Monday, July 29, 2013

Placerville Camp: Crossroads 2013

Picture of Lake Pactola
We are just leaving after spending
the afternoon swimming.
I had the pleasure of spending June 14th-20th with 4 of our youth at Placerville Camp. It was a week full of fun, sweat, God, and friends. We spent time with our family groups, lots of eating, hiking up to beautiful views, and swimming at Lake Pactola. I got the honor of performing minor toe surgery for an ingrown toenail (Thanks John. I hope it is healing), playing bite the bag, and making friendship bracelets.

Camp was a place where I grew up going to. My camp was vastly different however. Camp of the Cross is located in Garrison, ND on the flat prairie. A long hike there was most noted by the climb down to the water. Swimming was one of the best parts of the day on Lake Sakakawea. I started going in Kindergarten and kept going until my Sophmore year of high school. I then went back as a full-time summer counselor for two summers during college. Camp was always a place where my faith was put in an incubator, tended, and stretched. By then time I left my second summer of counseling, I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically. Camp had become a place of burden, spiritual warfare, and spiritual loneliness. I am not saying that Camp of the Cross is a place that is these things, but for me (after 15 years) it had become these things.

I was a little wary of going to camp now as an adult, and as a pastor. Would it be the same? Would it be different? Would I enjoy it? Would it be a place where my faith could grow, or would I find myself spiritually lonely?

Parkston Campers and Me Together

What did I find? A "New" Thing

The Theme for the camp was "All Things New: Look What God is Doing!"

Crazy Family Times

I stepped in last minute as a counselor for this camp. They were short, and I was planning to be there.  I was willing, but I was completely nervous. I arrived as everyone was already starting dinner. I couldn't leave Parkston until after the Sunday Service which put me three hours behind everyone else.

My Awesome "Co" Counselor for the week.
Del has a very realistic 70s impression.
Sometimes I wonder if it isn't from experience.

We spent the whole week in families where I was in charge of 5-6 girls and 6-7 boys during the week. Our number fluctuated throughout the time there due to a broken ankle (ultimate frisbee is dangerous) and busy schedules. I had a fabulous "co-" counselor named Del from Belle Fouche. We spent the next few days really diving in to what God is doing, and how God is creating.

Some of the highlights of the week I've listed before, but for me there were even better things. I enjoyed evening vespers, prayer chapel, and our prayer partners. I think this time was something wonderful as we gathered to worship God.

Since leaving Jamestown College, I haven't had the opportunity to play more than 3 songs with a band. At camp, I got to be part of the Praise Band and play for an hour 2 of the nights. It was a great time of singing, dancing, and playing guitar. It really felt good to be part of a group of people playing music for God, and certainly looking like a fool at times.
Sarah Jane and her Son Mihretu

I also got to meet a friend, SaraJane (and her husband Micah), who seems to be a soul sister. Our lives were each weaved into unique tapestries. While each of our stories is different, they have very reflective qualities. Of Jonathan and David it was described that their "souls were tied together." By the end of the week SaraJane's soul and my soul have wound themselves together in a unique way. I pray that this friendship would blossom through God's divine plan and purpose.

Camp has been redeemed. I long for the days of Camp of the Cross again, but know they will never come. For now, I get to enjoy the beauty that is Placerville Camp. I can't wait to go back next year.

God certainly is doing something new.

Sermon: New Clothes

Sermon from Sunday, July 28, 2013
Scripture: Colossians 3:1-17

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ReBlog: 5 Ways to be Unsatisfied with Your Church

You can find the article that I have been pondering the last 24 hours here:
5 Ways to be Unsatisfied with Your Church

What are your thoughts?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Oh, No!

Yesterday I woke up with a sense of "Oh, No!" No I didn't forget something as far as I know. I was "Oh, No"ing because God was telling me that the next few sermons I had planned were not what He has planned for Salem UCC. These next month's sermons were going to lead into a series starting this fall covering the principle beliefs of the UCC. We are going to take a look at piece by piece what the UCC believes about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, worship, doctrinal freedom, authority of scriptures, etc. It isn't that this series isn't important for our church, but there may be something more important for right now (perhaps this Spring).

So here is the question that has been pestering me for the last month that will give shape to the next few months at Salem UCC: "Why do WE gather in THIS PLACE on Sunday mornings?

I have spent the last two days studying scripture, praying, and reading a lot of articles and books. I have also been trying to decide where to go for the rest of the summer because I don't want to start a series in the middle of summer when it is something people should hear.

So I ask you to study this question with me over the next month. "Why do WE gather in THIS PLACE on Sunday mornings?" What is the whole point? Perhaps we will begin to meet on Sunday morning with a purpose, with a direction, and with a plan.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sermon: That Everyone Would Confess

Sermon from June 30th
Scripture Philippians 2:1-11

Beyond Jealousy

From the Henri Nouwen Society's Daily Devotion 7-6-13

Beyond Jealousy

Jealousy arises easily in our hearts.  In the parable of the prodigal son, the elder son is jealous that his younger brother gets such a royal welcome even though he and his loose women swallowed up his father's property (Luke 15:30).  And in the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, the workers who worked the whole day are jealous that those who came at the eleventh hour receive the same pay as they did  (see Matthew 20:1-16).   But the Father says to the older son:  "You are with me always and all I have is yours" (Luke 15:31).  And the landowner says:  "Why should you be envious because I am generous?" (Matthew 20:15).

When we truly enjoy God's unlimited generosity, we will be grateful for what our brothers and sisters receive.  Jealousy will simply have no place in our hearts.

How Not to Make Disciples

I found this clip through a network I am a part of. Enjoy this as I prepare a few more posts for the week:

How Not To Make Disciples

What do you look like as a disciple?