So many good times captured on camera... we wanted to share some of them with you! (Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for an awesome video.)
Thanks, Erna and Jack for sharing your photos with us!
Thanks to Steven Cogbill for creating this amazing video!
SBC hosted its first Family Camp at Green Bay Bible Camp in West Kelowna five years ago (Back when it was called Westbank!) and we've attended as a family every year. Matthew is the Director of Children and Families, so it is a work weekend for him, but we do get to see him when he's not "on", and the kids look forward to Family Camp weeks before it actually happens. This, despite sleeping on bunks made of plywood and mattresses a half-inch thick. Oh, to be young and full of wonder (and bones not prone to aching).
The basic structure of Family Camp has been the same since its inception: Arrive after dinner, get your envelope of instructions, your lanyards with your name on them, and your lodge/cabin/campsite assignment. There is breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and you're free to go at 1:00 on Sunday. There are campfires on Friday and Saturday night, with songs for the little kids and us big kids. There are planned activities, and increasingly over the past five years, less planned activities and more "free time."
The first year was pretty structured, because that's what we do at church. We plan and we get organized and we lay out a schedule. After the first year at Family Camp, it became apparent that while this was still our church family, it was not regular church. Sunday mornings (and every other day, really) are so busy and hurried and scheduled, that those who came to Family Camp wanted less scheduling. They wanted more family time (Church family time, for the most part), and less time being sheep led to the slaughter planned activities.
The planned activities eased back, which allowed for more time to sit for an hour after breakfast drinking coffee with friends and getting caught up on life. It allowed for time to sit on the beach after lunch, talking some more, while watching our kids jump off of the docks and being pulled on tubes behind boats, and paddle boarding around the inner harbour. It allowed time for morning walks (And runs!) with friends, for sitting after dinner to talk even more, and for our husbands to play pranks on each other.
The biggest change this year was to not hire an outside speaker, but to instead focus on sharing our stories. Stories are so powerful, and they form an instant connection with those who hear them. They may think "me too" or "I had no idea" or "How can I help you?" I am a story teller, and I am someone who hears better when someone tells a story than when someone shares knowledge.
Three people told their stories in front of our church family over the weekend, and I got more out of those stories than I would out of a year of sermons. I heard even more stories while sipping coffee after a meal, and sitting on the beach, and running along the waterfront. Stories come from the heart, and all of the stories I heard this weekend filled my heart to the brim.
(This is where I confess that I didn't want to go to Family Camp because of all that is going on in our lives, but going to Family Camp is exactly what I -- we -- needed.)
Here's to Family Camp 2015!
Photo credit: Angella Dykstra
For me, this past summer was a patchwork of great times of adventure, times of rest, times of challenge, times of ministry and times of vision and anticipation. One of the highlights was going on my annual motorcycle trip down through Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Utah. While travelling through these states, the eight of us ‘bikers’ stopped to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats in Northwestern Utah. The Salt Flats (see photo) is actually the remnant of Lake Bonneville, so named after Benjamin Bonneville, a U.S. Army officer who explored the area in the 1830s. This amazing landmark is used today for holding Land Speed time trials. World Speed Records were all confirmed on this spot! The lake bed is so large and flat that you can actually see the curvature of the earth as you look across the horizon. The surface, once you get 2-3 kilometres away from the road access, is pure white and perfectly smooth. The salt is the result of an amazing annual process. In the winter of each year, the entire surface is covered with one inch of water from rain and seepage. Once the hot weather comes, the water evaporates and leaves a fresh, smooth, powdery surface behind (kind of like flooding a skating rink). Scientists have measured the thickness of the salt and have found that from year to year, the thickness of the salt remains the same. Three of us drove around on the salt flats for a while just to say we did. (I won’t share with you how fast my bike goes!)
On the Salt Flats, you can’t see the composition of the water that covers it, only what is left behind once the water evaporates. I guess my question to you today is: “What do you leave behind?” If we fill our minds with the worlds’ wisdom or trivia… it will be evident in our thoughts, words, actions and legacy. If, however, we flood our mind, heart and soul with the pure water of the Word… what will be evident in and through us will be the pure ‘result and residue’ of being immersed in the Spirit of God. We want to be pure Salt and sometimes that Salt is produced through tough times, but always in keeping with what we cover and inject into our hearts. Mark 9:49-50 reminds us: “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Jesus also tells us that: “You are the salt of the earth” Matthew 5:13. As we start this new fall season, let’s be aware of what is ‘flooding our souls’ and ensure that, as life evaporates the highs and lows of our existence, what is left is clear and pure evidence of Christ’s life which gives us purpose, nourishment and continuity!
We sat high on the bank above the Red River deeply engaged in the talk. We were friends, had dated occasionally and really enjoyed each other's company. I was contemplating leaving the city for work and she didn’t want me to leave. What exactly did that mean? Were we more than friends? Was this relationship about to change into something more? What would it mean if we became a couple? How exclusive would we be and where did we see this relationship going? I was eager for clarity, she was hesitant and with lots of words we came to an understanding that changed our lives. Two years later we sought the blessings of God as we joined our lives in marriage before family and friends. The talk we had that day was the beginning: we defined the relationship (D.T.R.).
‘Defining the relationship’ conversations are always full of excitement and hesitations, concerns and questions, clarifications and compromises. Most of us have had them at one time or another and they all served the same purpose: to clarify exactly what was happening in a particular relationship. Interestingly, Jesus also had numerous D.T.R. conversations but they were quite different from the conversation we had on the river bank all those years ago. Our D.T.R. conversation was very much a dialogue with give and take, clarification and adjustments. When Jesus had his D.T.R. conversations, however, they were very one sided. He gave the invitation: “Follow me” – and when people tried to negotiate a better deal his response was always the same: follow or don’t. Clearly Jesus was interested in only one type of relationship: he leads and we follow.
This is a crucial truth to grasp because we live in a time where Jesus has many fans. There are many people who see themselves as enthusiastic admirers. They really like Jesus, think he is pretty awesome and tend to self identify as Christians. But they don’t necessarily follow him.
Jesus, however, was clearly looking for followers and not fans when he walked this earth. So much so that one day he taught a truth to his followers that always makes me squirm a little. He said:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus was very clear that people who were enthusiastic admirers, who knew that he was Lord and even did stuff in his name were not really following. Jesus didn’t know them and one day they were going to be rudely disappointed by that truth. What they clearly needed was a D.T.R. conversation. It wasn’t enough to know he was Lord and it wasn’t enough to do stuff in his name. They really needed to follow him to be known.
That’s why this fall we are going to spend time reflecting on 'Following Jesus Together' as a Church family. Each week we will have our own D.T.R. talk with Jesus as we look at what it means to follow him. Each of these weekly talks will also have an accompanying small group study guide that will help us clarify our relationship with Jesus and reinforce some simple habits that will keep us following him.
The conversation I had with Erna thirty five years ago on that river bank changed my life and it is my prayer that that this D.T.R. conversation will likewise either reinforce or change yours. It is clearly not enough to be an enthusiastic admirer – we need to follow Jesus! Therefore I invite you to join us on a journey this fall where we let Jesus Define The Relationship (D.T.R.) we have with him.
To listen to the sermons in this series, please click here.