14:22 kicked off Spring Tour a few days ago with bookings in Duluth and Bemidji Minnesota, and now we are in Boissevain, Manitoba! I am really excited to be on the road again with my team, and excited for all that God has in store for us for our final tour.
As we kicked off this tour, Elisa challenged each of us on the team to think of one word to be our “theme word” for this tour. God put on my heart to make joy a point of emphasis for this tour.
Thinking back over this year and even over my life before CTI, I have realized that in times of hardship that I sometimes let misery overwhelm me instead of the joy of the Lord. Hardships, tribulations, and times of trouble are simply a fact of life in a broken world. But in the face of hardships, we know that the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
One of the pastors at my home church defined joy very simply as an inner optimism and excitement about the Gospel and about the great work that God is doing in our lives. He went on to say that joy is not at all about just trying to feel happy all the time, especially in times of hardship. That kind of false happiness is simply unrealistic and disingenuous. The Bible contains many passages of grief and mourning over loss and hardship, and even a whole book of Lamentations! Joy isn’t the opposite of sadness. But joy comes from knowing that God has the last word for our lives, and that he loves us so deeply that he died for us, and then conquered death with his glorious resurrection!
It isn’t wrong to feel sad or upset in the face of hard times. But it is dangerous to let misery and despair take the place of our joy in Christ.
My hope and prayer is that we would all come to deeper and deeper understanding of the Gospel, and that from that knowledge we would be fillled with uncontainable joy! And I pray that the joy of the Lord would be our strength for every part of our lives.
Whelp everyone we’ve done it.
Today, 14:22 played its final program of Winter Tour in Spring Green Wisconsin. These past thirteen weeks have been a real trip, we’ve been through Twenty-Two states and a Canadian province, played at numerous venues and made countless new friends. We have been super blessed by all of our ministry contacts and hosts these past weeks and though tour has been exhausting, God has totally been at work through each and every one of us throughout this tour and I can’t wait to see what He has for us next. Tomorrow we head back to good old Minnesota to debrief and then we get a much needed Easter break. Here are just a few highlights from our Winter Tour…
Tobogganing in Iowa
Rockford Rescue Mission in Illinois
Soaking up the sun in Florida
YFC camp in Ontario
Last venue of the tour!
After spending some time at the beach and Dutch Village in Zeeland, Michigan, our team made our way to Portage to play at Berean Baptist Church. About a year ago, my previous team had the privilege of playing quite a few shows here. This church was very memorable for me, and I’m so glad I got to come back here with 14:22 this year! The youth group, hosts and church members are just as kind, welcoming and supportive as I remember!
At this time last year, I wrestled with whether or not I should come back to serve with CTI for another year. It was at this church that God spoke to me and convicted me that I loved my own comfort more than God. I knew I needed to obey God, surrender to Him and give up my own desires: so I told God, “Yes.” That was a BIG decision, because I was committing to another year of ministry on the road that I knew would be full of hardships, challenges and sacrifices. But one year later, I can say that I’m glad I made that decision.
As I look back on this year, I see glimpses of why He brought me back, even though I initially had no idea why. The people I’ve met, ministered to, the people who have blessed me, the places that I’ve been…He knew that all in advance. Now, He led me back to the same church where it all started. God calls us to obey Him and follow Him, no matter what the cost! As I shared with the youth group that night, I challenged them to do the same.
I may not always understand why God wants me to do certain things, but He always knows what He’s doing and it is ALWAYS worth it. I will never regret saying “Yes” to God and “No” to myself. If Jesus gave His life to save me when I could not save myself, how can I not offer everything to Him! My obedience is a response to the love and grace He has poured out on me. What a JOY it should be for us as believers to obey, serve and worship Him with our lives!
“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”… For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
1 Peter 1:14-16; 18-19 (NLT)
So I challenge you, what is God calling you to do today? Will you listen to His voice and obey? It could be as simple as choosing to get up a bit earlier to spend more time with Him. It could be responding to God’s call to begin a new ministry opportunity He has placed in front of you. Whatever it may be, no matter how big or small, every YES you say to God is always worth it. SAY YES to Him in faith today!
We love the beach! Hello, Lake Michigan!
Hello from Marmora, Ontario! This week we have had the privilege of being a part of a YFC March Break youth camp, held at Marmora Pentecostal Church. Joel, the director, has brought in middle to high school aged youth from the community to put on a day camp for elementary to middle school youth. We have been brought on to help lead the events and to lead worship and share the Gospel and our stories as a part of the morning and evening events for the older kids putting on the camp.
It’s been a blast! We have gotten to play all kinds of high-energy games with the kids from Squirt to Dutch Blitz to dodgeball to basketball and even Manhunt in the snow. And all the while we have had so many awesome opportunities to be examples of what it is like to follow Christ for the youth at the camp. Playing and serving alongside the kids has opened the door for us to share the love of Christ with them through our words and music and from Joel’s messages.
During one of the basketball games, I was cheering for one of my teammates after he scored a basket, and one of the younger kids ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. It made my day!
I can really tell that the kids are beginning to grasp more and more what it means to live in the light of the Gospel and the love of God through our time together in this camp. God can work through our simple actions to have an awesome impact for his kingdom.