This past weekend, my wife and I had the opportunity to help at a youth retreat that our two children attended with other kids from our church’s youth group. Like most events involving teens and preteens, there was a lot of activity, food, laughter and little sleep.
But the important part of the weekend, the meat in the sandwich, were a series of lessons we did together about how to put Jesus Christ first in our lives. Now, these are church kids and youth group kids, so this is a message that shouldn’t be unfamiliar to them. But, they’re just like us adults in that a simple message can often get confused when you’re living in the everyday world of U.S. culture.
So, it was very helpful when our youth pastor, Mat Ingram, went over passages like the story of the rich, young ruler in Mark 10:17-27 or how we will reap what we sow as it talks about in Galatians 6. It was good to sit there knowing all these kids were hearing these things without the distractions of everyday, normal teen life bearing in on them.
Along with the messages, we would also watch testimonies from various people called “I am second.” The idea was that instead of striving to be the most important person in their lives, these people had seen the light and made Jesus No. 1 in their life. It was good for these kids — all of us, really — to see that everything this world has to offer is never going to be as satisfying as what Christ has to offer us.
Here is what Jason Castro, of American Idol fame, had to say about being second to Jesus Christ:
Lots of people in life have their ideas of what’s real and what’s not and sometimes they think faith isn’t real and I feel bad for them. But there were times on the show when I wouldn’t laugh at a joke and they were like, “Are you really that religious?” And I would tell them, “I just don’t think it’s that funny. I don’t think it’s right or something to laugh about it.” It is a challenge to stand up for what’s right, especially when it’s not cool, but being cool is overrated. Cool is a joke, cool is a perception and I don’t think it’s real. What is real? God is real, God is cool. I wish more people knew the real God and how cool it really is. Just imagine something bigger than you like your dad when you were a kid, you just want to know about him, and he can do so many things you can’t, and there’s something very cool about that.
And there are more great testimonies of the way God does great things for humble people, including Darrell Waltrip, Brian Welch (formerly with Korn), Greg Ellis and Stephen Baldwin.
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