Monday, August 17, 2009

Kathy Stank, is singing with Jesus

As I prepared to leave for the cabin and a weeks respite with Karol and the kids this morning, we received a phone call. Our very first camper, our friend , our sister; Kathy Stank died yesterday. Kathy had a massive heart attack and died immediately in her room at the nursing home she lived in.
Kathy had impacted so many lives over the last 14 years at Camp Daniel. She above all people I know, was ready to go, she loved Jesus with all her heart. Kathy's father died just 2 weeks ago, and she was unable to come to camp that week. Instead we where able to arrange for her to be at camp last week. Kathy had a wonderful week impacting her counselor, other campers and counselors and all of our staff yet again. Kathy's family is suffering at these two significant losses in such a short time, please pray for them.
Kathy closed our last chapel on Friday night by once again singing the old hymn "Crown of Thorns" which she has sang every year since she began coming to camp in 1997. I will write another entry here later tonight describing her impact on our ministry. We have all been blessed by her love.
The Visitation is at the Rhoades/Charpata Funeral home Thursday afternoon at 1:30 PM with the funeral following at 2:30. Her family has asked me to do her funeral, of which I could not be more proud to do. I ask for your prayer and for you to join us singing the hymns she blessed us by singing each year at camp on Thursday.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Filled...With Joy

- - the joy of the Lord will make you strong." Nehemiah 8:10b

Each week we press on in the summer, the exhaustion mounts. 6 weeks of hard labor getting the lakefront ready for work groups, shoveling, nailing, moving earth, pouring concrete. Immediately into camps 1 and 2 with only one day off between. Then a week off with 38 youth and workers on the grounds , in our house, and working hard. Then back at camp, we had a day off yesterday afternoon and this morning we began to get ready and counselors and workers here again, on Saturday, we finally can stop for while as Karol, the kids and I head off to our cabin for a week of rest!
I don't tell you this to elicit pity or praise. I tell you this as a back drop to understand what I am going to say. God has changed me, moved me, grown me, and stretched more in the last 11 weeks than he has in the previous 41 weeks since this time last year. Each summer God has done the same in my life, each time I focus on Him, His work, His word, and His direction, He changes my heart. The rest of the year change happens but much less dramatically. Why is that? Is it me, am I different in those times? Does it depend on what I am doing? Am I so tired that cannot resist? I think all of those things are part of it. but I believe the reason more than any is that I am becoming weaker as the days pass by. My defense or my flesh is down, My mind is a bit slower, and my spirit is as open as ever to God's leading, my heart is connected directly to those we are ministering with and to. I know the Bible says that when we are weak He is strong, but rarely do I find myself in the place of real weakness.
I remember when Dan was so weak and sick in his last weeks of life. God shown through him in way we never saw before. As he became weaker and weaker, God's power was more evident in him. Lives where changed in those last weeks, mine included. Jesus, in the weakest position possible as a human; stripped, hanging on the cross, beaten and bloody, changed everything for humankind.
I am told so often from well meaning friends to slow down, pace myself, and don't burn out. I have written before that I want to burn out for Jesus, because I do have faith He will restore my strength. As I empty some of the me, He can fill with some of Him. I am not saying that one should be busy for Jesus, I am saying we should be in His will, doing His work, as hard as we can, as long as we can, as much as we can. That means in every phase of our lives; family, ministry, work, play, rest, whatever. He must be the center in all of those things, one is not separate from the other, it is all Gods work. I know He will work in us, changing us, loving us, helping us, so we can help others change, love, and work for Him. So I write this exhausted, hurting, my heart bleeding, my mind spinning, yet I am filled with joy; joy that God has filled me up with!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"The best is yet to come" -- Uncle Jerry

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they need to achieve.” --Tom Landry

We are leaving to begin our last 2 weeks of camp this afternoon. I am done with preparation, packing, creating, thinking, and all things necessary to put on a camp. In fact we have had such great help this year that I find my self sitting down just 2 hours before we will leave and waiting to go. God has blessed us over the last several years with new staff, coming on board to missionaries with Camp Daniel.
I have been learning to be a different kind of leader this year, I find in order to be more effective I must give away many things I have done in the past. It has been hard for me, I am hands on, I like to do and fix. It is very necessary to step away from certain things and allow others to do them. I like to lead by example, to experience things I ask others to do. I have had to change my concept on leading and try to define more precisely what I should be doing as leader.
I have been blessed over the last 2 years to part of Living Hope Church. There I have learned much on being a healthy leader in an healthy environment. My Uncle Jerry who is Pastor there, has invested much in me, and my ministry. He has shown me how to lead people instead of leading a ministry. His loving concern for each person that walks in the doors of the church has impacted me greatly, first and foremost he wants to see people saved, and then he works to usher them into becoming God's disciples. He often says, "the best is yet to come", and I wonder if many people in the church really understand what that can mean. For all of us it means change, growth, more of jesus , less of us.
It has taken time for me to adjust to where God is leading. I fight change and growth in myself hard, I have gone through many definitions of what I believe God wants me to be. I have mistepped along the way, but God is gracious and patient in remaking me into what He wants. I know that this refining process will last my lifetime and not until I get to heaven will it make sense. What I have come to terms with though is that it matters little what or where I am doing what I do, all that matters is that I am growing and helping others to grow. I love the quote above, it is a job description for me. I was put on this earth to help others move towards Jesus, pushing , shoving, hugging, encouraging, crying and laughing, what ever it takes. I know we all need to grow and we all need to change and God has provided many tools for that to happen. I know God will use whatever means necessary to get us moving. So this is what I do; stretch my self and stretch others so we can all be a little more like Jesus. That is my calling, this is my mission. I know to be relentless in this task, that is what I believe makes a leader; willingness to grow, change, and become more like Christ. We leave for camp in an hour, for two weeks of change, growth and becoming more like Jesus. I must lead this, so I must grow and change, so I ask for your prayer to be relentless in this pursuit, no matter how hard the change is.