What if Christmas, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More

How the Grinch Stole Christmas courtesy Cartoon NetworkOne of the best things about Christmas for me is the movies and the specials. I love curling up with a nice hot mug of hot chocolate (with mini marshmallows of course!) with a blanket and watching everything from Elf to White Christmas.

Of course, Christmas would not be the same without some of these classics! One of my favorite Christmas movies is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I always make sure I watch the original special and the life action movie. There’s something just special about that story!

One of my favorite moments is the ending, where the citizens of Whoville are singing a carol after loosing everything. For them, despite having nothing, the spirit of Christmas survived!

For me, the monologue about the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes larger perfectly sums up the Christmas season.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

This week at camp, we’ve been learning about the characters of the Nativity story and how, even in July, the story of Christmas is always relevant.

The true meaning of Christmas, as the Grinch realized that day, isn’t about wrapping gifts, trimming trees, and hanging the best lights in the neighborhood. It’s not about baking gingerbread cookies or carving the roasted turkey. Christmas is about God, humbling Himself to take on flesh and send His son as a baby to save, redeem, forgive, and overcome the world.

We can all use a little bit of Christmas spirit throughout the year. You see, Jesus is more than just the “reason for the season”. God doesn’t just work for twenty five days in December and rest for the remaining 240 days a year. He’s the reason for everything. He should be the reason for every day of our lives. Because, you know what? God means a little bit more.

This week, I was reminded of that. In fact, so many of us we’re reminded about how Jesus came to save, to love, to heal, in the most humble and unexpected way possible; as a little baby in manger, wrapped in swaddling cloth.

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Did you know that there are 161 days until Christmas? Well, luckily for us here at Middler Camp, Christmas came a little early! This week we are celebrating Christmas in July. Christmas really is every day here at Delanco Camp! Well, for this week at least.

The buildings are covered in lights, reindeer games are being played, we’re singing Christmas carols, and each dorm even has their own Christmas tree! If the weather wasn’t so warm, you’d almost believe it was December!

Our evangelist, Chad Blatherwick, is going to be talking about the different characters from the nativity story and what we can learn from this week. Last night, Chad delivered a message about Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In looking at the passage where the angel visits Mary (Luke 1:28-34), he spoke about Mary’s complete obedience to God. You see, Mary had her own plans. She was going to marry Joseph, have children and raise a family, and stay in their homeland. It’s not that her plans were  bad, it’s just that God had bigger plans. 

When the angel visits Mary to tell her that she will give birth to Jesus, you want to know Mary’s response? “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” There was no second guessing, arguing, bartering, or compromising. She fully and wholeheartedly accepted the plan that the Lord had for her.

Wouldn’t life be a little bit easier if we were all a little bit like Mary? That’s the problem with humanity. We have a tendency to run away from the still, calm voice of God to chase the things that we desire.

For my family, our plan was to move to Tennessee in the summer of 2012. My Dad was retiring from the Police Department the previous August, I was graduating high school in June, and my sister was entering high school in the fall. We found a house we all fell in love with in a small town outside of Johnson, Tennessee. Our house in New Jersey was sold and in closing, and we moved into a rental in October 2011. Everything was planned and set. Well, until God stepped in.

In November, the people buying our house lost their funding, and without being able to sell our house in NJ, the owners of the home in Tennessee had to accept a better offer.

And just like that, all of our plans fell through.

The summer before, I served on Summer Staff for the first time. I was 16 years old, getting ready for my senior year of high school. I had applied on a whim, but it was something I always wanted to do. That summer, I got to experience Delanco in a whole new way, and get to know the caretaker, CJ, very well.

Five months after we realized we would no longer be moving Tennessee, CJ and his wife announced that they were leaving Delanco Camp so CJ could move on and pastor a church down in Mississippi.

Last night, Chad talked to us about Mary moment’s: when we realize the plan the God has for us, we don’t run away and begin following down the path which we are called.

My Mary moment was telling my parent’s about the caretaker’s position opening up at camp. For me, listening to God’s voice telling me to share the news is something that changed my family forever. For Mary, accepting Gabriel’s news that she would deliver Jesus changed the world.

Can you imagine if Mary had said no to Gabriel? Or worse, to God? If she just said, “Sorry, I don’t really want to have this baby. Maybe find somebody else.” Can you picture what kind of world we would live in without Jesus? 

As sinful people, we say no to God a lot. In the running, arguing, bartering, declining, we’re depriving ourselves of the plan that God has for us, a plan that is far better than anything any of us could imagine or fathom.

God’s got plans. Big plans. Like Mary, we just need to respond to Him in full obedience. Because, trust me, when you are on God’s path, there’s nothing better.

Brick by Brick…

8“God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.” -Ephesians 2:19-22 MSG

Middler Camp has officially started here at Lake Agape! It’s so awesome to see over 80 campers here this week on the grounds. And it’s already been a busy week! Between classes, chapel, swimming, boating, and hanging out at the craft shop, camp has been bustling with activities since Sunday night!

The first night, our speaker, Kristen Raine, asked each of the campers to say something that they expected out of the week. The answers ranged from growing closer to Jesus, making new friends, eating delicious food, playing night games, to sweating a lot.

We all have expectations. And last night, we learned that even God has expectations when it comes to how we live our lives. Kristen asked the campers some things that they thought God expected out of us, answering with: sharing the word of God, helping people out, praying, reading the Bible, going to Church, and forgiving others.

Sometimes, people seem to find the rules that God sets out for us to be restrictive or overbearing. Kristen likened it to the rules of parents. She surveyed campers to see how many people heard some of these common phrases in their households, and most of the time, all most all of the hands in the room were raised:

1. Clean your room.

2. Do your homework.

3. Brush your teeth.

4. Eat your vegetables.

Ultimately, the things that our parents tell us to do are beneficial to us having a productive, safe and happy life. They’re not telling us these things because they just want to or because they can. They’re trying to help you. 

The same thing goes with God. Last night, we talked about the building of the temple in Exodus. There are 15 chapters devoted to just to the instructions of how to build the temple. And when the Israelite’s followed the instructions God provided them exactly, they were rewarded with the presence of God.

Sometimes, we may think that our plans and ideas are better, or cooler than Gods. But when we follow the instructions of God, we get the chance to be a part of some wonderful things.

This week, the them is “Delanco DeLego”, based off of the 2014 “The Lego Movie”. Together, we are learning that God plans to use each of us, even Middler Campers, to spread the Gospel. Everyone of us fits in to His plan, brick by brick. But first, we need to listen to God and follow His instructions. And when we do, some awesome things begin to happen.