Carter and Ian have the crystals! But it took some convincing from Ian to get Carter to trust the circus master/lake monster, Chad. Carter said he couldn't trust Chad because of the way he looked and where he lived. Often, we as Christians will meet people who are different than us. Some people grew up differently than you, look different than you, and may even act different than you. The Bible has something to say about the way we should act with people like this in James 2:1-5. These verses say, " My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?" These verses show us that Jesus would want us to not treat people who look different or act different than ourselves poorly, because he loves those people and wants us to show love to them also. So next time you meet someone who is different than you, just remember that Jesus loves them
Jesus? Jesus Who?
I have failed miserably in writing this blog so far.
Before this post, I have written five blog posts. These posts have been meant to be insightful and encouraging to counselors, staff, and anyone else who stumbles upon my weekly rantings. Most of my posts have something to do with camp, possibly a little blurb about what is going on at camp, maybe a story about a character from the Bible. You know, devotion stuff.
The things I talk about in this blog are ideas and doctrine that I really feel strongly about. Most weeks, I feel that God has legitimately laid something on my heart to share with the Ba-Yo-Ca family. So in this I am not saying that what I have been posting is rubbish. On the contrary, the lessons that I am trying to teach are lessons from scripture, which we know is "God-breathed and useful for teaching" (2 Timothy 3:16). However, virtually every week I have missed one major aspect of the lesson: Jesus.
This can't be true, right? I looked back over my posts and found one time that I talked about or quoted Jesus. Jesus is the base of everything we believe, right? How many times in church is the name "Jesus" never said or our savior never quoted in a sermon? Think about it, and I bet you'll find that it is more than you imagined. How many times in your small group, Bible study, or Sunday school class do we study Romans, Ephesians, Isaiah, or Psalms? Again, not that there is anything wrong with those books, but how many times do we study the life of our Savior? To an outsider who knows nothing about our faith, it would seem as if Jesus is simply a side note to the bigger story. HE IS THE STORY!
Some of you reading this may be disagreeing with me on some level. I am not trying to say that we shouldn't study all scripture. I am simply stating that all scripture points to Jesus, which is something we miss quite frequently. Even Paul, the writer of those letters that we study so fervently, says in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." The chapter goes on to say that we speak a message of wisdom to the mature, so I am not saying that we should stop studying other scripture. But this passage tells me that even Paul, one of the most well read people in the Bible, understands that the most important topic a Christian should talk about is Jesus.
Without Jesus, Abraham is nothing. Without Jesus, Paul is nothing. Without Jesus, I am nothing. Without Jesus, you are nothing.
Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Don't let Jesus be an afterthought.
What if we treated evangelism as an emergency? How would the way we interact with others change? How would our daily lives change? How would we change?
I began pondering this today as I was watching our Child to Camp video that will be shown tomorrow, March 21st at our Child to Camp Celebration at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church at 7 (shameless plug for our event). The song in the video is "Tears of the Saints" by Leeland, which if you haven't heard it I will put a link to it, because the message is life changing. The lyric that really gives me a sense of urgency says, "There are many prodigal sons, on our city streets they run, searching for shelter. There are homes broken down, people's hopes have fallen to the ground, from failures. This is an emergency!"
This idea of lost people's situation being an emergency is an odd but critically important concept to grasp. Romans 10:14 gives us an insight into why people must hear the Gospel from God's children: "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" And then in Matthew 9:37, Jesus says,"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."
If you can understand the urgency of evangelism, you have two choices. First, you could simply say, "I don't care." The only other choice is to say, "I am going to do something about this." In an emergency situation there are those who stand and watch, and the heroes who do something. Many times there is nothing special about these "heroes." They are normal people who decide to do something about an urgent need. I ask today that you wold be one of these heroes.
Knowing that people will only believe if told (Romans 10:14), and that there are many who would trust in the Lord but only a few who will tell (Matt. 9:37), how could this change our lives? There are people that would put their faith in the Lord, but there is no one to tell them. What will you do about that? There are people hurting and without hope. What will you do about that? There are people who have lost faith in God and His Church. What will you do about that? There are people dying in our world who have never gotten the chance to hear the Gospel. What will you do about that? I am not asking these questions rhetorically. If you have an idea on how to reach the lost, please post it in the comments and I would love to help in any way I can. As a camp family, let's make a conscious decision to reach the lost and be heroes. This is an emergency. Father, we will lead them home.
Episode 3: The Captive
In episode three of Carter and Ian vs. the Future, our heroes make friendship agreement to not tell the cyborgs anything. However, Ian breaks their promise and betrays Carter. Carter decides that their friendship is more important than that and decides to forgive Ian.
This is a valuable lesson that we all should consider. Many times in our lives our friends and those around us will do things that will make us sad or angry. As Christians, we are called to forgive. The Bible says in Matthew 18:21-22, "Then Peter came to Jesus and said, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus tells us this to let us know that we should always be forgiving, not matter what our friends, family, or others do.
Am I Crazy?
Abraham is one of my favorite characters in scripture. I sometimes think about him as some superhuman who is almost an ethereal creature, or perhaps a man just below the status of Jesus. In other words, unattainable Godliness in human form. However, when I read the accounts of the life of Abraham, I realize he is just a normal man in whom God chooses to do a great work, and he obediently follows. When it comes down to it, Abraham really doesn't do anything all that special. He simply says "Yes" when God asks him to do something.
Many times in my life I have found myself trying to figure out what my life is meant for. I spend hours in scripture, prayer, and simple thought about what I am supposed to do with my life. I sometimes get frustrated because I feel that I am willing to serve, yet God doesn't have a direction for me. And then I look at the life of Abraham. Abraham, or Abram, was not called by God until he was 75 years old. We don't really know anything about the time before this in his life. I suppose Abram was probably following the Lord diligently, but God had a bigger calling for him later in his life. God had a purpose for this, because if he and his wife would have been younger, the miracle of the birth of Isaac would not be near as incredible. This helps me understand that God's timing is infinitely better than my timing.
More importantly to me, however, is looking at how readily Abraham simply replies "Yes" to the requests of God. Abraham doesn't spend long hours weighing options. He doesn't test the waters before he dives in. He doesn't really even do much that has an effect on a large group of people in his lifetime. He simply says "Yes" when God calls him.
I wish I could have the simple faith that Abraham has. Not the kind of faith that asks "How" and "When" and "Why," but the kind of faith that says "Yes."
Abraham is nothing special. Actually, when it comes down to it, I probably know more scripture and have studied the Word more than Abraham. Where Abraham excels, however, is in his ability to simply trust God. Sometimes trusting God seems like the worst idea possible. Remove the fact that it is a story from the Bible, but if you heard about someone who was going to sacrifice their child because God told them to, you would assume that person is crazy. Many times following God seems crazy. Most times when you follow God, people around you, even those closest to you (or maybe even your own wife, in Abraham's case), will tell you that you are crazy for doing so. However, if we as Christians can resolve to stop asking "Why" and "When" and "How" and simply say "Yes," we will finally know what it means to live a life of faith.
Am I crazy for following God? Possibly. Am I foolish for following God? Hebrews 11 tells me otherwise.
Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
If we as Christians can start to live like this, asylums just may become the new Church buildings. So be it.
In episode two our heroes, Carter and Ian, think they have found a way to go back to the past to clean up their mess. Alan tells them the combination to a safe that contains crystals that the time machine needs to work. However, the guys decide it would be a better idea to just blow up the safe and get the crystals their way. Because they do this, they are captured and delivered into the hands of the dreaded king of the Cyborgs: Cynthia!
In Psalms 3:5-6 the Bible teaches us a lesson about thinking we know better. These verses say, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." These verses tell us that it is always better to follow what God tells us, because he knows everything.
Sometimes we think we know better than God, but God always has the best plan.
The Power of Prayer
Many times we have heard of the power of prayer. We've heard it from scripture, our pastors, our Sunday School teachers, our grandmothers, and many others. However, sometimes it seems like, to me at least, I am talking into nothingness. However, there are those times in our lives when God miraculously and very obviously answers a prayer, and we are able to firsthand see the power of prayer. We see in Genesis 18 where Abraham seemingly changes God's mind. I don't know if God changes his mind because of what we say or do, but we see that God cared enough about Abraham to listen to what he had to say.
Yet still, even when God shows up in a powerful way in my life through an answered prayer, I continue to forget the importance of it. I feel this is why the children of Israel were constantly turning from God, because God knew I would do the same, yet he still loves me. Many times, even when I am consistently bringing my concerns and thanks to God, I feel as though I don't know what to pray for. God gives us an amazing promise in Romans 8:26-27 concerning this matter: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."
Because we know the power of prayer, we need not forget to pray for what is important to us. God wants to hear what we have to say, just as he wanted to hear what Abraham had to say. Therefore, this week let us commit to praying for camp. This week at camp we have a mission team here from Rome, Georgia. They are working on making camp ready for the summer. Sometimes for mission teams such as this, it can be hard to see the bigger picture since they have never been here when campers are here. Pray that they will continue to work hard and be able to see that they are doing the work of the Lord. Also, be praying for the staff and volunteers that are here year round, that we can keep focused on the goal of camp, which is bringing people closer to the Lord. Second, begin praying for our counselors and staff that are here during the summer. Pray that they will be prayerfully considering working at camp, and making sure that camp is where God wants them. Also be praying for their spiritual growth and maturity as they are preparing for the summer. Last, be praying for the campers that are coming this summer. Be praying that God will prepare their hearts for what they need to hear this summer. Also, be praying for Child to Camp, that we will bring in enough funds so that every child who wants to come but cannot afford to will be able to attend.
God knows exactly what we need and when we need it, so take heart in knowing that the Spirit is constantly interceding for us to the Father.
In this episode we see Alan give Carter and Ian a specific order to clean the dining hall. However, they decide they don't like cleaning and go as far away from cleaning as they possibly can. When they decide to see what Melvin is working on instead of cleaning, they end up trapped in the FUTURE!
Does anyone remember someone from the Bible who was in this same kind of situation? Hopefully you have heard of a man in the Bible named Jonah. You can read the story of Jonah by turning in your Bible to the Book of Jonah. God gives Jonah a very specific job: to go bring God's Word to the people of Nineveh. However, Jonah doesn't like the people of Nineveh, so he decides to try to go as far away from his problems as he can. When he does this, God sends a huge fish to swallow him up.
Sometimes in our lives God tells us to do something, and sometimes doing what God tells us to do is not fun and we may even dislike it. However, God tells us to do things like this because He knows what is best for us. So if you read in the Bible that God is telling you to honor your parents, even if you don't want to or don't agree with it, we are supposed to follow God's commands because He knows what is best.
This week in school, in your homes, and with your friends, make sure to listen to what God wants to tell you. Sometimes when you pray, God will tell you that He wants you to do something, and it is always in our best interest to obey the call of God.