Camp And Spiritual suddenlies
Often, God will use a week of Summer Camp to interrupt our regularly scheduled lives. As we approach the 2017 Camp season, here's a look at how God interrupts our spiritual lives. Camp can be one of the most impacting moments in our spiritual lives. I believe in moments that create movements that create maturity in our lives. We know that God works through our Strategies and our spiritual disciplines. But, do you realize that God also works through His Suddenlies and spiritual interruptions?
One of my favorite thoughts from a spiritual journal I read many years ago says, 'A surprise is the finger of God touching you on the shoulder. And sometimes that is His only way of speaking to us.'
This Summer I will be at 9 Camps across our nation. This is definitely the most important time of my ministry every year. I set aside months of planning and prayer and wellness to prepare myself for these weeks. The responsibility that I carry in the Summer is humbling, thrilling, and wearisome all at the same time. Will you follow along with our weekly blog and commit to pray for me and the thousands of Students and Leaders, and hundreds of Churches and Pastors? Please. You can follow along right here at our website on the events page every week for updates and stories.
I know that some people see no value for Camp. They say that Camp is emotionalism. Maybe a quick read through the Book of Acts would prove to be a lot of emotionalism and some pretty life-altering moments too. Why do I believe in Camp? It really is simple. There is a pattern in scripture where God steps into time and speaks in a way that He does not normally. I think there are many ways that God works in our life. Let me give you two: SUDDENLIES and STRATEGIES.
There is power in a systematic STRATEGY of spiritual disciplines in our life. The written work of God speaking through His Word. The spiritual work that we put in over time. Commitments such as bible reading, prayer, fasting, and mentors in your life. There is no replacement for spiritual patterns and discipline. There are some attitudes and vices that you will never be able to get rid of in your life unless you are willing to die daily to these things. You cannot cast out the flesh in your life. It's not that simple. You have to crucify it.
In Matthew 16, Jesus talked about the importance of 'taking up your cross daily' in order to be a disciple. The word for disciple is part of the root of discipline, or, beating yourself under control. If you are practicing things that are producing sin, you have to stop. And that takes death and discipline daily. This discipline is an important daily strategy that produces spiritual maturity.
What are you planning to do for your spiritual success? If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Bible reading, prayer, fasting, and godly mentors are all a vital part of your spiritual success.
But, then there is another important part of your spiritual success.
There is also power in the interruption of SUDDENLIES into our life. And this is why I believe so much in Camp. A week of Camp is time away from what is deadening and familiar to us, or, from the friends that distract us. And, a week of Camp is time in an intentional setting charged with anticipation and faith. This anticipation that Students and Leaders, and, Churches and Pastors show up to Camp with, charges the setting of Camp for moments that impact our lives like no other time. God’s Spirit can do more in a moment of our hunger and anticipation than in our entire lifetime of familiarity. Just look at a few of the many references of suddenlies in the bible:
Joshua 11 – Joshua’s army strikes the king of Hazor out of nowhere suddenly
1 Kings 18 – The sudden death of the false prophets
2 Kings 2 – The chariot of God sweeps Elijah away suddenly
Proverbs – Destruction comes upon the foolish suddenly
Ezekiel 37 – The Spirit of the Lord came upon the valley of dry bones suddenly
Matthew 28 – Jesus appears suddenly on the road after the resurrection
Mark 1 - The Spirit came upon Jesus suddenly at His baptism
Mark 13 – The sudden return of Christ catching up those who are asleep
Luke 2 – The Angel hosts appear suddenly to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Christ
Acts 2 – The Church began with an outpouring of the Spirit upon mankind
Acts 16 – The sudden earthquake that opened prison doors for Paul and Silas
Acts 9, 22 – Paul telling of the Light of the Lord that cam upon him suddenly
The word suddenly is also similar to an Epidemic or a breakout. It captures how quickly God can move. In athletics, we call it ‘mojo’. Or, when a team ‘get’s on a roll’. A basketball team has a 16-2 ‘run’ and the outcome of the game is changed. An interruption stops everything and gets our attention. Like a TV announcement. It has happened throughout history. Other terms that describe this idea of suddenly are viral, pandemic, contagious, rapid, or instant.
Sometimes when we become familiar or settled in our relationship with God we can lose interest or passion and become apathetic. I have learned that I can have as much of God that I want. And it usually depends upon my hunger for God and my willingness to seek Him. And just like with a person who might need the defibrillator to rescue them from a life-threatening cardiac arrest, sometimes we need to be shocked into awakening or revival. And the work of God in Suddenly moments accomplishes that in the Camp setting.
In a tragic way, the flu epidemic in the Spring of 1918 began on the east coast and 6 months later 24 million people were dead worldwide. Because of a cough in a public restaurant or bathroom or school house! And, in a productive way, the Hush Puppies organization was going to close in 1984. A struggling company had only sold 30,000 shoes in its first decade of existence. Fearing closure, the company made a few small changes by placing a logo of a dog on the shoe. The next year they sold 430,000 shoes. The following year, 1996, they sold 2 million pairs of shoes! Both of these examples prove the impacting power of Sudden change.
Allow God to interrupt your regularly scheduled life. Don't under-estimate the power of Suddenlies to create spiritual maturity in your life. And pray for us this Summer as we minister to many and create an atmosphere for God to work suddenly in the lives of Students, Leaders, Churches, and Pastors.