Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gone Too Soon

We have had golden retrievers all our married life and our daughters also have had the red dogs in their families. It has been fun watching Cody, Mattie, and Sadie playing in a whirlwind of red blur. Unfortunately, Cody’s life has been cut short from cancer at age seven. How do you explain that to two little girls who loved him dearly. Cody was a lot like our first golden Pal; guarding the family was always a priority. Cody’s first owner was abusive and he ended up in a shelter and was adopted by a loving family. They gave him up to Jolene’s family when they decided to go on a missionary trip for two years. Since Cody didn’t trust men he gave me a very cool reception at our first meeting and I respected him for it. It didn’t take me long to win him over and he would howl and bark when I went to Jolene’s if I didn’t pet him. Cody loved to spend time at our house where he could play with Sadie and swim in the pond. The dog would smile from ear to ear. He leaves a big hole in our hearts.

We were in Sunday school class years ago when a couple asked if their dog which had just died went to Heaven. The teacher immediately went into a long lecture embarrassing the people who left the church and as far as I know still don’t attend a church. I believe their question could have been handled better. This event also has affected my life as I haven’t attended an adult Sunday school class for years knowing it drove two hurting people from church and maybe from God.

Christian author John Eldridge believes there are animals in Heaven. After his golden retriever died, John went to prayer asking Jesus if his pet was in Heaven. Moments later John heard a “Yes”. John then asked what he was doing. “Chasing balls” was the reply.

A friend of ours lost their family dog and his eleven year old son grieved for months about the loss of his dog. One night the son had a dream which I believe only God could give. The boy went to Heaven and was greeted by an angel who showed him many wonders that were too awesome for an eleven year old to make up. He remembered them in great detail. Then he asked the angel if his dog was there and the angel said, “Yes, do you want to see him?” He got to hug the dog again and was very comforted by the dream. I encouraged the father to make a children’s book with his son about the dream since he is an artist. I think this would be a wonderful book for children and adults.

There were animals in the garden before man sinned and all were at peace. I believe Heaven is a lot like the garden full of all of God’s goodness. After all, it wasn’t the animals that caused the earth to go bad, it was man. If God can forgive us, I’m sure He can find room for the rest of his creation.

Dogs are God’s gift to us and leave a huge paw print on our hearts.

Thank you Father for helping me write this difficult message.

Thank you Dr. Bob for being such a super vet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good News Bad News

Several years ago I guided white tail hunters for a local outfitter. The weather was very warm for November so the deer were not active. I was guiding a hunter named John from Indiana. John and I had hunted several areas and tried rattling but never had a buck respond. One morning I put John in a tree stand in a sliver of timber along a lake where a buck had made some ground scrapes and told him I would be back in about three hours. I drove two miles above the lake where a creek meandered through a brushy draw that I knew contained deer. There was a power line that cut through the timber toward the creek and I stopped to check a deer trail about seventy yards from the road. As I got to the trail, some fresh tracks revealed a doe had used it recently. Then I heard a buck grunting continuously as he followed the scent of the doe. The three by three buck and I stared at each other from about fifty feet apart at the power line cut. I had raised my rifle part way to the shoulder but knew I could not shoot this deer so slowly lowered the gun to my waist. The buck immediately lowered his rack and charged. Time slipped into slow motion but it only took him two bounds and he was ten feet away and still coming. I pulled up the rifle to my waist, pointed it and fired. The buck cart wheeled backwards and lay dead. I couldn’t believe what had happened as I looked down at the buck. What was I going to tell John when he had not even seen a deer?

I went back to John later in the morning and asked him if he saw any deer. “No” was the quick reply. He asked how my morning had gone. I said, “Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is I saw a buck. The bad news is he charged me and I shot him at ten feet.” I could see that John didn’t believe my story. Unfortunately John went home without a deer and I am sure the bad news stuck with him for a long time.

We sometimes do the same thing with new Christians. We have the good news of the saving grace through Jesus as they enter a new walk with God. Satan does not own them anymore; they are free. Now we tell them the bad news. “You have to take 101, 201, 301, become a member, volunteer for greeter, Sunday school teacher, work in nursery, help with youth group and a host of other mandates. We pile enough Christian material on them to earn a degree. All many of them want is to get to know God and read the Bible. Do you see why many people leave church?

Maybe if we took them along side and helped them grow in Christ before we saddle them with jobs, they would stay excited. Along the way they will find their gifts to serve God. I believe Christ intended Christians to serve outside the church walls more than inside. How else do we evangelize the community?

What is your gift? Are you building relationships outside the church to reach people for Christ? Yes, it is okay if you want to teach Sunday school. Just go out and tell the Good News.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Refreshing the Soul

The realities of life hit the world big time the last two weeks. Stock markets crashed, governments scrambled to stabilize their monetary systems, people have lost life fortunes and many individuals saw their retirement incomes plummet. The news media does a good job of promoting fear and anxiety. What is a person to do?

At times like these I am reminded of Matthew 6: 25 through 34. Most of us should really start at verse 19. When we started the carving business I wondered how we would survive and asked God to show me in His Word. I opened my Bible to Matthew 6:25. That was the signature verse on the back of my carvings for a long time because I thought many other people needed the peace this scripture offers. Have these twelve years always been easy? No, they haven’t but I have grown a lot with the help from God and He isn’t done with me yet.

There is nothing like a walk in the woods to help me clear my mind and refresh my soul. It brings me back to the basics with God. Sunday afternoon I put on my pack, loaded the rifle and went for a walk to search for a whitetail buck. It was a cool crisp day with the sun shining brightly through a beautiful blue sky only God could create. It seemed I could almost touch it. I meandered around checking a few trails and set down on a small timbered ridge for a while and reminisced about the big buck I shot three years ago from this spot. I thought about staying there until dark but I was pulled to my feet by what might be found up on the old road two hundred yards above me. An hour later found me in the clear cut that has been productive for Ardella and I the last two years. The green and gold of the trees jumped off the mountains into the amazing blue sky and I felt worries swept away by God’s artwork. Two Ravens came by playing tag and I was reminded of Luke 12: 24.

About six o’clock a young buck appeared one hundred yards below me and I watched him until he fed out of sight. Slowly the light faded and a beautiful full moon rose over the Trestle Creek Mountains. I put the pack back on and headed for the cabin. Today wasn’t really about deer hunting; it was about refreshing my soul.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Can You Hear the Bell

One of my favorite movies is the Polar Express because it is about believing. The children were the only ones who could hear the bell because they believed. People are the same way with God; only those who have faith and believe in Him can hear Him. I often get asked what Into The Wild Ministries believes so I will list some.

I believe in the God of the Bible, Creator of the universe.
I believe Jesus is Savoir and God’s only son.
I believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life.
I believe in the Trinity.
I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and is complete.
I believe God is love and wants everyone to spend eternity with Him.
I believe he gave us free choice.
I believe God wants a personal relationship with us.

These are the beliefs that guide this ministry but I do have several personal ones.
I believe marriage is to be between a man and a woman.
I believe abortion is an abomination to our country and we will be judged for it.
I believe in the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
I believe shooting an animal inside a high fence is not hunting.
I believe the far left environmental groups will use the liberal court system to slowly choke off our right to hunt.
I believe our country is sliding into moral decay.
I believe many of the world’s problems could be solved around a camp fire.
I believe children raised in the outdoors are better grounded in life.

What you believe is important. Can you hear the bell?