Our God is an Awesome God

When we look at the story in Acts 9 of Saul’s conversion to Christ, and becoming Paul, it’s really hard, for me anyway, to not acknowledge how awesome God is.  Just like God gave Abram a new identity by renaming him Abraham, He completely turned the life of Saul around on its heel, and sent him in the opposite direction.

In Acts 9, we can see that Saul has begun to destroy the brand new church.  He was dragging men and women off and putting them in prison for following the teachings of Jesus.  Saul was present at the stoning of the first martyr, Steven, and after watching him be stoned Saul felt a passion for destroying Christianity.

As he’s walking down the road to Damascus, Saul sees a bright flash of light and hears a voice that calls out “Saul! Saul!  Why are you persecuting me?!”  Saul responds, “Who are you, Lord?”  (Lord in this case probably more like ‘sir’ than that Saul would have immediately recognized the Lordship here.)  Jesus answers, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”  The men traveling with Saul saw the flash of light, but they didn’t hear the voice.  Jesus was speaking only to Saul.  Saul stands up after this encounter, and he’s blind.  He can’t see anything.  Matt made the excellent point that there wouldn’t be much that would limit your power like suddenly becoming blind and having to rely on people around you even to hold your hands while you walk into town.  Saul would have felt helpless.

Saul spent three days not eating or drinking ~ which I can kind of understand.  I’d be so anxious about how different my life was about to become if I didn’t regain my sight that I don’t think I’d be able to eat or drink anything either.

Ananaias, one of the new disciples sent out after Jesus’ death, received a really specific vision, telling him to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street in Damascus, and ask for Saul of Tarsus who has been praying.  Ananaias is shocked.  “The one who’s been persecuting us??”

At the same time, Saul has a vision of a man named Ananaias coming to lay hands on him and restore his sight.  God assures Ananaias that Saul is an instrument ~ the perfect fit ~ for what He needs to do.  He needs Saul.  So Ananaias does what God asks, despite his apprehension.  He lays hands on Saul, and scales fall off of his eyes.  Saul is immediately baptized, he eats, and regains his strength.  He uses his renewed strength to immediately start preaching in the Synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

People would have known Saul.  They would have known he was famous for persecuting those who believed, and they would have known he was a man to be careful of.  But imagine the Glory to God when a man like Saul can have an encounter with Him and be changed, and instead of persecuting those who believe, can set his life on a path where he convinces many of the truth.  Our God is an awesome God.

If God used Saul, God can use me for His glory, and it doesn’t matter what I’ve done.  God can use me when I’m willing.

Our God is an awesome God.

 

 

I spent all day yesterday on the water.  If your kids were in water sports, tubing, or the Boot Camp activity, they’ll be in here.  The first two activity periods gave us rough waters again, so we loaded the kids and the gear onto the Pontoon Boat and took them into the bay where it was much calmer, and had excellent water sports water.  By the time tubing rolled around, it had calmed down and we were able to stay at the ski dock.  Many of the kids see me in the boat and start to make sure that they’re giving thumbs up or waving to the camera.  I love it.  This is why I come out!  It’s also really great to see the progression both in skill level and in confidence of the kids who’ve gone through several years of kids camp, doing water sports each year, and learning so many more skills as they’ve gone.  They’re at a point now where Paige was trying to drop a ski and slalom, Bridgely was doing jumps with the wake board, and Emma was cutting in and out of the wake on her skis like she was born for that.  It was awesome.

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Also check out our canoe majors….

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Our Outdoor Pursuits kids who were snorkeling for fishing bait (supervised of course by Lifeguard Uncle Ben, director Uncle Randy, and marked off by a kayak and a flag showing that there were snorkelers in the water courtesy of Aunt Lynn.  We’ve made sure they stay safe while they’re in the water!

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Lastly, check out our Boot Camp activity participants, who were practicing the swimming aspect of their training.  I imagine today they’ll be doing their triathlon, so I will do my best to get some pictures of that, as well.  Their leaders ~ Hope, Noah, and Jordan, have been showing them many of the skills necessary to continue with fitness when they get home!  It’s really nice to see such a big group interested in this as well.

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By Grace I’m Free, You’ve Rescued Me, Now All I Am is Yours

I’d never heard this song before.  It’s called “I’ve Found a Love.”  But what a beautiful set of lyrics that Laura led us in this morning.  She asked the kids in the middle of her set if anyone knew why we tend to do the same songs over and over again sometimes ~ and then told them it’s so that we can let the words sink deep into our hearts.  It’s like when we tell ourselves over and over again something that we hope can make it true.

By grace I’m free
You’ve rescued me
All I am is Yours

CHORUS:
I’ve found a love greater than life itself
I’ve found a hope stronger and nothing compares
I once was lost; now I’m alive in You

That was unrelated, but I had to share.

Matt started out this morning by asking if anyone had seen the movies San Andreas or Twister.  Matt explained that he’s always been in awe of natural disasters because they’re so much bigger than him.

We looked at the story starting in Acts 16:19 of Paul and Silas casting a demon out of a slave woman who could tell the future.  The demon within her giving her such abilities made it so that she could make her owners a lot of money, and so when Paul and Silas cast out the demon, her owners were very angry at the loss.  Paul and Silas were taken to the market place to make a big scandal out of them.  When the masses can get worked up, the slave owners knew that it would be a lot easier to try Roman citizens unfairly and have them thrown in jail.  “These men are Jews, and are throwing our town into an uproar!”

Paul and Silas were stripped and beaten, then thrown into prison.  A jailer was told to guard them carefully, so they were locked in stocks.  They were probably wondering where God was in all of this, but instead of turning their backs on God, they prayed that God would show mercy to those who treated them poorly, and they sang praises to God.

Suddenly, a violent Earthquake shook the foundations of the building.  All the doors swung open, and every prisoner’s chains came loose.  When the jailer woke up and saw all the doors swung open, he drew his sword ready to kill himself out of fear of the consequences for the prisoners escaping, but Paul called out for him not to harm himself because they had all stayed!

The jailer fell trembling before Paul and Silas and asked what he must do to be saved.  His whole life was changed, likely in the course of 2-5 minutes.  The jailer washes Paul and Silas’ wounds, has his entire family baptized, and was filled with joy at his new belief in God.

The next day, seeing how much trouble had come after Paul and Silas were given an unfair trial and jailed unfairly, the Magistrate calls for their release.  They too could sense that they were messing with the power of God and they didn’t want to deal with it.

Matt asked us to think of the name of a person who we know really needs that deep and wild encounter with the power of God that turns them around.  Maybe our steadfastness in our own lives can show them that God is someone they need.  The kids spent some time in prayer for people they know need Jesus.

Matt left them with the thought:  write out a time where we felt God very present in our lives.  If there are any who want to, there will be a time for them to share those moments on Friday during the evening Underground.

What could God be using in our lives to get the attention of others?

 

Here are your pictures from yesterday.

The Outdoor Pursuit kids had a chance yesterday to do an orienteering game where they had to go on the Hiawatha Trail and try to find Uncle Randy, dressed completely in camouflage.  It’s my understanding that they didn’t find him, though they did come close.

Right after lunch, they headed into the bush across the road to build their own shelters and camp out overnight.  I sent Randy with a camera so that he could capture a few moments from the overnight.  You will see some of them in their shelters, around their fire, and eating the food they cooked in foil packs.  I think they made bannock bread, prepared ahead of time by Heather using an old recipe of Uncle Ernie’s.  They also found a salamander!

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At Sports, the older kids seem to have a much better handle on the concept of 9 Square in the Air, and the game seemed to be moving pretty well.  The goal is to be the server in the middle, and you serve into the air, kind of like a combination of volleyball and Four Square.  It looks like a lot of fun!  There was also some tetherball happening while the Outdoor Pursuits kids waited for their orienteering activity (while Randy hid!)

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At the Beach, the water was pretty choppy, and the wind was cool, so the water wasn’t a very popular place.  There was an epic sandcastle built on the beach, and they worked very hard as a team to build it.  Thanks to Uncle Nate for sending me a picture of the finished product!

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At Archery, Uncle Frank happened to be teaching.  I stuck around just long enough to get a turn myself, and I even hit the target!  Once….   Most of my arrows hit the ground.  A couple of the kids were close to or had beaten Frank’s high score, so in one of the pictures you can see Frank trying to be a distraction so that his score would remain untouched.  Of course this was staged, and that would never happen while the kids were shooting.

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At Low Ropes and Wall Climbing, kids appear to be having a good time all around!

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I haven’t made it into the boat for water sports pictures yet because the water’s been too choppy to take pictures.  Yesterday, because the water in our part of the lake was fairly choppy still, our tubers and water sports participants were taken on the pontoon boat out into the bay by Crown Island, where the water was MUCH calmer, and they still got to have safe rides.

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At Crafts, the girls were modge podging old hymnal pages onto a box, with the top painted in chalkboard paint.  Aunt Shelley finds the coolest ideas to bring to the kids each week!  I want one, but there weren’t enough, and I showed up in the middle and wouldn’t have had time anyway.  I’ll have to make my own, I guess!

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Right before dinner, we paused to honour our very first picnic table plaque dedication.  Jim and Kim Wideman bought 40 picnic tables in the off season in January for a dramatically reduced price, and throughout this week they’ve been stained and prepared to have plaques added to them.  For 100.00 per table, plaques could be engraved and fastened to the table.  The revenue from picnic table dedications not only completely covered the cost of the tables, but also made it so that our wash house, very popular during family camp, now houses four washing machines and three dryers!  So awesome!  The first dedication was made to Uncle Ivan, who has spent 41 years cabin leading at Camp, and countless hours working on building projects, up to and including the most recent one where we’re finishing up two brand new chalets!

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Here are a few pictures of our Crew working hard.  Today, they’re off on their solos where they had to find a spot all to themselves and spend some really focused time with God, listening to what He has to say to them.  I outfitted them with bottles of water this morning so that they’d stay hydrated, and sent them on their way.  We’ll miss their presence around the camp through the day today for sure, because they work VERY hard, but from what I understand this is usually a very rewarding experience for them.

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And lastly, enjoy some of our kids monkeying around in order to get their mail for the night 🙂

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The Calm Before the Storm

Funny again… that I decided on my blog title before Mark and Janet started talking… about storms. I chose it because yesterday I went out in the boat twice, so I could be seen a few times wandering around dry land wearing a life jacket.  Kris, our facilities manager, poked a little fun at me and asked if I knew something in the weather forecast that he didn’t know and if we were expecting a big storm that would make me wear a life jacket on dry land.  The water was SO calm yesterday though, all day, that it hardly would have been reasonable to assume that storms could be coming.  Yet, when I looked at the forecast this morning to decide what to wear, I noticed that we’re in for a high of 17 and that it’s calling for thunderstorms this afternoon.  Hard to imagine when the day before, it looked like this outside:

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Thankfully, we have backup plans in place because our directors are thinkers.  There may be talent show pictures for you tomorrow instead of archery, but this is how we roll ~ with the punches 🙂

But anyway, this morning, Mark and Janet talked about storms in a more figurative sense.  We started by talking about John 10:7, 9.  The key idea here is “I am the gate for the sheep.  Jesus is our shelter.”  Shepherds would lie down and be a gate so that no sheep could get out and no other predatory animals could get in.  That’s what Jesus says He does for us.  Psalm 91:1-4 says:

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Mark asked the kids if any of them had ever slept in a tent.  A tent protects us from weather, animals, and provides shelter.  Mark told a story of one excursion with his family camping, where the winds were so strong that they thought the wind would knock over their tent, so they tied it to their car.  This is similar to what anyone tenting on a journey up Mount Everest would do.  The winds can be hurricane strength at that altitude, so it’s important to make sure your tent is secured.  Jesus is like a tent for us — shelter, and protection.  There are literal storms, and then there are figurative storms like bullying, divorce, depression, sickness, death, cancer, realizing our parents aren’t perfect, gossip, and not knowing who we really are.

Janet then talked about how we need internal equipment as well.  We need to be strong and keep our bodies strong in order to thrive.  Jesus promises to protect us from storms and be with us, but He doesn’t promise to take storms out of our lives altogether.  We aren’t guaranteed 23 degree days with perfectly calm waters ~ sometimes thunderstorms will show up.  Jesus won’t always take the storms away, but He will walk with us and guide us, helping us be strong as we navigate through them.  The word for heart in French is Coeur… which is where we get our word courage (likely from a Latin root :p ).  God wants us to have a strong heart, to lean on Him, and to let Him walk with us.

Fear can take a strong hold in us.  Some of us are afraid of spiders, the dentist, getting sick, what others think of us, or what we’ll do when we grow up… For me, it’s centipedes and moths… completely irrationally.  But Janet told us of a time when she was particularly afraid, just after the death of her Father and right before Mark went through some sickness, that ‘Whatever depth of sadness you’re going through, I’ve been there before.”

As Janet learned through her circumstances that God doesn’t want us to run away from our storms, she found that she wasn’t afraid anymore.  She found encouragement in the people around her, Scripture (which she posted around her home on sticky notes), and songs that she would sing.

She left our kids with questions for their small groups:  What storms have you been in?  What made you feel afraid?  How do you handle and deal with your fear?

 

Taylor, Owen, and Ayden were quite determined at Water Sports yesterday.  Ayden really wants to drop a ski so Heather (our boat driver) gave him instructions to practice leaning all his weight on one leg so he’ll know what it feels like when he drops a ski the first time.  Owen really wanted to turn backwards on trick skis, and he succeeded!  He was quite proud of himself!  Today’s practice (if he’s able to get out), will be to turn back around so that he’s facing forward again!

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At canoeing, our canoe major was practicing tipping the canoe.

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The fishing crew has been trying out different spots in the bay all week, trying to find the best spot to catch lots of fish.

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At the climbing wall, Daniel and Kylie were climbing while tethered to each other which encourages them to work together, wait for each other, and encourage one another.

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I finally found the Wilderness kids!  I don’t find them often… the trouble is, I don’t really enjoy anything wild, haha.  I went on a trek (in my car :p ) to find them in the bush across the road and found them building shelters.  I got a shot of each group at their shelter and of all of them together.

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Tubing was fun, and with such calm waters I was able to keep the camera still enough to get some great shots!

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And finally ~ the beach.

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Jesus helps us make good choices… now choose life!

This morning in Underground we learned that Jesus helps us make good choices.  We’re given so many choices even on a day to day basis!  Using Deuteronomy 30:19 as a base, we talked about all the choices we get to make, and we can be sure that there many more as we go about our every day lives.

We get to choose whether we’re going to use all our energy getting to the summit of the mountain or whether we’ll turn back.  We get to choose the pace we climb so that we don’t burn out.

We get to choose our words — we get to decide whether we’ll build people up or tear them down.  Some people are like pineapples:  they’re prickly on the outside but soft and hurt on the inside.  Hurting people tend to hurt other people, and so we can choose to hurt others or to choose words that build up and encourage.  What a powerful choice!

We can choose whether we point to Jesus in the way we live our lives, or whether we point away from Him.

We can choose to forgive.  Jesus forgave and continually forgives us, and using that example we can continually choose to forgive others, or we can harbour unforgiveness in our hearts.  Mark used the story of Joseph to illustrate the power of forgiveness.  His brothers were so jealous of him and his abilities and the favour he’d found with their father that they tore his coat, threw him in a pit, and then sold him into slavery.  He eventually rose through the ranks of Egyptian life and became a right-hand-man to Pharaoh.  Later, when his brothers came to beg for mercy and grain during a drought, Joseph could have chosen not to forgive but instead to get revenge ~ but he didn’t.  He chose to forgive and bring healing to the relationship with his entire family.

We get to choose to believe that God’s plans for us are good ~ even when they don’t seem like they are.

We get to choose our friends and how we treat them.  We can be kind, or we can be cruel.  Mark used David and Jonathan as an example of how to treat our friends.  Jonathan had every right to become King, but he knew that God had other plans, and yet he was still a true friend to David.  Friends closer than brothers.

Finally, we get to choose our attitude.  In every situation we get to choose how to react, both here at Camp and when we get home.  We can choose jealousy, anger, bitterness…. or grace, and joy.  For example, when we look at the life of Daniel, we saw a man who over and over again chose the right attitude, even when others wanted him to choose to worship something other than God, and when they were angry and jealous.

Questions for small group discussion were:  What kind of friend do you want to have?  And what kind of friend do you want to be?  Those are really important questions, especially in this age group.  So many times there can be the temptation to do whatever we have to to fit in — whether that’s make fun of someone unpopular, or gossip about someone behind their back ~ but our campers are now armed with the knowledge that they have a choice.  They can choose to be inclusive, loving, and gracious at all times.  Think of the friendships they could reap if they’re sowing seeds like that!  They could have friends the strength of David and Jonathan.

 

Yesterday was such a beautiful day.  It was chilly, though it warmed up considerably through the day, but that stopped no one from having great fun!  Everywhere I looked I saw smiling faces, and today is quite a bit warmer, so all is well here!

Every time I go to Crafts, I see smiling faces who are eagerly working on the day’s projects.  I see a lot of the same faces at Crafts, but hey — if they enjoy it, who are we to argue?  Some of your kids will be bringing home many lovely projects with them.

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The beach looked like a lot of fun ~ I think we have some future engineers on our hands in the sand castle/fort/structure building that was going on.  They could be seen many times stopping what they were doing, huddling together, pointing at various areas of the structure and then going back to their task, making sure they were in agreement about how to reinforce weak areas and make everything serve its purpose.

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There was canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding, all of which looked like great fun!

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I stumbled upon a group of hungry leaders and campers, just waiting for their “GIANT COOKIE” to come out of the oven.  One girl confessed to me that she’s not sure it was going to cook all the way through in the middle, but I heard it turned out quite delicious despite their concern.

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At water sports, Hayden crossed out of the wake for the first time!  The rest of the kids did well at their chosen sport, and some are determined to get up today because they didn’t yesterday!  I love the spirit of determination that instead of saying “I couldn’t do this today, I quit, I’m gonna do something else”… says “I know what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do to fix it, I’ll try harder tomorrow, when my arms aren’t as tired!”  Good for them!

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The drama major group grew considerably since the day before ~ I found them yesterday working on a skit that I assumed they’d memorized lines for.  It turned out that the girls were completely improvising everything they were doing, and they were laughing very hard as they did so.  I came in in the middle of the skit, so I don’t really understand it, but it seemed very funny.  Good for them!

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The God Who Sees

The other day, I talked about how I’ve got one of Laura’s songs she’s taught our kids perpetually stuck in my head.  “I am not forgotten, God knows my name.”  They sang it again this morning, so it’s firmly planted back in my brain, but Janet used it to introduce the talk for Underground.  She started right after worship finished by telling the kids that she believes God is telling her that some of them don’t believe that God knows their name, that they feel forgotten, and that they feel that no one cares, but that that is NOT true.  So she told them the story of Hagar, who was a servant to Abraham and Sarah.  Abraham and Sarah really wanted a child, and they’d been told by God that they would have one, but it wasn’t happening fast enough for their liking, so to speed the process along, they used Hagar to give them a child.  However, shortly after Hagar gave birth to her child, Sarah was pregnant with her own and so they no longer needed Hagar, and banished her to the wilderness.  She sat underneath a tree, waiting to die, when God’s voice spoke to her and said “I see you, and I hear you.”  He is the God Who sees everything!  God was telling Hagar that even though it felt like no one else cared, He had her back.  Ishmael, Hagar’s son, was also made into a great nation, just like Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac.  Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

As a recap to the previous lessons, Mark had the kids repeat their past verses, and then he briefly summarized last night’s message ~ Jesus is the light of the world and wants to get into our dark places.  But today, Mark taught us about how in Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls His disciples the light of the world!  He lit a head lamp and put it on his head.  Then he hid it under a blanket.  He asked the kids where the light was more effective… and obviously they understand that the light needs to be shining around for it to be effective.  We can share our light and touch other peoples’ lives.  People who would otherwise not know Jesus could come to know Him because of the light that shines in our lives.  Mark shared several stories of how that’s been proven true in his own life.

We looked at the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.  Phillip stumbled upon this important Ethiopian man reading the book of Isaiah and asked him if he understood what he was reading.  “How can I,” the Eunuch responded, “unless someone explains it to me?”  Instead of saying “True story” or the equivalent for the time period, Phillip breaks down the prophecy in Isaiah as the telling of the coming of Jesus, and explains why Jesus is important.  Because Phillip took the time to let his light shine, the Ethiopian Eunuch was able to understand the good news of Jesus.

It’s like lighting a candle ~ If I light my candle, but don’t use it to light anyone else’s, I will have some light, but it can never spread.  If I hide the candle, it’s even worse.  But if I go to everyone around me whose candle is not lit and I share my light, soon there’s light all around, and those people whose candles I’ve lit can help me light the candles of others.

Before heading out to small groups, the kids were asked to reflect on examples of someone being a light to them ~ maybe even someone whose light led them to Jesus.  And they’re thinking about how they can be a light to others.  These are the discussion questions today for the small group time.

And now for pictures.  I was off-site yesterday, so thank you to Hannah for taking all these pictures for me.  I was afraid it was going to rain and thunderstorm yesterday; the forecast called for it!  But it never did and so thankfully it seems that the kids had a great day!  And today, while a bit on the chilly side, still looks to be absolutely beautiful, which is awesome and we thank God for the great weather we’ve been having so far.

At Sports Major, kids were learning volleyball skills and then applying them later at the volleyball court.

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I’m sure the Beach was very popular yesterday, as it was quite warm to start the day and didn’t cool down until a cold front passed through in the late afternoon.

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I’m really not sure what went on at Drama, to be honest, but the kids look like they were having fun!

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And as always, low ropes is the epitome of cooperation, working together, and having each others’ backs.  It’s great to see kids spotting each other now that we’ve gotten into older weeks.

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I am not forgotten… God knows my name

Welcome to Blaze!  I have had this new song that our worship leader, Laura, taught us last week stuck in my head for days.  It’s so catchy!  Your kids will likely come home humming it if they’re drawn to it like I am.

It’s great because I was thinking I should name today’s blog “I am not forgotten… God knows my name” before I even knew what our Camp Pastors for the week were going to talk about.  We’re very excited to have Mark and Janet Soppitt here for the week.  They’ve spoken together during Family Camp before, but have never been to Kids’ Camp!  They’re very excited about the new opportunity, and we’re thrilled to have them back!  This morning, Mark talked about some of the equipment you’d need to go from one Base Camp to the other.  Our theme for the week being Mount Kahquah Base Camp, we’ve been traversing from one camp to the next as mountain climbers tend to do when making a big climb.  You have to take time to rest and acclimatize to your new elevation, so you need base camps along the way to prepare for the next leg of your journey.  Mark talked about Ephesians 1:3-4:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

We pulled out two key messages from that passage ~ 1.  God has a plan; 2.  He chose us before the Creation of the world.  The idea there that kind of blew MY mind, even though I’ve always known this… It seems to be one of those things I’ve just kind of accepted and then not thought about… Before the world was created, God knew each and every kid that was going to be at this camp this week, learning these messages.  He knew that each of us would play a part in His story (history).  I am not forgotten, God knows my name… and He has since before the world was even created.  Isn’t that unbelievable?  And yet, I believe it!  Hopefully the kids here will and do as well.

Mark left the kids with a question for their small group time ~ What piece of equipment would you choose to go up the mountain?

I unfortunately was not on the ball enough yesterday to get pictures of the bus arriving, but no worries, everyone arrived safely and happily!  Swim tests went off without a hitch, and we made it through one more week without unloading in the rain!  Remember last year how every Sunday’s pictures were of luggage being passed quickly to the Chapel porch so that it wouldn’t get wet?  Thankfully, that has not had to happen at all this year!  We have one more week to get through, let’s continue to pray for great weather especially on our arrival days!  I did, however, get some pictures of our decorations, put up by our program directors for the week ~ Noah and Alli, and I got some of the kids in Underground this morning, singing loudly to the songs they learned yesterday evening and from previous years.

It’s great to be here, and here’s praying for another awesome week watching God move through the lives of our Blaze campers!

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God will guide you continually

Yesterday morning in Underground, we learned about the verse in Isaiah 58:11 that says:

The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring.

The LITs provided a great illustration which built on yesterday’s Skittley Goodness object lesson.  They had a jug of Iced Tea, and used that to show what happens when we grow stagnant in our Faith — That’s what happens to water when it doesn’t move and nothing changes.  It gets ‘icky.’  That’s what happens to us when we’re not open to receiving God’s goodness.  We stay the same, our water gets stagnant, and we turn icky.  However, when we make ourselves open to receiving God’s “Skittley Goodness,” God will fill us up.  The LITs plunged a garden hose into the jug of Iced Tea and let water run in.  It took a minute or two, but the water in the jug began to run clear because it forced the Iced Tea out (into a bucket below, don’t worry — no messes were made).  When we stay connected to Jesus we get living water and experience nourishment from God.

Then we looked at the story of the Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4.  Jesus offered her living water as well, even though he had been the one to go to her for a literal drink.  This was followed by testimonies from 4 of our LITs ~ Hope, Luke, Danielle, and Kenny.  I understand that yesterday morning was not the only time that testimonies were heard.  The four who shared yesterday morning each talked briefly about how they keep getting refreshed and how they stay tapped into God.

Yesterday evening’s Underground service started with some worship, then went into a more unstructured time of testimonies from kids, and allowed them to share what God is doing in their own lives, and how He revealed Himself to them this week at Camp.  They wrapped up with a more energetic set of worship to celebrate the last night of Camp.

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I’m including a picture of First Aid Kits, which were given to each one here who has either made a new commitment to follow Christ this week, or who had already made that commitment in their lives.  The First Aid Kit represents God’s healing power in their lives.  They were hung on the wall in the shape of a Cross, and I think it’s a really powerful visual to show us just how many kids have taken this message seriously!  Praise God!

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As I sit here writing this to you, I am in the Tuck Shop for the last time this week, and over my head I can hear cheers as the final awards for the week are given out and staff is thanked.  Before I headed downstairs, I saw kids hugging their counselors and their new friends they’ve made in their cabins because it’s time to go home.  Actually as I type this very paragraph, all I can hear is the sound of chairs being put on top of tables to get ready to do a good sweep and mop of the dining hall floor.  Quest is over.  But it’s our prayer that the lives of the kids who were here this week have been forever impacted, hopefully in ways we can’t possibly fathom quite yet.  We hope that seeds have been sown onto fertile ground where hearts were ready to hear the good news of Jesus, and that life may never be the same.  That’s our prayer, and we’d love it if you’d join us in that as well.

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So for the end of Quest, here are a few pictures that I managed to scrape together yesterday, between me and our awesome Craft Coordinator Teresa who has been texting me great pictures throughout the last few days.

I spied on the canoers and kayakers.  I love the day that the canoers get out into the open water and practice tipping their canoes.  I remember that clearly from when I was a camper.  It was scary to tip the boat, but it was really good to feel that prepared.  I’ve been in canoes in some rougher waters before, and I can’t help but think that part of the reason I wasn’t overly scared is because I was well prepared.

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Throughout the week, all the challenges and games counted for points, to be rewarded at the end of the week.  Last night the Red Team got to celebrate their win with an ice cream bar AND taking a great big swing at our Piñata.

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There will be no blog tomorrow morning as there are no kids here, but we’ll meet again on Monday for the beginning of Blaze!