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Posts tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Love Lustres at Calvary

018My Father,

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections,

open my lips,

supply words that proclaim ‘Love lustres

at Calvary.’

There grace removes my burdens and heaps them

on thy Son,

made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;

There the sword of thy justice smote the man,

thy fellow;

There thy infinite attributes were magnified,

and infinite atonement was made;

There infinite punishment was due,

and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,

cast off that I might be brought in

trodden down as an enemy

that I might be welcomed as a friend,

    surrendered to hell’s worst

that I might attain heaven’s best,

stripped that I might be clothed,

wounded that I might be healed,

athirst that I might drink,

tormented that I might be comforted,

made shame that I might inherit glory,

entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped

from my eyes,

groaned that I might have endless song,

endured all pain that I might have unfading health,

bore a thorny crown that I might have

a glory-diadem,

bowed his head that I might uplift mine,

experience reproach that I might receive

welcome,

closed his eyes in death that I might gaze

on unclouded brightness,

expired that I might for ever live.

O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou

mightest spare me,

All this transfer they love designed and

accomplished;

Help me to adore thee by lips and life.

O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,

my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my

enemies crushed,

Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,

sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,

hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me

the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

From The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975

How do you measure love, justice, grace, or mercy? Measurements Part 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s no doubt many of the most important things, maybe the most important things in life cannot be measured. For example how do you measure love, justice, grace, freedom or mercy?

And more importantly, at least for us competitive types, is the fact that if we can’t measure the most important things then we can’t set clear, measurable goals for them. So, for example, I can’t set a goal of increasing my love for my wife Denise by 20% (though I’m sure I need to love her more).

Which leads to the shortcoming of the leadership maxim I examined in my last post “what gets measured is what gets done” – you can’t directly measure the most important things in life.

At SpringHill this is the dilemma we face when we want to know if we’re effectively fulfilling our mission of “creating life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know and grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ.” How do you measure a person’s growth in their relationship with the God of the Universe? And even more perplexing how do you set a goal for such transformation?

We’ve accepted that we can’t measure such things directly or with certainty, but at the same time we’ve learned we can measure particular indicators of whether such things are becoming reality. These indicators center on a person’s admitted change in perspective, commitments they’ve made, and the anticipated life change they expect to experience. And when we combine these important indicators with our own professional assessment we begin to understand with some confidence our  mission effectiveness. For us, at SpringHill, these indicators provide focus and attention to the most important things without being the final word on such things.

So maybe this old leadership maxim needs to change from “what gets measured is what gets done” to “what gets measured in some way is what gets our needed attention” and it’s this attention that leads to effectiveness.

Wishing the World was more Like SpringHill

2013-06-13 02.50.27“I just want to say thank you. SpringHill has just been fantastic for my son. I only wish the rest of the world could be more like SpringHill.”

This statement  to me and a small group of our year around staff during the closing day of camp by a father of a camper with special needs. The father went onto explain that his son has been coming to SpringHill for a number of summers and it’s always the high light of his son’s year. It’s the week when his son feels accepted and loved like a “normal” kid.

I believe it’s this acceptance and love that the dad was referring to when he said, almost to himself, “I only wish the rest of the world could be more like SpringHill”.

Of course it’s always great to hear this kind of unsolicited feedback from a parent. Our goal is that every kid will feel like this camper, to experience the love of Christ through our staff and in the small communities we create.

So with summer camp just ending (and I’m already starting to miss it), this father’s wish has had me thinking. I’ve realized his wish really isn’t a wish at all, but instead it’s our ultimate mission.

You see at SpringHill we exist to create experiences (we call them SpringHill Experience) where Christ can transform the lives of young people. These experiences include embracing all kinds of kids, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done or where they’ve come from. Yet, as powerful as this is, the SpringHill Experience isn’t an end unto itself; it is part of something bigger.

That something bigger is the Church’s work of bringing the values and reality of Christ’s Kingdom into the world. In other words, we haven’t thoroughly done our job unless our campers and staff are leaving SpringHill and bringing a little of it back into the world, making the world a little more like SpringHill, which really means making the world little more like Christ’s Kingdom.

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.

2013-07-01 22.49.22

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.

Sometimes you do it Because It’s Just Plain Fun

2013-05-26 16.56.28Sunday evening of Memorial Day I had a blast. I joined 5 other SpringHill leaders plus other staff and volunteers and we grilled steak and chicken for nearly 1000 campers at our Michigan Memorial Day Family Camp. It was a riot being with these folks, exhilarating serving and interacting with our guests, cool working on a big and awesome grill, and it was just plain fun doing something outside my regular work.

These few hours reminded me of something I’ve said to our staff over the years and, unfortunately, have recently forgotten myself – “we work for SpringHill, we’re supposed to have fun, and if we’re not something’s not right”.

Yet when our vision is to accomplish something personally and organizationally significant for people and Christ’s Kingdom, it almost always requires discipline, focus and lots of resources. And all of these things can squeeze out the space in our work to do something just for fun. Yet it’s in having a blast that really good and unexpected things can happen, most of which, somehow and some way, moves us forward in fulfilling our vision and goals.

Such surprises include the opportunity to build into key relationships, hearing first hand from our customers and guests, learning something new, or gaining a new perspective about our work, organization or life. Often one of the best things is we gain a new appreciation for our job and the people we get to do it with.

And frankly, it’s this last surprise that caused me, as I walked home Sunday evening, to give thanks for the privilege I have to do what I do and for the opportunity to do it with people I love.

Resurrection

Florida flowers“O God of my Exodus,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,

    when Egypt died upon the shore,

    Far greater the joy

    when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed

    in the dust.

Jesus strides forth as victor,

    conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing

    might;

He bursts the bands of death,

    tramples the powers of darkness down,

    and lives for ever.

He, my gracious surety,

    apprehended for payment of my debt,

    comes forth from the prison house of the grave

    free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.

Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering

    is accepted,

    that the claims of justice are satisfied,

    that the devil’s scepter is shivered,

    that his wrongful throne is leveled.

Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,

    in him I rose,

    in his life I live, in his victory I triumph,

    in his ascension I shall be glorified.

Adorable Redeemer,

    thou who wast lifted up upon a cross

    art ascended to highest heaven.

Thou, who as Man of sorrows

    wast crowned with thrones,

    art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.

Once, no shame more deep than thine,

    no agony more bitter,

    no death more cruel.

Now, no exaltation more high,

    no life more glorious,

    no advocate more effective.

Thou art in the triumph car leading captive

    thine enemies behind thee.

What more could be done than thou hast done!

    Thy death is my life,

    thy resurrection my peace,

    thy ascension my hope,

    thy prayers my comfort.”

From The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett for The Banner of Truth Trust

Love Lustres at Calvary

Photo Jan 22, 7 39 20 AM“My Father,

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections,

    open my lips,

Supply words that proclaim ‘Love lustres at Calvary.’

There grace removes my burdens and heaps them

    on thy Son,

made a transgressor, a curse, a sin for me;

There the sword of thy justice smote the man,

    Thy fellow;

There thy infinite attributes were magnified,

    and infinite atonement made;

There infinite punishment was due,

    and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,

    cast off that I might be brought in,

    trodden down as an enemy

        that I might be welcomed as a friend,

    surrendered to hell’s worst

        that I might attain heaven’s best,

    stripped that I might be clothed,

    wounded that I might be healed,

    athirst that I might drink,

    tormented that I might be comforted,

    made a shame that I might inherit glory,

    entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped

    from my eyes,

    groaned that I might have endless song,

    endured pain that I might have unfading health,

    bore a thorny crown that I might have

        a glory – diadem,

    bowed his head that I might uplift mine,

    experienced reproach that I might receive

        welcome,

    closed his eyes in death that I might gaze

        on unclouded brightness,

    expired that I might for ever live.

Oh Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou

    mightiest spare me,

All this transfer thy love designed and

accomplished;

Help me adore thee by lips and life.

Oh that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,

    my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my

        enemies crushed,

    Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,

    sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,

    hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me

    the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.”

From The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett for The Banner of Truth Trust

A Journey to Generosity

2013-03-27 17.13.1424 hours spent talking, praying and learning about money, wealth, lifestyle, generosity, family, friends and Christ. Sound like a challenging and interesting way to spend a day? Believe me it was.

And that’s exactly what Denise and I just did this past weekend.

We attended A Journey to Generosity retreat, hosted by our dear friends Bruce and Sue Osterink and facilitated by Brad Formsma a former business owner and now staff member with Generous Giving, an organization dedicated to “encouraging givers to experience the joy of giving and embrace a lifestyle of generosity, according to God’s Word and Christ’s example.”

It was a powerful retreat, life transforming in many ways.

So let me give you a glimpse into what made it so powerful by passing on some of the wisdom I walked away with.

“Wealth tends to isolate, yet we need to be together”

“Are we Tickle Tithers or Generous Givers?”

“It’s more fun to be a giver than a consumer”

“Concentrate on what’s important and the rest will follow”

“Christ came to rescue and restore, thus our responsibility is to do the same”

“I use to fear failing at what’s important, now I fear succeeding at what’s not”

“People can be a gift of inconvenience”

“Listen closely to those you want to help”

“Giving is not just for wealthy people, it’s for everyone”

“We’re really good at wasting money and we’re really good at disguising it”

“There’s a difference between discernment and judging. We’re called to discern but not to judge”

“We start with nothing and we even worry about losing that”

“We put pressure on our children to have what we have”

“We’re to Give – Save – Live, in that order”

“It’s easy to fool one of us (husband and wife), but it’s not as easy to fool both of us”

“God’s calling is not the same as God’s timing”

“Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated”

“Giving is adding something to your life, not taking something away”

“What’s our motive to be debt free? Is it to get more or to give more?”

“Giving is the only antidote to materialism”

“Giving is not a once and done deal, it’s an ongoing journey we’re on”

“Keep it simple and just give”

By the way check out some inspiring videos about people who experienced generosity by clicking here.

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.

Amazing Records – 28 Years and 1200+ Students

107As I’ve said before, one of my favorite groups of people in the world are the adults who bring students to our Winter Teen and Juniors Retreats. I love them because they give up an entire weekend, many as volunteers, to spend 40 hours hanging out with students, doing crazy activities, and getting very little sleep.

Why do they do it? Because these adults know they’ll be a part of helping students hear, see and experience Jesus Christ in a life transforming way.

And this weekend I spent time with one of my favorite of these favorites, Scott Hazel. Scott is a teacher at Cedar Springs High School, just north of Grand Rapids. Every year he brings busloads of students from his public high school to one of our Winter Retreats.

Here’s the list of some unofficial, but amazing, SpringHill Winter Retreat records Scott has set.

  1. 28 straight years of bringing students to SpringHill Winter Retreats
  2. Over 30 Winter Retreats – In many of these 28 years Scott has attended 2 weekends, one with his high school students, and one with his church’s youth group.
  3. Over 1200 students – Scott brings 1 to 2 bus loads of students (between 40 to 95 students) every year.

I have no doubt these records, like Cal Ripkin Jr’s consecutive baseball games played record, will stand forever.

But more importantly than the records is the accumulative effect of what Scott has done over these 28 years. 1200+ students from a public high school have been given the opportunity to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and have their lives changed forever.

Amazing!

Only in eternity will we see the depth of Scott’s impact.

So now you know why Scott is one of my favorites of my favorites.

If you’d like to know more about Scott click here, he’s published a book telling his story.

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