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Archive for the ‘camp’ Category

Identity

One of the testimonies a high school camper gave the last night was about identity. He’d entered high school expecting to be known as the guy who plays football. But he didn’t get to play. So he switched to being the chem. kid, “chemistry whiz.” But he barely passed chemistry. And finally it was back to football. Only he got injured.

Finally, he said, he figured out that God didn’t want him to have an ego identity. God wants us to be His servants. And God should be known through us.

When I was in junior high and high school, I did Awana Bible Quizzing. And that was sort of my identity. If you wanted to hear me talk, ask with interest about quiz, and off I’d go. My fellow quizzers could talk over the same competitions for hours, time and time again. The days on which we competed were some of the best – and most vividly remembered – of my life.

It all started because all my friends were quizzing. So I joined the team, practiced, and our team screamed with excitement because we won. We were third and fourth graders, so I mean screamed. That became a sort of tradition. Each year as they announced places, our teams would squeeze each others’ hands and wait, saving up for the scream. Six years in a row, that is what happened to my team. The eighth grade year there was a three-way tie, and after several tie-breaker questions and only one team eliminated, we decided to share first place.

And then it happened. The next year my team lost. Well, we didn’t lose; we got third place. But to me anything except first place was an inky chasm that engulfed the miserable, bitter “honorable mentions.” I think I had a problem.

Fortunately the next year the best part of the first place team that beat us from the year before joined up with our team, and we soared to amazing, unexpected heights. Our coach was accused of having a ringer on her team, to which she replied, “I have four ringers.” (And four was a full team.)

During that year and the next, once again winning, I was nevertheless learning a lot about teamwork, prayer, humility. For one thing, I realized that in the higher rounds of the national competition, it wasn’t necessarily the team that buzzed in first or who knew all the answers that won. Something else had to be at work, and I realized it was God.

Prayer was the answer. But the prayers couldn’t be of the sort that demanded a win. The prayers my team ended up praying were for spiritual growth, God’s glory, His favor, for lasting friendships, for the Word of God to be proclaimed.

Finally my senior year came, and it was bittersweet knowing that after that I would graduate, and never do quizzing again. But priorities were different as a senior, and while I really wanted to do well and invest in Bible quiz, I couldn’t quite study so much as I had. I wanted so much to go out on top, and feared that people would think that I’d slacked off. So the pride and vanity were still there.

That spring was a spring filled with prayer and surrender. By the day of the quiz, I had such freedom knowing that God’s will would be done, and I could rejoice in it. And while everything went well, my team took second and a friend’s team took first. That team was so shocked and delighted, and deserving, that I couldn’t help but be so happy for them. And I smiled all day.

My last year as a camper, the big brother of the guy who gave the testimony above signed my shirt, addressing it to “Quizmaster,” but that’s not who I am. My identity isn’t Lisa, blogger or Lisa, quizzer or Lisa, anything else. Hopefully people see me and say God is Lord, or God is good, or God is able.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice – holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

But I am still a quizzer. At camp there is a song, No Mountain High Enough, which is famous for one line about strength at which everyone poses to show off their muscles. The camp teacher known as Russell the Muscle because of this song got up after we sang it and began, “I have a quiz question.” At which point I became tense, ready to spring. His question was from what passage of Scripture the song was taken (the point is that nothing is big, strong, dark, etc. enough to keep me from God). The correct answer was also one of the memory verses from junior high that week, so I expected my hand, which shot up, to be joined by a myriad of others. It wasn’t. All alone my hand sat, and of course I knew the answer, but I didn’t want him to call on me. Finally it all came out that I was a counselor, and the answer was dragged from a little junior high camper instead.

I just can’t help it. I’d have had to sit on my hands to keep from participating. = )

To God be all glory.

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Authority at Camp

During the week of camp, one of the difficulties I had actually anticipated was dealing with authority. Mind you, the people running the camp, and most of the other sub-leaders and counselors, are my friends, and I’ve known them a long time. I know how they function, and typically understand them pretty well. But whenever you’re in a position of authority and also under authority, things can get confusing.

I don’t want to admit that I’m a leader. I prefer the timidity I described earlier, and decision making for other people is hard work. But if something isn’t being done well, I’d rather do it myself. And if my instructions go against what I think is best, you may imagine I have a struggle making the authoritative instructions preeminent. My personality is independent.

Nothing really big happened, but sufficient conflicts were visible that for the older girls in my cabin, I hoped they got a good example of what it means to be grown up, with your own rights and responsibilities, and to still submit. An almost-out-of-the-house teenager needs to learn these things. So it was nice to be a little transparent with the older girls, and tell them that I disagreed with some decisions, but then they could see I still followed them.

My only big issue was on devotions. Counselors were instructed to prepare a devotional time for each night. We were also encouraged to be connecting with those in our cabins and focusing on their spiritual growth. So when a couple nights the schedule got adjusted enough that I wasn’t doing devotions with my cabin, it was really hard to follow the new schedule. Every other time I had a chance to talk with my girls about spiritual things was just that – chance (well, in the Christian sort of sense). Evening devotions were the scheduled time where they all had to be listening, and they liked it, liked the discussions, I think. They needed to debrief from their day.

I wouldn’t say the authorities were wrong in changing the schedule. It wasn’t sinful, and they didn’t mean to make problems. They were doing as they thought was best, and since they were the leaders, that was their responsibility. I just chafed under different priorities. It doesn’t mean I’m not going back!

To God be all glory.

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I Could Do This Forever

The second morning of camp, Monday, after one and a half days of camp, I was up before dawn wondering how there could be four days left. My feet and eyelids were heavy, and I couldn’t remember a time before camp. So much had happened that it felt like a week.

Activities for every day included a counselor’s meeting at 6:30 AM, personal devotions, breakfast, cabin clean up, Bible hour, a morning activity or preparation for service, lunch, team spirit time, 30 minutes mandated by state law for us to be on our bunks (during which time we talked, did our lessons, and said our memory verses), two and a half hours free time, dinner, an activity (and the word active is in activity), free time, chapel, another activity, and cabin devotions with lights-out at 11 PM.

By Thursday morning, the dawn of the last full day, I was wishing it weren’t so close to over (even though the day stretched out with promise ahead of me). With a little more sleep worked into the schedule, I could have kept on forever.

“Why?”

The intentionality of every day was energizing. You always had somewhere to go, and it was hard to waste time. Days were spent fellowshipping with other Christians, with ministry thrown in naturally. I didn’t have to make decisions about what I should fix for lunch. There was a lot of prayer, Bible study, and worship going on.

“Why?” again

Why is that better than everyday life down from the literal mountaintop? Here I get distracted. There are things I did quite well without, like shopping and tv and even computers. I don’t have my day scheduled, so I waste time deciding what to do and getting motivated to do it. My friends and I have to work to spend time together. And God gets considerably less time and focus.

“How?”

How could things be different? I think life down here could be more like camp. For starters, we could have prayer/devotional meetings in the early mornings. And every evening we could rotate houses and do a mini, no-practice-necessary worship service where we share what God has taught us recently and what we anticipate for the next day or two. I can play worship music more often, and sing along. I can turn off the tv and follow a schedule. I can be intentional about looking for God’s ordained moments for ministry in the lives of others. I can care about what He’s doing in the lives of others.

To God be all glory.

PS: Amy of Humble Musing fame had a similar post this week.

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That Kids Grow Up

I’ve been out of the camp scene for a few years. The last time I was there, those who just graduated this year were about to be freshmen. Adjusting to the fact that they’re all basically adults with plans and responsibility was hard. For one thing, some of them were still awkward and obnoxious adolescents when last I was at camp. Kids I thought were hopelessly irretrievable pests are still themselves, but now they’re leaders, self-controlled (relative to what they were), and considerate of others. The gifts that were puzzling them as freshmen are blooming into ministries and life-directions.

To God be all glory.

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Providence

The last several months our Sunday school class has been going through a series on building Intimacy with God. My topics have been Isolation and Nothing Withheld, which when I looked over my journals at the beginning of the series, were the subjects that have most drawn me to God. Our series uses an acronym based on John 15’s vine and branches metaphor. It is ABIDING.

At our counselor orientation meeting they camp directors told us that the object of the week, the prayer the camp board had been praying, was that the kids would grow in intimacy with God. Our first counselor devotion was taken from John 15, and dealt with abiding in the branch, our source for bearing fruit. And finally one of the testimonies given by a Varsity camper on the last evening was all about burdens, giving them to God, and trusting God to get you through tough times.

The “coincidences” showed me how providentially God had been preparing my spirit to minister to the campers that week. And the further lessons refreshed and influenced my preparation for teaching Sunday school when I got back. There’s always the chance, too, that God is trying to get these truths into my life. Repetition is a powerful tool.

To God be all glory.

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Fight for Me

I mentioned spiritual warfare, and I have to mention that one young lady had brought a song to camp to audition. The song was Fight for Me, by Danny Oertli, and the lyrics talk about sensing the spirits in the air and crying out to God, who is greater than he who is in the world, to fight for me. And I, feeble little child of God who would rather worry, will remain still. The girl was rehearsing all alone in the community room of our lodge. From down the hall I could hear her enchanting voice pour out the folk-like melody. As soon as I entered her sight, she stopped.

Which was the story of her day. She had stage fright, had misplayed a chord on her guitar when she auditioned but was still allowed to sing. Usually she only sang in her bedroom with no audience. We talked for a while, and I tried to encourage her.

That night she still looked really nervous, so I got to pray with her before she sang (and for her as she sang). She did great. And God fought for us, I know, because we could sense the opposition. The adversary wanted to defeat her, to keep her afraid. But God fought for her.

To God be all glory.

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Walk in the Spirit

During my week at camp I was preparing for a Sunday school lesson in which we were studying Ephesians. One of the points was the fact that the unsaved are governed by the lusts of their flesh and of their mind, and those lusts war against the Spirit in a Christian.

One afternoon early into the camp week I was wandering around during free time trying to be a counselor. I was doing what my mind knew I was supposed to do, what I thought I should do, and what would satisfy me as completing the responsibility. Most of my campers were dispersed to the far corners of camp that I had not yet discovered, and the rest were playing volleyball.

Reassuring myself that they were old enough to be independent and smart enough to have brought friends to camp with them, I sat down to wonder what I should do. At least they weren’t clinging on me like the JV girls were to their counselors. But I began to wonder if my charges didn’t need me why God even had me there.

By the evening I had thoroughly repented. I was back to actually communicating with God, content to wait for His opportunities rather than manufacturing my own. When the evening praise began I phased into my own prayer. I needed to be reminded who God was. Just to focus on Him. At first. I needed it. And right there, the first song was all about God and His attributes, His power, holiness, and glory. God heard me.

And the next day I did wait for him, and the day went so much better. I gained insight into my campers – and others, as well. I had purpose but it was to wait on God and obey His promptings. It was to fellowship more with Him.

To God be all glory.

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