University Bible Fellowship's Easter Conference - He is Risen, indeed!
4/6/07 - Rivers and Valleys
Missionary Maria and Luke picked me up a little after 4:00 and we got on our way! The traffic was a bit heavy, though, so we were slowed down in our progress. Finally we made it onto clear roads and passed Baltimore. What a harbor! I saw the great bridge I passed over on the trip to Wallops Island. I also saw some big barges and thought of sailing songs. A while later, we passed another bridge - that over the Susquehanna River! My home river! It was very nostalgic^^
We arrived just in time for dinner. They had a packed dinner for us, which was handy, since we were in a hurry. Dinner included a kind of potato salad - ah, very Pennsylvanian. Then, we went our separate ways - the YDJ (my group - Young Disciples of Jesus) and MDJ (Mature Disciples of Jesus).
YDJ started off the evening with a service and message focused on Ezekiel 37:1-14. David P. delivered a very inspiring message - Dry, dry bones can be brought back to full and vigorous life! We can see how we were once dried up, how our love for God and our love for others was dried up; but how God brought us back to life in Him! Now, we can have hope for others, too. :D From what David said, he has had a very discouraging time teaching Bible students. Still, I hope he was encouraged as much as I was from hearing his words so he will go teach with an eager heart. Prophesy to these dry, dry bones, David P.! God commands you to preach - the rest is in His hands. Do it all for God's glory and not for the honor of men - for God searches the heart.
After the message, we were given a challenge. We were to draw a name from a basket and whoever it was, we were to become their secret helper. I was hoping to get the name of somebody I really knew well and liked, so I could do all kinds of cute and sweet things for them^^. However, God wanted to teach me that His love is greater than my temporary preferences. The name I drew was someone I did not know very well and not one of my first choices - nothing against the person!! At first, I was kind of sad. As the weekend went on, though, I found myself angsting to think of something nice to do for the person and ways I could brighten his day. I tried to talk to him any chance I got. I didn't do very well as a secret helper, but I learned a little bit about love in the process. I hope the person knows I was sincere :) If I had come prepared with candy to give, I would have given it, for sure!
A big part of the secret helper was the creation of a special t-shirt for the person. We did this Friday night with some fabric paint and creativity. Well, I wasn't very creative, but overall the shirts turned out very nicely! :D I painted three yellow crosses and a sun on the shirt I made and wrote "Glory to the Son!" I wondered which shirt I would get...I snooped around to see if I could find the one that was for me... :p
We got to bed a little late that night and it was very hot in the cabin, despite the cold temperatures outside.
4/7/07 (morning) - The death of the Messiah
(My secret helper was very secretive - and very sweet! Throughout the day, I am totaling all that person did for me!)
First, though, we had group Daily Bread at 7:00am. Tommy, our group leader, led us through it. We read Luke 23:44-56 together and then broke off to write up a reflection. We gathered to share our thoughts a little while later. I contemplated the presence of the women after everyone else had left. I said that I wish to each day meditate for a few moments, at least, on the cross of Christ and be filled with a desire to serve the risen Jesus, as these women lived to help and serve Jesus. Mary spent her time really thinking on Christ's suffering and death, Iain spoke of the tearing of the veil, Sarah thought about taking up her own cross, Tommy reflected on the message this has for his life as a whole, and Joe pointed out the reactions different kinds of people had. After we shared, we prayed and broke up for breakfast at 8:00
Saturday morning. Breakfast.
1. It was not long after I got my cottage cheese with apple butter and bacon when Aquila A. stopped by with a gift from my secret helper! An egg full of M&M's and a Note that read: "Have a good morning, Megan". Ohhh^^
2. When I finished eating, David C. came by with a delivery: a plate with a smilie face made from two pieces of cantaloupe, a nose of honeydew, and a mouth of bacon :) Waa! So cute! So...my secret person is both creative, cute, and has connections with the guys...Hmmm.
3. On my way out, I got a note from one of the girls! Oh, a note? It read: "Stay warm today!" The handwriting was definitely different from before - it looked sloppy like my brother's handwriting...but it was in bright blue ink like a girl's pen!
4. Finally, before the message, as I stood waiting in the chapel, Rebecca came to deliver another note?! This was a small card that had a verse on the front and a message on the back:
Front: Rejoice - Jesus lives and reigns forever. "And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new." - Revelation 21:5
Reverse: "Gal. 2:20-21 -megan- Easter '07 You are loved with the greatest love...He thinks you are worth it <3"
Well, I'm definitely not worth it, but it *is* the greatest love. I am loved by the Sovereign God!! ;_; :)
It was only later that I got the chance to read Galatians 2:20-21...
Philip B. gave the message in the afternoon. He spoke with a sincere voice as he described, line by line, the suffering of the Man of Sorrows. It is bloody and painful, but it is something we must face. This is what our sins have made us each to deserve. The darkness of that moment bought us the light we Christians have now claimed. Even a Roman army guard admitted, "Surely, this man was the Son of God." How could it be any clearer? This is the climax of the Gospel, of the Bible as a whole. We need to come to the cross ourselves and see - we cannot send others in our place to tell us about it. We need to experience the horror so we can appreciate. It is a fact I have seen that often we need to suffer before we can appreciate what we have. So here. Look at all we have been given and all we have taken, but do we stop to think what it cost? Do I praise the risen Jesus for what he has done for me that day, 2000 years ago?
4/7/07 (afternoon)- Fellowship and egg cracking games
Following the message, we went to lunch.
5. As I entered the lunch line to get my shells and cheese, also my cupcake, Abe L. stopped by to give me.. a daffodil!? :O My favorite flower, I said! I love daffodils. Whoever gave it to me has a heart of gold, I thought^^ Then I reflected on the last time I got flowers from a guy - I think it was six or seven years ago, already?
I sat down to eat and sent off a gift for my secret helpee, also I delivered a cup of orange-guava juice to Daniel. He cheered - it was very cute^^ I think I ate that meal with my secret helper at the table and also with Maria; but I was very worried about pleasing my secret helpee. I threw him a basketball after lunch, but I don't think he noticed :p Also, Sarah Y. L. is a master at basketball :O Woah! She stunned all the guys with her slam dunk! She says she is better at basketball than her husband Philip, who is about a foot taller than her, heehee. With Philip's height and Sarah's skill, their baby may be a professional^^
6. At some point during lunch, I got another note! This time, it was a drawing of a weird looking guy handed to me by Paul K. :p Later I found out that it was one of the HBF-age boys who drew it - haahaa. It was a pretty cute sketch, too^^ The message read: "Dear Megan, Hope you're enjoying the conference so far! Have a nice break -- Hint: A picture of me - or is it?" :p Silly secret helper trying to throw me off...
After lunch, we were given time to write our reflections/testimonies on Mark 15. Mine was only two short pages, but here is a snippet: "When I think on Christ's suffering and death, it is easy for me to lose focus on him and become consumed in regret for my sins. I feel like the people in Ezra and Nehemiah's day, who, when they celebrated the completion of the second temple and gathered to hear the Law, broke into weeping. The priests and leaders said to them: "This day is sacred to the LORD your God - do not mourn or weep. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." And so, they turned their hearts to praising God. They praised Him for His promises, which He keeps not because we are rewarded as we deserve, but "because You, God, are righteous." (Nehemiah 9:8) ...When we hear the Law and the message of the Gospel and understand what it means for us, we should not mourn, but do what we were made for - to glorify our God with worship and praise for who He is."
7. After I finished my testimony, I got another delivery! This time, it was from Missionary Luke! :O It was a small pack of jelly beans and a note: "Hope your day is sweet. Good luck with your team activity - go your team!" By this point, I was drowning in too much nice-ness^^ My secret helper made me feel like the most special person ever! I felt very bad that I had nothing more to do for my helpee!
I took the jelly beans and sat back down by the fireplace to look up that verse from Galatians. It reads: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." I am so easily drawn to myself. I run through all my names and think about all the things that set me apart. Yet without Christ, I am nothing. I should love only one name - that of Christ alone. It is not I who live - for on my own, I am dead. Only God is living and alive. It is by him, through him, that I can live. I should love nothing else - not even my own life, more than my Messiah.
Well, after all of this reading and meditation, we took a break to participate in many wild games! Our group, led by Tommy (go, go!) went first on an Easter egg hunt in the snow. Tommy and I took one area, but neither of us found any eggs for a long while... :\ Finally, David S. gave us some hints. He pointed at a pile of wood and we dug till we found the egg. He pointed at a shed and everyone started rushing toward it. I yelled, "Go, Tommy!!" and suddenly he burst into a full-speed sprint through the foilage and brush! His speed-skating training did him well, for he immediately held aloft a bright green egg! :D :D We danced about and cheered over our one egg! Yay, Tommy!
When we met the other members of our group, we found that each team had found the Golden eggs! :O There were only two in the whole camp, and our team got both?! We displayed them proudly for a photo ^___^
After this, we played a game where one team member threw an egg, another caught it, and the third carried it with a spoon in their mouth. We did it in two rounds and I got spoon-duty :p We did well until the egg fell on the pavement :( Ohh... Sarah did well before this, though^^ Poor David P. got splatered with an egg, though! Yucky! Frederick showed amazing dexterity and skill as he caught the egg single handed from the other side of the basketball court :O Everyone gasped and cheered!^^
There were other games later on inside in the warmth, and we finished around dinner time. When they ended, suddenly Joe P. from my group turned to hand me... a note!
8. "Megan, I am praying for you. ephesians 1:15-19a" This gave me some clue as to who it was^^ Who else cared for me this much and prayed for me like this?^^
4/7/07 (evening) - Brothers and sisters
Dinner was turkey and wild rice and peanut butter pie. Very delicious. During dinner, Adrianna's secret helper sent her a song - a bunch of the HBF boys came and sang Jesus loves you for her! It was adorable XD Of course her helper was Paul L., praise and worship singer!
9. Yes, at the end of dinner, another note!
"JESUS...is like this napkin. We were the messy ones, but he took our junk and put it on himself...leaving us nice and clean =) He did this for you, Megan. You are loved!! *Godspeed* Love, your secret helper"
That was a very creative note! I am not this creative :p
After dinner, we shared our testimonies. It was nice to do this in a group of people all my age, and I was happy to listen. Afterwards, I had the chance to talk to Mary B. She seemed very concerned to hear my prayer requests and told me that she would surely keep me in prayer. I am so thankful! She is so very kind, and I hope I get more chances to talk to her :) (Her husband delivered the evening message)
After this I received the final gift from my secret helper:
10. "Happy Easter Megan! Hope your Easter is Eggcellent =) Love, your secret helper" attached to a set of mini-cadbury eggs! :O How did she know I loved these?? I shared them with the people who were around me - including my secret helpee - poor fellow! I am sorry!^^
The evening message - He is Risen, INDEED!
Cyril B. talked a lot about barriers and victories. Though the stone was in the front of the tomb and the women wondered how they would move it, God made a way. He told us to leave our tombs, our dead lives, and wake up and praise God!! He also asked us the question: Have you met the risen Christ? His message was very encouraging as I face an uncertain future. He quoted my church's favorite chorus: "Because He lives." In fact, we sang this chorus a lot over the weekend. :)
Following the message, Augustine P. gave a presentation on Spiritual Gifts. He pointed to many verses from Scritpure that looked at what Spiritual Gifts are, why we need them, how we get them, how many we get, and what to do when we realize we have them. He stressed how important it is to pray, with faith, for those good things we want. He asked: "How many people think they are smart?" Nobody raised their hand. He then asked: "How many people want to be wise?" All of us raised our hands! So he said: "Pray! Pray with faith!"
After he finished, we filled out a quiz to see what Spiritual Gifts we have. I scored very, very high in service. Yes, I know!! Tell me what to do! Just clearly tell me and I will do it! :D My second highest was teaching... Also encouragement was high, but not as high, since I don't like giving advice to people :p
Finally, we ended the night by sharing the identities of our secret helpers and giving them the t-shirt. I just had to give Sarah L. a hug when she revealed herself and gave me the cutest shirt! :) She is such a sister to me^^
4/8/07 (morning)- The quiet love of Christ at breakfast on the shore
We ended the week with two messages. The first was delivered by Chris K. on the last chapter of the Gospel of John. Here we get a very different look at our Savior. One that is very kind, very close, and very real. He stressed that we should have the attitude of John, rather than Peter. Peter was convinced that he loved Jesus well enough. John was assured that Jesus loves him - for He loved us first. Also, we Christians wonder what we should do. First, we should answer Jesus' question and then he will tell us. We are called to love as Jesus did.
Lawson G. then ended with a short sending off message. He spoke from 1 Corinthians 15 and told us to hold firm, to always work whole-heartedly. If Jesus gave his all for us, should we give less? It may seem like a burden, until we look back to Jesus. With our eyes fixed on Him, we can work willingly. Nothing we do is in vain - for we do work not for men but for God.
My favorite part of the conference was praise and worship time. We sang songs like "Mighty to Save," "Because He Lives" and "My Redeemer Lives." How good it feels to say those words, and better yet - to sing them!
"Though my flesh it be destroyed
Yet with my eyes I will see God
For I know that my Redeemer lives
And I will stand with him on that day"
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save"
I have found that before seeking to go out and do much work or do such things as staying up all night in prayer, I need to remove the plank from my eye. I need to rid myself of selfish desires and focus my heart fully on God. I need to ground myself in the rock, wait patiently on the rock of Salvation. With a quiet life, I want to wait on my God. I want to grow to be a woman of faith - faith that is gentle and immovable. Faith that leads me to learn to pray without ceasing, to love the brethren, to seek out my God early in the morning.
This is training time.
And while I don't know what the training is for, the element of surprise is what gives it its excitement! I can trust in God to lead me to that which is best for me. He knows. And He is working.