In a few days my family and I will pack up and head over to Winema Christian Camp for Week of Missions. It’s an annual trek that we look forward to. I’ve been thinking about how important this week is to me and my ministry and what God consistently does through it.
The first of August is a finish line of sorts. The ministry year begins in September and speeds toward the following summer. Week of Missions provides the space to reflect on the local church and what’s gone on during the previous year. There are great things, surprising things and disappointing things that have taken place. It’s helpful to pause and reflect on them all.
Week of Missions reminds me that God is working outside of my zip code. It is awesome and inspiring to hear what God is doing around the world and how the Kingdom of Heaven is advancing. It’s the kind of jet fuel I need along the way. Renewal is something we all need and my ‘passion tank’ is filled up every year at Week of Missions.
During times of worship and prayer I hear God’s prompting, and this is certainly true at Week of Missions. With my passion for the local church’s ministry being filled to the brim, this week gives me the time and space to pray about the year ahead. Entire preaching series have been birthed while walking along the road at Winema. New ministry directions have come into view there in the Missions Building. It’s fantastic!
There’s something about changing your place and pace that gives room for the Holy Spirit to lead you in new ways.
Then there’s the playing in the sand with my children. I love that! And the ocean is awesome. I’m looking forward to Week of Missions.
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I now have 3 teenaged daughters in my home. Alisa and I gave them each a ring on their 13th birthdays. It could be considered a ‘purity ring’ but there’s so much more behind it. What’s behind the ring is their lifetime of love and investment from us as their parents. What comes along with the ring is a conversation. It’s not the first conversation and won’t be the last, but it’s a significant one. It’s monumental as they enter the teenage years. It’s given with our loving hearts that want God’s best for our daughters.
If you have a daughter, you might do something similar. Below is the heart of the message. What was cool about it this 3rd time is that the older sisters were in the kitchen too. It was a communal family discussion and served as a reminder to the older ones about the rings they wear.
Tithe Your Life
Most people understand the teenage years to be one of rebellion and foolish decisions. While that may be normal, it doesn’t have to happen that way. In the Bible the idea of tithing is connected to our resources. We’re to honor God by giving back to him 10% of everything He blesses us with. Here’s the challenge: ‘tithe your life!’
The Bible says that the length of a person’s life is 70 years, and maybe 80 if they have the strength. Your life is a great gift from God. What would it mean if you gave back to him a tithe of your life? It just so happens that there are 7 years of being a teenager. Count them. What would it mean for the rest of your life if you pursued Jesus with all of your heart during these years? Instead of being marked by foolishness and irresponsibility, what would your life look like when you turned 20 if you had tithed your life to God?
(The thing about tithing is that 100% of your resources belong to God. Tithing is how you honor Him with what He’s blessed you with. The same is true for your life. It’s 100% God’s. You’ll continue to be led by Him in your 20s and 30s, just don’t wait until then to give your life to Him.)
Our Human Sexuality
A big part of life is our sexuality. God has created us as sexual beings and we are to honor Him with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). As you ‘tithe your life to God’ in your teenage years, this is an important part. Honoring God with your sexuality is the best way to live! We want you not to give pieces of your heart away to various young men during these years, but rather to guard your heart. We are praying for God to provide a young man for you to whom you could give your whole self to. We believe God will provide a husband for you, but we want you to save your heart for him.
People get involved physically because one or both of them have given their heart to the other. The heart always goes first. So guard your heart and your sexual purity will naturally follow.
Your Dad’s Not Twitterpated
If God provides a husband for you, do you know how you will know? (Listening) Here’s how you’ll know, God will tell your dad. I will know if this young man is God’s provision for you! (Laughter…) Seriously, I will know. And I promise to tell you when you ask me.
You might think that you will know if ‘he’s the one’, but you won’t. You won’t know because you’ll be twitterpated. I promise you that I WON’T be twitterpated by any young man that comes knocking on the door of your heart. I won’t. I will be more in love with you than him. I will want what’s best for you and that will rule my heart and mind. I may not be totally objective, but I will be thorough! And God will tell me if this young man is the one for you.
What I’ll be looking for, and what you should be looking for too, is a young man who loves Jesus more than he loves you. You don’t want a guy who says ‘I love you more than anyone else!’ I don’t care how cute his puppy dog eyes are… that’s the wrong answer! He needs to love Jesus more than you if he’s going to love you the way I want you to be loved.
If you keep this bar high, you’ll need to be patient. Most young men these days are consumed, not with God, but with video games. If he pauses his Xbox in order to txt you back, I’m not impressed. Some call that true love. That’s funny. I’m not laughing.
Keep your standards high. Doing so will mean that it might be a long time before God provides the right guy for you. Don’t settle for second best. Don’t stress out when all of your friends are getting married and you’re not. They’re probably settling for the Xbox kid, don’t you do it.
It is better to be married to the right person for 20 years than the wrong person for 40. Be patient and trust God. Trust me too. I love you and have your best interest at heart.
So wear your 13th birthday ring with this understanding and let it remind you of who you are and who you are saving your heart for. When people ask about it, tell them, ‘My parents gave it to me for my birthday!’