Warrior Camp Team,
Hey! I hope this Warrior Camp Update finds you having a great summer. If you're receiving this update, it's either because you're on our Warrior Camp Team, you've given me advice, or because you're one of my friends or family who I thought would like to hear what's new with our camping ministry.
1. Ty Smitherman, one of the mvp's on our Warrior Camp Team is gearing up to host what we might call a customized Warrior Camp Sword Fest with his home church youth group in Attelboro, Massachussetts. It's scheduled for the first week of August, and so he's already started building the padded foam weapons (i.e. "boffing swords") and engaging in trial battles with the students. I just got off the phone with Ty, and the youth pastor is completely behind it...and then some! We may be able to get some pics, so stay tuned. This is a pretty awesome God thing, so pray for Ty and the students, and praise God for the opportunity. (In case you were wondering who won the trial battle, Ty was outnumbered 9 to 1, but he still took out 7 of them before getting stabbed in the back! Way to go Ty, and keep us posted on the Sword Fest!)
2. Since the last update, our starter website has been given one if it's biggest "face-lifts" yet. New links include "How Warrior Camp Began," which (as promised) opens a letter recently sent to British author Stephen Lawhead (who is also a Christian) which describes how God used his fantasy literature to inspire Warrior Camp. The new "Blog and Updates" link will take you to a running, blog-based archive of all the Warrior Camp Updates to date and provide an easily visible overview of God's orchestration in Warrior Camp's progress from the beginning. Here, you can also leave comments, feedback, and interact with what's going on at Warrior Camp. Gotta admit...the new blog is pretty cool! The "Coming Up" link shows the slew of games, rallies and other cool stuff in the Warrior Camp Arsenal. Feel free to check out the new changes at: http://warriorcamp1.googlepages.com. As always, if you have feedback or ideas, I want them! :o)
3. Just today I received in the mail some big bungee cord samples from an elastic company based in Rhode Island. Why bungee cords you ask? Because here at the "Warrior Camp Game Laboratory," we're always slaving over our beakers and test-tubes in pursuit of the holy grail of fun. One of our current projects is conceptualizing a prototype for a rocket slide that may actually qualify for the prestigious status of making it into the Warrior Camp Top 10 Games Arsenal. We're optimistic that our game-artists and game-scientists (like the Star Trek space-ship) are boldly going where no man has gone before. Stay Tuned!
4. Near the end of June, I was able to come home to Idaho for the 4th of July. After all the fireworks, I decided to tackle a job for my uncle by chinking the barn by his cabin up in the stellar Idaho Mountains. If you're not sure what chinking is...join the club! But I soon learned that chinking involves filling in the gaps between the logs of a cabin with a special pasty, gritty compound. So while packing mud between the logs, I was also enjoying the epic view of the mountains, forests, and lake, getting a mountain tan at 5,000+ feet and listening to Air One on the radio. One day while chinking, Dr. James Dobson came on the air with his "Family Minute." The subject quickly caught my attention as Dobson emphasized the need for single moms to find a healthy, masculine influence for their young boys. Dobson proposed that somewhere, boys need a strong father figure to show them things like character, courage, and what it means to be a man. Even at a young age, boys will begin to gravitate to their dad. But for single moms whose husband is M.I.A., Dobson suggested that the boy's upbringing is not hopeless. Boy Scouts, a Youth Pastor, or a strong Christian male-mentor at church can help provide a beneficial peer group, a rigorous, healthy, affirming influence, and even lay down some clear tracks worth following. So while packing mud amidst Dobson's examples of where young boys could find this kind of influence, I bellowed "Warrior Camp!" in order to expand Dobson's carefully selected list. Had you been on the adjacent range, you would have heard the echo. I think Dobson is right on, and he has unveiled a huge, gaping need (and ministry opportunity) among young men, the fulfillment of which comprises the beating heart of Warrior Camp. At the bottom of our front web-page, our purpose has now been put into words: "Training Up a Young Generation to be Men after God's own Heart."
5. Maybe I should have, but I didn't really expect the week of chinking to be much of a spiritual highlight with God. Go in. Nuke the job. Go home. That's my usual mode of operation. But I'm beginning to learn that God is interested in more than that, even when I'm doing something so basic as one week of packing mud. One night at the cabin before going to bed, my uncle and I were watching a big worship event on TV. Following the praise band, the speaker gave a challenging message. In the usual blunt style, the speaker warned everyone against the notorious "if only" kind of thinking. "If only I had a bigger house, I'd be happy." "If only I had a better job, I'd be happy." "If only I had a bigger ministry, I'd be happy." The conclusion: No you wouldn't. Cause you'd just find something else wrong with it, and complain about that. The speaker had credibility, and probably owned all those things, yet promised the congregation (from her experience) that real happiness and strength come from God. Israel wandering in the wilderness is a perfect example. God took them through the valley (i.e. 40 years in the desert) before calling them to the mountain top (i.e. the promised land). Yet why does that seem to be God's way of doing things? As the sermon concluded, God had started speaking to me, and still is. Our Warrior Camp ministry is still a new shoot. But if we're not faithful to God when it's still young, if we can't fully trust His preparation phase for us as His children when He is anchoring our trust in Him rather than in success, and if we can't have a robust faith when everything is only a vision of what can be rather than an actual fulfillment, then we'll forget God when we arrive in our equivalent of the promised land. Fire-tested, proven faithfulness first. Reward second. It seems like God often works that way. God's glory doesn't deserve to be diversified like a portfolio. He loves His children too much to haphazardly let them wander into something that will compromise, distract, or weaken their relationship with Him. So what's the answer? What I'm discovering is this: Gratitude (not ungratefulness) for what God has already done. Contentment (not discontent, jealousness, or covetousness) in where He has us now. And unrelenting confidence (not confusion or cynicism) in God's continuing activity in us, for us and through us.
6. One day at the Cabin while taking a chinking break, I finally went exploring. I hiked down to the lake at the bottom of the wide-sweeping basin flanked on the east by a stretching, forested range, on the distant south-west by the long-enduring Cascade Lake, and far in the Southern distance could be seen a rise of towering snow-rimmed mountains. It was a welcome break as I picked my way through the tall pasture grass, frequently being greeted by the curious yet sometimes frightened chirps of the valley's abundant ground squirrels, aptly named "whistle-pigs". Approaching the lake, I came across a giant abandoned barn. This thing was massive, ancient and weathered, but still standing tall. A proud, towering veteran among barns, it proclaimed it's undauntedness amidst the years of wind, rain and sun. Sunlight percolated through gaps in the high roof 40 feet overhead. The earthy, dirt floor was uneven from hundreds of cow-prints. 5 large stalls adorned each side, flanking a large spacious area in the center of the barn which was widely open to the spectacular view from each end. That's when it hit me...almost from out of nowhere. I immediately began to imagine what it would be like to have 15-20 guys hanging out there for a week. Sleeping in the barn on hay bales, catching fish from the lake for dinner, laughing around a campfire, team-planting a garden, telling stories of legendary heroes and Biblical heroes, playing capture the flag with padded swords, canoe races, mountain hikes, maybe even trapping a few ground squirrels and learning how to skin and tan. Fellowshipping. Sharing life. Sharpening each other. Growing closer to God in the middle of His creation. That's the kind of thing I'm praying for now for Warrior Camp.
I'd love to hear what God is doing in your life. If you have any praises or prayer requests, or even ideas for Warrior Camp, I definitely want to know.
Grow in the Vine and God bless,