July Thoughts

It’s embarrassing that about three weeks have gone by since my last blog post.  However, the past few weeks have been full of excitement and encouragement on a variety of levels.  At the moment I’m enjoying a week in West Michigan between the Teens Actively Serving Christ project I mentioned previously and the upcoming Reformed Youth Services convention.

There is something intangibly unique about mission trips like the one I just attended.  Perhaps it is due to the encouragement of thirty brothers and sisters dwelling together in unity (à la Psalm 133).  Maybe it also arises from the balance of spiritual instruction and real-life opportunities to live out our faith (à la Philippians 2).  Or perhaps it is connected to our confidence that in Christ our labor is not in vain (à la I Corinthians 15).  Whatever the case may be, I know that I always emerge from these projects invigorated and inspired in my Christian walk–and I know the same is true for many others as well.

It was a blessing to spend eight days living and growing alongside these young fellow Christians, just as it was blessing to worship with the members of the Bethany United Reformed Church and to be generously served by their members even as we reached out to serve others.

Someone who attended another recent TASC trip said to me, “If we weren’t eating or sleeping, we were singing.”  While that may have been a bit of an overstatement in our case, music certainly played a prominent role in our free time.  One TASCer brought a few Psalter Hymnals along on the bus ride from the church to the location of our day away at the end of the week (Saugatuck and then Holland State Park), and we sang psalms and hymns almost the whole way there…and back.  During lunch we started somewhat of a “Psalter Hymnal Flash Mob” at a Panera Bread as we waited for our food.  That evening the group stopped for dinner at a restaurant in a converted Christian Reformed Church building in Jamestown, and before we left, we rose and sang the third verse of “By the Sea of Crystal.”  And at midnight, just as the youth group from New Jersey was preparing to depart, we sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” with lumps in our throats.  The week ended with sadness that our newfound “family in the Lord” would have to part ways, but also with confidence that our separation would only be temporary.

All in all, I am firmly convinced that the most important aspect of Teens Actively Serving Christ is that it inculcates in us what Paul Tripp calls a “forever mindset.”  Work never ends, friends move away, and even the best vacations come to an end.  But a week like this reminds us that this world is not all there is.  We serve Christ in hope–not a wishful sentiment but a steadfast sureness–that we will someday behold him face to face, enjoying the eternal rest spoken of in the Heidelberg Catechism along with all of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  May that realization grip us throughout our pilgrimages on this earth.

Having shared those incidental thoughts on my recent TASC trip, the true purpose of this post is to alert you that it will probably be another two weeks or so before URC Psalmody can return to some kind of schedule.  What lies ahead is a few more days of rest and fellowship, one more Lord’s Day spent with the saints in Michigan, then a bus ride to St. Paul for the 2013 Reformed Youth Services convention!

Both high and low shall worship,
Both strong and weak shall bend,
A faithful Church shall serve Him
Till generations end.
His praise shall be recounted
To nations yet to be,
The triumphs of His justice
A newborn world shall see.


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