Take Advantage of the Opportunity #231

I have wanted to write this for several years! I write it from the context of 50 years in the ministry: 4 churches, 2 camps. I write this from the context of having no significant financial need at this time in my life

Ministerial compensation can be a sticky subject! I know this very well. Nevertheless….

When a church asks a minister to come and “supply preach”, they are asking a minister to come for about $6.50 an hour: $125 for about 20 hours of involvement. Time is required to arrange for the service, learn the format of the service, choose a sermon topic appropriate for the congregation and the season of the year, prepare the sermon, select Scripture passages and hymns, perhaps write out prayers and plan a children’s sermon. Arrival time needs to be about an hour before the service – and departure time is generally 30 to 45 minutes after the service. And then there is transportation time.

Interestingly the number of people in the worship service seldom has any impact upon the compensation given, and no attention is given to the fact that the minister may be a ministerial student, or a retired minister living on a very tight budget. It would be wonderful if congregations took the opportunity to say thank you for coming and leading us in worship – in a significant way. Is this necessary? No. Many ministers are thankful for the opportunity to preach God’s Word.

Funerals? No matter how much time is involved, my experience is that the funeral director gives the minister $100. This was my “thank you” for having visited a widow at least 100 times. Every time her son, living in another state, perceived that his mother was in need, I received a telephone call and then drove the 10 minutes to her home. The visits were never quick. The fact that the woman had 24 hour care was deemed insufficient. “Chuck would you please go over and check on what is happening with mom?” I was the woman’s friend, not the woman’s pastor. When she died, I was asked to do the funeral and the service of committal at the cemetery. $100.

Every funeral takes time. Often lots of time. Some are very difficult!!!

Weddings? This one is touchy for me to write about, but let me simply say that when a minister has two or three counseling sessions of two hours each, plus time to prepare what he will say, plus a rehearsal, plus a block of time for the wedding – remember this in context of the wedding budget. What may help the couple more? The time preparing for marriage with the minister, or the work of the photographer?

To close, a fun story. I was the minister for a DL wedding with a bare bones budget. A family member took the pictures, and the women of the small church “catered” the reception. It was a really fun experience for all of us. And my thank you? A gift certificate for Cabela’s. I think of the joy of that evening every time I put on my Cabela life jacket! The Deerfooter husband and I talk by phone regularly. He and his wife have an 18 month old son, and they just bought their first home.

“The worker deserves his wages.” Luke 10:7

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.

Sorry about missing IPWG # 222 and #224

Chief Ben Littauer, who transfers the IPWG to the blog, and son Dirk let me know that they had not received IPWG # 222 and # 224 in the IPWG series.

My guess is that I did not properly code them.

Chief Ron has IPWG set up in such a way that only I can send out the IPWG, and I do so with a code he has given me. This keeps you from receiving e-mails that are not IPWG.

My bad!

And let me say…it really is good to hear back from you when you have found the IPWG to be particularly helpful. Example: After this weeks “Deerfoot Friendships” I received an e-mail from a Deerfooter whose father has died in the last month..

His not, and others, help keep me working at this. Most IPWG take 6 – 8 hours to write – and get approved by Sally Jo. I probably have a list now of about 10 IPWG I would like to write – they just take time.

When Sally Jo and I leave the house/town for a week, I generally do not tell you. Our home has been robbed once – when the robbers knew we were at DL. It was a tough loss.

Two weeks we were in Nicaragua for a week.

Here is the letter we sent to those who had made contributions to cover the expenses of the trip. – this is not an IPWG so it is 2 pages!

====

November 2014

Dear Family and Friends

My brother, David, suggested that I type my letters – if I wanted people to be able to read them. I had just written him a letter he considered essentially unreadable! I type this only after writing three thank you notes containing the following…they were personal, but that is about all that could be said about them.

Once again Sally Jo led the team. She interviewed the applicants, communicated continually with Wayne and Megan who direct Centro Escolar, and kept our church congregation up to speed. She also led four session orientation programs, arranged the transportation, kept up with the forms and other paper work. She is the glue before, during and after the mission experience. While in Nicaragua, Sally Jo worked primarily with the Ruth on developing the music program.

Ruth, a retired Jr. High music teacher took with her 30 pr rhythm sticks, 2 sets of melody bells and 30 glockenspiels. The bells and glockenspiels had each tone in a different color – and the music she brought also had each note in a corresponding color. Each day she worked with four grade levels and two school staff members. On the last afternoon the students demonstrated to us what they had learned. Ruth played the keyboard and the children played the bells and glockenspiels… and we were all in tears. A huge step from four days before when the children knew nothing about music notes, rhythms, and the sound of playing together. Sally Jo and other team members worked closely with Ruth.

Frank, who uses microscopes daily, brought to these children, who knew nothing about magnification, a quality hand held magnifying glass, a microscope to use when looking at leaves, snails, bugs, and a microscope like students use today in college. He brought prepared slides, and what was necessary for the teachers to be able to make their own slides. The two microscopes had built in cameras so what was seen in the microscope was seen on a computer screen. Frank was exploding with joy at the response of the grade school students when they saw the wonders of God’s creation – in detail. One student brought in a tiny snail – like really small. While under the microscope, out came the head of the tiny animal.

The team brought the requested wood working tools – including a table saw that was disassembled to fit into two suitcases, a 48 lb thickness planer (all wood comes rough cut), belt sander, palm sander, a 2 ½ hp router and a 1 hp edge router…and clamps, wood vise, etc. Alan and Rick showed the maintenance man, Gerald, how to make quality shelf units – now possible with the new tools. I showed Gerald how to refinish a table top, using two grades of sanding belts, and then the palm sander. Gerald learns quickly and he sanded the remaining 4 himself – did really good work!

At the last minute we were asked to bring 18 matching, rebuilt, Dell school computers for the teachers to use in their class rooms to prepare lesson plans and record grades Already on the our mission team was Nicole who has a computer consulting business. Incredibly capable! When we left, every computer was ready for intended purpose.

Mary, with other members of the team, painted a 12 X 50 mural of Jesus with the children on the wall of an area where a church provides a hot lunch to about 125 neighborhood children every day. Several members of the church became involved with the project by moving the scaffolding while Sal, the professional painter on our team, remained on the top. When the mural was finished, church members helped Doug and other team members put paint on children’s hands so they could put their small hand prints on the wall.

Sal also painted in the medical clinic, which many of you made possible last year, and on which many of the team members had worked last year. When the clinic room had been painted, team members moved equipment and supplies into the room, and the clinic is ready to be used.

Terri and Nicole, with an excellent single lens reflex camera and video camera, took wonderful pictures of the school happenings. These pictures will be used by the school and in our churches.

Terri also worked with the music program, and played soccer and other ball games with the students. Terri is a marathon runner.

Carl again became a shade tree mechanic – literally. As cars and trucks were brought to him, he would make the requested repairs. Doug worked with Carl replacing two tail gates, which sounds easy…but the gates that arrived with the trucks were for a different year.

I had scanned children’s books so they could be projected onto a smart board – a first, and easy to do. I would read a page to a class, and then would point to the words as I read the page again with the students. If they had trouble with the pronunciation of a word, it was easy to repeat the word until the students were close to good pronunciation. The American English teacher ran the projector and we had a wonderful time together. I also told them a story which I made up – using three items they wanted in the story. Like a frog, and elephant and a little boy. Slowly I would talk, using simple words. Fun!!

I spent time with Wayne and Megan who together have developed this incredible school. Much of the time was listening. Life is difficult for those in leadership positions in a foreign country. I spoke through an interpreter for a church service, helped get the mural started, worked in the wood shop, and, like many of the other members of the team, helped wash dishes with the kitchen staff.

During our introduction to the slum around the school, Wayne showed us a ¾ acre of vacant property that abuts the wall of the school property. The school would like to develop a vocational school on the land. During our final meal Sally Jo told Wayne and Megan that out of the funds provided for our trip, the team could provide the down payment on the ¾ acre property. Wayne and Megan were blown away…and with reason.

So…know you were integral to all of the above. We all worked very hard and accomplished much. Thanks to you…and praise be to God!

Chuck and Sally Jo

Special to Me #226

On the wall of my office is the framed certificate I was given after my Lone Eagle Ceremony. Similar certificates are probably on 100 other walls.

Also framed is the bottom of a letter my father wrote to me one summer while I was at DL. “God bless you, Love, Dad. P.S. Can you imagine anyone being given an opportunity for a greater impact on lives than you are having right now!”

On my desk, showing its use, I have the Bible my girl friend gave me when I was in college: “To Chuck – Love in Him, Sally Jo. Ephesians 3:14 – 20.”

Which reads: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” — Ephesians 3:14-20

Also on my desk is the Bible I carried with me at Deerfoot Lodge when I prepared and gave each After Breakfast Bible Study, and to every Breaking of Bread service.

In the front of the notebook where I keep my copies of “In Partnership With God”, I have a page of 60 statements prepared as a gift for me by Tucker Lownes, DL Camper and Staff member: “What I have Had the Privilege to Observe and Learn from Chief Chuck, a man of 60 years”

And yes, there are pictures, and cards chosen for me by my family over many years, most of which contain notes.

We celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What can you give a person special to you that will cost you little money, but much thoughtfulness?

The new tool or toy or shirt or…..will wear out, will be forgotten.

Who would be greatly encouraged by receiving from you, a confirmation of your appreciation, of your love?