Monday, August 25, 2008

Labor Day

I love this time of year!

Mid-August is when we begin preparing for one of the greatest of all holidays- Labor Day. Millions around this great nation celebrate the national work force by- ahem- not working! And sportsmen appreciate this glorious day more than most- Labor Day is the opening day of dove season!

Ah, dove season! Where grizzled old sportsmen are reminded what poor shooters they are. Where standing half-hidden amongst the bug-infested stalks of an un-harvested row of corn in 90 degree heat for a chance to shoot at the sky where a bird was is seen as a beautiful thing. We’ll spend $25 bucks on shotgun shells, $20 on licenses, $10 bucks for entry into a hunt, $15 on snacks and drinks, all for a chance to shoot and eat a bird that weighs less than 5 ounces!

Dove hunting is a raucous social activity; that is why most hunters like it. Unlike deer hunting where you must sit motionless in total silence in a swaying treetop wearing bright orange and hope a deer gets comes close enough to shoot but not close enough to smell you. Honestly, it is no fun to dove hunt alone- a dove hunter will become distracted by thinking about what to do if a dove flies within range of his shotgun; and when it does, he usually is too slow to shoot because he was busy thinking. No, it takes a pack of people with stories to tell to keep watching the skies. While one hunter is spooning the dirt from his beanie-weenies, and another is lying about past hunts, his hunting buddies can keep watch. And when someone yells, “DOVE!” everyone jumps to their feet hoping for a chance to watch their buddies unload their shotguns into clean air and miss the bird. It resembles a bearded meerkat colony wearing clashing camo or shorts and adult beverage t-shirts.

People brag a lot at dove hunts. A lot. Some hunters will tell stories that never happened. Not that they are liars, but, lets just say their DNA will stimulate their brains to over-embellish a memory to the point that it is unrecognizable, even to others who experienced it. Like the time the doves were so thick that you could kill your limit with one well-placed shot. Or the time when the ground was littered by lead shot from so many hunters shooting so many doves. Or my personal favorite, the hunter who ran out of shells and shot a dove out of the air with his bow and arrow. He had serious DNA issues.

Some hunters like to consume vast amounts of adult beverages from tall cans while carrying loaded firearms. Let me state for the record that is a horrible and dangerous activity. However, most become so attached to those interesting cans that they forget they are hunting. They’ll spend hours in the shade on their truck tailgates talking about what good shooters they are. They’ll throw their dead soldiers in the air and show off by hitting them one out of three shots. That’s what I hear, anyway; I don’t drink and I don’t hunt with those who are drinking. My DNA stimulates an extra measure of self-preservation.

Me? I like to take those dark dove breasts, wrap them in a thin slice of bacon and grill them on the bar-b-q just a few minutes until hot and tender; crack open a big-ole’ baked potato and slather it in butter; and spoon up a few dips of baked beans. Top it off with corn on the cob and the heel of a loaf of wheat bread and you have a veritable feast of mouth-watering pleasure!

Well, that’s what I’d do if I could hit ‘em…... come Labor Day...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Life is ..... hard.....

Today I mourn the loss of a special young man. Justin Magers is a church member and friend of our church staff. Saturday Justin was killed in an auto-motorcycle accident while serving as a special language instructor in India.

Justin was driving the motorcycle when he was forced, by another vehicle, into oncoming traffic. Justin was killed instantly. A close friend of Justin's, Jon Miller, was critically injured and is at this moment fighting for his life. Jon's parents live in Cabot, Arkansas, where some of our church staff have relatives on that staff.

God's word teaches that there is a time to live, a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3). I understand that. I get the fact that we all must experience our lives until we are called home. I know there is a beginning and an end of our time here. I get it.

What I don't get is how God determines the schedule. In my extremely myopic vision, it seems to me that it is to the benefit of the Kingdom for Justin to serve in India. He had a passion for the people there, and a great love for those with whom he worked. Justin wanted to see the world come to Christ, and was willing to cross it to make it happen. Surely, God could have allowed his life and ministry to continue. Surely, Justin's guardian angel should have been able to protect him and save him. And surely, the Kingdom work done in India has been set back due to Justin's loss.

As my mind wanders through the possible purposes, I wonder if this is another event that is part of God's permissive will; not necessarily His preference, but something He allows to happen due to a set of circumstances He deems important. Maybe God allowed this to happen in order to bring attention to the lack of people willing to give it all away to serve another. Maybe this has happened to protect Justin or to prevent something even more horrible at a later time.

I cannot allow the thought that the enemy sneaks into my thought process- that God really didn't care what happened at all to Justin. That is the voice of the enemy, who thrives on sadness, grief, and frustration.

Because I am who I am and because God is Who He is, I will not know the answer to the questions surrounding the death of Justin Magers. Because of the love letter God sent to us, I do, however, know some things....

1) God is not surprised by things that happen.

2) God has a plan. And that plan offers hope and life.

3) We'll see Justin again.

As I continue to think thru the "why" of this, I'll suppose I'll have to add this to the growing list of questions I want to ask when I see Jesus, face-to-face.

My guess?

My guess is that we'll see people across the world moved and motivated by the life of one young man willing to go. People will be changed because one man said "I will go; I will follow where you lead".

Justin was willing to give up his life here in the states to serve the lost people of India. And I believe that Justin's death will somehow introduce someone to faith in Jesus Christ.

Justin would be pleased. Justin, you are the man. Blessings, my brother.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Last night, my sweet wife and I had the opportunity to preview a movie by Sherwood Films entitled "FireProof". Wow.

The nature of entertainment being what it is, and the varied tastes of the media consumer- even within the church- I seldom recommend a book or movie. I must, however, insist that you see this movie.

First, some background. Sherwood Films is the media arm of Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, GA. This church is in the movie business! "FireProof" is their third feature-length film, following on the heels of "Flywheel" and the widely-acclaimed "Facing the Giants". The first two films are made up entirely of members of their church. Shot and edited by church staff members and writers Alex and Stephen Kendrick. A colossal undertaking performed with excellence and fascinating special effects from a Southern Baptist Church.... Unbelievable!

The film is about marriage; growing apart; divorce; doing the right things; reconciliation. That is it in a few words; however, the 2-hour journey from opening credits to closing song is a funny, serious look at real life between millions of couples. I laughed out loud; cried out loud, too. I think it is a fabulous look at how our Father can restore what He put together. See it.