Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feast or Thanksgiving

Some of the first Thanksgivings were celebration feasts from bountiful food supplies and did not recognize God as the supplier. One of the first feasts was in Florida in 1565. In 1607 the governor of the Jamestown colony said this day should be kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God. The Plymouth colony started out as a feast until drought hit and after prayers for rain God quenched the parched ground. It was than declared a day of thanksgiving to God.

George Washington declared the first national Thanksgiving Day after the British defeat at Saratoga. He recognized the Providence of Almighty God in his victory over the British. He also stated that through prayers God forgives because of Jesus Christ and blots all sins from memory.

It seems that this day has changed significantly from Washington’s day to more of a feast of our bounties. Many Americans are more interested in the parades and football than praising God for his rich blessings. We have been blessed because our founding fathers realized the importance of God in every part of their lives. Millions of families will gather this week to share a meal which is great. Hopefully they will take time to praise God.

Thursday our family will thank God for our homes, each other, and our health. We will recognize God’s love for us through Jesus and his forgiveness of our sins. We put all our hope in Him.

Yes, we will have too much food as all the good cooks bake and prepare the meal. And in usual tradition some of us will spend the morning in the woods deer hunting. This day has often been a blessing to us for a deer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

God's Paintbrush

The sunsets this fall have been spectacular with God painting shades of orange and purple across the western sky. I have been in the woods more this fall so I always look forward to see how God will end the day. I find a peace in his artwork; a reminder He is in control. The day’s end is often announced by a pack of coyotes as they prepare for a night of hunting. Once a bull elk bugled in the twilight and I thanked God for this wonderful part of His creation.

In a world spinning out of control, I find strength and confidence in the wild places and animals God created. There is order and harmony in nature because a great God planned it that way. Why can’t people see that creation is so wonderful compared to evolving from muddy goo? The bright colors of a delicate butterfly, how a hummingbird can fly backwards announce a Creator.

Get outside this week and enjoy God’s creation. Watch a sunrise or sunset; take a walk in the woods. Go slow so you won’t miss anything. Set down on a log and listen. You will be in God’s garden where you can talk to Him without distraction.

I know He put deer in the garden but I can’t find them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In a Jam

The familiar drone of the Grumman Goose was heard before we could see the plane as Phil came in low as usual. We had just completed a ten day brown bear hunt with two archers. One client scored on a nice bear the first morning and the other had two opportunities but didn’t get a shot. It had been a sunny morning which made breaking down camp a pleasant task but Phil said a cloud front was coming in fast and we couldn’t get through the mountain pass he wanted to take and drop me off at Kulik Lake for the next bear hunt. So we were going to go out the north end of the lake and up a long shoot between two mountains. As we flew over the north end where a river entered, the water was red with sockeye salmon and we enjoyed seeing this spectacular phenomenon. Ahead of us loomed several glaciers that hung on the mountain sides and we could see the ascent over the mountain range would take a while since the goose wasn’t known for speed but dependability. Dependability would prove crucial very soon. The glaciers seemed like we could almost reach out and touch them when we hit the first turbulent. The old plane shuttered but the engines growled on up the mountain. A few minutes later the plane shook then dropped about fifty feet like we were being push down by a powerful unseen force. The camp gear in the cargo hold hit the ceiling and we braced our bodies to stay in the seats. The sudden drop shut off the engines and Phil was working to restart the plane; we were relieved to hear the engines come to life. This scenario repeated at least three times before the plane topped the mountain range. Minutes later we were landing where I would make camp for the next two weeks. Phil said that was the worst turbulent he had experienced in forty years of flying. Wow, we got to share in that! When I reached the sand shoreline I fell down and kissed the ground.

Things were bound to get better and I had two days alone before the clients would be flown in. Soon I was all alone in the stillness of the wilderness and loved it. I set up the clients’ tent, cook tent, and guide tent. I was in the cook tent putting things in order when a bear growled just a few feet away. I chambered a round in my .338 magnum and poked my head outside. I heard it walking behind the client tent so hollered at it and could hear the bear leaving. Next, I tried to eject the shell which didn’t want to come out of the rifle so I hit the bolt real hard and out popped a shell without the slug. I tore my gear bags apart looking for the aluminum cleaning rod to knock out the slug but realized it was in Idaho. You get creative in these circumstances, like whittling a willow branch to fit down the barrel and several other hair brained ideas that didn’t work. The slug would not come out so I would have to wait until the plane arrived. It would be just me, the bears, and a jammed gun.

It turned out okay and I enjoyed the two days with just me and God on a beautiful lake He had created. I had no choice but to put my complete trust in Him. I had mixed feelings when I heard the plane approaching but at least they had a cleaning rod to knock out the bullet. Lester had to land in a protected bay about a mile away as a good blow with driving rain was coming down. Welcome to Alaska.

We often get in a jam and want God to bail us out. That wouldn’t be so bad if we had confided in Him in the first place. If we only had the foresight to see these situations coming but often we don’t notice until we are in the jam. For me it is male tunnel vision. Most of us guys think we can do alright on our own without God’s help. I’m slowly learning it is easier to turn things over to Him. Try it; it will save you ulcers and high blood pressure. Reading the Psalms helps me put life in perspective. David was a guy just like us, often trying it own his own. He worked through the problems and realized life went better when he put God first.

Invite God into your life this week. Problems always look smaller when He is involved. Have a great week and don’t get in a jam.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fear Not

A light snow had fallen overnight on the tundra and this was the last day for our clients, two brothers from Wisconsin, to hunt. Caribou hunting had been difficult all week for these two guys so Justin and I teamed up to take them out. We left our rifles in camp to lighten our load; after all what could go wrong hunting caribou? Shortly after day light we were setting on a hill that offered a good view of the valley. Soon a large herd entered the far end of the valley over a mile away and looked like they would skirt the edge of a mountain above the main caribou route so we decided to make a run for it to cut them off. Caribou move very fast at a walk so we took off like high school sprinters. Our course required us to cut through a band of thick alders that stretched for miles at the bottom of the mountain range. I was in the lead as we entered the brush and could hear the three others guys were right behind as we sounded more like a herd of elephants than three hunters’ sneaking on this herd. Half way through the alders I looked down to see a fresh grizzly bear bed in the snow but didn’t slow up. As we broke out of the alder patch a loud popping of teeth sounded behind us accompanied by threatening huffing. We looked back to see a large grizzly sow with two cubs. The hair was raised on her back as she stood on her hind legs and we knew she meant business. I could feel fear building fast as I pressed on to put some distance between the sow and us. We had just looked death in the face and recalled later how fortunate we all were.

There is no mama on earth more protective than a grizzly bear. I have a healthy respect for any grizzly knowing what they are capable to do with their massive claws and bone crunching teeth. I know meeting a bear can be dangerous yet I try to remain calm and assess the situation by reading the bear’s body language. I lived with them for five falls in Alaska and found most of them wanted to avoid conflict. If I would have feared the bears, they would have picked up on that. A calm and confident attitude is best when you encounter a grizzly.

After this week’s national elections, many Christians are in fear that the life style they believe in will come under more assaults. They are probably right but that is no reason for fear to rule their lives. Remember we have a great God and He wins in the end! God sets up rulers and disposes them as He chooses. We just can’t see into the future so we don’t know His plans.

Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. I suggest Christians pray for guidance in these times and for our country. Remember we are to let Christ’s light to the world. Read Ephesians 6:10 to 18 and you will be reminded what our fight is about and how to do it as an effective warrior for Christ.