Meeting Recap (10/3/16)

jeep-under-construction-1We had a couple new faces in the crowd this week, and continued out theme of “cars and trucks” through our activities and devotional.

Following our opening ceremony, the Junior Rangers organized teams for games and led the fun while monitoring for good sportsmanship.

Our activities included several word searches and crossword puzzles on the cars and trucks theme.  Boys were encouraged to work as teams, taking turns finding key words or solving riddles for crossword clues.  Junior Rangers stood close by to offer assistance and individualized encouragement so that no one became frustrated or felt isolated during the exercise.

Ranger Stephen offered the devotional discussion on “ENGINES”:  he took time to present open ended questions to the group, and draw from them their creative and fun answers.  While they typically presented the most obvious response, he was able to encourage them to think about a broader context and discover new connections.  As part of his program, he handed out select bible verses and asked volunteers to read a short set aloud.  Following each reading, he would ask the group how that set of verses helps to clarify our thinking and understanding of our own roles as specially created individuals.

Ranger Stephen provided a concise recap of that discussion, below:

Tripod TrebuchetWe’ve been talking about cars and trucks as of late, and they are driven by engines, however, in the world we also have search engines like google, siege engines like catapults, and locomotives like steam engines besides.

So what is an engine? An engine is something built to accomplish a particular task, something made with a purpose in mind.

Thinking about that, we can say that God made the world with a purpose in mind, so that can be seen as a form of engine. It is worth noting that it is an engine we are responsible for, as pointed out in Psalms 8, God has made mankind rulers over the works of his hands, this is also seen in Genesis 1:26-28. Beyond even that, the task of general stewardship of the world given, God has special purposes in mind for each one of us, making us all engines of a sort!

Now, there is something else that needs to be said about engines, engines require certain things (i.e. fuel, input of data, etc.) to run correctly:

  • a diesel engine needs diesel fuel, and
  • a basic calculator works with numbers,

However, if you were to substitute sugar-water for diesel fuel, the engine not only might not run, it might flat out destroy the diesel engine, and if you tried to use letters instead of numbers, the calculator wouldn’t understand the input and couldn’t provide it’s services to you.

So it is important that we learn to distinguish good fuel from bad, and proper operation from improper operation.

The bible on the whole is great for that, but Proverbs is a very dense collection of suggestions to work with:

  • Proverbs 3:5-8 reminds us first that we will not understand everything that happens in life, but God has his reasons if we will trust him. Further, his rules will, to stretch the analogy, keep the driveshaft aligned, and finally, even in less profound issues, we don’t know everything, but turning away from evil will be refreshment.
  • Proverbs 3:27-31 Suggests that we should not withhold good from others when we can give it, be it encouragement, service, or physical support. Moreover, this passage warns us against seeking conflict where none has been called for and to choose role models with care.
  • Proverbs 10:17 points out that instruction, from trustworthy sources, is meant for your good, and introduces the concept of a “reproof.” When a younger sibling reaches for a hot pot, you would warn them, you would tell them not to touch it, you would be reproving them. It’s not a very scary word or concept, it is simply to warn sternly.
  • Proverbs 12:25 introduces a simple example of both good and bad fuel directly, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” We probably won’t always resist anxiety, but it is something to remember.
  • Proverbs 12:26 notes that those who are righteous, those with good fuel, is a trustworthy guide to his neighbor, and then warns that the wicked, those with bad fuel, will lead them astray.
  • Proverbs 13:12 talks about a few issues we can’t always control, “hope deferred,” the forestalling of that desired, can weigh you down, and in some cases weigh heavily, and a longing fulfilled, a true longing, is almost never fulfilled purely on your own sole efforts, expectations can be adjusted slightly, but such adjustments will require a lot of time, and if care is not taken to have the right mind about things before such delays appear, they can be a weighty matter to deal with indeed.

Obviously, there is much more that can be said on the subject, but for now, this is what I have to provide based on what I was able to read in preparation for tonight’s discussion.




Pineapple-Cherry Dump Cake

2013-11-02_13-06-37_938I like to test new recipes from time to time – partly because I’m hungry and partly to see if it would be workable on a camping trip or for use at a Stockade meeting at church.

I noticed we had an abundance of Yellow Cake Mix as we tend to stock it for pineapple upside down cakes.  To thin the “herd” I tried making a simple Pineapple-Cherry Dump Cake.


  1. 20 oz can of crushed pineapple (in juice)
  2. 20 oz can of cherry pie filling
  3. 1 box of Yellow Cake Mix
  4. 1 bag of shredded coconut
  5. 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if outdoors, prep and preheat charcoal – arrange on dutch oven lid and under dutch oven to suit (see for basics)
  • Lightly butter the inside edges and bottom of a 9X13 pan.
  • Dump pineapple (with juice) and cherries into center.  Spread around for even layer.
  • Sprinkle cake mix over fruit.
  • Sprinkle coconut over cake mix.
  • Pour melted butter evenly over top of coconut.
  • Bake for one hour.  Let cool – can be served warm as cobbler, or cooled to “room temp” and served as slab pie.

What went well:

  • 20160917_193811_resized

    The aftermath…

    it was super easy with quick prep, quick clean up.

  • boys should be able to do this with little or no prior cooking skills (impossible to mess up short of dropping the mixture onto the floor)
  • less finesse and fumbling with the mixture assures better outcome (just dump and go)
  • tasty combo of flavors, crunch of toasted coconut was appealing – even to those who had previously said they don’t like coconut.

What didn’t go as planned:

  • WOW – it is sickeningly sweet.  Over The Top, Sugar Rush! (Of course, to elementary-school aged boys, this is probably going to be perfect).
  • Very “tart” or “sour” taste from the acids in the pineapple juice and cherries. (See parenthetical statement, above).
  • By layering the components, the cake mix didn’t pick up much liquid from the bubbling juices and we got a thin layer of “brownie-bake” texture.  Had we been less clinical in the approach and simply made a mess of it, we might have gotten a better mixture of flavors and textures.
  • The coconut absorbed a lot of the butter that was intended for the cake mix – maybe drizzling the butter first, and then adding the coconut might have helped.
  • The recipe I found for this called for sliced almonds as a topping instead of coconut (which I didn’t have on hand – hence the coconut) — the almonds might have toned down the sweetness and the coconut increased it.  Something to consider if I try this again.

Reminder – if doing this at club, always check for food allergies.  Almonds and coconut are suspect to food “sensitivities” more than genuine allergies, but better to check, warn, be sure to avoid problems.  When we plan to cook, we often send the ingredients list home the week before (and we ask parents during initial registration if they’re aware of food allergies or sensitivities ahead of time).

Despite the outcome being a mixed success, it was devoured quickly (over two days).  At club, I think making one wouldn’t be near enough as the boys would likely descend on it like a flock of locusts.  It did inspire me to consider a dump cake using devils food cake mix, coffee, cherries and almonds for adults.  Maybe some twist on “rocky road” ice cream as a dump cake?


“Beef on a Weck” (specialty sandwich on a Kummelweck Roll you’ve gotta try when attending a National CSB meeting in the Buffalo, NY area.  MMMMM.

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

[sorry for the delay in posting articles – started a new job and there’s been little time to blog – PHF]

What do you think of when I say “Christmas time”? Do you think of candy canes, gingerbread men, decorated pine trees, houses lit up at night with twinkling lights?  Of all these sorts of images, what excites you the most?  What makes Christmas fun and exciting?

I have to be honest, for me I’ve always been thrilled by beautifully wrapped presents. There’s a lot of excitement associated with receiving a gift – the anticipation of waiting to unwrap it, the wondering about what it may contain and the hope that it will be something that I will treasure or cherish for years to come.

What makes a gift really special to you?  What makes it memorable for years to come?

I think some of the ways that gifts become really special might include:

  • When the giver is someone very important to us
  • When it’s obvious that they went out of their way to get us this gift
  • When the gift shows us that the giver really cares about us
  • When the gift shows that the giver really knows us intimately – they understand what we need and what we value
  • When the gift lifts our spirit – makes us happy and joyful each time we see it because it is of such lasting value that we never tire of having it around

Lastly, a real gift is not given out of a sense of obligation or duty, but as a demonstration of love done willingly and voluntarily.

So at Christmas, what are we really celebrating?  Is it all about Santa and Snowmen or something else?

In Luke Chapter 2, verses 8 thru 11, it tells us why we celebrate at Christmas:

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

The announcement by the angels tells us a lot in very few words – they were telling the shepherds (and us) that God was granting us a free gift.  When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed between people and God – we broke the only rule that God gave us and we gave up a great relationship with God.  Now, God was doing something extraordinary to give us a way to be friends with God again.  He didn’t design a checklist of things we need to do, and He didn’t make more rules for us to follow – instead He gave us a free gift.

Here’s what the Bible has to say about that gift:

  • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
  • James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
  • Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


Christmas is about God giving us a gift, and we celebrate the birth of Jesus since his appearance on earth was the start of the plan to give us a way to be reconciled to God.  We are so joyful over God’s love for us that we share gifts with each other at Christmas time, but these ought to remind us of the most important gift we could ever receive – God wanting us to be at peace with Him forever.

Meeting Recap (11/17/14)

Tonight was a combined meeting with the Pioneer Girls who also meet at NVEFC.  It was “Movie Night!” and we all watched the “Story Keepers” Christmas special.  Plenty of popcorn, cheezy-doodles and lemonade!

Following the movie, Ranger Stephen led a brief devotional discussion on the account of Nehemiah.

From Wikipedia:

In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, (445/444 BC), Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king. Learning that the remnant in Judah were in distress and that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the city. Artaxerxes sent him to Judah as governor of the province with a mission to rebuild, letters explaining his support for the venture, and provision for timber from the king’s forest. Once there, Nehemiah defied the opposition of Judah’s enemies on all sides—Samaritans, Ammonites, Arabs and Philistines—and rebuilt the walls within 52 days…

Nehemiah recognized a need and an opportunity to do something very valuable and helpful.  First, he prayed very reverently to God.  Next, when the king asked Nehemiah what was troubling him and what could be done, he prayed and asked God for direction.

Ultimately, God and the king who was ruling the people, gave Nehemiah the task of rebuilding the walls which protect Jerusalem.

Nehemiah took this job very seriously and by planning and leading thoughtfully, managed to complete the task against steep odds (many of the neighboring nations didn’t want the walls rebuilt so Nehemiah had to guard against attacks while rebuilding the walls).

Questions for the boys and girls, have you, or friends/family ever had to cope with a big project?  Did you pray and ask God for His help and direction?  How did the project turn out?  Do you feel that Nehemiah would have been successful if he hadn’t been reverent and trusted God fully?

The discussion helped to illustrate that we can make plans and do all sorts of things, but ultimately our efforts will be fruitless unless we start with God in a reverent fashion. Some verses that reinforce this notion include:

  • Proverbs 19:21 – Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand
  • Proverbs 16:9 – The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
  • Jeremiah 17:5-8 – Thus says the Lord“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. “For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. [HOWEVER]  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.

Devotional – Communicating with God

communicationHow do we communicate with each other on a daily basis?  There are a lot of ways — we can use the internet, we could write a letter or a poem if our message is very personal, or we could simply call or text each other.

If I wanted to talk to you (or you, or you, etc.) can I just dial any random number and expect to be connected with you?  Nope!  I’ve got to remember and dial your particular number to reach you.

How do we communicate with God?  We can read the Bible and we can pray.

Just like calling someone with our phone and needing to know their number, can we pray to anyone or anything and expect God to answer that call?  Nope.  We need to dial God’s number — what do you think that might be?

Let’s look at Romans 10:12-13 (NLT): “Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  So what’s the name of the Lord?  JESUS.  If we call on Jesus, we’ll get connected to God.  How do we know this?  Consider John 14:6 (NLT) “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

We learned through our activities tonight that messages can get distorted or confused. What keeps us from communicating clearly and effectively with God?

Look at Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”  We can talk to God with our mouth and our mind and say all sorts of nice things, but what part of us makes all the difference in communicating clearly so that it makes a difference in our lives?  OUR HEART.  We need to believe in our hearts that we are made right with God.  

IMGP7151Further, we can look at Romans 10:14-15 (NLT) to learn more about calling on God:

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

These verses remind us that we really communicate effectively when we believe on God with our hearts — not just our minds or by what we say.  Our hearts are what we use to make choices and decisions — to obey God or to do what we want to do which, sometimes, can be opposite of what God wants.  Additionally, the verses conclude that we should tell other people how they can reach God, too.  If they don’t know “His number” (JESUS) then they probably can’t reach Him when they need Him the most.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 reminds us again;

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” 

Remember that we have the ability to talk with God through prayer.  When we seek to talk with Him we need to believe with all our heart that He’s there, He’s listening, and He cares about what we have to say as long as it is honest and from our hearts — what we really believe.  It’s also important to share “His number” (JESUS) with those who are trying to get in touch with Him — if they believe in their hearts then they can reach Him, too.


Meeting Recap (11/10/2014)

dipping applesFollowing the opening ceremony, the boys were able to visit the church kitchen where Ranger Rob discussed and demonstrated how to make caramel apples from scratch. While it’s not a particularly difficult process, it is a stove top safety hazard so we talked about both the ingredients and how to handle with appropriate supervision.

The boys took turns dipping their apples with Ranger Rob’s assistance, and all were set aside to cool while we returned to our normal meeting room for activities.

Tonight’s activities focused on ways people communicate with each other and how those communications can become distorted.  We broke into teams of four and set up tables with chairs for each team.  We also assigned a Junior Ranger to each team to help facilitate the activities.

Here is the worksheet that we shared with each Junior Ranger:

communicationCommunication Skills

Game one:  How do we communicate?

  1. Divide into teams and sit at tables.
  2. Everyone gets a piece of paper and a pencil/pen/marker
  3. Silently write down as many ways people communicate with each other as you can
  4. When the leader at your table says so, discuss your responses with each other at the table and count the number of unique ways we communicate
  5. Team with most responses gets 10 points, second best gets 5 points, every other team gets 3 points

Game two: Communicating badly

  1. Look at your table’s list from game #1.
  2. Silently write down when that type of communication would be a poor choice (example = texting while driving a car)
  3. When the leader at your table says so, discuss your responses with each other at the table and count the number of unique ways we communicate
  4. Team with most responses gets 10 points, second best gets 5 points, every other team gets 3 points

Game three: Whisper down the lane

  1. phonegameTake your team and make a line – spread each team member out a bit.
  2. Leader will provide a written message to the first person at the end of the line. He will read it and give the paper back to the leader.
  3. The first person will whisper the message to the second person so that no one else can hear it.
  4. The second person will whisper the message to the third person so that no one else can hear it.
  5. And so on until the last person hears the message and tells it to the leader or writes it down.
  6. Compare the initial message to the final message – did it change? Did it stay the same?  If it changed, why do you think it changed?  If it stayed the same, what helped to keep it clear?
  7. Each team to get this done quietly and calmly gets 10 Points, those who run around or mis-behave get fewer points as determined by their leader.

Game Four: Broken Picture Phone

  1. Teams sit at tables. Every other person gets paper and markers/pencils, etc.
  2. Leader reads a message to the person #1 who then draws a picture to communicate the idea of the message.
  3. Person #2 looks at the drawing and guesses at the meaning
  4. Person #2 writes down their guess of the meaning.
  5. Person #3 looks at Person #2’s drawing and guesses at the meaning, then writes down their guess to share with Person #4 (and so on until it’s back to the leader)
  6. As a group, the leader now reads the first message out loud. Person #1 explains what they drew (and shows the group), then Person #2 explains how they interpreted the picture, etc.
  7. Should be laughter – but not poking fun at any one person.
  8. 10 Points if everyone participates and has fun.

Game Five:  44 ways to use paperclips (100 point bonus to any team that gets 44 or more ways)

Game Six:  Introductions. Each member of group takes a turn to introduce themselves to the rest of the group (name, age, favorite class topic at school, career goal, what I like about CSB group) – 5 Points for each introduction

Junior Rangers helped boys who were struggling with drawings or had a tough time making additional or fresh connections; however, most everyone eagerly participated and did a great job within their teams.


Ranger Ken led the devotional which also tied into the theme of communication.  His devotional is summed up in a related article.

After closing circle, we had the boys retrieve their fresh caramel apples and sent them home.  Another great club night at NVEFC.

dipped apples

Meeting Recap (10/27/2014)

scrabbleLast night was a combined meeting — Christian Service Brigade and Pioneer Girls — for a “Bring a friend to club night

Several of our young men and women responded by bringing friends who have either never been to club or haven’t been to club since last season.

It’s a great way to draw families in for a fun evening of board games and refreshments. (It’s also a little bit easier on the adult leaders, too!)

Perhaps the funniest part of the evening was our attempt to complete a unified closing ceremony where we formed a circle and the boys tried to lead the girls in our benediction, and then the girls tried to lead the boys in their closing song.

Oh well, we had a good laugh, and next week we’ll be back to our normal mode of operation.

Lord, our Savior, Guide and Captain,

Be a stalwart wall around us;

Make of us Stockaders valiant;

Keep us in the name of Jesus, Amen!