We had a very interesting weekend! Nathan has been practicing for over a month for "Dust Weekend," also known as Discipleship Now weekend, at Urbancrest Baptist Church in Lebanon, OH. His old youth pastor Shawn is the youth pastor there, and his friend Andrew is the middle school youth pastor. They've played together in bands lots of times before, so this was a really fun reunion for Nate.
We drove over to the church on Friday at 4:00 in the snow and wondered what the projected 8 inches of snow would do to the weekend. We had planned to come back home to sleep (it's only about 20 minutes away). As soon as we got there we realized we'd better run to Wal-Mart (very close to church) to grab some overnight essentials before the roads got any worse. So we grabbed some toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, contact supplies, a couple pillows, and a blanket. And it's a good thing we did. We were trapped in the church all weekend because of tons of snow and massive drifts. Us and about 40 teenagers and a dozen leaders. It was an exhausting and bizarre weekend, but I thank God for the snow.
This was the most spiritually significant experience I've had since I went on my "Chrysalis" when I was 15. It was really amazing. I won't go into a lot of detail because so much of spirituality is so personal, but I do want to share a few insights/highlights.
1. I am dust. When God created Adam, He scooped up a handful of dust and breathed life into it. Originally God had created Lucifer to be the most glorious of all beings, made to reflect and project God's glory above all things. He was beautiful and powerful; he had the privilege of standing in the presence of God. But Lucifer decided it wasn't enough to be the greatest of all of God's creation; he wanted to be God himself. So he rebelled, and God cast him out of heaven onto a little speck of dust called EARTH. So God created a new being with the capacity to praise Him, to reflect His glory, and to project Him throughout all creation: us. He did this by breathing his spirit into a handful of dust. And that's all we are without Him. Dust. Nothing. I wish I could explain this more eloquently, because it's so much deeper than this.
2. I need to live for God's glory. This is something we sing in many "praise and worship" songs, but it never really hit me before this weekend. I need to seek to glorify Him in everything that I do. Everything. In my words, in my actions, in my silence. 1 Corinthians 3: 10-15 talks about the judgment of the Christian in heaven. With Christ as our foundation we will not be judged for our sins; He has paid for them. But we will be judged by what we've done with our lives since claiming Jesus as our foundation. We have several materials to use to build upon that foundation: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble. The first three are beautiful, priceless substances... but the special thing about them is that the pure forms of gold and silver are reflective, and precious stones reflect and project [light]. We use these things to build upon our foundation when we do things for the glory of God. The latter three building materials absorb light, not reflect it. We use these things to build on our foundation when we take the glory in what we do for ourselves (look at me! Look how great I am! Look what I can do!). On that day of judgment, what we have built will be tested with fire. The wood, hay, and stubble will be burned away to ash... to dust. The things that we did for ourselves will be nothing. But the things that we did for the Glory of God- the gold, silver, and precious stones- will be purified (you purify gold with heat/fire) and stay firm on our foundation. We will be rewarded for these things- and the great thing about it is that, as I mentioned before, these materials are reflective... so our reward is that we will eternally reflect the splendor of God because we glorified him with our actions in life.
3. Praise and worship is not music. Much of the focus of Dust Weekend was true worship. We talked about the misnomer "praise and worship" in reference to music. Of course we can and do worship God through music, but many of us seem to think that that music is the very definition of music! It is not! We have so many opportunities to worship God in the things that we do. In music. In art. In writing. In silence. In raising our hands. In reading scripture. In prostrating ourselves. In clapping our hands. In kneeling. In shouting. In tears. In dancing. We have SO limited ourselves!! I love to worship with music, but worshiping the King by laying on the ground with your face in the dust is such an amazing form of worship too. We should not assume that that one person not raising their hands, or that one person not singing isn't worshiping God. It could be that they're praying, worshiping God in their silence.
4. Sin is pretty. Idols are pretty. Satan is pretty. I have many things in my life that I know I should walk away from... deep in my heart I know that they're doing me more harm than good. But they seem so harmless. They look so nice on the surface. Let me give you an example. I love to perform; in music, in acting, whatever. BUT I have a major pride problem. I can easily sing a hymn in front of a crowd (or even as part of the congregation) but instead of worshiping God with it, I make it all about me. "I wonder if the person standing by me has noticed how good I sound." "Wow, that's some loud applause. I must have done great." So this looks great from the outside- anybody watching would think I was such a worshipful person... but it's a pitfall for me. I've realized that I need to stay away from public performances for now- until I can learn to get over myself and truly be able to lead others in worship.
There are so many more things that I could say, but I need to stop. I hope that you can glean something out of all of this.