The place was very conducive for achieving our goal. It displayed a glorious landscape of lushful greens and refreshing bodies of water. Sights like this remind me that there really is a God who is able to carve the mountains and dig the valleys, who can pour water on places for fruit bearing trees to grow.
We arrived there a few minutes before 3:00PM last Sunday (April 25). We dressed up for the night's big event: MYSTERY PARTY! We all had to portray a certain character. I was dressed as Claudia Shiftey. I was supposed to be a blondie dressed in a tight fitted dress. A beauty queen, an author, a singer - one of the suspects. But guess what, I wore a chongsam and a tinee-winee crown on my head. Had to work with the resources I have at home. Other portrayals include a cop, a waitress, a talk show host, a princess, a warrior, a pirate, a latino and many more. See how creativity came to play in the game.
The schedule for the following days started at 6:30AM when we had our devotions. On day 2 we talked about the cause of bearing fruit, which is through the disciplining of the Father ("He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit") and cleansing through God's word ("He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful"). What is the fruit (Note: not fruits)? It is to behave, to become and to be burdened like Jesus. It is to glorify God. I learned from here, that sometimes what gets cut off is not just our sins, but also the good things in life. In gardening, the gardener (God) cuts off even the branches with healthy green leaves because these can take away the nutrients needed by the most important part of the plant which is its fruit. Good things are not necessarily the best things in life. Work may be good, owning cars are also not bad, but if these take your focus from God, from your family, then it's most likely probable for these 'good' things to be taken away.
As the branches we should always remain in the Vine (Jesus Christ), and the Vine should remain in us, to bear fruit. This is to have 'close fellowship' with the Vine through prayer, Bibly Study, obedience, drawing close to God.
After devotion we had our breakfast, and then we sang songs. Singing lines like these "Jesus, I believe in You and I would go to the ends of the earth, to the ends of the earth" or "Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing You praise.." brought tears to my eyes. And I am still not admitting that I'm 'iyakin'. It's the songs that moved me (hehe).
In today's first module, we discussed some of the broad themes in the Christian life: GRACE, ELECTION, CALLING and FAITH. Initially, I though "Oh my, the start of a nose-bleeding experience." Good thing our speaker has a gift in teaching and is blessed with a sense of humor. He made all 'meaty food' clear and interesting.
GRACE: unmerited favor / undeserved favor. This is getting the benefit you don't deserve.
MERCY: not getting what you deserve.
JUSTICE: getting what you deserve.
I liked what he said about ELECTION. He said "All your trials, weaknesses won't change your DESTINY." If you have been saved through Christ through Faith, then you are already saved! God chose us before there even was a world. All those He knew that would believe in Jesus Christ.
CALLING is the act of grace by which God invites men to accept by faith the salvation provided by Christ. We are called to be saved, called to be saints, called to be holy. The speaker shared with an the illustration of a bee. An average bee makes a teaspoon of honey in a lifetime. And if we are called to make that little honey, hopefully our response is "Yes God, I'll do my best."
In the afternoon, we had SPEED UP! activity. It's a very well prepared Amazing Race with 16 creatively designed stops. According to my cousin who was the game master, it won't be as physically challenging as before. There would be more intellectual and strategic challenges. True, there were stops that let us count, guess, memorize, and even rest . But we had to run all around the resort. And guess what? I still have muscle pains up until now (2 days later)!
This picture was taken during the 10 min. compulsory break time right after the "planting" stop where we had to run 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 whole court.
When evening came, we watched this short tear-jerking video. It's about a Father's love for his Son and a bridgemaster's love for the people in the train.
Today's devotion was about treasuring the word of God more than the daily bread, treating it as something more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. It is a very yummy (satisfying) milk for newborn babies and solid meat for mature believers. It has the power to encourage, to reveal the inner character and to guide us how to live a godly life.
We also had seminars for the past two days. I attended Angels and Demons yesterday and Minor Doctrines today. I learned that there are no such things as ghosts, only angels and demons. They have different ranks, these include: angels of the Lord (representatives), commanders, seraphims, cherubims, messengesr, ministering beings, fighters (legions), destroyers. They are also to be judged by God and men. I still have no idea how.
We wrapped the day up with the "Testimony Night." The campers were divided into teams and were tasked to answer four questions. We shared how we were before we accepted Christ, how we got to know Him and what changed in us after. We also shared our learnings from the camp. I realized how bonded my team (red) was when Bro. Eric told us we even ate the garlic he spat out. (Sigh, if I only knew! :P) Had a fruitful sharing with them. Go red team!
Today was a tearful day esp. when I heard stories of my fellow campers. I was amazed at how God has been evident and faithful in their lives. All glory be to God!
Finally, the TOP day! Our devotion compared the disastrous kind of life and the delightful kind of life. The disastrous life is one that heeds to the sinful nature of men, one that undertakes "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.." Good thing that believers who live a sinful lifestyle are still being disciplined. Just like how a loving father does to a child. They are accountable to their actions and will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
The delightful life is one that lives by the Spirit that gives victory over the sinful nature. Living by the Spirit is a habitual conduct that allows an indwelling Holy Spirit to fill us everyday. (Filling means to be controlled by the Lord or yield to the Lord.) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22). The Christian character is the fruit of the Spirit, not by mere moral discipline or trying to live by law.
Pstr. Joe Mauk did a very interesting TOP show. He says that the string represents our faith, the anchor (at the end of the string which he holds on his index finger) is Jesus Christ and the knot at the end that ties loose ends of the string is the Bible. We are the top and we cannot move unless there is a relationship between the top spinner (God) and the top (us). The top needs faith, Jesus Christ and Bible to link the spinner and the top.
He introduced us to his tops. There's Wobbly Wobber who can't be counted on because its center is round, so it spins all around the place. It's center is not on Jesus. There's also Pessimistic Pete who is a little top with a big complaint. Some people complain a lot when God works on them and shapes their lives so they can be stronger and more refined. There's also Strawberry who spins well and is led to heaven (through a magnet).
He also showed us a very small top made of Caury Tree.
What he thought was not important, became the model for his biggest top. Sometimes, he said, we may feel that we are a nobody, that we are not making a difference in this world, but if we allow our lives to be a model for God, God can make things come out from us. It doesn't matter how we look, where we come from, as long as we have faith, that's all that counts.