Epworth Forest CC - That Thing - June 14-19 (2015)

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See you next summer!

###Until Next Time... We were honored to work with your campers this week. It was incredible to see God move in the lives of everyone on site. Thank you for checking in. Be sure to check our [gallery](http://impact2818.smugmug.com/Epworth-Forest/Epworth-2015-June-1419/n-Spb3ks/) as more photos are uploaded. Also, stay tuned on the blog to view our end of the week video which will be posted soon! Also, check out our FREE [First Thing](http://impact2818.org/sites/epworth/camps/fall-events/first-thing/index.html) fall event happening on September 13! Be sure to sign up. The event information on the website will be updated. The event is completely cost free. We hope you have an amazing rest of your summer. Remember that you have the power to make this world **better** through being the hands and feet of Jesus.

One Last Greeting

Assistant Program Manager Sara Rodriguez gives our last daily getting of the week.


You Represent Christ

We had our last evening worship tonight. We had an incredible week with your campers and it was amazing to see God work through each and everyone one of them. The Matt McCoy Band began in worship:


Matt then began his message. He discussed how we often look for God through those that claim to be His follower. One might see your life and think that is what Christ may be like. Matt shared Exodus 7:1

Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.'

God is telling Moses that when Pharaoh looks at Moses, Pharaoh sees the Lord. God is looking for a body. He is looking for a mediator, someone to span the gap. He understands that, as humans, we need to see something. Therefore, He uses us to represent Himself. Matt shared 1 Timothy 2:5:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

Jesus is the ultimate mediator, but He left the earth. How then does God look to accomplish His work? 1 Corinthians 12:27 states,

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

You are His flesh and blood on earth. We represent Christ. We accomplish His work in this world. Christ's only body on earth is yours! You are now the mediator, the go-between. So what is Jesus up to then? He is at camp this week. He's rescuing children from brothels. He's the speaker at That Thing. He's a teen changing the world. Christ in the body on earth is ours. How you live matters! You are the body of Christ.

Program Director Stacy Hartman then took the stage to speak to our campers for our last evening together. She explained that God has called us to care for the poor, the sick, the abandoned, and so on. If we don't do anything, who will? Nothing will get better. She asked the campers,

What is He calling you to do when you leave this place?

She then presented the rock alter. Students wrote the word "Unless" on one side of a rock. On the other side, students wrote a word or phrase that represents what they believe their next step of faith should be or the dream that they believe God has for them. Stacy explained to the campers that God will continue to reveal those next steps. These rocks symbolize what God has done here at camp this week. Stacy finished with a powerful statement,

Without you, nothing will be better.

The Matt McCoy Band finished us in song:

Want to see more photos? View our gallery.

Airband Competition

Campers had a blast at tonight's airband competition! Epworth staffers and UPROCK even joined the stage! Enjoy this video of UPROCK members kickin' it back to the Backstreet Boys!

She Shoots, She Scores!

Campers paired up as they battled in a game of world cup this afternoon!
Click HERE to view more photos.


Campers had a fun time participating in archery during free block time this afternoon.

Check out more photos HERE.

Will You Join?

Towards the end of this morning's worship session, thirteen-year-old Hannah May Foust took the stage. Our Program Manager Stacy Hartman interviewed Hannah on stage.
Hannah is very passionate about a country named Burkina Faso, Africa. She learned that Burkina Faso is rated as the third most miserable place on earth due to scarcity of water, illness, and poverty. Hannah felt that God was calling her to build a well in this country. Since this realization, Hannah has been raising funds to build wells and is striving to inspire others to do the same. Hannah stated,

When you hear God calling you to do something, listen to Him.

Hannah is striving to make this world better by being the hands and feet of Jesus. Are you willing to join? Learn more about Hannah and see how you can help.

Go Tell the World

Morning session began this morning with the Matt McCoy Band:

Our keynote speaker Matt Laidlaw then led us in a message about being a witness of Christ. Matt shared Acts 1:1-5 where Luke is writing:

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was crucified and rose to life! After He rose, He spent time with His disciples. The disciples were witnesses of Jesus' resurrection. The story goes one with Acts 1:6-9...

Then they gathered around him and asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

The disciples wanted to know when the Kingdom of God would be restored. Jesus tells them to not worry about when, He tells them to be His witnesses, and then Jesus ascends into heaven. Isaiah 43:11-12 states,

I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, that I am God.

The disciples were Jesus' witnesses. They were instructed to go to the ends of the earth to spread Jesus' story. The disciples told someone...and that person told someone...and eventually someone told you. You are Christ's witness. Go tell the world. The world is filled with fear, anxiety, despair, anger, lies, and so on. The world needs to know. Somebody needs you to tell them the Good News.

The Matt McCoy Band finished in song:


Prayer is Powerful

At various times throughout this week and also at learning lab this morning, campers have had the opportunity to participate in prayer stations:

  • Injustice Wall - This station's purpose is to open our eyes to the injustice and persecution happening in our world. The station has scripture to mediate on while praying. Students then mark a place on the map that they prayed for with a sticky hand.

  • Buttons - This station's purpose is to spend time in prayer for those in our life that have walked away from the Lord or have never known Him. After praying, a button is glued to the cross.

  • The Names of God - This station's purpose is to reflect on the various attributes of God.

  • Meditation Stones - This station's purpose is to spend time in the Word of God meditating on His truth and His promises.

  • 10,000 Blessings Wall - This station's purpose is to reflect on and share the many blessings in your own life and to pray a blessing for someone else's life.

  • Hammer Away the Lies - The purpose of this prayer station is to reflect on the lies of your heart and mind that you may be listening to and then replacing those lies with God's never-failing truth.

  • Prayer Board - The purpose of this prayer station is to place your prayers in the hands of the Lord as well as the camp community so that we can lift up each other's prayer requests.

Remember James 5:16,

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Our Last Full Day


Need a little Christmas?

Watch as UPROCK began tonight's session with a humorous Christmas dance.

Anger Transformed

Tonight's evening session was full of humor, passion and energy. UPROCK began the session dressed in Christmas gear and doing a hilarious, fun dance. The Matt McCoy Band then led us in some Christmas songs:

Matt Laidlaw then gave a powerful and passionate message. It was clear to see that God was speaking through him. Matt shared Mark 11:15-17 and also John 2:13-16. Both are the same story but different versions in two different gospels. John's version states,

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!'

Jesus is angry here. He is flipping over tables...disrupting a religious service...He made a whip! Jesus is angry because the tables are taking up space that was made for people to gather in. It was a space that the broken and abandoned were welcome in. He was also angry because these people selling items in the temple were once lost people. These people that were once lost were now causing other people to be lost. Jesus was angry because He saw injustice. This anger led to liberation and justice.
Matt stated that this can remind us of Christmas. What was once full of peace has turned to chaos. Just like the temple turned into a market.

Jesus' anger created space for people. His anger was used to create a space for people to belong. His anger is used for good. It is used for justice and liberation. Matt has a friend named Andy who works in Grand Rapids, MI. Andy had a lot of anger because he was upset about the homeless youth in the community. He started to raise money and he has now created a center in Grand Rapids for homeless youth to come to do laundry, have a meal, find a job, and so forth. Andy's anger created space for people. His anger helped to save lives. This is the right type of anger. Anger can be used for good. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes you angry?
  • Is your anger for yourself or others?
  • What are the results of your anger?
  • Does your anger lead to justice or injustice?
  • Can you use it to liberate others?

Matt stated that he likes the angry Jesus. Through Jesus' anger, He shows us what really matters. He shows us that He fights for us. He shows us how to fight for others. Ask God to transform your anger today. Ask God to transform your anger in order that you can make the world a better place.

The Matt McCoy Band finished the session in song:

View more photos in our gallery

Epworths Got Talent!

Cabin challenge this afternoon was Epworth's talent show tradition! The criteria was to have the most unique talent possible. Although they did not get first place, enjoy these amazing Duecker girls and the song they wrote titled "Jesus." The crowd was very impressed with their performance!

###The Battle is On Campers enjoyed some action on the paintball course this afternoon. ![alt](/content/images/2015/06/_MG_4601.jpg) ![alt](/content/images/2015/06/_MG_4605-2.jpg) ![alt](/content/images/2015/06/_MG_4667.jpg) View more photos [here!](http://impact2818.smugmug.com/Epworth-Forest/Epworth-2015-June-1419/n-Spb3ks/) ###Loving Your Enemies Matt Laidlaw shared with us an inspiring message at morning session. He gave us an in depth look at The Parable of the Good Samaritan. [Luke 10:25-37](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37&version=NIV) states,

*On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?' He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him. 'Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'

The priest was an expert in the law. He was considered to be a very religious person, a pastor, a teacher. Yet, he walked right past and left the man lying half-dead on the road. The Levite was also considered to a religious person, a temple assistant, a worship leader. Yet, he walked right past the man injured on the ground. The Samaritan was a hated enemy of the Jewish people, a half-breed, a pagan. Yet, the Samaritan had mercy on the man and helped him. Here is the key question,

Who is my neighbor?

The Samaritan is your neighbor. The hated one, the pagan. Your neighbor is the person that you hate, the person that you despise. If you want to love God, you must love those that you hate. Matt stated,

The real measurement of how much you love God is how much you love your enemies.

Think of someone that you despise. Someone that you cannot stand. Fill in the blank...

_____________ is my neighbor.

Matt challenged us to scandalously love our enemies just as God scandalously loves us. Say to yourself,

I love God so much that I am willing to love this person.

As you strive to love your enemies, remember the good Samaritan. When you see your enemies in pain, serve them. Help them. Love like Jesus loves.


Illusion vs. Reality

One of our learning labs this morning focused on social media. Assistant program manager, Sara Rodriguez, led a discussion about the reality of social media and the affect it has on our lives. The key verse of the discussion was Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Does social media cause us to think of things that are pure? True? Noble?
Social media causes illusions. Sometimes Crossfitters post pictures of themselves flexing before and after every workout. Pictures are posted of model-type beauties that cause us to feel discontent, jealous, and frustrated. Social media often gives us an unrealistic idea of what our lives should actually look like.

Social media sets standards that we think we need to meet. We need to have the latest trends, we need to post pictures of our food to show how healthy we are, we need to post pictures of our good deeds. This if false. We need to look to the Bible to find the true standards to live by.

  • Matthew 6:5 - This verse shows that we are not to be hypocrites. Do not try to look religious in front of others in order that they see you.
  • Galatians 5:22 - This verse shows us that we need to focus on the fruits of the Spirit such as love and self-control.
  • Micah 6:8 - This verses tells us to be humble.
  • Ephesians 4:23-32 - This passage tells us to be honest with our neighbors. It also tells us to stay away from bitterness and wrath and to be kind.
  • Proverbs 4:20-27 - This passage tells us to cling to the Word of God and to never let go. The more we are in the Word, the easier it is to resist temptation.

Are you posting things that make you look like a hypocrite? Are you posting things in order to make yourself look religious? Do your posts represent the fruits of the Spirit? Are you being humble? Are you being honest? Does looking at your friend's posts make you angry or bitter? Are you spending more time looking at social media than reading the Word of God?

Do not get caught in the trap of making our lives an illusion. Ask yourself Relevant Magazine's five questions to ask before posting on social media:

  • Am I seeking approval?
  • Am I boasting?
  • Am I discontent?
  • Is this a moment to protect?
  • Is it kind?

The world will recognize us by our love (John 13:35). How are you reflecting yourself through social media? Remember to live in reality. Remember to live by God's standards and not by the world's standards.

Here we go again!


Don't Wait One More Day

Our evening worship session began with the Matt McCoy Band:

UPROCK then performed an amazing piece about God's incredible healing. Two campers were able to join UPROCK in the performance and it was incredibly impactful. The group finished their piece by singing Jesus Paid It All:

O Praise the one
who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.


Matt Laidlaw then led us in the scriptures. He talked to us about what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He stated,

The only thing I really know about following Jesus is that we talk about it a lot.

Is that all we do? Do we just talk about Jesus rather than actually following Him? Just talking about Christ doesn't really do anything. The question is, what does it mean to actually and tangibly follow Christ? Matt shared Matthew 4:18-20:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.' At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matt shared that follow me means be like me. Jesus is telling these men to come and join Him in the things that He was doing. These men knew that Jesus was becoming famous. They wanted to be like Him. Matt explained what these men would be joining:

  • Teaching
  • Proclaiming
  • Healing
  • News spreading
  • Demon battling
  • Crowds gathering

These men knew that Jesus was big time and they believed that if they followed Him, they would become big time as well. Matt shared Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.''But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'
Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This was it. Peter's big moment. He know was going to be a big shot. He had the keys. But what happens next was probably a surprise to the disciples. Matthew 16:21-26 states,

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!' Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?'

The disciples did not ask for this! They wanted to be big time. They didn't join to lose their lives! Matt shared that as a follower of Christ you must...

Deny yourself

Take of your cross

Follow Me (Jesus)

Lose your life

If Christ is to die, we are to die. Matt shared an amazing quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.

Jesus wants you to die. If you truly want to follow Christ, you must die to yourself. The disciples were upset. They probably felt misled and betrayed. They realized what Jesus was saying when he sacrificed Himself on the cross for all of humanity. Most of the disciples died just as Jesus died, being killed for their faith. Now, many of use probably won't have to actually physically die because of our faith but it is possible. However, we can die in other ways. Ask yourself,

What part of me needs to die so that I can be more like Jesus?

Do you desire to follow Jesus so bad that you are willing to die? Are you willing to let your anger die? Are you willing to let your addition to pornography die? Are you willing to let your jealousy die? Your unforgiveness? Your desire of money? Your desire for security?

Let yourself die for Jesus. What piece of you needs to die today? Ask God for help and don't wait one more day. Do it now in order that you may be able to follow Christ with all of your strength.

After the message, we joined together and took communion. The Matt McCoy Band ended us in song:

North Star Takes the Win!

Cabin Challenge Take 2

Campers and leaders worked together as they prepared boats out of cardboard! Check out some of these masterpieces...
Which cabin will be victorious? Stay tuned!

Check out our gallery to view more photos.

Tubing Time

Campers had a blast tubing around Webster Lake. It was pretty intense!

Click HERE to view more photos.

Sky High!

Campers had a blast flying through the air at Sky High today. The swing drops from fifty feet above the ground!

View more photos HERE.

We Can Overcome

The Matt McCoy Band began our morning worship session in song:

UPROCK then took the stage and performed a song and dance about looking for freedom. Next, Matt led us in a message. He shared Acts 3:1-3:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.

This man was 40 years old. Imagine never being able to walk and also being a beggar. Matt shared the next part of the story, Acts 3:3-10:

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, 'Look at us!' So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.' Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Sometimes we say to ourselves "I am always going to be like this." Sometimes we think that we cannot change. This man was looking for money, not for a life change. He probably thought that he would never be able to walk, until this miracle happened! This man who was lame for 40 years was able to walk, jump, and praise God. The people recognized the man and were astonished. Jesus Christ was was sent to this earth, crucified, and raised from the dead. That same Spirit is what healed this lame man. You are able to have this same Spirit live inside you every day. Acts 3:19 states,

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

This is available to you. You can be healed just as the lame man was healed! God can refresh you and restore your soul if you repent and turn to His love. Your life can change. Have we lost this belief? How many of us have been begging for money when Christ can make us walk? He can do so much more! Matt shared a quote from C.S. Lewis' sermon The Weight of Glory:

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

God may find our desires weak. We are begging when He can offer us more than we can imagine. He can make us walk. He can make us run. Some of you may be settling for bitterness when when you could have joy. Some of you may be settling for loneliness when you could have friendship. There is something BETTER for you! Ask God to heal you. He can heal our bodies, souls, minds, and hearts. Through Him we can overcome.

A cardboard testimony video was then shown of the Epworth staffers. Campers watched as staffers showed how God has transformed their lives. Campers were then given the opportunity to write their stories on a piece of cardboard as well to share with others if they desired to do so. The Matt McCoy Band finished us in song:


Just Dance

Watch as campers are led in some dancing lessons by an UPROCK member during learning lab time!

How to Help the Hurting

One of our learning labs this morning was taught by Sarah Miller. She is the youth director at Elkhart Faith United Methodist Church. Sarah shared with us how to help those that are in pain and hurting. She gave practical ways to encourage those experiencing pain. She discussed that hurt is no stranger in the Bible. King David obviously experienced hurting through what he writes in his psalms. For example, Psalm 13. Elijah experiences so much pain that he actually asked God to end his life (1 Kings 19). One last example is Jobe, who experienced great suffering.

Sarah explained that God calls us to bless the poor and to fight for justice. She explained that we cannot fix anyone but that we can be used as God's vessel in His plan. God changes brokenness to wholeness and we can be a part of that. We cannot fix anyone, but we are responsible to love others. Sarah gave many do's and do not's when it comes to helping the hurting. For example, her first do was "to be available and approachable." She shared with us Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Sarah's practical advice can help us to be a better threat to the darkness in this world. We can encourage one another for Christ.

Day Two Begins

![alt](/content/images/2015/06/monday-tuesday-2.png) ###Brokenness Turned Into Something Beautiful Our evening session was a very powerful one tonight. The Matt McCoy Band began the session by leading in song:

Our Keynote speaker, Matt, gave us a powerful message. He shared Mark 1:14-15 which states,

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!'

Matt explained to us what the Kingdom of God actually is. The Kingdom of God is wherever and whenever the will of God is done. It is when things are the way that God wants them to be. Matt shared Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:28-30. God created the heavens and the earth. He told us humans to rule over the earth, to take care of it, and to multiply. That is what God made us for. He has given us the ability to be creative. We have taken that responsibility and destroyed it. We have lived rebellious and sinful lives. We live in a broken, shattered, fragmented world. The world is not what God created it to be. What was meant to be whole is broken and fractured. Matt shared Romans 1:28-31 and Romans 3:10-12:

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

We are all victims of this brokenness but we are all also collaborators. We have told God "Thanks but I am going to figure this out on my own." We have perpetuated the problem. However, in God's grace, He has initiated His rescue plan for all of us. Jesus tells that if we repent, the Kingdom of God is near! We can be a part of putting this broken world back together again. Matt discussed that true repentance is confession and action. We must acknowledge what we have done and we also must do something about it. We must turn away. We must strive to walk away from the sin. If we truly repent, we can receive more forgiveness than we could ever imagine.

Matt then invited leaders to the steps. Campers engaged in a time of prayer and repentance with one another. The Matt McCoy band finished the session in song:


View more photos [here](http://impact2818.smugmug.com/Epworth-Forest/Epworth-2015-June-1419/n-Spb3ks/).

Capture the Tiki

Campers and leaders had a blast at cabin challenge this afternoon! This spin on capture the flag was a hit. Campers and leaders battled it out as they fought hard to put out their opponent's tiki without being tagged!

Check out more photos here.

Faux Yoga: A Camp Favorite!

Campers enjoyed some hilarious yoga in the Beach House while waiting for the rain to pass. Check out those moves!

Waterfront Fun

Campers enjoyed paddle boarding, playing on the aqua rocker, kayaking, and more this afternoon on the waterfront!

Check out more pictures in our gallery.


Some of our campers decided to take the opportunity to learn some new doodling techniques this afternoon!

Want to see more photos? Check out our gallery here.

What is your target?

The Matt McCoy Band began our morning session by leading in worship:

UPROCK then took the stage and performed to "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns.

Our keynote speaker for the week, Matt Laidlaw, then shared with us an important message. He discussed that we often have accomplishments that we all want to achieve but a lot of the time we miss the mark. We may try to love those around us, we may try to receive good grades, but sometimes we don't reach our goals. Even when we try our best, we don't always get the result. Matt explained that there are 613 laws/rules/commandments in the Bible. Some people may think that these are rules that hold us back but this is not true. Matt explained that these are given as ways to live our lives. The 613 commands are in the Torah. The Torah is the written law of God which was revealed to Moses and was recorded in the Hebrew scriptures for the first five chapters. The word "torah" in Hebrew literally means "shoot, throw, hit the mark." Matt shared Deuteronomy 30: 11-16:

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

God gives His people the target to aim for. He shows us the way to live. It is not beyond what we are capable of. It is imbedded in our hearts and minds. God gives us the 613 commandments in order to give us ways to aim and hit the target. These rules are a way of life as God intended. Matt shared Matthew 5:17 which states,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

The best possible way to live life is to look at Jesus' life and strive to be like Him. He shows us how to hit the target. Jesus came to fulfill these commandments. We must strive to follow them just as Jesus did. Strive to live the better way, the way of Jesus. Now ask ourself, what is your target?

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How to use your gifts for God NOW

One of our learning labs this morning was instructed by Christine from Covenant United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne. Her focus was on spiritual gifts and learning how to use them for God. She had campers take a spiritual gifts quiz to give each camper an idea of what his or her spiritual gifts may be. She used scripture as a foundation to show the students what spiritual gifts are all about. She opened with 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit.There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.


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Good Morning!


I'll Stand With Arms High and Heart Abandoned

Campers worshiped their hearts out during tonight's session.

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Tonight we had our first worship session. Worship was led by the Matt McCoy Band:

Campers were full of energy as they praised their Father! UPROCK also took the stage and performed a song for the campers. The campers were also led in a message given by this week's keynote speaker, Matt Laidlaw. Matt is the Director of Adult Life at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Find out more about Matt here.

Matt based his message on our week's theme, becoming better. We want to learn how to live better, specifically, how to follow Jesus better. Matt explained that we often say "God really showed up." We say this in various situations, especially camp. We often say, "Wow, God was so present at camp this week." Matt explained that these statements are not true. God is not going to show up this week because He is already here. He was already with each of the campers wherever they came from and He will be wherever we are for the rest of our lives. It is impossible to get more of God because He is always with us. Matt shared Psalm 139:7-12:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,'
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

There is no where in this world where God is not present. Matt then shared about how campers can best gain from this week. He discussed our hearts and our minds. In reference to our hearts, he shared Genesis 1:1-2:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

The Spirit of God hovers over the waters. Matt explained that when water is used biblically it is symbolizing chaos and fear. God takes chaos and makes it beautiful. He hovers over our chaotic and fearful lives and turns them into something beautiful, just as He hovers and calms the seas. God did not create chaos, but He transforms it. Some campers may be anxious, excited, or perhaps hanging on by a thread. Matt invited the campers to let go. He invited them to let go and let God hover over the chaos of their hearts. The question is not if God is going to show up, the question is if you are going to show up.

Matt then shared about the mind. He shared Matthew 18:3:

and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'

If we ever want to change, we need to begin again in our minds and become like children. In order to learn, we must clear our minds and become blank slates. Matt encouraged the campers to let go of what they think they know and to simply be willing and open to what God might actually do. He encouraged campers to open their hearts and minds in order that they might become better and make this world a better place.

Stack Attack!

Campers enjoyed a new feature this year while waiting for other groups to check in. We would like to introduce you to crate climbing! Campers tried their best to balance on as many crates as possible as they were belayed by an Epworth staffer. Who will have the record of most crates at the end of the week? We will have to wait and see!

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Smiles and Excitement for Camp

Campers enjoyed hanging out with friends during check in time. Their excitement for camp is obvious!


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Welcome to Camp!


We are so excited as we wait in anticipation for your campers to arrive! We are looking forward to a week full of amazing adventures. We cannot wait to see how God works throughout the week. Check the blog daily to see what your camper is up to! We will tell you what your camper is learning about and we will also have daily photos and videos. Let the week begin!