Stir Me Up Lord!

Stir Me Up Lord!: June 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Planting Seeds

I’ve just experienced an awesome week volunteering at my church’s kid's summer camp (vacation bible school). This was my ‘sophomore’ year being a Head Counselor to a vibrant group of 22 nine year old boys. Something I’ve learned, is there’s a HUGE difference between that ‘Freshman’ and ‘Sophomore’ year. The first time; you have plans, expectations, and eagerness to change some children’s lives.  This year I came in knowing that I just wanted GOD to use me as HE needed me and leave the changing of kid’s lives to HIM.

The first time out, you have that dream of perfect kids, behaving like little angels and everything goes according to schedule…(makes me giggle today thinking about those naive thoughts)!! A kid’s Church camp is pretty much the same as life:, stuff happens, you roll with the punches, and different personalities will cause conflict. Kids are no different than us adults, the difference being adults have learned you don’t call people names to their faces (whereas adults wait to the backs are turned).   Not everyone is going to ‘like’ you, so hang out with those who do - instead of trying to make the person who doesn’t like you, change their mind. My freshman year I ended up disappointed in myself, upset that I had to get on to some kids for acting inappropriately or disrespectful.

What I discovered along the way though: these are kids, they are at camp to learn and I volunteered to teach them, it just meant teaching them what is appropriate behavior and how to show respect along with teaching them about GOD! I honestly thought all my lil campers last year probably hated me after having to correct so many of them and move them around from their ‘friends’ (aka partners in crime) – but I was totally blown away this year by seeing those same kids come up to me and give me hugs and say ‘Hi Ms. Dawn!’.

This year I went in knowing that each and every kid has a different story and background. They are at camp because their parents or grandparents wanted them to come, they want to have fun and be with their friends. Our Church does an awesome job of keeping the kids focused on God while entertaining them. My goal at camp was to lead by example, that’s what Jesus taught us to do and that’s what I wanted to teach my campers. If someone needed correction, I corrected them, if they apologized and showed better behavior, I told them how much I appreciated their choices; but if they continued to show the wrong choices, I told them there would be consequences. Jesus loved us through the sins and mistakes of our lives, so I was going to keep loving these kids through the mistakes they made - not by labeling them and expecting them to make the same mistakes. 

One child in my group started off on the wrong foot, he had to have corrections made several times the first day; but I told him at the end of the day that tomorrow was a fresh start and I believed in him. Over the next couple of days I had encouraging talks with him and I always noticed he would sing at worship just as loudly as anyone else, always eager - just needing direction for that eagerness. After Chapel one day, he came up to me and said he wanted to pray with me but couldn’t see me up front (during Chapel the Head Counselors go up front and we have an opportunity for the campers to come up and pray) so he was apologizing for going to another counselor – I told him he didn’t need to apologize, we can pray with anyone and we don’t even have to pray with someone, we can talk to God all on our own, anytime we want. Last night when he was going home, he asked me if I was going to be at camp next year, because he wanted to be in my group again, that made my heart smile.

Our church prayed over our camp long before this week, one of the prayers was that each camper, each volunteer would be placed where God wanted them to be. I know God answered that, I know each and every child that was in my group was meant to be where they were.  I still have so much to learn, and I love how God will use these kids to teach me as much as I can teach them. I pray that God will use me and that I will bring honor and glory to HIS name and not harm the hearts of those around me. Every day we touch the lives of those around us, whether we want to or not, the question is: are we encouraging them or harming them. Our words, our actions, they make a difference; we can plant a seed, water that seed, encourage its growth or we can uproot what was planted, the choice is ours.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.  For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9 NLT)

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let Go and Let GOD

Not worthy, that’s how I feel when I haven’t been spending time in God’s Word or time in prayer with Him. When I try to go about my Christian life and try to do everything on my own merit, it’s like treading water and barely staying above the surface. We’re not meant to do this on our own, that’s what makes this life such a struggle, being so full of pride and our own selves that we don’t give it to God.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

So many times I get burdened with all that’s going on in my life and I let myself get further from God, when HE’s the ONE I need to be clinging to. I’ll get pre-occupied with all the ‘things’ that aren’t important and push HIM to the back, and that’s when stress, anxiety and worry come in.  But the contrast is, if you notice the closer you are to GOD, the more peace, comfort and strength you have. The world pulls at you, drains you and saps the energy you have; while GOD is the still quiet voice offering refreshing rest from the chaos surrounding you.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

We have to remember, although we are new creations in Christ, we are still sinners. We have a battle within us, a worldly flesh that fights against our inner man (our spirit) that wants to follow Christ. Sometimes we’re harder on ourselves when we make mistakes, so we have to forgive ourselves and not condemn ourselves.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (Hebrews 4:16 AMP)

The enemy can and will use those mistakes against us, but GOD will not. Once we’ve asked for forgiveness, those sins are forgotten. The enemy will tell us that we’re not good enough and that we must not be Christians if we’re making these kind of mistakes – that’s why the devil is the father of lies.

…When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44c NLT)

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10a AMP)

The devil brings only bad, wrong, and evil to this world. Whereas everything that is good, just and beautiful is given from God.

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10b AMP)

For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more. (Hebrews 8:12 AMP)

He has removed our sins as far from us, as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12 NLT)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NLT)

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 NLT)

When you start to give into those whispers of the devil and believe that you are not worthy, tell GOD you are sorry for your mistakes and remind the devil your sins are forgiven, your GOD is a loving and gracious Heavenly Father and that HIS Word says, “ The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. “ (Proverbs 24:16 NLT)

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