Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When it’s OK to open your eyes

If more Christians began to pray like this boy, we might change the world.

You’re not supposed to open your eyes when you pray. I’m not sure why that is such a christian taboo, but I’ve judged others enough for doing so that I know it’s definitely  a “no no.” But I couldn’t help myself. It was a reflex. When I heard him say the words, they were so unbelievable that I had to open my eyes to make sure it was really a 13 year old boy sitting in front of me.

It was pretty dark. Campfire was over and he’d already spoken with one of our junior counselors. At the recommendation of the junior counselor he’d found me when they were done talking . He wanted some advice. The talk at campfire that night had convinced him that his addiction needed to be put to death, but he’d been turning to his sin for so many years he didn’t know where to begin.

As we prayed it was clear that he wasn’t talking to me. He was genuinely talking to God. And what he prayed stunned me for its sincerity and wisdom,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Learning from the Puppy Philosopher

I first noticed Paul as he was struggling to drag his suitcase up the steps of the lodge to check-in for
camp that dry Monday afternoon. His nine year old frame was only slightly bigger than the puffy sleeping bag sneaking out from under his left arm. I probably should have offered assistance, but I was fascinated right away at this little boy’s tenacity, and I felt that to interrupt would be to steal the victory I hoped awaited him at the top.

The best way I can think to describe him is that he reminded me of a puppy philosopher. He was small and cute … like a puppy, but time after time he would ask the simple but profound questions of a deep thinker, and yet, like a person trying to remember who they are, these questions were asked without the pride that so often attends great minds.

As we sat on the cool concrete pad behind the craft shack that Wednesday morning I kicked myself. Our post of 8 elementary boys had spent the past few days together and yet it was only at that moment that I realized the stupid assumption I had been making about Paul. I had simply asked him to pray and without any sense of the embarrassment that kids from a typical Christian home would suffer he declared he didn’t know how. “You’ve never prayed before?” I asked. “Nope” he said with a slight shake of his disheveled brown head. Curious, I probed, “Have you ever read the Bible before Paul?” “No, this week is the first time.” He said simply.

Modeling Our Life After A Box

I responded to a text a moment ago with the most lazy of possible responses: "K". It was apparently too demanding to add the additional "O" and a couple marks of punctuation.

Is this what our culture prizes: self-centered efficiency? Is there a place for artistry, for the inefficiency of laboring as a craftsman? We seem to be creating a society in which we work only until our particular infantile desire is satisfied and then we stop.

This attitude in architecture produced some of the ugliest public buildings in modern design. Are we satisfied to model our life after the efficiency of a box?

Jesus still makes the blind see

"I feel like I can finally see in color!"

This young man's brokenness was no match for the grace of God

I wish I could tell you his name. I wish that you could hear his whole story. 

Abuse that left bruises on his body and chunks of his life his mind won't yet let him remember. Beaten with the hands and by the words of those who should have offered hands and words of life. Living in constant fear and anxiety. Turning in desperation to a panoply of sins to escape the pain only to end up more broken. He was angry at God. And yet in the midst of that anger and confusion, like so many of us, God drew him gently to a fragile repentance and he cried out to God in childlike trust and found life.

As the scales are falling from his eyes he told me recently, "I feel like I can finally see in color!"Jesus still makes the blind to see! To see color in a world painted black with sin is truly a miracle only God can bring about!

Please pray for this young man. He has a name that God knows, and the road ahead is unimaginably difficult, but unimaginably bright.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Spiritual Whac-A-Mole

I ran across this quote a moment ago from John Owen, an amazing old Puritan, 
"Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” 
(From his book Mortification of Sin In Believers). 

My interpretation: As sin steps into your path dispatch it with all the urgency of a carnival game. Spiritual Whac-a-Mole.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ministry Update: October 2014

I often get asked, "Is the busy season over?" I understand the motivation for the question. Summers

are crazy busy. Often camps end one day and begin the next. It is common in the hours between trips to be out shopping for food while load after load of laundry is agitating away, trailers are being disemboweled and re-stuffed with gear for the next trip, and teenage guys are draped over every conceivable surface in our house.

The "Busy" Question Answered:
But the busyness doesn't end, it simply transmogrifies. As September rolls around our ministry shifts from discipleship in the camp setting to helping equip men in local churches to disciple the boys and young men in their churches on a weekly basis. This involves visits to churches, meetings with men, projects for the national CSB office, preparing for regional events (like the Leadership Advance in January), in addition to the personal discipleship that I have the privilege of doing with dads and young men.

Two New Highschoolers:
In addition to the demands of ministry, "normal" life continues to take place. We started homeschooling Hannah and Josh as freshmen in September which means that the expectations and standards have been raised for both the kids and the parents teaching them. Salvos of repentance back and forth have become common place in the Gregg Family battle for sanctification.

Continuing to Beat the Cancer:
We are also really happy to report that after the first exam in about two years the radiation oncologist sees no evidence that the cancer has returned (see the picture above). Karen is going to have an MRI done to confirm that the cancer is still too beat-up to make a second appearance but for now we continue to rejoice.

The Next Event:
Another successful Father/Son Team Day concluded this past Saturday and now I have moved on to planning the details for this year's  Leadership Advance. The theme for 2015: "I Heart Me: Rejecting the 'Selfie' Culture." We'll be focusing on the danger of pride in leadership.

Summer Pictures:
Lastly, if you want to get a taste for some of our trips this past summer there a few albums below  you can view. You can also get a taste for our amazingly wonderful and crazy British relatives who visited in August. I think our day with them in San Francisco was the most fun I can remember having in years. We really didn't stop laughing the whole day!

In Christ,
Dave Gregg

Book Recommendation: Desiring God, By John Piper

Are Duty and Delight really supposed to be at odds?
Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

This book was, well, for lack of a better term ... delightful!

It helped me to understand how to reconcile two biblical ideas that I've often struggled with. How are my desires and God's glory supposed to live together.

I thought, at least deep down, that to a great extent I could have one or the other, but that they could never live together in my life at the same time.

I thank John Piper for this book that helped me understand that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

 Take a closer look at the book ...

Summer Camp! Mark your Calendar

View camps and trips here
2015 Camps and Trips are posted. Take a look at the camps and trips for next summer and put the dates on the calendar now so you don't forget.

Wilderness Adventure Camp - Leadership Training Backpacking Trip June 12-20  
Aviation Camp:  
June 21-26 
Trinity White Water Canoe:  June 21-27
Junior Counselor Pre-Camp Training: 
July 1-4 
NorCal Boys Adventure Camp:
July 12-18
Father/Son Camp: 
July 12-15 
Father/Daughter Camp: 
July 15-18 
Base Camp (Intro to Trip Camping):  
July 5-10 
SoCal Boys Adventure Camp:July 20-25
Father Daughter Canoe:  July 29-Aug 1  
Scuba Camp (Advanced Open Water):  
July 26-31 
Surf Camp:
Aug 2-8  

Take a closer look ...

Fun Pictures From the Summer

Surf Camp Pics
Canadian Canoe Pics
Crazy British Relative Pics

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When she doesn't love you back

Most of us have felt the pain of loving someone who has refused to love us back even if this was just the transient and loosely rooted puppy love of elementary school soap operas. There are, however, deeper loves that can leave profound scars.

When my friend and his wife followed the calling of God to begin providing foster care for infants, the fear of unrequited love was the farthest thing from their minds. Infants are not emotionally dangerous. They love you if you hold them, feed them, and de-poopify them. But my friends’ emotionally sterile plans were soon plopped into the diaper-pale of good intentions as God placed a very non-infant older girl into their home.

Things quickly got messy. Yeah … there were the typical messes that, like rotting fruit off a tree past its season, drop from every orifice and appendage of small children. Cheerios once again found their way onto the car floorboards and into previously unknown upholstery crevices. However, the messiness that really mattered was the conflicting emotions and deep attachments that rapidly began to grow in their hearts toward this child. They began to fall in love and there was no promise that she could stay.

Our love for another person is no guarantee that they will love us back, and in the messy and dysfunctional dynamics of most foster care relationships the children have an understandable reluctance to bond with their care providers. This is because foster children often feel that to love their foster parents is to betray their birth mom and dad.

This dynamic played itself out with agonizing textbook predictability between my friend and his

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Father/Son Team Day 2014 Memory Verse

Take a look at the Father/Son Team Day
For you go-getters, planners, and competitive types, here is this years memory verse for the Father/Son Team day. The memory verse is highly weighted not to mention the most important activity you can do with your son.

 Galatians 5:13-17

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Couches on fire

How two young men led their peers away from lust and toward Christ

When God grips the heart of a young man for the purpose of transforming him into material fit for His use, the process is often violent. One moment you see sparks of brilliance and the next you see sparks from the sofa he just chose to turn into a smoke signal to his buddy across the room.

So when a young man approaches me with a “good idea” my kneejerk reaction is to fall into a posture of skepticism and to swiftly but subtlety place myself between these young men and any other innocent targets of their adolescent genius.

My cynicism was dealt a welcome blow in January at the Leadership Advance (JLC), our annual conference for young men. The group of around 60 young men had been broken into smaller groups that for the most part go through the three day event as a small group together.

Two young men in my small group both of whom I have had the privilege of discipling separately the past few years had hit it off and apparently had got to talking about all that God has done in them the past three years. They are indeed two examples of young men in whom the Spirit has left no area untouched by his winnowing grace.

They came to me with a courageous suggestion. Both of them had been struggling with sexual sin when we first met. But as I have seen time and time again, this sin so deeply rooted, was no match for the strong and kind hands of our triune God. Both of them have seen God work to such an extent that what had enslaved them for so long has been replaced by freedom and a life given over to serving God and others rather than serving themselves.

These two young men wanted to do something crazy. They wanted to share with the guys in their group how they found freedom from their enslavement to lust. They were passionate and serious about sharing not so much about the depth of their struggles but the depth of God’s mercy and the freedom that is so very real at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. I knew these guys. Yes they are young and are not beyond the occasional indoor smoke signal, but when it comes to their faith they are passionate and sober minded about seeing other young men experience the joy of their salvation. They had come to see the freedom that can only come from allowing Christ to topple the lying adolescent idols that without care are as common to the young man’s heart as weeds are in my garden at home. They wanted passionately to communicate the hope that is available to young men from lips that would carry a special kind of weight. God’s promises are not wishful thinking.

I said yes and prayed that God would be glorified and I wouldn’t be mortified.

What the hell happened?

How the cross makes sense of our suffering

My Friend,

Many young Christians, particularly those growing up in nice Christian homes, avoid or are “protected” from asking uncomfortable but absolutely vital questions about God, the world, and themselves. You landed on one of the most important and one of the most thorny of those questions yesterday.

“What do you say to someone who knows there is a God, but doesn’t feel that he or she can trust that God because of the pain they have experienced?”

When I set all of the potential answers to this problem aside one another, however, I really do think that unless we center our answer around the cross of Christ it won’t matter how “right” the answer is, the truth will taste like ash in our mouths. The cross is the climax of human history, it changed the world, it was indeed the solution to the problem of sin, and it is the answer to our suffering and the suffering of those around us. The cross is the only answer that can satisfy our deepest needs, including the need to make sense of our pain.

In this regard I want to take a moment to reiterate what I said in answer to your question on Monday in hopes that it will give you something more clear to chew on and consider.

Let me start with a story that I hope will provide an analogy that may begin to provide some clarity.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Reading the Bible: Learning from my grandmother's stiff upper lip

My very British grandmother became a nurse at the age of 14 as the war with Germany was escalating and the Germans were practicing the newly developed and imprecise science of rocketry on the stiff upper lips of Londoners. This meant that each time my grandmother took the train back to the hospital in London where she worked, another building around the hospital was gone, along with the people who were in it at the time the rocket fell. In spite of this daily danger the doctors and nurses, including my grandmother, stubbornly fixed their jaws and served the people of London, running up to the roof to extinguish incendiary bombs as they fell on the roof, rescuing patients from the basement as it flooded with water from a broken water main, and in countless other ways demonstrating a kind of courage that we rarely see in o
ur soft and self-centered world today.

As I seek to help young men to understand why they should love the Bible and how to approach such a unique text, it has occurred to me that the same reasons my heart would beat a little faster and a smile would creep over my face as I heard my grandmother tell her stories are the same reasons that should cause us to thrill at the message of the Bible.

Why should I have cared so much about my grandmother’s stories? My grandmother is dead. I wasn't

Friday, November 15, 2013

An Update on Karen's Neck

This is what the x-ray looked like right after surgery.
So if you were to ask "how are things going?" the answer would have to come in two parts. Day to day things are pretty good. Karen is up and around, schooling the kids, managing the home, working a bit in the garden and generally doing those things she was doing before she fell. She continues to wear the neck brace and will continue to do so at least through mid January. Her neck gets sore and fatigued through the day and Karen is being a good girl ... resting without being forced to do so. So other than the brace and her need to take it a bit slower and more carefully than in the past life is basically ... normal.

But two weeks ago at her two week post-operation appointment we got news that was made me take another deep breath.

The bracket that was affixed to karen's vertebrae has 4 screws. Two are screwed into her C-6 vertebrae and two are screwed into her T-1. These screws were inserted straight. Unfortunately, after two weeks the x-ray showed that the screws had "subsided." That means that the bone is was not strong enough to support the screws and they had beguin to slip. At the appointment two weeks ago the Dr. said that if they stayed where they are then he would be happy and no further surgery would be needed. If, however at our next apointment on November 26th the screws have slipped or the plate has no longer flush against her vertebrae than that will most likely require a new surgery, this time approaching from the back of the spine. This is not preferred for lots of reasons.
This is a model of a bracket and screws similar to what was used for Karen

Please pray that the screws find a nice solid home in the bone and no longer slip. Karen has increased her calcium and D-3 intake to help. We are also trying to get a bone stimulator which apparently helps improve bone strength. Please pray we can get one and that it helps.

Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Sexual Sneeze

What can you say when a young man seems to be struggling over and over with the same sin? On the one hand he hates it and on the other he loves it. So what kind of counsel can you give? The short answer is the answer that we should always turn to: The Gospel. For those of us that have forgotten let me remind you, this means "good news." Good news is not the same as excusing sin but it also does not mean loading a boat load of guilt and shame on the back of a young man or woman already burdened by their sin. Fortunately the Gospel is simple enough to be grasped by a small child but is also vast and deep enough to provide a pool of resources to prevent you from needing to become a broken one dimensional record.

Below is a letter I wrote to a young man struggling with lust and who had fallen once again. My hope in this letter was to remind him of the grace of God as well as the significance of the sin that he continued to turn to using some analogies that I thought might be helpful. I hope you find the letter helpful as well.


I was praying for you this morning and reflecting on the last fall you had. The focus of my prayer was directed at asking God to grant you a growing keenness and awareness of your actions. It’s so easy to allow life to slip by in a thoughtless series of reflexes. Many men go through their whole life doing things and thinking things based solely on the urges they feel in the moment. This way of approaching life could hardly be called making decisions. It is more appropriate for animals than men. And yet men often ignore the responsibility that attends the blessing of being divine image bearers and choose to behave as if our impulses are the standard of acceptable behavior.

As I mentioned previously, this is the modus operandi of childishness. So as I pray for you I pray that this aspect of childishness will be replaced by an acute mindfulness of the motivation and telos of every decision you make. As Paul admonished the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” This means we are always on our guard, and it also means that we have a healthy suspicion of our own motives because as Jeremiah announces in Chapter 17:9 of his denunciation against rebellious Israel, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

I fully understand why within the course of three fleeting minutes you could turn from Albertus Magnus to masturbation. Your approach to the latter subject has until now lacked the kind of mindfulness that should always be present whenever we approach a subject of power, potency and importance.

But until now, it appears that your approach toward masturbation and probably your sexuality in general is more akin to the character Scotty Smalls in the movie the Sand Lot in the infamous but hilarious “great Bambino scene.”

You can see a clip of that scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyFaLT-L2uk

But remember how Scotty, needing a ball to play baseball with grabbed the signed baseball from his step-dad’s room and used it to play with not having any clue that it had been signed by Babe Ruth. And of course the ball gets destroyed and hilarity ensues. We laugh and groan at Scotty, but we are

He Bravely Confessed His Sin. This Was My Initial Response.

He bravely confessed his sin. This was my initial response.

I understand the risk you took in being so open and honest. It took quite a bit of courage I know. There is no need to hold your breath regarding my response, if that indeed was what you are feeling. My respect for you has only increased. You are not alone in your battle. Where you stand among the few is in your willingness to both seriously battle your lust as well as to talk about it and ask for help.

Believe it or not I love the fact that you wrote a lot! I tend to write long tomes and appreciate someone else who is willing to afflict me right back! J I also want to be very clear. I do not consider any of the time or effort that I have or will invest in you as a burden. The church is far to full of young men who couldn’t care an iota about Jesus Christ, obedience to him, growing in sanctification, purity, the lost around them, or any of the other things that have eternal value. You will not have a real sense for how encouraging it is for ME to get a message like the one you just sent until you have enough years under your belt to be looking back at the next generation. If some time, prayer, genuine concern, well meant nagging, and annoyingly specific questions can help you thrive in your growth as a man of God then I am perfectly willing to do these things with a happy heart. You get my drift?

I do ask a few things from you in return.
  • Promise to be honest
  • Promise to discerningly help other young men
  • Promise to train your sons so that YOU become their chief source of accountability. In this way your sons will be spared the heartache that you and I experienced due to the abdication of the previous generation regarding these “taboo” subjects.


Isn’t it interesting how in the Church, of all places, where we teach and understand the total depravity of man and the deceitfulness of sin, we feel this dastardly ironic compunction to wear masks and erect facades of sinless perfection? We of all people should be open and honest, right? Not gratuitously, but honestly. Some of us adults think that we can protect our children from lust in all its forms by simply keeping the world out. Even assuming that this is possible, as one Puritan put it,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why Not Africa?

I often look at my friends doing mission work in interesting and needy places like Africa and ask myself “why would we bother to plant our ministry right here at home?” We are privileged in every comparable way to the suffering peoples who comprise the majority of the world’s population. Why would I want to serve people who often times think their biggest problem is the barista forgetting that they ordered a NON-fat quad grande six pump vanilla one inch steamed breve Americano? But the answer that seems so clear to me and that drives me with passion every day is that this is NOT the biggest problem that we privileged Americans are suffering.

The reality is that our culture has medicated our sin by covering it over by the white noise of our first world problems. This certainly begins with the sins of abdication and rebellion that are so clear once the surface of our privilege is scratched, but my concern deepens and adds urgency to the mission of our ministry when I consider the disaster toward which our culture is so unwittingly racing.

If the church does not arrest this spiral of prodigal rebellion, if we continue to squander the inheritance with which God has blessed us, then we should not pretend that we will continue to have all these lovely first world blessings to help us ignore our growing intimacy with sin.

But even with this harsh criticism still hanging in the air, it is not fear that is my primary motivator. If that was all I had then it would be easier to simply hide rather than to fight. What really gets me out of bed excited each morning is that I see every day the life changing work that God is doing in the lives of men and boys, Fathers and sons. Though most of this would never be sexy enough to find its ways into a made for TV movie, I believe that God is laying the deep and lasting groundwork for a revival that will reform our  culture in a way that eventually WILL be noticed in the history books.

We hope that the stories we’ve included in this blog will give you a strong sense for what God is doing and that you will be inspired to join us in our ministry through prayer and financial support.

If you have been considering becoming a financial partner in our ministry please know that now is the time when we really need your help. Please prayerfully consider supporting our ministry as God has seen fit to bless you.

In Christ,

A very grateful Gregg Family!

A Letter From a Dad

Our program ministries (Tree Climbers, Stockade, Battalion), as well as our summer camp ministry www.SequoiaBrigadeCamp.org) are designed to foster a context of discipleship. Often this provides great opportunity for Dads to engage their sons and to be challenged to respond more consistently to the call that God has placed on their life to walk alongside their sons and to help them grow into godly men.

This is a letter I received after one of our camps this summer. My hope in sharing this is that you will be encouraged and that you will also come to better understand the kind of ministry to which God has called us.

Dear Dave,

Thanks for the great week of camp. It was a great experience for Jason and me. I was reviewing the week with my wife and noticing all the areas of growth opportunities I had written down, both for Jason and myself. A totally worthwhile experience. I was continuously impressed by the focus of the camp, the subject matter of the Bible Ex and the Christian maturity of all the leaders.

Spending the week with you cemented my belief that God has placed you in your position with great wisdom and purpose. You did a fantastic job in engaging all the campers and providing an excellent example of a Christian man. Both Jason and Josh spoke highly of you all the way home.
I'll continue to pray about ways that God can use me and specifically the areas you mentioned.

This week convicted me on areas in my roll as Father to my boys where I need to grow. God resounded two words that came through in nearly every Bible Ex, devotion and memory verse this week.


I've been too passive in allowing misbehavior in my family. That passivity has also trickled down to my mentorship of Jason’s spiritual growth. I've also been convicted about several areas that, while I claim are with selfless motivation, are really selfish areas I need to eliminate. I appreciate your prayers as I work to make these areas reflect God's will for my life.

Your brother in Christ,