Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Robin and Miley Really Showed Us

Discipleship should not wait until our culture shocks us into action.
It seems really naive for Christians to be so shocked at the recent performance of Robin Thicke and Miley Syrus. Seriously? You're surprised? I can think of a lot of appropriate responses to this situation, but instead I get the sense that in typical fashion parents are frantically scrambling around grasping for ways to explain what just happened.

That spectacle was simply the consistent expression of a culture that has for the past couple generations been progressively disconnecting itself from any of the biblical moorings that kept the storm of relativism from sweeping us out to die at sea. That performance was simply the death throw of a culture that has given itself over to the god of self. Responding in shock only makes us look like we haven't been paying attention.

But wait ... maybe that's the problem. Maybe we haven't been paying attention. At least not in the ways that count. If our kids somehow got a glimpse of that show and weren't automatically appalled, then we have not talked with our kids enough or about the things that matter. 

Discipleship should not wait until our culture shocks us into action. Christians are guilty of waiting until our hand is forced by the cultural influences around us, but by that time it is basically too late.

What is needed are parents who see every moment as an opportunity to disciple their children. From the baby seat, to the driver seat, and beyond. A culture of discipleship in the home that so saturates life that they are savvy enough to know the ugliness they can expect at the Video Music Awards and thus simply avoid them. And when the ugliness of a godless culture lands square in front of them, they have seen so much beauty placed before them that they are repulsed, though not surprised that this is what a fallen world is producing and placing before us as art.

We should be producing girls who have been taught  in word and by example that they are special, their bodies are special, and that they are not objects to be consumed. And young men who we have intentionally taught to recognize the counterfeit of pornography and who view women not as objects to be consumed but rather as image bearers of God to be honored.

If any good can come from the shocking display the other night let it be a shedding of the lethargy that so often constitutes the bulk of modern parental discipleship. If you are not still talking to your children about this subject next week and all the weeks that follow then for all your shock you are still only a part of the problem.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What is "Normal" Anyway?

Sophia on her way to the top of Yosemite Falls on our family trip
You may wonder why we sacrifice 8 weeks of normalcy on the altar of camp ministry each summer.
It's a good question. Karen and I really only get a day together between camps and those days are crowded with up to 10 sweaty teenage guys. "Down time" is filled with preparation for the next trip, paying bills, and trying to get urgent chores completed around the house, shopping, cooking, and repairing equipment.

But when Karen and I see the eternal impact that these relatively small sacrifices produce the sacrifices don't seem all that sacrificial any longer. How could we grumble against what God so clearly uses to change so many lives ... including our own.

Plus, I spent 4 weeks climbing, paddling, surfing and serving with Josh. I got a week white water canoeing with Hannah, spent some sweet time at Father/Daughter camp with Sophia, and saw all of the Gregg gals serve with Christ-likeness at Base-Camp.

With all of that said, I am thankful for a wife who never once bemoans the life to which God has called us, and who sends me notes of encouragement instead of complaints. I have a wife to whom I long to return!

The Past Few Months in Pictures

Get a small taste of our life this summer and the amazing places God took us.

3 Peak Adventure  (P314)
Surf Camp (Malibu and Ventura)
Father and Daughter Canoe
Socal Boys Adventure
Base Camp
Trinity White Water Canoeing

Making the best of a rainy day on the Trinity White Water Canoe Trip
Sophia at Father/Daughter Camp
Standing 14,505 Feet in the Air on the 3 Peak Backpacking Trip (P314)
Hannah after running
Hannah after running "the Devil's Toilet Bowl" on the Father/Daughter Canoe Trip
Josh Taking a break at Surf Camp
Josh Taking a break at
Bob and Me
Bob and Me at Base Camp one of the only times we sat this summer

Tentative Camp Dates for Next Summer

Does anyone know what sacrilegious item Zac holds in his hand?
Tentative Dates for next summer's camps. Please be aware that these are TENTATIVE. We want this Schedule to work but we are dependent on some key first-come-first-serve permits that we cannot acquire until January 1st. Look for date confirmations on January 2nd, but use these current dates for some planning.

We had such a great camping season in 2013 and we can't wait until 2014!

Camp information will be updated shortly but you can click here and bookmark the site for easy access.
Proposed Camps and dates: 
Canadian Canoe:   June 11-21 
Aviation Camp:   June 15-20 
Trinity White Water Canoe:   June 22-28 
Bay Cruise Sailing Camp:  June 24-28 
Junior Counselor Precamp Training: 
July 2-5 
NorCal Boys Adventure Camp: 
July 6-12 
Father/Son  camp: 
July 6-9 
Father/Daughter Camp: 
July 9-12 
Base Camp (Intro to Trip Camping):   July 13-18 
SoCal Boys Adventure Camp: July 21-26 
Father Daughter Canoe:   July 27-30 
Scuba Camp (Basic Open Water):   July 28-aug 1 
Surf Camp: 
July 31-6 

Good Reads - Book Recommendation

"I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris
Let's stop doing relationships like the world. It's time to be the peculiar people that God has called us to be.
"Camp is not a time to develop dating relationships." The echo of this phrase still rings in my ears. It is a constant refrain during our pre-camp training of our Junior Counselor guys and it is the cold water thrown on them when we see their hormones causing a convenient adolescent dementia throughout the summer. Honestly there's not a whole lot of interaction with girls during the summer, but that just makes the girls we do encounter all the more interesting when they make their brief appearance on the camp stage.

In all candidness, this phrase should be applied gratuitously to every context in which our young men and women find themselves during the teen years. Premature dating relationships are one of the biggest distractions and sources of problems with which I see the young men I disciple tangling. Dating prior to their readiness to physically, spiritually, and emotionally provide for a woman is unhelpful to their fight for purity and is totally unfair to the young ladies whose hearts

are often the biggest losers when the inevitable break-up takes place.

It's unfortunate that Joshua Harris' book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" is so controversial in Christian circles. In this book he takes a noble crack at dismantling the contemporary approach to relationships that Christians have adopted from the world and offers an alternative vision. Should this vision be adopted wholesale without discernment of particular situations? ... of course not. But I dare say that his vision is far closer to the Biblical vision of relationships than what 99% of Christians are embracing today. Pick the book up, read it with open ears, ask yourself the hard questions, and where it finds it's footing in Biblical principles be prepared to reject the burdensome baggage that the world has so cunningly convinced us we should bear along with them.  
Josh Harris on
Josh Harris on "I Kissed Dating Goodbye"

Let's stop doing relationship like the world. It's time to be the peculiar people that God has called us to be.

Gospel on Scratch Paper

A simple Gospel presentation. I had this paper in my pocket from our Three Peak Trip. I'd used the side you can't see to scribble down Ephesians 2 to help me memorize it. The paper subsequently went canoeing with me and got a bit wet, but was still in my Bible. When a boy at camp a few weeks later wanted to commit his life to serve Jesus I used the backside to present the gospel. I just ran across it last night. It brings a smile to my face!
Take a look at some Pics from the Three Peak trip

Monday, August 26, 2013

Leadership Advance 2014 (Junior Leadership Conference)

Join me at The Leadership Advance (Junior Leadership Conference) January 2-4, 2014 and learn practical leadership skills
Practical and Fun Leadership Training for guys ages 12-18, January 2-4, 2014
from amazing speakers while having loads of fun with our teen guys!

We challenge our young men to be Christian Leaders but often leave them wondering exactly how to do so. This conference provides practical strategies to help equip young men for their important call to Christian leadership.

In an action packed setting this three day event helps equip young men to pursue Christ-like leadership. Team building, games, small group Bible studies, leadership seminars, service opportunities and a challenging and a practical keynote speaker are topped off by seriously amazing food.

No one attending this conference will leave without being better equipped to lead, inspired to serve, and very well fed! 

It is NOT necessary that the young men attending be involved in a CSB program. The event is open to any young man between the ages of 12 and 18. If you are younger than 12 you must be recommended by a Brigade senior leader, pastor, or you can contact me to discuss.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Was Sure I'd Made An Enemy

Summer Camp Can Be A Strange Place
Proof: boys want to be challenged to be men of God

I learned quickly that “intense” was not a big enough word to properly describe Carson. Nope, I discovered Carson’s intensity early and uncomfortably during the second game we played at our Southern California boys camp. Apparently the only tools you need to squeeze the character of a boy are a few well aimed balls and the promise of dodgeball glory that rests like a crown upon the head of the last boy standing.

Carson is one of those 12 year old guys that is so naturally athletic that it’s nauseating. His blond frame is not big, but he’s all muscle, and every one of those muscles seems to know exactly what it should be doing and where it should be at just the right time. Throwing ... check. Catching ... Check. Contorting one’s body like a character in the “Matrix” who has fallen right from the pages of fiction and into our dodgeball court ... Check.

The problem with Carson was not his ability to control his body ... it was his unwillingness to control his temper.

Intensity is Good. Unbridled anger erupting from his mouth and scorching the other members of civil society around him was unacceptable. I also know that if left to take root this kind of anger produces husbands and fathers who disciple their families straight into a living hell by filling their homes and the hearts of those trapped within its walls with hopeless fear. The bruised souls and faces of women and children are just the fruit of the violence practiced when men were boys playing games. Games are training for life. Games reveal and they teach. And I was not about to allow this weed to begin growing in my presence without at least some attempt to weed it out while it was still small ... ish.

I called him out and warned him that he needed to immediately bring his anger under control or he’d end the game as a spectator rather than a victor. Either he didn’t believe me, or he forgot, or he just couldn’t help himself, but I only had time to take a few breaths and he’d already exploded in anger all over the court again.

His look of shock and hot indignation was almost laughable when it finally registered that I was serious that he’d be sitting the rest of that game. He threw the balls he held in his hands down in undisguised disgust. As he walked over to me I think it was only my relative size advantage that spared me from an untimely death. He was the kind of angry that can only be given birth by surging testosterone stoked into fury by a misplaced sense that a grievous injustice was being perpetrated upon his 12 year old person.

My heart sank. I knew he’d be upset but it was clear that more was at stake. I had just made an enemy. Any possibility of building a relationship with him was gone. His heart was now closed to my voice. I didn’t show it but I was really sad. I stood on the hillside. He sat at my feet about 6 feet away, breathing deeply, seething, and avoiding any eye contact. At that point I stopped paying attention to the game and I began to pray.

Beauty In A Groaning World

How could I reconcile such beauty with the reality of sin and a groaning world?
As sin barrels through the corridor of time brokeness and pain are the debris left behind it. There is no part of creation that can manage to escape the wake of sin ... not least the human heart. And as Paul so vividly describes the extent of our sin even the creation groans under the intolerable burden of decay that sin has placed it under. (Romans 8:22)

It was on the second day of the P314 (our backpacking trip that takes place in which we summit three 14K+ foot mountains) that we encountered our first major obstacle, New Army Pass. After this grueling pass we'd finish the day with our first peek climb up to the pinnacle of Mt. Langley. We woke up to a beautiful scene as the morning dawned on Long Lake at 1,140 feet in elevation and began our 3000 foot haul up the mountain.

Here's Some amazing professional quality pictures taken by Josh Tallman.
We crested new army pass and stopped for a well earned break. As I gazed back at the ever expanding vista that was opening up before us I saw the beauty that I was expecting but i noticed something else that caught my attention as well. That section of the Sierra Nevada Mountains has taken less care than its northern counterpart in masking the decay that characterizes its landscape. The mountains in that section, especially above the treeline, are unashamedly falling apart. The mountainsides are strewn with falling rock and dirt. If the granite had not been so hard beneath our feet over the preceeding few hours I could have deceived myself into thinking that I could sweep the stone I was looking at accross the valley away with my bare hand. It looked so fragile. The limbless enemy of time was indeed doing the very thing that I couldn't do with my bare hands.

I wonder what Paul would have said if he could have seen the picture I was now looking at. Like the former beauty queen reflecting on her previous glory now seperated from her by decades and a sagging waistline I could almost hear the mountains regretting the lost years. They seemed tired, weak and distressed. Sin has been having its way and the mountains are losing.

And yet it was beautiful, breathtaking, and majestic! Only a fool could look at the landscape and not stop short wondering how words could adequately describe it all.

How could I reconcile such beauty with the reality of sin and a groaning world?

What He Put in His Locker

"He has your letter posted in his locker as a reminder."
Over the years I have come to enjoy writing letters. It helps me to organize my thoughts and provides the recipient with something to look back on years later if they want to do so. Plus it is still fun to receive letters in the mail even in this tech saturated culture of ours. I was particularly impressed with one of the first year Junior Counselors this past summer and wanted to encourage him with the things I'd seen God doing in him. I forwarded a copy of the letter to his parents because I thought they'd be encouraged by what I'd seen in their son. Below is the email response I got from her and it made me smile:

"I was very blessed by your letter to my son. You literally  made me cry at work on the first day of school! I can’t thank you enough for the time you have spent getting to know him and encouraging him. He really enjoyed his time at the different camps this summer.
He has your letter posted in his locker as a reminder. I know it means a lot to him."

I love my job

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What About The "Good Kids"? Part I by Jason Wisdom

A young man recommended this to me. I figured I should pay attention ...

This piece is from the "Jason Wisdom's Blog." Though maybe I should have, I'd never heard about him before this. I haven't made a thorough investigation of his blog so don't assume this is a universal endorsement, but he asks a good question and identifies an at risk part of the church. I look forward to seeing some of his answers to the problem in Part 2.

What About The "Good Kids"?

By Jason Wisdom

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"All of the talk about "Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church" over the past couple of weeks has interesting to say the least. I think there were valuable insights to be gleaned from both sides of the debate that ensued. Even so, there has been more than enough written about Rachel Held Evans' now famous/infamous CNN article. For that reason, I will spare you my commentary. However, the discussion has prompted me to think about one particular group of young people that are prone to "leaving". This group rarely gets any attention from the groups who specialize in "reaching young people with the Gospel". This group does not t really stir up much theological controversy. But before I describe this group to you, let me say that I do not mean to suggest that reaching any one group is more vital than another. It is easy for us to think that because we have a passion for a particular group that everyone else should drop what they are doing and join us. That is not what I am saying. My goal is to hopefully inform some people about a group that they may not have considered. Furthermore, I hope to stir up people who share my passion for reaching this group. Alright; enough preface.

The group to which I am referring could be called the "good kids". These are people who grew up in children's church, Sunday school, VBS, church camp, Disciplenow, SuperWow, youth group, Bible study, small group, mission trips, street evangelism etc. They were in church every time the doors were open and extremely involved. They only listened to Christian music and read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. They had Christian t-shirts, bracelets, hats, bumper stickers, mugs, posters, etc. Some of them went to a Christian high school and most of them went to a Christian college (if they didn't become youth pastors or worship leaders straight out of HS). The "rebellious" ones got Hebrew character and Ichthus tattoos when they turned 18. You get the picture. These are the "good kids".

But when they became adults and the real world became their world, a lot of them just got bored with

Monday, August 12, 2013

Father and Son Team Day 2013

Download the Registration Form

Dads and sons, don’t miss this opportunity to spend the day enjoying time together as you have fun competing with other dad/son teams and making unforgettable memories!

Time and Location:
The competition takes place at the Kiwanis Youth Camp in La Grange, CA (East of Modesto) starting at 8:30 AM Saturday, October 5th and ending around 5 PM.

View the google map.

Here's a Picture of the gate you will go through once you arrive
Take Hwy 99 to Modesto. Exit at Hwy 132 East. Follow Hwy 132 through Modesto approximately 15 miles to Waterford.
Continue through Waterford on Hwy 132 and drive an additional 17 miles toward La Grange.
Immediately after crossing the Tuolumne River bridge, turn right on Lake Road, and then turn left through the gate into the Kiwanis Youth Camp.

Free Camping the Night Before:
There is a free opportunity to camp out at the competition site the night before for any dads and sons who would like to do so. There is no additional cost for this and it is an additional opportunity to spend time together. The gate opens at 5pm on Friday.


$35 per man and $15 per boy. If you send in your payment and registration postmarked before Friday September 27th we will give you $5 off your total registration fee.

Trebuchet Day at the Big Valley Grace Church Battalion in Modesto

The guys at the Big Valley Grace Church Battalion in Modesto decided that they wanted to go medieval ... so they made a Trebuchet ... wait ... they made three! I've posted a video and a link to some pictures.

I must say it was pretty cool!
Take a look at all the pictures and videos of this event!

John Pulling the Pin. You can see the arm releasing, and the last moments of the  unfortunate fruit in the sling ...