WOW!  This place actually has good breakfast.  No matter how many times Eric Henry makes fun of me for eating slow and not eating everything on my plate, I am going to continue to enjoy a "taste of the world"  on my plate at breakfast time!

Just yesterday it seemed like we had been here a week already, and at the conclusion of today I'm racing to fit in everything because it seems the week has gone by so fast!

Squad times were fantastic today.  I have to say the water sports are my favorite...probably because of the Beach Boys music they are blaring during each game!  Lindsey and I taught our squad how to do a cool dance to go along with the music.  One kid commented, "I wanna be on your team! Even though you're always losing, you look like you're having so much fun!"  YES!  We accomplished our goal!  This group of awkward kids I met on Monday night has developed into a team of AWESOME youth that are really gelling and working together.  They each have a great sense of humor which really helps them get along with me and Lindsey!  -  Our team building exercise was for them to be blindfolded and led through a "mine field" of balloons while navigating a 2x4 (submarine).  My squad made it through the first time unlike most, and even though we didn't beat every other team, the spiritual lessons we discussed really did sink in.  You see, its hard to trust a leader you can't see.  It's also hard to listen to a leader when there's a ton of people around you talking like they know whats best, when in actuality they are just as blind as you!  SUCCESS AGAIN!

Morning Worship and Evening Worship were nothing short of spectacular!  I cannot get over how this random collection of musicians just gel in the time of worship.  It is without a doubt the result of total surrender to the spirit.  Lights, Fog, Camera, ACTION!  The campus pastor, Donnie, steps up to take his place.  He spoke with conviction this evening as he presented "What Does it Mean to Respond to God."   This message paved a perfect path to our church discussion this evening.  We got to sit and listen as students shared their encounters with God this week so far, and what they have decided to do about it.  Whether students decide to turn toward God and forsake the world, or discredit God and embrace the world, we are challenging students to make a choice instead of living on the edge.  God has got some big things going on here!

The evening ended with "Urban Assault."  That was definitely a game to ask your kids about!  The best way I can describe it would be a ramped up version of tag and capture the flag.  I love leading a team of awesome kids who had fun.  To be honest,  we didn't win, but we did come close!  I actually started paying kids from other teams with gummy bears to work for my team!  Some call that cheating...but Lindsey and I think of it as resourceful.  After all, it was a game about being a spy!

The week is far from over, and we covet your prayers!  How can you pray?  Well, there are kids, I believe even some in our own group, who may not fully grasp the concept of a relationship with Jesus. Please pray that they will be receptive to the work of God while they are here away from distractions.  Pray for those who are getting distracted by the tools the enemy is using to bring them down.  Pray for the adults as we are exhausted!  Pray for the overall sprit of the remainder of the week.  We are desperately longing to see God show up in a huge, undeniable way and spark a revival that will spread back to our home church.

Camp Revolution: Day of the Dead

Day Two of the Camp Revolution Experience.  I have to say that while those beds were not perfect, I definitely slept like a baby....woke up every two hours and cried.  ;)  Nah..I'm just kidding...all my middle school guys slept extremely hard! Being the vigilant sponsor that I am, I stayed up until the rustling of crazy middle school boys died.  So, I definitely didn't get as much sleep as they did, and I most certainly did not want to wake up this morning!  Running on minimal sleep, we all began Day Two, The Day of the Dead.

If you're a parent and you are worried about your kids eating well, let me put your worries to rest and tell you...THEY DEFINITELY ARE!  To put it in perspective,  Rob Robinson actually got seconds on a salad today.  A SALAD!?!?  I feel like a good majority of our time has been spent in the dining common, but it has been time well spent.  Between bites of delicious food we have enjoyed some time of discipleship, and extreme laughter!  I love these guys!

Today our teens learned how to work together with others in multiples of ways.  The water relays were the best source of comic relief today.  From navigating a slippery tarp riding a pool noodle, to filling gallon buckets with car wash sponges, it was a hilarious time!  Our squads then moved on to an exercise where they had to build a functional bridge using four concrete blocks and two, two by fours.  Though my squad did not win,  we connected in a great way and were able to derive some spiritual truths from this time.  To wrap it up:  Communicate, plan your work, and work your plan....oh and don't pretend to know everything. - That was the biggest struggle for some kids in my squad.

Honestly, I could spend two blogs talking about the quality of the physical food here,  but I could write a book on the spiritual food we have been afforded so far.  It is hard to believe we are just a little over 24 hours into our camp experience and have already been fed 3 OUTSTANDING meals.  This morning we dove into understanding world religion, and how it has impacted "Christianity."  We were challenged by the fact that many Hindu's view Americans as having more gods than they do.

The evening service was great as well.  Through the story of Joseph's sons, and Joseph's father, Israel we listened as Pastor Donnie explained how God the Father has preferred us and blessed us. We also took a look at the things that keep us from a perfect relationship with the Father.  Last night we looked at "Having an Encounter with God,"  and today we received a word of "Realizing What God has Done."  Our small group time following the service proved to be fruitful and engaging.  I'm so thankful for some teens that are sincere about discovering God's will and plan for their lives.

We wrapped the evening up with Glow in the Dark Frisbee,  "Tacky Prom,"  "Quest Games," and just hangin' at The Oasis.  Be sure and ask your student what they participated in!  I'm listening now to my favorite sound in the world...NOTHING! That means I get to head on to bed in the extreme near future.

I hope this post finds you doing well.  Crossroads, we miss you, but be ready for a revolution and revival when our youth comes home to set the church on fire!  ....That is, if they aren't asleep from exhaustion. ;)"

Camp Revolution: An Encounter

I had no idea when I woke up this morning just what I would encounter.  My camp resume contains Northland, the Wilds, and of course...Camp Victory.  For those of you who don't know...I have attended Camp Victory multiple weeks each year since I was merely months old.  It has also been my privilege to serve as part of the staff for the past five years.  Recently I calculated that I have spent nearly four years of my life on the grounds of Camp Victory...so to say that today was going to be a step out of my comfort zone would be appropriate to say the least.

I've always been a good packer, so I kinda just took over getting luggage into the van today.  Alicia, or "the bag lady" as I now call her was so gracious to drive our church van filled with luggage, and a few interesting guests.  After prayer with Pastor Dave, we departed.   I would first like to thank Pastor Darryl, "The Bladder god,"  for not allowing us to make a plethora of bathroom stops.  It made the trip go by much faster, even in cramped vans.  The lunch break at Fazoli's was great, and the credit for that goes to our awesome group of kids.  I'm so proud to be one of their leaders!  Apparently they didn't eat as much as Alicia anticipated, so Padre and I were able to deliver a feast to a family with seven children in the area who needed it more than we did!  (Did I mention several Jr. High guys packed ENTIRE DUFFLE BAGS of snacks!?!?)

We arrived on campus and quickly unloaded our things in our dorm rooms.  The guys attempted to be gentlemen and carry the massive armoires the girls had collected, but were quickly turned away at the doors by the dorm leaders.  Honestly...a blessing that we didn't have to find their rooms.  The guys dorm is MASSIVE.  A large commons area reveals the wrap around sets of dorm rooms.  My suite has Jacob Blegen, TJ Ungerer, Brian Jones, Michael Hicks, Caleb Henry, Nathan Racz, and Dillon Richmond.  I wish we would have looked at that map before trekking all over three floors only to realize we had it right the first time!

We quickly adjured to "The Cathedral" where we met our campus pastor and various leaders for the week.  To me it felt weird to be one of those adult sponsors instead of the camp staff...I'm not sure if I'm going to get used to that.  Supper was unusually good for a college campus.  Eric and I discovered a secret place that has DELICIOUS yogurt and fruit, and Darryl found a juice bar!  (shhhh!  We aren't telling the kids until we leave. ;)

The service was definitely the highlight of the day!  With all the distractions and things the enemy had thrown at us throughout the day, I knew something good was coming. The worship experience began with a powerful worship set.  I don't know about anyone else, but God's Spirit had free reign with me during this time! The preacher delivered a challenge from Ezekiel.  To sum it all up,  when you have had a genuine encounter with God,  you cannot help but live a radical life for him!  This challenged me at a whole new level!  Ezekiel had to do crazy things like build and destroy a sand castle,  scare people from a hole in his home's wall, and eat dung sandwiches...What radical thing has God asked me to do?  Well, at its very basic level, God has asked each of us to EVANGELIZE and DISCIPLE.  No less than that!  Yet we shy away from it because we are scared of....embarrassment???!  That goes to prove that most of us do not even believe God is who he says he is...much less have we had an encounter with him.  God began to speak to me personally, and reaffirmed his calling on my life.  My encounters with God have generally been in a music setting, and God has specifically called me to spread his word and love through a musical platform,  and speak when he opens  the door.

Family group with my middle school guys was a heart softening time.  God has his work cut out for him in the hearts of these boys,  but I believe 110%  that by the end of this week, there will be a fire burning so passionately inside them that they won't be able to contain it.  My prayer is that this group of young teenagers comes home and teaches our dead adults how to live, love, praise, and have REAL CHURCH!

I won't tell any of you about the party we had in our dorm's commons area....what happens in the dorms, stays in the dorms.  :)   I'm so excited y'all!  God has something big in store!  Stay tuned to hear more about it!

A Love That Won't Stop

I was in a valley.
I was sinking low.
I had slipped and fallen.
I had missed the goal.
Condemnation threatened.
I cried out in fear.
Mercy said "forgiven," come and fly up here!

I love the Lord.
He heard my cry.
He lifted me way up high,
Set my feet upon a mountain top.
Just think of it, the Lord and King,
The Creator of everything,
Loves me with a love that won't stop.

Now, if you bear the burden
Of a sin-scarred life.
Your past mistakes and failures
Haunt you in the night.
You can be forgiven,
For God's word is true.
Then, on the wings of eagles,
You can sing this too!


Though I do not know the author who penned these lyrics, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this song of encouragement and conviction.  Maybe you have been like me.  I can remember a time where I felt like I was not accomplishing anything!  The saying,  "If not for bad luck...I'd have no luck at all." seemed to really apply!  But, then God got my attention and helped me realize that when I have fallen, I don't have to live in that pit!  Mercy didn't say, "sucks to be you! You must now wallow in the mess you made."  Mercy said, "You can be forgiven, come fly up here!"

The Problem with Phillippian Philosophy

As a musician, envy and jealousy tempt me daily.  I can remember when I first went on staff at a church as a worship leader/keyboard player I immersed  myself in piano music.  No matter the genre or content, I was constantly mimicking new licks and styles from those I would listen to.  At my first staff position, there was the traditional offertory that took place during the offering every Sunday morning that I was required to play.  So, I would log on to YouTube through the week, search out new arrangements of old songs, and practice until I thought I was identical.  Then as I would play them on Sunday morning, I could hear the difference in skill level and technique come out in my playing.  This discouraged me to the point where I started turning down playing opportunities in other venues.  Especially when I knew a superior piano player would be in the crowd.  This "Phillippian Philosophy" that I adopted as my own not only kept me from reaching my full potential, but it overworked those who were already skilled to the point of burning them out...just because I thought they should do it.

In Phillippians chapter one, we find Paul writing from prison.  Even the new believer recognizes Paul as the greatest missionary of all history.  This man was used by God to write a good majority of the New Testament, plant churches throughout a continent, train pastors, and win countless souls to Christ through his ministry.  To contrast Paul's ministry with any ministry past or present, and find an equal would be near impossible, save the ministry of Jesus Christ.  In his day, people literally fought over the fact that they had been converted under Paul's ministry.  As the average "Christian" of Paul's day compared their lives to Paul's ministry, it seems they became discouraged.  Instead of stepping up and taking over the ministries they had been given, they sat idle and watched the ministry superstar work for God.

Paul writes, "the things which have happened to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel."  In essence,  God had to place Paul in prison to get the church on their feet and moving to spread the gospel, instead of leaving it all up to Paul.  Paul writes, "many brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."  While this statement was inspired by God, and therefore true, I cannot help but wonder how much further the gospel could have spread with the church on their feet, AND Paul doing his ministry.

II Timothy 3:14 says, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing OF WHOM thou hast learned them."  This verse presents a challenge to the present day believer.  Consider your mentor in the ministry.  Call your pastor to mind.  Think about your Christian mentors who trained you up in the values you call your own now.  The Word says to continue faithfully in the things you have learned, but not even just that;  the things you have been ASSURED of.  You know, those things God has proven to you over and over and over again!

Today, my challenge to myself is to live faithful to my calling.  To step up to the plate and do what God has given me to do.  First, because I have learned what is right.  Second, because God has assured me that it is true.  Thirdly,  because I remember the men who taught me...and I don't want to lose them.  If we as Timothy's don't step up and do,  we may lose our Paul's "for the furtherance of the gospel."  Don't make God take our spiritual leaders away just to get us to do what we already know is right.