By Jim Richman
It would be a gross understatement to say that building relationships, maintaining them, leading, following, staying humble, knowing when to stand on principle, perhaps even sharing Christ at the expense of losing our own life is nothing short of adventurous. But what has happened to living amidst the adventure of new life in Christ with an appetite for it? Do we not know what an adventure is made up of? Are we not associating Christianity with the qualities of adventure? Have we become lazy? How can we love the journey again?
Author Matt Walker M.A. said, and I agree, that adventure is made up of 5 elements:
These elements outline what has been lost in our culture with regard to following Jesus. For a Christian, pursuing a life pleasing to God that gives maximum glory to him is the HIGHEST endeavor. It requires a total personal commitment to constant growth as God grows us. Every day, we face the prospect of uncertain outcomes as God strengthens us. This trains us to withstand adversity as we keep our eyes on our greatest companion, Jesus. Moreover, adventure is about freedom. That's why we crave it. The sense of freedom we feel when we jump from an airplane or settle our crosshairs on a monster bull elk is what drew us to that moment in the first place. Freedom brings us joy, and our ultimate, lasting joy can only be found in Jesus.
There is a conflict, however, between what many Christians profess and how they live. Evangelicals say they believe the Bible, but fewer and fewer have a working knowledge of the scriptures. Modern believers claim church is important, but studies are showing that decreasing numbers are attending local congregations. They can’t be replacing these activities in their lives with nothing. In the hunting and fishing community, it's amplified by the misunderstanding that we have some sort of spiritual security simply by acknowledging God's existence by taking part in outdoor activities. How can someone who claims to be united with Christ spend a strikingly unbalanced amount of time pursuing “the next best thing,” when the reason Christ died on the cross was to free them to pursue “the best thing?”. Likewise, how can a person that claims to be set free from spiritual death to abundant life in Christ, continue living in a manner that resembles spiritual deadness? For many, being a Christian is only a small part of who they are, rather than being who the Bible describes them as. It seems being a Christian has become drudgery, rather than a life of challenge, devotion, growth, and joy.
If you distill the message of Living the Greatest Adventure, you will not find another angle to “be a better Christian”. Since Jesus has done immensely more for us than we can do in return, we ought to be eager to set out with him on even the steepest of challenges in this life. The message of LGA is for you to encounter a fresh outlook on the beauty, challenge, and growth that God provides as He sanctifies you each day.
Living the Greatest Adventure finds its "why" in helping professing Christians reconcile what we profess, with living out what the Bible teaches concerning new identity that comes through life in Christ.
In Mark 1:16-20 Jesus sees two men fishing. Their lives were established. They woke up every day, did their job, went to their home, went to bed, and did it all over again. You can easily see how much drudgery went along with this type of life. Jesus spoke to them saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I can only imagine how exciting and perplexing it was for these guys to cast down their nets and follow. They had to put their full faith in someone they had never met, and knew nothing about. They just knew that following him was right.
If you have made a profession of faith, but you can’t say you are “living the adventure” of having new life in Christ, you need to re-engage in the journey. Pray and ask God to show you why you’re not moving forward. Have you lost your way? Has your foundation been compromised? What caused you to shut down? Un-confessed and unrepentant sin, physical exhaustion, and even poor time management can cause the strongest believers to find themselves completely lost in the wilderness. It’s time for you to gain some perspective.
Maybe this image of “living the greatest adventure” truly resonates with you because you are living it and you know it. That’s fantastic! But be warned. There will be challenges that you were never intended to handle on your own. God puts mountains in front of us to strengthen and grow our faith in Him, not in ourselves. Now is the time for you to make sure your foundation is secure. In moments of truth, all of our weaknesses can be revealed.
The goal of this series is three fold:
By Jim Richman
I hope I never forget the feeling I had when I hung up the phone. Jason Temple, owner of Cross Country Camo, was casually calling to tell me he had gotten access to 6000 acres of thorny, snake infested, dusty, canyon country in west Texas to hunt Rio Grande gobblers. That was cool and all, but when he included me in the trip plans, things got serious in a hurry.
Boarding the plane from St. Louis, I suddenly realized this was my first out-of-state hunting trip since my grandfather had taken me on a whitetail hunting trip to Arkansas in my early teens. There was plenty of apprehension, especially since I had never flown with archery equipment. The takeaway, have friends that travel to hunt who can help you get over that anxiety. (If you have no friends of this ilk, I’ll be that friend. Click this link! Once the wheels touched down in Dallas, the apprehension had dissolved, and “hunting mode” was fully engaged.
As the sun rose the next morning, Jason and I had already begun a five hour road trip west to the beautiful Eason Ranch. As we drove, something changed in a sheltered Missouri turkey hunter. Once we got about 80 miles from the nearest town, jagged, steep-walled canyons began to replace the miles of flat, mesquite-filled cattle pastures that dominated the trip. I was a long way from the lush fields and white oak wood lots of the midwest. Different terrain, different tactics, and different turkeys were about to make me a rookie again.
As we were pulling decoys out of the duffel bag, we heard a very familiar sound. Wing beats. Across the dry creek in the bottom of the canyon, we had been spotted by a gobbler that was working his way in for a final drink before he went to roost. Our hunt quickly turned into a roosting endeavor. We watched the sun turn the canyon walls purple as he gobbled his way about 200 yards behind our location to hop into a tree for the evening.
We weren’t sure what to do. Trail cameras were showing birds at almost every other likely place on the farm, including where we had just been busted. The only thing we could do that made any kind of sense to two guys that had just been whipped by a Texas tom in six mile canyon, was go right back there the next morning.
While day was breaking enough to make out the silhouette of the windmill the next morning, we discovered that the gobbler had moved during the latest parts of the evening. 200 yards was more like 400, and it came time to put on our hiking boots. Once that tom hit the ground, his plans pointed him to the very back of six mile canyon.
Around mile three, as we were carefully walking a narrow goat path along a canyon wall, I remember telling Jason, “You know we have to kill this turkey right? We have to kill the six mile canyon gobbler.” It was wishful thinking. Three miles later, the gobbler decided to top the far canyon wall and head onto an open pasture. By lunch, I took a peek at my phone at it revealed that we had covered more than 8 miles working carefully along canyon walls and stalking through mesquite flat. We had worked three separate toms, and had closed the deal on zero.
We spent the hottest hours of the afternoon searching for Native American artifacts that were among the surprising number of camps scattered across the property. As we walked and looked carefully for the points of ancient hunters, I couldn’t help but wonder if the two hunters looking would be filling tags during our short time on the ranch.
When the evening hunt came, we honestly had no idea what to do. Turkeys seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. We settled on a stretch of fence line that ran along a dry creek drainage. We had heard several turkeys along that creek throughout the day and because of the size of the trees along the edge, we thought it would be a good place to set up before roosting time.
As we casually walked along the fence line, a gobble rang out near one of the deer stands affectionately named “the gut pile stand”. Only 50 yards up the edge, the gobbler stepped into the road, and I took a shot. I missed. It was just too easy. Turkey hunts aren’t supposed to go that way. You don’t just walk along a fence row and have turkey walk out in front of you to shoot. All I really did was make a complicated situation more complicated. What were we supposed to do now?
After my miss, we decided to stay close to the fence since it led to a supplemental feeding location. Jason and I backed up into a cedar tree and positioned ourselves facing down the fence line in the direction we had stalked two turkeys earlier that morning. Not 30 minutes after my miss, we heard two gobblers fire up down the fence line. Each time we would call, they were closer. Once they reached our decoy set-up, all bets were off. They wanted nothing to do with the half strut Jake that we had facing a feeding hen. The lead tom putted, and I fired. He piled up at 30 yards and in a flurry, I ran out to him not thinking about the fact that I should have ejected the empty shell and prepared for a follow up shot on the second tom.
As the second bird sailed back down the creek bed, the turkey I shot laid at my feet and the day’s hunt was over. Jason and I celebrated with a high five and a quick prayer of thanks over the tom. I had never done more hiking, climbing, or calling in all my years of turkey hunting.
Before we got back in the UTV that night, we decided that the tom we had spooked would most likely be using the same travel route to feed the next morning. With little to no response to calling, the prudent thing was to set up at an ambush location and wait.
Day Two Success
The next morning, tucked under the same cedar tree, the first gobble rang up the creek bed. Since I had killed the evening before, Jason sat holding his recurve bow, and I sat with TK, Jason’s Mossberg 12 ga that had performed flawlessly the night before. The royal purple fletchings of Jason’s handcrafted arrows and the stitched leather of their quiver were a perfect tribute to the history of the land we were hunting. As we listened to the gobbler slowly announce his way through the thick mesquite and scrub cedar, it was clear that he was trailing patiently behind a hen. She was the reason we wouldn’t be doing any calling that morning.
The gobbler paced nervously in the same place we first saw him. Now he knew where we were, and Jason wasn’t going to be able to nock another arrow. The tom finally had enough and made his way to my right and away from us. I raised the gun and said, “Jason he’s not coming back, I’m going to kill him.” Jason replied with a quick “Kill him.” and I fired. The tom fell cleanly where he stood. Our hunt was over.
When I went to Texas to hunt turkeys, I had in my mind that I was going to do it with a bow, take head shots, and fit the trend in turkey hunting today. I’ve killed turkeys with a bow. I’ve killed them with a gun. I know the feeling of missing with both as well. This hunt was about new experiences, not trends. It was about making new friends, not about new footage. Don’t get me wrong, footage of a head-shot with a monster broadhead on my first rio would have been spectacular, but in a sense, I’m glad it didn’t work out that way. We had four sits to make this happen on our first trip. God allowed us to make it happen in his perfect timing.
I'd like to say a special thank you to John and Ronda Eason of the Eason Ranch for their hospitality and sharing such a wonderful property! If you would like to book a Whitetail or Desert Mule Deer hunt on the Eason Ranch contact John at (863)781-1254.
Guest Post by Dave Ashworth
Filming your hunts is one of the most rewarding yet challenging things you can do in the woods. Hunting by itself is hard enough but when you add camera gear and a cameraman, things are taken to another level. However, being able to capture your experiences and share them with others is so fulfilling. I have been filming for about 2 years now and have learned many things in that short period of time. Here are the top 10 things I have learned about filming your own hunts:
Choosing the Right Camera
One of the first questions I hear all the time is "what camera should I get to film my hunts?". There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It really comes down to budget and what exactly you are looking to use it for. Some people only have a few hundred dollars to spend and others have thousands of dollars. From what I’ve found it really comes down to how well you know your equipment and how you utilize what you have. Will a $5,000 camera get better shots than a $100 camera? Probably. But you can still make something pretty sweet with a $100 camera if you know how to use it.
Auto Focus vs. Manual Focus
A key to filming is understanding focus. Let's say you have a deer out in the middle of a field. If you put your focus on the deer, the woods in the background should look blurry. In an open field auto focus would work great since there is nothing in between you and the deer. When you get in the woods this gets a bit more tricky. Let's say you are in a tree and a deer is coming in at 100 yds. You put your camera right on the deer but it is in auto focus. Between you and the deer are hundreds of branches. Chances are the camera will focus on the branches instead of the deer (obviously a big issue). This is where you want to use manual focus so you can pull your focus on exactly what you want.
I would say 90% of the time we are shooting in manual focus. This gives us the most flexibility and assures us that what we want to film is in focus.
As you will quickly learn, lighting in videography is crucial. When you are hunting you are filming in super low light situations (ex. daybreak) and also very bright situations like midday. You need to know how to adjust your camera settings so your shot is properly lit. You have the find the right balance so your shots are not too dark and not too bright. There is not much you can do when editing a shot if the lighting isn't correct.
For staged shots you are able to manipulate the lighting with lights and reflectors. If you can understand lighting and master that skill, you will be way ahead of the curve.
Think Outside the Box
One of the things I love about filming is trying crazy shots. Don't just hold your camera at your chest and film the same 10 shots every time you go into the woods. Film some shots close and some far away. Film some from right on the ground and some from the air (a drone helps here!). Don't be afraid to try different things.
Tell The Story
This one is huge for us. It is so tempting to carry the camera gear into the deer woods and break it out when you are in the tree. It is much easier to do that then to film the entire day (from waking up to packing up the truck to leave). However, if you want to captivate an audience you need to tell the entire story. Keep in mind the story may start 5 months prior when you were planting food plots and hanging trailcams. Trust me, you will want to have footage from those times if you end up shooting a deer. Make sure you have your camera with you at all times and capture as much footage and possible. If you don’t end up using it, who cares! But I guarantee you will regret not having footage from certain times if a hunt comes together in the end.
One way to tell a good story is focus on things that are unique to that hunt. Is there a small town nearby that you always drive through to get there? Is there a gate you always have to jump out and open? Maybe there is tree you always walk by or a certain sound you hear when in the woods. Is it raining or snowing that that? You need to capture all of this! Obviously filming the actual hunt is important but filming the secondary stuff is what is going to separate your film from others.
Still Shots vs. Motion Shots
There are two points I want to make here. The first one is related to still shots. When you are filming, you need to have your camera still. Having a good tripod or a tree arm is an absolute must. Shaky shots are hard to watch and can really ruin the quality of the film.
Second, motion in some of your shots is crucial. Go back and watch your favorite hunting film and I guarantee you will see some motion in a lot of the shots. You can use things like sliders, a fluid head or drone to get the motion you are looking for. There are many ways to achieve motion in your shots but they add a ton of drama. Just make sure it is smooth and not jumping around.
You will need some sort of editing software to put your videos together. The two main ones are Adobe Premier Pro and Final Cut Pro. We currently use Premier but there are other editing software packages that can work as well. Just find something you are comfortable with and can navigate easily.
There are so many things you can do when editing a video. The key is to understand your software and have a good flow to the video that tells a story.
If you have more specific questions, I would love to chat with you. There is so much more that goes into creating a film but I hope this article was helpful. I am by no means a professional but I do study filming and work on my craft every single day. I look forward to checking out some of the awesome things you capture in the future!
Guest Post By Kyle Settle
God’s prevailing grace can often times be seen in our experiences in the outdoors. I know for me at least, even before I came to know and fully love God, I experienced moments where God’s grace was completely apparent. Even now, after giving myself to the Lord, I can see his work every time I am afield.
The years after college were a stressful time in my life as I was a young Engineer that was driven to succeed and was honestly greedy for success. To this point hunting and a connection to nature had always been paramount in my life but due to work and social commitments I began to stray from an outdoors lifestyle. Until one morning when I had an experience that snapped me back to reality.
With the opening of our rifle season, I decided it was time to go deeper into the mountains to hunt where I thought pressured deer would gravitate. I settled into a stand that rarely gets hunted and waited for the sun to come up. Even though this was close to 5 years ago now; I can remember how beautiful the sunrise was that morning. Turkeys began to pitch off from their roosts and mill around the ridge to my right. I began to call back and forth to them in hopes of them staying around during the morning. No matter how much I called they seemed to just want to go the opposite direction.
At this point in my life, prayer wasn’t a part of my routine and I was distance from the Heavenly Father. Prayer still came to me anyway. A few minutes went by without any signs. I began watching a large fox squirrel as he carelessly bounced around the log where I had shot at the Bobcat. All of a sudden he alerted and began to bark at nothing. Was this a sign? I immediately climbed down and walked down to the spot. Lying in a small nook between the log and a tree was my Bobcat. God has answered my prayer and given me an experience that I will never forget.
Three years later, I had a similar experience while hunting that not only strengthened my faith but drove me to fully give myself to God. My life was literally falling apart around me and I couldn’t see a way out so I did the only thing that helped to ease my anxiety and took to a treestand.
I was sitting in that stand analyzing all the poor decisions I had made in the last few years and was fighting an endless void that I felt inside. At this point in my life I was so wrapped up in myself that I couldn’t accept grace. I can remember praying for these feelings to be gone because if I continued to harbor them I would lose my life. Literally moments after uttering those words to God, a small five point Buck materialized out of the brush and walked directly under the stand. I raised my muzzleloader and harvested him at less than 20 steps. At this moment I realized that all the heartache I had endured was over. God had given me a sign that I was worth saving and that he had plans for me. Even though I did not know it at the time, Jeremiah 29:11 describes this instance perfectly “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Without that experience on that cold November morning, I would not have the life I have now.
Guest post By Mike Roux
There is no doubt in my mind that the Good Lord has blessed me far beyond my worth. If I never caught another bass, He has seen fit to let me fight dozens of largemouth over 8-pounds. Many of these were caught on surface lures. Let’s look at a couple of them.
The late June sun had almost disappeared beneath the western tree-line as my MOTOLURE top-water bass bait hit the water between two trees laying in the water about six-feet apart. The vibration of the lure created enticing ripples on the mirror-still surface.
The next time she came up my partner, Brian Dralle got the net under her and she was mine. The scale read 10-pounds, 4-ounces. She was and still is my largest bass taken on a top-water lure.
Late summer and early fall are great times for bass to aggressively attack top-water baits. I use several different surface lures and I would like to take just a few minutes to highlight some of my favorites. These are in no particular order.
MOTOLURE: Since I already mentioned this lure and it has caught my biggest bass on the surface we will start here.
I have used the MOTOLURE for about 10-years. It is responsible for catching me more bass over 5-pounds during that time than any other lure or bait. Offered in several model and color combinations, the MOTOLURE has a built-in mechanism that causes it to vibrate. Each time you “chug” the lure it resets the mechanism, causing it to vibrate again.
This kind of action is new and different than anything else the bass have ever seen, regardless of the fishing pressure on a particular body of water. This lure is well made and very durable and dependable. To get your MOTOLURES go towww.motolure.com. I highly recommend them.
ZARA SPOOK: The side-to-side action of this minnow-imitating lure is commonly referred to as “walking the dog”. By rhythmically twitching your rod tip you can cause this lure to move back and forth during the retrieve. This action effectively mimics the motion that an injured minnow might make.
The Spook comes in a variety of sizes and colors. I prefer chrome during the day and black after dark and before sunrise. Frog patterns with yellow bellies also work well, especially in the smaller sizes.
BUZZ BAITS: For over 40-years the buzz bait has been a favorite top-water lure among bass anglers. Because the combination of both noise and movement can really aggravate fish this is one of the most exciting surface lures available.
One tip to keep in mind with buzz baits is that you will need a very high speed reel. Normal reels will take a long time to bring these lures to the surface. Often you are outside the best part of the strike zone before the bait starts buzzing. High speed reels eliminate that problem, bringing the bait to the top quickly. BOOYAH buzz baits are the best and are the ones I recommend.
To see the entire line of Zara Spooks, Booyah buzz baits, Jitterbugs and Hula Poppers go to www.lurenet.com. Be sure to check-out my web site; www.mikeroux.com. May God bless al of your outdoor activities.
By Jim Richman
This year, when I returned home from a hunting trip, I was flipping through phone pictures and came across two images that set the mood for the Easter season. One was a photo of a cluster of stunning red blooms that were coming from a bright green and threatening Claretcup cactus that I took while hiking through the canyons of West Texas. The other was a single drop of blood on a stick of mesquite that was from a Turkey I had killed in the same area. The vivid red of both of these photos could only make my mind go to one place. The blood of Jesus. Through the terrifying thorns and seeming defeat of the cross, the blood of Christ remained the one thing required for God's people to have eternal life. It was the only thing that could satisfy the debt I owed to God for the sin that I had chosen. It stands out among the dry spiritual wasteland that is our sinful world as the most precious of all sacrifices. Like the beauty of the cactus flowers, the blood of Christ represents life, and like the lone drop of blood on the mesquite, it is the deciding factor between life and death.
But that's not where the story of Easter ends. We don't sing joyful songs of praise on Easter Sunday, only because Jesus died. We sing songs of resurrection. Songs of victory over death, because Jesus is alive! We celebrate his life because he fulfilled the mission he was sent to complete. As a sportsman, this is represented every day when I stand on a ridge top, or along a stream edge early before daylight only being able to see silhouettes of shapes and structures, and then the first rays of the morning sun shred the dark. Just like the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, the veil of sin that separated God's people from His presence was torn completely allowing us access to Him.
For those of us who love the outdoors, we have the opportunity to re-visit the powerful message of the gospel every time we step outside. It is our anchor, our motivator, our guide through all of the things that God has set forth for us to accomplish with our time on this earth. This Easter, I pray that you won't just admire how beautiful spring is and go through the motions of the holiday as you are waiting to leave the Sunday meal and head for the lake or the turkey woods, but that you would look at those beautiful things and be reminded of the sacrifice of Christ and what it has done to bring you new life, hope, and a new identity. Change Easter in your life. Make it about the gospel.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
By Jim Richman
Give yourself plenty of time
As I was researching how to fly with Bowhunting equipment, I found that there are two schools of thought on how to lock your case. Some will say to use the TSA approved locking mechanisms on your case, or that you can purchase aftermarket. This allows the TSA to open your case at will and inspect without having to call you to open your case. Others, and this is where I lean, will tell you that you should use non-TSA locks to more efficiently protect your case from having the locks picked and gear removed. I like the idea of a potential thief having as much trouble as possible to get into my expensive equipment, so I purchased two key-operated padlocks and use them to secure my bow case. I'm happy to have my name called and open the case for them with me standing there as they inspect.
Note: The TSA has the right to bolt cut your aftermarket locks should they feel the need to and if they cannot get in touch with you. To avoid this, it's important to tell the person working the check in counter that you have the keys for the locks on your BOW CASE should TSA need to open it. The reason I emphasized BOW CASE is because some workers will not be able to tell the difference between a bow case and gun case. (Flying with a gun is an entirely different article:) The worker may tell you to stay close to the check in counter or close to where you can hear your name called after you check in should you need to remove the locks. This could take as long as a half an hour after check in. Be patient. I have even heard it recommended that you ask to be escorted to the TSA area if the location is not close to the check in counter.
What to Pack
My second checked bag will contain my boots, clothes, and other non-gear items, and my carry on will typically be my small backpack with the flying essentials.
No need to freak out
One last thing to remember
By: Jim Richman
By: Jim Richman
Static Blind Field Hunting
Because of the skyrocketing popularity of bow hunting turkeys, using a static position in a pop-up or natural blind has proven itself deadly when using more aggressive decoy sets. However, it is also possible to run into the issue of causing a turkey to “hang up”.
This is a type of hunt that can be more thoroughly planned for, allowing for a more tolerable situation of hauling in decoys. Therefore, I like to carry a full or half –strut Jake decoy and at least one hen, preferably two. Try using one alert and one feeding hen. At our hunting property, we typically use this method on the edge of a large pasture in places that our decoy sets can be seen at greater distances. One way we have found to help avoid the “hang-up” scenario is to turn the head of the “strutter” decoy away from, or at least perpendicular to, the direction the gobbler will be coming from. Mature toms like the element of surprise when coming in for the takedown on an intruder, and will spend more time showing off if they think the “new guy” can see them.
Decoy Priority: 4.5
Recommended Type: Sub-Dominant Strutter, One Alert Hen, One Feeding or breeding position hen.
So you’ve roosted a tom. You know where his hens have roosted, and you know you can get into the timber between the two in a solid topographical position. You’re not all that interested in taking the time to set up a blind, and you have a feeling this is going to be quick work at first light. This isn’t a bird I’m interested in playing around with making a movie star out of. In my experience, if all of these variables come together, I’m going to get in early, get as tight to that gobbler as I can directly between him and his hens, and not bother with making any extra noise. I might even let the real hens do all of the talking. The only time I’m using a decoy in this situation is if I feel comfortable enough to set up without much extra disturbance, and for the sole purpose of drawing a gobblers eye while he’s coming my way anyway.
Decoy Priority: 2.5
Recommended type: Feeding hen, and feeding Jake (At Most)
“Cutting-and-Running” can take on a lot of different forms, but the premise is the same. Cover a lot of ground, stopping at calling locations along the way to try to strike up a gobble, and hopefully find a gobbler that will work in to calling. It can be a very effective method later in the morning when turkeys are on the move and farther away from roost areas than calls can reach.
Not every cut-and-run set requires quick moving after a turkey gobbles. The trouble is, I have found that a turkey can cover a large amount of ground much more quickly than I can fish around in my pack or vest to set up a decoy, and then hide well enough to not get caught in the process.
When I know I’m going to be hunting this way, I rarely carry decoys because I want to be able to move and hide well. A good “hide” is better than a rushed decoy set. Even in windy conditions, a gobbler can pinpoint calling to within feet of your location. If a turkey responds to calling in a cut-and-run situation, I want him to come looking to within feet of where he heard my call, not see a decoy one ridge over, or a hundred yards out and hang up.
Decoy Priority: 2.5
Recommended type: Light-weight feeding hen
It’s a given that most hunters will have varying opinions on how turkey decoys should be placed, the quality of decoys that should be set out, and even specific scenarios that they should, or shouldn’t be used in. Based on nearly 20 years of turkey hunting experience, I’ve found that the mantra is true that, “It’s better to have and not need than need and not have”. When it comes to decoys in the rolling cattle country dotted with rocky timber ridges and glades where I hunt, decoys can either be a hero, or nothing more than an added pain when dealing with henned-up, heavy pressure, tight lipped Easterns. The best advice I’ve been given on the whole topic is “plan the hunt and hunt the plan”. Experience is the best teacher when dealing with these incredible birds.
From year to year my hunting scenario completely changes. Some years the property is nothing but clover for hay. Other years, we are covered up with standing corn or beans. This year was a perfect combination of all three, and my stand was located where all three came together. Interestingly enough, at the convergence of all three of those fields on the big draw I hunt, there was also a very active scrape.
My expectations were high, but I had no idea how good it would be.
My first night in the stand, around October 25th, I felt like I was in a hunting show. I was able to take a survey of how many deer were in the area without ever checking a trail camera. After harvesting a doe very early in the sit, I tucked back in to the stand and waited for dark. I had no clue that only a few minutes later, I would be provided another shot opportunity on a mature ten-point whitetail working that same hot scrape.
I had all the time in the world. I took my bow off the bow hanger and began my draw process. I felt like everything was perfect, and I let the arrow fly. Then I heard the arrow hit, saw small amount of fletch sticking out, and he bolted. The shot looked a bit high, but he was close, so I thought the angle was going to be fine.
It’s a powerful illustration for not stepping up and doing what the moment calls for.
Paul is preparing Timothy for those moments that he is called to rise to the occasion. Paul knew that Timothy, like many Christians, would endure moments when the word of God would not be regarded as authority, and he would have to stand for it and use the very thing the opponents were rejecting as the corrective for the moment. In essence, he’s saying, “Timothy, this is how you will be able to rise to the demands of the moments when God’s word will not be recognized or regarded as authoritative, and still remain faithful to God in your ministry.”
Wounding an animal that you are hunting is painful. It’s full of shame and regret. The moment of truth reveals our true strengths and weaknesses. If we are hunters, we will want to continue hunting. The only thing we can do, is go back to the drawing board and improve our skills.
I can say first-hand that Brute Force Pre-workout is not a product you will want to take before having to sit through a boring staff meeting. Only a few minutes after drinking the Brute Force, I noticed a tingling sensation in my fingers and lower legs, and then felt the warmth of blood vessels beginning to dilate.
Once I finally got out of my meeting and made it to the gym, I noticed a definitive difference in my quickness of being able to arrive at a "ready to work" state during a warm up. My muscles seemed to become more prepared for running and lifting more quickly than normal during my normal stretching routine. There was also a prolonged capacity for completing a workout when using Brute Force. I experienced less stops for rest, and a greater drive for pushing through an exercise, particularly when lifting. This pre workout does contain traces of caffeine, so if you work out late at night, I would suggest using the ultimate pre workout formula that is caffeine free rather than Brute Force.
To put Brute Strength’s ability to the test, I performed a two-week experiment on myself. At the beginning of week one, I began using Brute Strength as directed immediately following a workout. For seven days in a row, I was able to do my workouts without dealing with over-sore muscles. At the beginning of week two, I cut Brute Strength completely and performed the exact same workouts with the exact same weight and level of activity. The second day of that week was miserable. Even though I was working out a different part of my body than on day one of week two, the muscle soreness was almost unbearable.
For the record, I don't encourage anyone to experiment like I did to test these products. After my two-week torture test was over, it was time to assess profit(gains) or losses. Without question, every free weight lift had increased by five pounds or more doing 3 sets of ten, with a squat max increasing by more than twenty pounds. I was pretty shocked.
The final analysis
Three years ago, I received the Dead Ringer Beard Buster sight from a friend as a gift. I didn’t actually put it on my shotgun for quite some time. Like a lot of hunters, I didn’t like to change something that had worked so well for so long. After I finally set my gun up with the Beard Buster, I learned an important lesson about how stubbornness can reduce effectiveness in the field.
What I found was a simple, but remarkably effective design that was built for real-life hunters, for they way they actually use and treat their equipment, and for hunting scenarios that require no-nonsense accuracy.
Next, the flexibility of being able to set the rear sight as far forward or back on the rib as you like helps to be able to gain the desired sight picture of the shooter. This was particularly appealing to me as a bow hunter because I like to be able to see as much as I can through my peep sight. As you can see in the photo, I set the rear sight as far back as I could on the rib, to be able to achieve this. More sight picture also makes for better distance judgment.
I began to see even more of an advantage with the Beard Buster when I began shooting higher performing turkey ammunition. As turkey loads are advancing and becoming more devastating at longer ranges, the need for shooting a shotgun with a more “rifle-like” shooting technique increases. The beard buster forces a shooter to slow down, keep their cheek placed firmly on the stock of the gun, and center the front sight within the four points of the rear sight. If a person is familiar with rifle shooting at all, you will understand how this process can even make a trigger pull more accurate… bad news for turkeys.
One very nice touch to the Beard Buster pack is the ability to choose the front and rear sight color combination. While the rear sight color is static, you can choose what your front sight color will be. I like the variance of the green front sight with the orange rear sight.
A call to action for Christian Sportsmen
That’s our message, will you make it yours? Will you share?
A primer in Choosing Camo
- Does this pattern confuse, or break up my outline well? Over the years, I have discovered that tighter, darker, and more busy patterns tend to “blotch” at greater distances, making hunters look more like sasquatch than the highly manipulated magazine covers. More open patterns confuse the eye more effectively, but can be percieved as too bright. Finding a good balance of open and detailed is very important.
- Does the material this pattern is printed on reflect or seem “glossy” when placed under light?
- Does this pattern have the potential to fade due to the material it’s printed on? We all have those old cotton tshirts that would work better as a snow pattern. Cotton/poly blends now retain their color much better.
- Do the accessories on the camo; buttons, zippers, velcro, have the potential to give me away in the woods?
Short Sleeve Tee: This shirt is made of a highly durable 100% poly that feels heavy at first, but does a good job of wicking moisture away from your body as you sweat. The collar is snugly fitting so you don’t get the white collar effect with lower cut tees. The sleeves are adequate length to cover more of your upper arm (sorry to you guys that like to show off the mini muscles), and my favorite thing about this shirt is that it is cut long enough not to come untucked when sitting and standing up.
Long sleeve tee: Perfect for turkey hunting or early season bow hunting when temps can vary widely. Again, it is also cut long enough to not let dirt or critters up the back of your shirt when sitting down.
Pants: Made of a very soft, almost flannel like material that is surprisingly comfortable especially during longer hikes. It’s deadly quiet. No more “Swishing” through the woods on a stalk or sounding like a paper bag walking through brush. I especially like the deep pockets all around. This is the only pair of hunting pants I have not lost turkey call strikers out of. They seem to be cut a little longer than some pants, but can be cinched around the ankles if necessary. I simply tuck them into my rubber boots. Finally, they also cinch around the waist for those times you forget your belt. (Like I do...regularly)
Fleece Pullover: Super warm, comfortable, and quiet. It has two nice deep pockets on the sides and zips all the way to your chin. And of course, it’s fleece, so it sheds the wind very well.
“I started MMC in 2010 building diaphragm mouth calls out of not being able to find consistent calls I liked and to become more involved in the outdoor industry. The following year I developed pot calls. I am a tool and die maker by trade so production and manufacturing came natural to me. This past fall I started building and turning others calls as well like locator, predator, and grunt calls. One of my goals has always been to build easy to run calls while keeping the sounds true.”
While it’s clear that the name comes from the cuts on the reed and the dark color of the call, this call is the best kind of scary. It was this two-reed call, paired with the purrs and clucks of the slate over glass that brought in my 24 lb slob in the photos this season. Super easy to blow, this call will make you feel sorry for the birds your calling in the best way possible. The rasp of this call shares a clarity in the yelping that is amazingly natural. It is my new go-to call.
Heres a a sample of the Vampire in action:
Please be sure to go to mouthymaynard.com to pick up any of these calls and check out the rest of his selection.
From The Kitchen
- 3-5 lb venison ham roast, trimmed
- Bacon grease (for browning roast)
- 8 small, tri-colored peppers, cut in strips
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut in strips
- 2 celery ribs, chunked
- 1 medium, sweet onion, chunked
- handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or 6 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped)
- enough water to cover roast 3/4 of the way
Brown roast on all sides over medium-high heat before transferring to the pressure cooker. Layer the bottom of the pressure cooker with onions and celery and place the roast on top. Place the remainder of the vegetables and seasoning on top of the roast, add water and tightly close lid as per manufacturer instruction (every pressure cooker is slightly different). Cook time for our specific pressure cooker was 52 minutes with a "slow release," (again, refer to your manufacturer instructions and you'll see what I mean). After the pressure gauge has gone down, open the lid, carefully remove the roast and allow it to rest on a platter for 10 minutes. Then cut or shred to your liking!
By Field writer Rob Stain
Being created in God's Image is a stature reserved only for mankind. It means we are literal image reflectors of who God is, however, it is a blurred image due to our brokenness and finite nature. God created us intentionally, to reflect His Image for a particular purpose: glory.
In our selfish pride, inherited through Adam's rebellion, we fight with every fiber in our being to be the pinnacle of our own existence; the existential focus on our own throne and lordship of our purpose and destiny. This is a mutinous exercise against the God of creation who's worship is demanded simply by His existence. Adam's revolt should have ushered in swift justice: instant destruction to satisfy the compromise of God's gift and covenant of life in the Garden. However, God Almighty stayed His hand, demonstrating His long suffering nature by not only sparing Adam from instant death, but promising a rescuer in the coming Messiah who would save His people from their sins.
Why would He do this? How could a just God show such restraint, mercy, and beauty? How could He continue to love a people and a world that was now tainted by sin and ugliness? The answer is simple, yet overwhelming. God allowed us to fall and has promised restoration through His Son, Jesus, because it brings Him glory.
Glory is the purpose for why we exist at all. God created mankind to reflect His image and has commanded worship from us, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1). This special existence as uniquely created, human worshippers must be signified through some amazing act that sets mankind apart from the rest of creation. But where is it in the Scriptures?
Let's look at the creation account of Adam again in Genesis 2:7, "then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."
There are two amazing distinctions to point out here:
First, no other aspect of creation is described with such physical intimacy. For light and darkness, land and water, grass, animals, etc, Moses only gives one description for their creation. God speaks "let there be," and there is. Nothing short of amazing in it of itself. However, he gives more detail to the apex of God's creation. Instead of God simply speaking, Moses is careful to give anthropomorphic descriptions regarding God's physical posture. He comes down to the earth's service, scoops up soil into His hands and forms Adam's body. He shapes Adam's torso, legs and arms, hands and feet, fingers and toes. Consider all that functions like clock work in the human body from the largest muscle to the smallest cell: God forms Adams body's from the dust with His hands. Genesis 2 then says that God breathes His breathe into Adam's lungs. Much more intimate and descriptive than the similar but less descriptive "speaking" account of Genesis 1. God's breathe fills Adam's lungs, giving him life and inviting him into a relationship where God and Adam are together with no barriers like we have today because of sin.
Moses not only indicates the uniqueness of God's creation of man through physical description, but by important use of God's name in order to drive the point home that from the beginning of creation, God created humanity with the intention of having a relationship with us, and being worshiped by us.
This should make you feel quite special, because you are! God created you so that he might have a relationship with you. He loved you so much that He sacrificed His own Son in order that He could call you and rescue you. He created you with purpose. He created you so that you will worship Him and give him the glory He alone is entitled to as Creator, Savior and Lord over all creation.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with this: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." God has commanded that you obey Him, worship Him and has made "forever" possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has promised to redeem His people from their sins and has provided reconciliation back to a relationship without separation through Jesus.
Make Jesus your Lord, obey the commands of God's Word, and worship Him in every moment of every day.
- In what ways do you reflect God's image?
- Do you worship God through the whole day in everything you do?
- What does Worship look like during work, while in the field, or when we are with friend or family?
- How can you grow as a worshipper and in what ways do you need to break yourself of rebellious actions and desires so that you might focus more on living God's way?
Upon mankind's fall into sin, however, came the propensity to extort God's righteous design. Sportsmen see it world-wide in wasteful destruction of habitat, poor population management practices, poaching, hurtful agricultural methods, and the list goes on. What's so much worse is that through the ages, sin has done everything in its power to strip the human being of it's created value and diminish our existence to even less than equal to the beasts of the field. Behaviors (none of them new ideas mind you) like as infanticide(abortion), sexual perversion, and so on, all find thier root, at least in part, as a result of a diminished understanding of the value of life as it was created.
In this, we see a commonality in the nature of what sin works to do. It wants to dilute and distort the full, pristine value of what God has said and done and set itself up as the ultimate authority and final say of what our lives, and our eternity, are governed by. (Genesis 3)
1. Read John 1:1-5 and Psalm 139: 13-15
2. When you consider that God made you, what comes to your mind? Do you love that idea? Hate it? Why do you think those emotions come to light?
3. Quick! Where do you find your value? Is it in your ability to be productive? Maybe it's in a talent. If all of this were taken away, would you still feel valuable?
4. If our ultimate value is found in Christ's sacrifice, how does this relate to your answer to question 3?
5. What can you do today to help someone else see that they are the valued pinnacle of God's creation?
 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)
You may be able to get close to your desired outcome, but there is still a better outcome to be achieved. In other words, to hit a target is good, to hit close to the bulls-eye is better, but ultimately, the best outcome is to hit the bulls-eye.
What were they doing? We see the “Jesus and” syndrome. The angels and Jesus, the Law and Jesus, the patriarchs and Jesus, the traditions and Jesus. In other words, satisfaction with Jesus being the aim in life and worship, alone was never enough.
Now before you get the wrong idea, notice that these things were not evil in and of themselves. Certainly, because these people grew up in the Jewish culture, it was important for them to know of the richness of their history, to know of how the angels played a role, why Moses and Joshua were important, how the law functioned in their society for so long and was put in place by God, and how the traditions were in place as a reminder of where they had come from. But the train became derailed when these things began to take precedence to the one who rules over angles, to the one who Moses and Joshua were pointing the people to, the one who fulfilled the law, and who the traditional practices of the culture all pointed forward to.
No they weren’t evil or sinful so to speak, but they missed the point. That Jesus is above these things, that He is better, he is the bulls-eye. No tradition of the Jewish culture, no angel, no patriarch of the faith, no animal sacrifice, no priest, ever accomplished what Jesus accomplished at the cross. No blood of animals had ever atoned for the sins of people as completely as the perfect blood of Jesus. No priest ever kept or fulfilled the law as perfectly a Jesus, and they certainly didn’t make it possible for just anyone to access the holy presence of almighty God. No angel had ever taken on flesh died, and then rose from the dead in defeat of death. Jesus DID what the Law couldn’t do, he accomplished what the patriarchs couldn’t accomplish.
He took the wrath of God that was unshakingly and rightly aimed at me, and at you because of our rebellion, entirely upon himself. And succeeded in replacing what should have been certain destruction with peace. Even more than that, he made it possible for you and me not only to no longer be God’s enemies, but to be adopted into his family! To be called his Children.
First, in worship. Focus is lost, my aim is shaky, and worship becomes a selfish endeavor rather than a service to the Lord. Christ, in my heart and mind, loses his rightful place as my Lord and Savior. Second, in faith. When I forget that Jesus completely satisfied the wrath of God on my behalf exactly how he said he would, I find myself grasping for other things to trust, other things to satisfy my struggling spirit.
Ironically enough, that is exactly what had happened here in our text. These people had set up a makeshift throne next to that of Christ and said, “there now. This is what we need. This will please us” and in doing so, missed the point completely.
If this is you, please know that we can praise God that His word is quick to set His people straight if they will listen. I’d like to encourage you with instruction from God’s word on how to hit the mark.
- Draw Near With Confidence
- Hear this! If you’re a follower of Jesus, and if your heart is beating, you need to be reminded that first, the blood of Jesus has made it possible for YOU to enter into the presence of God both eternally and in this life. And the way he has set forth for you to do so here on earth is by way of corporate worship, personal worship, fellowship with other Christians, and the other spiritual disciplines.
- And Secondly, when we draw near to him in the ways he has prescribed we should pursue to never do so as though the sacrifice of Jesus was not sufficient. How dare we enter into prayer or worship as though he is not listening, as though he is not involved? Being covered by the blood of Jesus means that the believer can do something completely separate from that of the one who still rejects Jesus as savior through worship; and to treat worship as though it is something no different than that of the social gathering of the pagan is not what God deserves, and is certainly not representative of His nature. I urge you to worship God as though he is all there is to worship because my friend HE IS! DRAW NEAR to God and the things he has set forth to draw you near and know that Christ’s blood has done its job! Know that the Holy Spirit in you is interceding for you even when you have no CLUE what to say to God when you pray, and know that God the father is listening to his Children cry out to him in agony and joy knowing that HE is the only way that they will find rest! Friend if you will do this I know that worship for you will be filled with more joy than you can handle even in the face of Death! Draw near with confidence.
The next instruction the writer of Hebrews gives us is to hold fast to the confession of our hope.
The Bible teaches us that there are those who confess Christ and then at some point run headlong into Apostasy, or turn from the faith. Their commitment to Christ is superficial and vanishes at the first sniff of trial.
- Friends, some of you are simply hanging on to your confession to follow Christ by a thread. You are asking, “What’s it worth”? You can’t see God moving in your life. Know this! A true believer’s faith and hope are never in vain because they are placed in a God who has never faltered in faithfulness! Even though you can’t see Him working doesn’t mean he isn’t working. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “Faithful is he who calls you , and He also will bring it to pass.” In other words, HANG ON! God will do what he says he will do! His answers may be a long time coming, and our waiting may be painful, but he will always do what he has said he will do.
- Have you ever thought about how to inspire someone to love, or to do good works?
- What this doesn’t look like is leaving church and talking at length about how sister so and so made you mad.
- But seriously, can you imagine how much more effective we could be as God’s people if rather than sit around and complain, we sat around coming up with ways to show God’s love to people? This is what scripture is commanding. Think about how to do good and love, and along with that think of ways to inspire others to act in the same way!
- Why is this important? They are defining marks of a Disciple: John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.”
- Love and good works make fertile soil for more love and good works. The most effective way to inspire someone else to love and to do good works is to love and do good works yourself for the good of others.
It's that time of year again. Time to reflect on the old and anticipate the new. Time to acknowledge how far we've come and how far we have to go. It may be a bit cliche these days to discuss our New Years resolution, yet it is natural for us to think upon such things at the turn of a new year.
With January 1st comes the clean slate of a new year, the chance to jump-start where we left off. It presents itself as a great opportunity for us to commit to a new beginning and the excuse and motivation to drastically alter our course toward a new direction.
So what are you going to change about yourself this year? Are you going to shed some unwanted pounds in order to make you healthier and more fit to enjoy the outdoor activities you love? Are you going to stick to a tighter budget this year to set some money aside for the future, for rainy days, and maybe save a few bucks toward that new rifle you've been eyeballing for years? Are you going to drive toward that new promotion at work to better things for your career and your family? Are you going to work harder than ever before to finally put yourself in the right place at the right time to take down that once-in-lifetime trophy?
By all means, I hope all the above are true for you this next year! However, there is a call in the Scriptures to be ever bettering ourselves. One of the greatest truths of God's Word is that becoming better doesn't require a gym membership, financial advisor, extra effort or greater resolve. In fact, though the Scriptures set the expectation that a person who has been called unto salvation by Christ should continue to grow in holiness, the reality is you can do nothing on your own to grow. Though we have been redeemed by Jesus, we are still tainted by sin and unable to do good without something powerful: the Holy Spirit.
Hear these words of Paul, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you...” Romans 8:1-11 (ESV).
The best part of this passage is verse one: the anchor-truth in following Jesus is that forgiveness and everlasting life our certain for those who Christ has called to Himself! No exceptions!
Second, Paul acknowledges that though we have been given new life in Christ, we are still sinners. Though we have been declared righteous by God through the work of Jesus on the cross, we still are not perfect yet this side of heaven. Therefore, we are in desperate need of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, and His ability to grow us unto maturity in Christ. He teaches us obedience to His Word through His Word. Jesus earned for us new life and it is the Holy Spirit who applies that new life in us every moment of every day. The same Holy Spirit who manifested His power in parting the Red Sea, tossing fire from heaven down upon Elijah's alter, and crushed armies with nothing but shouts and trumpets, is ever at work within you, growing you, making you more like the perfect God-follower He intended you to be. He does this through ordinary means as well. We see the Holy Spirit at work within us when we pray, read God's Word, fellowship with other believers, and worship Him.
So here is a challenge for you this year. I pray for all the success in your goals, however make this one your priority: seek out the Lord, through worship, fellowship, prayer and Scripture daily. Ask Him to send the Holy Spirit to work powerfully in you. That he would break away the your sinful hardness of the heart and continue to blossom new, bold fruit from your life. Ask that He would burden your heart this new year and align your priorities with God's will for you life. His will that He has clearly laid out for you in His Word for your life: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8(ESV).
I am praying for that this year would be a year that you see tremendous growth in your life. I am praying that our readers would be lit on fire with a passion for God that would put our passion for the outdoors to shame. I am praying for our readers who have yet to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior to no longer put off the call Jesus has placed on their hearts, but will come to the King. That they will humble themselves and pray, asking Jesus to be their Savior and Lord.
May you see true growth this new year! I pray that the Kingdom of God rises up, kicks down the gates of Hell, loves the world and shares the good news of Jesus like never before. I pray that Jesus would come quickly and make things new!
May God bless you and from all of us here at Journal of a Christian Sportsman, have a happy new year!
Jesus' entrance into the world was humbly celebrated by shepherds, yet publicly proclaimed by the host of heaven. His birth was commencement of an age to come where the Kingdom of heaven would begin to encroach upon the realm of sin. It wasn't a private event. His coming was prophesied to thousands people for thousands of years. The stars danced across the sky as a celestial billboard to proclaim the good news of The Kings arrival. Just think, the One who made the stars was now having His birth announced by them, and the world noticed. Kings of the east began a long journey toward the Promise. Evil commanded the death of thousands of Jewish boys out of fear of imminent expiration. John makes the point that this was not an event missed by the world, rather the coming of Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection, were all very public events meant for all the world to see, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 ESV).
Do your co-workers, friends, family members know that you celebrate Christmas because of Jesus Christ? Is your changed life on public display for all the world to see because of what Jesus has done in your life? Does your faith get tied up in ribbons and bows, parties and shopping rather than in declaring that the Messiah has come and is coming again?
I'm not trying to harp on your good time. I know surprising the kids Christmas morning is so much fun. Seeing loved ones and sharing gifts and tales is a true gift around the holidays. Unwrapping that new bow or fishing rod you've had your eye on all year can make a grown person weep with joy like a little boy opening a brand-new baseball glove. Christmas is a fun time, but remember why we are celebrating. Remember why we are spreading love and good cheer! It's all because of that little baby born to redeem the world. A baby who was born for a specific purpose: sacrifice and redemption. A Child of Promise who rose again, declaring His victory over death and sin, and as He ascended, promised that He would be returning soon!
Have a truly amazing Christmas! Enjoy time with friends and family. Enjoy giving gifts to those you care about. But most of all, spend time this Christmas season worshiping Jesus. Celebrate His birth, death and resurrection. Join the shepherds, kings, prophets and stars in telling the world that Jesus has come and will be coming again!
Merry Christmas from all of us here at Journal of a Christian Sportsman! May God bless you!
What are some of your favorite Christmas Traditions? Let us know in the comments below!
Though most are excited in anticipation for the holidays, what should we be really looking forward to this time of year? Christmas time reminds us of an anticipation that lasted for thousands of years. In Genesis 3, God promised Adam, Eve and their generations to follow that one day a son of Eve would rise up and defeat evil and sin once and for all. He promised felt effects of the curse, but true, everlasting relief would come through the Promised One. Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise, the Messiah, the Lamb who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
Anticipation is a wonderful thing, it drives us to make good with the time we have, and gives us something to work forward to. One of my recent moments of anticipation was getting ready to take my nephew hunting for his first trip to the woods.
I spent the whole week waiting for the weekend to come. There are few hunting trips that I have looked forward to so much as that one. I honestly can't tell you who was more excited, him or me? Though he spent the weekend before in his full camo-garb, which he said was to, "just test it out."
I couldn't wait! I had been prepping him on shot placement, coached him on his shooting technique all summer, and discussed strategy on waiting for a trophy or the more popular, "brown and down" technique. I prepared our gear, planned our meals, checked on weather conditions, and of course, I told almost everyone I know about the weekend coming up with him. I did everything I could think of to prepare for the moment when the Lord placed a deer in front of us and my nephew pulled the trigger.
Though this is great thing to look forward to, there are greater things to look forward to. And though it is amazing to consider the thousands of years of anticipation wrapped up in the moment of Jesus' birth, how much more we should eagerly anticipate Jesus' return. It's coming, and soon!
What are you doing to prepare for the day? How often do you share your excitement with others? Do you think on it, anticipate it? Have you prepared your heart and embraced Jesus' call to a relationship with Him?
In Jesus' parable in Matthew 25, there are two types of virgins waiting for the Bridegroom to come. There were those who weren't ready, wandered off in search of supplies, and missed the coming for the Bridegroom. Then there were those who had their lamps filled with oil and were ready when the Bridegroom arrived. Are you ready for the Bridegroom to return? Have you done business with the Lord? Are you ready to lay your life down and follow Jesus as Lord? Jesus says, "I am the way, truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me." Is Jesus your Lord and Savior, or are you trying to save yourself by being a good person? Following "good person" path will only cause you to wander further from the Lord in search of substance, which will cause you to miss the arrival of the King! Don't wait any longer.
John 13:34-35 and John 15:12-17
I love the churches I have been a part of, but what has been so confusing over the years is that I could always sense the tension between brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes it was socioeconomic, sometimes it was political, sometimes it was historical. So while I was being taught one truth, I struggled with application because I was seeing something else being lived out. The real trouble was, that when these things were brought up by dear saints in the various congregations, it was always immediately met with “Well as long as there are people, there will be sin, and as long as there is sin, there will be disagreement.”
Now, I hope you understand that I know that’s true. I mean look at what happens when a husband and wife go into a paint store together!
But there is a deeper issue. Modern western culture views the church as religious biggots. Zealots. Weak. Unloving. And certainly not “God-like” in our everyday living. And what’s even more interesting is that only a small percentage of people with this view could draw realistic conclusions based on evidence found within church walls. If this is the case, then it must be reasonable to conclude that the world’s perspective of the church can only be based on individual moments (within the church or outside) where ungodly qualities were demonstrated by professing Christians coupled with the blindness of the sin of the unbeliever.
God wants the world to look at His people and say, “I know they belong to Jesus.” The only way we will be able to overcome the perception of the world concerning the new life we have through Jesus, is to discover God’s concern for what he wants the world to see his church as, and the value he places on it.
God’s Design For the Mark of The Church
Jesus gives a new commandment: John 13:34-35
Jesus is spending his final moments with the remaining eleven Apostles and is giving them some of their most challenging and intimate instruction yet. They were about to face life without Jesus physically present with them and the elephant in the room was “What are we going to do next? How are we going to carry on?”
Jesus’ instruction: Love one another as I have loved you.
This seems remarkably unhelpful doesn’t it? Peter even seems to completely dismiss it in following verses. What he didn't see was that Jesus was giving them a glimpse into God’s larger design for the Church to accurately depict His love to the world by loving one another.
God is concerned with His attribute of love being accurately depicted to the world.
Any time we see the love of God in relation to mankind spoken of in theology, we immediately associate it with God’s giving of himself to us. His love is a sacrificial love. John 15 says “Greater love hath no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus knew the propensity of these men. When their whole world wanted to kill him and all of them, he knew that the temptation would be to pull up camp and vanish. But God’ s plan wouldn’t be thwarted. You see, Jesus also knew that when a human being, particularly a redeemed human being loves, and is loved in return, it is far more difficult to let go and turn tail and run when times get hard.
God wants the world to see his glory and love for his creation, which was such that when things were at their very darkest, he engaged, and he stayed until the fight was won at the cross. He has purposed for the church to be the reflection of that plan to the world.
Christian, God wants you to know that YOU are loved.
God is not a father who lets his children go through life not knowing whether or not he loves them. That’s why he gave us the commandment to “love one another”. The ultimate way he demonstrates his love for us is through his son Jesus dying on the cross, and he propagates that message by telling us to do the same for each other. He wants you to know today that he loves you dearly and that he is still your Heavenly Father who holds your very life in his hands, and nothing will ever cause him to let you go no matter how violent things get.
One of the greatest lies a child of God can believe is that they will feel more loved by looking anywhere but the Word and the church. We must be as concerned with building healthy, loving, and edifying relationships with other believers as God is. John 15 tells us that the very reason we have the fruits of the spirit is so that we CAN love one another within the life of the church! Now let me ask you, how can you exercise the fruits of the spirit that God has given you if you are isolated as a believer?
Questions for Application:
How are you obeying Christ’s command to love other Christians?
How can you improve?
Do you need to take necessary steps to restore a relationship with another believer so that you can be obedient?