3 Things I Learned At Kamp

The other night, I was talking with my Ames friends and I found myself stumbling over my words, unsure of how describe such a full and weighty month.

I spent the last month working as a kamp kounselor at the K-Seven Kanakuk Kamp (and yes, by contract I have to spell those words with a “K”). I’m still processing through all that the Lord did this last month, not just in the hearts of my kampers, but in my own heart.

It’d be great if I could just sort through all the Lord did in my heart, type it up, put a bow on it, and put it on here. But I don’t think I’m there yet and I don’t think it is something that I can force. In the midst of processing, when things are still a little bit hazy, lists are helpful. So here’s mine.

Three things I learned at K-Seven

1. It is easier to make fans of Jesus than disciples of Jesus.

Fans of Jesus sit somewhere and believe something passively. They might sit somewhere  where they hear really great sermons or go to a great kamp where they hear the Gospel and see it being lived out. They might even cheer for Jesus, or come to the pep rallies on Sunday morning or Wednesday night, but they don’t play in the games. It’s not very hard to make fans of Christ. You can do it with funny skits and water slides or a compelling speaker.

It’s much harder to equip kids to follow Jesus for “the other 51 weeks,” as we like to say at Kamp. As a leader of a Bible study and as a kamp kounselor, I know how easy it is to tell others all the stories, scriptures, and doctrine they need to know and stop there. Bob Goff calls that “memorizing Jesus.” We are called to be followers, and following Jesus starts with believing that He is Lord and then standing up and running after Him. We must get that His grace isn’t powerless, that it changes us and moves us and makes us more into the image of Christ. As a kounselor, I first needed to make sure I wasn’t just memorizing Jesus and was actually loving, obeying, pursuing, and being changed by Him. Then, I needed to everything I could to share that with my kampers, that the full Gospel could not just be believed passively.

We must believe and share the full Gospel, the one that makes ourselves and others stand up and run after our Savior. 

2. Our convictions are more important than our emotions.

At Kamp, there are so many times when you aren’t feeling it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredibly fun work environment. Boat-driving by day and dance parties by night is a hard life to complain about, but the volume and repetition drains you like a Texas summer heat wave. So often I didn’t feel like waking up early to pray for my kampers or dancing like a wild man at the foam party. I had to recognize that my convictions came before my emotions. If I believe that the good news of Jesus Christ is paramount, this conviction will drive us to do things we don’t feel like doing. Kamp was all about that. The kids needed to both hear and see the Gospel. In order to do this, I needed to be fueled not by fleeting emotions but by lasting convictions.

 We must be fueled by our convictions. They both come before and shape our emotions.

3. The amount of patience we have for others depends completely on our grasping of God’s unlimited patience for us.

If you ever want to do a little experiment to find out how impatient you are, spend any period of time with 11 and 12 year old boys. I spent two weeks as a kounselor of this age group. Do the math and that’s a little over seventeen thousand minutes of being humbled by my own impatience. Thankfully, God is good and showed me this scripture a couple days into Kamp.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.                         1 Timothy 1:15 (emphasis added)

I was only able to be patient with these kids to the extent that I was aware of God’s immense patience for me. No amount of yoga in the mornings provides the patience that gospel wakefulness provides.

Knowing that we follow an immensely patient Savior can, should, and will make us patient people.

Kamp was incredible. God is good. I’ll close with this.

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace… 2 Timothy 1:8-9a

The Parent Trap

DCIM100GOPROThe guy in the photo to my right, that’s my dad. He’s incredible. I could write a post on him just about every day. The way he loves me and is for me and wants to spend time with me has made it so much easier for me to understand a God who loves me and is for me and wants to spend time with me. My friend Adam and I spent the last three days out in Colorado skiing with our dads. I don’t think we fully realize how blessed we are to have dads who prioritize spending time with us.

IMG_0091And that’s my mom. She’s incredible too. She’s strong and smart and driven but also joyful and encouraging and compassionate. That’s pretty much a recipe for the best mom ever. My new years resolution to call my mom more at school might be the best one on the list other than only shopping at thrift stores. Phone conversations with her end with my love-tank filled to brim and then it’s able to spill out as I run around Waco.

The further distance takes me away from them, the more I realize how continually blessed I am by parents who love God, love each other, and love me, in that order. So much of who we are comes from our parents. They do not define us but they shape us and they mark us. I’m blessed to be shaped and marked by these two.

There’s things I see in my parents that I want to emulate, lots of things. There’s things, maybe just one or two, that I don’t want to emulate. Maybe those are flipped with your parents. Maybe there are a lot of things you don’t want and not a single one you want. Maybe your parents have wounded you emotionally or physically. I can’t sit here and write about what that’s like, but I believe that words and acts of grace and forgiveness are more powerful than any evil or bitterness or enmity that defines your relationship with your parents. Maybe it’s time to love them.

Love is Patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Sometimes it’s harder to love the people closest to us, especially if that has never marked your relationship before. Proximity intensifies things. It makes cuts go deeper and wounds hurt more and forgiveness harder. But it goes both ways. Affirming words mean more, acts of service go further, hugs feel more secure. What if those things defined your relationship with your parents?

It might sound really hard. But a long time ago, a carpenter from Nazareth loved you even when it was really, really, really hard and it cost Him everything. And His love isn’t just a historical example but an on-going thing, it’s a kind of love that tears down walls and heals wounds and brings restoration to your relationships and to the whole world.

Love starts with communication. Tell your parents you love them.Call them.  Send them a letter. Shoot them a text. Leave them a note on the fridge. Start a blog and post about them. Just do it.