God rearranged my speaking schedule last week; he had other plans for me… and he gave me an opportunity to spend a week with our youth in Panama City Beach, FL at the BigStuf youth conference.
The 12 hour drive was so worth it – the conference was awesome! Thread with humor, the SKIT GUYS broke down the walls and barriers, the messages from Jared Herd and John Acuff were so relevant and applicable for the students of this generation, and to see our kids worship God with 1500 other students – it was all inspiring!
God answered many prayers that our youth had requested: growth in their relationship with God, courage, peace… Throughout the week, we had intimate times of sharing what God was doing in our hearts; the kids shared what they were learning and the struggles they were going through.
God had impressed on my heart during the week to “stand… stand firm.” I thought of the metaphor, that the ocean’s waves are like the myths and messages of our culture (that sex before marriage is the same as sex in marriage), like the negative voices that want to pull us down: “you’ll never change,” “you’re not good enough” “your unlovable” “God doesn’t care” or “God’s best isn’t for you”…
I shared the last night together, reminding the students about the time when we all were swimming in the ocean together (just about all 26 of us anyway). The flags flying on the beach were red – a code for swimmers to be cautious of the undercurrent/rip-tide. We used the buddy system and we were stronger together.
The red flag is waving and our students need to be aware of our culture’s motives – the world is always trying to sell us something to fix the hole in our heart. God does not try to sell us something but gives us grace to live fully and freely because he loves us. We need to stand firm in the truth – we can change, we have value and purpose to do big stuff for God.
It’s hard by yourself… we need each other! Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil, the things we can’t see. (Ephesians 6:12). We learned by sharing our stories and our issues… their grip is released and healing can begin. We must take a stand against the devils schemes… and stand firm in the truth! Let nothing move you… the power of Jesus can change our lives. His voice is greater than the negative “waves” of the culture’s voices – when we choose to listen and remember what Jesus has done. He gave up his life proving his love for each of us.
The last night we received communion on the beach, and we had an opportunity to physically apply what we learned spiritually by throwing bobbers in the ocean or burying in the sand. (We had written the lies of the negative voices that held us back from being who called us to be – from becoming “big stuff” for God.) How freeing it was to release these or bury them under our feet.
Will you pray with me for the students to remember God’s great love, his power to forgive their mistakes, and to help them overcome their negative voices with truth… and then for their generation to do big stuff for God.