I slept at 11pm last night, which was perhaps the earliest I’ve ever slept recently. I also needed to recharge my energy and so I retired early in the night. The good thing about smaller cabins is the smaller chance of having people who snore. I guess in my cabin is one person with heavy breathing, but at least it’s not snoring; it would definitely suck otherwise.
Breakfast this morning was just toast and cereal. I guess they don’t quite have the meat yet haha. Oh, forgot to mention, breakfast was at 7:30am, followed by the morning session ay 9am. This meant we had to wake up at about 7am to shower and what not, that’s much earlier than when I would wake these days in the holidays. It was difficult to really change my sleeping patterns. But at camp, that’s bound to happen the first night as you transition from sleeping comfortably in your familiar home to sleeping in a completely different and strange environment. Luckily I wasn’t bitten by mosquitos during the night, but it was quite a hot night. In fact the weather up here in Katoomba is meant to be ridiculously hot this week. I am definitely not prepared for any cold weather.
We got moved into the third row this morning. I might as well go through music and worship while we’re here. The music team was lead by Trevor Hodge this year. It seems I’ve been coming across the Christian artist quite a fair bit over the last year. We saw him again for RICE where he did a music seminar for the leaders as well as let us use a couple of songs for RICE last year. The music team here at next gen is pretty good. They play a lot of the songs in a nice-sounding way. We’re talking about sounding good in light of what is suitable for the lyrics and melody of the song.
Every morning there’s always a small interview and such just as a report and to encourage us throughout the week. Today in one interview, as they brought up to the stage a bunch of people who went to Uganda to do ministry work, a huge spider crawled up along the backdrop!
Pretty scary. Everyone had their attention focussed on the spider as it crawled along the wall until it crawled out of sight. There was our small moment of entertainment.
Mark’s morning talk today was the next section in Matthew 11-13. Can’t remember the verse reference exactly. Today Mark was talking about how the people in Jesus’ time rejected Him, despite all the signs and miracles He had performed. Continuing from yesterday’s passage, we already learned that there was quite some evidence to show that Jesus was indeed the son of God and that He would indeed fulfil many other promises made about him. And yet even despite all this evidence, people who had seen Jesus’ miracles still rejected him and refused to believe and follow him.
These people of course deserved punishment; and the call to us is to put our trust in Jesus and not be like those who rejected him. And when Jesus calls us to follow him, even if we think it might be an arduous task, Jesus says we may leave our burdens with him and carry his yoke for it is light. And our wonder as Christians today, is whether we actually depend on God for our problems. But since Jesus has dealt with the big problem of sin, we therefore can definitely leave our smaller problems with him and depend on Jesus to carry us through.
I guess I learned that we can learn to depend on God more as we take on this “Fight of Your Life” and so we need not be worried about the burdens that would come with fighting for Jesus.
Today in strand groups we did a short systematic theological study on the topic of “Resurrection”, namely the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We basically had to think about what the Bible as a whole said about the topic, and then to look up all the passages in the Bible that we could think of that dealt with the resurrection. It was a long and arduous process because we had to read through each bit of the Bible we found that was related to the resurrection and only then reformulate what we the Bible said about the resurrection based on all the passages we read. And then again we had to think about how the resurrection fits into the story that unfolds in the Bible, and see how significant the resurrection is in the gospel. Clearly it plays a big role and so again we had to re-summarise what the Bible says about the resurrection with regards to its significance in the story of the Bible. And all that pretty much took up two hours.
Lunch today was pies; beef pies, chicken pies, and potato pies.
Today’s afternoon workshop was on “Packaging a Youth Talk”. I was somehow heaps tired during this session despite having coffee during breakfast, and so I had a hard time staying awake, as did many other people. Essentially we went over a bunch of techniques we could employ to better present the Bible to our youth group kids. Clearly, teenagers have a shorter attention span than adults, and are more responsive to things that are aimed for their age group (like Twilight, for instance). And so we just went over a lot of these minor things that would help us get the message clearly across to our audience. It wasn’t particularly helpful for me as I haven’t done a talk since Soul Purpose (funnily enough), and of course the odd talk here and there for youth group. I don’t think we’ll be giving talks anytime in the near future, since there are better ways of teaching the Bible to the youth.
Afterwards we had our strand group outing. Since Andrew is Asian, he was cheap and took us out to lookout spot close to the campsite, where we bought chips and drinks and just had a small picnic there. We had some good conversations with one another as well as played a game of charades towards the end.
Dinner was sausages with mashed potato, carrots and beans. Dessert was apple crumble with bottled custard haha!
In the evening session, they started off by playing a video of short interviews with a few campers, which was shot during the day. I was one of the few who was asked to contribute to the video. The questions they asked me was: 1. Have I ever been in a fight? and 2. What have I most been encouraged by so far at camp? I gave somewhat dodgy answers like “I’ve been in a fight, and sometimes I regret that I got into it” and something that was meant to sound like: “I’ve been encouraged at how God has loved us and still loves us even though at times we don’t recognise or remember it” although I was tired at the time and I wasn’t very articulate with my choice of words when the video was shot. But yeah, I also refuse to expand on the first question right now. I might’ve done so in a previous post, who knows? But anyway, that was my 15 seconds of fame haha.
Raj’s talk tonight continued on how the people of Israel had failed to recognise God’s love for them, and even dared to question why God was angry. The Israelites eventually started making poor sacrifices to God, which were unacceptable because the sacrificed animals were tainted and “blemished”. They were supposed to be giving their best animals to God, but instead they have him something they didn’t want. It’s like giving someone your unwanted and spoilt Christmas present. The thing to ask ourselves was whether we were holding back from God and not giving him our best.
The motivation to give God our all was because He gave us nothing less as well. God did not spare his Son, Jesus, the perfect unblemished sacrifice, for our sins, so that we may have life. Since God gave us a perfect sacrifice, how much more should we be giving our best to God. And I guess that is a challenge for me because it is so easy to give God something that’s good enough, doesn’t have to be our worst, but like it wasn’t the best. I guess I’m challenged to push myself a little more for God, for instance blogging this up at 12:30am Wednesday morning.
I will be sleeping really soon, but yes all the things I’ve learnt so far on this conference have really put me back into the swing of things. The major concern really is to maintain my willingness and energy to serve God, even after the conference ends. I’d certainly hate to have to keep coming back to these conferences just to get a “kick” to not be complacent. And that’s perhaps one of the hardest things to do as a Christian, serving God with our best everyday and continuing to do so everyday. Had a youth group leaders meeting after the talk and then had some spicy Korean ramen for supper, which me and Jacky bought on Sunday before coming to camp. We realised that camp would not have enough food and so we brought extra rations just in case.
And with that, two days are over. The conference seems to be moving by real fast.