Resource Recommendation: Homesick and Happy

Every now and then we see books posted on twitter or on camp blogs and they catch our eye. This one, Homesick and Happy by Dr. Michael Thompson was incredibly readable and did a great job of explaining benefits of a camp environment. We frequently have first time campers who are nervous, but a lot of the time their apprehension about the new situation is outmatched by their parent’s fear of the unknown. Every family is different and every child is different, but I really appreciated the look into the “secret camp world” that this book provided. We’ll blog about this book a couple of times, but I wanted to share a passage from the first chapter called “Off They Go.”

“There are many times when my answer to a parenting question has been: Have you thought about sending your child to sleepaway camp? Have you considered that your child needs to be away from you to take this particular developmental leap? I ask because, in the final analysis there are things we cannot do for our children, no matter how much we might want to. In order to successfully accomplish these tasks, to grow in the ways they need to grow, children have to do it on their own, and usually away from their parents, sometimes overnight, sometimes for days or weeks or even months.

In my conversations with parents, they are often surprised and relieved to learn that, developmentally speaking, there is a limit to what they can and should do for their children. More specifically there are eight fundamental things that parents want to do for or give their children but cannot:

1.We cannot make our children happy.
2.We cannot give our children high self-esteem.
3.We cannot make friends for our children or micromanage their friendships.
4.We cannot successfully double as our child’s agent, manager, and coach.
5.We cannot create the ‘second family’ for which our child yearns in order to facilitate his or her own growth.
6.It is increasingly apparent that we parents cannot compete with or limit our children’s total immersion in the online, digital, and social media realms.
7.We cannot keep our children perfectly safe, but we can drive them crazy trying.
8.We cannot make our children independent.

I understand from my conversations with parents over the years that they wish they could do all of these things. But let’s take a closer look. I hope that you will come to appreciate why, as parents, we cannot accomplish what are essentially our children’s developmental tasks.”

Camp proves a safe environment for kids to explore, learn, and grow in identity and responsibility. Let us know what you think.

Parsha Post: Behar

This week’s parsha is from Leviticus 25-26:2 and Jeremiah 32:6-27. We are still in Leviticus, but this week’s parsha is pretty brief and I am excited to get into the book of Numbers in a few weeks! Behar means “on the mount” because the parsha begins with God speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai. What God tells Moses has to do with giving the land rest. This rest was a test of faith for Israel because like with the manna in the wilderness they could not make food appear for themselves, they had to trust that God would provide enough ahead of time in order for them to survive. Every seven years the land was to have a rest and then every 7th cycle of 7 years there was to be a year of Jubilee for the land. In this year slaves were to be released and land was to be returned to its original owner. All of this, like shabbat, was a reminder that all time, land, and people ultimately belong to God and we are dependent not on ourselves, but on him.

The Haftorah is a prophecy concerning the restitution of the children of Israel to their land. Though they were in exile at the time of Jeremiah, God had not forgotten them and would return them to their home.

Leviticus 25:23 says “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” I really like the picture of Israel and of believers as being aliens, strangers, sojourners, or foreigners. This parsha reminds me of 1 Peter 1:14-19, because Peter is writing to Jewish followers of Jesus who are enduring persecution for their faith. He encourages them to remember that their true master is God and that their true home is in Heaven. He says, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”

Like the land and even servants in the sabbatical and jubilee years, we belong to God. Because of Yeshua, we have been bought by God, redeemed–and we belong to him. This week, let us encourage one another with the reality that though we live among sinful people in a fallen world, we belong to God and our home is in Heaven. We don’t need to be redeemed again each week or even every 7 years, or 50 years, but Yeshua accomplished our once and for all redemption. What hope we have in him!

Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal!

Parsha Post: Emor

This week’s parsha finds us in Leviticus 21:1- 24:23 and in Ezekiel 44:15-31. Emor means “speak” and don’t worry, after this we just have 2 more parshot from Leviticus. It is called “speak” because this parsha is a series of statements that God is giving to Moses and saying “speak ______ to Aaron and his sons.” These statements have to do with the priesthood being holy before the Lord and conducting themselves in all of their actions with holiness. He continues by giving the feast and festival days and instructions for the times the community of Israel is supposed to come together to worship Him. In chapter 24 there is a story about a man who is guilty of blasphemy and the subsequent punishment. This section continues with a list of other crimes and their just punishments. In the midst of these very specific rules and proscriptions we find God explaining what they are for. In Leviticus 22:31-33 he says, “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. Do not profane my holy name, for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who made you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.”

Keep that verse in mind as we transition briefly to the Haftarah portion in Ezekiel. The Ezekiel portion is also dealing with rules concerning the priests. Ezekiel 44:28 says, “‘I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession.” The Levites/priests were to receive no land inheritance among the other tribes, but rather the tabernacle /Temple and service to God were to be their inheritance.

As we’ve mentioned in past weeks, these weeks of parshot in Leviticus can be difficult to read through, but the principles in them are important and meaningful. Why was it so important that the priests served God faithfully and honored him in everything they did? As representatives before the people it was their duty and privilege to show the people what the character of God was like. God is holy. His name must be treated with respect. The things he has made and cares for must be treated with respect. People are valuable because they are made in the image of their Creator and must be treated well. In Leviticus 22 God calls himself the Lord, who makes you holy. We are able to have relationship with God because he makes us holy and acceptable to be in his presence. For the priests whose privilege it was to minister before God on behalf of the people, there was no better reward or inheritance.

Because of what Yeshua has done for us in his completed sacrifice for us on the cross we are made presentable before God. It is not our sin that defines us, but the holiness/sanctification given by Yeshua. The Ezekiel portion reminds me of 1 Peter 1:3-5,”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” The priests had a special inheritance and because of what Yeshua has done on our behalf we do too. We get to share in his inheritance.

We hope that these words will be an encouragement to you this week. God’s laws are so that we might learn of his holiness, that we might accept the offer of holiness through Yeshua, and that we might find God as our inheritance.

Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,