Sunday, November 16, 2003

I'm up praying for U-turn and wondering how the candlelight devo went (the entire retreat for that matter) and find myself in "other's shoes" again. Let me explain.

U-turn is the name of the student ministry at Redwood Church. Kim and I served as youth ministers from June 95 until Aug 03. Every fall we would take the students on a retreat. From the time we arrived in RWC (Redwood City) we put a high value on prayer. Several weeks prior to the retreat we would pass out a prayer cover sign-up sheet and give people an opportunity to pray for the students and staff. Every hour would get covered in prayer. Sometimes (as you can imagine) the wee hours of the night and morning (2am - 5am) would be difficult to cover. I remember calling friends in Texas to pray for the slots that were hardest to fill and they could do it because of the time change without as much sacrifice.

For eight years I was on the receiving end of those prayers. This weekend I switched sides.

I always prayed while leading those retreats (I'm sure Kim prayed more) but my mind was also so full with the details, drama, and divine activity that each retreat brought. Unless a problem arose I was usually in bed by 2am on Friday and Saturday night. But someone was praying for us as I was sleeping. Kinda like the "night watch" system of fire prevention in London many years ago. Someone stayed up and provided protection.

I always appreciated it but this weekend I just see the role of the "prayer warrior" from a different angle.

The work of prayer is not tough stuff in theory but it is brutal in practice because the enemy is so opposed to it.

I am reminded of Jesus asking his disciples to "watch and pray" and remembering even they fell asleep and let their flesh rule.

I am also more grateful than ever for the "warriors" who covered our retreats in prayer the past eight years (nine counting this one) especially the ones who prayed in the "wee hours"

God I ask that you take every spiritual, right, and memorable experience these students had "up on the mountain" and you use it as fuel for their days "down in the valley" I ask you to help them to release they don't have to wait for another retreat to have such an experience either. I pray that they could see that if they would just get away from the noise and make time for you to work they would feel you move in ways big and in ways small.

Christ fan into flame their faith and may they come ignite a generation of lost in their schools and in their homes.

I pray that the retreat was a time where students headed in the wrong way (away from you) could make a U-turn into your loving, forgiving, and life changing arms.

I don't know all the details of how the retreat has gone. I do know this. God is faithful and I am confident that he moved in a powerful way in the hearts of many up there in those Redwood trees.

Friday, November 14, 2003

You ever have one of "those days?" No, I'm not talking about one of "those" days, I'm talking about one of the kind of days where the "noise" was nonexistent and "God" was loud and clear." Today was that day.

From 5:00am to 10:00pm God just kept "rattling my cage" and I loved it.

This weekend, U-turn, the student ministry that Kim and I gave so much love to and in return received so much love, is having their annual fall retreat. It is the first fall retreat that we have not been at and it is hard to get used to it. But God is faithful. Below is a letter that we sent to my best friend Mitch to read to the entire group on Saturday night at the candlelight devo.


There is a passage in Acts 17:22-28 that says:

So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: 'To an unknown god.' Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.

God knew that we would have to move. We didn't. You didn't. But God did. This has been both excruciating and exciting. Full of pleasure and full of pain. We want you to know that we miss you more than we could put into words (If we were there I'd give it a shot but I don't want Mitch to have to talk for 50 minutes!) We hear great things about U-turn and sometimes things that make us sad. We have heard that some of you are very sad that we are not there. The truth is that tonight is the first candlelight devo in the history of U-turn that is Quile less and yet we want to remind you of another truth. God is there with you. Listen to the words of Luke in Acts 17:27 again ` Did you catch that. "so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far away from each one of us."

U-turn, tonight you have the holy chance to reach out to a holy Jesus by expressing holy love to one another and making holy commitments to a holy God.

Who are you? You are U-turn.

U-turn. Who are you turning too? God.

Right now is not about turning to Kim, or Joel or anyone but Jesus. It never has been and we pray it never will be.

Could it be that God moved us so that you, u-turn, would seek him and reach out to him like never before?

We don't know. But we do know this. While we are not there with you, God most definitely is.

Make this moment about Him. Seek him u-turn. Reach out to him u-turn.

That was all we ever wanted while we were with you. That is still our prayer tonight.

Right now, over 1600 miles away, we are on our knees praying for you this very moment.

God is not far away at all. He is right there with you. Seek him. Reach out for him. Never stop. You will find him.

And only in him do we truly find life.

Our eternal love,

Joel and Kim


This was a great day indeed. Up at 5:00, time with God, journaling up a storm, worked out with Mark, saw Luke, good time in W.E. Class, Wimon went to bat for me, made an "A" on CJ test, had an exciting lunch with Kent, video editing, bake sale help, snuggled with sick Emily (102.1 degree fever), got a hair cut, took Laura to a B-day party, excellent dinner, talked with Todd F, David B, Mitch W, David N, and many more. Prayers with family, relax by the fire, and here I am blogging away!

God is good. Things went really well today. They might not tomorrow. Guess what. . . ?

God will still be good.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Okay, so I'm not the poster-child for consistency. I will improve as I have no choice. In the words of Barry Bonds (you either love him or hate him) "the game has disciplined me" and life does have a way of causing us to keep up or get trampled.

Kim got a job today so it is official, "I'm a free-loader!" God is so good which is easy to say because he just answered my prayer according to my will. The catch is ascribing goodness to God when he answers your prayer requests the way we parents respond to our kids when they ask to eat a candy bar before bed and after they have brushed their teeth - "NO!"

I have had a, shall we say, "heightened awareness" of God's involvement in my life these past few weeks and I know that God is going to take care of us. The stupid in me forgets that God has always taken care of His children. From Adam to Abraham, from Moses to Matthew, and from my first days until today God has proven time and time again his faithfulness. The fact that I realize this today won't stop the enemy from furiously fighting for me to forget in the future.

Abilene has always been a "desert" time for me and this go around is no different. God is using these shapeless days to shape me. For what? That is around the corner I'm sure. I've got my eyes on the lookout for any "burning bushes" and the thought that keeps me sacred scared is the possibility that I could walk right by it. Sometimes, I am ashamed to admit that my antenna for God is so low that if he were calling to me in a burning forest I just might miss it for the fact that my eyes are so tightly fixed on myself.

I had lunch with my best friend (I'm kinda like a junior high girl in that I really have about three best friends . . . No way I just referred to myself as a junior high girl) Grant Boone today and he shared with me that he has kept a journal every day this year. Praise God. I would love to have that kind of discipline and commitment to the important instead of giving into the urgent. That is the kind of discipline for which I have a holy hunger.

Kim and I got a phone call from the school this morning. Emily was in the office with a temperature. She is sick. So here is what we did. We went and picked her up. We brought her home. We wrapped her up in blankets. We set her up with a movie and some hot chocolate and took turns snuggling with her. We tried our best at helping her to get well.

So what?

When we are sick, even, no especially when we are spiritually sick, we should call out to our Father in heaven and ask him to pick us up. He will if we call and he will restore us to health. He will not have to take turns holding us as He has endless time for each one of us. And (you're way ahead of me here) he will heal us.

Just thought I'd share that with you.