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January 8, 2014

Close Encounters

In looking back on my outdoor adventures of the past year, one thing that stands out to me is the number of close encounters with creation that I was able to experience. I think back to early in the year crow hunting, and how several 'kamikaze' crows tried to get in the blind with my dad and me before we ended their raid within a few yards of our setup. I vividly recall one morning in the turkey woods a couple months later where 10 or more gobblers were sounding off all around my buddy and me at first light, and two strutters wound up coming in within ten yards of us. Even after smoking one of them, the other continued to stay right there by us, gobbling, strutting and stomping on his expired companion. I would be remiss if I failed to mention being just across the transom from white marlin that had just been tussled to the side of the Jesus Freak. And on those same offshore ventures videotaping bottlenose dolphins within feet of me on the bow as they showed off for the camera and even blew water up in my face! And then this fall, when that mature eight-pointer came into my setup at close range and I was able to keep my wits about me long enough to put him down. I'm not sure I can top how close I have been able to get to some of God's most awesome creations!

Psalm 145:18 (NASB)
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

'Getting close to critters' - that's Mossy Oak's famous catch phrase, and that's what outdoorsmen strive for each and every time we step into the great outdoors. Maybe you are coming off of an unforgettable year in the outdoors like myself. But maybe you spent a whole lot of time and effort this past year chasing after critters and came up empty. Well, we've all had seasons, even years, when it seems as though the fish and wildlife we are seeking after continually elude us. Despite our best efforts in researching, scouting, preparing and communicating with other outdoorsmen, we just aren't able to get close to the creatures that make up God's collective creation. And personally, all this running, going, doing, waiting and hoping is sometimes a reminder that I would benefit in redirecting some of my time and effort to drawing close to the Creator himself, rather than solely on all the different species of fish and wildlife that He has given to us.

Maybe you've had these same reminders, but after trying to connect with the Creator, you feel like He is still very distant, or maybe you even feel alienated from God. The Bible tells us that we draw near to God and remain in Him by obeying His commands and living in obedience. There will be times when we won't feel His presence, but we shouldn't let our emotions confuse us. God is with us wherever we go; God is faithful and His love for us endures forever. He has promised that He will be near to all that call upon His name, and that those that seek after Him with all their hearts will most certainly find Him.

One of the best ways to draw near to the Creator, to obey his commands and to live in obedience to Him is to read and meditate on His Word. The goal that I have set for myself in 2014 is to read my Bible daily, this year using a chronological format along with others at my church. Another excellent opportunity to grow closer to God is through attending a bible study with a small group of fellow believers. Beginning January 16th, I will be part of a study tailored for outdoorsmen titled 'Close Encounters'. This six-week study will be held at Green Top Sporting Goods from 7-8:30pm on Thursday evenings. I hope that you will consider joining me in one or both of these opportunities to have a close encounter with God in 2014. - GE

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