While decorating the Christmas tree a few weeks ago, my wife came across a special box of ornaments. I knew she had discovered something very special because she immediately began to cry. It was a box of ornaments my little sister, Jessi, had made for my kids last Christmas. She had made an ornament for each child with their name on it and a special one for Remi since it was his first Christmas. Along with the four other ornaments, she made one especially from her. It was pink and had the word, “Hope,” across the front of it. Jessi had grown very weak last year around Christmas time from her long battle with cancer. Jessi was a heck of a fighter, but I’m sure deep down inside she knew it would be her last time to celebrate Christmas this side of heaven. Though her body was weak and failing, Jessi still had hope.
You see, Jessi got what the true meaning of Christmas was about. She knew that Jesus was sent to this earth as a baby to be our Savior. She knew that because of what Christ did on the cross, she could have hope. She understood that while her body was riddled with the pain of an ugly disease she could have hope in a better day beyond this life. Jessi knew the Christ in Christmas and that gave her incredible hope.
Do you have that same hope this Christmas?
I love the promise in John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
No matter what you’re facing this Christmas season, there is hope.
I posted a photo this past week of a couple squirrels I stuck with my bow. In that photo I was wearing one of the, “Somethin’s Gotta Die,” hoodies that we sell at events and online. The phrase on this hoodie is bold, no doubt. It begs people to question its meaning. And that’s exactly what I designed the shirt to do.
One response I got from last week’s post was the following…
“As a hunter and Christian I kind of take offense to that hoodie! While I follow and respect you, what does "somethin's gotta die" have to do with Christ dying for our sins? And secondly, that attitude gives the animal rights activists even more ammo in that 'see, they just want to kill things,' and 'murderers' sort of way. Highly disappointed!!”
As for the animal rights comment…
Sad is the man that bows to anyone that worships animals. You can say, “harvest,” instead of, “kill,” if you feel like that is more loving to the politically correct crew. Not me. I’m not going bird watching when I go hunting. I do wanna “kill stuff.” Somethin’s gotta die for there to be meat in the freezer. No apologies for that.
I’m honestly not sure if the writer of the note above didn’t take the time to check out the Bible verse, or simply missed the play on words. But here’s the deal. The phrase on the hoodie is followed by the Bible reference, 1 Peter 2:24, which says, “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” So to answer the question, “Somethin’s Gotta Die,” has everything to do with Christ dying for our sins. Something did have to die. A sacrifice would have to be made. It should have been us, but Jesus took our place. He died so we can be made right.
Jesus died a brutal death for me and you. Brutal, yet so beautiful. It should have been us, but He paid the price. Offensive? Yes. People will always be offended by the story of Jesus. It’s much easier to talk about sweet baby Jesus asleep in the hay. But that little baby was on a mission. He came to take my place on a blood stained cross. He paid it all!
by Brodie Swisher
Here we are in the first week of December, and I find myself blown away at how quickly the month of November came and went. With rutting bucks on the move, November is the month for deer hunters. We look forward to it all year long. We plan vacation around it, skip school for it, and fall asleep dreaming about whitetail encounters in the month of November. It seems like it takes forever to get here…and then it’s gone.
Such is life for us as well. With four kids growing up entirely too quick I find myself shaking my head at how fast life passes us by. In a flash the moments we’ve waited for come and quickly go.
Psalm 39:4-5 speaks of this when it says, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered…how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”
The Bible is clear that our life here on earth is but a brief moment when compared to the time we’ll spend throughout all eternity.
What will you do today that will matter tomorrow?
by Brodie Swisher
One quick look back. It seems harmless at the time. Almost like an unconscious reaction. I can’t count the number of times in my years of hunting that one quick look back proved to be the demise of many of the wild critters I’ve pursued. Deer and elk are particularly vulnerable to it. Whether it’s curiosity, caution, or concern, they will often stop and look back to investigate the present distraction in their routine. The moment is a game changer for the hunter waiting with his or her finger on the trigger.
Attraction, curiosity, concern, caution, fear, and desire - they are just a few of the common reasons we too find ourselves losing focus and looking back over our shoulder. The results are typically devastating. One quick and seemingly innocent look back has been the death of countless marriages, relationships, and opportunities.
As you go through your day today, be mindful of what causes you to lose focus. Watch for the things that draw your heart away from the stuff that matters most. Don’t get caught looking back.
“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
By Brodie Swisher
I was working at my computer today when I looked out the window and saw a few deer feeding in the garden behind the house. The deer fed on the muscadine vines for a while before the lead doe began to make her way out of the garden. However, instead of exiting out of the back end of the garden into the timber, she came through the gate and walked right up into my archery range. I couldn’t help but smile when I watched her walk past the carnage of old beat down and shot up targets. She obviously didn’t realize she was walking into the valley of the shadow of death. She was oblivious to the fact that there are several boys in the Swisher House that would love to launch a few arrows in her direction in an effort to change her life. But with bow season still about a week away, she got a free pass today.
What about you? Have you ever walked into a mess? Have you strolled recklessly past life’s warning signs and found yourself in a place you’d rather not be? We often get so consumed with the “stuff” of life that we miss the mess that so easily surrounds us. The result? Carnage, death, and destruction of the things that matter most. Sadly, the gate is wide open that leads down this path.
Look up…watch out…and keep on keepin’ on.
By Brodie Swisher
I first met Mr. Sam on a Wednesday night at the Sportsmen Church we started in western Montana. I’ll never forget the moment. With cookie crumbs lingering on his sweater, and the fly on his blue jeans half zipped, the eager old man marched right up to me and asked, “Do you know Jesus, and do you wanna go hunting with me sometime?” I was obviously immediately intrigued by this man that had just asked me two of the greatest questions of all time! Despite his unkempt appearance, I always took notice that Mr. Sam’s biggest concern was whether or not other people knew Jesus. He was simply a lonely man on a mission. He was the kind of guy that would drive you crazy, showing up at your house to talk and hang out…at 7:00 in the morning. He routinely needed a ride home, or someone to haul him to the doctor for a checkup. Yes, it was often a hassle to deal with Mr. Sam. And I, like many others, would dodge him from time to time when we saw a “Mr. Sam Situation” arising. But there’s no doubt God put Mr. Sam in my life. I’m certain that God used Mr. Sam to teach me patience, compassion, commitment, and to help reveal the fact that I’m pretty lousy at telling other people about the good news of Jesus.
I got a call the other day that Mr. Sam went to be with Jesus last week. His body was riddled with a fast-growing cancer, and he said goodbye to this life and met his Maker on the other side. Though he may not have heard it often here on this earth, I know he heard the words, “Well done,” from the Lord as he arrived at home in heaven. Body restored, no more false teeth, and no more pain…Mr. Sam is now living the good life with the One he was sure to tell everyone about. Well done, Mr. Sam!
Do you have a “Mr. Sam” in your life? Do you find yourself surrounded by people that seem to test you? There’s no doubt that God puts people in our path to mold us and make us better. Rarely will they be people that you would choose. They won’t look like you, act like you, or smell quite as good as you. But don’t push them away. They are the ones that will teach you some of life’s greatest lessons.
by Brodie Swisher
I’ll never forget opening day of the 2011 bow season in Montana. It wasn’t because of excessive deer activity or punched tags that this day will forever stick out in my mind. It is because when I returned home from this hunt my wife, Amanda, told me she hadn’t felt the baby in her belly move all morning. We were just a few days shy of a scheduled C-section delivery of a baby that doctors said would never survive. We looked forward to holding that little baby, even if only for a moment. Sadly, on September 4th, 2011 the doctor confirmed that our baby’s heart was no longer beating. The feeling of holding a lifeless child in your arms is beyond words. I found myself struggling to breathe, yet discovered incredible peace knowing that Jesus was now holding the life of my little red-headed boy. The hope and promise of a better day to come – heaven – is a tremendous thing. I honestly don’t know how people without the hope of heaven can survive one day.
Heaven is for real. Not because some kid told us about it in a book or movie, but because Jesus said so.
"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.…” John 14:1-3
Let that sink in a minute. Jesus has been preparing a place in heaven for you and me! And when the time is right He is going to take us there to be with Him!
I look forward to seeing my little red-headed baby in heaven someday. But I really want to see Jesus…the one who died for me…the one who paid my price.
He’s preparing a place for you and me! Are you ready to meet Him?
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
by Brodie Swisher
It’s been a pretty rough week in the media world as several stories of tragic events have played out before our eyes. With each situation I’m reminded of the high cost of choices made. We make countless choices every day of our lives. Many of which come naturally, and it seems no thought is even required. But there are other choices that come with a much greater price tag. When emotions are left unchecked and rational thinking is out of control, we can quickly find ourselves making decisions that we’ll soon regret.
Like many of you, I replayed the scene on a racetrack this past week where a young man lost his life. With emotions running hot, tragic decisions were made leaving two families, and countless fans, living in a moment of regret.
Wouldn’t it be great to get a do-over in life? Don’t you wish you could turn that race back a lap or two, and encourage those guys to do things different? “Settle down!”…“Don’t leave the safety of your car”…“Don’t get too close.” Split second decisions fueled by emotions always seem to impact lives far beyond our intent.
The result? A life of regret.
Do you slow down long enough to consider the impact your choices will make on the ones that are in the race beside you? Are you racing toward a life of regret?
By Brodie Swisher
I shot a tree the other day with my bow. I didn’t mean to do it. It just happened. I missed the deer target out behind my house and instead of sticking foam, my arrow buried deep in the wood. I cringed when I saw and heard it happen. I had been shooting great all evening but with one careless shot everything changed. It’s a humbling, and costly, experience when your arrows miss the mark. I’ve done it plenty of times over the years, and it never seems to go well. I’ve wiggled, pulled, and dug deep with a saw, and more times than not, the arrow is broken when I finally pull it loose.
I’ve seen the same thing happen many times in this journey we call life. Poor decisions, carelessness, and missing the mark – sin. They all lead to a place we’d rather not be…a place God never intended us to be. And brokenness is soon to follow. The beautiful thing about brokenness, however, is that you’ll finally begin to see where God wants you. And like an arrow repaired and returned to its quiver, God will pick you up out of your brokenness, straighten you out, and return you to the place He has for you.
“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2