Monday, May 30, 2011

We've Been Drenched! it was finally our turn to get in on the tornado action, although so very minor compared to Joplin and Alabama and Oklahoma.  Several trees/large limbs down, some on power lines, one on a house, but no one was injured and nothing was damaged except a minor roof damage on the house.  We were in the midst of our opening weekend here at camp, with our RVers and leaseholders enjoying their first weekend at camp.  We had quite a large crowd.  So when the tornado warning came and we had to sound the alarm, we had staff directing people to our basement storm shelters.  

Once the storm passed, many volunteers came out with their chain saws, rakes, trucks, and muscles to being clearing up the mess.  It was neat to see the teamwork.  So we thank God for how He graciously protected us in the storm, and provided clean up crews for the downed trees and branches.  There was no damage whatsoever in our RV park, thank the Lord.  That could have been a huge disaster with the large crowd we had in this weekend.

So we got drenched with the rain.  But on Sunday morning in the tabernacle, we were drenched in the Spirit of Christ.  Mark Murphy was our guest singer/speaker, and he was so anointed throughout the whole service.  I had been so thirsty for the presence of the Lord to rain down on us, and when it did, I soaked it in!!  

We've already scheduled Mark to come back again next year for Memorial Day weekend.  He'll also be back this Labor Day, as we are hosting the Nazarene Evangelists Gathering, an annual event for them.  They've chosen Indian Lake Nazarene Camp as their place to gather this year, and will be bringing us special services and singing in our tabernacle on that weekend.  We look forward to that.

Today was our annual Leaseholders Association Meeting.  It was well attended...our largest crowd ever (perhaps 150).  Some important issues were being discussed as to the future of ILNC, and people came to voice their opinion and to get more facts.  It went well...hubby moderated and kept people on track with the discussion.  People were respectful, and those who wanted to speak to the issues were able to do so.  We meet every Monday of Memorial Day weekend to update leaseholders on activities that have occurred the past year, and to discuss what is ahead.  Some have been difficult emotionally to sit through, but today was handled well by everyone involved.

We were busy this past week preparing for the weekend crowd, getting the grounds mowed and cleaned up and looking good.  Our snack bar project was wrapped up and our new summer snack bar hours were in place as of Friday night.  People are very pleased with the new hours, and a few have mentioned how nice the snack bar looks...they like the changes made.  

I'll wrap up this blog posting with my week's devotional thoughts and scriptures that I have high-lighted in my journal.

"The Word for You Today"  (devotional magazine...see side bar)
1.  Why should we help those who stumble?

  • to preserve their life...sin leads to eternal death
  • to preserve the hurts and separates the body of Christ when sin is tolerated
  • to preserve God's reputation of searching out the lost lamb and restoring it to the fold
2.  How to use your time wisely:
  • make a list of the most important jobs you have to do tomorrow
  • number them in order of priority
  • in the morning start on #1 and stay with it until completed, then go to #2
  • make this a daily habit

3.  How to get out of a spiritual slump:
  • praise your way out (I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be on my mouth.  Ps. 34:1)
  • when you praise God, He releases power to work on your behalf
  • recall God's faithfulness...He has been and will always be there for you
  • focus on God instead of yourself

A good man thinks before he speaks; the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought. (15:27-28)

Humility and reverence for the Lord will make you both wise and honored.  (15:33)

We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God's hands...  Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed.  (16:1-3) 

Happy are all who perfectly follow the laws of God.  Happy are all who search for God and always do his will, rejecting compromise with evil, and walking only in his paths.  You have given us your laws to obey---oh, how I want to follow them consistently.  Then I will not be disgraced, for I will have a clean record.  (119:1-6)

Keep me far from every wrong; help me, undeserving as I am, to obey your laws, for I have chosen to do right.  I cling to your commands and follow them as closely as I can.  Lord, don't let me make a mess of things.  If you will only help me to want your will, then I will follow your laws even more closely.  Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord.  (119:29-34)

And so I am giving a new commandment to you each other just as much as I love you.  Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  (13:34-35)

"Let not your heart be troubled.  You are trusting God, now trust in me.  There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming.  When everything (14:1-6)

I am leaving you a gift...peace of mind and heart!  And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives.  So don't be troubled or afraid.  (14:27)

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.  Live within my love.  When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in his love.  I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your cup of joy will overflow!  I demand that you love each other as much as I love you.  And here is how to measure it...the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends; and you are my friends if you obey me.  (15:9-14)

You didn't choose me.  I chose you!  I appointed you to go and produce lovely fruit always, so that no matter what you ask for from the Father, using my name, he will give it to you.  I demand that you love each other.  (15:16-17)

I chose you to come out of the world.  (15:19)

But I will send the Comforter...the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth.  (15:26)

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.  (16:33)

Make them pure and holy, through teaching them your words of truth.  (17:17)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Gorgeous Sunday in the Making!

Wow...what a day is happening outside!  I walked the dogs around 7 a.m., and it was just a glorious time to be out and about in God's nature.  The trees finally have leaves again, and many plants are in full the lilacs.  The birds and woodpeckers make for delightful music as I walk.  We've had quite a bit of rain (in the nights) this past week, so everything is green and clean.  It's going to get up to 80 degrees today...perfect!  I'd like to think that "winter" is finally behind us.  We have waited a long spring for nice weather like we have had the past few days.

Our ROAM couples are still with us for one more week.  These two couples have been renovating our Snack Bar, and what a difference has been made!!  They did some changes in the layout, opening one wall for a bar height snack bar at which we'll put some higher stools. They tore out old paneling and we now have painted walls and blocks in "Ice Cube"...a blend of light green/light blue...on the walls.  We have new counter tops and a new sink and new cabinets.  We are creating space for the ice cream line to wind back and forth rather than be spread all across the snack bar.  People are going to be so happy with these changes.  And they have come about by free labor.  

ROAM (RVers On A Mission) are gifted people, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, several different trades, who have dedicated their retirement years to helping out Christian camps and churches who cannot afford to hire labor.  They are strictly volunteers.  We buy the materials, they do the work.  We have been blessed with the three couples that have been with us this month.  We treated them at the Das Dutchman Essenhaus Restaurant (Amish food) this past week.  That is excellent food, and no one leaves disappointed!  It's about an hour south of us, but worth the trip!  There are also little shops to browse through, and that night there was an old car show for the guys to browse around while waiting for our number to be called for seating in the restaurant.

This past week was also Work and Win, an annual time of gathering of Senior Citizen volunteers that help spruce up the camp for the coming season.  We had about 50 this year, I think it was our largest turnout thus far.  They each choose what they want to work with, and there is something for everyone.  We provide free lodging (if they need it) and meals for the three days they are helping us.  The things they accomplished for the camp are:

  • cleaning down the dining hall, putting up new blinds, and refreshing the curtains, as well as new tablecloths
  • power washing several buildings and washing windows inside and out
  • mowing
  • replacing boards on the beach boardwalk
  • cleaning out the duplexes and cabins, wiping down walls and mattresses and putting up curtains
  • wiping down all the pews in the tabernacle and sweeping the pew pads; wiping down the tabernacle walls, washing the windows, cleaning the side rooms, including the the cribs and washing the toys
  • gutting out the tabernacle bathrooms to be reworked with a handicap stall in each one, new toilets, fresh paint
  • replacing toilets in our big bath out near the RVs and cabins, and fresh paint
  • replacing doors on our duplexes
  • painting our camp hay wagon
  • fresh paint on our bumper guards and SLOW signs on the roads
  • landscaping
  • cleaning and reorganizing the used book "store" cabin
There are probably projects I have forgotten, but I'm telling you it was amazing all the work that was accomplished.  Some of it, like our tabernacle baths, is on-going, but what a difference has been made.  We are now ready for the summer camping crowd.  We could never do this without volunteers, so we are very grateful.  Also, God kept the rains away during the day, and allowed the down pours overnight.  

We treated the volunteers to a sing-along concert with Smith and Smith...a couple on the grounds during the summer that do "gigs"  during the winter months in Florida, and various places in Michigan during the summer.  They both play guitars and sing all kinds of music...lots of oldies...50's and 60's hits, Christian, country, patriotic.  It's always fun to be at their concerts because you do find yourself singing along with a song you hadn't heard in years.  They are a neat couple!  We have also used them on our hay wagon rides...very entertaining!  Thank goodness they reside right here on the camp grounds.  They also both volunteer their labors all summer long by mowing the grounds and working with camp registration and other office related items. 

Last night hubby and I hosted a porch pizza and ice cream gathering for our Roamers and another couple who spend their summer here in volunteer service, along with another staff member.  It was nice to just relax and share our life's experiences with one another.  All but two of us (me and another wife) had been on Work and Witness mission trips abroad, and they had many interesting stories to tell from the jungles and cities of Peru and Africa and Brazil and Ecuador.  God only knows what rewards He has stored up for those who have served Him in such a sacrificial manner.

Notes from my daily devotional reading from this past week will complete this blog entry.

From "The Word for You Today":

1 - "Honoring His Name"
  • we honor the name of Jesus by doing his will on earth
  • we must make sure our walk matches our talk:
  • care about others - serve them
  • don't cheat on our spouse or our taxes
  • pay our bills on time
  • don't short-change our employers
2 - "God's Customized Plan for Your Life"
  • God works in your life as you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, think on his thoughts, and use your gifts he has given you
  • as you say yes to his will, he empowers you to accomplish it
  • God calls you to follow him daily, step by step, and as you do, his will unfolds as you walk in obedience to him
  • in order to become more like God's Son, Jesus, you will be tested and tried so that you become molded in the image of Jesus...having his response, his attitude, his perspective
  • following his plan is a moment by moment decision and choice in which you grow in his strength as you are obedient to him
3 - "Seeing the Big Picture"
  • trust God, no matter what
  • fulfill your responsibilities
  • God moves in ways we don't understand
4 - "Let Jesus Solve Your Problem"
  • miracles happen as we obey Jesus, not before
  • identify your problem, give it to Jesus, do what he says...and watch him work!
5 - "When Someone Stumbles, Help Them"
  • help them acknowledge their failure
  • help them accept responsibility for their sin
  • help them repent
  • help them make restitution
  • help them grow stronger through their failure
  • help them respond to God with gratitude
  • gentleness is understanding and acceptance, not agreeing
  • humility is to acknowledge that we also are vulnerable to sin
  • love and empathy will walk and weep with others while they are being restored
  • preserve their life, for sin leads to eternal death
  • preserve the church, for it hurts and separates the Body of Christ when sin is tolerated
  • preserve God's reputation by searching out the lost lamb and restoring it to the flock

  • God doesn't listen to evil men, but he has open ears to those who worship him and do his will.  (9:31)
  • Jesus told her, "I am the one who raises the dead and gives them life again.  Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again.  He is given eternal life for believing in me and shall never perish. (11:36)

  • How can these men be wise?  The only way to begin is by reverence for God.  For growth in wisdom comes from obeying his laws.  Praise his name forever.  (111:20)
  • In my distress I prayed to the Lord and he answered me and rescued me.  He is for me!  How can I be afraid?  What can mere man do to me?  The Lord is on my side, he will help me.  (118:5-7)

  • A wise man is hungry for truth... (15:14)
  • wonderful it is to be able to say the right thing at the right time!  (15:23)
  • The Lord hates the thoughts of the wicked but delights in kind words.  (15:24-26)
  • A good man thinks before he speaks; the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought.  (15:28)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Night Update

Well, with Easter and Israel behind me, I guess it's time to get back into my weekly blog update, more for my benefit than anyone else's.  Looks like it's been over a month since I last posted a weekly update.  No need to recap the month, but we have had some spring weather, finally, though tonight it is down in the low 40's.  I actually put flowers out this week, and our dogwood is about to burst forth in blossoms.  Sure hope we don't get a frost tonight.

We have a couple of ROAM (RVers On A Mission) couples with us these days, renovating our snack's going to look so nice when they are done!  Don't know the last time it was updated, but not in the 7 years we have been here.  Another couple came back from Florida the first of May to spend their summer with us.  They work non-stop, it seems, and are willing and capable of doing anything we ask.  Another hay wagon is in the making, more bathroom painting, and renovation of our four efficiency "motel" is on their short list.  They also mow and keep the mowers running.  A terrific couple...God sent us a special gift when He sent them our way.  This is the third summer they have come our way.

This coming week is Work and Win...our annual senior citizens volunteer time.  They get free lodging and free meals in exchange for their volunteer efforts.  They more or less get the buildings ready for another summer season of camping.  The boats are out of the tabernacle, and the pews will be set out and cleaned down.  The dining hall will be spruced up, and many of the cabins and duplexes.

A couple of weeks ago we had 60 teenagers in on a weekend to help clean the grounds.  There is no way we could be ready for summer activities without all of these volunteers.  We are so grateful.  So this is the busy part...preparing for our guests and campers.  Sounds like we're going to have good camp numbers this year also.  Registrations are already pouring in for Middle School and High School Camp, as well as Boys and Girls camps.  Check out our web site for more information:

I don't believe I'll update my devotional thoughts from the past month, but perhaps I'll be back with that next Sunday for this week ahead.  I'm still working on my First Peter blog, but very slowly.  These are busy times at the office, getting ready for the summer crowds.  

I finished my Financial Peace University Class with Dave Ramsey.  Hope to carry on with some of the advice I learned in that class.  I continually find that God meets our needs as they arise.  He is so faithful.  I believe in paying the bills first, after tithing, and what we have left is our food and gas budget for the month.  Just when I wonder how we'll make it to the next month, God comes through some how.  This month He gave us an IRS refund, after we had paid in back the end of March.  We had made a mistake and ended up getting a check this past week for the difference.  Wow...just what we needed, when we needed it.  He ALWAYS comes through for us in His perfect timing!

I think that's it for tonight.  Time to go read myself to sleep.  We are going shopping in the morning for new counter top for the snack bar.  And another week is on the way!

How can these men be wise?  The only way to begin is by reverence for God.  For growth in wisdom comes from obeying his laws.  Praise his name forever!  (Psalm 111:10)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 19

Chapter 19 - Thursday continued

Once again I was at the Garden Tomb. I entered the empty tomb to see the place where Jesus had laid. This was our final visit, our final site on the tour---the empty grave. What a place to end, for it was only the beginning! Jesus raising from the dead was the beginning of eternal life. Best of all, that eternal life is available to all who receive Him. I cannot understand how anyone can reject His love when they truly understand He would have come to this earth and gone through all of His agony just for him or her. How wonderful, though, that He made the sacrifice once for all. Anyone can take freely of the gift of eternal life.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

New foundations have been laid down in my life because of my trip to Israel. The first foundation is my desire to start reading through the Bible again, this time with maps and study guides and really begin to “search the scriptures”. It will now be much more alive to me since I have walked the land.

The second foundation is the 29 new friendships I have to build on. Who knows how our paths will weave in and out through this life, and then we have all eternity to spend together. How nice to have an initial acquaintance in this life.

The third foundation is understanding the purpose of the shoreline in my life---to know God does draw me into His presence to bestow peace, joy, and love upon me, and to strengthen and encourage me. And I know that my final crossing from the shore to the other side is completely in His hands. I do not have to worry about it.

Thank you, Jesus. I love you.

And, my dear friend, I love you too. Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you. Jesus has a journey for you too. Be open to it and believe. Reach out, take His hand, and let Him be your daily Guide. Feel His presence as you journey into everlasting joy with Jesus.

Carol Casarez

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 18

Chapter 18 - Thursday 3/30/89

Our final day in Israel. We had come back to Jerusalem on Wednesday night, and after our evening meal we had a vespers service, a time of sharing what this trip had meant to us. It was a very heart-sharing, heart-warming, heart-touching time. I had asked for one friend to go on this trip with me. God gave me 29 friends...24 from Lee College and five temporary residents in Israel. I love how God multiplies everything He touches.

This day was Land Day, a day commemorating when the Jews took the land from the Arabs. There was a strike on, and most of the shops were closed. Tension was extremely high, and this was the first day I felt any fear. God was with us, though, and protected us through the day. 

We went to the Temple Mount and sat on the steps such as Jesus had taught on. (1999 note: We found out later that someone was shot on those steps about an hour after we were there.) We visited the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall). I saw how slips of paper with prayers on them were stuck in every crack and crevice, like gum is stuck all over the bottom of a table. Inside the Temple Mount we saw the Dome of the Rock, the Moslem shrine to Mohammed. We also went to the Upper Room, the place of the Last Super and Pentecost.

After lunch we went through the Old City, walking the road Jesus walked as He carried His cross (“down the Via Dolorosa”). When we got to Golgotha, I thought about His blood saturating throughout all the land and down through the centuries to reach even me. My heart is broken when I think of all that He suffered in His crucifixion. I almost could not bear to listen to the details, it was so gruesome, so humiliating. Sometimes I get caught up in the joy of the love of Jesus, and I forget all the pain and agony and suffering He went through. He truly suffered far more than any other human being has ever suffered. 

 I thought of how people from all over the world come here to see the sights and view the history of this one Person, but do not really care about HIM. This must make Jesus so sad.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 17

Chapter 17 - Wednesday continued

By the time I left the Sea of Galilee I understood what the shore in my mind meant. I first stood on the shore in 1977. In a dream I looked out across the expanse of water and sky, and it seemed God was reaching out for me. I turned and looked for Paul, and in so doing, God vanished. Was I placing Paul before God? Were my priorities in the right order? 

 In 1980 I knelt at an altar in complete surrender to God. As His Holy Spirit filled me, I sensed I was on a shore and the waves were washing over me, cleansing me, filling me with joy and ecstasy like I had never know before. Love flooded my heart in a new measure...I loved everything and everybody. I felt so pure and squeaky clean, and I felt as though I could see more clearly...everything seemed brighter to me. Since that night I have stood on the shore many times and been alone in the presence of Jesus. I have heard the trumpet playing out across the waters:

“When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul!”

God beckons me to this shore in my mind as a way of drawing me aside to be alone with Him. During these times He reassures me of His love for me, and He builds my faith and dependence upon Him. I know I would never want to face life without Him in control, without knowing I was safely in His care. 

Someday I will stand on that shore again, and Jesus will come and take my hand. Together we will cross that expanse and I will be with Him, forever in His presence. My deepest desire is for that day to come soon. My heart longs to be with the Lover of my soul.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 16

Chapter 16 - Wednesday, 3-29-89

The morning started out with a boat ride, crossing the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. We stopped halfway across the lake to have a time of Bible reading and prayer. Because everyone knew how “sacred” this place was to me, I was privileged to lead the group devotions that morning. That was a very special treat to me.

We visited the Church of the Beatitudes, a place where Jesus taught the multitudes. At the Church of the Heptagon, where Jesus took the fish and bread and feed the 5,000, we had more time to meditate. I sat and gazed at the sea, very open to the message God had for me. I read in my Bible in John 14 and 15 and let His words go straight to my heart, as though it was His personal message to me:

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am...
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it...
If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you...

He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him...

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you...

Every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful...

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples...

You did not choose me but I chose you to go and bear fruit---fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: love each other...
I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 15

Chapter 15 - Tuesday, 3/28/99

The Sea of Galilee is twelve miles long, seven miles wide, and lies 690 feet below sea level. The Jordan River flows through the Sea of Galilee down through the Jordan valley into the Dead Sea. Because the Sea of Galilee lies so low, where it is warmer, and there are high hills around it, where it is cooler, the air mixes and storms can rise up very quickly. It is not unusual to have six foot high waves immediately, making the sea very dangerous to be on. It is understandable why the disciples were afraid in their boat out on the sea in the midst of a storm.

This day we drove to the Syrian border, which is blocked off by rolled barbed wire and guarded by a UN guard. This was the road to Damascus that we could only look down, not travel on. The snow-capped Mt. Hermon could be seen in the distance. We viewed Caesarea-Phillippi ruins, and took a nature walk to a waterfall and to the ruins of Dan. It was here that we saw an archgate dating to the time of Abraham, 1800 BC. We were also in the Golan Heights area, an area of volcanoes. After leaving there, we went to Bethsaida, the home of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, located on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. The day ended with a bonfire on the beach and singing of praise choruses. By now we had all become best buddies with each other, almost like a family.