The Ark Encounter

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There have been thousands of people tour the ark, but it wasn’t crowded at the time we were there.

Recently, my cousin and I drove to Kentucky to see the replica of Noah’s Ark. Dr. Ken Ham used the dimensions found in the Genesis 6 in the Bible. The Ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. It has 3.1 million board feet of timber. This is the biggest timber-framed structure in the world.

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Notice how small the people are standing near the concrete pillars!

We was SO blessed to be at The Ark Encounter on opening day, July 7, 2016!  When I first saw the ark, I thought, “Wow! It’s massive! How ridiculous Noah must have looked in his day to build such a huge ship when it had not even rained before!”

At the entrance there was a video they had made of a reporter interviewing Noah as it may have taken place in his day.  This lady reporter was evil looking with her painted face and sarcastic attitude.  She mocked Noah for building such a huge boat without any way of steering it. You saw the patience in Noah as he pleaded with her to make preparations because God was about to flood the earth and He was providing a way to save all who would believe.  The reporter scorned him and walked away declaring to her friends how crazy this man was.

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As we entered the Ark, we heard the sounds of birds, oxen lowing, and many other animal sounds. And can you imagine the smell of all that fresh wood as we saw the massive timbers, the wooden floors and walls? All the storage areas for food and water and all the cages for the animals were made of wood.  All the water pitchers and bags of grain was organized neatly and secured on wooden shelves.

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The taxidermy was incredible. The animals in the cages looked so real. Right away I noticed the animals were young and small.  This would make sense that when God  sent the pairs of animals to the ark that He would do this.

 

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They would have taken up less space, eaten and drank less, been more resilient, and would have better able to reproduce after being on the ark for a year waiting out the flood. Also, there was plenty of room on the ark for Noah and the animals because God only sent a male and female of each kind of animal. For example, there was only one pair of dogs.  There didn’t need to be a pair of every different kind of dog because the basic genes were in that one pair to procreate the other types of dogs.

It was interesting to see what Noah and his family’s living quarters may have looked like.

IMG_20160707_170040710There were several exhibits in the ark to explain how Noah, his wife, three sons, and their wives probably cared for the animals and lived on the ark. Where the Bible is specific, they had the Bible verses. There was an explanation for how they probably had a way to store the rain water to water the animals for the year. I think it is a common assumption that we are a lot smarter today than Noah and his family were. Ken Ham believes God gave Noah and his family incredible abilities to run a “tight ship.” And why wouldn’t he? It only makes sense.

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I was struck by the awesome responsibility God entrusted Noah with to build this massive structure and care for all these animals! Noah was created to preach about God’s love for a sinful generation of people. They did evil continually and it grieved God that they wouldn’t choose to do right. But Noah was a just man and walked with God and he found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8, 9)

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Noah releasing the raven to see if the waters had receded.

As Noah was busy building this huge structure, he was preaching all the while trying to convince others to join him and be saved from the flood.   The Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man...(Gen. 6:3) God had had enough.

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The only door on the ark. And the Bible says God shut the door after all the animals and Noah entered the ark. (Genesis 7:16)

There is only one door on the ark.  All who were saved from the flood waters, had to enter through that door. This was a picture of Jesus, who later, would come to earth and say, I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

 

 

 

Although Noah faithfully warned the wicked people of the coming judgement, they would not believe him. How sad it must have been for Noah to be so committed to following God’s plan and believing every word God said, but had no neighbors or extended family to join him.

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Wow! If only this could be said of me!

 

Noah’s persistence to obey God for years without seeing any immediate results, is amazing to me. His obedience paid off though.  He and his family was saved from the world wide flood.

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One of the most sobering exhibits.

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The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (Genesis 7:11)

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Noah and his family worshipped God.

One exhibit was particularly interesting to me because my new little grandson will soon be born. There was a display of many children’s books that have illustrations where the animals are hanging off a tiny boat. These are commonly found in church nurseries and Christian homes. They made the point that it’s no wonder people think the ark wasn’t big enough to hold all the animals after being  indoctrinated with these illustrations. These images trivialize man’s sin and the Lord’s righteous and holy character. I had never thought of that before. This makes it appear that God did not provide adequately for those who would believe, repent, and be saved from the flood.

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There was a sign that also got my attention.  It was the devil speaking.

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They also have one of the largest restaurants in the world that is dwarfed by the ark. It  seats 1,500 people, has lots of taxidermy inside and is also made of wood. It is beautiful as it is surrounded by porches with a breath taking view of the nearby mountains.

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Emzara’s Restaurant (Named after Noah’s wife- information obtained from ancient writings.)

They also have a petting zoo.  If you have a chance to go visit The Ark Encounter, I certainly recommend it.  The Creation Museum is about 45 minutes away and it is really interesting to visit there also. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour!  Have a blessed day!

Gaye Hughes

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The sheep were my favorite animals at the petting zoo!

 

 

 

Abby’s Adventures- “Where did that come from?”

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Hiking in the NC mountains

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Wild blueberries

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These pictures were taken by Abby on a hike Saturday afternoon.  The campers arrive each week on Monday afternoon and leave Saturday morning.  After the staff thoroughly cleans the camp, they are free for the afternoon. The following is Abby’s update for this past week. Gaye

Wow. Where do I even begin? I have so much to testify about this week, but I’ll try to pick out the important parts.

I think this week has been the best one I’ve had all summer. Not because of anything I did, but because of everything God has done. I’ve always heard that I should have my devotions and spend time alone with God to pray. But these past few weeks, I’ve realized that it’s not just that I SHOULD have time alone with God… I NEED it. Oh boy do I need it. I don’t always rely on God’s strength. I say that I do, but I don’t always live that out. I have always been very unfaithful in my Bible studies. When I was at school I was “too busy” to have time for anything more than skim reading a chapter or so in the Bible a day. There was no depth. Since I’ve been at camp, I think it’s finally hitting me that my actions are DIRECTLY related to my level of dependence on God. I’m still learning how to die to myself every day, but I have seen improvement and growth. I’m becoming more faithful in my devotions because I know I NEED Him.

31525_20120905_231838_Keep_quotesI'm improvingI won’t go into detail, but Tuesday night I counseled a girl who struggled with homosexuality. God had convicted her of it during the service and she was so broken about her sin. She told me about how she had pushed God and her parents away for months. She stopped going to church and had completely rebelled. But now she was sitting in front of me in tears. It’s amazing how God’s word can change a person.

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At first when she said that she struggled with homosexuality, I started freaking out a little on the inside. I was thinking “I don’t identify with this at all! I have no idea what to say! What if she thinks I’m judging her? How can I show her this in love? What if I say the wrong things?” But as I talked with her, God gave me words to speak. I don’t remember everything I said, but I just remember walking away from it thinking, “Where did that come from?” I knew beyond a doubt that it didn’t come from me. God had worked in her heart so much and all I had to do was watch it happen.

That is one of at least 3 separate times this week that I felt God’s power take over when I was completely unqualified for the job.

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Please pray for the girl I mentioned above. A lot of things are going to have to change in her life. She kept saying, “I just feel trapped in this and I can’t change now.” But we always have the choice to do right. Jesus died to free us from sin. We aren’t slaves to it anymore. It just comes down to when we say we love God, do we mean it? She has a tough road ahead with cutting off some of her close friends, apologizing to her parents, possibly having to repent in front of her church, etc. She knows it’s not going to be easy, but she seemed very firm about her decision to forsake her old lifestyle. Just pray that she will continue to make that decision every day.

58354f6079612402a520db961af9c230daily choicesThere were several other girls I talked with this week who also made really big decisions that will drastically change their lives when they go home. I pray that these won’t just be “camp decisions” that fade away when they go home, but that they will continue to let God show them areas of their life to surrender to Him.

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Nothing that happened this week was because of my strength. I experienced God working as I counseled these girls and it was THE COOLEST!!! I could never have come up with the perfect words to provoke that kind of change in these girls’ lives. God changed their hearts. I’m just so thankful I got to witness it all.

Working at camp this summer has been so rewarding. Seeing lives changed every week never gets old. Now I’m constantly looking for the next opportunity to talk with someone about God, or ask them what God has been teaching them. I’m reminded of how only God can bring true joy and satisfaction. The world has NOTHING on God. Experiencing God is the best high you will ever get.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Abby Hughes

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Here’s the country girl coming out in Abby!

 

Fast Food or Steak and Potatoes?

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Recently, I was asking God to heal someone. It would take a miracle and I knew it. I said, God I know you can do this. Jesus instantly healed a blind man, made a lame man walk, healed the lepers, healed the woman with the blood disorder and raised Lazarus from the dead. As I was praying and reminding God of all He could do, He seemed to ask me, But do you believe that I will do it? Are you really expecting me to do this?

It’s like the people who gathered to pray for rain, but only one brought an umbrella.

As I searched my heart, I realized I had my doubts. I was challenged. I know God has done many miracles in my life, but did I really believe He would do another one? Most of the miracles God has done for me, I didn’t even ask Him for them! He chose to step in and do exceedingly, abundantly above anything I even thought to ask. I was humbled as I remembered some of the many miracles God has done in my life.

I also asked myself if I was praying for healing for this person for selfish reasons that would benefit me. I really didn’t think so.  Then I think the devil stepped into my thinking with, Well, who do you think you are to think God is going to answer your prayer when there’s probably been lots of family and friends praying and it hasn’t helped? The devil is just good like that to discourage us, isn’t he?  I responded with, But what if God choses to use my prayer to change things? And just maybe the health of this person would be a lot worse had it not been for all those other prayers.

I also realized how lacking my prayer life has been in intensity. Oh, I do the “fast food” prayers pretty often, but I sure don’t do enough of the “steak and potato” prayers. As serious as I thought I’d been with God in prayer at times, it occurred to me that I may not even have a clue as to what it’s like to experience deep communion with God.

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James 5:16 says,…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, here are some definitions that helped me understand this better.

Effectual means the power to produce an effect or ardent, the intense degree of zeal, devotion or enthusiasm.

This isn’t a quick prayer said in passing like a lot of mine are or a “send one up” when you feel like it.  This is getting down to business with God. I think of Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 1: 10-13 where she was longing for a child so much she was “in bitterness of soul,” wept, and cried out to God so much that as she prayed the priest thought she was drunk.  It was an all-consuming passion of hers to be a mother. She was desperate.  She got down to business with God. And God answered in the affirmative and gave her a son.

The-value-of-persistent-prayer-is-not-thatFervent means marked by great intensity of feeling. Hannah was definitely in deep emotional pain. And she knew where to take those feelings…to God.

Now for the righteous part! Does that word make you as uneasy as it does me?  I have a hard time thinking of myself as righteous. What does it even mean to be righteous? Again, Webster’s helped me out.

 

Righteous is acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin.

We learn right from wrong from the Bible.

II Timothy 3:16 says,

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I Corinthians 15:34 says, Awake to righteousness, and sin notSo we need to learn what is right and choose to do it. Do right till the stars fall.  At the university I attended there was a sign that read,  It’s never right to do wrong to get the chance to do right.

The problem is, we won’t ever have the desire to do right without God. But when we repent, believe in Jesus, and ask Him to be the Lord of our life, our “wanter” changes.

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Instead of living for ourselves, we want to live for God and do what pleases Him. Philippians 1:11 says we can be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.  For He (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

It’s only through Jesus that we can be right with God. BUT, when we are right with God, we become adopted into His family and become a joint heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17).

untitled boldly prayAnd then we have an Abba Father or “daddy” that we can confidently, directly converse with at any time when we have a need. We can know He loves us, wants a relationship with us, and is willing and ready to help us when we ask.  Hallelujah, what a Savior! But we must ask!

The prayers of the righteous availeth much.  That means they matter a lot whether we can actually see results or not.

My prayer right now is that the ones reading this will join with me to resolve to get more serious about talking with God more intently and listening to Him better.

Have a blessed, prayer-filled day!

Gaye Hughes

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More Abby Adventures!

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Abby (third from left, front row) and the other waitresses serving at the banquet.

Hello friends!  I hope you are well and enjoying your summer! I’ve gotten behind posting about Abby’s adventures at The Wilds Christian Camp.  I’ve been on some adventures of my own!  I’ve decided to save that for later and catch you up on camp life and what God is continuing to teach Abby this summer. – Gaye

Week 5- Eating Humble Pie during the Weak Week

Hey!  We were told at the beginning of the week that this one is usually where it starts to get hard because the constant lack of sleep really catches up with you.  I was thinking, “Oh really?  I thought I was already there!”  I’m running on coffee and God’s grace at this point. Lol!  But I want to share some thoughts from a message I heard this week about weakness.

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The message was on 1 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul tells us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and that His power is perfected in our weakness.  I love this verse.  It has so many applications especially as I get older.  But there were some things he pointed out that I had never thought about before.  I’ve always known that this verse meant that when we are weak, God’s strength will sustain us.  God will give us grace to get through the trials in our lives.

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But the speaker took it to the flip side. This verse is also saying that when we try to rely on our own strength, God will not give us grace, because we aren’t receiving and asking for it.  It’s easy to ask for God’s help in things I know I can’t do on my own.  But what about the things I feel like I’m good at? I need to be asking for God’s grace in EVERY area of my life. I can’t do ANYTHING on my own.

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 I hope I’m not the only one who has done this, but it seems like every time I start getting high and mighty about something, I fail… EPICALLY.  Just this week I was hiking with some friends, and this one girl was going really slowly.  She was having a hard time with the hills and all the roots.  She kept slipping.  I had this thought, “I’m really surefooted.  I’m in such great shape.  I haven’t slipped once!”  Immediately after that thought crossed my mind, I skidded on a rock, scrapped down my leg and fell right on my hip.  I have a few good bruises to remind me to stay humble! Ha ha! God has a way of making sure I don’t get too proud.
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  I’m also really competitive.  I was joking around and bragging about my ping pong skills a few weeks ago and one guy asked if I’d like to play sometime.  I mockingly asked if he could keep it on the table, and he said “I’ll try.”  Well, I found out real quickly that he was in fact very good at ping pong.  I. Got. Creamed.  He slammed it on me every single time.
 These are just a few of many embarrassing stories I could tell you about my pride.  But I just wanted to share that because, when I’m relying on my own strength, I will always fail.  It’s when I humble myself and I KNOW I can’t do it on my own when God really uses me. Have you ever experienced those times when you expected to fail and pleaded for God to help you, and it turned out better than you would have ever imagined?  God chooses to use weak people.  Let’s have a weak week every week so God can be glorified in our lives.
I miss you all!
Abby Hughes

Week 6- Sowing the Seeds of the Gospel

Hey! I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through the summer! July 4th is tomorrow, and I can’t help but get a little homesick when I think about the cookouts, fireworks, watermelon, pies, Frisbee, and countless other things I associate with this holiday. I hope you all enjoy this long weekend with your families!

As operational staff, I don’t always get to know about all the specific stories that go on during a week of camp. But, usually once or twice a week, there is a big invitation given and the counselors can’t talk with everyone, so operational staff go help counsel the campers that want to make a decision. Counseling is a very humbling experience. I feel so inadequate for it, but it’s crazy how God brings verses to your mind. It’s just like Luke 12:12 talks about when it says “for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

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Each time I talk with a camper, I’m reminded of how blessed I have been to grow up in a good home. My heart breaks hearing these girls talk about their parents divorcing, or their brother who is into drugs, or their Dad who doesn’t love them. There are so many bad situations that they are coming from, and at the end of the week, we’re sending them back to that. How can I prepare a child to be a light in their home, or to fight against bitterness, when I only have them for 15 minutes?

I can’t.

There are no magic words I can say. In fact, they probably wouldn’t even remember them if I did. But, the encouraging thing is that isn’t my responsibility. All I can do in those 15 minutes is point them to Christ. He is the only one who can follow them home and help them for the rest of their lives.

I was so encouraged by the testimonies this week. We tend to get discouraged when we don’t see immediate change here at camp. But I was reminded that these youth pastors who bring the campers have been laboring all year long and pouring into these kids, and we just get to pick the fruit. But sometimes, they aren’t ready yet. Sometimes we have the job of laboring, and we may never see the time of harvest.

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One of the testimonies that particularly blessed me was this guy counselor who had a camper who was very closed up. I think his name was John. He had been here at camp before. The counselor who had had him last year, warned John’s new counselor that he didn’t like to participate in activities, wouldn’t talk, and just had a bad attitude about camp in general. Last year John left without making any changes in his life.

This year,  he had the same attitude. He wouldn’t listen in service, he got “lost” a lot, and he wouldn’t open up to anyone. Thursday afternoon all the guys went on a hike, and it just so happened that John and his counselor were walking together behind everyone else. On that hike, he and his counselor talked for a long time about what it means to be a Christian, and John accepted Jesus as his Savior.

It’s amazing to hear how God softens people’s hearts. After John got saved, he was taking notes in the service and witnessing to his cabin. When God changes a life, it’s dramatic! It makes me ask myself, “Where did my fire go?”

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I wanted to share this story because a lot of times I tend to forget that what I’m doing matters. I think about that other counselor who had John in his cabin last year. He didn’t get to see John changed. He wasn’t the one who got to lead him to the Lord. But his love and patience made an impact. When you pour into someone’s life, even if you only come in contact with them for 5 minutes, you are laboring for the Gospel. You may never see the day when that person’s field is white for harvest, but you can be one of the things God uses to bring them to Himself.

It’s comforting and humbling to know that God doesn’t need me, but He wants to use me anyway.

Happy 4th of July!

Abby Hughes

Week 7- We ARE Salt and Light

Hey!  I can’t believe it’s already week 7!  God has been so good this summer.  This weekend we had an SPP Banquet for all of the Partners who support Summer Staff (like me!).  I know driving 12 hours round trip is pretty excessive, so I understand why you couldn’t make it, but I want you to know just how much I appreciate your supporting me this summer.
You have been a blessing to me and to the ministry that continues here at The Wilds Christian Camp.  I wish you could see all the fruits of your support and prayers, but I guess that will just be a surprise that waits for you in heaven.  While on earth, you will never fully know how much you have impacted this world for Christ.  Thank you for all you have done for me and my family.
  This week of camp was the fullest week we’ve had so far.  I think I heard that we had 1,200 campers.  That probably includes the sponsors that came with them, but still, that is a lot of people!
  I feel like being at camp is such a huge opportunity for me to be a witness to all these kids, but sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be at camp to be a witness.  I should be ministering ALL the time.  On weekends I think I have “time off,” but why would I ever stop ministering to a lost world?  People are BEGGING for relief from the pain and heartache.  I have the answer!  Why would I hold that in?
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 I was reminded of this truth just a few hours ago when I went to the store after church.  I was just minding my own business and somehow started talking to a Native American who was working in the store.  Casual conversation turned to spiritual things when I told him I worked at the Wilds Christian Camp.
He had a lot of pantheistic ideas about God being in everything and everything being God.  I listened to his background and asked what religion he considered himself to be.  He had been part of several different groups and pulled a little bit from each one.  I asked if he had been saved and if he was sure that he would go to heaven.  He told me he hoped so.
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  At that point I was able to share with him about how I knew for SURE that I was saved, and how he could be sure too.  I told him about Romans 10:9 and 10 that says if we confess our sins and believe in our hearts, we will be saved.  And God ALWAYS keeps his promises.  He told me he didn’t know how to make life count.  He said “your working at camp, and that’s good!  You’re making a difference for people. But I don’t think I am.”
 So I shared with him how living for GOD is the only way to make your life count.  And if we have a relationship with God, we ARE the SALT of the earth and the LIGHT of the world.  And if we have that relationship, it doesn’t matter where we are, we WILL be influencing the world. His eyes lit up and he asked me to repeat that part and then said “I want to get a tattoo of that!”
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   I don’t know how much of a help I was to that man, or if he even understood all of what I was saying, but I was amazed at how much he wanted to know.  He was so excited about it.  He HUNGERED for God.  The whole world is hungering.  They want hope!  They want God.  Whether they say it or not, that is the only thing that will satisfy their starving hearts.  How selfish I have been to not share the hope I have.
  For me, it’s easy to get into routine and forget how much a responsibility I have as a Christian.  But the cool thing is, Matthew 5 doesn’t say I “will be”  salt and light.  I AM salt and light.  When I accepted Christ I was irreversibly changed.  Now all I have to do is stop quenching my fire.
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   We ARE the salt of the earth, and we ARE the light of the world.  The world needs some salt and light. So let it shine this week!  Feed the starving souls you encounter every day.
Abby Hughes

 

How I KNOW There is a God

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Anna and Danilo June 2016

I recently drove to Oklahoma to visit my daughter, Anna, and son-in-law, Danilo. After several months of delays, disappointments, and searching, they were finally moving from their small apartment into a house and we were excited.

Anna’s friend, Alaina, and I were so blessed to be able to be there to help. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that Anna had already packed up a lot of their things and their living area was filled with boxes. As a result, Danilo had graciously reserved and paid for a nearby hotel room for us.
After twelve hours of driving, we were good and ready for a soft bed. Danilo told us we could sleep in and enjoy the continental breakfast the next morning.

Alaina and I woke up rested and headed downstairs to eat before the long day of moving. As we got on the elevator, we got a good whiff of the bacon and coffee. Once downstairs, as I reached for a plate, we were greeted by a smiling gentleman. He politely asked, Do you have a voucher? With a blank look on my face, No. I didn’t see one in our room. I then noticed the green “ticket” in the hands of those behind us in line.

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Anna and Alaina loving motherhood June 2012

I was embarrassed. It was humiliating. I could tell the people in line were getting annoyed at our conversation. As we walked away, I thought, But we didn’t know we needed a voucher! With the price Danilo paid for that room, why didn’t we have one? When we inquired at the desk, we learned that the meal tickets had to be purchased separately.

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Danilo and his “moving” friends!

We walked away disappointed and hungry. I said, Alaina, we only missed a nice breakfast, but can you imagine what it would be like to stand before God one day and have your whole eternal destiny banking on whether you had “the right ticket” to get into heaven? In that moment Matthew 7:21-23 took on a whole new meaning.

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If I had not had a personal experience with God, these verses would scare me crazy.  Fortunately, my parents taught me about God and took me to church. I often heard verses from the Bible that told me the facts about my condition before God. I’d like to share some of those here.

For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (Romans 10:9-10)

For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:9)

By the time I was eight years old, I could quote most of those verses, but one night as the preacher was saying them, they came alive to me.  They ceased to be just words and I knew God was singling me out and asking me to come to Him. My heart was heavy and I felt like I was carrying a 200 pound backpack.

The preacher said if anyone needed to make things right with God to come to the altar and repent. I didn’t want to do that! How embarrassing! I could talk to God at home.  So at  bedtime, I told God I knew I was a sinner, that I deserved hell, that I was sorry for my sin, and asked Him to forgive me.  Guess what happened? Nothing! Absolutely, nothing.  As serious as I was, I felt no different. I had no peace.

The next time I went to church and the preacher started reading the Bible, my heart started pounding, the weight of my sin was so heavy I could hardly bear it, but I held to my stubborn pride.  I wanted to do it my way. This went on for months. As long as I wasn’t in church I was ok, but every time I heard the preaching, the conviction of my sin weighed me down. I began to dread church, but my parents made me go.

One night after the preacher had finished his message, I could not stand it any longer. I silently said, God, I have tried my best to come to You in private over and over again and nothing has worked.  I know You want me to publicly come to You. I want relief. I’m tired of fighting You. I give up!

When I took the first step for the altar, that weight fell off my back! My heart became light and pure joy flooded my soul! I publically announced that I knew God had forgiven me and come into my heart to live. I wanted to go to heaven and be with Him right then…to thank Him for what He had done for me. I wanted to tell the whole world how God had washed my dirty heart and made it clean!

The Bible says anyone can call out to God at any time and in any place and God hears them, but, in my case, I needed to do it in church and I knew it. God will let each of us know what He requires of us.  We must all come to God on His terms, not our own. My pride kept me from having a relationship with God. I wanted to do it MY way. That never works. We must want God more than anything or anybody else and totally yield our will to His, holding nothing back.

That experience is something I can remember as clearly as if it were yesterday. And during the hardest, darkest, and most loneliest times in my life, I think back to that experience and know my God is with me, loves me, and has a plan and purpose for my life.  I won’t understand on this side of heaven why He kept chasing me when I tried so hard to run from Him, but I’m SO glad He did.

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I know everyone’s experience is different, but I believe according to God’s Word, there are a few necessary components in everyone’s salvation.

  1. There is conviction of sin.
  2. There is belief that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that He died and rose again.
  3. There is repentance.
  4. There is peace and joy.

When your time comes to meet God, will you have the “voucher” needed to get into heaven? It won’t matter how logical your plan seems to you. God will be calling the shots.  It won’t help to claim ignorance. Just like at the breakfast bar, either you will have it or you won’t.  It will be too late to make other arrangements. Your opportunities will have run out.

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)  All it takes is one step in His direction and He will run to meet you.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Abby’s Adventures…Week 3

I was able to visit Abigail at The Wilds Christian Camp in North Carolina a few weeks ago. Although she is busy helping feed a thousand campers each week, she is enjoying it. This is her most recent update of what she’s been doing and what God has been teaching her.

Hey!

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The pretty waitresses at The Wilds Christian Camp- Summer 2016

I hope you are all doing well!  I miss my Cedar Lane family.  There really isn’t any place like TullaHOMEa.

   I’m think most of you have never even heard of The Wilds except for what I’ve told you about it.  I wish you could have the opportunity to see what I’m seeing and experience these beautiful mountains, but since you can’t, I want to give you a little bit of an idea of what camp is like.
     Each week of camp I have a prayer partner cabin.  So when I’m not working as a waitress I go look for my prayer partner cabin for that week.  I usually go tubing down the creek with them or play volleyball in the sand to get to know the girls a little bit.  This week I hiked to 4th falls with them. The falls are breathtaking, but it’s a long difficult hike to get there.  Fortunately, there’s a pool at the bottom of the falls that’s about 12 feet deep.  It’s so rewarding to get to swim after being so hot and tired from the hike.  Here’s a picture of 4th falls.
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The 4th Falls

I also got to ride on The Giant Swing with a girl. We got harnessed into a full body sling, and then was slowly raised to 65 feet high.  The whole time you are looking down at the concrete realizing that the drop is coming, but never knowing when it will be.  You can hear the campers down below yelling “5, 4, 3, 2,1!!!”  But they usually count too early or too late just to throw you off.  Here’s a picture from the top of the swing looking down at camp (you can see the putt-putt course and basketball courts).
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A view from The Giant Swing!

After the drop, you get the ride of your life.  It feels like you’re going to splat into the pavement, but right before you hit, the sling catches you and you soar up like Superman!

 

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Viewing The Giant Swing from below. (Personally, I like this view better!)

    Another Wilds attraction I got to experience with my prayer partners was some fun at the lake.  You can go boating, kayaking, catch and release fishing, or enjoy the water park.  They have a rock wall, a lake trolley, The Blob, a tube slide, and a high jump.  I’m kind of scared of heights, but I feel like I have to suck up my fear in front of the campers.  This week, the girls were a lot braver than I was!  They actually made ME do things I didn’t want to do.  The high jump and the lake trolley are two things I’ve always been uneasy about, but peer pressure got the better of me and I couldn’t resist the “I will if you will” plea.  It was a lot of fun. 🙂  I’m always glad when I try things that scare me.
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The Blob

      So that’s just a little bit about the fun I get to have here. 🙂  I loved getting to know the girls this week.  I was able to counsel one of them about her daily devotions.  I knew the right things to tell her, but I also knew I needed to follow my own advice.
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This whole week, Pastor Jeremy Frazier talked about what it means to be a true disciple.  Jesus was not a people pleaser.  He didn’t want followers who weren’t all in.  He told them to count the cost.  He wanted them to know ahead of time what they were getting into.

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They would have to “take up their cross.”  That phrase had so much more significance back then when people saw that kind of torture up close every week.  He didn’t sugar coat it.  Being a disciple will cost everything.  But it’s worth it.
    Being a Christian in America is not actually very hard to do. It’s just a decision.  I know what I need to do to be closer to God.  I say that I want to be closer to Him, but I don’t always prove it.  I’m willing to do big things for God, but am I willing to do the small things? Do I spend the time it takes cultivating the relationship with Him?  Do I constantly practice dying to self every day?  Do I wake up and start my day with God, or do I press snooze?  I have so much to learn.  Most of the time I feel like these campers are teaching ME rather than the other way around.
  God bless you all this week!
  Abby
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Abby and Gaye

Are You in the Furnace of Affliction?

126cbee9c44f9497dcd44895df12620180a7b2bf“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one that feared God, and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) Doesn’t this sound like a fairytale? But it isn’t! Job was a real man who walked on the same earth we do!I’d like to share some definitions according to Webster’s Dictionary….

blameless: without fault

upright: having or showing a strict regard for what is morally right, honest, fair, making a conscious choice and regularly practicing what is right.

shun: to avoid deliberately and especially habitually.

If Job could live this way, without the Bible to read, then  it’s possible for us to live this way today. If it wasn’t for Job’s example, I would wonder if this kind of lifestyle is even possible in today’s world. But Job’s example gives me hope that it is possible to make good choices everyday and please God.

Job was serious about his faith. He prayed often.  He confessed not only his own sin, but for any unconfessed sin his children may have overlooked. He did all the right things and God richly blessed him with a wife, ten children, several servants, land, and thousands of animals.  He was respected and the most influential man in the East.

Life was good! Then in one single day, within minutes, without warning,  the rug was ripped out from under him and he lost almost everything he held dear in his life. Through a series of events, he lost everything except his life, his wife, and four servants.  I think the servants were only spared so they could bring him the bad news.

Job’s response to his tragedy reveals  his character and devotion to God. He fell to the ground, and worshiped. Then he said,

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Job must have been shocked and numb with grief, yet these are the words that immediately came from his lips. First, I’m amazed at Job’s impressive walk with God. Then, I’m blown away with his righteous response to adversity. But it gets even better!

No one can ignore the way all this came about. One day the angels came to present themselves to God and Satan came with them. (Job 1:6) Have you ever thought about Satan having access to God? Anyway, God asked Satan what he had been doing. (The Bible is clear that God is omniscient so He didn’t ask because He didn’t know.)

Satan said he had been walking around in the earth. I Peter 5:8 warns us to be on guard that the devil is our adversary and as a roaring lion, he walks around seeking whom he may devour. He wants to chew us up and spit us out. You can bet he is still doing that today!

God asked Satan if he had considered Job, an upright man that feared God and deliberately avoided evil. God even said there wasn’t another one like him on earth. (Job 1:8) The devil said that wasn’t anything special.  Why wouldn’t Job love God? God had protected him, blessed Job’s work and made him rich. Satan suggested if all Job’s things were gone, Job would curse God to His face. (vs. 11) So God gave Satan the go-ahead to mess with all Job’s stuff, but forbade him to touch his body. This tells us that God has power over Satan.

I don’t know about you, but this is hard for me to swallow. It appears God is ratting Job out. Why? Doesn’t God bless us for loving and obeying Him? He sure does. He had blessed Job. He blessed Abraham, but then asked him to give up his son. God has much bigger plans than we can understand.

So Satan probably quickly and happily skipped away whistling, planning how he could most torment Job. Although Satan had his hay day, Job faithfully stayed devoted to God and did not sin.

We don’t know how much time passed, but there was yet another day Satan appeared with the angels before God and the conversation was almost verbatim. (Job 2:1)

Satan told God a man would do anything to save his life and if Job’s health was gone, Job would curse God to His face. So God gave him permission to touch Job’s body, but ordered him to not take his life.

That’s when Satan gave Job boils that covered his whole body. Job was in constant torment with itching, oozing sores from head to toe.  Many of you know this truth all too well; Continual, poor health can be one of the biggest trials! It wears even the spiritually strongest people down.  It is frustrating and discouraging. But Job knew a better day was coming.  (see Job 23:10 in pic)

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Many speculate why Job’s wife was spared….maybe to further torture him.  At this point, she suggested Job curse God and die. In the first round of tragedy, Job 1:22 says, Job neither sinned or wrongly accused God in it all. However, after round two when he lost his health, Job clearly attributes his affliction to God. (Job 19) And I have to agree with him. God did allow it. So Job wasn’t wrong in saying that.

When Job’s friends came to “help” him, they just made it all worse. They reasoned that Job clearly had unconfessed sin in his life and if he would just admit it and repent, God would quit punishing him. Job assured them he had already done that. Wow! This amazes me! I don’t feel like I could ever say that I could not think of even one unconfessed sin!

In chapter 29 Job verbally makes an impressive list of how he has lived.

  • He made a covenant with his eyes to not sin with them
  • He had earned respect with those who knew him
  • He relieved the poor
  • He opened his home to travelers
  • He helped orphans, widows, and  the helpless
  • He helped the blind, lame, and abused
  • He visited the bereaved
  • He defended the weak

Job couldn’t understand why God had allowed all this turmoil and he was desperate for answers.  Job had two requests from God. (Job 13;20-22) He asked,

1) That God would lay off the afflictions

2) That God would directly address him, break the silence, and answer him

God did both.  Out of a whirlwind (storm), God asked Job a series of questions. Here are some of my favorites….

  • Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? 
  • Have you ever ordered the morning?
  • Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives?
  • Have you ever been where snow is made?
  • Where do I launch the lightning?
  • Who is the father of rain and dew, the mother of ice and frost?
  • Do you know the first thing about how the sky’s constellations affect things on Earth?
  • Can you get the attention of the clouds and command a shower of rain?
  • Did you teach the eagle to build her nest on the cliff?

Job was humbled,  said he was vile, admitted he had talked too much, and would shut up and listen. God went on to say He was in charge of the universe and basically told Job that He was God and Job wasn’t. Job admitted he had second-guessed God’s purposes and was wrong for doing that and promised to never do it again.

Job repented and asked God to forgive him. God rebuked Job’s friends, but He praised Job for his honesty and sincerity. After Job prayed for his friends God restored his health and doubled his wealth and gave him ten more children. Job lived another 140 years and was able to see four generations before he died a contented, old man.

The Bible doesn’t say that Job ever got an answer to why the trials came, but after he heard from God, that was enough to satisfy him. After feeling so alone in his pain, God broke the silence. Feeling God’s presence is enough to get us through the toughest of days.

As Vance Havner said,

God marks across some of our days, ‘Will explain later.’

That “later” is sometimes not until we get to heaven.

Could it be that God knew He could trust Job to come out on top? I think so. I don’t think God just used Job to get one up on Satan. That would be sin and God is holy.  Just think of all the people down through the ages that have been encouraged by Job’s life to keep going when their world crumbled around them! His life has inspired thousands if not millions.

At the time, Job felt like no one understood and not many knew what he was going through.  He even commented, Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! (Job 19:23) Job had no idea that they WOULD be written down and that thousands would read his story, and as a result,  be inspired to trust God and cling to Him during their trials.

Are you feeling the heat from your furnace of affliction today?  Be encouraged and stay strong. God knows you can walk through this fire and come out on the other side a vessel that He can use and be glorified through. Pain is never wasted if we turn to God through it.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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