Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Do you ever feel like you don’t belong? Like you’re marching to a different beat than the people around you? Well there may be a reason for that, but it’s not because you’re crazy. 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Dear friends, you are aliens and strangers on this earth…” The reason you don’t fit in is because this world is not your home. You have been born again in the Spirit, so you don’t fit into the world’s mold.

This is the foundation of our theme for Summer Camp 2010. The theme is ALIENS, and the focus of our teaching will be to show campers how and why they can live differently from the rest of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That’s what we want to teach the campers—that God can transform them into a new person by changing the way they think.

The theme will be lots of fun with alien puppets, space suits, alien costumes and skits, and outer space decorations. Of course, we’ll also have the usual camp activities like hiking, swimming, boating, rock climbing, field games, crafts and sports. But the most important thing is that these campers will learn that they don’t have to live like the rest of the world. They’ve been called to something greater.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ziplining in the Rain

It never ceases to amaze me how much a group can change in just a few hours. I’ve led hundreds of them through our ropes course over the years, but last weekend we hosted a group of boys who really exemplified what the ropes course is all about. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Those boys were like a living object lesson of that truth.

The day started on the low ropes course with some teambuilding activities. The boys were zealous, but quickly grew frustrated with each other. Despite having beautiful weather for the activities, arguing and bickering rapidly took over. It seemed everyone had a different idea on how things should be done, and no one wanted to do it the same way. As the activities progressed, however, they began to cooperate with each other and to respect one another’s ideas.

As their teamwork grew, so did their perseverance. Later in the morning, when we moved onto the high ropes course, the weather changed. The bright sun disappeared behind thick clouds and the temperature dropped rapidly. An hour later the rain started. I looked around at the boys to see how they would respond and was pleased to see that their determination never wavered. One by one, they all went down our 300-foot zip line with the rain pelting their cold faces. In the end they cheered for one another, exchanged high-fives, and hustled over to the cafeteria to enjoy their lunch.

As I watched them leave I realized how much their group cohesiveness had improved even as the weather had turned bad. In this I saw the truth that difficult circumstances build character, and I realized that God was using this experience to mold these young lives into the image of his Son.

We work so hard at avoiding pain and trials, but as O.A. has said, “Every testimony begins with a test.” If you feel that you are going through some testing right now, find hope in the assurance that God is working it for good, and in the end, you’ll have a testimony to share about how He brought you through it.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mountain Climbing

I remember the first time I climbed a mountain. I was 15 years old. Growing up in Florida, the tallest thing I had climbed was a pile of sand. But, when I was 15, I spent my summer at a camp in Colorado called Uplift Mountain. My first week there, one of my new friends and I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Herring. It wasn’t the tallest mountain around, but it was an unforgettable experience.

The hike was long and tough. My legs were aching, and my lungs were gasping for oxygen in the thin air at 9,000 feet above sea level. We had to stop several times to catch our breath and quench our parched throats.

As we neared the peak, however, my excitement grew. I couldn’t wait to get to the top and look back to see how far I’d come. The sense of accomplishment was already building within me. I was so proud of myself.

But the moment I reached that peak, my plan of looking back disappeared. I completely forgot about what was behind me. I forgot about my aching legs and my overworked lungs. I forgot about measuring my accomplishment and feeling proud of myself.

All I could do was stare in awe at what lay on the other side of the mountain. It was the most amazing view I had ever seen. I would try to describe it to you, but there’s no way I could do it justice. I just sat and stared, blinking only when absolutely necessary.

Time flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to go back down. You might think that I would be disappointed, but I wasn’t. The fact is, I couldn’t wait to get back down. I wanted to tell everyone back at Camp what I had seen.

And I did.

That was just the first of what would become many trips up Mt. Herring for me. Now, almost 20 years later, I’ve had many mountain experiences, but none quite like that first one.

Here at South Mountain Christian Camp, we get the opportunity to see many people undergo a “mountain experience.” Sometimes this comes by physically climbing to the top of the mountain here, but even more often, it is a spiritual experience that comes from just being in God’s presence here on the Camp.

Just like my experience on Mt. Herring, these people forget about their problems and pain. They forget about their accomplishments and their pride. They forget all about what is behind them, and they just bask in the love of God. And when their time on the mountain is over, they don’t go home bitter or resentful. They go home excited to tell everyone there all about what they experienced on the mountain.