Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Still Crazy After All These Years!

Someone should write a song about that!  I recently was thinking about my online presence and thought that I had no idea how long it's been since I had posted on my blog.  Turns out it's been nearly four years!  WOW.

I never was very consistent with this probably because I was concerned that no one would be particularly interested in what I have been thinking about.  And now putting opinions and thoughts on the internet is getting more and more dicey what with everyone being offended when someone disagrees with them rather than thinking through their own position and engaging in constructive dialogue.  I think that many of us, and I know that I still struggle with this, are getting lazy about our world views; happy to accept what has been passed on to us from previous generations or to take for myself what the latest voice of society has to offer.

Examining what we believe and why we believe it is work.  If I choose to believe that I am already right and no longer in need of examination then I can just solidly plant my feet prepare to knock down anyone who disagrees.  But is that the best way to proceed?

Don't misunderstand me, I have a great deal of certainty about many of the tenets of my world view.  It wouldn't be my world view if I didn't believe it to be true.  Some I have reexamined recently and confirmed in my mind that I'm good with that.  Things like "Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to Heaven."  Yeah, I've thought that one through.  I've read on the subject from multiple vantage points.  I've listened and considered opposing claims. I still believe that is true and is a foundation of my beliefs.

There are other beliefs I hold that are being challenged in our society today.  Things like same-sex attractions, gender identity, how do I treat outsiders/ outcasts, when does life begin are all under consideration and many are arguing against the traditional "Christian" stance.  These and others are more than political positions and if you only argue them from that vantage point you are, honestly, missing the point!  What I'm trying to say is that it may be time for believers to reexamine what we believe and why we believe it.  Not because I'm advocating change, but because it's important to stand on more than just, "that's what I've always believed."  Isn't that the same attitude that the Pharisees took toward Jesus?  His narrative was different from what they had believed for hundreds of years.

If anything Jesus shows us that if a narrative is false we SHOULD change our minds about it.  We SHOULD examine and question and seek.  Consider all the other voices speaking from all the other perspectives. Just be sure to examine His Word.  Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Seek Jesus to know what He says, what He did and always go with Him.  When you get His answer, stand firm on it.

I'm not saying Jesus changes His mind about issues, but is there the least little possibility that you could be wrong about what you believe He says?  Or could you possibly be wrong about how you present His truth?  Unless you've turned perfect on me while I wasn't looking it's not a bad idea to step back and look into it again.

If after searching you find that indeed you're right, then praise the Lord and stand firm.  But until you ask the hard questions about the divisive issues of our day and come up with clear answers from Jesus, all you're doing is adding to the bluster and bloviation.  "This is the way we've always thought!"

Take your beliefs seriously.  Examine them closely.  Jesus doesn't mind you asking questions, He encourages it.  If you're wrong, change.  If you're right with Him, stand firm with Him.  Just ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Either that or I am indeed still crazy after all these years.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thinking Out Loud
There has been lots of interesting news stories of late.  The Pope resigns and, as usual, there are more than enough stories of violence and death just about everywhere in the country.  But there is also a lot of attention being given to the political infighting of our “leaders”.  I find myself stressing over what Washington is going to do about our financial woes and the social agenda for the nation that is amoral at best and sometimes blatantly immoral.  Like many, I find myself fearing the destination that waits at the end of the path our government leaders and society are choosing.
But I was encouraged this morning by reading Psalm 73.  I read it and re-read it then compared different translations and came away encouraged: not that things will turn out alright, but that no matter what mess we end up in, there is One above it all who loves me and will use the chaos for His glory and my ultimate good. 
To really get a glimpse of what that may look like I encourage you to read the entire Psalm.  Let Asaph’s description of his reality sink in and take shape in your mind.  Picture what his TV news shows may have looked like!  Try to imagine the headlines the daily papers might have ran.  In other words open your mind to think about what he was describing and listen to the Spirit to enlighten your understanding.  Allow Him to apply those thoughts and images to your own experience and then share in the conclusion drawn at the end of the Psalm.
“Whom do I have in heaven but you?
I desire no one but you on earth.
My flesh and my heart may grow weak,
but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.
But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.
I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter,
as I declare all the things you have done.” Psalm 73:25-26, 28 (NET Bible)
Do you see it?  No matter what disasters fill the headlines, regardless of the course our leaders may take us, whatever the attacks on our body, mind or spirit; “God always protects my heart and gives me stability, His presence is all I need.”
It’s not about the storm, it’s all about the shelter.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Shepherd Looking For Some Sheep

Ok so I'm not a "real" shepherd with horse and dog and a bunch of b-a-a-a-a-ing, wooly animals to look out for.  I do have a dog who would love to chase little wooly animals about, but she is not a sheep dog any more than I am a shepherd like that.

I am certainly not the Good Shepherd although I work for Him. The "sheep" He has placed in my care are a wonderful bunch and not extremely high maintenance, most of the time.  And I get to do cool things with them from time to time.  My hunting guide/friend and his wife took my wife and I on an expedition to see some big horn sheep in their winter range.  It is much easier  to drive by them next to the road than hiking miles into the mountain to find them during the rest of the year.

And we found them!

 As a bonus, the area where we found them is a beautiful place!  As the sun was going down the all turned around to look, too! That's why there are only sheep butts in this picture.  Can you find them?
 Then we also got to see some elk on the way out.  Add that to all the mule deer and white tail deer and geese and bald eagles and hawks and wild horses and other animals I have no pictures of and it was like a trip to the zoo!  No bears or moose though, maybe next time!

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's really great to be friends with the Game Warden!  Because you are able to go with him to help release a trapped mountain lion!!

How cool is that!  My Game Warden friend was later arms length away from the cat trying to open the trap while I was another three feet back with the handgun "just in case".  Two things really impressed me:
1.  How fast a mountain lion can swat at someone he is not happy with.
2.  What quick reflexes my Game Warden friend has!

It's a little hard to see but the cat's left front paw is trapped and held right against the tree trunk.  So all that was between us and him was a small juniper.  Reflecting on it all later I praised God for such beautiful animals and places He has given us for our enjoyment - and excitement!

I really wish we had video of the complete release, it was really amazing.  It turns out that "See what happens" works out sometimes. I love living in WY!

(this was the area where the adventure took place!  Above Shell Falls near Brindle Creek)

(no mountain lions or Game Wardens were injured in the course of this adventure!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Walking With Him

Well, the sun came up this morning!  After all the voting, analysis and hand-wringing, here we are facing another day.  I am reminded that no matter what, God is still in control. I am very glad for that.  It keeps me going!  And I want to keep going WITH HIM.  I said this past Sunday in my sermon, “When you are doing God’s work with God you can’t fail.”  So here we go for another day, serving the KING.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I've Been Thinking (about myself)

We live in a society that puts such high value on self-sufficiency.  Recently our President suggested that “you didn’t build that” when it came to beginning and running a business.  The reaction to those comments has been fierce.  People don’t like to be told they are dependent on someone else for anything.  We like to be self-sufficient.
While it is true that we are responsible for ourselves and should not expect others to carry us through life, there is also truth in recognizing that “no man is an island unto himself,” to paraphrase English pastor and poet John Donne.  The point he was making is that we are all connected; we do indeed need one another.
This is especially true when it comes to your (and my) spiritual life.  This is one area where the Gospel is very much counter-culture.  Where our culture says be self-sufficient, do it yourself for yourself, Jesus teaches that spiritual life is one thing you cannot do by yourself or for yourself.
We have been saved by grace – God’s gift of life that we cannot earn or deserve in any way – and the Church usually gets that right.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says as much, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
But so often Christians lose an essential element of life in Christ when we lose sight of how much we need God’s ongoing grace in our lives.  Paul was amazed at how the Galatian church missed it. “Tell me this one thing: did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it? How can you be so foolish! You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power?” (Galatians 3:2-3)
Like them we usually can agree that we need God’s grace to be saved, but we forget that we also need His grace to live the Christian life each day.  I cannot be self-sufficient when it comes to living the way Jesus tells me to live.  I can only do that by trusting Him to live in me and through me.  Then my life, in addition to my salvation, is “by grace… through faith —and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
It can be so difficult to admit that I can’t handle something all by myself; pride gets in the way so much. But until I am able to confess that and stop trying to be righteous on my own I won’t be able to truly trust in Jesus for His righteousness given to me.  I have been saved by grace and I must also live by grace. I don’t deserve this life, can’t earn it and can’t live it by myself either.
It is what Paul wrote about when he said, That I may “be found in Him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law (and my own efforts to obey it), but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil. 3:9)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Which way should we go? Knowing which way to go when riding a barely visible trail in the mountains is a very important thing.  That is why I would never, ever, never, EVER attempt such an outing on my own.  Instead I follow Vance who knows his way around.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this plan.

Neither is there anything wrong with the plan of following Jesus through my life.  He knows where He is going and the best way for me to go in my life.  I am convinced of it.  The most difficult parts of the trail I travel through life occur usually when I decide to strike out on my own, or I think that I can handle it myself.  Thankfully Jesus is gracious and when I call out for His help He is faithful to lead me back to His way.

I am grateful, so very grateful for friends who know which way to go because I don't.