Today, we’re going to hear from the 2021 GMBA Camp-in Director Brother Dan Arcuri. In this post, he explains three important facets of the camp theme.
What a year. I don’t think any of us would have ever guessed that GMBA Camp would be virtual two years in a row.
Many of us faced unexpected challenges over the last year; some lost loved ones, some lost their jobs, we’ve missed birthday parties, proms, graduations, not seeing family or friends, etc. We’ve had our whole lives upended and had to adjust to a new way of life with a computer screen being our primary contact to the outside world. Through it all, one element of our lives stayed the same…Jesus Christ.
Through it all, we have been surrounded by His love, grace, and mercy. Through it all, we’ve been able to cling to the hope that Jesus Christ offers us.
Our FOCUS on him reminds us where our hope comes from. (Psalm 121:1-2).
We are JOYOUS, a prolonged state of happiness, because of the love that God has for each of us (1 Nephi 11:22-23).
Because of the price that was paid on the cross, we know that Christ is VICTORIOUS (Mosiah 15:8, 1 Corinthians 15:57).
Let’s take a closer look at each of these three concepts.
We have a God-given gift to literally focus the lens of our eyes on something. I can focus on the screen in front of me, and everything around it becomes blurry. I can focus on the tree out the window, and the closer things blur. This is a natural ability that influences us spiritually.
We can be surrounded by good things, bad things, and everything in between. And we get to choose what we focus on. (Read that again if you have to.)
Do you focus on your battles or the One who is with you in them? When you fix your focus, things start to change. Your attitudes, values, beliefs…they shift.. Your soul, your spirit starts to awake. Your thoughts, actions, speech…they change. You start focusing on solutions, not problems. The solution is Jesus.
Focus on Him, and something radical takes place. You see joy where there was sorrow. You see hope where there was concern. You see Him more. You begin to see Jesus in anything and everything. Your eyes, your mind, and your spirit…they search for Him, notice Him, look always to focus on Him.
Most of us can say that we hear the whispers of the enemy in our spiritual ears from time to time. We know that the devil is a liar. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on joyous things, not negative! We must at times replace those negative influences around us and immerse ourselves in Christ. It may sound easy, but boy, that can truly be a tough reprogramming! But then, we can begin to hear His voice! And then, we find joy!
We know what the pleasing Word of God says about the joy of the Lord. It is our strength! Scripture says that Christ, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame. He focused on joy and not His surroundings (many of them negative).
Although we are often surrounded by difficult things, we need to tap into this resource to overcome the things around us.
When Enos (Lehi’s boy) was searching for a better relationship with the Almighty, he rested his heart on the joy of the saints. It was that simple thought that triggered change! We need to make sure we are surrounded by the saints. When we are, we rally! We thrive! We consider their testimonies, we listen to their songs, we watch their example. It brings us joy and gives us courage to go on.
1 Nephi 8, Lehi spoke of the tree that represents the love of God. When he partook of it, it filled him with exceeding great joy. How do we partake of this love (and the resulting joy) today?
We find many opportunities when we surround ourselves with His Word and the saints of God. The old saying goes: “If you walk with a man who limps, then you’re gonna limp.” but we’ll add that if you surround yourself with the saints, you will thrive in joy!
So, make a joyful noise and give praise to his name! No problem that this world puts in our way, not even a pandemic, can ever take away the gifts that Jesus Christ offers us.
Sometimes negative situations can overtake us to a point where we are dragged down in misery. Statistics show that the effects of these current negative situations are causing a tremendous and unfortunate increase in depression, anger, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness in our youth (and everyone, actually). Of course, as followers of God, the answer to everything is at our fingertips.
In order to move forward and help us overcome, we need to recognize the victories that also surround us.
These victories come in all shapes and sizes. It’s our job to recognize them, thank God for them, and lay our focus on them. There are many ways that we can open our eyes to these victories. When we do, that helps turn us into the conquerors God hopes we will be.
Instead of thinking negatively about ourselves and feeling helpless, consider the wonderful way God made you and how He loves you as His child. The goal is to allow the victories of life and our victorious qualities to overcome and outweigh the negative stuff.
In conclusion, we are SURROUNDED (Hebrews 12:1) by Him. The battle, big or small, is His and was won on the cross. It is up to each of us to stay focused on Him, to be joyous because of Him, and to claim the victory Christ has won.
Links for GMBA Camp-in
GMBA Camp home page (the hub for all things camp)
GMBA YouTube channel (where you can find all recorded video content)
Flocknote (where you can find information for the live Zoom meetings within the GMBA subgroup)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.