Boys love to play with fire. It's just in their nature. And it really doesn't matter whether they're 4, or 44, the love for starting and stoking a fire is how we are wired.
My boys and I were recently working on cleaning up and burning some old brush piles around the farm. It's a job they're always eager to be in the middle of. Why? Because fire is involved.
The boys built a small fire within the belly of the largest pile of brush on the outskirts of the yard and watched it quickly grow to impressive heights. They continued to add old, dried brush to the pile, building a blaze too hot to stand anywhere near.
The fire grew so hot, it quickly burned anything we added to its fury. Old brush, green brush, and a few other experimental items the boys added to the mix - they were all quickly consumed within the fire we had rolling.
The fire was big enough and bright enough it lit up the yard. And as long as we continued to add fuel (wood) to the fire, it continued to blaze strong, well into to the night. However, the next morning, all that remained were some warm coals below the ashes and the remains of one limb about the size of my arm.
I shared the image with my boys as a reminder of how our lives are much the same way. The question was raised, are we fired up for God, or burnt out? Spiritual burn out is a sad place to find ourselves in life, but it's inevitable if we don't continue to stoke the fire. If we fail to add fuel to the fire, sooner or later burn out will occur.
It's a reminder that we must stay focused on our purpose, draw closer to God, study His word every day, and share the good news of His story every time the opportunity arises. Are you fired up or burnt out?
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16
There will come a day, sooner than we think, when nothing else will matter but what we did with the Easter story. All the long hours spent working, playing, hunting, and fishing will no longer matter. The only thing that will matter is what we've done with Jesus.
One day, we will stand face to face with God.
Let the reality of that sink in.
One day we will stand face to face with the Creator of all things!
Imagine that moment. How will it go for you?
Are you prepared to stand before the King?
Have you surrendered your life to the One who came to live, die, and rise again for the whole world?
God, help us to chase after the things that matter most. Help us to focus more on the things that matter for eternity and less on the things that will fade in this life. Help us keep looking ahead to that one day.
I headed to the woods the other morning with my 3 boys to knock out some post-season deer hunting chores. Reloading trail cameras, freshening up salt licks, and pulling a few treestands was the mission of the morning. It wouldn't take too long, but I knew we'd be gone all morning.
"Y'all be sure to grab something to eat before we leave," I said to the boys earlier that morning.
Their reply - "Nah, we're good to go. We're not hungry."
Of course, hours in to our work in the woods, the boys realized they weren't good to go. They were hot, sweaty, tired, and hungry. "I'm starving," one of them said as we finished at our last farm and climbed back into the Jeep.
On the way back to the house to grab lunch, one of the boys dug into the console of the Jeep to do a little snoopin' and discovered a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie left over from duck season. Their reaction was priceless!
You'd have thought they just watched Jesus feed the 5000. There was no doubt in their mind the Little Debbie was a miracle from God.
Not sure exactly how to handle the situation of one Little Debbie for 3 starving boys, I snatched it from them, ate half, and explained to them how man cannot live by bread alone - and they should have listened to their father earlier in the day when I told them to eat.
Seriously, it proved to be a simple reminder that there's a hunger inside of us that leaves us unable to say, "I'm good to go."
The boys were reminded that if they don't have water, snacks, and Little Debbie's, they're not good to go. Likewise, without Jesus, none of us are good to go.
Without Jesus, there's a hunger within us that cannot be filled. Do you know Him? Have you made Him the boss of your life?
When the sun finally set on this weekend, the 20/21 waterfowl season came to a close. For many, it's been a 60-day grind, full of all the highs and lows that come with chasing ducks and geese across the country. There's been good days, and there's been bad days. There have been days when the ducks played the game right, as well as days when we came out empty handed.
But ask most any duck hunter, and they'll tell you, the best days typically come at the very end. They grind it out throughout the season knowing, the best is yet to come. The season may be tough, full of long days that we'd rather forget, but we rest in the fact that a better day is coming. We saw it this weekend as a duck blind full of kids shot their limit of ducks, putting the wraps on a long, tough season.
Life is much the same way. There will be times when it seems like we stay stuck in the struggle of life. There are times when the tough days seem to far outweigh the number of good days. The trials of this life are part of the journey. But even in the midst of the trials, we can find joy knowing that a better day is coming for those who have their hope in Jesus.
In the Bible, 1 Peter 1:6-7 says it best - "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."
Wonderful joy lies ahead! So be glad, in the good days and bad, knowing a better day is on the way.
I was squirrel hunting around the lake with my son, Rembo, this past season when we got into a little discussion on his ability to do things for himself. We made a stealthy approach into squirrel country by kayak earlier in the morning and killed a few squirrels along the lake before making plans to head back to camp for breakfast. As we made our way back down to the kayak, Rembo shared with me that he felt like he needed to sit in the captain's chair and run the boat back to camp as opposed to sitting in the back of the yak on a bucket. He was hungry and tired of walking, and he let his frustration get the best of him. "I don't want to sit on the bucket!" he said as we started to load gear into the boat. It was a classic struggle for power. It wasn't his first attempt to be the boss, and certainly hasn't been his last.
We had a stand-off as I took my seat in the boat, and he stood his ground on the bank. The words of the song sung by my red-headed friends, Katy and Penny of The Purple Hulls, came to mind. The chorus of the song goes, "If you can't walk on water, you better get in the boat!"
So that's what I told Rembo as he stood there on the bank...
If you can't walk on water - you better get in the boat!
I laugh at the memory now, but I also know that I'm really not that much different in my relationship with God. Far too often, I struggle with trying to push God off the throne and take the place as boss.
It never works.
He's the boss. He's on the throne. And he won't share the spot.
We can do it our way, or God's way.
But sooner or later, we'll learn the priceless lesson, if you can't walk on water, you better get in the boat.
Check out the song from my friends below....
Deer season is wrapping up across most of the country, leaving behind another year of memories, and hopefully, a freezer full of meat. For many hunters, it's been the best deer season yet. However, for others, a pocket full of unpunched tags remain.
Which side were you on? Is there meat in the freezer or will you be buying beef over the off-season?
More importantly, have you learned to find the good in the midst of the lows of a long and seemingly unproductive hunting season?
Have you ever noticed how quick we are to say, God is Good, when we're posting a big buck photo? But what about when you come out of the woods empty-handed? What about when there's no buck in the back of the truck? Is God still good then?
Regardless of the number of bucks that walk past our stand, or the ducks that drop into our decoys, God is still good.
His goodness isn't dependent on the circumstances around us. Unpunched tags, struggles at home, loss of a job, or the man our country chooses to lead the nation - they make no difference in the goodness of God.
God's still good.
These are the words my friend, Kami McGann, has continued to say after each negative doctor's report she's received over the last year as she's battled cancer. She's heard everything from, "The cancer is spreading," to "We've run out of options." Her response - God's still good.
Do we have this same mindset? Regardless of the doctor's report, or a buck in the back of the truck - God's still good.
Despite all the hate the 2020 year has received, I honestly look back and see some of the greatest times of growth my family has ever experienced together. We've had the opportunity to spend more time together than ever before. And while some may complain about "being stuck" at home with family, I consider it a win.
Sure, it's been a tough year. The trials seemed to outweigh the triumph at times. But it's been a year that's found us digging back to our roots to see if our faith is as solid as we've always claimed. Tough times are a testing process that will quickly reveal what we really believe.
Looking past the process, and ahead to the new year, I'm glad God is faithful to give us a fresh start. A new year, as well as each new day, delivers a chance for a new beginning with fresh opportunities. I kicked off my first morning of the new year with the Bible in my hand, starting back at the beginning. I love the first 4 words we find there - "In the beginning, God..."
Everything starts with those 4 words. It was true then, and it's still true today.
My aim for 2021 is to see that every new beginning starts with God. I pray the same for you and your crew as we move on to new things in 2021.