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Monday, July 28, 2008

God at Bate's Creek

Last week I was asked by our student minister, Aaron Sutton, to go down on Wednesday to Bate’s Creek Camp and spend the day teaching, participating in worship, and taking part in a question and answer session with the teenagers who were at camp there. I was glad to do so, but I must admit my expectations weren’t very high. I’ve been to camp before, you see, and kind of had an idea what to expect. You know, kids who tolerate the teaching time so they can get back to doing the things they’re really interested in doing.

What a welcome surprise to discover that this year things were quite different. Oh there were the usual displays of drama, and the cuts and bruises that accumulate whenever you have kids at camp. But from the moment I arrived it was clear God that had been moving upon the hearts and lives of many of the young people who were there in a way that is very encouraging.

One of the things that really impressed me was the response I saw from the teens in the class I taught. Aaron had asked me to speak on “What is the Gospel.” But when he told me that this would be an “elective” class held during “free time” just before supper, I thought, “Well great, that one kid that shows up and I can have a great time.” Much to my surprise fifty young people came on their own to study the Bible when they didn’t have to.

That’s amazing enough. But what really encouraged me were the answers I received to a series of questions I asked them about the Gospel. I expected to get the usual, shallow answers one usually finds in a room full of teens. To my great shock and surprise, this group of kids displayed a real depth of understanding and a deep hunger to get even more. Questions like, “What did Christ accomplish on the cross?” were met with answers like, “He gave Himself to be my substitute and took God’s wrath in my place!” Wow! I was blown away! I soon realized that this was a group of kids I could go deep with, and not only be understood, but also find that the truth was greatly appreciated. There’s no other way to say it, these kids were hungry to know God.

I especially appreciated the spirit and attitude of the youth from First Baptist DeSoto. It was clear that their youth pastor,Gene Smith , is doing a great job teaching and discipling them. Brother, it was great to meet you and your kids. I hope we’ll get to work together again in the future.

Another encouraging event was the late night question and answer session that I shared with Pastor Jeremy Muniz (also from FBC, DeSoto) and two of his staff guys (Gene and John). The young people asked more questions than we could ever have taken time to answer - but they were good questions. And even though we went way too long – they patiently listened the whole time. Quite amazing. I’ve rarely seen that many young people giving their full (or mostly full) attention to something like that when they were not being entertained, but were instead being given clear answers instruction from God’s Word.

Thank you Bro Jeremy for being a part of the whole thing with me. It was a joy to be able to field such good questions with a like-minded brother. God has given you much wisdom for your young age – I suspect that it comes through your complete dependence on the source of all wisdom – His inerrant word!

Another thing to mention, Bro John (also from DeSoto) did an incredible, Christ-exalting job of leading the kids in worship. I’ve been to many of these things where the music was more of a play time than anything else, and the cross of Christ barely an after-thought. So many today seem to think you’ve got to focus on the kids themselves and make them think the whole thing’s about them - or they won’t be interested. But that’s exactly what they don’t need. Most of their problems in life will come from thinking that it is all about them ( Isn’t that the very nature of sin?). What they need is a vision of the majesty of a Christ Who is big enough to cause them see that it’s not about them, it’s never been about them, and it can’t possibly be about them. They need to understand that there is a God Big and Glorious enough and Sovereign enough to demand their total allegiance, and able to satisfy their souls forever! You, with the help of the Holy Spirit, gave them that. I so much appreciate your leadership.

And finally, Bro Aaron, I will tell you again, how much I appreciate your hard work this past three weeks. I know you’re tired. But you wanted to make this about Christ, and you did so. I believe there will be a rich, future harvest of grace worked in many lives by God through your faithful obedience to Him this past month.

And to the rest of you who may happen to have read this far. I share this word of thanks with all of you as a word of encouragement. God has not abandoned this present generation. He’s still at work revealing Himself and His ways to hungry hearts. I pray you will come to Him hungry as well, and draw near to Him expecting to hear from him as you open His Word. And I pray God will open your eyes to the Majesty of His Son Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again to give life us who put our trust in Him.

Soli Deo Gloria
(To God Alone Be the Glory)

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