I stood there in the embrace of a 9 person group hug. I looked around at the tear covered faces of the youth and my wife and wiped the tears from my own face, and we prayed together. We prayed; we prayed for the Holy Spirit to continue to work in our lives as he had on this last night of youth camp. We came together and prayed because it was the natural response to God moving in our lives so strongly. The experience of youth camp excites me because I know that in all 9 of our lives, things will never be the same.
The tears we cried were tears of joy mixed with our hearts response to letting God break down the barriers we set up against Him and others. Tears shed because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so compelling that it has to change you, there is no other response. That is the experience we had at youth camp. That is the experience we want to bring back to Tupelo.
Coming back from the trip we have been asking ourselves the question “How do we continue to experience God in this way?” That really is the challenge you are faced with when you come back from an experience like a week long youth camp. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for years.
I challenged our youth with this, and I think it’s something that rings true for all of us. Prayer, scripture, and community. These three aspects of our faith create the intimacy with God that we desire, as great as an experience like youth camp is for our spiritual lives, it’s not sustainable. We can’t just leave our lives and go worship in the woods, nor was that God’s intention. He created a three-pronged approach in order for us to live our lives and keep Him not only as a part of it, but as the forefront of our lives. Prayer, scripture, and community.
Without prayer, we wouldn’t have anything to connect our soul to God. We would be flying blind. I couldn’t love my wife well if I couldn’t speak with her. The same is true of our relationship with God. Prayer refreshes our soul everyday, and it increases our faith.
Reading scripture gives us the opportunity to not only learn, but to experience God revealing His heart to us. He’s given us the opportunity to search His heart, and learn about His desire to know us. What if you could read a book about your spouse's heart or your kid's heart? You’d learn so much about them and be able to love them so much better if they laid their soul out for you on pages. This is the experience of reading scripture.
Last of all community with believers is essential. Without it, we’d be left to figure out this Christian walk alone. We were created to worship God, but more than that we were created to worship Him communally. We need to bear each others burdens, pray for each other, lay ourselves down for one another. God never intended for us to just show our bravest face to people, He wants us to embrace our brokenness. To allow others to enter into our messy lives and share the love of Christ.
These three aspects are the pillars of our youth ministry. I write this because I want to invite you to join us in this pursuit. Pray with me today, that we would develop hearts that desire to know God deeper, through prayer, His word, and authentic community. And pray that through these things we would allow God to break down the barriers that we have put up against Him and others.
Let us do life together, growing closer to Jesus, and closer to each other, through stories and experiences from the people of our church. Join us as we begin a new series for the Advent season, beginning Tuesday, November 28.