Swallows and Sparrows

I knew a man who was poor. He’d been dealt a lot of 3’s and 4’s in the game of life and his mindset kept him there. If he ever won the lottery, it would all be spent in a year. The words “Good enough” punctuate his vocabulary more than the national average. Walmart has everything he needs. Depression is his constant friend.
I knew a man with a restless heart. His wife was long gone and his family distant. Like a bird without a roost, he flits from one perch to another. Sadness follows him wherever he goes.

There’s a place in God’s house for the sparrow and the swallow. A place of rest and peace. Not all of us are go getters. Some will never be more than 10%’ers.
Christ has made a place for them in His church. We need to recognize that, and make room in our hearts for them.

Psalm 84:3. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

The Soap Box

At main and cordova, mike or gareth stand on the soap box to have a little preach and say a prayer before the soup line starts. 1st time I heard them shivers went down my spine. Like a bright light before 300 very dark, cold and lost men. Could it be that Jesus would be here? As I handed out hot chocolate, I had a deep sense of God’s love for each man. While they wait for the drink to be poured I have about 10 seconds to look into their eyes and ask how they are doing. A smile and an expression of care can express God’s love and catch them off guard. Some are visibly moved that someone would actually care. Others look away in shame. But with no one does it go unnoticed. Such a small gesture on my part, but these people are beaten, abused, rejected and desperately lonely. In a crowd of people, you’d think they’d have friends, but they are so used to using everyone for their own personal gain that life’s become a dog eat dog existence. It’s like feeding time at the zoo.
After the food runs out I look for people to talk to. Holy Spirit, make me sensitive to needy and broken people.

On Failure

Mistakes are stepping stones to getting it right. I comfort myself in knowing that I haven’t really failed yet , I’ve just discovered many ways that don’t work. The scriptures say that a righteous man falls down seven times, but gets himself back up again.
When my boys were younger, I took 2 of them horseback riding. We were crossing a creek on a mountain trail when one of the boys got bucked off. This was the son that was particularly prone to crying and giving up. He lay on the ground in a crumpled heap, bemoaning his state. Before I knew it I was quoting John Wayne, “get back on that horse.” To his credit, he mastered his fears and carried on.
It’s all part of our life’s education to experience failure, defeat and our own incompetence. Actually, life is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. If we got it all right the 1st time our pride would be a problem. I think God arranges our failures so that we would recognize our need for him. By his grace we can get up, dust ourselves off and start again.
Without a goal, we are destined to a string of meaningless defeats. We need reasons to continue in this madness of constantly falling down and never getting it right. Most of us do not see the connection between our failures and God’s desire that we would faithfully reflect his image. It’s all part of the process of sanctification. We try, we fail, we try again, we fail again. This time we get fed up with our own wisdom and petition God for His help but on our terms. We try and fail again. Now we’re ready to receive God’s help on His terms.
The most common type of failure is because of our own sin. When we are tempted to sin and have victory over the temptation, we pass the test. When we give in to temptation we get to try again.
I’ve reduced the winning cycle into 4 steps:
1./ Wisdom.
In James chapter 1 it says “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Probably my most consistent life’s prayer has been for God’s wisdom. Having God’s wisdom in any situation, is a ticket to avoid a lot of life’s failures.
2./ Cleaning.
I often think of the passage in Ephesians 4:22 “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” in terms of taking off the old coat or the old way of doing things. v.23 “and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds”as scrubbing up as you would before going into a hospital ward. V.24 “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” as putting on the new garment that God provides.
When our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we think more clearly. We make better choices so we don’t get into as many jams.
3./ Vision.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Henry Ford.
Everyone knows that without a clear vision of where we’re going, it’s easier to get tripped up along the way. Just maybe, perhaps, God has an opinion of what our goals should be! A good start might be to find out what’s important to God and make it important to us. Sounds rather simple but I think most people just want God to bless their goals rather than to allow Him to have a hand at setting them.
4./ Surrender.
“OK God, I’m tired of the same old cycle of doing it my way and failing miserably. I give up, it’s your turn to take control. I’m ready to do it your way.

The Moose Hunt

Seemingly intelligent and otherwise reasonable men embark on a 22 hour drive to the northeast corner of B.C. In search of the moose. This elusive animal is as big as a draft horse with longer legs. Think of it as a short dark brown giraffe. His habitat is usually swamps or heavily forested areas. Places where humans seldom venture. You’d think by the size of them that their poop would be humongous like a horse’s. Actually they resemble a pile of elongated marbles. Moose marbles they call them. They can even be passed off as chocolates to a rookie hunter. I once thought of drying them out, drilling a hole and stringing a leather thong through them. I could market them as moose marble neacklace’s. Able to ward off evil woodsy spirits of some foolery. My dear wife nixed the idea.
Nothing is more majestic than seeing a full grown bull moose in the woods. Through his binoculars, my son spotted one on the far side of a large clearing. The 7mm bullet took out his starboard shoulder from 550 meters. When I stood on the spot looking for a blood trail in the snow, I could hear a distinctive thump thump, thump thump. The sound of a 3 legged animal circling me. I whistled, he stopped, and from 75 meters I shot him between the eyes with a massive 405 grain bullet from my 45-70 iron sighted bush gun. He shrugged it off like it was a horse fly and continued to circle me. Another whistle, this time it hit the side of the head and he went down. That was 7:30 am, it was dark before we stumbled into the camper, exhausted. I never worked so hard in my life skinning and packing 1200 lbs of bloody meat. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I butchered the beast. The next day, 3 of us worked from 5:30 pm till after midnight just hacking off meat and putting it in baggies for the freezer. We never knew if a package was tenderloin or brisket. A friend said the meat I gave him was like shoe leather. Other times you could cut it with a fork.
That was 5 years ago, but always a sucker for punishment, we headed north for a larger species of moose. We traveled through some of the most beautiful terrain I have ever seen. The fall colors were out in all their majesty along the Peace River valley.
” It’s a sure thing, impossible to hunt there without seeing a moose. I guarantee you will see lots of game there.” Well if something sounds like it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
We hunted our brains out and were feeling slightly discouraged when I saw him. All 1600 lbs. of him. Unfortunately he was in pieces and being packed out of the bush by a caravan of ATV’s. They had travelled 100km. into the bush and 100km. out through the worst muddy trails imaginable. “It’s too warm here, they’re hiding in to woods until the rut in a few weeks” the hunter explained.
Later that evening my son shot a porcupine. Before he expired he rolled over, showed us his soft padded feet and cooed as if to say “how could you shoot me, I’m cute.” We also shot a grouse that day. “Shoot him in the head, he’s too close.” Blam, a direct hit to the body with a 12 gauge blew him to bits. Not enough meat left to feed a chicken.
Impa lake was the destination but it was surrounded by a mile of swamp land. We got as close as possible with my Rhino UTV then slogged our way through the swamp the rest of the way. Someone had built a raft out of blue barrels and old pallets. We had to try it even though something inside me said “this reeks of disaster.” We poled about 50 feet out into the lake when a rotten board broke under me. I went head over heels backwards into the muddy lake. “Aaaagh, I want my mummy” was all I could say as I slogged back to shore, covered in slime, bugs and leaches. We didn’t fare better with the Rhino either. We went about 50 yards then got hopelessly stuck. Half an hour of putting logs under the wheels in the mud, winching and pushing we finally got out. My dry son sat in the Rhino and laughed at me as I did all the work. After that I swore I never wanted to see Impa Lake again. I was ever so thankful for the freshly installed shower in my camper but it took 3 days to get all the grit out of my hair.
All in all we had a great father and son time and i’d do it again.
…Anywhere but Impa lake.

The Battle

I often feel like General Custer, surrounded by Indians and feeling quite outnumbered in the battle of life. At times it seems like I’m the most discriminated against person in the country…
I’m a Christian, not the nominal type but a bible believing, practicing, real live type Christian. The ones that the left leaning media loves to hate. Homophobic I think they call us. This recently created term is for anyone and everyone who happens to disagree with the gay agenda. In particular they target Christians because we don’t say that we don’t like gays, rather that God condemns their actions according to the scriptures. Right or wrong, everyone claims to have God on their side, in spite of what God says.
Another arrow that comes my way is because of my political views. Being right wing, conservative and not in favor of any socialist programs, automatically qualifies me for the term “bigot.” Interestingly Webster’s describes a bigot as “a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own.” In fact, the intolerance is of my views and the prejudiced attacks by the mind police are aimed in my direction. Anyone ever heard of a left leaning person called a bigot?
Attacks come from within our own ranks, as some Christians publicly attack other Christians, forgetting we serve a common master. I think they call that treason.
I’ve received rebuttals for my proliferation of offspring, as though there is a magic number, say 1.2, that beyond which is too many. As though it’s any better to have dogs. After all they are such magnificent animals, so intelligent and beautiful. And humans are not?? I suspect the real reason they prefer dogs to people is that they can’t talk back to them and give intelligent arguments for their stupidity.
The government penalizes productivity by charging a higher rate for anyone that is successful at business. Daring to break out of the middle class incurs a punitive tax response. Two years ago Revenue Canada did a full tax audit of my company. It must have cost them 10’s of thousands of dollars. A complete waste of my time. In the end they found absolutely nothing.
Being a male in this feminist dominated society type casts one as a beer drinking sex crazed sports junkie who has all the intelligence and relevance to society as a well medicated Walmart greeter does. It wasn’t my choice being born a man but I sure like it and I’m certainly not confused about the choice.
Being over 60 at one time garnered some respect. Gray hair used to mean you had attained a measure of wisdom from years of valuable experience. Now you are put out to pasture and considered redundant. Go play golf, travel and be self centered while the young and foolish take over.

“The good thing about when you’re surrounded by the enemy is you don’t have to worry about which direction to shoot.”
Can’t remember who wrote that quote but it’s fairly accurate and I’m OK with it. I guess if I wanted an easier path, I would have chosen Buddhism or perhaps joined the socialist hordes and parked my brains somewhere.
One should never let fear and common sense stand in the way. Battles are not for the cowardly, the feeble, or the faint of heart.

The Skin Flint

I recently heard at a campfire discussion, a friend talk about how he loves giving things to people. The wife chimed in, yea, he’d give everything away , even our groceries!
  I had to laugh because my wife and I are the same way. Except I’m the tight wad. I can squeeze buffalo poop out of an American nickel.  
 Recently however I’ve had a change in heart and have been discovering the joy of philanthropy.  Not big philanthropy just little stuff. Like a few bucks here and there, not millions. When I think of a philanthropist, I think of a mega rich old guy that has run out of things to spend his money on, or a wannabe politician trying to earn some brownie points to look good. It’s totally contrary to my nature and it kind of grew on me gradually over the past 10 years. I really don’t know how I got started down this path but it’s changed my whole way of thinking about money.  
 What would give you more pleasure out of a $20 bill, spending it on some useless trinket, or helping someone that really needs it?  I don’t think those rich philanthropists just suddenly decided to be one. It was probably a life habit of generosity built up over years of practice. Life is not all about squeezing the most money out of it and consuming it as quickly as we can. When I was a child, I learns to share my toys. What happened when I grew up and became self centered with my possessions? 
 I had an hour to wait for our ride to the airport in Kampala. I sat on a rock on the side of the road to watch the traffic. I was fascinated by a culture so totally different than mine. A woman walked up and asked me for some money to buy food.  I could barely understand her English but she said she and her 4 children were destitute.  I thought about the $5 in my pocket I was saving for a Starbucks at the airport. That was probably a months provision for her family.  It was a quick and painless descision. She left then came back 5 minutes later with someone to interpret for her who thanked me profusely for my generosity and told me how much it meant to her as her husband had died. She wasn’t asking for more, just grateful for what I had given her. 
 I was reduced to tears. God, you cared so much for this poor widow that you sent me 1/2 way around the world to meet her need. Thankyou.    More please. 

The Urban Outdoorsman

The bum sitting on a heating grate, smelling like a wharf rat is there by the total sum of his choices in life. Some would say he’s just down on his luck when actually luck had nothing to do with why he’s there. We like to blame anyone and everyone for our circumstances when we should be putting the blame on ourselves. It’s not what cards we are dealt in life but how we play them that counts. Even a bad hand played properly can be a winner.
A fellow recently asked me if he should sleep with his girlfriend or not. He had absolutely no concept of living righteously or of the holiness of God. Some inconsiderate Christian got a notch on his evangelical belt by getting him to accept Jesus, but forgot to tell him to repent. I assigned him to read a chapter of proverbs every day for the next month. Perhaps it can begin to pound some wisdom into his head.
It never ceases to amaze me how many stupid choices people make in life and then wonder why their lives are in such a mess. As though there wasn’t a connection between the two.
In my 1st retail experience I stocked the shelves with consignment items. I was told it wasn’t a very good idea, but I thought I was immune to bad things happening. My next mistake against all council of people older wiser than myself, was to take on a partner. One day he didn’t come in to work. I was never to see him again, along with most of the stock from my store. It took me about three years to repay the suppliers.
This served as a wake up call to me and I took to reading proverbs on a regular basis. I realized the need for wisdom in my life and for many years after, my constant prayer was “Lord grant me wisdom.” I felt like a kid pestering his dad for what he wanted til he was eventually worn down and gave it to him. I didn’t have a mentor at the time but I certainly could have avoided many pitfalls with one. I became deliberate and purposeful about honing my skills as a businessman, knowing that this was God’s calling on my life and that I would need a lot of wisdom to excel at it.
That was more than 40 years ago. I realize it was the grace of God that has kept me on course. In spite of myself, God has given me a measure of wisdom and spared me from making all kinds of bad and costly decisions.
Although wisdom is a gift of God, it doesn’t come cheaply. We must earnestly desire it and give priority to studying and petitioning God to obtain it.
Wisdom is my most valuable business asset, second only to my integrity. More on that in a later blog.