Category Archives: Weblog

The Wizard’s Folly

Recently my wife and I were discussing the importance of transparency in every and all forms of relationships and how being honest and open can greatly fortify the effectiveness of your influence as a leader, parent, or spouse. The next day I heard a fun cover of the song “If I only had a brain…” yes, the song from “The Wizard of Oz”, and something hit my heart like a ton of bricks. Some of the most loved and openly received characters in that film are those who owned their flaws and shortcoming and even “boasted of their weaknesses” in song and dance. The villain may have been the Wicked Witch but honestly, the true disappointment was found in the man behind the curtain… portraying himself to be something he wasn’t all while withholding the very blessings the main characters were seeking. There is also a redemption story here, the wizard (but not really a wizard), owned his mistakes and by doing the right thing as well as helping Dorothy and Toto out of Oz. He redeemed himself. Transparency made anything the Scarecrow, Tinman, or Lion had to say very comfortably believable and relatable. Long story short: in a world of way too many people fighting to be the wizard by any means of deception necessary, be the Scarecrow. Own your flaws, embrace who you are, all the while making moves to better yourselves and to achieve your dreams.

Photo Credit: Miss A.

On Chris Cornell

A couple of nights ago a very popular singer committed suicide. This guy seemed to have it all. A great career, very influential and money but it wasn’t enough. Something was missing. Something that he felt was so painful that he thought there was no way out and lost all hope. I believe all of us have been there, at one point in our life I have. I attempted suicide and ended up in ICU for 4 days and then in a psych ward. I thought there was no way out. At that time in my life, I was far from God and really didn’t want much to do with God at the time. You see, the choices we make gets us to that point in our life and the choices shape our identity, who we are, is wrapped up in someone or something or who the world tells us who we are. Once all that comes crashing down, which it will, all we have left is a void, an emptiness inside that nothing or no one can fill but Jesus.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

We also lose the value of our life. We start feeling worthless. We walk around thinking this world is better off without me. The thing is suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT

Suicide is an eternal choice we make because there is no coming back from it. Death is permanent and eternal. I want you to know that you are valuable, your life has meaning and a purpose. God says so, I say so!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

God proved how valuable you are to Him by doing something for you that says I love you so much that I sent my Son to die for so you can spend eternity with Me.
Don’t give up! Seek God and get help!

Issue of Blood Part 2: Becoming clean, a commentary by Brian Hardin

As we’re moving through the book of Leviticus and the law is being given, today we investigate and are informed of the concept of clean and unclean. So what is clean and what is not clean? The underlying theme to all of that is that God is holy and they are invited to become holy because they are set apart as his people. So we can look at this list and go, ‘Well, what makes the lizard unclean? What makes a gecko unclean for eating?’ but that is somewhat beside the point. And we can look at these customs and say, “Man, kind of rigid, isn’t it? Kind of rigid’ but let’s not forget what is going on here. This is a horde of people, massive, over a million, and as far back as they can basically remember, for centuries they have been generational slaves. So this is all new stuff for them. God is establishing this rhythm of life that in everything and in every way is reminding them of the story of their new identity, chosen people set aside by God to be his chosen people.

So as the law is given, you can say, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of rigid. We wouldn’t do that today. Why? Why is all this clean and unclean?’ but embedded into the fabric of the culture is the story that there is a difference between being set apart and being holy and not being those things. So yes, some of these things are for sanitation. Some of these things are for health and not transmitting diseases to each other. Certainly that is embedded in here, but spiritually what is embedded inside of this is the story of their identity. They are reminded of it in just about everything that they do and it is intended to and will have a profound effect on how they live their lives and how they conduct themselves in relation to one another and how they conduct themselves in relation to God.

So we get to the New Testament and this becomes really fascinating because Jesus is invited to come and heal a synagogue leader’s 12-year-old daughter and he agrees and he’s on his way to do just that when the whole scene gets hijacked by a woman who has been perpetually bleeding for 12 years. So she has been bleeding since this little girl that Jesus is going to heal was born. The thing is, she is unclean under Mosaic Law. She has been unclean perpetually for 12 years, unable to participate in holy things and anything that she touches while she is unclean becomes unclean. So for her to have faith well up inside herself and reach out and touch a rabbi on purpose, making him unclean on purpose, that is a no-no. But she did it. She felt like ‘If I could just brush up against his clothes, if I could just reach out and touch is clothes, I think I would be healed” and she did it. That was a risk because had Jesus stopped and said “Who touched me? Who made me unclean?” well, she could have had a bad day, but Jesus didn’t react that way. He wasn’t lost in the rules. He had given the rules and he knew what they were supposed to point to. They had become a cage of ritual when they were supposed to be reminders of identity. The woman was healed and Jesus said, “Go in peace. Your faith has made you well.” It’s really, really beautiful. Striking.

So we can get hung up on the rules. We can call our freedom in Christ and say we can do just about whatever we want because we’re free from all of that and that is fine. But may we understand even in our faith journey there are things that are clean and there are things that are not. There are things that are unclean. If we’re going to dally in the unclean, if we’re going to touch the unclean, then we’re going to be unclean. And we don’t really have to unpack that very much. We know this. It may not be under Mosaic Law, but if we live our lives touching the unclean on purpose, being involved in what is unclean on purpose, then we will be unclean.

Yeah, we’re supposed to be holy and in a way these people that we’re reading about in Leviticus could have never become because we are not only set apart and made holy. We are partakers in the divine nature of God. We shouldn’t be unclean in that. So may we, like this woman, reach out and touch the hem of the garment of the Risen Christ and be made whole again and be made clean. May we hear the voice of Jesus telling us “Go in peace. Your faith has made you well. Be cured.”

Prayer

Jesus, that is what we long for. Put in these terms, we can see clean and unclean everywhere. And we know where we’ve been unclean. So while we don’t bring lambs and sacrifice them to be restored to you, we do lay our own lives down as a living sacrifice in order to be restored to you, and we ask your forgiveness of the unclean in us. It is not supposed to mix with what is holy. And that explains so much of our lives. That explains so much of why things don’t work and why we get mad and estranged from you when you’re not jumping to attention because we’ve called. It explains a lot and it forces us to own our part of this relationship. You are holy and the only way we can walk with you is in holiness and that you have provided even that for us if we will simply partake and participate. And so we do. We invite your Holy Spirit to well up within us and the divine nature of the Risen Christ to overwhelm everything that is unclean in us, crowding it out and sending it away because we have been set apart as holy and we must be holy. So come Holy Spirit, because without you we can’t. There is no possible way. So we invite you. Make us holy as you are holy. And we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Source: Daily Audio Bible Transcripts, dailyaudiobible.com

Issue of Blood Part 1: Faith, Perseverance, Faith…

A woman was in the crowd who had been bleeding for twelve years, but no one was able to heal her. She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his coat, and instantly her bleeding stopped. Then Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When all the people said they had not touched him, Peter said, “Master, the people are all around you and are pushing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch me, because I felt power go out from me.” When the woman saw she could not hide, she came forward, shaking, and fell down before Jesus. While all the people listened, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace.”
~Luke 8:43‭-‬48 NCV

As I read these verses, God started to show me how this applies to my current situation so I decided to share this with you because maybe you’re struggling with something in your life too.

In this story, we have a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years and no one had been able to help her! But, she knew that Jesus was coming and if she could only touch the hem of His garment, she would be healed. She finally gets through and touches it and is healed. The verse says that Jesus felt the healing power leave His body. My question is why aren’t we told of anyone else being healed? Jesus says, “Who touched me?” Peter even says there were many people crowding and touching Him but, why was she the only one to receive healing? What was different with her need than others? Everyone needed healing yet, she was the only one healed.

Why was she healed? Her healing didn’t require Jesus touching her or even praying over her. She sought Jesus because she knew that all she needed to do was touch His garment and she would be healed. She went to Jesus expecting to be healed! Many times I have prayed half-hearted prayers. If you pray and don’t expect God to move He won’t move. We pray and expect God to move and things happen! So pray with an expectant heart!

The other thing we see is that Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd and she had to pry her way through. She didn’t let that stop her from receiving healing. She pushed through the crowd and I am sure she got knocked down and pushed back but, she got back up and kept moving forward. She preserved even when it seemed impossible. So many times I have stopped short of my breakthrough. I’ve felt tired and frustrated, it’s just not going happen. It is then we have to remember perseverance is pushing through and not giving up!

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
~James 1:12 NIV

The woman was focused on Jesus and didn’t waiver. She never lost sight of Him. Too many times we start to focus on our situation and not on the One who calmed the storm or who fed the five thousand with a child’s lunch. Remember how Jesus called Peter out of the boat…

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
~Matthew 14:28‭-‬31 NIV

Peter started to focus on the storm, not on the one that calms the storm with a word!
It’s time to start praying with expectancy and to keep pushing forward and not give up. Focus on the one who calms the storm, not the storm itself.

As far as my situation… I lost my job but God came through with a new job but it’s still not over. I just have to stay focused and preserve.

FAVOR given one, is meant FOR many.

Sometimes when God is inviting us into His work, we are called to places where our positioning doesn’t seem to make sense. This has something to do with the way God wants us to perceive His ways. Whenever we are called into what He is doing, there will always be a heart check involved. That check is the  product of our faith. Are we willing to go to places that are not inviting toward our physical, spiritual, emotional or psychological comfort? That is the question obedience will always ask.

In recent months through a series of unforeseen events, the Lord has sent me into some frontier areas of life. The Holy Spirit has been inviting me into something new. Essentially, He is asking me to follow at the cost of leaving some of the many less challenging areas in my life. He has used these areas to build the capacity He needs in me to take on our meaningful work together. I’ve learned that the pragmatic solutions to problems in my life all have to do with the countenance of favor in my life. God’s favor over me was never meant for me, but rather for us. Favor has to take on a posture of what it means for everyone around me and at the moment, it has to do with the life of my older brother.

You see, as His-story and my story begin to interweave it is becoming more and more clear that God’s greater design for the favor I have been gifted with is to see how I will choose to steward it. It all comes down to choices doesn’t it? What will become of these gifts? My spirit senses that He is opening the door of adventure into the unknown. A place where my favor can become of real benefit to the Kingdom. A place that invites the dangers and pain of putting my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into something that has the high possibility of breaking me. But, if it is indeed His work, it has the promise of seeing an old dream of freedom for a place and people I believe He wants me to help. So in the spirit of the prophets of old, to the Ancient of Ages I say, “Here I am Lord”.

This weblog will chronicle  my obedience, wins, and loses. I invite you into the journey.

Photo Source: reddit.com

The Gardener

All of us have seen a beautifully landscaped yard.  Yards with beautiful flowers, trees trimmed perfect and long fruitful vines. Everything in place growing and blooming, it just makes you want to sit in the middle of all that beauty and relax without a care in the world. Sounds gorgeous, right? But it wasn’t always that way.

I remember when I was little and I used to go to my grandma’s house. In the front yard, there was a row of roses, they were beautiful with bright colors. My mom would pull up to my grandma’s house early in the morning and I would see my grandmother outside with a water hose in one hand and some really sharp pruning shears in the other, and man, they were sharp cause grandpa sharpened them up good. As I scrambled to get out of the car so I could go see what she was doing  and so I could play in the dirt, I would watch her cut and pull away parts of the bush. I asked, “ Grandma why are you cutting the bush up, aren’t you going to hurt it?” She would lean over and tell me that she was removing all the dead and broken stuff away from the flower because otherwise it wouldn’t grow and get big and beautiful. I’d hear her out and quickly get back to playing.

Back then I really didn’t understand what she was doing. Now I see how it all works. Without the gardener coming in with those sharp pruning shears to remove all the dead, ugly, broken branches, you wouldn’t have any growth.  Actually, all that dead and ugly stuff will eventually kill the plant. It takes a skillful gardener to come in and prune away all that junk. Some of it can be painful because it’s still attached and barely hanging on, the other junk is just there smothering the plant and it just needs to be pulled away.

In the book of John chapter 15, John talks about gardening but in this case, we are that rose bush or as John says, we are the vine and God the gardener. We are the rose bush (vine); God takes those shears and starts to trim away those things that are dead and broken in our life. The pruning can be things like bad relationships (1 Cor 15:33), addictions, or maybe it’s unforgiveness and hate we are holding on to. All these things prevent us from blooming and becoming who God wants us to be. Maybe people have put us down or called us names and we’re believing those things, but God says,  “No, you’re my masterpiece” (Eph 2:10). We should quit believing in what the world says and believe the Gardener, He sees our beauty. He sees who we are in Him! Let’s allow Him to help us rediscover that beautiful rose. That rose that people see and ask, “Where did you get that? I want one!” Then, let’s share the love of the Gardener with them.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.”

~John 15:5‭-‬6 NLT

Salvation: A redefining.

Let’s start with a little trivia of sorts…

How many of you have ever heard of the word freedom? It’s safe to assume that we have an understanding of what that word means. Just so were all on the same page here is the official definition.

Freedom (noun)

  1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:

  2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

We sometimes tend to take our freedoms for granted. For example, we could be at a church function and I can exclaim, “JESUS CHRIST!” without fear of persecution and without fearing for my life. And because of where we live we have that freedom, in other places around the world, those words would have cost our life.

Now, how about the word purify, do you have an understanding of what it means to purify? Let me provide the definition.

Purify (verb)

  1. to make pure; free from anything that debases, pollutes, adulterates, or contaminates:

There have been times when we have been out camping or something goes wrong within our city water supply that we have to boil water to purify it. To purify basically means to get all the bad junk out.

The word relief means:

Relief (noun)

  1. alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress,oppression, etc.

So in short, when we feel better than what we did we are experiencing relief.

Now the word refresh.

Refresh (verb)

  1. to provide new vigor and energy by rest, food, etc.

Here’s a perfect example. If you were hungry and tired after a long walk, after you sit a while and have eaten you will feel refreshed.

Here’s a powerful word.

Revive (verb)

  1. to activate, set in motion, or take up again; or the most exciting definition:

  2. To restore to life

And my favorite…

Redeem (verb)

  1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment:

  2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.

What if I told you there was a word with such depth and wonder, a word with much power, a word so endless and epic that all of these other words we just spoke of with their various definitions and meanings, not only fit inside of it but were actually redefined and amplified by it. There is such a word. That word is Salvation.

Salvation (noun)

  1. the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.

But this isn’t exactly the definition I’m talking about. It’s close, but this definition doesn’t even come close to the full extent of the salvation I’m talking about.

The salvation I’m talking about doesn’t just provide freedom but A freedom that is not just confined to just this world but a freedom that is eternal.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The salvation I’m talking about doesn’t just purify in the sense of making something clean or unpolluted, this kind of salvation purifies to the point of making people righteous.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This salvation doesn’t just bring you a temporary relief from temporary situations, this type of salvation brings divine relief.

“And God will provide rest (relief) for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels,”

‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬

A salvation that provides truly refreshing life change.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A salvation that revives and brings forth a new life in Jesus.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A salvation that takes redemption to a whole new level.

“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now let me make one thing clear, the one who brought this world changing, earth quaking, redefining salvation is just as unique. There have been other men who have been called, “saviors” and by definition that might be true. But this Savior I’m talking about… MY SAVIOR, MY SAVIOR did something that no one has ever done before. You see not only did MY SAVIOR die a criminal’s death when he was in fact, the only being to ever step foot on this planet and live a spotless life, not only was he executed for all of our sins. But, this Savior, MY SAVIOR, after laying in a tomb for 3 days, MY SAVIOR ROSE defeating death once and for all!

This one of a kind Savior brought forth a one of a kind Salvation.

How can you not want this Salvation I’m talking about?

He wants to be YOUR SAVIOR TOO!

If you haven’t cried out to Jesus and asked Him to be Lord of your life, stop what you are doing right now and make an opportunity to do just that. You see,  just because you may have been in church for years, or maybe you’ve grown up in church, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve accepted Christ. The word of God clearly states:

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9-10‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Are you ready? Are you ready for freedom, to be purified? Are you ready for relief, for a refreshing breath of new life to revive and redeem you?

Let’s pray.

Father, I’m a sinner. I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that you love me so much, that you sent your only Son, in all of His perfection, to walk amongst His own creation, to be persecuted, humiliated, to be beaten, to be killed, for our sins. I believe that Your Son, not only died but rose from the dead, proving He was 100% man and 100% God. Jesus, come into my life, transform me from the inside out, be my Lord, be my Savior. Thank you, Jesus for saving me. In the name of OUR SAVIOR Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen!

Chasing Wild – Part One | Become Good Soil

Had to repost this recent weblog by Morgan Snyder. It speaks clearly to a very primal God space that exists in every man. Enjoy!

We pierced the veneer of outside things. We suffered…and had grown bigger in the bigness of the whole. We had seen God in all his splendours, heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man. – Sir Ernest Shackleton

The arrow flew intuitively, almost of its own volition. For that moment, my bow and I had become one. Upon impact, the bear whirled on his hind legs and thundered back into heavy cover. I was deep in the wilderness of Colorado’s high country, in dawn’s early light. Little did I know, the adventure was just beginning.


Many years ago, a hunting mentor spoke these formative words: “Luck is the combination of preparation and opportunity.” Never before had the relationship between opportunity and preparation been more apparent to me than on that crisp September morning.

Needless to say, the idea of “getting lucky” has taken on a whole new meaning. In the field, I consider it over and over again: “Luck IS a combination of preparation and opportunity.” Mostly, the preparation is our portion, as students of the land, the animals, and ourselves. Opportunity is largely up to God. We train and we trust. We train that we might be ready, and we trust that we are sons of the Living One who has our best interests at the center of His soul, all the way, all the time, whatever the outcomes may be.

My hunting pursuits began over 15 years ago. I didn’t grow up in a hunting family or in a hunting culture. Far from it. Argyle socks filled my drawer, and my wild adventures were confined to small pockets of untamed land gridlocked in a maze of suburban sprawl. God’s wooing drew me into wilderness and hunting, the prize of which is much more primary than meat in the freezer (though that is a high value in our family culture).

Wilderness,  and chasing wild in its infinite forms, has become the central context for my validation as a son and my initiation as a man.

As this hunting season drew near, my good friend Brian and I drew a pair of rare and coveted archery tags and the dream of harvesting an elk and a bear on the western slope of Colorado. I was going in for three days prior to Brian’s arrival, both for final reconnaissance and, more importantly, for the time of annual solitude with God that my heart craves. Heading out in my truck, I began praying and consecrating the trip, connecting my heart with the Father and sloughing off the shroud of stress that the previous days and months had cinched around me, then settling in for several hours of open road.

Driving into the Arkansas River canyon and happily leaving cell coverage, I eagerly fired up the Scriptures on an audio app I’d downloaded, anticipating  my soul being rinsed clean and fresh during these precious hours of transition. I started with Psalm 1 and then moved into Psalm 2, and then…silence. The app just went out—so much for the grid independence the app promised.

But the verse that it stopped on was Psalm 2:8, which, in The Message, reads:

You’re my son, and today’s your birthday. What do you want? Name it. Nations as a present? Continents as a prize? You’re my son, and today’s your birthday. What do you want? Name it.

For a good 30 minutes, I brawled with the app, trying to coerce it into working, until finally it dawned on me what Father was saying: for this hunt—and not only for me, but also for Brian—this was OUR verse from Him.

“You’re my sons and this is your birthday. What do you want?” When I hit cell reception again, I texted Brian and shared the verse. “Happy birthday, buddy,” I texted. “Make sure you ask Father for what you want for this hunt. I’m starting to ask Him now.”

Hours later, I neared the spot we intended for base camp and felt my apprehension rise. I’d prepared for months for this bear hunt. I’d read several books on bears and trained my body for the backcountry through countless workouts on stairs and off-trail ascents with a 50-pound pack. With the exception of an eight-day backcountry filming trip, I’d shot my bow 55 days in a row, and I’d brought all my working knowledge and experience from past years—mostly failures and a few successes—to this hunt.

But this was a new level of apprehension. I knew I was pursuing—with only a bow and arrow—an animal that, if provoked, was far more capable of harvesting me than I was of harvesting it. Furthermore, this vast country was uniquely rugged and bear-enticing. Graced with undulating hillsides of ancient oak brush, this region attracts bears from up to 200 miles away. A hunting buddy who’d been there a previous year described that when the wind blew, ripe-acorns falling from heavily laden branches pitter-pattered like raindrops on the ground cover. Such prolific food offered ripe hope for an archery hunter heaven-bent on a close encounter.

Physiologically, this season in the high country for bears is called hyperphagia. Bears feed up to 22 hours a day, putting on as much fat as possible to sustain their hibernation during brutal Western Slope winters. With these optimal conditions, the collision between opportunity and preparation could come at any moment of any day.

The first morning, I hiked into a drainage to a secluded watering hole we had identified on the maps that we hoped would attract bears in the heat of the midday. Grazing leases for domestic cattle dominate this section of National Forest, and groups of cattle regularly shuffle through the drainages, feeding on grasses and also depositing endless cow pies. In the heat of the day, the stench of smoldering cow pies was noxious. I harnessed my senses and stayed as still as I could, settling in for hours of vigilance over the water hole. Between the heat and the stench and the still-lingering racket from the world inside of me, it was an appropriately challenging baptism back into the wild.

After five hours, I sensed movement and, out of the corner of my eye, glimpsed first sight of a bear. I was caught off guard as I’d seen so few bears in hunting situations before. This was a small bear, and I immediately registered it could be a cub. Colorado hunting laws prohibit harvesting a sow with cubs, and though I was tempted to draw my bow, I thought, If this is a cub, the mother is surely coming behind it, and I am not going to arrow a cub and end up with an angry sow hunting me. But if it’s not a cub, I don’t want to pass on what could be my only chance.

Feeling the pull of opportunity, I began to draw, knowing I had a fraction of a second to make a decision.

Here was the moment: I had this bear in my sights…and then discretion edged its way into my soul.

I lowered my bow, choosing to pass.

In my past as a bowhunter, I have at times been quick to fling an arrow. Quicker than I’d like to admit. And in recent years, I have specifically asked Father to grow discretion in me, that I might be quick to assess a shot but slower to release an arrow. I have learned the hard way: with both a bullet and an arrow, once it is released, it can never be called back.

As quickly as I decided, the bear moved on. Sure enough, no mother ever came, suggesting in fact it wasn’t a cub. (I have learned since it was most likely a two-and-a-half-year-old bear, which is the first year of independence for a young bear. Typically, two-and-a-half-year-olds are small and easily mistaken for cubs.)

Several days stacked up void of any more bear encounters as I covered mile after mile, boots on the ground, glassing and looking for both bear and elk sign. In drainage after drainage and hillside after hillside, I noticed that most of the scrub oak were completely barren: no acorns. Even the chokecherry and serviceberry bushes, though lush with leaves, were virtually naked of berries. The reality began to sink in: though this section is typically a berry and acorn bonanza, something was wrong. There was almost no feed. And without feed, there were far fewer bears in the area than seasonal population data suggested. (We later learned there’d been a Mother’s Day freeze that had decimated the acorn and berry population. Bears that typically traveled from hundreds of miles to feast in this particular section had headed to different country in search of food.)

As I prepared for Brian’s arrival, I realized the likelihood of harvesting a bear this year was plummeting. Discouragement crept in like a slow-moving winter storm. I’d spent six years accumulating preference points and six months training for what perhaps was the hunt of a lifetime, and I would very likely go home empty-handed.

In the darkness of the third morning, I headed to explore another remote drainage. Praying and worshipping under the flume of the Milky Way and the unwavering stance of Orion, my perception of God’s presence heightened. I felt our Father’s nearness, His overwhelming kindness, and His unfaltering leadership over my life. Quickly, my soul ignited with presence and I knew I was receiving the greatest treasure of any hunt: an overwhelming awareness of God Himself that often prevails after several days in the context of wilderness and solitude. This kind of encounter with God is the ultimate prize of backcountry hunting.

Then I heard these words from a Father to his son, from my Father to me, as his son: “Son, I invite you to let the primary mission of this trip be to help Brian harvest a bull.”

The clarity of Father’s voice in that moment provided joy-filled reorientation: the discouragement vanished as the path of Life was illumined. Everything in my soul shifted from the pressure of strategizing about arrowing a bear to ease and joy in the abundant goodness of my Father. I knew the Father was interacting with me and inviting me to chose love for my friend Brian, and to love Brian’s dad and his brother, who also had highly prized hunting tags. He was assuring me that while my day would come in the fullness of time and in His abundance, I could relish coming through for Brian. (Brian and his dad had both patiently invested 16 years of preference points and cashed them in for this particular opportunity.)

By then, the first light of day was brilliantly coloring the horizon, and in this intimate space, I sincerely felt like it was being painted just for me. A deep sense of peace now pervaded my hunt: I had my orders for this mission. I consecrated my motives afresh to God, and as Isaiah said thousands of years ago, set my face like a flint (Isaiah 50:7).

Brian would arrive shortly, and the second chapter would unfold. Little did I know that giving my yes to the Father on that September morning would bring far more than I was prepared to handle.

Oswald Chamber says this,

The call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. The call of God is like the call of the sea—no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him. What God calls us to cannot be definitely stated, because His call is simply to be His friend to accomplish His own purposes. Our real test is in truly believing that God knows what He desires.

The call of God is ever being whispered into the place in us that truly wants to receive it. The writer of Hebrews suggests that God is enticing and disrupting us so that, in His goodness, He can become even more the Author and Finisher of our story (Hebrews 12:2). Where is it that God is inviting your willingness to let Him author you into a story far better than you could ever ask for or imagine? Where is it your Father is asking, “Would you give me your heart and follow me?”

What is your wild and how is He inviting you to chase it?

To be continued…

Source: Chasing Wild – Part One | Become Good Soil

Unqualified

Have you ever been at work and thought to yourself, “I hate my job; why am I still here?” Maybe you’ve been at school wondering if your cut out for it. Do you second guess yourself on a lot of things, always thinking you may be doing it wrong?

The truth is, we have all felt like we don’t live up to standards. Whether those are self-imposed or standards that  society holds out, many good men spend their time just putting themselves down. To be honest, growing up I remember doing it many times. I’d find myself at times comparing myself to my friends. The ones that had the nice clothes or new video games. Even as grown men we tend to  do this. We feel like we have to have a big bank account and a fancy vehicle to have a sense of accomplishment. Often thinking those things will help us feel like we have finally made it. We put so much emphasis on things that we forget the One who made us and gave us the opportunity to succeed. God says that because He created us, He loves us!

He created us in His own image so we are beautiful just as we are. We don’t have to set our minds on worldly standards. God will put us where He wants us, and we will be great! Like my pastor likes to say “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” We have heard many examples in the bible about God using the people we might think aren’t qualified to do great things, but because He has called them, and because they were obedient in faith, God did great things through them.

If  you’re in a place where you feel you shouldn’t be or don’t like where you’re at, seek God and He will guide you, He’ll give you His path. When we experience difficult times, we must learn to look at them as steps to growth. When we experience great times, rejoice in them because God has blessed us. God has blessings for us. In Colossians 1:12 NIV it says,

“giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

God has given us His son and His kingdom. All we have to do is accept it and we will have everlasting life. God wants to use us for His greater good. Now the questions stands, are you willing to leave your own at times selfish desires to step up and be just as God made you? Are you willing to seek greatness for His sake and not your own?

Community

Community is by design, what we are all wired for. COMMON UNITY among a group of people is a beautifully splendid thing. It is also a very rare thing. You see, God knows that the common unity found in community with Him and those around us is the best place to be. It’s where life is found. It’s where we as people are strongest. That’s why deep down, it’s what we all desire, what we are all chasing after even if we don’t know it yet.

But why is it such an elusive thing? In my life I have found community on a few occasions, some ending in glorious destruction, others still alive today. Those that live are the ones that even through time and space thrive and well up memories of wondrous days gone by and too the hope of glory ahead.

The thing about community is that it’s a delicate balance of spontaneity, order and most of all, hard work. The early days of finding a group of people that are genuinely happy to know you and you’re genuinely happy to know are the magical days where intrigue and commonality rule the day. It’s a time of getting to know one another and allowing at times vulnerable insights into one other’s lives. Inevitably these days are numbered, relationships are forged, friendships solidify and life in real community begins.

I remember my final year in college a community was formed in a really diverse group of my classmates. We were all tied by the common bond of a capstone management course that was well rumored to be the end all and be all for college of business students. It was a time when we were all in the mists of leaving lives of extended adolescence and entering adulthood. We were equipped with our new found knowledge of business and we were set to conquer the world. We spent countless hours dissecting existing corporate strategies and financial data in order to formulate our own greater and more lucrative mock plans for America’s greatest companies. It was indeed exhilarating to each of us as dreams of corporate domination danced in our heads. Needless to say, it was fertile ground for some great relationships to begin, and indeed one did. I met and fell in love with Anna in that community.

I wish all my community stories could end with such grandeur, but unfortunately things don’t always end so great. As I said before, I’ve known glory and glorious disaster. In community, ultimately life happens, people have confrontations, feelings get hurt and sides are taken, it’s just the natural order of things and there really is nothing to keep it from happening. So in healthy communities, the next phase of growth occurs. Direction and authority has to be given in order to keep the group moving forward. This can be a dangerous place. If members of the community don’t understand authority and vision, they will become overburdened and frustrated and most likely leave the group. For Christians this should be an easy one. The vision is always Jesus, the cornerstone that holds us the Church together. But often we can’t see the forest from the trees for the burden of leadership. Leadership has to bare the weight of keeping people moving forward and finding that commonality and dream ahead of the group. They have to enforce the rules that will keep the group safe from self-destruction and they have to do it all in the highest most diplomatic and service oriented way possible. Otherwise, they and the group will suffer. What most people don’t realize is this is often a very lonely and onerous place. Leaders often carry the weight of the community as both the shepherd to those who love them and wolf to those who don’t. The rules, authority and accountability to all are a heavy load and true leaders will always carry them with dignity and respect.

For those that have found community and have sacrificed self and submitted to the will of authority and that of the group, community is a beautiful place. It’s a place where those gathered have set aside their own personal motives and agendas for the good of each other. It’s a place where we can find like-minded people to help raise our families. It’s a place to go deep in heart to heart conversations. It’s a place to have your feelings hurt and then find forgiveness and steadfast friendship. It’s a place where your best friends call you out when you’re out of line because they love you and your family and they don’t want to see you hurt. It’s a place that feels like home. Find that community folks, it’s so worth the fight.