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Archive for November, 2009

BLACK FRIDAY

I can hardly believe it but, it has happened again—Black Friday. It has proved to be the longest day of the year for me. Up before 5 AM to make sure I am not too far back in the long line of shivering humanity, most of whom are holding cups of steaming something-or-other. It is cold and folks are moving about shuffling their feet, pushing their hands deeper into their pockets or blowing on them. Some are pulling the hoods of their coats or sweatshirts tighter about them. Like I said, it is cold!

Suddenly there is a stir ahead of us—something is happening up ahead. We can’t see the front door of the store as the line is long enough it bends around the front and down one side of the big building. My son and his friend and I are about halfway down that side. We see the reason for the stir. One of the managers has come out and gives some instructions on what to watch for once we are inside. Then he looks at his watch and says loudly, “One minute till the door opens!”

“Ooh, boy. we are literally down to seconds, fellas. Hang on!”

Suddenly the line begins to move and as I watch people are putting their heads down and beginning to shuffle forwards with increasing speed. It takes only a few brief moments and we have rounded the corner of the building and the lights at the front are before us—then the doors appear and before you know it we are inside. Some people are already at the check stands on their way out before I begin my search for the prized item I have focused on. Oh, me. Where is it, anyway?

Within a period of probably ten minutes I have found the items I want, along with some I had not intended to purchase, and I get in line for the check stands. I can tell this is probably going to be the longest stretch of the morning. There are really a bunch of people in front of me. Oh, well, patience is the word of the day.

Then the first really bad news of the day comes along. A manager comes up and asks us, his eyes scanning several of us standing in line at the point, if we are sure we are in the correct line. What? Oh, oh.

I was in the wrong line. I was in a line for people who were apparently purchasing certain “big ticket” items. I was told I would need to go to “that line over there…..” And it was a long line, let me tell you!

Friend, make sure you are in the correct “line” as you approach through life. Better yet, make sure you are in the correct “line” all through life, the one that Jesus has mapped out for you.

Blessings to you.

Pastor Bill

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DOOR CRASHER

This really was not my thing. Standing in a long line of people in front of the locked doors of a large department store, in the early-morning darkness, in the rain, and on a Thanksgiving Holiday to top it off! No. This really was not my thing!

 

It all began when my brother, who at that time lived a few blocks from my parents, got in touch with me to say he was giving our folks a gift for Christmas of a year’s subscription to cable TV. Hey, all right! That was an unexpected act of generosity on the part of my younger brother, let me tell you. But, he went on to say that he thought it would be nice if I were to get involved. (I should have known something like this was coming!) He went on to tell me that the television our parents presently had was in very poor shape and it would be nice if they had a new one for that cable to be attached to. So that was it!

 

My brother continued by stating he had seen a newspaper ad that indicated a local outlet for a large chain store was having the “grand-daddy” of all sales within the next several days. The advertisement included a “limited number” of high-quality, name brand, 19 inch color televisions. He suggested that if I were to choose to be so kind as to purchase one of them for my parents it would be an excellent Christmas present from my side of the family. My brother knows how to put the pressure on—in a nice way, you understand. Since my wife and I, who lived several hours away at the time, were going to be traveling to the city in which my parents lived for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I could go to that sale!

 

He concluded his “presentation” with the really bad news last. The sale was on Thanksgiving Day, yet! Not only that, it was between 7:00 and 9:00 AM! I had to wonder if there were no holidays that were sacred any longer. And it is barely light at 7:00 AM! Aren’t you supposed to sleep in on holidays? My brother suggested that I might wish to be at the door of the store a “little” before 7:00 AM, so that I could purchase one of these fine electronic marvels for my parents. Why, it would make the entire year that followed so much better for them! And they could really enjoy their new cable hook-up my brother would be providing them.

 

So, that is how I found myself standing in a long line of people, a light rain sprinkling down on all but a small group fortunate enough to be standing beneath an awning over the doorway, wondering how long it would be before daylight would arrive. Some folks had planned ahead and had mugs of coffee and umbrellas. I determined they must be professional “door crashers.” They had come prepared! They were ready!

 

As the hands on my watch crawled ever so slowly towards the unearthly hour of 7:00 AM, I began to count the number of people between the doors and where I was standing. It appeared there were about 50. A turn to look behind me, towards the end of the line, showed there were roughly another 150 people waiting for the “checkered flag” and the line was growing longer by the minute as people came into the parking lot from all directions, some of them running towards the line as soon their feet hit the pavement.

 

As I stood watching and listening to people I overheard a lady say, “Are you here for one of the TV’s?” The reply was a mumbled, “Yup. That’s what I’m after. Wish we could have more than one.”

 

Then I heard another voice, “They say they are back in the middle of an aisle by the Electronics Department . . . . . . And they only have fifty of them.”

 

Say, now! That last comment grabbed my attention—only fifty? I counted the number of folks in front of me and, sure enough, I was real close to being number fifty. What if all those people in front of me were after television sets. Oh, me! This could be close!

 

Suddenly I heard the sound of keys in the lock of the doors and, at the same time, the line began to surge forward. I pulled my hat down over my eyes and began to move along with everyone else. No sense going against the current in a deal like this! I wouldn’t want to slow anyone up, you understand.

 

As I squeezed through the doorway with several other folks at the same time it became clear that this crush of people were determined about what they were doing. As the group swept through the door and into a long left turn, some lay all restraint aside and began running up one of the main aisles of the store. Though I was unfamiliar with the layout of this business it did not take a genius to determine where the crowd was headed and I just rolled along with them, thinking to myself that this would not be a good time to trip and fall! Several people dropped out of the line to grab shopping carts and I suddenly found myself struggling to keep my place in the moving mass of people as a lady pushing one cart, and pulling another behind her, tried to force her way past me. Say, these people were serious about this!

 

The crowd of men and women roared into another turn, to the right this time, and headed down the stretch toward Electronics. Suddenly I realized I was meeting people who were going against the “current,” and they were packing huge boxes with pictures of a television set on the side. Hey, I must be getting close. Then I heard someone yell, “They’re going fast. One pallet’s gone already!”

 

Oh, oh. I realized the mass of people was slowing, while at the same time people seemed to become more focused in their determination to achieve their goal of getting a low-cost TV set. I looked over the heads and shoulders of those ahead of me and saw a huge mountain of boxed televisions sets that was disappearing with a speed that was utterly incredible. As I continued to struggle ahead I realized, in those tense moments, that I may have waited in the dark, and rain and cold for nothing. The boxes of televisions were almost gone!

 

Hmm. . . . . . I read a story a while back about a scene very similar to the one I have just described. In that case, the hundreds of people who thronged into the store to find the best bargains failed to notice a man who was trampled by the crowd. Nobody went to his aid as busy shoppers continued their mad dash to accomplish their mission. At the end of the day, when the store manager locked the doors for the night, he was shocked to see this helpless victim. The person on the floor looked vaguely familiar.

 

It was later learned that the stranger trampled in the Christmas rush was a man named “Jesus.”

 

In the New Testament, in John 12:20-22, we find these words:  “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.”



The account that follows these verses holds some powerful truths for each of us, but wouldn’t it be something if there were more people, especially as we enter what is routinely called the “holiday season,” truly searching and making a concerted effort to find Jesus. I suspect that we would be witness to some magnificent and positive changes in this world in which we live. As people watch us each day—those people who have never met Jesus—do they begin to want that which they see in us? I pray they do.

 

Oh, by the way, my parents did get a new television set.

 

Prayer: Father, please cause me to live my life in such a way that people I rub shoulders with and those with whom I have contact, will want to know the reason for my hope. Lord, may my life be such that it will cause others to seek Jesus. In His wonderful Name I pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill


Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Here in the Pacific Northwest we know about huckleberries, don’t we? They are those little, scrumptious, dark blue tongue-tantalizers which some people have a seemingly insatiable appetite for. If we happen to be out in the mountains when the huckleberries are “on,“ we may find ourselves stopping to pick them straight off the bush and popping them into our mouths. Oh, my but they taste fantastic! It is kind of like trout cooked over an open fire next to a mountain stream only minutes after they have been caught.

 

Yet, there are folks who don’t have huckleberries growing anywhere nearby and the only way they are able to experience anything close to that delicate taste is to purchase a small jar of huckleberry preserves in a gift shop (with a price so high they have to use a credit card to make the purchase!), or if they happen to dine at an elegant restaurant they might find the dessert menu including genuine huckleberry pie. Hey! You simply can’t beat a warm piece of huckleberry pie with a scoop of ice cream on top!

 

But there is something else associated with huckleberries—hard work. It can take a long time to fill a gallon bucket with those taste-teasers, let me tell you! Yet, when all is said and done and that piece of pie is setting in front of you, the hard work is forgotten. All you know is that your mouth is watering and the sharp scent of hot huckleberry pie is just about to overcome you. It is time to enjoy!

 

Ah, but what is all this talk of huckleberries? I am reminded of the goodness of God, demonstrated in the manner in which He takes care of us. In fact, we who have the privilege of living in this area of our nation are blessed with an abundance of the Creator’s beauty surrounding us—and that includes good things like huckleberries! In one of the Psalms the writer stated, “Better is one day in your courts that a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked . . . No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:10-11)

 

Hmmm. “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” How is your walk with God? I hope you are enjoying the good things He has for you.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for exquisite beauty of your creation that is all about us. Thank you for the reality of the “good things” you have prepared for each of us. Help me never to take for granted all that you have made for us, and all that you do for us. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Crrrraaaaccck! My head jerked up off the pillow and my eyes snapped open as the tiny, glassed-in room was suddenly filled with a blinding light and an ear-shattering explosion of sound, followed by a deep rumble that lasted for several long seconds. Moments later, my heartbeat barely beginning to slow, it happened again. By now I and my friend were wide awake. Say, now. This was supposed to be a quiet, restful and relaxing time! What happened?

 

As I groped around in the darkness attempting to locate my flashlight so I could check the time, my friend made the profoundly brilliant statement, “Lightning!” It was 3:00 AM and the two of us were both sitting up in our sleeping bags as we looked out the windows of the old Forest Service fire lookout tower in which we were sleeping. Our eyes would just begin to adjust to the blackness of the night when there would be another blinding flash, illuminating everything about us for an instant before we were plunged into the inky darkness again. After several such cycles I agreed with my “enlightened,“ partner that it was, indeed, lightning, and I lay back down, pulled the sleeping bag over my head, and attempted to return to sleep.

 

Daybreak the following morning brought an absolutely exquisite sunrise. It appeared as if God had arisen early to paint the sky with just the perfect colors, designs and images. No human could ever hope to match the scenes with which God gifted us that morning. But it was only the beginning. The following night I awakened to a stillness which seemed to envelope the old lookout. I got out of the sleeping bag and, being careful not to disturb my friend, went outside onto the narrow walkway which surrounded the tower. There was not a single man-made source of light to be seen anywhere As I looked I realized there was no moon on this night. But the sky was filled with an awesome array of stars which we rarely get to see living in “civilization.” As I stared into the Heavens I could not help but marvel at a sky, once again filled with the splendor of our Creator.

 

Folks, I must tell you that when I pause to watch a sunset or sunrise, when I walk the shores of an ocean staring out at the horizon, when I witness the violence of a mountain storm, or when I hold a tiny newborn baby—I think of God! “Big bang,” theory? Sure, it’s true. As long as we recognize the fingerprint of God, the Creator, in every part of it!

 

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” BANG!

 

Blessings to each of you in Christ‘s name.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the exquisite beauty of your creation. What a gift you have given us! Cause me to appreciate–truly appreciate–what you have provided us. In you Son’s Name we pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.


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WE RESERVE THE RIGHT……

Matthew 11:28

 

Some years back, and several hundred miles from home, I left the greater part of civilization behind me and traveled to the mountains for a time of rest and respite. In the early morning hours, long before any sign of light was showing in the sky to the east, I awakened to the realization that it would have been to my advantage to have taken a warmer sleeping bag. Wow! It was cold! As much as the sleeping bag would allow, I tried to curl up and wrap my arms around my legs in an effort to find some hint of warmth.

 

I finally drifted off to sleep again awakening once more shortly before sunrise. I made a hasty exit from the slight warmth of the sleeping bag and, with much shivering, shaking, moans and groans, got my clothes on and crawled through the small doorway of the tent and stood up. The realization that I could see my breath each time I exhaled did nothing to warm me up. I quickly went to work and soon had a roaring fire blazing away in an effort to chase the cold from bones.

 

As I turned back and forth in front of the cheery blaze, luxuriating in the heat my cold body was soaking up, I soon realized the sun was beginning to peek around the tall pine trees across the meadow from my campsite. I began to think how good it would be to sit down to a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and hash browns—but I had failed to bring any such treats like that with me. As I sat by the fire, the sun finally beginning to caress my back with its warmth, my stomach began to rumble. It was then the idea struck me I was not that many miles from a tiny logging community. They surely had a little café or restarurat that would be open at an early hour like this, right?

 

A shortly while later I parked in front of a tiny building with a small sign declaring thi this was a place with “great food.” The door was standing open, so I did not get to hear the clang of the cowbell hanging above it, which obviously announced the entrance of guests whenever the door was opend or shut. One elderly man and a young boy were sitting quietely, looking as if they had rolled out of bed only moents earlier. As I took my seat at a table I began to look around me. It wass soon apparentl that there was a single employee at work who had the responsibilities of waitress, cook and cashier—and any other taks that might come up in running this little café. She placed a menu and a cup of coffee in front of me, and declared that today’s special was two hotcakes, two eggs, two pieces of bacan and coffee for only $2.75. Say, now, that sounded like a bargain too good to pass up, and I told the young lady that would be a good enough breakfast for me.

 

I began to look around me after she left the table. Interesting place, it was. There was a large bulletin board with notes and posters related to activbities for the local school. There was a salad bar, measuring approximately 2 feet by 3 feet that was obviously used in the evenings. A sign above stated “All you can eat, $4.95.” To my right was the “non-smoking” section of the little restaurant—a single table.

 

On the couinter next to the cash resgister was a pan, a very black pan—a pan obviously blacked as a result of many trips to the oven.  Inside the pan was the days offering of homemade cinnamon rolls. A Christmas wreath still hung on one wall, even though this was midsummer. On the opposite wall, behnd the cash register, was a large sign in red letters that stated, “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE”.

 

Hmmm. That seemed as if it were a bit of a contradiction. A sign loudly proclaiming the possibility that you may not be welcome opposite a wreath commemorating the birth of that One who stated:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

Jesus Christ welcomes all who will accept His invitation to find rest for their souls. Have you experienced that rest? Why not worship in the church of your choice this next Sunday?

 

Oh, and by the way, that breakfast special was fantastic!

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the offer you have given to each and every human being to “Come,” and for the rest that you promise to provide us when we do. Yes, thank you, Father. In the Name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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GIDAP!

Psalm 119:105

“Gidap! Hey, you! Gidap!”

That is what you are supposed to say to get a horse moving, isn’t it? But this old brown mare did not seem to understand the same kind of language I had heard cowboys in old black and white western movies use as I was growing up. This horse must not have been trained right!

“C’mon! Gidap!” I tried again. This time I slapped the sides of my boots against the animal. Its response was to turn its head and give me what appeared to be an obviously “insolent” look as I heard the “swish, swish” of its tail behind me. It blinked its eyes slowly, stomped a front foot against the ground several times, and turned away from me.

“Say, now. This could get embarrassing! What was the matter with this old horse?”

I looked up the steep trail ahead of me, observing the backs of the two men who were with me as they reached a point in the path where they would soon disappear from sight. As I watched, the man nearest me, who was wearing a black western hat, stopped and turned to look at me. He put his hand next to his mouth and called out, “Are you coming? What’s the matter?”

Trying to sound as confident as I could, I yelled back, “No problem. I’ll catch up in a minute,” adding under my breath, “If this goofy horse will start minding its master! It apparently does not understand who is in charge, here.”

As I looked back up the trail I saw the two men disappear from sight around the first turn.

“C’mon, you horse! Gidap! Gidap! What’s the matter with you? Man, oh man, what are they teachin’ horses these days, anyway?”

This time I not only slapped my boots against the horse’s flanks but I began lurching up and down in the saddle and slapping the reins back and forth over her neck in hopes that the animal would get the message. No such luck! I had never seen a horse like this!

Of course, I had to admit that I did not have a great deal of experience with horses. I did have one stand painfully on my foot when I was about 10 years old. Horses can weigh quite a bit, you know. It hurt! I could not get that horse to move on that occasion, either!

Well, something was going to have to happen, and in a hurry! The two men who were on foot ahead of me were bound to stop for a breather and when I failed to come along one of them was sure to come back down the trail to see what was holding me up. That could be more than a little embarrassing! I would probably be hearing about it all week long. Yes, at least for a week!

The three of us had been chosen to go into a rugged mountainous area to clear fallen trees and brush from a network of forest trails. We had a mule—and yes, it was a stubborn one—to carry all the food and camping gear we would need for the week. We also had been given this old brown mare to ride. But there were three of us! That meant taking turns. I had been selected for the first stint at riding this old horse and now, here I sat, unable to get her to move. The mule, tied by a short length of rope to the saddle of the mare, stood looking at me, its ears twitching, almost seeming to have a smile on its face!

“Hey, you comin’ with us or not?”

“Oh, boy. I’m done for now,” I thought as I looked up to see the orange shirt of one of the men coming down the trail towards me.

“What’s the matter? Did you tell her to G-O?” he asked, spelling the word out.

“What?” I asked.

Bob smiled as he said, “You have to tell her what you want her to do. It’s either G-O or S-T-O-P.”

“You mean all I have to do is say, ‘Go’?

I had no sooner gotten that little two-letter word out of my mouth than the horse lurched forward, nearly throwing me out of the saddle, and started moving up the trail.

We certainly find life to be difficult at times, and that includes what might seem to be some of the simpler things related to walking through life as a Christian. Yet, if we are careful to spend time in God’s Word we will begin to understand that it contains within its covers an abundance of instruction and teaching for life. In Psalm 119:105 we are told “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”


You know something? That is absolutely true! You may be familiar with the acronym for the word “Bible—Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” I like that.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the in-depth instructions for life you offer each of us in your Word. Cause me to have an insatiable desire for all you offer me within its pages. In your Son’s Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill


Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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SOUNDING SAD

Psalm 105:43

“But they sound so sad! Don’t they sound that way to you, Dad?”


My daughter and her husband had recently moved to a new city and the noise of Air Force jet fighter aircraft taking off on a regular basis, only a few hundred yards from the doorway of the military housing unit in which they lived, had been replaced by the much quieter sounds of small city life. But there was a new sound present which they had not experienced before—the sound of train whistles. To my daughter, it was a “sad” sound.

 

During one of our discussions over the telephone she began to notice the sound of the train whistles late at night.  The community in which they lived had a large railroad yard and was busy around the clock with trains coming and going. It was early summer and the days and nights were already becoming warm to the point that my daughter and her husband would have a window open in their bedroom to allow cool air to circulate through the small apartment in which they lived. Though the railroad yards may have been clear across town, the sound of those whistles seemed to carry across the distance with an amazing clarity and, to my daughter, a mournful sadness.

 

A short time ago I found myself spending several days in that same city in which my daughter had lived. I had been in bed only a short time that first night when I heard, from far across town, the sound of a train whistle. I turned my head to listen more closely as the whistle sounded again. Did it sound sad?

 

Several times before I drifted off to sleep I heard the whistle on the train locomotives. Awakened during the night I heard, once more, the same sound being carried across the miles to where I lay. Maybe it did sound just a little bit on the “sad” side of things!

 

The word “sad” brings up numerous images in our minds. When I was a young boy we had a dog that could walk around with such a sad look on his face that it would tug at your heart! In fact, he usually did this as you sat down at the dinner table in the evening and, if you did not become skilled at ignoring him, you were bound to give him something to chew on just to get him to have a more cheerful look on his face.

 

Have you ever been around a person you considered to be “sad”? There are some individuals who wear a sad and mournful expression on their faces that seems to go along with a slow, shuffling walk, stooped shoulders and eyes that are most frequently staring towards the ground.

 

For the individual who has accepted the promises of God, sorrow and sadness are replaced with a refreshing joy! A joy which is accompanied by a zest for living which can be found only by that one who knows what it means to walk through life with the presence of Jesus Christ living within their hearts.

 

In Psalm 105:43 are the words, “He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.” The death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross, followed by His resurrection, provided us with the promise and the hope of everlasting joy! Do you have that joy in your heart and life? If not, why not locate a good, Bible-believing church and go there this Sunday. It can turn out to be the very best choice you have ever made!

 

Prayer: Father, help me to be ever mindful that I do have reason for joy—everlasting joy! Thank you for such a wonderful gift. Thank you, Jesus. In your Name we pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™   Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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