Here is a question for you. If you could trade places with any person throughout history, who would it be? Tough question, isn’t it? If we are honest, we can probably name people we wouldn’t want to trade people with, right? Regardless of political party affiliation, I doubt many would want to trade places with the President of the United States. Too much stress and responsibility. I am still trying to think of my answer. In the Bible, I would probably like to trade places with Peter. He is my favorite apostle. Wouldn’t it be great to be Peter and see the Transfiguration or one of the many miracles that Jesus performed? Like Peter, I would still miss the bigger picture. From a Historical standpoint, maybe one of the Wright brothers. I wonder how many people doubted that they would ever fly? But they did it, they didn’t let other peoples’ thoughts distract them.
Here is a second question, would any of you like to trade places with me for one summer? Any takers? I doubt there are many saying yes. No one fully understands what it takes to make an All-Star Sports Camp happen. Sure, there is time to relax and be with family, but the driving force of my summer is that one week in July. Not many people see the hours spent doing computer work, or experience the joy of loading our trailer, or going to buy food for camp, and seeing people looking at you, like “why do you need 20 boxes of honey buns, or $500 worth of applesauce?” Not many people get to experience the struggle of walking by faith and not by sight. It always works out that we have the right number of volunteers, but when you have had a few orientations, and there aren’t many volunteers yet, it is hard not to doubt a little bit. Not many of you know what it is like to work 12 to 14 hours for 6 days in a row during sports camp. Sure camp ends at noon, but there is always some errand that needs to be run, and labels and lists have to be printed for the next day.
It may sound like I am complaining a little. But I am not, in all honesty I wouldn’t trade any of this. I know it comes with the job, part of my “fringe benefits”, a few new grey hairs don’t hurt too bad. Yes, summers get crazy, but then the week of sports camp happens. I do work a lot of hours that week, but I get to meet new volunteers, and new kids, and see them learn about God. I get to be the worship leader at camp. (I know some of you still can’t believe that), Sometimes it is overwhelming to see the kids worship the Lord. By the end of the week, many of the campers have learned most of our worship songs. To see many kids come forward during prayer time, and asked to be prayed for is a pretty awesome experience. To stand before a large group, and see young people and even some of our volunteers stand to ask Jesus to be the Leader of their life, is AWESOME! Coming to the end of the week, and looking back over the lives impacted, the lives that have been changed here on earth and for eternity, is humbling, and keeps me going for another year.
I want to share with you a little about worship.
What is Worship
How would you define worship? Another tough question for some right? Here is how a blog on revivenations.org defines worship. Worship is an overflow of your heart rising from honor and extreme submission. It is the overflow of emotions welling up inside your heart from a place of honor and submission through extreme reverence. It can also be defined as your love of God overflowing to a point where it is not just a feeling inside your heart or a knowledge in your mind. It begins to explode and overflow to where you begin to express it without shame.
You can google worship and find all the Bible verses on worship, reasons to worship, and what happens when we worship. I have read some of those articles, and they are good. I would encourage you to take time and study some of those articles. I debated sharing some of those articles with you today. Instead I just want to take some time to share with you a few of my observations on worship. I hope that these are beneficial to you.
My observations on Worship
My first observation is that we should worship at all times. Psalm 34:1 says this, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips”. Let’s be honest, there are times when life is great and worship comes easy. We also know there are times when praise and worship comes as a struggle. Life is rough, and instead of worshipping, we feel like weeping. This is the time, when worship is the most crucial. The reason is that when we truly worship, our focus, minds, and hearts, begins to think about the goodness of the Lord. True worship should bring us deeper revelations of God’s love and power for us. Worship should take our focus off of our trials and challenges, and should bring us to God’s power and victory.
The second observation is that worship is something that you participate in, not just watch. You know I have had people question (some out loud, most to themselves) why I lead worship at the sports camp. I know I don’t have the greatest singing voice. But I think it is important for the kids at camp to realize that all of us are called to worship. You don’t have to have the greatest singing voice to worship. God calls all of us to worship. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”. If you have a pulse and breath in your lungs, you need to worship. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but sometimes the way we worship at churches, it is like we are at a concert. We can sit back and enjoy the beautiful voices and musical talents that are leading us in worship. But, we are called to join in and worship. Some of the churches I have attended in the last 14 years, have this saying, “When the praises go up, the blessings come down”. Worship releases an outpouring of God’s presence and power in our lives. For a Biblical example, read 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat was going into battle against the Moabites and Ammonites, and as they set out to battle, he king appointed men to worship in front of the army and the Lord brought victory to His people.
The third thing I have observed is that our worship can (and probably should) have an impact on those around us. This has happened many times over the last few years of sports camp. The last three years, we have had to have a school staff member on sight during camp. They have all shared with me, how they have been impacted by our worship. When we have truly worshipped the Lord, we should be changed and impacted by His presence. Exodus 33 tells us that as Moses went to the Tent of Meeting, the Isrealites could see the presence of the Lord (pillar of cloud) and the people would worship. Also look at Exodus 34 for another example of being in the presence of God. I am also reminded of the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. They were in jail for causing a revolt. They had been beaten and put under the watch of the jailer. The Bible says at midnight, they began to worship. As they worshipped the Lord showed up (another example of my second observation) and an earthquake happened. It says their chains, and the chains of the other prisoners fell off (I know they physically did, but I wonder how many chains in the spiritual realm) fell off. The prisoner guard was about to kill himself, and Paul stopped him. The guard then asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved. That night the jailer and his whole household was saved.
In closing, I want to share an analogy I shared at sports camp this summer. I brought out a pitcher. I asked the kids what a pitcher was for. They said to hold a liquid. I then asked if a pitcher never held water, was it fulfilling the purpose it was created for. Of course the answer was no, it is not.
I then shard with them that the reason we are created is to worship the Lord (see Isaiah 43:18-21). I then proceeded to fill the pitcher with a gallon of water. I shared that when we worship God, His presence and power fills us. I then shared (another aspect of worship) is that we then use our pitcher to go impact those around us. I had some of my youth helpers come on stage, and I poured them glasses of water. They were impacted. I then told the kids, that notice as we impact others, we begin to become “empty”, and so we have to go back and worship the Lord and get filled again, so we can go bless others.
Take some time to worship God today. May He fill you with his presence and power, so that you can impact others with His power, presence, and love. Then come back and be filled again. Worship is one of those activities that we need to do regularly. We need to do it for us, as well as those around us.
All-Star Sports Camp
All-Star Sports Camp 2016 was another tremendous success. We had 208 children who attended the sports camp this year, and we had 65 volunteers who helped at some point during the week of camp. Like always, it was a tiring week, but a fun week, nonetheless. Like always there were challenges that we faced, but we persevered and learned from them, and will use our experience to make future camps even better. This year, we had 4 summer camps/daycares that camp to camp. These four groups combined to bring 138 children to camp, as well as some volunteers that helped us with the different activities at camp.
As some of you know we talked to the kids about Finishing the Race based on 2 Timothy 4:7-8. We shared with the children that in order to finish the race, you have to START. Monday was Stay Focused based on Hebrews 12:2. Tuesday was Train for the Race based on 1 Timothy 4:8, Wednesday was Ask God for Strength based on Isaiah 40:31, Thursday was Run with Perseverance based on James 1:12, and Friday was Throw off Sin. Our puppet ministry shared different Bible stories that dealt with people running in them. The stories they shared were Jonah trying to run away from God, David running to fight Goliath, the father of the prodigal son running to meet him, Mary running from the empty tomb to tell the disciples and Peter & John running to the empty tomb, and Philip running to share the gospel with the Ethiopian Eunuch.
Like always, we ended the camp on Friday night with a cookout for the campers and their families. We had a good turnout, and it was good for me to get to visit with some of the families as well.
We made some changes this year to camp. One thing we changed is that we changed some of our snacks and meals. In the past we had given fruit snacks (artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives) for snack and a few apple slices in lunch, as well as a sandwich, a bottle of water, and a couple of cookies. This year we replaced the fruit snacks with string cheese, and the apple slices with apple sauce. The kids seemed to enjoy the change. The other big change was that myself and the leadership team, felt like we needed to include how to share the Gospel with children in our pre-camp orientations. So we included the Roman Roads to Salvation, and a children version of the Bridge diagram. I am glad we did that. I spoke three times that week of camp, and my dear Brother in Christ, Gleen Samuels, spoke the other two days. On Friday, I shared the Romans Road as my message. I then asked the kids who wanted to accept Jesus to stand up where they were. We had at least 42 who stood up for Jesus. PRAISE GOD!
Numbers from Sports Camp
As I just shared, the most important number from this year’s camp is at least 42 stood up to accept Christ. Out of those 42 who stood up, 14 of them did not have a church home listed on their registration form. In total, 65 campers did not have a church home. Out of the 208 children who attended camp this year, 148 of them had never been to sports camp before. The children from camp, came from all across Lubbock. The largest zip codes we drew from were 79423, 79403, 79404, 79411, and 79412. 79403 and 79404 are the zip codes in East Lubbock, and 79411 and 79412 are the neighborhoods around OL Slaton.
To fill out a volunteer application (print or done online), register a child for camp (print, or done online), or to make a donation for camp, please visit our webpage: www.livingabundantlytx.com.
Here are some interesting and humbling numbers from the history of sports camp. Over the last 13 years of ministry, we have had 3,399 kids who have attended sports camp. If you only count those children who come multiple years, only one time, we have impacted 2,153 individual children. I was blown away when I looked at those two numbers. The seeds God has allowed us to plant for His Kingdom, and those that have accepted Christ because of sports camp will be unknown this side of Heaven. God is faithful, and has blessed us to do so much to show the children of Lubbock His love and plans for their lives.
Here are three answers to that question. First is to begin planning for next year’s camp. Let me be honest, we (the leadership team) actually starts planning the next year’s camp, before this year’s camp is over. We have not decided a theme yet, but we are planning on having All-Star Sports Camp 2017 back at OL Slaton Middle School from July 17-21. The second answer is that we need to recruit more volunteers for camp, and get more kid from the areas of Lubbock, we are trying to impact to camp. We are not sure what this will look like. Part of the answer is to get the word out to people a lot earlier. One of the mothers of a youth volunteer asked me for the dates at the cookout, so she can take off of work and help next year. We need to find effective ways of reaching the “target” zip codes. That may mean, we walk the neighborhoods at some point. It may also be handing out information at the grocery stores and libraries next spring and summer. If you have an idea or want to help with this, please let me know. If we get more children to come to camp, we need more volunteers to help with camp. It is our desire to have 2 head coaches and additional volunteers at our sports activities so we can split the kids into group by age. We also need more help with camp support, technology, snacks and meals, and registration. The third answer is that we need to help as many of those 42 who accepted Christ, begins to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and help them build a firm foundation. Read the HIMpacT update for more information.
How This Year’s Camp Impacted Me
I have shared in the past how I am impacted each year of camp. I know other volunteers are impacted as well. There were really two lessons. First it is good friends. I had one friend, Brad, who took the mornings off of work to come help coach soccer. I had another friend, Leric, who helped me a lot before camp in getting organized, and taking supplies to the school. I had known Leric for a couple of years, but I got to know him a lot better this summer. He enjoyed camp a lot. He was impacted by our worship times. It was great to walk by and see him doing Bible Studies with his football kids. I got to make new friends at camp, and they will be back next year.
I was “rejuvenated” by God’s presence at camp. Like I shared earlier, I normally don’t do the lessons (sermons) at camp. I am the lead worshipper, and then I let someone else do the lesson. This year, I felt led to speak 3 times. I shared Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I really felt God impart His word into my heart a lot this year. On Monday I shared Hebrews 12:3, go read and meditate that verse. The visual of water that I shared earlier came to me one day, as I walked from my van to the front porch of my house. Wednesday, I shared more insights into Isaiah 40:31 and about Eagles. Then Friday, as I was packing stuff up before worship started, God gave me a visual to do in worship about throwing off sin. It is always exciting to see God move so powerfully. Obviously God poured into me that week, and I was glad to pour out His word and love to those who needed to receive it.
GYM & GYL
We are planning on having another session of GYM & GYL this fall. For those who don’t know GYM & GYL is a program we offer for teenagers. We look at issues that teenagers face from A Christian perspective. Topics include: leadership, self-esteem, friendship, dating, sexual purity, drugs and alcohol, to name a few. We meet one night a week, and we provide a free meal before the lesson. We are hoping to start GYM & GYL sometime in September and having GYM & GYL graduation on December 2nd. We are hoping to have some of our youth volunteers from camp, to attend GYM & GYL. If you know of someone who could benefit from this program, let me know.
HIMpacT We are planning on being more intentional with follow up from camp. It makes no sense to be satisfied only seeing the kids from camp that one week, and waiting until they come back to camp (if they do) to impact them again. One way is to hold a few activities throughout the school year, such as a Christmas party and Easter event.
The other thing we plan on doing is helping those children who made a decision at sports camp to be a Jesus follower, get grounded in the faith and also help them connect to a Godly mentor and/or church if they don’t have one already. One of the things we are considering is to take one Saturday a month for 7 months, and meet with a group of children from camp, and teach them the basics of the faith (God, prayer, Jesus, Holy Spirit, etc.). We hope to start this in October. We plan on meeting the 2nd Saturday of each month. We will probably need help with this aspect. Let me know if you want more information or want to get involved.
Those Who made All-Star Sports Camp Possible
We would like to thank the following for their gift of time and or money that made the sports camp possible this year. We apologize if we left anyone off the list. The following gave their time: Braxton Alvey, Brogan Alvey, Eddie Avery, Tess Bliss, Tony Bliss, Unise Cardenas, Ashley Collins, Karlee Combest, Trey Contreras, Leigh Corbin, Maddy Crockett, Leric Eaton, Halle Farris, Hanna Farris, Lupita Felan, Anita Flores, Madison Gilmore, Zhadai Hancock-Redwine, Ava Hannon, Lindsay Hearn, Brianna Hernandez, Linda Hiracheta, Keyondra Horton, Hannah Hughes, Makenzy James, Sherie Johnson, Keedra Johnson, Amber Jones, Sharon Kirkwood, Preston Lee, Lexis Luna, Al Manny, Jayda Manny, Nancy Manny, Aramis Manriquez, Ethan Manriquez, Sarah Manriqez, Brad McDonald, Breanna McGaha-Osby, Marisol Medina, Alexiah Meil, Avery Mitchell, Craig Mitchell, Esther Moses, E.V. & Jeanie Murphy, Terrius Myers, Savannah Pannell, Roberta Patterson, Noah Posada, Jasmine Puente, Nathaniel Puente, Stephanie Ramsey, Zoey Rodriguez, Charlee Ross, Honostie Salazar, Gleen Samuels, Ronald Sanders, Emily Thompson, Angie Tijerina, Mary Turner, Isys Villegas, Colleen Waller, Kelsey Waller, Brent Wilson, David Wilson, Tabatha Wilson, Whitney Wood, Jamardrick York, Destoney Young and Natalia Young.
The following gave financial gifts through either the golf tournament of sponsoring a child for camp: Aldersgate Church, Alderson Cars, Eddie Avery, Bill & Stacey Bizzell, Tony & Tess Bliss, Caylene Caddell, Glenn Clayton, Brent Coffey, Eddie Crowder, Kyle Cummings, Scott Cummings, Linda Davis, Carey Dayton, Lee Eulenback, First Bank & Trust, Fron Line Ready, Jon & Marcia Furbee, Jerry Garza, Scott Goodrich, Dave Hagberg, Gary Horton, CJ Huff, Lakeridge Baptist Church Childcare Program, Milton Lee, Lighthouse Fundraising, Jim Macke, Jordan & Leigh Madewell, Al & Nancy Manny, Cullen Manny, Craig & Ann McDonald, Danny Milburn, Casey Moses, David Mullins, Mike Pesina, Steven Pierce, Brad & Kay Pruitt, Heyward & Stephanie Ramsey, Tom Rask, Justin Sharbutt, Kem Smith, Judy Smyer, Southwest Regional Wound Care Center, Richard Suit, Stuart & Lela Tackitt, Jesse Terrazas, Bill Thomas, Jonathan Thompson, Alex Trevino, Matt Ward, Western Bank, Windmill Financial Services, Randy Wolcott, Bill and Karen Wrench
We would also like to thank the following for allowing us to have our orientation meetings in their facilities. Asbury United Methodist Church and the Dream Center of Lubbock.