Camp Adventures: I Want Out

Camping has always been something that I have just loved. The outdoors is awesome. Everything from bugs to bonfires.

I was fortunate enough growing up to be in the Boy Scouts, and we went on many overnight camping trips. My dad always came with me and that was always helpful because I never knew what to expect at times. Different trips always provided a different experience.

This week a camper who has been here before came, and unfortunately there were several things that he was struggling with and eventually, a parent picked him up and he went home. (Side note- I won’t get into any more details about this to protect the person that just happens to be my illustration. .)

So, the camper went home, that was it. I was sad because I wanted this individual to have fun and hear the word of God presented. But, it hit me. This type of thing happens so often in the Christian life. We hear a Gospel presentation and it sounds so wonderful. Eternal life and a debt that we can never repay paid in full for a world of people that are so undeserving. What better news could one ask for?! That this gift of life is free and available to me and whosoever will if we just extend our hands and accept.

The Christian life can be a lot like camping. It all sounds good and looks good but we aren’t sure what to expect when we get started. Accepting Christ as your Savior does not mean that life automatically becomes a bed of roses and is smooth sailing. I wish that was the case but if I told you that, I’d be lying. We aren’t sure what to expect. Maybe it starts off great and then there are some things that we are just struggling with that seem like we can’t get over. Then slowly the smaller issues become bigger ones. Or one struggle ends and a new one begins. After a while we may start to think, I want out of this. I don’t want to continue. Questions of doubt and frustration begin to enter our minds. Is this worth it? Can I just quit and try again later? This isn’t what was mentioned in the brochure.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever thought that that following after Jesus sounded great but there are some things that have happened and you find yourself wanting out, or perhaps even angry at God. Maybe we want to take a break and come back to it another time. I’m sure we have all been there. I know I have. We could look at the seats in church on Sunday and probably think of a few people who use to fill the empty spaces, but now are no longer there or even walking with God.

My fellow brothers and sisters, don’t give up! Keep walking with God. Keep giving, keep praying, keep reading, keep studying, keep growing, keep fighting the good fight. You are not alone in this. You are not the only person that has struggles. You are valuable and have worth and you are an important piece of a giant puzzle board. The Christian life is not the easiest but it is the best life. All my good times with God and what I have seen Him do outweighs the bad times, it is not even comparable.

As 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” Maybe you need to revisit the day when you got saved. Or perhaps look through your Bible at different dates and events that have occurred in your life. Or revisit a favorite sermon or re-watch a conference. Whatever the case may be, go back and remember and relive the things that you have seen God do, and the things that you have learned from the Lord. Refresh and renew yourself. The old saying goes, failure is not an option, but neither is quitting. There is a lost and dying world out there that is searching for something. They are looking for hope in a dark world. Guess what my fellow believers, you and I, have the Good news to share, the Gospel. So, let us seek those that have fallen away, and pray through that God may use us as tiny instruments in the restoration of lives and furthering of His Kingdom.

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What Will You Do With Jesus

When I was a younger, I was always reminded by my parents that the choices that I make will always follow me. As I get older (and I’m not even old right now) I have realized that statement is very true. I have found this out the hard way a number of times, but I get it. In scripture, we see there are many different accounts of people that made good and bad decisions that had long-term effects.

In John 19:1-16 we see that Pilate and Jesus made some choices. But even before this passage we see that Judas had a made a choice as well. So let us briefly look at 3 different people who made 3 different decisions.

First, Judas. He sought out the Pharisees and went to them and asked, what will you give me if I give you Jesus? Judas had walked with Christ and seen him do many great things, yet he chose 30 pieces of silver over Christ. Now it’s easy to rip Judas, but how many of us have been like Judas? We choose something that has little value over Christ. Judas never did enjoy any of that silver that he had acquired from the Pharisees because he would later hang himself. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us that our treasures should not be laid up in the things on earth but in the things of Heaven. Looking at the outcome of the life of Judas and his decision to chose silver over Christ, it’s evident that the things that we invest in, especially sin filled choices, will leave us empty. Hebrews 12:1-2, encourages us to lay aside things that are weighing us down as we run our race that has been set before us. A runner wants to be as light as possible, and for us in the Christian life, there are things that we need to lay aside because they are weighing us down.

Second, Pilate made a choice. Had he made a different one than he had, our whole Bible would have been written very differently. In John 19:1-6, Jesus is brought before Pilate and as verse 12 says, “Pilate sought means to release him…“. But then something happens. Again in verse 12, “…but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” If Pilate were to have released Jesus, the Jews would have accused him of high treason against Caesar. Pilate gave into the crowd and what they were saying. So, let me ask this question: what crowds are we listening to? What voices are we listening to and letting influence the decisions that we make for the cause of Christ? Psalm 1, gives us encouragement that we can be blessed or some translations state happy if we walk NOT in the counsel of the ungodly. I personally have found that the listening to the right voices such as the voice of God first and foremost, my parents, pastors, and accountability partners have greater benefitted me that listening to the wrong people. The advice I have gotten wasn’t always the easiest or what I even what I wanted to hear, but I’d rather get counsel from those that have my best interest at heart, rather than those that could care less about me.

Thirdly, and lastly, we see Jesus. In John 18:10-11, as the soldiers have come to take Jesus away, Peter strikes a soldier with his sword and Christ quickly tells him to stop. He makes known to everyone that the cup that the Father has given to him, is for him to drink and that he must go through with what his purpose is. In verse 36, Jesus tells Pilate that if he truly wanted he could have servants or angels fight for him, yet he never gives that command. 1 Peter 2:21-24 tells us that Christ gave us the perfect example that we should follow, and because of the fact that he was obedient to his Father’s will, that “by his wounds, you have been healed.”

So, to whoever is reading this, and for myself as I feel conviction about this, what are we going to do with Jesus? Will we betray him as Judas did? Choosing something that seems like a great thing, but in the end, leaves us with nothing. Will be like Pilate, and give into the voices of the wrong crowds. Or will we be like Christ? Who not only said to the Father, ‘thy will be done’ but in actions followed through with that statement. It has been said before, “One prayer that will never go unanswered is, Father not my will but thine.”

So Much Time, So Many Different Bible Versions to Choose From

I was recently reflecting back to a time when I was in Africa, (last summer to be exact) and a friend and I were in a discussion about Bible versions. I had explained that in Tanzania, where I particularly was, they had the Good News Bible because that was what could be translated into Swahili because the King James Version could not be translated into their language very well.

Now, that got me thinking, there are many that are so baffled that people wouldn’t use the KJV Bible and only the King James Bible. I for one, prefer the KJV. If I am going to read scripture in a service or teach or preach it’s going to be from the KJV. I wouldn’t, however, say that I am KJV only person, I think a better way to say it is, I am a KJV preferred person.

Now some of you reading are already mad at me for stating what I just did, and that’s okay, I appreciate all opinions and input and this is just my personal conclusion that I have recently come to.

I can’t understand why people would say that other versions of the Bible are simply “not the word of God”. Who are we to say, well that’s not the KJV, therefore, you cannot learn and grow, so here, here’s the ‘right Bible’. I have many versions of the Bible and often times in my personal studies I will use different versions. One, for the different study notes. Secondly, to compare translations, because I do enjoy seeing the differences. Thirdly, because sometimes the different versions of the Bible help me to understand a particular passage better.

When I see others that have a Bible that maybe isn’t the Bible that I favor, I am not going to tell them their Bible is corrupted and inusable. Rather, it’s a blessing to see someone with a Bible, and by that I mean a paper one, (I don’t have a Bible on my phone, which is an entirely different post for another day). Rather than argue and bicker amongst ourselves, why not use what we have. Why not disciple someone using what they have, whether that be an ESV, NKJV, NLT, or NIV. I have run into many people and when I have asked them why they use the KJV only, they really had no idea. Which I can admit for a while I was the same way. I really didn’t know why I liked the KJV or thought that was the only Bible that there was to use.

There are many countries where the KJV Bible cannot be translated very well, and other Bible versions are used. And guess what, those Bibles are reaching, teaching, and impacting people’s lives. Why would that not be the case here in the USA. I almost feel that if we say that the KJV Bible is the only Bible that we are to use as Christians, then we are putting God in a box. We are almost saying that we cannot walk someone down the Romans with an ESV Bible, or that John 3:16 has no impact to anyone if it is the NIV version.

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it.”  It is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. The Bible doesn’t say God’s word will go out void if you are using an ESV Bible. God can, and he will use any version of the Bible. There is no limit to what God can use to touch the hearts and lives of the unsaved.

Think we need to be careful and draw a clear line in saying, ‘well son if you are going to teach, preach, read scripture here at this church we prefer the KJV.’ Rather than, “you use a Bible other than the KJV so you cannot preach, teach, or do anything at this church.” There are people in other countries that would die to have a Bible or pamphlet with Scripture on it. We have such wonderful freedom here in America, we can purchase Bibles anywhere and carry them anywhere we please. So why limit it to just one Bible.

I love God’s Word. I love that I get to teach, and preach, and read, and learn, and grow from it. I love when I am given any Bible of any version. They have all been a great blessing to me. So I challenge whoever may be reading, search out why you believe in what you believe. Don’t believe in something or hold hard to an opinion just because that is how you were

So I challenge whoever may be reading, search out why you believe in what you believe. Don’t believe in something or hold hard to an opinion just because that is how you were raised, rather search out and make your own conclusions. Be able to defend your views, whether it is Bible versions, or doctrinal issues or whatever it may be.