Lakeview? Or Lost...

Well, I'm here at Camp Cherokee for another terrific summer. Things are exciting and busy, as always. For example, today I spent four hours driving boats, (complete with an injured camper waterfront drill), I tried to convince my cabin that resting during rest period was a good idea, tried to teach them how to clean a bathhouse properly (we got a perfect score, so either they learned well or I did too much;), dealt with a homesick camper (literally sick:( , and was recently subject to a frightening Indian raid, wherein the whole of camp was carried off by fierce-looking painted savages to the Teepees for the evening program. In between all that I've been busy taking trips to the ER (no more appendix--and hopefully I'll be able to keep the rest of my apparently non-vital organs), and trying to finish up the details to be able to go over to Ethiopia in a month. I've still got to mail things off to get my visa, figure out my insurance, and decide what to take with me; minor details like that.

Unfortunately, despite the awe-inspiring surroundings, despite the amazing, bountiful spiritual feast of camp meeting, despite the morning and evening chapel programs here at camp, the staff worships, our daily cabin devotions, and my own personal worship time (not as much of a priority as it should be), I'm not feeling alive in Christ. Somehow during the day, between my attempts to instill good behavior in my campers, the few witnessing moments I catch, and fights I stop, the relentless striving to be a competent staff member, the advice I give, I'm losing the little bit of the Lifewater I managed to scoop up in the morning. Dr. Clouzet shared a thought from an article by John Ortberg that I just recently recalled. It goes something like this, "One of the best things you can do to improve your spiritual life is to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."

I'll let you ponder that and take from it what you will.

This is what it means for me. If I don't have time for God, then I'm just a walking, talking exhibit from the wax museum, labeled Christian. I might look real, even act fairly nice, but it's just a sham.

God, I've lost You somewhere among the orderly chaos of my own pursuit of excellence. Help me to slow down and listen.



  1. Wow, Joel, I can definitely identify with you there. I have never quite thought of it like you put it, but sometimes we get so busy working for the Lord that we forget why we're working. I will keep you in my prayers. I'm glad that the hospital visits went all right. Keep us over here in Thailand in your prayers as well. God bless you! Keep my sister in line. hihihi, to add to your other stuff to do (or maybe she'll have to keep you out of trouble.)

  2. (gasp) I know the rushed feeling. Thanks for the reminder. It's hard to remember that God is good if we don't look at Him.

    BTW, I read an article recently that stated the purpose of the appendix. It is to repopulate the large intestine with normal flora in the case that they should be wiped out, as in the taking of antibiotics or to help in foreign travel. Take a probiotic! ;)

    I heard about your ER trip! Glad you are okay!

  3. Good post. Ruthless is the right word, but you can't grit your teeth either, and that's a classic paradox. We can't find God by searching, yet we must seek first the kingdom of God. Obviously, transcending the paradox is the key, provided we don't see transcendance as a third option in itself--like Bhuddism.

    Paradox in general all goes back to the central paradox: the mystry of iniquity. It's sure nice to have arguments for why God allowed evil, but its existence in the first place remains the ultimate, paradoxical sore point.

    Luckily, this great paradox can be resolved on a personal level, because in a relationship with the Infinite Being, there cannot be an option between good and evil, or even the meaningless third option of transcendance. There can only be God. He's the only option, the only focus.

    Seeing things this way is equivalent to denying the realities from which the paradox arose. It would be just a senseless mental excercise except there's a Creator who's interested in the excercise. So much so, in fact, that He creates the reality concomittant with the excercise.

    Paul was probably getting at this idea when he talked about the law of freedom taking on the law of sin and death in Romans 8. Clearly, redemption is much more than meets the eye. How else could it solve the most vexing practical and philosophical question we face?

  4. Hey Joel,

    Sounds like you are having a busy summer! Well I have some crazy news! I am going to Ethiopia in like 5days!! Paul e-mailed me about 2 wks ago and asked me if I knew of of any midwives or nurses that could come and help them ASAP. So lets just say that God opened all the doors and told me to go! I will be going with a family friend who is a midwife and together we will be helping the OB department of the hospital. I am leaving the 16th and I will come back the 25th of Aug. When are you coming? Well maybe I will see you in Africa!! Take care and God Bless, amber

  5. I've been feeling exactly the same way and was deeply touched by the sermon Ron Clouzet gave at campmeeting on meditation. I have been working on it, but it is a challenge.

  6. I just wanted to say hi and that I hope your having a wonderful summer much as it sounds like you are. I decided to use this medium to say simply because it seemed easiest at the time. Miss you God Bless Ivan

  7. Phoebe, thanks for the comment, and thank you for all the emails and blog updates! It's fun to be able to keep up with what you guys are doing and we'll be keeping you in our prayers:)

  8. Kelsey, thanks for the educational note. That's fascinating!

    Barry, I had to read your comment twice before I figured out what you were saying;) But it's true--a complete paradigm shift can resolve the most perplexing paradoxes--provided it's absolute, and that's the clincher. It's not that staying God-focused is effortless--it takes a decided effort of will--it's just that the effort required is so completely different from what we're used to. It's not easy to free fall in boundless love. I want so much to be in control! Anyway, good thought.

    Amber, I will get to see you:) for a few days anyway:)

    Ivan--how's life roommate? I'm glad to know that you still have one at least:) I've been thinking about you more lately. I hope we can talk at least once before we head off. Are you still going?

  9. Joel, you're quite considerate of my rambling, which more sucessfully suffocated the central question than resolved it.

    The Christian walk seems both easy and hard because of another more fundamental paradox: original sin. There's no way to see around the original sin paradox, but if we deny reality, we can destroy the paradox completely. However, if we really destroy the paradox, we destroy the concepts of paradox-resolution, such as transcendance, "the third option" and even paradaigm shift.

    Yet how can we express salvation without these concepts? After all, destroying reality unburdens us of both the paradox and our descriptive abilities.

    How, indeed. How can we express something totally new in terms of the old?

    Perhaps we describe the new in terms of the new, which is circular reasoning, and why creative people are somtimes neither logical nor very coherent.

    Try this grammatical nightmare for instance: the new reality is that God is. "is that God is"? God might say "I am that I AM".

    But this crazy sentence is precisly where I see a way out of the whole conundrum. We must accept the simple premise that God is, and make it our primary and totally definitive truth. Then, our focus will simply be on God (there's nothing else).

    Having accepted this truth, there's no sense in saying our focus shifted away from the paradox of original sin. Nothing has shifted anywhere. When God makes a new man, He does it like usual--ex nihilo. After all, a makeover isn't a true creative act.

    In everyday life, however, we're all painfully aware that the Christian walk really is both easy and hard. When we succomb to temption, reality hits hard.

    The key distinction is that our walk with God begins on this earth, where we've been saturated with the reality of sin. The realities of a sinful world make us think our walk with God is both easy and hard. In reality...

    Who's reality? Yours or God's?

    In God's reality, even the good connotations we have with easy and hard are obsolete. When even a drop of God's reality seeps inside us, there's a paradaigm explosion--none of this paradiagm shift foolishness.

    But now, I've argued myself into a corner, because I'm just a complacent sin man. I want to be new man, and no makeover, paradaigm shifted man for me.

  10. Indeed that would be nice. You'll have to give me a call sometime. I tried to call but well I'm presuming that you have been very busy. Anyways we have lots to catch up on. Oh if you want to see recent pictures of boB you can check my blog.


Sorry - I was getting too many spam comments so I turned on moderation. As long as you're not a bot or a troll, I'll approve your comment :)