Sunday, August 21, 2011

Boot Camp

Earlier this Summer, I began volunteering as a small group leader in Transit, the middle school program at Browns Bridge Church. For the sixth graders, Transit holds a weekend camp called "Boot Camp" to kick things off after school starts to help create community in the small groups. This is a huge experience for these rising 6th graders as for many, it is their first camp experience on their own.

Sporting my new boot camp haircut #transitbootcamp on Twitpic
I elected to implement a special haircut for the Boot Camp weekend.

The response this year was huge, around 200 6th graders signed up, so five buses were waiting at send-off to shuttle us to the FFA campground near Covington, GA. After everyone got signed in, there were tons of Pizza waiting for the kids before we hit the highway.

Bus load of 6th graders hyped up on pizza and coke...1hr ride... on Twitpic
The buses were electric with the kids chattering and activity on the highway.

Once we arrived at the camp, everyone got introduced to two characters that would be camp leaders for the weekend, Sgt. Peppers and Col. Sanders. The campers were divided up into companies and provided a company flag. Our camp leaders informed the campers that there would be a competition for the prized "golden helmet".

A late night Worship was held with high energy music and singing followed by an engaging talk. After meeting with our small group to discuss the evening's message, we finally hit the bunks around midnight. Of course, the boys were wound up and had not intentions of sleeping. The last boy finally quit talking around 4am.

We were awakened to an air horn around 8am and the Saturday began with a trip to the Mess Hall.

Morning worship #transitbootcamp on Twitpic

Saturday was a blur of quiet time, Worship, more thought provoking talks, small group time, and team competitions that included events like Dodge Ball in the rain, kick ball with wading pool bases (and a slip-in-slide going into home plate's pool), finding gummy worms in a mixing bowl full of Cheerios (no hands!), and seeing how many kids good get in a canoe before it sank. A pool competition saw events like swimming relay (in an army jacket), alligator (the inflatable float kind) wrestling, and small group leader belly-flops.

Here is a video from Worship. Yes, these are 6th graders worshipping.

Saturday night's Worship and message was highlighted by the best presentation of the Gospel that I have ever heard. The campers were challenged with having a Faith of their own. One of the boys in our group decided to accept Jesus as his personal Saviour and small group time saw the boys ready to really share on what they heard and what ti meant to them.

Sunday started early with the boys cleaning up the cabin and packing their bags. Lots of help was needed returning the cabin to cleanliness and getting sleeping bags rolled back up. A final Worship experience, and then we were back on the buses headed home. It was very apparent that the kids were as worn out as the leaders as the noise level was significantly lower on the trip back.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Never Beyond a Second Chance: Scandalous Grace and Insane Forgiveness

Who Deserves a Second Chance?

If you are anything like me, you have struggled with forgiving the folks in life that have abused you, taken advantage of you, hurt you, have regularly offended you, speaks poorly of you, hurts your family members or someone close to you.

Some folks seem more worthy of my forgiveness than others. So, my natural tendency is to forgive the ones that are worthy of forgiveness and not the rest. That seems justifiable and logical. Seems fair enough, right? There is not any real need to forgive someone that is down right evil and has no desire to change their actions, right?

In 2006, a very tragic thing occurred in Nickel Mines, PA. Charles Roberts, the local milk truck delivery man, stormed into a one-room school house and began shooting. He shot ten young girls, killing five, and then killed himself. The families of the Amish school girls were devastated. We can barely imagine their grief.

If anyone had a reason to withhold forgiveness, it certainly would seem the Amish families of Nickel Mines had as much justification as anyone. How did they respond? They refused to degrade his character. Half of the people that attended his funeral were Amish including the parents who had just buried the children a few days prior. Amish families visited the shooter's widow and carried her meals and flowers, and they contributed to a fund for her family. When asked about their views, the Amish explained that if the shooter had lived, they would have wanted him locked up - not out of revenge, but for the safety of other children.

A book has been written about the shooting and the Amish response - Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher.

Are the Amish right? Are they setting an example for the rest of the world that we should be taking to heart? Are we allowed to pick and choose who we forgive? Are we obligated to give grace if we accept God's grace in our lives?

The Bible has a couple of things to say on the issue:

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matthew 6:14-15

People of the Second Chance(POTSC) is launching the NEVER BEYOND Poster Series: 25 posters representing well known historical, current and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society. This campaign consists of digital and print posters and the full collection will eventually be displayed as a touring art exhibit.

The campaign draws out themes of forgiveness, grace and what a pathway to a second chance looks like.

The image at the top of this post is the first of their 25 poster series. Do you recognize the image? It is Casey Anthony. You may recall she was accused of murdering her two year old daughter, Caylee and was found not guilty. Casey Anthony ABC News Article

Could you give Casey Anthony a second chance? Would the Amish families in Nickels Mine, PA? As a Christian, are we called to give her a second chance?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Book Review: Rumors of God - Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson

In a life filled with tension and stress, the promises we read in the Bible seem to be far different that what we experience day to day. Are the promises true? Are the things we read in the Bible just simply rumors of God or are they truths that we can actually experience in our own lives? Is God real? Is He still moving in the lives of those who call out to Him? Do you fell like your life leaves you wanting more? Is there really a "new life" in Jesus like the old television preachers used to talk about? Do you feel jaded by the church? Are you cynical about the power of God in the current day and age?

The authors, Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson, discuss the rumors we have all heard about God, but we fail to see in the world around us. Rumors like justice, hope, freedom, love, community, abundant life, generosity, another life, an unimagined future, and commitment. They invite us to find those rumors are all around us everyday and provide numerous real life stories of everyday people who have found them. They manage to take scriptures we have heard all our lives and even forced to memorize and show them truly at work in today's world.

This book is encouraging to read in a world that constantly seems to bombard us with discouragement.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”