Category Archives: Devotions

A place for you

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am, there you may be also.
-John 14

What would you say? Honestly- what would you say to your closest friends the very night you would be betrayed, denied, and forsaken by all of them? What would you say on your very last night here on earth? I don’t know about you – but when we understand the context of when Jesus said these words from John 14, it is amazing to hear his perspective. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’, came from a man who later that evening would be grieved unto death in the Garden of Gethsemane. How troubled was his heart? In the moment of when we would want Jesus to be afraid and confide in his friends, (which most of us would want to do), he begins to talk about preparing a place for them. Jesus is almost calm about the upcoming crucifixion.

But I do not believe that His calm has anything to do with his psychological or emotional state. I believe that this was a time when Jesus knew He was fulfilling His purpose. In as much as He tried to explain it to the disciples throughout His ministry, Jesus took one more opportunity to explain to them about who He is, what he came to do, and what he is going to do. He revealed his purpose to them. Later in John’s account, he shows us how Jesus even prayed for the disciples and us too! It’s true. Jesus prayed for you and me when he prayed for the ones who would believe because of the witness of the disciples. That is you and me. John’s Gospel takes 5 out of 21 chapters to detail Jesus’ last words to his disciples. It must be important. If you had just one last statement to make, what would you say?

Michael Smith is a camp alum who has worked on staff and served on the board at camp. He is the pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Erma. Image credit: Kristin Nelson, via CreationSwap

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The Gift of Forgiveness

If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven- if there was anything to forgive- I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
-2 Corinthians 2:10-11

As a Pastor, working in the church is difficult and sometimes ugly (can I get an Amen?). As church leaders, we get to experience some ugly situations that come about because of our brokenness and sin. While we like to think we have it all together in the church (with our plastic smiles as we shake hands before worship), I realize that each of our communities is a potential powder keg ready to explode if our brokenness goes unchecked. It is the same outside of the walls of the church where our relationships at home, at work, and in our schools feel the effect of sin everyday.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians, is writing to the church at Corinth who has had to use church discipline on an individual(s). We’re not told what they did or why they did it. But what is clear is that person(s) has repented of whatever it is that caused grief within the community. Paul encourages the church to forgive and comfort those who repent- and to reaffirm their love for him (v.8). As the church forgives, Paul as their spiritual father, also forgives and extends the repentant grace and mercy.

Forgiveness is a choice that each of us has the ability to make when someone wrongs us. There are instances where we are able to forgive quickly, wanting to mend relationships that are meaningful to us. There are other times when a person hurts us so badly, that it is only by the grace of God that we are able to forgive. Forgiveness is a powerful tool that we possess as Christians. It is not a weak “It’s cool, everything is ok.” Forgiveness calls us, and the wrongdoer, to name the sin/wrong done to us. It acknowledges that a relationship has been broken, that someone has been hurt, and that repentance is required. Forgiveness also gives us the opportunity to extend mercy and grace to someone who may not believe they worthy of it. The truth is, none of us are worthy of grace and mercy- but through Jesus.

This week is Holy Week- as we journey from the cheers of Palm Sunday, to the Cross of Good Friday, and finish with the celebration of Resurrection. Many of our churches will remember Jesus’ last night with his disciples tonight. I’m always struck by the grace and mercy that Jesus extends Judas in John 13. In John’s account he tells us that Jesus was aware of what Judas had done and still washed his feet. In Mark’s account of the last supper with his disciples, it is Judas who sits next to Jesus in the place of honor. Mercy and grace to the very person who was in process of betraying Jesus.

As we draw closer to the cross, where Jesus was broken and poured out for us- God’s love, mercy, and grace for us- sinners; who do we need to forgive? Who do we need to ask forgiveness of? Let us not give Satan a foothold because of our anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness- instead let us use the gift of forgiveness as a vehicle to reveal the love, grace, and mercy that God has for us and for the world. Amen.

Steve LaMotte (@steve_lamotte) is Pastor of Hope United Methodist Church in Dover, Delaware. He has been a speaker, teacher, worship leader, and dean at Delanco Camp. For Lent, he has chosen to abstain from watching The Bachelor and The Jersey Shore. Image credit: Matt Gruber, via CreationSwap.

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Getting Through the Bones

I love bedtime! Watching my boys splash around in the tub, dressing them in clean, PJs while inhaling the sweet smell of clean hair (which doesn’t happen to often with two little boys!), reading story books and a Bible story, then tucking them into comfy sheets and favorite blankies, and settling down for prayers…The process just makes my heart swell, so thankful that I have the opportunity to be a mom to these two little miracles that are my sons.

One night last year, after finishing our bedtime routine, my then four-year-old, Jesse, and I were talking about Jesus. We talked about how Jesus was God’s son, how He loved and healed people, and how he died on the cross and for all of the wrong things every person would ever do, and rose from the dead so that someday, if we ask Jesus into our hearts, we could live with Him in Heaven. Jesse sat quietly for a moment, then, prodding his chest, stated, “I tried to ask Jesus into my heart, but he can’t get through the bones.”

Do you ever feel like that? Even as a Christian, I feel like Jesus has a hard time getting through to my heart sometimes. I want Jesus to get to those soft, squishy parts that hurt or need healing, or to burrow into the core of what’s really important, and unfold His perfect plan. But, more often than I care to admit it, my plans, weakness, worries, and downright stubbornness get in the way.

Since God has been whispering His desire for me to open my heart more to Him, it does not surprise me then that today’s reading included Psalm 6. Verses 1-3 read, “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?”

I pray in this Lenten season, that God will do a restorative work on your heart, too! Even in the midst of being busy, and whatever obstacles we may try to construct, that you would allow Jesus to get through your bones, into the heart of what He desires for and from you.

Amy (Giberson) Plew has been involved with Delanco Camp as a scamper, camper, counselor, worship leader, and dean of women. She currently lives in Bluffton, S.C., with her husband Jared and sons Jesse (5) and Micah (1). Image credit: via Wikimedia

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More than chocolate

Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

-Psalm 51 NLT

We have been on this journey of Lent. Some of us have given up things, food, or habits. Some of us may have slipped up and eaten that chocolate, drank that caffeinated beverage, checked on to Facebook even though we may have given all of these up for Lent. It’s hard to give up things that are so routine and habitual in our daily lives. Sacrifice and surrender are not a daily choice for us as Americans. We are the microwave culture. If we want it, by golly we can get it.

Lent is a time that flies in the face of our culture and ideals, but it is just the beginning of the journey. It can be hard to say no and have self-control in the small things like chocolate and caffeine, but what about the big stuff in life? The chocolate and caffeine are trivial when it comes to living a life a worship, a life surrendered to Jesus.

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Are you offering Jesus sacrifices of “chocolate” and “caffeine”, or are you surrendered and offering everything you are to Jesus today? Are you living a life or worship, or are there just certain moments or days you throw up a “sacrifice”? This Lent journey is coming to an end. We are rounding the final turn, and there is something glorious, redemptive, amazing, and life altering. Jesus, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, has given everything he has for you with freedom on the cross and hope in the resurrection. Let us experience true freedom by living a life of worship and surrender.

James Ballard has served as speaker at camp before and lives in Kentucky. Image credit: Elideth Ceniceros, via CreationSwap.

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4: 6 & 7

When I was little, our kitchen and several others I visited used to have the Serenity Prayer hanging on the wall. You remember this prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

Throughout my life, I have been faced with many challenges, including our house burning to the ground and losing every material possession in 2010. Right after this event, many people asked me, “How can you be so calm when you are dealing with this?” I would tell them that I remember the Serenity Prayer’s statement about “accepting the things I cannot change” and I get the peace that God gives me from realizing that I had no control over what happened and that I can trust God to hold me in his hand and take care of my future and provide for us.

It wasn’t always easy, and it was a long process (some of which we are still doing) filing insurance paperwork, designing a new house, moving into several temporary places, and then finally moving into the new house. However, I realized that God was with us the whole time and giving us the serenity to accept what had happened and the courage to make decisions about the road ahead.

I pray that all of us will remember that many things happen in our lives that we have no control over and that we need to just accept them, and trust what happens, and that God has our future all figured out. I pray for patience for His leading and courage to do the things necessary to bring His plans to fruition. Amen.

Sue Kralle is the mother of two former Delanco Camp campers and is an active member of Chews United Methodist Church. Image credit: Gail Wall, via CreationSwap

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We are Not Destroyed

We all love David. Good and perfect king David. He obeyed God fully, and never committed a sin, right? Is that not why we call him a “man after God’s own heart”? No! This man that was “a man after God’s own heart” was an adulterer, and a murderer. He was a mess. We are all a mess. We need to understand this. The problem is that we let the mess tell us that we are totally hopeless. The Bible says something different in 2 Corinthians 4. Verse 8 says “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

I see after reading the story of David that he did a good job with dealing with the mess. In Psalm 143 David seems to understand that no matter what he does, it is not too bad for God to fix. Even after he committed adultery and murder he realized that. We need to strive to be like that. We need to first understand that we are a mess, and second understand that we may be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, but we are not destroyed. When we realize how much of a mess we are in, that is the start of allowing God to work, but the other problem is that we always let our guilt shame us. We need to let Christ forgive us and work in us.

I have a tangible story that might help you, and I grasp this point a little easier. I have a friend from Lancaster Bible College who has an eating disorder. This past year she was struggling so badly to the point she didn’t realize how much she was struggling. It got so bad during the semester that friends were watching her food intake and how much she went to the gym. She was encouraged to go home and get some help. She went home, and things got worse for a while. One night she was so tired of struggling and being so sick and she was at the end of herself. She recognized that she was struggling and needed God’s help. She cried out to him, and she was determined to go to a place that would help her. That is so important in our faith. Realizing we have struggles is an essential part of Christianity. We need to realize this because then grace can set us free. If we deny that we struggle we don’t see the need for a savior.

So my friend got help for a while. She battled and still battles thoughts every day. So you ask “did the help really work since she is still battling?” Heck yes, along with being able to see all the things she is struggling with, she understands that she is not destroyed or destined for nothing. This struggle does not put her out of the grace of God and she knows that. She is an example of a person who can recognize a struggle and its ramifications, yet does not view it as something that has destroyed her. That is why I love the story of David. He was not perfect. When he committed adultery and murder he admitted it. Psalm 51 is his honest confession of it. He also understood that the sin did not destroy him. God is way more powerful than allowing some sin to destroy his creation that was made for him.

In summary, remember we are all sinners. Sin is evil, and we need to understand the ramifications of it. On the other hand we need to understand that realizing we sin should not make us feel destroyed and without hope. This is what makes people men and women after God’s own heart. Those people let God work in their lives and eliminate the sin from their lives. They don’t have to live thinking that they are destroyed, because like David, and my friend, God has made them new. His grace is always enough.

Em Taylor is a student at Lancaster Bible College and has worked on summer staff at Delanco Camp. Image credit: Matt Gruber, via CreationSwap.

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Lift Up Your Eyes

Living in Arizona, we are blessed with a law that doesn’t allow for neighborhoods to have street lights. There are merely lights on each house to see where they are. This was a stark difference for me having grown up in New Jersey where street lights were what told you when it was time to go inside in the summer time. The advantage of not having street lights is the AMAZING star show we enjoy every night. In our neighborhood (which is further from town), when it is a full moon, we can sit in our backyard with no lights on and see clearly as coyote and other desert animals begin their evening routine.

This is a beautiful picture of how God guides us. When we are in a dark time and don’t know the direction, we simply have to lift our eyes to Him, and He delights in guiding us! In the Psalm readings for today, there are several references to lifting our eyes for help. Psalm 121:1 says “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?”

Psalm 123:1 also says, “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.” As I gave into the desert night sky, as I often do here, I am constantly amazed that the God who created all those stars, knows every hair on my head (Matthew 10:30). It reminds me that if He was able to create and name every one of those stars and galaxies and cause them to orbit one another with exact precision as to not destroy each other or us, then He certainly can handle my situation. And, He certainly can handle yours!

Matthew 5:3 says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” The reference here to being poor in spirit is compared to a beggar hunched down, looking up, asking for money or help. I have been blessed to never have to beg like this but the illustration is one of great humility. It is a last resort of many to become beggars and have to hunch down looking up to others for help. When I was in my early 20s, I went through a physical challenge in my life where I had difficulty walking and doing physical tasks. I had to constantly ask others for help. As a person with an independent personality, this was really hard and humbling for me. So often, we are like that with God. We are at our lowest point and being broken and all we have left is to lift our eyes and ask for His help.

Our Father, is such a loving Daddy (Abba) that He takes delight in us asking for help. He greatly enjoys His children looking to Him as their deliverer. I have three kids and two of them are only 2 1/2 years old. Their communication is just developing. I know when they want drinks or food but I DELIGHT when they come and ask me. My son, the youngest, will come close and illustrate that he needs help with his shoes. To me, it is so simple but to him, it requires total dependence on me, his mother. The same is true of our Heavenly Father. He so desires an intimate relationship with us that he takes joy in helping us through those dark times. He didn’t have to make the moon reflect the sun yet He chose to. I often think to remind us that He is our light no matter what the circumstance we go through.

Psalm 124:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The one who made both the Heaven and the Earth is our help. It is so encouraging to me to know that when I feel there is no way out or I am totally overwhelmed, I can lift my eyes to the maker of heaven and earth and suddenly, I am redirected to WHO is my help. I don’t have to do it alone. In the darkness, there is a light guiding me through.

Today, my prayer for you is that you too know where your help comes from. That you are able to muster the strength to lift your eyes to the maker of heaven and earth. I also pray that your relationship with Him is one of such close intimacy that you can lift not only your eyes, but your hands to Him crying “Daddy, Daddy (Abba, Abba)” so that HE may lift you up. Your hope truly is in the Lord!

Psalm 125:1 “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mt.Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

Lord, I lift my eyes to you today. Be my rescue, my strength. I ask that you make me unshakable like Mt. Zion. I surrender my will and my way to yours. Help me. Walk as my light through this dark time and graciously allow others to see that light as well.

Tricia Short, an original Jersey Girl, and her husband, Paul, live in Vail, Arizona where they are both pastors at a Vineyard church and oversee Unseen Ministries – A touring youth and young adult conference ( attended Delanco Camp as a teenager where the many encounters with the Lord there helped shaped the love relationship she has with the Him today. Image credit: By Andy from Pittsburgh, via Wikimedia Commons

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