Jesus is Better

This is so cliché, but I cannot believe camp is already over and we are home. What a week!! Let me catch you up on the last day of camp and our day of travel. Thursday was our last full day of camp. It was a gorgeous day and no raindrops assaulted us so I’d call that a huge success in and of itself. Students began their last full day of camp studying Matthew 13:44-45. These two verses are parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. In both, a man finds something of great worth and immediately sells all that he has in order to attain it. Students were given space to reflect on the Truth in these verses, search their hearts, and pray that Jesus would enable them to live as people who know the value and joy of the Kingdom of God is greater than the kingdom they’ve built for themselves.

Our last morning show was a blast. It started with a pre-show dance party. Students reported funny stories about each other and their cabins throughout the week to contribute to the news portion of morning show. Thursday’s included Rachel Varnell singing Jesus Love Me in Spanish. There was also a Food Fight at morning show. Don’t worry; it was planned. In this engaging activity there were two teams of two students. One student donned blacked-out goggles and a shower cap and the other got his/her throwing arm ready to throw. What were they throwing? If you guessed food at their teammate’s face, you were right on the money. Not just any ordinary food, but random condiments like bean dip and spaghettios. Once the food hit their face, they had to taste it and guess what it was. Sam Howard had the keener tastebuds in this game, making Matt Lawson and himself victorious. This was by far the grossest and most entertaining activity of the week.

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Recreation looked a little different today. We like to give all of our students a space to utilize their gifting and talents here at the Height’s. We know that not everyone excels at sports and athleticism, so our last day of recreation was a Sand Design competition. This gives students a chance to flex their creative muscles, come up with a vision for their design, and work together to make that vision into a reality. Designs are judged on overall creativity, artistry, and presentation. It was neat to watch teams in their element and see how most of them creatively interweaved the Kingdom theme into their design. The winners of the Sand Design competition were Red Team (high school) and Pink Team (junior high). Once designs had been scored, points from all week were added up and the Rec Champs of 2014 were announced. The winners were…drumroll, please…the Pink Team for high school and the Maroon Team for junior high. Congratulations!!

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The last small group Bible study was on the coming completion of the Kingdom and Revelation 21. Time was spent dwelling on the fact that Jesus is going to return one day soon and how that increases the urgency of the Gospel for those of us that know Him. We heard great feedback from all of the small group Bible studies and we know that the Word of the Lord never returns void.

The free time option of the day was a sand volleyball tournament where 12 teams went head-to-head to see who would claim the title as champions. Team Rec ‘Em bumped, set and spiked their way to victory. Other cheered on volleyball games, swam, frolicked on the beach, and enjoyed our last day on the white sandy beaches of Florida.

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After free time, we all wore our matching camp t-shirts and went to the beach after dinner to take a big group photo. Once we got our group photo, we gathered for one last night of worship at camp.

Our last night of worship was beautiful. We pondered and treasured all that Jesus had done so far through this week. We begged for Him to keep moving and pushing us into Him. We praise Him with all of our being. We studied Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23. Neil challenged us to think about what kind of soil our hearts boast, what keeps us from prioritizing Jesus, how to be a deep person, if fruit is being born through our lives, and much more. It has been an extreme blessing and challenge to have Neil speaking Truth into us this week. He has a gifting from God to present the Gospel in a real, fresh, convicting, and revitalizing way. Tonight was no exception. We were given space to process what Jesus was saying and ended our time together magnifying the name of Jesus by singing “How Marvelous, How Wonderful” and “Jesus is Better.” Worship was unhindered, full of genuine desperation for and adoration to Jesus. I will forever treasure the moment where we all were singing with arms raised, surrendering to Jesus, and begging Him to make our hearts believe that He is better than everything else.

Small groups met after worship for one last time and, man, was the Spirit moving. It is so neat to see the community that has come from this week and to think about what God is going to do through it in the months to come. While small groups were meeting and everyone was packing, the staff and support staff loaded out and packed up everything from the worship room. We all went to bed with full hearts, praising Jesus for how greatly He’s moved and made Himself known this week.

We loaded buses at 6:15 am Friday morning and headed home. The bus ride home was smooth and uneventful, praise the Lord! It was fun to watch relationships continue to be built and see how community has grown in just the past five days. We arrived in Richardson at around 11:15 pm and were extremely glad to be off of the charter bus (and away from 42 girls singing High School Musical 3 J).

Here I am, well-rested for the first time in two weeks, missing this week already and I just can’t get over Jesus. We all knew this week was going to be special and beautiful. We all knew that the many hours of preparing were going to pay off. We all prayed Jesus would do huge things. And He did. He did abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined. Praise His precious and holy name for that!!!! #thsmcamp14 will forever be remembered as a wonderful week where we all saw and tasted the Kingdom of God for what it really is. And our prayer is that everything will change because of it. The fun really begins now. Now we get to walk in and live out the beauty of the Kingdom. We get to keep seeking and choosing Jesus as better than everything else. Our prayer for you as parents is that you will have great conversations with your student about what God spoke and did in them this week. And that this will just be the beginning for your family to choose to live as people who are dwelling in the Kingdom of God and lovingly showing others the freeing life that Jesus has for them in the Kingdom.

Thank you for your support and prayers throughout this week for your students and beach camp as a whole. We are so incredibly pumped up and excited to keep walking alongside you and your student as we all walk with and follow Jesus.

Fat Daddy Party

Wednesday was wonderful. Our schedule was the same as the first day, meaning we kicked the day off with breakfast. Then students dove into the Word, studying two parables in Luke 15 about about being lost and found. They were given space to quietly reflect and pray through what that means in their life and relationship with God. Then we began morning show. The engaging activity yesterday was called FaceBreaker. In this activity, two students were throwing mini soccer balls at embarrassing photos of Cory and Bo. They were assigned to team Bo or team Cory. The goal was for them to be the first one to break through all the photos of their opponent. Entertainment factor was high as we watched them break through hilarious old photos of Bo and Cory. Kate Dickson was victorious.

In the midst of morning show, the beautiful sunny morning took a quick turn to an intense downpour of rain. It was still coming down consistently when morning show ended so we let junior high go to their small groups, but held the high schoolers inside the worship room to let it die down. This turned into an impromptu dance party where we got to see some awesome dance moves. After checking the radar consistently, we decided the show must go on so we all headed out into wet weather and trekked down to the beach. We all laughed and screamed and embraced the rain. What a memory! The rain let up quickly after we started rec and it turned into a gorgeous day. Junior high had a sunshiny afternoon of rec games. New games were played at rec yesterday, including four way tug-a-war. It’s like tug-a-war with a twist: you’re being pulled in all directions. This was a staff favorite to watch!

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In small groups, students discussed what it takes and looks like to live as citizens of the Kingdom. They camped out in John 3, seeing how there are two types of people in the world—those who are citizens of the Kingdom and follow Jesus and those who are in opposition of the Kingdom and follow the world. They were challenged to prayerfully investigate their hearts and lives to see which category they fall into and what that means for them. The Spirit was definitely stirring in this Gospel-drenched study.

It is a Heights Students tradition to take the freshly graduated seniors on a senior outing during one day of camp. That happened yesterday afternoon! The senior small groups loaded up a bus and headed to go on a dolphin and snorkel tour. They spent over two hours exploring shipwrecks, reefs and much more. They found sand dollars, held a starfish and pet a puffer fish. It was a great time celebrating our seniors and their leadership in our ministry.

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Free time was jam-packed yesterday with all kinds of fun and games. Literally. There was a belly-flop contest where 11 contestants flung their bodies onto the pool surface, hoping to make the most impressive noise and splash. Matthew Britten was the victor! There was also a showdown on the basketball court between THSM Hoops and THSM Staff. THSM Hoops originated at camp last year. It is a group of 8th grade guys coached by Will Snyder. Yesterday morning they challenged all campers to try and beat them on the court. So the men of THSM Staff took them up on their challenge. It was a close game, but the Staff came out on top in the end. While these two showdowns were happening, others cheered them on, hung out on the beach, swam, and much more.

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THSM Hoops

Worship last night was indescribable. The only word that sums it up is Jesus. The Spirit led Neil to, instead of giving a talk, open up the night as a time of response. The Spirit moved powerfully—bringing students from death to life, bringing confession and repentance from sin, bringing grievance of sin and rebellion, bringing dissatisfaction from anything else but Jesus—and it was breathtaking and overwhelming and incredible. Psalm 51 perfectly paints the picture of what Jesus is stirring in our hearts here, especially last night. Verse 12 in particular shows a glimpse at the beauty of what’s happening here—“Restore to me the joy of my salvation.”

We know there is a fat daddy party happening in Heaven right now because of the sinners that are being transformed into saints here in this place. And every single ounce of glory goes to Jesus Christ alone.

The Lord hears and is honoring your prayers. Join us in praying big things like we have nothing to lose today. Why? Because we don’t; we already have Jesus and nothing can come against us. So let’s pray unashamedly for more and more of Him today, to invade hearts here in Panama City and hearts there in Dallas, Texas and heart everywhere around the world. Let’s pray for His perspective rather than our own, His love rather than our own, and His Spirit rather than our own. You are loved, we are loved, all are loved. Let’s live as His Beloved today!

Can’t Rain on Our Parade

Camp is rockin’ and rollin’. And we are having a blast!!!! Yesterday was full and fun. We started off the day at 7:30 am and then students had a devotional time studying through the Lord’s Prayer and the Kingdom in Matthew 6. Our first Morning Show followed personal quiet time. Morning show is how we kick off each full day of camp. We have an engaging activity, news segment, Awkward Situation videos, worship, teaching, and so much more! It is a high-energy way to kick off each day, yesterday being no exception.

Once Morning Show ended, high schoolers headed down to the beach, joined their color rec team at the flag, and played seven different rec games. There was great variety in the games—water games, athletic games, team games, etc—to keep students and leaders on their toes. My personal favorite to watch was Drench n’ Drain. In this game, teams fling themselves into the ocean to soak themselves, run back to shore, and squeeze out their hair and clothing into a bucket. The first team to fill up their bucket wins. It was quite entertaining to watch them fly into the ocean and fight the waves back to shore. And their creativity in how to get water back to the bucket was impressive! Points were kept and will be added up on the last day of recreation to crown the official Rec Champs of 2014.

Here are some photos from high school recreation-

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While high schoolers were participating in recreation, junior high small groups were meeting and working through 1 John 3 and the opposition to God that sin brings. We are hearing so many cool stories of how God is working through the teaching of His Word and changing hearts. Praise His name for that!!!

Here are some photos from junior high recreation-

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Lunch was eaten around noon and then high school and middle school swapped. Junior High recreated it up while high schoolers dug into the Word. It was an overcast day, with intermittent showers. One of those showers came towards the end of recreation for junior high so we had to cut the games a little bit short. We still had a fantastically fun time! We got all of the rec equipment and students off the beach just in time. Then the sky burst open and it stormed for about an hour. Everyone hung out in their rooms until the thunder, lightning and rain slowed down. Then free time commenced. The main free time option (FTO) of the day was Spikeball. The winners were Peyton Bradley and Reece Hansen. Free time was full of swimming, playing, frolicking, hanging, and enjoying building community.

We all got cleaned up and headed to dinner then to worship. It was another beautifully rich night magnifying the Lord and being led by the Spirit. Last night the discomfort that comes when the Spirit invades hearts was tangible and awesome in this place. Neil spoke on John 3 and living life in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Small groups met and discussed questions from Neil’s sermon for more rich time talking through what God is doing in hearts and lives.

Day 3 has started, the sun is shining, and we have another fun and Spirit filled day ahead. Keep praying and asking for Jesus to wreck lives and set His Kingdom down in our hearts.

**Here is the link to the podcasts of Neil’s talks from yesterday http://mixlr.com/heightsstudents/showreel/

The Journey to Camp

This post is coming at you straight from Panama City Beach, FL!!! What an adventure it was to get here. All the festivities began Sunday night at 8 pm. Students auditioned for the talent show, leaders met for the first time with Cory and then the masses started flowing in to register at 10 pm. Everything went extremely smoothly and energy was sky-high as registration played out. We excitedly counted down the hours, then the minutes, till loading the buses. All five charter buses rolled out of the parking lot right before midnight. The buses were filled with happy chatter and anticipation for the adventure to begin. About thirty minutes into the journey, one of the buses had a glitch that the bus drivers couldn’t figure out how to fix. All the buses pulled over and the drivers called their dispatcher, who tried to help them solve the problem. Once he realized it couldn’t be solved quickly, he drove a new bus over to us. We spent about two hours on the side of the road in Forney and were extremely grateful to see the new bus pull up around 2am. We swapped over luggage and loaded onto the new bus and hit the road again. The rest of the journey to Panama City was pretty uneventful, thankfully. Time wasn’t on our side, but we made it and are here and know the Lord was sovereign throughout every single moment of getting us here, even if it wasn’t when we were expecting.

We got in to Laguna Beach Retreat center around 6 pm, unloaded the buses and moved into our cabins. Once all the stuff was settled, students and leaders ate dinner then broke up into small groups for the first time. This time was spent getting to know one another, discussing expectations for the week, and praying for God to speak to each other.

The first night of worship was full of expectancy and magnifying the Lord. 265 people filled the room with sounds of praise and it was a beautiful thing to finally see all of the dreams, plans, and prayers for this camp playing out in this space. Justin Cofield Band shepherded us incredibly well through worship. Then Neil came up and taught on the King and His Kingdom. Matthew 4:13-17 and Colossians 1:15-23 were the two main passages of Scripture that we camped out on. During his talk, he posed some challenging questions that small groups gathered to process and apply through after worship. You can click on this link to watch the podcast from last night’s sermon. http://mixlr.com/heightsstudents/showreel/heightsstudentss-mixlr-9/

After good time with small groups, everyone came back together for our one Late Nite of the week—the talent show! Six different acts showed off their unique talents that ranged from ukulele playing to testimony rapping and everywhere in between. Kimberly Ferrell’s creative duet with herself took the gold! It was a fun way to wrap up the adventure of kicking off camp.

We all enjoyed sleeping in a stationary bed last night that didn’t breakdown. We are excited to embark upon our first full day of camp today. Be praying for vulnerability, brokenness, and for God to reveal Himself to us as we go throughout this day.

#thsmcamp14

Welcome Height’s Students parents! Sunday night many months worth of work, prayer, and planning come to fruition as we load the buses to head to Panama City Beach, FL. We couldn’t be more excited and expectant for how the Lord is going to move this week. We will be updating this blog throughout the week to help give you a glimpse of what your student is experiencing at camp. These posts will include photos, blurbs about the happenings of the day, and links to each of Neil McClendon’s talks. Our desire is for you to be able to see, hear, and experience as much of camp as possible without leaving Dallas so that you will be able to better support, challenge and encourage your child when he or she returns home.

The theme of camp is Kingdom. As we were planning for camp, this verse kept being put on our hearts–

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Our prayer, along with Neil and Justin’s, is that Jesus would invade, clearly revealing Himself and His Kingdom to us so that when we come home every ounce of our hearts and lives might reflect the greatness of His Kingdom. We will be diving into the Word with small groups to study and discuss different vantage points of the Kingdom each day.

Join us in praying that Jesus would rain down and have His glorious way, helping all of us to see that He is better and His Kingdom is greater than ours.

We are glad that your student is joining us at Beach Camp. Stay tuned for our first update from Panama City!

**Use the hashtag in the title to search Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with live happenings from Beach Camp.**