Your Christmas Gift…In Partnership With God #230

“Ever since my first year at DL (when I gave my life to Christ) this has been a very special place to me.”

The following came to mind in the context of this quote from a note to me when we retired from DL.

At DL, the actual time spent in the verbal expression of the nature of God and the Christian faith/life is a small proportion of five days: Quiet time of 15 minutes before breakfast, 10 minutes of singing and 12 minutes of After Breakfast Bible Study, and perhaps 15 minutes for cabin devotionals. Less than 1 hour out of 16.

A key reason Deerfoot Lodge has such a huge impact upon the lives of campers and staff is that during the other 15 hours of the day the staff seeks to live lives that are pleasing to God.

The greatest gift you can give those around you is to live your life pleasing to God; to work at doing what is right every time! This includes being honest every time.

Keep this in mind when dealing with everyone you meet. Everyone. Those you live with, ride with, work with, play with, those you work for, and those who work for you, those with a need, your teachers or students, those you do business with, those on your church staff.

As you seek to do what is right, please remember that God knows we cannot be sinless. This is why Christ came to earth! “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives.´ I John 1:8-10

Back to your Christmas present. When we live lives pleasing to God – lives where we work at doing what is right every time – those around us will benefit (“love your neighbor”) and we will benefit (“as yourself”) and God will be pleased and lifted up! When we live self-centered, selfish lives, our lives that do not show love or the fruit of The Spirit, and those around us are hurt – and we are hurt.

Christmas Gift? Focus on living the way Jesus Christ lived – including forgiving 70 X 7.

When you do – you will be loving your neighbor (your closest neighbor is your family)….and yourself.

When you do – you will be living In Partnership With God…and this will encourage others who have given their lives to Christ.

If you wonder how God would have you live, begin with reading your Bible – and work at doing what it says in the context of this period of history. Read I Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians 5:22.

“Have Fun With The Lord” #229

When I retired as the Director of Deerfoot Lodge, a Pioneer (ages 12-13) began his note: “Thank you, Chief Chuck…..You have made me realize how much fun you can have with the Lord and that you can be free to have fun… Thank you very much. Your camper and friend…”

Looking back, I think I grew up with the mental image of a God who seldom smiled, much less laughed.

If Jesus wept when he learned that Lazarus had died, is it unreasonable to think that Jesus also got excited with the people who saw Jesus bring Lazarus back to life? Was Jesus emotionless when he fed the 5,000, or watched the faces of parents when their child was healed, or raised from the dead?

It really is fun to live In Partnership With God. It is a very freeing experience!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18

What does it say to a child, to any of us, to be told: “Remember, God knows what you are doing!!!”

Yes, I do have thoughts/desires/fears that are not of God, and so I ask His forgiveness and then I work to turn from them. When I do, I am not focusing on the wrath of God, but rather on the wonder of His love for me, His forgiveness. I know that what God desires for me is best for me.

King David wrote: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise”. Psalm 111:10 Notice how King David moves from fear to praise which endures for ever!

Over and over again the “fear not” message comes from God to us: “Fear not, Zacharias: thy wife Elisabeth shall bear a son, John”. “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.” The angels said to the shepherds: “Fear not: for I bring you good tidings of great joy…”

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the lake, they were terrified. Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

And so Deerfoot campers bang it out: “Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power and love, Our God is an awesome God!

Our Stories of God’s Faithfulness #228

In April, 2010, when I began to write the In Partnership With God, I wrote of the many times Sally Jo and I have experienced God’s faithfulness, stories that through the years I shared with the campers and staff during the After Breakfast Bible Studies. Multi-summer Deerfooter’s used to laugh with me…. “Chief, I’ve heard that one before!” And they had… and they really did not care. They liked to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness in our lives over and over again.

We tell the Christmas story year after year – and we like it! God’s coming to earth – incredible reality…and so we have the Christmas pageant….Mary, Mary and Joseph, the star, the wise men….yes, the children are so much fun… it is all part of Christmas.

In addition to growing up hearing the Christmas story, many of us we grew up with the stores of Noah and the Ark, the Burning Bush, David and Goliath…true stories. We were told the stories, read books that told the stories….over and over again. As adults we like to be reminded of God’s faithfulness through the years.

This past Friday night our 3 grandsons, ages 14, 11, and 7, were with us – a semi-regular occurrence. And every night we tell them a “bed time story”. The stories may be from a book they have chosen, sometimes of our childhood, their parents, even their own stories. It does not matter that they have chosen the book before, or heard the story before…

A couple weeks ago I realized that I have told our stories, our experiences of God’s faithfulness to Deerfooters – but never to our grandchildren. Stories of God’s provision of Sally Jo to be my wife, of the church in Bakerville, the food for money, for the piano, for the house in Texas, of my getting fired in Texas, our coming to DL, our new house in Greenville – the list could go on and on.

When I asked our grand children if they would like to hear about when God did miracles for us, the obvious answer: “Yes!” I then told them three stories of God’s provision, yes, miracles, from our years in Bakerville: 1966-1970. The children were fascinated…and wanted to hear more, which they will every night they spend in our home.

Unbelievable oversight on my part!

I encourage you this Christmas season, along with the re-telling of the Christmas story, tell your own miracle stories to your children (some of whom may be married) and grand children…and for a few of you, to your great grand children.

Let’s tell them about when this awesome God did something for us – for us personally. It may be the story of the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, of His provision of something physical, or of His protection, or of His peace.

Perhaps our children would like to tell us about when God was “awesome” to them!

Our God still is an awesome God.

Encourage! #227

During my last summer at Deerfoot many campers and staff members wrote notes to me in specially prepared notebooks. Certain themes were found in the notes, regardless of the age of the author. One of these: encouragement.

Thanks for “giving me encouragement when I needed it”. “You encouraged me when you trusted me.” “your words of encouragement and guidance”. “Your staff meetings were encouraging and challenging”. “Thanks for being so supportive of me when”. “Thank you for spending the time to walk with me and to listen to me”. “Thank you for spending time to share with me…” “thanks for all the time you”

I had the privilege of helping those seeking their master’s in canoeing with their canoeing strokes. Over and over again notes included words of appreciation for this time with me. They appreciated this time because I was focused on them – just them. I pushed the campers and staff to perfection, and if a person I was working with had trouble with a particular stroke, I changed places with them so they could see how the stroke should be done. And yes, there were times when I had trouble with the stroke they were struggling with. I remember demonstrating the reverse J, when a gust of wind caught me off guard….and over I went! We all laughed!! Very seldom did a person pass his Master’s canoe strokes on the first or second time. My challenge was always to encourage, to inspire. The camper or staff member knew I cared about them – that I wanted them to get it right…and that they could…and eventually they did!

The W. Clement Stone Foundation demonstrated that it took two affirmations to overcome one negative/critical statement in the building of a healthy self image. DL does a wonderful job of giving to camper’s positive reinforcement. Most of us seek to do our best…and always fall a little short. At DL, the focus was on…”you are doing it” “it’s coming” “YES” – or in DL lingo: “BOSS!!!” Seldom does criticism inspire greatness.

Almost every camper leaves Deerfoot Lodge on a self-confidence high. “This was awesome!” “See you next year!!!”

I worked hard at helping each staff member experience the best summer of their life while at DL. The Section Chiefs, my assistant and I had the challenge of keeping every staff member in the situation where they would succeed – but where they would really have to work to do it: to keep staff members in their stretch zone, not their comfort or panic zone. When a staff member did well in a situation to the place of “being comfortable”, the staff member was moved to a different responsibility. If a staff member did not do well in one area, the challenge was to move them into an area where they could do well. Perhaps a counselor would do better as the assistant to a section chief, or on the maintenance or kitchen staff, or to head up the craft shop – anything but send him home defeated! If a person was working at DL…and not doing well, it was my fault! I hired him. I placed him in his position. I was ultimately responsible for his development. Each staff member needed to feel they had enjoyed a wonderful, successful summer at DL. An easy summer? I hoped not! Leave encouraged? I sure hoped so!

All of us who read this do so from the perspective of being a spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, friend, employee or employer, church member or pastor. What can we do to encourage those around us? It will take thoughtfulness to bring encouragement which is genuine and appropriate and will be well received. Being an encourager requires developing the mindset – and the self-discipline. It is easy to be critical of almost anything! No practice required!

When we live In Partnership With God, we bring good news – and good news is much more than God’s plan of salvation. It is the assurance that when God made each of us, He made us in His image. Yes, sin messes us up…but God desires to help us become like Himself.