Long time no see. Down to business.
CAMP NUMBER ONE!
Two weeks ago, there was a Grace Camp Meeting at Rockport Baptist Church which featured a number of great speakers. I really hope these guys preach this hard all the time, because I know that if I were preaching at a church, I'd be taking the street-sweeper approach, being as true to the Bible as I could be, but not worrying about opinions :) Just like Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, the message brought by God, (and ideally, by the people preaching it) shouldn't bring peace, but a sword.
There were a number of people who had to take a startling look at their own lives and realize they aren't as safe as they thought they were. Can I make this clear? We should not assume we are as safe as we are if our faith is based on an assumption other than what Christ did for us. This message brought a sword to what they were basing their faith on instead of bringing them peace about some "decision" they made.
And there was such a variety of sermons, all different topics, the whole thing was just like a taste of Heaven. So awesome. The fellowship was intense, we sat around discussing what we heard, and everything just seemed to be so God-focused. I'm just sorry I can't remember more because the details are fuzzy.
All the sermons (along with others that we post from a church normally) can be found at SermonAudio I've had an account with them for forever, and I don't know if hoops are to be jumped through. If you can't easily get an account and download stuff, let me know and I'd be happy to post them up on here.
CAMP NUMBER TWO!
The other camp, which is not so fuzzy because we just got back from it two days ago, was a youth camp out at Bates Creek. This was the second time I've ever been to Bates Creek, and it's with a bunch of people who grew up there for the most part.
I'm used to the kind of camps that focus more on activities than study and worship. The worship was like an afterthought put there by people who suddenly realized, "Oh. That's right, this is a church camp. We should talk about God or something."
And I feel bad for saying that, because in all probability, if they had a sample of what it was like at THIS camp, they probably would have structured it differently. But many churches seem to flock together on how they organize stuff, and this was at a time when packages and programs were what was being used. I remember at K-thru-six camp, they always had some kind of theme that the skits and activities centered around. I mean seriously, it came in a kit. A box, ok? And you could find it at a Christian bookstore. The kit was the size of a suitcase and in it, you found all the ideas you wish you had about how to keep kids distracted during a church camp. Youth camp wasn't much different. It just had loud concerts and the sermons were about topics geared toward that age bracket instead of the overall goal of learning more about God.
You want to know what kind of program we had for this camp? We had preachers preach. People brought their skillsets and used them for the glory of God and for service. One guy works at Starbucks and he brought out all his coffee paraphernalia and brewed coffee for people. We had people who were called "Ninjas" whose sole purpose was to serve and not draw focus to themselves. The sound guy brought his skills, and I'm glad, because I didn't know a thing about wiring up the sound in the tabernacle. There were fierce 3 on 3 basketball games and muddy volleyball to be had. The cooks made good food.
The main difference here was that, with kids at the first camp, their goal was to go to camp, get away from the folks for awhile, and have some fun. They got it. Those same kind of kids came to our camp, and instead of the focus being the fun, they found God waiting. And then they had better fun.
The last session, Aaron got up and asked if anyone had anything to say before we left. I came down front and spoke, and one thing I noticed was that I saw a lot of smiling faces. I mean tons. These are the kids in the age group whose cliche thing is not showing much emotion, just kind of mumble-grumbling along, not really caring. Apathy. But I saw smiles. And they weren't smiling because we'd gotten them high emotionally--some hard stuff was preached and it really turned heads the first night--this was solid smiling. I told them, "You all have learned some heavy stuff, and you'll be going back to school and home and to friends and talking about what you learned." For the hecklers on this blog, I want to point out that it's not because we made this into some kind of "Jesus Camp", but because what they learned, they can't HELP but to talk about.
The first night there, Scott preached a sermon. My wife was a "mole" in the audience (read: group leader) and she told me later on that a lot of kids around here were being really disrespectful until about a fourth of the way into the lesson. Then they totally got caught by what he was saying.
Afterwards, a young guy from Grubville was coming up and just started talking to me (his group was in the same cabin as ours) and was just BEAMING with CONFUSION or SOMETHING. And I said to him, I said, "Do you need to have a sit-down or something?" and he's like, "I don't know!" What he'd heard was so unexpected and true that he didn't know how to process it. But he knew he'd heard good stuff.
Before we had the first session we had a small group time with the kids in the cabins. Basically just asking a few questions about what they thought they'd expect, what their backgrounds were, their hobbies, etc. Also we asked a few questions about the whole subject of the weekend, which was "Don't Waste Your Life" (a book by John Piper). Not many deep answers were given. After the first session, something happened and people were just bursting with answers and questions they never knew they had. Charlotte's cabin had used almost ALL of the 2-hour break between a session and lunch just to discuss what they'd heard.
The whole weekend was cold and wet, and the tabernacle we were in doesn't have any walls--just a roof. So wind was whistling through constantly. Most of the camp was muddy and wet. We almost lost a van in the swamp. Kids looked like giant mudballs. the preaching was hard material. And after all that, at the front of the group, they were smiling.
That's what I'm talking about. Praise the Lord.
I don't get on here enough and flesh out ideas that I get. I really do have a passion for blogging, and you have no idea how many things pop in my head and I think, "I should put that on the blog..." and then never do. I almost forgot my username and password to even get on here today. Please pray that I can make time to blog in the future.