Jul 15, 2014

What Do You Have That You Have Not Been Given?

Our culture has a widespread sickness. It goes by several different names; entitlement; instant gratification; the "I deserve ______" complex, just to name a few. This sickness is easy to recognize in other people's lives, but somehow sneaks into our own more discreetly. 
This summer as we have studied through Philippians with the camp staff, we have particularly focused on chapter two and the example of humility in Christ. The Lord has exposed a strain of that same sickness in my life; its name is Pride. Pride is an ugly word, and an even uglier character trait. 
As I have been studying in Corinthians in my own personal devotions, the Lord drew my attention to II Corinthians chapter 3, and particularly verse 5: "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."

Two questions came to mind through which the Lord exposed areas of Pride in my life. As you read them and some of the examples I give from my own life, I would encourage you to examine your own heart through these same questions.

1: How do I try to be self-sufficient?
  • I don't like asking for help, even when I obviously need it.
  • I often respond badly to correction.
  • I go through entire days/weeks without praying intentionally & confessing my need for God.
  • I often give scripture-less counsel.
  • I don't often live in a way that actually requires faith; I live carefully inside my own resources & abilities.
  • I search for solutions to problems within myself, then talk to others about it, then if the problem is still there, then I'll pray about it.
  • I interact with others as though I am the one who can change them.
  • I guard the things I'm good at and I am unwilling to serve in areas that expose my weaknesses.

2: What do I claim as coming from myself?
  • Often I take pride in my knowledge of scripture, as if the desire for things of God came from within me.
  • I claim any kind act I do as coming from me rather than God's work in my life to be more like Christ in loving others.
  • Anything thing I've "earned"
    • Accomplishments
    • Position
    • Possessions
    • Relationships

The lists are far more extensive than these, but too complex to explain in a blog post as my flesh loves to deceive me into claiming any good thing as coming from me. But as Paul reminds us in Romans 7, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." Any good thing that comes from me is only the result of God's mercy in my life & the work of His Holy Spirit. And any good thing that comes to me, I am not entitled to; I did not earn it; I do not deserve it. As I Corinthians 4:7 asks, "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"

Without the mercy of God and the work of Christ in my life, I am spiritually destitute.
Agreeing with God about our true state leaves very little room for pride. Cultivating a thankful heart leaves very little room for pride. 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV

Jul 8, 2014

Sunsets and Pasta

Hello all!

I hope that you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!
Titus and I were very busy on Saturday, but got to spend some sweet time together Sunday. Here at camp we have what we call "power groups." That group contains one leadership team member, & then 3-4 op-staff, counselors, and other staff members. This makes up the group that we study Philippians with each week, it also provides accountability & encouragement throughout the summer as we grow to be close friends! We also have "power group projects," which is an act of service that each group is expected to do over the course of the summer. Our group chose to send a newly-wed staff couple on a date night. And when I say newly-wed, I mean they had only been married a little over 2 weeks before they jumped into the insane busyness of camp. So they can definitely use a night away together! So we got a dress, jewelry, & a gift card to a really cute restaurant for them. Since all shopping is at least 45 minutes away, it took a good part of Saturday to get it together. But we had a ton of fun together!When I got back, I began cooking for a get-together Titus & I have been planning for a while.
I have personally been challenged through Titus 3 (the Bible passage, not my husband---though he is awesome!) about being hospitable, and using our resources to serve and encourage others. So we had my power group, Titus' powergroup, the logistics team, & a few friends over for some pasta! It was a ton of fun! We don't have furniture in our apartment here at camp, so we all just sat on the floor =)

Here are links to the recipes we made; they are some of our favorites!
  • One Pot Pasta; this one is super easy and quick! I usually get some spicy sausage & add it too =)
  • Garlic Alfredo Sauce; by far the group favorite! Another simple, quick recipe.
  • Pad Thai; my current favorite recipe. It even got approval from our friend, Moses, who is from Laos & eats authentic Thai food most of the time!

There is something special here at Northland about the sunsets; each one has been so spectacular! Titus & I enjoyed a walk around campus after everyone had left from our pasta night, & then we made it back just in time before a storm hit! 

This week has been really good so far. We have a wonderful mix of campers; some I counseled from 2 years ago, so it has been fun to see them again! Please pray for our staff and campers this week; there are many first time campers here; many seniors; there is a large group of Burmese and Chinese campers who speak little to no English, so pray that this week would be fun for them & not overwhelming. Pray that campers would taste & see that God is good, & have a desire for His word & to continue growing after camp. Pray for many staff who are sick, especially counselors. Pray for the sponsors, some of which have been through a hard year of ministry & just need some encouragement. And please pray that we as a staff would continue to grow through the Philippians study. It has been so impacting, but this is the time of the summer when we tend to get more self-reliant & work in our own strength instead of God's. We need God to work, or nothing of eternal importance will happen. Pray that God would do a great work this summer! 

Thank you in advance for your prayers! If you would like to listen to the study through Philippians, I highly recommend taking the time to do so! You can find all of the sermons from this summer at NorthlandCamp.org.