Which Is More Important? #195

Which is more important?  To have a Director of Food Service/Chef who provides excellent food, meal after meal, or a man who builds godly young men?

This is not a theoretical question!  Twice Deerfooters who became Directors of Christian camps have asked how I feel about their keeping maintenance men who know the facility but not Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

At Deerfoot Lodge every staff member has two jobs.  One is doing the work of his job description. The other?  Building godly young men.  The excellence of the how the Camp Director leads the camp and the consistency of his Christian living should encourage the Facility Manager to improve the quality of his work and the excellence of his Christian living, which should encourage these things in those who work for him.

Setting our hearts and minds to being godly men may greatly reduce our sinfulness, but we will continue to sin.  This being true, part of living the Christian life is acknowledging our sin before God, and before the people we have wronged.

One summer I decided campers and staff might find life easier if there was less caffeine available, particularly in the form of Coca-Cola.  This decision turned out to be much harder on the staff than on the campers.  Wazi and others questioned the wisdom of my decision, but, chain-of-command – they would live with my decision.

Shortly thereafter Wazican asked if he could have a few minutes with me.  I could tell he was upset about something.  When we were alone he told me he had been hiding Cokes in the walk-in cooler.  He knew this was wrong, said he would get rid of the Cokes immediately, and asked my forgiveness.

The kitchen staff knew Wazican was hiding the Cokes in the cooler.  They learned how Wazican came to me and admitted his deception.  Wazican was God’s man – and his words and his actions spoke the same truth.  One evening each week, after the dishes, pots, and the kitchen were cleaned, the kitchen staff would get together around the fire-pit at Wazican’s cabin.  It was easy for Wazican to move from daily living to Christian living, as for the Christian, these are the same.  The kitchen staff experienced Christian community at the kitchen level, and they experienced the larger Christian community which is Deerfoot Lodge.  Community encourages our right relationship with God and men.

(My decision did not seem to produce any good results!    Bad Idea!    Coca Cola came back!)

Wazican has probably forgotten the Cokes in the cooler. I have not, for his example of integrity has challenged me to be a man of integrity – many times.

My guess is that we have forgotten the many times we have done what is right.  How we work and live does affect others.

A few weeks ago I was on the playground at our grandson’s school.  As we walked across the grass playing field he found a pencil, picked it up and ran with it to the leader of the after-school program.

Which is more important?  Our job description work or our building godly young men?  Both are essential!

How we do our work is obvious.  May how we live our lives be only the tip of the iceberg of how we live In Partnership With God.

Wazican – Servant of Jesus Christ #194

I called Dean Dover/Wazican to double check the correct meaning of Wazican – his chosen Lone Eagle name.  Wazican means Great Northern White Pine.  Dean said: “I chose Wazican because I would like to be as a Great Northern White Pine. I desire to stand straight and tall for the Lord Jesus Christ, and to shelter and care for others – being a Christian, not just on Sundays, but 365 days a year.”

Deerfoot Lodge is known for its great food!  96% of the campers indicate this on their camper questionnaires.   For years the man behind the consistently excellent camp meals was Wazican. Wazican knew how to encourage his staff of 11, order the food, prepare about 144,000 excellent meals each summer, while staying under his food budget.  Every time we went to the dining hall we expected, and were served, great food.

The reason Wazican worked so hard to prepare the quality meals was not for personal recognition.  It was to help Deerfoot Lodge be a place where campers and staff wanted to come to be taught how to be godly young men – and be encouraged to continue to be God’s men, long after they left Deerfoot Lodge.

Wazican’s top priority, his real joy, was building godly young men – inside of and outside of the kitchen.  Wazican worked at being God’s man – at doing what was right before the Lord – every time.

It was the Sunday morning after Session IV.  The campers had left, and the staff had come together for our last Breaking of Bread service of the summer.  To my knowledge every person present had received God’s free gift of salvation.  Every person there had been seeking to live a godly life, and through this, had encouraged others to be godly people.  We had prayed that God would use us for His glory.  And He had!  It was an incredible summer.

We were together to celebrate the reality that Jesus Christ had died on a cross, had given Himself as a sacrifice for our sin.  With grateful hearts we sang hymns, read Bible verses, and many shared how our lives had been changed through the work of the Holy Spirit during our summer together.

When we came to the Lord’s Table, as we bowed our heads and hearts before the Lord, we became very aware of our sinfulness and God’s sinlessness.

Yes, the fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness) had been evident in our lives – but not consistently, and we knew it.  Galatians 5:22

Yes, we did focus of what was true, and noble, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, and excellent, and praiseworthy—but not consistently, and we knew it.  Philippians 4:8

It was in this context that Wazican prayed in full voice with deep emotion:  “Lord, teach us to hate our sin!”

To this day I will pray: “Lord, teach me to hate my sin!”

After years of being a Food Service Director/Chef, Wazican is now responsible for the care of the international students who attend Houghton Academy.  When they arrive at the Academy, most do not understand what Jesus Christ has done for them through His death and resurrection.  The way Wazican earns his living has changed, but his deep desire has not changed.

Wazican seeks to live In Partnership With God.  For those who know him, this is evident.

In Memory of… Bill Gardner #193

On page 3 of the spring 2013 Deerfoot Tracks: “Contributions have been received in memory of …   Bill Gardner.”

Bill was a DL camper, and then a Woodsman counselor for the summers of 1986, 1987, 1988.

In the staff lounge is a bound, 365 page volume of the selected verses with brief commentary for each day of the year – with Bill’s written responses – including through staff training and summer camp. This discipline and what he wrote give insight into Bill’s thinking, into the desires of his heart.  We learned he did this from his parents, after he died.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree (pray only to King Darius for 30 days) had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.  Daniel 6:10

Bill had a congenital hip problem – he walked with a limp, and was frequently in pain – though this pain was never obvious, and he only spoke of it in response to specific questions about his hip or pain level.  He was a Woodsmen counselor who played the games aggressively – so much so that I had to ask him to turn down his intensity a bit.  Every week of summer camp he led Woodsmen canoe trips and sometimes hikes.

Bill was head of Wildlife and on a dark night of each session, after taps, Bill would meet a significant number of campers and staff to teach them about what they were seeing in the night sky.  From the Lookout, Sally Jo and I could hear Bill teaching about the constellations…and so much more!

I have in my head a picture of Bill taken during one of his many skits on banquet night.  100% involvement.

The illustrations Bill used in his cabin devotions were often talked about by his campers and others.  He communicated God’s truths in memorable ways.

Bill married Heidi, who worked one summer on staff, and he became a school teacher.  Soon thereafter, on his way to the school where he taught, Bill was killed in a car accident.   Those who knew him were stunned!!!  Contributions continue to be made to the camper scholarship fund established in Bill’s name by his family.

What will be remembered about me…and you?

That we spent time alone with the Lord every day – reading the Bible, thinking through the passage and recording our thoughts?

That, in spite of our physical limitations, and perhaps pain, we pushed the edges of our limitations, bringing encouragement to those who knew us?

That we shared our knowledge in a way that brought understanding to those who wanted to learn from us?

That we communicated God’s truths with a thankful heart, a joyful spirit?

I know Bill Gardner lived In Partnership With God!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. II Timothy 4:7-8