Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From Mickey Land

We are in the middle of our vacation with family at Disney World. I brought my iPad thinking I could do anything with it that I could do with my lap top, but I was wrong. I posted the previous pics yesterday, but my iPad wouldn't let me do any typing on it. Those pics are from my trail cams from last Friday. You really have to click on them and enlarge them to see the deer clearly. Especially the first one because my camera is angled up too much, so I only got the top of his head and it's a little dark. And the last one is a true monster. I heard one was shot by a bowhunter that was a real trophy class animal and I assumed it was this one, but I found out later that it had been shot before this pic was taken. So it's still out there. ALRIGHT!
Anyway, we are having fun and staying busy. Don't know when the next blog will be posted. We'll be home Friday night, so not too far away. Now it's on to the next Mickey sighting. Boy, talk about new and exciting pics...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Cat's Meow?

My brother sent me a bunch of these funny animal pictures, but I especially like this one. I think it brought back memories of our last cat EE, who died about nine or ten years ago. He sang a lot, and he was black, but I'd say he was a baritone not a soprano.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sleepless In Suburbia

Something I used just briefly in the Introduction to last Sunday's lesson was the question, "What keeps you awake at night?" I called it a Focus Question because I wanted us to focus on our passions, concerns, or drives, and I feel that this is a question that causes us to honestly see what really goes on in our hearts. Most people lay awake at night worrying about one or more of the Big Three - money, family, & health. In past years I have done my share of staring at the ceiling as it if were the "mirror, mirror on the wall." For the record, it has never given me an answer or helped out in any way, shape, or fashion.
A lot of sleepless ceiling watching comes with life's changes and varies with where we are at that time of life. Like when you're young and you discover for the first time that credit cards are a two edged sword, or when your children are sick or struggling or going through a life change of their own. And then there are those years when your teenage kids want to be with people you don't know, go places you're not sure about, and stay out later than you want them to. No one knows the anxiety of laying in bed late at night waiting to hear them come in the front door unless they've been a parent. Their time will come - and then they'll "get it".
The bottom line for asking the question is to simply challenge us all to ask, "When was the last time I laid awake at night because of concerns about spiritual matters?" When do you worry about your walk with God? Do you have worries about the souls of your loved ones? Have you ever lost sleep thinking about your church family? Remember Paul's list of experiences and sufferings as an apostle and a missionary in 2 Corinthians 11? Wow! Beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, and near-death experiences galore - and on top of that, he added his constant concern for all the churches! I think many would consider that unnecessary baggage. He didn't. Jesus didn't, when he paid for his church with his blood and called it his body.
Maybe it's a sign of getting old, but I don't lay awake a night worrying about the "Big Three." Reflux - yes, but money, family, and health - no. I do worry about whether or not I am doing all I can to help people grow in Christ. Even then, what is different from years past is that I'm not ruminating in the darkness buying guilt that Jesus already paid for. I'm talking about it with God. I found that when I do that, I not only tend to find some answers, but I find peace, and perspective, and often...sleep.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trail Cam Wild Life

Nice buck. You may have to click on the pic to get a close up of his rack. This is a new (and cheaper) trail camera, so the pics aren't as clear. This is in the newly cut corn field at the stand where I got a nice ten pointer a few years ago and where Chad shot his first deer w/ a bow. I now have my two person stand there just waiting for a grand-kiddo to go hunting w/ me. Notice what time of day it is at the bottom of the pic. That's another reason it's not easy to get one of these big boys.

Nice little buck - just before shooting light - of course.

It is almost thanksgiving - and me w/ no IL tag.

Masked bandit?

Now we're talking REAL wildlife!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Go Cards!

Okay, I'm not exactly a fanatical fan of the Cards, but we have gone to several games and we watch most of the rest of them on TV. We've watched enough games - and seen them in person - that we feel like we know most of the players personally - which of course, we don't. Nevertheless, we are excited about the play-offs. It has be great watching them come back from being so far out that all the news people had written them off - and of course the are all now saying they never did that. Well, we're cheering for our team and hoping they will make it to the World Series - hopefully against the Texas Rangers.

Albert is a neat guy. He's one of those players you nearly find yourself praying for just because you want a good guy to do a good job. I appreciate his spiritual convictions and the great job he does of being a role model. We don't see a lot of today's professions doing a very good job of that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Communioin for kids?

When Paul told us that the law was "a tutor to bring us unto Christ" he was not only talking about the temporary nature of the law, but the teaching purpose of the law. The law was pointing to and showing the need for Jesus. The law could only reveal sin. It never was intended to save anyone, but rather to show the need for Jesus and the grace that comes through him.
The law, which was the Jewish way to think of the entire Old Testament, also teaches us about God, his nature, and how he makes his will known to us. One of the many things we learn about God in the OT is his understanding of mankind's weaknesses and limitations. I am especially amazed with how often God commands his people to do things so that they won't forget what he has done. Whether it's stone pillars & altars, or special feasts, or even physical signs like circumcision, he knows how easy it is for us to let time and distance cause us to forget things we really need to remember. I especially like those many times he specifically says, "When your children ask you....". He wanted his people to have a means and an opportunity to explain, tell the story, and make sure it was passed on to the next generation.
Knowing that part of God's nature, it makes me wonder if we've missed something very important about communion. In the culture where Jesus first gave it to his disciples, did he think he was giving them a sacred ceremony for insiders, or did he think he was giving his followers a simple symbolic tool to remember, to share, and to teach the next generation. Have we let our traditions, and the Catholic sacramental thinking it comes from, rob us of a wonderful tool to teach and share with our children?
I've been asked a few times by parents if they should let their children take communion. There was a time when I discouraged it, thinking it should only be for those who are obedient believers of Christ. Children can't get all the "deep meaning" behind the Lord's Supper - or at least that was our argument. But what was so deep about using two things that were on every table at every meal, and Jesus saying "Think about me" some of the time when you share it?
Again, was communion a "religious hoop to jump through" to show our obedience, or was it a tool to use to help us draw closer to God? In my opinion, using it to teach our children is probably a lot closer to the original intent than letting it become some private ritual to get checked off the Sunday morning list. Remember, in every mention of it in the New Testament, the Lord's Supper was part of a regular meal. Use it for the tool God intended - share & teach!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Liar, Liar!

I've started compiling a list of Things That Make a Liar Out of Me. Ouch! Yes, I know that's kind of harsh, but I'm amazing at the things in life that remind us of our inconsistencies. Here are a few that I already have on the list. What would you add?

1. Children - especially when they share "special" things about Mom & Dad with their school teacher or Sunday school teacher. (None of ours ever did that - of course!)
2. A mirror - I'm always ten years younger, twenty pounds lighter, and have hair three shades darker - before I look!
3. My doctor - enough said!
4. Our digital ultra modern bathroom scale - don't ask!
5. Driving - I always think of myself as patient, kind, non-aggressive, and considerate - and then I get into the car.
6. Sexy, attractive women on TV - I'm getting old enough that I don't notice them any more - and then I turn on the TV.
7. Motel clerks who ask if I have an AARP card
8. Watching "Surviving The Cut" (Special Forces Training) and thinking, "I could do that!"
9. Going to bed at 10:30 and planning to read for an hour - can you say "snore"?
10. Seeing Albert strike out and saying, "I coulda done better than that!"

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Parenting & Churching

What would you say to parents who want to have a large family - they want lots of kids - but they don't want to raise them? They just want the excitement and recognition from being large, noticed, and maybe even envied. I know what you'd say, or what you should say, "You people have no business having children!" Then once you got over your shock and anger with such an irrational perception of parenting, you might back off and say, "You should only have children you are willing to parent and raise with all the love and guidance they deserve."
It is my observation that many of us think just like those "irrational" parents when it comes to "doing church." The worldly church says successful churches must be driven by "Church Growth" principles, and those principles are all about becoming large. Everyone wants to be part of an exciting, growing church, that is the envy of all other churches. And we cover ourselves by saying something like, "Well, we're only interested in numbers because that means more souls." Why do I hear the above parents saying, "We want a lot of children because of all the tax deductions we'll get." Parenting is about growing children into maturity, not about how many children you can have. Parenting is living for the joy of seeing your child grow in "the training and instruction of the Lord." There is no greater sense of thanksgiving and godly pride than "to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 Jn.4)
Paul was clear that church leaders have one primary purpose and that is to grow His people to "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph.4:11-13) There is, or should be, nothing more fulfilling and satisfying than seeing souls that God put into your guiding hands become mature Christ-like servants of God.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a large church, or being part of a large church, but we MUST NOT LOSE THE PRIMACY AND JOY OF GUIDING MEMBERS TO MATURITY IN CHRIST! Since God is the One who gives the increase, and we are only planters and stewards of the Word, the real secret to "church growth" might be following His plan! Guide, mentor, shepherd, and love members - one at a time - into a deeper walk with God. What might THEY do when you've helped them develop a passion for Jesus! And maybe, just maybe, God is waiting for me, for us, to do the job He's given us before He adds to the work load. And maybe that's why the New Testament talks in terms of Christians coming together for spiritual growth, not "Church Growth."