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Archive for December, 2015

(This post is to give you a feel of what a retreat with Impact is like)

 

… Nov 6-8 2015…Retreat Weekend…Impact Christian Fellowship…At the base of Hunter Mountain in the Catskills…

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At the overlook of the North South Lake campgrounds.  Back row from left to right: Sarah, James, Carlton, Lynn, Kevin, Nick, Zack, Charles, Kevin, Chris.  Front row from left to right: Simone, Taylor, Steph, Jon.

 

 

 

On Friday, as 14 students and myself packed clothes into suitcases and suitcases in to cars and ourselves around the suitcases in said packed cars, Impact headed on retreat!  Our months of lessons are culminating in a weekend of holistic teaching that includes the community, mind, and body!

We are leaving the class room behind, and going into the woods to see what it looks like to walk a literal path, and how that will teach us how easy it is to stray from God’s path.

We started months ago talking Genesis 1, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We talked about the specific land God is giving them, and their role they are to play, “I will bless you so that you may be a blessing.”  God has put His people in a specific location to bless the people that will pass through the crossroads of the earth, the land of Israel.

God wants to bless not only Isreal, but all of Usreal (“Usreal” Can I trademark that?)

Why does this God want to take care of us so much?  All other gods want to be served, but this god comes to serve?

Friday night: Lesson 1: How Does God see us?

In Exodus, God shows His love for us in a wedding (starting in Genesis 15 actually).  He brings His beloved out of Egypt and takes them to Sinai where the middle eastern reader sees all the aspects of a marriage.  A cleansing in the Red Sea, a covering of smoke, an exchange of vows, and a desert honeymoon.  God loves His bride, us.  We need to know this.  Our God isn’t in some far off place, judging, waiting, and scheming, but instead desires to be as close to us as a husband is to his wife.  God desires to take his bride and put her in the center of the world, for all to see, for she will represent Him to all people.

Saturday morning: Lesson 2: What is our response?  It isn’t good.

Hosea is a prophet, the voice of God to His people.  What is the message that Hosea is told to give to the people of Israel?  Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.This is verse 2 of chapter 1.  Straight to it.

How does God see us?  As His beloved!  How do we see Him?  Not well.  Hosea describes how we have turned from God:

(She is referring to the people of Isreal)

She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
    who give me my food and my water,
    my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
    I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
    she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
    ‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
    for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
    who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
    which they used for Baal.

The Lord provides for us, and we turn and say others have.  He gives grain and wine.  He gives us gold that we use for worship of Baal…

Don’t fret, for the prophets also bring something else, they bring hope.

Hosea 14:9:

Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.

Saturday Afternoon: Lesson 3: Into The Woods!

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Into the woods!

“The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” 

This lesson is the favorite lesson of many people.  Every aspect teaches.  We went to a local park and quickly left the road for a trail along the lake.  Our lake side hike is a lesson in what it means to follow and how to show the people who come behind you the path.

Know this, a rabbi only allows you to follow him if he believes you can walk as he walks, that you can understand the Torah and live it as he lives it.

“Come follow me as we go into the woods, walk as I walk.”

Already the message is tangible.  The line forms behind me as I am already being engulfed in trees and the people in the rear begin to rely on the people in front of them to know where to go.

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A great place for a lesson! 

After a couple minutes, I step up and over a boulder instead of the easy path around it.  How well are we willing to follow?  The next person steps on the boulder… so does the 3rd… the fourth doesn’t… nor the fifth ,sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth… until the fourteenth.  He accidentally finds the path as he steps up on the bedrock for a better photo.

How can we expect others to know the path that God desires for us if we ourselves aren’t looking for it?  If we don’t walk it and model it to others, what hope will they have?  With luck, they might stumble across it, but we could all have walked it if we followed the one who goes before us.

(Such a good day)

The hike is full of these lessons.

People like to go ahead of the leader, or walk next to him, or not even be close.  Some like to follow right behind and see everything that is going on, others hang back to help the group traverse creeks without falling in.

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Zack performing his best John the Baptist in 45 degree water

We ended at a lake where we heard the call of John the Baptist to turn from our way, a way that is different than God’s and to turn back and return to the path of righteousness.

Sunday Morning: Lesson 4:  As you are going…

(some back story for the reader:  Our weekly studies have focused on who God’s people are: hospitable, caring, forgiving people, who are to put him on display to the world. We have focused on where God has put his people: Israel, the center between two major cities.  Israel is located in the route people would take from Egypt to Asia.  If God wants his people to be a blessing to the world and the world passes through this area every day, this is the perfect location.)

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

I love that we see early on, the job of the God fearer is to be other focused.  We see that for, I think literally, every story.  We see that for Abraham, we see that given by Moses in Deuteronomy, from an Israeli slave girl in Kings, and the church in Acts.  We see that God has put His people in a location to be a blessing, not sometime in the future, but now, right now.   Consistently we fall short.  Continually we turn away.  God is always calling us back to Him, because He loves His bride.

We might lose the path, but if we will come back, and focus on the One who goes before us, and fall in line with a Paul who is asking us to follow him and he follows Christ, there will be more rejoicing in Heaven than many people who never fall away and choose to return.

 

We have been placed here in the world.  The students are at UAlbany.  I am in Latham, you are ___________.  They are students, I am a campus minister, you are a ___________.  God has placed in where we are to be a blessing.  He has placed us where we are to walk His path, and talk about His ways, and in that we will reach the world around.

 

Where do we have more influence than where God has placed us and given us influence, friends, and family? With strangers?

As I look at our closing scripture for the retreat, Matthew 28:19-20, I am reminded that God’s call is the same from the beginning.

 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

I heard a smarter man than me say we could also translate this “As you are going, make disciples…”

The call has never been to go.  The call has always been as you are going, follow God.  If you lose the path, come back, for He loves unconditionally.

As you are going, follow Him, sing His praises, following the one who goes before you, and teaching others to do the same.

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