This past weekend I was able to go to a youth camp with the United group from church (Garden City Christian). United is a youth group that consists of 18-25 year olds.... so that pretty much makes me the oldie of the group. :) But that doesn't matter... the weekend ROCKED anyway.
Friday at around noon sisters Sally and Sharon picked me up. :) They are such great girls. And their nationality is so confusing!!! Get this... they were born in Japan, had American schooling (in Japan), are now living in Australia, and their parents are Finish. So what are they? They sound American. Are they Japanese? :) It's fun.
Anyway... we drove up to Coolum Beach for the retreat. It was about a two hour drive (just north of where the women's retreat was).
We got there early so we could just laze around, look in shops, walk around the beach, get situated before the first meeting started at 7pm. So we walked around the little shops right there on the beach, grabbed some sorbet and went to eat it on the beach. We were just sitting there when Sharon gasped and said "Did you feel that?", Sally and I both looked at her. A huge droplet of water landed on her shoulder. We all shrugged it off. Then it started kinda spitting. Then it got harder. This is all in a matter of minutes. So we proceeded to find shelter in a hut-like structure just above where we were sitting - thinking we could finish our sorbet, the rain would stop and we could go on with our lives. Well... let's just say we terribly misjudged the power of God. :) Cause SECONDS after we got under the hut, it started pouring. And then the lightning and thunder rolled in. And then the wind started to blow... HARD. And we had a bonifide storm in our midst. We were pretty much stuck there for a good 20mins. No umbrellas. Far from any building other than our hut. It was exciting. The rain finally let up to a slight sprinkle so we took our chances and headed for the hotel which was across the street. We were probably 15 feet from the door to the hotel room when it started to rain again. And by the time we got up to our room it was pouring HARD yet again. But 30mins later the storm passed through and God sent us a rainbow... I like to think it was Him saying "Just kidding!" - because EVERY TIME I go on a trip it rains the whole time - "No more rain for the rest of the weekend... I promise". And the rest of the weekend was gorgeous.
Friday night's meeting was good. We talked about Monday Missionaries - and how we should bring our Christian lives out of church and into the world. The strongest thing I got out of the message was that we usually only speak Godly in front of our Christian friends (the ones that don't necessarily need it)... we should be speaking Godly in front of the nonChristian. Talk about church, youth group, camp etc in front of your coworkers. Don't brag or boast or push... but just be normal. Tell them that you felt God moving...
Saturday morning the regular speaking, Matt Garner, came in from Perth to speak for the rest of the weekend. His message was to "Take the Lid Off" of your Christian lives. His main points were these:
1) Vision... If you're tired, if the money's run out, if you feel that God has done all He can do in your life, OPEN YOUR EYES, the vision isn't done, God's not finished with you yet. "Gird up your loins" - Get ready and remove all restrictions, anything that would get in your way. Prepare yourself for God's vision/mission for your life.
2) Be prepared... "Be ready in season and out of season" (2Tim 4:2). Don't let tiredness keep you from being ready to experience God (this means if you've been busy or tired by choice don't use it as an excuse to not be in God's presence: devotionals, church, small group). Live your life, but be ready/willing/open to God.
3) Change your thinking... "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom 12:2) Be spiritually minded. You have to change the way that you think FIRST and then your behavior will follow.
4) Faith... (Heb 11:1) It operates on a 4th dimension: the unseen. Like the wind, you can't see it, but you can see the effects of it.
5) Dreams... Treasure and go for the dreams God has given you. God's place for you in ministry will always be there. We have a lifetime of opportunities to worship God.
6) Language... Speak words of faith. Don't be 'Godly' only around Christians. Shine and speak God in your regular life.
As noted earlier... the message of the weekend was "Take the Lid Off".
Saturday night Matt really pushed us. He set an empty kettle (b/c we didn't have anything else) up in front of the auditorium. And he opened it up to all of us to come up whenever we felt led to while he was talking. He challenged us to give it all to God. And not just money. Anything. If we have no money, come and just "drop" it in the kettle, as if whatever we need to give over to God was there in our hand. He explained that it was a tithed offering... he didn't have any prior idea of what the money would be going to... it was just there for us to give whatever we needed over to God. During the extent of the time that Matt spoke, people began to get up and walk to the kettle. You could hear clinking of money drop in. Matt finished speaking. Then one girl walked up and put her jacket next to it. Another put her flip flops. The drummer ran up on stage and took a cymbol off the drum kit. Another band member took his guitar and gave it to another member of the youth group. The band came up and started playing. People were on the ground, kneeling, some laid flat on the ground. Others stood with their arms raised. Other sat with hands on their heads. You could hear people crying. Others praising. It was amazing. An amazing night.
The whole weekend was incrdible.
I wish I could explain it better.
Even more, I wish you all could have experienced it too.
I didn't take many pictures... And I took video, but the audio was horrible on it.
All I have is what is in the video below.
I know it's not much... but it will hopefully let you understand a little bit of what it was like.
God is good, all the time.