Fighting Famine


Reading in the Old Testament can be unsettling sometimes. You can be reading along about sin, judgment, and destruction that happened 3,000 years ago and feeling glad you don’t live in those times, and then suddenly you feel a little uncomfortable because this 3,000-year-old story sounds a little too much like the United States of America today. We know we have issues with corporate greed or abortion or exploitation of children around us now, but it gets awkward when we start reading what God said about these kinds of sins back then. We’re pretty comfortable with the thought that God no longer punishes entire nations like He did in the Old Testament, but you sure don’t get that comforting thought from reading the old prophets.

The verse that did this for me during the past week comes from the prophet Amos:

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” (Amos 8:11, KJV)

We read stories in the Bible where God used a famine to get people’s attention when they weren’t following Him (remember Elijah and King Ahab?), but this sounds like something different. What is a famine of hearing the words of the Lord?

Historically, we could say this verse foretells the “Silent Years” between the Old and New Testaments—several centuries that sort of disappear because they aren’t mentioned in the Bible. There are some great stories in history that show God was still taking care of His people during that time, but there seems to have been very few times where God communicated directly with anyone. This view would be great for explaining that verse and still keeping us comfortably separated from those people back there.

I really think, though, that the famine Amos described was not in the speaking, but in the hearing. God would have been happy to speak to people (and perhaps was trying to), but the real famine was that they wouldn’t listen. A few verses earlier Amos tells how the people would celebrate the Sabbaths and worship at religious feasts, but all they could think about was when those days would be over so they could go back to their businesses and continue their practices of cheating people and taking advantage of the poor. They didn’t want to listen to God, because they knew they would have to change their ways.

Does that sound more like us? Almost everyone likes to celebrate Christmas, but most people sort of hurry past the part about the baby in the manger. And don’t even bother with the question of why He came; that’s too disruptive of our holiday spirit. What about when we go to church, but our minds are busy with Monday’s job assignment or home improvement projects or (dare I say it?) our next hunting trip? I’ll confess that it can be tough to pay attention to reading my Bible when I’d rather be reading the 2012 Oregon Big Game Regulations. Yep, that sounds like America today, and we’re going to have to work on finding the right priorities for our planning and dreaming and celebrating if we want to hear God speak. I suspect we’ll need to be willing to change our ways, too.

This trail of thought has led me around to the purpose of Faith in the Field. Straight from the main page of the website, the vision is “to introduce people to Christ through the glory of His creation!” In light of that verse in Amos, it’s an opportunity to fight the famine. To use the avenue of our shared love for the outdoors to remind people that God is real, God is relevant, and what He says matters. To provide an opportunity for hunting buddies to share what they’ve learned about God when the topic might seem a little awkward. To get kids together with mentors who can demonstrate that knowing God and hearing Him is an essential part of navigating life. To encourage fathers to deliberately invest in their children’s lives and encourage them to hear God as well. And perhaps to remind that solo guy somewhere on a ridge in the Eagle Caps to stop and bow his head, acknowledge his Creator, and listen for more than just the bugle of another bull.

Keep listening, my friends.



Our year in Photos - DVD coming soon!


Our last hunt of the year just wrapped up as my 13 year old niece took her first elk! And as I sit here at 1:00am, slightly overwhelmed with footage and editing yet to do, eyes burning from staring at a computer for far too long, and the periodic thoughts of burn out...I'm more consumed in realizing the blessings we've been a part of in 2011, and remain excited for our 3rd and best DVD yet! So before I hit the hay tonight, I wanted to reflect on the year and share it with you through photos. You can look forward to seeing each of these hunts on this year's film, coming out by February.

We started the year with our annual trek south after gobblers, and ended up taking 3 great birds on pictured here...

And as you'll see as you scroll, we had a great bear season! The spring was tough...wet and late...and we only connected on one bear. John's little brother, Matt, was home from Afghanistan, and took this bear with Dad and brother alongside...

In August, fall bear fun began, and started off with John and John Sr finding this bear on a weekday evening jaunt...

The very next night, "Davey Boy", often times behind the camera, stepped into the screen to take his first bear!

In mid August, I headed out with John and Dave on a bear hunt we'll never forget. We connected on 3 bears in less than 24 hours! Mine was taken the first evening of our hunt...

John took this cinnamon tipped bear the next morning...

And that same afternoon, Dave passed on this bear with a rifle, but John fulfilled his long time dream of taking an Oregon Black Bear with a bow, spot and stalk style...

Later in August, Davey Boy and I were STOKED to once again tag along on one of Oregon's most coveted adventures, a bighorn sheep hunt in SE Oregon with our new friend, Scott. He took a beautiful ram in gorgeous country with family and friends there to enjoy it all...

Meanwhile, John was over east, readying his bow for another hunt, and connected on his largest archery elk to date...

Also part of our Faith in the Field crew, Andrew and friends filmed his brother taking a fine 4 point mule deer in the rolling sage...

A highlight of the year was our hunt with 18 year old Jessica from South Carolina, who'd battled 2 forms of cancer for 4 years of her life. Now in remission, she chose an Oregon Elk hunt as her "Dream Hunt," made possible by the Outdoor Dream Foundation, Stimson Lumber and RMEF...and her dream came true while our camera's were rolling...

In his third attempt with me as his guide, my cousin Jake FINALLY connected on his very first buck! Opening day of western Oregon rifle deer season...gotta love it!

And on our last hunt of the year, my dad, brother and niece headed out on her youth cow hunt here in the Northwest, where she took her very first elk!!!

It was a fun year...and I can't thank everyone who was involved enough! We enjoy notching tags, but the most satisfying part of what we do is spending time with friends, new and old, and enjoying everything the diversity of Oregon has to offer...from the beauty of a sunset to the meaningful conversations we share in the company of the wilderness. 

Bed time for me now...barring any computer glitches, the DVD should be ready by the end of January! I'll make sure you all know when we begin taking pre-orders. HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS!!!

In closing, I'll leave you with a quote from Primal Dreams...if you haven't seen it, watch it...

"Hunting is much more than killing, it's about human beings being absorbed by God's Creation...share it with those who may never know the truth." 

...and my favorite shots of the year...perhaps a dvd cover... 


Send us your photos in the field!


As hunting seasons wind down, memories will have to hold us over until next year...and for those of you who captured your success in a photo, we'd love to help you preserve, and display it! We'd like to include your field photos in a slideshow at the end our newest DVD coming out in February! Email your 2011 photos to by the end of the year to be a part of the adventure. 

We're looking forward to seeing each one, and having you be a part of this year's film! Don't be shy...they don't have to be perfect...they just have to be yours. :) Lastly, in sending an email with photos attached, you will be giving permission for us to use your photos in our 2011 DVD, and agree all photos are your own. -Jeff




Last week I got a well timed email from one our team members here at FITF.  The message was some encouragement to us to keep fighting hard to get the ministry portion of FITF going and also a reminder to continue fighting hard to be the kind of men God can use.  In the email he talked about the song "Courageous" by Casting Crowns and he copied the lyrics to the email.  I thought the song was really powerful so I checked it out on you-tube to get some more information.  In the video linked below Mark Hall of Casting Crowns describes what was going on in his mind when wrote this awesome song.  I think his message is a powerful one.  Check it out!

Lord, grant us more courage!





Tag Soup


Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later I guess.  I've had quite a streak going that ended this year.  I started deer hunting when I was 12 years old and I have punched my deer tag every year since.  Until this year.  I'm proud of my 23 year success streak, but really I'm kind of glad it is over.  My kids are now old enough to hunt now and I really need to turn my focus towards helping them in the next several seasons.  It will be kind of nice not to have to be sub-conciously thinking about keeping a streak alive.

It is kind of funny how this season went though.  I hunted over on the east side again and put in five pretty long days chasing mule deer around the beautiful and diverse country.  I had some opportunities.  Four in fact, but I missed 3 shots at moving deer and the best shot I had was at 200 yards standing broadside as the last daylight was fading.....well, that opportunity still haunts me.

That haunting though, is what keeps me coming back.  The challenge of the hunt and the fact that killing a buck is not an easy task is what makes hunting so satisfying.

During my hunt when things were not panning out so well, frustration crept in and I was kind of questioning God as to why things were going so poorly.  My question to God was, "What is this all about, Lord.  I'm a good hunter and a good shot, are you trying to teach me something here?"  What I got was just a silence from God which served to confuse me more.

Fast forward a few weeks after and I'm out in the old coast range hills west of the town I grew up in hunting with my daughter.  It suprised me how many times during her hunt I conjured up fond memories of the bucks that got away in those old familiar areas.  The ones that got away still haunt me 20+ years later.

I think when success comes too easy we can miss out on a big part of what hunting is about.  The gutwrench, heartache and deep dissapointment.  The haunting, the sleepless nights, the visions of monsters getting away in our dreams as we try and sleep, the should haves, the shouldn't haves, the second guessing and the realization that maybe we are less powerful than we think we are in the outdoors.  I wouldn't trade those lessons and those emotions for anything.  It is what keeps me coming back!

This year my daughter almost had a chance at a buck.  As she was setting up to shoot the fog rolled up the draw from below on a strong wind and for about five minutes we couldn't see the buck.  When the fog blew out we could not find him anywhere.......haunting.

My son was hunting under the Oregon mentored youth program usingh my dad's tag.  He had a really nice 3 point come into a clearing chasing a doe.  I was by his side as his heart started racing and knees began to shake.  He pulled up for a 50 yard shot and completely missed.  The buck ran off into the trees and he looked like he might start to cry......haunting.

As I watched him groan I knew the exact emotions that he was feeling.  Emotions so familiar, and I think I began to understand what God might have been trying to remind me of during my hunt.

I patted Grant on the back and said, "Grant, the opportunities don't get much better than that.  But you know I missed a lot of easy shots at nice bucks when I first started hunting. It is part of learning and part of what makes this such a challenge.  The memory of what happened tonight will always be with you, but it will make the accomplishment of getting your first buck that much sweeter."

A couple of seconds later he says, "Dad, didn't you miss a lot of nice bucks this year?"  :)



The watering hole...


If you’ve spent any time in the southeast corner of Oregon, you know that water is the defining characteristic of the landscape.  Survival for plants and animals depends on access to enough moisture to meet their daily needs.  Without water, plants turn brown, and animals look for new areas to forage.  You really notice this when you're out hiking and come across a dried-up stock pond or water hole.  There’s no reason for animals to visit the bare, sun-baked earth anymore, and the only sign of their past visits is the deep footprints left as the pond turned to muck before the water dried up completely.  There may be some water when the snow melts in spring, but otherwise these dry beds seem to mock the intelligence of their builder as they lie there, dry and forsaken, with no water or animals in sight.

On the other hand, when you find a source of water, the change is remarkable.  Driving south from Burns toward Frenchglen, you can’t help but notice the contrast between the sage and rimrock on the dry slopes to the right, and the thick, green grasses, willows, and sprawling marshes along the Blitzen River on the left.  This oasis holds far more nesting waterfowl, marsh birds, and mosquitoes than most places here in western Oregon where water is abundant, and more than a few deer, including some enormous bucks found in that valley.  Even in a desert (or especially in a desert), adding a little water multiplies the abundance of life in amazing ways.

With this contrast in mind, I was impressed the other day with the words I read in Jeremiah 2:13.

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

God was warning His people that straying from His ways was really two mistakes in one.  First, they were abandoning the Source of their life, walking away from the cool water, lush green, and teeming life of a fountain in the middle of the desert.  On top of that, they were trying to fashion their own way through life, something that would prove to be as frustrating and ineffective as hoping for water from a dry cistern or stock pond.

It’s easy to think that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes as those people long ago, but human nature really hasn’t changed much.  We don’t bow down in front of idols, but we often put our plans and pursuits in first place and hope God will fit in somewhere along the way.  We would do well to remember that what God said applies to us just as well as to those people back there.  God’s way is a way of life, but we are asking for a double dose of frustration and failure if we think we can find a better way on our own.  Don’t trade the abundant life around the water for the hardened clay of a dried-up stock pond.

God’s life and blessings to you,



A Rant...Kind Of...


It strikes me how some people can think they know it all.  There are a lot of people that just sort of think that they are the end all, know all, discussion closed.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of these kind of people?  I mean, it is good to know where you stand.  It is good to know what is right and what is wrong and where the line is.  There are non-negotiables.  But some people are just unreal in their arrogance.

Maybe I should let you in on what I'm upset about.  Three days ago a book came out called "Beautiful Outlaw".  It is a book and a ministry that I have been praying specifically about for a long time now.  The aim of the book is to cut through the "religious" fog surrounding Jesus and to begin to experience Him as He really is.  To discover His personality, for to know Jesus is to love Him.

Already, there is a host of blogs and facebook messages shooting down this book and calling the author a heretic.  The book is only three days old!  To me this is evidence that satan is trying to discredit this work of God right from the get go.  And it is sad that there are many "christians" standing in line willing to be satan's voice on this.

And they think they know everything.  They think that if, in their "superior" experience, they have never personally understood or met Jesus in the same way the author of the book has, well then their must be something wrong with the author.  He must be a heretic.  This doesn't line up with my theology so it must be blasphemy.

Friends, theology is man made.  I used to get a kick out of my theology professors in college.  You couldn't get three of them to totally agree on any of the doctrines they were teaching.  And they just loved to throw other denominations of christianity under the bus and say that we are better because we believe in such and such.  I never understood how that lined up to Jesus' prayer in John 17 where over and over he prays for the unity of his people.

Here is the couple of points I want to make.
1.  None of us are the know all end all when it comes to Jesus.  There is so much more that Jesus has in store for us.  You cannot master Jesus or the christian life.  You never arrive until you are home.  What I am trying to say is that THERE IS ALWAYS MORE.  Jesus will reveal himself differently to me as I continue to grow in Him and walk with Him.  That should be exciting!  It is an adventure.  Just as I discover more about my wife as our relationship continues.  How boring it would be if we just knew Jesus and that was it.  There is so much more!

2.  Matthew 7:15-17 Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheeps clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from from thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

You will know them by their fruit.  I can't see how a book aimed at turning people on to the playful, disruptive, extravagant, and very real personality of Jesus is producing bad fruit.  I'm reading the book and discovering that Jesus was even better than I had originally thought.  I am falling in love Him more and more.  The fruit of my reading has been a closer walk with Jesus.

A bad tree cannot produce good fruit, right?

However, discrediting such a work and turning people away from it based on your staunch, religious ideals and arrogance could be seen as producing bad fruit...couldn't it?

The biggest enemy of Jesus has always been religion by the way.  This is not new news.

Here is what we need whether you read the book or not.  We all need Jesus.  Jesus, we ask for you.  For the real you.  Lead us to discover you as you really are.




It's Supernautical


I’ve always been drawn to water and everything nautical.  Growing up on the lower Columbia River, near the Pacific Ocean, I was surrounded by it.  Averaging nearly eighty inches of rain annually, I was immersed in it.  We were joyful when a new pair of knee boots replaced ones that made our wet socks track across Mother’s clean floor.  I’ve also always had a boat of some kind.  At the earliest moment I could play in the creek on our property, everything that floated became a boat. 

At the age of eight, I got my first actual watercraft; a traditional Columbia River double ender lay out boat used for duck hunting.  The boat was rotten when my Dad got it for $10 at a garage sale, but it made the perfect pattern and a summer project as I carefully took pieces out, copied them onto good wood, and then replaced it transforming the old boat into my new boat.  It served me for many years before it was finally stolen.  That boat gave way to another boat, one that I kept for twenty years.  Today I have nearly every way to get to water covered from float tube to canoe, raft and drift boat, and even a jet sled.  When that isn’t big enough, my friends have me covered with their commercial charter boat. 

When I was growing up, I played in the water, while later on I worked on it and sometimes in it.  I commercial fished for a spell, deck handed for a time, and even guided a bit.  I even debated attending California Maritime Academy or joining the Coastguard during various stages of my life all for the love and lure of all things nautical.

I’m also drawn to stories of the sea and I recently stumbled across a story that I found a parallel to this past week.  I want to share what was revealed to me through this story. The story is simply called, At Sea.  It speaks of maritime law and describes a ship as a detached fragment of society under whose flag it sails.  A wandering chunk of Spain, Britain or Panama.  How ever far it travels overseas, it continues to be a fragment carrying the laws, customs, and culture of its home land.  On a cruise ship, one sees this very clearly as you can portage around the outskirts of vile countries, bloody from civil or political unrest while you look at it from the distance and sip some fruity drink.  This life at sea aboard a chunk of your country might seem lawless or free from laws but it is still governed by the code and laws of the flag it bears.

Take for instance the last case of cannibalism to be tried in Britain.  In 1884, the yacht Mignonette was on passage from the place of its building, Essex, to its new owner in Sidney Australia.  The yacht took a breaking wave and floundered in the South Atlantic.  The four man crew took to a dinghy.  On the 24th day adrift in the open ocean, the four mariners, cast lots and the seventeen year old cabin boy drew the short straw.  The boy was killed and the captain and remaining crew dined on his remains as a means to survive.  Within days, a German ship picked the survivors up and returned them to England.  England decided to put these men on trial for the murder of the cabin boy.  The defense argued that the Mignonette was a registered Britain vessel on its way to be Australian.  When the crimes were committed, they were on a flagless, open boat dinghy on the high seas and in a place of lawless territory.  There was no jurisdiction they said.  The British court ruled that the officers and law extended whether they were on or off their ship, with flag or no flag and they were sentenced to death.  In a turn of events, they were then granted a royal pardon as the population was sympathetic to the ordeal.

My friends and brothers in Christ, do you see the parallel that I see? 

Philippians 3:20 (NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As sons and daughters of the Most High, we are citizens of the heavenly realm.  We are adopted sons and daughters and members of a Royal priesthood and a holy nation.  Earth is not our home land but just a sea where we will float until we are picked up and carried home by Christ Jesus at the day of His coming.  We are all fragments of that heavenly realm here on earth, complete with the laws, customs, and culture of the Holy One that indwells us.  It may seem like a lawless place where we are free to make our own code of right and wrong but we are bound to the code and law of God our Father and that known to us as His truth.  One day we will answer for our actions of lawlessness and sin with a sentence of death.  Those under the blood and grace of Jesus will receive a Royal pardon and live in the freedom and joy of our home once and for all.  It is time to quit hiding the flags of our true origin and run up the banner of the Holy One so that everyone knows from whence we came and to Whom we belong.

In the love of Christ,


7x7 Roosey!!! Outdoor Dream Foundation Hunt


Hi all,

This week's blog is a special update on a hunt I mentioned weeks that we were really looking forward to! The link below is to an ifish thread about a bull that 18 year old Jessica, from South Carolina, killed on film last week...a cancer survivor who chose an Oregon elk hunt as her "dream hunt" sponsored by the Outdoor Dream Foundation. I can't begin to express the trials this girl's endured and persevered through, and how amazing this experience was for her and her dad...and everyone who took part in this adventure and made it possible. God is good!

Click HERE to view the story and photos from the hunt...





A couple of weeks ago my wife and I tried a new italian restaurant in town.  It was nice.  It was nice to be out together without the kids and just enjoy a good meal and conversation with eachother.  That in and of itself probably made the food taste better but the food we had was spectacular.  We started with fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Then we ordered a tomato caprese' salad.  Fresh mozzarella, garden fresh tomatos, pesto sauce, fresh basil and a balsamic reduction sauce drizzeled over top.  Wow!  For the main course I had linguine with shrimp and scallops, in a lemon,butter and white wine sauce and speckeled with capers.  It was delicious!  Charlene ordered the lasagna.  This is not the kind of lasagna you get in the frozen isle of the store.  It was fresh.  Ground beef, sweet italian sausage, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, perfectly cooked pasta and a roma tomato sauce with chunks of fresh tomato and basil.  I stole a bite and it was best lasagna I've ever tasted!

The meal left us happy.  We were satisfied.... content but at the same time longing for more.  We were wishing our stomachs could hold more.  Most of the way home in fact, we talked about what a perfect a meal it was.  I made a statement that I wished dinner could be like that all of time.

Dinner.  It's kind of a funny thing.  It can be so good at times and then other times just be so ordinary, so blah.  A few nights ago I got home late and there was nothing much to eat.  My family had already eaten and they just assumed I would grab something out.  I settled for a few stale potato chips and a bowl of cereal with blueberries on top!

Okay, allow me to make my point.  Our relationship with Jesus is meant to be extravagant. It is meant to be like the fine italian dinner that leaves you satisfied and craving for more.  But I think most of us experience that kind of relationship about as often as I go out for a fine dining experience.  Fairly seldom.  Instead we keep settling for Top Ramen, cereal with blueberries, or lasagna from a box, and we wonder why our souls are longing and our hunger never satisfied.

We need to discover Jesus on a new level.  We need to discover Him as He really is.  He is the thing we are searching for, the very breath we need for our survival. I fear we have grown numb to the affect of Jesus.  We need to know Him.  To know Him is to Love Him.

I'm really excited for a new book coming out this October.  You know by now that Jeff and I have learned a lot through the ministry of John Eldredge.  I have been around John enough to know that this man walks with God. He is a wise sage and when he has something to write about, I try and read it.  His new book coming out in October is called "Beautiful Outlaw."  This book is going to reveal a lot about Jesus, and it is going to take your breath away.  If you are like me and you've slowly grown numb to Jesus, to his personality, his love, his devotion, his strength and courage then I think this book is going to get you fired up again! 

May you come and reveal your true self, Jesus.  It is your true self that we so desperately need.

The link below should take you to a trailer for "Beautiful Outlaw".


We Can't Fathom


Exodus 15:11 (NIV)

11 Who among the gods
is like you, LORD?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?

I have a room that I’ve been building for five years now and I’m finally getting close to completing it. We’ve called it the “man room” as it is a very rugged room with various animal skins, mounts, photos, antler chandeliers, rustic wood and various creations that I have built from scratch or with the help of a friend or two. It has served many purposes for me as I’ve relived stories of adventure with those looking at the photos. I have quiet time with God as I sit at a fly tying bench, rig fishing rods, or reload some shells. The soothing therapy to my soul that it has provided as I’ve sanded and shaped on something I’ve created for the room, while recovering from a surgery. Sometimes I’ve had less than fifteen minutes here or there over months of recovery to work a bit before my pain is too much and have to stop. It has been very satisfying to think about something neat to create then go through the process of sometimes years, to see it come to be.

I’ve had a number of reactions when people see the room. Sometimes just a simple “hey that’s nice” while others inspect every inch. Their eyes move about the room studying everything and asking questions. The compliments from those that understand the amount of work involved and that also understand the time period of physical trial that has gone on in my life during the time of the room’s creation. These compliments are always so much more meaningful to me than the token compliments of someone that can’t fathom the workmanship of my hand and the time and patience it took.

I wonder if God has similar feelings when we degrade the awesomeness of who He is with token worship. I know that we can not possibly fathom how magnificent He is; wonderful, powerful, loving, and majestic. There are so many huge words that try to describe Him to us. It is something our puny brains can’t even come close to computing, but as we do set our hearts, minds and eyes on Jesus, the Holy Spirit will continue to reveal that need for reverence and awe that He is so deserving of in our worship. Marvel at His wonder and His covering grace, proclaim His goodness in song, bend your knees before Him in awe as He is deserving of nothing less.

Psalm 99:3 (NIV)

3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.

In Christ Jesus,



what hunting is really all about...


What does this passion we have stem from?  Every year, the anticipation mounts until opening day breaks, when one’s mental and physical preparation meets the test.  These times are flooded with memories recalled, lessons learned, adrenaline found, successes earned, experiences shared, and a closeness felt with all of creation.  For every hunter, the approach to opening day is different and the outlook brings diverse thought, but we all hold a feeling in our heart of what it’s really all about…to each of us.
For me, growing up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the quest for the elusive Blacktail deer took precedence over many other trophies.  Raised in the sticks with an older brother and father to show me the ropes, my learning curve was blessed. From the time I could walk, I was out in the field with them in pursuit of Blacktail deer. Walking slowly behind, I stopped when they stopped, looked where they looked, listening, learning the landscape, feeling my heart pound in my chest and sensing the insecurity of the wild.
As I’ve gotten older, my experiences have become memories to reflect upon often, and to pass on to friends, family, and the next generation. Whether it be chasing after Roosevelt elk inhabiting the thickest forest, Rocky Mountain elk occupying the high country, Mule deer roaming the sage desert, turkeys wandering the rolling hills, ducks flying over a stagnant slough, geese in search of a corn field, salmon gliding up a calm river, or steelhead slicing through rough waters, there is a reason we find ourselves there…in every moment. As I reflect on my outdoor experiences, others can capture and define their own meaning to this adventure we all have a longing for and hope to pass on.
There is often a distorted stereotypical view of hunting from those outside the hunting world, claiming we have wrong motivations behind the enjoyment of our sport.  From the dramatic folks who are against any form of gun use, to those who feel many hunt only for the record books (which may be a legitimate concern considering modern day focuses), many are against what we greatly appreciate. Obviously they do not entirely understand why we do what we do, perhaps because no one has taken the time to explain the truth to them in the right way.  For the true outdoorsmen, it is not just about the size, the kill, or the use of a weapon, but about so much more. It’s about the time spent in what many call “God’s Country” and the abundance of its experiences.

There are various names for what many enjoy…the wilderness, the great outdoors, the woods…but no matter the title, it is a special part of God’s creation which we may reflect upon…

This magnificent earth,
the countless stars,
the feeling of true darkness in the shelter of the wilderness,
the satisfaction found in a breath of the freshest air,
the brittle crispness of a cold high country morning as you wait for the sun to peak out
into the brightening horizon,
the infinite view toward the heavens just before daybreak…as the shades of black and
dark blue in the west fade at the rising colors of oranges and white,
the marvel felt as visible stars faint away into the illuminating sky,
the sight of breath and feeling of warmth as you breathe into your hands,
the relief of a brilliant sunrise which, with each, comes a new challenge,
the insecurity of being in the wild and the stirring anticipation of the uncertain,
the quiet calm peering down on a fog filled valley,
the resounding sound of a bugle echoing throughout a canyon,
the intense shiver which runs up your spine as your ear senses something,
the unstoppable pounding in your chest at first sight,
the slow midmorning rise as fog lets go ascending to the sky,
the smallness felt in view of a mountain vista or towering snowcapped peak,
the beauty of a blooming hillside,
the comfort of a soft meadow waving in a slight breeze,
the display of a glossy stream flowing softly,
the power imagined as a loose boulder has paused for a season in a dry riverbed with high
cut banks,
the burn of the climb and the relief of conquest,
the unexplainable quench from a mountain spring,
the breathtaking view as you tilt your neck back in awe of the towering trees allowing
only narrow rays of daylight to pierce through,
the curious wonder that each step may be unexplored territory…where no one but God
has been before,
the splendor in the shifting colors of fall,
the eeriness of walking through a thick fog,
the crunch of a deer approaching in the wintry leaves,
the dance of a falling snowflake and stark white of a snow,
the glimpse of a salmon gliding up stream,
the revival of liveliness as your bobber goes under,
the calm excitement as you realize it is indeed the real thing,
the spectacle of that first jump out of the water,
the ghostly sound of a flock of ducks flying overhead before light,
the awakening sound of a field full of geese,
the anxious wait for a chance,
the uncertain sensation of speaking to God’s creatures,
the respect of the terrain and its inhabitants,
the appreciation of just being there,
the silence of evening and grandeur of a sunset,
the overwhelming happiness felt from experiences shared with others,
gourmet tastes shared after success and stories told around a fire,
time spent silently reflecting on life, 
snapshots only remembered in our mind,
an immeasurable heavenly hope,
and a great thanks to our God and Creator.

You can likely relate to one or all. It could be all about the memories or glimpses of future hope…the satisfaction or sense of achievement…maybe just for relaxation and to get away from the norm. Perhaps there is an innate sense of splendor in feeling close to God and seeing His creation more fully. Whatever your reflection, capture it…and share it with those you care about. That is what hunting is really all about. 




A couple weeks ago, I experienced a MOM moment- one I will remember forever, probably just because I am a mom. All 3 guys were outside putzin' around, so I decided to take advantage of the time, and hit the road for a run. I came out in my runnin' garb (which Boone always notices), said 'goodbye' and Boone quickly told me that he wanted to go with me. I told him that he couldn't come with, but that he could watch me run up our driveway- which is somewhat lengthy. I made sure to turn about halfway up and wave at them both- just two little still bodies at the edge of the yard, staring after me. I hit the pavement up at the top and set a nice pace (well, who am I kidding, it's all uphill so it wasn't the best pace). About halfway up THAT road (which is 1/4 mile long), I hear the most piercing, wailing scream "MOMMY!" I turned to look and see Boone standing resigned, 3 houses down from me. My heart caught in my throat as I uttered, "Boone!" and I started running back towards him. He instantly dashed forward, tears streaming down his dirty, smeared face as he cried "Mommy, don't go! Mommy! Mommy, don't go!" We met almost in the middle and I knelt down and hugged him tight as he clung to me. He told me, "I's chasin' you but you were runnin' too fast..." I whispered to him that I loved him very much, that he makes me so proud, and that someday he could run with me, but right now Finn needs someone to play with. I took his hand and told him that we could run back home together, and he liked that idea. Back past a few houses we went, turning onto our driveway, and I see Finn crying... about 3/4's of the way up the driveway, coming after us too. Kisses went to everyone, and then Jeff came and scooped 'em both up. As I set out again, I couldn't help but remember this scene from The Patriot:

To me, it was almost exactly the same, and it melted my heart. Boone, the boy. The boy who is all about his daddy. The boy who is all about his daddy. The boy who is all about his daddy. But this time, that little boy wanted me... his mommy. He wanted me bad enough to chase after me at a pace only cheetahs can beat. The boy loves me... I must be doing something right. I still can't decide on the saddest part: where he realized he couldn't catch up and stopped running, only to be discovered when he screamed in surrender; or when we sprinted towards each other in earnest, unable to bear the separation.

My boys always have a special way of teaching me about God. We can chase all we want, but it's only when we resign ourselves and cry out to Him that He answers us. And what does our loving Father do? He runs right to us, scoops us up, dries our tears, holds our hand, and guides us safely back home.



The Trap


I love adventure.  I love hunting and fishing.  You could tell by looking on my nightstand.  Currently I have a copy of the latest Salmon and Steelhead Journal, an OHA magazine, a latest Field and Stream and a copy of Outdoor Life.  Of course I have my Bible, an NIV and a copy of "The Message" which I enjoy reading as well.

I also have 3 or 4 DVD's on my nightstand that I've been plugging in and watching bits and pieces of before bed.  I have No Canyon for Old Men, Tagged Out, Hot Bulls 4 and Addicted 3.  Addicted.  That's what I want to talk about.  Not the video, but the addiction itself.

When does doing what we love cross the line and become an addiction?  Is it okay to be 'addicted' to wholesome things such as hunting and fishing.  I mean to be good at it, to be successful there needs to be some kind of attachment or love or desire to continue pursuing it, right?  It's not hurting anyone is it?  Or is it?

This has been a struggle for me in the past, and I don't claim to have a cut and dry answer for these questions.  I don't think there is cut and dry answers for everyone, but by walking with God and tuning in to His Spirit, I think I've discovered a place where I can be at peace with my love for these activities.  Here is what I've come to learn;

Satan basically has two ploys to try and get us from becoming all that God has intended for us.  His first ploy is to get us to lose heart and become seperated from our true desires that God has placed within us.  We all know people who have lost heart, given up, have no adventure, or their biggest adventure in life is keeping a nice lawn or something along those lines, but the desire gets buried under layers of junk until they reach a point of being ineffective. 

If satan can't get us to totally bury desire, then he will throw us a counterfit that has some resemblence of our deep desires and true nature but it is designed to get us off track. To send us down an exciting road that will eventually lead us to a position of losing heart.  In Addiction and Grace, Gerald May writes, "Our addictions are our own worst enemies.  They enslave us with chains that are of our own making and yet that, paradoxically, are virtually beyond our control. Addiction also makes idolaters out of us all, because it forces us to worship these objects of attachment, thereby preventing us from truly, freely loving God and one another."

So that could be a sort of test.  Has this object become more important to me than truly and freely loving God, or others?  And my sad answer to that question used to be, yes.  I would be so tuned in to trying to catch a fish that I couldn't enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, the company I was with, and take a moment to reflect, or to thank God, or to listen to what he is trying to speak to me through my time outdoors.  I knew I suppossed to be getting my kids outdoors and sharing the adventure with them, but they kind of got in the way of me being hard core.  Sharing my passion with another was an afterthought because of my selfish desire to "get one for me."  Never mind how I left my wife every weekend so I could get out there.

But thank God, I've changed.  Sure, I can still roll back into some of those old habits but for the most part I'm cured.  And I'm cured by the great high that I feel by sharing my passion with others.  Hunting and fishing with my wife and kids is more fun than I ever thought possible.  Seeing them enjoy it and watching them have success has been a real high.  Teaching my friend Brian to hunt deer 4 years ago and watching him have fun and have success for 4 straight years gives me a real sense of accomplishment.  I shared my passion with him and it lit a fire and now he is sharing it with others.  I took my nephew Luke out and guided him to his first deer and it is a memory he and I will share forever.

Our passion, our strength, our love, our talets, our gifts....they are not for us.  If they are just for us we become selfish, we become addicted and we end up losing interest at some point.  Our passion, strength, love, talents, gifts, our very lives are for others.  And we are to glorify God with what he has given us.  When we do, He seems to be all over blessing that.

A few days ago my daughter, Morgan was out in the front yard working with her goat  (she shows goats in 4-H).  While she was out there a young woman of maybe 20 years old came riding by on her horse.  I watched as the young women stopped and took an interest in my 12 year old daughter and her goat.  They talked for a while and then the young women cantered off on her horse.

Morgan came up to me and I asked who that was that she met.  She said, "That was Krissy, she is boarding her horses over accross the field and she said maybe I could ride with her some time."  Now you have to understand that my daughter has been enamored with horses since birth.  She absolutely loves them.  She has taken some riding lessons and she loves it but we just haven't been in a situation where we've felt comfortable owning a horse and owning the expense of horse, even though Morgan's found one on Craigslist everyday for the past 3 years!  I said, "Oh that's nice." However, I didn't really think the young women would ever follow through.

Well just last night this young women, Krissy, calls our home phone.  Morgan answered.  I heard some talking, then Morgan comes running over, "Dad, it's Krissy!  She has two horses saddled up and she's in our driveway.  Can I go riding with her!!!???"  

Morgan had a blast!  They rode for two hours and when Morgan got back she had this grin that she couldn't wipe off her face.  Now I'm sure Krissy could have ignored Morgan that day when she was in the yard.  I'm sure she likes riding solo and she enjoys being alone with her thoughts while riding along the country side.  Taking a 12 year old that she barely knew on a ride was sort of a risk on her part.  She didn't know if Morgan could handle a horse.  But she stepped out of her own little world, took an interest in a younger girl, and asked her to come along.  She shared her passion with someone else.  And Morgan will never forget it.

So I guess, maybe I'm asking you to think about your time outdoors....your passions.  Don't let them become addictions.  Don't let them be only self serving.  Steer clear of that trap.  Your excitement and passion for the outdoors is contagious!  Others need it.  There are so many people who need adventure, beauty, and to meet God in real ways out in creation.  I think God wants us to share that, and to infect others.  Not just with the activities that we enjoy, but by offering ourselves and our time and dare I say it, our love.

I hope your fall season is a powerful one!



A New View of this Big ol' World


A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to Eric Schoenborn.   Eric writes some devotional material for his church and this blog is a devotion he wrote and sent from Alaska while on a trip there last month.  Eric was hosting some trips at a fishing lodge helping out with the family business, "Fishing with Larry".  At the bottom of his writing you can click on the You Tube link to see about a 4 minute video of some cool Alaskan fishing and a staring contest with some of the local brown bears.

A New View of this Big ol’ World

As you read this, I am in the wilds of Alaska trying to learn how to cast a fly left handed. I’ll tell you right now that it is totally like patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time after more than forty years of being right handed.

I love the view from the bush planes in Alaska as you cruise above the tree tops, tundra and up the sides of glaciers and over rims and mountains; gathering it all in. One trip I hope to take next summer as I again spend several weeks in Alaska is with a truly exceptional pilot who is rumored to be able to turn the plane on edge while he flies the rivers and actually spot pods of trout from the air before he lands the plane to fish on them. I’ve often imagined how impressive the earth must look from the cockpit of the space shuttle. Our place in the universe seems at times both important or massive and yet so minuscule.

The end of June, I spent time in a booth at a sportsman show for a ministry we’ve developed to reach kids through outdoor experiences. As we began to answer questions about the ministry, the reaction was nearly the same. “That is going to be powerful”, “How exciting”, “How intimidating and big that is going to be”. “Wow, good for you”. The Christian counselor that I work with from time to time even said, “It’s like you are trying to stop the world on its axis and start it turning the other direction because it is a complete one hundred and eighty degrees from the way the family is heading in our current Western culture.”

Well, I’ve never thought of it that way and I don’t think I’m going to let those statements change the way I’ve been thinking about it. I have been seeing it as simply being obedient to what God has called me to do. It doesn’t matter to me if the ministry is big or small as the affect of the ministry is in God’s hands. I am starting to see that the ministry we are helping build is simply as big as one mentor and one kid at a time. That’s it.

I think many people become paralyzed and fearful of the direction the world is going. Let me assure you that the “world” has always been going in that direction. Christians use the statement that they will “pray about it” or “seek God’s will” and those are always good things but those words have become a cop out statement to do nothing. God’s will is evident in the Word and He has written it on your heart. You only need to seek Him and turn the page to what He has written. It is time to be obedient by loving one person at a time.

I know I have used this before but Jesus answered the question about the greatest command by saying that we are to love the Lord our God with everything we have and love our neighbors as ourselves. The world will feel a whole lot smaller and less intimidating it we take this view.

In Christ Jesus,

Eric Schoenborn