Rhythm // Crave 2016
I cannot believe Crave Conference 2016 is just 3 weeks away. We have been waiting, planning, dreaming, and preparing for this since last year ended 49 weeks ago and we could not be more excited to see this all happen for the 5th consecutive year.
As Crave is approaching, I thought I would share the idea behind this year’s conference. Last December, we took a short break from our weekly Forefront meetings for Christmas and New Years. Over the 4 week-long break that we took, I spent a lot of time praying for the coming calendar year. I asked God for vision and direction for everything 2016 would bring for our Youth and Kids ministry. I got it while reading the book of Matthew in Chapter 11.
I read verses 28-30 and I knew immediately that these words Jesus shared with his disciples was what would define our year, including this year’s Crave Conference. It reads “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly”
‘Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.’ As I read it over and over, it became more and more clear to me that this is more than an ordinarybible verse. This is Jesus inviting his followers to a way of life. The same invitation still stands today and these words are what we want Crave Conference to echo.
I grew up in the home of two high school teachers. My Dad is a Social Studies teacher and my Mom is a Choir teacher. Both of them have been excellent teachers in our small community for over two decades, and I have all the respect in the world for their commitment to excellence year in and year out. While both have been great, this post will key a little on what I have learned from my Mom. Sorry Dad!
I loved choir as a high school student, as did many of my peers! My high school has always had a great choir, mostly thanks to Mom. Being good always makes things fun, but for the most part, the individual members of our choir genuinely enjoyed singing, and each other! While loved to sing, there was one element of the class we all absolutely loathed. It was called sight-reading. In a nutshell, sight-reading was a 50 page booklet, packed with line upon line of rhythms we needed to learn and clap together both as a group, and individually. They started off easy and got progressively harder as the year went along. Sight-reading was monotonous, at best. People joined the choir so that we could perform songs and sing catchy tunes, yet my mom always had us spend a considerable chunk of our time doing sight-reading. We would come to our 40 minute class period and the first thing we would need to do was whip out the booklet and turn to a page of her choosing, and clap rhythms together. We would occasionally spend upwards of 20 minutes of valuable class time clapping, which seemed wasteful to us as students. This was choir, and we ought to be learning how to sing!
Eventually, we would get to our performance and time after time we would knock it out of the park. Once a performance ended, we would take the next day’s class period to relax, watch the concert together, and eat ice cream. After that, it was back to work in the sight-reading packet.
After watching excellence for so long, and experiencing it for myself in the 7 years I spent in her classroom, something finally clicked in my head as to why my Mom’s choir was so consistently great. She taught us all the most essential part of music: rhythm. In fact, one of the most recognizable sounds in the world to me is the sound of Mom slapping her thigh to the beat of a song. Any time we were in the sight-reading packet, listening to a recording, or learning a new piece, she would slap her thigh along with the rhythm of the song, loud enough for classes of 60+ students to hear. She would slap her thigh to the beat of songs until she knew that we had a handle of the rhythm. I’m still amazed that she doesn’t have a permanent red handprint on her legs!
Every day of each year, my mom spent a sizable chunk of class time teaching us rhythm because it was the foundation of our music. If we were all in rhythm, the rest would fall in to place. While we were all looking forward to learning our vocal pitches and notes, she was most interested in us becoming familiar with what was the base of what we would be singing. THAT is why her choir has always been excellent. She has an understanding of music, and no matter how long it takes, she understands that if the rhythm is not found, the rest is of little value.
I think that is precisely what Matthew 11:28-30 speaks to. I love this verse’s use of the word rhythm because walking with Jesus is to our lives what rhythm is to music. No matter how many incredible vocalists or instrumentalists there are in any given group, the music they play will be a jumbled mess if they do not stay in rhythm. Our life needs a rhythm, our life needs a beat. If it is not found then anything we do or accomplish may be impressive for a moment, but in time it will all fade. As long as a rhythm is kept, everything else can be sustained.
People all over the globe are Christians, yet I wonder how many of us are actually walking with Jesus. We are all drawn to the spectacular, and we reach out for it ourselves only for most of us to be disappointed by what life throws at us. I believe this passage out of Matthew 11 gives us the solution. Like the beat of a song, a walk with Jesus is the heartbeat for all that we do in his name. We might have all of the gifts, resources, talents, and abilities in the world, yet if we lose rhythm in our walk with Jesus, the rest is meaningless.
We want to see Crave Conference 2016 have a lasting impact on every individual life. We all have been to events that got us pumped up on the weekend, but come Monday, nothing about our daily walk has changed. Our desire is that you would leave conference this year ready to walk with Jesus, to work with Jesus, and to find a rhythm in your life.
We love you all so much and cannot wait to see what Crave ’16 brings!