This is our second year going to Sierra Bible Camp with my sister. Last year I was only there for the last 3 days of camp, my boys were there for the whole week. This year I was able to take time off work to go for the entire week and was very blessed with being able to teach 6-9 year olds the gospel while I was there. Teaching and listening to the teaching from Mister Brown (the speaker for the camp), and hearing people's stories and watching my sister and her children's ministry team work with 35 kids between infancy and 9 years of age stirred me up! I needed stirring.
As I think over the specific ways God impressed something on me this past week, I come up with 7 good things.
1. It's good to get away with God
Honestly it's been years since I've been to any kind of organized Christian retreat or camp... more than 14 years. I intentionally seek out time alone with God each day. A walk alone. Sitting out on the patio alone. Staying in my room alone. Praying, reading scripture, chewing on the gospel in my fight to live by faith and turn from my old sinful self. But there is great benefit to a setting aside, week or even weekend, away from the daily grind, soaking up what the Holy Spirit would teach and comfort through God's word and God's people.
2. It's good to be with God's broken people
The church is full of people. With problems. Like me. It gets messy. It's hard to hear people's stories sometimes. But to see the power of the gospel really transform a person's life, little by little... watching those "ah-ha" moments of revelation as a Bible verse is studied or preached. Seeing people sing for joy and repent of sin and love people different than themselves... it's a beautiful thing.
3. It's good to serve children and their parents
The week at Sierra Bible Camp I spent as a co-teacher with my sister of the pre-campers (age infant to 3rd grade). My sister has a God-given charismatic personality that instantly engages children. I'm not so charismatic, but I love the gospel and the scriptures... I love to talk to kids about Jesus. Being around my sister is good for me. Her zeal and passion and joy are contagious. She makes me want to smile more and dance around a little. Getting to work with her and her team of faithful, loving women who served these 30 plus littles and their parents lit a fire in me! When you have to put the good news about Christ and the doctrines of justification and sanctification into words and illustrations a 6-9 year old can understand, it reminds you of the wonder of how simple and deep the gospel is. God's message in Christ invites little children to come to him. And it's a joy of joys to get to be the one doing the inviting!
4. It's good to hear God's word preached with power and application
Mister Brown was the guest speaker at the camp this year. His ministry through Proclaim Ministries and Hello Mister Brown, has a huge impact on students but also the parents and teachers who get the privilege of hearing him too. Being a black man, raised in "the hood", as he put it, without a father, in a church where he confessed he was focused on the pretty girls more than God, he had a life experience that could testify to the transforming power of the gospel while understanding the circumstances many of the students there found themselves in. He brought the gospel message in every talk while teaching the Bible, emphasizing the importance of memorizing scripture, and connecting the Bible to the relevance of the broken young lives listening to him. I HIGHLY recommend him as a speaker for youth events. I left each session convicted of my laxness towards memorizing scripture and speaking it into my life and my sons' lives. I left praying, confessing and resolving to make God's word my priority.
5. It's good to revive resolves
The combination of working with those kids and meeting people with stories of broken lives, seeking Jesus, and the preaching of God's word sent me home here to Arizona with a renewed desire to love my husband and children, teach my boys the ways and word of the Lord, and to give myself to the building up of the local church in whatever way God would have me do that. I love the church. I love God's people. I love that we're broken and being made new day by day and we love each other. My resolve to pray with confidence in God's promises and to pour out my heart to the Lord, trusting that he will not give up on his promise to complete the good work he's started in me.
6. It's good to be outside
Northern California is a beautiful place! Spending time outside is almost instantly a magnifier of God's praise in my heart. The detail and purpose and design in God's creation captures me.
7. It's good to play
Have you heard of Gaga Ball? I played this not-too-technical game with kids I've never met before, my own kids and other adults. I never won a round. But watching the kids self-govern the game fairly and cheer for each other and call each other out on things was great fun.
Tomorrow I go back to a full time work schedule as a nurse and my sons start their first day of high-school and eight grade. May God be with me in every circumstance everyday to live for his glory!