Monday, August 11, 2014

August 10, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . Wildfire (NCPTT.NPS)
Bible Study Verses
 II Peter 3:12-14 
While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [ material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide. So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]. (Amplified)

Moonlit nights and campfires are one of the best parts of the hunt. I remember a fall turkey hunt, sitting around the campfire on one of those moonlit nights, talking with my son until 2 AM. We were talking about the future, his future; and at that moment in his life, it seemed very uncertain.

Uncertainty in our lives can breed fear and loss of hope, if we let it. As I recall that time, some 18 years later, things have turned out very good. I have a son in whom I am very proud, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a very beautiful granddaughter. All of that worry for nothing, like the sparks that flew up from the fire into the night sky, only to disappear.
(Byron S)

Action Point
Titus 2:13 tells us to look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. Jesus is our Hope. He tells us not to worry, but rather, to lay our burdens on Him. In Proverbs 16:3 He says, "Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed," (Amplified).

So, why do we worry over what tomorrow will bring? Instead, let's put all our faith and trust in Him who is faithful, and then watch--be amazed--at what the future holds. Read your Bible every day and let His light shine on your future.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Always make sure to carry something in your pack to start a fire. Waterproof matches in a sealed container and propane lighter are good choices.

Another tip for making a fire: Put sawdust in the sections of an egg carton; pour paraffin over the sawdust, break the sections apart and put them in baggies. These will start a fire when it's wet. A hot fire feels so good when you get soaked in the rain.

January  , 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . May He Find Each Of Us As Grapes In The Wilderness, Ready To Turn Loose Of The Vine That Gives Earthly Life So That We Can Abide [n The Vine  (EPA.GOV
Bible Study Verse
Hosea 9:10
"I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; they became an abomination like the thing they loved. (NKJV)

Wild blackberries are one of my favorite outdoor foods. They're not nearly as seedy as the hybrid garden-variety berry, and they're much sweeter. I know of several places where blackberries grow wild. This gives me an additional incentive to hike or fish in those areas. Because I know where to look and when they're in season, I know I'll find them when they're ripe and ready to harvest.

God knew exactly where Israel was, too; not only where they were in the wilderness, but also where they were in relationship with Him. And He "found" them and made them His people. The message here is not so much about His searching, since He knows where everyone is; but about His delight in "finding" people who desire Him to be Lord. 

Likewise, He knows where we are in our relationship with Him. If we're without Jesus as Lord of our lives, then we're not ready for the final harvest. When God finds us by His word of truth, we become a kind of first fruits of His creatures, just as Israel was before Jesus came (James 1:18), we become children of the living God. May He find each of us as grapes in the wilderness, ready to turn loose of the vine that gives earthly life so that we can abide in the Vine Who gives eternal life. Read John 15:1. 
(Don H)

Action Point
Even as Christians, we experience highs and lows in life. Sin, wrong choices, or just the heavy weight of daily living can cause our sweet, ripened life to be bitter and unsavory. (Kingdom terms, of course) 

Think of how you will look to God if He should suddenly find you in any of these situations. Remember, He already knows where you are in your relationship with Him. It's a matter of how much you want to be like Jesus every moment of every day. In your daily prayer time, pray to be more and more like Him.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
When picking wild blackberries, also pick some leaves. They make a soothing warm drink when dried, crushed and steeped like tea. As with any wild harvest, be sure to wash them thoroughly.

August 8,  2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . I Took Some Time Off, Refocused, Relaxed and Waited Patiently  (Will D)
Bible Study Verses
Daniel 10:12-13
Then he continued, "Do not be afraid,  Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble  yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (NIV)

When I first gave my life to Christ, I had many questions. I read the Bible and prayed earnestly to God for revelation; and He was there, answering with speed and clarity. 

However, I went through a time where I did not know if God was hearing me at all. Often I would ask, "Are you there, God?" I remember growing anxious, even impatient. 

Daniel had a great concern. His people had become complacent and content in their Babylonian captivity and subsequent lifestyle. But, Daniel didn't lose patience. He "set his mind" (focused intently), humbled himself, fasted and prayed for them for three weeks! This scripture reveals an amazing insight into the heavenly realm of spiritual warfare. Although delayed, the angel assured him his prayer was heard while a touch restored Daniel's strength (see verse 18).

At the beginning of this deer season, I saw a beautiful ten-point well before shooting time. I watched him ease away in the bright full-moon twilight. For several weeks and countless hours, I hunted that buck. I grew impatient and started to question my spot, my abilities, my gun, etc. The questioning made me realize that I was placing too much of my time, thoughts, and energy on that one animal. I took some time off, refocused, relaxed and waited - patiently. Shortly thereafter, God rewarded me with a nice eight-point. 
(Will D)

Action Point
As I continue my walk and grow in my relationship with God, I have learned the importance of a patient prayer-filled life. Colossians 4:2 reminds us, "Devote yourselves to prayer,  being watchful and thankful." Be patient. Watch and wait for the Lord. He hears our prayers and will answer them because His love for us is unfailing. He will give us strength when nothing else can or will.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Deer trails often skirt open areas, parallel creeks and rivers, or follow the contours of hills. When setting up a stand, look for trails that deer naturally use to travel from one habitat type to another. Have confidence in your spot.

August 7, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . If You Miss A Day, Don't Beat Yourself Up Just Get Back After It Tomorrow. God Is Waiting  (Jack M)
Bible Study Verse
I Timothy 4:8
For the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (HCSB)

Exercise to prepare for the upcoming seasons. The days afield in pursuit of our favorite quarry are here or near. We plan, we prepare, and we perform the tasks necessary to succeed. We invest large amounts of time, effort and money in our avocations, as well as in our equipment. If we are smart, we begin to work out to get in shape. We make sure our hunting partners are in shape too, especially the dogs that we appreciate and enjoy. They must be refreshed in their training and given adequate time to be physically ready for their challenges.

As men of God, we must understand that godliness requires spiritual exercise just as physical fitness requires physical exertion. Let's prepare for what is truly important - eternity; and not forget that which also has benefit now.
(Jack M)

Action Point
Make daily spiritual exercise a priority. Discipline yourself to be in the Word of God and in prayer. Write a daily quiet time into your schedule.

If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up; just get back after it tomorrow. God is waiting, and He will satisfy your soul, and strengthen you as you exercise the privilege of His presence.

Include physical exercise and a proper diet as a spiritual discipline. If you do, you will be better prepared to enjoy God's blessing of the outdoors.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Prepare physically for the days ahead. Make sure you are in shape. Exercise ahead of that hunting trip. Have a physical by your doctor. Make sure your dogs are in shape too. Take them to the vet. Make sure all of their immunizations are up to date, and their health is good. Exercise them daily. It will make the days afield far more enjoyable and profitable. 

August 6, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . Friendly Local Game Warden  (MQ)
Bible Study Verse
John 4:29
"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?" (HCSB)

What a sobering thought. There is someone who can tell you everything you have ever done. Psalm 139:7 asks, "Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?" (HCSB).

As a hunter, I have been tempted by others to violate game laws. I have been told, "Don't worry, no one will know." 

I have also been approached by game rangers who have been watching the area I was hunting. These have been positive contacts for me. 

For some hunters, it may not be positive. The fact that someone could tell them what they had done may result in a citation for violating the law. 
(Ernie W)

Action Point
Read Psalm 139. Every moment of every day God is watching us. This isn't something that should scare us. It should comfort us. God created us and knows everything about us. The Samaritan woman in John 4 understood that Jesus was interested in her and cared about her. She went to tell others about the Man, "Who told me everything I ever did," (HCSB). 

Use this knowledge while making choices during the day. Ask God to give you the wisdom to make choices that are honoring to Him.
Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Look for opportunities to have contact with game rangers. The ones I know are more than happy to share information about the hunting units for which they are responsible.

August 5, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . As We Go About Our Day Today, Let's See Who God Has Put In Our Lives To "Build Up"  (NPS)
Bible Study Verses
Romans 15:1-2
Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength,  and not to please ourselves.  Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (HCSB)

As firefighters, we respond not only to fire calls but also to medical calls. In fact, as with most fire departments around the country, the majority of our calls are medical in nature; and so we encounter a wide variety of persons with medical needs. These include the very wealthy in million-dollar homes, as well as the mentally ill who set up their condominium living behind a dumpster. 

At times, it may be difficult to be kind to a person who has not bathed in three months, has the mind of an eight-year old, is covered with lice, and with sores that we call meth bites. (Methamphetamine users often hallucinate that they have bugs under their skin and will try to dig them out with fingers, sticks, tools, etc., leaving sores about their whole body.) 

It may also be difficult for us firefighters to maintain mature behavior in these circumstances. Nevertheless, we strive to treat every person as our customer, regardless of their condition, and meet whatever needs he or she may have. 
(Brett M)

Action Point
Although this is an extreme example of someone "without strength," you and I come upon them every day. I believe that when Paul speaks of "we", he is talking about Christians. We are to be the "strong" in Christ. When we encounter someone "without strength," a homeless person, a friend who needs encouragement, or an unbeliever in need of salvation, we have more than a suggestion from the Word to help them; we have an obligation.

As we go about our day today, let's see who God has put in our lives to "build up."

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Next time you're out in the field and see someone with a fresh harvest, stop by their camp to see if they need help. Successful hunters often may provide insight as to where the game you are hunting might be found.

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . .  When In The Middle Of The Rapids Keep Your Eyes On God  (Travis L)
Bible Study Verse
Psalm 23: 2-4
He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk  through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.  (NLT)

We were rafting down the Jacques-Cartier River in Quebec last year as a family. This river contains various "classes" of rapids in it. Being our maiden voyage rafting, we did a section of the river that wasn't too difficult. 

Our first section of rapids still ended up being a bit rough though! We hadn't refined our turning skills, and half-way through the rapids, we got seriously stuck on a rock. We tried shifting our weight; we each tried jumping up and down (pop-corning) to jar us loose, and we pushed off the rock with our paddles with everything we had. Somehow we got off the rock, but it was a little hairy. 

The current was so swift, that we just didn't seem to be able to maneuver fast enough for what was coming at us. As the trip went on though, the rapids felt slower than the first set and we were able to navigate them much better than before. The speed of the current didn't change, but our ability to recognize what was happening and what to do about it was much sharper than earlier in the trip.
(Dave M)

Action Point
Life certainly has its way of throwing turmoil at us. We can be cruising along in peaceful waters and all of a sudden, everything seems rocky. I don't know about you, but I have witnessed some amazing people in very difficult circumstances. Whether they were dealing with cancer, the death of a spouse, a problem with their house . . . they were able to walk through their adversity with an amazing level of peace and patience. I've also witnessed others who have gone through similar experiences, yet their problems seemed to be absolutely overwhelming and despair overtook them, resulting in anger and bitterness. 

What's the difference? Faith in God. Everyone will have trials and adversity to deal with in life. But those who put their trust in God, will find peace in the middle of the problems. Knowing that God is in complete control of every aspect of my or your life provides great comfort! It allows the current to slow down a bit, so that we can get our bearings straight while still being in what others may perceive as a torrent. God doesn't take us out of the current; He just goes through it with us . . . and that makes all the difference in the world! 

If you are stuck in the middle of the rapids right now, keep your eyes on God - He will guide you through!

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
When rafting through rapids, always look for the "V" in the river and go straight to the middle of the "V". That will be your best route through.  

August 3, 2014   
Today's Photograph . . . . You Eat What You Harvest (MQ)
Bible Study Verse
Proverbs 12:27
The lazy do not roast  any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt. (NIV)

God truly has provided us sportsmen with a bounty of game animals. They are and should be treated as a precious gift, a privilege to hunt. Early on, I was taught, "You eat what you harvest." As a father, I made sure that I passed those same words on to my son. 

I can still remember my grandmother helping my dad and me clean and package our deer meat. My grandmother was a farm girl. Her family ate what they raised and grew. She painstakingly cleaned the carcass with a vinegar-water mixture to remove all foreign matter, hair, and dried blood. The game we package after cleaning with this method always smells good and tastes great when prepared. 
(Byron S)

Action Point
We are expected to be good stewards of God's awesome creation, not lazy and slothful hunters. From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, man was given dominion over the animals. In order to continue our hunting privileges, our stewardship of God's creation is very important. Our diligence in this is not an option. It is a command.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Try cleaning the game you harvest with a solution of one cup of vinegar to one half gallon of water. It loosens up dried crusty blood, hard-to-remove hair, and foreign matter.

August 2, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . AZ Waterhole (MQ)
Bible Study Verse
Ezekiel 3:17
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman  for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me." (NIV)

While I was sitting at a watering hole a while back, I heard rustling in the bushes on the other side of the water. Moments later, a very nice buck poked his head out from the trees and looked around. Slowly, he emerged from the trees, extremely cautious about every move. Eventually, he came down to the water to drink and ended up a mere fifteen yards from me. (Of course I was hunting elk). 

The entire time I watched him from my blind, he appeared very alert and on edge. After several minutes, a much older buck stepped out from the same area in the trees and came down to water. The first buck then seemed somewhat more relaxed, but very submissive to the older buck and still keeping watch while they drank. 
(Brett M)

Action Point
A watchman in Ezekiel's time would stand guard on the wall of the city and warn of impending danger. God called Ezekiel to be a watchman for God's people and to warn them of God's coming judgment. 

As Ezekiel was a watchman for the Jews and this younger buck was a watchman for the older buck, so should we be watchmen for God's children. Sometimes I find myself witnessing to others, spreading the great news about God's salvation, but omitting the ugly side of sin and death. 

This verse helps to serve as a reminder that, in addition to sharing the greatness of God's salvation, we may also need to warn others of the consequences of denying what He offers to us.

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
While sitting in a blind, be prepared for a visit from animals other than those you are hunting. Take along a camera. You might find that these experiences are just as memorable as your harvest.

August 1, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . It Only Takes One (GB)
Bible Study Verse
Luke 15:7
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (NIV)

One of my true outdoor passions is surf fishing. Oddly enough, I live in Kentucky, so I only get to fish the surf twice a year during my family vacation. 

A few years ago, I experienced a horrible week of fishing at the beach. For the first couple of days, I only caught small fish or "junk" fish. Then bad weather moved in for four days. We had horrible wind and rain. So, I could not fish at all. It was a terribly disappointing week. 

Then, at last, the weather broke on our last day of vacation. I fished the entire day, but still there was no action. I finally gave up and started throwing my leftover bait to the birds. Suddenly, I saw my large cut-bait rig give a jerk and begin to rock forward in its tube. I grabbed the rod and pulled - a fish was on! I slowly started to work the fish. It was a big one and I was excited. 

A few minutes later, I landed a beautiful 32-inch, 12-pound redfish. It was the first redfish I'd ever caught. I was dancing and celebrating on the beach as I held that incredible fish! My daughter took pictures and shot video as I carefully weighed and measured the fish, then resuscitated and released it back into the sea. A replica mount of that fish now hangs on my study wall. It serves as a vivid reminder that it only takes one "catch" to change a really bad fishing trip into the fishing trip of a lifetime. 
(George B)

Action Point
Often, we can become very discouraged as we witness and share our faith - so few seem to be interested, and fewer still seem to respond. But it only takes one "catch", one soul who turns from death to life in Christ, to begin a heavenly celebration! So, keep fishing!

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
Surf fishing is a fun, easy, inexpensive way for the outdoorsman to enjoy a trip to the beach. Before you fish, be sure to stop by the local bait and tackle shop to pick up a guide for fish identification and a copy of the saltwater regulations for that state. Most states have very detailed harvest regulations for each species. Follow them to the letter. If you have trouble identifying a fish, take a picture and release your catch.

July 31, 2014   

Today's Photograph . . . . Upon Emerging From A Brief State Of Selfishness  (MQ)
Bible Study Verse
"For even the Son of Man  did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life-a ransom for many."  (HCSB)

On one occasion years ago, when I had taken my son deer hunting, we were on the tail end of a weekend junior's hunt. After we had eaten lunch, rested, and prepared for the final evening of the hunt, a woman drove into our camp and told us that a man with a new Jeep had gotten stuck on the top of a nearby mountain. It was late in the afternoon; she was going for help and asking if we could drive our ATVs to the top of the mountain to help the man. Many thoughts rushed through my mind:
  • "This was the final evening of my son's first buck hunt."
  • "They shouldn't sell Jeeps to people who do not know how to drive them."
  • "If he is stuck now, he will still be there in the morning; I can go help him then." 
Upon emerging from this brief state of selfishness, and after my wife patted the tears from my eyes, my son and I drove to the top of the mountain and helped the man back on his, not so straight- and very-narrow-road home. (It was an ATV trail he got stuck on.) 
(Brett M)

Action Point
Serving others sometimes can be a sacrifice. We all have times in our lives when we are asked by God to serve someone else. Unfortunately, those times rarely seem to fit into our plans. If they fit into our schedule, they would not be a sacrifice. 

God did not need my help to get that man's Jeep from the top of the mountain. God was perfectly capable of doing it Himself. What God wanted was to teach me to be willing to sacrifice my priorities to serve someone else. In addition, he wanted my son to see his father's willingness (after a minor tantrum and many tears) to be Christ-like. God wants us to serve others as Jesus did - with a joyful heart and mind. If God was willing to sacrifice his own Son for us, how can we not be willing to serve others?

Sportsmen's Tip of the Day
When traveling in the back country, plan ahead. You may get stuck. Always remember to take a shovel, high lift jack, GPS or topo maps. and a cellular phone.