Category Archive Christian Living

ByEmily

Why I Will Not Pray for Patience (and the Biblical loopholes that make it okay!)

WARNING: This post is gonna make you itch!

Ahhhh….patience. Sometimes just the word itself can give me the heebie jeebies, not to mention the action it requires. Surely I am not alone in this!

I grew up in the church hearing saints say things such as, “I refuse to pray for patience,” or “I will never pray for patience again!” Then there were the holier saints who would say, “Now, Sister, patience is a virtue,” or “God is wanting to teach me to wait on Him so I’m praying for patience.”

I remember witnessing some of those saints that prayed for patience go through trials and tribulations almost immediately. If that’s what praying for patience got you then I wanted no part of it! So I decided to join the first group of saints.

Of course I was a teenager when I made that decision. I have since matured, not only physically, but spiritually. I began to read the Bible to get to know the author and not just to check it off my To Do List. I began to form a relationship with God that became more than just 3 church services a week. I fell in love with Jesus, the Savior of my soul.

In that process of spiritual growth (that thankfully continues daily) I started to look back over my teenage years and see things from a different perspective. I began to study those same saints with a new appreciation. They didn’t just go through trials and tribulations. They survived them! I realized patience and waiting on God made sense and helped them see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt a twinge of guilt for the stance I had taken.

So I did it. I worked up the courage and bravely prayed for patience.

And that’s when my youngest daughter, Adah, came home from school with head lice.

If you’ve never dealt with head lice, bless your soul. If you have, then you completely understand where I’m coming from.

This Mama went through the stages of grief faster than a getaway car at a bank robbery! There were tons of tears while cutting off several inches of thick, tangled hair to ease the process of cleaning it, yet we still weren’t done until midnight. And we can’t forget all the store bought and natural remedies (the smell of mayonnaise in your hair takes forever to go away!), along with endless laundry.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know we aren’t above head lice. That’s not the issue. The issue is the effort you have to put in to getting rid of it! Especially when it does not want to go away. It’s quite costly and extremely time consuming. One might even say it demands…*ahem*…patience.

It was on a Tuesday and she had to miss school the rest of the week. And although I had taken precautions by treating my own hair, my husband still ended up having to clean and scrub my scalp because they had somehow survived enough to show up in my hair anyway. It was a nightmare.

My Light at the End of the Tunnel

That following weekend, I had more tears of frustration streaming down my cheeks as my husband took the time to comb the nits out of my hair. I looked up into his eyes and said, “This is all my fault. I decided to pray for patience last week.” Then surprisingly, we both began to laugh.

We love the Happy Goodmans and had been listening to Vestal sing “Won’t it be Wonderful There” earlier in the week. At that point I started to sing it, however, I changed the lyrics from “Won’t it be wonderful there, having no burdens to bear” to “Won’t it be wonderful there, having no lice in your hair!” The girls joined in the singing and giggling with us. It felt amazing to have laughter through the tears.

I began to appreciate my spiritual maturing all the more because I was able to see God’s hand, even in the trial. Praying for patience may have opened the door for extra testing, but I believe being brave enough to pray for it allowed us to find joy in the midst of a stressful situation.

That being said, once it was all over and done with and nary a nit was to be seen, I decided to rejoin the first group of saints and no longer felt guilty about it.
I truly believe it was a lesson in which God revealed to me why it isn’t necessary to pray for patience. He showed me two reasons straight from the Bible that are so simple, I should have already known. And I am going to share these Biblical truths with you right now!

Are you ready?

  1. Galatians 5: 22-23 says, “ 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (NLT)

The Bible tells us that we are to be walking in the Spirit, not the flesh. If we are walking according to the Spirit, then we should be producing the fruit of the Spirit, patience included! Therefore, we should already be walking in patience because we are followers of Christ, not having to pray for it to show up.

  1. James 1:3 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

I don’t know about you all, but my faith isn’t perfect. It is tried quite often, and according to James, that means patience is being produced.

 

Remember when I said I formed a relationship with God? Remember when I mentioned falling in love with Jesus, His son? Because of that, His Holy Spirit is my teacher and takes me to scriptures in the Bible, giving me understanding. For that I am beyond grateful. It’s freeing to know that I don’t have to pray for patience…instead I am expected to apply the Word and practice it.

Instead of praying for patience, we should be practicing it.

 

I’m not saying that you should never pray for patience, but to this day when someone mentions patience, Adah is quick to tell them, “If you pray for patience you’re gonna get head lice!” 😉

 

*DisclaimerThis article is in no way meant to lessen the true hardships people go through. I could never compare the frustrations of head lice to the death of a loved one, divorce, etc. In the grand scheme of life, a week of dealing with head lice was no big deal. However, I do believe that God will see you through even those true hardships and give you joy and peace in the midst of hurt and chaos.

**Author’s note:  I was very blessed to have my mom, Ann, and friend, Lynn, help with the process of treating our heads and home during that dreadful week. I would have been insane without them! Also, it was the ONE time in my life I remember being caught up on laundry. I believe God knew I needed to be caught up so I wouldn’t be that much more behind when it came time to wash all the bed clothes, etc. He takes care of even the smallest details.

ByKaren

Praise Him In The Hallway

If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you are sure to have seen the meme/photo of a hallway that says: “Until God opens the door, praise Him in the hallway”. Overall, it’s a very good quote… But it got me thinking. My mind and my spirit started doing somersaults together.

Many times, we wait and wait for God to open closed doors. Have you ever stopped to think that you could be waiting or knocking on the wrong door? Most hallways have more than one door and if you have chosen the one that is not meant for you, you will be doing a lot of waiting. What if you chose to put away your will and wants and fully trust God to open the right doors at the right time?

There are some doors that God keeps closed for our good. He always knows what’s best and will never lead us in the wrong direction. So while you’re standing in the hallway, keep your options open, and get your praise on!

ByEmily

One Word 2017- Hungry

We are 4 months in to 2017 and my One Word for this year has been more persistent than any of my other One Words chosen in years past.

I actually began to pray about my #oneword2017 at the close of 2016 and thought I had the perfect one. Then one day around the last week of December, God said, “Hungry. This is your word.” Like I said before, this One Word has not left me alone.

And y’all, I am so okay with that.

This kind of hungry isn’t the kind where I run through McDonald’s and grab a cheeseburger. This kind of hungry isn’t the kind where I can pop a TV dinner in the microwave and wait a few minutes. This isn’t even the kind of hungry where I can slave over a home cooked meal and eat with my family and be full.

No. This kind of hungry is a spiritual hunger that only God can satisfy. But no, I will never truly be satisfied. Cause when God fills this hunger, I only become hungrier for Him to fill it some more, and more, and more. And again, I am so okay with that.

True hunger = desperate!

When you are sincerely hungry you do whatever it takes to eat. Just ask the homeless man who digs through trash or dumpster dives. It’s the same spiritually…when you are hungry, you are willing to do whatever it takes.

I always chuckle when I scroll through my Facebook news feed and see the meme that says something along the lines of, “I hate it when I go to the kitchen and there’s no food– only ingredients.” I can totally relate to that. Listen when I say this girl loves food and loves it to be available 24/7.

But when you are truly hungry, really reallllly hungry, you grab those ingredients and get to cooking! It’s either that or starve.

Many times in the natural we gorge ourselves and live like gluttons. Why is it that we live the complete opposite spiritually and we tend to let our spirit man starve? It makes no sense, yet this is true for most Christians. It’s so easy on Sundays because we run into our church services and someone else has done all the work. The meal has already been prepared, we sit down, eat, and leave. What about Monday through Saturday? We’re too lazy to feed ourselves so we starve the spirit. We don’t want to dig in to the word or seek God in prayer and because of our complacency we are leaving ourselves to be spiritually dead.

NO. MORE.

Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Luke 6:21 says, “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.” (emphasis my own)
Psalm 107:9 says, “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

God wants us to be hungry because He longs to fill that hunger.

There has never been a time that my husband has went to his mama’s house hungry and left hungry. Why? Because when she sees that he’s hungry, she says, “What do you want? Let me fix it for you.” And then she begins the process of making sure her child gets filled. She’s more than happy to feed him. When my babies are hungry I don’t make them stay that way. I’m glad to feed them and watch them grow. So it is with God! He’s more than happy to feed and fill His children any time they show up hungry.

I have been in the presence of the Lord. I have tasted of His goodness. And because of that, I have decided that it’s up to me to stay hungry enough that I’m willing to do whatever it takes so He can fill me over and over. Like a drug addict constantly chasing that next high, I will allow my hunger to fuel my chase of a fulfilling God.

Just like a baby starts with milk, then moves on to milk with cereal, then moves on to baby food, then one day Mama gives that baby a little taste of mashed potatoes… There’s no turning back when baby has had a taste of the good stuff.

When you’ve had the good stuff you’ll never be satisfied with anything else.

I’ve tasted the good stuff and I’m hungry for more!

What about you? Did you pick a word for 2017? If so, tell us how it’s going!

ByAngie

Don’t Scratch! Scriptures To Cleanse Itching Ears (Part 1)

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 KJV

Have you ever had a sore that just itched? You tried so hard not to scratch it, but eventually, you give in and do. Sometimes you are so careful not to scratch while awake, but do so while sleeping and wake up to a bigger sore? What happened? Did you get an infection? We all know what happens with an infection if untreated… Sepsis can poison the blood and/or the infection can reach the heart. If continually untreated, it can eventually lead to death. This can happen quickly, or very slowly, but an infection can not be ignored. However, if we don’t scratch, we can prevent it from spreading.

Right now, all across the world, infection is quickly spreading through the church due to itching ears being scratched.

It begins with a little tingle. A little bit of falsehood that doesn’t even seem like it may matter. From there it grows into a doctrine that contradicts scripture but is presented in a way that seems right because it has been garnished with twisted out of context scripture.

BEWARE! Do not let this infection spread into your heart and soul! Clean those itching ears and stop the spread of infection with cleansing scriptures from the Word of God!

The Word of God is the medicine that can cleanse and cure this infection. Here are some scriptures to apply to your itching ears:

So and so wrote a book, it’s like an extension of the Bible…

Revelation 22: 18-19

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
First and foremost, everything that we allow ourselves to believe must align with the Word of God. If it is not in the Bible, then it is not scripture. God often gives authors knowledge, prophets a word to share, and whispers to the heart of the believer… However, if it does not align with scripture, it is not from God. Period. There are religions out there that believe they can add to the Bible, rewrite it, and call it irrelevant. While there are many scriptures that warn against this, this passage has a powerful punch and proves that there is no argument against God’s written Word. Also, with a warning like that, your temptation to even do so should be quenched.

Being a Christian is no longer politically correct, so we need to update some things…

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Many like to sugar coat the verses they have read and change them to fit what they need it to be. They will state that the Bible is outdated and no longer the case.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

If He is the same yesterday, today, and forever… then His Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change, nor does He lie. If the Father, Son, or even the Holy Spirit were to change something, which they don’t, it would change all throughout time. There is no wrapping your head around it because it just isn’t done. So no, the Bible and what we are expected to follow as Christians may not be politically correct, but it IS relevant and it does NOT change.

Jesus said you’re not supposed to judge anyone

Matthew 7:1-5

1  Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Yeeeeaaaahhh… That’s not what He’s saying here. People like to quote that first verse and completely throw out the rest of the Bible…

Matthew 7:15-20

15  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Oh, look, in the SAME chapter! We are to check the fruit!

James Chapter 3

I am unable to post all of that here, so please read that on YouVersion or in your own Bible.

Now, I will say this… it is NOT our job to condemn or shun a person. It is our job to LOVE a person. While at times we are called to correct another Christian (NOT A SINNER), we are to do so in love. If you’re unsure about what that means, then simply don’t attempt it until you are able to receive better teaching on the subject. (By the way, God will not call you to do this very often…) However, yes, we are to judge their fruit. The warning at the beginning of Matthew chapter 7 is kind of a warning to you that people are going to be watching you as well, so clean up your own house and keep it that way… Especially if you are in a place of leadership.

I can live however I want as long as I believe in God. I’m a good person, so I will go to Heaven. God would never cast anyone to hell.

Matthew 7:13-14

 13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:21-29

21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Revelation 3:13-22

13  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 20:12-15

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
No. Nope. Not what the Bible says… and those are only a handful of many supporting scriptures.

Well, that is all I have for today. Use these scriptures generously and as often as needed to treat any symptoms that cause your soul discomfort. I will follow up with more as needed.

ByKaren

Treasures Of The Heart

Do you remember when you were a child and you had that one little thing that was only yours and you didn’t really like to share it? Or maybe a rabbit’s foot, a new shiny coin that you were reluctant to spend, or those special scented stickers or pencils that always seemed to disappear when you finally got one?

My little sister always cherished the little, tiny pebbles from the gravel driveway that were kind of marbled white, ivory, or very tannish peach in color. She would spend hours picking them out to collect them as her “treasure” because they were so pretty compared to the normal, every day, reds and browns of gravel color. And she really did treasure them. There were times when she and a cousin would fight over who would get to keep those treasured pieces of rock.

My family is a treasure to me. A treasure that I truly value. We are living in a day where many people have thrown family values out the window. They have taken the Cay Sera Sera mentality of “whatever will be, will be”. They don’t treasure others anymore and they sure don’t treasure that we have a loving God, who is ready and there for us to call upon at any given moment.

As much as it saddens me to see so many take this approach, we can not fathom the pain that it must cause our Heavenly Father. To see things gone amuck from the way it’s supposed to be. People simply do not care about other people, nor do they treasure the gift of life in general.

We are a treasure in God’s eyes. He sees each of us as unique individuals, created in His image. His word tells us that He is a jealous God. He doesn’t want to share you with the cares of this world or with the devil. He wants you to turn your eyes upon Him for every need, every care, every doubt, every praise, to love, to worship, to adore, to treasure!

Take a moment to search your heart. What do you treasure there? Is your heart set on things above or the things of this world?

ByAngie

Scripture Prints – FREE PRINTABLES!

How about some adorable free prints with some of your favorite scriptures on them?

Be sure to check out the matching Free Printable Prayer List on our sister site, Women On The Warpath!

Download your free printables here!

 

We also have the Pray Without Ceasing print available on products in our Women Bringing Heaven store. Check them out!

ByDanielle

Seeing The Light Through It All

It’s been 17 months since my son went to Heaven.

A piece of my heart left my body and went to Heaven with him. I’ve learned so much these last months. I’ve learned the goodness of our great God. I’ve learned to be still and listen and more importantly hear. When Brian first died I was angry, no angry doesn’t cover it. I was livid. I could not understand how God would let this happen. That 1st Sunday back at church we sat in the over flow room and I cried the entire time. In my head I was screaming at God. At one point I stopped crying. I clearly heard God say my Son hung from a tree too. Brian is with my Son. You will always know where he is now. (There were many months I did not know if Brian were alive or not.)

It Is Well

I started hearing God’s voice saying small sweet loving things to me. Friends telling me how Loved I am. Telling me that our God is not a God of confusion, He is a God of Love. I hadn’t opened my Bible in a very long time. I opened my Bible 2 weeks ago, I read the book of John. I see things differently now. My faith is much stronger and I confidently know where my son is. Brian and I had a conversation 8 weeks before he died. I hadn’t talked to him in almost 2 years. (Drugs, alcohol, bad life choices, his choice to not have me in his life) He called me. He was at rock bottom and wanted a new start. He was willing to get himself here and go to a Christian mission to recover. We had a conversation about God. I said to him I know you say that you don’t believe in God, but I really think you are just angry with Him. My boy broke down and said he was so angry at God that this isn’t how his life was supposed to be. We talked everyday, several times a day before he died. My son knew God & knew how loved he is. In his death he has accomplished what he wanted to in life. Brian would give anyone anything they needed, whether he could afford it or not.

My family has some things in Brian’s memory. Our church has been going to the public servants of our town to thank them for all that they do. I was asked if I could help with the police officer luncheon. I have been wanting to find a away to thank them for their kindness on that night they had to come tell us. It blessed me so much to bless them. My youngest daughter walked the suicide awareness walk.

I can listen & hear people. I can listen & hear God. Now don’t get me wrong, God still has to show me things several times before I get it. I get it much sooner nowadays. Now don’t get me wrong, I wish my son was here with me. I don’t want any family to feel this grief, to feel this loss. It is horrific! Mental illness is a taboo subject that no one wants to talk about, that no one wants to ask for help.

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Sometimes I think my grief is jealousy. Brian IS in Heaven. I am here on earth.

 

God is good! All the time.

ByJudye

I Choose To Love

What’s on MY mind?

The times in which we are living. It doesn’t take a Doctorate Degree in anything to understand these days are troubling and crazy. The enemy of our soul would have us all hate one another & take offense at any and everything. Intelligent conversation has been replaced by “I am offended” diatribes by some with the proverbial “chip on their shoulder”. Sad. Afraid of offending this one, that one, or anyone causes division.

I Choose To Love

Here it is. This is me. I love people. I love dogs, cats, orangutans, baby goats, parakeets, and I have rescued a writhing earthworm on a hot sidewalk and placed him back into a shady patch of grass. That’s me. Offenses will come to ALL from all sides. Without the love of God we would all destroy each other because of “offenses”. All of us matter to God. ALL of us. I have been to the hot. putrid dumps of Mexico City where orphaned children live surviving on garbage that was a breeding ground for flies. Their wardrobe was discarded smelly clothing. I have washed their dirty little feet and placed brand new clean socks & shoes on them. Bragging??? A thousand times No. It did not matter their color, breeding, odor, or intellect.

I have been guarding my speech of late due to the cataclysmic gulf between races – all races. Beloved that should not be. Please don’t be so offended – any of us – Beloved, did He not say “offenses will come”? Do not let the enemy of your soul divide and conquer us! I have been to the hot, steamy rain forest in West Africa and held the sweating, feverish babies close to me. This white woman climbed a high hill in Ghana to deliver the Word of The Lord on a certain day to a certain small congregation of believers. First white person to ever go there.

Love MUST overtake hateful prejudice. Do not tell me I am racist because I am a different color from you. There is enough on all sides to cause more division.

Here’s the crux of the entire thing. We have a common enemy – his strategy has always been to “divide & conquer”- read your Bible – his aim is to divide, kill & destroy.

I refuse to hate. I refuse to give in to an enemy that hates me.

I choose to love you.

ByAngie

Will You Cry Out With Us On September 23rd?

Have you heard of Cry Out 16?

this-is-your-night

 

On September 23rd, women all over the United States will be uniting in prayer together in a simulcast prayer event.

 

You can find more information, along with locations near you, on their website: http://www.cryout16.com

 

Some of us at Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven will be participating in Cry Out 16 simulcast events at our own churches. We’d love for you to join us!

If you are near Water Valley, KY, you can join Emily, Karen, Judye, and other ladies at Pentecostal Tabernacle. You can find more information on their website by clicking here.

If you are near San Bernardino, CA, you are invited to join Diania (I’m trying to convince her to join us back on RSHTH 😉 ), Shani, and myself (Angie) at Trinity Full Gospel Church. We have a Facebook event set up for this location and you can find more information by going to that page by clicking here.

It is time for us to CRY OUT! Join us in prayer for our nation, our families, and for REVIVAL!

Women On The Warpath

PS: We’d love it if you joined us in our Intercessory Prayer Facebook group, Women on the Warpath!

ByAngie

Is Church Camp Worth It? Part 4: Well, Is It?

This blog post is the fourth installment of a series on church camp. You can find the first post about Kids Camp by clicking this link here, the second post about Junior High Camp by clicking on this link, and the third post about Senior camp can be found by clicking this link.

Disclaimer:

I should have stated this from the beginning… No one asked me to write this series. I actually had no intention of blogging about church camp at all. Last Thursday, I was working on homeschool planning for this upcoming school year and praying over our family’s direction when I felt that I needed to write this all out. It hit me out of nowhere, I walked in to my laptop, started typing, and what you see is the result. Hopefully I have not upset anyone with my doing this… But what you see is honest and from my heart. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on… shall we?

Is Church Camp Worth It 600 Blog Size Wrap Up

It’s a TON of work…

Alright, so you’ve heard all about what goes on at each camp. Now let me respond to some concerns you may be having… You know that it is very involved to pack everything necessary for one camper to be prepared while on the campground. The cost seems like just one more expense… And what about the fundraising? School is about to start back up when camp is going on and there are other things that you could be doing with your child’s time. So why bother with church camp?

Well, yeah, it is time consuming to pack for camp. You aren’t just packing a suitcase as though you are going to stay in a hotel. Other than food, you need to pack almost as though you are going full blown camping. But would you do it without complaint to send your child to another camp? Scouts camp, sports camp, science camp…

The cost, well, this depends… What campground are you going to? There are some really big camps out there, all frills and they still offer a spiritual experience for you kids and teens. SoCal Youth church camp is pretty basic in the way of amenities, bringing the costs down to be much lower than most others. Nothing fancy, but still nice. Do the campers complain? Not a peep!

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The joys of fundraising…

Not everyone can afford to send their kids to camp… Fundraising, if done properly, does not have to be as daunting. My personal opinion? It should begin the week that camp ends for the following year. There are many creative ways to go about this and they don’t have to be boring. One idea would be a monthly sponsorship… If you have an idea of how much it will cost to send a kid or teen to camp you can break that down in to monthly increments that if a church member felt lead, they could contribute to. Need more ideas? A quick search on Pinterest will bring more than enough options.

One idea that we used at our church this last year was a Bible Read-A Thon. Just like a regular read-a-thon, but with the Bible. (Hmm, maybe I’ll post the forms I made up for this soon…) Another was that our kids had a “concert”. The music from this service was put on a CD with other recorded music of our kids singing and sold for a donation. We had bake sales, sold candy and soda, had penny marches… And we just barely made it. Of course, we didn’t start getting serious with fundraising until April. Imagine if we had started sooner!

But you’re busy. Your kids are busy. Your church is busy. EVERYONE is BUSY!

I know. I’m busy too. This is where you have to decide if it is a time investment that is as important to your child’s development as soccer, a trip to an amusement park, or a few days at home playing video games. Which brings us to the big question…

Is church camp worth it?

YES!!!! Definitely!!!

You probably knew by now that this was going to be my answer… Right?

There is something about getting this many kids together from different churches… (big emphasis on that last part, not just the kids from one church, but many…) Giving them a safe place to have fun, make new friends, and experience the outdoors… And then standing back and watching God bless them in a life changing way that will impact the rest of their lives. With no where to be the next day and no responsibilities to go home to each night, kids let all their worship out in chapel. Yes. Church camp is definitely worth it.

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But… but… but you said that you had honest opinions on what would make church camp better.

How can that be? How can I have suggestions to make it better and still say it is worth it?

Well, sit down and take a deep breath before you read this… My opinions of what would make it better have a whole lot more to do with those of us sending our kids up there, not those running the camp.

I know. Ouch. It is our fault that our kids are not getting more out of camp…

Let me explain:

  • First and foremost: Camp is NOT a reward and churches need to stop treating it as such. Camp is a REVERSED MISSION FIELD! Instead of us sending out missionaries, we are sending our kids to the missionaries. They are meeting Jesus, learning about God’s love, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. The main focus of camp, even with all the fun stuff, is that these kids have a personal relationship with all 3 members of the God head. Would you say to someone, “If you do this, that, and the other, you can get to know Jesus. But you have to prove to us that you’ve earned it… and you just don’t seem like you deserve it.” No way! While sports and other activities make an impact on our kids, so does camp. If it seems to you that church camp would benefit your child, and for most it would, then it should be held to the same regard.
  • You need to follow up with the kids in your church that attended camp. Don’t just send them home and forget them. Check in with them and see how they are doing. If they don’t always attend your church, reach out and invite them to services and events. Ask those that are regular attendees about camp throughout the year. Don’t let that fire die!
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  • More PASTORS need to attend camp with their churches! Not every pastor can physically handle it, and that I completely understand. But hey, what about associate pastors? Elders? Kids and teens need to have a connection with their church leadership before they graduate high school and this is a great way to build that! Another great reason would be so that the shepherd can tend to their flock… Just because you send grown ups to camp, it does not mean that they behave as grown ups or that they are able to reign in everyone they have been given charge over. (Remember that pranking issue?) If you were a kid or teen, would you want to embarrass your pastor and church right in front of them? Most wouldn’t. Can’t go? Give those that are going (kids, teens, and older volunteers) a good pep talk, encourage them to have a great time and draw closer to God, tell them you can’t wait to hear all about it when they return and maybe have a youth night where everyone tells Pastor what they liked best… and ask them nicely before they leave to remember that they are representatives of your church.
  • Each camper needs a leader from their church that they can relate to. This is a BIG deal! Boys need a Godly man to relate to and watch over them. Girls need a Godly woman. Someone that will pray with them in the altar… Some kids are okay praying with their parents. Some kids need someone else. Churches need to send more than 1 person per church. At least 2… if not more. Afraid you are sending too many workers? Remember that there will be small churches up there that will not be able to send as many and consider that leaders are always needed in the altar. (All workers are subject to a background check and vetted by their pastor.)
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  • Another cry for volunteers… Are you a nurse? A short order cook? Are you trained as a lifeguard? Camps need these! Pray about volunteering! Even with a great pool area, our camp did not have swimming this year because we were unable to find a lifeguard that was available.
  • Parents: Please send enough money with your kids and teens! Some kids showed up with only $10. That’s enough to get through about 1 day of Junior High or Senior Camp. Send bottled water, as they need to remember to drink more than they do at home if the elevation is different than what is at home. Talk to them about keeping their money safe and not losing it. See if your camp offers a bank. SoCal Youth offered a bank for Kids Camp but not for the Teen Camps. (I heard plenty of complaints about there not being one for the older kids. I don’t know if this is something that will change or not.)
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  • BRING THE SONGS HOME! When those from your church and family have returned, ask them about the songs that were sung. Which ones were their favorites? Download them and play them often. Worship leaders: Add them to your lineup. Sing them during altar calls. (Yes, altar calls. Bring them back. More on that in another post…) Keep those memories of what God did for them alive! We all know how a song can bring back a memory… Remind them of what God did for them at camp!
  • Pray over each and every camper and worker that you are sending to camp: over their hearts, for their safety… PRAY THAT THEY DO NOT GET SICK! Remember how I said in that first post that it seemed like the ones who needed to be there most got sick? They may not even have to go home, but they may miss a chapel service that they need to be in. The girl from our church that went to Senior Camp worked harder than any of the other campers from our church to get there. She LOVED chapel! She became sick on the last day and when I arrived at the campground I asked her if she wanted to go home. Nope, she wanted to stay for chapel because she knew that last service was going to be amazing. Poor thing became so sick right at the beginning of the service and had to spend the next several hours in the nurses station just to be well enough to handle the ride home. She would have greatly benefited from this service and it broke our hearts! Pray hedges of protection around those that are going, and keep praying until they come home!

 

Now, for some other thoughts:

I know, you’re sick of hearing what I have to say by now… But hear me out. Please.

And ordained visit…

Imagine my excitement when it worked out that Sherry, along with her Mom, daughter, and friend, would be visiting Southern California… I rarely get to see her and she is one of my rocks. I mentioned in the first post that Sherry and I have a history at camp. That her parents were our District Children’s Leaders for most of my childhood… That our Grandparents worked together as pastors in the same district for many years, forging a close friendship, and working hard to build up our campground and attend camp with their churches.

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So imagine how much more excited I was when I told Sherry that I wouldn’t be home to see her because I would be at Junior High Camp and she basically said, “Even better! We’ll come up there!” And they did! At the time I didn’t think of the timing being more perfect other than the memories we all shared there. (And believe me, hugging Sherry’s neck in the quad, worshiping with her in morning chapel, and visiting over a Bethel Burger was all fabulous.)

Sherry and Angie

But God had a plan… Their visit wasn’t a fluke. It probably sounds to you as though it worked out almost like a cheesy movie, but in reality it packed a punch! Sherry’s Mom, Debbie, poured in to some of us while there. She reminded me of some of the original vision for the camp and told me some things I did not know. For example: Did you know that 80% of missionaries receive their calling to the mission field while at church camps? That’s a HUGE number!

A Lifelong Impact

Many of us adults that were in attendance at camp then got to talking… Those of us that had attended camps had received part or all of our calling while at camp!

Some of us that had backslid later in our teens or as adults recalled times while away from God that we were in a dire place and remembered a moment from camp. Whether it was time in the altar, a conversation with a counselor, a song sung in chapel, or a sermon, those memories started flooding back and we began to reach out to God and make our way back to Him.

When I was a camper we had a phrase, “Take the mountain home with you.”  Take it to school. Take it with you wherever you go. Don’t ever let it go. Never lose what God gave you on the mountain. I promise you, the kids that go to church camp take that mountain home with them.

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A Special Calling

Between Sis. Debbie and a few other “camp veterans” in attendance, I realized how important return volunteers are. Many of these workers were people that had been working at camp when I was a camper. Sis. Ross had been there when I was a little girl. I remembered her praying with me in chapel and doing bed checks at lights out. This year, she was still there working hard along with others, showing us “newbies” the ropes. I gleaned so much from their knowledge and experience!

Some people are called to work at church camp every year. Are you one of them? You don’t know until you pray about it and try it one year. You may be hooked! I will say this, I get why my Grandpa loved it so much now. Whenever the Lord allows, I will be at camp working in one way or another.

So now, after all that, what do you think?
Is Church Camp worth it?

Coming soon…
What songs did we sing at SoCal Youth 2016 Camps?
Stay in touch to find out!

And tomorrow… come back tomorrow for our 5 year Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!!!