Grace — Jesus Nailed It

Good Saturday afternoon, everyone.  My apologies on the lateness of Friday’s blog, I was waiting on some pictures and then I got distracted by something shiny….. (tuck shop paperwork).

As I’m writing this to you, at 2 pm on Saturday, everything is wrapped up.  Everything is clean.  I hear crickets.  I’m not kidding…. all I can hear right now is the hum of the photocopier (I’m in the office), crickets, and the slight creak of the swimming dock.  It’s incredible.

During Chapel yesterday morning, John delivered his last message to us in his series on living like Jesus.  He showed us a skit guys skit on grace where Jesus and Peter were talking, and Jesus kept quietly but insistently reminding Peter of the grace he’d been offered, and he just broke when it finally hit him.  The slide that John showed after the skit had written on it “Grace — Jesus Nailed It.”  Sherri and I giggled at the pun, but in reality, the truth behind that speaks volumes.  He really did.  Jesus nailed grace on the cross.  There isn’t a better example anywhere of grace than what Jesus did for us by dying to make all of our sins, no matter what they are, forgivable.  John told us a story of a man who was driving drunk one night, causing an accident that killed an 18 year old girl.  The 18 year old girl’s parents sued the man for 1.5 million dollars, but the court case settled for a payment of 936.00, to be paid in installments of 1.00 per week each week for 18 years, one for each week that the couples’ daughter had been alive.  It makes one think though…. is 936 payments enough before grace is offered for something we’ve done wrong?  So often, we demand payments because we’ve been hurt, and we feel like it’ll make things better.  But does it?

Grace can be scandalous, costly, risky… and very healing and soothing and comforting.  I’ve heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping that the other person dies.  Bitterness and unforgiveness hold us back — it’s like driving a stake into the ground behind us, tethering ourselves to it, and then wondering why we can’t go any farther than the rope we used to tie ourselves to the stake that symbolizes what we won’t forgive.  It’s like getting a chip in your windshield, which starts as this tiny little speck that you shrug off and say “I’ll fix it later,” until you hit a bump, and it spreads.  Hit another bump, and it spreads some more.  A few more bumps, and before you know it, you have a spider web crack across your windshield so significant that you can’t see clearly anymore.  Mercy, on the other hand, is spontaneous love which comes from the depth of the love of God.  Jesus offers unconditional grace and mercy… so shouldn’t we do the same?

In the Bible, Jesus is asked how many times someone should be forgiven, because in Rabinic law, it was customary to forgive someone three times of a transgression, and if they continued to mess up, you were free to wash your hands of them beyond that.  Jesus’ answer was to forgive 70 x 7 times… or 490 times.  The question was raised then, “how do I keep track of that much forgiveness?”  Easy answer — you don’t.  If you’re keeping track, you’ve missed the point of grace and mercy entirely, and you’re not really offering it.  2 Corinthians 6 instructs us not to receive God’s grace in vain — we need to pass it on.  Because we’ve been offered grace, we need to offer it to others.  Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  We also need to admit that we’re guilty, but on the flip side of that, we need to accept that we’re valuable, loved, and forgiven.

To wrap up this last Chapel summary of Family Camp, here are four encouragements from Hebrews 12:1-2a

1.  You’re not alone.  There is a cloud of witnesses all you, including those who have gone before you.

2.  Stay focused — lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely.

3.  Hang in there — Journey with Jesus is a crazy marathon, not a 5k race that you can just do quickly and be done.  It’s ongoing.

4.  We can grieve, but with hope.  There’s a place for sadness, but our future is secure.

And there’s this song that John played for us at the end — Go Light Your World by Kathy Troccoli.

Yesterday was quite possibly the nicest day in August.  It hasn’t been this warm since mid-July.  This coming week looks to be even better, with humidex values back up into the 30s!!  While we didn’t wish chilliness and rain on Family Campers, we are incredibly thankful to have a beautiful looking forecast for kids camp programs to start back up because it’s considerably more difficult to adjust programming for kids than for families who kind of do their own thing, so Praise God for that!!  Yesterday was so lovely that the lodge was completely empty in the afternoon.  I was in my room checking something out on my computer when Irene and Chris came to my door to say “get your camera, there is NO ONE in the lodge downstairs.”  That’s the first time that’s happened in all of August.

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Over the dinner hour, we sent many of our youth who very excitedly traveled to Crown Island for a cookout.  They roasted hot dogs, ate chips, and got to swim off the rocks at the island.  Thank you to Sherri for taking pictures of this event as she’d gone across the lake with them to help supervise.  Can I just say, once again, how thankful I am to anyone who either took a camera or handed me memory cards upon return from various things that I couldn’t or didn’t get to?  It’s been marvelous.

 

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After our dinner in the dining hall (pulled pork… mmmm my favourite), we had the Jungle Cafe.  Dale gave us a Christian comedy magic show where, using some illusions he’d taught himself, he gave a Salvation story.  My apologies, I didn’t take notes, so I won’t remember the parts of the story that go with which pictures, but you’ll see in some of the pictures that the kids were pretty enthralled.  (Sorry about the red eye, Ella!)

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Here is a picture of Snapper, whom I named, whom I kept finding outside of my bedroom doorway in the hall upstairs.  I don’t know what the deal is, but I suspect Brenna is involved…

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And finally (and the reason that I had to wait to write the blog today, so that I had the pictures from this), Jared and Nat were actually able to take a group across the road for wilderness camping last night.  It was very fitting, as this was Jared’s final day of being Wilderness staff (for this summer, at any rate.)  Dan and Christine said it was probably the highlight of their vacation this year, and that they loved it.  Andrew and Hannah had a great time, though Andrew admitted that having to build your own shelter is pretty tiring.  Apparently though, the sticks and leaves managed to keep a lot of the dampness off of them from throughout the night, which I didn’t expect…. but it doesn’t help with the mosquitoes.  Maybe they needed Terry to sing the Mosquito song from the Talent Show on Thursday evening.  Thanks to Andrew for taking my camera across the road (and bringing it back in one piece!).  Jared had them find their own sticks and leaves, build their own shelter, and he even found them some cherries, and blackberries to eat!  He surprised even himself by making everyone some Spruce Tea as well, or so I heard.IMG_5958 IMG_5954 IMG_5952 IMG_5951 IMG_5950 IMG_5949 IMG_5948 IMG_5947 IMG_5944 IMG_5940

 

 

Kahquah’s Got Talent, Fam Camp 3 Edition

Goodness, how the end of Family Camp sneaks up on us.  I love each week of Family Camp for different reasons.  I love seeing so many people I’d otherwise never ever see.  People I’d never have met, if I hadn’t been here.  It’s bitter sweet for me, to see it end.  I remember when it started, thinking “how did we get to the end of July SO quickly?” and now here we are, mid-way through August, and I have to go back to the real world and teach some kidlets some science and some social studies in a mildly depressing 18 days.

That being said, though, let’s not let the looming end of summer get us down; let’s enjoy what’s left.  Here are the highlights from yesterday!

In the morning, we talked about God’s love for us.  When John asked us to call out love stories from the Bible, we came up with:  Ruth & Boaz, Ruth & Naomi, Jonathan & David, Isaac & Rebekah, Hosea & Gomer, The Good Samaritan, Esther, and Jesus on the Cross.  The Bible is absolutely full of love stories, because God’s love never fails.  It’s boundless.  It’s ageless.  Here’s the trouble, though.  For some of us, we understand in our heads that God is trustworthy, and that He loves us, but it stays there.  When it comes to acting on that understanding, we can fall short.  The enemy will use our distrust and misunderstanding of God’s love to make us rely on ourselves and our works to earn God’s love.  Remember what I talked about previously with being distracted from the best things by the good things?  We can let ourselves be tricked into doing good things because we have to earn God’s love, and that’s not His best for us.  When Jesus hung on that Cross, He finished the work.  There’s nothing we can do now that will either increase or diminish God’s love.  John suggested that a major reason that we hesitate to embrace God’s love is because we WANT to deserve it, and we know that we don’t.  God will take us through mountain top experiences as well as through low valleys, but we need to get to a point where we believe that nothing we do will make Him love us more or less in those places and in between, and we need to believe that He’s there with us the whole time.  This is also a challenge for us — to love not only the lovable, the lovely… but also the unlovable, the unlovely, the irritating, the socially awkward, the unfaithful.  And finally, remember, this is not a standard that we can meet on our own… that was more than likely the whole point.  We NEED to rely on God for help with this!  When we start to see the unlovely through God’s eyes, all of a sudden they’re not unlovely anymore.

Other than Chapel, there wasn’t much to report today.  I went for a run this afternoon in these crazy Northern Ontario hills, saw a frighteningly yellow mushroom on the side of the road, and figured I’d pop in at the rock wall on my way back.  I’d intended to show off the crazy mushroom picture and then take some of the kids finishing up climbing, but instead I found Chloe and Jillian closing up the wall for the season, to be reopened in the Spring.  And then I got distracted and forgot to show them the picture….  And I found a patch of very red leaves.  I wanted to scream, like in that old KFC commercial to advertise the Festive Fall Bucket or whatever, when a red leaf falls off the tree and the girl screams really dramatically….

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Then there was the Talent Show.  Kahquah’s got a lot of talent!  It was nice to see a bunch of adults and older kids out, too!  Not that I don’t love seeing little kids shine and show off their talent, because I truly do… if you were there, how precious were the Kindergarten Graduation song sung by Lauren, and the Hairbrush song sung by Rachel?  But I want to thank everyone who came out for doing so.  I can truly attest this week to how scary it can be to get up there and show off your talent, as I discovered quickly this evening that it’s really hard to play a violin when your bow arm is shaking.  Enjoy the pictures of all of the different acts!  Afterward, I know many people enjoyed Sundaes and Floats, as well as games and a time of fellowship in the dining hall.

Here are our MCs — Reagan and Natalie!

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The Jungle Jaunt Song — some of the kids from the morning kids program came up to sing their theme song

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Annika and Aria singing Jesus Loves Me, with verses I’d never heard before!

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The Lion King Skit — these kids have been working on this ALL week!  Well done, guys!
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Rachel singing The Hairbrush song.  This was so precious.  My heart melted a little bit.
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Lauren singing what I assume had been her Kindergarten graduation song.  Also, incredibly precious.

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Ashley helping Preston sing a song…. which ended up mostly being Ashley singing, but Preston did a great job up there!

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Shauna doing a dance she created all on her own!
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Katie break dancing — this was really neat!
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Grace, Hannah, Ella, Amy, and Emma dancing.  They did a marvelous job!

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Terry singing and playing guitar.  The mosquito song and the baseball song were both great!!

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Oh, here’s me, fiddling.

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Dale doing his disappearing banana (bandana) trick… which ended in a squished banana being flung across the chapel!  It was funny!!

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This time, Ashley got up to sing a song of her own and Preston came to keep her company.

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Marcos played his guitar very well!

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Rebekah joined me in showing off our violin skills.

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Sophia did Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast, which will apparently be one of the audition songs for Bravo next week!

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And then her brother, Nathaniel,  got up and played a song he composed with some pretty neat effects in it!

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Justin and Wyatt did a funny song/skit that had the audience participating as well!  Most of the pictures are blurry because they were jumping around like crazy, but it was quite well done!

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Well, that’s it for tonight.  Enjoy your Friday!

Water Fights, The Little Mermaid, and chocolate.

Yesterday was a great day.  There was a bit of rain, but it really didn’t last that long, which was excellent.  I even saw a sizable group of people heading out, I assume with Jared to go for the Beaver Dam walk.  Though, it could have been the youth for ultimate frisbee, but I’m not sure.  I imagine that group of people were quite glad to have the rain quit shortly after it began, but I was pleased to see that no one turned around to come back as I stood in Frank and Nancy’s living room practicing fiddling for tomorrow’s talent show 🙂

And see, it did turn into a pretty nice day… even if a little chilly.

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This morning in Chapel, John talked about praying like Jesus prayed, and by extension, what we call The Lord’s Prayer, which it could be argued should be called The Disciples’ Prayer.  Jesus’ Disciples had gone to Synagogue all their lives, they likely had the Torah memorized, and they knew their Psalms, which a lot of them would have used to pray, and yet they still asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  They looked at Jesus’ quiet times spent with His Father and just knew that there was something different about what He was doing compared to how they’d been doing it.  I think the biggest thing that caught my attention this morning was to give God time to answer.  Prayer should be a connection between our hearts and God’s, and when we are firing off our lists of things we need, saying Amen, and going back about our days, it gives God no chance to speak to us.  Essentially — We’re not listening.  We’re talking at God and not listening for His response.  The Lord’s Prayer has us asking for strength in our weakness, brokenness, and temptation.  It has us praising God for all He does, for who He is, and for how Holy He is.  It has us sincerely asking for forgiveness for what we’ve done against others, in a manner similar to the way that our sins have been forgiven.  It shows God that we trust His timing when we proclaim “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”  When we say that and mean it, our agenda has to be surrendered.

The boys did indeed manage to have their water battle.  I talked with Kristen afterward and she said that about 9 boys showed up, and that once they were in the water it really wasn’t that bad temperature wise.  They were reportedly throwing around water balloons that were so tough to break though that even with digging finger nails into them, it was still tough to get them to detonate on impact like they’re supposed to.  It sounded like they had fun, though, at any rate.

The girls’ pampering night looked like a lot of fun.  They were watching The Little Mermaid, which brought back tons of memories for me.  I can remember as a little girl, I had Mom rent it so many times that they finally bought it for me.  I think they hoped I’d get sick of it and stop wanting to watch it on repeat, but that took a lot longer than I think they thought it would.

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I didn’t get a chance to talk to Frank about his seminar, but it’s been my prayer all three weeks of family camp that those in attendance were those who needed to hear what was to be said, and that there would be some practical way that you could see the information presented applied in your life — whether it’s in your own life, or in the life of someone close to you that you can then share what you learned with.

The Youth made it into Magnetawan and back safely!  They had to take two boats in, so thanks to Mike for being willing to drive a group of them in in his boat as well as using the Pontoon Boat, but it seemed like everyone who wanted to be able to go was able, and that’s always a good sign.

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Lastly, at Ladies’ Craft night, we made chocolate treats.  I made some delightfully delectable chocolate covered red licorice sticks using milk, white, and blue chocolate.  I also made a pretzel stick that was fantastic, and I’m quite content to have the recipe for them now.  Yum!!

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oh, and also, this is the face of someone who should probably NOT have switched an afternoon iced coffee habit with an afternoon nap…. bad news, bears.  I should probably not admit that this picture exists, but it struck me really funny….

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Winter Carnival

It’s a lovely October morning, and….. oh, sorry, it’s August, I forgot.  It’s been quite chilly outside, and apparently Wednesday’s looking like more of the same, but we’ll survive, won’t we?  Campers are hearty folk.

This morning in Chapel, we started by watching a testimony from Charlotte Sider on the Capital Campaign about how her life with Jesus started during summer camp here at Kahquah 50 years ago.  Mine started here, too, so her story really resonated with me.  When John started to preach, we watched a video called Guys and Grills where a man called his wife on his way home from work to tell her he wanted to bless her by cooking dinner that night.  He said he’d grill some steaks… but asked her to do all the fixings up and marinate the meat for him.  All he did was fall asleep while the steaks were grilling while she went crazy.  At dinner, he exclaimed proudly that he was a great husband and that she should put her feet up and relax more often.  Funny…. that doesn’t look very much to me like the model for servanthood that Jesus laid out for us.  If we’re truly Followers of Jesus, we should be serving.  Jesus didn’t say Come and Stay.  He said Go and serve.  Paul tells us to work out our faith.  All that servanthood requires of us is an obedient heart — we don’t need to worry about not feeling equipped… if God tells us to do something, He’ll give us everything we need.  It’s also important to note that Jesus never solved any big issues entirely — disease, poverty, crime, etc…. Jesus helped one on one in the lives of many.  Jesus washed His Disciples’ feet.  Even Judas’s feet, hours before He knew Judas would betray Him.  That’s servanthood.  I’ll wrap up this summary with a thought and a quote.  Thought:  If God puts something on your heart, it’s there for you to do… not to pass off to someone else.  Quote:  My whole life, I’ve been complaining that my work kept getting interrupted, until I realized that the interruptions WERE my work.  — Henri Nouwen

This evening we had our annual winter carnival… I mean… just carnival.  It’s not really winter out there, we don’t think.  It was chilly, but there were kids out there who were being real champs, having fun regardless.  Their parents looked awfully cold, though.  Anything for candy, though, right?  A big thanks to all of the older Camper kids who helped out running the various events at the Carnival.  Our jobs as summer staff are so much easier when there are willing volunteers to help reduce the workload all around.  I think there were a few future summer staffers in the making out there.

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After that, Andrew (and Dale and Nathaniel) put on a lovely concert in the Chapel.  He suggested that the reason for the good turnout was that those in attendance would have been cold had they been elsewhere, but I suspect it has way more to do with his music than that.  He shared many of the songs that he wrote or co-wrote that are on his CD, The God Who Sees (which is for sale in the Tuck Shop for 15.00), including one that he co-wrote with his son, Noah.  He gave us the story behind the title song, The God Who Sees.  Remember Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah?  Remember how Abraham couldn’t wait for God so he took his desire for a child into his own hands and Hagar ended up pregnant?  Sarah made life so miserable for Hagar that she ran out to the desert and cried out to God — she knew He could hear her cries, but she was broken and beaten and she needed to be seen.  God assured her in that place, as He does with us no matter where we are, that He sees us, and He sees our circumstances.  It’s a beautiful song, with a beautiful message behind it.  Thanks to all who came out to the concert, and thanks to Andrew for putting it on!

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Enjoy your Wednesday, and stay warm!  Look at how cold the water looks!  And please note, there is no one sitting in the Muskoka Chairs tonight…

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Shabbat Shalom

Good evening. For the first time I think this summer, I’m laying on my bed writing this blog post….. at 7:10 pm. It’s not 11:30 pm, and I’m not so tired I can’t think. Something amazing has happened today, and to be truthful, I’m not completely sure what it was.

You may remember from yesterday, or from reading yesterday’s post that went up around noon today, that we were without internet connection. It turns out that our modem had fried and we needed a new one. Thanks to anyone who prayed for a quick resolution to this issue. We were slightly concerned that when we called our Internet Provider, they’d put us at the bottom of a list of people who needed to be seen and that it might take a few days. They came this afternoon, though, and fixed us up with a new modem so we are back in business! Thanks to everyone for your understanding as we were internet-less. It felt like it did when my family used to come to family camp and there was no internet available to campers, as the office only had dial up, and I honestly can’t remember what I ever did without it… All the data on my cell phone plan is now gone because I seem to have trouble functioning without an internet connection…. perhaps I need an intervention. But I digress.

Thanks also to Andrew for letting Nancy and I borrow his data from his phone plan to get a few invoices printed and to get the blog posted.

This morning in Chapel, we talked about worship. John had us call out what we thought about when we heard the word. We came up with …. obedience, sunrise, humbling, communion, lifestyle, acknowledgment of who God is, reflecting back God’s glory, reminder of who God is, and being transported into the presence of God. He showed us a Tim Hawkins (Christian comedian) video on how to raise your hands in church. If you want a good laugh, check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KXbva6M6fY. It’s important to note though, that there is no set style of service order, worship components, etc. in the Bible, so that’s not at all what John was going for this morning. He addressed an all too common “what’s in it for me?” attitude that has become pervasive in our churches. It’s natural for us as humans to want something that we can plug into, whether that be programming or age specific groupings, whatever… but the issue is that we very quickly then make it about us, and when we come to worship with our focused on ourselves, we’re not really worshiping. How did Jesus worship? Well, to start, He told His disciples to “follow me.” Have you ever thought about following? You can only go as fast as the person you’re following behind, and Jesus led a fairly slow-paced life. He was never in a hurry to get to the next place, never rushing. As humans, we often feel like when we’re busy we’re important, because we’re accomplishing things, even if they’re good things. But the potential pitfall in that is that busyness can push God out, even when it’s ministry that we’re busy in. The moral of all of this is that Jesus spent His entire life constantly connected to His Father, and that’s what provided Him peace and rest (which is where Shabbat Shalom comes from in Jewish culture). As Jesus hung on the Cross, covering all of our sins with His blood, it was the first time He hadn’t been connected to His Father, and it made Him cry out things like “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus sets some pretty stellar models for us.

There wasn’t tons going on today. Crafts happened, a nature walk happened, water sports happened, but I have nothing to report from any of those activities. After dinner, there was a scavenger hunt. It was one of those people scavenger hunts where you have to go find someone who matches your descriptions on your page, and then you have to record something that the two of you have in common. I learned something new while I was observing on the porch — one of our maintenance staff, Joe, was born in Texas, not in Canada! Some of the “things we have in common” were pretty deep, and others were less so, like… we both go to Camp Kahquah. But nevertheless, it’s always good to get to know something new about someone else.

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Following that, Andrew and Anita met in the Chapel (well I guess they’re in there as I write) for their seminar on partnership in marriage. It was well attended and received last week, so it is my hope and prayer that those who need to be there to hear what they have to say are there tonight. I went last week, even though I’m not married, and got a lot out of it regardless. It was excellent, and they provided a really cozy atmosphere – almost as if they’d invited 50 people over for coffee in their living room. They talk a lot about knowing your partner, knowing your own personalities so you know what works for the two of you together, partnering together in raising your kids, and many other topics.

That’s it for tonight. Enjoy your Tuesday!

Sandcastles, Campfires, and Floats, oh my!!

Welcome to Family Camp, week 3! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed whatever it is you’ve been up to while we’re up here at Camp (and hopefully you’re enjoying yourself immensely if you’re reading this FROM Camp).  A big thank you to Andrew Thompson for letting me tether to his phone and use his data to publish today’s post.  It’s hard to be a good blogger when Camp’s internet is down, but hopefully there will be a solution to that this afternoon.

Yesterday morning in Chapel, Pastor John Gibbins of Boyle BIC brought an inspiring message, beginning a week of lessons on “Living Like Jesus.” He began by showing pictures of different brands and logos and asking us what words or thoughts we associated with them. He then asked us what we thought of the brand “Christian” and what words we thought of when we considered it. Hearing people call out words like “hypocrite,” “judgmental,” and “homophobic” was a reminder of how the world sees us. When we were asked to consider what words we associated with Jesus (kind, caring, grace, compassion) it was easy to see how great the difference was between our view of CHRIST and CHRISTians. John went on to encourage us to experience “transformation” (becoming something entirely new) rather than “reformation” (trying on new behaviours or changing the way we act). I am looking forward to hearing him unpack this teaching as the week progresses. (A huge thank you to Frank who gave me a summary to write about since I was on my way back from spending the night before with my Grandparents)

Later in the afternoon, there was a sandcastle building contest. Your structures looked amazing! I think some of those kids are headed for careers as engineers. Once we have internet access again, you’ll be able to check out the pictures from the creations at campkahquahblog.wordpress.com, which I know a lot of you have been following most of the summer already!

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Chris, Sherri, Madelyn and Isaac are back after a week at home in London.  We’re very glad to have them back.  Isaac’s shirt in this picture cracks me up.  “I may be little but I’m LOUD!”

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After dinner, we had a Campfire. This is a recent addition to Family Camp (or at least, an addition that hasn’t been around for a while). Thanks to all who came out and participated in the contests and challenges, as well as the silly songs. Thanks as well to our great programmers who put on a bunch of wonderful skits as well. A special congratulations goes out to John and Irene, your pastor and director for the week, who were able to demolish their butter tart the fastest in a contest where husbands had to feed their wives a tart, and neither could use their hands. You’ll want to check the blog out when you can for pictures of that, as well as pictures of Grace Brownlee, Libby Miller, and Kristen Tutti making their best sucking a lemon face, while the audience had been told they were making their best “first kiss” face. It was pretty hilarious.  There was a skit where Natalie, Erin, Taylor, Sarah, and Kristen were pretending to be creating a film.  Erin was directing, and Sarah had to stab Natalie as a “message to the Queen.”  Each time she did so, Erin, the director, came back with NO NO NO I want it angrier, or sadder, or happier… and the facial expressions that ensued were fantastic.  When they finally got it right, Erin turned to Taylor, who was supposed to be filming, and said “did you get that!?”  Unfortunately, Taylor admitted that she’d forgotten to push record and so they’d have to do it again.  Also, watching Chris and Sherri’s daughter Madelyn do the actions to the Bananas Unite song was adorable, so check out some pictures of that as well!

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Following that were some Ice Cream Sundaes and some Floats in the dining hall, which were well received as always. I noticed some game playing and some great conversations going on as I looked around the dining hall. If you missed your chance at a sundae or a float, there will be some more on Thursday following the Talent Show!

Well, that’s it for now. Happy Monday everyone!

In the name of the Father

Today was a glorious day.  I know yesterday I talked about how Nate talked about our over-use of the word awesome.  I’m guilty.  I’m also guilty of over-using the word glorious.  But I mean that in every sense of it today.  Today was glorious.  The weather was delightful.  The breeze ok wind… was really nice because for the most part it was a warm wind.  The fellowship was lovely.  I got to see old friends from back in my Wainfleet days!  My heart was warmed to no end.  And, to finish it off, we got to witness two kids declare their allegiance with Christ, two of our staff boys, when they entered the waters of baptism in the lake behind this stunning, exquisite backdrop of a sky, followed by a well-timed rainbow after it rained for a whole 37.5 seconds (I didn’t time it, it was just REALLY short, and just enough to give us a rainbow).  It all ended with a dazzling, radiant, resplendent sunset where I couldn’t help but whisper “thank You Lord” as I stood and watched the sun drop into the trees.

Also – fair warning – as with last Friday night, I don’t have to publish a newsletter which means this doesn’t have to fit on one page – you’ve been warned.

This morning, Nate talked about leaving mountain-top experiences and coming back to real life.  He talked about Jesus and His Disciples at the Mount of Transfiguration and how they just wanted to stay there because they were in such close communication and relationship with God, and they knew that when they left, there would be things to deal with that would distract them and split their focus, taking away that surge of energy we get when we’ve really tapped into God’s Power Source.  In fact, they were right to be concerned with what would happen as they came down, because they came down from the Mount of Transfiguration to face a man who was possessed by demons.  Crazy, right?

So it begs the question… how do we take the experiences we’ve gleaned here at Camp back home with us, no matter when it is that we’re leaving?  Some are leaving tomorrow morning because week 2 of Fam Camp is near its end.  Some are leaving in the middle of the week because they could only get a certain amount of time off.  Some of our staff are done next Saturday at the end of Fam Camp 3, and then there are some of us who are in it for the long haul and are barreling right through to the end of Zenith.  But whenever it is that you’re leaving, and however long it is that you’ve been up here, the reality doesn’t change.  What you’ll face when you get home is different from what you’ve faced at Camp.  Even if you were on staff for ten weeks, the regular (and mandatory) devos, the daily chapels, the constant worship music, and the regular invitations to just draw near to Jesus were keeping you accountable, and drawing you intentionally closer.  When we go home though, there are stresses, struggles, hurts, challenges… all of which threaten to drag us away from God’s best for our lives. 

In Nehemiah Chapter 6, we look and see that the work of rebuilding this wall that we’ve been talking about all week is nearly complete.  I don’t know if you’ve found this in your life, but I know in mine, whenever I get close to finishing something that I know God wants me to do, my enemies regroup, and they try tactics that hadn’t previously worked.  This was true for Nehemiah.  His antagonists, Sandlot and Tobiah, ask to meet with him in an open field.  Nehemiah had recently been appointed Governor, others watching his reactions could very easily have gone back to following Sandlot and Tobiah if Nehemiah made a wrong step in their eyes.  Nehemiah sends a messenger back to tell them that he’s doing a great work, and he can’t come down.  Essentially — he’s doing what he knows he’s supposed to be doing, sees them as an unnecessary distraction, and refuses to be distracted.  To onlookers, it would appear that Sandlot and Tobiah just wanted to make peace, so Nehemiah would have ended up looking to many like that wasn’t what he wanted, even though he was saying it was.

It’s important for us to focus on the BEST things that God has for us so that we can avoid being distracted, even by good things.  Nate used the example of a mother who’d known in searching God’s will for her life that it was her purpose at that moment to stay at home and raise her children.  This isn’t always best for everyone, but it was best for her.  One day, she was offered an excellent position and a great salary to go along with it, but ultimately she refused the job because she sincerely felt that what was best was for her to be home with her family.  When her daughter asked her why she didn’t take the job, she told her daughter that she was doing a very important work, and she couldn’t come down… along with the story of Nehemiah.  On Mother’s Day, this woman was drawn a card by her daughter with two hands almost holding on the front, saying “I’m doing an important work” … and on the inside, the hands were holding each other, and it read “and I cannot come down.”  What incredible confirmation that what she was doing was best.  The job wouldn’t have been a bad thing.  In fact, it probably would have been good, but it wasn’t what was best at that time and she knew it.  (I believe this example came from a book called “Visioneering.” 

So how do we keep the best things in focus when we’re not having a mountain-top experience?

Back to Nehemiah to find out.

Sandlot and Tobiah repeat their request four more times, each time to be met with the same response from Nehemiah:  I’m doing an important work, and I cannot come down.  After that, they send an unsealed letter (basically conveying that it’s public knowledge because anyone could read it) that says from Nehemiah’s actions, it looks like Nehemiah plans to overthrow the government.  Nehemiah trusts God, and answers “This is not true, you’re making it up in your heads.”

Here’s the key:

Nehemiah prays.  He doesn’t just pray a simple blanket statement that doesn’t hold meaning in his heart, though.  He earnestly seeks God’s favour when he calls to the Lord, “Now strengthen my hands.”

Keep me going.

Help me press on.

Keep me on the right track.

We all reflect God’s glory — This is applicable to EVERYTHING that we face, because if we’re doing God’s best for us, He WILL give us the strength to persevere, no matter what challenges we face along the way.

I want to send out a challenge to our staff who read this (and this is as true for myself as it is a challenge to all of you), because I think it’s really important, especially for those of you in high school.  When we get back to our regular, every day lives, it’s really hard to see sometimes what God’s best is.  That’s why it’s so so important to be in constant communication with our God, to be in the Word, to know it, and to know how to apply it to our lives.  It’s also really important, in my own experience, to have other Christian friends that you can rely on to help you stay focused, but most importantly… it’s fundamental to keep Christ at the centre, and to regularly pray “Now strengthen my hands so that I can keep going.”  Whether you’re finishing a project up, deciding who to date and what your standards might be, applying for jobs, whatever… when we ask for the Lord’s strength, He hears us.  He will give us what we need.

I want to share the lyrics to a song that Andrew’s been doing this week.  This song has really touched me at my core, because the lyrics are so simple, but they’re so profound all at the very same time.  It’s called “Here’s My Heart” by Passion featuring David Crowder.  (It’s not in the correct order because it’s a fairly repetitive song, but the simplicity is what kills me.

Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

‘Cause You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

Here’s my life Lord,
Here’s my life Lord
Here’s my life Lord,
Speak what is true
Speak what is true
Speak what is true

You are more than enough
You are here, You are love
You are hope, You are grace
You’re all I have, You’re everything

For the whole song, go to the lyrics and/or the YouTube Video.

The last thing that I have to talk about to finish up Family Camp 2 is the baptism.  I want to extend an immense congratulations to both Kenny and Noah for making a public declaration in front of people they love and who love them that they are in.  They see the work that God is doing in their lives, they can’t ignore it, and they refuse to try.  They want to live for Him, with Him, alongside Him.  Their Youth Pastor, Matt Lockhart, drove up from Port Colborne for the evening to be with them in this really special occasion.  They shared their reasons for being baptized, and then Matt dunked them in the lake in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.  It was beautiful.  There were tears, there were smiles, there were prayers, there was laying of hands, and there was singing.  But most importantly, there was rejoicing.  Every believer there rejoiced with Kenny and Noah in their decision, and every angel in Heaven rejoiced with God over their commitment, I’m sure.

This is going to sound incredibly cheesy…. but years ago, I watched a movie called Evelyn (with Pierce Brosnan), which is the true story of an Irish tradesman whose wife abandons him and his three children just after Christmas one year.  He ends up getting to know his kids in a very new way through a custody battle (I barely remember any of the details), but his daughter Evelyn looks at the sky one day and exclaims “Look, Angel Rays!” as rays of sunlight stream through a cloudy sky.  When her Dad asks her what they are, she says it’s her Grandpa watching over them, like a Guardian Angel.  I realize that’s not the case here, but every time I see that in the sky, it feels like God is watching.  Kind of like the promise in a rainbow.  He’s there.  You’ll see what I mean in the pictures.

I know that in the Youth Program this morning, Jesse and Josiah jumped on this opportunity to talk about baptism with the youth, so it’s my prayer tonight that in the coming weeks and months, those of you who’ve had youth here to see this would be impacted by the model that Noah and Kenny have provided for them, along with the information given to them by Jesse and Josiah about the true meaning and purpose of what this commitment really means. 

I’m not going to give much explanation over these photos, other than to say how proud I am of Noah and Kenny both.  Noah, being like a little brother to me, has grown up so so much in the last almost a decade since I’ve known him, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for both he and Kenny.  They are great influences for the boys in the cabins they lead, and as others watch them work with wonderful attitudes around Camp in service at a place that they love.

Enjoy.

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Oh, and the sunset… my iPhone didn’t do it justice, but I knew that in the time it took to run upstairs and get a real camera, I’d miss it entirely.  So it didn’t truly look like the sky was exploding, but I’m sure you get the idea.  It was breath-taking.

photo 4 photo 6 photo 5

And tonight, as I lay on my bed with my window open, the wind whipping the curtains around, and the sound of the lake lapping against the shore, reflecting on the day we’ve had today, I can’t help but wonder how anyone can deny God’s existence when they see all of this.