Monday, June 15, 2015

Centrifuge Youth Camp: A re-cap

#1 The last time I went to youth camp was the year 2000...I was a counselor that year.
#2 Going back as a youth leader this year was an eye-opening experience...different, to say the least.

Centrifuge Camp 2015


Prep:

All of us leaders were assigned a night to lead church group devotions, so I spent a little time preparing for this. 
The lessons were based on the theme for the camp, which was "Alive and Free," and the scripture used was the book of James.
Good materials to work with, so the planning was easy.

IV and I usually teach the 10th and 11th grade life group at our church so I used the Sunday before camp to prepare the students who were coming to camp for the theme of the week. 
I was suppose to teach from 1 John that day, and the Lord planned it just right because
1 John 1:3 says, 
"...indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete."
This point, that our joy is complete in Christ, was the perfect opening for a week of learning what it means to be "Alive and Free."

That night I sent a message to our youth leader's wife and asked for the low-down on how to survive a week of camp, because one thing I have learned is this:
"Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory" (Proverbs 11:14). 
I wanted victory! And she delivered with some very valuable information and extremely useful tips!  So thankful!

I then packed my bag, made sure King packed his, and on Monday morning we loaded ourselves into a big OLD red and white bus, and set off for North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina.
Woohoo!


Opening Day:

We arrive and enter our home for the week.  I was immediately taken back to my years at Bryan College.  The dorms were almost identical and so much of the atmosphere at NGU reminded me of Bryan.  This was a good thing.
Me, stretched out in my dorm room.

I was suppose to do the group devotion on the first night of camp, so I opened my bag to find the notes I'd prepared, and found only that I hadn't packed them at all. 
Oh well...I had a new idea anyway.

The leader guide we were given told me to tell the kids to "be themselves" at camp instead of trying to fit it and the first thing that came to mind was,
"Do these kids even know who they are?" 
The Scripture that followed that thought was the one that says,
"...everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin" (John 8:34). 
Kind of a downer when you're trying to help the youth find out who they are, but the next two verses bring it into light...
"35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:35-36). 
This is what I wanted to tell the students.

Too bad the camp pastor (Erik Reed, who did an awesome job) had the same idea.   (I thought he'd be teaching from James!  And he did...later.) 
However, the message he delivered just before my devotional was entirely based on these verses. 
Once again, oh well...it actually set me up nicely to continue the point. 

I told the students that my hope and prayer for them was that they would come to Jesus as their source of joy and freedom and that they would be able to continue to live "Alive and Free" by staying in His word:

"31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free'” (John 8:31-32). 

I wanted them to know that abiding in His word meant obeying His commandments:

"10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full" (John 15:10-11).

And that they could do this by showing love to one another...I wanted them to know that they don't have to be slaves to sin, but that they could be friends of God!:

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another (John 15:12-17).

Anyway, that's everything that I tried to say to them.  Then we played a game. :)
Later, I asked King how I did, and he said, "You did okay, but you said 'uh and um' too much."  Thanks son.  Probably true. 

By the end of this first day I was prematurely exhausted...I'd already had to use my "mean Mommy voice" once and the teen drama seemed to be bubbling up around me like tiny hot volcanos.  I was a little scared of the rest of the week. 


Day 1:

Not too bad, either that or I've already blocked it all out. :) 
I did attend my first "Interpretive Sign" class at the request of one student. 
I thought I had put my days of doing sign language to song behind me with our last performance of "Arise, My Love" from my days in the youth group, but I think the Lord was just poking fun at me at this point.

King, 2nd day, same shirt, new hat.
Just FYI...King's shower status: 
Me: "King, you wore that shirt yesterday."
King: {shrugs} 


Day 2:

A blur.
We did go to "Frankie's Fun Park," which honestly sounded dreadful to me, but was actually just as the name suggests...FUN! 
The same girl who wanted me to go to interpretive sign class also didn't want to ride the go-carts alone.  Let's just say I passed nearly everyone on the track....oh yeah, that's some skill. :)

King's shower status:
Edward (our amazingly awesome youth pastor) tells me that after everyone settled down to sleep King got back up and said he forgot to take a shower.  Better late than never!


Day 3:

By this time I'd come appreciate the "Interpretive Sign" class...it came to mind that for the deaf (or Deaf...I did learn there's a difference in "big D" or "little d" deaf) communities that this is the only way they can worship God in song.  This gave the whole thing a much greater purpose to me.

**This day ended with an opening of the floodgates for many of the youth.  Great things were shared and great connections were made.  Most importantly, many of them were starting to see that they had been slaves to sin, and they were eager for this freedom and joy from the Lord that they were hearing about.** 

King's shower status:
Deemed unnecessary, I suppose.

Me, hiding out at the nearby Einstein's Bagels
with the other leaders.


Day 4:

The last full day.
A blur...exhaustion was really setting in.

King's shower status:
I was so tired I forgot to notice or ask.


Day 5:

**One of the students I had especially been praying would find her joy in Christ came up to me and said, "I really have found my joy this week...I feel lighter.  I thought my faith was as strong as it would get for me at this age, but I realize I've been kind of dead...I feel alive." 
And then I added, "And free? Heehee."**

**But really, this (and the other students who were saved or seriously rededicated their lives to God) made every bit of this nitty-gritty, painfully emotional, almost sleepless, body odor infused week worth every single minute.**

My "Interpretive Sign" class then wowed the crowd with our performance to "Alive" by Hillsong...and I messed up...a lot.  But we did it.

After this, we headed home.  Everyone was a little edgy and a lot tired, but spirits were still high nonetheless.

King's shower status:
Me:  Did you take a shower last night?
King:  No, but I took one on Tuesday.  (aka Day 2)
Me:  Just make sure you reapply deodorant.


Conclusion:

Victory! 
It was an unforgettable week. 
  • The Centrifuge camp model is A+, and the Lord really put all the pieces together for us to have a great experience. 
  • Erik Reed, the camp pastor, brought the students to the Word in a way they could understand. 
  • The worship band, Fourfold, delivered high quality music that was full of energy yet did so in a subdued manner so as not to be distracting. 
  • Every Fuge staff member I met seemed to be living the theme:


So...that brings us to the one remaining question:

Do I dare to return next year???

If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:15

We shall see.

{Update: Read the 2016 post here}

Friday, June 5, 2015

Where is God?: notes to myself (part 3)

Where is God?:
notes to myself


Sometimes He seems to hide, but there's always an answer to every cry.

Psalm 10:1
1 Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

He hears us.
 
Psalm 10:17-18
17 O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear
18 To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.

Lamentation 3:44
44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud So that no prayer can pass through.

Do not fear!
 
Lamentations 3:56-57
You have heard my voice,
Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief,
From my cry for help.”
57 You drew near when I called on You;
You said, “Do not fear!”

Isaiah 45:15
15 Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior!

Turn to Him...be saved.
 
Isaiah 45:22
22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.



Acts 17:24-25
24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

 
Seek Him.
 
Acts 17:26-27a
26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.

He is near.
 
Acts 17:27b-28
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’"