Simplicity – Camp Meeting 2018

If I had to choose one for to describe Camp Meeting it would be “simple”. Not to say that Camp Meeting is boring, but rather that it is stripped down to the bare bones of what Delanco is about. We live in a culture that celebrate busyness. Everything is always go, go, go! While I love that camp is a place to get away from the world and connect with God on a deeper level, I feel that often we still get caught up in the idea of being busy. Most weeks, the schedule is full from the time the campers wake up till the time they crash into their beds sixteen hours later. They finish breakfast just so they can rush to clean their dorms before running off to morning chapel and classes. In between classes, they descend on the snack shack in a whirlwind of sugar-fueled energy. The afternoon is filled with games on the soccer field, boat races on the lake, basketball tournaments, and rounds of gaga. While I loved this as a camper, it is simply not sustainable. Camper and staff alike go home after a week of camp filled with God, but thoroughly exhausted.

 

Camp meeting is different. The only items on the schedule are meals, bible study, and evening service. The pace is slower, but it is also more intentional. Instead of rushing into the dinning hall when meals are announced, people slowly trickle in until it is time to eat. They stay seated at their tables talking long after the food has been finished and cleared away. In the afternoon, parents sit on the beach together while their children splash in the lake or gather on the porch of the motel to talk while their babies nap.

 

That is the other thing I love about Camp Meeting. It is focused on families. There are parents here with their school-age children and parents here fellowshipping with their adult children. There are parents who raised their children to adulthood at Camp Meeting, only to have these children bring their own children here too. Camp Meeting is a multigenerational affair and it is a beautiful thing to witness.

 

Rev. Steve La Motte has been preaching on adoption, both his family’s story of adopting two boys from China and our story as Christians being adopted into God’s family. In a sense, Camp Meeting is another form of adoption. These families have taken each other in and established a family rooted in Christ and Delanco. Although I believe that deep friendships can be formed because of a week of camp, there is something special about friendships that have been shaped by families coming to camp year after year for decades. These are relationships that have survived marriages and children and retirements. Their bonds have been made stronger by worshiping together. In the end, Camp Meeting is a  family reunion.

The Never-Ending Story

Alter (10 of 1)“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” -Psalm 100:5 

One of my favorite things about Camp Meeting is that it is family camp! There is nothing more incredible than watching several generations gather together and worship in the Tabernacle. And this weekend we have over sixty kids, from newborns to teenagers!

It’s also pretty amazing to meet people who have been coming to camp for fifty or more years, and then to see so many families who have stepped onto the grounds for the first time!

The one thing that I know is true about Delanco, whether it’s a second home to you or your first time out, it’s a holy place. In it’s 51 years at Lake Agape, Delanco Camp changes lives of children and adults alike. Today, I sat down on the red alter pads in the Tabernacle and thought about how many life-altering decisions take place at that alter each and every year. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have met Christ kneeling down on those sandy alter pads.

Last night, Delanco Camp President Mike Bill visited the grounds for our Annual Camp Dinner. During the service, he shared that July 2nd was a very important day for him. 25 years ago on July 2nd, he accepted Christ for the first time. He even pointed to the exact spot on the alter rail where he was saved.

That’s something that I’ve learned the past few summers. For so many, myself included, the alter rail at Delanco is a pillar of our life stories. When those who’ve been saved at camp share their testimony, like Mike Bill, they are able to point to the exact spot on the alter their lives changed forever.

You see, the alter rail in the Tabernacle has been a huge part of my own story. Back in 2003, during my first Junior Camp, I was saved at the third post from the right. I don’t remember much about that week, like who the speaker was, the games we played, the snacks we ate, or even the name of the counselor that prayed with me. But I do remember, thirteen years later, the exact spot where I first dedicated my life to Christ.

That’s the beauty of Delanco Camp. When you step on the grounds, Delanco becomes a part of your story. In fact, you also become a part of camps never-ending story. It’s been 51 years since we moved to Lake Agape, and camp has been changing hundreds of lives each and every summer. And it will continue to change the lives of students, volunteers, and families decades from now.

I am proud that Delanco is a pillar of my own story and so many others. Even more, I am a part of the never-ending story of Delanco: there is power in the blood of Jesus, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Especially at that old, splintered alter rail.

Tilling the Field

1 (10 of 1) “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7

It’s finally that time of year again! Camp Meeting officially kicked off last night, and it’s shaping up to be a wonderful weekend out here at Lake Agape! The theme this weekend is “Fresh Faith”, and at Delanco Camp, faith is grown daily!

We started Camp Meeting off with some worship, and a message from our speaker. This year, we have Pastor Rob Lewis of Gibbsboro United Methodist Church, sharing with us! This weekend, Rob is going to be talking about the five ingredients to worship.

The first ingredient that was shared is repentance. In fact, this ingredient is really a necessary step to preparing our hearts for worshipping God. Rob used this example to describe repentance: Imagine I have a tennis ball, and your hands are full with all of this stuff. Then, I throw the tennis ball to you. Your odds of catching it without dropping the stuff in your hands is slim to none, right? That’s why repentance is the first and most important ingredient to worship. If we keep focusing our hearts, minds, and energy, on all of this stuff that’s going on down here on earth. how are we ever going to be able to truly worship our God in heaven? We won’t.

Now, in order to really understand repentance, I’ve looked at the Oxford Dictionary definition of repentance: the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse; each person who turns to God in genuine repentance and faith will be saved. 

The key here is the action of turning to God. It’s not just a spiritual thing: it’s mental, emotional, and physical. Rob even pointed out that Jesus’s ministry begins with the idea of turning to Him! In Mark 1:15, Jesus says, “Repent and believe the Good news!” Repentance is even Jesus’s first ingredient.

As Christians, we often think that repentance is a one time thing. It’s something we do when we first get saved, and not something that happens while you’re saved. Instead of repentance as an ingredient to worship, it’s an ingredient to conversion, and then that’s the end of it.

Think of it like this: Every year, a farmer tills his land in order to plant fresh crops. He plants the seeds, waters them and helps them grow. At the end of the season, the surviving plants are harvested. And guess what. In the spring, the farmer has to till the land again to prepare to plant the new crops. Tilling is the farmer’s first ingredient, and without it, he wouldn’t be able to grow the crops as efficiently. In fact, the farmer would be costing himself more by not tilling the land.

For me, that’s a perfect picture of repentance. You see, you can worship God without repentance, but just like the farmer, it’s costing us. You’d be missing out on true worship from a clean, pure heart. And there are so many things on this earth that we can repent from. I mean, Paul flat-out says in Romans 14:23, that “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Quarreling, lying, gossiping, etc. All of these little things in our lives that seem so insignificant, well, they add up. And before long, we have an earth-centered focus over a God-centered focus.

The beauty here is that Jesus found you, called to you to turn towards him. God pursues you, and therefore, you continuously pursue God. Year after year, we turn and pursue like the farmer and his fields. It’s the first ingredient for fresh faith.

We’ve just got to remember to keep turning and keep tilling.