Day Three | SharpTop Cove | 2019
by Jonathan Ray, Student Life Director
Day three is upon us. So many good times these past couple of days. I’ve seen mountain heights, smiling faces, ice cream afternoons, jumping feet, hands raised in workshop, pensive hearts, and the laughter of God hearts.
It’s only been three days, but God has taken our time and multiplied the impact in the way only He can.
The challenge for our final Friday morning was to analyze our hearts. Are we a people who truly love God and know Him, or do we need to be honest and acknowledge that we haven’t given our hearts completely over to the Creator? The good news is that once we’re honest with ourselves, there He stands, ready to welcome us into the realm of His marvelous light.
I pray your student had a wonderful time this week. Ask them about these questions and about what God taught them. From lake games to mountain hikes, from delicious food to worshipful rejoicing, our days have been full. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
What a way to kick of the fall. Here’s to the 2019-2020 school year and all that God has in store!
Day Two | Sharptop Cove | 2019
by Mr. Arnold, Upper School English Teacher
Day two is underway, and I find myself hanging out in one SharpTop’s many hangout spots: the Bear Den. The Bear Den is a large room with a massive stone fireplace and lots of wood: wooden walls, wooden rafters — even the ping-pong tables are made of wood. On the other side of the fireplace, someone’s slurping way too much ice cream out of a huge cup. Kids in line for the snack shop joke and laugh as they wait for their own too-large milkshakes. The plastic clatter of ping-pong paddles and air hockey pucks echoes off the high ceilings.
Maybe I’m working too hard to paint this picture, but it’s just too beautiful for me to pass up. So often, these kids are classmates and project partners and teammates, but right now they’re just friends.
Although opportunities for friendships are a beautiful thing, retreat also offers something even deeper. In our morning session today, Dr. Hedges spoke about the power of God to take our hearts and make us new. He turns Sauls into Pauls, Simons into Peters, Marys into Marthas, and lambs into lions. It’s one of those unseen realities of Hebrews 11 faith, but I catch glimpses of it here and there. I see it when 360 kids take time out of their morning to sit down with the Word of God, and I see it when strangers pick up ping-pong paddles and smiles crack their faces.
And I can hear it, too. I heard it this morning when we sang, “Lord, I need you,” and the voices of all those students washed over the worship center. I love to sing those words, but it feels just as sweet to close my eyes and listen to the people of Christ declare their readiness for him to move in their hearts. God has big things in store for us today … and we are ready.
Day One | Sharptop Cove | 2019
by Jonathan Ray, Student Life Director
Today has been a blast at Sharptop! This camp is truly beautiful. We are in the heart of God’s creation and are soaking it all in. Students arrived at this beautiful retreat center before lunch, and we kicked off our theme of the retreat: Engage the Heart. We will be learning, over the next few days, about what it means to have a heart that is alive and for God, as well as unearthing what His heart is for us.
Dr. Hedges, NCCS Bible Department head, delivered two powerful session talks to us today in alignment with that theme. In the first, called “Discover the Father’s Heart,” we saw from numerous places throughout the Old Testament that God the Father is not a mean, overbearing God, but He is deeply personal, caring, loving, and kind. We had a chance to see God speaking truths about His own character and heart for us — and how that heart is truly shown in the person of Jesus, who only did what the Father told Him.
After a beautiful time of worship, we ate some amazing pulled pork sandwiches and then hit the fields for an epic color battle challenge! Students gathered in their squads for a wiffle ball tournament and an epic game of arrow-tag, which is like dodgeball with bows and arrows, equipped with a giant brick of padded cushion at the end of each arrow. Then, we enjoyed an Italian dinner overlooking Sharptop Mountain.
Our late-night session was called “Clean My Heart.” We read 2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51, and Micah 7, examining how sin in our lives disrupts everything. We need our Lord to clean our hearts so they might truly be alive — and so we can live as we were meant to live.
One of my personal favorite moments was when Dr. Hedges reminded us of a popular television show episode, during which a car in bad condition is overhauled and made almost new by a crew of talented people. When they return the car to the owner, he is overjoyed that his car has been so perfectly restored and cared for. He doesn’t want the old version back, he is overjoyed to have the “new” car. When Christ truly makes our hearts new, we don’t want the old one back; in fact, it’s with joy that we can look at this new heart God has given us. And if we are in need of some “heart cleaning,” God delights to forgive and work in us. He gave His very self to do that.
What a beautiful day and opportunity to see God for who He truly is as well as ourselves. We can’t wait to see what today brings!