Advent Devotion: Never Tire


In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul makes a passing remark that reads kind of like an “oh by the way” as you’re heading out the door comment. His oh by the way: “never tire from doing good.” No big deal, right?

The truth is doing good can be ever so tiring. Doing good means putting others needs before our own. It means following the Holy Spirit’s tug on our heart to do something we otherwise might not want to do. Often times it can mean doing the unpopular thing, standing out like an outcast in a sea of people who seemingly grew tired of doing good a long time ago if they ever considered it in the first place.

The season we are currently in, a season that should be about reflection, waiting and anticipation but so easily gets reduced to a laundry list of things to do, parties to attend and presents to buy is known as a season of giving. It’s called this because we exchange gifts and make a lot of year-end donations to nonprofit organizations this time of year.

Giving gifts and giving money to support kingdom-minded ministries that spread the gospel are good things, but I don’t think Paul had this in mind when he encouraged early Christians, many who faced persecution we couldn’t even imagine, not to tire. If not for my checkbook limitations, I would probably never tire of giving gifts or supporting ministries and missionaries.

But the good things that interrupt me, ask a lot of my time or require me to change course with how I’m living my life don’t come so easy. These are the areas where apathy is constantly at work tamping down my zeal for doing the good things that God requires of me.

I recently had the chance to see the music duo Jenny and Tyler perform at a local coffeeshop and they closed with “Faint Not,” a song they consider their anti-apathy anthem. The chorus of the song, which we all sang along with, goes “Oh my soul faint not, no faint not, Oh my soul keep up, in love.” It’s a catchy way of saying what Paul is saying here in scripture. Do not give up. Do not grow faint. Do not tire.

Matt Ralph is a former camper, volunteer staff member and editor of this blog. 

Advent Devotion: God Chose You


2 Corinthians 2:13

“God chose you as firstfruits…” In a world where God has disappeared from the forefront, God chose you to represent Him on this planet.

I’m pausing here to let that sink in and I suggest you do the same.

When people share their testimonies, I often hear phrases like this: “I accepted Jesus…”, “I chose Jesus…” Now those phrases aren’t wrong and I’m not here to say that people who use those phrases aren’t real or genuine Christians. I do believe however that there’s a mutual responsibility when it comes to accepting or choosing something. When searching for a job, you must choose to apply for that job in order to be considered for it. But also, in order for your applying to be worth the time and effort, the company must choose to hire you, right? Right. Asking a girl out on a date amounts to nothing unless she agrees to go. Right? Right.

So why do we forget that Jesus chose us first? He certainly didn’t have to die on the cross. It was certainly within His jurisdiction and power to get off the cross as He was mocked to do. He could have teleported or phased or flew or clicked His heels to get back to Heaven at any moment if He really wanted.

He came here with a purpose. His purpose was (and is) you. God could’ve snapped His fingers and eradicated sin from the world at any moment of His choosing. He chose not to so He could demonstrate not only how much He hated sin, but how much He loves you.

We live in a broken world. It always has been and until Jesus returns, it always will be. The best we can do is choose to share what God has given us with those who are in need, even if all we have to give is a listening ear. I believe that people in need have a strange and almost inexplicable way of finding each other. God chose you to help those in need. This Christmas, let’s start being the light this world desperately needs and see how God can work in those moments.

Kevin Wolf has served on summer staff for several years and helps out quite a bit with our communications committee at the camp. He works at Trinity UMC in Mullica Hill.

Advent Devotion: The meaning of trust


Psalm 37:1-9

What does it mean to trust? In this society, it is a difficult thing to do. We have identity theft, terrorism threats, politicians failing us, a poor economy, and the never-changing failure of relationships. So, how do we trust? Who do we trust?

My personal life recently has been rocked by a book I have been reading called Grace For the Good Girl. It’s a book about how we so often wear masks and pretend everything is “fine.” We don’t let our guard down to anyone in case they might see the “real me” and reject me. I can’t let anyone know I am hurting, failing, or just not doing well. I have worn masks like this for far too long. I have been unable to trust because for too long, trust has been violated.

We have all been there. We have all been hurt. It is an unfortunate reality. So, what do we do? Who do we turn to?

I am so thankful that I have a heavenly Father who has NEVER failed me! He has been the constant. I have tried to wear my masks with Him but he has a way of lovingly removing them and allowing me to just be me. He has found a way to sneak into my heart and show me the love I am screaming for behind that mask. He has been the one I can trust.

When the world around me is shattering or crumbling, I know, I can put my trust in Him. Like it says in Psalm 37:7, “I can be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” When evildoers succeed around me, I “don’t have to fret” as it says in vs. 1. I know, that He will provide a place of safety for me and allow me to “enjoy safe pasture” (vs. 3) even if I have been violated. He is the only thing or person I can fully trust.

Others will always fail me, no matter how close they are to me. I know, however, that He will never fail me. I know He will be my constant rock and refuge. Even in the times when I have failed others, or worse, failed Him, He always responds with love and grace. He chooses to embrace me, even in my frailty and failures.

As we approach Christmas and all the hustle and bustle that brings with it, I encourage you to take a moment and sit quietly before Him. Scootch into Him and allow Him to love on you. As a Loving Daddy toward His children, allow Him to take pleasure in who He created you to be. He so longs for you to open your heart to His embrace and His pleasure. Allow Him to be your peace this season and beyond.

Tricia (Vandevaarst) Short lives in Arizona where she serves in ministry with her husband, Paul (check out Unseen Ministries). A New Jersey native, she attended Delanco Camp as a teenager.