Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Family Time

It's back to the routine again, after an incredible week with family. "Incredible"? I've been chewing on the thought that we have become a people in search of superlatives - but that will have to wait until the next blog. Right now I wanted to share some additional pics from last week while the experience is still fresh on our minds.
If you look real closely at the above picture you will see tiny blurs of snow flakes falling. See the blurs off to the left? It was neat to have a beautiful snow fall for just a short time last week. We had a little of everything with sunny and 70 on Monday, rain storms, dropping temps, snow, and cold sunny winter-like day's on Friday and Saturday.

Again, if you look hard you can see the snow flakes that Curtis, Ashlyn, and Caleb are trying to enjoy.

This looks exactly like the earlier picture of Joshua in my double tree stand, but it's Chad and his oldest Carter, settling in for an evening hunt. Carter did really well. It was cold and windy and the deer weren't moving much, but they still saw a buck way up the hill directly in front of them. I was about forty yards away in another stand, and I saw five does, who all stayed a long way from my effective range with a bow.

This is a better zoom in picture. Carter had his camo on and was really excited about going on his first hunt with his Dad and Papa. I really think there is something special that happens when kids spend time in the woods with their Dad, or Mom. There is something about appreciating nature and God's handiwork, and learning patience and enjoying time to think and meditate, and having stories of things seen and experienced that - well, it bonds you like nothing else. If I had to do it all over again with my three, I'd have taken them with me a lot more than I did. It's a lot harder when your day off is a school day, but I'd still like a few more memories of having them with me. Back then, we never even thought about taking daughters hunting, so I only took Jonathan with me, but today, the largest group of new people coming into bowhunting is girls/women. The new bows are so much easier to learn how to use, and the ladies are proving to be excellent bowhunters.
So, maybe next year Ashlyn will go hunting? They do have pink bows now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Favorite Holiday!

I hope that you are having a great Thanksgiving. We are really enjoying having ALL of our family here this year for the first Thanksgiving we've had together since the year before we left TN. We moved six years ago, but it was seven Thanksgivings ago that we were last together for this special holiday. Lots of food, fun, and just being together. I got to take our oldest grandson, Joshua, on his first hunting trip Tuesday afternoon. He wasn't hunting, just seeing what it is like. I got this two man stand last Summer just so I could start taking our grand kids with me, so they could see if it was something they might like to learn how to do.

It was a beautiful day, but it was a little chilly. Joshua was cold within 45 minutes, but fortunately I had my heavy fleece coat on my backpack and I used it to wrap him up and keep him warm. We didn't have any deer come right by us, but we did get to see a nice 8 or 10 point buck about sixty yards away. He was big and pretty. I told Joshua, a lot of hunters go hunting for years and never see a deer that nice and he got to see one on his first trip. I know, I've had years like that.

It rained all day yesterday (Wed.), so we took the grand kids over to the church building and let them run around while Chad and Pat helped me move chairs around. We had a wonderful area-wide Praise Service Sunday night, and we had put all our extra chairs in the auditorium. We needed to set up a couple adult classes that use the same chairs, and stack some up in the back so we wouldn't have too many seats for our normal Sunday morning assembly. Once the chairs were moved, we got to toss a football around a little, and just let them burn off some energy that couldn't be burned off in our house - with fifteen people in it.

These two smaller pictures are ones that Pat took with his phone camera.
It sure was nice to have some extra muscle with me to move all those chairs. After all the food we've been eating, we needed the exercise as badly as the kids did. Speaking of food...it's about time for our Thanksgiving dinner. There may be some additional pictures later.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"It's Not Easy To Stay In Love!"

Since I told some folks that I'd share the following from last Sunday's lesson on my blog, here are the ten "SIGNS" I mentioned in my introduction to illustrate that "It's not easy to stay in love."
1. Did you think you were "falling" in love and found out that you only tripped?
2. Did your spouse offer you the moon, and all you got was an RC and a Moon Pie?
3. Did he promise you precious jewels and it turned out to be Lucky Charms for breakfast?
4. Did your Prince Charming end up being one of the Seven Dwarfs in a suit?
5. Did your "Message in a Bottle" come from Anheuser Busch?
6. Did your "Sleeping Beauty" wake up and start flying a broom?
7. Has your George Clooney turned into Loony Tuney?
8. Did she say she'd worship you, but all you've gotten are burnt offerings?
10. Did you marry a Mac Truck that was disguised as a Mini Cooper?
All this to help me set up the point: Love is the vehicle that takes us to God!
Really! I was able to make the connection!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Doesn't Have To Be Tough!

We have been so excited as we look forward to having all of our family together for Thanksgiving for the first time since we left TN six years ago. I was reflecting on that as I did my walking this morning and I found myself thinking about how close we are to having grandchildren becoming teenagers. It truly does seem like yesterday when our three were going through their teenage years. They were wonderful years, and we have nothing but great memories as a family when we think back over those times. Unfortunately, many families go through some pretty tough years of conflict, rebellion, and stress. For a lot of teens, those transition years are traumatic and, in some cases, life altering.
Why are the teen years so difficult? It's the time in our life when some major things merge, or maybe crash, together. Three things are impacting the teen brain: the desire for independence, the desperate need for acceptance and affirmation, and the discovery of desires, experiences, and challenges not available previously. Any young person, who doesn't have a good foundation of character, self-control, and self-esteem, will have a serious struggle on their hands as they try to walk through the mine-field of peer pressure, decision making, and temptations.
Healthy parenting is still the best hope for preparing any youngster for those tough years. The right kind of parenting provides the balance and the merging of self-control and self-esteem. All parental discipline is, or should be, about helping a child move from parent control to self-control, because it's in those teen years that the parent won't always be around. However, if the parenting is just about parent control, and it isn't building self-esteem along with the proper discipline, that parental control will simply be replaced by peer control and the absence of self-control.
When parental control is driven by parent comfort, the need for peace, frustration, or just being in charge, and there is little or no building of self-worth or of significance and confidence in the child, that child will not be ready or capable of resisting the three brain attackers mentioned above. When parenting provides lots of love, clear direction, and consistent discipline, that new teenager will feel good enough about himself or herself to "Just Say NO" to anything they need to resist.
No one ever said it was easy being a parent. In fact, next to your own walk with God and maintaining a healthy marriage, it is the most important thing any of us will ever do - and we only get one chance to do it right!
I'm excited, if the Lord lets me hang around that long, about seeing my grand children become teenagers. They have incredible parents - no brag, just fact - and I know they will all have a wonderful time through all those challenging years. We did, and I thank God for it often.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let Me Introduce You To God...

Not only do most of us have a difficult time understanding and grappling with God's love - agape' - but that means we struggle with knowing God too, because "God is love." What does that mean? How is God love? What does that tell us about him?
In all my years of studying and preaching on 1 Corinthians 13, I discovered something in studying it last week that thrills me to my soul, but also has me thinking, "Why didn't you think of that a long time ago?" Maybe I did, and I forgot. Maybe it hasn't been as important to me in the past as it is at this place in my life. Here's the point. 1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter (though 1 John 4 is too), but the description of love given by Paul in verses 4-8 is the most detailed and applicable account in the Bible. Isn't a description of love a description of God?
What does it say to you to read that passage like this?
God is patient, God is kind, God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.
Wow! If that doesn't help you know a little more about God nothing will. Maybe we should quit calling it The Great Love Chapter and start calling it The Great God Chapter.
Now go back and put you name in each spot where God is mentioned. That's called god-li-ness!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Jonathan has been doing some really funny videos on YouTube. Check out YouTube RootDownStupidity'sChannel. They're all funny, but the last one "Not a Christmas Song" is really funny.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Warning: Dead Critter!

It has been three years, but I finally got another nice IL buck this morning. It was so beautiful outside. The temperature was mild, the leaves were raining down giving a yellow cast to everything, and I'd just had the thought, "It's wonderful to be out here even if I don't see the big boy," and then he just walked right in like he'd read the script. My stand, and the spot I shot this big guy, is just over my shoulder in this picture, about forty yards down the hill. It was nice that my good-buddy-land-owner, who left work to come help me haul this heavy guy out, was able to drive right up to this fence on a neighbor's property. To say I was excited is an understatement, but I guess to those who know me, it's hard to imagine seeing me TOO excited about anything. Well, this was it, and I am very thankful for the successful hunt - and even the new taxidermy bill we'll have.
He came by at 8:15 in the morning. I watched him do a lip-curl - checking for does - before he walked straight across the clearing in front of me some fifteen yards away. After the shot, he circled right behind me and dropped on the top just five yards from the fence, just a couple yards from where the picture below was taken. How's that for being cooperative? He is a twelve pointer even though his G4 on his left side is broken and only an inch and a half long. He has a curled kicker point on both G2's, but it's hard to see the left one, and his right brow tine looks like a can opener. Lots of character. He's a beauty. So now I only have doe tags in IL and the land owner said he'd like to see us take about fifteen of them. I wish! I'd settle for a couple during Thanksgiving week - who knows...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Inny or Outty?

If your church/congregation is trying to grow, and who doesn't want to do that, and you attempt to objectively determine what is hampering your growth, you will at some point - whether it's a member, minister, or "church growth expert" you bring in to help - hear some form of the following comment, "Our problem is that we are too inwardly focused and we need to be more outwardly focused on serving and evangelising others." If that is said in the right spirit, how can anyone argue with that logic? Of course more involvement in unselfish acts of benevolence and soul saving is not only good for the church, but these are things that God wants us to do.
I have to ask, however, are we really TOO inwardly focused? Does your church have too much fellowship, too much compassion and caring for one another, and too much togetherness? Now, if you are talking about TOO much attention on THE assembly, or TOO much fussing about "What I want," or TOO much self-centeredness in TOO many people - YES, YES, YES - you are TOO inwardly focused. On the other hand, if you talking about a family of God's people growing in love, responding to one another's needs, building one another up, and using time together to truly help one another draw closer to Jesus - call me simplistic, but isn't that why God wanted his people to get together? Read Paul's letters again and ask yourself how much of his writing was about children of God growing in Christ, growing in love for one another, and challenging them to focus on unity, the body, and love. I guess Corinth, Rome, Philippi, and the other places he wrote to were not focused enough inwardly.
And here's another question to consider, if you challenge people to be outwardly focused, but you haven't provided them with the inward motivation, support, and spiritual maturity to do it, should you be surprised if it doesn't happen? Maybe the problem isn't about being more outwardly focused, but about providing the correct inward focus. Remember, the New Testament is very clear about why God wants his people to get together. (Eph.4:12 equip/prepare; Heb.10:25 encourage; 1 Cor.14:26 edify/strengthen; add all the one another passages)
A question I hope to answer this Sunday is: With all the serious problems the church in Corinth had, what did Paul challenge them to do to solve it? Did he call for more inward focus or say that more outward effort would cure their problems?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Sad Hunting Story

Talk about making a bad choice, I had planned to take off part of the day yesterday to go hunting. We had a full schedule of events on Saturday, so I wanted to get in another hunt this week. I couldn't decide whether to make it a morning or an evening hunt. When I woke up at 4:30 AM, I thought about it for a few seconds and decided that an evening hunt would be better. It really wasn't a sleep issue but more a "I need to do a couple of things at the office" line of thought. When I got to my stand yesterday afternoon, at about 3:00 PM, I checked my trail camera to decide if I was going to hunt there or move my stand to a new location. Ugh! The picture below was taken by my camera at 9:34 AM. It's not the best picture in the world, but the camera is only five yards to the left of my stand. This huge IL buck is walking right down the trail at fifteen yards. He's at least a huge ten point, big bodied buck on the prowl for does. How do I know? You'd never see this big boy out at nine-thirty in the morning if he wasn't looking for love. Oh well, at least I know he's there. He was one of five different bucks on my camera, all passing by between 8:30 and 12:30. And where was I??????

Thursday, November 04, 2010

My Rules for Preaching

I was my turn to lead the discussion for today's monthly Preacher's meeting. I had agreed, and was assigned the topic of Preaching and Teaching, as we look at a different element of ministry each month. As I told the guys, talking about preaching to a bunch of preachers is packed with potential problems as every preacher has strong feelings about how and why they do what they do. So, I just decided to start making a list of, what I called, My Rules for Preaching and Teaching. I thought I'd put together ten - a good, solid, and biblical number, but I ended up with twenty, and it would have been more if I had allowed myself to keep doing it.
For the sake of any preaching buddies out there, and the guys who didn't take notes this morning, here is my list - in no special order and certainly not by priority.
1. Never preach anything you haven't first internalized and struggled with personally. Your lesson should be an extension of your private devotional life.
2. Always have a clear and stated objective. I always have a Bottom Line statement - for me - at the top of every lesson.
3. Stay true to your non-negotiables. Mine have always been - every lesson must be biblical, logical, & simple.
4. Represent God, Jesus, and the Word accurately. Never get in the way of people seeing Jesus.
5. Never talk down or condescendingly to your church family.
6. Don't expect huge changes, but guide them toward baby steps. Be patient.
7. Always make it clear that you are on a journey together. It's about "us" not "you".
8. In teaching, remember there are no wrong comments or answers from students. Make it fit, or you'll never get another response.
9. No matter what the point is - explain, illustrate, and apply!
10. Capture attention - don't demand it!
11. Make people think! You don't have to provide ALL the answers.
12. Stay fresh or leave soon!
13. Preach from the overflow not the scraps!
14. You can say anything - if they know you love them and they love you back!
15. Mid-week marvels are better than Saturday night specials!
16. Consider destroying your sermon file regularly - at least ignore it!
17. Be real - be honest - be open!
18. Feed your spirit! Read, go to things, find a mentor!
19. Find a hobby that lets you REALLY get away from church stuff!
20. All the talent and all the admiration of brethren can't replace the power of a vibrant prayer life with God.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Stacked Forgiveness

As I've mentioned before, I really don't like to re-preach my Sunday lesson on my blog, but since our web page is under construction and the online lessons aren't available, AND I truly feel these points are important and need to be remembered by every child of God - I want to share them with those of you who would appreciate them. Wow! Was that a long sentence or what?
The lesson was about forgiveness, and these points to remember are about understanding the nature of forgiveness. It's vital for at least two reasons: One, forgiveness is an integral part of God's love, and two, ignoring or forgetting about forgiveness may be the single biggest obstacle to our walk with God. Forgiven people forgive people! Our love for God IS our awareness of what being forgiven by him means. (See 2 Pet.1:3-10 & Rom.8:1)
Here is a stacking system that I came up with to help me remember these points about forgiveness. Maybe they will be of help to you too.
Visualize the scales of Justice - then on top of that visualize a band aid - on top of that a broken heart - on top of that a Cross - on top of that a red traffic light - and the last thing is a clean slate (a clean black board). Picture this stack in your head. Now, what do they stand for?
1. The scales of Justice = Forgiveness doesn't remove guilt! When you forgive, you don't let anyone off the hook, you're refusing to let what they did make you bitter. Bitterness doesn't punish anyone but you and those you love.
2. The band aid = Forgiveness doesn't remove hurt! That's not the point of doing it - though it does begin the process. Jesus forgave while still on the cross - the hurt didn't stop.
3. The broken heart = Forgiveness doesn't heal relationships! It makes it possible if the goal is reconciliation, but THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT FORGIVENESS THAT MEANS YOU MUST HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ONE FORGIVEN. Trust takes time and track record to rebuild - and a desire to rebuild it.
4. The Cross = Forgiveness has nothing to do with deserving it, but everything to do with grace! Needs no explanation!
5. The red traffic light = Forgiveness is essential to our forgiveness. STOP - when you feel tempted to not forgive! We are only forgiven if we forgive! Grace is given to be given!
6. The clean slate = Forgiveness is an essential part of love! Our sins are forgiven (clean slate) because God loved us so much he sent Jesus to died for us. We must have the same kind of love.
Maybe if we can remember these, it will help us be a little quicker to forgive instead of looking for a rationale to hang on to anger, bitterness, and malice.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph.4:32