What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Seriously, I want to know who decides the "rules" for "bushcrafting".

I have been an outdoorsman most of my 56 years. My very earliest memories are of going fishing with my Dad and my Uncle, and family camping trips. I did my time in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I've done overnight backpacking trips. I've floated countless streams. I've caught just about every kind of fish that exists in Missouri and Illinois waters, and eaten most of them. I've done more solo camping trips than I can even begin to count. I can build a fire a dozen different ways, and cook more dishes on a campfire than many can on a kitchen stove.

Admittedly, much of this is in the past, and because of current and chronic health issues most of it will have to remain in the past. But that doesn't take away my qualifications for doing this little rant.

I recently watched a delightful young man (with autism) try to make his first fire with a ferro rod. It was a damp and windy day, and his fire materials were not ideal. Yep, he "failed", and he had to use a Bic lighter to get it going. And he apologized for "cheating". Friends, that is NUTS! Why should this young man, just starting out on his first outdoors adventures, think that he had somehow "cheated" by using a lighter?

I also recently watched another person, a woman outdoorsmanperson, carve a beautiful spoon with a really whimsical look to it, and sort-of-apologize that it wasn't really a "bushcraft" spoon. Says who?

I have kibbitzed on countless Facebook debates concerning the difference between "bushcraft" and "woodscraft" and "outdoorsmanship" and "camping" and several other terms. These things can get downright heated, as the keyboard commandos and internexperts get their grooves on.

The last I heard, there was no governing authority over our hobbies. There are a few widely respected, almost legendary, individuals such as Mors Kochansky and Ray Mears still around. But there is no person or group of persons that has the right to tell you or I how or how not to camp, what gear we can and can't use, what method is acceptable and what isn't. Nobody!

Mitch Mitchell, of the Native Survival YouTube channel and History Channel's "Alone" fame, thinks that friction fire such as a bowdrill is the ultimate fire-making skill, because it requires absolutely no unsustainable materials, no matches, ferro rods, no chemicals, not even pieces of steel. But he also carries a lighter and flint-and-steel most of the time. So is he "cheating"? Is he violating his own dictum? No, of course not. Sure, if you can master a bowdrill fire, you are pretty much set even if you find yourself completely naked. A sharp rock to shape your kit, a little natural cordage for the drill, and you'll have fire. Doesn't mean it is wrong to carry and use alternative means. It isn't breaking a "rule".

I just watched another guy fly a tarp over his tent, as added protection during a rain-storm. And he all but apologized for it, because it "usually isn't done". So what? Did it work? Did it serve to keep him and his gear dry and comfortable during a storm? Then WHY should it be considered "wrong"?

Bottom line is this, people. There are certain rules of safety that of course we should all follow. Boil your drinking water. Cut away from your body. Don't look down the barrel of a gun. Don't eat a plant unless you are positive that it is not poisonous. Keep your matches dry. Don't break through the ice to go swimming. You get the point.

There are certain rules of physics that can't be violated. Gravity hurts, so don't fall down holes or out of trees. Crap rolls downhill. Heavy crap rolls downhill faster. Don't stand and wait for it to magically go around you. Whatever goes up, must come down. Don't be underneath it. Again, you get the point.

Then, there are certain temporary rules put into place for a specific time and reason. These usually involve skills challenges. Can you build a sustainable fire in the rain using just your ax and locally found resources and no other tool? Can you put together a kit that in the aggregate weighs no more than five pounds and then spend at least 24 hours out in the woods with only that kit and the clothes on your back? These kind of challenges and little games can be a lot of fun and educational for everybody involved.

But to start declaring general and arbitrary rules that are supposed to be "for everybody" is just plain ridiculous!

People, get out into the woods and fields. Stay safe. Have fun. Enjoy the beautiful nature that God has given to us. Take photos. Draw and paint pictures. Use whatever gear you have or want, and don't listen to those that say you MUST have this or that, or that you CANNOT use this or that. There is just not enough time for that kind of crap in my life, and I suspect not in yours, either.

OK, done ranting.

God bless!
Ron and the Debster

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Don't simply make the world a better place to go to hell from.

Matt 28:18-20 ESV: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority iin heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Great Commission that Jesus gave to His church is to make disciples, or learners / followers, in all nations, baptizing and teaching obedience. We are to preach the gospel of repentance and salvation. It is a theological gospel, a "soteriological" gospel, NOT a social gospel. We are to point people to Jesus, and guide them on the way to spending eternity with Jesus. And although part and parcel of our life as a Christian is to be compassionate and loving to all, that does NOT mean that our purpose is to make the world a pleasant pit-stop on the way to hell.

Abortion is a heinous sin, the cold-blooded murder of an unborn infant, and should be treated as such. Yet even if we reverse Roe v. Wade and outlaw every kind of abortion, as we should, we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

If we build and staff and fund and operate free health clinics on every block in every city, and heal every injury, we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

If we provided food, clothing, shelter, and health care to every orphaned or homeless child in the world, that would be a wonderful thing, yet we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

All of these things, and many others, are good and wonderful things. Yet the net result of those things by themselves is simply to make the world a better place from which to go to hell.

Christian, by all means go out into the world and do good. But do not use the gospel as an excuse to just do good. Or worse, do not allow doing good to replace the gospel of salvation. Use your good works to reach people with the gospel! 

Heal their physical wounds, and introduce them to the Great Physician.

Soothe their troubled minds, and introduce them to the Wonderful Counselor.

Feed their bellies, and introduce them to the Bread of Life.

Be a Scout leader, and introduce them to the One who said to bring the children to Him.

March in front of an abortion clinic, and introduce them to the One who formed them in the womb.

Be an arbitrator bringing together squabbling parties, and introduce them to the Prince of Peace.

Use this new year of 2016 to serve a desperate and needy people both body AND soul!

God bless you all
Ron and the Debster

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions? Are you KIDDING me?

image downloaded from Google Images
New Year's Resolutions. I gave up on them years ago. I have no will power; just ask the Debster, she'll tell you.

I do, however, look at it this way. I am not perfect. There are a lot of things in my life that need changing. In fact, anyone that is even remotely honest with themselves would have to say the same thing.

As the expression goes, "Be patient with me, God isn't finished with me yet." Though it is a bit of a cliche, there is truth in that. 

Philippians 1:6; 2:13 ESV - "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ .... [F]or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." 1 Thess 2:13 tells us that He works on and through us  through His Word, the Bible. We absorb His Word by reading it, by memorizing it, by hearing it preached, by meditating upon it, by discussing it with other believers. Full-immersion in His Word is the ideal for any follower of Jesus.

This, my friends, is an ongoing thing. Growth in our faith, as evidenced by growth in our walk, in our speech and actions and thought patterns. Rather than so-called "Resolutions" that we make on a late night once a year and then fail quickly, we should be growing daily, little by little.

Growth in faith and maturity, evidenced by a lifestyle that continually grows more and more Christ-like, takes time. Peter spoke of babes longing for the milk of the Word (1 Pet 2:2). The writer of Hebrews spoke of those that need milk and those that need meat (Heb 5:12-13). Paul used a similar expression (1 Cor 3:2). 

A human baby does not become a mature adult overnight; it is absurd to expect that. But on the other hand, for a person to REMAIN a baby and not grow up is a tragedy; to call an adult "childish" is an insult.

Change is necessary, and basically inevitable, for all believers. As I go through my daily life, absorbing God's Word, one thing I should constantly be on the alert for is what needs to be changed? Is there sin I need to confess, repent, and forsake? Is there a good work I need to be doing? What needs to be done to help me to be conformed, not to the world, but into the image of Christ?

image downloaded from Google Images
Don't make a "New Year's Resolution" and grit your teeth to accomplish it by your own strength and will-power, then fail miserably, then give up until the next New Year. Day by day, allow God, leading you by the Holy Spirit through His Word, to decide what needs to be changed in your life, and then to accomplish it FOR you.

Forget the world's version of "self-improvement". Embrace the work of God instead.

May God richly bless you all throughout this coming year!

Ron and the Debster