Then we kicked off July with our church’s Vacation Bible School. We had over 94 enrolled and averaged 65 each night. I’m thankful for all the 51+ volunteers who helped in various ways. You did a tremendous job impacting kids with a positive experience at our church whereas many children view church as boring and irrelevant. Many of you were also a direct part of kids hearing about the unconditional love and grace of Jesus Christ. I hope you pray with me for all the seeds planted that God will reap a harvest and selfishly I pray that our church will be able to see the benefits of that!
After VBS our youth ministry traveled over ten hours to Greenville, SC for MFUGE camp. It was literally a whirlwind week as a tornado hit the campus location.
Check out this video.
Beyond that craziness the week was a huge week of spiritual impact as our students were able to serve all over the city of Greenville doing labor construction, children’s & social ministry and various other service projects. They showed that a living faith in Jesus is active in caring for the needs of others.
This coming week we have over fifteen people from our church, along with several members from a sister church going to Fayetteville, WV for a family mission trip. Again, we’ll be sharing the love of Jesus through visiting nursing homes, backyard Bible clubs in a couple neighborhoods and various other service projects that will enable us to make the gospel visible to the community. I’m excited about this trip for two reasons. The first is because it is a family trip. It’s not often that children get to serve right alongside their parents. Typically, children and youth are separated from their parents in church activities and trips. One of the focuses of this trip is for families to bond together through serving God together. The second reason I’m excited about this trip is for another opportunity to get out of our normal routines and comfort zones in order to share the gospel and serve others. Please pray for us while we’re gone.
What does the title of this blog have to do with what I’ve shared? Well, the point is many Christians can busy themselves with serving God, helping others and become preoccupied with all sorts of things yet neglect a personal relationship with God. I hear this on a regular basis from people in our church. I also experience levels of this in my own life. I call these “wash & dry times” because you know you are spiritually cleansed through salvation in Christ yet you wonder about your connectedness to God through life’s busyness & circumstances. God has forever saved those who He has called and have awakened to repentance of sin and faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus. God will never abandon his own. Dry times are not a result of God’s neglect but our own. It is when we fill our schedules and priorities with god-substitutes rather than God. Performing a task, teaching a lesson, organizing a trip, or simply vegging on more television become temporary idols. I don’t know about you but unfortunately my heart can be too easily satisfied with god-substitutes rather than the real thing – God Himself! And if we are honest with ourselves it is simply spiritual laziness and arrogance that we think we can get by for a few hours, days or even months (or longer) without desperately seeking God and communing with Him. The problem is we are seldom desperate for anything. God wants us to get to the point in our life where we realize we cannot do anything without him (John 15:5). Listen to how this person phrases it in his own life:
“my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
SO, here are a few suggestions that are helpful in dry times.
1) Find forgiveness. As I said, dry times are often a result of our spiritual laziness and arrogance. In other words, it is our sin that blocks our fellowship with God. We need to confess this sin and be specific with whatever has become our god-substitute. Do not allow pride keep you from fellowship with God and others (1 John 1:5-10). Understanding that ALL sin is against God, your dry time may not be something that has been directly against God but perhaps it is because of a disruption of fellowship between you and another. Remember, before we can worship and commune with God we must reconcile with our brother and sisters (Matthew 5:23-24).
2) Ground in the gospel. Regardless of how we may feel during these dry times the gospel says we are not loved or accepted based on our actions, thoughts or feelings. God loves me based on His perfect sacrifice on the cross and his unchanging, unconditional grace. He is unwavering in His love for me and you and our identity must stay focused on Him not ourselves. So go ahead, soak in the facts of the gospel that you are accepted, loved and called to a living relationship with the Creator of all things!
3) Peruse the Psalms. The psalms are filled with honesty about personal feelings and how we view God in the midst of trying times. Be encouraged that you are not the only person in history to have these thoughts and attitudes. And these writings come from a person God called “a man after God’s heart.” The psalms call us to see life with the grand view of how big God is. There is nothing that God cannot handle and we can trust in Him. “The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth” (Psalm 97:5).
4) Relentlessly remain. When going through dry times we are not hearing from God or feeling as we should. Our calling is to abide. It is to stay connected to Jesus as a branch is to a vine. This means we are to obey in all the little things as well as the large areas of our life. As we press on and endure the difficult times God will speak to us and remind us that He is there to guide and instruct us further. As one pastor noted, valleys are meant to be walked through, it's a passageway not a permanent mailing address. Every valley is between mountains and God will move you through the valley raising you up to the higher place. Each day and circumstance is preparation for eternity.