English Camp Evening Message Transcript: Day One

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Sunday: One God

Hello English Camp 2015! I am so excited for you guys to be here and for me to be here and I am THRILLED that I get the chance to speak to you this week! I love getting to know the German and other Americans and talk about our similarities and differences, and ultimately about the MOST important thing in life and that is our God.

As you know, I’ll be speaking to you each night of camp this week, expounding on the theme of the day. During my night sessions this week there are 2 English phrases that I am going to start saying that requires a response that I want YOU to finish. The first one I’ll say after I read a passage of Scripture. I’ll say, “this is the Word of the Lord” and then you respond (in English) “thanks be to God”. He didn’t HAVE to give us this Book-but He did and that’s awesome! Okay? So I’ll read a couple verses and when I’m done I proclaim that what I just read is literally, actually FROM GOD and I’ll say “this is the word of the Lord” and you say “thanks be to God” okay. Let’s try it!

Great! Okay, the other little American phrase thing I like to do is when I finish praying sometimes ,I like to say, “And all God’s people said” and then everyone who is a Christian and who agrees with what I prayed says “AMEN”. Amen actually means “let it be so”. So by saying “Amen” at the end of a prayer you are agreeing and saying that you want what their prayer asked to happen too. So repeat after me

God, thank you so much for being a loving God who wants people to know and love you. Thank you for etc. etc. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. And all God’s people said, AMEN”

Amen, thanks guys! Love that.

The interesting thing is that, you know in the US, we have lots of camps and Christian camps as well-and you know what—it’s the same thing there. Teenagers in the US are the same way. Many don’t believe in him, many don’t really think or care about him, and many love Him and realize he is the MOST important thing in life. So it’s kind of neat, as I interact with you guys—you’re the same as the students I interact with at home, they just so happen to many miles away.

So in my few years of coming here, I have met hundreds of campers, and I’ve found that you (just like American campers) usually fall into one of three categories. You either 1.) don’t care about God or the Bible-but want to (or have to!) improve your English, so you come, 2.) You think God is ehh, like you aren’t for OR against Him-he’s not a big deal to you-you just come here because you want to learn English, have fun, and Christians are nice and good people, so why not hang out with them? Or 3.) the third group are those of you who are passionate about Jesus Christ and the Bible and you want to get to know him EVERY chance you get-and it’s THE BEST PART OF YOUR SUMMER to come here and interact with other Christians your age and learn about God and you LOVE IT! So that’s the three groups I think I’m talking to this week. Concering God you either, group 1-Don’t Believe, group 2- Don’t know/don’t care, or group 3-you LOVE him. Take a minute and think about what God you are in group one, group two, or group three…

It doesn’t matter what group you are in. I am so glad that ALL of you are here and I believe that God has a reason for each of you being here. God has a purpose for your week at camp and I am excited to find out what it is.

But I am so glad that I am here talking to you guys. I have been praying, and have many other people praying for my words, and your hearts. These next few nights that I am going to be able to talk with you students are VERY, VERY important and serious to me. And it’s really important to me that ya’ll listen. Each night this week I am going to try my very best to explain to you some very, very important things about life and Christianity, and I want you pay attention because this isn’t just important information to me. It’s not that you have to know these facts to pass a test, or to impress someone with all of your knowledge, or anything like that. The stuff that we will talk and learn about this week are the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE.

Are you guys familiar with the term YOLO. Canadian rapper DRAKE came up with that acronym is 2011 and it is really popular within the American youth culture. Who can tell me what YOLO stands for? Give examples of YOLO…That’s right “you only live once” and it’s this idea that you have ONE life on this earth, and live it up! Now, I think that is very true. Students, you only have ONE life on this earth. ONE. Isn’t it important to figure out what you are supposed to do with your life? Does it have a purpose? A meaning? And even more, does anything happen to me after I die? If you truly only have ONE life to live, don’t you want it to count for something?

We are going to start the week proclaiming the truth that there is a God and that there is ONLY ONE GOD. That’s the theme for today: ONE GOD. And that God, that creator of the galaxies and the mountain rangers, that sustainer of our lives and designer of our personalities is in fact the God of the Christian Bible. We are going to unpack this truth, and hopefully by the power of the Holy Spirit you will see that this truth should change your lives.

If you have your Bibles with you, please turn to 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 and read along with me.

“4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”

So we see here that there is ONLY ONE GOD. That makes sense, right? But how do we know WHO this ONE God is, and what he is like, and what his purposes are? Well, fortunately for us-God has revealed himself to mankind in the Bible. The Bible is a book all about God and his relationship with the people he created. It tells us what He is like, His personality, what makes him laugh, what makes him cry, and what lengths He is willing to go to for the people he loves. The Bible is made up of 66 different little books. They were written by various authors-under the influence of the Holy Spirit, spanning about 1,500 hundred years. There is some poetry, some history, some love stories, war stories, and some but they ALL are pieces of one giant, beautiful, PERFECT, puzzle that is God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy are all throughout the pages of the something confusing and complicated old, but perfect and amazing Holy Book.

It really is astounding that all the books coincide as seamlessly as they do. Do you guys have pets over here? We have lots of pets in America. I have friends that own Dogs, Cats, Fish, Ferretts, Hedhogs, Horses, Turtles, Goats, etc. Think about it. I want this half of the room to stand up. That’s probably around 66 people. Now if I told all of them to go, right something about a topic, like…say…Pets! And then I put it all together in a book and published it—it would be CRAZY. Some of you might agree and some things, but there would be so many different opinions like, Dogs Drool and Cats Rule, or horses are the best by far, blah blah blah. But the Bible-remember about 40 different human authors, 1,500 hundred years, 66 different books, and they ALL AGREE on what the ONE TRUE GOD is like.

They say over and over again in each book in different ways that God is WISE, He is

Faithful

Loving

All-knowing

Sovereign

Holy

JUST, GRACIOUS, MERCIFUL and MANY other wonderful things!

It is so neat! God’s faithfulness is seen in Joseph’s life in Exodus, in Solomon’s life in Ecclesiasts, and in Peter’s life in 1 and 2 Peter. Moses talks about God’s love in Exodus, and then David describes that same love in Psalms and then Paul says the SAME thing in Romans. Then God’s sovereigny is perfectly displayed in Esther one way, perfectly displayed in Acts another way, and yet another perfect example of God’s sovereignty is seen in Revelation.

If you only remember ONE THING from tonight’s lessons….I want it to be this phrase: “The whole Bible agrees, our God is the ONLY GOD, and our God is an AWESOME GOD”.

(Repeat and have them fill in the blank of bolded words)

The Bible is our source to KNOW who this ONE God is. It is a trustworthy source, that has been scrutinized thoroughly time and time again since it’s origin and has ALWAYS come out the other side being proved trustworthy.

So, for those of you who, like I said in the beginning, LOVE God and are excited about camp to get to know him-Group 3, I say to you-KEEP that excitement. Keep that focus-you are in a great place. You are right. God is the key to EVERYTHING. He is the giver of peace, and joy, and clarity, and direction. Not only does He give us life eternal, but he also offers you the most, what he calls in John *( “abundant” life possible! Seeking Him is the BEST thing for you to do, so keep it up. My prayer for you this week is that you are strengthed by what you learn to continue serving this ONE God with your whole heart and life, and that because of WHO OUR ONE GOD IS your life is changed.

For those of you in the second category-you’re here, you’re kind of interested in God-but not really, Group 2 I say to you- He’s not just a good teacher or someone who give you a ticket out of hell or someone to talk about at Christmas and Easter-God is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. He can give your life PURPOSE and MEANING. He can give you HOPE when you are HOPELESS and COMFORT when you are LONELY and He wants to be wonderfully, intamently involved in every detail of your life.—not just your salvation.

And for the last group, group 1-those of you don’t care about God-don’t believe in God-or maybe straight up hate God-this is my prayer for you. That, in His grace, God will open your eyes to see that there is NO WAY that there is not a God. That you guys will see that there MUST be a God and that your heart will be opened to the fact that that God has revealed who He is the pages of the Bible. I pray that when you tell yourself the lie “there is no heaven. There is no hell. There is no god.” That you won’t be able to even sleep at night because you’ll be wondering “What if I’m wrong”. “What if I’m wrong?” “What if I’m wrong?” I pray that that doubt that this is all there is-draws you to the Bible and that you will believe that He is who He says He is.

Friends, I don’t tell you there is ONE GOD to try to get you to simply follow a list of dos or don’t. I don’t tell you there is ONE GOD so that I can scare you into heaven by telling you about hell. I tell you there is ONE God because He is the most amazing, incredible person I have ever encountered and knowing Him has absolutely changed my life for the better.  And I am SO THANKFUL to have Him in my life!

Here’s a little bit about me…there are a lot of really wonderful things in my life, but there are also some very difficult things: I grew up in a neglectful home. I remember my step dad beating my mother, I was sexually abused by half-brother. Thanks be to God, I was removed from that home when I was 6 and adopted into a Christian family who loved Jesus and loved me. But years later, the mom who adopted me drifted away from church and the Bible and became an alcoholic. I struggle with obeying God, and constantly fail Him. For the past 4 years, I was deeply in love with a young man, and we ended things just a few months ago because he couldn’t decide to commit to me in marriage. In all of these things, what do I do? How do I cope with alcoholism, abuse, and heartbreak? I’ll tell you how: I look to the ONE GOD. The God of the Bible and he tells me in James to “Count it all joy when I fall into trials of various kinds” and in Romans that “ALL THINGS work together for good” and in Psalms that “in him we are MORE than conquerors”. With this ONE GOD in my life, though it is still difficult, I have PEACE-I know he is trustworthy. I have JOY-through Jesus Christ I have salvation! I have HOPE-he CAN and WILL work out all things together for my good and his glory. And I have assurance that though I “only live once”-once is all I need to accept Christ’s gift of salvation and spend eternity together with Him in heaven. And I want that for each and every one of you. “The whole Bible agrees, our God is the ONLY GOD, and our God is an AWESOME GOD”. And that’s why I’m here.

Let’s pray.

God,

I am so very glad that you are real. That you exist, that you are the ONLY God, and that you choose to let humans know who you are through the Bible. I pray for the campers and the staff here tonight—some who know you and some who don’t-I pray that you help them to feel the weight of truth heavy on their hearts that there IS a God. And that you THE ONLY GOD have revealed yourself in the Bible, and that you WANT people to know you, and that you want them to have a relationship with you, and ultimmtietly have a relationship with you eternally after death. Please give me clarity as I speak that you are seen as AMAZING and GLORIOUS that you really are-that I won’t get in the way of your awesomeness, but that everyone will be delighted by the truth of what you’re like. Thank you for being so loving, and gracious, and showing us who you are. You didn’t have to do that. I love you, thanks for loving me first. Amen. And all God’s people said “Amen”

The Campers Have Arrived!

A few quick updates:

Well, we have officially survived the first day of camp! :). After some morning meetings, and prayer time together as a staff, the 100+ German and French 13-18 year olds arrived on our campus. It is so exciting to have them here! They liven up the place, that’s for sure 🙂

A highlight of my day was interviewing some of the campers during one of the portions of their 3 part English examine. Some were nervous to speak to a real, live American, but many were excited to share what they know with us. After the English tests we all went back to the camp hall to have dinner. We ate bread, meat, and cheese (of course-we will have this every single dinner :)) and then some sort of sweet, thick, potato pancake thing.

I learned that almost all of the campers here this week were returners, and mostly (praise the Lord!) are believers! They seem to be very willing and eager to learn about God and to worship Him.

Christina is doing so wonderfully. Her health is improving much more quickly than we originally anticipated, and we attribute all of that to your prayers and the grace of God! So thank you! I wish you all could see her-I feel like she is so “in her element” here as she connects to and ministers with German and Canadian staff in a joy-filled, energetic way!

After the “Celebration Time” this evening (when we do announcements, sing worship songs, and a message is given based on the theme of the day), there was a bon-fire lighting ceremony with torches! At the bon-fire, a group of four 13 year old girls were wonderfully eager to talk to me. They knew very little English, but together managed to communicate different little facts and stories about themselves. They were adorable! They were so proud of each English word they knew and smiled largely each time I understood what they were trying to say. They encouraged me concerning my message, and I was very thankful for their simply gratitude.

Please continue to pray for the campers and staff here at Neues Leben. Continue praying for Christina’s rest and health, and pray for my messages as well. We are very, very weak when relying on our own strength. We have no wisdom, limited patience, and self-serving love apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Please pray for a continued dependence on God’s grace, and for the mind of Christ to be in us. Thank you for your care!

From the Frankfurt Airport!

Christina and I have landed on German soil, and we are currently in the Frankfurt airport, sipping on Starbucks, waiting for our ride to arrive in another 2 hours or so. There is a six hour time difference, so whereas our bodies are telling us, “it’s two in the morning-you should be sleeping!” the reality is that it’s 8:00 am and time to start our (very long feeling) day 🙂

We’ve already made so many wonderful memories including befriending and praying for a fellow female short-term missionary on the plane, encouraging stewardesses that seemed to be having a rough day, talking to a Universalist, and maaaybe being pulled over for speeding on our way to the airport. But those are fun stories for another time 🙂

Christina’s health is doing very well considering the lack of sleep she had paired with her recent diagnoses of mono and bronchitis. Please pray that these few days before the campers arrive (Sunday) she is able to rest and prepare for a week of ministry and wonderful, new relationships.

Pray for me, as I will be working throughout the week to prepare each night’s lessons to speak to the campers. I am beyond excited for the opportunity, but the weight of the somber responsibility of sharing God’s word is on my heart. Pray for wisdom each day as I prepare my lessons. Pray for the Spirit to guide my words and for His wisdom in how I spend my time. I don’t know if you know this, but my incredibly social personality sometimes impedes my study/preparation time-so prayer for wisdom in time management will be a blessing! Also pray for clarity-both for me to explain well these deep truths, and for the translators to be able to understand and explain them well as well! I am SO excited to see ALL the Lord does in the coming days at Neues Leben English Camp 2015!

Just Finished Leviticus

Ah, Leviticus.

As most of you know, as I’m reading thru the Bible, I stop at the end of each book and reflect on that book as a whole. What does it mean in the metanarrative of Scripture? What is God like based off of these pages? Etc., etc., etc.

But before I dive into that, I want to acknowledge that without the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s gift of faith in my life, I may never come to these conclusions. If I were blinded to spiritual truths, I could, like Mark Twain up there, be thrown off by all the rituals and sacrifices and commands. I too could believe that this is an antiquated, war and gore story full of lies.

Don’t take for granted faith. Thank God for eyes to see and a heart to receive. It is NOTHING that we do to earn or acquire faith, it is a gift from God.

The second thing I’d like to mention is that when the original readers heard about these ritual laws, blessings and cursings, clean and unclean, and animal sacrifices–this was NOT a foreign concept to them. They were not (like we are) thrown off at the idea of slaughtering an animal. They did not squirm at that thought of being labeled “unclean” like we do. Because that was normal for the time period. It’s so strange when Christianity gets a bad rap for this Old Testamenty ways, because EVERY SURROUNDING nation and culture had similar rituals. It’s not like the Israelites were the only ones with temple sacrifices, the only ones with any sort of Holy Days, or the only ones with severe punishment for disobeying their god! No, no, no. If you read literature from surrounding nations at the same time, you’ll find them similar, but with noteworthy differences (i.e. they had rituals involving prostitutes, sacrificed children, and worshiped a god who could be bribed).

Okay, now onto the review! So a friend in a coffee shop sees me reading, they decide to sit down across from me and ask, “How’s your book going?” How do I respond?

Well, I’m only on Chapter 3 (get it? Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus…3rd), so I’m not super far into it yet. But Chapter 1- introduces the main character, God, who is awesome and explains a little bit about how he relates to these special, yet-nothing-special, people He has chosen to love. Then Chapter 2 has an INCREDIBLE story about how God and his friend, Moses, do the impossible and supernaturally rescue those people from Egyptian tyranny. He then explains them more of who He actually is, and it is CRAZY. He’s 100% holy. He’s 100% perfect. He’s 100% a lot of things, and the ramifications for that are immense!  So Chapter 3 (Leviticus) is kind of building on that revelation. It’s a book entirely of commandments given in light of the fact that they are really awful people, and He is a really perfect God, and now they live together. 

Since a Holy God is present–the people MUST properly address their sins against Him and strive to honor and obey him. He has called them to represent Him on this earth–this is a call for them to be holy. It’s pretty neat when you think about it. GOD doesn’t need to dwell with people. There is no requirement for that. No necessity at all. God doesn’t need to be reconciled with us. He’s perfectly fine without us being in right standing before Him. 

YET HE IS A GOD OF RECONCILIATION AND FORGIVENESS. He made a way through offerings and sacrifices that people who are evil and forgetful and selfish and sinful–can worship, know, and love Him still. Nobody asked Him for this, expected it, or deserved it–He brought it about because of His great love for these people. That fact, when you really understand who this character-God-really, truly is….is incredible. 

Last thing– I JUST found this video/project and it AWESOME! They say, “We are a non-profit creating videos that walk through the narrative of the Bible. We do this book-by-book and theme-by-theme. Download full resolution versions of all the videos for free. Also download free teaching guides. These downloads are at http://www.jointhebibleproject.com” Watching “The Bible Project” will definitely be a good use of your time! Poke around their website/youtube channel and use it as a resource as much as possible! If you’re able, donate too! I think it is AWESOME!

As always, thanks for reading!

Printable nursery art - Bible verse - Leviticus 20:26 - I have set you apart from the nations to be my own - Watercolor - Customizable

Leviticus 11:44  - Holiness. God requires the absolute obedience of His people. This is the meaning of holiness. God demands total commitment to Him, and requires separation from the sinful practices of the world. The root meaning of the word

Leviticus 19:18 Hanging on to bitterness and keeping alive grudges is consuming work. It leaves little energy for blessing others, praising God, or enjoying life. The only way to get over these things is to actively love (i.e., serve them) others in ways that bless their lives. If we can't do this because it's good and the right thing to do, we do it because we know God!