Anthony LaRose Ocean City Update: Week 3                                   June 20, 2017

From: “LaRose, Anthony Kevin” 
Subject: Ocean City Update: Week 3
Date: June 20, 2017 at 11:07:41 PM EDT
To: Joel Greenwood 
Hello Again,
I’ve just finished up my third week here in Ocean City. Boy, has it been a wild ride. These past two weeks have been so fruitful and I’ve been able to see the Lord work in some pretty amazing ways. I’ve also been blessed with being challenged in plenty of new and difficult ways that require me to look into the scriptures and rely on my faith through it all. There has been a lot, so let’s see how good I am at remembering everything.
The second week of project started off on a really low note. One of the students that was on mission decided that it was better for him and everybody else that he leave Ocean City and go home for the summer. This came as a major surprise to me and many others. It was at our Monday night meeting that one of our staff members read off a letter that he had written to all of us. In the letter, he explained to us that he saw what it looked like to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in all of us, and that he didn’t have that same relationship. He had never committed himself to the Lord fully and continued to walk in the darkness, even while being in Ocean City. He recognized this and knew that he wanted to stay in that darkness and didn’t want to turn his life over to the holy and loving father. I can only describe the feeling I had as a spiritual punch in the gut. I had only talked to him once or twice in that one week, and I had no idea that these questions and doubts were swimming in his mind. Pray for my friend (I don’t want to give out his name for obvious reasons). Pray that he can truly see the light and recognize that the darkness and sin that he is living in right now has no eternal satisfaction or love within in.
During that Monday night meeting, we continued to look into the book of Romans and it really helped me focus on God in that tough time. Romans 5:1-5 shows us how to stand in peace, grace, and hope. We stand in peace knowing we struggle in the present but we are looking forward to the resurrection. We stand in grace in the present with the knowledge that we will never face judgment for our sins; that was done on the cross once and for all. We stand in hope recognizing that this world is not our home and this life is not my own. My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven and I’d rather let him control my life than myself. Our struggles in this life lead us into a chain of virtues in verse 4. Suffering leads to perseverance. Perseverance leads to character. Character leads to hope. This passage and Isaiah 40:28-31 really put my painful heart into perspective and made me lift up my friend in prayer. The passage speaks on how everyone becomes weak, tired, and weary. But, God raises us up in our weaknesses and short coming and provides the strength to persevere and ride on wings like eagles.
Our other meeting that week had an interesting visual display to go along with it. The topic was about all of the distractions that arise and prevent us from giving the Lord our full attention and time. Kyle, the staff member giving the talk, used the example of going into a Wawa (it’s like a 711, but better) and seeing all of the endless drink options. You can’t decide what to get. You have the coffee, but which kind of coffee. Then you also have the coke freestyle machine with literally thousands of options. Then again, you can go over to the fridges and get a bottled juice, powerade, energy drink, milk, flavored waters, etc. Also, the milkshakes and smoothies that they make to the order. Right when you’re about to decide, you forget all about the ice machine! See, there are so many options to choose from, but will any of these satisfy? These might taste good and maybe quench our thirst for a bit, but what does our body need? WATER! Our bodies are in desperate need of water, and not just one day where you get a lot of it and that’s it, but you need it continuously each and every day. We can’t go without it. Doesn’t this align perfectly with how we treat our relationship with Christ? Whether it be sports, relationships, jobs, television, music, food, social interactions, and many other. We so easily can become distracted with all of these things that can be used by the Lord, but we put these above our need for constant, daily interactions with our Father. We are in need of the streams of living water (the Holy Spirit). I know I definitely need to focus more on spending time with the Lord each and every day by getting into the Word, praying (talking & listening), and intentionally aligning my eyes on Jesus each and every day and thank him for all of the work he is doing in my heart this summer. In Luke 10:42, Jesus tells Martha that Mary chose what is eternal and most important, and that was time with Jesus.
In week 3, we continued our study of Romans and cam to Romans 6:1-10. The talk was titled “Dead Man Walking” which depicts us, as Christians, have died to our own selves and are raised to life only through the resurrection of Christ. Verse 1 asks the question, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Verse 2 answers with, “By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Why would we want to crawl back into the pit that sin is if this is true of us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. We are seen as 100% righteous in God’s eyes due to his grace and his grace alone through the blood of Christ. My identity, and the identity of every believer, is wrapped up COMPLETELY by Christ. Each and every sin, not just the small ones, or the ones that I remember, but each and every sin we have ever had, or ever will have. So why don’t we continue to sin and experience “more” grace. When we accept Christ into our hearts, we experience all of the grace we will ever need. We don’t receive more or less based on how “close” or “connected” we feel with the Lord. We also don’t continue to walk in our old ways of sin because we have experienced and actual heart and life change when the Spirit enters into our lives. Do we still sin? You bet. Do we still struggle with the struggles we’ve always experienced? Probably, yeah. Am I a child of God and now have the discerning abilities to learn and grow closer to the pure, holy, and righteous life that God intended for my life? That’s the answer. We continue to experience remnants of desire, will, and destruction. As long as we are in our “old bodies” we will wrestle with these remnants of sin’s mastery over us. When we are free from our bodies we will finally experience freedom from sin’s mastery and clutches.
Now that was a lot of information and not a whole ton about what has been going on in my life. Long story short, it has been an awesome two weeks since I last spoke to you all. I have been getting to know and pour into a lot more of the other students here and I’ve been blessed to learn and live with them as well. This week is our “Killing the Giants” week. Long story short again, which I hope to explain better in next week’s update, this is our week to go out and share the Gospel as much as possible and see how God tangibly is working in Ocean City this week and this summer. We were challenged to write down the number of spiritual conversations we were trusting the Lord to provide for us this week. The numbers were all added up and our total goal is 3177 spiritual & gospel conversations.
Prayer requests for our outreaches each and every day and night would be so appreciated and valued. The Lord has already used this week to bring some of his daughters and sons back into his warm and loving embrace. We are blessed with the opportunity to share this story of love and compassion with others so freely. I would love your prayers and I’m sure everybody else would as well, as the Father loves to listen to us and see our hearts align with the mission he has commanded of us throughout the Scriptures. I think specifically of the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20, and the Church in Acts 2, specifically versed 42-47. Verse 47 tells us that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” I see, tangibly, how the Lord used this week two years ago to bring people into the kingdom of heaven, and I’m already seeing students and staff take huge steps of faith the first 2.5 days of this week. I would also love prayers for me to continue to dig into the Word each and every day and have a greater desire to listen and meditate on the scriptures and hear what the Lord is trying to speak to me. I don’t want to continue to be distracted by all those things I mentioned earlier, specifically the fear of me missing out on some sort of social activity or hang out I could be missing due to my time spent alone with the Lord. Thank you all so much for reading my updates and, as always, I’d love to offer clarification or understanding on any of these subjects and many more that I just couldn’t fit into one update. I truly love talking about this stuff and would be blessed to hear your stories on how the Lord is using you or working in your heart this summer. Text works best, as I am busy almost each and every minute each and every day. Like I said in my support letter, this summer isn’t a vacation. It is lots of tough work and energy-draining activities, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. May the Father bless you all and help straighten your paths to those of righteousness.
In Christ,
Anthony LaRose