This weekend was the glorious Mid-Winter Youth Retreat. A complete and total blast, I must say. My favorite preacher, Rev. Mark Johnston, was the speaker, and the music was coordinated by IBC Praise. On Friday night, service began at 8 PM, but Bro.Johnston didn't get into the pulpit until about 10. He preached about "Jacob's Passion", taking his scripture from the story of the birth of Jacob and Esau. (I say this because I don't remember the exact text)
Before their birth, Rebekah could sense that something was wrong with the baby she was carrying. The way Bro. Johnston put it, he said that things became so bad that Rebekah probably wished that Isaac's prayer that her womb would be opened (she was barren for 19 years) had never been prayed. She went to the Lord and asked her why this was happening to her. God answered-(Genesis 25:23)
The LORD said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."
When Esau and Jacob were born, Esau came out first, very red and hairy. Isaac and Rebekah named him Esau because of what he looked like. When Jacob came out, he was clutching onto his brothers heel. This showed some form of struggle. Jacob saw an opportunity to take advantage of the chance to get out first. This is because he had a purpose. He didn't know what it was, he might not have even been very aware of it yet, but he had a purpose and he was eager to get to it quickly. Bro.Johnston continued to go through the different trials that Jacob faced, showing his passion to see God, until he finally wrestled with God. The big difference between the two brothers was that Jacob was named for his passion, he sought to see God, he was not appeased by the status quo, and strove to do more than was needed, while Esau was named for his appearance, sought to maintain for the moment, was happy to remain in his comfort zone, and was happy to just squeak by. There are plenty of Christians out in the world today who are Esaus. They look the part. They are so focused on the outward appearance that they have lost their burden for the lost and all they will ever be known for is being "the girl with the long hair and skirt", their appearance, and never reach their full potential. Then there are the Jacobs. They strive to make a difference. They have a passion, a calling. They will do something great for God. And the thing about them is that they are the person that you would least expect to be used greatly. They are the ones who don't have the money to dress right, or don't look the part. They are the outcasts, the ones everyone makes fun of. They don't care. All they know is that they have a passion and will do whatever it takes to achieve it. The alter call was amazing. People deep in prayer, crying and worshipping. There was such a great presence of the Lord in that place.
After service was over, we headed off to the Chiller for food, fellowship, and ice-skating. I love this part of the retreat because it is the one time between camp and camp that we get to see all of our friends. The guy I have like for ever (hence known as 9-year-guy or 9YG) was there and much to my dismay, had decided to attempt to grow a goatee. Ew. It looked like he had seriously missed a spot shaving. I felt like going up to him and saying "9YG, you know, you look like a weed-hacker decided to attempt to eat your face." But I refrained. And his dad made him shave it off before this mornings service. I knew I liked him.
We got back from the Chiller at about 3 AM. We went to bed at 4:30 AM. I got up at 7:45. Not good times. I took a shower, and made myself look beautiful (I actually think I looked semi-cute, too IMNSHO) Bro. Johnston preached again on a similar topic. The title was "Where is the next Shamgar?"
And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
Shamgar had been told from the time of his birth that his people were worth next to nothing. The Philistines had encaptured his people and disarmed them. They took their swords and spears but allowed them to keep their ox goads. For those of you (like me) who don't know what an ox goad is, it is a stick with a pointed end, for prodding oxen, and an end shaped into a shovel, for planting. The Philistines only allowed these people to keep the things that allowed them to make their living, to maintain the status quo. They were able to go down to the Philistines camp and sharpen their goads once per year. The Philistines probably thought when they saw Shamgar coming to get the goad sharpened, "Look at that worthless little lazy Israelite. What could he possibly do." And Shamgar took the little that he had, the only weapon allowed to him, and wiped out the Philistines. The signifigance of this, Bro.Johnston said, was that God took something seemingly meaningless, meant to serve a minor purpose in maintaining the norm, and used it to do a mighty work. Because of this, nobody has the excuse to say that they don't have what they need to do something great. God can take the most insignifigant detail, use it, and make it great. It was yet another amazing service.
In short, I highly recommend buying the DVD's or CD's or tapes of the retreat. They are so encouraging and uplifting, and definately worthwhile.