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.
A great part of camp ministry is seeing pieces of people’s process: the struggle, the resistance, the doubt; the freedom, the hope, the faith. Such a view only grows our adoration of God and His astounding grace and patience with us as people.
Last week, we had the privilege of welcoming two different churches. Each with leaders who have both been campers at Whisper Mountain Camp, who have both been part of our summer staff team, and who now both serve as youth pastors who bring teens to camp. I’m sorry, but that’s just beautiful, isn’t it? Walking with people through the long haul, through all the different growing seasons, brings such depth to life.
Serving these groups and their leaders (Hayden and Seth) was a privilege as we strive to build up the community of disciples they are growing.
Thank you Calvary and The Orchard for spending your camp week with us! Keep chasing the things of God. Keep impacting your community for God’s glory!
Author | Cassi Photography | Koda Moody & Cassi Groups | The Orchard Church & Calvary Road Baptist Church
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…
We welcomed the second round of Southbrook Church last week, with much the same sort of experience (as their first week) of well-invested-in teens getting away to Whisper Mountain Camp to be challenged in deeper ways and to grow stronger within community.
We may not have seen all scores of teens coming to Jesus for the first time, but what we did see was scores of teens being confronted with the opportunity to leave their complacent, American Christianity behind to walk in a deep, intimate, counter-cultural relationship with Jesus that actually involves the power of God in their lives. We saw teens accept the challenge to cling to truth, abandon the ways of the world and go rogue in their faith.
This, friends, is the deep power of camp — when life change comes in many forms, but each time with an intimate encounter with Jesus.
Seeing teens come to Jesus in surrender, braving the telling of their stories, opening more to Him and in return to each other, praying for each other and encouraging one another — it brings a viewer to tears because that’s the power of God at camp.
Seeing Southbrook Church encounter God was beautiful. Seeing our staff pour out like a fragrant aroma through the intentional connections and leading with sensitivity was beautiful. God is doing a great work here at camp this summer and we are encouraged to keep going.
Southbrook, you are a church filled with passion, intention and humility. May Jesus continue to be glorified in your midst.
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
Last week we saw the first round of Southbrook Church from Charlotte. These teens are well poured into at their church and being discipled so well by Dan and the other leaders serving with him. When one camper says the highlight of her week was “definitely all the worship,” something good is happening. But when we had multiple teens saying the same thing…phew, a love of God is obviously being nurtured among this group. (Nevermind how humble and beautiful our worship team is!) One of their leaders said, ” I loved seeing the kids open up to the Lord in new ways.”
Continuing to pour into them throughout the camp week was a privilege for our staff. A camper said, “The staff here is unlike anywhere else. Everyone is so kind and in just five days I deeply connected with so many of them. I deeply appreciated all the opportunities to connect with people.” Having an encouraging atmosphere with intentional connections and using purposeful adventure to bring spiritual application to the fun activities helps to make their connections with each other and the Lord more impactful.
Each week, we take the teens to the lake for the pure enjoyment of the outdoors and fellowship with each other, but also for the occasional baptism. Does it not move you when you see teens praying over each other and celebrating someone choosing Jesus? Ah man, so moving. Perhaps one of the best experiences of the Spirit of God bringing about the bond of unity among the family of God.
Just in case you feel like the world is going to pot quicker than anything good can be done, let us be a voice of hope. We see teens coming to camp each week, experiencing God in powerful ways and reminding us God is still moving, working, and accomplishing His plan. He’s still the same powerful, all-knowing, good God He’s always been.
Southbrook Church, continue to walk-awake with Jesus. You are a light on a hill — Children of Light. You are a people set aside for His glory. Thanks for spending your camp week with us at Whisper Mountain Camp!
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
New City High Schoolers were eager to get off the bus and start their week of camp! Our staff met their energy and upped that ante to help make last week’s camp week completely wonderful in many ways. Those who didn’t want to come at the start told us they were so glad they had come by the end.
Many of last week’s campers have been coming since middle school began. Seeing these campers grow from year to year has been a privilege because we get to see glimpses of their process and God working throughout this vital season in their lives. Someone that may have been super difficult to work with has found their stride now and offers much to the community. Someone who may struggle with deep, dark things has taken baby steps forward and taken some new ground. Those with questions, wrestling with hard things, or floundering in their faith have discovered a newness in their walk with Christ. There’s something special about having intentional connections with those who come to us.
Here are a few things campers said about their week at Whisper Mountain Camp: “Staff is very encouraging , funny, supportive, good with all ages, and LOVE riddles. Each leader is an inspiration to someone at camp.“
“I feel incredibly loved when I’m here.“
“I have been struggling to pray and now I am again.“
“I felt very cared for and it was such a genuine environment.“
“The highlight of my week was community.”
Thanks for coming New City! We hope you continue to be children of light back home!
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.