Friday, January 5, 2018

When Loyalty and Tradition trump the Word

Historians and wise people teach us the past. For good reason.
Those who cannot remember the past are  condemned to repeat it.
~George Santayana 
There is a reason we study what has occurred throughout history. In this day and age, we have been abundantly blessed with the ability to study to our hearts content nearly any subject, even mere matters that pique our interest.

It concerns me to see in many areas of life a stagnant oppression to loyalty over Truth. 

Our church for example has compiled an entire printed volume of the rich history it claims. There are traditions as well as long-standing members (and some of their descendants) that have been a part of the foundation of this church.  We started attending our church after searching for an exegetical preaching style, traditions and foundations of an organization are not bad, but sometimes need fresh eyes on them.  In a church and as a church like ours in a time of transition, it very well might be a time to reevaluate or risk clinging white-knuckled to a loyal tradition.  Time to reevaluate the leadership goals, the pastoral goals, the effective leading and equipping of the saints, the way in which we approach our youth and how to get to their hearts, the children of the church to know their value in Him and the knowledge to be more than the subject of a memorized verse, or possibly the way in which missionary support is provided.  Praise the Lord, our church is setting up the structures to ensure that the traditions it maintains are in right-standing.

Personally I love tradition, the creeds, the history, the structure. It's comforting to know it has been there all along and it's comfortable as a backdrop in my daily walk. However, as I, myself, have been walking through my own transition in my walk with Christ I have seen in myself how my tradition kept me from truly pursuing the Lord in my heart. It grew my knowledge and comfort and voice but I had missed my own heart in my empty, vain walk where I claimed the name of Christ as my own but lacked assurance. While not an identical scenario as what our church faces, I think it similar.

How often though do all of us do the same though? Do we cling to a person and revere them to the point of Sainthood, refusing to hear truths about them that are uncomfortable?  Do we uplift or enable someone to sin instead of encouraging them to repentance? Do we, with tight fist, evade any negative comments about a "Christian" leader because you might know him personally or like him as a person? Do we want to keep reading the same "Christian" author and avoid harsh (but true) criticisms of what she teaches? Do we hear the truth about someone but ignore it so we can keep sinning in the same way ourselves? Bringing it down quite a few levels, do we want to keep watching the same tv show at night even though the episodes have consistently showcased more and more evil? Do we want to read a certain book even though there are detailed bedroom scenes?

So I ask, how much do we selfishly cling to the things we want to believe instead of challenging them against the Truth of the Bible?

It may be time for you to reevaluate your life.  Does the truth you see align with God's Truth?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Second Hunt

We did it again, we had an overnight babysitter and took off to go hunt again.

We packed up our car late at night and took off around midnight on a Thursday.  Yes, midnight.  We looked at each other with smiles in our eyes and careless laughter as we embarked on our second hunting vacay in as many weeks.

At about 2 am when we switched drivers, we were excessively less jovial.  In fact, we were downright solemn.  I was anyway.  I'm sure the pillow, blanket, and snoring from the passenger seat kept the full weight of the boringly, long drive from sending me over the edge.  It's amazing how someone can be so peacefully at rest while the one watching them enviously can be so ticked off.

I wasn't actually ticked off, but I was jealous even though I had just woken up to take over the driving responsibilities.  Come 3 am and I was beginning to question our last minute strategy to leave and drive through the night.  Come 4 am when we arrived, I was really wondering where our sanity went as we got our gear on to go for a 5 hour hunt.  Gah. If you will remember, coffee and I really enjoy our morning time together.  This was not exactly an option for the local coffee shop to accommodate my inane cravings.  

Yet, we carried on as though our brains were fully functioning.  By carried on, I mean we attempted to carry on. My legs weren't moving like they should.  Sleep deprivation and hiking were clearly not a positive combo, nor one that I would recommend.  Plus, we weren't even able to talk the whole way there, what a waste of all those hours in the car without the usual little yaps from the backseat.

We moved a lot slower this time proceeded with a wait and see tactic.  Looking back, it may not have been the wisest strategy.  Dusty took a picture of me though, how sweet you say.

If there was a deer that kicked me in the stomach and spit on my face I would not have noticed nor cared. I was in my own blissful hibernation.  Eventually I woke up and it was at this moment that it struck me: We. Are. Old.  Traveling all night at 30+ with 4 kids and expecting to stay up the entire day was nothing short of madness.  We were nuts.  Nothing else to it.  And we were already up on the mountain, so we decided to embrace it.

We trekked up to the spot where we had witnessed our one proof of animal existence from our prior hunting trip.  Other than the random bird or the furiously angry chipmunks.  One chipmunk climbed up a tree to get to our eye level as we were sitting near a cliff, stared at us while squawking furiously, this lasted for a good minute before we told it to stop, because reasoning with woodland creatures is what happens when you're old.  I can still imagine his little fist shaking at us. He was seriously mad. It got me thinking that the deer must bring them nuts as payment for sounding the alarm when they see humans, because that little sucker was loud.  Dirty little bribes happening in the underbrush.

We hiked, and hiked, and hiked some more.  

Then we drove to go eat and HAVE COFFEE. Finally. Priorities were being set in their proper place again. We stopped at the local hunting shop to chat with the owner and he shared that the deer still have not come back to the area since the fires and the smoke.  Sigh.  He told us where he did see some so we wasted no time and headed straight there.

After, of course, we got a coffee for the road.

My hunting partner literally traveled his own path while I hunkered down in the truck to sleep. He searched and searched while I slept and slept.

When that was over we went driving to see if we could spot any from the road as I was parked for good in my seat.  It was at this time that Dust started to yawn.  We were still 4 something hours away from home and hadn't left yet.  We had "been up" for longer than any normal person.  Staying the night was not an option.

The drive back started well enough.  By well enough, I mean the first 23 minutes where the truck didn't traverse over the turtles or truck gates rattling me awake.

I asked Dust how he was doing and he openly shared that his eyes seemed glued shut. Guess it was my turn.  I was surprisingly awake, and am assuming I can attribute it to my continual cat naps throughout the day.  So I drove pretty well all the way home until the last hour when we switched again.

After the first 4 minutes realizing he was still too tired to drive, we switched again.  We finally made it home--Dusty made a beeline for the bed while I chatted with our babysitter about how it went for her.

The next morning was a soccer game at 9, it honestly felt like I was ripped from bed at 3 am by a tiger shark.

On Saturday, we spent a good deal of time nursing our wounds, sleeping, and utilizing screens for the kids.

Moral of the story: We are old.  Really old. We will never do that again.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Hunt

Recently, I went bow-hunting for the first time with my husband.  It was such an exciting trip to go on... we were going for two nights sans kids... aka sans schedules! There was a glorious hope involved for freedom from work, feeding and re-feeding and more feeding of 4 little chicklets, freedom from a schedule determined by my chicklets needs to eat/survive/sleep, freedom for alone time sparked by a really long drive where we could talk uninterrupted for a cool 4 hours (I'm sure that was the most anticipated event for Dusty, too).

To say I was excited was an understatement, I was near giddy.

I learned a whole lot about hunting in our 48 hour camping trip. First, the camper we took ended up being for looks, and for terrifying me on the drive that the back tire might catch the edge of the road and pull us down the cliff that was not even a yard away from the white line.  I will say, the camper was nice for the exhausted freefall into it both nights as I prepared for a glorious couple hours of sleep because we "had to get up the mountain before the deer". Sure, okay.

Boy, does 4 am comes early when you have just driven for 4 hours, hurriedly unpacked and set up the trailer in 30 minutes, tried on and wore my hunting gear for the first time, and zipped out to hunt the night before for a couple hours, and had dinner at 9 (but let me say, it really was delicious, because again, we were eating dinner at 9... with no one screaming at us or throwing food at the waitress).  Coming off the dinner, we were headed to the one grocery store in town so we could grab food for the morning, but more importantly, creamer because, hello, it will be the crack of dawn, and coffee is a must on a normal day.

The one grocery store in this remote little town decided that closing time already happened before we arrived.  I will freely admit this was my biggest concern the whole trip. Getting attacked and eaten by a black bear, falling off the cliff while driving there--these had nothing on the fact that I wasn't going to have a good cup of coffee in my hands for our early morning jaunt in the woods, nor any food for breakfast.  I was assured we would go out for breakfast after and all would be well again in my world, so we pressed on and decided to get a Starbucks cold drink and mix that in with our black coffee.  I would advise munching on watered down coffee grounds rather than ever doing that again. But we paired it well with our dried out turkey sandwiches from the "deli" section.  A breakfast for kings.  Kings who don't plan well.

We arrived at our morning hunting spot, sat down on some really comfy rocks, and began to glass.  Glass, in hunter's wife lingo, means you pull out your brand new binoculars that your husband bought hoping you would have something to do with your time instead of talk as you are supposed to be really "quiet" when you hunt because the animals have exceptional hearing.

My husband knows me well, he knows I love puzzles and used it to his advantage by telling me that glassing is essentially like taking the entire mountainous hillside and dividing it into itty bitty puzzle pieces that you spend all too long analyzing in hopes of seeing some antlers stick up higher than the grasses.  In reality he was right, it was just more like one of those 50,000 piece puzzles of a polar bear in a blizzard.

Luckily, Dusty spotted a bush swaying back and forth and although I wasn't able to see any hint of what type of animal, I imagined by the raucous nature that it was some sort of beastly creature that would not welcome us invading his space with weapons.

By the looks of it, we were a good day and a half hike away from The Bush.  Apparently, we were going to risk it anyway. We drove to a closer location to start the hike. Now, "hike" in hunter's wife lingo, means extremely deliberate and calculated stepping, all while staring at where your next step would be and simultaneously keeping my eyes on my husband because if he stops, I stop. That is all while also looking around to prevent a potential bear attack or possibly that a buck would be staring me in the face because I most assuredly would have gotten that close with how quiet I was. Except my breathing, it was horrendously loud. Looking back, the wheezing may have scared away the deer. It took me awhile to recognize that sometimes Dust stopped to generously give me time to catch up and not because he heard something. Take note that the word generously is the key takeaway from that revelation. Love him.

I had heard of hunters training in the gym for hunting season, and I'll openly admit that I scoffed. Until this trip. I had no idea just how much stamina is involved with hunting.  There's an overly tired body that wakes up entirely too early and is fueled by mostly coffee and protein bars that has to scale a mountain in a couple hours time *quietly*, hopefully have the strength after that to pull back your bow in order to achieve the purpose of the whole trip, dissect your victim, and traipse down the mountain with it (and possibly your wife) on your back.  It was nothing short of impressive to me understanding the level of endurance involved.

There was a lot of looking down while hiking which I wasn't expecting.  If there was a twig that would crack, I stepped around it if I could.  If there was a rock that might slip, I stepped around it if I could.  If there was deer or bear droppings, I stepped around those if I could.  In fact, on that hike there was a lot of poop. I had been expecting a weekend free from others' excrement but found myself getting overly excited when I would see those fresh brown berries because it felt like the deer were close.  I almost imagined the steam rising because it was that fresh. I'm a Mom, I'm used to fresh.

The first hunt we saw a lot of signs.  The next 2 hunting sessions were not as exciting in terms of fresh evidence. Yet, when we took a break to eat something, we saw our one and only legal buck. It got spooked and took off, and we unfortunately couldn't track it down after a solid 2 1/2 more hours of hiking.  I had been expecting to see a lot of deer, almost so much so that we would have our pick of the choicest rack.  That was far from reality since we ended up only seeing one during our entire trip.  It felt very much like a game of luck.  So not a game really at all. Just pure luck. If a deer was to my left and I was looking to my right I very well could have missed him.

Another thing that surprised me was how far we could travel in a mere 2 hours of hiking without stopping.  I haven't really worked out consistently for a good couple of years now and I just deliberately traveled with my legs as my vehicle for 2 hours up a steep incline.  And I made it.  We actually made it to The Bush that first day but the deer, or mountain lion, or mammoth beast had left already.  And let's not forget that if it took a couple hours to get up there, one still must come down.

With hunting, there's always another ridge to scale.  Seriously, looking up at a behemoth of an incline only to peer over the ridge and see another looming hillside is a bit discouraging... it's like a constant nature delusion that you think this is the top after 40 more carefully placed steps and it's not.

We headed back down soon after that as I was starting to get concerned my muscles would lock up and he'd have to pack me out. Packing out, in hunter's wife lingo, so I'm told, is a concerted effort by those in your hunting party to help you divvy up your proof of hunting prowess and assist you in heaving 100 or so pounds of a carved up animal onto your already heavy pack down the steep hillside to your vehicle.  This would have been most unfortunate for Dusty to have to pack out his pack, me, my pack, and a buck. I'm almost certain he would have been fine.  Since I did decide to not take a ride down, let me tell you, trekking down a mountain in exhaustion is a lot louder than the concentrated movements when anticipation of running into a buck is a possibility.

What I also didn't realize was how little down time there would be during The Hunt.  When I imagined hunting, I foresaw a hike to a destination where we would sip our coffees, eat some snacks, and wait for a buck to walk right in front of us.  I also expected that afterward there would be cuddling by the fire as we talked about our hopes and dreams, sipping our decaf coffees, after we had time to meander through the shops in town while drinking coffee.  (Again, please take note that my expectation here may better explain the intense desire earlier to have creamer as coffee clearly plays a major role in my life.)  There was none of that. Any of that.  My expectations and reality were world's apart.

We had a blast though, other than me breaking down in anxiety-racked tears on a logging road (logging road is hunter's wife lingo for a rocky, rutted 5 foot wide span of dirt and boulders that would better be termed a wider than average hiking trail) with a cliff as he backed up (on a cliff) and away from 3 Jeeps (1 of which nearly tipped over as they tried to "climb" the side of the mountain to "give us room to pass" on a cliff) (another story for another time though).  It was so much fun to hang out with each other alone, with no schedule, learning about a hobby that interests my husband so much.

We made it back and would do it again in a heartbeat! I would anyway, I might need to double check with Dusty whether or not he came to the same conclusion.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I'm losing bad
I've stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it'll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can't
It's easy to sing
When there's nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I'm held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
You've been faithful, You've been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You're able
I know You can
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
Songwriters: Bart Marshall Millard / Benjamin Glover / Crystal Lewis / David Arthur Garcia / Tim Timmons
Even If lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Music Services, Inc

Friday, October 6, 2017

Rearranging Deck Chairs

We heard an amazing sermon last year that was incredibly solid. We have been blessed with an amazing church where the preaching from the pulpit is the truth of the Bible.

There were a couple of one-liners that struck a cord with me.

Confession is not the same as conversion.
I had lived most of my life without knowing with my heart what conversion entailed.  Sure, I had confessed.  I had confessed with blind eyes, silent ears, and a proud heart.  This is not the confession of the Bible.  It is a false confession that was meant to selfishly appease my conscience.

Repentance without Christ is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

My understanding of what the word repent meant had been head knowledge only. It was a false assurance I told myself to satisfy my sinful ways. What I failed to realize was that repentance without Christ is futile.  There is no salvation in empty repentance.

We might affirm Christ but do we know Him?

Again, you can't fully repent without Christ, so do you have a right understanding of Christ?  Do you know the Savior from the Bible? Have you concocted your own version of Him to meet your needs or justify your sin?

If you are not sure, I would encourage you to start in Genesis 1:1 and begin a read-through plan of the Bible.  I'm participating in our church's Bible read-through this year and each book, chapter, verse, and word is weaving together a more complete understanding of who the true Christ is.  

In order to repent, you must know to whom you are repenting.  In order to confess, you must know the true understanding of repentance.

This standard can also translate to other areas of life, although in a lesser degree of importance.  In order to rightly confess, or repent your sin against another, you should know in your heart and mind what you have done; there should be a heart knowledge involved if you are in a situation where an apology is necessary.
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