Blessing Service, World Prayer Broadcast, and Letters to God

14 Aug

Blessing Service
At CFO, time is set aside for a blessing service. Although done differently at each camp, the result is the same. This is an opportunity to pray a blessing over each other, as it is God’s desire to speak to and bless his people.

Webster says that “To bless is the act or words of one that blesses with approval or encouragement.” To bless someone leads to happiness and a sense of wellbeing, to be used by God in the blessing does the same for the giver. It is possible that God will give a word of encouragement or possibly direction at this time. Matt. 18:18 says, I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and Luke 6:28 exhorts us to Bless those who persecute you. We are called to bless one another and to speak blessings, not curses. We should take every opportunity to receive God’s blessing and to impart God’s blessing to everyone.

World Prayer Broadcast
The World Prayer Broadcast gives us opportunity “To cast or scatter in all directions”, “To scatter or sow over a broad area” and “To make public”, the prayers of God for His people and His world.

In Acts 1:8, it says, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  Philippians 4:6-7 states, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  We must be concerned (not worry) about, pray for and seek God’s will for the world. We can not keep this to ourselves. It is our duty, our calling and our command.

Our baptism demands “going into all the world”. We are baptized into a life and ministry of servant-hood to the world. Christ defined “going into all the world”, when he showed us how to love the unlovely and touch the untouchable and care for the undeserving. Our spirit demands “going into all the world”. In view of what Christ did for us, what other response can there be? The World Prayer Broadcast is our opportunity to call on God to impart His blessing to the world and deal with world issues.

Letters to God
A letter to God should be encouraged at every camp. This is a special tool that God has given us and has blessed those who have used it over the years. Take a piece of paper and actually write a letter to God. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to respond to your letter. Turn your paper over and write God’s response. Put the letter in an envelope, seal it and address it to yourself.   These letters, written at camp, are never read by anyone else but are placed in the mail at some point in the future. You will be amazed at the timing of the letter’s arrival and the words that God has for you at that time.

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Prayer and Prayer Groups

1 Aug

Prayer is the center of CFO. Everything we do should be done in prayer. Every part of our day should be spent in prayer. Prayer groups in CFO are the times we gather with a few others in silence, in praise and in prayer for the needs of each person. This is not a time to fix a person’s problems or give advice. It is a time to pray.

Do not be afraid of silence. It is not necessary for someone to be speaking at all times. Do not hesitate to share your needs but keep your story short and current. Since there is a limited time, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to share and we have adequate time to pray. A good rule of thumb is to spend more time praying than talking. A prayer group is a safe place. This is a place where we should be able to speak freely and openly about whatever is on our heart. What people share in a prayer group should be kept in complete confidence and never mentioned outside the group.

Webster calls prayer an address to God in word or thought. “An address” sounds a bit impersonal. I like to think of it in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we talk to God with the realization that he is the Creator of the Universe and we are greatly humbled. Sometimes we approach God as our only source of provision and as our only hope. It is as if we are on our face as a poor man looking for a meal. Then there are those days when we curl up in Abba’s lap and pour out our heart to him as our Daddy, our Father.

1 Peter 4:7-8 says, The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, Pray continually.  Jesus told the disciples to Watch and pray so you do not fall into temptation. and Ephesians 6:18 says, Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

The application here is pretty clear. We are called to pray in all ways at all times, as if our lives depend on it.
Our lives should be a constant prayer.

Resting

19 Jul

Rest time in CFO, also called horizontal hour, has often been treated as nap time or skipped altogether to run an errand or have a meeting. Rest time is intended as a time to get quiet and alone with God. This is a time to just listen and let God minister to you all alone. If you take this time to get alone and quiet and you find that you have fallen asleep, let it happen. God can minister to you as you sleep. Remember, God gives rest to the weary.

Rest is defined as “freedom from activity or labor and peace of mind or spirit, free of anxieties”. This sounds heavenly.

Genesis 2:2-3 tells us by the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Psalm 37:7 says, Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;” and Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

Sometimes we need to stop. We need to rest. We need to take time to hear God and sense His presence and His leading. Having a rest time does not mean a time of sleep each day, it means a time of freedom from activity or labor.

Meals

17 Jul

Meals at camp are a wonderful time of fellowship and sharing. Hopefully when coming to a meal, an experienced CFOer will find a new CFOer to eat with and take the time to get to know them. Meals are different at each camp, depending on how the facility is run, so care should be taken to help newcomers figure out what they are to do.

I think we know what Webster would say about this, but just to be clear, I will mention it that means to “take in through the mouth, ingest, chew and swallow, or to enjoy eagerly or avidly.”

In Scripture, we find that Jesus feeds the people. We know that he ate the Passover meal with friends and family and he also ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus knew that this was a good time to share good food and good conversation.

When we eat properly, our bodies are healthy. When our bodies are healthy, our minds and emotions are healthy. When all parts of our person are healthy, we make better decisions. Food is not a bad thing, but too much (or bad food) is not good. Meals should not be skipped, unless fasting for a time of prayer and we should never get to the point where meal time is unimportant. Meal time is a good time to fellowship or if alone, to relax and be thankful to God for His provision. Food is a gift from God and should be treated as such.

Creatives

9 Jul

God has done some wonderful and amazing things in people, through the Creatives session in CFO. It is done in a variety of ways, but the most common are Creative Writing and Creative Art. Generally a scripture or theme is presented to the group and materials, such as paper, pens, chalk, paints, clay or other media are distributed. Each person gets quiet before God and allows Him to begin to work in their heart. As the person begins to draw or write, God will reveal a word or truth that is needed for this person or maybe someone else in the group. At the end of the session, people are encouraged to share what they did and what God revealed to them. Some CFO events have used Creative Drama, Nature, Conversation, Music and others.

Webster says that creativity is to bring into existence, to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior and to produce through imaginative skill.

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth-all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.  Gen 1:1-2. Genesis 1:27 says that God made man in his image and later we are told that God looked at everything he made and said it was good.

God liked creating and enjoyed his creation and we should too. Do we use our imaginations or do we let the TV, videos, movies, video games do it for us? Reading uses our imagination, but even that is a form of creativity that is already done for us. Spend time writing in a journal, making up a song, drawing or painting. Many of us probably do not even know what our potential is. We need to take time to use the talents God has given us and create something. We are a society of consumers, which is what got us into financial trouble. Stop just consuming and create something.

Rhythms or Devotion in Motion

25 Jun

Rhythms, sometimes called Devotion in Motion, is probably the hardest to describe. As Christians, we need to have some deliberate and continuous habits of worship, yet prayer and worship does not have to be the same old, same old all the time. Pray and worship in dance. Pray and worship in stillness, in song and in action. Use your whole body, mind and soul. Use them all at once. Pray and worship by yourself, or with small groups and with the larger body of Christ. Through motion, patterns and songs, you can go through a series of worshipful activities that will stretch and work your body and soul.

Webster says that rhythm is an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech. He says that it is movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements. This sounds elegant.

Scripture shows us that God is a God of rhythm. 1 Kings 8:58,  May he (God) keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors.  Jeremiah 5:24-25, How can we honor our GOD with our lives, The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?

Rhythms/Devotion in Motion is a great opportunity to learn to follow direction. Coordinating a group of individuals to learn a song and a pattern of movements, in a short amount of time can be a challenge. A good leader will get the group under control, give the directions and still leave time for meaningful worship. A good participant will watch, listen and follow the directions, even if they do not make complete sense to start with. During all of this, the participant will also be able to allow God to work and speak.

I have heard it said that there are no spectators in rhythms and we should move what still moves. In the same way, there are no spectators in life and we should do what we can with what God has given us to be rhythmic in our love and interaction with others.

The Talk

22 Jun

A CFO talk is a message. It is not meant to be a sermon, but a testimony of what God has done in the speaker’s life. What has God taught you through the Bible and the body of believers? We must not remain silent. We must teach, preach, encourage, exhort and rebuke. Everyone has a story and can talk about what God has done. We must listen and learn from those whom God has placed in authority and we must find opportunities to tell our story.

Webster defines talk as the use of language for conversing or communicating, to influence, affect or cause, by talking and to convey information or communicate by any means.

2 Timothy 4:1-5, In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. So that your days and the days of your children will be in the land that the Lord swore to give to your forefathers.

In Titus 2:11-15, we read, For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

How are we going to know the good things that God is doing if we do not listen and how are others going to be encouraged if we do not share? This is never a time to promote political or denominational views or perspectives. Some of these perspectives may come out in the form of the speaker’s personality and interpretation of scripture, but should never be the purpose of the talk. Because we all have different gifts, perspectives and spiritual gifts, we can’t do this alone.

Life as a Christian is a cooperative effort.

Morning Meditation

5 Jun

I can not document this, but if I had to guess, Morning Meditation is the least attended activity at CFO. I like to compare it to morning medications. Any nurse can tell you that the morning medications are vital to getting a good start to the day. You would never skip your medication, so you should never skip your meditation. Glenn Clark’s plan was to have a reader slowly read small portions of scripture to the group. The listeners would consider what was read and let God point out a word or phrase that was key. The reader would read the passage again and, this time, the listener would silently “say” it along with the reader. During a period of silence, the listeners would let God speak to them about the passage and then another scripture would be read. Morning Meditation can also be done with quiet music or a song, but the reading of scripture is always involved.

Webster defines Meditation as “engaging in contemplation or reflection, focusing one’s thoughts on, reflecting on or pondering over. Engaging in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness and to plan or project in the mind.”

Genesis 24:63 tells us that “He (Isaac) went out to the field one evening to meditate…” so we know that this is not a new concept. Psalm 1:1-2 encourages us by letting us know that,  “Blessed is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord, day and night.” The Message Translation says, “Chews on scripture day and night.” Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think  about such things.” The Messages uses meditate and The New American Standard Version uses dwell.

What do we start our day thinking about? What is the first thought that comes to mind? The way we start our day has significant bearing on the whole day. There is a song on the radio that reminds us to pray before our feet hit the floor. When my day starts with a thought about a tough situation I am faced with or thinking a negative thought about someone, it forces thoughts about God out of my head.   Keeping God at the forefront of our thoughts allows us to get unhealthy and sinful thoughts under control. Beginning the day in meditation about God takes a conscious effort and a deliberate plan.

Debt Free Lives, Part 3

20 Apr

(continued from Debt Free Lives, Part 2)
God was serious about payment of sin debt and we seem to know this. We sing about  it with all the gusto and conviction we can muster:

– “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound… I once was lost, but now am found… Was blind, but now I see…”  Then WHY do we stay lost and blind?
– In Christ Alone – vs 3 “Up from the grave He rose again! And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me for I am his and he is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ!”  Sin has lost it’s grip, but we do not always want to let go.
– “Give us Clean Hands, give us pure hearts…..” , with the option to dirty them later?
– “The Power of Your Love… Let my heart be changed renewed. Living everyday by the power of your love.” . But only when it is comfortable and certainly not on the weekends?
– “Made To Worship… We are forgiven and free. When we embrace surrender and choose to believe then we will see who we were meant to be.”

We know the truth. We speak the truth. We just do not always live it.

We know that God has made provision for us when we sin. John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  What we need to grasp is that God has also made provision for us to live holy lives. Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us the battle plan, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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.”

We must never get the idea that we can somehow work for our salvation or earn our own freedom, but we must take an active role in the grace plan that God has given us. If we decide that we are just going to live like the world and then cash in our “Get our of Jail Free” card at the end of the game, we are missing out on the abundant life that God has for us and we have not taken seriously the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our salvation. The true revelation of what Jesus did for us should drive us to our knees in humble worship and should drive us to a life of obedience. As James 1:22 explains, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

We want to have a life of faith. We want the abundant life and a life that is free and full of joyful obedience.  We can all say, “Yes! This is what we want”, but we find it so hard to live it everyday. As CFOers, I think we can agree that are able to do pretty good at CFO and maybe a few days following, but then we slip back into the normal routine and trappings of life. We forget what we have learned or we have not learned it well. CFOers have a unique tool to help in the journey to live the life that God calls us to live. This does not mean that CFOers are perfect or that the program is a magical formula to make our lives perfect. It simply means that this is a good tool or road map to help us run the race set before us, as Paul describes it. It makes me think of a Swiss Army knife. It can do many jobs, but alone, it will not fix the car. CFO is a tool that will help us do many jobs, but it won’t give us salvation. Only God can to that.

Debt Free Lives, Part 2

19 Apr

(continued from Debt Free Lives, Part 1)
Having identified sin for what it is and the virtual impossibility of change, what is the point of change and how dare we imply that change is possible? The fact is that living a sin free life is not a concept that is new with this book. God clearly stated, way back in Leviticus 11:44 and many other places, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”  It says in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” If God said it, there must be a way. Right?

Romans 6:1-18 addresses the idea of fighting the desire and temptation to sin, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

“Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

“Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.”  (New Living Translation)

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