A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I directed a youth retreat called Alpha. Our guest speaker was Justin Lookadoo. I know that’s a funny name and so does he. It is his real name however. Justin spoke to the youth regarding how to be dateable. He’s written several books including these:
I’ll write more about this topic later, but I wanted to write down some of his quotes that I liked before I forgot them:
- “You can’t fix STUPID”
- Show me a guy who plays more than 1 hour a day on video games and I’ll show you a girlfriend that I can steal.”
Great books, great speaker, great person…
Wow, is all I can say. We returned home last night from Camp sweaty, stinky, tired, but full of great memories and a whole bunch of new friends. It was truly an incredible week and so many people developed a deeper relationship with Christ. It was an amazing site to behold.
Putting together a week like this is truly difficult. Jill and I always want to recruit the best counselors for the week because they are the biggest control factor we have as directors in making sure the campers have the best resources to lead them. There is no way that Jill and I could develop a relationship with 155 campers and help them grow in their walk with Christ. It just couldn’t be done and so we rely on the counselors to do that. This year, they did an incredible job and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
This year, I was so excited to see so many youth at the altars praying but what got me even more was to see the other campers praying with them. It was truly amazing and a God thing.
Thanks to the team and volunteers for all your help but most of all thanks to all the campers who made this year such a success. We’ll see you next year.
Next week will be the 49th week of church camp that I have worked. Some as a counselor, some as director of recreation and some as director. I’ve done everything that can be done at a church camp from cleaning out a sewage lagoon, to laying water line, to mopping floors, washing dishes, praying with people, giving out meds, leading games and leading worship. You can probably add every other job you can think of that goes along with a church camp including plunging toilets. All I have ever done has helped me to grow into the Christian that I am today. It helped form my walk and place me on the path with Christ. It is refreshing and rejuvenating.
All the above is a good reason to work camp but those are not the real reason I keep going back. The real reason is the campers and the opportunity to share the love and grace of Christ with young people. This is often the time in their life when they are truly trying to figure out their faith and it’s a time when as a pastor I can share with them the peace, love and forgiveness that I have found. It’s been an awesome ride and I’ve seen God do some truly remarkable things at camp.
Next week, I go to serve once again. Doing whatever it takes to make sure the campers have an incredible time. Often I have made people upset with me because I require the staff to place the campers first but then again, isn’t that the reason we are there?
Pray for us next week, but most importantly pray for the spiritual experience of the campers. I want them to have fun but most of all I want them to leave being a step closer in their relationship with God.
These are two of my all time favorite altars that we have used at camp. Both of them have special stories that go along with them and I’ll probably blog about the stories later.
I just received this photo from an old friend. It was taken during Summer Camp 1986 at Camp Wesley Pines. This was my last year as a camper. When I saw the picture a million thoughts ran through my mind including:
- Hey, that’s Stacey Douglas
- Wow, cool shirt Derrick
- Man, I’m skinny (wish I was still that size)
- Oh My Gosh, those shorts are really short!!
Anyway, thanks so much for making my night Heather. My wife and daughter still haven’t quit laughing. These were such fun times and it’s hard to believe that it has been 24 years. We’re getting old but will forever stay young and skinny through these photos.
Camp Wesley Pines
Once again, Jill and I will be directing Senior High Summer Camp. Our camp will be July 11-16th, 2010 and it’s going to be a fun time for all. We have not received the topic for the summer but anticipate it to come out in the next several weeks.
I did receive a phone call that made my day from an old friend, Bart Styes. Bart is going to be a part of Senior High 2 this year!! We don’t know what capacity that we are going to ask him to serve, but you know as well as I do that he will do a wonderful job. Jill and I are so excited to have him on board.
We are already gearing up recruiting counselors, so if you are interested just drop me a note. Remember, you have to be 5 years older than the oldest camper to be a counselor. Summer will be here before you know it. Please keep this camp and the other summer camps in your prayers.
Cross at the Mountain Chapel
Here is a link to a video talking about Camp and my wife Jill has a role in this. It’s worth the time!
Brother Bob Murray
A place of rest. The name comes from cut-outs on the trail in the Himalaya Mountains where hikers can stop off for a rest. This name has a special place in the heart of my family. It is the place that I met Jill and fell in love with her. (It took her a little bit longer to fall in love with me). It is the place that I asked her to marry me and it is the place where her Father joined us in Holy Matrimony.
It is also a place where a great deal of our ministry has taken place. Jill and I have both worked numerous camps and retreats there over the years. It is a place that I go to unwind and remember how to breathe. Again, it’s a place that is pretty special to us.
Over the past two years, the Camp Director has been Bob Murray and he has done an incredible job. When he took the reigns, the camp was in such a dire financial situation that at the 2009 Annual Conference Bob announced that Camp was probably going to have to close the gates for good. It was then a rally took place and all the people which Sumatanga has been place of rest and vision over the years came to the rescue. God has worked a mighty miracle through Bob and all those who have worked so hard and given so much.
Bob announced today that he is going back to the local church pulpit and my prayers go with him. I thank you for all your work in keeping the camp that is so special to my family alive for another day and a new generation. The work has just begun and there is still many miles to travel before we can rest. However, Sumatanga is worth it as a place of rest for our next generation. May the next director be Kingdom minded with business sense, a heart to love and the strength to say “Get Over It.” I love you Bob!!
It is often said that the sins of one’s past will come back and revisit themselves. I think there is some truth in that as my son Noah (I am told by close relatives and my wife) is just like me. I don’t know that it has helped that my mother for years has been praying the following prayer: “Lord, just allow John to have a son just like him.”
This weekend, the sins of my past paid a visit but in a different way. Many years ago, I was a lifeguard/Recreation Director at Camp Wesley Pines in the Mississippi Conference. During this time, I took pride in being a practical joker and loved pulling pranks on anyone from my comrades in the Lifeguard house to the counselors and even to the Executive Director of CWP. The most pride that I had was in the fact that I was never pranked (with the exception of two Jedi Masters Cary Stockett and Geoffrey Joiner and I don’t like to talk about that.)
When I arrived at Behold on Saturday, I was met with my entire family talking about their beds being short-sheeted the night before. My Father-in-Law, Mother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law and my WIFE!! had all been caught up in a short-sheeting spree. Well, come to find out, one of the Sumatanga directors had been attending a camp meeting and met two of the lifeguards (The right Reverend Kevin Trantham and Garland Brent) that I worked with 20 years ago. They began talking to him regarding the pranks I used to play and a plan was hatched. MJ would short-sheet my bed at Behold.
MJ went to work but did not know which bed I would be sleeping, so, he short-sheeted all the beds in the house. Thus drawing very innocent people into this web of immaturity. What was even more tragic is that I didn’t go to camp on Friday but arrived Saturday. I wasn’t even there!!
So, after 20 years, I still remain untouchable. I do feel bad that my family got caught up in this but as I told my father in law: “I bet you never expected the sins of my past to revisit you when you married me and Jill, did you?” I do offer kudo’s to Kevin and Garland for the work, imagination and the effort of enlisting hit men to do your dirty work and trying to get me while you sleep safely in your beds 200 miles away.
I am officially retired from pranking but this may just be the event that brings me out of retirement! I might just retrieve my jersey from the Hall of Fame and jog back onto that field one more time…(to be continued)
This weekend, I received some very sad news in that Rev. Matt Miller had drowned during a hunting trip with his dad and some friends. Matt was in the process of completing his studies at Memphis Theological Seminary and pastoring Propst United Methodist Church in Millport, Al.
Matt joined forces with Emily Rhodes to direct Jr. High camp when Jill and I started directing camps together. Their camps were always a huge success and Matt knew how to share the Gospel with the youth in such fun and effective ways. He will be truly missed and yet the efforts of his work and the seeds that he planted will grow for years to come.
When we started The Bridge, I called all my pastor friends and asked them if I could come to their churches and share with them about starting a new church. Matt was the first one to say, “Yeah, we would love to have you.” When I got there, the treated me so special. They listened, asked questions and they took on the task of praying for our church. They also went out of their way to tell me of their love and respect for Matt. I heard stories of him leading people to Christ and his always being there for his congregation during the tough times of life. As I left that evening, Matt walked me out to the car and I told him how proud I was of him and he quickly gave God the credit. That was Matt and it was a great evening that I will remember always.
Beyond all else, Matt enjoyed life and lived it fully. From the Mid-West Roadtrip to see the Spam Museum to the Bucket Truck Adventure, he was having fun and enjoying life. I got so caught up in reading his blogs and post regarding the Spam trip that it has made me want to travel there myself.
Those whose lives crossed paths with Matt experienced a person who was a joy to be around. He always had a smile for you and he had a way about him that made the world a brighter place. Matt, I thank for the honor of calling you a friend, and your love for Jesus. The world is a better place because of Matt Miller.
We just retuned home from Behold 2010 and what a wonderful weekend it was. What happens when you put over 1000 people in a room, an incredible speaker, the coolest worship leader (Peder Eide) and the Holy Spirit also shows up? You find yourself immersed in worship that is so powerful that it boggles the mind. That is the best way that I can describe it. Awesome.
This morning I had the honor of officiating the Communion service. (See photo below.) During the service, an offering was taken for UMCOR in response to the earthquake and over $1700.00 was given. I haven’t got the final counts on how many people made first time commitment to Christ but we ran out of room for those who felt a calling to ministry.
Thanks to all those who work so hard to make this weekend a success and to those who come. I’ll write more about the weekend later as I rest up and my mind unfogs.