Monday, October 12, 2009


1 a: to apply with pressure so as to imprint
b: to produce (as a mark) by pressure
c: to mark by or as if by pressure or stamping2 a: to produce a vivid impression of
b: to affect especially forcibly or deeply: gain the admiration or interest of

(Before I get started, I just want to state, for the record, that God’s timing is His own. I have been trying to force this blog entry for days and days, and there was nothing. Obviously because God had something else on His mind.)

When I found that the next word on my list to blog about was ‘impress’ a few connotations came to mind; to be wowed by something, or even to be amazed by an action. So I thought, ‘Okay. Easy enough to be impressed by God. I can write about that.’

However, the Merriam-Webster definition threw a wrench in my thought process; specifically the first three definitions. It did not cross my mind that to be impressed is to be imprinted upon. I must say, that is a much bigger and better definition than I had been prepared to write about.

It is hard to impress a teenager; in any sense of the word. In this world of almost instant gratification and sensory overload, it is challenging, if not virtually impossible, to make a vivid impression on a teen. And to imprint a lasting mark upon the life of a teen, especially a high-risk teen, takes an enormous amount of patience and gentle pressure.

We had our Fall camp at Timber Bay this weekend for the high school kids, about 75 in all. Of the six girls I took up, I have been working with five of them for three years now. At times they have all given me moments of incredibly great joy, and incredibly great frustration.

These kids at camp do not have an easy life. Some are in foster care; some are with just one parent. Some are abused, most are poor, and all are searching for something. Some will find their something in sex, some in drugs, some in crime. For those of us that work in this environment, our hope is that they find their something in Jesus Christ.

So at our camps, we attempt to present Jesus in a straight-forward way that will impact these desensitized teens in order to break through their tough exteriors. We employ loud music, videos and fun games to keep things moving and interesting. We also employ lots of truth.

“You'll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God's master stroke, I didn't try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2.1

This weekend at camp started out the same as most other camps I have taken these kids to. We had some worship music, followed by a short chapel. The chapel was moving, I have to say. A man, acting as though he was a Roman cross builder, performed a skit about building Jesus’ cross. He spoke about how different Jesus was from the common prisoner who he normally saw crucified. As he spoke, he was actually chopping divots into the wood with a maul. As the chips of wood flew through the air, he spoke about the words and actions of Jesus. After he had placed the two beams of the cross together, he took gigantic spikes out and proceeded to hammer them into the place where Jesus’ hands and feet would have been placed. The maul and the spikes produced sparks when he pounded on them. After the chapel was over, we took our kids back to our cabins and talked about what we had just witnessed. It was a productive conversation and we ended the night on a good note.

The next day we started again. This time we watched a video by a Christian band called Casting Crowns. The song is entitled ‘Slow Fade,’ and it’s about how huge sin progresses from small indiscretions. Then, when we went back to our cabins, we all wrote down our sins on a small piece of yellow paper. The girls struggled with this, but as girls will do, as they shared their papers with each other, they came up with more ideas to write down. As they trust me, they shared their papers with me. Some of the sins were sex, abortion, swearing, cutting, trying to get pregnant, hating God (past sin not repented of), envy and drinking and smoking.

I made no judgments. There is nothing I can accomplish from condemnation except alienation. They know what I have done in my past and my remorse over it. They also know where I stand on all those issues now and what I want for their lives. Great results come from a lot of time, patience and Christ.

Later that night we had another chapel. We sang some songs and then watched a video with just a short portion of The Passion of the Christ. The portion was of Mary Magdalene being forgiven by Jesus, and then Jesus being hammered to the cross and being tossed about on it, with Mary watching in horror. Then, the kids were invited to bring their little yellow paper of sins and nail them to the cross that had been made the night before.

There were a lot of tears from my girls. They have never seen the movie, and so it caught their attention, seeing Jesus all bloody and bruised; hanging there. Walking up to the cross and pounding a nail into it had a great impact. I hung back, watching them. When they returned, they asked me if I was going to go up and nail my sins to the cross. I told them that no other adult leader had gone up so I did not think I was going to. They were not having any of that excuse. I am their leader and as they say, their mom, and they were going to walk me up there to nail my sins into the cross. I had tears in my eyes from their love for me and how gracious God has been to me. Incidentally, after I walked up there, ten other leaders followed my lead.

After everyone had nailed their sins, the leader took them all down and placed them into a container, where he poured symbolic blood over them all. We went back to the cabins in silence, a deep awe and reverence covering the kids.

We talked about the truth that our sins were truly washed away by those sins. Some of the girls were unconvinced that their sins were actually gone until I showed them the scripture verses about re-crucifying Christ by not accepting His forgiveness. Then, one of the girls asked me if I could go with her back to the lodge so she could give her life to Christ under the cross. She cried, I cried. I prayed, she prayed. The angels rejoiced and everyone at the camp rejoiced.

That was my weekend. All of my girls were impressed by Christ. Impressed with His death, impressed with His life. They impressed their sins on His cross and He impressed their hearts with His forgiveness. On at least one heart, He impressed His own image. On other hearts, He refreshed His image with a new imprint. He impressed me with how much He actually loves us, as He continually does.

He impressed upon me the fact that His message is eternally simple, yet eternally consequential.

“I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God's Spirit and God's power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God's power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.” – 1 Corinthians 2.3


jen said...

Praising God along with you for his faithfulness & grace and thanking you for your obedience, patience & endurance as you minister to these young girls! woo hoo! You rock my world & the way God uses your words & heart "impress" me always!

Porno Lily said...

Is good of you to teach children about word of G-D! Thank you!