When a person makes a decision for Christ, he or she also makes a decision to turn away from the world, to Go Rogue.
I wanna talk about a different point of view, the point of me. I was a half-in, half-out Christian living in Godly moments and then slipping back into my worldly and fleshy behaviors. I had gone rogue on God, not rogue with Him. I was “lukewarm” and constantly felt torn between who I wanted to be and who the Lord wanted me to be.
This summer, Jesus pried my sin-filled eyes open, helping me see my sinful nature and just how much I needed to change. He helped me see the need to stay away from temptations and use His tools to remove stumbling blocks from my path. I realized what it meant to go fully, totally, completely rogue for the One who made me. I want to show Jesus that I want His will for my life and that I love Him. That I didn’t/don’t want a worldly lifestyle, I want Him. I find it difficult to leave a whole life behind, especially when the enemy is always dragging me down, making me believe I need certain things when they have no use. This causes me to lose focus and every one of my priorities shifts. Reading my Bible slides down to the bottom, praying feels like a chore, speaking becomes less and less edifying, and eventually I don’t even know what it means to be a Christian. Slipping so many times makes it easy to give up.
That’s the thing though, I gave up. God didn’t. I was sure that God was done with me, tired of my habitual sin and one apology after another… He wasn’t. Now don’t get me wrong He was for sure tired of the sin, but not me. He had/has a plan for me, He gave me a job at this camp called Whisper Mountain. He surrounded me with these Godly people who did not judge me for having sin. Instead, they encouraged me to confess it, to no longer allow it to hold power over me. To not let it hold me back. They texted me daily and told me to read my Bible. I felt comfortable asking for prayer about whatever I was going through, and they reciprocated. God used these people to teach me how to Go Rogue for God not from God. They taught me how to live out my faith, to study the Word, and to pray without ceasing. For all these things I am eternally grateful to God and them.
Having said all this, my question to you is simple, yet hard to swallow. Have you gone rouge from the world, or have you gone rouge from God? I made the wrong decision, but praise the Lord, I was able to run back to Him.
Welp, with one week left I’m looking back at the lessons I have learned throughout the summer. One that slaps me in the face every day is we cannot go it alone. Before this job, I did not have a Christian community. I didn’t have a church family. I didn’t have those people my age I could really connect with over my faith. Now I do and will be eternally grateful. But the one person I had through all the “not having” was Jesus. He never left me through my times of struggle or sin. He was there. All I had to do was reach out and take his hand.
The most recent parallel I have is high ropes. An old family friend (Seth McClure) came with one of the groups this week. While taking pictures, I got the bright idea to attempt the “Dangling Duo” with him as my other half. We start on the bottom step of a ladder that gets farther and farther apart. I would get up to the next one while he helped me, then he would get up. Eventually, we got to the final step, and I just could not do it by myself. I had to put him up first in order for him to pull me. You see, it’s a great example for life. If you put God second things are going to be a lot harder, but if you put Him first life is so much easier. Not to say it still wasn’t difficult for me, because everyone goes through trials, yet when you have the strength of the Lord pulling you upward those trials become less scary.
The second example I have is about a young girl who came to camp this week. She went through the high ropes course and came to me afterwards saying, “I knew it (the tether) would catch me because I fell a million times and didn’t die.” Out of the mouths of children come the most beautiful messages. We fall “a million times” when trying to walk the Christian wire. It’s narrow and tough at times, but we can never fall out of His grace…
In life we all have different strengths, it has been said 1000 times over. Yet, I think this saying is most present during Low Ropes. You combine about 25 young men and women and challenge them with the task of getting over a 10-foot wall. The best part is when they’re told that everyone must make it over. The short (but super smart) 12-year-old in the back sighs, thinking he will be useless in this situation, and the 6-foot senior knows he can climb up and not worry about anyone else. The thing is they are both wrong.
You see, everyone gets two “helps,” meaning they can help lift, pull, or push someone else two times. The guy in the back begins to count how many there are and starts to devise a strategy in his head, but is drowned out by the loud ones of the group. The tall one, in the chaos of everyone planning, runs on up saying, “I’ve got this,” not thinking about the rest of the team below.
Then it gets worse. Smaller groups begin to branch off and form their own plans (which is not how this exercise should work). They forget the rest of the team needs their “helps” to make sure everyone can get over. But wait, it gets even worse. About 15 people have gotten over the wall, but they didn’t help the 10 shorter folks at the bottom. And they don’t have the tools nor “helps” to get themselves over. So, the entire team has to restart.
Everyone is in despair, looking for a way to beat this. The smart guy in the back finally finds the courage to speak up; the loud one repeats it for him; and the entire team is then on board with his plan. The tall and stronger ones help those who cannot get up by themselves, and the girl that can jump super high gets up top to help pull. Eventually the team conquers the wall, but only by listening and utilizing one another’s strengths, while also being aware of their weaknesses.
The world is full of different people: leaders, listeners, planners; the strong, the smart, the fast. We need to realize as Christian community, as the body of Christ, that everyone plays a role and brings something to the table. If we were able to do things by ourselves, why did God send his Son to die? Why did he make Eve for Adam? Why did He create the concept of brother/sisterhood? Because we cannot go it alone. We need to have a team of others pushing or pulling us up to a Godlier place…
Author & Photographer | Koda Moody Group Pictured | Southbrook Church
Noah Brown, a staff member of ours, was swimming in the lake recently. Seems uninteresting, right… wrong. Mr. Brown’s watch popped off his wrist and sank to the depths below. Panic set in as he began searching for the thing he lost. The parallels started to draw themselves. We, as Christians, can place distances between us and God, sometimes intentionally, other times accidentally. We lose our focus and allow our relationship with Jesus to fall away and sink beneath the sin.
However, the thing we forget is that He is still there, right beside us, still loving us even in our time of rebellion, waiting for us to dive a little deeper, to grasp on to His will once more. As others helped search for the watch in the shallower areas, it was Noah who had to take the plunge. He went deeper than anyone else around him and found the watch! He came back up to the surface, watch in hand and a joyful smile spread across his face.
Now this story could have had a completely different ending. Maybe yours did. Maybe you have it in your head that you have put too much distance between you and God. Maybe you think there is too much struggle to overcome. I’m here to tell you, NOTHING can separate you from the love God has for you (Romans 8:35-39). So, maybe there are some things you need to remove from your life; that’s everyone. We all can improve our relationships with the Almighty. Some things just take time, some more, others less. Yet, we all still must take that dive of faith, searching out and finding Him.
No matter what comes between you and Him, He is always there patiently waiting on you to just dive a little deeper…
Author & Photography | Koda Moody Groups Pictured | New City Middle School & Berry’s Grove
The first week of camp is a moment for reflection, at least in my opinion. We welcomed groups Berry’s Grove and New City’s Middle Schoolers on Monday, which is the day that is always interesting. You have these huge groups of kids come in that usually do not know the other group, they hardly know where they are, and they for sure don’t know who they are. So, as they settle in and familiarize with one another, they become more comfortable and vulnerable. They begin to trust one another in a short time while also begin to draw back the curtains of their lives, pain, and wounds. Yet their joy and passion shine through too.
What brought this to my attention was paintball. Of all things to inspire it had to be a game of war and battle. I watched kids duck and run for cover while they fired back at the opposing force. One by one they came out covered in dirt, sweat, and obviously paint. Some of the kids more roughed up than others, but each one was going through the struggle. It’s scary how much this relates to life. We go through life constantly running and jumping and trying not to get hit in the process from every angle. It’s not always possible to dodge the incoming heartache and we collect up wounds as we go. However, the worst part is when we then hide the damage behind walls we so carefully create.
Yet some wounds or scars (depending on how long ago the pain was) are just too big to hide. People can see or even feel them. They try to help but they only pick at self-healed edges, and it rips open all over again. The key term there is “self-healed” and they never fully close until you allow one individual to fully stitch you up. Jesus. You must let His love and His forgiveness flow through you freely. Trust him to erase the pain and be there for you if it ever comes back. From personal experience, you will heal if you take these actions. It is going to hurt and take time, but you will come out the other side a stronger, better person who can help others on their path to restoration. You can be the already vulnerable kid at the beginning of the week that helps your whole cabin get to the place you are…
Thanks for a great first week, Campers!
Author | Koda Moody Photography | Koda Moody and Cassi Groups | New City Middle School & Berry’s Grove Youth
Welp, our summer staffers have arrived. All ten of ’em got here last Monday June 30th. As we waited (a little impatiently on my part), our first staff Noah Brown gassed it up our treacherously bumpy hill, he made it and was received with a warm embrace. The other eight made there way to us, and we proceeded to all wait for that very last one. The group began to mingle with everyone learning names and faces, where they had traveled from, and little tid bits from their lives. I found it so interesting that there was no awkwardness present, everyone was welcoming and interested in their newly met friends. About an hour passed from the first arriving to the very last, Maddie Wheeler (a.k.a. wheels). She completed the group adding up to the total ten.
Noah Brown– A second year returning staff came all the way from Fort Myers where he as has lived for his entire life. He is most excited to be “meeting and building relationships with new campers, and getting to see the ones I met last year”. His hobbies are “hammocking” (that’s how he spelled it lol), long boarding and music. His favorite food is “Mac n’ Cheese” with a bear being his favorite animal. Last but not least his favorite verse is 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
Alex Davis – A third year returning staff, has lived in Bluffton, SC for the past 7 years. She is thrilled to “build relationships with the campers and to grow closer to God”. Her hobbies consist of drawing, reading and hanging with friends. She loves sky Blue and chicken alfredo. She also loves bears like Noah. Her favorite verse is Philippians 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”.
Mady Faulkner – (a.k.a. Mad Dog, I will explain why later on)- You see Mad Dog was recruited by Alex whom she went to college with. She has lived in Fort Lawn, South Carolina for the past 7 years. She is most excited “to be able to connect with many campers and be able to share the gospel.” She is also excited to spend the summer with other college students who are passionate about Christ.” Touching in my opinion. Her favorite color is, and I quote, “sunshine yellow” (but also teal, we mustn’t forget teal). She loves to go horseback riding and reading, and her favorite verse is Psalms 96:3-4: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods”.
Lukas Richardson – Another one of our wonderful staff is also from Fort Myers, FL (hmmm) he has lived there for is entire life. He is excited about cabin time, which is where some of the best talks happen. A place where you can be vulnerable and let down the walls you have so carefully created. It’s a judgement free space. His favorite color is purple, and his fav food is chicken parmesan, he also loves golf and gaming. His favorite verse is Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”.
Brad Mitchell – Ol’e Brad has lived in Fort Myers for 5 years (interesting). He is thrilled to meet and make “connections with the new campers.” His hobbies are Baseball, Pickle Ball (whatever the heck that is), and of course Wii sports (the forever timeless video game). He loves the color red, pizza and penguins.
Halle Nygaard – Miss Halle is the most chill person you will ever meet. She has lived in Fort Myers (what is it with these people and Fort Myers?) for the past 11 years. She is most excited “to spend time with campers and hear the Spirit speak; she is also pumped to “be unplugged” (amen, sis). Her hobbies are singing, which she loves, as well as dance. She also has “recently gotten into pickle-ball (again, what the heck is that?). She added another hobby “oh and volley ball”. Her favorite color is “pastel yellow,” she loves sushi (same), and dolphins but also dogs (my inner cat person has passed away). Favorite verse is John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”.
Marcus Kester – Is the oldest of “the ten” coming in at a whopping 23. He is from Winter Park, FL “well, 10 minutes from there”, he clarifies. Kester is most excited “to bring campers an awesome camp experience and help them draw closer to God.” His hobbies are piano and singing and soccer. His favorite food is steak and his fav animal is a polar bear. Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Faith Dingle – This girlie lives in Waxhaw/Charlotte, NC; she has been there for about 10 years. Faith is most excited about “finding kids that are overlooked or talked over so I can minister to them and show them how loved they are.” (well put) Her hobbies are crochet (I have always wanted to play that), baking, painting, and knitting (would love a scarf, ma’am). Her fav color is yellow (seems to be a popular color), she likes lasagna (and that is pronounced Lah-Zag-Nah, have fun trying to say it correctly now). She loves cats and big birds (natural enemies). Matthew 10:34 is her favorite verse: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Carli Bell – Bells lives in (wait for it) Fort Myers (I can’t); she has lived there for ten years. She is most excited “to go from being a camper to a GIT [Guide In Training], and seeing how God uses me to make disciples.” Her hobbies are painting and spending time with friends. She loves the color blue, tacos, and sloths. Her verse is Psalm 118:5-7, “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies”.
Maddie Wheeler (a.k.a. Wheels, we had to give her and “Mad Dog” a nickname for the obvious reason). Wheels has lived in Charlotte, NC for 5 years (I was fixing to lose it if she said from Fort Myers, haha). She wants to “grow relationships with us (staff) and the campers, meeting them where they are, and coming along side them,” (what a beautiful thing to say). Her hobbies are hiking and camping (she lucked out with this opportunity), she likes kayaking (she can paddle me around on lake day 😉 ), and musical theater. She likes the color Aquamarine, a dish called Kabsa, and horses. Her favorite verse is Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
These are “the ten.” I ask you to pray that God reaches so many young people in these upcoming months, by using each and every one of our summer staff. Pray they have the wisdom, the strength, the stamina and the energy to continue the Lord’s work, not just for the summer, but for their whole lives… Thanks for reading, God bless.
On Tuesday night, I picked up a hiker’s backpack; heavy with stones. The stones had painted words: Gossip, lust, pride and murder… Other stones had social media apps painted on them; like Instagram, Snapchat and Tik-Tok. I took a shaky breath, and prepared for my last walk with these weights. It was hard picking up the backpack without making a noisy shuffle in the back of the camp’s chapel building: The Axis.
The stones I carried would act as talking points for a skit that night.
“Alright, time for my Life’s Journey!” I said, walking down the aisle of seats, with campers and staff on either side of me. My back was bent with the weight of the backpack. “I hope I packed enough. I think I have all the essentials!”
When I get to the stage, I meet one of the staff who plays the Guide for my Journey, Carlo Cicero. I tell him that I’ve packed everything I need for my journey; or at least I hope I did… The guide asks me to explain what I’ve packed. I take out a few items before the rocks come out, explaining why I need them.
“Well, you see, I’m the first starring female quarterback for my high school’s varsity football team… It’s kind of a big deal. I have to practice for at least three hours a day after school… I need to.”
I took out other objects, representing activities my character considered essential. Textbooks, signifying the need to please parents and the need to get into the best colleges there are. A dumbbell, representing the need to exercise and to maintain my appearance. A TV remote, signifying the need for Netflix binges. The rocks with social media apps painted on them, representing the need to keep up my internet presence.
Then, I took out heavier objects.
An empty beer bottle. An empty pill bottle. Rocks with sins painted on them: gossip, lust, pride…
I sought to portray the need for certain objects in my life that gave me a sense of identity. I needed to excel in so many things: football, drums, a social media presence, grades in school; so others would see me as excellent. My character carried these weights to maintain a sense of purpose.
Yet, it exasperated me. The backpack was heavy. I was weighted down. The weights ultimately couldn’t fulfill me.
The guide invited me to set it all aside. Let go of those things! They aren’t essential…
Another member on staff, Lucas Bloss, played a character who also embarked on his life’s journey; yet, his pack was different than mine.
He didn’t have one. Lucas walked to the stage with one thing: a singular loaf of bread. He started eating it, and explained that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
He didn’t carry any weights. He didn’t need a hiker’s pack like I did. The word of the Lord was enough for Lucas.
That was all he needed.
Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been praying that if God could use me to point just one student closer to Himself, that would make a whole summer of camp work worth it.
A.W Tozer wrote:
I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme [of the love of God] than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So, as I stretch my heart toward the high, shilling love of God, someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.
Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer
I don’t know the backgrounds of all of the students who come to Whisper Mountain; but what I do know is, they all need Jesus more than anything.
One camper who left a lasting impact on me struggled with identity issues. She found her identity in her looks; and when that couldn’t satisfy her, she turned to other things, such as extracurriculars and social status.
She felt empty and drained. I was able to sit with her after the skit a few weeks ago and ask her to read Psalm 139, which talks about how God has made her wonderfully made. He knows her, loves her, and has made her with purpose.
I told her that she can find confidence in her identity in Christ, by knowing who our God is and who He created her to be.
I got to pray with her and assure her that she is not here by accident, but by God’s plan. Freedom is found through the accomplishment of Jesus Christ and His love for her.
Jesus invites us to cast everything aside, to follow Him. We don’t need to carry any weights! Jesus takes it all, because He is enough.
Having conversations like that humbles and astonishes me. Why would God choose to use me, of all people, to share His goodness with others? Why would He use me to help build up His kingdom?
The apostle Paul writes:
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
I Timothy 1:15-16 NASB
Despite my own shortcomings, God still chose to use me, and my imperfect words.
He even chooses to use that little backpack skit to point campers to Himself. Through the work being done at Whisper Mountain, God has shown me new mercies every day that have come from choosing to serve Him.
Jesus died for me, so why should I not want to live for Him?
A few weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, there was an altar call after the evening service. Students from Southbrook Church in Charlotte, North Carolina were invited to sit at the foot of the cross and pray; asking God to help relieve them of any burdens, asking God to help them endure difficult situations, so they could be confident in resting their eyes upon Him. Nearly the entire camp, close to 60 students, responded and went to seek the Lord in prayer.
I found it difficult not to weep as I stood in the back of the Axis building, looking at all of the students who responded to the Word spoken.
If all of these students chose to kneel and pray; if they were all committed to serving Jesus Christ by giving up their lives as a living sacrifice as Romans 12:1 says, there will be massive revival in the Church. If each of those students steps up to serve or lead in whatever capacity, I imagine a chain-reaction happening. Others will be pointed to the work and person of Jesus Christ, others will accept the Gospel and then more leaders will be created for the work the Lord has commanded His followers to.
Through the teachings at Whisper Mountain: through personal devotional times, small group Bible studies, sermons each night and spiritual parallels tied with other camp activities, campers have been challenged to apply action to their faith. They learn the importance of spending time in Scripture, prayer, worship, evangelism and discipleship.
Mere belief in Jesus Christ provides salvation, but Jesus Christ is not truly honored until His people pursue Him and seek Him diligently.
Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee.
Psalm 51:12-13 NASB
The Psalmist implores the Lord to help him to delight in the work God has done, and to help him to have the desire to serve the Lord. It is in the joy of salvation and the desire of believers to serve the Lord that others may come to know Jesus personally.
The love of God extends far more than I could ever imagine. This love is radical, transforming, and awe-inspiring. People crave love, and as many turn to the pleasures of sin in an effort to experience love and fulfillment; no one truly knows what it is to live fulfilled unless they understand the person and work of Jesus Christ, and confess their need for a Savior.
Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that we could not live, and He died the death that we deserved. The mission that God has called us to in Matthew 28:18-19; to make disciples and to proclaim His Gospel, has become more important to me than ever since serving at camp. I am on a mission to live for Him and to proclaim His works, as a soldier on duty (refer to 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Whisper Mountain reflects and lives out this mission by its work centered on Christ. The camp is geared towards teaching upcoming generations about Him.
As I think back to all that the Lord has done this summer, I keep thinking about the skit and my heavy pack. I physically felt better once I set it down on the stage and let go of all that my character set her identity in; sports, school, people-pleasing… While I must strive to glorify and honor God in all that I do, I’ve learned the importance of letting go of the things that distract me from the mission the Lord has called me to: to worship Him and to tell others about what He has done for me.
Serving at Whisper Mountain taught me that God will use me if I let Him, but I must be willing and resolute in following Him in His mission to proclaim the Gospel.
If Jesus Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-2), then I can find strength in looking unto Him in the work He has given me.
I can rest in the knowledge of who Jesus is; the author and perfecter of my faith, who saved me and who seeks to save the world.
The first week of Whisper Mountain Camp from a counselor’s perspective. All camper names used in this article are false names, to preserve anonymity for the teens.
Last Thursday night, Whisper Mountain’s executive director, Marty Paul, preached to a group of 11 kids about the importance of placing their focus on God. “You have to live your life focused on the cross… That will sustain you,” Paul said. There was time after the message for the campers to pray silently. Counselors stood on the edges of the room, and campers were invited to ask counselors to pray with them. I sat on the right side of the stage, unsure if any campers would come to me. This was my first week counseling at Whisper Mountain; I had no idea what to expect. As I waited, I prayed, asking God to use me. “Let me minister to these campers, Oh Lord,” I prayed, “That you would make your abundant, awe-inspiring love known through me.” Little did I know that the campers would be ministering to me, instead.
One of the girls from my cabin came up to sit by me on the stage; nine-year-old Sadie. I asked her what I could be praying about for her. She asked me to pray for her family and for the bullying she endures at school to stop. She moved closer to me and laid her head on my shoulder while I prayed for her. We were in the “Axis” building: the chapel, at camp. Instrumental worship music played softly on the speakers. Most of the lights were off, and a weight lingered in the air. The weight pressed upon my thoughts, like humility pressing against pride, stifling any distractions that kept me from begging God, with all that I am, that He would keep this girl from her painful struggles and that she would seek to know Him more.
I opened my eyes after praying with her to see three more girls from my cabin around us; all sisters. I asked what I could also be praying about for them. “We just want to pray for Sadie,” Zulu said. The three girls laid their hands on Sadie’s back as I continued to pray for her. When I finished praying a second time, I told Sadie that she is loved: By God, by me, and by the three other girls around her. She gave me a hug and a smile, and we silently recognized together that the Holy Spirit was among us, drawing our hearts closer to God and to each other.
Campers have been encouraged to fix their eyes on Jesus; focusing on Him amidst trials in this life. They are given a four day devotional plan, centered around the week’s theme. After having scheduled time to be alone with Scripture and the devotional plan, the campers gather together with their cabins to discuss what they learned.
“Before I came to camp, I hated reading my Bible,” Colin, a fifth-grader said. “It felt like a chore to me. Now, I’m going to do it every single day.”
Campers this week have learned to delight in reading the Bible through the times they have spent alone in Scripture, in counselor-led devotional discussions, and in intentional prayer times.
There was a 14-year-old girl in my cabin, Gloria, who showed leadership qualities right away during cabin times. “I want to be so infused with the Word of God, that all I do is part of Him,” she said. She would talk fast and excitedly about the Gospel during cabin times; truly on fire for the Gospel. Gloria told me that she prays for God to use her as an example for her younger siblings, that they would come to have a stronger relationship with Jesus by seeing her leadership. She felt the burden to represent Christ to her family. Last week, campers at Whisper Mountain were taught that believers in Christ are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. We are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God; thus, we are no longer citizens of the world, but we belong to a home grander than we could ever imagine. Gloria felt the weight of this, and she recognized the godly influence she has on her family as she fixes her gaze upon Jesus Christ, representing Him in this world.
The camper I prayed with on Thursday night, Sadie, said she learned the importance of spending time reading her Bible rather than being distracted by her phone.
“Usually I’m always on my phone and I never read my Bible,” Sadie said. “Now, I really want to read my Bible because Jesus is really important to me.“
I have been humbled to see the affect of this camp in the lives of the campers this first week. As they connect spiritual applications to activities like paintball and dropping in a 30-foot-tall swing on a high ropes course, the campers begin to see a need for Jesus Christ all around them; not just at church on Sundays. In having focused time reading the Bible by themselves each morning, the campers realize they have a crucial need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The campers experience this truth at Whisper Mountain; they not only learn the importance of reading the Bible on their own, but they see how it impacts their lives and their friend’s lives. The four girls I prayed with last Thursday night knew the impact of prayer, as we grouped around Sadie, pleading to God on her behalf. The girls could only do that because they had a knowledge of Jesus Christ from Scripture. He is powerful. He is kind. He is good. He loves us and He listens to us.
Tim Keller wrote, “God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us where we are.” My prayer as this summer continues is that more campers would be moved by the power of Scripture, and by the person of Jesus Christ; that the campers would recognize that once we fix our gaze and set our lives on Jesus, He will not leave us as we are. He is in the process of making all things new, drawing us closer to Himself as His returning comes nearer at each moment.
Author | Katie Fogarty Photography | Adrienne Cicero + Cassi Werner Group | Community Bible Church of Highlands
As school is slowly winding down + the rest from Thanksgiving is wearing thin on our restless hearts yearning for the next break, our minds are starting to shift to the upcoming holiday: Christmas. Hearing the word brings glee + excitement, but I want to put focus on the main part of the word – the stem.
Pretty lights, trees, + presents get my attention every year, but these ingredients mix into a tempting appearance shifting my mindset from the truth. Every day we are focused on physical, material, + tangible things instead of the whole reason we are on this earth: Christ. Our minds are easily distracted from the One who created them, and set on our daily routines or challenges. We always somehow find a way (our way) to get the bills paid, gifts bought, or overcome obstacles. Every day we don’t realize the absolute need for God until we are at the breaking point. You know that point where you are on your knees and have finally come to the realization that you can’t do it on your own anymore? It’s true God uses those as turning points for us to look to Him and surrender, but we’re missing the point. It shouldn’t take misery for us to remember that Jesus is there for us, and it shouldn’t take a holiday to remember what Jesus did for us.
God calls us to love Him with a daily, hourly, minutely, secondly love. He wants our love for Him to overflow so much that it turns into an absolute necessity to survive. A necessity like how a deer pants for water–our souls should thirst for God. He wants us to WANT Him. He wants to captivate our hearts so our love for others stems from our love for Him. He places tests in our lives to see how we will handle them, and He may give you too much for you to handle only for you to realize He is the only one who can help you carry it.
But He wouldn’t have to do this–we wouldn’t have to suffer so much–if we would just fix our eyes on Him to begin with. God commands us to do this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.” (Luke 10:27). If we truly loved Him the way He commands, our lives wouldn’t resemble the common “It’s going good until I can’t handle something so that’s when I clasp my hands and pray for help” scenario. He wants our very first thought to be of Him when we encounter trials AND when we don’t.
God sent His son–Christ–to die for our sins. This is the reason we celebrate Christmas. He is the very beginning of the word for Pete’s sake! So this holiday season, set your heart + mind on the whole reason for the season: Jesus coming to the world, to not only die for us, but to live as an example for the world to strive to become daily. However, along with the cliché Christian “reason for the season” motto, think about this: Christmas isn’t the only time to focus on Jesus. My prayer for you is to not only focus on Him this Christmas, but that you wouldn’t stop after December 25th.
As the celebratory season of giving thanks and Jesus’ birth warmly embraces us this time of year, I’ve been prayerfully yearning a simple, powerful desire: Give me Jesus. My mind has been warpedwith a recent love of simplicity, and the truth is, learning the power behind it is anything but simple for my over-analytical brain to do. When one of my students falls out of her chair “accidentally” knocking over and spilling my coffee all over the place during a formal test, Lord, Give me Jesus [grace] When I drive to work 55 minutes late for being early, unknowingly forgetting my classroom keys and lunch but get to see the glory of His sunrise over a silent highway, Ah, Lord, Give me Jesus.[peace] When I am constantly being pounded down by hearing unrelenting bad news of family’s health issues, day after day, Just give me Jesus. [power]
All of these daily common circumstances are always bringing me back to the simple reality ofneeding Jesus, simply because of who He is. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” What is the truth? The truth is Jesus. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the most compassionate, loving, gracious, peace-giving, powerful, and faithful man who ever walked this earth. He faithfully took on our ugly sins, shameful regrets, and broken pieces. He washed us clean, forgot our past, and wholly put us back together on the cross that He died on. The truth is, in everything that we say and do, we are to do our humanly best to become the truth, to become Jesus, even when it seems impossibly complicated to achieve.
What does this have to do with discipleship?Everything. We can claim and proclaim all about Jesus as much as we want so people hear us and so we are doing our “active duty” as an obedient disciple of His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), but if we are telling the truth without being the truth, nothing we say will be heard. Sometimes we try to dig so deeply into the Word to try and extract truths to gain more knowledge, all the while missing the simplest truth. Sometimes we simply read the Word because we know we should, all the while missing the simplest truth. It’s so simple: Just get Jesus. An aspiring theologian, avid disciple maker, and one of my best brothers in Christ told me this one day: “There is a big difference in knowing something and becoming it. I think it’s a problem with Christianity. We become consumed in our rational and intellectual pursuits of God instead of simply allowing Him to change us into that which reflects Him the most.”
With all of this in mind, I have a simple question for you: Truthfully, what are you doing with knowing the truth?