At some point, I suppose, I will have to slow down and not do quite as much multitasking. Or, as I put it to Dana recently, "I am not burning the candle at both ends; I have the entire candle in an oven set to bake at 450." So, yes, I probably do need to slow down.
But not quite yet.
For now, I am still able and enjoying both pastoring and traveling all over the place to preach revivals, family conferences, vacation Bible schools, youth rallies and youth camps. And it is that last agenda item, youth camp, that took me to the lovely rolling hills of Virginia last week, specifically Rapidan Baptist Camp in Rochelle, Virginia. A wonderful missionary, Brother Ricky Merryman, hosts the Escape To The Mountains youth camp there each year, and I preach during the evening services.
It is a lovely camp, with a huge climbing wall, zip line, massive pool and equally massive water slide, among other things. But it is still a camp. This is to say that I left my king-size bed with plush carpet and tile bathroom with the Jacuzzi tub to sleep on a hard twin bunk bed in a dorm in the woods cooled by a window AC unit with concrete floors and no bathroom. The bathroom is a block bath house that one must trek through the woods to get to. This is, after all, part of the camp experience, "roughing it."
Other adults were there experiencing the same "luxuries," only they had the added feature of a roomful of hyper, loud, rambunctious kids to watch over.
Why would anyone do that? The reason is two-fold and tied together.
Both morning and evening, there are chapel services where the Bible is preached without fear or favor. We saw 10 young people trust Christ as their Savior, and many others make fantastic decisions as to what manner of lives they would live. But each morning, there is also another feature, and it is what my mind is dwelling on.
At 8:30 each morning, there is a flag-raising service. Everyone says the Pledge of Allegiance, and then a special speaker, one who is both a born-again Christian and also an unashamed, patriotic American, addresses everyone.
There was a state trooper. There was a gentleman who had been in the Air Force. There was a retired intelligence officer. And on the last day, there was a recently retired Marine. That last one brought a smile to my face as soon as I saw him. Normally, I can look at a crowd and think, "I can out-bench-press anyone here." As soon as I saw him, I thought, "This guy could bench-press me while I am bench-pressing my 335." The man looked to be about 6 feet tall, 290 pounds or so, without an ounce of fat on him. I have a black belt, power-lift five days a week and would not fight that guy if I were wearing body armor and carrying a baseball bat.
Each one of those flag-pole speakers spoke from their experience as to what it means to be both a Christian and an American. And 70 kids or so stood in rapt attention, hanging on every word, as did all of the adults.
The intelligence officer said, "I grew up overseas, and everyone hated America and hated the American flag, and I never really understood why. But when my family moved back to the states, I figured it out. Everywhere I grew up, people had bars on the windows and doors, walls surrounding their tiny properties and broken glass embedded into the top of the walls. The facts of life in those places are as follows: If someone is stronger than you and wants what you have, they are going to take it, and neither law enforcement nor anyone else is going to do anything about it."
He spoke of rampant slavery, pointing out that America ended the practice long ago and at a great price in blood, but much of the rest of the world still practices it, and our media and academia intentionally ignore it and say nothing of it. Then he said, "When I moved back to the states, I found no slaves, no bars and windows on the doors, and no walls with broken glass on the top. I also found no women being beaten in the streets for not wearing sheets over their entire bodies or for being out and about without a male relative. Here in the United States, we have freedom, we have liberty, and the rest of the world hates us for that, all while longing for what we have."
Each of them spoke about the biblical and Christian underpinnings of that freedom. They quoted founding documents, Founding Fathers and showed how inextricably tied together our freedom and our Judeo-Christian heritage are.
And the world did not see it. There were no cameras rolling. There was no media in attendance. There was no desire from anyone to "go viral." There was simply the quiet work of helping an up-and-coming generation understand the things that, long ago, in a more sensible time, they would have been taught in school, in church and even in entertainment.
If America is to survive, this kind of thing is going to need to happen all over the place. A few generations of damage has already been done, and most people were unaware it was even happening. And while there certainly needs to be a battle to reclaim the mostly lost ground of the public school system, entertainment world and even weak, pandering churches desperate for societal approval, in the meantime, there need to be multiplied thousands of small settings, unseen by most of the world, in which both better Christians and better citizens are built.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.