Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What I Learned at Camp

I love camp. I am fortunate enough to get to go to camp a couple times each summer. I am a youth pastor.

Each year prior to camp we look for ways to bring the kids closer to Jesus. We attempt to get the best bands we can for our times of worship. We try to find the best speakers to challenge the students to check their relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we do a great job, sometimes we miss.

At camp we also have plenty of games to entertain the kids. You figure we have to fill 6 days. Kids would be bored out of their minds if we just let them try to entertain themselves all day and night. We play night games like Bible Smugglers and Counselor Hide-n-Seek. We even have a talent show! During the day we have field games and a mud pit. All great ways to keep everyone busy and entertained.

This year we tried to kick up the spiritual aspect of camp, at junior camp. Junior camp is a camp for 4th through 6th graders. Usually we have speakers that do their own music and have their own props. It is an elaborate production. We wondered if junior campers could handle a deeper message.

This year I was the speaker at junior camp. This year we had a worship band similar to the ones we have used at junior high and high school camps. It was an incredible success. The kids met the challenge and ate it up. It was so great to watch little guys worshipping on their own. They did not need to be taught, they knew how to worship.

Lesson learned. Never underestimate the ability of a person, regardless of their age, to worship God.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

Matthew 11:25

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mormon Temple Visit

Today I was given a unique opportunity to go on a tour of the newest Mormon Temple in Newport Beach. The temple will be closed to the general public after August 20. Tours are still available if you too want to see the temple.

There was so much to see and write about; hopefully I can do a good job describing what I saw. As you can see in the picture, the temple is a large building. The tour guide said that the building was constructed of the best building materials available. It must have been incredibly expensive to build. I am finding it incredibly hard just to build a wing of classrooms at my church.

One of the first things we saw at the temple was the baptismal font. The font is a beautiful thing. Steps lead into the font, the water was clear, the font was full and ready for a baptism. Below the font were 12 full size oxen. The oxen were in groups of three facing in four different directions (north, south, east and west). We were told the twelve oxen represent the twelve tribes of Israel. It turns out that baptism is very important to the Mormon faith. Baptism, in the font, can be done for those that have died, ensuring their place in heaven (as long as the dead recipient is willing).

We were also told about the custom of changing clothes before entering the temple. All people, men and women, must change from their worldly clothes and put on white clothes. Their pants and shirt are white. Their shoes and even their tie are white. All of this whiteness signifies purity. When I read in the Old Testament I see times where Moses would tell his people to go and consecrate themselves before the Lord.

We were allowed to visit many of the rooms inside the temple. We went into the Ordinance Rooms where much of the teachings of the Mormon faith are done. Another room that we entered was the Sealing Room. In the Sealing Room a bride and groom are married (sealed) together for eternity. Finally we entered into the Celestial Room. This was room was all white with gold trim. There were no outside interferences, the windows were frosted. The ceiling was very high. The tour guide said that there would be no talking in this room, but offered us the opportunity to pray and listen to God in this room.

Each of these rooms was higher in elevation than the previous. We climbed toward God as we reached the Celestial Room. We were told that God lived in these temples, just as He lived in the tabernacle that Moses was instructed to build. It is here in these temples that we can commune with God.

There were so many things that disturbed me while on this tour, but I just wanted to focus on the building. But it is incredible that after August 20 no one outside the Mormon faith will be allowed to enter this building. As a matter of fact you must also be in good standing with the church to enter the temple. After visiting the temple we ended up at Mariner’s Church. While there I visited the student ministry building. Here I was able to walk the grounds and enter buildings without worrying about my standing in the church. The church was open to all who wanted to enjoy. May we all consider the openness of our churches and may our doors be open to all.