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Youth Winter Retreat Report

Our youth group just finished our winter retreat with the Crossway Association of Churches. The winter retreat is a full and busy 30 hours from Friday evening through Saturday night. We have group games and free time which includes gym time, broomball, tubing, tobogganing, a giant swing, and a coffee shop. We have 3 small group times and 3 chapel sessions which include games, worship music, and preaching. Before going up, each youth group creates a 5-minute funny video and we watch those at the retreat as well. They are usually pretty random and pointless, but still funny. You can see ours here if you’re interested- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybnM0QMIbuE

Our retreat speaker this year was Billy Nye who leads the youth group at Christ the King Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Billy chose for the theme of the retreat to be “Why, God: Trusting God When You’re Hurting,” and during the 3 chapel sessions, he preached through the little Old Testament book of Habakkuk.

In the first session, we looked at Habakkuk 1:1-2:4. In this section, Habakkuk voices his questions and complaints to God. He is asking why God isn’t acting and judging wickedness and making things right. God responds by telling Habakkuk that He is judging wickedness and that our timing isn’t God’s timing.

Billy spent some time teaching that the suffering that we face in this life pales in comparison to the eternal suffering that we all deserve. These temporal sufferings here serve as warnings for a the greater suffering for those who are not saved by God.

The next day, we looked at Habakkuk 2 to see that the righteous live by faith, and that we must trust God who is totally sovereign. Sometimes we have to wait, but in the end He will give us far better than we deserve. Hab 2:3 says “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” God then describes the “woe” that will come upon the wicked. But in all of this, Habakkuk 2:14 stands out as a great promise of hope: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Habakkuk finishes in chapter 3 with a song of praise to this sovereign God. Verse 18 says “yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength.”

We have some teens in the youth group who are going through difficult trials right now: loss of loved ones, relationship struggles, family struggles, etc. This study in Habakkuk was a helpful reminder to them that they are not alone. Suffering is a normal part of this life because we live under the fall and the curse. They were also reminded that we can trust God who is completely sovereign and completely good, and that through Christ, all things will be made right.

We also have some teens who are living through times of ease right now. For them, things at home seem fine and relationships are OK. Life isn’t perfect by any means, but there aren’t really any major trials. This retreat wasn’t wasted on them either. We talked about how learning these truths during times of ease will prepare them and fortify their faith so that they can stand when the storms come.

We learned a song together called I Will Follow that I thought was helpful. Even in the good and even in the storms, we trust and follow our God. You can listen to it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KynLDAGVdwk

I WILL FOLLOW
When the sea is calm and all is right
When I feel your favor flood my life
Even in the good I'll follow you, even in the good I’ll follow you

When the boat is tossed upon the waves
When I wonder if you'll keep me safe
Even in the storms I’ll follow you, even in the storms I’ll follow you

CHORUS
I believe everything that you say you are
I believe that I have seen your unchanging heart
In the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow you
I believe and I will follow you

When I see the wicked prospering
When I feel I have no voice to sing
Even in the want I’ll follow you, even in the want I’ll follow you

When I find myself so far from home
And you lead me somewhere I don't wanna go
Even in my death I’ll follow you, even in my death I’ll follow you
When I come to end this race I’ve run
And I receive the prize that Christ has run
I will be with you in paradise, I will be with you in paradise

Please pray with me that these truths will build up the faith of our youth at New Covenant.

Dan Leeper