Hi Swamp Bloggers!

I hope you are having a marvelous start to your week. Before getting into this week's blog, I want to remind you of a few things.

1) Swamp Corps will be going to Cambodia in just two short days for Cambodia Year Two! Please be praying for the team as they go spread the camp culture in another nation. And, check the Swamp Corps Blog to see team members' posts about their travel experiences. Parents, this is a great way to see what's going on!

2) Summer camp registration is still open, but spots are filling! Click here to sign up and register for a week or two or three at one of the best places on Earth!

3) Swamp will be hosting one more work party on May 11th from 8am-5pm. Anyone 14 years or older is welcome to come, and lunch will be provided. Please make sure to RSVP by filling out this form. Thank you in advance for your help as we get camp ready for the summer. And, thanks to all who came to the work party this past Saturday!

A Reliable Friend

Have you ever had a friend that you know you can always trust no matter what? Maybe they're a friend that you made at camp. I know I have some truly good friends that God has blessed my life with. They are people that I can entrust my deepest fears and desires to. And, I know they'll be there when I need them.

Several of those deep friendships either started at camp or grew at camp. Two of my three current roommates became my good friends at camp. In fact, one of them was in my first cabin, when I was ten years old. I remember her giving me advice on how to beat the long shower line by putting my toiletries and towel on my bed beforehand. All I can say is that camp connections really do last a lifetime!

Camp friendships can start in an instant and last a lifetime!

The Perfect Friend

But even with amazing friends, there is someone who sticks even closer. His name is God. A few days ago, I was reading through the book of 1 John. I read through a passage in chapter four and felt enlightened about a new concept. The majority of chapter four is talking about God's love versus ours. The chapter states that true love is not that we loved God, but that he loved us first and sent his son to die for our sins. Then, in verses 15-16, the passage says:

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."

I thought about the last part of the verse and how it says we know and rely on the love God has for us. To know God's love is to be known by God, and to rely on something is to have it to fall back on when nothing and no one else is there. Even in our spiritual relationships, we cannot be satisfied in the same way as in our relationship with God. Our great God is omnipresent and always available for us. He wants to be the reliable friend in our lives. Of course, we get to make decisions about whether or not we turn to Him, but He will always be there.

God also made us in His image, so that we can reflect His love and friendship to others.

Just a few verses up, in verse 12, it says something that reminds me of one of the ways we see God as a reliable and trustworthy friend:

"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

When I read that verse, I think of the Swamp value YHWH, which stands for Yahweh. This is quite a mystical word. It is the name the Hebrews used for God, which was often thought of as too sacred to be spoken. The vowel sounds are also uncertain, so people just fill it in with random vowels in order to pronounce it.

The concept of YHWH as a value of Camp Swamp is that kids need to be able to see the presence of God in order for the spiritual element of camp to work. Now, how do we see Him, when as the verse says, He is invisible? Well, I think we see Him in nature, in relationships, in people, in the Bible, and in answered prayers. Perhaps you remember a time that you prayed for a sign from God while at camp. Maybe you prayed to make a friend or maybe you prayed to see a shooting star at the starlight devotional. Do you remember what it felt like when that happened? Those are ways that we see God's love.

We can also see God while worshipping Him.

Of course, we definitely do see Him in people. He can show us glimpses of Himself through friendships like the ones we were talking about. He can also reveal Himself in the hurts, showing us that He is there when we are missing that something that fills us in a relationship. He is the reliable friend, and He wants us to make Him our closest friend and confidant. I pray that this week you are able to simply know and rely on the love that God has for you. I pray that you may see it in the small things and in the big things. Know that He's got your back, and He won't let you fall.

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Much Love & Respect,

Julie