Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why I Love Church Camp

For many years I was a dean at church camp.  I did kid's camps and teen camps and lead in various capacities of leadership: worship, speaking, directing, spiritual formation, etc.  I know of no other work that I have done through the years that has yielded a greater harvest for the Kingdom of God than church camp.  Decisions were made at camp that changed lives forever.

Those 5 days of focused spiritual growth can define a spiritual journey.  And that's just for the faculty and staff!  For the campers it is even more significant.  The growing up years are so impressionable, and the impact of a powerful week of camp can serve as one of those defining moments in life.

It was a Thursday night at church camp when I yielded my will and gave my heart to Jesus.  I remember it vividly.  It was at an outdoor chapel area at Camp Sooner in Pink, Oklahoma.  The chapel speaker was Paul Crosby and the sermon he spoke that night literally broke my heart for the Lord.  I felt like he was talking to me.  I wept.  I was deeply moved.  I felt God's presence for the first time in my life and my relationship with my Savior began.  The whole week of camp built up to that moment for me.  All of the classes and scripture, the activities and times with family groups.  God had been speaking and preparing my heart all week.  I remember making the walk in the dark from the chapel area all the way over to cabin #2, where the Oakwood boys called home for the week.  I was walking with friends who were like blood-brothers in Christ.  We were talking about how overwhelmed we were by God's grace and love.  I was changed forever.  I would have been baptized that night in that camp pool, but my mom and dad wanted to see their first child be baptized, so I waited till I got home for my baptism.  I'm forever grateful for that week of camp.

Statistics say that a week of church camp is like a year of Sunday School.  A week at church camp exposes our kids to a lot of scripture.  You and I know that God's Word changes lives, so we know that exposure is so important.  The church camp environment is set up to affect spiritual awareness and change in attenders, whether they have placed faith in Christ or whether they are contemplating that decision for the first time.  The opportunities at church camp are just amazing!  We need to get our kids "unplugged" from the social media, gaming, and phones for a week so they can hear God again.  Trust me, they won't get bored at camp, but they will find their mind's attention and their heart's affection turned more toward the things of God.

Little known fact, but Christian churches were the pioneers of the church camp idea and model.  The church camp idea started in the late 1800's.  Other denominations knew a good idea when they saw it and followed suit.  With more and more teens getting jobs today and being overactivitied, there are fewer and fewer attending camps.  Numbers today remain strong for the younger kids, but trail off for those getting ready to leave home and embark in life on their own.  I wish it were not so.  I know of no other venue that sets the table for life like a good week of church camp.

So, camp season is almost upon us.  There are many opportunities for you and your kids to be involved.  When you are asked to go as a sponsor or volunteer for a week, to teach or serve in some capacity, do not hesitate.  God moves in incredible ways at church camp.  And the life change you experience...may be your own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Missionary Update

This is an update that I just received from Paul and Mary Wilson, our missionaries to the Philippines.  Please be in prayer for them as they walk through this time.  Reminds me that Satan is alive and well around the world.  Just like He tries to divide us here in our churches, he also tries to divide in the Philippines as well.  Let's really take this before the Lord and pray that His desires would prevail in this situation.  Thanks for your prayer support for Paul and Mary.

Dear Eric,

Please ask the elders and church to really keep us in prayer the next couple weeks.
There is a growing conflict in one the churches, lots of ill will, talking to lawyers, and
things like that are happening.  I am trying to encourage calmness and patience currently
and will try going there next week again.  

There are also other challenges happening; conventions, camps, VBS, two construction projects and lots of things.

Yesterday was the burial our most respected leader here in the central Philippines, Ronito Lisas.

I lost a close friend and a fellow worker.

We could use your special prayers! We need God’s wisdom.

In His service,

Paul and Mary Wilson

Monday, April 16, 2012

Christ's Physical Suffering

I've had many a person inquire as to what exactly happened the day that Jesus died.  What did he suffer?  What were the physical things that were happening to Him and His body.  I hope that you will be amazed at what Jesus suffered for our sin that Friday.

The Beating
-Jesus' robe was removed to expose bare skin and He is tied to a pole.
-He is beaten with a leather whip with metal, rock, and bone in it designed to shred skin and muscles, open huge wounds on His back, chest and legs.
-Jesus is swollen, bruised, and losing blood.
-His body is going into shock from pain and blood loss
-Jesus is nearing the hospital classification of critical condition

Dead Man Walking
-Jesus is forced to carry the 75-100 lb. crossbeam of the cross through the streets of Jerusalem to the execution site.
-He is too weak to finish the journey.
-Jesus watches as the crossbeam is nailed to the vertical pole.

-Nails 5 to 7 inches long are driven through Jesus' wrists and feet into the cross, putting pressure on the median nerves.
-Every breath is now excruciating as Jesus pushes up to get some air.
-Raw, bleeding tissue on His back rubs against the rough wood of the cross.
-Carbon dioxide builds up in Jesus' lungs and bloodstream as He struggles to breathe.
-Jesus' muscles cramp from fatigue and lack of oxygen.

Breath of Life
-Jesus' tortured lungs struggle to get small gulps of air.
-Every time He pushes up to exhale, deep, crushing pain radiates from Jesus' chest.
-The sack around Jesus' heart, the pericardium, slowly fills with serum from damaged tissues and begins to crush His heart.
-Jesus' heart struggles to pump heavy, thick blood to the tissues.
-Loss of fluids reaches a critical level.
-After 3 hours on the cross, already weak from blood loss and shock, Jesus allows His body to die.
-Cause of death: a heart wall ruptured from severe heart attack or a combination of blood loss and respiratory failure.

-Soldiers drive a spear into Jesus' side to confirm His death.
-By this time, shock has separated the blood into cell clusters and amber-colored serum.
-"Water" seems to pour out of Jesus' side when He is speared, but it is actually serum from inside and around His heart.

Remember that everything He suffered He did for us.  We are the ones that deserve this punishment for our sins.  But Jesus took it on for us freely because of His great love for us, even though He never sinned.  Praise the Lord for His great love!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever felt as though your friends and family had abandoned you? Have you ever felt like you were misunderstood? Have you ever had a hard time understanding or submitting to the will of God for your life?
If so, then you have an idea of what the Lord Jesus went through as He agonized at Gethsemane.

Hebrews tells us, "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it" (4:15–16 NLT).

The Bible tells us that Jesus was "a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief" (Isaiah 53:3 NLT). But the sorrow He experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion seemed to be the culmination of all the sorrow He had ever known and would accelerate to a climax the following day. The ultimate triumph that was to take place at Calvary was first accomplished beneath the gnarled old olive trees of Gethsemane.

It is interesting that the very word Gethsemane means "olive press." Olives were pressed there to make oil, and truly, Jesus was being pressed from all sides that He might bring life to us. I don't think we can even begin to fathom what He was going through.

But look at what it accomplished. It brought about your salvation and mine. Because of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane and ultimately at the cross, we can call upon His name. Though it was an unfathomably painful, horrific transition, it was necessary for the ultimate goal of what was accomplished.

Maybe you are at a crisis point in your life right now—a personal Gethsemane, if you will. You have your will; you know what you want. Yet you can sense that God's will is different.

Would you let the Lord choose for you? Would you be willing to say, "Lord, I am submitting my will to Yours. Not my will, but yours be done"? You will never regret making that decision.