-Quinton and family
Last night I finished up my Christmas shopping. That's right December 23rd at about 8:30pm. Actually that is about 13 or 14 hours earlier than I finished my Christmas shopping last year so I'm getting better. But out looking around last night I found myself thinking about gifts and the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas. You know, you hear it all started by some guy named St. Nick who took some toys down to an orphanage or by the wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. But I'm convinced that the reason gift giving began is because we received the greatest gift ever imaginable that first Christmas.
We got Jesus. We got rescue.
His life was a demonstration of how to walk with God. He was loving, fierce, compassionate, devoted to his Father, passionate about his mission. He was the greatest man to ever walk the earth. He came to heal, to restore, to encourage, to bless and to fight for our freedom!
His death on the cross and ressurection 3 days later paid the price for our sin and paved the way for us to be saved. Romans 6:11 says we are now dead to sin and alive in Christ.
By his ascension into heaven we were given the Holy Spirit as our counsel. We were given authority over satan and we are now seated with Christ. (Eph 2:6, Eph 1:20-22)
Indeed, we were given the greatest gift ever conceived. Have you accepted it?
I know that for most of us who enjoy spending time in the outdoors we don't really need to question whether or not God exists. I think most of us deep down have that understanding. The sunrise and sunsets, the moon phases, the tides, the wind and thunderstorms. The beauty and ruggedness of the mountains, the changing seasons.......The life cycle of a salmon, hatched in a tiny creek high in the mountains of Idaho. How does this creature make its way out to the ocean, spend its life 50-60 miles off the shore of Alaska and then find its way back to the very same creek high in the mountains of Idaho 4 years later? There is a design, and that design points to The Designer. We know that down deep if we are honest with ourselves.
And if we are honest with ouselves we will also know that we have a deep longing for life as it should be. As it was meant to be. We were created for more than this life. God has put eternity in our hearts. (Eccl 3:11) Nothing that we grasp for will fill that void short of a relationship with God and the promise that it is all coming.....soon. And it is unfathonable. (I'll talk more about heaven next time.)
We need to accept the gift.
I don't need to tell you that there is an ending. For all of us. Have you faced this? Even if we do manage to find a little of heaven on earth, if we are some of the few find love and happiness and moments of fulfillment.... I hope you do experience that, but you cannot hang on to it. Your health will not last forever. You will get old and frail. Your friends and loved ones will slip from your grasp one by one. Your work will never be finished and just like everyone who has gone before you, you will die.
Then what? Is that the end? Isn't that hopeless! "Life is a tale, told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". It is tragic how many people satan has led to believe that.
So do you want to accept the greatest gift ever given?
It's not difficult to do and there is no magic to it. God is real and He hears the cries of an honest heart. So pray something like this:
Dear God, I know you are real and I know I need you. There is an emptiness inside of me that I need you to come and fill. Please forgive me for the ways that I've tried to fill the void with other things. I know now that I need you and you a lone. I admit that I am a sinner and that I am in need of your forgiveness. Please send your Holy Spirit to counsel me and to lead me into a deeper relationship with you. I don't really know all that I am suppossed to do but I do know that I need to turn my life over to you and let you lead me. And so I accept your free gift of salvation and I claim that you are now king of my life.
Thank you Father. Amen.
If you said this prayer or your version of it. Congratulations! Eternal life begins today and let me welcome you to the family! All of heaven is throwing a party in your honor right now. You are saved, your future is secure! But you will want to keep moving forward in your new life in Christ. Satan will come for you now and try to get you to believe all of kinds of lies to keep you from becoming fully alive and to prevent you from becoming big time trouble for him. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org We would like to get you access to some more information, be praying for you and try and suppoprt you in anyway we can as you begin an exciting new life in Christ!
Likewise, if you read this and you have more questions, contact us. We would love to be a resource and explain things in greater detail. Don't hesitate, please!
There's no better time than now to reflect on the true nature of Christ's birth...the following is an excerpt from "Waking the Dead" by John Eldredge...
Many people think the theme of war ends with the Old Testament. Not at all. Jesus says, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). In fact, his birth involved another battle in heaven (Rev. 12:1-5, 7-8, 17).
The birth of Christ was an act of war, an invasion. The Enemy knew it and tried to kill him as a babe (Matt. 2:13). The whole life of Christ is marked by battle and confrontation. He kicks out demons with a stern command. He rebukes a fever and it leaves Peter's mother-in-law. He rebukes a storm and it subsides. He confronts the Pharisees time and again to set God's people free from legalism. In a loud voice he wakes Lazarus from the dead. He descends to hell, wrestles the keys of hell and death from Satan, and leads a train of captives free (Eph. 4:8-9; Rev. 1:18). And when he returns, I might point out, Jesus will come mounted on a steed of war, with his robe dipped in blood, armed for battle (Rev. 19:11-15).
War is not just one among many themes in the Bible. It is the backdrop for the whole Story, the context for everything else. God is at war. He is trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored. And what is he fighting for? Our freedom and restoration. The glory of God is man fully alive. In the meantime, Paul says, arm yourselves, and the first piece of equipment he urges us to don is the belt of truth (Eph. 6:10-18). We arm ourselves by getting a good, solid grip on our situation, by getting some clarity on the battle over our lives. God's intentions toward us are life; those intentions are opposed. (Waking the Dead , 15-16)
"He has made everything beautiful in it's time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11
The footnote for this verse in my NIV Bible says the following-
"God's tantalizing world is too big for us, yet its satisfactions are too small. Since we were made for eternity, the things of time cannot fully and permanently satisfy."
Pascal said, "We are never living, but hoping to live."
And George Eliot said, "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them."
In the last year one of the things I have been trying to is to pay attention to the movements of my heart (I am aware that sounds really feminine, but hang with me). Seriously though, when something stirs me I've been trying to pay attention to it. The beauty of creation and the things I've seen and experienced in the wild this year has moved me. Certain movies have brought me to tears. Situations have come up in my life and I have experienced all sorts of emotions like anger, frustration, dissapointment. And on the other end of the spectrum I've experienced laughter, joy, love and connecting with close friends on a deep level.
But there has also been this underlying discontentment with my life and I have been really confused by it. I mean I love my life, I'm not depressed for heavens sake. But I'm well aware that I'm not fully content. And I've been feeling a little guilty about it to be honest. Really, haven't we been told that we should learn to be content? We should just be happy and love everybody and be a light for all to see, right?
But what I'm learning is that life as usual is not the life I want. It is not the life I need. And get this, It is not the life I was made for! God set eternity in our hearts. That is, in our desire. I don't need to apologize for wanting for, I was created for it! Ecclesiastes tells us fairly plainly I think that contentment is not even possible. We are all longing for something more.
And most of us have tried to fill the void with just about everything except what we truly long for. A new job, a new car, a new girlfriend, a new wife, go to more parties, drink a little more, live a little higher lifestyle, take an exotic vacation, etc.
But, the deepest thirst, that holy longing that we feel down deep can only be quenched by walking with God into the desires that he has placed in our hearts.
Isn't that kind of amazing to think about. What I long for, the life I desire, is the very life God intended for me. His will and my longing are one in the same.
"If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would ask me for a drink and I would give you fresh living water" John 4:10 The Message
"The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life" John 4:18 The Message
We were not created for this world. We were created for a perfect paradise. We were created for deep soul communion with God. We don't get to have it all right now. And what we do get we have to fight pretty hard for. I think a little holy discontent is appropriate if we let those longings drive our hearts closer to God and his purposes.
|Jeff and Boone, anxious to get outside in early spring...|
|Don't worry, mom wasn't far away...|
|First hunt of the year...|
|John Sr and Jr after a successful spring bear hunt...|
|Spring Turkey's in SW OR|
|Setting up the 3D range...|
|Or are they decoys???|
|Wildlife are abundant at "Dirt Greens" golf links...|
|Bowfishing to fill the downtime of summer...|
|Torrey's once in a lifetime Oregon bighorn...|
|David's first buck!|
|Mike's rain-soaked blacktail...|
|Scott on the camera...|
|Proud dad...Morgan's first deer!|
|Landscape of anticipation...|
|Scott's first Rocky Mountain experience...|
|Muley's in the field...|
|Dad with his boys...click HERE for more on this, our latest hunt...|