Look Up BLOG

Nov 23 Do Work Son.

-Matt Ambrose, Director of Project Management

I enjoy work and have had an opportunity to experience quite a few different types of it in my short 28 years.  In each, I find moments of success and accomplishment.  On the other hand, I’ve also felt like hours of my life were useless and mismanaged.  After a few years of working, and conversation with men much wiser than I, here is what I have discovered – Work is dynamic.

Work was here before the fall.  Genesis 2:15 tells us that God put Adam in the garden of Eden to work, and take care of it.  A few verses later we see that God has added to Adams workload when he is given the task of naming all the animals.  All of this happens prior to the fall.  I think it is extremely important that we stop to think about that, because it shows that work isn’t a consequence of the fall, yet something that God has created us to do.  We have been given energy to exercise dominion on the world around us and God’s image is shown when we do that.

Work changed with the fall.  With man’s sin, the work became cursed.  Thorns and thistles come into play, and we are told that we will eat by the sweat of our brow until the day we return to the ground.  So, we do.  We wake up early when we wish we could sleep in.  We blister our hands digging holes just to fill them back in, and my favorite of all, we spend hours finding the perfect words while composing an email that, in the end, no one will read.

So why did I choose to write about work in my first ever attempt at a blog post?  Because God has used work to show me a lot about myself in the last 6 months.  The struggle between fulfillment in what I spend most of my day doing, and despair when I feel unaccomplished has been a great reminder in where my identity truly lies.  While work has redeeming qualities, it is not what has redeemed me.  I want to work in a way that shows that.  Just a little thought for now…

 


Nov 11 Serve. Serving. Service.

-Charity Blackwell

Serve. Serving. Service.

Unfortunately I think those words have become misunderstood in our culture and have even gained a negative connotation. The mindset that I have observed in people and heard through conversation (when discussing coworkers) is, “I will not let them walk all over me.” Sadly, I think this is what many people think of when they think of serving others. I think part of the reason for this is that the first definition under the word serve is, “to act as a servant”. Many would read that and instantly think to themselves, “I will not do that. I will not be anyone’s servant.” I think even believers feel tension with this concept.

So, how do we handle the fact that the Bible tells us that Jesus himself came to earth to be a servant? Mark 10:45 says, ““For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” How do we handle the fact that we are told to serve others? Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Jesus had more liberty than any person has had, yet he chose to use this liberty to serve. He did not exalt himself. He did not take the attitude mentioned in my first paragraph. He humbled himself. He came to the earth in a very lowly way. He washed the feet of his disciples. He died a horrific death, to serve. He served His father. And, he served us.

I find it ironic and sad that the very people that God created, and that Jesus ultimately served through his death, believe that we have the right to say we will not serve others because we view ourselves as more important than servants. How can we exalt ourselves above others when we are sinners and in need of a savior just as they are? Jesus humbled himself, yes, like a servant. He loved us. He served us. He died for us. He gave us all of himself. Now, we are to follow his example. We are to humble ourself. We are to love. We are to serve. We are to do all of this with the goal of pointing others back to Jesus. If we are viewed as “nothing but a servant” then so be it. This life is not about us. It is about showing others the love that we have been shown through Jesus’ ultimate service.

Will this always be fun and easy? No. Was it fun and easy for Jesus to serve? No.

Explaining the heart behind this can be challenging. In a sermon I heard at church a few months ago, I heard good words to explain this. Instead of trying to come up with better words, I will share these with you.

“This kind of life, that has trusted in Christ so much so that we feel compelled to serve others, because He has served us…That life empties you. That life will empty you. It will make you tired. It is not all joy and ease. It is work. There is some suffering that goes with it.

The thing that motivates us is that when we came to Jesus saying, ‘I don’t have any clothes. I don’t have a house. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I can’t deal with my sin on my own. I can’t get into heaven on my own.’ He did not turn us away. We were more desperate than anybody we will meet. He did not just give us some of what He had. He gave us ALL of Himself.

That is the gospel. We were more desperate than anybody we will ever meet and He met us with all of Himself. Since He has so filled us. He asks us to meet others in need with part of ourselves. This should be viewed as an incredible opportunity for us.”

“Through love serve one another.” Practically, what does that look like? I think it takes on many different appearances. It looks like assisting your coworkers in tasks at work, even if it makes your day longer. It looks like sacrificing for your children and pointing them back to Christ. It looks like loving your spouse well and fighting for your marriage, even when you don’t feel like it. It looks like loving foster children who come into your home, even though it makes your life harder. It looks like volunteering your time at church, when really, you just want Sunday to be an “easy” day. These are only a few faces of serving. And when people look at you and ask, “why do you do that” you point them to Jesus and say, “because Jesus loved and served me, I love and serve”.

At Look Up, this is a passion of ours. It has been as long as I have been a part of this family. I remember my first summer as a summer staffer working with a girl who was a true picture of service. I saw her serve others so well, and so selflessly that her face still pops into my mind instantly whenever this topic comes up. She was a picture of Jesus for me. For her, she had a good grasp on this topic. It wasn’t about her. It was about Jesus. He loved her, served her and sacrificed. Therefore, she loved. She served. She sacrificed. She never expected or wanted any credit. She was simply being obedient and pointing others back to Jesus. As believers, this should be our goal.

And in the words of our Executive Director, Greg Boone, here’s a “little Freebie”…This life, though it may be hard and tiring, though it may bring extra work and responsibility, it brings joy. It brings true joy and fulfillment.


Nov 4 We Love Sports

-Program Coordinator, Andrew Cronic

“Life’s about people, not rings. Rings collect dust.” – former UGA Head Coach Mark Richt

I love sports. A lot. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me that my love for sports was detrimental to myself, the people around me, and even my faith over the years. At certain times in life, they were absolutely right. Braves baseball combined with playing baseball and talking to coaches and family members about baseball… I never would have come out and admitted it, but how I spent my time told the story for me: I could’t have cared less about my faith and the people around me. Just give me sports.

Thankfully, the Lord has redeemed me and taught me something invaluable about my love for sports: keep your time in perspective. If all we ever do in life is watch sports, the people who value our time are going to suffer. I have no idea how much time you should be “allowed” to watch sports. I honestly think it’s circumstantial: some days you have things you should do instead of sports, and some days you don’t. With that being said, a simple goal is to make sure I’ve spent time with the Lord, with someone I love (phone call or face to face), and to do something for my health (exercise, cook a healthy dinner) to make sure I haven’t wasted Saturday in front of the TV. If I do those things, I know I haven’t sacrificed my well being (in any manner) to watch sports.

I can’t just worry about my well being with sports, but also the people around me. The quickest way I can show my wife I don’t care about her at all: she gets home from work and wants to talk, all I do is watch sports on TV. Turn the game off, show your wife you care about her. It’ll take a max of 20 minutes to talk with her most days, and then you can turn your game back on. If you missed the home run or the touchdown: there’s 6 major networks I can name off the top of my head and probably 1,000 different apps you can get on your phone that will show you the highlights. In 10 years, I’m not going to remember or care if Texas A&M beat Tennessee. I am going to remember and care if my wife feels loved and cared for in our marriage. Spend your time on what matters. People (and not just your spouse) matter a lot more in the Kingdom than sports.

My one rule is this: never pursue my love of sports at the expense of other people. My wife, my family, and my friends are a lot more important to me, and they’re certainly more important to My Father in Heaven. You can even use sports for the Kingdom. People love to hang out together: if there’s buffalo chicken dip, people relax and build friendships no matter if you care who’s playing. You can even invite your neighbor who you aren’t sure knows the Lord to watch the game with you. You never know when and how the Lord will move.

Your time is crucial, but you can find ways to spend it on who matters most and sports.

Just remember:

Life’s about people, not rings. Rings collect dust.

None of us are playing for championships, but we can still waste all our time, energy, and resources (how much of your budget is spent on tailgates and tickets?) on sports if we aren’t careful.

Life’s about people, not sports. Sports are forgotten.


Oct 26 Green Pastures – Do We Get It?

-Walter Howard, Staff Director

Thanks to Facebook’s Memories on this Date, during the last two weeks, I have been periodically reminded that four years ago, I was traveling through Israel with coworkers and friends.  It was a life changing trip at the time, exploring Biblical lands and learning from Ray Vanderlaan, a teacher whose works had impacted me since before I even knew who he was.  His “Faith Study” trips, and teachings in general, serve to help Americans (or “Westerners”, as he liked to call us) understand the culture and “Eastern” customs that the authors and heroes of the Bible lived and breathed.  This insight allowed us to “step into the story”, and to understand the stories in a deeper and fuller way than I had known from just reading them.

So for two weeks, we hiked through the desert, and climbed mountains, and waded in the Jordan, and stood overlooking the valley where David probably faced Goliath.  And throughout the day, RVL would call us together and have us read or recite a familiar passage from Scripture, and then say, “Look around you.  This is what it would’ve looked like, or felt like.  Can you see it?  Can you picture it?  Does the text come alive?”

To be honest, some times the text didn’t come alive and I was hot and sweaty and my feet hurt and I couldn’t remember the name of where we were standing and therefore didn’t understand why it was important that something happened to the right of us as opposed to the left of us. But fortunately, many times, the text did come alive in a very powerful way.  When overlooking the Sea of Galilee and imagining Jesus and the disciples walking along the shore, I was struck with how close everything was and how it made sense that they could hop in a boat and row from one city to the next.  Or visiting a wine press that would’ve been similar to where Jesus was probably staying before His crucifixion, knowing that the weight of what lay before Him would cause Him to sweat drops of blood the same way the grapes would be pressed to make wine, I was overwhelmed with the reminder that Scripture is historically accurate and these things really did happen.

Another simpler lesson, but just as profound, was something we learned while walking through the desert.  First of all, the deserts in Israel are not sandy dunes, like I had always pictured.  They are rocky and mountainous and dusty.  There are occasional shrubs and trees, but it is mainly rocks and boulders, and you’re just as likely to twist your ankle as you are anything else.

So in this desert of rocks and shrubs, we considered God’s promises to His people that He would be their source of provision.  As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 23, God, as the Good Shepherd, wants to lead his people, symbolized as sheep, to green pastures.

 

Now pause right there.

 

When you hear the phrase, “green pastures”, what comes to mind?  If you picture prairies with waist high grass or horses grazing on green hillsides as far as the eye can see, you’re not alone.  Or at least, that’s what I always thought because that’s what I’d seen in America.  However, standing in the middle of the desert, looking for as far as the eye could see, there was nothing of the sort.  So is that passage metaphorical?  Or did the desert used to not be the desert?  Or was God talking about a magical place that we need to accept with blind faith?

No.  None of the above.  What we learned is that, to the shepherd, small tufts of grass (we’d probably think they were weeds if we saw them growing up between cracks in the sidewalk) scattered every five to ten feet, maybe a single mouthful to a hungry sheep, is what the Biblical people would’ve considered “green pastures”.  Now this threw a temporary wrench in my understanding of God’s goodness and ability to provide.  I thought, “the more grass the better.  Why not lead them to fields where they could just roll around in grass for days?”

While that option would’ve probably been what the sheep would’ve voted for, it misses the point that God is trying to make, and is lost on us if we don’t understand the cultural implications.  With little bits of grass scattered about the desert, the sheep are continually dependent on a wise and loving shepherd to guide them to the next bit of grass.  It’s not a one time event, but an ongoing relationship.  In my non-biblical interpretation, the good shepherd could just drop the sheep off at the pasture, and they wouldn’t need him anymore, at least not for daily provision.

So the takeaway for me was twofold: one, understanding what the desert was really like gives me a better understanding of how dependent God’s people were on Him to provide food and water and shade and direction.  And two, that God was trying to use those things to teach them the deeper principle that life is found solely in Him.  He is the Good Shepherd who wants to have an ongoing relationship with His people, whom He wants to continue to look to Him for His provision in the right amount and right time.  Just like the little bits of grass were just enough for the sheep as they journeyed through the desert, God’s provision is often just enough for what we need in the moment, for that moment.

So for me, being reminded of many of those lessons from four years ago, I’ve also been reminded of how much I’ve forgotten since then.  I am “sheepishly” reminded by Facebook, “Oh yeah, I spent two weeks walking in Biblical lands, studying the text, being encouraged by the validity and richness of Scripture, and being challenged to live out my faith in light of that.”  I told you it was a life changing trip, and it was at the time, but just like a sheep that’s forgotten how he came to “discover” all these green pastures, I am reminded how easy it is to forget the second part of the example: that God wants to be my continual Good Shepherd and my daily source of provision, in His perfect timing.

So for you, I would hope that you would pause for a few minutes and be reminded of what God has been up to in your life over the last few years.  What are the lessons He has taught you and the ways He has opened your eyes to the richness of His Word?  And secondly, how has He provided in little, daily, hourly, moment by moment, step by step ways, to lead you to your own green pastures?  Maybe not the “everything you’ve ever wanted and could ever hope to imagine pastures”.  But the pastures where you see His loving hand, guiding and providing for you, while continually reminding you that He will never leave you, and never lead you astray.

I hope you’ll take a few moments and be reminded.


Oct 19 Getting Away: The Beauty of Retreats

-Abby Friend, Guest Services Director

When I was in middle school and high school, some of my favorite weekends of the year were the ones spent on weekend retreats with my youth group. Most of the time we would retreat in the fall and spring to a camp a couple hours north of my hometown where we’d spend less than 48 hours cramming in all the fun and growth we could. I’m thankful my youth pastor knew then what I know now – there is value in getting away to have fun with friends and trusted adults, there is growth that happens on retreats that is difficult to replicate elsewhere, and God can do a lot in a weekend.

As we arrived at camp, our excitement would bubble over as we got out of the van and got our first glimpse of the lake and the brightly shining stars. We had arrived, and we knew just by breathing in that cool, changing-season air, that this was going to be good. There was something about being away – away from home and the routine, the weight of school and grades – that I couldn’t have named as a teenager, but that I felt. I felt relief and freedom and joy just by getting outside, staying in cabins, laughing loud and long late into the night. Being away gave everything an extra measure of fun – the volleyball and the dizzy bat relays, shaving cream fights, wiping down tables after meals and playing capture the flag in the dark. Really just waking up in the morning was exciting, because we knew a day of adventure was ahead, and it was all amplified by the beautiful setting and being with friends.

The retreat experience was definitely heightened because I was with several of my closest friends and adults who cared about me. We bonded over conquering fears at the high ropes course, worshipping together, inside jokes, and competitive game play. I felt loved by my youth pastor when we paddled a canoe together during free time. I bonded with another leader over their embarrassing high school memories. My friends and I shared secrets and struggles and prayed for each other, feeling close and vulnerable when we could finally let our guards down. I am still in touch with many of those friends (and adults) 15 years later, and the foundations of our friendship were built on those weekends away.

The beauty of these retreats was that while we were having fun with friends, we were also drawing close to God. Once, after a morning session, we were sent off by ourselves for reflection, and I lay in the cool grass, the sun shining down warming my back and my face. I looked out through the grass and out to the lake, and I just knew that God was with me. He met me (and all of us) as we worshipped and as we spent time alone and corporately in His Word. And as I sat silently in the grass admiring the beauty of His creation, I never wanted to leave, never wanted to know a time when I didn’t feel the warmth of the love I felt right then.

I’ve worked at camps for over 10 years now, and I’ve seen countless groups come away on retreats. My hope and my prayer for them is that they experience the life change I did as a high school student as they get away to meet with God and friends.


Oct 12 Context, Does It Really Matter?

-David Blackwell, Program Director

I think context is one of the most important ideas when it comes to writing, speeches, movies…really anything. Think about this, you hear that someone has taken a giant tanker truck and filled someone else’s house full of water. You simply can’t believe that someone would play such a horrible prank. Then you discover the context – the house was on fire! Appreciation begins to overwhelm you at the thought of a public servant putting themselves at risk to save a family and their home.

When it comes to Scripture, this same appreciation can be missed if we don’t give due attention to the context.

Here is a quick example:

Acts 17:16-34 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Take a minute and read through that part of the Bible, especially if you don’t know the story I’m referencing.

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Okay, thanks. Now you can keep reading.

The context of this passage gives clarity around the boldness of Paul, the uniqueness of the message of the Gospel, and reveals Paul’s broken and gentle heart for the Gentiles.

Check it out:

This passage comes roughly 25 years after the crucifixion of Christ. Paul is in Athens, Greece at the Areopagus. There are some very interesting ideas that can be deciphered from this place as a location for Paul’s sermon. One interesting fact about his location is its ties to Ares, the Greek god of war. Suffice it to say, this was an important historical place for the Greek people. Also, from this vantage point you would have been able to see multiple temples to many false gods. If this sparks some interest, I would encourage you to further study the location and folklore around the gods, the geographical location, and its historical significance.

This sermon also comes roughly seven years after Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Paul has already been on one missionary journey and has experienced some hardships, to say the least. We know that he has been beaten, stoned, and imprisoned twice. In this particular setting, he is a Jewish guy in a foreign town, bringing a roughly 25 year old message of what it means to have life. Greek people hearing this message would most likely have had a measure of fear and trepidation at the thought of this “new” God in whom they were supposed to live, move, and exist. Paul doesn’t attack the idea that the Greek people are religious. In fact he acknowledges they are religious in many aspects. The Greeks were very devoted to their many gods, and believed that if they didn’t appease them, there would be great danger and misfortune in their future. Knowing this, Paul continues his speech with the idea that the One True God is not made by men, has no needs that must be met, does not live in temples, is sovereign in His rule, and gives life and breath. This “new” God is to be sought after and He is not far from any one person. The implication Paul is making to the Greek people is that their gods are man made, needy, far off and distant, aren’t sovereign, and don’t give real life. Paul even mentions that the Greek poets almost got it right and acknowledged the familiar idea to them that “we are his offspring.” The difference being, we are created by a god…just not their gods. Could you imagine the thought that went through the Greek mind – “Oh my, this man better watch out. This message is not going to sit well with the gods. I mean, look around. We can see temples all around us that are intended to keep the gods happy. The gods may hear this man and take revenge on all of us.”

Paul continues with the idea that in God we will live, move, and exist. In him we LIVE (we are resurrected into a new life; that life powers over death), we MOVE (we are set in motion; sent in a direction), we EXIST (we are steadfast and strong in that direction and continue on in it)*. What a powerful line of ideas – the Gospel taking people from death to life, the Gospel giving people the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit leading people in truth. Then Paul says that they must repent, meaning they must change after perceiving something new. This idea most often implies a change to something true from something false. Paul uses the resurrection of Jesus to assure the legitimacy of this new God, and to prove his power as a day of justice is coming. Paul communicates all of this while being direct, but also gentle. He makes it clear to the Greek people that it cannot be both their gods and God. Remember, a Greek person must constantly live to please their gods, so by believing this new message, their lives must change dramatically. And isn’t that the message of the Gospel – that God came down to make dead souls come to life, and continue on steadfastly a new and eternal life. To me, there is no bigger change than from death to life.

How amazing is it that our understanding of this passage can grow immensely by being clear on the context? By gathering historical references, understanding Paul’s life, digging deeper in to the words used, and with the Holy Spirit guiding us in faithful study, the Scripture goes from a silent movie in black and white to a vivid high definition movie with surround sound. Hopefully this will prove beneficial as you continue to grow deeper, closer, and wider in your knowledge of God, His Word, and His work.

*Definitions for these words were discovered using a concordance, a tool we may be able to look in to further in a future blog post!


Oct 5 Respect vs Tolerance

Hear our Executive Director Greg Boone speak on the difference between respect and tolerance when it comes to other people’s opinions.


Oct 8 Volunteers are Awesome

Occasionally Look Up Lodge is blessed to have volunteer groups come and serve around camp. These groups give up a lot of time and effort helping us to make camp the best it can possibly be. Pictured below is a group of men from Vincent, Ohio. Yes, that’s correct, Ohio! The men of Lighthouse Baptist Church first heard of Look Up Lodge when their students joined us for summer camp. Since then, we have been coordinating with the men of Lighthouse to establish a week long building project. It just so happened that the next thing on our to-do list was to update some of the staff houses here on camp. Pictured below is the new deck being installed. Not only did the group install a front deck, they also cut more firewood than we thought was humanly possible! Though the entire group is not pictured below, we thank you all. Stay tuned for a complete look at the new deck very soon.

Interested in volunteering at Look Up Lodge? We would love to have you!

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Sep 14 Vox Bivium – Gap Year School

Lookup Lodge  11/6/05   Owen Riley Photo  Gibbons Peck client  second shoot

Look Up Lodge could not be happier about our partnership with the new gap year school, Vox Bivium. Look Up and Vox have been pooling resources and knowledge for over a year now to create an unforgettable opportunity. Our hope is that Vox Bivium will be another tool that allows people to grow deeper, and to become the Godly leaders that we are all called to be.

Vox Bivium is a nine-month, gap-year school, located at Look Up Lodge, for high-school graduates and college-age young adults who accept the quest to gain clarity and understanding of who they truly are, and what God has called them to do. The program provides guidance for those who seek to find where their “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” where they learn what they most need to do, and what the world needs most to have done. This junction, this crossroads is where Christ calls us. “The voice at the crossroads” is Vox Bivium.

Did you know 8 of the 14 students this year were former campers? For all Vox Bivium info check out www.govox.org

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Aug 25 Marriage Conference, October 9th-11th, 2015

Whether you’ve been married for 50 years or 15 days, the Marriage Conference at Look Up Lodge is a powerful experience for any couple. Spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and invest in growing as husbands and wives. God set out some clear commands for how we are to love each other, even when it isn’t easy. This retreat is a great opportunity to communicate with your spouse and work through how His Word should shape the way we think about Love, Sex, and Marriage. Come spend some time away and take in the beautiful surroundings as we deliver foundational teachings that integrate God’s Word and proven marital techniques.

October 9th-11th, 2015
Price $139 per couple (69.50 per person)
Call today to reserve your spot! 864.836.6392

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