Saturday, June 24, 2006

Love Loves Truth

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - (1 Corinthians 13:6, ESV)

After only three weeks of camps this summer I am so encouraged by the deepened hunger for truth that I have experienced during my time of ministry to students. Typically, camps are a bit awkward the first few days, at least for me as the 'Camp Pastor/Speaker,' because the students and adult leaders are still trying to figure out if they like me and if I have something to say that is worth listening to. I understand this, I'm the same way whenever I am being preached to by some dude I don't know.

As I was praying going into the summer I was very specific in my requests, which were (1) Lord give me words to say that are based upon your truth, and (2) Give the students and adults a deep desire for your truth, even if it offends their flesh. My hearts desire is to serve as a catalyst/encouragement to spur all of my hearers into deeper intimacy with God. However, as many of you know, God has given me a boldness to 'say it like it is' and a security resting in His love for me and that my approval of man is not my primary concern.

The first camp I was a part of was from a church that is only about 5 miles away from my house. I know the area the students live in and that the majority of them live in an affluent area of town. Typically, students who are, shall we say, more privileged, don't usually like truth. They often prefer someone to come in and re-enforce to them that they are the greatest and that the Cross of Jesus Christ was a reflection of their vast worth. The truth that the cross was a horrible reflection of our moral failure and God's justice being poured out isn't usually very well received. So, knowing this I was resolved to obey God and say whatever He led me to, regardless of whether they liked it or not, because I truly love God, I love His truth, I do not rejoice at wrongdoing, and I love my hearers.

It's amazing to me how many people today do not love truth. I'd be the first to admit that there are times where truth hurts, but when spoken with the intention of encouraging people into closer intimacy with God, it is done in love. Back to the first camp...

These students not only met with God that week, but they are truly lovers of truth! I said some VERY hard things over the course of the week and these students realized that what was spoken was true, and rather than trying to argue, they repented!!! To be honest, I was surprised yet very encouraged by what God was doing! As the week progressed their hunger for God's truth increased and their passion for Him was kindled in an increasing manner.

This was a huge encouragement! Love does not merely give permission or make excuses for the sins of others. Love calls sin what it is and points those who are living in sin towards the truth. We MUST as followers of Jesus ask God to give us an increasing passion and desire for His truth. We must become lovers of truth. After all, love loves truth. We must not delight in the wrongdoing being done by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, rather we must delight in truth. This is only possible when we view sin as offending God and robbing those who are in sin from enjoying Him.

I think where we drop the ball as followers of Jesus is when we point out the sins of others with wrong intentions. If we point out sin in others just so that we can be 'right' or to feel better about ourselves, then we are not acting in love and in turn we become like 'clanging cymbals' (see 1 Cor. 13:1). Sin offends God, robs the believer, and it kills. Love delights in truth and consequentially points people away from sin and towards truth.

My friends from Kamp Kingsland, Horizon Camps, and FLM Camps are truly lovers of Truth. May God make us increasingly a people who do not delight in wrongdoing rather delight in truth. That is love...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Braelyn Nicole Cease IS HERE!!!

We are so excited to announce the birth of Braelyn Nicole Cease on Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 @ 11:31 a.m. CST. At 7 lbs and 11 ozs and 20 inches long she is doing quite well! Mama is doing great as well! We appreciate your love, prayers, and encouragement during this time!!!

Casey & Steph

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Braelyn Nicole Cease - Coming VERY Soon!!!

The countdown has begun. In just a few days Steph and I will be welcoming our newest edition to our family. Braelyn is due on my birthday, June 27th, but as we have been told by many, the due date is not very static. We do know however, that if she has not come by Monday the 26th that we will go ahead and get the ball rolling. The reason being that I only have 2 weeks at home to enjoy my baby and my wife before I head back to summer camps.

I am about to be a father... A FATHER!!! We have been showered with encouragement, tips, suggestions, warnings, and everything else under the sun. However, until it actually happens we are quickly realizing that we don't really know ANYTHING! The nursery is ready, we have all of the stuff we need that we know of, and everything is in order. We have been EXTREMELY blessed by our friends and families with their love and gifts providing much of what we need to meet the physical needs of our sweet little baby and we thank God for His faithful provision through those near us.

We are praying that Braelyn will wait to come anytime after June 23rd because I am still responsible to preach at one more camp this upcoming week in Marshall, TX. As I have shared this with my friends I have received many different remarks, laughter, and smirks. However, the Doc said that we should be okay, but I will be ready to leave if things should get rolling. Please join us in praying for anytime after the 23rd! :-)

God has been teaching me that my role as a father is HUGE! Being that I minister to thousands of students each year and counsel many, I realize that the father can either bless their child or curse them. A child's early idea of God comes from their father and if the father abandons, abuses, mistreats, neglects, or does not show love and encouragement the child's ability to grasp the idea of God as Father becomes very difficult. I am praying that I would not be a stumbling block to my daughter. I long to be a faithful, loving, and encouraging father. My only hope is found in God's faithfulness in guiding Steph and I as we take this step of faith.

I am also very aware of my calling to be the provider for my family, which I embrace and long for. The biggest tension I sit in at the moment is the temptation to lack faith and try to generate income rather than trusting in God's faithful provision. This is very silly of me because God has FAITHFULLY provided for all of our needs since the launching of this ministry. However, the impending reality of Steph no longer working, which means the loss of that income along with health insurance brings along even greater responsibility. I am grateful, though for all the family and friends that God has placed in our life to encourage us back towards Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. He is our provider and will provide. My prayer has lately mirrored that of the father in Mark 9, "I do believe, but help me in my unbelief."

What a privilege it is to be a husband and a father! Even with all of the worldly concerns that I may wrestle with, I am confident in God's ability in spite of my own. In closing, I would love to share with you the promise I read from Genesis 28 this morning that God made to Jacob,

"13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

As God promised to Jacob to be His God, His provider, and His leader, He promises this to us as well as we too are heirs of this promise in Christ. So, with the anxiety that comes from becoming new parents, we also rest in His faithfulness.

We love you and covet your prayers...