< June 28/2017 was our 60th wedding anniversary. To celebrate we went down east to our roots. In returning we stopped in the Montreal area to visit the French Canadian couple I’d discipled, married, and trained the husband, Pierre, to replace me as pastor of a French congregation in Montreal. I had to learn a second language, and by God’s good grace I became as fluent in French as in English. (I’m the guy on the right for those who don’t know.)
I’ve been a student of practical psychology… of personalities in particular. Both my professional life and interests demanded it. Then, early on in Christian ministry I studied “Unnatural Psychology”, you know the stuff about diseased minds. Those studies pointed out that everyone, as the famed British pastor Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) of the London Tabernacle put it: “Everyone is just a little off the balance” – in his weekly lecture to his seminary students he made that memorable statement. But in practical psychology a normal person is “one who can function in society in a productive way”, no matter their temperament or circumstances. I’ve basically endorsed that view in what will officially soon be 64 years of marriage and ministry as husband, pastor, teacher and missions leader. As one M.D., whom I got to know as organist at a church where I was preaching in the Montreal area on an interim basis in English, said to me and my wife at their home for lunch after the Sunday morning service, “There are people of whom we should not have unwarranted expectations.” That was said in reference to a particular woman in that congregation who had obvious emotional and mental problems, but was also very outgoing and friendly.
Where am I going with this? Over those nearly sixty-four years of marriage and ministry, I’ve had to mature in understanding and growth in knowledge and its practical application to not just survive as a married man, father, teacher and model for others, but as “one who can function in society in a productive way”, to show that I’m “a normal person” both to myself as well as to those who knew me. But that wouldn’t or couldn’t have happened if I’d resisted changes in attitude and behaviour.
Having said that, I must add there are some matters that remain non-negotiable: I still believe The BIBLE is God’s word to humans in the original texts. Of course, we don’t have those but we do have honest translations from Hebrew and Greek in all common languages that are reliably based on thousands of ancient manuscripts in those languages plus Chaldean. Then there are several other ancient translations based on copies of the original texts that are available to honest scholers to such an extent that 99.9% of the original texts can be verified. But we don’t worship “the Ark” (the Bible) but the ONE and ONLY of whom it speaks! And who speaks out of it! I also honor marriage, as it was ordained by the Creator. Christain VALUES as taught in the New Testament, and practiced by the early, first century church, is both taught and expected in practice by today’s true Christians. Where REAL Christians live today in hostile cultures and environments, they do so with potential loss of their lives. And many, even today, pay that price! And you will not learn about that in today’s media outlets that generally consider “Christianity” non-relevant… and of course, “Christianity” as a huge umbrella includes atheists and others who deny The Scriptures and both the God of the Bible and the Christ of whom both the Old and New testaments bear witness. < For a better view, right click on images, then left click on “open in new tab”, finally left click on “new tab”.
So, while I reject the idea of “Christianity” as a united witness to the Gospel, I am a Christian who has hope for eternal salvation in “The Jesus Christ”, son of God, who died on a Roman cross as Redeemer and an atonement for MY sins, past, present and future, assuring forgiveness and the hope of eternal life! (The Gospel of John ch 3, vs 16). And there are, even today, countless millions who still hold firmly to that “Faith once for all” time delivered to His people! And that number is growing rapidly in places like China, the Middle East and in other hostile environments… you’ll not hear about that either on CNN or the CBC, both atheistic, secular-humanistic channels of “truth” according to their gods of humanism and materialism! I’m human and live in a material world, but it’s another matter entirely to be “humanistic” and “materialistic”! That’s to live as if the Eternal God doesn’t matter or exist… and to worship material things as though they were gods!
So there are “matters” that matter most! My personal trust in the Creator and sustainer of life itself, and his love for me is the primary reason of living. And my response to that? Should it be anything less than total trust in and surrender to Him? That’s true worship: To love God above everything else! That’s not only a commandment, that we in ourselves cannot keep, but the supreme reason for doing so is because He alone makes that not only possible but real in the lives of those who fully trust Him no matter their external circumstances! And that’s been proven too many times to be anything but truth and reality. Jesus declared: “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No one comes to The Father except through me.” (The Gospel of John ch.14, vs 6).
If I testified to many personal experiences where God himself has showed up in my mundane life, yes even in handloading and hunting, many would say “Bob has lost his marbles”, or “he has become like one of those he just wrote about in ‘Unnatural Psychology'”! But explain to me how my requests (prayer) for help in handloading and hunting were precisely fulfilled immediately. And it was NOT just a random or occasional thing… or ONLY in that aspect of my life? If I didn’t know what I had experienced, knowing only human psychology as I do, I’d only try to give a “human” or rationalistic answer! And I’ve already experienced that, even from some “Christians” who say they pray! Now “prayer” according to Jesus and the prophets and apostles who wrote the Scriptures, is NOT mumble-jumble repetition of a religious mantra! Jesus spoke against that! But prayer is part of fellowship with God and His Son by the Holy Spirit… Jesus said so! It’s talking with God, thanking Him, confession of need, petition for others and making requests. If we don’t expect anything to happen… well, it probably won’t! There are physical laws and spiritual laws, the ONE who made both lets the laws of gravity do its work (unless he intervenes) and has established this law: “He who comes to God must believe that He exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him”. “Earnestly” = honestly and sincerely. If we don’t think (believe) there’s anyone “up there”, we won’t get help or answers from “up there”! Unless we admit: “I just don’t know!” – and sincerely ask if there’s anyone “there”… and search for answers — but, oooops, “That’s against my religion!” is all that some can come up with! Do we really want change in society? And where does that begin? Or with whom? Who discovered the Newtonian laws? Did they come by night in a vision to Sir Isaac? Jesus said “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened.” So let’s not blame “Christianity” if we don’t hear from God!
I was in a tree stand watching a bear bait at 125 yards. I’d been there alone for a few hours on a very nice afternoon, but was bored. It so happened that I didn’t necessarily want to shoot a bear but was having quiet communion with my Father above. I simply mentioned in this fellowship with him that “It would be nice to see some wildlife…” In less than a minute or two at the most, two deer walked out of the trees, to midway across the old farm pasture directly in front of me at about 100 yards — a doe and a buck. Luck? Chance? Whatever you might like to think or say about it, in my place what would you be inclined to think? Especially in light of this fact: I’d been bear hunting those pastures on this farm for several years and that was a first! First sighting of any whitetails on that farm! But that’s not all: There was another first! Less than 1/2 hr later I had an urge to turn to my blind right side where a trail went between tree lines down to a lower field… I rarely ever did that, and there broadside stood a coyote about fifty yards to my right! Not only was that a first but also the last sighting of a coyote in that location. All that in mid-day!
< These are pics I took on that occasion. There is a buck following the doe but partially hidden by brush near the mid-left side of this pic.
So, change for its own sake is not a part of my psyche! I’ll not subtract or add something different or new tomorrow because its different or new, but only because it’s better or best! My Creator knows me better than I know myself, since He made me, and knows what’s best FOR ME! (Psalm 139). As a result, I’ve gotten to know Him better in the last few years of my life than ever from preaching or teaching about Him only… Many supposedly know theology (the study of God) but don’t therefore of necessity know Him! (Matthew’s Gospel, ch 7, vs 22 – 23). They may be so-called “scholars”, but after these many years of experiencing God, I’m certain that my mother knew him better than most “scholars” with their PH’Ds.
What does all this infer? If that were the only such encounter in real life, before or since, I might be inclined to dismiss it as coincidental, but there are two compelling factors for not doing so: First, that was far from the only personal involvement in and observation of events as they occured, and secondly, even if it were the only one, I’m accountable for what I learned from that one test of reality. Faith (trust) was involved — I KNEW God hears me when I call on Him or talk to Him! That’s the key – “Without faith it is impossible to please God” — in that same scripture quoted above from the 11th chapter, verse 6 of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.
Not only does that (those) experience(s) confirm the Scriptures to be true, but that God Himself, the Creator of all that exists, is eternally committed to those (individuals) who believe in Him. (John’s Gospel ch. 17). That in turn means that God is sovereignly and directly involved in the day to day (mundane) affairs of those who by faith depend on Him. They know they are not “God” or gods who believe they can do-it-all by themselves. That’s why Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”. And “Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. And to one of the Jewish members of the Sanhedrin (The ruling council that condemned Jesus to crucifixion) named Nicodemus: “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
So, I expect God to “be there” when I call on Him!
When I started to reload my 9.3 x 62, using a new powder and bullet in it’s second year, very inconsistent muzzle velocities (MVs) were showing on my Chrony from week to week in May, 2012 from the same loads. Serious tension was being experienced as I’d published the first results from RL-17 in combo with the 286gr Nosler. I still vividly recall the angst of possibly getting others into serious trouble as a result of publishing those initial results. Sitting at the dining-room table, after dinner, I silently cried out to the LORD “Please show me what those results should be”. That was from the same load that was all over the map but showing no signs of extreme PSI. The early spring weather was very variable, and I was going to the range early mornings when the sun was barely above the horizon, and often cloudy that would later change to clear skies. The answer was given clear as a bell: 2546 fps for the 286gr Nosler. I was previously getting numbers as high as 2700 fps! The following week I went to the range with the same load under clear skies, and here are the results: 2543, 2514, 2535, 2544 and 2552 = 2537.6 +9 for correction to MV =2546.6 fps. That was May 14/12, Temp @ 15*C/60*F. On July 3, temp @ 18*C/64*F, the same load averaged 2549.6 fps corrected to MV.
Because that load of 68 grains of RL-17 showed no signs of excess pressure, but was consistent even though the Chrony was not, under variable physical conditions, I upped the load by two additional grains and have safely used that load since. God knew what I didn’t at the time — that the load of 68 grains at 2546-2549 was completely safe and a good load, and He wanted me to know it to.
I involve God, the Lord of Heaven and earth, in all my thinking and doing. I’m wrong sometimes but He never is! I’m learning to trust HIM in everything! That has brought about changes in everyday thinking and living no matter the context.
If you’re content without God in your life, then the most meaningful changes will not happen, and you will never know what you’re missing!
On a lovely early-fall evening there were a group of men sitting outside on the front lawn of one of the elders of our church. We were discussing some Scriptures from the Bible. In our midst was an atheist friend of the host. He politely listened to the friendly discussion until he felt it necessary to declare his unbelief in the Bible and God. We all previously knew who he was and his beliefs. At that point I interjected by stating we were cognizant of his beliefs, and I added: “So you don’t believe in God and therefore I assume that you believe no prayer addressed to him in Jesus name has ever been answered over the ensuing millennia, and precedent to Abraham, til today. You don’t look like God to me, and you would have to be God to know that no prayer has ever been answered by the millions who have called on Him. Since you’re not God, you’re quite arrogant in stating that you know such and such about God, who doesn’t exist in your experience…”
We need to be very careful as to what we think we know…
< In adding 12 fps for correction to the muzzle of my Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT, the 500gr Hornady was leaving the muzzle at 2210 fps/ 5422 ft-lbs
In 2008 I knew that my .458 Win Mag could fire the 500gr Hornady at 2200 fps because of two facts” 1- I’d experienced it in my Ruger #1 in .45-70 LT with a 22″ barrel at safe psi using H-335 powder; and 2- I’d experienced it again in my CZ550 .458 Win Mag with it’s 25″ barrel using the same gun powder. Not only that, but it achieved 2283 fps from the same 500gr using H-4895 powder. At the time (2008 – 2013) there were more nay-sayers than yea-sayers! Today (2021) I know that a 24″ barrel in a Ruger No.1, .458 Win will surpass 2300 fps from the same bullet as well as some other 500s. < In late May, 2019, this was recorded from a 500gr Hornady fired from my Ruger No.1 in .458 Win Mag at 15′ from the Chrony. Corrected to MV = 2317 fps/ 5960 ft-lbs. The load was 81 grains of H4895 in Winchester brass, ignited by a WLRM primer. Temp was +12*C/ 59*F. COL = 3.56″
I know that from my own experience as well as from the prodigious work of Dr. Ron Berry. And now others are doing the same! The witness of one or two counts for truth! “One with God is a majority” – said by the original Martin Luther. But before Luther ever decided to step out on that truth, Jesus said the same in the Gospel of John: “I and my Father are one”. “He bears testimony of who I am, and the works that I do bear witness to the same truth.”
Do you really believe what you think you believe because you want to be seen as right based solely on a majority opinion, or because it’s TRUE?
Pilate, the Roman Governor, who twice stated in the public trial of Jesus that “I find no cause for his judgement”, then asked “What is truth?” when TRUTH was staring him in the face! Pilate then handed Jesus over to the religious leaders of a mob to be crucified because he feared the people. If you’re not aware, that’s a most significant part of the Easter message! The rest is the resurrection of the One crucified! God vindicated the One who was TRUTH!
What does the world, it’s culture and ethics, look to for vindication? God? “Nah, he’s a relic of the past, away with him, crucify him! Who needs him?”
I DO! And, just like the historic Martin Luther of the sixteenth century, if I were the only one, with God I’d still be in the majority!
A veteran missionary from Toronto, Canada, was on one of his many trips to India via an ocean liner. Each morning, as the sun was rising, he was on deck taking his daily exercises in a brisk walk. A lady was also on deck in a deck chair, watching him go by she abruptly stopped him with this spontaneous explosion of words:”Mister, who do you think you are anyway, walking on this ship as though you owned it!” His energetic and spontaneous reply was, “Lady, my Father owns the water this ship is sailing on!” He was known as the “Billy Graham of India”. He was fluent in several Indian languages and experienced many miracles during a lifetime of ministry there. For added interest, and fitting for a blog that shares hunting stories, his last name was “FOX”. My fiance’ and I were Bible college students at the time when he preached to us in chapel and shared stories of his adventures in India. He was energetic, joyful, praiseful, and a lover of his wife! He was sure of being in the majority when his Father owned the water the ship was sailing on! “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine” — the BIBLE.
ALL OF THE ABOVE, WITHOUT APOLOGY, IS A PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE TRUE EASTER MESSAGE — GOD, THROUGH CHRIST, INVOLVED IN THE EVERYDAY LIFE OF ANYONE WHO TRULY BELIEVES HIM. AND THAT’S A STEP BEYOND MERELY BELIEVING THAT HE EXISTS!
Til the next… Rifle cartridge classifications.