Wednesdays with Jillene: “What do you want?”

“What do you want?”

What a question! The intent of the asking evident in inflection. Tone shows whether the inquiry is sincere in discerning  or if it is it is asked out of interrupted frustration.

How many times do I wish someone would just ask me what I want? How many times am I asked what I want only to realize I have no idea how to begin to answer? Can you relate?

In John 1, scripture records Jesus asking this very question.

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

Does this exchange perplex you at all? I’ve found myself turning this over for days now. The day prior John’s disciples heard him declared Jesus the one for whom John had been preparing the way. Jesus was the Son of God. Here they again encounter Jesus, the disciples follow him and Jesus asks them, “What do you want?”

How would I answer the question if Jesus posed it to me? Wow, what a thing to think about! Do you know how you’d answer?

Me… perhaps because I can be indecisive, maybe it is because I think of too many things at once, or because each day/hour/minute looks different… I’m not sure what I’d say. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about this! What would I answer if Jesus ask me, “What do you want?”

Hm… I want to be happy. I want to put my all into what I’ve been given in life. I want to be a good momma. I want to be a good friend. I want solid friendships. I want to be trusting and trustworthy. I want to be faithful. I want to be loving . I want to be worthy of love. I want to be hardworking. I want to be caring… and patient… and giving… and selfless… I want to live a life worthy…

What would I say?

Face-to-face with a God that knows all about me and loves me, gave His life for me, calls me beloved daughter, gave me new life, blesses me in ways beyond my understanding… well, maybe the only thing I could say is, “I want to want what you want for me.”

When Jesus asked the two disciples of John, they responded, “Where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

And, did they ever see! Their lives were changed.

I think I’ve been struggling for a while to focus myself as I pray. More truthfully, I felt pretty “unfocused” in general. Then it came time for Lent. There were many years of my life when things like celebrating Lent, advent, and many holidays in general wasn’t something I found important. My main thought on why: I should be living those things daily not just when the calendar says I should focus on them.

I still think that is valid and I recognize that left to my own devices I will avoid things that are tough and I will forget many things I truly intent to accomplish. Opening my heart to the very thing I thought I didn’t need has actually stretched and grown me more than I could have imagined.

So, back to Lent and feeling “unfocused.” 😉 This year I started a Lent devotional and then, my friend tagged me in an Instagram Photo-A-Day Lent “challenge.” I like photography so I thought I’d give it a go. Who would have known how much it would affect me? Oh yes, God did.

God’s been using this daily task of choosing a photo representing the word-of-the-day to reveal the answer to my what do you want? in such a neat way. People really take this Instagram thing a variety of ways, but I’ve been trying to reflect on the word of the day, what God’s Word has to say about the topic, how God has been at work in my life… and then I’m able to have fun taking pictures too.

So, how has God been at work through that? I’ve needed to be focused, intentional, in the Word, prayerful, honest and bold. Things I’ve deep down desired for a while. God is pretty neat, huh? And I’m so thankful as I humbly (again) see God faithfully at work in me.

How about you? What desires are on your heart? Have you been able to take them to God in prayer? How is God at work in your life? How would you respond to the question Jesus asked, “What do you want?” My Lent devotion offered this reflection:

This question invites us to stop, to consider the longings of our hearts and to share these with the Lord. We don’t often do this in our fast-paced everyday lives. The consequences are tragic. We rob ourselves of living a life of wonder and depth and passion. We find ourselves skimming along on the surface of life. We miss out on experiencing in-depth relationships with God and with others. Can you see why taking Jesus’ question is so important?

Take some time to read slowly the gospel story for the week (John 1:35-39). Imagine Jesus asking you the same question he asked the two disciples. Listen to the longings of your own heart, find words for them and share them with the Lord. You may also want to be quiet for a few moments to become aware of how the Lord responds to you.

-Set aside some time with God for this, don’t let it slip to the wayside of everything else on your to-do list, put on hold for interruptions or the myriad of things that could get in the way.

-If you are struggling, find someone to share that struggle with today (text, call, message, carrier pigeon if you so desire).

-If God has been at work take some time to thank him and find someone to share that with today. God will be glorified, you will be able to more clearly see Him at work and the person you share with will be blessed as well!

~Jillene

Curious about this whole Instagram thing? You can click here (or see some of my pictures in the right sidebar). You don’t need an Instagram account to see my pictures.

This post was originally published by Jillene at: thinmoments.com

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Summer Staff Testimony with Sarah

Camp Summer Staff are an amazing group of people. Over the last almost 65 years Camp Vick has been blessed with MANY people who, as the Body of Christ, have made this ministry!

Here is a little of Sarah’s staff story from the summer of 2016.

We are hiring our 2017 staff. Think you want to join our Ministry Team? Being on summer staff isn’t all fun and games, it is hard work. But it is also a chance to grow your faith, share the gospel and change your world one camper/guest at a time by living faith out loud.

Don’t have the whole summer to give? We need weekly volunteers as well: counselors, kitchen helpers, Bible study leaders, camp specialist… and more!

Click here to download a summer staff application and reference form.

Click here to download a volunteer application and reference form.

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Summer Staff Testimony with Preston

Camp Summer Staff are an amazing group of people. Over the last almost 65 years Camp Vick has been blessed with MANY people who, as the Body of Christ, have made this ministry!

Here is a little of Preston’s staff story from the summer of 2016.

We are hiring our 2017 staff. Think you want to join our Ministry Team? Being on summer staff isn’t all fun and games, it is hard work. But it is also a chance to grow your faith, share the gospel and change your world one camper/guest at a time by living faith out loud.

Don’t have the whole summer to give? We need weekly volunteers as well: counselors, kitchen helpers, Bible study leaders, camp specialist… and more!

Click here to download a summer staff application and reference form.

Click here to download a volunteer application and reference form.

 

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Wednesdays with Jillene: if…

If…

There are a lot of “what ifs” and “ifs” in life. A lot of “ifs” we have no idea the answers to. There are even fewer “what ifs” that we have any control over.

For all the unknown of the ifs and what ifs we face, they sure have a big impact on our life. Just look at the ifs of the weather. Preparation for this latest storm “Stella” included a state of emergency, school closings and rushes on grocery store staples.  Stock trading influenced by the ifs of oil price futures impact fuel prices we pay at the pump today. Parents making plans can include bunches of speculation on the what ifs of their children’s anticipated behavior.

Do what ifs or ifs excite you, terrify you, worry you, motivate you, consume you?

There are two if situations in the gospel that resonate with me. And they boil down to this:

“If you can…”

and

“If you will…”

In Mark 9 we find a father who has come to Jesus in need of a miracle. His son had been afflicted in an awful way, “He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.” He’d been suffering since childhood and the situation was dire. Word of the miraculous healing had spread far and wide. This father came desperately seeking a miracle. The disciples were unable to help. Jesus hears the commotion and intercedes.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

“If you can…” I think about that father, what he very well could have endured as his son was afflicted for years. The fear, scrutiny, anguish, anger, and doubt. No help was found for his son, no relief from this torment. And then word spread through the people about the miracles this man named Jesus was performing. Healing things that could not be healed. So he brought his son, first to the disciples. Was the father full of hope? Hoping beyond hope that this time would be different? And then it wasn’t. The disciples were unable to help the boy.

How would you have felt in that moment? If I had dared to hope only to have that hope dashed… I’m thinking I would have been in despair, possibly feeling frustratingly panicked. Scripture describes Jesus having heard them arguing. Upon learning the situation, Jesus asks the boy be brought to him…

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

if you can do anything…

I understand the father’s if response. No one else could do anything. Not even Jesus’ own disciples. Years without answers. Years filled with this torment. Oh yes, I fully get this if you can…

His if you can does not bring this encounter to an end. Jesus meets him in this if you can moment and challenges the father to believe. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” The father’s if you can heart needed faith. And his response speaks to my struggling.to.believe.heart.

Then there is another if story. This time it is Jesus with the if. The book of Luke is tells of Jesus entrance to Jerusalem with fanfare fit for a king. But it isn’t long after that events take a drastic turn, Judas has agreed to betray Jesus. He will hand him over to the very people looking to take his life. Jesus sees that his time is coming. After the “Last Supper” he withdraws, as was his custom, to pray. But what we see here in Luke 22 is a prayer that was less than ordinary.

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

“if you are willing…” While there is no way for me to comprehend the magnitude of what Jesus, Son of God, was facing in this moment, I can at least catch a glimpse into the enormity of it. There are few moments in my life that compare but I do “get” what Jesus was experiencing. While I have never been so anguished that I could be described as severely as Jesus was here… I know of moments that come close. Those times when mental/spiritual/emotional/physical turmoil are so great, well… you feel like you are dying.

And Jesus, in that most dire state, turns to the Father and earnestly prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Oh man, this if… it hits deep too. God if you are willing… ever wonder that? Ever wonder if God is willing to take suffering away from you?

But Jesus has something I am often missing, a resolve it often hard for me to muster:

yet not my will, but yours be done.

Two stories, of the father and of Jesus, facing major what if situations with two different if responses. Both are still ifs. See here, the ifs exist. There are and will continue to be unknowns, unseens, uncertains… There is much that isn’t ours to know.

We know the heart of God for us. The will of God for us that we love Him and love others. But the specifics in any given situation can often be beyond ours to know. I am reminded of that over and over as I read through both the Old and New Testaments. From Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through to Paul, people in scripture faced HUGE situations with enormous what ifs and ifs beyond their control, without knowing how it would all work out, and they remained faithful.

How to be faithful in the ifs?

#1- Come to God. 

Bring your ifs. Both the father and Jesus brought their pain, brought their need, brought their brokenness to God in the form of their if request.

Fear can keep up away from God because fear allows our what ifs to rule. Fear keeps us from coming to God because what if he can’t, won’t, isn’t willing… gets us thinking I’d better just not ask. Fear allows the ifs and what ifs to hold us back and separate us from our loving Father. Fear uses the ifs and what ifs to keep us from showing up. God is our ever-present help in times of trouble, our refuge, our strength… but we get in the way when let those ifs keep us from coming to God.

#2- Ask for what you need.

When Jesus rebuked the father for his heart of doubt the man didn’t respond with anger, he didn’t give excuses, he didn’t demand proof… he asked for what he needed: help. For him it was help with his unbelief maybe for us it is wisdom, or relief from burdens, or hope, or faith.

Jesus said to this father, “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” That father knew… oh, he knew, he knew he needed to believe. And he knew he was dealing with big doubt. So what did he do? “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”

When the what ifs and ifs of life warrant belief, hope, faith, strength, trust… but doubt gets in the way… incapacitate the doubt by asking God for the very thing you know you need but you don’t have.  Because that doubt, it is trying to incapacitate you.

#3- Rely on the will of God.

Jesus brought his heart felt, anguished to the deepest pain, request to God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” He brought that earnest desire to God. He didn’t sugar coat it. He didn’t avoid it. He didn’t modify it. But Jesus prayer didn’t stop there: “yet not my will, but yours be done.”

There is a thing (to me a very significant thing) I noticed about Jesus request. By immediately following his request with “yet not my will, but yours be done” it reveals something my heart struggles with greatly. When Jesus said “if you are willing” I think it is very different than when I say “if you are willing” because Jesus was able to submit to the will of God.

See, it may be playing semantics here, but there is a big difference behind the heart of me saying “if you will” and “if it is your will.” H.U.G.E. difference here. What do you mean when you say those two ifs?

For me, to say, “if you will” is to say that I have an idea how I would like things to go. If you will, would you please do what I would like. I have very strong ideas on how lots of things should go and that doesn’t just pertain to me. I know what I would like other people to decide, to choose, or to do. So, when I say, “if you will,” I’m often meaning if you will do what I would like. For me to say, “if it is your will” is to not just want the other person to do what I want but to do do it because it is their will, their heart, their desire.

When it comes to asking of God it is no small thing for me to bring my request to God and then, responding in faith, ask that God’s will be done. Because God’s will might not look like what I want, might not make sense to me. And that is where the biggest stretch and growth of the strength of my character in faith comes in: relying on the will of God no matter the ifs and what ifs I’m facing.

~Jillene

This post was originally published by Jillene on: thinmoments.com

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Wednesdays with Jillene: waiting in the wilderness

 

We’ve been blessed to live here onsite at Camp Vick since 2002… 15 years now. There are many things that I know seemingly inside-out.There are many things that strike me anew… and that is a beautiful thing.
Micah started school in 2005 and since that point I’ve seen this view several times a day for the last 12 years as I wait for the bus.

 

A few years ago God used these big trees and their pine cones to speak to me.

In spring, in summerpine cone lade bough, through the fall and in the winter these evergreens stay, well, ever green. And while they don’t bear fruit or dazzle me with leaves of color, they are not dormant. So when, one spring day, I chose to look I was amazed by how many teeny, tiny pine cones were growing from top to bottom of the enormous trees.
So I showed the kids, who seemed to care only a little more than less. And time went on. Seasons changed, summer passed, the weather cooled and back down the driveway for bus duty I resumed my multiplicity of trips.

And I saw them again.

Winter came; snIMG_0121ow blanketed the landscape and I went to take pictures of the beauty and there I saw them.

The pine cones hanging.

“Pine cones, what’s the matter, why didn’t you fall when autumn came?”

‘Cause see, I didn’t know, that wasn’t their timetable. They weren’t born by a deciduous tree, they were on an evergreen; and as such, their timing takes longer, years in fact. So the pine cones grew on. If I judged the productivity of the pine cone against the growing season of the fruit of a leafy tree, I’d likely conclude they had missed their chance or something was wrong. While the purpose is similar, God’s design and timetable for a pine cone and an apple are not the same.

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We can learn a lot about ourselves from the difference.

I’ve been doing a Lent Photo-A-Day Challenge on Instagram. Quite a challenge indeed as each day I focus on a new word and look to scripture as God speaks to me (and I’ve had fun taking pictures too). Yesterday’s word was: wilderness. And I remembered this photo from that September 2014 post.

See, the story of those trees, the pine cones and me… it isn’t done yet. A few months ago, standing at the end of camp road I took notice of those huge pine trees. But something was different. Do you see it?

The trees are empty. The pinecones have fallen; their time has come.

I’ve been watching these pinecones since August of 2013 when I first noticed the new growth covering the trees. See how cute those newly growing pinecones look?! (It’s okay if you don’t think so. I get it. My family thinks I am a liiiiittttllle weird for paying so much attention random things.) Three years of weathering season after season and now (my) little pine cones had fallen.

Their time had (finally) come! I remembered the words I’d written about pine cones, timing, and purpose. Oh how much we need to hear them; what’s more we need to heed them!

Friends: You have purpose. You have value. You have worth.

The purpose for which our loving Father has specially made you may not look like anyone else but the beauty of an apple doesn’t make a pine cone ugly. Your value isn’t lessened because your purpose may be more subtle. 

An apple ripens in one growing season while a pine cone may take years but that doesn’t make it slow or behind the curve. Your spiritual maturity isn’t lessened because your time has not yet come.

When a pine cone becomes squirrel food instead of a seed bearer, that doesn’t mean the pine cone failed but that its purpose was different. Our loving Father knows when and how best you were meant to be the utilized for His glory.

There was one last photo I put in that post. And man, that last photo though. It has stuck with me. Falling from the tree wasn’t the fulfillment of the journey for those pinecones nor was it the end but, instead, the journey continues.

There are days that picture gives me hope. There are days that picture speaks volumes of my struggle. Hope in God’s timing and purpose for me. Struggle in that God’s timing and purpose can look very different from what I’m expecting.

Walk around camp and you can find pine cones of many kinds in many stages. Some on trees. Many fallen. Some shredded right to bits. Only a small few have grown new trees.

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Good gracious… how often do I feel like a pine cone? Brittle, fallen, scattered on the ground… but that pine cone isn’t as destitute as it looks. And neither are we.

I love and struggle with Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Sometimes that looks an awful lot like the wilderness. And sometimes the wilderness is right where we need to be. Scripture shows us that over and over. Trusting God in those wilderness moments is where faith is needed, stretched, grown.

We’ve got these pictures in our minds, plans in our hearts… we’ve figured how this should go. Until it doesn’t. Maybe it takes too long. Perhaps the time comes but the outcome goes very differently. Then again, maybe we’re hanging out having no idea what we were made for in the first place. And we wait in the wilderness. The wilderness of unmet expectations, uncertain outcomes, unknown purpose, unseen timetable…

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is how we hope in the wilderness. Faith is how we endure the wastelands. In the wilderness faith is stretched. In the wastelands faith is grown.

We may wait in the wilderness and wander the wastelands for years. But God is faithful, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God meet us right in the wilderness, sustain us through the wasteland. Help us hope in you alone. Give us faith in your never-failing promises. Amen.

~Jillene

This post was originally published by Jillene at thinmoments.com

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March 3rd is cold and snowy… but… spring and summer are coming!

March 3rd is cold and snowy here at Camp Vick but we’re looking to spring and summer. Jill filmed a little video to give you info you need to stay updated on our 2017 season.

Info on:

  • 2017 Camp Brochures
  • Ministry Team Openings
  • Volunteer Camp Nurses Needed
  • May 6 and 13 work days
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Wednesdays with Jillene: seeking things that are “certain”

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Who really wants to talk about either? And here I go and start a blog post off with this quote?

I think it was bit unavoidable for this quote to come to my mind as March first sits firmly in a season for both. We are smack dab in the middle of tax season here in the U.S. and today, March 1st, begins the season of lent. Plus, I spend a lot of time seeking things that are “certain.”

This isn’t a post about taxes (sorry, I can’t help you out with that one). But it is a post about death. Well, death and new life.

Lent puts us face-to-face with death.

Christ’s death

our death

Many years as I celebrate Christmas my heart looks right towards Easter. Jesus, the greatest gift, was given to give his life for us. There are moments when it all seems so morbid, that while celebrating the birth of our savior I find myself looking to his death. It can be a part of Easter that I am eager to put aside as well… move past the mourning of the crucifixion and right into the joyous empty tomb of Easter dawning.

Lent, as Advent is for Christmas, serves as pause allowing my spirit and mind to focus and reflect as Easter draws near. And we start here on Ash Wednesdays thinking of death; yes, Christ’s death but more-so for me today the certainty of my own. Right here in this gloomy space is where the hope of 1 Thessalonians 3 meets me because as I face death (be it Christ’s, someone else’s, or my own) I do not need to mourn as those who have no hope. Why? Because in Christ death and taxes are not the only things that are “certain.”

No, we don’t mourn as those who have no hope; in fact, Christ’s death brings our greatest hope: new life.

Not the “hope” of new life implying something that we are wishing will happen. But through Christ we have the certainty of new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:5-11

He died that we might live. Galatians 2:20 says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

On this first day of Lent, here on Ash Wednesday we think of death, Christ’s death and our own. Christ gave himself as a ransom for our sins and through the redemptive work of Christ we have new life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Daily we take our cross, daily we face our death and find new life in Christ. In death we find the hope of new life. God’s love for us and promise is that nothing… nothing in heaven or on earth… not even death itself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In him we are more than conquerors. Death has lost it’s sting.

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img_8219As many Christians around the world celebrate the beginning of Lent through “a small cross on your forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.” We celebrate the certainty of life, new life in Christ.

lentdevotionMy heart and mind are prone to distraction and wandering. This Lenten season I’ve started a devotion through YouVersion called “Lent Journey,” I’m taking the extra step to set a reminder so I’m less likely to forget! Also, over on Instagram I’m doing a #LentPhoto challenge.#LentPhoto A friend suggested I check it out and you probably know I like photography and what better way to couple that with my time on social media to be more intentional in focusing on Christ?

As we journey to Easter in this season of Lent, do you have practices or traditions you’d like to share?

~Jillene

This blog post was originally published by Jillene at thinmoments.com

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