Hello Swamp Bloggers!

Welcome back to the blog. I hope you are having a great day. Before getting into this week's content, I want to remind you all of some fun retreats coming up at the Swamp over the next couple of months. (You can skip down to the next section if you don't want details about these great retreats.)

1) Mother Son Retreat

  • March 22-24 (sign up HERE!)
  • $85 for mom and $85 for son
  • $35 discount for each additional person (grandmother or additional son)
  • A really great bonding time for mothers and sons!

2) Daddy Daughter Retreat

  • April 26-28 (sign up HERE!)
  • $85 for dad, $85 for daughter
  • $35 discount for each additional person (grandfather or additional daughter)
  • Activities: daddy daughter dance, s'mores, laser tag, crafts, and more!

These retreats are always a special time of bonding for dads and daughters, as well as, mothers and sons. Some families make it an annual tradition. Don't miss out on a wonderful opportunity! Also, in case you need the link, sign up for summer camp can be found at this link.

Christ's Love Compels

Now, that we've discussed those details, I just want to leave you all with something that will hopefully bring you some encouragement

This weekend I was at the South Eastern Campus Ministries Retreat in Ocoee, TN. The theme was "Come Alive," and it was based on the book of Ephesians. The retreat was a very encouraging time, and I got to see friends from all over the Southeast. What is pretty cool is that many of the friends I got to reconnect with are people I originally connected with at the Swamp. Being in a fellowship of believers is always encouraging to the soul, and it definitely reminded me of the big reunions we get to have with friends at the Swamp.

One of the major things that I took away from this retreat is how much God loves us and how much Satan wants to convince us otherwise. Coming into the retreat, I didn't realize how much I had been trying to earn God's love with my good works. Regardless of whether I was aware of it, Satan had been tricking me into thinking I could never be good enough for God.

The retreat really opened my eyes to see how much God loves me regardless of my performance. What set the tone for my weekend was the opening sermon on Friday night. The speaker played a video showing scenes depicting Jesus going to the cross and dying for us. The video made everyone start to tear up and some, even cry, seeing how much Christ sacrificed to bring forgiveness. After the video ended, the speaker referenced Romans 5 and talked about how Jesus died for us in our lowest low, at the darkest point in our lives.

He then referenced 2 Corinthians 5, and he said that Christ's love is what inspires wholehearted devotion to him. At that point I started to reflect on how much worth I'd been putting into my works for God rather than his love for me, displayed in the ultimate sacrifice of the crucifixion.

This is a trap that we all fall into. And, I want to encourage you to know and study out Christ's love for you to help you avoid that trap. At the Swamp, we tend to be very connected to Christ's love for us. We feel his love from the people around us and in the nature surrounding us. Yet, in our day-to-day lives it can be easy to lose sight of just how passionately Jesus loves us.

I ended up reading through the book of Ephesians this weekend to help me understand God's love better, and I just want to share this piece of scripture that speaks of Christ's love.

"16" I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

-Ephesians 3: 16-19

I loved reading this scripture, because it made me see how deep and transcending Christ's love is, and it made me realize how much He wants me to know of his great love for me. If this was the prayer of a man who wanted his friends to know Jesus, how much more does God want us to know Jesus!

So, in closing I pray this prayer for you all this week. I pray that you may know the love of Christ that surpasses understanding. And, I pray that it will fill you in your hearts. I hope this has encouraged you!

Thanks for reading & until next time!

Much Love & Respect,

Julie