Check out the awkward way we went about filling you in on the Fun Fact winners from February, March, and April!
What do you think about when you hear about ‘being perfect?’ Does the
star athlete, the violin virtuoso or the classmate destined to be the
valedictorian come to mind? Or just maybe it’s a combination of those
and more. We might get compared to those that are ‘perfect’ like a
brother or sister or a family friend’s kids. ’Perfection’ in anything
is a lofty goal and those that we might view as being perfect aren’t
really so. When we realize that we are not perfect we might get
frustrated, sad or depressed with our own efforts (by the way, you
are probably better at most things than you think you are.)
Since being ‘perfect’ is an accomplishment reserved for a few select
people, its okay if perfection is not reached. However, in Matthew
5:46-48 Jesus tells us to be ‘perfect’ as our Heavenly Father is
‘perfect’. Jesus wants perfection from us when it comes to loving
others. A ‘perfect love’ is shown to more people than just those that
love us and those that are close to us. A ‘perfect love’ is a love
that is stronger, deeper and more far spreading than the love of many
that do not know Jesus.
So now the question comes, “What are you doing to perfect your love?”
Are you loving everyone that you encounter? Are you showing love to
those that are tough to love? Are you doing something that takes your
love further than simply saying, “I love you.” I encourage you to
think about those that love you, how they show it and how it makes you
feel. There are many ways to perfect love and remember that classic
phrase, ‘practice makes perfect.’
(And now for a shameless plug, a week at workCampNE this summer is a
great place to practice.)
Brian Dalbow is the Director of Student Ministries at Christ United Methodist Church in Landsdale, PA. He is a “newer” friend of workcampNE, as he first brought his great group of students to camp in 2012. We look forward to his CUMC youth rejoining us this summer, and are very excited for his upcoming wedding!
I have been attending workcampNE for the past six years. I have been a camper for four of those years and the other two I have spent as an intern. The first time I heard about workcamp I was a freshman in high school and was not sure what to think about it. Giving up a week of my summer to go and work sounded like, well, a lot of work. After some prayer I decided to go.
That turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made. I have loved all six years that I have been going. What makes workcamp so special to me is the fact that you learn all about God, and not only that but that you are able to live out your faith and share the love of God to others by helping them repair their homes.
workcampNE has made a major impact in my life whether it be spiritually, or the many relationships that I have built throughout those six years. workcamp has become a second family to me, and I always look forward to spending the summer with them each year. The count down until next year starts when the last week of camp ends!
Landon Liga is a student at Lincoln Christian University who, as he has shared, has been a workcamper for 6 years, and the last two was a tremendous blessing as an extremely hard working intern.
Check out our stage for our third week of camp coming up this summer in Nashua, NH! Doesn’t look like much? Well, wait until you get to camp and see how we’ve turned this ordinary cafeteria into an awesome stage where we will worship our God through music and messages! We might even play a game or two. We look forward to seeing you there!
workcampNE staffers Marc and Jess Therrien were excited to be part of the band this past Sunday at BridgePointe Christian Church, a new church plant in East Providence, RI. The staff is made up of Jared Cowgur, Carson Cheatham, and Josh Pezold, all who have filled various roles at our camps such as speaker, band, youth leader, and crew leader! We had a blast at the launch week, and enjoyed in celebrating the fact that there is a God who loves us. Please pray for the new church, that God would bring people from the community to be ministered to, and that all of the kinks of a new church would be worked out so things can continue to go great for this group! Check them out at their website.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
One of the great debates around this passage is “What was Jesus writing in the sand?”.
Some say He was writing the sins of the men (including the one the woman was found with) who were ready to condemn this woman…
Others say He was writing the names of the men, seeing them as individuals, rather than a mob to hide within…
Even others say that He was writing the name of the woman, treating her as a person, created and loved by God, giving her identity and personhood.
I personally like this last one.
One of the ministries Mel & I have been involved in for over 5 years is Project 417 (www.project417.com). Their three-pronged approach is to deal with the issues of human trafficking, First Nations issues, and the homeless of Toronto. When I first got involved with this organization, I really hadn’t thought about homelessness being an issue in Canada. I honestly didn’t “see” people living on the streets – they were just “human speed bumps” or part of the scenery. As I got more involved, I began to identify the work we were doing with these amazing people, as “restoring humanity”.
Think about those words for a second – “restoring humanity”.
This was and is the mission of Christ.
To restore a broken people into a right relationship with God – the way God had intended His relationship with His people to be from the beginning.
In some situations, it starts by offering a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.
For others, it starts by offering help that could be the key to the life change they need.
For others, it could be simply speaking to them, using their name in a conversation, that allows the seed to be planted for the process of restoring humanity to begin.
When we think of how Jesus treated this woman that was brought before Him, His desire was to restore her humanity – allow her to see that she is worthy, that she could be loved and treated with respect as a human, as a child of God.
When we show up at workcampNE each year, we are faced with the opportunity to restore the humanity in our residents – to show them respect with the way we work and treat their property, possessions and them as people, created in the image of God and with a purpose.
Perhaps your resident this year will be one that has been shoved aside or forgotten by their family & friends. Your actions and words towards them, in response to the love that God has already shown you, could be the first step in the journey that God has for them to experience a restoration of their humanity and their relationship with Him.
If that’s the case, how are you going to pray in preparation for this calling? One idea is to learn to listen to God – allowing you to see what His Word is saying to you and what He is doing around you. With this attitude and approach to life and prayer, we allow ourselves to be open to be used by God, as His instruments.
Dr. James Eitel is a certified Cultural Intelligence Facilitator and is the Lead Facilitator at E423 Consulting. He has served in multiple church youth ministries for over 15 years throughout Ontario in many different cultural contexts. He is a Doctor of Ministry in Youth & Family Ministry (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA). He has also served as part of the adjunct faculty in the youth ministry department at Tyndale University, teaching a number of different courses, including “Canadian Youth Culture”. He and His wife Melanie are great staff members of workcampNE, and have blessed us with their service in many roles, for many years.
To share the winner of the January Fun Fact drawing, we had some friends help us with a little dance number…
So, there you are, reflecting on how you might spend some time with God today. You’re really in the mood to get to know God’s heart and how much He cares for you and directs your life…a good thing, you know? You crack open your Bible, but where do you go? The Old Testament or New Testament? Old Testament today? Maybe somewhere like Psalm 116:1-2, 5?
1 I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
2 Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
Isn’t that refreshing? It’s good to know that our God is like that.
I wonder, however, if you would think to peek into the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT. You know, the ones full of laws and regulations) to find renewed strength and closeness with God?
I joked with Marc recently about doing a devotion from Leviticus. Ha, no one would really do a devotion focusing on a hard-to-read, complex and irrelevant book like that! As it turns out, God thought I should. Not because I want to be hardcore and preach on the Law, but because like the Psalm above says, God is good and so very close to us!
The Old Testament (OT), and Leviticus specifically, can be complex and hard-to-read, but it is most certainly not irrelevant. But why is it that we don’t always turn there for encouragement? Why is it that the OT is often written off? Jesus didn’t think it should be. He and His followers quoted it all the time. Peter, quoting Lev 11:44-45, challenged us to be holy, because God is holy. What’s that look like? Lev 19:18 tells us, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Hmm, just like Jesus told us. If He didn’t think the OT was irrelevant, I suppose we shouldn’t either. God wants us to experience the thrill of following Him! Let me say that again…the THRILL of following Him. The OT is full of incredible stories of people facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Incredible victory came when they threw caution to the wind and trusted God. Don’t you want to be a part of that thrilling story?
But what about the complex and hard to read stuff? Right after Leviticus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, it tells us not to plant our fields with two different kinds of seed. It also adds that we shouldn’t wear clothing woven from two different kinds of cloth. Hmm, what do we do with that? Could it be that God is giving another visual example of how different we should be? That we shouldn’t mix with stuff that has nothing to do with God? Has God been using stories and visuals all throughout the Bible to show us what He’s like? Remember, Jesus used the same strategy in the New Testament in parables. Does the saying, “An earthly story with a heavenly meaning” ring a bell? Like the Psalmist above points out, God is a very hands-on God. He’s involved in our lives in ways we’ll never know. The overarching idea in the Bible (Old and New Testament) is that as God’s people, we’re different, we’re special – we’re His. God goes to any length to show us this. Whether giving Old Testament Israelites visuals to remind them they’re different, or sending His only Son to die on a cross for our sins, God is painting a beautiful picture of love and redemption. Remember, He’s not willing that any should parish.
So, don’t write off what might seem boring or irrelevant. Next time you read something in the OT, ask yourself what God had in mind for YOU. It’s incredible that He had us in mind thousands of years ago when the OT was written. God is so good, even when we don’t understand Him.
I think it’s fitting to end with the words of the Psalmist we started with:
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
Our thanks to Kyle Sargent, Pastor of Student Ministries at Quaboag Valley Baptist Church in Brookfield, MA, for bringing us this month’s devo! Kyle was the leader of a new group in 2012 to workcampNE, where he was instrumental in leading his resident to Christ! We look forward to spending another week with him in 2013!
Here are a couple testimonies of former campers to get our Testimony section off to a start…
“workcampNE has been such a blessing to me over the years. I have made so many new friends and it is truly humbling to see and hear about the life changing stories of the residents and campers. It is no surprise that past campers continue to come back because of the joy it brings us to work on peoples’ homes and God always meets us there.”
Lisa M., CO, Intern/Camper
“To say workcampNE has been a place where my faith has been built up would not be doing it justice. I was in 8th grade my very first year of camp, and now as a sophomore in college I can still say, and perhaps with even more confidence, that workcamp is relevant and life-changing to people of all ages and of all different walks because authentic servanthood does not tire (except maybe in the physical sense, but in the most satisfying way) and teaches us about love in the fullest sense. I am eternally grateful and eternally changed because of how God has used me in workcamp and how God has used workcamp in me.”
Christine L., NH/IL, Lincoln Christian University student
“God speaks loud and clear at workcampNE. He will call you to put yourself aside in order to worship more, serve harder, and love bigger. Workcamp is one week out of the year to totally focus on God’s call to serve. It’s also a place that teaches you to not stop there.” Emily G., Rockingham Christian Church Youth Leader