(Carol Malan has very kindly created these notes to summarise the 5 sessions of the camp)
Session # 1 The opportunity of right now. Luke 16:14-31 (A video message)
What do I remember of the message?
* I recall that ‘richness’ for the Pharisees equated to ‘righteousness’. And that kind-of- meant that the (poor) man who was covered in sores, was unrighteous, and ‘bad’.
* I remember that there was a right time for the ‘poor man’ and there was a time when it was too late for the Pharisee, and for his five brothers.
* Right Now is when to act.
* I was challenged that I ALREADY know who ‘my person/or opportunity’ will be, in witnessing or serving, or loving. Just do it.
* If I have received God’s redemption/forgiveness and I have a testimony to my walk, and experience with my Saviour, then I have something to share with the lost. One at a time.
* I can pray for him/her. Now.
* I can witness to him/her.
* I can encourage him/her—this ‘nameless one’ who I already know!!
* Don’t put it off. Do the disciple-thing wherever the chance is for me.
* Don’t delay. The time is Now.
* Blessed, to be a blessing: time, interest, care, prayer, love and spoken witness.
Example, with tongue in cheek: “If only I’d bought those Ford shares when they were down around $1.00 each! Their worth today would have bought me a house on a golf estate, and a boat, and a trailer, and a vehicle to tow it all. But I missed the NOW opportunity with Ford! And it is the SAME in God’s Kingdom.”
Session # 2 Commitment Romans 12 (Ten point plan)
- I will offer myself as a living sacrifice.
- I will no longer conform to the pattern of this world. (Beware the power of this world when you consider this.)
- I will seek to live my life according to God’s pattern and will. (Remember the lady who kept throwing her stick up and wanting it to fall and point to the way she wanted go? And she got mad because it didn’t ever point to ‘her’ way.)
- I will live with a God-honouring view of myself, using my (God-given) gifts to His service.
- I will play my part as a member of God’s family. I have a part to play—as in a symphony orchestra where each instrument is brilliant and different but together they are awesome. When we talk ‘gifts’ ours are all different. Play YOUR part and minister for the glory of God, and also for building up the body of Christ.
- I will devote myself to loving God and loving people. ‘Honour’ each other. (This honour word is a lovely word which means ‘red-carpet-honouring’. That they feel that special, and that they are loved.) We serve from a place of spiritual fervour.
- I will use my tongue to bless, not curse ‘my’ people. Even if they let me down. Bless: do not curse. Pray for them that God gives them blessing and grace.
- I will not build barriers between myself and others. There are also emotional barriers that exist here. But I will rejoice with others. And mourn with them. We are reminded that this can be a roller-coaster ride on us but that we do it in order to be closer, whether that is between family; racial conflict, prejudices: any walls that exist between us and ‘our’ others.
- I will speak peace, not revenge. I will leave justice in God’s hands. God will pay back revenge when He has to. It is not for me to be angry or revengeful. I leave justice to God.
- I will treat my enemy with dignity: overcoming evil with good. Not adding my hate on top of hate, but rather showing increasing love towards hate i.e. give food to the hungry, and water to the parched.
The most powerful thing in a church is that the members love one another. Others will look and will ‘know us, based on how we love one another…’
I will not build barriers between myself and others.
Session # 3 Perspective Romans 12:1-8
“If you change the way things look to you, you will gain a whole new perspective.”
Certainly, we each have our own perspective. Yes. But it is the Bible that must form our perspective. The Bible has got it. It’s the Word. It’s the Spirit of Truth.
Three types of perspective:
- Perspective of WORSHIP. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices, pleasing to God. We give our on-going submission to following Him; giving our hearts, lives, minds, our all to Him. Being a follower of Christ puts you in hard places.
We learn about renewing our minds… darkened by sin (Rom. 1:28) … wicked thoughts, evil imagination, defiled, empty minds, worthless. We need to change our minds (or let God change our minds from a place when our minds are far from God).
In I Cor.2:14 we have the mind of Christ. And the indwelling of His Spirit. So, with this mind of Christ we can determine the value of other ways and we can reject our perspective of ‘this world’. In Christ we become transformed believers in transformed churches!
We gain a new perspective of ‘self’. We make an honest evaluation: an honest evaluation, that says: I am who I am by the grace of God. And pride disappears (minimizes) because an inflated view of self is very dangerous for the soul. Some in the body of Christ are strong, some weak, some struggling with choices, decisions etc. We, who are called to help one another ‘according to the measure/amount of faith that God has given you.’ (v.6), must accept the one whose faith is still weak.
- Perspective of THE CHURCH. What makes up a healthy Church?
- Faithful co-operation. (A body with many parts all serving the body where each one is different.)
- Love another!!
- Work together under the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.
- Individual participation. We all have gifts and we must get into the game with our gifts, and participate.
- The lordship of Jesus and the priesthood of all believers.
Here we are back with the ‘symphony orchestra’ again: all different in experience, families of origin, parents, cultural ideas, education etc.
When we are all playing that piece of glorious music each player has to know that:
I serve Him whole-heartedly…
… knowing that He is the Head of the Church.
Session # 4 Welcome Romans 12:9-13 (only 4 verses, but what a message!)
“I will devote my life to loving God, and loving people.”
Loving people requires gracious giving. And gracious giving makes a huge eternal impact.
We all have these moments–and not one, but many moments in our lives. Conversion is one and perhaps a taxi driver who went out of his way to help get petrol could be another. When we remember them we see them in the light of ‘Love your God and love your neighbour as yourself’. Foot-washing was something defining that Jesus did, and we must do as He did. His sacrificial death was a defining thing, and we must do as He did. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” is what He said.
Love one another! Am I loving God with everything I have?? Intellect, brain, soul; completely? Do I love others?? I must do this though there are people I like and those I don’t like. I must devote my life to loving God—and loving people. Wow.
The Church body has to be defined by Love. Practical ways to follow this …
- Grace-filled love. When we recognise God’s grace in our own life (the people who took you aside and helped you stand firm when you wobbled): now YOU have to do the same with others who need grace-filled love, devoted to one another: sacrificial love, and sometimes having to speak into their situations. Sacrificial. That vision of a little 5 year old brother giving his blood for his sick sister. When am I going to die, Mommy? he asked. Agape love: sacrificial love. There are things we are called on to sacrifice on behalf of love. Not necessarily my life, but something that I have to give. We have to do some practical action in order to do this loving properly.
- God-honouring service. Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Stand firm. Always give yourself FULLY in this service. Vs 11/12: Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. Let your hope keep you joyful, patient in your troubles, and pray at all times … because of Jesus. We overcome affliction because of Jesus. We keep our joy, zeal, love … because of Jesus.
- Share in generous giving with those in need. Not “when my ship comes in, I’ll …”
No. God asks us to give generously. Spontaneous giving, is when I am prompted and must respond. And strategic giving is in terms of a plan or a programme. Like tithing in Malachi. Or by a planned support to make a difference to, say, retired pastors.
- Give to the poor and needy e.g. through a Trust which will channel the distribution of funds. Needs of missionaries, for example, can be provided by a Trust over time. That’s looking inward, but now we must also look outwards and see how we can make ‘a generous contribution’ and experience the liberating power of giving!
- Genuine hospitality. Strangers and angels unaware. Practice hospitality. Persue hospitality. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Do it in a way that allows others into your space. Often it is not easy and we still do it willingly even if it’s a messy character or a bad situation. Honour people with the ‘red-carpet’ word. Practice spontaneous hospitality and strategic hospitality too, as in giving (d) above.
How do we do this at SBBC?
Get together and make a plan in the congregational sense—for those who are out there: alone, broken, disconnected in a world that is connected. There are those who are lost, lonely and full of heartache. Their desperate need is for a loving touch; perhaps a meal is what they need. Just do what you must.
Session # 5 Counter Cultural Romans 12:14-21 (Read it!)
I am called to be counter cultural. ‘You hit me, so I’m going to hit you. Harder.’
It’s not like that. This is a call to bless and not to curse. It’s a call to harmony (congruence). It’s a call to ‘leave room for God’.
You get news that someone has made plans that harms you, e.g. someone has connived you out of a business transaction. Your reaction is real. You feel angry, angry, angry, but you remember ‘Do not curse. Bless.’ How counter cultural is that?
A quote: ‘I will not let any man lower myself…by hating him’. Do onto others what you would have them do unto you. Turn the other cheek (though there is a place when evil must be held accountable.) We are called to do things differently, and to respond differently.
It’s okay for me if something awful is done to me, but when someone touches my loved ones and damages them it’s much harder for me to be nice to the offender. Yet, the Bible asks us to pray for and bless the one who hurt us. We must find love, patience, kindness, wisdom, compassion: Your love, Lord Jesus. Your patience. Your kindness. Your wisdom. Your compassion, Lord Jesus.’ So instead of us reacting, we should respond by taking it to Jesus for His patience, wisdom, courage, kindness; and congruence (harmony). Do not go with your own sense of hurt pride. Deal with it in peace, not in revenge. Do not repay anyone with vengeance. Do right. Don’t give others ‘a reason to dislike you.’
Rom 12 vs.18 The message is: Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody —‘as much as it depends on you’. Make sure you aren’t part of the problem: rather, leave room for God. Sometimes it’s about accountability, yes, but do not take revenge and do not retaliate. Vs. 19: ‘…instead let God’s anger do it.’ He knows how to do wrath. It’s His revenge. But we, who have been hurt, need to let go of an incredible amount of trust sometimes in order to let God do His part. If we react our way, we usually mess it up and we might hurt innocent people by our clumsiness. Also, we may block the work of God in someone’s life. Vengeance is God’s speciality. He knows how to do it.
But, if my enemy is hungry or thirsty, I am asked to give him what he needs though it is not at all what I feel I want to do. We must reason a situation through in our predicament. If I make a mistake in how I handle it then my response can lead to a legacy of hatred (for family as an example) instead of to a legacy of grace; love; and mercy. We don’t have to pretend to understand this behaviour. We just have to move on. Forgive. Treat with love and with dignity. This process can take time … and feelings will still be hurting, but we can learn to say to the one who caused us pain: ‘I want to thank you. I know it hurt me, but thank you for the forgiveness you bring to my life.’
The reality of the thing is that…really the only important thing…is that the relationship is healthy in the end: and that there is gratitude despite all the hurt.
This is not easy emotional work but remember that revenge destroys a life. Vs. 21: Do not let evil defeat you. Conquer and overcome evil with good.
You will have to ask God for His wisdom, folks. Amen