July 26, 2017 – Pastor Brian’s Blog

Judy and I are not really what you would call “career” campers. I remember when Word of Life asked Judy and me to direct their Family Campground; we had never camped in our life! I can still remember our first night; I was expected to greet people I did not know, coming to do something I had never done, and answering questions that I had no answers too. And to top it off, I was expected to introduce a speaker, whom I had never met, and soon found out he would not show up because someone forgot to tell him that he was to speak that evening.

So although we are still not career campers we have come a long way in camping since that first summer. We now attend family camp at Word of Life every summer for two weeks in a…. tent! I know what you are thinking, how can you treat your wife of 44 years like that? My answer would be that…. it makes her appreciate home more????

Because we are not real campers we are willing take advice from others on what we are to do. This year someone told us we needed to put our tarp under the tent to keep water from seeping into the floor of the tent. Well we only had one tarp so instead of putting it over the tent (we had a rainfly covering that is supposed to keep the water out) we did as we were told and put our only tarp under the tent.

Well to say the least we had a little more rain than normal while we were camping. One night we woke up with water dripping inside our tent (remember our one tarp is now under the tent) getting our clothes and everything else wet. So we scurry around moving everything away from the dripping areas.

For the next couple of days our tent floor was wet and would not dry out. Do you remember me mentioning that someone told us it was a good idea to put our one tarp under the tent instead of over the tent? Well come to find out our tarp was holding water which seeped into our tent. So we removed the tarp and *presto* our floor became dry.

There are many memories made when you go camping with your family and with your church. These past two weeks we had great Bible teaching. Our first week we had Dr. Richard Blackaby & Dr. Crawford Loritts and our second week we had Dr. Corey Abney and Pastor Jarrod Jones. Great Bible teaching and great application so that we left better prepared than we came to live out our faith before others.

But there was another truth that God impressed upon me while we were at camp and that was the memories we are making for others. Throughout the week I got to spend time with people that have made memories for me. One day Judy and I had lunch with Paul Bubar, who is the person God used to get us into full time ministry. One evening Judy and I had the opportunity to spend time with Harry and Millie Bollback. Harry is the person that had more effect on how I do ministry than anyone.

I went to an early morning men’s Bible study that my friend Marshall Wicks taught, I got to spend time with John Nelson, Rick Warken, and others who I have great memories of.

But what God impressed upon me were the memories that I have made for others. One morning Jane came up to me and said “Are you Brian Gower?” I am never sure how I should answer that question but she looked friendly so I said yes. She said Keith is going to want to see you. Come to find out I had led her husband Keith to Christ some 25 years earlier when I worked at the Campground.

Another camper, Jennifer, told me that I was her second dad growing up, (not because she needed one as her dad was and continues to be very Godly) and that she would not have married her husband Jason unless she got my approval.

Brad and Marybeth spent a week with us at camp. They have followed us to every ministry we have been involved in for over 30 years. We had good friends come from Albany to spend the day with us. There were others that sought us out, people that we shared memories with, but more importantly people that had memories of us.

I know that it happens to me as a pastor and I assume that it might happen to you as well. We become so busy, so focused on what we want to do or accomplish that we can see people as an interruption or an intrusion into our lives. We see people as an inconvenience instead of seeing that person as a God appointment.

Instead of leaving a bit of Jesus with that cashier that might be slower than we want her to be, we leave an attitude. When that person wants to spend time with us, that person that we have nothing in common with, instead of showing God’s Grace to them we look for ways to avoid them. Instead of talking to that person in line we become so consumed with ourselves that we don’t take the opportunity to share Christ.

If God is sovereign (and He is!) then we need to start looking at every person that comes into our lives as a God appointment. Some of those appointments might be only for a moment; others might be a memory that person will never forget. Either way we need to be leaving a bit of Jesus with everyone we meet.

I believe that Paul lived that kind of life. I believe he sought out opportunities to make good memories for those God appointments. Matter of fact he even told us how to live so that we can make the most of those appointments…. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God– even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

I am a different person because people were willing to make memories for me, willing to take the time to notice me and invest in my life. Sometimes knowingly but often unknowingly, but always leaving me with a bit more of Jesus.

I was reminded of that this week as people came up to Judy and I to share how we made memories for them and how they are different because of them. See? There are things worse than rain water coming into your tent, and that would be missing the God appointments that we are given to affect the people that God brings into our lives.