God is sovereign.

Our God is sovereign. 

Merriam Webster defines sovereign as: “Possessed of supreme power. Unlimited in extent. Enjoying autonomy.” 

When it comes to the events and consequences of 2020, God is sovereign. He is fully aware, totally in control, and completely at work.  

And, when it comes to the events and consequences of the personal hardship you are feeling today, God is fully aware, totally in control, and completely at work. 

It’s been a rough week for folks. Job loss, COVID-19, home repair, family strife, addiction, infidelity, injury, accidents, social disgrace, and embarrassment. These things are horrible, shocking, and they make us wonder where God is in the midst of our chaos. 

He isn’t surprised. He hasn’t disregarded the impact this would have on your life. He is for you. In fact, He means for this difficulty to be doing something excellent for your life and for the lives of those you love. We can’t see yet exactly what it’s working in our souls, but we can trust God that He is still possessed of supreme power, even when we feel helpless. 

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”(1 Chronicles 29:11-12). 

Reminding myself (daily) that our God is sovereign is the only way I can:  

Keep calm and carry on.

Meant to.

I texted a dear friend late last night. I asked her to pray for me. I confessed I felt weary even though I know Galatians tells me not to! Nevertheless I was feeling weary of it all. It’s not anything new. It’s just 2020. It’s all just so disruptive, unpredictable, unstable, and cumulative

2020, seriously go home. 

I wish none of this had happened.

And if you love The Lord of the Rings like I do, that phrase, “I wish none of this had happened” instantly reminds you of a critical scene between Gandalf and Frodo. If you hate LOTR, I don’t even know how to help you. 😉

Frodo was feeling like I was——worse even. He’s like, “I’ll see your “COVID-19, Derecho Disaster” and I’ll raise you “Mortally Wounded by an Orc Blade and Hopelessly Lost in a Pitch Black Underground Mountain Maze Filled with Goblins, Chased By a Psycho Who Wants to Kill Me For The Ring Which I Must Destroy On This Impossible Quest Or The Forces of Evil Will Forever Defeat Anything Good and Lovely In This World.”

I’d be in a funk too, Frodo. Granted his is make-believe and ours is real life. But still.

And as expected, wise old Gandalf has a word in due season. When Frodo says, “I wish none of this had happened,” Gandalf explains:

“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world than the forces of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” 

Meant to.

What if we were born, lived our normal lives for years and years until March 2020, at which point we were meant to go through all the chaos we are going through?

Meant to——for what? Please. It’s not as if there’s an epic battle of good versus evil in which we are called to play an important role or anything.

Except there is. We certainly didn’t choose to live in such times. But here we are. We have to decide what we are going to do with the time that is given to us.

What should we do with the time that is given to us?

Have you noticed how neighbors are talking to neighbors suddenly? How months and months of isolation, followed by an impossibly rare natural disaster has broken down the barriers that were there three weeks ago? I bet many of you have met neighbors for the first time. I bet many of you have shared generators, hauled debris, have toiled blood, sweat, and tears side by side with people who last March you didn’t even know existed. I bet those people would now happily come over to your house for a cookout, for a bonfire, for a chance to retell the story of the storm. I bet you are in a position to “love your neighbor as yourself” like never before in your life.

What to do with the time that is given to us? How about the great commandment? How about the great commission? Love your Neighbors. Eventually make disciples of them.

I am seriously not a fan of this “COVID-19, Derecho Disaster.” But if we were meant to have it——that is an encouraging thought.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Looking Back: A Dozen Years of Kids Camp

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2016 Kids Camp

In the Christian culture you hear a lot of buzzwords like: multi-generational ministry, ministry in the context of relationships, servant leadership, discipleship. Kids Camp packs all those concepts up in an old duffel bag and delivers them with a bang into one amazing, “relevant,” “transparent,” “missional” community. If you want to “make a difference for the kingdom” and “experience personal spiritual formation,” plan ahead now to take vacation time next summer and volunteer at Kids Camp.

Kids Camp has been a significant part of our family’s life for twelve years. Jeremy and I first volunteered at Kids Camp in 2005.  The twins were three years old. Essentially we raised our kids at camp. As soon as any of the kids were old enough to serve, they have: first as gophers and then as counselors. Camp is a unique way for families to create memories together, while serving together, in an atmosphere that is like a family vacation.

My official and non-descript title has always been Camp Lady. From the beginning that meant being one of the “up-front” people trying to make camp fun and funny for the campers and counselors alike.

Gradually my role and responsibilities increased from being simply a fun camp personality to more of an administrative and leadership role including planning, writing the camp manuals and leading the annual training of all staff.

Then things got serious. When Pastor Mick realized and informed us that kids would spend more time being influenced at Kids Camp than they would throughout an entire year’s worth of church children’s ministry, we got an urgency of the life-change and eternal impact that camp could and should be making.

Camp stopped being mostly fun and games for me at that point. The focus was still on the kids and giving them an amazing camp experience, but communicating the urgency and uniqueness of this spiritual opportunity to all the staff became my passion. “How to Lead a Child to Christ” became a crucial part of staff training.

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Jeremy’s adopted bunk 2016

We began asking non-counselor staff to “adopt” a bunk: to get a list of kids in one bunk and commit to pray for them by name all throughout camp. Staff members might choose to sit with their adopted bunk at lunch, play with them at the pool, or just get to know them better by observing on the challenge course.

The camp speaker began to focus even more on a clear presentation of the gospel and giving opportunities for every child to accept or recommit to Christ. Nightly chapel messages slowly built up this message to the kids: Something is wrong with the world and with each of us. We need saving. There is a Savior for us.

On the third night, the gospel is clearly presented and kids are asked to make a decision for Christ. Private discussion continues with their counselors afterward. During that discussion time, the rest of the staff gathers in the chapel and prays for each camper, each counselor by name and asks for their salvation. The Spirit moves powerfully through the unified prayers of the staff: middle school gophers and church elders and nurses and pastors and moms and dads pour out their requests before God.

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2016 One Camper’s Story of Salvation

God has consistently answered those prayers with many children asking Jesus to save them and to be their forever friend each year at camp. Many of the high-schoolers who now come back to camp each summer to serve, first made a decision to follow Christ as little children at Kids Camp.

In addition to the eternal difference camp has made in many children’s lives, camp is also an incredible opportunity for growth for maturing disciples. It’s the ideal place to learn patience, endurance, grace and trust. People become more real and relationships become more genuine.

Perhaps my favorite display of authenticity is in worship. My husband Jeremy has been the camp worship leader for just as many years as I’ve been Camp Lady. I have watched him transform a group of tired, disengaged, uncertain boys and girls into an enthusiastic crowd of Jesus Freaks. To watch the kids (and counselors, and all the staff) jumping for joy, shouting God’s praises, and dripping with sweat one minute and then to see eyes closed, hands raised in reverence the next…Well, it’s a miracle of God and those are my sweetest memories of all.

The friendships and memories made while serving at camp, as well as the knowledge that kids have found Jesus there, will always make Kids Camp a highlight of my life. As I retire from this role, I’m so humbled to have been a part of such an amazing and fruitful ministry. As the torch is passed on to a younger (and more energetic) generation of leaders, I pray that Kids Camp will continue to grow in its effectiveness as a tool to make an eternal impact for everyone involved.

For more information on how you can join forces in this incredible Eastern Iowa ministry, please visit my church’s website: New Covenant Bible Church.