Report from Florida
A few weeks ago I wrote about the youth group’s summer plans, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to give an update on our latest venture, the RYM Florida Conference.
First of all, a big thank you is due to the congregation for generously supporting our trip. Between the Rent-a-Student jobs and our spaghetti dinner fundraiser, we had an easy time raising all the trip costs. Thank you for investing in our youth!
Reformed Youth Ministries (RYM) “exists to reach youth for Christ and equip them to serve.” Their summer conferences reach nearly 3000 students each year with word driven, God centered, and gospel focused teaching and programming. The RYM Florida Conferences are fantastic, but it’s a big commitment, so we travel there once every four years. We want to give all our high schoolers an opportunity to attend during their time with us.
We left on our trip right after the worship service on June 28, spent the night at a church in Tennessee, and arrived in Panama City Beach on Monday afternoon. We joined the fray of about 600 other teens and chaperones from numerous Presbyterian and Reformed churches. The students wasted little time getting to the gorgeous beach across the street from the facility.
Our days consisted of morning devotions, worship, elective classes, afternoon free time, and evening assemblies with activities, worship, and preaching. The main speaker for the week, Les Newsom, addressed us from the Gospel of John, giving four of Jesus’ analogies for what it means to be “in him.”
Over the four nights Les taught on
(1) the vine and the branches (John 15:1–5),
(2) adoption (John 13:36–14:7),
(3) the meal—eating Christ’s flesh (John 6:53–58), and
(4) marriage (John 17:20–26)
We heard about how we were meant to be connected to Christ in the same way that, to use a contemporary analogy, a hospitalized individual is dependent upon an IV. We learned the difference between viewing God as a demanding boss versus a loving Father. We contemplated our society’s disordered relationship with food and what it means to savor Jesus as we would food. We marveled at Jesus’ own eager anticipation to be united with us akin to a groom’s thrill over seeing his bride come down the aisle at his wedding.
Our elective classes covered topics such as principles of Bible study, the doctrines of grace (i.e., the five points of Calvinism), abiding in Christ through a deeper grasp of the gospel, and a biblical discussion of gender and sexuality.
This last class was particularly poignant given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in favor of same-sex marriage. In the four sessions of the class, Pastor John Stone helped us see that we often misconstrue the whole issue by viewing same-sex attraction or transgenderedness as unique manifestations; on the contrary, since the Fall all of mankind has been sexually broken! Stone’s approach was firm, respectful, challenging, loving, and deeply biblical.
And of course we had tons of fun on the beach, so here are a few pictures to close this out.
Yes, that is a dancing banana.