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NYLC General Session
When I started in youth ministry, I had about 20 kids in the youth group. My idea of success? A night together in youth service where Jesus showed up, kids laughed together and prayed together, and maybe even a new kid or so excitedly decided to give their life to Christ. I mean, back in 1970, that was my idea of a mind-blowing YOUTH MINISTRY SUCCESS.
It took only about three short months to start adding stuff to that original equation. Remember those 20 kids? Well, pretty soon, "real success" needed to include having about 30 kids show up! And somewhere through those opening, exciting months, something NEW to me was "born" in my life and head. It was small and almost a little "cuddly" at the beginning. Kind of like a friendly little "stuffed animal" from my past. But on closer examination, it wasn't that innocent and it sure wasn't that "cuddly." I had given birth to a small, not-too-scary-looking DRAGON.
So my prayerful goal for this message is to remind all of us that the "DRAGON OF SUCCESS" is maybe one of the most ferocious enemies ANY of us will ever face in our own minds...but we'll ALL face him...whether we're the "lead person" on the team, an amazing volunteer assistant, or just a career-orientated person who's just trying to get ahead on the job-site.
I'm LIVING, TRANSPARENT, VULNERABLE PROOF that THE DRAGON OF SUCCESS can hang around for a pretty long time. The point I'm trying to make is that probably all of us have VARIATIONS of this "Dragon" that Jesus and His love wants to slay – dragons that are fed by our insecurities, our fears, our needs for approval and acceptance.
NYLC General Session
For the final evening, I wanted to take you on an imaginary trip. But though our trip is imaginary, I want to help you envision something that's REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. A place that the Word of God tells us most all of us will personally experience.
This place I'm taking us in our imagination tonight…it's the place the Holy Spirit often brings to MY mind when I get tired, when I find myself fighting discouragement or when I need to remind myself of the WORTH of this spiritual journey I've enlisted myself in. It's also where I go in my head when I see other Christians who seem pretty disengaged...sometimes even pretty flakey. I mean, lots of great folks don't seem to play by some of the same spiritual ballgame rules Jesus seems to ask of me.
At moments like that, Jesus reminds me of this place. No, it's not the Great White Throne of Judgment. Instead, the place I want to take you in this NYLC15 resource is THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. It's the SECOND eternal judgment in Heaven...the one only CHRISTIANS will take part in. But I rarely hear anyone talk about it. So let's make a run at it, our final night at NYLC 2015...an imaginary glimpse at YOUR coming moment before The Judgment Seat of Christ. WELCOME, MY FRIENDS, TO YOUR "FINAL ANTHEM."
NYLC General Session
In transparent honesty, this message is NOT the way most conferences are opened...much less, most LEADERSHIP conferences. But I'm concerned about an emerging leadership culture that focuses more on our RIGHTS than on our RESPONSIBILITIES. That focuses more on GRACE than it does on GODLINESS. A leadership culture that happily makes people SUPERSTARS if they're good speakers, funny enough, and have enough "cool trappings." A culture where caring for people is marginalized...where being a true SHEPHERD is an afterthought...and where the term "holiness" is usually muffled, for fear of being viewed as LEGALISTIC.
So at the risk of being misunderstood and even a little categorized as "old school, "This message is one of the most FULFILLING, LIFE-GIVING, HEART-THUMPING....BUT DEMANDING PRINCIPLES I have ever found in the Word of God. And I think it's particularly important in today's leadership culture. It's the paradox of the Kingdom: "to be truly FREE, I must first choose in some way, to be BOUND."
This is one principle that I fear is PAINFULLY OVERLOOKED in today's Christian leadership circles. It's taken from Exodus 21: 2-6, simply titled, "I Will Not Go Out Free!"