Monday, September 29, 2008

All Kinds of Construction

As I write this, a friend from church is replacing our back door. Like most home improvement tasks, this one had complications too. The boards under the old back door where rotten from water leaks. Fortunately, it's only the front outer board that attaches to the floor supports. Anyway, he's an expert and he will "make things all new." I refuse to waste time thinking about the losses and the destruction some selfish kids brought upon our house. We've just had a wonderful weekend - full of answered prayers and things to praise God for.
We had a shepherd's retreat all day Saturday. All nineteen shepherds, along with Jerry and I, met to map out how we can best function as a leadership to get the job done at Florissant. We ended the day with everyone coming to our house for dinner and some special sharing time. (Yes, that's 42 for dinner. See previous blogs ref. finished basement. PTL!)
When I told friends that we were installing twelve additional elders, they grimaced and couldn't believe we'd do such a thing. When I explained that we installed shepherds not CEO's, they understood. I am so thrilled to work with this wonderful group of men. They are humble, people oriented, sensitive, loving, and passionate about helping people develop a deeper relationship with Jesus. I am absolutely excited about what God is going to do through this wonderful group of spiritual leaders.
To those of you who read this and have sour feelings about past church leadership (or present), please be encouraged to know that there are men out there who just want to serve God and help his people grow. With nineteen godly men purposefully encouraging, guiding, and connecting with EVERY member - HOW CAN GREAT THINGS NOT HAPPEN? I can't wait to see what he's going to do! What I pray about for our church family more than anything else is that we will look for spiritual maturing - people growing in Jesus - and quit looking for the things that the world says is "church growth". With this many men and women, committed to changing lives, God will give the increase as more and more members develop a passion for being like Jesus and sharing him with others. After all, He is the Door!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hunting Wonders

As mentioned earlier, I don't believe in Murphy's Law. I don't even know if it's spelled with an "f" or a "ph" - and I don't care. It's a negative - pessimistic way to look at life. However, the belief that "what can go wrong will go wrong" is the heart & soul of defensive driving. Never assume the other person is going to do what they are supposed to do. That's why great drivers still have accidents.
That being said, I still can't help but wonder why so many things seem to consistently "go wrong" on a hunting trip. For instance, why did I KNOW that if I bought a "cow elk only" hunting tag, I'd be surrounded by giant bull elks? I wonder...
Here are some additional HUNTING WONDERS: (penned in my journal while in Colorado)
* Why do I glass the same rocks every year? (To the ignorant, mule deer have bright tan tails that show up long before the rest of the deer can be seen.)
* Why is there a bird that makes a call that sounds, especially while your walking, an awful lot like a cow elk mew? (You must stop, listen carefully, w/ heart racing, only to find out...)
* Why do cows (beef type) always see me when I'm totally camouflaged in a blind or stand?
* Why does the pond I'm hunting always seem to be a cow hang out?
* Why can't they make insulated underwear that disappears when you start climbing the first mountain of the morning?
* Why can't the herd of elk you're stalking all face the same direction?
* Why is there no strait trails through sage brush?
* Why does Nature have to call at 7:30 A.M. during an uphill dash to get ahead of some elk?
* Why do barbed wire gates shrink from the time you open them and when you close them?
* Why do I have more T-shirts with Meeker, Colorado on them then I do pictures of arrowed animals?
* Why so many whys?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Whale of a Gift

Isn't this incredible? This is part of the several gifts the cast and crew of Jonah presented to me for being their "Dictator" for the play. It was commissioned to be done by the award winning wildlife artist Mike McKelvey. It's a wood carving, in case you couldn't tell because of the colors, and it's the logo from the play. It just came in last week and Jerry presented it to me before I got up to preach last Sunday. They had told me it was coming back when we had our cast party in June, the week after the play, but I had no idea how what an amazing piece of art it would be. It is so beautiful. This artist has won loads of awards for his carvings of fish, ducks, turkeys, and other critters, but I'll bet this was his first whale. I understand that it was especially hard because the logo was more cartoon oriented rather than real-life, but he did a marvelous job. Needless to say, I am very humbled and thankful. The greatest joy of the whole experience - creating, writing, casting, set design, directing, etc., is just getting to share so much with so many wonderful brothers and sisters. There is nothing like working hard with those you love, on a joint adventure, and seeing it blessed so much by God. I don't know how many of them read my blog, but if you're one of them, thanks again for the beautiful gift, and thanks again for being part of our attempt to share a story from God's Word. Have I said it enough? God is good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mountain Top Experience - Again

Can you believe this is a rest stop? It's smack in the middle of the Rockies on I-70 just before Vail. It was breath-taking and cold. At this point, Danny and I are about 2 to 3 hours from Meeker, CO and the start of our elk & mule deer hunt. This year I determined to buy a "cow elk only tag" because in the past, I've always purchased the "either sex" (bull or cow) tag, at a much higher price, and always got so fixed on hunting the bull elks that I didn't take shots at cows - and bring home some meat! I don't like to believe in Murphy's Law, but I do think it applies in defensive driving and in hunting. With my "cow only" tag, I was in the middle of six huge bulls - like I've never been before. One was the largest bull elk I've ever seen in twenty plus years of hunting this property. One (a huge 5x5) even stood at twenty-five yards broadside and never knew I was there. Temptation? Never - just amazement. Seconds later this large cow elk crossed in front of me at about fifteen yards. The shot was high and there was no blood trail, but it didn't matter since she dropped in her tracks just forty yards away - exactly where I'm holding her.

It doesn't look like it here, but she is huge. I couldn't even roll her over and begin the field dressing by myself. I had to go for help.

It took the three of us a long time to muscle her into the back of Darryl's Polaris. She was, I guess, about 400 pounds pre-field dressing. Praise the Lord, we have a freezer full of awesome meat. Elk is soooo much sweeter than venison and even has less fat per grams than venison - like I care!
This is for Kevin and Brian, who couldn't go with us. The ranch is still there, but - are you ready for this - Sleepy Cat has closed! Sad, I know, but Cary's Steakhouse is still there and it has awesome hamburgers.
Thank God for safe travel and a wonderful week in His special playground. Unfortunately, we came home to find out our house had be broken into, messed up, and several things stolen. Just stuff. I feel sad for the kids who did it. They're headed in a painful direction.
God is good and I'm thankful that we got to enjoy another great week of hunting and Donna got to spend some time with all the crew in Nashville.
Now - bow season is open in Missouri and it opens in IL next week. Life is good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On The Road Again

This is a picture from last years hunting trip to Colorado. Well, we leave in the morning for this years trip. Hopefully I'll have some new pictures with some critters on the ground, but like I tell most people, if you have to come home with meat, you shouldn't hunt with a bow and arrow. I love the challenge and I'd rather come home without something for the freezer than use any other kind of hunting weapon.
So, there won't be an blogs for the next week. Donna is with all our crew in Nashville, and I am envious even though I'm going hunting. We both are getting a break. I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun with my hunting buddy, Danny Younger, and spending some quiet time in a blind and/or stand. I get to do a lot of communing with my Father, and that's always good.
Keep us in your prayers. It's a seventeen hour road trip each way. God bless.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Special Moments

I didn't preach a normal sermon yesterday, but it was still one of the most exciting and encouraging Sunday mornings I've ever been part of. We spent the entire sermon time installing twelve additional shepherds and reaffirming the existing seven. All nineteen brothers accepted the charge to serve and to be examples of the Great Shepherd to each member of the Florissant family. The above picture is when the existing shepherds, minus Ken Fester attending his daughters wedding in California, where called to the front as we thanked God for sending us spiritual leaders past and present. These are all men that I love a respect and feel blessed to be able to work with.
This is the whole group. I shared some scriptures about shepherding and submitting to our shepherds, I read the Shepherds Covenant, and then read the Charge to the Shepherds - asking them to say "I do" if they accepted it. I then had the congregation stand and I read a charge to the Family and asked them to say "I do" if they accepted the charge. After that, we presented each shepherd with a basin and towel as a reminder that they are servants just as Jesus was. The basin and towels were delivered to them by someone they've served - like a spouse, child, or grandchild.

This is part of the group that delivered the basin and towel.

This was a total surprise to the shepherds and there were a lot of tears, smiles, and hugs.

I asked the congregation to come down and lay their hands on the men who will be laying hands on them in the future. I don't understand all the reasons why they did it in Bible times, but I believe there is something special about touching and praying as you call on God's help and guidance.
I am truly excited about what this can mean for us as a congregation. We now have the number of spiritual leaders to truly touch, mentor, and care for every individual in the family. Nineteen elders is not about increasing our number of decision makers but increasing our shepherding. We want everyone connected to the family - growing in love - and deepening their relationship with Jesus. Anything is just playing church. These are all wonderful brothers who represent a wonderful cross-section of our church family. Most of all, they really want to be servants. How can you keep good things from happening when you have those kind of leaders?
God is good!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Passion Over Paycheck

Teaching a class on 1 Corinthians 9 is a true "double edged sword." It's nice to point out to everyone how clearly Paul taught that those in full time ministry should be financially supported by those they serve. He doesn't just make the point in passing, he used multiple illustrations to pound home his right to expect support. "If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?" (vs.11) Just in case his logic isn't proof enough he adds, "...the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel." (vs.14) Preach on Paul!

The other side of the sword is the "ouch" part. He didn't want them to pay him and he never let them. This speaks to passion over paycheck. "I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (vs.16) It's not a job but a journey, a calling, a mission, a life of devotion to the One who devoted His life for us! But I like getting a salary, and my brethren have always been wonderful about taking care of me and my family. I think I've asked for a raise one time in thirty-five years and that was decades ago. I've never moved to increase my salary. So, how-much-am-I-compelled-to-preach??? Regardless of the "material harvest" I reap?

I believe it's total - but I don't want to have to find out. I know that I will never do anything to hurt the body of Christ. I plan to preach until my last breath is expelled from my lungs. I won't compromise the truth to protect my income. I am thankful to be blessed with financial support for my ministry, but it must not control me, drive me, and define me.

I was stunned by something Paul said in chapter 9 that I hadn't paid much attention to before. After clearly declaring his right to reap - he said, "But we did not use this right." Get this, "On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ." (vs.12) Anything? Yes, even a well deserved salary. Ouch - again. Ministry without integrity is mercenary. Ministry with integrity is - well, what it's supposed to be. I must be willing to do "anything rather than hinder the gospel." That's my plan - and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My President

Yes, I'm "old fashion" when it comes to my President. The words "old fashion" and Mike Root are rarely ever put together - at least in my mind. But when it comes to my President, I'm very old fashioned about being loyal, supportive, bi-partisan, and proud. I don't like the attack mentality that has permeated our media and society since the Nixon years. I WANT to believe the best about MY President no matter how much I disagree with a specific decision or course of action he may take. He's the leader of my country! He represents us, the greatest nation to ever exist on this planet, and he deserves our respect and support. When we let our petty politics and personal preferences override our pride for our country and our loyalty to our leader - yes it's our right, but it also just make us look like the spoiled, ungrateful, and bully nation the rest of the world thinks we are. I refuse to let the news media make me a cynic! I refuse to let the political speculators sell me their negative, depression, suspicious way of thinking! And I also refuse to let "Holly-Weird" industry make me feel like a victim who is entitled to government hand-outs, tax-free living, and cheap liberty!
I can not vote for any party that says ending a babies life is okay and simply a matter of choice. It can't be just another side issue for anyone who believes God loves those little lives. That being said, I like both candidates and their running mates. I don't agree with every policy of either one. I believe they are both some of the classiest men we've had running for the chief office in a long time. I will be proud and supportive of whoever gets to the the Oval Office. In spite of what the News people and the partisan myopic say, they will no longer be a Democrat or a Republican to me, they will be my President, and I will pray for God to help them and guide them as they lead us.
There ya go! That's my political comment for the year. Father, give us leaders who listen to You!