Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Camp Bethel Men's Retreat, Sheridan Wyoming -- JOB

March 4-6, 2011. Lots of snow! I’m sitting at the tiny airport in Sheridan, Wyoming, snow falling steadily since Saturday evening. My flight has been delayed three times now, and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to make it home tonight. “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

I have been graciously and colorfully hosted by two wonderful families, both headed by elders at First Baptist Church, Sheridan. Paul VanDyke, custom saddle maker extraordinaire, has been my contact guy since last fall, and he’s done a fantastic job of setting everything up and making me feel comfortable and welcome. Paul and his good friend, Nathan Mullinax, concrete and irrigation dude extraordinaire, picked me up at the airport Friday afternoon and drove me up the mountain to about 8,500 feet at Camp Bethel, a former logging camp turned Bible camp, a collection of log cabins full of rustic charm. Matt the camp director and his family put on great meals for us. The dining hall feels to me like a back-country hunting lodge, surrounding us with log walls and beams, a massive bull elk trophy, a mull deer head, snarling black bear rug hanging up in the log-beamed rafters above us, and a classic steam-bent canoe suspended overhead.

I felt a bit worn out from the bumpy ride on the puddle-jumper turbo prop flight from Denver, and so I think I was a bit lethargic and off balance on round one of Job. Saturday I had three 1 ½ hour sessions. I felt more freedom and was blessed by the attention and good comments and questions of the men gathered for some pretty comprehensive (42 chapters of Job in four sessions) study of God’s Word, Job’s Ruin and God’s Redemption: Discovering Christ in the book of Job, or The Gospel According to Job.
Wyoming men are a diverse and colorful gang. I learned about saddlery, irrigation, concrete, coal mining, engineering, big-rig trucking, ranching, optometry (got an initial ad hoc screening for laser surgery), bear hunting (or roping), moose attacks, and saw a herd of 50 elk, lots of mull deer, and pronghorn—and every Mullinax irrigation pivot between Sheridan and Camp Bethel! Checked in to the Holiday Inn and took a nap while Paul fed his horses (Nathan probably installed a dozen or so pivots in those two hours), before dinner at the VanDyke ranch with both families. Amber (Paul’s wife) and Sierra (Nathan’s wife) were gracious hostesses. And what beautiful children, each so different but each a gift and blessing from the Lord. We talked over dinner and into the night about bringing the gospel to our children, courting when theirs get a bit older, and had an all-around wonderful evening of rich fellowship. Stepped out the door to snow, snow, and more snow.

Saturday night I slept well—when I was sleeping. But at 3 am there was a cowboy fight in the hall, complete with lots of yelling and thumping of bodies against the wall. It was like being in a saloon in the old west! Pretty sad, but so out of character with everything else I experienced with the good folks that welcomed me so warmly to their much-loved state. I felt the Lord’s gracious presence and hand as I preached at First Baptist Church, Sheridan Sunday morning. We sang the hymn It is Well With My Soul, which tied in well with my sermon, All’s Well That ends Well, II Chronicles 26:1-23, soon to be posted in audio on their site and www.bondbooks.net.  
And I just got the word that the Great Lakes Aviation squirrel plane landed (in the snow), and we’re getting ready for boarding. May God be with us as we bounce back to Denver in the snow. “Be anxious for nothing…” “He will give his angels charge concerning you.” I’m planning to curl up and take a snooze for the hour and a half to Denver.  


  1. Looks like you had a good time and saw God work as well. Hopefully you got that much deserved snooze along with a smooth flight.