Salvation – The Foundation Decision #1

I must have made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, but I have no idea when I did this.  I know I was a young child.  I grew up knowing about my sin, God’s great gift, Jesus Christ, and how he died on the cross that my sins could be forgiven.  I memorized, and had a reasonable understanding of John 3:16. 

In my world, I often heard people tell of how and when they accepted God’s gift of salvation – some of these were dramatic stories – and I did not know my “when or how”.  So, just to be sure, I remember singing this chorus many nights in bed.   “Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart Lord Jesus.  Come in today, come in to stay, come into my heart Lord Jesus”. I never felt any different… 

I was in junior high when my parents decided our family should change churches. Before I could become a member, I was interviewed by an elder as to my readiness to become a member of our “new church”.  I clearly remember my disappointment when the elder did not question me about my salvation…not really about anything.   

Partly as a result of that experience, when I have interviewed potential staff members to work in Christian camps, I have tried to assume nothing – and pressed the person hard on the basics of their Christian faith.   

Several times I talked with students, yes, some attending Christian colleges – who seemed to believe they would be saved through their good works. Not so.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9  

Salvation is the free gift of God – to all who say…and believe “This is for me.”   

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  John 10:9 

Be sure you have made this decision for yourself.  Knowing all of the theology involved is not required.  If you feel it helpful, find a Christian you can trust.

In Partnership With God ….introduction

PREFACE: Here is a brand new intro for this series – the series I wanted to do….and then chickened out on!

I know that it has been the transparent sharing of my life experiences with the campers and staff during the After Breakfast Bible Studies, and at other times, that has proven most helpful and encouraging at DL. But it is one thing to share what is coming with the campers and staff I see every day, people I know and who know me, than it is proving to be to share with some people who know me by reputation only, if at all.

But, here goes…a spiritual autobiography – what God has done for me and through me – and for and through the ministries with which I have been involved.

Sally Jo, and more recently son Dirk, have been with me through most of what I share – and they have encouraged me to share my experiences with you.

I trust that you will be encouraged….and challenged.

This intro is one page – future Monday Morning Devotionals will be a bit shorter.


I have sought to live in Partnership with God since junior high school – when I first heard these words of Dwight L Moody:  The world has yet to see what God can do though a man fully yielded to God.  By God’s grace, I will be that man.”  My chosen verse then, and now, is Proverbs 3:5-6.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.”  

Weekly I will to share, autobiographically, my experiences as God’s child seeking to live In Partnership With Him.   I have wanted to do this for many years, but have not done so because of my concern that my story could result in a focus upon me vs. upon the God who has worked in and through me.  My experiences are personal…and if you write about your experiences as God’s servant, your experiences will be mostly different from mine…but just as real to you.  We are each unique to Almighty God.   

Here are some of my memorable experiences – chosen out of my 68 years – 24,020 days -3,736 weeks – 816 months.  What I share are not daily, weekly or even monthly experiences.  I had nothing to do with most of my early experiences – they illustrate what God did for me.  I hesitate to say that I know God.  No question: God knows me…all about me!  I desire to know God…and I feel I know a little of Him, and of the wonder that He has chosen me as His child and that He desires me To Live In Partnership With Himself. 

  • Looking back, I thank God for a family I did not choose, camp experiences that I did not plan, and people who came along at just the right time to help a struggling little boy become Director of Deerfoot Lodge.
  • As I grew up I wanted to know that God was real.  I prayed that God would touch me…shake my bed…or do something to demonstrate his reality.  Nothing!!!!!  My ideas of “why not”.
  • As a pastor at Christ Church of Oak Brook, I prayed for a girl, 7 years in a wheel chair, to be healed….and she was!  Psychological or physical healing, I do not know.   When she walked down the aisle towards me, her pastor, for her own wedding….I just about had a melt down!
  • God shocked me when I was back in grad school – flat broke – Sally Jo and I had told no one. And John Kinsey knocked on our front door, handed me a check for $1000 and said “it’s a gift, not taxable” – then walked away.  I hardly knew the man. He did this 3 times, as needed.
  • God has spoken to me twice in dreams – and once made his presence very real to me
  • I continuing struggle to have a regular time alone with the Lord for Bible study and prayer.
  • God stopped the rain for camp construction where I was the new Director in direct response to 24 hours of prayer by college students
  • When the camp had no money, I watched God provide $57,000 through a man I had never met. 
  • Asked to resign (fired) after seven years – the relocated a summer camp had become a year around ministry 
  • I know my pride cost Deerfoot Lodge $35,000 one year…money DL did not have!
  • I have experienced many un-answered prayers…frustrating – feeling sometimes like God is on vacation
  • At times my heart has been overflowing with praise to God – true worship has been the result

So here we go…it has been a wild ride, this being God’s servant. Most of the time I will use real names, and if not, the name will be in italics.   

This book is about God and me, his weak but willing servant. I desperately want these devotionals to focus your attention on God – to both encourage you and challenge you – as God’s unique creation, His chosen servant.  

Determine to obey God!    Chuck Gieser 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”   Ephesians 2:8-10

Babel: …that we may make a name for ourselves…

God was not against the people of Babel having a name.  Even before Eve was created, God gave to Adam the responsibility of naming each living creature in the Garden (Genesis 2:19).  What was troubling to God must have been the motives of the people who were building the city, the tower.  


It appears that some people continue to be willing to do almost anything to themselves, and/or to others, that they “may make a name for themselves” (Genesis 11:4). Some athletes take performance enhancing drugs, making a mockery of honest competition while slowly destroying their own bodies.   Other people are willing to destroy themselves through excessive stress or lack of sleep or exercise, through ignoring their families or their spiritual needs.   Many do make a name for themselves – but if their motives or means are flawed, how sad for those involved – and if the truth comes out, how sad for family, friends, and admirers.


Solomon noted that “A good name is more desirable than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).   Solomon also tells us how to build that good name.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you… Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man”. (Proverbs 3:3-4)


What is love?   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails”. 

(I Corinthians 13:4-8)


Where do love and faithfulness come from? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)


P eople entrust their children to Deerfoot Lodge for two or more weeks – because of Deerfoot’s good name.  And what has built that good name?  The lives of the Deerfoot Lodge staff – a living demonstration of God’s love and of the fruit of His spirit. I believe Deerfoot Lodge, in a very unique way, is God’s place.  


What an incredible responsibility it is, as God’s people/representatives, to have and to maintain a good name.   Deerfoot Lodge will retain its good name as it continues to be a good steward of all that is entrusted to it: campers, staff, contributions – and the wonderful opportunities this combination brings together for the building of godly young men.


As we actively seek to live In Partnership With God, love and faithfulness will never leave us, and we will build a good name for God –  and for ourselves.   


(Our good name can enable another to make a safe bet!   You can imagine how I smiled when I learned that Tom Eakin, the Forest Ranger for the land surrounding Deerfoot Lodge, was in the office of the Sheriff of Hamilton County when an all points bulletin came in over the radio describing a specific car – and that the driver was probably drunk.   Tom pulled out a $100 and laid it on the counter – to bet that the driver was not drunk.  Everyone laughed….how could he be so sure?    Because he knew it was my car, and “Chief Chuck does not get drunk!”  Tom was right…my car…not drunk. Long story…I was a good guy).

Tower of Babel: Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord

The people who worked at building The Tower of Babel did so “to make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”   (Genesis 11:4)


What was the name of the people of Babel?  The Bible does not tell us. 

What happened to the people? “the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth” (Genesis 11:8)


The people who worked at building The Tower must have known success or they would not have thought they could build a huge tower.   They probably had a great work ethic, considerable vision, and sufficient materials with which to work.  Their problem was:

            Their Motive – to make a name for themselves

            Their Attitude – we can do it.


This is a great example of “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)


Contrast “Come, let us make a name for ourselves” with …the Lord said to Abraham “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; There are only 27 verses between these quotations.


We must remember to “humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6)  How much better it is to humble ourselves and to know that God will lift us up, will care for us – than it is to be proud and to be humbled by God.


It is easy for us Christians to become like the people who built the towel of Babel – and to think/say….I can do it!   The more “success” we have doing what God desires us to do, the easier it is to deceive ourselves, to believe, at least subjectively, that we are the reason for “our success”.   Can we learn from the history of the nation of Israel…where enough people within the nation decided to do their own thing that the nation was humbled over and over again?  God told Moses “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.   Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock…the LORD said to Moses “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 20:)  Many years of faithful service – and a great humbling!

Can we learn from the obvious downfall of some of the leaders within the Christian community today?


How much better it is to keep the mindset of “ Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1 ) and of “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1)


With this mindset we can be content doing whatever we know the Lord would have us do, regardless of our situation.   Our egos are not to be involved with our decision making. 


Dr. McQuilken, who I referred to last week, was an excellent college President.   I cannot imagine that Dr. McQuilken was not an excellent caregiver – tough assignment though this must have been.  And I am confident that he did so with a wonderful attitude.


Let us “ do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). Humbly we can live In Partnership With Go d.

Adam – Noah: Decisions based upon desire

Adam was an unrighteous man: the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom. Adam's decision was based upon an immediate desire, not upon an ultimate desire to obey God's directive.


Noah was a righteous man: he built an ark and he did everything just as the Lord commanded him. Noah's ultimate desire was to obey God – knowing the work that would be required; ignoring what must have been the thinking of those around him.


Dr.  Robertson McQilken was the President of Columbia Bible College, and through the years I have heard nothing but praise for his leadership, respect for the quality of man that he is. Every indication is that Dr. McQilken was a righteous man – by choice.   While President his wife developed Alzheimer’s disease and she became terrified whenever she was not physically able to see her husband.


“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25).  To this point Dr. McQilken’s love for his wife was not in conflict with being a college President, from speaking throughout the world.    This changed.  Dr. McQilken had to make a choice…and he resigned his Presidency and stopped his travels so that, to the very best of his ability, he could remain in his wife’s field of vision until she died.  


Dr. McQilken lived In Partnership with God – as College President, and as Caregiver for his wife – knowing that this decision would consume his life for weeks, for months, for years to come.     


Unlike Dr. McQilkin, I had little to resign from, no real decision to make, when Sally Jo broke her right arm when she slipped and fell on our tile floor. She was in such pain that I had to call ambulance to take her to the hospital.   The x-ray showed a clean break about an inch below her shoulder, but it also showed that the bone had slid about 30% to one side. Surgery was possible, but this would require opening up the shoulder area – to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.   Due to the location of the break, the best treatment was to put her right arm into a sling and to be very careful!!!  Her arm and hand began to swell: the easy choice was made to have a ring cut off to maintain circulation to the finger.   No circulation, no finger!  Suddenly our world changed, big time!


I began doing almost everything with or for Sally Jo.  Try living with a wife who has a very painful arm, even while taking a narcotic pain killer.   My taking showers with my wife sounds romantic – until you realize that I am in the relatively small space of a shower – with a wife who is in pain, whose arm is out of it’s sling and is black and blue from shoulder to beyond her elbow. Out of the shower I gently dry her off, and then, very carefully, get her dressed into what has become a very limited wardrobe, and back into its sling. During the day I get her a drink, hand her a book, prepare and cut her food, and get her out of and re-settled/comfortable into a recliner – with ice on her arm that should be 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.   Night/sleep is in the recliner. At night the ice routine does not continue – unless the pain becomes intense.  Regardless of pain levels I must get up with Sally Jo at least once.


Dr. McQilken’s wife knew little of her physical condition, of the world around her. He cared for his wife for weeks, for months, for years.   Sally Jo is acutely aware of her physical condition, of the world around her. I will care for her for a few weeks.  Either way, the work of caring for a person you love is physically and emotionally draining.  


Both Adam and God knew what God required of them.  Adam disobeyed God.   Noah obeyed God.  


Our decisions must not be based upon our desires, or upon what we or the world deems most important, or upon convenience – but ONLY upon what is right before the Lord.
Disobeying God is never insignificant – it is never the right thing to do!