"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
While in college I was heavily involved with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. This was truly the first time that I started on a path of healing and maturing in Christ. I know that for many, college is a time that one's faith is heavily challenged, here I found the teaching and fellowship that would strengthen my faith and start a process of healing from my childhood scars. What was most important to this, was the love I received from the people there. I developed some of the best life long friends any one could ever have. We lived in a generous and accepting community. We prayed together, studied the Word together and laughed a lot together. It would be my sincerest prayer that everyone should at some point in time be involved in a fellowship like this. It is so freeing and refreshing. One thing that is so special and unique about these friends is that at any time that I reconnect with them, we can pretty much pick up right where we left off. We can easily share what's really going on inside. We can laugh, cry and pray together. It is a safe, and warm place that we all share.
We also had a lot of fun together.
Not only did we play sports, go to movies, go out to dinner, hang out talking for all too long a time (alas you could always find me between classes at the Memorial Union with John) but also we partied. Not like the usual college drinking party, but something just as crazy, but a lot more safe (and legal). John and I threw from what I gather now, were the be and end all dance parties of our college lives. It was pretty much one large mosh pit with everyone piled in. Cranking out hits from genres like Motown (Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Temptations), surf (Surfaris, Jan and Dean, The Beach Boys), soul (The Pointer Sisters) ,80s (in the decade of the 80s) and even Contemporary Christian (Leon Patillo, Steve Taylor); we danced the night away. It was a loud, frantic and obviously a memorable time.
"Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace."
For 10 years and then off and on for the next few years I either led or helped lead the youth groups at various churches I attended. It was a rich and rewarding time investing in young people's lives. Coming to know the Lord in my Middle School days always gave me a heart for that age group. Being the small awkward kid gave me a lot of understanding for this age group. After college I poured a ton of my time into the youth hoping that they would know Christ's amazing love and that His transforming power would deeply impact their lives. I know I taught countless numbers of Bible Studies and had the occasional very deep conversation that hit the important areas of a few of these kids. Like the IVCF group in college, we also had a lot of fun together. I realize how much I miss the laughter of youth - especially when knowing that some had very little laughter at home. I feel so privileged to know that many of these young people have grown up to be passionate about their Savior. Some are married and have their own families and few are even in full time ministry.
So where does this all connect to parties and boy bands?
As for college friends, we reconnected in Guatemala on a mission trip to the scenic Western Highlands in a little village called Panyebar. There, I got with some of my friends. When we got to memories of our days at Davis, my friend Bruce (who wrote a great article for Christianity Today) got hung up on one memory: our dance parties! It seemed that everyone in the group remembered them most fondly. No deep conversation, no insights in the Word, just the fact that at one point in my life, I threw a great party. Considering my teen daughters were there when he mentioned it, I'm not sure that's what I wanted them to hear.
Here's a picture of the "guys" in Guatemala:
Second, I went back to visit the church where I used to lead the youth group. I am so very excited to know that two guys I used to have in youth are now pastors there. The senior pastor is Jason Helveston who is an amazing young man. I know God is doing great things through him. Once again, we started to reminisce about the good old days. Again I held out on to the obviously vain hope that he'd remember a great conversation, or perhaps an insightful Bible study lesson that I had shared with him. It wasn't to be. His most significant remembrance of me? When he and I and three other guys in the youth group got up in front of the church and performed a bunch of N'Sync songs (This I Promise You, Bye Bye Bye, God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You). It seemed to be an important memory as before I hooked up with him, I bumped into his wife and the first thing she said was that I was "The guy who sang N'Sync songs with Jason." I'm sure that even in my late thirties, it wasn't a pretty sight seeing me dancing around singing songs I just learned about fifteen minutes earlier not to mention the fact that they were teen "pretty boy" love songs. Let's just say I'm not taking Justin Timberlake's place any time soon.
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. "
I've thought a lot about why people in my life remember things like dance parties and me making a fool of myself acting like a teen idol. My daughter Ariel gave me the insight that I was missing: Connection. In my all too self conscious self I most of time am unwilling to step out of my comfort zone. When I do step out, I am connecting with those I desire to minister to. Of course that is exactly what Christ did for us. In essence it's a Christ-like act to step out to connect with others. My introverted self struggles with that, but I know that in the moments that I do step out it has had an impact. The beauty is that the connection to others lasts eternally. So I'll say it proudly that I threw some great wild parties in college. Also, I am a retired member of the N'Sync cover boy band which we called Sync'N (which is pretty much what we did). More importantly, I get the joy of spending eternity with some amazing friends of whom I love deeply.
"Dance, children dance, children dance unto me..."