We just came home yesterday from our church’s 3-day camp in Tagaytay.
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The theme was Romans 12:1-2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV 2010)
Over one hundred and thirty people (children included) were able to attend. The camp was structured to have lots of free time to reflect or bond with other people (and of course, for the admin/organizers/music team to meet and prepare). Small groups, sportsfest groups, and room groupings were all jumbled up so that we could get to interact with as many people from all the three services (Tagalog, English, and Afternoon) as possible.
There had been a lot of learnings, surprisingly, most of them did not come from the theme verse:
A seemingly simple song such as “Little by Little” contains simple but relevant biblical truths that are often ignored or forgotten by adult Christians in the process. It made me remember Jesus’ exhortation regarding having faith like “little children”: the almost gullible child will immediately believe his parents’ promises without hesitation. In stark contrast, we who have a God that is more credible than our parents often doubt his promises and the wisdom of his commands.
It might be a bit disappointing from the point of view of the organizers to hear testimonies that are so off-tangent to the theme. Yet, the east-to-west differences between the twenty eight testimonies just show us how differently God works in each life, meeting different needs, teaching different things.
For some, even the fact that they got to join the camp was a journey of faith, leaving behind their worries, and seeing God meet their financial needs – at just the right time. For others, the new experiences opened their eyes to the joys of Christian fellowship. For others still, there were personal reflections ranging from the importance of fatherhood to overcoming the doubting their personal relationship with Christ.
Obedience before Sacrifice
Willful submission to God’s will is the foundation upon which buildings of “sacrificial acts” should stand. Giving your financial resources sacrificially, spending large fractions of your week ‘doing ministry’ and various forms of service, and singing praise and worship songs without end will all be useless if in the first place, there are parts of our lives that we withhold from God’s influence.
Bearing each Other’s Burdens
We had a game where the team stood side by-side, and had to walk up and under through obstacles – while each of our ankles were tightly tied to the ankle of then adjacent person. We literally rubbed shoulders with each other, and literally felt the weight of each other as well, as we supported each other’s weight. The tangible feeling of actually bearing the weight of the person beside you as he or she maneuvers and leans on you paints a picture of what mutual support and accountability should be like – you need them, and they need you.
This world exerts continuous pressure to subtly make us conform to its mold. The danger lies in the fact that we may not be able to detect how we are slowly being influenced by materialism, immorality, ideologies, and selfish outlooks in life. As such, having a flourishing and Godly community life, both in the context of the local and universal church, is very important. One thing’s for sure though, we have all been convinced that total transformation can only be achieved as we continually submit to God in humble obedience and full submission, no matter how hard.
May we as individuals and as one church continue to offer our ‘living sacrifice’