My wife Mary and I just returned from serving on the staff at Camp Hye Sierra which ran from June 26 through July 3. A crucial purpose of the camp was to help the 214 teens and staff develop their personal relationship with God.
To be there was such a gift from God, but for everyone who didn’t have that opportunity, here are the
Recaps of the spiritual messages that were given:
In staff training, Camp Director Ed Dowd stressed that the campers are “not just some kids who show up.” God is calling them and offering them His promise of salvation (Acts 2:38-39). He regards them as “holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14). For all 214 camp participants, God is seeking “godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15).
Ben Light, in his split sermon, gave the example of Nicholas Winton who rescued 669 children from Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and then sought no glory for his selfless service. Mr. Light said the test is: Do those served grow as persons?
Fred Crow noted in his Sabbath split sermon that the environment we come from creates a flawed vision of right and wrong. We’re here at camp learning the values set by God. We don’t set the standard. Jesus Christ did. We do model it, showing one another that God’s Way works.
John Elliott, in his opening Bible study, said camp is a wonderful opportunity to develop “friendships and relationships. We can do so much more by working together in love.” He said “when you see God show up, He says ‘come’ and be part of the family and team.”
In his Campfire message, Mr. Dowd challenged everybody to “test God this week through obedience and see how He blesses us. God is giving us a beautiful opportunity to be part of something grand.”
Mr. Dowd led the Compass Check and showed that “God wants His way of life to be your foundation.” He highlighted Jesus Christ’s words in Matthew 5-7 that Jesus said we are to hear and do and pointed out that they are action words. We should not wait for life to come to us. “The righteous has an everlasting foundation” (Proverbs 10:25)
In Christian Living for staff, Mr. Crow said faith equals belief in action that comes by hearing and doing and being guided by God’s Word. Everything we do must be based on the foundation of faith and truth. Mr. Crow asked a provocative question: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” He closed with a favorite quote: “All scripture is God breathed, and He doesn’t waste His breath.”
Bill Grinnell in his activities meeting said “today should be a day of thankfulness and praise because we sure have experienced God’s blessings.”
In Compass Check, Mr. Elliott said “It’s through challenge and adversity that we grow.” While human nature around the world has tended toward personal independence where “it’s all about me,” and popular songs lament being used and dumped, Mr. Elliott said for us “today is a brand new choice. Here’s what it comes down to: daily choice.” Elenor Roosevelt wisely said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Mr. Elliott said “God’s Spirit is working with everyone in this room.”
In Christian Living for staff, Mr. Elliott said everywhere we see a trend for lawlessness which results in instability, confusion and corruption. But we can choose each day to have blessings for being guided by God’s Word. God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). “God gets involved and the most wonderful things happen. And it only gets better.” Mr. Elliott closed with Jesus Christ’s promise from Revelation 22:7: “Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
In Compass Check, Mr. Dowd said “We fight a different kind of war. The first casualty of war is truth.” But it is important to know the truth before the war comes. “The key to any war: be prepared.” Mr. Dowd said the best way to resist wrong is to avoid it, the way David said in Psalm 101:3: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” James 4:7-8, one of today’s memory scriptures, gives the formula for how to resist wrong: “Submit to God. Resist the devil … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
In Christian Living for staff, Mr. Crow said we must choose to resist wrong on a daily basis by being guided by God’s Word. 1 Peter 5:8 calls satan (small s because he doesn’t deserve a capital) a roaring lion, and Mr. Crow said he hides in plain sight. But James 4:7 says if we resist him, satan has no right to bother us and must flee. Mr. Crow said we must put on the whole armor of God which is forward facing and doesn’t cover the backside because we must never retreat. The assuring truth is that “we’re not on our own. God gives us the way to escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must not be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).
During Compass Check, Mr. Dowd stressed that “here at camp we are family.” God is building a big family. We want relationships like David and Jonathan built where they loved each other as themselves. Mr. Dowd said God’s mindset is based on the two greatest commandments of Matthew 22:37-39 and we must base all our decisions on these two commandments. He challenged “Apply them and see how God will bless you.” In John 15:14 Jesus says we are His friends if we do what He commands us—the commandments are not optional.
For Christian Living for staff, Mr. Delamater shared questions he was asked in camper Q & A sessions which ended up being about building relationships. He defined a godly relationship as being when God is involved in the relationship. Although people think of a relationship as being a one-on-one situation, Mr. Delamater said at least four individuals are involved including two people, God the Father and Jesus Christ our Brother. He said “If you want better relationships with others, improve your relationship with God.” As disciples of Christ, we want to “Look like our Master because we are building godly relationships.”
Mr. Grinnell encouraged activity staff to “run through the tape” rather than pull up upon nearing the finish line. He said “The campers deserve every bit of your passion. Sabbath is only the end of activities—not camp.”
Our Camp Director gave the Compass Check asking everyone to think carefully about goals and sub goals. But our ultimate goal should be to be in God’s family (Matthew 6:33). “This should be what drives us every day. God will provide the blessings so long as we’re doing verse 33.”
In his Bible study, John Elliott said we can know with full confidence that we will be in God’s Kingdom, which the Sabbath pictures, if we are doing the one thing: becoming children of God in God’s family by developing the mind of God to show agape love to God and fellow man (Matthew 22:40). He who overcomes in this manner knows God the Father will share His eternal life with him (Revelation 21:7).
During the 2 p.m. Sabbath service in the Pavilion, in his split-sermonette Alex Love talked about how to trust God to be in control like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did rather than be like Ned Kelly, a legendary Australian outlaw who took matters into his own hands deciding for himself what was right and wrong.
In the second split-sermonette, Derrick Slocum gave three ways to keep our direction centered on God: We need a good foundation; we must choose God’s blessings; and we must build godly relationships. He gave a great illustration of how two people at the bottom of a triangle which has God at the top of the triangle, when they are both seeking God’s direction in their lives, will be moving closer together. In contrast, two people where one is seeking God’s direction but the other is rebelling away from God, will be moving farther apart.
In his sermon, Mr. Dowd started off talking about driving Highway 180 into King’s Canyon which is dubbed “The Road to Nowhere.” He said “satan wants us to be on this road to nowhere and turn back overwhelmed and spiritually tired.” But God wants us to “take everything we’ve learned this past week and use it as a springboard to next year.” He challenged us to choose the narrow, difficult path that few find (Matthew 7:14) in three steps: 1) Identify why by seeing the big picture. 2) Make the commitment and become baptized. 3) Ensure that every aspect of your life aligns with the right road. He concluded that “God the Father and Jesus Christ are right now working miracles in your life. Take the road to God’s Kingdom and continuously be guided by God’s Word.”
These are wonderful spiritual lessons for all of us to learn and build on as the family of God.
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