Saturday, April 12, 2008

Final Day...and First Day...

Finally home again. Yesterday I was able to stay for one more session, and then hit the road again towards home...where we would begin a two day conference called "Living Sacrifice" right here in our own city.

It was a difficult final message. "Deep Ministry in a Shallow World". The statistics of how many churched teenagers choose to go a different direction after high school are hard to swallow. Not the rough-edged ones that visit once in a while....but the ACTUAL church-going, dress-wearing, shirt-tucked-in teenagers. 50% of them, once entering the "real world", seem to make choices that lead them further and further from the Church and from a relationship with God.

Kara Powell, the speaker, used a phrase that really got to me. "Red Bull Youth Ministry". Youth Ministry that has so much hype, and so much energy and excitement....but lacks the nourishment and depth....so that when teens graduate and end up in the "real world", they crash. The real world where decisions are tough. Where unlimited opportunities to alter your state of mind, and unlimited circumstances that will put our faith to the test....combine with a teenager who was coming to church because they really really liked the music, or atmosphere, or whatever...

Difficult to transition from that, into a conference where we as leaders have purposefully gotten a speaker with a dynamic speaking ability. A worship band that rocks. A venue that has unlimited audio/visual capabilities. It's more than enough to send me to prayer. May our hearts/motivations/prayers be in the right place.

God did something, though. On the way home, I had another CD I'd burned of a podcast from Seattle Pacific, this time by Kallistos Ware. I'd read his book, "The Orthodox Way" back in college, and really enjoy him. Anyway, his message was "What is Prayer?". A reminder of the "Jesus Prayer" used by the Orthodox church and many others...combined with the command "pray continually" from scripture.

It was perfect timing...because there was no other way to make it. So I found myself, standing in the middle of hundreds of teenagers...with loud worship music roaring...many teens distracted by the gossip of youth, until the key change where they boldly thrust their worshiping hands towards God.....reciting the Jesus Prayer "with my mind in my heart", as Ware put it. My entire being was wrapped up in praying that God would use this. Not as a "red bull" moment...but as nourishment for the souls surrounding me that are hungry for the supernatural God.

Today, it continues...

ps. It's good to be home. I love these Anderson females.

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