Looks like I should just stop planning posts! So much for getting this post out on Saturday
Week 3 is now here and the sheer diversity of groups has been awesome. There is an incredible uniqueness that comes with each week and it really helps with sustaining that energy I was worried about losing. Tonight, I’ll be doing the first big talk in the weekly series on knowing the truth and daring to live it. For the purposes of other groups that might find this blog before they come, I won’t discuss what we’re teaching till probably August when I get back. I’ll do a daily sermon, in blog form, that first week in august when I get back so you guys can get an idea of the teaching that is going on in Next Step.
In light of my previous post, I must say that miraculous things continually occur here when lifted up in prayer. We are becoming closer and closer with our community here, which is a big deal for Next Step. We really don’t want to be seen as simply a missions organization, but one that partners with it’s impacted communities in unique ways so that there is always a long term goal and contact. As a worship team, we have already played two sundays at Crane Creek Baptist’s weekly services and our “contemporary style” is being met with a lot of encouragement (but we definitely tone it down, I’m on the cajon and no electric guitar). Everyone here was relatively worried about Tropical Storm Debby, but again we prayed so hard and the storm at first loked like it was going to take a hard left and now it’s heading right. Either way, our area remains unaffected as of today and the roofs, along with other outdoor work projects are being continued. However, TS Debby is ravaging its way through my hometown of Jacksonville, FL and most of northern florida in general, so as we are, please also keep their safety in your prayers as well. Dad says the pool needs a bunch of people to cannonball into it to get all the excess water out! haha
Today I was able to take a much needed day of rest and catch up on a few things, specifically sleep and my Fuller Seminary adventures. Life has been excellent and I am so pumped to see how God is using this blog. I love reading the comments and people text me about its content and it just makes me so happy. If you ever have a request to read about something you’d specifically like to know about here, don’t hesitate to ask!
I am currently reading through the book of John in Eugene Peterson’s “The Messgage.” Even though it is a paraphrase, the insight his interpretations of scripture offer are incredible. In the midst of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, Christ is basically convincing this woman that he is the Messiah and how worship of the Lord is actually supposed to look. Rather than placing emphasis on “holy” grounds such as Jerusalem, Jesus offers this:
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
This is part of an interpretation of John 4:23-24 and I abolutely love it. In the ESV, the 24th verse reads: God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
Both contain the same truth, but I connect with the Message on a whole other level because of how it defines worship. That it must “engage” my spirit in the pursuit of truth. That worship needs to be totally honest. That we don’t raise our hands for show or lift up a shout of praise because everyone else is doing it, but because we truly feel the Spirit’s presence and want that connection.
The same soul God breathed into each one of us is the same one He wants us to worship Him with. Intently.
The youth pastor of CCBC (Crane Creek Baptist Church, the one we’re staying at) preached this past sunday and laid out simply the foundations to our relationships with Christ. Whenever we are in any relationship, family, friendly or intimately, the first major milestone you hit is actually getting to know them. If we want to pursue a relationship with Christ we have to get to know him. And how do we do that? Well the one book on earth that describes him the best is probably on a bookshelf, in your car, under a dirty pile of clothes or quite likely left at a church event. Getting into the word daily has dramatically stretched and enhanced my faith in so many ways. A lot of times, people (like myself) think that if we go to church enough, watch enough online sermons or cool videos on God then we’ll get it. If we go to enough camps or do enough mission work, we’ll get it. But the reality remains that the greatest way to deepen your faith is to get into His word. It’s so simple, I’ve heard it preached on a thousand times and am finally figuring it out. Scripture like the one above speak so much truth into our lives, and it dares us live that truth out. That’s what this summer at Next Step is all about.
Know the Truth. Dare to Live it.
Here’s what we’re lifting up:
+ the safety of all affected by TS Debby
+ the healing of our vocalists (voices are really getting worn down)
+ an incredible week 3
+ rest, and humbling ourselves enough to know when we need to take it
+ great weather
+ a continued strive to put in 100% effort into providing the best possible experience for students to encounter Christ
Our worship director Jake was discussing the set with us during practice one day last week, and as we talked out the details of worship, he said the phrase something like “we’ll do that, spirit pending.” So awesome. Because everything we do, all the worship we offer up is really contributing to the Spirit’s work. So my last big prayer, is that we would all yield to what God has in store for us, His will, and in the midst of all that, we let Him guide every moment. Spirit pending.
Love you guys, thank you so much for all the support!
Go Download/Spotify this
+ Song: Get Down – By: Audio Adrenaline
a classic song that the youth love. Always fun to hear students worship to the same ones you worshipped to in middle school haha
+ Song: This is the Day – By: Phil Whickham
one of my new favorites by Phil. Love the message of the song, definitely check the lyrics out on this one
+ Song: The Lost are Found – By: Hillsong Live
From the God is Able album. “The lost are found, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the dead will live, and You are God, forever you will reign.”