Back in the early ‘90’s, this place was silly with bucks,” Dave Newton told me once, “but things aren’t like they used to be.” I immediately mourned the passing of the early ‘90’s.

“I don’t think there’re any big fish up in Union Hill pond,” I commented to Ron Miller in my office this past week.

“My son caught a 6 lb. largemouth up there once,” he offered.

“Really?” I asked hopefully, already making a mental note for a future expedition.

“Yeah, but… that was years ago. Things aren’t like they used to be up there.”

If I had a buck (ha ha) for every time someone ended a story with that phrase in the last year, I’d be rich. But then again, the dollar ain’t what it used to be…

Why do things change? Why can’t we and our treasures and our surroundings or even the sacred stuff of memories elude decay, tarnish, rust, escape the melancholy observation of Psalm 144:4—“Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow…” Oddly enough, in case you’d rather not get your answers from the Bible, science has uncovered some clues as well. The second law of thermodynamics states that The quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time. Translation: Everything is slowly but surely falling apart and breaking down. Depressing? A little bit. But the evidence is overwhelming…

Consider the life spans of the ancients recorded in early Scripture. Genesis chapters 5,11 & 25 read like a helium balloon’s altitude status over the course of time – Adam lives for 930 years (!) and then dies. Shem, one of the sons of Noah, lives for 600 years before he dies. Shem’s great, great, great grandson Reu lives 239 years. And Reu’s great-great grandson, Abraham, lives 175 years before he “breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:8). Besides several slight variations, the life span of human beings in Scripture continues to plummet, and with increased velocity following the flood, the further away history wanders from The Garden. Why? Because the promise of sin was an unraveling of all life towards death, and human genetics echoes this heritage through a law that science corroborates: Matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time.’

Or consider Solomon, perhaps the most famous, wise and wealthy man in the history of our world. He was so famous, rulers from all corners of the known world knew of him, so wise that many of those rulers traveled thousands of miles just to listen to him and observe him in action, leading and teaching, including the Queen of Sheba herself (1 Kings 10)! And Solomon was rich, so much so that it is said he “excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom…and the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone (1 Kings 10)… What a success story. And yet, no sooner did the richest, wisest and most famous man on earth die, so also did the success of his vast empire as well, which ends up squandered and divided, so that by the end of the book of 2 Kings, king by successive king, there is nothing glorious left to speak of. The work of his hands has decayed, his great empire has fragmented, and his vast wisdom has died with him. Even the most successful human of all time fell prey to this world’s impermanence, because Matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time.’

Finally, consider the aftermath of medical intervention to heal a human body, even the aftermath of miraculous healings throughout the Bible-- they both end, eventually, in the re-sickness and/ or re-death of the patient. Why? This happens because, even though Biblical accounts of miraculous healing herald the ‘first-fruits’ of the restored kingdom of God on earth, they do not represent the presence of that kingdom in its fullness. Those of us who are ‘saved’ have privileged access to physical, spiritual and emotional renewal through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. But not until we rise to meet Him upon His return will we be able to fully escape the law of impermanence and experience instead the fullness of that regeneration– a body that never wearies, never sickens and never dies again. Until then—Matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time.’ Depressing? A little bit. But the implications are stunning…

“The implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics are considerable. The universe is constantly losing usable energy and never gaining. We logically conclude the universe is not eternal. The universe had a finite beginning -- the moment at which it was at "zero entropy" (its most ordered possible state). Like a wind-up clock, the universe is winding down, as if at one point it was fully wound up and has been winding down ever since. The question is who wound up the clock?

The theological implications are obvious. NASA Astronomer Robert Jastrow commented on these implications when he said, "Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the universe had a beginning, but astronomers are curiously upset. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence." (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 1978, p. 16.) 

Jastrow went on to say, "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." (God and the Astronomers, p. 116.) It seems the Cosmic Egg that was the birth of our universe logically requires a Cosmic Chicken” (…

The implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics point to the existence of a moment of creation, and by extension, to a Creator. Who is this Creator? Who wound up the clock? Who created the earth? Who?

5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?”

8 "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb…?”

25Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm…?”

29 “From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens…?”

36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? 37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens 38 when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?”…41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38)

Who? I think you know WHO. And here’s the kicker: He who set all things in motion cannot Himself be moved.  In a world where nothing is today exactly what it was yesterday, God stands unaffected by change. He is the ‘unmoved Mover.’ He is the ‘unchanged Changer.’ ‘He is the same, yesterday, today and forever’ (Heb. 13:8), He is the Immutable (unchanging) One. And the implications of HIS immutablity, the implications of HIS eternal permanence, carried out into the lives of you and I, are that His love will never cease towards us, His mercy will never age towards us, His power will never weaken in us, His promises will never stop applying to us, and His grace will never fail to surround us! He hates the sin that hurts you as much now as He did in eternity past and at the moment He conquered that sin on the cross, and He loves you as much today as He did in eternity past and on the day that He paid for your sin (past, present & future) on the cross. And that will never, ever, ever, EVER change.

Build your life on the Unchanging One.

19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

Surrounded By Grace,



So ~ I overhear a lot of funny stuff in my office. I'm not talking about private or confidential conversations-- No, I'm talking about the small-talk, the chit chat, the daily stories that pour through my doors and frolic, literally, in the airspace just behind my back between office visitors who think I'm busy working. And some of these stories are just so funny, I can't help but share them with you.

Now before you become unduly indignant or, if you live in Weaverville, decide never again to visit me at my office, please know that anything I share here, I do with permission (grudgingly or otherwise).  Besides, the names and circumstances surrounding these events have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Like the story of 'Franz,' the morgue worker. 

I was in the process of hacking out an email I'd been avoiding for a couple days when I overheard 'Franz,' in the lounge chair behind me, recounting to his friend 'Vladic' a tale of humor and woe. 

It seems that our story began when Franz, employed by a morgue and having successfully taken a certain nameless corpse to an x-ray appointment, began to exit the x-ray establishment. Wheeling said corpse back out of the building towards the waiting hearse, Franz shared his sense of sudden foreboding as he struggled to get the legs of the collapsable gurney to fold up for re-transport to the morgue. "They wouldn't," he said. This produced frustration. "So I kicked the wheels," Franz continued.

At this point in the story, Vladic revealed some measure of mutual frustration by grunting with understanding. He too, apparently, was well-acquainted with the troublesome nature of corpe-carrying morgue gurneys. Shielded from view and still pretending to type, I raised an eyebrow.
"But that's just how that gurney was," Franz appealed, to no jury in particular-- "I was always having to kick it to get it to function properly." 
"Of course," encouraged Vladic. I stared with concentration at the blinking cursor on my screen in order to keep from nodding my head in thoughtless agreement. 'Of course' I echoed in head.

"Then what happened?" Vladic prompted. 'Yes, yes' my head again echoed.
"Well," said Franz, "normally, kicking it worked." This time, however, it seemed to have worked overly well. With a deafening crash, the gurney responded to Franz' karate kick by slamming into the back of the hearse, rebounding slightly back towards him, and then dropping like a stone to the concrete below... body bag in tow. Grabbing frantically at the entire collapsing assembly in a vain attempt to save the day, Franz succeeded only in witnessing human flight of an unwanted sort as the body bag fulfilled Newtons third law of motion, bouncing back towards the heavens with an awkward sort of grace. Mercifully, when its maiden flight had ended, the corpse settled back onto the gurney.

It was at this point in his story, as an incredulous gasp escaped my lips, that the eyes of Franz and Vladic swiveled my way, and I knew the jig was up. Franz, however, clearly unfazed by my now obvious eavesdropping, welcomed his new audience and continued without missing a beat. "That was bad," he said, "but it got worse..." His little gurney adventure had taken place in a public parking lot and, instinctively, he'd glanced around to assess how much trouble he would be in. That's when he saw the old lady from the building next door, leaning against a back wall on a smoke break and staring, one cigarette-clutching hand frozen halfway to her opened mouth. "I was frazzled," Franz reminisced, "but she looked worse." Which is why Franz then looked at the lady and uttered absolutely the only thing that would come into his head: "If we had the right equipment, stuff like this wouldn't happen." 

Through what I am sure are unrelated events, Franz no longer works at the morgue.


I missed a buck this weekend... and it hurts.  Laugh if you like—I get that it’s trivial. But know this: hunting is like love.

I risked and I failed at something that’s important to me. And over and over I’m told, ‘well, at least you got to see a buck; the other day you were whining about not seeing anything— isn’t this better than seeing no bucks at all?’ Or, ‘But at least you got a shot at it–- isn’t that better than not getting the chance at all?’ And immediately I want to snap at them and say ‘No.’ ‘No, it would have been better to never have seen the blasted buck at all.’ And that’s how I truly feel, initially. But it’s not objectively true. Because really, if I was forced to think about it, I am glad. I am grateful. And I’m better for it…

Hunting is like love.

When a man goes hunting, he puts his reputation on the line. He puts his pride on the line. He puts his manhood on the line. To many men, hunting is a test of all these things, and it’s a sink or swim proposition. No guts, no glory. Hunting is a risky undertaking for a man. But so is anything worthwhile. So is love.

When a man thinks he’s in love, if he’s any kind of man at all, he’ll risk open rebuke to get beyond the wish of a woman. And if he gets that rebuke? Well, his friends will think they’re helping by saying ridiculously true things like, ‘But at least you got a shot at her – isn’t that better than not getting the chance at all?’ And the man will think, ‘No. No, it would have been better never to have met her.’ But if allowed a little time to heal, a little distance, and perhaps even a smidge of pity, he might just eventually agree with that famous line from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem— “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Why? Because, despite the losing, he still has loved, and despite the failing, he’s still put forth his best.  It’s a better thing because, despite the pain of failure, he’s effectively quashed the nagging leech of ‘what if?’ through the only means truly possible-- he's taken what he has and put it on the line.

This is what happens when a grown man fails to impale a deer with a straight length of razor-tipped carbon guided by plastic feathers–- he waxes philosophical about the deep things of life. Call it a coping mechanism, I don’t care— if something’s discovered to be ‘True,’ it’s true despite the medium of discovery— and what I’ve discovered to be true through the mediums of hunting and love is that risk is often the secret to eventual success, rather than the end of it. Because when you risk, you either succeed or, by failing, narrow down the number of land mines to step on the next time around.

Matthew West, a popular Christian artist, writes these lyrics about living a risk-filled life for God in his song called ‘The Motions:’

I don't wanna go through the motions

I don't wanna go one more day

without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,

“What if I had given everything,

instead of going through the motions?"

Hunting is like love. And like life…

Never risk, never know.

Never fail, never grow.

Surrounded By Grace,
*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~