Sunday, August 14, 2011

the shortest way home.

as i reflect back on the week in itself and the "eventful" weekend that i had, i cant help but think that God has me right where He needs me.

i finished my first week up at school, and even though this is totally new for me, i have a feeling that this year will be an amazing time of growth for me as well as my students. i have already grown to love them all so dearly and they are consistently challenging me. it also doesnt help that there is never a dull moment. i already have some pretty funny quotes....

i have missed my family here in Jackson/Clinton/Byram. it is so neat to have come back to a place and see what has happened since i have been gone. my church family has grown so much over the course of the summer, and i love the fact that they are in total pursuit of the Lord and His working in their lives. thats the real Church right there. granted that we are not perfect, but we are trying. i love them all.

so i have also been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and can i tell you that it is blowing me away. Lewis is such a simple writer, and im pretty sure that he claims to be simple, but his stuff is so deep. im having to read and reread several times before i get a grasp of what he is saying. i read this beautiful passage this afternoon, and let me tell you, it speaks so soundly of my own heart right now:

"I may repeat 'Do as you would be done by' till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward--driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home."

my heart is right along with his words here. i desire to continually pursue this love that has been lavished on me. and in doing so i love on others and by doing that i have to pursue an obedient lifestyle. not for my own selfish gain, but rather as a sign of surrender to my King.

im sure that i can and will write more on this guy, but honestly as long as it has been taking me to read it, i dont think i have the time to unpack it all....

and to end this wonderful post--things i miss:
-my family
-my girlfriend
-furniture (i have very little right now)
-playing soccer
-running on a consistent basis
-my dog

well, thats all i got for now. so until next time.....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

so much to say.

i have been trying to process this past summer in more ways than one, but i have ben so busy that i havent had time to rest and reflect. granted that i took my plane trip to read and listen (and sleep), but i really havent taken the time to process everything that the Lord showed me and taught me this summer. so here is my first feeble attempt to do just that....

**please disregard any incomplete thoughts and/or unclear stories that may be represented below. thanks.

wow. this summer has been one whirlwind of a summer. as many of you know i spent my fourth summer on staff with CentriKid Camps, and i know that i say this every summer (and there is so much truth in it), but this was the summer that i grew the most.

when i arrived at the airport in May and awkwardly met some of the people that i would be serving with, gave away my number to parents i didnt know so they could check on their child, and found out i would immediately be driving a truck all summer, i was NOT even close to being ready to let God change my heart--but that's the beauty of it all, sometimes we arent always ready when He is. in that i actually find so much comfort. weird, huh?

training week passed and i became quickly close (that sounds funny) to my team in more ways than one. from long nights laughing to wonderful conversations. i was immediately blessed by a wonderful group of individuals. i know that i have long life friends from this group of people, and i cant wait to see where the Lord takes all of them.

my role changed a lot this summer at camp. i had the wonderful privilege of not being a bible study/team leader anymore...and for those of you that know me i would have never said that was a privilege at the beginning of the summer because that is all i knew...but rather, i had the wonderful opportunity to be the camp pastor. and let me tell you, that is a very humbling experience. and the funny thing about being camp pastor is that you have to be on stage. and little note about me, i dont like large crowds. im an introvert at heart and desire to be alone or with a small group of people. my heart is for discipleship and so it was funny when the Lord placed it on my heart to serve him in this new role. but i was reminded this summer by a very godly man while i was at Eckord College in Florida. his name was mike. mike was the senior pastor at his church and he is a very humble man. when we were discussing these things as listed above, he reminded me of the life of Jesus (go figure). and what he told me i will never forget, and i used it as motivation to continue to pursue Him. what he told me was is that Jesus loved one-on-one ministry. He loved to be with the people. He discipled the tweleve, He ministered to widows and orphans, and even spent time with the government officials. but when He was asked by His heavenly Father, He would step away from the intentionality of small groups to minister to the multitudes. wow. was i ever humbled. i realized then that this was one of the moments that i had to step away from being comfortable where i was at to speak on behalf of my Father in a different way then i was accustomed to. and i thank God for that moment He spoke through mike. without it i dont know what would have happened, but praise God it did.

because i was pastor i didnt have the time i got to spend with kids normally. i spent a lot of time with adults this time too. and that was huge. i got encouraged, but i also got to encourage. adults are funny in that they are big kids too (at least the ones that come to camp). some of them frustrate me and some i want to sit at their feet and learn. a few instances this summer changed me completely: i told the adults every week during adult gathering to be ready to listen to the Lord this week. as much as we emphasize the fact that this week is for the kids, i dont want them to lose sight that God can change their lives too. and let me tell you, adults were changed this summer. some came to know the Lord for the first time, others were reminded of who God is, and others got to help lead a child to Christ for the first time. i was told by the Lord to never limit what He can do in my own life, even in my old age.

but the time i did get to spend with kids was phenomenal. i got to teach archery all summer with a little bit of soccer in between. and in those moments i got to build relationships with kids. one relationship that i got to build was with a kid named hunter. hunter was a very...let me see...defiant kid. and in archery, being defiant can be....a little dangerous. well all week long i made it my goal to love and encourage this child. sometimes i had to use tough love, and others it was just being someone to listen to him. i actually told him one day, "Hunter. You frustrate me so bad." he just laughed and we continued in our conversation. well i could tell that God was doing something in this child's life and i knew that this kid was going to make a decision for the Lord. so during invitation on Thursday i prayed harder for hunter than i had all week. and i was positive that he was going to come down and speak with someone. but he didnt. i even hung out on stage afterwards, which normally doesnt happen, just to be available for him to come and talk to me, but he didnt come. so i was bummed out, but as i prayed backstage for the night and everything, someone called me out to the front. twenty minutes had passed since worship ended and i wondered who could possibly need me then because church group time was well underway, but when i stepped out i saw hunter with his church group leader standing there. she told me that hunter didnt want to speak with anyone but me. and so we began to talk. i asked hunter what he wanted to talk about. he simply told me that he didnt want to leave. and through many questions asked, he felt more loved there at camp than any other place he had been. and in the midst of that i was reminded of the verse in Deuteronomy 31:6 where the Lord says,

"Be strong and courageous....for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

we talked about how even though we leave people we love and how people always fail us, there is one person who will never leave us, and he actually promises us that. but you can only have that promise from God if you have a relationship with God. and so i asked him if he did. and through helping him understand that, the Lord took this child's life and made him a child of the King. hunter gave his life to Christ that night and i could tell he was made new. and boy was i reminded of the power of the Lord. how he doesnt need me, and how he will always do "more than we ever asked or imagined" like it says in Ephesians 3:20. and as i continue to think about hunter, i pray that the Lord will continue to grow this child.

another story i would love to share is the story of cole. cole, needless to say, was not my favorite camper all summer. he was in my church group one week, and let me tell you i have never seen so much bitterness and resentment in a child before. it broke me. he actually told me one day, "i didnt sign up for church camp and i hate it here." wow. i never thought i would hear those words at camp before. that happened on monday and from that point on i made it my goal to love this child. and that is our goal, or should be. to love the unloveable. that's what we are to God. He loves us when we totally deny Him. so i prayed daily for this kid. i have never been so burdened for someone before like i had been for cole. there were numerous occasions that i would be praying, broken on my knees in tears for this kid. and that's what i learned from cole. that it is ok to be broken. because God wants to be "our refuge and strength;our very help in time of need" (Psalm 46:1). me and cole hung out all week, and our relationship got better. i got to see him smile, which was phenomenal. actually one of the things i prayed for. but then cole left. and i dont know what's happening with cole right now, but what i do know is that he went back with some amazing group leaders that will continue to love on him, and in that i find comfort.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

and then there is michael. michael is such a phenomenal kid. the one thing that i learned from michael was to never stop learning. if i had a dollar for every question this child asked me during the week of camp, i would probably be a millionaire (ok, that was an exaggeration, but you get the picture). michael was so curious about who the Lord is, about how to study scripture, and how to share his own faith. and i thought to myself "wow, i wish i had the passion for the Lord at his age." and i told him to never let that go. this child was so pumped up to learn about God, something that i wish i had every single day. and funny enough michael continued to encourage me in my own faith. one day we were talking about scripture and such and he asked me if i had read through the bible in its entirety. and i told him no. i was close but i had not done that. then he asked me why. i said because some of the books are boring (try reading Leviticus and 1 & 2 Chronicles without falling asleep), and then he looked at me and said "you need to read them. thats the next thing youre going to read." i said "yes, sir". it was funny, but its very humbling to be encouraged by a child. michael left, but thats not where our relationship ended. his mom actually contacted our team after they had left camp. she sent me a very encouraging email about michael. and he is still seeking after God. so good.

i could honestly tell you many more stories, but i dont have the time or the hand strength to keep typing....sorry.

but as i step away from the summer i really did learn how God provides. he is such a good and gracious God that we dont deserve to serve. but im so humbled that He chooses to use me daily. and i want to continue to be obedient in that. He will provide through me/us if we let Him. but we must make that choice.

so as this part of my journey closes, and another one opens i will never forget the people i came in contact with, the decisions that were made, and the life change that happened--in my life as well as others. and with that i will leave you with this. a passage of scripture that i held on to tightly this summer. it comes from Isaiah 12:

You will say in that day:"I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

"Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD
is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation."

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

"Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known
in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your
midst is the Holy One of Israel."

and here are some more of my favorite pictures from the summer:

one of my favorite church groups...all third graders.

me in the dunking booth @Skycroft...i got dunked 17 times in 5 minutes. womp womp.

preach it Captain Collin!!

walking the Appalachian Trail on a day off with my bros.

this is my Korean family from Sugarloaf!! they convinced me to eat some Korean food one night. it was actually pretty good. they were impressed i could use chopsticks....

OMC. enough said.

kids waiting to get into I Can't Wait...

this kid shot his arrow through a can. impressed? it was on accident....

dont have a ladder? just use me. works the same, right?

my last week of camp i got to coach soccer. this was one of my tracks.
a bunch of misfits if you ask me. :)