Describe your present personal Bible reading… devotional habit #207

“Describe your present personal Bible reading/devotional habit”

This question is on the Guide and Staff applications, and is asked of every person being considered for membership in the Lone Eagle Fellowship and the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors. Most answer that they read the Bible on a regular basis, perhaps 5 or 6 times a week.

Because the Bible is the foundation for our understanding of salvation and Christian living, DL considers the pattern of daily devotions very important to develop. At 8:00 AM, after cabins have been cleaned, each Section Chief hollers “quiet time”. Campers and staff then read their Bible and pray for 15 minutes. Woodsmen counselors provide extra assistance to those with limited ability. Sometimes a children’s Bible or a paraphrase edition like the New Living Bible is provided. Often a counselor has read the Bible to one or more campers. The long term objective is to have every camper develop the pattern of daily devotions, a pattern they continue when they are at home.

Often we learned that it was during the junior high school years that this pattern of regular Bible reading settles in. I know that this is when I got serious about reading my Bible almost every night before I turned out my light.

I have walked by the maintenance building before the 7:00 AM staff meeting, and seen the facility staff reading their Bibles, each in a different location.

Staff can sign up to use The Quiet Place, a beautiful 10 X 12 log building with a screened porch and decks, located on a hill overlooking the lake. Its primary purpose? So individual staff members can have a place where they can spend a day with the Lord, a day to read, think, pray, write notes…and nap.

I continue to read/study the Bible. To do so, on a regular basis, continues to be a very difficult discipline to maintain. My habit of reading at the same time in the same place helps me to keep at it. When I find that I have not read for a day or two…or three, I pick up where I left off. When I read I freely mark my Bible – underlines, notes, etc. When I have worked through one translation or paraphrase, I put it aside and pick up another. Through comparing translations and paraphrases I am often able to get a clearer picture of what the writer was saying.

When I read the Bible I am reminded of God’s wisdom and faithfulness, and love – and this strongly encourages me to love Him, and my neighbor. Reading helps keep me from rationalizing my decisions.

Almost every Wednesday morning Bob Mullens, father of DL campers Dan and Mark, and I breakfast together before Bob begins his work day. Presently we are studying Ecclesiastes, which, for the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand – with assistance from author Dr. Phillip Ryken.

Your spouse and your children know you watch television. They probably see you reading the news paper, magazines, books, or checking your computer, iPad or smart phone. Do they see you reading your Bible? Do they know what you are reading? Does your family know when one of you questions the pastor’s use or interpretation of a particular passage of Scripture? Do you ever talk with your pastor about your difference in understanding? Chances are high he will be thrilled that you listen and care enough about what he says to talk with him about it!

May our knowledge and application of God’s word bring courage to our daily living, and a continued peace with God.

Living With My Sinfulness #206

Whereas I had not thought about my legacy, I have thought about destroying my reputation. When my dad was in his middle 70’s and we were praying together, he said “Lord, take me before I do something really stupid!” I am quite sure that all of us who knew him would agree: “He ran the only race worth running. He ran hard right to the finish, he believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge.” — II Timothy 4:7-8 The Message, adapted by me

I look at the lives of King David, King Solomon, Judas, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, some pastors… all sinned, big time. Sinfulness surrounds me: sex/ pornography, love of money, ego, lying, deceit. I see people I think are solid in the Lord… and then… slowly… they seem to stop. These were not young men! They all knew better! And when they sinned, the ripple effect was huge, on their families and others who knew them or knew about them.

I Corinthians 10:13 confirms what the news media tells me. Every human being, including Adam and Eve, are tempted to disobey God. Satan is alive and well, and effectively deceives us into sinning. But, if I finish the verse, I realize that if I sin, it is my own fault! The verse continues: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

If Chief Chuck has an affair, gets a divorce, gets caught stealing, or lying, or being deceitful – if Chief Chuck becomes an alcoholic or uses drugs, and this becomes known, the sadness, disillusionment for my family, Deerfoot campers and their families would be huge. Particularly because I frequently said at DL, live your life so it can appear on the front page of a newspaper.

The sins mentioned above are unacceptable to the Christian, and to some degree, the non-Christian world. Do them and the ripple effect is huge. But there is another group of sins that are tolerated by us Christians…because “we all do them.”, but this does not change the fact that they are sin. We can commit many of these sins in our minds – and no one else knows. These sins negatively affect our relationships with other people, and, apart from Jesus Christ, build a barrier between us and God.

I know that frequently I do not live the fruit of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

I know that I do not consistently demonstrate 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.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Yes, I live with my sinfulness. I have chosen not to ignore these sins in my own life – I want to change. But old patterns are hard to change!

Fortunately Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

On the basis of what I have experienced, I must celebrate the reality of God. I find it incredible that God continues to use me for His glory.

I serve a risen Savior!

Chief, what is your greatest legacy? #205

Each year, after retiring from Deerfoot, Chief Ron has asked me to spend an evening with the staff. In addition to a specific assignment, Chief Ron asks me to tell something of DL history, and have a time for questions. These questions are written on small pieces of paper which are folded and given to me. No one knows who wrote any question. Give 60 college students that opportunity… no subject is out of bounds!!!

When I unfolded the square that said, “Chief, what do you consider your greatest legacy?” for a moment I was speechless. I had never thought about my legacy. Never. My mind began to race!!!

What came to mind was that I desired my legacy to be that I have worked at living a life pleasing to the Lord, doing whatever I believed God would have me do. I went on to point out that each of us should have this legacy.

Since that evening I have thought about “my legacy” — and the fact that each of us has one.

After leaving Sky Ranch in Texas, Sally Jo and I decided our focus was to be on the development of people, not on the development of facility. I had just spent 7 years raising money and developing a facility and program that required hiring and managing the core staff of what became 9 people. My time was not focused on building godly people.

Deerfoot’s emphasis since its beginning has been “building godly young men in a Christ-centered community through wilderness camping.” I knew this to be a fact. My father was one of those young men in 1931-32.

I was hired to focus my time and energy on building godly young men. My selection criteria for staff began with their desire to be godly young men and to build godly young men. One way to check on a person’s desire to be God’s man was to check his knowledge of the Bible. Another was to talk with people who knew them on their college campus. Did their life evidence a desire to be God’s man? Camping skills, counseling skills, first aid skills could be developed during staff training and throughout the summer.

Quite frankly, I was looking to hire young men who, in this core area of their life, thought as I did. Beyond this – incredible variety was wonderful – for DL, necessary! About 85% of the summer staff had previous DL experience. DL campers become staff members. Eight to ten summers at DL is not unusual. Building godly men takes time.

In the area of facility development and maintenance, Brent Karner, a furniture maker, and when he resigned, Ken Hoffman, a garbage man, were hired. Both Brent and Ken became Chairman of their respective public school boards. These two men have impacted hundreds of lives at DL and in their home towns. Godly young men — not so young now.

Facility development and maintenance were viewed as an opportunity to build godly men. “Outside” contractors were no longer hired as this work could be done on work weekends — which were seen to be an excellent way to build godly men. These weekends have become a spiritually challenging, growing experience. The number of those coming has grown from about 10 per weekend to over 100. Some of the men have participated in 40 or more of the weekends. Do they do good work? Check out the care of the old DL buildings, the quality of the new log buildings. But maintaining and building is not the key value of the work weekends. It is the building of godly men!

My legacy? I want it to be that I have worked at being God’s man, at doing what He has had for me to do. I want my legacy to be that I have worked, In Partnership With God, at building godly, capable people.

There is a time for everything #204

From the age of 24 until I retired as Director of Deerfoot at the age of 65, I enjoyed the fact that God kept me in very challenging situations. When entering seminary, I had no clue how God would use me in His service. I did know this: I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. — Ephesians 2:10

At the age of 24, as a Yankee in Georgia, I was elected by the seminary student body to head the annual mission’s conference for the high school age young people of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Working with two incredible classmates, the mission’s conference was integrated. The year? 1964. The Selma march was March 1965. The voting rights act was in 1965. God put me in that situation, and we worked In Partnership With God. If God had not been with us, we could have been killed – like for real!!

My last major challenge was Deerfoot Lodge. Between 1982 and 2004, when I retired, camper attendance went from 48 to 160 per session. Contributions from $13,000 to over $300,000 per year. God put me at DL with a job to do. I worked In Partnership With God. Deerfoot Lodge was, and is, God’s place!

I am no longer responsible for any ministry. It is one thing to intellectually know this, but it is quite another to adjust my mindset to “It’s not my job.” I am frequently asked my opinion – but I have no authority. None. It can be very difficult to be in this situation, particularly when seeing great opportunities, or the potential for real problems.

This morning I preached at the Onesquathaw Reformed Church, as I often do when the pastor is unable to do so. I know many of the members, hug some very wonderful people. I have no authority. I do my “job,” and leave.

This is the season of life I am in. Reality. Not a bad reality if I accept it, but it can be hard to accept.

Solomon, thought to be the author of Ecclesiastes, wrote: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” — Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Solomon outlined the realities of life.

Solomon reminds us that we “cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.” — Ecclesiastes 11:5. Because we cannot understand the work of God, it is the more important to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6. I may no longer serve in leadership roles, but God does, and He fills each day with good opportunities, with challenges old and new. My “to do list” just gets longer and longer!

When in school we think “I am too busy.” When beginning a new job: “I am too busy.” Parents of infants and young children and teenagers: too busy. In retirement we think “I am too busy.” Perhaps not! Is God directing our paths?

Regardless of the season, let us live in the “now,” In Partnership With God. Remember God’s words to Joshua which echo off the Dug Mountains during every candle light service: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee wherever you go!” — Joshua 1:9.

Beginning IPWG Again

Friends… and others who read IPWG,

Several have encouraged me to get back to writing the In Partnership With God Monday morning e-mail.

The following IPWG #204 relates to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. “There is a time for everything.” In July I realized that writing IPWG from ME, MA, NJ, PA, NYC, Nicaragua, NC plus having people in our home for 5 weeks, etc was a pressure I did not need. My time for everything in this case, was for a break.

Sally Jo and I are fine… healthy, etc.

The IPWG that I plan to write will sometimes have a broader context, sometimes go back to experiences from many years ago. I will share a bit more of what is in my heart on some subjects.

It is good to be writing again.

May what I write be pleasing to God, an encouragement to you.