Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

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Personal: My Week At Camp

July 22, 2012

My thoughts here are for my edification. I have definite opinions that are, for lack of better terms, of a conservative bent and will most likely offend on some level readers of this blog. My intent is not to offend. Nor is it to open up to debate my personal beliefs. If my beliefs cannot be respected, please do not continue reading this post and come back on another day.

I thought we teachers were supposed to be there to teach. Camp was for the campers. After what I experienced today, while I do so fervently hope I was a seed planter, I believe camp was for me.

We had a standard VBS curriculum to teach from, each teacher assigned one lesson and the campers rotate each day between us. God is with us. God cares. God gives us what we need. Jesus saves. God answers. I thought these last two were a little out of order, but then as the teacher of “Jesus saves” I was a bit overwhelmed by it all to begin with.

A while back God had to throw a brick at me to get me to understand that I never really allowed him to completely heal the wounds festering under the band-aids. I had to realize I needed total healing. I needed closure and while I did not know exactly what that meant I almost lost that chance. God has been sending canoes, boats, helicopters–just to get me ready to listen up.

Before I could even define what closure would mean to me, or even what consequences I would be willing to accept, I had to think about what I would even say to this person. My homework assignment was to write it down. I had a month to think about it and I was successfully avoiding it but I knew I had an appointment coming up. One thing I had to acknowledge was that I am good at not doing what I know I need to do in order to get better.

After two weeks of teaching and I could relax, I really couldn’t. I knew I had to get out my journal and write that closure letter.

God is with me.

The lesson was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace with the Spirit of God.

I’ve never been alone in the PTSD, the PPD, this illness, and recent struggles. My favorite non-scriptural poem is Footprints. I have seen and felt the times in my life where I was carried.

God cares.

The lesson was Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The first week the teacher had a hard time connecting the lesson with the principle. I said I would focus on the fact Jesus wept–He cared enough that He was emotionally invested even though He knew letting Lazarus die and raise him from the dead was to be an opportunity to show God’s glory and His own authority.

I think Jesus wept right along with me. I think He did not like the situation but it was the consequence of the actions of others. He cared enough to actually remove me from the situation and the physical distances helped shelter me. He cared enough to let me grieve the loss. And He wept with me.

God gives us what we need.

There were actually two lessons. For the class they focused on the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends and Jesus forgave the man of his sins rather than heal him as one might have expected him to do. He did ultimately make him walk again so that He could show he had the power and authority to heal both the body and the spirit. For the skit they focused on the Israelites complaining about starving and God giving them manna and quail rather than returning them to the Egyptians (what they thought they wanted).

I took my journal and I wrote and I wrote. I was so into it that I grabbed one of the other teachers and I said I would cover arts & crafts after dinner if she’d go solo without me before dinner. I walked over to the chapel in the woods. The purpose wasn’t an “I blame you for everything” exercise–I’ve said before (I hope on here but if not I will do that soon) that I blame no one. But I certainly wanted to give this person a “What-For: This is what I have been suffering with and your choices did nothing to help me.” It was angry and brutal. It was cathartic. I needed that.

Then I prayed out loud, looking at all of God’s nature surrounding me. “You showed me that I needed to ask you for this, for complete healing. Here I am. I want complete healing. Cut this wound out of me and cauterise it. Give me closure. I am willing to accept whatever results. I fully understand that may mean never speaking again. I will accept that. I am so tired. My brain can handle no more and now my body is turning against me. I want this finished. Please. Heal me.” Through my tears, I asked him for what I wanted and I was willing to risk the results of confrontation.

Before I get to the final lessons, let me say that God was working to answer me with what I needed, not wanted, without me realizing it. With the letter written I could think a little more clearly and I could think about what form closure could take. I began to wonder if the other person was not as much in the dark about my condition as I thought–I vaguely remember being told someone had told them. So perhaps such an “in your face” confrontation wasn’t even necessary.

As I posted, I chose not to go to my joke of a reunion. This changed my plans for Sunday morning. I could go home Saturday night. There would be no reason for me to go back if my BIL could take my daughter back to camp for me. Several events happened that were trying to keep me from being in the right place at the right time. I thank God that I was listening to that still quiet voice and I chose to go ahead and take T1 back to camp myself.

Jesus Saves.

I had passages from John 19 & 20. From his betrayal through Doubting Thomas and yes, I had only an hour to talk about salvation. Jesus kept his part of the promise that was laid out for us in Genesis 2. God is so faithful. We have to take part in that promise to be saved. It is deep stuff and at camp the children are coming from all kinds of backgrounds.

I already know I am partaking in that promise of hope of eternal life but John 20:29 “Blessed are those who have believed and yet have not seen” was about to apply to me in a very real way.

God Answers.

The lesson came from Paul and Silas in prison and the earthquake releasing their bonds. The jailor was so moved by the fact they did not try to escape that he sought to be saved. Christians act peculiarly, not in the ways the world would expect us to–who wouldn’t try to run? Our actions and choices that go against the norm leave an impression on those around us.

I was in the right place at the right time to hear this person that I needed closure with admit their fault and ask forgiveness (it is very complicated but it was not me they needed to ask forgiveness of … I just got caught in the crossfire). God answered. “Here is the closure you asked for … not what you wanted but what you needed.”

I could have totally responded with a bit of righteous indignation–what? That’s it? They get off without feeling my hurt? I just remember grabbing T1 and as I buried my face in her hair I just said over and over again “Thank you, God!” She couldn’t hear me so she later asked me why I was crying. “You don’t understand! This is what I prayed for! This! Just 48 hours ago!”

I may not have seen Him, but I know he was there. And He is blessing me with healing. He took the chains off me just like Paul and Silas… but I could have put them back on if I had not allowed Jesus’ healing to wash over me. I was so overwhelmed with emotion I barely heard what else was being said (the apology was accepted and forgiveness was freely given).

I don’t know why my prayer was answered. I don’t know why he turned his eyes toward me when surely others were hurting far worse than me. All I know is that only something far greater can come from this–He has a greater purpose than I do. I have been blessed by sharing my story to help someone else. If being healed completely allows me to do that again and then some, I hope and pray I stop trying to resist Him in my life.

I get goose bumps thinking about all that happened this morning. I wanted to go back to camp with T1 and go to the chapel and sing and shout praises to God with one of the staff. She wasn’t feeling well so I grabbed one of the teachers and told her–she got goose bumps too. I will try again when I go back to pick up T1.

I know that this process will continue. In one aspect I know it was instantaneous as only God can do but I know He needs me to learn and grow and “stop doubting.”

I cannot wait for the Chief to read this and to talk with him about it. I know some misunderstood my reaction to the situation and tried to say I was hurt by one thing when really I was hurt by how long it dragged on–I am very capable of saying “Go with God” because I believe He does move us on for His purposes. That seemed to baffle people (peculiar Christian behavior!). I did not shed tears of bitterness today. I have no need to have anything else said by or to this person about any of this–I was given the answers I so desperately needed. They were tears of happiness, praise and thanksgiving.

God is so awesome!

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Personal: The Good Samaritan

July 11, 2011

My thoughts here are for my edification. I have definite opinions that are, for lack of better terms, of a conservative bent and will most likely offend on some level readers of this blog. My intent is not to offend. Nor is it to open up to debate my personal beliefs. If my beliefs cannot be respected, please do not continue reading this post and come back on another day.

I have been MIA the past week because I have been enjoying time at Bible camp with T2. I don’t like to send them alone. Crazy, it’s Bible camp; I should be able to send them alone. But I like to be there, photographing every little thing, capturing the memories I know they’ll forget without me.

Anyway, my room and board and 1 camper is free if I teach. This year my lesson was Compassion: The Parable of the Good Samaritan. So I start out following the script but I love taking a passage and just expounding on it, making it come alive to the kids (although I start with the disclaimer that my goal is to be the most boring teacher they ever have!). I always end up learning something, either from one of their questions, or from looking at it a new way each day. My comments will be in italics.

Luke 10:25-37

New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

Who was this expert? Why was he trying to trick Jesus and catch him in an error? The expert lawyer was a Jew, and very educated. He had a stake in preserving Judaism. Jesus was making claims, talking about salvation, talking about eternal life. Technically none of this was radical if one truly understood God’s plan but there was a great deal of misunderstanding or putting man’s desires and interpretations on the old Law. Jesus did not come claiming his Way was better but instead that it fulfilled the old Law–as prophesied and told from the beginning (Gen. Ch. 2). Jesus was not coming to say the Son was better than the Father, nor that the Father’s Law was imperfect. The Lawyer wanted Jesus to say exactly that, but knowing the Lawyer’s heart Jesus turned the question back to him.

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Jesus was making the point that his message was no different from that of the Father. In its simplest form both the old Law and the new were the same–if you love God and love others, you need no other law and therefore living a life loving God and loving others you will live in a manner that will lead you to be obedient and inherit eternal life.

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

I also think the Lawyer was still trying to test Jesus. The Jews, and in many ways rightly so, believed they were better than those that lived near them. They were after all God’s created nation. They worshipped God and served him. I told the children that perhaps the Lawyer wanted to see who Jesus said was a neighbor because surely it wouldn’t be the Egyptians, the Persians, the Assyrians, the Romans currently occupying Jerusalem. It couldn’t possibly be the Samaritans who the Jews considered dogs.

**This is where I regret that I may have erroneously given the children bad information stating that the Samaritans were distant relatives–they were in fact other displaced people sent back to Israel territory; God had priests sent to these people in order to teach them about God and to worship him in the promised land. They had offered to help rebuild the temple but the Jews refused so they built their own and worshipped God elsewhere; but they  combined worship of God with worship of their native gods. DH said, bottom line is that they were considered second-class citizens by the Jews and this I did get right.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c]and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

We talked about the characters in the parable: the Jews, the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. We talked about how the priest and the Levite as revered members of the nation were considered the most godly and the most likely to help those in need. We talked about why the priest might not have wanted to help–laws prohibiting him from touching blood and dead bodies. “I have to be at the temple this month. If I touch him and he’s dead, I’ll be unclean. Surely someone else will come along.” The Levite had similar laws and we talked about how maybe he worried the man wasn’t hurt and was waiting to attack him. I admitted I am reluctant to help a panhandler when I have the children with me for this reason. We talked about how the traveler may have felt all was lost when the Samaritan came by. But the Samaritan only saw a human being in need of help. I pointed out that this may have made him even more trustworthy to the innkeeper who was asked to keep a tab. How many of us would keep a tab on the basis of a promise alone?

36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I pointed out that the expert in the law may have still had a problem admitting that the Samaritan was the true neighbor by the way he answered Jesus. He couldn’t bring himself to say “Samaritan.” Jesus repeats in his reply to go and be a neighbor to everyone. He also repeats that his message, by the lawyer’s won admission, was exactly what the old Law stated.

Some of the other lessons of the week talked about gratitude, faithfulness, forgiveness, and grace and were able to bring into the discussion baptism. I was trying to emphasize to the children that God’s plan had never changed and that Jesus was fulfilling the plan. In my allotted time I felt talking about compassion was the focus rather than finding more passages that answered specifically “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) Jesus wasn’t leaving that out but was answering the expert’s question about whether or not he was blaspheming against God and His Law. And talking about compassion was needed with this group of children when there were several incidents during the week of name-calling, teasing, bullying, etc., because others were different or they just didn’t get along. I wanted to emphasize that EVERYONE was a neighbor and we all had to show compassion–that law came from both the Old and New Testament.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
  2. Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
  3. Luke 10:35 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).
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