Church Camp (Part One)

I was converted to Christ at age 14 while at youth camp. It was glorious! Heaven kissed the earth during those five wonderful days. Then, I returned to my home church and could not understand what happened. The atmosphere was different. Excitement levels were much lower unlike the evening camp services. As a matter of fact, some did not even sing. My pastor preached a fine message from out of God’s Word, but the response time was quiet and minimal, or so I wrongfully judged. 

Here’s where I’m going with this. Services at camp were emotionally charged, very energetic and audience response was off the charts. Youth were seeking the Lord for salvation, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the will of God for their lives. Including me! I was not only saved on a Tuesday evening but also called to preach. It remains the most memorable night of my life!

Back to my small hometown church. It was August 1970. I was beyond excited to tell our tiny congregation about my experiences at camp.  But the opportunity did not present itself. Admittedly, I was disappointed, but I still honored my pastor and everyone else present that day. They were my family! I subsequently remember praying, asking the Lord to make my home church as Spirit-filled and powerful as what I experienced at camp. You see, my understanding was skewed.

Later, I heard a man testify that God touched him in a powerful way during that low volume service. The preached Word mixed with faith exposed soul wounds from his boyhood and the Lord brought emotional healing.

I think we all tend to measure the success of “church” through the eyes of our personal emotional impact. However, we need to remember that where “two or three are gathered in His Name,” He’s present. It’s not about emotional highs or times of deep contemplation. The Holy Spirit touches human hearts whenever and wherever there is surrender to His Word and His will. So, whether the next service you attend is emotionally charged or more serious in its intention, know that God will meet you where you are. You never have to “work Him up to bring Him down.” We don’t have to coax the Lord to bless us.  Through the prophet Jeremiah he said, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (29:11). Emotions are wonderful, but not a tell-tale sign that measures God’s presence in any given service.

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