Zooming In on Your Walk with God

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0539.JPGSometimes the whole idea of pursuing God or knowing God can feel too big and overwhelmingly vague that we quit before we really get started. Even when we are doing what we are “supposed to” be doing, we can feel far away from God.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0540.JPGIn case you’ve felt the struggle, our staff understands and we have a heart to walk along with you and to zoom the lens in a bit more in your understanding and growth so you can experience a close-up, vibrant walk with the Lord.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0542.JPGBecause even while God may feel far away or this vibrant life you hear about may feel just out of your grasp, God actually does see you and know you and desire to be close to you.

Whisper Mountain High Ropes Camper.jpgHe wants you to know His presence in the midst of your struggle. He wants you to know His love in personal ways that light you up in the deepest parts of your soul.

Whisper Mountain Camp High Ropes WalkHe wants you to know the balance He can bring to your life. He wants to redeem whatever mess you are in and heal whatever brokenness you carry with you. He wants to direct your path where you will flourish. He wants you to know Him so personally that you can’t help but make Him known to others!

Whisper Mountain Solo Time in the WordAnd it all begins by interacting with Him through His Word!

We say all this to let you know that our staff is pretty excited (and thankful) about being more intentional with encouraging and leading you through weekly blogs and monthly YouTube videos throughout the year! We can’t wait to see how God is working in your lives and to share how He’s working in ours!

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or struggles you’re having or to share how you are experiencing God in your life! We sincerely want to share in the journey with you!


Author | Cassi Werner      Photography | Ethan + Adrienne + Cassi

what should I do?

Foggy treesIn this wonderful, cold season we are often prompted with a lot of questions that determine our life choices: what college should I attend after High School? Who should I hang out with? Should I date this person I like? How am I supposed to get along with this person I don’t like? What am I supposed to do with my life? I don’t know about you, but I could use some wisdom in my life. Let’s see if James (Jesus’ brother) can offer us some advice on how to renew our minds:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 ]

Snowman + on her kneesIt’s just that simple- get on your knees, get in God’s Word and ask for wisdom! I asked God for wisdom at 16 and started off reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I am not Buddha, Gandhi, or King Solomon; I have, however, had God blow my mind with his wisdom because He is so good. Ask, and you shall receive!

You may be wondering what it looks like to have God’s wisdom. James, our expert on wisdom, tells us:

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace –loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” [ James 4:17 ]

There you have it! Surrender yourself to God and ask him to help you renew your mind and He will make you into the kind, wise person you were created to be!

BONUS challenge: Commit to reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. A proverb a day keeps the enemy’s lies away!

Peace and grace to you,

James

|Author >> James| ^^ |Photography >> Cassi|

missing the bar

Hey everybody! James here. You are still fully surrendered like you were this summer, right? You’re still in the word and prayer all the time, and you’re in authentic community right? Things are going almost perfectly, and you are at the top of your spiritual game right? (Cynical laugh) If you are like most of us, the answer to one or all of these is “no.”

Hilton head FeetSomewhere along the way we all “miss the bar” spiritually, emotionally, socially, and so on. We all fail. We all hurt others, and we all hurt ourselves. I am convinced that the biggest danger to Christians today is not temptation but the guilt and shame that come from sin. All too often, we will mess up. We repent, turning towards Christ. But for some reason we cannot seem to forgive ourselves as Christ has forgiven us. This guilt and shame perpetuates more fear, more hiding, and more sin.  There are so many Christians who let their guilt and shame turn into self-hatred, and not grasping God’s grace fully, allow their self-hatred to fester and grow. I have been one of them without even realizing it. Does this ring a bell to you? If so, grab your bible and lean into God’s truth with me: 

Level

  1. We are commanded to view ourselves accurately. First and foremost, in Romans 12:3 we are told, “do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” One thing The Lord has shown me recently is I have a tendency to view myself as unworthy, and so I overcompensate by acting prideful. Whether we think we are the coolest thing since sliced cheese, or we are always downing ourselves, neither reflects the way Christ sees us; both can be dangerous to our spiritual, emotional health.
  2. Your Self-Hatred Affects Others. There is so much I could say about this, but all I will note is this: you will never be the person God has created you to be, and you will never love other people the way God has called you to unless you love yourself.  In other words, the “golden rule” of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31) cannot be followed well if you treat yourself like garbage.
  3. Holding Resentment Towards Yourself is a Vicious Cycle. I messed up, therefore I feel bad. I feel bad, therefore I need to do something to feel better. I do what makes me feel better (sin). I feel worse than I did before.It is a horrible pattern that most of us are not aware of when it happens. On the flip side, it is when we finally acknowledge the bitterness we have and surrender it to Christ (Romans 12:1) that we allow Christ to do the healing in us he promised. 

So do yourself a favor and forgive your worst enemy- you! Talk to a trusted friend, a pastor or a mentor. Break the sin-cycle you are trapped in and let Jesus shine through you!

Peace and Grace to you,

James

|Author >> James| ^^ |Photography >> Jamie|

Contagious Exuberlation

Hey dear friends!

Exuberlation-Guys-JumpI come to you with pure excitement in sharing my love of discipleship with you all! That’s the theme of today’s post: (holy cow happy + heaped to overflowing =) EXUBERLATION.

Guys-on-the-DockHave you ever been so excited and overjoyed about something that you just HAD to share it with people that you love? Maybe it was receiving an A on an exam that you studied hours for. Or maybe it was getting that job that you’ve been praying and hoping for. Did you get a puppy?! Possibly you finally had a day filled with rays of sunshine when it seemed like nothing but storm clouds have been following you around for days. In those moments when you feel like you’re jumping out of your skin with exhilaration (for some, it’ll look more composed by wearing a bright, lit-up smile; others like me, a physical jump and spin-around is something you can’t help but do) you just can’t deny the feeling of sharing it with someone. It’s in our nature- we’re meant to connect with people!

Girls-on-the-DockWhen’s the last time you shared your excitement and love for Jesus with someone? In God’s Word, John, an honored man who was actually able to spend time with Jesus, writes in his letter, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” – 1 John 1:3-4.

WOW. John was saying that he is so pumped up about Jesus that he wants to share what he has seen and heard about Jesus Christ in order to fulfill his feeling of excitement and joy about Him (WE could say John had a case of EXUBERLATION!)

This is the premise of discipleship, friends, beautifully said by Pastor Francis Chan: “It’s one person, so in love with God, and when that one person starts obeying the things of God they start seeing life change-They can’t help but start telling their friends about it.”

Frank-and-Chaz-Skipping-RocksIn other words, GET EXCITED about your relationship with Jesus, about what He has been doing in your life, and simply, what He did for you on the cross. SHARE what he has been doing with your friends. In doing this, you are spreading and speaking the glorious gospel that He desires us to share. You are growing followers of Jesus. You are making disciples.

So now I’ll leave you with a similar question: When’s the next time you’re going to share your excitement (exuberlation) and love for Jesus with someone?

|Author >> Chelsea| ^^ |Photography >> Jamie + Cassi| ^^ |Featured Katangello Models >> Eli Goodpaster, Frank Cline, Ethan Ramsey, Chaz Whaley, Kinsley, Tori Moody|

3 ways to keep the flame bright

Hey young people!!

Keep-the-Fire-GoingBy now most of you are back to school and in a normal routine. I want to wish each and every one of you a great school year! As I have also returned to school myself there is one question I keep asking: how do I keep the fire or the “camp high” going?

Seth-and-jamesPersonally, it’s very easy to get busy with schoolwork + friends that I slowly but surely allow my flame to dwindle. When you don’t spend every day in an atmosphere where you are constantly surrounded by fellow Christians who want the same exact thing as you, it is easy to allow your flame from camp to be extinguished.

If this is you right now, does it make you any less of a Christian? Absolutely, NOT!! Jesus loves you right where you are at this very second. He doesn’t love some future or better version of yourself more than He loves you now. Jesus loves you as if you were the only person He created. The crazy thing is that He does that for ALL of us.

Keep-your-Flame-BurningSo with that in mind I want to offer 3 ways to help keep your flame burning bright for Jesus.

5-stones-Middle-schoolers-at-Whisper-Mountain1)   Community - Community in the Christian life is vital. When God made Adam he saw he was lonely and needed a companion so he created Eve. We were made for companionship and community!! Otherwise, God would have left Adam to hang out with all the animals.

Girls-crowdIf you are not in a small group or some sort of gathering where you can go and just do life with other people, I would personally offer that you find one. If there isn’t one at your church and you want this, you can always start your own! Go for it!! God loves when His people gather together to talk about life and Him.

2)   Listen to the Word - If you go to church weekly but you find yourself wanting to hear more of the word, that’s GREAT! I like to get Podcasts of some well-known pastors and listen to what they have to say. This is a great tool to utilize.

Hilton-Head-Solo-Time-at-Whisper-Mountain3)   GET in the WordDaily quiet + alone time with God is the most crucial and fundamental part to keep your fire burning bright. Just like you did at camp. It doesn’t mean you have to get up at 4 am and spend 3 hours praying and reading. If 30 minutes is all you can seem to do right now, that’s awesome! I promise you God LOVES those 30 minutes He gets to hang out with His Beloved child. 

I love you all!
In Christ,

Seth McClure

|Author >> Seth| ^^ |Photography >> Jamie + Charley| ^^ |Featured Groups >> 5 Stones Middle School + Hilton Head + Gateway|

about that following God thing

"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." – Dallas Willard

 vrsly pauseThere is a desperate need for stillness in life. One thing I have noticed is that I am a much better person when not in a rush. It is easier to follow God when you hear from him, and much easier to hear from him when you stop and listen.

Solo timeLet's look at two ways to "be still" as our Father intends us to (Psalm 46:10)!

1. Spend More Time With God, More Consistently.

You may or may not have just rolled your eyes. "Duh! I already get up 30 minutes early to pray…" Or maybe you thought, "I don't have time for that right now." Let me encourage you with this thought: you don't have enough time not to spend more time with God! Theologian Martin Luther understood this very well, saying, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." We are too busy to waste time, but no time with God is wasted. Don't spend any time in the morning praying or reading the bible? Good- start tomorrow! Don't spend more than a few minutes? Good- your Heavenly Father is always looking to spend more time with you!

Vrsly emergency2. Make the Most of Your Time With God.

I have been so guilty of rushing through morning devotion: get up, read a few verses, say a prayer or two, leave. I say from experience that it is so easy to miss what God has for you this way. Perhaps you don't spend much time with God because you get bored sitting still. That's OK! If you find yourself going through the motions, change up your routine. Go for a walk, or listen to some worship music. Read a book that moves you; do whatever you need to do to get into God's presence where your strivings cease.

Recently, I have started reading "Soul Keeping" by John Ortberg; I realized that my time with Jesus is much better when I read a book that gets me to think carefully about my spiritual life. What gets you into God's presence best may be different from what gets me there. So take your time, experiment, and see what he has in store for you!

|Author >> James| ^^ |Photography >> Charley| ^^ |Graphics >> Vrsly , get the app!|