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Posts tagged ‘Faith’

Hope for America’s Future

2013-07-01 22.17.30Last week, the week we celebrated Independence Day, I experience part of today’s America I normally don’t see. It’s a part of America torn apart by poverty, broken families, prejudice, violence, and community breakdown. But more significantly I saw a glimpse into tomorrow’s America, with all its hope, its possibility of something better, of lives transformed, of families strengthened, and of communities revitalized. Yet this America is sitting on the precipice, either to continue today’s pattern of sliding towards the abyss or moving up to a better tomorrow.

In the places I visited last week it’s tempting to write off tomorrow’s America because of what today’s America looks like, believing there’s nothing that can be done to change its course. But after last week, I’m more convinced than ever that tomorrow’s America can be significantly different, better, more like the America we want and, more importantly, one that more closely reflects the values of God’s Kingdom.

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You see my wife Denise and I visited SpringHill Day Camp teams working in three locations in the Detroit metro area. Each team, along with our ministry allies, served children living in some of the harshest and most challenging situations found in America. These children included Iraqi refugees as well as children born in the some of the poorest inner city communities in our country. Yet in each location, with each child and ministry partner we interacted with, we sensed a hope that can only come through the Gospel of Christ.

Now I’m convinced that each of the 300 or so children and their families we served can, with the help of God’s people, have a future reality that is different from their current one. And if their future reality is different, then our country will have one as well. I believe this to be true because I believe, in the core of my being, that our children are the hope of our country, the hope of the world, the hope of the Church.

This is why SpringHill, and so ministries like it, have as its mission to see the lives of kids transformed. And it’s also why I’ve committed my vocational work to this same cause, the cause of Christ and of all kids.

Photo by Todd Leinberger.  John 3:16 written in Farsi welcoming parents to camp.

Photo by Todd Leinberger. John 3:16 written in Farsi welcoming parents to camp.

Prayers and Goals

The Circle MakerMy good friend, Terry Prisk, recommended (or more accurately he insisted) I read Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker. If you’re not familiar with it, The Circle Maker is a practical and inspirational book about prayer.

Now I’ll admit I wasn’t sure the world (nor I) needed another book on prayer. I wondered to myself “what could someone possibly say about prayer that hasn’t already been said before?” But both because Terry insisted and because I set a personal goal to spend more time this year in prayer I picked up a copy of The Circle Maker and moved it to the top of my reading list.

And now that I’ve finished it, let me just say that I’m deeply thankful for Terry’s insistence and for Batterson’s insight. The Circle Maker shows the powerful connection between our dreams and goals and the spiritual discipline of prayer. As a goal driven person, this was the fresh perspective I needed and, more importantly, the inspiration my prayer life required.

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that The Circle Maker is a book that teaches a form of “name it claim” theology, let me assure you it’s not. Batterson doesn’t take us there. Instead he insists that “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He’s offended by anything less.” Yet he also is crystal clear that “God is not a genie in a bottle, your wish is not His command.” Then he goes on to say “His command better be your wish. If not you won’t be drawing prayer circles; you’ll end up walking in circles.”

So let me be a little like my friend Terry and ask you to consider skipping you traditional summer paperback and instead pick of a copy of The Circle Maker, it may be just the inspiration you need to take your prayer life to a new place.

Why Kids Need Camp

005Do you know that the average middle schooler spends 2121 minutes a week in front of a television? That’s over 35 hours.

Or that the average young person during any given week will:

  • Plays 833 minutes or about 14 hours of video games?
  • Spends another 623 minutes (over 10 hours) on a computer?
  • Or send over 700 texts

That’s a total of more than 59 hours a week inside sitting in front of a screen.

In contrast research tells us that the average young person will spend an average of:

  • 30 minutes a week playing outside
  • 3.5 minutes a week in meaningful conversation with their parents
  • And less than an hour in a church, youth group or youth ministry gathering

This means kids spend just over an hour a week in meaningful interaction with people and places that can positively shape and influence their lives.003

59 hours compared to 1.25 hours.

Think for a moment about the long-term implications of this on our kids, on our future.

Kids need much more than screen time to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually:

  • Kids need to interact with God’s creation by being outside
  • They need to be nurtured within their family – God created the family for just this purpose.
  • Finally kids need to be a part of a faith community such as a local church or other ministry

Yet these vital interactions are being squeezed out by technology. Not by war, famine or economic collapse but by a little screen.

Here’s another reality – all those negative trends about kids can be reversed by a week at a Christian camp (such as SpringHill) where the average camper spends:

  • 60 hours outside per week doing incredibly fun, exciting and growing activities
  • 300 minutes in a meaningful conversation with a staff person (that’s nearly two years’ worth of meaningful conversation with a parent)
  • 10 to 12 hours a week in individual Bible study and small and large group settings learning about God and His plan for their lives.

Now more than ever our Kids Need Camp.

Now that you’re convinced Kids Need Camp, over my next few posts I’ll help you ask the right questions and know the right answers to look for when selecting a summer camp for the kids you love.

One Farmer’s Three Commitments to assure Success

Corn planter before converted into a tomato planter

Corn planter before converted into a tomato planter

Last week I spent a couple of hours with Glenn Abbett, SpringHill camper parent and farmer in northern Indiana. We toured his farm where I learned more about his and his family’s formula for success. And successful they’ve been. Over the past 15 plus years Abbett Farms has grown 5 times over.

When I asked Glenn what he attributed their success to he answered by sharing three commitments they lived out:

  1. Integrity: Abbett Farms always does what they said they’re going to do. This has built confidence and loyalty with their major customers, assuring ongoing business even in difficult economic times.
  2. Innovation: They’ve made significant investments in innovative equipment and processes to assure they will deliver on what they say they’re going to do. For example, they’ve designed, built and now operate the largest tomato planting machine in the world, assuring they always deliver on their tomato commitments.

    A corn planter which is now the worlds largest tomato planter

    A corn planter which is now the worlds largest tomato planter

  3. Advocacy: Finally, Glenn has personally invested time lobbying on behalf of other farmers and others who work closely with agriculture. This personal investment on behalf of his entire industry has led to further loyalty among his customers as well as assistance from his peers.

As I drove away from our time together I realized that these three commitments are worthy for any person to pursue and are foundational for any organization if it desires to be successful, whether a farm, business, church or Christian camp.

The One New Year’s Resolution that can Change Your Life

Joshua Tree PerserveranceI make this New Year’s resolution suggestion every year, to whoever will listen. I make it because I believe that it’s the one small commitment that can change the course of a person’s life.

And what is that New Year’s resolution? To read the entire Bible – every book, chapter, and verse.

Now before you dismiss my suggestion, think about this for a moment, if the Bible is God’s Word, His actual words, the true message of the God who created the entire universe, created our earth, and created you and me, doesn’t it make sense that we should want to read His words and make them a part of our life?

And one more thought to consider before dismissing my suggestion – if we believe that God loves us, cares about us and wants to have a relationship with us, then it’s not surprising that He has something to say to us about this love.

So if you’re now convinced that making this resolution is something you want to do, below are a few things I’m making available to help you make your resolution a reality.

  1. Down load to your e-reader, free, my Reading the Bible Through in a Year devotionals by clicking here.
  2. Subscribe to my Read the Bible in a Year blog by clicking here. Each day of 2013 you’ll receive an email of the daily reading schedule and thoughts to help you get the most out of that reading.
  3. Follow me on Twitter (by clicking here) and receive a “tweet” with a link to each of my Bible reading posts.
  4. Simply go to my Read the Bible in a Year blog.

Now may 2013 be a year of great positive transformation in your life through the power of His Word.

“The Miracle on 100th Avenue”

Friends and "Heat Angels" Eric Woods and Joel Hamilton

Friends and “Heat Angels” Eric Woods and Joel Hamilton

Sometimes it seems things happen with the intended purpose of reminding us that we have less control over life than we want to believe. Sometimes these things make their point with irony and humor as it did today for my family and a couple of our friends.

You see, early Thursday morning a huge snow storm moved into northern Michigan and, over the next 36 hours, dumped tons of wet snow onto our world.

By early Thursday afternoon we were without power. Even though, with each passing hour, the temperature of our house dropped, our family went to bed optimistic we’d have power before we awoke.

But when Denise and I got up on Friday morning there was still no power and the house was now at 57 degrees and still dropping. And the word from the power company was that we may not have electricity for a “few days”.

So what to do? I texted Joel Hamilton, SpringHill Michigan’s Site Director, looking for any news or helpful insight he may have. He informed me that Eric Woods, our Retreats Director had a generator he wasn’t using.

Within 30 minutes Joel and Eric arrived at our house with Eric’s 15-year-old generator. Within another 20 minutes we had the generator started, properly hooked up to the house, and, most importantly, our furnace was running.

As we stood congratulating ourselves on a job well done Joel received a phone call, “Hollywood’s power is back on.” Now you need to know Hollywood is our neighbor, which meant that if he now had power we must have it too.

So we disconnected the generator, turned on the main breaker and, lo and behold, we had power.

In the time it took us to turn off the main breaker and hook up the generator the power had come back on. Which led us to have a good laugh at the mockery the power company made of our good work.c

It also led to our daughter Christina declaring, after 24 hours of no heat, it’s “The Miracle on 100th Avenue”.

Leading Others in the Most Important Things

If you’ve ever had someone invest in your life by helping you grow spiritually, assisting you in navigating the treacherous places where the eternal intersects with the temporal then you know the absolute necessity of having these kinds of people apart of your life.

As I look back on my life I’ve had a number of people who’ve invested in me spiritually, people with names like Neil, Wayne, Mark, Jack, Terry, and Steve. They’re all people who’ve cared for me and wanted to see me grow in the most important ways.

So as one who received such investment, I’m motivated to do the same for others. It’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen to work for an organization like SpringHill, because SpringHill creates experiences that facilitate this kind of investment by adults in the lives of children. It’s also why one of the personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to possess to make an enduring impact on the lives of others through their work at SpringHill is what we call “Spiritual Leadership.”

“Spiritual Leadership” is the ability to mentor others, to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and ultimately guide them to a life that honors God and expands His Kingdom. Spiritual leadership takes on many forms and can be expressed in many ways, from the ability to lead small groups, to one on one counseling, or teaching before large audiences. Even though the context of “Spiritual Leadership” may differ, the outcome is the same, helping others better live out their faith in Christ.

This is why SpringHill needs people who demonstrate “Spiritual Leadership”, because it’s through spiritual leadership that our mission’s fulfilled and young lives transformed for eternity.

This is part 8 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

A Centered Life

Everyone centers their life on something. Whether it’s on a pursuit, purpose or goal, our lives become energized by our “center”. Some people center their life simply on surviving day by day, while others, on the opposite extreme, center their lives on consuming material goods, experiencing pleasure or living for excitement and highs. Yet others center their lives on an idea or a cause. But regardless of what it is, everyone’s life’s centered on something, something that drives them and gets them out of bed every day.

At SpringHill we expect our staff to be centered on a person – the person of Jesus Christ. Of all the personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to have to make an ongoing, positive impact at SpringHill, this is the most important one, because it’s who we are and what we do. We call this quality “God Immersed”, which simply means that a person is Christ centered and thus living their lives in a Christ like way and from a Biblical perspective.

When you consider our mission and our core values this only makes sense. If our mission is to create life changing experiences where young people can know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ than our staff has to being growing in their own relationships with Christ. And if one of our organization’s highest values is “Jesus Christ and His message of grace”, than it needs to be a living value of our staff as well.

So what do we expect to see in a person’s life to know they’re “God Immersed”? It’s simply participating in such spiritual practices as prayer, Bible reading and study, as well as attendance and involvement in a local church. All of which leads to a Christ centered life that reflects Biblical and Kingdom values, and, in the end, multiplies the fruitfulness of our work.

This is part 5 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

Life is a Stool – Living in Balance

My dad has always said that life sits on a 4 legged stool with one leg being work/career, another family, a third friends and service, a fourth being health and recreation, and the most important part of the stool, the seat, representing our faith. Dad says that for life to be in balance, for it to be the way it’s supposed to be we need all four legs and the seat. If we neglect or remove any part we’ve made balance nearly impossible and the entire stool, and our lives, become at risk of falling apart.

I’ve always appreciated my dad’s way of looking at life, partly because it makes sense and partly because I’ve seen he and my mom live their lives in this way with the result being they’ve been blessed as well as having blessed those around them.

It’s this life perspective and practice that we’ve discovered to be an essential quality of people who’ve made a long-term and an enduring impact on SpringHill’s mission. It’s what we simply call “Life/Work Balance”.

Without this balance, life quickly crumbles and one’s ability to make an enduring impact quickly diminishes. When balance is gone health, influence and impact quickly leave as well, only to be backed filled with burn out, broken relationships, and poor judgment. Because like a stool, every part is essential and needs to be in working order or it will negatively impact the entire stool.

So Life/Work Balance is absolutely essential for people to be at their best. And we want and need people to be at their best, whether it’s at home with their families, at church teaching Sunday school, or working at SpringHill.

This is part 2 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

The Beginning of SpringHill Indiana – A Reminder of God’s Working

This past weekend we had a SpringHill board meeting held at our Indiana camp.  Keith Rudge, our Indiana Operations Director, gave a devotion to kick off the meeting. In his devotion he shared this video he found packed away in his desk and thought it was a great illustration of God’s faithfulness, His timing and His direction in guiding our lives and our work.  It was an excellent way to start to a productive meeting.

 

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