Last weekend Menders led worship at the North/South Carolina Area Intervarsity Retreat at Camp Thunderbird in Lake Wylie, SC.  We were in the mountains the week before and this time we were at a beautiful lake.  We really enjoyed leading worship at this retreat last year and were thrilled to be back again.  Thanks so much to the wonderful staff and students for having us.  

There were some moments that jumped out at me this weekend, and something in me says that they represent themes that are important for all of us. I’d love to share a few of them with you, and if you have thoughts or reactions to these, I’d love to hear them.

(1.) Being bold with our gifts

I found this verse coming up in my heart and mind of the course of this season, so much, that I made everyone say this aloud to their neighbors at both retreats: 

“God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (MSG)

I love these phrases: Be bold with your gifts.  Love others with your gifts.  Be sensible with your gifts.  

This verse resonates with me so much because there’s so much excitement and fear surrounding it.  When you uncover all the many gifts that God has uniquely made for you, there is a calling to live into them and share them with others.  Too often, though, these gifts are seen as deficits or abnormal by the world, so we’re afraid to let them be seen.  It requires faith and boldness, which Paul talks about in this sentence.  

(2.) Hearing God’s voice

I’m coming to realize that God loves speaking to me through other people. Maybe it’s because God knows I’m a people person.  Does this happen to you?

I am starting to be able to tell a difference between someone complimenting me and being nice vs. God speaking to me through a person.  There’s something about the way someone looks at me when affirming something or saying something prophetic . . . it’s unmistakably the Lord. 

There was one such moment at this retreat where someone looked at me and named a gift, and I’m still processing through it.  But I’m greatly encouraged to be bold and loving and sensible, even if it’s a scary thing.    

I am hoping to become more aware of those types of conversations, and hopefully, by God’s grace, maybe become the kind of person who can be used in that way too.  Have you had moments where you felt like God was speaking through you to another person?  

(3.) Finding the courage to put art out into the world

Menders is in a creative phase right now, and that’s both scary and exciting.  It requires such vulnerability to write and put something out into the world, and lead others in worship with it.  We shared two new original pieces: “My Shepherd (Psalm 23)” and “New Creation.”  We were so encouraged by the responses to both of these songs!   Thanks to the students for really affirming this leap of faith.  I just listened to a live recording of our last set, and it was so amazing to hear the crowd singing it whole-heartedly.  I’m going to write a separate post on this one! For now, I just want to encourage those of who you write, sing, and create in every kind of way. Keep trying new things, and keep putting it out there!

(4.) Fun Fact: Selfie Sticks are real and they’re here to stay.  

Did you know that having a selfie stick enables you to take a selfie of 250 ppl?  That was evidenced this past weekend.  One of our band members was recently in Hong Kong and told us that everyone there walked around holding selfie sticks, taking videos of themselves walking the streets.  That’ll be the States in about 10 years.

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Willis Weber, III, takes a retreat pic with the selfie stick

(5.)  Loving and serving goes both ways.  

Menders received a lot of blessing and affirmations during this retreat, and in some cases really witnessed the Lord working some miracles. This was a very diverse group of students, and it was simply amazing to all be in one room worshiping and praising our God together.  It was a glimpse into what things could look like, or should look like, when coming together and being the family.  I wonder how the students felt being in that space together.  

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Isaac and I stayed up until 2 AM getting to know the Duke IV chapter! Worth every wing. 🙂