Recharging Your Batteries

Posted: July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

batteries

Portable electronic devices such as tablets and cell phones are becoming indispensable parts of our lives.  We use them to stay in contact with our friends and family, to find our way when driving, to stay on top of news and weather, and to Google the answers to any questions we may be presented with in the course of the day.  They are also becoming a primary source of entertainment, providing our movies, movies, TV shows and games.  The more we rely on our phones and other electronic devices and the more they are ingrained in our lives, the more susceptible we are to the unspeakable tragedy of a dead battery.  In order to prevent this from happening, heavy phone users are very meticulous, always keeping their batteries charged.  At Kinney’s it can be hard to find a free electrical outlet because all of the receptacles have a phone charger belonging to one employee or another plugged in and ready to charge whenever the need arises.  Just in case you are away from an electrical outlet, they have invented this neat device called a power bank.  You charge it up and take it with you wherever you go.  If your phone needs a charge, you just plug it into the power bank and voila … you can charge your phone.  I bought one, and then I bought a cord, which is even cooler … it has multiple plugs – one for my phone, one for my iPad and one for my iPod.  I’m set!

The important point to remember is that the batteries in our devices get depleted.  It’s unavoidable.  To keep them running, we need to periodically charge them.  We need to plug in to a power source. 

The same is true with our lives.  Life is difficult.  Life is demanding.  We wear down and we get tired.  Often we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t eat well and we don’t take care of our bodies.  We are at risk for stress, exhaustion and burnout.  We also experience this in our spiritual lives.  Even as Christians, we are not exempted from the stress, the pressure and the weariness.  In  Mark 6 we read that Jesus had sent his disciples out in pairs on a mission trip.  They were empowered to do what they had seen Jesus do – they preached, they drove out demons and they healed the sick.  When they eventually returned, they gathered around Jesus and gave a full report of all the things they had done and what they had taught.  There was so much going on around them with the large crowd of followers that they couldn’t even make the time to eat, so Jesus said to the twelve disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Jesus recognized that they were tired and spent, and that their spiritual batteries were in need of charging. 

Have you ever been there?  I know I have.  The problem is that being a disciple of Christ is a 24/7 thing, and it is not really possible to pace yourself.  I’ve told this story before – a few years ago, the youth group in Odessa had seen a speaker that they really liked.  He lived in Sarasota, FL and was the drummer of a Christian rock band in addition to speaking to groups.  He gave me a business card and a few months later we started communicating and Betsy and I arranged for him to come to Odessa to do a youth rally and to preach at the Sunday worship service.  His plane came in Saturday night and Betsy and I met him at the airport, took him out to eat and got him settled into his hotel.  The next day we spent most of the day driving him to and from the church and to meals, and getting the church set for the rally.  The rally went well and we spent some time afterward talking and getting the church cleaned up.  We took him back to his hotel, Betsy and I returned home and finally dropped into bed at about 11 PM.  I told Betsy, “If we aren’t broke and exhausted, we aren’t doing it right.”  Serving God is difficult, and like the disciples, there are times when we need to be recharged.  We need to go to a quiet place, alone with Jesus, and get some rest.

The past 16 years, my place of rest and recharging has been the Kingdom Bound Christian music festival, held each summer at Darien Lake Theme Park.  It is a road trip that we take with the Odessa youth group and it recharges me in so many ways.  Spending 3 or 4 days 24/7 with anywhere from 15 to 25 teenagers is a family bonding experience.  I also get some time with Betsy and look forward to iced coffee from the General Store, sitting and catching our breath in one of the shady, breezy spots, and an evening coffee from Tim Horton’s.  I love going through the merchandise tent, riding the Motocoaster and the Pirate Ship and the group gathering to do the bumper cars (usually they are all chasing Betsy and/or me).  I love my sleeping bag and cot after a long day at  the park, and a shower and hot breakfast in the morning.  Most of all, I love the Kingdom Bound programming – the speakers and music.  There are some concerts and speakers during the day, but the main event begins at about 5:30 in the evening at the performing arts center.  If you have never been there, it is a huge open tent with a stage at the front and a big lawn extending back from the last seats.  The tent and lawn will accommodate about 30,000 people and it is filled by the time the evening speaker and headlining musical acts take the stage.  It is an awe-inspiring experience to be surrounded by a crowd of fellow believers of this size.  There are people from all denominations and backgrounds, youth groups and church groups, people who came with their families, young, old, black, white, Asian, people very mature in their faith and those who are just taking the first steps of their faith journey.  But we are all there for the same purpose, we all worship the same God and the differences fall away.  For 3 days, we were one big church family singing together, praying together and just soaking it all in together.  You can feel God’s presence. 

Before we left, I had been thinking about how much this trip recharges me, and the general idea for this message was beginning to take shape.  And as happens almost every year, the artists and speakers seemed to be speaking directly to the issues on my mind.  Over and over again in songs, in teaching and in the speakers’ messages I heard them talk about “refreshing”, “renewing” and “restarting”.  It made me think about the scene in Acts when the Holy Spirit descended and all of the people heard the conversations in their own native languages.  Maybe as the Holy Spirit descended on Darien Lake everyone’s heart and mind were opened so that we could hear the words we needed to hear. 

We arrived at the park on Thursday morning and many of us decided to see a talk by Luke and Joel Smallbone from the band For King and Country who would be the night’s headlining concert.  They are dedicated to the idea that women are priceless and they emphasize that women and girls should treat themselves as being valuable … they should not settle for dressing, acting or being treated like they’re worthless.  They also speak to the boys and men and encourage us to treat women like a princess, because each one is a daughter of the King.  This idea turned into a song, entitled “Priceless” and is now being made into a film, also entitled “Priceless” which will be in theaters in October.  We got to see clips from the movie and had a question and answer session with Luke and Joel.  It was a very powerful time.  We went to the Performing Arts Center and settled in in time to see a new band called Stars Go Dim.  They did a version of the Doxology that includes additional verses.  It was very cool, and I’ll share it with you sometime down the road.  The song that really captured my attention was one called “Walking Like Giants” which talked about not giving up when we face difficulties or when struggles come.  We can face whatever comes because we have God inside, and with every step of life we can be walking like giants.  The speaker for the evening was one we have seen several times.  His name is Reggie Dabbs and he is a big, jovial, energetic black man.  His story is that he was born of a prostitute.  She sold herself for $20 for money to buy food for her children.  She became pregnant and Reggie was the result.  She gave him up for adoption and kept her other 3 kids.  He was taken in as a foster child by Mr. and Mrs. Dabbs, who had 4 adult children, and when he was in the 4th grade they adopted him.  He was in a loving home, but could not escape the fact that he was an accident and unwanted by his birth mother.  Eventually he became a Christian and came to the realization that you can never change your past but you can change your future.  That was his message for the audience at Kingdom Bound and he reminded us that we tend to carry our failures and bad circumstances around with us like baggage and he frequently told us to “drop that bag!”  For King and Country were as good as expected.  Through their songs they urged us to love without fear, to give, to support those who are weak and to fix our eyes on Jesus.  These lyrics from the song “Shoulders” spoke to me –

“My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders.”

            The highlights from Friday included Rend Collective, a band from Northern Ireland whose energy and enthusiasm reminded me that being a Christian should be joyful and that worship is a celebration.  Matthew West was the evening’s headliner and all of his songs, are based on letters sent in from real people.  They are stories of hopelessness, fear, tragedy and the power of Jesus to turn it around.  Saturday was the last day and we saw the latest incarnation of the band Audio Adrenaline who did the song “Hands and Feet” which has been the Odessa Youth Group anthem and call to service since 1999.  We then saw the best speaker I have ever seen, Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs.  He struggled with depression and loneliness as he questioned why he was different from all the other kids. He couldn’t get past the haunting question of ‘Why was I the one born without arms and legs?”  Eventually, with the encouragement of his parents he accepted that God had a plan for him in spite of his disability (although he still keeps a pair of shoes in his closet in case God answers his prayer for legs).  Today he is an evangelist who has shared his message of hope to over 6 million people in 57 countries. He shares how his faith, which is rooted in Jesus Christ, changed his life forever.  The night ended with the hard rock band Skillet, who are one of our very favorites.  They play very loud music, and have had a lot of mainstream success, but their songs carry spiritual messages.  One of their hit songs is entitled “Hero” “and whenever the song is introduced in concert (in both Christian and secular settings), lead singer Jon Cooper says that many people attach their own meaning to the song – it’s about a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone else who can be counted on, but he says, “This is why I wrote the song – I wrote it for the number one hero in my life, who has never let me down and his name is Jesus Christ.”  We came home the next morning.  As Betsy and I put things away we talked about the trip … we had spent 3 days with a bunch of teenagers, we walked for miles every day in 90 degree heat, we ate junk, slept on cots – we should be exhausted, but we were energized.  It has to be a God thing.

            I’ve been letting it all sink in since we got back.  I’ve listened to a lot of music by Kingdom Bound artists, I’ve thought about the scriptures that were shared, the things I heard the speakers say and the lessons I learned.  I’ve reflected on the time spent with thousands of fellow believers, the time spent with the youth group and the time I spent with Betsy.  I have thought, how can these three days make me a better father and husband?  How can I be a better, more effective pastor?  Two days after we got back I  had a meeting with Nancy Adams, our District Superintendent and my boss.  It was my annual evaluation.  She had sent a list of questions which I had to answer and return to her before our meeting.  One of the questions was to tell her a scripture that held special meaning for me.  I gave her Matthew 10:27 – “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, shout from the rooftops.”  To me, that is a challenge as a pastor.  It challenges me to read and study and pray.  It challenges me to seize the opportunities to recharge myself through immersion in inspiration, prayer, music and worship.  It challenges me to listen to your stories, your concerns and your pain.  Once I have done these things I can stand here with confidence and give you those things which have been poured into me. 

            Remember that your mistakes do not define you.  You are forgiven through God’s grace and He no longer sees your past … only your potential.  Whatever burdens you carry, whatever problems you face, God is bigger than all of them.  God’s peace and comfort are bigger than worry and fear; His healing touch is stronger than illness and injury; forgiveness is bigger than bitterness; love trumps evil; and because of His life, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ defeated the grave and assured us of a place in heaven.  God created the church and it is no accident that you and I are here today.  We, together, have been a part of God’s plan since the beginning of time.  Let us use our Sunday morning time together as a time of learning, of inspiration, of commitment, and also as a time of rest, refreshment and recharging.  There may not be 30,000 of us here, but Jesus assures us that wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, He will be among them.  Soak in His presence.  Let the worries and care of life slip away.  Drink deep of the Holy Spirit.  And as you go through those doors, go with boldness, carrying the love of Christ to all you meet.  Amen.

 

 

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