Why you should listen to the Guide

I’ll throw a few numbers at you to give us a starting point.  Say you find yourself wanting to chase an elk anywhere in the mountains. Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, it doesn’t matter where.  The odds of you being successful and taking an elk are not in your favor.  Most areas give a hunter less than a 15% chance of shooting an elk.  But if we look at hunters who use a guide, you are looking at an average that I would say is safely above 90%. Why the drastic difference? 

Before you go there, this is not an article persuading you to drop some money on a guided hunt.  When a hunter decides to go on a non-guided hunt he is already at a disadvantage. He isn’t aware of how the animals have been reacting to weather, how the pressure from other hunters is affecting the wildlife and may very well never have even set foot in the area that he is planning on hunting in.  Guides make their living understanding animal movements by being in the field.  Field time and experience in understanding certain areas goes a long way in increasing success rates. In turn, we can share our knowledge with our hunters and help them increase their success rate at that exact moment, and for every adventure they embark on in the future.  I for one can tell you that there is nothing more intimidating than looking at a mountain and figuring out how you are going to get in range of the quarry you are after.  So how can you increase your chances of being successful? By repetition and seeking advice.  

Last season, I was in the field guiding elk hunts for 45 days.  I was on 20 shots and 15 kills to give you reference.  Now granted, I was in an area that had a very high density of elk and little pressure from other hunters, but elk are still elk.  It is a hard thing to get within range of a wild animal in its natural habitat.  Given that I have been guiding hunting trips for 7 years now, I have seen my fair share of successful trips.  There are many men and women who have been at it longer than me, but 7 years is a long time.  The more repetitions I have been able to have and the more experience I have been able to obtain has helped me do my job better.  I have also had plenty of men and women show me the ropes on how to be a successful guide.  A guide’s job is to put his client on an animal that is a perfect representation of what he wants and provide an opportunity for the client to take a shot on that animal.  If you can’t consistently do that, you won’t be a guide for very long.

All this to say, why would you set a goal and not seek advice from someone who has been there, done that.  If you want to learn how to become a good hunter, why wouldn’t you ask questions from veteran hunters or guides?  The same goes for your walk with the Lord.  The Lord is the “ultimate Guide” and also has many other “apprentice guides” working under him.  Some of these are easily seen through our pastors at church and others can be seen throughout your community.  Our “ultimate Guide” has experienced every hurt and pain this world has to offer, and He knows what you are feeling.  His “apprentice guides” have experienced and are experiencing the same pains and hurts and are walking with their Guide to find healing from these knowing that He makes good of all things. Not seeking advice and playing the victim card in your walk with the Lord makes you just an “okay” Christian.  When a hunter goes out into the field, he doesn’t look to be just an “okay” hunter and fill his tag every once in a while.  He wants to be a great hunter and be successful in his pursuits.  It’s not “okay” to just be an “okay” Christian.

Going about life with that 15% success rate is not how we should live our lives for Christ.  What a waste that would be. There are many guides out there who can help you with your walk rather that be physically, spiritually or mentally.  Even us guides in the hunting world need help and seek advice from outside sources.  Listen to the “ultimate Guide” first and in doing that He will place “apprentice guides” in your life who will help you on your journey.

Guided hunts take an investment from a hunter but increase the success rates.  Giving your life to Christ takes an even greater investment but gives you a 100% success rate on this most important adventure you will ever embark on. Maybe it’s time you listened to the Guide and made that investment.   

How a good guide deals with a change in plans

My current view while writing these few words consists of 2 whitetail deer feeding about 120 yards from me.Birds of all kinds are letting their existence be known. It is unseasonably chilly here in West Texas as we have had some heavy rainstorms and northern winds blow through the past few days. With everything that is going on in the world, this place is truly peaceful.

Undoubtedly you are tired of hearing about the current world news and have been affected by it in some form or fashion. I admit that these current times make me even more impatient for September when I can escape to the mountains to chase after elk. When September comes, I brace myself for the many ups and downs that come with the long season. As soon as I believe that I have everything figured out, something on the mountain changes, and makes me look like a fool. Daily things in life are just the same. Just when we think that we have this whole life thing figured out, it throws a wrench into what we feel are our perfect plans. Our own life goals and plans are so limited to what we are capable of.  

Isaiah 55:8-9 “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways,” declares the Lord. “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

As plans almost always change, I wanted to share a few habits that separate a bad guide from a good guide when change happens in the field. There are many different times in a person’s life when they have a fight or flight moment. A good guide always fights. 

1. A good guide is versatile

To be a good guide, you must be versatile. Able to make changes on the fly and adapt to situational circumstances. Most successful hunts have a few twists and turns that were not expected. When these twists and turns happen, a guide does not just sit down on a log and let the day go on. A guide takes what he is given and makes the best out of it. A guide’s job is to make his hunter successful, or at the very least, provide an opportunity for that hunter to be successful. If there was a known outcome or if there was a 5-step process of where to go and what to do to kill an elk, the hunt would be much less enjoyable. 

2. A good guide takes action

A good guide can look at a mountain and form a plan of action. That plan changes with different wind directions, changes in weather, changes in animal location, and many other factors. Once the plan is in place, and the guide has made progress, everything that he was confident in can be thrown out the door as a new situation presents itself. Any moment where a guide doesn’t take action is a failure on his part. To be successful, you must take the initiative and know-how to carry out a plan. If there were a verse that was meant for hunting guides, it would be this one: 

Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope;be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.”

3. A good guide recognizes what he has

The one thing that I love about being a hunting guide is that even on the worst of days in the field, I am still a hunting guide. What I consider as one of the best jobs on the planet is what I can do. I can say the same about having a relationship with Christ. At the end of even the worst days, I know that all things work together for His good. As I move through my many seasons, questions arise about what my purpose is and how I am supposed to fulfill that purpose with my current circumstances. Yet, with all of this uncertainty, I know I have the greatest gift that anyone could receive. The gift of love, forgiveness, and eternal salvation, and I have the ability to spread those gifts with everyone.  

4. A good guide is comfortable in uncomfortable situations

While I am “on the clock” with my guiding jobs, I really could care less about what kind of weather or what other circumstances are going on that could affect my comfort in the field. I am aware of what my job is and know what I must do to accomplish that job. A good guide must make it a habit of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. As we all go into this season of discomfort, many of us will decide to be stagnant and just ride it out. That is not what we are made to do because if we aren’t moving forward, we are going backward. There is no middle ground. You know what areas you are lacking in and have the available time and resources to work on those areas. Netflix and Disney+ won’t fix any of your issues. Perhaps what we all need is to face a little discomfort to appreciate those times of real comfort. Even the best guides get tired and need rest. There is no shame in struggling to find purpose or the encouragement required to fight on. At some point in our lives, we will need to find peace and rest, and there is only one way to do that: 

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

How to be an Instrument

Before you read this, ask yourself this question: what was one solid point that I took away from the last sermon, podcast, etc. that I listened to? 

If you have gone this far as too click on a link that brought you here to my page, here are three points I will make in this piece that will help you be an instrument for noble purposes: 

                                                          1. Be prepared

                                                          2. Be disciplined 

                                                          3. Refuse timidity 

If that is all you read of this page, then at least you have laid just a tiny bit of a foundation in coming to realize how you can be an instrument for noble purposes. But if that is all you ever do, then you are from being an instrument, and saying that you are such is a lie.

   Be Prepared

I would be willing to bet that most people are familiar with the parable of the sower in the Bible. The short scoop is that a dude goes out and plants seeds on a path, in the rocks, in the thorns, and on the soil. I have heard that passage so many times and it always resonated with me in a surface level experience. It wasn’t until I asked myself the question that I put at the beginning of this article. I didn’t have a clue as to what my preacher had talked about the last Sunday. Reading through Mathew 13 a couple of weeks ago, I came up with the realization that, for the most part, the “church” is not prepared. We are just like Mathew 13 in that we hear God speaking and do one of the following: 1. We hear the message, don’t understand it, and don’t seek answers 2. We hear the message, receive it with joy, but quickly discard it 3. We hear the message, but the worries of life, money, and all of this world’s physical things take priority and choke out what God is trying to say to us. 

Most of us just go to church to get our weekly fill of Jesus in and proceed on with our life. No wonder the church gets a bad name. No wonder so many people thinks Christians are passive, timid and weak. We don’t prepare ourselves to wage war. If we are to call ourselves instruments, we have to prepare for the known so that the unknown can be conquered. To accomplish this, we must receive the word and soak it in like fertile soil that is watered continuously and tended to. We must be ready to be an instrument for noble purposes in and out of season. Evil doesn’t care what season you are in; it will prey on you like a wolf.  It is out there waiting to hit us at our weakest point, and if we aren’t prepared, we will fall. Don’t let that wolf catch you. Prepare yourself to be an instrument for spiritual warfare. 

Be Disciplined 

Being well prepared leads to being well disciplined. There are two different angles in this point that I have found that are necessary; we must 1. Be disciplined in what we do, and 2. Must be able to accept discipline.

As everyone knows, discipline sucks. Straight up. No matter how skilled you become, discipline always hurts. Hebrews 12:11 says it perfectly: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” By choosing to follow after Christ, you are consciously making a decision that will demand you to remain disciplined and require you to be disciplined. Following Christ doesn’t make discipline any easier, but it gives us a foreseeable goal to which we can strive towards. This makes any form of discipline worthwhile. Men and women show their power by being self-disciplined. Now being self-disciplined requires that we be strategic in our actions. We cannot just “run aimlessly or fight like a man beating the air” for a season and then come out and say that we have prepared for spiritual warfare. You may be prepping for a hundred-meter dash when God has a marathon waiting for you, or you may be prepping to fight someone in your weight class when God has a heavyweight champ he wants you to take on. Discipline takes preparation. We must make our body a slave to preparation and discipline because the body will fight us. Your soul is willing to take on these challenges, but the body is weak. 

We cannot be an instrument for noble purposes if we do not humble ourselves to be self-disciplined for the Lord and to receive his discipline humbly. 

Refuse Timidity

By preparing yourself and finding discipline, we must wage war against our body’s worldly desires. This is not a 3-step program, and this 3rd point is not the summit of the previous two. If you think that by doing these first two points that you will somehow reach your end goal, you are far off my friend. Only by preparing yourself and staying disciplined over and over and over again will you achieve your real end goal when Christ calls you home. For some people, this means 90+ years of service, and for others, it only involves 1 week of service. (If that previous sentence confuses you, read the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Mathew 20.) We don’t know how long we have on this earth, and thus life is too short to live in a state of timidity. Come to the Lord with the description that is found in 2nd Samuel 17:8, where David’s pursuers describe he and his men like “fighters as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs.” If you have never seen a momma bear with her cubs, I can assure you that you do not want to be the object that is in between her and her little ones as you would soon feel overwhelmed, to say the least. By preparing yourself and staying disciplined with an attitude that refuses timidity, the areas in your life that you and your peers see as spiritually weak will change over time. You will begin to see those areas change and over time will be able to say I was once weak, but have been made strong. This is a process. Don’t be scared of the process, for as soon you become proud of yourself; humility will fall in your lap.   

To sum up this short read, know that what you do today reflects on tomorrow. Your actions today may seem insignificant, but somewhere down the road, you will either reap the rewards or consequences of your efforts from the past. Life is too short to act timidly, and every day is precious. 

We are not promised tomorrow, so don’t put off being an instrument for noble purposes today.