This past week my wife Katie and I attended the Spirit Song music festival at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, OH. It was a great three days! We spent each day at the parks enjoying the attractions and the time spent with our friends. Our evenings were filled with music from some of the most well known Christian artists and bands in the country. It was an opportunity for us to hear some great Christian music from several artists all in one place. There was a wide range of musical genre and while some of these bands were newer, up and coming artists, others were well established. If you get a chance, go next year because you won’t be disappointed.
Now, for the sake of full disclosure, my idea of fun at an amusement park consists of sitting on a park bench watching people and eating “Dippin Dots”! Although I have always been a little bit of a daredevil during my life, my daring feats were usually on a level not more than 15 ft off the ground, so riding a rollercoaster that has two hills over 200 ft tall is not my thing. If it’s your thing…Great…but God made this guy to stay on the ground! As a side note, I will have you know that I didn’t succumb to the peer pressure either…even though it was all in good fun...I think.
Moving on… there were two things that I observed and thought about over these 3 days of fun that I wanted to share my thoughts on. The first one is how fickle we are as humans. We live in a society where we will run over people to get to where we are going, and then we’ll willingly stand in a line at an amusement park without complaint for 2 hours! Some of these people standing patiently in line, will also be the first one’s to run you over in the parking lot when their leaving! Our society doesn’t like to conform to anything, so watching people being herded around through a maze of bars and ropes was interesting and thought provoking to say the least.
After watching this play out several times each day, I started thinking about my life as a Christian. Is my Christian faith conforming to the worlds view? The bible tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. These park goers were willing to conform for a period of time so they could have the chance for a brief moment of exhilaration. The questions for each of us revolve around our willingness to be transformed to God’s plan for our lives. Are we willing to walk between the boundaries of God’s narrow path for the promise of eternal life with God? Am I allowing my life to be transformed to what God’s word tells me my faith is supposed to be or is it being conformed by the world?
Over the years, I believe that Christians have allowed our faith to be conformed to what the world and our leaders have told us it should be. Rather than seeking God’s divine plan for us, we have chosen to conform. If we did make a stand, we chose to use the world’s tools to address our countries problems and issues. We tried to use our alleged political clout to legislate morality and our Christian beliefs. I think history is showing us that this approach has not worked real well and I don’t believe that approach is biblical or was ever modeled by Jesus either.
We need to be what we are supposed to be as Christians…different!! We need to be different is such away that it causes those outside of Christ to want to know why we are different. Our lives need to project Christ daily during the good and the bad times. Instead, we conform to the what the world tell us we should be and we further alienate the very people Jesus cared most about…the lost. We need to be praying and building relationships with those that are lost. We need to turn our face back to God and put him back in the forefront of our country. Real change in this country will not happen until the individuals within this country start to change themselves first. That means that for those of us that profess to be born again Christians we need to get out of the line the world has us in and stop conforming to its ways. We need to put God back at the front of our lines.
The second thing that stood out for me came from a point that Jeremy Camp made during his concert. He told a story about how his young daughter would tell him “I love you this much” while she stretched out her hands as far as she could. It’s easy to relate to this because we have all done this when we were younger or heard our own kids say this. One day Jeremy’s daughter had an ice cream cone in one hand and he asked her how much do you love me? She paused this time, looked at her ice cream, and then repeated the same line, “I love you this much”, but this time only one hand was held outstretched while the other was held close to her, firmly clutching her ice cream cone. He went on to talk about how Christ held His arms out wide on the cross and as the nails pierced his hands He said to each of us, “I love you this much”!
What are we holding onto in our life? What do we have in our life that we love more than God? Maybe it’s our hobbies or our possessions? Could it be our spouses, kids or family? I think all of us have something that we are clutching onto. It’s easy to surrender the things in our life that are not going so well and say “Uh, God, I need your help down here!” It’s not an easy thing to let go of everything, but Jesus says we must. In Luke 14:26 Jesus tells us, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. Jesus isn’t meaning “hate” as you and I understand it, but instead He wants you and me to love Him more than anything else in our lives.
One of the great gifts that a Mother has is the gift of sacrifice. A mother will sacrifice everything for her kids. She is often the last one to eat at dinner and no matter how hungry she is, she will surrender every bit of the food on her plate to take care of her children if they are still hungry. If we’re going to serve God the way he wants us to, then we have to be willing to surrender every single thing on our plate of life for Him. We have to stretch out both arms and let go of everything we’re hanging onto, no matter what it is. When we let God have every area of our lives, then He can truly use us to do some great things for His kingdom.
I have always been willing to let God have what I think He should have. It was usually never anything good though, because it has mostly been the areas in my life that I have made a mess of. While I am learning everyday how to let God have all of my life, it has not been without some struggles. It’s hard to let go of all the areas of our lives, but when we keep Him in front of us then the big picture becomes much clearer. That’s what faith is all about. We serve an awesome and a gracious God. He is not some abstract entity, but a loving and living being that knew us before he formed us. We were created for a relationship with Him and when we decide to engage in a true relationship with Him then we find a peace in our lives that we never knew existed.
I come away from this weekend knowing even more how much God loves me. I will be doing some soul searching this week and asking myself, “What’s my ice cream cone? What’s keeping me from stretching both arms outward and saying, “I love you this much, Jesus”!
Choose to have a good week!