So you’re back from camp and you feel like your heart is about to explode. You’ve discovered that your life has a purpose and that you were made unique for a very good reason. You feel courageous enough to go share your faith, to go change the world, to go and eat pigs feet. But I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that feelings don’t last forever. The stresses and troubles of reality will soon creep back in and try to rob you of your joy. I’m not trying to scare you, it’s just the truth. But the good news is that there are things you can do that will keep the spiritual fire inside your heart burning no matter what comes your way. And guess what? They’re things we did at camp, so you already know how to do them! If you made a commitment at camp and truly want to live your life for Christ then incorporating these 5 disciplines into your life will keep you from slipping back into your former life. They’ll help you grow and mature and equip you to fulfill the purpose Jesus made you for. They’ll help keep that fire burning.
1) Read the bible
Remember those quiet time devotionals we did every day? You know, the ones you were probably too tired to do because you stayed up past lights out (white house)? Well the best way you can keep the fire in your heart burning is to read the bible daily. Don’t go crazy and read it for 2 hours each day. Start simple and read it for 15 minutes every day. I recommend you do it in the morning. That way your mind is focused on God very early in the day and will hopefully stay focused on Him throughout the day. Or you could do what I do and read it in the evening before you go to sleep when everything is peaceful and quiet. And don’t start by reading Leviticus, you’re too young to understand it. Heck, Moses doesn’t understand it and he wrote it! Read something cool like the gospels. Read the part in Matthew chapter 5 where Jesus calls you the light of the world. Yes, YOU. You, the person reading this, are the light of the world! Read the part in John where Jesus says who the Son sets free is free indeed. That's more than just a cool song we sang at camp, it's a promise from the mouth of Jesus. Read the part in Isaiah where God says He will never forget you because your name is written on the palm of His hands. Read the part in Exodus where God lays the smackdown on pharaoh. But please, don’t read Song of Solomon. There’s way too much pda in there. Pda pdoesn’t.
But no matter what time you read or what part you read, please, just read it! It is essential to your growth! Reading the bible is how we learn more about Jesus, how we nourish our souls, and how God changes our hearts. As we put His word inside our minds and hearts Jesus changes us to look more like Him!
Remember how we prayed for each other the last night of camp? Remember how powerful that was? Our prayers have power. From the longest to the shortest, all are heard by God. Just lay out your hearts to God. Tell Him what’s going on and what you wish were different. Tell Him what you’re thankful for and what you think you need. I think what might be helpful for you is to keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and experiences from the day and then use that as a guide to pray by. Pray about that boy who insulted you at school. Tell God how much it hurt you, and then let God tell you how beautiful you are to him. Tell God about your annoying mother. Tell Him how your patience is running out. And then let God supply the patience you need to love her. Prayer isn’t hard! Just remember how we did it at camp. We just said what was on our hearts and minds. It’s that easy, and it’s also essential if you want to grow.
Remember those camp songs which are probably still stuck in your head? Listen to them! Sing along with them! Church isn’t the only place where we worship God. You can worship at home, in the car, at school, wherever you are! Go on Shift’s facebook page, find out what songs we played at camp, and then get them (legally) for yourselves! And remember, singing isn’t the only way we worship God. Just doing something because you know it’s morally right is an act of worship toward God. Standing up for someone who’s being bullied is an act of worship. Refusing to drink (before you’re 21) or do drugs (at all) because God has said it’s wrong is an act of worship. Going out of your way to love someone is an act of worship. Just choosing to live your life for Jesus is an act of worship. Prayer is an act of worship. Quiet time is an act of worship. See, now you have no excuse not to do your quiet time! Choose to worship God whenever and wherever.
4) Go to church
Well, duh. You need to be around other believers. You need be to listening and learning from your pastors. Just like you can’t learn unless you go to school, you won’t learn and grow with God unless you go to church. Church is where you are equipped to go into the real world to live for Jesus. That boldness and courage you have from camp? That won’t last unless you keep coming back to church to get you weekly doses of courage and boldness. And I don’t mean just Christ the Rock. I mean whatever church you may attend. I know a lot of our campers go to different churches. Find a church you like and that will help you grow and make sure you get yourself there weekly!
5) Make Christian friends
Remember all those cool people you met at camp? Hang out with them! Build friendships with them! Who else is going to understand your faith better than someone else who also believes? Unbelievers aren’t going to care about Jesus; they’re just going to call you stupid and might even stop being your friends because of your faith. This is why you should keep in touch and continue to grow with the people you met at camp and the other friends you know from church. These are the people who will have your back no matter what happens. These are the people who will hold you accountable and call you out if you start slipping away. If you want to keep your fire burning you need people in your lives who are willing to grow with you. These are the people you will spend eternity with. Might as well get to know them now!
So there you go, 5 things we tried to hammer home to you at camp. What, did you think I would tell you something different? These are 5 universal things every strong Christian does. We want you be bold. We want you to love. We want you to be joyful. We want you to change the world. We want you to grow with Jesus but we can’t do it for you. You made the commitment, are you brave enough to keep it? Do those 5 things to seek Jesus and He will seek you back. He will strengthen you, He will encourage you, He will keep your fire inside burning forever.
We just had an amazing 5 days with 147 middle school students at The Pursuit 2011! We had a blast! Messy games... team challenges... color wars... every team gave it their all, but only one team came out as the camp champs - congratulations Red Team for taking the title this year!
But Camp was more than just fun and games. We had an awesome time worshipping God and learning about our purpose of sharing His good news! He gave us all unique gifts, talents, skills, personalities, experiences and hearts so that we could be a part of His mission to love the world and give hope to all. He has called us to fearlessly go and live out and share His amazing love to the people around us!
57 students gave their lives and hearts to Jesus throughout the summer camp, and every student was encouraged to know that the Holy Spirit is living inside them to give them the power they need to make the difference that God has called them to!
Just check out this recap video for our middle school camp:
Don't forget, Wednesday June 29th, we're having a Camp Aftermath Service at 7:00pm! Wear your camp tees and get ready to relive some of the great moments from The Pursuit 2011!
View and download pictures HERE.
Parents! If you were unable to attend our parent meeting (where were you?) and you don't know what your teenager should and shouldn't bring to camp, don't worry, we have you covered!
You can download our parent letter here.
Just a reminder... We leave for our Middle School camp this Saturday morning at 9:30am. Please, be there no later than 9am!