I am officially joining the blogging community. Welcome to the first entry. I started this blog with some purposes in mind.

I quite honestly like writing. That’s not to say I’m good at it. If you would like to find good writing, I direct you to the Rabbit Room, a place where many different authors, musicians, pastors, and others have gathered to write what’s on their mind concerning art. I would also recommend Kristi Townsend’s blog. You may or may not know her and don’t have to in order to read it – she paints such a great word picture of events in her life and thoughts that she has that your imagination has no struggle to share the event (if it does, she also adds actual pictures to help). If nothing else, give her a read so if you would like to blog yourself, you see how it is done well.

Back to I like writing. I have had things that go on in my life and in my head that I simply need an outlet for. And if by chance someone stumbles across it and gets some nugget of truth or message, all the better. So that answers the why. Next up is the what.

I chose this title from one of my favorite verses in Scripture – Philippians 3:8. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. That verse has too much depth for anyone to fully experience in one lifetime, let alone the short one I have already lived. But I have found this verse a challenge in so many areas of my life.

I work at New Life Camp in Raleigh, NC full time. I could go into a long list of what I do here, but I’ll keep it simple – I minister to children and their families all year long. I have been doing this now for 5 years. I absolutely love it. No two days are the same. There is something new to be experienced with each opportunity to minister. And I beg to differ with anyone who says it’s not a real job – there can be nothing more real than sharing the Gospel with children and helping those who have already accepted it to grow.

But here is the challenge I am faced with concerning this verse – any call to the ministry is a call to sacrifice. Mine is not a call to sacrifice in the area of possessions for sure – God has met my needs and continues to do so. It is also not a sacrifice of location – New Life Camp is located in growing north Raleigh. A shopping center, hospital, and luxurious development are all across the streets. No, mine is a sacrifice in another area, and frankly, it hurts.

In our Dining Hall, there are photos of all the summer staffs dating back to the early 90’s. I joined summer staff in 1998, so there are at least 10 pictures in there that I connect with. I can look at each picture and each staff member in those pictures and retrace memories – some more than others and some better than others. But as I look through those pictures, I find a common theme. The vast majority of the people in those pictures are no longer at New Life Camp, and I have no earthly clue where they are or what they are doing. There are a select few I can look at and say I still have some form of contact with, but they, too, are gone. And then there are those that I remember quite fondly and do my best to stay in touch with – and they, too, are gone.

The truth is that this is a very special ministry that God in His great will and plan call few to come to, although praise be to Him for the ones who have answered that call. This ministry isn’t all fun and games, either. There is a lot of work to be done. Saturdays off? Very rare. There are many late nights and even mornings poured into the work. There is not much time to experience much else than New Life Camp. So when I see friends from the past going to concerts and traveling to see one another, there’s a certain longing that I have to be free and go with them. I wish for them to come here more often. I find myself nearly crying at the end of this past summer as the truth once again sets in – they are gone and may never come back.

My call to sacrifice is friendships. It’s not that I don’t have any. It’s that so many of them are distant. There is an aching for the goodbyes to end and the distances to be shattered. It’s a longing to be close with those that mean a lot, who have challenged me in my walk with Christ.

Which brings me back to the challenge of the verse. If this is the call to sacrifice I must answer, I will answer it every day. Why? Because everything is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. If I am called to friendships that feel distant to non-existent in exchange for knowing and experiencing my dear Savior more, to see the greatest friendship anyone could ever have increase, I’ll go with my Savior. He laid down His life for me, a guilty sinner deserving of hell. He has lavished His love upon me in ways no earthly friendship ever could. And by placing me here at New Life Camp, He has offered opportunity after opportunity to share His love with others. This is not to say I give up hope on the friendships. Rather, I have more hope because I know that one day, the aching I have to be with them will forever be removed. The distance will be destroyed. The love will be close, sweet, secure, and eternal. Jesus Christ will unite us in His perfect kingdom and goodbye will forever be forgotten. Not only will we be together for all eternity, we will spend it discovering more and more of the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ.

The picture at the top is simply a reminder to me. There are many things along with close friendships I may be called to sacrifice. But I lay them down at the cross, where they are consumed by His holy flame. I will use the platform He has given me here to share His surpassing greatness with others. Whether it be through the summer campfires, the activities here, the online devotions, or even these journals, stories, and thoughts, I want all to see Christ, whatever the cost to me.