Monday, July 29, 2013

Glorified Babysitting

One question I ask myself, usually when a group of rebellious teenagers have not listened to something I ask, is, “Am I just babysitting these kids?”  It’s a real struggle I find myself having at times.  After all, here at Camp of the Hills, and at every other camp I’ve worked at I’ve asked myself this question.  I know some parents when they drop off their kids say see ya and there is a week vacation for them.  I also know that for a lot of kids who come out to this camp this will be the first time they ever hear the name Jesus.  So, I and many other counselors treat camp with a type of reverence about what we are doing.  I’m also a type of guy who seeks to find meaning in nearly everything I do, which gets me thinking a lot, too much to say the least.  I believe and I know a lot of others do that we are participating in a ministry. 
But, what is it that I’m actually doing.  I play in the pool, dress up with jerseys and costumes, and tell stories, and exchange my favorite Adam Sandler quotes.  Then I realized that I do all those things, or used to that is, with my brothers.  I’m being a brother to these kids when they come here to camp.  Yes, brothers and sisters share a lot with each other, and a lot of those times are filled with shenanigans.  But, there is also something special about the love between siblings.  That you are comfortable around them, free to express love, free to joke, and free to look up to and respect.  As a camp counselor there are times when I feel as if there is no meaning to something that I may be doing at a certain time.  For example, when shaving cream is all over my face and Cheerios are being tossed on, I wonder, “Are these kids learning about Christ?”  I try too hard to find meaning in all I do.  Then I realize, I’m being a friend, mentor, brother in Christ to many kids who need that so much.  What is more important?  That I do everything in love, or that I force the name Jesus Christ into every conversation?  What is more important in life?  That I show you your sins or show you love?  We like to keep score in our lives.  How many people have you witnessed to?  How many times did you read the Bible to your campers?  How about, how much unconditional love did you show
So, when you are with kids and want to so ever bad for them to learn the name Jesus, please just love first.  Show grace when all they have ever seen is condemnation for petty actions.  Show love when all a kid might have seen is hate.  Show gentleness when all a kid might have seen is anger and resentment.  Last, please show Jesus through your actions, because that is what we are called to do. 

I am a camp counselor, I’m a child of God, a brother to all, and a kid trying to learn every step of the way.  I’m a camper learning every step of the way myself with the ultimate counselor in Jesus Christ. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

What I'm asking God this morning...

Questions I’m asking God…

When your son was up on that cross, how did you feel about the rest of the world?

If your grace surely is an ocean, how come so many don’t feel anything about you?

If I grew up in a land where your name is never preached, how would I come to know you?

Am I a Christian because of privilege where I grew up, because you knew I would follow you anywhere I was born?

Why do I feel so old, in a world that tells me I’m so young?

Am I doing more than just being a babysitter for these kids?

How come you created us all the same to be loved, but so different that we quarer

Why do I constantly find the need to compare myself to others?

When I ask you to show your love for me, why do you take so long to show it?

Why am I so ignorant to ignore your love?

How do I keep showing grace to others who failed so many time with addictive behaviors?

How do you keep showing grace to me when I fail so many times?

What does it mean to be a Christian attorney?

Will you show me how to keep my motives pure, to value people at all times in the field of law?

Why do we skip over the hard parts of the Bible?

Why do we fight over your words, and forget to just love people?

Do you want anyone to go to Hell?

If you’re so full of love why not send everyone to Heaven?

How can I reach more people?

Why did she give the ring back?

Why can’t people get past drugs?

When going to church, why does it feel so orderly and free of love?

If I want to open up, why does a church service seem like the last place I would ever do that at?

Are we doing things right?  Are we loving first, and asking questions last? 

Are we the father in the prodigal son, who opens his arms first and loves without asking questions?

Why can’t people see the power in your love?

Why can’t I see the power in your love at times?

What is my purpose here? 

Why did you give me such a good memory? 

Why did you give me such bad memories?

Why do you listen to me complain so much?

Why do you love us all so much?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Returning Home

I’m traveling a lot these days it seems.  This summer has been filled with a lot of moving around, and my car is the best proof of this.  My trunk and back seat filled with clothes, books, essentials that I believe keep me alive that have no place to live.  This summer I have slept in a combination of over ten different rooms from an extended stay hotel where I witnessed prostitution to a cabin that has a swamp cooler.  Yes, my living arrangements have varied, but I really can’t complain.  In fact, I’ve enjoyed the moving around.    It’s taught me to be uncomfortable, which is something I don’t like.  The wandering around has made me do things that I’ve never done as well. 
This summer, I took a job in Dallas at a law firm that I thought would be story book.  The programs, the people they helped, but really I was just another intern in a large organization that didn’t have much for me to do.  Now, here’s what normal, people pleasing Joseph would have done.  Stayed, stuck it out.  But, I did something crazy in my story, I quit.  I left a job.  I said goodbye, and said hello to something new and spontaneous.  On a whim I left Dallas, packed up and moved to Marble Falls to work at a camp, that I truly didn’t know a lot about. 
The wandering has been good for me.  In fact, I’ve learned wandering has taught me how to come home.  There’s a painting, I truly love:  Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, A painting of a Father holding a son returning from squandering his inheritance, received early, and an elder son looking on with uncertainty as to choose to embrace his younger brother.  I love the painting.  I tend to think of myself as the elder son.  I don’t party, I don’t run off late at night, sleep with women night after night, and I don’t blow money casually.  But, I am missing the picture when it comes to who I am.  Even I fail to see who I am.  I am the younger son.  I have been running all summer, my whole life in fact, running from who I am.  In this summer of transitions, from college, relationships, new jobs, etc.  I am constantly wandering looking for happiness and fulfillment from things that cannot truly give me contentment.  But, I know where to go.  I need to be running to my Father’s arms.  Truly looking for an embrace does not fade with achievements, looks, and a popularity contest.  As Henri Nouwen puts it so well, “I have fled the hands of blessing and run off to faraway places searching for love.”  God has given me much to delight in, mercy, compassion, love, and grace unparalleled and rivaled by none, yet I chase desires of the world. 
Again Nouwen states, “I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found.”  I need to stop searching for things in people that we cannot truly produce.  It isn’t even about lowering expectations either, it’s about not making others your god.  Not making others a god in your mind, where he or she can satisfy your every need and desire, where they can disappoint you in every way possible.  Return son, return daughter where His mercies are new every morning. 
So, I’ve wandered this summer.  Drove a lot, packed and moved, and hit repeat several times.  I ended up at Camp of the Hills where kids from the inner city come and we love on them and give them Jesus.  My plans never involved this place, and the people I’ve had the privilege to work with have been a welcoming home.  This place has been a welcoming back to loving people, being with them, taking their luggage, both emotional and physical, bringing it in our cabin and welcoming it into our place.  The place we live with campers, both temporary, is a place for relationships to grow, form, and return our thoughts and all we have back to Jesus.  The one who taught us how to love.  When I return from camp and start law school, when kids go home after a week of camp we’ve learned to return to the Father of compassion.  Who knows our every scar, holds ever tear, and is desperately searching for our attention.  We have a God jealous for our attention, and so worthy of our affection.  

How I desire for your embrace, O Lord

Show me, a child to look to you more

Friday, July 5, 2013

Why I Love Despicable Me

I went to the dollar theatre to see Despicable Me for the third time; & I loved it even more this time!  First off it is hilarious and you laugh constantly throughout the movie.  2nd the story is awesome to me as well.  It pits Gru (the main character Steve Carell) and his yellow minions in an evil villain completion against Vector (the orange jumpsuit man) to see who can steal the biggest and baddest thing.  Gru comes up with a plan to steal the moon!  But, first he must get a shrink ray from Vector.  To get this Shrink Ray he adopts three girls who sell cookies to get inside of Vector’s layer and steal back the shrink ray.  The girls to Gru were just to help him get back the Shrink ray, but they end up changing his heart. 
Throughout the movie we see glimpses of how Gru was treated as a child and how his mother treated him.  She always discouraged him, never motivated him, and never showed affection or love.  So, when Gru gets these kids for his scheme he has no idea how to treat them or how to show affection.  But, the smallest of the kids, named Agnes, shows love and affection to Gru immediately and when this happens, Gru is bewildered, and has no idea how to return it.  That little girl kept on showing love and physical affection to her adopted dad and he finally understood what it meant to love and what goodness was.  The movie ends with Gru being a hero and saving the world,  All because of a little girls openness to love and show affection.  
In my life I haven’t had the best affection from my parents, just like Gru.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t be a good dad, I’m motivated so much in life when I have kids to be the best dad I can be.  Agnes also shows it doesn’t matter how big you are physically, but how big your hearts it.  She changes a man’s life and shows him kindness he has never felt before.  I love this movie, because anyone can be a great dad, even if they didn’t have great parents, and no matter how big you are your heart can change anyone.  It’s all about how much effort we put into loving someone. Love is being able to let go of everything on the outside that hinders us, and show your true emotions and feeling from the inside.  Love is the true motivation in life…