Just think! 3 more months until a week in sunny Orlando!
Taking part of a small part of the planning process for convention this year gives me this idea that convention is FINALLY approaching and I am so excited!! The theme for this year seems to bring us back to the common core of our faith: the Love of God shining through us. Having Easter this month as well is an awesome reminder that Jesus’ entire life was a verb of love. Everything he did was to show God’s love to the world.
As we gather this summer, I am excited to rest in the biblical reminder of love in action. The songs this month I chose as a preparation for each of our journeys to Orlando reflect on different bits of love and the different ways it can be shown. There may be some songs I’ve shared before, but BOY do their messages go hand in hand with this month’s theme. Reflecting on the love of God for us, personally AND intimately, puts us in a stable and peaceful state of mind, which in turn can rid us of anxiety and fear that can appear when big groups get together. (Especially those of us who are introverted and big groups of people in any form exhaust us). We all come from different upbringings, different struggles, different achievements, different incomes, etc. The fact that we can come together means there are TONS of different gifts of showing love in one place! I pray that as we start finalizing our travel plans for our youth groups that we take the time to mentally prepare ourselves to put love into action with those we treacle with and owe who have travelled to be in community with us.
P.S. Don’t forget to show yourself a bit of self-care love before AND after Convention because if you aren’t loving yourself first, it’s a lot harder to show others love!
Look Like Love by Britt Nicole
“It’s up to you and me to leave a legacy. If we’re all they ever see…”
This song was the inspiration for the curriculum I wrote for my high schoolers this year. If we are truly to have our lives buried in Christ, then we got to start from the bottom. Start radiating love to all we meet, because who knows if we are all they ever get to see.
You Put This Love in My Heart by Keith Green
“You gave me no time to choose”
God put that love in our hearts from the very beginning. The excuse we use that we don’t know how to show love to others can be a very thin argument. Plus, we have a great handbook telling us what it looks like.
You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim
“We all need a little honesty…if it hurts, but you can’t find healing…”
Our youth just want to be loved. They doubt that no one understands them and that no one can love them because of how often they mess up. Can’t we all feel like that at any age?! They need our love…just like the people they meet need some love too.
Love With Your Life by Hollyn
“Don’t look to the left or right – you know the future’s worth the fight”
We can’t compare ourselves to those around us…you have to look within and know that God has called us to fight for him! Only he doesn’t give us physical weapons to fight with…he gives us the power of his love!
Love Broke Thru by tobyMac
“You found me in the darkness…wanderin through the desert”
When God’s Love breaks through a bubble of hurt and brokenness, it is a beautiful thing! And honestly, choosing to step out of the familiar bubble is a whole other battle…but we have to leave room for Love to do its work and watch God show off His Kingdom to us.
Common Ground by Julianna Zobrist
“Is this a bridge worth dying on…a hill to crucify upon?…Our bitterness will never save us…we’ve got to find some common ground”
I’ll be honest, I would’ve never found this song on any charts if I weren’t a lifelong cubs fan ( #GoCubsGo ) PLUS her husband was from my hometown area of central IL. But after checking out her albums, I was inspired. Let’s be honest with each other: there have been some hurtful things said and done from all corners of our conference lately. But our bitterness won’t save us…we need to embody the theme for this year to EACH OTHER if we ever plan on pushing others to love all those around us. And I for one don’t like it when my youth call me out for falling short on sharing love with others, so I know that if we want to lead our youth, we’ve got to stop beating around the bush, and start loving each other first.
When I Pray For You by Dan + Shay
“It ain’t gunna be easy; it ain’t always gunna be fair”
I strive to pray for each of my youth & their parents every night…even though they aren’t my own kids. But God does the work in them before anything he gives me to share with them…so I pray that they remember to rely on God when things get hard…but this song cut straight to my heart when I first heard it. Loving our youth is different and not always fair…but God has called us to love them.
Because of Your Love by Chris Quilala
“Hallelujah, I’m forgiven”
There are times we forget to show love or it’s just too dang hard so we fall short. But thank the Lord, he gives second and seventy seventh chances…keep striving to give love no matter how long it takes!
Oh, Love That Will Not Let Me Go feat. Audrey Assad by Robbie Seay Band
“I cannot close my heart to thee”
When we’ve loved and then felt deep hurt, it’s easy to close our hearts to certain people because of one experience. This updated hymn is a good reminder for us all.
Real Love by Hillsong Young & Free
“Love beyond my control…this is real love”
He never lets go…his is REAL love. Our youth are looking to be loved, but until they are shown the REAL love of God, they won’t know what love is supposed to be. Luckily, we are given the opportunity and privilege to share it with them.
Live Like You’re Loved by Hawk Nelson
“you’re working way too hard…he loves you like you are…it’s okay to act like you’ve been set free”
We are already loved! We don’t have to earn that, so it’s okay to get giddy about that! I’m talking like giddier than when you’re in high school and you find out your crush likes you too! It’s okay to look like you were given laughing gas because the love God has for us is so overwhelming at times you can’t help but smile….and smiles are contagious!! My junior highers started singing along to this song the first time they heard this…so I feel like it’s a good one!
What Love Really Means by JJ Heller
“Who will love me for me…not for what I have done or what I will become”
Some people have never experienced Love like God’s…they are the ones who can sometimes be the most needy, but they sometimes need an extra dose because they are a parched soul…and when they get a taste of that life-giving water, they cannot stop thinking about wanting more!
Love Take Me Over by Stephan Curtis Chapman
“God, please take all of me and fill me up with your Love”
This is a great prayer to begin your day with!
Oh How I Love Jesus by Chris Willis
“Because He first loved me”
This hymn is sung through the genres, plenty of awesome renditions…but this soulful version is so beautiful! Because He first loved us, THAT’S why we can love others! How cool is that?!
Loving You Is Easy by Chris August
“Loving you is elementary”
We can overthink loving others…but it’s natural. God weaved it into our being. Loving God & Jesus is just so easy once you know the whole story! Plus, youth love love songs! Here’s one that doesn’t mention physical attraction, which let’s be honest, is very hard to find these days.
No Greater Love by Smokie Norful
“The Son gave His life for me”
Song filled with John 3:16 kinda love…how much better can it get?!
Worth It by Francesca Battistelli
“not a feeling…not convenient…takes sacrifice..cuts like a knife..make you cry..but it’s worth it”
I will gladly admit that loving the way God loves takes so much energy and effort and it can really hurt…but you know what, God asks us to do it daily. And since I’m trying to please God and not others, I know it will be worth it!
~Ashley Litwiller is the pastor of worship and youth at Arthur Mennonite Church (IL)