By Linda Rex
This morning I was reading about an enormous fire in the state of Idaho at Sun Valley. This wildfire is threatening many homes in the mountain resort community, causing many to flee as firefighters attempt to contain the massive blaze.
I was reminded that as a child I used to have nightmares about being caught in one of the wildfires that often frequented the southern California foothills near where I grew up. A fire such as this would burn through the hills above us at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, often burning homes that were in its path. Sometimes the Santa Anita Winds would feed the fire, multiplying the damage it created to catastrophic proportions.
As a child, the loss to fire of all that I knew—home, family, belongings—was a frightening prospect. The only thing that eased the horror of such a prospect was my fledgling faith in a God who would take care of us. Otherwise, it was a concept that for me meant the end of the world as we know it. Having heard that one day the world would end in conflagration, I was rather frightened by the prospect of such a terrifying end.
So why did Jesus say that he came “to set fire to the world, and I wish it were already burning?” God himself is described as a consuming fire. Many scriptures point to the day when all that is evil will be consumed in the fire of God’s wrath. Is God such a wrathful, angry God that he looks forward to burning everything and everyone up?
Not only did Jesus say that he came to set the world on fire. He also said that he had a baptism he had to undergo and he was constrained or bound to complete it before the world could be set ablaze. The baptism he was facing was his own baptism by fire, the crucifixion. Jesus knew that when the time was right he would be unjustly accused and executed like a criminal by the leaders of his own people. In this event, as the One who is fully God and fully man, he would take upon himself all that every human being had ever done or would do that was deserving of death and bear our punishment in our place. He was working diligently every moment toward that end, to complete his commitment to all of humanity to save them from their sins. What drove Jesus to do this was the love of God for all the people he had created to bear his image. God’s great love bore the full extent of God’s wrath upon himself in our place. In Christ, God burned away all our sin, self and evil, not only by his sinless life, but also by his suffering, death and resurrection.
Sometimes a fire reaches a point of such intensity that it cannot be put out, but must be left to burn itself out. A firestorm is a fire out of control. We know that fire consumes all that is burnable in its path. It requires both flammable substances and oxygen in order to burn. Water or other substances that cut off its access to oxygen will snuff a fire out. The fire of God’s love is like a firestorm. It cannot be quenched—it is an unquenchable fire. We may do our best to attempt to quench the fire of God’s love. We may even turn away from and reject his love. But God’s fire will have its way, and will burn away all that mars the perfect image of him in each and every one of us.
After Jesus’ supreme sacrifice, the disciples gathered together to pray. They anticipated Jesus keeping a promise he had made to them—that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist had pointed his followers to Jesus, who would baptize with “the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Now Christ’s followers looked forward to Jesus doing exactly that. The Spirit, when given, was manifested as flames of fire, lighting on each of the believers. Through each of these people who received the Holy Spirit, God set the world ablaze with the fire of his love. And he still does this today.
As a person opens him or herself up to Jesus Christ and his Spirit, God goes to work in that person’s heart and life, and he begins to burn away all that is not in agreement with God’s nature, heart and life. As the flames of God’s love consume all that is not godly, a believer begins to change, from the inside out. It is a process, a journey that is life-long. No matter the ups and downs of life, God never stops working. The fire of his love never changes, though we may live and act in ways that attempt to quench it. When we trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, when we keep our focus on him, each day sharing in his death and resurrection, dying to self and living to God, we are transformed from our natural glory into ever-increasing glory that reflects our divine Origin.
As believers grow up into Christ, they will begin to change. They will not think the way they used to. What interested them before will not always interest them, because their interests and thoughts will be governed by the Spirit of the God who made them, rather than by what their carnal nature may desire. They will grow up into the image of God they were created to be—they will begin to take on their true identity, being as they were meant to be. They will come fully alive. And the fire lit in their hearts and lives will begin to spread to those around them.
So we see in the book of Acts how the fire Jesus lit in the hearts of his followers began to spread throughout Judea, Samaria and then on into the areas beyond. And followers of Jesus can be found today in many nations throughout the world. Where his people have gone, the fire of God’s love has spread, and will continue to spread as they continue to participate in the life and love of Father, Son and Spirit they were created to share in.
The Love of God is an unquenchable love, an all-consuming fire, and will not cease to work to conform all humanity into the image of God in Christ. In the end, God’s love will destroy anything and everything that stands in opposition to him and that will bring harm to his children or destroy the image of himself his children were created to manifest. This is a conflagration we do not need to fear, as we are united to the God of Love in Christ by the Spirit. This firestorm is our salvation, hope and joy. Praise God!
We praise you, God, that you are an all-consuming Fire, a Fire of Love and Life. Thank you for uniting yourself with us in Jesus so that we need not fear the fire of your wrath, but rather can enjoy the heat and cleansing power of your love. We trust you to finish what you have begun in us to bring us to wholeness in Christ. We pray in his name. Amen.
“I came to set fire to the world, and I wish it were already burning!” Luke 12:49 (NCV)
by Linda Rex
When my children were very little, I was often called upon as their mom to rescue them from a serious dilemma such as fixing their tricycle, putting the head or arm back on their doll, or saving them from the scary neighbor’s dog. All these issues were well within my ability as their mother to resolve. But on occasion they asked me to do something that was beyond my capacity as a human being such as bringing their deceased pet fish back to life. In these cases, I found myself having to explain to them that I just could not do it. This they could not understand, because in their eyes, Mom could do anything!
Ah, the disillusionment of youth when they find out mom or dad is just like themselves—imperfect and insufficient to meet their every need! But this is a life lesson we are all faced with at some point or another. To promote another human being to the place God reserves for himself alone is risky business indeed. And it often can be destructive to the one who is placed on a pedestal. It is essential to our mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical health, to recognize and admit that we are incapable of perfection, of sustaining ourselves or others, or of creating something out of nothing. Only one Being has that ability and prerogative.
The testimony of the Christian Scriptures is that God, who existed apart from and before time as Father, Son and Spirit, created all that we know today out of nothing. He did this to share with created others unlike himself yet like himself, all the blessings of the love and life of his Being. Since the beginning of time, we as human beings have questioned God’s love and good will toward us, and so have found so many ways to put barriers between us and the God who made us. We have attempted to play his role in the universe as well as our own. The results continue to be tragic.
But God said no to all that we have done in this regard and has affirmed his intention that we all share in the life and love of Father, Son and Spirit as he ordained in the beginning. So he came himself as the Word into time in the person of Jesus Christ—fully human, fully God—so that he might demonstrate his love toward us. God is making something out of nothing, and he will finish what he has begun. The proof of this lies in the glorified human form of Jesus Christ who lived, died and rose again to live forever at God’s right hand in glory.
So when we get discouraged by life and our inadequacies, when we see the impossibilities of life, when we can only see evil and destruction and despair—this is the time to remember the God who made all things out of nothing. He is not done yet. He will finish what he has begun. He will bring perfection out of our imperfection, wholeness out of our brokenness. He is our Redeemer and will redeem all things.
As we daily surrender our inadequacies, failures, sorrows and weaknesses to him and embrace the risen Christ in their stead, we will experience the transformation of our deadness into life in him. This is the promise we have in Jesus—to share in, participate in his perfected human life both now and forever. It doesn’t depend on us—it depends completely on him. We are reminded of this as we participate in communion, eating the bread and drinking the wine in remembrance of him. God knows the end from the beginning, and he has declared our salvation in Jesus Christ. And he will not fail us in this. Believe it or not.
Dear God, thank you so much for your perfect gift in Jesus Christ and the precious Spirit, who lives in us to bring to completion the perfected life of your Son in each of us. We trust you to finish what you have started in us. Our hope and our faith are fully in you and not in ourselves. Open our eyes to see you and know you for the loving, faithful, gracious God you truly are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“…God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” Romans 4:17b (NASB)
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3 (NASB)
by Linda Rex
Nothing can bring me to tears faster than to hear the story of a broken life. Growing up as I did in a church that was once insular and self-protective, I did not hear such stories very often. As I child I knew that evil and heartache were “out there” but I did not experience it in a real way as part of the life of someone I knew personally.
But no household, not even that of my family, is safe from the hardships and griefs of life. In time my family also experienced the reality of brokenness and the pain that comes from living life in a way that contradicts that which God ordained from the beginning. No one is immune from brokenness or pain or suffering. It is a part of the human condition. Our best efforts cannot protect us from experiencing the fallout from living out of ourselves, our self-determination, and our self-will.
In a culture where self is worshiped and served in every imaginable way, and people are told right and left to “have it your way,” it is no wonder so many are suffering from the tragic results of self-centered living. Freedom, when ungoverned by love (unconditional, out-going concern for others), is destructive and creates chaos and brokenness.
So, what hope do we have?
For many, the solution is found in the establishment of rules for living. They say that if you follow a particular set of rules, of principles for living, that you will never experience broken lives or families. If you keep the Ten Commandments, obey the 5 Principles, or the 7 Keys to Effective Living, that your life will be hunky-dory, full of happiness and joy.
I will not debate the value of these rules to live by here, for they serve a purpose, but I would like to point out the reality that the success of such a venture is fully dependent upon the self-discipline and self-will of the person attempting to follow them. And since the human self cannot be depended upon to do what is right and best and truly loving in every situation, the attempt is doomed from the outset. Some progress may be made and a person’s life may be significantly improved by the attempt, but the person’s inner being most likely will not be transformed in the process. Something else is needed.
If a person does not believe in a divine One who loves and cares for him or her personally, he or she will reach an impasse here. For the person’s only hope will be in a human’s ability to change or control him or herself and/or other people and circumstances. There will be a constant struggle for, or persistent denial of the need for, self-control and true compassion for others. Perhaps the person is strong of will and purpose—he or she can go on indefinitely in this condition. The person has the freedom to do so, if she or he wishes.
If a person does believe in God, then he or she is also faced with a choice. Will she or he receive the gift of the One who saved her or him, or continue in her or his own frantic efforts to handle everything by her or himself? I believe Christianity has received a black name in so many ways because Christians are frantically attempting to live a perfect, sinless life out of their own selves, on their own strength, and in their own way. It was never God’s intention for us to do this. Otherwise he would not have come in the person of Jesus Christ. He would have let the Old Testament laws stand for themselves. He would not have taken on human form. What would be the point?
But the eyewitnesses of the New Testament record tell us that Jesus Christ was a man in which the fullness of Deity lived: all of God as a human being. And in this Being, this God/man, we are made complete. God did not leave it up to us to save ourselves, to be perfect ourselves, to do what is loving and right and best on our own. He did it himself, and then offered us the opportunity to share in what he had done and is doing in Jesus Christ.
This is why the Scriptures, especially here in Colossians 2, use the expression “in Him” or “in Christ” over and over. We are to “put on Christ” or “abide in Christ.” These are all ways of saying that we share in Christ, in his perfect work which he performed in his life, his crucifixion and death, and his resurrection and ascension. It is in this relationship with God in Christ that we experience transformation and salvation, not in our human efforts to abide by a bunch of rules.
As we share in his death, we die to what we once were—our self-centered, selfish way of living and being. As we share in his resurrection, we find new life—that we are a new creation in him. This is not just a one-time event expressed through the Christian rite of baptism. It is an ongoing daily event—daily dying to self and living to Christ. Christ’s faith for our lack of faith. Christ’s love for our lovelessness. Christ’s obedience for our disobedience. This is how we put on Christ.
We share in Christ’s ascension through the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom we receive the power and the love of God, the personal presence of God within. We receive Christ’s moment-by-moment intercession for us in the presence of the Father, where he enables us to hear and receive the Word of God, and he presents our requests, our needs to God, interceding for us so we may continuously be forgiven and reconciled to God. We are given a relationship with God, not through our own efforts, but through the efforts of God, who reached down to us and brought us to himself, wiping away anything that once stood between us.
How refreshing is the wonder of grace! This is such good news that we don’t want to hear it. We prefer to continue our own efforts at self-preservation and self-glorification, even after we believe. For in receiving Christ as being all that we need, admitting we are complete in him and him alone, we have to give up all the glory to God for our wholeness and transformation. It begins with him, and is completed in him. To him be the glory! Amen.
Thank you, Father, for your great love, which you have lavished on us in your Son, Jesus Christ, and in your precious Spirit through whom you have come to dwell in human hearts. We praise you for your precious gift of a personal relationship with you, of life in you and with you, forever. To you be the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…” Colossians 2:9-10a (NASB)
by Linda Rex
I’ve often thought about the story of Mary and Martha, wondering what their relationship must have been like when Jesus wasn’t around. Was Martha one of those “managing females” who was forever telling everyone else in the house what to do, and when and how to do it? Was she like some of us who are incorrigible perfectionists who never have any peace unless everything is absolutely perfect? It’s not very hard to picture her in those roles.
Mary comes across as the quiet timid soul, who finds a deep well in Jesus and lingers there at his feet to drink in of all the spiritual richness she can. Forgotten is every other detail of life, for now her soul is being renewed and replenished in this special moment with her teacher.
Indeed, it is easy to see the simple lesson here, that it is important to focus on what really matters—our relationship with our Lord and Savior—rather than always on the mundane details of life. We have to keep our spiritual priorities straight and put God first in our lives. When we do that, it’s amazing how much better our lives will run!
But when we look at the context of these verses and take into account that Jesus was in the process of deliberately heading towards Jerusalem and his crucifixion, trying to get his disciples to understand what the future truly held for him, then we can see an underlying message that could be missed here. Jesus was calling to his disciples to follow him as the Suffering Servant Messiah with a sense of commitment—a willingness to lay down their all for his sake—a willingness to follow him to and through the crucifixion to his resurrection and new life.
A lawyer had asked him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus had told the story of the man who was left for dead and the Good Samaritan who came and cared for him and even took him somewhere and paid to ensure his care there. Through this story Jesus put the question before the lawyer, what price are you willing to pay to be rightly related to God? Are you willing to sacrifice your dignity, your spiritual purity, your time and resources, and your convenience to live in union with the lost, the least and the ones in need? Are you willing to be identified with the One the world would reject?
These are critical questions. Was Martha aware that she did not need to do a bunch of stuff in order to be rightly related to Jesus? Did she realize that she could rest fully in what Jesus had done and would do in, with and for her? Mary apparently had come to see this and so was not concerned about the other details of hospitality and household management that were of such importance to Martha.
We can reflect on what Luke wrote in his gospel and ask ourselves how well we understand the message of grace. Do we realize that in Christ, we have been fully reconciled to God, and that he is waiting for us to give up our human efforts to do all these things, and to just trust in him, in what he has done for us and will do for us in Jesus Christ, in his life, death and resurrection, and in the precious gift of the Eternal Spirit?
God is calling to us, giving us the opportunity to choose “the better thing” by embracing his gift of love and eternal life in Jesus Christ and by forsaking all other loyalties in our lives. When we choose Christ first over all else, then he goes to work to make sure the rest gets done—and we can fully trust him to finish what he has begun.
Dear God, thank you for your perfect love that you have shed out on us in Christ. We trust you, Father, to accomplish all you set your hand to do, including transforming us and making us to reflect the image of Christ. You are a glorious and faithful God and we praise you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NIV) Luke 10:41-42
by Linda Rex
I stood in the hallway of the house that was used as the food and clothing pantry I helped to get started back in Iowa, Heavenly Hands. A young woman in her twenties was talking with me and with Jo, the lady who was instrumental in growing our outreach ministry. Tears filled the young woman’s eyes as she told me about standing at the gas pump and finding she had to decide between putting gas in her car so she could go to work, or buying groceries for her children and her to eat that week. Unlike those of some of the visitors to the pantry, hers was a real story of poverty and loss. I found I too had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
Over the years I learned that what was most meaningful about participating in an outreach ministry such as this was seeing the difference we made in another person’s life, most especially when that person came to see and experience the love of God in a real way in their lives. What compensated most for the negativity of those taking advantage of God’s generosity were the stories of those people whose lives were transformed by the Holy Spirit along with these human gestures of help, prayer and support.
The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 is most often used as an instructional passage to teach us about the importance of caring for those who are lost, wounded, forsaken and/or ill. This is indeed a meaningful way to look at the passage. But I believe that it is important to consider the small detail of exactly who Jesus wanted us to understand as being our neighbor.
In Luke 10:25-29 we read about a lawyer who was testing Jesus, asking him what he should do to inherit eternal life. (Question to ponder: how does anyone “do” something to inherit something? Doesn’t it come about mostly due to how you are related to someone?) Jesus gave him the standard rabbinical answer—another question: “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” The lawyer answered by repeating the two great commandments, loving God and loving one’s neighbor. Jesus answered him, “Do this correctly, and you will live.” And then he told the story of the man who is left for dead by the side of the road, those who passed him by, and the social outcast, the Samaritan, who tended his wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for his continuing care. This was the true neighbor to the one left on the road. But let’s go a little deeper.
We find elsewhere, in Matthew 25:31-46 that when a person tends to someone who is ill, in prison, or in need, Jesus said that they are actually tending to Christ himself. In many ways, the man left for dead is a true Christ figure in this parable, not just the Good Samaritan. Do we see that in loving and caring for our neighbor, those in need or in trouble, that we are actually caring for Jesus himself? Are we willing to commit ourselves to Jesus as the Good Samaritan did to the man in the road—risking our reputation, sacrificing our time and resources, providing Jesus with care and, paying for his needs and care in a committed and ongoing way?
Taking it even further—perhaps the real question here in regards to inheriting eternal life and in caring for one’s neighbor is the question of relationship: how well and in what way are we related to Jesus Christ? Do we recognize that in him we died and rose again, and are now living a new life in him? For eternal life is this: knowing God and the One whom God sent, Jesus Christ. How well do we know him? Are we willing to lay down our lives and live in newness with him each and every day, and in such a way that we are tending for others who are in the same predicament we are in?
When we see ourselves as the one laying by the side of the road left for dead in commonality with the One who died for us as well as others, we begin to see ourselves and Jesus more clearly for who we truly are and we can begin to have greater, true compassion for others. We find that the power, the will and the heart to care for others comes not from ourselves, but from his compassion that is now ours as we trust him for it. It is Christ in us by the Holy Spirit, who is this neighbor, who cares not only for us but for each person we may encounter, and who gives us the heart and mind to truly care for God and for one another.
To truly and properly love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves requires the very person of God in Christ by the Holy Spirit living his life in us. Because he lives in us and we truly know him in this way, we then have eternal life. This is the correct answer to the lawyer’s question of what to do to inherit eternal life. There is only one way—to be rightly related to God and to truly know him and the One he sent, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our dearest and closest neighbor.
Holy God, please open our eyes to see you in a new way, as being our nearest and dearest neighbor, and to open our lives and hearts to you completely. Grant that we might truly know you and begin to live in right relationship with you and with others as you intend. Fill us with your love and compassion, we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” Luke 10:29
by Linda Rex
One of the lessons I learned as a farmer’s wife years ago was the importance of planning ahead for the harvest. I remember that we had some pasture ground that was not growing well and needed to be reseeded. Being the city girl that I was, I just figured we needed to go somewhere and buy some grass seed and plant it. Simple enough.
But it was explained to me that there were a multitude of grass types that could be planted in the pasture. And in order to have a crop that would provide the proper nutrients for our cows that would enable them to produce the proper milk and so on, we needed to plant a particular combination of grasses. Apparently it does make a big difference what type of grass seed a person sows in his or her pasture, since what he or she sows there determines what will be reaped in the end in the health and well-being of the cattle which graze there.
This lesson of reaping what you sow was rehearsed many times over for me during my years on the farm. The apostle Paul used reaping what you sow as a way of explaining the importance of setting one’s hope and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ rather than in one’s own self.
In our verses for today, Paul was talking to the Galatian church, which had members who were returning back to their Jewish practices as the substance of their faith, rather than continuing to trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. He pointed out that they did not receive their new life in the Spirit by observing certain rituals and ceremonial days, by circumcision, or by keeping the old covenant laws. They received it through faith, the faith of Christ. He went on to explain how depending upon ourselves to do what is right is futile—it does not save us. Only Christ saves us, by coming to us in the Person and presence of the Holy Spirit.
The lesson for us today is that we need to consider what we are sowing in our lives and how we are sowing it. What do we trust in day by day to ensure that everything in our lives goes the way we want it to? What are we depending upon? Do we have a tight control on ourselves, our world, our lives, our relationships? Are we counting on our ability to keep it all together and solve our problems? Are we diligently trying to make sure we are being patient enough, kind enough, good enough?
I need to ask you now: How is that going for you? Personally, it never really worked well for me. I would be surprised if it worked well for you all the time. Because God never intended you to do it all yourself. If he had intended that, he would never have come himself in the person of Christ to live in human flesh to live and die for us and be resurrected for us. What God intended was for us to be crucified with Christ and to live a new resurrected life in him. We don’t live out of ourselves, we live out of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
This is what Paul means by reaping what we sow. If we sow to our human flesh and out of our own human flesh, we will reap death and corruption. But if we sow by the Spirit, seeking and depending upon the spiritual realities in Christ, we will reap eternal life, the kingdom life we can participate in now as we live in relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. We do have hope of a new life because God has, in Christ, made us new—he has sown the spiritual seed of the Holy Spirit in us as we embrace and receive it. Let us trust in Christ and in what God is doing in us and with us by his Holy Spirit. Let’s allow him to be for us, in us and with us, all that he desires. The harvest will be an eternal blessing of living in the life and love of God as Father, Son and Spirit.
Holy God, thank you for sowing in us your perfect seed of life eternal. Transform us by your Spirit. Resurrect us even today in Christ into the new life you have for us. Begin now to remake us into your image of love you want us to reflect. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8
by Linda Rex
Recently my daughter and I returned home from spending more than a week at The Rock summer camp. This camp was held at lovely Camp Sertoma in Westfield, North Carolina, with its antique hotel, green trees and bubbling creeks. One favorite pastime in the searing heat was spending time in the pool. I made a point of visiting it as often as I could.
There were many opportunities at this camp to be challenged with something new and out-of-the-box. The high ropes, giant swing, rock wall and evening banquet all presented unique challenges for the campers. Counselors and other staff had their own challenges, but God’s Spirit was actively at work throughout the camp, bringing healing, comfort, and deliverance in many lives.
The highlight of each morning was the chapel service, where the campers met to share positive moments through shout outs, to sing praise songs, and to hear the word of God for the day. Worship director Bill Winn and his volunteers provided great music for the campers and staff to sing to. The theme for the camp was “Built on the Rock”*, and had its own camp chant to go with it. Campers or staff would shout “Built on the Rock” and the response from other campers would be “Rock On!”
Chaplain Rocky Ray led the first chapel service and talked about the way God has known and planned for each of us before the world began, and prepared for us by giving us Jesus Christ. When we were born, he began working in our lives, preparing the ground for laying the foundation of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Jeff Broadnax from Generations Ministries came for a brief visit. He gave the Tuesday chapel message and talked about how Jesus Christ is the foundation for our lives and our relationships with God and others. By joining his humanity with ours, Jesus joined himself with us in such a way that we will never be separated from him, but instead are able to participate with him in the life and love of Father, Son, and Spirit. So whatever we may be going through in our lives, we are not alone in it, but God is always with us.
As co-chaplain, I was given the privilege of leading the session on Wednesday morning. I reviewed how God prepared the ground and Jesus is the foundation, and then began to talk about how we go about building our lives on the foundation God has given. I pointed out the critical connections we have been given by God: being fully united with God in Christ forever; being given the gift and Presence of the Holy Spirit; through the Spirit being bonded with other believers and with the living Word of God. I also pointed out our need to build with quality building materials: the faith God gives to us, the hope in Christ we receive from him, and the love he pours out in our hearts that enables us to fully reflect the image of God we were created to reflect.
As an illustration of these messages, the campers and staff worked to build two small houses. One was built on a foundation of sand, while the other was built on a concrete foundation. After chapel Wednesday, the campers built the house on the sand using small logs. On top they placed a roof made of cardboard and styrofoam. Later in the day, some staff members constructed the other house out of similar logs and a metal roof, nailed and connected together and connected to the foundation.
On Thursday, camp director Stephen Webb gave the message. He talked about the storms of life God allows to come out way and how they can help us to see how well we have built our house. They help us to see where we have built on sand, and begin to wash that sand away so we can build on the proper foundation of Jesus Christ. After his message all the campers went outside and chaplain Rocky Ray used a pressure washer on the buildings. The sand under the campers’ house washed away and the house fell, while the other house stood firm.
Friday was an opportunity for campers and staff to share some final thoughts on the theme and to give personal testimonies about how God had worked in their lives during the week. It was a very moving experience and gave an opportunity for campers to share. The consensus was that God had shown his love and power throughout the week. Campers were encouraged to be positive influences in their world and to be builders, building up their friends, families, communities and country in all they would say and do. Built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and bound together in the Spirit, they are and will be transformers of their world.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank you for the privilege of participating in your kingdom work last week. It was wonderful to see you at work each and every day in the lives of the staff and campers. Be with each of them as they seek to do your kingdom work in this world. May you be glorified in every way in their lives, words and conduct. Continue to build them up in you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)