Friday, July 24, 2009

Camp, Part 3

Warning: Long post ahead

When I enrolled at Bethel College in the spring of 1995 I did not know what my major would be. That summer after I graduated from high school I was temporarily given the reins of the youth group at my church. I led a group of about 15 junior and senior high students that entire summer and became convinced that youth ministry was in my future.

I declared Christian Ministries as my major before my freshman year began in the fall of 1995. Things didn't go so well once school started. I quickly realized that my lack of study skills was going to hurt me in this new level of education. Plus I took Greek my first semester - a bad decision, in hindsight.

There were some spiritual highs that first semester, but things quickly took a turn for the worse over Christmas Break and the start of the second semester. I lost my academic scholarship at the end of my freshman year and decided to switch my major from Ministry to Communication.

I had been involved in my school newspaper and yearbook during high school and really enjoyed that type of thing. It quickly became apparent that my talents were more suited to a communication major than a ministry major - at least that's what I've always told myself and others.

It's true that my new set of classes came easier to me and I enjoyed them more, but I'm not sure it was completely because I was talented in those areas. I think there might have been a slight sense of relief not to be carrying around the "future pastor" tag. I was able to let myself just be a student and not worry about my spiritual health.

Obviously, that was not a good state for me to be in, but I didn't realize it until later. I flourished in my new major and I'm still glad I made the switch, although I don't believe my sense of being called to ministry was false. It has always been in the back of my mind and, at times, at the front of my spirit.

I am happy to be in the position I am in. I love being a graphic designer and I've loved all the jobs I've had since graduating from college. I loved the newspaper industry and I thoroughly enjoy working in a church now. Getting to use my creativity every day is a true blessing.

What's all this got to do with Summer Camp?

Well, something happened at Senior High Camp that I never expected. I felt that call to get involved in ministry again. As students and leaders wrestled with being willing to accept the full gospel of grace, repent of any known sin and hear God's voice I was agonizing over what was happening to me.

There was plenty of sin, past and present, that I needed to repent of. There was the reality that God loves me with a ridiculous, unconditional love. That was a hard one to accept, believe it or not. There was also this voice telling me that I was supposed to help others accept His grace, forgiveness and love. That's a lot to process, all at once. Plus, I was supposed to be ready for students to come to me for prayer and counseling.

Well, like He always has, God got me through it. I had the privilege of talking to and praying with several students. I also had plenty of time to pour out my soul to Jesus and ask Him to take control of my life ... again.

So, this is where I now find myself:

Seeking specific direction on how I am supposed to minister to others. I know for sure that I am going to work with Senior High Small Groups this coming school year. And, maybe that's the extent of my involvement, but I feel like there's more in God's plan for me.

I've come face to face with my own shortcomings and struggles with sin. I've also come face to face with God's incredible, senseless love for me and the forgiveness that only He can give. And I want to share all of it with anyone who needs it.

If you think of it, please pray for me as I continue to search for God's will and how He wants me to pursue this calling. It's not going to be an easy road. I'm going to be under attack. But, it's worth it.

God has called me to something bigger than myself and ...


Monday, July 20, 2009

Camp, part 2

Here's my Top 5 from camp, in no particular order:

1. Bus rides
One of the parts of camp I felt a little uneasy about heading into it was getting to know new people. I've never been one to really start up conversations with people I don't know. I'm kind of an introvert.

On top of that, we were forced to sit with people we didn't know on the bus ride to camp.

It turns out I had nothing to worry about. All the students and leaders were incredibly willing to get to know new people. There were plenty of games played with the intention of learning more about the people around you.

It was about a 6-hour ride (including three stops) and by the time we got to camp, I already knew about 20 new names. The ride home was just as good. I rode on the freshman bus most of the way home and it was a great time.

Time Alone With God is a key component of Student Ministries here at NMC. And at camp it is a point of emphasis. Each day we spent time by ourselves getting to know our Heavenly Father. Saturday morning we spent about two and a half hours working our way through several different stations designed to help us connect with God in unique and creative ways.

My TAWG was very powerful and enlightening. I was led to many key verses and even memorized a verse - something I haven't done for a very long time. I also was given some clear direction for how I should spend my time at camp and with the five guys in my cottage.

Celebration Time was what we called our gatherings. These times included worship, sharing and messages from leaders.

The theme of the camp was Brace Yourself, but another major phrase that emerged from camp was, "I WANT IT!"

Brace Yourself comes from Job 38:3 when God questions Job. If you're not familiar with Job's story, it goes like this:

Job was a righteous man who was also blessed with a large family and many possessions. God allowed Satan to test Job by killing his family and taking away all his possessions. When Job praised God despite all this, God allowed Satan to strike Job's body with painful sores. Even then, Job did not sin.

Derry used Job's story to lead us into the question, "How bad do you want it?" Job lost everything, including his own health, and still gave God his praise. He must have wanted it pretty bad.

As a response to God's call on our lives, Derry encouraged us to walk out to the bluff overlooking Lake Erie and let God know how bad we want it. Hearing students and leaders alike scream, "I WANT IT!" at the top of their lungs was a moving event.

4. Cedar Point
Obviously, Cedar Point is a fun place and something you'll always remember. We were told a number of times, however, that the best way to spend a day at Cedar Point is with a large group - 20 or more people.

I was skeptical, but I quickly learned the truth of that statement. The first group I spent time with was 37 people. Getting to know the people in your group is really fun. Playing games and singing makes the wait in line go so much faster. Then when you actually get on the ride, it is so much fun to be on the ride with a bunch of people you know.

I went on Wicked Twister, Max Air, the Mine Ride, Magnum (twice), Raptor, Blue Streak, Sky Ride, Gemini and Millennium Force. The only rides I really wanted to go on but couldn't were the Dragster and Maverick.

5. Leaders
Several times throughout the first two days of camp I hear the term, "All-Star Group" being thrown about in reference to the group of leaders. I surely didn't feel like an All-Star, especially since this was my first experience with the students at NMC. But I quickly figured out why the leaders were earning such high praise.

This group was a high-impact, high-energy and high-quality gathering of adults who were ready to invest in the lives of students. They brought fun, enthusiasm, laughter and spiritual leadership to the table. I am so blessed to have been part of this group. I learned a lot about leading in the five days I was away at camp.

Here's the list of leaders I am talking about:
Geoff Cocanower, Kory Lantz, Kyle Lantz, Scott Cline, Adam Hochstetler, Derry Prenkert, Josh Lutz, Jeff Simpson, Kenny McIntyre, Matt Schoettle, Will Cramer, Dustin Gill, Annie Cline, Alison Gingrich, Cindi Lantz, Janelle Lambert, Janelle Prenkert, Stacey Seitz, Jen Szohr, Tiffany Christensen, Alyssa Walter, Peggy Bearss, Katie Weiss, Kristy Mikel, Brenda Sittler, Janet Stone, Jess Noelle, Dustin Gill, Brad Bullock, Chad Loucks and Terry & Kelly Bley.

There's probably one more post about camp coming, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Camp Slideshow: Tuesday

Camp slideshow: Monday

Camp Slideshow: Sunday

Camp Slideshow: Saturday

Camp Slideshow: Friday

Camp, part 1

I lost my voice, injured my right hip and hamstring, got sunburned and lost my cell phone at Cedar Point.

But it was absolutely worth it!

Senior High Camp was an incredible experience for several reasons:

1. I saw God.

2. I met a bunch of new people.

3. I had tons of fun.

4. I received a specific call from God.

5. I truly worshiped God.

6. I spent time with and learned from some incredible leaders.

There's a lot of stuff I should share about camp, and I will. For now, though, I'm going to work on posting the photos I took. There's a ton of them, so I'm splitting them up into several slideshows and I'll post each of them separately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My first time at camp

Growing up, I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I was a momma's boy. I'm thankful for the closeness I had to my mother but I can see now that I probably missed out on some great experiences because of my timidity and need to feel safe.

One experience I never had growing up was going to a summer camp. Almost all of my friends went to camps, whether it was a church camp, a sports camp or whatever. Not me. I played baseball and golf in the summer and spent lots of time in the swimming pool. As I got older I worked all summer.

In two days I am going to my first summer camp, albeit as a leader. I am attending Nappanee Missionary Church's Senior High Camp in Vermillion, Ohio. My wife and I will serve as leaders of 5-6 senior high students for five days and four nights.

I am really excited for this trip, but also a bit nervous. It's been a long time since I've worked with students in any way, let alone in a spiritually intense atmosphere like summer camp. I've become so wrapped up in the lives of my children (the way it should be) that I wonder if I've lost touch with today's senior high students.

So, if you've got time over the next 6 days and if you think about it, would you pray for me? Pray that I'll be a tool God uses to minister to students and that I won't get in the way of that. Pray for the students that they'll be able to see God through the efforts of myself and all the other leaders.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


There are lots of reasons why I'm thankful for getting to live where we do. The lake, the space, the peace and quiet, the neighbors.

One more reason was discovered last night when the kids and I went berry picking right behind our house. We spent about a half hour trying not to get stuck with thorns and came up with this bowl full of wild raspberries. They were delicious. And spending time with the kids doing something new was the best part!

Fort-4-Fitness 4-Mile Training Log

I am planning to run the 4-mile race at this year's Fort-4-Fitness Festival in Fort Wayne on September 26. Last year my wife, Katie, and I joined our friends Craig & Jill in the Half-Marathon. None of us was willing to put the time in this summer to run the Half again, but we are all going to do the 4-mile race.

So, today was the first day of training for that race. I have no worries about finishing the race, like I did last year, but I do have a goal. I want to finish the race in less than 32 minutes. That's going to be a tough one for me to meet, but that's what I'm shooting for.

I'm going to update this Log each day that I do some training, so if it interests you check back often.

Day 1
Wednesday, July 1
2.25 miles - 20:42
This was not a fun run. I pushed myself harder than I normally would because I want to train myself to run at a faster pace than what I'm used to. It was pretty taxing, but I made it and I'm happy with that time. That's a 9:12/mile pace. I've go to get down to 8:00/mile to meet my goal. A long way to go, but a good start!

Day 2
Thursday, July 2
3 miles - 29:14
This was very much a grind-it-out run. I really didn't want to run. I almost used the weather as an excuse to not do it. There was a very, very fine mist, but nobody would call it rain. So I did it. I walked once at about the 2.5-mile mark for about 20 seconds. I'm glad I did it.

Day 3
Monday, July 6
2.25 miles - 20:28
After a long, tiring weekend, I didn't feel like getting up the 40 minutes early to run. But I did it anyway and it turned out to be a pretty good run. My pace was 9:05/mile, which is not bad for me. After lots of volleyball on Saturday and tubing Sunday, I am pretty sore. My knees were the most painful, but my feet and ankles also felt pretty bad. So, good run despite all the negatives working against me!