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His Story

23 Jun

At Quick start, we played the Newlywed Game where the students tried to guess the answers of their TLCs to various questions.  Blue School won.

Kyle then spoke about how we want God to be a part of Summer Excitement.  We are temples of God. Just like when Solomon built the temple.  When we invite Christ to be in us, it is incredible.  Our students are a part of an epic story where we collectively are a temple of God.  We support each other.  In addition, with our strong foundation in Christ Jesus, we are a dwelling in which God lives by His spirit.

For Wild ‘N’ Crazy games, students played “Cow Slobber Shot Put” and “Synchronized Flailing”.  During “Cow Slobber Shot Put”, students ran down their slip-n-slide to throw wet sponges with cow drool (diluted whipping cream) at one of their TLs.  One TL from each family sat in a kiddie pool in the middle of the tarp.  The school with the most sponges in their kiddie pool after 12 throws won.  A very simple, yet effectively Wild-N-Crazy game.  In “Synchronized Flailing,” families laid on the tarp, with one school in each of the four corners.  Family members had to hold the ankle of their family member in front of them, and then they held a pool noodle in their other hand.  In the middle of the tarp, there were a wide variety of sponges and water-filled beach balls.  Families had to use pool noodles only to scoop the items to their corner.  They could still from other families.  The school with the most items at the end of the round won.  We got some incredible pictures from both of these games.

For our final Rainbow Celebration, Doyle and the praise team led the students through a period of worship before David Langford spoke.  David proclaimed that we are part of God’s epic story.  A story that is living. A story that is still be written each and every day.  A story which tells us who we are, why we are, and what our purpose is.  Everything changes when we understand that God is writing His story right now in us and that we are unique and complex characters.

Students were then led to the library, where they walked through a hallways filled with the Summer Excitement community who affirmed that our students are a part of God’s story and that God’s story is living in them.  Once students entered the library, Kenneth Hawley spoke about characters from iconic stories: Frodo and Samwise from The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the Pevensie children and Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia.  Kenneth pointed out that in each of these stories; the characters grew throughout many trials.  They each depended on mentors, friends, and communities to learn from their mistakes to achieve their goals and purposes.  In addition, those beloved characters were influenced and impacted by stories previously lived.  For example, the origin of the Phial of Galadriel and The Tale of the Three Brothers.  In the same way, we remember the stories of others.  We remember the story of the great-grandmother who passed her faith along or the amazing TL who changed the trajectory of our life.  Their stories affect us just as our stories will influence others.  Will you allow God to be the author of your story?

Ricky Lewis spoke to us, recapping all of the themes and topics that were discussed this week.  (This will be discussed in a later blog to summarize the teachings for the week.)  Students then went into family time where they received their own storybook.  The books had five chapters.  Four of the chapters are tools to help students in their personal quiet time with detailed descriptions and thought-provoking questions pertaining to each of the topics in the teaching times.  The fifth chapter is open and blank to allow students to journal their thoughts and feelings about God’s story for them.

After family time, students were led through another period of worship.  David then spoke again revealing that we have four relationships with our Father.

  1. God, the Author.  As it is written in Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  God is the inspiration to our story.  He gave us life and purpose.
  2. God, the Co-Author.  God is so sovereign.  He allows us to be co-authors.  While he created us and gave us purpose, He allows us to be a co-author.  He has given us free will.  While we are called to be free, Paul warns us in Galatians 5 not to misuse our freedom.
  3. God, the Editor.  We are humans.  We make mistakes and we sin.  God steps in at times to make needed changes.  Through the Spirit, the Word, the Body of Christ, and the consequences of the choices we make, God edits us.  He redeems us.  He uses our rough draft to create a better story.
  4. God, our biggest Reader/Fan.  Our Father loves us, and He is the most interested reader we have.  He is engaged for every step of our journey.  Some of our chapters bring Him joy, some bring Him sorrow, and others have Him banging His head against the wall as we exercise our free will.  However, He is always eager to read all the way to the end.  He is committed to being there for us.  He is with us always.

Throughout life, we experience an Epic Calling to join Christ in a lifetime journey, an Epic Battle.  We will experience Epic Pain as we fight against the evil one, yet we will experience God’s Epic Promises, Epic Patience, Epic Justice, and His faithful love.  We have the amazing opportunity to worship Him through every victory and every storm.  We are God’s masterpieces.  We are the poetry of God.  He is our wonderful Father who loves us with unconditional love.  Oh, how great it is to be a child of God in His Epic Story, which will continue to exist throughout all times.  Glory to God.

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Relocate. Release. Restore.

21 Jun

Happy Wednesday, Summer Excitement Family!  It’s hard to believe that we are already halfway through Summer Excitement.  It’s truly incredible watching God work here.  We hope that our social media posts and pictures are helping you experience SE vicariously.

 

This morning, Kyle talked to our students about stretching our comfort zone and doing things that may not be our forte.  However, when we stretch our comfort zone for daily activities, God is able to stretch the comfort zone of our faith, so that we can be used as His instruments.

Before we talk about tonight, we have to first give a huge shout out to Quaker Church of Christ.  Bill and Janice Flemmons have done an incredible job of coordinating volunteers and setting up for Jailbreak!  With the theme of “Wizard of Oz,” Quaker outdid themselves with an amazing Jailbreak, and we want to thank them for their service.  Our kids enjoyed all of the food, and they danced their hearts out.

During Rainbow Celebration, Kalum Tuggle talked to us about God’s Epic Justice.  Before we dive into God’s Justice, we must talk about God’s Grace.  In Isaiah 58, the Israelites were confronted with their sins.  Every day, they went to the temple, worshipped God, and fasted, pretending to delight in worshipping God.  Hoping to fool God with going through the motions with no soul.  Instead, God calls them out for being prideful and performing these acts for their delight, not to bring glory to God.  They claimed to be people of God, but they were fasting while fighting with others, praying for help while hounding the helpless.  Sound familiar?  Many Christians are really good at putting on the show when we receive perks and benefits.

THIS DOES NOT WORK WITH GOD! WE CANNOT BUY GOD’S GRACE CAUSE IT’S NOT FOR SALE!

Grace is a gift.  It cannot be bought nor earned, because no one has enough money to buy it, and no one can do enough good works to earn it.  And sometimes, we can forget that message.  We often believe that we can go about our lives, doing what we want as long as we do the religious and spiritual rituals on the side to please God.  However, that’s not what God wants from us.

Our Father wants us to embrace His grace so much that it overflows onto others.  We only become people of God’s justice after we have accepted His grace and released it to others.  Therefore, we have to abandon the belief that we can earn grace, and instead take in the reckless grace of God.  That’s when we become people of justice.

God’s justice occurs when grace is made visible.  Kalum gave us 3 possible ways to be God’s people of justice.

  1. Relocate. Step out of your comfort zone.  Step out of your bubble and go care for others.  This can be moving across the cafeteria, moving across the auditorium at church, moving across town, or moving across the globe.  Where is God calling you to relocate?
  2. Release.  Often, we hold on to God’s abundance of grace with a clenched fist.  We want it for ourselves.  We are afraid that if we let go, we will lose it.  God’s grace and love is like a boomerang.  As we give it away, it comes back to us.  Who can you release God’s grace to?
  3. Restore.  Raise us the weaker and neglected members of the community.  While thoughts and prayers are nice, it doesn’t stop there.  Restoring others moves beyond words, beyond simple acts of kindness.  It involves sacrificing yourself to get to the root of the problem instead of just settling for hollow words.  Who is broken in your life that you can restore with God’s grace?

A word of caution.  We must remember to not act justly to earn God’s favor.  We would just be repeating our mistake.  We must act justly because we see Christ’s example where He humbled Himself, relocated to be with us, and then restored us.

Brothers and sisters, our prayer is that we embrace God’s grace fully, allow it to fill us up, and then overflow into the lives of others.  We pray that we remember that we cannot do this on our own. It’s all through the glory and power of God.  Grace is a wonderful gift that we get to share with others.

Praise the Father.  Let us continually worship Him throughout our daily lives to praise His epic grace and His epic justice.

Be Patient

20 Jun

What an outstanding day!  This morning, students started with Clay Johnson leading them in “When the Saints Go Marching In” with Clay’s trombone.  To understand the full meaning of this moment, let’s go back to last night where Bob Smiley roasted his son and Clay for playing the trombone.  Obviously, Clay showed us how wrong Bob was this morning.  Photos are posted on Facebook under the Tuesday album. 

Kyle also quizzed the students on their bible trivia during Quickstart.  The trivia started with simple questions and quickly advanced in difficulty. We were happy and proud of how well many of our students did with their Bible trivia.  Kyle then led a devo relating knowing the bible to performing a play.  Sometimes actors don’t realize the full story of their play, because they are so focused on memorizing their parts line by line.  As Christians, we can do the same.  We can become so focused on bible trivia and facts that we forget to take a step back to understand God’s story.  The students were challenged to remember that during teaching times, they don’t have to know all of the trivia to understand the Epicness of God.

During Wild ‘N’ Crazy games, our students played two games:  Snow Shoe Shuffle and Moist Curling.  During Snow Shoe Shuffle, students put on large snowshoes, walked down their slip-and-slide runway to the main tarp.  In the middle of the tarp was a kiddie pool filled with water and sponges.  Students had to go to the middle, pick up a sponge with their chin, and then go back to the end of their slip-and-slide runway.  The first school to have their team finish won.  In Moist Curling, a TL sat on an inflatable tube.  The students then pulled their TL down the slip-and-slide runway to the middle of the turf.  Students then pulled their other TL, trying to get them in the middle of the tarp and target.  The team with their two TLs closest to the target won.  It was very fun, and we highly suggest you look on Facebook for the pictures. 

Kirk Cowell spoke tonight at Rainbow Celebration, and we are so glad that after 15 years, Kirk returned to SE.  Kirk spoke about God’s Epic Patience.  There are two main sections of Isaiah: The Warning of Exile (Isaiah Chapters 1-39) and The Hope of Reconciliation (Isaiah Chapters 40-66).  At the beginning of Isaiah 40, after God’s Chosen are in exile in foreign lands, Isaiah sends comfort, proclaiming that the time of exile is over, their service for the sins has been completed, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed.  The Israelites responded with disbelief, doubt, and mistrust.   

Kirk shared his personal story where at the age of 23, he realized that he was an atheist, who worked as a preacher at a small church.  He didn’t believe, but he wanted to.  He reached out to his mentors and community searching for answers.  Several years later, he read Colossians 2:6-8 and Zechariah 3:1-2.  He realized that God invites each of us to allow God to snatch us from the fire to be restored. In that moment, Kirk reconciled with the Lord.   

In the doubt and disbelief of the Israelites, our Heavenly Father responded with Isaiah 42:1-4.  When we are weak and broken, God does not throw us out and replaces us.  Instead, He is a master weaver who is so incredibly patient, that He uses every bruised reed in His craft and surrounds it with strong reeds.  He spends immense time carving us to repair us, so that our light is strong and pure.  God’s patience is so epic, and He won’t let us go until He has woven us into a strong community and made our light shine again.  God is the patient, master craftsman.

We just have to wait on Him, be patient, and most importantly, faithful.

Faithful Love

19 Jun

Friends, this year is already more epic than we anticipated, and all glory goes to God.  These students are incredible.  The Green School (with the theme of Jesus Christ: Superhero) has dedicated each day to an aspect of Jesus’ superpowers.  Sunday was giving.  Today is serving.  To start the day off, two students washed Kyle Bullock’s feet during Quickstart.  What amazing leaders we have!

Clay Johnson, Devon Watkins, Nathan Keller, and Allison Lewis lead our teaching times.  They are stupendous.  They have a deep passion for showing our students Epic Qualities about our Father.  Throughout the week, each Dean will teach each school, so that students hear from various teaching styles. Each of the Morning Deans are looking at the story of God through a different lens.  Devon is speaking on Epic Calling, Clay is Epic Battle, Nathan is Epic Forgiveness, and Allison is Epic Pain. Our students are in for a treat.

Sports and Wild ‘N’ Crazy Games were immensely successful today.  Students will play volleyball, basketball, indoor soccer, and ultimate Frisbee.  When they are not playing a sport, they will cheer on the other teams.  We would like to clarify that we do not expect athletes, but instead are encouraging students to enjoy the community and work as a team.  Today, during Wild ‘N’ Crazy Games, students participated in a Team Relay where students raced in groups of 4 with inflatable tubes.  Then, families pulled each other in the same inflatable tubes on slippery tarps.  Not much more can be said, because it’s wild…and crazy.  Pictures are on Facebook, so go check them out.  

Tonight at Rainbow Celebration, Mike spoke to us about God’s Epic Promises in two roles: Trustworthy Father and Faithful Lover. Each of us is a unique child of God, and our Heavenly Father believes that we are truly wonderful.  He loves us, cares for us, comforts us, and provides for us.  His love is such a true and great unconditional love that is incomparable.  However, God’s love is the ideal that parents should be.  Psalm 103:10-13 attempts to describe God’s love through His mercy and grace and almighty power, but it can simply be wrapped up as “God’s love…is ever and always.” 

Mike compared God’s promise of being a faithful lover to a marriage.  In Hebrews 13:5, God vows to us that He will never leave nor forsake us.  Unlike many circumstances though, even when we cheat on God and turn our back on Him, God stays and pursues us.  Through the story of Hosea, we are shown how great God’s love is, and how He is faithful.  His love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out on us.  Instead of rejecting us, our Father longs to bring us home. 

Like the perfect Father and Spouse, God’s love is willingly dedicated and willingly forgiving.  No matter what we do, how badly we mess up, God’s mercy and love will always be there for us as a gift waiting for us to accept and receive it.  He truly is the model of a perfect love.  Praise Him for the epic promises He has bestowed upon us, and praise Him for allowing us to rest in His grace.

Let Us Worship the Father

18 Jun

Summer Excitement has officially started! We cannot believe that students are finally here! We are so ready to pour into them, so that we can experience the vulnerable and real community of our Savior, Christ Jesus. 

After Staff announcements and introductions, students were able to meet with their schools to get to know each other, and then they returned for Rainbow Celebration.  Worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ is an incredible gift.  Melanie Wise spoke tonight about worshipping an almighty, powerful God who has unsurpassable love for each of us.  Worship is an act of pursuing God and deepening our relationship with Him.  When we worship together, no matter what form, we glorify God. 

Our students experience many different battles in their lives.  There is often a misconception that worship only occurs when you are happy or content with God.  However, we were reminded tonight that there are many different ways of worshipping our Lord and Savior.  We can praise Him in the storm.  He wants us always to be present and to let Him into our lives and hearts.  When we follow Him and serve Him, we can show Him everything.  We can be real with Him.  We can show Him our mourning, our rage, our sorrow, our happiness, and every other emotion, because there is freedom in worship.  He is our comforter, healer, and a mighty warrior who fights for us.  If we worship and submit ourselves to Him, He will battle for us, heal us, and be with us in accordance to His will and purpose.  What’s even more incredible is that the same God who holds the universe in His hands is also a Good Father who pursues us and knows us by name.

And that, dear friends, is pretty Epic.

Preparing to LEAD!

16 Jun

Are you ready, Summer Excitement? An EPIC adventure awaits us.  The Team Leaders, Deans, and Staff have been hard at work preparing for the incredible work that God will do this week and year.  We are anxiously waiting for students to arrive, so that we can serve and love them.

On Friday, Curt Langford talked to the TLs and Staff about leadership in the church and different styles of leadership.  Ultimately, as leaders in Christ, we are encouraged to remember that it is not about us.  Being self-centered and unsure of ourselves takes the glory away from God, and it shows our lack of faith and trust in our Lord and Savior.  As Christians, we can be confident in Christ, knowing that He will use us as long as we serve with humility and have passion for the mission instead of our current position. 

“You must have passion for the mission, not the position.” 

On Saturday, the TLs taught each other the components of LEAD:  Love, Engage, Authenticity, and Discipleship.  Spurring one another forward in Christ, we have this incredible community of brothers and sisters.  We get to form strong relationships to serve one another in love.  Sometimes there are great personal sacrifices.  Sometimes we become uncomfortable, but we are reminded in Philippians 2:5-8 that Jesus humbled himself to the nature of a servant to save each and every one of us.  Oh, how powerful God’s love is for us through His wonderful mercy and grace!  And His love overruns to all.  We share His love with others, which is sometimes very difficult.  However, we pray that God changes our paradigm so that instead of thinking “what can you do so I love you,” we are able to focus on “what can I do because I love you?”  Through this next week, we pray that our students are immensely blessed as they build authentic relationships with this community, so that they may go out and make disciples of all nations.  God has epic plans, and we are excited to see what He will do this week.  All we have to do is listen to Him and participate.   

In the words of Samuel Corder, “When in doubt, just dance.”

Summer Excitement 2018

8 Mar

Summer Excitement heads into its 34th year this June, and we look forward to continuing to disciple junior high and high school students, promoting joyous Christian living, and helping this generation of young men and women become disciples among their friends and family in their own communities!  We look forward to having each student, staff member, and friend of SE on campus this summer, and know from experience that God will do a great work among us!

 

Make plans now by setting a reminder on your calendar to sign up on April 1…ON THIS SITE!!!  Early registration runs through May 15.  And as usual, Summer Excitement is the 3rd full week of June, the week of June 17-22.

 

Don’t miss out, because YOU KNOW, it’s going to be EPIC!!!