FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2019
Choir Tour 2019 in The Big Apple is going to be a blast! For some of us this may be your last tour, or for others it may even be your first. Whatever number tour this is for you, I am here to offer some advice from what I have learned over my four tours.
In Matthew 10, Jesus sends his twelve disciples out into the world to heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons. We probably won’t be doing too much raising the dead or driving out demons, but we do have a purpose for going to New York. Matthew 10:8 says, “Freely you have received, freely give ” What Jesus is saying in this verse is that we have freely received God’s blessing of knowing the gospel and having the ability to freely share it with others who are less fortunate and haven’t heard the Good News We have spent the whole year working and preparing for New York and the task ahead of us.
My challenge to you is to remember that God has freely given us the opportunity and ability to be able to share the Word of God with those in New York. We are there to have a good time, but also to get the experience of sharing the gospel with those in New York. I also challenge you to really dive in and spend as much time as you can engaged in anything and everything we do on this trip. Sing your best, speak to someone after a concert, and just step out of your comfort zone, because you never know when you will get the chance to influence someone’s life or even see an impact on your own life. Choir tour will be a great time and a life changing experience if you remember that you have freely been given everything through the Lord and it is now your chance to freely give to the people of New York.
— James Galloway
SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2019
Hey guys, I hope you have had a good start to choir tour. When you are reading this, it will be the second day of tour and the first day of our adventure in New York City.
Throughout the trip, I want everyone to think about our own church’s motto which is to Love God and to Love People. If everyone on the trip commits to these principles, the trip will be much more fruitful and rewarding. Think about Matthew 22:37-39 as we begin our adventure. In those verses Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Our goal in New York is to spread the gospel to as many people as we can reach. Do not be afraid to talk to other people as you may even learn something new from them. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to reach people who need to hear what Christ has to say. From personal experience, loving on others not only makes a tremendous impact on your own life, but it means even more to the person you are caring for. Following the church motto to Love God, Love People will help us be the most successful in delivering the message of Christ to those in desperate need of His love and wisdom.
— William McNeilly
SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2019
As we embark on these fun-filled adventures up north, it’s important to remember our duty as Christ-followers. Put your trust in God, and dedicate your life to serving Him. In order to do this, we must go with a joyful and selfless spirit. The love of God can not be magically spread on its own, which is why we must deliver these truths through our actions, words, and service. But after doing so, this can be reassuring to the receiving individuals.
Matthew 5:15-16 says, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” On this mission to New York, we have been called to shine the light of Christ in one of the darkest places of the nation. It may be tempting to stick with your friends, but I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and focus more on impacting the lives of strangers. Work with peers in the youth group and try to maintain a positive attitude while doing so. Although this can be tough when you’re hungry, tired, or annoyed, giving your all really affects how others see Christ-followers. While we do things like sing, do yard work, and serve the less fortunate, it is critical to do these tasks joyfully, to glorify God’s kingdom. These intentions are not only helpful to the people we encounter, but they also allow us to grow in our faith as Christians. This opportunity exposes us to a completely new culture, and is a great learning experience for not only those who are lost, but those who are found in their walk with the Lord.
I also challenge everyone to live this way not only on choir tour, but throughout your daily life Continue to kindly serve others whether it is a grand gesture or even a simple gesture. Although there are many distractions when we return to the real world, it is important that we maintain a daily routine to connect with the Lord For example, your daily devotions prompt you to embody the actions of Christ and therefore can influence others, making the world a better place.
— Abby Tune
MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2019
We have been given a great opportunity to come to this city of New York for our Youth Choir Mission Tour. We do a lot of fun things here, but remember that we are also here to serve. Sometimes, whether it’s in New York or elsewhere, we will face hard tasks. In times like these, it’s good to remember James 1:2-4:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
These verses remind us that sometimes hard tasks, although not fun while we do them, can yield greater results. In cases like this mission tour, our perseverance directly results in the benefit of those we’re serving, which is one of our main goals. In our personal lives back home, perseverance often means we become stronger people. Throughout the rest of this trip and after you get back home, always remember to persevere through hardships, because you know the end result will be worth it.
— Jacob Fisher
TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2019
The week that I was asked to write this was also the week I was baptized. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to share my experiences throughout the journey. To begin, I noticed that when I was being surrounded by a group of endlessly supportive people (you all), I was much more comfortable (though still challenged) with the idea of opening up about exactly what I was struggling with in the moment. If it weren’t for the people I had around me, the questions and thoughts I had would have gone unanswered and most likely just pushed away.
Continuing off of this, over choir tour this week, I wanted to remind everyone to use time we are given to be with each other as an opportunity to get to know and be there for everyone around us. Not only for the people we get to interact with in New York while we are sharing God’s Word, but with each other in the midst of both joy and stressful points. Let those around you know that you are there with open arms. I Peter 3:8-9 covers most of this idea, telling us that it is our calling to have compassion and support one another Reading this and other verses like Ephesians 4:3 and Galatians 6:2 allows us to get a deeper understanding of all God intended us to do for each other. Use this week to consciously do good for and comfort those around you as much as they may need it.
I Peter 3:8-9 — Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
— Kennedy Hunt
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019
James 1:19-20 – My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
This is a verse that I’ve heard a lot growing up in church. However, I’ve never taken time to really dive in and actually understand what it’s trying to say:
My dear brothers and sisters;
We are all brothers and sisters through Jesus Christ, just like Pastor Frank says during baptisms. We are also Jesus’ own brothers and sisters. He wants to know us and have a relationship, just like we have with our earthly siblings.
Jesus wants us to not only hear what He is saying or even be able to repeat it, He wants us to understand. Understanding does not mean having a small grasp on a process or idea. It means knowing completely and fully what He is saying to us as well as being able to live it out in our lives everyday.
The word “everyone” refers to every living person on earth. However, I also believe it means all the time as well. Jesus wants everyone to obey His commands, all the time. Not just on choir tour or camp—places where we are often on spiritual highs—but all the time in our lives. Obviously, this is hard, especially when you don’t have your church friends around you who are also trying to live out these commands, but in order to really follow what Jesus is telling us, everyone must obey Him at all times.
Quick to listen;
Listen to what others have to say. Let them finish their thoughts before sharing yours. If someone needs to share something with you, be willing to be there for them when they need you to. Don’t shake them off or tell them you will listen later. Be quick to listen and do it without hesitation.
Slow to speak;
Consider your thoughts before speaking them. Regret is the worst feeling. The best way to avoid it is thinking before you speak. Obey what your parents told you when you were little—if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. It takes great discipline to be slow to speak and really think about the words coming out of your mouth before it’s too late. You can never take back what you say, but you can most definitely prevent it.
Slow to anger;
This goes hand-in-hand with the two previous commands. Listening to others’ thoughts and opinions that don’t necessarily match yours may lead to anger. However, being slow to anger means considering their viewpoint before sharing yours. Considering your viewpoint is exactly what Jesus means when He tells us to be slow to speak as well.
For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness;
God doesn’t get angry when we sin. That is God’s righteousness. If He doesn’t get angry, then why should we? The goal of Christianity is to be more like Jesus. We are created in the image of God and mercy is one of God’s greatest qualities. If we truly want to be like Him, we must follow His commands to be slow to anger, as anger does not make us like Him.
As we continue to be on mission for Christ, consider this verse and its true meaning and do your best to live it out, not only this week, but for the rest of your life.
— Lara Fisher
THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2019
When I was asked to write this, I was very nervous. Then I thought of things that I have struggled with in everyday life and on choir tour. Forgiveness came to mind immediately. Luke 6:27-36 (take a second to read them) summarizes what we should do in these situations.
C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you ” This is exactly what we should strive to do in our everyday life Jesus was perfect and we are not; however, we are forgiven for everything.
One of our close family friends was born in Rwanda and lived in the middle of the genocide that occurred there (if you don’t know what happened, look it up, because I am going to boil it down too much and the story deserves to be known.) Basically, two main tribes, Hutus and Tutsis, made up the nation. The Hutus tried to eradicate the Tutsis in 1994, causing mass chaos and death. At an age close to ours, she had to take on tremendous responsibility and witness the destruction in the country first-hand, including the murders of both her parents, facing potential death almost everyday. I was fortunate enough to hear her testimony and story a couple months ago at a Bible study. After all she had been through and witnessed, she said that she had decided to forgive everyone and give love. She is a perfect representation of what Lewis was talking about in his quote.
I have often thought about what happened to her when I am in a resentful mood, thinking of how small my issues are compared to what she went through and how I have refused to forgive things that are so minuscule in comparison to what she chooses to forgive. Jesus calls us to do what is typically against natural instinct regarding our response to things that negatively affect us. She continually allows God to work through her. Jesus also showed this (Luke 23:34a) and still does, and we should also demonstrate it to the people around us everyday.
This week is one of the best weeks of the summer, but it gets hard to remember to forgive each other for the petty things that happen. I have challenged myself, and now all of you, to think more about being easily forgiving. I hope you give this thought and enjoy the rest of choir tour!
— Kee-Lee Overbeck
FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2019
I hope you’re having a super great time in one of my favorite cities EVER! When Joe asked me about writing this devotional, the thought that kept coming to my mind was “talk about leadership.” This sounds very odd to you and me both, and I just kept thinking, “no that can’t be what God is telling me to write about.” I eventually realized it was exactly what God was telling me to say, I just hadn’t taken the time to fully understand why.
If you know anything about me, you probably know that I am extremely dedicated to my high school band and I am starting my third year in the leadership program. Last year, specifically, we often discussed the idea of servant leadership — a philosophy with the main goal of a leader being service to their followers. As I processed my recurring thought about leadership, I became aware of how clearly the servant leadership concept painted the image of Jesus. Numerous times throughout the Bible, Jesus serves others by healing them, feeding them, blessing them, etc, and we’re supposed to live like Jesus, right? Although we may not be able to heal someone in the same way Jesus does in Matthew 9:18-26 (the woman who touched His robe), or quench the peoples’ thirst as He does in John 2:1-12 (turning water into wine), we are called to serve others as He did.
While you are in New York, you will no doubt interact with people who are sick—physically or mentally—hungry, tired, and struggling with many more unknowns. I implore all of you to serve these people the best that you can, even as you are just having fun around the city. I know you already love Jesus and love people very well, but I thought this would be something to remind you, in the difficult moments, why you’re serving this week! I am so sad that I could not be on tour this year, but I know you will all do amazing work in the lives of everyone you come into contact with.
I’m sending prayers from Florida State this week (go Noles!), and I hope you all have the best time!
— Meredith Williams
SATURDAY, JUNE 29, 2019
Hey guys, I wanted to talk about the idea of trust and trusting God. It seems like the word “trust,” when it comes to God, is just a church buzzword that may get thrown around a lot without really knowing what it means. Let’s first ask God to let us glean what He would have us take from these texts and from this lesson. Now, let’s dig in.
First of all, I would like to talk a little about the sign for trust in sign language. The sign for trust is two fists clenched tightly and pulled down hard from above your head to your chest from right to left as if you are hoisting yourself up a rope. Much like climbing a rope, we must trust that there is someone holding the other side who will not let us fall. When I sign trust, it usually pertains to God. The one I envision on the other side of my rope is God, because He alone is constant.
There are two sides of the idea of trusting God. One is SAYING you trust God and the second is ACTING like you trust God. Both are required together to fully understand the idea of trust.
1) Saying you trust God
Many people can get through their whole lives by simply saying that they trust God without really understanding the true weight to what they say. Trusting God means that everything you have, do, and think is His and that you surrender it without withholding a single bit (Proverbs 3:5-6). You have no reservation when it comes to trust. Some may say they trust God completely, but they still struggle with worry, thinking negatively of themselves, or trying to control everything. That is not what it looks like to have full confidence in God and His sovereignty. This is not to say that those who trust God will never struggle with these things, but it is easier to get through these rough seasons when we know we can surrender all of our own shortcomings to God. He will replace that worry, negative thought, or controlling attitude with His perfect peace (Philippians 4:6-7).
2) Acting like you trust
Some may act like they have it all together on the outside, but they are falling apart on the inside. This is not what we are called to do. We are not expected to put in a brave face and act like everything is perfect all of the time, because it isn’t. We are expected to surrender the imperfections of life to God and seek His guidance and wisdom in life’s difficulties. It gets dangerous when we begin to act like everything is fine all of the time When you get so used to fooling everyone into thinking you have everything under wraps, you begin fooling yourself too. This can keep you from seeing the true problem in the situation Simply acting like you trust God is like squeezing a handful of sand. The tighter your fist gets, the more that falls out; however, God’s hands are bigger than yours. He can hold it all for you with ease So, give your sand to God He will hold it so you don’t have to (Psalm 115:11).
Saying that you trust God isn’t enough. You have to live it out through your actions and your belief in your heart. Be mindful of what you are placing your trust in this week. Is it in something fleeting, like having a good time at the big surprise or pleasant weather? If it is, you will surely be let down. Is it in God? He is the only constant. God’s strength will never waver and He has promised to never let us go. Let’s take Him up on that promise and trust fully in Him.
— Sara Owens
Sunday, JUNE 30, 2019
As we approach the end of this mission trip I would like to talk about ways in which we can take a similar passion with us when it comes to following God in our daily lives. After a spiritual and emotional high like YCMT it can be difficult to have that same energy in your regular life, but I think one of the major challenges is really going for it. On YCMT we have done a lot of crazy things in some ways and have stepped out of our comfort zone to an extent. Doing that as an individual in your daily life can be really challenging. It is hard to step into something when not only do you not want to do it, but you feel like you just can’t do it.
Read through Hebrews 3 and consider what the author is saying. It is an encouragement to followers of God to accept what God asks of you and have courage. It says “do not harden your hearts” (verse 8). The idea of one’s heart hardening is often associated with someone who refuses to turn from evil or something of that nature, but what it means here is not to let your fear get ahead of you. Don’t avoid what God wants for you because of fear.
In life you will come to situations where what God will ask of you will be more challenging than ever before, but you can still overcome it because God is the most powerful thing in all of existence. If God is going to ask you, God can certainly help you. Hebrews 3 also talks about encouragement from others. Verse 13 says “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today.” Basically, don’t let a day go by that you aren’t encouraging, and do that starting now. Remind people that God works for them and be a light to those around you everyday. It can be easy to read something from Scripture and think “That’s great; I should start doing that,” but this asks us to start before today is over.
As this trip comes to an end and we return home, remember that you still can follow God in the areas where you live. God’s work is everywhere and sometimes it can be extremely impactful to reach out to a friend, even if you don’t see it right away. If you get anything from this devotional, just get that if God calls you, somehow remember that He has the ability to help you through it, even if it is challenging to you.
— Elliot Payne