“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!”
- 2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT

Plant a few seeds, get a small return. Plant many seeds, get a large return. This is one of God’s great gifts to us: Generosity.

Paul encourages followers of Jesus to trust living generously. Chapter 9 of 2 Corinthians talks about the gift of generosity. Paul explains God’s gift is “too wonderful for words.”

Be generous in every phase of life. Put much into life. Invest in people. Spend time in relationships. Share your time. Give of your money. Meet needs and solve problems. Be generous about all things. Don’t do life “on the cheap.” Be a good steward.

God is generous in every way. Trust in His generosity and you will experience the joy of seeing “the harvest” of life.

So, what holds us back from being generous? Here are a few thoughts for consideration:
  • Selfishness: We simply choose not to share. We choose to sow a few seeds in the ground, and there’s not much return.
  • Scarcity: We are concerned that we will not have enough. Creating the illusion that generosity is not a wise option. God asks us to trust Him. He is the source of all generosity. He says that He will take care of us.
  • Spending vs. Investing: The current culture is focused on spending. We are a consumer society. There is not an appropriate focus on saving and investing. It is very difficult to embrace generosity when we are consumed with spending.
  • No Margin: For most people there is no margin in their life. Time, relationships and finances are tapped out. Most USA families do not even have $500- $1,000 in the bank to handle basic small emergencies. Any small disruption in life becomes a major issue when there is no margin. Generosity is lost.
  • Immediacy: Fast results and 24/7 access have taken our eyes off of the time required for good relational, physical, and financial investments in our lives. Generosity thrives off of good “investments” or “seed planting” when it is given time to grow and produce good returns or a “rich harvest.”

Consider a life of generosity. Look for ways to be generous through networks and resources. “Plant more seeds” in this world. Tend to them and give them time to grow, giving you much to share with others.

Dear Jesus,
Thank You for God’s generosity in our lives. Help us embrace a life of generosity to others through our relationships, our time, and our resources. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Ed 80pxEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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As I walked down the gravel road I could feel the cold sneaking into my coat. Winter’s approach grew stronger each day. I’ve lived in cold climates before. I grew up in Indiana and braved the Michigan winters through college. However, this winter felt different. It wasn’t because of the cold or the frost covered grass. It felt different because I was different.

Last winter I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. As a new mom, I was also helping my mom overcome cancer treatment. The winter before, I was newly married and adjusting to life as a wife. I look back at the last two years and I remember how much God can change a person in so little time. In two years I got married, became a mom, and helped my mom through a life-changing illness. It was hard but it was beautiful. God showed me what it means to be compassionate and patient. He also showed me how valuable the gift of life is and how fleeting it can become.

As my family and I settle into our new life at Warm Beach Camp, we are surrounded by an unusually warm and generous community, who every day, reminds us of God’s provision and grace.

1 Corinthians 1:4-10 reads, “I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge. God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers and sisters... be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Can you believe it? As we gather with family and friends let’s remember how God has worked, and is working in us still. Let’s show kindness to others and remember that God is working in each one of them too. Let’s remember how fortunate we are to experience the freedom of relationship with Christ and how blessed we are with the right to exercise that freedom.

We are so blessed to be fervently loved by the Creator. So let’s give thanks to the One who is in everything that is good, and who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

KaylaStikeleather2018 100px webKayla Stikeleather
Marketing Assistant

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TWW Decorators 450pxAs I looked around the room I saw unfamiliar faces, a rarity in my small town. Over 200 people had gathered at my church in Northern Indiana. As a pastor’s kid, I often got roped into every church event and activity. Soup for the Soul, our church’s meal program to the homeless, was no exception. For me, Soup for the Soul was different. As a flawed human being, I overlooked many of the people in my local community who would come to this bi-monthly event.

There were a diverse age group present, most of which I didn’t know. I learned new stories from elder shut-ins I would deliver meals to. They loved the sense of community and warm food. I got to play tag with the young kids two Tuesdays a month. These kids were guaranteed a warm meal and a place to feel welcomed without judgement or hesitation of acceptance.

As I look back at those days I realize that my passion for ministry was birthed from those moments and that I received far more than I gave. I was taught humility, the importance of community, and an understanding of the challenges this world is often filled with. Most importantly, I learned that God meets us where we’re at and He chooses to bless every child. Not just the children with clean clothes and brushed teeth, and not just the children who know Him.

Matthew 25:35-36 reads, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

After this experience, volunteering became so much more to me than a “duty.” I learned that the calling to serve others is mentioned so much in the Bible because it truly reveals the nature of our God and expands our understanding of who He is. What started as a begrudging way to fulfill God’s commandment was a catalyst of change in my own heart. He is a God who cares. A God who loves, and a God who does not forget His children.

Thanksgiving Working Weekend is just around the corner. This weekend is a time when people come and help Warm Beach Camp prepare for The Lights of Christmas festival. It is a huge blessing for the staff to have volunteers work alongside to create an event that brings the hope and joy of Christmas to others.

Would you please join us? Along with the blessing of serving others, it’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself and be part of the community of Christ at Warm Beach Camp. We would love to have you!

Thanksgiving Working Weekend is November 22-25, 2018. Come for a day or for the entire weekend. For more information and to register visit https://www.warmbeach.com/programs/family-programs/thanksgiving-working-weekend

Acts 20:35, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

KaylaStikeleather2018 100px webKayla Stikeleather
Marketing Assistant
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

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glasses 1246611 450“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” - Philippians 4:8 NLT

Have you done an audit on your focus? What do you think about? Would the things you focus on fit into one of the categories Paul provided for us in the Bible?

Most of the news cycle does not focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. How much time are you giving to news? There is a difference between being informed (usually a good thing) and being consumed (usually a bad thing) when it comes to issues of news and culture.

One of the blessings of time spent in a retreat or program at Warm Beach Camp is the ability to refocus on what’s important in life. Here are a few good shifts-in-focus people experience at retreats and camps:
  • Shift from a critical spirit to an encouraging spirit. This makes a big difference in relationships. People who deal with issues from a place of encouragement experience better results.
  • Shift from rhetoric to honest and simple words that are true. It is helpful to be a person who speaks truth and resists unexamined rhetoric. Truth lifts up people to what is right.
  • Shift from what is disgraceful to what is beautiful and pure. All one has to do is spend time watching a sunset, walking the trail on Port Susan Bay, or sit around the campfire with friends to be reminded that a life focused on beauty and purity is so much more satisfying than the ever present examples of broken trust and disgrace being paraded around our culture.

It is amazing to me that it is so hard to stay focused on the goodness of God. I have come to understand that having times of retreat and reflection are an important part of growing closer to God. My focus on life shifts to what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. My spirit is filled with praise to God. My focus is right.

Dear Jesus, thank You for these words from the Apostle Paul. They are as relevant today as they were when they were first penned into a letter. Thank You for helping us focus. Thank you for Warm Beach Camp, a place where people can renew and restore focus on the most important things in life. Thank You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Ed 80pxby Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

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“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” - Psalm 32:8 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.32.8.NLT

It is common for us to want the best. When it comes to the overall direction for our lives, we often find ourselves perplexed and frustrated because we don’t think we are in the best position, the best job, the right relationship, etc… and the search goes on.

Along comes God’s word.

He makes a statement: “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.” Would someone really do that for us?

I don’t know about you, but I have tried doing what I thought would be best for my life, and the results showed that my self-directed approach did not work. What I thought would bring meaning and fulfillment did not. What I thought would have lasting results did not.

Several years ago, I was at a point where my life was not working well in several areas. At that time I asked God to lead. To the best of my ability, I laid down my self-directed nature. I asked the Lord to lead and guide. He has, and He is.

He brought wise counsel into my life. I listened and acted upon the wise counsel. He also brought needed encouragement.

God speaks with more good news: “I will advise you and watch over you.” It is such a blessing to have thoughtful care and oversight. Even though we live in a world that celebrates self-sufficiency, there is no substitute for knowing that someone who actually loves you is looking out for you.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for God the Father’s leading and guiding in the way that is best. It may not be the easiest, but it is best. Thank you for continued guidance and oversight. I give up my self-determined nature to you. In Your name Jesus, Amen

Ed 80pxby Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

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“Warm Beach Camp is where my faith in Jesus became real,” said one summer staff, reflecting on her years as a camper and now staff. As various youth camp staff shared how they had grown closer to God this summer, a deep unity and sense of holy purpose came over the group.

The staff shared about relationships, leadership opportunities, and a profound sense that God was living and working through them.

Over the course of the summer, the staff ministered to youth from local churches, students from Japan and South Korea, foster and adoptive kids, and kids who have parents in prison. Warm Beach youth campers come from very diverse backgrounds. They come for the fun and new experiences. They leave with Jesus.

With deep gratitude, we praise God for the 25 youth campers whose faith in Jesus became real for the first time this summer.

Thank you, Jesus, for the incredible group of youth camp staff.

Ed 80pxEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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Our words matter. The words we speak, tweet, message, write, and stream have an impact.

Step back and ask a simple question: “What do I want the effect of my words to be in this world?”

There is a great answer to that question: “Let our words be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

This answer greatly challenges us. We are addicted to the freedom of words. Unfortunately, there is a loss of personal responsibility. The result of reckless words can be hurt and division.

I invite you to a simple, but difficult, challenge of “letting everything we say be good and helpful”  for the purpose of bringing encouragement to this world.

At Warm Beach Camp we recognize the significance of words and attitudes that lift people up. It is my hope that refreshing and encouraging words are shared with everyone who comes to Warm Beach Camp. Words can give life and hope.

By the way, this idea is not new with me. It comes from the very best source of all, the Bible: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” - Ephesians 4:29 NLT

Ed 80pxEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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If there was a contest for the greatest act of kindness, I wonder what the entries would be. Personally, the most meaningful is intentional thoughtfulness to help carry a load in life, or simply the surprise of unexpected generosity. 

Advocacy is an act of kindness. Things like, advocating for someone who is vulnerable or misunderstood, creating opportunity for someone who needs a fresh start, or simply giving someone a chance to develop and grow. To extend kindness, a spirit of selfless and unconditional love needs to be cultivated. Kindness is done for the good it brings others. It is not an attempt to bring attention to ourselves.

The greatest act of kindness I have ever received is forgiveness that Jesus Christ brings to my life. Every piece of brokenness, deceit, manipulation, anger, (the list goes on) that has, or ever will, exist in my life is forgiven. He didn’t just carry my load, He completely took it and called it His own.  Jesus, at the direction of His Father, gave His life as forgiveness, redemption, and restoration for me and for all people.

On my best day, I only have glimpses into the magnitude of God’s kindness. Being a father and grandfather have opened my eyes to part of His unlimited kindness and grace. Being a husband has revealed the beauty of selflessness and the challenges of selfishness. Adoption has shown me the deep desires to be loved and the significant challenges of being abandoned. 

The ministry of Warm Beach Camp extends kindness by advocating and creating opportunity for people to have life changing experiences in safe and caring environment. It is a living expression of the faith we hold in Jesus Christ, for the good of others.

Thank you Jesus.

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7.

Ed 80pxEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

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Summer Camp photocredit Jamie Smith 292 350pxA summer camp week is an experience unlike any other, offering a lifetime of positive impact. Youth overnight camps at Warm Beach provide a safe and fun environment for youth to step away from everyday distractions and step into who they are in Christ.

Perhaps the most valuable and unique element of summer camp at Warm Beach is the intentionality of the program and staff. Along with fun activities and recreation, campers are placed in a community where they are loved and taken care of by trained cabin guides. The camp experiences provide opportunities for campers to grow in leadership, teamwork, responsibility, confidence, and love. Camp cultivates positive relationships, often lifelong friendships between peers and strong bonds with camp guides.

This summer, our focus is what it means to be alive in Christ and how to follow in His footsteps. There will be time for campers to enjoy the outdoors, and reflect on their purpose. It’s going to be an amazing summer!

www.WBYouthCamps.com

SaraRodriguezSara Rodriguez
Youth Program Manager

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“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” - Proverbs 29:25 NLT

When the human spirit rises and falls on the approval and opinions of others, we are in a vulnerable position. The writer of Proverbs calls it a “dangerous trap.”

People caught up in domestic violence are often trapped in a situation where they literally live in the fear of the abuser every moment of every day. It is a very dangerous situation. Sometimes individuals, in pursuit of their faith, end up following a pastor, teacher or religious leader with greater priority than knowing Jesus and following God. This too, is a risky move.

In my own life, I have learned that even with the best efforts and intentions, I will let people down. I make mistakes and need forgiveness and grace from others for those mistakes. This is true for all of us. While human relationships have the potential to be very meaningful, when we live in fear of them, we are not in a good place.

At Warm Beach Camp, we know there is a relationship that is always safe. God provides a relationship through Jesus Christ that is good. Putting our trust and faith in God does not fail. He never abuses. He forgives mistakes. Grace is extended where we fall short. Love is present. Trust and truth give us hope and faith. People are not taken advantage of. Instead, people are restored, renewed, and refreshed. God is transformational.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for being trustworthy. Thank you for pointing out that living in fear of people’s disapproval is risky and dangerous. I love you and put my trust in you today. In your name Jesus, Amen.

Ed 80pxEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

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