A New Generation

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One of the things I loved most about Camp Meeting this past weekend was seeing how many different generations were here at Delanco Camp. For some families, there were three or four generations of campers represented on the grounds. And as we celebrate 50 years of ministry here at Lake Agape, this past weekend we reminisced about the past, looked into the present, and hoped for the future of this place.

Many of the children that were in attendance this past weekend are still a few years off from coming to camp on their own, but it is a beautiful thing to see how much love they have for this place and the Lord already. But soon, the kids that ran around the grounds the past few days will be future counselors, teachers, or summer staff. They will be the ones celebrating the 100 years of ministry at Lake Agape. And maybe they will bring their own kids back to Delanco Camp, and the cycle will continue.

It was truly special to hear from each of the speakers this past weekend. In each of the messages, including from Rev. Jerry Ruff this morning in Chapel, it is so clear how much Delanco Camp has impacted lives the past 50 years here. Each of them shared about how they remember their own days as campers, or the first time they ever walked onto these hallowed, sandy grounds. And one thing that each of our four speakers had in common was how they thought it was wonderful to see many former campers and staff that brought along their children and grandchildren to experience Delanco Camp.

And now, as Junior Camp starts tonight, there will be another generation of Delanco campers experiencing this place for the first time. Some kids that I’ve known since they were born are coming to camp for the first time this week, and to me, that’s a beautiful thing. I’m grateful for the reminiscing this past weekend at Camp Meeting, and I’m looking forward to watching new friendships and memories develop this week at Junior Camp!

Being in the World, Not of the World

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For Saturday night, we had CJ Caufield, former camp caretaker, come back to speak at service.

CJ began his message with a concept that most Christians are familiar with: it’s important for us as followers of Christ to be in the world, but not of the world. He went on to state that when Christians fully embody the spirit of Christ, living in holiness, the people around them often take notice that there is just something different about them. Similar to the idea found in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapter 5, where Jesus states in verse 14: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” As Christians, it is important for us to remember that our biggest method of ministry is simply found in the way that we talk, act, and respond in even the toughest situations. When you are filled with the Spirit of the living Christ, you become a beacon in dark and sinful world.

However, CJ remarked that it is so easy for us as humans to fall into a natural state of sin. In fact, it’s inevitable. But how we respond to our sin is key to how we are perceived by unbelievers. CJ went on to quote Jeremiah 8:12, which states: “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” As humans with a natural tendency to fall into sin, we can easily begin to feel so comfortable with our actions. So comfortable in fact that our sins are no longer shameful to us.

In that moment, we are becoming of the world. And as people of God, when you attempt to try to fit into our corrupted world and witness to it the message of Jesus Christ, we are not living the holy life that God intends for us.

One passage that stuck out to me that CJ mentioned was 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Having worked at camp for several summers now, it’s important to realize how much your actions and words are affecting both the campers and your fellow staff members. The verses go as follows: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  

One of the main messages of Delanco Camp is the idea of holiness. And holiness, in it’s true form is, when experienced, a person living a transformed life that is in the world, but not of the world. This particular section speaks about the fact that, as Christians, we are ambassadors for God in a darkened world.

Here at camp, the principle stands. It’s important to remember that your influence can have an effect on the spiritual life of a camper: both positively and negatively. If you are truly living for God in the world, you will be a beacon in the dark night for all of those around you.

Now, as CJ closed his message last night, do you feel like you are living in the world, not of the world, being an ambassador of Christ in your words and actions?

Getting Back to the Ancient Paths

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Last night at Camp Meeting, we had the pleasure of hearing from a legendary speaker, Reverend Ron Smith. Personally, I was looking forward to last night’s service because I’ve never actually ever heard Ron Smith preach before. I knew he was sort of a camp legend, and let me tell you, he did not disappoint.

He began speaking last night about the world we live in today: a corrupted world no longer following Jesus, one that is striving towards the bigger, the better, the newer, overlooking the past. 

Then, Reverend Smith made a profound statement. What if the well being of the world depended on the well being of the Church, and therefore on the well-being of your soul? He went on to remark that all too often we think that our faith becomes weakened by the corruption, injustice, and sin of the world, when in reality, it is our own lack of faith in a God that can do the impossible. And when you let your faith be shaken by the sinful world we are in, you are forgetting the privilege of Christianity that is Jesus Christ.. In quitting believing, we are handing our Christian birthright over the struggles of the world.

Rev. Smith went on to say that something that seems to happen in the present, is that it is possible to depart from the glory of the past. And in this 50 year celebration of Delanco Camp at Lake Agape, we are looking back at the past 5 decades of ministry. However, it is important to remember that the God of the ages is fresh, He is moving, He is present, past, and future. He is everlasting. He is the same God that created the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. He is the same God that brought the Israelite’s out of Egypt under Moses. He is the same God who sent His only Son to die on the cross for sins. He is the God that brought the directors to Tabernacle 50 years ago. He is the God that is with us today. And of course, He is the God that will be with us the next 50 years and beyond.

One story that Reverend Smith spoke about was from author Louis L’Amour, who often wrote about the wild west. In one of his books, he wrote about the true story of the Native Americans out in the Midwest. In areas of great drought and unfamiliarity, the Native Americans only survived by one thing:  they followed the animals and the ancient paths to find water and food, and ultimately, survive their journey. Rev. Smith continued the story with a verse from the book of Jeremiah. In the story, the Israelite’s were looking to make themselves like the nations around them. They were striving for the newer, the better, and were neglecting the past, and therefore the will of God. They were conforming to the world, and therefore, their world began to crumble. Jeremiah, a major prophet of God, was sent to direct the Israelite’s. Rev. Smith noted Jeremiah 6:16 as the key verse to his message:

This is what the Lord says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.”

Sometimes, newer isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s more important to look to the glory of the past and follow the ancient paths. Without our everlasting, never-changing God, we, as Christians, would be overtaken by the world. And as Rev. Smith opened his message, the well-being of our souls, being right with God, has an influence on the well-being of the world around us. And the best way to seek the ancient paths? As Reverend Smith put it, hit your knees. Hit your knees and pray. Pray to the never-changing God of the past, the present, and the future.