Remembering a Common Man


I think the last time I wrote for the blog I talked about a funeral, and I'm about to do it again. Not because I like funerals so much, but because reflecting on a person's legacy has a profound effect on me. It brings into focus the choices the person has made and how those choices affect their generation and the generations to follow.


I got to know Roy because his son was my best friend in college. It wasn't that I spent so much time with him back then, but I always enjoyed visiting their home, and I definitely came to respect and appreciate Roy. I didn't see him often after college, but our paths still crossed occasionally. I knew his health had been declining for the last few months, but it was still a shock to show up to work at the hospital and see the family and hear that the doctors had reached the end of what they could do for him. I'd like to think I'm still too young for people my age to be losing their parents. I was able to help care for Roy that night in the hospital, and by the next day they had agreed that going home on hospice would be the best choice. I brought my family by to see him the next evening, and he was visibly weaker but still able to speak.


“Lots of people have come to see me today, but the person I'm really waiting to see is Jesus.”


Words from the heart, and words with more impact than a hundred sermons. We talk about how our faith affects our view of life and death, but right there as he stared death in the face, Roy was going all in. He passed away the next afternoon, Easter Sunday.


Roy's memorial service was yesterday, and I was fascinated, as always, to see how people remembered him. One thing for sure, he was a common man, an everyday guy. He was a farmer, a machinist, a family man, and a fan of sprint car racing. There was really nothing famous or fancy about the person that he was. However, when they asked for people in the audience to share memories of Roy, I couldn't help but notice who stood up. Mostly men, mostly middle-aged and older, some from the church, and some who probably rarely go to church, but overall not the type who normally say a lot at memorial services. Their respect was evident.


            “Roy was my neighbor....”

            “Roy hauled hay for me....”

            “Roy worked for me in the machine shop....”

            “I worked with Roy in the hospital....”


There was ample evidence that you can be a common man, live a Godly life, and have an impact on the people around you. As a society we spend a lot of time keeping up with the Kardashians or wondering when the next royal baby will be born, but too often we overlook the potential of the common man who follows God. Even at Faith in the Field when we talk about the Epic Adventure program and fathers mentoring their children, we can tend to make it sound like good fathers are something rare and superhuman. I suppose it's part of human nature to assume that the rich and famous are more worthy of respect and recognition than others, but the truth is that the common man who has his priorities in the right places can have an unmistakeable impact on a lot of people. People may not aspire to be a common man, but the world would be better off with a few more like Roy.






My family has had one of those Christmas stories that you hear about and hope it never happens to you. Five days before Christmas we found out that my wife's aunt had passed away unexpectedly. One of those happy, funny aunts who is always glad to see you and makes you feel loved. Add to that loss that we still don't know exactly what happened, and we've had a few heavy days leading up to Christmas.

Then I got a call from my mother-in-law asking if I would speak at the memorial service. Grandma was hoping I would share a meditation and words of comfort for the family. Well, for Grandma I agreed to do it, but speaking at memorial services is a little out of my comfort range. I tend to be pretty emotional at that kind of service, and I'd rather be emotional sitting in a pew than standing in front of several hundred people. And what do you say when some of the questions don't have any answers?

On the other hand, I felt a sense of opportunity. An opportunity to comfort a lot of people who are special to me. An opportunity to express my faith. An opportunity to share the Word of God with some people who will mostly ignore it this Christmas.

One of my first moves was to send out some texts and e-mails and ask some friends to pray for me. I dug up the most recent e-mail about planning the next Faith in the Field event, replaced the subject line with “Prayer Request,” and sent a note off to the guys. Over the next few hours I got a bunch of replies expressing sympathy and encouragement and agreeing to pray for me. It was a huge boost to get that response.

All I can say is that their prayers were answered in unmistakeable ways. I spent several hours putting together the thoughts I wanted to share, but when I finished, there was no doubt that this was what I was supposed to share. I was actually a little fired up to get up there and say it. And I got up in front of those several hundred people with Kleenex box in hand, and I needed...none. Maybe I hit a home run, or maybe it was just a solid line-drive single, but I have to acknowledge that the prayers of my friends and family were huge.

So the next time you visit the Faith in the Field Facebook page or check out a Seeking the One DVD, I hope you'll recognize that we love to hunt and fish and talk about hunting and fishing, but we're not just about hunting and fishing. Following Christ is a full-time calling, and God touches every part of our lives. It was such a boost to my faith these last few days that when I needed support, I could even call my hunting buddies, and their prayers were answered.

Thanks, guys! It meant a lot to me.



Mark your calendars! Faith in the Field Movie Night Tour!


This year's never before seen footage, raffle prizes, guest speaker, pie & ice cream, and more! 

January 23rd Bend, OR @ Foundry Church
January 24th Canby, OR @ Bethany Evangelical Church
January 25th Blodgett, OR (near Corvallis) @ Blodgett Community Church
Admission is FREE - Doors open at 5pm, show starts at 6:45pm



Dads love to brag on their kids, so I guess you'll just have to listen to that for a minute here.


I've been looking forward to being able to hunt with my kids for a long time. With the mentored youth hunter program in Oregon, that means 9 years old is an important milestone for each of them--old enough to go on their first hunt. I've been laying out plans and arranging preference points for several years in order to be ready for each of them to have a chance at a mentored hunt each year from age 9 until they are old enough to buy their own tags. We've also spent time at the range and practicing at home to develop the shooting skills needed for a successful hunt. We've never been as ready as we wanted to be, but everyone is definitely learning along the way.



This was the year the older of my two boys turned 9, so we've been trying to fit in even more practice and preparation. (My daughter has already tackled 3 mentored hunts and is still waiting to bring something home, but that's a story for a future post.) According to the plan, I had applied for a doe tag in southwest Oregon where I thought we had a good chance of success. Everything led up to a Sunday afternoon drive to Roseburg in anticipation of a Monday morning hunt for a blacktail doe.


We actually spotted two deer from the parking area first thing that morning, but they were gone by the time we made it from the jeep to the gate. So, up the hill we went in search of a more cooperative deer. I was pretty worried about how everything would work out when our chance came for a shot. We had practiced mostly with the rifle on a bipod because that's the best way to get a steady shot, but anyone who has hunted knows that a real animal doesn't always present itself in a scenario where you can flop down and shoot from a prone position. I was hoping we wouldn't have too many missed opportunities due to our limitations.


After a full morning of rain, hiking, and seeing only a couple more distant deer, we finally decided to head out to the jeep for lunch and preparation for the evening hunt. That's when it happened. We were walking back down an old dirt road that is closed to vehicle traffic. "Deer in the road! Hold still!" First I ducked behind my son and set the rifle down on the bipod. Then he backed behind the gun and got ready. He had to be patient while we waited for a deer to stand broadside and clear of other deer, and they were getting a little nervous. Finally I said, "Can you see that one standing in the middle of the road? Go ahead and shoo--BOOOM!" A hundred yard shot, and thirty yards of tracking later, I heard, "Daddy, I found it. It's dead!" An excited phone call home soon followed.



We often say that kids can learn a lot of lessons about life when we take them hunting, but what do we mean? What are the lessons they learn? Let me tell you what I noticed taking a 9-year-old hunting. Experience has taught me that it's hard to slow down, but the slower you move, the more deer you see. It may be easier to walk down the middle of a gravel road, but it's a lot quieter to walk in the dirt and grass on the side of the road. You may not see a deer right now, but if you keep waving your arms and hands around, you will never see a deer before it sees you. Hunting presents a continual series of small choices, and often the outcome of the hunt depends on those choices. It's pretty overwhelming for a 9-year-old to keep up with it all, but learning to be aware of those little choices is a huge part of learning to be a successful hunter.


Having the same sense of awareness and self-control is critical for life in general, too. Knowing when to speak and when to keep your mouth shut, knowing how to respond to somebody who rubs you the wrong way, or knowing how to keep yourself out of trouble are usually directed by a similar series of small choices. If you pay attention to the little things, the big things are often taken care of before they become an issue. Learning to be aware of your choices in the woods can be great practice for learning to be aware of your choices in life.



Good job, buddy! We kept going, even in the rain, and you made a great shot. I'm looking forward to next year!




"Enjoy the Process Boys"


My college baseball coach had a saying that just unnerved me. You see we were not that great of a baseball program. Each year we would end up south of .500 in the win/loss column.....okay maybe south of .300. We had some talented players but our program did not have the money, facilities and the kind of weather to attract the best players. The other schools we competed against were able to go out and offer some full scholorships to get some top level pitchers and usually a few guys who could really spank the ball. We were basically outmanned talent wise against nearly every opponent we faced.

And since we didn't have the firepower to win consistently at that level our coach had a different kind of mantra. "Just enjoy the process, boys." 

To the 18 year old me that seemed like a cop out. Enjoying the process to me meant accepting graciously that we are losers. We cannot accomplish what the goal of the game is, we can't win, so let's change the goal.  Instead of winning lets just try and enjoy the process and have fun while we are getting our butt's kicked! My first two seasons in that program were very tough for me because I wanted to win and I didn't want to buy into what I percieved as "a losing mentality." I resisted it at every turn.

My third year in the program I finally started to understand what my coach meant by "Enjoy the process, boys" Honestly by that point I had probably heard him say it 1000 times but it never really sank in what he meant until my junior year. He meant that we needed to love the game enough, enjoy the game enough, to go through the process each day of working, practicing, trying to get better. And if we truly loved that process, truly enjoyed all that that entailed then we would be successful even if the scoreboard didn't show it. To love the game, give ourselves over to the game and put in the kind of effort every day to get better would be our only chance of finding success. And if he could teach us that lesson as young men it would be a concept that would follow us the rest of our lives.

I'm grateful now for the lessons Coach taught me. And I think there are some important truths in what he was teaching. There is not a scoreboard in life though the world would have us believe that there is. How differently would we 'play the game' if we could enjoy every detail of the process instead of being so focused on the result? What are we missing out on because we are not taking the time to be conciously aware that we are supposed to be enjoying the process?

The other day my daughter and I were discussing her upcoming hunting plans this fall. All she kept talking about was getting a big buck. She really hopes she gets some nice antlers for her wall this year. And using my best impersonation of my baseball coach I told her that she needed to "Just enjoy the process, girl".

I think that is some advice we could all remember as late summer and fall adventures are right on the horizon. We are lucky to be able to spend time hunting and fishing in this country. Out west where we live is some of the most beautiful country created! We get to spend time with family and friends out there. We get moments of solitude and stillness. We get fresh air. We get to feel the anticipation of cool brisk morning, the thrill of excitement that gives you goosebumps, gets your knees quivering, or send your  heart pounding through your chest. We love this! We get to feel the sense of accomplishment of a job well done and quite often we get to face the agony of defeat. We get to spend time in creation with the Creator. Don't miss it because you are so focused on a result. Look for God, listen for his voice. Proceed with a posture of gratefulness that we get to do this! And, just enjoy the process.




Tuning In....


My dog really impressed me the other day. We were out behind the house enjoying one of our daily morning walks when I heard a faint sound from way over on my neighbor’s property. I had to hear it twice to be sure, but it was the “putt, putt, putt, putt” sound quail make when they’re scurrying through the brush. Now understand that my dog is half Springer and half cattle dog mix (also known as an accident), so I never know how she’ll respond to birds. We had hunted pheasants several times last fall, but it had been months since we had been on birds of any kind, including the occasional quail on our property. So I looked over, expecting her to still be rooting around chasing mice or bugs or whatever it is she finds in the grass. Nope! She was in full hunt mode, flying up and down the trail, bouncing into the air, staring in the direction of the faint sound. She knew those birds were well beyond her limits, but there was no doubt they had her full attention!

I finished the walk thinking my dog might have more potential as a bird dog than I had realized. She hadn’t seen those quail for months, but the memory and instinct was right there when that sound hit her ears. She had heard thousands of bird calls since she last heard a quail, but she knew this was one that mattered. She was ready to go, and it was fun to watch!

You can probably guess where I’m headed with this. There are thousands of sounds and voices that we hear all day, every day. Lots of things trying to grab our time and attention. In the middle of that, God is also speaking to us, but it’s up to us to sort out His voice and hear it over everything else. It’s up to us to pay attention and hear what He has to say.

I want to take it one step farther, though. God allows us a choice as we listen. See, for my dog that choice is taken care of by instinct. Sparrows and chickadees are birds, but quail and pheasants are BIRDS! She knows which to ignore and which matter. For us, it’s not always so simple. Do I pass off this circumstance or that story as random chance, or do I look twice to see if God is in it? Anyone can recognize God’s voice if it comes packaged and labeled, but what about those subtle things where God is there if we choose to see Him? It’s human to be lazy and overlook those opportunities, but it’s a safe guess that God is waiting with good things for us far more often than we choose to recognize. It’s simply up to us to look for God, even in the mundane things that seem empty at first glance.

Keep your eyes and ears open for God’s voice and the cackle of the first pheasant of the fall coming out of the grass!



Hello Trouble


I ran acrossed this video on You Tube several weeks ago. When I first saw it I felt something stir in my heart. "Good marketing I thought. Those folks at Gerber know their audience and they know how to appeal to them." But as time passed I kept thinking back to this video.

Now I have learned over the years that when something moves me whether it it be a movie, a sunset, a song on the radio, a book, or even an ad like this one that it usually means the Holy Spirit is trying to get my attention. There is something more going on and it's worth unpacking the bag and trying find the treasure.

I think the treasure is that this video is an image of man as we were created to be. Strong, courageous, fearless, unwavering, confident; understanding that we have an enemy who is trouble....and we go looking for him. Don't you want to live like that? I think we all do. But I also think that more often than not their is a fog that surrounds our lives and we lose sight of who we are at the core of our being. We shrink back and what we offer the world, our friends, our family our jobs is often less than what we could be giving.

If Jesus was the image that God put on this earth to show us what a man looks like when he walks with God, then we would do well to study the life of Jesus, right? I can see Jesus in the video above, can't you?

Hello Trouble? As is walking into the temple on the sabbath and healing a man in front of  the pharisees, knowing it will make the religious leaders 'furious with rage'. In fact Jesus is constantly picking fights with these guys!

Hello Trouble. As in facing the tempation of satan in the wilderness.

Hello Trouble. As in driving out demons. Commanding storms to cease.

Hello Trouble. Like befriending tax collectors, sinners, talking with prostitutes in the town square, touching and healing the lame and the sick.

How about fighting for justice, teaching with authority, turning tables over in the temple turned casino? Hello Trouble.

Hello Trouble. That night in Gethsemane. The fervent prayer all night long. Sweat pouring off his brow. Giving himself up to the soldiers. Being beat up, spit upon, whipped, ridiculed.....Hello Trouble.

Carrying the cross up the hill, his beaten body pushed past it's limit. Then the crown. And more ridicule followed by the nails and then a slow, painful death. But that is not the end....

Hello Trouble!....he decends to the depths of hell and wrestles the keys of sin and death away from Satan and returns victorious 3 days later.

I think a lot of Christians miss the impact of Jesus' life because they miss a very key component in all of this. Jesus was fully man. We tend to think, "Well yeah Jesus was great, but he was God so of course he did all kinds of amazing things." Kind of. Jesus was fully man and he was fully God. But while on earth Jesus humbled himself as a man. Fully as a man. All of the things he did on this earth was him acting 100% as man and also walking closley with God the father. Just as we are called to do. Jesus did not cheat on the test. He was showing us how to live and what can be done if we walk in close relationship with God.

So to the point. I think this video stirred my soul because I think we all need to be reminded of just who we are, what we were created to be and whose image we bear. There is no condemnation. None whatsoever. Instead we should feel empowered. Because if you are a Christian, that same power is dwelling inside of you! You and I just need to believe it.

And then lets go looking for some trouble!