It was a moment of inspiration, really.
During a moment on Twitter, one of our students wrote this as her status: “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.”
As it was, at the very same time, I was reading through the book of Jeremiah, and really, really struggling with the significance of this part of my journey into the Word of God. It is, after all, a difficult venture into any of the prophetic books if your heart isn’t ready to receive the Word from God in whatever format. I am so very, very thankful that my journey into the Word of God had prepared me for all I would read in the prophecies of some of those guys.
Here were the questions that I would ask myself: How was Jeremiah relevant? How is this relevant to me? How many names of people do I really need to read here? (In several of these books, there are lists of names which, really, are a bit redundant to me.) How is this relevant to my ministry?
And then I noticed that the word relevant appeared all over those thoughts.
Relevancy, it seems, is the savvy word of modern churches and modern ministries. It is found in several questions, including the ones I asked, but even in more general questions: How can the Word be relevant? How can church be relevant? How can any ministry be relevant? Relevant, relevant, relevant.
Let me be frank for a moment. The Word of God is always relevant. It always will be relevant. It will continue to surpass any culture in terms of its relevance. It was relevant before the word relevant was relevant.
So, we need to clarify. Relevant is best descriptive of how we communicate, not what we communicate.
My summer memories of reading the Word of God, and specifically, the books of the prophets, will forever be of a hot, back porch in one of the warmest summers in memory, reading through line after line after line of the precious Word of God, and wondering why these stories are here.
For awhile I thought that, as a minister, maybe I was a modern prophet. Maybe. I saw similarities, and still do. I, like the prophets, preach the Word to people who are wrestling with deep moral lapses. I, like the prophets, feel alone at times. I, like the prophets, believe I see a vision for God’s people no one else sees, or even wants to see. Those themes are teachable.
Until, that is, I discovered Amos 3:7, which says that God does nothing until He reveals His plan to His prophets. So these guys are unique.
But I was still filled with questions. These books, and their context, require a great amount of understanding to be completely … well … understood. Discovering their culture environment takes a bit of time to really grasp. Their cultural environment, also, gives you understanding as to why they were saying the specific things they shared.
You know all of this.
But I felt a yearning, a calling, a deepening to bring these stories to our students in our student ministry. These books tell great stories of God’s love and redemption, but also of His intolerance for destructive behaviors. They are, of all the books in the bible, a lens into what God sees when He looks at humanity.
And then I discovered the status of one of our students, and it hit me.
These prophets constantly said, “O my God.”
It was their constant prayer.
And then God’s plan for my venture in the prophets during this long, hot summer made complete sense. I believed, and still do, that through my time of prayer, God wanted me to tell these stories.
We have a really great time of worship for our students, every Sunday night. We call it Fortress. It is a media-rich environment, which is very, very cool for the American teenager, and the way we communicate to them is very, very relevant. We have also introduced, just this semester, a student worship team, with very talented students who can not only sing, but can also lead. And the potential is great.
Our meeting space has been renovated, and repainted. The acoustics are great, and the sound is awesome. And all of this is to teach.
I began this fall by beginning this new teaching series for our students, which I call OMG. These are the prayers of the prophets. These are their lives and their stories.
My teaching series is evolving. The first week we opened the book of Haggai, and discovered that the success of our relationships and our lives are determined by the importance we give to God. In Haggai, the temple — the very house and presence of God — was in ruins, and that, in turn, bled into the private lives of God’s people. As God begins His word to His people, He asks in Haggai 1:5 one of the questions that may be the hardest to hear come from the mouth of God: “Think carefully about your ways.”
If you want success, you must make God the only priority in your life. Maybe we should all give careful thought to our ways.
Just last night we opened the book of Hosea, and discovered some really great truths from a difficult marriage. The first act of ministry Hosea was given, by God, was to marry a prostitute. Read it for yourself in Hosea 1:2. And if that is not an OMG moment …
But there is so much more there. If you are a Jesus-follower, you, like Hosea, must be prepared to go places you wouldn’t go otherwise. You must touch and minister and be with people you may now consider to be untouchable. And, if you are a Jesus-follower, you, like Hosea’s wife, must also understand that any moment of betrayal you offer God is considered adultery to God. You betray trust, and you break a sacred covenant.
But, God loves you. Hosea 3 is filled with the story of Hosea’s continued love, and that is an even better OMG moment. God loves you. And you can’t outrun that.
I love Fortress, and I love what it offers our students. I love the ambiance, the time, and the growing devotion our students have to the Word of God. I love the time I spend with the prophets, and I love how God speaks to me through ancient voices, and how that story continues to a growing group of teenagers who seem to understand the need to hear from prophets long gone.