Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Concert that Blew Me Away

This summer I mentioned that my sister-in-law, JQ, and I went to a Christian concert. One of our local Christian radio station put together a 2 day music and worship festival. They brought in 16 major Christian recording artists and they had speakers, worship sessions, and workshops for youth leaders and music leaders. It was really nice because you could get tickets for exactly what you wanted, the whole weekend, just one day, VIP tickets, etc. As soon as they started advertising it on the radio and telling who would be there, I knew that I really wanted to go and JQ had been mentioning it too. I would have loved to see all of the artists, but the second day was the one I really, really wanted to see. The Saturday evening lineup featured Mandisa, 10th Avenue North, and Casting Crowns. JQ loves, loves, loves Mandisa and almost every time we talk about music she is mentioning her. I happen to love Mandisa as well. I find her music motivating and uplifting. I also love Casting Crowns, really who doesn't? So, insert really long story of how I decided to buy tickets that is boring to everyone else, but means jumping up and down joy to JQ and I here and let's just say I decided to buy tickets and that we couldn't wait to go to save time and me boring you. Anyway, the day finally came for the festival and we were super excited, but didn't quite know what to expect. We got there and saw Clayton King speak. He was an amazing speaker. He was funny but very clear about his message for Jesus. At the end of his message he gave an invitation and hundreds of people responded. Later in the evening they said that over 400 people chose to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior that day - Praise the Lord! After that Mandisa came on the stage. Let me just say WOW!!! She has an energy that is contagious and she is just on fire for God. She sang every song we hoped she would sing and she presented a message that felt like she was talking just to me. JQ said the same thing. Mandisa's message was about removing the masks and being real, accepting who you are because God accepts who you are, and that the only thing that matters when we look in the mirror is that we see a child of God. I can tell you this message still lingers in my thoughts because it was so clearly what I needed to hear and it was truly like God was using Mandisa to speak directly to me. I love Mandisa and her music even more now and if you ever get the chance to see her in concert, GO! The next band that came on was 10th Avenue North. I have to admit that I didn't really know much about them other than the handful of songs I had heard from them on the radio so I truly didn't know what to expect from them. I didn't know if I would know any of their music or (being completely honest) if I would like them. They took the stage and they ROCKED! I recognized most of the songs they sang and then felt silly for not knowing if I would like them. I loved them, they were great - a little loud but great. They also had a wonderful message about forgiveness and grace. Who doesn't need reminders about those topics? I certainly do. God spoke through 10th Avenue North that day too. They spoke about how we need to have grace to forgive others and forgive them even when we don't think that we can because Jesus gave us grace by dying on the cross for us. They also spoke about it doesn't matter who we are (successful business person, stay at home mom, singer, actor, etc.) in life, it truly only matters that we are children of God and have a deep personal relationship with Him. One song they sang that still is in my head said something to the fact of "Father help me have the grace to forgive them even when I feel like the one losing." I don't believe that is the exact line (it is a new song for them from their album that will come out this fall), but it was the message of it and it really just touched my heart because sometimes I do struggle to forgive because I don't want to lose or be hurt, but if we ask God can help us work through it. The closing act for the evening was Casting Crowns. WOW, WOW, WOW!!! I love so many of their songs and I think they sang every one I loved. They were fantastic! Their message they shared was that everyone is messed up and has issues, but it doesn't matter to God because He can help you and change you if you just let Him into your life. The festival was a true blessing. I felt God speaking to me through the entire evening and really used the messages to renew my commitment to God. I opened my heart and let God speak to me about the things I need to change and how I can serve Him. I walked away from the evening renewed and refreshed in God and I am so happy that we ended up going to the festival since it was such a blessing.

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