TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Christian Camps: A Mighty Tool in the Hands of the Local Church



Sunday School teachers, parents and youth workers often talk to their children about the importance of learning to be a leader. We speak to them often about the need for them to be witnesses to their friends about the love of God and the good news of the Gospel.

The trouble is that we often speak, but seldom show them how it is done.

Christian camping gives us that unique tool, that special time in life when a significant adult relationship in the life of a young man our woman can mean the difference between abundant life now and forever, or just existing now, with no hope for the future.

Imagine a mom/dad or youth worker making each child an offer of going to camp and paying for them and any “non-Christian” friend they invite. Then, they could add to the offer by volunteering to be their counselor and would personally go and talk to the parents of their friend to encourage them to come to camp.

Beyond the obvious, imagine this adult recruiting a high school or college-aged young person from his/her church to be an assistant counselor with them for the week.

With kids, a camp like Silver Birch Ranch (silverbirchranch.org) is an easy sell. There is much to do from whitewater rafting, water-skiing, horses, climbing wall, zip lines, swimming, boating, and more. Yet, the true joy will come as each young person receives uninterrupted time with this adult, and at some time during the week, as he/she places his/her trust in Jesus as his/her Savior.

The adult has accomplished his/her responsibility to model Christianity. The Christian child has learned by example the importance of evangelism, and the young leader learned immense amounts by observing a real mom or dad in action. When they return back home at the end of the week, the guests will want to get involved in the youth group, the adult will begin to plan for the following summer various ways to attract and help more kids get to camp, and the leader-in-training will now think about a life of service to others, rather than to self.

Christian camping is suffering in some ways in that many Christians have lost the idea that founded so many camps, and instead, they have become “consumers” of camps. Often, the Christians arrive early to camp and fight for the best bunk, best cabin, and, well, the best of everything for their child. Camp has become about their pleasure and no longer is seen as a tool. This is tragic and has forced many camps to act in ways that attract consumers rather than challenge them.

At Silver Birch Ranch (silverbirchranch.org) we invite you to take another look at the purposes for Christian camping and encourage your family, children and church to become involved in something that gives real answers to the most pressing problems of our day. Imagine what could happen if groups would begin, once again, to see the power of the “disconnect” that camping affords.

Think of it. What would happen if a youth group challenged every clubber to invite an unsaved friend and made sure the friend was paid for and the counselors from the church were ready and trained? What would happen if a church put an ad in the paper inviting any single mom who had a camp age child a free week at camp, a week the church would pay for and provide a counselor for, and then would have a debriefing with them when the summer was over? What would happen if we made this summer camping thing about them instead of us?

We have a large list of young people who need sponsors, and there are many children in your neighborhood who need a friend who will love them and show them Jesus. Working a specific strategy for Christian camping may be the most significant thing you ever do. Call us at Silver Birch Ranch (715 484-2742) and let us walk you through how you can do this. (Or go to the web site at silverbirchranch.org and download the necessary information.)

We have the tool, but, as any tool, it is worthless unless it is in the hands of one who will wield it. We look forward to serving you this summer.





Saturday, September 2, 2017

Reality?

In most cases, we do not care about the future implications of the trends we enjoy. Many times, we cannot see the future, so we ignore it, and thereby, live our lives out of context. 

There are many technological trends that were major game-changers in life. The telegraph, radio, television, personal computers, internet, and cell phones have transformed the way we live in incredible ways. 

The harnessing of the power from the ground, wind, sun, and atom has made it so that we can have “power” accomplish much of our work for us. 

The results of many of these incredible advancements has been enabled us to leap forward in many areas, yet, as is often the case, new has not always been better

We have increased our speed and capacity to communicate, yet we struggle with communication, and have often reduced and replaced eye-to-eye communication with soundbytes, electronic messages, and emojis. We have power to mow our lawns, move our bodies from one place to another, and keep us updated into the night, and have become lazy, obese and overtired. 

The pretend world has encroached so much on the real world that reality is a blur, and far more attention is given to the make-believe. People learn about life from the television, youtube, or some social media platform, while ignoring the life that is happening around them. 

Pastors and youth workers are told to keep their messages short because people lack the capability of paying attention to real people, real topics, and real presentations. People are able to entertain themselves for hours in the pretend media world, but only minutes in reality. 

Add to this the idea of virtual reality and its Implications for the future, and we see mankind in a whole lot of hurt. We were made to enjoy real relationships with real people doing real work, enjoying real play, and looking at and touching real people. The virtual replacement is a cheap replacement.

This is not new, as there is really nothing new under the sun. Our methods may be new, but the subversive purposes of the evil one remain constant. A relationship with God and with people are the two foundational cornerstones of life, and the virtual world is attempting to satisfy these desires in an unsatisfactory way. 

More people are shaped by the hours of influence the media presents rather than the minutes of influence they have given to God and to each other. Spiritual anorexia (the taking in of truth only to rid oneself of it so as not to actually be affected by it) is prevalent in many young people, while spiritual obesity (the consumption of spiritual food only to do nothing with the spiritual calories obtainedis the struggle of the old.

Substituting the pretend for the real is a problem. Lives are in existence, but people are not living. The portrayal by “others” of how they live, and what they think and do has become the norm on how we judge ourselves and our families.

Reality has been eclipsed by the virtual so much so that we no longer know how to live in the real world. This means that we, in our effort to enjoy what is not and cannot be, have destroyed what is and could be. 

We, as individuals and a culture, need to begin to abandon the pretend, and once again move into the reality. We need to intentionally spend time with each other outside the presence of the virtual. We need to be intentional about serving together, playing together, working together, walking together, and so forth

Christian camping is a tool that needs to be taken out of the church’s tool box and used on a regular basis. People need to get up and get out and sit on the back of a horse, along with others, while riding through a wooded trail. Bear, deer and frogs need to be seen and heard, for real, and we need to stare at stars that are unhindered by the lights of a city.

Pastors, leaders, and parents need to stop thinking about how to entertain, and start thinking about how to interact on a regular basis. We need to stop thinking how a week of reality, short-term mission project, can solve our problem, and begin to think about a life of reality. 

Silver Birch Ranch has developed tools to help re-establish real relationships. You can come and serve on a regular basis as a dish crew, maintenance crew, or work on special projects. This can be done on a regular basis, and ownership of certain tasks and projects can be a reality. This time can be used to accomplish something real, be real examples, and interact with real people

The Nicolet Bible Institute is a tool that has been developed to allow college-aged young people the opportunity to spend real time with God and each other, and to learn to serve, for real, the people who come onto the grounds of Silver Birch Ranch. 

The Wolf River Refuge has been developed to give families, churches, and various ministries a place to get away, and to focus on God and each other in a comfortable Northwoods, river-side setting, and the new Relate365 ministry will be working hand-in-hand with the Wolf River Refuge to provide education, consultation, conferences, and other resources to once again move us to reality in relationships.

Information for all these tools can be found at silverbirchranch.org.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Much Demanded.....

But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Luke 12:48 (ESV)  

Those who have lived in a first-world country, who have had access to Bibles, Bible teaching, history, education, freedom of expression, radio, television, internet, and so on, are not entitled,but responsible. 

They are responsible to use their assets in a way that the one who gave them the asset will be able to declare, “Well done. They are responsible to use whatever they have been given to expand the Kingdom, not expand their kingdom. 

It is hard for the rich to love God, just as it is hard for the poor to not envy the rich. 

What is important in life is available to all, regardless of their status. All can enjoy God and enjoy each other. All can do as God has commanded. 

First-world countries may be full of rich fools who first calculate what’s in it for them, while forgetting that they do not determine what happens tomorrow, and why they were entrusted with the much they enjoy. 

God is older than us, smarter than us, and loves us. We can, and should, trust Him.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Consistency

1 Kings 18:19 (ESV)
"Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."

There are epic moments in history. This is one of them. There will be 850 prophets who basically worship Satanic forces against one who worships God. This is not a showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. It is a showdown between Satan and God played out among their faithful.

This story easily illustrates this epic battle, yet this is the same battle that takes place today in places all over the world. Those who are faithful to God will find themselves in a fight because of their faithfulness to God.

This fight is not about their own viewpoints and ability. It is a fight between God and the forces of evil--the multitudes of evil who think that a majority opinion can and should sway the single declarations of God.

They were wrong in Elijah's day and they are wrong today. The fight continues, the strategy remains the same, and the outcome, for those who listen to God, remains constant.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Adjusting Belief Systems

What happens in a world where belief systems overtake truth systems, and this reverse in logic seems to be normative rather than unusual?

Belief systems, or faith systems, are vitally important when they are founded on truth, and worthless when they have no boundaries. Those who argue for determining truth via belief would argue that we can believe any truth we want, and that no other person has the freedom to establish truth in our personal lives.

We often treat truth as relative instead of absolute, cultural instead of cross-cultural, and archaic instead of progressive. Those who think this way have abandoned all logic, and have replaced God with themselves as god, and are the reason of the mass amount of confusion that exists in the United States today.

Truth is something that cannot be created, manipulated, or “loopholed.” It stands as an absolute that will prove itself in time. There is no truth according to Dave, or a political party, or any particular denomination.

Those who want to live successful lives need to focus on finding truth and allowing the truths they find to guide their decision-making.

There are those areas that demonstrate easy “truths,” such as when it rains you get wet, to those truths that take a bit of discovery, such as knowing for certain that the moon is not made of cheese. Some of these “truths” will not matter in our day-to-day lives, but there are many truths that do matter.

Part of the discovery process includes logic, for we are logical beings. For example, the coffee mug from which I am drinking today was designed, manufactured, and distributed by someone who had a specific purpose in mind for this mug. This mug can do many things, but its design is best for holding some sort of hot or cold liquid. I do not need to use this mug as it was intended because it is my mug, but my choice to abuse the mug does not change the truth as to how and why it was created.

I find it interesting that those who claim to be in the “science” fields like to reject the simple for the complex, when the simple is all the explanation that is necessary.

If we would all agree about the origin of the mug, then we, too, must look at the universe we live in and logically determine that its complexity demands a designer and creator who also did these things with a specific purpose in mind.

The rich, poor, famous, and infamous are all the same when it comes to truth. None of them can create it, a majority of them cannot determine it, and eventually it will break the deceptive grip it has held through the worshipping of one’s own beliefs.

Trying to prove that we are all accidental blobs of protoplasm has no value, and will only lead us to further bondage.