Speculate or Integrate? #57

While at Christ Church of Oak Brook, Sally Jo and I started a family camp. Our group consisted of families with children plus a retired couple, Maury and Fran Hull. There was a core of about 10 families who came each summer. We arrived at Honey Rock Camp when their summer program was over, the camp staff and college professors had left. Essential food service and maintenance people stayed on. Honey Rock, an educational facility of Wheaton College, has camper cabins, rental cabins, and cabins used by the faculty members. This facility was made available to us as both Sally Jo and I knew the camp leadership and facility well.

Two or three high school or college students went with us each summer. The also knew Honey Rock, and they knew some of the families from church. During the day they helped with camp activities, and each evening they would be the children’s sitters so the adults could study a book together.

As plans were made for the third year, we asked for suggestions for the book to study. Many had either read or heard about The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, a popular book in some Christian circles at the time. The content of the book extensively explained how, from the author’s perspective, the Biblical prophecies were in place indicating that Christ’s return was imminent. We could not imagine spending a week studying the book, and suggested a couple other books – but no, most wanted to discuss The Late Great Planet Earth. We ordered copies for the adults, knowing this crew would read the book before they arrived at camp.

Sally Jo and I had read the book and were ready to lead the discussion. First question: “What is the theme of this book?” All agreed – the theme was that Jesus Christ was going to return, probably very soon. The second question: “What does this suggest about how we should be living our lives?” All agreed – we should live our lives in such a way that we are ready when Christ returns. Third question: “Is there anything else the author is seeking to tell us?” After some discussion, there was consensus that this was the only message of the book. Fourth question: “How will further discussion of the book affect the living of our lives?” In about a half hour our consideration of the book’s content was over.

Sally Jo and I had anticipated this short discussion of the book and had brought with us copies of The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer, a small paperback focused on the implications of John 13:35:

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.

In the previous verse Jesus gave this command: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Jesus Christ is not just our Savior, but our role model.

Loving each other is easy in theory, difficult in practice, particularly when the people involved know each other. These families knew each other in the context of family camp, in the context of the church, and in the context of their communities.

Discussing when Jesus Christ is going to return is non-threatening. Talking about how Jesus Christ demonstrated His love historically, and to us…and seeking to integrate these truths into our daily living – This is tough!

Yet this is how we are called to live when we live In Partnership With God.

Maury Hull – He Captured the Details! #56

I do not remember having met Maury before he gave me the print of a brightly colored mushroom: “I thought you might enjoy this”. When asked, he told me he had taken the picture, and other close-ups of God’s creation.

As we talked, I learned that soon after Maury retired he had become very sick. I do not remember what he had, but people thought he would die – and he hoped he would!

When Maury realized he was going to live, he also realized that he had no hobby, or anything he really wanted to do. Maury decided to take up nature photography. As I recall, he even learned to develop his own film and to make his own color prints. Soon I was seeing close-ups of a grasshopper, water droplets on a spider web, a robin pulling a worm out of the ground, and a flower from when the bud pushed up through the ground to when it was in full bloom, translucent in bright sunshine. Each was an 8X10 and just fascinating. Here was a man with an incredible talent known and enjoyed by very few people.

The walls of the new Christ Church of Oak Brook building were totally bare. After I received the appropriate permission, I invited Maury to put up some of his prints. He was delighted and said this would be his gift to the church. Maury’s wife, Fran, had been a public school art teacher, and together they took over the project. Soon beautifully mounted color prints which showed the wonder of God’s creation began to appear throughout the building. Each was hung low enough so children could easily see them.

People began gathering around the pictures which were placed down the halls, and eventually, into the class rooms. God’s unique creation had suddenly become alive to our people – and quiet Maury became something of a celebrity. Children and adults alike wanted to know how he had been able to take such incredible pictures, and he would gladly tell them. Occasionally Maury and Fran would replace one picture with another. The interest and fascination of the church members continued.

When we planned our first one week family camp, we encouraged Maury and Fran to come – though they were twice the age of most of the adults in the group. What a special presence they were. Because of the interest Maury’s pictures had created, we found ourselves looking at God’s creation in new ways, often on our hands and knees. If a person saw something special, like a jack-in-the pulpit almost hidden in the woods, Maury would take a picture while fascinated people watched. Fran, forever the art teacher, had planned simple art projects that children of different ages could enjoy creating. We still have rocks painted by our children – with Fran’s gentle guidance.

Sometime after family camp Maury called Sally Jo. He had a Luna moth just about to come out of its cocoon. Would she like to bring our children over to watch this happen? After a few quick phone calls, several moms with their young children gathered around the Hull’s dining room table, mesmerized by what they were seeing.

When we live In Partnership With God we have both the privilege and the responsibility of creating an environment through which people can share their God given gifts and abilities. Often God’s people would like to share these gifts and abilities, but they need an open door, a little encouragement.

Maury and Fran changed how I look at God’s creation, and for this I am thankful!!!

“In the beginning God created…and God saw that it was good” — Genesis 1

Note from Chief Chuck

Good Morning –

For the last 3 weeks I have written the IPWG by Saturday night – trying not to “work” on Sunday! Each takes from 4 to 8 hours.

This past week has been wonderful – but I am behind! I will take the week off – even though Greg Welsh just commended me for being so faithful in writing IPWG every week. I have listed 22 that I anticipate writing about our 3 yr at Christ Church of Oak Brook.

Here is an update on us –

Our church choir sang 3 choral arrangements at the Maundy Thursday service, 5 at the Good Friday service, and 7 this morning at both the 8:00 and 10:30 services. Singing the 1st tenor part of the Halleluiah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah – at 8:00 AM to begin the worship service – and then again at 10:30 was a fun challenge!

Saturday was grandson Corban Charles birthday party…and helping Sally Jo prepare a gourmet feast for Easter dinner with son Dirk, wife Jennifer, and their 3 sons – who are now with us in Greenville for a few days – Dirk is a leader for a mission trip of 52 high school students this week – Washington DC.

I am in the process of putting new cherry gunwales on an old canoe – very tough as the bow and stern have a very steep curve up. I could not buy clear cherry 18′ long – so will glue 2 pieces together with 5″ scarf joint. I picked out board – have cut and prepared gunwales – – even after soaking on for 10 hours, steaming for 2 1/4 hours and using a heat gun I have broken one! Fortunately I cut two extra pieces.

This Friday I will be meeting for the second time with the staff of the Albany Chapter of the Salvation Army that head up their red kettle program – bell ringers over the Christmas holidays. There were 7 at our first meeting – all but the Chapter Director were new to the program. This past Christmas the program took in $112,000 even though it was very poorly run – and they knew it. We are working together now to be ready by September for the four week program which begins after Thanksgiving.

I am bike riding with Sally Jo to help her be ready for a guided 8 day bike trip with her sister in the Czech Republic in June. Her sister challenged Sally Jo to be ready for the trip while she was still in the hospital bed recovering from her broken back. She is working very hard to be ready!

We were with daughter Carla/Sea for two weeks in February in Vieques, PR – then I came home and she stayed on for another week with a friend from our Connecticut church 1966-70. At the end of April Dirk and Jennifer will go to Vieques for a week. Sally Jo and I are taking care of their 3 boys.

Daughter Jenna, husband Jess and their 3 girls are flying in from Washington State to be with us for 2 weeks in July – will have time with Dirk, Jenna, and their families all together.

Life is rich with opportunity – truly our hearts often over-flow with thanksgiving.

Thanks for your notes in response to the IPWG – 5 this last week. Just a few words are good to see – a good reminder that these are being read.

As the Apostle Paul wrote – I thank my God every time I remember you! In all my prayers for you I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. — Phil 1:3-6

chief chuck

Phil: Limited Ability, Unlimited Desire #55

Phil Beitler has had an incredible impact upon my life. He was member of The Career Group and it was obvious he had limited mental abilities and social skills. Phil loved everyone – and we all loved him. Phil was healthy and very strong! When Phil was young his parents were told that Phil would never be able to go to school. His parents patiently worked with Phil – and he finished high s chool. Phil learned to be a hard worker, and he would do whatever he was asked to the very best of his ability. He had good self-confidence and a healthy self image.

After we had known each other a few months, he said to me “Chuck, there must be more that I can do for the Lord than stack cans in a grocery store!” I assured him there was – and that I would find him a place where he could work hard to serve the Lord. I found him a position packing boxes for The Medical Assistance Program – MAP. They received medicines and medical supplies directly from pharmaceutical companies and doctors which they repacked and shipped to needy situations all over the world. Their headquarters were located in Wheaton, IL, about 25 minutes from Phil’s home. Each Sunday evening, when The Career Group would meet, Phil would tell me what he was packing, where it was going, and how much he liked his job! I checked at MAP to see how he was doing. Response: I wish we had a lot of Phil Beitlers here.

I told Phil he was my “Nehemiah” because there was always a smile, really a big grin, on his face. He loved that I called him “Nehemiah!”

When I would be in Wheaton, either to visit family or keep in touch with DL staff, for the next 30 years, I would be sure to block time for Phil. When his parents moved away from the area, Phil got an apartment close to MAP so he could walk to work. His reputation was such that when MAP moved to be at a sea port in Georgia, Tyndale Publishing, located a block from MAP, asked Phil if he would like to work for them. Again, his heart for the Lord and his work ethic were incredible. When he became seriously ill, fellow employees got him the help he needed and took care of him.

Seven years after I left CCOB I became Director of Deerfoot Lodge in NY. Phil asked if he could come and help for a week. On his first visit, Phil came to help us open camp for the season, and for the beginning of staff training. I asked him if he would mow the playing field. He told me he thought he could do that. This was black fly season and Phil, like the rest of us, got his share of bites. After a couple of hours he walked into the kitchen and the head cook, Dean Dover/Wazican saw the fly bites…and through Phil’s socks, his bleeding feet. Phil laughed and said he was fine – it didn’t hurt much! Wazi asked why he did not stop, when he started getting blisters, to get some band aids. Phil’s simple answer was “I wasn’t done yet”. Later we learned he had mowed the lawn in two directions – because this was the way his dad taught him to do it.

Wazi said that Phil Beitler probably had a greater impact upon his life than any man other than his own father. As Wazi put it: “Here is a one talent man who pushes his one talent to the limit! Some of us are 3, 4, 5 talent people – and we waste so much of what the Lord has given us”.

Whether we are a one talent or a five talent person, we are called to live In Partnership With God.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” Luke 12:48