Thursday, September 30, 2010

Most of the time?

When is is okay for a child of God to be un-Christ-like? Don't be too quick to answer! Many people seem to believe that there are EXCEPTIONS to the rule of consistency in their walk with God. Yes, we all get angry occasionally, and lose it, which rarely means we exalt Christ in what we say and do during those times. As we grow, however, those times should happen less and less, and the self-control takes over more and more. Still, we're humans and sin is battle we will be involved in until we leave this world.
No, I'm talking about those time in life when we are in complete control, but for some reason, the event or the subject causes folks to forget they represent Jesus. While I'm not into pattern theology, I do believe I see some patterns in human behavior that I can't quite figure out. I've notice three things that seem to cause people to have spiritual dementia on a regular basis.
The first is pride. When personal pride is at stake - not the godly pride of righteous accomplishment, but the haughty pride of self-centeredness - people get testy, combative, unkind, and down right mean. The absence of humility causes some folks to say and do things that they know Jesus would never say or do, but "Hey - you just punched the wrong buttons on me" and somehow that makes it acceptable.
The second is preferences in worship styles. Of course, in the New Testament there is only one worship style and it's a life put on God's altar and totally given to him. I have seen nothing in my many years of church work that causes people to become more un-Christ-like than how folks react to changes in the assembly. They essentially become un-Christ-like about Christ centered things. Go figure! Some of the most unkind and ungodly things that I have heard come out of the mouths of Christians has been because of their expectations and preferences in the assembly not being met, kept, or increased. They are way too focused on the pep rally than they are the game.
The final area is politics. What is there about politics that makes Christians think it's okay to be mean spirited, vicious, unkind, judgemental, and un-Christ-like. I truly am bewildered and personally offended when brethren send me articles, videos, cartoons, and stories that bash our President, call him names, and make charges and accusations that any reasonable person knows Jesus would never make. As I said before, I didn't vote for him, but he is MY PRESIDENT, but more important - it's MY LORD YOU REPRESENT - ALL THE TIME - EVERY WHERE - EVERY DAY!
Don't say "For me to live is Christ" if you only mean it for part of the time. It's all or nothing. That's what a life given to him is all about.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Myth of Multitasking

I have decided that multitasking, which to many is a symbol of productivity, is actually a euphemism for shoddy work, half-hearted results, and lack of focus. It is exalted as "the new work ethic", but in reality it just creates stress, belittles systematic accomplishments, and involves far more motion than quality results. In today's world of "image management," it looks impressive, but the truth is it drops more balls than it juggles, misplaces priorities, lets biscuits burn in the oven, and causes death and destruction on the highways.
Maybe I'm getting older and slower, but I find when I divide my attention by trying to handle multiple things at once, I sacrifice quality, thoughtfulness, and pride of accomplishment. When I slow down and ask myself, "Who am I trying to impress?" or "Do I want this done right or just done?" - I usually realize that what I'm doing needs more focus - and not to mention - more fun. If I take the time to plan and prioritize, then calmly work my way through my "To Do" list, I'm not only more productive, but the results make me happy, as opposed to just feeling relieved it's done.
Life is hectic and stressful, and most of the time I can't do anything about it, other than change the way I choose to perceive it. There are, however, plenty of things I can choose to give my full time and attention to, enjoy the journey, and feel proud of the end product. We need to learn the joy of being focused. If we don't learn, or remember, how to stay focused, how can we truly be seekers of God? Even Jesus pointed out that we can't serve two masters. Satan says we can, and I suspect he'd just call it multitasking.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

They're Back...

We got home safe and sound, and tired, at about mid-day today - Saturday. We took two days to do the seventeen hour drive since we couldn't get away from Meeker, CO until later in the morning Friday. We had to wait for the deer processor to open up so we could pick up Danny's mulie. The above picture is from early Wednesday morning in the draw I was hunting in about midway up the mountain. The spot where I am standing is pretty close to were I arrowed my elk year before last. Not so lucky this year. I saw a lot of elk, got close to several on several occasions, but never had a clear shot. Such is bow hunting. It was a lot of fun - still.
This was a brief rest in our "tour of the ranch" that Kevin and I took the crew on in the middle of the afternoon last Sunday. This is on top of one of the mountain ridges, one we call "Bloody Nose Ridge." (Family will have to ask Uncle Kevin why it's called that.) It's a great spot to see miles and miles of God's beautiful creation. This looks a little like a used ATV park. Boy they're fun to ride around the mountains. Sure beats hiking.

Danny got is first buck with a bow and arrow. It's small for a mulie, but still bigger than most whitetails. It will be good eating for the Younger family. He made a great thirty-two yard shot, while sitting flat on the ground. Must have had a great coach. I'm really proud of him and happy for him. It's always nice to bring something home besides a T-shirt.

Have I mentioned how nice the ATV's are? We tossed it on the back of my Arctic Cat and I took it back to the bunkhouse and loaded it into Rob's pick-up truck.

This are my hunting buddies for this trip. From L to R is Zach Haugh, Rob Leasure, Kevin Haugh, and Danny Younger. Kevin and I have been going to CO to hunt this place since 1986. Why, I was only a kid! I mean, my kids were only kids. Anyway, we've been blessed to have loads of great memories and we added quite a few this year. I am especially happy that Kevin finally got to share a hunt with his son Zach. The one time my son Jonathan got to go with me is till one of my best memories of hunting trips to CO.
God blessed us with fun and safety, and it's good to be home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From Meeker, Colorado

I am using the wireless connection in the Meeker, CO library, so this may be my only chance to do a blog this week. I forgot to bring my camera to town, so I don't have any pictures of the group of guys with me hunting elk this year. We are having a great time. Several times we have really been into the elk, and had a lot of fun chasing them all over the mountains. Nothing has been taken yet, though a couple of arrows have been unsuccessfully flung. The above picture is from my trail camera that I put up Saturday afternoon when we first got here. This early morning picture was taken yesterday and is an area I have been hunting a lot and seeing a lot of elk. Not many mule deer though.
This picture is from Sunday afternoon. We actually jumped these elk up as we road our atv's up the dirt road about 500 yard behind these elk. They just happened to run right by my trail camera. Yes, that is the mouth and tongue of a cow elk just coming into the picture on the right. It was actually a herd of about a dozen elk. Cool! Not as good as meat in the freezer, but cool.
Tomorrow is mine and Danny's last full day of hunting, but Kevin, Zach, and Rob will stay another day and leave on Saturday. We will be driving back to St. Louis early Friday morning and try to drive seventeen hours straight through. If we get too tired, we might stop for the night somewhere and get in early Saturday. It's been a lot of fun to hunt, be with good friends, and see some of God's most beautiful creation. Please keep us all in your prayers for us to have safe travel as we return to the real world. God is good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Time For A Peak Experience - Again

Lord willing, I'll be seeing a sunrise like this again this weekend. This is a picture a took two or three years ago on the property we bow hunt on in Colorado. We leave early tomorrow morning and plan to put in about twelve hours of driving time and then finish off the last five hours Saturday morning. We begin our hunt Saturday evening and hunt through Friday morning before heading back home. Usually, we skip the Friday morning hunt and start back home getting in late that night or early the next morning. That's a lot easier to do when we already have an elk or a mule deer.
Anyway, I'm hoping to post a few pictures and updates about the hunt while we are there, assuming I can find a wireless spot in Meeker, CO. So I'll be out of town but not out of touch - I hope.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Appropriate!

I love words. Duh! I wouldn't be writing a blog if I didn't, but I especially love words that clearly change with time. One such word is "appropriate". In truth, the definition hasn't changed, but the application has changed dramatically over my life time. I makes my heart ache to think of all the wasted energy, strained emotions, and damaged relationships that were part of my high school years because of the battle over what was and wasn't considered appropriate clothing, hair length, and accessories. Yes, we are talking about the late 60's, at a Christian school in deep south Georgia, but it just seemed like every member of the the church (many of whom were connected to the school also) was a self appointed member of the What's Appropriate Committee. Today, many people, young and old, walk into the church building wearing blue jeans, T-shirt, and sandals and no one gives it a second look or thought. Back then, where I was, that was a Tar & Feathering offense. I have so many memories and stories of comments and criticisms from "church folks" about my attire back then that it's amazing that I came away from all that with a passion for preaching. At the very least I've learned that what's appropriate is relative to the times and places we find ourselves.
James slammed the brethren for making distinctions between members and giving preference to the finely dresses wealthy members. The Corinthians were evidently cliquish even to the point of not waiting or sharing the Lord's Supper with those who were poorer or not part of their group. All this in spite of our Lord's clear warnings about judging others and defining them by externals rather than their hearts.
So what is appropriate today? We still have folks who think the assembly is a fashion opportunity, or who have some preconceived notion about what you MUST wear "in the presence of God" on Sunday morning. That's not only a incorrect theology, but a prescription for self-righteousness. We dress for God 24/7! Everything else image management.
I have said for years that the only things that have any bearing on what's appropriate for any Christian anytime, even during the assembly, is modesty and cleanliness. Even that, sometimes, is in the proverbial eye of the beholder. What is always appropriate is kindness, consideration, humility, and tolerance. I know Jesus wasn't a fashion critic, but a heart searcher. If we let looks keep us from learning about the heart of someone, we've stopped being like Jesus. And if we're more concerned about our outer appearance than we are with our inner spirit - well, that's just spiritually inappropriate.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Lone Stove State

We left Dallas, TX at 5:40 P.M. Saturday evening and it was 100 degrees with high humidity from the flooding rain they had received that week. When we landed at St. Louis, we stepped out into a cool 79 degree low humidity evening and signed, "It's good to be back home." Now before the TX folks get riled up, the good thing is we were talking about the weather - not the state of the Lord's church in Dallas. That morning it was my great pleasure to do a four hour workshop/conference for the shepherds, their wives, and the staff of the Highland Oaks Church of Christ. It was a wonderful experience, and I'm not talking about the quality of the teaching they got. What a wonderful group of spiritual leaders! I was so impressed with the obvious love they had for one another and, most of all, their passion for wanting to truly be the kind of shepherds and ministers that the church family needs. The series of training sessions that they've all gone through to help the new and existing shepherds prepare for honest shepherding, is absolutely amazing. It's great to have a desire to change, grow, and follow a more people oriented path of leadership, but it's not ofter that I've seen that kind of effort and training put into learning how to do it.
This is a great church, doing some great things, and I can't wait to see how God blesses them. We are so happy that Pat and Deborah (our son-in-law and daughter) are working with such a wonderful group and being loved so completely by everyone we talked to. They have an impressive facility, but more import, they have an impressive plan to help every member develop a deeper relationship with Jesus - and that's what church is all about.
I was blessed to be with them and do something that I hoped helped. If you're ever passing through the north side of Dallas on Sunday, stop by and visit with these good brethren. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Trail Camera

These are some REAL trail camera pictures. I put it up at my hunting spot in IL week before last, and left it up there for about ten days. I got it on Monday so I could take it to CO with me next week. I got some interesting pictures of does, bucks, raccoons, and, I think, some turkeys. The above buck is on several. He's young, and safe, at least from me. The tree my hunting stand is in is straight across the opening that he is looking at. Fifteen yards away. Pretty buck and still in velvet.
There were several pictures of raccoons. Notice the time on the right side. That's late afternoon but there were several night time pics.

Just at dark this nice buck showed up. There are several of him, but the night pics are harder to see. It's neat to not only see the critters, but to know exactly when they come through.

This was a mom and fawn that walked down the trail right beside the camera. This was the best one of the fawn.

He's getting an early start on his/her night time feeding. There were a lot of pics at night with nothing on them but vegetation and a few blurs. I think night birds or bats set it off. It's been fun already. I can't wait to use it during the hunting season to see what's moving at my hunting spots. Hopefully I'll get some nice pics in CO.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I Want It NOW!

I took this picture on Saturday as part of our rejoicing to finally have our driveway back, along with access to our garage. The County workers had put a note on our door warning us that our driveway would be blocked for up to seven days for road construction, but I guess that didn't count the driveway construction. We were blocked for two weeks. It really wasn't that bad except for Sunday evenings when our young adult One Another Group was meeting and they had to park a good ways away and walk a little rather than be right out front. But hey, they're all young and didn't think anything about it.
Did you ever think about the fact that being patient is just a theory until you HAVE to have it? It's easy to think of yourself as a patient person when everything is going smoothly and life is virtually stress free. An old Rootism of mine is "Red traffic lights are great when you're eating a DQ Blizzard." It's all a matter of perspective, or maybe more accurately, involvement. I know I am a lot more patient than I have been in the past, but just about the time I start feeling like I've got this baby conquered, I get smacked in the fact with my intolerance. It doesn't happen often. There is this genetic reality in the Root clan about what being hungry and tired does to some of our attitudes some of the time, but that has even diminished with age - at least for this Root.
We are the Captains of our own ship when it comes to smooth sailing in life. Impatience is a result of stress. Stress is a perceived lack of control. We decide whether or not we really need to be in control to begin with. Most of the things that stress us out and cause us to be impatient, really don't matter. Paul told us to be anxious about nothing and pray about everything. Boy, have we ever twisted that one around! But if you remember, the "peace that passes understanding" doesn't arrive until we get it right. (Philippians 4)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Skin & Bath?

Sorry, this is mostly for family. I understand if you don't feel inspired. Above, I mentioned to the kids a couple months ago that I saw a large Black Snake crawling in my front yard early one morning. I watched it slither under our front porch, and it was a chore since it had a huge lump from a recently eaten critter in its stomach and had to try a couple times before getting under it. Any way, I haven't seen it since, which is fine, since it was about three and a half to four feet long. While pulling weeds and trimming bushes this morning, I found this snake skin in the bushes just behind where I'm standing. He's still around, just with a new set of clothes.
Far more important than any snake skin is the fact that we finished the upstairs guest bath remodeling project this afternoon. We are really pleased with how it came out. If you don't know how it looked before, it may not mean much to you, but all our family will be glad to see the improvement.

That is one of those curved shower rods. Lot's more room now.

A touch of class! It is a square sink too. Wild isn't it?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

To Go Or Not To Go?

I have written this blog before, but it's worth saying again - at least to me it is. From September through May, on the first Thursday of each month, I try to attend our area preacher's meeting. Without fail, I always find myself considering not going because I have things to do, a schedule to keep, and a shrinking week in front of me. But I go, usually reminding myself how nice it is to see good friends, share some things, have a good lunch together, and, just maybe, I might be a source of encouragement to just one of my fellow partners in the Gospel.
I don't know why, but there is just something about hearing a bunch of guys, not especially good and certainly with little harmony, sing some praise songs together. It has to be from the heart, because we don't care about sounding pretty. And then to pray together, often after sharing one-on-one, our joys and challenges in ministry and life. Then, we usually spend some time discussing some meaningful topic that each of us would rather be preaching about, but nevertheless - is always helpful.
These are good men, and it's encouraging to be with them and to share our weird world with one another. These brothers walk with God, love their church families, and live to see brothers and sisters grow in Christ. They're not "big names" in the brotherhood, or keynote speakers at University lectureships, and no one is a well know author or in demand as an after dinner speaker, though they are - at times - some of the funniest guys I know. Every time I go to our meetings, I'm just reminded that all over the world, there are thousands of servants of God working with average church families, making a difference, and just glorifying our Father with their passion for His people and His plan.
WAIT A SECOND! You don't suppose that God intended for us to get together so that we could encourage and be encouraged? Sounds like a wild idea to me.
A big thanks to all my preaching Brothers.