Back from Up North
I spent last weekend at Camp Barakel preaching to a chapel full Sr. High campers. The camp was at capacity. My brother Kevin is on the Barakel staff. He led the chapel services. Two of his sons Zach and Josiah helped with music. My brother Nathan led the music and played the piano. His daughter Grace helped with the singing. I preached. We met in the West Side Chapel, built in the 40’s, a rustic place of worship with two huge stone fireplaces on either side of the platform. On a winter retreat the fires blaze and crackle while you sing and preach. A few inches of fresh snow fell and frosted all the pine forest surrounding the frozen lake.
I drove home Sunday out of the snowy north, sipping a strong coffee (for I rise early when I preach), down the state, across the Zilwaukee Bridge and into winter sunshine.
I’m basking now in the memory of it. I’m praying the Word took hold in the hearts of young people. I like to think the memory of a beautiful white weekend in the great north country of Michigan, the smiles of the workers, the abundance of good food, the order of the place, the beauty of the singing, the hissing of burning wood, the laughter of friends, the taste of cocoa, the exertion of skating and skiing and tubing and snowball fights, and the ministry of the Word will draw them Godward and leave them changed. I hope to see them again. One day, when I am gone, out from among them God will call forth preachers and singers and workers to continue to spread the aroma of Christ in this blessed place they call Camp Barakel.
I’ve been invited to speak again to families in the spring, teens in the summer, and fathers and sons in the fall. Should the Lord allow, I will have spoken at Barakel in all four seasons this year. I’m humbled at the privilege of driving up into our beloved Michigan in each of the four seasons with a Bible on the seat beside me and a message burning in my soul. It never gets old.
Musing on the Muse
It’s quiet on Bittersweet Farm tonight. I’m mending from illness. Thinking, watching, listening, and writing in the corner of my upstairs room. It got me thinking about where writers write.
Francis Schaeffer wrote in a plain chair pulled up the end of the bed in a small upstairs room of a chalet in the Alps. It was from this modest place he moved the world.
If you want to go down a fun rabbit-hole surf around that ‘net for half hour looking for pictures of where famous writers write. Sometimes they wrote in uninsulated huts out behind the house. Many of the most productive writers wrote in very simple surroundings.
Last week I was privileged to spend some time with Pastor Jeff Manion, the lead pastor af Ada Bible Church. He has a tiny office at the church which draws over 8,000 a weekend. He does most of his study at home in the basement at a simple table with a common chair and a lamp. I’ve met men who surround themselves with every conceivable comfort and productivity tool who have not had a fraction of their influence. I have a good desk, custom-made my my brother-in-law, a state-of-the-art computer. I have a good light, a comfortable, usually quiet room that stays year round a comfortable 70 degrees.
Louis Broomfield wrote Pleasant Valley, and many other books. He had the most amazing desk and writing I have ever seen in the house on Malabar Farm in Richland County, Ohio. It was huge, but he wrote all his books on a card table pulled over in front of the window.
Sheldon Van Auken wrote by the fireplace in a little one-room cottage he called VanCot. It was his home and he wrote on a manual typewriter on on a portable stand.
Your productivity has little to do with how expensive your tools are. Good tools that work are important, but surrounding yourself with toys, trinkets, novelties and luxuries will not make you productive. Getting regularly into a simple, quiet place and spending time in undistracted work will make you productive. We must continually fight the temptation to believe that we need something more than what we have in order to do what we are called to do.
February 4, 2020