My mom and step-dad, Cliff, were full-time RVers for a short season, right after they married. When Bill and I decided to start RVing, Cliff became our mentor. He had owned all types of RVs for decades. He and his first wife, Hazel, traveled regularly in them. He was a wealth of information and helped us a lot as we began our RV journey.
One of my main concerns with going “full-time” was what about church? We were faithful members and attenders after God restored our marriage. I couldn’t imagine traveling away from our church for more than a week or two. Cliff was a man of faith and was also a loyal member of a local congregation. He simply said, “most campgrounds have Sunday services.”
Well, that solved that for us. But we did learn, not all campgrounds have a worship service. When they don’t, we go out into the local community and attend a church service. But if there is one to be held at the campground, we will attend. We love the non-denominational aspect and it is fun to meet other campers who are believers. And even better, our Lord is right there with us and HE always has the message for us!
Today (June 26, 2016), we attended church at Canal Campground, Grand Rivers, Kentucky. It falls under the “Land Between the Lakes Area Ministry, which exists to coordinate the religious concerns and resources of the vast Kentucky-Tennessee vacationland related to Kentucky and Barkley Lakes.” The pastor, I’ll call him Chris, for todays service had been in full-time ministry for 10 years, but left for personal reasons. He had been in the Forest Park Service before and the opportunity to return came up. So he serves the Lord as a volunteer on Sundays, although he is coming off of a two year hiatus.
There were 12 of us this morning, so it was intimate. Chris had just been through a very rough two months and felt the sermon today should be about our “destinies” because of what he had been through. He started with a reading of the story of the Prodigal Son, read more here, located in Luke 15:11-32 and then added in the story of Moses when he was disobedient to God, read more here, located in Numbers 20:8-12. He felt he could relate to these two Bible readings because of his own wavering faith. I love it when a Pastor can be so open and transparent.
He shared some of his recent challenges: how to obtain for his autistic son the best possible education (needs to place him in a private school as the public school cannot accommodate him), his daughter is in the normal turbulent teen years, and his precious wife, a nurse, was diagnosed with cancer while the economy is now impacting his employment. All these things have caused him to examine his life carefully, where had he received God’s Grace as a Prodigal Son and more importantly, when had he disobeyed God to the point he may have missed his own “promised land.” He did not really “preach” as much as he shared his own journey and how he knows his marriage is now stronger because of these events, not weaker, and his own faith is now more of, “God, how can you use me?” It was a very thought provoking time of reflection.
The week before, June 19, 2016, we were in the Columbus-Belmont State Park and Campground. Again, the Pastor was a volunteer and an employee who works on the grounds at the park. Personally, I find it refreshing to hear from the heart of men who volunteer their time to minister to others, especially in the campground setting.
I knew this was going to be a sermon I needed to hear, and hopefully, for my husband as well. After all, we missed church the week before due to our spat, shared here.
He began with the story of the Ark in Ashdod and Ekron, found here: 1 Samuel 5. And then said while some see where God is going, they go the other way as illustrated in this story about the Ark. Basically, we want to do what WE want to do! Not so much what God deems is best and what is for our own good in the end.
Then he took us to James 1:22-24 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
It will go well with our soul if we learn to “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.
He gave us a strong reminder about the purity of our desires as we seek the Kingdom of God, to not fall under Isaiah 1:15: ” When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.” Oh my, have you ever needed to pray for someone in dire straights and then realize, you don’t really know or understand prayer – or the Lord? He shared he can’t imagine the Lord not looking at him when he is praying. We all want that direct connection to the Lord, don’t we?
He reminded us of the prayer of Isaiah, “Here I am Lord, send me!” So the antidote to the Lord not listening to our prayers is beautiful:
‘Come now, and let us reason together,’
Says the LORD,
‘Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
‘If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.’
Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-20
Of course, Jesus PAID the price for our sins by his death on the cross and after His resurrection, He NOW sits at the right hand of God. These verses are prophecy about how our scarlet sins will become white as snow – forgiven!
And finally, as he reminded us with this scripture and to remember, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what we are going through, God IS in control!
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14