Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"I watch the heavens but I find no calling"

This past Sunday night we watched Sarah McLachlan's video "World on Fire." Sarah sees the world's suffering and decides to help. Instead of spending 150,000 on making a music video she spends it on helping over a million people around the world. The video takes us through what each aspect of the video production would have cost and what charity she spent the money on instead.
The chorus goes like this:
The worlds on fire
its more then I can handle
Ill tap into the water try and bring my share
Try to bring more, more then I can handle
Bring it to the table
Bring what I am able

The video is inspiring and encouraging and convicting. At one point the video shows a woman who works all day and then sells oranges at night to pay for her child's schooling. She must sell 100 oranges a day, for 2 cents each in order to make the $2 she needs everyday. I was convicted by how a small amount like 2 cents could really help others in need. The video pans in to focus on the door of this woman's shack for a moment. It reads "Ps. 118:5-9." The psalm reads, "Out of my distress I called upon the Lord, the Lord answered me and set me free."

Even though a reference to this psalm was included in Sarah's video, even though Sarah was going about the work of setting people free from their distress, she apparently did not find God calling her to do this. Later in the song she sings, "I watched the heavens but I find no calling." It is indeed a sad situation if the world is hurting and God has nothing to say about it. It would be a careless God who doesn't call people to help others in their distress.

Thankfully, God is calling us to do something, something we can do to change what's coming. Sarah is looking for that calling to come from the heavens. Well, our calling does come from the heavens, it just comes in the form of a book called the Bible, not in the form of a vision in the stars. In the Bible, in a letter from James, God inspired the author to write, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

God is calling us to help others. I think Sarah may be frustrated by the hypocrisy she sees in the religious who are interested in "saving souls" while "the colds closing in on us." Our faith must be shown by our actions. The faith Christians are trying to convey to people is frustrating unless it is accompanied by acts of mercy.

Acts of mercy don't save us but they should come out of us as we have been saved by an act of mercy, the act of God sending his son Jesus to die for our sin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beach Trip... and other stuff we're doing

July 29th: Youth Group at the Block House. (We’ll be watching Sarah McLachlan’s video “World on Fire” and talking about materialism vs. missions.)

August 4th: Family Beach Trip to Bethany Beach. B.Y.O.F. (Bring your own food, finances, or friend) Youth may come without parents. A caravan will be leaving from the church shortly after 6:30 a.m. Please RSVP with how many will be coming from your family and how many extra seats you have in your car.

We will caravan to downtown Bethany Beach at 6:30am and pick up a day parking pass ($11 per car) where Garfield Parkway dead ends. We will then be parking on side streets and rendezvousing on the beach in front of the public bathrooms and stage at the end of Garfield. Family Bocce Ball competition at 2pm. Family sandcastle judging at 4pm. We will be leaving the beach at 5pm, stopping for dinner at the Kent Island Burger King and reaching Liberty at 9:30pm for pick-up.

A link to a map and directions

August 5th: no youth group

August 12th: Youth Group at the block house

August 18th: High school service project to Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. Spaces are limited. Must be 14 or older to participate. RSVP to Nick at 410-655-5466

August 19th: Parent meeting at 9:30am in the Block House. Youth can attend their regularly scheduled Sunday school class. No youth group

August 19th: Wyld life interest meeting for parents and volunteers at 7pm at the block house.

August 26th: Back to School Bash! 6th-12th graders welcome. 6th graders initiated! Time and place TBA

September 15th: Hershey Park and Christian Concert $45.

We were meant to live for so much more


This past week we hung out at the block house, talked about how we’re made for glory, and shared prayer requests regarding what God was doing in our lives and in our midst. We watched the video “We were meant to live” by the band Switchfoot. The lyrics, heard on many non-Christian radio stations, say “We were meant to live for so much more. Have we lost ourselves? And everything inside screams for second life.” The video shows the musicians playing their instruments and cutting a hole in the walls that separate them from each other. As they cut through the walls a bright light shines in from the background. The video seems to be saying that we are made for more than just the grubbiness we may see around us. The truth is we were made for glory. We were made for a relationship with a holy God. We also took a look at Exodus 5 where Moses was trying to convince the Israelites that they were meant to live for so much more than their Egyptian enslavement. Sometimes it’s hard to see that we were made for worship of a holy God when our situations press in on us so oppressively. The reality is we were meant for so much more. We were meant to live for God, to worship God with our whole life. So we took a moment to see that God was doing “so much more” in our lives than we can see with the naked eye. We shared what God was doing in the lives of those around us and prayed for those works that God was doing.

A link to the video we watched

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Come hang out with us.

July 14th 7-8:30pm Walmart Scavenger Hunt and Food drive. Bring between 5 and 10 dollars. Meet at Eldersburg Walmart at 7. Pick up will be at the snow ball shack near Arby’s at 8:30. Proceeds will go to support local shelter’s like Westminster Rescue Mission.

July 15th No Youth Group

July 22nd 7-8:30 Youth Group at the block house. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

July 29th 7-8:30 Youth Group at the block house. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

August 3rd-4th Beach Trip to Ocean City $15 (tentative)

August 5th No Youth Group

August 12th Youth Group at the block house. Drinks will be served. Bring a snack to share.

August 18th High school service project to Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. Spaces limited. Must be 14 or older to participate.

September 15th Hershey Park and Christian Concert $45 (tentative)

Talk from the pool party

Linkin Park Minutes to Midnight What I’ve Done

I have worshipped to this song on numerous occasions. I’ve held my hands up as the tears come down asking God for mercy. The chorus rings in your ears afterwards:
Let mercy come and wash away what I’ve done.
This is a good prayer, especially if you’re being as honest as Linkin Park usually is about the sinful estate of humanity. The video shows glimpses of gobs of guilty things we’ve done as humans: hated one another, bombed one another, fired firehoses at one another, burned one another, beat one another. Nature itself has not been immune to our sinful ways, we've pillaged, killed, and polluted it as well. Yet interspliced with that horror there has been hope, we’ve saved one another, helped one another, carried one another, protected one another. But there is serious injustice in this world. Some gorge themselves while others starve.
Fortunately, Linkin Park doesn’t merely lament the problem they also talk about the solution. Unfortunately they’re somewhat confused about the solution. They would admit this themselves. They look to Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity as equally valid solutions to this problem. They look to Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Buddha, and Mao se Tung as having a synonymous message. They point the finger at the Ku Klux Klan, Fidel Castro, and Saddam Hussein and Hitler as the enemy. They see the answer to this evil in each person facing his or her own history. This too is helpful and honest. It seems there may even be a confession in this video of drug use. But their answer in the end is this: If we face ourselves, if we forgive ourselves we can have new life. We must face ourselves but we cannot forgive ourselves.

Forgiveness must come from the one we’ve wronged. Yes, we’ve wronged ourselves but we’ve also wronged the one who made us. Let’s say you’re experimenting with some fireworks or plastic explosives in the family car. You cut the wrong wire or you light the wrong end and badda-bing badda-boom you’ve just turned the family car in to a burning, fizzing, shooting, smoldering pyrotechnics display for the whole neighborhood. Well, understandably you’re depressed after that. Not only because you’ve been grounded indefinitely and you’ve been expressly forbidden not to play with plastic explosives again, but because you’ve destroyed in one action both your families means of transportation and your own future hope of having a vehicle to drive when you’re 21 which is the approximate age your parents will un-ground you. Then one day you come to grips with the fact that you did a terrible thing and you decide to forgive yourself for what you’ve done. How do you think you’re family would react if you told them “I’ve forgiven myself so let’s move on?” You need to ask for forgiveness against the one you’ve wronged.

A long time ago, in a land far far away there lived another rock star. His world was crashing down around him. His people had done many awful things and he himself had done some particularly nasty things, as rock stars are wont to do. But he felt bad about what he’d done so just like Chester Bennington he wrote a song. And it went a little something like this:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment….

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy or your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The rock star was king David, the track was “when Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” The album was the Psalms it’s in the bible (ESV).

This rock star goes to a different place to find forgiveness. To find cleansing, to really deal with his sin he goes to God. Here’s the good news. God is. He’s real. I understand why Chester (the lead singer of Linkin Park) is facing himself. He doesn’t think God is real. He is real. And here’s even better news. He forgives. Confess to him what you’ve done and he’ll forgive you. Mercy will come, but it only comes through God. And just as your sin is and was really big, so too is the price God paid to ransom you back. He paid a lot of money for this car wash, you were one dirty car. But He paid the price of his first and only son. He gave his son so that he might have you.