Saturday, May 30, 2009
Lake Beauty Bible Camp is a mountain top experience in so many ways; emotionally, physically, spiritually. It can be a lot to take in and ponder. The speaker over the Memorial Day weekend was Joel Ruud, who had been programs manager at the camp for several years back in the 80's and early 90's (back when I would have been a camper). God used so many of the things he talked about to encourage, convict, and move me.
His main outline for the weekend:
You were created
in His image
to develop His character
and bear His fruit
while using His gifts
to do good works
which reflect His image.
To start out the sessions we had to say, out loud, the words with Him. Then say the words using "I" rather than "You", then we had to turn to the person next to us (luckily it was Rob and not somebody like Uncle Jim:) and say the words to them. What a simple, but powerful thing to do. Instantly I was convicted, especially while saying the words to Rob. What a way to look at ourselves and others in this context.
He started the weekend out with the challenge to remember who we are in Christ: Wanted and Hated. God doesn't just love us, He likes us. You (and I) are wanted by God, therefor we are hated by the devil. We need to get to the point in our lives when we start to realize who we are in Christ (fearfully and wonderfully made, heirs, not condemned any longer, more than conquerors, not just capable of surviving but thriving, imperishable, a chosen people, loved, a bride, empowered) and start acting like it. The grace of God becomes the power of God.
But watch out for the one who hates you, the devil. His schemes are always at work. Five things to be aware of from the enemy, which are not always obvious: accusation, condemnation, blame, shame, and the threat of thinking we are not good enough. Joel went on to show how we are constantly being beat down (by ourselves, others, family, etc.) and how we need to learn how to lift each other up. We need to remember who we are, we are God's chosen; when we forget that, we forget God.
The enemy wants us to forget who we are, by outright attempts to hurt us, make us forget who we are, to distract us, to tempt us to do evil, to not take our responsibilities seriously, by only living to make ourselves happy, to make us dissatisfied, to constantly want more. He denies us the opportunity to use our God given gifts and abilities, he denies us our value, removes our hope, until we are put into a position of thinking that we are "nothing" (without the group, without the boyfriend, without the new this or that, etc.), we start to think that it is us who fixes or solves things, not God.
The enemy makes us forget who we are. When we forget God, we forget who we are. Distractions take us further away from God and who we are. God has given each one of us gifts to be used for good works. The enemy does not want to see us use those so he destroys, distracts, delays and denies.
I am what the Father sees in me, not what the imposter sees in me. Remember who I am.
Joel went on over the weekend to talk about how we need to learn to live as Christ followers so as to have a close relationship with God; one that develops His character, bears His fruit, and does His good works to reflect God's image. We need a "Tent of Meeting" (somewhere to be alone with God), we need a time of meditation (regular time in prayer and scripture), we need to decide to leave a legacy with our life and how we live (what legacy are you leaving?), we need to trust God.He reminded us that we are not called to do good works (John 15), but that we are called to abide in Christ. The good works are the results. For a Martha person, that was hard to understand, but it is something God has slowly been revealing to me. First I am called to abide in Him.
He went on to talk about those gifts. We are not starting anything new, but joining God where He is already working. When we use the gifts God gives us we will be energized by them through His Spirit (I have decided blogging must be a gift of God:). Even the world around us wants us for our good works. Our worth is not defined by our good works. Our works should be an act of worship. Our works are a response of what God has done for us; they need to be kept in balance in our life. Our theology reflects the gifts He gave us. We reflect our beliefs of God through our works.
God "gifts" us, but we are also responsible to develop those gifts. Our spirits are awakened when we use our gifts. Things may not be our gifts, but we still have to live up to our responsibilities; no excuses. He went on to list several gifts. Some that I see in myself (and some that were pointed out to me over the weekend) are administration, discernment, hospitality, serving, and teaching.
The ultimate purpose for gifts is to glorify God. If you deny having any gifts at all, you call God a liar - scripture says that everybody has been given a gift from God. Before we can use those gifts fully, we must develop God's character in us. We have to allow God to bring us through a formation process while growing our gifts. God has created the good works for us to do. Sometimes God puts us in a "place of rest", where our gifts are not always meant to be used, but our character grown.
These teachings were spread throughout 6 chapel sessions, so if you are still with me, Kudos to you!
Along with that, I have been encouraged to do the following in my walk:
*Study my children and husband and become a prayer warrior for them. Start a prayer journal including specific struggles of sin, growth areas, praise notes, as God leads. In the past I used to keep a personal list of specific prayers for them, and be faithful in praying for them. My prayers of late have been summed up by keep them safe and salvation; very apathetic. Including myself in that list would be good, too.
*Rather than seeking areas to use my gifts, start praying for God to reveal the good works He has already planned for me, then put my efforts there. I have been getting a bit burnt out chasing leads of where and how to use my gifts that bring great joy, and this was a great reminder to again trust God in all things.
*Listen for God. Not in hearing His audible voice, but just slowing down and asking for His leadership, direction, wishes. Rather than throwing a prayer at Him, truly waiting and listening for His response. In the past few days I have heard His answers already. What a faithful Father.