Friday, August 30, 2013

looking beyond yesterday

My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.
Then I thought: My future is lost, as well as my hope from the Lord.
Remember my affliction and my homelessness, the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young.
Let him sit alone and be silent, for God has disciplined him.
Let him put his mouth in the dust - perhaps there is still hope.
Let him offer his cheek to the one who would strike him; let him be filled with shame.
For the Lord will not reject us forever. Even if He causes suffering, 
He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love.
Lamentations 3:17-32

Yesterdays can have a serious affect on our todays...our tomorrows.  
As I read this passage in Lamentations last night, though, I was reminded that my hope does not lie in the events of life:  the things I have or have not done...the things I do or do not do.  
My hope lies in a Heavenly Father who gives me breath for each day and grace to look beyond yesterday.
Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:1-5

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sightseeing, GraceWorks in Alaska Style

Sightsee day in Portage...may be the same route, but it is always different. 
Seeing the expressions of the first-timers and hearing what say about what they are seeing is worth going back...over and over and over again.
Alaska is beautiful. No doubt about it.
However...
If it were all about the beauty, I would take a cruise.
Going to Alaska summer after summer is about the people who need Jesus.  It is about the people who love Jesus.  It is about the people who come to serve Jesus in the amazing state of Alaska.
I have met life-long friends these past six summers.  Someone new each time.  Different states, different places in life, but lifers we will be after meeting while serving God in Alaska.
There's something special about the Last Frontier...no matter how many times you visit.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

one for the memory books

This week at camp has been amazing.  God has shown up and shown off...and we have one more day to go! The kids are opening up and letting their reservations go.  We are physically tired, but spiritually we are alive and kicking.  The worship tonight around the campfire was icing on the cake of a spectacular day.  
Do not think that we have not had our fair share of challenges this week.  Satan has tried to get us caught off guard at times with problems that require time and attention, but never anything with the campers.  They have been great!  And, God's plan always wins out...His perfect plan.
Weeks on end...months, years maybe...this week will be on my heart as a one in a million camp experience.  
Words are not even going to come close to describe how I feel about this week...what all I/we have seen God do this week...how 17 campers and 8 staff can all take over a small part of your heart...how much fun (pure, simple fun!) we have all enjoyed together...how blessed I feel to be given the opportunity by God to experience this...I can go on, but will stop for now.
When You did awesome works
that we did not expect,
You came down,
and the mountains quaked at Your presence.
From ancient times no one has heard,
no one has listened,
no eye has seen any God except You,
who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.
Isaiah 64:3-4
God is God...and He is good!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

i am blessed

Someone asked me today how many years I have been involved with Bible Memory. It all began back in 1987...as a camper. In 1988, I counseled for the first time. In just a few years we are looking at 30 years. I am blessed. I wouldn't trade my experiences during BMC for anything! God has been...is...and will always be good. So busy today, I didn't take any photos...but I am sweating so much I don't want to carry my phone in my pocket, either. :) Maybe tomorrow. As for now, let me rest in knowing we had a wonderful day. A day where God was glorified, kids had fun, and all here were blessed.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

all because

There are times when God totally blows my mind with how well He can orchestrate an event and bring together a group of people to make something great and awesome and fun happen!
Today is one of those days!
First day of Bible Memory Camp is in the books and it was awesome!
We have...
Had so much fun.
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Been enlightened by the teaching of God's Word.
Challenged to be a missionary wherever our feet take us.
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Shot arrows and bb's at targets.
Played games together.
Made new friends.
Been reacquainted with old friends.
Swam in almost too warm of water.
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Fought noodle wars.
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Played in the sand.
Heard a story of how God uses the events of our lives that we sometimes don't understand (or make a mess of ourselves) to accomplish His will in the end in spite of it all.  All for His glory.
Enjoyed the company of 25 other people all here for the same purpose of getting to know God better, hear His voice, and having tons of fun doing it!
And, so much more...
All because He loves us so much.

come expecting

Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. And a man who was lame from birth was carried there and placed every day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex.
When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.”
So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them.
But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
Acts 3:1-8
How many times can one do something before it becomes routine?  common?  ordinary?
I am not for sure of the answer, but I know one thing:  every time I am able to come to Bible Memory Camp, I know God will show up.
If He is seen is up to each individual.
I was reminded tonight during staff worship to come, expecting God.
Tonight, I find myself wanting more than God's blessing upon our camp.  I want Him...His presence like never before among us.
Ordinary just will not do.

Friday, August 2, 2013

desperate for grace

"My children, I will be with you only a little longer.  You will look for Me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come."...
Simon Peter asked Him, "Lord, where are You going?"
Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."
Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow You now?  I will lay down my life for You."
Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for Me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!"
John 13:33, 36-38
Can anyone else relate to Peter?  
So devoted.  So determined.  So living out loud.
Peter had already gone through the whole washing of the feet scene with Jesus.  Now Peter finds himself again in the hot seat, getting the record set straight by Jesus.
We mean it when we say it.  We want to follow our words with action.  For awhile, it actually happens.
Then the temptation comes.  We stand up against it, knowing our determination is more than enough to fight it off, when really we should be fleeing the scene.
Whether it is pride holding us there or, perhaps, selfishness, there we stand thinking that we have what it takes to prove that this whatever is not going to get the best of us.
Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
"You are not one of His disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter.
He replied, "I am not."
John 18:15-17
Strike one!
You regroup.  Caught off guard, you tell yourself.  That pull was a little more powerful than expected, but you know what to expect now.  No problem.  Still have the determination to stand there and fight against it.
Fleeing is not an option in your mind, because what would that prove?
Weakness.
As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of His disciples, are you?"
He denied it, saying, "I am not."
John 18:25
Strike two!
Now it is getting personal.  It is becoming a matter of your pride now.  You cannot back down now.  Others will know your weakness.  Surely, the battle is almost over...you can brush off the dust and stand against it a little while longer.
What is that saying?  Pride comes before what?
Oh, yes.
Now I remember.
A fall.
One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with Him in the olive grove?"
Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
John 18:26-27
Strike three!
You have blown it.
You know it.  Others know it.
Guilty as charged.
In desperate need of grace.
Defeat.  Embarrassment.  Anger.  Sadness.
The list could go on...and does.
Humbleness.  Confession.  Repentance.  Forgiveness.
Again, the list could go on...and does.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do your truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time He said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, "Do you love me?"  He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
John 21: 15-17
In the midst of our defeat, knowing full well we deserve absolutely nothing because of our sinfulness, Jesus extends forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9
He took care of our sin on the cross.  This has not taken Him by surprise.  He is there for us as we pick ourselves up and try to figure out how to go on from here...still desperate for grace, more dependent upon His strength, and very deliberate in our next steps.