Wild Game, Tame Garden – September

The Lord has made everything beautiful in its time, so from time to time, as the seasons dictate, I’m continuing a series called Wild Game, Tame Garden. Join me as we explore topics ranging from hunting in the wild to gardening right outside your own back door. If David saw God’s fingerprints painted across the sky, or if Solomon could glean wisdom among ants, how much more could we learn from the creation in which we live? I hope you enjoy this second segment of Wild Game, Tame Garden. Be sure to check out the “September Calander” also! Lots of fun stuff there! 

Yellowstone 2022


– Lessons I Never Knew and Won’t Soon Forget –

While my wife Jill was studying out of the country this summer, I got a wild hair to drive to Yellowstone. So I packed up my two dachshunds, Mr. Franks and Otie, and hit the road. Along the way I learned some lessons I hadn’t planned on but won’t soon forget:

1.   GPS is Spot On

My first lesson occurred halfway through Arkansas. As I’d originally planned my drive, GPS calculated the trip at 27 hours from Sweet Home Alabama to Yellowstone. This meant 27 actual tires moving on the pavement hours. Rest stops, drive-thrus, and a night’s sleep weren’t factored in. After one pit stop in Arkansas, I could have sworn I heard Mr. Franks mutter to Otie, “I’ll break for it if you follow…he’s crazy if he thinks I’m getting back in that car.” Since our excursion, “go for a car ride” carries an entirely new meaning—the dogs bolt away from my vehicle instead of toward it!

2.   My Stars Was Dad Right

As kids, we used to laugh like crazy while we looked at old pictures of our parents. My dad’s words, (how prophetic in hindsight), continually fell on deaf ears. “You just wait…you just wait…” he would always say. “Your kids won’t think you’re as cool as you think you are.”


Let’s be honest; how many of you chuckled the second you saw the photo above? Dad was right. I’m not as cool as I once thought I was…not even close.

3.   Not All Tap Outs are Softies

Recently, I was watching Alone, the hit reality series where 10 survivalists are dropped in a remote location in the wilderness, each with 10 items of gear they can bring along. The objective for contestants is to outlast their competitors, who are dropped far enough away to ensure they won’t come into contact with one another. The contestant who remains in the wilderness the longest wins a grand prize of $500,000. “If the elements don’t get you,” one ad runs, “the isolation will.”
For the first time, I finally get it. Being alone stinks, even when you’re alone with a gorgeous Montana Landscape with Mr. Franks and Otie by your side (or underneath my feet while I recorded two vlogs: Christian Morality is an Absolute Must & These Mountains Scream “There Are No Atheists!”. I knew it was bad when I got sick of being around myself—I’ll never refer to contestants on Alone as softies again!

4.   Fellowship is Life: Trust Me

Let us not neglect meeting together as some have made a habit. (Hebrews 10:25)


The fact that Christ created us for community was never more evident when I found myself in isolation. It’s’ why “fellowship,” which I believe to be a uniquely Christian term, is vital to our survival. Interdependence among believers, not independence, is what sustains us.


Not surprisingly, the word “fellowship” (koinonia) is first introduced in the Book of Acts, not the Gospels, to stress Christians’ dependence upon one another. Like in Acts 2:42: members of the Way “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread, and to prayer.”


How important is fellowship in the local church? Let me answer by sharing a story from a devotional I recently read:


A minister was concerned about the absence of a man who had typically attended services. After a few weeks, he decided to visit him. When the pastor arrived at the man’s home, he found him alone, sitting in front of a fireplace. The minister pulled up a chair and sat next to him. But after his initial greeting, he said nothing more. The two sat silently for a few minutes while the minister stared at the flames in the fireplace.


Then he took the tongs, carefully picked up one burning ember from the flames, and placed it on the hearth. He sat back in his chair, still silent. His host watched in quiet reflection as the ember flickered and faded. Before long, it was cold and dead. The minister glanced at his watch and said he had to leave, but first, he picked up the cold ember and placed it back in the fire. Immediately it began to glow again with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the minister rose to leave, his host stood with him and shook his hand. Then, with a smile, the man said, “Thanks for the sermon, pastor. I’ll see you Sunday.”  
Just as my westward hiatus to Yellowstone had to come to an end, maybe it’s time all hiatuses from local church involvement end as well. For many of you reading this, I think it should. The enemy’s goal is to divide the body of Christ, and he’s constantly looking to hunt down and separate his prey. Rather than allowing a travesty like the pandemic to divide us and keep us in isolation, we should see it as an encouragement and reminder for the necessity of community.


Speaking as someone who does not pastor a local church, meaning I have no vested interest in telling you this, I’d ask you to please return to your church home. They need you, and you need them, too.

5.   The Best Ministry Partner

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson


Hands down, the craziest lesson I learned at Yellowstone in 2022 was a reminder of my trip in 1991. It was that summer, in the same park, that Jill and I dreamed very big. Standing on a ridge overlooking some tremendous lake, back to back, arms extended out as if to hug the world, one of us whispered, or either both of us said, “Lord, give us any who are hurting for Your Glory above all.”


What I didn’t realize back in 1991 (when that funny picture was taken), is how tough life can get, sometimes more often than not. And yet, life can still be incredibly sweet and rich when spent with the one you love.


Thirty-one years, four kids, and two dogs (Mr. Franks and Otie) later, I’ve still got the most treasured ministry partner of all.



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