Basketball camp: day 4 & 5
I am finally getting to writing a post for the final two days of our basketball camp. And what a great two days. As I did last post I am going to post a separate post within this post for each day. Enjoy.
Day 4. Was another great day of working on the campers’ skills in dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding and defending. But as always we also had a chance to teach the kids about Jesus. Today’s lesson was all about the “biggest and best decision the kids will ever make!” I took a break from lessons about respect and focused on the Gospel. Many of you know I am a pastor and this is something I believe is not only a command from God but important that everyone hear if God’s gives me the opportunity to share. So I did.
I try to make my lesson memorable so when I teach I use a lot of word pictures or object lessons. Today was no different. The kids are each given stickers in the shape of stars each day that represent how much they have accomplished so I chose to use the stars to illustrate each area of the Gospel message. See below:
Blue Star represented effort. With all your effort, no matter how hard you try, you are going to say and do the wrong things. The Bible calls this SIN! I want you to use your imagination with me. Can you do that? We are going to imagine that each of us get a chance to shoot a basket. The basket represents “God’s perfection & holiness” and each of you are going to try to get a basket to get God’s glory. Unfortunately everyone misses! Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No matter how hard you try & how close you get you are going to miss the mark. Because we have sin that stops us from getting there.
Gold Star represents sportsmanship. God wants all of us on his team but because of sin, we are separated from him–he hates sin! But God gave us a way to be on his team: his Son, Jesus, died on the cross and paid the price for our sin. Jesus took our place on the cross so we could be on God’s team. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ”The World” is everyone=you, me, your friends, parents, even your enemies. So God gave this amazing gift of eternal life to all of us! God gave us: perfect Jesus!
I brought one of the campers up and presented him with a toonie (for my non-Canadian readers this is our $2 coin) I asked, If I gave you this toonie, how does it become yours? His response was that he had to take it from me .The same is true of this gift God gave to all of us. All you have to do is “believe” or receive his Son you get “eternal life.” Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gray Star represents offence. When Jesus died on the cross he gave up his life. And to be on God’s team is simple. All we have to do is ask God to forgive your sins and believe Jesus will forgive them. The most important part of what Jesus did for us was that he rose from the grave. If he had stayed dead He would not be a savior anymore. But he did rise from the grave and is alive! Romans 10:9-10: If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Red Star represents defence. : I spoke but what it means to repent. I used the term 180. Then I showed the campers how to do a 180. Go in one direction and literally turn 180 degrees so I am going in the opposite direction. Because Jesus not only died but rose again for us, we need to repent from our sins. Do a 180 and run from sin to God! Acts 3:19: Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Green Star represents the cross or making a decision. I challenged the campers to make a decision today to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour for the first time. If they were ready they can ask him right now.
I told them of when I chose to accept Christ. When I was a little boy, a bit younger than most of you I made this decision, and it was very simple, I just asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life and turn from the wrong things I have been doing and saying. And now I am on his team and in his family!!!
Then I asked: “Have you made the decision to accept Jesus into your life? If not, you can make that decision today. NO…it’s as simple as praying a prayer. You can repeat it after me:
Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and need a Saviour. I believe you took my place and died on the Cross for my sins. I ask you to forgive my sins. Come into my life and help me to start living for you today. Amen.”
After I prayed the prayer, I had those who made the decision and prayed the prayer with me to stand up–everyone else’s eyes where closed so no one could see what was happening. To my overwhelmed surprise and excitement 14 campers stood up. I had each of them leave the room with their coaches to talk about their decision and make sure they really made the decision and they did. All 14 campers! Praise God!!!
Before they left I got all the others who were still seated to stand and cheer for those who just accepted Christ. I shared with them what it says in the Bible when just one person comes to Christ, there is a party going on in heaven! So we stood and screamed, yelled and cheered to welcome them into the family of God. The actually verse says: I tell you, it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Luke 15:7
While those who had left the room were out talking I ended my talk with the final star, the white star which represents christlikeness. If have already accepted Jesus into your life, you should change the way you live for now on. Start reading your Bible, praying and find a church and youth group to attend. I shared other things so that those who were left behind had something to think about and didn’t leave and start making noise in the gym. I didn’t want the people talking to coaches about the most important decision they will ever make to be distracted or think they were missing out on anything.
It was an amazing day and after talking to each of the coaches I could see everyone of them including our director, Donnette were so excited about what God had done that day. Oh I almost forgot for our coaches talk that morning we chose to pray for each camper by name and we had a little prayer meeting in the coaches room. That was very powerful to hear so many fervent prayers for the unsaved campers!
Day 5. Because it was our final day we packed in a lot into this day, but I am only going to share the highlights. Because we had the parents coming around 10am we had lots to do before they arrived. So we got through the warm-ups, skills training and a few breaks then the parents arrived. We did a coaches game where my team got creamed. haha. Good thing I am not as competitive as I used to be. haha.
Then we moved into the Game Plan speaker time, my time to share for the last time. I chose to do a little review because I wanted the parents to hear all that we had learned. The campers were totally engaged and shared everything they learned each day. Then I shared very briefly my final talk on trust. I used my life verses: Prov 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I used one of the campers and 2 coaches to explain trust. I had the camper fall backwards into the coaches arms. I had to do it first to get the camper to completely trust the coaches would catch him. They did.
Trust is simply believing in someone or something will do what they say they will do. ex. in order for the camper to really trust his coaches, he has to fall backwards without worry they will catch him.
Trust in God is the same. Trust in God is believing he has our best interest in mind. He loves us and wants what is best for us. This verse say “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” What that means is to trust him with everything in you. No doubt or worry at all…whether or not he can be trusted, but trust him with your whole life. This time I asked the camper to close his eyes when he falls back. Then I asked if it was harder, to which he responded “YES!!!”
”Do not depend on your own understanding” is we can’t rely on our own abilities or understanding of a situation, we have to rely fully on God. Trust only him, not what I know of the situation. If the camper wanted to rely on his own understanding, he would want to make sure the 2 coaches were in the right place, he would want to make sure there was something to catch him if they missed (like a mattress). He might even attach a pillow to his head to make sure if the coaches missed he was going to be safe. But that isn’t trust is it … what is trust…believing! Then I shared that trust was best illustrated yesterday when many of you made a decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Once we have accepted Jesus as our best friend, we are in the family of God, we need to trust him to take care of us for the rest of our lives. v.6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” is a continuation of v.5 that simply says if we put all our trust in Jesus he will take care of us–maybe not always the way we think, but he will take care of us. Say:
Then I shared why these verses became my life verses: I was 17. I was getting ready to graduate from high school and go to college. I had been accepted to a school in NB and I couldn’t wait. But then something happened, after a number of concerned people noticing a lump on my neck I finally went and got it checked out. No one knew what it was until finally a doctor did a biopsy on me (cut a piece of the lump to check to see what it is) and to my shock I had cancer! Instead of going to college that Fall I stayed home and did a year of chemo. That is where they pump chemicals into your body to fight off the cancer. I was very sick that year, many times I was in the hospital for months at a time. And because the chemo affected my blood I had a number of blood transfusions. It was painful and hard.
I tell you that story because even in such a difficult situation I had to trust that God had my best interest in mind. I needed to trust God knew everything before it happened. I needed to trust him to take care of me. Because I trusted him he did because I am standing before you having been in remission for over 27 years. God took care of me.
The day was fantastic, I had so many parents come up to me to thank me for my talk, and the week and for all we did for their kids. I was encouraged especially by the mom of two of the campers the came to Christ who was Hindu. She thanked me for all the work we put into the week and told me how much her kids enjoyed the week and she is looking forward to our soccer camp in the summer. Please continue to pray for these two kids (and the other 12) that they will find a good church, if not ours to be discipled and cared for. I know the 2 Hindu kids are going to face great opposition from those who spiritually lead them, especially their father. Pray!
We finished off the day with a BBQ that Director Donnette put on for all the volunteers (teens and adults). Such a great week and looking forward to the next one. So thankful I was able to be part of it.