsong United's song Hosanna...."I see a near revival...."

Please pray with me that we see this revival take place this week and bring it back to Clearwater.