Saturday, June 28, 2014

Remedy for Stinkin' Thinkin'

The days after camp, even as an adult, were prime times for Satan to try his hand at causing you to choose some “Stinkin’ thinkin’” instead of thoughts that God says are true.  Camp is one of those rare times when you don’t have electronics to deal with, your primary goal is to listen and respond to what God is telling and teaching you, and you are surrounded by peers and adults who encourage you along the way.  Then it is back to reality.  Even as recently as last week, I had to confront some of those thoughts and remember that “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a) what Jesus came to give.

Recognizing Satan’s work is the first step to stopping it.  I notice it when: 
* Comparing myself to others.
* Second guessing if what I am doing is the right thing to do.
* Focusing thoughts on me instead of others.
* Reading into situations and making assumptions.
* Reminding myself of past mistakes and failures.
* Forgetting that it’s availability that God wants and that he’ll take care of the ability and details.

Instead, I need to take to heart the last part of John 10:10 when Jesus says, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 

To get rid of the “Stinkin’ thinkin’” it is important to remember that:
* God keeps watch over me.
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”
  Psalm 17:8

* God has provided a way for me to stay close to him and resist the lies and destruction of the enemy.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7

* God is the greatest and he gives me strength to overcome.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
I John 4:4

* When I keep my focus on Jesus, it helps me keep things in perspective.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:1, 2

* There are specific things to think about to have the right kind of thoughts, actions, and reactions.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8

All the time, not just when I’m at camp or retreats, I need to be intentional about spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, listening to and obeying what God asks me to do, and surrounding myself with people who challenge and encourage me to be like Jesus.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Quilt/Comforter

Rob and Robin have worked in the high school division at church for many years.  On Sunday mornings, they taught 11th graders truth from God’s Word.  After each Bible study lesson, Rob would challenge his young men with, “So what?”  How are you going to apply what you have just studied from the Bible?  What difference is it going to make in your life?  But the investment in their lives didn’t stop on Sunday mornings.  They would go to their ball games, Camp Tallowood, and other activities to support them.  Long after students promote from their department, the ministry continues as they pray for, keep up with, and love and encourage the young people.

Rob and Robin, with son Alex, at Camp Tallowood, Camp Eagle

Last summer, after Camp Tallowood, Rob was diagnosed with cancer.  Instead of planning to die, Rob valiantly fought to live and bless his family, friends, and co-workers.  On December 4, 2013, Rob met Jesus face to face.  For the past few months, Robin has been piecing together a quilt out of Rob’s Camp Tallowood t-shirts, while remembering special times, lessons, and relationships from different camp years in the process.  And just like Robin, as she was tying off each section of the quilt, she spent time praying for the 6th to 12th grade young people who would be attending camp this summer.  Camp Tallowood began on Father’s Day, June 15, and Robin, along with her quilt, once again went to camp as a sponsor.   Another summer camp listening to her Heavenly Father and investing in the lives of His children.  My prayer is that the quilt will be a comfort to Robin as she remembers her times with Rob and others at camp and will also be a piece by piece reminder of God’s provision, encouragement, peace, protection, hope, joy, and care during these days.


As Robin would give updates on the progress of her project, I began to picture the quilt/comforter as a visual representation and reminder of the Comforter that God sent to be with each of us when Jesus went to Heaven. God knew that the early believers and we would need someone to remind us of His great love for us, to lead us to Jesus, to encourage, teach and convict us.  And like Robin’s quilt, God wants us to feel His presence and be wrapped in and comforted by His protection, provision, care, hope, faithfulness, and guidance as piece by piece He adds our lives to His story.

But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of me*—and by the Comforter I mean the Holy Spirit—he will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you.
John 14:26 (Living Bible)

“But I will send you the Comforter—the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.
John 15:26 (Living Bible)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Saturday, June 14, 2014

VBS and The Jerusalem Marketplace

The theme for this year’s Vacation Bible School was The Jerusalem Marketplace.  The gym, chapel, classrooms, and courtyard were decorated to give the children an idea of what kinds of shops and activities could have been part of Jesus’ life in Jerusalem and nearby areas.  The kids were able to dress in first century clothing, walk through the marketplace shops, stop to hear about the importance of bread and spices, make a musical instrument, stomp in mud and straw to make bricks, weave a basket, make jewelry, go to the synagogue, see live animals, watch a fisherman repair his net, seeing how to make a rope, make a seal, embroidery, make sandals, meet with the scribes, engrave, see a stone cutter and even more.  Some tasted food that would be common for people in that part of the world to eat.  But more important than the visualizing and experiencing of what Jerusalem was like in Bible times was that the children heard the stories of Jesus every day.

All week long I have thought about how much Vacation Bible School is similar to the early church.

* Much prayer and preparation went into the details of the experience.
* The children and teachers were eager to meet together each day.
* Children came and invited their friends to come with them.
* Every day the children heard stories about Jesus and His love for them.  Some chose to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
* They shared life experiences together.
* As parents met their children afterwards, they excitedly shared what they had done and heard that day.
* Like the early church, the children and adults collected money to buy and send materials to orphans in another country so they too can hear the stories about Jesus and His love and purpose for their lives.

In these coming days, may we also remember, learn, and put into practice the lessons from the early church and Vacation Bible School, even if it means getting our feet dirty. 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 1:42-47

(Thanks to Kimberly McClain, Laura Rogers, and Larry for the pictures.)