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The Life of Kindness


At the corner of an intersection that I drive by regularly is a cross. I don’t notice it often in my car, but I do see it on my bicycle when I ride by.

I don’t know who it represents, but I do know it represents the life of someone that ended at that spot. I am not certain but I really don’t believe I have ever prayed for the family of that person until today. 

Sweaty from the miles of riding I came to the intersection to turn toward home, but there was a car there. I glanced over toward the cross to see the hunched over body of an elderly woman pulling weeds and removing debris. 

I peddled on but in my heart there was the twinge that I should pray with her. I slowed checked traffic and peddled back up the hill to the intersection. The woman was moving a pile of rocks near the road to where the cross was. Without saying a word I picked up stones and helped her. She meticulously put each one in its place. I helped her as best I could and when finished we both stood and just looked. I asked her how she knew the person who’s cross was the reminder. 

She said, “Oh, I don’t know them, but I know their family. I just saw it needed care and thought I could do it.” 

Mary went to the tomb to give it care and saw the risen Lord. I didn’t see the risen Lord but I did see an angel today. What might God bring to you if you stepped out and did something kind? My new friend and I prayed together and left the sacred spot. 

“Trusted” in Him

Mark 10:17-31

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

This is the center of the story that is commonly called the rich young ruler. Striking is the address of the young man toward Jesus. He is clearly submitted to Jesus’ authority  to provide him instruction and direction. He calls him teacher. Jesus though is interested in something more. Jesus is asking him for his trust. Perhaps an even better word would be dependence.

The issue is not lordship in Authority, but rather lordship in Protection. Essentually the young man is willing to follow Christ instruction, but he is not willing to depend upon Jesus. What follows this discussion is even more interesting. We see the author, Mark, drive the point home to us the reader by examining the disciples reaction.

The disciples are a voice in the stories of Jesus that ask a question we might have as well, “if the rich can’t be saved who can be? ” clearly, they thought the young man had it all going on. I think their view was an accurate worldly view of the situation. In regard to following this young man had what it took. Yet, Jesus was not looking for followers in that sense but for “dependers”.

In a way, doing what Jesus says is much easier than believing him. If we believe him we have to give up on ourselves. The world tells us at every corner to believe in ourselves. Jesus says don’t believe in yourself believe in me.

A great aspect of this is realizing my wealth doesn’t buy the right stuff. I find that hard to imagine let alone believe. But life teaches this if we are listening. God wants us to see our poverty in the important areas. Our efforts are like people riding stationary bikes on an ocean-liner. They are moving but it has nothing to do with them. Jesus offers to be the captain of the ship not by becoming the captain but in allowing us to know he is the captain.

Jesus loved the rich young ruler, but he doesn’t invade his trust he only asked for it. He asks for your trust. Key to your giving it to him is the ability to recognize your need even in the face of all your ability.

“Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

I have read this list many times in the past but not realized that it is not a list but a path. The path of selfishness leads to a place where God’s power is not present. It’s progress is slow, gut wrenching and depressing but nonetheless clearly spiraling away from God’s provision.

It starts with the thought of self interest to the point of “love” but it is never really loving. It is material in nature but not spiritual in nature because it assumes at the core of value things matter most. MY THINGS must be guarded more than His ways. The change of focus leads to a devastating adjustment in priority. Such a blinding change that we become unable to steer our lives through the maze of challenges and instead ram through barriers into a path of destruction that impair nearly every positive relationship.

The greatest damage being to the most vital of all relationships that being our walk with God. So closed is our vision that we move on like Samson blind that the power has gone out of our lives soon to be blind to life itself. (And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.)

What is the cure? “Understand this. . .” Is at the start of the list. See the potential of destruction from the top of the hill before rolling off in a wagon without steering. “Not my will but Yours. . .” A prayer for His way and your protection from self.

Team Effort 

 For the first time ever I was able to talk my wife into purchasing a tag the spring. We have gone out several times using a blind a friend loaned me. On this day we took the blind, two chairs, two guns, my vest, and snack food.  I feel more like a pack mule that turkey hunter.

Upon arriving at one of my favorite spots we can see the turkeys down in the corner of the field about a half of a mile away. The only way to get there without them seeing us is to walk up around through the north pasture. Additional walking for the pack mule is worth it for the chance.

As we walk over the ridge to the extreme north through the binoculars we can see three Tom’s fighting. Finally after a nice 30 minute hike, we are within 150 yards of where we saw them earlier. Putting up the blind is out of the question because of noise but there is plenty of coverage with weeds and overhanging lambs. I crawled through the grass to the edge of the field and put out the full strut Tom decoy. 

Crawling back through the grass to where Charlene is I give her gloves and a mask. She looks pretty cute. Just before I put on my gloves and say to Charlene, “Let’s pray.”

“Dear God bring us a turkey, amen.”

I just about have my gloves and mask on when she mentions something about the decoy moving. Somehow a Tom has snuck in and I tell her it would be best to shoot him since he’s only 10 feet away. Her gun is on safety and in the confusion the Tom sees us. Fortunately we’re the only ones with guns and I drop him with Winchester 6 shot.

Immediately a series of gobbles ring out from down the hill. They gobble again and again and again. Here they come. Five tom’s through the bushes gobbling their heads off. We can’t shoot but enjoy the show. After about 10 minutes they move off.

 A thunderstorm is bring to the west and so I load up the pack mule and carry everything out. Charlene has her cap on and I think she’s carrying the snacks, but she sure looks cute (I did say she looks cute didn’t I).

 

Michelle & Ron are great friends

 A couple weeks back I saw a really cool hat with a turkey embroidered on the side. BNSF was on the front bill of the cap. Told a friend of mine who works there about it and they bought me the hat as a gift. I offered to pay for it she refused asked instead I take her son on a hunt. Taelur was up to the challenge. 

We had been out twice. The first time it rained and we never got out of the truck. The second time Tom strutted 300 yards out but never moved any closer. Tonight didn’t start out well as a farmer was discing the field next to my first choice. I called a friend about a second option and got the go ahead.

Moving down to the bottom of the ravine I spotted a Tom striding strutting in an open meadow about 400 yards away. We quietly moved to the edge of the field after he moved off and set up shop. Afternoon hunts are normally very quiet but soon toms were gobbling all around us like the middle of the morning. After about 45 minutes there was movement things look promising but it was a deer. Then another deer and another deer and another. Seven in all graced the meadow.

It was now nearing sundown and a Tom’s appearance seemed unlikely. They were moving west on the other side of the ravine it sounded.  I cut once and yelped a few more times on top in 15 minutes the sun would be down. After a five minute silence suddenly there was a series of gobbles on our side of the ravine. Two hens popped out into the field. Not far behind them a nice Tom. He looked our way for a moment and then started striding our direction. “Get your gun up,” I whispered, “it’s show time.”  

The old boy came within 15 yards decoy and stood. A tree blocked Taelur’s shot. Tom backed off 5 yards put his head down for his last supper, a gnat. Quickly Taelur moved his gun and with the Tom’s head back in the air I whispered for him to shoot. At 26 paces was the prize. Even though Tarlur has a broken ankle I still thought he had to carry the bird out which he did valiantly.  

Up the hill with your prize

 

 

 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”  1 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow is sorrow devoid of shame. Shame does not bring repentance it brings regret. Regret does not do the work that repentance does, it merely transfers the object of our affection from the sin to the result. Repentance transfers our affection to God from sin.  We are conditioned to think that shame is good because sin is bad. Shame is a byproduct of sin. Forgiveness grasps that both the sin and shame have been wiped away.

How High Can You Go?

They are putting up the new suspended ceiling in the north wing. I took this picture of one of the workers. I thought for a moment about the safety of the situation.

Then another thought came to my mind. We sometimes go to great lengths to attain to where God is. We will pile one thing upon another hoping it’ll bring us up enough. The trouble is our pursuit sometimes leads to our downfall.

It would be far better if God would come down to us, not lowering his standards but reaching down to where we are. This is the message of the Gospel: Christ came down to us. There was a risk involved but it was a risk He took. That risk is the cross. Fascinatingly, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me.”

He was lifted up on a cross but then laid down in a tomb. In the fall “he was bruised for our iniquities.” His suffering was enough and he was raised again!

The result is I don’t need to climb to God but rather I kneel at His cross.

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