This is your typical four square on steroids.
3 on 3 Basketball Tournament
Campers brought their game to the basketball courts today.
Once the rain subsided, these campers went straight to the GaGa Pit for some fun competition.
Counselors and staff pray together with campers after this morning’s powerful worship.
The band kicked things off with a few songs that energized the campers. Micah, the band leader, commented that this group of campers were the most responsive out of all the other weeks of That Thing.
Next our Program Manager and Keynote Speaker for the day, Nate Haywood, took the stage. Nate began by introducing himself to the campers and talked for a little bit about his wonderful family. He then spoke about his dog that recently passed away. The dog broke its back and lost control of most of its balance and bladder control. After much discussion, Nate and his wife decided that it would be best if they put the dog to sleep. It was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
The morning of the last day with their dog, Nate cooked up a nice big steak for her to eat. He cut it up for her and fed her bite by bite a nice medium rare slice of beef. He got to the vet’s office and they let them into the room where they were to put his dog down. Nate held his dog and started talking to her for the last time. She has been a part of Nate’s family longer than his kids have even been alive so she is definitely considered a part of their household. Then they injected the drugs and Nate’s dog slowly fell asleep. At this point Nate admits that he was in a mess of tears and as he turned to leave, he didn’t realize the door was open the entire time, and there were about six people in the waiting room all hugging their dogs tightly saying, “you’ll go to heaven too.” Definitely put a smile on Nate’s face.
Then, Nate shared another story from earlier on in his life when he received his first car from his dad. He got a nice souped up car and one night he was over at his girlfriends too long and had to rush home to make it back for his curfew. He thought he was invincible at that time so he was going 70 mph in a zone with a limit of 25. On the last turn of a very curvy stretch of road, his car tail slammed into the ditch line then barrel rolled seven times before landing 300 yards away. While he was flipping he gripped the wheel and cried out, “JESUS HELP ME!” Nate walked away from the wreckage without a single scratch. The storm could have been worse but it wasn’t.
Nate brings up the story of Jesus in Matthew 14.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,”he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Campers meet with their growth groups this morning for some amazing discussions.
The band kicked off worship with an amazing set of songs.
- Happy Day - Tim Hughes
- Like A Lion - David Crowder
- We Are The Free - Matt Redman
- Give Me Faith - Elevation Worship
Campers gave all their praise up to our Lord and Savior during worship.
Ben took the stage and started his discussion. He told the campers that if our goal is to be like Christ, then we must always seek the kingdom first and give to the kingdom first. Jesus never questioned what God told him to do and always went where God called him. In the hardest of times, Jesus listened to God and followed him. When Jesus’s closest friends turned on him and abandoned him, he still sought the kingdom first. Ben asked, “Why is it so hard for us to seek first the kingdom?” If we want to grow we must die to ourselves. The Lord speaks to all of us, and for some his words are instantly snuffed out. But for others, we hear him and even though we try to follow his word, our roots are too shallow and the temptations and distractions overcome us and we give in and give up. So we tend to get in that cycle.
Ben then introduced a man from the bible named Joseph. Joseph was put in charge of all his brothers, which was unique because he was the youngest. This angered his brothers and they began to hate Joseph. Joseph had big dreams and a grand vision for what his life will be, but the dream God gave him slowly faded away and his brothers plotedt against him. They threw Joseph into a giant pit and contemplated killing him. Joseph said to himself in the pit, “God where are you?” And in the Bible it says, “God was with Joseph.” His brothers decided against killing him and sold him into slavery instead. God still remained with Joseph.
Ben explained that our calling is always determined by our circumstance. Most times we are not even willing to suffer the smallest consequences and always choose the easiest path for ourselves. God calls each and every one of us but we must follow Him even when times are rough. Times were hard for Joseph, but he continued to give to the kingdom first. Then Joseph found favor with his master Potiphar and he puts Joseph in charge of everything. Joseph’s circumstances were awful and God had him exactly where He wanted him. Sometimes it’s easy to think, “This cannot be where God wants me because it’s difficult or hard” and then take the easier path rather than continue out God’s plan. Joseph was presented with an easy way out when Potiphar’s wife asked him to bed. Day after day Joseph refused, and it could have been so easy for him to take the easy way out, but he didn’t. All of us are sinners, it’s natural to give in to temptation and take the shortcut, but when we do we are not seeking first the kingdom.
We try hard to put the kingdom first in our lives but we tend to get in the cycle of trying hard, getting tired, quitting, then trying hard again, getting tired, and quitting. This circle then represents our faith. Ben inspires the campers to be so rooted in God that He is going to be the one that saves you from your sins. Are you running from the Father or back to Him? Ben explains that God isn’t bipolar, if he calls you to do something then that is what he wants you to do. He doesn’t change his mind when things get tough for you. You are shaped on what you are able to do when you are faced with a challenge. You may feel down but get back up. God has a plan, will you stick it out? If you don’t shortcut, you will be amazed with what God can do through you.
Ben said a short prayer for the campers and then invited them to come forward to the front of the auditorium where there were sheets of paper. He asked the campers to grab a marker and write out their dreams on the paper. What is the camper feeling called to do with their life? Ben gave examples that they could be called to be a pastor or a missionary or even a doctor. As they came forward, the band finished out the night with some beautiful worship songs.
A camper takes part in this evening’s reflection, writing her dreams to God.
Campers had a blast on tonight’s last ride on the giant doughnut tube.
Campers head to the beach with their friends to stay cool on this hot day.
Campers play in a friendly game of dodgeball.
The band started off the worship session by introducing a new game to the campers. It is almost identical to *Rock. Paper. Scissors. *but their version was called *Gorilla. Man. Net. *The campers really had fun with it.
Then today’s keynote speaker took the stage. His name is Scott Greene and he had a powerful message for the campers today. Scott started by talking a little bit about his family. He enjoys reading stories from the bible to his kids because they always make the bible stories their own. He then began to share a bible story with the campers.
In 1Kings 17 there is a story about a man named Elijah. Elijah was one of God’s prophets and he lived in a land ruled by a horrible king named Ahab.
Then the word of the Lordcame to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
The session tonight started with playing the audio of Paul Harvey speaking about how God Made A Farmer.
Next the worship band took the stage and rocked out to some awesome songs.
- We Are The Free - Matt Redman
- Your Name High - Hillsong
- Like A Lion - David Crowder
- Hosanna - Hillsong
This summer’s program manager, Nate Haywood, then took the stage and introduced the idea of Christ growing in us. He then physically planted a seed in a pot on stage and described the process a seed goes through to actually grow and produce fruit. The seed goes through a process called germination where it actually dies in order to then grow and become a full grown plant.
Then a summer staff member named Travis read a letter he wrote to Jesus.
Jesus, I give you sole authority in my life. You alone have full control over me. I submit to you and recognize that without you, I am nothing, and only you can make me whole. I refuse to run any longer from you and the salvation you offer, because I have heard your word of truth, and it is good. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and mark me with a seal. For I was once a dead garden, but you have brought me new life.
Ben took the stage and began his discussion “You Can Be A Disciple”.
He started by talking about how sometimes we can find ourselves breezing through life and missing moments that God presents us. Ben told everyone how he moved from the suburb to the inner city in Louisville to start his new church. There was this man in his neighborhood who he said hello to everyday but the man never responded more than a head nod. Then Ben got to talking to him one day and found out a little more about his life and some of the unholy things happening in his life. But this didn’t stop Ben from volunteering to help him out with some projects around the house that he needed to get done. Then Ben didn’t see him for a while until one day when he came running up to him. The man explained to Ben how his sister recently died and then he broke out in tears as he expressed to Ben,”My life’s a mess.”
Then Ben started to see him in the back of church, arriving late and leaving early so Ben was never able to catch him to talk. Then one day after church he approached Ben and told him he decided he wanted to take Jesus into his life. So Ben took him to a fountain on the Louisville campus and baptized him there. A few months later, the judge in Louisville gave Ben a phone call and thanked him for what he has done with this young man. He said, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.” God takes the little moments, and he makes them into something holy.
He then read from John 12
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
He explains that if we want to grow, first we must die to ourselves. Ben sees God in people who are giving and sacrificing for others. He then spoke some hard truth and told the campers that they are from a selfish generation. Many people live their lives for themselves and not God, and it’s rare to see someone willing to die for Christ. Ben said he would be happy that after his life is over, he can successfully say that he made disciples. The seeds he is planting will eventually grow and spark interest in others to plant the seed of Jesus throughout the world. A hundred years from now our great great grandchildren won’t even remember our names, but there is one name that they will still be talking about and praising and living their lives for. In dying to ourselves we decide to live for something greater. We can define a disciple by asking, “What would my life look like if Jesus lived it?” Our lives should tell the story of God.
Ben then presented the campers with the opportunity to take Jesus into their lives. They could come forward and grab a piece of paper and pencil and write on the paper, “Jesus I have been…” and then finish the rest. Then write, “But I want to be…” Then they would fold the paper and shut it with a stamped seal. This was a wonderful opportunity for the campers to show that they are willing to give Him everything and show that they want to give their lives to Jesus.
The campers show that they are willing to give Him everything and show that they want to give their lives to Jesus.
Campers decorated other campers with mud during the “Swamp Thing” competition.
The band kicked things off with a song called *Brother Sister Friend. * The campers were taught motions that go with the song and they all enjoyed participating while the band played faster and faster. The campers struggled to keep their motions up with the pace of the song as laughter filled the auditorium.
Then the band jumped into a powerful set.
After that, Ben took the stage and began his discussion “If I’m Afraid, I’m Not Alive”.
He described to the campers how he is a bit of a hotel dweller. He said the Lord made air conditioning and posturepedic beds for a reason. Ben never understood people who like to hunt and fish and why they get up at the crack of dawn. As a kid, Ben asked his Grandfather why he gets up so early to hunt and his grandfather replied,”If you hunt during the day, the animals are sleeping.” Ben’s response was, “Wouldn’t that make things easier?” If the animal is laying down for a nap, shouldn’t that make shooting them easier? He then began discussing fears we have of nature. People are afraid of spiders, snakes, and things like that. Ben talked about how when you think about it, those are silly fears but he also has some real fears, especially when it comes to his children. He is always scared his kids might get hurt, especially around large bodies of water. His daughter Claire loves to swim, but the only problem is she doesn’t know how to yet. So whenever she is around water she loves jumping in. Ben told everyone he has jumped in fully clothed many times and has ruined plenty of cell phones.
He also shared some of the fears he has with his church that he is the Pastor for on the University of Louisville campus. His church is made up of 75% college kids. He worries about their safety, he worries about having enough funds to keep the church up. Ben took a survey when he got to Louisville and asked the students, “What’s the biggest reason you don’t live out your faith?” Out of everyone surveyed, 90% of them said they were afraid. Ben brought up the garden he spoke about yesterday and he explained that before that garden could grow, he had to teach them to not fear.
Ben then read from Mark 5
It’s the story of Jairus and his sick daughter. Jairus took his daughter to many doctors and they all said there was nothing they could do to save her. He didn’t know what else to do, so he went to Jesus for help. This was a great risk for Jairus because he was a synagogue leader and at that time most religious leaders were against Jesus. Ben then described how Jesus is always looking for a humble heart. He turns away from the proud and gives grace to the humble. The father falls to Jesus’s feet and asks him to come save his daughter who is on her death bed.
He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!”(which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).
Ben connected this story from the bible to a story from his life. He was leading a revival down in Panama City Beach during spring break and there was a great crowd of young people praising the Lord and giving all they had up to him. Then when Ben walked outside, he saw a parade of cars full of people being unholy and drunk and not living for God. This reminded Ben of a funeral procession because it was car after car after car, slowly driving down the road participating in all the nonsense associated with spring break. Many people would look at this and say that this generation was dead, but Ben looked back at the celebration inside and he thought to himself, “This generation isn’t dead, they’re just asleep.” We shouldn’t be afraid to live out our faith because others will follow. The presence of God drives out fear. God is saying to us all, “My child, get up.”
Ben shared another story about his daughter Claire. It was a Saturday night and Ben was preparing for his sermon for the next day. Claire wasn’t sleeping well and she was building tents in her room and singing songs. She continued to do this well into the night and finally Ben walked into her room and said, “Claire, why are you still up? You have to go to sleep.” She responded, “Daddy, I’m just a little scared, and when I’m scared I just need you.” Sometimes we are just like Claire, we just need to go to our Father. Ben reiterated, the presence of our Father drives out fear.
Mirrors were placed all around the auditorium, and Ben urged the campers to get up and go to one of those mirrors. Grab a marker and write on the mirror what they fear the most. Not silly fears like spiders and snakes, but what is it that stops you from being the person God wants you to be?
First Full Day
First Worship Experience
Tonight’s worship session began with an amazing video that got all of the campers excited for the start of That Thing and the theme “Come Alive”.
The band rocked the stage and had all of the campers out of their seats.
Ben, this week’s keynote speaker, took the stage once the worship band’s electric set was over. He introduced himself to everyone and talked a bit about his family back home in Louisville. Ben was excited to tell all of the campers about his three beautiful children Cole, Caden, and Claire. After sharing some humorous anecdotes of his two sons, he explained how his daughter Claire became a part of his family. Two years ago they adopted Claire from Ethiopia. She was in an orphanage since she was two weeks old and had no men in her life until Ben and his wife adopted her two years later. So in the beginning it was hard because Claire would cry whenever Ben’s wife would leave the room because Claire was terrified of Ben. Ben described how passionate he was to just make her happy around her, he was ready to host a tea party with her or get Care Bears, whatever it took. Bedtime became Ben and Claire’s time, he would read her a story and talk with her. Every night he would tell her he had a secret, would lean in to her ear, leave a pause, Claire would giggle, then he would whisper, “I love you so much Claire.” And Claire would do the same, tell Ben she had a secret too, lean in to his ear, leave a pause, Claire would giggle again, then she would whisper, “I love mommy.” And this went on night after night for six months. Then one night Ben told her, “I love you so much Claire and I’m going to always keep pouring it into you until you believe it.” And Claire responded, “I love you too daddy.” Ben was so excited in that moment! He explained to the campers that this is how God is towards us. He continues to pour his love upon us, and will as long as it takes until we believe it.
He then read from the bible Isaiah 5
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
He expressed to the campers how privileged we all are to be here, having the freedom to gather and praise Jesus without the threat of persecution. Some people in this world do not have that luxury but as we look around in our world today, there are so many great opportunities, but nobody is producing “fruit”. Ben then revealed a statistic that 70% of people walk away from faith between the ages of 18 and 25. Some days Ben walks around the campus in Louisville and just sees a dead garden. There is a student religious center on campus that has a garden on top. Back in the begininning it was a beautiful garden, but over the years it has gone to waste and is now nothing but beds of weeds and infertile soil. Ben explained how he will go up to the top of the student religious center and pray to God to help revive this garden and the campus as a whole. God has the power to bring the dead to life.
Next, Ben shared a story of a young man who got arrested when he held up a convenience store. He served three years in prison, and he explained to Ben that on his first day of prison, he was so scared of what to expect. He walked into his cell and the first thing his cell mate did was say, “I’m going to teach you about the Lord our Father, and I don’t care if you like it or not.” That young man chose the Lord as his Savior, and once he was out of prison he lived his life for God. He helped bring people from his new church into the halfway house each week to cook or discuss the bible. That young man met a girl at church and they are going to get married. He confessed,”Some of you think everything around us is dead, but God can bring it back to life, because I was dead, and I am alive again.”
Ben, speaking about God, tells the campers that apart from Him we can do nothing. When it comes to our relationship with God, we will get what we put in. We can choose to be comfortable and go through the motions but that won’t result in change. This week he wants to see a bunch of students come alive in Christ. He encourages them to ask the question *Is my life making a difference to anybody? *Ben confesses that many of us are much like that garden, we feel dead. Simply tell God,”Lord I don’t know what you have for me but I’m open and willing to engage and come alive.” When the campers start being bold and living with passion, it will be irresistible. When we live out the gospel, it’s irresistible. When you see Jesus’s love lived out, you just want to join.
Lastly, Ben invited all of the adult leaders to the front of the stage and told the campers that if they want to humble themselves before the Lord, they are free to come up and approach an adult leader who will pray with them. And as the band played some slow music, camper after camper after camper got up and went to the front of the auditorium and prayed with one another. A truly powerful moment to start off our beautiful week here at That Thing.
Time to Unpack
Campers are excited to get into their new homes for the next week!
First Day of Camp
It is almost time for camp to begin! Check back soon for all of the exciting adventures!