Have you ever tried to chug a gallon of milk? I have not. However, a prerequisite to working with a youth group or being a youth pastor is experiencing this...at least as a spectator. Let’s just say I have watched my fair share of milk chugging contests.
I went to a conference over two days this last week. It’s called Catalyst. It’s a leadership conference for people who work in the church whether they receive a paycheck or not. Basically, it is for people who love Jesus, love His church and want to learn from those that have been doing their best to bring His love into a lost and broken world.
It was amazing. And, it was like chugging a gallon of milk.
It wasn’t necessarily information overload but, “inspiration overload.” So much that it was hard to take in all of it. Since I left it seems to be dripping all over. And with any milk chugging there always comes the aftermath: the expelling of what you can’t hold in.
That is what is happening now. I need to write to wade through. I need to digest what was for me, what will strengthen me and spur me on the next leg of this race.
Over two days my eyes, my ears and my heart were filled up, ministered to, and challenged. I feel compelled to also mention my thumbs cramped a bit from all the social media sharing. The Fly has it set up on his phone to alert him when I tweet something. He was ready to reset that setting by the end of the two days.
I couldn’t help myself! So many words that spoke right to me.
It would be so easy to just leave it all as a bunch of great quotes to tweet that make twitter followers favorite and retweet and the Facebook community, “like.” But then I would just be feeding more of my own ego, holding onto those nuggets only to impress. And, if there is anything that was spoken more loudly to me over the last two days, even two weeks, two months and even two years it is that IT IS NOT ABOUT ME.
After worshiping God in the beginning of the opening session with a room full of people eager to experience the living God, Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta spoke to us. Let me not fail to mention that it was the Hillsong Team, led by Joel Houston, that ushered in the presence of God...it was decadent...layers of goodness.
Andy has points upon points. Good ones. All the time. He never fails to bring a group of people to a place where they are challenged and inspired. But, there is one line, one point that has echoed in my ears and my heart since he said it Thursday morning,
“It is not what you do but who you raise...”
A mama with an overflowing mama’s heart, am I. I felt the hairs on my arms stand and the Spirit whispered, “Yes,” to my heart. I held it. I chewed it. I received it like we were speaking face to face and he had said it directly to me.
Phenomenal speakers and musicians and even comedians followed.
“Be interested rather than interesting.” - Jud Wilhoit
“The x-factor to great leadership is humility coupled with a unrelenting will.” - Jim Collins
“Creativity begins at 50” - Jim Collins
“We can’t start with ourselves for holiness or joy.” - Matt Chandler
“Would you let the Son of Man serve you?” - Louie Giglio
“Your dead and done but I choose you.” - Louie Giglio
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” - Dallas Willard via John Ortberg
“You must arrange your time so that you are living with deep contentment, joy and confidence in everyday life with God. - Dallas Willard via John Ortberg
“You will always produce who you are.” - John Ortberg
“Lead with an easy yoke of joy.” - John Ortberg
“God uses people who were miraculously transformed to bring about miraculous transformation.” - Gary Haugen
“My life is not my own. They (her husband and children,) are safer in God’s hands than mine.” - Pranitha Timothy
“Prayer is everything” - Pranitha Timothy
After all of this it was lunch time on the second day. Our team met together. We sat in a room with our Chick-fil-a, white paper and bold markers. We recalled and wrote down. We shared. In our short discussions around tables and on the floor we applied it to our home church as best we could in the time set aside. Our pastor prayed and together we hoped the Spirit would sift and guide and help digest what was needed to catapult us forward...in the direction already set for us.
As we were cleaning up and paying up for lunch someone mentioned that Christine Caine was in the next room. Like a school girl screeches for Justin Bieber I squealed with delight.
They laughed. Rightfully so. It was funny.
Some asked who she was. Others knew. I couldn’t even find the words to explain in a few short sentences the impact she has had on me.
We joked about how if I met her I couldn’t pet her hair. I promised I wouldn’t. What they didn’t know was that in the morning, as I was letting the hot water wake me and refresh me, I prayed. “Lord, can I meet Christine today? Not because I want to worship the ground she walks on like a “Belieber” might do if Justin was really in her midst, but because I want to love you like she loves you. There is a fire inside of her and I want it too.”
I walked into the hallway and ran into some beautiful people I knew. They had just adopted sweet Micah. I held that toddling one year old and just gushed like any full mama’s heart might. We chatted about adoption and even the way this beautiful couple understood, more so, the great love God has for His children, because of their experience.
In the mean time Christine was in the room chatting with others that I’m certain felt the same way I did. Then Micah made a break for it. He toddled right into that room. His daddy followed him. The mommy said, “Oh look, there they are just hanging out with Christine Caine!” I said, “Do you think I could go in there too?” The words just rose up out of my mouth. I couldn’t hold them back. She said, “Yes! She is so cool!”
That was my cue. Thank you, Micah. I owe you one, sweet boy!
I walked to the doorway. She was finishing a conversation and I didn’t want to be rude. She walked out and there I was. She said, “Hello!” with her australian accent. I told her that I felt like we were friends. She said we were. I told her about the days I strap my kids in their carseats and turn on the weekly podcast she does. We listen and I am inspired. She loved that. We took pictures. We hugged. She had to run.
It was delightful.
As any person in my situation would have, I immediately posted to all forms of social media about my encounter. A good friend held my stuff so I could use both of my shaking hands to do it.
My adrenaline was pumping and my friend asked me again, “so, who is she again?”
I began to gush about her. I don’t even remember what I said. But when he drew the parallel of his love for Dave Ramsey, he understood.
She was someone who, in my opinion, gets it. She lives her life in a way that I want to live mine. It’s not about wanting to do all the amazing things she does, although I’m sure given the opportunity I would jump, but it’s about a heart. A heart that beats for Jesus and His church. A heart that so desperately wants people to know about the life-saving transforming power the cross and the resurrection bring.
That is why meeting her was such a big deal for me. I got face to face with the fire, the passion, and I prayed it would ignite the same way inside of me.
We headed back to next session and one of my closest friends had just come back from a rehearsal. She was going to get to lead the conference in worship with Carlos Whitaker in the last session of the day. Her story to that moment is amazing...perhaps for a guest post one day! (hint, hint!) We sat down and she told me she got to meet Darlene Zschech...her Christine Caine.
We sat like giddy school girls listening and also thinking about these strong women of faith and how they have inspired us and so many others.
One more break and a caramel frappe with an extra shot later, it was time for Harmony to take the stage. She sang it, my friends. She brought it just like we all knew she would. Our team stood together in our seats and relished the moment with her. Our time of worship was that much sweeter watching her love for Jesus just ooze out of her being.
Then the funny guys took the stage again. I could not get enough of their shenanigans. They helped us laugh...at ourselves...which is so important...and honestly, something I struggle with.
Then Miss Caine closed us out. She sent us out with a fire, like she does. Awakened and ready to do the work God has for us to do.
She talked about the baton. It is critical that we pass it well to the next generation. Let go of our ego. Remember who we are serving. Remember who He is so we can inspire those that will come after us to push harder and further than we ever did.
I spent the weekend unwinding, resting and digesting. We ran errands, played, went in the pool. We went to church, (it was amazing, by the way). We ate Chinese food. I started to read a book I picked up at the conference.
It was back to life as usual except that it’s really not usual at all. Behind every diaper change and nose wipe there was purpose. Remembering the raising up is the most important. The prayers I said over my babies this weekend were ones more for me and the Fly...soften their hearts, open their ears but equip us to do the very best we can pointing them to you, Jesus.
There is an entire generation waiting to be set ablaze. So many are believing the lie that Jesus is no longer relevant to them. So many don’t know that,
“that the most powerful force on this earth is the blood of Jesus. It sets people free.” - Christine Caine
My Catalyst experience taught me much. So much that I’m not sure I can really digest it all. But one thing is extremely clear. I am called to point a generation to the Savior.
Today, I will do my best at that by finding the teachable moments at the park and folding the laundry. Tomorrow night as I feast will a small group of adults that we have journeyed with over this year I will do that. Thursday I will do that teaching young ones to sing and dance. I will do it sitting around a table with girls just about to graduate high school. Friday I will do it with moms and daughters as we talk about, “the mean,” and what happens when Jesus enters a girl fight.
With grace as my harness and a firm grip on His Word I will press forward asking the Spirit to light up the next step on this journey.
It’s not an easy deal. It’s day by day. Right where I am at. “Marching 20 miles a day.” Thank you, Jim Collins. Meaning not too fast and not too slow...self-discipline is key.
The Fly helped me wake up early this morning. It’s my first order of discipline. Be awakened before they are awakened so my heart is ready for the job I am called to do: Point the generation entrusted to me and any other generation that may be listening to the One who makes the dead come to life.