Every year Josh gives away loads of free poplar on Kijiji, chunks of firewood cut up from deadfall and snags. The bark and branches are heaped into a huge pile of kindling for a late winter bonfire... And each time that pile is lit, a striking image of our consuming God leaps into view. Fire is powerful, cleansing, obliterating. A few weeks ago, the kids and I noticed a strange sight at camp: a weeping birch stump. The tree had been taken down before winter, leaning as it was too near the chapel. Warmed again by spring sunshine and bathed in melting snow, the roots were producing and the sap was running! Only the tree was gone. An older stump right next to it was as dry as bone. Refining. Cutting and pruning. Neither of these images are comfortable, and both have hit home in a new way this spring. With regular summer camps cancelled, we have experienced the ordinary run of emotions associated with any shock of loss: denial, annoyance, a sense of overwhelm, bargaining or trying to reason through it, and then acceptance. And yet: we serve an extraordinary, unchanging God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). His refining fire is flawless (Mal. 3:3). He is the root who comes up from a dead stump (Isaiah 11:1) and ultimately triumphs in all things (Rev. 5:5). What does that mean, here and now? Well, life still abounds! The question is, what will the life of Christ look like at camp this summer? We don’t know! But here are a few things we’re wondering about: WORSHIP With outdoor group gatherings of up to fifty people now allowed, and groups of fifteen allowed to gather indoors, we’d love to see both planned and spontaneous worship happening at camp. Prayer meetings, campfires, worship services... We’d like camp to be available to our local church connections. WORK Josh has a number of project ideas on this front. Please pray for him and the Board to have wisdom as they decide what to focus on and how to organize time and volunteers. Please pray also that God will provide the funds for these projects. WELCOME Meadowlodge exists for evangelism and discipleship; for welcoming new believers into the kingdom, and for equipping others to be active in kingdom work. How can we keep these purposes in mind with a less structured summer and more stringent public health protocols? 2 Chron. 20:12 comes to mind: “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you [God].” Please pray for vision and creativity.
We hope that you are well in our unchanging God’s good care. Please let us know how we can pray for you. We’re all navigating unknown territory together. In Christ, Josh and Sarah
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29
Hope, from our house to yours
Yesterday we had a snowmobile picnic on the lake, not something we've ever done before at this time of year! The evening before, it was roast lamb and matzah, remembering Jesus and the Passover. During another meal recently, we discussed the idea of hope -- what do we hope for, and why? How do we know those hopes will be realized? What if we're disappointed?
How good that regardless of unseasonal weather, and more significantly, all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, our Lord is vibrantly unchanged: "We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe!" (1 Tim. 4:10)
Listening to the radio these days, it would seem that our collective hope lies in "flattening the curve," or in "aggressive procurement" of healthcare technologies such as ventilators... both of which are worthy and even loving endeavors.
But I'm reminded of Psalm 20:7, which says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." In David's time, chariots were the best available technology to safeguard a people group, and a concerted cavalry ("horses") the best way to utilize that technology. David lived in the thick of the battle, with his feet on the ground (or perhaps in a chariot), but his hope in the Lord.
Tomorrow we will celebrate "a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3). This hope is as alive and eternal as the Lord himself, and as personalized and present as the Holy Spirit living in us. This hope will never disappoint us (Rom. 5:5).
Our encouragement to you this Easter is this:
1) Nurture your living hope in Christ. Stay on top of the news, yes, but hear it with the always enduring good news of Jesus in mind. Set your mind on Him by reading His word more.
2) Pray. Exercise trust in the living God by turning to Him in prayer. 1 Timothy contains some of Paul's instructions to Timothy in this regard, a beautiful passage for these coronavirus times:
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications [pleading, begging, entreating prayers], prayers [earnest prayer, with a connotation of corporate prayer in a special place], intercessions [petitions, meetings or interviews for a specific purpose], and thanksgivings [a dative noun, meaning giving thanks TO someone] be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions..." (1 Tim. 2:1-2a)
Paul goes on to explain the why: we pray this way so that we can lead peaceful, godly lives and share the hope of Christ, because God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth: One God, and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2: 4-5).
This is our living hope! Let's share it.
In Him, Josh and Sarah and family
But the Greatest of these is Love May 2019
“Mommy! She punched me in the stomach!” “I did not! She isn’t helping unload the dishes at all!” One might wonder at the wisdom of putting these particular children in charge of the cutlery... Moments like this bring home the insight that how we do something is just as important at what we’re doing. Our attitudes matter just as much as our actions. The apostle Paul zeroes in on this when, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he plunks 1 Corinthians 13 right down in the middle of a long discussion of spiritual gifts and unity/diversity/maturity in the church.
1 Corinthians 13 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Camp ministry is an opportunity to see both the gifts of the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit in action. Paul’s message is that the gifts are best optimized by, and in the end eclipsed by, the fruits! Each week this summer, we will marvel at how the Lord has brought together a team in His time and way. But the reality is that as His children, there can be swaggering or squabbly moments, too. Our deepest prayer is that Jesus would be lifted up, in each one of us; that whatever gifts we bring to the table, they would all be exercised in His long-suffering love.
Please pray with us! > That God would continue to supply leaders and volunteers (cooks and counselors!) > That each person would daily abide and bear fruit in Christ (John 15) > That campers, families, leaders and volunteers would be captivated by the loveliness of Christ and would turn, or re-turn, to Him
Walking on Water March 2019 With the drizzle of rain and the soft seep of snow, the bush turns liquid again. Fallen trees emerge again across paths. Fallen leaves emerge in amber puddles. Step in and you will sink, or at least make a small splash. Not so in winter, when the lake itself is like frozen tundra. Just a few yellow scribbles of grass show through a blank canvas, with charcoal smudges of willow and poplar on the far borders. That lake, a sludge of impossible muck in summer, turns crystalline with wind-sculpted snow. Consider all the ordinary, extraordinary ways we “walk on water” in winter: snowshoes and skis, snowmobiles and sleds. Farley Mowat, in one of his memoirs of the far North, writes of the terror of being caught on foot in the flash flood of an Arctic thaw. In the space of one day, he found himself shin-deep, knee-deep, thigh-deep in rushing, icy-cold water. Aggressive spring sunshine blistered and peeled back not only his exposed skin, but the entire snowy landscape. Such intense heat was followed by an equally intense onslaught of insect life, necessary for the flagrantly beautiful bloom of Arctic summer. In some ways, life at MBC is like a flash flood. Winter is quiet and solid(ish) as snow, with all the ordinary and extraordinary shifts of church and family life, education and employment, planning and prayer. While we can't say the pace of change in spring matches an Arctic thaw for intensity, it's steady and consuming. We know that summer is coming! And we trust that it will be two intense months of spiritual “bloom” to rival an Arctic summer for beauty.
So many questions come to mind when reading the gospel accounts of Jesus actually walking on water. Why did he send his disciples ahead, into the teeth of a storm? When he saw, come evening, that “they were making headway painfully,” why did he wait until early morning to join them (Mk. 6:48)? And when he came to them, walking on the sea, why did he mean to “pass them by” (same verse)? Why did Peter, in fear and confusion, cry out and ask for an action point? Volunteer to step outof the boat, away from the only solid thing between him and the storm (Mt. 14:28)? Maybe Peter was starting to see that Jesus himself was the only solid thing in the storm, as much as sense and circumstance seemed to suggest otherwise. Peter floundered when his feet hit the waves, but he still knew who to call Lord and Savior (Mt. 14:30). And Jesus “immediately” reached out his hand to save him (14:31) – without delay, but with loving rebuke. One can't help but wonder if these words of rebuke were meant not just for that sinking moment outside the boat, but also for all the straining moments in the boat, all night long. Peter, and the rest of them, had just witnessed Jesus use prayer and brokenness to feed a massive crowd (Mk. 6:41). They might have known he was labouring in prayer and brokenness on the mountain (Mt. 14:23). The mystery of our Lord's love is such that, bereaved as he must have been at the loss of his cousin and prophetic forbear, John (Mt. 14:13), and exhausted as he was by the crush of crowds (Mt. 14:14), he still sawhis beleaguered, beloved disciples in their boat. He went to them in his own time and way, inexplicable as those might have seemed. Echoing the incarnation itself, he chose to leave the presence of his Father and enter into the wild and the wet of their experience. In his humanity, soaked to the skin; in his divinity, Lord of the storm.
On Holidays and Hospitality “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8
A shortage of forks. A disco ball in the living room. Pretzels under the couch. A bunch of city kids waiting for their ride, a huge van, to be coddled and coaxed into leaving our mushy driveway. These are a few of the hospitable snippets that made up our holiday season.
Holidays, literally holy days, are a great time to open wide our doors and welcome others in. Even our now mostly secularized calendar holidays hint at ideas rooted in worship: Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day, Christ-Mass. To be holy is to be set apart, and holidays offer space to step aside and re-calibrate. Here in our house, holidays present a chance to search our hearts with the two-fold question of purpose: How can we re-orient ourselves to Christ, in this “time off” from regular tasks and pacing? And how can we invite others in to know him?House – host – hospitality – hospital – these linguistic connections remind us that hospitality is healing, is caring, is sharing ourselves and our space, and is rooted in Jesus.
Since the time of Moses, God's people have been invited, commanded, and reminded to take time off for these reasons. The story of Exodus lays it out unequivocally. Moses' first and repeated message to Pharaoh was, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness'” (Ex. 5:1). Talk about a holiday! After God accomplished this miraculous and sobering rescue, the Israelites were entrusted with the responsibility and the freedom of taking “time off” at least three times a year, in the celebrations of Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths (cf. Deut. 16).
And what exactly did these holidays involve? Beyond ceremonial observances and specific acts of worship, there was presumably a lot of fun! Travel. Teamwork. Time with friends and family. Heaps of good food. Spiritual refreshment. And sometimes, camping :). All of these experiences were meant to remind God's people, year after year, of his rescue, his provision, his power, his faithful and unfailing covenant love.
As believers welcomed into the new covenant, the ways we can commemorate and celebrate God's goodness are limitless, and not tied to our calendars. But as Camp Managers, we can't help picking up on the themes expressed in those old covenant festivals in the way we view summer camp. Camp is a beautiful opportunity to approach “holidays” with those two eternally-minded questions in view: How can we re-orient ourselves to the Lord Jesus in this “time off”?And How can we invite others in to know him?
Jesus is the ultimate good host. By inviting us into his life and promising us a home in heaven, He offers his healing and hope. And anytime we as his people engage in purposeful hospitality, there is so much of his goodness to be shared! The refreshment of this little corner of his created world, the deeper refreshment of his Living Word, the fellowship of his Holy Spirit and his people... and all the ordinary things that overflow with his life when offered up to him: things like travel, teamwork, time with friends and family, heaps of good food... and fun!
Our prayer requests at this point are two-fold: - We ask that you prayerfully consider how you (or someone you know) might spend some “time off” this summer at MBC; and - We ask that you pray specifically for someone new for you to inviteto “come and see” the goodness of Christ out here at camp (John 1:46).
REFLECTION Ironically enough, camp season itself isn't a great time for reflection! Josh and I have found that here, in November, we've finally slowed down enough to distill some thoughts for you... with warm, Christ-kindled prayers of thanks for YOUR prayers and encouragement.
I will append a prayer reflection below, but we have had a few people ask how to pray now, in the "off" season. Good question.
Some praise: -What a whirlwind of a fantastic summer! 470 campers, 100+ volunteers, all connected in Him. -New believers, and with that, prayer for protection and encouragement. -Joy and growth in more family time now, both work and play.
Some petition: -Please pray that Josh will be able to finish his carpentry ticket. He's currently first on the waiting list for the 4th year session this January. -Pray for wisdom in planning and task management. There's plenty to do ;). -Pray that God's vision for MBC will inspire us as we grow forward. We're full of ideas, and lots of other people are too; but we seek His character, will, and timing in everything.
Thank you! Josh and Sarah
********************************************************************************************************************************* "But who do you say that I am?"Matthew 16:15 Almighty & Intimate Creator Present in power at creation, and in each new sunrise over the boggy waters of South Cooking Lake. You still say “Let there be light!” every time a murky heart turns to see Your face. 2 Cor. 4:6
Lord of Time & Timing Providing exactly the moment-by-moment energy we need to do your will; exactly the right encouragement, in season; exactly the right volunteer to find the finicky solution to the finicky problem... You see the beginning and the end, and every little bit between! Rev. 22:13
The Only Living Bread Patiently, persistently offering Yourself again and again, daily manna, if only we have the will to receive: “[We do] not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Even and especially at Bible camp :). Matt. 4:4
Joy! Exuberant as smash-crashing slip-n-slide, as crazy campfire songs; and deeper yet in the quiet counselor with the tough cabin, who plans ahead to send those campers birthday cards anyways... Jn. 15:11
Perfect-Pitch Wisdom Alive in the blending of each ragged team of volunteers, lovingly and sometimes last-minutely assembled to tug at our ideals, polish us against each other, and spark your strength in our weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9
Inexhaustible Servant-King Well acquainted with short nights, plugged toilets, carpenter ants, and adrenaline fatigue. You remind us, as You pull us aside and stoop to wash our tender, mucky feet, that we get to love because You already do. 1 Jn. 4:19
And Love. Your love-in-action shines in the eyes of that child memorizing Romans 5:8 (“And God demonstrates His own love for us in this-”); echoes in the camaraderie of a sing-off with Birch Bay (“We've got Christian lives to live, we've got Jesus' love to give-”); wafts from the kitchen in a fragrant rendering of butter chicken; and breathes deep along with the nurse, a sip of water, and some Benadryl for those wasp stings. 1 Jn. 3:18
Our words, our memories fall short. Who do we say You are? With Peter, we say that You're the One and Only, the Lord of All.
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Col. 1:17
Green Flames of Leaves like Praise
“Mama, watcha doin'?”
“Cutting away the dead parts.”
“Why?” Her favourite question.
“So the living parts can grow better.”
“Oh.” And off she trundles to play in the sandbox.
Jesus puts it like this, in John 15: “Every branch that bears fruit, [my Father] prunes, that it may bear more fruit.... I am the vine; you are the branches.” There's no room for quibbling here, about Who is in charge, or How. The Father is the master pruner; Jesus is the source of life. “Abide in me,” He says, “for apart from me you can do nothing” (italics added).
Outside Cabin 1, a tangle of at least five different woodsy species flicker green flames of leaves like praise. Slender hazelnut, bracted honeysuckle, prickly rose, red-osier dogwood, and leaning, greening raspberry canes are all under-girded by an aged poplar stump. Pruning this living puzzle is an exercise in flexibility and patience, like stepping right inside a giant knot that needs untangling.
As people of God, we're not so very different. At camp, we live and serve together. We grow and undergo pruning together, sometimes in very close quarters, just like the thicket outside Cabin 1. Our Lord is firm and faithful in pruning us back. There are many tasks at hand and many relationships to nurture, so the call for us in this season is to remain in Him daily, to sustain the focus that brings His fruit, in His time.
Thank you for your prayers to that end! Please continue to pray for volunteerswho are rooted in Christ. Pray for responsive hearts to the Father's pruning, as evidenced in the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Pray for new grafts in! For new believers to accept Christ's life with joy.
Jesus goes on, in John 15, to talk about love and obedience. We know He really means it, because He's headed for the cross. And we know that tree yields fruit unspeakably sweet, and for eternity.