Deuteronomy4:39Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
Jesus ministered to many, but He focused on a few. Many times during His three-year ministry, He took the twelve disciples on retreats in between missionary works to teach, admonish, and show them who He is on a personal level before they were sent for the work. He used this time to take them deeper into who He is.
Recently, the young professionals of this church went out of town for a few days to get away from the world and focus on the Lord. Planning took a few months of brainstorming, delegating, and most importantly, prayer. We were all ecstatic when the theme, “Matchless” was introduced, and we were to focus on God’s matchless attributes, and how they’re important in the Christian life. It wasn’t easy, but no amount of planning would suffice if God wouldn’t be the center of our intentions.
The days were approaching, and most, if not all of the young pro were excited about the retreat. Some of them couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for them. Some others were excited to spend time in fellowship with friends from church. Still, there were those who came putting their personal battles on hold, to seek the Lord for answers. Lives of varying backgrounds came together with hearts ready to be taught by God through the speakers.
The first of the speakers was Pastor AJ Caparros, who talked about God’s Matchless Independence, highlighting the fact that God does not need us, for He never needed anything, yet He, in His glory and splendor still wants us. It is important for us to see ourselves as what we really are before God so we would shrink to our original size and not overlap His majesty, or extol anything of ourselves and worship God right. God is self-existent, self-sufficient and complete, therefore He was never lacking. Yet, He wants us in love, because we were created to glorify Him and to bring Him joy. It is important to humble ourselves before God, to look beyond our idols before we ever get to continue looking at God’s matchless attributes.
The second session was led by brother Carlo Cusi, who shared about God’s Matchless Faithfulness. He first defined faithfulness as being trustworthy, vindicated, unchanging, dependable and steadfast. He talked about the standard of God’s faithfulness, which is Himself, and because He is the standard of faithfulness, we are secured in it. Lastly, He calls us to be faithful, offering Himself as the source of such faithfulness, assuring us in His Word that if we abide in Him, He will abide in us, and that’s what will keep us faithful.
The third session was led by our very own Pastor TJ Caparros, who explained God’s Matchless Holiness. He started with the praises the seraphim called out to one another, shouting, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts,” noting that this attribute is the only word in the Bible repeated thrice, which led us to the first point which is the importance of God’s holiness. His holiness is the most important attribute we must learn because it will dictate how we approach God. Pastor TJ then highlighted the implications of God’s holiness, and its impact, especially in the context of Biblical courtship among believers. He and Dr. Anthony Ang then proceeded with a discussion on how to apply Biblical truth in the courtship relationship context. It was, for me, one of the most balanced, and well-regulated sessions about courtship and purity I’ve attended.
Session four was led by our beloved Dr. Anthony Ang, who expounded on God’s Matchless Wisdom. First, he defined wisdom by both differentiating it with its partners, knowledge and understanding, and how wisdom is vertical while knowledge is horizontal, and how the world’s definition of wisdom is different from how God defines it. To expound on all of that here would be too lengthy. The most important point that Dr. Ang pointed out and concluded with is the part of this session which summarizes everything he shared, which is where wisdom starts, and that is found in Proverbs1:7, which is the fear of God. To fear God above all things isn’t just the wisest thing to do; it is the beginning of wisdom; it is its very source.
The last session was led also by our very own Pastor Jojo Chua, who didn’t just discuss, but also testified about God’s Matchless Generosity. He first contrasted the world’s unbalanced view on Biblical riches, to what the Bible explains how riches and resources are to be used Biblically, and explained how the love of money is the source of many evils, not money in itself as the evil we must avoid. God desires fruitfulness and productivity even in our secular work, making it still part of our act of worship to God, not failing to touch on how tithing is also part of our worship to Him. Pastor Jojo also gave us his personal experience of how faithful God has been in his life in his personal times of abundance and need, and it was encouraging to be reminded that we can never out-give God. He concluded with three stories of how God uses His Christians in their secular jobs, may it be that the believer is a business owner, or a taxi driver. It gave us better light how we ourselves can be used in our own jobs.
Each session highlighted the Gospel and what role it plays in every aspect of the Christian life. As we live in accordance to God’s Word, we must never leave the fact that we are sinners saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. We must shift our perspectives from people working for God’s favor, to believers doing God’s work because we are saved and favored. The matchlessness of God in every aspect cannot be viewed with eyes that are clouded with selfishness, but only through eyes opened that God is the main thing, and we must keep it that way.
Along with life-touching sessions with our speakers, it was also decided to dedicate big chunks of time on fellowship so we can bond with each other. In addition to this, no camp experience is ever complete without the memorable games. From the before-session ice-breakers, to the hilarious consequences of rule-breakers, to the big team-builder, the activities have, doubtless, strengthened friendships and made new ones. It is commendable that the game organizers put great thought and effort to come up with these lasting experiences.
On a personal note, it wasn’t just refreshing for me to attend the camp as one of the organizers; it was breaking. Being part of the advance team, I got busy with the physical preparations on the first day. Admittedly, I was there, yet my heart wasn’t since I still carried a bag of my worries as I moved our stuff from floor to floor in the venue. I got so focused on the mechanics of my position as part of Documentations that I prioritized capturing sceneries at different angles, and forgot to offer my heart to God in every angle. I forgot to worship. That quickly changed when the first session started, and the lyrics during praise and worship ministered to me of how the Cross of Christ was enough. My heart broke, my eyes lifted, and I was able to use every waking moment at camp an opportunity to praise God. Every session reminded me of who God is, and how I should respond to His being. The fellowship I also shared with my teammates also allowed me to learn what kind of love surrounded me in the church, and talks with old and new friends have showed me how much God still desires to use me. Being reminded of this, God has indeed deepened my worship to Him.
This was by far, one of the most organized yet relaxed camp experiences I’ve ever had. Knowing how many things could go at once, the organizers agreed that everything seemed to fall into place. That being said, it could not have been possible if it weren’t for the gracious hand of God who works in all things. Everything went smoothly, and there was no known friction between any of the committees or the campers. The diversity of the speakers we had and the methods they used to highlight God’s matchlessness was tackled from angles that varied so much, it was amazing how it all made sense. We sunk to our knees knowing no amount of planning could accomplish such feat, and we sink to our knees again, knowing our God has allowed us to be part of this great work, humbled by His favor. By this, we know that the strength didn’t come from us, but from the Almighty.
Camp gave us time to be alone with God in the presence of fellow believers. Being away from the world for a little while allowed us to develop a better attitude of how we must live when we came back to the world and to our individual battles. To focus on the matchless attributes of God and His character and to make it central in every aspect of our being, as we live a life in worship of Him is the most important lesson we learned. To come to terms that the Christian life has little to do with ourselves, and that everything is centered on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; to come to the end of ourselves and begin afresh in Christ isn’t just mind-blowing; it’s life-changing. Most, if not all of us left camp with a better sense of that, a little less of ourselves, and a little more of God, sanctified in His presence.
As I write this article, I can do only so much as to give you a picture of what God has done in my point of view, and I’m sure I’ve fallen short. However, as I allow God to guide the words I’ve used, I only pray He has encouraged and ministered to you, and even so much as given you a sliver of who He is and how we must respond to that. We serve a God who is matchless in every way, yet loves us to want us to be part of the work He does. I humbly pray God would use this to glorify Himself in your life as well, dear reader. All glory and honor and praise be onto His matchless Name, now and forever, Amen.