Hello, Mercy

I am so thankful for an outstanding retreat at Camp Tahkodah  in Floral, Arkansas. The theme of the weekend was “Hello, Mercy,” and each devotional given by our counselors, and my messages, were all about God’s mercy. God refuses to let us fail, even when we deserve to. He is merciful. His name is merciful. And we praised Him for that this weekend.

This retreat is not mine, though. So many adults and college students come to bless the lives of students. So many adults come to cook and serve. I just have the unique honor of putting all of these puzzle pieces together. I want to mention their names for you here:

Our kitchen staff: Rick and Kim Shirley, David and Lisa Taylor, Jeri Brewer, Lannie Lancaster, George and Traci Felts, Andrew James, David and Winkie Horton, Nathan Klym, Susan and Al Creekmore, Lynette Bankston, and Eddie and Becky Ham. These people worked harder than anyone else at camp, and fed us a menu filled with biscuits, chocolate gravy, cupcakes, barbecue, a Mexican fiesta, chicken strips, and bread pudding! You will not ever find a camp — ever — that feeds its campers as well as our kitchen staff does every year!

Our counselors: Aaron Crouch, Brian Dail, Jeff Tacker, Bill Williams, Ricky Bankston, Trent Nanney, Jason Bratton, Matt Horton, David Arnold, John Warmath, Tucker Bankston, Gregory Downing, Joe Bankston, Joshua Wheeler, Ryan Bates, Curtis Conn, Aaron Flake, Jonathan Nichols, Josh Shepherd, Ashley Barnes, Rebecca McCorkle, Jennifer Ford, Jessica Conn, Emily Shepherd, Shathar Bates, Lauren Nichols, Liz Flake, Ashley Arnold, Vivian Ashley, Jennifer Klym, Molly Bankston, Autumn Bankston, Sheri Tacker, Rachel James, Katie Caldwell and Lydia Archibald. These amazing people paid money to join us at Tahkodah for the weekend, and spent the entire 36 hours with a cabin full of students, teaching them, mentoring them, and making great memories.

Our games director: Josh Shepherd, who was helped by Ethan Horton. Josh did a great job compiling great, crazy, competitive games for our weekend!

Our drivers: Terry Mann, Curtis Conn, Lyndal Dale, and David Arnold. These guys are amazing! And thanks to Don Hilburn and Jack Raines for picking up our rental vans!

Our talent show director: Angela Seale. Angela compiled all the zany props for the best talent show we’ve ever had!

Our logo designer: Paul Ford. Paul is so gifted, and he captured everything I needed for our logo this year!

And a thank you to my wife, Eran, for her incredible patience with me during the two weeks prior to our retreat!

And thank you, church, for all of the desserts and chocolate bars you provided for our retreat! And, obviously, for covering our retreat in prayer.

I had the honor of writing all of the cabin devotionals taught by our counselors, as well as delivering a couple of messages on mercy. Those two messages challenged me greatly in the weeks leading up to Tahkodah, and are still challenging me. Speaking from Daniel 2 and Ezekiel 20, I spoke on mercy, and how God rewards our pleadings for mercy, and how His Name stands between us and everything we deserve. Those passages are so powerful, and have just stirred my soul since.

Two students gave their lives to Jesus this weekend. Nathaniel Ham and Brooke Mitchell both were baptized in the name of Jesus! It is such an honor to see students make such profound decisions of faith.

The date for next year’s retreat at Camp Tahkodah will be October 20, 21, 2012! Get ready!


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