Thursday, February 24, 2011
A couple years ago, one of the old widows in our church, whom I deeply love and appreciate, told me that marriage only gets sweeter with time. I'd heard that before, but coming from her, it stuck with me, and now I'm sure that's true. We're a long way and a lot of years from those giddy kids who danced down the aisle together after the pastor's pronouncement. We're saggier, and grayer, and much, much more tired. But there is a richness, a sweetness, and a deeply contented joy that grows with time. I am so blessed.
But we all know that sometimes, you don’t miss cleanly nor do you kill cleanly. Sometimes you "wing" that rooster, or duck, or deer. Well then, you need to do your best to track that animal, find it, and finish the job. All other hunting stops until that animal is recovered or you’ve exhausted your ability to search and still can’t bring the animal to hand. So I learned from Dad how to blood trail a deer, and how to train a dog to search for and retrieve pheasants & quail that were only "winged."
I’ve discovered that this principle holds in other areas too. Every man should be a straight shooter, a person with integrity, honesty, and a sense of personal honor. We shouldn’t seek to tilt the table to run our direction, but play fairly and treat others with the sort of gentleness we expect from them. And sometimes, just like when we’re afield, we wound and break things. We wound people and we break relationships when we failed in our commitment to be a straight shooter (as sinners, all of us fail, at least at times). And just like when we’re afield, we have to follow-up and, as much as possible, make it right. Only this time, instead of seeking to finish it off, we ought to be seeking to heal it and bring it back to life.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Dad read Outdoor Life, and learned about hunting from Jim Zumbo, about shooting from Jim Carmichel, and how to laugh at all the silly stuff we outdoorsmen do with Patrick McManus. So as soon I could read, I raided Dad’s stash of back issues of Outdoor Life, and learned and laughed right along with him. In fact, every now and then, one of us will quote a line from a McManus' story about building muzzleloaders from scratch (the one called "Poof! No Eyebrows), which we've we’ve both read more times than we can count, and we’ll laugh all over again.
When I was 8, dad taught me to shoot with a lever-action Daisy BB gun. That fall and several afterward, he took me squirrel hunting every weekend when the weather was decent and the season was in. I learned to move through the woods quietly by walking behind him, and to hunt safely with that BB gun before I was allowed to move up to his Winchester 42 .410 pump.
When I was around 10, Dad finally bowed to the reality that Indiana’s habitat had changed. What used to be grass fields full of rabbits had grown up into timber, the coyotes were coming on strong, and there just weren’t as many rabbits as there used to be. So the beagles all got sold, and he bought his first bird dogs, a German wirehair named Gretel and then later, an English pointer. Over the years, there’s also been a succession of Brittanies and more setters than I can count. I happily took up my role as bird boy and assistant dog trainer and followed Dad around the state doing training, and watching from the gallery at Shoot-to-Retrieve trials. I learned a lot about dog training and fell in love with bird hunting and bird dogs as I walked in Dad’s footsteps.
When I hit high school, I actually got to go on my first ever wild pheasant hunt, out in Creston, Iowa. That was back in the first years of the CRP program, and the birds were thick everywhere out there. In my memory, we all shot limits every day, but that may not have been reality. Also around that time, Dad helped me to shoot the first buck I ever killed with decent antlers, a weird non-typical that was standing in the middle of Big Walnut Creek. And when that deer went down in the creek, it was Dad who went swimming in that icy November water to retrieve him.
Dad still loves to hunt and I still love to hunt with him. When our relationship was rocky (as it was sometimes), we could always go hunting together, and so I treasure hunting partly for that reason. And I still walk in his footsteps in many ways.
I often think back to those early days in the woods, when we would wander around together hunting. I often had literally no idea where we were, yet somehow we always wound up back at the truck. I have realized over the years how much my life owes to him, because no matter how my life wandered, he was always there, pointing me the way back to the Lord. I don't think I would be a Christian, never mind a Christian pastor, were it not for my dad's example of faithful Christian manhood and leadership, nor do I think I would a good husband and father if not for his modeling it for me.
Thanks, Dad. You have always led me Home.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Two thoughts on this:
- If you wonder what a pastor does all week, here's a list. (I've left off a couple regular commitments-small group, Elders and Great Oaks Board meetings, leading a men's Bible study, and leading an AWANA group, but you get the idea).
- I am a blessed man. Who but another pastor gets to experience the joys of a life like mine? Thanks be to God, who has given me all these things as a means of bringing glory to Him. I feel genuinely lucky to be able to be used of Him in all these ways.
- Turkey: The Erdogan government in Turkey is moving rapidly in an Islamist direction and as quickly as it dares away from Ataturk style government. Journalists and bloggers are being jailed as I writes this for being critical of the government. The Turkish army and its generals, the traditional protectors of Turkish democracy and separation of mosque and state, were neutered last year with the suppression of Western-leaning generals. Turkey is already tottering. Any dreams of it become a more European type nation are fading fast and likely to fail.
- Syria: Already the pro-Islamist puppet of Iran.
- Iran: 'Nuff said.
- Lebanon: Hezbollah has been democratically elected to power. The Cedar Revolution is dead.
- Iraq: Democratic government minus democratic institutions favors the organized and the willful. Islamists don't rule there yet, but when Uncle Sam pulls out the last of the troops, that will probably result, and probably through the time-honored tradition of "one man, one vote, one time."
- Afghanistan: The Karzai government will accommodate itself to the Taliban or some similar faction at some point in the future. American's patience will eventually run thin and then we will be back where we started.
- Gaza: Hamas already rules there.
- Pakistan: Millions of Pakistanis cheered the murder of a pro-Western, anti-sharia politician. Does that tell you which way the wind is blowing?
- Sudan: South Sudan has voted to secede. Assuming that separation actually comes, the Khartoum government will now be free from any pressures to moderate their already Islamist rule for the sake of minorities in the country.
- Egypt: 1/3 of the world's Arabs dwell in Egypt. She is the only Arab nation with sufficient population and military strength to pose a real, existential threat to Israel, our ally. Revolution has come, at last, yet Mubarak eliminated all the organized, democratic, pro-Western activists over his 30-year reign. Guess who that leaves? Muslim Brotherhood, get ready to take your bow come September, for luck favors the prepared.
How will we respond?
Will it be with rockets, bombs and bullets? With evangelism? With accommodation and appeasement? With submission? Who knows but God Himself. What I do know is that we must not deny the challenge, for denial will not reduce it or remove it. Moreover, as Christians, who believe that all humans are made in God's image and loved by Him, we must find a way to draw the line between protecting ourselves from destruction, and showing love to our enemies.
Where, I wonder, is that line?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
According to Outdoor-Michigan.com, to prepare one for the pot:
- Skin and dress in the usual way for small, furry game animals.
- Remove the scent glands under the arms and in the small of the back. Also remove all external fat.
- If the groundhog is old (check for worn teeth), it should be parboiled or soaked in cold salted water overnight. To parboil, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Cook in any recipe appropriate for rabbit or similar game.