Psalm 127 Prayer

Psalm 127:1-2

Unless the Lord builds the house,

those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the watchman stays awake in vain

Father in heaven, I ask you to be the builder of my house, my family, my life. Be the builder of Pine Cove too. I do not want to live for me, but want to live for you! Lord, our country is full of people who live for themselves and their own pleasures (including me Lord) and I pray that you would move mightily in the hearts of the people in this great land. Turn our attention from ourselves to you Oh God, to your desires for our life, to our one and only Savior Jesus Christ. We pray Oh God that you would be the object of our affection, have your way with us Oh God, we ask this in the powerful name of Jesus, amen.

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Daily Psalms and Proverbs

While I was in New York City with other camp leaders from around the country in April, we had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Tim Keller, the Lead Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Dr. Keller is the author of numerous books and is one of my favorite speakers. During our time, he shared that he reads the Psalms and Proverbs every single day to stay further engaged in his scripture reading.

Since that time, I have found that if you read five Psalms and one Proverb every day, you can read all the Psalms and all the Proverbs in a month’s time frame. I have been doing this for a few weeks now and it really is a great way to to dig deeper with your time in the Word.

I wanted to share this in hopes that you might take part in the daily Psalms and Proverbs reading with me. Here is the schedule that I have been following:

Day of the Month

1   Psalm 1-5 & Proverbs 1

2   Psalm 6-10 & Proverbs 2

3   Psalm 11-15 & Proverbs 3

4   Psalm 16-20 & Proverbs 4

5   Psalm 21-25 & Proverbs 5

6   Psalm 26-30 & Proverbs 6

7   Psalm 31-35 & Proverbs 7

8   Psalm 36-40 & Proverbs 8

9   Psalm 41-45 & Proverbs 9

10  Psalm 46-50 & Proverbs 10

11  Psalm 51-55 & Proverbs 11

12  Psalm 56-60 & Proverbs 12

13  Psalm 61-65 & Proverbs 13

14 Psalm 66-70 & Proverbs 14

15  Psalm 71-75 & Proverbs 15

16  Psalm 76-80 & Proverbs 16

17  Psalm 81-85 & Proverbs 17

18  Psalm 86-90 & Proverbs 18

19  Psalm 91-95 & Proverbs 19

20  Psalm 96-100 & Proverbs 20

21  Psalm 101-105 & Proverbs 21

22  Psalm 106-110 & Proverbs 22

23  Psalm 111-115 & Proverbs 23

24  Psalm 116-120 & Proverbs 24

25  Psalm 121-125 & Proverbs 25

26  Psalm 126-130 & Proverbs 26

27  Psalm 131-135 & Proverbs 27

28  Psalm 136-140 & Proverbs 28

29  Psalm 141-145 & Proverbs 29

30  Psalm 146-150 & Proverbs 30

31  Psalm 100 & Proverbs 31

Reading scripture is such a critical part of our walk with Christ and I encourage all to go further and really grasp the words of the Psalms and Proverbs as you spend time in the Word every day.

Posted in A Disciple's Life, Prayer - Awaken a Generation | 1 Comment

Savior, Lord, and Life

Yesterday was Pine Cove’s 47th opening day as summer 2014 officially began. The weather was beautiful as the summer staff lined the entrances of each camp to welcome all week 1 campers in typical Pine Cove fashion. By God’s grace, we have the amazing privilege of serving close to 33,000 campers this summer at Pine Cove. Our prayer is that our campers hearts and minds will be open to hearing the gospel and that their life will be transformed for His glory!

Every year, Pine Cove publishes a “Drive Time” CD for all parents to listen to on their drive back home after dropping off their kids at camp for the week. This year, on the CD, I encourage all to realize whose they are and perhaps more importantly who He is.

In 1977, I was a junior at The University of Southern California. That year, by God’s grace I became a follower of Jesus Christ.  On that day, Jesus became my Savior, my Lord and my life.  The only problem was that I still did not fully grasp the meaning of that statement.

As my Savior, Jesus paid it all.  As the old song goes “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay”.  If I were honest, I would say for me, it was a little bit about going to heaven, and a little bit about not going to hell.  Yet, the implications were vast but my mind was finite.

Between 1977 and 1985, I began to do “Christian” things- I became active in a church and I began to study scripture. As I began to understand the Word better, about the same time, a man in our church took a bunch of young men and held a bible study. He began to share with us what it meant for Jesus to be our Savior and our Lord.  He explained the Holy Spirit to us and he prayed in such a way that he would say things like “Lord have your way with me”. As I began to read scripture more and understand more, something began to really change in me.  I was drawn to think about Jesus in a different light, and to really think through the implications of being a Christian.

I spent time reading scripture through a new lens.  Theology still mattered, worship still mattered, and the way I lived mattered. But now, the reason I was alive began to matter.

In the early 1990’s, work was hard and Lynelle and I had three little kids running around our house.  Life was tiresome.  We began to have issues of margin in our family.  When the going got tough, we wondered where we could buy back time as a family that we just seemed to never really find in our “every day” lives.

Pine Cove Family Camp became an instrumental part of our life.  Even though it was just a week during the summer, the time to think, reflect, grow, and rest was vital to our family.

One year, a young man was leading worship and led us in an old hymn.  The opening stanza were these words:

“Take my life and let it be
 consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days,
 Let them flow in endless praise.”

It finally hit me.  Jesus is not only my Savior and Lord.  He is much more and demands to be much more.  He is my life. I was saved in 1977. It took my nearly 20 years to figure out the true meaning of the gospel and who HE is.

As John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. The Lord used people and places to impact me along the way. He used my family, Pine Cove, but most of all, His gospel to impact my life in a REAL way.

Pine Cove speaker Tim Kimmel puts it this way- “When Jesus becomes your life, we have moved from merely receiving the gift of grace or giving back in obedience, but to being a living, breathing representative of His power, His presence, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His grace.”

As we embark on another great summer of ministry, I pray that our staff and our campers come to the true realization that Jesus is our Savior, our Lord, AND our Life. Maybe the only thing holding you back from making that realization, like me… is you.

Posted in A Disciple's Life, Life Change Stories | 1 Comment

The Defeat of Death

Cross-at-Pine-Cove-Bluffs-686x457As a high school student, I was not the best in my English classes. That struggle continued with me all the way into my freshman classes in college. My struggle has many elements. English was essentially my third language as I was raised speaking Dutch and grew up in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood in southern California. But enough of my excuses.

What I do remember about all of my English classes, however, was the use of past tense, present tense and future tense. As I read through the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, I am amazed by a past tense description of something extraordinary that was set to happen 700 years later.

In Isaiah 53, Isaiah the prophet was describing the death of Jesus as if it had already happened.  He uses all past tense language:

He was despised and rejected by men.
He was a man of sorrows.
He was acquainted with our grief.
He carried our sorrows.
He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for our iniquities.
The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

He was describing in vivid detail what would happen 700 years later on the hill at Calvary: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as He paid a debt He did not owe. It was the debt for you and me and all mankind.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the debt I could not pay and washed away my sins, making me clean in the sight of God.

There are several statements in this entire passage that I believe need further contemplation.

We, like sheep, have all gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

This, of course, is the reference to the fact that all of us have failed.  You lie once, you have failed. You cheat once, you have failed. You are mean to your sibling, you have failed.  If you do not honor your mom and dad, you have failed. It does not take big mistakes for us to go astray.  We do not have to be a murderer or an idolater because one little mistake, or one seemingly innocent lie, created a problem between God the Father and us.

That problem required a price to be paid to satisfy the judgment of God.  None of us could solve that problem and so God made a way. That way was named Jesus.

On Good Friday, He bore the shame, the nails, and the agony; the punishment we deserved was placed on Jesus.  Then, on Sunday morning, Easter Sunday morning, He went from being a murdered possible Messiah to a murdered, RISEN, living Messiah!  The tomb was empty and Jesus had defeated death.

Isaiah 53 states, “Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace”. This is the reality of the gospel! Jesus was born a perfect man, lived a perfect life, died a perfect death and resurrected three days later.

Upon Him the chastisement brought us…brought me and brought you… peace.

 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Romans 5:1

This Easter, place your hope in the One who paid your debt, bore your sins, and was the Man of sorrows. He has paid the ultimate price. Have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah prophesied 700 years before it happened. The life and death of Jesus gives us all peace and hope only a Savior can give.

“Jesus paid the debt He did not owe; we owed a debt we could not pay.”

Rejoice in his death and resurrection. Rejoice in the peace that is given because of His death and resurrection.

Rejoice, for He has RISEN!

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Camper Story: Celebrating Salvation


This post was originally posted on the Pine Cove blog site on February 27, 2014.

Opening days at Pine Cove are filled with festivities. As families are driving into camp, the college staff are cheering and jumping, welcoming the arriving campers to camp for another exciting week. No matter the circumstance, the enthusiastic staff can put a smile on the most skeptical face.

This particular week at the Bluffs Family Camp, a mom shared with our staff Sunday night that her husband was tied up at work, so he would not be attending Family Camp with her and the kids.

As the week progressed, the mom and her kids were having a blast. They were enjoying everything Pine Cove had to offer, including horseback riding, water rocketing, zip lines and the blob in the pool.

At one point during the week, after spending time with his counselor and the other staff, the young boy began to ask questions about life and exactly who Jesus is and what He should mean to us.

After more discussions throughout the week, the Lord took hold of the boy’s heart and he eventually started to understand the Gospel – that we are all sinners and that sin separates us from God. However, God being rich in mercy gave his one and only Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins by shedding his blood and dying on the cross. His death and resurrection pays for our transgressions and makes us new again so we can live eternally with Jesus.

That nine-year-old boy trusted Jesus as his Savior that week at Family Camp and his life would be forever changed.

On Thursday night, the mom called the boy’s father and asked him to please join them on Friday night.

One of the other families at camp that week was from Nigeria. All week long the father of the Nigerian family wore his African garb. This man and his family were full of joy and throughout the week they taught the other families praise music in their native language. It is amazing to be able to worship God as one people in different languages.

Friday night during camper share, the young boy shared with all of the families that he had trusted Jesus as his Savior. The place erupted in cheering.

As everyone cheered, the African dad ran over to the boy and began to sing one of the African songs and as he did, he held the boy above his head as if he were offering the boy to God.

At that instant, the boy’s father, who had been asked to join them on Friday night, walked in. As he saw his son being held in the air by the joyful Nigerian man, joy then filled his heart.

At that instant, the boy saw his dad, jumped down and ran to his father. With tears in his eyes, the father opened his arms and waited for his son. The boy could not wait to share what Jesus had done in his heart!

This serves as a great reminder that Pine Cove exists to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory.

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10 Reason’s Why We Do FamilyLife Weekend to Remember



As many of you know, Lynelle and I have the privilege to speak at FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Conferences all around the United States every year.

We live in world where the enemy is consistently tearing families apart. The good news is we serve an amazing God. Romans 8:31 states that “if God is for us, who is against us?” God is in the fight with us every day.

 A few weeks ago, we were in Tulsa, OK speaking and when it was over, here were the top 10 comments coming from the couples who participated:

  1. This event was definitely life changing. My marriage could have been completely over and this weekend literally saved it. The timing was a God given miracle. Thank you so much to all the speakers and the entire staff at FamilyLife. –married 23 years
  2. We were/are divorced. We covered issues that were deep rooted and undiscoverable otherwise. We will remarry with GOD in control!-married 8 years
  3. Words can’t describe how much of a positive impact this session has had on my life as a man and as a husband. –married 12 years
  4. We had/have a great marriage but this gave us a new understanding and clearer vision of sexual intimacy in our marriage!! Praise God-we thought we came to bring another couple with a troubled marriage! –married 38 years
  5. The condition of our marriage was confronted and identified the wall and began tearing down that wall. Can’t wait to see God’s restoration.-married 18 years
  6. In desperation I googled “I don’t understand my wife” and the Weekend to Remember popped up as search result #3. I learned to receive my wife based not on her performance but on her worth.—married 15 years
  7. This getaway opened up and revealed some struggles my husband was having. Had these things not have been revealed, our marriage may have snowballed out of control.—married 1 ½ years
  8. I had drifted away from my spouse and was in the process of rebuilding our relationship. The conference helped me to recognize that I need to receive my wife as a gift from God and that if I reject her, I reject God. —married 36 years
  9. Friday night we decided on divorce. Saturday it was still divorce. Sunday after the first session, it was “I’m wrong for dishonoring you.”—married 4 years
  10. Brought some of our issues to light and forced us to discuss some things we had been avoiding in order for us to get to the point where we could receive the message. –married less than a year.

We will be speaking at the Weekend to Remember in Rockwall this weekend. Pray with us for the Lord to show his power and reveal His grace and love to all the couples scheduled to attend. Pray that wounds will be healed, relationships will be revitalized and the gospel be boldly proclaimed!

If you are interested in a future FamilyLife Weekend to Remember’s, check out the website at


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Camper Story: Receiving Your Spouse

Catching a football

At family camp, adults get to enjoy teaching on parenting, marriage, and the Christian life by excellent Christian speakers. One week, our speaker shared the concept of leaving your mother and father, cleaving to your spouse, and receiving them as a gift from God. The speaker shared the “power” of accepting this realization and the commitment to your spouse that is acknowledged by receiving them.

At the end of this session, the speaker had all of the couples stand and go through a “receiving” ceremony. He used the example of catching a football. Follow the ball in, catch it, pull it close to your body and embrace it.

All of the couples stood to their feet to go receive their spouse with one exception amongst them, Mr. and Mrs. Bailey (not their real names). The couple remained seated. We were all shocked. Nearly 30 years of marriage on the line.

The other couples finished, there were tears and kisses shared… but not between the Baileys. Mrs. Bailey was heartbroken. She had hoped her husband would lead, but nothing.

The week progressed and our staff prayed for all of our campers—especially the Baileys.

On Friday nights, our campers share what they learned during the week and maybe a commitment they intend to make after leaving. During our camper share time, Mr. Bailey got up to speak.

“I know you all noticed that Mrs. Bailey and I did not participate in the ‘receiving’ ceremony earlier this week. As I listened to the speaker, I realized that I had never left my mother and father. My wife has competed with my mom for nearly 30 years. During this week I have acknowledged this to my wife, I have told her I was sorry and have asked her for forgiveness. She has forgiven me, so today…”

He then turned to his wife and said, “Mrs. Bailey I am so sorry this has taken so long… Today, I receive you as my wife, as God’s perfect provision for me.”

They wept, the ladies cried, the guys’ allergies flared up. Tears everywhere. Prayers answered. A new beginning 30 years la

Have you received your spouse as God’s perfect provision for you? Today would be a good day to do so.

The curriculum used by some of our speakers comes from the Weekend to Remember marriage conference by FamilyLife.  This unique partnership between FamilyLife and Pine Cove has had an amazing impact on marriages. For biblical help on all things marriage, family, and relationship-related or for more information check out Family Life website.

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Truth or Consequences

It is hard to imagine. I am getting ready for my 16th summer at Pine Cove. The Lord has done amazing things during those years. We have grown from opening our fourth camp in 1998 to our 9th camp this summer. If you add the 55 Base Camp locations to the mix, we will have nearly 26,000 campers.

As we prepare for the summer, I have a certain more urgent desire to pray. We live in an unusual time in history, specifically in the United States.

We have more people skeptical about the things of God, more people that have a desire for their own personal preferences to trump truth. Just watch the news – truth does not seem to matter any more.

I suspect a day is coming where there will be consequences that will be severe.

So I pray that the truth of the gospel would run in the streets of our country;

Father in heaven, you have made this planet and everything in it and on it. All of creation bows at your feet. You are holy and righteous and should be the object of our affection. Unfortunately, our affection seems to be firmly placed on personal peace and happiness. The problem occurs oh Lord when the pillars of our own person peace crater, we will have to look somewhere.

Oh God I pray that we as a nation, as a people, as individuals would look to you. Holy Spirit would you please have your way with us? Jesus, would you rescue us from ourselves? We are desperately in need of a Savior and that Savior is You! Open our eyes to see the reality of our need for a Savior, our radical need for grace, our radical need for your merciful hand.

Grant us the grace to be “salt and light” to a lost and dying world.

You are holy, we are not. Our lack of holiness seperates us from you and we deserve your wrath. However, you have made a way for us. The glorious words “But God” …should be a sweet taste to our ears and our eyes and our souls.

—Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.
Father bring glory to yourself!
We boldly ask this in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.
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A Certain Hope

Father in heaven, you know the needs of my life and you have directed my path.  You own cattle on a thousand hills and the hills too!  We pray Father that your Holy Spirit would move mightily in our lives; in my life.  That my life we be a life of obedience to you as the King.  May Jesus be the object of my affection, may the Word draw me closer to You.  You are our God, not one thing on this earth fills the void in my heart. Only loving you, the one who gives me life and breath can be worth my true affection.  I trust you Lord.  You are my hope, a hope in the temporary and our hope in the eternal.  Lord you have said in your Word that we have a “certain hope”.  Thanks you for your grace and mercy.  We bow before you in the name of Jesus, amen.

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Draw us to the throne of grace ….

O Lord my God, we bow before your majestic throne today. You are great and glorious and mighty! You are holy, you are awesome. There is nothing that compares to you. Lord, I pray that you would have your way with me, that you would have your way with all of us who proclaim the name of Jesus as Lord. Would you cause a revival of repentance in our hearts? Would you reveal to us how desperately we need to confess to you our shortcomings and sins? Lord, I am reminded by the Apostle Paul, that I don’t do what I should and I do the things I should not do. Lord, capture every element of my heart! Lord would you draw the citizens of the United States to the throne of grace? Father, I beg of you that you would Awaken a Generation of believers in Jesus to live wholeheartedly and unashamedly for you. Thank you for my salvation, thank you Father for Jesus, in whose great name I pray, amen.

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