Camp Recap

This one might be long...

You might know, you might not. I'm part of a ministry called Reach Ministries, which supports worship leader John Sherrill, in whose band I play. Lately, I've stopped referring to it as "a band I'm in," because it's much more than that. Part of our ministry includes summers full of leading worship at youth camps all over Texas (and beyond). This was my 5th summer traveling with John, but my 7th year to play for camps. This year found us out for 6 weeks total, which is alot, but not the most ever (we did 10 a few years ago). Here's a pretty brief look into each camp this year and a few things that stood out to me, things I liked and didn't, and I'm sorry if I offend anyone:

Week 1- Alto Frio

Chad Norris, speaker. I like Chad. He's so down-to-earth and preaches truth so plainly that it makes you wonder why you never thought of it that way. He would say things like "I'm preaching better than you're listening," and it was true. God spoke to me pretty clearly that week about something (explanation to come soon), which was unexpected and scary, but obvious and empowering. The camp directors were way too interested in numbers, and even extended the invitations each night to make sure there were more "decisions." It was frustrating to see the work God was doing be squelched somewhat by the warnings that most of us will miss heaven by 13 inches. ... That's the distance between your head and your heart. And it's an awful analogy. Especially after Chad had spoken that once we surrender to God, our spirit is made right with God and He sees us blameless. Then, we start the process of "knowing God," redeeming our minds and experiencing eternity NOW, instead of just waiting until we die to have the fulness of our salvation. He preached better than I listened.

Week 2- Disney, OK

John Randles, speaker. This week was just John, Dave (drums), and me. Disney, OK is forever away, and is a hopeless little town with a really good Mexican restaurant. John Randles is fun to hang out with, and is a great speaker, although I just don't relate as well to sports analogies as some do. Hopefully a few kids got a kick in the butt to get up and start living. Once the kids warmed up to us, they reached new levels in intimacy in their worship. It was neat to see that. We had fun hanging out with camp director Chuck Hill and his wife, Amy. My room was the furthest from the wireless internet, so I could maybe check my email once a day. I rebuked it one night as I searched for hotels for Bethany to stay in because of the giant roach infestation in our apartment. It decided to work for me that night, in the name of Jesus. And, we thought we were going to die during the thunder storm Wednesday night.

Week 3- Palacios, TX

Casey Cease, speaker. This was 220 Student Leadership Week- Preteen style. 220 is part of Reach Ministries. We do four camps a year (two high school camps and a preteen camp in the summer, and a winter retreat). Casey did great, but seemed a bit road weary. Understandable. Palacios is a miserable place. It was the worst camp food all summer. Ok, negative things aside. The band beat the crew in wiffleball. My friend Seth and I had a good time being the "Mail Guys" and handed out letters to the kids each day. I also enjoyed watching the daily rain storms. I'm sorry, I'm really struggling to find positive things to write. Oh, I saw some porpoises.

Week 4- SAGU, Waxahachie, TX

Matt Shepperd, speaker. Great week. It was the first of the two 220 Leadership Weeks. I am thankful for two trips to Waffle House that week. The campus was great for camp. Matt is a great communicator, and tons of fun to hang out with. The theme this year was "Restored," and we saw alot of lives, hearts, and relationships restored. God is welcomed and expected to move at 220 camps (which is not always the case at other camps, sad to say), and He always does. Amazing what happens when His people gather and beg Him to move in more powerful ways than they've seen. Check out Matt's ministry, I Am Change. My eyes were opened to the global issue of clean water. And no matter how trendy it is, Ethos is not doing enough. Please support this ministry. It's a problem that is actually relatively easy to solve, but just takes some selfless support. Clean water can be provided for most of the world for $10 billion a year. In the U.S. (which is only 5% of the world's wealth), we spent almost $480 billion at Christmas time last year.

Week 5- Camp Chaparral, Wichita Falls, TX

Maybe it's better I can't remember the camp pastor's name this week. That way I can speak more honestly. It's frustrating to feel like over the years I've come to learn about a gospel of grace, I've come to find freedom in Christ, instead of a list of rules to follow, and to see a group of teens be taught almost the exact opposite. I don't even know what to say without ranting for pages and pages. I guess it boils down to this: There was a message spoken this week of change - from the outside in. That's not how it works. Remember Week 1? Our spirits are redeemed. There is no secular/sacred, as far as I can tell. If the church continues to separate itself from what's going on in the world by ignoring the music and movies and art of this day, we will never have a voice to bring hope to this world. God can use a "secular" song or movie to speak truth just as much (if not more) than He can through a "Christian" song (and WAY MORE than Christian movies). God's only requirement is that we love Him and love others. If we do that, we will know what is right for us to listen to and watch. Some things affect me differently than they do you. I know I can't see certain movies because of what they make me think. I know some music plants impure thoughts in me. That's because I rely on the Spirit of God in me to show me how I need to live. I can't rely on a list of "can" and "cannot" to know what is right for me, because that's just going to take away my need to trust God, and my ability to think and reason and really explore my world. If that happens, I might miss God somewhere I wouldn't expect Him. And alot of "Christian" music just makes me mad. So, according to some people's theology, I should only listen to that music. Oh, and here's a tip for anyone who is just itching to be a preacher. If you're going to slam the culture, and technology, and music, and movies (and call people "punk kids" and "pre-christians"), don't use movie clips in your sermons. It negates everything you've preached. And I thought good Christians boycotted Disney, anyway. Oh, yeah, and when the worship leader ends worship on Thursday night by allowing the Spirit to speak through Him, basically also negating everything you've spoken in order to emotionally guilt kids into false repentance and "just in case" salvation so you can report more numbers, NEVER EVER use the phrase "How about a hand clap for sensitivity." Never has there been a more oxymoronic statement. I also had the most excruciating neck pain I've ever experienced as a result of weeks of playing, traveling, and loading gear. I got an emergency massage which relieved the knots in my upper body, but spent the next three days nursing the pain and not able to turn my head freely.

Week 6- MSU, Wichita Falls, TX

Matt Shepperd, speaker. This was the second of the 220 leadership weeks. We've experienced spiritual warfare at 220 camps before (it's to be expected when your focus is glorifying God), and this was no exception. It was intense. I'll try to keep it short, email me if you want more details. Basically the place was freaky to begin with. My skin crawled when we walked through the room the week before to check stuff out. The kids were young and most had never been to a 220 camp before, so it was a bit frustrating that they never were quite connected to what was going on. There was never a spirit of reverence, or any night that just really felt like the kids were awed by who God was. There was some, but not what I expected. Thursday night was unforgettable. Matt Shepperd was backstage waiting to preach, and we were leading worship. We started doing a song called "Healer," which says "I believe You're my healer, I believe You are all I need." John was leading and I could tell his mind was on intercession for the kids. As the song progressed, he stopped playing piano and lifted his arms to worship, then just laid his head on the piano and wept (he said later it was like a rushing wind blew over him). I reached over to my stage piano and we finished the song. There was a feeling in our playing that had not been there, and is hard to describe. After we finished, and John was playing again, I bent over my keyboard, head in hands, very short of breath, and wept. I wasn't sad, I wasn't broken over anything, it was unexplainable in human terms. I knew the Holy Spirit was right with us on that stage. Later I found out that Matt had been sitting on the stairs not 15 feet behind me, and felt a presence behind him. Instinctively he reached back and basically threw it in front of him, and put his hands out and started praying and walking towards the door. There were other freaky backstage stories, too, like when one of our staff guys was on the catwalk taking pictures during worship, and he felt like something was trying to push him off. I remember seeing him run down the stairs out of the corner of my eye. The next morning started out like a typical Friday morning at 220 camp. We usually have a 1 1/2 hour service with a short message, communion, prayer over the students, a few joyful songs, and then go home. I don't want to exploit the situation, so I'll just say that there was a girl who is demon-possessed. John was talking to her, and said something that made the demon mad, and she dropped to the ground and tried to hit her head on a brick wall. They constrained her and people joined around to pray. I don't usually feel the need to be in the middle of those situations, but for whatever reason I rushed over to pray. The same feeling from Thursday night came over me as I approached, and I could barely stand. My legs were shaking. I've heard some things about demon possession before, but nothing can prepare you for that. I can honestly say that it was not a human face I was looking at. Sure, it was this poor girl who had been hurt by so much in the past, but her facial features were different. One leader called out the type of demon by name, and she turned to him and sneered. John was begging her to just say the name "Jesus," and it was amazing to watch how she fought and struggled to even speak the name that could bring healing. Part of her bondage was rooted in deep unforgiveness. Once she was faced with that, and could forgive a friend, she snapped out of it and sat up.

I posted this earlier today with a few more details, but then when I checked this evening, the post was cut off in the middle of that story. The enemy has been and will continue to be defeated, and doesn't want these victories to be shared. He hates us. He hates that this girl has begun healing. She's not free completely (there are deep levels of hurt), so keep her in prayer. Keep in mind that these things happen all around us. If we're saved, the only tactic the enemy has is fear. Through the Spirit of God, we have authority over these things. They're so strong, but God is stronger, and He lives in us.


Midsummer Night's Blog

I'm proud to say that I am the official low score holder at, and tied the course record for ... gosh, I can't remember the name of the place. But I played mini golf this evening with my cousins. And I scored a 36. Just to tell you how amazing this is, if nobody else gets a lower score this month, then I will receive a trophy. I only started playing bad once I realized I was about to beat the record. Other than that I was pretty unstoppable.

This week had a pretty crazy few days attached to it. I was in Palacios, TX all week for a pre-teen camp. That was pretty cool, very laid-back, somewhat restful. God really did some work in those kids' hearts, it was fun to see. And, the band beat the crew in wiffleball ... again. Palacios is still one of the grossest places in Texas, and it stormed at least once every day (I liked that part). The camp food was close to awful, so there were alot of Sonic and Dairy Queen meals.

Thursday, camp ended at 12, so I packed up real quick, grabbed some lunch, and headed off to Temple, a short 4 hour drive, where I was going to play with Jared Johnson. We played at Duckhorn Tavern, and I don't think it wins the "Smallest Stage I've Ever Played On" award, but it does win the "Smallest Stage I've Ever Played On With 5 Other Guys." Check it:

Here's a picture of Jared doing his solo set:

And a video of him on "Can You Duet" (on CMT this Spring):

I hadn't seen Bethy since Sunday, so I decided to drive home after we played so I could see her, and not spend an extra night in Temple. That sounded like a great idea back when I thought we were playing 8-12, but once I got there I found out we were playing 10-2! So, that put me on the road pretty late, but our bass player ended up riding back with me, so it worked out. I was tired, but I made it. I got home at 5am, and slept until about 10, cause I had to get up and go to a family reunion.

I can't say I have much to say about the reunion. I didn't know most of the people there, but I did have a good time hanging out with my cousins that came in from Florida, and talking to one of my mom's cousins, who is a guitar player from Louisiana, and plays alot with Percy Sledge. Today we celebrated my Grandma's 86th birthday (I think).

Tomorrow I head off to Waxahachie, TX to join up with the band for camp number 4 this summer. Three more then I'm done.