Sunday, July 25, 2010

Will you be my Super Summer Girlfriend?

Church camp aye?

My first week of camp was spent at Baptist Vista.
I am personally amazed that they have a website. Anyway, I had the pleasure of teaching 7th and 8th grade boys as well as running sound for the band. It was a great time. I grew in my understanding of how the mechanics of camp works, as well as I had some great discussion of a Brazilian friend of mine.

Super Summer Arkansas is where I spent my second week of camp. I was in Prime Time 6 with dean Jonathan Whitlock. PT6 pulled out the win for rec, and then in yellow school with dean Sean Mills we pulled out the win for spirit as well! It was an exciting time with some great people, but camps not about fun and games; hence why I am writing at the moment.

One of the main things that I gathered from being at Baptist Vista was in relation to vocational ministry. What I have to write about is something that has been irking me for a while, not anything that I didn't already know. It seems that ministry has become just another profession to some. Thankfully the people I am surrounded by don't live by this standard, however it still is common. Ministry is not an occupation, it is a calling. On top of that, it is a calling that every Christian is called to do, I have talked about this in a previous post even. If you think about it though, it shouldn't be about how much you get paid, it should be about God's will in your life. God's will isn't in the money, it is in eternity. A person who devotes themselves to ministry should be grateful if they are privileged to not have to be bi-vocational or even volunteer based. A person in ministry should not be concerned about their pay, if they are within God's will he is going to take care of them. A person in vocational ministry should be so focused on the Kingdom work, that they are no longer concerned about this world. One of my favorite sections of scripture is Hebrews 11:13-16:

"13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

Here's the deal, as followers of Christ, we are called to be different from the world, aliens as the NIV puts it, and thus so we should not be concerned about what is going on in the world, instead we should be focused on our eternal homes. The moment we grasp this concept, then we will truly be completely devoted to Christ, and show that we have no longing for the country we have left behind, i.e. secular culture.

Moving on, There are some differences between the two camps (in case you haven't already noticed). Aside from the significant size differences between the two, the content differences are noticeable as well.  While what Brad talked about at Baptist Vista was definitely youth oriented, youth empowering, what Lance talked about was missional living.  Both concepts were great, however the theme carried throughout Super Summer, including the school sessions, were definitely more in depth than what we talked about at Baptist  Vista.

I believe that both contents were needed and useful, just that Super Summer went deeper.  With camp for students, content is a must.  If the spiritual content of the camp is lacking, then you have missed the entire point of camp.  When we take our students to camp we need to ensure that they are growing spiritually in as many ways possible while at camp.  If they go to camp and don't grow at all, then we are failing them by even offering something like that as an option.

One thing that God revealed to me while at Super Summer, was an activity that is key for every small group as they begin their time together.  This was used as a "get to know you" activity.  I had each of the kids in my Super Summer group, share their story.  Once a student has shared their story with a group they have entered into a deeper level of trust with the group.  This works great with a group no larger than 10 people, (mainly due to time constraints). 

So I have spent the entire beginning of this post avoiding the title.  It would be very cruel of me to write a blog about camp and avoid the subject, even more so after what the blog is titled.  So the whole "camp girlfriend" experience is one that happens with at least one student from your church group each year, like a youth minister/sponsor rejoices if they make it through the week without happening.  Personally I enjoy watching the romance unfold; however I realize that this can take away from the experience for the student, so this is where I am against the situation.  My thoughts on the issue, pursue the girl after church camp, (if you are old enough for a relationship anyway) if the connection is still there, then go for it, just not while at camp.  And guys if the girl is pursuing you, then drop it, you don't need her, she needs you, and that is not a good situation to be in.

I believe I covered everything I wanted to talk about, hopefully this was helpful/shed some light into my experiences at church camp.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

ReThink: Living

This may have a different feel than typical posts here on the blog.  Hopefully it will flow well though and everyone will benefit from the content.

Currently there is a contest hosted by Don Miller, seeing whose reasons for coming to his conference in Portland were the best.

When I began to consider entering the contest; I first went and read the requirements/suggestions.  (How could one write a complete blog on the subject without knowing these things?).  Then I began hashing out what it is that I need to work on, in order to live a better story.

Upon pondering my life, emotions, actions, reading the tips, ect.  I came to a point of which I was ready to begin writing.  So the following is why I believe gaining a free trip to the Living a Better Story Seminar would not only benefit my life but also benefit the content of my blog as well.

When examining my current life, there is a long list of stories I have or could write about.  However, upon considering these stories I began to think about how many of them actually had content that is needed for a great story.  My personal definition of a great story: a memorable and life changing tale.

After much self deliberation I noticed that the stories I have are memorable, however they are lacking life changing impact for the people who read or hear them.  Do I believe that going to the  Living a Better Story Seminar will make my stories to where they are life changing, not completely but I do realize that what I learn there can help with this.

As I am advancing in years and maturing in my life, I have grown to realize that I have character flaws.  Now I realize that every person has character flaws and that they themselves are a part of an individuals story, but I also realize that these character flaws can hinder a persons story as well.  I am hoping that through the  Living a Better Story Seminar I will be able to learn ways to overcome these character flaws in order to live a better story.

At this point you may be wondering what a better story would look like for me.  In my future I want to impact the world for Christ.  Currently I feel the calling to either planting a church or helping with a rural church/church plant.  With my age being what it is, I am considered a prime candidate for this type thing as soon as I graduate from college if not sooner.  With this calling comes an awesome opportunity to be able to experience and then re-tell an abundance of stories.  I feel that the seminar would definitely help in this area, to be able to lay out my experiences in a way that readers would not only feel that they are a part of the story, but also be stirred to action as well.

In the next year or so, as I finish college, there will also be opportunities to experience a life full of stories to be shared with the world.  One of these opportunities is coming through a mentoring program I am starting at the church where I am on staff where college students mentor our high school students.  I believe that attending the conference would help to shape this mentoring project into something even more impacting than what my mind contains.  As well as one of the students I am mentoring would be tickled to death if I was able to bring him along as my traveling companion, seeing as he is a literary genius and admires the literature written by Donald Miller. Through the  Living a Better Story Seminar I feel that what I experience in college and ministry will be better told, in a way that could impact someone else's life for the greater good.

I would really like to see the world come to an understanding of the state of the modern church and its relation to culture and I feel that through communicating about what I see through ministry positions; currently as an intern and in the future as someone planting/growing a church that the Living a Better Story Seminar would assist me in explaining what God has laid on my heart about how to effectively reach my generation.

Hopefully this post has effectively communicated what I feel I could improve on in order to Live a Better Story.  Having just come off of a mission trip today, it was a stretching writing this and I had to proof several times for errors, however I strongly feel that these things listed above are qualities that are lacking and need to be built upon for me to live a better story.

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sin, Repentance, & Redemption

Recently some things came up in conversation and I began to consider the implications behind them.  I'm really not going to get into details behind the conversation, but the conversation got me thinking about some things.

When a person is caught up in sin, regardless of what it is, it seems like a good idea at the time.  Sometimes you may not even realize that it's a sin.  Then you look back at it and years later in conversation, you realize how crazy sin is, and how you live with the consequences of it even after it is over.

Sometimes I feel people get caught in a rut, and don't see a need, to get out of the position they are in (in relation to sin).  So they just continue down the path that they are on.  The whole notion that "I'm not good enough to come to Jesus" and "I'm already too far gone to change."

There are two sides to this situation, just as there are two sides to most things.  There is the side of the lost person and the side of the Christian person.

In the side of the Christian person, dealing with sin, whether it be habitual or one time, it must be taken care of.  Otherwise you are sinning more (if that makes sense).  The reason why I say this, is because as a follower of Christ, we have realized (to some capacity) that we are sinners in need of a Savior.  However we are not allowed to freely sin.  As quoted from Romans 6: 1-2
"1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

The passage continues through verse 14.  Here's the thing though, we are called to no longer live in sin.  The moment we become followers of Christ, we are called to become more like Him, we are called to begin a process of daily growth towards becoming more like Christ.  As followers who should know this thing, if we continue in sin the same sins we were in formerly in a habitual manner, then we are using cheap grace, which is what Paul is cautioning against here in Romans 6.

A person who is not a follower of Christ has different expectations because they do not understand what it's like.  Ephesians 2:8-13 talks of how we are saved by grace through faith.  It continues on to say it is not what we do that saves us, it is our faith.  However in James it also speaks of how faith without works is dead.   What you need to gather from this though is that everyone is saved by grace.  Grace is mercy, clemency, pardon as stated from the linked  dictionary above. 

People get caught up in "Getting right" before they come to God.  The thing is though, Jesus did not say "you're healed, now get cleaned up and then follow me"  no he said "Go, and sin no more"  Jesus doesn't require you to be perfect in order to follow Him, what he does require is a will to change.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

ReThink: Judging

So this evening I went shopping with the entire family (Mom, Dad, Abby, Laura, and our two foster kids). This is the second time I have done this. What I have noticed in the times that we have gone, is the amount of looks we get. Now I'm sure people with five children get alot of looks on their own, but seeing as Laura and I are close enough in age that during a majority of times that we hang out together people assume that we are dating one another. With us taking care of the two younger foster children as well you can tell as people stare that they are judging.

Admittedly there were alot of young couples with their children in Walmart this evening, but still this has no bearing on whether or not you should be judging someone. Someday I will be happily married Lord willing, and I probably won't be as moved by people staring at me and my wife/children (cause they'll be beautiful), but at the moment it is somewhat upsetting.

As Christians we should be looking on with concern, and not judgment. Afterall we know we are not the ones who judge. That part is Biblical. We should be engaging these people in conversation, seeing what their needs are, ministering to them. Instead the majority just stare and mull over in their minds about what mistakes, or what kind of lifestyle the person lives.

I know that after spending time with these children, I am able to empathize with the young ladies I know who are single parents, because I too have been judged by people, simply for walking around with a baby in my arms, not one thinking, that "hey on that 19 kids and counting show, they have a twenty year old and a newborn, the sweet little baby he's holding might actually be his sibling."

Once again, let me reiterate, we are called to care for these people, we are not called to judge. The Bible clearly states that we are to never judge as well as that we are to care for the widowed and orphaned.

This post comes before my "Church Camp" post that I hyped in my statuses. I apologize, hopefully I will have time tomorrow to finish up the Church Camp blog and get it posted. I will them begin to work on one about vacation. (I feel awfully behind at the moment).