As most of the writers are away on retreat this weekend, I’ll share one of the devotionals that was written that those attending the retreat have been meditating on.

Psalm 1

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

When we have trouble “cutting through the noise” of this world, it’s easy to become complacent. All of a sudden everything becomes a routine and we find ourselves simply going through the motions of life.

Psalm 1 describes and contrasts two people: one who is rooted in God’s word, and another who searches for wisdom in the world. Where do you find yourself today?

In verse 3 we see that those who delight themselves in the law of Lord are:

planted” – firmly rooted.

Roots don’t just sit above the ground. They are firmly intertwined with the soil. Separating them is no easy chore.

“…by streams of water,” – continually fed and nourished by a pure source.

This is more than a one-time watering.

“…yields its fruit…” – actively producing that which is good.

As a result of being planted by a continually pure source, there is evidence of growth that blesses others.

“…does not wither.” – able to endure tough times.

Not under its own doing, but as a result of where it is planted.

A tree can also be planted beside impure sources. However this tree is like “chaff that the wind drives away” (verse 4). What are the things in life that you allow to influence you? Where have you chosen to root yourself? Quite often we don’t realize what the true influences in our lives until we pause to reflect on them.

Take the opportunity today to choose to plant yourself by “streams of water”. Rest in the promise that, “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked”.

Winter Retreat: Seek and Worship

Where do I start? God took each and every youth and challenged them with a Word that spoke of undying truth and love. Winter Retreat of 2009 showed me that I was not seeking God, and that I won’t be unless I pursue it.

This Retreat was an oppurtunity to serve God in a way that was 1) not stressful and 2) with power. I prepared music of worship along with a hope of captivating the hearts of all. It was the outcome of the lesson I had learned from Summer Retreat of 2009, where although there was power, it was stressful and lacking worshipful hearts. I prayed to God to give me wisdom in leading the youth into worship, to organize teams, sets and practice with minimal to no stress. I wanted this Retreat to be a retreat.

Our message was “Citizens of Heaven, Aliens in the World”.  Music that depicted the Christian lifestyle? Easy. Done, just like that. But God worked through the planning to measures that I would never have done, many details and things that God blessed me with. In all, I felt ready and set.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is Gain

This is from Philippians, and it was our theme verse. Throughout the retreat I found myself calling out to God to create in me a heart that sought Him constantly, to worship Him through song and life.  And no matter how cliched it is, and how cheesy it may sound, God gave and took away.

God’s Giving:

Before the retreat, Hannah Weidman, our worship team’s backup singer was extremely sick, and because of this she was unable to sing for she lost her voice. Day 2 of retreat, God gave her the health and strength to praise Him through her voice. Also, Randy Chen, our electric guitarist, was able to help me in terms of technicals things, giving me freedom throughout the sets. I can’t thank him enough for willingly perfecting our set up with the equipment we had. We also had many great worship sets for all sessions which could not have been done without His guidance.

Taking away:

Sound was an issue, and by the end, we found that in the clash of our equipment and the camp’s, it was inefficient. Again, thanks to God, and His working through Randy, we gave it our all and put the best into it. The biggest part that pushed me near to the edge was when, through whatever reason, our bass guitar snapped a string and my acoustic guitar’s battery ran out. When I walked in ready for food in the main hall, I saw the news and heard it as well. I saw it and felt the pain and anger throughout my very soul dying to reach out. I couldn’t believe it, Praise Night was that night and I had planned it to be BIG. A beautiful time of music and worship for all. I was so angered, wanting to just lose it on all those who kept playing those instruments during the freetime, overusing them and destroying them. I was broken in absolute distress, and ran outside.

God’s Blessing through all:

I ran outside in the unreal cold night, looking into the night sky, into that little face of a moon. “God, what do I do now? I should’ve known that I would fail again. Are You are telling me that I am not up to this anymore? That I should just stop?”

I stood out there for about 5 minutes, wondering if I would ever go back in to face that mass of an issue. I could leave, and never show up again, leaving these guys to do something themselves without me. I had the pride of a lifetime that moment. If I left then, then, they would be sorry that they broke those instrument, ruining my plan for worship.

God told me to walk back in.

When I walked in, dinner was being served. I sat with Stephanie Yang, Jane Liu, William Chen and Daniel Ip. They knew the problem, they were there, but they had something to offer, not some apology to me, but a further praising of God even through it all.

God worked through each one of them, and lastly through me. “You want to seek me, then seek me without music on your side, seek me with a heart that wants to worship, and not conduct some extravagant “praise night”.

For our praise night: no bass, no drums, no electric guitar. I led off my acoustic guitar acoustically, with light keyboard by Kelly Mak in the back (whom I also praise God for!). But what God revealed to me was to have everyone else on the praise team sing. We didn’t have enough mics, so I just asked the 3 instrumentless guys to stand by a music stand and just sing like the rest of the Body. God was telling me that this is what He wanted: a Body that worshipped His name and cried out to Him. It was amazing.

The final worship sets for the sessions also were light and strove for a full, untainted worship to God.

What God showed me through this retreat, was that in order to seek Him, was to accept what God was doing in our lives, whether giving or taking away. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. There is nothing else to live and strive for than God. Through God we find the strength and boldness, without shame and fear, but with faith and an everlasting love to our Lord and Savior.