When the Apostle Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and die is gain.”, he may not have been thinking about student ministry, but it’s how I felt driving the van full of students singing Hamilton for what felt like an eternity. As you can imagine they had perfect pitch and harmonized with precision and poise. All that said, I loved that they were enjoying their time together. We arrived at Silver Birch Ranch just before sundown and it was a bone chilling 15 below zero but that paled in comparison to the fact that we were finally there and the potential that those next four days had.
Our theme for this year’s Winter Camp Retreat was ‘Transforming Fire’ and I shared with our students Emmanuel’s vision of Transformation and how it is worked out through Truth, Trust and Transforming Relationships for the Trials of life. After all it is through fire that we are purified and this fire is the fire God’s presence, His word and the trials of this life. Our theme verse was Hebrews 9:29- “For our God is a consuming fire.” It’s amazing to think of God’s people seeing the very power of God to deliver from slavery and then their lack of faith in the desert. That generation was led out by Moses and were called up to a mountain where they saw God’s glory and the scriptures tell us, “The appearance of the Lord’s glory to the Israelites was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop.” Exodus 24:17
We know that this generation knew God’s Truth but failed to Trust Him and were cursed to die in that wilderness, they would never enter the Promised Land. One thing they had to learn during their time in the wilderness is to have Transforming relationships, they had no option but live out God’s Truth in the context of Transforming relationships and this was not for themselves only but to model it for the next generation.
The next generation was warned not to follow in the footsteps of their parents but to listen to God’s Word (His Truth) and act upon it in faith (Trusting what He said). We read in Deuteronomy 4:23,24 “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that He made with you, and make an idol for yourselves in the shape of anything He has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Even in the time the New Testament was written God’s people were in danger of abandoning truth and trusting other things or people instead of our great God who has shown Himself faithful and trustworthy. The writer of Hebrews both encourages and warns throughout the letter but in chapter 12 specifically speaks about God’s sure discipline of both those who are His and those who are not and ends with these powerful words, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 9:28,29
There are some trials that come into our life because of our doing and others that are not but both are designed sovereignly by God for our edification. We all must endure trials in this life but we are not meant to endure them alone. We are part of the Body of Christ and as such, we are members of one another with Christ as our Head. Let us not go about living this life we have in Christ, apart from His Word and His people. This is why we exist as a local church and a student ministry to come alongside you as we are all being built up so we can say like Paul, “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.“ Colossians 1: 28,29
For His Glory,
Family Ministry Pastor