The Barefoot Summer

The Barefoot Summer

Monday, January 6, 2014

Camp Oak Hill

Hey y'all I just wanted to steal a few moments of your time to tell you about a place. A place that is filled with most of all filled with Christ! That place is Camp Oak Hill.

                                          (Photo by Jeff Basey)

I had the opportunity last summer to work there as a counselor, and it's an experience that grew me in so many ways and brought so much joy into my life. But while there was amazing, talented, and loving people that worked there, and crazy, exciting kids that came every week, and random hilarity and adventures constantly happening, that wasn't the point of camp...Because every single person that worked there was a broken sinner, and every single kid that came there was a broken sinner. You see what that point of camp was and the thing that made it so amazing, was the simple reality that God was there, and He was present, and He moved in and He changed the hearts of people....for eternity. And honestly that was the simple prayer that I prayed all leading up to camp, and throughout my time there, "God be HERE, and let this be a summer the echos for ETERNITY!"

So I was reading through all of the stuff I wrote while I was at camp and wanted to share some of it with you, they are in no particular order, I know some of them are long, but they were my prayers and conversations with God this summer so bare with me!  (keep in mind I wrote most of this with kids climbing all over me, so please pardon in grammar mistakes and such)

"Fill this place Father, we need you" 

"God, I can't even describe yesterday, other than that you are good and you are HERE! ...that excites me and just to see and hear each counselor praying for each other and crying out to you was simply beautiful." 

God, last night listening to all of the people affirming and encouraging and building up each other for this summer, I think it is a testament to how you have, by your grace and love chosen this place to reign down your love upon us."

"You are powerful God, its crazy how I have already been able to see you working here in my life and others... we have experienced the power and love of your Spirit coming into this place and its intoxicating, God thank you, thank for the joy that you have filled this place with" 

"Father help me love these kids, be with and comfort all of the homesick kids that we have in our cabin, wrap your loving arms around them and lead them, grow them in strength and constantly remind them of who you are, be real to them." 

"Its the last day of this session, and my heart is smiling, God you have been so very present here, and it continues to blow my mind what happens to place and the people in that place when you are there. You have been working in the conversations that have been happening, in the devotions each night, in bible study with the other counselors, and in the closing campfire when the kids where sharing how they saw You, how they heard You, and how they experienced You! And the answers that they were sharing were real, they were honest, they were from you, God those kids encountered I real and loving Creator this week, and that is glorious."  

"Each time we are cleaning cabins at the end of the week I am continually reminded that you have a plan, and that it is no accident the relationships that were formed, and the campers you brought here. let your glory be heavy in their lives, and be a tangible father to each one of them, they need you Father, we all need you Father."

"God I want this be a summer that echos for eternity! And yet I know in order for that to happen the other staff and I are going to have to die to ourselves... We are going to have to live sacrificially and be abundant in real joy and happiness and love and care and kindness, and acceptance, and grace, and energy and enthusiasm and it all has to be true and real and we cannot fake it! God it HAS to all come from YOU, because without you and your power we will do nothing of any real value this summer... but the thing that excites me so much is that you are HERE! and you are real to us and moving in our hearts, God we need you so much this summer so be with us and sustain us!" 

Reading all of this led me to do some reflecting about the summer it was an incredible experience, one that pushed me to my limits, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I am so utterly thankful for that. Because what I (and I think most other people as well) didn’t realize going in was that while you will be pouring into and investing in kids lives, seeing walls broken down, their hearts being molded around Jesus, joy being a beautiful, tangible, and constant expression…that if you let God work that each one of those things would happen to you, many times over!
The more that I have reflected and prayed the more I realized how important what had happened this summer in my faith was, and how much it had impacted the faiths of those around me Because camp is a place where a person interacts and loves on people when they are both pushed to their limits, there is tears and laughter each and every day at camp, and its beautiful because God moving is there and its undeniable, so anyone who ends up there simply gets swept up in the beauty of what He is doing. 

I know that all was a lot, and just a small glimpse at my heart from this summer but I do hope that it encouraged you in some way, and that it excites you how God worked there!  Anyway I would like to encourage those of y'all who are in college to prayerfully consider applying to work at Camp Oak Hill this summer, it would be a great experience, tons of fun, you'll be pushed and grown in so many ways, you'll have dozens of crazy stories, and most of all you'll get to be a small part of the work God is doing and so many people's lives! But it doesn't just have to be at Camp Oak Hill, go to another camp, or on a missions trip, or on a summer project! Whatever it my be that you do, pursue something this summer that will echo for eternity, God will use you, you just have to be willing to go.

Here's one last little quote from this summer at camp, its not mine, but from a dear friend of mine.

"It brought me so much joy when you experienced God for the first time. I remember just smiling and crying with you on the stairs"

If you have any interest in applying to camp then please let me know and I can tell you more about it, or if you have any thoughts or questions about anything I said, I'd love to hear from you!

I'll leave you with one last little bit of camp, I think that its a wonderful expression of a tiny bit of the joy that was present this summer!

Monday, May 13, 2013

We Are Far Too Easily Pleased...

I guess you could say this post has been a long time has been almost a year since my last post, and honestly I don't know what moved me to finally write it all out and put words to these thoughts that have been tickling my mind over the past few months.  But here it is, the random bunny trails of my mind!

We are far too easily pleased...

So often we feel some sort of conviction in a sermon...
or come across something profound in our reading...
yet we only give it a few moments of our attention...
let it entertain our thoughts for a fleeting second...
then just move on to the next thing that catches our fancy...
entertained by so many different things...
the myriads of little thoughts all vying for our attention...
we are so content letting our minds be filled with trivial musings...
skipping from one daydream to another...
constantly absorbed on insignificant contemplations...

What if we were...different. I mean if you think about it, that is what we as Christians are called and instructed to be different from this world! (1 Peter 2:9, 1 Peter 3:15, Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:8-9, Psalm 4:3, John 17:5-8, and more)

So there's obviously there's a dissonance here, but what is it?

Because here we are, sitting, wondering what the next nice thing we can buy is, or planning out our future family, the next destination vacation that we could go on... Now mind you I'm not saying that there's anything inherently wrong with any of those things. God lavishes gifts upon us, just take a moment and think about this. Whether or not we believe in God, we are created in His image, walking, talking, eating, drinking and wearing His stuff. He blesses us with family, friends,  sex, nature, play and a myriad of other different things. For our heavenly Father is a loving father and does care deeply about the state of His children. And as a result the only true way we can actually enjoy God's good gifts and pleasures the way they're designed to be enjoyed is to be oriented around Jesus, and having our satisfaction tied only to Him. But we have taken these gifted pleasures and twisted them, we have oriented ourselves at the center of them, and tied our satisfaction to them. We get so consumed pursuing these gifts that we lose sight of the reason for these gifts, and the true source of pleasure and satisfaction.

That's when we have a problem.
'We are far too easily pleased
I believe C.S. Lewis says it best in this little phrase from his sermon The Weight of Glory, and for the sake of knowing the context here's more of the paragraph for you.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. 
"We are half-hearted creatures" think about that, isn't it so true? We settle for the pleasures and are content in spending our lives running around after them. And yet something happens to us when being satisfied with these good things, whether they are a big home, beautiful family,  hilarious friends, exotic vacations, successful career, the latest gadget, meeting your favorite celebrity, a championship for your sports team, or highly attractive significant other, the list is endless.

We are cheating ourselves. That's what Lewis is saying. In the pursuit of these meager, earthly pleasures and the short-lived thoughts and feelings of gaining our happiness through them, we are cheating ourselves. Our capacity for true joy is being much so that now many of us can scarcely imagine what is meant by "a holiday at the sea." And this is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking because in effect it lessens our view of God. In all of the hustle and bustle of this modern age, we think so so little, on who God truly is, what His nature is truly like, what His will truly desires, and many more weighty questions. So when we are so preoccupied with the thoughts and ideas of pleasures of this world, in a sense it distracts us from the thoughts and ideas that will echo for eternity.
"What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us" - A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
So what then?
Where does this all mean to us?
And more importantly how can we not be so easily pleased?

Well thankfully Jesus Himself instructs us! In Matthew 6 Jesus is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, and addresses people worrying about various temporal things in their life.
"This is why I tell you: Don't worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothing?" Matthew 6:25
He further instructs them to not worry about all these things (what to wear, eat drink, where to live, etc) because...
"For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." Matthew 6:32
So there are two aspects to this verse. The first talks about pleasures being what the idolaters seek after...they are taking these good pleasures and using them to subvert God in his rightful place in their minds/hearts/lives... the second talks about how our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need. Think about that. God knows what we need (even more so than we do, for He is all-knowing, and we are not) and He is our powerful loving Father, and thus He authors our lives for our eternal good!
All of this leads to verse 33, and in this verse I believe is the answer to that question of "how can we not be so easily pleased?" 
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33 
There you go, seek first the kingdom of God. It's a simple thing to say, its quite another to live day in and day out. But when we do God promises us Himself for eternity, and the joy, excitement, and comfort of that eternal promise of community with our Father far surpasses what any temporal pleasure could offer.
 "they now desire a better place--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:16
In all of this I simply want to encourage you. To take the time this summer and really take a step back and evaluate things. Ask yourself some of these questions...

What is it that I get the most pleasure from?
What is it that consumes my thoughts?
What drives my ideas and actions?
What is really the most important thing day by day to me?
What comes to mind when I think about God?
What is the nature of God?
How can I be constantly growing closer to God?

You may ask, why is it so important to do this? To quote the same A.W. Tozer book,
"The man who comes to a right belief about God is relived of ten thousand temporal problems.

So do it.
Rid yourself of distractions.
Grab a bible, paper, and pen.
Pray for an open and humble heart.
Honestly listen to God.
Become enthralled with the wonder of who He is.
And realize how much you mean to Him.

"O Majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust." 

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:5

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others. they are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing." - C.S. Lewis
This quote got me to thinking back to this past years and all of the amazing friendships God has thrown my way, many of them from completely random and unexpected sources.  Honestly the value of true friendships cannot be underestimated. there is something almost magical about finding others who share some of the same dreams, passions, and loves as you.  Seemingly random people that come into your life,

And change it.

Change it in ways you never expect, they will laugh with you, cry with you, they will point areas of sin in your life, they will then help you overcome that sin, they will encourage you in your faith, they will tease you, they will go on crazy adventures with you, they will talk with you for hours about everything under the sun, they will just share in life with you, there will be high points, there will be low points, they will share their struggles with you, they will push you outside of your comfort zone, they will argue and fight with you, they will forgive you, they will let you learn from your mistakes, they will show you new beauty and truth about God, they will call you names and not really mean it, they will tell you they love and care about you and mean it.

The type of bond between friends cannot really be explained by this world, for as C.S. Lewis (I know I'm quoting him again, he's just that good!) says,
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
Be thankful for your friends, don't take them for granted. Because, while logically you don't really need them, in all truth you do need them, and God has placed each one in your life for a purpose.

Don't ignore that,

God does know what he's doing....

You see it was Jesus that first loved and sacrificed in order be in a relationship with us
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." - John 15:12-15

So take the time for genuine friendship, for through our friendships and love we are called to display for each other that we live out the Gospel

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." - John 13:34-35


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wildwood Summer Project

Wildwood, New Jersey......Treasuring Jesus and Changing the World

My journey towards spending my summer as a part of the Cru Wildwood Summer Project started just under a year ago when I had the life changing opportunity to spend a couple weeks on a missions trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  While in Malaysia I was exposed first-hand to Christianity outside of the United States, and began to truly understand the Gospel as something that the people around the world so desperately need and desire.  I also realized that I myself am personally called to spread the Gospel to the nations.

Fast forward to around January, when I was trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do this summer.  That's when I first started really hearing about summer projects through Campus Crusade for Christ and all of the amazing opportunities that were a part of them.   So as I began to look at the different projects, the one that caught my eye from the very beginning was Wildwood. Wildwood summer project is built around two things, treasuring Jesus and changing the world.  I remember reading the first paragraph on the information page of Wildwood, and almost immediately feeling God start pushing me towards it.

"We are convinced that, as we see Jesus for who he truly is, as our hearts are captivated to worship him more deeply, and as we Treasure Jesus more dearly, we will be compelled to Change the World. We won’t be able to help BUT share the gospel with our friends, to bring justice to the unjust, to redeem the things that are broken, and to, quite literally, change the face of the entire world around us. "

However what makes Wildwood unique as far as summer projects is all the international students there, in fact there's literally thousands of international students that work there over the summer.  That was really the deciding factor for me, because the more I prayed about it the more I realized what an unique and amazing opportunity to both grow my faith as well as share it with people literally from all around the world!  So in late February I submitted my application, and a few weeks letter I was accepted. I  then began the process of preparing myself as well as raising both financial and prayer support. (I'm still doing both and I'd like to ask you to prayerfully consider supporting me! You can view my support letter here and my prayer card here.)

So what will I be doing in Wildwood? Well I will be living in a big house just 2 blocks from the beach with 67 other students just like me.  There's going to be 20 staff members that will be mentoring and leading us through the summer as we grow in our faith.  All of the students are will get jobs along the Wildwood boardwalk, where we will have the chance to interact and share the Gospel with our co-workers (many of which will be international students) we will also be running bible studies, outreaches, events, and a myriad of other things as we try to impact WIldwood, New Jersey and all of the people we come in contact with for God's Kingdom!

And all of that brings me up to where I am now, with just a few more days until I pack up and head to Wildwood for the summer of a lifetime!  So please consider supporting me especially with your prayers, and I will be blogging all the stuff that I experience in Wildwood during this summer, so check back every once and a while to see how God is working!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

And so it begins....

I figured I'd start this all out by explaining why I even have a blog, and what I want this to be.  I am not the most organized person, this is a way I hope write out my thoughts, my memories, my stories, my life.... So this blog will simply be a reflection of parts of my life,
it will be about Jesus for that is what my life is about,
it will be random for I am random,
it will be funny (hopefully) for I am funny (hopefully),
it will be crazy for my life is crazy,
it will be about nature, music, hammocking, sports, adventures, friends, family, struggles, stories, and all of the crazy little bits of life in-between.
oh and it will be about a little more Jesus!

I hope that you will enjoy following along as you experience parts of this adventure I call my life!