Love from Camp

You know those calls you wish never came?  The ones you can't prepare for.  The doctor with test results.  The family member with a tragedy.  The friend with an unknown illness.  The neighbor with a catastrophe.  You know the call.

Monday night during supper - I must confess - I did not take a call because I didn’t know the number & we were in the middle of the meal.  Voicemail would catch it.  Not even a minute later the same number called our home phone.  Then we knew it must be serious.  Melanie answered.

An emergency call from our children’s camp director.  A dear brother - an adult sponsor for our church kids - was just taken via ambulance to ER.  My heart sank in concern as my mind swam with possibilities.  I knew what I should do.  Who else would be available?  In the next few hours with completion of testing and doctor's consultation, confirmation arrived that I should go.  He and his wife - our other adult sponsor - needed to return home for further tests.

Wanting our girls to have a replacement sponsor as well, I called a sister from church.  Did she have any plans?  For the next four days?  Would she be willing to be the girl’s sponsor? She said yes.

Short on sleep, but ready to serve, we made the three hour drive and arrived for our kid camper’s breakfast Tuesday morning.  We shared hugs, prayers, and tears, then settled into the week.

It’s Tuesday afternoon as I write.  I am sitting here at camp.  In my cabin with no A/C.  Sweltering.  Yet I sit in joy.  The cacophony of children playing in the pool floating through my screened window.  The laughter of boys below tumbling up the steep staircase.  The assurance our kids have been reassured.  The knowledge our brother will get the best medical care from doctors who know him.

I do not write in order to make myself the hero.  Please do not read that.  I am just the pinch hitter.  I write because this could be you.  

Maybe you have been the one in crisis.  Maybe you have been the one to respond.  Maybe that crisis is now.

You know what the answer is?  The answer to make it through the crisis?  Love.  

Love is a verb.

Love serves.  Love gives.  Love sweats.  Love laughs.  Love cries.  Love hurts.  Love listens.  Love prays.

Love is parents willing to entrust their precious ones to others for a week that those children might learn more of the things of God.

Love is children leaving home with a little fear to find a lifetime full of faith.

Love is volunteers with more concerns than you know giving their week to a bunch of sweaty kids.

Love is a sister who had other plans this week out in the pool playing with kids right now.

Love is a child taking the hand of another who is homesick and walking the dirt path together.

Love is a brother laughing out loud as he throws ice water on children in the middle of a silly camp game on a hot afternoon.

This is love from children’s camp.  But love is so much more than this.

What is love in your life?  How have you given it?  When have you received it?

Call it out.  Write it down.  Pray it deep.  Live it out.

And - just in case - you are not loving or feeling loved, please join in.  Your life will never be the same when you do.

Love’s not easy.

But it’s worth it.

Difference Deference

ToMAYto. ToMAHto.

Difference. Deference.

God made me me. He made you you. He does nothing by accident. He makes no mistakes. Differences are His design. Without them a sad sameness world it would be.

Differences teach us. We do not need to homogenize our differences. We do need awareness where our differences may be an offense or threat to others. Christlike love compels me to humbly temper my differences in deference to others. I seek to honor others above myself. I strive to love others as I do myself.

Differences teach us. Awareness. Humility. Ourselves. Communication. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Cooperation. Variety. Unity. Functioning together as the Body of Christ.

I can do the relational math.

Different + different = bad deal.

Different + different = disturbingly difficult.

Or, as a Christ follower, the same equation comes out... different.

Different + different = God’s design.

Different + different = mutually beneficial.

A symphony has different instruments playing different parts in one composition led by one conductor. Differences are unified. Each instrument playing it's own part in it's own time. At other times that instrument is silent in deference to others.

A good meal has different dishes with different ingredients coming together to be pleasing as whole. Chili powder, caustic alone, is tasty when combined into the dish that bears it's name. Sugar, tasty alone, is even better when combined with other ingredients to bake your favorite desserts.

A human body has different parts with different functions that work together as a unified whole. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Verse 12 states, "The body is a unit, though it is make up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."

Rather than complain or ignore or avoid differences - particularly within local church bodies - let us celebrate & appreciate & embrace differences. Differences are God's gifts to be used to bring glory to His name & growth to His Kingdom.

It takes maturity. It takes humility. It takes deference.

It offers unity. It offers peace. It offers joy.

Difference deference.


Attractive

Got the kids all ready for bed. PJs on. Looking cute. Hair still a bit damp from bathtime. Smelling sweet. I think the Johnson's people must have done lots of research to know that making their shampoo smell like Flintstone vitamins would be pleasing to Daddys.  Sorry, the sweet smell of clean kids got me off story...

So, all five of us are in Seth's room.  Prayer time.  John Mark, two, is usually in bed before his siblings.  He's still awake tonight.  Overly energetic.  I'm kneeling down beside Mary Elizabeth. Trying to bring calm.  Melanie is about to sit on Seth's bed when he announces contrary plans, "I want John Mark to come up here on my bed with me.  Daddy, you come up here."
Me & John Mark together on Seth's bed doesn't compute in my Daddy brain.  Maybe I blew that fuse during my morning sermon prep.  Maybe I tripped that breaker running around with the kids before suppertime. So I ask, "Why do I need to come up there, Buddy?"
In second-grader simple logic Seth states, "John Mark's attracted to you, Daddy.  If you come up here.  He will too."
There you have it, friends.  I am attractive to my two year old son...
At least in the eyes of his almost eight year old brother I am.  That's something, right?  I may have thinning hair, an average face, & a less than stunning physique, but I can attract the toddlers.  Watch out, world!
I have to ask, however, as a Christ-follower: Who am I attractive to? What might make me attractive?
Jesus says he will draw all men to himself if I will lift him up.
He is attractive.
Lift him up.

 

Spacewalk

U.S. Astronauts began a risky spacewalk about two hours ago to repair & upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.  Among their maneuvers will be a camera upgrade. The old one allowed us never before seen views of space & will end up in the Smithsonian. The new one will look deeper into space & is the size of a baby grand piano.

The little boy inside me spoke up, "Wow! Wouldn't that be a cool thing to be doing this morning! Walking in space. Floating around. Seeing Earth like a glowing ball. Awesome!"
The grown man inside spoke next, "That took years of dedication & training to get there.  And even though those guys are weightless they are in those heavy, cumbersome suits.  And for each one guy out there working he actions are directed by countless many."  You've seen the space movies, right?  How many people watch monitors & give instructions & updates down here while a handful are up there?
The Christ-follower inside had the last word, "I can be weighed down & encumbered by the sins of this world, yet freed to weightless dependence as I confess to my Savior.  I am part of the Body of Christ, the church, & although we are many we seek our direction from only One, our Lord Jesus."  What needs confession today?  How is he directing me to follow?
Following Jesus.  A lifewalk.

 

Love One Another

There are a lot of "one anothers" commanded in the New Testament. Jesus both initiated & summarized those commands as quoted in John 13:34-35.

 

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Christ-followers should love one another. Sounds easy enough, right? But what does a loving relationship look like?

 

Don’t imagine amorous or romantic “love” when answering these questions. Don’t think of how you “love” grandma’s pie or when your favorite team wins. We are talking about biblical agape love—the otherish love—the type of love that elevates the needs of another person above our own. It is the opposite of self-ish. Many times it is self-less.

When is the last time you felt loved in an agape, otherish way? When someone served you—your family had a sickness or tragedy & others brought you meals, sent you notes, prayed with you, & even cleaned your house. When someone gave you their time—you needed help watching the kids or another set of hands to finish a project. When someone gave & would take nothing in return—you wanted to pay them because you were overwhelmed by their generosity of time or service. When someone sacrificed joyfully for you—you smiled or maybe even cried because you saw the joy in their eyes at being able to love you in an agape, otherish way.

As Christ-followers we can not make one another love in this agape, otherish way. We can’t force it. We can’t program it. We can’t require it.

Yet as Christ-followers we can expect it. We can pray for it. We can look for ways to employ ourselves for others. We can live it.

Do not withhold. Love. Do not complain. Love. Do not give up. Love. Do not judge. Love. Do not walk away. Love.

Love one another, Jesus said. Agape one another. Otherish one another. Put one another first. Humble ourselves. Elevate others. Sacrifice ourselves. Serve others.

By this agape, otherish love may we be known & make Christ known to the world.