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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Years ago, the McDonalds corporation conducted an advertising campaign that declared in no uncertain terms, YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY! We’ve all seen ads like that—ones proclaiming that we deserve to own or consume a particular product. Many companies use this marketing approach to get us to buy their coffee, hamburgers, hair products, even toilet tissue. It’s not that I’m against buying nice things—recently I bought a dark chocolate, caramel and peanut-covered apple. Tammy and I definitely enjoyed it! But let me ask you this: Is our worth as human beings really about the things we own and the products we consume?
Advertising campaigns like the one described above are designed to get us to view ourselves more highly than we ought so that we’ll reward ourselves by buying the advertiser’s product. Sadly, that scheme works because our fallen humanity is subject to flattery. Psalm 5:9 NKJV; Romans 16:18 NKJV We see that in the case of Adam and Eve (our first representatives), who rejected God’s good purposes for humanity. The distortion of human nature resulted, though God did not give up on us. He went to work advancing his purpose to bring many sons and daughters to glory. Hebrews 2:10 In doing so, God does not give us a slick sales pitch appealing to our distorted sense of self-worth. Rather, he invites us to trust in and follow his Son, the second Adam, who took on himself our fallen human nature and restored it to what God intended so that in him and by his Spirit, God’s eternal purpose for us would be realized. Ephesians 1:3-14
Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus gave humanity a worth that far exceeds what we could ever deserve, earn or even imagine. The apostle Paul put it this way: “Yea doubtless… I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”. Philippians 3:8 KJV Paul knew that a living, deep relationship with God through Christ has infinite worth — inestimable value — compared to what any finite source could possibly provide. He reached that conclusion by examining his own spiritual heritage, no doubt recalling the words of Psalm 8: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?’”. Psalm 8:4
Have you ever wondered why God came in the person of Jesus the way he did? Couldn’t he have come with angelic hosts displaying power and glory? Couldn’t he have come as a talking animal, or like a Marvel Comics superhero? But as we know, Jesus came in the humblest manner — a helpless infant. His plan was to be put to death in a horrible manner. He did this because he was mindful of us. I cannot help but be encouraged when I remind myself of the amazing truth that though he did not need us, he came anyway. We have nothing to give him except honour, love and appreciation.
Since God does not need us, it prompts the question of our worth. In crass material terms, we’re worth relatively little. The value of the chemicals that compose our body is about US$160.00. If we were to sell the bone marrow, DNA and organs in our body, the price might go up to millions of dollars. But that price does not begin to compare to our true worth. In Jesus, we have inestimable worth as new creations. Jesus is the source of that worth — the worth of a life lived in relationship with God. The triune God brought us into existence from nothing in order that we would be eternally in perfect holy and loving relationship with him. That relationship is a union and communion in which we freely and gladly receive all God gives us. In return, we entrust to him all we are and have.
Christian thinkers over the centuries have expressed the glory of this relationship of love in various ways: Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “This infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.” C.S. Lewis said that, “No one who has experienced [the joy of knowing God] would ever exchange it for all the happiness in the world.” He also said that we humans were made to “run on God.”
God created all that is (including us) because, as the apostle John put it, “God is love”. 1 John 4:8b God’s love is the supreme reality — the basis of all created reality. His love is of infinite value and it is his redeeming and transforming love expressed toward us that gives us our true worth.
Dear friends, let us never lose sight of the reality of God’s love for us. When we have pain, whether physical or emotional, let us remember that God loves us, and will, in his timing, take all pain away. When we have sorrow, loss and grieving, let us remember that God loves us and will, one day, wipe away all tears.
Let me conclude with an analogy that I hope and pray resonates with you. When my children were young, they asked me why I love them. My answer was not that they were good kids who were good looking (which they were, and still are). It was not that they were honour-roll students (which they were). Instead, my answer was that I loved them BECAUSE THEY WERE MINE! That is no mere marketing slogan — it speaks to the core reason of why God loves us: we belong to him, and that makes us more valuable than we can possibly imagine. Let us never forget that!
Rejoicing in our true worth as God’s beloved,
by Jackie Mill
2018 was a transitional year for SEP in the UK as we moved from Loch Lomond to Lagganlia Outdoor Adventure Centre near Kingussie, Scotland.
77 campers and 33 staff gathered from Scotland, England, France, Spain, Holland, America, Canada, Australia and the Bahamas to enjoy 10 action-packed days in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park area and to participate in a wide range of varied activities, such as Archery, Mountain Biking, Hill Walking, Worship Prep, Christian Living, Leatherwork, Sailing, Canoeing and Salsa Dancing. Due to the new location, we were also able to offer some exciting new activities - Skiing, Bouldering and Tree Climbing, with Rock Climbing and Abseiling making a comeback after many years of absence.
The most popular new activity of all proved to be Gorge Walking along the nearby Feshie River — not much walking involved, but a lot of jumping from very high rocks into deep pools, swimming, and a good amount of screaming! Forest Skills was another new activity, run by Geoff Sole, where campers learned all about nature in the wonderful woodland that is part of the Lagganlia site before roasting marshmallows over an open fire.
Traditional SEP evening activities continued to be a feature and were as popular as ever - like the evergreen Cheesy Disco, a loud and boisterous Singalong with a Conga Line moving through and round the premises, a long all-camp game of Capture the Flag in the adjoining woods and a traditional (and very noisy) Scottish Ceilidh. Campers also enjoyed Bull Sessions, where the groups were paired up to play a range of popular SEP games. And Messy Games made a hilarious comeback. We even managed to squeeze in a Final Banquet on the last night, with Salsa Dancing, a Talent Show and the SEP 2018 Awards. Callum Silcox and Nairn Harvey won Best Junior Male and Female Camper awards, with Michael Gibbs and Victoria Garden picking up the prizes for Best Senior Campers.
The Staff at Lagganlia were very impressed with us as a unit, and we were similarly impressed with them, particularly with their commitment to highlighting nature and the environment throughout the activities.
We were also blessed with hot and sunny weather the first week and even though it got cooler the second week, there was little if any rain.
If a successful camp can be measured by all the tear-strewn faces as the campers say their goodbyes on the last day, SEP 2018 was a big hit and a reminder that it is the people first and foremost who make SEP special. That said, we missed those campers and staff who were unable to come this year but hope to see them at future camps and at our upcoming SEP celebration event later this year.
Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make SEP 2018 as good as ever and please join us in praying for another great year when we reconvene for SEP 2019.
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