Open Season, a Book Review, a Holiness Struggle

February 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, Devotional thoughts, Wisdom | 2 Comments

One of the books I read on vacation was C.J. Box, Open Season.  I had been told by some of my acquaintances from Wyoming that this series, about a Wyoming game warden is a good read.  It was a great and well-written story, but I struggled with it on a different level.  In the early part of the book, some friends of the main character, Joe Pickett, a married man committed to his family, were trying to convince him that sleeping with women other than his wife is a good thing.  Not that they had a conversation about it, but throughout the first third of the book, there were numerous comments directed that way.  That wouldn’t have been so bad, especially since the main character proved to be a man of integrity, but the discussions didn’t have to be so explicit.   At the same time I was reading the book, I was also reading through Leviticus and Numbers and noticing how God had a tougher standard of holiness for the priests.  Now I’m not a Jewish priest, but I do believe that God still sets certain people aside for special purposes.  So as a preaching pastor I should have a high standard of holiness.  I wondered, as I read a couple of portions of the book, whether I should be reading it at all.

Here is the struggle.  For novel reading, I could limit myself to only Christian fiction.  There are numerous books in that category that I have read and enjoyed, but I’ve also found some of them to be unreal; the characters are too good, and they don’t face real-life issues.  Yet in Open Season, I found a character who faced real-life temptation, as men often do, with the kinds of real-life discussions that men often have.  And he was a great role model in that he resisted those temptations.  All that sounds so good, but I was still put off by the explicit discussions.

I share this because maybe some of you have had the same debates in your own minds.  It is not about this one book in particular as much as it is about what standards we should set, about how to be in the world but not of the world.  Maybe some readers can comment on how they handle these matters.

With all that said, here are a few quotes from the book.  My Wyoming friends will appreciate the second and third ones.  The first one is fun, and the last one is very insightful.

Grandmother Missy had come to the conclusion that everyone in the family loved her lasagna.  The fact that no one finished dinner hadn’t changed her mind.  The truth was that the only person who liked Grandmother Missy’s lasagna was Grandmother Missy herself.  p. 212

Spring.  Or at least what passed for spring in Wyoming, a place with only three legitimate but not independent seasons: summer, fall, and winter.  Spring was something that occurred in other places, places where flowers pushed up from the soil during May when it warmed, places where leaves budded and opened on hardwood; places where flowers exposed themselves like sacrifices to the sun.  Places where it was unlikely that after those leaves and flowers emerged, 10 inches of heavy, wet, and unpredicted snow would fall and would cynically, sneeringly, kill every living thing in sight and stop all movement.  p. 269

Wyomingites, Joe had observed, didn’t know what to do when it rained except get out of it, watch it through the window, and wait for it to go away.  The same people who chained up all four tires and drove through horizontal snowstorms and bucked snowdrifts just to go have lunch in town during the winter had no clue what to do when it rained. . . .  Few people owned umbrellas.  Fewer yet would let themselves be seen with an umbrella open because it would appear urban and pretentious, and the only rain slickers he ever saw were rolled up neatly and tied to the backs of saddles, where they generally remained.  p.119

To hunt and fish in the State of Wyoming, Joe thought, people were required to buy licenses and, in some cases, pass tests that proved they knew how to use firearms and knew Game and Fish regulations. There were no such requirements for having children.  p. 157

Delight in the Lord

February 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Personal Testimony, Worship | Leave a comment

I have been on vacation for the past week.  My family had a winter retreat in Estes Park, which was a much needed time of rest and relaxation with no schedule for almost four days.  We played games, went on lazy walks and read; we enjoyed being surrounded by beautiful mountains; we saw some of the famous Estes Park elk herd just outside our back porch; we had a visit from some deer one morning; we disconnected from the computers and cell phones; we spent extra time in God’s Word and prayer.

One theme that came up in my devotion reading during our escape was the idea of delighting in God.  I started reading the first day in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (v4 ESV)  I have often seen attention given to the promise of this popular verse, but I focused, for a change, on the command, pondering what it means to actually delight in God.  I believe when we truly delight in him, he is one of the desires of our hearts that we are given.  On the second morning I read Psalm 40, “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” (v8)  I memorized this verse years ago in the NASB where “desire” is translated “delight,” and that connected to the previous day’s thought.  Finally on the third morning I read Psalm 42, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (vv1-2)  We should delight in God, delight to do God’s will, thirst for him and long for him.  Fortunately for me, I was, for a few days, in the perfect setting to do just that.

I pray this thirst for God will continue as I step back into real life and won’t be interrupted by the daily routines of jobs and ministry.  Take some time this week to just enjoy the presence of God, to delight in him and in his word.

Evolution — The Lighter Side

February 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have begun a series of sermons on the first eleven chapters of Genesis.  This has, of course, already brought out some interesting discussion about age of the universe, evolution, and similar topics.  Just to lighten things up a bit, I thought my readers might appreciate the following story.  If interested, you can find links to the sermons here.

A little girl asked her mother, “How did the human race appear?”  The mother answered, “God made Adam and Eve and they had children, and so was all mankind made.”

Two days later the girl asked her father the same question.  The father answered, “Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.”

The confused girl returned to her mother and said, “Mom , how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said they developed from monkeys?”  The mother answered, “Well, dear, it is very simple.  I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his.”

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.