A June Thank You 2016
It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good." 1 Peter 5:8-11, MSG
Our first camp of the summer started off with this verse. "Stay alert. You are waking up at your age," Melissa said to the 11th-12th graders that were with us at camp this last week. "You're aware of new things around you and new feelings inside of you. There's a destructiveness that you're waking up to, as well. It wants to destroy you. It wants to destroy who God wants you to be...your identity. And it's an easy thing to happen, particularly at your age. You start to give in to being like everybody else, instead of who God has uniquely made you to be. You give in to pressure....to emotion...to being who it feels like you're supposed to be, instead of who God created you to be.
Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer who has won 18 gold medals, went through a period of struggling with his own identity. He became depressed. And, as he worked through that depression, he realized that his identity had been caught up in being "just a swimmer."
If you're dependent on what you've done, it doesn't carry over. Your successes, your accolades, your achievements don't really make a difference in your life for the long haul. When you base your identity on externals, they change. One day you win and one day you lose. One day, you're in the in crowd. The next day you're not. You don't want to put your identity in the hands of this world. The biggest threat to the darkness—to the destructiveness that's out to get you is just to be yourself. And that's what we want you to discover more of this week. What do you believe? Who do you want to be? Who are you in the big scheme of things?
Over the course of the week, we went on to talk about what it means to place our identities on the internals rather than externals of our lives in light of Joshua and the verse in Joshua 5 when he was told to take off his shoes before going into battle against Jericho. "Joshua was more than a warrior. Michael Phelps is more than a swimmer. You're more than a runner...or artist...or part of a particular group. One day, you'll feel close to God. The next day you won't. But God has given you a deeper identity...as his child. He has made you to be you in a way that no one else can do.
As my friend, Dan Allender says, 'You are the only you this world will ever know and something about you is meant to make something about God known in a way no one else can.' We discover that identity through relationship—particularly, relationship with God.
We take off our shoes in humility and rest. We trust him. We believe in who He is as our savior and commander and find who we are, in the midst.
- With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.' 1 Peter 1:5-9
There is a darkness around you...even inside of you. It will do anything to tear down your identity, especially during these teenage years. But God wants to do the opposite. He wants to build your identity from the inside. When you do and the outside things fail or falter, you won't be devastated because your identity is deeper. As you take off your shoes and rest in him...trust him, your identity will be found in his love. It's not about the externals. It's about the internals...God's love and redemption at work in your life. He's on your side, which is ultimately his side. He is doing great things—inside of you this very minute. Rest in that. In him. He loves the only you that's waiting to come out more and more."
Our first week at camp was one of so much growth in the 32 11th-12th graders that came. They named their Jericho's, but more importantly, reminded each other of their identities being built by Christ. We laughed, we rode bikes, we ate, we worshipped and we discovered together what it meant to take our shoes off.
Thanks for your prayers for Hopetown, for our day camps, and for Daystar this summer. Thank you for your support of our ministry and the children and families involved. Glad to be standing with you on holy ground.