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Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fellowship & Testify

My oldest son, Casey (16) , is leaving this Sunday for his first church retreat. It's for high school aged kids and they're going to the Gulf Shores in Alabama where they've rented condo's for a week. Mark was raised Baptist and went on youth retreats every year. I was raised atheist and, well, they didn't have a camp. :)
We belong to Fellowship Church, which is a non-denominational church. Casey goes with us every Sunday and he takes Charlie every Wednesday for youth group. (I say 'takes' because sometimes we kind of have to give Charlie a nudge to go on Wednesdays) Casey also goes every Sunday night to a Baptist Church that some of his friends belong to. He never misses these three services a week. If we don't go one Sunday, Casey will go alone. If Charlie can't go on Wednesday, Casey has no problem going without him. The Sunday night teen service at the Baptist Church had been discontinued for the summer, so Casey got kids together to play football or basketball at the church with the church's permission.
We had a parent meeting last Wednesday at the Baptist Church, to get all the information turned in and everything settled. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was so overwhelmed at all the kids there, and...yeah, the kind of kids. I guess, from the way I was raised, I was thinking there would be a bunch of geeky kids there. Not that Casey is geeky...nowhere to go with that that keeps my foot outta my mouth, huh? But anyway, my point is, they weren't geeky. Some of our schools best athletes were there, girls with too many piercings for me not to stare at them were there, kids dressed in what I considered rebellious clothing and even 'goth' attire were there. When we walked in, they may have all looked different, but they all treated each other the same. They'd all greet each other in a hug, and not just the southern hospitality but keep your distance kind of hug, I mean big ole 'give me a hug brother' kind of hugs. It was awesome.
When the youth pastor opened with a word of prayer, I saw every kids head go down and I saw some hands raised, I saw kids holding hands and I saw every kid there showing respect to their youth pastor and more importantly to God, their Father. I began to cry. Openly, yeah, I did. I cried. I don't know when I was last touched by His love so much. I couldn't contain it. It overflowed and I wept.
I am so thankful for the love of God these kids have. I'm thankful for whoever or whatever brought them to the Lord and I'm thankful for all the lives they've yet to touch themselves. How amazing it is to see the Word of God being planted and sent forth to bear fruit in these young men and women. How thankful I am that my son is in the midst of them.
Friday I went to one of our local Christian book stores and bought Casey his first adult bible. He's had his children's bible and he had his teen bible. They told us at the meeting they'd like for the kids to bring the NIV version if they had it, because that was what they would be teaching their lessons from. I bought Casey a beautiful black leather Life's Applications Study Bible, and his name is being engraved (imprinted) on the cover of it. I get it on Tuesday and I can't wait to surprise him with it. I hope it will be used, written in, prayed over and witnessed from for many, many, many years to come.
Casey graduates high school next year (May of 2007) and I am so proud of the man of God I see him becoming every single day. I see that it's not something that he's stumbled into, but a decision he makes daily. His spirit cries out for fellowship with the Father, and I am so thankful that the Father has provided a road for him to follow. I'm thankful that I've been allowed to witness it, it truly is one of my greatest blessings.

I come to You humbled by Your love. I lay my sins at Your feet and ask for Your forgiveness.
I ask You, Lord, to provide a safe trip and haven for this group of young adults and for those who have given of their time and money to make this trip possible. I pray that Your Spirit will be received by each person attending this trip, that Your angels will provide safety for them every second they are gone and that they will be a blessing and a true witness of You to everyone they meet on their journey.
I thank You, Father, for my son and his desire to know You more. In the name of Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen