Friday, January 30, 2009

Tracking behind Jesus

Whassup, today? There is not alot going around in my mind today. I have awash in bible thinking. You know, reading studying and such.
I got on my horses the other day and froze my toes off. It was fun though trying to refresh my bones memory to what my riding seat was. I wshi I had one of those contraptions in my body like they have in fancy cars. Our buick has it where I can set the seat to my positions, height, angle, lumbar, distance from pedals and all that. Then whenever I get in and use my key it remembers me, by the way I am driver number two (Sharon is always number one), so that when I get in and insert the key and turn it on, the seat automatically goes to where it was when I set it. The mirrors do to. It got sort of aggravating though when someone would borrow my key and change the seat arrangement. Then when I got in the next time it was all screwed up. So I would have to reset it. And golly, I can't remember my passwords, let alone the exact seat position I was in when it got it real comfortable for me. So, I gave up. Now I just leave it where it is at, unless it is way out of whack, and adjust myself to the seat rather than the seat to me. Anyway, I would like to have my body trained to go into the exact position I was in when I had a good seat in the saddle and close connection with the horse. Well, when I got on the other day, it didn't take me long to get back into the swing of the horse. It was refreshing. I adjusted my body several times as I would get it and then lose it and then get it again.
It is like that spiritually with me too. I try to walk with Christ daily (1 John 2:6 "he that says he abides in Christ ought also to walk as He walked."). But I get to traveling in His steps, one foot at a time and lose my balance after a few steps and misstep then get reuprighted and step again. It is a constant exercise in balance and rebalance. I even have trouble walking my deep packed snow trail through the woods to my horse barn. I try to stay in the tracks I already made 'cause it is easier, but can never stay in them perfectly with each stride. I have to keep retracking. But it doesn't stop me from taking the trail. The more I tread the trail the more packed it becomes and the easier it is to walk it. So it is also spiritually for me. I just keep tracking behind Christ and as I develop the trail it gets flatter and easier to walk in His steps. But it takes the prayer and reading, getting the mind of Christ (to you horsemen, feel) so as to know what He would and where He would go next.
So no matter what is happening in your life today- good, bad or ugly, just keep tracking in Jesus steps. You may not get it right most of the time, but keep at it. As you keep tracking with Him your spiritual bones will have memory and fall right into the right place. Piano players, guitar players and other players of instruments call this sort of thing training the fingers to habitually go where they are supposed to. It takes slow, often meticulous practice, but it gets easier as it becomes habit. It's the same with horses. They take to habit. Thank God for habit.

Well have a geat Friday, last one of January.
See Ya!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Not alot going on around here. Just finished another sermon for Sunday on 'integrity.' (Matthew 5:33-37) That is something that seems to be lacking in our world today. I see the new pick for treasury secretary doesn't like to pay his taxes either and unlike the majority of us, didn't. But somehow that gets overlooked when you are a pick of the president. How would you like to get audited and found to have missed a few tax payments. Then look your auditor in the eye and tell him or her your just following the bosses lead. I wonder how that would go over. Ever been asked to cheat on something at school or work? Or to fudge on something you were telling another. Or maybe you embellished a story to make it sound funnier or make yourself look better. Integrity, not a long word but one that is packed with meaning and character that is hard to come by except in the animal world. Did you know that horses don't lie? They tell you exactly what they mean when they mean it. If you are adept enough at reading body language, the set of the head, the cock of an ear or leg, a flick of the tail. All of those things are stuffed with meaning depending on the situation. I know for example that my horse is not going to tell me that he wants to play and then quit on me in the middle of the game. He is not going to kick me and then tell me he didn't mean it. Or give me some lovin' only to head butt me (horses really don't love you.). They are prey animals who operate on instinct. That means that their lives depend on honesty. If they think a prey animal is after them they don't play the wait and see game. They are outta there and if you happen to be on their back, you might or might not be outta there to, depending on whether or not you were hanging on. That means horses always have good reason for doing what they do. Horses don't lie to each other either. They don't play 'cry wolf' games with each other. You have never seen a horse warn the others about a predator and when they run say 'got ya' in horse language. Neither do they play them game of come near me and I won't bite you. Then when the other horse comes near he gets bit. No, if you watch them much you will see that if one horse doesn't want the other horse around they are pretty straight forward about telling them. And if they persist in coming around they know the chance they are taking of getting bit, pawed or kicked.
Which brings me to my point. Our job as humans is to be honest with them and thus teach them to trust. But so often people sneak around their horses to catch them. They trick them with feed or some other treat and then wonder why their relationship with their horse is not what it could be. I mean, how do you react to someone who keeps tricking you into doing something. I think you'd be a little wary of them too. So I don't go into my horses with tricks or sneakiness. I go plain as Jane. I go with lead rope or halter in hand so they can see it. My job is to be completely honest with them. That trickles down to whatever I want them to do -- step a foot over or back, move their hindquarters one way or another. It all has to be clearly communicated to them in a way they understand, no sneakiness, no tricks. Then they get rewarded when they do what I ask.
Integrity! It goes along way in personal relationships with people as well as with horses.
Why not try it today!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Life in the fast lane

Life in the fast lane is a title to an Eagles song. But I don't mean it that way. I have been thinking lately on living life to the fullest extent that you can. The Bible says that if a person has Jesus Christ in his heart he has life. And that he has abundant life. I have been thinking on this over the last few days. I am 50 years old and so I am 50 years into eternity. A believer doesn't get eternal life when he dies. He has it now. So I have eternal life now. That truth seems to me to have all sorts of ramifications. I mean why do we often live in fear. Fear immobilizes you. It keeps you from enjoying life to its fullest. There is a country song that talks about what a man did when he found out he had only months to live. He sang that he rode a bull named 'fu manchu' and sky dived and the like. In other words, he lived! He determined that he was going to suck all the marrow out of life that he could while he had the chance. So why do we as believers often live in fear. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean that we should go out and experience every kind of sin there is. I am talking about doing those things and experiencing those things in your life that are good and right without fear.
In September 2007 I was bucked off a colt I was starting. I had 4 rides on that horse 'Trigger'. And after several bucks, I think I stayed the full 8 seconds, came crashing down on my head between cactus and rocks. The trophy I won was a scar. I climbed back on later and rode the rest of the ride, But fear kept me from really enjoying the rest of my time out there. If I could only grasp this truth I am trying to get across then I would have really enjoyed to the fullest the next week I was there. Instead, I took it easy and tried not to put myself in dangerous positions again. I am not talking about being irresponsible, but think about it. If we understood that we have eternal life now and after death in this body life continues on even more livelier, wouldn't we be willing to do those things and experience those things that we would normally shy away from. If a soldier knew that he would just come back to life if he was killed in combat wouldn't that just embolden him more. I'm reminded of the "Pirates of the Carribean" movies where the pirates are already dead and yet alive and are able to do so much more taking chances they wouldn't normally have done.
There are soldiers who have lived like this: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee to name two who believed they were just as safe in combat as they were asleep in bed at home. Just think of the freedom that gave them to live life to its fullest. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." I know that because I did the puzzle in the latest issue of AARP magazine. Such is true if you ask me. So many times we are kept in by our fears only to miss out on life.
When we get to heaven there are certainly things that we wish we would have done, most likely there will be some things we wish we wouldn't have done. I know that is true of me. But there are things we won't be able to do in heaven that we can only do here, for example, tell others about Jesus Christ. We won't need to there because all will know Him. And certainly life there will be far greater than life here. We will be without all the limitations of life here, time and space, etc.
We spend so much time avoiding things we are afraid to do that we miss the things that we can and should do.
So I am going to ride horses this year, probably even start a few colts. I am going to try to be more conscious of eternal life now so that I can say yes to those things that God intends to bring into my life. Even tell others about the Lord.
If only Moses would have said 'yes' at the burning bush it would have been only him before Pharoah instead of him and Aaron. If Barak had only said 'yes' it would have been him alone who would have led Israel to victory instead of Deborah getting the lions share of the credit. True, in both cases God gets the glory, but God intended for those men to be used. Instead, because of fear, they didn't get to enjoy all God had intended. I don't want to miss out on that in my life. Do you?

On another note, do you know that horses and dogs, probably animals of all kinds, live life in the moment. My horses don't plan ahead, thinking, "I'll bet Jeff is going to come out here this afternoon and disrupt out day of eating, sleeping and . . . ." No! they simply take what comes in the moment. If that moment has me interrupting their daily snooze, well, so be it. That allows them also to not hold a grudge, or be reluctant to get out of the stall that day. If only we could live in the moment and drain all the dregs of life out of it. Wouldn't we be much better for it? No more whimpering and murmurring. Only whistling and singing. Even in this weather of cold and snow, I hear the birds singing, not complaining. I heard on the news a man who survived the plane crash into the Hudson river, say when asked how he felt, "Perfect," he said, "I'm alive!" Wow! What a condensed statement of how all of us should feel today, "Perfect, I'm alive!" That puts everything else into perspective doesn't it?
So let yourself get out in the cold today. Feel the crisp icy wind against your cheeks. Taste the snow, just make sure it isn't yellow. Don't try to lick the flag pole though. Inhale to the fullest the air and feel it rush into your lungs. Your alive. Or if you prefer, sit by the fire and enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and just enjoy the warmth of being alive.

God Bless! and Live!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Be like the Master

Matt. 10:25 "It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master."
That thought jumps out at me because as I was reading today after plowing snow, snowblowing and shoveling for the umpteenth time, I was wondering if Jesus ever had to shovel snow? Now I am presently recovering from the brink of exhaustion with this snow thing. And, as the statement says, I am supposed to be like my teacher, what would Jesus thoughts be about shoveling snow? I am not sure I want to delve into this because I am pretty sure I will have to change my thoughts about it and I really don't want to. Nevertheless, I opened this can of worms, so I better be willing to clean up the mess. I wish Kaity was here, she likes to pick in the worms. :}
First, I guess since the Bible teaches that Jesus was "tempted in all points like as we are," Hebrews 4:15, then it is certain that though He might never have shoveled snow like I have been doing, the wrong thoughts about having to do the labor were sure to have crossed His sinless mind and He would have rejected them with some part of Scripture like Deuteronomy 5:13 "six days you shall labor and do all your work." But of course part of the curse is that we should have to labor in hard work, Gen. 3:17-19. However, though Jesus assuredly labored in carpentry or the normal labors of each day, He did not sin in them. Maybe the 7 dwarfs had it right when they sang "off to work I go" on their way to the mines. Or Snow white as she sang "whistle while you work." It was her wasn't it. Finding joy in the work, because God commands us to work, no matter the mundaneness of the task.
Which leads me to the next thought, Jesus attitude would have been one of Joy in His work. And again He would have faced the temptation to not be joyful with the refrain from Psalm 118:24 "This is the day the Lord has made, I shall rejoice and be glad in it." Thus, choosing joy when tempted to be angry about having to work shoveling snow or the like would be what Jesus would do. Hence, I have to change my thinking. And it has already begun.
This is really put to the test as I look out the window and see it snowing again. This has got to be the harshest winter I have seen in a long time. O the Joy!
Now I want to relate this to horses for a minute. I was dealing with snow yesterday at the barn and decided I would take a 1/2 hour and work with the horses doing some minimal ground exercises just to hone my ability to read their body language and give them them my intentions with my body language. So I grabbed the halter and lead and my training stick and opened the gate, to which they both ran to the other side of the pen. I don't think they thought it was enough for them to be like me/their teacher. O rmaybe they were like me more than I care to think, cause I didn't want to work shoveling snow. So I commenced to tromping calmly through the snow for the next 45 minutes or so trying to get Raven to catch me. Jake by the way eventually went to the stall when he realized I wasn't after him. Now, mind you, I wasn't going to work them hard, just play with them for a few minutes. However, Raven didn't want to play. So she turned what would have been a few minute exercise into a 45 minute or an hour exercise where I walked from one end of the arena through thigh deep snow, until a nice path was wore down, pushing her until she would hook on to me. Four or five times I got her to hook on to me and follow my body language, without restraint, never once put the halter on her, and moved her forward as though leading her, and then to a stop and back a few steps. It was cool and calm while she stayed with me. But she kept wanting to go on her own and so back to work we went. If only she would have read my body language, or, more likely, if I had been better able to communicate through my body language that I was only wanting to work slow and calmly to establish a better feel with her, it wouldn't have taken so long.
I think this is how it is with me and God. He wants to play by getting out the tools and if I would just go along by doing what I am responsible to do with a good attitude and spirit, it wouldn't take nearly as long, and the outcome would be much more agreeable. Hence, I have a lot to learn. And God in His humor is making it snow more so as to make me rejoice more.
How about you? Grab a shovel and start smiling. It really is enough for the student to be like his teacher. That is what Jesus says.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year

Happy New year!

Hope all is well for you. The New year has not come upon us like a thief sneaking around waiting for the most opportune time to catch us napping or out. No! it Has given us fair warning. There were the signs to Wall Drug in South Dakota. You could see it for miles if you were watching. And even if you weren't you most certainly knew it was coming. Right? So what did you do about it? If you know you have company coming you get the house in order, sweeping and swirling around til everything is in its proper place, the dust bunnies in their cages and the dishes swiped and put away, the trash dashed out to the can. So, what have you done about this new year coming? Made a new resolution? A commitment, perhaps, to better yourself in some way? I for one didn't make any new resolutions. I lose steam on them anyway. But I do expect this new year to bring new adventures, new experiences. Last year I read the Bible through chronologically. It was interesting to be reading the book of Kings and in context be directed to the corresponding events in the prophets. It lent itself to a sense of cohesiveness in Scripture. If you are interested in the chronological approach email me and I will get you on course or you can go to the Christian book store and procure your very own Chronological Bible. On the other hand, I also noticed that the Bible was written by authors who were not so committed to chronology as they were to their own purpose for writing the book or letter. I don't mean that their writings were not chronological in their respective writings. But I do mean that there concern was to get across their message more tha nit was to be in keeping with some chronological format. Understanding the chronology of what is happening in Kings or Samuel by also reading the corresponding passages in the prophets or psalms is both fitting and expansive to our understanding of the themes and message of Scripture. It shows unity. However, don't short circuit the value of reading a book of Scripture in its entirety before going on either, or you might miss the point of the book for looking at all the other details.
I think the Bible is one of those take along books that you should be using as you go through life daily. I read books on horsemanship. While they are interesting and informational, they are not the kind I just sit down and read cover to cover, because the information in the next chapter has to be understood through the information of the previous chapter. For example in the book "Horsemanship through feel" the beginning chapter deals with getting softness through feel with a lead rope and halter by asking the horse to lower or bend its head with the slightest amount of pressure. Then it progresses to the next level of asking the horse to move only one foot, but if you don't understand 'feel' in the beginning you will not understand what you are looking for when you ask the horse to move the front right foot with just the slightest, almost unnoticeable, except by the horse, feel. What I am saying is that you really cannot go on to the next chapter or level until you have a good understanding of the previous one or you will completely confuse the horse and yourself and that will most likely make for an unpleasant experience for you.
Can't the same be said about the Bible. It has a beginning and an end. True!. However, jumping into the middle might not be the best. It, I believe was intended to be read from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation so that you get a 'feel' for why things happened later on in the Scripture. Albeit, the fall of Adam in Genesis 3 shows us the need for the birth of the Saviour in Matt. 1 as well as the need for the temptations of Jesus by Satan in Matt. 4 and His crucifixion in Matt. 27 in order to correct Adam's failure recorded in Genesis. Thus, through Jesus we have hope of resurrection because He was raised from the dead. But in between all of that truth is where we live our lives in the mud of the arena of life. So like the horseman's bible kind of books that need to be taken into the round pen and the principles practiced so we need to take the Bible into life's arena with us daily so that we can get our directives and our correctives throughout the day as we practice it's principles.
To help me with that, I use 3x5 cards and a little note book so that I can right down the principles I need to practice with my horse or my person as I live the day. That way I take the the Bible with me.
Why not take yours?

Ths new year, don't make a resolution you are only going to break, take a 3x5 card instead and work on one exercise each day. Just do it!