Well we’re all here, all 24 of us (see previous post)! The property here is even better than I had anticipated. The wooded campground butts up against the base of a mountain, where all the main offices and lodges can be found. As you move further into the woods on the main trail, smaller offshoots branch out and meander throughout the property, some along the Doe River, others to various cabins, still others that are yet to be explored. There is a lake as well, and a set of privately owned train tracks that stop at the lake’s edge, where the Sidetrack Canteen is located (a canteen and eating area located in railcars at the end of the track!). The tracks follow a tunnel through the mountain, on the other side of which is a gorge cut out by the river. The tracks wander along the river deep into the mountains for about three miles, at the end of which is the drop-in for the whitewater tubing course and some rock climbing walls. One could hardly imagine a better place to get connected with the God of creation and get disconnected from the distractions of the world.
The Theme for the Week
This evening, as the sun began to set, the Smokey Mountain clouds rolled in at eye level and rested all around the camp. Light rains came and went throughout the evening as though the entire place were pulsating with life. There is just a sense that the living God is among us. After dinner we moved into a time of preaching and worship and I got to see our kids–totally unplugged from their often restless and overactive worlds–worshiping the God behind the beauty of this place. How fitting it is that this week’s theme is Magnify (from Psalm 34:3: “O, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”) and that tonight’s speaker taught on the God who created everything from the universe to each individual, the God who wants to be magnified before our eyes and then, and only then, to be magnified in our lives. I believe this place magnifies God before our eyes. Join with me in praying that God would indeed be magnified before our eyes and that we would all walk away from this place with a clear vision of this awesome God and a deep desire to magnify him with our lives.
I have had a specific prayer on my heart for this camp over the past week, ever since I preached on Paul’s experience in Philippi from Acts 16 to commence a series on Philippians last Sunday. In the story from Acts we are told that when Paul first went to Philippi he immediately went to a place of worship by a riverside and began to speak to the women there, perhaps a place not so different from where we are now. Among the women was Lydia, of whom it is said that the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to the Gospel. And with that, Lydia became the first one to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the city of Philippi. That verse has been playing in my head over and over all week: that the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to the Gospel. Lord knows it is getting harder and harder to pay attention to anything of lasting significance in a culture cluttered with noise and flash, in a culture that teaches us only to hear with our ears and see with our eyes, and yet the Bible talks about a seeing that is by faith and a hearing that happens in the heart. So as you pray for the Lord to be magnified before our eyes by faith, pray too that he would be amplified in our hearts. Pray that the Lord would open our kids’ hearts to pay attention to the Gospel. Be praying especially during our worship service each night between 8:00-9:30 p.m. I have great expectancy that the Lord is working in the hearts of our kids!