Monday, July 21, 2014

Youth Camp- Lessons and Memories

Two weeks ago, I left very early (3 am) from my house and made a stop to pick up some kids then traveled on to church to then we took 10 kids to youth camp. I love it because our kids are amazing up there. They don't have the distractions that we have at home. And this camp- Glorietta- isn't like the youth camp I went to in the Ochoco National Forest in Oregon. This camp has rooms that have key cards, private bathrooms and Wi-Fi not to mention tons of activities- hiking, battleball, soccer, basketball, board games, swimming  art- the list goes on. But some things are the same. Volunteers- older ladies and gentlemen that come and volunteer to cook and take care of the grounds and man the main gate or do any other task. Leaders who take vacation time from their normal jobs to come and be with the students for a week so they can have have the opportunity to experience God and worship and learning. As an adult now that goes, I have a much deeper appreciation for the adults that took the time to pour into myself and my friends each summer.

The week we came back, there were thunder and lighting storms back home in Oregon and currently there is a large fire threatening Crystal Springs Camp- the camp I spent many summers at for family or youth camp. I was upset that the camp may be burned and destroyed not because of the camp itself but for what it represents- the opportunity for people to come together and worship and learn about God as well as build relationships. I'm sentimental so I was also upset that the stump that I sat on outside of the Chapel when I accepted Christ may be burned and destroyed. It's just a stump and there are many stumps but it's the value of what is tied to that stump that made me an emotional wreck. All because the week prior we spent the week talking about BE-ing: BE His, BE Last, BE Real and BE Bold. After 27 years I finally got some things to sink into my thick skull while I was in Glorietta. I love taking our kids because I think I learn more and experience more right next to them. It could be in a conversation about how I grew up and how I see myself in them or it could be me apologizing to the junior high girls for my lack of patience late one night. I grow at camp as an adult in my faith just as much as I hope the kids attending grow.

I never understood the value of my salvation as a gift. I still try and do something for it. You know, someone gives you a really great gift and you don't deserve it but you try and find something to give back. The example that finally made it clear to me was a loan. You pay the loan in full but the next month and each month after that you keep going to the bank to try and make a payment on something that has already been paid for.  But that's not how our salvation works. There aren't any strings attached even though we try and attach strings or conditions to our salvation. Don't get me wrong- when you come to Christ your heart is changed and you want to serve others and put them and their needs before yours.  We don't serve to earn favor from God but rather as a response to what he has done for us.

We are also called to be real. That means the person we are on Sunday morning or Wednesday night at church is the same person Monday at the office, Tuesday in traffic, Thursday with the repairman, Friday at the restaurant and Saturday working in your yard. We need to have people in our lives that know the real person to call us on our stuff. This doesn't mean judge- I grew up feeling judged but rather to love us and tell us what we are doing wrong and not just what we are doing right. Everyone does wrong and what is wrong or right isn't determined by me but by God. Many times we have a better opinion of our sin that God does and we compare our sins to others to not feel as bad but just like the white speck on top of the chicken poop is still poop, our pretty sins are just as bad as the ugly ones. By being real with each other we can also be bold in our faith. We can be serving others while showing our faith and it doesn't have to be in a Bible- bashing or stereotypical christian judgement kind of way. It can be through our actions and many times those who are most bold in there faith are the ones changing the diapers, cleaning up the lawn or just in the background making it possible for someone to experience Christ- just like the four guys who lowered their friend in to a room from the ceiling just to see Jesus.

Some may be offended by this post and that's ok. I talk a lot about many topics and the last two weeks with camp and the fires has really made me think about what I learned at camp over the years and the people who were being last so that kids like me and my friends or kids that went last week or any of these weeks through the summer could have an experience that changes the direction of their lives eternally.