As I sit back at my desk after another great Summer Camp it is hard to believe that Summer is almost over and school is starting next week! We had a great small group of students and adults go to summer camp this year, 16 in all. We joined up with our friends from Grace Bible Church in Tempe this year and went up to Tonto Rim Christian Campnear Payson.

One of the reasons I love summer camp so much is because it gives us the unique opportunity to get away from what is normal: cell phones, computers, video games, social media etc... and take time to seriously focus on a few things. This year at summer camp we chose to look at sin. That may seem crazy, why would teenagers want to look at sin, how can that get them excited, how could that be helpful to them?! It proved to be a great topic.

We focused on developing a Biblical understanding of what sin is, trusting that this would give us a greater appreciation for what Christ did for us, ultimately leading to a renewed vigor to pursue holiness and flee from sin. I believe this was accomplished through the faithful preaching of God's Word.

The first night we looked at the reality of the human condition as judged by God from Romans 3:9-20. This was a hard message for all to hear, as we were told, or reminded of, the completely lost and hopeless state that mankind is in outside of Christ due to our own sin. We are by nature and by practice sinners, slaves to sin in all we do, think and say. This night proved to have good small group discussions as we all reflected on our own sinfulness.

The good news of the week was found in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that for our sake God made Jesus Christ to be sin even though he never sinned, so that in Jesus we might become the righteousness of God. This is what we called the great exchange. We exchanged our sinfulness for Jesus' righteousness. This is the best news ever! This is the greatest trade we can ever make, the best deal we could ever close, the best decision we can EVER make! To think that God would forgive us of ALL our sins, even those we have not yet committed. That God would do this for a sinful person like you or I, who has nothing to offer, no redeeming quality, could never repay, is completely hopelessly lost in their sin, that is grace, that is mercy.

I enjoyed so much looking at myself and my sinfulness that week, I enjoyed watching the youth reflect on their sin and hopelessness outside of Christ. Because, the more we looked at how sinful, lost and hopeless we are, the more we stand amazed at the work of Christ on the Cross. The more we appreciate what God has done for us through Jesus, the more we are floored that the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to our sin, and has given us the faith to believe in the work of Christ.

But what was the most exciting thing about camp? That God's word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and it was at work at camp. Many students came home knowing that their salvation is secure, not in anything they have done, but in what God has done through Christ. The difference in conversations in the car on the way to camp and conversations on the way home were night and day different! On the way home students were talking about what they were reading during their quite times and the changes they wanted to make in their lives when they got home! Additionally (best new always comes last!) two students for the first time, were able to see and understand their sin and God's plan of salvation. We had two students place their faith in God and the work of Jesus Christ, making a decision to no longer live a life in rebellion against God but to live their lives in submission to the God of All who has graciously saved them from their sin.

My prayer is that our students will cling to the truths they learned at camp this year. I hope that they will follow through with decisions to live lives of greater holiness for the glory of God. And I look forward to our next summer camp!