Wolf Creek Community Church in Lacombe recently held a family camp at Deer Valley Meadows Christian Camp and Conference Centre, near Alix, AB. What a blessed time of fellowship! After ten full years of faithful ministry in the community, the people of WCCC needed a break. They needed to play and pray together. And I’m pleased to report that both occurred at family camp last weekend. The “playing” part occurred as we talked and laughed together, especially on Saturday through “Family Fun Day.” Do you remember those good old fashioned games you played when you were a kid? Well, we played those games last weekend, and they were still fun! (Although I’m still sore from the tug-of-war!) We “prayed” together around the campfire at night and during the outdoor worship service on Sunday. What a moving experience to worship the Maker of heaven and earth in the “sanctuary” of His creation! (I would suggest that every church do that at least once a year.) Overall, this was a very blessed time of fellowship. I hope and pray we do it again next year. I want to thank the leaders who organized and directed this event. And I want to thank the Lord for being very present with us as we took Sabbath together. Now I look forward to a good year of worship, learning and ministry. Thanks be to God!
I’m really looking forward to the Wolf Creek Community Church Family Campout. I want to thank the elder and his small group for taking the lead in this ministry, as I believe it will be one of the highlights of our year as a church family. Why do I say that? Because I believe in the power of Bible camp to transform lives. Call this weekend gathering what you may—campout, family camp, spiritual retreat—the name’s not all that important. What is important is that you show up, if at all possible. So, whether that’s for a day or for the whole weekend, I hope you’ll seriously consider coming out. And if you need help getting there, please ask for it, because we want the entire family present, if at all possible.
Our family has always been involved at Bible camp. I attended Valley View Bible Camp in Southwestern SK for years. And my wife attended Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp in the Crowsnest Pass. And our kids still attend that camp. So, why have we remained involved at Bible camp? For many reasons. Fun and friendships certainly play a part. But as I reflect back on our camp experiences (past and present), I’d have to say that spiritual formation is the top reason we’ve stayed involved at camp. There’s just something very formative about camp! You not only study God’s Word and practice various spiritual disciplines (i.e., prayer, worship and Scripture memorization), but you do it as a community of faith. Following Jesus is normal and even “cool” at camp. A Jesus-culture is formed at camp that allows for a lot of solid spiritual formation to occur. This is why I encourage everyone to attend a Bible camp at least once a year.
Have you been blessed by attending a Bible camp? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
You may or may not know that Wolf Creek Community Church (WCCC) recently partnered with Bethel CRC to run a Vacation Bible School (VBS). And I’m sure glad we did. What a blessed week! I think this is the fourth VBS that I’ve been a part of as a pastor (the first as pastor of WCCC), and once again I was reminded: this program works! Yes, it takes a bit of planning and a good number of volunteers. But it’s really worth the effort. What a great way to disciple and reach out to children. And what a great way to train leaders and engage our youth, who are invited to mentor the little ones. I was one of the storytellers this year. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the children and working with some of my own kids. And it was great to partner with our “mother” church and promote unity in the Body of Christ. I hope that we do it again next year. If we do, I encourage you to get involved. I know there’s a lot of coming and going during the summer. But you won’t regret being involved in VBS. I thank the Bethel CRC for allowing us to partner with them in this ministry. I thank you for supporting the ministry. And I thank the Lord for blessing it. All praise be to Him!
This is the last week of our summer break. Accordingly, I want to reflect a bit on our experience. As I take a moment to think about it, I’ve been reminded of at least three things over the last month.
First Reminder: It is Important to Connect with Family and Old Friends
Because pastors are called to be pastors in their communities, it’s helpful to stay in touch with old friends and family members–with people who know us as more than just “pastor.” This isn’t to say that we don’t have friends in our city, but those long term friends and family members are significant. I always enjoy going back to my home town and being known as Leon, son of Lyle and Julie, for a few days. It reminds me of who I am and to whom I belong. Although the town of my youth is no longer “home,” they’re still my people, and I belong.
Second Reminder: Sabbath is Important
We try to make our summer break a time of extended Sabbath. Yes, we do take a few days to work in the back yard during our break. But because I have limited time to do such labor during the year, this is a little bit of Sabbath for me. We also travel to visit family, which can be tiring. But this focus on relationships is also part of our taking Sabbath. And we try to get a bit of extra-sleep and to slow things down a bit. And also do a few fun things a long the way. This year I sensed just how exhausted I am. After seven years of ordained pastoral ministry, I’m tired. So this year I will work hard to take Sabbath on a regular basis, to replenish my body and soul. Sabbath is important!
Third Reminder: I Love the Church of Jesus Christ
Although I was away from my church family for a month, I remained in and with the Church of Jesus Christ. We worshipped the Lord each Sunday in a different congregation, which was very refreshing for me. I enjoyed hearing a few sermons preached by someone other than myself! We also spent time in God’s Word and in prayer as a family. In fact, this year we read a number of passages from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians–a great place to dwell during a summer break! And now we’re preparing to resume our pastoral ministry in our church and community, and I look forward to it. Sometimes you need to get away to remember how good you’ve got it at home!
So, what are you learning this summer? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it.