Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Okoboji 2009 – Relentless

This year’s trip down to Iowa was one for the record books and one I will never forget. Not only was it a wonderful, powerful and very meaningful theme based on Revelation 3:20 the group of youth that came down was very special.

We began the adventure planning for around 90 youth to attend the weekend with a few chaperones as well. After a few conflicts were worked out we ended up with 84 youth and 5 chaperones on two busses leaving the parking lot of Word of Peace Friday evening. I took a bit of a straw poll before we left and on the bus about thoughts and expectations for the weekend and it was pretty level and consistent where everyone was a little reluctant and would much rather be doing something else this particular weekend. This was very normal and came to no surprise to me. But I also saw some hopefulness and excitement when it came to seeing their friends also in the group and that lifted my spirits. Either way I was going to have a great weekend no matter what the youth thought. I was just hoping that they would come along with me and have a good time as well.

Upon arriving the excitement to get off the bus and be at camp began to take over. The apprehension of the weekend already started to lift. This was fairly usual for a few youth to experience this, but to see it from an entire group was most unusual. That evening the “Relentless” theme was introduced, cabins were assigned, and bedtime was welcomed with open arms as we were all tired.

The morning came and it was like everyone in the group had stayed up late and created cardboard cutouts of themselves and placed them in Morning Chapel while they stayed in bed. There was no movement, hardly any singing and only a few open eyes. But I was determined that food would pick them up and lift their spirits. Boy was I right! As the morning progressed the 9th grades slowly gained momentum becoming engaged in the theme and all the activities that followed. One very poignant moment came when I came up to the dish window where a cabin filled with Word of Peace boys was busy cleaning all the forks and plates from breakfast. When I asked how things were going, I heard a voice from the back say “Dain I am having so much fun. I love it here and am so glad I came!” What!? This is a comment I usually hear during free time or dodge ball not the first morning on dish crew. This was a great sign.

The day continued with more chapel, games and free time where friends were made, songs were sung and most importantly God was met. And on top of all of that I couldn’t stay away from the kids. Normally, I take a little time for myself during the weekend during the free time or before dinner, but I couldn’t help but be around the excitement and joy that everyone seemed to be exuding. It was contagious.

By the time we came to the end of the weekend we had an opportunity to share thoughts we may have had during the weekend and/or funny stories. I was brought to tears when many youth from Word of Peace came up to the front and something like, “I wasn’t sure what to expect this weekend and was unsure whether it was going to be fun or not. But I had such a good time and am so thankful to Word of Peace and Okoboji for this weekend. I feel closer to God and am really excited to be involved in church when I get back.”


I even get a little choked up now remembering the weekend and those comments. This was a weekend to remember and something that affected this year’s confirmation class beyond anything I could ever hope for. God truly answered my prayers with this group and now I am so excited to continue on in ministry to them and the rest of the High School grades.

May you relentlessly pursue God who is always pursuing you and encourage your friends, family, kids, co-workers and the world to do the same.



Check out some of the pictures on my flickr page

Monday, November 23, 2009

How I love you Christian music, let me count the ways….

It was a few years back when I discovered Christian music (when I say Christian music I mean popular, contemporary or modern Christian music.) I wasn’t in on it from the beginning. Back when it all began in the early 80’s I was a mere 2 years old and didn’t know much about anything aside from what was in front of me. Meanwhile artist like Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Stryper, Kathy Tracolli and the Gather Band were playing at local churches and praising God through music. But it wasn’t until 1991 that Christian music entered into my world of music. I have nothing against the other artists but as I was growing up I had different tastes of music than my parents and I was looking for something a little more “in your face” and “edgy”. It was Michael W. Smith concert that I attended that introduced me to an up-and-coming band named dctalk as an opening act and my life was changed. Their sound was awesome and it was the combination of music that I was looking for. From that point on, I hardly listened to anything else and couldn’t wait for the next album to come out.
My life was changed again by music when I discovered a new band called Jars of Clay. They had an acoustic sound and feel that really spoke to where I was in life and was something that my whole family could love as well. It was then that I realized that there were tons of different styles and types of Christian music and even entire stores devoted to the selling and promoting of these bands. Form that point on I have immersed myself in Christian music.
I have always been a lover of music. I listen to every type of music and try to stay up on the popular songs because of my youth director position. But there is something different about music with Christ as its focus. Christian music is something that stirs me deep inside and a spring of emotions begins to overflow from me with the love of Christ at its center. If you think about it, this is what being a Christian should feel like. Understanding that God’s love for us through His son’s death on the cross is something so amazing that it should fill us with joy and thanksgiving to the point where it overflows into our life, work, play and rest. Worship should be in perpetual motion in our lives. But I am often distracted by what the world has to offer that I loose focus and begin to forget. But I am consistently drawn back to God through the music I listen to. It encourages me and allows me to worship him in some of the most unusual places like my car, while cleaning my apartment and wherever I may be with my Ipod. And the best part is no matter what style of music you like you can find artists that sing about God and praise Christ through their music.
This is what worship is: praising God anywhere and everywhere. This is what God deserves for His sacrifice and love for us. It is our way of saying thanks and through music is the best way I know how.

What does your music point you toward? Is it God?