ADVENTURES, MISSIONS and RETREATS

Reaching and Teaching people about Jesus through Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Adventures.

Category: Devotionals (page 1 of 4)

Why Christmas?

Why Christmas?

I ask myself that every year. Why are we doing this? Guys are on roofs risking life and limb to string lights. People are stressed out and trying to find the perfect something for the person that needs nothing.

Folks that never give Christ or God a second thought pretend to celebrate His birth.

It all makes no sense.

How can this feeding frenzy of materialism that we call Christmas be connected to the birthday celebration of a man that was among the most non-materialistic personalities to walk this planet?

It has to be the most incongruous religious ceremony in history.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for Christmas.

I put up the lights and dress up the tree, and we shower each other with unnecessary presents. I love the celebration. I’m just not sure exactly why we do it.

One day it dawned on me that there are really two Christmases in Christmas.
One is a cherished American holiday tradition. The other is a Christian memorial to a sacred event.

The American holiday tradition is built around materialism and nostalgia.

Nostalgia will tell you that Christmas is here to bring us all together. We attach words and phrases to this holiday in hopes of manufacturing some sort of deeper significance. “Christmas,” we say, “means, ‘Peace on earth. Goodwill to men.’” But those are just words lifted from the shards of the original, echoes of the old true voice of Christmas.

As an American Holiday, Christmas doesn’t bring peace. In fact, it tends to bring more stress.

A recent survey revealed that 45% of Americans would like to skip Christmas altogether because of the financial stress it creates.

Pack an extended family into a house and you can’t even get “Goodwill to kin,” much less “Goodwill to men.”

And yet, here we are. Still doing it because Christmas is a Cherished American Holiday Tradition.

The second celebration is very different. This celebration is a Treasured Christian Sacred Memorial to a historical event we call “the incarnation.”

Christmas remembers that moment in time when God removed his majestic robes, stepped from his glorified position, and squeezed himself into the form of a human being.
With the American Holiday, we tend to find ourselves asking, “Why Christmas?”

But with the Christian Memorial, we are forced once again to remember, “Why Jesus?”

Those two questions seem similar but they are miles apart.
Why Christmas is a head-scratcher. Why do we keep doing this? We like to think its about peace on earth and stuff like that, but truthfully we seem to do it because we’ve always done it.

Why Jesus is less of a question than a statement. It calls us to remember that sacred moment when God put on skin and lived among us. What did that mean? What does it mean now?

Posted by Bill Dye

AMR Private Hunting Lodge Memberships

No Hunting Lease? No Problem….

We offer a Family Friendly Affordable alternative to the traditional hunting lease. Our Lodges are Spouse and Child Friendly with comfortable stands and abundant game. We offer access to 6 different ranches in the Texas Hill Country covering over 15,000 acres. Each with Bed & Breakfast Style Lodging, Stands, Feeders, Whitetails, Exotics, Fishing and much more…Check us out!

Trophy Whitetail or Exotic Hunts

Ready to book a hunt for your family or clients? We have some openings… Let us help you.

Costa Rica Sportsfishing Adventures

All Inclusive, Incredible 5 or 7 Day Affordable Family Friendly and Customer focused Packages. Now booking for Pacific Coast Trips February-March 2018

Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Adventure

Our Summer 2018 schedule will fill up quickly.. get on the calendar now for when it gets hot in the summer, we are cool in the Mountains!

Upland Gamebird Hunting Package

Want a great way to enjoy friends and family? Book an Upland Game Bird hunt with us. Click on the Picture for details.

Want to go on an Adventure, Mission or Retreat but do not see something that interests you?

Contact us.

If you have any questions, please contact

Scott Huggins at 800-277-1647

FacebookTwitterGoogle+WordPressLinkedInRedditShare

My take on Global Warming and other hot-button items…

Ok, so what’s my take on global warming? I don’t know. I’m a pastor, not a scientist. Go ask a scientist. I live in Louisiana. It’s always warm.

I have some opinions about global warming, but they are probably about as well informed as your opinions.

Here’s the thing about opinions: we all have them. Having an opinion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best opinion, or that it’s even a particularly good or even valid opinion. And sadly the validity, or maybe better, the lack of validity, of my opinion rarely keeps me from sharing it.

I wonder if this dissemination of unqualified opinions isn’t a big part of what’s messing everything up?

These days everyone is an “expert” on virtually any subject.

Here’s what happens. Someone brings up a “hot-button” issue and you discuss it with some friends. Nobody really knows what he or she is talking about, but we’ve all read a piece of an article or someone shared an idea on the subject and we took it for true. the topic doesn’t really matter. It could be global warming, or it could be college football.

Until we had this discussion my opinion was somewhat vacuous. As the conversation progresses something strange happens to my opinion. The nebula begins to solidify into a planet. Thirty minutes ago I didn’t really know where I stood on the subject, but now that we are discussing it I’m either persuading or being persuaded to harden my position.

By the end of the discussion, my unqualified thoughts have turned into a “firm opinion.”

And because I might have an overinflated sense of my own intellect, it’s easy for me to think that my “firm opinion” is as good or better than your “firm opinion.” It doesn’t matter what credentials I brought to the discussion, or even how much I really know about the topic. It’s an opinion; it’s my opinion. Don’t mess with my opinion.

Once an opinion is formed it must be disseminated and protected.

I will now fight for my ill-informed half-baked opinion with the same gusto that William Barrett Travis and his band of Texicans defended the Alamo.

This, despite the fact that thirty minutes ago I didn’t even know if I believed my opinion.

What began as a vague idea has forged into a fundamental truth inside my head. It’s my truth. Since my opinion has become truth, if your opinion disagrees with mine then your opinion is clearly wrong. In fact, I’m not sure you even have the right to such a wrong-headed opinion.

The discussion degenerates into an argument. Sides form, lines are drawn, and friends are lost as collective ignorance swirls in the air like shrapnel from a howitzer.

Nobody stops to remember, it’s just an opinion. It might not even be a good one.

Look, have your opinions. Just be aware that you might not always know what you are talking about, and you don’t always have to share it.

Here are two verses to help us:

PROVERBS 18:2 A FOOL DOES NOT DELIGHT IN UNDERSTANDING, BUT ONLY IN REVEALING HIS OWN MIND.
PROVERBS 10:19 WHEN THERE ARE MANY WORDS, TRANSGRESSION IS UNAVOIDABLE, BUT HE WHO RESTRAINS HIS LIPS IS WISE.

 

Posted by BILL DYE

Young Joe

Young Joe

Joe was born with a twisted leg and a crooked foot. He was a smallish boy who quit growing at 5’5”. Like the stand beneath a globe, Joe’s diminutive frame supported a large head . He had a sharp mind. Raised as a Catholic, Joe excelled in school and graduating at the top of his class. In college Joe continue to outstrip his contemporaries until he reached the penultimate academic achievement, a PhD in Literature from one of the most prestigious universities in his country.

During his postgraduate work Joe met and fell in love with a young coed. The breakup sent him spiraling into depression and despair. Sadly, with the world ahead and a PhD in his pocket twenty-three year old Joe became consumed with thoughts of suicide.

Joe’s post academic career never lived up to the promise of college. He tried to write. He taught a little. His attempted novels were all rejected. He wrote a couple of plays. They weren’t published.

To pay for his Romaine Noodle existence Joe was forced to take a job at a bank. He hated it. They fired him. He bounced around, surfed sofas, and drifted in and out of various philosophical ideologies. By now Joe’s love of church was long forgotten. He read Marx and Engels. He fell in love with the writings of Dostoyevsky and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

A biographer said of this time in Joe’s life, “His diaries reflected the writings of a man who was isolated, preoccupied by ‘religious-philosophical’ issues, and lacked a sense of direction.”

Then at the age of twenty-seven Joe met the man that would alter the trajectory of his life. Joe’s new mentor was a failed painter turned politician. Joe quickly realized that this fellow artist not only shared his distrust for the establishment, but also had the courage and charisma to force it to change.

And so in 1924 Joe threw in his lot with his new hero and became member number 8762 of the Nationalist Socialist Party.

Over the next ten years Joe quickly rose through the party ranks and ultimately become the second most powerful man in his country. Together with his idol Joe would eventually help kill six million innocent Jews and drag the world into the most costly war mankind would ever experience.

I don’t think there were ever two men in human history responsible for more suffering than Joseph Goebbels and his insane master Adolf Hitler.

Why do I tell you this?

Here’s the thing. Young Joe was just like every other young Joe. And that’s what scares me.

Evil seldom happens suddenly. The power of ideas fostered and fomented over time shape us into what we ultimately become.

A young clear mind slanted by prejudice and twisted by disappointment ultimately congealed into the darkness that was to be known as Joseph Goebbels. I’m sure he never set out to be infamous. He never intended to be a mass murderer. No, young Joe simply allowed himself to be carried along in the fog of darkness until he found his hope in a mind even more dark and twisted than his own.

If it could happen to Joe, it can happen to us.

2Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,

Guard your heart. Guard your mind.

Posted by BILL DYE

We have openings for family friendly hunting and fishing adventures, from hunting trips, hunting leases and private hunting lodge memberships to fishing trips of all kinds.
If someone you know likes to hunt and fish, please pass along this email to them.

AMR Hunting Lodge Memberships

Trophy Whitetail or Exotic Hunts

Costa Rica Sportsfishing Adventure

Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Adventure

Upland Gamebird Hunting Package

Want to go on a hunting or fishing trip but do not see something that interests you? Contact us.
If you have any questions, please contact
Scott Huggins at 800-277-1647

The Trouble With ISMs

tire fire

Have you noticed lately how many “ISMs” there are? ISMs are everywhere and they are all mad about something.

Socialism is mad at capitalism, nationalism is mad at globalism, conservatism is mad at liberalism, and racism is mad at racism. ISMs are bitterly divided and deeply divisive.

Here’s just one example.

I was watching a documentary on Netflix entitled, “The Red Pill.”

The Red Pill is a feminist’s look at the new men’s movement. The various men’s groups go by a variety of names because they haven’t been able to come up with a good “ISM” name yet. The classic men’s ISMs, “chauvinism” and “machoism” have fallen out of favor. So we’ll call it the “men’s movement” until we can think of something better.

The men’s movement is trying to bring balance to the dominant view of feminism.

Obviously, that’s an unpopular idea to feminism and so the feminists attack it like Allies hitting the beaches at Normandy. That analogy isn’t far off because many within feminism have called the men’s movement Nazi’s and hate groups.

So this young feminist journalist decided to investigate. Turns out these guys aren’t the crazy neo-Nazis she expected, and they have some legitimate points.

I’m paraphrasing their argument but the men’s movement guys basically contend that men get the raw end of the deal in a lot of ways. Men die younger. They tend to be killed more often. They are forced to defend the country, many times against their will. Men have to do the dirty jobs women don’t want to do. And to top it off, when the cruise ship hits the iceberg men aren’t allowed in the lifeboats. It’s always “women and children first.” “Why are women and children more intrinsically valuable than men?” (Their words, not mine).

The real stickler had to do with reproductive rights. Feminists make a huge thing about the woman’s reproductive rights. The men argued that they have absolutely no say in whether or not they become fathers. They even point out that some women have tricked men into becoming unwanted dads.

Sure the baby isn’t in their bodies, but they are at least half responsible for it.

A man can’t control any aspect of reproduction except conception, but if she decides to give birth then that man will spend the next 18 years paying for a child he never intended to have.   Conversely, if he does want the child but she doesn’t well then, he’s out of luck.

And here’s what’s really intense, sometimes the child isn’t even his!

I didn’t know this, but according to the documentary, there are countries in Europe where it is against the law to get a paternity test! Yikes.

Then there is the whole custody thing. Many of the men in the documentary had gone through ugly divorces and effectively lost all contact with their children.

The young feminist doing the documentary was profoundly troubled by what she heard. She interviewed some feminists to buoy her sinking confidence, but when asked about reproductive rights the feminist pundits said, “If he didn’t want to have a baby he should have been more careful.”

The irony is heavy. Those are nearly exactly what the pro-life people have said to feminists for decades.

By the end of the show, the young girl was so moved by what she’d learned that she rejected her own ISM and said, “I don’t know what the answer is but I’m no longer a feminist.”

Stunning.

Still, something bothered me. My son watched it with me and something bothered him too. He said, “Dad, do we really need a man’s group to offset feminism?”

I think he’s right.  Don’t we have enough ISMs already, and haven’t they done enough damage.

It seems to me that all these ISMs are just a smoke screen for the age-old problem of man, selfishness. And this is a selfish age. We all want our way!

What happens when YOUR WAY gets in MY WAY?

How do we construct a civilization that lives together in community when every member of the community wants — no demands — his or her way?

Sooner or later someone will have to yield to the will of the other.

That’s why we have ISMs. ISMs are cluster groups that mobilize around some specific right. And the point is to ensure the members of that particular ISM get their way.

So if you ask any ISM, “Who should sacrifice?” every single ISM will tell you the same thing: “YOU.”

YOU should be the one to sacrifice, not me.  Never me.  Always YOU.

But what happens when YOU won’t do it? Well then, I get really angry with YOU. I shout at YOU and call YOU all sorts of names. I demand that YOU sacrifice and if YOU still won’t do it then I’ll pass laws that ensure YOU are the one that bends to my will.

And so our nation, divided by ISMs, starts to look like one big tire fire.

Jesus came from a completely different angle. When someone asked him, “Who will sacrifice?” He didn’t say “YOU.” He said, “ME.” And then did it.  And now he asks you to follow his lead.

Take a minute and read Philippians 2:1-11 and you’ll see that you don’t need another ISM. If you want to live a more meaningful and joyful life you won’t find it by following an ISM.  You will only find it by following the IAM.

Posted by BILL DYE on 

 

Category: 

Welcome to Adventures Missions and Retreats where for over 25 years we have been helping people find places to hunt and fish. We have combined our talents of Outfitting Adventures with our purpose for reaching and teaching others about Jesus. Join us!

Scott & Staci Huggins – Stewards of Adventures, Missions and Retreats. Texas – New Mexico – Costa Rica 800-277-1647

Adventures - Hunting, Fishing, Outdoors..
AMR Memberships & Subscriptions
Missions - Short Term for Youth, Families and Adults
Retreats - Men's, Women's, Family's and Church Groups
Make Payments Online
Sponsorships Needed

The Secret of Happiness

Posted by BILL DYE on 

happiness 2

The year 2017 will go down as one of the tough ones for America.

Hurricane Harvey was like that crazy uncle who came to visit but just wouldn’t leave. He rolled into Matagorda Bay, hung around Rockport, then left to gather up some more water to dump on Houston and southeast Texas. By the time he was finished the Lone Star state looked like it was trying to impersonate New Orleans. Then Irma blew through the Leeward Islands and set her sights on Florida. It was a near miss that wrecked our nerves.

Meanwhile, a pubescent little dictator playing with his new missiles and atomic weapons dominated the news from Southeast Asia. There are few things more terrifying than a homicidal maniac with his thumb over the button of a thermo-nuclear device.

And then there was Vegas.

It’s been a rough couple of months especially when you sprinkle in a nation divided by acrimonious social activism.

It’s as if 2017 looked down on America and said, “Wipe that smile off your face young man or I’ll wipe it off for you.” Sure enough, it did.

How do we get our smiles back? Where can we go to rediscover authentic lasting happiness?

I don’t want threadbare clichés and tired platitudes. Don’t try to “cheer me up.” There are few things more annoying than someone trying to cheer you up when you are genuinely hurting.

PROVERBS 25:20 LIKE ONE WHO TAKES OFF A GARMENT ON A COLD DAY, OR LIKE VINEGAR ON SODA,
     IS HE WHO SINGS SONGS TO A TROUBLED HEART.

I don’t want to sing songs to troubled hearts. But I would like to learn the secret of singing songs from a troubled heart.

Is it possible to find joy even when our circumstances refuse to allow it?

I did a Google search to find “The Secret of Happiness” and turns out the Internet is filled with suggestions about what will make you happy.

Some advice can be fairly superficial.

One article suggested the following six steps to happiness:

GO OUTSIDE.
SWEAT
PLAY SOME TUNES
SLEEP IN
FOCUS ON PEOPLE
DO SOMETHING NICE

Yeah, there’s probably some truth in there, but I don’t’ think you want to share those pearls of wisdom with the people in Houston.

IMAGINE SAYING TO SOME POOR GUY WITH A HOUSE FULL OF WATER, “GO OUTSIDE, SWEAT A LITTLE, LISTEN TO YOUR TUNES, SLEEP IN, FOCUS ON PEOPLE, AND DO SOMETHING NICE!”

They are likely to drown you in the brackish water that is in their living room.

Other writers are more thoughtful.

Everyone seems to say that happiness isn’t money.

You do know that, right?

Ask the typical person on the street, “Will money make you happy?” Most will tell you, “No.”

When you press them they aren’s sure why they say it.

Maybe its because they’ve heard a lot of friends say it. Or it could be that we all know someone with lots of money that seems genuinely miserable. We also know that whenever we get a little more money the euphoria wears off. Turns out I can outspend whatever I make.

So I’ll say “No, money is not the key to happiness.

But then I spend my life chasing more money. Why is that?

Money won’t buy happiness but not having enough money can be miserable too. So I know that when I don’t have enough it’s a whole lot harder to be happy.

I once heard a comedian say, “Money isn’t the key to happiness but I always felt that if I had enough money I could have the key made.”

Everyone seems to know that another person won’t make us happy.

“Do other people make us happy?”

“No.”

“Why do you say that?”

I think we know ourselves. If we can’t be happy in our own skin then someone else won’t fix that.

Still, it sure does seem harder to maintain a lasting joy when you are alone all the time. If I had more friends I would be less lonely. If I were less lonely I think I’d be more happy.

Everyone seems to know happiness doesn’t come through satisfying longing.

JOHN STUART MILL SAID, “I HAVE LEARNED TO SEEK MY HAPPINESS BY LIMITING MY DESIRES, RATHER THAN IN ATTEMPTING TO SATISFY THEM.”

The odd thing about a longing is that when you feed the craving it grows. Our appetite never says, “Thank you, that’s just enough. I’ll never bother you again.”

Nope, that monster will lie and say its full and then come roaring back for even more next time.

We know that. And yet, we still spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to satiate cravings.

Everyone seems to know that happiness won’t be captured by chasing it.

THOREAU SAID, “HAPPINESS IS LIKE A BUTTERFLY; THE MORE YOU CHASE IT, THE MORE IT WILL ELUDE YOU, BUT IF YOU TURN YOUR ATTENTION TO OTHER THINGS, IT WILL COME AND SIT SOFTLY ON YOUR SHOULDER.”

We seem to know that and yet “The pursuit of happiness” is listed as one of our inalienable rights

As I read through these insights I started to realize that there is a strange contradiction between what we know about happiness and what we do to try to get it.

Ok, we know what won’t produce happiness. But what will?

Two themes seemed to recur through the material I read.

Happiness is somehow tied to FREEDOM

Happiness is somehow tied to CONTENTMENT.

MY MOM USED TO SAY, “THE WEALTHY PERSON IS NOT THE ONE THAT HAS THE MOST, BUT THE ONE THAT NEEDS THE LEAST.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SAID, “CONTENT MAKES POOR MEN RICH; DISCONTENT MAKES RICH MEN POOR.”

When we feel truly free and when we feel content then we can know what real joy feels like.

I was reading through the book of Philippians and noticed that it’s probably the happiest book in the New Testament. The words “joy” and “rejoice” are littered throughout the text.

But here’s the thing. The guy that wrote this letter was falsely imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and at the time of the writing, he was awaiting trial before Emperor Nero, one of the most sinister characters in the history of the world.

The writer of this little letter had no freedom and by every measure we use, he should have had zero contentment.

And yet here is a man filled with happiness.

What’s the deal? Do contentment and freedom have nothing to do with happiness? Or could it be that we’ve missed the bigger question: “Where do I go to find contentment and freedom?”

MAYBE THE SAGE PHILOSOPHERS ARE RIGHT ABOUT CONTENTMENT AND FREEDOM BEING TIED TO HAPPINESS, BUT MAYBE THEY JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR THEM.

Listen to what that ancient prisoner wrote in chapter four of his letter to the Philippians,

4 ALWAYS BE FULL OF JOY IN THE LORD. I SAY IT AGAIN—REJOICE! 5 LET EVERYONE SEE THAT YOU ARE CONSIDERATE IN ALL YOU DO. REMEMBER, THE LORD IS COMING SOON.
6 DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING; INSTEAD, PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. TELL GOD WHAT YOU NEED, AND THANK HIM FOR ALL HE HAS DONE. 7 THEN YOU WILL EXPERIENCE GOD’S PEACE, WHICH EXCEEDS ANYTHING WE CAN UNDERSTAND. HIS PEACE WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS AS YOU LIVE IN CHRIST JESUS.

Now there’s a secret to happiness that few seem willing to consider.

The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil

by Bill Dye

Like you, I’ve been thinking about that shooter in Las Vegas and asking the same questions you are probably asking.

What could cause a man to do that? How much hate must someone have before he comes unhinged?

As I read various takes on this twisted and bitterly sad event I worry that, like most of the times when this sort of thing happens, the point is being completely missed.

A lot of people will say, “Why would God let this happen?”

In some backhanded way, God gets the blame for the most heinous of things.

Let’s settle this. God gives us a choice. I love what C.S. Lewis said. Lewis said that in order for there to be genuine love you must be able to choose love. If I have no choice in love then my love can never be real. Automatronic love isn’t love. So for there to be love there must be choice and in order to have choice there must be options. If I can choose to love God then I must also have the option of choosing to hate him. God doesn’t desire that option but its necessary to have choice.

 

People often say, “Why did God create evil?” as if evil were some commodity like pork bellies. Evil is simply the absence of God. The Bible often compares it to light and darkness. Darkness isn’t a commodity. Darkness is simply the absence of light. When I choose not to love God then I am in fact choosing to love darkness. Evil is the natural byproduct of a wrong choice.

Take our God and you get evil. Don’t blame evil on God. Blame evil on the fall.

At the same time that folks wonder about the goodness of God, they will also try to manufacture some psychological explanation.

We see this already. The shooter’s dad was a bank robber. He grew up in this terrible home. He’s the product of a bad seed in a bad home.

Yeah, that all comes into play. No doubt genetics and environment were involved. But I know a lot of people that grew up in just as bad even worse home situations that don’t kill 59 people and shoot 500 more.

So while the psychological profile might help us it doesn’t answer the question. In fact, this approach can actually mask the problem.

Some will say it’s the result of too many guns.

They will say we need to ban automatic weapons. I may be wrong but I thought automatic weapons were already banned. If that were true then how would banning them have prevented this? The guy that shot all those people owned a banned gun.

Stay with me for a minute and I promise this isn’t a talk about politics or a defense of the second amendment.

This is a talk ABOUT EVIL AND HOW WE RESPOND TO IT.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a gun guy.   I don’t like guns. I don’t like shooting guns. I don’t like being around guns. Guns make me nervous. I own an old shotgun and if you give me some time I might be able to find it somewhere in our house. When I was younger I used to hunt ducks until I killed a wood duck and it’s mate kept circling the pond as her drake lay dying on the water. My friend said, “It’s always hard with wood ducks. They mate for life.”

That was my last duck hunt. I guess I’m just too soft-hearted.

So not being a gun guy I feel fairly objective in this.

I want to drill down on this for just a minute because this anti-gun reaction to gun violence is fairly normal. People tend to make decisions based on emotions instead of facts and sometimes that’s not a good way to form an opinion.

So I dug up some facts. Since 1966 crazed gunmen in mass shootings have killed 947 people. That works out to about 18 per year. And yes, it includes the shooting this week. If you figure the mean average population for America during that 51-year stretch is about 250 million then the percentage possibility of getting killed in a mass shooting is. 000000072% of the population. You are twice as likely to be struck by lightening.

Obviously, 947 people over 51 years is still way too many, but consider that last year over 38,000 died in traffic accidents.

I don’t mean to sound heartless in this, but I think we tend to react with passion and that causes us to miss the point. That’s all I’m trying to say.

Gun-related deaths, (and remember most of this is crime related), in 2016 came to 13,286 including accidental. Nearly 3 times that number died in car wrecks.

I get it, CAR WRECKS ARE accidental and GUN VIOLENCE is intentional. Guns give great power to wicked people. I get that. Again,  I don’t advocate for guns in any way.

I just don’t think the guns were the cause of this.I know a lot of gun guys. I live in the south. This is second amendment country. Many of my friends have concealed carry licenses. Most of the people who own guns will never kill anyone.

I know a lot of “gun guys.” I live in the south. Many of my friends have concealed carry licenses. Most of the people who own guns will never kill anyone.

In fact, in all my years as a southern boy I’ve never known a single person who ever shot or killed anyone.

For me the question isn’t, “What did this guy use to kill people?”  The question is, “Why did this guy kill all those random, innocent people?”

And the only answer I come to is this: HE DID IT BECAUSE HE WAS EVIL AND HE WAS DRIVEN BY EVIL.

If we shift all of the blame to guns we miss the point. There is something deeper in play than the weapons he used.

EVEN IF YOU COULD GET RID OF ALL THE GUNS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD EVIL WOULD STILL FIND A WAY TO HURT PEOPLE. How? I don’t know, maybe by plowing a semi truck through a crowd of people.

I say that because in this sophisticated postmodern naturalistic age we are dismissive of evil. Evil is a magician’s illusion or some cinematic chicanery.

Evil isn’t real. Evil can’t be real because we all know there is no such thing as the spirit and evil is a spiritual thing. Don’t we know that?

And yet here it is, staring down through a broken window from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

How do we look into the face of this much evil and still cling to disbelief? We try to explain it through psychological profiles and the proliferation of firearms.  What if it’s none of that? What if that guy’s actions were just plain old evil, impure and simple?

HERES THE PROBLEM: IF YOU SAY THIS IS A GOD PROBLEM, OR A PERSONALITY PROBLEM, OR AN ENVIRONMENT PROBLEM, OR A GUN PROBLEM THEN YOU MISS WHAT THE PROBLEM REALLY IS.

THIS IS AN EVIL PROBLEM.

What happened in Vegas forces us to admit that evil is alive and well on planet earth. The Bible has said that all along.

Ephesians 5:16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Evil is real and active and doing whatever it can to create as much carnage and chaos as possible. Evil hurts people.

Like you, I read the stories of heartbreak and heroism in that concert arena as bullets flew all around them.   I wonder what I would do? How would I respond? It’s not hard to imagine the terror.

Men threw their bodies over their wives and girlfriends. One man raced between victims dragging and leading them to safety until a bullet struck him in the neck. He survived, but only just. We saw the pictures of the carnage and the lives destroyed. And we wept at the senselessness of it all.

It was all so unnecessary. People were just out to enjoy a concert. Why would this happen?

How could anyone do this to people that he didn’t even know?

That’s just what evil does.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

If he can kill he kills. If he can steal he steals. If he can destroy he destroys.

Evil hurts people. And it doesn’t care who it hurts.

So what do we do with this? How do we respond?

I was talking to a group of men at our monthly men’s luncheon and here’s a list I pulled together.

Seven Habits to Handle Evil

1.    Be aware of evil

When we witness moments like this in Las Vegas we get it. Evil is … well… evil.

What we often fail to understand is that these broken marriages we see daily, this drug addiction we fight in our families, this gambling addiction, this lust and porn, this alienation between sons and fathers, all of that is just as much a product of evil as the crazed gunman on the 32nd floor.  We need to be aware of the presence of evil.

Ephesians 5:16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

2.    Don’t fear evil

We are never given permission to yield to fear even for a second.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

We do not fear evil and we must not fear evil people. If you fear then evil wins. The only one that we are ever encouraged to fear is God himself. And the Bible says when we fear God he protects us from evil.

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life,
     So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

3.    Don’t toy with evil

Evil is like a poison that gets on you and in you. And once it takes root it’s hard to shake. That’s why the Bible says to avoid it at all costs.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 abstain from every form of evil.

In fact, we should train ourselves to hate evil.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

4.    Don’t give back evil for evil

When evil hurts you don’t become evil and feel the need to retaliate in kind.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

5.    Resist evil

Whenever you see evil in any form you should take up the armor of God described in Ephesians 6 and resist it.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

6.    Trust the Lord to be your defense against evil

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

7.    Do what you can to bring evil to the cross

This is why we are here. I really believe that God has left us on this planet to help evil find the cross. I read about the purpose of evil earlier. Its mission is to steal kill and destroy. But I left out the best part.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I CAME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT ABUNDANTLY.

Evil seeks to hurt, but Grace always moves to heal. I suddenly realized, this is why we are still here. Evil is our mission.

WE ARE THE ENEMIES OF EVIL. OUR JOB IS TO ROOT IT OUT AND STRIKE IT WITH THE CRUSHING BLOW OF GRACE.

WE DO THAT EVERY TIME WE WIN SOMEONE TO CHRIST.

If there is a silver lining to this dark moment in Las Vegas it could be that for at least a brief pause Las Vegas, “Sin City,” is re-thinking spiritually.

City leaders called together a meeting and invited pastors to lead in prayer. Who would have ever thought that possible?

Los Angeles Time Newspaper reported this:

Pastor Mike Hatch of Prayer Center Revival Church said Vegas has been known as Sin City.
“The Bible says where sin abounds, grace does much more abound,” he said. “That means, where there’s a lot of sin, there’s a lot of grace.
“Guess what. We have God’s favor in this town.”
They lit 59 candles for the dead and sang praises to God.`

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

The old business guru Peter Drucker said that whenever he was called to consult with a company he would ask the leadership two questions: “What’s your business?”  and “How’s business?”

He said that he asked the first question because sometimes leadership forgets the purpose of their business.  They get sidetracked and lose focus.  So he starts by trying to clarify the company objectives.

Peters and Waterman shared a similar concern in their fine work, In search of Excellence.  They called it, “Sticking to the knitting.”  The writers point out that back in the 70’s and 80’s conglomeration became the rage and many good companies saw their fortunes crumble through poor acquisitions.  The problem was, they got into business that they didn’t understand.  Westinghouse went into aircraft engines, RCA tried computers, and Exxon tried their hand at telecommunications.

Peter’s and Waterman quoted an article  from Business Week concerning the problems of Ling-Temco-Vault.  Most today have never heard of LTV.  I remembered that company because my dad had stock in LTV and every morning at breakfast he would check the stocks in the Wall Street Journal, and boast about his latest windfall with LTV. LTV was a great company in the 1960’s.

So what happened?  Ling-Temco-Vault started as an electronics and aviation company.  Then it went into the steel business.  Then it bought a meatpacking consortium that included sporting goods.  By the time the conglomerate had finished expanding it comprised 33 companies employing 29,000 and producing 15,000 different products.

Peters and Waterman wrote:

“Jimmy Ling was down in Washington appearing before an anti-trust committee describing why conglomerates were not in restraint of trade. He put up a chart that said, “How many people in LTV (then Ling-Temco-Vault) know the steel business?” He had just bought Jones and Laughlin. The answer? A big red zero was the next chart in his presentation. I bet today Jimmy Ling wishes the answer to that hadn’t been zero, because when Jones and Laughlin went down, Ling lost control of LTV”[1]

In July of 1986 this company that was worth $3.6 billion in 1969 ($23.3 billion in today’s dollars), was in bankruptcy.  The final asset, “LTV Steel,” liquidated in a second bankruptcy in 2000.

What happened?  In simple language, they took their eye off the ball. They forgot why they were in business.

If you plan to stay in business then you’d better know what business you are in.

Church isn’t a business but like those international conglomerates we too can forget why we exist.

Years ago I read the story of some guys traveling through the southern United States.  It was lunchtime and they were hungry so they started looking for a restaurant.  They stumbled across a greasy spoon with an odd name, “The Church of God Grill.”  Curious, they phoned in an order and asked for an explanation.  The cashier told them that it was originally a church but finances were tight so they started selling burgers and things to help make up the difference.  The burger business took off, but the church kept on declining.  Eventually they dropped the church all together and today it’s just a grill.

What’s your business?

No, we aren’t a business, but I still think we need to ask this question.  Why are you here?  What purpose do you serve?

Sometimes churches forget who they are and gradually morph into something God never intended.  I’ve seen churches start acting like a country club.  The focus turns inward, and while they may not say it, they certainly live by the unwritten credo, “Membership has its privileges.”  Some churches turn into shrines.  The key mantra is, “Don’t mess anything up.” Churches can become academies of learning. “Forget about the lost, we’re here to study the Bible.”  Some churches become strange self-help centers.  Some are like giant pep rallies.  Some churches feel like political conventions.

It seems as if there are countless ways for churches to take their eye off the ball.

So what’s your business?  If the Lord were to walk into your church and ask that question what would you say?  It’s really not a hard question because Jesus defined our purpose in Matthew 28:19-20:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit ,teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The church exists to tell the world about the beautiful grace of Jesus. When you think about it, church is one of the only institutions in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.

That’s our business.  So… how’s business?

On The Road to Bethlehem

On The Road to Bethlehem

by Bill Dye

We all know that the Christmas story is the greatest story ever told.  But what do you figure it was like from Mary and Joseph’s perspective?  I mean, what did it feel like in the moment?  I have a hunch that the greatest story ever told started out like the worst day of Mary and Joseph’s life.

First they had to deal with the rumor mill.  The whole town of Nazareth buzzed with the scandal of an unexpected pre-wedding pregnancy.  And now they are on this ridiculous ninety-mile walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Think about it.  She’s nine months pregnant!  You have to know that Joseph went down to the Tax Office and pleaded his case with the indifferent bureaucrats.

I can just see her seated behind the glass window with a sign that says, “Take a number and wait to be called.”

Three hours later Joseph is still sitting in the mush pot fumbling with an odd shaped piece of paper that says, “83” when he hears, “Number 83 window six.”

Joseph hands her the number and pleads his case, “We can’t go to Bethlehem now!  My fiancé is nine months pregnant!”

An accusing eyebrow rises above the horn-rimmed glasses.

“Fiancé?”

“What difference does that make?” Joseph protests, “She’s a human being.  She’s nine months pregnant and she can’t walk 90 miles right now?”

“Better build a cart or buy a donkey. NO EXCEPTIONS!  NEXT!”

If you are traveling ninety miles on foot with a female that’s nine month’s pregnant I can assure you that you had no choice.

This is tough stuff.  And the whole way you are wondering why?

In hindsight we know why they were on that road.  There were at least three strong reasons.

First, it was prophecy

Micah 5:2 predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

This prophecy was uttered 700 years before Jesus was born.  700 years.  That would be like someone writing something in 1315 about what will happen today.

What was even happening in 1315?  1315 is 177 years BEFORE COLUMBUS DISCOVERED AMERICA!  THE DISTANCE BETWEEN MICAH 5:2 AND THE NATIVITY WAS MASSIVE.  Nobody even remembered it.

Matthew 2 tells us that when the wise men arrived in Jerusalem looking for the King the Jewish leaders had to pull together the historians and scholars and try to figure it out.  Someone finally came up with the answer and quoted Micah 5:2. The next thing you know the Wise Men were headed to Bethlehem.

So what?  So… I think its fair to say that Joseph and Mary had NO IDEA why it was important for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem!  NONE.  That was a forgotten 700-year-old prophecy.

But God doesn’t forget a thing like that.  He put it there to validate the authenticity of Jesus’ Messianic claim.

Second, it was promised

David was born in Bethlehem. God said that the Messiah would come through David’s lineage.

Third, it was pictured

This is just a bit of icing on the cake. Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  Of course theBread of Life would be born in the House of Bread.

Why were they on that road?  God wanted that baby to be born in Bethlehem.

So yeah it makes perfect sense to us standing with Bible in hand and looking back over two thousand years of history.  But in the moment they couldn’t have known all of that.

For them it was just another major hurdle in a decidedly inconvenient heavenly scheme that made no sense at all.

Maybe that’s where you are right now.  Perhaps you are on your own road to Bethlehem and God’s wonderful plan for your life makes about as much sense as a heavily pregnant woman walking ninety miles to the delivery room.

Here’s what we must remember.  God seldom does one thing at a time. The story is always multifaceted and in the moment you can’t see any of that.

Yes, in the end it might turn out to be the greatest story ever told, but in the moment it’s the worst day of your life.

How do we survive on the road to Bethlehem?

This is where faith comes in.  Faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

Walking by faith means that when the way is unclear and you can’t understand God’s purpose you trust his goodness.

It worked for Mary and Joseph.  It will work for you too.

Read Proverbs 3:5-6.

Making Sense of Christmas

Posted

christmas tree

I love the old comic strip Calvin and Hobbs.

Calvin is in an overstuffed chair, his back to the reader. The TV is bouncing wildly on the stand. Calvin is mesmerized. Calvin’s dad is behind him looking over his shoulder at the Television and Calvin says,

“Oh look, Yet another Christmas TV special. How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by Cola, Fast Food, and Beer Conglomerates. Who’d’ have ever guessed product consumption, popular entertainment and spirituality would mix so harmoniously, it’s a beautiful world, all right.”

After his dad leaves the room, Calvin, without ever looking up from the set says,

“Dad doesn’t handle the season’s stress very gracefully.”

Bill Watterson, the creator of the strip, made an excellent point. Consumerism, entertainment and spirituality really are odd companions.

In fact, when you back up and look at it with cool skepticism, the whole thing is . . .well sort of odd.

For example, why do we drag a dead tree into the house and hang gaudy things all over it?  What in the world does that have to do with the birth of Christ?

Imagine a stranger from another land visits your house at Christmas. “Why are you doing that?” he asks.   “We are celebrating Christ.” “Oh, who is that?” “He’s the son of God.” “I see,” he says, “your god is a tree.” “Well, no.” “Then he was born in a tree?” “Not exactly.” “Born in a forest?” “No,” you reply, “a stable.” Was it a forested country?”   “Actually it was semi-desert.” By now he’s really confused, “So was it a wooden house?” “No, probably a sort of cave.” “Any trees in the stable?” “I seriously doubt it. Mostly cows sheep and goats.”

“So why the tree? Uh, . . . I don’t know.” For that matter, why the lights? Why are we climbing roofs, risking life and limb to string  lights that don’t work? I don’t know. But it’s what we do.

And I’m not saying we shouldn’t. I love everything we do. I’m just concerned that the real purpose for the party is being lost in the celebration. Jesus is the reason for this season.

Without Christ Christmas doesn’t make sense.

Let me suggest two things that will help to keep the purpose in your Christmas preparations.

First, don’t allow the busy preparations to keep you from His quiet presence.

Second, in preparing for Christmas don’t allow your material passions to overshadow His spiritual purpose.

Winds of Change

1970_Oldsmobile_Delta_88_front

We were standing outside the showroom of Brooks Oldsmobile in Denison, Texas waiting for dad to finish the paperwork. My father had just purchased the first new car the Dye family had ever owned. It was a 1969 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale. Dad splurged on the “Royale.“ I don’t know if we pronounced it right but in north Texas vernacular we called it “Roy – Al,” so as not to be confused with English nobility. This wasn’t a Delta 88 Royal. It was a Roy-Al. The name had a decidedly Spanish flair and it meant, “fully loaded.”

Dad’s new car was a light blue two-door beauty with a white vinyl top and a 455-rocket v8. We had arrived. In 1969, Oldsmobile was the symbol of upper middle class America status. The creme de la crème. Nobody wanted to drive one of those cheap Japanese brands. This was America, “Made in America” was the envy of the world.

Then came the Arab oil embargo of the early 70’s. Full size was out. Economy was in. Japan had taken a page from our book and discovered the benefits of quality control. Next thing you know, brands like Honda and Toyota are setting industry standards for excellence. But like an old brontosaur, Oldsmobile continued to rock along, oblivious to the winds of change.

Magazines like “Car and Driver” and “Road and Track” routinely hammered Oldsmobile’s bland production line and antiquated engineering. Still, Oldsmobile refused to listen. Why should they. They were the envy of the upper middle class, right?

Meanwhile, Toyota introduced a new luxury brand called Lexus. Honda soon followed with Acura. Nissan, known more for sports cars, expanded and refined her lineup with the flagship Maxima.

Oldsmobile barely noticed. They had the mid-size staple called Cutlass. Why would anybody want an Accord or Camry when for a little more you could get a Cutlass? The Cutlass brand was so popular that Oldsmobile started tagging almost every new car with some form of the name. There was the Cutlass S, the Cutlass Brougham, the Cutlass Supreme, the Cutlass Calais, the Cutlass Ciera, and even a station wagon named the Cutlass Cruiser. If a person didn’t know any better he might think that the design teams of that venerable institution were running low on creativity.

For the conspicuous consumer of the 1980’s that wanted more than a Cutlass, Olds still offered those upper-end behemoths, the Deltas 88 and 98. How could they be afraid of the Japanese; Lexus and Acura didn’t have anything that weighed three tons!

The world was changing but Oldsmobile wasn’t. A new generation of drivers that didn’t share my father’s affinity for the brand came of age. By the early 90’s Oldsmobiles had started to gather dust in the showrooms.

Someone at General Motors finally pushed the panic button, and sometime in the late 1990’s Oldsmobile tried to awaken from the stupor. They buried the Cutlass moniker and trotted out a whole new line of cars.

In order to emphasize the “New” Oldsmobile (I know its oxymoronic), the marketers came up with a strange new jingle, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile!”   Unfortunately, by then it was too late.   Oldsmobile, that venerable staple of the middle class American dream, had died and it didn’t even know it yet.

A few years later, GM announced it was ending the brand. Nobody seemed to care. I was glad that dad wasn’t around to see it.

I was thinking about dad’s old Delta 88 Royale as I drove past some crumbling churches in our area. The thought suddenly came to me, “Churches can be like car companies you know.”

Older posts
%d bloggers like this: