En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Lost in the Woods

Posted by Scott on November 30, 2009

Lost in the woods: An adventure of two old cowboys searching for lost calves!

It was the spring time of the year when Harold and I were working cattle for days without much sleep. Our job was to move over four hundred head of cows, calves, and bulls from one section of pasture to another which happened to be on the other side of the canyon. The distance between these two pastures was over thirty miles. Harold and I along with about fifteen other hired hands could move these “beeves” about 15 miles a day.  It could be dusty, wet, and sometimes sleepless, most of the time a thankless job. This particular morning it was briskly cold. A sharp chill would cut right through my jacket which seemed to pierce my skin going directly into my bones. At times the chill seemed to get into my blood stream and would make me shiver from my head to my toes. I shouted to Harold, “I can’t get warmed up this morning. I wish that north wind would calm down.” I spotted in the camp hot tar black coffee on the fire and I thought to myself, “That will warm me up for the long day ahead”. You see, a cowboy almost has coffee running through his veins rather than blood. We live off of coffee in order to stay awake, alert, and when it is cold, it provides warmth for our soul.

The pastures we were working were in the valley down below the Sunhill Mountain range in southwestern Colorado. You could travel through hot ninety degree days in the valleys and enter thirty degree nights in the mountain area. Great area to run cattle, but the weather could change on you within minutes it seemed. Mr. Garret owned this cattle ranch called “Running Bar Ranch” and the ranch has been in his family for three generations. So, we all took great pride in tending to Mr. Garret’s cattle.

It was Harold and I’s job to see to it that every single cow, calf, and bull made it safely to the next pasture. We did not leave one calf behind if it was at all possible. Leaving a calf behind to die was like losing money and Mr. Garret frowned on that, plus he would dock our pay one days wages if he found out we had not tried to retrieve a lost calf. From time to time a calf would stray off into the woods at the foot of the mountain range. When that happened we would go into the woods after them. However, the calves would do this when no one was watching and we would find a cow not wanting to go with the herd. She would stand at the edge of the herd bawling towards the woods. That was our indicator a calf was in the thickets of the woods. Sometimes the momma cows would bed them down in the woods and other times the calves would simply wonder off in curiosity. Either way, our job was to go in after them.

I remember one balmy late spring afternoon just after the morning chill had finally given into the sunny warmth. We were driving our beeves north to far end of the pasture. We noticed about five momma cows refusing to follow in with the rest of the herd. They kept running towards the thickets to our west bawling loudly, but no calves could be seen or heard. I looked at Harold and motioned for him head towards the thicket after the calves and I would be there shortly.

I road my big fifteen hand brown horse on up towards the front to let one of the hired hands know where Harold and I would be and to keep moving the herd forward and we would catch up with them later that evening. So, I caught up with Harold and we moved slowly and methodically into the thicket. The trees and vines were so thick at times we had to get off our horses and go further on foot. Harold hollered out to me, “Where in the world could those five calves be?” I looked at him and just shrugged my shoulders in bewilderment myself. I had no clue. What some of these momma cows will do is take their babies off into the woods and bed them down together. But usually one momma cow would stay with them like a baby-sitter. However, this time it seemed all the calves were alone.

My thoughts immediately started thinking about how wolves or mountain lions possibly could have gotten some or all of the calves. No matter though, Harold and I would not stop until we had found all of the calves safe and sound or what was left of them as proof of their whereabouts.

It started getting late as the sun was just barely peeking over the mountain peak and we had been hunting for these calves for hours. It was starting to get cold again and a small thunder shower had formed just above us over the mountain range. Fortunately, we had packed our rain slicks for such an occasion. As the rain pelted our heads and soaked our boots, Harold heard a faint bawl of a young calf. We hurried in the direction of the cry over large rocks and around enormous boulders. There just on the other side of a jagged boulder he found two of the calves hung up in some of the thickest vines and trees we had encountered. Since we found them, what would we do with them? It was no easy trip up into the mountain range to start with. Harold or I could take these two calves back, but what about the other three. About that time two of our riders from the herd came clapity-clopping up next to us. “Do you guys need any help finding the calves?” one of the hands yelled. “Yes, you can take these two calves back to their mommas with the herd while Harold and I look for the other three calves.” One of the hands yelled back, “We figured with it getting so late and we had not seen you guys yet, you probably needed help.” So, they put the calves across their saddles right in front of them and off on their horses they went.

As Harold and I climbed higher and higher into the mountain area the thicket was extremely dense. The darkness seemed to fall like dark chocolate running down the sides of an ice cream cone. It was thick and heavy darkness. I pulled out an old flashlight I had stuck in my saddle bag hoping it would still work. It has been at least 6 months since I last used it. Sure enough, the flashlight worked, when all of the sudden, Harold let out an “eek” loudly. I yelled over to him to find out what was the matter. When from high above us on rock cliff was the biggest mountain lion I had seen in decades. The sound from this mountain lion would make your skin crawl. The big cat was positioned to jump on top of Harold. I grabbed the 30-30 Winchester from my saddle holster took aim and fired. I nicked the cat right on his behind. The cat took off up the trail above the rock cliff out of sight. I hurried over to Harold to make sure he was alright and of course he was.

About the time we were starting to head up and around the rock cliff, I heard something off in the distance. A faint but steady bawl from a young calf. Apparently, Harold and I had gone too far up in the mountains not realizing where the calves might be. So, back down the trail we went and found the other three calves safe and sound. Harold grabbed one calf and stretched it across his lap while I took the other two smaller calves and stretched them across my lap on the saddle. Off towards the herd we went.

As we traveled down the mountain side we came across a good trail that lead us right out of the thicket in the valley below. The herd was bedded down for the night about twenty minutes ahead, so we should be able to get back in time for supper. I looked over to Harold and said, “You know Harold, you and I out searching for these five calves tonight through the thicket, the vines, the boulders, the jagged rocks, and all reminds me of how Jesus seeks us out to save us for eternity”. I quoted Jesus from Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus’ mission all summed up in a few words. We came out into the mountain range to seek and to save that which was lost. The result was we found those calves and saved them from danger. Jesus does the same for his own people. “You see Harold; these calves were not looking for us. They may have known they were not in the right place, but did not know who to be looking for”, I spoke plainly to Harold. “People are the same way you know”. People don’t seek after to God. In their lost sinful state of being, they have not a clue they need Jesus”, I confidently exclaimed.

I pondered further about the subject for the next fifteen to twenty minutes until we got back to camp. Finally, arriving at the camp we put the calves back with their momma’s. All the bawling stopped as the calves and momma cows we joined together again. Thinking back over a Sunday-School lesson I heard about a son running off on his own lost to the world. The father speaking to the son’s brother quoting from Luke 15:32 says, “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.” About that time one of the other hired hands came wondering up to me and asked what I was thinking about. So, I simply told about how Christ had come to seek and to save the lost of this world. How Jesus talked about in Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” I told the hand Jesus would come after the one lost no matter what. I then turned to him and asked him simply, “Have you put your complete trust in Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior?” He just wrinkled his face in an expression of “I don’t know”. We left it at that. But the day’s affairs had made me think more about Jesus seeking out His lost people and how He would go through the thicket, across the rocks and boulders engaging Mountain Lions and all in order to save His own.

by scott bailey (c) 2009

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Early One Thanksgiving Morning!

Posted by Scott on November 27, 2009

The sun was rising early one winter morning over the eastern horizon just barely peaking above the tall pine trees like the glitter of a shiny new diamond ring. The temperature was below 30 degrees, and it felt as though icicles could form on the end of our nose. Although, you could see the smoke from our breath it seemed once in the air it just stopped in midair for a moment before finally floating away. The morning was deadly still, no wind at all. With every heartbeat you could feel the pains of freezing cold run through your veins.

My brother, Jake and I was up early at the edge of the woods watching down a small natural clearing between the pines for the largest Tom Turkey we had ever seen on the last hunt we took. Jake, my younger brother, had caught a quick glimpse of him once before and the last hunt in September, both of us saw him up closer. This turkey would feed a large family for days we thought. So, this morning, the day before Thanksgiving, we were determined to bag this old Tom and bring him home to feast on for Thanksgiving. Both of us had twelve gauge shotguns and three loaded shells total between us. So, we must be accurate and selective with our shots.

As we waited next to a couple of huge pine trees almost frozen to the tree from the cold, we heard a noise coming from behind us. It was a noise we had not ever heard before. It was the sound of a large giant grunting through the woods, bouncing off the trees, tumbling in the leaves, and splashing in the creek bed. At times it sounded as though there was more than one, but then at other times only one of whatever this was. Jake and I would watch intently behind as we tried to keep a corner of one eye down the lane for the old Tom Turkey.

In a brief moment of silence, we could hear in the distance the gobble call of a wild turkey. We rubbed the frozen fog out of our eyes to make sure our sight was as clear as possible in order to see the turkey. The sound seemed to get closer to the lane, but nothing was in sight yet. Behind us the noise was also getting closer. Jake and I were perplexed at what we should do…it seemed as though what was behind us would collide with us head-on about the time the turkey would come into the clearing just 50 yards down the lane.

I told Jake to move to his right just behind the tree next to the one near the clearing in order to get a better look behind us to see whatever was tumbling, grunting, and somewhat squeeling down the hillside. We could not imagine what it could be. One thought crossed my mind maybe it was another big turkey. Jake said it may be a stray cow wondering through the woods trying to get back to its herd. Neither of us were satisfied with those ideas, because the noises did not sound like a turkey or a cow. We had to focus on the turkey. Our main goal was to get the biggest Tom Turkey from those woods for our Thanksgiving feast.

All of the sudden the racket behind us finally stopped. We finally took a deep breath which almost froze our lungs as our focus went back to clearing and the call from a turkey. “Still no sign of a turkey”, Jake whispered. We looked all around as far as we could see through the clearing in order to spot the first sign of a turkey. The gobbling noise was getting closer, but still we could not even see the hint of a turkey. By this time, the smoke from our heavy breath seemed to freeze midair as it clouded our vision of the clear lane in anticipation of the wild turkey entering the lane with what we supposed would be splendor. As it seemed like a decade of time waiting for that turkey to come out into the clearing, Jake tapped me on the shoulder with a shaky kind of tap.

I shrugged off his attempts to get my attention for a moment as to indicate to him “stop and watch the clearing”. A few seconds went by when the tap on my should was more forceful and now quivering. So, in disgust I turned to give Jake a stern look of disgust, when I caught a whiff of a smell that was undescribable. The smell was similar to a packing plant, but the stinch was even worse than that. As I peaked over Jake’s shoulder I caught a glimpse of the largest nostriles I had ever been eye to nostrile with attached to one of the biggest, stinkiest, angriest wild hogs we had ever put our eyes on. There it was peering down at us on the ground, with a half cocked grin on its face, teeth gleeming just a bit, its breath fogging out the sides of its mouth like a steam engine train about to leave the station and with a glare in its red glowing eyes as though it had found fresh meat for its own winter feast. It was not moving, but my thoughts were “this beast is definately trying to decide which one of us to eat first”.

Jake was frozen in fear on the ground. He had a huge hunting knife on his belt, but could not move towards it for fear this wild beast would attack. To my surprise the wild hog was not attacking. It was glaring at us, mouth half cocked open, and breathing hard with a labored breath. I was not sure the smelly pig could even see us, but I was not willing to just set there and find out either. Knowing we could not get up and out run the horrible pig, very carefully and slowly I raised my twelve gauge shotgun just above Jake’s shoulder. Working carefully to move it forward so the end of the barrel of the gun was clear of the side of Jake’s face while pointing it directly in the face of this wild beast. What seemed to be huge chunks of time slowly passing by was only a few seconds. As I was trying hard to steadily pull the trigger, all of the sudden without warning something startled the hog and the hog jumped backwards and my shot fired directly through the left ear of the stinking beast. The hog ran off tumbling on the ground and bouncing off the trees grunting and squeeling as it ran the opposite direction up the clearing. Our guess at the time was the hog weighed in around 155 pounds. This was a big hog. “We could have eaten that big hog”, Jake confidently exclaimed. I told Jake the hog was much closer to eating us than we were of eating him. Let us just be thankful the hog is gone. We came to get a turkey anyway.

Now, Jake and I figured the shot of the gun would have destroyed our chances with the old turkey down the lane. Jake looked down the clearing and saw the head of a turkey picking something up off the ground through the tall tickle weeds lining the clearing. He rubbed his eyes again to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing and sure enough, it was that huge Tom Turkey. About the same time as our shot a big gust of wind came up from the direction of the turkey. Apparently the shot of our gun had been muzzled by a number of factors including the strange wind and the turkey had not heard the shot.

About the time I got a good glance at the turkey, he started moving up towards us just outside the tickle weeds and johnson grass pecking pebbles and seeds off the ground on his way towards us. My thoughts going through my mind was, “Lord, on this day will You deliver this turkey into our hands?” “You, Lord, always know our needs and You know this Thanksgiving my family has nothing to eat. You always make a way for Your people don’t You?” I knew in the back of my mind the wild hog that got away would have supplied meat for our family too, but Jake and I were especially wanting that turkey.

We are now down to two loaded shells for this turkey. My thoughts went towards mom back home with our three younger sisters and my grandfather who is in bed ill from cancer. My dad had died in an accident at the local mill several years before and the old farm house was cold, drafty and musty. It seems when the wind picks up from the north it comes right into our old house without any trouble, swirling around everyone’s head and does not stop going through our house until it exits the other side. The living room is where most of the family stays all day and the cold wind always seems to swirl vigorously around the room as we cover in blankets and huddle closely to the fire built in the little pot bellied stove. The vinyl on the kitchen flooring would raise up from wood as the wind tried to get into the house from underneath. What wallpaper was left on the walls flapped to the breeze of the strong north winds. The lighting in the old house was minimal at best. The owner of the home was an elderly man at the next farm and he could not afford to replace anything in the home and really we were grateful he was allowing us to rent the place in return for taking care of some of his cows and a few pigs on the old farm.

Today, however, if this old turkey continues in the direction he is moving, we will feast tomorrow with enough food to warm our bellies and help us to celebrate in true thankfulness for what God has given to us this day. Sure, we have lots to be thankful for already, but would it not be nice to say grace over a big turkey God provided for Jake and I to hunt down?

My thoughts cleared up and I could refocus on the turkey still moving up the lane was within twenty feet of us. Jake told me to take the first shot and he would back me up if I missed. I zeroed in on the old Tom Turkey, placed my steady trigger finger firmly on the trigger. What seemed to take me hours I knew was only split seconds in pulling the trigger, calmly and methodically I aimed at the head of the Tom Turkey, when all of the sudden out of the brush with a fluttering motion and noise from within itself a fine looking ringneck shot up right next to the turkey causing the old Tom to run off into the weeds while at the same split second I fired off my shot. I could not believe Jake and I had been out in that clearing since before the dawn of the day, in the bitter cold, nearly eaten by a wold hog, and now this old turkey was getting away again. Jake and I never recall seeing many pheasant in that area of the woods before. For that matter we do not recall ever seeing any wild hogs roaming those woods either. What a disappointment this morning has been. Such anticipation on getting that big old turkey and now it is gone. I quietly exclaim, “Could that old turkey just be a ghost turkey or something? No one seems to be able to kill it.”

Jake and I packed up our stuff and headed back towards the house empty-handed with one final loaded shell in Jake’s gun. We were extremely disappointed. With our heads dropped low and our walk kind of dragging we made our way back towards the house. Our family would not eat very well this Thanksgiving. My mind began to wonder as I began to remember the promises I had heard from the stories momma told us about God. Promises like He would never leave me alone by myself or forget about me. Other promises like our Lord would feed us when we were hungry, give us clothing when we need clothing, and shelter from the elements when we needed it. Momma always said no matter what, God would take care of His own and we needed to be found faithful and obedient to Him above eerything else. The further we walked towards home I took great comfort and peace in those promises. I could tell Jake was not as convinced as I was, but he would learn. I reminded Jake about those promises momma had read to us from the big Bible in the living room about how God would provide food for us and put food on the table this Thanksgiving and probably even better food than what we were hunting for that morning. Discussing this for a moment it seemed to lift our spirits and we raised our heads as we picked up the pace heading home.

As we climbed up a small hill on the path back to our house, we heard something strange coming towards us on the path just behind a patch of dried up sunflowers. All of the sudden out of nowhere a much larger Tom Turkey was pecking around on the lane right in front of us. The turkey had not seen us or heard us yet, but as soon as the turkey rounded the corner I had my eyes on him. Jake was not bashful either. He knew exactly what he needed to do and he confidently put his finger on that trigger without much of a thought and he fired of his gun. The last loaded shell we had was now spent towards this big old turkey. For me, it seemed like I could see each and every little ball of BB’s from that shell move through the air towards the turkey. All of our hopes was in that last shot. Jake had nailed the Tom Turkey dead. Feathers fluttered up into the air like dust from a storm. Both of us looked towards each other with a confident smile as though we had never doubted this moment would come. As Jake was picking the old turkey up, he looked at me with a strange, but satisfied look. “Well, we can eat well tomorrow”, Jake said loudly.

Jake further said, “God knows exactly what He is doing. This turkey is far bigger, younger, and better than the other one was”. Looking back I started to see God’s providential hand in the entire hunting experience. We only had three loaded shells on us. I started to conclude that God caused that old hog to come right on top of us, but did not allow the hog to attack us, yet He had us waste a shell trying to kill the beast. Then He directed the big Tom Turkey up the path right beside a pheasant and allowed that turkey to get away. God knew we were down to one bullet shell and was disappointed in our failure on the hunt. All the time God knew He had a bigger and better turkey up that path for us. He wanted me down to my last bullet so I had to rely on Him for the provisions for our Thanksgiving dinner. God is His infinite wisdom was building a faithful character in Jake and I that morning unlike any other time in our lives. As Jake and I took off half way running towards home, I simply looked up to the sky and quietly spoke, “Thank You my God for providing for us this Thanksgiving. Thank You, Lord, for proving my momma right as she told us about the promises you make to us when we are faithful to You”.

Our family was humbly thankful to God for providing us with such a treat as that big delicious turkey. It had so much meat on it we ate turkey for three weeks savoring each bite. I can tell you Jake and I have never doubted God’s hand on our lives from that day forward. We trust He always is working His perfect plan to the end and we need to step in and take part in whatever He is doing.

scott bailey (c) 2009

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Ways Parents Provoke Their Kids!

Posted by Scott on April 9, 2008

 

Ways Parents Provoke

8 Ways Parents Provoke(By John MacArthur)

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” In our series these last two weeks, we’ve looked at both discipline (specifically, spanking) and instruction (specifically, evangelism). Today, we will look at the command to not provoke.

To “provoke . . . to anger” suggests a repeated, ongoing pattern of treatment that gradually builds up a deep–seated anger and resentment that boils over in outward hostility.

Such treatment is usually not intended to provoke anger. Here are eight ways in which parents can provoke their children to anger:

1) Well–meaning overprotection is a common cause of resentment in children. Parents who smother their children, overly restrict where they can go and what they can do, never trust them to do things on their own, and continually question their judgment build a barrier between themselves and their children—usually under the delusion that they are building a closer relationship. Children need careful guidance and certain restrictions, but they are individual human beings in their own right and must learn to make decisions on their own, commensurate with their age and maturity. Their wills can be guided but they cannot be controlled.

2) Another common cause of provoking children to anger is favoritism. Isaac favored Esau over Jacob and Rebekah preferred Jacob over Esau. That dual and conflicting favoritism not only caused great trouble for the immediate family but has continued to have repercussions in the conflicts between the descendants of Jacob and Esau until our present day! For parents to compare their children with each other, especially in the children’s presence, can be devastating to the child who is less talented or favored. He will tend to become discouraged, resentful, withdrawn, and bitter.

Favoritism by parents generally leads to favoritism among the children themselves, who pick up the practice from their parents. They will favor one brother or sister over the others and will often favor one parent over the other.

3) A third way parents provoke their children is by pushing achievement beyond reasonable bounds. A child can be so pressured to achieve that he is virtually destroyed. He quickly learns that nothing he does is sufficient to please his parents. No sooner does he accomplish one goal than he is challenged to accomplish something better. Fathers who fantasize their own achievements through the athletic skills of their sons, or mothers who fantasize a glamorous career through the lives of their daughters prostitute their responsibility as parents.

I once visited a young woman who was confined to a padded cell and was in a state of catatonic shock. She was a Christian and had been raised in a Christian family, but her mother had ceaselessly pushed her to be the most popular, beautiful, and successful girl in school. She became head cheerleader, homecoming queen, and later a model. But the pressure to excel became too great and she had a complete mental collapse. After she was eventually released from the hospital, she went back into the same artificial and demanding environment. When again she found she could not cope, she committed suicide. She had summed up her frustration when she told me one day, “I don’t care what it is I do, it never satisfies my mother.”

4) A fourth way children are provoked is by discouragement. A child who is never complimented or encouraged by his parents is destined for trouble. If he is always told what is wrong with him and never what is right, he will soon lose hope and become convinced that he is incapable of doing anything right. At that point he has no reason even to try. Parents can always find something that a child genuinely does well, and they should show appreciation for it. A child needs approval and encouragement in things that are good every bit as much as he needs correction in things that are not.

5) A fifth way provocation occurs is by parents’ failing to sacrifice for their children and making them feel unwanted. Children who are made to feel that they are an intrusion, that they are always in the way and interfere with the plans and happiness of the parents, cannot help becoming resentful. To such children the parents themselves will eventually become unwanted and an intrusion on the children’s plans and happiness.

6) A sixth form of provocation comes from failing to let children grow up at a normal pace. Chiding them for always acting childish, even when what they do is perfectly normal and harmless, does not contribute to their maturity but rather helps confirm them in their childishness.

7) A seventh way of angering children is that of using love as a tool of reward or punishment—granting it when a child is good and withdrawing it when he is bad. Often the practice is unconscious, but a child can sense if a parent cares for him less when is he disobedient than when he behaves. That is not how God loves and is not the way he intends human parents to love. God disciplines His children just as much out of love as He blesses them. “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Heb. 12:6). Because it is so easy to punish out of anger and resentment, parents should take special care to let their children know they love them when discipline is given.

8) An eighth way to provoke children is by physical and verbal abuse. Battered children are a growing tragedy today. Even Christian parents—fathers especially—sometimes overreact and spank their children much harder than necessary. Proper physical discipline is not a matter of exerting superior authority and strength, but of correcting in love and reasonableness. Children are also abused verbally. A parent can as easily overpower a child with words as with physical force. Putting him down with superior arguments or sarcasm can inflict serious harm, and provokes him to anger and resentment. It is amazing that we sometimes say things to our children that we would not think of saying to anyone else—for fear of ruining our reputation!

In closing, consider the confession of one Christian father,

My family’s all grown and the kids are all gone. But if I had to do it all over again, this is what I would do. I would love my wife more in front of my children. I would laugh with my children more—at our mistakes and our joys. I would listen more, even to the littlest child. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection. I would pray differently for my family; instead of focusing on them, I’d focus on me. I would do more things together with my children. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise. I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness. And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day I would use to direct them to God.

(Today’s article adapted from John’s commentary on Ephesians, published by Moody.)

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Q n A: Reformation Day!

Posted by Scott on October 31, 2007

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT REFORMATION DAY!

 

Steve Green singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”



WHAT IS REFORMATION DAY? Reformation Day is an important liturgical festival that is celebrated by Lutherans and Christians of many Protestant denominations.  It commemorates Dr. Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31st, 1517.  This act triggered the movement in world history known as the Reformation.  While the historical date for the observance of Reformation is October 31st, most churches celebrate it on the last Sunday in October.  


WHAT WAS THE REFORMATION? While it had profound and lasting impacts on the political, economic, social, literary, and artistic aspects of modern society, the Reformation was at its heart a religious movement.  The Reformation was the great rediscovery of the good news of salvation by grace through faith for Christ’s sake.


WHY WAS THE CHURCH IN NEED OF REFORM? For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church had been plagued by false doctrines, superstition, ignorance, and corruption.  Since most ordinary Christians were illiterate and had little knowledge of the Bible, they relied on their clergy for religious instruction and guidance.  Tragically however, monks, priests, bishops, and even the popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like purgatory and salvation through good works.  Spiritually earnest people tried to justify themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious performances and devotions, but they were left wondering if they had done enough to escape God’s anger and punishment.  The truth of the gospel — the good news that God is loving and merciful, that He offers each and every one of us forgiveness and salvation not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has already done for us — was largely forgotten by both clergy and laity.  The Holy Spirit used an Augustinian monk and university professor named Martin Luther to restore the gospel to its rightful place as the cornerstone doctrine of Christianity.


WHO WAS MARTIN LUTHER AND WHAT WAS HIS ROLE IN THE REFORMATION?  Martin Luther was born in 1483 in the town of Eisleben in the area of Germany called Thuringia.  His parents brought him up in the strict religious environment of the Roman Catholic Church.  They provided for his education by enrolling him in the Latin schools of Thuringia.  The young Luther was a promising student, so his father sent him to the University of Erfurt in 1501 to study law.  He did very well at his studies and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in 1505.  But Luther was a troubled and morbidly unhappy man.  Like many others of his time, Luther was distressed by his sins and lived in terrible and constant fear of God’s angry judgment.  After being caught in a ferocious thunderstorm that seemed to threaten his very life, Luther abandoned his plans to practice law and entered an Augustinian monastery.  He hoped that the rigorous life of a monk would allow him opportunities to do enough good works to please God and escape eternal punishment.  Luther threw himself into monastic life and was ordained in 1507.  He meticulously followed all the strict rules of his abbey, impressing his fellow monks with his seriousness and outward piety.  Dr. Johann von Staupitz, the vicar-general of the Augustinian order, took notice of Luther’s potential for leadership and assigned him important administrative duties, including a mission to Rome.  But although Luther did everything a devout and conscientious monk should do, he did not find the peace of mind he was seeking.In 1508, Father Staupitz sent Luther to Wittenberg, a town in the part of Germany called Saxony, to pursue a doctoral degree and to teach at the newly established university there.  Luther also became assistant pastor at the Castle Church, a post he held for the rest of his life.  In the course of his preaching and studying (especially his careful reading of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans), the Holy Spirit revealed to Luther the love of God in Jesus Christ.  In what is often called his “Tower Experience,” Luther came to understand the true nature of the gospel, namely that God has already accomplished our salvation by the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, and that this salvation is ours through faith alone, not on account of our good works.  Luther was astounded by this doctrine and found tremendous comfort in it.  He began to lecture about it in his classes and preach about it in his parish.In 1517, Luther (now a Doctor of Theology and a respected professor) was drawn into a controversy over the sale of indulgences.  Indulgences were certificates sold by the Roman Catholic Church that promised people release from works of penance for absolved sins, both in life and in purgatory.  Although Luther would in a few years repudiate the entire Roman Catholic system of works righteousness, he was not ready at this early stage in his ministry to completely reject the prevailing teachings on purgatory and indulgences.  But even prior to 1517 he realized that corrupt practices connected to the sale of indulgences were a blasphemy against Christ and a cruel deception on penitent Christians seeking God’s grace and forgiveness.It was the sale of a particular indulgence that spurred Luther to action.  Pope Leo X had authorized the sale of special jubilee indulgences in the cities and principalities of Germany.  Half of the money raised was to help finance the building of Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome; the other half was to go to Albrecht, the new archbishop of Mainz (who needed the cash to pay off a loan he had taken to buy his archbishopric).  These indulgences were plenary, meaning that all sin and eternal and temporal punishment would be forgiven to those who purchased them.  Elector Frederick the Wise, prince of Saxony and patron of the University of Wittenberg, had prohibited the traffic of these indulgences in his territory, but they were sold in towns and villages just across the Saxon border.  When some members of his parish purchased indulgences and brought them to Luther for his assessment of their validity, he felt compelled to take the initiative.Luther drafted a series of ninety-five statements in Latin discussing indulgences, good works, repentance, and other topics, and invited interested scholars to debate with him.  According to Dr. Philip Melanchthon, Luther’s university colleague and author of the Augsburg Confession, Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church on October 31st, 1517.  (This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought.  Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg’s main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices.  Today, a professor might publish an article in a journal or post it on a web site.)  By posting his document on October 31st, the eve of the All Saints’ Day mass, Luther ensured that his Theses would come to the attention of the throngs of literate Wittenberg residents and educated visitors who filed into the Castle Church for worship the next day.Luther intended the Ninety-five Theses to initiate an academic discussion, not serve as the agenda for a major reform of the Catholic Church.  However, events soon overtook him.  Within weeks, the Theses were translated into German, reproduced using the new moveable-type printing press, and circulated throughout Germany.  It wasn’t long before they were the talk of Europe.  The publication of the Ninety-five Theses brought Luther to international attention and into direct conflict with the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Holy Roman Emperor.  A little over three years later, he was excommunicated by the pope and declared a heretic and outlaw.  This was the beginning of the Reformation, the culmination of which was the writing of the Augsburg Confession of 1530, the first official Lutheran statement of faith.


WHAT IS THE LITURGICAL COLOR FOR REFORMATION DAY?Red is the liturgical color for this day.  Red reminds us of the Holy Spirit who descended on Christ’s followers in tongues of fire on Pentecost.  It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Martin Luther came to learn the gospel.  The same Spirit moved him to post his Ninety-five Theses and inspired him and his colleagues to work toward the Reformation of the Christian church.


WHY IS REFORMATION DAY SUCH AN IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN FESTIVAL?Martin Luther and his colleagues came to understand that if we sinners had to earn salvation by our own merits and good works, we would be lost and completely without hope.  But through the working of the Holy Spirit, the reformers rediscovered the gospel — the wonderful news that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to redeem and justify us.  As Luther wrote in his explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles’ CreedI believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.  This is most certainly true.On Reformation Day, we glorify God for what he accomplished in 16th century Germany through His servant, Dr. Martin Luther — the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith for Christ’s sake.  We also earnestly pray that God would keep all of us faithful to the true gospel and help us to joyfully declare it to the world.  This lovely hymn verse encapsulates the theme of our Reformation celebration:

By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,
Came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of your own merit
That Jesus died your soul to win?
No, it was grace, and grace alone,
That brought Him from His heav’nly throne.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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How Can Christians React to Halloween?

Posted by Scott on October 24, 2007

Christians and Halloween

Halloween.  It’s a time of year when the air gets crisper, the day gets shorter, and for many young Americans the excitement grows in anticipation of the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year.  Retailers rejoice too as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards.  Halloween will bring in approximately 3.3 billion dollars this year.

It’s a good bet retailers won’t entertain high expectations of getting $41.77 per household from the Christian market.  Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween.  Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children.  But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.

The question is, How should Christians respond to Halloween?  Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat?  What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season–are they overreacting?  Click here to read the rest of the article from Grace To You by John MacArthur!

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-How Can We Be Devoted Dads?

Posted by Scott on October 11, 2007

hirrdoca9xxxmscazy4aavcaaxwlqzcain69vncacra3naca8jxed1caihcsrgcayl7zj7ca7ro4wycaxoew2bcat32pwwcaxjg8k8cakl3ggacarnt8o9ca74v9oucat1y04gcaw6gbohcarekypv.jpg   After 17 years of marriage is seems like only a few months have gone by.  My wife and I have 10 children ages 16 down to 1….6 Boys and 4 Girls if you are wondering and my wife birthed each of them one at a time.  Anyway, this Blog Site was produced so that I could write down my thoughts on  daily basis, but also to put together some of what I think are the greatest theologians and preachers of all time and their thoughts along with my own ramblings.  You can simply go to one place and research for hours on hundreds of subjects.  I have been to all the sources I include on the right hand side of this site.  In my devotion to my family, I wanted to make sure I can give accurate biblical advice to my children.  By studying deeply into God’s word and comparing it to what my mentors of the past have said about helps me to grow in my walk with Christ.  This increases the devotion I have for my God, which spills over in a deep devotion for my family and friends. 

In 2 Chronicles 6:14 it tells us:

“…there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth.  You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.”

His unfailing love for us should translate into a wholehearted devotion of our Lord.  This is the least our families deserve from their husbands and dads, don’t you think?  We must remember that our God is all knowing, all powerful, always has existed, always will exist, makes no mistakes, is loving, is kind, is generous, is forgiving, will judge, will discipline, is long-suffering, patient, merciful, counselor, the light of the world, creator, and much more.  I could go no for paragraphs about the attributes of God.  I think you get the picture though.  We serve an absolutely awesome God.

In my own life I have always been seeking a deeper devotion with my Lord.  It seemed like I never could grow to the point that I really wanted to dig that deeply.  However, in the past two to three years, circumstances that the Lord has lead me into have increased my desire to know Him more.  These circumstances were and in some cases still are difficult to go through.  The result is exactly what He intended…a deeper faith that has me thirsting for more of Him.  Part of this transformation is the bible based church He planted us in.  The pastor and men’s leader both preach and teach from God’s word.  It is not based on “feelings” or the “prosperity gospel”.  These men bring to us the richness of God’s word in truth.  It is the truth that also has created the desire to want to know more and more about my God. 

Gentleman, each us will react to crisis in our lives based on what we know and think about our God.  If we have kept our God in a tiny box until the day we think we need Him, our view in that time of crisis will be that our God is not big enough for the task.  On the other hand, though, if we have always known our God to vast, awesome and huge then no matter what crisis may come our way we will trust and know that the God we have encountered over the years can handle anything.  As a matter of fact He already knew this crisis was coming.  He allowed the crisis in our life and to further blow us away, He lead us directly into that crisis. 

“The same God that has lead us into this crisis is the same God that will lead us out of this crisis!”

Rest assure that we are not walking through anything that goes on in our lives alone.  Nothing catches God by surprise.  His mind is far beyond our comprehension.  It is in these moments of crisis that can last an hour or years that create either a well of devotion in us or a complete abandoning of our faith.  These are the times when we and our families find out if we are truly a child of God or simply an imitation follower of God.

So, do your really want to be a devoted dad?  I will encourage you to start reading and meditating on God’s holy word daily.  As it states in Deuteronomy 8:3 (NLT) when speaking of the Israelites

2 “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.”

As it says here, we should live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  So, unless we are spending that precious time in God’s word, how can we be a devoted dad?  It is impossible! 

Next, take time to out to pray about what God has revealed in His word.  I believe God speaks today through His written word.  So, if we are meditating constantly on His words rather than he newspaper or other secular books we can hear what God is saying to us.  Ever wanted clear direction..this is how we can receive direction.  This will change our perspective as we pray.  It is amazing how small our crisis will become when we spend some time reading and pondering on the scriptures….God dwarfs the crisis in just this way.   

Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

This is not for discussion.  Jesus says to bring our burdens to Him.  His word will encourage us, fill us, and spread His love upon us.  The load we carry as dads and husbands is greater than it has ever been, but Jesus did not specify, He simply told us to bring them to Him.  He understands that we cannot carry these loads.  He understands we are always on the brink of loosing it mentally.  This is why He wants to carry these loads, so we can stay devoted to Him and devoted to our families.

Finally, guys I want to tell you that after these two actions, spend time with your wife first and your children.  Make that time for them.  They all want the man God placed in their life to spend quality time with them.  They do not care one bit if you are making a bunch of money, driving a nice vehicle, moving up the corporate ladder, and anything else.  Your family, men, want you.  They want to know what God is speaking to you on a daily basis.  They want to experience you on a physical and mental level…not via phone or email all the time.  The kids need to be able to touch their dads face, smell his after-shave, experience his loving touches….they need you and I in the flesh.  Our wives, they need our encouragement, to speak with them about what is on our hearts, and minds.  They, too, want to smell us, feel us, and have us there to sleep with at night.  This will finish out the creation of a devoted dad. 

How Not to Be a Strict Father

Consistent discipline is essential to raising kids in the way that they should go. A father who does this will sometimes be called strict. Let me tell you what I don’t mean by a strict father. Strict fathers aren’t mean to their kids.  Strict fathers aren’t aloof from their kids.  Strict fathers are not distant from their kids.  Strict fathers aren’t harsh with their kids.  Strict fathers aren’t physically or verbally abusive to their kids.

On the contrary, appropriately strict fathers love their kids. Strict fathers are affectionate with their wives and children. Strict fathers praise their kids and emotionally support them. Strict fathers are in balance. They balance training and discipline with a host of positive qualities that give their kids a context of unconditional love and acceptance. 

–Steve Farrar

Steve Farrar is the author of ten books, including the best-sellers Point Man and Finishing Strong.  Learn more at SteveFarrar.com

The reality is, guys, that God wants to bring to the top some devoted dads that will brin Him honor and glory.  He would like to see some men that do not care how the world teaches their children, spoils their children or how the world reacts to crisis…men willing to make sacrifices.  God wants men that want to do the right thing always.  Men that will spend time with Him and obey His calling upon their lives.  To be a devoted dad is not easy, but it is the most rewarding part of our lives next to spending eternity with Christ.  In the end what a legacy we can leave our children and grand-children…you know in truth how I have glorified my heavenly Father once I am gone from this earth means more to me than all the money and success this world can offer.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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