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Last week I took a few of my guys to IMPACT camp at Linden Valley Conference Center (or Camp Linden for those of us with a little gray in our hair).  I like to hear people’s stories.  I want to know how God has been working in the lives of His children.  As usual, I listened and observed all week.  My take away for the week?  Camp is a place where people become connected to God, connected to each other, and where ministries are launched.  Camp, for me, was a place where those connections became beautifully visible.     

Let me tell you about some of the connections I observed last week:

Allie:  I was minding my own business (napping on a bench) when 3 young people sat down on the bench across from me.  Turns out they were from FBC Parsons.  I told them that I used to be the Youth Minister at FBC Linden and that is when I met Allie.  Allie asked me “when were you at Linden”?  When she found out that I was there in the mid 90’s she lit up.  She said her mother was at FBC Linden then.  It turns out that I was her mama’s youth minister.  My bro. in law Jeff told me this constitutes a “GRAND YOUTH”.  Although I now felt as old as dirt. .  . I was overjoyed to find out that her mom was in a good church and that she was raising her children in church.  It was a very cool connection.     

Lifeguard Graham:  While floating the Buffalo river with my kiddos I started talking to our lifeguard for the trip.  She looked familiar so I asked her if she had ever attended First Linden.  Turns out that she did.  She was only two years old when we left Linden.  While floating we caught up on all the “goings on” in and around Linden.  It was a good connection.  

Two Brothers Two Youth Ministers Two Audrys Two Cities and a Wedding:  TBC life connects people in many different ways.  Jeff Williamson is my bro-in-law.  He and his best bud Larry Overton are both youth ministers on seperate ends of the state (40 years of expereince between them).  Jeff and and Larry met each other at. . . . CAMP Linden.  Been best friends ever since.  They are now responsible for IMPACT camp and they do a supurb job.  Their two youth ministries have done a lot of events and camps together over the years which brings me to the next connection.  Jeff’s youth group has produced two different Audreys.  Larry’s youth group has produced two brothers (Jordan and Josh).  Audrey#1 and Josh have been married for a while now.  Jordan and Audrey #2 will be married soon.  Here is the cool part.  Josh, Audry #1, Jordan, and Audry #2 are all committed to the Lord.  All 4 of them were at IMPACT camp as staff members, and all 4 minister within thier own congregations.  Where did all of this cross pollination begin?  CAMP LINDEN!   

Our camp pastor:  Robbie Robison.  He is a great guy with a great testimony.  Part of his testimony includes our Camp Linden.  He realized his call to ministry in Linden Valley’s Tabernacle.  Robie travels all over the United States sharing the Gospel and encourageing teenagers. . . and all of that began at camp.

I will always remember Linden Valley because I got to lead my youngest son to the Lord there.  He accepted Christ sitting in room #4 of Whipporwill cabin on July, 8 2011. 

Ministries launched.  Friendships forged.  Wedding bells rung.   Camp ministry is a very important cog in the wheel of what God is doing in TBC life.  I would encourage you to visit either of our fantastic conference centers and utilize them for ministry.  Click here to learn more!   

Spent a week worshiping with young people at IMPACT camp.   I am grateful to have been a part of it.  I am proud of the fact that our Tennessee Baptist Convention cares enough to invest in camp ministry.  I am prayerful that the “Declarations” that have been made at camp will, by faith, turn into deeds.   

Some characteristics of the Students I encountered this week:

They are Hungry for truth.

They respond to the satisfaction that comes from the bread of life.

They are uninhibited by our traditions.

They are unrestrained by our religion.

They are unimpressed by our buildings and programs.

They are unmotivated by our words but are stirred to action by His. 

They are untested.  The tests will come.  They will pass some and they will fail some.  Don’t write them off when they fail.  They need your experience to guide them along their journey of faith.  They need your encouragement.   They will need your admonishment at times.  They need you to answer theological questions that are beyond their understanding.  They need you to prod them by your godly EXAMPLE.  You will be tempted to guide them back into the trap of religiosity. . . . Don’t!  You will be tempted to temper their radicalization for Christ. . .  Don’t!  You will be tempted to mold them into your image or the image of your denomination. . . Don’t!   

Oh, wouldn’t it be great if the worship I witnessed in these young hearts translated into the revival we adults have been praying for?

I have been reminded in the past couple of weeks that God’s people have a high calling and that we must follow Him on His terms.   For example:  Carrying out the Great Commission while we compromise our integrity and character is not God’s agenda for us.   The highest and purest goals can be soiled through low living.   Doing the right thing the wrong way brings reproach on the process and the product.

Many of you have requested the video we produced for Sue Call’s celebration service.  So here you go:

This is Cottage Grove’s redneck missionary to Puerto Rico.  I thank God for him!

Today is my bride’s birthday.  She continues, after an undisclosed amount of years, to capture my heart every day.  She deserves to receive great and awesome gifts today. . . and yet I know that she will give today far more than she will receive.  The picture below is just one of those gifts.  She is an extraordinary photographer.  I get to relive moments like the one pictured below because she has photographed and documented almost every event in our lives.  When I forget how blessed I am I began flipping through the mountain of photographs that my wife has taken.  We will celebrate her birthday today but I am the one who has been blessed by the preacher’s wife.         

I like things that come in two’s:  Two shoes.  Two scoops of ice cream.  Two lumps of sugar in my coffee.  Now. . . my Bedda Boo comes in at two. 

43 kids.  2000 eggs.  100 future cavities.  Last week our church invited our community (a function of ACROSS TN) to our Easter egg hunt and to our Easter worship service.  result: 4 new families came today with their children to hunt eggs and hear the REAL Easter story.