Monthly Archives: May 2015

Camp Counselor Survival Tips

Camp Counselor Survival GuideCongratulations! You have been accepted as a camp counselor for Best-Camp-Ever USA! You probably grew up attending this camp. A life-long summer dream come true, you can’t wait to slip your Keens on and start bonding with the rest of staff.

This was my perspective, at least, when I began training as a CIT (Counselor in Training) at 18 years old. All that energy carried me through my one week as a staffer. However, in future years, I realized that energy failed to significantly impact, not just my own life, but also the lives of those I would mentor each summer.

Excitement and passion for camp (or any summer ministry) is not enough to make a summer count for God’s kingdom. Years in summer-specific ministries (camps, youth group internships, missions trip leaderships, college ministry mentorship) have taught me what a camp counselor really needs to make it.

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1. Acknowledge God.

And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. Romans 1:28

A camp counselor plays so many parts: Bible study skit actor, worship leader, substitute-mom (or dad) for the homesick camper, etc. Sometimes talking about God, praying, even leading a devotional can start to feel like another “part.” The script is easy, and it starts to flow in your words and actions without a lot of thought. While we can praise God for such a transformation, we also should be cautious of becoming robotic in our acknowledgement of God.

To maintain an actual connection with our Lord, make time for your personal relationship with Him every day. That might sound impossible with all the activities, expectations, and your own personal goals during the week. I often prioritized decorating personalized notes for each of my campers above spending time with Jesus. My campers had a cool item to remember me by, but my soul was weak and empty.

When we stop acknowledging God, we start depending on the almighty SELF to take care of things. God has wisdom, comfort, stamina, strength, and fun in abundance for you and your campers. Stop trying to come up with all the ideas and answers on your own. Stop, acknowledge God, and ask for His help and right perspective of each situation.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,[e] casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

2. Find a Mentor

Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

You are doing a lot of pouring out. Camp can be draining physically, spiritually, emotionally, even socially. Acknowledging God is a good way to fill back up each day; however, God has provided an additional tool for your heart-and-soul-maintenance. Hebrews reminds us to observe and imitate the faith-life of our leaders.

I subscribe to many speakers and authors, appreciating their teachings’ impact in my life. But nothing compares to a phone conversation or a cup of coffee with a personal mentor. The intimacy required to share firsthand stories, impart wisdom, and encourage through personal prayers is a beautiful reflection of how Jesus cares for us.

The apostle Paul set up an excellent model for mentorship. Paul was mentored by Barnabas (Acts 11:25-26), enjoyed friendship and ministry partnership with Luke (Colossians 4:14), and trained his disciple/mentee Timothy (Acts 16:3-4).

A camp counselor has built-in “Lukes” (other staffers) and “Timothys” (campers), but sometimes “Barnabases” are not readily available. Perhaps your personality clashes with the head counselor, or your director is more focused on activities and logistics of camp. If you find yourself without a mentor, pray and begin the search. Find someone who will commit to praying for your during your time in ministry, who is open to emails or phone calls, and who is one or two steps ahead in life, so you can “carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.”

You can find a mentor in:

  • Godly Parents or grandparents
  • Youth Pastors and wives (that’s me!)
  • Your camp counselor from years past (that will be you someday)
  • Christ-centered teachers or coaches
  • Even parents of campers

And here are tips to help your mentor feel more inclined to walk with you:

  • Fold her laundry while you debrief a rough week.
  • Offer free babysitting
  • Buy him coffee
  • Schedule a round of frisbee golf
  • Most important: find your strength and fulfillment in God first (see above), so you wont become too clingy or needy of your mentor.

Check back soon for tips 3 and 4!

How do you keep your relationship with God intimate during a busy summer? Do you have a mentor? Where/how did you find him or her?

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Book Review: Leviticus

What a journey! When I started studying Leviticus in January, I did not expect it would take me 4 months to unpack and apply it to my life. (To join me study of Leviticus, start here.)

The following is what I learned along the way, and how the book impacted my life.

Studying Leviticus

Main Idea:

In Leviticus, God is calling the Israelites to be Holy and set apart. Although the book was written for a specific audience, the nation of Israel, many of the principles, especially living set-apart lives, applies to Christians today. God reminded me of this expectation in His words through Peter:  “but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

The Zondervan Handbook to the Bible observes it well: “This is why sin must be dealt with–the reason for the rules on purity and cleanness, health and hygiene, God’s people are to be distinct and different from the nations around, whose religion did not require morality and holiness. A close relationship with God means a life of obedience and faith.”

Of course, Christians today do not follow most of the laws from Leviticus. I do not sacrifice animals because I believe Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. Also, like many Christians, I do not follow the clean/unclean laws as well. (See the following verses for more on this topic, then decide for yourself about observing OT laws: Mark 7:19, Acts 10:15, Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:15, Romans 14:1-23)

Still, I found the book of Leviticus challenged me to live uniquely in my world by prioritizing my relationship with God above all else.

My Big Take Away:

Understanding the many expectations for sacrifices in Leviticus unlocked my perspective of what Jesus’ death on the cross does for us. The Israelites had different sacrificial expectations for various aspects of their relationship with God. There was a sacrifice to pay for sin, one to worship God, another to dedicate their work, and another to fellowship with God.

Jesus death encompassed each of these facets of my relationship with God. He was my atoning sacrifice, paying for sin. He became my bread and wine, allowing me to fellowship with God at His table. Jesus became my high priest, mediating my relationship with God. His death and resurrection gives meaning to my work… it’s no longer about my efforts, but His. And by trusting in his sacrifice, He gives me a pathway to worship God through my own living sacrifice of self.

Is it applicable to daily life?

This was the big question! The reason I decided to tackle Leviticus was in response to a reader’s skepticism about the importance of Bible Study.

“How is reading Leviticus going to help me [in my every day life]?”

As I read Leviticus, I found it revealed a greater depth of the character of God. It reminded me of my desperate need for atonement by blood. Reading about the constant repetition of sacrifices disturbed me. My unsettled spirit was screaming for a better way, an unwavering way, to maintain relationship with God. The resolve of Leviticus is to point us to the need for Christ’s death, a final and sufficient sacrifice.

Leviticus is the gospel! I can’t argue that the gospel applies deeply to my daily life.

I enjoyed the intellectual unpacking of Old Testament concepts and the revelation of God’s character. It was laborious and impactful. However, I must note that there were several weeks that intense study was not always pertinent for me. I had days I wanted to learn more and find application in Leviticus, but the words just sat on the page, lifeless and jumbled. I was busy, sick, exhausted, lonely, and so low on brain power. These circumstances called for simple communion with God. A friend encouraged me to read some Psalms in this season, and it proved refreshing in my connection with God. When Leviticus was too much to digest, I chose a lighter “feast” of God’s Word.

I am happy that I did not abandon my study in Leviticus completely (as I have in previous seasons of my life). Regardless of how many breaks I took, I kept coming back to Leviticus. This gave me a holistic picture of the law. It took me 4 months, instead of the hoped for 1 month, but I finished.

Would I read it again?

Definitely. I would like to study Leviticus and Hebrews at the same time to compare and contrast perspectives of the old and new covenant, and how Jesus fulfills the expectations of Leviticus.

Linking each command together, week by week, was hard mental work. I think I would have been able to study it more thoroughly and consistently in a different season. Perhaps in the past during an adventurous summer between college semesters, or in the future when my kids are school-aged and I am more stable emotionally (Lord willing). Of course, God used my study greatly in this time with small babies and learning my new role as a mother; still, it took more time, and more mental focus than I often had available to me.

Conclusion:

What I discovered, in regards to my reader’s question, is that spending daily time with God, in his word, is what significantly impacts my life. I am learning to be less legalistic about finishing a study before starting another one. I am also learning the value of the “whole picture” God intended when we boldly and bravely tackle whole books of the Bible instead of the scattered, easy-to-digest verses we tend to gravitate toward.

Study whole books of the Bible

I hope you enjoyed studying Leviticus with me. If you are just now thinking about starting, I applaud you for taking the leap! It is well worth the time and mental energy to expand your perspective of God’s great Holiness and grace.

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