Camp: Day Five

For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 1:6 (NLT)

Yesterday’s verses had a strong message. They tell us that those who do not obey God will not thrive. In fact, they tell us that if we do not follow God we will be condemned. No one wants to be condemned.

If you can remember back to Sunday you will remember that we started off by saying that there are only TWO choices we can make in this life. We can follow God or we can walk away from Him and follow the world. There are people and things in the world that will try to lead us away from Him. However, He gave us His word so that we would know which way to go. If we follow Him, we’ll grow up strong and tell others about Him. If we walk away, we will be condemned.

Today’s verse is a reminder of everything we have learned this week. God is with us when we follow Him. If we don’t follow Him we will get lost.

The Path Of The Godly

How does God watch over us? How does He help us stay on the right path?

The Path Of The Wicked

What happens to people who stay on this path? How can we help others get off of it?

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Camp: Day Four

But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.

Psalm 1:4-5 (NLT)

So far, we have been talking about what it looks like to follow God and thrive. Today we are going to talk about what happens if we choose not to obey Him. It is not pleasant but it is the truth and we need to know so that we can tell others.

Yesterday we talked about being strong trees, giving off a lot of fruit. That can only happen when we don’t listen to the world but instead, listen to God’s word. When we believe and obey the Bible we will thrive. The bad news is that those who do not believe and obey will not.

Verses four and five describe a very bad situation. They tell us what will happen if we do not listen to God and obey Him.

They Are Like Chaff

Do you know what chaff is? Have you ever seen dandelion spores? What happens when you blow them? How is this different than being a huge tree planted by the river?

They Are Condemned

Do you know what condemned means? Have you ever seen a house or building that has been condemned? What happens to them? Do you know that Jesus doesn’t want to condemn anyone?

Camp: Day Three

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Psalm 1:3 (NLT)

When we are living a life that pleases God, it not only makes Him happy, it makes us happy as well. The closer we get to God, the stronger we get. God wants us to be like mighty trees that will be able to give a lot of fruit and help others grow closer to Him.

God wants us to thrive so that we can make the world a better place. Jesus died for us so that we could be forgiven. He also told us that we should tell others about Him. That is how we give good fruit. We are to grow up strong in Jesus and then share Him with those around us.

We have already talked about why we shouldn’t follow the world. We have also talked about why it is so important to know God’s word. Verse three shows us what happens when we do both of those.

We Are Like Trees Beside The River

Thriving trees do three things.

We Bear Fruit Each Season

Have you ever seen a fruit tree? What did it look like? How are we like fruit trees?

We Never Wither

Have you ever seen a tree or plant that didn’t get enough water? What is the water that we need to thrive?

We Prosper In Everything

What kinds of things should we be trying to prosper in?

Camp: Day Two

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.

Psalm 1:2 (NLT)

Yesterday we talked about how people can have a bad influence on us. There are all kinds of bad things out in the world and sometimes the music, movies, and television shows we like have them too. We even talked about how some of our friends might be a bad influence. If we want to thrive in our relationship with God then we should stay away from all the bad stuff out there.

Today’s verse tells us that we need to do more than just avoid the bad things. We have to replace those things with good stuff. The number one thing that we should focus on is what the Bible says. If we want to find out how to thrive then we need to know what God says.

When we look at verse two we see TWO things that all of us should do when it comes to God’s word.

Delight In The Law Of The Lord

What are some of the things you like to do? Do you think God is pleased with the things you enjoy? What are some other things you could do?

Meditate On It Day And Night

Do you know any song lyrics from memory? How did you learn them? Do you read your Bible every day? Do you memorize Bible verses? Why do you think this is important?

Camp: Day One

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.

Psalm 1:1 (NLT)

God wants us to be blessed (happy or joyful). When we choose to be different from the world we will discover that even though the world promises happiness, it can only be found when we follow God. To really thrive, we have to be different from what the world says.

Our friends influence us even if we don’t realize it. The more time we spend with people, the more we talk, act, and think like them. That is why it is so important to be careful who we hang out with. Now, we need to remember that God doesn’t look at us based upon whether we are boys or girls, or what color we are, or where we are from, or what language we speak, or how much money we have. God cares about the things in our hearts, not what we look like on the outside.

Verse one tells us THREE things that we should NEVER do if we want to stay on the path that leads to God.

Follow The Advice Of The Wicked

Have you ever gotten any bad advice? What was it? Did you take it or ignore it? If you did take it, what happened?

Stand Around With Sinners

Have you ever been in a place where people were doing bad things? How did it make you feel? Did you do the same things they were doing?

Join In With The Mockers

Have you ever heard people saying bad things about God? How did it make you feel? Did you say anything?

Camp 2015: The Blog Posts

I will be leaving for camp immediately following church this afternoon and will be gone until late Friday night. I will have time to write next week but access to the internet will be very limited. Think about it, it’s summer camp, why would there be internet? I’m sure that I could go to the office or the manager’s house and post, but I will be the dean and want to be 100% focused on making sure that the campers have a great time. So I am doing something I have NEVER done before. I am going to write a week’s worth of blog posts and then schedule them to post while I’m away. The FAQ section of wordpress assures me that this is possible so I am going to give it my best shot. If, for some reason, I mess it up and the posts aren’t there…I apologize. I have never attempted this so there is a good chance I might mess it up.

Our theme for the week is THRIVE! We will be looking at Psalm 1 verse by verse. My posts for next week will be covering the verse for that particular day. I thought it would be neat (yes…I still use that word) if those of you out there reading (you know who you are) could follow along with what our campers are doing. It will be as if you are at camp with us. You won’t be sleeping in cabins or eating camp food and won’t be playing all the fun games that we will be playing…but it’ll be the next best thing.

I will be sharing the EXACT same thing that the students will see in their booklets every day. Keep in mind, this is written for fourth and fifth graders so it may seem extremely simple. That is the intended goal. I still think that adults can get something out of these lessons too.

Here is Sunday’s MAIN THEME.

There are only two roads you can go down in this world. You can choose to follow the path that God wants you to and you will THRIVE! Or you can choose to follow the path that the world tells you to and you will DIE! This week we are going to look at what God’s word says about BOTH paths and see why we should all want to be on the one that will make us THRIVE instead of the one that will makes us DIE.

Every day we will focus on just one section of this Psalm. We will work on memorizing it and then we will look at other places in the Bible (including some of Jesus’ own words) that tell us even more about walking on the right path.

I’ll end this post by sharing our theme song for the week.

The Calm Before The Storm

It is Saturday night and I am trying to enjoy one last evening of quiet before heading off for a week of fourth and fifth graders. I am looking forward to  it and I think it will be great but I know that I’m going to be beat by the time Friday rolls around.

I accidentally started fifth grade reunion on Facebook. I found an old class photo and posted it. Before long a bunch of folks started commenting on it. It was nice to talk to some of those people again. Funny how that kind of thing happens when you least expect it.

This will be my last post before camp. I have everything scheduled for next week. I hope you all enjoy them. Lord willing, I will see you all in a week,

Living The Tension Between Grace And Truth: A Review Of Messy Grace By Caleb Kaltenbach

I want to begin by saying that I am a reviewing an uncorrected proof copy that was provided by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of review. I received it through the Blogging For Books website. You can purchase the book HERE. There is actually a website for the book HERE.

A friend suggested this book to me after receiving an advance reading copy. Caleb Kaltenbach currently serves as lead pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California. I had heard of Caleb prior to this and was intrigued by his story. I knew this book was coming out and I knew that he was going to discuss homosexuality from a biblical viewpoint and I was curious to see how someone with gay parents would approach the subject.

In this relatively short book, Caleb shares how he was brought up fully immersed in gay culture. He tells of going to gay nightclubs, gay parties, and even marching in gay parades when he was just a child. He also shares how his early impression of Christians was tarnished by the hateful and sickening behavior of those he encountered. I typically don’t throw the word miracle around but given his upbringing that may the best word to use when you look at where he is today.

Caleb’s writing style is simple and to the point. He makes extensive use of Scripture and does a noble job of keeping things in context. I especially appreciated the running theme of “messy grace” for which the book is named. Caleb explains that “messy grace” is another name for true Christian love. That love is found, he says, in the tension between truth and grace. Christians have always said that we “hate the sin and love the sinner” but as Caleb points out, we often fail miserably at living that way. Jesus is the example we should follow. He was able to develop relationships with “messy” people without compromising truth or condoning their behaviors. This book attempts to reinforce that way of thinking.

Overall I believe Caleb achieved his goal. I do believe that this is a book a gay man or lesbian could read without feeling hated or judged. The biblical view that homosexuality is wrong is not watered down but is presented in such a way that the reader understands that it is being shared out of love. I found that the questions provided at the end of each chapter reinforced the purpose of the book. They are great for personal reflection but would be wonderful in a small group setting as well. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is wondering how a believer might respond to our ever-changing culture in such a way that those he wishes to reach aren’t completely turned away.

Summer Head Colds Are Evil

I have been fighting a massive head cold for the last two days. Alka-Seltzer cold medicine is not working. I did spend three hours in the office this morning working on the camper booklets for Junior Week next week. I have got two days to get everything printed and put together. I pray that this cold is gone by Sunday…camp will not be fun if I’m still fighting it.

I finished Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach. I’ll have the review up tomorrow. It was a good book and it gave me a few things to think about. Now I just need to finish that Killing Jesus book by Bill O’Reilly.

I honestly don’t have much to say tonight. I don’t feel well and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write this week. I’ve been concentrating on getting everything ready for camp. I am going to try to have blog posts ready for next week. I don’t know that I will have good internet access so I’m going to have them scheduled to post before I leave on Sunday.

I want to let everyone know that I now have the “official” Nothing (Without You) podcast up and running. I will be posting sermons on Mondays and then have a weekly episode up on Wednesdays. The first two are already live so check them out if you have the time.

Over The Rhine

I listen to a lot of music. I listen to a wide range of styles. I try to listen to things that others suggest in the hope that I will discover new music. That being said, there are a lot of bands out there that I have heard of but never really taken the time to explore beyond a song or two. Over The Rhine is one such band. I first heard about them through the same radio show that I have mentioned before. I don’t remember which songs I heard but they were probably from their 1992 album Patience. I remember liking what I heard and I filed the name away but I never went back and checked them out.

The next time I heard about them was on a Christian music website. I joined the forums there back in 2003. After a couple of years I had become a regular member of the site and had made quite a few friends. One of them, a fellow named Nate, occasionally mentioned Over The Rhine in conversations. At his suggestion, I found their 2005 album Drunkard’s Prayer and gave it a listen. Once again, I really liked what I heard and I told myself that I needed to check them out. I did seek out more of their music the second time but I didn’t become a fan or even a regular listener. This was around the same time I went back to college so I was more focused on getting through that.

Fast forward to today, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. I am sitting in my office getting ready for afternoon Bible study. I have been listening to Jars Of Clay and Sixpence None The Richer but for some reason, my eyes keep going back to the two Over The Rhine albums in my iTunes library. I forget who burned me copies of them but they have been in my collection for several years now. I have rarely given them a listen. Not surprisingly, the two albums are the two that I have heard before, Patience and Drunkard’s Prayer.

c. That being said, there are a lot of bands out there that I have heard of but never really taken the time to explore beyond a song or two. Over The Rhine is one such band. I first heard about them through the same radio show that I have mentioned before. I don’t remember which songs I heard but they were probably from their 1992 album Patience. I remember liking what I heard and I filed the name away but I never went back and checked them out.

The next time I heard about them was on a Christian music website. I joined the forums there back in 2003. After a couple of years I had become a regular member of the site and had made quite a few friends. One of them, a fellow named Nate, occasionally mentioned Over The Rhine in conversations. At his suggestion, I found their 2005 album Drunkard’s Prayer and gave it a listen. Once again, I really liked what I heard and I told myself that I needed to check them out. I did seek out more of their music the second time but I didn’t become a fan or even a regular listener. This was around the same time I went back to college so I was more focused on getting through that.

Fast forward to today, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. I am sitting in my office getting ready for afternoon Bible study. I have been listening to Jars Of Clay and Sixpence None The Richer but for some reason, my eyes keep going back to the two Over The Rhine albums in my iTunes library. I forget who burned me copies of them but they have been in my collection for several years now. I have rarely given them a listen. Not surprisingly, the two albums are the two that I have heard before, Patience and Drunkard’s Prayer.

I am making myself a promise. I am going to explore this band. I’ll have to see if they are up on Spotify and sample more than just these two albums.