Almost 3 hours of continuous driving has brought Vivian, Anna and I myself back to our home sweet home in Kingsford on Monday night. Headed bed early, but when I woke up yesterday morning, it appeared that 8 hours of sleep still could not flush out the tiredness. Yet deep inside I was still very much excited. On my way to work this morning, I was caught by the PHD again, except it was more intense this time. The 'H' does not stand for 'Holiday', but a short preview of Heaven - 230+ overseas students from FOCUS sitting under one roof, studying God's Word and partaking in Christian fellowship together. Yeah. What a camp.
Topic for this year is "Desiring God". Joshua gave 4 great talks looking at our meaningless desires for the little 'gods' of this world, how God desires for us through salvation in Jesus Christ (thus enabling us to desire for him), our hearts/emotions/knowledge in desiring God, and God's desire for us through his guidance found in the Bible.
I missed out much of the 4th talk (having to entertain Anna outside the hall), but I think it was quite similar to many other guidance talks that Joshua and Phillip have given over the years. The first talk was really a challenge for those who were still seeking earthly treasures (I myself included). Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes was used to bring out the meaninglessness of these "gods" of this world. Solomon in all his wisdom has warned us against these things, but the obstacle is there - and we all know it. Mind of sinful man is shallow, and cannot discern the eternity even with a hint. Need to remind myself - fix our eyes on Jesus, not the Jones next door.
Talk 2 has a twist. Sinful man does not automatically desire God out of his own will. However, what makes us think that God shall automatically desire us, who are his rebellious creation turned his enemies?! In this talk, "desiring" in Desiring God is not used as a verb showing our actions towards God, but an adjective describing the characteristic of God. Because and only because He desires for us, we can now be in peace with him. Very Calvinistic teaching, but it is so true and how often we forget.
I have also only caught half of talk 3. Feeling is not something that shall lead our Christian life - it is the truth that pulls it. I am fine with that as I am not really an excitable person. However, Christian living shall not be without feeling. The comparison at the end between Mr. BoriNg and Mr. Excitable Looi was interesting - we shall not compare "feelings" with each other, as each individual is made different. However, we should examine ourselves - what is our feeling when we learnt that we are saved? How does that compares with other things that excite us in our lives? The right word here should be joy - is there joy in my walk with God? Not necessarily happiness, but a state of peace under all circumstances. I need to work on that...
Another note to the sermons - what is this with Joshua and Starwars? Yes, I've learnt that before becoming a Christian, our real father is
Darth Vader Satan, and a zillion other new illustrations Joshua used in the camp that have referenced Starwars. And no, don't ask me which one has stronger force.
Bible study is on the epistle of Titus. I could not remember when was the last time Titus was studied in MBF (might have been never), but 4 studies on this short letter of Paul were quite challenging yet enjoyable. The theme is on godliness, especially the godly living as the result of the grace of God that brought salvation to all mankind. Personally, I was deeply challenged by how I shall live as a Christian, not only as it is fitting to our status, but, as someone a little bit older in the fellowship, we are also the role models to other younger Christians. After all, for elders/overseers in the church,
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
What stroke me the most was, however, that one does not only need to take care his own life, but also how his children behave.
... if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
As a new father, I think I would need lots of prayer for Anna (very active, quick tempered and rebellious for a 9-month-old) and her future siblings...
As of Bible study group arrangement, I had a big group this year - 12 people including Vivian and Anna. Discussion was lively, and we had a great chat on the application side of things when the group split up into guys and girls. At the end, Bible study and discussions did not do much more than bumping up our head knowledge. We still need God's help to work on renouncing the old self and living up the new self.
Vivian and I only went to one elective - marriage and family seminar ran by Charles on Saturday. Half of the seminar does not apply to me - it was a bit too late for me to ask "why marry" and "why children". There were other issues that we looked at, like ideas on discipline/nurturing godly children. At the end, 90 minutes could not cover all the questions people raised.
We slacked off on Sunday and did not attend an elective, and instead we wondered around with Anna on the camp site. Many good reports however, when I chatted with others about the electives they have gone to. There were so many programmes, electives and seminars prepared by the staff workers each year, and I wonder whether there is an archive of all these material. That would be a great ministry resource to work with and pass on to the next generation of MTS and catechists.
Waterslea at Shoalhaven is gorgeous. Next to a quiet river, nice big patch of green grass, dairy cows wondering by, and it actually has an auditorium hall and a dining hall that are big enough to fit all of us in. There ain't many sporting facility, but MBF managed to occupy themselves with the two ping pong tables in the games room. Vivian, Anna and I had the whole bedroom for ourselves, which is very nice. We didn't have the "noise" like we had last year (even though other MBF guys were still suffering from it), but we still need to wake up 2-3 times each night to calm Anna.
Food was great, but I don't usually complain about the camp food anyway. However, the real treat for me was the real coffee machine in the dining hall. You know, the ones with flashing LED and buttons labelled "Cappuccino", "Latte" and "Espresso", and makes real milk foam. I think I must have overdose myself with nice coffee during the weekend, and the Nestle in the office today just doesn't taste the same.
I think I missed them all. FOCUS Olympics, Concert night, sports, etc - the only thing I've played was ping pong in one afternoon. It was fun though, watching other people having fun. I should have brought my video camera and shoot the whole concert night thingy...
It is also Anna's first time coming to church camp, and it did make the whole camp very different. I was forced to stay outside the main hall half of the time because our dodgy baby monitor does not work indoor. 10 o'clock was our definite sleeping time, and we usually got woken up by her at 6 in the morning. Over the last 5 years I have been trying to be the "pretender" amongst the students. Doesn't work this year...
Two people from MBF became Christians in the camp - CL & NX. Congratulation! Before I set out for the camp, I planned to have at least one conversation with all the non-leading MBF guys. Didn't really manage that, but I did have some good chats.
Can I say that this is the best church camp ever? Now I am really looking forward to next year's.