Life Lessons from CFO

1 Jul

Society is so far out of balance. We have too much food, not enough food, too much exercise, not enough exercise, too much TV, not enough study, too much sports, not enough downtime, too much purchasing, not enough producing,  too much worry, not enough meditation. So how can we use the CFO program to help us get our lives into balance?

It sounds a little like a cliché, but it makes sense, Inspiration + Expiration = Respiration. We need some of everything to have balanced lives. We can have a diet of only green leafy vegetables, but that does not mean we will be healthy. The CFO program replenishes and depletes (this is not a negative) each part of us, body, mind and soul. Meals, rest and sleep replenish the body. Singing, exercise and recreation deplete the body. The mind is replenished by the talk and also by sleep, while Creatives and fellowship deplete the mind. The Spirit is replenished by Meditation, prayer, sleep and the blessing service and is depleted by Creatives, singing, prayer and the world prayer broadcast.

In the next pages, you will find a basic daily guide for using the CFO program each day. There is a suggested meditation, song, scripture and so on. I encourage you to work through each day and all the parts of the program, do not be concerned about doing them in order or making sure you do it perfectly. If you do not know the song, let God help you make up a tune or choose a different one. If there is a suggested activity, that you feel you can not do, pray and let God give you an idea. He is always creative and will give you suggestions if you ask. Use the suggested activities to help you generate your own ideas. This should not be difficult. It it becomes too hard, then it has failed. The elements of the CFO day should just be part of who you are. Scripture, Song, prayer, giving and receiving blessing from God should be just as natural as breathing and eating.

Make notes as you complete each part and what God says to you through each section. Use the lists as a check point and journal at the end of each day. Try to look at the song and meditation early in the day, so you can carry God’s song and word through your whole day. If you are unable to do an activity on the day it is listed, do not skip it. Swap it for another day’s activity. Keep it flexible and balanced.

Once you have completed the days that are laid out, you should have some good habits developed and ideas about how to take this further. I have added a template in appendix B, that you can copy and record your daily activities and scripture choices.  You can also use these daily guides to help plan personal or group retreats. The CFO program, is a tool that God gave to an obedient man, many years ago. This book is just another tool to use the program. Let God be your guide.

My prayer is that this will help you develop positive habits and balance your lives. As John Wesley said, we need to “Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God”. This sounds balanced to me.

Remember that if or when you fail and you entertain your inner desires and they become sin, all hope is not lost. Do not despair, do not be discouraged. Confess your sin and repent (start over). Ask God to forgive you and receive his forgiveness. Forgive others that may have been involved (intentionally or unintentionally) and forgive yourself. Take control again and let Satan know that he has no place in your life. Then put on your armor, pick yourself up and continue the race.

Debt Free Lives, Part 1

3 Jul

Even now, I struggle with the title of this chapter. Sin and debt have become so ingrained in our lives and such an acceptable state, we can not imagine life without it. Maybe, in all honesty, we do not want to, but Galatians 5:1 tells us that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Yet every day, we make choices to live in the slavery of sin. With everything we do, think or say, we are faced with the choice to do it God’s way or do it our way and more often than not, we choose our way over God’s.

Sin is disobedience, plain and simple. Sin is doing, thinking or holding on to what we should not, even when we know it. Sin is doing it my way instead of God’s way. As previously mentioned, sin is an interior issue, not an exterior one. James 1:14-15 “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” 1 John 1:6, “If we claim to have fellowship with him (God) yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” I heard a sermon recently where the preacher (not my Father or Husband) was talking about sin. Yet, he did not call it sin. He talked about mistakes and errors in judgment. He talked about those “oops” that we do, not doing things right and that we are only human. It is time that we faced sin head on, call it what it is and determine that it is time to get a handle on our own evil desires. I know the world thinks there are gray areas, but a good rule of thumb is, if we have to ask if what we are doing is wrong, we probably should stop and run away. Stop making excuses and let’s begin to take God seriously.

In order to take God seriously, we need to understand what God say about sin. The Word is very clear and we should have no difficulty with interpretation. Get ready, these are tough words, from Romans 1:18 – 2:6 “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

“But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.* But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” (New Living Translation)

We have been taught that sin is a part of life and we have no control over it. “We are only human” and “God made me this way” have become our most favored excuses to remove our responsibility and keep doing what we are doing. Let’s be honest, we sin because the consequences seem so far away, everyone else is doing it, it seems harmless, and generally sin is fun. We would not do it, if it was not fun and if it did not give us some pleasure in return. Even if just for a short time. Watch the TV or read a magazine and you will soon understand that our whole purpose in life is to make ME happy. Society has developed a serious idol worship. The idol of self. Everything we do, we do for our comfort, progress and personal wellbeing. (continued in Debt Free Lives, Part 2)

Our Debt

2 Jul

As a Credit Manager, for a furniture manufacturer, I am very aware of debt and the driving force it has on our society. Each day I see so many companies that have given up and filed bankruptcy, because it has become impossible to manage. Some days have hundreds of bankruptcy filings. As a family with two auto loans, a camper loan, student loan and credit cards, my husband and I are very aware of the oppressive weight that debt can hold over our lives. We (personal or corporate) do not want to be in debt, but we are drawn in to the “gotta have it” mentality and then once in debt, it become very difficult to get out and stay out. It reminds me of trying to diet. We go one pound down and two pounds up, until we wake up one morning and realize that we have no idea how we got to where we are.

Let me try to give some perspective to the debt situation in the United States. With the U.S. National Debt Clock ticking, up to $10,624,404,037,210.22 on January 27, 2009 and the ever increasing Consumer Debt at $2.6 trillion, we are well in over our heads. If the estimated population of the U.S. is 305,539,618 then each one of us, from my three year old grandson to my 80 year old Father-in-law, owe $43,000 each. The average household size is 2.59 persons, which makes the household share of this debt $112,076 and since the median household income is only $50,000, we are in serious trouble.

In my work, over the years, I have been fascinated by people and their ways of dealing with debt. Some pay according to the agreement with the lender and take their commitment with all seriousness. Others pay according to their ability or the convenience of making a payment, regardless of what is owed. These people become indignant when questioned about or reminded of their debt. There are debtors that acknowledge their debt and make payments when reminded, but otherwise do not think much about it. These are the people that will only pay those debts that are brought to their attention. There are also those who simply do not acknowledge their debt and have no intention of paying it. This list is not exhausted, because it is as long as the list of people in the world, but it gives us an idea and I suspect we can put ourselves in one of these categories.

When each of us finally come to the place where we are ready to face our debt, we find that we are either totally overwhelmed and can hardly see a future of freedom or we determine that it is nothing more than a nuisance, but not a priority. We may decide that debt is really something other people have a problem with, but ours is totally under control. Some may actually have the attitude that debt is the lenders issue, not the borrowers and this is a very dangerous conclusion to draw, as it removes us from all responsibility of our debt.

Scripture is quite clear about debt. Proverbs 22:7, says, “…the borrower is servant to the lender.” and in 22:26-27, “Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you”. Romans 13:8 states “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” I do not think God can be any clearer and we have not even looked at all of the passages that warn us about being in debt or lending.

Financial debt, the debt of money borrowed and repayment owed, is something that we are all aware of and understand. Is is the force that drives our economy and can ruin our families. It can take an entrepreneurial dream and turn it into a bankrupt nightmare. It is a predicament that can start war and end in death. It is something that can make an average,  upstanding, moral man turn to crime to make ends meet. A family with all the comforts the world can imagine may suddenly find themselves living in a shelter or worse, on the street. As overwhelming and impossible as this all may seem, it is nothing when compared to the debt of sin that we owe. If you thought $10,624,404,037,210.22 was a big number, try putting a value on the debt of our sin as viewed by the eyes of the innocent one who paid our debt on the cross. If we work hard and live within our means, we may someday find freedom from our financial debt to others. The only means we have to pay off our sin debt is the gift of Grace that God provided through his Son, Jesus Christ. We can not live within our means and do anything good.  As Paul said, “our best is but filthy rags”. It is God, and God alone, that can make all things new.

As clear as Scripture is about financial debt, it is just as clear about our debt of sin. Romans 3:23, says “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” and 6:23 tells us that, “For the wages of sin is death….”. The hope of Christ is found in Colossians 2:13-14 which says, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Just as people respond to financial debt in various ways, we respond to sin debt in the same manner. To some, sin is overwhelming and seems impossible. For others, it is a nuisance, but not a big deal. Sin just means a little guilt now and then. Many of us see sin as something other people have a problem with or that it is God’s issue, not the sinner’s. You know,  if he didn’t make so many rules, we would not have so many problems. We have very unhealthy attitude about both debt & sin. We become flippant about financial debt (only $20 on my JCP card), until it becomes a hopeless problem. We become flippant about sin debt (only a little gossip, only a $1 lottery ticket, not really a bad word, gluttony?, greed?, I’ve gotta have it….), until we begin to suffer the consequences of the sin. Then it becomes a mountain.

I have worked with people who have paid off huge debt over a long period of time. It seemed impossible, but when it is done, they felt great and I felt great. In those times, when I have worked with them to pay off the debt or I was able to write off a portion to help them out, it is as if they have a fresh start. What if, after the debt was clear, they continued to work on it and worry about it and call me? That would not make sense. I would feel bad that I could not convince them that it is finished. What if they turned around and ordered another $10,000, with no more ability to pay than the did before? I would feel that all my work was for nothing. So how do we suppose Jesus feels, when he said, “It is finished” – John 19:30 and yet we continue to trying to fix it (pay it off) ourselves? Why do we continue to carry it around and beat ourselves up? Why do we just turn around and do it again? Why do we have such a hard time living in the  freedom that Christ provides? The answer is simple, “…the Devil prowls around, like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 and “…by our own evil desire, we are dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15. This is an internal, ongoing battle that is not going to go away.

Fellowship & Snacks

19 Sep

This may be the most widely attended part of camp. I have to admit that it is one of my favorite times, but this is not just a time to eat. This is a time of fellowship. We can get to know people, share our joys and laughter, but be careful not to stay up to late or eat too much.

I was quite convicted when I saw that Webster said snacks were “a small amount of food”. I decided that a snack is not the fourth meal of the day and I need to make some changes. Webster also said that Fellowship is the quality or state of being brothers, association in alliance or partnership. I think this fits Kingdom living quite well.

Scripture tells us in Acts 2:42, that “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship.”, Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”, Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”, 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

We must spend time with each other in fun and fellowship to encourage one another and to keep us accountable. To live our lives in secret and privacy, can lead to temptation and depression. Kingdom living requires the kingdom subjects to work as a team.

Blessing Service, World Prayer Broadcast, and Letters to God

14 Aug

Blessing Service
At CFO, time is set aside for a blessing service. Although done differently at each camp, the result is the same. This is an opportunity to pray a blessing over each other, as it is God’s desire to speak to and bless his people.

Webster says that “To bless is the act or words of one that blesses with approval or encouragement.” To bless someone leads to happiness and a sense of wellbeing, to be used by God in the blessing does the same for the giver. It is possible that God will give a word of encouragement or possibly direction at this time. Matt. 18:18 says, I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and Luke 6:28 exhorts us to Bless those who persecute you. We are called to bless one another and to speak blessings, not curses. We should take every opportunity to receive God’s blessing and to impart God’s blessing to everyone.

World Prayer Broadcast
The World Prayer Broadcast gives us opportunity “To cast or scatter in all directions”, “To scatter or sow over a broad area” and “To make public”, the prayers of God for His people and His world.

In Acts 1:8, it says, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  Philippians 4:6-7 states, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  We must be concerned (not worry) about, pray for and seek God’s will for the world. We can not keep this to ourselves. It is our duty, our calling and our command.

Our baptism demands “going into all the world”. We are baptized into a life and ministry of servant-hood to the world. Christ defined “going into all the world”, when he showed us how to love the unlovely and touch the untouchable and care for the undeserving. Our spirit demands “going into all the world”. In view of what Christ did for us, what other response can there be? The World Prayer Broadcast is our opportunity to call on God to impart His blessing to the world and deal with world issues.

Letters to God
A letter to God should be encouraged at every camp. This is a special tool that God has given us and has blessed those who have used it over the years. Take a piece of paper and actually write a letter to God. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to respond to your letter. Turn your paper over and write God’s response. Put the letter in an envelope, seal it and address it to yourself.   These letters, written at camp, are never read by anyone else but are placed in the mail at some point in the future. You will be amazed at the timing of the letter’s arrival and the words that God has for you at that time.

Prayer and Prayer Groups

1 Aug

Prayer is the center of CFO. Everything we do should be done in prayer. Every part of our day should be spent in prayer. Prayer groups in CFO are the times we gather with a few others in silence, in praise and in prayer for the needs of each person. This is not a time to fix a person’s problems or give advice. It is a time to pray.

Do not be afraid of silence. It is not necessary for someone to be speaking at all times. Do not hesitate to share your needs but keep your story short and current. Since there is a limited time, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to share and we have adequate time to pray. A good rule of thumb is to spend more time praying than talking. A prayer group is a safe place. This is a place where we should be able to speak freely and openly about whatever is on our heart. What people share in a prayer group should be kept in complete confidence and never mentioned outside the group.

Webster calls prayer an address to God in word or thought. “An address” sounds a bit impersonal. I like to think of it in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we talk to God with the realization that he is the Creator of the Universe and we are greatly humbled. Sometimes we approach God as our only source of provision and as our only hope. It is as if we are on our face as a poor man looking for a meal. Then there are those days when we curl up in Abba’s lap and pour out our heart to him as our Daddy, our Father.

1 Peter 4:7-8 says, The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, Pray continually.  Jesus told the disciples to Watch and pray so you do not fall into temptation. and Ephesians 6:18 says, Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

The application here is pretty clear. We are called to pray in all ways at all times, as if our lives depend on it.
Our lives should be a constant prayer.


19 Jul

Rest time in CFO, also called horizontal hour, has often been treated as nap time or skipped altogether to run an errand or have a meeting. Rest time is intended as a time to get quiet and alone with God. This is a time to just listen and let God minister to you all alone. If you take this time to get alone and quiet and you find that you have fallen asleep, let it happen. God can minister to you as you sleep. Remember, God gives rest to the weary.

Rest is defined as “freedom from activity or labor and peace of mind or spirit, free of anxieties”. This sounds heavenly.

Genesis 2:2-3 tells us by the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Psalm 37:7 says, Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;” and Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

Sometimes we need to stop. We need to rest. We need to take time to hear God and sense His presence and His leading. Having a rest time does not mean a time of sleep each day, it means a time of freedom from activity or labor.


17 Jul

Meals at camp are a wonderful time of fellowship and sharing. Hopefully when coming to a meal, an experienced CFOer will find a new CFOer to eat with and take the time to get to know them. Meals are different at each camp, depending on how the facility is run, so care should be taken to help newcomers figure out what they are to do.

I think we know what Webster would say about this, but just to be clear, I will mention it that means to “take in through the mouth, ingest, chew and swallow, or to enjoy eagerly or avidly.”

In Scripture, we find that Jesus feeds the people. We know that he ate the Passover meal with friends and family and he also ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus knew that this was a good time to share good food and good conversation.

When we eat properly, our bodies are healthy. When our bodies are healthy, our minds and emotions are healthy. When all parts of our person are healthy, we make better decisions. Food is not a bad thing, but too much (or bad food) is not good. Meals should not be skipped, unless fasting for a time of prayer and we should never get to the point where meal time is unimportant. Meal time is a good time to fellowship or if alone, to relax and be thankful to God for His provision. Food is a gift from God and should be treated as such.


9 Jul

God has done some wonderful and amazing things in people, through the Creatives session in CFO. It is done in a variety of ways, but the most common are Creative Writing and Creative Art. Generally a scripture or theme is presented to the group and materials, such as paper, pens, chalk, paints, clay or other media are distributed. Each person gets quiet before God and allows Him to begin to work in their heart. As the person begins to draw or write, God will reveal a word or truth that is needed for this person or maybe someone else in the group. At the end of the session, people are encouraged to share what they did and what God revealed to them. Some CFO events have used Creative Drama, Nature, Conversation, Music and others.

Webster says that creativity is to bring into existence, to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior and to produce through imaginative skill.

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth-all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.  Gen 1:1-2. Genesis 1:27 says that God made man in his image and later we are told that God looked at everything he made and said it was good.

God liked creating and enjoyed his creation and we should too. Do we use our imaginations or do we let the TV, videos, movies, video games do it for us? Reading uses our imagination, but even that is a form of creativity that is already done for us. Spend time writing in a journal, making up a song, drawing or painting. Many of us probably do not even know what our potential is. We need to take time to use the talents God has given us and create something. We are a society of consumers, which is what got us into financial trouble. Stop just consuming and create something.

Rhythms or Devotion in Motion

25 Jun

Rhythms, sometimes called Devotion in Motion, is probably the hardest to describe. As Christians, we need to have some deliberate and continuous habits of worship, yet prayer and worship does not have to be the same old, same old all the time. Pray and worship in dance. Pray and worship in stillness, in song and in action. Use your whole body, mind and soul. Use them all at once. Pray and worship by yourself, or with small groups and with the larger body of Christ. Through motion, patterns and songs, you can go through a series of worshipful activities that will stretch and work your body and soul.

Webster says that rhythm is an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech. He says that it is movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements. This sounds elegant.

Scripture shows us that God is a God of rhythm. 1 Kings 8:58,  May he (God) keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors.  Jeremiah 5:24-25, How can we honor our GOD with our lives, The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?

Rhythms/Devotion in Motion is a great opportunity to learn to follow direction. Coordinating a group of individuals to learn a song and a pattern of movements, in a short amount of time can be a challenge. A good leader will get the group under control, give the directions and still leave time for meaningful worship. A good participant will watch, listen and follow the directions, even if they do not make complete sense to start with. During all of this, the participant will also be able to allow God to work and speak.

I have heard it said that there are no spectators in rhythms and we should move what still moves. In the same way, there are no spectators in life and we should do what we can with what God has given us to be rhythmic in our love and interaction with others.

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