Thursday, August 20, 2009

Log Cabin getting taller

Growing up as a kid in Southeast Iowa I spent a number of summers at Golden Valley Camp & Retreat Center. One of the things over the years that has come to define that site for me is the hand built log cabin which was on grounds. It is beautiful craftsmanship and there were a number of very dedicated volunteers which had a part in the original construction.

As the conference decided to close and sell Golden Valley that transition emotionally has been difficult for me. I have a lot of great memories from camp there. As I prayed through the situation I felt called to try and preserve a part of the history of that beautiful site. So I requested permission from the Board of Camp & Retreat ministries to move the log cabin here to Wesley Woods. We were given permission and in July sent a team of 7 to disassemble the cabin and move it here to Wesley Woods for reassembly.

They were able in three days to disassemble the cabin, unfortunately out of the original construction all were able to save were the logs themselves. The orginal cut 2 X6's and such were in fairly tough condition. Thanks to Ron Hoy and Chris Hoy from Bussey for assisting the transport of the logs to Wesley Woods. They brought a large trailer down and we were able to get all the logs moved to Wesley Woods.

We have been working very hard on the cabin the last two weeks and it is looking fantastic. Right now all the wall logs are on and we are working on planning out the roof. We are currently raising funds to help support the material cost or putting the roof on. If someone would like to make a donation they can feel free to contact me at Wesley Woods. For the next few weeks this blog will focus on the cabin off and on.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Common Questions about Summer Camp

Camp books are out and campers are starting to register. I have been getting a lot of phone calls with the same questions. I would like to take a minute to answer as many questions as possible. I always welcome call for more information and follow-up so don't hesitate to contact me.

Are there camperships available? Yes! Wesley Woods is committed to give every child who wants to come to camp the opportunity to do so. The Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist church has dollars available. A good number of local churches also have campership opportunities for children in their communities. If all other sources for funding have been depleted I will make sure your campers have an opportunity to come to Wesley Woods.

How do I apply for money? The first step is to pick a event and complete a registration form. Once the registration form is complete contact your local United Methodist pastor and ask for assistance filling out a campership application. If you are not a member of a United Methodist church or have trouble getting assistance please contact me and I can help you with that form.

I registered, but didn't get any information about what to bring. How do I get that information? The wonders of technology offer opportunities for instant access to so much data. The curse is that at times those streams don't flow as they should. If you didn't receive a confirmation letter and forms there are a few possibilities as to what may have happened. Your registration may not have actually gone through. Your confirmation letter may have been "lost in the mail". In any case the first step would be to contact me to find out if you are actually registered. Second step would be for Wesley Woods to send you a new copy of the information and forms.


Deke Rider
Site Director

Friday, February 27, 2009

How do others see you?

Daily Scripture

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
‐Romans 1:17
Read Romans 1:16-17 and Romans 12:9-21

While at seminary I have been working in a fourth grade classroom as a tutor. The classroom teacher, Mrs. P in recent years was “Teacher of the Year” for Illinois. Mrs. P pours her heart out to the students and the staff in every way she possibly can each day. Monday while the students were at PE, we were rapidly preparing for the social studies lesson when a fifth grade teacher, Ms Drew came into our classroom. She started telling Mrs. P about her niece who had gotten into a car accident and broke her back. Mrs. P stopped everything she was doing and listened to Ms Drew. After Ms Drew told Mrs. P all the events her niece is now going through, Mrs. P said she would PRAY for Ms Drew’s niece, family and friends. (Not teacher’s real names.)

Do your friends or the people you go to school and work with know you are a Christian?

How would your actions and behaviors show this to them?

If a person saw you at any moment would they question whether you were a Christian?

In Chicago it is very easy to become self-centered and not think about the people around you. For instance you might rush past a person who is struggling to carry luggage up the stairs to the L platform in order to catch the train. You might come out of a restaurant and not give the homeless person even the change out of your pocket. I am reminded of the song that goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love.”

Romans 12:9-21 speaks of showing kindness to those who are around you, even people who may have caused you pain or suffering. This is very difficult and requires patience, but what better way to show people that you are trying to live a Christian life. How have you in the last week shown kindness to those around you? What opportunities have you missed to show kindness to those around you?

Prayer: God thank you for surrounding us with your love and grace. Please help us to share this Christian love with our friends, family, and those we pass by in our daily lives.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Are you Guilty?

How to cope!

Read Ezekiel 33:10-20Align Center

In a magazine at Walmart the other day I saw an article and the title was “15Ways to relieve your guilty conscience.” I didn’t actually pick up the magazine and flip to the article, but now I kind of wish that I did. I don’t know how many different ways you can say the same thing, but I am guessing the article didn’t tell people 15 different ways to ask God for forgiveness. Today I want to encourage you to think about guilt and what it means in our life.

Have you ever felt guilty for doing something? How did you handle your guilt?

Did your guilt result from a sin you committed in your life?

I am sure the magazine article encouraged those who felt guilty to do something nice for someone, take a hot bath and a glass of wine, or to walk outside and ball their guilt up and throw it into the nothingness of space. Those choices wouldn’t deal with the guilt the just bury it deeper.

Does verse 10 sound like someone who is living with guilt? Does sin tear your life apart and consume joy? According to this passage what does sin do in the life of people?

How often do you make a choice to do something because you have been pretty good? You know it’s the wrong thing to do, but come on you have been doing really well following God and you can always ask forgiveness later! That thought is the devil tempting us to sin and put barriers between ourselves and God.

How do you feel about verse 20? Have you ever thought that the Lord wasn’t just?

What are two things you have some guilt about in your life right now? Why are you feeling guilty about them? Now surrender them to God. Name them specifically and ask forgiveness for whatever sins you might have committed that motivate the guilt. Maybe it’s not something terrible, but that you just didn’t care for your neighbor as well as you cared for yourself.
To ask for forgiveness of sins is nothing new, but for me this study was a reflection on the guilt that I sometimes feel in my life and the source of it. I frequently am convicted that I don’t spend enough time with my family. In the last few weeks I have come to acknowledge in my life that is sometimes a result of my priorities being out of line. I also have been convicted of guilt as I have been tempted to gossip or not care for others. The concept of guilt being a result of sin is one that I hadn’t taken time to recognize.

Prayer: Let us surrender our guilt to you. Help us to look within ourselves and recognize the sins we commit everyday in our lives and to surrender those to you. Help us to not expect that it’s ok if we do this because we have been pretty good or we can ask forgiveness. Help us to be truly men and women of God. AMEN

Monday, February 2, 2009

Are you running scared?

Are you running scared?

Daily Scripture: “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want.” -Psalm 23:1

Read Daniel 6:15-28
I have been trying to use less familiar scripture passages in an effort to strengthen my retention of all parts of the Bible. I also hope to introduce all of you to some verses you have never read or seldom read. Today I want to reflect on 2009 and the ways in which it is being approached. I also want to review 2008 and the mistakes I may have made during it. Those of you hoping for ground breaking new information on how dumb I can be…….
I recently returned from the national camp leaders meeting in California. Yes it was much warmer than Iowa yet my car windows were frosted up a few days. At this meeting many camp leaders are worrying over the economy and what that means for camp this summer. It is easy to get bogged down in the financial management of a site and to forget to look towards the heavens.

What kind of behaviors was Daniel exhibiting which caused his being tossed into the lion’s den?

Which side of this story are you on today? Have you been faithfully trusting in God? Have you been throwing others into the lion’s den?

In 2007 as interim Director there were a lot of challenges to face and I knew right away without God it would be a long and hard road. In 2008 we had the right staff in place, I was finally director and I had the world by the horns. It was much harder to trust in God and to keep the focus his love and presence in the midst of everything. It was much harder to fall on my knees everyday and ask God to bless the management and outreach of Wesley Woods. It was much harder to lift it all up to him and to trust him to provide. I think there are a lot of similarities to this story of Daniel and the world today.
Lion’s aren’t probably about to eat you, but what things are you facing that can consume you in the same way? Are you concerned about how to pay for college, pay the bills, or your family?

In what ways do you respond to threats like these? Do you turn to God and put your trust there like Daniel did or do you shoulder the burden and try to climb through the swamp of despair and separation from God?
I know that the economy is tough and times are lean, but my prayer everyday is that God helps people see the need for Jesus and they will respond by getting more kids than ever to camp. The last week I have heard story after story of the transforming power of a loving God and I don’t want the flock of God to miss the shepherd because parents lost jobs, the church fails to provide opportunities to make disciples for the transformation of the world or the bottom line is the only consideration. We don’t know what this year holds financially, but we must remain faithful that God will care for us.
Prayer: God let us trust in you to lead your flock through green pastures and beside still waters. Let us give of what you have given to your ministries. Let us not focus on what we might not have, but on what you have given. AMEN

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Read Isaiah 55:1-13
The middle and end of winter are always the hardest because summer is long gone and we are just getting ready to embrace the one coming. With all the computer issues and long days I let these devotions and my intentions of being in stronger connection with all of you fall by the way. I had the pleasure of going on vacation with my beloved wife and beautiful daughter. It was a time of renewal and revival in my soul. It was a time to embrace the gift God has given me in my family and to evaluate where he has been in my life. At the end of vacation Su and Lia returned to Iowa and I met Chris and Tiffany at the national camp leaders meeting in California. It is in a beautiful Redwood Forest and has started my excitement afresh and refocused me on the priorities I found anew during vacation.
Have you ever been thirsty? Why were you thirsty? Have you ever been spiritually thirsty?

Look at verse two, how does that verse speak to you? What things does it make you think are excess in your life? What things should you be worrying about buying?

When you have been in times of spiritual thirst who or what brought that thirst to your attention?

What do you think it means to seek the Lord in verses 6 and 7?

As I write this it seems similar to one I wrote in December and the lessons I am relearning are the same. Why do I repeat the pattern of quenching my thirst and then running from the well refusing to drink again until I forget how refreshing and cooling the water is? Why does God have to smack me over the head time and time again so I will remember to immerse myself in his loving flood?

I know the answers to those questions because I have answered them repeatedly throughout my life. It is because of me. I keep getting in God’s way and making my priorities most important and I forget the call I feel in times of thirst. I revert back to pride and self-reliance forgetting my heritage in Adam and Eve and the necessity of Christ. Then I go to a beautiful place with beautiful people and I am reminded of God’s blessings and presence.
Prayer: God thank you for giving us thirst and for the yearning we have for you. Please help us to dip our empty cups in the following love you send forth, that we might be quenched and know your love. AMEN

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January Flying By

Yes I know it's only the 6th, but it seems like it started weeks ago. Su is making fun of me for being old, but that's about the pot calling the kettle black. The new year started with interviews at Pictured Rocks and there were some amazing candidates. Yesterday was an exciting day because we heard from the volunteers who have been running JOY camp at Golden Valley. They are coming to Wesley Woods in 2009. I am very excited because it is a tremendous program that has done some great ministry. Please continue to pray for all those involved around Golden Valley as we continue to go through a time of transition there. Keep the Dereus family in your prayers with the death of their grandfather. Pray for God's guidance for staff as we prepare the camper recruitment materials, recruit/interview/hire staff and retreat ministries pick-up.


Deke Rider
Site Director