Friday, July 25, 2014

Pantophobia - A Fear of Everything

This is a centipede ladder.
But not our centipede ladder.
"I WANNA COME DOWN!" he screamed.

I tried to encourage him, "You can do it! Try for one more step!"

He shook his head simply, but emphatically, "No! I want to come down, NOW!"

I slowly began lowering him down on the belay rope that was attached to his safety harness.

To the right you can see a centipede ladder that is about 20 feet tall. At Shiloh we have one that is about 40 feet tall! This week, while running this event for the campers I met a kid who was afraid. He tried climbing, got about 5 feet off of the ground and froze.

After coaxing him down, he said, "MAAAN! That was scary up there!" I agreed, that it certainly can be scary. He continued, "But I'm scared of everything. I don't like the dark. I don't like scary movies. And I definitely don't like heights!"

Wow! Scared of everything? What kind of life is that? God tells us so often not to be afraid, and yet we are so easily frightened by the smallest spider (that quite frankly we could squish with our foot without any effort).

This is what I told him.

You need to realize that there is more than one kind of fear. First, there is rational fear. If you are being chased down by a lion, a bear, or a pack of wolves, you should really be afraid. You're probably about to die and you should be afraid, because whatever is about to happen... it's gonna hurt bad!

The second kind of fear is irrational fear. This is the sort of fear you get when you watch a scary movie and zombies have taken over most of the world (except Madagascar, because nothing ever gets Madagascar!) You might be scared or have nightmares about zombies, but in reality, there are no zombies breaking into your house tonight to eat your flesh. I would bet more than the national debt on it.

I then explained to this young man about the ropes that we use. They hold about 6000 lbs the last I recall. I asked, "You don't weigh 6000 lbs... do you???" He laughed quietly and said no. So I asked him and his 5'2" frame if he thought I weighed more than him. Again he chuckled and said yes. I asked him if he trusted me. This one took a little longer, but a moment later he looked me in the eye and said yes. Lastly, I asked him if he was ready to try to climb again.

As he stepped onto the ladder, I gave him one last piece of advice. "If you get stuck or get scared, shoot up a quick prayer to heaven. God has your back up there, and I've got the other end of the rope down here."

Step after step, rung after rung, he climbed up. I shouted up more encouragement, as did his friends while they were eagerly awaiting their turns. He was half way there! 20 feet off the ground!

Then he looked down.

The look of fear flooded his face again...

...but this time he closed his eyes, prayed a quick prayer and reached up above his head for the next hand hold! He was climbing again! We all cheered him on as he raced towards the top of the ladder. Upon reaching the top he bellowed a challenge to the world, "WHAT NOW!?!?"

He had overcome his fear, that only moments ago caused him to lock up and panic. Now he was ready to take on anything.

I slowly lowered him down on his belay rope as he cheered and raised his hands in victory. Once on the ground I gave him a pat on the back and unhooked his harness from the rope. I told him, "I knew you could do it! I'm so proud of you for overcoming your fears today. You're awesome!"

The smile on his face... I'm not sure that there are adequate words to describe it. For this boy, what had just happened was so much more than just climbing a funky ladder, or even than overcoming one of his fears. This was a moment of realizing that God was real. Something had changed when he prayed halfway up that ladder and he knew it.

As he walked away, I thought to myself, when was the last time I was willing to trust God with something so scary. Sure I believe in God... he's there. I know that. But do I always believe IN God? Do I always trust him for his sufficiency, his goodness, his protection?

If I answer honestly, no.

But I don't want to be like that! Today, I challenge you to try this. Pick something that would normally be a challenge for you to trust God for, ask him to help you trust him with that for one day. Leave us a note in the comments letting us know how it went!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How do you get camp kids to eat broccoli for dinner?

Today I would like to welcome my first guest blogger. I have known her for pretty much my entire life and while I consider her both a talented writer and even a friend. But in reality, she is much more than that. She is also my mom.

How do you get camp kids to eat broccoli for dinner? You secure Tim DuMont for your serving line. Watching my son serve up broccoli for dinner at Shiloh was like watching a hawker at carnival. "Come and get it! Get your broccoli right here. Look at this stuff - it's like little trees and the leaves tickle your mouth as you chew! Hey, don't pass me by - try at least one piece!"

Just about every kid had broccoli on their tray when they left. Now it is true that a number of them tossed it out after trying it. But try it they did. As I was leaving the camp, a group of girls sat outside talking about broccoli. Yes, they really were discussing a vegetable during their free time at camp. We were serving lasagna that night and one of the girls had apparently tried it with Parmesan cheese - which was what Tim had suggested. She was duly impressed. A second girl said that the only broccoli she'd ever had was like mush - but that this broccoli was a little crunchy and that it tasted good. The third girl said she went back and actually got seconds. A fourth girl just made a face and said there was nothing on the face of the earth that would get her to eat broccoli.

This got me to thinking. Tim's sharing-of-the-broccoli (as it is now referred to) is a lot like our sharing of the gospel. Those of us with the gift of gab need to choose our words carefully and encourage every person we meet to take a taste of what God has to offer. Some will taste it and like, it but may hold off taking more because of a negative past-experience. Some will like it so much that they quickly come back for more. Others will outright reject our offer. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Sure, we can just stand in our line waiting for those who already like broccoli (or Christ) to come to us. Or we can sing the praises of what we know is wonderful - offering up a bit of encouragement along the way. Who knows - we may offer a tidbit to someone who becomes the next king of the broccoli hawkers (or the next missionary to a foreign land)!

Louise Bergmann DuMont, Author of Faith-Dipped Chocolate and Grace By the Cup (published by Baker Books)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sports Camp - Week 1 complete

Thanks everyone for your prayers. God blessed this week. Kids had fun flying on the flying squirrel, shooting targets at archery, and stuffing thier faces with great food at meal times. They played soccer, basketball, and danced while learning the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.

But, most importantly of all, many kids and teens gave their hearts and lives to our Savior Jesus.

Seeing the transformation from tough kids who are swearing at you to kids with tears in their eyes because they don't want to say goodbye is incredible. God is doing incredible things. The age of miracles is now. God is not done with changing lives.

What I need to remember sometimes is that God is still transforming me. He is still changing me. He is still growing me.

And he is still changing you too!  Don't take this as a sign of setback though. This is the good news of the gospel. Jesus has not only saved us, but he is still saving us!

What in your life is God using to grow you? Leave a comment sharing how God continues to grow you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pre - Sports Camp Update

It has been a long time, but here we go!

In a little less than a week we will have just under 100 disadvantaged kids at Shiloh. We will play games, challenge expectations, teach lessons, and share Jesus love.

So much has been going on at Shiloh it's been difficult to keep up We have given the property a deep clean, renovated our old barn meeting room, added two hotel style rooms for pastors or speakers (and their families), we have a completely revamped maintenance shop, and we are about 90% complete with a new nursery (for children of our volunteers) and a new office.

In addition, since my last post I also received a new title.  I am now the "Director of Guest Services and Hospitality".

Please pray over the next few weeks that God will change the hearts of the kids that we come in contact with. Pray for the counselors that they will be patient and loving. Pray for safety all around, and pray that God would be glorified through everything that happens.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


  1. 1.
    an area of relatively level high ground.
  2. 2.
    a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
  1. 1.
    reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.

Some of you who know me closely know that I've been in the process of getting healthier and losing weight for a while now (about 2 years).  Over this time I've taken off approximately 70 lbs.  I'm not trying to brag, but I'm pretty proud of where I've come from, not to mention I've put on a decent amount of muscle in the process.  After losing 70 lbs, my arms are actually an inch bigger!

Anyway, it seems that I have hit a plateau. And, man, it is so frustrating. I have put on and lost the same 5 lbs since august. This week I was back up those 5 lbs again. This can be one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a person when they are in the process of losing weight.  I'm still not sure what I need to do to get past it. But I have a feeling that it will be a matter of eliminating something (wholly or partially) from my diet or adding some new physical activity to my routine.

But plateaus can happen in so many areas of life. Sometimes they happen in relationships. Other times they occur in our professional lives. Yet other times plateaus occur in our spiritual lives.

Breaking through a spiritual plateau is similar to taking on a plateau in weight loss. Chances are you'll need to either cut something unhealthy from your life or add a new physical expression of faith.

If you are feeling stuck spiritually, maybe you'll need to get rid of something you've been holding onto.  It might be something obviously sinful, like an addiction, but it might be something less apparent like spending too much time watching Netflix., too much time tracking your fantasy football team, or checking Facebook on your brand new iPhone.

Other times instead of eliminating something that is hurting your relationship with God, you need to add something new. Have you been reading your bible? If not, do it. If you are, try going a little deeper and doing a topical study on how great men and women of the bible prayed. It will not only give you some interesting reading, but it will also likely change the way you pray.  Maybe you need to find new places that you can pray. It could be that you need to be giving to your local church financially (yes, this really is important). Or maybe, just maybe, you should actually share what God is doing in your life with someone else! Tell them why it matters that you love Jesus and Jesus loves you (and I'm talking more than just fire insurance here).

Are you feeling stuck spiritually? Do something about it! Start by talking about it. Leave a comment expressing what you are going to change and how you are going to do it, then do it!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Loving Your Job

I know it's been too long since my last post.  And I swear that while this post won't cover all of the details of what I've been doing and what's new at Shiloh, it does have a lot to do with it.  Also, more post should be coming in the near future.  So here we go:

Yup, that's right.  For the first time in my life I can honestly say that!  And it is a great feeling.  While I wouldn't say I'm a work-a-holic by any means, I really like being at work and I really like doing my job.

There's a huge "but" though.

It seems that I have been so enthralled by my job and its busy schedule that I've forgotten about other parts of my life. I've made a point to stay close with my wife, and I honestly think that our marriage is probably the best that it has ever been.  Amanda and I have found a new church home that we are extremely excited to be a part of and we are really looking forward to getting involved more there.

So what is the part of my life that I've been ignoring?  My friends.

Men often live life like they are an island...

It's easier to just talk about sports and beer...

Relationships are like bank accounts...

No, I guess I will go with the last one.  Relationships ARE like bank accounts.  You can only withdraw as much as you are willing to put in.  It seems that over the summer I failed to make just about any deposits into my "friend" bank accounts. Now my bank accounts seem all but depleted and I'm wondering why my friends seem distant and upset.

For anyone else who is dealing with this (and I really hope that is no one because this is a miserable corner to work yourself into) the most important thing I'm learning is to start fixing things now.  Don't wait until you have more time.  If you think your friendships are worth having, start investing into that savings account now!

Most of my posts end with a question to my reader, so here goes?  Have you ever alienated a friend (or group of friends)? And what did you do to help remedy it?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Knots In The Wood

This past week I spent a full day staining wood planks for trim work in the new gym. It isn't particularly glamorous work, but finishing work is important and it needed to be done. While I was staining plank after plank after plank I began to appreciate exactly what I was working with. These planks came from trees.

Somewhere 50 to 100 years ago a seed sprouted.  That seed grew into something magnificent and majestic that towered over lesser plants and shrubs. That housed innumerable birds, squirrels, and other animals. That tree may have provided shade for a weary traveler on a hot summer day. That tree, I'm sure, has countless stories that it could tell!  That is if it could speak. And had a mouth. And was sentient in some way.

Regardless of the fact that Ents remain a fictional species found only in Middle Earth, I found the idea of what this wood had become to be intriguing. It was being used for art (an industrial art, but definitely art none the less). And I began to think about knots.

Knots in the wood are found when branches sprout from the trunk of the main tree or when smaller branches sprout from large limbs. When the wood is hewn into planks, these knots are actually a structural weakness. Sometimes when doing wood working knots will actually fall out of pieces of wood. And yet, it is those weaknesses that make the wood so beautiful. Those weaknesses help define the wood and help the wood to take on a character of it's own.  A skilled artisan will take those weaknesses and use them to show off his strength and skill.

In much the same way, God uses our weaknesses, when we are willing to let God shape us into what he desires, to create incredible beauty. A friend of mine got married about a year ago. His bride can sometimes be... "passionate". Here's the deal with passion though.

Passion tends to boil over.

Things that boil over get messy.

Most people don't like "messy".

Her "passion" sometimes makes her laugh when others are silent. Her "passion" sometimes makes her cry when others are laughing. Her "passion" sometimes makes her scream when others are crying. Her "passion" sometimes makes her throw things when others are screaming. And you probably don't want to see her when others are at the point of throwing things.

But there is one more thing.

God has transformed this weakness - this knot - into something amazing, something beautiful. She loves harder than just about anyone else I know. She laughs more. She will be the first person to cry with you when you've had a terrible day. She will also be right next to you screaming in your defense when you've been wronged.

Her emotional side is her greatest weakness and yet her most endearing characteristic. God uses her weakness to create beauty. God is awesome that way!

Remember that it is the knots- the weakest points in the wood- that make it beautiful. And God wants to use your weak points to show off his beautiful creation too. Do you know anyone who's weakness shows God's great idea of beauty?