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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Camp Adventures: Get Excited About the Little Things

Well, last week at camp was a light week. Light in the sense that there were not that many campers numbers wise. This was probably due to the fact that it was a holiday week, as the 4th of July was last Wednesday for those that forgot what the date was and what day of the week it is.

So Monday I was really pumped, here it is the second week of day camp, not really feeling tired yet, only for some of the senior staff members to tell me to give it a few more weeks. Wednesday came and I was not really sure what the day was going to look like. The weather was not the most promising looking thing either. Only a handful of campers showed up, as expected since it was after all the Fourth of July.

My fellow counselor and I doubled up on devos, she went first and I followed after her, because you know, always have to do the gentleman thing and let the ladies go first. I shared with the campers about the ultimate freedom that we have in this life. The freedom that we have to carry Bibles wherever we want, have worship services whenever we want, and how God gave his only Son, to die on a cross for our sins and the sins of this entire world so that we have a relationship with God.

Overall, it was a relatively normal day at day camp. Shortly after all the campers left, something struck me, throughout the day I had been struggling to be excited about the various day’s events. I blamed it on the lack of campers that we had that day. Ironically, had there been an overwhelming number of campers, I probably would have made the comment that I can’t wait until they all go home. Then the Lord struck me with something that was convicting and encouraging.

In Matthew 14:15-21, we see the well-known passage and the account of Jesus feeding 5,000 people. That’s the end of the story. I know you usually tell stories from the beginning, but I wanted to change things up here. The beginning of the story, Jesus only had 5 loaves and 2 fish to work with. Yet, the Bible said Christ blessed and gave thanks for what was provided to him. Now, if I had been there I may have laughed to cover up the frustrating feeling that I would have been having. You’re out all day, in the heat probably, getting hungry and 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish are all is what is being offered for dinner. A valiant effort and innocence of the willing young man that brought these things may have made me laugh, but I would have all sorts of things to say. Yet Christ blessed the gift. The hymn says, “little is much when God is in it.” What seemed like little numbers wise, became much and everyone ate, was filled, and there was even plenty of leftovers.

Sometimes as Christians I think we get so caught up in how much, numbers wise, is in the basket, that we forget about the quality of what is in the basket. The Bible didn’t say that the fish were too small, or old, or an uneditable type of fish, just that there was only two of them. It didn’t say that the bread was a small loaf or a gluten-free loaf, or that some liked the bread and others didn’t, just that there were only 5 loaves amongst thousands. I lost track what was in my basket, and just looked at the numbers. Only had 2 campers, yet I could have invested and built a strong lasting foundation of a friendship with these 2 campers instead of wondering what do I do with them today. What I needed to do was to be thankful and bless what was provided and let God provide the increase. In the Christian life, there are going to be things that maybe we plan, or try to plan, or and the attendance numbers can become discouraging. Yet, whether thousands come to church or 5, we can be excited. Where two or three are gathered God is in the midst of them, as we are promised in Scripture. But also, those that attend could be the most faithful, dependable, and the most committed believers that we know and God can and will use them. Whether there are many are or just a few, it isn’t all just about numbers. No matter what the numbers, God can and will continue to do great and mighty things with whomever and however many, as long as we are willing to follow after Him.

Camp Adventures: Getting Hooked

I love the woods and nature, just the ability to be completely surrounded by God’s magnificence is truly wonderful and such a blessing.

Here at camp you don’t have to look too far to realize there are life lessons and sermon illustrations that can be found everywhere.

Fishing, what a great way to spend time. The other day the kids were fishing and I was helping out. I was told, “they really never need help, you’ll be fine.” The irony of that statement. All was well, then suddenly yells and all kinds of chaos broke out, as one kid thought that he caught the “big one”. What we soon realized was, he caught a big one alright, but not a fish. He caught a turtle. I thought, well so much for them never needing help.

The turtle obviously was not too thrilled about the hook that was deep into his upper lip. When I tried to wiggle and get the hook out, he tried to pull away from me and go back into his shell and kept fighting me. What he didn’t realize was, that I was only trying to help him and he was making it worse.

Then it hit me, this was me at one point. Sin had taken a hold of me and everyone that was trying to help I resisted. The more that I pulled away and fought with the ones trying to help, the deeper into trouble I got.

Back to the turtle, the turtle finally wore himself out and at that point I was able to wiggle and maneuver the hook out of his mouth. I then dropped him back off in the pond and off he went. But, here’s the thing, there is the chance that very turtle can get caught again. Or, because he has been severely wounded, something else may come along and take advantage of his injuried state and he could be the dinner special on someone’s menu.

Again, this is us to some extent. We fight and fight and finally we get to a point where we can’t fight anymore and we accept help because we no other choice. Sin will wound us and leave us exposed. The damage that is done we aren’t really aware of, but we aren’t the same.

Now, there is hope in the midst of all this. Galatians 6:1 tells us that,”those that are over taken in fault, ye which are spiritual restore such one in a spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Those that are spiritual does not mean that if you think that you are a super Christian you have the right to bash and kick people while they are down. It means that when you see others fallen into whatever has them hooked, that we encourage them. Most importantly we pray and pray and do what we can to restore that individual with the tools and resources that God has given us.

So if you are the turtle fighting those that are trying to help, may I encourage you that those who are trying to help mean no harm, but truly do want what is best for you. But don’t fight so hard, especially God, and create for yourself a situation where you have no where to go but to God. Because rock bottom is never a pretty place to be. Accept the help while it is being offered. If you are the one trying to get the hook out, understand that helping someone takes patience, gentleness, and most importantly love. May we all help restore one other to better serve and run our race that God has set before us.

Asking for Prayer

I often feel as though, people have enough things to worry and stress about they don’t need what I’ve got going on as an added burden and if you are anything like me, you never want sympathy from anyone.

In Romans 5:30  it says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”

Here Paul is beseeching, which is another word for begging, for believers to pray for him, together. I don’t believe it was because he thought that the members of other churches had forgotten about him. I believe that he himself undestood the real power of prayer, of getting a hold of God through prayer, and seeing the results of bringing requests before God.

Paul humbled himself and asked others to pray for him. Sometimes my prides gets in the way and I come up with the wildest excuses of why not to share my struggles with anyone else. Things such  as, “They have enough going on, they don’t have time to add me to their prayer list.” Or, “I’ve got this.” Most famous line, “I don’t need any help.”

The truth is I need help. A lot of it actually, and the reality is, we are all in need of help in one way or another. Whether it’s financial, or physical, or spiritual, we all need help. Even if we think we don’t need  help, we can always use it anyway.

What better way to help someone, by lifting them up in prayer. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in the time of need.”

Now you may think that’s great but I don’t need any prayers because I’m hanging out in the shade drinking pink lemonade, life is all good. Well, if you’re on a mountain top so you say, here’s what the beginning of chapter 15 in Romans has to say.

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let everyone of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.”

So those that are doing well, find someone that you can help out and minister to through prayer. Even if someone doesn’t express to you verbally that they have a heavy burden on them, pray for them anyway.

So I challenge to be praying for others. And not just saying, ‘I’ll be praying for you’ because that’s the spiritual cliché thing to say someone, but actually praying. Prayer is powerful. Without prayer, where would any one of us be right now? Prayer together as one body of believers, we can still see miracles happen.

 

“Is there any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” – James 5:13

 

Be Strong and Courageous

Have you ever had a job or get assigned a task and you think to yourself, why in the world was I chosen for this? There is no way that I can get this done. I have often felt that way about numerous things.

In I Chronicles 28, David gives instructions to Solomon to build the temple. But he doesn’t just give him the instructions and then send him off on his merry way. He encourages him as well. God did the same thing with Noah, he gave him in the instructions on how to build the ark and then provided everything that he needed to complete the task that was before him. Joshua was left to complete a task after Moses had died, and he may have thought how am I ever going to get this done. But God encouraged and reminded Joshua that he was going to see him through all the way to the end.

“…as I was with Moses, so will I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Joshua 1:5 Again, in verse 6 he tells Joshua to be “strong and very courageous.” And then a third time in verse 9, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” 

I often need to be reminded of verses such as Hebrews 13:5, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God doesn’t just give us a task to complete and then fold his hands and sit in a rocking chair and wonder to himself, I wonder if they can handle that one. No, thankfully, God provides and sustains us through whatever task he gives us.

David encourages Solomon in I Chronicles 28:20 “And David said unto his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it; fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of God.”

Our issue and mine as well, is that we often already have a pre-assumption that whatever God wants us to do we aren’t adequate enough to complete, so why bother even trying. What’s the point? The point is that we have gifts and skills that God gave us, and if we are willing, he will work through us and allow us to use those strengths for his glory, and in a way yes, we aren’t really adequate enough to really do much of anything for God, but that’s why we need his help! He’ll see us all the way through.

God will even provide the right people to come along side of us and help as well. I Chronicles 28:21, “And, behold, the course of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skillful man for any manner of service, also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment.” 

Just like a baseball team, you can’t show up with 9 pitchers. You need a catcher and a pitcher and all the other positions filled. The pitcher can’t just do everything on their own, thats why they need everyone else on the field supporting them. As Christians we can’t do everything on our own. We can’t do anything without help from our Heavenly Father. With God helping us, willing and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ helping us as well, we can accomplish whatever God has asked us to do!

 

 

“Two are better than one; because they have good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Being confident if this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6