End of a Chapter

Yesterday marked the last day for me at Carolina Creek Christian Camps, a journey that began in May 2015. With three summers and a year internship under my belt, eighteen total months were dedicated to that small corner of Texas I have grown to love so much.

I have learned to love much, meeting and greeting in great excess of twenty thousand people over my time there. Whether it was a public school’s team-building retreat, a church event, or a fraternity service project, I have learned to love all who come through the gates of camp. And it overflows into the other areas of my life as well.

I have learned to serve constantly, spending early mornings in the kitchen and afternoons lifeguarding or belaying in the sweltering east Texas heat. God comes first, others come second, I come third. God will supply for my needs in terms of strength, patience, and endurance.

I have learned to sacrifice all – whether that means staying up unreasonably late helping a camper understand that his depression and anxiety don’t define him, or leaving friends and family behind for fifteen months because God called me to a new and strange place and then called me to stay there. Jesus sacrificed all for me, willingly and compassionately, and as I grow to be more like Him I can grow to abide in Him alone and follow His leading.

I have established relationships I never expected to have. I became great friends with my Bible study leader in my first summer – a friendship that continues and thrives – and grew closer with some of my fellow interns and summer counselors than perhaps with the very brothers I grew up with. We have laughed till we cried, and cried till we laughed, cut the heads off of snakes both physical and spiritual, and watched new lives be born in Christ. We have nurtured wounds left by relationships, encouraged each other in our adventures, supported each other in our goals, trusted each other with the few things we own, wrestled with belligerent wifi connections, made late-night runs to the gas station just to be able to talk, built bonfires that make would make Boy Scouts jealous, and become the men and women we were made to be. A man of few friends coming into my first summer two years ago, I now have more than I can keep track of.

I have become the man I wanted to be. With very little of anything noteworthy accomplished in my first nineteen years of life, I have now led countless people into new or deeper relationships with Christ, gone on road trips that seem like they should be in movies, driven a Jeep through a rainstorm with no top or doors, visited the Middle East, climbed mountains, gone skydiving, been to twenty-five of the fifty States, seen the Alamo, blown up a refrigerator, shot a jackrabbit, fixed cars, built websites, bought Chacos, and wrote articles that actually mean something. I became the guy people go to for spiritual advice, prayer, and teaching. I live by a simple faith in Christ and an abiding and sacrificial love to do whatever it takes to further the gospel.

No one could have prepared me for the transformation that has taken place over the past few years. I went from an anxious boy to a capable man, empowered by a living faith in the One who made all things. The chapter that is Carolina Creek may be over for now, but the things I have learned, the ways I have grown, and the friendships I have made will stay for eternity.

Thanks be to God.

On to the next chapter.

Love Seeks Not Its Own

My time this summer has been consumed with camp, friendships, and reading. When I started Søren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love, I did not at all expect for it to take the entire summer to read, but I am thankful because I have learned such incredible things about what love is, how it works, and what it looks like. Most recently, I have finished a chapter on how Love Seeks Not Its Own.

The age in which we live constantly tells us to look out for Number One, and Christianity is no stranger to this idea. We know that serving others is of the utmost importance, and denying our own desires is essential to our faith. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Kierkegaard writes:

When a human being seeks the love of another human being, he seeks to become loved himself; this is not sacrifice; sacrifice would consist precisely in helping the other person to seek God . . . Therefore, if a man seeks to become the object of another person’s love, he deliberately and falsely seeks his own, for the only true object of a human being’s love is love, which is God, who therefore in a deeper sense is not an object at all, since he is himself love.

To seek to be the object of another person’s love is a futile effort – it has no sacrifice and no depth. One who seeks to become the object of another person’s love seeks his own interests, and not the interests of the other. It is futile because the only real object of love is God Himself, and not a person at all. Continue reading “Love Seeks Not Its Own”

Washing Feet … Differently

If you want to hear a story that’s been told over and over and over and over and over again in circles of the church when it comes to serving one another, it’s definitely the Jesus-washes-the-disciples’-feet story. But what if there was a more practical way to understand it?

In John 13, during the Passover meal, Jesus got up, took off His outer garment, wrapped Himself with a towel, and sat down to wash His disciples’ feet. Immediately, everyone in the room was taken aback. Streets were nasty. Feet were disgusting. Washing feet was the job of the lowliest of servants – not even Jewish servants were expected to wash guests’ feet. Yet here was the rabbi, taking on the worst job these other eleven guys could think of. Continue reading “Washing Feet … Differently”

Teaching with Authority

In John 7, John the Apostle writes about how Jesus secretly went up to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Booths (a very happy feast in Jewish tradition, which is actually still practiced today). The Jews looked for Him but did not find Him, because He traveled there privately. In the middle of the feast, John records, Jesus walked up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews were amazed at how He taught, and asked each other how Jesus learned what He spoke of, if He was never taught. Jesus answered them:

“My teaching is not Mine, but his who sent Me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on My own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood” (John 7:16-18 ESV).

While this is undoubtedly telling about the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, it is also encouraging to us as believers. Jesus had the Holy Spirit – the same One we have – and spoke confidently and authoritatively. Continue reading “Teaching with Authority”