Yes, Mandy, there really is a Hell

 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matthew 10:28

Our first summer in camping ministry, we had a potpourri of counselors from various church backgrounds.  One tall slim girl named Mandy grew up Lutheran and knew her Bible well.  As Mandy spoke with her campers during Bible study one week, the topic of hell came up. Mandy shared what she had learned from God’s Word.  When one of the campers went home, she told her parents, who told their pastor, who told the superintendent of camps at the head office, who called my husband to say our “counselors were not allowed to talk about hell since some churches don’t believe in it!” 

whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.  Matthew 5:22 (NKJV)

We were astounded!  Yet being new to camping ministry and young Christians ourselves, we encouraged the counselors to just keep the focus on Jesus in their Bible studies.  But if there is no hell, why does anyone need Jesus who came to save us from our sins so that we won’t go to hell?!!  Well, I can tell you, if we were in that situation again, we would pull out our Bibles and march down to the head office to show the leaders God’s Word.  And so, to paraphrase the famous line from the 1897 New York Sun editorial by the aptly named Francis Church, I reply, “Yes, Mandy, there really is a hell!  You were right all along!  Here is the proof I’ve found in God’s Word which does not lie.” Oh head office, know the truth and the truth will set you free!

The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget GodPsalm 9:17 (NKJV)

Perhaps the best Bible story depicting hell is found in Luke 16:19-31. Here we meet a very poor man named Lazarus (a different Lazarus than the one Jesus’ raised from the dead). This Lazarus suffered throughout his life.  When he died, he went to Abraham’s bosom (a picture of being held in heaven in the arms of God).  At the same time, a wicked wealthy man died and was sent to hell.  From hell, this rich man could see across a large chasm into heaven, where Lazarus was being comforted on Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man begged for Lazarus to bring him some water, but Abraham said, “No, you had the good things during your lifetime, and besides there is this big chasm that separates us.”  The rich man begged for Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family about hell, but Abraham replied, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” And so the rich man was left in hell to suffer for all eternity (Luke 16:19-31). It is interesting that Jesus raises another Lazarus from the dead in John 11! And were any persuaded by this miracle to repent?  

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.  Psalm 139:8 (NKJV)

Oh, dear one, we don’t want this eternal torture for anyone, not our friends nor our family nor our worst enemies.  We want to bring them the Good News of God’s salvation through His only Son Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ)!  We want to show them through the scriptures how Moses pointed to a Savior.  Jesus is the Seed to crush satan’s head Whom God promised Adam and Eve in Genesis. He is the Passover Lamb who died for our sins in Exodus.  He is our High Priest and the Law fulfilled in Leviticus.  He is the Prophet foretold in Deuteronomy.  He is the Captan of our salvation in Joshua. He is the One the psalmist declared is poured out like water for all the world. He is the One wounded for our transgressions in Isaiah. He is the 4th person walking in the fire in Daniel. He is the ruler from Bethlehem as told by Micah.  He is Jesus Christ, the baby born to the Virgin Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  He is Yeshua Messiah, who bore our sins on the cross that all who believe in Him will escape hell, have our sins washed into the depths of the sea, and live eternally in heaven, with Lazarus on Abraham’s bosom!  (Genesis 3:15, Exodus 12:21, Leviticus 21:10, Deuteronomy 18:15, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53:5, Daniel 3:25, Micah 5:2,Micah 7:19,  Luke 2:7, Luke 2:12, 1Peter 2:24,  Pastor Tim Sheets, “Knowing Him,” Oasis Church, November 26, 2023).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read Job 33:23-30  and Jude 24-25 and see there is HOPE! Jesus is our Mediator, the One who keeps us from the pit!  Jesus’ blood He shed for us on the cross washes us clean so that we can be in heaven with Him for all eternity. Our citizenship is in heaven!  Make your salvation certain today by calling on Jesus and confessing your sins. Rejoice in our great hope, dear one!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1Peter 1:3 (NKJV)

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

Hell and Destruction are before the Lord;
So how much more the hearts of the sons of men. Proverbs 15:11 (NKJV)

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Revelation 1:18 (NKJV)

If you’d like to learn more, you might enjoy reading We still need the Key and It is Finished and Leave no Doubt and My Dear Loved One. 

 …and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 (NKJV)

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  John 20:28-29 (NKJV)

(See also Deuteronomy 32:22, Job 21:30, Job 26:6, Psalm 11:6, Psalm 21:9, Psalm 73:18-19, Psalm 140:10, Proverbs 1:12, Proverbs 5:5, Proverbs 7:27, Proverbs 9:18, Proverbs 23:14, Proverbs 27:20, Proverbs 15:24,  Proverbs 20:26, Isaiah 14:15, Isaiah 14:19, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 13:24-49,  Matthew 18:8-9, Matthew 23:33, Matthew 24:29-51, Matthew 25:30-46, Mark 9:42-48,  Luke 3:17, Luke 12:5, John 5:22-30, John 5:46-47, John 8:32, 2Thessalonians 1:8-9, 2Peter 2:4-11, 2Peter 2:17, James 3:6, Jude 23, Revelation 20:15)

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘In the day when it went down to hell, I caused mourning. I covered the deep because of it. I restrained its rivers, and the great waters were held back. I caused Lebanon to mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it. I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth. They also went down to hell with it, with those slain by the sword; and those who were its strong arm dwelt in its shadows among the nations.  Ezekiel 31:15-17 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Camp Prayers for God’s Faithfulness

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

A few weeks ago I was writing about God’s Faithfulness at Church Camp.  As goes life at camp, all of a sudden we were so busy that there was no time to write.  But there was still time to pray!  I encourage all of you involved in camping ministries to keep Jesus and prayer as top priorities no matter what the season, slow or busy.  If we stay in God’s Word and have TEA with Him each day, all of our tasks will be blessed.  God is faithful, even during our busy times, sending wonderful volunteers to help us.

Here are some ways we incorporate prayer in our camping ministry.  I hope these ideas are a blessing to you.  Please let me know if you have other ideas…

Prayer emails to prayer friends & family…We have a group of people who are interested in our ministry and have promised to pray for us. Every so often (and I need to write again soon), we send out a prayer email, giving these folks an update on praises and prayer requests for the camp.  We are so thankful for these folks who petition the Lord on our behalf.

Prayer friends adopt a team member or board member…These same prayer friends have the opportunity to adopt one of our ministry team or board members each summer. They pray for that person specifically by name, covering all our team in prayer.

Prayer partners each week with ministry team…In addition, every Sunday night at our ministry team worship service, we write our names and any prayer requests on a slip of paper and put them in a basket.  At the end of the service we each draw a name to pray for that week.  We get to cover each other in prayer this way.

Pray over camp before season…During our week of team training at the beginning of summer, our ministry team takes time to walk over our entire camp and pray for each building, recreation, vehicles, campers, team members, volunteers, etc.  We ask God to cleanse each part of the camp and fill each room with His Holy Spirit, touching the lives of all who come to camp.

Footwashing and communion service for ministry team...At the end or our training week, we hold a commissioning service for our ministry team, asking God to bless and prepare each one of us to serve.  Each team member washes another’s feet and we lay hands on that person and pray for him/her.  As we share the bread and cup, we are united as one body to serve Jesus at camp for the summer.

Daily devotions and prayers at lunch with ministry team…Every day at lunch in the summer we share a devotion and prayer with our ministry team.  This is the perfect time when both the morning crew and afternoon crew are there together.  Team members sign up on a calendar for this prayer time, so they each have the opportunity to lead in this special way.  Lunch time together is one of our favorite times of the day.

Sunday night praise service for ministry team and neighbors…One way we open up our ministry to others is offering a free cookout and praise service to the community on Sunday evenings.  The cookout is a time of fellowship, followed by a praise service lead by our ministry team.  Neighbors have the opportunity to submit prayer requests in our prayer basket, and also to draw a name and help pray with us.

Bibles and devotion booklets available around camp for guests…When guests head back to their rooms for the evening, some may be missing home, worried about jobs and family, having trouble sleeping.  And so in each lodge room is a Bible, and devotion books are also available, to encourage our guests and campers to have TEA with Jesus.

Prayer Chapel…Right in the center of camp is a little cabin that a mission team turned into a prayer chapel for us one summer.  The stained glass windows and miniature pews invites folks to pray 24/7, whenever they need a quiet spot away from the bustle of other campers.

Graces and prayers offered at meals for guests and team...Finally, even when things are rushed and busy, we try to make time for a prayer before meals with our ministry team.  Depending on the groups in camp, we may also lead a prayer for our campers.  We want them to know Jesus loves them and we thank the Lord for sending them to camp!

I’m sure many of you have other ways you incorporate prayer in your camping ministry and lives.  Please share!  As I write this I’m thinking of another idea to add next summer…A Prayer Walk along the Bambi starts with “T” for Thanks, then “E” for Exalt, then “A” for Admit, then “C” for God’s Call, then “U” for Understanding my Story, then “P” or Promises, and finally “P” for Petitions…My TEA CUPP with Jesus in the forest!

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Freezes & God’s Faithfulness

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV)

These past few days I’ve been reflecting on God’s faithfulness at church camp.  As I spend my TEA CUPP time with Jesus each day, He reminds me how He is always faithful.  We have seen how God is faithful in floods, God is faithful in fires, God is faithful in fiascoes, and today I share with you how God is faithful in freezes.  Yes, forever God is faithful.

It was Christmas day at our first camp in Iowa.  For some reason towards the end of the day my husband Kent decided to run up the hill from our house to the camp office.  And for some reason he thought to open the door between the office and the lodge where the summer staff slept during the summer.  When he opened that door he heard the sound of rain, water gushing from the ceilings and showering  upon all the bunk beds.  But the roof was solid and it wasn’t raining outside.  It turned out the building had hot water heat which ran through the ceilings.  Somehow the pipes had frozen and burst, causing the rain shower on the night of Christmas.  Kent shut off the water, but now there was no way to heat the building while waiting for repairs.  We needed heat so more pipes wouldn’t burst.  Kent and a plumber spent the next few days getting it all fixed, while avoiding the ice skating rink on the floor.  And we wondered, what was that all about, God?  Why on Christmas?  Why at all?  But God doesn’t explain these things, He just stays beside us and helps us through it and shows us that He is faithful.

Another freeze happened just a year ago at our camp here in the mountains of Montana.   We had a wonderful group of quilting ladies here for an early October retreat.  Half of the buildings in camp were shut down for the winter, but the other half were still open.  The ladies were staying in two of those lodges and eating at the dining hall.  When it started to snow we worried about the ladies arriving safely, but that wasn’t a problem. Their four-wheel drive vehicles brought them here just fine.  The problem was the temperatures plummeted to three degrees, colder than most Januaries!  The pipes in the lodges froze, so the ladies had to walk to another building for showers and toilets. The dish room with its thin glass was a chilly place for us kitchen workers, but at least the machine carried on.  Somehow we made it through the weekend, while praying for warmer weather. Finally the pipes thawed enough for Kent to shut off the water and blow out the pipes for winter.  Some pipes were so full of holes, they drained themselves.  In the spring all the pipes needed to be fixed. And God was faithful, sending volunteers (Thank you Gary & Rob!) who knew plumbing well and helped Kent to fix all those leaky pipes.

Another winter we had a freeze on the dirt road leading to camp.  The mountain streams often freeze over the road, leaving huge ice puddles.  On a warmer day, the puddles start to thaw, trapping unsuspecting vehicles.  One time that vehicle was ours.  My husband was away at a meeting.  I was driving our children to town for their regular day of piano lessons and Awana.  On the way we got stuck in this ice puddle, just a mile from home.  I walked back home to call the tow truck and hiked back down to the kids again.  It took over an hour for the tow truck to arrive and then he also got stuck. After much fuming and fussing, the truck driver got himself and us pulled out of the ice.  We made it to town, but were late for our piano lessons.  Coming home late that night, just the kids and I, I wondered what we should do with the ice puddle.  I decided we should park the car before the ice and then walk the last mile to camp.  Some loggers on the road had mentioned they had seen a pack of wolves recently, so I was a bit worried.   I prayed and we walked and we laughed as we carried our groceries, thinking we’d just throw the wolves one of our frozen pizzas if they came by.  But I thought what a crazy life we have, where my young first grade son trudges home through the snow at 10 p.m., surrounded by mountains and shining stars as he listens for the sound of wolves.  Yes, God is faithful in freezes.

Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness
reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness
is like the great mountains;
Your judgments
are a great deep;
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
Psalm 36:5-6 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Fiascoes & God’s Faithfulness

Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles?…Judges 6:13 (NKJV)

Fiascoes. Troubles. Hard times.  Yes, this is all part of life in a church camp ministry.  How do we deal with this each day?  I prefer to stay home and pray and have my TEA CUPP with Jesus, while my husband Kent heads out to the battle.  But sometimes I also must join him on the frontlines, and sometimes he also must join me in prayer.

Looking back at almost 15 years of camping ministry, it is painful to relive some of the fiascoes.  Some were harmless as a  group of 100 campers arrived a day early and didn’t bring bedding while we were having a day off, and our housekeeper tried to gather linens from other camps and patch up the situation until we returned (good work, Tim!).  Some were scary as our cook drove to town in the camp Suburban for donuts, only to have the engine catch fire and burn up at the side of the road (we’re glad you are safe, Meadow!).  Yet some fiascoes brought tears as we sent off members of our ministry team.

Every summer there is one member of our ministry team who can’t stay all summer, due to health, school, family or poor behavior.  Those times are the hardest for all the ministry team, because we are one body serving Jesus here at camp.  It sure hurts when the foot is cut off!  But sometimes that is necessary for the rest of the body to continue functioning.

One summer there was a fellow who was so eager to serve and had big ideas for the camp. We appreciated his enthusiasm.  However, on the side he was harassing some of the female members of the ministry team.  That unacceptable behavior forced Kent to ask him to leave.  The fellow needed a ride to town, but Kent didn’t want to drive him alone, so he asked one of our kitchen assistants to go with him.  We have a safe-sanctuary policy of 3-deep at all times, so Kent had to take our young son along, too, so there would be 3 people in the vehicle coming home.  So, this poor fellow had quite the escort out of camp that afternoon.

The rest of us were back in the kitchen working, wondering what was going on.  As dinner was served and the ministry team sat down to eat in the kitchen, a thunderstorm rolled in.  The rain pelted the old dining hall roof, pouring buckets of rain into the dish room.

The camp has another policy about privacy for all team members, so if one person is asked to leave, we don’t share details.  We just mention they have left and remind the team to follow all rules in the handbook. As Kent returned and told the ministry team the fellow had left, we were all crying tears of sadness as the roof cried right along with us.

We ended that day with prayers…prayers for our departed team member, prayers for those still at camp, prayers for hurting hearts, prayers for this camping ministry, and prayers for that weeping roof (it still leaks, by the way)!  And we thanked God for always being faithful in every fiasco.

You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
Psalm 71:30 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Fires & God’s Faithfulness

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine…When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

It must be August. The fire trucks zoomed up our mountain road last Saturday, followed by the Sheriff and forest service vehicles. Thunderstorms had threatened our valley all afternoon. Could there have been a lightning strike? My husband Kent was on the phone to the Sheriff’s office and neighbors to find out the news. A lightning strike had started a small fire on Carbonate Mountain, two miles south of us. Officials would let us know if the fire spread.

The memories of five previous fire evacuations came flooding back to me. We did not want to go through that again! We didn’t want to alarm the people in camp either, so what did we do? We prayed. Right there in the camp office where we knew we were helpless to any fires, we prayed. And God sent rain, and hail, and the most beautiful rainbow we had ever seen. And no fire evacuation. Thank you, Jesus.

Earlier this summer I came out of the house to a smell that I’ve come to call “August.” It was the campfire smell we have experienced almost every year since moving to Montana. It was only July at the time, so I was surprised and worried. It turned out that smoke had drifted over from a fire in Yellowstone National Park. Our valley was still safe.

Every summer the threat of fire danger in our valley in south central Montana is a cause for concern. We’ve experienced so many fire evacuatons. The ones that stand out most in our minds were two back-to-back evacuations in 2006.

On Tuesday, August 22, 2006,  lightning caused fires to start in our county, Sweet Grass County.  The fires were to the west and east of our valley, but for safety, the Boulder Valley was also closed at Natural Bridge. The fires were the Derby fire (named for Derby Mountain where the fire started) and the Jungle fire (named for a stream near where it started) .  Together they burned an area about 1/4 the size of Rhode Island.

It was a scary time for the people of our valley.  We asked our prayer friends to pray.  There are many Bible verses that can provide comfort at times like this.  Most meaningful to us was our camp Psalm 121…“I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Sunday night, September 3 at 9 p.m. the Boulder valley was evacuated.  The Derby fire was in the East Boulder and the Jungle fire was in the West Boulder.  As we approached McLeod, we could see the sky was orange and smoke was rising in the east.  We spent the week in Big Timber, checking with the forest service each day, and watching the fiery orange sky each night.

On September 10, we returned to Camp on the Boulder and found everything just as we left it.  We praised the Lord!   Smokey the Bear said “extreme” for the fire danger on our road.

Wednesday, September 13th we were evacuated for a second time.  The temperature was 87 degrees.  The Jungle fire was headed for the old Boulder River Ranch and Natural Bridge.  We were so thankful for the firefighters, volunteers, forest service, sheriff’s department, and everyone who worked so hard to keep us all safe.

But they wouldn’t have been able to save our valley, if God hadn’t sent over an inch of rain and then snow  that Friday and Saturday, drowning the fires that had threatened Montana for weeks.  Kent had to hurry back to camp to shut off water so the pipes wouldn’t freeze!  September 18th we were able to return to camp and stay.

As we drove up the valley and saw the snow-capped mountains, the familiar campfire song came to mind, “Praise God” to the tune of Amazing Grace.  And as we passed the burnt hillsides, the third verse of that great hymn seemed most appropriate…”Through many dangers, toils, and snares, we have already come, ’tis Grace hath brought us safe thus far, and Grace will lead us home.”

And the last verses of Psalm 121 rang true:
“The Lord will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.”
Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV)

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Floods & God’s Faithfulness

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you
...Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)

When we pass through the waters, God is with us.  How many times has this promise from God’s Word been put to the test in our camping ministry?  We have lost count! Floods have brought us to help others, as our ministry team has lent a hand in Iowa and Mississippi.  Floods have scared us as they whisked away our campers on Huck Finn rafts. And floods have brought us to tears, as Kent has battled overflowing toilets and drains.  Yet God has been faithful through it all.

So, today, for your entertainment, I bring you another suspenseful episode of Adventures in Camping, the continuing drama where one must always expect the unexpected.  The scene is Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp, a lovely camp nestled on a hilltop above the Maquoketa River in Jones County, Iowa.  It is mid-November, an unusual time for all four of the camp’s cozy lodges to be rented.  Our adventure unfolds during supper on Friday evening.

Scene 1 Timbercrest Lodge Kitchen

Camp Manager: (rushing into the kitchen after checking in a group) Well, the first group is checked in, now I’m just waiting for the others.

Manager’s Wife: (turning from doing the dishes) Honey, there is a toilet that needs your attention on the boys’ side of the lodge.  (Manager nods and heads towards the appointed rest room.  Just at this moment another group arrives and his attention is focused on the new guests)

Manager: (smiling) Welcome to Pictured Rocks Camp.  Let me show you to your lodge.

(A little while later. Manager stops through kitchen on his way to that restroom again.  He holds in his hand a sign that says “Out of order.”  He gets a piece of tape and proceeds to the plugged commode)

(Meanwhile back in the kitchen, dinner is being served and dishes are being washed)

Cook: This sink just isn’t draining.  Is there a plunger around here?  Oh, I found one (cook begins the active job of plunging the sink)

Guest: (poking his head in the kitchen door, speaking to the manager’s wife) Can you come here for a second?

Manager’s Wife: (looking up from her dishes) Sure.  (She follows the guest out into the dining hall, drying her hands on her apron)

Guest: OK, stand right here.  Now smell (She sniffs the air). Do you smell something odd?  (She wrinkles her nose at a definite odor in the air)

Manager’s Wife: Yes.  I will let the manager know about it right away.  Thank you.  (She quickly heads back to her dishes, which she would much rather do than deal with this smell)

(A few minutes later, manager once again enters the kitchen)

Manager: Well, all the groups are checked in and settled.

Cook: (gesturing with plunger) Could you please take a look at this sink?

Manager’s wife: The guests want you to sniff out in the dining hall right away.

(Manager, torn between the sink and the dining hall, gives the sink a few good plunges and then heads out to deal with the guests.  Cook, manager’s wife, and volunteer staff finish supper cleanup and say good night)

Scene 2 Manager’s House

(Later that evening, back at the manager’s house)

Manager: (coming in the door) Hi.  All the groups are settled for the night. Everything is under control.

(1:30 a.m. Telephone rings.  Manager leaps out of bed)

Manager: Hello.

Guest: (anxiously) Hello, this is one of your guests in Timbercrest Lodge. We have a major plumbing problem.  None of the toilets will flush, the showers are all backed up, there is an awful smell, and I have some desperate ladies in my group who want the rest rooms fixed pronto…

Manager: Yes. I see.  I will be right there.

Manager’s wife: (wandering out sleepily) Who was that?

Manager: (flipping through a phone book) It seems there is a major plumbing problem.

Manager’s wife: Oh, no (sitting down, realizing it is a long night ahead.  Manager proceeds to make calls to plumbers, none will answer their phones.  After one more try, he hangs up. The phone rings again)

Manager: Hello.

Guest: Did you call a plumber yet?

Manager: (keeping his voice patient) Yes.  I have just called a couple of plumbers, I will be right up (gets dressed and prepares to head to the plumbing disaster)

Manager’s wife: I’ll be praying for you!

Scene 3 Timbercrest Lodge and Manager’s House

(For this final scene, the stage is split.  One side shows the manager at the lodge, surveying the plumbing problem; the other side is the kitchen of the manager’s house.  The manager just shakes his head as he sees the floor of the rest rooms and smells the awful odors.  He attempts to telephone the plumber again.  The manager’s wife, knowing she cannot sleep with all this going on, fixes herself a cup tea, gets her Bible, and settles down at the kitchen table for a long night of prayer)

Manager’s wife: Lord, I don’t know if You fix plumbing problems, but I know you can do anything.  If you could please send us a plumber right now, that would be a big help.

Manager: (finally getting through to a plumber) Yes. Can you come right away?  Thank you very much.

Manager’s wife: Lord, please give my husband the strength to get through this night, and please fix the plumbing.

Manager: Good!  (Happy that a plumber is on the way, the manager grabs a mop, and heads to the rest rooms to begin the task of mopping up the overflowing sewer water)

Manager’s wife: (unaware that a plumber is on the way) Lord, it’s me again. Could you please fix the plumbing problem?

Manager: (seeing the plumber drive up) Thank you so much for coming!

(For the next couple hours we see the manager and plumber trying every trick to get the sewage system unplugged. We see the manager’s wife continuing to knock on the Lord’s door, asking for help)

Manager’s wife: (the clock on the wall says 3:45 a.m.) I’ll stay up until 4 a.m.

Plumber: Well, let’s try this electric snake one more time (manager and plumber feed the electric snake into the outside access to the pipes once again)

Manager’s wife: (4 a.m.) Dear Lord, I’m asking just one more time.  Will you please fix the plumbing?

Manager and plumber: Hooray!  (After many unsuccessful attempts, the plumber and manager have victoriously pulled out the clog from deep in the sewer system. Water can flow through all the drains once again.  Manager helps the plumber pack up and thanks him again and again.  Manager proceeds to mop and freshen up the rest rooms, so the guests can awaken to a pleasant new day)

Manager’s wife: In Jesus’ Name I pray, Let Your will be done, Amen (heading to bed)


(At 5 a.m. the manager tumbles into bed. His wife is overjoyed at the success of the plumber. They try to catch a few hours of sleep before serving breakfast to the camp guests.  The next day at camp there are no more plumbing disasters.  Praise the Lord!)

And so ends yet another suspenseful episode of Adventures in Camping. The victory is the Lord’s.  Diligent labors and persistent prayers won the battle of the clogged sewer system and conquered the November floods! Yay, God!

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Forever God is Faithful

Hello, camping friends!  As I ponder My TEA CUPP Prayers for Church Camps, the song that keeps coming to mind is “Forever” by Chris Tomlin.  I sit at my kitchen table in the mountains, typing this website, a recent copy of “Voice of the Martyrs” newsletter nearby.  Our camping challenges have been nothing compared to the persecution endured by Christians around the world.  But my friend Kimberly reassures me that God cares about my troubles just as much as He cares about theirs.  And I can see His faithfulness through it all. I hope you will enjoy the stories in the coming days of God’s faithfulness. May you see that forever God is faithful, forever God is strong, forever God is with us, forever and ever…

Give thanks to the Lord
Our God and King
His love endures forever
For He is good, He is above all things
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise
With a mighty hand
and outstretched arm
His love endures forever
For the life that’s been reborn
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise
Sing praise, sing praise

Forever God is faithful
Forever God is strong
Forever God is with us

From the rising to the setting sun
His love endures forever
By the grace of God
We will carry on
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise
Sing praise, sing praise
Forever God is faithful
Forever God is strong
Forever God is with us
Forever God is faithful
Forever God is strong
Forever God is with us

A Blessing for Church Camps

Floods. Fires. Fuming folks. Finances. Freezes. Fiascoes…these are some of the many challenges faced by people in church camp ministries.  We like to advertise the “Friends, Fun, Food, Families & Fellowship” at camp, but truly there is much more to this ministry than meets the eyes of the public.  Many times we worry about the Future of this ministry.  But as I look back on our years in camping, I know that Jesus is Faithful Forever.

Welcome to My TEA CUPP Prayers for Church Camps.  In the coming days, we will witness God’s Faithfulness as He has seen us through the trials and joys of church camp.  Every day I pray My TEA CUPP Prayers and pray for our camping ministry.  And every day I can find a blessing, even in the midst of troubles.

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you.
..  Psalm 20:1 (NKJV)

How did we end up in this ministry?  For our family it all started at a church dear to my heart, tucked in the village of Blanchester, Ohio just east of Cincinnati.  Back in 1993 we arrived in town with a U-haul, our 3-year old daughter, our 4-month old son, and no place to live.  My husband Kent had just been hired by the Cincinnati Nature Center and we were searching for a home.

We stopped at Grace Church and were thankful to find it unlocked on a Saturday.  There was a to be a wedding that evening, so the pastor was on hand to chat with us.  Pastor Bill showed us the newly painted and carpeted sanctuary and gave us tips on a few people to contact for housing.  One of his tips led to a house on the edge of town…a roomy retreat for our young family.  Some folks from the church showed up to help us unload the U-haul and brought us dinner!  They didn’t even know us, but we remember you, Greg & Cindi Hefner!

We came to church on Sunday and stayed for the potluck.  There had just been a craft sale, Peggy gave us a quilted frog for our baby.  We felt so welcome. For 3-1/2 years we were blessed to stay in this small community, joining in different parts of our new church…Sunday school, vacation Bible school, children’s church, hand bell choir, preschool…but then God called us to Church Camp.

On our last Sunday at Grace UMC in April 1997, we were told there might be a good-bye cake.  Little did we know our friends had planned even more…Every time I read Psalm 20, I remember our friends Dean & Joy Hall who read it to us as a blessing.  And I thank the Lord for all our dear friends who laid their hands on us and prayed for us. If we could have seen the journey that was ahead, and known all the “days of trouble” before us, we might have run and hid!

But God is faithful and continues to see us through every fiasco. In the coming days I will share some of  these struggles, and if you are a church camp person, I’m sure you will just nod your head in understanding. I pray Psalm 20 as a blessing to us, to you, to all who are in camping ministry or are just out serving Jesus in this world.  May God continually bless you…

Psalm 20

1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
2 May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
3 May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice.
4 May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.
5 We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we will set up
our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
8 They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stand upright.

9 Save, LORD!
May the King answer us when we call.

Please join me for more of My TEA CUPP Prayers for Church Camps!

P.S.  What is our current camp fiasco? The dish machine is broken and 200 campers are coming this weekend!  Jesus, please help the repairman fix it today!

New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.